Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pure Genius

And having posted a comment on Joe's blog about Phil Harris (you know, voice of Baloo the Bear and Thomas O'Malley in the Disney cartoons) I had to put this up. I used to own this very 78, but now have my Phil Harris on CD.



And this was the other side of the 78:

Strangely, the Russian equivalent "It's fun to stay with the NKVD" never became a hit

Joe In Vegas just posted a couple of dance video clips and reckoned that as a non-Greek he felt more at home with YMCA. I thought you had to be gay to do that one? Anyway, has he never heard of Zorba the Geek?

Not only am I neither Greek nor gay, I'm not even Jewish, so I can't do this dance either. Definitely not. But it's good to watch.

RIP MJ

Touching how many folk are moved by the death of the progenitor of data structured design and Jackson Structured Programming. Thouhg obviously his influence was immense.

What?

Oh, that's a relief.

Best MJ joke I''ve heard so far is that the FBI are investigating the cause of death, with principal suspects being the susnhine, the moonlight and the boogie.

I still wonder whether the O2 gigs will go ahead, with MJ himself leaping onstage to open up with Thriller, but as a real zombie this time.

We'll let the Daily Mash have the last word though.

Monday, June 22, 2009

There are three outfits where blood ties don't count THAT much, Danny Boy, and they all begin with M: the Mafia, the Magic Circle, and the Majestics

The long overdue (and pretty much given-up-on) DVD release of this has gladdened my heart. Emma Thompson before she was a star. Robbie Coltrane before Cracker. Richard Wilson before One Foot In The Grave. Maurice Roeves being as brilliant as ever. And it comes out on my birthday!

Zappa Plays Zappa, HMV Picture House Edinburgh, 18 June 2009

A long-awaited party, this one, as ZPZ had been due to play Glasgow a couple of years ago but had to cancel. Well worth the wait, though. ZPZ could be described as the ultimate tribute band, comprising Frank Zappa's son Dweezil and a bunch of musicians clearly selected as carefully as though FZ himself had picked them. (Sometimes it includes guests who were oringinal FZ alumni.) The music, as the name suggests, is all Frank's. Dweezil describes their audiences as mixing the older generation who came to know and love his Dad's music whe he was still making it, and a new generation who know it only from his huge recorded legacy and from ZPZ's loving recreations. I sort of straddle the two demographics: my brother intriduced me to Frank when We're Only In It For The Money came out, and took me to see the Mothers on the Uncle Meat tour. This means that while I can proudly say I saw Frank himself on stage (doing a memorable My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama), only one piece in Thursday's set list was written when I saw the man. (King Kong, since you ask.)

So on Thursday the Tour de Frank came to town. Details of the band are here, and they are so well-integrated that it seems almost pointless trying to pick out the best performances. Ben Thomas on vocals only joined just before the tour, so has done amazingly well to learn all the material, to say nothing of singing it so well. Scheila Gonzalez sang, played keyboards, and was stunning on flute and saxophone. Dweezil, who misses nothing, spotted a phrase in her Inca Roads solo which resembled the opening of George Michael's Careless Whispers, so during King Kong (which is really just an excuse for all the band members to take extended solos) he had her (1) play Careless Whispers on the sax (2) play a Middle Eastern style flute solo, then (3) morph that into Careless Whispers. Very much the kind of thing FZ used to do, and Scheila carried it off brilliantly. And then of course there is Dweezil. I never thought I'd rate anyone's guitar playing as highly as Frank Zappa's, but having now heard Dweezil rocking out live as well as on record I must admit that he's inherited his father's talent (for playing, not for composition). Facially he resembles Frank a bit, and seeing him play is weirdly like watching FZ. Like Frank, he hardly moves, even when his solos are at their wildest: no Steve Vai-like histrionics for Dweezil. But unlike stone-faced Frank, Dweezil smiles all the time. Here is someone clearly overjoyed to be on stage playing his father's music. And why not?

The audience were apparently among the livelier of the tour. Hugely enthusiastic and certainly fitting Dweezil's description of its composition. There was much joining in with vocals, cheers of recognition at the start of every piece, and calling of requests. When it came to the second encore, Dweezil gave us a choice: either we could have Cosmik Debris, one of Franks's favourites (and incidentally one of mine), or we could have the earlier-requested Bobby Brown Goes Down - but we'd have to sing it. So Bobby Brown it was, and the audience sang along, word-perfect.

I bought the T-shirt:



but I'll remember the gig long after the T-shirt has worn out.

Here's the setlist:

Black Napkins
Magic Fingers
Wind Up Working In A Gas Station
Montana
Village of the Sun
Echidna’s Arf
Inca Roads
Pygmy Twylite
King Kong
Bamboozled By Love
Outside Now
Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow / St Alfonso’s Pancake Breakfast / Father O’Blivion
Zomby Woof

Encores

Peaches En Regalia
Bobby Brown Goes Down
Willie The Pimp

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Missing the Point

While I would hesitate to suggest that it implies an editorial line on architecture and the heir apparent, Simon Hoggart's column in yesterday's Guardian had an interesting tailpiece in which he supported Charles's interference with the planning process for the Chelsea Barracks redevelopment. What got my back up, though, was his description of Richard Seifert's Centre Point, one of my absolute favourite 1960s buildings (and Grade II listed to boot), as a "horror" which had been "imposed" on us. No, Simon, that would be Poundbury.

".....an intellectual lightweight, whose Britishness is embodied by fear of change, indifference to knowledge, distrust of science and addiction to the past." Patrick Hannan's spot-on assessment of Luggy fits Hoggart equally well.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The kind of thing the Scots want independence from

Further to Luggy's Lunacy, it would seem that in Nu-Labour's "egalitarian" Britain patronage still counts for more than democracy. What I find saddest about the while thing is that not only has a decent design been flung on the scrapheap because of HRH's distaste for anything more modern than a bathing-machine, but it's to be replaced by something from his own Foundation For The Built Environment, which gave us such masterpieces as Poundbury. And there I was imagining that planning authorities had a say in these things.

I really, really hope that Wales predeceases his mother, because the thought of how the arrogant tosser would strut about as king doesn't bear thinking about. And I hope that when it happens, the empty-headed oaf is aware that he is being denied what he has hungered for all his worthless life.

Interestingly, the article from the Guardian of 13 June entitled "Prince Charles beats architects in battle of Chelsea Barracks" appears to have vanished, with at least one link to the piece now pointing to the 12 June article linked above. Coincidence?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Jarvis Cocker - 12 June 2009, Glasgow ABC

I last saw JC (not Jesus but he has the same initials) when Pulp played the SECC on the This Is Hardcore tour. (They were excellent, BTW.) What's changed, and what hasn't?

Well, for a start there were no Pulp numbers at all on Friday. Indeed, there were only four songs from his first solo album, with everything else (as far as I could tell - I don't own it yet) coming from Further Complications, his new album. His backing band were self-effacing to the point of anonymity, though their playing was excellent. Jarvis himeslf came on wearing a pale suit and a tie, and sporting the glasses he wears nowadays. (He has a neat trick he did a few times, where he pushes them on top of his head then brings then down onto his nose with a flick of the head and no hands. It was funny the first time but palled a little on repetition.) A few numbers into the set, off came the jacket and tie: his shirt became soaked with sweat but JC doesn't really do costume changes, so even when he came back for his encores he remained obstinately soggy. It's certainly a different image from when he was with Pulp, when he resembled nothing so much as Steerpike on speed. Nowadays, when he gyrates in his characteristic way he looks like a guy in a suit striking odd poses rather than a daddy-long-legs with a microphone.

I can't remember whether he used a radio mike with Pulp, but on this tour it was good old-fashioned cabling (and a patient roadie who kept having to come on and untangle it from the mike stand). JC consumed various foodstuffs in stage, passing the leftovers to the audience: a packet of jelly babies ("You've got to share them, all right?") whose attempts at realism occasioned a comparison with jelly babies of yore ("like Easter Island figures") and a glass of wine. In a more intimate venue than the SECC he could, and did, engage much more with his audience, who were soon eating more than just jelly babies out of his hands. We even learned something: in his introduction to You're In My Eyes Jarvis informed us that the ABC's mirror ball (which was directly above my head and which he used for the song) was the largest in Britain. I can believe it: it's enormous. (The Alabama 3 used it too.)

So what did he sing? After an instrumental introduction he launched into Angela, Further Complications, Big Julie Rules The World, Leftovers, Slush, I Never Said I Was Deep, Homewrecker, Caucasian Blues, Black Magic. Then he went off, reappearing shortly to do either a load of enocres or part two of his set: Fat Children, Big Stuff, Hold Still, Don't Let Him Waste Your Time, You're In My Eyes. Not a long set, then, but perfectly formed. I must confess I half expected an encore of Common People or Disco 2000, but Jarvis has moved on, and perhaps that's just as well. When I get round to reviewing the Morrissey gig at Barrowlands, you'll see that he still does the odd Smiths number: but then Jarvis is poles apart form Morrissey.

A gig to remember, then. Not perhaps one to to pass on to your reverential grandchildren, but solid stuff nonetheless.

An unsung hero

I am filled with admiration for this guy, and anyone else who quietly goes about their business saving priceless documents for posterity.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Cigarettes and Alcohol

I remember my mother once telling me sniffily that classical musicians didn't have rock'n'roll lifestyle issues with drugs etc. Aye, right, as I said then. OK, you don't get them pictured in the tabloids snorting cocaine off supermodels (though I do have a photograph from my 18th birthday celebration of the leader of a renowned British string quartet with two blonde teenage babes in his lap....). Still, the stresses of touring are similar, and as this story shows, its effects are similar too.

I had to share this one with you all

When I logged on tonight I wasn't intending to post another music video, but by one of those serendipitous hits Youtube's "related videos" provides, I managed while looking for Les Barker videos to find this wonderful performance of Heartbreak Hotel by John Cale with Richard Thompson and Shawn Colvin. I have Cale's recording of HH (and saw him do it live when he appeared with Kevin Ayers, Nico and Eno in Manchester just before their more famous June 1st 1974 London concert). This is more atmospheric, ands suits all the singers perfectly. A gem.