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author, journalist and dee jay Tony Fletcher.
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SATURDAY APRIL 24

BEATS AND PEACES

Feeling something between elation and exhaustion right now, having knocked over 4 minutes off my previous best half-Marathon time, running the 13.1 miles Brooklyn course from the Coney Island Boardwalk to the heart of Prospect Park early this morning in 1hr 42:54, which keeps me very much in line for my goal to do this year's NYC Marathon in 3hrs 30 or less.) Unlike last year's Brooklyn half, run in freezing cold and deep snow, this one was in sunny, even steamy, 65F conditions (and not a breeze down on the Boardwalk); at the end of the race, most of the runners seemed set to spend the rest of the day lying down in Prospect Park. Who would blame them?


Better though to get home and find Crystal Palace keep winning and are now within goal difference of a Play Off Place. (And even better, Millwall are now three places below.) And then there's the CD I finally just found again compiled and burned by a friend a few years ago: it features all the usual Madchester suspects such as I usually play at Step On, but also a few of the second-string names from that era who are frequently requested on the night (Adorable, New Fast Automatic Daffodils); some of the very same songs I played on the recent Shoegazing night (by The Catherine Wheel, My Bloody Valentine and The Verve); a couple of true obscurities (Spin, Dandelion Fire); and a couple of bands that don't get requested but might well be worth the airplay anyway (Ned's Atomic Dustbins, The La's). While we're on this subject, if anyone has a copy of 'She's A Rainbow' by World Of Twist they want to send me as an AIFF/MP3 for future Step Ons, they're welcome.


We've been talking about MC5 a little of late. Don't know if the (postponed) DVD has anything to do with it, but they're back out on tour. There's a tendency to throw one of their own quotes from that brilliant documentary back at them – that it can never be more than the MC3, allowing that Rob Tyner and Fred Sonic Smith are both deceased. That might explain why Wayne Kramer, Dennis Thompson, and Michael Davis have decided to enlist a little help from their friends, including, and I guess this is listed by Continent visited, in Australia, Deniz Tek (Radio Birdman), Mark Arm (Mudhoney), Evan Dando (Lemonheads), Tim Rogers (You Am I); in Japan, Howlin' Pelle Almquist (The Hives); in North America - Marshall Crenshaw and Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees, Queens of the Stone Age); and in Europe - Nicke Royale (Hellacopters).

Taking a second look at that list, I ask myself: do I want to see Mark Lanegan and Marshall Crenshaw take on part-time membership of the MC5 – any more than I would pretend to be enthused about Ian Astbury doing Jim Morrison's part in The Doors? Personally, after watching that DVD documentary, I'd pay good money just to watch Wayne, Michael and Dennis talk all night. Especially knowing that it could break into a shooting match at any moment...


FRIDAY APRIL 23

THE END OF AN ERA

ORBITAL SPLIT. Tragic but true. “We’re both pursuing different avenues with our music," says Paul Hartnoll at the group's web site. "And we’ve been sat, as brothers, in the same room for 15 years now–and studios are always confined spaces–I think it’s time for a change.”

I've sat in the same room with my own brother just once in the last seven years, and that was hard enough, so it's been a constant source of amazement to me that Paul and Phil Hartnoll could live in each other's pockets, continually making some of the best music of their generation, putting on arguably the best live shows in the history of techno/electronica, and still remain proper brothers. Paul's comments suggest that the friendship aspect has been strained of late, and Phil's thoughts on the matter are notable for their absence. But it's worth noting that they each moved with their young families to the same town – Brighton, i.e. the best coastal city in Britain. Presumably, they'll continue to enjoy each other's company once they get beyond the professional responsibility of making music together.

Orbital In Prime. (Albeit on a stage, and not the dance floor.)


Orbital's first American shows were as part of the Communion tour with Meat Beat Manifesto and Ultramarine in November-December 1992, on which I had the honor of being DJ. Pooling road crews in the best tradition of the old package revues, 18 of us shared a tour bus (and a six-seat minivan) through many ludicrously long overnight drives on what we all came to remember as three of the very best weeks of our lives. … Made all the better by Orbital's live show which, partly because it was performed from the back of the dance floor every night, partly because it was stretched and strained according to the mood of the night, and largely because, after all, it was Orbital's music blasting from the speakers, revolutionized the nascent American rave audience's concept of a live techno gig. (Nobody used the e--------a word back then. It was either rave, or techno.) Perhaps Paul will now get round to editing all the video footage he shot on that tour; I'm sure it's of proper historical importance.

Orbital's second tour of America was only months after the Communion outing, when they returned for a 'NASA' package that, with The Prodigy and Moby also on the bill, promoted itself as the country's first ever "rave" tour. It may well have been (ours made no such claim) but I know they didn't have as much fun. There was serious animosity towards Moby, who not only pissed everyone off by flying from gig to gig (he claimed he couldn't hack the smoking on the tour bus), but employed a guitarist who played along to backing tapes on stage. (The so-called guitarist, poor sod, did travel on the tour bus, where I believe he was made to feel acutely uncomfortable for being there at all.) Still, given the subsequent success of all those acts, the tour was a triumph for NASA, about which I only have fond memories as a legendary club in the history of New York nightlife.

A good idea at the time: The last night of the Communion tour, Chicago, December 5, 1992.

Seemed like a good idea at the time: Nasa Rewind, April 2004.

...Which makes it all the sadder that the NASA Rewind event of three weeks ago – which I failed to attend on account of tiredness after Step On the night before – should have been such a success on the surface, and such a disaster thereafter. My good friend DB has sent out an e-mail to those on the scene explaining that he's $12g out of pocket on the event – because, he claims, his partner in the project, Scotto, didn't hand over money from advance ticket sales. You won't find anything about this at Scotto's web site, which is full of enthusiastic e-mailed comments from DJs and party-goers about how they should do it again. It's fair to say that if they ever do, it won't be with DB, the night's co-founder and long-standing keeper of the American rave flame.

The NASA fracas is a reminder of how the rave scene in America - which did, genuinely, show so much initial promise - floundered at almost the first hurdle: honorable business dealings. Tales of deceit, back-stabbing and outright theft informed my novel, Hedonism, which I thought I had set in the past. Guess not.

Orbital's final record comes out in June. It's called The Blue Album (Orbital fans will remember that the duo's second album is widely known as The Brown Album) and, says Paul, it brings matters full circle. "It’s closer in character to our first album than our later ones, if only because we made it in our own time and for ourselves.”

The Brown Album: a classic in 1993

The Blue Album: a classic in 2004?

Orbital's last ever indoor show is at Brixton Academy on June 25, prior to what the Hartnolls assures us will be their last ever show of any kind, closing out Glastonbury's Second Stage on June 27 - "Although," Paul writes on the web site with his familiar deadpan, "I’m sure Status Quo keep telling themselves the same thing.”


WEDNESDAY-THURSDAY APRIL 21-22

GONE WORKING

You're going to have to do without me for a couple of days again. I plan to post again by Friday. Feel free to pass comment in The Pub in the meantime.


TUESDAY APRIL 20

5 BOROUGHS...

Lyrics of the day:

"Since 911 we're still livin' / and lovin' life we've been given / ain't nothing gonna take that away from us / we're lookin' pretty and gritty 'cause in the city we trust,"

From "An Open Letter to NYC" off the forthcoming Beastie Boys album To The 5 Boroughs. (Check their site, currently Under Construction, which shows the Brooklyn Bridge under construction.)


Must be the season for it: The Mooney Suzuki's brilliant new album ALIVE & AMPLIFIED – not out till August, I hate to tease you – includes the instant singalong 'New York Girls,' a long overdue response to The Beach Boys' admittedly classic 'Californian Girls.'


Still within the 5 Boroughs: Armand Van Helden returns from the dead – or at least from various suicidal career moves, including the Godawful Ghandi Khan – to release New York: A Mix Odyssey in June. Clearly he has a loose definition of a New York mix -- unless it's just that anything goes – because the album includes tracks by such (not) New York-based bands as Yes, Ram Jam, The Romantics, Soft Cell, Yazoo and Felix da Housecat. Of the several unfamiliar new tracks, I'm most immediately taken by Heavy Rock's '(I Just Wanna Be a) Drummer,' a witty response to how "Everybody wants to be a DJ."



On related subject of which, I did find and download Shame 69's 'No Business', which updates LCD Soundsystem's 'Losing My Edge' with what sounds like the riff from Killing Joke's 'Change' and both the musical and lyrical theme of 'There's No Business Like Show Business.' Sadly, while the rhythm rules, the new words don't really add much to the conversation.

And still very much in the same subject area, Dan Selzer e-mailed me to challenge my comment regarding the Motherfucker party: "Sure, it's a little more white than some of us might prefer our dance grooves, "

"You must not have heard enough of our set!" he writes. "We played some very deeeep chicago style House, early detroit techno, booty bass and freestyle, etc."

I know he did. I was too busy upstairs dancing to songs I bought when they first came out, like 'Ready Steady Go' and 'Leader Of The Gang.' Those who want to hear Dan give Armand Van Helden a run for stylistic variety should keep their eyes on upcoming Step On line-ups.


...AND THE NUMBER 3

Back to the Old City … I finally got my copy of The Who Then And Now 1964-2004. We've already discussed the music. ('Old Red Wine' is maturing on me.) But what's that photograph behind the CD itself? A number 3 bus to Crystal Palace? So that's where it's been hiding all these years!

Bloody 'ell, it's a number 3: No wonder they call it the Magic Bus!

Seriously, I had a major love-hate relationship with the number 3. It offered the only public transport within a mile of the Dulwich housing estate on which I grew up. I took it to and from secondary school at the Oval, to and from the West End at weekends, to and from Brixton tube the rest of the time. I must have ridden it twice a day, six days a week, every week for over six years of my life. (And after moving to Crystal Palace, I still couldn't escape it, though at least I then had more options.) The number 3 was surely the very bus of which that old joke "You wait an hour for a bus, then three come along in a row?" must have been invented. Except I don't remember laughing when waiting at Piccadilly Circus at night, having reluctantly missed the encores at the Marquee, and now panicking if I'd also missed the last bus. Nor when waiting in the English winter at the Gypsy Hill roundabout, running late for school. I hope it didn't offend Who archivist, sleeve notes author and Millwall fan Matt Kent too much to include a photo with the words Crystal Palace on it!

It's partly because of my memories of the number 3 – especially that choice between the last songs at the Marquee and the last bus home - that I go on so much about my local Brooklyn venue Southpaw, which just happens to be hosting Clinic, the Cardigans and Radio 4 in the space of six days during May. Who needs Manhattan, I'm tempted to ask? (Except I know that I do.) Would my life have been different if there'd been a Southpaw in West Dulwich or Crystal Palace? Probably. I wouldn't have been such a boy about town, that's for sure. And that would have been a shame.

2004 MUSINGS
APR 19-25: 5 Boroughs Rock, The Number 3 Bus, Orbital split, MC5 reform
APR 6-18: British Press Cuttings, More Than Nets, Art Rockers and Brit Packers
MAR 29-APRIL 5: The Rapture/BRMC/Stellastarr* live, The Chinese Beatles, Freddie Adu
MAR 22-28: Singapore Sling live, Kerry on a Snowboard, Pricks on Clits, Eddie Izzard, Who's Two
MAR 15-21: TV On The Radio live, Tracking Terror, Bloomberg's Education Bloc, The Homosexuals,
MAR 8-14: The Undertones live, Winemakers Week, Madrid Bombings, Just In Jest
MAR 1-7: Rhone-gazing, Pop Culture Quiz answers, Who's Hindsight, March Hitlist
FEB 16-29: Lad Lit, American Primaries, New York novels, Candi Staton, the Pop Culture Quiz, World Musics In Context
FEB 9-15: Grammy gripes, Spacemen 3, Replacements, Touching The Void, Moon myths, Voice Jazz & Pop Poll
FEB 2-FEB 8: Suicide Girls in the flesh, Johnny Rotten's a Celebrity...So's Jodie Marsh
JAN 26-FEB 1: Starsailor/Stellastarr*/Ambulance live, Tiswas, Wine Watch, Politics Watch
JAN 19-25: Brooklyn Nets? LCD Soundsystem, Iowa Primary, The Melody, TV On The Radio
JAN 12-18: The Unicorns live, New York w(h)ines, Sex In The City, Curb Your Enthusiasm, S.U.V. Safety, Bands Reunited
JAN 5-11: Tony's Top 10s of 2003, Howard Dean and his credits, Mick Middles and Mark E. Smith, Mick Jones and Don Letts,

2003 MUSINGS:
DEC 22-JAN 4: Blind Boys of Alabama live, Joe Strummer, Year-End Lists, Finding Nemo, The Return of The King
DEC 15-21: Placebo live, Park Slope, Angels In America, Saddam's capture
DEC 8-14: The Rapture live, Guardian readers change lightbulbs, Keep iJamming! Thriving
DEC 1-7: Cabaret Laws, Ready Brek, Kinky Friedman, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Jonathan Lethem, Julie Burchill, Blizzard running
NOV 17-30: Lost In Music, Lost In Translation, Neil Boland, Political Polls, Press Clips, Australian Whines
NOV 10-16: Ben E. King live, Hedonism readings, A***nal, Charts on Fire
NOV 3-9: Brother Bear, Oneida, P. Diddy, Steve Kember, Guy Fawkes, Iraq, the Marathon
OCT 27-NOV 2: CMJ Music Marathon report, NYC Running Marathon preview, Prey For Rock'n'Roll, Yellow Dog, Gen Wesley Clark, Halloween
OCT 20-26: Television Personalities, defending New York rockers, Bill Drummond Is Read
OCT 6-19: LCD Soundsystem live, Renewable Brooklyn review, Blind Acceptance is a sign...
SEP29-OCT 5: New York w(h)ines parts 1 and 2, Bruce Springsteen at Shea Stadium.
SEP 22-28: Atlantic Antic, Pacifists for War: General Wesley Clark and the Democratic Debate, Danny Tenaglia, Running Wild, Steppenwolf
SEP 15-21: Radio 4/DJ Vadim live, Manhattan Mondaze, Circle of Light, Renewable Brooklyn
SEP 8-14: Central Park Film Festival, Roger (Daltrey) and me, September 11 Revisited, The Raveonettes/Stellastarr* live, Recording Idiots of America,
SEP1-7: Film Festivities, Party Monster, Keith Moon RIP
AUG 25-31: Punk Planet, Carlsonics, Copyright Protection, Cline Zinfandel, BRMC
AUG 18-24: Black Out Blame Game, John Shuttleworth, British Music mags, Greg Palast, The Thrills live.
AUG 11-17: The New York blackout, Restaurant reviews, The Media as Watchdog, What I Bought On My Holidays
AUG 4-10: Step On again, Shaun W. Ryder, Jack magazine, the BBC, the Weather, Detroit Cobras, football and Rock'n'Roll
JULY 28-AUG 3: De La Guarda, The Rapture, Radio 4, Stellastarr*, Jodie Marsh, A Tale of Two Lions, Hedonism launch photos,
JULY 14-27: Manchester Move Memories, Hedonism is Here, Holiday postcard
JULY 7-13: Chuck Jackson live, Step On, Beverley Beat, British Way of Life
JUNE30-JULY6: David Beckham, Geoffrey Armes, Happy Mondays, Step On at Royale
JUNE 23-29: Ceasars/The Realistics live, weddings and anniversaries, Cabaret laws.
JUNE 9-23: Hell W10, The Clash, Big Audio Dynamite, Nada Surf live, Field Day debacle
JUNE 2-8: Six Feet Under - Over, Field Day, Siren Fest, Crouching Tigher Hidden Cigarette
MAY 19-JUNE 1: Ian McCulloch live, New York's financial woes, Six Feet Under, Hedonism, Tommy Guerrero.
MAY 5-18: Live reviews of The Rapture, De La Soul, Carlsonics, Laptop, The Libertines, Echoboy, The Greenhornes; observations on Chris Coco/The Blue Room, The Apple Music Store, Alan Freed, Phil Spector, The Matrix Reloaded, Rare Earth, Tinnitus and Royale!
APRIL 28-MAY 4: Flaming Lips, Madonna, Bill Maher, The Dixie Chicks, the war
APRIL 21-27: Rotary Connection, War(n) Out, Cocaine Talk
APRIL 14-20: Belated London Musings on Death Disco and CPFC.
APRIL 7-13: London Musings: Madness, Inspiral Carpets, the Affair, the Palace, the Jam
MARCH 31-APRIL 6: Music be the spice of life, London Calling: Ten Observations from the Old Country
MARCH 24-30: Six Feet Under, Peaches/Elefant live, MP Frees and Busted Boy Bands
MARCH 17-23: Röyksopp live, Transmission, Worn-Out War Talk
MARCH 10-16: Live reviews: Stratford 4, Flaming Sideburns, Joe Jackson Band, Linkin Park. Why I Oppose The War (For Now).
MARCH 3-9: The Pursuit of Happiness, Weekend Players, U.S. Bombs, Al Farooq, A New Pessimism, Brooklyn Half Marathon
FEBRUARY 24-MARCH2: Orange Park, Ali G-Saddam Hussein-Dan Rather-Bill Maher-Jon Stewart TV reviews, Stellastarr*, James Murphy, The Station nightclub fire, the Grammys
FEBRUARY 17-23: Village Voice Poll, Singles Club, Smoke and Fire
FEBRUARY 3-16: Snug, The Face, Pink, Supergrass live, Keith Moon, Phil Spector, Gore Vidal
JANUARY 27-FEBRUARY 2: Communist Chic, Spiritland, Daddy You're A Hero, Keith Moon, State of the Union, CPFC and more on Iraq
JANUARY 20-26: Divisions of Laura Lee, Burning Brides, Words On War, Child Abuse of a Different Kind, Losing My Edge
JANUARY 13-19: Pete Townshend, Pee Wee Herman, South Park and more Pete Townshend
JANUARY 6-12: Interpol in concert, Tony Fletcher's Top 10 Albums and Singles of 2002, More on Joe Strummer and The Clash, Fever Pitch and Bend It Like Beckham.
DECEMBER 31 2002 -JAN 5 2003: A tribute to Joe Strummer, Radio 4 live on New Year's Eve
2002 MUSINGS ARE LISTED HERE:


iJamming! Site Copyright Tony Fletcher 2004




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FEATURED WINE:
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NEW YORK W(H)INES:
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

DANCING IN THE DARK:
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