Showing posts with label 80s Music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 80s Music. Show all posts

Monday, May 3, 2021

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Aural Sculpture

 



If you were going to look at all of the albums released by the Stranglers in the Hugh Cornwell era of the band's history, Aural Sculpture is one of the best examples of how their musical proficiency delivered the goods. It's one of my favorites, and it is part of a run of three albums that were very commercially appealing (it's the one after Feline and right before Dreamtime). These are complex, well recorded songs that outshine much of what was released at the time. In the mid-1980s, everything was plastic and overwrought with foolishness. The Stranglers were having none of that.

In America, the Stranglers were completely overlooked and ignored. They were writing whole entire albums of classic songs and received none of the attention that went to The Clash and Duran Duran. But, somewhere in the middle of all that, they were coming up with better ideas and catchier hooks. They were writing serious songs and delivering them with every single member working at the very top of their game. It's listed as their eighth album and I don't know how anyone gets to that point in their career without some friction and tension. You could not be in The Stranglers and not have something to offer. No one coasted on anything. The end result is a dynamic that can't be described. 

Yeah, the misogyny has always bothered me. The Stranglers were part of that movement in England that was punk, then post punk, then  new wave, then whatever came after. They should have left that stuff in the rehearsal room.

Their label at the time, Epic, rejected the first pass at these songs. I can't imagine why since there isn't a bad one in the bunch. Laurie Latham came in and offered up some softer edges but, really, none of that detracts from the fact that the album itself is a sonic masterpiece. There's no running from the drum effects, the horns, the guitars, or the keyboards. Everything is filled, nothing is left out, no one is spared a chance to shine.

I have no idea why it isn't more popular. What the hell is wrong with people?

Monday, October 12, 2020

The Generosity of Paul Heaton

 


Not all heroes wear capes:

Paul Heaton, as unlikely as it might sound, is the new Orange Goblin. In 2016, when Classic Rock magazine was shut down by publisher Team Rock, Ben Ward of the aforementioned London hard rock stalwarts launched a JustGiving fundraiser to help the laid-off staff. A few months later Classic Rock was rescued by Future Publishing, but the substantial sum raised by those sleeveless Samaritans helped keep some of the country’s most dedicated and talented AC/DC fans in denim patches and bandanas that lean Christmas.

In the same pay-it-back spirit, while the remaining rock press was pouring out a Courvoisier for Q, indie-pop hero Paul Heaton – as the magazine’s final editor Ted Kessler revealed on Twitter last week – dug deep to make a sizeable donation to the venerable mag’s staff and writers and became an instant pandemic superhero. It wasn’t Heaton’s first behind-the-scenes donation to the greater good either; in 2017 he revealed that he’d once offered to nationalise The Beautiful South’s back catalogue, passing on any further profits to the nation’s coffers. Morrissey might claim the union flag is emblazoned across his heart, but would he have it similarly stitched across his wallet?

Heaton’s act was also a sign that the hippies were right – selflessness, as rare a quality in the world of music as a sober breakfast, really will make you more content in the long run. Rock history has countless examples of kind-hearted financial karma paying off. Elton John and George Michael, famed for their unspoken charity, will forever be ‘much-loved superstars’ while Bono and Gary Barlow, famed for their labyrinthine offshore tax arrangements, will always be shady shysters no matter how many Pudseys they help shift.

You have to bear in mind that the music press in England is largely made up of the most vicious gang of jackals who have ever been unleashed into polite society. A full one third probably has rabies. This act of generosity it typical Paul Heaton. He can describe what's wrong with the world with a few lines and then he'll give you a reason to appreciate it for what it is, practically without effort.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Sometimes the People You Like Are Idiots

 


Ian Brown and Noel Gallagher have revealed themselves to be ignorant jackasses and that's the whole truth and nothing but the truth:

Noel Gallagher has said he refuses to wear a mask during the coronavirus pandemic, complaining that it is a violation of his liberty.

Speaking on the Matt Morgan podcast, the former Oasis guitarist said: “It’s not a law. There’s too many fucking liberties being taken away from us now … I choose not to wear one. If I get the virus it’s on me, it’s not on anyone else … it’s a piss-take. There’s no need for it … They’re pointless.”

Gallagher said he had resisted calls to wear a mask on a train and in shops. “I was going up to Manchester the other week and some guy’s going, ‘Can you put your mask on,’ on the train, ‘because the transport police will get on and fine you a thousand pounds. But you don’t have to put it on if you’re eating.’ So I was saying: Oh right, this killer virus that’s sweeping through the train is gonna come and attack me, but see me having a sandwich and go, leave him, he’s having his lunch?

Oh, and there's also this gem:

Gallagher is not the only Mancunian indie star to have voiced doubt over the coronavirus outbreak. Last week, Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown tweeted: “No lockdown no tests no tracks no masks no vax,” later adding: “So im a Conspiracy Theorist HA! a term invented by the lame stream media to discredit those who can smell and see through the government/media lies and propaganda #researchanddestroy.”
You can safely ignore their advice as far as it relates to protecting your health and staying alive. Wear a mask, maintain social distancing, and get tested if you can. If you test positive, do what you can to avoid spreading the virus.

I mean, what a bunch of fucking idiots. We're still having this debate?

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

David Byrne is Not Racist


I am not a huge fan of what David Byrne did to Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth when they were in Talking Heads. I am pretty sure that I fall on Chris and Tina's side of things when it comes to how they experienced David's unique form of human interaction.

However, I will defend David from any charge that he is racist. I'll take up that cause any day of the week. 
Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne has apologized for wearing black and brownface in an unearthed promotional video, calling it a "major mistake in judgement."
In the clip for the rock band's concert film 1984 "Stop Making Sense," the star is shown interviewing himself, while donning black and brown face to impersonate several non-White people.
The 68-year-old musician took to social media on Tuesday to express his regret after the vintage clip resurfaced online.
"To watch myself in the various characters, including black and brownface, I acknowledge it was a major mistake in judgment that showed a lack of real understanding," he wrote in series of posts shared on his Twitter page.

"It's like looking in a mirror and seeing someone else -- you're not, or were not, the person you thought you were."
Virtually every attempt to wear black or brown face is reprehensible and ignorant, and so I commend him for apologizing. In the context of Stop Making Sense, this was an inclusive set of songs that traversed multiple genres of music, much of it steeped in other cultures. You could criticize them for appropriating those cultures, but you'd be wrong. Talking Heads brought people onto the stage with them that would normally have been excluded.

I think what David was going for was a more inclusive, shared experience that was meant to bring people together to enjoy things they would not otherwise have been exposed to. We know from Chris's book that the band added musicians so that they could bring in a wider audience and make what started out to be four white people playing an eclectic mix of musical genres into a truly integrated and inclusive experience. There is no punching down here.

And it is true that he was and still is a person with quirks and strange ways of behaving and interacting with people. I'm not a doctor, so I'm not going to speculate on that. I know what has been written about him, and I don't think that's the way to frame this. What I think is more true is that there was no harmful intent, no desire to render another group of people as irrelevant or to make it so that they are no a part of the songs or the presentation. This seems like an awkward effort to elevate and hear other voices and not much more than that.

Now, will people forgive him for it? I sure hope they will and I know there are other artists who need to have this reckoning.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Fishcotheque


The Jazz Butcher see their Creation Records era albums released on this thing called vinyl for Record Store Day and this is a good thing. Any release of Fishcotheque into the main stream is worthy of words and links and things.

IN an of itself, re-releasing records like this allows for a new generation to be exposed to great music that was consumed in the 1980s. This particular record was a late-1980s miracle and a stunning reinvention of the loose and shaggy band that crawled out of Northampton. No longer using Max Eider's guitar and not content to just conquer the world, this was essential listening.

Having ended up on Creation Records, which I took as a bit of a validation, I was keen to get as far away from all those "w" words that had followed my group around, and to make it as clear as I could that this was a rock & roll thing, not some "eccentricity". I had my shades and I had my fringed suede jacket and I had the Weather Prophets rhythm section.
In the last flickering days before Marriage and Acid House would change the world Kizzy and I hung out in his dealer's flat in Islington and WALKED to the studio in Waterloo everyday. The sessions were chaotic and funny. At one stage Kizzy arrived 56 hours late for a mix, having been held by the Police under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
David has this down right as a sort of self-justificatory thing. What disappoints me is that it came out sounding so SMOOTH and tidy. I'd hoped it would be more harsh and mad. I guess perhaps it's the saxes, which, I recall, enraged some reviewers. Sonic Boom does good things on Susie (that's 4 of them big ballads at least, now), that was more the idea. Still, not to slag O'Higgins, who began a lengthy association with the JBC on this recording.
This sold rather well, which was pleasing, and seems widely liked. I can't fuck with that, but I had hoped that it would be more a "change of direction" than it was. But I like Fishcotheque; I wish there more records as good as it.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Distortion


If there's anyone out there who deserves a career-spanning box set, it has to be Bob Mould. 

This has been a hell of a journey. I remember when we received Bob's first solo album at the shitty FM radio station where I worked, briefly, in 1989. Of course, we didn't play anything off of it. That's a shame because it was chock full of great songs that should have broken Bob to a massive audience.

This box set will take you on that journey through the post-Husker Du world. Bob went down every possible path to greatness that there is, and then he doubled back and did everything his way, the more difficult way, the right way. There's no one with more integrity than him, no one. There's no one who has worked harder and done more to bring their art to the people. When it was time to expand the reach of the songs and the strength of what he had to say, he adopted the band format and called it Sugar. When it was time to write personal songs of struggle and pain, Bob went back to the solo albums that have marked his tremendous output.

There are no clunkers to muck up this box set. If you've followed Bob through the years, you'll see what I mean. There are no blind alleys. Bob has consistently written and recorded essential music for as long as he's been putting himself out in front of people.

Anyway, wow. What a great idea. No holding back. Here it all is, and here are some bonus features you may not have heard. Can't wait for this.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

UB40


If you read this article, you'll learn a lot about UB40. Currently, there are two competing versions of the band that will never be reconciled. And anyone who says that they got into a fight with Ali Campbell is a lying jackass.
Which controversial Supreme Court judge allegedly got into a fight after a UB40 gig in 1985 with an Ali Campbell lookalike?
“I can’t remember his name. Are you on about the American who thought he was having a fight with me after a concert? It’s complete nonsense.”
WRONG. It’s Brett Kavanaugh who, as a college student, was reported to be involved in an altercation with a man some thought was you.

“That’s him! It’s just bollocks. I don’t go for drinks across the road after a show (Laughs). I’m back at my hotel. And you know, I would have battered him anyway!”
Any other memorable false stories involving you?

“After UB40 played the Montreux Jazz Festival once, the newspapers reported that us and Depeche Mode had gone on a boat that sunk. Robin [Campbell, guitarist] was quoted as saying: ‘And then the rest of the band jumped in to save the beer’, which wasn’t true. I couldn’t see us hanging out with Depeche Mode back in the day.”
It's that same old story. Start a band with your brother, have a falling out, never get back together.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Remain in Love


You will learn a number of things from the new book by Chris Frantz. He has written Remain in Love about his time in Talking Heads and as a student and artist. This is really the Chris and Tina Weymouth version of things, and it is probably the definitive story of how David Byrne blew up a successful band because he's an asshole.
Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz has revealed what happened when the band finally split in 1991.
Speaking in his new biopic Remain In Love, the sticksman documented the band’s final meeting and said frontman David Byrne was so exasperated that the other members kept their cool when he announced their split, that he yelled: “You should be calling me an asshole.”
It’s believed that Byrne had been telling the other members for years that he wanted the band to break up, but they ignored him for their own purposes.
There was always a belief, at least on my part, that Talking Heads were always breaking up. It took nearly a decade for it to happen, but when it did, Byrne did it in a way that emphasized his need to be a solo artist. And that's fine--no one should be forced to continue in a situation where they are unhappy.

Frantz has taken the unusual step of trying to emphasize the positive outcomes and the love that he and Tina had for what they were doing. The thing that I did not realize was that their Tom Tom Club single, Genius of Love, was far more successful than anything that Talking Heads had done up to that point and that it generated some envy within the band. And yes, I did think of The Other Two.

The quality of the books that are coming out about music made in the New Wave and punk era is really staggering. Can't wait to get this and read about it.

Monday, July 13, 2020

The Best Intentions of Bob Geldof


Sometimes, good intentions are just not good enough:
Bob Geldof has opened up the personal cost of the Live Aid concerts, admitting that it “impinged” on his private life.

The Boomtown Rats singer and musician Midge Ure were the masterminds behind the 1985 fundraising concerts in London and Philadelphia, which took place 35 years ago today.
The concerts raised more than $127 million for the victims of African famine and were watched by nearly two billion people worldwide, over 40% of the world’s population.

They also took in some of the most iconic live sets in music history – including Queen‘s show-stealing turn at Wembley Stadium.
But in a new interview to mark the 35th anniversary, Geldof said the shows had a huge personal cost on his life.

“I hated it. It became impossible,” Geldof said of the praise that surrounded his charity work.
“For a while I was bewildered. I didn’t have much money at the time. It impinged entirely on my private life. It probably ended up costing me my marriage (he later divorced Paula Yates in 1996),” he told AP.
Geldof is of the belief that no one could do it again. There isn't a universal quality to music today that would bring everyone together--it would be too fractured I suppose. I think that you can trace the decline of music to the early 2000s, which is when music became something that was free for anyone who wanted to download it and when all the genres went in different directions.

You can't get a tenth of that many people to do anything anymore. They won't participate at all in a shared commonality for good, it seems. And you can accuse Geldof of being a misguided misanthrope but I would argue that he's right.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Tim's Twitter Listening Parties


Tim Burgess of the Charlatans (and a fair number of solo endeavors) has been entertaining the hell out of people by hosting his listening parties online. This has turned into a huge deal, and artists are receiving real-time feedback on things they recorded decades ago.
Tim's Twitter Listening Party, the interactive listening parties for classic albums featuring commentary from the artists who made them, was created by Tim Burgess of The Charlatans and have been going since COVID-19 lockdown took hold in March. The western world is starting to open back up, but the listening parties are still going, almost daily, with events going though June and a few scheduled for July.
New additions since our last post include: Arab Strap's Philophobia (6/14), Stars' Set Yourself on Fire(6/18) The Magic Numbers' self-titled debut (6/19), Gruff Rhys' Pang! (6/21), 808 State's Ex:El (6/24), Kate Nash's Made of Bricks (6/25), ABC's Beauty Stab (6/26), Maximo Park's A Certain Trigger (6/27), The Pogues' Red Roses for Me (6/27), The Waterboys' Fisherman's Blues (6/28), David Bowie's Aladdin Sane (6/28) and Joy Division's Closer (7/18).
What I love about the listening parties is the diversity and the emphasis on eliminating negativity. Burgess is a perfect host with great taste. You don't need anything else.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

On Display


I've always been ambivalent about organizing my CDs. Everything has been digitized, but I can't part with them and I won't ever give them up. It's irrational, but there it is.

I used to have a pair of CD racks that I would set up and, of course, I couldn't get them all to fit. But it was worth the effort. Having moved five times (or so) in the last decade has meant that I have not been able to hang on to the racks (they were given up not long after this photo) and finding a suitable replacement has meant trying to decide between particle board and plastic--not a solution.

You can find CD storage units at Goodwill. They are swimming in them. Not interested, really.

My CDs now live in identical moving boxes, stacked up, out of sight. I have a few out, but what does that even mean anymore?

I suppose during the pandemic I should bring each box out, stack and organize them neatly and alphabetically, and see if there are any missing "gems" in there that I might have forgotten to digitize. Let's see how the next few months go.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Dave Greenfield 1949-2020


Dave Greenfield of The Stranglers has died.
The Stranglers’ keyboard player Dave Greenfield has died at the age of 71 after testing positive for coronavirus.
Greenfield, originally from Brighton, died on the evening of May 3, and contracted the virus following a prolonged stay in hospital for heart problems.
A long-standing member of the influential punk outfit, Greenfield was known for his distinctive sound and playing style, using instruments such as the harpsichord and Hammond electric organ.
A wonderful slice of Dave's history and his impact on music:
Our keyboard player, Dave Greenfield, was a prog rocker, though. When I first met him he had platform boots on, his jacket had frills, and he had long hair and what we called a semi-pro moustache. He introduced me to In The Land Of Grey And Pink by Caravan. I did like that. I do remember the Yes singer [Jon Anderson] though. Is he still into elves?

RW: Jon has his own little world. When he doesn’t like what’s happening in the real one he retreats into his own one. He’s a big fan of yours, though, We were touring together last year, driving around in the same car, listening to all sorts of music. We played some Stranglers, and he said to me: “You know, there’s a few of their songs that Yes could have done”. He was right. Certainly something like Golden Brown.

JJ: I’ll tell you something about Golden Brown that I’ve never told anyone before. It actually developed out of a prog rock suite. We were recording the La Folie album, and Hugh [Cornwell] and I were pissed off because we seemed to be writing all the songs. So we said to Jet [Black, drummer] and Dave: “Right, you two are going to write a song. We’re off to the pub. Have it written when we get back”. We fucked off to the pub all afternoon. Now, with Dave being a prog rocker and Jet being a jazzer, when we got back they presented us with this six-part piece of music. And we were like: “Fucking hell, we can’t record this”. We went: “Don’t like that bit… don’t like that… oh, wait a minute, we could something with that”. And the part we did like formed the basis for Golden Brown.
Golden Brown:

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Bands You Should Know


I'm pleased to see someone including The Suburbs on this list, but, really, they are not a nostalgia act. You can follow this band and love what they do and access them through the modern music they're making right now.

The article compares them to The Replacements and Husker Du, and I think that's a mistake. The Suburbs were bigger than either one of those bands for a brief period of time and they made a completely different kind of music, something innovative that neither band could access. The Replacements were entirely a different animal--a raw blast of sorrow and smartassedness. Husker Du was the perfect vehicle for two songwriters and three instruments and a cohesive assault on the senses. And all of these bands went through so many different phases and changed what they were doing and looked for ways to improve themselves. You can't put anyone in a box when it comes to this stuff.

I wouldn't compare any of these bands to one another. They were all after different things. You can enjoy what Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, and Bob Mould are doing today as solo artists, but they're not in the same business as Chan Poling, who is writing and performing in what has to seem like an entirely different industry. It's an embarrassment of riches, and there are diamonds being left everywhere.