Saturday, November 18, 2006

dawn of light lying between the silence and soul sources / trace the midfusion of wonder

Artistic renovation…it’s a funny thing. I really don’t know if that’s the right word for it. The word rehabilitation is probably more appropriate but renovation makes me think more of the way you can patch up a rotting old villa and sell it as something more than it was originally perceived to be. Its the habit, we as listening humans have, to apply the much overused word “classic” to older records or music or recording artists who, whether because of the whims of fashion at the time they recorded; or because they truly are garbage, were roundly dismissed during their time in the sun, but have returned to haunt us. Or, thanks to Classic Hits radio...never left.

What actually bought this to mind now was a two liner, in one of those lists of what’s hot or not that editors use to fill a gap, in one of those glossy magazines that fall out, on to the road, of the New Zealand Herald as you leave the dairy on a Saturday morning….the throwaway twenty pagers the paper uses to try (generally failing rather badly) to give itself a little edge with the self consciously uber hip, referencing the finer things, the tasteful and the expensive for the style conscious or the dinner partying nuvo foodies that swarm over Auckland’s inner suburbs of a weekend. The magazine in question, whatever it’s called, a few weeks ago was touting, with glee, the reformation of Genesis. Genesis…or can I more correctly say..fucking Genesis for gods sake!

The band that includes Phil Collins…..yes that Genesis( wasn't the Herald, it was The Sunday Star Times as Alan points out below...but, still, Genesis?)

Now in this case it’s probably more a case of the paper letting its guard down and the real face of the Herald, a paper that is probably still feeling threatened by Dire Straits, showing through.

However it’s indicative, and it’s everywhere. My problem of course is that I’m an old punk. We hate things. It was a part of our ethos and we are miserable and enjoy hating things. But to be completely fair to myself, I hated, no that's the wrong word..despised works better, the likes of Genesis way before I heard The Ramones or Wire. There is something inexplicable about bands like that is simply wrong. We hated the right things and I’ll always happily believe that. We had standards that time doesn’t lessen. I'll trust my instincts. Genesis are crap.

So now I’m surrounded by rehabilitation, by renovation. When I get the notion, quite often actually, I wander around Bill Brewster’s rather special DJ History website and in particular the forum. But inevitably I find myself running scared when someone starts talking in glowing terms about Fleetwood Mac, or asking if there are any other good songs by America apart from The Horse with No Name, or that other one, the name of which happily escapes me. Now I understand well the concept of Balearic, no, no…these things are simply wrong; simply evil; these are bad, bad, bad records…always have been and always, always, always will be. I completely understand the rehabilitation of ABBA, who were definitely not cool in the 70s...they wrote very good pop songs and are incredibly well produced.. but there are some absolutes surely, and Rumors remains absolute shite.

And then, there is (hopefully "was" is more appropriate now) Pink Floyd. When I grew up the common wisdom was that their peak was with Syd and there was, post Barrett, a fairly slow decline, with Dark Side being the creative sign off point. This wasn’t based upon any wistful notion of the tortured genius but simply the use of our ears. I mean, for heavens sake listen. We find The Wall being hailed here and there and everywhere now for its “classic nature”, with its third form social commentary for fucks sake. Has anyone actually listened to the lyrics on that brick song…

No the common wisdom was right and PF’s output was and is increasingly dire after 1974 or so reaching a bloated nadir in the stadium nonsense of The Wall and all those truly awful records that came after it.

Of course I’ve long ago lost this battle. I think back to those Retro nights at Cause Celebre and the Box (that Grant Marshall successfully took to half a dozen clubs afterwards for years). Nobody ever wanted the good records, no it was about the real "classics", the Eye of the Tigers, or I Rans or The Final Countdowns. And as I imply earlier, I understand the cheese factor and I was happy to smile as the hordes rushed thru the club door placing their five dollar note in my till......but as a graying punk I feel the need to stand up and say something, even if it makes not the slightest bit of difference. Its about the inner self...

At least no-one is talking about Yes…yet

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

We could steal time / just for one day / We can be Heroes, for ever and ever / What d'you say?

At the hotel down the road from they are about to celebrate the wedding between Fanny and WeWe (as per the photographic evidence). Which one is the boy and which one is the girl is anyone’s guess but I think they’re probably well matched.

It bought to mind the movie we watched last night, a fairly highly touted biopic of the absolutely iconic Bettie Page. I enjoyed it, thought it a little fluffy, but it was pretty watch-able and it had an ending that made some sort of sense. However a quick Google indicated to me that, if the film was not exactly dishonest in its portrayal, it was at best economical with the truth. There was a fair bit of importance missed out during the era the script portrayed, and the ending gave no indication of the pain she had to endure in later years (I love the photo half way down that linked page…even at 80 years of age Bettie has something those two could never hope to aspire to). Quite the opposite was implied…the truth was, not unusually for these things, manipulated for dramatic effect. No big deal, you come to expect such things, which is why I tend to do a wiki or the like after watching a “biopic”.

And you have to wonder that if Bettie had a dollar for every girl out there with a hairstyle inspired by her, or ten cents for every photo of her used anywhere since….one of the true iconic images of the fifties, and, until recent times her life has been a struggle, a total mess actually. The books, the pens, the postcards, the t-shirts……I can’t even begin to imagine what she’s been, to turn a phrase, screwed for.

But it then brought me to the movie we watched the night before, yet another critically hailed dramatisation of recent history, the heroic, and, I’m told, inspiring (or something to that effect if the comments from Arab hating Yanks on it’s IMDB page are anything to go by), United 93.

This, in case anyone missed it, is the cinematic representation of the aircraft that went down over Pennsylvania on the way to The Capitol on September 11, 2001. We all know the gist of the story but this movie dramatises the gist and is, despite everything, a work of fiction based on educated guesswork. Not a lot more, and at times somewhat less. Take for example the German passenger who, without any evidence to support it, or even a hint of such, is portrayed by the filmmakers as a dastardly foreign coward. And will forever, herein be publicly known as such, and his family will have to deal with that. I was absolutely appalled at that, and yet it still got the reviews.

And then there are the cellphone calls. I know some of the calls on the 9/11 planes came from those grossly overpriced phones you get on many aircraft, but some allegedly also came from cellular telephones. Now I don’t think I’m a conspiracy nut. I think that somebody probably flew the planes into the WTC and I think they were probably Al Qaeda operatives…and I think man landed on the moon.

But no-one has successfully explained how, at 30,000 odd feet, cellphone calls were made out of these planes. There is a very good evaluation of this here which intrigued me for an hour last night as I read it and followed the links. And having had this discussion with a friend who is a cellular engineer of some repute, plus having searched the web at some length, it’s a question that has never satisfactorily been answered by anyone anywhere. I wish someone would help me here because everything I’ve been told or read suggests that in 2001 it was more or less impossible. And yet it’s central to the human side of these tragedies as now burnt into the American psyche, and to this movie.

Oh and, one more question. How in gods name did the computers and office paperwork on the edge of the chasm in the Pentagon survive unscathed, a multi thousand degree firestorm and inferno. Just wondering…..

Not that I believe in conspiracy theories, y’know.

So anyway, here’s to Fanny and WeWe.

Monday, November 13, 2006

there might have been things I missed / don't be unkind / it don't mean I'm blind


Kerri Chandler and Monique Bingham….In the Morning (Bigga Sounds) if just to prove a point, to prove that deep house is alive and well despite most of the contradicting evidence, Kerri, who may well be the greatest house producer ever, simply by virtue of the fact that he is still doing it when others have fallen, and doing it properly, to turn a phrase releases this utterly disarming talk and response love song as only he can do. He likes to talk on records, and I never really tire of it. Cheesy but it works…

TrentemollerThe Last Resort..(Poker Flat)…there was once a rock’n’roll venue in Wellington called The Last Resort. It was a grotty, grubby place. In other words, just right and I liked it a lot. And that was my initial problem with this album…too clean, no edges. But repeated listens changed that perspective…the edges started to appear and I was happy, so now I play it an awful lot. I’ve liked Trentemoller’s stuff since I bought, about six years ago, that first single on Naked, which I still play, and as a bonus on this, his first full album, you get a second CD of some of the killer singles he’s released in the interim including the now classic Nam Nam and the entrancing vocal take of Always Something Better. There is a grandness about his work and he sounds like no-one else…. that works for me.

Justin TimberlakeMy Love (DFA Remix)..Jive… I think of Justin as the aural equivalent of Johnny Depp. Both extracted themselves, driven by their own strength of will, from their career launching fluff and turned themselves into something of worth. Justin, in 2006, is the finest pop singer on the planet bar none, not that there is one hell of a lot of competition out there right now. The song is hardly obscure but what James Murphy & Tim Goldsworthy have done to the last three minutes or so is quite special. The bass led punk funk (I hate that phrase but it still works) workout is simply shimmering magic. A classic whether you hate him or not (and lets face it, its just peer pressure that forces you to hate the fella)

The RaptureWhoo! Alright, yeah (Simian Mobile Disco Mix)...(Vertigo)..from what I’ve heard of the new Rapture album it’s a bit underwhelming, but I have to admit I quite like this, although to be honest in a month or two I’ll be wondering what it sounded like when I come across it. Electro, disco, pop that swirls around quite nicely and I bet sounds rather good on a muthafucka sound system. Disposable, but hey….

Depeche ModeThe Sinner in Me (Ricardo Villalobos mix) (Mute)…the word is that DM didn’t want this mix released but such was the furore over the past few months after some dodgy white labels slipped out, that they have relented and its on the forthcoming hits collection. Now it’s fashionable right now to say that Villalobos is largely overrated, but he was the name to drop twelve months back. Funny old world isn’t it. Personally I blame the NME and George Bush (actually I blame the NME but, fuck it, Bush deserves any flack he gets). Oh, the song? It’s so simple and so simply wonderful and it’s DM’s finest moment since Personal Jesus got the FK treatment.

John LennonThe US vs John Lennon…(Capitol)…I had an online argument, you may call it a discussion, but I’d rather call it a good old fashioned trainspotter’s argument, about Lennon’s last proper album, Double Fantasy, with some latter day Johnny who said it was his solo masterpiece. Nonsense said I over and over again, it was largely of slab of MOR slush, controlled by others and it was, or it would have been if it wasn’t for the fact that he’d made Walking On Thin Ice the week he died, a shabby way to go out. I like solo Lennon a lot but I like it with balls, with snarl and the fuck you that DF misses (although if you need any evidence that those songs had something before Yoko employed Jack Douglas to smooth things out, check the demo of I’m Losing You with Cheap Trick on the Anthology box). This compilation, from the movie of the same name is an almost perfect collection of the post-Paul-fuck-you songs, even if it includes the The Ballad of John and Yoko which is a perfect fit.

Rob Mello vs Robert OwensEnergy…(Disco 45) ..more old fellas make good record shock, this post seems full of it. It must be the post Johnny Cash syndrome, or something like that. Robert Owens is, well, he is. There is not much more to say, except that if he’d never made another record beyond this, then he would still rate as one of the greatest vocalists of all time. But he did, and here we are twenty odd years later and this is another Robert Owens record that sounds like…another Robert Owens record, albeit with the nice gritty noises that Rob Mello always brings to any production. I like it a lot and will probably remember it somewhat longer than I do The Rapture tune above. The dub is especially good for those that like a little more space in their tech vox house...

Lee Perry & The Full ExperienceDisco Devil (white)…I’ve been after this wonderfully mutated discoid dancefloor version of Max Romeo’s Chase The Devil for years, and now I have it on legally suspect 12”, which is better than being forced to pay some $80 for the Trojan box set that includes it.

Just my opinions…