Go Team Go!
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Burning Spear - "Down By The Riverside"

Today, as a birthday present, my friend Kyle gave me the complete Studio One Burning Spear recordings. It was an impulse purchase, based on the front cover: a picture of Burning Spear looking straight ahead, his eyes smouldering, burning his pain into us, hotter than the serene sun setting behind his left shoulder. He is playing an ancient-looking guitar, dwarfed by his impressive, confident hands.

And, man, the music is so hot. It's intimate to the point of inducing claustrophobia. This gut-wrenching soul reggae, although for the most part concerned with Jamaican politics and the living of a righteous Rastafarian life, is astoundingly expressive of a broad range of human emotion, from desperate depression to manic joy.

"Down By The Riverside" is the intoxication of new love and the fragility and vulnerability that comes with it.

A guitar plays the steady familiar reggae rhythm. The organ sings the newborn connection. And the muted lead guitar line is the ecstatic beating heart of Burning Spear.

He pulls his love into him and points to the beating heart:

"Don't break this heart that loves you."

The heart is not within his control. It loves without his permission. And so he pleads. Not only an acknowledgement of love, it's an expression of his complete vulnerability.

It is with the same passion and focus that he sings of Jah and of Jamaica.


Love - "Alone Again Or"

Arthur Lee was (and is still) a true pop auteur: the intricacy of his arrangements and the full realization of his vision are here to be heard on "Alone Again Or." The sunny folk of the acoustic guitar, the Spanish tinged solo and trumpet, the restraint of the ascending strings and the seamless vocal harmonies all combine to create a piece of elegant, transparent pop. Lee puts on a songwriting clinic in Forever Changes. Nothing is out of place. It is a truly ambitious and ingeniously constructed record.

Love was unjustly overshadowed by their California psych-pop rivals, the Byrds (as great as they are, is there not room for two genius jangle bands?).

Posted by Jordan at November 25, 2004 1:44 AM

Same URL problem that plagued you yesterday, dude.

Posted by Brian Nicholson at November 25, 2004 1:46 AM

Now fixed.

Posted by Brian Nicholson at November 25, 2004 3:11 AM

Even you, Jordan, could not convert me to Love. There is...something leaden and haughty about *that* famous album. Maybe I've tasted too much BeachBoys honey-coated gorgeous pop to like this... but hey that's just me.
All of Jah's music is awesome though. Great track! Yay for impulse buying.

Posted by Matthew at November 25, 2004 6:16 AM

I love you for picking Alone Again Or, but (isn't there always a but?) it's one of the only songs on the album not written by Arthur Lee. Bryan MacLean is the man responsible for what is certainly my favourite track off 'forever changes', though liner notes do suggest that Arthur Lee did the harmonies believing that MacLean's voice wasn't up to the task.

Posted by kieran at November 25, 2004 7:06 AM

Mac Lean makes a "cover" of this track on one of his solo album ...

He was supposed to sing the main lines and Arthur Lee to do the back-up vocals, but as the story goes he was so high during recording that he could not reach the higher notes. what we hear on the track is thus what was supposed to be the backing vocals as Mac lean's part was deleted by Lee ...

Posted by garrincha at November 25, 2004 8:49 AM

hi jordy! im interne-stalking you! anyway, have you heard the calexico cover of "alone again or"? it's really good.

Posted by claire at November 26, 2004 12:03 AM

ooh, I would love to hear that Calexico version.

Posted by rodii at November 26, 2004 12:55 PM

you know what's totally weird. after the Fairport Convention song was posted I was totally thinking "man they should really post a Love song" and then Bam! My wish was granted...

Posted by Alex at November 26, 2004 2:20 PM

Oh my. I got a chance to see Arthur Lee last year with the Brian Jonestown Massacre... I swear I was the youngest person there. I didn't even know who he was when I showed up (my friend told me to go), and was floored. Though, they played for about 2.5 hours and I got damn tired by the end of the show.

Posted by eric at November 26, 2004 11:58 PM

Post a comment

(Please be patient, it can be slow.)
about said the gramophone
This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.

To hear a song in your browser, click the and it will begin playing. All songs are also available to download: just right-click the link and choose 'Save as...'

All songs are removed within a few weeks of posting.

Said the Gramophone launched in March 2003, and added songs in November of that year. It was one of the world's first mp3blogs.

If you would like to say hello, find out our mailing addresses or invite us to shows, please get in touch:
Montreal, Canada: Sean
Toronto, Canada: Emma
Montreal, Canada: Jeff
Montreal, Canada: Mitz

Please don't send us emails with tons of huge attachments; if emailing a bunch of mp3s etc, send us a link to download them. We are not interested in streaming widgets like soundcloud: Said the Gramophone posts are always accompanied by MP3s.

If you are the copyright holder of any song posted here, please contact us if you would like the song taken down early. Please do not direct link to any of these tracks. Please love and wonder.

"And I shall watch the ferry-boats / and they'll get high on a bluer ocean / against tomorrow's sky / and I will never grow so old again."
about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.

Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet.
Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
our patrons
Said the Gramophone does not take advertising. We are supported by the incredible generosity of our readers. These were our donors in 2013.
watch StG's wonderful video contest winners

our favourite blogs
(◊ means they write about music)

Back to the World
La Blogothèque
Weird Canada
Destination: Out
Endless Banquet
A Grammar (Nitsuh Abebe)
Ill Doctrine
A London Salmagundi
Words and Music
Petites planétes
Gorilla vs Bear
Silent Shout
Clouds of Evil
The Dolby Apposition
Awesome Tapes from Africa
Matana Roberts
Pitchfork Reviews Reviews
i like you [podcast]
Nicola Meighan
radiolab [podcast]
CKUT Music
plethoric pundrigrions
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater
The Clear-Minded Creative
Torture Garden
Passion of the Weiss
Juan and Only
Horses Think
White Hotel
Then Play Long (Marcello Carlin)
Uno Moralez
Coming Up For Air (Matt Forsythe)
my love for you is a stampede of horses
It's Nice That
Song, by Toad
In Focus
WTF [podcast]
The Rest is Noise (Alex Ross)
My Daguerreotype Boyfriend
The Hood Internet

things we like in Montreal
st-viateur bagel
café olimpico
Euro-Deli Batory
le pick up
kem coba
le couteau
au pied de cochon
mamie clafoutis
tourtière australienne
chez boris
alati caserta
vices & versa
+ paltoquet, cocoa locale, idée fixe, patati patata, the sparrow, pho tay ho, qin hua dumplings, caffé italia, hung phat banh mi, caffé san simeon, meu-meu, pho lien, romodos, patisserie guillaume, patisserie rhubarbe, kazu, lallouz, maison du nord, cuisine szechuan &c

drawn + quarterly
+ bottines &c

casa + sala + the hotel
blue skies turn black
montreal improv theatre
passovah productions
le cagibi
cinema du parc
pop pmontreal
yoga teacher Thea Metcalfe

Cult Montreal
The Believer
The Morning News
The Skinny