Sunday, April 28, 2013

Les Sauterelles - Today - #129

Les Sauterelles - Today

There was a band in Switzerland in the 60's,who could easily have taken on the Beatles. And that's what they were called by their fans and by the press, the Swiss Beatles. They were ploughing the Pop field, and they did it very good. A string of hits, mainly in their native country and then, whooosh, they disintegrated. They left a mark in the history of Pop and some bandmembers carrying on in other bands or solo. The most remarkable is certainly Krokodil. But one went solo and since the very early 70's, this guy is a sort of fairytale uncle, grinning into every camera available, strumming his guitar and delivering his singer/songwriter material that's close to children's lullabys.

I mean, I like the old Les Sauterelles, I'm also with Krokodil, but if I see this Toni Vescoli guy once more, I'm jumping out of the window. Ground floor only, don't get me wrong! Some 40 years after the fact, this band has the nerve to release a new album (on CD, LP and DL). What I really really don't need from 70+ years old blokes is a rehash of their youth. What do we get on this album? The most tiresome old Popmusic you can imagine. Phil Collins is a rocker compared to these guys. Everything sounds like it's been eaten already thrice.

The funny thing is, yesterday afternoon, I went to one of my regular dealers, to stock up on some records. There he is, showing me proudly the LP version of "Today" and playing the thing on the inhouse deck. Some other customers present and, believe me, they were all of the age, of having heard Les Sauterelles, and admired them, the first time around, the remarks came flying and I kid you not, there was not a positive statement. When one of them remarked about Toni Vescoli's zurichois English, I was grinning from ear to ear. This is so provincial, Les Sauterelles were never the spearhead of the farmers union. They seem to be now. I don't understand how old men can damage their legacy so completely. Shut up in your rocking chair and let the past undisturbed. This release gets a mention as the most redundant album of the year. No, make this of the century.



Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Big Figure's Drum Kit For Sale - #128

Big Figure's Drum Kit For Sale

This is an interesting one. Big Figure's drum kit is for sale on one of the largest auction platforms on the internet. That's GB£ 10'000.00 to me and you. Or you can make an offer, if your pockets are not quite so deep. No questions, this is a piece of history, but I believe Dr. Feelgood fans are a couple of leagues below Beatles or Rolling Stones collectors in monetary terms. Not that it wouldn't be worth it, but if the Big Figure actually accepts a counteroffer, this will be less than 50 % of the current asking price. That's just a guess, but the way the market is going for Dr. Feelgood memorabilia, I don't see the current owner making a killing with this kit. Sold "due to retirement"? Don't count me in! But it's very tempting to say the least!



Monday, April 1, 2013

Wilko Johnson - Recent Articles In The Press (Update) - #127

Wilko Johnson - Recent Articles In The Press (Update)

You always wanted to know how to play like Wilko Johnson? Here's your chance, GuitarTechniques magazine #216 (Spring 2013) has three pages on our man. Apparently, you must have an easy/moderate ability to follow this. But best is "I'd advise you take a look at Wilko's playing on YouTube. If he stands still for one second you'll get the opportunity to see just how freely he mixes up strumming, picking, plucking and a whole host of other exciting bangs and bashes.".

The CD, that comes with the magazine, has a handful of Wilko samples to offer. Don't expect anything like an extended solo or the like, this is all very brief. But the item is going into my collection as a curio. The only drawback is, that GuitarTechnique is rather expensive. A cover price of UK£ 5.50 (US$ 15.99) is not exactly on the cheap side. The equivalent I paid for this at the newsstand is in Euros around 17.00



Steve Hooker - Smokin' Guitar - #126

Steve Hooker - Smokin' Guitar

The new CD from Steve Hooker (aka the Stripped Down Stomping Band) is quite remarkable, in that, of the eight tracks on offer here, four are instrumentals. I don't know wether one can expect this from Steve Hooker, but it makes the title of this release spot on. The CD clocks in at just below the half hour mark and again, I rather have 30 minutes of class A stuff, than 70 minutes of reheated fourth row musicianship. But with Steve Hooker there's no danger of that.

This is a slice of trademark Steve Hooker. I mean, he's not exactly reinventing the wheel, but then, I don't expect him to do. I'm pretty sure, if he would, I couldn't take him seriously anymore. But that's no surprise, one really expects new releases from certain artists to stick to their roots. Or at least what you consider their roots are. Seven of the eight tracks are Steve Hooker originals and the eighth is probably one as well, I'm not sure, as it says "Foxx C And I". The track is "Mocking Bird", and if I'm not completely mistaken, can be found on an earlier two track release (this is somewhere on my shelfs, but I would have to move a ton of records to get to it, so no checking there), although this here is an alternate version.

The music is, of course, the typical Steve Hooker Rockabilly/Rock mix. Kind of modern and not so much the retro stuff. Although I'm fine with both variations. Back to the four instrumentals, which, I think, suit his style very well and at least for me, are the highlights of this album. I'm not picking one over the other, but for the introduction to the CD alone, I have to give special points to "Wolf Farm (Grange Aux Loups)". And also for this heavy beat and well defined rhythm, this is very recommended, especially if you come from the same corner as myself (musically speaking).

Wether you buy "Smokin' Guitar" or not is, naturally, up to you, but you could really do worse than shelling out your hard earned cash for this release. This is an album you'll go back listening to and enjoying it. The cover is reminiscent of this French cigarette brand. Good job, but if it were for me, I would have used the backside for the cover (pun intended). Released on Pimphouse CD1. It might not be available in every record shop, but if you ask your brick and mortar outlet dealer nicely, he/she's going to order it for you. Alternatively, you can also get this from Steve's website at