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WHAT'S NEW IN iJAMMING!...

THE SPRING HITLIST
Albums, singles, a movie, a book, food and more...

THE IJAMMING! INTERVIEW
Mick Jones on Joe Strummer

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 Tribute

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.

NEW RELEASES... NEW WEB PAGES...

Going Up In The World: Apocalypse 1982-83 available through amazon.co.uk, Cherry Red, amazon.com and at all good record stores.

APOCALYPSE WEB PAGES now online
Sample the songs, watch the video, listen to the sleevenotes, view the scrapbook.
Plus: 'Don't Stop 1983' MP3. Go!

The Clash: The Complete Guide To Their Music available online through amazon.co.uk, and at all good UK bookstores.

CLASH PAGES now online
Read excerpts from the book. Plus: Mick Jones interview. Go!

You are invited...

Wednesday May 4
HAPPY ENDING BAR

302 Broome St
between Forsyth and Eldridge
(Mapquest) 8pm

As part of the Happy Ending Music & Reading Series – "where even the stories climax" – Daniel Robert Epstein of the Suicide Girls site will interview Tony Fletcher about the stories behind his novel Hedonism. He will also interview Neil Swaab about his brilliant cartoon series Mr. Wiggles. These interviews will last 15 minutes and take place onstage. The evening will begin and end with a three-song set by Oren Bloedow, of Elysian Fields.

The Happy Ending Music & Reading Series is hosted by author Amanda Stern, who describes them as "notoriously fun and spontaneous." The fun starts at 8pm, ends by10pm. Admission is free.

This will also be our first iJamming! Pub night out. Regular readers/Pub members are invited to come and meet each other; we can take the party elsewhere when the Happy Ending event finishes. More information here.

FRIDAY APRIL 29

49 IS THE NEW 21

"It's a poor substitute for gigging and I can't imagine why someone would go to a club and have someone aged 49 playing records but it keeps me young and it's a good laugh."

Peter Hook, The Guardian

If you didn't get a ticket for New Order's New York concert next Thursday – being their first show in this city in about 300 years, it sold out in all of 12 minutes– and you're willing to accept "poor substitutes," then Peter Hook will apparently be DJing in the Hiro Ballroom at the Maritime Hotel later that night. Also on the bill: Shawn Christenson from Stellastarr*. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 on the night. Anyone here actually witnessed Hookie's DJing in the flesh?

The quote up top is from the Guardian of almost three months ago, in which Peter Hook sat down with the members of Bloc Party and offered them sage advice from someone who's been there, done that and whose daughter still says "Dad, you're never going to grow up." It was part of a bunch of newspaper cuttings sent me by Sheffield Jamie that I'm afraid I've only just got round to perusing. Still, a good quote never goes out of date, and I have to print this one from Peter Hook too, which I'm sure will resonate with all the ageing rock stars among you:

"The funny thing about being in a group is you start out as friends, become bitter enemies…. Then money rears its ugly head, you waste it and then you become friends again."

New Order are coming to New York from their appearance at the Coachella festival this weekend. I had made noises about heading out to California for the event – I'd really like to go one year - but couldn't justify the expense, especially this year with the baby and everything. I'm not too unhappy about it now: two of the acts I'd have most looked forward to seeing – The Doves and Cocteau Twins – have pulled out. As for the other big names, I'm just going to have to start showing my age and note that I've already seen them on the festival stage: I fondly remember New Order headlining a typically rain-soaked Reading Festival in 1989, and Nine Inch Nails stealing the first Lollapalooza in - help me out here - 1991?

Likewise, if you saw Oasis do the mega Knebworth shows back in '96 at the absolute peak of their success – and face up to it, about half the British record buying public was there – then the idea of seeing them headline the V Festival this summer, almost a full decade later, lacks for excitement. And, of course if you saw Ian Brown anywhere in America this year, the prospect of watching him headline the second stage at V on the same night is even less enticing. (I note that Ian Brown has also been booked to headline a smaller, supposedly low-key festival in the West Country. Don't these promoters ever get feedback from each other on what to expect?) The other main headliners at V are Scissor Sisters, which is wonderful for everyone who could hardly see a thing when they were the star attraction at last summer's V Festival while still halfway down the bill on the NME stage, but it's a typically commercial choice all the same.

And all of this is a shame, because I had the blast of my life at V last year (with Sheffield Jamie and a bunch of other people some of whom show up in the iJamming! Pub now and then) and I'd like to go back this year. But I do want the music to be worth the travel. And unfortunately, living on the east coast where festivals appear to be doomed, travel is always going to be part of the equation.


OK, this is just plain weird.....

HAPPY ENDINGS Pts 1 and 2?

I love coincidences. But this one borders on the bizarre. Next Wednesday, May 4, at 8pm, I'll be participating in a reading series at a karaoke bar and former massage parlor in China Town called Happy Ending. An hour beforehand – that would be at 7pm - my former neighbor and former member of the band Home, Andrew Deutsch, is celebrating release of the debut album by his new act, Disbelief Street. The album is called, believe it or not, Happy Endings, and given that it was recorded with a friend in Florida and that live shows are therefore not part of the equation, it's being launched as a series of karaoke videos at a .... karaoke bar, Winnie's, in China Town… all of a few hundred yards from Happy Ending. Confused? I certainly am. If this synchronicity is just a little too weird for you and you don't want to join me in joining Andrew for fear of having too many happy endings in one night, you can watch the karaoke videos online already, at somewonderstuff.com/disbeliefstreet.


HAPPY ENDINGS Part 3

If you read books and don't necessarily like happy endings - and if you know why a massage parlour would be called Happy Ending to begin with - then this is definitely a proper segue. Another friend, who goes by the writing name McCutcheon, is putting together a book of short stories entitled Sex Drugs and Rock and Roll Never Go Out of Style. He's looking for possible contributors with suitably decadent offerings. Find details here. FHAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME…


41 IS THE NEW 21

Well, at least my wife, my mother and my mother-in-law remembered it was my birthday on Wednesday. But then that's what happens once you hit your forties: you'd as soon forget! I celebrated the occasion, if that's the right word for being of an age when you get a question mark candle on your cake, by reading Stuart Maconie's Cider With Roadies, listening to Faith Brothers, watching The Incredibles (for the first time) on DVD (and I loved it), drinking an absolutely superb Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône 2001 and gorging on one of the best chocolate mousse cakes I've ever had in my life. (Not all at the same time, I should note.) It was just myself and Campbell doing the celebrating, given that it's his spring break and we headed upstate for a few days. Compared to last year's big 4-0, it was a considerably less social affair. On the other hand, the lack of debilitating two-day hangover was vastly more attractive. Such are the choices we are faced with in what I hate to type out as middle age.


WEDNESDAY APRIL 27

RED HOOK: WINING CATS AND DOGS

The web site for The Hook, a rock club in Red Hook, proudly announces that "it is a social frontier," and that "the neighborhood provides a clean slate for those who look to forge their own scene."

And it's true: Red Hook is maybe the last part of Brooklyn waiting to be fully occupied, let alone gentrified. Physically cut off from the rest of the borough when Robert Moses allowed the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to rise along its eastern borders, economically decapitated by the collapse of its docking industry, Red Hook has long been known across New York (if acknowledged at all) for a vast and troubled housing project of the same name, and for the football matches that bring hundreds of predominantly Latin American players to its many fields every weekend. My old team Nags Head United often played there, a trek that entailed commandeering our lone car and a couple of taxis: Red Hook is, among its other deprivations, famously non-served by subway.

LeNell's in Red Hook: Bordered by an empty lot...

...And bulging inside with bourbon

Still, I've always found it worth the trip. The architecture – cobbled streets, vast warehouses, old train lines and docks - make for stunning vistas, and there's no closer view to be had of Lady Liberty within the five boroughs. And progress over recent years has been both solid and steady. We've seen the Beard Street warehouse become a humming center for small businesses, while housing the twice-annual Brooklyn Working Arts Collective shows. We've watched The Barge promote live music, the splendid Pier from which people not only fish for their dinner, but can also launch kayaks and canoes into New York Harbor from the beach alongside, and we've observed the battles over a prospective Fairway supermarket and Ikea megastore, the latter of which now looks certain to be built, bringing Red Hook much needed jobs and visitors, along with less desirable but inevitable street-choking traffic.

Unsurprisingly, there's also been an increasing number of young people move into the neighborhood; those who can afford them are even buying up the potentially attractive houses scattered haphazardly along the cobbled streets, while they remain under a million dollars. And with these pioneers come, inevitably, new businesses to serve them: clubs like The Hook, bars like B61, cheerful eateries like Schnack, and more upmarket bistros like 360 and La Bouillabaisse.

It was only time before someone added a boutique wine and spirits store to the mix and, suitably enough for a neighborhood currently enjoying a last gasp of wild west-style freedom before the big money moves in, LeNell's, at 416 Van Brunt St, looks like it's arrived straight from the set of Deadwood. A bath tub full of gin bottles dominates the front window. An antique glass cabinet heaves under the weight of ancient liquor bottles in varying states of emptiness. A vast hutch boasts what the store claims is the largest selection of bourbon in the City. There's an impressive number of tequilas and rums. Copies of a Sex Guide To New York City are on sale. And somewhere amidst this provocatively ribald collection of hardcore liquor and hardcore New York, there are several shelves and cupboards full of wine.

Taking a gin bath in the shop window...

The woman behind this madness is Tonya LeNell Smothers, who arrived in New York from the southern State of Georgia determined to make a career out of drink; after just a few years in wine distribution and retail she decided to open her own store. LeNell chose Red Hook not just because she saw that the new community needed such a store and surmised it would likely encourage her eccentricities, but because it was the only such neighborhood where she and her partner could also afford to buy a house and lay down permanent roots.

When I met LeNell, at a dinner a couple of months back, I asked how she arranged her wine – because small stores never now catalogue their inventory by country, but by grape or weight or some such device. "Well," she replied, "we have a section for cats, and one for dogs." She wasn't joking: when I checked out the store last Saturday, I found an entire shelf sub-divided into bottles that feature cats on the label, and another that feature, yes, canines.

This can be dismissed as mere novelty: it's hard to take 'Cats Phee on A Gooseberry Bush' seriously (even if that is a well-known description of Sauvignon Blanc), let alone a bottle designed in the actual shape of a feline. But when it comes to dogs, Louis-Dressner has a series of highly-regarded Buster cuvees, and Vinum's 'Pets' Petite Sirah has been acclaimed not just for its contents but for donating profits to animal shelters.

Wine for pussies...

...And for top dogs.

Where humans are concerned, LeNell's has one shelf for wine by people of color, and another for women wine-makers. The former is limited right now one Californian and one South African producer (surely there must be more?); the latter could fill several small stores, given how many young women have taken over the production side of their father's business both across Europe and the New World. One prominent example might be Sybille Kuntz from the Mosel in Germany, whose divine (and deep-rooted) Rieslings I tasted at the recent T Edward tasting. So did LeNell, who promptly ordered up the 2002 Kuntz Estate Riesling Trocken, a bargain at $16.

LeNell herself was not in the store when I showed up, working instead on improvements at her new abode. Her assistant, however, was every bit as chatty – which may be down to her own Tennessee background. I was offered and accepted a sip of the day's free tasting – a slightly sweet fizzy Clairette de Die from a forgotten corner of the Rhône. I declined the left-overs from Friday night's Earth Day tasting: organic and bio-dynamic vodkas and gins. Likewise I chose not to purchase, at least for today, any of the Slovenian wines (including a Late Harvest Gamay), nor the semi-sweet Georgian red (that's Georgia in Europe, not of the deep south), nor the lone Barolo, Condrieu or Cote Rotie in stock. What I did buy, as well as the Kuntz and the Vinum, was a bottle of Chenin Blanc from India – yes, India - of which I've already read positive reviews, and the Big Tattoo white produced by Two Brothers, in honor of their deceased mother and the profits of which go to cancer research. Paying for my selection, I was asked if I myself had a tattoo. Showing it promptly procured me a discount. All I needed was Calamity Jane waving her whiskey bottle in my face on the way out, calling me 'Cocksucker' by way of affection, and my trip to the Wild West would have been complete.

Fully aware that a liquor store does its best business when people are already drinking, LeNell's is open until midnight, seven nights a week. Those who come in search of mass-produced, painfully inexpensive wines and moonshines are sent to the store down the street known for its perplex windows all around the inventory, a survivor from the days when Red Hook was truly deadly as Deadwood.


MONDAY APRIL 25

ERASUREGASMS!

If there's a sight any more camp than that of Andy Bell, dressed in nothing but blue lame Y-fronts and gold high-heels, blowing glitter out of his hands while singing 'Blue Savannah,' then my name's Eartha Kitt.

Here I Go Over The Top Again


Yes, the Erasure circus is back in NYC – for a record-breaking ten-night stint at Irving Plaza, which ends later this week - and on Friday night, given an unexpected invitation from an old friend who ended up marrying into the band, Posie and I booked a sitter and went out together sans Noel for only the third time since he was born. After all, Erasure put on one of those shows at which a good time is not just guaranteed, it's required. How could we possibly say no?

The duo's best singles may be behind them, and Other People's Songs may have ranked with Paul Weller's Studio 150 as one of the least inspired covers album of recent years. But the new Nightbird is a marked return to form. Besides, you have to be seriously churlish (or perhaps just rockist) not to appreciate that Vince Clarke is one of the greatest pop songwriters and arrangers of the last 25 years. As for Andy Bell, well…


Highlights:

  • Andy Bell in angels' wings

  • Vince Clarke delivering the rap to an otherwise listless 'Rapture,' down a telephone microphone, in the most deadpan voice this side of Stephen Wright.

  • The two backing singers, playing the sort of supporting actress roles for which they award Oscars.

  • Vince Clarke wearing a propeller on his head

  • Andy Bell in a blue Elvis suit

    Andy Bell returns to sender

  • The audience: every band should wish to have a crowd this loud.

  • Andy Bell's hairless chest. (Is he Brazilian all over?)

  • Vince Clarke's gold lamé suit replete with bow-tie for the second half of the show

  • During 'A Little Respect,' the wind billowing under the girls' dresses as per Marilyn Monroe in… why do I always forget which film that is?

  • Vince Clarke getting 300 different sounds out of one Roland JP 8000

  • Andy Bell pirouetting as a music box figurine during 'Stop'

  • Vince Clarke's acoustic guitar – a lovely juxtaposition to all the synth sounds.

  • Andy Bell unzipping his Elvis jacket during 'Chorus' to reveal a belly the size of the King's.

  • The pacing: starting with ballads, many from the new album, knowing that the crowd knew too that the uptempo hits would come later.

  • The entire crowd singing with Andy the opening lines to 'Oh l'Amour.'

  • No extended remixes or live jams: These were the three-four minute renditions.

  • The typically straight-faced Vince allowing himself a massive grin when Andy came over to introduce him.

  • Andy Bell protecting his private parts with pink feather fans.

From the sublime to the ridiculous

(Andy actually used that term onstage!)

Downpoints?

Just a few. For all the careful pacing, I never felt that the show fully climaxed, despite a finale that included more hits than Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano. ('A Little Respect,' 'Chains Of Love,' 'Chorus,' 'Blue Savannah,' 'Always,' 'Victim of Love,' and 'Oh L'Amour'… it's enough to cause indigestion.) The 'school disco' element, perhaps unavoidable when so many songs have such a congregational quality. And the crowd, which was more mainstream than Erasure once commanded. Do I mean that it was less gay than I anticipated? Yes, but it was also considerably younger, and that's got to be a good thing. After all, classic pop music – truly classic pop music – can usually be determined by how much it impacts on future generations. Erasure have already passed that test. And they'll also be remembered for live shows that rewrote the rules. Everyone should have a little respect.
The same, sadly, appears to hold true of M83It's not like me to be mute about a live show, but it's a week today since I went to see M83 and Ulrich Schnauss at the Bowery Ballroom

2005 MUSINGS:

April 18-24: Rockin' & Shockin', M83/Ulrich Schnauss live, NJ Marathon, Ribolla Gialla wine
April 11-17: The Spring Hitlist, Springtime In Brooklyn, Restaurant Reviews, Supermom!
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
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iJamming! Site Copyright Tony Fletcher 2005