Taking Ridiculous Chances
Shop Around Ö part 46

Tearing myself away from the wonders of Pandoraís Box for a wee while, I was perusing the periodicals that profess to keep the flame burning for music in some of its myriad forms. Usually that alone is enough to send me heading for the hills. With, of course, the honourable exception of checking out what soul selections Lois Wilson is rightly recommending. This month, however, I was highly surprised to see, hidden among the thousandth exclusive Kate Bush interview, a wonderful article on Ambrose Campbell of the West African Rhythm Brothers, stars of the recent London Is The Place For Me 2 set. The article was put together by the great Val Wilmer; the journalist, photographer, and living legend who has made a very unique contribution to the worlds of jazz and blues.

Elsewhere in the monthlies the Nightingales seem to have gained great reviews for the salvaged In The Good Old Country Way set. One trouble is that the Mojo review starts with the absurd sentence: ďAlongside anti-Thatcherite bluesmen The Three Johns and The Membranesí freeform hubbub, the Nightingales made up one third of every self-respecting mid-80s UK fanzine editorís holy noise trinity.Ē Heaven help us! Itís no wonder I have no recollection of this record ever existing. And having at last listened to it, I would have been quite happy to remain oblivious. The Nightingales by that stage of their career provided plenty of reasons to seek oneís pleasures in more savoury quarters. I just end up thinking about real ale, and thatís not good.

But it does raise interesting questions about how some things register on the consciousness, and others completely pass us by. I may have mentioned before that I am lucky enough to have a local charity shop that seems to get loads of odd promos and review CDs. Theyíre not exactly cheap, but theyíre cheap enough to take a chance on every now and then. And I tend to take a chance on some things that I would never have ordinarily caught up with. Like, for instance, recent hauls have included records by Six Organs of Admittance, Sabrina Malheiros, Fursaxa, Terri Walker, Jim Noir and Edan.

All of these are great and rather varied reasons to aver that it ain't so bad being alive in '05. Some are better than others! Some drone on a bit, or are a bit patchy. Some like the bedroom baroque pop symphonies of Jim Noir and the daisy age delights of Edan are absolutely wonderful (and have a surprising amount of soft pop/psych tendencies in common), showing that it does pay to take a chance. And I only get to see whatís on offer there once in a while, whereas others get to rummage more often and hopefully take more ridiculous chances.
Talking of lucky breaks, this week I was lucky enough to receive a couple of packages from Sweden. One contained the latest in the series of Feber compilations. This was Andres Lokkoís Folk collection to complement his earlier essential Northern and Modern Soul set. And itís something special. Youíll have your views on folk. Perhaps like me youíll be appalled by the gibberish people like David Keenan churn out in The Wire about the new weird America and free folk. Perhaps like me youíll think Devendra Banhart and his mates are unintentionally hilarious. Perhaps like me you stumbled across a cache of old Brit folk a long long time ago and found LPs by C.O.B. and Mr Fox and Trees for next-to-nothing, and fell in love with the strange magic being produced in the UK in the late 60s/early 70s. Perhaps like me you were fortunate enough to be told that if you like Tracey Thorn youíll love the works of Bridget St John. Perhaps you were able to join the dots between the Raincoats and Fairport Convention. Perhaps youíve loved some of the things the Fence Collective were doing for the fun of it. Perhaps you just love beautiful music. Then if so, you need to find a way to get hold of this collection. It contains lots of moments of magic new to me (Gary Farrís 'Donít Know Why You Bother Child' has bowled me over), some of my all-time spiritual favourites (C.O.B.ís 'Spirit of Love' is reason enough to stay alive), and some brave decisions (itís easy to dismiss Lindisfarneís 'Meet Me On The Corner' as an overfamiliar afternoon delight on the radio, but itís glorious). Itís so beautiful I can see Iíll be kept busy copying it for everyone I love.

Andres is also one of the creative forces behind the This Is Our Music series, which is aired on Swedish national TV and MTV Nordic, and may even be caught in more places if you know your way around the digital networks better than I. Anyway, the shows that I have been lucky enough to see are wonderful, especially the one on Tenniscoats, and the Chicago one that features The Sea and Cake. The latest (third) series will I am sure become better known for its documentary on Dan Treacy and the Television Personalities. Itís perhaps the most unsettling and moving piece of film Iíve seen for a long, long time, and indeed an incredibly brave move for a fan of the TVPs to put together and put out. It just left me drained.

Iíve never been the worldís biggest TVPs fan, but I acknowledge that Dan has written some incredibly beautiful and moving songs, and itís just so sad that he (and too many other great talents) have this strange self-destructive side. Sometimes I just thank god or whatever that my only addiction is to the music these very special people and many others less gifted provide for us, or that we demand from them. And that maybe brings us full circle to the story of Lulu and Pandoraís Box.

© 2005 John Carney