August begins with a blast of Hammond organ. Paul Orwell's new album Organised Blues, on Heavy Soul, is a selection of full-on instrumentals that have got me grooving round the house as effectively as the debut, Blowing Your Mind Away, from last year. The new record (as with the previous output, available only on limited edition vinyl) was recently described to Merc by Paul as "an album that kids would take to a party in the 1960's". You can't argue with that as a rationale for the album. All the tracks are equally infectious and full of pent up Mod energy and all will fire up the soul shoes on your feet. You have to admire the attitude that led to the recording of Organised Blues. It was the record Paul wanted to make so he went off and did it, eschewing any consideration of making a "sensible" follow up to Blowing Your Mind Away. That's where an innovative and open minded label comes in such as Heavy Soul. An inspired album. What you need to blow the post holiday blues away. The opener, Don't Do As I Do Just Do As I Say, is a perfect taster.
Pleased to see the the posthumous Viola Beach album has been released and reached number one. Listening to it brings disparate emotions - the inevitable sense of tragedy whilst, at the same time, an uplifting feeling from the quality and vibe of the tunes. Here was a band with all the youthful vision and belief that makes music great, with it all ahead of them. The sound is guitar-fuelled, with a vibe that does indeed put you in mind of a beach. A kind of indie surf music for the post-innocence generation. It is worth remembering that this was recorded before the tragedy in February when, as far as anyone knew, what lay ahead were good times and success. It should be listened to in that spirit. Check out the single Swings And Waterslides for a sample. It deserves to be played loud.
Another quality record is one I heard a couple of months ago from Derby band The Telephones. Coming Around/Nothing's The Same were destined for a Summer release. I was impressed by the psychedelic vibe of the songs, which follow neatly on the heels of the excellent Hummingbyrd back in 2014. With Lee Horsley (Spiritualised and The Selector) on keys, these tunes emanate the sound of sixties West Coast pop meshed with nineties Manchester, with a lovely feel of pure groovaliciousness that will get the feet tapping and the head spinning. Imagine the scenario of Roger McGuinn going for a pint with Noel, perhaps, on a day trip to Haight Ashbury and mixing it all up with Ian MacLagan en route. You get the picture. One band who it is definitely worth checking out further.
I'm a big fan of the Mubi film channel that features "cult, classic and indie movies". On returning from holiday, I launched into the screening of Fellini's masterpiece La Dolce Vita from 1960. It features a masterful performance from Marcello Mastroianni as a playboy paparazzi who traverses Rome over a seven day period one Summer. Other notable performances include Anita Ekberg as the glamorous film star Sylvia, Anouk Aimee as Maddalena and Yvonne Furnaux as Emma. The film is notable for thematic elements such as the juxtaposition of old and new Europe, the place of religion within modern post war society, the role of the individual and the choices found between individual goals (such as serious literature) and more immediate needs (financial reward through populist journalism). Lasting around three hours it requires an investment of time but one that is fulfilling.