Word #43

Issue 43

September 2006

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Cover star – various stars of the 80’s

Word shuffle

1) P123– the DVD of ‘Lost’ (Series 2, Part 1) is reviewed by Dorian Lynskey. ” The show demands that you embrace its absurdity; it leaves no room for dabblers or nitpickers. Personally, I love its pulpy energy. The story of the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 began as a disaster B-movie and turned into the longest episode of ‘The Twilight Zone’ ever made (in one of several illuminating extras, creator JJ Abrams admits that Rod Serling’s freak-of-the-week classic is his favourite show), but there’s much more lurking beneath its trashy surface: the outlandish, paranoid mind games of ‘The Prisoner’ and the bizarro soap operatics of ‘Twin Peaks’ for starters.”

2) P17– the second of a 2 page article by Hazel Davis detailing addresses listed in pop songs. “King George Street by Squeeze: Difford and Tilbrook’s gloomy narrative chronicles domestic abuse and poverty in SE10. A heart-rending tale from pop’s social commentators, yet the street remains uncommemorated and the wife-beaters still stalk the place with impunity. Allegedly.” She also mentions the prostitutes on Chatham High Street (as mentioned by Billy Childish, Bleecker Street (Simon and Garfunkel) and Killermont Street (Aztec Camera).

3) P73 – final page of Toby Manning’s 4 page piece on Syd Barrett. “After ‘Barrett’ (his 2nd solo album), what (Peter Jenner (his co-manager) calls ‘the fog’ became thicker. “Always stuff would emerge from the fog and then disappear back in. In the earlier sessions it was more like a song. Later it was a snatch of riff or lyric. You couldn’t really communicate. We’d just try and encourage him. It’s really hard to accept that someone who’d been so creative and so full of creative energy couldn’t get it back out. Unbelievably frustrating and upsetting.”

4) P62 – third page of Lynsey Hanley’s 4 page piece on Belle And Sebastian from their gig at the Hollywood Bowl. “There’s as much of a glint as a twinkle in (Stuart) Murdoch’s eye as he talks: Belle And Sebastian is more than simply a band, it’s the life he lives. It’s the one he dreamed of when he was ill, which is why it matters so much. Sheer will is what brought the band into existence, and is what keeps the whole endeavour going. Therein lies the secret of the elevation of B&S from indie figureheads to a band that can command the attention of 20, 000 excitable Californians: to Murdoch, this was always their destiny.”

5) P97 – a page of adverts for gigs. The Feeling play 19 dates, Aberfeldy do 15 whilst Ryan Adams & The Cardinals offer the punters a mere 6. There’s also an advert for Chilton Fest 2006, asking for “bands/helpers’punters to come and enjoy what is likely to build into one of the more special events in the UK Summer Music calendar.” A cursory google search reveals that in early 2017, Chilton Fest is pining for the fjords.

Interesting – In the ‘Word Of Mouth section, Russell Brand reveals his musical tastes: “I like a bit of drama, a bit of mystery and portent which leads me naturally to Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds. I’ve been listening to ‘No More Shall We Part’ a lot recently. I really do enjoy him enormously, but it’s The Smiths and Morrissey that really rule my musical life. I love what Morrissey is doing now in very much the same way as I loved what he was doing 20 years ago. My cousins were really big fans of The Smiths and they introduced me to what is now a daily pleasure.The music and the lyrics have invaded my life and my philosophy and inform everything I do.”

By contrast, the cricketer Kevin Pietersen is less florid in his approach. “Last year when we were playing in the Ashes, my big album was ‘Hot Fuss’ by The Killers, I listened to to them a lot. What do I like about them? What do you mean mate? I like their music, I’m not a big analyser mate.”

Tony Hadley reminisces about the heady days of New Romanticism. “My granddad, a lovely man and always very smart in a suit, I met him once outside Waterloo station and he refused to sit in the same carriage as me. I was wearing ballet slippers, white socks, wrap-around Iranian Cossack-type trousers, tight at the ankles and baggy with a flap like Aladdin up the front and a silk shirt with Greek imprints, make-up and a headband. And this was only going to see my Mum and Dad in Pontins.”

Paul Du Noyer speaks to Daniel Johnston on the release of the documentary ‘The Devil and Daniel Johnston’

PDN: It’s amazing that so much of your life has been recorded. On the DVD it’s like you’ve used a video camera or a tape recorder almost every day since childhood. Why is that?

DJ: Well, I think I was trying in my mind to be famous, so I wouldn’t have to work at the pottery.

PDN: The pottery?

DJ: They have lots of potteries back in West Virginia, you know, for pots and dishes and stuff. I worked in a place for cups and saucers. It was a great luxury to have the radio on all day long, but I had to get out of there. It took me a long time to make money on my art, but now my art sells on my website for a pretty good price. I have a lot of extra money to spend and I feel like I’m rich. I just go and buy albums and DVDs all the time.”

Longer article

Bob Lefsetz is interviewed by Mark Ellen about the future of the music industry.

 

Word # 42

Issue 42

August 2006

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Cover star – Keith Richards

Word shuffle

1) P110 – two half page adverts for the ‘Spunk’ demos from the Sex Pistols and Diana Ross’s lost album, ‘Blue’.

2) P98 – various albums are reviewed, chiefly Lily Allen’s ‘Alright, Still’ by Paul Du Noyer. “Who knows how long she’ll sound so fresh, so unaffected? Years, I hope. For now let’s just salute the pop purity of her ambition: ‘I mean’, she said, ‘why don’t you just try and do an album of 11 singles, instead of three?’ And she has.”

3) P127 – a page of book reviews. Nige Tassell reviews ‘And They All Sang: The Great Musicians Of The 20th Century Talk About Their Music’ by Studs Terkel. “Terkel, who’s still with us at an impossibly active 94, is a broadcaster who not only holds his own whatever the subject, but who also knows exactly when to shut up and listen. Accordingly he squeezes out some fascinating insights. whether it’s a 22 years old Bob Dylan on small-town suffocation, Janis Joplin revealing how she was introduced to the blues by the local library or Alan Lomax recalling the time he and his dad sprang Leadbelly from the State Pen.”

4) P62 – Joe Muggs interviews Devendra Banhart. “Isolated from popular culture, and feeling neither American, nor Venezuelan, Devendra wrote songs from the age of 12, and when he returned to California from Caracas in his late teens to study art in San Francisco, he completely bypassed all modern scenes and culture in favour of making new friends who introduced him to the music of Syd Barrett, Pentangle, Vashti Bunyan and The Incredible String Band. ‘These guys were my only influences. It was Vetiver and the musicians I knew, and the older music that they played. Harry Smith’s ‘Anthology of American Folk Music’, all this kind of stuff; this was my pop music!”

5) P54 – the first of two pages of letters from the magazine’s readers. Edward Randell writes”I’m beginning to think that my subscription to your magazine is pretty eccentric. Why? Because I’m 17. This last issue your article on Lily Allen was blighted somewhat by the assertion that ‘new artists are getting younger by the minute’, which is pretty much equivalent to little old ladies who think the policemen are getting younger.Your grown-up approach to popular culture is infinitely preferable to squealing indie hype, and I have immense love for some of the old gimmers you write about but please could you start to make the likes of me feel a little more welcome. We’re not all Rock Dads you know.”

Interesting – Will Self has a problem with music since giving up smoking dope. “I put on things that I know are really moving and it’s like having sex with a fantastically thick condom on, only partly stimulating. In the last few years only Gavin Bryar’s ‘Jesus’s Blood Never Failed Me Yet’ really transfixed me, it was so modal and moving.”

Mark Ellen’s editor’s note is about Keef. “Smouldering softly on this month’s cover, its dark eyes generating a strange sort of thermo-nuclear heat, is the face that appears to have been chiselled on the side of Mount Rushmore. The leathery countenance and bionic bone-structure suggest the man inside is now comprised of a substance more durable than flesh and blood that is virtually indestructible.”

In the ’30 More Songs You Have To Hear’ article, Andy Partridge of XTC chooses ‘American Haikus’ by Jack Kerouac. The poetry and music here pushed out a line that was later picked up by Captain Beefheart and Tom Waits and, ultimately by rappers. But Kerouac is the originator – he’s certainly the best I’ve ever heard. My favourite line goes, ‘In my winter cabinet the fly has died of old age’, how can you top that?” Jose Gonzalez selects R.Kelly’s ‘Trapped In The Closet’. “It’s very very funny, but I don’t think he knows that. I must have watched the video at least 50 times and listened to the ‘suite’ – it’s about 45 minutes long – easily as many times.” Corinne Bailey Rae selects ‘Georgia On My Mind’ by Ray Charles. “I first heard it at a gig in Leeds by Maceo Parker and it was so moving I actually cried. It was written by Hoagy Carmichael, I think as a love song, but when Ray Charles covered it he imbued it with a whole new emotional weight, taking this love song and making it resonante with overtones to the state of Georgia and racism.”

Andrew Harrison asks if a phone could one day topple the iPod as the digital player of choice. “The whole experience (of the Nokia N91) is as eye-openingly seamless and easy as, well, my first dabblings with iTunes. It’s even got a Dock. And then there’s the FM Radio, 2 Megapixel still/video camera, web browser and novel capacity to connect to wireless hotspots in Starbucks or wherever.”

Award for the best by-line goes to ‘Hey Nanny, no!’ accompanying an article by Andrew Collins on the trend for disapproving matrons on TV.

Longer article

Trevor Dann writes about the recently deceased Top Of The Pops.

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Word #41

Issue 41

July 2006

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Cover star – Neil Young

Word shuffle

1) P96 – reviews of ‘Superb’ by The Beautiful South (“…after any seven Beautiful South songs you feel like you’re drowning in blancmange”), Frank Black’s ‘Fast Man, Raider Man’ (“the songs are uniformly strong, though inevitably not always quite strong enough to justify 27 of the buggers”) and a remastered version of ‘Paris 1919’ by John Cale (“….the album comes over like a dusty relic of another world, as comforting as a crackling hearth in the thick of winter, as familiar as a convivial uncle”.)

2) P52 –Andrew Collins praises the Hairy Bikers. “You might say that I, along with 2.4 million other proletarian cookery fans with an empty belly since Jamie Oliver became a social reformer, have fallen for the Hairy Bikers. They are like a 3D Viz strip (helped by Si’s crackling Geordie accent) with their fantastic cries of ‘How fantastic is that?’ and ‘Whack on your tomatoes!’ and to love them is to love life.”

3) P116 – Edward Lawrenson reviews some films including’Offside’ from Iran. “…a lively, quietly angry salute to women with a passion for football and freedom that rather puts to shame our habit of slumping in front of the TV to watch the World Cup. It’s rewarding, thought-provoking viewing, well worth a trip to the cinema.”

4) P10 – a two page piece on the Dixie Chicks and the aftermath of their anti-Bush statement three years earlier. “Now they return with their first record since the furore, in which no concessions are made to a country audience that is no longer listening. ‘When we were doing the marketing and publicity plan for the release we said ‘Exclude radio – we have to be creative’, says (singer, Natalie) Maines. ‘There are 147 country radio stations and only 20 something are playing the new album. So to me that’s pretty much finished. But we planned for that’.”

5) P69 – David Hepworth speaks to Steve Van Zandt over four pages about his bid to ‘rescue radio and save rock and roll’. “We have to make sure that bands get out of this regular-guy look. The two things that could stop this revolution are the regular-guy look and the three-piece band. The two biggest garage bands and the White Stripes and the Hives and they both have a look. I’m all for democracy but we need the separation and mystery is necessary. If you look on stage and you see exactly the same as you, what is there to aspire to? What is there to inspire you?”

Interesting – Neil Young is interviewed by Robert Sandall. “His (Neil’s) love of nature, as expressed by his ownership of a working farm stuffed with a zoo-like array of different animals, prompted a tirade against the arrogance of a certain strain of Christianity and their proposition that humans were made in God’s image. ‘What about the squirrels? How do they feel about that?

Graeme Thomson delves into the working methods of Sufjan Stevens. ” His album ‘Illinoise’ was the product of of months of research, reading everything from Carl Sandburg to police blogs, while he talks about ‘gathering material and reinforcing plausability in the narrative’, not a sentence you’re ever likely to hear Shayne Ward or even Phil Collins utter.”

Andy Gill writes about Grant McLennan’s short life in the Depature Lounge section. “According to Go-Betweens bassist Robert Vickers, McLennan was a bohemian to the last, a man who shunned the usual worldly demands, preferring to spend most of the day chatting about books and French new wave movies over cigarettes and beer.”

Dylan’s ‘Theme-Time Radio Hour’ is given an enthusiastic appraisal by Robyn Hitchcock. “The beauty of the show so far is how Dylan manages to shed light on himself by illuminating the music in which he was marinated as a youngster. It’s probably not all to his taste but then the same went for the world he was growing up in. None of his selections is as barbed as his own songs, although he’s deliciously ironic at times. ‘Bueno, Stevie, bueno’, he murmurs after Stevie Wonder’s rendition of A Place In The Sun. His long quote from the Italian lyrics is bound to end up on someone’s answering machine.”

Longer article

This issue’s Word Of Mouth section in which celebrities and subscribers say what they’re enjoying in music, books and film.

 

Word #38

Issue 38

April 2006

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Cover star – Pet Shop Boys

Word shuffle

1) P140 – A page of book reviews, largely given over to Rob Fitzpatrick’s views on ‘Do I Come Here Often?’ by Henry Rollins. He’s not a fan. “Rarely, if ever, has the life of even such a reluctant rock and roll star seemed so crushingly depressing, so free of any kind of relief or humanity. Rollins is supremely focussed and has a well practised knack for a cutting put down (fans, other bands, groupies, tour managers, women in general beware), but his life is one endless plough of the same lonely, frustrated furrow.”

2) P27 – A 2 page feature on photos of Madonna from 1980. The pictures were taken by her boyfriend at the time, Dan Gilroy and show her looking like Pat Benatar in a Lycra jumpsuit or drumming in a Laura Ashley frock with the Breakfast Club.

3) P97 – A 2 page interview with Peter Ackroyd in one Dickens’ favourite watering-holes. “He (Ackroyd) was a precocious kid. At five he was reading newspapers. At seven, he realised he was gay. At nine, he wrote a play about Guy Fawkes. He won a scholarship to a private school in West London, and another scholarship to Cambridge where he got a double first in English and lost the vestiges of his London accent. After a spell at Yale, where he met his long-term partner, a dancer called Brian Kuhn (who died of AIDS in 1994) he came back to London and, at only 23, got a job as literary editor of The Spectator and published his first poems.”

4) P138 – DVD reviews of ‘Godzilla’ (“Godzilla is one giant lizard who needs to get back to his core brand message”) and ‘Ryan’s Daughter: Special Edition’ (“…audiences fed on ‘Easy Rider’ and ‘Performance’ derided the overblown crescendo of violins that announces Rosy’s first kiss with Shaughnessy. A more considered viewing reveals the point of the fanfare: its brashness refers to Rosy’s callowness, and renders the silence of her later love scenes with Doryan all the more eloquent”).

5) P66 – From ‘Word To The Wise’ with Dara O’Briain. “We (the Irish) do charm and whimsy, whereas the English do cynicism, wordplay, surrelaism, sitcom, the whole lot. You have a broad collection of arrows in your bow, whereas we just smile and wink winsomely. And twinkle…I’ve been twinkling for years.”

Interesting – David Hepworth looks back at the records that were recalled, reworked and remastered for various reasons. “10, 000 Maniacs were so cross about the former Cat Stevens’s apparent ambivalence over the Salman Rushdie fatwa that they had their record company take his song ‘Peace Train’ off their record ‘In My Tribe’. In 1977 Roy Harper put out the album ‘Bullinamingvase’. One of the songs on this record, ‘Watford Gap’, made the grievous (and manifestly untrue) allegation that the hospitality at this legendary motorway stop amounted to little more than “a plate of grease and a load of crap”. The threat of legal action forced Harper to remove the offending tune from UK copies of the LP, though the same, neatly rhyming libel continued to be propagated overseas.”

Martin Freeman talks about his love of Motown and his Paul Weller obsession as a kid. “I never had the clothes though. For one thing, I was a very small child. My friend at school had a pork-pie hat and it looked like a Stetson on him. In my mind I looked like Jerry Dammers. In reality, I looked like Steptoe.”

Jude Rogers interviews Graham Coxon. “A few things point to his age. His new clothes and shoes are more classic English gentleman these days, he notes sartorially, the trousers “proper high-waisters” and he “doesn’t wear trainers anymore”. Then there’s the other stuff. The toy cars and helicopters, the crude blobby paintings, a small pair of pink wellies and a rocking reindeer with a backstage pass hanging off an antler. They belong to Pepper, Graham’s six-year-old daughter. Every other week she’s here and Dad does the school run.”

Neil Tennant is interviewed by Andrew Harrison. “People of our age now listen to pop music, and yes, pop has become more like films, where it’s possible for a man in his fifties to have a career in Hollywood as a serious actor, maybe. But sometimes, at the end of the day, I wonder if it’s only about sex. If you’re not selling sex, are you fucked, as it were? Does it all end when you’re too old to sell sex? I’m not disputing that Madonna is making great records but is she just selling sex as well?”

Rhys Ifans is a big fan of The Cramps, The Clash and Butthole Surfers.

Longer article

As swingorilliant Smash Hits finally goes down the dumper, Mark Ellen looks back.

For further reading try this comprehensive archive from Brian McCloskey or Sylvia Patterson’s ‘I’m Not With The Band’. And do watch the interview between Pete Burns and the Popworld presenters that Mark references at the end of the article.

 

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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 #35

Issue 35

January 2006

 

 

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Cover star – Bob Dylan

Word shuffle

1)      P36 – Joe Muggs writes about Lady Sovereign and calls her “the Daily Mail‘s nightmare: the voice of the multicultural underclass answering back; not only bolshy but articulate, funny and optimistic”.

2)      P79 – part of a six page spread about the absolute worst of everything. On this page, Geri Halliwell is named the worst pop star ever (“Geri’s legacy is the biggest pop lie ever told, the one that says ‘anyone can be a pop star”), the worst film is ‘Sammy And Rosie Get Laid’ (“Hanif Kureshi’s hamfisted harrangue at all things Thatcher looked merely risible in its day. Two decades on it looks like a dictionary definition of everything that went wrong with post-’60s British cinema”), ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ is the worst book (“I only managed to finish it because I was paid. The author recently boasted “I think my books have a built-in mechanism for eliminating readers with poor concentration. I only want determined readers”. Well, I only want want good writing and there was precious little of it here.”) and Madonna’s ‘Sex’ book is declared the worst pop star side project.

3)      P17 – second page of  Sylvia Patterson’s ‘Facetime’ with Chris Langham. She asks him if he’s glad that he took the scenic route to fame. “Well, I drank too much and took a lot of drugs and then didn’t die and found out it was OK to get through life without having to do that. I mean, it’s a high class problem to have and irksome though it’s been to live a life which seems to be extremely compromised from the point of view of being successful, that is my gift. My gift is that I’m not a fuck-up”

4)      P101 – part of a three page article by Stuart Maconie rounding up the year (2005) in music. “Spiky post-punk continued to be the template for UK guitar rock, be it in the shape of Franz Ferdinand, Maximo Park, Editors, Bloc Party, Futureheads or any one of a rat of bands weaned on their older brother’s copy of ‘Unknown Pleasures’. Ever inventive, Oasis picked a new ’60s British pop group to pilfer, The Kinks this time, for ‘The Importance Of Being Idle’, the year’s most enervating hit.”

5)      P55 – the musician Terry Edwards has a letter published about the piece on John Peel in the previous issue. “Frankly, if I had to trade never being played on his show again for him being alive and well I wouldn’t think twice.”

Interesting – Mark E Smith is interviewed by Roy Wilkinson. “I don’t like lyric sheets. There should be an element of mystery. People should be wondering what you’re singing. It should be surprising when you work out what it’s actually saying. I grew up with an Irish family in Salford. I went a bit nuts when I was eight or nine, and me mam and dad were pretty poor, so I ended up staying with this family who were helping me mam and dad out. They were always singing Elvis or Dubliners songs. They never knew the lyrics – they just used to make ’em up. I remember them singing ‘All The Young Dudes’ – “I’m going to Woolworths, I’m gonna shag some cow to death…’ That’s the stuff [laughs]”.

Christopher Bray rounds up the books of 2005 and gives “…the real prize for paper usage in the past year to…Sudoku”. He goes on – “The weird thing is, although everyone you see on the train these days is filling in their missing numbers, they are all doing so in newspapers and not books – so who’s buying these collections? The Sudoku Conundrum – sounds like the new Robert Ludlum thriller.”

Various writers attempt to dispel myths about Bob Dylan. Danny Kelly takes on the received wisdom that Bob was ‘Only Any Good In The ’60s & ’70s’.

“Dylan is Dylan. Or, to be rather less mythological about it, Bob Dylan is Bob Dylan. He never conformed to the laws that govern normal pop stars, normal artists or even normal human beings. Thus he has never quite been where we’ve thought he’s been, or where we’ve expected him to be. Equally, he’s often been somewhere, artistically, that no one else can apparently see. When he was appointed Spokesman For A generation, he thought he was actually a jobbing folkie. When he was viewed as the speed freak demon king of rock and roll, he thought he was a smart arse French poet. And, for a couple of decades now, when he could reasonably be expected to be declining gently into his his physical and artistic dotage, he has in fact kept up a working schedule that younger men would have found debilitating and that many others – refusing to swallow Dylan’s get-out line about being “just a song and dance man” – have found utterly baffling. The result of all this is that it’s hopeless to try and divide Dylan’s stuff up. It has to be taken for what it is, warts and all.”

Andy Gill argues against the saw that ‘Dylan Was A Protest Singer Who Sold Out’.

“If his detractors cared to investigate, it was obvious that Dylan had never abandoned protest at all. Indeed, at exactly the point when folk purist were accusing him of treachery, he wrote and recorded a series of songs – most notably ‘Gates Of Eden’, ‘It’s Alright Ma, I’m, Only Bleeding’ and ‘Desolation Row’ – that were effectively protest songs of a higher order. What Dylan was really being attacked for, in effect, was his refusal to stick to simplistic naturalism.”

Longer article

Paul Du Noyer reviews ‘Ariel’ by Kate Bush.

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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.