Wednesday, 15 October 2008

A Lewis Taylor Miscellany

I'm pretty sure not everyone will agree with me on this, but, for my money Lewis Taylor is as close as the UK has got to a Jeff Buckley type of polymath muso-genius in recent times (Taylor covered Buckley's 'Everybody Here Wants You, on Lewis II). I'm surprised to find myself sharing a position - oo-er - occupied by Elton John (he tried to hype Taylor some time back). Anyhoo, my biggest gripe with Lewis is that he's such a control freak and perfectionist he can't work with anyone else. At least, that's what I've heard, and what I surmise from his music mostly being written, arranged, sung and played all by his bad self. It's also a massive indictment of the industry that it doesn't cultivate, nurture and facilitate a talent like Taylor's. It seems he's one of those mavericks who seem unable to get himself across. Perhaps he should've just been put in a gilded cage, fed through some kind of tube, and allowed to create, perhaps even being cloned, so he could have a band?

These tunes are numbers that (as far as I know) didn't make it onto any official album releases. Some appeared on b-sides and the like. I actually think that some of this stuff is his absolute tip-top best. 'Cherry Blossom', 'Lewis III' and 'Waves' are all, in my perhaps less than humble opinion, the work of someone cursed with a gift of singular fantabulousness ... if you get my drift. My only real criticism of any of this music - far outweighed by the merits it has in abundance - is the rhythm programming: should've had real drums Lewis! Such deliciously organic music, with guitar, bass, keys, vocals and everything all being so fluid and real... real drums would've been the best bedrock. But hey, I'm a drummer, whaddya think I'd say!

Most of the world has missed out on this precious gorgeousness, don't you be a schmuck too!

Tracklisting: A Little Bit Tasty / Cherry Blossom / Got Me Thinking / I Dream The Better DreamI / Lewis III / Pie In Electric Sky / Trip So Heavy / Waves

I was also contemplating posting Taylor's homage to Captain Beefheart: a reworking (it's perhaps a partial or incomplete project ... don't really know much about it) of the legendary Trout Mask Replica album. Just like Lewis to do something most people wouldn't even consider, or, having thought of it, would dismiss as not 'viable product', but Lewis, like Beefheart before him, marches to a different (and sadly in Lewis' case, synthesized) beat! But, as the link above will show, jinkzmusings has already uploaded it. If his link ain't working shout me and I'll post the tracks. Not for the faint hearted! I will however be posting Beefheart's next album - the phenomenal Lick My Decals Off, Baby - when I get the time.


nnnms said...

thanks for the post. i've been trying to get a listen of cherry blossom for a long time now (along w/ a few others, like the covers of black dog and highway star). i read a review or something once describing this song as "silly prog rock". i have to disagree.
it's great modern soul music to my ears.

Paul said...

just found out about Lewis Taylor and would love to hear his rare stuff and the Trout mask replica covers

Ian Mac said...

Hi there,
I have been desperately trying to find the Lewis Beefheart recordings for some time now. Any chance of reposting this rare stuff somewhere soon, or maybe let me know how I might be able to get them. Cheers.

will_gilbert said...

'EVERYBODY HERE WANTS YOU'... TO REPOST THIS LINK! everyone needs to hear this please repost the link, itll make everyone a little happyer! x

LT said...

This is the artist Lewis Taylor. The tracks will not be uploaded. I had the links removed from this blog because I don't appreciate my music being made available for free on filesharing sites, so reuploading anything is certainly not going to make me happy. All my music is available from iTunes and all the usual download sites, should you wish to purchase any of it.

Matt Hooper said...

Like anyone is going to believe that.

If you where lewis you would know we are talking about unreleased tracks here.


LT said...

No you're not.

Listen smartarse, I really don't care if you believe me or not.

Everybody Here is available on Lewis II, Cherry Blossom is on a compilation called Lullabies With A Difference, all the rest were bonus tracks on the single releases.

These aren't unreleased tracks mate and I repeat, if they are re-uploaded i will have them taken down.

Matt Hooper said...

Can you tell us where to buy trout mask replica from ?

Personally I thought thats what folks where talking about.

Matthew Best said...

Hey LT - if you ever come back to read this, any chance of letting us know what you're up to?

Whatever it is, I hope you're well and happy.



Ima said...

It's a bit sad when a so called "fan" of an artist has an issue with that person taking down illegally shared tracks which can be bought legally.

Don't be a twat and pay for music instead. Otherwise, you're not a fan and only prove yourself to be thoroughly disrespectful to that artist.

thefunkygoat said...

Lewis Pt I

Hello all, this is the Funky Goat. Apologies for the prolonged absence... so much to do, so little time!

The following is a small essay sized reply prompted by Lewis himself apparently posting on my blog… I’m flattered, humbled, and surprised. I’ve had to split it in two, as the blog software can’t handle the whole thing as one reply!

I'm afraid I won't be reposting any of this music, out of respect for Lewis Taylor's wishes. I'm certainly happy to see that there's still significant interest in his work, and that my page has been visited. Thanks for all the comments.

If that really is/was Lewis posting - and I do hope it was - then I'd like to say several things directly to Lewis: I hope you don't mind that I (very briefly) shared your music, but I understand entirely - particularly as a musician myself - if you do, and unreservedly apologize if it in any way upset or irked you.

Also regarding the general tone of the piece: I hope you don't feel it was in any way pejorative. I recently wrote a piece on a Yes album for a UK drum mag, and chatted to Bill Bruford during my research. In the course of our conversation it became apparent that something I'd written (I'd also emailed him the draught article to have a look over it for factual errors etc.), about Steve Howe 'noodling' on a particular track (in my world that's just a term I and other fellow musicians use to refer to soloing), and the band jamming on a groove at one point, didn't sit well with Bruford, and out of respect for him, and the whole band, I changed the wording of my article a bit.

So, when I say things like 'control freak', and talk about a gilded cage, cloning etc, those comments are all meant in an affectionate manner. To put it in perspective: I'm a musician too, and, whilst I appreciate that from the outside I can't judge your particular journey through the music biz, as a person who's written and recorded loads of music (and I won't enter into whether my own work has any merit here), I do envy you the opportunities you've had.

I'm something of a control freak myself, and perhaps it's me who'd really like a cloned band (though I might not choose to clone myself!); I'd certainly like to at least have the opportunity to see if the wider world might like my music.

All I wanted then, and all I want now, is that people become aware of the great music you made (and hopefully might still be making privately?), and that once aware they go out and buy it. When time allows, and if it still seems necessary (which perhaps it isn't given that at you've already mentioned it yourself), I'll do a re-post on how people can source the legit versions via iTunes etc.

Pt II to follow!


thefunkygoat said...

Lewis Pt II

I recently read Barney Hoskyns excellent Tom Waits biography (in which you're mentioned, as I know you know, from reading about some brou-ha-ha relating to that elsewhere), and, along with the little I know of some of my other all time favourite artists (which, as well as Waits, includes other artists as famous for their complex or perhaps even tortured relations with fame and 'the biz' as Joni Mitchell and Beefheart), I'm aware that not all our musical heroes can be the imaginary soul-mates we might wish them to be.

Indeed, I've even had other musician friends who've met their heroes only to be brusquely put down by them, so I generally keep my distance and remain as private as some of the artists might also be trying to remain. In my callow youth I snuck back stage at an Allen Ginsberg concert in London, with a pal, hoping we might meet and greet the man himself, only to see the poor guy surrounded by acolytes trying to touch the hem of his robes. It was an odd experience, and, early on, it taught me to consider the merits of avoiding hero worship.

Still having said this, and in the hope that I'm replying to the real Lewis, is there anything you'd care to share about your Beefheart project? How did it come about, and did you complete it? Would you be prepared to share it, commercially or otherwise? And, although of course you're not obliged to explain yourself or your actions, if you don't want to share it, could you tell us why?

And is there anything else, for that matter, concerning your musical story, that you wouldn't mind sharing? What about the issue of rarely using real drummers on the recordings? And are you still recording privately?

Perhaps if you've dropped by my blog before you've also read my (otherwise unpublished) interview with Drumbo? If not, please take a look. As alluded to previously, I write for a UK drum mag, and love Beefheart and his legacy, and tried to get an interview with Drumbo into the mag when the reformed Magic Band (minus the Capt, sadly) toured the UK some years back. Didn't happen, and more's the pity I say, as John 'Drumbo' French really brought something to the Magic Band party, I think.

Another thread you, and others perhaps, interested in the theme of superb music that doesn't always make it through as it maybe should, might also find intriguing is the story of the Earth Disciples, a superb LA band who recorded one album of instrumental psychedelic soul-jazz-rock for Blue Note in 1969, and another unreleased one shortly after that. I'm in direct contact with the surviving band members (the bass player and drummer), trying to find a way to get their small but wonderful recorded legacy back out in the wide world, and in a way that they'll see some reward for their efforts.

EMI, who own the rights to the first album have, so far, completely stonewalled all my attempts to get the album properly re-released, and have now put it up on iTunes, with not a penny/cent/euro going to the band! I can certainly see why those artists who do have the 'good fortune' to have a brush with mammon (i.e. 'the music biz') aren't always left enamoured of the encounter.

Anyhoo, enough for now, there are shekels to be earned etc.

Regards to all reading this thread, and especially warm wishes to Lewis himself: I hope all is well in your world, and if you're ever performing or recording again, please let me know, as I greatly admire your work, and think you're possessed of an undeniably great talent.


taqr said...

I know I'm years out of date, but iTunes does not seem to support some of these tracks as stated in the comments. The two tracks that I can't find anywhere as sole tracks for sale are "Cherry Blossom" and "Lewis III" which are ironically two that I am desperate to hear. In the apparent safe knowledge that these two tracks are not available on any official downloadable format (including iTunes), is it possible to share them with those of us who have been following Lewis since he stepped away from Sheriff Jack and into his higher pitched Lewis Taylor soul-infused musicfest that I simply could not praise or amaze enough in a land of tired shirts with loud trousers.

I for one hope that Lewis is at peace with whatever he is doing right now, and that maybe he finds a way to bring joy to himself and me - and others like me - with his incredible, almost homeless talent. Lewis, I salute you from a myriad of musical boundaries beneath my feet. :)

AC said...

I'm another trying to track down 'Cherry Blossom', it's not even available to stream on YouTube.

I respect that the artist gets to make a call on what to make available where but it's a shame that the more marginal (to me more interesting) Lewis Taylor music is not available anywhere. Still, I'm glad that I bought those CD singles when I did, as tracks like 'Asleep When You Come', 'Pie in Electric Sky' etc are fantastic.