Math Rock Died With Free-Jazz
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.


Fairport Convention - "Tale In a Hard Time"

In the liner notes to Fairport Convention's 1968 album, What We Did On Our Holidays, there is mention of the band's "Byrd-worshipping." And nowhere is the influence more apparent than on Richard Thompson's beautiful piece of psych-jangle, "Tale In a Hard Time." It would be easy to confuse this track for an early Byrds song if it wasn't for the left-channel guitar solo at 1:43 (a round relic of earlier rock, unlike the angular progressive psych solos favoured by the early Byrds (more like the primary solo, shared between both channels)).

All the best elements of jangle are here. The intertwining picked guitars. The thick melodic bass. Lush vocal harmonies. Tambourine on the high-hat. Is that a glockenspiel taking up the first guitar's melody? (Seriously, does anybody know what instrument is playing that part coming from behind my right ear?)

I remember Sean complaining about Fairport Convention's production as being too clean and "cheesy." But for me, the production is a window through which we can see (another window) the clarity of The Fairport Convention's densely interwoven melody. Cleanliness is therefore key. It would be all too easy to obscure with muddiness what is great about this song. [Buy]


Can - "Moonshake"

"Moonshake" is like a 1960's Japanese party movie set in the future.

Or like children line-dancing in tuxedos in a pure-white room painted with empty primary-coloured speech-bubbles.

Damo Suzuki sings like he's kidding (he most certainly is not). Like after every word comes out of his mouth he puts his finger to his mouth as if to say "shhh," and then gives suspicious sideways glances to his left and right before continuing, child-like, to bunny-hop alongside the tuxedoed children.

The krautrock repetitiveness of the guitars is overshadowed by the weirdness, the science and the loungy sax/guitar/croon. [Buy]


Why no comments? You don't love music anymore? Or is it me who you have forsaken?

Posted by Jordan at October 30, 2004 3:09 AM

Good choices. Always nice to get a bit of Can on MP3 as I have them all on vinyl (in fact I forked out £15 for an original Spoon copy of the only one I was missing, 'Soon Over Babluma' just a week ago). 'Moonshake' reminds me of seeing Damo sing with Can early in 1973, a mesmerising performer. I saw him again last month and he's still good, but not producing anything of this quality. The Fairport's really good too, though I think Matthews is a fairly minor talent aided by the quality of his companions. Richard Thompson's the man.

Posted by Dave at October 30, 2004 10:48 AM

Wow. Thanks for the Fairport tune. When I was in college (in California, way long ago), I bought that Fairport album in a record store: it was an import and I had never heard of them before. It became one of my favorite discs. About a year later, the band played a free show at the school. Sandy Denny had just left the band, and they were down to a quartet, playing a lot of instrumentals, using lots of traditional British & Irish tunes and making it rock. There were a few idiot-headbanger types in the crowd who just didn't get it. They were heckling the band between songs, saying "How Bout Some Rock n roll?". After a few tunes, Richard Thompson, pissed off as can be, snarled back: "you stupid shits, this IS rock n roll. it's ENGLISH rock n roll!"

Posted by Nick Francis at October 30, 2004 10:56 AM

Two of my favorite bands! Dave, you saw Damo last month?? How has that come about? What has he been doing all these years?

Matthews is no Thompson (or Denny or Hutchings), true. But he had such a sweet, sad voice. His first solo album is very fine (partly due to the guitar magic of RT and Tim Renwick, but still an excellent record).

Posted by rodii at October 31, 2004 12:50 AM

Math Rock Died With Free-Jazz?

what kind of stupid shit is that?

Posted by SUMwon at October 31, 2004 4:21 AM

There's a review of the Damo show on my friend martin's excellent blog - go to then scroll down to Wednesday, September 15, 2004
- 'Damo & The Art of Instant Composition' I enjoyed the show more than Martin, partly I guess because of nostalgia for the previous time I'd seen him, in '73 when I was 15. I spent half an hour talking to him before the show, thinking he was another fan, then discovering that he was the 'singer' with the band, a role that he obviously didn't rate especially highly. Nice guy.

Posted by Dave at October 31, 2004 7:12 AM

hey. i'm a 15 year old boy from kathmandu, nepal..

and i love this website. lots of scarily good music every day. it is a daily inspiration.

keep up the good work.

Posted by milap at October 31, 2004 7:55 AM

Thanks for the good comments.

"Math rock died with free jazz," I once heard someone say at a party. I thought it was a funny thing to say. Particularly because I enjoy a hefty helping of both in my daily musical meals.

Not all of my titles should be taken to contain actual opinions of mine (eg "Nine Times Nine Is Nine").

Posted by Jordan at October 31, 2004 10:59 PM

Funny how both sounds similar. Just found the Future Days album recently and it is indeed fantast-o-matic!

Posted by Matthew at November 1, 2004 8:33 AM

CAN rocks!

Posted by Ben Silver at November 1, 2004 12:36 PM

Um, what happened with this page, it used to be killer, and now this new guy is killing it softly with his gun. I mean the tunes are still good, but where are the freaking updates????????, This Site is supposed to be daily, and this page has been up for like 3 days. Get your shit together or you will lose yet another reader.

Posted by Mike Hunt at November 2, 2004 2:15 PM

Mike - I'm currently in the process of trying to find a computer from which to post. Given that I don't have one, I have been finding it increasingly difficult to balance the writing of the site with my other obligations (school, other projects).

Which is just to say that you're right. I should be posting every weekday (the site was never every day) and I have not been. I apologize to all of you and I assure you that I will be better (school is less intensive after today and I should be getting a computer within the next few weeks).

Sorry again, and thanks for your patience.

Posted by Jordan at November 2, 2004 2:29 PM

The instrument that enters at about 0:26 (and again at 2:43) in the right channel of the Fairport tune sounds to me like harpsichord (or "electric harpsichord").

Bloody hell, threats to stop sponging free mp3's if you don't meet some dude's freaking publishing schedule???? Assemble your own excrement, Mike Hunt!

Posted by Hazy Dave at November 2, 2004 5:36 PM

wow you're getting a computer?? amazing. a mac, i presume?

Posted by anne at November 3, 2004 12:03 PM

Fairport Convention... call it an mp3-blog zeitgeist:

Posted by Ben at November 3, 2004 7:22 PM

Oops. UI is a good band, by the way.

Posted by Jordan at November 3, 2004 9:40 PM

You're getting a computer in the next few weeks???

Posted by Damama at November 4, 2004 6:05 PM

Thank you thank you. Your site is fantastic. I should post below regarding "Tropical Hot Dog Night." (Is it unfathomable or inevitable that Captain Beefheart -- albeit catchy Beefheart -- is passed around like a neat little trinket? It's great.)
But how strange that you and Sasha Frere etc. have both posted (see the same Fairport Convention song within the span of a week! Virus? Synchronicity? Or something far more sinister? Is Richard Thompson sleeping around the bloggin community again?

Posted by Flood at November 8, 2004 12:26 AM

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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.

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