This is a Record Store Day release from 2014. I own it on both LP and CD… because… why not! Sure do like me some Jake Bugg, and this little 4-song EP is fun.
Recorded at Silver Platters, Seattle, WA on January 20, 2014,
There’s A Beast And We All Feed It, Trouble Town and Lightning Bolt all have a great energy, that Johnny Cash-like strumming pattern and chug. But they sure sound different with him solo, without the band backing him. And all acoustic guitar (no Tele, this time ’round). I like it! He announces Lightning Bolt as the last track, so the set seems short… Were there more tracks that day and they only released these? If not, why would they only schedule him for so short a time?
It seemed that was it, but then Storm Passes Away is here too. There’s no talking to the crowd at the start of it, so was it an encore track, or tucked somewhere in the middle of the original set? So many questions, it seems… No matter, it’s a sweet swingin’ mid-tempo country tune that suits him perfectly.
Two off the first record, two off the second record. Short and sweet, and a cool little collectible. I have no idea if it was limited or rare (probably not too rare). Were there more tracks played that day, and if so, why did they only release these four?
Ah well, if it weren’t for RSD one wonders if we’d have even had this set at all. I mean, he played for that special day, and this was released because of that day, so I say right on, RSD. And right on, Jake Bugg.
Welcome to another Series week! I’m calling this one the Death Throes Week.
Death throes? Yup, as has been noted, HMV will soon be shuttering all their Canadian stores. Last report I had from an employee at my tiny local shoppe, it could be happening in as soon as two weeks. But, in a happy turn of events, the other day I was told (by that same employee) that Sunrise Records will be coming in behind the HMV. I won’t need to rely locally just on Wally World for new tunes! This is happy-making.
Anyway, the death throes of the HMV have caused them to offer up some better pricing for their remaining items, and this week I’ll be going though the stuff I’ve found in their (rapidly-dwindling) stock.
Let’s give ‘er!
Today is a big Sunday blow-out review. Over 1000 words! Go get a coffee…
Y’all know I’m a pretty big Jake Bugg fan, from previous reviews, though I’m not as big a fan as my 5-year-old daughter. She just loves him.
I’ve stalked this DVD in the bins for a while now, and the best price it was ever at was as a 2-for-$30 deal, or $20 by itself. I wasn’t sure about spending that on it, and couldn’t find anything else I wanted as a 2-for-$30, so when the closing sale dropped it to 25% off, I figured I ought to snap it up before someone else did.
Let’s see what we have!
Wee bit of interview with Jake as he sits in the seats to see the crowd’s point of view. He really seems to want to appreciate it. I had a wee it of trouble understanding his way of speaking. Not so much the accent, just that he speaks quickly and mumbles.
He walks out alone and does a seated, acoustic Pine Trees that holds the crowd rapt. Another interview, this time about how he got started, then it’s full band into full-on Trouble Town. Cool to see an extra (electric) guitar player, and a keyboardist too. Seen It All is next, and it’s a great version.
Next interview is about trying to get gigs at the start, then his friend Ian joins for Storm Passes Away, a lovely country swinger with lap steel guitar too. Next up is a wee bit of interview about Michael Kiwanuka, and how welcoming and excellent Jake feels he is as an artist. Then, to help get him out there, Michael joins the band on stage and they play a cover of his Tell Me A Tale. The tune’s a soulful, welcome addition to the set of Bugg originals. Super-cool.
Jake then talks about how he listened to music different from his friends, growing up, called it a journey for himself. Then it’s a well-timed Two Fingers, which the crowd really got into, clearly a fan favourite. It’s a cool tune, one to which my (now 5-year-old) daughter knows the words too. Then he swaps acoustic guitar for electric (a lovely blonde Telecaster – my favourite, of course), and away they go into a rockin’, partying Messed Up Kids. Love it. There’s a wee bit of fancy guitar footwork at the end of the tune, and the quick smile between the guitarist and Bugg is great.
Then, through the magic of video editing cuts, we go back in time, to the gig the night before this one, at Nottingham Arena, his hometown gig. Country Song plays in the background. Fan interviews are fun, talking about how relatable his songs are for them, coming up from not much of anything to where he is now. They seem proud of him.
Then we zap back to the Royal Albert Hall for Simple Pleasures. It builds into a solid rocker, great version. Then it’s a bluesy rockin’ Taste It. There’s a woman up on a guy’s shoulders, waving her arms for this one, she has to keep pulling up the front of her shirt so her bewbs don’t fall out. To his credit, Jake does a great job of not staring. Mostly.
Then it’s a wee bit of interview with Jake about adding Johnny Marr to the show, and then Marr talks about his appreciation of Jake’s work. Marr joins them on stage for Kingpin and Slumville Sunrise, two rockin’ run-throughs with Marr ripping the guitar solos on his lovely Fender Jaguar. You could tell how much having Marr there really meant to Bugg, for sure.
Then we go to a cut scene of Jake working with a small choir of kids in rehearsal for joining him at the gig, and they have a couple of questions for him.
Jump back to the Royal Albert Hall, and away they go on Broken. The crowd goes silent and you could hear a pin drop in the place. It’s a slower version than I’ve heard him do in live settings before, but it’s such a strong song that it’s gorgeous no matter what they do to it. It takes a long time before the choir even comes in, and their part is pretty small, but when they do sing, the song achieves lift and the hairs on your arms stand up.
Before the show ends, they rip through Lightning Bolt, again with Michael Kiwanuka and Marr joining (that makes 4 guitars, a huge sound, and they all take solos) for a big blow out at the end.
One last talk with Jake, how much it all meant to him. He meant it. And as the credits roll, it’s Jake alone again, with acoustic guitar playing to the crowd (same as the DVD intro) on a bluesy tune called Strange Creatures, off the Messed Up Kids EP (the one Deke tried to get for me in T-Bay). Yes!
Jake Bugg might seem, himself, to be a bit of a dour wet blanket, never really impressed with his surroundings or anything else. But I don’t think that’s true, I just gather he’s a man of few words who doesn’t suffer fools very gladly. He’s also a man on a mission and he’s there to get the job done, so the lack of meaningless chatter and plattitudes is actually quite refreshing.
Fantastically filmed, with great sound, this is a perfect Jake Bugg concert. Loved it. I might wish they’d left the songs to stand alone and had the interviews as extra features, but this plays a bit like a documentary, and it’s still really enjoyable. The addition of Michael Kiwanuka and Johnny Marr brings the A game, and all the versions here are huge.
Belated review of my Father’s Day gift. On his third full length, the same soulful acoustic Dylanisms and intriguing, strong songwriting are still here. An artist must grow, and a couple of tracks are drum machine pop r&b, even a hip hop-like track. It may alienate fans of earlier works, but some never want anything to change. These are just natural extensions of his sound, an exploration mission. Bugg remains a fascinating, unapologetic artist growing stronger as he goes. Fully recommended.
Whilst in Toronto a couple of weeks ago, I took the opportunity to stop by Kops Records at their Bloor/Markham location. I could have spent many, many dollars in there. There were so many vinyl tresures to be had in there! Alas, I had to be mindful of my expenditures and I had more stops to go, so I had to be good. However, I did get a couple of real goodies at Kops. This was one of my scores from there…
Jake Bugg – Shangri La (LP)
Yes, I already own this on CD, and yes, we’ve already played it a zillion times. I’ve already mentioned here, a couple of times, how much we enjoy Bugg’s two records here at our house. In fact, he’s my three-year-old daughter’s favourite, these days. She loves to hear his songs in the car, and I have absolutely no problem spinning these discs on repeat.
So why did I buy it again, this time brand new in its shrinkwrap, on LP? Well, for a couple of reasons:
1) I was digging in the bin for a copy of his first album* and, while they did not have it in stock, they did have only one copy of this, his second album, onhand and for a great price.
2) This just sounds (and feels) like an album that needs to be heard on LP. And I should note, I certainly don’t say that for everything. A lot of the time, I am happy to have things on CD. Now, I’m not certain I could tell you precisely how I know this, but some things I just know will sound even better on vinyl. It’s a gut instinct, and I follow it whenever I can.
This time? I was totally right. This LP sounds fantastic. He’s an excellent songwriter and storyteller, and at his young age we can (hopefully) expect much more greatness in the future. Total score!
* If any of you ever find his first LP, simply entitled Jake Bugg, on LP at a decent price, please please please buy it for me and I will reimburse in actual cash monies! Thanks! It looks like this:
Bugg-ing The Wee Bairns
I posted a while back about Jake Bugg, how I’ve really gotten into his music. And, since I am Chauffeur Daddy, the kids and I hear a lot of Mr. Bugg in the car. It’s gotten to the point where they specifically ask for him. “I like Jake Bugg!” says my three-year-old daughter, “play the one about the lightning bolt!” (Lightning Bolt). To which my 5-year-old son chips in, “I think he’s just making stuff up, Dad. You can’t just jump into a lightning bolt, they go too fast.” Fair enough. His favourite song, by the way, is the one “about the beast that eats beauty” (There’s A Beast And We All Feed It).
And there’s our daughter, sitting in her car seat, singing along word for word with the songs, as best she can. She has learned large chunks of them thanks to repetitive play on our trips about town. So I’ll hear her beautiful little voice singing lines from Two Fingers:
I drink to remember, I smoke to forget
some things to be proud of, some stuff to regret
and then later, she really gets excited and yells along when he sings:
something is changing, changing, changing…
But that’s not all. Listen along for a couple of tracks to Seen It All and it’s chorus that goes:
I’ve seen it all, I’ve seen it all now
I swear to God I’ve seen it all
nothing shocks me anymore after tonight
There she is singing along (loudly), as though she’s already so world-weary. They’ve been a long three years for her, it seems. Poor thing.
Now I’m just waiting for that magic moment when we’re out in public or at someone else’s house and she starts unselfconsciously singing from Simple As This:
High on a hash pipe of good intent
But it only brought me down
Tried institutions of the mind and soul
It only taught me what I should not know
That’ll turn some heads in the grocery store, won’t it!
I’m pretty sure that the 3-5 year-old demographic wasn’t really high on the list of priorities when they were marketing these albums, but in our family, Jake Bugg ranks pretty highly indeed.
New Fixation: Jake Bugg
I’m late to this party – lots of people were ‘in the know’ about this artist long before I was. But it hardly matters when you get on board, so long as you join in the fun!
Ages ago, Mike gave me a 45 by Jake Bugg. If memory serves, he’d been sent it in error on an order, and was told to just keep it. He gave it to me! Those two songs (Kentucky/Swept Away) are really, really good. Thanks heaps, Mike!
A while later, I cashed in some Airmiles (back when they still offered CDs as rewards, they no longer do) and got both Jake Bugg and Shangri La to try them out. I am not overstating when I tell you that what I heard blew me away.
According to Wiki, Bugg himself lists his influences as Don McLean, Donovan, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash and the Everly Brothers. Sure, I hear all of those. To my ear, I also hear Beach Boys production sensibilities, Bob Dylan for sure, Buddy Holly, Oasis vocals sometimes (well, he self-identified Beatles and he’s got a bit of a nasal voice and an English accent, so there you go), Paddy Casey, early David Gray, Buzzcocks, and on and on.
But it’s a disservice to just try to pigeon-hole this man’s music based on the sounds of others. Despite all of that, he has his own very distinct sound, the kind of artist I could pick out a mix of players based on his vocals alone. He’s all over the map, rocking out, punking it up, and also playing heart-rendingly beautiful solo acoustic guitar tunes.*
Anytime I’ve ever seen him play online, he has trio of drums, bass and himself on guitar, keep it simple and therein lies power too! When my lovely wife heard his stuff, she was most impressed by his lyrics, saying (absolutely correctly) that there’s “real craft” there. The man can turn a phrase with the best of them.
You just need to hear him for yourself. Go get his records (tell them Aaron from the KMA sent you!). It’s that good!
And let’s not forget, folks, that at the time of this posting Jake is 20 years old. If he continues this trajectory, and this level of excellence in his music, his is a name we’ll be hearing for the ages.
* Check out his version of his song Broken, with orchestra, at the Nobel Peace Prize concert on the Youtubes.