Archives for April 2012

Papa's Got A Brand New Bagpipe

Stuart Bailie | 10:42 UK time, Monday, 30 April 2012

The bagpipe and rock and roll have an interesting history. AC/DC have employed it with valour, while Wings made us unhappy with 'Mull Of Kintyre'. The guitar sound of Big Country was akin to the skirl of the pipes and there have been surprise contributions from Belle And Sebastian and even Eminem. There was no stopping Glen Campbell, who taught himself the basics and blew regularly on stage. I was also fond of Wizzard and 'Are You Ready To Rock', which was possibly a homage to Bill Hailey and his sporran-shaking hit from 1956, 'Rockin Thru The Rye'.
Now here comes Rufus Wainwright and an extremely moving song called 'Candles'. It stretches out for almost eight minutes and it finds the author bidding farewell to his mother Kate. When you think it might not get any more impressive, the bagpipes are ushered in and the emotions are supremely stirred. On the playlist for tonight.

Duke On The Roof

Stuart Bailie | 10:19 UK time, Monday, 30 April 2012

I'm in Duke Special's silver machine, rumbling at the side of a little street in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter. His iPod is wired into the vehicle's sound system and I'm getting a preview from his new album, 'Oh Pioneer'. The sonic method for this new collection is tuned percussion, some gurgling organ and the kind of exotic hum that Tom Waits channeled into records like 'Night On Earth'. Thematically, Duke seems drawn to people taking risks and steering to the far side of the map. That becomes apparent with the opening track, 'Stargazers Of The World Unite'. He's aiming for the great illumination and the characters who are ready for that reveal. Significantly, part of the song's action takes place on a roof above us, catching sparks over Gordon Street and Hill Street, lit up by the creativity of the Quarter's exceptional users. We listen and grin plenty.

Playlist 23.04.12

Stuart Bailie | 20:44 UK time, Tuesday, 24 April 2012

I've mentioned before that in the late Eighties I was a record company press officer in London. One of my charges was Natalie Merchant, singer with 10,000 Maniacs. The band was at its uppermost, their 'In My Tribe' record wowing the critics and becoming a benchmark for literary, collegiate cool. Their only rivals in that field were REM, and the indie kids were further enthralled by the rumour that Natalie and Michael Stipe were like, dating.
So I picked Natalie up from the Halcyon in west London and brought her to various media functions in the West End. I wanted to believe that she was gentle and empathetic and would regard me as a fellow bohemian. Unfortunately she was consistently cross, was not averse to sarcasm and I was definitely regarded as the underling of the afternoon. Oh well. As we steered into Soho for a photo shoot, the traffic became solid and we were stalled outside an old-fashioned butcher's shop. Natalie, I understood, was a vegetarian. She kept staring at the rows of little rabbits, still in their fluffy suits. Every time she gazed at the carcasses, she became more distressed. Why is this happening, she wanted to know. And in truth, I could not answer.

Walter Horton - Have A Good Time (Proper)
Jack White - I'm Shakin' (XL)
Ben Kweller - Jealous Girl (Noise)
The Band - Up On Cripple Creek (Capitol)
Bap Kennedy - Please Return To Jesus (Proper)
Bap Kennedy - Jimmy Sanchez (white)
Joey Ramone - I Couldn't Sleep (BMG)
Japandroids - The House That Heaven Built (Polyvinyl)
The Chieftains, The Decemberists - When The Ship Comes In (Universal)
Moulettes - Sing Unto Me (Balling The Jack)
Levon Helm - I Wish I Knew How It Would To Be Free (Vanguard)
Jack White - Missing Pieces (XL)
Euros Childs - Spin That Girl Around (National Elf)
Carole King - Pleasant Valley Sunday (Rockingale)
Rufus Wainwright - Out Of The Game (Polydor)
Natalie Merchant, Michael Stipe - April Showers (A&M)
Seven Summits - Fossils (white)
The Chieftains, Bon Iver - Down By The Willow Gardens (Universal)
Patrick Watson - Blackwind (Domino)
David Lyttle - This Moon Of Ours (Lyte)
Jack White - I Guess I Should Go To Sleep (XL)
The Band - The Weight (Warner)
Sweet Lights - Are We Gonna Work It Out (Highline)
The Flying Burrito Brothers - Hot Burrito #1 (A&M)
The Chieftains, Lisa Hannigan - My Lagan Love (Universal)

Levon Helm, Chris Ethridge

Stuart Bailie | 10:54 UK time, Monday, 23 April 2012

A lot of my Facebook pals have been linking into Levon Helm's music, particularly those precious scenes from The Last Waltz. The Scorsese concert film dates back to 1976 but it will never age. Shot on 35mm film and featuring all those ace players, it's the very best in company and proof that The Band could pull together the disparate elements of American music and make it all resonate. We've lost a lot of those guys now, Richard Manuel, Rick Danko and now Levon. And it's the latter musician, singing and playing drums on 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down' that moves the heart especially.
Levon's band mates were from Canada, but he was the real deal from Arkansas and he put himself so emphatically into that lyric about the Civil War. In the Last Waltz version, the horns were charted by Allan Touissaint, Robbie Robertson led the players, but it was Levon who made us understand the heavy heart of Virgil Caine in the winter of 1865.
Those same Facebook friends are sadly poised for news about Chris Ethridge, former member of the International Submarine Band and the Flying Burrito Brothers and a running mate of Gram Parsons. He is currently back in his hometown of Meridian Mississippi, apparently unwell. We send him love.

Dunlop: The Green Flash

Stuart Bailie | 17:50 UK time, Sunday, 22 April 2012

He's already been to Cougar Town and to One Tree Hill, but there's another exciting destination for Gareth Dunlop and his music. The Belfast boy will also soundtrack the final episode of the House TV drama. Not a slight achievement then, although the song in question, 'Trick Of The Moonlight' will surely be a match for the occasion.

Gareth Dunlop

Certainly, a full house at the Black Box will agree. They are also bought into the swelling potential of his songs - accessorized with a brass section tonight and the A Team of local session players. Constant plays of his music and sessions on daytime radio has attracted a younger, more expressive crowd. Gareth looks slightly bemused at the kerfuffle out there. Still, he brings fresh energy to the likes of old fave 'Firefly' and the revving dynamic of 'Fool's Desire'.
Like Foy Vance and Ken Haddock before him, his voice is imbued with gospel, blues and soul. It's a trail that leads back to the Celtic originator, Van Morrison and what the critic Greil Marcus calls the yarrrragh in his voice. Gareth Dunlop wears that tradition well, his songs have an emotional purchase and a rising authority. The producers of House have lucked out.

Playlist 16.04.12

Stuart Bailie | 20:46 UK time, Wednesday, 18 April 2012

In one of his more humorous outbursts, Paul Weller complained that you couldn't read the writing on CD sleeves. Remember, this is the guy that Noel Gallagher called "Victor Meldrew with a sun tan". His disposition isn't always cheerful. But actually, I'm with Weller on this one. Graphic designers still lay out their sleeves like old-fashioned albums, but these classic proportions require a font size of eight point or maybe smaller. Trying to read these designs in a shadowy radio studio sometimes results in high comedy as titles are mispronounced or fluffed.
I was especially enraged at the new Amadou And Mariam album, 'Folila'. The writing is tiny, but it's also hand written. Seemingly by a badly trained chimp. To enrage us further, the artwork is covered in colour smears and underlays, putting a severe challenge on the slightest comprehension. On viewing this abhorrence, my face contorted into many varieties of pique. My eyes narrowed and my mouth puckered. I... don't... believe... it.

Robert Parker - Barefootin' (Nola)
JD McPherson - North Side Girl (Decca)
Alabama Shakes - I Ain't The Same (Rough Trade)
Amadou and Miriam - C'est Pas Facile Pour Les Aigles (Because)
Howler - This One's Different (Rough Trade)
Kathleen Edwards - Sidecar (Zoe)
Grimes - Oblivion (4ad)
The Shirelles - Soldier Boy (Dino)
Grand Rapids - Feels Like A Lifetime (Pure)
The Beach Boys - I'm Waiting For The Day (Capitol)
Tu Fawning - Skin And Bone (City Slang)
Delta Spirit - California (Rounder)
Lee Renaldo - Off The Wall (Matador)
Azari & III - Hungry For The Power (Island)
Richard Berry - Louie Louie (Flip)
Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros - That's What's Up (Rough Trade)
Nick Cave - Nobody's Baby Now (Mute)
Spiritualized - Life Is A Problem (Double Six)
Rainy Boy Sleep - Shopping Centre Song (Hidden Art)
Buddy Rich - Three Is The Magic Number (Blue Note)
Cry Baby - When The Lights Go Out (Helium)
Paul Brady - You Win Again (Proper)
Jerry Lee Lewis - Today I Started Loving You Today (Mercury)
Rachel Sermanni - Eggshells (Middle Of Nowhere)
Robert Wyatt - Shipbuilding (Rough Trade)
The Skyranch Boys - Indigo Snow (white)
Woody Guthrie - Talking Dust Bowl Blues (Righteous)
The Spook Of The 13th Lock - Suffer The Wait (Transduction)

Playlist 09.04.12

Stuart Bailie | 11:08 UK time, Monday, 16 April 2012

Proper Records have just put out a tremendous box set, 'The Willie Dixon Story'. That's a bulging testimony to the songwriter, the performer, the bass player and the Music Man. He wrote 'Spoonful', 'Wang Dang Doodle', 'Back Door Man', 'Little Red Rooster' and many more. Like many of his era, he moved from Mississippi to Chicago, ready to charge the delta blues with electricity, wit and adventure. At Chess Records, he brought out the best in Howling Wolf, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley and scores of others. The Rolling Stones were massively changed by his style, and the likes PJ Harvey can talk up Willie Dixon for an age. So it was the perfect chance to playlist Willie, Muddy and Betty Everett. I'll be back for more.

Willie Dixon - Crazy For My Baby (Proper)
Alabama Shakes - Hang Loose (Rough Trade)
St Etienne - I've Got Your Music (Heavenly)
Gareth Dunlop - Fool's Desire (live session)
Gareth Dunlop - Tangled Up (live session)
Spiritualized - Too Late (Double Six)
Laura Nyro - profile
Tanlines - All Of Me (Matador)
Alabama Shakes - I Ain't The Same (Rough Trade)
Betty Everett - Killer Diller (Proper)
Strange Boys - Doeh (Rough Trade)
Spritualized - Freedom (Double Six)
Muddy Waters - Close To You (Proper)
The Subways - Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (cv)
Spritualized - Little Girl (Double Six)
Todd Snider - Brenda (Thirty Tigers)
Therek Bischoff, David Byrne - Eyes (Leaf)
Brenda Russell - Walkin' In New York (Dome)
Patrik Watson - Into Giants (Domino)
Willie Nelson - Graceland (Columbia)
The Skyranch Boys - Indigo Snow (white)
Ane Brun, Jose Gonzalez - Worship (Balloon Ranger)
She And Him - If You Can't Sleep (Double Six)
Spritualized - So Long You Pretty Thing (Double Six)

Blues for Gary

Stuart Bailie | 20:45 UK time, Friday, 6 April 2012

Here's a well-loved copy of the 'Bluesbreakers With Eric Clapton' album, an original 1966 pressing that has been played to the end of its functioning life. But no matter, because this particular copy was worn out by the teenage Gary Moore.

mayall album sleeve

It's a seminal record of course, with Clapton on the rebound from the Yardbirds, while John Mayall, John McVie and Hughie Flint all did their best to enhance the tremendous zeal of the sessions. The album actually belonged to Gary's friend from east Belfast, Graham McFarlane, but possession was negotiable, and a future blues legend was the beneficiary.
I was loaned the record on what would have been Gary's 60th birthday. A big thanks to Harry Lamb from the Woodstock Blues Festival. An hour after this lovely gesture and I was in the company of Bobby Moore, father of the guitarist, who had come to visit a Gary exhibition in town. He told me a little about his son's prodigious development and about Phil Lynott's stopovers on Castleview Road, just across the road from Stormont.
This album has another connection to the Belfast blues story in that the cover image, showing Eric Clapton reading a copy of the Beano, made comics cool. So it was perfectly acceptable for guitarist Eric Bell to namecheck a robotic character from The Dandy. This cyborg maid was called Tin Lizzie. But if you called your band Thin Lizzy, then the Dubliners would pronounce it as "Tin" anyway. So it was a Belfast joke, and it has lasted for a good 40 years.

Playlist 02.04.12

Stuart Bailie | 14:49 UK time, Friday, 6 April 2012

David Holmes used to play the live version of 'Try A Little Tenderness' out in his club sets. In theory, it shouldn't have worked. The sound quality is patchy, the tempo all over the place and the vocals missing the ideal pitch on occasions. But still it's one of the most intense soul moments ever. Otis Redding has arrived at the Monterey Festival, 17 June 1967 with Booker T And the MGs plus the Mar-Keys. He is blown away by this Aquarian spectacle. He loves the ladies in their mini skirt dresses and he changes the lyrics to express his approval. And while this is essentially a rock and pop audience, they are carried by the dynamism and the fierce joy of this 20 minute set. By the end, Otis is lifted out of his skin, hoarsely transported while the musicians take it to heaven. Otis tells everyone that he doesn't want to go, and that's no showbiz lie. He's having one of the nights of his life. Six months later and he'd be dead. Bless his heart.

BBC Radio Ulster, 92-95 FM
Mondays, ten - midnight

The Clash - Train In Vain (CBS)
Alabama Shakes - Heartbreaker (Rough Trade)
School Of Seven Bells - The night (Full Time Hobby)
Jonny Boy - You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes (Vertigo)
Paul Weller - Kling I Klang (Island)
Wallis Bird - Heartbeating City (Rubyworks)
Patti Smith - April Fool (Sony)
Desert Hearts - Wolf Down (No Dancing)
Alabama Shakes - I Found You (Rough Trade)
Justin Townes Earle - Baby's Got A Bad Idea (Bloodshot)
AM & Shawn Lee - Dark Into Light (18th St Lounge)
David Bowie - Soul Love (EMI)
Diagrams - Ghost Lit (Full Time Hobby)
Blind Willie Johnston - God Moved On The Water (CBS)
I Am Kloot - Titanic (We Love Records)
Jane Bradfords - Judicial Duel (white)
The James Gang - Funk 49 (See For Miles)
Alabama Shakes - Rise To The Sun (Rough Trade)
Paul Weller - Be Happy Children (Island)
Lambchop - Gone Tomorrow (City Slang)
Ben Harper - There Will Be A Light (Virgin)
Bonnie Raitt - Standing In The Doorway (Proper)
Six Miles North - The Last Perfect Day (Silver Tree)
Jim Moray - Hartstow Grange (VAG)
The Slow Show - Dirty Little Secret (white)
Alabama Shakes - You Ain't Alone (Rough Trade)
Otis Redding - Try A Little Tenderness (live) (Atco)

Let's Do Launch

Stuart Bailie | 08:31 UK time, Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The deep cleaning is just about done. The high visibility tabards are less visible now and the hard hats are mostly hung up. The MAC and the Titanic Signature building are on target, on message and ready for delivery. I've seen all the presentations and over the past couple of weeks, I've been party to the big reveals. Now we do launch.
Sure the MAC needs added content - a few Lowrys on the bare walls, a William Conor here and there, an Owen McCafferty play downstairs and a whole lot of arts workers inside, but that's imminent. Meantime the Titanic gift shop is operational and the swooning statue welcomes all. The immodest figurehead has been blessed by many denominations, beckoning us inwards. Upstairs, the exhibition ride around the riveters is impressive and you leave with a sense of the smell, the intensity and the grunt-work of a job this size. Now it's up to MTV, the choirs, the light shows and other spectacles to respond in kind.
In the middle of all this I was reminded of a long-ago time when my dad escorted me across Botanic Gardens to see an event called Ulster '71. This had been planned as far back as 1968, when Northern Ireland was a whole other prospect. By the time the pre-fab housing had been cleared and the exposition park had been fabricated, Belfast was in bits and the mission statement ("come and join in the fun") was a mocking retort.
So I'll not be carping on about the public expense in 2012. The fabric of our arts and culture isn't ideal, and with more resources to play with, the smaller enterprises might flourish better. But Belfast is also steering away from 30 years of defensive mentalities, providing actual and imagined viewpoints, getting a bit bold, challenging our reserve, our aversion to fancy notions, that small-minded default. History will say if it's all delusional or a significant change. Me, I'd really like to join in the fun.

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