category: Media » Audio

Nov 2009

Something for the weekend

Something of a departure from the type of music I occasionally post here. I’ve been reading a lot about Brendan Behan lately (though not, I must admit, reading a lot of Behan’s work — which is close to the top of my ‘to do’ pile). Behan was a writer, a drunk, an Irish revolutionary, a convict. And many other things.

His first play was The Quare Fellow, set in Mountjoy Prison in Dublin and inspired by his own time spent there. The play opens with a song… a dirge almost… which has proven both enduring and influential, and has been covered by a large number of artists including U2, Bob Dylan, Cat Power, The Pogues and every single folk band in Ireland.

Exactly which version is the definitive one has, I’m sure, been the subject of many a Guinness-fueled dispute. For me though, it comes down to one of the two versions by The Dubliners. And as much as I love Ronnie Drew’s vocal, it’s the Luke Kelly vocal that I come back to most often.

The Auld Triangle by The Dubliners, with Luke Kelly taking lead

I’m intrigued to note that a collection of Brendan Behan’s aphorisms has been published. It’s out of print apparently, but thankfully Dublin still has a few decent second-hand bookshops.

I have never seen a situation so dismal that a policeman couldn’t make it worse.

The Bible was a consolation to a fellow alone in the old cell. The lovely thin paper with a bit of mattress stuffing in it, if you could get a match, was as good a smoke as I ever tasted.

I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer.

Brendan Behan

1 comment  |  Posted in: Media » Audio, Video

Nov 2009

Something for the weekend

Jane’s Addiction | True Nature
How you treat the weak / Is your true nature calling

Leave a comment  |  Posted in: Media » Audio, Video

May 2009

Some Bowie for the weekend

OK, so the weekend is half done, but it’s a bank holiday over here, so I have an excuse. Anyhoo, I’m still going to post this for your delight and delectation. It’s a Bowie video. A 1997 live performance of ‘The Man Who Sold The World’, reworked radically in a drum-n-bass meets discordant guitar stylee.

The Man Who Sold The World. Live, 1997.

I was listening to some Bowie earlier today. I had him on random play, and at one point African Night Flight found itself shuffled up next to We Prick You. The former is the gloriously weird second track from 1979’s Lodger (it’s one of his best vocal performances, which — given that it’s Bowie we’re talking about — is really saying something). The latter from 1995’s 1.Outside.

It was seamless. And I thought to myself how incredibly fortunate it is that Bowie, against all the odds, got a second wind. As a glance at this page will show, I listen to far more of David Bowie’s music than anyone else’s. Even if you add on David Byrne’s solo stuff, Talking Heads are quite a distant second. And while only lists the stuff I play here on my PC, I’d wager that my mp3 player has an even bigger Bowie-bias.

Sadly though, by the time I discovered Bowie (the mid-80s) he appeared to have passed his peak. Having single-handedly invented half of the sounds being made during the 1980s, he decided to take a mountain of cocaine and rest on his not inconsiderable laurels. The man fell to earth. The singles were still great (Let’s Dance, Loving The Alien, China Girl, This Is Not America, and so on). He hadn’t lost his touch for writing a great song. And that voice… well, so long as he still had that, everyone desperately wanted him to keep making great records. All of which made the sad mediocrity of the albums so much more difficult to take.

And there the story should have ended. Nic Roeg got it right.

Except he didn’t, did he? Bowie should have got fat and complacent. But instead he got creative again. And started doing unexpected things. And despite having spent the eighties lambasting him for his predictability, the music press hated him for it. How dare he not be written-off when they said he was. First came Tin Machine and The Buddha of Suburbia soundtrack. Both of which deserve some serious reappraisal, incidentally. Then Black Tie, White Noise which is no Lodger, but it is an album by someone who gives a shit again. What the hell was he up to?

None of these, though, could prepare anyone for what happened next. He only called up his old mate Eno, and went and made an album that’s just as good as anything he did in the 70s. OK… not just as good, but a truly worthy heir. Which, technically, shouldn’t have been possible. When 1.Outside came out, I felt like he’d realised that there was a whole bunch of us who’d simply been too young first time round. Listen to that album with open ears. Play it loud, give it your full attention and it opens out into something dark and thrilling and genuinely wonderful. It’s not quite Low, but it sits comfortably beside it… wrapping itself around that same corner of your soul that’s never been the same since Warszawa.

Seriously, if — like most people who appreciate genuinely good popular musics — you think Low is an extraordinary album, then do yourself a favour and play A Small Plot of Land (track 4 off 1.Outside). It’s coming from the very same source. Albeit with rather more control and self-referentiality. But I think we can forgive David Bowie the occasional knowing smile.

Most people couldn’t have returned from The Serious Moonlight Tour. But Bowie wandered far further into the wilderness than even that. He went all the way to The Glass Spider and still found his way back. Nobody else could have done that. But, of course, Bowie is the coolest man on the planet (what with being from space, or another dimension, or something), so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised.

In fact, he’s been able to treat the world to another decade of great music. Three of his post-80s albums get regular play on my mp3 player.

And I got to experience it first hand. No, I wasn’t at Hammersmith in July 1973, but I embarked upon an epic winter hitch around the UK in pursuit of the 1.Outside tour (granted the vibe was rather different — more post-apocalyptic industrial decay / less glittery space operatic). But it was utterly incredible. Sure sure, it got a bit psychotic at times, yes that’s true, but it was one of the great defining times of my twenties (a 36-hour hitch in a blizzard with a massive speed comedown… me and Justin, we didn’t have Vietnam, or The Somme, or the beaches at Normandy… we had the Severn View Motorway Services). I may have to post the full story of that hitch one day. It’s an epic voyage into the Heart of Darkness complete with angels, demons and Cliff Fucking Richard.

The above video, so you know, is the version of The Man Who Sold The World played on that tour. Clearly you won’t get the same shivers down the spine that it gives me, but I hope you dig it.

1 comment  |  Posted in: Media » Audio, Video

May 2009

The best thing ever…

… no really. This is what the internet is for. (via)

I know it’s easy to say this now, but I dreamt of a website very much like that a while ago. Absolutely beautiful. Requires speakers, a broadband connection and enough time to truly appreciate where you can take it.

my life’s work, she said, is the impact that this has

4 comments  |  Posted in: Media » Audio, Video

May 2009

Mothership Connection

As an addendum to the last post

Because, quite frankly, one Parliament / Funkadelic video just isn’t enough
HQ and Fullscreen the thang!

UPDATE 24-05-09: As Gyrus points out in the comments to the previous post, these P-Funk videos are but small parts of a larger whole. Check out The Mothership Connection for some amazing music and visuals.

Leave a comment  |  Posted in: Media » Audio, Video

Dec 2008

A couple of videos

I’m still feeling quite blown away by the Damo Suzuki and Makoto Kawabata set the other night, though as I’m seeing Billy Bragg tonight I suspect the radical shift in vibe will put me in a rather different headspace. So while I’m still in that spaced-out groove, I thought I’d put up a couple of videos for you lucky people. First up, something from Can. Trouble is, there’s a real dearth of decent footage of Damo Suzuki and Can out there. It goes without saying that a band this far from the mainstream didn’t make lots of slickly-produced music videos, and the live footage that exists tends to be mostly low quality, both sonically and visually. This might just give you a flavour of what they were about though…

Can | Spoon (live)

Yes, the massive hair wearing a red jump suit is Damo.

And here’s a clip of Acid Mothers Temple playing live. Again, do bear in mind this is just a taster… something to give you an idea of what Makoto Kawabata’s guitar playing (as well as the rest of the band) is all about. If you’ve never been to see anything like this, then I need to emphasise that it’s all about being there. Experiencing it first hand. Anyways, there’s about a minute and a half of silence punctuated by spooky atmospherics. Then, at about 1:40 Makoto kicks in.

Acid Mothers Temple | Unknown track (live)


1 comment  |  Posted in: Media » Audio, Video

Nov 2008

Something for the weekend

From 1986. But frankly, political music doesn’t get much better than this (though the YouTube video’s sound is about a half-second out of sync with the images which is annoying).

The The | Heartland

5 comments  |  Posted in: Media » Audio, Video

Nov 2008

Something for the weekend

From 1997. Sound quality on the video could be better I guess, but it’s still a cracking track.

David Byrne | Dance on Vaseline

3 comments  |  Posted in: Media » Audio, Video

Aug 2008

With a few minutes to spare…

In honour of today’s date, 8-08-08, those of you who also spent the late 80s / early 90s dancing ’til you dropped whilst gurning like a loon in English fields, should be taken right back by this classic…

Ah, those were the days. Now. Anyone got any Veras?

In. Yer. Face!

EDIT: Actually, given what’s currently going on over in China, this would probably have been a more appropriate choice…

One for the chill-out tent, that.

Leave a comment  |  Posted in: Media » Audio, Opinion

Jun 2008

Sharp suit. Sharper moves.

David Byrne and the Balanescu Quartet cover Kraftwerk’s The Model

Leave a comment  |  Posted in: Media » Audio, Video