You may not have heard of J.J. Cale as he deliberately avoided the limelight, he spent his career as an “under-the-radar-giant” (New York Times). However he influenced musicians as wide-ranging as Neil Young (who wrote in his autobiography, “J. J.’s guitar playing is a huge influence on me. His touch is unspeakable. I am stunned by it.”); Beck (who, speaking to the L.A. Times, referred to his “effortlessness…restraint and underplaying” as “very powerful”); Eric Clapton (who, in his autobiography, called Cale “one of the most important artists in the history of rock, quietly representing the greatest asset his country has ever had”); and many, many others.
This is reason enough to check him out, but he is also considered to be one of the originators of the Tulsa Sound, a loose genre drawing on blues, rockabilly, country, and jazz. In the early 1970s his albums Naturally and Troubadour were always must haves for any guitar player.
Because Music will release Stay Around, the first posthumous album by beloved songwriter, guitarist on 26th April. Stay Around has been compiled by those closest to Cale, his widow and musician Christine Lakeland Cale and friend and longtime manager, Mike Kappus. Because Music has released the official video for the album’s debut single, Chasing You, featuring footage of Cale touring, which he seldom did, and performing across the U.S. The video is a breezily bittersweet glimpse at the life of the artist who died in 2013 and left behind a vital, resounding legacy.
All tracks on Stay Around are previously unreleased, a fact that’s not unusual considering Cale’s modus operandi: often Cale would reserve outtakes from one album for later release on another.
Mike Kappus, who managed Cale for 30 years and has worked with his estate since his passing, explains, “Roll On, the title track of Cale’s last studio album, was 34 years old. He would burn me CDs of demos, and one time I said, ‘You’ve got two good albums on here.’ Some of the tracks had detailed information, some of them had nothing. Some songs might be a full band of his buddies, others were him playing everything. These were songs he really did intend to do something with because they were carried to his typical level of production for release.”
On Stay Around, the only song not written by JJ Cale is Christine Lakeland Cale’s My Baby Blues the first song she and JJ cut as a four-piece combo in Bradley’s Barn studio in 1977, the year they met. She is not only his widow but was a member of his band for many years, she expresses that the song “brings everything full-circle” for her.
In compiling Stay Around, Christine Lakeland Cale pored over songs, both studio and home recordings that the public had never heard. She adds, “I wanted to find stuff that was completely unheard to max-out the ‘Cale factor’… as much that came from John’s ears and fingers and his choices as I could, so I stuck to John’s mixes…You can make things so sterile that you take the human feel out. But John left a lot of that human feel in. He left so much room for interpretation.”
Cale himself said, “I like a funkier sound. I really admire the people who get really good sound. That takes expensive studios, expensive musicians. I delved into that a couple of times, but it’s more fun when I create something to do it myself; it always has a unique sound. If I start doing it standard-wise, it becomes more polished and it doesn’t sound quite as unique; it sounds like everybody else.”
JJ Cale cut his teeth during the ’50s, playing guitar in bars in Oklahoma alongside fellow natives David Gates of Bread and Leon Russell, which is where he was credited with helping to develop the laid-back Tulsa sound, along with other native Tulsans.
He managed to gather a loyal fan following and the admiration of some of the most revered rock musicians while,in the unwavering desire to lead a normal life,eluding fame. It was via other artists recording and performing his songs that he became best known. Eric Clapton recorded After Midnight, Cocaine and several other Cale originals, his admiration culminating with the pair’s Road To Escondido collaboration in 2006, which earned Cale his first Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album and his first RIAA Certified Gold Award.
Among the many others who covered Cale’s songs are Jerry Garcia, Captain Beefheart, Spiritualized, Beck, Lynyrd Skynyrd, John Mayer, Bryan Ferry, Santana, Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, Lucinda Williams, The Band, Widespread Panic, Freddie King, Phish, Waylon Jennings, Maria Muldaur, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Hiss The Golden Messenger, Dan Auerbach and Lee Fields, to name just a few.
This goes to prove that even though you may not have heard of J.J.Cale, you have almost certainly heard his work and are, probably like me, unaware of the value of his legacy that this hugely talented but modest musician has given us.
On 22nd March Sleeper will release their first album in 21 years. Sleeper enjoyed huge critical and commercial success in the mid 90s: achieving 8 Top 40 singles across 3 Top 10 albums with well over 1,000,000 sales. Their music was characterized by astute, observational lyrics and big, hook driven melodies, typified by their most recognisable single, Inbetweener. Louise Wener was an iconic front-person, heading up a movement that brought women center stage in guitar music. Sleeper split In 1998 and walked purposely away from the limelight. Wener carved out a career as a successful novelist. Drummer Andy Maclure and John Stewart, Sleeper’s guitarist, both became lecturers in music studies. Sleeper’s current line-up are joined by former Prodigy bassist Kieron Pepper.
The 90’s saw an explosion of strong front women in bands, in what was largely referred to as Britpop. Garbage, The Cranberries, Elastica, Skunk Anansie, Catatonia, Echobelly and The Cardigans to name a few. In fact this month The Cardigans releasedall six of their albums on vinyl, two of which are available on vinyl for the very first time.
Another album wasn’t meant to happen. In fact, the band had promised each other it never would.
“We had no plan to get back together. Sometimes life throws you a massive curve ball. You end up jumping off the cliff, just to see what it feels like.”: Singer, Louise Wener
The band spent last summer recording The Modern Age with their long time producer, Stephen Street, a relationship that clicked into place again right away. They tracked live at Metway Studios in their adopted city of Brighton, before decamping to Street’s studio in West London to add the finishing touches. The Modern Age is the outward looking sound of a band revitalized and refreshed. Covering subjects from motherhood and social media to personal loss and, inevitably, relationships. It retains Sleeper’s classic pop sensibilities with a shiny, new, contemporary feel. The first single to be taken from the album is Look at You Now, which was released last December. Initially it appears to be referencing Sleeper’s comeback, but it’s a protest song at heart: a howl for the politically homeless in a landscape where reasoned debate has given way to vitriol. Having had a sneaky preview listen of the album, I can confirm that fans of Sleeper will love it. They have not lost any of the edginess that hey had during their peak, as Look At You Know demonstrates.
Sleeper will be touring the UK from March and will be appearing at various festivals. It has just been announced that they will be at the Cool Britannia Festival at the world famous Knebworth Park in August. More dates are to be announced so keep your eyes peeled.
The PRS For Music Awards are something that I have not been aware of, and we should given the well publicised threat to local small venues up and down the country. PRS for Music, which protects the rights of more than 135,000 songwriters and composers, ensures music creators are represented whenever their music is used or performed in public. The organisation established the PRS for Music Heritage Award in 2009 to celebrate the important role that music venues play in supporting songwriters at the start of their careers, giving them a platform to perform in front of a live audience for the very first time. They are like the famous blue plaques that denote where famous people have lived. A list of previous awards can be found below within this article. These accolades are given to those live music venues across the UK that have played a crucial role in helping to create music history, by giving now-famous acts their first ever gig and helping them on their way to success.It has never been more important to keep music real in these days of manufactured corporate music for the masses played in arenas.
Nigel Elderton, Chairman, PRS for Music, said: “Ten years ago, we established the PRS for Music Heritage Award, to recognise live music venues that have given some of the UK’s most beloved and iconic acts their start. These small, local venues are where artists can earn their first bit of money from making music and often play a life-changing role at the very beginning of their careers, leaving an indelible mark on culture. Those artists go on to bigger stages, and bigger audiences, across the UK and indeed the world. I am delighted that we are honouring the Star Inn that has served as a music venue for more than 400 years – and continues to be a local hub for creatives and music fans alike.”
Legendary British band The Stranglers have presented a 400-year-old local pub in Surrey, the Star Inn, with the prestigious PRS for Music Heritage Award for 2019. Originally from Guildford, The Stranglers first performed at their local hometown pub, the Star Inn, on 21 December 1974, just three months after forming (initially as The Guildford Stranglers), in September that same year. This early act of generosity marked a turning point for the band which would see them become vital instigators of the UK punk rock movement, and release 23 Top 40 singles, 18 Top 40 albums, and a slew of now-iconic hits including Golden Brown, Peaches, No More Heroes and Hanging Around, in the years that followed. A lucky opportunity to play at their local music venue, saw the band attract a dedicated following from the very start, cementing a special relationship between band and venue.
The Stranglers, said: “The space that the Star Inn has created here is incredibly valuable to British music culture, they’ve played a huge role in giving emerging acts, like us at the time, a stage, helping them to thrive. They definitely deserve to be acknowledged with the PRS for Music Heritage Award to mark this pivotal moment in British music history.”
Grassroot music venues like the Star Inn provide a crucial environment for new and emerging acts to harness and develop their talent, try out new songs, experiment with creative identity, and build the foundations for a long-lasting fan base. These venues have witnessed the birth of some of the nation’s most loved music legends. Previous PRS for Music Heritage Awards have been given to venues that have helped the likes of Queen, Madness, Pulp, Spandau Ballet, UB40, Status Quo, Soul II Soul, Sir Elton John CBE, Blur and many more at the start of their musical careers.
Georgina ‘George’ Baker, Owner of the Star Inn, said: “We feel very much part of the fabric of The Stranglers’ history and so it’s an honour to receive this award. We pride ourselves on investing in emerging talent and giving them the platform they deserve and plan to do so for a very long time to come.”
This year’s PRS for Music Heritage Award plaque was unveiled by The Stranglers at a special red carpet ceremony at the Star Inn, Guildford. The unveiling of the plaque sees the start of what’s sure to be a hectic year for the revitalised band as they embark on their upcoming UK tour, Back on the Tracks, spanning 19 dates, 28 February – 30 March 2019.
Full List of PRS for Music Heritage Awards:
2009 Blur – East Anglian Railway Museum, 1989
2009 Dire Straits – Farrer House, Deptford, 1977
2010 Jethro Tull – Blackpool Holy Trinity Family Church, 1964
2010 Squeeze – Greenwich Dance Agency, 1975
2010 Sir Elton John – The Northwood Hills Hotel, 1962
2010 Snow Patrol – The Duke of York, Belfast, 1998
2010 Status Quo – Welcome Inn, Eltham, 1967
2011 UB40 – Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, 1979
2011 James – Fac 51 Haçienda, Manchester, 1982
2012 Soul II Soul – Electric Brixton, 1991
2012 Faithless – Jazz Café, Camden, 1996
2012 Supergrass – The Jericho Tavern, Oxford, 1994
2013 Queen – Imperial College London, 1970
2013 Orbital – The Garage, Highbury, 1990
2014 Spandau Ballet – The Blitz Club, Covent Garden, 1979
2015 Pulp – The Leadmill, Sheffield, 1980
2017 Madness – The Dublin Castle, Camden, 1979
2019 The Stranglers, Star Inn, 1974
I think this is a great initiative and serves to inform us of the fabric of our music industry. If you are local then support these venues. If you are visiting the area then pop into one of the venues if you can and show your support that way. If there is a show on then the current artists will be following in the footsteps of some pretty illustrious predecessors. As a lot of these venues are local hostelries then you might be able to soak up a cold drinks as well as soaking up history.
Masters of their own highly original sound, that combines a brilliant melodic touch with dark aggression and effortless cool, The Stranglers are now recognised as one of the most credible and influential bands to have emerged from the punk era. With record-breaking, sell-out shows and festival appearances in the UK and throughout the world, demand to see and hear the band is at an all-time high, testament surely to their considerable musical talent and enduring quality of their songs.
During a hectic year of touring the Southern Hemisphere, Europe and the UK, The Stranglers have also been busy writing and rehearsing new material; audiences can expect to experience some of these new cuts, alongside classic favourites and lesser performed numbers drawn from their eloquent and extensive catalogue spanning over forty years. www.thestranglers.co.uk
We were worried the day before the gig that it may not take place as the Beast from the East was threatening. As it turned out, the night before only brought the Flurry from Surrey. A hardy group of individuals queued outside The Junction well before doors at 7pm on what was still the coldest night of the year so far. There was anticipation in the air as Enter Shikari had last played in Cambridge on the Minesweep Tour a full four years previously. One young lady was so excited that she re-enacted the ‘pea soup’ scene from The Exorcist. I’ve never wanted a queue to move faster as she was behind Paul and myself, so had it not been for some nimble footwork, we would have been in the firing line.
The Junction is one of my favourite venues and is a dark, good old fashioned music venue, which has been awarded Bronze Status for disabled access from Attitude Is Everything. With two support acts on the bill and Enter Shikari’s reputation for having set lists packed to the rafters with bangers, we knew that we were probably going to get a great show.
Half an hour after we got in the first act were on. The powerful Black Peaks roared into action with their opener, Glass Built Castles. The Brighton four-piece are not renowned for energetic movements on stage, but channel all their energy through their music. Will Gardner predominantly stood with one foot on the monitor, crouched over the early birds and letting out guttural roars, before showing what a great voice he has. There was no pretension, just a polished, far too short, five-song set of alt-rock hardcore punk metal, which culminated in The Midnight Sun from their latest album All That Divides.
We did not have long to wait for the second support act: Palaye Royale. The three Canadian brothers, who never seem far from controversy, could not have been more different to the Black Peaks. With white spotlights strafing the ever increasing throng, they began their seven-strong set with Don’t Feel Quite Right. The fashion indie rock band were clearly enjoying themselves. The trio were full of energy, which was not thrown off kilter even when Sebastian Danzig had a malfunction with his Gretsch halfway through the opener. After making a cut throat hand signal, he recovered in time for the guitar intro of the second number, aptly titled You’ll Be Fine. They are a stylish band that play indie glam rock and Sebastian, with his pale face and high cheekbones, reminded me of a young Keith Richards.
It’s hard to tell whether their performance is driven by overblown egos or the sheer joy of their craft and showmanship, but I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt as it works, and they certainly warmed up the crowd. After the usual final sixth song, their energetic frontman Remington Leith asked if we wanted another song before going full-blown rockstar with How Do You Do. Standing on the photo pit barrier with only security preventing him from falling into the sea of bodies in front of him, he got everyone all whipped up ready for the main act before leaving the stage.
The venue was now completely packed and I was enjoying the fill-in music as the sound engineer seemed to be a Stones fan. As songs like Midnight Rambler played in the background, the stage was being re-set for Enter Shikari. It was bathed in blue, with Rou Reynolds’ Radar Screen keyboard in the centre. The circa 1968 twin TV antenna on the top was reflecting the light, waiting to spring into life. The room was being engulfed with smoke ready to diffuse the light show for the next 90 minutes or so. The soundcheck was unusually entertaining with all sorts of sounds being emitted, rather than the usual limited count of “One…two, one, one…..two”.
The blue lights were turned onto the crowd who were chanting “Wooo, wooo, wooo” and started to undulate, creating waves washing over everyone’s heads. The intro to the title track from their latest album, The Spark, started playing and the band that defies pigeon-holing entered stage right. Rou Renyolds was wearing dark trousers and a pristine white hoodie with the hood pulled up, hiding his mane of hair.
So to the opener, The Sights, which, like The Spark, is taken from the latest album. The lights were still strafing the mass in front of him, and they were singing as one along with the band. As the final chords faded into the background, Rou welcomed everyone by saying: “Greetings, carbon-based lifeforms.” Red back lights shone through the smoke, as the heavier Step Up, from their second album, Common Dreads, started.
The ambience had changed and Enter Shikari looked like demonic-based lifeforms playing in the pits of hell. Rou was bounding around the stage like a man possessed. It was clear after the trailing end of this song that there was going to be little respite tonight as Enter Shikari were going to try and cram in as many numbers into the set as they could.
As Rou shouted: “OK, Cambridge. Time to go mad!” confetti cannons fired out blue confetti into the ceiling of the venue. The band plunged right into the dark Labyrinth, and the audience went mental. There was a real connection between the guys on stage and the people on the floor. After the song ended, the musicians were greeted with “Zoop, zoop, zoop” (from Rabble Rouser). When Rou responded with “Good evening, daaaaarlings,” the reply was: “Shi shi Shikari….shi, shi, Shikari.” It turns out that the fans did not really need warming up on this cold night after all – which was fortunate as the Junction was uncharacteristically chilly.
Rou gave us some insight into life with the band as he explained he’d been on vocal rest, which the other members approved of apparently. After this brief interlude, Enter Shikari got everyone jumping with some of their standards. Without a break they launched into Arguing With Thermometers, Rabble Rouser, Halcyon, and Hectic.
To allow us to catch our breath they changed the tempo. A simple white spot shone behind Rou, who had now picked up an acoustic guitar and started playing the simple but beautiful Gap In The Fence. He delivered it with a soulful, mellow vocal. We all joined in with the obligatory “Woooh, woooh, woooh.” I mean, the fans have to play their part don’t they? Rou swapped his acoustic guitar for a trumpet for Shinrin-Yoko. The back screens/prisms started pulsating for this number, perhaps signalling that the next phase of bedlam was about to start. As the tempo started to quicken, Rou self-medicated with a swig of gin.
The hoodie came off, revealing a baggy vest top underneath. The lads meant business now. The venue once again shone with a red hue, and we were treated to The Revolt Of The Atoms. As the song ended, the crowd started chanting “Rory C, Rory C, Rory fucking C”, showing their love for guitarist Liam ‘Rory’ Clewlow, who had so far played his heart out. Rou showed mock envy for the love saying: “You never chant Rou fucking R!” before surprisingly going into SlipShod, which is a slice of mayhem alt-rock, techno mash-up.
Again this section of the set was relentless, giving no time to draw breath. Shortened versions of Gandhi, Mate, Gandhi and Mothership were morphed into each other with no break. The latter concluded with Rou on the bespoke keyboard, and a cover of the Faithless dance hit Insomnia. This cover had a far heavier bassline though that rattled your entire ribcage.
Again without pausing, Enter Shikari got the crowd to a fever pitch with Havoc B, with Rou exclaiming halfway through: “This is the heaviest part of the set.” This section of pure adrenaline ended up with Rory and his guitar crowd surfing and Rou asking: “Can we ‘ave ‘im back now please?”
As before, there was a change of tempo as everyone apart from Rou left the stage. He dedicated the next song to “anyone who has had a difficult start to the year”. Accompanied by just his keyboard, he gave a poignant performance of Airfield and the stripped-back rendition showcased his controlled vocal. The rest of the band joined towards the end to provide the up-tempo climax.
The main part of the set was coming to an end and the tempo was notched up again, with Undercover Agents, No Sleep Tonight, and Stop The Clocks. The confetti cannons once again boomed after Undercover Agents, with white confetti showering down on us.
The fans started chanting “Rory C” again as Rou exclaimed: “Oh shit! Is that the time?” It was an obvious lead-in to their familiar quick-fire round where four songs are performed in around eight minutes. Although the tempo was fast enough for Sorry, You’re Not A Winner, afterwards Rou asked: “Shall we go faster?” The tempo was set at 174 BPM before The Last Garrison, Meltdown, and Anesthetist were shoehorned into the eight-minute sprint before an abrupt end and the “thank you, goodnight” salutation.
Instead of the usual cries of “more” and stamping of feet, the Enter Shikari fans again connected with the band by chanting “And still we will be here standing like statues”, a lyric from the track Enter Shikari off their first album, Take To The Skies. Asking for more after 23 full or part songs might be considered greedy, but we knew the band still had a couple in them to send us home in a state of exhaustion. True to form they thundered through Juggernauts and concluded with Live Outside.
The coldest night of the year did not seem so bad after the blistering heat of Enter Shikari’s performance. They are renowned as one of the best live acts in the UK, and they proved that they could give one hell of a show in the relatively intimate venue that is The Junction. All five albums were represented on the setlist, with Common Dreads and The Spark forming the majority of the performance. The lighting and sound were impeccable and Enter Shikari were funny, engaging, and outstanding performers. There is a real connection between the band and the people that have put them on that stage.
In short, they were real class.
The Stop The Clocks Tour continues in the UK and in Europe. More details are available here, or you can catch them this summer at at Download, Reading, and Leeds Festivals.
Live music review by Tony Creek and photography by Paul Lyme of Enter Shikari live at Cambridge Junction on 30th January 2019.
The Orchestra of Cardboard is a collaboration between artist and filmmaker Dan Edelstyn and his close allies, Hilary Powell, Nick Graham Smith and Zac Gvirtzman. The album Songs For The Forthcoming War is released on 1stMarch, all proceeds will fund the purchase of dynamite. Yes you read that correctly! Dynamite!
The Orchestra of Cardboard is an artistic cog in a much bigger machine known as the Bank Job; a mischievous feature documentary produced by Dan and Hilary that follows a North London community coming together to make their own currency and open a bank. Taking part is Barn Croft Primary School, Eat or Heat Food Bank, the Pl84U Homeless Kitchen and The Soul Project Youth Project. This act of citizen money creation is both a way of raising real money for some of the poorest in the community and a way of fundraising to buy and destroy £1 million of local predatory debts.
Which is where the Orchestra of Cardboard comes in. The explosives purchased from sales of the album will be used to blow up a cash in transit vehicle stuffed with £1m of local payday debt in an act of economic disobedience and provocation against the establishment.
“Everywhere I look I see the seeds of war, the migration crisis, the rigged right wing press, the threats of global warming, the insidious poverty, the greed and corruption of banks,” Dan says. “Politics are polarising, the markets are soaring away from reality, peoples’ souls are hardening, the streets are full of car horns, the papers are full of fury. People are scared of standing up, we are adrift and lunatics have taken control of the steering wheel.”
The relationship between music, film and story telling is at the heart of the band. Highly cinematic, when playing live songs are performed alongside projected films and the band wears cardboard masks. “These songs are offered to every man, woman and child as a balm in the spirit of fraternal love and equality. They’re sung to a battered and broken world in much need of healing. We hope they will be accepted in the spirit in which they are intended.”
The album reflects Dan Edelstyn’s interest in 20th century history and the music takes us on a journey in styles through theatrical to lullaby. Perhaps a little like the merging of the soundtracks of Cabaret and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with a touch of early Pink Floyd!
There are many stand out tracks including Jazz Girl and I Lit A Fire. One of the real jewels on the album is The Shetlands, which is a love song duet about an imagined escape from London to a quieter life on the remote northern Island and can be seen below.
The album has been produced and mastered by Nick Graham Smith, who used to work with Malcolm McClaren and has been Dan’s music partner for many years.