John Murry reviewed: The printed word

6 Aug

John Murry‘s The Graceless Age has been gleaning a lot of very good notices over the last few weeks so here’s a go at getting a taste of it all in one place:

From Uncut

There’s also a couple of nice mentions in Uncut editor Allan Jones’ blog posts on Bob Dylan’s Tempest and Tim Mooney.

STOP PRESS: just added to Uncut’s blog is the full interview from which the Q & A was taken.

From Q

From The Sun

From The Daily Mirror

From The Independent On Sunday

Read it here

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Richard Warren and Bob Rafkin play Milfords: Friday 6th July

4 Jul

Richard Warrens musical career began in the mid 90s and has encompassed everything from the dynamic power-pop of The Hybirds, to an ephemeral burst of cult success as sonic explorer Echoboy, not to mention a few revolutions of the planet with Spiritualized and the legendary Mark Lanegan. Richard’s latest studio album The Wayfarer is the follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2010 solo debut Laments, and a masterpiece of driving folk-punk, full of fire and working class pride, stripped to a brutally sparse frame and conjuring up spirits of the death-balladeers of the Fifties.
“An accomplished guitarist with an ear for the dramatic. Like Richard Hawley’s accursed brother.” THE INDEPENDENT ****
“twanging Like Roy Orbison and kicking up dust Gun Club style.” UNCUT

Now resident in Florida, Bob Rafkin was originally part of the Greenwich Village folk community in the 60s, where his exceptional guitar work led to him playing for legends such as Phil Ochs, Joni Mitchell, The Everly Brothers, Randy Newman and Tim Buckley. He’s also a very fine singer-songwriter in his own right, with a number of acclaimed solo albums to his credit. Bob returns to the UK with his tenth CD, Twenty Eleven, just released.

From São Paulo, Brazil, Gus Garcia sings in English, and his fascination with UK artists and culture is evident in his highly distinctive music. He released an excellent EP, Many Hiding Places, a couple of years ago and the even better, long-awaited follow-up, Medieval, is available now.

A stripped-down mix of Richard Warren’s The Wayfarer is cover-mounted on BoB#78/79. There is also an interview with him. Bob Rafkin talks in the same issue about his times with Phil Ochs. Still available here.

About Milfords

Band Of Outsiders play CBGB Festival in NYC – Thurs 5th July

3 Jul

CBGB Festival

A bit of history: Marc Jeffrey, David Lee and James McCarthy first climbed up on the CBGB stage in 1978. The group was called The Limit. When their set was over Joey Ramone said they were ‘really good’. They were also really young, still in their teens, and really still in school. In 1981 Marc and David returned to CBGB with Richard Maurer, in the newly formed Band of Outsiders. Many nights at CBGB followed; one of which has turned up in the library archives of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. In 1983 James took David’s place. In November 1988 the band played a farewell show at CBGB with friend Nikki Sudden sitting in; that became the album Armistice Day. In 1999, for the CBGB 25th Anniversary series of shows, Band of Outsiders reformed for one night, with Marc, David, James and Richard. And that was the last chapter in this band’s CBGB story.

Until now. Reformed and recharged, the band is delighted to be playing the CBGB festival on Thursday July 5; and sharing The Delancey stage with Gods and Monsters, former Captain Beefheart guitarist Gary Lucas’ longtime ensemble that once included Jeff Buckley, and whose regular members include Ernie Brooks (Modern Lovers) and Billy Ficca (Television). Rolling Stone’s David Fricke wrote: “Gary Lucas is one of the best and most original guitarists in America…a modern guitar miracle”. CBGB was itself a modern miracle for our generation of guitarists and our bands. So we look forward to celebrating that miracle again on July 5. Come on down and join us!

From NY Music Daily (June 13, 2012)

“Band of Outsiders, another group that called CB’s home in a previous life, were amazingly good at Local 269… even better now than they were at the peak of their popularity almost thirty years ago. The twin guitars of Jim McCarthy and Marc Jeffrey jangled and clanged and intertwined with a psychedelic chemistry akin to Richard Lloyd and Tom Verlaine in Television, a band they get compared to a lot and deservedly so. Mixing up older songs with new ones from their excellent new Sound Beach Quartet mini-album, they evoked other great guitar bands from years past: the artsy catchiness of the Church; the menacing improvisational stomp of True West; the hypnotic but hooky jangle of The Feelies, and then closed with a rampaging, uncharacteristically loose cover of ‘Shakin’ All Over’. But the best songs of the night were the new ones. McCarthy sang the bittersweet, Grateful Dead-tinged ‘Gods of Happenstance’ as Jeffrey hit his envelope pedal for some terse Jerry Garcia textures; Jeffrey took over vocals on the backbeat-driven, unexpectedly crescendoing ‘One Life Is Not Enough’.”

Band of Outsiders will play at 11pm, following Gods and Monsters’ set at 10pm. Full evening line-up here

The Delancey
168 Delancey Street
New York, NY, 10002
P: 212- 254-9920  F: 212-254-0782

James and Marc of the Band Of Outsiders were interviewed in BoB#78/79. Purchase here

John Murry’s The Graceless Age is released today

2 Jul

It’s 2nd July, John Murry’s The Graceless Age is released today, and people have already made some telling comments about it:

“A dark and festering masterpiece”.
Allen Jones: Uncut

As brown as the Mississippi and as fraught with undercurrents.”
Nick Coleman: Independent On Sunday

“A mind-numbingly, indescribable, life-altering, bone rattle of an album. First listen left me dumbstruck, and every listen since has had me pretty much questioning the genius of any album I’ve ever considered to be so.”
Lonesome Drifter: Sussex DJ, promoter, agent.

Dark and with its roots deep in country music, but it may be necessary to come up with a new genre for this highly original artist!
American Roots Music

Also read this splendid review from John Davy on Flyin’ Shoes

Distributed by Proper

Buy at Amazon, Rough Trade and all good record shops

Visit John Murry’s website, his blog, and follow him on Twitter

Life in the young dogs yet

5 Jun

Amused to discover reviews of Ben and Trent stashed away at the bottom of Rumbles for May on the Terrascope website. Curious as to why they didn’t identify their record label.

“The self-titled EP offering by Benjamin Folke Thomas is a collection of six songs that for some reason reminded me of Van Morrison – perhaps the style of the singing, though Thomas’ voice is not much like Van The Man’s. ‘Rhythm & Blues’ is a great little song, with a tune, a great arrangement and much zest; presented in the ‘seventies it would have been a big hit. ‘Can’t Live That Way’ is slower and more confessional, while ‘Nothing Next To You’ is an impassioned call, with nice mandolin strumming in the background, giving it a hint of REM perhaps. ‘Hole In My Heart Blues’ brings in the lap steel guitar and is melancholy, while EP closer ‘Paradise Lost (Heaven Found)’ is essentially the man and his guitar. An enjoyable listen, this EP, with depth, great songs and top performances.”

“Label mates Trent Miller & The Skeleton Jive bring Thomas in on a couple of tracks for their album ‘Welcome To Inferno Valley,’ wherein Trent Miller sings in world-weary, gritty tones – one of those voices ruined by decades of smoking and bad luck, although judging by the CD front cover the man himself is young. Opener ‘Inferno Valley’ tells a tale of despair and no redemption, the backing band essentially acoustic guitars, violin and a few patters of percussion. ‘Last Chance Motel’ is uptempo and Americana, with a strong tune carried by that distinctive voice. ‘Nowhere Road’ is a ‘lonesome trail’ song, ‘Whispers Of A Fool,’ covers the fairer sex, ‘Fear Of Flying’ is in similar territory (“one too many drinks”) but adds backing vocals for a fuller effect, while ‘Come Down To Murder Love’ is a terrific vocal performance of dark material. The brief ‘Witch Trials’ is deceptively jaunty, while ‘Hunters In The Twilight’ is a slow, mournful track where Miller’s voice is as whiskey-ravaged and throaty as it is possible to be. Lovers of tale-telling Americana will enjoy this one.”

Bill Fay releases new album Life Is People on August 21st

31 May

Fascinating news breaks today that Bill Fay has a new album coming out in August on Dead Oceans. Seem to remember seeing him performing briefly at the Tapestry Club a few years back.

From Dead Oceans:

“Bill Fay is one of English music’s best kept secrets – a genuine national treasure. Back at the dawn of the 1970s, he was a one-man song factory, with a piano that spilled liquid gold and a voice every bit the equal of Ray Davies, John Lennon, early Bowie, or Procol Harum’s Gary Brooker. He made two solo albums but his contract wasn’t renewed, leaving his LPs and his reputation to become cult items, later name-dropped by the likes of Nick Cave, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and Jim O’Rourke. But he never stopped writing, and the music kept on coming. Now, in his late sixties, he has produced Life Is People, a brand new studio album that shows his profoundly humanist vision is as strong as it ever was.

Bill Fay was born in North London, where he still lives. His debut on the underground Decca Nova label, Bill Fay (1970), included spacious big band jazz arrangements by Mike Gibbs, but it was the follow-up, Time Of The Last Persecution (1971), that cemented his reputation – a harrowing, philosophical and painfully honest diagnosis of an unhealthy society and a messed-up planet, that featured the cream of London’s fieriest jazz session players such as guitarist Ray Russell. Unable to make ends meet as a musician, Fay wandered through a succession of jobs for years, writing songs privately. His albums were reissued in 1998 after being deleted for 27 years, and when the likes of Jeff Tweedy and David Tibet (Current 93) began singing his praises in the early 2000s, Bill began to come back into view. A third album, recorded piecemeal in the late 70s, was released in 2005 as Tomorrow Tomorrow And Tomorrow, by The Bill Fay Group. And Wilco even convinced the shy singer to join them onstage in London in 2007.

A CD of Bill’s early demos and home recordings has also since emerged, but Life Is People is his first properly crafted studio album since 1971. He was motivated by American producer Joshua Henry, a fan who had grown up listening to the Bill Fay albums in his Dad’s record collection. Spooling through Bill’s home demos, Joshua discovered an incredible trove of material and decided to do something about it. Guitarist Matt Deighton (Oasis, Paul Weller, Mother Earth) assembled a cast of backup musicians to bring out the songs’ full potential, Tim Weller (who’s played drums for everyone from Will Young to Noel Gallagher and Goldfrapp), and keyboardist Mikey Rowe (High Flying Birds, Stevie Nicks, etc). In addition, Bill is reunited on several tracks with Ray Russell and drummer Alan Rushton, who played on Time Of The Last Persecution.

And it’s a stunning return to form. The lush and expansive effect is completed by a cello, string quartet and a gospel choir, electric organs and pianos and a rich weave of acoustic and electric guitars. Ranging from intimate to cosmic, epic but never grandiose, Bill’s deeply committed music reminds you of important, eternal truths, and the lessons to be drawn from the natural world, when the materiality and greed threaten to engulf everything.

From the Eden-like hope for a better world in the opening ‘There Is A Valley’ to the street sweeper gazing past the neon lights to the heavens in ‘City Of Dreams’; from the grand historical sweep of ‘Big Painter’ to the compassionate hopefulness of ‘The Healing Day’; Bill’s perceptive songs strike at the heart of the big issues facing us all today. But they’re humble and down to earth too, full of striking images: witness the panoramic ‘Cosmic Concerto (Life Is People)’, with its windblown seeds and grandmas blowing kisses into prams: as rapturous and soul-stirring as any music you’ll hear this year.

It’s time to recognise one of the great English voices. After nearly 50 years, Bill Fay has finally delivered his masterpiece. ”

Life Is People Track Listing
There Is A Valley
Big Painter
The Never Ending Happening
This World
The Healing Day
City of Dreams
Be At Peace With Yourself
Jesus, Etc.
Empires
Thank You Lord
Cosmic Concerto (Life is People)
The Coast No Man Can Tell

PRAISE FOR BILL FAY

“I can’t think of anyone whose records have meant more in my life.” -Jeff Tweedy

“Each one of the records Bill Fay has put out in four decades is different, and each is indispensable. His graceful melodies, elegantly plain lyrics, and mystical tenderness towards all life move me like little else does. He is rock music’s conscience.” -Will Sheff

Sid Griffin and The Dreaming Spires celebrate Gene Clark: Sat 2nd June

30 May

From our friends at The Betsey Trotwood

This Saturday 2nd June at 8.00pm

FLYING HIGH TONIGHT …

This is a special edition of our regular Tri-level fest of Alt.country, Cosmic Americana and Bluegrass with a featured performance celebrating the music of Byrds frontman GENE CLARK by
** SID GRIFFIN BACKED BY THE DREAMING SPIRES **

Support comes from Betsey favourites TREVOR MOSS & HANNAH LOU and GABRIEL MINNIKIN & THE FAST COUNTRY …
Guest DJ NICK WEST will be on the decks delivering a Gene Clark inspired set and more in the main bar ’til 1.00am.

SID GRIFFIN
Musician, author, broadcaster and acclaimed Gene Clark expert and fan! … Having penned the sleeve notes to the fantastic Flying High ‘Gene Clark best of’ compilation who better than Sid to front a set covers in celebration of the man’s music. This is a rare departure away from his regular group THE COAL PORTERS with whom Sid tours Britain, Europe, The World and elsewhere on a regular basis. In between these commitments you might also catch him as regular Guest Musicologist on the Radcliffe and Maconie radio show.

THE DREAMING SPIRES
Betsey Trotwood regulars following their fantastic recent run of COVERED IN GLORY nights The Dreaming Spires head back down from their native Oxford (where they they’ve been running TRUCK FESTIVAL for the past 13 years) for another night of superb music. Formerly members of GOLDRUSH  and DANNY & THE CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD they cite THE BYRDS as a major influence and create a music that fuses the warmth and energy of west-coast America with the spirit of their own home town.

TREVOR MOSS & HANNAH-LOU
As founders and original custodians of our twice monthly folk session THE LANTERN SOCIETY it’s always a real pleasure to welcome Trevor and Hannah back to The Betsey. Their recent HEAVENLY RECORDINGS released album QUALITY FIRST, LAST & FOREVER! is a modern folk-pop masterpiece described by NME as possessing “Fairport Convention’s folk with Fleetwood Mac’s pop sensibilities”.

GABRIEL MINNIKIN & THE FAST COUNTRY
Born and raised in Nova Scotia (Canada), Gabriel is a singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and was a member of the Canadian country rock band The Guthries in the late 1990s and early 2000s. His voice is unbelievable, ranging from the gravely depths of a bass to the richer timbre of a baritone. He has toured extensively as a soloist sharing stages with great artists including CALEXICO, THE HANDSOME FAMILY and THE EARLIES, to name but a few. Tonight he plays with new band but featuring old foil Chris Hillman on Pedal Steel Guitar.

Plus LATE NIGHT FLOOR SPOTS FROM SPECIAL GUESTS

AND

DJ NICK WEST – Bucketfull Of Brains’ man about town spinning a Gene Clark inspired set and more til 1.00am ish.

ALL FOR ONLY £5 !!!!!!!!!

THE DREAMING SPIRES’ EVENT FACEBOOK

The Betsey Trotwood
56 Farringdon Road
EC1R 3BL
London,
United Kingdom

Doors: 8.00pm

Trent Miller: European Dates in June

29 May

Trent Miller is playing three shows in Germany and Holland next month.

14th June: Hamburg – Soulkitchen Halle
16th June: Berlin – Ex’n’Pop
19th June: Amsterdam – Muziek Cafe

‘John made a record’: Chuck Prophet on John Murry

14 May


It’s come to my attention that you’d like some words from me on my buddy John Murry. I suppose I could come up with a blurb or two or twelve. God knows I’ve written a few – and more than a couple for myself.

John made a record. And it’s great. You know that, of course. Maybe we all do. When he was making it we got together and we talked about it. We had deep conversations on the merits of being certifiably insane. And we came to the conclusion that it beats dressing like you’re homeless. Beyond that, I don’t know what to add. I could dress it up in purple but, like I was saying, we decided insanity beats dressing like you’re homeless. So we’re fairly well attired these days.

John made a record. What’s amazing is that he did it somehow in spite of himself. In spite of the fact that he claims he can’t play the guitar. And that he’s lazy. And that he’s totally unwilling to buy ‘gay ass Serge Gainsbourg records’ and sit in bars in the Mission listening to some dude ‘spin records’ from the 80’s for the sake of irony. Aside from all that John is a seriously complicated dude. For one, he can spend money like nobody’s business and doesn’t seem worried about making much of it. He taught me that money is some magical shit. As you can imagine, that got my attention. So we went out for ice cream (I was buying). John told me more secrets. We do that sort of thing; ‘Ladies (who are men – we believe) who lunch’.

I like the fact that there’s a picture somewhere of John – a picture of Barry Hannah holding him (and a drink) when he was just a baby. Hannah was friends with his (John’s) dad. Hannah fairly recently lived with John’s little brother or something, before he went to meet his maker (who makes Barry Hannah?). The first day he was there he demanded the kid “go get some pussy” and he bought them both .357’s. I don’t know where those .357’s are now. But Hannah is gone daddy gone. Of course, we’ll never stop reading him.

Anyway, John made this record and it’s pretty cool. He went up the mountain and talked to the elephant, as we used to say. I don’t pretend to know what was moving through his veins when he made it (do we need to?). All I know for sure is that I enjoy eating ice cream with John. So, in an effort to get to the heart of what this record means, I asked him what drove him to make it. He promised me he had a manifesto and he’d share it with me when he was ready. And though it wasn’t clear just what it was – he said he could come up with them (manifestos) all day long. That’s true. And that he’s happy to run his mouth, and the shit that comes out will always run golden, that is, too. Opinions really are like assholes. Of course assholes are truly great, absolutely necessary, and interesting parts of the human body. Which is really my way of saying that John made a cool record and that you might want to seek it out. It’s worth the seeking. It’s never a bad idea to keep an eye on John. Not because he’s dangerous, but because you’ll miss something. An idiotic musician renting space at the studio once found out John was addicted to heroin. In a ridiculous move to endear himself to the ‘better’ of us there (what a fool!), he expressed concern over John’s presence – as if he and his shit were in danger. I’ll tell you what I told him: “Don’t ever underestimate John Murry. Don’t ever presume to know.” I was wary of that drummer after that. Never have been of John. Not when he was high as a kite with no string, or crazy as a loon with no meds, or sane as a professor with too many books. John Murry is John Murry. That’s kinda that. What John wanted more than drums or money wasn’t never what they thought. He gave it all away, anyhow. It still isn’t. He fears absolution and embraces condemnation. He loves the hated and hates the loved. And I think we all oughta pay attention now. He never needed Bob The opposite was true. Down at the studio we all knew it. John is just now – maybe, hopefully – figuring that one out. If he does – if he has – then there’s more to come. I’m waiting. We all should.

Onwards,

Chuck Prophet

John Murry’s The Graceless Age

3 May

To say we’re excited about this one doesn’t even come close. I’ve been conscious of this record for nearly two years now and elements enter my head unbidden at the strangest times. I like that.

I first met John Murry five years ago, when the world was a different place, and he was touring with the old Memphis folkie Bob Frank (it was Frank’s take on ‘Wild Bill Jones’ that Jim Dickinson did on Dixie Fried back in 1971). Somehow he took a liking to me, and thus we’ve stayed in contact. As a close listen to The Graceless Age will indicate he’s had a strange few years in the interim. But he’s come out of it alive having taken to heart Chuck Prophet’s sage advice: “insanity’s fine. The rest won’t fly”.

Murry comes from Tupelo, Mississippi and he’s William Faulkner’s grandson or nephew or something; if you look at Faulkner’s genealogy you get the idea, you can’t miss the Murrys. He used to hang out at the juke joints of folk who’d record for Fat Possum and he knew the Dickinsons. He listened well and he played for a bit in Lucero. Seven years ago he moved to Oakland and took up with Bob Frank. They came up with an album of haunting, uncompromising murder songs, World Without EndDavid Fricke wrote, “With his low, hanging-judge drawl, Murry sounds as severe and modern as Leonard Cohen”.

He began recording The Graceless Age (co-produced with Tim Mooney and Kevin Cubbins) four years ago on the West Coast. He took the tapes to Memphis and back again, adding layers of sound as thick as San Francisco fog and Mississippi mud. He tells a survivor’s tale of savage misadventure recounted by an uncompromising, compelling voice surfacing from a melange of layered guitars, strings, voices, and electronics. A big sound at times, those backup singers, the panoramic guitar noise, sweet piano melodies, an orchestra of strings, bells, horns, but no matter how ethereal or expansive, at the heart of each song is something simple maybe written on an acoustic guitar or upright piano about loss and solitude and bad screwing-up, not always with a guilty conscience.

They’re songs written in words “blood red as Mississippi clay”. They may be crafted but they’re soul-wrenchingly emotive, to the point of exploring and revisiting a personal Cavalry Most of the seeming metaphors aren’t metaphors, they’re literal reporting; the fire happened, so did the ambulance rides.

And through those layers of sound, the guitars, the electronica, the twisted muzak, you’re held by Murry’s North Mississippi voice, and you hear the echoes of his Nobel laureate, near-kinsman, and the lessons he learned at Junior Kimbrough’s place, at the Zebra Ranch, in the clubs and bars of Memphis. That he took to the city by the bay, down to The Mission where he died, was resurrected, and by grace got to tell the tale.

John Murry’s The Graceless Age is released by Bucketfull Of Brains (BoB122) on July 2nd, and distributed by Proper.

The photo of John Murry was taken by Amoreena Berg