Saturday, November 25, 2006

Center stage on the mic / And we're puttin' it on wax / It's the new style

My good buddy, Roger Perry, has his brand new website up and running. Go and say hello...I wrote the history and am proud to have done so..Roger is one of my favourite people, and I mean that sincerely. Oh, and he's a great DJ and musician too. Nuf said...

Strange days indeed / most peculiar mama

I guess I wanted to dislike it. The concept stinks. I’m happy, and it gives me pleasure, to say that I dislike Cirque De Soleil quite a lot. I was dragged along to it in Auckland some years ago and didn’t enjoy it one little bit. Very clever and all, but the latent Cornishman (even if the whanau moved south 150 years hence) in me thought it utterly pretentious twaddle masquerading as some sort of art for the masses. The rest of The Beatles have admitted that Johnny probably would have too. But then we know that from listening to the song he wrote about the sort of circus he liked. And the preview on their website of the actual show is truly gruesome watching. So with that in mind, well, I didn’t want Love to work.

But sad to say, it does. And as loathe as I am to quote Mojo Magazine, Jim Irvin puts it so well in his album review when he says that The Beatles taught our minds to play. And so they did. Perhaps that is only essentially true for my generation and the one before, but I don’t think so. My twelve year old daughter and others I know of her age have had the same response to this music as I did all those years back. I love so much diverse music (the killer Agoria remix of Big Fun is playing now…now that’s a tune), there are so many records, bits of vinyl, CDs, MP3s, whatever, that I adore beyond any reason. But, despite all that, there is only one Beatles, only one act that has that power, that majesty, that epoch defining magic.

And yet every release (the bi-annual Christmas release that Apple and EMI manage to wrest out of the catalogue without finally releasing the remastered issues of the actual albums that everyone is really craving, but more of that soon) brings out the predicable moans of “The Beatles were shite, overated”, “I’d rather listen to Abba” and the like. So can I be arrogant and say that I feel really sorry for these silly bleaters. Regardless of anything else, and no matter where you come from, The Beatles were most definitely not rubbish. Its not really an arguable point...I’ve already been there…so I won’t bother again, and it’s a point usually made by the bleater under the duress of fashion, perceived self cool, or ignorance, so I’ll dispense with it and say no more.

I’m not going to try to do anything like review this record. There are already dozens of reviews out there, most rather exuberant in their praise. I don’t need to and I don’t ever see myself as a reviewer, more a commentator…you want a the bloody record because its all about you anyway; I can’t tell you if you’d like a bit of music and neither can anyone else.

However, coming back to my comment earlier about what people really want, there is little doubt that this album is for many, simply a filler, an album to listen to until EMI finally get their act together to issue the original 13 albums in a contemporary form. We are listening to Love, and the critics are getting all frothy, because this sounds, unlike the 1980’s CDs still on offer at full price, so damn good. No other reason. There is a novelty aspect to this album that will soon pass, and indeed for me is already doing so. But I’ll keep on listening simply because I love the way these sound and I love the fact that at last I can hear these tracks like this. They sound incredible. Whether I, or many others would keep on listening to Love if the other albums were released in 5.1 or even mindfuck stereo is a reasonably easily answered question. No, of course not. This would then become what it really is, a beautifully crafted Beatles podcast friendly sampler.

And there is something strangely wrong about the Cirque de Soleil concept too. I don’t want to hear this music in the company of hundreds of others who don’t understand this music. You see, that’s the thing that separates The Beatles from almost everybody else. Almost everyone thinks that they have an exclusive understanding of these guys, an understanding that no-one else can approach…which takes us back to the Jim Irwin line above. You guys might think you like The Beatles, might think you understand but really, I’m the only one who truly does. Really, really, truly. And I’m not going to sit in a theatre with a bunch of charlatans and pretenders.

But I guess it will keep the wolf away from Jacko’s door for a while too.

Oh…can we have the double white album in mono as well, my vinyl copy is totally rooted…..

Actually what truly scares me are those damned floodgates I can now hear creaking open…

Monday, November 20, 2006

And I love to live so pleasantly / Live this life of luxury / Lazing on a sunny afternoon

Beg steal or borrow…actually no, scrub that…I strongly recommend you buy the Henrik Schwarz DJ Kicks mix on K7!, a label that has its moments but is also unreliably patchy from time to time, as is this mix series. But this is, to turn a phrase, fucking fantastic. I like it a lot. I really am not a huge fan of “mix CDs” I find most of them as dull as the majority of so called underground plodding house. Nicely put together, full of forgettable tracks, like a passing blur and absolutely indicative of why house...the ordinary stuff that calls itself house…got so boring, so fucking passé in recent years. There are only so many formless, vocal snippet looping 4 on the floor nothings I can take, and god knows I heard enough of them on dance radio in Auckland in recent weeks. Relentlessly drab faceless tracks mixed together with ten other similar tracks do not make good listening for anyone and are perhaps a big part of why the clubs are not so full anymore and why the records are not selling as well.

And then you hear something like this. Something that pulls together all the strands, something that realises that the best DJ is little more than an inspired tour guide, taking you on a trip around his or her head. House music (and despite the plethora…I like that word…of slow tracks herein, make no mistake this is ideologically a house album) was, like punk and every musical explosion, about taking risks. And Henrik, flavour of the year he may be, understands that and wanders from James Brown to Drexciya to Pharaoh Sanders effortlessly and it makes (repeated and inspiring) listening sense.

And there is also the Kings of Techno double. Whilst the Carl Craig tribute to the European electronic heritage is a near perfect track listing, he, again marrs it with silly talking over tracks, although its nowhere near as annoying as when he allowed it to wreck his recent-ish Fabric album. I think Carl, sadly has reached a point where no-one is willing to tell him the truth. It’s a shame but this album is more than rescued by the Laurent Garnier paean to Detroit. Just listen to the way he grinds from ADULT’s Don’t Talk into the opening chords of No Fun (yes, The Stooges…this about Detroit and almost every act on here is as punk as it gets), and then slips effortlessly into Jeff Mills. And Alice Coltrane into a majestic live take of Underground Resistance’s Amazon is utterly inspired.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

scared scared scared / every day of my life

I like Pat Lang’s blog a lot…he has a pretty clear perspective and one that is rare in the myopic stratosphere that is political commentary in the United States, especially amongst those of his experience. The rest of us can rant and fume but the good Colonel was actually there and I suspect knows a little more than we do. His blog is authoritative and I visit it most days and it makes feel, comfortably, that I may not be completely off track.

This post caught my eye today and speaks absolute volumes about the moral vacuum that is the current US administration and, the man the Colonel so neatly refers to as The Decider.

""Laura and I were talking about -- we were talking about how amazing it is we're here in Vietnam," Bush said. "And one of the most poignant moments of the drive in was passing the lake where John McCain got pulled out of the lake. And he's a friend of ours. He suffered a lot as a result of his imprisonment, and yet, we passed the place where he was, literally, saved, in one way, by the people pulling him out."


Now, maybe it is understandable that the inhabitants of Hanoi wanted to kill this enemy pilot who had fallen into their hands. Bad things often happen in the heat of battle, but for Bush to torture this long past event into something with which he can feel good about McCain's agony and the people of Hanoi is reprehensible.

Read the whole thing…he truly is scum, I can’t think of another word.