Penguin Cafe Orchestra

Broadcasting From Home

Penguin Cafe Orchestra – Broadcasting From Home

A little while ago a musical hero of mine, Martin “Youth” Glover released a list. Youth is a legendary, versatile, creative musician with Killing Joke and other bands as well as a sought after producer and remixer, a record label owner, a creator of abstract drawings and now curator of the Space Mountain Festival. You can see why I continue to be amazed by this guy.  His list of Top 10 Albums To Get High To surprised me as only 50% of those records were in my collection. While getting high is not my thing (just my personal preference) I had to discover the music being suggested by such an influential source. I have already posted about The Damned’s release Damned Damned DamnedAlice Coltrane’s album Journey In Satchindananda and Lee “Scratch” Perry’s Upsetters’ record Super Ape and today we have Penguin Cafe Orchestra’s Broadcasting From Home.

PCO was created by Simon Jeffs in 1974 and the band remained active until his death in 1997. Eventually Jeffs’ son formed a similar band called Penguin Orchestra that performs his fathers music as well as new compositions. Broadcasting From Home is the band’s third or fourth album, depending on how you count their 1983 self titled mini-album. Released in 1984 Broadcasting contains arguably their most well known song, “Music For A Found Harmonium”. This track was composed on a pump organ that Jeffs found discarded in an alleyway while visiting Japan. The song has been widely covered, used in movies and advertising and was even remixed by The Orb.,

Immediately upon listening I am struck by the familiar yet bizarre sound of their music. It is obvious they have had a profound influence on all manner of instrumental composition, especially soundtrack scoring. The immediate connection I can make is that of Philip Glass as Broadcasting From Home is full of minimalist cycling and looping sounds that do not build or dissipate in a manner traditional music has trained us to expect them to do.  Penguin Cafe Orchestra seems to be equal parts classical, folk, new age, avant garde experimental and jazz, a truly beautiful combination of sources and influences with no one particular style winning out. The end result is a recording that while so different from the immediate world of pop and everyday music is so readily accessible and enjoyable it almost betrays its own esthetic as challenging and groundbreaking composition. What a revelation this little list from Youth has been. I am excited to see what the final installment brings.

Penguin Cafe (Simon Jeff’s Son’s band) Website
Penguin Cafe on Facebook
Penguin Cafe on Twitter
Penguin Cafe on Instagram

Broadcasting From Home from Amazon
Broadcasting From Home from iTunes
Broadcasting From Home on Spotify

The Damned

Damned Damned Damned

img_6444The Damned – Damned Damned Damned

Embarrassing to admit but I didn’t already own this album. Its so amazing and classic I should be ashamed. And I wouldn’t have been moved to pick this up if not for the wisdom of Martin “Youth” Glover. I have already posted about Alice Coltrane’s album Journey In Satchindananda and Lee “Scratch” Perry’s Upsetters’ record Super Ape, both of which I discovered via a list of Youth’s Top 10 Albums To Get High To. I only had half of the discs on the list and that just wouldn’t do so I now also have The Damned’s Damned Damned Damned.

I was introduced to The Damned upon the release of their 1985 Phantasmagoria album. It seems The Damned and I went through our Goth phase at about the same time and I was crazy about them. I then picked up their 1979 album Machine Gun Etiquette, which was much more raw, aggressive and punky than my belovedly dark Phantasmagoria. I liked it but I kind of quit exploring their catalog after that. Big mistake on my part.

Damned Damned Damned, recorded and released in 1979, produced by the legendary Nick Lowe, is quite simply a punk classic, often referred to as the first punk album (predating the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind The Bullocks by almost a year). For those of you who might not like the lax musical approach punk often adopts, do not let that deter you here. This record contains some fantastic musicianship, hilariously clever writing and top notch production. Its a great rock and roll record first and foremost and also a very fun/funny one. It belongs in the collection of anyone who loves music and I’m glad its now in mine.

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The Damned Website
The Damned on Facebook
The Damned on Twitter
The Damned on Instagram

Damned Damned Damned from Amazon
Damned Damned Damned from iTunes
Damned Damned Damned on Spotify

The Upsetters

Super Ape

img_6447The Upsetters – Super Ape

A couple of days ago I posted an Alice Coltrane CD that I got turned on to through a list of Top 10 Albums To Get High To which was created by Youth (getting high isn’t my thing but when this guy speaks I listen). Youth is the bassist of Killing Joke, producer of albums by Peter Murphy and Echo And The Bunnymen, remixer of songs by Depeche Mode and U2 and co-founder of the WAU! Mr. Modo record label (just to name a few of his accomplishments, can you tell I admire the hell out of this man?). I was struck by the fact that I only owned half of the albums on the list, so in true In The Mail Today style, I fixed part of that problem by ordering Super Ape by The Upsetters.

The Upsetters were the in-house studio band for legendary musical pioneer, performer and producer Lee “Scratch” Perry. Over almost a decade this revolving door lineup group released around a dozen albums under the guidance and production of Perry. The Upsetters as a band, along with Perry as a producer are reggae giants and dub music founders. Many of the Upsetters band members came from Gladdy’s All Star Band and some departed to join Bob Marley And The Wailers. This is an impressive list of genre developers and style creators. I am very familiar with much of Lee Scratch Perry’s later dub work and love his collaborations with The Orb (as The Orbserver), Bill Laswell, The Mad Professor and Adrian Sherwood. I already had a number of those CDs but owned nothing by The Upsetters and boy was I in for a treat.

Super Ape was released in the summer of 1976, towards the end of the first wave of dub’s popularity, which had begun in the early ’70s. Looking back on the album from today’s perspective some of the tracks feel less heavily dub and more straight reggae with extended echo on the vocal. But others have a fantastic classic long wash of reverb with tons of focus on sweet heavy walking bass lines. The opening track Zion’s Blood and the female fronted song Underground have astounding slow dub melodies filled with spaced-out delay creating perfect head-bobbing rhythms. The current release of Super Ape is an expanded edition that includes 3 extra songs that are not even printed on the track listing or mentioned anywhere in the packaging. The horns on these additional gems are much brighter and more pronounced in the mix than on the other tracks and provide a nice variation. Thanks again to Martin Glover for wising me up to da riddim of The Upsetters!

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Lee Scratch Perry on Facebook
Lee Scratch Perry on Twitter
Lee Scratch Perry on Instagram

Super Ape from Amazon
Super Ape from iTunes
Super Ape on Spotify

Alice Coltrane

Journey In Satchidananda

img_6438Alice Coltrane – Journey In Satchidananda

Recently one of my greatest musical heroes of all time, Martin Glover published a list. Martin is better known as Youth and is a legendary bassist, producer, record label founder and remixer who has worked with everyone from Paul McCartney and Pink Floyd to, of course, Killing Joke and The Orb. The list he released was his Top 10 Albums To Get High To. While I prefer my music listening (and life) more on the sober side, Youth’s legacy and influence is not to be denied and I felt any album he loved to listen to was worth checking out. On reading the list I was shocked that I only owned half of them. I immediately acquired the other 5 of which this is a favorite.

Alice Coltrane was a classical and jazz pianist who rose to stardom in the mid-’60s working with John Coltrane, eventually becoming his wife. After John’s death Alice continued as a successful solo artist into the late ’70s. Her work stretched the concepts of what jazz music was, redefining it as style without limit, fusing it into a world music tableau.

Journey In Satchidananda dates to late 1970. While definitely a jazz record it is so influenced by Middle Eastern, African and Indian music it is hard to not consider it as being more in the world music genre. The sounds can only be described as a dream inducing whirlwind, forceful yet peaceful, familiar yet otherworldly. Harps pluck and run, chimes and bells ring, all accompanied by traditional jazz instruments as harmonic vibrations swirl around your ear. This is definitely an amazing audio journey perfect for 2:00am adventures or even a lazy Sunday morning.

So thank you to Youth, not only for his own music but for continuing to educate me through sharing of his own personal favorites. This one is a treasure and there will be more to come.

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Alice Coltrane on Facebook
Alice Coltrane Website

Alice Coltrane on Spotify
Alice Coltrane on iTunes
Journey In Satchidananda from Amazon