Blog on the Tracks
I went to Killing Joke on Friday - as I mentioned on Monday. In fact here's my review from the Dominion Post. And of course last week I ran my interview with Jazz Coleman and that linked to my review of the documentary about the band (definitely worth a watch). And so all this Killing Joke love all of a sudden eh? Well this post isn't about the band as such - though you'll see from my review I did (really) enjoy the gig. No, this is about the merchandise.
Yep, Youth, bass player of Killing Joke and legendary producer/collaborator who has worked with so many of music's greats - and also The Verve - painted a few blocks up on the day to sell on the merch table.
They were like a budgie too - cheap. Cheap.
It was $10 for the small ones, or $30 for a rather large original artwork, all of them signed and named. Each one different. And I thought that was a very cool idea - far better than just the old badges, posters, stickers and T-shirts eh?
I'm convinced The Black Angels, a psychedelic indie rock band from Austin, Texas, will put on a couple of must-see shows this week. The band plays its first New Zealand shows - Wellington, tomorrow, Bodega and then Auckland, Thursday, June 20, The Studio (see how many you can squeeze in there this week, eh?)
The band has also released a fantastic new album, Indigo Meadow.
Last week I spoke with Alex Maas, head Angel.
"We're really excited about coming to New Zealand - not just for the music, I'm hoping to get a chance to look around at some of the fantastic plant life you have there. I'll be checking out what I can - we're really pumped about getting all the way down there - it's a long way".
So the usual sort of start to an interview...and I ask about the Austin scene - it seems the city has a lot to offer musically outside the cliché idea of bar-room blues-rockers.
I had a lovely weekend actually, thanks for asking. Killing Joke gig on Friday night - one where you could breathe, even. (Review is in today's Dominion Post). And that was the only music outing - but I enjoyed a chance to select records at someone else's house (always fun) and had a social weekend catching up with friends from Hong Kong - even finding time for the Come Dine With Me omnibus - TV's best programme. And if our resident TV blogger doesn't agree with me there I bet our resident food blogger does.
A 6.00am wake-up call with The Wiggles couldn't dampen my spirit this weekend - actually the joy on Oscar's face as soon as they kicked in with the opening track on their bound-to-be-thrilling-to-a-toddler Hot Potatoes best-of DVD meant that I was perfectly happy to be watching and hearing The Wiggles. They were doing their job; nailing it. He was loving it. And I was loving him loving it. I can take The Wiggles. I get made to listen to a lot worse. I had a mini-Stallone moment as I braced myself for this library-borrowed DVD: They won't break me.
But the best thing, musically, that happened for me this weekend - and I had a blast playing so many favourite albums now I come to think of it - was reconnecting with one old favourite and discovering a brand new one.
Joni Mitchell was recently interviewed and you can watch the whole thing right here - it's nearly two hours long, but it's worth your time. Lovely stories, and a chance to hear more of the whole story because in recent years she's been reduced down to a series of mean-spirited sound bites, picking on Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen and has been made to seem like she's fighting for relevance, fighting for artistic survival.
It was a wonderful interview I thought - just nice to hear her voice again. It made me go straight to an old vinyl compilation; one I've been favouring recently.
And then, later in the weekend, I reviewed Portrait, the debut album by Josephine.
It's been suggested before, a potential blog-topic: Which album do you wish you could listen to again for the first time? Someone mentioned it - again (for the first time) - yesterday. So I took that as the cue.
And it's a great question - and a hard one to answer. Sometimes I take an album and explore it here at Blog on the Tracks - talk about my introduction to it, my love for it and I figure it's always implied that this is the sort of album I'd like to hear again for the first time. Something like B.B. King's Cook County Jail album, for example.
So today I'm going to pick five albums. Doesn't mean they're the five best albums in the world, or even my five favourites - just five albums I wish I could hear again for the first time. And then you can do the same.
John Coltrane, A Love Supreme: Well, I've already posted at length about this album - but it's one I return to, almost weekly. It's had a profound influence on my life, on my listening - introduced me to so many great players and other albums and made me fall in love with the music of John Coltrane. My brother used to return home from university for holidays. I was still at high school. And every trip back he'd bring a few new CDs - this was one of them. I still remember sitting in his room hearing this. And that siren-call that starts the record, wow. That was just it. Oh man. I was instantly hooked. It was jazz, sure, and I knew that - but it was like nothing I'd ever heard before. And it still blows me away. Every time. I also loved those bonding moments, me and my brother with a collective goal - both hooked on the music.
Faith No More, Angel Dust: Almost on a whim I decided to travel to Wellington to see Faith No More on the tour for this album. I didn't know this record. I knew their previous albums - well, I knew The Real Thing and the song We Care a Lot. And on the car ride down from Hawke's Bay we stopped and I bought Angel Dust. (From that revolting mall up at Kapiti Coast.) Just a very quick listen, then off to the gig. It was astonishing how good they were on that night in the Town Hall (Wellington's best music venue). So hearing this album - listening to it properly the next day - will always be tied to that gig. It's one of my all-time favourite records. And I listed it as one of the 10 important metal albums in my life. We played it on the car ride back and stopped in Woodville to order some food. I ordered some hot chips and a drink then took a seat. My mate Sam came over with his food and a confused look on his face, "I think I just got told off," he said. "I asked for some chips and the woman behind the counter said 'no, your friend just ordered some, so when his come you can have some of those'." I think about that - Woodville's idea of driving its economy being something of a Sunday-drive at best - every time I play this album.
Everything But the Girl, Acoustic: I played this album the other day - for the first time in quite a while. Gorgeous. I arrived to this record pretty late, actually. In fact it was Everything But the Girl's entry to the Back to Mine series (brilliant) which made me give the band a second chance. You see, my first stint in music retail coincided with the band's super-popular Walking Wounded album and I just couldn't take it; the album was played endlessly and it was a bad introduction. I was convinced, for the longest time, that there was nothing for me to hear from the band Everything But the Girl. But then the Back to Mine album showed them to be a band of very good taste and I heard some of Ben Watt's material outside and away from the group (liked that) and knew Tracey Thorn's voice from Massive Attack (and liked that). Someone, and I can't remember who, suggested I give this album Acoustic a go. So pleased I did. It coincided with my second stint in music retail and so I played it over and over, never got sick of it - some lovely covers as well as a few originals. And from there I got hooked on the back-catalogue even conquering my near-fear of Walking Wounded. They're a band I'm still discovering - and Acoustic is always the point of entry, always the reminder. I'd like to hear this again for the first time - and if I had my way it would have been much sooner. Before Missing, before Walking Wounded, before anything else.
If Jaz Coleman didn't exist you couldn't make him up. That doesn't mean people haven't tried, from Spinal Tap to All Together Now (the Australian sitcom which starred Jon English as Bobby Rivers) via efforts from Harry Enfield, Steve Coogan and many other comedians, the role of the rock-star as renaissance man with a huge ego, lofty ideas and an occasional romance with reality is something Jaz Coleman mastered long ago, in a truth is stranger than fiction kind of way.
Jaz Coleman, producer and musician, frontman of Killing Joke, New Zealand resident - but ask him what else belongs on the business card and he'll quickly add author ("my book's coming out shortly, it's basically my philosophy" - it's so hard not to hear it as Nigel Tufnel), poet, composer, arranger, philosopher, ordained priest, free thinker, eco-village activist, patron, raconteur and - quite possibly - warlock. At one time drug-taker and drinker might have been the fulltime job with a dash of music to dabble in on the side.
The British-born Coleman formed Killing Joke in 1978, a post-punk band which provided a crucial link between punk and metal to make hints toward industrial music.
In 1982 he announced he'd quit his own band and disappeared to Iceland, where he decided he would become a classical composer. When I remind him of this during our time on the phone he laughs loudly. Pauses. Then laughs even louder.
Back in the day Coleman talked down to journalists, lectured them on the occult and punched them in the face for stupid questions or reviews he didn't agree with. I'm glad we've got a phone-line between us.
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