Book Review: Mother Night, Kurt Vonnegut

NB – This is another archival entry. I think I read and reviewed this originally around Jan/Feb, 2021.

‘We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.’ Vonnegut in his intro to this book.

I stumbled upon, or was reminded of, a few terrific Vonnegut quotes fairly recently, reminding me that I’d loved reading some of his stuff, years ago.

So I ordered a couple of his works I hadn’t already encountered, namely Slap Stick, and this, Mother Night. (I have to remark on how great the cover designs of these Vintage editions are, really very striking!) His trademark wit is present and correct as ever. But I’d forgotten how very bleak quite a lot of his prose fiction can be.

I don’t really want to synopsise the content here (the wiki entry on the book is great for that). In a nutshell it’s about apathy and belief, or how engaged one really is with what goes on around one. If we take Vonnegut’s own quote from the intro (reproduced above) at face value, it’s rather Hamlet-like in it’s utter weariness at our shabby play-acting.

These dark and comfortless ideas are embedded in a very clever but horribly bleak context, in which the narrator protagonist, Howard Campbell Jr, is both a former Nazi propagandist and a double-agent for US secret services, recounting his bizarre life story from an Israeli jail cell.

It’s a short easy read; I read the whole thing in one day. But it’s a bit hard going psychologically, on account of it being so relentlessly dark. Vonnegut, like so many, saw things in WWII that, unsurprisingly, coloured his entire life thereafter. But the pitch black darkness of the vision of humanity offered here is, unlike the more uplifting quotes I recently encountered by him elsewhere, energy-sapping.

As always, Vonnegut’s very clever, highly articulate, effortlessly imaginative and even darkly funny. But this is so grindingly dark, it’s certainly not a favourite from Vonnegut’s canon, a least for me. Unlike some of his writings, from Sirens of Titan to Breakfast of Champs, I can’t see myself ever re-reading this one.

UPDATE: Rather ironically, given my stated desire not to re-read this, whilst posting this old review I discovered that Mother Night is the subject of a local reading group event, coming up soon. So, I may well re-visit it, after all!

Nowt So Queer As Folk!

‘Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile.’ [1]

Imagine, if you will, talking with some friends. And later coming away from an apparently convivial gathering. Only to reflect on it, later on, and realise something quite horribly shocking.

Those people, all smiles and cups of tea, believe that you are not just destined for an eternity in Hell. But that you are in cahoots with Beelzebub! It sounds – at least to what I would call ‘reasonable people’, such as I flatter myself to be – utterly preposterous.

But, if you take your religion at all seriously, it’s the kind of thing vast swathes of humanity apparently believe. I only come up against it all very occasionally, and when I do, it’s certainly not in the form of Father Jack types drooling and screaming ‘Ye’ll all bourn in Hell!’ [2]

But it bothers me deeply. Especially where it concerns family and long-standing friends. With terrible irony these folk will reassure me to my face that ‘no, no, we don’t judge like that’. But I don’t believe them. What on earth (or in Heaven or Hell’s name) is the point of any of the whole crazy rigmarole if you don’t take it seriously?

I suppose on one level religions are just very bizarre clubs. And as long as you don’t rock the boat too much, or too often, many doubtless just muddle along, frequently beset by gnawing doubts that it is all a complete crock.

But the trade-off of belonging is, it seems, so seductively powerful it all too often obliterates a person’s better judgement. Doubts are cast as tests of one’s faith, as sinful folly; the whisperings of devils like me! If lip service can suffice, I guess that accounts for a lot?

It’s much the same with law-abiding in our society. Most people will break the law many times in their life. Mainly in minor ways. And mostly without consequence. And as long as they don’t bump up against the harder edges of The Law’s societal ramifications too often, the unexamined and nebulously elastic relationship just about works.

And I suppose that for vast swathes of humanity their relations to their beliefs are a similar fudge. But when one allies oneself with a religion in contemporary Britain, surely it bears a little thinking about?

Of course it usually happens that folk believe in the inherited echo-chamber of Chinese-whispers they inherit from those around them. So, to the discomfiture of many, if you’re born in certain pockets of London or the Midlands, your world may be Muslim. [3]

The world I come from is littered with the wreckage of nearly two millennia of Christian traditions. A polymorphous stream of constantly evolving tales, and resultant cultural artefacts, that so obviously makes a total nonsense out of any ideas that religion is handed down from an unchanging divine authority On High.

The desire for stability such fantasies so clearly signal is very understandable. But the evidence of history is so overwhelmingly against such notions, in just the same way that archaeology and palaeontology and suchlike confirm not sacred texts, but secular scientific explanations.

How and why folk cling on to religions bewilders me. I can see their utility, giving social cohesion, a sense of community, and whatnot. But why do we need to have a core of absolute twaddle around which to gather and function? Why can we not gather in similar ways around truth? [4]

Such trains of thought are especially vexing precisely because the pious apparently believe they are concerned with truth. It really and truly galls me that there’s no humanist equivalent to the better parts of religion. But it does seem a prerequisite of successful group cohesion that the group must cohere around some utterly nutty and ridiculous nonsense.

Potentially very interesting, but actually hugely disappointing

Is this a quirk of our psychological evolution?

But returning to the themes that got this post started; in much the same way that one can feel the icy hand of paranoia on one’s shoulder, if one reflects on what devoutly religious folk one knows might actually be thinking, what is the value of cultivating such relationships?

Most religions attempt to encourage their acolytes to socialise amongst their own. And it’s obvious why. Exposure to other ideas and beliefs will challenge and very likely change what believers believe.

And for the secular humanist type, like me, it can seem sensible not to waste one’s time exchanging niceties with people who harbour pre-medieval delusions about a spirit world in which I am, at best, one of the damned, and at worst, a gleeful accomplice of the Devil and his imps.

Some from both camps – secular and faithful – might say ‘lighten up’. And that is indeed good advice. If all religion were treated merely as poetic, that might be a viable stance. But for us non-believers to really be able to contemplate lightening up, requires ardent zealots of the various faiths to ‘hold more lightly’ their cherished delusions.

And I don’t see that happening any time soon.

And, to now get really heavy. If push came to shove, and shove came to biff, and so on – as it all too often does – where would I stand? Well, I’d like to stand with reason and humanity. Against unreason and inhumanity.

NOTES:

[1] Allegedly a quote from Kurt Vonnegut’s Mother Night! Which I recently reviewed here.

[2] Father Jack is a character in the terrific Father Ted TV series.

[3] I’ve experienced this myself. Both reading about it (as in the Price of Paradise, that I’ve just read and reviewed), and in ordinary daily life. Staying in an AirB&B in a certain London borough, some years ago, was the closest I’ve got to being in a ghetto, or visiting India/Asia.

[4] This area of thought brings to mind Alain de Botton’s Religion For Atheists, and suchlike.

Tory Top Tips…

Top Tory Tips for dealing with the it’s-nothing-to-do-with-Brexit apocalypse:

Serfs, remember:

1. Eat more dung! We serve it up to you all the time anyway. Just open a bit wider, we’ll keep shovelling it in. And now, thanks to Brexit, we’ll soon have radioactive nutrient-free added-cruelty pile on the air miles dung. Mmm, delicious!

2. Work longer hours. You’ll have to soon enough anyway, as we’re busily removing all your rights. It’s called sovereignty. We’re taking back control!

3. Try not to be so totally and utterly feckless and stupid. At least learn to budget a little and to cook! Mind you, don’t be getting ideas above your station! A good serf always remains dumb enough to vote for us.

4. Keep watching and reading and believing the tycoons’ propaganda. We don’t want you thinking about why – when us Tories have governed for over 75% of the time since WWII – things are so shit for the lower orders. That’s as it should be.

5. Conform and obey. If you don’t we’ll soon have the powers to lock you up in The Tower, like the good old days.

6. Watch Downton and believe it’s history.

7. Celebrate being a subject, as opposed to a citizen. It’s much more fun eating dung and tugging your forelock than it is trying to better your lot in life. Why bother, when the odds are stacked so heavily against you? Just watch TV, gamble a bit, and eat your dung!

8. Leave the big issues to us. We’ll only ask you to vote in a referendum when we’re 100% certain we can stage manage it so you turkeys continue to vote for Christmas.

9. Don’t think about electoral reform. First past the post – mainly practised by us and our former colonies (oh, and that bastion of democracy, Belarus) – has, like the rotten boroughs of our glorious past, served us well.

10. Always vote Conservative. Only we true blue Tories can rid society of such evils as public healthcare, the BBC/C4, basic human rights, and other such commie follies.

Whilst inflation and billionaires’ profits rocket, and ordinary folks’ lives and health regress, only we can be trusted to rob from the many to enrich the few. It’s what we’ve always done. That’s the only way in which we’re truly Conservative.

Give us time and we’ll roll back conditions to the glorious medieval era, or better yet the Dark Ages. It won’t be long before we’re repealing the weekend.

Weekends? What are they, but a dirty worker’s plot to lessen the constant toil that is the true lot of the masses, and which keeps us turds floating up top.

13th Wedding Anniversary

I tried to find a groovy ‘lucky 13’ image, and – as you can see – failed.

Today Teresa and I celebrated 13 years of married life. We had a nice meal at The Hippodrome. Beef Madras for her, and a BBQ style burger for me. Nowt fancy, like. Simple, relatively cheap. And we were very cheerful.

I had a card for Teresa, and some earrings. And even some cute little bear themed/shaped hanger/peg things. I should’ve got her some flowers n’all, really. And I bought us dinner and drinks.

We ate and chatted, and had a simple mellow time. A latté for her and an ale for me. Very nice!

We’ve been married thirteen years, prior to which we’ve been together a further fourteen. So that’s twenty seven years in all. Next year we reach parity on the married/un-married years!

After our pub dinner we came home. Two coffees, and Count Arthur Strong’s The Man Behind The Smile show on DVD. Teresa fell asleep on the couch. And Chester spent a while purring away merrily on my chest. Ah… the simple pleasures!

Currently Reading: Backbeat, Palmer/Scherman.

This isn’t a book review. I will doubtless post one for this book, when I’ve finished it. This is just a quick post noting that I’m reading it!

I do however want to jot down a few thoughts on it, partly so I don’t forget to think about them when I do review the book.

One important theme revolves around how race, and black identity, etc, figure in Earl’s fascinating and – ummm – colourful story. He marries a white lady, with whom he raises a family in LA (having left his first – and black – wife and kids in N’Awlins).

Another concerns the musical history aspect. And is tied up with with art vs. commerce, soul vs. industry, Bohemia vs, Mammon, and so on.

I’m nearing the end of the book, and there’s been no mention of David Axelrod yet. Axe used Palmer a lot. I’m keen to learn what Earl thought and felt about David’s musical projects.

And Scherman – who mostly occludes himself, and very rightly so, to foreground Earl’s voice and story – only interjects his own voice on one or two occasions. Notably to say that perhaps Earl is being a mistaken muso when he favours his jazz and film music over the rock’n’roll and pop stuff.

Whilst I know what Scherman’s getting at, I might nevertheless disagree with him here, and side with Earl. But maybe that’s on account of being a fellow drummer (and Palmer!)?

Music & Life: Opera?

Whilst I suspect nobody cares about this opinion, and probably rightly so, here goes… I’ve always disliked opera. In fact I’ve pretty much always hated it.

It has always evoked the spirit of the gentry playing at being shepherds like the overprivileged tits they are. The mannered vibrato heavy style of singing, oozing oleaginous self-satisfaction, favoured by opera singers, is, after little girls screaming (I’m honestly surprised no military has weaponised that particularly awful sound), and death metal screaming/grunting, possibly my least favourite type of sound the human voice can make!

Over the years a few pieces have snuck through chinks in my anti-opera armour. But today I think I might’ve found a doorway into appreciating this appallingly overblown art-form. At least sonically. The answer/trick? Turn it way, way, way down!

We’re out in the garden, it’s beautifully sunny, birds are chirruping, and all is well with life. We brought a DAB radio my mum recently gave us – thanks, ma! – out with us. And I put BBC Radio 3 on. Bass singer Matthew Rose is presenting Inside Music, and I’m really digging his choices. Even though they are quite often a bit off my usual musical map.

Book Review: The Hot Rats Book, Zappa & Gubbins

This terrific little book arrived today. One of the things that strikes me most about it, and that’s a very pleasing thing, is how unpretentious it is. Zappa’s whole weird schtick can sometimes obscure the sincerity and ordinary decency of a man striving to make art without boundaries.

So a key theme – not especially trumpeted by either Frank or this book – is freedom. Also celebrated are such things as the music studio as alchemical wonderland, and a serious work ethic.

It’s strange for me, because I’m simultaneously both a Zappa freak, and totally not a Zappa freak. He’s done a lot, musically and otherwise, that doesn’t really do anything for me. But then he’s also done a lot that does.

When Gubbins met Zappa.

And, rather serendipitously, Hot Rats is one of his albums I like best. Especially musically. I mean, Joe’s Garage is a masterpiece, but it is so as much for its entire existence, and it’s psychic architecture (and the humour and pathos of it all) as for the music. With Hot Rats I feel a much more ‘pure music’ vibe.

I think/feel I’ve always preferred the jazz side of Zappa to the ‘classical’. And on Hot Rats he fuses jazz improv with some of his more dense writing in a way I totally dig. It’s also interesting to hear how it was listening to some jazz – specifically Archie Shepp soloing – that gave birth to the album’s title.

The textual side of the book is mostly a transcription of a chat between Ahmet Zappa and Bill Gubbins, whose photos of some of the Hot Rats sessions (and a bit more besides) are the core attraction of this book.

Dick Kunc, Zappa, and Ian Underwood, at work.

If I were to be super pernickity, I might lament the facts that Gubbins doesn’t have pics of the Van Vliet/Bill Harklerod visit, or that his time in the studio with Frank only covers a latter stage – overdubs and mix-down period – of proceedings. I’d have loved to have seen photos of the rhythm section tracking sessions!

But despite these lacunae, this is a wonderful thing. And a very beautiful and candid portrait of Frank, the artist, at work. As already alluded to, there’s a bit more, inc photos from what turned out to be the final Mothers gig in the US, and sundry other moments around the whole trip to LA that a young and green Gubbins made, way back in ‘69.

There’s so much to commend this to the lover of art, music and modern culture. But I guess it’s also very much a niche ‘Zappa fan’ thing, as well? I love all the studio shots, with all those elements of the recording world, from the architecture to the gear.

Zappa on bass, in the control room.

I’m not big on hero worship. But I have to admit that this publication can feel a bit cloyingly reverential. But then again, Zappa (and Ahmet and Bill G, for that matter) do come across very well.

Intriguingly, it was during these Hot Rats sessions that Zappa disbanded the Mothers. And the fall out from that, whilst less apparent than one might anticipate, does leech into this otherwise very positive celebration of Zappa and his art.

But I think I’ll leave it there, for now. In conclusion: fantastic, and highly recommended. Take a trip back in time, and dig the sights and sounds of the Zappa-verse, Hot Rats style.

Music: Earth Rot, David Axelrod, 1970

This reissue of Axelrod’s 1970 eco-doom masterpiece is great. Really, really, really great! Six stars great!!!

This Now Again reissue presents the original recording in full, and follows that with an all instrumental recapitulation. We’ll come back to this later.

The original album starts with a slightly dated and rather odd little spoken word cameo, with female and then male voices declaiming a little bit of Biblical type scripture (‘In the beginning…’ etc). Not at all sure what I make of that? But, well… whatever, as folk say these days!

Then the music begins. And the music itself is just terrific. But I’ll return to this subject in a bit more detail later. Before that it’s worth noting that with this 2018 re-release there’s lots to read and look at: great unabashed fan-boy style liner notes, by Eothen Alapatt, and plenty of rather cool pic’s, of Axe and co at work.

The Axe, with his charts.

And then, as noted above, there’s the fact that the musical content is doubled, by the inclusion of instrumental versions of everything. Love it!

What to say about the music? Well, first off, this, the third of Axelrod’s trio of solo albums for Capitol, it was also the first to feature vocals. And not standard vocals either, but spoken word and ‘choral’ type lyrics. The eco-doom theme is an odd but prescient one. I’ll come back to why it’s so odd later.

But I have to confess, whilst I love the original recording, for its oddball singularity, I think I might, initially at least, prefer the instrumental versions of the tracks. In terms of pure music. And I can kind of see why his first two albums were strictly instrumental.

That said, I dig both. What he’s trying to say is great. And I think had he continued to plough similar furrows, he’d have cracked an even better marriage of word and music than he achieves here.

But my views may change over time? Who knows! And I’m not meaning to damn the vocal version with faint praise. I think it’s pretty extraordinary. And I love it all. Both as vocal and instrumental music.

Instrumentally it’s very much like the previous two albums, mixing funky soulful jazziness with slightly modern ‘composing’. I wouldn’t call it ‘classical’, exactly. Orchestral? Certainly. Although he uses mainly ‘pad’ type pillows of strings and brass.

The backing band instrumentation and playing is worthy of some analysis. Earl Palmer’s drumming is very much groove based, and, partnered with the bright elastic funkiness of Bob West’s electric bass*, beds everything on a springy lithe mattress of percolating funky soul vibes, with just a hint of jazziness.

The keys and guitars range from acoustic picking, to fuzzed out leads, glassy gliss’ed electric strumming, and everything from piano to vibes.

There’s occasional moments of lead or solo style melodies from horns, even a little flight on a violin. But by and large the music is both thematic and textural, as opposed to melody driven. Frequent repetition of certain chords, or harmonies, or even phrases or figures lend the whole a suite like homogeneity.

As I work on this, I’m re-listening to it all again. For possibly the fourth time today. And the vocal stuff is really growing on me. Probably more for the pure musicality of it all, as opposed to the message. Although as message music goes, whatever one thinks of how it’s been done here, it sure knocks the spots off the tidal waves of meaningless dross pumped out by the pop-music machinery.

Where the latter endlessly reinforces the vacuity of a shallow culture of constant ego-feeding display dependency, a part of the consumer culture that helps bring us closer to eco-doom, for all its hippy-era earnestness, the message here has a consciousness that goes beyond the solipsistic self-obsession of our Twitter-age.

So, taking the vocals and words away, which initially makes the ‘pure music’ on offer here slightly more palatable to a contemporary taste, is perhaps too much like vandalism? I dunno… I can only say that personally I like both. And having the choice to enjoy either, or both, is great.

But I want to briefly return to the idea of the oddness of this whole package. I’m not one for opera, rock, religious, or otherwise. But it can’t be denied that this does make me think of a kind of ‘hippy eco opera’. But with lines like ‘there is a growing rotten-mess’, it’s hardly your Hair or Jesus Christ Superstar!

Indeed, the groovily beautiful nature of the music sits a tad awkwardly with the ‘conceptualism’ of much of Axe’s music in this period. I find it a little tricky to connect the ostensible subjects – be they the poetry of Blake, or the coming eco-doom – with the beauty and joie de vivre of the music.

One last observation, and that’s to do with how Axe has enjoyed a renaissance thanks, undeniably, to hip-hop producers and rappers sampling his music. Or should that be stealing his thunder? Basking in his reflected glory!?

I have to confess that, other than one DJ Shadow track, I’m not familiar with what these later folk have done with Axe’s legacy. I suppose – whatever I might think of their usage of him – I ought to at least be glad that through their interest some of his music has been reissued.

But truth to be told, although I don’t mind some rap/hip-hop, I’m usually a much bigger fan of stuff they might occasionally sample. And that’s very much the case here.

I’m happy taking a deep bath in the musical rivers Axe tapped into and unleashed. And Earth Rot, like his two Blake inspired albums, is – for my money – totally and utterly sublime. The more I listen to it, the more I dig it!

Harmonically it just tickles my sweet spot. And there’s loads of beautiful breathy flute. The vibe is, despite the eco-doom stuff, predominantly upbeat, even if tinged, at times, with a melancholy. But I’ve always loved that hinterland, of intense happy-sad beauty.

And the interplay of the rhythm section is truly sublime. The music, occasionally richly think with layered harmonies, is just as frequently reduced to a sparse and minimalist stripped down state, so that the whole oscillates and shimmers, between the poles of lightness and power.

To me it’s truly mind blowing. When one finds music that speaks so directly and pin-point accurately to one’s own inner voice.

Earl Palmer, laying down the grooves!

And as a drummer I can’t pass by without observing how wonderful Earl Palmer’s playing is. I’m so taken with it, I’ve ordered a copy of his autobiography. A cat with that much swing and soul, who’s played such a massive part in modern popular music? I need to know more!

Anyway, I have become a gushing fan-boy! And I’m not the least ashamed. I suspect that many won’t ‘get’ what it is I see and hear in this rather oddball stuff. But I truly couldn’t care less. For me there’s really naught to ‘get’, anyway. Either such music speaks to you, or it doesn’t.

And with Songs of Innocence, Songs of Experience and Earth Rot, senor Axe, he speaketh unto me, loud and clear. And I love it!

Can’t recommend this highly enough.

* Arthur Wright is also listed as playing bass. But wasn’t he more a guitarist?

Music: David Axelrod’s Unholy Trinity

Axelrod at work at Capitol Studios, looking exceptionally cool!

I’m experiencing yet another musical epiphany. Which is nice. This one revolves, like a rather wonky moon, around the planet Axe, aka David Axelrod.

I don’t recall precisely when I first became aware of him. Poss’ during the noughties? There was a quite distinct period when Li numerous bloggers were pumping out digitised versions of old vinyl, and sharing them in the blogosphere. I hoovered up a good of obscure-ish or OOP (out of print) music during that period.

It soon became apparent to me that I already knew Axe, primarily via the Cannonball Adderley recordings of the mid to late sixties through to the mid-seventies, many of which I’d discovered during the same orgy of digital downloads.

The mighty Axe. Or Dave, to his friends. In ‘72.

Anyway, back then I downloaded and listened to such Axelrod stuff as Heavy Axe, and The Auction. I also downloaded, but failed to appreciate properly, both Songs Of Innocence and Songs of Experience.

Only now are those two latter albums starting to really seep into my pores, and transform me, along with 1970’s Earth Rot. It’s strange how music can be out there all along, and yet one doesn’t find or connect with it until some seemingly random moment.

Some folk who like Axe’s trio of heavy concept albums – also his first three solo albums (things were strange and different back then!) – can be a bit sniffy about his subsequent recordings. Personally I love pretty much all of what I’ve heard by him thus far.

It has to be said that this opening salvo, a trilogy of pretty unusual recordings, is, in some respects – taken as a whole – both quite singular, and pretty mind blowing. It’s hard, also, to properly appreciate the context in which they were made.

Dig that mandala cover, man… heavy!

As I type this I’m listening to Songs Of Innocence. As the title suggests, it tips a nod to William Blake, another maverick artist. The team of musicians creating the really quite sublime sounds, which have a kind of thematic coherence and unity I’ll address later, are top notch.

Axe looking very Clint, chats with Earl Palmer.

The elastic energised grooves of Earl Palmer (no relation, as far as I know; more’s the pity!) and the lithe electric bass of Carol Kaye, propel a rhythm section rounded out by folk like Don Randi, Al Casey and Howard Roberts. The all instrumental compositions are fleshed out with great cloudy pillows of strings and brass.

Like the original record cover, the music is stunning. Totally of its time, and yet also – to my ears – fresh and ageless, transcending the trappings of the era that gave birth to it. Axelrod was given carte blanche, and had both the budget and the means at his disposal to do something most aspiring producers can only dream of.

And all those resources and all that promise? It all kind of fell flat. Whilst Axe’s work with other artists seemed to work for both parties, his own stuff wound up becoming obscure, overlooked, and almost forgotten.

Bleak eco-doom, Earth Rot!

I’m loving the trinity of his first three solo albums so much that I’m going to make a point of going back to all those Adderley albums he had a hand in, and check them all out again. I’ve also ordered the eponymous album that Mo’ Wax released (2001?), which is actually culled from old recordings, of the same or similar vintage to the good ol’ trilogy that I’m totally digging right now.

As do in addition to that I’ve also ordered The Edge, a 2CD collection of his work on Capitol from ‘67-70. This will duplicate much of what I already have. But it also adds a load of stuff he did with other artists in that period. Can’t wait to hear more Axe!

But, as promised/threatened above, more on the music itself. The album – I’m talking primarily here about Songs of Innocence, as that was what I was listening to whilst writing the first draft of this post – is short. And rather than being a collection of different and distinct songs, it’s more a suite of variations on a few themes.

Carol Kaye recording with Axe.

The seven pieces clock in at about 27 minutes. So the whole thing is quite brief. Similarly, Songs of Experience (1969) is just over 30 minutes, and Earth Rot (1970) just under (about 28 minutes). So all three combined make a single playlist of about 90 minutes.

Here’s a link to a piece about Axelrod from The Guardian. This goes into how he has returned to public consciousness via the sampling of his works by hip hop producers. I’ll confess that’s not really my bag, baby. I definitely prefer to go direct to the source!

I also feel the urge to try and find more music exploring similar territory. Amazingly this runs the gamut from stuff like Roy Ayers, to Chris Bowden’s Time Capsule, or from Alice Coltrane to Ligeti.

And, like Woody Allen’s Zelig, I also want to try my own hand at composing some music in this territory. I think I may already have some recordings suited to being taken in this direction. Hmmm!? Yet more reasons to get my old home studio back up and running

But for now, my immediate ‘Jones’ is for listening to Axe’s incredible series of Capitol recordings. I’ve got them all as MP3 files, with the CD or Earth Rot (which arrived whilst Teresa and I were off, to Cardiff, for my sister Abbie’s wedding!) is the first to arrive in physical form.

As The Pointer Sisters famously sang, I’m so excited!

Media: Vine headphones!?

Check out these weird things!

I don’t usually allow my whoring for Amazon to sully my own blog, or even my occasional FB posts.

But I’m making a minor exception for these headphones ‘cause I really quite like them. In a way they’re nowt special. They’re just a pair of ‘sports headphones’. There are loads out there.

The ‘off axis’ design aspect, where they hook over one’s ears and have a headband at the rear of one’s noggin, not over the top of the cranium, I’ve seen before.

But what’s fresh for me, regarding these, is that they’re not in or over the ear, but rather ‘induction’ style: they sit slightly forward of one’s ears.

I’m not sure if there are two speakers per side, or poss even more? The main thing, however, is that they leave one’s lugs open and free.

Sometimes you want closed-back speakers, to block out the outer world. But at others, the ability to listen to music – or to take a phone call (these also do that) – and yet remain aware of one’s surroundings can be great.

These also feel almost invisible. I wore them all day today. Ordinary headphones, or even ear-buds, I’d take off when not listening to music. I felt comfy leaving these in situ.

I do t think these are super high quality. And I hope they’ll last a decent length of time. I.e. I’m afeared they might prove to be cheap tat! That’d be terrifically disappointing, as these rather suit me – not visually, necessarily (you be the judge!) – but user-friendliness wise.

Earlier the same day… a first fitting/try out.

In terms of audio quality there distinctly average, or plain ok. Neither horribly cheaply tinny, nor jaw-dropping my great. Just got for porpoise.

I don’t listen to music as much not as obsessively as I used to. But when I do listen, these may become my go to, for a while. And they’re good for fielding calls as well.

These were Amazon Vine freebies. I get them for nowt. But I have to leave a review on Amazon UK’s website. I get tons of stuff. Very rarely do I like summat enough to share it here. In fact this is, I think (?), a first.

I think they’re currently (at the time of posting) about £29-30. Everything seems expensive to me! But in real world terms, and at today’s prices, that neither. Wry cheap nor super expensive. I’m just chuffed mine were free!

Here’s a link to them.