Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Art - Suzanne Partridge

This is my favourite artist. I first came across her when she was painting in the gatefold sleeves of 200 Hey Colossus albums for Riot Season Records. She did them in a matter of months, and was posting them as she went along. They were staggeringly wonderful, and I actually had a slide show of them running on my PC for ages as a vast improvement on TV. A bit of research threw up that she is a fine artist. Anyway I shan't prattle on, there's just too much to explain so I will post some examples of what she does. The paintings are generally really big by the way, and photos cannot do them justice-

Those two are quite recent. Then we get some 'greatest hits' (well, in my head they are) 

(this one has an open wound from which a sacred heart has been torn)
and then just some detail from some earlier work- 

and here is a self portrait that I adore. It's not so much how she looks but it is very much how she feels... 
and she feels everything.
For exhibitions, commissions, sleeves (she's got a thing for designing LP sleeves!)

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Chris Wood - None the Wiser

Right this is brilliant. If you don't know this guy just take a few minutes to travel through the contemporary horror of market-town england with him...

Not surprisingly this is up for Best Original Song at the 2014 Radio 2 Folk Awards. I have wanted to write about Chris for a while now but couldn't get a handle on why. Now I know - the folk ghetto, whilst well-meaning, have got to let him go. Release him for the rest of the world to hear. He's one of the great singer-songwriters, up there with the Bobs, Neils, Crosbys and Jonis. Check this out (and notice how his whole body gets involved)...

"If we've done our best, we'll be ready for the rest, we'll just close our eyes and let go."
Part of my smalltown notoriety stems from my having missed every gig he has played for well over a decade now! He played The West End Centre in Aldershot on Valentines Night and I missed him again, BUT I was at his soundcheck this time and it's that, that I want to address, because it was astonishing. He's found a place. A new place. For the music to go. Or rather - where he can take it, or where it can take him. And I got to witness him trying to go there! On his own, in an empty hall. I don't know how much of this is conscious or not but he played and played and much was discussed between songs (Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band, pocket knives, Dave Grohl and that Soundboard, The Pretty Things, Wittgenstein, Blue Oyster Cult, William Blake, and lots and lots of musings about music) and all the time he was searching for something. He played and struggled. The music is incredible by the way, but that's because he's a master craftsman, it's a given. But what he was trying to do was use those skills and musings to get to that new area. And he did, twice. It's the sort of place ecstatic jazz approaches, but it's not jazz, and it's not folk. It's not American - it is very very english. But he wasn't content with that. He said something like "I can't find the magic" on he went, on stage, off stage, back stage. Thinking, playing, discussing. And then the third time was the one for me, he played Jerusalem! I'll post a version but it is warm. The one he played was deathly cold. A very tired man, in an empty hall, in a very tired and rundown place...nailed all of that in a beautiful mausoleum made out of sound. I'm not convinced he even noticed. Then I had to leave 

Don't miss him. Tour dates and albums here-

Sunday, 2 February 2014

The Pretty Things - The West End Centre Aldershot 1st February 2014

We had been joking about drugging them and stealing all of their equipment. How we (didn't) laugh when they actually turned up with a mouthwatering selection of vintage amps, priceless vintage guitars and drums. Apart from the leads/cables, everything on stage was from the early 60's (including 3/5ths of the band), and cumulatively worth more than my home! A very likable bunch of chaps, and off stage they dress like the heaviest grease rockers you've ever seen. The start of the gig itself was odd, they just shambled on, had a minor row and, in passing, mentioned who they were! The most modest start to a set I've seen - given what was to follow. The black jacket and tie look suggests one of those bands who haunt the chicken-in-a-basket circuit with their faded glories...WRONG! What we actually got was (deep breath) Weapons-grade garage rock band, in love with Bo Diddley, who rocked harder than the others, but matured so much faster...Raw garage rock brit r'n'b boom beat thuggishness flowering into beautiful acid rock guitar solos....pounding rockers twisting and turning into psychedelics...bliss-outs located somewhere between San Fran royalty (think Quicksilver Messenger Service) and Sonic Youthness...Onstage grouchiness and good-natured cheap-shots flying...they can still sing so 3-part harmonies in those lovely songs or Phil roaring out the rockers...very muscular acoustic blues section with great slide playing...Harp - imagine an acid rock guitarist arting out on harmonica...The young guns in the rhythm section dropping into all sorts of rhythmic tricks and traps and syncopation, every time the bass player swung around to look at the drummer you knew something fresh was gonna appear in the engine room - great way of keeping an old act fresh without interfering with the original genius...some Electric Banana...oh, a Bass Amp with it's own gravitational pull...

Then, near the end of the main set (of course there were encores) Phil makes an aside, and you suddenly realise their ages, and that 3 men in their late 60's just played the best R'n'R gig you've ever seen.

Two abiding images afterwards. A member of the West End Centre crew, who shall remain anonymous Neil, being handed a holy grail Fender Strat and becoming rooted to the spot with awe...for ages ha ha. And a guy on crutches hurtling past me waving a poster for autographs and yelling, by way of explanation "I've loved them since 1964, where's the drummer, he's the only one I haven't got yet" as he clattered off into the distance.