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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