Art In The Woods
Ever since I began blogging, I have never pre planned what to write, it is gratifying that it is being read, thank you for coming back yet again to partake in my ramblings.
I have been out of action again tonight with one of those infernal headaches. I think drinking can get rid of a headache, I honestly do. At least I am willing to give it a try. The theory is, headaches are mostly caused by tension in the neck muscles, which is eased by the relaxing properties of alcohol. So, cheers.
Now. Have you downloaded my free track yet? It is a fab blast I promise. You will enjoy it, in a real groovy way so don't forget to find it on the Village Green Machine website. White Plastic Moccasins is free at the moment too, so you get 2 of the very best Village Green Machine tracks for nothing, at the moment.
What music have you been listening to this week? Just Village Green Machine? This week, we went in to record a song called My Decision To Be Free, which, in theory, was all set up to work.
The Stone Roses
I wanted to cross Thunderclap Newman with something else good, I forget now what the idea was entirely, but I thought it would work, but it is frankly a dud/ a Pete and Dud. Now, I have promised it will only be really good stuff which gets released, so I am scrapping this version. We may re record it next week, as a sort of camp-fire version without the drums, a bit like Tightrope by the Stone Roses. That should work. Since Christmas, I have completed a number of new recordings. There are several I am really pleased with, but 2 or 3 which simply aren't happening. Which reminds me of a conversation I had with Roses producer John Leckie. John was very keen to work with me and invited me to his home. He took me out for a meal, and to see Roger Mcguinn play at the Town and Country club.
The Dukes Of Stratosphear
He also sent me copies of his recent work, the latest of which was Dukes Of Stratosphear. He said that after the second Dukes LP, it was generally felt they had done enough, and that a couple of tracks hadn't really worked- apparently because they sounded like The Jam! I'm only repeating what he said! I see this week considerable space in the music press is being dedicated to The Dukes and their records, complete with, in Uncut, some very 'far out' photos of the boys in their psychedelic gear, liquid lights projected upon them. Of course any fool knows they were actually XTC, I believe in a more commercially successful guise. I will bet those Dukes albums still sell quite well. The project was probably conceived as something of a joke, but the results at times were quite astounding. The bass playing on 25 o'Clock is still influencing my playing. They were truly satisfying records. I was very sad indeed that nothing materialised with myself and John Leckie. I was very yong, he picked up on my second 4 track demo and frankly went overboard on it. But it was flattering to say the least, after all he was used to Pink Floyd and George Harrison. Just earlier today I was discussing my commitment to doing music with my father. It is things like Leckie's endorsement which keep me going, and also the incredible reaction of many who have heard England's Dreaming Spires. I have sacrificed a lot to do music, but I don't regret the price I have paid, I consider it worth it. I could have got a day job I suppose, but I have an absolute myopic commitment to what I do. I intend to make 20 albums in 20 years. You know, people will have to pay attention in the end, because we won't let up. Its a slow train. And I keep waving from the window.
Hello to the Bardot light show- I was always fascinated by those San Francisco style psychedelic light shows. They look brilliant in the photos of ,say, the Jefferson Airplane on stage. Aren't they just absolutely stunning? I know Mr Hoppy Hopkins did it here with the Floyd at UFO. I scarcely need ad that I would very much like a really good 60s psychedelic light show for any live work I do. The Bardot guy does the lights at the Sweet But Deadly nights in London- guys if you are reading, I am itching to come down and play, band and all.
This week I have been listening to the later recordings of The Animals, does anyone like them? I had always liked a handful of their singles, especially Its My Life, Don't Bring Me Down, and We've Gotta Get Out Of This Place. But there are other great ones, really bluesy pop records deviating from straight blues chord progressions. I have always also liked Inside Looking Out, a really savage garage blues rocker, and its 'b' side Outcast. Very primal. But I have found several other later tracks which I think are incredible, and so their status for me rises all the time. In fact I found myself wondering whether they were infact- here it comes- I really mean it- better than the Beatles. No? As good as the Rolling Stones? I can't find the case with the titles, but one I love is their version of See See Rider. And Don't Bring Me Down, is just superbly paced, with the really cool fuzz guitar, John Steels incredible feel on the drums, all in this bluesy pop record written I think by Carol King and Jerry Goffin. Its a class act, and so quintessentially 60s. But its '66, and that, well. That needs no further explaining. Music just seemed to reach an all time high that year, when you think what The Kinks were doing, Revolver came out, Aftermath, Brian Wilson, the soul and r&b artists, everything seemed to hot up to white heat pitch that year before exploding in psychedelic colour. Maybe '66 was the most psychedelic year, not '67. Almost everyone seemed to make some good records around then. The Move, Otis Redding, The Mamas and Papas, Del Shannon, the list is incredible.
Regarding the Animals, I find Burden's voice very satisfying and convincing and pleasing. He had a great vocal sound, their records just sounded brilliant in that low tech mid 60s way. They were very cleverly made, some credit surely being due to Mickie Most, a producer for whom I feel much admiration. Mickie just seemed to have great ideas for sounds- think of Donovan's Mellow Yellow with its incredible array of instruments, party atmosphere and sheer adroitness from the producers chair. Mickie never cluttered stuff. He also made stuff sound commercial without being corny, I exclude some of Herman's Hermits from that but having said this I have a generally excellent record by them which is a film soundtrack, mostly comprising fab jangly versions of PF Sloan songs, another hero of mine. And I still love No Milk Today, as you can hear from my song 'You Make Me Feel That Way'. I'd like to do an out and out pop album at some point.
The fantastic Sharon Tandy
Les Fleur De Lys
Now, I would like to know some examples of acid folk music. Do Pentangle count? Is it all obscure? It sounds very Wikkan to me. It takes me a while to get the hang of these terms sometimes. Freakbeat, I didn't grasp the idea straight away but I do now, and of course those sounds are an influence on Village Green Machine. Bands like Les Fleur De Lys, with their great 'Circles', and with that cool image too, just fantastic.The Creation as well, its the soundtrack of my life- of our lives I dare presume. I will just add that Hold On by Sharon Tandy, featuring the guitarist from Les Fleur De Lys is just my favourite ever record, it is just the greatest most exciting thing you could imagine if you have not heard it, you really must hear that one. That and See Emily Play, my other no.1.
One other band I have been listening to this week with refreshed ears is the Artwoods. Somewhere along the line, I have been changed into a more bluesified musician, in terms of my sensibility. I was in a great rock and roll band with Dave Kusworth, called The Rag Dolls. Then later I dropped the 60s thing for a while, and learned to play lead rock & roll guitar from 50's compilation albums, I learnt the solos on the Buddy Holly records, the Elvis records, the Everlies and so on.
Booker T and the MGs
Then I got into northern soul on top of Tamla. And to me it all sounds pretty bluesy. And I think listening again to the Artwoods I have the sensibility to really appreciate what they were doing. I read in Shindig! this week a review by Jon 'Mojo' Mills who says the new Artwoods compilation is vital. They were such a great band, with of course the young Jon Lord, and who was the fantastic drummer? I will look him up. They seem to me to have been a superb, slip sliding British Booker T and the MGs, another band who grow on me all the time.
Other things- I have been having a spot of trouble in the woods again this week. Actually when you go into the woods, there is, a police sign up which reads, 'any sightings text...so and so number. Any sightings of what? UFOs? Little Green Men? Buddy Holly? No miners are to read beyond this point without parental consent.
I will tell you some things. I saw a man and a woman in there, and how her back didn't give out I just don't know. and in fact, how the 400 year old oak against which she was being rammed didn't give way I don't know either. Really. I mean, not hidden away in the woods, but this was right in the open! And, here's this other thing. This is truly very strange. Some while ago, I saw a weird ritual taking place. A man was wearing a robe and kneeling down chanting. But, I saw something very similar a few days ago, (ps I hid behind a tree and tried to get a closer look without being seen) only this time it was 2 men, who had white robes on, the one man chanting a strange incantation over and over, ever more urgently, the other one replying, getting more and more wild all the time, jumping up and down going crazy! PS They were hanging onto each other as well! I'll tell you what, with one thing and another I could write a dossier, it has really been an education. I wonder if anyone could shed any light on these goings on for me. My friend in California Mr Nomo Gurus will no doubt be as concerned as I was! Then there's the other stuff which happens. I say!
A bit more Village Green Machine news. We have started recording a lot more onto tape, the first track being a new song of mine called Blood On The Rocks. This song is sparser than anything on EDS, with a harder edge and is influenced by early Who and Arthur Lee. It has wild electric guitar like Pete Townsend or an electrified Syd Barrett, with this jangly acid guitar break, loads of rolling toms and stuff. It is one of my best ever. We have a new drum sound on it too, deeper sounding. Plenty of tape hiss. I couldn't believe how great the drums sound on it, partly because its on tape. It seems to make a big difference. Also it is more ambient miked.
OK thanks for reading, I really would like to know who is reading so feel free to leave a comment, I will get back to you.
What about Bob Dylan having a number one album after 40 years? That's internet advertising for you. I am a great fan of Bob.
Mark Lemon - Village Green Machine