Monday 22 June 2015

The Ache - Memory

The Ache - Memory

Another offshoot of my earlier list The Ache Towards Transcendence Tempered By Death, this one focusing on memory, the most seductive mistress of all.

1.Blind Willie McTell by Bob Dylan
2.Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie by Bob Dylan
3.Needle and the Damage Done by Neil Young
4.You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory by Johnny Thunders
5.Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye by Leonard Cohen
6.My Mummy's Dead by John Lennon
7.Spring Hill Disaster by The Dubliners
8.Chelsea Hotel No 2 by Leonard Cohen
9.Corvair by Jim White
10.Eid Ma Clack Shaw by Bill Callahan
11.Here Comes a Regular by The Replacements
12.Bastards of Young by The Replacements

Sunday 14 June 2015

My post on Miss Lonelyhearts nominated for Prize / Canvassing your VOTE!

Miss Lonelyhearts post nominated for Prize

I was pleased and flattered to find my post on Nathanael West's Miss Lonelyhearts nominated for the 3QD Arts & Literature Prize 2015.

I was even more pleased that I was nominated by Tom over at the wonderful Wuthering Expectations blog.

There are 45 blog posts nominated and twenty of them will be shortlisted to be judged for the final prize by Jonathan Kramnick, Maynard Mack Professor of English at Yale University and author of two books, Making the English Canon (1999) and Actions and Objects from Hobbes to Richardson (2010), and many essays.

I am under no illusions that I will win as there are many excellent entries from many prestigious online publications. However, I would like to get to the shortlist and so I am shamelessly canvassing that readers who enjoyed the post on Miss Lonelyhearts go to the following link where they can cast a vote for me (or, I guess, someone else). The list is arranged alphabetically and so Vapour Trails is at the very bottom, No 45.
Post listing nominees with links to articles. The link you need to click to vote is at the bottom.

Thank you!

Thursday 11 June 2015

Top 102 Albums No Minus 15 - Look Away Down Collins Avenue

Top 102 Albums No Minus 15
Look Away Down Collins Avenue - The Drays

"I hear voices / said "I see the light" (I hear the light)"

After sixteen years of waiting there is a new album from Stephen Ryan, who first came took my heart in The Stars of Heaven back when I was young, passionate and impressionable. If you want to know what The Stars of Heaven meant to me you can get some clues here. He followed up his time with The Stars of Heaven by forming The Revenants and releasing two great albums with them.

The Drays feature fellow travellers from his Revenants days Conor Brady and former Would-Be's singer Eileen Gogan. Alongside them is drummer Paul Byrne, who played in Sounds Unreel / Deaf Actor with Conor Brady in the late seventies, and later In Tua Nua. (Brady has also been midwife to the re-emergence of Paul Cleary and The Blades in recent years.)

It has been sixteen years since his last release with The Revenants but he has been playing guitar in The Dinah Brand since then and has, it is clear, continued to write songs. Indeed he has been squirrelling them away against the onset of winter. (awful pun on one of the meanings of dray. Sorry). The presence of Derrick Dalton on the credits means that some of this was recorded in 2008 or earlier, when Derrick died. Also credited is Revenants bassist Naeem Bismilla who is set to be part of the touring band. Conor Brady plays bass as well as guitar on most of the album.

The Drays Paul Byrne; Stephen Ryan; Eileen Gogan; Conor Brady
(photo by ex-Stars of Heaven drummer Bernard Walsh!)
There's no attempt here to embrace anything other than Ryan's own heritage and as one of the finest songwriters to emerge from Ireland, and that simple guitar/bass/drums format harking back through the Byrds / Big Star / Replacements bloodline. With a small but exquisite body of work, why do otherwise? The quality of the songs here is an argument for longer breaks between albums. The sense of time passing hangs over this collection like a gently charged fog of years. There are songs that seem to catch life happened and happening, a sense that the people in them have changed, or are changing. Epiphanies, perhaps?

"Nothing changes then it changes a lot
Did you really think nothing would change?"

Tuesday 9 June 2015

The Unfortunates

The Unfortunates - B.S.Johnson
"How did I not realise when he said, Go and do City this week, that it was this city?                 Tony.    
      His cheeks sallowed and collapsed round the insinuated bones, the gums shrivelled, was it, or shrunken, his teeth now standing free of each other in the unnatural half yawn of his mouth, yes, the mouth that had been so full-fleshed, the whole face, too, now collapsed, derelict, the thick-framed glasses the only constant, the mouth held open in a controlled scream, but no sound, the head moving only slightly, the white dried and sticky saliva, the last secretions of those harassed glands, cauterised into deficiency, his mouth closing only when he took water from a glass by his bed, that double bed, in his parent's house, bungalow, water or lemon he had to take frequently, because of what the treatment had done to his saliva glands, how it had finished them.               Him"