Word #24

Issue 24

February 2005

Cover star – Tom Waits

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Word shuffle

1)      P21– Rob Fitzpatrick’s full page feature on “…the Deptford Steely Dan” – Athlete. Carey, the bassist, has recently got into pipe-smoking. Their debut album (‘Vehicles and Animals’) had sold quarter of a million copies at the time of publication. I only vaguely remember Athlete and wish to remain in this state.

2)      P14 – first page of a 2 page advert for the Motorola Razr V3 phone. It boasts ‘class 1 bluetooth’, ‘mp3 ringtones’ and ‘colour external display’.

3)      P65 – the fourth page of an 8 page special on ‘New Prog’ by Andrew Harrison. He interviews the Chemical Brothers and Mercury Rev and rounds up 10 recent tracks that fit this psychedelic, proggy genre.

“In their DJing guise they would cut up The Beatles’ ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ live. In the studio it would ultimately turn into two different new records for two different sensibilities: the tub-thumping chart hit ‘Setting Sun’ with Noel Gallagher sounding like he was lost in an iron foundry, and ‘The Private Psychedelic Reel’. Within three years of the first Chemical Brothers’ records, the Big Beat boom would see Godzilla drums attached to everything from TV themes to old punk rock. Fatboy Slim would acknowledge his debt to The Chemical Brothers, admitting that there would be no ‘Rockafeller Skank’ or ‘Praise You’ if Tom and Ed hadn’t knocked down the door.”

4)      P34 – first page of a 2 pager on Rilo Kiley, the US indie-rockers whose ‘More Adveturous’ album was about to be released. “We don’t go for over-the-top superlatives in ‘Word’, but since this magazine began we’ve harboured the secret belief that Rilo Kiley are the best new band in the world. It started with their second album, ‘The Execution Of All Things’, which arrived at the office in 2003 the way thousands of CDs do but has stayed ever since. The combination of thrillingly inventive but accessible indie folk-rock with Lewis’s presiding persona – downbeat, funny, too insightful to be ironic – meant it never got boring.”

5)      P115 – Jamie Bowman reviews the outsider music compilation ‘Songs In The Key Of Z’. “There’s a great episode of ‘The Simpsons’ where Homer, after destroying his BBQ, accidentally becomes an ‘outsider’ artist’. “Outsider art,” he is told, “could be by a mental patient, hillbilly or a chimpanzee.” ”Songs In The Key Of Z’ presents 37 aural equivalents of Homer’s broken BBQ and the results are just as painfully amusing.”

There’s also a short review of ‘The Sweetest Ache’ by Chris Rees which sounds intriguing. “String-drenched debut from the John Cale-favoured Welshman, mixing lush melodies with explosive noise.”

Interesting – Aimee Mann’s iPod shuffle throws up ‘…And In Every Home’ by Elvis Costello, ‘Long Black Veil’ by The Band, Bowie’s ‘Quicksand’, ‘Early In The Morning’ by Nilsson and ‘Pitseeleh’ by Elliot Smith.

Mick Brown recalls the stupidest question that Tom Waits was ever asked – and it was by him – in 1976.

“Fun?” He examined the word as if he’d scraped it off the bottom of his shoe. “I don’t”, he said at length, have fun. Actually I had fun once. In 1962. I drank a whole bottle of Robitussin cough-medicine and went in the back of a 1961 powder-blue Lincoln Continental to a James Brown concert with some Mexican friends of mine. I haven’t had fun since. It’s just not a word I like. It’s like Volkswagen or bell-bottoms, or patchouli oil or bean sprouts. It rubs me up the wrong way. I might go out and have an educational and entertaining evening, but I don’t have fun.”

Tom Cox writes about his decision to digitise and sell off two-thirds of his records on eBay. “…even if I introduced a flashing neon pop-up window stating that my Electric Prunes albums were reissues, I’d still get a rabid capitalised email from a man calling himself ‘Smelly Beefheart’ asking if they were original Spanish pressings on mucus-coloured vinyl.”

Johnny Vegas enrolled himself into a seminary as a youngster.

“I was 11 and I felt 30 years old. I was hugely homesick too. This is why I hate ‘Harry Potter’ – that romanticised idea of private education. It’s not all jolly japes and midnight feasts, it’s fuckin’ horrible.”


Longer Article

4 of the 11 songwriters interviewed by Mark Ellen about their craft.

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