THERE’S NO ACCOUNTANTS FOR TASTE. Or something like that. Bloody good job, too – who wants their tastes audited? Then again, we’re casually audited all the time, like I was at home this week:

“For someone who likes some pretty decent music, I just don’t understand why you play this.”

Fair enough when it’s an obnoxio drone/doom/mathcore noise or dirge that gets chanced upon, no probs with that being questioned (which it often is). But that wasn’t the case this week. No, in week 9 of lockdown, the antagonist was

Van Halen II.

Worse, the comment wasn’t even made during the always-horrible Dance the Night Away. It was during Somebody Get Me a Doctor. And, because I was there, I know what that comment really meant:

“For someone who likes some pretty decent music, I just don’t understand why you play this absolute cheese.”

Withering. But, even though such a sentiment is sort of understandable, it doesn’t stick because nothing will ever make those first four Van Halen records anything less than pyrotechnical pleasure shots. Pure joy with dropped jaws … the records sound great, right now especially, and they make you feel even better. Even with occasional misfires like Dance the Night Away.

And if you’re one of the Van Halen Equals Cheese heathens, look out for a review soon/ish.

Aside from all that, which albums have annoyed your nearest and dearests during lockdown? Any cred-cutting gems we need to talk about?

Week 9 listening. Here it was.

MAY 16
Radio, no gaga

MAY 17
Clutch – Earth Rocker

MAY 18
Van Halen – Women and Children First

MAY 19
Van Halen – Van Halen II
Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race
Ex Eye – Ex Eye

Blood, Hidden: This arrived last week, a follow-up purchase from a previous Rewind.The CD sticker says ‘mind-bending cosmic death metal’ and on first listen, outside late with the weakening sun, that makes sense. Brutal complexity. Looking forward to the next trip.

MAY 20
Erik B & Rakim – Don’t Sweat the Technique

MAY 21
Burial – Street Halo/Kindred

MAY 22
Killing Joke – MMXII
A Perfect Circle – Eat the Elephant
Porcupine Tree – The Incident

Space in the head needed. Brian Eno’s Music For Airports didn’t do it, neither did Robert Fripp’s Radiophonics: 1995 Soundscapes Volume 1 – a bit unsettling (though Fripp has just launched a 50-week Music for Quiet Moments series, which could be a useful lockdown resource).

But A Perfect Circle? Yes. It worked. Roomy tunes and an even keel.

Speaking of Fripp, check this duel with wife Toyah for some instant cheer. Fripp impassive in the face of flamboyance. Guitar anything but.

Keep safe, keep the music ON!

Previous Lockdown Music – Week 8


THE MOST VIOLENT ROCK INTRO EVER? Any time I Wanna Be Your Dog torches the speakers, this question comes to mind. It has nothing to do with extremity of speed or heaviness or explicit content or any such genre-bound qualities. This is about something much more innate and visceral. Can you imagine how forceful this must have been in the studio? I can’t. It’s just too big to be contained, and you know this because even at the lowest volume, it still sounds hostile. Destroy, annihilate and burn, it’s all there in those first 25 seconds. And the best/worst of it is, it’s almost casual. Amoral, even.

Why the Stooges chat this week? Because IWBYD was on the radio, feral as it ever was, and that ties in pretty neatly with a story about the debut Stooges album on Henry Rollins’ radio show. Details below, BE MORE STOOGE.

Week 8 soundtrack.

John Garcia – John Garcia
Henry Rollins – Cool Quarantine 2

Rollins, Quarantine: if you can’t commit to nearly four hours of radio but need some Stooges history, zip forward to 1 hour 32 minutes and 33 seconds of The Cool Quarantine 2. There, you get the backstory about the John Cale mix of the first Stooges album and then you can hear that mix of the whole album. As well as a different mix, it has a different running order too. Which now feels very strange. Is it better? Go find out. I reckon there would be universal agreement about the answer.

MAY 10
Teardrop Explodes – Kilimanjaro
These Arms Are Snakes – Oxeneers or the Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home
Iggy Pop – New Values
Julian Cope – Self Civil War

MAY 11
The Cult – Born Into This
Thin Lizzy – Fighting
Jimi Hendrix Experience – Electric Ladyland

MAY 12
Jimi Hendrix Experience – Electric Ladyland
Metallica Monday – Black album 2012

MAY 13
Betty Davis – This Is It
REM – Reveal
Prince – Lovesexy

MAY 14
Miles Davis – On the Corner
Muriel Grossman – Momentum

Davis, Corner: this is what happens when you re-read Lester Bangs, isn’t it? Wild, insightful, high on ego and never less than persuasive, his writing compels you to go to the source and check what you missed, so this listening choice is power to Bangs more than Davis. Kind of Grim: Unravelling the Miles Perplex and Miles Davis: Music for the Living Dead, both collected in Mainlines, Blood Feasts and Bad Taste, are the pieces. On the Corner still doesn’t grab, but so what. The Bangs route back was worth it.

MAY 15
Prince – Lovesexy

Keep safe, keep the music ON!

Previous Lockdown Music –Week 7


METALLICA UNPLUG, DISCHORD STREAMS FREE ON BANDCAMP. As well as putting out their weekly Monday gig from the archives, Metallica have joined the broadcast-from-home set with an acoustic version of Blackened where you can watch all four players on a four-way split screen. Hilarious to see Kirk Hammett throw arena metal shapes over an acoustic track but it’s a tidy version, especially the verse arrangement and the solo. More acoustica to come? Hope so.

Given the frequent Henry Rollins mentions in these lockdown posts, it’s timely to hear that Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson, owners of the Dischord recod label, made the entire Dischord discography available to stream free on Bandcamp this week. Great way to sample their output, looking forward to educating meself in the sounds of Dischord.

How’s it going out there? How are you using music – pleasure? Medication? Adventure? A shield from the world? Probably all of the above and more. I know I am.

Albums played, lockdown week 7.

Killing Joke – Fire Dances

Killing Joke – Night Time

Joke, Fire: Love Killing Joke, never click with this album. Same with two or three of their early ones. Whenever the urge to revisit them rears up, I look forward to it, sure that their magic will be revealed this time. But in Fire Dances, it still hides. Try again next week?

King Crimson – The Elements Tour Box 2019, disc 2

Isis – Wavering Radiant
Ministry – The Last Sucker

Isis, Wavering: Love Isis, never click with this album … hang on. It’s true, though. Musically sublime – it’s the final step on the bridge towards Palms– it’s the album where Aaron Turner’s vocals went to shit or just got badly produced/recorded. Sounds like he’s trying too hard to be gruff and it’s forced, unlike all previous albums. And I hate saying that, because Isis are phenomenal.

Harvey Milk – Life … the Best Game in Town
Carcass – Heartwork
Metallica Monday – House of Vans 2016

Betty Davis – This Is It

Davis, This: Perfectly named compilation. I mean, how much attitude can a person pack into a blistering funk blowout? They Say I’m Different, Your Mama Wants Ya Back, Shut Off the Light, This Is It … the back end of the CD, funk at hard volume.

Boris – Heavy Rocks
Gnod – Infinity Machines, disc 1

Julia Holter – Loud City Song

Keep safe, keep the music ON!

Previous Lockdown Music – Week 6


THE BAG OF SANE. This has been my saviour since lockdown started: a small bag packed with means of playing music. This is what we need to survive a world where personal space has gone missing. Just grab your personal portable music stuff – for me, it’s the ipod, a personal CD player, a personal DAB, headphones, a USB power pack, and a notebook and pen – and stick it in a bag.

Then keep it somewhere you can always get it. Because when the opportunity or the need for music arises, the last thing you want is to be scrambling around for Vital Items from a room that’s about to be out-of-bounds for a conference call, zoom social or whatever. You need to be ready, always. 100% music mobile in the confines of your own house.

And with a Bag of Music Sane, you’re sorted. BOMS will level your head and bring inner peace. Any corner, garage or back step can become your music world.

Sure, the smartphone could do all this, but that’s not the way I listen to music. Nil by Spotify. CDs are the dominant format, which is why I got a new personal CD player a couple of years back – to play them more often. And it’s been a great addition, especially when a creaking laptop renders the ipod less versatile than it once was (it’s still loaded, mind. Just not with any CDs bought in the last two and a half years).

Lockdown Music Week 6, here’s what it sounded like.

Radio … often the way of the weekend. 6 Music

Wire – Mind Hive
Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts VI

Tenesha the Wordsmith – Peacocks and Other Savage Beasts
Bruford Levin – Upper Extremeties

CD skidding like a pigeon landing on a waxed floor? Nope. It’s Bill Bruford being a proficient time-shifting bastard in this high-muso hook-up with fellow King Crimson bass/stick player, Tony Levin. Guitar by David Torn.Trumpet Chris Botti. Impressive. It’s a mistake, nay shameful, not to play this more.

Music Blues – Things Haven’t Gone Well

Metallica – Hardwired … to Self Destruct
Gnod & Joao Pais Filipe – Faca de Terra (new track)

Gnod: mentioned this track in the Rewind, but then it prompted a little Gnod dig, and … well, Infinity Machines was checked quickly (not heard it before) and sounded too vast not to order. Immediately. A little expensive, but surely worth it.

Wire – Pink Flag

Listened to this album from start to finish to accompany the end of a book I just finished – Pink Flag from the 33 1/3 Series. Brilliant read, very much recommended. The last section has notes on each track in album order, so OF COURSE you need to play it while you read. Thing is, the tracks are shorter than the time it takes to read the notes. Must go back and read more fully. And yes, it does enrich the Pink Flag experience.

Didn’t make a note. How remiss

Prince – Around the World in a Day
Henry Rollins – The Cool Quarantine 2

Keep safe, keep the music ON!

Previous Lockdown Music – Week 5



Fewer new tracks than usual, as will most likely be the way with these lockdown Rewinds because exploratory radio listening is a little bit reduced, but we’ll give it a go. A couple of new albums got spun though, like Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs. Viscerals is as raging and space fried as you want, further pushing the Pigs’ move from hammer-heavy sprawls to concise beatings, and with Crazy in Blood they’ve gone and done a proper earworm. Not just the riff either, the chorus is knockout.

And Mind Hive by Wire is – on first listen – rich and involving, something that demands proper attention. Which it will get very soon.

OK, on with those tunes.

THE LEAF LIBRARY – An Edge, An Ending
Whirring semi-ambient soundscapes in persistent motion, warm crackles on the beats, not a million miles from worriedaboutsatan’s intimate beats. It doesn’t really need the vocals – by the time they come in, the track is lodged in your head as an instrumental – but the voice doesn’t detract either. Could it be the soundtrack to a free-flowing bike ride through city streets deserted by corona? Yes. It was. Do it.

7-plus minutes of percussive trance and hypno repetitions – intriguing stuff, complete with dark turn and guitar spirals mid track. No bludgeon or infinite punishment, it’s too intricate and upbeat for that, yet the Gnod spirit flows strong in this new collaboration. Check it here.

MINISTRY – Alert Level
Borne out of lockdown, we have all-new Ministry. With Bill Rieflin’s recent passing, there’s been a lot of Ministry played round here so this is timely and EXCITING. Sure enough, apocalyptic visions and a no-messing riff run grooves in your head like mid 90s Prong, then … not much else. Even with former Tool man Paul d’Amour on bass, and even with our sky-high Ministry love wanting it to be great, Alert Level lets your attention go and drops to background. Will its simplicity work better on an album, like NWO does? Or will it never cut the Ministry mustard? Let’s see.

’til next time!

amplifier wordsmith: the monthly rewind

amplifier wordsmith: the monthly rewind