Blog on the Tracks

Writer/reviewer Simon Sweetman covers music for The Dominion Post and North And South. He cares far too much about music, and the list of bands he loves is far longer than the list of groups he has shown no love.

Reading the worst

06:47am 16 Jan 2015


Today is the 1900th post in the life of Blog On The Tracks. That seems a lot. But at the same time it doesn't really mean anything. The train keeps on rolling...

I'm pretty excited about seeing Nas this weekend, I hope it's good. First gig of the year for me...

I've never been as disappointed by a music bio/auto-bio as I was reading the recent Bernard Purdie one; it's hard to know what the book was even trying to be - it's written in third person but claims to be an autobiography, there's no attempt to even 'get' Purdie's voice, there's no real attempt to hide the fact that this isn't even an as-told-to tale but a hackneyed bio hiding behind an autobiography-credit. But worse, there's no real energy there - it reads a bit like a long Wikipedia entry with far too much stuff about his early childhood and his parents and nowhere near enough about his time making music with Aretha Franklin and Steely Dan and King Curtis and the thousands of other recordings he's made as solo artist and hired "hit-maker" for a range of soul, jazz and pop-rock acts.

A damn shame. Bernard Purdie

We've talked before about favourite music books - but what's the worst music book you've read? I've ploughed through so many stinkers, occupational hazard. But it's always upsetting when the book is about someone you like, are hoping to learn more about.

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Just because because Bill Cosby

06:24am 15 Jan 2015


It was uncanny - I was heading home from the cinema, listening to the latest episode of the twice-weekly Marc Maron podcast, WTF. The main guest on the episode was Jeff Garlin, but before they got to him Maron had a wee ramble about Bill Cosby - discussed his feelings for the first time about Cosby in the wake of so many allegations. He also had a chat with film director Judd Apatow. I've linked above to the full episode - the Maron podcast is appointment listening for me - but the 20-minute chat with Apatow, focussing entirely on Cosby, is available to hear on its own right here.

You should listen.

I was listening to it as I made it home and into the house where I plucked, at random, a record from the collection. (I've just moved all of the LPs into new shelves, they're there in no order. I reached for the middle and what should I pick, this is the uncanny part, The Best of Bill Cosby).The Best of Bill Cosby

There was a time when I owned - and listened to - a few Bill Cosby albums. Now I only own them.

I put the record right back.

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A slow start to the year in music ...

06:58am 14 Jan 2015


It's always a slow start to the year, music-wise/review-wise - but particularly when you take a couple of weeks off.

The daily grind of finding something to say has its occasional upsides, one of which is that when you're in the zone, so used to hammering out words, it's no real stretch to file something.Terry Riley's In C Mali

But three weeks off means there's little in the tank. It drains quickly. You lose your rhythm.

I thought about writing something - anything - every day of my holiday. A diary or something. Some journal entries. Just something to keep me at it. In the end I decided to keep the computer turned off. I didn't write a thing. No reviews. No blog posts. It was great.

But now I'm back - and I have...well, nothing.

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Drummers you just can't beat

10:33am 13 Jan 2015


We've talked about favourite - and least favourite/most overrated - drummers quite a few times here, always in a slightly different way. I've looked at groove players and Top 10 'Drum' Albums and favourite NZ drummers to name just a few posts.

Here's another one...Drummers You Just Can't Beat.Drums

This was the most recent series for weekly posts over at the Phantom Billstickers Facebook page. Once the series is wrapped - and a new one has started - I load up the entries over at Off The Tracks (for any of the non-Facebook fans). And then I share them here - previously I've looked at The Best Gigs I've Ever Seen, the Movies of My Life, Classic Albums I Can't Ever Listen To Again, Great Kiwi Albums and a few other pop-culture related stories around books, TV, film and music.

I wanted to share the list of drummers here because I've tried to not pick the obvious choices, at least not all of the time - the world doesn't need any more drummer-lists with Mike Portnoy or Neil Peart on them. The world probably doesn't need any more drummer-lists. Period. But hey...

I'll be adding to this list over at Off The Tracks with time. I still need to write something about Bernard Purdie and Ringo Starr and a handful of other - fairly obvious - names.

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Reporting for duty: 2015

09:54am 12 Jan 2015


I hope you had a good Christmas holiday break. I was offline for a bit - a rarity in my world. I went on holiday with the family, had a week off in New Zealand (well, I checked out Jakob up in Napier and I wrote a wee piece about Joe Cocker - R.I.P. as well as being interviewed on RadioLIVE about his passing, but it was mostly a week off). And then it was to nearly two weeks off in Australia. 

It was nice to be offline - no great revelations, just time with the family and more time to read. Actual books. I listened to a few podcasts too. But when it was established that there was internet where we were staying I did head back to the world of social media and a few select pages. I kept my online time to a minimum - I read a few longer articles I'd been meaning to catch up with for a while (like this excellent piece, fittingly very long, about John Holmes). But I didn't make any effort to keep up with music - or music news.

Admittedly there's not a lot happening in terms of new releases - and I didn't really miss out on any great gigs (as far as I'm aware) but there must have been something happening.

That's where you come in. For this first post of 2015 I want you to tell me about the music news you found interesting over the holiday break; about the best gigs you saw or any great new albums you heard.

I caught up with the news that Lykke Li cancelling on Laneway. This, I reckon, is a disaster. She would easily have been one of the highlights of the show - she released one of the best albums of last year - and there were two great records before that too. The official word is exhaustion.Lykke Li

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