Autumn & Winter Songs

Side A: Home For Christmas (Martin Colyer)
Inspired by the Iraq War this was written in 2008 and re-recorded a bunch of times. This version features David V. Miles on hyper-walking bass, and Martin on guitars and vocals.

Side B: The Summer Blues (Martin Colyer/Mark Pringle) The appalling rain this summer led to everyone having The Summer Blues. It features Mark on electrical guitar and Martin on bass and vocals.

Return To Poisonville!

My God! We Won An Award!

The Parliamentary Jazz Awards, 2011, held on the St. Stephen’s Terrace at the House of Commons.

Over 100 jazz-loving members of the Houses of Parliament who are members of the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group vote in nine categories.

Goin’Home: The Uncompromising Life and Music of Ken Colyer won in the Best Jazz Publication category.

Mike, Martin, Ray, Cleveland Watkiss (who presented the award as Lord Prescott didn’t show) and Paul Gambaccini.

Managed to sneak Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter into the proceedings…

Bob Dylan at Seventy

Lovely piece by Mick Brown in the Telegraph this weekend, and happy to see that the Dylan compilation I made all those years ago gets a mention…

“I first encountered the song through a CD burned by a friend, a collection of “almost and never released” tracks – the bootleg of all bootlegs, if you will – a beautifully designed and packaged artefact, with photographs and meticulously researched sleeve-notes that would put most professionally produced CDs to shame; in short, a labour of obsessive devotion. It occurs to me that only Dylan fans do this. Not only is he the most bootlegged artist in the history of popular music, as demonstrated by the academic conference at Bristol University that marks his 70th birthday on May 24, he is also the most avidly discussed, the most rigorously scrutinised, the most fervently admired. Everybody has their own version of Bob Dylan, and everybody thinks they know him better than anybody else.”

I love this quote… ““I don’t feel obliged to keep up with the times, I’m not going to be here that long anyway. So I keep up with these times, then I gotta keep up with the Nineties… Jesus, who’s got the time to keep up with the times?”

Mick and I had breakfast a couple of weeks ago and talked at length about I Was Young When I Left Home, bootlegs in general, football, eco-cities in the desert and Peter Fonda’s The Hired Hand. Mick’s breadth of interests cannot be contained by a mere breakfast.


Driving through California seeing signs saying Cyn and wondering, until realising that of course they meant canyon… and before arriving, listening to a lot of surf music that I’d found, all echoes and twang, and great song titles like Midnight On Pier 13… and feeling like recording lonesome atmospheres with reverbs and delays and howling and guitars that are turned up to eleven…

All works in progress. Too much/too little bass generally….

Canyon One: Midday, Muir Woods
For Sandy Cate & Bob Gumpert, San Francisco. Oscars, Bob’s Random Tours Inc, Sandy’s beach picnic…


Canyon Two: Coyote, Zelzah Station
For Nickie & Doug Mielke, Northridge. Reunion!


Canyon Three: Thrill Ride, Santa Monica Pier
For Bruce Johnson, bass maker extraordinaire of Burbank, and Freddy Koella, from Alsace to Santa Monica via New Orleans, guitar maestro.


Canyon One is based on an old recording I did of Always & Forever, although it now sounds to me more like In The Still Of The Night (except with added theramin). Canyon Two is named for the original town that was at Northridge, CA, above LA. Coyotes, synth bass and live guitar. Canyon Three is so named as Bruce is an engineer and worked on theme parks before devoting himself to building by hand (every piece, literally) Ampeg Scroll Basses. Freddy lives in Santa Monica, has a wonderful new CD, Undone, just out and is currently working with the first lady of France. The track is loops with live unedited bass and guitar on top.

I Started A Joke

Watching The Fighter I was really touched by the scene where Melissa Leo, mother of Mickey and Dickie, goes in search of the errant elder son, played brilliantly by Christian Bale, at a local crack house. When she finally rounds him up and puts him in her car, he breaks into the Bee Gees I Started A Joke. His attempt to sweet-talk her by crooning (I’m guessing) her favourite song is really moving, especially as Bale sings it so well. Inspired by Gavin Bryers’ beautiful Jesus’ Blood Never Saved Me Yet and by Robbie Robertson’s layering of Dinah Washington’s This Bitter Earth with On the Nature of Daylight by Max Richter on the soundtrack to Shutter Island*, I worked with the two verses that Bale sings before Melissa Leo joins in, slightly off key. Oh, and I’ve made a fairly lame video for it from stills, and it’ll be on YouTube soon. Of course, a cease-and-desist order may be in the wings—there’s no clearance to do this! I remember Richie Havens’ version from his rather lovely Stonehenge album, with some stirring vibraphone playing… and for another stunning piece of acting, and a great, great film, see Melissa Leo in Frozen River.  *Not forgetting Moby’s stirling work in this area, nor Black Box’s seminal Ride On Time. Really. Who can forget that?


Watch it here


Sketches For An American Songbook

A rough layout for the Southwestern Recorders website, posted here for the time being. Some weird recordings by me, some great award-winning images by John Cuneo. Mr Bojangles has been selected by the Society Of Illustrators for their next show, and three images are in the next Communication Arts Illustration Annual. So a round of applause for mr.c.  The opening illustration was not part of the series—it’s a sketchbook drawing of John’s—but it seemed so appropriate to the whole venture… By the way, John lives in Robbie Robertson’s old studio. When I first contacted John to ask him to do some drawings for the magazine I work on, our email conversations were almost entirely composed of Band-related song titles. John is off drawing the Masters golf tournament for Golf Digest, an amazingly prestigious gig. He will do a wonderful plaid-on-plaid job… Hope you find something you like, either visual or aural, in what follows. Best, mc.

Credits: Lovely mobile bass by Alan Nonweiler, loop drums, rest of basses and all vibes by me. Fine illustration, John C.

Credits: Loop drums, rest me, incuding undersea guitars and Martin travel guitar. Done for a Robbie Fulks “Diva Songs” competition. Which I entered too late. I was stunned to find that Robbie had never heard the original—I had assumed that you had to see Titanic by law in 1997. Love that shark fin/ship thing going on there.

Credits: Melodic bass by Mark Pringle, drum loop by Michael Blair, rest me, including fractured Wurlitzer. Wonderful umbrella.

Credits: All me, I’m afraid, in thrall to a distant Duane Eddy and a slapback rockabilly chorus. A moose? A deer? Who knows.

Credits: feedback and thunder loops, buzzy guitar, toy glockenspeil and vocal, me. Wonderful art again by John. Hey, thanks, John.

Dedicated to Bill and Bette.

[Bette and me, a photo of Ella & Louis, 1957. I was taught well. Photo by Bill]