The first ever concert I remember going to was a Hawkwind gig at the Liverpool Stadium in 1973. I was a very young 12 years old at the time and a pre-teen boy and alcohol do not mix that well so my memories of the day are somewhat stunted. I remember Dave Brock was wearing his skeleton suit and I so wanted one and Robert Calvert was the coolest man on the planet at the time. My memories of the day have sort of run into the live album “Space Ritual” which was also released that year. Space Ritual was also recorded at the Liverpool Stadium a year earlier during the Doremi Fasol Latido tour.
I was greatly saddened this week by the news of Lou Reed’s death. I have been a fan for a number of years, in fact right from the very first time I heard “Walk on The Wild Side”. I think that and Coney Island Baby used to be on Arthur Murphy’s playlist for the peaceful hour back in the day. I loved those songs and then a few years later went out and bought his “Live in Italy” album and that was it I was hooked. Simple songs played on two guitars, bass and drums as only Lou Reed could. The band he had at around that time of Fred Maher, Robert Quine and Fernando Saunders seemed to match exactly what Lou was doing. He sounded great with these guys because I think they were all pretty much on the same wavelength; the same way that Neil Young never sounds quite the same when he is not playing live with Crazy Horse. I think I must have worn that Live in Italy CD out, the number of times I played it.
Apparently Matt Walters is a young musician from Australia who no one seems to have heard about except me – and that puzzles me. The guy has immense talent, so just why no one else outside of Australia seems to have heard him or his music is a shame. His song “I Will Die For You” is haunting my very life and I can’t stop listening to it. People back in Australia have compared him to Bob Dylan and Neil Young but personally I don’t think he is like either of those guys. He is a singer who may well have been influenced by those two greats but he has come through the other side with his own style and sound. His sound is young and fresh and yet poignant.
Today is Hawkwind’s 44th birthday. I have been a fan of theirs since 1977 when I discovered Quark Strangeness and Charm and have been on a psychedelic space journey with the astral warriors ever since. When they are good they are the best although they often play gigs or release albums with band members who just aren’t up to the job. This is probably my favourite line-up of the band live in concert from around 1990 I think…
Leonard Cohen is an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While giving the speech at Cohen’s induction in 2008, Lou Reed described him as belonging to the “highest and most influential echelon of songwriters.” A very serious man it would seem.
Having suffered from depression during much of his life, Cohen has written much about depression and suicide. Themes of political and social justice also recur in Cohen’s work while war is also an enduring theme. A very depressing man it would seem.
Back in 1976, as a teenager, I used to lie in bed on Sunday nights and listen to Arthur Murphy on Radio City. I think it was between midnight and 1am he would present, as part of his show, what he called “the peaceful hour”. I would lie awake listening, dreading the start of another week in school that the morning would bring. He would play slow-tempo pop tunes and chat away with the most wonderful Irish accent that was just designed for bedtime listening. The word “mellow” would probably best describe this hour of his show.
Then one night he played a Gordon Lightfoot song called “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”.