QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Marina Hyde in the Guardian, attempting to follow Cameron and Boris as they gladhand the (carefully controlled) public: “Anyway, the day was run not so much on a need-to-know basis as a we’ll-decide-who-needs-to-know basis. I don’t want to overegg this remoteness problem, but we did start the day in a facility that describes itself as “the UK’s premier supplier of log cabins”. By Friday we’ll be at the UK’s premier supplier of panic rooms. Cameron has toured so many empty business parks and factories now that he must be totally dislocated, like some infinitely duller version of an arena rock star whose manager has to slap him awake and tell him he’s in Minneapolis.”
Lowell George – Feats First. I stumbled on this DVD on LoveFilm. It’s a must-see for fans of the late-lamented Lowell. Excellent contributions from Bud Scoppa, Barney Hoskyns, George Massenberg and the always interesting Van Dyke Parks, it avoids most of the Rock doc traps. Director Elliot Riddle allows contributors to talk at length, and Lowell’s life story is told with honesty and heart. Martin Kibbee, George’s songwriting partner, recalled two demos by their first band, The Factory, in 1966, with Frank Zappa at the controls. “The Loved One” was based on a movie of the same name from the book by Evelyn Waugh, which we were big fans of! And “Lightning Rod Man” was based on a short story by Herman Melville – Frank was not into all that literary stuff! We recorded at Original Sound, the first 10 track recorder in town and Frank was the most inventive guy in the studio. He tuned the piano and played it with pliers; he doubled up the backbeat with rolled up towels on a piano bench!”
It’s full of great tales – did you know George studied with Ravi Shankar? That he appeared on The Gomer Pyle show with drummer Richie Hayward, as a group called The Bedbugs? There’s a great interview where he delinates the difference between his style of slide playing and Ry Cooder’s – a lot to do with compression and a Sears & Roebuck 11/16ths spark-plug socket wrench.
Most touching are the Massenberg and Parks interviews. Here’s Van Dyke talking: “I was aware of his physical prowess and his intellect – Kant or Nietzsche, great philosophers, Socrates – all these dead white guys spoke to him with their theories about how to live a life that was instructed by principle. Both of us were left of Karl Marx and we were members of the same team, with a Trojan Horse, and we were determined to enter the music business and transform it and bring it good intent. I loved Lowell like a brother”. There follows an anecdote about a Japanese group who turned up at Sunset Sound with a suitcase filled with $100 dollar bills and a desire to be produced by Van Dyke that is just insane.
The Judge is better than I feared it would be – more hard-nosed than Hollywood usually is – and features a nice playlist of songs alongside Thomas Newman’s score: Bon Iver’s “Holocene”, “Reason to Cry” by Lucinda Williams, Fleetwood Mac’s “Storms” and Gram Parson’s We’ll Sweep Out The Ashes (In The Morning)”. And the bonus (?) of Willie Nelson singing a pained version of Coldplay’s “The Scientist” over the closing credits.
Later’s line-up this week had Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – yesterday’s haircuts, yesterday’s chords. To almost quote Greil Marcus, “Who buys this shit?” Followed by the Mumfords. Christ, lank hair alert! Hideous Guitary-Guitars in Turbo-Folk Explosion! It sounds like they want to be Counting Crows – nice to see their ambition stretching, eh? Did we fight the Rock Wars of the Seventies so this could happen? My desire for something fresh is at least met by Cheikh N’Digel Lô’s accordion player and his Senagalese/Fado cross, supple and fluid, with a dead-on beat.
ON THE PLAYLIST THIS WEEK
Open Culture: “Five years ago, Kevin Ryan a 30-something music producer from Houston, Texas got a big idea. Why not take his two favourite things – Bob Dylan and Dr. Seuss, of course – and mash them up into one original creation. Hence came Dylan Hears a Who, a mock album that took seven Dr. Seuss classics and put them to the melodies and imitated voice of Mr. Dylan.” While I, as a child, preferred Richard Scarry to Dr Seuss, there is something about the language that Seuss uses that makes this a perfect match. And you can’t argue with the sentiment.