Sunday, October 31, 2010

"But it's amazing what you can achieve when you just go for it. In James May's Man Lab we built our own pub – from the bar and the pumps to the flock wallpaper"

Is that bathos, or pathos? Or both?

And then on his idea of creating "an ideal gentlemen's club", somewhere blokes can bring their DIY and fix-it-up projects and share tools:

"You do a bit of woodwork or metalwork and have a beer at the same time."

Sounds a bit dangerous!

Still this is something I have wondered myself in recent years: like, do people still have hobbies? Or does leisure now consist overwhelmingly of social networking, fandom,knowledge-nerdery, etc etc i.e. entirely textual/cultural... When I were a lad, seemed like a lot of people (kids and adults) made models, whittled wood, inserted miniature ships inside bottles, etc etc. It's hard to imagine anyone still engages in these pastimes, but perhaps there's a whole underworld.

In amidst the anecdotes about building bodged-together frankenstein-style bicycles and remote-controlled aeroplanes May ventures some social analysis:

"There's a generational difference at work here. Basic mechanics and woodwork were common currency at a time when Britain was much more of a manufacturing nation. I spent my formative years in South Yorkshire, where a lot of people's dads were employed in industry, and making stuff with your hands was just seen as a natural extension of the culture of the area. And yes, with the disappearance of those industries, the skills, too, have disappeared to some extent."

A good point. In a postproduction society you're going to have more and more people who aren't good with their hands, they're good with information. Code-work, net-navigation, pattern recognition, semionautical skills, etc etc

Saturday, October 30, 2010

it gets significantly better than this

but i've flipped my opinion on the Furs

they had Style

people have various complaints about what got left out of Rip It Up, the notion that a book is necessarily Finite doesn't seem to occur to them, but out of the "by your own definition, this fits" objections, the ones that do strike me as having some pertinence are:

Why not The Clash? (yeah yeah they made lots of postpunk-y/even PiL-y moves - dub,funk, rap, world-y -- but too rock'n'roll aren't they?)

Why not The Police? (yeah yeah, innovative, the punky reggae thing, live did all this improvisational stuff stretching out the songs, guitar-as-texture, drums-as-lead, Very Serious Political Lyrics, also anticipating New Pop with their characterful videos etc etc -- but they are part of the phenomenon, which is worth coming back to, of Crypto-Prog New Wave/Ex-Prog Infiltrating New Wave)

Why not The Stranglers? (I totally agree actually... they even went New Poppy/synthpoppy with "European Female", an easy transition what with them already being synthrock).

And then the Psychedelic Furs, who were Peel faves circa the singles that led up to the first album, and did also make the transition, rather effectively one concedes in retrospect, to New Pop with this Visage/Japan remodelling of sound and image. although it didn't succeed as New Pop in the U.K. (none of those songs were hits, i don't think) but only in the USA as part of the Second British Invasion / MTV wave.

going back to the Peel-fave era and the first album (which I bought at the time), this was my favourite of those three early Furs singles. and it is entrancing as an exercise in vapid yet compelling atmosphere/mystique (very much a la Bolan/Banshees actually)

Friday, October 29, 2010

it doesn't get much better than this

well okay it does, quite a bit better than this - but what a peculiar production, it must have sounded immense in a really big night club

at the time i was mildly outraged that they'd ripped off the bassline to "Good Times" but you have to concede that they took it somewhere rather different than Chic

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's hard to think of anything more credibility-blowing than admitting you once owned and enjoyed a UB40 album.

But I bought Signing Off when it came out and unless I'm mistaken the bonus 12 inch that came with it is the first dub record I owned.*

I sold the record a few years later (ah, those student days of restricted funds when to get new records you craved you sometimes had to sell off a bunch of things you liked to get cash...).

But you know what, listening, 30 years later, to the Virgin/EMI reissue of Signing Off that came through the mail recently, -- I can see what I saw in it.

Especially with the first double A-sided single, "King" / "Food For Thought", a huge UK hit.

Bass, drums, rhythm guitar, keyboards--they're all rock solid. The singing too, actually, is fine. What lets the side down slightly is the sax, which doesn't have the Jamaican sound, is a bit smarmy and New Wave/New Pop. More Pelican West on mogadon than rootical.

"King" especially is a great tune.

(I mean, be honest now, can you actually remember an Aswad melody, apart from "Don't Turn Around"?)

Now this one, this one is dread.

Singles off the second album are dreary ("One In Ten"), didn't bother checking out that LP.

Then Labour of Love era, which I think is what UB40-hate is mainly based on (and fair enough). (Although "Red Red Wine" is more tolerable in conjunction with the black-and-white kitchen-sink-drama-esque video).

But what about this late period gem?

I bought this at the time. Massive B-line.

* Unless this geezer's LP counts as dub. That would have come out just before Signing Off I think, summer of 1980. PiL themselves were influenced by heavy roots reggae and dub obviously, but their records never actual sound dubby in the classic sense of all those mixing-desk tricks.
"chips of plutonium/are twinkling in every lung"

both far more effective than "Two Tribes"

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Linkin Park create their own genre with A Thousand Suns.... After A Thousand Suns, all rock 'n' roll will revolve around Linkin Park"--Rick Florino,Artistdirect

what a load of cobblers

overwraught and over-wrought

i've listened to the whole album... overall sound-wise it's like Chinese Democracy produced by David Sitek... torrid sterility...

Also, a concept album about nuclear war!

come off it guvnor

the theme of nuclear war is even more retro than doing a concept album

Reminds me, the other day I asked Kieran (eleven now) if he knew what nuclear war was, because it occurred to me there's really no reason he'd ever have come across the notion, and sure enough, he had no idea what it referred to. Didn't know what a nuclear bomb was.

What a weight off young minds's that must be, to grow up without thinking the world's going to get blown to kingdom come. Of course they have other stuff to worry about.

(One of my school projects when I was about 15 was on World War Three including if X amount of megatonnage got dropped on London, then what the blast radius would be... concluding that in Berkhamsted, while we wouldn't get the firestorm, we would get house-flattening 500 miles-per-hour winds followed in due course by the radioactive fallout. I don't think the nuclear winter effect was widely known about at that point (1978-ish), or at least it wasn't in the CND type literature I consulted. But it did featur in one of those early Eighties made-for-TV films about the aftermath of nuclear attack (famine, plagues of insects, etc) and on the back of "Two Tribes" where you have the breakdown of causes of mass death by category.)

I should have posted this on the 70s blog really.

Actually that reminds me further, my brother Tim had a proto-hauntological interest in nuclear shelters. It went back to the discovery of an abandoned one in a cow pasture just up the road from us in Berkhamsted. We actually climbed down in it as boys (accompanied by adults I hasten to add). Bunk beds, sandbags, kinda what you'd expect. Investigating this as a grown-up, Tim discovered that there was a circuit of similar small underground shelters located in the countryside on the outskirts of insignificant-seeming towns, stretching across the country, built during I guess the 50s/60s, for local government figures to shelter in presumably, or military personnel--whoever would form the skeleton of an administrative structure following a full-scale nuclear attack on the U.K. But by the early 70s, when we went down it, this particular one had fallen into disuse and seemed to have been completely forgotten about. The manhole-like entrance was surrounded by thistles and cowpats.

it gets a hell of a lot better than this admittedly does disprove the idea that Ozzy did absolute nothing worth hearing after Sabbath

put it this way: i wouldn't flick to another station if this came on in the car.

indeed i don't flick to another station when this comes on in the car.

(you really want the proper studio version of this -- cleaner riffage -- someone's spliced a live version onto the original video for some reason)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

it can get quite a bit better than this

still, pretty nifty sliver of Radio Rock from one of the form's maestros

clean clear and menthol cool

(bit of a blatant rip from Free's "alright now" at the start though)

this is his godhead Moment, right

great synth, you could almost imagine he had an E2-E4 in him

and this one was a David Mancuso Loft favourite

it gets substantially better than this

but it's a total charmer, and the musical backing really pumps

Q: Will New Wave ever get hip? Be a resource for ransacking?

Monday, October 25, 2010

it does not get a whole heap better than this

Tom Browne is the Artiste but he barely features on the record!

i mean, that's him soloing right at the start... and then.... he's just part of the horn section, right? who don't exactly dominate the recording

for years and years i just assumed that Tom Browne was the bassist, as the bass was obviously the stellar instrument, the most striking and ear-entrancing and reason-to-buy hook on the record -- of course it's the mighty Marcus Miller

also thought they were funkin for Jamaica Jamaica... i'd never heard of Jamaica, Queens

this was my sixth or seventh single... bought it from Virgin Megastore on a trip up to town, along with "Down in the Tube Station At Midnight"
Melissa Maerz on Sesame Street as friend of gay liberation
"I want someone younger than me to get foolish about pop again, to stop telling me all the things I could be listening to and start telling me why I SHOULDN’T listen to certain things. Reattach guilt to pop, reattach hierarchy, reattach shame, reattach style, remember style’s difference from fashion instead of just adding their void-voice to the general hey-if-you-enjoy-it-that’s-cool numbness of discussion. Stop fucking rehabilitating everything and start locking stuff up and out and AWAY. Out of reach for a reason. Pleasure forced to justify itself again"--fighting talk from Neil Kulkarni in his Quietus jumping-the-gun-a-bit end of year report on hip hop's state of the art (but so much more than that)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

it really doesn't get much better than this

or this

but this is actually my favourite

Saturday, October 23, 2010

it doesn't get any better than this

unless it's this

or this

or this


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

christ, how depressing...
it doesn't get much better than this

has there been a UK #1 single since with so much space in it, so much atmosphere?

and before it? fleetwood mac's "albatross" maybe

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

new collective blog about the 1970s ... and what will be left of them?

contributors include Carl Impostume

and me, when i get around to it
while i'm posting random stuff i heard on the car radio

this caught my ear the other day driving through Pasadena (ah, i see Far East Movement are a/ local and b/ reflective of the amazing Asian-American-ness of Los Angeles and c/ on the verge of topping Billboard right about now)

"G6" has that "arrested futurism" quality, just like Black Eyed Peas "Boom Boom Pow"

like the backing could almost be some bleepy-bassy track from Northern England circa 1990, Original Clique or something

808-bassed electro has become almost like the blues, it's part of the grammar of dance as blues moves,progressions etc were in rock

in that sense this single is as "fresh" as ZZ Top were in 1983

but I liked ZZ Top in 1983 so no worries
it doesn't get much better than this

can't find the original video except in embedding-disabled form, what a pain

the amazing thing about it is that they looked impossibly haggard and leathery even then, 1981, when they were quite a bit younger than me now

when Keef first hoves into view in the bottom right hand corner of the screen, it's like some pithecanthropic man popping out of nowhere

but the music ... that deceptively scrappy, casual-seeming groove... loose yet tight, feeling like it might disintegrate any minute. yet absolutely implacable, tireless ("i'll never stop")

and the er salty lyric

Monday, October 18, 2010

it doesn't get much better than this

Sunday, October 17, 2010

it's one of the oddest come-ons in all of pop

there's something about you, girl

that makes me sweat

mmm, seductive!

great song though

bought it at the time

almost kinda "Late New Pop"

with that just a bit too grid-like and plotted-out whiteboy take on funk

like a stadium rock version of ACR's "Shack Up"

actually connecting to the previous two posts, "Need You Tonight" has a certain rock-funk commonality with "Fame"

and when it comes to rockdisco, absolutely any excuse to post this

Saturday, October 16, 2010

oh yeah, talking about Bowie on LA radio, I was gobsmacked by a remix of "Golden Years" I heard on KCRW a week or so ago, took me a while to work out which Bowiesong it actually was

turns out it's from a series of special remixes of "Golden Years" that KCRW have done with permission on account of the reissue of Station To Station (one of the Bowie LPs I've never quite got into despite the amazingness of "Golden Years"... another actually is Heroes which seems markedly less special than Low or Lodger)

the rmx that flabbergasted my ears was the one by KCRW's Eric J. Lawrence, done in collaboration with Samuel Bing who fronts the LA band Fol Chen -- -- unlike the other three mixes it's not dance-ified which is all to the good -- it actually sounds a bit like that Lizzy Mercier Descloux album Mambo Nassau -- but more fractured and... ceremonial

Friday, October 15, 2010

it doesn't get much better than this

David Bowie - Ashes To Ashes from Viinyscrib on Vimeo.

bonus mix

heard a nice "Ashes to Ashes" cover version on the local NPR station the other day by West Coast band Warpaint

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

more songs for Tim

apparently it was me who turned Tim onto Husker Du, so his friends told me... but if so it was small payback for him having turned me onto punk rock in the first place