Another year over, and a new one just begun.
It’s been a tough year – we are all getting older, and suddenly for me people the same age or younger are passing on. Vale Vince Lovegrove and Chrissie Amphlett. We also miss Aaron Chuggs frequent office visits to top up the road float and give us yet another witty story about life on the road. Lou Reed is no longer waiting for the Man, and hopefully has found him – or her. Nelson Mandela is finally Free. And big changes are on the way for our teenage daughter Amye now that schools out – forever. Meanwhile, I’m apparently heading fast towards retirement, whatever that means (I dread to think). Thankfully the music continues to go round and round. This mix is a summary of my personal 2013 musical highlights. Hope you like it.
As every musician knows, it’s all down to the touring. I’ve been lucky enough to see a number of great gigs this year, including mighty shows from The Boss; Leonard Cohen; Fat Freddy; Nick Cave; Sarah Blasko; and the Dalai Lamar. Yes, you heard right with that last one – not too much music from the great man, but definitely a performance to remember, and in a familiar entertainment venue. His Holiness gave us plenty to think about, and we look forward to future visits. This mix features a classic track from each of these events, including a Kissing the Pink ode for the great DL. He Loves You All, Loves You All.
Closer to home, once a month we have been treated to a relaxing and highly entertaining night out at the local Clovelly Starfish Club. Our thanks go to the supreme organizer of events, and master of the bass, the legendary Jonathan Swartz. A favourite Jono track is featured here in recognition of his great work and devotion in catering to the Eastern Suburbs oldies looking for top music; good food; and an early night. But does it have to be that early – how about an extra 30 minutes in 2014 you Clovelly Bowling Club managers? We can take it!
The on-line search continues for the ultimate song. It’s a never-ending story of course with old songs yet to be discovered, and new ones arriving by the truck- load. From the past, I had a lot of fun “discovering” Ruth Brown. From the present, my most played new song this year is included – Be Above It by Tame Impala. Plus a new Moby anthem – The Perfect Life, also featuring the Flaming Lips Wayne Coyne, and a great Beatles inspired fade-out.
My all-time Top 20 has been well established for sometime though, with no new additions for the past two years. Let’s face it – it’s unlikely that I am going to find anything new now by Nina Simone or Etta James or John Lennon or Amy Winehouse. But hopefully we still have plenty to come from Nick Cave, Bowie, Moby, Massive Attack and other faves. There are 2 tracks from that Top 20 featured in this mix, for the reasons described below: –
Anthem by Leonard Cohen is the first. That’s included because last months Hunter Valley Cohen concert was way up with the best I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen an awful lot of gigs in my lifetime – well over 3,000 and counting.
This live recording of a supreme Cohen song is a doozy. Do yourself a favor – see this magnificent artiste at work whilst you still can. We saw him not once but twice last month. And why not? He puts on an amazing show, which seems to get better every time. Featuring top class musicians (the best); the sublime Webb Sisters backing up; and a huge repertoire of inspirational songs. Plus friendly banter from a humble man of 79 who is fitter than most half his age. An added bonus at this show was plenty of good red wine resulting in an ultra friendly audience, plus the welcome free bus back to your hotel room.
It doesn’t get much better than a Leonard Cohen Day on the Green. The Beach Boys sing-along at Wembley Stadium on a sunny Sunday afternoon, maybe. Bob Marley at the Lyceum, possibly. The Stones at Hyde Park followed that same evening by The Who performing Tommy for the first time, busy. Driving the Ramones, or 3 of them, to a Sex Pistols gig north of London, exciting. Nirvana at Coogee Bay Hotel, very cool. Hendrix at various locations, magic. Led Zepp at the Marquee Club – with fans queued round the block, for their first ever gig – amazing. I could go on, but thinking back – sheesh, maybe Leonard Cohen has cracked it. Or maybe I’m getting old. Whatever – we are grateful for the ex-manager who stole his money, which encouraged him to start performing again. And long may his retirement fund prosper!
The other entry from my Top 20 is a very special Specials track. Before moving to Australia in 1981, the 2-tone London reggae/ska live scene had me well and truly hooked. That mixture of black and white, ahead of its time, and featuring two hours of non-stop skanking to the beat; specials; selector. Simply the best, and it’s been wonderful to see the Specials finally make it over to Australia after 30 years! The song featured here is not typical, but in my lifetime it is quite possibly THE one song that has made the biggest difference to our lives. Free Nelson Mandela they sang, and the vibrations were felt not just in the UK or South Africa, but all around the World. Forget Blowing in the Wind – this song really worked. Writer and Specials legend Jerry Dammers must be a very happy man. Reflective also, as we all are, now that Mandela is no longer here.
That’s half the mix already. Next up, how about our longest suffering clients – the O’Doherty brothers. That’s Chris (aka Reg Mombassa) or Sir Reg as he should be, and younger bro Pete with the melody. In 2013 they released their best Dog Trumpet album so far titled Medicated Spirits. It’s a smorgasbord of melancholy (of course), including a great tribute to the Kinks. The first track Elizabethan gets both their album and this mix nicely up and running.
Moving on, David Bowie was probably the first successful musician I ever got to meet. That was way back in the Beckenham Arts Lab days of 69/70 at our local Three Tuns Pub. Back then in South London he was morphing from a young Davey Jones to a new life as Major Tom; Ziggy Stardust; the Thin White Duke; and the rest. They were good days – highly Political; plenty of dope; and an overwhelming feeling of change. I got a job at the Marquee Club, and Bowie released Space Oddity (on my birthday, November 4th, as it happens). I was lucky enough to hear a preview at the Pub. And I well remember Bowie wheeling baby Zowie down one side of Beckenham High Street, as I paced up the other selling the hippie bible IT (International Times). Strange days indeed.
I was still a huge Bowie fan through the Ziggy Glam days at the London Roundhouse, and moving right forward when he visited down under on the Serious Moonlight Tour. This year we were treated to The Next Day album – Bowie’s first real release for a decade, and mighty fine too. That really stirred up my interest in the back catalogue. And what a catalogue it is too – a nice little earner, as they say back home in South London. The Low album especially was an all-time classic. Way ahead of its time when released in 1977, and still not sounding at all dated over 35 years later. In fact, songs like Speed of Life; Breaking Glass; and Sound and Vision sound fresher than ever in the current electronic climate of Gotye, Flume, xx, and Tame Impala. This mix includes the new 2013 stripped-back remix of Sound and Vision. The Bowie badge recently sent across by my bro-in-law from the V&A London exhibition provided the perfect incentive to search this song out, and more. No Oz dates for that extravaganza yet, but we live in hope.
Speaking of legends, and linked with Bowie throughout his career, Lou Reed finally gave up on the waiting. He leaves a big gap. Lets hear it also for Lou’s colored girls who go “doo de doo, doo”. Which leads us nicely on to a rap for the movie 20 Feet from Stardom, featuring “Wall of Sound” Darlene Love, and the Stones Gimmie Shelter back-up lady, Merry Clayton. Summoned from her bed in curlers and nightdress to provide the steamiest vocals for young Mick and the Lads in the studio. Loved that movie, and have included Merry’s own version of possibly her greatest performance – the closest she got to stardom. Reminds me of the time I got head-hunted to work for the Stones in 1980. I turned it down as I was already on the way to the bright blue vistas of sunny Australia, and anyway after 20 years surely the Rolling Stones were no longer a long-term work proposition. Ha! No regrets at all about that decision though – I got to live in God’s Own, and ended up working with the Wiggles! Yummy Yummy.
Merry Clayton was born on Christmas Day, and named after it. Merry Christmas is fast approaching, as is the Wiggles Xmas Show, and of course the annual update of Bazza’s Xmas Mix CD. Relatives, friends, and neighbours beware – the 2013 update is an absolute cracker. If you would like a copy, feel free to ask. As a taster, 3 songs are included here. First, Joy – by Tracey Thorn (my woman of the year – loved her book Bedsit Disco Queen, subtitled possibly more accurately How I Grew Up And Tried To Be A Pop Star). Next, that all-time Pogues Xmas classic – Fairytale of New York. Let’s not forget that 2013 also saw the passing of Pogue guitar supremo Phil Chevron. RIP. Finally Regina Spektor with her ode to the New Year entitled My Dear Acquaintance. A fitting final track, with added sound effects.
Happy Christmas and New Year! The full 80 minute CD size mix follows here.
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