dinsdag 23 december 2014

Two Thousand and Fourteen

That's it, this is the end my friends......another year vanished. Let's take a walk back into, mostly my musicyear.

2014: a year of the surprising and unexspected losses:
R.I.P. actors I have enjoyed, like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Williams, but so many in a short time! See a full list IMDB deathlist 2014
To many musicians I have admired, like Bobby Keys, Jack Bruce, Johnny Winter, Bobby Womack,  Jesse Winchester, Paco De Lucia, Phil Everly, Pete Seeger, Joe Cocker (!)
Full Ranker death musicians 2014

A "few" words on Jack Bruce, because he put me on another planet and back. Everyone surely knows Cream, that supergroup from the sixties. Eric Clapton was God (to his fans and media), pushed forward as the star of the band by his american  record label at the time (Atlantic).

Not everyone knows (guess after Jack's death everyone suddenly knows!) that Jack wrote the most adventurous songs and the main hits (with lyricist Pete Brown) for the group. After Cream, Jack pursued his own musical route and his main goal was to test the boundaries in composition and arrangements of a song. His unususal and complex songwriting was a commercial flop in many obvious ways. No instant hits, no white room with sunshine peeking through it. No glamour. Just adventurous music, to keep things interesting. Searching, that was Jack, who could play many instruments (cello, bass, piano, guitar) and used them in his own personal expressive way, often resulting in composing beautiful melodies. As a working musician he became a paradox of styles, as he often guested on other albums from extreme avantgarde (Carla Bley, Michael Mantler, Zappa), "pop" (Lou Reed) to almost straight hardrock (West, Bruce, Laing). The list goes on.

I was just a green kid when Cream played their last farewell concert in the Royal Albert Hall in 1968, so I was a late Jack discoverer. Indirectly, because it was not by listening to his solo albums that already took off in 1969, but through the very intensely and inspired works of Kip Hanrahan. Especially  his 1984 album Vertical's Currency did it for me. In the middle of the sterile eighties, it was such a welcome and organic contrast to discover. That beautiful soft, intense and sensitive voice of Jack's subtle singing, bossa nova styling in the midst of a ritmically masterful band and unexpected songstructures, the whole album oozes and breathes like the human spirit: I couldn't believe that this was the former Cream bassplayer. As if Kip knew how to stir up Jack's eclectic strenghts.
So I seriously went back into his work. I found a bridge to his second 1971 soloalbum, Harmony Row, because of a few new songversions from that on Vertical's Currency, like Smiles And Grins. I was immediately intrigued by the songstructures and eclectic style. After a wild and sometimes fruityless search (it was the bloody eighties remember?) I had all of his soloalbums explored, but at the same time around 1988 Jack was crimically overlooked and seemed passé.

I couldn't believe it. Luckely he came back and got the respect he widely deserved.
I insist you "meet" him. It's not an easy listen at first, but hey, take your time.
Thanks Jack, for your expression and inspiration.

2014: I Mimic Me, my latest collection arrived in april. I'm not as musical as Jack, let that be clear. He's an example for me. Who am I anyway? I can only be grateful that I can bring them albums out. Submitted a few songs to more internetradio than before. Created some funny vids. Lots of airplay, downloads & streaming again, nice words on blogs, reviews, thanks to the digital world. And thanks to you! So musicians: just stay at home folks and meet new people!

By november I put out a short instrumental album, only exclusively on Jamendo, which also specialises in license music. (backgroundmusic/ multimedia projects) So much stuff up there, take a look:
For Your Pleasure Vol.1  

2014: Same as it ever was. Time to listen? Yeah, I follow a few interesting blogs for the more obscure, artists from the past mostly. The missing pieces in my collection.  
The new 2014 albums? Good to see so many great young, talented and enthousiastic musicians these days learning from the roots. A critical note here. Too much to listen to. So many contests. But just too little to mention, sorry. Guess as you get older, you think you've heard it all, haSo many releases now are so highly acclaimed by some of the press- so the hashtags on their tweets make the stories popular, it's so ridiculous. Especially in the more "o so intellectual thinking" musicscene. Interesting, fresh, hip. Yes, I'm talking indie. No, I'm not an "indie" fan at all. Is it really Indie in Independent? Or in style? Post Rock? Post what? Empty, vague, confusing and hypocritic words. They talk about it all the time, so therefore it becomes commercial. For me the word "Indie" is just as boring mainstream as U2 became! U2? There, where the money goes. Industry sucks.
It's just music, listen to it. Don't talk just head. Same as it ever was.

Jack is one of the main reasons why I love the searching, the craft of songwriting. 
As Joe Cocker sang his heart out: that's the true artist.
And hey, my list of 2014 consist mostly (!) old "boring" veteran musicians with that consistent craft!
One thing they have in common: they don't have to scream to get attention.

Hipster albums of 2014:

Ben Sidran- Blue Camus

You don't have to shout to be cool! This is smooth, intimate, hipster to the core, very organic. 70(!) old  jazzy beatpoet Ben did it again and his son plays the drums. Hooray!

Leo Sidran- Mucho Leo

Talking about his son (aha the only younger hipster here), what a pleasant surpise to hear these warm, subtle songs.

Loudain Wainwright III- Haven't Got The Blues (Yet)

Nothing new, but still fresh with words. Loudon already stole my heart with his painful sense of humor. Typical: sometimes uplifting, but bitchy folksy, melancholic next. Reflective as a mirror.

Herb Alpert- In The Mood

Yes I'm in the mood. It works, if you're in need of some. Production surprises in colourful arrangements. Herb knows and blows: warm, easy, smooth, just too subtle to call it ordinary muzak.

Neil Young- Storytone

Some critics have slaughtered this cheesy album. I think it's his best since I don't know when. More ambituous productionwise (strings like on Harvest). The full strings/ orchestra is such a beautiful contrast to his fragile delivery.

Ben Watt- Hendra
Everything but the boy. Ben creates a haunting, intimate atmosphere. John Martyn comes to mind.          

Jack Bruce- Silver Rails

Needs repeated listens. Jack's personal vision. Worth it.

Neil Finn- Dizzy Heights

Surprised by this atmospheric, trippy sound. Neil tries to lift up the songs, reaching many dizzy heights.

Quoting former post 2013:"And for the sensational background information, here's a few books I've read this year. As usual, mostly sleezy (auto)biographies. Recommended:"

Victor Bockris- Lou Reed
Donald Fagen- Eminent Hipsters
Graham Nash- Wild Tales 
Rod Stewart- Autobio
Tracey Thorn- Bedsit Disco Queen
Steve Martin- Born Standing Up
David Browne- Fire & Rain 1970
David Byrne- Bicycle Diaries
Don Felder- Heaven & Hell
Judy Collins- Sweet Judy Blue Eyes
Keith Richards & James Fox (Contributor) - Life
Paul Stanley- Face The Music A Life Exposed
Ace Frehley- No Regrets
Peter Criss- Makeup to Breakup
Nick Mason- Inside Out
Rob Chapman- A Very Irregular Head Syd Barrett
Harry Shapiro- Jack Bruce Composing Himself

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