Thursday, 29 January 2009

Radio days: On the paths of the galaxy...

His voice was a more soft-spoken version of a Greek Christopher Lee. Deep and resonant, if a single malt whiskey could speak surely this would be what it would sound like. The show begun with the intro from "Also sprach Zarathustra" the pompous brass and drums preparing us for our mystical journey. For me, 13-14 years old and already heavily into scifi literature and "dinosaur" rock, this was heaven! I would be sitting at my desk late on Monday nights, often taping the show for posterity, learning about bands I'd never heard before (The Died Pretty for example) listening to amazing stories and excerpts by Edgar Allan Poe or William Blake, mixing UFOs and werewolves, young boys who aspired to become vampires...
At the time I would have been listening to the Alan Parsons Project "Tales of mystery and imagination" or "Pyramid". The show was called "Sta monopatia tou galaxia" and any of you who read greek and wish to find out more about it should go here:

Στα Μονοπάτια του Γαλαξία - Ένα χρονικό ραδιοφώνου - μέρος 1ο

and then here:

Στα Μονοπάτια του Γαλαξία - Ένα χρονικό ραδιοφώνου - μέρος 2ο

It is well worth reading. The greek radio program director who first heard the pilot, said to George, the producer: "you obviously know your radio, but there is no audience for this". George then went to another program where he got his slot, and from where he broadcast for years to come. after a month or so the first fan mail started arriving. The show became very popular. People used to get together to listen to him in company, like a party.

I fell in love with the radio then and there. Many years later, I would get my chance to do something similar... but more about that in the next "Radio Days" article...

For now I leave you with:


I believe they are linked as Alan Parsons was a sound engineer and worked with the Floyd at some time.


Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Poetic justice...

I suppose I was asking for trouble, when I mentioned, in my last post, something about the copious amounts of music I have downloaded. The hard disk crashed and I lost all of it.. Or almost all of it anyway! So it's back to the beginning. All I have left is an Aerosmith discography and disc 2 of Woodstock for some reason. Of course I still have my trusty CDs...

So I have been sort of reminiscing about the first music I heard. My first "akousmata" as they say here in Greece were "The Sound of Music" soundtrack, The Carpenters, Carole King, Tom jones and the Ray Conniff Orchestra!

Really once i mentioned him, i couldn't resist sticking that there...

So this was all when I was about 6-7 yrs old. Then one day my cousin brought home a tape, which should have been an epiphany, and was in a way, but still watered down a bit... you see one side was Pink Floyd. The other one was a disco mix including the likes of Lipps Inc "Funky Town" and other such stuff. I liked Pink floyd, and I liked the disco stuff and I listened to it over and over again...

Then when i was about 13 yrs old, I was being given lessons in German by the neighbours son, Tony. Except for German, he treated my youthful ears to the sounds of:

Grand Funk railroad
Black Sabbath
Beck, Bogart and Appice
Jimi Hendrix
Janis Joplin
The Doors
Deep Purple
and many, many others

among them one of my favorites at the time!!!

This is music that still makes my hair stand on end. It makes me waannna screeeeaaaaaam!!! Yeah....

That's all for tonight folks... it's a cold, wet night and there is a warm body waiting for me somewhere near...


Monday, 12 January 2009

music for free...

During my lifetime, music and the formats it comes in has changed many times and drastically. I confess, I remember seeing these massive white 8-track tapes in cars when I was a child. They had faded out apparently by the mid 70s but obviously took a bit longer to fade out in Greece, where I grew up. At the same time of course there was vinyl, in Album (33rpm) and single (45rpm) sizes. From these was formed the beginning of my record collection. There were a number of stores in Corfu, from where I used to buy records, or diskoi, as they were called in Greek. Diskoi is a word which also means tray. This has led to a number of misunderstandings with my children... Then there was also the trusty cassette. The music pirate's, first instrument of crime...
Nick Hornby has written much about the ritual of making a good compilation tape, and, whether it be intended for a friend or a prospective girlfriend, a lot of time and love went into these.I did my share of those too.
In the early 80s we started hearing about the new thing, the CD. This remained for some time out of mine and my friends reach, as we were teenagers and not rich. I didn't actually get a CD player until the early 90s! I still remember my first CD. It was "Little Creatures" by the Talking Heads.

my vinyl collection was soon stashed away, replaced by the much smaller and handier CDs. And then along came MP3. I did my bit and got an iPod, which I soon sold to a friend's son. There was just no way i could make those earphones stay in my ears!!

Being an intensive computer user, the mp3 format soon took over for me, as with many others, and the CDs now form an essential backup facility.

I am also one of those people who doesn't believe that musical "piracy" is such a bad thing. I could never have afforded to buy all the music I have. The funny thing is there is so much of it I will never listen to it all. But I do not believe, that I or other downloaders are cheating anyone out of their money.

As far as I am concerned musicians have been making far too much money as it is. I think they way it should be, is, artists should get paid from their live gigs, and the music sold on Cd should have a minimum charge, more like a promotional item. Maybe they could even give them away at concerts.

I am sure many will not agree with me, but this just my opinion.

Here though for your enjoyment is a band leading the way in music appreciation!

And it is not only musical artists that get paid too much. It is actors and footballers too!

Monday, 5 January 2009

The loneliest number...

In my experience there are two different ways I can "fall in love" with a song. Just like in real life relationships a song either "grows" on you, or you fall suddenly, madly "in love"...

This second has happened a handful of times over the years, and usually the result has been a long lasting intense "relationship". These are the songs that rock me to my soul, the songs that make me dream of being a singer, so that I can sing them...

Here are as many as I can remember off hand:

Hard to handle - The Black Crowes
Try a little tenderness - The Commitments
Have a little faith - The Bellrays
My boyfriend's back - The Spazzys
The Ship song - Nick Cave
Stairway to heaven - Dolly Parton
I got a Stomach ache - Buddy Guy
Let's work together - The Climax Blues Band
and many more...

To this list another has been added, just a few days ago. I heard it, of course in an advertisement. Thank god for the internet and lyrics searches! I discovered the song is by a band called Three Dog Night. I had never even heard of them... of course I discovered I actually did have a song by them, on the Forrest Gump soundtrack. It is not unusual for someone nowadays to have more music than he can keep track of, but to have never heard of Three Dog Night? Another quick search showed me that they have been around for 4 decades! Now I was really amazed... and they have written hits like "Mama told me not to come"!
I know I am certainly not the worlds most knowledgeable music fan, far from it actually, but i do enjoy a certain fame in my family circle of knowing about some pretty obscure musical facts...
Yet this band eluded me.
Anyway the song I am talking about, or rather RAVING about, is "One". It is the one that says" one is the loneliest number..."

Here they are in all their 1969 glory...

And I still cannot believe i had never heard of them...

Sunday, 4 January 2009

The Jazz Rock Club and my first obituary...

I'll start with the bad news and go from there. I just heard that Jimmy Mavronas passed away a few days ago.He was, according to my calculations, only 57. For those who didn't know him, Jimmy was a local DJ and musical figure. I first met him when he was DJ at the La Scala Club in Corfu town back in 1986. He resurfaced when he opened the Jazz Rock Club next to the Orfeas cinema. The Jazz rock club, quickly became a haven for live music in Corfu, even though it was quite small. For us who live here and were starved for some live music it was definitely THE place. Up until its opening, nothing much happened live music-wise except maybe for some concerts by local pub-rock band "The Busta-Waste Band". But we will get back to them another time.

The Jazz Rock club hosted, among others, Mode Plagal in 2002, Blue Bug in 2005 (I think...) Louisiana Red, Johnny Vavouras, Lakis me ta psila rever, and a host of local jazz and rock bands, including one of my old bands "The Savage Blues Band". A number of jam nights were held also. In this way Jimmy did a lot for the local live music scene. Unfortunately he also got himself in trouble with the law, and ended up doing a stint behind bars, which put an end to the Jazz Rock club era. When he was finally free again, he went back to DJing, both in bars and on radio, most notably last summer playing in the Tallio beach bar, on Chalikounas beach, where the kite surfers hang out.

I tried to find some video to go with this, and found a little something by the Blue Bug. They are a Greek blues band who I became very enthusiastic about after seeing them live at the Jazz Rock club. I even have an autographed cd by them... They re-visited Corfu, years later, again at the Jazz Rock, but this time didn't play so much blues as funk and disco. Nevertheless they remain a VERY good band, with a great vibe and a real feel for the music they play.

Here they are!

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Discover...Corfu's Memory lane!

One of the great things about music, is it can be as much a voyage of discovery as RE-discovery... As I listen to a compilation I recently made for a road trip, I rediscover how much I like the Smashing Pumpkins (on their cover of Thin Lizzy's "Dancing in the moonlight"), even though I wasn't really into them at the time. I re discover how Thin Lizzy can really get me going, listening to "Still in love with you". And savour Gary Moore's excellent fretwork on "Cold day in Hell"...

The full compilation runs something like this:
Walk on the wild Side Lou Reed
Dancing In The Moonlight The Smashing Pumpkins
Still In Love With You (Live) Thin Lizzy
Cold Day In Hell Gary Moore
Bird of paradise Snowy White
Don't fear the reaper the mutton birds
Rock Sugar Rob Grill
Cellophane City Steve Forbert
Walking On Sunshine Katrina & The Waves
Lust For Life(feat.Pretenders) Tom Jones
Everyday Is Like Sunday The Pretenders
Bigmouth Strikes Again The Smiths
All Along The Watchtower The Hamsters
Stone Free The Hamsters
Aquarius, Let The Sunshine In Fifth Dimension
California Dreamin' The Mamas & the Papas

ok a lot of you have by now realised I may be a bit of an old fart... from the kind of stuff I listen to... but hey, there are older farts than me around!

A lot of the songs in the list above, remind me of specific places or times in my life. I'd like to list a few for old times sake, hoping that some of you, especially friends of course, will be reminded of something too. And if you feel you would like to add something do not hesitate to comment!
Walk on the wild side: Petra Club in kontokali (the first one!) 1985
Rock Sugar; coca flash corfu somewhere round the end of the 80s!
Cellophane city: coca flash (The song that signaled closing time! Thank you Andreas for some of the best musical moments, and teaching us all about good music with your djing...)
Walking on Sunshine: Coca Club Pelekas 1987-88 or so!
Bigmouth Strikes Again: Ceasar's palace pelekas 1987-88? (bit hazy there I'm afraid...)Might have been the drugs...

Well it's kinda like closing time here too, now... but could I find Cellophane city on youtube? No....

So here are the Smashing Pumpkins and "Dancing in the Moonlight". They really do the song justice in a lovely, slow, laid back sort of way.

Good night...

Friday, 2 January 2009

Song Covers

Let's face it, practically every one who ever was in band has done a cover song. Even the Beatles did it!! And nowadays it seems as if everyone is doing it! You'd be forgiven to think that artists are running out of inspiration for new material.

But hey, doing a cover isn't such a bad thing... Because it can be very good!
My opinion is, a musician doing a cover should follow some very simple rules.
First learn the song well, respect it and don't just "busk" it.
Second if you don't intend to play it like it is, then you must either add to it in some sense, or play it in a different way.

In the 10 years or so I played in bands, the question of what covers and how to do them , was indeed one of the most difficult. After all, as they say opinions are like a**holes, everybody has one...

In part due to my involvement in playing them, cover songs are actually a favorite musical interest of mine. And I have an extensive collection. On the subject of respecting a song, I remember I used to think of certain songs as being "untouchable" cover wise. That no band should ever attempt them. I am not so sure about that anymore. One of the songs I would have considered "untouchable" would have been "Stairway to Heaven". The reasons being, who could hope to match that voice, who could hope to match that playing and well we are talking about the song which is arguably the best rock song ever!!!

And then Dolly Parton comes along and gives it the bluegrass treatment. Whenever I hear it my hair stands on end...! Because she has respected it and given it something of her own and then some!

Have a listen:

Dolly Rocks!!

Welcome to the Magical Musical Time Machine!

First of all my apologies to those friends who may have been expecting this blog to be in Greek, but together with my idea for separate music themed blog, I had to heed the call of my other mother tongue...

So here we are!

I intend this to be a blog about music and anything to do with it, reminiscences from my musical past, music news to do with Corfu, my musical friends, myself (if there is ever anything new on that musical front...haha!) and anything else interesting!

Music has always been a big thing in my life. I may have never become as much of a musical geek as say, the character in Nick Hornby's "High Fidelity" but I could have come close...

I suppose it must have all started when I was a kid, in the early seventies. Not a bad time to get into music, although I missed the sixties (was a baby...) was too young to appreciate the seventies and just a few years too young to get into the punk scene (and living in the wrong country...) So what does leave us with? The Eighties! yup, the decade that according to most of my older rocker friends was an absolute disaster music-wise...

But we will come to that in some other post. I can't really be sure what the first music I heard, was, but I suspect it was something along the lines of the Beatles and such. The first music I DO remember is from the Carpenters, Carole King and the soundtrack to the Sound of Music! In fact this last was played so often on our old wooden turntable ,that i can still remember the words and happily sing along to the film, prompting some people to wonder whether I am gay...

My favorite one was obviously this one...

That's all for today...