Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week: Wednesday 14th November

Steely Dan Sang, “Call Me Deacon Blue…”
Steve Miller sang, “Some people call me the Space Cowboy, some call me the Gangster Of Love.” Carly Rae Jepsen sang Call Me Maybe. Blondie and Al Green just sang “Call Me…” Beth Orton, on her new album Sugaring Time, sings “Call Me The Breeze.” And it’s wonderful. It sits on a groove that doesn’t quit—the great jazzist Brian Blade drums, with Sebastian Steinberg on bass, and a loopy Nick Drakesque folk guitar—and builds on the interplay between the dead-on bass pulse and Blade’s drums skipping and punctuating the 4/4, keeping it off-kilter enough to really hook you in. Atop this sit wonderful entwining vocals and a glorious organ solo that creeps up out of the track, attempting to wrest it away from the massed ranks of Beth. Beth just about wins. Interestingly, I can barely find a reference to this song in any review that I’ve read. It doesn’t fall into the “mournful serious intense thang” that all reviewers seem to need in female singer songwriters, like only those type of songs have any heft. Go figure.

Is There A “Boutique Festival” Setting?

My brother-in-law has a brilliant new stereo set-up in his house, and his new Yamaha amp offers to model the sound of your tracks for you—giving them the vibe and atmos of a Viennese Concert Hall, say, or a Cellar Club. At the rock end it offers two clubs from the Seventies, The Roxy in Los Angeles, and The Bottom Line in New York. If you buy a more expensive model, it gives you the Village Vanguard (“Nice!”) or a Warehouse loft (how bad does that sound, I wonder). Sadly, there’s no Boutique Festival, where the music is drowned out by the clatter of glasses and middle-class chatter. We decide the sound is kind of great with no modelling at all.

Shaken, Not Stirred. Credit Sequence, Skyfall
Yes, Adele’s song is very nice, all Bassey-isms present and correct, and it insinuates itself into your head really efficiently, but oh my, the film… Following an Istanbul-set opening sequence that isn’t a patch on Taken 2’s Istanbul-set chase sequences (and let’s not forget that Taken 2 is a B picture photocopied from another B picture, albeit a great one) the credits are unbelievably cheesy. Incoherent and naff images glide by with no stylistic consistency at all and it just makes you fearful of the next two hours. Rightly, as it turns out. Has Sam Mendes not seen The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo?

Trey Songz’ Rhythm Section, Later, Friday
Trey sings his glassy, glossy pop hit, Simply Amazing, his schtick a little out of place on Later, and it’s all pretty groovy and pleasant enough until about a minute and a half in, when you’re not listening to Trey at all, you’re just listening for what Nate Jones on bass will do next—adding little filigree high-register melodies, dropping back to the root notes on his way deep 5 string, totally in the pocket of the groove. About a minute from the end they drop into a breakdown section, and that’s when drummer Antwan “Amadeus” Thompson and Jones decide to have a party on the tune. An outrageous series of rolls and hi-hat snaps are followed by Nate giving it the full Level 42, bass jutted out in front of him like he was Chuck Berry. At the end Trey does a boxer’s shuffle and feint to the bassist, which I fondly think is to honour an exceptional performance.

The Crop Marks & Arrows Of Outrageous Fortune
The International Herald Tribune, celebrating its 125th anniversary, has an auction of pictures from its archives on Monday 19 November. Looking through the catalogue, I’m mostly struck by the pictures of musicians, especially the ones that have compositors marks and instructions and arrows on, showing how the photo will be cropped, focusing on who the editors deemed the important part of the story…

Bennie Goodman clowning with Steve Allen; The Stones in Paris (only Brian Jones escapes a wax pencil cross); Dylan press release shot for The Times They Are A Changin’; Jane Birkin with Serge Gainsbourg; Lionel Hampton clowning around with Elsie Smith; notice how Jazz musicians always seem forced to ‘clown around’…

Comments

  1. antonioolmos says:

    The IHT archive and their horrific cropping that was completely normal in newspapers and magazines reminds you that there was never a golden age of photojournalism. Photography has always been used and abused.

  2. Did you forget JJ Cale’s Call Me The Breeze?

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