Roy Harper: Another Day (1970)

Roy HarperI saw Roy Harper play live at the Half Moon in London on August 19, 1991. Since he rarely played in the United States, I was grateful for the opportunity to finally see him.

The show was kind of a disaster. Roy came onstage in what can only be described as a severely altered state. “I’m not ripped—I’m shredded,” were his first words to the audience. Things went downhill from there. He forgot the words to some of the songs. He changed songs before finishing the one he was playing. He rambled and at one point made chicken noises into the microphone. To make matters worse, there was a drunken heckler at the front of the stage that yelled out nonsense throughout the show, at one point attempting to knock over the speakers at the side of the stage. Apparently, the club didn’t believe in bouncers.

At the end of the set, Roy told the audience that there would be some improvement during the following two nights. That was little consolation to me—I was catching a flight back to the States the next day.

Still, I don’t hold it against him. I heard that he’d had some personal problems that night. Besides, it’s Roy Harper.

If you don’t think you’ve heard Roy Harper, you probably have. He sang the lead vocals on the Pink Floyd song Have a Cigar. In addition to Pink Floyd, he’s worked with a myriad of rock luminaries, including Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Ronnie Lane, Keith Moon, David Gilmour, Paul and Linda McCartney, Keith Emerson, and Kate Bush.

“I was never really a bone fide member of the folk scene. I was too much of a modernist, really. Just too modern for what was going on in the folk clubs. I wanted to modernize music, but more than that to completely modernize people’s attitudes towards life in general. I was involved in trying to bring meat to the folk music, which is a big mistake anyway.”

Roy Harper, October 2008

Roy recorded 21 studio albums, plus a number of live albums and compilations. The featured track, Another Day, is from the 1970 album Flat Baroque and Berserk. The first version is the album track. The second is a video by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, which I added because it complements the Peter Gabriel/Kate Bush video from my last post.

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Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel: Star For a Week (1992)

steve_harleyWhat would the seventies have been without Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel?

Steve was born Stephen Malcolm Ronald Nice in Deptford, South London, on February 27, 1951. He first performed with Cockney Rebel, then dissolved that band and started Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel. Steve has also recorded solo projects as Steve Harley.

He’s had many hits throughout his career, including Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me), which reached number one on the UK charts in 1975. Other hits include Judy Teen, Mr. Soft, Mr. Raffles, (Man It Was Mean), Here Comes The Sun, Love’s a Prima Donna, Irresistible, and Phantom of  the  Opera (with Sarah Brightman).

Steve was and is well-known in the UK and Europe but you’d probably be hard-pressed to find people in the U.S. who’ve heard of him. His live shows always feature the audience singing along to Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me).

One of my favorite songs by Steve Harley is Star For a Week, which appeared on the album Yes You Can. The song is based on the actual story of troubled youth in Norfolk who began a crime spree because he wanted to be famous. This video clip comes from a 1989 UK concert.

Search Amazon.com for Steve Harley.

Katell Keineg: There You Go (1997)

katell-keinegListening to Katell Keineg, one is constantly aware of the duality in her music: modern and seemingly ancient, melodic with dissonant elements, soft but intense, deeply personal and unknowable.

Katell was born in Brittany, grew up in Cardiff, Wales, and currently lives in Dublin. When she was signed by Elektra Records in 1993, she was poised to become the “next big thing.” Unfortunately, management changes at Elektra left her with a contract to a record company that little cared about marketing her music, preferring to concentrate their efforts on pop music, which was becoming increasingly popular.

So Katell’s music remains mostly hidden to the world. I consider myself a fan and I sometimes don’t find out about new releases for months, if not years, after they’re released. Katell doesn’t seem much concerned with marketing, nor is there any real effort on anyone’s part to even keep her existing fans up-to-date. I signed up for her mailing list years ago through her website and I don’t remember getting any mail as a result. Katell released a 4-song EP called Y Gwyneb Iau/Trouble in January of this year, and I only found out about it while researching this post.

“Well, I guess it is a bit weird, getting up onstage and emoting — not that my songs are autobiographical! But at a gig, the exposure, the emotion, is through the conduit of a song. And, most important, it’s not just me; there’s an audience participating; we’re all there in the room together. That’s where the contact is. That’s where the religious element is.”

Katell Keineg, New York Times article, July 2, 2006

There You Go is from the album Jet, released in 1997. This video was recorded at The Living Room in New York City in 2006.

As much as I hate to say it, the word is never going to get out about Katell, one of the most gifted singer-songwriters of our time. Why? Funny you should ask. I’ll tell you the big secret:

Because music is dead.

Music died a while ago, and it went out with a whimper, not a bang. There are no longer any rock radio stations, other than stations that play “oldies” and alternative stations, which are an alternative to good music, mostly. There are stations like JACK FM that play a mix of music, but they never front-announce or back-announce the music (not that they’d ever play anything by Katell). How can they? They don’t have any deejays. Even the stations with deejays don’t announce tracks. Not that it would matter, since they don’t play anything worth listening to anyway.

Music is dead, unless your idea of music is rap or bullshit pop music (and if it is, I feel sorry for you). Music is dead, unless you call the phony crap that oozes out of American Idol music.

Music is dead, and Katell Keineg is too good, too honest, too intelligent, and too real to have a place in a music industry that is run by the cartel of gangsters that calls itself the RIAA.

So Katell continues to make the music that she wants to make, the way she wants to make it. And that’s why you probably never heard of her. And you’re the worse off for it.

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Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Rattlesnakes (1984)

 

Lloyd ColeLloyd Cole flew under my radar. I’d heard of him, but I wasn’t all that familiar with his music until sometime last year when I bought a couple of his albums, 1984-1989, and Music in a Foreign Language. How’d I miss him? I mean, I currently have 15,122 songs on my hard drive, which works about to about 1,260 albums if you allow for 12 songs on an album. Dunno, I guess it’s just one of those things.

Lloyd is British and currently lives in Massachusetts. His band The Commotions released their first album, Rattlesnakes, in 1984. The video presented here is the title track from the album.

The Commotions released two more albums before disbanding in 1989.

“I made myself write songs because that’s what you had to do if you wanted to be like Marc (Bolan) or David Bowie. My primary motivation was, in retrospect, wanting to be famous, which is quite sad but probably fairly common. Then you get to the point where you have to get a different motivation to carry on. My only goal at first was to be on Top of the Pops and on the cover of the NME.”

Interview, The Guardian, 2004

After moving to New York, Lloyd embarked on a solo career, although he released an album with New York musicians (including Jill Sobule) in 2000 under the name of The Negatives. He contributed one of the memorable tracks on 1991’s Leonard Cohen tribute album I’m Your Fan, with a cover of Chelsea Hotel.

I e-mailed Cole’s management to ask if there was a mailing list notifying fans of upcoming gigs but my e-mail was met with stony silence.

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