Five Things: Wednesday 12th June

Otis Black
Talking about the Otis Redding documentary last week, Hugh told us: “I was in the art class at Dunfermline High when I heard that Otis had died. My fellow Mods and I gathered together at lunchtime to discuss the sad news and it was agreed that we would all wear black ties the next day. So I borrowed (or nicked) my dad’s funeral tie and duly turned up at school – to find that I was the only one who had remembered or, to be more accurate, bothered – Mods could be a fickle bunch, with a bit more style than substance.”

Four-Hour Flight Of The Eagle
Possibly too long, not enough peyote, or grumpiness with CS&N, too much “how we got back together after sacking everyone…” But an awesome level of ability and professionalism, some great singing and guitar slinging, the right amount of indebtedness to Jackson, JD Souther and – most especially – Linda Ronstadt,  and a fair sampling of the treasurable Joe Walsh, a true one-off. My favourite moment is when Glenn Frey is talking about how being on the road so much makes you go a little crazy and the camera pans across to Joe, wearing (of course) a fly’s head made of aluminium foil, and he nods. But the silver foil head is lovingly crafted. It has antennae and a proboscis, and the longer he nods the funnier it becomes. Richard Williams recently told me to listen to “Tell The World About You” from Walsh’s Barnstorm. You are advised to track it down post-haste. It’s a truly gorgeous meld of Southern Soul and Southern California.

Marnie Stern, Here’s Imelda’s Plectrum
Talking of one-offs, after Marnie’s blistering screamfest of an opening number, Marcel turns to me and says, “Well, at least she’s not copying anyone”. Cartoon-voiced, foul-mouthed, with two burly men on bass and drums, she thrashes out one short sharp song after another, filled with firecracker guitar and lots of shouting. It’s exhilarating. The melodies are jagged and the riffs punchy – like a slightly more benign thrash metal. Marnie looks like Cameron Diaz playing the role of AC/DC’s Angus Young. The person I’ve seen recently with the same quality of intensity and humour is Este Haim, the bassist with Haim, whose gurning and whirling are a sight to see. At one point Marnie’s bassist shoots a film of the audience clapping and cheering to prove, Marnie says, “that people love me,” as her mother is convinced they don’t…

Just before the last song she drops her plectrum and can’t find it. I’m kind of stunned she doesn’t have a gaggle of picks taped to her mike – this must be a regular occurrence. I remember I have Imelda May’s pick in my jeans [why? see here] and proffer it to Marnie, getting a warm clap on the back from a fellow audience member. The show goes on to climax in a number where the drummer gets ever louder and faster, the bassist is all over the frets and Marnie is spinning and playing a raucous off-kilter riff. It combines John Bonham with Philip Glass, and, oh I don’t know… Yngwie Malmsteen? Whatever, its pummeling intensity for six minutes gives the next minute a blissful sense of headiness, as if you’d been holding your breath and suddenly let go. Marcel gets a CD signed. Thanks for the pick!!! It was great heartxo.

MarnieRocks

Calling Bill Hicks
I’m always at a loss why already rich people are shills for the likes of watch and perfume companies, but I guess jazz musicians don’t take home the money that film stars do. So the appearance, only a few pages apart, of two advertisements featuring Wynton Marsalis in the new edition of American Esquire, shouldn’t surprise me. Mind you, it pales in comparison to this: Jermaine Jackson says, “Being involved in the hospitality business is a dream I shared with my brother Michael, and Jermajesty Hotels and Resorts is named after my son [that’s right. His son is called Jermajesty]. I am absolutely delighted to have GoConnect joining us in this emotional journey. Rarely is there an opportunity for an upscale hospitality business to be able to capitalize on the success of a global entertainment brand. With the establishment of Jermajesty Holdings, that opportunity has now finally arrived.”

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Sophie Heawood On The Digitising Of Music, The Guardian
Over the past few years I have got rid of all my CDs, all my records, all my tapes. I even wiped my hard drive, leaving nothing on my iTunes. I used to live for music, and spend most nights of the week at gigs or in nightclubs. As a music journalist, I used to have so much sent to me that you could barely get into the spare room… The digital age was starting to offer freedom from all this clutter, so when my career changed, and I moved house a couple of times in rapid succession, I decided it had to go. I would be free! I would stream music from the internet as the mood took me! Just like William Blake said, I wouldn’t bind myself to a joy, I would kiss the joy as it flew.

(It is possible that the musicians who slog for two years to write the songs for an album, book studios to record them, sound engineers to mix them, people to design the album sleeve and print them, weren’t madly keen on my streaming it online while they were remunerated with a 25p cut of the streaming company’s advertising revenue, along with a couple of woodpigeons and a soap-on-a-rope as a goodwill gesture. I have a sneaking feeling they would have preferred to pay their landlord and sound engineer in cold hard cash.)

Still, they needn’t have worried, as I have ended up only listening to Rihanna. On Spotify. They haven’t even got all the albums. I don’t even think they’ve got the ones I like. But I can’t remember which ones I like any more. As Kelly Oxford writes in her new memoir, Everything Is Perfect When You’re a Liar: “I don’t think I’m going to die soon, but I finally feel like I’m growing old. Like, I know there’s a Lil Wayne and a T-Pain, but somehow I thought they were the same person. You can be sure you’re getting older when your finger isn’t on the pulse of pop culture but you’re sure it is.”

It prompted this nice letter the next day: “I was pleased to read that Sophie Heawood (G2, 5 June) has rediscovered the pleasure of listening to good music on a decent stereo. As Alex said in A Clockwork Orange: “What you got back home little sister, to play your fuzzy warbles on? I bet you got little save pitiful, portable picnic players. Come with uncle and hear all proper! Hear angel trumpets and devil trombones. You are invited.” Ralph Jones

Comments

  1. Mick Steels says:

    I discovered Spotify recently and, if I had any willpower, it would serve my needs quite adequately. To listen to music at a whim on impulse sounds ideal, but we all have history and baggage and it is difficult to dump it. My main interest is in jazz/improvised music and there is a strong case for just listening to this music once, then moving on to something new.
    All well and good, so I was in the supermarket the other day saw a Billie Holiday box set of the classic Columbia sides from the 30s, most of the stuff I had on vinyl, 77 tracks for £3 could I resist, what do you think…..

  2. Well now that the 50 year rule in the UK has hit 1962, look for Dylan’s first album in the Public Domain, cheap and with extra tracks! £3 is difficult to resist, Mick. I like your questing for new stuff attitude, too…

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