Monday, 3 November 2014

Spain's Cosmic Country Rockers - Arizona Baby live in Gijon 1 / 11 / 2014

Arizona Baby - Photo Ricardo Suarez

Arizona Baby are a Spanish band who, believe it or not, do a really impressive line in Cosmic Americana.

Their brand of Gram Parsons / Byrds influenced psychedelic acoustic country rock really works well - especially in a live setting. For a band that only has two acoustic guitars, a drummer and no bass, Javier Vielba (lead vocals and guitar), Rubén Marrón (lead guitar) y Guillermo Aragón (percussion) have a surprisingly full sound and are reminiscent, both in look and style, of an acoustic Byrds circa 1971 .

Check out this video they did for the title track for the 2012 album The Truth.

Their 90 minute set at the Sala Acapulco in Gijon on Saturday night was outstanding. I really enjoyed them. Below are two highlights.

Their new album is called Secret Fires and is available on Subterfuge. Check it out. They have a knack for writing tunes that are both catchy and imbued with a sense of good cheer.

More stranger than known
20 years of the Xixon Sound

Horizonte Eléctrico - 10 Great contemporary Spanish bands...

Horizonte Eléctrico 2 - 10 Flamenco Rock Classics

Los Brincos - Glorious 60s Garage Beat Psych Pop...

Yé-yé! Spanish Nuggets - Ten 1960s Grarage, Beat and Psych classics from Spain. 

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Tribute to Jack Bruce - Radio Kras "In Campo Aperto" (podcast)

Jack Bruce

Last Friday night I had the pleasure of appearing on Gimi's "In Campo Aperto" program on Radio Kras in order to pay tribute to one of the best British bass players of the last 50 years - Jack Bruce.

Here is the podcast of the program we put together (in Spanish)

It features a few tracks form a fantastic concert Jack did with the BBC Big Band in November 2008 along with unreleased performances by Cream at the Ricky Tick Club in April 1967, the Spalding Festival in May 67 and Detroit in November 1967.

The tracks from the Ricky Tick (Sunshine of Your Love, Hey Lawdy Mama, Sweet Wine and Rolling and Tumblin) are particularly blistering and feature a band still in good humour and before the excesses and arguments of the last year of their history set in.

The Detroit performance in November 1967 at the Grande Ballroom (featured here are Steppin' Out, Train Time and I'm So Glad) is an example of three outstanding musicians at their improvisational best and pushing rock music to its outer limits. This is not necessarily "easy listening" music. At the time (and perhaps even now) it must have seemed almost avant garde and occasionally formless. Free rock even. It's challenging stuff and I would say that the Detroit performance is arguably superior to the later official 1968 live releases.

We also play tracks from West Bruce and Laing's 1974 Live album and Jack's brilliant debut solo album "Songs For A Tailor."

Jack Bruce was an outstanding and innovative musician who helped to revolutionize late 1960s rock by incorporating jazz and improvisation. This perhaps led to excess in less imaginative hands but also it made it more intelligent and complex - and interesting. Here we celebrate his life and contribution.

The program itself was somewhat improvised and we played what we had to hand on the night. Jazz radio.

Hope you enjoy it.

The discussions are in Spanish. The music is universal....

Radio Kras "In Campo Aperto / Intergalactic Sofa" - Tribute to Jack Bruce
Click to play in a new window or right click and save link

If the above link doesn't work go here and download

Rope Ladder To The Moon documentary
Here is Tony Palmer's excellent 1969 documentary which we mention in the podcast. A young Jack Bruce shows us around the Scotland of his youth, plays tracks from Songs For A Tailor and talks about Cream, music and the future.

More stranger than known
Cream live at the Spalding Bar-B-Que, 29th May 1967

Peter Green - "A Mind To Give Up Living" - The Blues of despair...

The Intergalactic Sofa - A Radio Kras Podcast

Freak Out! In praise of Improv

My Radio Kras Podcasts - From Punk to Funk

Thursday, 30 October 2014

10 Best Rolling Stones Live Tracks - Mick Taylor Years 1969 - 1973

The Rolling Stones in 1969

This selection of 10 (mostly unreleased) Rolling Stones recordings grew out of my last Rolling Stones at Chess Studios post. As I said there, the Rolling Stones are unique now in that unlike their contemporaries, the Beatles, Who, Byrds or Beach Boys, there are no official box sets or anthologies of unreleased gems, alternate takes or killer live material. However this doesn't stop the spread of some really classic material doing the rounds on the internet.

So, looking at what's available on Youtube, I decided to compile some of my favourite live Stones cuts recorded between 1969 and 1973 when Mick Taylor was the lead guitarist. Many, including myself, consider this period to be the band's most creative period. Taylor added a virtuosity they had previously lacked. In the 5 years he spent with the band, they recorded a string of albums which are now considered some of the band's finest - Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street, Goats Head Soup, and It’s Only Rock’n’Roll.

I also think that this was their peak as a live band. In the five years that Taylor was with them they went form being a band that was coming out of semi-retirement (as a touring band) and had to prove themselves to American audiences on the 1969 tour to "the greatest rock'n'roll band in the world" of the early 1970s.

Here are some recordings from the classic 69 - 73 Taylor years - mostly unreleased - which would surely gain a place on any Rolling Stones boxed set anthology.

1. Brown Sugar (with Eric Clapton on slide guitar) - December 1970
Raw and fairly rough sounding. Probably recorded on18th December 1970 at Olympic Studios in London at Keith Richards' birthday party.  It was a toss up which version to release. I think the band made the right decision as, although this version probably wins out on energy, the single version swings with a leaner, funkier feel.

2. Cocksucker Blues 1969
Not strictly live I know. Submitted as the band's last single for Decca in 1970. With a title like that the label understandably didn't want to know. Even so the band had fulfilled their contract and could therefore move on to a new deal with Atlantic which gave them their own label and greater control.There are a number of alternative versions of this knocking about including a full band version. I think this early version is superior if only for Jagger's vocal.

3. I'm Free - Live in Oakland. 1969 Tour of USA
From the "LiveR Than You'll Ever Be" bootleg - one of the first rock bootlegs ever released and still one of my favourites. Like most of the recordings from this tour, it has quite an informal feel and Jagger seems quite chatty.

After three years away the band have to work surprisingly hard to get audiences up and on their feet. A lot had changed since their last US tour in 1966 and the Stones now had to prove they really were “the Greatest Rock’n’Roll Band in the World” and could match the incendiary standards of the likes of the Who, Hendrix, Cream or San Francisco bands like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.

Although terminating in the disastrous Altamont festival, the tour was highly successful and put the band back on the rock royalty center-stage along with Dylan, The Who and the recently separated Beatles.

Originally released on 1965's Out Of Our Heads LP this version of is slower and has a pretty nifty Mick Taylor solo.

4. Roll Over Beethoven - Berlin 1970
Very few recordings of decent sound quality survive from the short 1970 European tour. Here is a revived and rather rough sounding Roll Over Beethoven. Keith takes the solo and the band rip through it and give it the definitive 1970s Stones raunch'n'roll

5. (I can't get no) Satisfaction - Leeds 1971
The Live at Leeds boot contains some of the best music the band have ever recorded. I have discussed its merits in more detail here  The Rolling Stones' finest hour - "Get Yer Leeds Lungs Out" This slowed down but mightily funked up version of Satisfaction is a highlight.
Sublime.The band at their peak.

6. Love In vain (Madison Square Garden, NY) - 1972
The 1972 US tour was an infamous, wild, drug-fueled ride through an America that had turned cynical and and pessimistic. The 60s dream was over. The Stones chaotic free concert at Altamont in 1969 had even, in part, helped to kill it. The band played amphetamine fueled 90 minute sets that tore through the songs and left everyone breathless, including Mick Jagger, who seems to bark out the words to many of the songs instead of singing them.

The singer may sound bored and the rhythm guitarist is starting to feel the effects of his heroin habit but new addition Mick Taylor comes into his own on this tour. His playing on the 69 tour seemed tentative but throughout the 72 tour he plays with total authority. On this version of Love In Vain he plays a stunning solo - both soulful and precise - and far superior than the one on 1969's Get Yer Ya-Yas Out.

7. Gimme Shelter - Philadelphia 1972
An absolutely breathtaking Taylor solo. A band at their live peak.
Listen to it twice. Both early and late sets. It's like having the inside of yer head tickled...

8. Bye Bye Johnny - (Madison Square Garden, NY) - 1972
More from the MSG show. Jagger introduces the band. Keith just can't wait - the band rip into it and the first one to the finish is the winner....

9. Midnight Rambler - Brussels, Oct. 17, 1973 (first show).
By the 1973 European tour the band had added Billy Preston to the touring party and were on the verge of sounding slick. Midnight Rambler is taken and breakneck speed and Mick Taylor spits fire.

10. You Can't Always Get What You Want - Brussels, Oct. 17, 1973
I have seen the band play this song with Ron Wood and, compared to this version, it just seems an overlong rambling directionless mess to me.

This, thanks to Mick Taylor and Bobby Keys' sax solo, is majestic.

More stranger than known
The Rolling Stones' finest hour - "Get Yer Leeds Lungs Out"...

Key To The Highway - The Rolling Stones at Chess Studios 1964 and 1965

The Faces BBC Sessions - 5 Guys Walk Into The BBC....

Amazing Journey - The road to "Live at Leeds". The Who Live in Philadelphia 19/10/1969