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Just Jot It January: Day twelve – The next day…

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Before I start the 12th post of JJIJ, I’d like to thank everyone who commented on yesterday’s David Bowie tribute, it’s good to know just how many of you were touched by his life and work.

Having said that, I just want to follow up that post with some reflections on how Bowie’s death was received in the UK.

Even after having spent the day reading (and writing) the tributes to him all over Facebook and on various blogs, it was still with a sense of unreality that I sat down to watch the news last night, because there was no warning, no way to ease ourselves into the idea that we were about to lose an icon of modem music.

Of course, with hindsight we are all now aware that the signs were there, hidden in plain sight on his latest album, Blackstar, with its themes of death, illness and one last transformation; from corporeal megastar to ephemeral legend in one small step, the ultimate space cadet left the planet for the final time.

When we know that we are soon to lose someone who means so much to us, we prepare ourselves, consciously or not, so that when we attend the funeral, watch a memorial service or read an obituary, we have already reached the point which enables us to put aside our sadness and celebrate the life of the one who is no longer with us.
But when the news comes as a shock, when we are caught unawares by such a loss, the reaction is often one of raw grief and irrational anger, that we have been deprived of the chance to properly say goodbye.

So it is a measure of how much a part of our psyche he’d become that, within hours of the news of his passing, after the posthumous message of Blackstar became clear, fans, journalists and fellow musicians alike were praising Bowie’s ability to surprise us, even at the end.

Indeed, it seems that the only person outside his immediate circle of family and friends who knew of his battle with cancer was Belgian theatre director Ivo van Hove, who was working with Bowie on the Lazarus stage show, for which he provided the soundtrack. Van Hove was apparently told of the singer’s illness when they started work on the project and was asked to keep it confidential.

Despite the sadness of yesterday’s announcement however, the overwhelming tone of the news coverage was one of celebration that we’d all been fortunate enough to share the planet with a man who made music and culture so unpredictable and fascinating.

Celebrity fan, Simon Pegg, summed it up perfectly with this tweet…

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…while Channel 4 News ran this piece, fronted by Paul Mason, (usually their economics editor, but clearly a huge Bowie fan) which caught the mood of the nation nicely…

…and followed it with a live feed from the former David Jones’ birthplace, Brixton in South London, where thousands of fans gathered to leave tributes at the Bowie mural there, and to remember him in the best way possible; by singing the songs that gave pleasure to so many, exactly the way he would have wanted.

Even anchorman Jon Snow, (himself a fan) signing off at the end of a show almost entirely devoted to the singer’s life and legacy, couldn’t hide his feelings, his voice cracking with emotion as he read a message from Bowie’s long-time friend and collaborator, Brian Eno.

So we said goodbye to a man who transcended fashion, musical fads and the very idea of what makes a rock star, making him a hero to millions of fans over five decades, all of whom, I’m sure, will pass on their love of an artist who never stopped evolving and ch-ch-ch-ch-changing.

It seems only right that I should finish this post with the album that brought David Bowie to the attention of yet another generation of new fans, when he returned to recording in 2013 with The Next Day.

It’ll be a long time before a man like him falls to Earth again.

#JusJoJan

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Posted by on January 12, 2016 in Just Jot It January, Music, News, TV, Video

 

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Just Jot It January: Day eight. Melodic Randomiser Unspooled 5…

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I’ve chosen to use today’s Just Jot It January post to bring you 2016’s first edition of the musical retrospective rummage sale that is the Melodic Randomiser Unspooled, my tape shuffle jukebox.
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So if you like ’80s pop, shouty ’90s metal, or tripped out, reggae-tinged dub, this is the post for you.

First up, everyone’s favourite blond bombshell, Ms Ciccone herself, Madonna and the early career remix album You Can Dance.
Here, in its flamboyant, shoulder-padded glory, from the deluxe edition no less, is Where’s The Party

…which segues not at all smoothly into the angry, angst-ridden noise of Danzig and their imaginatively titled album, 4, from which comes this cheery little number, Brand New God

…and ending with another complete change of pace and direction with the sublime groove of Sabres Of Paradise and the cassette single of Wilmot.

Now, you don’t get that on Radio 2.

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#JusJoJan

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The last rock ‘n’ roller…

I’ve been a huge fan of music for 40 years and over that time I have discovered a great many bands and artists who have stayed with me, such was the impression they made on me when I first heard them.

And when one of those cornerstones of my personal music heritage passes away, it always seems right that I should pay my respects somehow, even when the subject of any such tribute would almost certainly scoff at it for being over-sentimental nostalgic bollocks.

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Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister, 24/12/45 – 28/12/15.

My taste in music has always been eclectic, purely because (with the exception of embarrassing childhood purchases like The Bay City Rollers and Showaddywaddy) I have continued to listen to everything I have ever bought, so I’d never seen any contradiction in being a Pink Floyd fan who loved  Kraftwerk, or a Rush devotee who was also massively into New Order, although the tribal subdivisions of youth sometimes caused some friction, of the “you-can’t-be-a-headbanger-and-like-Gary Numan-too” variety.

All of which I ignored.

I didn’t want to be in their gang anyway. Or anyone else’s for that matter.

But then one band, one voice, one thunderous, gloriously over-the-top wall of noise arrived and for a while it was all that I listened to with my small group of junior metal-head school friends.

Even in an era where metal, punk and new wave were all still popular in the record shops and on the chart rundown every Sunday, this astonishing sonic assault was nothing like we had ever heard before and Motörhead soon became the very epitome of “heavy” rock.

And this particular blistering album by them was rarely off the turntables and tape decks of our teenage bedrooms at the time.

The band’s frontman, Lemmy, is credited with being everything from “the godfather of grunge” to “the hardest working man in rock” and was once described as having a voice “like a man who gargles with hot gravel”, but however the media portray him he has only ever described Motörhead as a rock ‘n’ roll band and has repeatedly corrected journalists who labelled them as “Heavy Metal”.

Lemmy did, after all, first find success in another of my all time favourite bands, Hawkwind, the stoner space rock collective who would eventually sack him for reliability issues brought on by his already herculean intake of amphetamines, resulting in his subsequent speed-related arrest on the Canadian border whilst on tour with them in the late ’70s.

Here he is playing with his trademark thundering bass style on perennial Hawks crowd pleaser, Silver Machine…

Undeterred, Lemmy formed Motörhead a few years later and has been fronting the rotating line-up ever since; their style never changing from the original frantic, bass strumming, drum galloping, speed soloing, throat shredding, grimy rock bulldozer that finally found them international fame with the archetypal Lemmy tune, Ace of Spades.

Seemingly indestructible for the last three decades or more, Lemmy Kilmister died today, only a short time after being diagnosed with cancer.

It’ll be a long time until someone who so perfectly embodies the term “rock ‘n’ roller” comes along again and the world will be a less entertaining place for his passing.

Killed By Death, indeed.

Like I said, he wouldn’t have given a toss about any fawning retrospectives on his contribution to music, so I’ll leave you with the best possible tribute to one of the world’s last real monsters of rock; the man in his own words.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Lemmy: The Movie, enjoy.

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2015 in Arts, Music, Personal anecdote, Video

 

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Melodic Randomiser Unspooled 4…

After much burrowing around in the cardboard box and carrier bag breeding ground of our under-stairs cupboard, today I managed to haul out the second box of rattling plastic nostalgia cases that is my cassette collection.

Throwing caution to the wind, I blindly grabbed a trio of magnetic memory magnifiers and slotted the first one into the stereo before I’d even checked to see what it was.

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So you can imagine my delight (or maybe you can’t, you might not be so easily pleased) when this next installment in the trip through my own personal musical heritage began with an album that gave us the best song from the soundtrack to a movie cult classic, the wantonly strange Donnie Darko (which, if you haven’t seen it, go find it and watch it).

The Church are not, in the UK at least, a hugely well-known band, hailing as they do from Sydney, Australia. But this song (as well as featuring one of the only acceptable uses of bagpipes in pop) is an instant earworm. It appears at a pivotal point in the movie and perfectly captures the dreamy and surreal tone of Donnie’s world.

Here it is then, from 1988, The Church and the sublime Under the Milky Way Tonight

…plus, if you liked that and because I’m feeling generous, why not check out the full album, Starfish, while you’re at it.

From antipodean indie to U.S. political hip hop and rap/rock, the next stop on our eclectic journey brings us to a tape that was put together for me by an old friend from Sussex (hello Chris) and it tackles themes that are, somewhat depressingly, just as relevant today as they were in the early ’90s.

The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy were an astute and politically aware hip hop four-piece from San Francisco who, despite their short lifespan, (they split after only three years) provided us with one of the most memorable rap anthems of the era.
Their album, Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury, was one long rant on the state of America at the turn of the twentieth century’s final decade, and although it’s filled with angst, it sidestepped the “cop killer” attitude of many rappers by concentrating on social issues and generational injustices.

Of the two tracks I’ve chosen from that first blistering album, this is the one you’re most likely to remember, Television, the Drug of the Nation

…and this, the album’s opener, is just as apposite in 2015, here is Satanic Reverses.

But if proper, eye-popping, vein-bulging anger is more your type of political poison, look no further than the other side of today’s tape two.
Because there you will find some truly furious men, the no-holds-barred riffing monster that is Rage Against the Machine and their ground-breaking eponymous debut album.

I could have picked a couple of the less well known tracks to play you, but there really is nothing that compares to their signature anthem from 1991, the musical steamroller they call Killing in the Name

…and I’m going to follow that with a performance I was fortunate enough to witness, the apoplectic Bullet in the Head, live from Reading Festival in 1996.

Which brings us to the final selection in today’s trawl of the tapes, lightening things up a bit with some American new wave pop from The B52’s and their ’89 breakthrough album, Cosmic Thing.
I could go the really obvious route and play the massive worldwide smash hit, Love Shack, but instead I’m going for two of my favourites.

First of all, here’s Roam

…and to complete this visit to the archives, let’s all join the Deadbeat Club.

Thank you for listening.
And as always, remember: Be kind, rewind.

 

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The food of love never goes stale…

The food of love never goes stale…

A study was published recently that claims we lose the urge to listen to new music at the age of 33, (although as Ho pointed out, that should be 33 1/3) which was a bit of a shock to me, given that I’m nearly fifty and my desire to discover new, original and interesting things to listen to hasn’t dimmed in the slightest in the last 15 years or so.

It should come as no surprise to regular readers when I say that I’m an obsessive music fan and I see no reason why that should ever change.
No matter if it was rushing to buy the latest 7″ vinyl single from Crowborough’s Revolver Records, back when I was a teenager in Sussex, or trawling the CD racks of independent music shops and record fairs, reading music magazines and blogs, or scouring the internet for obscure gems to download, I’ve never lost what I like to think of as the John Peel spirit, the all-consuming passion for an art form that, almost by it’s very nature, never gets old.

Every generation has its naysayers of course, the “music isn’t like it was in the old days” brigade, because people are instinctively cautious of change. But that’s not an excuse to consign all new music to the cultural bargain bin, because if the change is bad, it won’t last.
And if it’s good, it’ll only get better.

I remember when acid house music first arrived, thinking it was a load of repetitive rubbish, (this, despite being a huge Kraftwerk fan at the time) but it didn’t take long before I found that there was good and bad in this genre, just as there is in any other and I embraced the change.
After all, many of the repetitive, trance-like rhythms used in modern dance music were prominent in the sort of zoned out space rock produced by Hawkwind and I had also been huge a fan of bleepy electronic ’80s music, another much maligned oeuvre in British pop, so it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise that this new wave of electronic bedroom superstars would catch my imagination.
Same with Hip Hop, Drum ‘n’ Bass, Goth, Britpop, Punk, Techno, or any other media-created pigeonhole you care to name, once you listen to enough of anything you’ll realise there’s more to any genre than meets the ear first time round.

I don’t claim to like all music, just for the sake of even-handedness, (I never could get into opera or country and western) and I don’t even claim to be rational or fair in deciding what I do and don’t like, so I’m just like the rest of you in that respect.
We all think our own taste is faultless, of course.
But I do make a serious effort to listen to as much and as many different kinds of music as I possibly can.
At least until I’m sure I really don’t like something.

I mean, why wouldn’t you give yourself the chance to have more things in your life you can enjoy?
Why would you suddenly come to a decision one day and say to yourself “No, I’ve got enough new and interesting experiences in my life already, I think I’ll just go round in circles from now on.”

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgia.
We all fall back on the classics when we need the aural equivalent of a comforting hug from an old friend, but if you’re going to spend two thirds of your life stubbornly looking backwards, won’t the nostalgia, like familiarity, eventually only breed contempt?

It used to be a real treat to hear a slice of joyous eighties pop like a-ha‘s Take On Me, with its groundbreaking video and catchy synth hooks, or any number of earworms by one hit wonders (in the UK at least) such as Bran Van 3000‘s laid back summer groove, Drinking In L.A. or Breakfast At Tiffany’s by jangly also-rans Deep Blue Something, but nowadays, with the proliferation of internet radio stations whose record collections only seem to go up to the late nineties, we have reached nostalgia saturation point and the classic pop tunes of my teenage years are in danger of losing the ability to rekindle memories of my musical youth. (No pun intended)

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But why any of that would stop people from seeking out new material is a complete mystery to me.
The study that claims we lose our musically adventurous nature in our early thirties uses the phrase “taste freeze” to explain the phenomenon, whatever that means, and also correlates the onset of parenthood with the downturn in our interest in checking out new releases.
You’d think that having additional young people playing modern music around the house would expose you to a greater variety of listening opportunities, but apparently not.

So, although I continue to plough through my CD collection in sequential order, an exercise which obviously leads me to play plenty of old familiar tracks, a great many of which can still give me one of those “Oh yeah, I haven’t heard this for years!” moments, which is of course only right and proper, it doesn’t stop me from my pursuit of my Next New Favourite Tune.

With this in mind, and to encourage any of you who are being dragged down by the terrifying scourge of taste freeze, here is a snapshot of the most recent leg of my musical search, via the last three albums I downloaded.

You never know, you might discover something you like…

My advice?
Stay forever young.
Never stop searching out and listening to new music.

[Original blog-toon by Ho]

 
6 Comments

Posted by on May 31, 2015 in Arts, Music, Personal anecdote, Video

 

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The joy of FX…

My pursuit of fantastical digital imagery continues this week, with two new examples of photographic layering.

As with previous efforts, all the photos used were taken by me and all editing and effects were done on my phone.

First, here’s Haunted:

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…and this one is called Janus:

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Having posted both pictures to my new Facebook photography page, an old friend of mine, Rick Francis (a talented photographer whose work will feature in an upcoming post) took “Janus” and applied his own treatment to it.

This was the result:

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I loved the smooth, airbrushed look of his version, so I re-manipulated the image yet again and came up with today’s final picture, which I was going to call “Iron Butterfly”.
But since that name was taken by this lot some time ago, I’m going with Rick’s suggestion, Rainbow Kiss:

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Posted by on February 12, 2015 in Arts, Music, Photography

 

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A long, strange and tenuous trip…

At last, we are finally reaching the end of the road to nowhere, so to speak.
After nearly a fortnight of bending connections until they almost snap, digging out nostalgia-packed video clips, classic albums, movies and TV series, there’s just seven more degrees of separation between now and the finish line.

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Whether or not you’ve sampled the delights I have provided for your festive delectation thus far, (and don’t forget you can always come back at a later date – The Tenuous Lynx is the gift that keeps on giving) I for one have really enjoyed this link marathon.
Not only has it given my brain a daily workout, but I’ve found all sorts of stuff I’d forgotten about or haven’t thought about for years, and that alone has made it worthwhile.
Call it self-indulgent, call it contrived, but if I have introduced just one person to something new, interesting, funny or thought-provoking then frankly, my job is done.

So without further ado, let us start at the beginning of the end.

The previous leg finished at The Unbelievable Truth, David Mitchell’s Radio 4 panel show, so;

Mr Mitchell appears on Channel 4’s 10 O’clock Live alongside comedic ranter extraordinaire, Charlie Brooker.
Here he is, holding forth on the state of British politics in 2013.

Also on the show is ex-Kenickie singer Lauren Laverne, who provided guest vocals for oddball dance boffins Mint Royale on this joyous slice of quirky pop – Don’t Falter.
Mint Royale were also responsible for remixing the vintage Gene Kelly number, Singing in the rain, something much of the UK were almost certainly not doing this year due to the extreme weather conditions and flooding we experienced.
Flood (aka Mark Ellis) is a prolific producer, writer and sound mixer who has worked with bands as diverse as New Order, Sigur Ros and The Killers, as well as mixing this year’s new Depeche Mode album.
And here it is in all it’s dark glory – Delta Machine.
Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode famously died (after a drug overdose) and was revived, much like this candidate for happy ending of the year 2013 – The dead woman who woke up after giving birth.
They both came Back to Life and back to reality like Soul 2 Soul did in their funked-up hit of the same name in 1990.

And for our very last link in the tenuous chain, we end with a couple of cartoons.
Everyone loves a cartoon at Christmas, am I right?

Soul Eater is a series of Japanese Manga comics which has been turned into amine cartoons, screened on TV in the West for the first time this year.
Coming up is the first episode, and then for the finale of Tenuous Tina and her Lynx of Love, it’s followed by a true classic of the manga oeuvre, the movie, Fist of the North Star.

All that remains is for me to say that I hope you’ve enjoyed tagging along on this oddity of odds and sods and to thank Ho once again for bringing the Tenuous Lynx to life with his exclusive artwork.

So after 13 posts and 177 links, I’m caging the Lynx and replacing Tina in her display case.

Until next time…

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