SEARCH iJAMMING!
Enter search words here 

Hint: Use " " to search for more than one word. (e.g. "New Order")

COMMENTS ON THIS PAGE OR ANYTHING ELSE IN iJAMMING!?
DISCUSS THEM IN THE PUB


This page last updated
Fri, Apr 29, 2005 11:07 am


Keep iJamming! Thriving!

Please donate to keep iJamming! independent, active - and free. Every penny helps: just click one of the buttons below.

Amazon Honor System Click Here to PayLearn More

Why donate? Read this.

WHAT'S NEW IN iJAMMING!...

SO MUCH WINE, SO LITTLE TIME
18 Wines from four dinners

WILLIAMSBURG W***KERS
The FischerSpooner Album Release Party

FEATURED WINE:
PONT NEUF 2003
Vin De Pays du Gard, France

BRIGHTON ROCKS BROOKLYN
The Go! Team at Southpaw

THE MARCH HITLIST:
15 ALBUMS

NOTES FROM A POSH NIGHT OUT:
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Dinner

FEATURED WINE:
Bremerton 'Selkirk' Shiraz 2000 Langhorne Creek, Australia

THE IJAMMING! INTERVIEW:
TIM BOOTH

FEATURED WINE REGION:
BANDOL

THE FEBRUARY HITLIST:
Chemical Brothers, Lemon Jelly, Slits, Erasure, T.H. White, M83, Tim Booth and more

FEATURED WINE:
JEAN LALLEMENT CHAMPAGNE BRUT NV

THE JANUARY HITLIST:
They Almost Got Away: The Best Of The Rest of 2004:

The IJAMMING! Interview:
Matt Friedberger of The Fiery Furnaces on Pete Townshend

MINUTES OF A 'MIRACLE':
The Birth of our baby Noel

2004: THE YEAR IN REVIEW
1) The Best Album & Singles
2) Most Disappointing Albums
3) Best Wines of 2004

THE GREAT COMMUNICATOR:
TED LEO in concert

THE DECEMBER HITLIST:
Album reviews of Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, John Cale, Nick Cave, The Scumfrog, Freq Nasty, DFA, Grip Weeds, High Dials

THE IJAMMING! INTERVIEW:
Wayne Kramer on Pete Townshend

JOHN PEEL: A TributeHIGHWAY TO UNHEALTHY:

THE CLASH: THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO THEIR MUSIC
by TONY FLETCHER
PUBLISHED APRIL 8 2005
A CHRONOLOGICAL SONG-BY-SONG ACCOMPANIMENT TO THE ENTIRE CLASH CATALOGUE. WITH ADDITIONAL SECTIONS ON COMPILATIONS, FILMS, DVDs AND SOLO CAREERS. Available online through amazon.com, amazon.co.uk and at all good bookstores.

The biggest night out that you'll ever have in." Jockey Slut
"Hedonism will have you gripped from start to finish, guaranteed." International DJ


Tony Fletcher's debut novel HEDONISM is out now. For more information and to read excerpts, click here.


HEDONISM is available mail order in the USA from Barnes&Noble.com. It's available mail order in the UK from amazon.co.uk or musicroom.com.

DEAR BOY The British edition of the Keith Moon biography is available in paperback at book stores, amazon.com and amazon co.uk. More info here.

REMARKS REMADE The first ever R.E.M. biography fully updated with ten new chapters covering Reveal and beyond. Available at UK bookstores, amazon.co.uk and musicroom. Available at select stores in the States and through BN.com.

MOON The American edition of the Keith Moon biography is available in paperback at book stores, amazon.com, bn.com and amazon co.uk. More info here

iJAMMING! is a music and lifestyle web site hosted by
author, journalist and dee jay Tony Fletcher.
Click on the buttons above to access the different areas of the site.
For the latest additions, see What's New
To find a specific item, use the search engine
Tony's current musings follow below.
Previous musings are archived here.

SUNDAY APRIL 17

MARATHON MARATHON WEEKEND

Good luck to everyone I know running the London, Boston, New Jersey or Maryland marathons this weekend. You're all insane! (Takes one to know one.)

The iJAMMING! HITLIST
SPRING 2005

SINGLES...

RIPPING!

Spring is here and the music I'm playing reflects as much. Here's my compilation of should-be Singles and wanna-be Hits. No apologies for their shamelessly commercial nature. I've always loved pop music.

1) KIDS JUST WANNA DANCE – MANDA & THE MARBLES (Addison)
Shamelessly good-natured 90-second Holly & The Italians rip-off from increasingly derivative album Angels With Dirty Faces

2) I WANNA KNOW – THE ICICLES (MicroIndie)
And here's the real thing. Cheerful female-fronted power-pop from Grand Rapids group that echoes the best of Sleeper, the Shop Assistants, Transvision Vamp – and The Shirelles. Why is it not a Top 10 hit?

3) ALL ORDINARIES – SEKIDEN (MicroIndie)
Male version of the same genre, on the same label, from Brisbane band. Both these tracks can be downloaded via the label's web site – if you sign up to their Yahoo page. Do them that favor.

4) FOR YOU – APOCALYPSE (Cherry Red)
Sorry, mates (for the self-promotion): I didn't know we had it in us. Two minutes, twenty-six seconds that employs every trick in the pop canon. Available on Going Up In The World: Apocalypse 1982-83. Listen to 30-second MP3

5) CHAMPAGNE SUPERNOVA – MATT POND PA,
Exclusive closing track on Music From The OC: Mix 4 (WB). Lacks the epic drama of the original, but that works to its favor.

6) VERY LOUD – SHOUT OUT LOUDS (Capitol)
The well of Swedish rock talent refuses to run dry. Don't be deceived: 'Very Loud,'from the group's soon-come debut album (but available as part of a 3-track EP) is surprisingly mellow and terse, closer to the craze for post-punk than last year's trend for all things garage.

7) REVELATION OF LOVE – THE BLUE VAN (TVT)
Garage-psych highlight from Dutch band's otherwise often pedestrian The Art Of Rolling LP

8) CHICKEN PAYBACK – A BAND OF BEES (EMI)
So annoying a soul throwback you almost want to throw it out the window. Except you know you love it to bits. (The impending album Free The Bees, by the way, is consistently this good – but much deeper.)

9) MUSIC FOR A FOUND HARMONIUM – PENGUIN CAFÉ ORCHESTRA (Positiva)
Time to slow it down. 1984 album track heard for the first time on the chill-out 'Day CD' from the It's All Gone Pete Tong double soundtrack.

10) TREMELO – LISMORE (Cult-Hero)
The post-Portishead duo from Jersey titled their debut album We Could Connect or We Could Not. Sadly, too much does not connect. The opening track, however, does so admirably.

11) PAYOLA – IDC (Corsair)
Is that vocal sample - "I tell the DJ not to play/I make hits/Not the public" - from The Harder They Come? Doesn’t really matter. This hard funking disco dance anthem, set to the chord structure of 'I Feel Love' but with rock'n'roll guitar kicking the door down half way through, is sure to have the DJs playing it without any need of enforcement.

11) REZ/COWGIRL live - UNDERWORLD
Taken (long ago) from the sanctioned Bootleg Babies album at the Underworld live site, this 17-minute medley has Underworld, at a London homecoming show, kicking off 'Rez' with that immortal keyboard line in slow motion. The three and a half minutes it takes to reach normal speed is the length of most band's careers, but Underworld (interviewed here) are just getting going, and after it builds to its usual euphoric state - boosted by the crowd sound - and just when you think it can't get any more cosmic, the trio gradually mutate this greatest instrumental in techno history into its sister song, one of the greatest vocal tracks in techno history. Time it for the end of your speed work-out: you'll feel the endorphins kicking in as the music peaks. And you may just find yourself believing in God in the process.

ALBUMS: ADAPT OR DIE!

BUZZIN' FLY VOL. 2 – REPLENISHING MUSIC FOR THE MODERN SOUL COMPILED & MIXED BY BEN WATT (Astralwerks)

With the second in his Buzzin' Fly series, Ben Watt delivers a masterful mix of mostly uplifting, genuinely soulful house music for the dance floor. He also attempts to tell a story as he goes, though the narrative is more about the music than the few tracks with lyrics. Still, you'd have to be deaf as Frankie Wilde not to understand that the opener, 'Williamsburg Or Harlem' (written by Watt, spoken by Jennifer Valone), and the subsequent 'New York Style' (by Jerk House Connection) concern my city's post 9/11 rejuvenation. (Watt's own 'Pop A Cap In Yo' Ass,' which crops up much later, seems oddly out of place as a result.)

The core of the album celebrates inner-city rebirth set to an Afro-Latin house rhythm; the last few cuts get all romantic on yo' ass. The overall effect is one of the most subtly addictive mix CDs to have emerged in the last twelve months. And it is surely no coincidence that one of the last DJs left making mix albums that matter is a proven songwriter who'd previously spent fifteen years making pop-rock albums that mattered. As for whatever happened to Watt's former vehicle, Everything But The Girl, falling out of Buzzin' Fly's inner sleeve is a flier for their 14-song remix CD that explains it all: Adapt Or Die. That's a lesson Ben Watt mastered moons ago - and one that the other acts on this page may be wise to take on board.

WOULD-BE-GOODS – THE MORNING AFTER (Matinée)

Fans of French chansons, El Records, twee pop and female folk singers have long been in love with Jessica Griffin's Would-Be-Goods. Her delicately delivered vocals over bitter-sweet guitar pop songs are rendered all the more sublime by her band of highly experienced hands, who can list prior or present membership of Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, Headcoatees and Pipas between them. The best tracks are clustered in the middle, notably the French-sung guitar fuzz of 'Le Crocodile,' the femme fatale lyrics on 'Too Old,' and guitarist Peter Momtchiloff's 'What Adam And Eve Did Next.' It's been out six months already, but given that The Morning After is only Would-Be-Goods' fourth album in seventeen years, immediacy is clearly not an issue here.

WINE? Music does not get much more organic than this. And there's an evident French influence too. Enjoy this understated album with a quietly understated bottle of PONT NEUF
VIN DE PAYS DU GARD 'Agriculture Biologique' 2003

BLOC PARTY – SILENT ALARM (Vice)

The Bullshit Detector was operating at full capacity when this one came in. But Kele and company have me sold: Silent Alarm is perhaps the liveliest and most adventurous of all recent post-punk revivals. And while it makes no bones about its influences, it's reassuring just how original seems the overall result. Highlights come in fits and starts, usually where the three playing members' edgy dynamics create a sudden climax and Kele's vocals utter something memorable: "So fucking special" on 'Positive Tension,' "and your nose is bleeding" on Luno, and "we will not be the last" from 'Pioneers.' But the group prove themselves to be more than merely funked-up floor fillers: on 'Blue Light' and 'So Here We Are,' perfectly placed to break up the formula, they turn in the kind of tense ballads I'd like to be hearing from Interpol.

Much has been made of Bloc Party's political stance, as if that should be the exception rather than the norm, but it's surprisingly muted on Silent Alarm. The only song that's open in intent is 'The Price Of Gas,' which plays to the American audience with its choice of noun (what's wrong with the British word petrol?), plays to cliché with its chorus "we're going to win this war," and then, with its PiL-like vocal chants, over-plays its influence. That disappointment aside, the pace at which this quartet have progressed in a matter of mere months suggest that when the post-punk hangover hits, Bloc Party will likely have already sobered up, cleaned up and be leading us to the next destination.

HOT HOT HEAT – ELEVATOR (Sire)

…And Hot Hot Heat will probably be comatose on the sofa, having danced themselves into a stupor. Somebody needs to play the dumb party band, after all. Elevator is a shameless repetition of everything that rendered Make Up The Breakdown such a popular debut – angular guitar lines, yelping vocals, retro new wave keyboards, a positive ska influence (and that's a positive thing), plenty of painful high-end distortion and so many good tunes you almost wish they'd shut up already.

As vocalist Steve Bays confesses on the bio that for all their best efforts, "we ended up with … a heightened version of what we'd been doing from the beginning," but don't hold it against him. At least not this time around. Because while the exuberance is a little overbearing for someone on the wrong side of 40, and while there's a distinct lack of lyrical inspiration, there's also not a single dud among Elevator's 14 songs. Expect to hear 'Running Out Of Time,' 'Goodnight Goodnight,' 'You Owe Me An IOU' and 'Pickin' It Up' dominating every post-punk revivalist's Playlist over the next twelve months. Expect sales of the XTC back catalogue to soar commensurately. And in another two years, expect Hot Hot Heat either to Adapt or Die, because this music is unlikely to last a long time. But for now, just keep partying with them like it's 1979.

THE DISSOCIATIVES – THE DISSOCIATIVES (Astralwerks)

That newly self-imposed rule – don't read press releases 'till you've already heard the album - paid off again with Australian duo The Dissociatives. There's no way I would have enjoyed this beautifully upbeat electronic pop album half as much had I known that vocalist Daniel Johns had previously spent his (admittedly youthful) career wailing his guts out in Silverchair. It just goes to show that even the most annoying of grunge front men can grow up, mellow out and leave their angst behind. In other words, that they can adapt.

For The Dissociatives, 24-year old Johns – Mr. Natalie Imbruglia among his other claims to fame – teamed up with 38-year old Australian electronic music veteran Paul Mac. Between them they've conjured up something as sunny as the Sydney summer sky, full of lazy acoustic guitars, buoyant keyboards, soft beats and effortlessly casual choruses. When it slows up it can be cloying: 'Forever And A Day' is the reminiscent of ballads by The Christians. (Remember them?) But 'Thinking In Reverse' and 'Young Man, Old Man' would be great pop songs whatever their arrangement. And my personal favorite, the whistling instrumental 'Lifting The Veil From The Braille' is, like the best of Lemon Jelly, at once both ineffably cheesy and totally cool.

NEW ORDER – WAITING FOR THE SIREN'S CALL (WB)

Of course, if you're New Order, you need neither adapt nor die. You just carry on doing what you've always been doing because you're New Order and you don't give a fuck. Who else could get away with starting the album's first song with the lyric "Hey Joe, what you dong?" and the second song with the title line of 'Hey Now, what you doing?'

Fortunately, these and several others rank with the best of the group's pure pop music since they gave up experimenting in the mid-1980s. The single 'Krafty' is a work of immense beauty and the title track, 'Waiting For The Siren's Call,' is reminiscent of 'The Love Vigilantes' as performed by peak period Echo & The Bunnymen. Besides, if almost every new rock group on the planet is busy digging the post-punk gold-mine that Sumner, Morriss and Hook helped create in the first place, why should these middle-aged millionaires feel the need to think up new formulas?

Perhaps, I think in response, because at least a third of Waiting For The Siren's Call is distinctly disappointing, way below New Order's capabilities. The downtempo 'I Told You so' is less Leftfield than cod reggae. 'Jetstream' should have been abandoned in rehearsals, and the promising title 'Guilt Is A Useless Emotion' a dreadfully banal piece of techno-pop such as usually gets voted out of the Eurovision Song Contest at first opportunity.

But that's what iTunes is for. (And, you wonder, is New Order's own relaxed attitude to the music biz responsible for the flood of online MP3s full months before release date?) If ever an album deserved to be purchased as single tracks for less than the price of a full set, this is the one. And a memo for 'the kids' – Bloc Party, Hot Hot Heat, Killers, Franz Ferdinand and all the others who were barely born when Ian Curtis died: you only get the right to rest on your laurels when you have New Order's track record of originality.

FILM...

IT'S ALL GONE PETE TONG

Michael Dowse's movie – released in America this week - follows the story of fictional Ibiza-based Superstar DJ Frankie Wilde, who has gotten royally rich and totally fucked on a combination of Brandon Block's self-abuse with Paul Oakenfold's careerism. Presented as a pseudo-biopic, It's All Gone Pete Tong starts out pure slapstick satire, begging to be labeled 'Dance Music's Spinal Tap,' but soon settles into the less challenging genre of the romantic comedy. Paul Kaye (a vet of such totally Brit movies as Blowing It, Blackball and Spivs) walks a thin line as Frankie Wilde: he's superb when pumping the crowd up in the clubs (or, for that matter, pumping white powder up his nose), but not subtle enough for us to fully sympathize when he goes deaf – which necessitates, of course, the need to adapt. (Or die.) Still, both Kaye and the film are not without their tender and dark moments, and at the screening I attended, the audience was rapt in its attention throughout.

Brief cameos from DJs such as Carl Cox, Paul Van Dyk and, yes, Pete Tong himself, confirm that the dance music mafia can send themselves up, but it's the fictional stereotypes who actually make us laugh: the boring biographer sat at a paper-strewn desk, the upper crust London-based record company boss and, coming dangerously close to stealing the movie, the rapacious American manager Max Haggar (played with vigor by Mike Wilmot). Ultimately, though, it's hard not come away believing that the real star of the show is Ibiza itself, which director Michael Dowse captures both in all its diurnal natural beauty (those beaches! Those sunsets!) and all its nocturnal synthetic decadence. (Manumission! Amnesia! Pacha!) Book your summer holiday now. Just don't forget the earplugs.

BOOK...

DE LONG'S WINE AND GRAPE INDEXES

Some ideas are so obvious you can't believe they haven’t been exploited before. Steve and Deborah De Long's Wine and Grape Indexes is sold in conjunction with their Wine Grape Varietal Table, an interesting if slightly cumbersome poster that attempts to arrange 100+ wine grapes by weight and acidity. Put that on your wall as a talking point and stick the book in your pocket the next time you head to the restaurant or wine store. Then, when you're staring down a Puilly-Fumé alongside a Pouilly-Fuissé (the European custom being to simply print the appellation on the label), open the pocket book at the appropriately alphabetical page and you'll know which grapes are in which bottle. (Pouilly Fumé from the Loire is always Sauvignon Blanc, Pouilly Fuissé from Burgundy is always Chardonnay.)

Is such information necessary to enjoy a bottle of wine? Maybe not, but given that more people know their grapes than they do their regions, it's unarguably useful. And even those of us who think we know both are frequently left mystified by the percentages allowed into Rhône appellations or Chianti Classicos. Not only does the Wine And Grape Index answer these questions for us, it tells us more than we may ever need know - like that a bottle of Portugese Bairrada can include almost any combination of 17 grapes, most of which are never grown outside the country. But that's a problem for another day. For now, this is a Godsend.

FOOD...

SMART TREATS

I try to live vegan, but I'm as susceptible to sweet foods as the next person – and I make no apologies for occasionally grabbing a Snickers or a chocolate chip cookie to get me through the day. But with Smart Treat's food on hand, I can get all the sugar kick I need without the dairy that often leaves me feeling sickly. The North Carolina company's products began showing up at the Park Slope Food Co-Op around a year ago, and now fly off the shelves even quicker than granola. The cookies and cakes are food to die for (though, fortunately, not to kill for), but the highlight has to be the Chocolate Cup: the equivalent of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in terms of satisfaction but minus all the additives and creams. These are the foods that make others envy the lifestyle…

EXPERIENCE...

PODCASTING

I remember that feeling of astonishment the first time I heard a radio show live on the 'Net. And then the sense of freedom I experienced when I found a whole choice of them on iTunes. And then when the BBC got with the program and made all its music shows available for an entire week after broadcast, well... the only thing left to do was make radio "to go." And that's where Podcasting comes in. The Podcast allows me, for prime example, to listen to WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show any time of the day – and even on the subway. More importantly, it allows you to do the same. (Try it – you may get a new appreciation for American talk radio.) I found it somewhat apposite that the first time I took a Podcast for a walk I found myself listening to NPR's On The Media discuss the ongoing court case between Grokster and Universal – and was reminded how big business has already unsuccessfully fought the development of radio, television, and the video recorder long before the Internet came along. Our lives have been permanently changed (if not always for the better) by all these technological developments, and only Luddites – and Big Business – would attempt to halt their progress. In the immortal words of the Soup Dragons, don't be afraid of your freedom...

THURSDAY APRIL 14

THE SKY'S THE LIMIT?

It's not everyday that iJamming! Pub members are quoted in the New York Times, and to be honest Mat GarretsonMr. Viognier – has not popped into our online drinking hole for a while. But there he was in yesterday's Times, having the last word in a piece about how Californian wines are reaching ever more astronomical heights of alcohol. "I'm just trying to make the best wines I can from the area," he says, an honorable comment if there ever was. It just so happens that in the process, his wines – exclusively made from Rhône varietals - are among the most powerful in the world, with some of the reds coming close to 17% in alcohol.

Mat Garretson "earnestly believes The Style Council was the greatest band ever." His wines are anything but wimpy. This 2002 Syrah is 16.7% alcohol.

As The Times' Eric Asimov rightly points out in a long overdue article, this may sound like only a three-four per cent increase over other wines, but a 17% Syrah is 40% more alcoholic than a 12% Syrah from the northern Rhône. I tasted the Garretson 2002 Syrah 'Aisling' at the T Edward Wines Spring tasting the other week and have to admit that it was remarkably well balanced; you wouldn't have guessed it packed 16.7% alcohol. But at the same time, Garretson's entry level white – a blend of Roussanne and Viognier – was way too heady to be drunk without powerful food to soften its punch, and his off-dry Viognier is almost 16%.

Andrew Murray, another producer of Rhône varietals, but from down in the cooler Santa Barbara County, confesses, "The old concept, my wife and I can split a bottle of wine with dinner, is no longer true." I agree. In fact, you end up punch drunk just trying to enjoy a single glass with dinner. I've been learning from recent experience (as with the current Seghesio Zinfandel, for example) to generally avoid these high-alcohol Californian wines. It's interesting that my most enjoyable Californian red wine of late was the Cabernet Sauvignon from Eberle that came in at a respectable 13.5%; it's equally interesting that it hails from the same territory as Garretson's wines, Paso Robles. What gives? Maybe a trip to the region is in order. In the meantime, the Times piece makes fascinating reading.


WEDNESDAY APRIL 13

PHOTO DAY

1) SUPERMUM!

It's taken almost a month to convince Posie we should share this picture. (She's the modest type.) It was taken at 3.22 on the morning of March 15, after we got back from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Dinner. You can see that, after a night of shiny silvery dresses, fancy black coats and all-round glamour, it was back to life, back to reality – and in a big way. In one hand, the breast pump, expressing Noel's milk that had built up over the evening (it went straight down the drain, as she'd had some wine); in the other, Campbell's school report card, which had arrived that afternoon but which we had yet to examine. Posie was up within two hours to feed the baby...


2) SUPERBABY!

What the hell: here's a picture of Noel, too. He seems to find his dad hilarious, by the way: he only has to look at me to start laughing. Campbell thinks it's because we have the same (lack of) haircut.


3) SUPERJAMIE!

And in what I hope is only an occasional series of iJamming! readers creating their own Being John Malkovich moments, here's iJamming! Pub Regular and all-round good guy SheffieldJamie inside Frank Sidebottom's head. Frank was once in The Freshies, who had a hit with 'I'm In Love With The Girl on The Manchester Virgin Megastore Checkout Desk…' (That title, subsequently amended to avoid the notion of advertising, was perhaps beaten only in the course of music history by The Freshies' 'I Can't Get Bouncing Babies By The Teardrop Explodes...' Unless you can think of something better, of course.)


TUESDAY APRIL 12

BALDIES OF THE WORLD UNITE!

Thanks to Kevin B for sending me this item out of Sunday's Independent.

"Millions of tons of dandruff are circling the Earth, blocking out sunlight, causing rain and spreading disease, startling new research shows."

His subject header: "Just as well you shaved your head." I agree. I'd hate to be doing anything to add to global warming: I spout enough hot air as is.


BLOC PARTY ROCK THE BOWERY

Q: If it's worth paying $150 or more for a good ticket to see Madonna, The Eagles and the Rolling Stones in an arena or stadium, is it worth paying $200 to see Bloc Party at the Bowery Ballroom? One person at Thursday's New York City show thought so. How do we know? According to brooklynvegan, who attended the gig,

"Kele (singer) asked the crowd who paid the most to get in. Someone in the front screamed $200. He gave them his laminated pass and asked him/her to sell it on E-bay to recoup some of that loss."

… After he/she used it to gain free entry back at the Bowery on Friday, I hope.

(Q: If we can justify making millionaires like Madonna/The Eagles/the Rolling Stones, along their promoters – usually Clear Channel – yet more wealthy by meeting their asking price for tickets, can we justify making scalpers rich too? Personally, I don't justify either. By the way, and for what it's worth, the writer I hooked up with on Thursday at the FischerSpooner party RETURNED his press ticket for Bloc Party because he didn't get a plus one and had already promised to hang with me…)


GREEN DAY PAINT THE TOWN RED

There's something about rock stars at the top of their game: they can't stay home. Give Green Day credit for playing the game all it's worth. Early last week they announced their summer show at Giants Stadium. Yes, Giant effing Stadium, a venue at which I've previously only witnessed The Who, Depeche Mode and several 1994 World Cup matches. The announcement was perfectly timed, given that Green Day immediately hit the city to rehearse for and perform on Saturday Night Live. Brooklyn Vegan reports the presence of Billy Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnst at Bloc Party's block-rocking after-party at Piano's. (He accidentally calls the bassist "the most conceited, down-to-earth, guy you'll ever meet." It has to be one or the other – and I think he means the latter.)

Green Day's Billy Joe Armstrong (wearing a Clash bomber jacket) chatting with Bob Gruen at the Apple Store, Friday night. Personally, I like the guy on the right: not only is he brandishing his Factory credentials with the Edie t-shirt, but he's so cool he can close his eyes while posing for the cameras....

Bob Gruen's beautiful book of Clash photos is available online for just $20.

From my viewpoint, singer-guitarist Billy Joe Armstrong hogged the flash bulbs when he sat front row for Bob Gruen's digital slide show retrospective at the Apple Store in Soho Friday night. Mind you, Billy was hardly the only famous face in the room, which was filled to overflowing: as the venue finally cleared, I saw that seats had been reserved for Debbie Harry and Lenny Kaye among other New York luminaries. Give Gruen credit for championing the underdog if not necessarily good taste: he twice cited Jesse Malins as New York's most talented rising star.
And give Gruen credit for his illustrious career. When I was doing the photo research for my Moon book, I visited his studio and went through dozens upon dozens of contact sheets of Who photos. Over the course of his two hour show at the Apple Store, Bob showed and discussed his famous pictures of John Lennon, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Blondie, The Clash, The Rolling Stones, Green Day and many, many more – and never even got round to mentioning The Who.

Gruen's latest book of photos – on The Clash – is available in America now.


BRIXTON 2 DA BRONX

Those of you who've visited Cherry Red's new releases page to order your Apocalypse CD – yes, both of you – may have noticed that we share a place on the label's schedule with Paul Simonon's post-Clash band Havana 3am, whose one and only album will be re-released this month. Simonon was, I think people have come to realize, the soul of The Clash – and if that's in any dispute, it surely can't be argued that his 'Guns Of Brixton' has been the most sampled Clash song of them all. Latest example: a mash-up with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's 'The Message,' as played on The Blue Room the Sunday before last. You can read more about this song and the rest of the Clash catalogue in my new book, The Essential Guide To The Music Of The Clash.


SNOBNESSABOUNDS

'Course I'm hardly the only music journalist out there who once played in a band. Orange Juice drummer Steven Daly not only achieved some genuine fame in his formative career, but has become an A-List magazine writer since moving to New York in the 80s: he regularly brown-noses, I mean interviews, the biggest names in the entertainment world for Vanity Fair. That might explain why his book projects are so depressingly low-brow. Not content with co-writing Alt. Culture: An A-To-Z Guide to the '90S-Underground, Online, and Over-The-Counter (which did its part to ensure that alt. Culture did not stay underground any longer), he's now at least half responsible for the Rock Snob*s Dictionary: An Essential Lexicon of Rockological Knowledge. Essential? Check the newly-launched web site and tell me you can't live without it.


FAME FAME FATAL FAME

Once you're done there, in about 30 seconds, head over to mtv.com where Jem Aswad convinced his employers to let him query the nominating process behind the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I tackled the subject here a couple of weeks back, but because no one was paying me for it, did not do as Aswad, which was to pick up the phone and get some quotes. Aswad interviews two bitchy members of the Nominating Committee who insist on anonymity, but also gets Nominating Committee members Dave Marsh and Bud Scoppa (both journalists) on the record, along with the Hall of Fame's President Seymour Stein, and Executive Director Suzy Evans. All those who would be identified deny wrong-doing, of course. Jem doesn't properly clarify that the Nominating Committee has placed the names of The Sex Pistols, Patti Smith and Black Sabbath on the ballot on several occasions; instead, he intimates, as subtly as he can do given that his employers broadcast the ceremony every year, that certain people may want to keep certain musicians out of the Hall Of Fame, whether or not they receive enough votes. My question to Jem (a good friend, I should note) and those on the Nominating Committee: Surely the counting of the 750-odd ballots is a relatively transparent process and can be clarified for the cynical press? After all, the Board Of Directors includes such powerhouse progressives as Stein, Jon Landau and Jann Wenner. Is it really being suggested that these people would do anything as undemocratic as to rig an election?


FAME FAME FATAL FEMME FATALE

That French chanson thing may be a proper movement, after all. (I expressed my cynicism last week.) Came across the online 'zine Chickfactor, which digs deeper into the culture than the recent fluff pieces in the Voice and The Times – and which fully recognizes the irony of interviewing Keren Ann at a New York bar called Café Gitane. I like what Keren had to say about the differences between New York and Paris:

"normally in new york if you need to have information, it's either yes or no, but at least you know. in paris, it's "we'll see." second time, "we'll see." and it can last forever."


BUT JUST IN CASE YOU WERE THINKING OF MOVING HERE…

Sunday's New York Times reported on what seemed like an April Fool's Joke… Except it wasn't. A town house in Brooklyn Heights went on sale, on April 1, at the knockdown price of… $20,000,000. The owners bought it in 1999 for… $2,000,000. Talk about a quick profit....

Anyone want to buy my house? It's the same size. You can have it for just ten mill… And I'll throw in the Brooklyn Bridge while I'm at it.

I'll let you know when common sense resumes…


MONDAY APRIL 11

Springtime In Brooklyn:
A sunny Sunday on 5th Avenue


DINE TIME

Today sees the start of the Dine In Brooklyn promotion, which lasts until April 20. Apart from the fact that it's endorsed by Borough President Marty Markowitz, who's high on my Shitlist these days, it's a great concept for a city that's rapidly rivaling Manhattan in the food stakes. It works as follows:

"In the spirit of the World Champion Brooklyn Dodgers" (baseball heroes of 1955, long since transplanted to California), a number of restaurants are offering 3-course meals with "no attitude on the side" for the price of, you guessed it, $19.55. That's good value by anybody's standards.

It's not exactly easy for us to get out as a family what with a restless 9-year old and a nursing 3-month old, but we're planning on checking out one or two of the new Park Slope eateries and returning to some of our favorite dining establishments over the next ten days. On the list of those we know and love? Blue Ribbon and Rose Water, both so good I'll take any excuse – especially low prices - to go back there. On our wish list of those we've yet to try? Minnow, Scottadito, and Tempo. Among those highly recommended by others but too meaty for me: Applewood, Belleville and Stone Park Café. And among the participating restaurants I can recommend, to varying degrees, from past experience: Bistro St. Mark's, Bonnie's Grill, Cocotte, Long Tan, Press 195 and Red Café here in the Slope; Patois on Smith Street in Carroll Gardens; Stone Home Wine Bar in Fort Greene; and Oznot's Dish in Williamsburg. (Don't hold it against Oznot's: they've been their longer than the hipsters.)


Springtime In Brooklyn:
A sunny Sunday on 5th Avenue


For some reason – and I can't quite put my finger on it – I've been eating out a lot of late. A quick summary about two other places I've recently visited on top of those I've already reviewed:


CHANCE, Smith Street, between Butler and Douglas, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn:

The name is more clever than it initially seems, given that the food is a mix of Chinese and French. Does that sound like style over content? Not necessarily: rather than fuse the two nation's cuisines into every dish, the concept seems to be to serve high-end offerings of each.
I had vegetarian dim sum, followed by Asian noodles with vegetables in a tomato sauce. Actually, what I ordered was a carrot-ginger soup for starters, followed by the dim sum, but the waiter – who did not have the excuse of speaking any other language than American - didn't understand me, and brought the dim sum first. Rather than go backwards with my food, I upgraded to the full entrée.

The appetizer was superlative, really excellent and imaginative, with all kinds of delightful mushrooms and tofus and cheeses in the dumplings, but there was a problem with the main course: I couldn't see any vegetables. I was told they'd been puréed into the sauce, but I couldn't taste them either. It's safe to say I was disappointed, all the more so as I can cook up any kind of pasta in tomato sauce at home. My dining partner, meanwhile, was greatly enamored of his seared foie gras appetizer and his main course of pork accurately called Miss Piggy. I've learned over two decades of abstention from meat not to lecture others but I found both dishes repulsive. The wine list is well-suited to spicy food, with Riesling, Pinot Blanc, and Sauvignon Blanc all available by the glass. Sadly but not atypically, the more interesting wines are only available by the bottle. Chance is well-named: it couldn't get away with being called Certainty.


Springtime In Brooklyn:
A sunny Sunday on 5th Avenue


COUNTER, 1st Avenue between 6th and 7th Sts, East Village.

No such problems for me at Counter. There's no meat on the menu, and very little dairy: there's also quite a few 'raw food' choices for the hardcore. Wines are organic or near-as, with plenty of biodynamic options for the equally hardcore. The list is extensive, covering almost the whole planet, and many of those wines are available by the glass.

Sounds like my kind of place, right? Right. Every morsel of food was delectable, from the cubed bread pieces that arrived gratis through our shared scallion pancakes appetizer and on to my own chick pea paella, which was topped by a stuffed artichoke so tender it was, just this once, possible to eat the actual leaves as well as the flesh. My companions seemed just as satisfied with their own dishes, especially the cauliflower/mushroom risotto. Our bottle of Gruner Veltliner (described below) was an appropriate and interesting choice for the mix of food. Service was spectacular, with the staff showing wonderful patience to, and true interest in, my friend's rather uncooperative two year old. And that dilemma itself was eased by the option of sitting up front of the restaurant on lounge chairs overlooking the street.

If you're waiting for the caveat, there is one: price. When I first heard of Counter, I imagined an East Village eaterie typical of when I lived in the 'hood: a cheap and cheerful vegan joint with the added bonus of good wine by the glass. Not so: Counter is, in all regards, a high-end, high-price establishment for well-off Manhattanites. My share of the meal – effectively one main course, one-third of an appetizer, and one third of a bottle of wine – came to $32. Yes, it was pure class, but that's more than I like to pay for all but special occasions. That, I suppose, is gentrification for you. And that's why I'll be taking advantage of the Dine In Brooklyn promotion before our own neighborhood becomes equally prohibitive.


(Have you frequented any of these restaurants? Want to offer your own recommendations for fine food, especially at fine prices? Know of a good place for wine by the glass? It doesn't have to be in New York: iJamming! has readers all over the world. Sign up at the iJamming! pub, pour yourself a drink and let us in on the know.)

Springtime In Brooklyn:
A sunny Sunday on 5th Avenue


SHOUT IT OUT LOUD

Are we allowed to break out the champagne on a Monday morning? Just received the finished Apocalypse CDs in the mail and there's no way this isn't one of the happiest days of my life. It's hard to explain in mere words - even for a verbose writer like myself - quite what it means to hold a professional compilation CD of your old band, complete with full-color booklet and bonus video, in your hands, some 25 years and 4 months after playing your first gig as a trio of 15-year olds, but those of you who also devoted your teens to the pursuit of the rock'n'roll dream may at least have an inkling…


APRIL 18, 2005: THE FIRST EVER APOCALYPSE CD.

"I always figured the Apocalypse boys would tap me to write these sleeve notes. I just didn't think it would take them twenty years to do so. See, there was a moment back there – when the songs were taking shape and the confidence was starting to build - that you'd have bet good money on the South London boys making the big time. Instead, Apocalypse fell apart as its key members turned twenty, in 1984, with just two singles behind them, and still one gig short of a century. But here we are, two decades later, and the boys - middle-aged men, now, like me – have finally compiled the album they might have released in 1983, had anyone offered them the opportunity to do so. You ought to be glad."

GOING UP IN THE WORLD includes:
The 1982 Jamming! single 'Teddy'/'Release' produced by Paul Weller
The 1983 Jamming! 12" recording of 'Teddy' and 'Home Of The Brave' produced by Dale Griffin/Overend Watts
Demo recordings of 'Going Up In The World,' 'The Other Side Of Midnight,' 'Nobody But Me,' 'Alice,' 'For You,' 'Open Your Eyes' and 'Sorry Mate.'
The Mad Professor mixes of 'People' and 'Dolcie.'
'Don't Stop 2005' – a new recording set to a retrospective video.
Four-page sleeve notes
Three-page full colour timeline
15 songs, over one hour of music, just £9.95
Apocalypse: Tony Fletcher, Jeff Carrigan, Chris Boyle, Tony Page, Kevin Bagnall
Pre-order from Cherry Red Records here, or from amazon.co.uk here


2005 MUSINGS:

April 4-10: Twenty wine reviews, FischerSpooner, KEXP, Loveless, Rockin' & Shockin'
Mar 28-April 3: Loathsome! Daft! Human! Overload! Rockin' & Shockin'
Mar 21-27: The Go! Team live, Ian Brown dead, Pont Neuf wine, Hall Of Fame rules, Cocotte restaurant, Marilyn Monroe/Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibitions
Mar 14-20: The March Hitlist, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Dinner report,
Mar 7-13
: Bouillabaisse 126 restaurant review; Going Up In The World; Dandy Mama; Tim Booth
Feb 21-Mar 6: Live reviews: Ian Brown, Schizo Fun Addict, Soft Explosions, The Stands. Wine review: Langhorne Creek Selkirk Shiraz.
Feb 14-20: Ten Words Of Wisdom, Weblinks, Stone Roses demos, Lyceum revisited, Bandol wine review
Feb 7-13: Fanzines, Village Voice Pazz & Jop Poll, Chord & Tabs, The Plug Awards, Tear Down The Discos, Jean Lallement Champagne review
Jan 31-Feb 6: Erasure/Tim Booth/M83/T.H. White album reviews. WebFriends Day. The Jam vs. The Smiths vs. The USA, Iraq elections
Jan 24-30: Chemical Brothers/Lemon Jelly/Slits album reviews. Ted Leo/Benzos live reviews. Gang of Four/Specials/Happy Mondays/Farm/Bureau reunions. Tempranillo wine reviews.
Jan 17-23: The January Hitlist: Those That Almost Got Away, Revolutions, Remixes, Remisses, Justin Timberlake, Fiery Furnaces, Jimmy Edgar live
Jan 10-16: Tsunami observations/relief efforts/fund-raisers, Best Wines of 2004, British vs. American charts, Alba Chambourcin wine review
Jan 3-9: The Best Of 2004 - Albums and Singles; Biggest Disappointments of 2004; Minutes of A Miracle: Our Son Noel; New York Club Nights

2004 MUSINGS ARE LISTED HERE
2003 MUSINGS ARE LISTED HERE
2002 MUSINGS ARE LISTED HERE
:


iJamming! Site Copyright Tony Fletcher 2005