A selection of what has been spinning at Vinyl Connection headquarters recently
“Audio Diary 2014-2018” is a 5-CD set of live King Crimson, and a ripper! Full of brilliantly realised versions of KC music both vintage and newer, it is at times glorious and at others pummelling. Just the way we like it. Released in 2019, it showcases several versions of the formidable touring band, one that fluctuated between 7 and 9 members. Exciting stuff.
Curiously, the odd and slightly disturbing cover art is not credited to a particular artist, but instead to Bearhand Design Studio. Self-portraits by the employees, perhaps?
The 33 ⅓ Book Club that zooms across the Pacific every Thursday lunchtime (or Wednesday evening, depending on your time zone) recently featured volume #51 in the series, Nick Drake’s Pink Moon. It was an enjoyable slice of talking enthusiastically about music while noting the intriguing differences in responses to Drake’s small body of work. Pink Moon is so spare as to be anorexic, perhaps reflecting the unsated hunger of the singer-songwriter for connection, any connection. Personally, I think I prefer the earlier two albums, but there is no doubt that Nick Drake’s final work is haunting and often hauntingly beautiful. The book, by Amanda Petrusich, managed that tricky balancing act of including the author’s own experience while never obscuring the story. I was amongst those who found the long final section on advertising—the album’s title track was used in a beautifully constructed VW television ad, thus propelling Drake into the US consciousness much more memorably than his records managed at the time of release—rather too extended and detailed, but that might be more a reflection on cultural/social mores or even the profession of the reader than any misstep on the part of the writer.
Since then, I’ve been reading the Céline Dion book by Carl Wilson (not the Beach Boy) and finding it absolutely engrossing. Not only is it one of the best music books I’ve read, it has expanded and enriched my understanding of music, art and culture. Big claim, but big ideas are digestibly presented by Wilson in “Let’s Talk About Love”. The chapter titles will clue you in:
- Let’s talk about hate
- Let’s talk about pop (and its critics)
- Let’s talk in French
- Let’s talk about world conquest
- Let’s talk about schmaltz
- Let’s sing really loud
- Let’s talk about taste
- Let’s talk about who’s got bad taste…
At the time of writing, I am yet to actually listen to a song by Ms Dion.
Although this re-issue of Patto’s 1970 debut is a recent purchase, I cannot for the life of me recall what prompted searching it out. Perhaps Nick Saloman mentioned the band? Anyway, this is a nice Esoteric release of a very rare record, one that combines elements of rock, blues-rock and even a kind of proggy free jazz in a way that is peculiarly British (circa turn of that decade). Mike Patto’s voice is not especially my cup of Bovril, but Ollie Halsall’s guitar work (and vibes, too) is outstanding. Creative, exciting, unpredictable. The album does, however, contain one lyric that is so repellent to contemporary sensibilities that I’m afraid it cast a shadow over my enjoyment of this vintage slice of UK underground.
Finally, a record I wrote about for Discrepancy, and keep coming back to. It’s the fifth album from P.J. Harvey (released in 2000) and certainly a move towards the mainstream, but I found it so engaging it became a kind of instant favourite.
Any of these artists ring your bells? And what have others been listening to?