Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The Rolling Stones

Ahead of tomorrow's Rock'n'Roll London Pub Walk (where we call by the place where the Rolling Stones recorded their first album) Adam writes…



Well we've all had time to let it percolate and… isn't it blissful? 

Blue and Lonesome, the Rolling Stones first studio album in ages has been well worth the wait. 

Last year we took the Rolling Stones London walk out with London Walks and I had a lot of fun both meeting fellow Stones fans and making Stones playlists for the tour. I'm sharing a few of them here…

Firstly, a playlist of the originals that the Stones cover on Blue and Lonesome…








Don't forget, you can still book a private Rolling Stones tour for your party or special occasion. Might make a nice birthday/father's day/Christmas present for the grumpy old fart in your life!



The Originals The first versions of the tracks covered by The Stones on their debut album…




The Stones & Chuck Berry – The Master's originals alongside the Stones' covers…




Stones v's Beatles! Contrast and compare the two greatest 60s bands on a level playing field – the songs they covered in common, the artists both bands loved, and George vs. Brian on sitar!
 




Covers of Jagger & Richard Songs…




12 Versions of Satisfaction!







The Rock'n'Roll London Walk is ONLY London Walk with its own dedicated comic book

Written by Rock'n'Roll London guide (and Daily Constitutional editor Adam) it's available in both print & digital formats at the London Bookstore online: londonbookstore.myshopify.com and on The Rock'n'Roll London Walk on Fridays!  

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Best Jukebox In The West End

Ahead of tomorrow's Rock'n'Roll London Walk, Adam writes…


Bradley's Spanish Bar
42-44 Hanway Street, W1




Adam writes…

Bradley's offers continental beers aplenty in a snug little bar (actually two bars, there's a basement, too) and great atmosphere. These aspects alone should be enough to recommend this place.

But best of all is the vinyl jukebox…



Which also makes it the perfect spot to wind down after the Rock'n'Roll London Walk (or even to wind-up before the start!).




Here's how to find Bradley's…






Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Ashes to Ashes

Ahead of tomorrow night's Rock'n'Roll London Pub Walk, Adam writes…

From time-to-time, we spot a famous musician along the route of my Rock'n'Roll London walk. This is London and, as I state in the voice over for the Rock'n'Roll London video, all roads lead here as the capital of the music biz in this country.

But the most memorable sighting along the route of any of my London Walks involved not a star, but an ordinary person.

On any other day, she would have been as anonymous on any London street as you or me. And on any other day I wouldn't have given her a second glance.

I was leading a private musical London tour for a family from New York. It was an all-morning tour and we had taken a taxi to finish at the famous Abbey Road crossing.

We were waiting for the traffic and the crowds to calm down a little so that I could snap the obligatory photo of the family on the world's most famous cross walk. As we waited our turn, I noticed that one woman was crossing back and forth. Not in a conspicuous way. She would walk, at a regular pace from one side of the road to the other, pause for a few moments, and then cross back.

It's not uncommon for fans to pose for two-or-three "takes" - if you've come a long way to get this shot then it would be a shame if it wasn't right.

But as we waited for our turn - it was a particularly busy morning at Abbey Road – something caught my eye as the woman, in her 50s, maybe her 60s, crossed again.

It first glance I thought she was smoking - a cigarette or vape contraption was creating wispy clouds from her hand (Paul, after all, has a fag on in the famous sleeve).

But the cloud wasn't drifting up. It was falling down.

It was then I realised… she was scattering ashes.

It was a discreet and very moving scene.  





The Rock'n'Roll London Walk meet on Fridays at 2pm Tottenham Court Road tube (exit 1). (We visit the Abbey Road crossing on The Beatles walking tours)

Thursday, 18 May 2017

London Record Stores: Reckless Records

Ahead of tomorrow's Rock'n'Roll London Walk, Adam writes… 



Reckless Records



A very forward-looking establishment, is Reckless Records: they even sell those new-fangled compact-disc thingies. Quite a good selection, too.

But the real treasure trove here is the vinyl. Second hand records, a great selection spread over most genres in a central location.

They even keep a copy of What’s The Story Morning Glory in the window, with a little sticker attached with the words You Are Here. For indeed you are – Berwick Street was where the sleeve for that fabled Oasis album was shot.




The Rock'n'Roll London walk meets at Tottenham Court Road tube (exit 1) 2pm and passes near Reckless Records…






Here's the video for the Rock'n'Roll London walk…




Tuesday, 16 May 2017

All Along The Watchtower

Ahead of tomorrow's Rock'n'Roll London Pub Walk, Adam writes…


All Along The Watchtower has has developed something of a mythology all its own (even for a Dylan song). It first appeared on 1968's enigmatic (even for a Dylan album) John Wesley Harding. Since the late 70's Dylan has performed it live more often that any other song. Reflecting this it features on no less than four live albums.

For many it is a mystical classic - are there echoes of the Tarot in The Joker and The Thief? Dylan biographer Clinton Haylin found parallels with the Book of Isaiah (21:5-9) . For others yet, Dylan's Greenwich Village comrade-in-song Dave Van Ronk for example, it's the emperor's new clothes.

Hendrix's version was a no. 20 hit in the US and arguably has taken the song to a wider post-60s audience than the original album version by Dylan. In a further twist of mythology, soon-to-be-ex-Rolling Stone Brian Jones played piano on the track (sadly edited out).

The song was chosen by director Bruce Robinson to soundtrack the crumbling Camden Town of 1969, a visual metaphor for the death of the 60s, in his movie Withnail & I. Here's the scene… 





The following playlist brings together 10 versions of the song – beginning with the Jimi Hendrix Experience version and Dylan's original John Wesley Harding cut.

Patti Smith rasps and growls through a live version at CBGB's in 1979; Bobby Womack's version finds the groove; U2's version from Rattle & Hum, features Adam Clayton's dumb as a quarterback with concussion bassline anchoring Edge's unusually discordant guitar and Bono's strangely tentative delivery. 

Thea Gilmore's crystal vocal makes the arrangement around her shimmer. Bryan Ferry serves the song surprisingly well, pulling back on his famously mannered vocals (wish I could say the same for the soft rock arrangement, so earnest it makes me miss the U2 version.) Ferry knows what he's doing, though, and has previous Dylan form – see also his A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (1973). Paul Weller goes percussive AND soulful on his 2004 covers album Studio 150. Perhaps most intriguing is Pulitzer Prize-winning classical and Oscar-winning soundtrack composer John Corigliano's arrangement for soprano voice (here Israeli-born, Julliard-educated operatic soprano Hila Pitmann). What's interesting about this version is that the arrangement changes with each new thought/idea in the lyric – allowing us to explore the emotions in the song. It's hysterical, angry, confused, reflective and weary by turns.

The playlist closes with one of Dylan's own live versions – this from the Live at Budokan album (1978).




Friday, 12 May 2017

A #PinkFloyd Word Cloud & A Syd Playlist

Adam writes…



As regular Daily Constitutionalists and Rock'n'Roll London Walkers are already aware, I have been spending a lot of time with Pink Floyd in the run-up to my Pink Floyd London Walk on Saturday 17th June.

For a bit of fun, I pasted just one page of my notes into a word cloud generator. I think it gives a bit of the flavour of the walk…




By way of a warm-up, here's a Syd Barrett-flavoured playlist, featuring my 10 favourite Syd songs from early demos, to the first two Floyd albums and his brace of elusive solo records…




The Pink Floyd London walk is on Saturday 17th June at 10:45a.m meeting at Leicester Square tube…




You can book in advance here…





Here's a trailer for the walk…





Thursday, 11 May 2017

On This Day In Rock'n'Roll… 1963

On this day in Rock’n’Roll history 1963… The Beatles began a 30 week run at the No.1 spot in the UK album charts with their debut album Please Please Me.



The album sleeve – by Angus McBean – was shot at EMI’s headquarters in Manchester Square. The Fabs returned to the same spot in 1969 for a photo shoot that would eventually end up on the sleeve of the Apple album known by many fans as “The Blue Album” (actually titled simply 1967 – 1970)





The next Rock'n'Roll London Walk meets on Friday at 2pm Tottenham Court Road tube…


Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Train Songs & The London Underground in Rock & Pop

Ahead of tomorrow's Rock'n'roll London Pub Walk, Adam writes…



The Musical London Underground Top Five


1. Graham Bond and Finsbury Park 

Born in Romford in 1937, the under-appreciated Graham Bond was a big mover and shaker in the early days of the British R&B boom. His band The Graham Bond Organisation featured Jack Bruce on bass and Ginger Baker on drums with Bond taking care of keyboard and vocal duties. He died under the wheels of a train at Finsbury Park tube station in 1974. His manifold mental health issues, heavy drug use, financial problems and dwindling commercial success all seem to have contributed to his suicide. I'll be chatting about him this afternoon on the Rock'n'Roll London Walk.

My favourite track of his is Long Tall Shorty recorded for Decca in 1964…



2. Bond Street and The Jam

The Jam's Down In The Tube Station At Midnight
, a four-minute post-Punk Play For Today about racially aggravated assault made No.15 in the UK chart in 1978. The sleeve featured a shot taken at Bond Street Underground station…




3. Fab Macca at Leicester Square

Dame Paul McCartney busks at Leicester Square tube in the movie Give My Regards To Broad Street.


4. Liverpool Street

NME journo Tony Parsons interviewed The Clash on a Circle Line train in the spring of 1977. According to Parsons, they all alighted Liverpool Street tube to take amphetamine sulphate in a photo booth on the platform.


5. Chalk Farm and Madness

The 1980 album Absolutely sees Madness pose outside Chalk Farm tube. Perhaps a signal failure at Kennington had prevented them from shooting the sleeve inside…?




For good measure, here's a train song playlist entitled For Those In Peril On the Northern Line…











Here's the trailer for the Rock'n'Roll London Pub Walk…

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Monday, 8 May 2017

A Cat Song Playlist

Adam writes…


I'm playing a short set at the Alley Cat Bar in Denmark Street on Wednesday as part of my Rock'n'Roll London Pub Walk.

Here's a picture of The Alley Cat



… and here's a picture of my daughter's cat Natasha




… and here's a cat-themed playlist. 16 cat-related tunes…






I've included Syd Barrett's Lucifer Sam from Pink Floyd's first album Piper at the Gates of Dawn – the title was inspired by his pet Siamese. Stevie Wonder is on there, too - Superstition makes the list thanks to its mention of a black cat. And there's The Cramps doing Can Your Pussy Do The Dog? Make of that what you will. And I've added one lion (from Lloyd Cole) and one tiger (no cat playlist complete without the Rocky III theme).


And I would like due credit for resisting the following cat-music puns in the naming of the playlist…

Cat's The Way U-Huh U-Huh I Like It

Meeow That's What I Call Music

The Ace Of Spayeds



The Rock'n'Roll London Pub Walk with LIVE Music meets at Tottenham Court Road tube on Wednesday nights at 7pm.

 You can book ahead for the Rock'n'Roll London Pub Walk with LIVE Music via EventBrite













Friday, 5 May 2017

By The Way, Which One's Pink? The Pink & The Floyd In #PinkFloyd

Ahead of the Pink Floyd London Walk on 17th June, a little bit of background listening…


Way back in '65, upon discovering that his band's name The Tea Set was already being used by another group, Syd Barrett took the name of blues singer and guitarist Pink Anderson and merged it with Floyd Council, a blues guitarist and mandolin player. 


Floyd Council was born in North Carolina in 1911. No recordings exist of Council on his own, but he did record fairly often backing others, including Blind Boy Fuller – three such tracks feature on the playlist below.


Pinkney "Pink" Anderson was born in South Carolina in 1900. He began his music career by performing in the medicine show of one Dr William R. Kerr and the Indian Remedy Company. His work was recorded in the 1950s by folklorist Paul Clayton. 







The Pink Floyd London Walk is on 17th June 2017 at 10.45a.m…




You can book ahead for the event here…




Here's a trailer for the walk…






Thursday, 4 May 2017

The Great London Sleeves: The Supremes At the Talk of the Town

Adam writes…


Spring, when a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of Motown.

With apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson…


From time-to-time I update my series on The Great London Sleeves here on The Daily Constitutional. I'm in a quandary today with this one…


 

Not sure if it qualifies as a great London sleeve – the pic could have been taken anywhere.

As a great album, however, it is, for this listener, unimpeachable. And fascinating, too. It dates from one of rock and pop's twilight periods: it's 1968 and pop groups are getting bigger in sound and scope. Rock Opera is in the air and "prog" is just around the corner.

So what becomes of the pop group who can't, or simply doesn't want to evolve in such a fashion? What happens when critical opinion is leaving them behind, when fashion has turned its back? They go back, that's what, regress to a reassuring, tried and tested earlier model. In this case, it's back to the late 50s when pop was viewed as merely the youth branch of showbiz, with no potential to evolve, where acts would have their half dozen chart topping hits and then "graduate" into adult showbiz, cabaret, musicals and movies.

1968 was an uncertain time for singles bands, when the album was becoming king. And The Supremes were one of the ultimate singles bands.

The Talk of the Town was London's famous cabaret venue, established by Bernard Delfont in 1958 at the Hippodrome Theatre in the West End (a Frank Matcham designed theatre opened in 1900). Judy GarlandFrank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald played seasons there. Ethel Merman made her only British appearances at The Talk of the Town.

In February '68 Diana Ross and The Supremes were in residence. Founder member Flo Ballard had been ousted and Motown boss Berry Gordy had changed the band's name from The Supremes to Diana Ross &amp; The Supremes. New member Cindy Birdsong made her British live debut with the group on this album.

Both Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger were said to have attended the shows and the album finds the group poised half-way between show tunes and pop. The album opens with the Rodgers and Hart number With A Song In My Heart (The Supremes Sing Rodgers and Hart had been the band's most recent LP, and the last with Flo Ballard). But the Live At London's Talk Of The Town album still has enough Holland-Dozier-Holland classics to keep the purists happy – Stop In the Name Of Love and Reflections, to name but two. There's even a nod to the locals with a medley of McCartney's Yesterday and Michelle.


As a music fan, I cannot remember a time when I did not love Motown

I was seven years old when my elder brother left home and he left behind two LP's that he no longer wanted: Beatles For Sale and the compilation Motown Chartbusters Vol.3. The latter featured three Diana Ross and the Supremes numbers: I'm Gonna Make You Love Me (with The Temptations), No Matter What Sign You Are and Love Child. I have been hooked ever since.

I was delighted a couple of years ago when The Supremes became the subject of my daughter's school homework. She was seven years old at the time and for Black History Month she had to find out five facts about a black musician or band. After rummaging through my LP's, she whittled it down to Billy Preston, Ray Charles and The Supremes. The Supremes came out on top. "Why The Supremes?" I asked. "Because they are girls," she replied.

The opportunity to discuss Black History Month AND Girl Power all in one simple lesson. And we got to listen to The Supremes – the band I had first heard when I was aged 7, too. It was the perfect Sunday morning.



One of my favourite music books takes its name from a Supremes classic. Where Did Our Love Go? The Rise &amp; Fall Of The Motown Sound (above) by Nelson George was published in 1985.

My copy has a dedication on the first page, written by my girlfriend of the time, a fantastic and forthright woman called Sarah. She was clearly tired of me banging on about music…

 


Advice that I duly ignored. If I had taken the hint (!) I wouldn't have been able to help my daughter with her homework all those years later. And I wouldn't be leading the Rock'n'Roll London Walk this afternoon.



I've been talking about The Supremes (but NOT boring ANYONE to death, thanks Sarah!) for 41 years now. I'll be doing it again when we pass The Hippodrome on the Rock'n'Roll London Walk. Come and join me.



Here's the trailer for the Rock'n'Roll London Walk…






The Rock'n'Roll London walk is ONLY London Walk with its own dedicated comic book! Written by Rock'n'Roll London guide Adam you can buy a print copy  at the London Bookstore online: londonbookstore.myshopify.com

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

A Plaque For Bon Scott #ACDC

As we wend our way home from tonight's Rock'n'Roll London Pub walk, we raise a glass to Bon Scott…

Down in deepest South London I found this plaque a few months ago…




Whether it is still there or not, I've been unable to confirm but it is placed near the spot where AC/DC singer Bon Scott died. 

It's not an English Heritage plaque, it's not even a Southwark blue plaque. It's not even faintly "official". It seems to have been dedicated by a bloke called Nev.

Bon Scott's "official" plaque can be found in Kirriemuir, Scotland, Scott's birthplace (also the birthplace of J.M Barrie). 

So it's good to have a commemoration here in London, too. 

Nice one Nev, good job.



The next Rock'n'Roll London Walk is on Friday at 2pm, meet at Tottenham Court Road tube. Here's the preview vid…



Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Catch-Up Stop For The @londonwalks Rock'n'Roll #London #Pub Walk

A Practical Detail…

As you already know, the Rock'n'Roll London Pub Walk with LIVE Music takes place every Wednesday night meeting at Tottenham Court Road tube (exit 1).

Often, through no fault of their own (ahem), people can be late for the tour…




If you are late, the catch up stop is the Alley Cat Bar in Denmark Street – we'll be there by 7.30.



If we are NOT at the Alley Cat when you get there you can either…

a) Get yourself a nice drinkie and wait for us…




or…


b) Go back out onto Denmark Street and look for the group – Denmark Street is a very short street and the group will look a little bit like this…





See you at 7pm on Wednesday night!

NB. By the time the walk is finished there is a top notch blues jam at the Alley Cat in full swing every Wednesday.