Since I started writing this at work there are no actual CDs in play, but it is what I have going through my head and what I was listening to before work. I picked up Kevin Ayers' Whatevershebringswesing and the Groundhogs' disc about the same time. I heard Groundhogs on a Mojo compilation called Trash - most of it really was. The only songs that really grabbed me were "Motorhead" by Hawkwind, (Lemmy's band before he was expelled and went on to found Mötorhead the band) "Mushroom" by Can (which I have anyway) and "Cherry Red" by Groundhogs.
While I don't know the status as music icons in their native UK, Groundhogs have to be one of the most unsung bands of the 60's and early 70's rock in North America. Admittedly, I may have dodged them altoghter had it not been for their spot on the Mojo compilation - the term blues-rock band has a way sending me looking for solid cover and a phenominally good set of ear plugs. But, dammit, they were a pretty good band I must say. When tastes started to change and blues-rock was falling out of favour, Groundhogs shifted gears and got inventive. Songs like "Split, Part One", "Strange Town" and "You Had a Lesson" are progressive without being pompous, pretentious or "art school".
Having been a teenager with a guitar in the 1980's I have come to hate the whole notion of the "guitar hero". Sure, in the 80's I loved listening to guys like Eddie Van Halen, Alex Lifeson, Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck play, but then I discovered Sonic Youth, The Pixies, Fishbone, Tom Waits, PJ Harvey or even the Orb. Why I loved the whole vibe of the early 90's was that it was the death of the guitar hero, it was about the music and expression rather than someone wanking away for the sake of ego. Having said that, I haven't heard a guitarist that has engaged me in that guitar hero sort of way the way Goundhog's Tony McPhee.
Lots of guitarists stand out in the more up to date music I listen to: Jeff Tweedy and Nels Cline from Wilco stand out right at the moment. However, McPhee has the pure rock power sound that I just don't think many people are capable of getting these days. Again, he's inventive and is far from a stock in trade 70's rock guitarist. Peple used to go on about Clapton's playing, but he sounds like a hack by comparison. That McPhee hadn't become a darling of the guitar magazines and that "Cherry Red" hadn't become a classic rock radio standard is a mystery that I will never find a satisfactory answer for. But then if he/it had then I probably wouldn't be singing Groundhogs' praises on this day.
Ayers I have written on before, but now I have an actual album by him as opposed to a best of package. Ayers had been in the earliest incarnation of The Soft Machine, peers with Pink Floyd in the London underground scene and the UFO Club. That I hadn't had the wherewithall to jump into early Soft Machine (and bands like Can) when I was in my early twenties is a loss to me.
It had been said that Ayers' album are inconsistent affairs due to his relaxed attitude to recording. He's serious about his music, but I don't think he was too too serious about his career of making it. Ayers, in a way, reminds me of a friend of mine, Ken. (known to many as Zeke, and not the Zeke with a record contract) Ken is very serious about music but he's just not overly concerned about it. Both men are very creative, have a vision and the ability to just let things happen and fall where they may. (Ken, no doubt, would probably disagree with me)
Interestingly, EMI has released Whatevershebringswesing as a copy protected album, one that can't be ripped and copied on a computer. I think the record companies are cutting themselves out of potential money this way. In the 80's we made and traded mixed tapes all the time, that usually resulted in us going out and buying the actual album. Denying people the opportunity to copy and trade music just results in some interesting music being heard less often. It is worth going back to stuff like this too. Sure it is old and happened way back when 0 but it doesn't make it worthless. Sometimes going back is just another means of finding your way forward.
I finished Rankin's fifth Rebus novel, The Black Book, and jumped back to the third Rebus novel called Tooth and Nail. That novel is just about done and I have his fourth Rebus novel waiting in the wings, Strip Jack. (Still unable to track down the second novel, Hide and Seek) Obviously the books have grabbed me. Much of that would have to do with my ability to identify with aspects of the character of DI John Rebus - that, however is for another post when I have my copy of Knots and Crosses handy to pull quotes from.
Television (BSG Spoilers)
Just watched BSG today. After four episodes I would say that the show is definitly back to form. Whole new plot twists and turns have been opened up and I am interested to see where they go with them. I had been wondering when they were going to destroy the Pegasus, and they did it in a way similar to the original series. A woman I know had contact with someone who worked on the set last season and he had stated that they were going to kill off Gaeta. Didn't happen last season, but given the preview of next weeks episode I think it could happen very soon.
At one point I had declared certain sympathies for the Cylons: that would no longer be the case.
I have no idea who's watching Intelligence, the new drama from Chris Haddock, (creator of Da Vinci's Inquest) but it has me hooked so far. My Dad has been watching but has not been able to get too into so far. A lot of what we are watching is just set up for the series, but maybe what people like my Dad are missing is the charisma of a Nicholas Campbell or a Donnelly Rhodes.