Loving the Music - the Sound of April: 1st - 14th April 2020
It was a two-week run that saw a return to a 2018 album from Mark Knopfler and a quick hello to some of the hit-makers of the '70s, a new albums from the Indigo Girls and Deacon Blue, and some time with Taj Mahal. In general, a pretty good month so far!
This series of blog articles cover a week of mini-feature posts from the Loving the Music Facebook page and group. This makes it easier for our music-loving community to search through our ever-growing archive of songs, backstories and trivia.
1st - 14th April 2020 - Featured Musicians:
The Specials - The English Beat - Indigo Girls - Jackson Brown - Rodger Hodgeson -
Fun Boy Three - Mark Knopfler - John Prine -
Taj Mahal & Keb Mo - Deacon Blue
1st - 4th April: I’m starting with The Specials, the band from Coventry that formed in 1977 and the song that started this train of thought. The band was the fulcrum of the Ska revival of the era. Their sound kick-started the 2-Tone movement that has infiltrated various musical styles to this day.
We’ll revisit one of the reinventions of The Specials a bit later, but in the meantime here's Ghost Town.
The second of the ‘70’s songs I’m featuring tonight is one of those that tends to induce a sudden case of pogoing around the room. The Birmingham band, The English Beat hit the scene in1979 at a time of social, political and musical upheaval. The bands answer to this was a string of love and unity set against a great dance beat. The English Beat managed to fuse all of their respective musical influences - soul, reggae, pop and punk - into a unique sound that was highly danceable. Here’s my favourite of their hits, Mirror in the Bathroom.
I said we’d revisit The Specials, and here they are (well, some of them) as Fun Boy Three. After The Specials disbanded and went their various ways, three of the core members, Terry Hall, Neville Staple and Lynval Golding enjoyed some success between 1981 and 83 under their new name.
Here’s one of my favourites from them which kind of sums up most politics, The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum. Enjoy the rest of Saturday music lovers, and as always, stay safe 😎
7th April: I've been re-listening to Mark Knopfler's 2018 album, Down the Road Wherever. So good. He hasn't lost any of his magic through the years. Here's Back on the Dancefloor.
Another track for your listening pleasure from Mark Knopfler's 2018 album, Down the Road Wherever. Here's Good On You Son. Have fun
I'm leaving you tonight with a final track from the 2018 album from Mark Knopfler. Here's a song that I can see being taken aboard by many musicians in the future, Slow Learner.
I hope that all of you in lockdown are holding up in this time of madness. Try and stay positive and stay safe x 😎
8 April: Today we said farewell to John Prine who fell victim to COVD19, a musician and songwriter who will be sadly missed and fondly remembered. He was rightly regarded as one of the most influential artists of his generation. I’ve been reading some quotes from John Prine’s peers, which I think says more than I can.
As Bob Dylan told Huffington Post, "Prine's music is pure Proustian existentialism. Midwestern mind trips to the nth degree. And he writes beautiful songs. I remember when Kris Kristofferson first brought him on the scene. 'Sam Stone' featuring the wonderfully evocative line: 'There’s a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes, and Jesus Christ died for nothing I suppose. All that stuff about 'Sam Stone', the soldier junkie daddy, and 'Donald and Lydia', where people make love from ten miles away. Nobody but Prine could write like that."
Johnny Cash, wrote, "I don't listen to music unless I'm going into songwriting mode and looking for inspiration. Then I'll put on something by the writers I've admired and used for years — John Prine, Rodney Crowell, Guy Clark, and the late Steve Goodman are my Big Four.
Roger Waters, when asked by if he heard Pink Floyd's influence in newer British bands like Radiohead, replied, "I don't really listen to Radiohead. I listened to the albums and they just didn't move me in the way, say, John Prine does. His is just extraordinarily eloquent music — and he lives on that plane with Neil Young and Lennon."
Let’s take a moment to remember the latest in the long list of music legends we have lost through the years. Here’s one of his most touching and reflective tracks from John Prine’s self-titled first album, the song that was covered by (amongst others) Kris Kristofferson, Joan Baez and Bette Midler, Hello in There.😎
8 April: The next track I’d like to share today is a new single from Jackson Browne that is scheduled for release in May. I was going through his official website and taken on a nostalgic trip through the extensive catalogue of albums he has released since the early ‘70s.
This track, A Little Soon to Say is the B-side of the new single. The A-side, Downhill from Everywhere isn’t available on YouTube as yet, but as soon as it is I’ll share it with you.
This is Jackson Browne at his lyrical, musical and poetic best. I’ve enjoyed every album of his since Saturate Before Using way back in 1972, and 48 years on he still remains one of my favourite musicians. A few days ago I heard that he has contracted COVID19, but was stable. Let’s wish him a complete and speedy recovery. Enjoy.😎
To close of today’s selection we are heading to Paste Studio to join two legends, bluesmen Taj Mahal and Keb Mo. In 2017 the two old friends collaborated for the first time on the album TajMo. Taj hadn’t been in a studio since 2008 and Keb in 2014, so this was quite a monumental occasion.
The duo designed TajMo to be an upbeat, life-affirming listen, something that emphasizes how the blues can also offer a good time, and their take onTaj Mahal’s well-known composition, Diving Duck Blues, shows just that. Let’s join Taj and Keb doing what they do best. Thanks for joining me today and as always, stay safe. 😎
10 April: When it comes to word-crafting, the Indigo Girls hold a special place in my heart. Closer to Fine, their huge hit from the 1989 double x platinum album, The Indigo Girls, is in my mind, up there with Dylan at his best.
I was checking what Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, the girls behind the Indigo Girls were up to these days and was happy to see that they will be releasing a new album in May this year, their first in five years.
They have pre-released a few teaser tracks from Look Long, the upcoming album, and I can report that they have lost none of their talents for perfect songwriting and distinctive harmony.
After having heard the three tracks currently available I can tell this is an album I will be spending a lot of time with, unravelling their lyrical complexity while the melodies worm way into my heart. Here’s When We Were Writers. Enjoy
The second track from Look Long, the Indigo Girl’s upcoming album is Change My Heart. Its a quirky/nerdy track that wouldn’t be out of place on a Kate & Anna McGarrigle album, and therein lies its charm.
Listening to their lyrics it seems natural that Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls are both prominent activists. Apart from working on their Indigo Girls–related projects, Amy Ray has released solo albums and founded a non-profit organization that promotes independent musicians, while Emily Saliers is an entrepreneur in the restaurant industry as well as a professional author; she also collaborates with her father, Don Saliers, in performing for special groups and causes.
They have been lauded and honoured by the LGBTQ community for their ongoing and tireless work and support they have given over the years. Here’s Change My Heart.
The last track from the upcoming Indigo Girls album, Look Long, is a tale of a tomboy “just a little bit left of salt of the earth”, and one of those gritty numbers that they do so well. It’s been 32 years and 15 albums since I first fell in love with these ladies, and it’s been a fabulous relationship. Long may it continue. Let’s close with the Indigo Girls and Shit Kickin’. Thanks for listening – catch you soon. 😎
12 April: Mention Supertramp and most tend to think of mega-hits like Give a Little Bit, Dreamer, The Logical Song, It’s Raining Again and so many others that became the soundtrack to the 14-year period in which Supertramp ruled the musical waves.
I doubt that Supertramp would have made quite the impact that it did had it not been for the distinctive voice and musical prowess of Roger Hodgson, the man who wrote and arranged many of the bands biggest hits.
Today I’d like to share some footage from a few live performances Roger Hodgson has given in recent years of songs that have always held a special place in my life. Here’s Take The Long Way Home from the 1974 Crime of the Century album. This is from a 2016 London show. Roger may have aged but he can still hit those notes and, as you’ll notice in all today’s clips, looks like he’s having a lot of fun on stage.
Roger Hodgson left Supertramp in 1983 and in 1984 released a solo album which was often referred to as ‘the lost Supertramp album’. The album was Eye of the Storm and it has become one of my personal favourites and is brimful of Roger Hodgson genius. Here is the beautiful ballad Lovers In the Wind from a live show in Edmonton, Canada in 2011.
The final song from Roger Hodgson for this Easter Sunday is the opening track from his Eye of the Storm album, the brilliant, bouncy and completely contagious, Had A Dream.
This live performance is a historical occasion. Although the song had been requested many times and is a firm fan favourite, this is the first time he performed it live in 2013 at a show in Hanau, Germany.
For those of you Supertramp fans, and I know there are lots of you out there, if you don’t know the Eye of the Storm album yet, you have a huge treat in store!
Wherever you are and whatever you are doing on this Easter Sunday during the lockdown, be safe and stay positive. Catch you soon. 😎
14th April: It’s Tuesday (although all the days are blurring into one another at the moment), so I think it’s a good day to feature a Scottish band with an illustrious past who released a new album last week. Ladies and Gentlemen, Deacon Blue is back in full force.
I knew that Deacon Blue deserved to stand the test of time since first hearing their debut album, Raintown, thanks to my brother Rob, in 1988. The band has survived a hiatus or two and the sad passing of founder member Graeme Kelling to pancreatic cancer in 2004 but have managed to bounce back into the charts since 2012.
There are only two tracks from the new album available on YouTube at the moment, but I will happily feature more when I can get my hands on them.
Let’s start Tuesday with the lead single, City of Love, which is also the name of the album. Enjoy.
City of Love is Deacon Blue’s 10th album in their catalogue of albums over the years and the first in four years. The second (and only other available track) we’ll listen to is "Hit Me Where It Hurts". This is a big, dramatic song that ventures into slightly darker territory with an ominous bass line, jittery chorus, and a line borrowed from none other than Lady Macbeth. "Who'd have ever thought one man had so much blood in him,"
Deacon Blue are planning a huge tour over October, November and December this year and I pray that the lockdown restrictions are lifted in time for their numerous fans to enjoy a concert. In the words of Ricky Ross: "We're so looking forward to you hearing City of Love and getting out on the road, playing new songs and old songs too. Every time we tour now it feels like a celebration because our fans are still there and it's a delight for us. We're planning to make this the best one yet.”
I sincerely hope that we hear and see more from these Scottish stalwarts in the years to come. Stay safe my friends and stay sane. My advice is to avoid too many TV updates – that stuff will drive you crazy! 😎
I hope that you find these weekly recaps of Loving the Music mini-features make your musical world a little easier. Happy exploring! Join our Facebook Community here for a music group who does more than just post a link to a song.
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Words © Andrew Knapp
The author does not own the copyright of any of the videos used in the article