Pick of the Political Pops: Suzi Quattro “If You Can’t Give Me Love”

We have a strict hierarchical structure here at Americana-UK Towers (actually we don’t but this is for illustrative purposes). At the top sits The Editor – a surly cove if crossed and a great believer in “do as I say not as I do”. Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Suzi Quattro “If You Can’t Give Me Love””

Studio Life – Danny Schmidt

For many years, Danny Schmidt has been releasing critically-acclaimed albums, full of consistently exceptional songcraft and intelligent lyricism. The Texan singer-songwriter is known for his delicate, folk guitar, warm voice and poetic approach to his subjects. A genuine troubadour, Schmidt’s songs of wit and wisdom have a timeless quality. Although Schmidt usually performs solo, he’s also released music with his wife, Carrie Elkin, who is another acclaimed singer-songwriter. Schmidt’s considered approach to lyrical content and musical arrangements mean that he can tackle powerful subjects in subtle ways. His recent record, ‘Standard Deviation’, is his tenth recording and all his experience as a writer and performer has worked its way into this well-received album. In the middle of his American tour to promote the album, Americana-UK caught up with Schmidt to find out a little more about the title track. Continue reading “Studio Life – Danny Schmidt”

Pick of the Political Pops: Woody Guthrie “All You Fascists Bound To Lose”

Your regular correspondent has been on a sabbatical of late taking part in something called “The Real World” away from the delights and highlights of the Internet Universe. Trust – it’s a dreadful place. Don’t go there. Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Woody Guthrie “All You Fascists Bound To Lose””

Songs for the apocalypse: Chris Isaak “Graduation Day”

I remember graduating myself the year this record came out and while it wouldn’t have exactly been the most cheery song to play at a graduation (“Watching the stars fall, a million dreams have all gone bad” – Er…) it circle round my head all day, and then successively working in higher education, twice a year ever since. The low key arrangement is stunning.

Pick of the political pops: Steve Earle “John Walker’s Blues”

In a week where it seems like there’s almost nothing new under the sun to say about Brexit that hasn’t been said a million times over, in today’s Pops we cast our minds back to the turn of the century. Steve Earle caused considerable outrage by writing a sympathetic song for John Walker Lindh, the infamous lone American member of the Taliban. “Twisted ballad honours Tali-rat,” was the headline in the New York Post, while Steve Gill, a Rush Limbaugh-style radio host, said that the song put Earle “in the same category as Jane Fonda, John Walker and all those people who hate America”. Earle told The Guardian that “I became acutely aware that what happened to him could have happened to my son, and your son, and anybody’s son. Nobody in my country wanted to admit that. It’s one of the most American stories I’ve ever heard.”

Studio Life – Peter Donegan

Peter Donegan grew up with music. Surrounded by songs and the legacy of his father, Lonnie Donegan, music was always part of his life and it’s no surprise that he grew up playing guitar and piano and with a natural flair for singing. Lonnie Donegan transformed the British music industry when he led the skiffle revival in the 1950s, inspiring countless musicians who followed. Continue reading “Studio Life – Peter Donegan”

Pick of the Political Pops: The Pogues “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda”

‘And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ is a song written by Scottish-born Australian singer-songwriter Eric Bogle in 1971 which has since become a standard in Australian folk circles (William Crighton did an amazing version of it at this year’s Black Deer). The song follows the account of a young Australian serviceman who is maimed during the Gallipoli Campaign of the First World War. The protagonist, who had travelled across rural Australia before the war, is emotionally devastated by the loss of his legs in battle. As the years pass he notes the death of other veterans, while the younger generation becomes apathetic to the veterans and their cause. The Pogues’ version of this anti-war classic still is among the best.

Forgotten Artists – Steve Goodman

Every so often the world of roots music will deliver an outstanding talent – a Robert Johnson or a Bob Dylan – someone who really makes everyone sit up and take notice, someone you know will be a game-changer. And, every so often, there will be a talent who never quite gets the acknowledgement he/she deserves, someone who might have been a game-changer but who leaves us before the big spotlight can properly illuminate them. One such talent was Steven Benjamin Goodman, an American folk musician and songwriter from Chicago. Continue reading “Forgotten Artists – Steve Goodman”

Songs for the apocalypse: The Sadies “Northumberland West”

There was a time when Toronto quarter The Sadies used to tour the UK as regular as clockwork, which made them one of those bands you could see in venues that weren’t several train rides away, and also one of those bands I could take my dad to see as they occasionally did Motörhead covers. The track ‘Northumberland West’ was the opener to their stupendous ‘Favourite Colours’ album from around a decade ago (a title which reminded people they weren’t American) and arguably the finest Hank Marvin-esque instrumental in their back catalogue. If you’ve never seen the Sadies live you are missing out on one of the eight wonders of the world.