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WHAT'S NEW IN iJAMMING!...

THE SPRING CLEANING HITLIST
Cassette tapes from yester-year

ERASURE Live in New York

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. 1981 just added.
Plus: 'Don't Stop 1983' and 'The Dog Song' 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!

SATURDAY MAY 21

"HERE COMES THE APOCALYPSE!"

The Apocalypse pages have been updated with new scrapbook photos and cuttings from 1981. (Many thanks to Pub member Katt for sending through additional pictures from the 101 Club in Clapham.) Also uploaded: a live MP3 of 'The Dog Song' by the 'old,' 3-piece Apocalypse from December 1981. Listen to it here and read about it here. We may make a couple more of these early Apocalypse songs available before compiling the 1982 scrapbooks and uploading additional studio recordings from the 'later' years. Enjoy. And feel free to comment on any of this in the Apocalypse thread in The Pub.


FRIDAY MAY 20

FRIDAY FUN

No two pedestrian signs in Staines are alike. No, really. Over at flickr.com, Raindog has neatly arranged them to prove as much – and he's given them names, too. My fave: Mr. Beergut.



Now I know that barely half the UK populace bothered to vote earlier this month and that most of those did so reluctantly, but is apathy really so widespread that more people can't enter this competition? Or is just that nobody visits Steve Lamacq's Radio 6 message board? The challenge is simple: to review an album in 33 words. The reward is reasonably exciting: become a Critic of The People and appear on the following Friday's Roundtable. Yet only nine people have so far managed to review The Clash, by The Clash. Come on people, it must be the greatest debut album of all time. If you need ideas, you're free to crib them from my book. Excerpts are here. I have, however, already entered with a ludicrously cheeky but highly accurate review.


A more popular thread on Radio 6's Lamacq message board is that for Best Debut Album. (Did we run a similar thread in our Pub? Or was ours just for Top Albums overall?) The lack of Clash reviews above may be explained by the lack of listeners/surfers on this thread who cite the debut Clash album. They're too busy positing The Pixies instead. What's wrong with teens today? Why aren't they wallowing in nostalgia like the rest of us?


Another Lamacq link. This news item appeared in today's Drowned In Sound. Does it make the Gallaghers scabs?

"In a decision more something than we could possibly comment on, it appears that Radio 1 are planning to combat their potential strike disruptions with an Oasis day. Monday 23rd May will see the corporation's flagship station playing exclusive album tracks and a live set.

Songs from 'Don't Believe The Truth' will be played throughout the day and Noel Gallagher will be doing a sleb chat with Jo Whiley.

Steve Lamacq will finish off the night with a Lamacq Live Special, broadcasting the headline set from the band at London's Clapham Grand."


Cue Tony Page's fave joke:
Q: Is this bus going to Clapham?
A: Only if they perform well.


This is no joke - though it is kind of funny. Marky Ramone played drums for Lisa Marie Presley's outdoor show in downtown Manhattan the other day. Lisa, who has the odd distinction of being both the daughter of The King and the ex-wife of The King Of Pop, sang a rendition of The Ramones' 'Here Today, Gone Tomorrow.'


Does that make Lisa Marie a swinging chick? I don't know, but doing some research the other day – I swear it was research – I came across the Swingin' Chicks of the Sixties web site. Alongside the obvious – Honor Blackman, Twiggy, Sharon Tate, Natalie Wood etc.- I was impressed to see this detailed profile on the delightful Kim Moon.


Enough frivolity for today. Last night I was on my feet for several hours watching Doves and Mercury Rev. Tonight I expect to take in four happening newish bands at about three venues, and at some point I'll try and make sense of it all and write up some kind of overview. In the meantime, we're almost finished with an Apocalypse 1981 photos page and a live MP3 from that year too. Check back over the next 24 hours.


THURSDAY MAY 19

THE BASS IS THE PLACE

Everybody should have a peripatetic friend who shows up at unexpected but welcome intervals to brighten their lives. I have Guy Pratt. Met him at a party when I was about 12, where he taught me how to play 'Pinball Wizard' and 'Substitute' on the guitar; next ran into him when he was bassist with Speedball (see Apocalypse flyer here); then when he was hanging with his old school-mate Youth from Killing Joke and that whole Notting Hill crowd; fell out of touch for years during which time he moved to LA and recorded with Michael Jackson and Madonna; got back in touch after he took Roger Waters' place in Pink Floyd (for real); and in more recent times have followed his career by watching his name show up with songwriting and bass playing credits from Marianne Faithfull albums to Jimmy Nail movies. (Check his partial credit list at allmusic.com here.) On the few occasions I get to see him he's either writing a musical with Gary Kemp, having pop hits with Alex James from Blur, teaming up with Damien Hirst for some international mischief, planning world domination with Johnny Marr, or DJ'ing with Alex from The Orb. Guy is one of those people who never sits still, is always in good humor, and of whose life you can't help but think, that would make a great play.

Which is, I'm pleased to see, what he's done. My Bass and Other Animals runs for three weeks in August at the suitably named Underbelly Theatre. In the interim, two nights of previews take place at June 14 and 15 at the Canal Café Theatre, located on Delamere Terrace in Little Venice. (Tel: 0871 332 2701). Knowing Guy, I am quite certain you will get your money's worth.


It's the kind of connection that Guy, a Who mod if ever there was, should love. Did anyone else hear that cover version of the Quadrophenia finale 'Love Reign O'Er Me' by Star You Star Me on Chris Coco's Blue Room show Sunday morning? It was played as the Milkman Tune about two-thirds of the way in, and though I don't believe the BBC Radio Player allows you to fast-forward through the archived show, it's hardly as if an iJamming! reader won't enjoy everything else that precedes it. The single is credited to the Kickin' label, but it's not yet showing up on their web site. while I can find other Star You Star Me releases at t he label's web site, this one is currently conspicous by its absence: a B-side or a pre-release, most likely. Either way, given its laid-back similarity to the highly popular Nouvelle Vague take on the new wave classics, I'm sure we'll be hearing it again.

This may be the right time to mention that Chris Coco's new studio album, Heavy Mellow, is out at the end of this month. And that track six, 'Memory Of A Free Party' uses as its lyrics a section from my novel Hedonism, as read by Anthony Roman of Radio 4. Chris's last studio album featured some Iain Banks fiction, so you can imagine how flattered I feel about this. The Hedonism section in question is an edit from this chapter. You can read more about Heavy Mellow here. And visit Chris Coco's own site here.


WEDNESDAY MAY 18

LOVE STILL TEARS US APART...

Ian Curtis of Joy Division died 25 years ago today. He was just 23 years old. Joy Division's successors, New Order, played New York two weeks ago for the first time in a decade. They are not playing tonight. Nor should they be. (Thanks to Jaffo for the reminder.)


LOVE'S STILL LIKE ANTHRAX

Gang of Four played New York last night for the first time with their original line-up since 1981. So eager were they to make up for lost time that they actually played twice – once at Irving Plaza and then again, just two hours later, at the Tribeca Grand Hotel, for a semi-secret show that appears to have been either invite only, or $50 a pop, depending on your connections. I have connections and was invited down there, but the one show was good enough for the night – especially as the second one would not have finished until 2.30am. Expect a review and more photos later in the week. Gang Of Four are playing Irving Plaza again tonight. Radio 4 are opening.


POST-PUNK IS STILL NOT DEAD...

Is there an original Spizz line-up? Does guitarist Pete Petrol still stand by his side? Maybe I should ask him. The first ever Independent Chart Topper and myself have been exchanging e-mails this past week since he sent me an announcement of his Holiday Weekend show at the 100 Club. Spizz answered last week's post about 'Where's Captain Kirk's non appearance on the national charts as follows:

"Rough Trade refused to join the BPI record company club largely due to a
considerable sum required for membership.
It is this reason therefore why we were unable to get higher than No: 40
which was the required position for an act to be offered a Top Of The pops
appearance. So with no TOTP appearance our appeal to the wider record
buying public was lost and I think that it is a safe bet we would have sold
more with an appearance. Like others before us our back catalogue would have
been discovered and who knows 6000 Crazy could have also charted Ha ha.
I am well aware that there is no guarantee that we would have sustained a
top flight career but at least MTV and other pop & rock cable channels would
have re-run the tracks and this may well mean that shows like the 100 club
on Sunday 29th May could be more frequent or bigger events.

Its a wonder I am not all bitter and twisted with a melancholic black bile
seeping and eating into me eh?

oh and then REM cover Where's Captain Kirk? and give it away to their fan
club as a limited edition of 6000 copies - now that IS crazy.

I could've been a contender Hahaha"

[I sympathise over the R.E.M. issue: if you allow that New Order once boasted of earning an extra £50,000 when James Last covered 'Blue Monday' on LP, this in around 1984, you can imagine what, say Wire earned from R.E.M.'s decision to cover them on a million selling album.]

I wrote back to Spizz and asked if he could confirm 'Where's Captain Kirk' sales figures as I had recalled being told, back at the time, of sales in excess of 50,000. He replied:

"I was told a figure of 80,000 but that could be for all of 1980
'Soldier Soldier' and 'No Room' 50,000 each
Prior to the release of the 1st LP according to the Record Mirror in a
paragraph they ran on their chart page... They estimated our combined sales
was around 250,000 and that we were probably the
"biggest selling band not to have had a top twenty hit"
'Do A Runner' did go Top 20 in August (usually a low sales month)

You'd think we would have been invited to the celebration of 20 years of
Rough Trade events a couple of years ago eh?
Didn't even get a mention on their website

Rough Trade appear to be Orwellian and rewrite us out of the picture"

(He might mean that Rough Trade is Stalinist. Poor Orwell gets associated with all sorts of crimes he merely reported on and fictionalized.)

Spizz Energi plays the 100 Club on May 29.


...BUT LIVE MUSIC IS UNDER THREAT AT PUNK MECCA CBGB

Did Joy Division, New Order, Gang of Four, or Spizz Energi ever play CBGB? If not, there's not much time to make amends. At a press conference Monday to launch the CBGB chocolate bar and punk rock box, CB's proprieter Hilly Kristal delivered a doomsday scenario. His landlords, non-profit though they may be, have refused to negotiate with him over a new lease come September, and are currently soliciting interested parties who can afford up to $85 a square foot. (Kristal pays in the region of $30 a square foot right now.)

There are two schools of thought about the future of CBGB. One is that no venue, not The Cavern Club, The Marquee, Max's Kansas City Nor CBGB, is sacred, and that, after thirty years, Kristal might simply have to accept that his time is up and retire. I may have intimated as much in my Times piece on Sunday. But I also belong to the camp that says CBGB should survive not just because of its history, but because it continues to operate by the punk rock ethic on which it was founded. Hilly might be perhaps the only club owner in New York City – especially one of 30+ years continual hands-on operation – of whom nobody has a bad word. At the press conference Monday night, the ever understated Hilly made three important points:

1) That he was interested in turning part of the venue – perhaps the gallery area in which we were meeting – into a museum, clearly recognizing that much of the club's traffic is from overseas tourists who visit it for historical rather than contemporary relevance.
2) He's unaware of any large-scale club operation that has ever moved and survived. I thought immediately of Wardour Street's Marquee, shifted to Charing Cross Road for a painful few years before being put out of its misery, and nodded my head.
3) He plans to fill the August date book with benefits and protest appearances from every CBGB alumni he can find. He hinted that Green Day, currently booked into that little club known as Giants Stadium in early September, owe him one. If CBGB is still standing come then, I wouldn't be surprised if they agreed.

The chocolate connection had a lot of people both licking their lips and scratching their heads; as I mentioned last week, the sudden craze for luxury foods seems more like part of the gentrification problem, not the CBGB solution. But Chocolate Bar founder Alison Nelson announced herself as a simple girl from Queens who'd grown up going to CBGB and wanted her chocolate company to have a fun, street connection – and had approached CBGB for a tie-in before even learning that the venue was in trouble. To her credit, the bars and the boxes come with pre-paid petitions to save CBGB and, you know what, they're damn good chocolates too. You can petition to save CBGB without putting on calories: visit the save cbgb site here.

CBGB is like a box of chocolates...

...Actually, it is a box of chocolates


TUESDAY MAY 17

LIVE AND YET MORE LIVE

Even when I plan a weekend without live music, it ends up dominating my schedule. As follows:


Exhibit A: Luna Lounge, Friday night.

I'm sitting at home contemplating a nice quiet evening in before an early race Saturday, when I get a phone call telling me Stellastarr* are playing Luna Lounge tonight. No, they're not the very biggest band in the world and so this is not the equivalent of Bruce Springsteen dropping in at the Stone Pony. But Stellastarr* haven't played anywhere in months, and Luna is closing in a few weeks. It would be crazy not to take advantage.

The pretext for the unannounced gig was not so much for Stellastarr* to say a final farewell to the venue at which they played their very first gig – back on July 3, 2000 - than to test out the just finished, as yet untitled second album on stage. To that end, they delivered what more bands should do more often – a set of entirely new material. An opening ballad, 'Lost In Time,' suggested that this new album, scheduled for September release, will be more conventional than the debut – or, as singer Shawn Christensen told me afterwards, more "disciplined" and "spacious." Which makes sense: all bands must develop to maintain relevance, and after almost five years playing much the same material, Stellastarr* are ready to grow out of their youthful eccentricities. That said, the back-to-back mid-set songs 'Love and Longing' and 'Island Lost At Sea' each played heavily on one of rock's most over-used words, "stay." And perhaps because guitarist Michael Jurin had turned his reverb unit up to 11 and was now playing top-of-the-neck arpeggios, I couldn't help but hear U2's influence where previously was referenced the likes of The Pixies.

As they were: Stellastarr* on board a boat, June 2002

Fortunately, Stellastarr* still can't help but write off-kilter songs, three of which leaped straight from the stage to my heart: 'Sweet Troubled Soul,' with the lovely chorus line "I want to see your face in the reflection of my bedroom stereo"; 'Damn This Foolish Heart,' with an instant singalong verse a la The Buzzcocks; and 'The Diver,' which oozed quality from start to finish. And plenty more about the show remained endearingly the same: Shawn and bassist Amanda Tannen teaming up on phonetic backing vocals, drummer Arthur Kremer taking his shirt off (minus the nipple tape, though); all four members consuming water and Gatorade like they were running a marathon. That's one reason I've been such an ardent and enthusiastic follower of this group; I've never seen them give anything less than the proverbial 110%.

As secret gigs go, this was just about perfect: free admission, near a dozen new songs, an encore of the three firm favorites, and just enough hardcore fans and friends to fill the room but no more. I didn't bring the camera because a) it's no longer fun to do so at live shows, as proven by the fact that just about everyone else in the room spent the gig pointing their mobile phones at the stage, and b) I've photographed so many of their earlier gigs, back to when their Luna shows were actually advertised. Stellastarr* are playing a semi-announced show this Friday at the Bowery Ballroom under the name The Ligers for the launcch of NY2LON. The Ordinary Boys are also on the bill.


A couple of iJamming! pub members and myself went to meet Dan Freeman at The Gate on 5th Ave Saturday afternoon for the half way point of his "thousand bars in one year" adventure. We expected a young slacker. Turns out he's retired (but of course!). Nice chap though; read his blog here.


Exhibit B) Herman MacNeill Park, College Point, Queens, Saturday morning.

The New York Road Runners Club was kind enough to hire a live band for entertainment both before and after the Queens Half Marathon. This may be to compensate its members for an awkwardly-located starting point and an awfully ugly course. (None of which stopped almost 3000 runners from taking part.) So my thanks to The Rumrats for delivering a set of energetic covers that included 'I Melt With You,' 'I'm a Believer' and 'American Idiot.' (You can hear their note-for-note rendition of the Green Day anthem by clicking on their web site.) Bonus points to singer Marcus Bennett for wearing a Who target t-shirt. What I want to know, though, is what rock'n'roll band in its right mind agrees to a 7am gig? Especially to play to an audience whose main purpose in being there is to run miles away from the stage as fast as they possibly can? Did the band set their alarms for 4am? Or did they just stay up all night? Given that they claim to be the "proud personal sponsors of White Castle, highly recommended at 5 AM," it may well have been the latter. Either way, I for one appreciated the effort.


Exhibit C) The Fabulous 5th Avenue Street Fair, Park Slope, Brooklyn, Sunday afternoon.

Well, we knew there'd be live music all over this one. There were stages set up outside Southpaw and The Gate; there was, once again, a death metal band (Bloodrot!) on the corner of 9th Street; there were several DJs, including a solid hip-hop/ragga set outside the brand new sneakers-and-tees hip-hop shop Premium Goods; and there was still some salsa and meringue for and from the steadily-diminishing Hispanic residents. The weather was less co-operative than in recent years, occasional showers sending fair-goers scattering for cover. And, as I suspected, the presence and promotional skills of Chris Acosta and his Moda Café's streetwise DJ sets was greatly missed. Moda's space, bang next door to record store Somethin' Else, has been taken by a jazz bar that's yet to officially open: the new proprietors hosted an inspired live set on the far corner, but it wasn't the same.

Mussels at The Gate

Bloodrot at The Bank: all of the good names have obviously been taken!

Still, there was ample incentive to meander the mile-plus stretch of what seems to now be officially (and therefore dangerously) Brooklyn's hippest Avenue. All the restaurants and bars, as ever, set up their wares on the sidewalk, with residents casually drinking on the go to take-out food from around the world; there were pitches for the Brooklyn Free School and petitions against Bruce Ratner; there was a tasting from the Dow of Wine and free samples from The Chocolate Room; and upcoming Latin restaurant Bogota was wisely asking people not just to sign a mailing list for a possible free dinner – but to name their favorite Latin food in the process. I begged them to make a smoothie out of the Brazilian fruit Acai as was so popular (not least with me) down in Rio. They seemed up for it. Listening to your customers is always the best way to secure their loyalty.

Premium Goods: hip hop comes to the block with a sneakers-and-tees store around 6th Street.

Chip Shop and you don't stop: Chris keeps the Union Jack flying high while serving up the Shepherd Pie

Down at 5th Street, I finally got round to trying the Chip Shop's excellent Wild Mushroom Shepherds Pie, washed down with Black Sheep Ale's novelty but quality Monty Python Holy Grail. (Grail=ale. Get it?) Dinner was a take-out from Long Tan, whose Curry Puffs were rightly described as "subtle somosas". Their definition of "mild curry," on the other hand, might need some tightening; that or the chef had just gotten carried away by the exuberance of the occasion. The fair concluded quietly at 6pm, absent Moda's "extended license" drama of last year. Consider it a more disciplined street fair, a reflection perhaps of the changes on the Avenue. But still consider it one of the best in a city that, for all its visible faultlines, has free live music built into its very foundations.


There's live music in the diary almost every night this week. Rather than potted reviews every morning, I'll find a way to round up the week's worth when it's done with. (I.e. when I can think straight!)


MONDAY MAY 16

BRING ON THE MILLWALL

...And Hull City. And Crewe. And Burnley. Otherwise known as... nobody's fault but our own. Crystal Palace go down, again.


SUNDAY MAY 15

GO TO BROOKLYN, PUNK

"Success does not guarantee survival in this city. The factors that enable a music club to become a going concern - cheap rents, low prices, a poor but avid customer base - are certain to change when the neighborhood becomes popular, the venue makes money or the lease is up."

From an Op-Ed piece I have in the City section of The New York Times today. As ever, the headline's not mine, though I couldn't help smiling at it. See you at the Fabulous 5th Avenue Street Fair.


FRIDAY MAY 13

HOW TO GET PEOPLE TO YOUR READING...

...Jeffrey Yamaguchi has discovered the secret. Get your co-workers to your reading by writing reading a story about them. This scenario, played out last night at Barbes in the Slope for the last of Ned Vizzini's Reading Series, was a stroke of marketing savvy – but the story itself was funny enough to merit an audience of its own. I loved the anecdote in which he gets his girlfriend into a truly horny situation and then, rather than complementing her for being "so f***ing sexy," can't help slip into Big Mouth Strikes Again mode and instead blurt out:

"How much do you think I pay hookers for this?"

Yamaguchi hosts several web sites of which workingfortheman.com has "but one rule: you check it out while you're on the clock. This site is meant to be read on company time."
What about the millions of us who refuse to work for the man? Presumably we should be working on our own sites. Right then.


HOW TO HAVE A HAPPY MARRIAGE...

...Shout at each other? Seems to work for Josh Saitz, who went one better than Yamaguchi, quoting from the expletive-ridden insults his wife throws his way over the course of their evidently contented life together. (Their baby was in the room, too, proving that they find time for intimacy, too.) You can read some of Juli's Maxi Rants here. Saitz is an old-school New Yorker, the kind who finds time in his life to publish a proper print-and-ink fanzine. Better yet, rather than waste all those fallen trees on interviews with wanna-be rock stars, he uses Negative Capability to write about the inanities and uncertainties of his own life. Most of it is nonetheless archived online. I stumbled on this "mash-up" account that creatively recreates a job interview at Penthouse. Brilliant.


HOW TO DRIVE READERS FROM YOUR READING

Headliner John Falk – that's assuming that readings have headliners –decided to preface a reading from his acclaimed memoir Hello to All That: A Memoir of War, Zoloft, and Peace by recounting his entire life story. Twenty minutes later, he'd just about reached his college years; a copy of his book – in which he attempts to cure depression by taking a job as war correspondent job in Bosnia - remained firmly closed in front of him. Come on, some of us have dinner on the table. At least I did.


Quote of the Day: "Everyone's a Communist at 19."
Tracy Ullman on last night's Jon Stewart show admiring her teenager's chutzpah, campaigning for Labour in their Mayfair neighborhood. "Can you be a Communist while carrying a Marc Jacobs bag?" she quipped.


HOW TO MAKE UP FOR NOT ATTENDING A GIG

Had hoped to catch The Dead 60s and Kid Casanova at North Six but that venue's in Williamsburg and by now, there's probably a contract out on me up there for all the righteous shit I've given the hipsters these last few years. No, truth be told, a) Williamsburg hipsters have no idea a world exists beyond the L line, and b) I just couldn't handle the late night gig. I did the middle-aged thing, stayed in and wrote e-mails while listening to CDs by the two bands in question. Kid Casanova's an up-and-coming NYC band I befriended at Shout! a couple of years ago, and I'll catch them live at some point, I'm sure. Dead 60s are an endearing Liverpudlian cross between The Clash and Gang of Four which, not surprisingly, means they sound very much like Radio 4.

This leads me into next week's logistical nightmare: shows by - get ready now – Kasabian, Gang Of Four, Radio 4, Dead 60s, Doves, Mercury Rev, Hot Hot Heat, Nine Inch Nails, The Ordinary Boys, and Thievery Corporation, all in the space of the five days that comprise most peoples' working week. (There's also a band called The Bravery but, given the competition, I think we can pass on them.) I'm going to take in as much as my body and hearing can manage; in the face of so much music, I'll keep the organized iJamming! night until a less busy week.


HOW TO KEEP YOUR KID AWAY FROM CARTOON NETWORK

News from the home front: Posie and Campbell showed up yesterday afternoon with a fish. Apparently, they've always wanted one and decided the best way to get me to agree was to present it as a fait a complis: they know, after all, I'm not going to do anything to hurt it. It's called Aurora; it appears to have several tails – or else it needs a hair cut - and while it's short on the wow factor, at least it doesn't wake us up in the middle of the night screaming for food. Unlike our cat. The cat that was born in the wild, which eats mice for breakfast and, when the mood takes it, hunts, catches, scalps and eats squirrels... (I've seen him do it.) And my wife and son bring home a fish for company? At least we won't need to watch Tom & Jerry reruns for a while.

In the name of thorough research, I just got round to asking Posie what kind of fish it is. apparently, it's a Fighting Fish. Ohyeah? Let's see what the cat has to say about that.

More news from the home front: Noel slept nine hours last night, and all but the last of those coincided with our own sleep pattern. He then celebrated this achievement by rolling over for the first time. He's got a test next week to see if the infection that drove him to the hospital in February is internal or was just bacterial. In all other regards he's been the perfect baby. If he'd only stop smiling so much, I'd get more work done.


Statistic of the Day:

Turn Out among registered voters in The British Election, May 2005: 61.3%. (Source: BBC.)

Turn Out among Eligible Voters in the USA Election, November 2004: 60% (Source: United States Election Project.)

Add in all those Americans who were frustrated in their attempt to vote - nothing to be proud of, we know - and factor in just how easy it is to vote in the UK, and we can put to rest all those comments about American apathy. At least in comparison to their British cousins.


HOW TO SPEND A PARK SLOPE WEEKEND

Saturday, at The Gate, 5th Ave and 3rd Street, 2pm, join Dan Freeman as he celebrates the half way point in his year long, 1000 bar journey. I'll be coming from the Queens Half-Marathon so if you see someone collapsed in the corner from one beer, that'll be me. Sunday, whatever the weather, come join the Fabulous Fifth Avenue Street Fair. The Avenue's at a peak; it will likely get yet busier in future years, but it may never get better.


THURSDAY MAY 12

SPOT THE YEAR

Got an e-mail from Spizz the other day. Yes, that Spizz, he of 'Where's Captain Kirk?' infamy. Not surprisingly, he's on board the post-punk revival wagon and playing the 100 Club on May 29. I like the poster...

...Though the Glastonbury In London business escapes me.

Spizz has several entertaining accomplishments to his track record, such as that he changed the name of his band every year. His website boasts, rightly enough, that the Spizz Energi single 'Where's Captain Kirk?' was on top of the first ever THE FIRST OFFICIAL UK INDIE CHART of 19th Jan 1980. What he's too modest to mention is that the success of that single largely influenced the very formation of that chart (by Iain McNay of Cherry Red Records, the same label that just put out the Apocalypse CD). 'Where's Captain Kirk?' was selling in phenomenal numbers at the time; back in the days when I used to spend my after-school afternoons pretty much just hanging out at Rough Trade, that label's original publicist Scott Piering (RIP) would deliver regular updates on why RT thought the single was being purposefully excluded from the national single chart. If I remember quickly - and if Spizz is reading, maybe he can offer an honest answer - 'Where's Captain Kirk?' accrued over 50,000 7" sales across a six-month period. These days, a concerted effort to concentrate those 50,000 sales across a few weeks would get you well into the Top 10.

What else was on that first UK Indie Chart? Spizz's site prints the list, as does the book Indie Hits 1980-1989, compiled by Barry Lazell for Cherry Red Books. Here's the Top 10:

1 WHERE'S CAPTAIN KIRK? - SPIZZENERGI
2 DAYTRIP TO BANGOR - FIDDLERS DRAM
3 MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS - DELTA FIVE
4 WHITE MICE - MODETTES
5 CALIFORNIA UBER ALLES - DEAD KENNEDYS
6 TRANSMISSION - JOY DIVISION
7 EARCOM THREE (EP) - VARIOUS
8 WE ARE ALL PROSTITUTES - THE POP GROUP
9 KAMIKAZE - BOYS
10 SILENT COMMAND - CABERET VOLTAIRE

I probably owned every one of those at the time - except the Fiddlers Dram crossover of course. And most of them have stood the test of time. The same can not be said about some of the next ten, though they display some of the humor that was running rampant in a scene where anybody could - and pretty much everybody did - release their own record.

11 TAAGA (EP) - DANGEROUS GIRLS
12 BILL GRUNDY (EP) - TV PERSONALITIES
13 HE'S FRANK - MONOCHROME SET
14 SHEEP FARMING IN BARNET - TOYAH
15 YOU'VE NEVER HEARD... - FRESHMEN
16 I'M IN LOVE WITH MARGARET THATCHER - NOT SENSIBLES
17 FOUR A-SIDES - SCRITTI POLITTI
18 YOU CAN BE YOU - HONEY BANE
19 SID DID IT - NAZIES AGAINST FACISM
20 PEEL SESSIONS - SCRITTI POLITTI

For those keeping count, a mammoth 8 of these 20 - 40% of the singles - were on Rough Trade, 2 were on Fast, the rest were equally divided between different bedroom/indie labels. And people wonder why there's so much nostalgia for this era. Any memories come flooding back that any of you wish to share?


Last time our New Zealand pub member Mick 'The Lovegod' entered an iJamming! quiz, he won a signed book. I can't promise the same this time, but I appreciate that he took a stab at answering the Clash questions we cribbed from Tuesday's Mastermind. Anyone care to have a go at the two he can't get? And Mick, I hate to say it, but your willingness to spend long hours figuring out all these answers plays into the cliche of there being nothing to do in New Zealand but.... drink good wine? Put our mind at ease, will you?


Finally, getting right up to the present day, it's hard to pick up the New York Press without someone on staff complaining about the smoking ban. (Which is so weakly enforced that anyone who stays out beyond 11pm can usually find a bar to smoke in anyway.) The paper at least had the decency to print a couple of responses to last week's whine. Though I don't want to come off quite as rude as the latter reader, I essentially share their feelings:

"Re: Again With The Frog In the Pan (5/4): Can you retards get over the smoking ban? Smoking is disgusting. It makes your hair and clothes smell. It makes your teeth and fingers turn yellow and kills hundreds of thousands of people a year. Furthermore, secondhand smoke is just as unhealthy. People have adapted to the ban and everyone is happy.
Maybe you smokers are unaware how uncomfortable and sickened you made non-smokers feel, who happen to be the majority of New Yorkers, by the way. We haven't lost any fucking freedom; the only thing we've lost is that disgusting cigarette smoke smell that permeated our bar-hopping clothes."
Greg Faber, Manhattan

"Re: Again With The Frog In the Pan (5/4): I'm fed up with you guys referring to the NYC smoking ban as a taking away of freedom. Are you dupes of the tobacco industry, or what? What about people like me? I stopped smoking in 1965 when I was 14. I've worked as a drummer in many bar bands and had to put up with inconsiderate smokers for years. Whether working with a band or enjoying a night on the town, I used to come home with my hair and clothes reeking of the smell of cigarette smoke. But no more! The smoking ban has made going to bars more pleasurable. The NYC smoking ban isn't about taking away anyone's freedom, but creating additional freedom: Freedom from the unwanted smoke of tobacco addicts when I want to eat a meal or get drunk. So shut your pie-hole and quit complaining about losing the freedom to smoke."
Paul Maringelli, Sunnyside, NY


WEDNESDAY MAY 11

NEW YORK NIGHTS

The Place: Outside the projects on Randall Avenue in the Soundview section of the South Bronx.
The Time: 10pm last night

I'm just about to pull my car out from an interview location when another car pulls alongside, then backs up. I figure he wants my parking spot, but being a scrupulous driver, I decide to finish my phone call before pulling out. Good move. The car pulls up alongside us: there's three white guys in it. The driver beckons my passenger to pull his window down. It's always possible he's going to ask for directions, but one look at his crew and they don't seem lost. I hang up my call.

Other Driver: "What you doing here?"
My passenger: "Visiting a friend."
Other driver: "Visiting a friend?"
My passenger: "Yeah."
Me: "Yeah."
Other Driver: "Yeah? What for?"
My passenger: "For an interview." Pointing at me: "My friend's a journalist."
Other Driver: "Oh yeah?" To me: "A journalist, eh?"
Me: "Yeah." Beat. "I assume you're cops."
Other driver: "No." Beat. "We're journalists." Beat. "And we've got the fucking guns and the shields to prove it."

Great exchange. I should use that in a novel. I was always was a bit of a smart alec. Especially at school. Still: it got the pretence over with quickly enough. I realize now that the cop had been waiting for me to pull out while I was still on the phone so he had due reason to book us and presumably search us. (He tries telling me I was talking while driving, but I insist I hung up before moving the car...) In the end, he could hardly accuse us of anything other than that being white people in the South Bronx. Which, excuse us for refusing to succumb to stereotypical racial fears, is not a crime. Funny thing is, we thought we looked like cops, so you never know: they might have thought we were doing some undercover on their turf. Cops get terriorial like that. After a few more pointed words, we were allowed to drive off. We then had to follow his crew down the street while he harassed and pulled over three young (black) kids on bicycles. It's times like this you want to dig out your NWA tapes, if you know what I mean.

I did come home with something that felt like contraband, though: a lo-fi recording of a Bronx hip-hop jam starring Grandwizard Thodore, Mean Gene and Cordio from back in 1977 – two full years before 'Rapper's Delight' was recorded. So it was well worth the harassment.


Stopped in on the way home to the So Much To Answer For night at 12" Bar. I was about the only person there – white or black - so I took up DJ Matt's - I mean, Ian and Liam's - invite to play some records. (I see Matt's posted on his site already that I was "guest DJ." Sneaky. I even bought my own beer!) Matt has about every record that's ever come out of Manchester and beyond. New New Order on vinyl, new Tim Booth on vinyl, Joy Division Peel sessions, Stone Roses remixes, all the 808 State, A Guy Called Gerald stuff I don't know, all the A Certain Ratio albums, Doves mixes I've never seen, even Northside on vinyl… a great shame there weren't sufficient people there to appreciate it. If you're a New Yorker, try and visit 12" Bar some time. It's on Essex Street, right round the corner from Luna and Mercury Lounges. And Tuesday nights are guaranteed good music.


Bless my mother's cotton socks. A devoted reader of this site, she took yesterday's Mastermind comment as a personal challenge and sent me an e-mail last night with as many of the Clash questions and answers as she could make out from a slowly-rewound video of the show. Some samples:

Who was their temporary fifth/new member? (Around 1978-79?)
Joe strummer joined in '76 from which band?
What song was used in a Jeans advert in '91 that topped the chart?
In which French town was there a riot during a festival in 1977?
In which town was Joe Strummer arrested for fighting with audience member?
Which Melody Maker writer managed them in 1978?
Who produced their debut album?
What was the B-side to the 1978 single 'Tommy Gun'?

Any takers?

2005 MUSINGS:

May 9-15: Brooklyn Beats, New York Nights, Cider With Roadies, Spizz, Clash, Basquiat,
May 2-8: The Spring (Cleaning) Hitlist, Cure vs. Smiths, Happy Endings, Brooklyn Real Estate Bust, Save CBGB: Eat More Chocolate
April 25-May 1: Erasure live, LeNell's Wine store, Happy Endings, Peter Hook
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