'Later With Jools Holland' is the only music programme of its kind on tv, as eclectic as possible. However, over the last two series there is an overall sense of the paucity of the music scene.
   Despite the recent and mostly good 'Best Of...', it has failed to reflect the incredibly exciting albums which have been released, preferring to plump for average white bands like Coldplay or monstrous combinations such as Lou Reed with Metallica ( what next, John Cale plus Megadeth?).
   I want to argue my choices for an alternative 'Not Jools' show. I would've included The Waterboys, but they recently appeared on it and I want to suggest those who haven't.
   I have avoided the idea of a headlining band and gone for three groups who'd have equal status : young Welsh rock band The Joy Formidable, Richard Thompson and band and Gilad Atzmon & the Orient House Ensemble.
   Two I was tempted to choose were Americans DeVotchKa, a unique combo whose music straddles the Mexican border and sounds like  soundtracks to unmade films and Welshmen Super Furry Animals, whose 'Dark Days/ Light Years' is one of their best albums and is so musically diverse it's hard to define.
   The Joy Formidable recently toured with the Manics and, by all accounts, outshone them.Their lyrics are often intriguing puzzles and the only time I took any note of one of my young daughter's fave programmes 'Waterloo Road', was when they played the whole of 'A Heavy Abacus'. They are intense and thrilling and one of the finest to emerge from Wales in a long time. The change of pace and tone in 'Llaw= Wall' and the quieter more reflective 'Maruyama' show they aren't afraid to experiment, which bodes well for their future. Like DeVotchKa, their passion is in every phrase and note.
   Richard Thompson may have brought out 'Dream Attic' last year, but it remains one of his best ever. His voice may be an acquired taste , but he's unquestionably one of the greatest songwriters around and the album takes you through so many emotions, from the gentle love songs like 'If Love Whispers Your Name', to dark murder ballads like 'Sidney Wells' and the cutting satire of 'The Money Shuffle'. He is also one of the most original and tuneful guitarists living, his style imbued with his distinct marrying of English folk and Eastern influences.
   Add to that, his band are brilliant musicians, with the likes of Joel Zifkin on violin and multi-instrumentalist Pete Zorn ; their names alone onomatopeic!
   Atzmon deserves far wider recognition: a writer and activist as well as composer and jazz musician. He's an Israeli who has been ostracized by his homeland for views which are very sympathetic to the Palestinians ( an unapologetic peacenik).
   Two years back I read at Narberth and his pianist Frank Harrison was sharing the gig. I'd never heard at Atzmon then, I'm ashamed to say.  Atzmon is Robert Wyatt's favourite musician : what better recommendation!
   Here's jazz which, like Weather Report, crosses over into rock's territories without you knowing. It uses distortion, voices and street-sounds as background to Atzmon's extraordinary playing of saxes ( which place him in the West), clarinet ( bridging the oceans) and Shabbaabeh flute (rooting him in the Middle East).
   Yet the music transcends high barriers, barbed wire dividing and watchtowers overlooking, to a place as in 'Prayer For Peace' where you journey far, without and within.  
   Two other guests would be Thea Gilmore and Lleuwen.
   Astonishingly, Gilmore has never appeared on Jools, even though she's been recording marvellous music since the late 90s and has brought out a series of albums which represent some of the best songs written in the last decade : ''Songs From The Gutter',' Harpo's Ghost', 'Liejacker' and 'Recorded Delivery' are all classics and it's a crime she isn't HUGE.
   But Thea would be singing from her latest offering 'Don't Stop Singing', an album of songs by the late, great Sandy Denny. Gilmore's highly emotive voice together with her affinity for Denny has made these songs as much her own.
   She brings out all the pain and defiance of songs like 'London' and 'Long Time Gone' and, in contrast, the utter tenderness of 'Georgia'. Like Thompson, she has played with sensitive and subtle musicians for many years and none more so than her partner Nigel Stonier.
   Lleuwen's album 'Tan' is an indication of just how exciting these times are for Welsh music and , along with the likes of Huw M. and Gwilym Morus, there is a real revival of Welsh language singer-songwriters.
   'Tan' is more experimental than the other two, more jazz-tinged and much less clear on its influences ( though Meic Stevens must be one).She sings in Cymraeg and Brezhoneg (Breton), a voice of the sea and sometimes, the stones.
   For my legend; a real one!
  I was tempted to say Ry Cooder, whose latest 'Pull Up The Dust and Sit Down' is a revelation. He's been called a 'modern Woody Guthrie' but he's different, a man  of many persona. It's the only album I've heard which hilariously rails at war and bankers alike.
   No, it's .........Tom Waits!
   He would inevitably play from 'Bad As Me', his recently released cd. It combines most of the many strains of the man over the years and , for any Waits-virgin, is as good a place to begin as any.
   On it there are ballads like 'Last Leaf', the bluesy bawling humour of 'Satisfied' and one of the best anti-war songs ever 'Hell Broke Luce', a blackly-comic empathy with a soldier's plight. All this plus one of the greatest guitarists ever ( and I don't mean Keith Richards, who's on a couple of tracks), the incomparable Marc Ribot.
   Waits is the closest you get to poetry in music and closest you get to the alien offspring of Beefheart and Howlin' Wolf in vocals.
   So that's my line-up. Any other suggestions?


                   THE NOT JOOLS HOLLAND SHOW

Let's hear it for
the legendary!
magnificent !
wonderful!
amazing!
buy their new album
'Bestiality Blues'


making a comeback
for the first time on tv
all the way from
somewhere near Aberystwyth,
Llan- something or other

THE  SHEEP-SHAGGERS!

for the first and last time,
banned from every gig
thrown out of village halls,
once did a benefit
for the Free Wales Army

let's hear it
before they cut us off,
their latest song
'Carlo Rubs Himself On Trees'

the unknown!
the up-and-coming!
the world famous!
(well, Borth famous)

catch them here
before they appear
at the Cardigan Bay Stone Skimming Festival,
let's hear it for.......

bollocks! they've pulled the plugs on them
like Seeger once did to Dylan. 
 


Comments

11/26/2011 10:02

Hello Mike,
Nice to see you’ve noticed too. I've stopped watching Later...more or less. I did see the Lou Reid / Metallica farce: Sounded like every other Metallica song but with Reid reciting poetry (of sorts) over the top of run of the mill metal...no sense of collaboration whatsoever, just the two of them doing what they usually do at the same time!
I'd add Sibrydion to your list somewhere too. They do sound a little SFA at times but then again both come from a similar place (geographically and musically) and they're both quite eclectic, so I suspect it’s more about them being kindred type spirits, rather than plagiarists.

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09/13/2012 13:45

I love this blog layout, where can I download it?

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