Tuesday, March 31, 2009

These Old Records Are Quite Nice

The Louvin Brothers: Knoxville Girl (Capitol, 1956)
"I met a little girl in Knoxville," Charlie and Ira Louvin sing, "a town we all know well..." Actually, I've never been to Knoxville, have you? Ira was, "an abusive, irritable alcoholic", apparently, but he also wrote the majority of the songs and croons like a dream here. More of this sort of thing here.

Mandy Smith: Boys And Girls [Acid Remix] (PWL, 1988)
Poor old Mandy. Just as she was about to enjoy pre-adulthood (aged 13), she hooked up with Bill Wyman (aged 47). It would never make either of them happy, but that's not our concern, is it? This record - made when Smith was a much more mature 18 (and married to Wyman) is an acid-house cash in that's never been released before. It's not exactly amazing, but it is an enjoyable window on - hey! - a vanished world. And stuff. More of this sort of thing here.

Larry Williams and Johnny Watson: Mercy, Mercy, Mercy (Okeh, 1967)
A LP of soul cover versions. The sort of thing that was considered a very good idea indeed in 1967. There are many, many treats on this LP - I'm rather keen on the version of Cannonball Adderly and Joe Zawinul’s Mercy Mercy Mercy - but most of this is actually lovely. More of this sort of thing here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

This New Record Is Literally Quite Good

Zoey Van Goey: Two White Ghosts (Left In The Dark, 2009)
I've actually got five minutes to listen to some records today - although, to be fair, I'd rather be walking round the park eating an ice-cream. This little gem fell into my lap quite quickly. ZVG are, literally, indie-pop, which means, by law, they have to have at least one song about Japan. But that's OK, because this is actually quite a good one. I like it, anyway. The very name itself might make you want to throw yourself out of a window. But what can I do? Oh yes, and this is good too. The CD - The Cage Was Unlocked All Along - doesn't appear to exist on the internet yet, but it will soon. I promise!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Aubergines Are For Girls?

I know it only takes a couple of days of sunshine and we want to light the barbecue and I know it's still only March but I have definitely noticed that the tomatoes and aubergines in the shops have started to look more plump, shiny and yes, summery.
I love aubergines but Robert doesn't. Not even in a curry. In fact I don't know a single man who doesn't really dislike aubergines except maybe my brother who wasn't given any choice. Perhaps I am wrong?

Melanzane al Forno
This is one of my favourite dishes of all time but I hardly ever make it because Robert won't eat it. It takes quite a lot of chopping and is not worth doing for just one aubergine so you need to really want it to go to the bother.
Serves 4
2 large, plump, shiny aubergines
1 thick slice of white bread, whizzed into crumbs
lots of chopped parsley
big handful of finely grated Parmesan
2 crushed garlic cloves
3 ripe tomatoes
1 egg, beaten
large pinch dried oregano

Preheat the oven to 200 / Gas 4. Halve the aubergines lengthways and scoop out the flesh with a tablespoon. Chop it finely and mix with the breadcrumbs, parsley, Parmesan and garlic. Finely chop one of the tomatoes and to the bowl along with the beaten egg and some seasoning.

Pile the mixture back into aubergine halves. Thinly slice the other two tomatoes and overlap on top. Season and sprinkle with oregano then bake for 40 - 45 minutes until nicely browned.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 40

Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra: After You've Gone (His Master's Voice, 1939)
I've pulled this one from here, the soundtrack to Peter Bogdanovich's Paper Moon. There's something incredibly heartwarming about this sort of thing, despite it coming from a time when the world was tipping directly into war. There's probably a reason for all of this, my theory is that everyone was so busy wandering around in heavy grey flannel saying, "How do you do?" all the time that they never noticed all the awfulness snapping at their heels. Simpler times, no?

Elvis Perkins: Shampoo (XL, 2009)
He's an interesting fellow, EP. However, what's most interesting about him is that he writes songs that you actually want to listen to more than once. That's a rare skill - one to be remarked upon, I think. Anyway, in this case, he feels secure enough in that talent to wallop the thing itself on the B-Side of his new single. While we're talking about new releases, EP's new LP is a wee bit useful too. Good news all round then.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 39

Gene Page: The Call (RCA, 1972)
Taken from Page's soundtrack to Blacula, The Call is the sort of maxi-silk smoothness that 1972 was rightly famous for. When I listen to this while staring out of the window I imagine myself sat at the far corner of a darkened bar smoking Newports and drinking Pabst (or whatever) while wearing velour. In my dream the cigarettes make me look cool and the velour makes me look good. That's why it's a dream, I suppose because, sadly, neither of those things are real, are they? Sorry, I gave up smoking about six weeks ago and, while I have no interest in going back, I do think about it a lot. Anyway, more of this sort of thing here. And here.

Mocky: Somehow Someway (Crammed Discs, 2009)
So, Mocky is an interesting chap. And what's more he makes interesting records, which is decent of him. In fact, this isn't a huge leap from Page's track, it would be just as good an accompaniment to swirling ice cubes around your drink, but, Mocky adds that extra element of wistful melancholia. His new album is very good too. On a completely different - ahem - "tip", this is, literally amazing.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Hello? Landcroft House...

"Hello Landcroft House, it's Harry Shearer out of The Simpsons and Spinal Tap here..."
"Hey Harry. Thanks for calling. Could you tell me one thing?"
"Sure - shoot."
"What’s the greatest record ever made?"
"Well! The one that gives me so much pleasure – at least 85% of the thrill it gave me when it first came out – and that is Frank Sinatra’s Songs For Swinging Lovers. There’s a guy in New York who plays Sinatra, and there’s a lot of crappy Sinatra, which he plays too, but when he sings that stuff, it still gets me. It took me years to even hear what Sinatra was doing because I was so gob-smacked by what the orchestra arrangement was doing. That music would go around in my head all day long. That record was responsible for getting me through high school. Does that sound good?"
"Perfect! Thanks Harry."
"No problem, Landcroft House..."

Monday, March 02, 2009

Black Forest Trifle

I like trifle very much, especially after roast beef on a sunny Sunday.

Serves 8
1 small chocolate marble cake
small glass of sweet sherry
jar or can of morello cherries, drained
4 tbsp drinking chocolate
500g carton custard
250g carton mascarpone
50g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
200ml double cream softly whipped with a tbsp icing sugar
chocolate cherry dragees and / or chopped chocolate

Slice the chocolate cake and arrange in the bottom of a bowl then pour over the sherry. Scatter over the cherries.

Dissolve the drinking chocolate in a little boiling water then mix with the custard, masarpone and chocolate. Spoon over the cherries and cake then top with the softly whipped cream. Chill for at least 4 hours, but overnight's best. Scatter over chocolate before serving.