Magicistragic Mix Tape #3

January 25, 2012

Magicistragic Mix Tape #3

http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?htszd3j5szs6s7g

I haven’t compiled one of these in many a moon, but the tea leaves have gathered in such a way to make it so. Anyhow, the vibe is one of mellow hibernation as the pace never quickens and life remains static as you waste an hour or so listening to whatever has been echoing throughout my domain. Pay special attention to Nathan Abshire who is pictured above since I am kind of dumbfounded by how great his music is lately.

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arthur verocai-cabocia

the woods band-everytime

howard nishioka-incresha

wild nothing-live in dreams

papercuts-once we walked in the sunlight

nathan abshire-pine grove blues

meat puppets-up on the sun

fairport convention-tried so hard

carlos paredes-variaes em r minor

comet gain-you cant hide your love forever

pink floyd-fearless

clive palmer-the girl from the north country

charlie rich-i can’t go on

grateful dead-pride of cucamonga

james gang-there i go again

john villemonte-i am the moonlight

kevin ayers-all this crazy gift of time

monochrome set-inside your heart

the humblebums-mary of the mountain

sparks-slowboat

the hollies-stop right there

leon russell-out in the woods

barefoot jerry-come to me tonight

John Martyn

Bless the Weather(Island 1971)

http://www.mediafire.com/?ykgom24mw1k

As I garner more rings around my stump, it becomes more difficult to find myself immersed in those magical moments where you sit dumbfounded by the genius of an album throughout your maiden voyage in its presence. Thankfully, the advent of the internet has unlocked new universes of sounds and genres my teenage mind couldn’t have even imagined when I pined away for unattainable love in my bedroom and idolized Morrissey as if he was the bee’s knees. However, I possess a near photographic memory of the first time I rushed home to my hovel to hear such classics as the Holy Modal Rounders’ Have Moicy, My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless or Fairport Covention’s Unhalfbricking and just oozed and melted into the moment as if it were a landmark in my life imbued with a near ecstatic, religious fervor for what was just imprinted upon my very soul. These moments are rare and magical and I hope they pass before my eyes when I shed this mortal coil.

I discovered John Martyn via an article in the Wire where I was drawn to his quote  “For a while I had the reputation of a real bad boy: this man was going to punch you out, shoot you or fuck you. I deliberately cultivated it, because it kept people away from me. I want people away from me, basically… Obviously one loses one’s innocence as one gets older; it becomes more difficult to speak. But I think innocence really is permanent.” The combination of sensitivity, difficult behavior, self-destructive tendencies and eloquence inspired me to order Bless the Weather from the local record store chain in my podunk college town and thought nothing of it until it arrived weeks later. I was fresh out of college and living in self-imposed poverty as a line cook at the kind of Italian joint where they’d passive aggressively place a handle of whiskey out for the staff after we survived an onslaught of meal tickets as if they wanted to exterminate us like a coven of cockroaches. Who cared? I was passing time until an escape to Savannah, Georgia came to fruition. It was a light-hearted time where friends were plentiful, excess was welcomed and the moment was all that mattered for now. Anyhow, the call eventually came and I walked a crooked mile to retrieve my album and I sat down in a tattered living room littered with pretentious tomes, soiled dishes and mountains of music and placed the cd into the tray as my roommates gathered around this figurative campfire of detritus and the opening strains of John Martyn’s “Go Easy” washed over us and made us feel new again then tossed us onto the rocks below with one of the most haunting, battered sentiments our uncalloused ears had yet heard in our young lives.

Looking at me you never find out what a working man’s about
Raving all night, sleeping away the day
Something to ask
Something to say
Something to keep the pain away
Something I’d like to see if it’s alright.

Life, go easy on me
Love, don’t pass me by.

Spending my time, making it shine, gotta throw away the rest
Look at the ways to vent and amaze my mind
Something I need
Something I plead for
Something I have to say
Something to keep me safe while I’m away.

Life, go easy on me
Love, don’t pass me by
Life, go easy on me
Love, don’t pass me by.

One way for me, one way for you, one way for all of us
To get back home, do whatever we want to do
Nothing to tell you
Nothing to show
Nothing that you don’t know
Something to play
Something to say for now.

Life, go easy on me
Love, don’t pass me by
Life, go easy on me
Love, don’t pass me by
Love, don’t pass me by

It was one of those inconceivable instances where the music matched the unfair expectations I had built up in my mind. “Go Easy” plastered a seemingly endless grin on our faces as we simultaneously basked in the beauty of the song while being rendered dumbstruck by the eloquence of how he painted a tragic, romantic and troubled worldview in a simple song. It was a transcendent prayer to the faceless gods above to allow him enough moments of joy to keep trudging along in a life where he alternated between suffering and inspiration. He hopes for more of the latter while accepting that his personal flaws invited a horde of the former. It’s submissive and defiant all at once which kind of sums up his existence at that moment in his life.

The ironic thing about the gush of hyperbole that precedes this sentence is that the rest of the album fails to match the heights of its life affirming introduction. Don’t get me wrong. Bless the Weather is one of my favorite albums, but is not perfect by any means. However, I would tout this as one of the best half albums ever recorded. It doesn’t hurt that the second song on the album “Bless the Weather” nearly captures the same conflicted sentiments of its predecessor.

Time after time I held it just to watch it die
Line after line I loved it just to watch it cry
Bless the weather that brought you to me
Curse the storm that takes you away
Bless the weather that brought you to me
Curse the storm that takes you home
Wave after wave I washed it just to watch it turn
Day after day I cooled it just to watch it burn
Pain after pain I stood it just to see how it feels
Rain after rain I stood it just to make it real
Bless the weather that brought you to me
Curse the day you go away
Bless the weather that brought you to me
Curse the storm that takes you away

It’s yet another ode to embracing the warm glow of love and a wallowing in the inevitable decay of it due to his own failings and flaws. Martyn was never quite so proud and powerful, yet so frail and pummeled by life as on this album and these two tracks are so alive, yet injured and torn that they break your heart while inspiring you because he comes across as a prizefighter who never goes down in sheer spite of those who jab at his soul.

There are other highlights like “Just Now” which champions transience as a way of life where friends shift and shuffle like a deck of cards and happiness is a state of mind if you can just get your mind right amidst the distractions of life. Judging from its title “Let the Good Things Come” should be joyous, but Martyn delivers a meditation on the paths taken and those ignored and wishes his trajectory could have been steeper and his valleys not so deep. “Head and Heart” is an acceptance of his imperfections and a ballad devoted to anyone who will embrace him as he is. It is a devotion to a love that is logical, yet elemental and passionate. I’ve found it in my life and pray he had as well during the course of his life. Hell, I even love his take on “Singing in the Rain”, but there are a few missteps that relegate it to the middle ground of most John Martyn fans, but its highs outweigh its lows by such a large margin. Ultimately, Bless the Weather is just as flawed and inspirational as the man who recorded it.

Trembling Bells

Carbeth(Honest Jon’s 2009)

http://www.mediafire.com/?hny30mko0we

England graced us with so many psych-folk icons in the 1960s. Their troubadours borrowed from the same pages as their American counterparts, but imbued it with a stately grandeur lacking in the States. Both were indebted to the blues, folk, psychedelia and country, but the British interpreted country quite literally as their output celebrated the rural life and its mundane, yet magical charms. This is one big fucking generalization hovering in the air like a pinata waiting to be whacked by shephard’s staff, but I always felt the American point of view was one of protest and restless ennui where the bands like Fairport Convention Pentangle and Incredible String Band were more interested in celebrating tradition, mother nature and the epehemeral nature of life. Sure, hippies on all continents were singing about long-haired beauties, narcotics and peaceful vibes, but the Americans raised their fists in the air while the British dug theirs into the earth and were inextricably tied to the surroundings in which they were raised.

Not surprisingly, this era has been mined so often that it’s kind of hard to be floored by an album that owes so much to a particular genre. Sure, people have put their own stamp on English psych-folk by slathering it in proggy excess like the Espers, ringing feedback like select shoegazers or just aimed for a faithful interpretation of its ample vibes. The problem is that it’s nearly impossible to duplicate the pipes of a Sandy Denny or Jacqui McPhee or the meandering warble of Robin Williamson and Mike Heron. It is the x-factor that renders the rest pretenders to a die-cast that is not easily reproduced or imitated. Then you hear Trembling Bells’ vocalist Lavinia Blackwell sing and you wonder where this voice has been all of your life. She’s no dead ringer for Denny, but I wouldn’t want her to be, but her voice soars like her idols and she squeezes plenty of pathos into every note. However, what sets Trembling Bells apart from the rest is that they possess the melancholy grace of their influences, yet inject enough subtle eccentricities into their instrumentation that they are entirely their own creation.

Carbeth is their debut and its success isn’t surprising since their ranks include guitarist Ben Reynolds, who gets no press, but blew me away a few years back with a series of cdrs that lulled me to sleep many a night. Drummer Alex Neilson has played with Jandek, Baby Dee, Alasdair Roberts and Will Oldham and his improvisational background lends a loosey-goosey demeanor to the percussion. In short, there is a ramshackle refinement to this music and it soars where so many kindred spirits have fallen flat. There is a triumphant quality to this album where you get the sense that they are hitting on all cylinders, albeit in the most mellow way possible. If it was released in 1967, everyone would embrace it as a godsend, but it has been relegated as an afterthought a year after its release. That’s a shame since it deserves so much more respect and devotion than a cult following. Carbeth is the real deal and taps into that awe one gets when hearing Unhalfbricking or Wee Tam and the Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter at 3am. In my admittedly biased world, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Richard Thompson

Small Town Romance (Hannibal 1984)

http://www.divshare.com/download/6116236-5bf

When one first encounters an artist with a vast discography, it is all too easy to reach for the accepted classics only to ignore the many back alleys and sidebars that make vast discographies so intruiging and rewarding. God knows that Richard Thompson’s solo work, collaborations with Linda Thompson as well as Fairport Convention are rife with worthwhile peaks and humdrum valleys. Thompson’s solo work of the mid 80s to the present gets ignored by anyone who doesn’t think that Ron Sexsmith and Billy Bragg are the bees knees. Actually, that is quite a slice of hyperbole, but folks rightfully gush over his brilliance in the 60s and 70s at the expense of great records like Rumour and Sigh, Amnesia and Mock Tudor. Yeah, they have their fannypack and granola munching moments, but musicians mature and evolve to varying degrees of success. However, Small Town Romance,  a live album recorded in 1982, exposes all of the sores and scabs of his divorce while exposing a vulnerable side of Thompson as he begins anew without his muse.

You can sense the hurt emanating from his voice and general demeanor as he plays. This is wholly unsurprising since 1982 was the year of his divorce from Linda Thompson. These internal and external conflicts fueled their collaborations and provided an edge lacking from his later work. Here, the edge has dulled and the furnace has gone cold. All that is left are broken pieces and he dutifully attempts to rearrange them on Small Town Romance.  He seems a bit lost without his usual foil when he tackles the songs they used to sing together. My heart really goes out to him on this one despite his own contributions to this sad conclusion.

There is one song in particular that really floors me and forces me to reflect on my own fuckups. “Beat the Retreat” deals with how he was prone to fuck things up. but took comfort in the fact that he could always retreat and find comfort in the arms of his love. On Small Town Romance, the door has been slammed shut and his backpedaling is only met by an empty bed.

Beat my retreat, back home to you
Beat my retreat, back home to you
I’m burning all my bridges
I’m burning all my bridges
I’m burning all my bridges
I’m running back home to you

Trailing my colours, back home to you
Trailing my colours, back home to you
This world is filled with sadness
This world is filled with sadness
This world is filled with sadness
I’m running back home to you

Follow the drum, back home to you
Follow the drum, back home to you
There was no sense in my leaving
There was no sense in my leaving
There was no sense in my leaving
I’m running back home to you

There is something so romantic, but flawed about the sentiment of this song. It is all about a man who can never decide what the hell he wants and blows things to holy hell, but expects his partner to welcome with open arms. There is also a deep sense of regret that permeates this song, but a sense of warmth and hope that there is someone out there in this cold world that loves you no matter what. I want to simultaneously punch and hug the man since he obviously has taken liberties, but really loves her to death and hates himself for every misstep.

It is one of those few showstoppers that renders the rest of the performances somewhat impotent by comparison. I used toincessantly listen to this song at the expense of the others. However, years have passed and the rest of the album feels like an old friend with a ton of hubris weighing it down at every turn.