Caught by the Canberra Part 3

17 September 2017 // Miscellany

By Peter Papathanasiou

Having walked up the mountain’s fire trail with my toddler son, we finally reach the turnoff for our destination. It takes some convincing to coax him to follow me along the single track veering off to our left. He’s now fascinated by a termite mound; the larger trees in the Australian bush are almost all hollow thanks to termites. He can’t yet see where I’m taking him, but it’s somewhere new and special. It’s a place I remember fondly from my youth and which has stood the test of time despite years of severe erosion and variable rainfall.

‘This way,’ I tell him, ‘nearly there.’ He giggles, showing his precious new teeth, and tries to run but is eventually undone by an unseen tree root. I rush to his aid, pick him up, hold him close and apply medicinal kisses. His grizzling soon subsides as I carry him the rest of the way and finally show him my surprise. (more…)

Dawn over Doggerland – late August 2017

17 September 2017 // Art

Hi Caught by the River

Hope you had a good summer – busy times here but I’ve some more selections for you consideration…

These are part of the product from a few nights spent rough camping up and down the east coast, waiting for the sun.

I’d drafted a text to go with them but scrapped it – best to let the drawings do the work.

Maxim Griffin

(more…)

An interview with F.J. McMahon

16 September 2017 // Music

By Ian Preece

The premise of last year’s Numero Uno compilation Wayfaring Strangers: Cosmic American Music was to gather together lost and small private-press gems of country rock from the sixties and seventies and shine a light on them for a new generation. With its striking neon buckarooing cowboy cover, housed in an old-style laminated tip-on jacket, and with plentiful sleevenotes, it’s by and large a terrific LP. Buried right at the end – track 18 of 19 – a languorous guitar and sullen drum break usher in the cut of the record: F.J. McMahon’s ‘Spirit of the Golden Juice’, written about a liquor that went out of business and a country that waged war abroad. This summer I’ve been lucky enough to drive down Highway 1 through the Redwood forests of California, the sea spray and Pacific fog, picking our way through the landslides and closed-off sections of Big Sur, living out of suitcases and diners, the Cosmic American Music CD filling the car with tales of misty-eyed departing lovers, whiskey in the gutter, phones that don’t ring, jobs and lives to return to, and lonely entertainers who ‘know a lot of famous people but don’t remember their names’. One of the other CDs in the car is a promo of the Anthology Recordings edition of F.J. McMahon’s fine Spirit of the Golden Juice album, reissued this August on vinyl for only the second time since its initial release in 1969. From Portland, down through Gold Coast, Mendocino and on to San Francisco then Santa Barbara and LA, I drive my family mad, repeatedly playing McMahon’s slightly folky, not quite bluesy, fractionally Fred Neil-esque 29-minute lament to a country that went to war, the lives wrecked by that and the whiskey consumed to ease the pain, namely IW Harper Bourbon.

By the end of the trip I’m sitting in Du-Par’s Restaurant and Bakery in Studio City, LA, opposite F.J., whose club sandwich is going cold as I press him about Vietnam and he enthuses about the Cosmic American Music LP that prompted the current reissue of Golden Juice. ‘The Numero people called me up and said could they put a song on there. They’re kind of like crate diggers who do the digging for you and find all this neat stuff. The first song on that record, I must have played it thirty times in a row [‘Travelin’’ by the Dallas County Green, with Jimmy Carter]. Oh, the energy – just great.’ F.J. bats away my suggestion his track is the pick of the bunch but lights up when I mention another track, Jeff Cowell’s ‘Not Down this Low’: ‘Isn’t that the absolute best opening pickup line you heard in your life? It’s got a nice musical flow, and your brain’s listening to it, and it’s like “Down in the gutter . . .’ – oh, OK, he’s rubbed out – “ . . .where I found my true love” – OK, that guy’s got the best line ever written to open a song.’ Kenny Knight (of the recently reissued Crossroads on Paradise of Bachelors) is on there too: ‘Oh yeah, he’s got a really neat sound. I love that sound – almost like a fifties rocker . . . great record, man.’ (more…)

Over The Border #7

15 September 2017 // Over The Border

In her latest column from the Welsh Borders, Jude Rogers considers the sensation of fear

I woke this morning to darkness. To nothing – then the jolt. Over the short, summer nights, the curtains have been open, partly to see the moon’s wide open eye when heading to bed, so often lighting up the sky a strange moody blue, like it’s barely evening let alone midnight, then watching it moving like a glowing, round snail from the back of the garden, round the sheds, round the trees, past the garage, out of sight. It’s also been good to see the stars, all too often lost in our old city’s phosphorus-orange, atmospheric skies. They’re now regular friends, perceptible pinpricks of fire and life. I’ve got used to waking early, looking outside in the slow, early hours of the morning, catching a glimpse of the soft, loping hills that appear as soon as an eyelid prises open, to the view of clouds skirting over the bottom of the valley at 5am, to a reminder that I am now here, and not elsewhere. (more…)

Newsletter Competition: The Lyrics of Leonard Cohen

14 September 2017 // Competition

On this week’s newsletter, we’ve got three copies of The Lyrics Of Leonard Cohen: All The Answers Are Here to give away, courtesy of the good folks over at Omnibus Press.

Cohen’s complete lyrics are accompanied by interviews and recollections from Malka Marom — a lifelong friend of the legendary writer, singer, musician, poet and painter — which detail his political activity, his devotion to his spiritual teachers, his connection to Phil Spector, friendship with Bob Dylan, and his devotion as a father.

Make sure you’re subscribed to our mailing list before 11am tomorrow for the chance to win. The sign-up bar can be found in the top right-hand corner of this page.