Play For Today – Current Playlist, 12th January 2017


Currently working on several more substantial articles, but in the meantime, here’s what I’ve been listening to in the last little while; which quite a lot of actually new music, as it turns out…

julia kent

  1. Julia Kent Asperities (The Leaf Label, 2015) – a beautiful album of experimental cello music I like so much that I was moved to actual pay money for the vinyl version.
  2. BathshebaServus (Svart Records, 2017) – the forthcoming album from Bathsheba impressed me a lot; ‘atmospheric occult doom’ is something I’m actually a bit weary of, but the songs are great and singer Michelle Nocon has a Patti Smith-like authority that makes it all very compelling.
  3. Code – Lost Signal (Agonia Records, 2017) – I thought this EP of re-recordings (plus one new song) would be a waste of time, but no; really good in fact.
  4. Nick Mazzarella Trio – Ultraviolet (International Anthem, 2015) – the apparent contradiction of free, expressive jazz welded into tightly controlled compositions turns out to be a recipe for vibrant, gripping music.
  5. Ashen Spire – Speak Not Of The Laudanum Quandary (code666, 2017) – I have to admit the thought of melodramatic, A Forest of Stars-like artifice welded to doomy and atmospheric extreme metal is not something that always fills me with joy – but Ashenspire are more peculiar and less pantomimic in their theatricality than I expected, and the title song is one of several hugely effective compositions here. An acquired taste, as I assume it’s supposed to be, but one worth acquiring.
  6. Bruno Sanfilippo – Piano Textures 4 (2016) – beautifully evocative, modern minimalist piano pieces cover
  7. David Bowie – Hunky Dory (RCA, 1971) – This was my favourite Bowie album (actually, my favourite album) for years, but I hadn’t listened to it for ages. Being impressionable, the fact that a bunch of music critics voted it his greatest work sent me back to it again. I don’t agree, but I see why they think so; Bowie at his most accessible and (relatively) least artificial.
  8. Julie’s Haircut – Invocation And Ritual Dance Of My Demon Twin (Rocket Recordings, 2017) – hypnotic, psychedelic-occult-krautrock that is mesmerising without being boring.
  9. Cryfemal – D6s6nti6rro (Osmose Productions, 2016) Even though I wrote about how much I like Cryfemal here aeons ago,  I actually didn’t notice when they/he (Cryfemal is still just ‘Ebola’) released this album. It’s great – in theory nothing-special, bog-standard black metal, in reality that, only made fantastic by Ebola’s way with a tune.
  10. Nicole Sabouné – Miman (Century Media, 2017) – not 100% made my mind up about this, but when in the mood for langorous, Dead Can Dance-influenced baroque gothic pop, it’s definitely pretty effective.
  11. Uriah Heep – Sonic Origami (Eagle Records, 1998) – what could be less promising than an album by 70s rock dinosaurs, struggling to find their place in the post-grunge landscape of the 90s? And yet the mighty Heep rose to whatever occasion there was with warmth, grace and some understated rock tunes that still sound very nice indeed.
  12. Juliana Hatfield – Hey Babe (Mammoth, 1992) – still in the 90s, this alternative rock gem is a bit overlooked these days, but it still sounds great to me.julianahatfieldtop4
  13. The Veldt – In A Quiet Room (Leonard Skully Records, 2017) – my dubiousness about the current shoegaze revival almost made me overlook this great band, but I’m glad I listened;on paper their music is such a peculiar mix (experimental shoegaze + soul etc) but in fact it just sounds natural and right.
  14. Tom Waits – The Heart of Saturday Night (Asylum, 1974) – to me, this is the album where he first found his true voice and, if not quite as great as Nighthawks at the Diner, it’s still a collection of great songs.
  15. Claire Waldoff – Die Berliner Pflanze (Berliner Musikinder, 2001) – I’ve been fascinated by the art and culture of the Weimar Republic for years* (just as well; seems like that’s the kind of period we’re living in now) and Claire Waldoff’s music from that period (early 30s mostly) is incredibly evocative and moving, and a bit silly. Plus, I love her voice and I am one of the few people I have come across who thinks German is a beautiful-sounding language, so that’s a bonus.
  16. Tenebrae In Perpetuum – La Genesi: 2001-2002 (Ordo MCM, 2017) – I’m a sucker for Italian black metal (the most underrated black metal scene in the world, mostly) and this reissue of the early works of Tenebrae In Perpetuum captures the band at their most atmospheric and unhinged.
  17. Kathy McCarty – Dead Dog’s Eyeball Songs of Daniel Johnston (Bar/None Records, 1994) – Kathy McCarty did a lot to make Daniel Johnston’s songs palatable to people who don’t like the lo-fi home-recordedness of his early work (or his voice, for that matter) and this is still a great album in its own right.
  18. Queen – The Miracle (Capitol, 1989) – an oddity for me, I really don’t like Queen much after Hot Space but I bought this for 50p in a charity shop and so have listened to it a few times. It’s not great, but I like the title song and a few other bits & pieces; Freddie’s voice is always nice to hear.qveen

and that will do for now!

  • re. The Weimar Republic & its culture, there’s a great article about the photographer Marianne Breslauer here

Play For Today – Current Playlist 25th November 2016


After many delays, another week, another playlist…

1. Kristin Hersh – Wyatt At The Coyote Palace (Omnibus Books, 2016) Review herekristin-again

2. Stench Price – Stench Price EP (Transcending Obscurity Records, 2016)

3. Baby Tears – Succubus Slides (Choice Records, 2016)

4. Bethlehem – Bethlehem (Prophecy Productions, 2016)

5. The History of Colour TV – Wreck (Cranes Records / Weird Books, 2016)

6. Lush – Gala (4AD, 1990)

7. A Tree Grows – Wau Wau Water (Rufftone Records, 2016)

8. Kristin Hersh – Sunny Border Blue (4AD, 2001)

9. LL CoolJ – Radio (Def Jam, 1985)

10. Rachel Mason – Das Ram (Cleopatra Records/Practical Records, 2016) Review here!

11. Ela Orleans – Circles of Upper and Lower Hell (Night School Records, 2016)

12. Eric Dolphy – Out To Lunch! (Blue Note, 1964)


13. Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Forever (BMG, 1997)

14. Paul K – Omertà (2016)

15. Christine Ott, Tabu (Gizeh Records, 2016)

16. The Raspberries – The Raspberries (Capitol Records, 1972)

17. Isasa – Los Días (La Castanya, 2016)

18. Daniel Land – In Love With A Ghost (2016)

19. Miles Davis – Jack Johnson (Columbia, 1971)

20. Matriarch – Revered Unto The Ages (self-release, 2007)



Tea-table Books 1: Dust & Grooves by Eilon Paz


Tea-table* books is an occasional series devoted to the best books for casually enjoying while relaxing with a hot beverage. Usually large format and illustrated (yes, just like ‘coffee table books’), the best tea-table books are of course just as good when read from cover-to-cover, but their real charm is their ‘dip-into-able’ quality. But enough preamble: onto this particular example – 
*don’t like coffee

Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record Collecting by Eilon Paz (Ten Speed Press, 2015)

As fans of the excellent website Dust & Grooves will know, photographer Eilon Paz is fascinated with record collectors and their collections. The site grows ever bigger, and is a home to some great journalism as well as hundreds of beautiful photographs, but there’s still something special about this book. Necessarily more focussed than the site, if not exactly more portable (enjoyably big and heavy) it’s pretty simple: Paz photographs collectors in their record rooms, surrounded by their vinyl and (along with various writers) talks to them about the music they love and how they collect it. In the second part of the book there are great in-depth interviews with some serious collectors, including Sheila Burgel, Rich Medina, Gilles Peterson, Questlove and Jonny Trunk, among others.

The photographs are beautiful in themselves and are both revealing and extremely tantalising to pore over; what are all those other records on the shelves?  What does a launeddas sound like? (the internet can help with that; pretty cool as it turns out.) The people and their stories are hugely interesting and it’s nice that, whatever one’s own musical interests are, the people collecting country or hi-life records (or indeed Sesame Street ones) are just as fascinating as those whose albums and 45s one covets. Record collectors are interesting because people are interesting and music is interesting; and there are always more records to hear and more people to meet, so it is (hopefully) a very repeatable formula. Taste is a strange, illogical thing (I have a vast, unfinished article for this very blog that has so far failed to illustrate that point adequately, but may appear here eventually) and as the stories in this book reveal, for most collectors music has been a journey from one particular passion or field of interest to many, often barely related ones.

Though not a serious collector myself (more an unfocussed accumulator) this is a book that makes me want to collect records. And listen to them of course; it’s heartening that of the collectors in this book,all are first and foremost fans of the music they collect and not collectors and cataloguers of mere (if they are mere) objects.  So yes, it’s a good book.




Something of an experiment; reviewing an album while actually listening to it. As will be seen, the downside of this approach is that there isn’t much time for fact-checking and so forth and it leads to a lot of description rather than actual criticism, but I thought I’d leave it as it is to give the most immediate response to the record. In this case, a record I have heard lots of times before, which is helpful (and, if there were rules, cheating; but there aren’t). Anyway; the info:

Yaadon Ki Baaraat Original Soundtrack (Odeon Records, 1973)                                                               Composer/Musical Director: Rahul Dev Burman

Firstly; the sleeve for this record is a fantastic pop art design, presumably echoing the poster design. I haven’t checked to see what the story is about, but the cool guy with the guitar and the possibly less cool singer standing in front of a drum kit with ‘The Avengers’ written on it suggests a preoccupation with western pop/rock music, which is also evident on the soundtrack itself. Also worth mentioning is the lovely thick and heavy vinyl. But putting the record on now…


This amazing soundtrack suggests that for Bollywood, or at least for Rahul Dev Burman, whatever the calendar may have said, the year was really 1966; that heady period of spaghetti westerns, garage rock, late surf, early psychedelia, James Bond and Adam West’s (and Nelson Riddle’s) Batman. All of that is telescoped into the eighteen thrillingly eccentric minutes of side one; it may be (in fact the pictures from the sleeve suggest) that this for-the-time retro sound has something to do with the film’s storyline.

Side One
lekar ham diwana dil
Beginning with a roared ‘Hey!‘ followed by thumping, echo-laden percussion, fuzz and wah-wah guitars and a main theme which could be described as ‘Surf Munsters Go James Bond’ with added spaghetti western trumpet, this first track really has everything. There’s even what sounds like go-go dancer girls (how can it sound like go-go dancers? It just does!) singing a ‘shake-shake’ refrain, before Kishore Kumar sings the actual song with some classic Bollywood strings coming in for good measure. The verse is then sung again in the amazing unearthly high tones of (‘brimful of’) Asha Bhosle. There’s a great swinging beat – which in fact remains much the same for the majority of the album, and an expressive guitar solo and wah wah organ(!) This track sets out the basic texture of the album; distorted, strummed acoustic guitars (I think) with heavy percussion, all swimming in swimming-pool reverb. Kumar and Bhosle sing together, Bhosle groans sexily, there’s a bit of heavy brass and beat break with added ‘shake shake’s, lots of drama and then the track ends with a reverberating wah-wah-ed chord. One of the grooviest pieces of music you will ever hear.label1

aap ke kamre men                                                                               The rest of side one is taken up by aap ke kamre men, a peculiar, live-sounding medley of song fragments linked with dialogue (with odd phrases in English) and lots of rapturous applause.
Beginning not with a ‘hey’ but with a guttural ‘HAA!!’ and some extremely piercing reverb/fuzz guitar and deep, churning percussion, the first part features an instrumental break strangely reminiscent of the Rawhide theme and then abruptly ends with an eruption of rapturous applause. There follows some dialogue (sounds like a compere of some sort), mostly in Hindi except that it begins ‘Ladies and Gentlemen…’ and ends ‘the song goes like this...’
The next segment of the (sort of) medley is one of the album’s best tunes and pops up again and again through the rest of the soundtrack. It’s the ‘Yaadon Ke Baaraat’ tune, which starts out as a haunting, atmospheric, (again) reverb-laden flickering guitar part and a singer (probably Kishore Kumar again) humming and then singing the tune. After a couple of minutes there’s a very odd interlude with strangely watery-sounding beat guitars and a guy singing ‘zoo zoo zoo zoo’ before dissolving into laughter and more applause. ‘Ladies and gentlemen…. ‘ some hindi dialogue and another great guitar intro and more humming with more rapturous applause. As the not-quite-medley continues, it wanders down some strange avenues, not least a strangely bare segment where a male voice, accompanied only by bass, percussion and a deep halo of echo sings a peculiarly wandering melody. Even the most haunting segments are brief though, brutally cut off by the applause-and-announcer and once by a brilliant reverb guitar break.

About half way through the track there seems to be some kind of audience participation section, where the crowd joins in on a section with a folky beat flavour. At eighteen minutes, the long medley isn’t really all that long; but it includes several resprises of the ‘Yaadon Ke Baaraat‘ theme, a minimalistic drum solo, lots of laughter, strummed acoustic guitars and more Asha Bhosle; it’s groovy.
Side Two
o meri sonilabel2
This moodily dramatic song is perhaps the most (to Western ears) typically ‘Bollywood’ track on the album and opens with soaring strings over richly textured acoustic strumming. Kishore Kumar’s impassioned vocal has a slightly sillly ‘I loooove yooou’ chorus, but the not-unlikeable cheesiness becomes something far more substatial (but still a bit cheesy) with a great bass/guitar/string break and ascending string. The melody wanders and Asha Bhosle joins in with her own piercing beautiful ‘I love you’s and another verse/chorus. The song ends as a duet, accompanied by organ and strings; it’s very cool and then fades out
yaadon ki baarat – This time Asha Bhosle sings the atmospheric tune acapella before the brilliantly shimmering guitar part is reprised. The mysterious atmosphere is enhanced by multitracked Asha Bhosles, strings and organ; and then it;s over all too soon.

chura liya hai tum ne – This is one of the most beautiful of Asha Bhosle’s performances on the album. The song has a slow beat and big jangling guitar part and even a hint of Spaghetti Westernish sounding trumpet. There’s also a lovely violin solo

yaadon ke baaraat – The theme tune appears one last time, now sung by three male voices. The tune is as lovely as always but lacks the Asha Bhosle magic. It’s very possible that (as with opera) I just prefer female Bollywood voices to male ones.

As will be obvious, I know very little about Bollywood musicals or their soundtracks. What I have learned from the five or six I own though, is that Rahul Dev Burman was some kind of musical genius and Asha Bhosle sings like an angel. Both of these factors are prominent on the Yaadon Ke Baaraat soundtrack, which is a masterpiece of slightly kitchy grooviness, brilliantly performed and recorded.