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What's in iJamming! Music
Tue, Feb 26, 2002
From the Jamming! Archives:
PAUL WELLER
interviewed in 1978
"A number one single would be a bit scary."
The iJamming! interview:
CARL COX
"'Acid Trax' by Phuture came out and I was just 'Okay, forget all hip hop and all old school rare groove right here, this is it.'"
The Best Of 2001
Tony Fletcher's Top Albums, Concerts, Singles and Books
Strange Currencies:
R.E.M. at Carnegie Hall
In his room:
Brian Wilson at the Festival Hall
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN: "Flowers is Echo & The Bunnymen's finest hour since Ocean Rain."
Latest album reviews
HEDONISM:
An intrigue of early 90s New York nightlife.
NEW CHAPTER now online
From the Jamming! Archives:
U2 interviewed in 1984.
"It's not U2 that's creating this great art. . .There's something that works through us to create in this way."
iJamming! Wino/Muso:
JOHN ACQUAVIVA
"New world wines are just too techno for me."
iJamming! interview:
Jesse Hartman, aka LAPTOP
"Every New York band knows the meaning of failure"
MIX Albums:
Who, what and why you should bother
The iJAMMING! interview: DAVID SYLVIAN
"I don't think people realize that life can become so exciting and interesting that it can draw you away for long periods of time from creating music - & why not?"
From the Keith Moon archives:
the JEFF BECK interview .
The iJAMMING! chat:
MARK PERRY

"If I was asked why Sniffin' Glue was so important, it was the way we conducted ourselves, the style of it, just the attitude. It had attitude in abundance didn't it?"
Forgotten Classics:
THE CHILLS: Brave Words
THE iJAMMING! Book Review:
SNIFFIN' GLUE: The Essential Punk Accessory
Musing with SALLY TAYLOR:
"I'm not interested in what the major labels have to offer."
From the JAMMING! archives: ALTERNATIVE TV
interviewed in 1978
TRAVIS.
Fran Healy explains why "you cannot own a song." (And why Liam Gallagher "is going to turn into a really great songwriter.")
Featured Artist Web Site:
LLOYD COLE
From the JAMMING! archives: The Story That Spawned Creation
The iJAMMING! interview:
BOY GEORGE.
"Once you've had your go, what-ever it may be, they want you to piss off, and they can't bear it if you come back, they can't bear it."
SUPERDRAG
They love rock'n'roll but they don't want to deal with the hassle
The full iJamming! Contents
THE VILLAGE VOICE PAZZ & JOP POLL:
What the hell is going on here?
Continued from Part 1
Hip hop's still the bomb.
CONTINUED FROM PART 1

The Coup, however, I think are cowards and liars and should be called on it. Listen, they were quite happy for their album cover to depict the World Trade Centers blowing up last summer. It was clearly their fantasy to see these bastions of capitalism destroyed. Well, guess what? The World Trade Centers were blown up, but rather than stick to their guns, the Coup allowed the record company to pull the sleeve and replace it with an innocuous cover of a martini glass that did away with the album title's double-entendre in the process.

The orginal cover for The Coup's 'Party Music' at left; the cop-out sleeve issued after September 11, at right. The Coup's Boots Riley suggests that his label 75 ARK's distributor Warner Brothers "bought the movie rights to the whole ordeal" of September 11, and assures us "that the blood that happened on [September 11] is on the hands of the U.S. government."

As far as I'm concerned, if you're going to claim to be revolutionaries (and in the Coup's case, communists too), act like fucking revolutionaries, not like cowardly capitalists. (The Strokes did much the same, changing both their album cover and taking the song 'New York City Cops' off the running order off 'Is This It' after September 11, but then they're not claiming to be anything other than rock'n'roll band.) The Coup's Boots Riley has offered all kinds of bullshit excuses for changing the cover; in an online interview conducted just days after September 11, he insists he wanted to keep it but that his distributors refused. So who were the distributors? Warners. That's right, the Coup are in bed with the biggest of big bad capitalist companies. But that's okay, according to Riley, because, quote, "We all play this game, you know. The only media outlets that they let you have are through the major corporation, so if you don't go through the major corporation, very few people hear what you have to say."

Tell that to the legions of artists who 'don't play the game' with major corporations, but who still sell thousands of records (Fugazi and ani difranco are two of the most prominent, but they are far from alone); tell that to all those musicians who communicate their visions to their audience around the world through web sites that don't take advertising or succumb to corporate interfering. (Does the Coup have a web site? Of course not.) Tell that to Ice-T, who walked from Warners ten years ago with a very prominently raised finger at the corporation when they told him to change his album covers and their content. Oh, and tell that to the Coup, who lost their first record deal after EMI bought up their indie label Wild Pitch in 1994, but clearly didn't learn their lesson. Let's face it, the Coup suck corporate dick. To pretend otherwise is to be entirely disingenuous.

As for the Coup being liars, well sadly, among the rappers I interviewed over the years, many of the more political among them made all kinds of statements about world events that simply did not gel with the hard facts. I've read several such interviews with the Coup on and offline recently; in one web magazine that I regretably failed to bookmark, Boots Riley was given complete license to rant and rave about all manner of unsubstantiated accusations, including the blanket statement that the US government killing thousands of people in Sudan, without once being challenged by his interviewer. To stick with what I can quote, however, in the same online interview (with Seattle's alternative weekly,The Stranger ) in which Boots offers his 'explanation' for changing the 'Party Music' cover, he states that "Even if all 50,000 workers died in there, it wouldn't match up to the 100,000 people the U.S. Generals ordered to be killed in East Timor." Whoah. Can we get a fact-checker on this one please? Names, dates, places? And there I was thinking it was the west sent in the peace-keeping forces to East Timor.

This is followed almost immediately by the following slander on his distributor, issued just days after September 11: "Warner shut down the cover right away, meaning that just showing the imagery is disrespectful. When we know that Warner probably, the first day, bought the movie rights to the whole ordeal, that's going to be okay." Er, I'm sorry, I didn't know that the movie rights to September 11 were actually up for sale, let alone that Warner Brothers had 'probably' (I like that get-out) bought them. What I do know is that political extremists spout all kinds of horse-shit - Osama Bin Laden's a pretty good example - and it's the job of interviewers/journalists/critics to challenge them on it. If they can't put up (the facts) they should shut up.

To take this a step further, I think the white liberal guilt trip of all the music journalists who vote for the Coup has blinded them to the music. Simply put, 'Party Music' ain't all that; at least when Public Enemy talked crap, as they were sadly wont to do with their anti-semitism, they backed it up with some the most thrilling and innovative music ever assembled in the studio. ('It Takes A Nation Of Million' was voted number one album in 1988.) Robert Christgau may excuse the Coup's 'verbal dexterity' and he is clueless enough to vote for them in his top 10, but he does at least have the common sense to call a spade a spade. So he gets the 'I couldn't put it better myself' award for this sentence : "Ignoring its withdrawn WTC-bombing cover with the ingrained impiety that makes rock critics the permanent no-accounts of cultural journalism. .."

Oh, and in that same online interview conducted directly after September 11, the man whose album cover gleefully depicted the WTCs blowing up states that "What I want to do is tell you that the blood that happened on Tuesday is on the hands of the U.S. government." Yeah, well fuck you too, Boots Riley.

Ryan Adams: an American flag on the album cover, a video with the WTC in the background. Talk about convenient timing.
Bob Dylan's not the only singer-songwriter in town. There's other people try and sound like him - and we like them too.

That's unduly cynical of me. Rock journalists tend to tout the singer-songwriter, and with good reason: these are people who care deeply about their words, who bare their naked souls to the public and who often see little reward by way of either fame or fortune. Then again, the singer-songwriters suffer for their art too. (Boom boom.) I like what I've heard from Ryan Adams 'Gold' (#6) and Rufus Wainwright's 'Poses' (#10) and will go back to both albums. I loved Lucinda Williams a decade ago; I'm glad she stuck it out and hit some sort of pay dirt. I never got a copy of her latest album 'Essence' (#9) but I probably should.
So much for the top 10. Lurking at #11 album is the first album I included on my own list. I'm astounded though delighted that The Avalanches 'Since I Left You' featured so high. Makes me feel a lot better about the music journalist profession. The others from my own Top 10s to make a showing in the Voice Top 40 are 'Ágætis Byrjun' by Sigur Rós at #16 (most of whose votes I notice were held over from last year, when hipper writers than me had the album on import), 'Get Ready' by New Order at #22 (I'm pleasantly surprised, I thought I was in the a minority on that one) and 'Let It Come Down' by Spiritualized at #34. For what it's worth, had I got my votes in, and split my 100 points equally across all ten albums as I usually do (the Voice lets you allocate a maximum of 20 points for an album, and a minimum of 5; the total must add up to 100), then The Avalanches would have stayed at #11, Sigur Ros and Spiritualized would have been raised a single position each, and New Order would have edged into the top 20.

Though these are the only four of my top 10 to show up in the Voice top 40, there are many others on the Pazz & Jop list I feel warmly towards. I was going to include Macy Gray's 'The Id' (#26) in my honorable mentions but couldn't figure who to push out; it certainly wasn't going to be 'B.R.M.C.' by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (#36). The 'O Brother Where Art Thou' soundtrack, Gorillaz, Weezer, Guided By Voices, they're great records all. And there are many albums I haven't heard and really should do - but then I don't consider myself a 100% full-on music journalist as I may have claimed to be ten years ago. Besides which, I wonder if anyone of the 622 writers could put hand on heart and claim to have heard all top forty albums in their entirety. It is, after all, a pretty wide-ranging collection of music. And that's a good thing.
Still, I do know my dance music - which is more than I can say for most rock journalists. I was a little surprised to see Basement Jaxx finish so high (#13); I'm personally of the opinion that 'Remedy' was a classic debut and 'Rooty' a patchy follow-up, though that didn't stop the Jaxx providing two of my best concert experiences of the year, nor my rating 'Where's Your Head At' among my top 10 singles, though in the Voice its #30 position falls behind the album's lead single 'Romeo' (#17).

But at least 'Rooty' rightly finished above Daft Punk's 'Discovery'. I honestly think the critics were taken for fools in falling for 'Discovery' (#25) but I've said that so often these last twelve months, it's time to shut up. People with otherwise good taste actually love it. (Christ, even Simon Reynolds has it in his top 10, and this is the guy who wrote an essay on his web site assailing the victory of Moby's 'Play' in the Voice poll a couple of years back.) I think it's even more embarrassing that 'One More Time' makes it into the top 10 singles, and I'm certain many of its votes were cast by white rock critics who never go out clubbing but wanted to include a dance single to prove their hipness and 'One More Time' was the only one they could think of. (Busted, Michael Azerrad. Sorry!)
So let me swiftly move on before I insult any more of my friends! Of the six album in my personal top 10 that didn't show in the Voice poll, The Charlatans are hardly critics darlings in the States, Sugarcult was a throwaway vote for the fun of it, Mint Royale probably meant nothing to 99.9% of music journalists, and Orbital, sadly, got a panning from most critics for 'The Altogether.' Given the popularity of New Order's 'Get Ready,' then the various points I've made about Echo and the Bunnymen's 'Flowers' only hold stronger. And of course, I'm aware when I claim that Echo & The Bunnymen and New Order are making some of the best music of their long careers, I'm no different from 50-60 year olds who grew up on Bob Dylan saying the same thing about him. My own list, I admitted in posting it, was very safe - 'familiarity breeds content,' as I put it. If I'd wanted to look a bit hipper I could have included Macy Gracy, B.R.M.C., and the Moldy Peaches in my top 10 and not lost sleep at night. Lastly of my list, the Morel album 'Queen of the Highway' just got re-released in late January to a significant amount of attention; knowing how many other journalists are excited by it, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it in next year's top 50.
Finally, one act is conspicuous by its absence: R.E.M. 'Reveal' finished 51st. Although the single 'Imitation of Life' made the Voice top 40 singles (and my own top 10), can we officially agree that when an R.E.M. album is not on the year-end list, an era of rock critic consensus has ended? (Even Anthony de Curtis, a close friend of the band, who gushed over 'Reveal' when reviewing it in Revolver didn't include it in his top 10. Explanation, please?) Of course, when R.E.M. make their 45th album, which I wouldn't put past them, all us 80s journos will be in our 60s, and like the Bob Dylan clique, we'll look back so fondly on our youth that we'll award them the trophy regardless, right? Right.

TONY FLETCHER, FEBRUARY 20 2002

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