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Give me music and give me noise....

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Thee swirls

Sound swirls by Niluccio
One from the archive: Thee Vicars, turning music into light, in Paris in November 2009. Fantastique!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Tickets please! The fetish and the fury ...

Why do people keep the tickets and other paraphernalia from the gigs they attend? Why? I said WHY?

OK, it's sort of obvious. It's a memento. A physical reminder. Memorabilia. Something that gives them a little Proustian tingle every time they come across the creased, yellowing, dusty bit of paper in future years. The same with band set-lists, or drumsticks and other nicknacks thrown into the crowd by the type of bands that like do to this (supremely corny) kind of thing. 

Hmm. With the passage of time I don't deny that some of these artefacts can assume a genuine significance. Over the years I've popped into the odd exhibition of old black-and-white gig posters, flyers, fanzines, concert tickets, lapel badges etc. Put together like this they can obviously evoke a "scene" and provide some of the "texture" to sit alongside the inevitable memoirs, coffee-table books and the like. A good example might be the (often amazing) futuristic flyers for raves and house nights in the late 80s and early 90s. It wasn't something I was particularly involved with, but even the few I caught sight of at the time looked pretty impressive. 

But .... I dunno. While I quite admire the fact that some people meticulously collect this stuff, I'm still dubious. It's not that I have a dunderheaded "it's not rock and roll" approach to the collector-hoarder instinct. No, the trainspotterishly non-macho aspect to this is almost appealing. 

Actually, I think it's the fetishisation of the "marginalia" of music that I find off-putting. It's not dissimilar to those people who used to come into a record shop I worked at in the mid-1980s desperately trying to buy yet more limited-edition picture-disc versions of the latest Gary Numan song that they already owned six versions of. The old concert tickets kept in a box might be moderately interesting as artefacts in themselves, but to most people they're more importantly the evidence that they were there. "Look, look! This is from that The Jesus And Mary Chain gig in 1986 I told you about. Cool, eh?" They're the pieces of the original cross. The link to their youth, their scene, their time.

I personally never got into the ticket-keeping habit, and neither have I bothered with almost any of the other "collectables". It's depressing to see club promoters now flogging £100 prints of their old flyers, but the fan-as-collector seems to me a slightly helpless figure, one to be pitied rather than scorned. Besotted by the commodification of the music industry as it goes about the business of promoting and selling experiences, the punter who religiously keeps their tickets is ... well, a consumer of music rather than someone who enjoys it. Oh, the fetish and the fury.

So, having dealt with that little matter, all that remains is to explain this ....

Discovered this afternoon in an old law textbook of mine (K Smith & DJ Keenan's English Law, sixth edition, 1980, to be precise), it's pretty much the closest I've come to the fetish-collector habit I've been banging on about here. What a curious document, eh? A time-tear. An accidental glimpse of gigs in a midlands city from that golden year 1985. So never mind how good New Model Army were that night. The real issue is - I bet you wish you had this fantastic flyer, don't you? Yours for £75 ono ....

Friday, 14 June 2013

His hearing has failed, Dubcast #2 (June 2013)

Don't know about you, but to me it sometimes feels like we're living in the end times. That people are back on Saint George's Hill, growing carrots and waiting for the musket men to open fire.

Know what I mean? Not sure if Winstanley listened to much reggae, but if he'd dragged a few speakers up to his commune he might well have liked what he heard.

Yeah brother, pure righteousness! The only thing - he might have been tempted to place his ear right up against the bass. To really feel that riddim of Jah! Then his fellow communists would have had to explain to the Roundheads that he wasn't ignoring them. It's just, well, his hearing has failed ... 

1: Tommy McCook & The Upsetters, Cloak and dagger 
2: In Crowd, Milk and honey 
3: John Holt, Police in helicopter 
4: Prince Jammy, Something special 
5: His hearing has failed 
6: Keith Hudson, Black right 
7: Michigan & Smiley, Rub a dub style 
8: Augustus Pablo, New style 
9: Sly Dunbar, Cocaine 
10: Some skirmishes 
11: Big Dread, Fire 
12: The Overtakers, I don't want to cry 
13: Dennis Alcapone, Alpha and omega 
14: Jah Woosh, Judy drowned 
15: Harmony of collective murder

16: Studio One Musicians, Sky rhythm 
17: Holness, Here I come dub 
18: Mikey Dread, World war III 
19: Wayne Wade, Pretty face 
20: Carl Bryan, Cover charge 
21: Tablets of linear B 
22: Scratch & The Upsetters, Underground 
23: The Aggrovators, Kaya dub 
24: Eek-A-Mouse, Anarexol (12") 
25: The Ethiopians, Train to glory

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Person like that, Podcast #94 (May 2013)

There's always one, isn't there? Spoiling it for everyone else. With their insufferable cheeriness, their bonhomie, their sickening good humour. Eugh. Instead, let's hear for the misanthropes. The bad-hearted. The ne'er-do-wells, and the ne'er-want-to-do-wells. 

That's it! You've stopped smiling now, haven't you? That's right. Because it's time for ... Podcast #94 (note: I've now taken this down but I'm happy to re-upload it on request. They're all great tunes so it's obviously worth it!)

1: Lantriperc, Lantriperc is not a human
2: Bobby T & The Slackers, Young love
3: Part of the battlefield
4: Left For Dead, Kept in line
5: El Hadj Faye, Nangnou diem
6: Squeeze The Gs, Better psychologist
7: Fire Facts/Junior Delgardo, Judgment day (version)
8: Teeth, Confusion
9: Spook Houses, Family plot
10: We Are The Physics, Subject v object (Windmill, London 16/5/13)
11: Royal Band De Thies, Guene-gui dek (extract)
12: Liars, I saw you from the lifeboat
13: Lot Lizard, Puddle
14: Joe Gibbs, Blank label dub
15: Open Work Stocking, Mirrors
16: Palm Reader, ? (Old Blue Last, London 13/5/13)
17: To raise children
18: Told Slant, I am not
19: Xenodrome, The turn of blasphemy
20: Kokomo Arnold, Policy wheel blues
21: KXNG†UT, Rainy devil †.雨の悪魔
22: Roseanne Barr, You make me die
23: JR Kelly, Black
24: A person like that
25: Throwing Up, ? (Old Blue Last, London 30/5/13)
26: Lot Lizards, My gun
27: The Love Below, Let them eat shit
28: John Matthias & Nick Ryan, Cortical songs (second movement)
29: Danse Society, Come inside (Chameleon, Nottingham 5/5/13)
30: LeGaScred, Anticythère
31: Kekuatan Super, Janji manis

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Stone Roses: pull the plug on the hype

Here's a genuine quote:  "The Stone Roses, whose 1989 eponymous debut is widely regarded in the UK music press as one of the best British albums ever" (BBC News Online, 31 May 2013).

I kid you not. Widely regarded. If I had any sense I'd probably walk discreetly by on the other side of the road over this. Don't get involved ...

But, c'mon. What are they on about! Too much stuff like this will doubtless reduce your critical faculties to mush and you'll begin to half believe these pronouncements. ("Hmm. That I Am The Resurrection track. Quite good, that was ..."). This trash must not pass!

I won't actually dignify the remark by going through a roll call of LPs that are infinitely better than Ian Brown and his mates' so-so album. Almost anything by The Fall, New Order, The Country Teasers, Billy Childish, Felt, Clinic, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci ... [feel free to add in further artists of your own here] ... leaves the SR's pedestrian effort looking like the middle-of-the-road album that it is.

But no, that's to begin to take the comment seriously. The real point is how do these preposterous ideas ever gain currency? I guess we have to partly blame the infantilisation brought about by things like NME Top Ten Best Ever Albums lists.

As it happens I was lucky/unlucky enough to be living in Manchester during the whole misbegotten Madchester affair and, apart from one or two decent-ish rave-y nights in the Hacienda, I look back on that Mani/Wrote For Luck/New Fads episode with ... oh, almost zero affection. Laddish and throwbackish, it deserves to be quietly forgotten, not hauled back into view with a - rather desperate - new round of hype over media darlings The Stone Roses. Why, ahem, resurrect them now? It's just more evidence of the mainstream's inability to look at anything new.

The BBC and a few critics might adore this bafflingly overrated band but, like Ian Brown at the end of that short-lived Stone Roses appearance on The Late Show in 1989, I say: amateurs!