Graham Reid is a freelance writer, journalist and author of two award-winning travel books. He lectures part-time at the University of Auckland’s School of Music and hosts his own music/arts/travel website www.elsewhere.co.nz Here are five albums he’s loving right now (aside from those under Favourite Five Recent CDs at Elsewhere)…
1 – The 188.8.131.52’s, Bomb the Rocks – Early Days Singles: I’ve always loved reductive garageband rock like Blue Cheer, Dead Moon, The Cramps etc and this double vinyl collection of ridiculously goodtime rock’n’roll, surf rock and punk rock by these almost legendary Japanese women leapt into my hand on Record Store Day. After one side you almost feel you’ve had enough of English mangled beyond comprehension but then another side beckons and away you go again. Their version of Long Tall Sally should be sent to code breakers to see if they can figure out what they are singing. It’s at least three songs in one, with the bassline from Taxman at one point . . . if you can hear it.
2 – Ornette Coleman, Virgin Beauty: The impending vinyl reissue through Blue Note of Coleman’s classic At the Golden Circle (1965) sent me back into my massive Coleman collection but this one from 88 – with Jerry Garcia in places – always rises to the top for its joyousness. Coleman is my main-man in jazz…although when I met him in New York he insisted he wasn’t a jazz musician but “an American composer”. And that might have been one of the few parts of his bewildering but enjoyable conversation I actually understood until I listened back to the tape and deciphered it. An extraordinary man and musician.
3 – Elvis Costello, Imperial Bedroom: After his energetic live show last year I had high expectations for his return with the Impostors, but of his many, many albums this from 82 is the one I keep returning to as the most coherent, so stacked with great songs and yet has musical diversity that manages to make sense. Probably the only Costello album I’d offer to the many naysayers out there (because he can be such a smart-arse musically, I get that). Just comes down to the great songs and delivery on this one.
4 – Charlie Patton, Founder of The Delta Blues: Another double vinyl from Record Store Day. Blues from the 20s and 30s has some ineffably strange and mysterious qualities. At one level it can be very simple in its subject matter (cotton, drinkin’ cheatin’ and hard times) but beyond that lies the unknown, and the impossible to know. Death always seems to be at the shoulder of performers like Patton, even when he’s enjoying himself. Guess that’s true for all of us, but he just seemed to know it. He died in his 40s but – like Robert Johnson – his songs often suggest the reaper’s arrival was imminent.
5 – V/A, The Rough Guide to Psychedelic Bollywood: Utterly mad and bearing no relationship to American psychedelic music (Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead etc) but more like James Bond soundtracks getting overhauled by Indian musicians in the 70s when they had the technology and curiosity to add in found sounds, maniacal laughter from the movie, horn sections, tripped-out electric guitars and whatever else happened to be on hand. Inexplicable and impossible to apply logic to, but it all makes weird sense when you hear a swag of it. I buy Indian albums at random when I’m there or in places like Kuala Lumpur. They never cease to surprise, delight and confound.