Category Archives: Music

Duncan’s Ditty of the day #3

Number 3 in an occasional series.

No, I didn’t die. But my computer did. And I’m still as busy elsewhere. This month I have two targets:

  1. I want to lay down some thoughts about truth – why truth is objective and why it is intrinsically important.
  2. I want to expound some more thoughts on Christianity and my personal history.

Hopefully I’ll get the time.

Meantime as a filler, here’s the latest ditty.

As I said I discovered the blues by accident, by picking up a Duane Allman compilation. As a result I became the Allman Brothers’ biggest British fan for a while. But they were unable to maintain their excellence after Duane passed away. The album Win, Lose or Draw was released to universal derision and one review compared them unfavourably to Little Feat, calling the latter a “real American rock band”. What was I to do? I went out and bought Dixie Chicken – one of my better decisions.

It’s hard to categorise Little Feat. They took in everything and came out with something unique. They were truly American without really falling into the limitations of any American genre. I saw them in Manchester in 1976, supporting the Doobie Brothers, and to this day it’s one of the two most awesome musical experiences of my life.

They had two major advantages. Firstly, keyboard maestro Billy Payne and secondly, for my money the world’s most talented musician – the top slide guitar player, a superb songwriter with the sweetest voice – I present the late Lowell George and Little Feat.

35 years later I still listen to this stuff…

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Duncan’s Ditty of the Day

Number 2 in an occasional series.

Staying with the epiphany theme, it’s true that something can be around years, and either you don’t appreciate it at the time, or never got round to listening. An example of the former is Johnny Cash, always looked on as a figure of fun until one day I sat and listened to American Recordings and realised what I’d been missing.

An example of the latter is modern Jazz. I’d heard of Miles Davis and Charlie Parker, Thelonius Monk and Charles Mingus but never took the time to find out more. This was a bit short-sighted from a self-confessed blues fan. Someone I worked with introduced me to Stanley Clarke and Rahsan Roland Kirk, and although I wasn’t mightily impressed it did encourage me to work backwards in time. I think that a lot of jazz is overly middle-of-the-road, and on the first audible sound of the vibes I’m out the door. But when I first heard John Coltrane I knew what it was about.

I would post A Love Supreme, but it’s a bit too long for the purpose of this exercise. Still, give it a listen when time permits.


Duncan’s Ditty of the Day

Number 1 in an occasional series.

There are some things that after they’ve been seen or heard, life is never quite the same. The posts “Totaalvoetbal” and “The Truth About Catalonia” are about that. Obviously personal events like getting married (or divorced?) or having children also fall into that category. But for me the majority are musical. So I intend to instigate an occasional little series around musical events that changed me – albeit imperceptibly, perhaps –¬† forever.

People of my age and gender missed the Beatles, the British Blues Boom and the hippies of the Sixties, unaware that we were only a heartbeat away from the “progressive” era, and grew up exposed to the Zeppelin – Purple – Sabbath triumvirate. All well and good. Of course there was some other good stuff around – Eric Clapton, tired of the “God” moniker and his membership of “supergroups”, sought¬† anonymity among some American musicians, eventually emerging as a (ordinary?) member of Derek and the Dominos. The album Layla and Other Love Stories still sounds good today, despite it’s apparent genesis in a drug-induced haze.

One day, as I was browsing a local record store, I came across, quite by chance, an album called Duane Allman – an Anthology. I’d heard of, but not heard, the Allman Brothers Band at that time, and knew that they were huge in America. I also knew that Allman had died in an accident. That was the sum total of my knowledge. But Layla was on there, and it turned out that Allman had played on the album, although not an official member of Derek and the Dominos. So I bought it.

There were four sides. At the end of side 1 was an old blues classic that Allman had recorded under his own name – Goin’ Down Slow. I’d never heard it before, but apparently it’s very much a blues standard. The best known recording was that of Chester Burnett (Howlin’ Wolf) but anybody who is anybody seems to have recorded it at sometime. This includes Huey Lewis, and the mind boggles to think what that must sound like.

Never mind, it was the Allman version I heard. He had a passable voice, even though he didn’t sing in his own band. And the Les Paul…This song taught me the sheer power of the blues and I’ve never forgotten it. It introduced me to the great bluesmen of the deep south – Muddy Waters, Bukka White, Albert King, Robert Johnson – and their imitators – Clapton, Peter Green, Stevie Ray Vaughan et al. If anyone plays this video, I recommend they turn the volume up.