Word #39

Issue 39

May 2006

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Cover star – Jack Johnson

Word shuffle

1) P8 – Michael Krugman writes 3 pages about Arctic Monkeys’ attempt to conquer America. ” ‘That man just yawned” said Alex Turner in the middle of ‘A Certain Romance’. He stabbed a finger at a member of the audience without missing a beat. It was a rare moment of spontaneity on the carefully choreographed ‘Saturday Night Live’, the Arctic Monkeys’ first North American TV appearance. To widespread confusion, Matt Helders’ bass drum was emblazoned with the words ‘ASBO’.2

2) P92 – A 4 page interview with record producer Joe Boyd by David Hepworth. “My role as a producer was to be their audience. To first of all be present in one form or another and to put the kind of energy into listening that gives them the same feeling of performing for an audience that they get in a great concert. When we had eight-track tape and Richard Thompson was overdubbing a guitar solo, he had one track and so after each take you had to choose. Are we keeping it or wiping it? That adds an intensity to the moment which has some of the elements of being in front of an audience, knowing you have to do it better and better. These days you can build up ten tracks of guitar solos and not only pick and choose between them but also take bits from this one and edit them together with bits from that one. It takes hours and it’s soul destroying. The contrast between that and the moment at the end of a session when you’ve got to make something happen, there’s no question which one I’d rather be in.’

3) P12 – a single page on Norah Jones and her country and swing project, Little Willies. “Inspiration came when the five performers realised they all loved the classic American music of their parents’ record collections – artists such as Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt and Kris Kristofferson. ‘Getting into this music now that I’m older, it feels so much closer to my heart’, says Jones who talks fondly of her grandparents playing Nelson to her as a child in Texas.”

4) P145 – A single page article by Michael Moran about what the video in your pocket could mean for you. The opening sentences are extremely accurate. “It’s difficult to believe that there was once a time you couldn’t take music with you everywhere. In the future we’ll be equally amazed to think there was ever a time when TV wasn’t just as portable.”

I remember that it was in this article that I first came across a mention of YouTube. “The streaming content of YouTube.com is uploaded by enthusiasts with seemingly limitless VHS archives. In five minutes we found live concert footage of Gentle Giant from 1973, a classic promo video from The Time, and a compilation of F1 crashes. In copyright terms questionable, in entertainment terms unrivalled.”

5) P127 – From ‘Recommendation Station: Punk Singles’ – an article rounding up the best 7 inches from 30 years ago. Sheryl Garrett recommends ‘Typical Girls’ by the Slits (‘Ari’s yelping voice screamed freedom, opening a new world of possibilities’), David Hepworth goes for Richard Hell’s ‘Blank Generation’ (‘there weren’t many punk records that swung, this gets nearer than most  -it almost has an arrangement’) and Rob Fitzpatrick swoons over Wire’s ‘Outdoor Miner’ (‘to Wire’s eternal credit they chose to write so succinct and beautiful a pop song about a chlorophyll-eating insect, the serpentine miner’).

Interesting – Word chooses the 20 best and worst sitcoms. In the bottom group is’ Bottom’ (‘fatiguing bum/knob/trousers-a-thon’), ‘Babes In The Wood’ (‘Denise Van Outen, Samantha Janus and some other one share a flat in St John’s Wood – DO YOU SEE?’) and ‘Agony’ (‘an arid sun-baked gag desert’). Among the best sitcoms are ‘Man About The House’ (‘like ‘Life On Mars’ without the crime’), ‘Brass’ (‘completely forgotten parody of ‘Brideshead’ and trouble-at-mill costume drama with Timothy West as mining plutocrat Bradley Hardacre’) and ‘Arrested Development’ (‘the dad’s an embezzler, mum’s a soak and the star’s siblings are a moron, a spendthrift and a magician’).

Simon Amstell is quizzed in ‘Facetime’. Hazel Davis asks him about whether he deliberately tried to upset the acts on ‘Popworld’ as much as possible. “Not at all. On our first show Atomic Kitten were singing a capella for some reason and one of them was pregnant and she said ‘Oh, the baby’s kicking’, and I said ‘It’s probably saying stop.’Afterwards the producer said ,’I don’t think you should say things like that to Atomic Kitten’ and it took a year to convince anyone that we actually should say exactly that sort of thing to Atomic Kitten. It just comes down to truth again. We responded in an honest way to people who were on the show. And it worked.”

Jude Rogers meets the Raconteurs. “If you’re Jack White you can do anything. You’ve spent the last five years separating the reds and whites at the washing machine, making multi-platinum albums for peanuts on ancient equipment, strumming banjos in ‘Cold Mountain’, playing five-minute marimba solos at Glastonbury and everyone still loves you.”

Richard E Grant’s nicknames at school were Dolly Boy and Ponce Box.

Four pages are given over to a piece by Christopher Bray on the slow decline of Orson Welles. “Thirty-odd years ago, Welles was to be found in this great land of ours, doing voiceovers for food ads. Here’s an outtake from one session. Everything you need to know about Welles is, I’m afraid, there. There is his love of rhetoric and oratory (no matter how much you adore that burgundy growl, Orson adored it more). There is his love of melodrama. And there is his love of of picking fights – especially fights he couldn’t win.”

Longer article

David Quantick in praise of the recently departed Linda Smith.

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