Welcome to Winter. Just moments ago Winter officially began. I used to love winter and cold weather but I realized a couple winters ago that I am now the older I get- am growing to hate it. I have a feeling this winter is going to be- to quote George Harrison ‘a long, cold, lonely […]” A HAZY SHADE OF WINTER”- SIMON AND GARFUNKEL — slicethelife
Firstly a proviso: This is my list, so it almost certainly won’t match with anyone else.
Secondly, I’m English so this maybe a bit Anglocentric, so apologies there too. Actually, looking at it again there’s only two British bands in my list, so not guilty!
I’m also no spring chicken, so my picks tend to fall in my formative years during the late 60s and 70s — when the music was better, right?
Coming in at number 5: ‘Dark Side of the Moon‘ Pink Floyd – EMI 1973
This had to make my top 5. Everything from the concept, production, musicianship, lyrics… is top notch.
Coming in at number 4: ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water‘ Simon & Garfunkel – Sony 1969. A wonderful collection of songs that have stood the test of the last 50 years.
Coming in at number 3: ‘Aja‘ Steely Dan – MCA 1977. This is not actually my favourite album by this band now. This maybe partly due to the fact it got ‘played to death’ whilst I was at college. Nevertheless, head ruling heart, I have to acknowledge the sheer painstaking craftsmanship that has gone into this, producing something almost peerless; intellectual yet accessible; sophisticated but easy on the ear.
Coming in at number 2: ‘Blue‘ Joni Mitchell – Reprise 1971. Again, this is probably not my favourite of Joni’s repertoire these days. But the songwriting is just wonderful, heart on sleeve stuff, so painful at times, but always simply beautiful. The best of a singer songwriter at their peak.
And finally, coming in at number 1: ‘Revolver‘ The Beatles – EMI 1966. Ok, I know — what about ‘Sgt. Peppers..’? I just think this is better. So much variety in one album, fantastic songs which are very short and wonderfully produced. The Beatles at their peak in my opinion, at the turning point of their first era of predominantly love songs, looking towards the future of experimentation… and so influential: ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ anyone?
Copyright Francis Barker 2020
Every Billboard Hot 100 Single 1970: #456: ” El Condor Pasa”- Simon & Garfunkel. September 12, 1970. Single: “El Condor Pasa”- Simon & Garfunkel Record Company- Columbia Genre: Pop Written by Paul Simon Time: 3:06 B-side:”Why Don’t You Write Me” Album- Bridge Over Troubled Water Grade: A Peaked at #18 11 weeks in Billboard Hot […]EVERY BILLBOARD HOT 100 SINGLE 1970: #456: “EL CONDOR PASA”- SIMON & GARFUNKEL — slicethelife
*’Bridge Over Troubled Water‘ is still one of my favourite albums.
Ranking Bob Dylan’s 39 studio albums- #34- Bob Dylan’s 20th studio album release- Saved [1980} 2 1/2 stars. Bob Dylan’s nearly sixty year career has at times been highly controversial- his going electric in the mid-60s and turning his back on the folk movement immediately comes to mind. But the most controversial- to this day […]RANKING BOB DYLAN’S 39 STUDIO ALBUMS- #34: SAVED [1980} — slicethelife
Inspired by Welsh countryside, suffused with folk, acoustic and pastoral music, it was the Zeppelin album that confounded critics but truly brokered their legend Image credit: Getty Images)This article originally appeared in Classic Rock #198. Nineteen sixty-nine was one helluva year for Led Zeppelin. In the short span of 12 months they played close to […]
University was a great time for learning about new music. I studied in a bigger city with better record shops, and I had a part-time job and a bigger record buying budget. I found lots of favourite records in second hand bins, bargain bins, and most especially second hand bargain bins. Of all the additions […]
An Evening of Brilliant Music, Humour and Poignancy in Spalding.
On the Saturday evening of May 11, ‘folk rock’ band Fairport Convention once more graced the stage at Spalding’s Civic Centre.
Although the auditorium was not quite full, there was a good, convivial atmosphere, helped by the band members’ laid back approach, great sense of humour and also by the timeless quality of the music aided by a back catalogue of over fifty years, even though the subject matter of these songs is often anything but genteel.
Take the song ‘Matty Groves’, described by founder member Simon Nicol as having two chords and nineteen verses. The song itself is a traditional, lascivious and violent tale, originally adapted for Fairport’s landmark album, ‘Liege and Lief’ in 1969, and is delivered with a rocky, cutting edge, one of the best examples of ‘folk rock’ in my opinion.
Cutting Edge Rhythm Section
Throughout the performance, that cutting edge was amply provided by the deft skills of the highly experienced rhythm section, namely Gerry Conway on percussion and Dave Pegg, the latter’s dexterous familiarity with all of the neck of his bass guitar being a wonder to behold, as was the light hearted attitude he exuded. I have seldom seen a more lyrical example of great bass playing.
Not to be outdone, however, Gerry gave a stunning, virtuoso percussive performance which combined his conventional, rather minimal electronic set with what I understand to be a traditional Peruvian drum called a Cajon (Spanish for box) on which he actually sat all night. Simply remarkable.
And the evening was not all about the band’s older back catalogue either. For example, there were lovely performances of songs written more recently by multi-instrumentalist Chris Leslie, whose easy transition from fiddle to mandolin to guitar to tin whistle… was amazing.
Conversely, yet equally impressive, was the fiddle-dedicated Ric Sanders, whose unconventional, at times jazz influenced, reverb infused playing style, perfectly complemented the rest of the band.
What is more, there were the fantastic vocal harmonies too, adding to the overall richness and quality of the sound.
Leader of the Band
However, the undoubted leader of the band is founder member Simon Nicol, whose precise, often understated guitar playing could not be overlooked, especially by amateur guitarists like myself who appreciate exactly how well he does it.
Furthermore it was Simon who provided the most poignant parts of the evening. The band’s rendition of Sandy Denny’s ‘Fotheringay’ was a particular highlight, sung with deep feeling by Simon, the story of Mary Queen of Scots final hours in 1587.
Equally moving and with some local interest too, was Ralph McTell’s beautiful song ‘The Hiring Fair’. Simon had clearly seen the statue ‘The Hiring’ recently erected in Hall Place in the town centre, giving a precis of how hiring fairs used to work throughout the country.
And so to the encore, which had to be the anthemic ‘Meet on the Ledge’, one of the band’s best known songs. It’s exactly fifty years since the tragic road accident which took the life of drummer Martin Lamble and Jeannie Franklyn, who was Richard Thompson’s girlfriend.
In the aftermath of the tragedy the band nearly split up. Thankfully for us and to continually honour those who died, they decided to carry on, though it was clear that the anniversary of the event was leaving its mark on what was a very enjoyable evening.
Finally, there is the Cropredy Convention which takes part every year in August over three days. If you missed them this year on their spring tour, why not try to catch them at Cropredy? There are many other bands and musicians to see and a good time will be had by all, that’s for sure.