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Melodic Randomiser Unspooled 1…

image Welcome, one and all, to the first installment of this new archival plundering of my music collection, this time via the little plastic cases of wonder/frustration we folks from the olden days knew as cassettes, or simply “tapes”.

Melodic Randomiser Unspooled will follow the same pattern as the CD version; I shall occasionally dip into my vintage cassette library, progressing through the various boxes of pre- and  home-recorded albums and compilations, posting videos and links to whatever random example of magnetically preserved masterpiece takes my fancy from each trio of tapes.

Since the same principal of chaotic disorganization that ruled my CD racks has been applied to storing my tapes, you never know what sort of strange brew you’ll end up with, with today’s first mixtape being a fine example.

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The Steve Miller band had several pretty big hits, one of them briefly resurrecting Steve’s career, by way of its use in a jeans commercial, although the  track I’ve chosen today isn’t one of his most memorable songs.
This is probably due to the fact that it comes from the 1984 release, Italian X-rays, a bad enough name for an album as it is, without adding insult to injury by swamping any remaining musical credibility with horrible cheesy ’80s synth lines.

I thought I’d go the whole hog and play the one track that’s completely synth-based. I mean, when you’re dealing with cheese, there’s no point in going for half measures is there?

Here’s Bongo Bongo, terrible eighties animated video and all.

Next up, a mixtape in itself, one made for me by a friend, (that noble, pre-internet tradition of music sharing; Hello and thank you, Nick) kicking off with Side One, Various Artists and the first of two tracks, Richard Warren‘s multi-genre project, Echoboy and a song called Kit And Holly

…followed by another man whose style is impossible to pigeonhole, Johnny Dowd and the fabulous Monkey Run.

Side two has a definite theme, beginning with a few songs from Talking Heads Fear Of Music album and I’ve chosen this characteristically spiky offering, Paper

…segueing nicely into a couple of solo David Byrne songs, my favourite of which is this joyously percussive slice of eccentrica, Look Into The Eyeball.

So far, so varied, but tape number three ups the eclecticism ante somewhat, containing as it does a radio recording from ten years ago.
BBC Radio’s One’s “Peel Day” was a celebration of the life and work of veteran DJ, champion of unsigned bands and national treasure, John Peel, who tragically died one year earlier.
The live, all night broadcast featured interviews, live performances and archive sessions by bands and artists who had been mentored by John, had appeared on the show, or were simply inspired to make music by listening to his legendary late night transmissions, from both the BBC and the studio at his family’s home, “Peel Acres”.

The first track that came on when I pressed play (sacrilegiously, the tape hadn’t been rewound!) was instantly recognisable as one of the so called “world music” artists to get regular airplay on John’s show, Kanda Bongo Man.
Listening to Peel was what introduced me to the frenetic rhythms of African music, especially the sort of lively guitar sounds associated with music from Soweto and the Belgian Congo (now called Zaire).
This song from the Congolese superstar reminds me of that thrill of new musical discovery, all those years ago.

This is Sai.

Then, in typical Peel fashion, I was treated to this historic live session recording of Whole Lotta Love by rock’s Golden Gods, Led Zeppelin, from way back in 1969.

Side two of the last in my opening salvo of jukebox tom-spoolery begins with something that, again, couldn’t be more different, a live performance from hardcore electronic experimentalist, Kid 606 and from that set I’ve chosen this, the original video for The Illness.

Which only leaves us with the final song they played in tribute to one of radio’s greatest exponents of new music, the song of which John Peel once said;

“If they ever do a tribute show for me when I die, this’ll be the last song they play.”

A fitting end then, to the inaugural post of the Melodic Randomiser‘s return; ladies and gentlemen, please be upstanding for Roy Harper and When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease.

Thank you for listening.

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The food of love never goes stale…

The food of love never goes stale…

A study was published recently that claims we lose the urge to listen to new music at the age of 33, (although as Ho pointed out, that should be 33 1/3) which was a bit of a shock to me, given that I’m nearly fifty and my desire to discover new, original and interesting things to listen to hasn’t dimmed in the slightest in the last 15 years or so.

It should come as no surprise to regular readers when I say that I’m an obsessive music fan and I see no reason why that should ever change.
No matter if it was rushing to buy the latest 7″ vinyl single from Crowborough’s Revolver Records, back when I was a teenager in Sussex, or trawling the CD racks of independent music shops and record fairs, reading music magazines and blogs, or scouring the internet for obscure gems to download, I’ve never lost what I like to think of as the John Peel spirit, the all-consuming passion for an art form that, almost by it’s very nature, never gets old.

Every generation has its naysayers of course, the “music isn’t like it was in the old days” brigade, because people are instinctively cautious of change. But that’s not an excuse to consign all new music to the cultural bargain bin, because if the change is bad, it won’t last.
And if it’s good, it’ll only get better.

I remember when acid house music first arrived, thinking it was a load of repetitive rubbish, (this, despite being a huge Kraftwerk fan at the time) but it didn’t take long before I found that there was good and bad in this genre, just as there is in any other and I embraced the change.
After all, many of the repetitive, trance-like rhythms used in modern dance music were prominent in the sort of zoned out space rock produced by Hawkwind and I had also been huge a fan of bleepy electronic ’80s music, another much maligned oeuvre in British pop, so it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise that this new wave of electronic bedroom superstars would catch my imagination.
Same with Hip Hop, Drum ‘n’ Bass, Goth, Britpop, Punk, Techno, or any other media-created pigeonhole you care to name, once you listen to enough of anything you’ll realise there’s more to any genre than meets the ear first time round.

I don’t claim to like all music, just for the sake of even-handedness, (I never could get into opera or country and western) and I don’t even claim to be rational or fair in deciding what I do and don’t like, so I’m just like the rest of you in that respect.
We all think our own taste is faultless, of course.
But I do make a serious effort to listen to as much and as many different kinds of music as I possibly can.
At least until I’m sure I really don’t like something.

I mean, why wouldn’t you give yourself the chance to have more things in your life you can enjoy?
Why would you suddenly come to a decision one day and say to yourself “No, I’ve got enough new and interesting experiences in my life already, I think I’ll just go round in circles from now on.”

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgia.
We all fall back on the classics when we need the aural equivalent of a comforting hug from an old friend, but if you’re going to spend two thirds of your life stubbornly looking backwards, won’t the nostalgia, like familiarity, eventually only breed contempt?

It used to be a real treat to hear a slice of joyous eighties pop like a-ha‘s Take On Me, with its groundbreaking video and catchy synth hooks, or any number of earworms by one hit wonders (in the UK at least) such as Bran Van 3000‘s laid back summer groove, Drinking In L.A. or Breakfast At Tiffany’s by jangly also-rans Deep Blue Something, but nowadays, with the proliferation of internet radio stations whose record collections only seem to go up to the late nineties, we have reached nostalgia saturation point and the classic pop tunes of my teenage years are in danger of losing the ability to rekindle memories of my musical youth. (No pun intended)

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But why any of that would stop people from seeking out new material is a complete mystery to me.
The study that claims we lose our musically adventurous nature in our early thirties uses the phrase “taste freeze” to explain the phenomenon, whatever that means, and also correlates the onset of parenthood with the downturn in our interest in checking out new releases.
You’d think that having additional young people playing modern music around the house would expose you to a greater variety of listening opportunities, but apparently not.

So, although I continue to plough through my CD collection in sequential order, an exercise which obviously leads me to play plenty of old familiar tracks, a great many of which can still give me one of those “Oh yeah, I haven’t heard this for years!” moments, which is of course only right and proper, it doesn’t stop me from my pursuit of my Next New Favourite Tune.

With this in mind, and to encourage any of you who are being dragged down by the terrifying scourge of taste freeze, here is a snapshot of the most recent leg of my musical search, via the last three albums I downloaded.

You never know, you might discover something you like…

My advice?
Stay forever young.
Never stop searching out and listening to new music.

[Original blog-toon by Ho]

 
6 Comments

Posted by on May 31, 2015 in Arts, Music, Personal anecdote, Video

 

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