heard on the wire

Trying to spread some hope into your heart


I recently set a personal record for the longest time between buying a record and getting round to listening to it. This particular record was purchased in a San Francisco record store in March 2008 and consigned to the bottom of a suitcase, before standing, forgotten, amid ranks of closely stacked vinyl.

Featuring an unlikely collaboration between Australian instrumentalists Dirty Three and US masters-of-slow Low, In the FishTank 7 was, as the name suggests, the seventh record in a series of Fishtank sessions recorded by Konkurrent, a Benelux record distributor. Add a Neil Young song to that mix and something lovely was bound to happen.

It only took me five years to find out.

Low and Dirty Three :: Down by the River

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If the early 80s was the golden age of popular music (believe me, kids, it was) then The Jam were as responsible as anyone, with a string of brilliant, chart-topping singles (yes, those really were the days). Absolute Beginners just missed the top spot, reaching number four in 1981, just as Funeral Pyre had four months before. The brassy intro and soul-tinged rhythms were the first indication of the direction in which Paul Weller’s songwriting would soon be heading and possibly proved a little to much for fans who still thought of the band as “punk” or “mod”, though they bore fruit a few months later when Town Called Malice stomped to number one. By contrast, Absolute Beginners’ flip side was a beautiful, downbeat riparian lament that, had it got the exposure it deserved, would certainly have corrected the blip in the band’s chart record.

The Jam :: Tales from the Riverbank

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Weller took the single’s title from his favourite book, Colin MacInnes’s 1959 novel of the same name. Weller’s post-Jam band, the Style Council, appeared on the soundtrack for the 1986 film of the book. That soundtrack was the sole redeeming feature of a movie that was otherwise lambasted by the critics and spurned by cinema goers.

That track, Rodrigo Bay, was recorded by Working Week. Three years earlier they had released one of the finest records of the year. And so it goes.

Working Week :: Venceremos

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Photo: April Sunset; some rights reserved.
Twitter: low

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