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Monday, 25 March 2013

My daddy was a punk rocker, but he never hurt nobody

Blimey. I almost self-combusted reading the Guardian's account of the funeral of the Great Train Robber Bruce Reynolds last week. It had everything. Historic London locations, "faces" from London's gangster past, famous punk-era rock 'n' rollers, less famous post-punk rock 'n' rollers, film stars, etc, etc. It was a right old gallimaufry.

So, at the funeral for the "mastermind" of Britain's most famous organised criminal enterprise, you had (in no particular order) Mick Jones, Ronnie Biggs, David Thewlis, Freddie "Brown Bread Fred" Foreman, Ray Winstone, Chris Lambrianou, John Cooper Clarke and, no doubt, the entire cast of The Rat Pack stage show and representatives of the staff of Wormwood Scrubs. (I made those last two up).

With Reynolds’ son Nick being a well-established London-scene musician (Alabama 3), I guess some of this was unavoidable. Nevertheless, a heady stew. The piece in the paper was illustrated by a photo of a very frail-looking Ronnie Biggs in a wheelchair holding up two fingers (presumably to press photographers). What a strange sight. Quite a bit of pathos to it, but some lingering charge as well. This crumpled old man still acting the tough old crim, but perhaps self-consciously hamming it up for the cameras, playing the “Ronnie” part for real before Ray Winstone takes the role in the definitive film version in oh, just a few years’ time …

Mr Biggs was of course doing time before he sold his soul to punk (and the tabloids), and here it seems as if time has been compressed, with everything now squeezed into one weird, supercharged moment. There’s John Cooper Clarke with his mid-60s Dylan look chatting to Chris Lambrianou, a sharp-dressing sixties gangster who famously disposed of the body of the murdered Jack “The Hat” McVitie on the Krays’ orders.

Actually, as I’m reading all this, sitting on the upper-deck of a slow-moving bus going down Cambridge Heath Road in Hackney in east London, the overcrowded omnibus goes over the Regent’s Canal where the McVitie murder weapon was disposed of in 1967. And as Iain Sinclair’s account of the Lambrianou/McVitie episode reminds us, the disposal of McVitie’s body involved navigating an east London route beginning in Evering Road in Clapton, along Lower Clapton Road (past my flat, gulp), on through Narrow Way, Mare Street, Cambridge Heath Road and on southward. Yes, that’s Evering Road, where another possible murderer, Sid Vicious, used to live.

No, stop it! Enough of this time-slippery. Unless there are verifiable reports that Malcolm McLaren’s ghost was seen to pay homage to Bruce Reynolds, hovering above the entrance to St Bartholomew’s, then I think we should call last orders on all this geezer mythologising. Punks never pulled off major mail-train heists and the Krays liked Frank Sinatra and July Garland, not the Rolling Stones or the Velvet Underground. 

Ever get the feeling you've been overdetermined ...?

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Only the sun and the sun, DubPod #1 (Mar 2013)

Dem never loved poor Marcus, did they?

As I've implied before, the irrational dislike people seem to have for reggae only makes me like it more. It is, to coin a phrase, music for life (just like the blues, punk, acid house etc). You never hear much on the radio, it's never been "mainstream" (discounting the Island-ised pop-reggae of post-fame Bob Marley), but it tears apart most popular music. It's tuff!

Anyway, having spellbound the masses with my miscellaneous monthly offerings, they've been beating down my door demanding that I do it all over again, only dubwise. Pah. But, y'know, I hate to disappoint an expectant audience. Jah Shaka played it from his massive stack systems, I bring these righteous tunes from the humble surroundings of the Niluccio on noise website.

1: Mikey Dread, Saturday night style dub
2: Cornell Campbell, Money
3: Keith Hudson, War war
4: Prince Irey, Freedom of speech
5: Lee Perry, Perry in dub
6: My $50,000-a-year politician
7: King Tubby, Herb dub-collie dub
8: Niney & The Observers, Mud and water
9: Scientist, Round 7
10: Ras Menelik, Chant down apartheid
11: King Tubby, Dub the right way
12: The sun
13: I Roy, Screw face
14: Niney The Observer, False start dub
15: Full Experience, Can't see you
16: Sir Collins & His Mind Sweeper, New Cross fire
17: Do you feel lucky punk?
18: The Upsetters, Clint Eastwood
19: Dillinger, Fernando Sanchez
20: Herbert Chang, Coming of Jah version
21: Moodie, Zimbabwe dub
22: Planning for failure
23: Tommy McCook, Swing and dine shuffle
24: The Revolutionaries, Natty dread dub
25: Queen Tiney & The Aggrovators, Natty dread time dub
26: Yellowman, For your eyes only

So, dread operator. Put down that blurb about lacklustre Latitude, ditch the bothersome Bloc Party CD. Instead, put on your red, gold and green slippers and ... let these sounds invade your computer ...

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Isolated incident, Podcast #91 (Feb 2013)

As is my publicity-shunning wont, here's another podcast delivered in the darkness hours of early morning. It's better that way really. These tunes are so unworldly that, Dracula-like, exposure to the merest ray of sunshine could be fatal ... turning them into daytime fodder for 6 Music (gulp).

So, sink your fangs into Podcast #91, Isolated incident. Slurp, slurp ...

1: Useless Eaters, Malfunction
2: Yellow Chair, Early life on Skunk Island
3: Debmaster, Hart l'aumônier
4: Laurel Aitken, Bartender
5: An isolated incident
6: Dead End Job, S.I.D.
7: Louis Killen, The banks of sweet primeroses
8: Omnivore, Pink electric
9: My with dog
10: Mutwawa, Cyborg sniper
11: Keith Top Of the Pops, Two of The Beatles are dead (Windmill, 20/2/13)
12: Orch. Vijana Jazz, Penzi lamea penye penzi
13: abc100, Jina and Mike
14: Collins Music Wheeler, Collins blood
15: RSS Boys, Mooroomooboo hds off
16: He Is Ledger, ? (Hafermarkt, Flensburg 18/2/13)
17: One Happy Island, White collar disco
18: Status Quo, Let’s ride
19: The Dead Hookers, Technical mortal
20: Art Farmer Quartet, I’m a fool to want you
21: Dot Dash, Dots
22: WSicko, Forgotten memories
23: Martha, ? (Missing, Birmingham 23/2/13)
24: Ryoma Maeda, Girls sumo ending theme
25: Southern Nights, Pop 3
26: Ask yourself a question
27: The Hookworms, ? (The Red Gallery, London 21/2/13)
28: Cheap Clone, Trade my records for you
29: Eek-A-Mouse, Noah’s ark

Sunday, 3 March 2013

We're really stoked to bring you this post on music PR language

If you ask me (and I'm the only one here so ... well you kind of have to), so if you ask me ... entertainment industry PR-speak is possibly the most debased form of language known to wo/man. People are desperately trying to get you to attend their particular music event or buy their new record - and they're determined to scrape the bottom of the barrel a little harder than everyone else. You know the gibberish they come out with. Stuff like:

"we're really stoked by" (insert title of new product) = we're pretending to be excited by

"we're really psyched by" = [ditto]

"here at (insert name) towers" = a small company that affects to be very different to a large corporation but isn't

"those nice people at" (insert record label) = a business we receive product from

"sick" = in our opinion good, but we have to say sick to make our questionable taste appear up-to-date

"(insert record company) let us take a sneak preview of" = this was all carefully PR-d but we're trying to create the impression that it isn't and that you're getting some kind of unique access

"do yourself a favour, get down to" (add event) = we're desperate for people to attend

"you lucky people" = customers/potential customers

And so on. The people who churn this nonsense out either don't care whether you might find it authentic or (like me) an utter turn-off, or they have such tin ears they don't catch the strain of phoniness it contains. To be honest I find it difficult to even read a lot of music blogs and newspaper reviewers because of the dead-hand of PR puffery. (As such, there's probably a lot more of this pseudo-writing out there ...). In addition to the sheer awfulness of the prose, you just know the appraisals are bogus. The two are surely related. Anyone who writes this way simply can't be a decent judge of music. 

So no and thrice times no! It just won't do. Granted, no critical writing on music (or anything else) can be absolutely pure, an unsullied output free of the taint of prior contacts and outside influence. Much less the music biz. But still, what we're being subjected to just insults our intelligence. The answer, of course, is just to ignore it all and move over to something better. To what? Well there's always Niluccio on noise (no, only joking). No, check out people like Byron Coley at The Wire, in particular his Size Matters column. Now there's a person whose music writing is so enjoyable to read I don't even care if it's the result of PR skullduggery ....