Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week: Wednesday 25th July

Big Man On The Bass
Sad news that Bob Babbitt (Midnight Train to Georgia, Rubberband Man, Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours, Inner City Blues, Band Of Gold, Tears Of A Clown, Copacabana, Never Can Say Goodbye—wow!) has passed away. Watch Standing In The Shadows Of Motown and thrill to his pulse, precision and groove. He’s totally on it, whether negotiating James Jamerson’s iconic lines or his own. Watch him—in a moment caught on low-res videocam—reflected in Meshell Ndegeocello’s sunglasses, as he tearfully talks about the assassination of Martin Luther King, saying of the other musicians who made up the Funk Brothers, “I felt as sad as they did. I was one of them.”

“She Came With Her Spindly Little Legs And Her Mental Hair And Sang Her Heart Out…”
Amy Winehouse: The Day She Came to Dingle. Philip King, producer: “There’s something about singers, they’re sort of odd, you know. They carry songs with them… how many songs is any singer singing at one time? If you talk to a great jazz singer they’ll say I know five hundred songs but I’m singing thirty of them at the minute… Certainly the way that she sang that night, Amy… sang the blues away, She used her gift to still her trembling soul. She used her gift as a way to explain herself to herself. To entertain people, sure, but to sing the blues and to give herself some relief.” On bass, Dale Davis. On guitar, Robin Banerjee. Singing stunningly, Amy Winehouse. There are too many great moments to list, but the Ray Charles interview, an exquisite Me & Mr Jones, the way Amy’s eyes light up when she talks about the Shangri-La’s, the way she sings ‘Door’ in You Know That I’m No Good. If you love music, watch this film.

Surely Previous?

On the shelf above, a sticker read: “When It’s Gone, It’s Gone!”


Euro 2012: A Thriller. Imogen Heap’s Version: Not So Much

I forgot to write about this, but just found a note. Now—I love a re-visioned MJ classic as much as the next person {EVIDENCE FOR THE PROSECUTION: Robbie Fulks’ Billie Jean} but it has to make sense. The usual end-of-tournament slo-mo roundup-with-music was typically well edited and included all the moments of high tension and goals to die for that are prerequisite. It was soundtracked by Imogen Heap (who I usually like and admire) doing an acoustic cover of Thriller—nice piano playing, and lyrically some strike/hand/paralyzed-type links for relevant footage. But, Billie Jean with an impassioned, paranoid delivery atop a slinky bolero beat=goal. Thriller with all the thrills drained out, replaced with slightly hammy over-emoting=horrific penalty shoot-out miss.

Tonight The Blackbird Dies
Despite really liking Low and seeing them live last year, I was ashamed to discover I’d never heard Monkey, which blasts out over the opening of a cracking (but modest) B-picture, Killshot, based on Elmore Leonard’s book of the same name, one of the great modern-day crime novels. The song is fantastic—“Tonight you will be mine, tonight the monkey dies…” Nice to finally see a Hollywood film about hitmen that’s not excessive and stupid, but tight and realistic instead. Mickey Rourke is in finest Wrestler mode as Armand “Blackbird” Degas, Diane Lane is excellent and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Richie Nix is really fine. The behind camera lineup is impressive: Produced by Laurence Bender and the Weinsteins, directed by John Madden, shot by Caleb Deschanel, thanks to Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack in the credits. Of course, it never got a cinema release in Britain.


  1. ref MJ covers. Do you know Shinehead’s reggae version of Billie Jean? Possibly the only cover to reference Morricone. Found this version on YouTube

  2. Martin, I totally agree with your take on KILLSHOT. It’s the only time I’ve ever seen Hollywood get Elmore Leonard right. Which is why it didn’t get a wide release… I’m just glad they got the casting and script right on this one as it’s my all-time favorite Leonard novel. Now, if they could just get the casting director to work on the Justified show, and change the Roy Rogers lead on that one…

  3. Tim: Billie Jean+Good Bad and Ugly=Genius!
    Les: I think it’s actually me agreeing with your take, as you put into words exactly what I’d always felt about EL adaptations…

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