Just one of our many Friday nights in Mexico was spent waiting for the call to move on – to meet Quasi Moto from Los Selvaticos – a gentleman and a genius both
- at Dirty Sound Foro for the "Rock y Lujuria" Concert. Of course we couldn’t leave for the gig before the arrival at our apartment of La Radio
Muerta – freshly arrived back to DF from lands unknown. He had messaged us at 12:52am that he was on his way by bus – but by 5:18pm we started to
wonder where he was. Time the illusion – time the distraction – for no matter when anyone that Friday night arrived on stage it mattered not. With Viv & the Sect, Los Selvaticos, La Radio
Muerta, Moyo Workin’, Bang Bang Bang y Los Espectros, & Los Cogelones (with another gig the next day while their previous audience was left to think and be lazy angels) – the who’s, where’s
and especially when’s drifted into insignificance. The night had a lineup that no festival on the planet could provide – least of all one city – and probably another 4 bands that could take the
same stage standing in the crowd – or as in the case of the last jam session night at Dirty Sound Foro – standing behind the bar. The golden light shines on the musical soul of Mexico – for
it is a land and people that deserves the light. Amor de la paz y el respeto a todos.
That particular Friday night at
Dirty Sound Foro we were treated to many different shades of great music - from the acoustic melodic poems of La Radio Muerta, the mod beat R&B of Viv & the Sect, the caveman garage pop
of Bang Bang Bang, the truthful experimental guitar blues of Los Selvaticos, Moyo Workin and Los Cogelones, to the soul-dance treasure trove of Denepa Panky & Junk
Wild's DJing in the next room. Genres genres genres - all that matters is that it was CLASSIC music. Every musician was there because they had to be and because they cared - to play
the music that they love. The fact that each of those musicians probably missed another band or DJ that they are fans of, playing in another venue somewhere else in the city, shows just
how rich the music flows. Some countries in the
World are proud of "originating" one form of music (or even one pop star), yet our time in Mexico was spent constantly discovering the endless forms, shapes and journeys of Mexican music
history. The task of trying to capture it all, write about it all or even listen to it all would be as impossible as catching the stars of the universe in a matchbox. To quote some
character from some hit Hollywood film, “some birds just aren’t meant to be caged” – and the Mexican Music we have seen and heard flies high above the clouds - beyond labels or genres and
especially beyond flags. Thank you to all of the musicians and souls who we had the pleasure and honor of meeting (Jess, Quasi, Rho, Aleph,
Daniel, Javi, David, Los Cogelones - you are all in our hearts) and also thank you (and sorry) to the beautiful souls who we were too high on music to speak to. Time the illusion - time the
distraction - if only we had the time to live it all again.
So now we recover our minds and souls from the floor and try to make sense of the music that poured from every room at Dirty Sound Foro that Friday night – as it will this Friday again wave on - be it a DJ set of love grooves by Elisse Locomotion or Carlos René, an outdoor concert for the people by Los Cogelones or a mystery midnight acoustic set on an empty coastline somewhere in Oaxaca by La Radio Muerta. All we can say is that we wish we were everywhere to hear it all.
An “official” Festival with some “official” bands we can’t remember “officially” happened that weekend as well. What little is known – even to well-meaning visitors from the other side of the World who are welcomed in with soul and heart – is that a Music Festival happens every week in Mexico – one where the music speaks from the people.
It is like an ocean – constantly breathing whether we are there or not. And Amen to that.
Little was said between us before we saw them and little was said after we walked out of El Mundano. We were still in a daze from Los Selvaticos when on stage the flag was set up for Los Cogelones - “They are a good band” said Alan, the Selvaticos guitarist who defined them in an understated word instead of a drawn out paragraph.
Their music is something not often seen these days - truthful, primal and yet beautifully original (alot like Mexico). While Hendrix needed to set his guitar on fire to make sacrifice - Los Cogelones simply open their souls with song. "Adonde quieres llegar?" is the best recorded example (so far) of how their music catches and hypnotizes your head. Go and see them live and you will be met with another hour of music that will invade your dreams.
Nothing can prepare you for the moment when you see a band that matters like Los Cogelones. The light shines – and everything you thought you knew comes into
question. Are they garage? Are they punk? Are they retro? Does it matter? Their online bio reads the words “Olvida todo y Vuelve a Empezar” – “Forget everything and start again” – which is
exactly what one has to do to understand where this music belongs – in the now.
So move on – step back – and get in time with Los Cogelones.
The year is 2016 and a new age shall arise where best musical moments can be made up of music that the artist hasn’t even released yet. Spooky I know – but not half as spooky as knowing that a songwriter like Lindsay Murray walks the streets of England and is not hailed by passers by as a genius. The only thing that I can put it down to is his changing hairstyles making him hard to be recognized.
23rd Century Man was Murray’s contribution to a split 45rpm with Paul Orwell released in July. The songs raw psychedelic Stooges-meets-Revolver
intensity shows only one of an endless Hydra of musical faces that his LP in progress presents. Factoid to back it up is that the song I woke up with in my head on New Years Morning was a
beautiful space ballad to the stars mooted as a possible future single - a song that if it met "23rd Century Man" in a bar would probably run outside crying.
The Hypnotic Eye leader has written some epic English pop songs in his new collection of tunes – but naming them would be pointless – it is not my right to. It
is my right however to have Lindsay Murray’s LP in my top 2016 picks next year as well – you know – once it comes out that is. Watch his space.
Aotearoa New Zealand seems to specialize in the concept of long overdue.
It would only be fitting then for a couple of kiwis to write a ‘blog’ in August (posted in December) about an album released in January, recorded 8 months previously and planned in the early 1990’s. As Isaac Newton, Pablo Neruda, or a healthy tallyho roll will tell you – time is immaterial – and when it comes to Sam Hunt and his brilliant collection of road songs – there is no past, present or future. Only the word exists.
The 9th is an epic album and profuse thanks to David Kilgour for the vision, ears and band to achieve a sound and music that (according to said
theory) probably won’t be exalted until we are all swallowed by sundown. Singling out songs for special treatment on an album of this greatness is dependent on the day of listening. Today is
Tuesday - a great day for "The Gunners Lament" or "the Second Coming" - but if you ask me on Friday I will tell you "Wave Song" or "The Seventh" - ask again on Sunday and you will get "War
History" or "Sara".
No award will suffice - nor will any word or blog that’s taken too long to write. Productivity is one thing… life is another… “days go so fast, so slow”…
As always – Sam Hunt says it best.
It was 2 years ago that we found Los Selvaticos on the internet while searching for new music at the edge of the Earth. The excitement we had in finding a band that played Link Wray’s “Run Chicken Run” was dampened by knowing that, due to the current global warming of the musical climate, the only probable way we were ever going to hear the band was by swimming to Mexico and seeing them live. A couple of Saturday nights ago our dream was realized in a suburban venue in Mexico DF – and holy running chickens were they worth the wait!
Of course – instead of playing to a stadium of 10,000 people they played at El Mundano to a (still screaming) crowd of about 20 people. It made no difference to us – last Saturday night the coolest garage band on the planet were playing upstairs above Salto del Agua Metro. And they don’t even have a record out yet. Yet.
Los Selvaticos are a three-piece band who define the 60s musical vibe of garage. Like many of the Liverpool bands who graced the stages of Hamburg in the early 60s – even their cover versions sound completely original. When I asked drummer and pocket dynamo Jess why they didn’t have any recordings yet, her reply with a smirk was “we are lazy” – this from a woman with the nuclear energy of a dozen Keith Moon’s – who – after hitting charismatic guitarist and singer (and brilliant artist in his own right) Alan in the chin with one of her flying drum sticks – continued to play snare with the palm of her hand. Lazy? Don’t believe it for a second.
Bass player Daniel completes the band with a precision and ritmo that shadows the other half of The Who’s legendary rhythm section, Mr. John Entwistle. He effortlessly makes sure the song doesn’t burn up on stage in a garage blaze. It’s a job that one person in a band this good has to do – and Daniel does it with the calm of an ocean.
So with dreams now reality and the memory of Los Selvaticos firmly implanted in the soul – the next step is praying for the day when we can buy their record. Something tells me it isn’t the band who are lazy – but a music industry slow in realizing what once made music great.
In the meantime – love, listen and dig – Los Selvaticos…
Paul Orwell has finally gone and done it – pressed an album that ensures there’s no need for a pointless review stating 5 out of 5 or 10 out of 10. No more need for blithering and no more need for predictions of grandeur backed with statements of starry eyes and devil-eared scepters. Is he the real deal? In a chewing gum pop world of pet monkeys and yesterdays news before sundown the only thing left to say is buy yourself a record player (or just borrow a friends lounge room for 45 minutes), give Heavy Soul the required squids (plus the insane postage amount if you live 12, 000 miles away) and listen to why Paul Orwell has made one of the best debut LP’s since Noel Gallagher last wore a rain coat on stage. Whatever the price - whatever the weight - it will be worth it.
Of course pop music isn’t important (you’ve heard it all before) and of course Paul Orwell will only become headline news once he’s joined the army, starred in a b-grade movie and had his soul removed at the altar of Moloch’s knee caps. All one needs to do is hear songs like Payback, Like I Did Before, Here and Now, Little Reason and Fangz to know that one can say something without spelling it out. Paul Orwell says it all in a buzz and a blur – with killer pop tunes (14 to be Los Beatles precise) - all soundin' like singles.
The only thing that makes us lose faith in this LP is the fact that this album has been getting scratched and over-played in an outback house somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere – instead of sitting at the top of the UK charts. Whatever that feat being achieved would mean is another story… over to you Paul…
Favorite songs at the moment: Payback, Badblood (take your pick)
We know... he likes Kanye now... his call...
There is no more romantic cornerstone to the history of human art than the idea that great art is born from a state of crisis. Paul McCartney’s 1971 opus “Ram” is one of the most pure musical examples of such a belief. It is an album upon which the “cute Beatle” was to lay all of his problems on the table – and not just his problems with fellow ex-Beatles – but his problems with the abstract world as a whole in all of its fragmented sixties pieces. His problems in the first song alone list those who are “going underground”, those who are “reaching for a piece of cake”, those who are “looking for their lucky break” and even those who are “preaching practices”. His opening salvos is against the inactive and the lazy. It was as close to Picasso as music was ever likely to get – Paul McCartney’s holiest singular vision. What does the greatest songwriter on the planet do after being in the greatest band of all time? Answer: go to a farm in the North of Scotland and write music with the love of your life. Create. Be an artist. Plant trees if you need a rest. Maybe even ride a horse. But only do it because you have to. Only make music because you have to. The words that I would want to utter to the great Sir Paul if his bent ear ever lent my way – would be to tell him that people can take their Dark Side of the Moons and Ok Computers to the Armageddon of sad old chin-strokers – for Ram could be released tomorrow and sound like it was recorded in 10 years time. It is an album that trades sun for darkness then back again – an album that reads like a musical novel in a way which Sgt Pepper could only dream of. In other words – Ram is a masterpiece (again... we know... he likes Kanye now).
Whether Paul had just one eureka moment or a series of smaller tokes – one can imagine that Paul was a pretty cocky sod taken down from a perch by the time the Fab Four folded arms and no longer
held them out as eight in equal form. Chances are that Paul might not have known until he heard the playback of “Smile Away” in the studio head phones that he could make godfibre music as good as
his old band (at least in our bleedin' boook... and Alan Partridge's).
By the time side two of the album has begun Saint Paul has already let you know that he can do it all – from the mad children’s opera of “Uncle Albert” – to the guitar driven blues of “Smile Away” – to the choral call of “Dear Boy” – to the up tempo, country jazz of “Heart of the Country”. The whole album is something that no one ever gives Paul credit for – for Paul is never thought of as the ultimate tortured artist. For all the millions of words devoted to “sappy Paul” – there is no sweetness found in “Monkberry Moon Delight” – so don’t get left behind. The five-and-a-half-minute altrock screamer is a warning more than an open “fuck you!” It is Paul at his most honest – an artist opening up to his audience about where he is at – yet with one arm held out and one arm holding off – the King of the Geminis – ego always getting in the way of saying ‘I love you’ too often – again the perfect trait of the tortured artist – for the tortured artist is not the comet that sparks like a flicker – the Johns or ones who are crucified for their cause. The Rembrandts and the Beethovens lived into ripe old age and Leadbelly played live in grey-haired old time haka pose – just as Picasso cast shadows of art until he keeled – for they were the ones who lived through the dramas and wore it on their shoulders – the ones who lived not the ones who died – for the ones who live are the ones who feel the pain. Ram is even more than a simple message to John Lennon. Paul would never have been that focused in his anger or hurt. Ram is a broad statement that he can be as interesting as the Beatles – for he is an artist unto himself – and anyone who dares knock this theory needs to tell me the last time they listened to Band on the Run or McCartney for that matter?
Was John Lennon right all along? Was the break up of the Beatles really that important? Did it really matter? Opinions are free in the modern world – and we are all living Raphaels – all living artists and spinners – but of what? The substance of Ram most would love. Wait for the finale of the ukulele fade out on the “Ram” reprise – bleeding quickly into the epic ballad of the Mexican borders of “Back seat of my car”. It is the sound of Paul and Linda no longer being lost – just on the journey. The song – like the rest of the album – begs the world to stop wasting time – for love is long but life is short and Paul is busy working on another masterpiece about us all – living in a state of crisis - so we'll shut up now...
And we know... now he likes Kanye...
Warning: Contains words on a subject that have been spoken about (many times) before...
‘A Hard Day’s Night’ by the Beatles is a mono vision. When you put it on – while reading this article of course – make sure you put it on loud. The first thing you will realize is that John is listening to Elvis & Roy Orbison – and dreaming of writing love songs – for that is John’s greatest artistic triumph – the Libran tender pop love song – the songs not just about Yoko – but about his first wife Cynthia. “But when I get home to you – you know the things that you do – will make me feel all right”.
These are songs written by a man who “never realized what a kiss could be” – who implored us to believe that “when I tell you that I love you – you’re gonna say – you love me too!” No bug-eyed stares in bed while in protest – no thin long face nor puzzled gaze. This was John at his most powerful and alive – the electricity of belief in his eyes.
John’s lyrics on the first three songs – yes – he swamps the start of the record like an arrow nosed leader of the battalion of Beat – are all soaked in the strains of Elvis. He tries to write “Wise men say only fools rush in…” and it comes out as “If I fell in love with you would you promise to be true?” – so glory to the Beatles and glory be to John – the patron saint of all Librans – the one who screws it up at the last minute – not from bad intentions but from lovable indecision. The one thing to remember is that he tries to remain pure at heart – and who could really hate a beautiful loser? Sometimes that is all we are.
The album of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ is special in the Beatles musical cannon. It is the only album that the Beatles recorded which contained solely “Lennon-McCartney” compositions. It stands alone as the greatest triumph of their pop career – a hit single monolith than stands, track for track, as a classic pop artifact. Every song on Side A alone sounds like a radio hit (or youtube hit if you watch the film) – from the throwaway Carl Perkins-like strum of ‘Happy just to Dance with you’ to the midnight-blue solo of George on ‘And I Love Her’. There are so many great songs that on first listen you will think that you have put on a greatest hits album – but that, my dears, is the power of the Beatles. They let you catch breath on a song like ‘Tell me why’ – the classic Buddy Holly rock and roll that John could write in his sleep – only to follow it up with the knock-out punch. ‘Can’t Buy me Love’ could have been the title for the album – (if - according to Paul - John wasn’t so pushy haha). To love Paul is to love ‘Can’t buy me Love’. Of course he is just trying to write a Motown song – and who wouldn’t in 1964 – as the Stones rear their ugly heads. But give me a break – the Stones never match ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ – for no movie (nor interview for that matter) exists where the Stones are memorable by first name only (but who am I to compare apples with oranges).
The album is a soundtrack – not just to the film – which cast the boys as the stereotypes they have struggled to break out of even to this day – but to the year of 1964 itself. The film was responsible for casting the idea that Paul was a sentimental love soaked fool, that George was somehow the quiet one, that Ringo was happy-go-lucky and as lost as a puppy. Above all, it somehow created the myth that John was the cynical one and not the Cynthia one – that he somehow wasn’t the one with a smile and the one singing tender love songs. The accolade of the balladeer for some reason went to Macca – right at the time when he was singing a twisted bent which Ray Davies only dreams of – the sound of ‘Things we said today’ – possessive and frowning in the love letters – questioning whether love was nothing but a matter of luck –
“These days such a kind girl – seems so hard to find”
No blossoms held aloft in English Commons for Paul on ‘A Hard Day’s Night’. No lost in love beauty or lovey dovey smootchy songs either. Paul’s lyric and tune are grit teethed and melancholic – English folk blues at its finest. It is an album of constant depth and an album of constant surprises – that keeps getting electric rock’n’roll currents in between the pop hits.
After the bass riff single of ‘You Can’t Do That’ the album fades away – not with a bang as it bangs enough already – but with another melancholic McCartney harmony in the background of ‘I’ll be Back’. They should have turned up Macca’s vocal in the mix – but, then again, perfection in art is nothing – and satisfaction of conquering the world starts to feel bitter in the end. By the time the minor chord fades out it becomes apparent that the Beatles will soon be for Sale and yet the moment of triumph has only just begun.
To read this blog (again?) and other words on music - visit Graham Reid's great site Elsewhere.