Lester Bangs on Astral Weeks: personal.cis.strath.ac.uk/~murray/astral.html

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Young the Giant’s “My Body”, the first single from their eponymously titled debut album, is one catchy number. We play a snatch of it from their Jools Holland appearance on May 3rd, 2011, as well as some highlights from a rowdy, stage diving filled performance from Slim’s in San Francisco, shot on April 22nd by the good folks at intheopen.tv/. Last November, the group were featured on Billboard Magazine’s “Tastemakers” show, where they played “I Got” at the Mophonics recording studio in Manhattan. These guys seem like they’re on the verge of big things.

A new record from Emmylou Harris is always cause for celebration, and the April 26th, 2011 release of “Hard Bargain” is no exception. The twenty-sixth record from the country music legend is a beautiful, if bittersweet affair, touching on absent friends as well as personal and historical recollections. “Darlin’ Kate” is a sorrowful lament for her friend Kate McGarrigle, beautifully captured by NPR’s cameras during SXSW in March, while Six White Cadillacs is an groovy, upbeat country blues number that clearly impressed the audience on the David Letterman Show. We also play a little of “This is Us” from her underrated collaboration with Mark Knopfler in 2006, as well as “Boulder to Birmingham”, the song that first distinguished her as a lyricist back in the 70s.

At this point in his career, Steve Earle isn’t content with just making music – his latest album “I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive” comes with a full-length novel, and the Virginian country rocker has made a bit of a name for himself as a character actor on shows like the Wire and Treme. We’ve got clips from those two shows: his portrait of recovering drug-addict “Waylon” on the former, and as the street musician “Harley” on the latter, as well as a bit of “Every Part of Me” performed on Letterman on April 29th, 2011, and the chilling “CCKMP” from the Texas Connection way back in 1991.

Wolfgang’s Vault has long been home to some of the finest live concert audio recordings of the past 40 plus years, and a couple of weeks back the site finally brought online a large part of its massive video collection as well. The sudden availability of hundreds of hours of free streaming concert video from the Bill Graham archive is fantastic news for music fans everywhere, and we’ve only had time to digest a tiny part of it, including Van Morrison’s “Cyprus Avenue”, and the Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post” (both recorded at the Fillmore East in September 1970). As mentioned in the show, you should really check out Lester Bangs' excellent musings on Astral Weeks. The first full-length show that really caught our eye was the Who’s final performance on their Tommy tour, recorded on the Tanglewood stage in July of 1970, and only seen in bits and pieces until now.

We’re sad to report that the leader of X-Ray Spex, punk icon Poly Styrene passed away on April 25th, 2011. She remains best known for her fiery debut single “Oh Bondage! Up Yours!” and we play a bit of that legendary number, recorded by filmmaker Wolfgang Büld as part of his documentary “Punk In London”, recorded in 1977.

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