Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sign of the times...

It was my intention to do a fabulous blog posting on Prince for my 174th piece. You know the kind of thing - lots of links, video, music downloads, the works, right?
After all, it's 30 years since 'Controversy,' 25 since 'Parade,' and 20 since 'Diamonds and Pearls,' musical milestones one and all; the man deserves all over again to be recognised as the genius he undoubtedly is...

Instead, this post is all about the hideously untimely death of the young singer, Amy Winehouse. I never knew Amy Winehouse. However, I was genuinely, emotionally affected by her unerring ability to write great pop songs and her compelling talent in performing them in a way that was both breathlessly intimate and startlingly forthright - my suspicions are that she found it difficult to suffer foods gladly; witness her self-deprecating, bullshit detecting video performances.

We are, all of us, culpable, in small ways and large, in Amy Winehouse's death - the media, and our complicitness in accepting what they say as fact, stridently 'encourages' us to accept the unacceptable about people and celebrity - in Amy's case, the blackly choreographed images of the crack smoking, vodka binge drinking, consistently amoral rock star...

Of course, Amy was no angel. More than a passing familiarity with her lyrics will demonstrate that she co-inhabited a dark side, was hugely attracted to it and the casual gratification it could so mesmerisingly offer. Like Blake, Coleridge and Curtis before her, Amy had an undoubted fascination with dissolution, the 'active evil better than passive good,' that so informed her art whilst so misinforming others' conspired opinions of her.

More than anything else, the other real victims in this are her family and friends. Their pain is real and always will be. Her fans, and there are many, have lost not only the object of their love, affection and, often, infatuation, they have lost a part of what it feels like to be young and alive and to love someone who could articulate their most private of feelings in a way no one else could or dared to.

Some magic is now missing from their lives, and from mine.

I never knew Amy Winehouse. By many accounts, she was a shy, fiercely intelligent woman just beginning to mine the first seams of her talents, to show just what, as an artist, she was capable of - it's a tragedy and a travesty that we will never have the opportunity of seeing these talents flourish...

RIP Amy.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Two of a rare kind...

Mickey Newbury is one of those unique artists who changes your life with every song of his you hear. He is famous for his arrangement of 'An American Trilogy,' recorded by him for his 1971 release 'Frisco Mabel Joy,' even though it's Elvis Presley's 1972 version that everyone remembers...

Newbury's style is almost impossible to categorise - 'An American Trilogy,' is hardly indicative of his, overwhelmingly, devastatingly beautiful, heartbreaking songs of the inevitable losing of love.

More than a thousand artists have covered Newbury songs and his influence on near contemporaries such as Gene Clark, Kris Kristofferson and John Prine, as well as current songwriters of the calibre of Will Oldham, Ryan Adams and Steve Earle is near immeasurable.

A retrospective of his early albums has recently been reissued on St Cecelia Knows Records. If you're a fan of Townes Van Zandt, Bruce Springsteen or David Ackles - and, yes, he more than deserves to be in their company - then treat yourself to the criminally underrated songbook of Mickey Newbury...

Flannery O'Connor is, quite simply, one of America's greatest writers. Later this year, some of her early drawings are to be published in book form - details of the publisher remain unclear at the moment.

The one or two teaser illustrations that have found their way on-line show similarities with her prose - highly evocative, resolutely individualistic, tenderly tragi-comic.

Here's to their publication.

Flannery O'Connor - Guardian 05/07/11

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Yes, it IS Giro day...

Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer have been tickling our skeletons for over 20 years now (can it be?).

In a comedy landscape curently devoid of anything but tired cliche, crass 70's style observational stand-up and mawkish shite, shite, more shite shit-com, Vic and Bob stand out like a very large beacon, thrice painted, with fluorescent yellow paint.

Then painted again.

Vic and Bob represent one of the last bastions of comedy - a truthful, truly unique and highly sophisticated comedy of non-sense. Like the Marx Brothers before them - surely their rightful comedic antecedents - their work exudes a childlike joyfulness/wantonness which, wide open-mouthed, marvels at the silliness-of-it-all.

We look forward to more of their Afternoon Delights.

Friday, July 1, 2011

'...too lascivious for 11 year olds, too sophisticated for BBC2'

**CLICK on the above picture for something entertaining**

Delia Derbyshire is, unquestionably, one of the great figures in post-war British music. From the very early 1960's; after successfully securing an attachment with the fledgling BBC Radiophonic Workshop, her prodigious talent, coupled with her unbridled enthusiasm for emerging music, was obvious.

Shortly before Delia died, she wrote the following: "Working with people like Sonic Boom on pure electronic music has re-invigorated me. He is from a later generation but has always had an affinity with the music of the 60s. One of our first points of contact - the visionary work of Peter Zinovieff, has touched us both, and has been an inspiration. Now without the constraints of doing 'applied music', my mind can fly free and pick-up where I left off."

For giving us all the opportunity to let our minds fly free, thanks Delia.

Delia Debyshire & Barry Bermange - 'Falling'

Delia, Brian Hodgson and David Vorhaus 'Your Hidden Dreams' from 'An Electric Storm' by White Noise

Minor 1960's TV show theme music...

Interview with John Cavanagh for Boazine 7