Friday, February 29, 2008

Basement Crates: 32

Rakim: It's The R (Island, 1999)
I only went downstairs to find a phone number and I found a promo copy of this. To be honest, it doesn't look like I ever played it, which seems odd, so, eight and a bit years later, I gave it a go. Verdict? Not completely amazing, but there are some nice tunes on it. Of which, this might be the nicest. I'm of opinion that Rakim's Follow The Leader is one of the greatest records of all time. But that's just me...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Arthur's Ribollita

I was working with brilliant, award-winning Eco Chef Arthur Potts Dawson of Acorn House yesterday. I tried not to follow him around asking stalker-style questions or just tapping him on the back or tugging his sleeve going, "Arthur, Arthur?" too much but didn't do so well. And now I've nicked one of his recipes for you. This is Arthur's version of the Tuscan classic Ribollita and as I am off to Tuscany for a long weekend tomorrow, it was a great taster of what I hope is to come. Arthur's new restaurant Water House has just opened and he says the all day drop-in weekend brunch is really worth trying. Landcroft House will be going there next weekend.

Serves 8

1 head celery, cut in 1cm dice
2 red onions, cut into 1cm dice
4 carrots, cut into 1 cm dice
100ml light olive oil
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 x 400g cans plum tomatoes
1 head of cavolo Nero cabbage (about 600g) blanched and roughly chopped
400g can chickpeas, drained
lots of extra virgin olive oil
1 loaf ciabatta

Cook the soffrito (celery, onions and carrots)in the light olive oil in a large pan until deep golden brown and caramelised - about 30 - 40 minutes.

Add the finely chopped parsley stalks and garlic, then rinse the juice from the tomatoes and them to the pan. Cook gently for 20 minutes.

Add the cabbage, chickpeas and some of the water the cabbage was cooked in along with plenty of olive oil. Tear out the centre of the bread and add to the pan along with some salt and pepper and cook for another 20 minutes. Check seasoning and finish with more olive oil.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Weather Affects The Mood

The sun is shining. There is a pronounced spring to the step. I am a fan of the following records:

Sparkadia: Too Much To Do (Ark, 2008)
The Parade: Kinda Wasted Without You (A&M, 1967)
The Explorer's Club: Don't Forget The Sun (Dead Oceans, 2008)
Roy Shirley: Israelites Leave Babylon (Striker Lee, 1972)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Basement Crates: 30 & 31

Gangstarr: Just To Get A Rep (Chrysalis, 1990)
Pulled from the big box marked Should Have Been Enormous, Gangstarr were everyone's favourite hip hop outfit of the early 90s, well everyone apart from that important group known as the general public who, despite the band's innate ability to write brilliant singles (and the fact they were fantastic live) decided they could live perfectly happily without DJ Premier's wiki-wiki wotsits and Guru's proudly monotone flow. Well, their loss, for this EVA sampling gem was quite the thing for those of us who were paying attention 18 long years ago.

James Yorkston: Tender To The Blues (Domino, 2002)
I got an email from James Yorkston a few days ago. He's in an old converted farmhouse studio in Wales recording his new album. Yes, you're right, it does sound nice, doesn't it? I thought so until he told me how the 300 year old building's resident ghost pulled him out of bed by his ankles the other morning. That's not quite so lovely, is it? Anyway, I found this old single of his while rooting around in a box full of magazines. This is a wonderful record, but then I'm a total sucker for this sort of thing. "And the mornings I’ve woken and sought your warmth," he sings. "If only I’d held you and told you before..." Literally, blub...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 26

Betty Harris: I'll Be A Liar (Jubilee, 1963)
Is that a great publicity picture or what? I found this little beauty on a Bert Berns compilation that played so well in the office that each one of us stood up to mull over the track-listing at some point or other. My favourite was definitely Betty's track which seems to squeeze country, soul, doo-wop, blues and gospel into two minutes and fifty-nine seconds of wonderfulness. Betty's theme is that lying might well be wrong, but her man's loving "is, oh, so strong" that she just can't help herself. "If a lie brings your lips a little closer," she hollers, "then I guess I'll be a liar for the rest of my life..." That's romance for you, isn't it?

Bon Iver: Re: Stacks (4AD, 2008)
This is just flaming lovely. I remember reading something about this a week or so ago and thinking, that sounds right up my street, I must get my hands on one. Then, today, I opened the post and there it was. Literally, hooray. So, Bon is from what I imagine are the frozen wastes of North Wisconsin. If anyone reading is currently sat in their North Wisonsin garden drinking a pink gin and wearing shorts and sunglasses then I apologise. Bon plays guitar and sings, but he dresses it all up in this incredible ambience. His voice in amazing, a falsetto ache up there with Antony out of The Johnsons. If you have any sense you will like Bon's new record very much indeed.

Friday, February 22, 2008

New Music Friday: Steve Pilgrim

Steve Pilgrim: Lover, Love Her (Demo, 2008)
Steve Pilgrim is from Liverpool and he not only plays the guitar rather nicely, but he sings real good too. I don't know much about him tbh, but there's all sorts of stuff out there if you look. This came from my friend Mike and, in case you're wondering if this is some awful plant, it isn't. I didn't like the last thing he sent me and told him so TO HIS FACE. Steve's not signed yet, but I sort of think he will be soon (so does Mike) and then you'll have to pay for his records. So, until then, happy sharing!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

She Seems To Have The Right Idea

I've beamed this delightful young lady in from another world (trans: 1976). I don't have a hangover. This is amazing news.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

This Old Record Is Quite Good

Lee 'Scratch' Perry: Roast Duck (C&N, 1965)
Now, I'm not an expert on these matters, but when the lady at the start of this record groans and says, "Uummmm, hungry now", I'm not entirely convinced she's talking about food. The singer sort of confirms this suspicion of mine by revealing that when he tried to deliver said item he was told, "The front door locked, I have to enter from the back," now, this might all be a figment of my imagination, but I can't help shaking the feeling there's a subtext here that's just within our grasp...

More Adventures Of Young Lee Perry here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Booze Ban: Day 30

I can have a drink the day after tomorrow. I haven't so much as smelt booze in a month. I have a feeling Wednesday night might be a bit of a shock. But not as much of a shock as Thursday morning.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Little Prawn Fritters

We had these for lunch today and ended up squashed round the hob spearing them out of the pan and into our mouths the second they were done.
Makes 16
knobble of ginger, finely grated
1 fat garlic clove, finely grated
4 spring onions, thinly sliced
handful fresh herbs: coriander, basil and / or mint, roughly chopped
200g raw king prawns, roughly chopped
100g small, cooked, peeled prawns
400g white, skinned fish: haddock, cod, pollack
1 large egg white, lightly beated
1 tbsp cornflour
2 tsp nigella or sesame seeds
1 tsp dried crushed chillies ( I took Scrap's portion out first)
sea salt
splash of sunflower oil
soy-vinegar or sweet chilli dipping sauce

Mix together the ginger, garlic, spring onions, herbs and prawns.

Place the fish in a food processor and whizz to make a paste. Add to the prawn mixture along with the egg white, cornflour, seeds, chilli and some salt and mix well together.

Heat a tiny bit of oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add spoonfuls of the fishy mixture to the pan, patting them down to flatten to about 1cm in thickness. Cook for 3 - 4 minutes on each side until golden and cooked through. Serve hot with a zingy dipping sauce.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Thai Duck Curry

Make this the night before then finish off half an hour before you want to eat it. Also works well with chicken.
Serves 4
1 free range duck
400ml can coconut milk
400ml chicken stock
2 tbsp Thai red or green curry paste
1 lemongrass stalk, bruised
4 lime leaves, shredded
2 aubergines, cubed
150g sugar snap peas, halved lengthways
100g beansprouts
½ tsp soft brown sugar
Grated zest and juice of 2 limes
chopped red chilli and good handful fresh basil leaves
jasmine rice, to serve

Place the duck in a large pan and add the coconut milk, stock, curry paste, lemongrass and lime leaves. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for an hour then leave to cool and chill overnight.

Scoop the solidified fat off the surface of the broth and discard. Lift out the duck, strip the meat off the bones and tear or cut into big chunks. Discard the skin and bones.

Gently reheat the broth adding the duck and aubergine and cook for about 15 - 20 minutes until the aubergine is tender. Add the sugarsnaps, beansprouts, sugar and lime for the last minute. Serve with plain rice and beer.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Free Music Thursday

Amplive is a hip hop producer from San Francisco who has - after a bit of legal jiggery-pokery - put his remixes and reimaginings of Radiohead's In Rainbows album on - literally - the intranot. Lots of detail about it here. If you have as low an attention span as I do, then just jump straight to it here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

War Is Stupid (But Posters Aren't)

Is that not one of the single best posters you've ever seen? Loads more American WWII posters here...

Monday, February 11, 2008

I Happen To Like This A Lot

Sea Wolf: The Garden That You Planted (Dangerbird, 2008)
I am currently ploughing through a huge pile of new CDs. I have to admit that the majority of them are twaddle (before I forget, you must read this, it's the best book about the lunacy at the heart of the music industry I've ever read). But there was something about Sea Wolf that I liked immediately. For those in a hurry, they have an air of Beck, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, even Echo & The Bunnymen about them. Great song. I stole it wholesale from this, which is very nice indeed...

Friday, February 08, 2008

Hang On, This Record Is A Bit Good...

The Accidental: Illuminated Red (Full Time Hobby, 2008)
Full disclosure: Stephen from The Accidental (that's him top right trying to escape) is a friend of mine. He is also a member of the wonderful Memory Band. Anyhow, none of that matters much really, all that's important is that Illuminted Red is a meditative doozy of a tune, a veritable toe-tapper, a softly-softly, midnight-blue folk-pop treatise on the magic of, well, life itself. "Imagine if each word we say was collected in a bag," they whisper. That's quite a thought, isn't it? In my case it would have to be a really big bag with lots of room for more words. Their very, very good album is out towards the end of April and I particularly like the track, Slice Open The Day. If you are the sort of person who likes staring out the window contemplating something hugely important, you will too.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Hello? Is That Dr Broadband Again?

"Hello? Is that the Dr? Yes, it's Wilfred Bramble here. Yes, that's right, old man Steptoe from Steptoe & Son. Anyway, I wondered what had happened to Landcroft House's broadband? Oh, it'll be back on on Monday? Are you sure? You are? Oh thank you Dr! Would you like a pickled onion? What about a gasper and a large sherry? Dr? Dr, are you still there?..."

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Booze Ban: Day 17

James Yuill: The Ghost (Chess Club, 2008)
I went to the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards last night. It was great (apart from Steve Harley, of which more another time, and probably somewhere else), but I did feel tempted by the champagne and wine on offer. I walked past a pub before entering the venue and saw a couple of people hoiking down pints of Guinness and, you know what, they did look good. But there's no way a drop will pass my lips for another fortnight. Oh no. Or, possibly, after. Wouldn't never drinking again be amazing? Anyway, until then, I will have a listen to this record that was constructed in a South Ealing bedroom. Yulli plays a guitar and sings - yes, another one - but he also has a keen ear for warm electronic niceness and the odd handclap. Plus, there's a cheering chorus. Good work, James

Monday, February 04, 2008

Hello? Is That Dr Broadband?

"It's Billy Fury here. Yes, that's right, Billy Fury out of the pop charts. Yes. Thanks. Anyway, I just wanted to ask you to hurry up with Landcroft House's new broadband as it's becoming a wee bit infuriating now. OK. Yes, I understand that. Fine. OK. Well, as long as you do. Great. Thanks then. Bye!

*coughs weakly*

Friday, February 01, 2008

Books Do Furnish A Blog

If you spend more time staring at a screen than you do staring at well-stocked, improving shelves, then this fantastic collection of 60 years of Pelican covers might bring you pleasure. I want to read this one, this one, this one and this one (and, to be honest, pretty much all the others, including this one).