Wednesday 30 May 2012

yho34 - ... with the times

The thirty-fourth edition of YHO takes a leaf out of Glenn Gould’s book and contemplates Petula and her peculiar story.  It then takes a few steps sideways and becomes something of a celebration of great voices, featuring among others:

Ø  Esther Ofarim, who is the cover star
Ø  Annie Ross
Ø  Lita Roza
Ø  Jackie Trent
Ø  Tony Middleton
Scott Walker

Somewhere along the way it became just as much about arrangers and composers, such as:
Ø  Teddy Randazzo
Ø  Bobby Scott
Ø  Claus Ogerman
Ø  Michel Legrand
Ø  And, yes, of course, Tony Hatch, which is where this issue begins.

yho33 - cumulative

For the thirty-third edition of YHO it seemed like a good idea to put together a user’s guide to all the earlier issues.  After all 33 is a number that does have a certain significance, and many great long-players have been collections of activity-to-date. 
So, for new readers and loyal subscribers, hopefully this Cumulative edition gives a helpful overview of the subjects that have been covered in YHO.  From a purely personal point of view this has been an invaluable exercise, giving a timely reminder of what’s been achieved with YHO.  And having a bit of a breather, so to speak, has been a really good thing.  The old batteries are recharged, and YHO is ready to rumble and ramble on.
If you are new to the YHO experience, then please use this issue as a jumping-off point and explore.  And please spread the word.

Monday 28 May 2012

yho - Anywhere else but here today ...

“And I would rather be anywhere else but here today”.  Pop music is a universal language.  And history’s for exploring.  Let’s celebrate what’s out there.  The world’s your oyster and pop’s your passport.  Come on let’s go ...
The shot featured here is from a clip of Algerian high school girls dancing to the pioneering rai pop track Ya Salah by Noureddine Staifi.  It’s one of the most joyous pieces of footage you could ever hope to find, and for me it sums up what is so great about the YHO spin-off project Anywhere Else But Here Today ...  The methodology remains very simple, really.  It consists purely of me bumbling and fumbling around on YouTube looking for fantastic examples of vintage pop music from around the world.  It is all made possible by enthusiasts diligently uploading glorious clips of pop made in their homeland at some point in time.  There are all sorts of questions that could be asked about how on earth some of these pieces of film have survived or were ever made, but the whole point of the project is to let the clips speak for themselves.
The vagaries or precariousness of YouTube means\ that clips can disappear, leaving gaping holes in the project, but even a cursory glance at what survives reveals so much evidence to challenge prevailing notions that pop music made by the UK/US axis is somehow superior.  What it is somehow easy to forget is that all the clips posted as part of this project are from films, TV performances or specifically made promotional footage.  The cover of this thirty-third edition of YHO, for example, features a still from a fantastic piece of film featuring the Argentinean singers Leonardo Favio and Carola. 
Some of the explorations in this global pop adventure led to enthusiastic attempts at putting together mixtapes of music from certain countries, like Portugal, Greece, Japan, Iran, and South Korea.  Each of these mixtapes featured wonderful covers, designed by Per-Christian Hille and I am enormously in his debt.  The mixtapes themselves can be found on the homepage of the YHO site here.

The Anywhere Else But Here Today ...  site can be found here.

Sunday 27 May 2012

yho32 - composition ...

The thirty-second edition of YHO has on its front cover a still from a TV performance of Janis Ian singing The Man You Are In Me.  This issue takes as its starting point a sequence of LPs Janis made in the mid-‘70s and their wider context and connections.  Musically this mid-‘70s sequence frequently has the melodic invention and warm intimacy of the finest easy listening/adult contemporary sounds, but the songs never seem too smooth or self-absorbed, overly polished or plush.  There is a bit of an edge, an air of mischief, a suggestion of spikiness, a bit of bite.  She never gets too mystical, too ethereal, too wispy.  She is more earthy and argumentative than many of her contemporaries.  That may be part of the appeal.  In Janis’ case, it’s fascinating to look at her background, experiences, environment, influences, interests, attitude and approach.  It’s also revealing to look at her associates, the people she has worked with, by design or by accident, their connections, their significance.  So this issue flits back and forth through Janis’ career, and takes in a cast of characters including:
Ø  Shadow Morton
Ø  Brooks Arthur
Ø  Richard Davis
Ø  Charlie Calello
Ø  Laura Nyro
Ø  Bob Crewe
Ø  Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
Ø  Herb Bernstein
Ø  Dusty Springfield
Ø  Ron Frangipane

Saturday 26 May 2012

yho31 - cognition ...

The thirty-first edition of YHO takes as a starting point the sequence of LPs Eddy Grant recorded in the late 1970s and the context in which they were recorded and first heard.  The opening lines of this issue set the scene pretty clearly:
“Are there any pop figures as full of contradictions as Eddy Grant?  He is so famous that he’s almost invisible.  He is an enduring global superstar, but how much is really known about his work?  His hits like Electric Avenue and I Don’t Wanna Dance are known the whole world over, but what about all his other activities?  Compilations of his Greatest Hits are easy enough to buy, but how often do you see his old LPs? 
“Eddy Grant is in a pretty unique position in that aspects of his work are revered by all sorts of musical communities.  He is regarded as a pioneer by connoisseurs of skinhead reggae and soul, freakbeat, glam rock, rare groove, disco, soca, electro, house, and so on.  But there is no one definitive discography or documentary, book or boxed set, which draws all these strands together.  
“There are very few artists who have been as passionate about independence and self-sufficiency, but you won’t find many mentions of him in high-brow titles published by Faber.  There have been few artists of Caribbean origin who have been as successful, but he gets barely a mention in Dick Hebdige’s Cut ‘N’ Mix.  There have been few singers as outspoken about the Black British experience, but you won’t find a chapter on him in Paul Gilroy’s There Ain’t No Black In The Union Jack.  He is, like Jorge Ben, a master of musical miscegenation, but his artistic achievements are not analysed at length by academics.”

The contents of this edition of YHO take in a variety of locations, from Stamford Hill to Notting Hill, via Jamaica, Trinidad, Nigeria, New York and Knebworth.  Eddy’s labels, Torpedo and Ice are featured, as are his productions from The Pioneers to Sonny Okosun, and his side projects from the 32nd Turnoff to the Coach House Rhythm Section.  And then, of course, there’s The Equals.

Friday 25 May 2012

yho30 - consequences ...

The cover of the thirtieth edition of YHO features a still from the promo video for The Go-Betweens’ Bachelor Kisses.  And, appropriately, this issue is all about The Go-Betweens’ first three LPs and the musical climate in which they were made and first heard. The YHO way of working had been very much about roaring through the pop landscape, making unexpected connections, and zooming off in a new direction to explore whatever turns up. So, for a new challenge, I thought it would be fun to do something different, and write about something more specific like a short sequence of LPs by one artist.
I have to confess I was a little uneasy about choosing this particular sequence of records.  I had in the past been particularly critical of the way The Go-Betweens were written about.  And I was a little worried I was choosing some music that was a little too close to home, for the YHO experience was very much about exploring in rather more unfamiliar areas.  But there were some very important things I wanted to say about The Go-Betweens and this particular era, so I carried on with the plan.  This issue of YHO has been the most popular, but I’m not sure what that proves. 
There was a lovely little discussion thread on a Go-Betweens forum about this edition of YHO, and I am particuarly fond of one comment: “I have been slowly working my way through this. It's got a LOT of information and is entertaining but it's written as if the author is using methamphetamine. He can't seem to stick to an idea and develop it to save his soul without wandering off on yet another tangent. I keep expecting him to write ‘now, where was I before I started talking about x?’ I am literally only halfway through. I think I'm going to explore some of his (her?) writings on British soul acts. That's been an interest of mine for many years and this blogger obviously favors the uncommon and unknown.”
The wider context mentioned means there are also mentions in this issue of others such as:
Ø  Hurrah!
Ø  Blue Orchids
Ø  Felt
Ø  The Nightingales
Ø  Aztec Camera

Thursday 24 May 2012

yho29 - it will never be over

The twenty-ninth edition of YHO has on its cover a still of the wonderful Barry St. John performing her version of Cry Like A Baby on Beat Club back in 1969.  The title is borrowed from the Timi Yuro song of around the same time.  And there is a very strong theme throughout this issue of British soul productions and pop experimentation from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.  The starting point really was finding a track on YouTube of Joe E. Young & the Toniks on the Toast label and setting off on a voyage of discovery which wonderfully connected in with all sorts of wonderful things.
Among those mentioned in this edition of YHO are:
Ø  Vicki Wickham and the Toast label
Ø  Tony Hall and the Fresh Air label
Ø  Ian Green
Ø  Roseta Hightower
Ø  Labi Siffre
Ø  Blue Mink
Ø  Fox
Ø  Mike Cooper
Ø  Doris Troy
Ø  Brotherhood of Man
Ø  Gerry Shury
Ø  Lee Vanderbilt
Ø  The Foundations

Wednesday 23 May 2012

yho28 - rainsongs & painsongs ...

The twenty-eighth edition of YHO features on the front cover manipulated images of Julie Tippetts taken from a video where she participates in a performance of Keith Tippett’s Septober Energy in 2008. This issue is at heart a celebration of Julie’s work, very much inspired by her collaboration with Martin Archer on Tales of FiNiN which is undoubtedly the most rewarding record of recent times. Naturally, being YHO, there is a whole series of diversions and detours along the way.  The title, incidentally, is formed of words found in Julie’s songs and poetry.
Among those mentioned alongside Julie in this edition of YHO are:
Ø  Norma Winstone
Ø  Mike Westbrook
Ø  Clock DVA
Ø  Hana and Petr Ulrychova
Ø  Blue Effect
Ø  Jiri Stivin
Ø  Working Week
Ø  Annie Whitehead
Ø  Nostalgia 77
Ø  Blossom Toes
Ø  Reggie King

This issue can be found here ... 

Tuesday 22 May 2012

yho27 - ... a belief in mischief

The twenty-seventh edition of YHO had on the front cover a still from footage of the 14 Hour Technicolour Dream where at the end of their set The Flies provoked fights with and among the audience.  It actually looks more like Paris a year or so later doesn’t it?  The picture is just right for this issue which spends quite a bit of time exploring that strange period where mods went psychedelic.  But it wasn’t all peace and love and passivity.  There was, thankfully, still mischief at work, and this edition of YHO seems to concentrate on some of this.  In a way, this issue started out as a meditation on sacred texts, but soon developed into a celebration of irregulars, visionaries, mischief makers, and people who just arent written about enough.
Among those mentioned in this edition of YHO are:
Ø  Peter Meaden and Norman Jopling
Ø  Peter Shertser and Ian Sippen of the Firm
Ø  Val Wilmer
Ø  Mick Farren
Ø  Martin Stone
Ø  Dave Godin
Ø  Penny Reel
In terms of music, among those featured are:
Ø  Edgar Broughton Band
Ø  Jo Ann Kelly
Ø  Clark-Hutchinson
Ø  The Peep Show
Ø  Captain Beefheart

Monday 21 May 2012

yho26 - ... ghosts of midnight

The twenty-sixth edition of YHO had on its cover a wonderfully evocative photo of Sandi Hummer standing in the doorway of The Lighthouse, the jazz club in Hermosa Beach, California.  It seemed to perfectly capture the mood of this issue and its theme which was the great jazz voices of Bethlehem Records, ones that have been lost and found along the way, ones at their best when singing desolate torch songs. 
Among the voices of Bethlehem mentioned in this edition of YHO are:
Ø  Audrey Morris
Ø  Chris Connor
Ø  Terry Morel
Ø  Helen Carr
Ø  Marilyn Moore
Ø  Frances Faye
Ø  Betty Roché
Ø  Bev Kelly
Ø  Mel Tormé
Ø  Bob Dorough
Ø  Bobby Troup
Ø  Julie London
And, very importantly, mention is made of the vision of Creed Taylor, the incredible artwork of Burt Goldblatt, and the man who started it all, Gus Wildi.  Russ Garcia and Howard Roberts also seem to be pretty significant figures in this issue.

This issue can be found here ... 

Sunday 20 May 2012

yho25 - form & function

The twenty-fifth edition of YHO borrowed its cover picture from Bridget Riley and its title from Photek.  And yet it could equally be said that the graphics and wording on the front page were borrowed from Nuo, the electrical appliances company, which is where this issue starts.  The central themes of this edition are about why we listen to music, how we listen to music, how we use music, and how music is presented. 
Among those mentioned in this edition of YHO are:
Ø  Sudden Sway
Ø  Barbara Moore
Ø  Pursuit Grooves
Ø  Ron Goodwin
Ø  Eric Coates
Ø  Moving Shadow
Ø  John McEntire
Ø  Simon Fisher Turner
Ø  Don Harper
Ø  Ikonika
Ø  The Caretaker

Saturday 19 May 2012

yho24 - ... disco no disco yes

The twenty-fourth edition of YHO had on the cover the striking sleeve of Pulse 2, a record by Zigmars Liepins featuring some excellent electro sounds, which was part of a Soviet ‘sport and music’ series.  This issue collected together a series of posts from the YHO site which ran under the heading of The Disco Ball is a Globe.
Most of the literature about disco concentrates on its roots and early days, but its impact around the world is far more fascinating.  When you consider the damage done in the name of political parties, religion and nationalism then disco music must be seen a progressive force for good in the world, with a symbol such as the disco ball or a Roland synth seen as a civilising influence.  And so the series set out to capture something of ‘disco around the world’ and some of the genuinely extraordinary music it has inspired. 
Among those remarkable things mentioned in this edition of YHO are:
Ø  A Tajikistani take on Munich disco
Ø  Zodiac and the Soviet disco alliance
Ø  The soundtracks of Raimonds Pauls and Alexander Zatsepin
Ø  Mutant disco in Hungary with Trabant
Ø  Googoosh, Ramesh and Persian disco sounds
Ø  Tim Maia, Lady Zu, Rita Lee and Jorge Ben
Ø  O.P.M. and Manila Sound
Ø  Brand New Wayo and  Nigerian Boogie
Ø  Supermax takes on the world
Ø  Disco music in Bollywood and Lollywood

This issue can be found here ...  

Friday 18 May 2012

yho23 - hiss & shake ...

The twenty-third edition of YHO had on the cover a still from a video of breakdancers on the roof of the No U-Turn studios in Acton, west London.  This particular issue was a collection of posts on the YHO site which set out to illustrate how things fit together.  In this case Phil Legg, one of the unsung heroes of pop music, was used to show how unusual connections can be made, in defiance of genres and labels, hence the subtitle of ‘Legg’s Eleven’.
Among those mentioned in this edition of YHO are:
Ø  Rodney P. and Neneh Cherry
Ø  Lora Logic and The Gist
Ø  Sean Oliver and Terence Trent D’Arby
Ø  Oldland Montano and Rip Rig & Panic
Ø  The Marine Girls and Grab Grab The Haddock
Ø  Robin Millar and Everything But The Girl
Ø  Young Disciples and Des’ree
Ø  Imagination and Ut
Ø  Raincoats and Smith & Mighty
Ø  The Pasadenas and Dexys Midnight Runners
Ø  Rhythm King and Baby Ford

Thursday 17 May 2012

yho22 - Enlightenment!

“Jazz.  Folk.  Calypso. Music Hall.  Skiffle.  Blues.  Ballads. Agit Prop. Highlife.  Lowlifes.  Beatniks.  Modernists.  Anarchists.  Communists.  Chancers.  Charmers.  Tormented Thinkers.  Theatre Revolutionaries.  Pop Pioneers.  Cockney Visionaries.  Soho Adventurers.”  That’s what was promised in the most ambitious of all the issues of YHO.  The twenty-second edition was effectively a short book, 60-odd pages long, and perhaps there was the thought someone would come along and suggest turning it into something more.  It didn’t happen, which is a relief really as there’s always something else to add or explore.  The cover star was Lionel Bart, and Per-Christian Hille did the design and layout to make it seem rather more professional than usual. 
Among those also mentioned in this edition of YHO are:

Ø  Joan Littlewood and Theatre Workshop
Ø  Colin MacInnes
Ø  Denis Preston
Ø  Ewan MacColl
Ø  Val Wilmer
Ø  Wolf Mankowitz
Ø  Anthony Newley
Ø  Kenny Graham
Ø  Alan Klein
Ø  John Cameron

This issue can be found here ... 

Wednesday 16 May 2012

yho21 - skimming stones ...

The cover  star of the twenty-first edition of YHO was Sylvia Tella, and the photo was borrowed from the sleeve of Spell, her debut LP.  This issue began with a quote from Arsene Wenger and continued: “I like the state of ‘not knowing’. It can be a springboard to discovery, which helps pieces of information fit together in enlightening ways. It can also be a source of worry, with pieces of a jigsaw turning up unexpectedly to befuddle and bemuse.” 
It took as its starting point a little confusion or confession about the London female reggae collectives Akabu and Abacush.  In many ways it formed the third part of a trilogy with the preceding two issues, with a strong focus on post-punk activities and UK reggae productions.  Tony Herrington around this time wrote a particularly enthusiastic piece in The Wire on YHO.
Among those also mentioned in this edition of YHO are:
Ø  Mark Lusardi
Ø  Mike Dorane and the Disco Dub Band
Ø  Jah Wobble
Ø  Annie Whitehead
Ø  Adrian Sherwood
Ø  Judy Nylon
Ø  Horace Andy & Rhythm Queen
Ø  Barry Ford and Noir
Ø  Merger
Ø  Twinkle Brothers
Ø  Gaspar Lawal
It ends with a little confession or confusion about Nick Plytas and Nick Straker

This issue can be found here ... 

Tuesday 15 May 2012

yho20 - Lovers & Technology

The twentieth edition of YHO was a special one dedicated to the Mad Professor and his Ariwa label.  It was put together to complement a mixtape, and both featured fantastic cover art from Per-Christian Hille.  The story of the Mad Professor and Ariwa is an incredible one, and needs telling in real depth one day  One of the opening paragraphs in this issue is particularly significant, I think: “There is still a school of thought that equates independent record labels with the punk rock era and what came after. This is patently ridiculous. There is a long tradition of small record companies in whatever area of UK music you choose to examine: jazz, blues, folk, classical, reggae, rock, soul, and so on. There has always been recording activities away from the mainstream, and some of these imprints have been more successful than others. It’s just that their definition of success may not have been a place on the national Top 40. Sometimes even survival is success in certain circumstances.”
Among those also mentioned in this edition of YHO and on the mixtape are:
Ø  Ranking Ann
Ø  Lorna Gee
Ø  Sandra Cross/Wild Bunch
Ø  Kofi
Ø  Papa Levi
Ø  Pato Banton
Ø  Macka Bee
Ø  Sister Audrey

The mixtape itself, featuring lovers rock, studio experimentation, DJ dexterity and deep roots sounds.  It can be found here ...

Monday 14 May 2012

yho19 - Scream of my Heartbeat

Brian Griffin - Copyright 1978

The nineteenth edition was a collection of posts first published on the YHO site.  The theme of the series was The Pop Group and the impact they had on me as a teenager. An announcement about The Pop Group playing live for the first time in 30-odd years had been indirectly the catalyst for these reflections.
Each post in the series was accompanied by a picture specially designed by Per-Christian Hille and a song from a ‘rediscovered’ live recording of The Pop Group playing in Newcastle in August 1978.  The pictures and songs fitted together at the end of the series to form one glorious whole ‘giveaway’.
The cover of this edition of YHO featured a 1978 photo by Brian Griffin of The Pop Group on Chesil Beach, which I was graciously given permission to use.  The set of photos taken in this session played a hugely important part in making The Pop Group seem impossibly glamorous. 
The coverage of The Pop Group in the music press was also an integral part of making The Pop Group seem incredibly romantic.  Specific mention is made of features by:
Ø  Steve Walsh in Zigzag
Ø  Paul Rambali in the New Musical Express
Ø  Pete Silverton in Sounds
Among those also mentioned in this edition of YHO are:
Ø  Dennis Bovell
Ø  Subway Sect
Ø  Andrew Lauder and Radar Records
Ø  Barney Bubbles
Ø  Eric Dolphy

The live tape itself can be found here ...