Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week: Wednesday 27th June

Hall & Quotes (ouch!)
Rebecca Hall interview, Stylist. There’s a rumour you’re a total music geek… “Yes, that’s true. This is how much of a music geek I am; if I have a day with nothing to do, one of my favourite things is to just sit at my computer and make playlists of pretty much anything. If I could be a musician, I’d do it. I love singing.”
Is there one song you think everyone should listen to?
“That’s a really tough question. Do you mean the song or the version? I always go back to Ella Fitzgerald singing My Man at the Montreux Jazz Festival 1977. It’s not necessarily the song, and it’s not even necessarily her, it’s that particular recording. For some reason, it always gets to me. And I’ve got a bunch of those but that’s the first that comes off the top of my head.”

I’m a sucker for actually bothering to listen to things that people recommend (in all those My Playlist, or Favourite Saturday Night/Sunday Morning Record magazine features), and that’s an interesting response: The song or the version? Sometimes there are particular versions of songs that just work for you. For instance, Rick Danko singing Unfaithful Servant (part of last week’s post). That’s not the version I’d play anyone if I were trying to convince them of the brilliance of the song (that would be the original Band version, if you’re interested). It’s not even the second version I’d play them (that’s Rock Of Ages if you’re still interested). But it is the one that moves me now and makes me hear the song anew.

Anyway: I go to iTunes to get Ella’s Montreux version and find this:

Do explicit songs get a 20p surcharge? No, cause I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart apparently doesn’t have swearing and is 99p. WHAT IS THIS SWEARING? So I buy it. My Man is lovely, throaty and intense (the last time through Ella hits the title phrase like a tenor sax), starting with a deep breath as Tommy Flanagan picks out the intro. It has all her signatures, and a beautiful virtuoso ending. I can see why Rebecca Hall loves it. I’ve listened to Come Rain and damned if I can find any @#%&*! swearing. If anything, Ella sings like she has a broad smile for the whole song (for me this song is owned by Ray Charles’ glacial take). So, unlike Ella’s My Man, it’s not a version for the ages. Just a version with a 20p surcharge.

The Wide, Wide World Of Sport (And Music)
From Sport Magazine, June 22: BEATS BY DR DRE PRO HEADPHONES: What Modern sportsman doesn’t carry round a hefty pair of cans? “They are noise-cancelling, so great before a big race, and for travelling,” he explains. “I like all kinds of music, from Jay Z to Michael Jackson.”—Team GB swimmer Lian Tancock.

Pot. Kettle. Black.
“After a day with Bono, she might want to put herself back under house arrest.”—Bob Geldof on Aung San Suu Kyi.

Tin Pan Alley, Stefan Grossman, Sound Techniques
Sound Techniques was a studio housed in an old dairy building between Chelsea Embankment and the King’s Road. I was thinking about it because I walked past one of the guitar shops on Denmark Street and idly glanced at a beautiful inlaid Martin acoustic. I looked closer and realised it was a Stefan Grossman signature model. Stefan was, and is, an extremely brilliant  guitarist. I had been talking about him with Sam Charters, who was tasked in the mid-seventies with making a mainstream Grossman record by Transatlantic Records’ Nat Joseph. To this end he hired Alan White, Danny Thompson and Richard Thompson to play. When Sam was in town producing I would hang around the studio after work or college, just enjoying watching the creative process and soaking up the atmosphere (Nick Drake’s albums were recorded at ST), looking down from the control booth to the live room below. I have two memories of those particular sessions: One is watching Sam and Stefan patiently making the curly-headed Richard Thompson overdub one electric guitar part for hour after hour, trying to get him to play it more aggressively. Difference between a session man and an artist in his own right—a session man will say, “You want this? Or this? Or how about this?” Richard just tried to play it better each time. And the other memory was of picking up a comic that was lying in Alan White’s Drum Case and being given very short shrift by the Plastic Ono Band drummer for not asking first…

Maltese Diamond Position Inlays. £4,179.

Best Coast
Always nice to see a relative on stage, even if they are second cousins (did I get that right? Or is it first cousins twice-removed? Or not even cousins but something else?) Whatever, Brett is my cousin Nickie’s son. And bass & guitar player for Best Coast on tour. A grand night had by all!

Best Coast, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 20th June. Brett and Bethany Cosentino

Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week: Wednesday 20th June

School’s Out (For Ever?)
“Baby taking her GCSE’s. Passing of time is wonderful. Means never again I will hear a school choir sing I Believe I Can Fly. Thank Christ.”—Alison Moyet on Twitter. Amusing that R. Kelly has written the modern school anthem of positivity & inspiration—may I humbly suggest that all schools now switch to R. Kelly’s Relief. Great, great tune, beautifully covered by Sam Amidon as a folk ballad, has that anthem thing going on, teeming with hope, if not quite actualité.

“The storm is over, and I’m so glad the sun is shining
Confusion everywhere, without a clue on how to make things better
A toast to the man upstairs, ’cause he puts the pieces back together
Now let’s step to a new tune, ’cause everything is o.k.
You’re alright, and I’m alright, well, let’s celebrate.
What a relief to know that—we are one
What a relief to know that—the war is over
What a relief to know that—there is an angel in the sky
What a relief to know that—love is still alive”

Imagine a hundred ten-year-olds singing that.

Nostalgia Time 1. Mixing Buddy Guy And Junior Wells, Vanguard Studios, NYC, 1968
Sam Charters has been staying with us and I managed to find some pictures, among them this gem—a Three Track Machine (cutting edge, apparently), a vacant studio in Midtown, a twelve year old wannabe engineer.

The Poetry Of Aaron Copland
Came across this great piece I’d ripped out of the New Yorker years ago, by Alex Ross: “There is an affecting recording of the elderly Copland rehearsing Appalachian Spring with the Columbia Chamber Ensemble. When he reaches the ending, an evocation of the American frontier in ageless majesty, his reedy, confident Brooklyn voice turns sweet and sentimental: ‘Softer, sul tasto, misterioso, great mood here… That’s my favourite place in the whole piece… Organlike. It should have a very special quality, as if you weren’t moving your bows… That sounds too timid. It should sound rounder and more satisfying. Not distant. Quietly present. No diminuendos, like an organ sound. Take it freshly again, like an Amen.’ Copland conjures a perfect American Sunday in which the music of all peoples stems from the open doors of a white-steepled church that does not yet exist.”

For Emily, Wherever They May Find Her
From thetrichordist: Recently Emily White, an intern at NPR All Songs Considered wrote a post on the NPR blog in which she acknowledged that while she had 11,000 songs in her music library, she’s only paid for 15 CDs in her life. Our intention is not to embarrass or shame her. We believe young people like Emily White who are fully engaged in the music scene are the artist’s biggest allies. We also believe–for reasons we’ll get into–that she has been been badly misinformed by the Free Culture movement. We only ask the opportunity to present a countervailing viewpoint.
David Lowery [Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker] wrote this open letter. It’s worth reading
. Here’s an excerpt:

“The existential questions that your generation gets to answer are these:
• Why do we value the network and hardware that delivers music but not the music itself?
• Why are we willing to pay for computers, iPods, smartphones, data plans, and high speed internet access but not the music itself?
• Why do we gladly give our money to some of the largest richest corporations in the world but not the companies and individuals who create and sell music?

This is a bit of hyperbole to emphasize the point. But it’s as if:
Networks: Giant mega corporations. Cool! have some money!
Hardware: Giant mega corporations. Cool! have some money!
Artists: 99.9 % lower middle class. Screw you, you greedy bastards!

Congratulations, your generation is the first generation in history to rebel by unsticking it to the man and instead sticking it to the weirdo freak musicians!”

Nostalgia Time 2. Sid Vicious Stole My Corgi Toys
Nah he didn’t. But the Punk Britannia series on BBC4 put me in mind of Simon, as I knew himJohn Simon Ritchie—an extremely nice playmate. My mother’s friend Rene was Anne Beverly’s sister and was often called on to help a fairly troubled woman navigate her messy life. We lived in the same block as Rene and her son David, and Simon—a shy kid— spent time there, when the need arose. I remember long afternoons spent on our hands and knees with Corgi cars in David’s tiny bedroom… At some point he stopped coming round to play and we all moved on to other things. I saw Simon twice more. Once on Shaftesbury Avenue, looking in the window of a music shop, long greatcoat, hair cut like Bowie, fidgeting, mumbling, smiling. And then as Sid, on a tube train—summer of 77 I’m guessing, definitely a member of the Pistols—leather and chains, when I felt too intimidated to say anything, but we exchanged a glance and sort-of-knew that in some previous life we had known each other.

John Simon Ritchie, School Photo

Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week: Wednesday 13th June

Rick Danko, Unfaithful Servant, LA, 1979: “Easy with him, he’s a human…”
As Eric Andersen wrote, in a farewell letter to Rick: “Your singing remains one of the everlasting glories of American music.” And, though it’s ragged and rough, this is as glorious as it gets. A sweaty club, a febrile atmosphere (it’s not beautifully recorded, but the room fairly crackles—I’ve rarely heard something sound so present). Blondie Chaplin, ex-Beach Boy, is on piano, Rick just singing, not playing bass, someone loosely slapping a tambourine. The crowd is rowdy, and inappropriate for such a heartfelt song. There’s an Elvis-like foldback on the vocal mike, almost sounding like it’s hitting the back wall and touring the room. From Caledonian Mission to It Makes No Difference Rick defined a way of ballad singing that’s unique—a high, white, hilltop soul man, singing American music. Here, he leans in hard, perhaps as a response to the low-down, boozed-up crowd. He fumbles some lyrics, oversings others, but it’s fantastic. Just after he sings “Farewell to my other side, Well, I’d best just take it in stride” he makes the above plea to the crowd, but doesn’t miss a beat. The crowd whistles & whoops and Rick turns it on until the words run out and Paul Butterfield steps up to take the song home with a searing harp solo.

Jo Stafford, Paul Weston, Jonathan and Darlene Edwards
Flicking through an illustrated biography of Frank Sinatra I came across a reference to Jo Stafford (the No 1 singer of the ‘pre-rock’ era, apparently). I’ve got various tracks by her, including a great version of You Belong To Me—a wonderful song nicely covered by Bob Dylan and included on the soundtrack of Natural Born Killers. The book mentioned that she recorded several albums with her husband Paul Weston, spoof records that grew out of a party turn, where he would play bad cocktail piano and she would sing high and out-of-tune. Proustian rush time! These albums were a favourite of my parents, alongside others by Jonathan Winters and Bob Newhart. My dad also had a 78 of Red Ingle & His (Un)Natural Seven’s Tim-Tay-Shun (a spoof of Perry Como’s Temptation). And who is the female vocalist on Tim Tay Shun? Jo Stafford. And they still sound pretty great.

Weird iPod Synchronicity Pt2: June 12th, Victoria Station, London
A song I don’t recognise starts playing, a kind-of bluesy shufflin’ riff with slight Beatles-y overtones in its swirling guitars, as I turn to the G2 section of The Guardian. Steve Miller starts singing: “Way down in Alabama there’s a girl just a waitin’ for me, She don’t have to worry, she don’t have to hurry, Lord, I keep her so happy, she’s my…” And at this point I read the cover line: THIS DRUG RUINS LIVES: HOW SUGAR BECAME A LETHAL ADDICTION by Jacques Peretti. And Steve sings: “Sugar baby, Sugar, sugar baby, Sugar baby, Sugar, sugar baby…”

Really?
World’s Richest DJs:
#10: Moby Net Worth $28 million
#9: Daft Punk Net Worth – $30 million each
#8: Pete Tong Net Worth – $30 million
#7: Judge Jules Net Worth – $40 million
#6: Sasha (DJ) Net Worth – $40 million
#5: Armin Van Buuren Net Worth – $40 million
#4: John Digweed Net Worth – $45 million
#3: Paul van Dyk Net Worth – $50 million
#2: Paul Oakenfold Net Worth – $55 million
#1: DJ Tiesto Net Worth – $65 million

Really 2?

Black and Grey Mesh Eye Logo Trucker Cap, thanks. Oh, on second thoughts…

Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week: Wednesday 6th June

Jubilee Concert Song Choices
Cliff Richard. Devil Woman. Wronged man song. “She’s just a Devil Woman, with evil on her mind.” Give that man a knighthood! Oh, they did…
Robbie Williams. Mack The Knife. Song about a murderer. “Now on the sidewalk… whoo, sunny mornin’, Lies a body just oozin’ life.” Don’t harsh my mellow, Rob!
Ed Sheeran. A Team. Song about a junkie prostitute. “Go mad for a couple grams… And in a pipe she flies to the Motherland, Or sells love to another man.” Thanks, Ed!
Tom Jones. Mama Told Me Not To Come. Song about drug-fuelled party. “That cigarette you’re smoking ’bout to scare me half to death.” Delilah. Song about death and adultery. “She stood there laughing—I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more.” Loving the imagery, Sir Tom!
Stevie Wonder. Superstition. “Thirteen month old baby, broke the lookin’ glass, Seven years of bad luck, the good things in your past.” Hmmmm…

No respite, not even in popular Classical music…
Renee Fleming. Un Bel Di Vedremo (from Madame Butterfly). Deluded woman waits for philandering, unpleasant husband to return.

Best Thing About The Jubilee Concert
Grace Jones. Slave To The Rhythm. The Hula Hoop. Enough said.

The genius of Spy Magazine, now complete and online

Al Hirshfield draws the British editors who made their careers in NYC in the 90s. Diggin’ Anna Wintour as Paul McCartney!

2012-1951
In this Jubilee Week, a look back at the Festival Of Britain, put in mind by a lovely present from the erstwhile jazz drummer Colin Bowden. A framed 78 by the Crane River Jazz Band (on the Parlophone label) of I’m Travelling, with Ken Colyer on cornet and Bill Colyer on washboard. Colin: “That record of I’m Travelling was the first major recording I ever did, because I was in the audience!” Colin was a schoolboy at the time, but went on to become one of the major figures in the Traditional Jazz revival of the early fifties.

Clockwise: Parlophone 78, Bill’s misspelled invite, Princess Elizabeth meets Ken, Programme cover

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