Friday, 19th June

Necessarily brief this week due to house move! See On The Playlist…

VISUAL OF THE WEEK: MILTON GLASER

Bob NYHaving recently bought the Milton Glaser Dylan poster I was surprised to find this copy of the NYTimes Book Review in a box of old stuff in storage. Excellent punning title, great pieces from Jonathan Lethem and Lucinda Williams and Glaser revisiting his poster for the cover.

VISUAL OF THE WEEK 2: EDWYN COLLINS

EdwynWatching the rather beautiful and uplifting documentary on Edwyn Collins, The Possibilities Are Endless I was struck by a couple of things. One is that I didn’t appreciate how good “A Girl Like You” was – especially the Ernie Isley-like guitar solo. And secondly, a rostrum shot of his post-stroke notebooks, where this intriguing list could be found, namechecking two of James Brown’s worthy constituents, and a Northern Soul star: “…yesterday, Maceo Macks, Tommy Hunt, Fancy a beer this weekend?, Bobby Byrd, Well today, Thank you.”

WHATEVER ONE’S TAKE ON M.I.A.…
… you have to admit that she makes very cool videos. From cars doing wheelies in Persia to the 36,000 students of the world’s largest Martial Arts school (Gener8ion + MIA) you just have to think… what and where next?

FAVOURITE REMINISCENCE OF THE WEEK
The as-told-to-Mick Brown Flashback by Michael Des Barres in the Sunday Telegraph: “It was that cliché of the English rocker falling in love with an American groupie. I am not proselytising for the golden age of rock’n’roll. But it will never be that way again. The streets were paved with velvet in those days; there were polka dots in the air; it was hashish and the Romantic poets, Oscar Wilde playing a Les Paul. I wasn’t thinking about how many sit-ups I could do.” I remember Des Barres’ band, Silverhead, must have seen them three or four or more times at The Marquee. They were unbelievably thin and wasted-looking (“a band that weighed collectively 150lb – the most decadent bunch ever” in Des Barres’ words) and played a kind of sludgy rock & roll that promised more than it delivered – but was always extremely entertaining.

ON THE PLAYLIST THIS WEEK

betterdays

This week, we leave the bright lights of the West End for the big skies of the East End, accompanied by Better Days’ updating of Robert Johnson’s classic “Walking Blues”. It features Paul Butterfield on vocals, electric piano & harp, Ronnie Barron on organ, Geoff Muldaur on slide guitar & vocals, Amos Garrett on guitar, Billy Rich on bass and Christopher Parker on drums. Album cover [one of my Hall of Famers] by Milton Glaser at Push Pin Studios.

Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week: Wednesday 18th July

Woodrow Wilson “Woody” Guthrie, born 14th July, 1912
My favourite photograph of a musician is this, a picture of Woody Guthrie, kindly given to me by the peerless Bob Gumpert. It’s my favourite because it has all the essential ingredients for a great music photo: An Icon. A Cigarette. A great location. A wide-angle that puts you right there. An acolyte, absolutely in the moment of playing with an trailblazer. A fascinated, curious crowd, all looking about fifteen. Their expressions are priceless.

Jack ’n’ Woody

I asked Bob how he came to have the picture: “It was taken by a photographer named Art Dubinsky—I am guessing the late 50’s-early 60’s in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, NYC. The other guitar player is Ramblin’ Jack Elliot. Art was a friend, a generous man who was a far better photographer than he got credit for. He lived in NYC at the time—at least I think so. I met him when he lived in LA and I was working in a rental darkroom, time behind the counter for time at the enlarger. He came in one day to use the darkroom as his home had burned down. We got to talking and became friends. He put me in contact with the National Lawyers’ Guild which led first to my photographing farmworker housing at Gallo wine, housing they said they didn’t have, and then to Harlan County, Kentucky for three months of photographing a coal miner’s strike. That in turn led to everything else. Sorry—I guess that is really more about Art and I and not the photo. He gave me the image, probably for no other reason than I liked it and had said so.” An appropriate story to celebrate Woody’s hundredth birthday—a story of friendship, inspiration and workers’ rights.

Poor Old Donovan, Destined To Be Dissed By Dylan Comparison Forever*
The always-amusing Barney Ronay on André Villas-Boas, new Spurs Manager, Guardian. “…there was something oddly heartening about the return in full-page panoramic close-up of André Villas-Boas, now formally in place as the new head coach of Tottenham Hotspur, and appearing, austerely suited in the middle of all this wretchedness, like an unexpected knock at the door from the local curate, who against all expectation you find yourself delightedly ushering inside. Welcome back, André. It has become fashionable to see Villas-Boas as a rather tarnished figure, to recall the frictions of his time at Chelsea, to balk at that familiar air of manicured expectancy. And to portray him instead as a kind of weak-chinned, own brand José Mourinho, Donovan to Mourinho’s Dylan, a provincial Wimpy bar to Mourinho’s gleaming McDonald’s, a managerial Sindy doll of prodigious inauthenticity. This is more than a little unfair. If nothing else there is much to admire in the way Villas-Boas is still out there… displaying the unshakable backseat extroversion that all the best managers have, as he winces and struts centre stage in skinny-trousered splendour, looking each time a little more like a tiny little dancing soldier on top of a wedding cake, or, increasingly, like a particularly convincing waxwork of himself.”

* However, Donovan doesn’t see it this way himself—there’s not much humility going on in his autobiography, The Hurdy Gurdy Man. The evidence of Don’t Look Back doesn’t lie, however—It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue vs To Sing For You?

Roll Away The Stone
The Stones played their first gig at the Marquee club 50 years ago this week. Bill Wyman, in his book, Stone Alone: “On 3 March 1963 we played… an afternoon session at the Ken Colyer Club, Studio 51, in Soho. It was ironic that we were given a great welcome by the ladies, Vi and Pat, who ran this stronghold of New Orleans-style jazz, whereas the jazz snobs at the Marquee and elsewhere saw us as upstarts who should not be encouraged.” The Stones went on to play Ken’s club most Sundays for a year. On September 10th, 1963, The Beatles visited them as they rehearsed at the 51. They presented them with a new, unfinished song, I Wanna Be Your Man. On hearing that the Stones liked the song, John and Paul went into the office and completed it.

The Sound Of Gatz
Ben Williams is on stage through the whole of Gatz (so that’s about six-and-a-half-hours in all), sitting at a desk off to one side, controlling the sound effects and cues, as well as playing various characters. He does a stunning job—sometimes intensifying the drama, sometimes broadening it out with humour—running the gamut from car crashes and gunshots to air conditioner hums and vaudeville turns. One of the most (unexpectedly) moving moments comes when Mike Iveson, playing Gatsby’s houseguest Klipspringer, turns the office sofa into a piano and mimes the gestures of a pianist, paying along to Williams’ tape. He abruptly stops and sings, acapella, the only words in Gatz which don’t come from Fitzgerald’s book, the song The Love Nest.
Building houses still goes on
Now as well as then
Ancient Jack and Jill are gone,
Yet return again.
Ever comes the question old,
“Shall we build for pride? Or,
Shall brick and mortar hold
worth and love inside?”
Just a love nest, cozy and warm,
Like a dove rest, down on the farm,
A veranda with some sort of clinging vine,
Then a kitchen where some rambler roses twine…

In an exquisite rendition, Iveson turns the theme from the George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, a pretty standard Twenties musical number, into a complex, achingly poignant commentary on the emptiness at the heart of Jay Gatsby’s mansion.

M.I.A.’s ‘Bad Girls’ Video, As Recommended This Week In Metro By Shirley Manson
Words are extraneous. Just go to 2:03. Go on.

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