Monday, 23 May 2011

My Ultimate Bob Dylan Mix Tape. Not Playlist. MIX TAPE!

In honour of his Bobness' 70th birthday today (or yesterday, if you're on whichever side of the planet where it's now already tomorrow), and inspired by a quick Twitter exchange with an old buddy of mine, I decided to put together a mix tape. On an actual tape.

So I went over to my CD shelf and started selecting, a task made more difficult by my not having much space to keep all my CDs out. Luckily most of my Dylan albums are on the shelf. Some are in boxes in the big scary cupboard, along with my remaining unused supply of blank tape. But I persevered and picked out my choices for a definitive Bob Dylan mix tape.

I used to make tapes all the time, as my old car had a cassette player. But this will probably be my first in about 7 years. I'm mostly digital nowadays, with my iPod and whatnot. I've sadly fallen victim to my own need for convenience.

I miss the making and exchanging of mix tapes. It's so easy nowadays to casually drag a load of MP3 files into a list at the side of your library. I wish I had the time and energy to do my baby playlists as mix tapes. To actually have to think carefully about the musical goodness that had to inhabit two sides of 45 minutes was, despite the fact that you're effectively pirating music, an art in itself.

It was easy for me to select the songs. The tape kind of made itself in a way. These are the Dylan songs that speak to me the most, for one reason or another.

So, if anyone still gives a monkeys about this sort of thing, here it is:

Side One:

From A Buick 6
Shooting Star
Going Going Gone
Sugar Baby
SeƱor (Tales Of Yankee Power)
Most Of The Time
I And I
Love Sick

Side Two:

Simple Twist Of Fate
Dark Eyes
Heart Of Mine
Cat's In The Well
One Too Many Mornings
Diamond Joe
Ain't Talkin'
Series Of Dreams

Happy birthday Bob!

So that's my Ultimate Bob Dylan Mix Tape. Anyone out there wanna do a mix tape swap? Your fave Dylan for mine?

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Baby Playlist #4

'Goodnight, to every little hour that you sleep tite...'

Mrs L's tummy has been hosting a little party over the last couple of weeks. Little L has reached the point where he is exploring the use of his hands, and he's letting his mummy know about it! He's really reacting to sound now too. So much so that I think he's a Bob Dylan fan.

Last night I felt him move for the very first time! It was amazing, one of the best things I've ever experienced. It was just a ripple on her tummy, but enough to let us know he's there!

I'm also trying to imagine what he'll look like, whether he'll be more like me or his mum, and who he'll take after personality wise. Not long till we find out...

We've noticed that Smashing Pumpkins are getting played a lot at the moment. Their quieter moments are so richly textured and soothing, they just seem perfect for this exercise.

Here's his latest playlist. I'm also now thinking of full albums that would be suitable for him to listen to...

Marie Floating Over The Backyard - Eels

Falling Down - Oasis

Wonderwall - Ryan Adams

Every Grain Of Sand - Bob Dylan

Secret Garden - Bruce Springsteen

Feather In Your Cap - Beck

The Shock Of The Lightning - Oasis

The Way - Neil Young*

Blues Run the Game - Counting Crows

Mr. Jones - Counting Crows

Yalla, Yalla - Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros

Rhinoceros - Smashing Pumpkins

The X-Files Theme - Mark Snow

End Of Line - Daft Punk

Angel Dance - Robert Plant

69 Police - David Holmes

Farewell And Goodnight - Smashing Pumpkins


* This is the song that was playing when I felt him move!

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Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Blue Away In Blackburn

On Monday night I was in attendance at Ewood Park, with my 6 months' pregnant wife, my sister in law, her husband and the nephew for the City game. I went in to this week still on a high after City making the cup final - I don't have a very wide frame of reference, so let me enjoy my moment.

The only drawback was that we were sat with the Blackburn fans. So I had to keep my colours neutral, my head down and my mouth shut! I managed to just about keep it together, Mrs L was the one who nearly blew our cover!

For the opening 20 minutes we battered them, looking very confident and doing some lovely passing football. Then once Blackburn got back into it, the game became very even, they just couldn't get an opening up front. David Silva was very impressive throughout, after a slow start to the season he's settled in very nicely now. If I wasn't allowed to choose Carlos Tevez, I would probably pick Silva for player of the season.

The only let down, for me and probably most other City fans, continues to be Mario Balotelli. Sure De Jong continues to maraud around the midfield like a pitbull, but he's just passionate, he's not an idiot. Generally we are a relatively clean team. Balotelli just needs to grow up and get on with his football.

When Edin Dzeko scored on 75 minutes, from where I was sat the Poznan looked incredible. Even a helium-voiced Blackburn fan behind me remarked on how impressive it looked. Sadly the atmosphere of the home side completely sank after that and they couldn't get back into it.

So an away win. Very happy with that.

So, typical City, we've still got a nail-biting finish to the season, but with a cup final to look forward to - the first one since I was in my mummy's tummy! Hopefully we'll be able to keep Spurs at bay in the league and pinch 4th place. And that would make the best season in my lifetime.

On our way out there was a gathering of Blackburn fans by the Jack Walker statue, chanting 'Kean out' and when we were passing by in the car the police were breaking up a bit of trouble. It's a shame to see that kind of thing happen.

As a City fan though, I sympathise with the plight of Blackburn. It wasn't too long ago that we were caught in relegation scraps at the bottom end of the table. But now it seems like a lot longer.

Monday, 11 April 2011

He's 'So' 'Rock & Roll'...

I figured out quite early on in my adult life that drugs and alcohol weren't really my thing. At parties, you would be more likely to see me in a corner somewhere with a bag of sweets and a bottle of Dr Pepper than passed out in the bathroom with a rusty syringe sticking out of my arm with my face caked in a mixture of vomit and brick dust. Same with gigs. As a musician, I think it's disrespectful to the people who've paid money to see you for you to stumble on stage fucked off your tits. Even going to gigs as a punter, I'd like to be able to savour and actually remember the experience of seeing a band play some tunes.

There are some personal reasons for my decision not to partake that I won't be going into, but the main thing is that I always considered the music to be enough for me. If people feel like they can't have a good time till they're three sheets to the wind and/or gangsta tripping, then that worries me, quite frankly.

'Well, you're really fucking rock & roll aren't you?' - I can tell exactly what's on your mind grapes after reading the above. But I think that's my point - when exactly did it become 'rock & roll' to get busted for drug possession, or for fighting, or for being Pete Doherty, or to be forcibly escorted from a licensed premises because you've urinated somewhere you shouldn't have, or because you're Pete Doherty?

The face of Rock & Roll: looking good, Pete!

Surely the only behaviour that can really be considered 'rock & roll' is to play a kick ass show, and live long enough to play the next one? And I can do that, and have plenty of fun along the way just fine, without any chemical assistance thank you.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Baby Playlist #3

'Hold her, and keep him strong, while I'm away from here...'

So it's week 21. Our little bundle of awesome is coming along nicely.

We've decided on his name too. I'd say we're about 98% certain. Hopefully, when he arrives, he'll suit it!

Here are the songs we've been playing to him recently:

Landslide - Fleetwood Mac

Little Ghost - The White Stripes

Heart Songs - Weezer

Learning To Fly - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Untitled - R.E.M.

The Beat Goes On - Beady Eye

Take Care - Beach House

Shooting Star - Bob Dylan

My Hero - Foo Fighters

Proof - I Am Kloot

From The Morning - Nick Drake

Oh My Heart - R.E.M.

Forever - The Charlatans

We Have All The Time In The World - Louis Armstrong

Forever Young - Bob Dylan

Didn't Leave Nobody But The Baby - Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss & Gillian Welch

White Winter Hymnal - Fleet Foxes

Race For The Prize - Flaming Lips

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Another Review: R.E.M. - 'Collapse Into Now'

There seems to be a common template when reviewing an R.E.M. album these days - 'something something Bill Berry something 'Green' something something it's not 'Document' something.'

In this month's Q magazine, this album gets a bit of a trashing. It got 2 stars, which is a total, total nonsense. I'll bet you a shiny penny that the reviewer has a beard.

What you need to know is that those reviews, and indeed this one, are, ultimately, worthless. The only thing that matters is the music. At least I'll try to review it without looking at Big Bird's Big Book of Big Words.

I'm a massive R.E.M. fan, have been for most of my life, but I'm not blind to their failings. Of which this ISN'T one of them.

In my OPINION, I think it's the best thing they've done for years. It's easily the best of their post-Berry releases, after a run of disappointing (but not completely void of merit) recent albums.

One of the things I like about this album is Mike Mills' backing vocals, which are featured prominently. I've always liked the way his and Michael Stipe's voices play off each other. There's an impressive list of guests too, including Eddie Vedder, Peaches, Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye.

Personal highlights for me include 'Mine Smell Like Honey', 'Oh My Heart', 'Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando And I' and 'Discoverer'. There's a nice variety, which has been lacking recently. They've struck the balance quite nicely between big breathtaking rockers and slower acoustic numbers.

What's great to hear now though is that it sounds like a band that have rediscovered their purpose, that they're no longer just doing it because they don't know what else to do. There's still beauty and greatness in 'Reveal' and 'Around The Sun' and 'Accelerate' if you look for it, but here you don't have to. It's apparent from the moment you push play. In my opinion.

Actual, correct star rating: 4.5/5

Monday, 28 March 2011

A Review: Beady Eye - 'Different Gear, Still Speeding'

Yeah, I know, shut up. It's been out for a month. But I like an album to sit with me for a little bit before I pass judgement. That's how I roll.

I've never got the whole 'Oasis sound like the Beatles' rhetoric. Usually the person saying that, in my experience, is a massive bell end. Of course they fucking don't sound like the Beatles. Borrowed a sneaky couplet, chord change or guitar sound, yes, but no more than you or I. I always found such remarks to be patronising, both to the band and the listener/reader.

Having said that, I groaned, quite audibly, when I first heard Beady Eye's 'The Roller'. I was worried. The 'Instant Karma'-ness of the song could not be ignored. But when the album came out, I gave it a chance...

It's good, actually. Not life changingly great, but it's good. It's a lot better than I was expecting it to be. There's some really interesting sounds going on here. I like the retro rock & roll piano on 'Bring The Light', the driving rhythm on the ironically Dylanesque 'Beatles and Stones', and the Eastern sounding 'Millionaire'. 'The Roller' has even grown on me.

As an Oasis fan, I can say that it's the album they needed to make. Sure it wears a lot of the usual influences on its sleeve, but so what. It's four fifths of a band that ended rather abruptly. It's just as enjoyable to listen to as latter day Oasis, if slightly less memorable.

A lot of people are now eagerly awaiting brother Noel's next move. As am I.