Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Jacques Brel Revisited: The Bulls

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

I discovered Jacques Brel in my teens (via Bowie, Marc Almond, Goodbye Mr Mackenzie and the like, no doubt). And each time I go back, I find his songs as fresh as ever.

This song is called “Les Toros”

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Like so many of his songs (The Bigots, The Waltz in a Thousand Time, Amsterdam), it starts pleasantly enough but with lyrical twists and rising musical tension builds to a spine-tingling crescendo of passion or anger.

The Bulls (above) describes a nice day out to see bull-fighting, sunny day, people dressing up; but gradually introduces bloody imagery until it ends:

And when finally they fell
Did not the bulls dream of some hell
Where men and worn-out matadors still burn, aaahh.
Or perhaps with their last breaths
Would they not pardon us their deaths
Knowing what we did at
Carthage, Waterloo, Verdun, Stalingrad, Iwo Jima, Hiroshima, Saigon!


Iggy Pop selling insurance?! Rotten selling butter?!

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

rotten sells country life butterIggy Pop selling house insurance??? The wild man of rock… The skin-slashing junkie… selling the safety and security of insurance. What’s happening with the world? Who thought this was a good idea? Is he strapped for cash?

And this following on from Johnny Rotten selling butter. Butter! How homely. How un-punk rock.

But I have a theory about what he’s up to. It’s well known that Lydon made up the nonsense phrase “pretty vacant” and phrased it such that he was actually saying a Very Rude Word. And get it played on the radio. Great – his wicked sense of humour.

Now… Think about what he’s selling now… Country Life Butter. Just another excuse to sneak that word in again?

Humphrey Lyttelton

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

Oh dear. Humphrey Lyttelton died last night.

86 is a pretty decent age to get to, though!

Sad there will be no more “I’m sorry I haven’t a clue”… or at least, they will never be quite the same.

Radio 4 had seem so reliant on old men… With John Peel (a shock early death) and Ned Sherrin gone, who is left? Nicholas Parsons and Clement Freud are getting on a bit, well into their 80s. All these Old Men of Radio… Barry Cryer must be getting on a bit, though he seems robust to the point of indestructible, fitting with his adolescent character and childish sense of humour.

OK, I’m not big fan of trad jazz, but understand his importance. And of course know his contribution to Radiohead’s “amnesiac”. And the Beatles “Lady Madonna”!

Lyttelton ran a jazz club; told very rude jokeson Radio 4; presented a jazz programme on radio 2 for 40 years; had an old 1970s Volvo, which he still maintained even though it had been round the clock 3 times. He was a calligraphy expert, a cartoonist on the Daily Mail, a journalist and “romantic socialist”.

He was also – admirably – among a small group of people who have turned down a knighthood. (A group which includes: David Bowie, Alan Bennett, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, LS Lowry…)

Well, of course it’s easier to live a life like that if you come from an aristocratic, privileged background (educated at Eton etc.). But it would also be very easy to follow the accepted path of the landed gentry and go into law or the City… So I think this shows his truly rebellious nature – to turn his back on the obvious careers and follow his love of music.

One last footnote: the name Humphrey had been eschewed by his family for hundreds of years because the last Humphrey Lyttelton was implicated in Guy Fawkes’s famous plot. His parent’s decision to break with tradition and use this name suggests even as a newborn baby he showed that spark of rebellion.

Sebastien Tellier in Eurovision?

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Sebastien Tellier entering the Eurovision song contest??! No way!

Well, aside from some controversy, looks like it’s true.

What a pity Bill Bailey didn’t make it as well.

Still, I suppose anything’s possible after a Finnish death metal band won it!!

I really liked Sebastien Tellier‘s first album. I saw him support Air and was less impressive, a little too experimental and indulgent (and I like experimental and indulgent). What was impressive was the accompaniment: a theremin player Pamelia Kurstin who, rather than playing the slow swoops and sweeps associated with theremin playing, played fast punchy walking bass lines as if it was a double bass. Astonishing.

You can buy L’incroyable Verite at amazon.

Blonde Lily

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Lily Allen appears to have gone blonde. Oh dear, Lily, No! It looks terrible.

What is this obsession with blonde about? It seems so oldfashioned… 1950s… “Gentlemen prefer blondes”… all that kind of nonsense. Brown hair is fine, is good.

(But the April fool joke was fun.)

Blondie touring with Parallel Lines

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

They’ve just announced that Blondie will be going on tour in July, playing their most famous – and best – album “Parallel Lines”.

I’m sick and annoyed that, right now, I can’t even consider buying (undoubtedly pricey) tickets.

“Parallel Lines” was the first Proper Album I ever owned (I mean: I’m not counting children’s albums – nursery rhymes, Wally Whyton, Jon Pertwee, Play Away and the like). I got it for my 12th birthday.

And yet, I haven’t got tired of it. There’s plenty of horrible dated eighties records I have that really do nothing for me now. But Parallel Lines stands up well against the likes of The Killers and Kaiser Chiefs.

It suits my tastes perfectly: new wave/post punk guitars, dynamic stops and starts, organs and synths… The dead pan vocals. But essentially great songs.

I was too young to go and see Blondie the first time around and I’m probably too old this time.

Here’s a bit of trivia, though. In Blondie’s heydey, the band was together for 5 years. Since they reformed for a comeback, they’ve been together just over 10!

How rock and roll is Keith?

Friday, November 16th, 2007

I’d always thought Keith was a seriously unrocknroll name… It’s almost a comedy name. Like Nigel. Or Brian. But then i thought about it and, off the top of my head, came up with these names:

  • Keith Moon (serious drinker, buddy of Oliver Reed and Richard Harris; drummer in The Who)
  • Keith Richards (pickled walnut from some awful sixties band)
  • Keith Emerson (sticks knives in Hammond organs, sets fire to things?)
  • Keith Flint (scary haired firestarting shouter in Prodigy)
  • Keith Levene (PiL guitarist)

Can anyone think of any more?

Cardiacs : time for a new album

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

A terribly underrated band them Cardiacs. Curiously mad: speed, key and time signature changes to make your head roll. Circus freakery, anthems and nursery rhymes.

Punky and noisy enough for me while also being basically prog rock.

If you haven’t heard them already, I demand you check out the free downloads at cardiacs website. Better still, go and get some albums!

Anyway, here’s my moan… it’s years since 1999′s Guns album. I want more!