Thursday, 8 November 2012


While on a lovely trip to Belbury taking tea with the vicar last week, we found a great curiosity in a local 'vintage' shop; a vinyl copy of Ron Geesin and Roger Waters' music from The Body.

The album is still in print, not surprisingly given the Pink Floyd interest, and provokes some quite contrasting reviews!

As fascinating and brilliantly strange as the music is, it really needs to be seen in context (like all film music. Discuss), so I was pleased to find a bit of Roy Battersby's 1970 documentary movie on the ubiquitous YouTube. Enjoy this (mildly NSFW) snippet.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Bring Back 1997

I stumbled happily upon Weller at the BBC last week. Whatever you think of his more recent output or his status as 'The Modfather', the man is something of a legend, and his 90s output is fantastic, at least in my book.

But what was this, nothing from Heavy Soul? My favourite Weller album overlooked! To right that wrong here's a little clip I found from Later... featuring the mighty Matt Deighton on guitar and the ever-funky Yolanda Charles on bass. Why the BBC doesn't get me to curate this stuff is beyond me.

Friday, 26 October 2012

"Ah, but if you look to your right..."

Being something of a Beatles fan, it had always been a source of quiet shame to me that I'd never actually seen Magical Mystery Tour. Beyond the difficulty of actually getting a copy, I'd always been afraid that it might actually be rubbish. If the Beatles had made a giant misstep at some point in their career, it was better that I didn't know about it.

Even when BBC4 broadcast the film recently, with an accompanying Arena documentary, I only felt safe recording it and leaving it for a rainy day. So imagine my surprise, gentle reader, when it turns out that Magical Mystery Tour is actually great!

In 'Revolution in the Head' (surely the best piece of music writing ever?), Ian MacDonald is scathing about the Beatles MMT-era output, describing their lack of focus, lack of quality control. And when you get inside his analyses of the songs, it's hard to disagree with many of his points. But the new Arena documentary pitched the Beatles as heroes and leaders of the counterculture in this period, and seen through this prism the film takes on new meaning. Sure, it's amateurish at times, but it's truly experimental and even challenging in places, and if the Beatles hadn't earned the right to experiment, then who had?

One thing I'm amazed that critics don't make more of is the influence MMT had particularly on Monty Python's Flying Circus. The whole structure of the film, from the disjointed editing, to the flash-forwards and flash-backs and dream sequences is similar to an early Python episode. John shovelling spaghetti onto Aunt Jessie's plate is surely a precursor to Mr Creosote, and Victor Spinetti's Sgt. Major must have inspired Cleese and Chapman's portrayals of officious Army types and shouty PT instructors.

If you've read this far, you'll probably want to get the new DVD of the movie, but do watch the Arena documentary too. It's not on iPlayer but has been uploaded to YouTube Dailymotion.

Magical Mystery Tour Revisited BBC Arena... by My_Beatles_Stuff

Monday, 15 October 2012

Autumn 2012 Mix

In the best mixtape tradition, here's a mix of songs that I've been listening to a lot over the last few months.

Monday, 8 October 2012

RIP Big Jim Sullivan

I was saddened to hear of the death of session guitarist extraordinaire Big Jim Sullivan last week, at the relatively young age of 71.

Sullivan's extensive list of credits reads like a who's who of the 1960s (and 1970s), but he was also a pioneer, being credited variously as the first guitarist to use a wah-wah effect on record, and the first to use a fuzzbox.

He was a master of the sitar, one of a tiny few in the UK in the 1960s, and released several albums of sitar music. He pops up in an episode of Space: 1999 'Troubled Spirits' (brought to my attention by my good friend the Vicar of Belbury) playing a spectacular and lengthy piece on his electric Coral Sitar. Suffice it to say that you won't find much like this on TV today.

Sullivan and his session-playing contemporaries really were the unsung heroes of the 1960s music scene in the UK. It's incredible how much of his work you've already heard. For me, nowhere is he better than on Serge Gainsbourg's Histoire De Melody Nelson, an album laden with the best session players of its time, including the hugely under-appreciated bassist Dave Richmond (about whom more another time).