Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Interview with Henry Priestman & Show # 367

Henry Priestman first appeared in the UK New Wave/Power Pop act Yachts.  The band released two full length albums and a collection of singles before splitting up in 1981. The band is perhaps best known for their song "Suffice To Say", following Yachts Priestman co-founded the group It's Immaterial. He then went on to play with the group The Christians. In 2008 he released his first solo album Chronicles of Modern Life on Stiff Records, which received great critical acclaim in the UK and was then picked up by Island Records for a major label re-release. He is currently working on a follow up to Chronicles.

The following interview was done between myself Dave Konstantino (host of Revolution Rock) and musician Henry Priestman. In the interview Henry discusses his time with Yachts, his post-Yachts bands and his current musical projects.

RR: What was it that inspired you to start making music? Were there any artists in particular and what are some of your favourite albums?

HP: Ever since hearing The Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Tamla, Stax etc as a kid I knew I wanted to do something to do with music...my mates were buying comics and I was buying Disc & Music Echo, and NME..I thought I would probably end up working in a record shop (remember them?). Started playing guitar aged 14, then when I left school I decide to go to Art School (as all the bands I loved seem to have an Art School link - again Beatles, Who, Kinks etc), thought it would help me get into a band. Which is what Yachts were: the archetypal Art School band, all 4 of us were in the same year at Liverpool Art College (John Lennon’s old Art College).

Clive Langer, who was in the 3rd year at college when I was in 1st & in a Warners band called Deaf School, was the first person to say to me, “why don’t you write your own songs?”...Clive would go on to be a very successful producer on both side of the Atlantic, with number ones with Madness, Dexys, Bush etc. So I suppose he, and Roger Eagle who ran a very influential punk/New Wave club in Liverpool “Eric’s” are the ones I credit for getting me into this biz.

With Yachts we were listening to all those Nuggets bands, and scouring the remainder bins for obscure 60’s psych and garage albums, then trying to write in the same style (musically) and occasionally covering obscure 60’s bands (Look back in Love Not In Anger was originally by Bay State band Teddy and the Pandas). Lyrically we tried to make it very English, which ironically possibly worked against us in UK, but had the opposite effect in US.

RR: Before you were called Yachts, various members of the band played in Albert Dock, even opening for Sex Pistols at one gig. What prompted the name change and where did the name Yachts come from?

HP: Well, Albert Dock was a bit of a crazy, quite theatrical Art School band with around 8 members, mostly doing obscure covers...then we decided we should perhaps take it a bit more seriously, slim down the band, write our own stuff and therefore a name change seemed to be the next step....Yachts just seemed to fit the image, visually and lyrically, that we’d decided on.

RR: How did the band come up with "Suffice To Say"? Did the music or lyrics come first and why do you think people respond to that song so well?

HP: I think it was the first or second song I EVER wrote, and I actually wrote it on holiday in France in summer 1976, for my then girlfriend, and 33 years on she’s my wife, and we’re still together (ahhhh!); probably music came before the lyric (nicked the chords off an old Zappa track!)...then, despite the lyric stating “I never wrote a middle 8”, John Campbell (the original singer) came up with a great middle 8, and hence his name is in the brackets too!

Don’t know why people still like it...it gets called “quirky”, and “charming”, and the “cheesey” organ always gets mentioned..I still do it in my solo set (and there’s a new version as a secret track on my “Chronicles of Modern Life” album)

RR: The band always seemed to have a unique lyrical style, how did you decide on using lyrics? Such as on songs like "Suffice To Say", "Mantovani's Hits”, "Yachting Types", "Box 202" etc.?

HP: As mentioned above, we were deliberately trying to write very English lyrics, and ones that really nobody in their right mind would put in a pop song!..when I heard a word like “Tantamount”, I thought, oo that’s a good word to get into a title...but also as mentioned above, it slightly backfired over here in Britain...perhaps people thought we didn’t RAWWWKKK enough!..that said, the live shows were much more raw than the recorded versions (and probably better for it).

RR: What do you remember from recording Yachts first two albums? What was it like working with Martin Rushent as a producer on Without Radar (1980)?

HP: First album was recorded in 2 weeks at Radio City in New York, with Richard Gottehrer (writer of Hang On Sloopy, and producer of Blondie’s first album), so that was just so exciting for 4 lads from the North of England, who’d never really travelled much before...picked up at JFK by a limo, we thought we were “it”!

With hindsight, I think we lost the plot a bit on second album..not Martin Rushent’s fault, he was a joy to work with..songs weren’t as good, I think we were taking ourselves a bit too seriously on that record.

RR: What are some of the bands/projects you worked on following the split of Yachts up until now for example I know that you were with another band called The Christians?

HP: I left Yachts because this “hobby band” I was in, “It’s Immaterial” (re-united with original Yachts singer John Campbell) started being more fun, and more interesting musically than Yachts (even tho’ I wasn’t involved in the writing)...”Itsy” went on to record 2 albums for Warners, and had top 20 single chart success in UK...meanwhile I’d started to learn how to engineer in a small studio in Liverpool: we used this singing troop of 5 brothers (with surname Christian) to sing harmonies on an It’s Immaterial song “Ed’s Funky Diner”, and I plucked up courage at the session to ask them if they’d like to hear some of my songs – 2 couldn’t be bothered, 3 stayed around, and we worked on demos for the next year, and signed to Island records in 1986. By then I was over 30, and had never tasted any chart success, so it was quite a surprise when the first Christians album went straight in to the UK charts at #2, and went triple platinum!

The Christians recorded 3 albums for Island...remind me never to join a band with brothers in it!...by 1994 we’d all had enough...I’d started branching out into music for BBC TV (wildlife documentaries), and also doing sessions/tours with the likes of Echo and The Bunnymen, Ian McNabb, Ian Broudie’s Lightening seeds etc...and also got more into co-writing/production...then in 1999 we, The Christians, reformed for an acoustic tour (and an album) and managed to stay together till 2006 until once again the rot set in (the same with any band..)

RR: How did you come to record Chronicles of Modern Life? Who did you work with on this album (musicians/producers, etc.)?

HP: After leaving The Christians I suddenly thought “what the hell am I going to do now?”...so threw myself into writing and producing mostly acoustic-y singer-songwriter artists in my small studio set-up. On one of these writing occasions I worked with writer Tom Gilbert (who’s around the same age as me) and we just sat around musing on the ageing process (I was then 53) and came up with a song “Old”, which we thought we might try to get to Nashville.

Now, I hadn’t sung since 1981 (Yachts) and had assumed Tom would sing, but as he’s bigger than me, he bullied me into doing it, so the only way I could get through it, was to affect this “bad Bob Dylan”-type voice. Next morning we woke up listened to the track, and suddenly thought “Hang on, this great..this is me singing about my life”..and came up with another 10 songs in a similar slightly world-weary yet still poignant vein.

RR: Where/how was it recorded and why do you think it has got such a good response in the UK?

HP: I produced/engineered and basically played everything on the album, quickly, in my own tiny studio, with a few friends helping out on the tricky stuff (like strings/cello, or a slide guitar solo etc) and the odd backing vocal. This probably helped it sound like “an album of rough-hewn charm” as The Sunday Times called it... I think people liked the honesty of the album, musically and lyrically...and also it seemed to appeal to people “of a certain age”...and it was lucky that some of those people were producers and DJ’s on BBC’s national (and most-listened to station) Radio 2.

RR: Your current music has been described as “music for grumpy old men” by BBC Radio 2. Do you feel that is accurate? How would you describe your music?

HP: Yes, one of the aforementioned DJ’s came up with that phrase...”Grumpy Old Men” was a very successful light-hearted, wry documentary series here in the UK (about the trials and tribulations of getting older), featuring actors, comedians and even well respected DJ the late John Peel, so I didn’t really mind people saying it, if it helped them give me a genre...but I wouldn’t necessarily agree..there’s a lot of hope in the record.

RR: What are you currently up to musically? Is there a planned follow to Chronicles of Modern Life in the works? If so how will it sound as compared to Chronicles?

HP: I’m always writing with/for other people, and have continued to do that, and managed to get a few cuts on albums this year. I actually started on the follow up to Chronicles last year, but what with losing my Mum and a few other things, I downed-tools on the project, but am now ready to pick up the gauntlet again...I think if I’d have finished it last year it would have sounded more like Chronicles...now I want to make it a bit different..I don’t want to bore people with the same stuff again...nobody’s exactly waiting for it, so I may as well make it as good as poss..in the meantime I’ve discovered the joys of live performance (just me, a guitar and a uke) and am loving it!

These days the 'net has opened up things recording -wise so much, and on the forthcoming album (probably due in spring 2012), I've got Probyn Gregory from Brian Wilson's band playing French Horn, and trombone...I never met him, just sent him the tracks and two days later his brass parts came back over the 'net...it's amazing isn't it?...otherwise it's mainly me playing the usual guitar, bass, keys and drums stuff.

This Week's Play List:

1. The Pack AD - Rid of Me
2. The Milkshakes - Jaguar and Thunderbird
3. Modern Lovers - I'm Straight
4. Verdix - Looking Around
5. The Calling - The World
6. The Unusuals - Hit and Run
7. The Singles - T.V. Deceives
8. It's Immaterial - Driving Away From Home
9. Yachts - Yachting Types
10. The Videodromes - Steve Mcqueen
11. Klark Kent - Don't Care
12. Wreckless Eric - Semaphore Signals
13. The Clash - Overpowered By Funk
14. Magazine - Look What Fears Done To My Body (Peel Session)
15. Siskiyou - Keep Away The Dead
16. Elliot Brood - West End Shy
17. Henry Priestman - Grey's The New Blonde
18. Henry Priestman - It's Called A Heart
19. Them - I Can Only Give You Everything
20. The Ugly Ducklings - Girl Out of Time
21. The Kinks - Come On Now (Alternate Vocal Version)
22. Harlem - Spray Paint
23. The Rezillos - I Can't Stand My Baby
24. The Damned - Fan Club

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for August 30. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Luger Boa Jimmy Christmas Interview & Show # 366

In November of 2008, New Zealand Rock band Luger Boa released their first full length album titled Mutate or Die! The album and band was formed out of the ashes of New Zealand Garage Rock band The D4 and following the release of this album, the band toured extensively playing festivals and all over New Zealand. The album even charted here in Canada in January of 2009 on CJAM’s Earshot! Charts at number ten on the top 30 album charts. Luger Boa received a positive critical acclaim locally in New Zealand even winning an award for the Best Local Rock song in 2009 for the song “On My Mind”. The new album was released in May of 2011 and was entitled New Hot Nights.  It loosely revolves around the concept of an extreme night out of drinking and the repercussions there of. New Hot Nights still maintains the Hard Rock/Glam Rock influence that the band first built upon, while at the same time adding more Pop and other elements into the mix for a unique sound.

Recently I was fortunate enough to get an interview with front man Jimmy Christmas to talk about the band.  The following interview was done between myself (Dave Konstantino of Revolution Rock) and Jimmy Christmas (of Luger Boa). He touches on the recording of New Hot Nights, the current band line up, his favourite albums, and more.

RR: Luger Boa's first album, Mutate or Die! was released in 2008. How has the band changed since then and how has the support been for the band in New Zealand?

JC: Support for Luger Boa has been incredible in NZ, we seem to attract a really diehard following who, once committed, are unrelenting (and sometimes unsettling!) in their dedication to the cause. Which is great. Live shows therefore tend to be very intense, high energy, and unpredictable. I really love that.

RR: The band line up has changed a few times, who is in the current line up of Luger Boa?
 JC: Luger Boa is Jimmy Xmas - Vox/Guitar, Sam Lockley - Guitar, Simon Nicholls - Bass, Joe Mac - Drums, Johnny Lyon - Guitar. Johnny is the newest addition to a line-up that has been pretty solid for the past 2 years and the core of which played on the latest album. His arrival seems to have injected us with even more energy and the whole machine has picked up ferocity and pace. It's feeling really good right now.

RR: Mutate or Die! had a Glam Rock and Pop influence, what influences did you draw from when making New Hot Nights?

JC: I think we are still working the Glam influence, Bowie, Iggy, a touch of the Sweet perhaps? I've always been a sucker for injecting small fragments of War of The Worlds here and there, and of course there's all the garage, punk, and rock n roll that makes us who we are. I think we even might of had a few Cars and Talking Heads moments from time to time, but again, as with then first album, the goal was always to build a Frankenstein’s monster made of all those twisted little flavors we love.

RR: Where was New Hot Nights recorded and when did the recording process begin?

JC: The bulk of the album was tracked at a residential studio in the countryside, in an old converted sheep barn. That sells it a bit short though cos all the equipment had come from one of the countries world standard studios, so the place felt and sounded incredible. There was even a bar in the main recording room, which suited us just fine! We tracked the core of it over a ten day period, then I took it all back to a secret laboratory in Melbourne where we twisted it up, turned it on its head, and tied the stories to the music, and vice versa.

RR: Who did you work with when making this album (ie: Producers, engineers, etc.)?

JC: We were joined once again by the incomparable Barry Palmer, wearing his snug fitting Producers cap. This time however, it was he that suffered the now obligatory physical damage, in the form of a broken nose and black eye. Last record I got glassed on the forehead and wear a little smiley faced scar to this day. The album was engineered by Andy Baldwin, resident of NYC and a man of culture and refinement. He's the type who always travels with a bottle of Tabasco sauce in his pocket, and is a mad genius when it comes to twiddling knobs and getting sweet sounds.

RR: What type of gear did you use when recording this record? (ie: guitars/amps, etc.)

JC: We had access to an amazing array of amplification on this album, and used a whole myriad of sounds depending on what we were after. Ryan Thomas, long time member and electronic wizard, runs a business where he imports boutique valve amps, so the options where many. My favourite though was probably a little 2 watt valve head he made himself. Its sounds like a cornered Tasmanian devil, so it fit in perfectly. Between the band members we have a pretty sweet array of old fender and Gibson guitars, the odd musicman, and a crazy 70's lawsuit series Ibanez I found abandoned on the street one night.

RR: You have described New Hot Nights as "12 deliciously twisted tales from the concrete jungle" and I have also read that is loosely based around a concept. Could you elaborate on this?

JC: During the creative period for the album, I was spending a lot of time in a bar on Auckland infamous red lights strip, known locally as K'Rd. Smoking cigarettes and talking on the street outside the bar meant I was a witness to a whole mass of humanity passing each other by, feeling each other up, and crashing into one another at strange hours of the night. It got me thinking about all the stories and characters that were inhabiting that small corner of the world, and how diverse and intense it was at those hours. So I guess the lyrical ideas were drawn from observations of the people on the street, and are attempts to inhabit the minds of a whole mess of characters at various stages of one long night out. Loosely anyway. Heh. We had a great time with the artwork too, photographing the street, then re-editing the layout and shop names to create our own fictional environment, which we then populated with the creatures from the stories. The whole process involved a lot of crazy nights in, on, around and beneath K'Rd. We loved every minute.

RR: Has the song writing process changed at all as opposed to the last album or recordings that you have made in the past?

JC: Not really, it still pretty much involves a lot of alcohol, volume, and damn good times!

RR: What are some of your all time favourite albums and what are some other bands that you are currently listening to?

JC: The Sonics - Here Are The Sonics, The Litter - Distortions, The Stooges - Fun House, David Bowie - The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars, The Buzzcocks - Singles Going Steady, Iron Maiden - The Number of The Beast, ACDC - If You Want Blood (or to be honest, any Bon Scott era album), Radio Birdman - Radios Appear, and that’s just today heh.

Right now though, I'm listening to a lot of T- Bone Walker & early Ike & Tina. I also just rediscovered a live version of Al Green singing Belle, which is probably one of the best things I've seen on the interweb lately. Oh, and some great footage of Kiss playing at Winterland in 1975. Rock n fucking roll.

RR: What are your plans for the future musically?

JC: Right now, we are focussed on getting this beast offshore. We have done great here, but with no forward momentum there is no future, and I really believe we have something a certain kind of person is gonna wanna see, so we feel a responsibility to bring it to them.

This Week's Play List:

1. White Stripes - Girl, You Have No Faith In Medicine
2. The Cliques - She Ain't No Good
3. The Stomach Mouths - Don't Put Me Down
4. The Speaking Tongues - Looking In Your Window (Live Third Floor Session)
5. The Express & Co. - Montreal
6. John Jenkins' Small Town Revival - Small Town Revival
7. The Schomburg Fair - Some Things Never Change
8. The Pagans - Yeah Yeah
9. The Cosmonauts - Little Honda
10. XX Teens - Onkawara
11. The Rapture - Whoo! Alright Yeah ... Uh Huh
12. The Killermeters - Twisted Wheel 
13. The Purple Hearts - My Life's A Jigsaw
14. Elvis Costello & The Attractions - Crawling To The USA 
15. The Only Ones - Me And My Shadow
16. The Braineaters - Rock Rock
17. 222's - Always Around
18. The Squad - Millionaire
19. Young Canadians - No Escape
20. Luger Boa - 1000 Hooks 
21. Luger Boa - Lazy
22. Albert Hammond Jr. - Everyone Gets A Star
23. Queens of The Stone Age - Into The Hollow
24. Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - Johnny Appleseed (Live Acton Town Hall 2002)

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for August 23. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

They're Back Again ... The Cigarettes Story & Show # 365

In 1978 a band came out of Lincoln in the UK, they gained a good degree of local success, but on a major scale they were largely ignored. While they did receive airplay on the John Peel radio show in the UK, as well as recording some Peel Sessions for the program the band The Cigarettes only ever released an EP and a single while they were still active. The Cigarettes were a trio of musicians consisting of Rob Smith on guitar/vocals/piano, Steve Taylor on bass/vocals and Adam Palmer on drums. The band was also difficult to pinpoint due to the fact that they mixed a variety of styles and a public image that was not easily defined. Were they Punk? Were they Mod? Were they Power Pop? You could argue for either avenue of musical justification, but the truth is they were all of the above. They looked kind of like Mod’s their music mixed a variety of elements that at times sounded like Power Pop topped off with a Buzzcocks Spiral Scratch flare, but in other circumstances they also sounded like a straight up 77 era UK Punk band or a Mod Rock band. 

In 1979, The Cigarettes released a three track EP featuring the songs “They’re Back Again, Here They Come”, “I’ve Forgot My Number (Now I’m Telling You My Name)” and “All We Want Is Your Money”. This EP which was titled They're Back Again, Here They Come, mixed the previously aforementioned genres and proves to be the strongest release in the bands catalogue while they were still active. A single followed in 1980 called “I Can’t Sleep At Night”, it would be one of their last releases. The band split in 1981. The Cigarettes were also featured on a few compilations, which over the years kept them in the knowledge of the few underground musicologists. In 2002, The Cigarettes released a 30 track album compiling material from their 1979 EP, 1980 single, unreleased studio tracks, live tracks and John Peel Session tracks. The Cigarettes – Will Damage Your Health was released on Detour Records and is the definitive compilation of a short lived UK band that no matter what ingredients made up their recipe for music, the results speak for themselves.

This Week's Play List:

1. The Polymorphines - Anna Lee
2. CHAPPO - Petrified Sand
3. The Gruesomes - Your Lies
4. The Ugly - Stranded In The Laneway
5. Sneak Peak - Walk All Over Me (Live)
6. The Skeletones Four - Pick Up The Pieces
7. The British Columbians - Teeth of The Sea
8. Dog Day - Nothing To Do
9. John Doe - Never Enough
10. Mark Broadie & The Beaver Patrol - Phantom Wave
11. The Tornadoes - Moon Dawg
12. Takeshi Terauchi - The Theme of Terry
13. Chang-A-Lang - Save The Environment
14. Little Girls - Delaware
15. The Bagg Team - Flip, Flip, Flip
16. The Passengers - Face With No Name
17. The Hitmen - I Don't Mind
18. The Fun Things - Savage
19. The Primmers - You're Gonna Get Done
20. The Spelling Mistakes - Hate Me Hate Me
21. Terrorways - Short Haired Rock n' Roll
22. The Cigarettes - I've Forgot My Number (Now I'm Telling You My Name)
23. The Cigarettes - They're Back Again, Here They Come
24. The Vores - Forget That Guy
25. The MC5 - Call Me Animal
26. Devo - Uncontrollable Urge

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for August 16. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Johnny Cash ... From Memphis To Hollywood (Five Minutes To Live) & Show # 364

In 1961 a low budget Crime Thriller film was released, it starred Johnny Cash and was entitled Five Minutes To Live. The story portrays a character Johnny Cabot, who gets entangled with a mobster as part of a plan involving the wife of a bank vice president being held hostage. The film also stars a young then unknown Ron Howard, Vic Tayback, and Merle Travis. In addition to this, the story revolves around a gang of people that ring the door bell of an unsuspecting household, killing whoever answers. There is one problem for Cash’s character, while he is a deranged killer, he will not deal with children or harm them for that matter. Johnny Cash also plays guitar throughout the film, as well as providing music for the films soundtrack. There was some confusion to the films title when it was re-released in the late 60s as Door-To-Dorr Maniac. This was not the only film to feature Johnny Cash as an actor, but it was one of the first films to feature him as an actor. He was later in numerous TV movies and shows such as Columbo, The Little House On The Prairie, The Simpsons, Renegade and more. Johnny Cash was not always known for his acting ability, he has appeared in so many things, but they are not all good.  This movie while it itsn't the most elaborate film ever made, it is a strange unique one at that.  The movie, which is now under public domain status, lives on. It is available not only online, but on DVD as well. This is cult classic B-movie material.

What is interesting about the song “Five Minutes To Live” is that it is a seemingly forgotten track in the Cash catalogue, it is briefly mentioned in the linear notes for the Johnny Cash - Bootleg Volume II: Memphis To Hollywood album. The notes make no refrence to the movie of the same name, but the song "Five Minutes To Live" and "The Losing Kind" were recorded for the films soundtrack in November of 1960. The song "Five Minutes To Live" is also sung and played on guitar by Johnny Cash in the film. The rest of the Bootleg Volume II album covers various points in Johnny's early career, ranging from early acoustic demos of songs such as "I Walk The Line", to outtakes and hard to find singles, some of which have never been released in the US in CD or digital form. The album features 57 tracks and is a good showcase of Cash's talents.

This week's program was three hours! I filled in for Some Folk Get The Blues, which usually airs from 9 AM to 10:30 AM. So this week my program was extended by an hour and a half and this week it can be downloaded in two parts. The download links can be found after the play lists below.

This Week's Play List:

Part One
Revolution Blues (Some Folk Get The Blues Fill In)

1. The Stooges - TV Eye (Takes 7 & 8)
2. Sonny Boy Williamson - Eyesight To The Blind
3. Robert Johnson - Milkcow's Calf Blues
4. John Faely - Dance of the Inhabitants of the Palace of King Phillip XIV of Spain
5. Joan Baez - Babe I'm Gonna Leave You
6. Stingin' Hornets - Hornet Hive Hop
7. Crooked Brothers - 17 Horses
8. Johnny West - I'm Not Your Dirty Little Secret Anymore
9. Lonesome Lefty - Millonaires
10. Johnny Cash - Five Minutes To Live
11. Johnny Cash - The Losing Kind
12. The Locusts Have No King - Trench Song (Live)
13. The Ettes - I Stayed Too Late
14. Toques and Beards - Stand Tall
15. Big Sugar - Come A Little Closer
16. Paul Revere & The Raiders - I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone
17. The Modern Lovers - Road Runner
18. Klark Kent - Thrills
19. The Fall - Psykick Dancehall
20. Crocodiles - Flash of Light
21. Rotten Tropics - The Dross
22. Public Image Limited - Pop Tones
23. Twilight Hotel - Viva La Vinyl

Download Part One here.

Part Two
Revolution Rock

24. XTC - Beatdown
25. Crash 80s - Waiting For The Heat
26. The Enigmas - Bad Meat
27. Spiral Scratch - Jimmy Was A Virus
28. The Users - Kicks In Style
29. Terminal Sunglasses - Antenna Dilemma
30. Generation X - This Heat
31. ATV - Action Time Vision
32. Surfer Blood - Territorial Pissings
33. Indian Wars - George Ellis
34. Hoa Hoas - All The Time
35. Papermaps - Forever
36. Simply Saucer - Dance The Mutation
37. The Saints - Erotic Neurotic
38. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dead Man In My Bed
39. The Velvet Underground - Some Kinda Love (Live At Max's Kansas City)
40. Nothing At All - Confused
41. The Hives - Love In Plaster
42. The Black Swans - My Brother
43. The Black Angels - Yellow Elevator # 2
44. Arctic Monkeys - Black Treacle
45. The Black Lips - Leroy Faster

Download Part Two here.

Subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Ballad Of A Thin Man ... Revisited & Show # 363

Originally released in 1965 as part of the Highway 61 Revisited album, "Ballad of A Thin Man" is a song that seems to be surrounded by mystery and question the very definition of what it is to be an artist and not understood by the media. The song, while in album form clocks in around six minutes, when played live (which is still being done) would stretch out to seven minutes and beyond. The song tells the story of a confused Mr. Jones who seems to be lost in a world of people of freaks, not unlike a circus in a bewildered state. Musically the song takes on a darker sophistication, featuring heavy piano, haunting organ, guitar lines that crawl in out of nowhere and a plodding drum pattern. In between all this Dylan unravels a story only like he can attacking while at the same time conveying Mr. Jones and the errors of his ways. So what is this song about? Like great literature it is left open to interpretation, but the song proves, like all of Highway 61 Revisited does that Rock music can be sophisticated and literate. It has been said by Dylan himself that there have been many “Mr. Joneses”.

Speculation has led people to claim that this song originated around the journalist/reporter Jeffery Jones, who interviewed Bob Dylan just before his infamous performance at the 1965 Newport Music Festival, where he went electric. He even claimed so in a Rolling Stone interview at one point, but Dylan had this to say about who is the alleged Mr. Jones in an interview:

"He's a pinboy. He also wears suspenders. He's a real person. You know him, but not by that name... I saw him come into the room one night and he looked like a camel. He proceeded to put his eyes in his pocket. I asked this guy who he was and he said, "That's Mr. Jones." Then I asked this cat, "Doesn't he do anything but put his eyes in his pocket?" And he told me, "He puts his nose on the ground." It's all there, it's a true story."

Anyone who listens to Dylan would come to the realization that like a lot of his songs, this one is open to interpretation. To dissect the song and analyze its meanings is perhaps the very definition of being a “Mr. Jones”. So while some may see it as an outright statement of opinion and a musicians artistic statements, it could also be seen as a song about certain people who hide behind their so called credentials, not really seeing things as they are, instead criticizing and asking why when it is not really relevant. It could also be seen as the world around Mr. Jones being a bizarre circus, because of his close minded perceptions, while in reality it is just the opposite, he is out of touch with the world around him. Then again, "Ballad of A Thin Man" could also be said to just be a great song with a story open to interpretation. It’s up to you.

This Week's Play List:

1. The Lurkers - Mass Media Believer
2. The Jam - Pretty Green
3. The Mods - Wasting My Time
4. The Dishrags - Love/Hate
5. Color Me Psycho - Black Corveir
6. The Ten Commandments - Not True
7. The Haunted - Horror Show
8. 101ers - Sweet Revenge
9. Guided By Voices - Postal Blowfish
10. Lime Spiders - 25th Hour
11. Katalina Kicks - Revolution
12. Brilliant Colors - How Much Younger
13. Deja Voodoo - Red Garlic Shoes
14. Dik Van Dykes - Obvious Filler
15. Rotten Tropics - Murky
16. The Stranglers - Outside Tokyo
17. Johnny West - A Puppet Playing Possum
18. Neil Young International Harvesters - Bound For Glory
19. Television - Marquee Moon (Alternate Version)
20. The Pagans - Not Now, No Way
21. Bob Dylan - Ballad Of A Thin Man (Live ABC Theater Edinburgh, Scotland 1966)