Friday, 31 October 2008

Hound Dog Taylor

Theodore Roosevelt 'Hound Dog' Taylor and The HouseRockers were not musically flashy, but they were fun. Also, they had no bass player. Hound Dog wasn't technical or smooth, but that's why it was cool!

An album link.

The music is mean-sounding, but really fun! it is not possible to talk about the music, without saying a little bit about the man. It's almost as though he was destined to be larger than life. He played electric slide guitar and sang. I don't care what anyone says; Hound had a fantastic style of playing and a real sense of humour, within his music! He was born in Mississippi, with six fingers on each hand! Later, he would use a straight razor to cut off one of his extra digits.

One of his influences, was fellow slide guitarist, Elmore James. I would recommend both men highly.

Like many blues musicians, Taylor was active musically for most of his life; from the 1950s, until his death in 1975.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Son of Dave: '03'. A review!

I just bought (from iTunes) the album 03 by Son of Dave. I'm listening to it right now, as I write this.

It's amazing -- this guy is one cool dude! As the video would suggest, he operates as a one-man band.

Although, in the coolest possible sense.

This is how it works:
  • Amplified harmonica
  • Rattle in the other hand
  • Vocals, mixed with beat-boxing
  • A machine, that can handle digital loops
He does it all, at once!

(I don't want to shortchange the guy, by adding the video to this post; I just wanted to show how good it really is.) His blog and MySpace are worth looking at, also.

The music on this album really has the spirit of the blues -- but with some noteworthy twists. I have never heard it done quite like this, before. There is a lot of wry humour in the lyrics and presentation, too. It won't be a kind of blues that you are used to hearing; but that's what makes it exciting. The shadow of the old blues tradition can be heard, but something truly original, too.

I suppose that's what makes an artist: to take one's influences, honour them, but take it somewhere else!

Give this album a go. There is real musicianship and originality, here. Besides, it's just so juicy!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

All music is current and important

For most of my life, the music that I listen to has been consigned to the 'classic rock' or, 'oldies' sections. For some reason, others seem to find this amusing. I have been told, for most of my life, that I like 'old' music. The posters in my room -- depicting Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, and The Doors -- suggest to others that it is impossible for me to move beyond 1975.

It has always annoyed me greatly, although I am aware that it should not. Many people have no idea how to relate to my musical tastes. I don't believe that there is any relationship between the music's age, and its validity. Music that is older, seems also to be less relevant, in the eyes of many others. With the exception of, perhaps, classical music -- other music that is older, is viewed as an antiquated novelty. What's more, it loses its cultural and social significance. That is, in itself, a great loss.

Now, it is most important of all to be contemporary; to have one's finger on the pulse. Much of what is popular, musically, has no soul, or social conscience. We are losing much, in the act of discarding music that is older. In fact, I have done everything possible to move against the grain. I like to find music that was made because something needed to be said. Maybe, it was made just because it could be made!

I know that labels and categories, in record stores, exist so that albums can be sold. Sometimes,
Though, those labels can imply other things. That less importance is given to the music in that category, for example; that it is no longer relevant or current... and so on.

Next time, find the music which has been discarded, forgotten, or ridiculed -- it may surprise you.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Feel so good: the blues

Some videos, that are worth seeing. The blues is not necessarily associated with feeling upset.

Feel so good -- Dr Isaiah Ross

Poor boy long way from home -- Booker White

(I'm pretty sure this is actually Bukka White, using another name.)

Terraplane blues -- Michael Pickett (cover)

I just had to put these out there... Enjoy!

All credit and respect to the musicians. This is incredible footage. Obviously, it is not my own. I would encourage everyone to go out, and try listening to the blues.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Selective journalism

Recently, I was watching a documentary about the private ownership of our news media; specifically, how it can (and does) affect the material that the consumer is able to access.

The example used in this case was Fox News. Its ownership by Rupert Murdoch, quite obviously influences its content -- and how it is presented. In recent times, it has become, rather than being objective, a proponent of a particular political viewpoint. Murdoch's views become those of the network, too. This is not necessarily surprising, and he is entitled to do whatever he wishes with his money and political clout. However, the problem arises because this particular viewpoint is not presented as being opinion, or even a report that may have particular leanings; it is presented as unadorned fact. Obviously, this is misleading. I'm not saying that the particular political conservatism is negative, but it should be presented for what it is.

I would have no problem, if someone were to admit that something was closer to an editorial, than to the news. If this is the case, it must be admitted to. Bias is not the issue, here. What's going down, is going down covertly!

I'm sure that somebody with liberal political views could make a very liberal news outlet, with the same results. Either way, it would not be news. The big problem occurs when something that is not news, is presented as if it were completely unbiased.

We are getting to the point now, in this western world, where news can be heavily embellished or pushed solely in the direction of a particular viewpoint, solely because the person who owns the station has money. And nobody knows any differently. The way I understand it, news something that is presented to the reader or viewer, with a little bias as possible.

News was once something objective. Maybe journalism can still be saved.

Friday, 10 October 2008

2008 campaign trail. American politics... McCain

The Republican bid for the 2008 US election, is rather frightening. At least, in my opinion. I am not an American, and I am happy to say that I don't know as much about American politics, as those who study it. Although I am not a political expert, I have been following it quite closely.

So far, I am a staunch Obama supporter. He seems to have the attitude, the youth, and the policies to bring about some very positive changes. He is an eloquent speaker, a seemingly likeable person, and an intelligent man. Some of his speeches have been amazing!

I have nothing but respect for John McCain, as a person. He is tough, a war hero, intelligent; and someone who stands up for what he believes is right. From policy standpoint, however, we disagree. I don't think I could ever stand behind someone so politically conservative. I have a feeling that, if John McCain were to succeed in his presidential bid -- it would be George W. Bush's policies, all over again. Even for someone who doesn't live in America, that is a big deal! Change is important!

Also, there is John McCain's Vice President candidate, Governor Sarah Palin. Staunchly right wing, she is fiercely pro-life and an avid game hunter. I'm presenting this, so that you can make of it what you will. I don't intend to be overly critical of politically-conservative America. Sarah Palin certainly seems to be attracting a lot of public attention, though. Every political issue is approached with the same kind of benign, folksy charm... It is a little scary. The Governor from Alaska is against abortion, even in cases of rape, or incest. That is more than a little frightening.

Then, there is the fact that a great deal of what she says does not make sense, in a political context. It would be perfectly okay, if Palin weren't running for the second-highest office in the United States. The amusing thing is that she seems to be stealing, inadvertently, much of the spotlight from McCain. What's more, she cannot recall one single newspaper, which she reads on a regular basis. It is one of many examples of these kinds of occurrences.

There is more to be said... maybe next time.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Charlie Patton: From 78s, to iTunes!

This record used to be the only way that anyone had a chance of being exposed to a musician such as Charlie (or Charley) Patton, or Blind Willie Johnson -- that is, unless you had been lucky enough to see them in person.

Then again, in the time of pre-war blues, the musicians were incredibly obscure. There was no powerful or instantaneous media to spread the word about your music; no national tours; very few, if any, music magazines, to give your record a good review... you get the idea. It must have been tough, to say the very least. In fact, it was very difficult for musicians of that time period to achieve any recognition, at all -- beyond the area in which they lived. In fact, most of the frame that musicians such as Patton achieved, occurred posthumously.

Now, we find ourselves in the age of digital music. It had brought about a really strange phenomenon -- which was helped along by the blues revival, in the 1960s. Through services like iTunes and, it's now possible to gain almost instant access to music. Along with the obvious addition of what is in the charts at the time, it is possible to find some very good (and in some cases obscure) music.

Also, it's possible for music fans to communicate on a much larger scale; by virtue of the Internet. So, all of a sudden, I have the opportunity to listen to Charlie Patton , Robert Johnson, Son House, Blind Willie Johnson, and so many others.

Further info:

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Why Martin Luther King's opposition to Vietnam is relevant today.

Many would agree with me, in my belief that the wisdom of Dr Martin Luther King is just as relevant today, as it ever was. There are people, whose views, actions, and causes -- are always worth hearing about and studying -- here is one such person. Dr King's actions and words remain an inspiration to many people, including myself. The war in Vietnam has long been over, and Dr King is sadly no longer with us. However the life that this man lived and his beliefs about recurrent issues -- such as war, peace, the building of human relationships, and standing up for what you believe in -- these issues always need to be spoken about and acknowledged.

The war in Iraq has once again brought to light the fact of widespread public opposition to a foreign conflict. As a Christian, and as a human being, King felt morally and theologically opposed to the war. Many other people felt they could not support the war in Vietnam; for a multitude of reasons. Obviously, it led to widespread protests and resistance of other kinds.

As is attested to, in the speech above, Martin Luther King felt that he could no longer remain quiet about the war. The opposition was delivered in typical style: eloquently, passionately, and humanely. This is, perhaps, the most effective and commendable form of protest. Upon engaging in the very act of protest, Dr King was putting his reputation as a much admired public figure, on the line.

I am talking so much about King and Vietnam, because attitudes to that conflict very much echo the attitudes of some areas of the population, to the war in Iraq. There is widespread public protest to what is going on, it is misunderstood on many levels, and many don't support the troop deployment or occupation.

I believe Dr King's attitude to Vietnam was admirable. Also, it can teach us a lot about morality, in the face of war. It is possible to be opposed to something, without being hostile.

Actually, it's just about how to get along. I think it is amazing that this man can still teach us so much.