England’s Glory: early 70s pre-Only Ones band fronted by Peter Perrettt. Very similar to later era VU, but recorded before Lou Reed cut the Transformer LP. As there were only 25 or so copies of the LP pressed in winter of 1971, perhaps a copy made it into the hands of Mick Ronson & Bowie…who were looking for ideas for the Transformer template & Lou’s reinvention. Oh, speculation.

Hozac Records, as part of their archival series, is set to reissue the band’s privately-issued lp (coined as The Legendary Lost Album) later this year, but are kicking off the project with a 7″. This is the b-side – “Shattered Illusions”.

England’s Glory :: Shattered Illusions

Fairport Convention People 1970

By the time Fairport Convention took the stage at the 1970 Philadelphia Folk Festival, they had already been through more lineup changes than most bands experience in decades. Since forming in early 1967, talents such as Judy Dyble, Sandy Denny, Ashley Hutchings and Iain Matthews (not to mention drummer Martin Lamble, who died in a tragic 1969 car crash) had all passed through Fairport’s revolving doors. Guitarist Richard Thompson would be the next to go, bidding adieu the group adieu not too long after this show was recorded.

But the Philly Folk Festival gig certainly doesn’t sound like a band on its last legs. The rhythm section of bassist Dave Pegg and drummer Dave Mattacks seem positively hopped up on something, as they thrash through the rigs, reels and laments of Fairport’s Full House-era setlist with gusto, providing a perfect launchpad for the unbelievable guitar/electric fiddle duels of Thompson and Dave Swarbrick (whole lotta Daves in this band). Things slow down a bit for the epic, mournful “Sloth” wherein Thompson peels off some proto-“Marquee Moon” licks in the lengthy instrumental section. This particular Fairport lineup is one of the pinnacles of the UK folk rock scene of the period, breathing new life into age-old songs and having a blast doing it.

A few days after the Folk Fest, Fairport was at the LA Troubadour, when who should appear in the audience but a fellow band of Brits known as Led Zeppelin? One thing led to another and soon, a jam session for the ages was taking place, as Jimmy Page traded solos with Thompson on “Hey Joe” and “Morning Dew” among other tunes. The mind boggles. According to legend, multitrack tapes were rolling for the entire thing, but Led Zep’s manager Peter Grant absconded with them, and no one ever heard them again. Maybe Page has unearthed them during his recent archival digs… ? words / t wilcox

Download: Fairport Convention :: Philadelphia Folk Festival, August 29, 1970

1. Walk Awhile 2. Dirty Linen 3. Staines Morris 4. Flatback Caper 5. Sloth 6. Banks Of The Sweet Primroses 7. Sir Patrick Spens 8. Jenny’s Chickens/The Mason’s Apron


Ryley Walker returns this spring with his second long-player, and Dead Oceans debut, Primrose Green. Last year’s All Kinds Of You made our 2014 Year In Review, and this one somehow bests it. High praise, indeed. Below is the title track, and first taste off the LP.

Video after the jump.

can1968 free-jazz, psychedelic, art rock-funk. Sure, and from who else but Can. Culled from the still vital Lost Tapes compilation, “Midnight Sky” is one of the group’s earliest rarities, featuring their first vocalist, the New York City-based singer (and sculptor) Malcolm Mooney. As the band builds a tense, driving rhythm, Mooney riffs and scats, announcing, “This is just how I feel today, my man,” before launching into a feverish rant about getting too high, nearly dying, being broke and The Daily News -- all the while maintaining that “everything gonna come out right.” Very post-Summer of Love.

Can :: Midnight Sky

The following year, Mooney and co. essentially invented post-punk, with another, absolutely brilliant rarity entitled “The Empress and the Ukraine King.” Amongst wiry bass, raggedy grooving guitar and something called a “schizophone,” there is a deeper, more mysterious and mesmerizing tapestry of instrumentation laid down, including tropical sounding percussion and frantic saxophone skronk. Mooney delivers a spoken word stream of consciousness, a lyrical puzzle that is both Victorian and modern, touching on jesters, congressmen and “coded traffic cream.” The taut, repetitive rhythm opens into a free folk melody before ultimately breaking into a free jazz, freak show jam. It’s a remarkable piece, clearly inspired by The Velvet Underground and modal jazz while laying down the template for everything from Pere Ubu to Parquet Courts.

Can :: The Empress and the Ukraine King

Mooney would leave the band the following year, returning to America on the advice of a psychiatrist, having been told that getting away from the chaotic music of Can would be better for his mental health. The liner notes of the band’s 1969 debut lp, Monster Movie, claim that Mooney suffered a nervous breakdown (“caught in a Can groove”), shouting “upstairs, downstairs” repeatedly. words / c depasquale

Elsewhere: Dig this incredible, full-concert footage of Can, now with vocalist Damo Suzuki, performing in Germany in 1970. A fraction of the crowd seems to get it, the rest seem baffled. Their loss.


Lagniappe (la·gniappe) noun ˈlan-ˌyap,’ – 1. An extra or unexpected gift or benefit. 2. Something given or obtained as a gratuity or bonus.

The Lagniappe Sessions return in 2015 with Austin, TX based singer-songwriter Jess Williamson. “Blood Song” off Williamson’s debut from last year, Native State, is what initially turned us on — seeing her live (three times) thereafter is what kept us coming back. Here, Williamson and her bandmates (Jesse Kees, Shane Renfro, and Andrew Stevens) interpret Nina Simone, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. The artist, in her own words, below.

Jess Williamson :: Seems So Long Ago, Nancy (Leonard Cohen)

I am a huge fan of Leonard Cohen, and from the first time I heard this song I felt deeply moved by the lyrics and have had a heavy and aching heart toward its subject, Nancy. Nancy really existed and this song is quite literal. In an interview about songwriting, Leonard Cohen said that one of his tricks is to use very specific imagery in his songs. He describes Nancy as ‘looking at the Late Late Show through a semi precious stone’. I imagine her alone on a couch in a slightly messy but warm and comfortable basement watching TV. I see a few candles lit and there is a phone next to her off the hook. She has the Late Late Show on only because it is just what was on, and she isn’t really paying attention to it. She is holding a semi precious stone, maybe an amethyst or quartz, up to her right eye. She is amused by how the TV is refracted and changed by the stone’s colors and edges, and she knows she is probably about to kill herself. It’s a beautiful and tragic image and an example of some of Leonard Cohen’s best writing.

Jess Williamson :: Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (Nina Simone)

Singing is a special sort of instrument different from all others because it is the instrument that incorporates language. A rare and talented vocalist can say so much more than the word itself when singing. Nina Simone’s vocals on her version of this song elevate the lyrics beyond poetry, beyond song, beyond story. Listen to the way she sings ‘don’t let me be misunderstood’. It’s like she is crying. A good friend recently shared this poem with me called Sonnet by Graham Foust. It is only one line and it says, ‘I sing as if I’m eating what I’m singing with a knife’. Nina Simone sings Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood with an effortless strength that seems to come from a place within her soul that she is very familiar with accessing and we, the listener, are blown away by just a glimpse of the power she has. The rest is just for her. This is my humble attempt to cover her masterpiece. I am a lesser and a different kind of vocalist, singing this song like I’m eating it with a knife.

Jess Williamson :: The Times They Are A Changin’ (Bob Dylan)

I selected the other two covers before the grand juries chose not to indict the officers who killed both Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The day I learned of the decision, or lack thereof, in the Eric Garner case I knew we needed to address these injustices in some way with this opportunity from Aquarium Drunkard. The hideous embarrassment for our country of unrestrained and unpunished police brutality is a problem that is fundamentally a human issue and a source of shame for all Americans. I have struggled with how to speak about it and how to be an ally when the community that is most affected is one that I am not a part of and whose struggles I will never be able to fully understand. It is a feeble gesture in light of what’s happening in our country right now, but I wanted to bring this song into the conversation. I am incredibly saddened that these lyrics about hope and change written by Bob Dylan during the Civil Rights era are at once relevant today but also completely flaccid. We clearly do not live in a post-racial society. Many of us feel shocked and helpless right now. Are the times really changing?

Lagniappe Sessions Archives / original illustration for aquarium drunkard by Ben Towle.


(Welcome to Videodrome. A monthly column plumbing the depths of vintage underground cinema — from cult, exploitation, trash and grindhouse to sci-fi, horror, noir and beyond.)

Sometime around college, I heard a quote attributed to Leo Tolstoy that holds “all great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.” The maxim stuck with me, and is particularly apt when describing André de Toth’s massively underrated 1959 western film Day of the Outlaw. Starring Robert Ryan and an against-type Burl Ives (he’s the stranger), de Toth’s film ranks as one of the finest psychological westerns ever committed to celluloid.

Our hero is Ryan’s Blaise Starrett, who we find in the film’s opening positively seething with rage towards local rancher Hal Crane, who has erected a barbed wire fence on the open range. Starrett is no white-hatted keeper of ranch virtue, though, as we quickly learn that his real motivations lie with Crane’s wife Helen (a stunning Tina Louise half a decade before the world would know her as Gilligan’s Ginger). “A wire fence is a poor excuse to make a widow out of Crane’s wife,” says Starrett’s drunkard partner Dan in this opening exchange, laying plain the steel-hard tension that dominates the film’s first act.

This opening sequence, and most all of the film’s exteriors, are set against a stark and breathtaking backdrop of crippling snow across a western mountain range. In fact, in a film chock full of ambivalent heroes and villains, the one incontrovertible nemesis in de Toth’s world might well be this relentless winter–one that’s “colder and harder than most,” as one saloon denizen puts it. The hopeless and ominous tone is heightened throughout by Alexander Courage’s booming score, driven as it is by belching lower-register horns and icy woodwinds.

Just as tensions hit a breaking point (with guns drawn, no less) in the old fashioned love triangle of Starrett, Crane, and Helen, de Toth changes course abruptly and introduces the stranger— Burl Ives’ Jack Bruhn, a disgraced army captain with a band of bottom-rung misfits in tow. Braun and his gang are on the run from the Calvary, and he makes it known immediately that his is the law of the land–wherever he is and for however long he chooses to be there. In his best stentorian balladeer bellow, Ives introduces his band of dead-eyed marauders thusly:

“Ace here — he derives pleasure out of hurting people. Tex — rile him and you’re gonna hear some screaming in this town today. Denver — half Cheyenne. He hate white man, but he doesn’t feel half so badly about white women. Boss — bones covered with dirty skin, but even half-drunk he’s the fastest draw in Wyoming territory.”

loweOur weekly two hour show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35, can be heard twice, every Friday – Noon EST with an encore broadcast at Midnight EST.

Jonathan Rado, of Foxygen, is my guest this week.

SIRIUS 371: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ Jan Hammer Group – Don’t You Know ++ The Move – Chinatown ++ Todd Rundgren – Healing Part III ++ Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – The Tracks of My Tears ++ Meat Loaf – You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night) ++ Gerry Rafferty – Right Down The Line ++ Cate Le Bon – Duke ++ Hall & Oates – War Baby Son of Zorro ++ Nick Lowe – I Love The Sound of Breaking Glass ++ Judee Sill – The Kiss ++ Roy Wood – Any Old Time Will Do ++ Warren Zevon – Desperadoes Under The Eaves ++ Van Morrison – Who Was That Masked Man ++ ELO – Boy Blue ++ Elvis Costello – (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding ++ Harry Nilsson – Many Rivers To Cross ++ Patti Smith – Frederick ++ Walter Egan – Magnet And Steel ++ Frankie Vallie & The Four Seasons – Walk Like A Man ++ The Band – Stage Fright ++ Wizzard – See My Baby Jive ++ Big Star – Jesus Christ ++ Barbra Streisand – My Man ++ John Phillips – Holland Tunnel ++ Bruce Springsteen – Darkness On The Edge Town ++ The Idle Race – The Birthday ++ Paul McCartney – Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five ++ Fleetwood Mac – Hold Me ++ Jim Sullivan – Highways ++ Jonathan Rado – If U Want (I Will Love U 4ever) ++ Neil Diamond – Soolaimon / Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show (Live) ++ Todd Rundgren – Just One Victory ++ Richard Swift – Lady Luck

*You can listen, for free, online with the SIRIUS three day trial — just submit an email address and they will send you a password.

Aquarium Drunkard

Sidle up and dig in to this all-vinyl medley of unicorn dreams, flittering romances, rusty country cuts. Start your year with this mix and maybe you’ll follow Mike Wilhelm’s lead when he bellows “Startin’ next week I’m gonna get myself together”.

Aquarium Drunkard Presents: January – A Medley


You did check these out, right? Hello, Mr. Soul :: Neil Young Covers, 1967-1978

Françoise Hardy :: Till the Morning Comes