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WHAT'S NEW IN iJAMMING!...

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

FEATURED WINES:
AZAGADOR
LA MANCHA, Spain, 2002
HERDADE DO ESPORAÕ
VINHA DE DEFESA
ALENTEJO, Portugal 2002

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

FEATURED WINE:
ALBA VINEYARDS
Chambourcin 2002
New Jersey, USA

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

OLD EUROPE, NEW WINES
Modern treats from Italy, Austria and France

JOHN PEEL: A Tribute

THE OCTOBER HITLIST:
Fiery Furnaces, Green Day, Bowling For Soup, Paul Weller, The Go! Team, Fatboy Slim, R.E.M., Kevin Tihista, Brian Wilson

FESTIVE MEMORIES:
A report from THE V FESTIVAL, Stafford, England, Aug 21-23

ABSOLUTE AFFIRMATION:
A NEW YORK HITLIST
(10 new Albums)

From the Jamming! Archives
THE HOMOSEXUALS, 1979

DVD REVIEW:
JEFF MILLS - EXHIBITIONIST

BOOK REVIEW:
SONGBOOK by NICK HORNBY

HIGHWAY TO UNHEALTHY:
Why Fast Food depends on Cheap Oil

THE CLASH: THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO THEIR MUSIC
by TONY FLETCHER
PUBLISHED MARCH 1 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.
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Tony's current musings follow below.
Previous musings are archived here.

SUNDAY MARCH 6

HAPPY MOTHERING SUNDAY

Mothering Sunday in the UK is several weeks ahead of Mother's Day in the USA, which means that most years I end up being an errant son and completely forgetting the occasion. No such problems this year as my mother is visiting and reminded me to get the flowers ready several weeks in advance! Hopefully all the European iJamming! readers are being extra kind to their mothers today. And given that iJamming! is a personal site - and that quite a few readers are personal friends, many of whom have met my ever-vigorous, full-on, perpetually teenage mum over the years - Ithought I'd just throw up this picture I took a couple of days ago. As you can see, baby Noel is doing fine as well.

SATURDAY MARCH 5

BROOKLYN BEAT

I stumbled yesterday upon the most incredible photo exhibition at the Central (Grand Army Plaza Branch) of the Brooklyn Public Library. Hip-Hop Files: Photographs 1979-84 by Martha Cooper captures the golden age of breakdancers, graffiti artists, DJs and rappers as the hip-hop movement in Technicolor glory. The photographs are displayed, in the lobby, in ultra large size at head height on movable dividers, inviting the viewer to walk around and between them and temporarily lose yourself in a memorable stretch of New York's past. (Not all of it glorious; the picture of a South Bronx block on fire is all too redolent of the city's troubled past.) Check this picture of a young Crazy Legs and get yourself up there before the exhibition closes on March 20 – which is, coincidentally, the same day the Brooklyn Museum Of Art closes out its Marilyn Monroe photo exhibition, I Wanna Be Loved By You.

Beautiful youth on display at the Brooklyn Museum of Art

Beautiful youth on display at the Brooklyn Public Library


Fermented Grapes on Vanderbilt Avenue in Prospect Heights celebrated its six-month anniversary on Thursday night; I know because I'm the type of person who signs up for wine store newsletters – and actually reads them. It was very generous of the store to share a 2001 Napa Chardonnay from Stony Hill (though the oak-free, non-malo wine was really quite anonymous), a 1997 Trimbach Alsace Pinot Noir (which opened up nicely with some swirling) and a 1990 Riesling Auslese by Loosen from the Mosel (which was quite beautiful). This Saturday they're back to their regular tastings: a white Burgundy (Cote de Beaune), a red Burgundy (Marsannay), a Beaujolais Cru (Saint Amour), and "something from south-west France." You can taste all these for free from 4-7pm at 651 Vanderbilt Avenue. (718.230.3216.) And if you're still thirsty, pop over the road afterwards to Half, far and away my favorite new bar in Brooklyn. Tha

Meantime, my long-term fave Park Slope wine store, Big Nose Full Body, this Saturday launches the first of a two-week Sideways taste-off: "Pinot Noir from Castle Rock in Monterey goes against Merlot from Waterstone in Carneros." I wrote about the Castle Rock here: it's considerably more low-brow than anything Miles would have drunk and not from the same region of California as they visit in the movie but hey, you can't expect every store to open the good stuff every week, can you?


If it's the first Saturday of the month then it must be First Saturday at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Included in this week's all-free event are "Selected short films from the archives of the Brooklyn International Film Festival, a Dance Party of 1970s disco and funk spun by DJs from Brooklyn's own Black Underground and Beautiful Hills of Brooklyn, a one-act play starring Joanna Merlin.

And if it's the first Saturday of the month then it must also be The Rub at Southpaw, with DJ Ayres, Cosmo Baker & Ruckus Roboticus. It's quite the scene at The Rub and if that sounds like too too much of a scene, you might want to settle for Sunday's Wreck Room, with "$1 pool, free table tennis, a poker table w/ chips, and exclusive movie screenings on the early side with sound." Admission: free. (By the way, The Go! Team come to Southpaw on March 22. It's already sold out – though don't let that stop you.)



If you insist on staying in North Brooklyn this week, get a life. I mean, sorry, there's ALLDISCO at Capone's with my friend Dan Selzer and his friends Jeremy Campbell and Rob Uptight. And Jonny Sender, whom Selzer describe in his mail-out thusly: "Jonny Sender is formerly of no wave latin punk funk legends Konk. Did you know they played at Paradise Garage, The Loft and Mudd Club? Ferchrissakes! We're basically in totally in awe." Capone's is at 221 N 9th - closer to Roebling than Driggs for those who know the difference. Free to get in and free pizza until 3:30am. Now there's a good idea: you KNOW how many times you've been in a bar at 3am having danced your ass off and drunk too much beer and just wished you could get a slice without leaving the room.

But if, like me, free pizza is not enough to get you to Billyburg then you may be intrigued by this mail-out from MosuRock. "I'm gonna be holdin it down for my monthly party COCKFIGHT at LAST EXIT BAR -- 136 Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn Heights. It's the place to go for outta hand rock, soul, psych, metal, hiphop, dub and disco, hyperactively mixed by myself, Fucking Forest Love, and Mr. Vacation." Why is it that every other DJ in New York has an F in his name?. Mosu closes out by stating, "There's a Chip Shop on Atlantic now so stuff your face with grease beforehand." I think I'd prefer the pizza afterwards. Then again, I ate enough chips as a chubby teen to last a lifetime. .


FRIDAY MARCH 4

THE WEEKEND WINE REVIEW

BREMERTON
'SELKIRK' SHIRAZ 2000,
LANGHORNE CREEK, AUSTRALIA, $15

If you've been following the iJamming! wine reviews over the years, you'll have noticed I've never focused on Shiraz. That's not because I don't rate Australia's "national" grape: I brought back a dozen different bottles of Syrah's non-identical twin from my Millennium trip to Sydney. But I am sick of the Shiraz being served in American and British bars, restaurants and wine stores these days.

The Australian Shiraz most people are currently drinking without thinking is a cough syrup cocktail, sweet sticky red booze that easily satisfies the most undiscerning of palates but barely qualifies as wine. Low-end Aussie Shiraz makes low-end Californian Merlot look like a 1st Growth French Bordeaux by comparison. Or put it this way: if they were making the movie Sideways today and not two years ago, the hilarious diatribe by lead character Miles against Merlot would have been directed instead at Shiraz. (The very fact that Californian winemakers are rapidly switching their labels from Syrah to Shiraz tells you way too much about the steadily down-market plunge this noble grape is being forced to take.)

High end Australian Shiraz is another problem altogether. As with American's "national" grape, Zinfandel, there's a tendency among the boutique wineries to make ever more ripe, more raisiny, more alcoholic and port-like wines to satisfy the critics – and given that wine guru Robert Parker has been all over such monstrosities like a pig in muck, the ploy has clearly worked.

Somewhere in-between these extremes are hundreds of great Australian Shirazes. You just have to be willing to search them out. At Astor Wines the other week, I made a point of doing just that – and found myself drawn to the Bremerton 2000 Langhorne Creek Selkirk Shiraz. It was from a relatively unfamiliar yet highly regarded area of South Australia: the cool-climate Langhorne Creek, just south-east of Australia's wine capital, Adelaide. I liked that it was named after the wine-making family's Scottish ancestral home village of Selkirk. (Naturally, in a country as young as Australia, many wine producers cling to their European past: I'm keen to know if the Ladbroke Grove Shiraz is also in tribute to an "ancestral home"!) It was from the 2000 vintage, meaning it had some nice bottle age on it– in fact, the grapes would have been picked just weeks after I was in Australia for the Millennium. (Remember, the down under harvest is in Feb-March.) It didn't look too alcoholic: 13.5% suggested a Shiraz that would not get in my face. Oh, and the price was right too: $15, no less than you SHOULD expect to pay for a bottle of quality wine that's traveled half way round the world.

In the glass, the Selkirk lived up to all these expectations. Fifteen months in oak had done just what the family web site suggested it should: "enhance its pallet weight without masking the varietal fruit characters." It had the black pepper aroma of good Shiraz and a lovely combination of blackcurrant, plum, mulberry and blueberry fruits, but it was smooth and approachable, gentle on the palate, and neither too sweet nor too bold nor too aggressive. Some of that could have been down to its age, but I suspect this was never a Parkerized 'hedonistic fruit bomb.' Instead, it was a wine with texture and personality and style and grace, evidence that "feminine Shiraz" can and does and should exist. Is it co-incidence that the wine-maker, Rebecca Wilson, is female? You decide.

While I would not have mistaken it for any other grape – not even Syrah – it was oceans away from those cheap sweet sugary Shirazes that come by the jug. In fact, it occurred to me while enjoying this bottle to the full: if more bars served more Shiraz like this, people would refuse to drink Yellowtail. But then I sobered up and remembered the old adage Yellowtail knows all too well: no-one ever went broke underestimating the general public.

Of course the Bremerton Selkirk is not as readily available as bargain basement shiraz from Rosemount, Yellowtail, Jacobs Creek, Penfold's and all the other Australian powerhouses. But just because you might not be able to find the Selkirk in your home town shouldn't stop you seeking out something similar. Australia is a nation full of committed, proud, hard-working family wine-makers, many of whom would love to strike back against the corporate giants that are swallowing up their industry. Please patronize people like the Wilsons of Bremerton – via Selkirk in Scotland, of course - over the soft-drink manufacturers whenever you get the chance. Believe me, you'll taste the difference.

MUSIC?
I took just too long to get round to recommending something - and one of our regulars showed up in The Pub to ask why. We've since come together to agree that an Australian female singer would be a nice match for this feminine Aussie Shiraz. Someone with heart and soul, grace and texture. I was thinking Kasey Chambers. Our reader was thinking Frente. You may have your own recommendation. If so, please share it with us.

THURSDAY MARCH 3

GIGS? WE GOT GIGS...

THE SOFT EXPLOSIONS

Between attending the Ian Brown show at Webster Hall Saturday night and DJing the after-show at Tiswas, I got to see two of the three bands playing the Canarsie Records launch down at Don Hill's. (Death of Fashion I'll have to catch up with another day.) I enthused about The Soft Explosions' debut EP a couple of months back, but it barely hints at their onstage show, which was conducted with the unbridled power and sense of purpose we should have witnessed at Webster Hall an hour earlier. There's some of the Stone Roses' psychedelic confidence in them, for sure (the Madchester friendly people from Brooklyn's Canarsie were ecstatic that their launch doubled up with the Ian Brown crowd), but they're more consciously immersed in Rolling Stones' blues and Doors' Calizard rock. Rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist Dave Kulund makes for a commanding front man, but in The Soft Explosions, he's constantly (and willingly) upstaged by female guitarist Irina Yalkowski, who flexes her frets with the uncanny dexterity. I'm sure she's been headhunted by every all-girl hard rock band from here to Timbucktoo but she's far more effective in this particular guise. Bassist Dave Stahl and drummer Nicky Kulund hold down the rhythm section with necessary conviction, while a visual show run off two Mac laptops (using cool new software that stores the different files in the form of keyboard notes – a great way for musically-inclined lighting designers to "play along" with the band) adds a pleasantly psychedelic element.

Reverberate. The Soft Explosions take Tiswas.

While suitably confident, The Soft Explosions are also resolutely professional, running from song to song like committed mid-distance winners, wisely getting off stage awhile we still wanted more. I'm not certain the songs are all winners, and from personal experience, I wouldn't recommend any band move out of the Boston big-time to join a capital city's low rankers – even with an EP produced by the great Paul Q. Kolderie – but The Soft Explosions only know exactly what they're doing.



SCHIZO FUN ADDICT

Schizo's Jane Gabriel: Does sing. Doesn't talk.

It's harder to make sense of Schizo Fun Addict, who are not merely unconventional but quite arguably insane. Bassist/vocalist/Roland 101 keyboard player Jet Wintzer is the author of a Stone Roses conspiracy theory online novel-essay called OneLoveStory, which somehow I missed during its controversy in the late 1990s. (You can read parts of it here and here. And you can imagine how thrilled Jet was to then have Ian Brown in the audience.) Vocalist Jane Gabriel, meanwhile, doesn't talk. By which I mean I've met her twice now and she refuses to talk. She instead reserves all her energy to sing. Whether she talks to her lover or her mother, I have no idea, but it's as disconcerting a trait as it is distinctive. Drummer Patrick Flynn is an ex-guitarist who comes forward on the last song to play guitar; guitarist Hadrian Mordecai has such a great name he needs no further description. By their own admission, they have "hyperactive multi-personality disorder."

Schizo Fun Addict are also loud. Very loud. Painfully loud. They played at such an ear-splitting level that my temples started throbbing. (Jet apparently bribed the soundman to turn them up into the red; he also bribed me with some quality Pinot Noir.) As well as their own songs, including the title track from 'The Atom Spark Hotel,' they featured a Blondie cover in their set that I would have completely failed to recognize but for TheOnlyLIvingBoyInStatenIsland – a man who knows his record collection (and yours) - standing alongside me to inform me it was meant to be 'Shayla'. Schizo Fun Addict have already left three albums and a considerable amount of British press in their wake (Everett True is a big fan), yet this was only their fourth show in five years. Or was it their fifth show in four years? Either way, they're not exactly prolific giggers. You might expect me to say that it shows. But man, that Pinot Noir was good.


(WHINE TIME)

It needed to be. Don Hill's serves such bad red wine that the last time I tried a glass my throat hurt for weeks. Last night (Wednesday) I ventured round the corner to Southpaw and, having had a lone glass of wine at dinner, decided to risk the house red while watching The Stands. To bar-tender Doug's credit, he warned against it (thanks Doug!), but even so, it's hard to put into words how bad this basic Spanish crianza tasted. Imagine strawberry juice mixed with prunes and left to rot in an old oak barrel for a few years, and you'll be close. Back when I started iJamming!, I had the idea of creating an open-source forum where people could review rock venues' choice of wine pour; I've still never understood why clubs that offer six different beers on tap at a good price can't sell as much as one semi-decent wine at a semi-decent price. Doug said last night there's no demand for wine at Southpaw but why would there be if the wine's undrinkable in the first place?



THE STANDS

Of course, I don't go to Southpaw for the wine. I go there for the music, and it's an absolute pleasure to be able to head round the corner after dinner, run into a few friends at a live venue with such good sight lines and (these days) great sound, and watch such quality live bands as The Stands.

The Stands love American music, but they could not be from anywhere but Liverpool. That much is obvious long before vocalist and songwriter Howie Paynes gets round to speaking to the crowd and revealing his Liverpudlian accent. From their first note, it's obvious that The Stands form an unmistakable thread in the city's rich musical tapestry, one that stretches from, yes The Beatles and The Searchers through The La's, Cast and Space, on to more recent sensations like The Zutons and The Coral. Less so than those latter acts who weave and wander all over the musical map, The Stands are strict traditionalists: Payne's arrangements are firmly immersed in his love of The Band, The Burds and Buffalo Springfield, and he sees nothing wrong with the simple melodies as made Paul McCartney a multi-millionaire, nor the sort of lengthy blues jam as officially went out of fashion with the death of the dinosaurs. On the band's web site, Payne explains, "I’m not interested in fashion and I’m not interested in hipness," which is wonderful, though when he sang the melody to The Beatles' 'Rain' while singing in Bob Dylan's nasal twang with a harmonica strapped around his neck, I felt like he could at least commit himself to originality. The same thought came to mind when this Liverpool band that has reminded so many people of The La's performed a song entitled 'Here She Comes Again' - unless of course it's a wacky Scouse in-joke in which case I wasn't completely fooled.

The Stands in classic updated Merseybeat pose....

...Howie Payne at show's end...


But the thing about young Liverpool bands – and they are always are young – is that they tend to be so frighteningly and effortlessly talented that you can't help but fall for them. The Stands were refreshingly unpretentious and modest for such patently skilled musicians. It's obviously Payne's band, and he's a gifted lead guitarist, but I was personally more taken with the perfectly simple rhythm guitar riffs of Luke Graham. Drummer Steve Pilgrim also had a marvelous sense of dynamics for someone who looked about 16 while it was all Dean Ravera could do not to start jogging on the spot as he smiled his way through his melodic bass lines.

Amidst all the clean-cut harmonies, extended twelve-bar blues riffs and jingle-jangle chords were the necessary element of classic late sixties psychedelia, as evidenced by the chorus line of the opening song, "She speaks of all these things. " And The Stands do have one element of distinction - the way they keep walking in delightfully irregular circles around the stage, like an unsynchronized Shadows. Personally, I like my music to have a touch more creativity, but I found The Stands' Merseybeat take on California dreamin' more convincing onstage (and certainly more humble) than The Thrills. They're playing the Mercury Lounge in New York this Friday and Saturday and then the Shout! night on Sunday, before heading back to Britain to open for The Zutons. If you're easily satisfied, they should be your perfect hors d'ouvre.



Every time I think I'm super hardcore by writing up so many shows at my age, I run into the champion of gig-going scribes, Jack Rabid, whereupon I find myself put firmly in place. Jack was seen in a corner of Southpaw last night editing his legendary 25-years and counting magazine The Big Takeover; this was his third gig already this week, and it was only Wednesday! Admittedly, the 40-something, recently married Jack is not yet a dad - just you wait Jack! - but credit him for making the most of it before he succumbs to parenthood. Between relentlessly attending gigs, and writing and editing The Big Takeover, Jack's also a committed member of his softball team and plays drums in Last Burning Embers, who will be opening for New Model Army at Southpaw next Thursday. Best of all, he is still so enamored by the prospect of seeing new bands some 28 years after first attending CBGB as an under-age teen, he turned down tickets for Interpol's triumphant headline at Radio City Music Hall last night so as to see the barely-acknowledged Stands. Jack, we are not worthy.


WEDNESDAY MARCH 2

MARCH MADNESS

My mother arrived from England yesterday to coo over her new grandson, and was kind enough to bring me three of Tuesday's English newspapers with her. It was interesting to see how each paper tackled the day's three big news items:

1) The appalling carnage in Iraq: 115 people killed by one suicide bomber.
2) The court case at the Old Bailey, where Saajid Badat, a supposedly studious British Muslim from Gloucester, pleaded guilty to plotting to blow up an airliner in mid-air.
3) The Labour Government's controversial Prevention of Terrorism Bill, which is having a hard-time winning over even its own MPs.

For the record, The Times went with "The Shoe Bomber from a Gloucester Grammar"; The Independent chose "Bloodbath In Iraq" and an accompanying picture which proved they had used the correct noun; and The Guardian managed to fit all three stories across its top spread, as you can when you continue to publish a broadsheet whilst your competitors succumb to tabloid size.

Of course, these three stories are all intrinsically related – especially the two items concerning terrorism in the UK. Badat spent considerable time in an Afghan terrorist training camp prior to 9/11, and was then sent back to the UK (with the undetectable explosive shoe bomb in his baggage) to await orders to commit mass murder. Those came in December 2001, and he booked a flight for himself to Amsterdam, from where he was meant to then fly on to the USA and explode his shoe bomb in mid-air at the same time as Richard Reid, his partner in the conspiracy, flew from Paris to Miami and did likewise. (Reid, you will remember, was apprehended in mid-air as he tried to set light to his shoe). Instead, Badat missed his flight and stayed in Gloucester and Blackburn, where he convinced neighbours and friends that he was a normal law-abiding citizen. The chairman of the Islamic Human Right Commission is quoted as saying that Badat's change of heart revealed that "his real Islamic inclinations came at the 11th hour," which is maybe stretching things a bit: it's just as likely that Badat decided he wanted to preserve his own life rather than that he had second thoughts about killing hundreds of innocents.

Badat's plea could not have come on a better day for Prime Minister Tony Blair and Home Secretary Charles Clarke, who now have another "smoking gun" to prove that terrorist cells exist(ed) in the UK. This doesn't mean that Tony Blair was necessarily correct when he went on British radio on Monday and declared there "several hundred in this country who we believe are engaged in plotting or trying to commit terrorist acts," nor does it establish that his Prevention of Terrorism Bill offers the perfect solution(s). I haven't read up enough on the Bill's details to offer a firm opinion.


But it's clear how the security forces will use the threat of terrorism in the wrong way. A steady stream of news is making its way into the American media as to how legal immigrants are being deported to their supposed "home" countries for misdemeanor crimes committed as a long as a decade ago – and often entered in plea bargains, i.e. without a trial. We're talking about someone who, as a 16-year old ten years ago, was prosecuted for marijuana posession (or even jumping a turnstile), encouraged to plead guilty to avoid the hassle of a trial, and who now, a full decade later, can be sent back to their home country - even if they were raised in America, have long held a Green Card, and have otherwise been spotlessly law-abiding citizens. (Had I been caught for similar transgressions, I'd be one of these deportees.) These deportations are partly the work of the Department of Homeland Security, but as the Times reported this weekend, it turns out that New York State has stricter laws even than the federal government.

As Bryan Lonegan, the only Legal Aid attorney available to the several hundred New York immigration detainees held in New Jersey county jails, explained in a recent interview to the Times,

"You've got to remember that Mexican farm workers didn't drive planes into the sides of those buildings: terrorists did. Our lives are not being threatened by Dominican bodega owners or Guatemalan day laborers. I cringe when I hear people using 9/11 for their own agendas. They should meet with some of the people who've been the victims of their self-serving campaigns./ They should talk to my client's 14-year old daughter and explain to her why she shouldn't cut herself up."

A news report on WNYC's Morning Edition today, meanwhile, showed another example of how the Department of Homeland Stupidity is focusing on the wrong targets: putting ankle bracelets on

"immigrants who are applying to remain in the United States. It is requiring aliens in eight cities to wear electronic monitors 24 hours a day.

The ankle bracelets are the same monitors that some rapists and other convicted criminals have to wear on parole. But the government's pilot project is putting monitors on aliens who have never been accused of a crime. "

So far, the Department of Homeland Security has put electronic monitors on more than 1,700 immigrants."

Morning Edition focused on a Central American immigrant who's worked his way up from washer-up to Assistant Manager at a busy restaurant, but who has to cut out at lunch once a week to meet with an immigration official – though you'd think that wearing the bracelet would confirm that he was at work. When his bosses called the official to ask he be allowed to reschedule an appointment so he could attend a meeting with regional management, they were told that if he failed to show he would be detained. The restaurant manager, a former veteran of the Armed Services, rightly described himself as "disgusted" by this draconian approach.


It can be hard to recognize any heroes in these above stories. But Dan Goldstein wins my New Yorker of the Week award for refusing to accept Bruce Ratner's buy-out of his apartment which stands in the way of the developer's plan for the Atlantic Yards.


TUESDAY MARCH 1

JUST ANOTHER PERFECT TUESDAY?

At least the trees look beautiful....

Not like last week. Get up to 8" of fresh snow, not that that's any great problem except for the fact I can't go skiing on it! But… the school bus doesn't show up, so after a 40-minute wait in the cold, I have to go home, dig the car out and drive Campbell to school – late, of course. Come back - two hours after I got up - to find one of our neighbor's cars sitting on its rims: his tyres were professionally removed in the middle of the storm last night. This is a disturbing new criminal trend – and not one that makes your feel your neighborhood is safer, despite what the statistics say. Anyway, that means he can't move his car of course, which just happens to be parked almost exactly opposite where they've just dug up the street AGAIN to replace the sewer line for the new buildings on our block – for which we'd already endured two years of constant jackhammers and trucks double-parking. Oh, and the MTA has decided to send the city bus down our block for the day, as if the drivers don't have enough obvious obstacles even on their normal routes. If I end up moving to the country, don't say I don't have my reasons...


NO SECOND COMING

During one of the many lengthy 'tween-song pauses at Webster Hall on Saturday night, Ian Brown asked his audience who among them had been in the same room ten years ago, for The Stone Roses' only New York City shows. It might not have been wise to remind us – because, now he mentioned it, those concerts were a crushing disappointment too.

In 1995, The Stone Roses were falling apart at the seams: the six-years-in-the-waiting second album Second Coming had been received poorly;, one founding member had already left, with another soon to follow; Ian Brown's voice was all over the place; and John Squire's incessant guitar noodling had all the subtlety of Eddie van Halen. Last Saturday, Ian Brown's overdue return to the New York stage was… well let's just say it was not triumphant. After swaggering on stage to deafening applause, wrapped in trademark parka and with the cool confidence of a heavyweight champion, Brown abruptly stopped the opening song 'Destiny Of Circumstances' to sort out his monitor volume. Once it was restarted and completed, he delayed proceeding two minutes more while bringing the sound to what we hoped would be his satisfaction. But an unexpectedly early rendition of the Roses' classic 'Made Of Stone' was rendered painful by the woefully poor pitch of his singing; an attempt to bring the audience back on board by taking requests and launching into 'She Bangs The Drums' was then negated by the guitar amp packing up completely, necessitating Brown to vocalize the immortal guitar lines. He also spent several moments of subsequent songs over by the monitors, continuing to address what he saw as sound problems. His band fell somewhere between professional and passable. And yet for all that the hard-core fans cut him slack and gave him great love – and for all that the show increased in energy and confidence the longer it progressed – there was no encore.

Ian Brown and crew finally get it together.

Every act has occasional sound problems, but I believe that you make your own luck, and having seen a number of other shows at Webster Hall recently, I'm certainly not inclined to blame the venue. The front of house sound was never an issue, and opening act Radio 4 had no such problems hearing themselves on stage; nor did The Libertines when I saw them at Webster Hall in November; nor for that matter, any of the acts who rushed through short sets for the Plug Awards last month. This is why bands have sound checks, after all - to set their onstage volume. And while a guitar amp giving up the ghost is every musician's nightmare – and it couldn't have come at a worse time, nor on a better song – you'll normally see a road crew rush into action at the first aural evidence of unexpected silence, while the front man pulls on all his powerful presence to keep the crowd energized. At Webster Hall, the crisis on stage evolved in painfully slow motion, with Brown seemingly unable to speed it all up.

Another criticism before offering some consolation. There's nothing wrong with performing your old band's best songs: I've seen everyone from Roger Waters to Paul Weller to Joe Strummer do it. But I went along on Saturday night because Brown's new album Solarized is a damn fine record in its own right, the sound of a singer on an upswing, determined to prove his continued worth rather than rest on old glories. I therefore was taken aback that four of the first five songs on Saturday night should date from the (admittedly classic) Stone Roses' 1989 debut. It immediately turned the show into a trip down nostalgia lane – with the obvious caveat that Brown's current band never was, and never can be, the Stone Roses. If you're going to play more songs off an album some 16 years old than anything you've released since, why not at least distribute them more evenly amidst your newer work? It's the basics of sequencing a set list.

Still. If you'd shown up late, as Posie did (it was her first night out sans Noel and there were all kinds of babysitter details to take care of), you might have come away with a more positive impression. She missed the shambolic first song, the tuneless vocals of 'Made Of Stone' and the disaster that was 'She Bangs The Drums.' Instead, she arrived in time for passable versions of 'Waterfall' and 'Sally Cinnamon,' after which the band (finally) settled in to Brown's solo songs, of which the bass-thundering 'F.E.A.R.' was surely the highlight of his earlier albums, and 'The Sweet Fantastic' the strongest of the four songs he played from Solarized. Brown should have been encouraged by how familiar the crowd was with his solo material, and in turn he made sure to constantly applaud the audience for not getting on his back. After the singalong finale of 'I Wanna Be Adored' – as good as the old songs got - Brown left the stage with the assurance "we will be back."

He obviously didn't mean that night; the house lights came up almost immediately. Many people, seeing the lines outside as Webster Hall reopened for its usual Bridge & Tunnel clubbing crowd, blamed the venue for this, but truth is, Brown was still twenty minutes ahead of curfew. He probably just wanted to cut a bad night short.

As with a couple of iJamming! regulars who've already posted comments at The Pub, I'm tempering this negative review with the ready recognition that Brown's solo career remains in full swing. I won't stop playing Solarized just because he struggled to do the songs justice onstage. (Though I do wonder how his voice can sound so finely distinctive on record and so anonymously off-key on stage.) And, to be fair, this was not a disaster anywhere near the scale of Ian McCulloch's sad performance at the Bowery Ballroom a few years ago: Brown's fanatical following made sure of that. But Ian, who certainly has no shortage of heart and charisma, needs to approach his live set with the same focus and determination that's made Solarized such a success. After all, he's hitting the west coast in a couple of weeks. They may not prove so forgiving.


MONDAY FEBRUARY 28

FOOLS RUSH IN...

The last time I was physically ordered to take a record off the decks while spinning was during my first few months as a DJ, back when Communion was still in a test run on Tuesday nights at the Limelight in 1990. We were gathering a following among the industrial punks, for whom I played Skinny Puppy's admittedly abrasive 'Tin Omen'; unfortunately, the Limelight had a long-standing following with the bridge and tunnel crowd, for whom such harsh electronic noise was not conducive to sticking around at the bar, let alone making it to the dance floor. The manager came up to the booth and told me if I ever played that record again, he would personally break it in half. I'm pleased to say Communion outlasted the manager by several years!

This last Saturday night at Tiswas, which in additional to its usual weekly gathering was hosting an after-show party for Ian Brown, I was in my element, having just come out of a mad mash-up of Happy Mondays and Kasabian, and those reliable cover versions of the Stones' 'I'm Free' and 'She's A Rainbow.' I hadn’t totally expected Ian Brown to show up, but knowing that many of his audience would, I'd lined up a segue between his new album Solarized's one strong dance track 'Kiss Ya Lips (No ID)' and the Rabbit In The Moon mix of The Stone Roses' 'Fools Gold,' given that they're each at the same solid tempo of 121bpm. Half way through 'Kiss Ya Lips,' someone pointed out that Brown was about six feet from the booth; he seemed to be paying attention to the music, as if curious about the song's impact on the dance floor. (It went down a storm: if the label has any sense, they'd have this out as a 12" immediately.) So I went ahead and mixed in to 'Fools Gold'. The crowd erupted – if the booth wasn't so well built, the record would never have stayed on the decks with all the jumping around – but within 30 seconds, what could only have been Ian's minder was at my side, insisting there was to be no more Stone Roses all night, starting this second.

I managed to mix out of it without too many complications and obliged Ian's wishes from there on – though that meant not obliging his many fans who kept asking why I couldn't play any Stone Roses… Later, after I finished up, I had a word with Ian, who was totally cool about it, thoroughly charming and perfectly complimentary about the spinning; he explained that if he wanted to listen to his own music, he could so at home. This is true, and as he was the guest of honor, it was fair to honor his request; but I can't help thinking that if he really wanted to separate himself from his Stone Roses past, he wouldn't have himself performed five songs off that legendary 1989 Stone Roses debut album in concert at Webster Hall earlier in the evening.

Regardless, it was a welcome return to the turntables after three months off to reacquaint myself with sleepless nights of a different kind. (And true to form, our baby Noel had his first fever on Thursday night, just to prepare me for the prospect of staying up all night!) The room at Don Hill's was rammed to the rafters with people seriously ready to dance, and with a big crowd like that, you can usually lead them along your own path. I was able to drop new young rockers like The Futureheads and The Caesars; NYC dance-funk crossovers LCD Soundsystem, !!! and Radio 4; old soul from The Shirelles, Candi Staton and Sam and Dave; mod classics by The Creation, Who and Small Faces; and the brilliant Punks Jump Up debut 12", the recent re-edit of Kano's 1980 cut-up 'It's A War,' the new New Order single 'Krafty', the Agent Provacateur cover of 'She's Lost Control,' and the Switch remix of The Chemical Brothers' 'Galvanize.'

If ever a room was diverse enough to embrace mash-ups, this was it, and I got some major love (and several curious looks) for playing, in addition to his 'Processed Baggy Beats,' IDC's bootleg of Audio Bully's 'We Don't care' with Blur's Boys & Girls' (that latter track already in Pet Shop Boys remix form); the 2 Many DJ's staple of Salt'n'Pepa over The Stooges; and that astonishing 'Paperback Believer' medley of the Beatles and The Monkees.

I closed out with the equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel, blindfolded, with one arm tied behind your back: The Happy Mondays, Charlatans, Inspiral Carpets, and James, all off CD. I was reminded of the enormously enjoyable night at the V Festival last summer, where the Poptastic DJs lifted the dance tent practically off its pegs on the opening night with similarly effortless crowd-pleasers. As they explained, with the mild guilt that comes from knowing this is not exactly work, sometimes you have to give them what they want. And so I finished up with 'Common People,' the floor as full now, at 3am, as it had been all night. That Pulp classic is ten years old now. So is Tiswas; I have a feeling the night will last as long as the song does – which, yes, may be for ever. There followed a sojourn to a nearby bar for a glass of Zinfandel and a 4am rumination with friends on the old Smiths vs. the Jam. vs. the Clash vs. The Stone Roses vs. The Replacements debate. It's amazing how easily you can slip back into this lifestyle…

Reviews of the night's two live shows to follow. I've got to further gather my thoughts on those: as any one who's visited the Pub since Saturday may be aware, the Ian Brown concert was curious, to say the least.


SUNDAY FEBRUARY 27

SUNDAY FUNDAY...

CAN WORDS DO THIS JUSTICE?

(and there's more where he came from...)


WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 23-THURSDAY FEBRUARY 24

TERRAIN PARK SLOPES and other bad puns...

"A DJ's job is to be the temperature gauge of the party. You're the force between the crowd and the music, guiding the two together."
Carlos D, INTERPOL, Urb, Jan-Feb '05

I'm spinning Tiswas on Saturday. I'm going to try and make it out to The Royale's 2nd Birthday Party on Friday. The Royale is at 506 5th Ave in Park Slope, Brooklyn: the photo file got corrupted somewhere down the line.


I'd apologize for not posting the last couple of days but you know what? It's school holidays and I've been out of town and on the slopes and it's hard to give a damn about life in the real world when there's fresh powder to carve and your nine-year old snowboarding son's finally cruising the black runs and getting some air off the ramps.

Still, this does not qualify as "getting away from youth culture." We've been on Hunter Mountain, which caters heavily to day-tripping snowboarders from New York City - typically so by blaring hard-core punk-rap-metal, Linkin Park style, from the speakers alongside the terrain park; it was no surprise that when they rigged up an outdoor stage to accompany a big half-pipe competition this last Saturday and Sunday, it was for suitably aggressive punk/emo bands to let rip.

But Monday, all of a sudden the terrain park music included the Kaiser Chiefs, of all unlikely new bands (and if it wasn't the Kaiser Chiefs – I don't have the single along with me to be absolutely certain – it was someone similarly British and brand new from the NME Cool List CD of a couple months back), and Tuesday, the usual tuneless roar was replaced by Franz Ferdinand, The Killers, Interpol and co. I looked up at the chair lift while listening to 'Take Me Out' and saw a teenager snowboarder positively grooving in his seat – whereas I never see any reaction at all to the usual terrain park rap-rock.

You might consider this an isolated incident, but it's just one more sign of a nationwide shift. Check the New Year issue of Californian DJ/hip-hop bible Urb: is that really Interpol's super star goth Carlos D on the cover, and if so, what's the justification? Answer, of course it is (who else looks like that?) and the pretext is that he's an in-demand after-hours DJ. Most interestingly, look at the list of "live" music on American TV this week, and it's evident that the talk show talent bookers are fully on board with the shift in sounds. Conan O'Brian has Ian Brown playing live tonight (Wednesday) and The Futureheads tomorrow (Thursday). Jay Leno has Scissor Sisters in the studio next Monday. The reunited Duran Duran– whose influence in America, as I've said too many times before, is entirely different than it was in the UK – are showing up on two talk shows this week. The Music and Kings Of Leon are also getting mainstream television exposure over these next seven days. (Full list here.)

I'm not pretending this is any kind of musical revolution – none of these acts are original enough (and several of them not new enough either) to go that far - but it’s no exaggeration to suggest that America is entering a new era of DOR.

Just another perfect Tuesday: Campbell takes Kennedy....


Grooving on iTunes this week:
Say Shhh – Atmosphere
Paperback Believer – Go Home Productions
Threee Talking – IDC
Army O' Me – Pasc and co.
Goodnight Goodnight – Hot Hot Heat
Everyday I Love You Less And less – Kaiser Chiefs
Hey Now What You Doing - New Order
Fall Of Williamsburg – Pete Miser
She Bangs The Drums – Stone Roses bedroom demo
Morning – Low


"I can't tell you how many times I got called faggot for liking The Smiths," Brandon Flowers, THE KILLERS, Spin, Feb 05


2005 MUSINGS:

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 2004