Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #12

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

The Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 30th June 2017

A warm welcome back to Bring Your Own Vinyl Night, at the Queens Head pub in Mold, North Wales.  It’s been a while since the last event, so I had plenty of ideas for what to play.  Events would alter those plans somewhat, however…

To recap, Bring Your Own Vinyl Night is exactly what it says on the tin: you bring along some records, and get a fifteen minutes slot to play whatever you like.

I’d originally planned an entirely different set list, but following the tragic news of Chris Cornell’s passing, I developed a tribute set instead.  As one of my favourite ever musicians, it wouldn’t have been right not to.

My set went as follows:

Temple of the Dog – Hunger Strike

Mother Love Bone were primed to be next big thing in rock; sadly the death of their singer Andrew Wood from a heroin overdose put an end to that.  The Temple of the Dog album came about as a tribute to Wood, from his band mates Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, and his friend Chris Cornell.  Joining them were Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron and guitarist Mike McCready.  The music showcased a different aspect of Cornell’s writing, and provided a heartfelt tribute.  On this song, vocalist Eddie Vedder makes his debut, sharing the vocal spot with Cornell on a superb performance.  Of course, many of those names would go on to form Pearl Jam.  This album has tons of memories for me and features some amazing music, Hunger Strike being a highlight.

Soundgarden – The Day I Tried To Live

I was a huge Soundgarden fan; trying to select just a couple of songs was immensely difficult.  I chose this song as it showcases Chris’ amazing voice to great effect, plus the composition is superb: the song builds brilliantly to the massive chorus.  The effect is a song that sounds exactly like carpe diem gone wrong, thwarted by a frustration that is captured brilliantly in the vocal.  Taken from the completely essential “Superunknown” album, which is crammed full of absolute gold.  A record I played non-stop in my younger days, and still return to regularly.

Soundgarden – Burden In My Hand

“Down on the Upside” was the follow up to “Superunknown”, though to me it never reached the heights of it’s predecessor.  This song was one of the best on that set, written by Cornell and again featuring that incredible voice.  A fairly jaunty number to, so I wasn’t ending on too much of a downer.  I’ve re-visited “Down on the Upside” recently and it’s far better than I remembered it.  However making this selection was very difficult, as it meant nothing from the wonderful “Badmotorfinger” record would get a look in. 

So there you have it, my tribute set to the late, great Chris Cornell.  A fantastic musician, singer and song writer – and someone who has written music that has been a massive part of my life, through the ups and the downs.

A great night with some awesome sets, including from my buddies Adam and Graham.  Not to mention Kev playing a lethal track by Electric Wizard, which I didn’t expect!  Here’s hoping there will be another Bring Your Own Vinyl Night soon.

The Halcyon Dreams blogspot is here.

The Halcyon Dreams mixcloud page is here.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is here.

The VOD music website is here.

R.I.P. Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell

20.07.1964 – 18.05.2017

Writing this memorial piece is a hard thing to do.  I was a massive fan of Chris Cornell and had been for many, many years.  I was left stunned, then in disbelief, and finally great sorrow when I stumbled on news of his death early that morning.

I had discovered Soundgarden with their “Louder Than Love” album back around 1990.  Music back then was shifting; I’d been listening to what would become “alternative rock” for some time and Soundgarden fitted right in with my tastes.  Along with other bands of the time like Jane’s Addiction and Mudhoney, I liked these bands that were able to meld classic heavy rock with a punk approach.  Bands like Soundgarden threw influences across the musical landscape into one pot.

When “Badmotorfinger” was released, I became a full on Soundgarden devotee.  The band soundtracked the ups and downs of my student life, the good times and bad.  The excellent “Superunknown” album cemented this noise in my affections even further.

Their sound evolved as Soundgarden explored and developed.  The riffs could still be inhumanly heavy, but there other sounds filtering through – from the whimsical to the psychedelic.  Listening to those albums was an experience that took the listener on a journey through different sounds and textures, feelings and emotions.

And of course, there was that amazing voice.  Chris Cornell could croon soothingly or wail like a tormented banshee – an awe inspiring ability that added yet more colour to the band’s sound.

Following Soundgarden’s split, I followed Chris’s musical journey through his solo endeavours and work with Audioslave.  I also loved his Bond theme – “You Know My Name” from Casino Royale.  I’ve played that many times to psyche myself up before a challenging situation, I can tell you.

I’ve tried to edit these recollections down, but revisiting some of the touch points in my life – where the music of Chris Cornell (and band mates) has been integral – goes some way to understanding the respect I have for the man and his legacy.

Sadly, now he’s gone.  I never saw Chris Cornell live (I went to Reading festival in 1994 but Soundgarden pulled out at the last minute) and I’d been looking forward to more music in the future.

It’s heart breaking to know that Chris is gone, and there’s no more music.  We’ve reached the end of that journey.  But what a legacy he’s left.  I’ll revisit those records again and again.  Though full of reminiscences of my past, those songs and performances are immortal.

I won’t speculate on the nature of Chris’s death, it’s not my place.  There are dark places that the human soul can go to.  It’s just incredibly sad.

Thanks for the music, Chris Cornell.  An exceptional musician who has left an indelible mark on millions of us.

“Heaven send
Hell away
No one sings
Like you anymore”

Songs of the Week 04.09.2016

How’ve you been?  Well I hope.  Here are five more songs heard in the last seven days that I particularly enjoyed.

  1. The Stooges – 1970
  2. The Who – The Seeker
  3. Mudhoney – Sweet Young Thing Ain’t Sweet No More
  4. ABBA – Money, Money, Money
  5. Metallica – Orion

I love ABBA, but that song earned it’s place in this weeks top 5 after my daughter sang it all week.  Good choice!

Songs of the Week 31.07.2016

Dozens of songs listened to, here are five that stood out:

  1. AC/DC – Highway to Hell
  2. Melvins – I Want to Tell You
  3. The Beatles – I Want to Tell You
  4. Jimi Hendrix Experience – The Wind Cries Mary
  5. Beach Boys – Feel Flows

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #7

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 26th February 2016

Welcome back to the Queen’s Head in Mold, North Wales!  Get yourself a pint and make yourself comfortable, ‘cos you know what time it is.  That’s right, it’s Bring Your Own Vinyl Night again!

Remember the rules: there’s a fifteen minute slot for each person; play whatever you like, so long as it’s vinyl.

Only Greeny and myself made it this time – Adam and Ben the Swede were both unavailable.  No theme for my set this time, just a few songs I really had a yearning to play…

Ennio Morricone – The Ecstasy of Gold

This song is of course from the soundtrack for the classic Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.  My version came from an album called “This is Ennio Morricone”.  You don’t need me to tell you how great that film is.  And Morricone’s soundtrack is stylish and ground breaking.  In particular, this track (which plays while Eli Wallach’s character runs frenziedly through a Civil War graveyard) is sheer class.  It builds magnificently and captivates the listener.  A bit over the top, I admit, as the first song in my set – but never let it be said that Platinum Al doesn’t do drama.

Ramones – Surfin’ Bird

If I was going to recommend a Ramones album for a novice to start their education of NYC’s finest, I’d go for “Rocket to Russia”.  I thought that this frenetic cover of the Trashmen’s surf rock gem would be a suitable place to go, after the majesty of the last track.  I love the Ramones and this song was a ton of fun to play.

Soundgarden – Fresh Tendrils

This song, from the simply fantastic “Superunknown” album, is probably my favourite Soundgarden song ever.  And I’m a bit of a Soundgarden nerd – I’ve collected tons of their stuff.  Rather than play a more obvious, well known song, I decided to go with my top tune.  “Fresh Tendrils” has an epic, classic rock sound that I love.  No idea what Chris is singing about, however.  The version I played was from the “Spoonman” 12″ single (on clear vinyl!).

Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues

Originally I was going to play a Stooges song, but then I remembered that 26th February was Johnny Cash’s birthday.  So I decided to play a song by the Man in Black.  “Folsom Prison Blues” is a legendary track, one of Cash’s best.  And I’ve already stated how big a hero this guy was to me.  The album this came from – “Original Golden Hits Volume 1” – was my Gran’s.  After she passed away, it was given to me.  I’d heard a lot from bands I was into how Cash was an inspiration, so I checked the record out.  I loved it, and my Johnny Cash fandom was born.  The first Cash record I heard, but not the last!

That’s my list for the night.  There were may great songs played through out the evening, though.  Budgie!  Hawkwind!  Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy!  Anthrax!  Check the link below for the complete list.

Wax is back – get spinning those tracks!  Thanks for a great night!

I’d also like to thank my old mate Graham, who turned up with a couple of Suicidal Tendencies records for me.  You see, I’d sold these two exact albums to Graham some twenty years ago, when I was a broke student.  Although I could’ve tracked the records down on eBay, I decided to message Graham and see if he’d sell them back to me (if he still had them).  The reason being that one album, the awesome “Join the Army”, had been given to me when I was 15 by my friend Kelvin Bedford, who I used to skateboard with every day.  Sadly, Kel passed away a couple of years ago.  So it was cool to get that actual copy back in my record collection, as a nice memory.  It even had the same plastic protective sheet over the album – and the selotape strip I patched up the inner sleeve with many, many years ago!  Graham gave me both records for free – so I bought him a pint or two.  Thank you!

The Halcyon Dreams blogspot is here.

The Halcyon Dreams mixcloud page is here.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is here.

Melvins – Gig Review

Melvins + Big Business

Friday 9th October 2015

Gorilla, Manchester

I had been waiting for this for a long time.  As a long time fan of the Melvins, it seems inexplicable that I’ve never seen them live before.  But then I rarely travel to Manchester for gigs.  2015 has been the year of live music for Platinum Al; as such the planets aligned, the tickets were bought, the wheels were rolling towards the big city and it was on.  Finally, I would witness the wonder of the Melvins.

And not just the Melvins – the support slot went to Big Business, a two piece of bass and drums in a similar mould to the mighty headliners.  Of course, anyone who knows their Black Flag from their Black Sabbath will tell you that Jared and Coady of this band also perform with Buzz and Dale to create the steaming sonic soup with lumpy riff croutons that is the Melvins. Melvins

The Big Business set was extremely impressive in it’s own right.  As I said, the band is just bass and drums, yet the almighty noise they make is astounding for a two piece.  They play a solid set that could’ve been a main course of the evening’s entertainment.  Big grooves, pounding drums and awesome sound scapes create a fine appetiser.

Gorilla in Manchester is some sort of restaurant/bar thing, with a stage at the back for live shows.  It’s seems more in scale with stand up comedy gigs, but despite the modest size it’s a great place to see the band – close up, good views and sound.  The beer is a bit expensive, but I got a Melvins (official!) t-shirt for a tenner!  Yeah!!!

So anyway, the Melvins arrive on stage as a four piece – Buzz, Dale, Jared and Coady – and we’re off.  It’s a gig unlike any I’ve experienced ever before.  There’s no breaks; no chat with the audience; no introducing the songs – the band just plough through their catalogue of fantastic songs and drag the audience along with them.  The audience follow willingly, of course – and the band don’t ignore us – it’s a unique unspoken agreement that we’re all along for a hell of a musical journey.

The music is heavy, sludgy, intense – exactly what I expected and wanted.  There are several songs from newer albums (“The Water Glass”, “Evil New War God” – both superb).  Older classics like “Sweet Willy Rollbar” and “It’s Shoved” are given a welcome play too.  The absolute high light for me though is “Civilised Worm” – what a riff!

The power of the riff is what the Melvins are all about.  Buzz’s guitar is astoundingly heavy, yet also shines with artistic flourishes and strange sounds to keep the listener guessing.  The bass is relentless yet groovy, hammering home the riffs.  Add dual drummers and ears were ringing for days.

It was a truly intense live experience and one I’m really glad I saw.  Unlike anything else and worthy of the hype, the Melvins are a unique band and I love them.

Did I mention I got a t-shirt for a tenner??!!

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #3

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 21st August 2015

And we’re back spinning wax in the Queen’s Head pub in Mold.  The crew and I made the trip, armed with stacks of vinyl, for our fifteen minutes of fame playing records.  The premise is simple:

  • Two turntables and all the equipment to spin your discs, plus PA
  • A 15 minute slot to play whatever you like, so long as it’s vinyl

Plus there’s a bar for drinkies, which helps if you need a bit of dutch courage to get up and get your DJ on.

The crew and I – Adam, Greeny and Ben the Swede – made sure we got there early this time.  Good job we did, as the throng of vinyl faithful had grown and the list of would be DJs was growing.  Nice to see this event gaining popularity – the cult of vinyl grows ever stronger.

Here’s my set:

Killing Joke – Pandemonium

The title track from Killing Joke’s classic 1994 disc of the same name, this tune boasts a devastating bass and rhythmic rumble.  “Pandemonium” erupted from the speakers and announced the start of my set in crushing style!

The Stooges – I Wanna Be Your Dog

This slice of messed up Detroit proto punk is a Stooges classic.  Ron Ashetons wah-wah guitar and Iggy’s snarl show just how great this band were.  I first investigated the Stooges as other bands I was a fan off (Sex Pistols, The Damned) had covered their songs – so I picked up this compilation to learn more.  I was instantly smitten by this dirty racket and never looked back.

Descendents – Clean Sheets

I first heard the Descendents on an old Vision skateboarding video, soundtracking a fantastic Gonz section.  This was the late 80’s, and with no Soundhound I had to work out from the credits what I thought the song was.  I figured it was “Coolidge” by the Descendents.  A while later I found some Descendents albums in a Manchester record store, and took a punt on the “All” album as it contained the aforementioned track.  Luckily, I was right.  For this occassion though, I decided to play another piece of US pop punk genius from the same album, “Clean Sheets”.

Temple of the Dog – All Night Thing

To finish off the set, I brought the pace down with a mellow number from this Seatlle grunge super group.  Featuring members of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, this LP really takes me back to the early 90’s.  A must have for any fan of alt rock from the period, you can read up online how this recording came to be.  Chris Cornell’s vocals are sublime here, showing to great effect how he would become the best vocalist of his generation.

Greeny hadn’t organised any vinyl (again), so it was Adam up next with another varied and entertaining set.  His was unfortunately cut short, due to the number of people who’d turned up necessitating a reduction in playing time.

  • Natalie Prass – Violently
  • David Bowie – Absolute Beginners
  • Otis Redding – (Sittin’ On) The Dock of theBay

I have to say, I’d forgotten how good that Bowie tune was.

Finally Ben the Swede took to the decks and span his tunes, with a “guess the odd one out” theme.  He played:

  • Jimi Hendrix Experience – Wait Till Tomorrow
  • Fleetwood Mac – Isn’t It Midnight
  • AC/DC – Girls Got Rhythm

I believe the last song Ben intended to play was A rainbow song, with Ronnie James Dio on vocals.  Can you guess the odd one out?  Answer below…

So another superb night of music at the Queen’s Head.  We heard some great music, made some new friends and went away to scout for more quality tunes.  Here’s to next time!

The Halcyon Dreams blog is here, where you can find listed (very helpfully) all the songs played on the night.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is here.

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #2

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 29th May 2015

OK, you know the drill – it’s Bring Your Own Vinyl Night at the Queen’s Head pub in Mold.  It’s the same great deal as last time – everyone gets a fifteen minute slot to play whatever they want, as long as it’s vinyl.  Old or new, obvious or strange – any genre you like, bring along those wax platters and give them a spin.

As previous, it was a welcoming atmosphere in the pub, and it was great to hear the music played.  There’s always some old favourites, as well as a few that make you scratch your head, then go away determined to explore that sound more.

We missed the last Vinyl Night, the gang and me, but this time we came fully stocked and prepared.  So after a few beers, here’s what my set-list looked like:

Nirvana – Do You Love Me

This is a cover by the Seattle Grunge mega lords of a KISS tune, found on the Hard to Believe tribute album.  This record featured several then-underground, independent punk rock groups covering KISS songs.  Also on this disc you’ll hear such bands as the Melvins, All and the Hard-Ons (I love ’em all) – but it’s Kurt Cobain’s crew that are the novelty factor here.  Pre-dating Nevermind, this isn’t the best Nirvana song (not by a long way) but it’s kinda cool to hear them cover some classic glam rock.  I picked this up fairly recently at a Manchester jumble sale; I played it ‘cos it’s rare (apparently) and unexpected (very).

Butthole Surfers – The Wooden Song

No, I didn’t play this song because of the shock/comedy nature of the band’s name.  I played because the album Independent Worm Saloon, which birthed this tune, is a work of under-appreciated genius.  The album roams from full-on punk noise; to psychedelic eruptions; to folky, melodious charm.  The Wooden Song   fits in the last category, with a nice added dose of weird.

Jimi Hendrix Experience – The Stars That Play with Laughing Sam’s Dice

Taken from the Smash Hits album which I picked up on reissue around 1990.  This song was always a favourite, I chose to play it as it’s a different (and better) mix than the one found on the South Saturn Delta CD.  I love how the song’s funky little riff rolls on, as Jimi’s voice and a wall of guitar noise threaten to throw the whole thing overboard.  Beautiful chaos.

Black Sabbath – Planet Caravan

This is one of my late at night, chill-out jams.  You can find this track on Paranoid.  I chose it to showcase just how great Black Sabbath were, the variety and depth of composition going far beyond what the trendy elite give them credit for.  A mellow jazz trip into outer space, this song elegantly portrays the grandeur of the mighty Sabbath.  ALL HAIL SABBATH.

So that was it from me.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself, hope others liked it too.  I was more confident this time with the turntables and felt that the whole experience was a step up from my previous effort.

Next up was Adam, with some gems from his ever expanding vinyl collection.  It was Adam’s first tenure on the decks, he mastered it like a pro:

  • Guns’n’Roses – Bad Obsession
  • Prodigy – Poison
  • Beach Boys – God Only Knows

The final member of our crew was Ben the Swede, who travelled from far off Chester with his lady Janice to play some vinyl.  Ben went for a Ritchie Blackmore theme with his choices, and damn fine they were:

  • Rainbow – Jealous Lover
  • Glen Hughes and Chad Smith – Maybe I’m a Leo
  • Deep Purple – You Can’t Do It Right By The One You Love

Thank you and good night – till the next Bring Your Own Vinyl Night!

The Halcyon Dreams blog is here, where you can find listed (very helpfully) all the songs played on the night.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is herevinyl3

Essential Tracks – Nirvana

“Essential Tracks” is a new Music section at the Virtual Hot Tub.  In this ongoing series, I’ll be picking my favourite tracks from a particular artist.  Here’s the very first instalment.

Nirvana – the Top 20 Songs

Sadly, 5th April marks twenty years since the death of Kurt Cobain.  It seems somewhat unreal that so much time has passed.  I remember buying Nevermind as soon as it came out in 1991.  I remember hearing about Kurt’s death when it was announced.  Such a great artist and unique, complex music.  This is a list of my favourite Nirvana songs.

20. Come As You Are

A great song, over familiarity has probably knocked this track down the table.  Find it on Nevermind.  As a point of interest, my old band used to cover this.  We performed it live on the second anniversary of Kurt’s death; it received a warm response.  At that point (in the pre-internet) we hadn’t realised the significance of the date, it had been a coincidence.

19. You Know You’re Right

From the Nirvana compilation.  Awesome song – classic Nirvana soft/heavy dynamic.

18. Been A Son

My version of this song is from the Incesticide album.  Fast paced, a catchy melody – and lyrics worth the time to listen to.

17. Lithium

One of the classic Nevermind songs, this has a fantastic sing a long chorus that shows Kurt’s ear for a fine tune.

16. Serve the Servants

Opening track from the superb In Utero album, I’ve surprised myself that I haven’t placed this song higher in my own list.  Love it.  “Teenage angst has paid off well, now I’m bored and old”.

15. Negative Creep

Absolutely brutal riff.  One of the heaviest, punkiest songs in the Nirvana catalogue.  Perhaps something of an early Melvins influence here, probably some Black Flag too.  You can find it on Bleach.

14. Molly’s Lips

Out-standing cover version of a Vaselines song, on the Incesticide album.  Unbelievably  poppy despite buzzing guitars, it’s a blueprint that Cobain adopted and mastered.

13. Territorial Pissings

Another hardcore punk attack, though Territorial Pissings still retains a melody despite the speed and fury.  Awesome instrumental break and reliably quotable lyrics.  Nevermind again.

12. On A Plain

It’s really hard to select the best songs from an album as indispensible as Nevermind, but I remember this track always stood out for me.

11. All Apologies

This gem doesn’t get in the Top Ten?  I know, ridiculous, right?  It’s on In Utero and there’s a pretty cool version on the MTV Unplugged set, too.

10. Sliver

We start the Top Ten with a great pop tune that, incredibly, wasn’t on the major releases.  You can pick it up though, on Incesticide – and I suggest you do.

9. Something In The Way

This song and Polly offer some quieter, haunting moments on Nevermind.  When we get to the chorus and the cello comes in, it’s heart break time.

8. Pennyroyal Tea

Like quite a few of Kurt’s songs, Pennyroyal Tea sneaks in quietly before launching into different territory.  Brilliant song from In Utero that demonstrates perfectly the melding of melody and mayhem in the best Nirvana tunes.

7. About A Girl

An early hint of Kurt Cobain’s ability to create a beautiful pop song; it’s no surprise that he was a huge Beatles fan.  Find it on Bleach, there’s also a killer version on MTV Unplugged.

6. Francis Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle

“I miss the comfort in being sad”, quiet/loud/quiet/loud; great riff.  Wonderful track from In Utero, complete with scathing lyrics.

5. Scentless Apprentice

Dun-dun-der-der! D-der der d-der d-der!  Do I really need to say more?  So heavy.  It must have scared the Indie scenesters to death.  Run for the hills, Indie scenesters!

4. Where Did You Sleep Last Night

A cover of the Leadbelly song, found on the MTV Unplugged album.  Kurt sounds truly agonised on this exceptional song, though it retains it’s beauty.

3. Dive

Apparently written as a Soundgarden style song, in an effort to appeal to their label Sub Pop and get signed.  It should come as no surprise, however, that Kurt – a huge Black Sabbath fan – would be able to create a riff as heavy as this.  Heavy like a brontosaurus breaking rocks.  With a big fucking hammer.

2. Smells Like Teen Spirit

This is the big one.  Iconic, revolutionary – but Nirvana’s best song?  I don’t think so.  Not to deny it’s power, maybe I’ve just heard it a little too much.  Still great though.  It’s on Nevermind, but you knew that, right?

1. Heart Shaped Box

Allegedly, Courtney Love heard Kurt writing this song, loved the immortal riff, and asked if he would donate it to her.  Kurt declined, and apparently locked himself in a cupboard to finish it off.  The quintessential quiet/loud dynamic.  Utterly unforgettable.  This, for me, is Nirvana’s best song.

So there you go – my Top 20 Essential Nirvana songs.  And I didn’t mention the word “grunge” once.

Compiling this list was much more difficult than I anticipated.  I was forced to leave out some absolutely classic songs; like In Bloom, Rape Me, Aneurysm and Nirvana’s amazing cover of David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World.  There are others, too.

I reserve the right, in all Essential Tracks posts, to revise my thoughts at a later date.  Already, I’m thinking that Scentless Apprentice should’ve been number 1.

Dun-dun-der-der! D-der der d-der d-der!