Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 round-up coming soon

Apologies for anyone who has been waiting for the annual Xmas round up from all of us here at ITP (there may well be some, you never know).  However, normal service has been interrupted by a complete lack of home Internet access since December 21st. And we were just in the middle of watching the final of Junior Apprentice too. Nuts.
It's still not been turned back on, which is a clear violation of my 21st century human rights, and Ban Ki-Moon will be informed. An engineer is coming out tomorrow morning, so with luck I might just be able to post a little something before the end of 2012. But don't hold your breath. And screw Everything Everywhere.  They're shite.

In the meantime, from my comfy seat in an Internet cafe, here's Haim doing something festive originally by Adam Sandler.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Phil Space

I know mashups are so yesterday, but I was quite taken by this...

Blondie vs Philip Glass (The Daft Beatles)

Moore's Lore

Forget Cream, forget Blind Faith, forget The Power Station, forget Rocket Juice & The Moon... this is a supergroup.  From 1980-something, Wogan (introduced by Jonathan Ross) featuring Hugh Laurie, Phoebe Legere and the late, UKIP-supporting xylophonist Sir Patrick Moore.

While I can't be 100% sure of the year (and can't be bothered Googling it), I'm pretty sure it's circa 1987, as I remember seeing it at the time and being aware that Phoebe Legere had recently tinkled the ivories on that year's Dirtdish by Wiseblood, aka Clint Ruin, aka Jim Thirlwell.  You can hear more of her talents below.

Friday, November 30, 2012


And talking of sound-alikes, am I only person who, every time he hears the first 10 seconds of Foals' newie Inhaler on the wireless, thinks he's going to be treated to a burst of Follow You Follow Me by the mighty Genesis?


I may not have mentioned this before but here at Irk The Purists Towers we have an annual "Sounds Like Ladytron" competition for the song that most accurately apes said group but which isn't actually Ladyton.  This year's current leader (and unless things change dramatically in the coming 4 weeks, it will probably be crowned this year's winner) is Goods by iamamiwhoami ("crazy name, crazy guys"-Ed).  These Swedish funsters have almost certainly pipped previous winners such as Chicks On Speed and Fischerspooner to this coveted title.  They've also got the "Most Horrific Fake Eyelashes" award in the bag, too, I'll wager.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Men From Uncle

You don't need me to tell you that Manchester's huge musical legacy (Take That, the Ting Tings and some lesser-known groups such as the Happy Mondays, the Smiths and New Order) has cast something of a pall over the city's creativity in recent years.  And while I'd happily accede to the notion that Peter Hook has earned the right to do whatever the hell he wants in his hometown, even I can sometimes get a bit tired of the endless recycling of the city's glory days.

Of course, there is genuine new activity going on if you look hard enough.  Some of the brightest lights are Dutch Uncles.  I loved their last LP, Cadenza, and the new one sounds like it will be even better if the lead single, Fester, is anything to go by.  Sounding like a cross between the late, lamented Clor and 70s Canterbury scene bands, they'll appeal to anyone that likes skewed pop and difficult time signatures.  Check them out below.

Source of the Nile

Another reason I've been away from the blogging is the immense amount of reading I've been getting in, including Dave Simpson's The Fall(en),  Matt Thorne's new biography of Prince, Lindsay Reade's book about her life with Tony Wilson and the excellent history of Rough Trade by Neil Taylor.   I've just finished Bruno Tonioli's autobiog, but we'll draw a discreet veil over that.  I've also been making my way through Alex James' new book.  It's always difficult to warm to autobiographies of people (stars or otherwise) who are writing about how great their life is.  This is less of a problem when the stories start at the beginning of the protagonist's life, because at least there's usually a rags-to-riches story arc, and tales of adversity and determination that provide narrative impetus.  It's a problem, though, when the protagonist starts off rich and successful, and then proceeds to relate how they got even more rich, successful, contented etc.  I reckon this is why Chris Evans' first book sold so well, and his second (detailing his imperial phase) sold poorly.  Despite the same potential pitfalls bedevilling James' second book (in precis: rich rock star buys multi-acre farm with model wife and children), he's such a great prose stylist I'm prepared to give him a pass.

By far the most gripping recent read, though, was Nile Rodgers' autobiog, and I'm a bit miffed that I missed two recent opportunities to see the man himself talking up close and personal in my hometown (see below).  The first half of the book, describing his childhood and early adulthood, is jaw-dropping.  Born to two heroin-addicted, but nevertheless largely functional parents in an on-off relationship, with a grandmother who was probably impregnated by her own father (thus making her son also her brother...yechhh), young Nile was shuttled between family homes on both coasts of the USA, often flying as a solo passenger at the tender age of nine.  There's lots more along these lines, and I highly recommend that you read it for yourself, but his first 21 years are so astonishing that you can see why he skipped over studio sessions with the likes of The Thompson Twins and the B-52s.  In fact, despite his work with an A to Z of the rock glitterati, he only dwells at any length on two of the records he was involved with outside of Chic, namely Let's Dance and Like A Virgin.

Which means we're deprived of the story of his collaboration with Scritti Politti, which has always intrigued me, and about which I've always wanted to find out more.  There's very little info out there, however, and it certainly doesn't merit a mention in the book.  As far as I can make out, near the end of Green Gartside's first dalliance with Rough Trade circa 1982, Green was itching to move beyond the scratchy agit-prop, slightly distanced, ersatz funk and soul of Songs To Remember and actually engage directly with the R&B business.  The ever-obliging Geoff Travis, anxious to hold on to his protege, paid for the group to enter the studio with Rodgers, and by all accounts two songs emerged, an early version of Small Talk, and a song called L Is For Lover.  And while it may initially seem strange that the brown rice-eating, sandal-wearing militant lefties at Rough Trade were buying into the seemingly-superficial and excessive world of Studio 54, it should be remembered that Robert Wyatt had already covered Chic's At Last I Am Free, and as Travis admits in Taylor's book "We loved Chic at Rough Trade, and we were all pleased when Robert's the thumbs-up from the Chic camp."  Suffice it to say, though, that the results of the sessions never saw the light of day (if anyone can point me towards any mp3s that may have emerged over the past few years, i'd be eternally grateful), and Green moved on to Virgin, where he worked with Arif Mardin, Miles Davis, Roger Troutman, yada yada yada.

And there the story ends.  Except for one thing.  A few years later, Al Jarreau recorded an LP with Rodgers (again, this doesn't merit a mention in Niles' book).  The LP and its title track (also released as a single), are called "L is For Lover".  The song is credited in the publishing notes to Gamson/Gartside, and it's fantastic.  Better than Prozac, it should be prescribed to anyone with symptoms of depression.  It makes me long for a full collaboration between Rodgers and Gartside.  And yes, I last mentioned Scritti Politti only a few posts back.  So I've never gotten over my teenage crush.  So sue me.

What choo talkin' bout, Willis?

If I haven't been posting much recently, it's in part thanks to Homeland, Gary Tank Commander, Jewish Mum of The Year, The Thick of It, Fresh Meat and Strictly Come Dancing. Apologies.

I've also veen listening to quite a lot of Wesley Willis. Who hell he, you ask? I first came across Wesley in a (great) bar, where I was accosted by an imposing African-American with an unkempt appearance and a pair of expensive headphones permanently affixed to his ears. I was instructed to say "Rah" and headbutt him. Being a timid, skinny white boy, I duly complied.  Wesley then went back to his highly-detailed drawing of the Chicago skyline, done in fine-tip ballpoint. He drew from memory, I learned later.  I also learned that the permanent bruising on his forehead was result of the constant headbutts. The other patrons of the bar put me straight about Wes: that he was a gentle giant, despite his threatening demeanour. That he could be seen out most nights, in various bars, drawing and listening to music. That he was a troubled schizophrenic. And that he had had the sort of abusive and dysfunctional childhood that would make Angela's Ashes seem like Breakfast At Tiffany's.

I also learned that as well as being an avid music consumer, Wesley was also a performer, and that his band The Wesley Willis Fiasco could be seen performing regularly around the city. Intrigued, I tracked down a couple of his (self-released) CDs. As the first track played, I immediately recognised the primal, rudimentary, riff-driven groove mined by the likes of Suicide, Gene Vincent and others. Then the second track kicked in, and it was eerily similar to the first. Then the third kicked in and...well, you get the picture. Most Wesley Willis songs follow a template.  They usually describe going to see a band, often one with strong college radio / rawk leanings (Urge Overkill, Stabbing Westward, Boss Hog), though Wesley does have diverse tastes, ranging from Lonnie Brooks to Eazy-E.   The gig usually takes place at a medium-sized venue such as the Metro/Double Door/Lounge Ax. The crowd roars like a lion. The band whips a caribou's/hyena's/camel's ass. The band's name is repeated a number of times over the chorus. Then Wesley signs off with "Rock Over London, Rock On Chicago" and an advertising slogan such as "Sprint- Be There Now" or "Raid- Kills Bugs Dead".  Not all songs follow this template (there are some darker ones seemingly influenced by the demons in his head that took him on "Spooky Disharmonious Hell Rides" rather than "Harmony Joy Rides") but almost all cleave to the same template musically, if not lyrically. The tempo may shift up or down a few notches, there may be an octave or key change, but the same chord progressions on the same Casio keyboard persist.

Wesley's self-released efforts soon drew the attention of slightly bigger players in the music industry, such as Jello Biafra's Alternative Tentacles, and Rick Rubin's American Recordings (and it's nice to think that some of the Johnny Cash money found its way to Wesley), and he began to attract a following of sorts in other parts of the USA, though he remains largely unknown outside the States. Whether this attention was wholly because of his music, and how much because of morbid, freak-show-esque curiosity is hard to say, but because the personality and music were so closely entwined, it would be difficult to separate the two anyway. I certainly don't get the impression that Wesley was exploited any more than other artists in the biz (i.e. he was exploited a lot, but little of this was as a result of his size, appearance or schizophrenia).  According to Wikipedia, Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff has written that Willis' "[P]eriodic appearances for crowds of jeering white fratboys evoke an uncomfortable combination of minstrel act and traveling freak show." Conversely, guitarist Scott Anthony, who actually toured with Willis in 1998, and therefore may be better placed to gauge the crowd's reaction, said "It's not frat boys coming to his shows and making fun of him; it's punk rock kids who appreciate that he sings stuff people are thinking."  So clearly, the jury's still out. None of which should prevent you from enjoying the man's inane but highly pleasurable output.

Wesley succumbed to leukemia in 2003, but he's not forgotten.  You can get a glimpse of his personality (and for once the overused adjective "larger-than-life" is apt) and hear a bit of his oeuvre below.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Nice Werk If You Can Get It

I was very excited to see the return of Strictly Come Dancing to our screens on Saturday night.  I was even more excited to see that Ralf Hutter (above) has shed his reclusive image and opted to participate this year, alongside the likes of Lisa Riley, Sid Owen and Jerry Hall. Tanz, tanz, tanz!  Yowzah, yowzah, yowzah!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Beginners' Bad Luck

A very insightful re-appraisal of Absolute Beginners, the film that helped to sink Goldcrest, in the Quietus. Recommended.

Smokin' Kills

Kindness's single That's Alright (above) is out on Monday.  And yes, 90% of it is basically Trouble Funk's Still Smokin' from 1986, but the song was so good in the first place that I'm prepared to let it go. Trouble Funk remain among the best (and hardest-working) live acts I've ever seen. In fact, they were so hard-working that we threw in the towel before they did; after two and a half hours of non-stop, segued funk we had to hit the road, leaving Big Tony, T-Bone and the rest to continue playing without us.  God only knows what time they finished.  The chance of them touring the UK again,  though, is close to zero, given that go-go went very quickly from being the next international big thing (in 1986/87) to a strictly local, Washington DC-based phenomenon once more.  Unless this single is a big hit, of course. Here's hoping.

The official video is below, and you can get an idea of their live show from it.

Single sell analysis

Noodling around the far reaches of the Internet, I was very excited to come across these little films by Amoeba, the record store in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

They're called "What's in My Bag?"' and in them (each usually lasts about 5 to 10 minutes, perfect for a coffee break), personalities from the entertainment field (and I use the term 'personalities' advisedly) choose a number of CDs, LPs and DVDs from the well-appointed racks of the store and share them with viewers.  This is exactly what a beleaguered record retail industry should be doing to promote its wares. In particular, I've recently enjoyed the ones by Neil Hamburger, Wendy & Lisa, Jim Thirlwell, Grimes, Chromeo and Schol of Seven Bells, all of whom pulled out some surprises (who knew that Wendy was a big fan of Clinic, for example?), as well as confirming what we already guessed about their tastes.  See all 250+ episodes at 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Bland Played On

If you've ever wondered what Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons would sound like singing doo-wop, (and I know I have), my guess is it would sound pretty much like the below.

The voice in question belongs to Joe Worricker. Who hell he?  I'm glad you asked.  Joe is signed to Rough Trade (hence the collaboration with G. Gartside, above), and hails from Essex.  His single of a year or so ago, Finger Waggers, is pretty ace too.  But I'm absolutely rinsing the above track.  I think it's fantastic. Shame really, as it doesn't look like it's going to get an official release anytime soon.  

Push The Buttons

Congrats to Danny Boyle, who managed to sneak into his Olympic opening ceremony not only a sky-diving Queen (and I hope your jaws dropped too when you realised it really was Her Maj in the same room as Daniel Craig, and not Jeanette Charles, as it usually is in these sorts of things), not only a CND symbol, and not only Beth Jordache's kiss (which apparently played really well in the United Arab Emirates), but two songs by Fuck Buttons.

Of course, in the interests of pleasing as many people as possible, we also got Muse. Still, you can't have everything, eh?

Chris Marker (1921-2012) R.I.P.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Word is Out

The suckiest news of the week, and a story that bodes ill for the rest of the sector. If Mark Ellen & David Hepworth couldn't make a go of it, who can?

For Fox Sake

While I'm bigging up friends and acquaintances (and I know that name-dropping is terribly vulgar- Peter Ustinov once told me that), a quick mention for Bravofox, or Jamie Porteous as he's known to his mum. Currently resident in Ibiza, but once on the staff at my local gym, his new album is reportedly coming out later this year. You can hear some older stuff at

Blog standard

A quick shout-out for a blog that's new to me- Named (I think) for David Sylvian's most recent "difficult" recording, it explores some of the outer limits of the music biz, Rune Gramafon, ECM, that sort of thing. It's mostly in German. Wait! Come back! There are one or two English pages, including the written work of one Ian McCartney, who some of you may remember as the man behind blogs such as Hey Asda! and Digital Plamf. And for that I can commend it to you wholeheartedly.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Criminal Word

Click here for an amusing and diverting clip of Springwatch's Chris Packham shoehorning the titles of 51 Bowie tracks into the latest series of the show. He's previously done the same for The Manic Street Preachers and The Smiths, apparently, and clearly gets away with it in large part because he's clearly a total pro in all other respects.
What's always striking, though, about many of the Bowie nuts I come across is how few of them can actually pronounce his surname correctly. The chap who runs my local pub quiz- and he's perfectly wonderful in all other regards- is the same. The biggest fans are usually those that (mis)pronounce it Bowie (as in Bow Wow Wow), as Chris Packham does at 5' 19". Packham is clearly enough of an aficionado to know songs titles such as Moss Garden and Width of a Circle, so it's baffling that he doesn't actually know the name of his hero. More bizarre still was George Clinton, who pronounced it as Boo-ey on the song P-funk(Wants to get Funked Up). For the record, it's actually Bowie (as in bow and arrow). Apparently, there is an official BBC pronunciation guide that gives the correct way to pronounce, for example, the names of foreign ministers. It also tells presenters how to pronounce Bowie, though few at BBC 6Music appear to have read said guide, given the number of times its DJs say it incorrectly. And it appears Chris Packham has never read it either, possibly because he was too busy shtupping Kate Humb(snip- libel ed).

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Grand As 'Owt part 2

(Continued from previous post) Grand Royal wasn't just about winsome acoustics, though.  At the other end of the spectrum from Josephine Wiggs et al were Alec Empire's compatriots.  Empire, the prime mover behind Germany's Digital Hardcore Records, caught the eye of Mike D and thus Digital Hardcore artists including Shizuo, Atari Teenage Riot and Ec8or also released albums through Grand Royal.  You can hear Ec8or's I Don't Wanna Be A Part of This (from the album All Of Us Can Be Rich-GR047) below.

At The Drive-In were equally noisy, and were arguably, along with Luscious Jackson, Grand Royal's most successful act that weren't the Beastie Boys themselves.  Though they imploded just as they were on the verge of a commercial breakthrough, their album Relationship of Command was one of the label's stand-outs, and presaged the success that bassist Omar Rodríguez-López and drummer Cedric Bixler-Zavala would enjoy with The Mars Volta.  The pair also recorded for Grand Royal as De Facto, a dub reggae outfit.  One Armed Scissor by At The Drive In is below.

BS 2000 were Amery "AWOL" Smith and Adam Horovitz, and their two albums for the label gave Ad-Rock the chance to goof off and record relatively quickly.  Simply Mortified, their second, is a great listen, and none of its 21 songs outstay their welcome- only two are over 3 minutes long.  You can hear Wait A Minute below, and it's typical of the album: short, punchy,  daft, repetitive, simple.

Download I Don't Wanna Be A Part of This by Ec8or (mp3)
Download One Armed Scissor by At The Drive In (mp3)
Download Wait A Minute by BS 2000 (mp3)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Grand as 'Owt

An appreciation of Grand Royal, then, as planned some time before Adam Yauch's untimely death...

Few people can claim to have coined a new word in the English language.  Even fewer record labels can claim the same honour.  But The Beastie Boys' Grand Royal label, which was extant for all of 9 years, can, at least according to the Oxford English Dictionary, as in the second issue of its in-house eponymous magazine (below), it used the term "mullet" in print for the first time, referring to the hairstyle popular among hockey players and MOR rock acts.  That the Grand Royal empire extended into print as well as clothing (with the partly-Beastie bankrolled X-Large) demonstrates something of the all-encompassing nature of the group's worldview in the 1990s, as well as the extent to which they were providing a lifestyle choice as much as a soundtrack.

But its the music we'll concentrate on here.  The group's roots were in American hardcore as well as rap, which meant that the Beastie Boys had two DIY label templates to emulate; the likes of Ian MacKaye's Dischord, and their former label Def Jam.  The gambling-themed logo (seen above) seemed to suggest that a purchase from Grand Royal may have been a risky proposition.  In truth, though it put it its fair share of clunkers, it batted way above average, and discs by the likes of Luscious Jackson, DJ Hurricane, DFL and Noise Addict meant that its artistic kudos was high, even when sales weren't.  While it seemed initially that the label was going to act merely as an outlet for the Beastie Boys' less commercial offerings and side projects (Big Fat love, DFL, BS 2000), it soon branched out into genres and styles that may have seemed anathema to many of the more narrow-minded fans of the label founders' output.  The abrasiveness of EC8OR, Shizuo or Atari Teenage Riot, for example, may have been of a piece with Yauch, Diamond and Horovitz's cartoonish brattishness, but their sound, forged in Berlin, would have been a hard sell to most Beastie followers.  Similarly, the gentle, largely acoustic sounds of the Josephine Wiggs Experience, the Kostars and Ben Lee might seem a little strange to anyone who came to Grand Royal directly after buying Licensed To Ill.  But then this was a group that had long ago shed its one-dimensional sophomoric image, and was now embracing Buddhism and basketball, feminism and fashion.  So the eclectic nature of the label, which could encompass the likes of Bis, the Propellerheads, the Moistboyz and Ween, was entirely appropriate.

It's to the aforementioned gentler sound of the label that we'll turn initially.  The Kostars were Jill Cunniffe and Vivian Trimble of Luscious Jackson, and their sole album of campfire songs, Klassics With a K (GR 025) is one of the highpoints of the label's output, though unjustly overlooked.  You can download Jolene on the Freeway below.  It's good driving music, though it helps if the sun is out and you're on a wide flat road, somehere like Nevada.  A tailback on the M25 might not be the right setting.  Ben Lee, the one-time love interest of Claire Danes, was Grand Royal's Australian wunderkind, fronting Noise Addict from the age of 14.  His second solo album Something To Remember Me By (GR 044) came out when he was a relatively ancient 19 years old.   Bear that in mind when you listen to Household Name, a meditation on the ravages of fame on young stars in the entertainment industry.  Last of all, The Josephine Wiggs Experience bring you Make Me Feel Like Doris Day from the album Bon Bon Lifestyle (GR 035).  Wiggs was the then-partner of Luscious Jackson's Kate Schellenbach, as well as a member of The Breeders, which presumably led to her record coming out on Grand Royal.  I'd like to think, though, that the album stands on its own merits, regardless of possible nepotism.  Part two of our appreciation to follow.

Download Household Name by Ben Lee (mp3)
Download Jolene on The Freeway by Kostars (mp3)
Download Make Me Feel Like Doris Day by Josephine Wiggs Experience (mp3)

Monday, May 07, 2012

Sex Gang Children

Meanwhile, life goes on.  I'm very much enjoying the reggae-inflected work of Hollie Cook, daughter of Sex Pistols and Edwyn Collins' drummer Paul Cook.  You can see more at her website here.

Incidentally, do you think anyone could get away with calling their band Sex Gang Children in this day and age? I'm slightly surprised that no tabloid editors have called for a retrospective burning of the group's output...

R.I.P. Adam Yauch 1964 - 2012

Above- a rare vocal performance by MCA on Brenda K Starr's album track "Suspicion" from 1985.

Coincidentally, I already had May lined up in my head as the month for a Grand Royal label retrospective (hence my comment about Ben Lee in the previous post), and Yauch's untimely death has made this extremely apposite.  So expect downloads from the likes of Ben Lee, the Kostars, Buffalo Daughter and Sean Lennon over the next few weeks.

Monday, April 30, 2012

School Daze

And speaking of Homeland, just how cute is Morena Baccarin, the Brazilian-born actress that plays opposite Damian Lewis?  You can see her here, second from the right, just next to Clare Danes (who once squired Ben Lee- of whom more next month).  I'm a total sucker for that haircut. Yowzah.

It partly explains (though only partly) my affection for School of Seven Bells.  This shoegaze-esque group, nominally a duo, though usually augmented by additional musicians (in particular Allie Alvarado aka Painted Face), features the winsome Alejandra Deheza on vocals, and she bears a marked resemblance to the aforementioned Homeland actress.  Of course, that's merely a nice bonus.  Even if she looked like Hylda Baker (or even Arthur Baker), I'd still be greatly attracted to the SVIIB sound.  If you've ever wondered what Slowdive would have sounded like if they'd come from Williamsburg rather than Reading-- hey, who hasn't?-- I imagine they'd have sounded a lot like this.  The new single The Night is out next week, and you can hear them performing it on the Jimmy Fallon Show below.

Dick Institute

The new that Dick Clark died last week wasn't a big deal on this side of the Atlantic.  It was a big deal in the US, however, because of Clark's long-standing association with American Bandstand.  This little piece details some of the highlights (and lowlights) of his long career, including interviews and performances from the likes of Madonna,  Devo, Run DMC, The Beach Boys and more.  However, it's mostly of interest for an absolutely jaw-dropping 10 minutes of Clark trying to corral a recalcitrant Metal Box-era Public Image Ltd.  Even though it's over 30 years old, it's as much must-see TV as this week's episode of Homeland.

Test Department

A great piece by St. Etienne's Bob Stanley on a British institution.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Keeping it Surreal

Do you want to know what's totally grinding my gears right now? What's totally rippin' ma knittin'? It's the overuse and misuse of the word "surreal".  From having specific art-historical connotations, its meaning has been debased until it's now a synonym of "slightly unusual".

I know this is hardly a new thing. But the latest generation of media airheads seems to use "surreal" with depressing regularity, each time moving it further from its initial context and into the realm of banality. I just heard it being said on the radio (6Music, Lauren Laverne, of whom I expect better). And I heard it with depressing frequency at and around this year's Oscars.  Examples?  Shailene Woodley calling the Oscar rumour-mill "surreal". The Oscar ballot counter calling his job "surreal".  And Trent Reznor calling his Oscar nomination.... well you get the idea.

Worse, each red carpet guest on the night itself was asked by reporters "What's your most surreal moment of the night so far?"  With so many art collectors in La-La Land (and with its history of supporting filmmakers with genuine surrealist credentials, such as Bunuel and Hitchcock), you really hoped that some wise guy outside the Kodak Theater [sic] might point up the misuse of the term by answering "Well, I just saw Guillaume Apollinaire and Rene Magritte talking to Lindsay Lohan."  But no one did. So it goes.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Rawkus Assembly

Congratulations, too, to The Sun newspaper for providing an early contender for the Irk the Purists' Headline of the Year award last Friday.  Accompanying an article about the arrest of Falkirk MP Eric Joyce for allegedly assaulting a fellow member, the headline read "Commons Have A Go If You Think You're Hard Enough".

Now as a Guardian-reading, brown-rice eating, bed-wetting relativist liberal, you'd possibly expect me to denounce all the works of Rupert Murdoch and his progeny. And yes, I'll concede that their business and journalistic methods leave something to be desired. But when he's not bring national institutions to their knees, James Murdoch (son of Rupert and until today the chairman of News International) is cold getting busy with the flavor.  He's chilly most. He knows what's def. What's wack. What's jam. What's straight-up booty.

For strange as it may seem, Murdoch fils, before he became better known for his cameo appearances at  the Levenson Enquiry, was one of the co-founders of the seminal hip hop label Rawkus, which helped to launch the careers of Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monche, Hi-Tek, Common and, notably, Mos Def. The label, in fact, was bought by News International in 1998, some two years after the label's launch, before being sold on to MCA.  It's salutary, isn't it, to think of James Murdoch in a disreputable industry, having to deal every day with thugs, reprobates, unsavoury managers and hangers-on. If only he'd stuck to hip hop instead of going into journalism (b'dum tsh).

To recall the days when James Murdoch was almost as hip as James Lavelle, rather than the blinking, evasive character we see on our TV screens today, here's a little something by Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek from 1999 or so.

Download Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek The Express (mp3)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Nursery Cryme

Congratulations to the strangely-named Gotye for releasing the first UK no. 1 single to exactly mimic the scansion of "Baa Baa Black Sheep".  The only exculpatory circumstance may be that, being Belgian, he may be unaware of the aforementioned nursery rhyme. Even so, whether he's aware of the steal or not, this sing-songy drivel was played ad nauseam over a tannoy system while taking the slopes on a recent skiing holiday, to the extent that it completely obliterated the theme tune to Ski Sunday that was playing in my head, and which is my preferred music of choice when on the piste.

Monday, January 09, 2012

There Is Nothing Like A Dame

Happy birthday David Bowie, 65 today (actually, yesterday now: I'm writing this on the stroke of midnight).

A fantastic blog, which, among other things, made me listen to Low in a completely new light. Extra points if you get the (double) meaning of the blog title: Pushing Ahead Of The Dame

And given that you've probably heard Starman, Life on Mars, Fame, Golden Years etc. ad nauseam, here's one of his lesser-known singles, but a particular fave of mine from the mid-90s, Jump They Say.  Notable for many reasons, not least his reunion with Nile Rodgers, the excellent trumpet of Lester Bowie (no relation) and the nod to Chris Marker's La Jetee in the video, it's also an oblique reference to his brother Terry, who inspired many of the Dame's songs (the Bewlay Brothers for example).

Sunday, January 08, 2012

2011 R.I.Ps- late entries

Three luminaries who passed away at the end of 2011, the obituaries of whom escaped my notice until after I'd filed my last post....

James Rizzi        (5th Oct 1950  to 26th Dec 2011) (obituary here)

Sori Yanagi (1915 to 25th Dec 2011) (obituary here)

Eva Zeisel (November 13, 1906 – December 30, 2011)