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Archive for the ‘music’ Category

My poor neglected blog. It’s been a while, but something happens that makes you want to write something beyond my usual Facebook status or 140 twitter characters.

I was having a pretty crappy Monday. It was my first day back after two weeks off. The clocks had gone forward and I wanted my hour back, dammit! I was having my “quick read” of the internet to prime me before I faced the email mountain and the pile of crap that was about to face me.

Then it popped up on my twitter feed.

The Bluetones are disbanding.

It was awful. I said on twitter that I genuinely hadn’t been this upset since Robbie left Take That. I think some people thought I was joking, but it’s true. Never has a musical announcement even made me feel slightly upset since then and before Monday.

It took me a while to realise why I was so upset. I put a lot of it down to Monday blues – a compound effect of all the other crap that had flung itself my way that day, but the feeling of sadness lasted through until today.  Then I realised.

I always thought they’d be there, because they always have been.

My brother bought me Expecting to Fly for my 16th birthday. I’d given him a choice of albums to get and he chose that one.  I can’t remember what the other choices were, I wish I could because it would be an interesting aside that would add texture and colour to this.  I still have the tape. The front was embossed with a sticker that’s nearly worn away. The back half of the tape is missing. It’s cracked but the jagged edges are smooth.

That tape left home with me. It was joined by another album that was the soundtrack to my gap year; Return to the Last Chance Saloon. Another tape that I still have.  This was followed by Science and Nature, which came out bang in the middle of my time at university, and the tour that accompanied it was the first time I’d seen them live and one of the best nights of my student life. The albums that followed are not so marked by eras in my life but are still memorable to me. I have a Bluetones song for every mood, every event and every eventuality.

The Bluetones pop in and out of my life. It’s unfortunate that this happened at a time when they were very much in. I saw them in November and giggled and waved. I saw Mark Morriss on his own in January of this year. I met him and I was charmed. He was a lot taller than I thought he would be too.

I posted on Facebook that night that all I wanted to do was build a time machine and go back and tell my 16 year old self that I would meet a Bluetone one day. I’d never have believed me, but I’d have had a lot of fun winding me up about it.

All I can do is publicly say thank you and all the best for the future.  Oh, and see you in September!

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Flaming Heck…

PICT0068I was debating with a friend of mine about who was the best live band in the world.  My answer was, without a shadow of a doubt, the Flaming Lips.

 

You see, for me, live music is not just about the technicality of playing.  Some artists are technically perfect on stage, but where is the fun in that?  It’s not just about audience interaction or pyrotechnics either, because that’s no good without decent songs.

 

For me, the Flaming Lips are the perfect live experience.  I went to see them at East London’s glorious pastel painted, Art Deco music and cage fighting venue on Tuesday this week.  It was an all singing, all dancing spectacular.  Lovely Silver Fox Wayne Coyne is a wonderful, engaging frontman.  We had singalongs, we had chats, we had him sitting on the shoulders of a gorilla monster.  We saw up his nose with his on-microphone camera, we held up our fists for peace, he walked across us in a giant plastic ball.  We were sprayed with confetti, we were covered in smoke and when it was all over, we frolicked in spilled confetti as it was being blown from the stage by an industrial leaf blower.

 

From the emergence of the band from a giant on-screen flashing lady-part to the final bars of ‘Do You Realize?’, to which everyone cheerfully sang about everyone they know dying some day, a great time was had by all.

 

Granted, the material on their new album ‘Embryonic’ is not as accessible as some of their other stuff, descending sometimes into overblown proggy solos, but it was delivered by a band so charming  and obviously pleased to be there that it doesn’t really matter.  Even the poor security guards, who had spent their night being blown at by smoke machines, and batting aside balloons, were smiling by the end of the night.

 

Balloons went in people’s faces, drinks were spilled and feet stepped on, but there was no malice or fighting.  We were having too much fun for that.

 

“You may have been told by other bands that you have been to see that they have the best audiences in the world” Said Coyne as he was closing  “but they’re lying, we have the best audiences”

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Erm…2

Sorry, I’ve been a bit neglectful of late, inspiration hasn’t really hit me over the last week or so.  This is a combination of being ill and really busy, so no big idea or discussion, just what I have been reading, watching and listening to over the last few days…

Books – Just finished “One Good Turn” by Kate Atkinson.  A tale about a group of seemingly unconnected people brought together by a seemingly random road rage incident.  Oh for just a teeny, tiny sliver of that woman’s talent…

Music- Haven’t really had the Mp3 player out for a bit because I’ve just discovered Absolute Radio.  It’s a great mix of music, intelligent DJ’s and good guests.  Plays the good stuff without the seemingly constant Snow Patrol/Coldplay loop on Xfm.  Nice.

Have also purchased the new Jamie T and Hockey albums, not had a chance to listen yet, but I’m really looking forward to it.

Television – Last week was a jamboree for Hollyoaks fans (I’m back on the bandwagon, sorry).  We had 5 episodes of Hollyoaks Later, which is always a bit hit and miss, but seemed a bit better this time.  By far the most affecting story was that of Sarah, Zoe and Lydia, culminating in the very crunchy and bloody death of Sarah following a bout of parachute tampering, which was surprisingly emotional, even though it marked the end of one of the most annoying characters in Hollyoaks history.  On the end of this was – Hollyoaks – The Good, the Bad and the Gorgeous which was the most wonderful splicing of bizarre movie parodies and clips from Hollyoaks past.  I absolutely loved it.

Movies – Away We Go – Sam Mendes’ latest film, about a couple who are expecting a child who go and visit various friends and relatives to see where they would like to bring up their child.  Funny, lovely, sad and beautiful.  Please go and see it.  I also happened upon Akeelah and the Bee on Film Four during my couch bound illness period.   I was really surprised at the ending, which I thought I had figured out from about half way through.

Anyway, thats it.  Promise something funny or more interesting when the idea hits me.

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I absolutely love Jarvis Cocker, and have ever since I first heard Pulp as an outsider teenager, when the song Mis-Shapes captured my imagination and showed me the way.  I have seen Pulp live once, and Jarvis live earlier this year.  I was in the front row for both and can honestly say that both nights were amongst the most special in my life.  My musical tastes have leaned towards the dramatic ever since.

Like a lot of people, I started with Different Class, then worked backwards.  I’m so glad I did. I think that everyone looked back to His ‘n’ Hers, which is full of absolute stormers.

I would urge all of you who stopped there to go back a little further though.  Pulp were on the go for 15 years before they found fame, and finding the depths of their back catalogue is like being given a gift that you were not expecting.  Here is a guide to my favourite tracks on the oldies.

Intro – The Gift Recordings

Razamatazz could have fit nicely on either Different Class or His n Hers.  A cautionary tale to a dirty stop out, reminiscent of Lipgloss and I like to think about the same person.  It’s the acerbic lyrics that are my favourite part of this song, especially “am I talking too fast? Or are you just playing dumb? If you want I can write it down”

OU starts with a disco bleep, then the organ comes in, then the whole song becomes more frantic as it tells the story of trying to catch up with a girl who is leaving town.  Also has quite a substantial Stylaphone solo, which is always a winner.

Sheffield Sex City taught me everything I know about the geography of Sheffield, and is quite probably the sleaziest song ever written.  Basically about wandering the streets of Sheffield trying to get laid, it contains a monologue about contagious shagging in a block of flats and lots of trademark Jarvis groans.  One for the headphones.

Inside Susan –  A Story In 3 Parts Contains 3 songs centred around the eponymous Susan: Stacks, which is all happy handclaps about a young teenager trying to catch the eye of the boys; Inside Susan, a monologue over disco beats about the musings of Susan as an older teenager; and 59 Lyndhurst Grove which follows Susan as an adult trapped in an unhappy marriage, which is almost funerial in tone and has amongst the most quotable lyrics anywhere.

Seperations

Countdown is full of squelchy beats, which as far as I can tell is not about the TV programme, but impending adulthood and adult responsibilities with a singalong chorus.

My Legendary Girlfriend probably marks one of the weirder moments in Pulp history.  It has an almost military beat, then spoken verses and a cracking chorus.

Masters of the Universe

This album is extremely weird.  Not the weirdest, that’s yet to come, but pretty odd.

Little Girl With Blue Eyes is on the more croony side, and is an extremely painful and bitter song made to sound cheerful with sunny backing vocals.  I can’t illustrate it much better that this lyric “Little girl with blue eyes there’s a hole in your heart/and one between your legs/You’ll never have to wonder which one he’s gonna fill/In spite of what he says”

Dogs are Everywhere is another with embittered lyrics, delivered angrily.  It’s on the croony side too.

97 Lovers was probably the most kitchen-sinky of Pulp songs, before that really became their thing.  A peek behind the bedroom curtains.

Freaks

I promised you the weirdest album, and this is it by far.  Containing songs about Anorexia, circus freaks, submissive and obsessive lovers and being chased after a night out, it certainly lives up to its name.  Here are some of my favourites.

I Want You starts out about a song about desire for a particular woman, that becomes darker and darker.  It starts out about being too shy to talk to her and ends up about “still I’ll kill you in the end”  juxtaposed with plinky disco beats.  A gem.

Being Followed Home is absolutely epic.  A sprawling tale about being followed home (obviously) that changes pace and tone several times.  I love it.

Don’t You Know is another plinky one, with lots of crooning again.  Pulp at their most dramatic.

It

The first album, and unsurprisingly the furthest removed from what they did at the end.  It is almost devoid of the disco beats, more on the acoustic side, but is still marked by the amazing lyrics.

My Lighthouse is a song about love, and lighthouses.  I know it’s strange and he even says so himself.

Wishful Thinking is a beautiful love song.  It’s piano based and extremely dramatic.  You must know by the end of this post that I love drama! More about being given a chance to love than love itself, it’s painful at times but definitely worth it.

So there you go.  I hope I have managed to convert at least one reader, or at least have inspired you to try…


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