Gone but not forgotten, Kraut-y

Neu! release

Currently receiving a bit of airplay on yer more cutting edge radio shows, Portishead‘s latest release has been a big favourite round Plain Or Pan’s house this week. Chase the Tear (as in what you do to paper, not what you do when you cry) starts off bizarrely enough like Joe Jackson’ s Stepping Out before settling into a simplistic teutonic/Moroderesque/motorik/krautrockin‘ (delete where applicable) monster of a track. Sounding like the best bits of Kraftwerk and Neu! it makes terrific, no, make that Can-tastic driving music. Fun fun fun on the autobahn and all that.

Chase The Tear was released a couple of weeks ago as a download, with profits going to Amnesty International. Do the decent thing here. Or steal it here.

Bonus beats!

Here‘s Neu! doing Hallogallo. The 10 minute + lead track from their self-titled 1972 album is clearly ahead of it’s time. Bowie, Eno and even oor ain wee Simple Minds were taking notes. Thom Yorke would follow suit. It’s motorik, repetitive and very very good. I think you’ll like it.

And here‘s Kraftwerk‘s The Model. In German. Das Modell. Jah! (Just so you know, that last bit was an attempt at German, not an attempt at reggae patois.)

Cover Versions, Dylanish, Hard-to-find

Strokes Of Genius

Huge big massive “Happy Christmases!” all round to anyone who visits here regularly, irregularly or by sheer pot luck. Aye, I’m looking at all you faceless trouser arouser browsers who stumble onto Plain Or Pan when your search engine inadvertedly directs you this way in your quest for ‘teenage fanny‘. Norman Blake & co would die if they knew how half the hits on their website materialised. Anyway, now you’re here, feel free to browse around at the tunes on offer. Like these two three belters….

Now That’s what I Call A Christmas Single!

The Doe-Eyed Doonican Delivers! 

Julian Casablancas has released an uber-rare, uber-cool 7″ Christmas single. ‘I Wish It Was Christmas Today’ is limited to 500 copies worldwide, so if you’ve not already got it you’ll need to rob a bank before contemplating eBay. Aye. 500 copies. Worldwide. Which is a real catastrophe, as, no pun intended here, this record is a cracker. It reminds me a whole lot of Buzzcocks’ ‘Everybody’s Happy Nowadays’ (or is it Altered Images ‘I Could Be Happy‘? – Shit. It reminds me of both!) It’s a contemporary new wave classic that just happens to mention Christmas in the lyrics. And the song title. And the record sleeve. Which is a pity, cos I’m going to feel pretty stupid playing this on Saltcoats beach next July. But I shouldn’t.

I don’t care ’bout anything ‘cept hearing those sleigh bells ring a ding ding

Heard it yet? Whatcha waitin’ for?!?

Well. From the sublime at one end of the spectrum to the sublimer at the other. Sublimer? Is that even a word? Bob Dylan‘s Christmas album has came in for all sorts of snigger-snigger chuckle-chuckle reviews. Which I suppose was only to be expected. Old wheezy guy not known for jollity sings songs about Santa blah blah blah. Well, let me tell you this. The reviewers were wrong. Every last one of them. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Christmas In The Heart is a decent Dylan album. Decent inner sleeve too – see Betty Page above. Top notch production by Bob himself under the aptly named Jack White pseudonym. Like that Julian Casablancas single, I’d be happy listening to some of these songs in the height of the Scottish summer. It’ll probably be snowing then anyway. They’re (whisper it) better than some of the tracks on Dylan’s recent Together Through Life Tex-Mex snooze-fest. Judge for yourself…

Here Comes Santa Claus

Winter Wonderland

It’s only taken 20 years, but finally! Something to rival The Pogues for airplay in my house at this time of year.

With Christmas Day 5 sleeps away, this might be my last post until sometime between then and New Year. I hope to have some sort of audio present available for you to download at some point in the next fortnight. Drop by again. Even if you were only hoping to find some hardcore porn. A very different sort of strokes etc etc ad infinitum…

Jack Frost nipping at your nose. And ears.

Cover Versions, Gone but not forgotten, Hard-to-find, Sampled

A Right Coupla Tramps

Now and again I’ll get emails from people requesting stuff. Sometimes specific (“Got any Mogwai outtakes?” – Nope.) Sometimes more general (“Can you re-post that (insert anything from the past 3 years) please – Come on! Gie’s a break! “More Smiths!” “Radiohead!” “White Stripes!” “More soul please!”) OK! OK! More soul I can do. I like my soul music a lot. I think I have all the relevant bases covered in my collection. Just to make sure, I listen every Saturday night to Craig Charles‘ excellent Funk and Soul show on BBC 6 Music. As it says on the tin, the show covers a whole range of funk and soul, from the rarest northern to the most commercial Motown, the downright wilfully obscure and elitist to the phatest tooth-loosening funk-heavy slab of right up to date contemporary release. It’s probably my favourite show on the radio, ideal for cooking to if the mood takes me. You’d like it. Click on the link above and give it a try.

Otis Redding and Carla Thomas.

Anyone know who the piano player is?

Nothing particularly obscure and elitist here though. I’ve had a bit of a Stax attack recently. My 9CD 68-71 Complete Stax/Volt Singles Box Set has been given a good going over and Carla Thomas & Otis Redding‘s Tramp has had a fair few plays. When you hear the pistol crack drums and tight-as-a-teenage boy’s trousers horn section, it’s no surprise to learn it’s been heavily sampled by hip hoppers across the globe. Especially as there’s an instrumental version that made it out the Stax vaults a few years ago. The piano riff, with it’s big bluesy bass notes really does it for me. Who says white men can’t dance? If you want to listen to the complete track, here it is. If you fancy a bit of bedroom remixing, here‘s the instrumental track.

Tramp was also covered by Lowell Fulson. A fairly straightforward rendition, it’s still worth a listen. The guitar sound during the solo on Lowell’s track reminds me a lot of this…

‘Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms)’ by the Detroit Emeralds. I posted it a while ago, and I’m putting it back up purely because it’s a stone cold soul classic. It’s maybe not a piece you’re familiar with, but you’ll certainly recognise it. Doing their best John Peel impression, De La Soul took the intro, played it at 45 instead of 33 and used it as the basis for their ‘Say No Go’ single. You can read more about De La Souls’ other sampling delights here and here. And before you ask – Sorry. I cannae re-post the files. They’ve been missing since the internet police found them and nearly closed this blog down. Hence the reason I don’t re-post old stuff. The Grinch, that’s what they call me at home.

PostscriptI’m A Numpty

Oh dear! Thanks to the ever vigilant amongst you I now know that;

1. That’s Booker T in the picture above. How could I fail to recognise the greatest ever organ grinder alive? Duh.

2. Lowell Fulson wrote and recorded the original version of Tramp. Otis & Carla’s version is, indeed, the cover version. Oops. 

My team of highly paid researchers are at this moment being emailed their P45s. Thanks to James and Cold Iron Kevin who pointed  this out.

Cover Versions, entire show, Hard-to-find

All Tomorrow’s (Christmas) Parties

D’you think the irony has been lost on the three quarters of a million sheep-like Facebook users who’ve signed up to get Rage Against The Machine to number 1 with a song who’s main hook repeats “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me” about 327 times?

A better choice of download for Christmas number 1 would be this, if it were commercially available. Beck does the Velvet Underground‘s ‘Sunday Morning‘. It’s gorgeous. It’s the first track on the Velvet Underground & Nico album. But you knew that already. It’s also the first track from the first album in Beck’s irregular Record Club, available to view in video form over at beck.com. But you probably knew that already too. He’s since put up the second instalement (Songs of Leonard Cohen), but, hey, you know me, Hardly hip to the jive, I’m always half a funky footstep away from what’s goin’ down with the kids.

The whole album has been recorded with an assortment of special guests, and it’s a pretty faithful re-recording. Bits of it sound like the Beta Band (especially the pots n’ pans rattling take on I’m Waiting For The Man) Other parts sound a bit like (dig the irony again) Spiritualized and Spacemen 3, two bands who’d arguably never have been born without a love affair with all things Velvet. Anyway, the whole thing is worth hearing. Download slowly and see, here.

See you later, gotta run run run. Ouch.

Cover Versions, Gone but not forgotten, Hard-to-find

Led Zeppelin. Lionel Richie and Buddy Holly. My 6 Degrees of Separation.

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. Not only the words of the most famous golfer on the planet, also the words of me, the laziest blogger on the planet. It’s been over a month since my last post. I don’t really know where the time’s gone, but since that last post I’ve managed to turn 40, see the Trashcan Sinatras live 3 times (and it would’ve been 4 if I hadn’t been car shopping) and developed an unhealthy addiction to The Beatles Rockband on the Wii. So, time put to good use then. But I need to get back in the groove. I’ve got lots of blogging to do and seemingly not enough time to do it. So tonight I’m giving you 4 tracks – 3 obscurios and a Buddy Holly-related stone-cold rock n roll classic (more of that later).

First up, Alex Chilton‘s fantastic swing-jazz acoustic version of My Baby Just Cares For Me. If I was good enough on the guitar, this song would be my New Year party piece. Released in 1994, My Baby… found it’s way onto the record racks via Alex’s ‘Cliches‘ album, a vastly under-rated album of covers of standards that sold just less than zilch (Rod Stewart hit paydirt with a similar set of songs a few years later. Tssk.) As always, Chilton’s guitar playing on the album is to the fore. Soulful, jazzy and unpretentious, but flashy as fuck when he wants to be. Seek it out.

I’ve written a few bits ‘n pieces about Blondie before, but I don’t think I’ve posted this track. It’s the mega-rare French vocal version of Sunday Girl. Debbie Harry! Singing in French! Are you sitting down? It made me go weak at the knees. Beware!

Next up, a screamin’ and a hollerrin’ Little Richard pounding the Stones Brown Sugar into submission. High of pompadour and high of camp, I’m sure he sings ‘hear him screaming just about midnight’ at one point, making it more ambiguous and less about the black girls that Mick Jagger sang about. SuBO and your advisers take note, this is how a Rolling Stones cover should sound.

I’ve kept the best till last. I Fought The Law is better known in it’s incarnation as the all-out sonic assault on the ears by yer Clash, but you knew that already. You probably also know that the original was recorded in 1959 by a post-Buddy Holly Crickets, with Sonny Curtis on vocals. The Bobby Fuller Four recorded the best known of these early versions in 1965, and its this version that provided The Clash with the blueprint for their track. Listen out for the drum break at the ‘robbin’ people with a six gun’ bit if you don’t believe me. Apparently it’s none other then Barry White in pre Walrus Of Love days providing that very drum break, even if he didn’t make the group shot for the album sleeve above. Alex James from Blur said it on Radio 6 a few months ago and it’s a fact (?) that’s stuck with me since.

The reason I’ve included the Bobby Fuller track is purely for the crass excuse to name drop. After one of those Trashcan’s shows I mentioned, I was introduced to their new bass player, Frank Divanna. A fantastic musician who plays the bass like he’s wrestling a 12 foot long python, he regailed me with tales of session work with Lionel Richie, who had made for him a customised set of on stage ear pieces, presumably so that when Lionel sang ‘Hello…’, Frank could actually hear him say those words. (Laugh now.) He told me about the session work he does with any number of established musicians (Pearl Jam) as well as up and coming artists. And he told me about the project he’s working on with Tracy Bonham, daughter of Led Zep sticksman John Bonham. Apparently her house is full of original Zeppelin equipment, artifacts and the likes, but Frank seemed quite blase about this fact. Not so the next part. Recording a track, Tracy said that the song needed some dobro guitar on it and handed him this exquisite old instrument. “Be careful with that,” she said. “It was my dad’s…..and it belonged to Buddy Holly before him.” (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I’ve shook the hand of someone who’s held Buddy Holly’s guitar. That makes me part of rock ‘n roll’s true bloodline, surely?