Word #50

Cover star – Joni Mitchell

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April 2007

Word shuffle

1) P129 – half page adverts for the soundtrack of Hot Fuzz (with “exclusive track from The Fratellis”) and A Tale of Two Cities by Mr. Husdon & The Library. They have a myspace page should you wish to know more.

2) P86– the 1st page of a 2 page Cat Power interview by Jude Rogers. “Two days before the Brit Awards, Best International Female Nominee Cat Power is in a bed in a Park Lane hotel, chain-smoking fags, squished up on pillows, sniffing wax dug from her ear with one hand and forgaing around in her knickers with the other. Later she’ll fart – waving a lighter around to hide the smell – and pee in front of me quite happily. All this while looking elegantly dishevelled, bambi eyes peering through her fringe, like she’s an arty ad in The Face.”

3) P95 – from Robin Eggar’s 5 page interview with Joni Mitchell. Robin asks why she hates critics so much.

“They hold you in your decade. You are supposed to stay neatly in your decade and then die. From my sixth album on they were dismissive while I knew I was still growing. It was an extraordinary rejection of good work. I know enough to know when I’m doing good work but fools were reviewing it. I’d see the crap they’d elevate. I don’t care for fame and fortune but the rejection of my later work was too extreme.”

4) P120 – from the album reviews section. The most column inches on this page are given to Saltbreakers by Laura Veirs. Robert Sandall writes that “Veirs is still recognisable as the daughter of a geologist mother and a marine biologist father whose idea of the perfect holiday was to go camping in the wildest parts of the wild. To listen to her 6th album is to be imaginatively transported into the world of a wide eyed, serious-minded child for whom the minute observation of dawn sunlight, starry skies, giant waves, black butterflies, and a vast array of other eco-phenomena, acts as a prism through which all of her emotions are expressed.”

5) P24 – Andrew Collins compares the past to the present and wonders if we’ve made progress. Among other things chat shows, record shops and the charts were better then. Pubs, salad and comedy are better now.

Interesting – The 20 best and worst pop fashion items as decreed by The Word. 3 of the worst are: David Bowie’s Union Jack tailcoat and goatee, circa ‘Earthling’ (“looks like some kind of right-wing Doctor Who”), The Style Council’s ‘Brideshead Revisited’ period (“is there a less convincing Wodehousian aesthete than Merton Mick?”) and Mark Knopfler’s headband (“as bad as wearing a ponytail at the front – actually worse”). 3 of the best are: Devo’s flowerpot hats (“splendidly mad and the perfect millinery for a band that was three quarters cartoon anyway”), the codpiece worn by Larry Blackmon of Cameo (“crimson genital crash helmet still gives all who saw it the heebie-jeebies”) and Johnny Rotten’s bondage trousers (“these garish and impractical ‘perv-trews’ – as Smash Hits was wont to put it – put the wind right up grans, coppers, teachers and other DOOMED OLDIES. Will clothes ever terrify like this again?”)

Lauren Laverne writes about doing the 6 – 7 am slot on XFM. “At six in the morning I’m often exclusively broadcasting to people driving home from having affairs, the depressed, people who’ve cried themselves awake over store-card debts, milkmen and criminals. That’s my demographic . I genuinely love them and I care about them deeply.” Danny Baker helms the 4-5 pm slot on BBC Radio London. “I only play records that will cheer people up. There is absolutely no rhyme or reason as to what works. Whether it’s Joyce Grenfell or bleeding Kashmir by Led Zeppelin.”

Grenfell gets another mention in the DVD review pages (for Joyce Grenfell, The BBC Collection DVD) reviewed by Hazel Davis. “Grenfell had the ability to highlight mundane details pre-Alan Bennett and string them out to their awkward and embarrassing conclusions.She honed idiosyncrasies with a style both gentle and genteel.”

Andrew Collins loves The Wire. “The real test of your Wire-appreciation is whether or not you’re prepared to stand up and say it’s better than The Sopranos. I am. The Sopranos is operatic, playfully metatextual and Freudian; it invites analysis – and gets it. The Wire is plain-speaking, unmanicured and, due to its pace, a far subtler proposition.”

Longer article

Rob Fitzpatrick catches up with the recently reunited Pentangle.

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Word #44

Issue 44

October 2006


Cover star – Joe Strummer

Word shuffle

1) P11– double page black and white school photograph from Mount Temple comprehensive school in Dublin, dated 1976. Readers are invited to play ‘Where’s Bono?’

2) P55– a whole page of adverts for 3 recently released ‘Live At The BBC’ albums. Free and The Housemartins get a qaurter page each whilst The La’s get a whole half page.

3) P129 – a page of album reviews. Dorian Lynskey reviews OutKast’s ‘Idlewild’ (“it’s the first OutKast album to pale next to its predecessor, the first to outstay its welcome, the first to sound fatally compromised”) and Jude Rogers enjoys the “ridiculously chirpy” ‘#3’ by Surburban Kids With Biblical Names (“imagine a gang of bedwetters finding a a big stash of Ritalin…the spirit of Jonathan Richman runs manically all across this record”).

4) P34 – the first of a 3 page article on Shirley Collins by Rob Fitzpatrick. “In a small terraced cottage behind Lewes castle, Shirley Collins is laughing so loudly she’s drawn the attention of the chap currently cleaning her windows. We’re talking about the two months she spent travelling through America’s deep south with Alan Lomax in 1959, recording white Baptist hymns, fife and drum bands, share-cropper blues, field hollers, prison songs and other fast-disappearing folk music of the southern states. One of Shirley’s jobs was to transcribe the lyrics from each recording – no easy task when the accents and dialects are so heavy and you’re thousands of miles from home.

‘I had heard very little black American folk and blues and these were proper deep south prison songs,’ Collins says. ‘The references meant nothing to me. I learnt that Black Betty was a whip, but there were so many sexual connotations I just didn’t understand. I was only in my 20s and that’s like being six nowadays.’ She bursts out laughing again.”

5) P84 – final page of a 3 page feature on Ray LaMontagne. “LaMontagne’s musical awakening occurred via the strangest of sources. Having scraped through high school he went through a succession of menial jobs. ‘I don’t like working for other people,’ he sighs. ‘I can’t stand it if I have to punch in the time clock, I get pretty low pretty quickly.’

But then, working at a Maine shoe factory, he was woken one morning by a Steve Stills song called Tree Top Flyer and his life changed. A tale of a freelance pilot operating beyond and – literally – above the daily punching-in grind, it’s easy to see why it appealed to LaMontagne.”

Interesting – In the ‘Home Service’ section, Mark Ellen recommends ‘Stalingrad by Antony Beevor. “It’s a slow read: you have to put it down every five minutes to try and accommodate fresh evidence of the misery that can be wrought upon the human condition by fellow humans, this further complicated by the cocktail of guilt you experience  if you’re reading it on a beach and about to visit a seafood restaurant.”

Andrew Collins reviews ‘The Gothic Box’. “Goth compilations usually pad wildly with ‘unreleased versions’ and Creaming Jesus. or scrap the door policy (I have one that includes The Wonder Stuff and The Ramones).”

Chris Salewicz writes about Joe Strummer in a 9 page extract from his book ‘Redemption Song’. “There was a fundamental flaw in firing Mick Jones that no one seemed to have thought out: with the exception of Topper’s Rock The Casbah, it was Mick who wrote all the music, so getting rid of him was madness. By dumping Mick, a problem may have been solved for Joe, as he perceived it. But another was about to be introduced. Bernie Rhodes was about to take charge of the music. Replacement guitarists were brought in, and the ‘dodgy Clash’ – as I heard them referred to – toured and began recording the Cut The Crap album.”

Dorian Lynskey asks Badly Drawn Boy about his “notriously erratic” gigs. “I openly admit that I’ve made many mistakes when I’ve played live but I think that’s the element that people buy into. I couldn’t design that if I tried. I want to leave 80% of the gig to chance, including the setlist, and that means you can fall on your arse at any point, which I have done, but people like it beacuse it’s human.”

Christopher Bray looks at the life and career of Anthony Perkins. “Much to Hollywood’s chagrin he had hooked up with another rising young star – Tab Hunter. So desperate was Perkins to keep this affair private that even when the two went to see a movie together, Perkins insisted they sit apart until the lights went down. When the lights came back up the two men would drive away in separate cars, Perkins powder-blue Thunderbird trailing a few hundred yards behind Hunter’s mustard-coloured Ford Fairlane as they made their way to the latter’s pad. Perkins may have picked up the Tab but there was no way he was going to admit it.”

Longer article

Andrew Collins declares the death of indie and asks ‘How Indie Are You? .


Word #40

Issue 40

June 2006

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Cover star – Leonard Cohen

Word shuffle

1) P29 – a whole page advert for the ‘Pirate Radio’ 4CD and 1 DVD boxset from The Pretenders. It features 15 previously unreleased songs, track by track notes from Chrissie Hynde and a souvenir poster.

2) P132 – David Hepworth reviews a selection of books which all deal with US soldiers’ experiences in Iraq. “If Vietnam was the first rock and roll war, then the two Iraq conflicts are the first ones to have been fought by young men obsesses with style, weaned on films about Vietnam and uncomfortable when too far removed form a source of digital entertainment.”

3) P116 – another page of adverts, this time one for Imogen Heap’s ‘Speak For Yourself’ (“Smouldering, melodic electropop – excellent” according to Time Out and Scott Walker’s ‘The Drift’ which is  possibly the plainest advert ever to grace the pages of the magazine.

4) P26 – the second of a two page piece by Steve Yates about old records which had another life after being sampled on hip hop records. Who knew that Charles Aznavour’s ‘Parce Que Tu Crois’ was sampled by both Dr Dre in ‘What’s The Difference’ and in ‘Breathe’ by Blu Cantrell?

5) P19 – Hazel Davis writes a two page feature on celebrity marriages such as J-Lo and Chris Judd (“… the fat-bottomed diva married her backing dancer, Cris Judd in September 2001. Nine months later the marriage was over…). Liza Minnelli and David Gest (“throughout their marriage the pair denied rumours that Gest, a concert promoter and lifelong collector of Judy Garland memorabilia, was gay”) and Britney and Jason Alexanvder (“The Louisiana lovers walked down the aisle in blue jeans and baseball caps, but annulled the hasty affair after two days”).

Interesting – A great pop trivia fact from interview with Paul Simon – that Robin DiMaggio, the nephew of ‘Joltin’ Joe’ played drums on his album ‘Surprise’.

Graeme Le Saux (‘he reads the Guardian you know’) reveals his love of various 4AD bands. “Pat Nevin, a good friend of John Peel, got me into 4AD – The Pixies and This Mortal Coil, a brilliant band. I got really into the 4AD artwork by Vaughan Oliver and everything, like you do when you’re young with an enthusiasm for something.”

Mark Hooper of Esquire magazine waxes lyrical about lyrical waxings. The grandly titled Donald C Davidson Librabry’s Cylinder Digitization and Preservation Project has been converting some of the oldest recordings to MP3 format. Hooper writes that the songs are “…from an era that has been completely written out of musical history in a Stalinist rejection of anything no longer deemed cool or relevant to the modern consumer. While the rock family tree’s roots are firmly bedded in folk and blues, another has been entirely overlooked: the one represented by Edward M. Favor’s ‘I Think I Hear A Woodpecker Knocking At My Family Tree’ (1910).”

Nige Tassell reviews ‘White Bread, Black Beer’ the comeback album from Green Gartside.“The Princess Di bouffant may be gone (he now sports a lumberjack’s thick goatee), but there’s one thing the extended hibernation hasn’t altered – that breathy, androgynous voice, seemingly preserved in aspic from Scritti’s mid-80’s heyday.”

Joe Muggs writes about the ‘OC Effect’ – that is quirky or unusual bands who’ve gained exposure through “…hip TV dramas like Six Feet Under and Californian rich-teenagers soap The OC.” He chats to one such beneficiary, Imogen Heap. “It’s a fantastic way to reach people, unlike radio where you’re just another song among many, and where they would never play a song as unusual as ‘Hide And Seek’ anyway, the song is placed in a real powerful context without any introduction or anything. Straight away there’s more involvement with the song, a more immediate emotional reaction, and then a feeling that it’s something exciting to seek out.”

Andy Gill explains the inspiration behind Leonard Cohen’s ‘Sisters Of Mercy’. “They were literally two sisters whom he met in a doorway whilst sheltering from a ferocious snowstorm in Edmonton, Alberta, where he was playing guitar at a coffee-shop. He invited the young women back to his hotel room, where the weary travellers immediately fell asleep in his bed whilst he sat by the window looking out over the river, and wrote the song. “Whatever erotic fantasy I had had about the whole situation evaporated very quickly”, he told Norwegian journalist Kari Hesthamar. Everybody had different purposes – theirs was fatigue and rest, and mine was some kind of bewilderment as usual about the whole situation. That was the first time I ever wrote a lyric from beginning to end without any revision. When they woke up I played them the song and everyone was happy.”

Longer article

Pete Doherty meets Sylvia Patterson. One of the oddest encounters in the history of Word magazine.




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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Word #36

Issue 36

February 2006

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Cover star – Johnny Cash

Word shuffle

1) P115 – Jim White’s review of the film ‘Jarhead’. “It’s an examination of how young men react under duress. Particularly the manner in which these soldiers, absorbing the imagery of movie warfare, see themselves as participating in a remake of their favourite films. The scene in which Gyllenhaal and his buddies relax during training by watching the helicopter scene from ‘Apocalypse Now’ is astonishing. Wound up into a frenzy of machismo by the brutality of their preparation, they are not shocked by Coppola’s anti-war epic, rather they sing along to Wagner and cheer as each Vietnamese village is blasted as if they are watching some grand sporting event.”

2) P63 – final page of a 4 page article on the appeal of Arctic Monkeys by Andrew Collins. “Try this from B-side ‘Bigger Boys And Stolen Sweethearts’: ‘Have you heard what she’s been doing?/Never did it for me/He picks her up at the school gates/At 20 past 3/She’s been with all the boys/But never went very far/She wagged English and Science/Just to go in his car.’

The magic for me, is in the use of the word ‘wagged’ – a colloquialism that takes me right back to a time when The Undertones were my favourite band; another bunch of urchins in affordable jeans who made the heart somersault with songs about chocolate and girls. Alex Turner is a poet. He may not have Morrissey’s jaw, or indeed his wilfully effeminate style, and he hails from the wrong side of the Pennines for George Formby, but he clearly attended the same school as both.”

3) P12 – a 2 page photograph of the Sex Pistols on stage in February 1976. Johnny Rotten crouches down with a tin of Heineken, looking out into the smiling faces of the small crowd.

4) P65 – the 2nd of 4 pages about the longevity of espionage tales by Christopher Bray. “The spy novel faces the same pitfalls as the real-life spy. If language and race prevent the CIA from infiltrating Osama’s crew, how is a novel about such infiltrations going to satisfy our need amid what Ian Fleming once called our ‘fantasies of the bang-bang kiss-kiss variety’, for that ballast of realism all the best spy stories are weighted by?”

5) P104 – album reviews of Beck’s ‘Guerolito’ (“at its best a supremely funky and surreal companion to the original album”), The Blue Aeroplanes’ ‘Swagger’ (“the remaster gives even more sparkle to an already blindingly good album”) and ‘Sound Mirrors’ by Coldcut (“like Gorillaz’ ‘Demon Days’, the mood is broadly dystopian; paranoia stalks the obliquely menacing ‘Boogie Man’ and the clanking camera shutters of ‘Just For A Kick’).”

Interesting – Word writers argue the case for the 30 best and worst cover versions in existence. In the worst category they place Michael Ball’s ‘Life On Mars’ (“There was always a bit of Vegas in Bowie…but never this much”) and Cilla’s ‘Work Is A Four Letter Word’ as covered by The Smiths (“By some miles the worst Smiths recording”) but top – or bottom – spot goes to Rod Stewart’s interpretation of ‘Cigarettes And Alcohol’ (“Rod turns ‘let’s ‘ave it’ into ‘I’ve ‘ad it’ in one fell swoop”).

For the best they offer us ‘Common People’ by William Shatner (“Captain Kirk’s hamtastic spoken version is oddly appropriate for this piece of modern Sondheim”), ‘All Apologies’ by Kathryn Williams (“William’s chamber-folk reading reveals the sweetness in Cobain’s melodies, making the song’s mystery still more mysterious”) and ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ by Sita (“dancefloor stormer done in delicate acoustic style”). The cream of the crop is Fiona Apple’s ‘Across The Universe’ (“genuinely, no messing, it’s better than the original”).

In the ‘Word Of Mouth’ section, Beck talks about his early experiences in London. “I first came one winter when I’d dropped out of high school with $200 to my name. I was sleeping on a friend’s father’s floor, and I’d wander around the city in the day, but it got too cold, so I just lived in cinemas to keep warm. Early on, I saw a Luis Bunuel triple bill, one of which, ‘The Phantom Of Liberty’ had such an effect on me.”

Joaquin Phoenix loves the Fab Four – “I have to say The Beatles, without a doubt, are the greatest band ever”, whereas Siobhan Fahey prefers “people like Goldfrapp and Peaches – sexy, visual, slightly saucy stuff that’s great to hear and watch”. Chas Smash from Madness speaks up for MC Skinnyman’s ‘Council Estate Of The Mind’ – “It’s street but with real social import, a feeling of what it’s like to live on an estate; the only way out is being a bad boy.”

Trent Reznor discusses Johnny Cash’s cover of ‘Hurt’ and admits that, at first he “…had no use for Cash’s rendition. ‘I listened to it’, he told me shortly after his death, and it just seemed incredibly strange and wrong to me to hear that voice with my song…I thought, “Here’s this thing that I wrote in a moment of frailty, and now Johnny Cash is singing it.” It kind of freaked me out.’ But, as it did for so many other people, Romanek’s video made Cash’s reading of the song more visceral – and undeniable – for Reznor. ‘I felt honoured to be a part of it.”

Julian Cope has learnt not to resist a gimmick. “The gimmick in rock is important. Absolutely! Look at Morrissey with his hearing aid or Jimmy Page with his violin bow. It’s a way to achieve transformation – because if you can allude to something then you can reach that thing. I feel I’ve really nailed the gimmick – I’ve had the telescoping transporter mike stand, the turtleshell and the dog jacket with three paws – to name but three.”

Longer article

John Ingham  looks back at the problems with last year’s Apple/Motorola music handset.

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Word #34

Issue 34

December 2005

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Cover star – The Edge

Word shuffle

1)      P116 – final page of a 14 page Edge extravaganza by Mark Ellen. Bono gives his summary of the man. “Beneath the stillness, the Zen-like mastery of arpeggios and perfectly chosen crystal notes, there is a rage, an explosive side, as I’ve learnt on more than a few occasions. Never pick a fight with a man who earns his living through perfect hand-to-eye co-ordination.”

2)      P42 – Second of two pages on singers and bands who’ve re-recorded their old songs. “In considering the historical precedents for ‘Simplified’, Mick Hucknall is keen to steer away from the notion of the ‘Unplugged’ album, another tried and tested route to reclaiming an old repertoire, most famously exemplified by Clapton in 1992 who had a huge hit with ‘Layla’. “I felt it was a great idea, but Clapton’s actual album as an entity was a bit sleepy,” he says. “I appreciate that he did well with it, but I just needed to have more variation.” Hucknall prefers to focus on the comparison with Sinatra, who re-recorded many of the songs he originally released on Capitol when he started his own label, Reprise.”

3)      P16 – a page about Hard-Fi and their relationship with their heartland,Staines, by Roy Wilkinson. “No, Staines isn’t the Bronx”, says Richard (Archer – the singer). “But there is something odd about Staines. We think it’s because the aircraft dump all their fuel over us when they come in to Heathrow.”

4)      P25 – a full page advert for the W800i Walkman Phone by Sony Ericsson. The blurb says you can “carry up to 125 of your favourite tracks on your mobile”. It also boasts having a “2.0 Megapixel camera with auto focus so you can take breathtaking shots and store them alongside your prized music collection.”

5)      P38 – the first of a 2 page spread on recent movie remakes by Christopher Bray. “Andrew Douglas’s new version of ‘The Amityville Horror’ (2005) for instance, lacks the courage of the original’s constrictions. Not content to be a horror movie, it wants to be a horror movie about Dubya’s America. This time around the ghost turns out to be a right-wing religious nut. Which is fine, except that nobody save a few historians will understand it the year after next.”

Interesting – Noddy Holder tells Mark Ellen about his early days in the music industry, on the German port circuit in the Sixties. “Booked by “a right gangster” in Kiel, he had the mixed fortune of being shepherded around town by Paul Raven, the singer with Boston International (actually Paul Gadd and, later, Gary Glitter). Raven’s advice included the valuable forewarning that “people occasionally came into the club with guns and started shooting each other”, and that it was possible to subsist on just one meal a day, the local delicacy of Bauernfruhstuck – farmer’s breakfast – a gigantic omelette piled with fried onions, peas and potatoes “which was all we could afford”.

Craig Brown of Private Eye magazine advises that one should remain in pyjamas when working from home “until you’ve finished the days’s work. It’s the best way to make yourself a prisoner in oyur own home, which is absolutely necessary. Otherwise you find yourself thinking ‘Maybe I’ll go to the shops for a pint of milk, or the Post Office, of for a walk to clear the mind…’ If you’ve got your pyjamas on, you’re trapped and you work much better. I’d suggest buying women’s pyjamas because they don’t have that gaping open fly area which springs open when you answer the door to the postman.”

Alex Kapranos from Franz Ferdinand recommends ‘In The Aeroplane Over The Sea’ by Neutral Milk Hotel (“emotionally intense, open, the lyrics sway between metaphor and reality so easily you don’t know what’s going on…”) and George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” (“easily the best of the Beatle’s solo work. This sweet, melancholic optimism, the Phil Spector production – these huge crashing waves that feel so big it’s like the momentum of a crowd – the slides in the strings, the lyrics so simple but very powerful”).

Andrew Harrison reviews ‘The Apple Box’ by XTC and praises the quality of Partridge and Moulding’s sleevenotes .“Like Elvis Costello’s annotations of his own re-releases, they’re funny and fluent, rare examples of musicians bringing experience and unselfconcious candour to bear on their own work.”

The best and worst record covers are discussed. ‘Bare’ by Annie Lennox makes the second category. “Just unbelievable. She looks like Sir Keith Joseph, shaved and rolled in flour.” Bob Dylan’s ‘Self Portrait’ is described as looking “…like Shaun Ryder in a hall of mirrors.” In the best category are ‘American Recordings’ by Johnny Cash (“…an awe-inspiring biblical dimension appropriate, since he was effectively back from the dead”) and ‘Aladdin Sane’ (“Beautiful and unsettling, in one stroke it stroke it created Bowie’s persona and set the parameters of glam rock”).

Longer article

Andrew Harrison writes about the recently revived Doctor Who series.


Word #32

Issue 32

October 2005


Cover star – Roger Waters

Word shuffle

1)      P66 – final page of six on Roger Waters. When asked by Mark Ellen if he ever regrets leaving the group, he gives the following answer:

“Not for one single second. There were times…like when I was in Cincinnati and I was playing to 3,000 in a half-empty arena, and the Pink Floyd were playing to 80,000 people the next night – this was the Radio Kaos tour, it was 1987. I felt like Henry the Fifth – ‘We happy few, we band of brothers. For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother’ – meaning that because there are only a few of them there it is sweeter. Because of the camaraderie. And there was definitely that feeling from the 3, 000 people that were there. I felt a huge kind of kinship with them. And I felt that the 80, 000 people the next night were not, you know, getting it. It was a cobbled-together facsimile of the work I used to do and they would probably never understand that they were being short-changed. And they still are. There’s still quite a large number of people who don’t understand the difference between ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ and ‘The Division Bell’. They can’t tell one from the other. They don’t get it!”

2)      P89 – from a nine page feature by Andy Gill about Martin Scorsese’s study of Dylan, ‘No Direction Home.’

“The footage from the Newport Festival performances of 1963, 1964 and 1965 provides a sped-up, jump-cut depiction of how Dylan rapidly outgrew the folk scene. In 1963, he’s the bashful young pretender, led on stage by Queen Joan, before closing the festival singing ‘Blowing In The Wind’ in front of a backing group that includes Joan Baez, Pete Seeger and Peter, Paul & Mary. In 1964 he’s the reigning prince but he’s also become public property, introduced gracelessly with, “You know him, he’s yours – Bob Dylan!” And in 1965, he makes it all too clear that they don’t know him, and he isn’t theirs, when he appears with a backing group built around the Butterfield Blues Band.”

3)      P33 – an advert for Orange Premier. They promise extras like “an appointment with a Phone Trainer to help you get the most out of your phone like setting up email on it.”

4)      P74 – the first of a four page feature on Alfred Hitchcock by Christopher Bray. Here he discusses Hitchcock’s early film, ‘The Lodger’.

“Hitchcock’s harsh, expressionist lighting and shadowy, angular set-design are way ahead of their time. And what would become Hitchcock’s trademark men and metaphysic – the shady looking innocence of guilt, the psychopathology of sex and murder – all these are already firmly in place. He would go on to make better films than ‘The Lodger’, but he would rarely stray far from the territory so precisely demarcated.”

5)      P131 – 2nd page of review of the ‘Threads’ DVD by Christopher Bray. “…the second half owes perhaps more than it ought to David Bowie’s ‘Diamond Dogs’. Thought it is considerably less melodramatic than the Dame’s rum future vision, something of his operatic ham obtrudes nonetheless. Where Bowie gave us ‘Fleas the size of rats’ sucking on ‘rats the size of cats’, Hines and Jackson serve up the image of a handful of grimy survivors hacking and hawking their way through a dead sheep atop the moors of the Peak District.”

Interesting – from ‘How To Read A Press Release’: ‘Distinctive vocals’ – he/she can’t sing, ‘Re-released by popular demand’ – we’ve got a phone advert, ‘Sophomore Album’ – silly phrase used only in press releases to make ‘second album’ sound more American and therefore more interesting. Sophomore year is your second at an American college but strangely nobody ever follows their ‘sophomore effort’ with ‘junior year’ or ‘senior year’ albums.

In the ‘Word Of Mouth’ section Ricky Wilson off of The Kaiser Chefs recommends ‘You Are The Quarry’ by Morrissey, declaring it to be the best album of the previous year. Humphrey Lyttleton talks about his recent involvement with Radiohead on ‘Kid A’. “We didn’t know what they wanted; they didn’t know what they wanted – so we worked towards each other for seven hours, eventually Johnny taking over the piano to better understand the shape of the composition. Thom suggested we go and have something to eat and then come back and do some more, but I told him we had it. Seven hours, my cheeks were like a bloodhound, sort of drooping – and they played it back and thought it sounded fine.”

Jude Rogers reviews ‘Coles Corner’ by Richard Hawley. “It opens with a swooping, sad string melody that sounds like it’s spent 50 years locked in a closet following the closure of The Light Programme.”
Stephen Fry is asked by Andrew Harrison for a reaction to Angus Deayton’s sacking on ‘Have I Got New For You’ and says, “I thought it was a moral mistake to fire Angus. I thought it was cheesy and prefect-y and cowardly and pusillanimous. If they’d have waited a week they could have weathered it. And it was bad for the show. I still think it is.”

And we learn that Alison Goldfrapp’s “…graduation piece was a miked-up cow which she milked, amplifying its peristaltic gurglings through a sound system while she yodelled.”

Longer article – Nick Bradshaw writes about the changing face of literary genres.

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