Splash FM Website of the Day, 1st August 2005. Be Impressed.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Jeff Buckley – Everybody Here Wants You.

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In early ’97 Jeff Buckley was struggling to write and record the follow-up to his 1994 debut, ‘Grace’, in the face of public anticipation and record company pressure. By this time he had already spent the best part of a year attempting to write songs but had come up against a lengthy period of writers block. He embarked on a series of low key solo slots in an attempt to recreate his Sin-e days and the songs began to come slowly. Recording sessions were set up with Television’s Tom Verlaine producing and a number of songs were recorded for an album provisionally titled ‘My Sweetheart the Drunk’. However, the sessions fell apart and the tracks were shelved.

After this, Buckley’s writers block lifted (he apparently had about 30 songs ready) and sessions were scheduled for 30th June with ‘Grace’ producer Andy Wallace.

On May 29th Buckley and a friend were lost in Memphis trying to find the rehearsal studio. They gave up the search and went down to hang out on the banks of the Mississippi. Buckley decided to go for a swim in the notoriously unpredictable river fully clothed including heavy boots; a decision which mitigates any description of him as a ‘genius’. His body was not found until 4th June.

‘Everybody Here Wants You’ was one of the tracks that came out of the sessions with Tom Verlaine. Previously to this Buckley had always shined brightest on cover versions (you can download a few of the rarer ones here) but this track is his most successful composition. It’s a song brimming with sexual tension. He also sounds more like his father, Tim Buckley, than ever before. Jeff was never comfortable with this comparison. As evidenced in an interview with Mark Radcliffe on BBC Radio 1:

Radcliffe: “Your dad sang with the same sense of abandon.”
Buckley: “Well he abandoned me.”
Radcliffe: “…[uncomfortable silence]… Fair enough.”

Jeff Buckley – Everybody Here Wants You (link fixed)

Watch the video

Buy Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Kylie Minogue – Did It Again

1997 was slap bang in the middle of Kylie’s lost years. Since leaving Stock, Aitkin and Waterman 1992 and signing with deConstruction she had been searching for credibility (“I’ve got a second name, you know.”) and fumbling around for her own style; recording everything from dark disco-pop (‘Confide In Me’) to murder ballads (‘Where the Wild Roses Grow’ with Nick Cave). The 1997 album ‘Impossible Princess’ continued this trend.

The first single from the album, ‘Some Kind of Bliss’, was co-written with the Manic Street Preachers. It sees Kylie moving into decidedly unfamiliar indie-rock anthem territory (a sound with which fellow Neighbours alumnus Natalie Imbruglia was having great success at the time). It wasn’t the first song the Manics had written for Kylie. They originally intended Kylie to sing on ‘Little Baby Nothing but, unsurprisingly, Kylie didn’t show and had to be replaced with porn “star” Traci Lords. Unfortunately, Kylie’s vocals on ‘Some Kind of Bliss’ sound very similar to those of Lords. Her thin, reedy voice was never going to make her a rock star and the single limped into the charts at number 22.

Most of Impossible Princess, including today’s track, was co-written with the Brothers of Rhythm Steve Anderson and Dave ‘Not That Dave Seaman’ Seaman. ‘Did It Again’, the second single from the album, tones down the rock sound with a drum machine and wobbly keyboard and as a result it performed slightly better and reached number 16.

The release of the album itself was held back after the death of Princess Diana with the spurious excuse that some may find the title ‘Impossible Princess’ offensive. It seems more likely that it was due to the poor chart performance of the singles. However, the delayed release didn’t do much for sales and Kylie parted ways with deConstruction in 1998.

Although ‘Impossible Princess’ was Kylie’s least successful album commercially there are still some bright spots. The heavy breathing, spoken word ‘Too Far’ and the trippy, spacey album version of ‘Breathe’ firmly point the way to the records which would again take her to the top of the pop tree.

Kylie Minogue – Did It Again

Buy Impossible Princess

Read about breast cancer

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Supergrass - Richard III

Supergrass, as my good friend Rhian Coggin once claimed, are everybody's second-favourite band. The boys are currently on tour round the UK, preceding what will be their fifth studio album - not bad going really. They've been going in excess of a decade now (celebrated by last year's singles collection - Supergrass is 10) and they're showing no signs of stopping.

So, because I feel like it, here's one of the tracks, a single, no less, from their hit 1997 album 'In It For The Money', five tracks of which made it onto the aforementioned compilation.

Richard III

It's still Supergrass-catchy, just in a darker, hard-driven rock way. The general idea of 'In It For The Money' was to sound different and more developed compared to the first album. This track manages to be one of the least like 'Alright' that Supergrass have ever done yet both songs peaked at 2, the band's highest ever chart position. Talking of 'Alright' - it was omitted from their setlist when I saw them on this current tour.

Buy In It For The Money
Supergrass is 10
Children Of The Monkey Basket

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Katrina and the Waves – Love Shine A Light.

Warning: No mp3.
Warning: Post liable to befuddle non-Europeans.

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Britain has won the Eurovision Song Contest just once in the last quarter of a century. Bet you can’t guess what year it was.

After 15 years without a win and a disappointing 4th place in 1996 for the quite frankly brilliant Ooh Ahh (Just a Little Bit) by Gina G, the UK’s Eurovision nabobs were getting desperate. The task of finding a potential winner fell to Eurovision Music Executive and celebrity paedophile Jonathan King. To ensure that the public voted for the right song in the Great British Song Contest the field was restricted to four songs – three of which were entirely rubbish. Even so Katrina and the Waves only narrowly beat, and I’m not making this up, Yodel in the Canyon of Love by Do Re Me and Kerry (if anyone knows what “yodellin’ the canyon of love” is a euphemism for please leave a comment).

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Love Shine a Light (written by Waves guitarist and former Soft Boy Kimberley Rew) was a big, cheesy, banner waving anthem with some of the most vomit-inducingly naff lyrics ever heard: “Love shine a light, in every corner of my dreams/Let the love light carry, let the love light carry/Like the mighty river, flowing from the stream”. Naturally, it set the record for highest points scored ever with a total of 227.

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1997’s recipient of a big fat nul points was Tor Endresen; Norway’s answer to Bill Haley (and the rest of Europe’s answer to “when’s the best time to nip to the bog?”). In true Serge Gainsbourg style France was represented by a 17 year old girl called Fanny.

To get us in the Eurovision mood here’s some Wogan style foreigner piss-taking.

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Clockwise from top left:

Paul Oscar (Iceland) “That bastard Gary Numan’s nicked my act.”
Kolig Kag (Denmark) - Blimey, Su Pollard’s let herself go.
Bianca Shomburg (Germany) – Bird or bloke?
Blond (Sweden) – 1985 called. They want their haircuts back.

Photos (and some jokes) cribbed from TV & Radio Bits.

As a reward for reaching the end of this post here’s a little Spiritualized remix action:

Spiritualized – I Think I’m in Love (Chemical Brothers vocal remix)

Found via Totally Fuzzy

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Wannadies – Hit

The Wannadies are almost solely remembered for the insanely catchy/annoying You and Me Song. That’s a shame because they have a way with a pop tune and have released a number of fine singles.

The band formed back in 1988 with the intention of playing one gig - a festival in support of the Nicaraguan Sandinistas. They decided to make it permanent and had some success in Sweden but it was not until the 1994 album Be A Girl, and You and Me song in particular, that they went international.

Be A Girl had a difficult birth. Original producer Dagge Lunquist went on paternity leave (PATernity leave? Those crazy Scandos) the next month engineer Adam Kviman and replacement producer Micke Herrström both left due to hearing problems. But persistence paid off and they completed the album; the first they were happy with. The band were picked up by UK label Indolent, set out on a sell out tour and released the song they would forever be associated with.

The band themselves seem to have accepted that You and Me Song was it for them. They managed to release that song, in one form or another, four years running. First in Sweden in 1994 as a single and on Be A Girl. In 1995 Be A Girl was released in the UK. In 1996 the single was re-released in the UK (reaching number 18 in the charts). In 1997 it appeared on their follow-up album, Bagsy Me, and again on the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack. Cha ching.

There is also more than a hint of resignation to their fate on the song Hit. Despite the sprightly guitars and shouty chorus, there is a definite sense of deflation in Pär Wiksten’s voice as he sings lines like “Calling this a hit/I don’t deserve it.”

The Wannadies – Hit

Buy Bagsy Me

On this day in 1997 – Blur beat The Levellers in the final of the Music Industry Soccer Six tournament.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Spiritualized – Ladies and Gentleman…/Electricity.

Spiritualized’s 1997 album Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space (or LAGWAFIS as the kids call it) doesn’t come up on greatest ever albums list as often as OK Computer and Urban Hymns but it caused just as much of a stir at the time. It even beat these albums to top the NME’s albums of the year list.

Spiritualized took shape during the breakdown of Jason ‘J Spaceman’ Pierce’s previous band Spacemen 3. By 1990 Pierce and Pete Kembler were no longer talking and the album Recurring was made Outkast style with the two men’s tracks being recorded independently and stapled together. To no one’s surprise the band broke up shortly afterwards. Spiritualized initially featured many of the musicians who had recorded Recurring and had an unsteady line up for many years. By 1997 the core of Spiritualized had settled as Pierce, bassist Sean Cook and Kate ‘Mrs Richard Ashcroft’ Radley.

LAGWAFIS is one of the classic break-up albums (Pierce had recently split from Kate Radley) shifting between songs of heartbreak and songs of redemption. Despite the gospel flavour of the album this redemption comes not through God but through self-medication. Even the album’s artwork and liner notes are a parody of packet of pills. Among other warnings, we are told that the album is “for aural administration only” - presumably for the benefit of those considering using the CD as a suppository. The bands love of drugs references reached its natural climax in November 1997 when they played the ‘world’s highest gig’ at the top of the CN Tower in Toronto.

LAGWAFIS kicks off in a mellow fashion with the title track. The song uses overlapping vocal lines (a trick also used by The Beta Band at the time) to create a sense of disorientation which continues throughout the album – particularly in its many white noise sections.

Electricity is a full-on rocker and the band certainly sound like they were wired when recording it. Here they reject the old Status Quo three chord trick for being hopelessly over-wrought and stick with one chord for the entire song (G for those of you taking notes). This track reminds me of the high tempo, high octane gospel one-chord vamps intended to produce spiritual rapture in the congregation. If you don’t know what I’m talking about go to iTunes and download Thank Ya’ by The Campbell Brothers. It’ll be the best 79p you ever spent.

Spritualized – Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space

Spiritualized – Electricity

Buy Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space

Parish Notices.

A hearty ‘how do’ to all The Guide readers and apologies to anyone expecting “a fantastic blog”. The Guardian’s Corrections and Clarifications editor has been notified.

You can hear Steve ‘Lamo’ Lamacq talk to Richard ‘Chuckles’ Ashcroft about the recording of Urban Hymns on BBC6 Music Plays It Again (look in the right hand column).

In all the excitement of OK Computer week I blithely assumed everyone already owned a copy and failed to provide a link to buy the album. Buy OK Computer.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

OK Computer Week: Radiohead For The Pianoforte

You'd think that the sheer intricate detail of a typical Radiohead song would be impossible to recreate on a solo piano. Many have tried to recreate the effect, with different approaches and different levels of success.

Classical pianist Christopher O'Riley is well-known for his Radiohead covers. Of course, there's no vocal, so the piano is required to carry the tune, making each song accompaniment sometimes seem a little limited.

Then there is my good friend, Mary Bichner. Although it's no longer updated, her website, Radiohead For The Pianoforte contains two OK Computer themed transcriptions, both done by hand, one being the robotic, heavily criticised, track 'Fitter Happier'. Interesting anecdotes and observations from both Thom Yorke and Mary can be found, along with the score and a midi file, here.

Aside from this oddity, there is also an arrangement of the live 'Karma Police' duet with Thom on a Baby Grand and Jonny on a Rhodes Organ. Here you can also find various soundblips of what were once works in progress of other tracks on the album. I can only say it would have been great to see these as full scores.

OK Computer Week: Hard ‘n Phirm – Rodeohead.

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I’ll finish on a track everyone’s heard before. Radiohead done bluegrass style – ace. I wonder if Chas ‘n Dave could be convinced to do a Radiohead medley.

Hard ‘N Phirm – Rodeohead.

Another album that doesn’t seem to be available in the UK. Import Horses and Grasses on CD Baby.

Visit Hard 'n Phirm

That’s your lot from me this week. I hope you enjoyed it. Back to business as usual next week (i.e. a lazy one track a week) with Spiritualized.

OK Computer Week: Maroon – The Tourist.

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Radiohead’s musical complexity, critical acclaim and commercial success make them the number one choice for jazzers looking to shift a few units. Luckily, this track is a cut above the Jamie Cullum/Michael Bublè types.

Maroon were formed in Brooklyn in 2000 by singer Hillary Maroon and pianist Benny Lackner. These core members are joined by a number of musicians from New York’s avant-garde scene – most notably guitarist Marc Ribot (Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Lounge Lizards). They cover many contemporary rock songs (including an interesting version of Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun) and make a good job of it by avoiding changing them into Brat Pack style jazz songs – keeping more in tune with the original while bringing their own sound to it.

This version of The Tourist manages to be even slower and more languid than the original perfect for a Sunday morning hangover. What makes it less relaxing to me is the association it has in my mind with the hoax 9/11 tourist guy photo. Even though it’s an obvious fake it’s a memorable and shocking image.

Maroon – The Tourist
Unfortunately, this mp3 cuts out after about 5 minutes. If you want the whole thing you’ll have to buy it.

Who the Sky Betrays doesn’t seem to be available in the UK try visiting Head Fulla Brains to order it.

Friday, May 06, 2005

OK Computer Week: Warren Haynes – Lucky.

I have to admit I know very little about Warren Haynes and this track does little to inspire me to find out more. This is the sum total of my knowledge:

- He was in the reformed version of The Allman Brothers.
- He’s in a band called Gov’t Mule that I’ve never heard.
- He has a voice that suggests he regularly gargles rusty spanners.

Radiohead originally recorded Lucky for the album HELP to raise money for the War Child charity. The album features many of the UK’s largest acts of the time (The Manics, Blur, Oasis, Salad) and was recorded in the space of a day. It was released later that week and instantly became the fastest selling album when it reached number one the next day.

War Child is pretty much alone in allowing you to support a charity while listening to great music – so do it. You can subscribe to War Child’s downloading service or buy individual tracks such as Radiohead performing Go To Sleep live. The EP also contains songs from Keane, Lucky Jim, Bloc Party and Tom Waits.
And, while you’re throwing money around to assuage your middle class guilt, make sure you pick up a copy of Andrew Holmes’ book 64 Clarke

Warren Haynes - Lucky

Buy Live at Bonnaroo

Thursday, May 05, 2005

OK Computer Week: The Mountain Goats – No Surprises.

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The Mountain Goats are one of the most determinedly lo-fi bands in existence. Most of their songs sound like they were recorded down a phone line – which was actually the case in a session recorded for WELH. The rest of their songs are recorded onto tape via a boom box. For many years they only released songs on tape.

The Mountain Goats is effectively singer/songwriter/guitarist John Darnielle. He is an unbelievably prolific songwriter. Bob Dylan is praised for never playing a song the same way twice; Darnielle rarely plays the same song twice. This can lead to a hit and miss catalogue but when he hits the spot, he really hits the spot. I’m particularly fond of his tales of youth and young manhood such as Dance Music, The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out Of Denton and Fall of the Star High School Running Back. He deserves and award just for the lines like “Selling acid was a bad idea/Selling it to a cop was a worse one” and “The best ever death metal band out of Denton/Never settled on a name/But the top three contenders, after weeks of debate/Were Satan’s Fingers and The Killers and The Hospital Bombers”.

This song was recorded for WFMU in 2000. You can hear the entire session along with the WELH phone session and a cracking Peel session here. It’s a straight forward, strumalong-a-Radiohead version of the song – which is only fitting for a song called No Surprises.

The Mountain Goats – No Surprises via so this is what the volume knob’s for

Visit themountaingoats.net

Totally Fuzzy has posted a link to these acoustic Radiohead songs including a version of Karma Police.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Kate Rogers – Climbing Up The Walls

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Climbing Up The Walls by Timothy McConnachie

There aren’t many Radiohead songs that you could describe as being sexy but this is one of them. Its sound owes a great deal to acts like Tricky and Portishead.

Kate Rogers made her name singing with Aim (on Sail and Girl Who Fell Through the Ice) and with Rae and Christian (on Not Just Anybody). The fact she is cousin to Rae and Christian member and Grand Central Records honcho Mark Rae is entirely coincidental.

Every review of Rogers’ debut album, St Eustacia, used that most hideous of four letter words – Dido. Rogers’ music is certainly in a similar vein and Dido also started her career singing in a relative’s dance band (brother Rollo’s band Faithless). But to be fair to Rogers, unlike Dido, she does have more character than a soggy draining board. She also has some high quality influences judging by the songs she has chosen on her recently released covers album, Seconds. Tracks include Big Mouth Strikes Again, Here Comes Your Man and – erm – Green Day’s Brain Stew. She even manages to make a decent attempt covering one of my favourite Radiohead songs.

The consensus opinion is that this song is about mental illness. I always thought it was about Thom Yorke’s penis and his repressed desires (feel free to leave a comment; I’d love to know your opinions on the matter). I’m often wrong about these things but my interpretation of this song added an extra dimension to hearing a woman sing it.

Kate Rogers – Climbing Up The Walls

Buy Seconds

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

OK Computer Week: The Bison Chips – Karma Police

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This a cappella version of Karma Police is from The Bison Chips’ Appalling and Ridiculous album. They said it, not me.

The album had some terrible reviews. You can read some vicious ones here (choice Cowell-esque quote “Very few groups excel in both studio work and live performance. As Appalling & Ridiculous proves, the Bison Chips do neither”). Given this I’m not going to be too harsh on them. I almost had you going there. God made the task of making fun of them all to easy. On their website they boast that they have boyish good looks. Well, maybe if that boy is Rick Astley. They look like what they are: a bunch of mechanical engineering studying, Klingon speaking, pasty faced nerds. See for yourself.

And then there’s the singing. I’m no Simon Cowell (for which I am eternally grateful) but even I can tell the tuning is all over the place. And the attempts at recreating the sounds of the instruments: Dum dum tish, chica chika, doo doo.

However, I have to admit that the ‘Phew for a minute…’ section, although far from perfect, is actually powerful and worth listening to the rest of the track for.

Bison Chips – Karma Police

Appalling and Ridiculous doesn’t seem to be available in the UK but you can buy it via iTunes.

OK Computer Week: UMass Drumline & Brad Mehldau.

UMass Drumline – Paranoid Android.

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My idea was to post cover versions in the order they appear on the album but I have again been thwarted by the inferior quality of my brain. I don’t know how I could have forgotten about this track by students at UMass (or The University of Massachusetts to us suspicious foreign types).

Credit has to go to UMass Drumline mainman (also called Thom – Thom Hannum) for the incredible arrangement. It’s almost enough for me to forgive them for playing at the inauguration of Ronald Regan (twice) and George W. Bush (in 2001) – almost.

UMass Front Percussion Ensemble – Paranoid Android from here

Visit UMass Drumline’s website

Brad Mehldau – Exit Music (For A Film)

On the other hand, I find Brad Mehldau much more forgettable. This track and his version of Paranoid Android have been doing the rounds on the audioblogs recently and Xanax Taxi did a much better write up than I could do (here and here).

You can watch a video for this and download other stuff on Mehldau’s website

Brad Mehldau – Exit Music (For A Film) via not for profit
Hint: add ".mp3" to the end of file name when saving.

Buy The Art of the Trio Vol.3

Monday, May 02, 2005

OK Computer Week: Scala – Exit Music (For a Film).

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The Scala Choir is composed of around 60 teenage Belgian girls and was formed in 1996 by brothers Steven and Stijn Kolacny. Their repertoire consists largely of reinterpretations of recent rock and pop songs. This sort of thing can often go horribly wrong. Witness the Vienna Boys Choir singing a reggae version of Nothing Compares to You. However, the Kolacny brothers know the right songs to choose and manage to avoid sounding stiff.

Unsurprisingly, this has lead to popularity among audioblogers. Most bloggers have focussed on the more incongruous songs covered such as I Touch Myself, Smells Like Teen Spirit and She Hates Me. However, I prefer the songs that sound like they were written to be sung by a choir (especially one consisting of teenage Belgians) such as Bittersweet Symphony, Rammstein's Engel(well, they make it sound like it was written for a choir) and, most impressively of all, this track.

Of all the covers posted this week this is the only one that beats the original. The “Now we are one” section gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. Just one more example of great music from Belgium.

The song was originally written for Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet and sticks close to the narrative. Thom Yorke’s original intention was to stick even more closely. He tried to write the songs lyrics using quotes from Shakespeare. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. Still, you have to wonder what it sounded like.

Scala – Exit Music (For A Film)

Buy Dream On

OK Computer Week: Glastonbury 1997 and Other Radiohead Gubbins.

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Like everything Radiohead did in 1997 their performance at Glastonbury is a regular poll topper. Even Glastonbury organiser Michael Eavis called it "the most inspiring festival gig in 30 years". Apparently, the gig was an absolute nightmare for the band – they couldn’t hear themselves play. It doesn’t show.

Download the show from not for profit (recently back online) here or get the video here (the last two links may require a bit of luck).

Here’s a pile of - mostly OKC related - Radiohead stuff culled from t’internet:

Multimedia stuff including unreleased songs, No Surprises with entirely different lyrics, OKC screensaver, icons - Green Plastic Radiohead.

not for profit has plenty of live stuff and rarities including this annoyingly designed page,.

A gig from 1996 including early versions of many OKC songs.

Acoustic performance for KROQ including Lucky and No Surprises.

OKC artwork

Radiohead cover Wonderwall apparently without ever having heard the song before.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

OK Computer Week: Peter Mulvey – Airbag.

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The 1st May 1997 saw the release of Radiohead’s OK Computer. An album regularly voted greatest album ever (most recently in a Channel 4 poll). So, to celebrate, this week will be dedicated to all things OK Computer: cover versions, live stuff, multimedia.

We kick off in the same way as the album does with Airbag – for anyone under the impression that all Radiohead songs are depressing.

It’s not easy to cover a Radiohead rocker on a single acoustic guitar and retain the elements of the original but on this track Peter Mulvey manages it on this track.

Mulvey is a one man advertisement for spending 10 hour days busking on the Boston subway. His time busking has given him a direct songwriting style, a clear, resonant guitar technique and a penchant for cover versions (his take on Gillian Welch’s Caleb Meyer is well worth checking out). He evidently has a fondness for his days busking as he recreates the sound of the underground on this track with jangling change, a quick ‘thanks’ and the sound of a train screeching to a halt.

There is little doubt that it is Mulvey’s guitar playing that is the star of this track and pretty much everything that he has recorded. He manages to fuse the previously alien genres of funk and folk and plays with great virtuosity. He also uses a huge array of guitar tunings (listed here for those of you wishing to experiment at home). Although, according to his website, “I only play in about seventeen different tunings, and the rest are simply transpositions of them”. Quite what the word ‘only’ is doing in that sentence I don’t know.

I think this solo version of the song is very effective and enhances its ‘one man against the world’ stance.

Peter Mulvey – Airbag.

Buy Signature Sounds 10th Anniversary Collection.