Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Scott of the Anarchic

Annoyingly, my filesharing service is undergoing some restructuring at the moment, and files of more than 2MB can't be uploaded. Grrrr. However, I haven't been completely wasting my time recently. No, I haven't got around to regrouting the bathroom. Instead, I've been whiling away many a hapy hour at YouTube, along with millions of other sleep-deprived netizens (some 6 million within only 5 months, according to this report).

Pick of the bunch so far, and quite timely given the current adulation given to The Drift, has to be this Scott Walker appearance from The Tube from 1986. Scott gamely answers questions before introducing his then-current single from Climate Of Hunter (Virgin's worst selling album ever, by all accounts). Muriel Gray, who's usually pretty reliable, seems not to have done her homework, and appears unaware that the former Mr. Engel had any sort of career between 1968 and 1986.

Climate must be the one of the few records to feature both Billy Ocean and Mark Knopfler among its alumni; curious, too, that he rejected Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois as album producers, according to this interview in The Wire.

One other thing: he's quite similar to GG, below; a former pin-up who wants to distance himself from his past, painted as a recluse by the press (though Scott's been busy producing Pulp and scoring movie soundtracks, while Green's been working with Kylie Minogue and single-handedly keeping the pubs of North and East London profitable), given to long absences from the music biz, always feted in the pages of the music press and the broadsheets on his return, and usually selling naff all. Never mind, eh. Roll on 2013, which is probably the earliest point at which we can expect any new product from either of them.

Buy The Drift.

More Scott here.

Friday, May 12, 2006

They're baaack!

Or rather, he's back. With only their fifth album in 28 years, Scritti Politti make Kraftwerk seem like workaholics. But never mind the quantity, feel the quality; most groups are lucky to make one masterpiece in their lives, while Green Gartside (for it is he) has managed three thus far (Songs To Remember, Cupid and Psyche 85 and Anomie & Bonhomie: we'll overlook Provision, his third album), and White Bread, Black Beer, to be released in early June, looks like it might shape up to be another, judging by the two tracks I've heard so far. Hell, even Simon Reynolds is in a froth.

Equally exciting is the news that Green has been playing live recently, breaking a 26 year duck that stemmed from an onstage panic attack in 1980. First Jandek, now Green Gartside...presumably the odds are now shortened on the Syd Barrett 2007 world tour...

Apparently, this is a back-to-basics effort, and appropriately enough, it's going to be released by Rough Trade, Scritti's original label. 2006 finds Green (now pushing 50 and recently married) in a very upbeat and positive frame of mind; would another album before 2010 be totally out of the question? The single, The Boom Boom Bap is out in mid-June, but you can stream it here.

Buy White Bread Black Beer.

Bibbly-O-Tek blog.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Shack attack

Saw ACR last weekend at the Triptych, and a very good thing they were too, even 28 years after their debut. Though they always seemed to be operating in Joy Division's (and later New Order's) shadow, at least while they were on Factory, anyone who looked beyond the superficial similarities saw that they were their own group, not copyists. In fact, if anything, it was New Order who were often shadowing A Certain Ratio. The latter flirted with the dancefloor while New Order were still continuing Joy Division's legacy in 1981; ACR released the stunning electro epic Waterline a full year before Blue Monday; ACR saw the writing on the wall and jumped ship to a major four years before New Order were forced to do the same. But, as someone else said in another context, it's no good being ahead of your time. You've got to be on time. And so ACR were always the bridesmaid, but never the bride.

Like most aficionados, I dig their "James Brown in a morgue" era (c. 1979-82) the most, but unlike some others I don't dismiss their post-Simon Topping output. Force and Good Together are terrific albums, and both ACR:MCR and Up In Downsville have their moments. Their major label sojourn ended after the expected hits failed to materialise, though the group wisely managed to build a studio with the advance they got. Before they were dropped, though, A&M had plans to release a Norman Cook remake of Shack Up (deleted Feb 2007), arguably their best-known Fac-era work. It never made it past the white label stage, but Irk The Purists is proud to present it for your delectation here. Scratchy vinyl clicks are essential.

Buy ACR CDs.

Buy more ACR CDs.