Wednesday, July 11, 2007

George you're on my mind


While it wasn't entirely unexpected, the death of George Melly leaves the world a slightly less interesting place, and deprives us of a particularly talented polymath. Though known primarily for his surrealist tendencies, his jazz stylings as "Good Time George", and as the long-time vocalist for John Chilton's Feetwarmers, it was through his writings rather than his music that I got to know his work, and if you've never come across his books, then his autobiographies (in particular Rum, Bum and Concertina) are a good place to start. His opus of 1970, Revolt Into Style, is as good a look at British pop culture as you could wish for, simultaneously detached and intrigued by the rise of the Stones and the Beatles, and able to key into parallel accomplishments in the theatre and film. Unfortunately, it's now out of print, and second hand copies start at an eye-watering £80 it seems. I'm also very fond of his coffee-table book Paris and the Surrealists, which features ravishing black and white photography of the city in question, and which imparts a particularly sinister subtext to all those deserted arcades, dusty boulangeries, and shop windows full of dolls' glass eyes (which otherwise wouldn't be sinister at all, eh?). This too, seems to be out of print, though second hand copies won't set you back nearly as much.

Anyway, on the assumption that you came here to listen rather than to read book reviews, here's a neat bit of video, which serves as a lovely post-script to his life, and which reminds us of his always-present anarchic streak. It also (nearly) makes you want to forgive The Stranglers for the rest of their career... a tip of the fedora to the original poster of this video, too. Good work, fella.

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