Thursday, October 28, 2010

I danced in flames and drunk in the depths of love...

This year has seen the passing of one musical great after another...

Gregory Isaacs, the 'Cool Ruler,' himself, one of Reggae music's true innovators - the personification and life-affirming embodiment of Lovers Rock - joins one of his producer's, Sugar Minott, in that great Dancehall in the sky.

Also, unbelievably sadly, the loss of Ari Up of The Slits at the cruelly early age of 48. For many, The Slits were the epitome of the Punk D-I-Y aesthetic - couldn't play, boorish, uneducated, raucously self-righteous, quintessentially full of themselves. What rubbish. What truth. The Slits first album is one of the most deliciously subversive records ever committed to plastic - bone raw, it rocks with a sensuality and ribald rebelliousness - and, in Ari, they had someone with the personality to pull it all together, to pull it all off.

Isaacs and Reggae music, particularly of the late 70's/early 80's, shared the same musical and cultural sensibility as Punk, and, often, similar levels of undiluted critical opprobrium. In the work of both Gregory Isaacs and Ari Up, music became, in effect, a call to arms, a unifying rallying cry. It was this overwhelming desire to communicate their musical ideas, and the success they had in doing so, that ensures their legacy.

Babylon Lovers Rock. Oh Babylon Lovers Rock.

'Mr Cop'

'Love Forever'

'So Tough,' and 'Instant Hit,' from Peel Sessions

Friday, October 22, 2010

The golden stereo...

Genius. Genius was easy for him.

Twat has long regarded Kurt Wagner and his seminal Nashville based band, Lambchop, as one of the great contemporary music makers. Released on October of this year, Kurt's latest release features a renewed collaboration with Cortney Tidwell - they recorded together in 2006. Tidwell is the granddaughter of Slim Williamson, who ran the 1960's countrypolitan record label, Chart Records - home to Lynn Anderson amongst others. It's a wonderful recording, full of understatement, sadness, joy and more than a little yee-ha. It is easily the best record of 2010 and, if TB were wont to produce an end of year best of list, then it would easily feature at number six. Buy it. Buy it now, y'all.


Connie Eaton 'Morning Blue'

Karen Wheeler 'Cry'

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Remember, remember...

On November 5th, it will be the 50th anniversary of the death of one of Hollywood's most remarkable, most resilient character actors. Ward Bond was, and is, synonymous with the films of John Ford - together they made in excess of twenty features. Bond brought an ineffable charm to these movies - his expansiveness and generosity shine throughout. What is often overlooked however, is the craft he brought to the process of film-making. Like his on and off screen friend John Wayne, Bond made it all look so easy. Yet, this is to do a disservice to his talent and to the work he put in to making his many and varied roles, for most of Hollywood's Golden Age of director's, seem as effortles as they do.

'Gentleman Jim'

'The Searchers'

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Il dolce suono...

Joan Sutherland will be remembered as one of the great operatic performers of the last hundred years. She performed and recorded extensively - her bel canto repertoire interpretations in particular are considered amongst the finest of extant recordings. Her impeccable soprano was especially suited to baroque music - it was during a performance of Handel's 'Alcina' at La Fenice in Venice, where she gained the sobriquet, 'La Stupenda;' an appellation, even at such an early distinction, that she thoroughly deserved. Her legacy as one of modern opera's greatest popular exponents is assured.

'Three baroque arias'

'Spargi d'amaro pianto'

'Sous le ciel tout etoile'

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A new box of truths...

Although the scheduled release for 'Nemesis,' is October 5th, any new Philip Roth release deserves to be given an early mention. His last three novels, some of which have engendered no little hostile criticism, involve similar themes of loss, physical and emotional impairment and psychological estrangement. Overlying 'Nemesis,' is a humanity that extends beyond the usual Rothian boundaries of tentative secularism and incisive social commentary - in fact, it is one of his strongest, even affable yet. Roth has always been overtly autobiographical in his writing - something which has tempered the sometimes savage satire central to many of his works. For those more at ease with his version of American idealism, 'Nemesis;' with its central tenets of community and the role the individual plays in ensuring the community endures, will prove a satisfying read.