Crotchety Man is spoilt for choice and pushed for time this week, so this will be a lightning blog covering a very mixed bag of musical delights.
We start this Spotify playlist with a band I damned with faint praise in this post back in January 2020. But Rick Mitarotonda’s Goose has a knack of making songs that stand out just enough to make a reviewer pause and pay attention. This time it’s an indie rock Sinnerman pleading for redemption, and on the strength of this track the judges here are inclined to grant the forgiveness he seeks.
As a token of our absolution, we offer a Desert Flower supplied by guitarist Mark Towns and guest flautist, Hubert Laws. Spanish guitar and Latin rhythms dance, while the James Bond theme lurks half-hidden in the background, promising an evening of spectacular entertainment.
This is followed by some appropriately cinematic Fleeting Skies. Michał Łapaj provides the synthesised orchestral wash, and Bela Komoszyńska adds a spell-binding layer of Native Indian chant. As the sun sets and the camera sweeps across endless plains, the vocalist dances with the desert wolves.
While we relax around the camp fire, a lonesome cowboy rides in. Unstrapping his guitar, John Fahey sets himself down and plays a tune dedicated to the Pony Express horsemen who travel the length and breadth of this ancient land. It’s a hard and solitary life that has forged his Special Rider Blues.
Overhead, a red kite wheels, spiralling around the air currents, hunting for prey. The birds have been here far longer than Homo sapiens. So long, in fact, that it’s hard to comprehend This Immortal Coil that they weave so effortlessly in the cloudless sky. The outcrop of hard rock instrumental, though, leaves the drama of the swoop and the kill vividly in the mind.
It’s time for a gentle interlude. Is that the shadow of the Pony Express rider slipping away in the twilight? No, David Bowie tells us it is the Shadow Man and, as he turns towards us, we recognise him. He is the part of us that we hide from the world, “his smile made of nothing but loneliness”. Night falls, dark and unwelcome.
But where there is shadow, there must also be light. Perhaps hiding ourselves from view was Ill Considered. For the new day’s rising sun has spread golden droplets along our path, Light Trailed from here to eternity, spurring us on to a happier place. And this upbeat jazz piece is just the thing to lighten our steps and raise our spirits.
“Turn, turn again”, says the director, because every good film needs a twist. So, suddenly we are plunged into sadness again. One Hell of a Life reads like Tom Jones’ premature, self-penned obituary. The words ask us to celebrate a life lived to the full, but the sentiment is strangely regretful.
Another wide-screen song by Michał Łapaj provides the finale, this time with vocals by Mick Moss. It sums up the storyline with the annoyingly ambiguous phrase “Flying Blind” but it’s a satisfying ending, nevertheless.