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Give me music and give me noise....

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Rock royalty is abolished. I hereby declare a people’s music revolution

Prince is dead. David Bowie is dead. RIP Prince, RIP David Bowie.

It’s a shame, but there you are. People die. Popular musicians die. Even “god-like geniuses” die. Die die die, human scum …

But what’s this? Prince’s death is the lead item on the BBC radio news at 8pm on the night of his announced death? The lead item?  The demise of the singer of Purple Rain and other tiresome songs from the 1980s is the most significant piece of news in the entire world that evening? (Sorry Prince fans but I could never stand all that Raspberry Beret stuff. Nope, I never understood the cult of Rogers Nelson and his supposed Revolution).

Priorities, eh? When Bowie’s death was announced on that long-ago Monday morning I was listening to the Today programme when the presenter cut short an interview with an aid worker from Turkey who’d been talking about Syrians fleeing from Russian air strikes because … “there’s extraordinary news coming out of New York concerning the singer David Bowie”. Never mind dead Syrians, we’ve got a dead international pop star on our hands …

No, no, NO!, I hear you shriek in your best Prince falsetto. That’s not it at all Niluccio, you fatuous idiot. They’re BOTH important, though important in different ways. There’s nothing wrong with reporting the death of these iconic musicians. They changed lives. Millions of lives. Stop being so superior.

Hmm, now I’m chastened. I should just shut up. Bowie was fabulous. Everyone loved him. Prince was amazing. (Nearly) everyone loved him. What a singer. What a guitarist. What a dancer. What a talent.

Except …well, I don’t share the reverence for either of these (or for other 2016 casualties like Lemmy or Maurice White for that matter). Whisper it here, but I think both Bowie and Prince were hugely overrated. While they certainly did interesting things in terms of image cultivation, I don’t think they compare with less-idolised twentieth-century musicians (Miles Davis, Lee Perry, James Brown, Fats Waller, John Lee Hooker, Captain Beefheart, Reed and Cale, etc etc).

There, I’ve said it. So impale me on a jagged RCA gold disc and throw me to the hyenas of the music press. This is all death-defying heresy and idiocy. A crime against music. I should probably shut up before the Ziggy lynch-mobs come for me or the Prince hells angels on their big Honda motorbikes roll up outside my flat.

Nothing compares 2 over-the-top media coverage of dead pop stars

Funnily enough though, apart from the estimable Kiss and Nothing Compares 2 U (my own Prince faves), I’ve a reason to be grateful to Prince after all. His death came during a day of utterly soul-destroying media coverage of the Queen’s 90th birthday. While I think the media then went overboard with Prince coverage instead, there was at least a pleasant irony in the displacement of the Queen by a certain uppity Prince. Roll on the abolition of royalty altogether though. And that means rock royalty as well …

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Led Zep go shopping

Only in SOHO, New York ...

Brace yourself: here's the worst reggae collection of all time

I've previously railed against meagre music selections on long-haul flights, and here I am again with another thrilling instalment.

On the one hand it obviously doesn't matter in the slightest. Anyone with even a passing interest in music is probably going to have a few tunes on their phone or whatever, so why bother complaining? True. But then again ...

Given that big airline companies go to the trouble of serving up music on these flights (presumably because their market research shows a demand), it's only right that I have a go at criticising their efforts. Right?

Anyway, as we begin our descent into New York City and the captain asks that we refrain from any further walking in the cabin aisle, I want to ask: what the hell is this nonsense I'm currently listening to courtesy of Delta Airlines? The nonsense in question is a compilation called Reggae World. Here's what's on it:

1: Althea and Donna, Uptown Top Ranking (Extended Version)
2: Bryan Art, Rock And Come In
3: The Orb, Fussball
4: The Skatalites, Ska Ba
5: Adrian Sherwood, Trapped Here
6: Soundsci, Rastaman
7: Clinton Fearon, On The Other Side
8: Tessanne Chin, Firework
9: Dub Trio, Screaming At The Sea
10: Earl Sixteen, Trials And Crosses

And that's it. Yep, a whole ten songs are on offer (they really searched high and low for the very best reggae tunes all around the world there, didn't they?). Meanwhile, what tiresome dross is this anyway? Leaving aside Althea and Donna's excellent Uptown Top Ranking (which presumably only got selected because it was a big crossover pop hit in the UK charts in 1978) the remainder are ... either terrible, or just mediocre.

Well no, the Earl Sixteen is a reasonable effort (a mid-tempo vocal skank with some quirky whistle-like sound-effects and a creakily experimental feel to its latter stages), but nothing very mind-blowing. But bloody hell, the rest. Half of them aren't even vaguely reggae songs at all. The Orb? The Tessanne Chin offering? - it's some bog-standard, big-voiced pop-soul "anthem" thing. The Skatalites tune is a Mexican mariachi effort played over a ska shuffle (vaguely interesting perhaps). I could go on ...

All in all this is possibly one of the worst faux-reggae collections ever cobbled together. It's insultingly short and consists mostly of plodding non-entities. Weirdly enough, it actually appears in Delta's genre sections as "Caribbean", like they couldn't even bring themselves to use the word reggae. And needless to say, there isn't anything else whatsoever in this so-called Caribbean section. We're dealing with the most token of token offerings here.

To cap it all, dear reader, I want you to know that the Delta player thing has a ridiculously low volume setting. Even at full blast you can barely hear the tinny-sounding stuff you've foolishly tried to listen to (a blessing in disguise it turns out).

No, I think it's time to switch off, stow away my table, and BRACE BRACE BRACE ...

Thursday, 7 April 2016

I just want you to think, Podcast #128 (Mar 2016)

Great excitement on Twitter this week, as people revelled in the mock-confessional #indieamnesty jokey admissions thread. Loads of fun, o'course. Well, for five or six minutes maybe.

No, I haven't got anything against people joking about their teenage infatuation with Ash or the Strokes, and actually Fred Macpherson does a decent job of seeing the discussion as a backhanded tribute to the underrated mid-noughties scene centred around bands like Neil's Children and the Rakes. But, er, it's ... weak stuff in the end. Quarter funny jokes about mediocre bands. (Or quarter funny jokes about bands that were sometimes quite good, but got burnt by the hype of Britpop or the annihilating venality of the music industry).

Oh what a tangled (discussion) thread we weave. Nah mate. I urge you to put aside childish things and ... get serious. What I want you to do is ... think. Forget Jarvis, Liam and Damon. I just want you to think ...

1: Interstitional Praxis, Elsaf rendeg
2: Adrianna Krikl, Sunrises
3: Lucha Eterna, Walter Mercado
4: Dignan Porch, ? (Victoria, London 31/3/16)
5: Prizium, Parameter
6: I just want you to think
7: Hissing Pallas, Last defender
8: Rotten Bliss, ? (Windmill, London 24/3/16)
9: Raul Diaz Palomar, 1607
10: Luciermaga, Behold yourself
11: Unidentified birdsong (Dalston, London 23/3/16)
12: The Room, New dreams for old
13: Drugs Made Me Smarter, Peppermint coffee
14: Drinks, Spilt the beans
15: Birdskulls, ? (Victoria, London 21/3/16)
16: Night Flowers, Sleep (Saif Mode remix)
17: Somewhere very relaxing
18: Nodus1, Desolate distortion blues
19: Windmill, An ordinary man
20: Night School, Night
21: Little Death Machine, ? (Windmill, London 24/3/16)
22: Spandril, Pinch
23: gunctrl, Superfluous hardware
24: Three Mustapha Three, Awara hoon
25: niteffect, Lights off
26: Adam Stafford, Atheist money
27: Mularas Astatki & His Ethiopian Quartet, Shagu
28: Ron & Natas, Backyard mini-ramp