The Music Thread

Speaking of Jimmy Smyth, he was the main man in the seminal Irish pub/rock band The Bogey Boys. We lost him for a few years after he disbanded the Bogeys and then he sort of disappeared off the map until one day I was repainting my flat in Rathmines and this song came on the radio, stopping me dead in my tracks. I lit a cigarette and listened to the amazing singing I at first thought HAD to be Bree Harris, Ballyfermot native and first Irish lady of the blues.

Back then getting information about who played on which record meant you had to buy it to find out. It wasn't Bree, it was an American soul singer named Toni Childs (RIP). So I bought the album and took it home, then stuck it on the turntable and read through the credits: the name Jimmy Smyth caught my eye and I wondered if it could really be the same Jimmy? It was, he was still burning strings and setting the bar so high for those around him I was gobsmacked.

Monster tune, still sounds fucking awesome:

Toni Childs: 'Don't Walk Away' (1988)

Weird echoes of gospel singer style in that voice... very 80's but transcends the keyboards...
Weird echoes of gospel singer style in that voice... very 80's but transcends the keyboards...

Yeah, sadly she passed shortly after this album was finished, and Jimmy was broken-hearted.

A few warm-up private dates were set up and played, but then the sickness took all her strength.

The album itself had a few other nice tracks but nothing that came close to the one you heard.

And then she was gone.

But still, other American female vocalists/songwriters of that period were getting breaks, big money productions - some paid off, others flopped.

This one produced a one-hit wonder, and it has to be said - the rest of the album was mostly the band players flexing their muesli.

As I recall, soon after this took off she met and married Paul Simon.

Which obviously made me laugh.
The Brooklynites: 'Soul Coughing'

Great fat-beat groove - from the soundtrack of 'Blue In The Face' by Paul Auster and Wayne Wang. The second installment after the classic 'Smoke' movie featuring some amazing acting by Harvey Keitel and William Hurt (along with many other familiar faces) and written and directed by Mackleen Desravines. It's set in a corner shop in Brooklyn New York and portrays the daily life in the neighbourhood and how all the cultures involved get along.

Lou Reed even shows up:

Other familiar faces include Jim Jarmusch and John Lurie, the former coming to Auggie's corner shop to smoke his last cigarette and the latter John Lurie playing free jazz outside on the pavement with his little band. Ru Paul shows up at the end teaching everyone to do the 'Auggie Wren' dance. But here's Jarmusch smoking his last fag:

That screams of the most base and manic approach to rock'n'roll that only some rather quaintly damaged people can nail down.

Like these reprobates, The Violent Femmes.

As lo-fi and anti-'big music' as it gets without missing the mark.

That's the best cover of all time in my opinion.

“In the beginning it was just Lenny and I, and then we brought in a piano player, who was Richard Sohl,” Smith told Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross in 2006. “So it was just the three of us… and we did very simple songs, because the configuration was so simple. We just chose songs that were basically three chords, so I could improvise over them.” A song so simple a child could play it, “Gloria” was a staple of these sessions – at a later point they auditioned second guitarists by playing “Gloria” for forty minutes or more to see who dropped out first (after many others couldn’t handle it, Ivan Kral stayed the course and soon joined the band).

One day though, it evolved into something new. “We bought Richard Hell’s bass guitar from him for $40, sometime in ’74,” Kaye told the blog Rock Town Hall in 2011. “We’re in the practice room, and Patti wanted to play it. She hit a big E note: boinnnggg! She recited a bit of ‘Jesus died for somebody sins but not mine.’ You know, moving into ‘Gloria’ seemed like a natural progression. Especially when we began, there was not a lot of forethought into what we did.”

From the moment Smith hit that E note, “Gloria” ceased being a cover by the strictest standards. Over half the words in the final version are her own, and even the bits she takes from Van Morrison are often radically rewritten. But this loose approach to covers was nothing new for the band.'
Patti Smith's opening vocal line there, only ever female singer close to that in my opinion is Polly Harvey. In fact I seem to recall hearing Polly Harvey in the 1990s and checked it wondering is that Patti Smith?
Back when I was working with Bird at The Factory studios down in Ringsend, the band next door was 'Rollerskate Skinny' which featured our (PAMF) percussionist Clive Carroll on drums. Kevin Shields, the younger brother of Jimi Shields, fronted My Bloody Valentine, and after the nasty mess they left in their wake, Shields moved to New York to start over. While there he met Patti Smith and the two of them formed an unlikely alliance that stills lasts to this day.

The exponential connections from that relationship alone brought notoriety to both Rollerskate Skinny and MBV, though MBV were already a formidable force of their own previously. I never really dug the sound they were going for, but it was certainly impressive that when I was in our space working clicks under headphones, their guitars were louder than ours were. The din was unbelievable. I expected to find them in a candlelight and moody atmosphere, which would have suited their sound nicely. But no: they had every overhead light in the room switched on full, along with a couple of dozen stage lamps also burning a searing white light that blinded me no matter where in the room I stood. That was also how they performed: they couldn't even see who they were playing to, never mind the size of the hall or arena.

Further down the hall was Whipping Boy, Fergal McKee's battle-tank of a band whose post-Pixie's wall of noise approach could be heard out in the fucking car park, never mind swamping the corridors. This was in the early to mid 90s, a time in Irish music when our confidence was at its peak. We were finally on the map, thanks to U2; and every label in the world was flying in to see production shows put together in the studios rather than the stage. Courting global A&R was easier that way: fly them in, do the show privately, negotiate, party, deal done. It was a very interesting time in Irish music but one I could see wasn't going to last. Irish bands distancing themselves from their core audience wasn't a wise move. But Whipping Boy kept it very real. or as Saul Buckett might say: 'real as fuck..'

Whipping Boy: 'We Don't Need Nobody Else'

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