Sunday, October 20, 2013

Dolby Laboratories

Leafing through today's Daily Mail (hey, it's for research purposes only), I was gratified to read the heart-warming story of a 33 year old man who has spent $100,000 on plastic surgery in a quest to make himself look more like his pop star idol.  And I have to admit, it's money very well spent. He very closely resembles Thomas Dolby in his pomp.

Wait, hang on a second...what do you mean he was trying to look like Justin Bieber?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Chips Ahoy

As I've said here before, Hot Chip are one of those bands that, on paper, should entirely float my boat.  In reality, they rarely get me as excited as they should.  This, though, from Hot Chip member Joe Goddard, is entirely lovely and follows a string of great releases on Goddard's Greco-Roman label.  Which is making me wonder; maybe it's Alexis Taylor that's holding them back from greatness and keeping them in the realms of averageness.

Set too

...and speaking of El, Cherry Red and Mike Alway, The Monochrome Set are seemingly back, back, back with a new album and tour.  Here they are in their heyday on The Tube :

Winsome, losesome

...and taking of fake identities, here's a great interview with Simon Fisher-Turner.  As well as rubbing shoulders with Jonathan King, Derek Jarman, Mike Alway and Daniel Miller- not all at the same time, sadly-, Simon was once one half of Deux Filles, purportedly two winsome French girls making beatless guitar music (think a Gallic Durutti Column) but in reality Fisher-Turner, along with Colin Lloyd Tucker, both in drag.  His oeuvre is well worth a listen, in particular his stuff as The King of Luxembourg, and you can buy Deux Filles CDs and read a full bio here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

That's a Rap

I should draw your attention to two documentaries, both good, one of them great. Both touch on a genre with a vested interest in "keeping it real", and both paradoxically concerned with fakery.  The first, The Great Hip Hop Hoax (available for another 6 days on iPlayer) told the story of Silibil 'n' Brains, purportedly two Californian Eminem-alikes, but who were really two college pals from Arbroath and Dundee respectively, and who inked a deal with Sony, partied with the stars and supported D12  back in 2004.  It's a fascinating story, extremely well told using contemporaneous footage, interviews with music biz talking heads, animation and commentary from then then-estranged duo themselves, speaking in their native brogue rather than the Californian twang they affected to get themselves signed.  Ostensibly a cautionary tale, it seems to have had an unexpected coda, as the pair have become reacquainted and seemingly relaunched their musical careers. 

The other documentary, I Want My Name Back, has some similarities, outlining the story of the Sugarhill Gang and their fractious and litigious relationship with the label that gave them their name.  A story of fakery and subterfuge, it told of how Sylvia Robinson of Sugarhill repeatedly inserted her name into the writing credits of Sugarhill artists, how her husband and business partner withheld royalties from the bands, and, most egregiously, of how the group had their band name and (in the case of two of them-Master Gee and Wonder Mike) even their own rap pseudonyms trademarked behind their backs.  The net result of this chicanery was that he group was left unable to perform, their efforts being thwarted by lawyers at every turn.  The David vs. Goliath narrative, though, was slightly undermined by the less-than-black-and-white nature of the participants, a point elided over by the documentary makers.  What might initially appear as a clear-cut case of identity theft was attenuated by the fact that one of the original group members (Big Bank Hank) was still performing with the supposed usurpers, making this less a case of straightforward imitation, and more one of factionalism, akin to that of many rock groups the world over-  cf the Sugababes.  Also not dwelt upon in this tale of piracy and copyright refutation was the fact that the group's most successful song, Rappers' Delight, was itself based upon a stolen piece of music by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, both of whom went uncredited during the song's heyday.  Despite these cavils, the sheer magnetism of Wonder Mike and Master Gee was enough to convince this viewer that while they may not have had the sole rights to the name and the songs, as they claim, they have a stronger case to be called the official Sugarhill Gang than do those who are the current legal owners of it.  The doc is available on Netflix and on iTunes. 

Double trouble

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If it is, I should have been deeply flattered to come across another blog on a rival blogging platform with exactly the same name as this one...

No, it's not me. Christ, I can barely manage a post per month on this one, so I'm hardly likely to start another one, am I? Strangely, though, it does have a similarly broad approach to popular culture as this blog...Focus, Osymyso, John Carpenter... and the guy (?) can certainly write well. I LOLed at his description of RockBox being played at ASBO-level volume.  Sadly, it seems to have crashed and burned after a couple of months. Which means you're just going to have to put up with me. And if it does come back to life, well, c'est la vie.  I don't own the name, and anything that draws more attention to Nigel Blackwell is OK by me.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Kind of Magic

Single of the year?  It's only October, but I don't think this effort (by Luke Temple of Here We Go Magic) will be bettered. It reminds me of the sorts of songs that you'd hear on John Peel or Kid Jensen night after night, often on European labels, and which you'd swear were going to cross over and be massive hits (Heaven Sent by Paul Haig springs to mind) but which would then limp to no. 63.  I doubt that Katie will even graze the top 100, but it's still a fantastic song with some nagging hooks.