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The theme in February here will be “underrated” – featuring artists, bands, albums and songs that have not been given the recognition they deserve. (In March, the theme will be “overrated” – you can guess what that means.) I’ll post the first post later, but if you fancy contributing a post, get in touch!

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Relaunching soon

We’ve been quiet here for a few months, but will relaunch at the end of this week. February’s theme will be “Underrated”. If you want to contribute a post, work out how to email me, or leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

Here are the most popular posts we published in 2012:

1. Raincoat Optimist: What happens if songs become offensive over time?

2. Kellie Strom: First LPs, flamenco dancers and sea shanties, musicals and clowns

3. Bob: For Nowruz

4. Bob: Leviticus

5. Bob: First & last: cassette albums: From E Street to the Copacabana

6.  Kellie Strom: First and Last EPs, Country Guitar Vol. 6 and Gunpowders

A couple of those come from our First and Last series, which will continue as an occassional feature. Some highlights of that series were TNC on camp metal, how Rusty Fruit Juice became a smack addict rent boy, the Poor Mouth’s journey fromglam rocking freckled nine year old to art rocking Prestwick Airport employee, Radiator with the Pixies in sunny Stoke, and Martin Black from puppy love to pocket fishrmen. The thing I loved about the series was how it revealed the social history of music recording technology and music retail consumption, but then that’s me.

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I dream of love

From the secret lead-lined vault of bootleg demo reel to reels and wax cylinders, here is John Dog singing one of the hits of tomorrowyear, I dream of love.

More John Dog songs at raymondbutler.bandcamp.com, and on this YouTube playlist.

The Festival of Britain images are from the short film Brief City, 1952, available at archive.org.



According to Misha Glenny:

In July, Mikko Hypponen, the widely respected chief research officer of Finnish anti-virus company, F-Secure, received an email apparently from a scientist in Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation. In it, the scientist revealed that “our nuclear program has once again been compromised and attacked by a new worm with exploits which have shut down our automation network at Natanz and another facility Fordo near Qom”. Even more bizarrely, he said the virus would order infected computers to play loud music in the middle of the night. “I believe it was playing Thunderstruck by AC/DC,” he observed, with appropriate detachment.

According to Wikipedia,

The song is said to be inspired by lead guitarist Angus Young‘s hair-raising experience when a plane he was on was struck by lightning. Another theory states that the song was conceived when the band watched a Combined Arms Livefire EXercise (CALFEX) at Ft. Hood. The band was so impressed by the M1A1 tank that they wrote a song about it. However, Angus Young stated in the liner notes of the 2003 re-release of The Razors Edge: “It started off from a little trick I had on guitar. I played it to Mal and he said ‘Oh, I’ve got a good rhythm idea that will sit well in the back.’ We built the song up from that. We fiddled about with it for a few months before everything fell into place. Lyrically, it was really just a case of finding a good title … We came up with this thunder thing and it seemed to have a good ring to it. AC/DC=Power. That’s the basic idea.”

Gotta love the lyrics: Continue Reading »

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No Direction Home

Cross-posted from Poumista

“Harsh voiced and nasal, his guitar hanging like a tire iron on a rusty rim, there is nothing sweet about Woody, and there is nothing sweet about the songs he sings. But there is something more important for those who will listen. There is the will of the people to endure and fight against oppression. I think we call this the American spirit.” John Steinbeck on Woody Guthrie

From Mick Hartley:

A particularly poignant image from Dorothea Lange:

[Photo: Shorpy/Dorothea Lange for the Resettlement Administration]

August 1936. “Example of self-resettlement in California. Oklahoma farm family on highway between Blythe and Indio. Forced by the drought of 1936 to abandon their farm, they set out with their children to drive to California. Picking cotton in Arizona for a day or two at a time gave them enough for food and gas to continue. On this day they were within a day’s travel of their destination, Bakersfield. Their car had broken down en route and was abandoned.”

Full size.

As it’s Music Monday, and I haven’t honoured it for a while, here’s some songs. The road in the picture must be Route 466, the road that leaves the iconic Route 66 at Kingman, Arizona, ran through Bakersfield on to the California coast. These were the routes that carried thousands of migrants westward from the ecological and economic disaster of the Dust Bowl: half a million Americans made homeless, 15% of Oklahoma’s population moving to California.

Here’s Woody Guthrie and “Dust Cain’t Kill Me”, from his Dust Bowel Ballads, which Steinbeck was describing in the quote at the start of this post.

And here is Red Kilby doing “Bakersfield Sound”, explaining and celebrating the amazing musical culture created by the dustbowl migrants and their children in the interior of California. That’s the great Ralph Mooney on steel guitar; he passed away last year: incredibly influential in country music, but little known outside it.

Here’s a young ex-con Merle Haggard  singing “I’m A Lonesome Fugitive”  (“Down every road, there’s always one more city/I’m on the run, the highway is my home“) on the Buck Owens Ranch Show. Owens was the king of the Bakersfield sound.

And finally, here’s Merle again, with his Okie anthem, “Okie from Muskogee“, with Willie Nelson, in a lovely self-parodic mode:


Merle HaggardWorking Man’s BluesJesus ChristWoody Guthrie at 100Vigilante ManHobo’s Lullaby.

Related articles: Continue Reading »
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Pretty Little Thing

John Dog sings Pretty Little Thing.

You’ll find more songs at raymondbutler.bandcamp.com.

Written and arranged by Raymond Butler and performed by John Dog. © All rights reserved.

The vintage Camay soap ad images are from archive.org, with a little added Zest.

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Savannah Spacemen

Here‘s a wonderful blog. Read about 1970s afrocentric jazz from New York, a hundred tracks of pre-1960s 78rpm releases from Africa, the music of the Ottoman-American diaspora, deep blues from the slums of post-Ottoman Greece, and much much more.