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

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