|FRIDAY OCTOBER 11
As you can no doubt tell, I've been on a blitz this past week to get new full-length features up on the site. The latest - and last for a while - is a story called 'The Palace' which is, in fact, Chapter 3 from Coming and Going. (Chapter 1 was David; Chapter 2 was Alice.) What, though, is Coming And Going? Put simply, it's a collection of inter-related short stories I've been writing over the years, which follow the progression of the narrator from wide-eyed idol worship, through childhood and pubescence in 1970s south London on into... something else I haven't fully realised or concluded. Until I do, and to keep myself inspired, I'm happy to post the first few chapters as a 'work-in-progress.' David and Alice have actually been up since the site launched; Coming and Going even had its own header button up top for a while, now replaced by The Forum one. For various reasons, I decided to go back to it. Who knows, I may even get on and finish the thing in the near future. Anyway, enjoy the stories as you will, for what they are - and comment on them if you feel so inclined. As Ballboy's Gordon McIntyre said on stage Wednesday night at the Knitting Factory, "That's what we do as artists - seek attention from total strangers!"
THURSDAY OCTOBER 10
LIFE WAS TIMELESS DAYS WERE LONG
As promised yesterday, I've posted the Jam! interview from Jamming! 9,conducted and printed way back in '79. Chances are you won't have seen it before. As with anything from one's youth, it all looks blissfully naive through the mists of time, but it serves to captures the mood of the era and makes me not a little nostalgia for the simplicity of those days. Enough said: You can find it here.
While I was at it, I included the scans from Jamming! 5 of the Adam Ant interview, back on the eve of his first ever single release. Equally naive, though more so on Mr Ant's part than my own, you can read the whole interview here.
I'm also debating whether to post the third installment from Coming and Going, a 'work-in-progress' memoir of sorts written in short story form. When I launched iJamming!, I put up the first two 'chapters' - David and Alice - and then held back because the saga got more personal and was far from finished. But the subject of the book, as well as the subjects themselves, have come up a lot in conversation recently and I'm thinking, what the hell? If I can't use my web site to try out some ideas and post some personal reflections, what's the point in having it? Maybe tomorrow, as I think The Chords once sang.
It's not all nostalgia though. I've seen a slew of live acts these last couple of nights and will be sure to comment on them tomorrow - or as soon as I'm through with the updates.
And no, I didn't dream about Britney again; I think it was just a one-night stand!
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 9
ME AND MS SPEARS, WE GOT A THANG GOING ON....
|Britney Spears: Neither topless, on the sofa, or in kissing mode...But we all dream, bizarrely enough!
So last night I have this completely bizarre dream that I'm on a sofa in a club somewhere - snogging with a topless Britney Spears. She's a good kisser, too! Of course the dream stopped before we went too far, but still
I'd ask you to psycho-analyse me but I know at least some of what's going on. My dreams are usually pretty literal, and yesterday afternoon I read a NYTimes cover story about the 'repackaging of Britney' as an adult; later I met a friend who was telling me about a recent snog fest. But then this morning I get an e-mail update from Kingsize-USA boasting how Britney stopped in at their Wednesday night Hump Day Sessions at the East Village bar Drinkland. Now here's where things get weird: I'm meant to be spinning Hump-Day real soon. . . Am I being sent some strange signal from the ether or is that just plain coincidence? Do they have sofas at Drinkland? Are you allowed to go topless? And just to really confuse things, I've never ever pictured Britney as any kind of feminine icon or sex symbol; I've always though of her as someone better suited for Kingsize's Saturday night sessions instead, the S.L.U.T. Night. (And judging by my adulterous dreams, I guess I'm better suited for that one too.)
Moving swiftly along (!), the vivid dream may also be related to the large amounts of red wine I downed over at First, a restaurant in the East Village. A friend decided it was time to drink up a bunch of Californian Cabernets from 1977, '85 and '90 that he'd been storing in his bare-bones basement all these years. Before you skip to the next paragraph because you figure this is all elitist bullshit from people with more money than sense, the greatest thing about this tasting is that Greg picked up almost all his older wines by rummaging in the dusty storage room of some completely chaotic store out on Long Island. Among his many finds were Inglenooks from the 1940s for a mere five bucks. This is the vinifera equivalent of finding 'Hound Dog' on Sun Records at a stoop sale for a buck, or a copy of 'Anarchy In The UK' on EMI at a car boot sale for a quid. There are those who wouldn't play those records in case they lost value; and there are those who don't drink rare wine for the same reason. Fortunately, Greg is not like that. Thanks for sharing.
Suffice to say that the older wines were by far and away the better ones. This is not so much a matter of vintage or even maturity as it is a sign that in the 1970s, before the Californian industry really took off, people made good honest wine that was true to its upbringing without thinking of dollars or awards. By the time the 90s came round, then flush with investment money and international attention, the same wine makers were second guessing the critics, adding dollops of oak, over emphasising the region's menthol/eucalyptus flavors, and usually going for immediate impact over long-term satisfaction. This isn't the first time I've witnessed this regretful 'progression' in wine-making: Greg showed up earlier this year at a Ridge Geyserville vertical with a 1978 single vineyard Californian Zinfandel - a grape not known for its longevity in the bottle - which for the few minutes before exposure to oxygen killed it off, was the most vibrant, flavorful and complex Zin of the night.
And to keep this on the real ijamming! tip, before he grew up and got into wine, Greg was a young punk who went to saw the Clash at CBGBs and The Jam at the Palladium in the late seventies, age 13, on his own. This sounds frighteningly familiar, and I've decided that with so many Jam fans currently stopping by the site (thanks to Uncut and thejam.org), I'm going the whole hog and posting the Jam interview from Jamming! 9, of which only 2000 copies were originally printed. I may even have it up later today.
TUESDAY OCTOBER 8
THIS SITE IS DEDICATED TO EVERYONE WHO LOVES MUSIC JUST A LITTLE BIT MORE THAN MONEY
|Karl Hyde: "We're not swayed. Somebody will say, If you do this, you'll get on telly. And we say 'That's really not a given and I don't like the odds. I'd much rather do something that I believe in, and if you like it, that's fantastic, and if you don't like it, I can live with that.'"
No pontificating today. Instead, I'm pleased that after lots of late nights editing and designing, the UNDERWORLD interview is up across four pages. Everyone who knows me is aware of my complete love for Underworld's music and total respect for their approach to their business. So even if you don't think you like them, please take some time to read what Karl Hyde has to say. Feel free to comment on it - and what you think of the new lay-out. I love that iJamming! is so easy to read, but I wanted to try something just a little bit sharper. Also newly posted, a year after the fact, is the second part of the RICHARD BUTLER interview, conducted as reference for the sleeve notes I wrote for the PSYCHEDELIC FURS re-issues.
The WHITE STRIPES free show at Union Square that I attended and reviewed last week (see below) kicked up an interesting debate on the Forum about "the corporate sponsorship of rock," with one reader noting that "Times were when artists like Neil Young would write whole albums protesting it eg. This Notes For You." No sooner was that lament posted than the mail man delivered me Tom Petty's battlecry of a new album The Last DJ, the opening four songs of which all attack the state of the music industry. I cribbed today's headline from Tom's sleeve notes. This site's for him - and all of you who still feel that way.
MONDAY OCTOBER 7
TONY SINGS HIS OWN BLUES
I had been all sat at some point to rave about my three-month old Mac G4 Powerbook with OSX and the super-cool Netscape 7 that seems to do everything I want an integrated browser and mail program to do (the combination helps explain why I've been so prolific of late) but then Netscape completely crashed over the weekend -- while on my own web site, no less, which is a little alarming! Although all my recent e-mail is saved and I can read it in text form, I'm going to get on and finish with the updates to the web site before reinstalling Netscape, hopefully importing all the saved e-mail successfully, and trusting the problem doesn't happen again. (Teething problems with OSX? Should I be upgrading to Jaguar? Open-source Mozilla coming up short? Just don't tell me to go Windows; it ain't happening!) Long and short: if you sent me e-mail and I haven't replied, I won't be doing so for a few days yet so have patience and please don't bug me. In the meantime, I'm back on OS9. I have several friends who will smile wryly when they read that last sentence. ;->
To add to my woes I'm fighting a real nasty case of runner's knee which has got me very nervous as I come into the last four weeks before the Marathon. I feel like I've been punished for following the Road Runners Club's recommended training schedule though on reflection, I doubt if those who set the distances expected me to be doing my 16-20 mile weekend runs on the hills (and cambers) of Prospect Park, let alone doing them so fast. On the off chance there's any experienced Marathoners out there, feel free to send me your advice! (If you're a Mac OSX-using Marathoner, I really want to heart from you!)
On a brighter note, I attended the Girls Against Boys/Radio 4 show at the Bowery Ballroom Friday night. The headlining band have just come out of the classic major label experience that saw them release just one album over a five year period. Now back on an indie (Jade Tree), the new album You Can't Fight What You Can't See has won them back their credibility (ask around and there's lots of love for them out there) but not yet their audience. On stage, they rock harder than just about any band in New York City, but at a time when the scene is full of unproven 20-somethings, there's limited room for a group that's been honing its post-hardcore Fugazi-Killing Joke-Sonic Youth-Psychedelic Furs sound for well over a decade. Still, if the example of radically different sounding but similarly long-lasting fellow New Yorkers Luna is anything to go by, persistence should see them prevail. Going by Friday's performance, there's no way you could accuse them of anything less than total dedication to their cause.
Radio 4 are in the opposite position: riding the crest of the new New York scene, touring constantly, buzzing furiously. I don't have much to add about Friday's show that I haven't said before, except that every time I see them open for other acts (Clinic during the summer, Girls Against Boys last week) they completely win the audience over; Friday night they acted, looked and were received like headliners. Having followed Radio 4 for a year now, I'm more than ready for some new songs, but the Gotham album is still relatively new to many (just out in the UK, I gather it got an 8/10 NME review to add to their recent Single of the Week), and so they're entitled to keep hammering the familiar set list especially when they deliver it with such razor-sharp authority.
One thing these two bands do have in common apart from onstage energy - is extracurricular passion. Anthony Roman of Radio 4 runs the coolest little record store in this part of town, Somethin' Else; Johnny Temple of Girls Against Boys used the excess time (and money?) from his major label experience to set up Akashic, one of many thriving independent book publishers in the States nipping at the heels of the corporate giants. And I thought I worked hard
SATURDAY OCTOBER 5
JOHN WALKER SINGS HIS OWN BLUES
Steve Earle's decision to write from the perspective of the 'American Taliban' in the controversial song 'John Walker's Blues' appears to have stemmed from the view that John Walker Lindh wasn't free to talk for himself. But yesterday, at the sentencing part of his trial, Walker not only proved that he can talk for himself, but indicated that he is far more contrite for his actions than Earl's lyrics would suggest.
This is always the problem with writing protest songs around specific events how rapidly they can become dated. As of today, 'John Walker's Blues', which is a relatively harmless song in comparison to the storm it has (deliberately) provoked, suddenly seems inaccurate, if not entirely irrelevant. For example, Earle sings, on Walker's behalf, that "A man's got to fight for what he believes," which would appear to have been the sentiment that sent Walker to Afghanistan in the first place. But Walker stood in court, and also stated "I want the American people to know, that had I realized then what I know now about the Taiban, I would never have joined them." Similarly, Earle ends the song with the unpleasant line "Now they're draggin' me back with my head in a sack to the land of the infidel." The first part is unfortunately true, but the second is pure conjecture. In fact, yesterday, Walker opened his statement by thanking his attorneys "whose support of me never wavered," his captors, "who treated my wounds on the U.S.S. Peleliu" and " who helped bring me home" (note the word 'home') and "the many Americans who have supported me and my family through letters, e-mails and editorials." He may or may not have been including Earle's song in that list; we'll find out in time what Walker thinks of everything written on his behalf.
I'm not so naïve that I don't assume that part of Walker's speech was drafted by his lawyers to give the best possible impression of an intellectual and inquisitive but ultimately misguided youth who found himself in the worst possible place at the worst possible time. But I appreciate Walker's statement regardless and would like to think that this unpleasant chapter of his life has, considering the awful circumstances, been concluded in the best possible way for all concerned. (Walker received a 20-year prison sentence; his plea bargain allowed for the fact that he provided significant information to American intelligence officers after his capture.) I'm certainly happier reading Walker's statement than I am 'shoe-bomber' Richard Reid's, who smirked his own way through his appearance in a Boston court yesterday, readily admitted to being a member of Al-Qaeda and "an enemy of your country" and freely confessed that he had planned on bringing down a planeload of civilians last December on a flight from Paris to Miami. It's hard to know what to make of Reid, who would appear to be several fuses short of a circuit (and is not, I would like to stress, representative of my native South London); but as long as terrorist organizations recruit such miscreants to blow innocent people out of the sky, none of us can assume that our next flight won't be our last.
||Still, back to 'John Walker's Blues' and the Steve Earle album, Jersualem, on which it sits. I'm a big fan of Earle's catalogue and his conscience, but I'm having problems following him this time out. As with Bruce Springsteen's The Rising, Earle's lyrics were clearly written of and about the post 9/11 world, and as with The Rising, they make no direct reference to it. But whereas Springsteen uses metaphors to avoid over-defining his songs, Earle prefers denial. The opening song 'Ashes To Ashes' insists that "every tower ever built tumbles, no matter how strong no matter how tall," as if the destruction of the World Trade Center by suicidal religious fanatics was destiny (or worse, God's will very much the theory presented by Bin Laden) and ignoring that the Pyramids in Egypt and Stonehenge in England, among other ancient man-built structures, seem to have stood the test of time perfectly well.
Similarly, the song 'Conspiracy Theory' is valid when it focuses on the social upheaval of the sixties. ("What if you could've been there in Dallas?") But the opening line, "What if I told you it was done with mirrors, what if I showed you it was all a lie," seems like he's playing to a gallery that wants to believe the events of 9/11 were organized by the CIA and/or Mossad - because maintaining such a fantasy allows them to cop out from decision-making based on all the information that we do know.
|Protest rock must always rock as hard as it protests, because if the music doesn't sound like it means it, neither will the message.
The song 'Amerika V. 6.0 (The Best We Can Do)' works better, partly because the protagonist a former hippy and now contented capitalist is vague enough, and yet nasty enough, that we can identify with him and dislike him without having to name him. (Though many young Americans may see in the narrator their own fathers.) But the real reason it works is because it's the only song on the album in which Earle and his band let loose: Kelley Looney's funky bass is the perfect compliment to a lead riff that extends all the way back to Earle's career-setting 'Guitar Town'. Protest rock must always rock as hard as it protests, because if the music doesn't sound like it means it, neither will the message. And too often on Jerusalem, the music is weighed down by Earle's depressed voice and pessimistic statements.
Yet Earle ends the album with a remarkable about turn: the title track, 'Jerusalem,' in which he assures us, with apparent sincerity, that 'I believe . . .all the children of Abraham will lay down their swords forever in Jerusalem." You have to wonder from where he gets this sudden burst of optimism, but maybe it's the same source as keeps Springsteen hopeful on The Rising: his own underlying belief in a God that is Good. Earle is not as vocal in his faith as the Catholic-raised Springsteen, but God shows up enough times in the lyrics that I come away believing that Earle believes. I'm happy for him. I wish I could share his faith and his faith in a happy ending for us all.
Earle's introductory sleeve notes appear to have been written with the same amnesia (or denial) as his lyrics, as they call into question the current mood of America without even mentioning the catalyst (9/11). Maybe it's because he believes in the 'Conspiracy Theory.' Maybe it's because he fears that if he mentions the massacre, his essay won't ring so effective. Or maybe, as I suspect, he was genuinely less affected by the events of 9/11 than by its repercussions. When he opens his essay with the line, "Lately I feel like the loneliest man in America," (presumably because he doesn't share the patriotism of his fellow Tennesseeans) he reveals a classic case of rock star hubris: quite apart from the fact that there are millions upon millions of Americans who share his doubts and fears (and if he can't find them in Nashville, he could certainly find them online and writing for the newspapers), I wonder what the widows and widowers, the orphaned children and bereaved parents of 9/11 would make of his apparently unrivaled loneliness.
Still, whatever his motives or lack of clarity, he's free to speak his mind, and ultimately he seems to recognize as much: "I believe that we'll survive this," he writes, and though I'd like to think that by 'this' he means the genocidal attacks on American soil, I'm sure he actually means the unpleasant political atmosphere that has followed; his essay, after all, is dated July 4. He then delivers several incredibly forceful and accurate sentences:
"We are a people perpetually balanced on a tightrope stretched between our history and our potential, one faltering step away from a headlong tumble from the most dizzying of heights. But fear not we're working with a net. In spite of our worst intentions and ignorance of our own history our Constitution has, thus far, proven resilient enough to withstand anything that we throw at it including ourselves. (sic) For myself, my faith in this one institution of our all too human (and therefore imperfect) society is absolute but, I hope, not blind. It was built to last but only if properly maintained."
It's a shame he couldn't have set something similarly eloquent to music. Jerusalem would have been a much more stirring album as a result.
FOR OCTOBER 12-18 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Bali Bombing and stupid editorials, the Electro-Clash festival, VHS Or Beta, Ballboy, Mindless Self Indulgence, 2 Many DJs, Tom Petty, The Streets, pointless stop-the-war e-mails)
FOR OCTOBER 5-11 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Steve Earle and John Walker's Blues, Dreaming Of Britney, Girls Against Boys and Radio 4)
FOR SEPTEMBER 28-OCT 4 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes White Stripes live, Morel live, My Generation re-issue)
FOR SEPTEMBER 21-27 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes The Creation live, Village Voice, Wine not Whine and more)
FOR SEPTEMBER 14-20 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Firefighter Andre Fletcher, Untamed, Uncut, and more September 11 Musings)
FOR SEPTEMBER 7-13 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Sep 11 memorials, Did Bin Laden Win?, Scissor Sisters and Electro-clash)
FOR AUGUST 31-SEPTEMBER 6 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes The Strokes live, The Rising, Saint Etienne, Team USA, a.i., Tahiti 80, Dot Allison)
FOR AUGUST 17-30 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes holiday musings, wine reviews, Luna at Southpaw, and more)
FOR AUGUST 10-16 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes lengthy Who live review)
FOR JULY 27-AUG 9 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Area 2, 24 Hour Party People Party, Hootenanny Tour, 2 Many DJs and more.
FOR JULY 20-26 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Wilson Pickett, John Entwistle, rebuilding downtown NYC)
FOR JULY 13-19 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Love Parade, Teany, RenewNYC, Femi Kuti, NRA, Londonisation of New York, Britishification of Global Rock)
FOR JULY 6-12 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Mike Meyers as Keith Moon, the RAVE Act, John Entwistle, Michael Jackson, Southpaw, Moby Online, Layo & Bushwacka!,(accidentally deleted)
FOR JUNE 29-JULY 5 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes World Cup Final, John Entwistle's legacy, The Who's decision to carry on, the meaning of July 4)
FOR JUNE 22-28 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes World Cup diary, Dr. John, Doves, Mermaid Parade, John Entwistle's death, Timothy White's death, Clinic Firewater and Radio 4 live, The Who's decision to carry on)
FOR JUNE 15-21 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes World Cup diary, Liars live, GiantFingers, the Big Takeover)
FOR JUNE 8 -14 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes World Cup diary, StellaStarr*, Jose Padilla, Dee Dee Ramone, suicide bombings)
FOR JUNE 1-7 DAILY MUSINGS, CLICK HERE (includes World Cup diary, Southpaw, Six Foot Under, Andrew Sullivan)
FOR LATE MAY DAILY MUSINGS, CLICK HERE
FOR MAY'S EIGHT DAYS IN A WEEK'S MUSINGS, CLICK HERE
FOR LATE APRIL LONDON MUSINGS, CLICK HERE
FOR EARLY APRIL MUSINGS, CLICK HERE