Listening to Bobby Womack

It seems like a lot of time has passed since Saturday morning when I saw the news that Bobby Womack had died.

I remember the Sunday night of Glastonbury last year and he was there on BBC2 in his red leather and even watching through the prism of TV I found myself thinikng that this was the best thing that had been on all weekend

Apart from those parts of the weekend I spent drinking too much red wine we have been listening to his music. Most of it on vinyl. And those dozen or sides of black plastic have now distilled themselves down to one side of a greatest hits collection I picked up from somewhere I can’t now remember.

The side finishes with Harry Hippie which is the song that I wanted to listen to when I first heard the news.

It is a knockabout throwaway song but there is something inside it that could speak to a lot of us….

Everybody claims that they want the best things outta life
But not everyone, not everyone
Wanna got through the toils and strifes

Like this particular fella walks around
All day long singin’ this song
Sha na lah dah dah lah dah dah dah dah

It’s the sha na lah that does it.


A few words on Bobby Womack in Liverpool

A post from earlier this year that maybe worth re-reading

Sheep's Head Food Company

As some of you may know I will be 50 later this year. Sam Cooke died more than a half century ago, the year before I was born. Shortly before he died he recorded A Change Is Gonna Come. I am not sure if Bobby Womack played on the single but he talked about it last night.

It came about halfway through the concert and he had already done Harry Hippy and Across 100th Street. There was a slight worry that he was going to run through the hits and leave the stage after half an hour with the audience pleased that he had done some of the songs they had come for but still wanting more. But it went on for longer than that and the turning point was when he started to sing about Marvin Gaye and the band moved into one of those bits from What’s Going On

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Read the music press that is designed for men of a certain age (some of whom stroke their beards) there has been a lot of excitement this last few weeks on the first three Led Zeppelin albums being remastered and reupholstered and sent out into the world again.

I was tempted. I have all the albums in the attic and haven’t listened to them for years. Here would be a great opportunity to reinvest in them and this time round there would be a some sonic clarity to clear away the 1970’s murk.

But I resisted that temptation. Instead I bought myself a pre-amp for the record deck. I had been promising myself one of these for years.

I have known for a long time that the sound of the record deck needed some boosting but somewhere along the way I had stopped listening to records in the way that I had in the past. The ease of CDs had got the better of me.

So I got the pre-amp and I plugged it in and Galen and me did a test. The nearest test subject was Dexy’s Don’t Stand Me Down. So we started it on vinyl and then tried it on CD. Vinyl won hands down. It still wasn’t as loud but there was a physicality from the sound.

This evening I moved the testing on to Led Zeppelin and took an opportunity to try out Dazed & Confused  as loud as it would go (and I thought the neighbours would tolerate – not, of course, necessarily the same thing). Five minutes in I found myself with an air guitar in my hands, on my knees puling out Jimmy Page moves in a purple Japanese jump suit.

So all I need to now is try find a way to sort out my life so I can spend my days moving to and from a turntable turning over and changing records preferably eating good food as I do so.

We spent some time touching on that this afternoon with a long brunch with friends in the sun that finished about 6.00 in the evening. Very little cooking for me until I got home and put a beer can up a chicken’s backside to cook on the barbeque. I find that sort of thing relaxing.

Listening to Dexys – nailing a picture to a wall

A long time ago we lived just off Cowley Road in Oxford about four minutes walk from a pub called The Bullingdon Arms.

The pub, or a version of it, is still there but it is no longer the place it used to be.

Twenty years ago it was run by Joe Ryan who made sure that each pint was served with a shamrock shaped into its creamy top, there were no cushions on the stools, fluid opening hours, a music system that only played old Irish Rebel songs and a Jack Russell called Misty. There was a yard at the back the roof of which was made out of pieces of corrugated plastic sheeting and a small back bar where I watched Germany beat England on penalties in Italy in 1990.

I was reminded of all this this evening listening to the first Dexys Midnight Runners album and the first song in which Kevin Rowland runs through a list of his favourite Irish writers; Oscar Wilde, Brendan Behan, Sean O’Casey, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, Eugene O’Neill, Edna O’Brien andLawrence Stern. One of the walls in the back room of The Bullingdon had a black and white picture of them all.

Joe Ryan had to give up the pub when the brewery tried to tidy the place up and when they couldn’t do that just put the rent up so he couldn’t afford to keep it on. It was a good local.

I was listening to Dexys as I have been trying out some improvements I have been trying to make to the playing of records in the house.They seem to be working. I tried Galen out playing a record and then the same music on CD. He came out in favour of the record. It had a more natural sound. Good lad!

There were only two kids to feed this evening so I gave them chicken and chips. I fed myself a bulgar wheat salad and lamb meatballs made with dried barberries taking more or less based on a recipe from  Sabrina Ghayour’s Persiana.

Still listening to Dexys now late in the evening. On vinyl. But feeling a bit of a fraud not having bought the records first time round. They still get me though.

The man is a fuckin’ genius. They should have nailed his picture to the wall in The Bullingdon.