Music news and reviews, music videos and tittle tattle, with a lingering look at the past from Anorak. A source for rock, pop, album and live music, new releases, artist interviews and features.
THERE’S been much chatter about Apple’s move to give away U2′s new album Songs of Innocence to 500 million iTunes customers in 119 countries to coincide with its iPhone 6 and Watch launch.
U2′s singer Bono (Mr G21) opined:
“People who haven’t heard our music, or weren’t remotely interested, might play us for the first time because we’re in their library,”
IN September 1994, a reel-to-reel tape emerged and was put up for auction. Sotheby’s were all over it because this wasn’t any old recording they had on their hands.
What had arrived was a reel to reel tape of The Quarry Men appearing at St Peter’s Parish Church garden party Liverpool in July, 1957.
The Quarry Men would of course, turn into The Beatles, who are still the biggest band in the whole wide world. The tape went for what is a reasonably low price of £69,000. That wouldn’t buy one leg of a Champion’s League footballer in 2014.
So with that, we got to thinking about famous rock stars, pop singers and rappers before they were famous. Of course, there’s a lot of them who were on television and there’s yearbook photos of just about every celebrity online, but we wanted to look at the music they were making and the evidence of it.
Pull up a chair, remove the wax from your ear and let’s get stuck into rock’s flipside.
THIS week, in ’65, The Rolling Stones crash-landed at the top of the pop charts with a song that would become the band’s signature tune.
(‘I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ gave the group their 4th no.1 single in the UK, which Keith Richards came up with while in Florida. He recorded a rough demo of the riff in a hotel room. Famously, he knocked the riff out into a tape and then fell asleep.
The song started life as two minutes of acoustic fumblings and and “then me snoring for the next forty minutes.”
One of the main ingredients that made the song so memorable was the Gibson Maestro Fuzz Pedal. That FZZZZing, BZZZZZing noise would become one of the hallmarks of ’60s beat music and the Stones taking it to the toppermost of the poppermost only ensured that everyone was going to jump on the sound.
BRITISH soul music is in a very, very good place at the moment and one of the leading lights of the scene is the wonderful Sam Smith, who has just announced a big ol’ UK tour for Spring 2015.
Smith just reached number one in the album charts and is currently being wooed by America, which will either make him or break him into a puddle of nervous breakdown.
Of course, Sam Smith isn’t the first soul singer Britain has produced, but his success is worth looking back at some of Blighty’s finest balladeers and belters.
Britain has a much richer seam of soul music (and blue-eyed soul) than you think. Of course, Adele conquered the entire world and Beverley Knight has stuck it out for years.
Let’s have a look at some of the best.
The current champion of Britsoul, Sam Smith, who has cut a fine furrow himself, along with making some great songs with Disclosure and Chic’s Nile Rodgers.
If there was a title for the greatest British soul singer of all time, Amy Winehouse would absolutely be in with a shout. Dead too young, but with a couple of killer albums released in her lifetime, making the rest of pop immediately up its game.
MNEK has gone from writing for others to making a go of it himself and, by God, we’ve needed him. Mixing ’90s R&B sensibilities with modern pop and dance music, he’s creating some of the best music in the world right now and if we don’t make a megastar out of him, we frankly don’t deserve the ears on our heads and the ass in our pants.
Cymande are an overlooked London funk outfit from the ’70s who ended up being sampled by De La Soul, thereby giving salivating record collectors and sample hunters a second stab at hearing their terrific music.
Few could argue that Britain has produced a better soul artist than Dusty Springfield. No-one channelled the feeling of a song quite like her and that remarkable, unique voice of hers is one that’ll never be copied.
You may remember Estelle’s ‘American Boy’, which featured a Kanye West verse, but there’s more to her than that one big smash. That said, if you’re going to go global with a record, ‘American Boy’ isn’t a bad one at all.
The critics favourite, Laura Mvula has melted the hearts of everyone with her modern-take on soul. She’s a magnificent artist and, as good as her work is, you get the impression she’s not yet released her best.
London’s R&B champion, Angel, has all the ingredients to be a superstar, so fans of his are enjoying him up close and personal before he ends up vanishing behind the velvet curtain of the VIP section.
Courtney Bennett is one of the most promising singers in Britain right now. She’s put out loads of great songs and was spotted by Ryan Leslie to sing on his ‘Black Mozart’ LP. One of the future, for sure.
Swedish-born, but British raised, Fatima has been making some very interesting and original soul music (‘Circle’ is well worth a listen). Another one who, if we’re not careful, could be huge!
Lianne La Havas
The fabulous Lianne La Havas as dazzled everyone who has seen her live and on record, she’s no slouch either. Mixing jazz, soul and electronics, she’s so good that Prince went ’round her house for a cup of tea.
Another one of Britain’s blue-eyed soulies from the ’60s, Chris Farlowe’s voice is a force of nature. The thing that bellows out of that awkward frame of his provided Immediate Records with some of their best hits. You’ll know him from his famous version of ‘Handbags & Gladrags’.
Lynden David Hall
Britain’s answer to Neo Soul, LDH sadly passed away in 2006, but not before cutting some great records and an amusing appearance in ‘Love Actually’.
Honorary mentions to:
Katy B, Craig David, Alice Russell, Jay Sean, Taio Cruz, Brand New Heavies, Misha Paris, Rebecca Ferguson.
THERE’S a lot of excitement about Aphex Twin at the minute, as he’s back to release a new LP – ‘Syro’ – and, for fans of awkward electronic music (which are, ostensibly, the new prog generation), any appearance of Richard D. James is worth your attention.
However, what with Aphex having a lot of stubborn male fans, if you’re new to it all, you will almost certainly run into some elitist bullshit at some point; even though Aphex Twin is not at all elitist himself, getting angry when people refer to his music as ‘IDM’, which stands for the achingly awful ‘Intelligent Dance Music’.
So, you want to know what the fuss about Aphex Twin is?
Well, we’re here to help and create a beginners/bluffers guide, so you can dip your toe in and find out whether he’s for you or not. He’s got a few pseudonyms too, so he can he quite hard to keep up with, but once you’re in, that’s part of the fun.
Pull up a chair, pop your ears, and let us commence.
Aphex Twin ‘Windowlicker’
Aphex released two of his most popular records back-to-back, with the watershed bothering ‘Come To Daddy’ frightening everyone half to death, and then, the infamous ‘Windowlicker’.
WILF Turnbull and Derk Philpott are two pensioners living in Bournemouth, Dorset. They “write to popstars about their song lyrics, and they often reply.”
Letter Number 1:
Re: Ready To Go
As you may be aware, the house opposite have just had a loft conversion done, which was sadly undertaken by a disreputable contractor, resulting in a profoundly fissured chimney breast, haphazard joists and a shoddily grouted dormer susceptible to complete de-glazing in the face of nothing more potent than an errant shuttlecock.
Once alerted, Bournemouth Borough Council inspectors conducted a thorough inspection of the discreditable garret and, horrified by their findings, insisted upon the ignominious sky parlor being fully ameliorated prior to building approval being granted. Unfortunately, rather than addressing the defects properly, the owners opted for a much more economical ‘botch-job’, which incorporated half a tub of Polyfilla and an unmatching Dulux Tester Pot in an attempted concealment of the afore-mentioned flue crevice.
It was with some dismay, but no little surprise therefore, that my wife Jean and I were awakened this morning by both her PC tablet alarm clock (tuned, obviously, to Bournemouth’s peerless Wave 105.2 FM) and an almighty ruckus coming from across the road. Further investigation from a discreet gap in the curtains revealed that the officials had returned to the slapdash attic, and, thoroughly unimpressed by the frugal and deceptive improvements undertaken, were now teetering precariously astride the tiles and pointing at the stack, angrily and loudly protesting at its deceptive restoration.
It was at this very juncture in the confrontational governing body/extra storey owner proceedings that your “technopop punk classic” came on just after the travel, ”it’s a crack, I’m back yeah standing on the rooftops shouting out” uncannily acting as an eerie narrative to the scene that we were witnessing at that very instant. There, however, any similarity ended; far from being ”ready to go”, the furious officials seemed intent on maintaining their ‘lofty’ position until the matter could be resolved.
Notwithstanding this last incongruity, Jean and I remain extremely impressed by your local authority versus resident soundscaping abilities, although must take issue with your assertion that one week is another world; it is, inactuality not a different planet but a seven day unit ot time.
Finally, Jean has just suggested from the kitchen, where she is toasting a muffin, that in the current climate of so many establishments closing, you may be well advised to consider renaming your indie combo ‘ReWineBarLica’ or ‘ReBeersAtHomeLica’, in order to reflect current trends.
AFTER The Monterey Pop Festival, Woodstock and Isle of Wight captured rock ‘n’ roll’s attention, everyone was soon trying to get in on the action by putting on their own festivals.
England got Bickershaw and Glastonbury started to stretch out, and America saw festivals popping up all over the place. One such show was the 1972 Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival.
However, this was one of the most disastrous get-togethers in rock. The Rolling Stone’s Altamont gig in 1969 was bad enough, but this shindig, held over three days on Bull Island in Indiana, was blighted from the off.
Promoters of the show thought they’d be getting around 50,000 music lovers on-site, but soon enough, they found themselves swamped with over 300,000 ready to lose their shit and get messy.
MUSIC legend, Lou Adler, is an inductee of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and responsible for a frightening amount of hits and given the world so much music that he should be beatified.
Adler founded and co-owned Dunhill Records (Jimmy Buffett, Solomon Burke, Thelma Houston, Steppenwolf, Joe Walsh, Van Der Graaf Generator, Dusty Springfield and more) and was the producer on the label.
After selling Dunhill, he founded Ode Records (Spirit, Carole King, Merry Clayton, Cheech & Chong, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and others) and helped to produce the Woodstock precursor, the Monterey International Pop Festival (where Hendrix famously set fire to his guitar during his version of ‘Wild Thing’).
He also managed surfer boys Jan & Dean, produced Sam Cooke and bagged two Grammy Awards in ’72 for his production skills on ‘It’s Too Late’ by Carole King and the ‘Tapestry’ LP. He’s the owner of the legendary Roxy Theatre on Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. He is best remembered for discovering The Mamas & Papas.
It is little wonder he got himself a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and can often be seen courtside with Jack Nicholson at LA Lakers games.
TODAY is the birthday of one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most legendary men… although, many won’t have ever heard of him. In 1939, in North London, the legendary Clem Cattini was born.
Cattini did shifts in his dad’s Italian restaurant before pursuing a career in music, starting things off with gigs at The 2i’s Coffee Bar, where he backed whoever turned up. He soon joined his own band called the Beat Boys, and from there, he started to get noticed.
And while a lot of people have never heard of Clem, he’s played on over 40 number one hit records and was one of the most prolific drummers in UK pop history. He’s worked with Joe Meek, Lou Reed, Cliff Richard, Hot Chocolate, Bay City Rollers, Benny Hill and loads more.
Cattini was so hot on the drumstool that he’d get called in to play the parts of bands who already had a drummer.
So with that, let us look at some of Clem’s most famous appearances. If anything, this list will show you just how versatile the great man is.
Happy birthday Clem!
Johnny Kidd and the Pirates ‘Shakin’ All Over’
Thunderclap Newman ‘Something In The Air’
The Tornados ‘Telstar’
Clive Dunn ‘Grandad’
Donovan ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’
The Kinks ‘You Really Got Me’
The Walker Brothers ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’
Dusty Springfield ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’
The Love Affair ‘Everlasting Love’
Renée and Renato ‘Save Your Love’
T-Rex ‘Get It On’
KATE Bush once sang a song about Ken Livingstone, former leader of the GLC, Member of Parliament and the first democratically-elected Mayor of London.
Ken is the man that we all need,
Ken is the leader of the GLC.
Who is the man we all need? KEN!
Who is the funky sex machine? KEN!
Who is the leader of the GLC? KEN!
Who is the man we all need? KEN!
The Comic Strip revisited the tune:
NINETEEN years ago on this very day, all the way back in 1995, teenagers tuned into the chart rundown on Radio One to find out which of Britpop’s gargantuans were going to land the killer blow.
It was on the 26th August that Blur scored their first UK No.1 single with ‘Country House’ ahead of Oasis’ ‘Roll With It’.
Animosity had been high between the two camps, with Oasis hoping Blur would die of AIDS and generally dismissing them as Southern softies. Blur meanwhile sarcastically referred to Oasis as being like ‘Status Quo’, to which Oasis promptly started selling ‘Quoasis’ t-shirts.
It was puerile, pointless and a whole load of fun for people who like a narrative on their pop music.
Both acts released their new singles on the same day, both landing in the top two slots in a month that was erratic at best. While Britpop duked it out, the run-up saw Robson & Jerome’s ‘Unchained Melody’ at the top spot, as well as Outhere Brothers’ ‘Boom Boom Boom’, Take That’s ‘Never Forget’ and followed by Michael Jackson’s ‘You Are Not Alone’ and Shaggy’s ‘Boombastic’.
It was a weird and brilliant summer.
However, as everyone knows, the most irritating thing about the whole battle was just how poor both band’s singles were. ‘Country House’ was Blur’s vision of Great Britain gone too far; too bloated on lager. ‘Roll With It’ was Oasis dialling it in, from a body of work that had stronger LP tracks and B-sides. Oasis ploughed through and became stadium-fillers while Blur slowly collapsed under the weight of their own skewed look on the world, before retreating away, ready to unleash ‘Beetlebum’ and ‘Song Two’ at everyone from their follow-up, eponymous LP.
The release of the two records effectively killed Britpop stone-dead, with only Pulp and the Super Furry Animals managing to maintain any sort of quality control thereafter, with Elastica vanishing down a smack hole, Suede losing their grot-glamour and exchanging it for sickly, pristine Bowie tributes. Things were in such a bad way that Dodgy became headline acts.
The fallout from this Battle of Britpop opened the door for Embrace, Coldplay, Travis and a whole new dawn of overly sincere and overwrought indie rock, which in turn, transformed into something the NME briefly dubbed NAM (New Acoustic Movement) with the likes of Alfie, Turin Breaks, Badly Drawn Boy and Ben & Jason.
Britpop’s bombast reached the zenith 19 years ago, and the momentum kept Oasis going for a while, while Blur got a little lost, touring the very dubious ‘Great Escape’ LP. Of course, it being Blur, it had some fine moments, but so quickly they’d gone from sparky and sarcastic, to getting lost in their own creation, that you couldn’t see the boys who made ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’ in the fug of Camden cocaine anymore.
Both Oasis and Blur suffered in the immediate aftermath of 1995, and would have to regroup to get their motors running again, while their Britpop pals all slid into the Andy’s Records 9p Bargain Bin. Oasis were almost certainly the more determined of the two, filling Manchester City’s old Maine Road stadium and Doing Knebworth in 1996.
However, it wouldn’t be too long before they released the pretty terrible ‘Stand By Me’ and ‘All Around The World’ and hauled the flabby ‘Be Here Now’ LP around the planet while hanging around with Tony Blair in Downing Street for a ‘Cool Britannia’ photo-op.
While Oasis soldiered on until 2009, when Noel finally left. The band were exhausted and going mental. Blur meanwhile, saw Graham Coxon throwing the towel in, leaving Damon to create numerous projects.
And here we are, in 2014, and still, Blur and Oasis have our ears. Be it Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds or wonderful DVD commentary where he’s revealing himself to be a pleasantly daft old curmudgeon or Damon Albarn’s magpie approach to music, with record labels (Honest John’s) and his million bands; Dodgy, Shed Seven, The Bluetones, Menswear, Powder, Sleeper and all the rest, have all but vanished apart from in the hearts of corduroy wearing thirtysomethings.
With Britpop celebrating a 20th anniversary lately, it can only mean one thing – teenagers are going to start fetishising it and starting up bands that sound like Octopus.
God help us all.
IT has been announced that a brass sculpture of Amy Winehouse is to be installed at Camden market, London.
The memorial has been designed by Scott Eaton and will be erected at the Stables market, not too far away from where the singer died so depressingly young in July 2011.
Amy’s father Mitch said he was happy about the new lifesize memorial, and that it will divert people away from paying tribute at her old house, which has “bad memories for everyone”.
“It’s a great honour to have the statue in the Stables. Amy was an integral part of Camden and still is, so you couldn’t really think of putting a statue for her anywhere else, could you really?” he told The Guardian.
Of course, Amy isn’t the first pop star to be graced with a statue in her honour. And if history tells us anything, it is that some memorial statues are better than others.
Let us look at some of the best and worst.
Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott might not be the most famous musician in the world, but something of a working class hero, it is great that he was immortalised in statue form on Harry Street in Dublin. Sadly, the statue itself kinda sucks.
The Fab Four have a load of statues, but the ones in Houston are the best. Stylised and imposing, these giant Beatles were erected and, just to further the Paul Is Dead rumours, the Paul statue fell over after being blown at by some wind.
There’s a touching statue of MJ in a favela in Rio, but we’re not interested in that. We’re more into the ghastly effigy erected by Fulham FC outside their ground. An embarrassment to a lot of fans and the cause of much mirth elsewhere.
At the Albert Docks in Liverpool, there’s a great statue of British rock ‘n’ roll’s finest, Billy Fury. Of course, a lot of people walk past it and assume it is Elvis, but there you go.
One of the greatest voices to ever leap out of a human throat, Otis Redding passed away too young, just days after recording ‘(Sitting On The) Dock Of The Bay’. His sculpture sits in Gateway Park in Macon, Georgia. Here he is, being manhandled by a grinning white guy.
Jimi’s sculpture was unveiled in ’97 on Broadway Avenue in the Capital Hill/Broadway area of Hendrix’ hometown of Seattle. Sadly for Hendrix, they stuck him next to the road and had him grimacing at traffic.
In Sevierville, Tennessee, there’s a statue of a barefoot, young Dolly Parton with a guitar which is sometimes rubbed for good luck by locals and tourists. Dolly grew up in Sevierville. It is a reasonably nice statue of her, it has to be said.
The plaque on this statue of James Brown says: “Singer, songwriter and one-of-a-kind performer” and overlooks James Brown Plaza on Broad Street in Augusta, Ga. The person who made the statue, it seems, put a million teeth in The Godfather of Soul’s mouth. He looks a bit like a Critter.
The Ramones guitarist probably has the best statue in rock’s history, looking moody and cool while standing by the lake at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles. His ashes are in the base of his statue, which is near the grave of bandmate Dee Dee Ramone. The Ramones – even cool in death.
Aberdeen Washington decided to pay tribute to their iconic son who fronted Nirvana and, regrettably killed himself. However, you have to assume that, having seen the tribute, Cobain may actually prefer to be pushing up daisies.
ON this very day in 1965, something brilliant, eccentric and hip was born – Immediate Records.
In what has to be one of the finest record label names ever – c’mon, it’s everything a teenager wants from pop music – and purposefully moddish, Immediate was the baby of Rolling Stones’ manager Andrew Loog Oldham and his partner Tony Calder.
The launched the label with a hipster party, attended by some of pop’s great and good – Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton and Nico (not yet in the Velvet Underground) were all there, being thin and beautiful.
The label was the home of some very famous bands, such as The Small Faces, Rod Stewart and some ’60s favourites in The Nice, Amen Corner and Chris Farlowe. In their stable, they had a young guitar player and producer by the name of Jimmy Page too. Could a label be any more hip?
Obviously, being a bit tinpot, Immediate ran into financial problems and folded in 1970.
So with that, to celebrate one of the world’s most fabulous and frivolous enterprises, let us listen to some of the famous, and shouldabeenfamous, records that were found on Immediate.
Fleur De Lys ‘Circles’
Killer mod-pop from FDL, with a track that The Who wrote and intended as a single called ‘Instant Party’. While Townsend & Co. dithered, the Fleur De Lys stuck the record out. It contains one of the most mental lead guitar lines in the history of pop.
ON this very day in 1968, the last episode of The Monkees TV show aired in the States. Almost every US TV station re-ran the show, with the ’69-’71 being more popular than the debut bow.
The show was shipped out across the world and The Monkees found a load of British fans when it was repeated in the summer holidays in the ’80s and ’90s. While the band themselves have mixed feelings about the show, it simply won’t go away, unless of course, you’re the kind of sneering prick who doesn’t like The Monkees because you could see the business behind them.
FORTY-FIVE years ago, the Woodstock Festival kicked off. Not the first of it’s kind and certainly not the best – but most iconic? Probably.
500,000 gathered on Max Yasgur’s farm in New York’s Sullivan County, and that weekend in August 1969, the the “3 Days of Peace & Music” was captured on film and a legend was born.
Days after the first man set foot on the moon and in the middle of the Vietnam war, optimism, hate and politics all melded together with pop culture.
On the bill that weekend, were Sly & The Family Stone, Joe Cocker, the Grateful Dead, Richie Havens, Joan Baez, Santana, Janis Joplin, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix and more.
However, the line-up at Woodstock could’ve been very, very different. There were a number of bands who were asked and turned it down. There were bands who never really considered it.
So let us look at some of the acts that could’ve been at Woodstock and you can weigh-up how brilliant or awful it would have been to have them alongside the other groups. We’ve chosen footage that is from around the time of Woodstock, so you can get a real feel for what the bands could’ve added (or subtracted) from those that appeared.
Zep’s manager Peter Grant stated: “We were asked to do Woodstock and Atlantic were very keen, and so was our U.S. promoter, Frank Barsalona. I said no because at Woodstock we’d have just been another band on the bill.” Zep went and watched Elvis instead.
Dylan lived in Woodstock at the time, but didn’t enter serious negotiations to play as he was setting off to do the Isle of Wight festival instead, travelling on the QE2. Dylan was also apparently annoyed at the hippies hanging around his house. Thank god The Band were there.
The Beatles/John Lennon
There’s some rumours that the Woodstock organisers asked Lennon to play, but lost interest in the Beatle when he demanded that Yoko Ono get a slot too. However, what is far more likely is that Lennon fancied a slot, but Richard Nixon wouldn’t let him as he was madly paranoid about Lennon being in the States.
Arthur Lee and Love
Arthur Lee declined the invitation thanks to him and his band basically fighting with each other all the time. Love’s appearance would’ve made the band a household name and given their masterpiece – ‘Forever Changes’ – a chance to be a household name. Alas, they were consigned to record-collector obscurity.
Joni was all set to play Woodstock and indeed, wrote a great song about the place. However, she cancelled her appearance on her manager’s advice who thought she’d be better off playing her scheduled appearance on The Dick Cavett Show.
The Jeff Beck Group
Jeff Beck said of Woodstock: “I deliberately broke the group up before Woodstock. I didn’t want it to be preserved.”
The Doors cancelled their Woodstock gig at the last minute, because they thought the festival would be a “second class repeat of Monterey Pop Festival”. They spared a generation of Jim Morrison’s dreadful lizard routine.
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention
It has always been weird that Zappa wasn’t at Woodstock, seeing as he presided over 60s counterculture like some mad professor, but on a TV show, Zappa said: “A lot of mud at Woodstock … We were invited to play there, we turned it down.”
The Byrds were, of course, invited to play Yasgur’s farm, but declined the offer because they figured Woodstock would be no different from any of the other music festivals that summer. There were money concerns as well because, as you know, hippies like to get paid and it looked like McGuinn & Co might not, so they stayed away.
Still known as the Chicago Transit Authority, the band had been signed-on to play Woodstock, but thanks to contractual wranglings, Santana got their slot instead. That’s got to be a kick in the teeth.
Tommy James and the Shondells
Declining the invitation, Tommy James said: “We could have just kicked ourselves. We were in Hawaii, and my secretary called and said, ‘Yeah, listen, there’s this pig farmer in upstate New York that wants you to play in his field.’ That’s how it was put to me. So we passed, and we realized what we’d missed a couple of days later.”
Free were asked to play, but declined.
Spirit, and the dazzlingly talented Randy California, were asked to play Woodstock, but turned it down because they had already been booked to play some other shows. They had no idea what they were turning down.
Jethro Tull turned down Woodstock. Frontman Ian Anderson said he knew it would be huge, but didn’t fancy it because he didn’t like hippies and thought they wouldn’t get paid enough.
IB were booked to appear and are even listed on the Woodstock poster to play on the Sunday, but sadly, they missed their show because they were stuck at an airport. That’s gotta suck.
PART Kermit, part hipster, Michael Cera is loved by many (and he probably irritates a fair few too, but that’s normal) and has starred in a bunch of films that make people in Converse Chuck Taylor’s go weak at the knees.
So it isn’t very surprising that Michael Cera has released folk album called ‘True That’.
The actor released the material on August 8th via his Bandcamp page. Not many people noticed it, but then, Superbad co-star Jonah Hill posted a link to it and now everyone is cooing and clucking about it.
Of course, he’s not the first actor to have a go at singing and making music. In fact, the movies are filled with actors who have decided to have a go at making sweet melodies. The results, obviously, have been mixed and sometimes, downright baffling.
Mostly though, they’ve been a bit bland. Remember Minnie Driver’s album? Of course you don’t. Was it bad? Sadly, it was competent so no-one could get mad.
Some actors have been pretty good, but they’re no fun – we’re interested in the weird ones. Dudley Moore’s fine jazz and J-Lo’s ace pop aren’t for us.
We’re here for the lousy and oddball.
Cinema legend Robert Mitchum was swept away by the infectious music of the Caribbean and thought he’d make a calypso album. His deadpan delivery is funny, but is it a bit racist doing what is tantamount to a comedy black voice? Judge for yourself.
LOOKEE here: Marianne Faithful must have a new album coming out. For the aging diva has decided to drop the bombshell that she knows who killed Jim Morrison. Nothing like a bit of gossip from 40 years ago to revive interest in a singer from 40 years ago, eh?
Marianne Faithfull, the singer and actress, has claimed her drug dealing ex-boyfriend “killed” Jim Morrison after accidentally supplying him heroin that was too strong.
Faithfull, who has a new album out in September, told a music magazine she was now the only person alive “connected” to Morrison’s death, after travelling to Paris in 1971.
The truth being that we’ve all known all along who killed Jim Morrison. It was, of course, Jim Morrison. The combination of the drugs, the booze and the food (yes, don’t forget that he was by no means that svelte figure by the time he died) meant that he simply wasn’t long for this world even at the age of 27. Not unless he’d made a determined effort to clean up his act.
Which brings us to the subject of that 27 club, the young stars who manage to kill themselves at that age. Winehouse, Cobain , Morrison, Joplin and so on. One way of looking at the membership of that club is that perhaps it’s not all that wise for an 18 or 19 year old to have access to vast amounts of money and thus anything and everything that can be inhaled, ingested, drunk or injected. Another way of looking at it is that it does seem to take some years, 5 or 6 perhaps, of that lifestyle to actually kill people. And these people really were going at it full tilt too, which shows us that the human body might be a bit more resilient than we generally assume that it is. It takes years of it to do you in, not the odd dabble.
ANOTHER young black man has been killed by the police in America and there’s the all too familiar narrative to it all.
Vigils, pleas to be heard and unrest has ensued after Michael Brown was shot dead by a police officer in Ferguson. Eye-witnesses have likened the killing to an execution and the policeman in question has been put on paid leave while officials investigate.
Of course, the list of people killed in controversial circumstances by US police forces is depressingly long and, of course, pop-culture has tracked and chronicled what’s happened.
With that, let us listen to some of the most effective tracks about police brutality – some famous, some less so, and spare a thought for those who have been affected by the state killing their children.
Public Enemy ’911 Is A Joke’
Public Enemy are the most successful group to align politics and music together. In ’911 Is A Joke’, they expertly detail just how they the can’t trust law and order in America. A lot of things said by PE, even though the message is 20+ years old, are still appallingly true.
Hip Hop For Respect ‘A Tree Never Grown’
In February 1999, 23-year-old Guinean immigrant Amadou Diallo was shot to death by four NYPD police officers after the wallet he withdrew from his jacket was mistaken for a gun. The officers involved were acquitted. A veritable supergroup of black musicians (including Mos Def and Talib Kweli) got together for ‘Hip Hop For Respect’, and in blue-collar rock, Bruce Springsteen recorded American Skins (41 Shots) for the same cause.
Black Flag ‘Police Story’
Black Flag have always had a problem with the police and in ’81, the hit out at the authorities with this one-inch-punch of noise.
NWA ‘Fuck Tha Police’
NWA were never going to shy away from taking on the long arm of the law. The song foresaw the mass resentment towards the police that later exploded in the LA Riots in 1992 after the death of Rodney King. NWA even alleged that black people in the police were worse than the whites: “Don’t let it be a black and a white one ’cause they’ll slam ya down to the street top – black police showing out for the white cop”
Dave Goodman & Friends ‘Justifiable Homicide’
Dave Goodman was the sound man for the Sex Pistols’ earliest recordings. However, Goodman put together a band and released ‘Justifiable Homicide’, which protested against the killing of 39-year-old Liddle Towers by British police. After arrest, Towers spent a night in jail where he was brutalised by police to the point where his injuries killed him. An inquest into the incident determined Towers’ death as “justifiable homicide.”
Bodycount ‘Cop Killer’
Ice T’s ‘Bodycount’ did not mince their feelings about the police. Looking at police brutality, Ice T tells a story of someone who can take it no more, and does something themselves. President Bush, Tipper Gore and Dan Quayle were unsurprisingly horrified at the song.
The Hates ‘LA Riots’
The Hates said of their song: “I wrote “L.A. Riot” after the Rodney King debacle and the resulting aftermath. It seemed incredible to me at the time that police brutality could even exist. We as people are supposed to be better than that. Even more incredible was the police trial. Justice seemed blind and it felt as if we had no power against a group who are supposed to protect and serve but end up using their authority to take their frustrations out on others. The riots after the police trial made me feel like we were all living in a Mad Max world.”
THERE’S a maid who worked at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch and – you’d think she’d have barrowloads of amazing anecdotes from her job wouldn’t you?
Just think of the amazing music that would’ve been made in their presence! Think of the wonderful and fun pop-cultural artefacts owned by The King Of Pop.
Instead, this maid has come out and said that Michael Jackson was “the dirtiest, most unsanitary person in Hollywood.”
TODAY, the world’s press heard about Britney Spears launching a new lingerie line, which just so happens to be called The Intimate Collection.
She announced this by posting a picture of her herself wearing the new range on Instagram. And she looked perfectly lovely in it.
Britter’s range will hit the shelves Stateside on September 9th and Europeans will either have to learn how to use the internet to buy things from abroad, or wait a few days and buy in European shops on September 26th.
That’s not the story though. It got us thinking about band merchandise – not everyone can be classy enough to release a range of tasteful undercrackers.
Most bands don’t veer too far away from t-shirts and mugs, but some go a bit mental. Tenacious D had a specially designated cum-rag fercryinoutloud.
So with that, shall we have a look at some of the weirdest (and therefore best) bits of band merch ever? Feel free to add you own in the comments.
Rammstein Dildo Box
Rammstein released a box-set with a load of dildos in it and, of course, they decided to base the sex toys on their own junk. That’s nice isn’t it?
Prodigy Toilet Cover Seat
BELIEVE it or not, there’s a new age of psychedelic music upon us. Not so much the re-dawning of the age of Aquarius, but rather, a bunch of snotty brats all making experimental pop-music without the need to badger you about some awful political cause.
This is music made to frazzle your brains, rattle your eyes and shake your arse.
And it isn’t just ’60s revivalism either – these bands have managed to capture the ’60s counter culture’s lightning in a bottle, but mixed it up with meths and cough syrup, to make music that can veer wildly from inyerface hooligan garage rock, to Super 8 sunshine jangly pop, to cosmic prog-pop.
WHAT is France famous for?
Well, the French are well known for amazing food and booze, not to mention being some of the finest smokers on the planet. They’re great at art house cinema, having sexy accents and as the Tour De France has shown (see? Topical), some of the most incredible countryside on the planet.
However, often derided is French music. France, we’re told, is rubbish when it comes to making tunes. Ha ha! Says the world. The FRENCH? Pop music? SHUTTUP!
France has been making some of the best, funnest music on the planet for years! Novelty records and holiday camp europop isn’t solely what France is about, so with that, let us look at some of the greatest French music ever produced over the years.
C’est une musique à nos oreilles!
So, you know all about the robots and that, when they show up, we have a good summer. They control dancefloors just like they control the weather. Here is one of their earlier efforts.
Ace singer-songwriter Camille is definitely someone you need in your life. She makes music out of her own body parts and it sounds like brilliant pop and not at all like Bobby McFerrin.
Cult favourites, Stereolab, create a special kind of hush around people of a certain age. They mixed together space-age cocktail jazz, French library electronics (more on that later) and arch 60s pop to make for one of the most wonderful bands who ever lived.
Listen. Serge is more that That Song With The Orgasm In It. SG is a proper genius and madman and France rightly honoured his death with a national day of mourning. Here’s a cut from his utterly sublime ‘Melody Nelson’ LP, which saw Serge teaming up with another French powerhouse, Jean Claude Vannier.
Without anyone noticing, Phoenix became one of the biggest bands in the whole world, headlining festivals and generally conquering the world. Former bandmates of Daft Punk (they were in a band together called ‘Darlin”), they’ve applied their wry take on the world to some of the most gorgeous pop-rock music ever recorded.
Dutronc was one of France’s first pop heroes, cutting a suave, cheeky figure in the 60s. He was a bigwig at Vogues Disques (arguably France’s greatest record label), wrote songs for others, was a mean actor and Francoise Hardy liked him enough to marry him. Jacques Dutronc may not be a household name outside of French speaking countries, but that’s the fault of the rest of the world.
A new wave of garage punk/ye ye groups exploded around Paris which were known as ‘les bébés rockers’. Les Plastiscines were one of a number of bands that appeared on the excellent ‘Paris Calling’ compilation. Soon, they’d release their debut ‘LP1′ and they never looked back.
Another one of France’s first pop-stars, Polnareff tried his hands at loads of different styles, but his most classy joint is the incredible instro ‘Voyages’.
Another of the les bébés rockers, The Hellboys were greasy, leopard print garage punk straight out of the dirty daydreams of The Cramps and Link Wray. Sadly, the lead singer Nikola Acin (a very interesting man worth looking up) died aged just 34 years old.
Britain has the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. France had people like Cecil Leuter to test the limits of early electronics and synthesizers. Some of his music is eerie and spacey… others, like the one below, is unhinged bubbling synth funk. The best bit? His real name was Roger Roger. Leuter, along with other French Library music makers helped to shape pop the world over by showing what was possible with electronic music.
Air took over the world with ‘Moon Safari’ with their retro-futuristic take on pop music. They continued slightly under the radar, by including prog and doing film soundtracks… but they’re still brilliant.
Klub Des Loosers
French hip hop usually means people lazily linking to MC Solaar. Of course, MC Solaar is great, but seeing as he’s guested on Missy Elliot records, he doesn’t need further promotion. So here we are, with Klub Des Loosers, who really should give you the bug to find more French rap.
You may remember Oizo as being that guy who gave the world Flat Eric with the Levi’s ad which included ‘Flat Beat’. However, Oizo is one of the most innovative, ferocious music producers on the planet. Check out the incredible, jarring, cut and paste jackhammer that is ‘halfanedit’.
Missed out your favourite French song or band? You know where the comments are.
WHO wants to hear David Bowie’s isolated vocals for Ziggy Stardust? We do. And you should, too.
Spotter: Brain Pickings
MOSTLY, The Beatles are not a live band.
Sure, they cut their teeth around Britain and Germany for years, before blowing everyone’s brains out in Australia, Japan and America, but when people think of the Fabs, it is all about the studio.
We’ve seen endless documentaries with George Martin talking about ‘the boys’ and the madcap studio ideas they had (Lennon wanted to be swung from the ceiling, trying to recreate the sound of a thousand monks of a hillside, slice tapes and throwing them in the air to stick them back together again, and all that great stuff), but on film, their live prowess has been somewhat neglected.
Liverpool Empire 1965
And now, Ron Howard – a long term Beatle nut and Academy Award-winning director, has been tasked to direct and produce an authorised, as-yet-untitled documentary about the touring years of the Fab Four.