Five Things: Wednesday 14th August

Nice Promo For The Blind Boys Of Alabama
Their new album, produced by Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) sounds pretty good from the clips. Listen out for Shara Worden singing “I’ll Find A Way”, written by Motown guitarist Ted Lucas (no, me neither) that in the short clip sounds just great. Vernon has taste in female singers – his cover of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” testifies to that – and I’ll give him the benefit on his hyperbole about Worden. There’s a touching moment where Shara plays the finished item for Ted’s widow and rushes for the tissue box.

True Say, Will!
“Sometimes a band arrives and becomes extremely popular without good reason. Who are the million people who bought the debut album by White Lies, the trio from Ealing in West London? And who are the ever-growing hordes piling into arenas to hear their polished but unremarkable pop-rock? What do they hear in White Lies that can’t be heard from any number of Eighties-influenced bands, or indeed on albums by actual bands from the Eighties? Perhaps the answer is in White Lies’ ability to make euphoric, reverb-drenched, large-scale music that hints at dark edges but doesn’t actually have any, thereby making the listener feel they might be exploring hidden depths without running the risk of being exposed to anything challenging or depressing… and lyrics that suggest something meaningful without containing too many specifics that might alienate potential listeners.” Will Hodginson, The Times.

Urban Proms, BBC/Coolio’s Cash
The Urban Proms was pretty good musically, although most of what I saw cleaved to the Coolio template of “Gansta’s Paradise”, namely hip hop/rap/grime/whatevs with, er, a string section. But the between-songs links were crucifyingly embarrassing. I Name and Shame: Sarah-Jane Crawford (BBC Radio 3) and Charlie Sloth (BBC Radio 1Xtra). Unbelievably bad, with Sloth a kind of lightweight, unfunny James Corden. I know. Imagine that. By the way, if you want to profit from “Gansta’s Paradise” go to the Royalty Exchange where $140,000 will get you a cut of Coolio’s copyrights. I seem to remember this idea not panning out so well for David Bowie’s investors a while back.

Karen Black, RIP
I’ll always treasure her Rayette in Five Easy Pieces, loving Tammy Wynette with all her heart. First seen as a late teen in a Stockholm Cinema in the afternoon, told by friends that it couldn’t be missed, and they were dead-on. Even now ”Stand By Your Man” gets me, with its strangely off-beat army of acoustic guitars punching home the chorus. Ryan Gilbey, in his Guardian obit, wrote well:

“These parts were strikingly different from one another, but they had in common Black’s knack for conveying her characters’ rich and troubled inner lives, their cramped or thwarted dreams. The consummate example could be found in her Oscar-nominated performance as Rayette, the Tammy Wynette-loving girlfriend to Nicholson’s discontented antihero Bobby Dupea, in Five Easy Pieces. There was a comical but achingly sad intellectual gap between the two. Bobby resented her. Crucially, the audience never did. “I dig Rayette, she’s not dumb, she’s just not into thinking,” said Black in 1970. “I didn’t have to know anybody like her to play her. I mean, I’m like her, in ways. Rayette enjoys things as she sees them, she doesn’t have to add significances. She can just love the dog, love the cat. See? There are many things she does not know, but that’s cool; she doesn’t intrude on anybody else’s trip. And she’s going to survive.”

Wonderfully nuanced use of sound in this slightly pointless mass-murderer tale. The amped up folk band in the nightime town square are all bass and a tiny bit of vocals, Otis and James Carr on the car stereo sound exactly right, the metal band in a bar is as muffled and chaotic as it would be in life. Bass thrash, guitar blur, gruff vox. The Pretenders’ “Brass In Pocket” in the pub makes you remember what a great and unusual song that is.

“Got brass in pocket
Got bottle, I’m gonna use it
Intention, I feel inventive
Gonna make you, make you, make you notice

Got motion, restrained emotion
Been driving, Detroit leaning
No reason, just seems so pleasing,
Gonna make you, make you, make you notice”

Extra: Deke’s Car. Sunday. Definition of Rock (abilly) ’n’ Roll


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