Studio Sounds

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Like any half decent crusty old cubist I’ve been drawn to the oval…work in progress at present…

I can rarely, if ever, have vocal music on whilst working in the studio. More often than not I’m inclined to jazz. I know lots of you probably hate it but I like to think that jazz is a bit like abstract painting…as the great Dave Hickey once said “those who care about it know where to find it but no one else gives a shit…” But of course what makes it helpful is the central importance of melody played off against improvisation. That, for me at least, makes it powerfully resonant with the way I engage with the working process. “Oh enough of this arty bollocks” I hear several of you say. And as it happens today I’m rather agreeing with you.

A decent painting is, after all, just like a good tune…take, for example the CD that just dropped through the mailbox this morning. It came about from me sitting at the breakfast table one morning a few weeks back and suggesting we got up off our bums one Saturday evening and go and see a live bank again. We don’t do it often nowadays, some large venue experiences with ‘big’ acts having put us off. But this was different – a smallish room in the back streets of Derby city centre – but with a great acoustic and a warm vibe (as us old jazzers call it). The gig was Corrie Dick’s band and it was excellent. I guess you could call it a kind of fusion jazz…some poppy, folky and world music sounds into the contemporary jazz mix. Lovely. But something made me a little sad.

I’m a bit crusty now, and apart from my missus, a fella sitting just behind us and the terrific Corey Mwamba (now the “musical Director’ or some such of the marvellous Derby Jazz), the rest of the audience (forgive me folks!) were similarly on our way to ‘knockin on heaven’s door’. Nowt wrong with that of course – we deserve to be serenaded on our way I reckon. But where were the young people – aha! of course they were the band! Now this is surely a shite state of affairs (apols to Renton) that the younger generation aren’t getting out to see what other extremely gifted young people are making. Maybe its just Derby…but talking it over with my 28 year old son…it seems a lot of them just don’t go out to gigs much, preferring their web connected devices. If so, sad.

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Anyway I bought the CD and it arrived today…not only that but with a handwritten note from Corrie. Well worth it and I’d say do the same and if they’re in your neck of the woods go check ‘em out live..

Whilst on the subject of music…two other recommendations.
Firstly I got followed here recently by musicophile. Goodness only knows why s/he was attracted to this place, when I discuss music its only ever “I don’t know much about it, but I know what I like’, but their blog is very rewarding.
As is Dave Whatt’s – its one of the few things that often makes me laugh out loud – but today I’m suggesting you dip into his Soundcloud account. It has its fair share of Dave’s wry and affectionate take on the human condition (that reminds me a bit of the legendary Derby trio of Kevin Coyne/Paul Warren/Ian Breakwell) but it is also really really good musical fun too. Damn these multi talented people I say!

So the net then. Good and bad really…just as always!

Lewis Alan Reed

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It must have been the beginning of the School term in the autumn of 1966, I sat down on the upper deck of the School Bus and one of the kinder six formers thrust a single into my hand.  He had taken pity on me a couple years earlier when my obsession with Manfred Mann had led me in several directions (they were probably the best of the early pop bands for that…namechecking Mingus as well as John Lee and Jimmie Rodgers and the Temptations, T-Bone and so forth) and often slipped me really good stuff from the States to have a listen to (where he got the stuff goodness only knows!).  That single was All Tomorrow’s Parties and I admit my first listen on the old Dansette made me wonder what the hell it was I was listening to.  I literally had never heard anything like it.

So began a lifetime’s passion for the work of Lou Reed.  The very fact that I’m up for a post exclusively about a musician says a lot (I try to resist going off piste to often in this blog).  I guess today’s mainstream media outpourings will mean Perfect Day will get a lot of airings…fair enough.  I have to be honest and admit that Lou had gone a little off the radar by the time of Transformer…but I was very lucky again to get an advance copy of the album in my capacity as Social Secretary at the Art School (a smart move by the distributors…) and it once again blew my socks off.  Not that we weren’t playing the Velvets at the time…in fact our ‘band’ at college owed pretty much everything to the second Velvets album!

And even though those recordings were critical to my musical education for me the pinnacle came later – New York really really does it for me…it brings out that wistful, laconic, streetwise quality of ‘the Man’ in a way I just love.

“stick a fork in their ass, turn em over they’re done”

Other Important Stuff

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I try as much as possible to discipline myself here to talk only of visual arts practice but of course there is a lot of other stuff that figures in one’s life besides paintings, drawing, sculpture and the like.  Music is a crucial component in my life and although I’ve never shown the slightest ability to perform it I love listening to others.  My tastes are eclectic in the extreme…I’m happy to go from Coltrane to the Carpenters or Formby to the Fall and pretty much everything in between.  Nowadays I find it hard to get that real buzz of excitement from a lot of new music.  In the broad contemporary popular field and jazz (the two areas I most listen to) it’s often hard not to think “I’ve heard that before…and done better” – it’s a curse of getting older I suppose.  But just occasionally something comes along that really makes you sit up and listen…Try this.