Word #29

Issue 29

July 2005

Cover star – Ry Cooder


Word shuffle

1)      P116– 2 half page adverts for new albums by Joy Zipper (‘The Heartlight Set’) and Maximo Park (‘A Certain Trigger’). According to The Guardian, ver Park’s latest effort is “The most interesting indie rock story of 2005.”. The NME are equally fulsome in their praise. It is …”a record itching with ideas.”

2)      P77 – from a 7 page spread following up on last month’s ‘Hidden Gem’ feature (see the scanned article for ‘Word #28). This time some of the readers’ submissions are included along with the various musicians, writers and broadcasters. Graham Coxon picks ‘Parachute’ by The Pretty Things (“…the way it works rhythmically, the way the drums sound, the vocal arrangements…absolutely beautiful.” and Word reader Jon McGill recommends ‘Rain Dogs by Tom Waits (“There’s polka, tango, blues, country, nursery rhyme and chim-chim-cheroo – 55 minutes long without one duff track – magnificent”). Another reader, Tim Riley, writes about ‘The Only Ones’ (“With his [Peter Perrett’s] Lou Reed drawl and leopard skin and mascara, he undercut his gloomy reflections on his life, love and drug intake with wry asides and detached bemusement a good five years before Morrissey made that kind of thing so popular. It’ll get under your skin and you won’t find it irritating”).

3)      P94 – Full page black and white photograph of Ry Cooder to accompany Andy Gill’s 9 page interview.

4)      P85 – First page from an article by John Naughton about the hijacking of language by showbiz. Examples given are:

  • Bad Hair Day – another Oxford English Dictionary neologism which owes its place to Helen Feilding’s best-selling singleton saga Bridget Jones’ Diary, this euphemistic way of describing a day that starts off unpromisingly and gets worse was first coined in Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
  • Ambassador, with these Ferrero Rocher you are really spoiling us – the irredeemably kitsch but probably effective advert which imagined a world of unfeasible Euroglamour and plates of pyramid chocolate pleasure has long been subverted to signify an ironic reaction to any less-than-bountiful gesture, eg “Management – with this 2% pay rise, you are really spoiling us.”
  • Battleaxe – this not very politically correct term for a confrontational female comes from the title of an early-1900s magazine of the American Women’s Rights Movement.”

5)      P153 – a piece from the Doctor Digital section of the magazine called ‘iPod Killed The Radio Star’. The article describes the rise of ‘Jack’ stations in America, which shuffle music as an MP3 player would. Mike Henry who developed the concept says, “We want Led Zeppelin next to Madonna, Cheap Trick and John Mayer. You may not like ‘Like A Virgin’ but you’ve heard it and don’t mind it as long as the station will surprise you.”

On the same page is a news article about Jay Z launching his own watch-and-iPod-set. “A mere one hundred sets will be sold, each containing a special solid-steel iPod preloaded with the Jay-Z back catalogue and a watch in steel, gold or platinum. Prices range from $24, 000 to $100, 000. Don’t all rush out at once.”

Interesting –

Mark Ellen writes about Cream’s reunion. “It was the most astonishing example of something living up to my expectations that I’m likely to see in my life – and at £125 a seat for a 2 and a quarter hour set, that’s practically a pound a minute! They are better now – infinitely better – than when they disbanded. And they had a head-start on the rest of us to begin with.”

Ben Folds is an unlikely champion of Mike Skinner. “In America ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’ didn’t do very well and I’ve spent the last 18 months month preaching it. A big part of rock and roll has always been about trying to document growing up and I don’t think anyone’s done it better than he has.”

TV presenter Adrian Chiles has a soft spot for ‘Well Well Said The Rocking Chair’ by Dean Friedman. “A brilliant record, but the kind of thing that critics would slam you for liking. The poor bloke had a right old time of it – he signed a real shocker of a deal when he was young, sold 2 million copies of the LP and didn’t make a penny. We should all resurrect his career!”

In his review of Billy Corgan’s ‘The Future Embrace’, Gareth James describes his cover of ‘To Love Somebody as being akin to “…the Child Catcher from ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ doing a Depeche Mode tune at a karaoke night.”

Andrew Harrison reviews the DVD release of a bunch of old public information films (PIFs) called ‘Charley Says’. “The world it illuminates is sometimes one of fear and stern government – witness the sour disgust in the voiceover which tells us ‘Put a rung on a polished floor? You might as well put a mantrap down’ (cue TARDIS-like fade-in of a giant rusty snare, fizzing with tetanus). Elsewhere a peculiar English whimsy is at play: Arthur Lowe’s safety counsel to holiday makers as ‘Claude the Caravan’ would not disgrace Pink Floyd’s ‘Relics’. But what struck me was how little PIFs tried to ingratiate their way into our attention, and how far we’ve gone the other way with our grabby CGI ads for ‘BBC bite-sized revision on the Web.’

Jim White’s review of ‘Sin City’ is printed with the following strapline “At last, somebody’s gone and made a relentlessly violent degenerate and misgynistic movie for clever people!”

Longer article

Andrew Collins reviews ‘The Tube Vol 1’ DVD.

tube first page tube1


Word #28

Issue 28

June 2005

Cover star – Bruce Springsteen


Word shuffle

1)      P127– David Hepworth identifies “Nine moments that make ‘Sideways’ the replay-friendly DVD of the year”. Here’s one of them: “Miles finally screws up his courage and calls his agent to find that the publishers have decided not to put his book out. ‘Sideways’ has these poignant details utterly nailed. In the cellphone world in which we live, bad news calls like these invariably seem to be taken or made in car parks.”

2)      P98 – Andrew Collins reviews Gorillaz’ second album. “His (Albarn’s) nemesis is Noel Gallagher, who’s been making the same album over and over again since ‘Definitely Maybe’ and is allowed to rest on threadbare laurels by dint of goodwill in the bank. Albarn meanwhile has constantly pushed in a firework display of directions, against what he acknowledges are his own technical limitations, daring to fail at every turn.”

3)      P125 – DVDs reviewed are ‘Birth’ (“alleged supernatural thriller is a stillborn bore”), ‘Carla’s Song’, ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ (“…as Richard’s simple-minded brother, Anthony, Toby Kebbell says hardly a word throughout the film, but emanates a luminous delicacy – constantly swerving away from the world as if it might hurt him – that’s utterly eloquent”) and ‘Garden State’.

4)      P12 –A full page advert from HMV for Season 2 of ‘Northern Exposure’ which “finally makes it to DVD” after being originally broadcast in 1992.

5)      P113 –a page of album reviews. Jonathan Rice’s ‘Trouble Is Real’ (“music for summer days, relaxing in the outdoors and thinking about love…”), Hal’s debut album and the 7th LP by Herman Düne, ‘Not On Top’. Steve Yates writes that “David-Ivar Herman Düne sings with a near-perfect mid-Western twang several notches up the vocal register, rather like Neil Young. But where Young’s Canadian falsetto dripped sincerity, Herman Düne sounds like he’s singing with a wry, though slightly uncomprehending grin; so when, for instance, he complains, “they stabbed me and beat up my ass” on ‘Whatever Burns The Best Baby’, you momentarily wonder what on earth those thugs had against his poor donkey.”

Interesting –

Aimee Mann rarely listens to music. “Well, we had a CD player that was a DVD player, then it broke. And we don’t watch DVDs either.”

David Hepworth reviews the excellent book ‘Our Hidden Lives’ by Simon Garfield. It collects various diary entries of six British people living in the period immediately after World War Two. It includes the thoughts of “… a Sheffield housewife pining for news of South Africa, a London pensioner given to lurching into poetry, a retired antique dealer who was forever trying to lure young men to his house for improving talks – but their energy alone qualifies them to speak for and about this lost age. It is by turns funny, sad, strange, angry and surprising; I’d recommend it to anyone with the smallest interest in social history, or, for that matter, people.”

The Rocking Vicar’s parishioners chip in with suggestions for Single-Use Songwords. The Stranglers are mentioned for their use of ‘gerrymander’ in ‘Nuclear Device’, Steely Dan, of course, garner many entries (‘libations’, helix’ and ‘roulade’ are just a few) and Lou Reed scores a point with ‘circumlocution’.

We learn that Steve Lamacq is a big fan of ‘Colossal Youth’ by Young Marble Giants. “A record I’ve loved for ages. They took that jagged, atonal guitar sound of the Gang Of Four and reapplied it to simple two-minute pop songs, and it still sounds great.

Word’s writers turn their attention to the worst autobiography titles of all time:

Learning To Fly by Victoria Beckham is typical self help twaddle from someone who thinks that giving her kids names that are more appropriate for greyhounds is ‘flying'”

So Me by Graham Norton. Can an autobiography be too pleased with itself? Apparently so.”

And the winner is… “Trowel And Error by Alan Titchmarsh. Somethings are so bad they’re good. This is so bad we’ve been reading it aloud at people who arrive late at the office late in the morning, as punishment.”


Longer article

A great example of the kind of article that ‘Word’ used to do so well. An enthusiastic reappraisal of overlooked gems from various musicians and writers.

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