triumph of the west 2

From Socrates to Caesar to Jesus to Constantine to Marx with a lot of wisdom and beautiful images in between.

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Granite Dozen

I have finally managed to get all my digital music on one device, pretty much all anyway. That still leaves out a vast amount which is on vinyl although some of that has been digitised and is on the device though quality not brilliant. Anyway this task makes it easier for me to create a to some extent random mix and behold another exercise in granite-working.

I’ll ski on to the tracks.

Canção do Amor Demais is a beautiful album where lyricist Vinicius de Moraes and musician Antônio Carlos Jobim got Elizeth Cardoso to sing for them. A ground-breaking album from 1958 with fantastic arrangements by Jobim and I love Elizeth’s voice.

The Jon Hassell track is really just a short thing but if you want to hear more of his music here’s a link to about an hour’s music from a 7 year old gig.

Der Ruf der Rohrflöte is a very atmospheric piece. When I shove it into Google translate I find it means ’The reputation of the reed pipe’. I’ve got the DVD of Nosferatu but haven’t watched it for a while – I must soon and I will try and spot where this track occurs, it’s track 10 on the soundtrack but that may not mean anything.

On my first Granite mix which was back in December, 2011, Wayne Shorter was included with a track from this same album. It’s not my only album of his but it’s just coincidence. I’ve thought for a long time that he’s undervalued as to how great a composer he’s always been. A friend told me the other day she’d been to see him with the Lincoln Center Orchestra at the Barbican and it’s good to see that maybe he’s starting to get recognition – since he’s 82 now it’s about time.

The Sinatra song is from a film called Higher and Higher which came out in 1944. I couldn’t find a clip of him singing this song in the film but here’s a 5 minute snip and there’s another song so you get the feeling.

Granite Mix 1 also had a track from Gang Starr there’s nothing really strange about this I know but I’m still worried. Shame what happened to Guru, but Premier is still representing as you can see in this clip of his set 3 years ago.

Lani McIntyre is perhaps not as well known as some of the other artists nor probably ever will be but I certainly was happy to find this clip of him with his orchestra and a bunch of sweet dancing girls.

Robert Wyatt first started to develop the political impact of his songs and music around 1980 but the album that first drew that together, Nothing Can Stop Us in 1982 only had one song written by himself, Born Again Cretin which was his first stab at writing a political song (at least first made public). Three years later he brought out Old Rottenhat and he’d managed to crack it with some really strong material that dealt with politics in an outstanding way. The song included in this mix is just as relevant today.

Finally to accompany the last track I’ve found a lovely clip of Sooliman Ernest.

here’s the mix

Granite Mix 12
Artist Title Album
Elizeth Cardoso Luciana Canção do Amor Demais
Jon Hassell Camminavo Nella Strada Sulla Strada
Popol Vuh Der Ruf der Rohrflöte Nosferatu
Wayne Shorter Armageddon Night Dreamer
Frank Sinatra A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening Frank Sinatra In Hollywood Volume 1
Gang Starr Form Of Intellect Step In The Arena
Lani McIntyre Chimes Hawaiian Moonlight
Robert Wyatt United States Of Amnesia Old Rottenhat
S.E. Rogie Baby Lef Marah Palm Wine Guitar Music: The 60’s Sound
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now we are sick

here i present another programme in the rock and roll years series – this time it’s 1960. if you look at the music of this year there’s not really that much to indicate what was going to happen in the next few years. one interesting thing about the pop music of that year is the incredible shortage of female contributors. in the melody maker top twenty charts for 1960 there are only 10 female artists involved. 2 of those are man, woman duos and one of those duos consists of actors in a film spin-off.

connie francis
the avons
brenda lee
the shirelles
connie stevens
kaye sisters
shirley bassey
sophia loren
nina and frederick
edith piaf

that percentage is incredible really although it’s actually greater than you might think because with the male artists it is the same old names cropping up again and again, with the odd novelty act like the piltdown men creeping in. there are some good songs though and i can recommend watching the show – you might learn something. incidentally if you have been following this series i have now corrected the faulty soundtrack in the 1958.

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Whiling

I bought myself a new amp some days ago, an AER Compact 60 III and in a time-honoured tradition I here present a recording using the new piece of kit, a 6 minute or so improvisation pirouetting around F7 and Cmin9 using my loop pedal. I called the piece whiling and so the post is called that too. Usually whiling is something done when you are whiling away. Without the away part it becomes something similar but perhaps not so pastorally pleasing.

Whiling

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Reading List 2015

some time ago i did a post with the books that i’d read in a certain year and this is a continuation of that. but this time it’s the books i read this year which currently is 2015 and here they all are

Title By
Ancient North America Brian M Fagan
Memoirs Vol 1 William T Sherman
Memoirs Vol 2 William T Sherman
Selected One Act Plays George Bernard Shaw
The March Of Portola Zoeth S. Eldredge
Trips To Mars Lucian
Narrative of New Netherland Various
The Faber Book of America ed. by Christopher Ricks & William Vance
The Red Badge of Courage Stephen Crane
A History of Europe JM Roberts (II)
The History of Louisiana Le Page Du Pratz
Galactic Pot-Healer Philip K Dick
By Night In Chile Roberto Bolaño
The Divine Comedy 1 Hell Dante Aligheri
Charles Bukowski Barry Miles
Mrs Shelley Lucy M Rossetti
A Life of Philip K Dick Anthony Peake
George Gershwin Alan Kendall
Miles Beyond Paul Tingen (II)
Misquoting Muhammad Jonathan A C Brown
Voyage around the World Bougainville
Summer Crossing Truman Capote
The Storyteller W.Benjamin (IV)
The Enchanted Wanderer Nikolai Leskov
White Rooms & Imaginary Westerns Pete Brown
Omoo Hermann Melville
Valis Philip K Dick
Across The Plains Robert Louis Stevenson
Utz Bruce Chatwin
Briefing For A Descent Into Hell Doris Lessing (II)
Selected Tales N.Leskov (III)
Cantata 140 Philip K Dick
Lost Illusions Honoré de Balzac
Hung Lou Meng Cao Xueqin
The Last Crusade Nigel Cliff
What’s Welsh For Zen John Cale & Victor Bockris (II)
Popism Andy Warhol & Pat Hackett (II)
Alfred Jarry A Pataphysical Life Alastair Brotchie
The Jugurthine War Sallust
The Letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montague
The Woman of Andros Thornton Wilder (IV)
The Diaries Andy Warhol & Pat Hackett
Letters Of Madame de Sévigné
When We Dead Awaken Henrik Ibsen
Visions and Revisions John Cowper Powys

i’ll write a bit about some of them not all because that would be too much.

the first one i mentioned in my last post so enough about that.

general sherman is one of those great characters they named a tank after him. anyone who gets a tank named after them must be ok?

the march of portola tells the fascinating tale of the european discovery of california. what a hostile environment that was back then.

i returned to the american civil war with stephen crane’s book which arguably helped to define war correspondence and cast a new light on the overall theme of war.

john roberts’ a history of europe can be seen as a companion piece to his triumph of the west series which i have posted the 1st episode and promise to deliver more in time. the tension between christian and muslim society grows ever more emphatic.

philip k dick’s galactic pot-healer is a very weird trip and i think it would make a fantastic film but you would have to have a lot of cgi for the underwater sequences. maybe not – a few plastic models floating in a tank might do the trick. later i read the biography very much around the time of reading barry miles’ book about bukowski. 2 californian lives.

whereas gershwin was east coast.

going back to the history of europe/christian/muslim equation jonathon brown’s book tries to shed some light on some of the important issues which seem to be becoming more and more vital day to day.

the new translation (2 years old by now) of the enchanted wanderer and other stories was something i had my eye on for a while. sometimes it pays to hold off immediate desires and play a long, laborious game of catch. the eponymous tale is a masterpiece and it’s all good.

i’d read all of bruce chatwin’s books (maybe not some obscure ones if there are any) except for utz so was glad to find this in a 2nd hand bookshop – oxfam at the top of park street in bristol i think but possibly elsewhere. whereas the leskov interacts with walter benjamin’s the storyteller essay then utz interacts with the unpacking my library essay.

and then straight into doris lessing’s briefing for a descent into hell. dantaesque?

eventually as the year staggered to completion i plunged into the world of jarry and warhol – an unnatural combination, one devolving into a world of poverty and the other becoming increasingly wealthy especially with death. both benefited from death one dying in his mere thirties the other lasting into his fifties. both difficult to measure exactly how influential. whatever i’ll stick with them.

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Chaco Canyon

I’ve written six songs this year, which is probably, I feel, about the right number. The first book I read this year was by Brian M Fagan and it’s called Ancient North America. Sometimes it can be a bit repetitive but it’s a good introduction to get you thinking about pre-Columbus North America.

The section that most fired my imagination was that dealing with the Chacoan Culture which flourished from about 800-1200 CE in what is now the San Juan Basin in Nevada. These were the ancestors of the later Pueblo and Navajo peoples and probably some others too.

One of the prominent features in the archaeology of the various sites in the area is the proliferation of turquoise objects. Over 200,000 turquoise pieces have been found.

So my first song of the year is called Turquoise. The first person of the song is a female craftsman/artist who fashions raw turquoise into artefacts. Maybe no women did that work, we’ll never know, but that is only one of the fanciful elements suggested by the lyrics. As usual I tend towards ambiguity, believing that to be the best way in the long run.

Anyway I went down to the open mic at the Grain Barge a few weeks ago and for some reason I sang that song, only the 2nd time I’d performed it I think. Mike Dennis who does a great job running the night told me that he was knocked out by the song and asked me if there was a recording of it. A few years ago I would often record a demo of a new song, but I got out of the habit and generally these days I can’t be bothered to do that. But the next time I saw Mike he mentioned the song again so I made the effort and recorded it in a rough fashion.

As usual, sorry I didn’t work a bit harder at doing it better, it’s just not in my nature.

Turquoise

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Quicktime Problems

I am aware that there are problems viewing the films in that the controls at the bottom of the film don’t work currently (or at least not in all browsers). In order to watch a film click on it and then use your space bar to toggle between play and pause.

This is annoying because it used to work ok. I’m investigating an alternative way of embedding the films but it’s not something I enjoy, hopefully I will sort it out soon.

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Rock And Roll Years 1959

The last couple of times I have posted episodes of The Rock And Roll Years I have put a list of first films of the year in question and secondly albums released in the year in question. I thought for this one that I would extend the range and I was thinking of poetry books published in the year, but it proved beyond my capabilities or maybe I just thought it wouldn’t work anyway so instead I’ve just repeated the films thing.

Films of 1959
Film Director
The 39 Steps Ralph Thomas
Les Quatre Cent Coups François Truffaut
Ben-Hur William Wyler
The Devil’s Disciple Guy Hamilton
Floating Weeds Yasujiro Ozu
The Gunfight At Dodge City Joseph M Newman
Hiroshima Mon Amour Alain Resnais
I’m All Right Jack John Boulting
Look Back In Anger Tony Richardson
Nazarin Luis Buñuel
North By Northwest Alfred Hitchcock
Our Man In Havana Carol Reed
Pickpocket Robert Bresson
Rio Bravo Howard Hawks
Shadows John Cassavetes
Some Like It Hot Billy Wilder
The World Of Apu Satyajit Ray

I don’t think I saw any of these films when they came out in 1959 but I almost certainly did see some films in that year when I was 5 years old. Most of these films I have seen at some time or another some in the cinema some on tv. A few of them I have either never seen or forgotten whether I’ve seen them or not and those are the ones that I would like to see most.

Here’s some random reminisces about some of them. Hiroshima Mon Amour was the first film I saw by Alain Resnais which was on BBC2 in about 1970 the first in a series of his films that they broadcast in the World Cinema programme which I think was late on a Thursday night back then. Other films included were Last Year At Marienbad and Muriel possibly more. When they first started that programme the first director they featured with a series was Luis Buñuel and the first film they showed in that sequence was The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de San Cruz from memory I would say that the film is about a serial killer who likes to hear a certain music-box being played while his victim is dying but I may be wrong about that. Also from memory I would say that there’s something correspondent with the look of the music-box and the miniature ballerina in David Lynch‘s Eraserhead but maybe that’s just my imagination. Nazarin wasn’t part of that BBC2 series and I can’t remember when or where I first saw it but it was much later. The first Buñuel film that I saw when it first came out at the cinema was The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie and that was in Jericho, Oxford.

The only time I saw Ben-Hur at the cinema was in Paris Easter 1975. It was dubbed into French so I may have missed some of the sense of the dialogue. One of the things it’s famous for is stuntsmen dying during the chariot race apparently this is untrue.

I would have given you a link to watch the whole film for The Devil’s Disciple but all the ones I could find are those ones where you have to click on a meaningless link and I just don’t trust those. I managed to find a couple of clips from the film (one of those I don’t think I’ve ever seen before) and the impression I got was that the American producer (Harold Hecht) in order to get the film to sell better in the USA emphasised the patriotic American elements and anti British army. Shaw‘s play is not really about that. Alexander Mackendrick was originally the director of the film but he was replaced during production probably because he didn’t approve of the way it was going. A number of Shaw’s plays have been turned into films but in my opinion never really succesfully. Please let me know if I’m wrong.

If there is one of these films that I saw in 1959 then that will be The 39 Steps and the more I think about that then the more it seems likely. I was 5 then and if the rest of the family wanted to go to the cinema it would have been simpler to take me with them rather than get a baby-sitter. And at that age I was perfectly capable of sitting quietly watching films for a couple of hours. Cinema for us then took place in Alloa, Clackmannanshire. I certainly remember watching this film very early in my life. The Forth railway bridge was just down the road from us and if we went to Edinburgh for the day to visit zoo or castle or both we would get the ferry along side it and fairly early on in my life I would have gone across the bridge in a train so the sequence of the film which happens on the bridge (pretty much copied from Hitchcock‘s superior 1935 version) would have been particularly meaningful for me. Later I read all the Richard Hannay books. I once wrote a song that was called Island Of Sheep. I’ve got the words somewhere but I can’t remember how the music went actually I could probably re-construct it if I could be bothered in fact I think I may have a recording of the music somewhere.

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end of august

I had to buy myself a new nylon string guitar earlier this year because I was having problems with the pick-up on my old one and anyway thought it was time to get a more expensive instrument. I chose a Taylor 314ce and I must say I’m happy with it. I’ve done some rough recordings recorded live at home not the best way to hear the guitar but quickly done that’s all I care really.

First of all I ran through Arvo Pärt‘s Für Alina – I could have played it better but there was no major mistake which can easily happen and also there were no cars driving past while I was playing. There was a dog I could hear barking but I can’t detect it on listening back. A car went past just as I finished so I left that in for good measure.

Für Alina

Also I recorded a version of my song Caspian Gates. There are some passing cars during this recording. Here are the words.

your mother gave you a motive
for your father to be dead
besides there were other reasons
for you to go ahead
you knew that you were better
of that you were sure
than a man who couldn’t cross a room
without falling on the floor

nothing comes to he who waits
i’ll meet you up by the caspian gates

to the land of the baby
brought up by a bear
came a man who as a baby
had been washed nearly everywhere
the story took you over
and led you in your mind
like a star that you followed
brightly as it shined

driven onwards by the fates
i’ll meet you up by the caspian gates

your bed fixed in the doorway
so all can see you lie
it’s a sight even sad enough
to make a horse cry
and when at last you come
to seek some sort of shelter
it won’t be siwa
it’ll end in the delta

with all your loves and all your hates
i’ll meet you up by the caspian gates

Caspian Gates

Actually I should have done a different song because I realise I posted the album recording of this song nearly a year ago. And I still haven’t updated the Music page on this site with some recordings from that album. Things will have to change.

Finally here’s an image of one of the contenders for the title of Caspian Gates – this is the Darial Gorge on the border between Georgia and Russia.

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granite mix 11

I think I mentioned before that this mix was to be a mix of things I’ve recorded from the radio over the years. It’s not something I do any more I can’t imagine spending the time. But I used to starting in the late 60s. At first it was to quarter-inch reel to reel. Then it was onto cassette which was what I recorded most of my radio recordings. Later I started to use mini-disc but by then I’d already slowed down in my recording habits.

The quality of the tracks is not brilliant in that they were recorded off the radio mainly onto cassette then in some cases kept for many years then digitised so there’s some crackle a bit of buzz and probably cases where there’s a subtle pitch change. I have mainly tried to make them live recordings in the radio studio or out at a gig but they may not all be – well one’s part of a dj set, that’s sort of live but there’s a couple I’m not sure about.

Thomas Morley was organist at St Paul’s Cathedral and composed many madrigals. He almost certainly knew Shakespeare as they lived nearby and London wasn’t that big back then apparently. He certainly wrote music for one of the playwright’s songs in a famous play. I don’t know who wrote the words for this song they are good.

Sleep, slumb’ring eyes; give rest unto my cares,
My cares, the infants of my troubled brain;
My cares, surpris’d with black despair,
Doth the assertion of my hopes restrain.
Sleep, then, my eyes, O sleep and take your rest,
To banish sorrow from a free born breast.

My freeborn breast, born free to sorrow’s smart,
Brought in subjection by my wand’ring eye,
Whose trait’rous sight conceiv’d that to my heart
For which I wail, I sob, I sigh, I die.
Sleep, then, my eyes, disturb’d of quiet rest,
To banish sorrow from my captive breast.

My captive breast, stung by these glist’ring stars,
These glist’ring stars, the beauty of the sky,
That bright black sky which doth the sunbeams bar
From her sweet comfort on my heart’s sad eye.
Wake, then, my eyes, true partners of unrest,
For sorrow still must harbour in my breast.

From a live concert of Paco Peña one of my favourite guitarists accompanied by another guitarist whose name I don’t know unfortunately. And I don’t know enough to say what type of piece this is siguiriyas or what have you.

Next is The Chemical Brothers well sort of it’s more like The Beatles really but it was a great moment when I heard this Essential Mix set one Saturday night in about 1996. Really you need to have more context than I’ve given here.

I was fortunate to see Paco Peña roughly around the time of the earlier recording and that is also true of this track by Oregon. I’m sure that the set on the recording is pretty much the same set that they did when I saw them in December 1990 at Hope Chapel.

This song by The Fall is taken from a radio session on the programme Mixing It which must have been sometime in 2005. Midnight In Aspen is the story of a dying Hunter S Thompson. I’ve got a better Fall radio session from an 80s John Peel programme but later on I’m using another Peel session. Anyway this is better sound quality.

I can’t remember when I taped this concert by Tadao Sawai but he died in 1997 so it must have been before then. The wikipedia page I have linked to only lists 1 album to his name which can’t be right. There are fortunately 2 albums of his on Itunes and for slightly less than 15 quid you can buy them both. Actually I might just do that.

From a Lou Reed gig broadcast on the radio in about 199? this is a version of A Dream which has Lou doing the vocals rather than John Cale who did them on the album (Songs For Drella) and the filmed performance of the album. I believe the words are taken from Warhol‘s diaries which I haven’t read but I will buy the book one day – gee wouldn’t that be great?

The Schnittke has a very quiet beginning – it’s a short piece and it’s very beautiful in a crystalline way. Without having listened to a great deal of his music I admire him greatly and I have got the underlying philosophy of his work and in a way shamelessly appropriated it myself. I can’t tell for sure whether I’ve included a full work here or just an excerpt of one, but I don’t see it matters and I hope he would agree with me

The oldest recording is this John Peel session which I did not record when it was first aired in about 1971 but later in the 80s when it was repeated. This session was issued on vinyl I believe in the Peel Sessions series and later there was a cd. Both formats are quite rare now. Syd‘s Two Of A Kind was only known to be recorded on this show – you can also find this on a compilation.

Finally a 1991 live concert recorded at the Royal Festival Hall. This was part 1 of the encore. Keith Jarrett is a very serious man and musician.

here’s the mix

Granite Mix 11
Artist Title Comment
Thomas Morley Sleep Slumb’ring Eyes Unknown performers
Paco Peña Unknown See notes above
Chemical Brothers Chemical Beats/Tomorrow Never Knows Excerpt from Essential Mix
Oregon Unknown Live circa 1990
The Fall Midnight In Aspen Mixing It session
Tadao Sawai Unknown See notes above
Lou Reed A Dream See notes above
Alfred Schnittke Voices Of Nature? See notes above
Syd Barrett Two Of A Kind John Peel session
Keith Jarrett Somewhere Over The Rainbow See notes above
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