Reg Presley Blues

The Troggs

The English singer and songwriter Reg Presley (above, far right) passed away last night at the age of 71. He was born Reginald Hall in the county of Hampshire in 1941 and became a bricklayer upon leaving school. In 1964, he formed a band called The Troglodytes, lopped a couple of syllables off his first name and took on the alias of a contemporary American rock & roller for his surname. The band’s title also became monosyllabic, just as the music they would make remains amongst the most primitive ever committed to vinyl. The Kinks’ manager, Larry Page, signed The Troggs in 1965 and the group released Lost Girl as their first (unsuccessful) single the following year

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Run For Cover

This week, The Guardian asked its readers to nominate their worst album sleeves and you can see the ones that made the final list here. Surprisingly, the one above didn’t make the final cut, but some truly awful covers did. I agreed with most of the choices, though I was surprised to see The White Album by The Beatles on the list. It’s certainly as simple a cover as you can get, but I think it’s become one of the most iconic sleeves in rock music. In fact, it made it to number three on a list of BEST album covers published by Rolling Stone magazine in 1991. The top five of that list also contains my two favourite albums by The Rolling Stones and my third favourite album by that band begins a list of six of my own least favourite album covers

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Time Is On My Side

Last week it was Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday and today it’s the turn of Charlie Watts. Here are four covers of songs by the Stones where Charlie’s drumming was to the fore on the originals. Next up is Murray Lachlan Young’s paranoid though hilarious tale about an encounter with Charlie and his band. He’s followed by the Stones’ version of Barrett Strong’s well-known song before a crowd called Antihero finish up with their tune about the even more renowned logo of Jagger’s lips that has adorned tons of t-shirts down the years. Happy birthday, Charlie

Out of Time (Rolling Stones cover) – The Ramones Acid Eaters (1993)

19th Nervous Breakdown (Rolling Stones cover) – 5678s 19th Nervous Breakdown 7″ (2004)

Paint It, Black (Rolling Stones cover) – Echo & the Bunnymen People Are Strange 7″ (1987)

Tumbling Dice (Rolling Stones cover) – Diesel Park West Uncut Gimme Shelter Volume One (2002)

I’m Being Followed by the Rolling Stones – Murray Lachlan Young Vice & Verse (1997)

Money (That’s What I Want) (Barrett Strong cover) – The Rolling Stones The Rolling Stones EP (1964)

Rolling Stones T-Shirt – Antihero Rolling Stones T-Shirt 7″ (2002)

New Adventures in Babysitting

I’m the proud uncle of two little nephews whose ages are three years apart, but still don’t reach double figures even when you add them together. Being boys, they’re both full of energy and love doing stuff like cycling, running, trampolining, and playing football. I enjoy visiting them and, of course, joining in the fun and games with them. Last month, I acted as their babysitter for the first time. I must admit that I was a little apprehensive about looking after them for a whole day and about trying to keep them amused for hours on end. I needn’t have worried as they were very well-behaved all day and it was the two of them who kept me amused. I’m on my way now to look after them again tonight. So, I’ve chosen a few tunes about babysitters and babysitting beginning with a song by The Ramones in which the narrator looks forward to a night spent with his girlfriend while she’s babysitting. The protagonist of Dar William’s song looks back fondly on a childhood babysitter, while the girl employed by Betty Wright looks like she may be seeking new employment before too long. This one goes out to Sean and Patrick and all the future babysitters tasked with the pleasure of looking after them

Babysitter – The Ramones

The Babysitter’s Here – Dar Williams

The Babysitter – Betty Wright

Happy 60th, Tom!

Tom Waits turns sixty today and I think it’s fair to say that there’s life in the old dog yet. I first came across his music when I heard Bruce Springsteen’s version of Tom’s song, Jersey Girl. I liked the lyrics and the melody and it wasn’t long before I picked up a tape of his Big Time live album in a bargain bin. I must admit that I was quite flummoxed by the sounds that I heard. The instrumentation was unusual and it sounded like pots and pans were being used instead of regular percussive instruments. I was also a bit thrown back by the sound of his voice. The guttural roar that I heard sounded like a combination of someone who had been chain-smoking for years who had come down with a heavy cold after being on the lash for a few weeks. I played it a few times but I couldn’t get into it. Then, I bought a couple of his earlier albums and I was equally surprised by the comparative smoothness of his earlier singing style. The music was more conventional as well and the influence of blues, jazz and country on his earlier albums was apparent. As the years progressed, his voice became more gravelly and the music became less conventional, but it also become far more interesting. I still like some of his early songs but it’s his albums from the last few decades that I now prefer
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