MAGIC MIX

folk . americana . blues . rock&roll

WEEK STARTING 15 Feb

Genre pick of the week Cover of Texas Piano Man by Robert Ellis.
“Hello. I’m Robert Ellis, The Texas Piano Man. I wanted to take a moment to say a few words about this record and what you might expect from it. ‘Texas Piano Man’ is a collection of songs specifically written for my piano driven Rock & Roll band from the great state of Texas. Myself and the guys bring these songs to you in the very spirit of Texas itself; loudly, confidently, over the top, larger than life, at times deadly serious and yet always with a wink and a smile. We invite you to come on in, stay a while, and when you leave take with you the spirit of these songs, the spirit of Texas, and the spirit of The Texas Piano Man himself. Adios!” - Robert

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: From the grand, cinematic soundtrackery of Elton John or off-kilter college-rock keyfoolery of Ben Folds, Robert Ellis skilfully weaves heartfelt piano minimalism into grand classic rock opuses (opii?) within the space of a couple minutes. Perfectly constructed and brilliantly conceived rock and/or roll.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive sky blue vinyl.

A mythical and misplaced masterpiece of lost soft rock and acidic folk funk by a one-hit wonderer lost in the wilderness for four decades. From the producer of Margo Guryan, writer behind Wool, Gerry Mulligan collaborator, Tarantino soundtracker and Wendy & Bonnie confidant, ‘Paint A Lady’ now emerges from folkloric obscurity, to bring a wash of soft psychedelic colour to your vinyl collection and quench the repeat requests of a thirsty new found audience waiting for the rain.

Within certain record collecting circles, especially those who gather under the umbrella that covers fragile niches like ‘acid folk’ and ‘soft rock’, it’s difficult to imagine a time when the legendary Susan Christie album didn’t exist. When Finders Keepers Records first shared the unheard 60s songs like ‘Paint A Lady’, ‘For The Love Of A Soldier’ and ‘Echoes In Your Mind’ with a wide-eyed audience thirsty for organic soul and festival friendly acoustic funk, Susan’s new found fanbase instantly felt like they had known these songs all of their lives. Which is why it’s hard to believe that the music on this lost 60s acetate was only pressed 12 years ago.

As the label’s lucky seventh release in an international discography that now surpasses the 100 mark (and one of a small clutch of English language recordings on the label), ‘Paint A Lady’ has slowly become one of Finders Keepers’ most requested re-releases and with this 2018 edition it is technically accurate to say that this pressing is the first-ever reissue of this elusive and essential album.

The oft overused term ‘mythical’ applies to this album on many levels. Perhaps it’s the woozy nostalgia found within the pop craft of ‘Paint A Lady’ that has led to false rumours that original 1960s copies used to exist on the collectors market, or the bizarre claim that songs like the head-nodding title track and the acid-drenched sound effects on ‘Yesterday Where’s My Mind’ were just a product of a contemporary studio band trying to create a fake folk funk red herring. As a result, Susan Christie and her producer and husband of 40 years, John Hill, have happily taken the repeated phrase ‘unbelievable’ as a compliment to their songwriting skills and foresight.

In all fairness, with a decade to ponder, the original 1969 song titles alone do seem custom- built for the nostalgia market: ‘No One Can Hear You Cry’ might lament the unrequited yearning for a record deal which never quite followed Susan’s won one-hit wonder novelty hit ‘I Love Onions’; similarly, ‘When Love Comes’ might allude to the subsequent 35 year wait for the right label to eventually come along.

‘Echoes In Your Mind’ and the aforementioned ‘Yesterday...’ could easily allude to the haunting melodies that sat in the can on John Hill’s studio shelf while his projects for Margo Guryan, Wool and Pacific Gas & Electric sat proudly in record racks before benefitting successful French cover versions or making their way on to Quentin Tarantino soundtracks. The track ‘Paint A Lady’ itself, complete with its future-proofed sample-worthy rhythm section, seems like the perfect title for a mock rock pseudo psych contender, at which point you eventually step back and see the bigger picture.

These guys were simply one drop too far ahead of their time; a family force of experimental pop perfection that late 60s America simply wasn’t ready for. It is just over 12 years since champion record rustler Keith D’Arcy (who you’ll meet on the inside sleeve) stumbled upon one of the original acetates that led to the final release of ‘Paint A Lady’ and it’s almost a longer 50 years since Susan and John added their final touches to these recordings that tragically went into hibernation for over four decades.

Whether this album has been on your wish-list for what seems like a lifetime, or you are taking your first plunge into this deep puddle, when the needle drops on the first track you’ll find that Susan Christie, John Hill and Finders Keepers have been saving up for a very rainy day.

Brigitte Fontaine - Areski Belkacem

Vous Et Nous

Originally released in 1977, "Vous Et Nous" was the fourth release under the Areski - Fontaine alias, though the French duo had collaborated heavily over the previous decade or so. If you're au fait with their better known 1973 release "Je Ne Connais Pas Cet Homme", you'll be expecting astral folk explorations, arabesque tonalities and chanson-abstractions, and there's certainly a whole load of avant garde acoustics on show here. But "Vous Et Nous" sees the duo pushing the boundary, both in terms of tracklisting (a massive 34 compositions and poems) and technique, exploring electronics in a more direct way than ever before. Check the R2D2 bleeps of the titular opener for a taster, before diving headfirst into the slo-mo cosmic funk of "Patriarcat", a sleazy synth heater if ever I've heard one. On the organic end of the spectrum, "Je Suis Venu Te Voir" calls to mind the pagan jazz of Henri Texier while "Les Épis" takes us on an exotic jazz journey before jumping straight into a cosmic folk heartbreaker.
Experimental, free form and flowing, this is a triumph of expression and inspiration. 

The Long Ryders

Psychedelic Country Soul

    The Long Ryders were formed in 1982 by young American musicians influenced by Gram Parsons, C&W, The Byrds, and the punk scene found in their hometown of Los Angeles. The Long Ryders were an anecdote to formula stadium rock and wimpy synth-pop." The founders of alt-country, The Long Ryders, now release their first new album in over thirty years. Featuring the classic line-up of Sid Griffin, Stephen McCarthy, Tom Stevens and Greg Sowders, it makes the day after Valentine’s Day as much a romantic celebration. The stunning new album follows hot on the heels of the deluxe reissue treatment given to two classic Long Ryders long players, “State of Our Union” and “Two-Fisted Tales”.

    The band featured Sid Griffin on guitar, autoharp, and harmonica, Stephen McCarthy on guitar, steel guitar, mandolin, and banjo, Tom Stevens, bass, and Greg Sowders, playing drums and percussion. With a sound reminiscent of the Buffalo Springfield and The Flying Burrito Brothers, but with a harder edge, they anticipated the alternative country music of the 1990s by a decade. Featuring eleven new Long Ryders compositions and a tribute cover of the late great Tom Petty’s song ‘Walls’, this is a Long Ryders for the 21st century; kicking off with the anthemic ‘Greenville’, a track which proves the band haven’t lost any of that magic guitar interplay. ‘Molly Somebody’ is an eclectic pop tune that doesn’t neglect any of their country and rock sensibilities, while the likes of ‘What the Eagle Sees’ reflects the energy of early punk and power pop that so informed them in the early days. You can still hear their personal connection with the music of the 1960s’, but as ever The Long Ryders aren’t a band who live in the past. Album closer ‘Psychedelic Country Soul’ is the greatest testament to that, performed like the previous 11 songs, with precision and fire; the guitars weave and harmonicas build and ebb, the song spreading like wildfire.

    The Long Ryders have always been celebrated for what they have to say as much as the music they make. With “Psychedelic Country Soul” their message delivered with 12 strings and never-ending harmonies has never been clearer. This is a Long Ryders album which stands up with their classic albums such as “Native Sons” and their unforgettable single ‘Looking For Lewis And Clark’. “Psychedelic Country Soul” will certainly sit on many Best Of lists at the end of the year. But you can note its worthiness when you hear it. It is that good.

    Pentangle

    Basket Of Light

      Basket of Light is the most progressive and complex release by the British folk-rock group Pentangle. Traditional English folk songs are reinterpreted with a mix of jazz, pop and rock influences. Everything their previous works promised is fulfilled here. The album opener “Light Flight” has become their signature song. If there is a prog folk masterpiece then it is Basket Of Light. Pentangle proved they could release a progressive, ground-breaking work without keyboards, much studio trickery or even electric instruments.

      The original Pentangle was active in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The original line-up includes Bert Jansch (vocals & guitar) and John Renbourn (vocals & guitar).


      Pinegrove

      Skylight

        ‘Skylight’ is the follow up to 2016’s widely-acclaimed breakthrough album, ‘Cardinal’.

        The 2CD and 2LP formats come with an entire bonus album, ‘Skylight II’ (the album performed acoustically).

        In 2017, Pinegrove moved into a rural farmhouse in upstate New York to make their new album ‘Skylight’, living, working and recording together. This DIY ethos solidifies Pinegrove’s position at the epicentre of a creative community, where they’ve adopted a ‘friends first’ policy when cycling through the band’s touring iteration.

        ‘Skylight’ is “an album about happiness, figuring out how to be optimistic and realistic. To be effectively optimistic, you have to establish relationships with darkness and disappointment. The position of optimism is earned.” Frontman Evan Stephens Hall’s “classic American melodies” and emotionally direct lyrics blend seamlessly with alt-country instrumentation and experimental rhythms of drummer Zack Levine.

        The band are confident in their idiosyncrasy, dropping pop structures when they no longer fit. The songs swing between wider extremes - whisper to full-belt and back again, treading mid-air - and Pinegrove more exactly, more full-throatedly say what they’ve been trying to say.

        “Divine moments... each slight note has a defined voice” - Pitchfork
        “Explodes just as far as you can see the universe” - NPR
        “Wrapped up in a shimmering, light country twang… raw, honest and velvety” - NME.

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        2xColoured LP Info: Coloured double vinyl LP in gatefold die-cut.

        2xCD Info: 2CD in gatefold die-cut.


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