folk . americana . blues . rock&roll

WEEK STARTING 2 Dec

Genre pick of the week Cover of Fireside Stories (Hebden Bridge Circa 1971-1974) by Trevor Beales.

Trevor Beales

Fireside Stories (Hebden Bridge Circa 1971-1974)

    Anti-counter culture loner folk from a teenage attic in the heart of rural Northern hippiedom.

    Today the valley town of Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire is world-renowned as something of a bohemian backwater. It wasn’t like this back in the late 1960s and the early 1970s, when a disparate selection of radicals, drop-outs, heads, musicians, artists and writers started to be attracted to the Calder Valley. Local lad and future poet laureate Ted Hughes called the area “the fouled nest of industrialisation”.

    Over time, those seeds of radicalism and collectivism ensured Hebden Bridge evolved into a place where people could be themselves and all shades of individual oddness not only tolerated but actively encouraged. But back at the turn of the dreary 1970s it remained a monochrome world defined by its unforgiving surrounding landscapes, where the old gritstone over-dwellings were stained with soot and rain lashed down for weeks.

    It was here that Trevor Beales, who was born in 1953, grew up, and from where he drew musical and lyrical inspiration.

    Perhaps it was this dual nationality heritage, unusual in the valley’s largely white working class population at the time, that gave the teenager Trevor Beale’s music an outsider’s perspective. The discovery of Bob Dylan, Django Reinhardt, The Byrds and James Taylor at a young age, lead to him picking up a guitar at the age of ten, and he was soon writing his own originals and performing them at local (though often remote) folk clubs and pubs.

    Recorded in the attic of the family home at Ivy Bank in Charlestown on the verdant wooded slopes at the edge of Hebden Bridge between 1971 and 1974, these early recordings are collected here for the first time and mark Trevor Beales long-overdue solo debut.

    In these songs is a suffer-no-fools sense of realism that is defiantly Northern, yet also expresses a worldliness that belies Beales’ young years, whilst also showcasing an inherent storyteller’s ear for narrative. Here is a postcard from the past at that crucial musical period of transition, when the idealistic exponents of the 1960s emerged into an austere new decade that was to be shaped by strikes, rising unemployment and economic upheaval.

    Two aspects of this music make it remarkable: Beales’ natural ability showcases a sophisticated guitar-picking style that was leagues ahead of many of his (older, more recognised) contemporaries. This is music that can confidently hold its own with pioneers such as Davey Graham, Michael Chapman, Dave Evans, Bert Jansch and Jackson C Frank, as influenced by jazz, blues and steel guitar as any of the old songbook classics from ancient Albion.

    Secondly, his lyrics are a far cry from either the naïve bedroom scribblings of a teenager who has barely left his upland home, nor do they fall foul of the type of lazy cliches and sub-Tolkien imagery that was still in abundance in the early 1970s. Most remarkably the earliest songs here were laid down less than a year after he left school (an unearthed report written by his headteacher on July 3rd 1970 noted he had “a considerable ability and interest in music”, though his education ended abruptly when he simply walked out of a science lesson one sunny day while at sixth form, never to return).

    Trevor’s music is grounded in reality – his reality. ‘Then I’ll Take You Home’, for example, considers the Guru Marajai, who encouraged his acolytes to give over their worldly possessions, yet who drove a Rolls Royce and lived like a playboy. Unsurprisingly, this latest in a long line of spiritual charlatans found several followers in Hebden Bridge, and Beales casts a disdainful eye over the growing popularity for such false prophets.

    With its ancient narratives and propensity for myth-making, folk has certainly produced it’s fair share of cult figures who have enjoyed rediscovery or career resurgence and with this debut compilation of home recordings, rescued from cassette tapes, Trevor Beales might just be the latest addition. Certainly he was the real deal.

    Crucially, Beales' music is never jaded or cynical, but instead possesses a poet’s ear, a strong sense of self and some sound critical faculties. And much of it recorded at an age when he could neither vote nor order a pint of heavy.
    Trevor Beales died suddenly and unexpectedly on March 29th 1987, aged 33. He left behind Christine and their young child Lydia. 


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Another wonderful collection of folk from the ever-brilliant Basin Rock here. One of my favourite LP's from earlier this year was the stunning Andrew Tuttle LP, and though this shares similar instrumental leanings, it's from significantly closer to home, focusing on the early 70's in the Calder Valley.

    TRACK LISTING

    Side A
    1. Marion Belle
    2. Tell Me Now
    3. Dance Of The Mermaids
    4. City Lights
    5. The Old Soldier
    6. Sunlight On The Table
    Side B
    7. Metropolis
    8. The Prisoner
    9. Braziliana
    10. Then I'll Take You Home
    11. Ocean Of Tears
    12. Fireside Story 

    BATTS

    The Nightline

      BATTS is the project of Melbourne based singer-songwriter and producer, Tanya Batt. After collaborating with NASA on her debut record ‘The Grand Tour’, Batt turned her sights back to Earth collaborating on this record with American artists - Sharon Van Etten & Deep Sea Diver. It was made in the Australian bush with her band members and honounary sixth member Alex O'Gorman engineering, surrounded by horses and lorikeets often joining the band for lunch.

      The Nightline’s open-book honesty traces the contours of grief, trauma and living with disabling chronic illness, following Batt’s diagnosis with Vestibular Migraine and PPPD. Her unflinching ability to deal with deeply emotive subject matter, and her ambitious vision as a producer. After the passing of her father-in-law in 2019, Batt focused on making an album he would have loved.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. The Nightline
      2. All That I Need
      3. Summer In London
      4. Blue Feat. Sharon Van Etten
      5. Call It What It Is
      6. Broken Toes
      7. Reassess The Marks
      8. Warm Wine
      9. Temporary Selfish Behaviour
      10. Free
      11. Linger Feat. Deep Sea Diver
      12. Keeping On

      Johnny Cash

      With His Hot And Blue Guitar - Sun Records 70th Anniversary Edition

        All legends start somewhere, and With His Hot and Blue Guitar is where the legend of Johnny Cash began.

        Newly remastered in honor of Sun Records’ 70th Anniversary, Cash’s debut album was also the first LP issued by Sam Phillips on the legendary label.

        TRACK LISTING

        Rock Island Line
        I Heard That Lonesome Whistle 
        Country Boy
        If The Good Lord's Willing
        Cry, Cry, Cry
        Remember Me
        So Doggone Lonesome
        I Was There When It Happened
        I Walk The Line
        The Wreck Of The Old '97
        Folsom Prison Blues
        Doin' My Time

        Thee Escapees

        Breaking Out

          Thee Escapees are a trio of runaways, re-grouping to make and perform musical happenings, some of which are now laid into two continuous grooves. Inspired by the sounds of 1960's Garage-Beat -Trash, with a mixture of Rhythm & Blues, and a Rock n Roll beat, that's gonna knock your towelling socks off!! Based in London, England, they've played in some cracking bands over the years, Their influences are The Vibes, The Yardbirds, Nine Below Zero, The Milkshakes, The Sonics and Bo Diddley. Get the picture? Breaking Out is a thirteen-strong track album, which also includes Thee Escapees take on Del Shannon's 'Runaway'.

          Micah P. Hinson

          I Lie To You

            Born into a strict fundamentalist Christian household in sinful Memphis and growing up in evangelist Abilene in Texas, Micah P Hinson has experimented with music and narcotics, suffered the seduction and the abandon of a femme fatale, served a brief stint in the local jail, known failure, bankruptcy, drug addiction and rehab - all before the age of 20

            His debut was recorded in the winter of 2003 with assistance from Texas chamber pop collective The Earlies, followed by three albums of original material and one all-covers album. In 2011, a near-fatal car crash paralyzed his arms for months. He spent his recovery time listening to some demos he'd made before the crash. The material eventually culminated in the darkest and most intensely personal collection of songs from him thus far and garnered widespread critical acclaim. (Micah P. Hinson & The Nothing).

            Since then, each record is a final confrontation with himself, each song shakes with danger. I Lie To You, the new Micah P. Hinson album, comes from five days and five nights of recording in Irpinia, South Italy, with production by Alessandro Asso Stefana (PJ Harvey, Mike Patton, Vinicio Capossela). Accompanying Micah and Asso are Raffaele Tiseo's celestial strings, Zeno De Rossi metaphysic drumming and the double bass gentleman Greg Cohen. On this new album he sings, with his weathered, husky, prophet-like voice, eleven tales of love, loss and regret, which once again reveal his heart as an artist laid bare.

            TRACK LISTING

            Ignore The Days
            Carelessly
            People
            Find Your Way Out
            Please Daddy, Don't Get Drunk This Christmas
            What Does It Matter Now ?
            Walking On Eggshells
            The Days Of My Youth
            Wasted Days And Wasted Nights
            500 Miles

            "Many Worlds" Interpretation is a collection of cosmic Americana for electronics, guitar, and percussion culled from Jon Iverson’s extensive home-studio archive.

            1984, Los Osos, California. In a small cinderblock cottage, hand-painted with bright psychedelic flora, Jon Iverson created vibrant new worlds. He spent long days and nights immersed in sound, perfecting home recording on his 8-track reel-to-reel, combining his love for kosmische and Berlin School electronics with an infatuation with ethnographic sounds and expansive guitar music. In a duo with fellow sonic traveler Thomas Walters, Iverson released missives from the studio on a self-titled LP released on country legend Guthrie Thomas’ Eagle Records. That release featured three electro-acoustic compositions (“Naningo”, “River Fen”, and “Fox Tales”) as well as a gathering of guitar duo tapestries. "Many Worlds Interpretation" re-imagines those interplanetary works alongside several unreleased compositions that also feature synthesizer, guitar, and percussion, creating a re-visioned album which leans into Iverson’s electronic studio wizardry.

            All songs have been carefully transferred from analog tape to high resolution digital, retaining their vintage studio warmth, but mixed and mastered for modern ears and audio systems. The album is pressed at 45rpm, further enhancing the audiophile experience.

            RIYL: Innovative Communication, Eblen Macari, Priscilla Ermel, Popol Vuh, Steve Tibbetts

            ---

            Artist Statement

            I worked in a Harley Davidson parts warehouse in the summer of 1976 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The goal was to save enough money to buy transportation for college and a Teac 4 track 1/4" reel to reel tape machine. By September there was a rusting monkey-vomit green car in the driveway and shiny new Teac with a Sony condenser microphone in the bedroom. At this point I had been playing guitar for a dozen years and like most children of the sixties, dreamed of joining a band.

            Went to college instead to study business.

            But all was not lost. 1978-1979 was spent as Weird Al Yankovic's roommate and we recorded and created enough songs to play shows around San Luis Obispo, California, where we were attending college. Many of those recordings have yet to be heard by the public, including the first performances of My Bologna and many other parodies of pop songs of the day. We sent tapes to Dr. Demento, we auditioned for The Gong Show and were barred from playing at the local college after one memorable performance. Wild times.

            I, however, was more intent on working on "serious" music, with albums from Vangelis, Tangerine Dream and Jean Michel Jarre providing inspiration. DJing at the local college radio station and then public radio outlet provided exposure to an endless stream of obscure albums (Sky Records from Germany was a particular favourite). Most of them would never make it to the air, but my buddies and I would pass them around like exotic treasure.

            Fast forward a couple more years and I had picked up a Mini-Moog and eventually a Prophet V synthesizer as well as starting a collection of instruments from around the world. The Teac and synths formed the basis for a growing DIY studio that had taken over a modest-size garage (pictured on the cover) that had been converted into a two room cottage in Los Osos, California.

            The Teac was eventually joined by a rented Otari 1/2" 8-track and then finally a vintage MCI JH-100 2" 16-track. The compositions on this album were recorded on these three machines between 1982 and 1989. At some point an Apple II computer with Alpha Syntauri sound card and keyboard were added and then later the first personal computer sampling hardware/software kit, the Decillionix DX-1. The DX-1 forms the rhythm track for “Fox Tales” and the Alpha Syntauri was programmed to create the pulsing synth for “Naningo”. “River Fen” was tracked with both the Alpha Syntauri and the Prophet V.

            I knew this music wasn't commercial, but didn't care. It was inspiring working with the first computer-based synths and semi-pro gear. Home studios were still rare in the early 80s until the Tascam Portastudio blew the DIY door wide-open. But I was more interested in sound quality so stuck with reels of tape instead of lower fidelity cassettes.

            During the time these songs were recorded, I was also collaborating with my good friend and mandolinist, Tom Walters. “River Fen”, “Naningo” and “Fox Tales”, were solo recordings that also ended up on the first Iverson & Walters album, First Collection. The other four pieces on this new LP were never fully finished or released until now.

            — Jon Iverson, September 2022

            Written, played, recorded and mixed by Jon Iverson.
            Mastered by Brandon Hocura
            Design by Alan Briand


            TRACK LISTING

            1.Danaus 03:08
            2.Neo Gets Wise 02:10
            3.Fox Tales 05:13
            4.Sands Of Tycho 04:35
            5.Naningo 05:47
            6.Nyx And The Night Owl 03:53
            7.River Fen 06:05

            Sufjan Stevens

            Fourth Of July

              On July 1, his birthday, Sufjan Stevens is releasing two alternate versions of his song, “Fourth of July.” Both versions were recorded around 2014: “Fourth of July (April Base Version)” was recorded in Eau Claire, WI at Justin Vernon’s April Base studio, and “Fourth of July (DUMBO Version)” was recorded in Sufjan’s old studio in Brooklyn, NY.

              The original version of “Fourth of July” appeared on Sufjan’s 2015 album, Carrie & Lowell. As is (and was) his custom, Sufjan would often rework different versions of his songs while recording an album, and “Fourth of July” was no exception. (Other versions & remixes of the song were released on “The Greatest Gift” mixtape and on the “Exploding Whale” 7” single.)

              These two latest versions were recently found on old harddrives. The refrain of the song, “We’re all gonna die,” invokes a meditation on human mortality and fragility, even as it acts as an anchor of stoic hope. Its solemnity invites listeners to feel comfort, connection — even joy — wrought from great pain and loss.

              The song has recently had a resurgence with listeners — which may speak to a deep national grief and sense of loss.

              TRACK LISTING

              SIDE A
              Fourth Of July (April Base Version)

              SIDE B
              Fourth Of July (DUMBO Version)

              Various Artists

              Rockin ‘N’ Boppin With DJ Rudy

                Stag-O-Lee is proud to continue the DJ-Set Series with compilation by cult DJ Mr. Rudy.

                This album is a great taste of what Rudy has brought to the scene. It proves that rockin tunes can be different and diverse, but if you pick the right ones it's always a rockin party!


                RT @markbrownstudio: Interesting behind the scenes info from the @PiccadillyRecs review - No.1 album winner @michaelheadtreb sent in handwr…
                Fri 2nd - 1:04
                We all love it Mark. Sterling work as ever 😍 @markbrownstudio Get a copy here from the website… https://t.co/XkoE64IbDF
                Fri 2nd - 12:57
                Some more launch party tickets available in 5 mins. ⏰ https://t.co/KL1FeMVnG5 https://t.co/qBr6CKy4u9
                Fri 2nd - 10:54
                Apologies folks if you were having issues with the online basket. Seems we broke the internet with our EOY chart!… https://t.co/8sQ3t1yb2Y
                Fri 2nd - 10:25
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