Friday, 11 December 2020

Tom Waits ‎– Franks Wild Years (1987)

Style: Blues Rock, Alternative Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Island Records

01.   Hang On St. Christopher
02.   Straight To The Top
03.   Blow Wind Blow
04.  Temptation
05.   Innocent When You Dream (Barroom)
06.   I'll Be Gone
07.   Yesterday Is Here
08.   Please Wake Me Up
09.   Franks Theme
10.   More Than Rain
11.   Way Down In The Hole
12.   Straight To The Top (Vegas)
13.   I'll Take New York
14.   Telephone Call From Istanbul
15.   Cold Cold Ground
16.   Train Song
17.   Innocent When You Dream

Accordion – David Hidalgo
Banjo, Guitar – Marc Ribot
Bass – Jay Anderson
Bass, Upright  Bass – Larry Taylor
Bass, Pedalboard, Horn – Greg Cohen
Guitar – Morris Tepper
Organ, Piano – Francis Thumm
Backing Vocals – Angela Brown, Leslie Holland, Lynne Jordan
Organ, Piano, Accordion, Organ, Pedalboard – William Schimmel
Violin, Horn, Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone – Ralph Carney
Percussion, Congas, Drums, Glockenspiel, Maraccas, Marimba, Bells – Michael Blair
Organ, Guitar, Congas, Drums, Tambourine, Vocals, Mellotron, Organ – Tom Waits
Producer – Tom Waits

For well over a decade Tom Waits, now 37 years old, has been turning out rock albums that have won critical plaudits and a cult following but haven't sold in the millions. Yet he keeps getting them made, and in the meantime he's blossoming as a film actor and playwright.

His last album, ''Rain Dogs,'' was named by Robert Palmer of The New York Times as the best pop record of 1985. He composed the soundtrack for Francis Coppola's ''One From the Heart'' and acted in Mr. Coppola's ''Rumble Fish'' and ''Cotton Club,'' as well as a starting role in Jim Jarmusch's ''Down by Law,'' seen in this spring's Cannes Festival and scheduled for release this fall. Right now, he is playing the title role in a play he wrote with his wife, Kathleen Brennan, for Chicago's prestigious Steppenwolf Theater, and in 1987 he's scheduled to collaborate with Robert Wilson on some sort of vanguard music-theater piece in Munich.

Mr. Waits's Steppenwolf venture, ''Frank's Wild Years,'' is playing a sold-out run through July 20 in the new Briar Street Theater here. It cannot be counted a complete success, but there are reasons for its problems, probably correctable ones. Right after the Chicago run, Mr. Waits and his band (which plays in the show) will record its songs as an album. And at some point, the hope is to re-stage the show in New York, where Mr. Waits now lives.

All along, Mr. Waits has seemed to be playing the same part, so consistently one presumes the part is him. ''Frank's Wild Years,'' seen Tuesday night, is an attempt at a theatrical expansion of his stage image. But it remains pretty much a one-man show.

Mr. Waits is obsessed with America's low-life - the bars, the broads, the booze, the touts, the sleaze. His voice is variations on a gargle, half-conversational mutterings about life's disappointments and dreams. His songs are cast in a folkish, bluesy idiom, though by now he's moved away from electric guitars and rock drums into a sort of vaudevillian instrumental melange dominated by cheap horns and accordion (the eloquent William Schimmel, perhaps today's best-known accordionist, classical and otherwise).

This persona has many antecedents, from the populist sentimentality of Weill and Saroyan to Edith Piaf, William Burroughs and such southern California rock vanguardists as Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa. Mr. Waits sometimes appears entrapped by his obsessions. But the intensity of his commitment to them ultimately emerges as original.
John Rockwell / The New York Times

Talk Talk ‎– The Colour Of Spring (1986)

Genre: Rock, Pop
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: EMI

1.   Happiness Is Easy
2.   I Don't Believe In You
3.   Life's What You Make It
4.   April 5th
5.   Living In Another World
6.   Give It Up
7.   Chameleon Day
8.   Time It's Time

Bass – Paul Webb
Drums – Lee Harris 
Guitar – David Rhodes, Robbie McIntosh
Organ – Steve Winwood, Tim Friese-Greene 
Percussion – Martin Ditcham, Morris Pert
Piano – Mark Hollis, Tim Friese-Greene 
Vocals – Mark Hollis
Written-By – Mark Hollis, Tim Friese-Greene
Producer – Tim Friese-Greene

The Colour of Spring is a transition album, as Talk Talk moved away from the 80s synth-pop that produced such new wave hits as “It’s My Life” and “Talk Talk.” To me the album has just the right amount of accessibility and avant-garde. Later albums would be much more ambient and free-form, but this one only leads the way to that ethereal quality that was prevalent on those last two Talk Talk records. It’s evident that leader Mark Hollis wanted to go in a deeper more complex direction by the players he asked to assist in the making of this record. Steve Winwoood, Robbie McIntosh and Morris Pert all have followings in progressive rock circles.
Opener “Happiness Is Easy” shows the way of this new direction with the marriage of the rhythmic nature of the earlier style to a new latter-day Roxy Music-like ambient nature. The use of the children’s choir on this song is inspired. “Life’s What You Make It” is another good example of the kind of more upbeat pieces here, with the lower keys of the piano driving the song rhythmically in place of a bass guitar. The harmonica adds much to “Living In Another World,” as it helps push the song’s pace.

There is a nice mixture of these beat-driven tunes with slower, almost gloomy songs throughout the album. The calm, yet dynamic songs are best represented by “April 5th” and “Chameleon Day.” These minimalistic and delicate songs pave the way to latter efforts, but it is the mixture of both kinds of songs that makes this particular record so appealing.

This is difficult music to describe and not your typical prog fare. The songwriting at times reminds me a bit of Peter Gabriel or early Genesis, though the production and execution does not. It is alternative and deep, not really new wave. Compare it to Japan, Bill Nelson or Roxy Music in some ways, but also the explorations that bands like The Fixx and Tears For Fears were making at around the same time. Flirting between the spirit of both the commercial and the obscure. If your vision of music is not too narrow, this would be something that would be welcome in any open-minded music fan’s collection.
Terry Jackson / ProgNaut

Tenderlonious ‎– RAGAS FROM LAHORE - improvisations with Jaubi (2020)

Genre: Electronic, Jazz, Experimental, Deep House
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: 22a

1.   Shahla Bagh
2.   Azadi
3.   Kirwani (Part I)
4.   Azeem
5.   Kirwani (Part II)
6.   Impressions

Ed ‘Tenderlonious’ Cawthorne; flutes & soprano saxophone
Kashif Ali Dhani; tabla & vocals
Zohaib Hassan Khan; sarangi
Ali Riaz Baqar; guitar
Marek Pędziwiatr; synth drone

In April 2019, 22a boss and multi-instrumentalist, Tenderlonious embarked on a trip to Pakistan to work with Lahore based instrumental quartet, Jaubi. Following on from the highly acclaimed, three track limited edition 10” vinyl release of ‘Tender in Lahore’ earlier this year, 22a presents the full suite of improvised ragas from a one day recording session in Lahore, Pakistan. The pure sounds of Indian and Pakistani
classical music act as a framework for deep and spiritual improvisations between Tenderlonious on flute & soprano saxophone and Jaubi band members, Kashif Ali Dhani on tabla and vocals, Zohaib Hassan Khan on sarangi and Ali Riaz Baqar on guitar. This cross cultural collaboration also features Polish composer and keys player Marek Pędziwiatr on synth drone.

Like most of us, Ed ‘Tenderlonious’ Cawthorne has had to overcome troubles in life. Music however has always been a guiding light leading him onto the right path. It was whilst in his darkest place that he taught himself to play the soprano saxophone; bringing much needed focus and discipline back into his life. Much like his musical heroes John Coltrane and Yusef Lateef - who were both inspired by eastern spiritualism and the deep tradition of Indian classical music - Ed has always been searching for something different and much deeper.

The seeds for a young Tender to embark on this musical path were planted during his father’s secondments to the East as a Ghurkha Officer. However it was after hearing the North Indian Classical flautist Ronu Majumdar’s ‘Raga Mangal Bhairav’ that Tender knew this was a musical style that he had to explore.

Ironically it was in a grimy London pub, after a few too many beers that the reality of this record started to come to life. Whilst reminiscing about previous musical journeys in Poland with Lukasz Wojciechowski from Astigmatic Records, we were reminded of an instrumental quartet from Pakistan - Jaubi. We later discovered that Jaubi is an Urdu
word for “whatever/whoever”. Creating whatever sounds good, with whoever feels good, is the groups guiding principle - a vibe we could relate to. Drinks continued to flow and we further explored the idea of a trip to Lahore in Pakistan, where the band resides.

That evening after getting home from the pub, we told our families and friends that we were planning to go to Lahore and record an album with Jaubi. We were met with heavy resistance from family and government travel advice. Our families and friends regularly fed us articles about why it is dangerous to travel to Pakistan due to the risk of terrorism, kidnappings, tropical diseases, etc. - the list was endless. The Pakistani
embassy also showed resistance by rejecting our visas. Twice! The project felt destined for failure, however we persevered with the Lahore dream. We learned not to believe everything people tell you. This was more than a musical quest now - it was about breaking down cultural misconceptions.

Through many hours of hard work and planning we arrived in Lahore on the 9th of April 2019, greeted with nothing but love and humility. Lahore is something special; full of positivity, care and hope. It was, thankfully, all a stark contrast to the negativity we heard about Pakistan before arriving. It was not long into the first day and that first studio session that we realised this trip would be a real awakening. Nothing whatsoever was written down during the recording sessions - no sheet music, no song titles. It was sincere. All egos were left behind and hearts and souls were open and poured into the music.

Opening track ‘Shalah Bagh’ is inspired by the Mughal gardens in Lahore we visited one morning on our trip. It is a fully improvised track guided by Kashif Ali Dhani on tabla and vocals, with Tenderlonious on soprano saxophone. Raga Chandrakauns acts as the basic framework, evolving into a free conversation between tabla and saxophone.
‘Azadi’ is the Urdu word for freedom and is a pure raga composed in the beautiful and devotional pentatonic Raga Bairagi, also based in the 12 beat rhythmic cycle (Ektaal). Like everything during these sessions, this raga was shown to Tender moments before the one take recording and what ensued was an improvised conversation between the musicians. Featuring Jaubi members Zohaib Hassan Khan on sarangi - Zohaib is a 7th generation sarangi maestro and one of only 5 professional sarangi players left in Pakistan practicing this ancient art form. Plus Jaubi guitarist and band leader Ali Riaz Baqar, providing the guitar accompaniment. ‘Kirwani’ is a musical scale in Hindustani classical music. It is an Indian raga specially suited for instrumental music. The scale is the same as the harmonic minor in western music. Kashif Ali Dhani on tabla and Tender on flute join for a spontaneous and therapeutic exchange.

Side two begins with ‘Azeem’, which provides a peaceful moment for reflection with Tender on alto flute, Kashif Ali Dhani on vocals and Zohaib Hassan Khan on sarangi. ‘Kirwani part ii’ is an alternate take of the aforementioned original, this time featuring Tender on soprano saxophone in conversation with Kashif Ali Dhani on tabla. The album finishes with ‘Impressions’ a pure raga (Raga Ba Khizer), the taala (rhythmic cycle) is Ektaal (12 beat cycle). It is similar to the raga that Tender first heard Ronu Majumdar play. This beautiful scale, that Tender would often practice back home, becomes the musical framework for rich improvisations. Joined by Zohaib Hassan Khan on sarangi with Kashif Ali Dhani providing the stunning backdrop on tabla, weaving in and out of complex rhythmic patterns. Marek Pędziwiatr, from EABS & Astigmatic Records, provides the synth drone backdrop on all of the tracks.

This album fulfils part of a dream for Tenderlonious and 22a. It would not have been possible without the help of Łukasz Wojciechowski and Astigmatic Records, who helped us bring this idea to life. The next stage is bringing these wonderful musicians from Pakistan over to the UK and Europe to record, perform and fulfil their dreams – Inshallah.