This time I've found another contender in the "Perfect Debut Albums" department: 
The La's' debut and indeed only album "The La's" on Go! Disc from 1990. 
(Not the L-A's as in "short for Los Angeles"- but being a scouse-ism for "the lads" it is pronounced: [laaas])- enough said!
Formed in Liverpool in 1983 The La's had a slow start not charting until 1988 with the single "There She Goes". A lot of personnel changes around bassist John Power and singer/guitarist/songwriter Lee Mavers finally resulted in recording a whole album as a band. But not without problems- this time concerning producers. They settled with producer Steve Lillywhite (of U2, Simple Minds, XTC fame) but "he didn't understand our sound" as Lee Mavers stated also saying he, Mavers hated the result.

The album in question is currently being reissued on vinyl as it has been a rarity for years- the nineties were a low ebb on vinyl as you might know?! It is always exciting to find out if a reissue has stood the test of time so how about "The La's" then? Still fresh-sounding today to these ears I must say! A sweet blend of British melodic pop luckily avoiding both the pitfalls of Britpop and "Hey we're the new Smiths"- with an acoustic guitars sound- yet also containing reminiscences of classic 1960's Merseybeat (listen to the chorus in "Timeless Melody"!!) but first and last: The La's is about the singing and the songs!! Both Mavers' eager voice and the way his and John Power's voices blend. This and a setlist of really good songs is the foundation of The La's' sound. Did they become a succes in 1990, then? Apart from a minor hit with both 7" "There She Goes"(issued several times) and the album "The La's" (Silver in GB) they sank without a trace. Their debut album was their one and only shot at stardom although they reformed a few times over the years playing around the World but no new material. By way of frustration regarding the missing acknowledge John Power went to form Cast in 1993- arguably "just another britpop band"?! One important source of income for Lee Mavers though is the inclusion of especially "There She Goes" and a couple of other songs of his in several soundtracks that serves as his bread and butter but that's only fair, don't you think? Now: go listen to The La's!! PGP
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In my seemingly never ending series of perfect debut albums I'll ask of you, dear readers out there, to indulge me when I announce the album in question this time around, namely XTC's 1979 album "Drums And Wires" (Virgin Records V 2129). 
And yes, I'm fully aware that this is their third album but in order to justify my choice I'll call it "Dave Gregory's debut XTC- album". 

First things first. After two albums- "White Music" and "Go2"- with quirky melodies and clever lyrics keyboard player Barry Andrews left XTC (ie singer/guitarist Andy Partridge, singer/bass player Colin Moulding and drummer Terry Chambers) for Robert Fripp's League Of Gentlemen and also Shriekback. Barry Andrews' often wild organ sounds were an important part of XTC's sound so what now? Looking for replacement they asked Andy Partridge's friend also from XTC's hometown Swindon Dave Gregory- a guitarist who in fact could also play keyboards- to join the band. Being an accomplished musician he apparently got the two songwriters in the band (Partridge and Moulding) to write a more guitar oriented poppy "new wave" but luckily not only that they also kept the quirkiness when appropriate! The first half of 1979 saw XTC rehearsing with both new guitarist and new material and teaming up with hot shot producer/engineer duo Steve Lillywhite/Hugh Padgham (Early U2, Police, Peter Gabriel) their third and next album was anticipated with excitement! After all please remember that XTC were originally booked for a John Peel session even before the crucial record deal- with Virgin Records as it happened.

Blog By PGP.

In August 1979 "Drums And Wires" materialised. I can in fact remember the Danish release as I ran a small record shop here in Odense, Denmark. I recall the colourful cover and with the initial British issue containing the 7" bonus single: "Chain Of Command/Limelight". An insert with lyrics to all the three albums up till now was also included. But mostly I recall the excellent songs both melodic and with meaningful lyrics as well. Listening to the album today it still sounds as fresh as at the release. Try "Making Plans For Nigel", "Helicopter", "When You're Near Me I Have Difficulty" or my personal favourite "Ten Feet Tall"!! Messrs. Partridge and Moulding were surely honing their craft as tunesmiths and the best was yet to come- after all this was just the first Dave Gregory/XTC-album, right?!!
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In the continuing series of "Perfect Debut Albums" I recently came across the debut album from one of the first so-called super-groups of the late 1960's namely Blind Faith from 1969. 
The musicians all came from prominent groups- Cream, Traffic and Family- and were unparalelled on their instruments including the angelic voice of Stevie Winwood, hence the "super-group" monicker. 
Blind Faith emerged out of Eric Clapton's wish to leave a much too hyped Cream and  Stevie Winwood's wish to leave Traffic albeit just as a natural move as a musician. 
A lot of jamming between the two followed and eight months after the break-up of Cream Blind Faith had a handful of original songs plus a couple of covers to present to a 100.000-strong audience in Hyde Park, June 7th, 1969. 
The album came out in August and by September Blind Faith were no more. 

The album heard today is a wonderful collection of songs from matured musicians who seem to know in which direction to go musically as well as lyrically with this new group. Soulful -gospel almost- songs with religious and existentialistic lyrics most prominently in Eric Clapton's "Presence Of The Lord"- a beautiful ballad sung by Stevie Winwood. But other songs are as good and powerful: "Had To Cry Today", "Can't Find My Way Home" and "Sea Of Joy". Add to this an ok Buddy Holly-cover of "Well Alright" and Ginger Baker's jazzy "Do What You Like". The playing throughout is of course excellent with a relaxed Eric Clapton at the helm. No 15 minutes blues solos but sweet sounding guitar parts to the point -arguably his finest hour? And the singing...21 year old veteran(!) Stevie Winwood had never sung better or more sincerely than here. Please remember his "I'm A Man" as 19 years old in Spencer Davis Group were he debuted when he was 14 years old. Also beautiful Traffic songs followed but Blind Faith was his finest hour as an artist in my opinion. I can only recommend this album should you want to go back and check out some of the obvious musical nuggets of the 60's only waiting to be picked you! PGP

BUY! alum here..
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Erik Werner RIP

Mar 01 2017

Erik Werner-Divina er død. Sangeren, sangskriveren og guitaristen Erik Werner-Divina, som var stemmen i 60'er bandet Jacksons Garden er død d. 20. februar. 

Som sanger og bassist i pigtrådsorkesteret Candy Boys op til 1967 havde Erik Werner Andersen hørt den elektriske Bob Dylan, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane og flere af de nye progressive amerikanske bands, der dukkede op her i sidste halvdel af 60'erne, og erkendte sammen med resten af orkesteret, a "The Times They Are A-Changin'" fandt derefter det mere flower-power mundrette "Jacksons Garden" samt et helt nyt repertoire sammensat af egne kompositioner samt kopinumre af forbillederne (The Doors, Bob Dylan og Love). Men også soulmusikken havde sneget sig ind i Jacksons Gardens sound...sikkert takket være Erik Werners stemme! Nu var Jacksons Garden parat til at erobre de fynske scener og måske mere end det! En af måderne dengang for at kunne slå igennem på den danske musikscene var at konkurrere orkestrene imellem: F. ex. "Fynsmesterskabet i Pigtråd i Fyns Forum". (Fyns Forum,som i parantes bemærket var en smuk hvid, rund funkis koncertbygning fra 1936, der, var den blevet stående til i dag, havde overflødiggjort opførelsen af det Østberlinske Plattenbau-inspirerede Odeon-kompleks, vi ser i dag, hvis bare dog ikke stakkels Fyns Forum var blevet revet ned for dengang i 1978 at give plads til "fremskridtet": her i skikkelse af Hotel HC Andersen- skam dig Odense!!) Her konkurrerede fynske orkestre i "Hvem, der var bedst". Tit var det et spørgsmål om hvilket orkester, der havde flest tilhængere med til konkurrencen! Vinderne af Fynsmesterskabet stillede så efterfølgende op i f. ex. Hit House i København mod Sjællandsmestrene, Københavnsmestrene osv om "Danmarksmesterskabet", en titel, som gav både chance for jobs i ind- og udland og sikrede orkesteret en pladekontrakt! I 1967 hed konkurrencen imidlertid "Beat Grand Prix"! Pigtråden var nemlig blevet voksen og Jacksons Garden stillede op. Præmien, indspilning og udgivelse af en 7" single, var for stor en fristelse, skulle man være så heldig!

Med et slag føltes udelukkende den engelske påvirkning forældet og mange pigtrådsgrupper ønskede at "sadle om" og udskifte repertoiret med overvejende amerikansk inspireret musik og sange således også Jacksons Garden og talrige andre danske bands, som orkestrene nu kaldtes. Bob Dylan's og vestkystens The Doors, Love, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead og QuickSilver Messenger Service sange var nu at finde på sætlisten hos de danske orkestre, der viste vejen. På vinyl var naturligvis Steppeulvene de første til at vejre, hvor vinden nu kom fra. Her var inspirationen trods Eik Skaløes danske tekster tydeligvis hentet hos Bob Dylan men også fra de stoffer, som Steppeulvene åbenlyst erklærede, var en vigtig del af orkestrets hverdag. Sangeren Eik Skaløe var givetvis det første danske offer for netop denne dystre side af beatmusikken, som havde taget jazzmusikernes svøbe til sig uden at tage ved lære af alle de stofrelaterede dødsfald, der havde været her. Og pigtrådsgruppen The Hitmakers skiftede pladeselskab, navn og stil og blev The Floor, som 1967 udgav Sgt. Pepper-inspirerede, Johnny Reimar-producerede "First Floor" på Philips. Snart fulgte med tydelig inspiration fra Jimi Hendrix Experience og Cream Young Flowers godt hjulpet af TV-serien "Blomsterpistolen" udsendt over tre lørdage i 1968, sendt første gang d. 18. maj og efterfølgende lørdage 25. maj og 1. juni, i alt en 75 minutters "science-fiction"-historie om en UFO, der lander her på Jorden- vist et sted på Sjælland! Jacksons Garden vandt dette år i finalen i København, hvor præmien var 1750kr (svarende til 16.000kr i 2017-penge). Pengene var oprindelig tiltænkt dækning af udgifterne til indspilningen af to sange til en 7" singleplade på et københavnsk selskab. Dette blev ikke til noget, og det nystartede STOA Records i Viborg overtog indspilningen. Optagelserne gik i følge legenden så godt, at man besluttede at indspille og udgive en hel LP for beløbet! Pladen kom til at hedde "How Do I Get Into Jacksons Garden". Denne plade er i dag en sjældenhed og næsten umulig at opdrive- i bedste fald skal et fircifret beløb afregnes med ejeren, skulle man finde den. Desværre bærer selve lydkvaliteten på pladen præg af, at lydbilledet kunne have stået klarere i mix'et og selve fremstilIngen, presning såvel som vinylens kvalitet er desværre ringe! I dag skal den nok søges digitalt, hvis du, kære læser, er blevet interesseret. Den er samtidig det eneste seriøse odenseanske/fynske vidnesbyrd fra sen-60'erne i LP-format!! På "How Do I Get Into Jacksons Garden" holder nogle af sangene på pladen bedre til tidens tand end andre hørt i dag! Åbningssangen, små-psykedeliske "Jump The Fence" er desværre kun en kort intro. Et alt for langt instrumentalnummer skæmmer. Dog står covernummeret, soulsangen "Turn On Your Lovelight" og egne sange "Coloured Birds" og "Paddington Station" stærkere med gode melodier og tidstypiske arrangementer inspireret af ovenstående amerikanske forbilleder. Det, der især imponerer, er sangstemmen... Erik Werners sangstemme! Den bærer igennem hele vejen og gør pladen værd at lytte til. Med tydelig diktion og nydelig engelsk udtale- langt fra en selvfølge hos datidens danske sangere, synger Erik Werner, som gjaldt det liv eller død! Denne stemme holdt, trods de mange mellemliggende års billedkunstner-tilværelse helt frem til vore dage, hvilket kunne høres til de utallige Rock Med Rynker-koncerter med Jacksons Garden, siden gendannelsen i 2000 og på de sange- egne plus Dylan covers, som heldigvis findes på cd'en fra 2010 "Dylan & Divina", sidstnævnte navn et kunstnernavn, Erik Werner tillagde sig her sent i karrieren- lidt storhedsvanvid har man da lov at ha', også selv om man (kun) kommer fra Stadionvej overfor Odense Atletikstadion i Bolbronx- faktisk fra en af de samme kareer, hvor to musikalske brødre også havde boet deres første leveår, nemlig brdr. Olsen, Jørgen og Noller!! At opleve Jacksons Garden live omkring 1967-68 var enten til ungdomsklub-arrangementer, i ovennævnte Fyns Forums restaurant "Hot House" eller "Sexløberen"(!) samme sted, i de fynske idrætshaller eller der, hvor jeg var heldig at opleve dem: i Munke Mose (vist nok) en lørdag eftermiddag til gratis- og friluftskoncert, inden de senere den aften alligevel skulle spille i Fyns Forum, måske som opvarmning for et af de utallige store engelske navne, der hyppigt gæstede Odense dengang! Min erindring om selve koncerten står så klar, at jeg vil påstå, at LIVE lige på det tidspunkt kunne ikke mange andre danske bands nå dem. Det var Beat-musik til tiden, kunne man sige! Igen var det Erik Werner, der trak læsset, med en dynamisk sceneoptræden og sin stemme. Også live trods datidens simple udstyr imponerede han! Bandet bag ham skal også nævnes, især var den jazzede keyboard-lyd fra enten "Hubbi" eller H P Søndergaard forfriskende udansk, og trommeslageren Per Stan (en af datidens odenseanske pladepushere- senere i Los Valentinos og pladeproducer hos Polydor i København!) var også et aktiv i rytmegruppen sammen med Bent Hangaard på guitar og Erling Andersen på bas. Men det var først og fremmest Erik Werner, der var Jacksons Gardens stjerne. Efter opløsningen af Jacksons Garden i 1969 fortsatte medlemmerne i andre Odense-bands, bl. a. The Book m. Hangaard og Stan, hvorimod Erik Werner hellere ville være billedkunstner! Nu er Erik Werner-Divina ikke mere, og Jacksons Garden står over for den umulige opgave, at finde en efterfølger for ham, hvis bandet beslutter sig for at fortsætte! PGP
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This time I'll have to beg of you, dear reader, to bear with me on my choice of "The Perfect Debut Album", because as with the other albums in this series was about the music, the singing, the playing- the overall songs of a given debut album, all of this doesn't necessarily apply to the "perfect" album presented here. 
I'm thinking more "The Perfect Consumer Product Debut Album" as a whole.  Fashion, attitude, style, hype, oh yes and music(!), three perhaps four good songs on a 64 minutes' double album...come on!! 
I forgot to mention the secret weapon for promoting all this was still a novelty. Mind you MTV started in 1981 but some of the music videos merely showed a band playing "live" in the studio or a concert situation. The videos to promote FGTH's singles were small motion picture films with film sets, actors and extras. Nothing was too elaborate or expensive and I'm sure the videos paved way for selling loads of records! I shall refrain from comments on the contents of the videos!
Post-punk, New Wave, Goth, New Romantics, the new Wave of heavy metal plus the old Guard, among them dinosaurs Genesis, Yes and Pink Floyd with their recent succes The Wall- the list was as long as your arm with genres and sub-genres. Some of these genres spawned from "The Year Of Punk" and on. Some of course from before 1976. 
But here in 1983 nobody could yet really see the future of rock 'n' roll! 
Yes, I do know that in Manchester something was happening and was soon to materialize but meanwhile, west of Davyhulme, a bunch of Liverpudlians with a mission, a few good songs and an ace producer were ready to roll!
Frankie Goes To Hollywood totally dominated the UK singles charts at the end of 1983 bursting out with the number one single "Relax". Likewise with the singles "Two Tribes" and "The Power Of Love" charting the next year.  
But as an album's band! How would this work?
Their 1984 double album, "Welcome To The Pleasuredome"(ZZT IQ1) is the one in question here!
It contained both the three singles and the title track, a forth single and...not a lot more actually, that is 
if you're looking for original band material, because as fillers you find as diverse  a selection of songs as "Born To Run" to "Do You Know The Way To San José?" covered plus Edwin Starr's "War" and Gerry And The Pacemakers' "Ferry Cross The Mercy" thrown in for good(?) measure. 
As the ongoing discussion to wheather "The Beatles" (aka "The White Album") should only have been one fantastic LP album you could argue the same here, but as with The Beatles' album where "more was more", in the case of "Welcome To The Pleasuredome"- "more" were almost too much: 64 minutes of so-called Hi-NRG dance music a few ballads and a rocker. 

But this was how they got their message through, that's for sure. In the studio producer Trevor Horn (The Buggles/Yes) had conjured up this new "bigger than life"-sound that together with an impressive percussive energy added to the songs blew you away in 1984 and does in fact even to this day. With the instant succes- over a million copies and a number one in the British album charts as well as in other European countries FGTH danced all the way to the bank! Allow me to notice here that Trevor Horn prior to this release had given prog rockers Yes a new lease of life on "90125"(their Atlantic prefix number, by the way!) with his totally new aspect on how a studio album could sound in 1983. As spin-off of the original music product was an array of t-shirts and other merchandise carrying FGTH slogans like, "Frankie says ....Relax!" The inner sleeve listed all this merchandise. You just ticked the box(es) of your desired apparel and posted the order. Remember this was before the internet! The album cover itself was as pompous as the music itself. On the front of the gatefold cover a faux Fernand Leger painted portrait of the band and on the center spread a "Picasso fantasy" and some Warhol quote dropping. FGTH also played live! The surprise about this piece of information is that soon after the initial succes rumours had it that it was not in fact the members of the band you heard playing on the records but hired studio musicians!! A second unsuccesful album "Liverpool" in 1986 and a row between singer Holly Johnson and Mark O'Toole ended the band's career. All I wanted to do in this blog post was to draw attention to this perfect pop symphony that is the recorded sound of "Welcome To The Pleasuredome"!! Should you need further info I recommend you go to youtube, FGTH from Wembley Arena 2004. 427.183 viewers can't be wrong!! PGP
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Some cities are luckier than others to spawn either bands or indeed whole music genres in the world of music.  Think Athens/Georgia/USA(REM), Seattle (Grunge), Liverpool(The Beatles/Merseybeat). 
When The Smiths folded in 1987 Manchester couldn't believe that the next big thing in fact came from...Madchester- please pardon my French!
The misspelling was caused by a small pill carrying only an embossed E but were very effective all the same: with Ecstacy in your bloodstream you could dance all night (and pay later physically) and in Manchester they did dance all night escpecially at the (in)famous FactoryRecords-owned discoteque Hacienda to the new bands in town, Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets and not least Stone Roses!

Stone Roses...a brilliant band name and their 1988's debut album "Stone Roses"- and what a brilliant debut! Albeit their non-album single "Fools Gold" from the same year pointed directly at the dancefloor of the Hacienda- "Stone Roses" the album took a different direction with its 1960's psychedelia updated to a melodic indie rock here in 1988. Soon other British bands followed suit. But here and now Stone Roses were the only comfort when you couldn't have The Smiths!! As regards the members of the band whatever Ian Brown may lack in the singing department he had in attitude. On stage he acted more like your proverbial elephant fighting with just to sing in tune. Painter and guitarist John Squire did his best Johnny Marr-impersonation (and succeeded best regarding haircut!) and Mani and Reni looked like a couple of skaters at the wrong gig. But when you sum up the four individuals of Stone Roses you find that together they sound way bigger and especially speaking of their sound on record: You may add to this the experienced producer John Leckie (from Floyd via XTC to Palma Violets!!). He did wonders for the band! But it is the songs that save this album and make it so perfect. When I listen to it these days I practically hear the album as a whole with the various songs as variations on a theme that is the album. Of course one song is different from another but not that different. With the album's overall sound it becomes a symphony of sorts. Even Ian Brown's notoriously weak voice sounds strong in the mix too!! This modern piece of nu-psyche-brit pop (mind you before brit pop!) is a timeless masterpiece and can still be enjoyed even in these troubled times. I hereby recommend the debut album "Stone Roses" and like anybody else: I Wanna Be Adored!! PGP
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Going to Aarhus is always a pleasant experience: a semi-large town beautifully situated by the Aarhus Bay with harbour, forests and small narrow streets to walk for shopping or just finding your favourite cafe for relaxation. 
As far as concerts concern Aarhus can almost match Copenhagen. 
A summer festival called Northside has since 2010 been focussing on the alternative/indie music scene- both international and Danish acts and has gained more and more popularity over the years. 
"Aarhus Festuge"(Festival week) has since 1965 been a whole week of a cultural smorgasbord of all kinds of art and concerts- classical as well as rock and pop. 
But Aarhus also has a history of presenting international rock acts going back to the early sixties with its own variety of "The British Invation" minus The Beatles, though! (They only played two Danish concerts in Copenhagen both on June 4th, 1964 in the now sadly burned down KB Hall!)
This tradition of presenting international acts is still pending- one of my biggest concert experiences this year has so far been the Japanese band Tricot at ATLAS.  
Also Blitzen Trapper were great here!
A good concert experience is not only up to the performance of the band itself but also how the staff of the venue interacts with the audience. This can either enhance or ruin the experience for the paying punter. If members of the staff are smug or downright impolite they are either in the wrong job or badly managed by the leader of the venue. 
Funnily enough I've never come across staff members in Aarhus who were rude, impolite or smug- this also applies to the hired bouncer who wishes you, "...a good concert" on you way in!!
If you decide to keep your jacket on inside it's ok- no hidden expences!
"Members of the audience have the right to feel at ease for as long as the concert lasts!" is a well rehearsed maxim of the staff members before they are allowed contact with us, the audience- at least this is what I am made to believe and what you feel when you enter the venue!
But let's go to the real reason for writing this blog post:
Going to last Sunday evening's concert at the venue TAPE in downtown Aarhus was a thrill for me, and why?
I generally find Sunday evenings perfect for live music- it's either at the end of your week or right at the beginning of the next. 
This time TAPE was a venue I did not know- neither did my good friend Jan. But with the aid of a GPS and some driving around to find a parking space we managed to locate the venue just behind the Aarhus Cathedral in Mejlgade. Mind you, we'd still had to walk through two back yards to find the stairs for Sunday evening's concert with American Chris Cohen but luckily we did!
Not surprisingly a friendly staff welcomed us to the converted warehouse in this back building with low ceilings that only the Danish word "hyggelig"(nicely) can cover precisely!
A very nice conversation with the band's temporary drummer, Sheridan Riley (perhaps her name rings a bell? She played drums in now sadly defunct Avi Buffalo((go see my blog on "At Best Cuckold" and their Ideal Bar/Vega-concert. They made two beautiful albums for Subpop in 2010 and 2014))- tonight she's just a hired hand) could refrain us from believing that a touring band is just like being on a the instruments- well, it's not!!
It means traveling from venue to venue, town to town, country to country all over Europe for a month playing your music almost every night. 
She didn't look exhausted, though, but was keen on talking to us about the music she played and music in general. 
So why not turn to the music of Chris Cohen, then?
A very compact touring band Chris Cohen Band is:
Himself on guitar singing his songs, a keyboard player, a bass player and chorus and finally Sheridan Riley playing the drums. 
Cohen with a background in Deerhoof has two albums under his (own) belt and the set list was a mix of these two. 
Not a lot of talking between songs, no introduction of the band- just eleven songs delivered effortlessly with polite "Thank You"s and "we play two more songs" at the end of the show!
Chris Cohen is singing his songs in the soft understated voice of his thus expressing his lyrics in a way that touches you. And just when you thought you'd nailed it, "oh, melancoly, eh?"...a few garlands of melody sung on a single word send the song in other directions finding different emotions- brilliant, Mr. Cohen!
This is of course easier to detect on his studio recordings- live the instruments escpecially Chris Cohen's own guitar covers his singing in a slightly distorted guitar sound which I believe is done quite consciously. 
In fact the sheer volume of the band is impressive when they (are allowed to) take off!! This happens usually at the end of a song or simply in order just to spice up a song. Here in a glorious anti-guitarhero manner Chris Cohen lets his cherry SG loose and delivers some wonderful noise...again: Brilliant!
The hipster audience of Aarhus clearly seemed to love this judging from their unrestrained applause!
All in all another evening of musical delight in beautiful Aarhus and once again: 
Thank you, Chris Cohen with band and not least, thank you and cheers, Sheridan!!
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