Music Notes: June 2019

June 30, 2019 at 1:32 pm (Uncategorized)

I missed last month, but here’s June.

1 Endless Boogie

Not going to list any albums because all of them are excellent. Churning, chugging blues-rock jams that just go on until they’re done. Sort of like if John Lee Hooker (from whom the band take their name) was a member of the Velvet Underground when they recorded “Sister Ray.”

2. Thea Gilmore – Small World Turning

I first heard of Thea Gilmore a decade or so back when a friend gave me one of her albums. Very talented English singer-songwriter. Great new record of beautiful songs

3. Aldous Harding – Designer 

OK, New Zealand singer-songwriter. Some might compare to the previous entry on this list, but it’s not at all the same. Excellent songs. Compelling listening.

4. Jon Spencer, CatL and the Layrite Boys at the Horseshoe

The Horseshoe might be my favourite live venue in Toronto, so this turned out to be a wonderful evening with three great bands. The Layrite Boys are a bluegrass duo. Not usually my kind of thing, but they were pretty impressive. CatL are probably my favourite local band. A blues-punk duo who are incredible live. As good as the studio albums are, live is better. And Jon Spencer. Nuff said. Promoting a solo record, Spencer Sings the Hits, and he did.

5. Jon Langford at the Horseshoe

Langford is a founding Mekon, Waco Brother and too many side and solo projects to list. Seeing him play to a small, but appreciative crowd at the Horseshoe was a treat. Always an entertainer!

6. The Heartbreakers – LAMF : The Definitive Edition

Hmm. a 4-CD version of the Heartbreakers’ only album might seem excessive, but it’s still a very cool thing to have. The lost ’77 mixes, the original album cleaned-up, demos and alternative takes, 4 badges and a 44-page booklet all in a clam-shell case. Who wouldn’t want to have this?

7. The White Stripes – The Complete Peel Sessions

Nice live set from the band. Jack’s guitar is outstanding, but Meg’s drums are a little scruffy in the mix. To be honest though, I think my favourite part was hearing John Peel at the start.

8. Here to be Heard – The Story of the Slits 

Terrific documentary on the Slits featuring some amazing early video. Great stuff

9. Richard Thompson – 13 Rivers

Some people only have so many good songs in them. Their first records are great, and then there’s a slow decline punctuated by occasional moments of, “well, that wasn’t so bad.” I’m not talking about Thompson. He is part of that other class of musician who effortlessly creates new and brilliant songs with every record. This is another.

10. The Rolling Thunder Review: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese

The key word is “story.” Scorsese takes archival footage and mixes it with a version of what might have been (Sharon Stone’s segment for example) to create a Dylan version (think I’m Not There). Not for the casual Dylan fan, but well worth the two hour length for those who are serious about their Dylan.

And finally. I don’t think I can let this go by  any longer without comment:  The question of Morrissey. I was a big Smiths fan., and I’m not alone. Morrissey’s lyrics, along with Johnny Marr’s music represent the music of a generation. The Queen is Dead might well be the greatest British album of the eighties. Yet Morrissey’s recent statements in favour of the far-right group For Britain and his statements on race cast a shadow over that work. Should it? Morrissey has often favoured and courted controversy around UK and American politics, and his advocacy of animal rights and vegetarianism have often seemed designed to provoke. The endorsement of an explicitly racist organization seems to go down an altogether different path.

The question of whether you can enjoy the work on an artist or performer whose views of behaviour you abhor is not new. From the list above, I can enjoy Johnny Thunders’ work without sharing his views on the use of heroin. I like the Slits without endorsing Ari-Up’s parenting style or her view on cancer treatment. I still listen to Phil Spector’s records. And Ike Turner. Both were horrible human beings. They are not alone in this. I’m still processing Morrissey’s turn. Nick Cave has written a piece on this question which is worth reading. 

Till next time.

 

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