Word #20

Issue 20

October 2004

Cover star – Bruce Springsteen

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Word shuffle

1)      P150–a full page review of Robert McCrum’s ‘Wodehouse: A Life’ by Mat Coward. “Wodehouse was, by every account, a big, dull, shy pudding, unattractively preoccupied with money, whose conversation was limited, almost literally, to three topics: writing, Pekinese dogs, and the sports team of his old public school.”

2)      P16 – part of the ‘Word Of Mouth’ article. The 3 people recommending their favourite books, DVDs and music on this page are Boz Scaggs, Siouxsie Sioux and Colin Schofield (Word subscriber). Boz likes Graham Greene’s ‘Stamboul Express’, Dave Alvin, the American country singer and ‘Rumpole Of The Bailey’ (“I saw that years ago on PBS and got hooked”). Colin says “one serious book that more people should read is Michael Dummet’s ‘On Immigration & Refugees’ which takes a complicated subject, slices it apart and makes it understandable”. Black-eyed Susan opts for the book ‘Crash’, the black and white Japanese film ‘Onibaba’ and Gorecki’s ‘Symphony No. 3’ (“it’s beautiful from beginning to end and it pushes out this amazing power. I play it when I want to shut everything out and stop all the madheads going on inside my head. That or Shostakovich, Stravinsky or Prokofiev”).

3)      P73 – second page of a 10 page piece on Crosby and Nash by Andy Gill. “It’s easy to underestimate Nash’s fierce determination, to hear that angelic voice and imagine he’s going to be a pussycat pushover; but this is one bolshy hippe, chippy enough to sue his own record company when they printed a bar-code over his sleeve-design.

“That was Columbia, when Walter Yetnikoff was in charge there,” he explains later. “It was at the very beginning of barcodes, when not many stores had the ability to read them. There was a picture of me in a canyon in Hawaii with a rainbow behind me, and at the end of the rainbow was a barcode! I called Walter and said, ‘Walter, we’re at the very beginning of this technology, the next album I do will have a full barcode on the entire cover but you can’t do this to me now’. He said, ‘Don’t bother me with this artsy-crafty shit!’ and the next call was to my lawyer!”

4)      P112 – first page of Steve Yate’s 2 page review of ‘London Calling 25th Anniversary Edition’ by The Clash. “This 25th anniversary special gives The Clash the same treatment previously meted out to Elvis, Beatles and The Rolling Stones, those behemoths they pledged to sweep away in their year zero anthem’1977′. But those who wished  to consign them to punk’s nihilistic dungeon never understood that The Clash were always a great rock band, first and foremost.”

5)      P92 – picture page accompanying a piece called ‘Rock Vs Bush’. Various celebrities are quoted with their thoughts on Dubya and the forthcoming election. Bruce – “The stakes are too high to sit this one out”, Susan Sarandon – “I’m tired of being called anti-American for asking questions” and Andre 3000 – “Only you can silence yourself”.


Interesting -Tamsin Grieg’s favourite film is ‘A Matter Of Life And Death’ …”because it’s so emotional even though they’re all saying things like ‘I do love you so, darling’ in these posh, clipped, 1940’s upper-class accents. It makes it more powerful for the restraint, I think. Technically it’s an astonishing film. Time stops and people walk through frozen scenes where everyone else is stock-still, and this is years before ‘The Matrix’. And I love the picture of the afterlife and the notion that there is a purpose to everything. It gets me everytime.”

Jim White declares ‘Code 46′ to be the best British film since ’24 Hour Party People’. “…this is a British film which is not yet another cloned offering about violent cockney chancers, ethnic minority sporting underdogs or posh blokes who won’t commit.”

There’s a long article on Blue Nile. “…the three greying chaps who have gathered in the basement lounge of London’s Covent Garden Hotel are great company. They’re engaged, engaging, articulate, and self-deprecating. They hoot with laughter at the memory of the girl at the Woolworths check-out who said: ‘The Blue Nile? I liked you when you were out.’ They’re arty, hifalutin almost, but in an eminently sensible way: one of the reasons they don’t play the music biz game, says Buchanan, is to avoid the mental and physical clutter that involves.”

A great Spinal Tap moment is recalled in a piece on Yes. “In 1974 when Yes emerged from a kind of fish’s mouth-cum-cave at the back of the stage, Alan White had to be crowbarred out of the plastic pod that encased his drumkit.”


Longer article – Mark Kendal writing about the history of Viz

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