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WHAT'S NEW IN iJAMMING!...

THE IJAMMING! INTERVIEW:
TIM BOOTH

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.

FRIDAY MARCH 18

THE MARCH HITLIST

What's turning me on... and some of what's turning me off.

Note: The links in brackets are to the artist or label web site. Please visit them for more information and musical samples. The more mainstream albums are available through major distributors: if you order online, please consider starting at this link for amazon.com, and this link for amazon.co.uk: iJamming! gets a very small referral commission in each case.


LCD SOUNDSYSTEM – LCD SOUNDSYSTEM (DFA)
Expectations can be a bitch. Following a two-year run of inspirational and influential singles – wisely gathered here on a bonus CD – James Murphy's band finally delivers its long-player. Sadly, it only confirms that the act's true forte is the 45rpm format. LCD opens strong with the now familiar 'Daft Punk Is Playing At My House,' a humorous floor-filling comment on cliques and scenes. And Murphy certainly can't be criticized for lack of variety, jumping from wry Fall-like verbal abuse ('Movement') to synth-driven electroclash ('Tribulations') to psychedelic ballads ('Never As Tired As When I'm Waking Up') with almost hyperactive enthusiasm. Had this been released through DFA last year – or better yet, in 2003 – it would have been rightly received as an important missive from the future. But arriving in 2005 (via the major label push outside America) only confirms what Murphy/DFA/LCD Soundsystem had apparently sussed out years ago: that 'indie' music requires instant dissemination – and not too much by way of expectation.
More LCD Soundsystem at iJamming!


DOVES – SOME CITIES (Capitol)
If Some Cities is less grandiose than its two acclaimed predecessors, it's also dirtier – think Catherine Wheel rather than Coldplay. The back-to-basics approach is amplified by a lyrical focus on the trio's northern roots: check 'Black And White Town' (with the same chord pattern as the Motown classic 'Heatwave') and 'Shadows of Salford' for a reminder of (sub)urban boredom. At a time when almost every other British act is aspiring to American crossover sales, Some Cities is a darkly confident step forward.
More Doves at iJamming!


ATHLETE – TOURIST (Parlophone/Astralwerks)
Athlete, on the other hand, have taken the Keane route of overproduced ballads to the British number one spot. For the first few songs (especially the vaguely post-rock 'Half Light') the epic approach allows Joel Pott's lazily endearing voice to shine, but as Tourist progresses, the endless syrup turns to saccharine and indigestion results. 'Modern Mafia,' which promised so much for this album when revealed at the V Festival last summer, is one of the few songs both as quirky and as quick-paced as those on the group's debut Vehicles and Animals. What is it with British bands that they wimp out at first opportunity?
More Athlete at iJamming!


THE CHILLS – STAND BY EP (Softbomb)
The first new music to bear The Chills' name since 1996's Sunburst arrives tentatively, as a seven-song EP (with one bonus cut) recorded in late 2002 and early 2004. It's definitely a return to form, but also to formula: 'Liberty Or Love' and 'Little Boy' are such classically cheerful Chills organ(ic) pop songs, chocka full of optimistic love and lust, that they could easily have appeared on Brave Words of fifteen years ago. It's hard to speak badly of Martin Phillipps' evergreen songwriting, but his voice is now showing its age on the otherwise lyrically astute 'Falling Off Your Throne' and 'Bad Dancer.' Here's hoping for the impending album.
More Chills at iJamming!


VARIOUS - STUDIO ONE SELECTOR (free with Mojo)
Why buy a £13 CD when you can get a classic compilation like this free with your monthly music mag? In fact, you can throw out Mojo unread and still consider this a bargain, what with fifteen tracks, by as many different artists, all recorded at the legendary Kingston Studio One. The most important? Probably 'I Want Justice' by Delroy Wilson – if only to hear the man The Clash were singing about on '(White Man In) Hammersmith Palais.'
More on Studio One Selector at iJamming!


THIEVERY CORPORATION – THE COSMIC GAME (ESL)
DC duo raise themselves to Chemical Brothers' popularity level by pulling in familiar famous guests: The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne on the wonderful opening track 'Marching The Hate Machines', and Perry Farrell toasting like a dread rasta on 'Revolution Solution.' As The Cosmic Game unravels, Rob Garza and Eric Hilton dim the lights and settle into the lounge-like trip-hop groove that's served them so well – and when they come up for air with David Byrne guesting on the buoyant 'The Heart's A Lonely Hunter,' you know they've got a hit album on their hands.
More Thievery Corporation at iJamming!


BE BOP DELUXE: POSTCARDS FROM THE FUTURE (EMI)
We've talked in The Pub about Bill Nelson's seminal Seventies band, a vital link between glam rock, art rock and prog rock - who were promptly rendered irrelevant by the arrival punk. The music of Be Bop Deluxe is a major part of my childhood, especially 'Ships In The Night' and 'Blazing Apostles,' but this reissue sadly reveals just how dated it now sounds. A compilation best filed under 'retrospective.'
More Be Bop Deluxe at iJamming!


TV TOY – SHARDS 1977-83 (Reversing)
On the other hand, this collection of self-recorded singles, demos and live cuts from a long-forgotten New Jersey band of the post-punk era holds up remarkably well. There's a connection, too: I met TV Toy drummer Steve Peer when interviewing Bill Nelson for Jamming! in 1979. (Peer was moonlighting for Nelson's new outfit, Red Noise; we've stayed friends without meeting again ever since!) While some of the live tracks suffer from appalling recording quality, fans of Pere Ubu, Essential Logic and Gang of Four alike will be impressed by the angular rock of the studio cuts 'Weekend' and 'Flesh Kingdom.'


GEOFFREY ARMES – ELEMENTAL RED (Geoffreyarmes.com)
My fellow New York-based South London expat, Palace fan and iJamming! Pub regular releases a second solo album of poetic, personal songs set to his mostly acoustic and always dexterous guitar work. There's middle Eastern and Romanic influences at work here in the impressive vocal ululating and guitar flourishes, but one song proves especially close to (our old) home: 'Gypsy Hill', complete with references to Anerley and Rosendale.
More Geoffrey Armes at iJamming!


THE GOLDEN REPUBLIC - THE GOLDEN REPUBLIC (Astralwerks)
Exuberant Kansas City quartet evidently influenced by Supergrass ('The Turning of The World'), T. Rex ('I'll Do Anything'), Dandy Warhols ('I'll Do Anything') and any number of other great pop groups who know that a good tune always sounds better with some glam thrown in the mix.
More on The Golden Republic at iJamming!


JOY ZIPPER – AMERICAN WHIP (Dangerbird)
The Long Island-raised duo Tabitha Tindale and Vinny Cafiso are hardly prolific: this is only their second album in six years. But they're worth waiting round for: like its eponymous predecessor, American Whip is full of weird and wired psychedelic surf ballads that offset Tabitha's eery voice with Vinny's minor chords, packaged in sinister titles like 'Drugs' and 'Alzheimers.' Though often too dark for comfort, on the Lush-via-Phil Spector stand-out 'Baby You Should Know,' Joy Zipper demonstrate that hit songs are not beyond their reach.


PETE MISER – CAMOUFLAGE IS RELATIVE (Coup de Grace)
"It ain't easy being me… I'm such a sensitive MC" raps Miser on opening cut 'So Sensitive' and you take his point: half-white, half-Chinese, and clearly raised on the playful hip-hop of a lost generation, it would be pointless for Miser to play out some imagined gangsta credentials. That doesn't mean he ain't got street: both 'L Train To Brooklyn' and 'The Fall of Williamsburg' discuss the changing face of his home borough, while 'Table Scraps' and 'Final' reflect, respectively, his marginal career and romantic affairs with just the right combination of detachment and… sensitivity.


SAGE FRANCIS – A HEALTHY DISTRUST (Epitaph)
Like Miser, Francis doesn't try and fake what he can't claim for real: he's from the decidedly non-urban State of Rhode Island, after all. But that doesn't mean he can't see modern life for the shitfest it is, and A Healthy Distrust is a political tour de force: a vital resuscitation of Public Enemy's lyrical power, Consolidated/MC 900 Ft. Jesus "we're white and not ashamed to rap it" industrial's hip-hop, and Linkin Park's musical rage. As with some of these influences, you may not agree with Sage's every lyric; you just have to feel that he believes them.


IAN BROWN – SOLARIZED (Koch)
Forget for now the disappointing live show: Solarized is Brown's strongest solo album to date, from the warped beats of the opening 'Longsight M13' through the breezy brass of the US bonus cut finale 'Lovebug.' (And yes, seeing as you ask, his voice is as thoroughly in tune as it is instantly recognizable.) It's a relatively muted affair, Brown comfortably settling into ballads like the title tack and the Noel Gallagher-guested single '[Keep What Ya Got' as he encroaches upon middle age, but 'Kiss Ya Lips (No ID)' prove that he can return to the dance floor whenever he feels like it.
More Ian Brown at iJamming!


KASABIAN – KASABIAN (RCA)
There's not too much to add that transatlantic audiences haven't already determined: Leicester's Kasabian mine the baggy beats of Madchester's heyday to devastatingly reassuring results. But if the now ancient single 'Processed Beats' sounds so Happy Mondays it's already been effortlessly mashed to 'Step On''s piano riff, there's enough Primal Scream grit (in 'Club Foot' and 'Reason' among others) and contemporary urban anger to render Kasabian's repetitive beats socially relevant. American audiences seem to agree: March 18 finds Kasabian at an impressive #123 on the Amazon chart.


DANCE 12" OF THE MONTH

PUNKS JUMP UP vs THE SPRINGTIME DISASTER (Cassette Records)
This one came to me via a contact in The Pub – for which I'm extremely grateful. It's a split 12" (and CD) between two London-based acts, each equally determined to revive that glorious moment in the early 1980s when double dutchers danced in downtown Manhattan nightclubs, The Clash brought The Bronx to Britain and the colour of your skin was irrelevant as long as you felt the funk. Punks Jump Up's delirious 'Be You' is the better song, and far stronger in its 'Dub Disco' mix. But The Springtime Disaster's 'Immaturity' – especially as remixed by Punks Jump Up themselves – is no slouch either. Already proven a winner on a crossover New York dance floor, this is revivalism so powerful as to make you want to go to church.


WEDNESDAY MARCH 16

NOTES FROM A POSH NIGHT OUT

1) THE BARTER SYSTEM

If it's all about the music, then this is all you need to see.... (But read on anyway): Ordinary guitar amps belonging to no ordinary people. BB King and Robbie Robertson share the same Fender Twin. Bo Diddley and Eric Clapton get their own....

Tickets for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony start at $1500 and top out at around $25,000. But it's hard to find anyone who admits to paying. Me, I received a phone call in December saying that Seymour Stein, one of the two non-performers being inducted this year, had personally asked for me to write his profile for the night's limited-edition program – and that payment came in the form of a ticket. While flattered to be requested, I would have preferred cash. Still, I drive a good bargain and by the time I agreed to do the piece, I'd got a ticket for the wife as well – who, having been subdued by pregnancy and breast-feeding this last year, jumped at the opportunity to crash diet back into her most slinky dress. (Aside: does anyone actually like cottage cheese?) As with so many of this site's readers – and, I'm sure, many of the musicians who are inducted – I've mixed opinions on the very oxymoronic notion of a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In addition, I'm no fan of the major music business, which is now, to use a lazy but completely accurate cliché, almost completely dominated by bean counters. Still, the annual induction ceremony has always seemed like an opportunity for the old school (performers and industry vets alike) to show how irreverently they can treat a black tie event, to get drunk, to get up on stage and get teary-eyed, and to eventually get down with some live music. Or, as Bono later put it, to act like they're at an Irish wedding. And come on, who turns down an invite to a good wedding party?


2) SOD'S LAW

Yours truly and Pretenders bassist Andy Hobson proudly display their lack of hair - and black ties...

It's at the Waldorf Astoria and we've dressed to the nines. (And no, I still didn't wear a tie. I got away without one at my own wedding too.) We're hardly going to take the subway. We order the posh local car service, the one we used to rely on to get us to the airport on time. Guess what night they decide to string us along for an entire hour after the car's due arrival time, consistently promising it will be there in "two minutes" until we flag down a yellow taxi outside our house in belated frustration. This is my Al Goldstein moment for those who live in Brooklyn: Do not use Legends Car Service. Not only are they evidently unreliable when you need them most, but – and this far more offensive - they're liars too.


3) THE SOPRANOS' SILVIO INDUCTING FRANK BARSALONA

Flanked by James Gandolfini (Tony Soprano) and Steve R. Schirripa (Bobby Bacala), the moonlighting E Street guitarist and Garage Rock promoter Little Stevie van Zandt delivered a hilarious and extremely poignant speech in which he likened the American concert industry to a Mafia business, especially in regard to how Barsalona "split the country up for the different families: Don Law in Boston, Ronnie Delsner in New York." Anyone who's dealt with these people – the promoters, not the Sopranos - know that there's some serious truth behind that metaphor. But Frank Barsalona, the founder of the first American rock booking agency, Premier Talent, has always seemed like something of a pussycat. He was a sweetheart when I interviewed him for the Keith Moon bio and delivered his acceptance speech so gently I wouldn't be surprised to hear that he's in frail health. As for van Zandt, he gave his own Boss a tough act to follow later in the night.


4) TOMMY SILVERMAN'S BYO NIGHT.

You might have imagined that spending $1500-$25,000 on dinner at Manhattan's most famous hotel would buy you good food and wine. Not so. Most people could barely eat their steaks; my specially ordered vegetarian dish was standard penne in tomato sauce. As for the wine, mass-produced Beringer 'California' Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon was the order of the night, and woe betide you for actually drinking the stuff: the Waldorf charged $40 a bottle for replenishment. (This terribly poor cuisine only added to a certain irony: the one night in my life that I'm invited to a BYOverygoodB in my home Borough, at the superb Red Hook bistro Bouillabaisse 126 in honor of a visiting wine writer, I'm in midtown forcing down the worst wine America has to offer.)
Fortunately, Tommy Silverman, the founder of Tommy Boy Records (and the New Music Seminar), has obviously been through this drinking disappointment before. He dropped a bottle of 1984 Grich Hills Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon on our table early on (the fruit on which was almost stewed) and later produced from out of his rabbit hat a delicious bottle of still vibrant 1990 Newton Napa Valley Cab Sauvignon. And as you've already guessed, he was happy to share them. Cheers.


5) SEYMOUR STEIN'S STANDING OVATION

Seymour Stein compared the event to his Bar Mitzvah - favorably, I believe.

There are industry legends and there are industry legends. Atlantic founder Ahmet Ertegun, who gave the opening remarks, is among the biggest and most revered of them all, but have Belle and Sebastian ever written a song about him? Seymour Stein, on the other hand, not only has that honor, but inspires memorable (and often unprintable) anecdotes from CBGB to every similarly dingy club in Britain to which he's flown (by Concorde) to sign the latest NME sensation before the rest of the America music business has arrived for work. (Which is essentially how he nabbed Depeche Mode.) History may rightly remember him as the man who brought us The Ramones, Talking Heads and Madonna, but my American friends recall Sire as the coolest label of the 1980s, the Anglocentric record company that made Stateside stars of Depeche Mode, The Pretenders, Erasure, The Smiths, Modern English, Soft Cell and Echo & The Bunnymen. Oh, and Ice-T too, who was an appropriately surprising choice for the induction speech. Though he's occasionally been accused of 'collecting bands' the way he also collects antiques, Seymour is driven first and foremost by his unquenchable love of music. Anyone who’s had the pleasure of hearing him sing his way through dinner will know of what I mean. Those who haven't, and for whom the above list is insufficient, this is also the man who scooped up The Rezillos and The Undertones in 1978, and who 25 years later, now in his sixties, is helping break The Futureheads across America. Every last person in the room rightfully got to their feet to applaud one of the last of the true music men.


6) JUSTIN WHO?

Justin Timberlake, inducting The O'Jays, had the audacity to stand before an audience of his elders and betters and tell us what "constitutes soul." This from the man who writes fast-food singles to order for McDonald's. And I'm not a reverse racist about this stuff, but was there not a black artist in America – you know, a proper soul singer with some legacy and history – who would have been willing to give the O'Jays the speech they actually deserved? (The group were not afraid to show their bitterness, reminding us that they've spent "44 years in this extremely mean business,." That comment may have been addressed specifically to their former producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, who were sat at the front tables and who are recent recipients of a lawsuit about O'Jays royalties - appropriately enough over the use of the song 'For The Love Of Money' as theme tune for the hit Donald Trump reality TV show The Apprentice.) While we're on the subject of race, the make-up at the Waldorf reminded me of the V Festival last summer, proving that segregation remains a problem across our western societies, from British open-air festivals to American industry events. For all the black artists on stage, there were but a handful of non-white people in the audience. It would be different at the Soul Train or Source Awards, I know, but that doesn't dampen the disappointment of it.


7) PERCY SLEDGE, WE LOVE YOU TOO

A few summers ago, the temperature in New York City boiled into triple digits for the first time in years, and in the sweltering early evening heat, I bicycled over to Fort Greene Park, where Percy Sledge was performing – for free, as part of the inner city summer soul circuit – to an audience of maybe 200, mostly elderly black women, who fanned themselves with anything they could find as they relived their memories of the Sixties. Sledge could barely reach the high notes that night, and it wasn't just the weather. Put simply, he's getting on in years and his best performances are long behind him: in fact, his wife sang almost as much of his lead vocals as he did. At the Waldorf Monday night, she was consigned to her table during his acceptance speech, but that didn't stop Percy eloquently declaring his eternal love. When he then went to sing his classic 'When A Man Loves A Woman', most people in the audience probably lost themselves to the memory of where they were when they first slow-danced to it; me, I went back to that hot night in the neighborhood and what seemed then like a forgotten soul man. The guy's now got his due. And if he hasn't got the voice any more, he's still got his girl. That's some real soul for you.


8) THE GREAT PRETENDER

Andy, Chrissie, Martin and Adam deliver their 'Message of Love.'

This one is complicated, for reasons that a few people know about and of which I'm far too professional to go into in public. Still, if you believe that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should first and foremost celebrate the rebellious spirit of Rock and Roll, you'll agree that Chrissie Hynde warrants her place in it. Personally, I was thrilled to be reunited with Martin Chambers, Andy Hobson and Adam Seymour, with whom I spent a week on a tour bus with in late 2003, turning them onto Bandol in Nimes in the process. Andy and Adam have not been in the band long enough to be inducted, and their predecessors James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon have long been dead. That left just Chrissie and Martin to act suitably irreverent from the podium – and from the stage where, it should be said, Chrissie told by far the rudest joke of the night. Neil Young was almost a match for them in his induction speech and certainly in his guitar playing on 'My City Was Gone.'


9) THE BOSS OF ALL BOSSES

Bruce trades verses with Bono on 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.' No, I didn't get this close to the stage. This one is owned by Getty Images.

The non-musical highlight for me was always going to be Bruce Springsteen inducting U2, and he didn't disappoint. In fact, it was much like one of his concerts – a lengthy journey building up to a brilliant crescendo, peppered with humorous self-effacement, and occasionally blunt honesty. He began his list of Bono's gifts to mankind with the credit "jeans designer." He peaked with his reminder that while he's never sold out any of his songs for commercials, U2 hawked 'Vertigo' for the Apple iPod – and his subsequent shock at finding out that U2 didn't take any money for it. ("So I called my manager back and said, 'I want you to call this Bill Gates guy or whoever runs this Apple company, and tell him we want to do a red, white and blue iPod signed on the back by Bruce 'The Boss' Springsteen… But however much he offers you, don't take any money for it!'") Are U2 truly "keepers of some of the most beautiful sonic architecture in the rock-and-roll world"? We can argue about that one in The Pub, but dispute this one at your peril: Bruce is the man you'd want delivering the Best Man speech at your Irish wedding.


10) LARRY MULLEN'S ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

Bono in rare 'lips sealed at the microphone' shot. God knows how I got that one - must have been a fast shutter speed! The soul of U2 stands behind him, waiting to shout out for The Sex Pistols and Patti Smith. The Boss of All Bosses stands to their far left...And yes, I was sat way at the back: I'm only a writer, after all.

As is so often the case in great rock bands, it's the drummer who provides U2's soul. Promising to be brief with his remarks – which makes hilarious sense when you recall that he rarely opens his mouth to speak in the first place – Larry Mullen Jr. confessed to feeling that U2 had "cut the line, jumped the queue" by getting into the Hall of Fame ahead of punks like The Sex Pistols and Patti Smith who had inspired the band to form in the first place. Kudos. As Bruce Springsteen then joined U2 for 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For', I couldn't help but think of Boy George's reaction to that song: "Bono, just look behind you: he's on the drum stool!"


11) U2 IN NON STADIUM FORMAT

Bono watches himself from a front table....

...And checks out The Edge from the stage.

A couple of months back, I somehow got locked out of a free concert U2 threw for the general public in my home Borough of Brooklyn. Monday night, I was among a select crowd for a private show they played in the Waldorf Astoria's Ballroom. Things have a way of even-ing out in life. I've been up and down with U2 over the years, and am most certainly not sold on How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, which means that 'Vertigo' would not have been my choice for the night's finale. But 'Until The End Of The World,' 'Pride (In The Name Of Love)' and'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' all do it for me. Interestingly, U2 knew to tone it down for the now-standing but still mostly be-suited audience, and avoided any of the grandiose gestures that have made them the biggest band in the world. Well, Bono did jump straight into the audience to watch himself on the big screen, but that's normal behaviour for him, is it not? No, rather than stadium rock, this was your Irish wedding band, eagerly playing rock and roll for an audience all dressed up and in no desire to go home. We hired an Irish wedding band for our ceremony twelve years ago. They were good. (They even learned 'I Can't Explain' and 'Teenage Kicks' specifically for the event.) But U2, it has to be said, were better.


12) THE BEST OF THE BLUES

The greatest musical moment of the night was one I had neither expected or anticipated. After being inducted by Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy put on his polka-dotted guitar and played an astonishingly subdued rendition of 'Damn Right I Got The Blues.' Listen, any old fool can plug in an electric guitar and play so loud that you don't hear the mistakes. It takes a lifetime of constant learning to play as quietly and skillfully as did Guy on Monday night, at one point allowing just his left (fret) hand to do the singing for the both of them. The generally buzzed room dropped to a muted hush out of respect for this display of guitar genius.

BB King (seated), Buddy Guy and Eric Clapton give a guitar lesson or threee.

That would have been it for me. Enough to go home with and be glad of the old barter system. But better was to follow. For 'Let Me Love You Baby,' Buddy Guy was joined by Eric Clapton, Robbie Robertsonand BB King. For ten solid minutes of live jamming, I heard guitar playing of a quality I've never witnessed in the flesh before. And, given how these blues guys are getting on in their years (King played seated, as did Bo Diddley later in the night, while a solo appearance by Jerry Lee Lewis was supper club saccharine), I doubt I'll ever witness it again. On my way to the bathroom, I saw three amps in the hallway marked with the names of Clapton, Guy, Robertson and Diddley and thought, "I've played through those same amps dozens of times; how comes I can't make my guitar sing like that?" But I already knew the answer. And it's why these people are still up on stage – and in a Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame whether they consider it oxymoronic or not - and why the rest of us can only watch in wonder and listen in delight. And be grateful for the barter system.


TUESDAY MARCH 15

COACHELLA CALL

I'm thinking about going to Coachella this year. It's typical that America should finally get itself a decent rock festival and it would be 2500 miles from where I live but when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. California has the environment – the physical space – to host a festival where the east coast doesn't. And anyway, I need an excuse to hit the west coast again. It's years since I've been out there.

The two-day event – April 30 and May 1 – reads a little like a Lyceum Sunday nighter circa 1981, what with New Order, Bauhaus, and the Gang of Four all on the bill.

[One reunion that won't now be taking place is the Cocteau Twins, Elizabeth Fraser having had second thoughts about getting back with former partner Robin Guthrie. Given that the pair were romantically entangled through much of the Cocteau Twins' career, it's understandable that she would have second thoughts.

I read about Fraser's withdrawal at my new favourite blog, Torr.org. The author, Torr Leonard, lives in Dalls and therefore does not have far to travel for the South By SouthWest Festival that takes place over the next few days in Austin. (I haven't been to that festival since 1988: living in NYC, I'm spoiled by the fact that overseas bands routinely head up this way within a week of the event anyway.) A passionate champion of file-sharing, he'll be taping some of the concerts he attends, and uploading the files via his phone. That's technology for you.]

But the Coachella bill is more than just Bands Reunited. Other acts announced include Coldplay, Chemical Brothers, Nine Inch Nails, Wilco, Keane, Snow Patrol, Bright Eyes, Bloc Party, Doves, Futureheads, Kasabian, Radio 4, Fiery Furnaces, Arcade Fire and Prodigy. In other words, iJamming!'s kind of line up. If any of my online friends are also planning on attending, let me know, as the companionship may be all I need to make the commitment.



MONDAY MARCH 14

MONDAY MORNING MUTED

It's got to be a quiet start to the iJamming! week, I'm afraid. I've just come back from an exhaustive recreational weekend and what with the annual visit from my dear old mum, didn't even think about work this past weekend. Sitting at my desk this morning, I'm surrounded by an enormous amount of the stuff that actually pays for that playtime, and it's going to take priority today. I also have to pack up early today, as the wife and I are off to (hopefully) enjoy a upscale music biz event, which I'm looking forward to reporting on later in the week. Meantime, there's plenty new material on the site for those of you who haven't surfed around in a while, including the Tim Booth interview that I posted on Thursday. In addition, The Pub has been proving increasingly active of late, with all kinds of conversations going on there that you're more than welcome to join in. Or start your own. To that end, I could always do with more American Pub regulars; I get a little concerned that this site is becoming more Anglocentric than ever. Any which way, expect normal service to be resumed tomorrow.

I hope readers don't mind me occasionally posting pictures of my family: iJamming! is as much a personal web site as a professional one, after all. It was a perfect Saturday on Hunter Mountain: 4" of fresh snow that kept the crowds from hitting the Thruway up from the city, but then tapered off just as the mountain opened, to be followed by eight hours of blazing sunshine. That may explain why Campbell looks so rosy here at the end of the day, with the sun going down the back of the mountain; I think it was also that he's finally mastered his turns on the snowboard, which gives him the confidence to zip down black runs - and on Saturday, his first double black, too. As a result, I no longer have to remind him what to do while he's coming down the mountain, and we can concentrate on having fun, instead. I said to him shortly after this picture was taken, "These are the best days of our lives," and as he replied, with a nine-year-old's perfect optimism, "You don't know that for sure. They could get better." Here's hoping. (Apologies for the crusty old geezer in the Palace ski hat; some of us ain't getting any younger!)

2005 MUSINGS:

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