Some things from the last couple of weeks, posted on Monday 10th August

VISUAL OF THE WEEK

bike
Funny how “For What It’s Worth” continues to exert its pull on film-makers and advertisers, for uses entirely unrelated to its subject matter, which is the Sunset Strip riots of 1966. Maybe it’s the guitar harmonic that repeats throughout… Here is a rather exquisite matching of the song to a stunning slopestyle mountain bike run (whatever that is – didn’t it used to be BMXing?) with beautifully liquid camera work in one uninterrupted shot. Bike helmets off to Brandon Semenuk on the bike, and Anthill Films for the production and filming.

MARIO WIENERROITHER HAD THE EXCELLENT IDEA…
to remove the music from pop videos, and Lionel Richie’s “Hello” with no music, just reduced to its creepiest parts, is a cracker.

THE B OF THE BANG…
Spookiest sound heard lately? The silence of the 40,000 strong crowd a moment before the 100m final at the Olympic Stadium a couple of weeks ago. Not even one throat-clearing… Usain Bolt’s start was slow but he powered through on a wet track to win in 9.87 seconds. Amused afterwards when he said that he lost focus in the middle of the race. In the middle of a race lasting under ten seconds? Extraordinary.

OR MAYBE THE S OF “SHUT UP…”
I hadn’t realised that all large athletics competitions have a stomping soundtrack throughout. Sometimes it’s groan-worthily obvious: Van Halen’s “Jump” for, well, you can guess. Most of the time it’s just irritating. It set me wondering who makes the music choices. Is there a job title that goes with that? Most of the athletes seem to have bought into the whole “hype up the audience” thing, leading the clapping in the build up to their next attempt. Most blatant offender was the half-bearded (look it up) Italian high jumper Gianmarco Tamberi, although in fairness it did give that competition a slightly hysterical edge which was thoroughly enjoyable.

The organising of the programme is extremely slick and the events run parallel in a really clever way. Our favourite: the North Korea-like synchronicity of the Hurdles prep, with small trucks dispensing assistants (and hurdles) at precise intervals. However, the big screen presentation was lacking. Too many announcements that you couldn’t hear properly over the PA, the huge screens bereft of interesting statistics, with poorly judged replays and focus – why, when Laura Weightman was being interviewed after a fine run (by one of the air-headed personality interviewers – echoes of Smashy and Nicey here) were we treated to a close up of a High Jumper wandering around. Why, when the women’s Triple Jump was happening was the entrance in tracksuits of the men’s 100m finalists deemed more interesting? Dumb.

DYLAN STUFF AND NONSENSE OF THE WEEK
50 years on, it still fascinates. Marc Myers of the Wall Street Journal wrote about the electric Newport ’65 concert on his excellent Jazz Wax blog, and received this missive from Al Kooper, the organist in the band:
“Did it not occur to anyone that the reason people were really upset was that the headliner of the entire festival, the person that most people had traveled a distance to see, the person that they sat through three days of music, only played for 17 minutes? That was the problem, Marc. Journalists turned that around into booing – I only heard people yelling, More! More! More! – and false images of Pete Seeger walking around with a fire ax to cut the sound cables. The fact is someone who shouldn’t have touched the house sound for Dylan’s set did, and did a bad job. Listen to the mono mix on the film versions, as only Bob’s voice and Mike Bloomfield’s guitar can be heard – no drums, no bass, no organ and no piano.”
As for the recording of “Like a Rolling Stone” in June 1965, Al said this:
“Bob didn’t really switch the instrumentation. He just went from 3/4 to 4/4 time. I didn’t think of it as ‘acoustic.’ Bob spent a day (June 15th) working on the 3/4 version and overnight decided to switch to 4/4. Since going electric, he’s always had his 3/4 and 6/8 compositions. “Winterlude” comes to mind. I think the lyric on “Like a Rolling Stone” was more balanced to sing in 4/4 and overnight he came to that conclusion. Some band members were switched, but the instrumentation remained the same until they moved Paul Griffin to piano and changed my life (and instrument).”
And reader Daniel Mainzer added the following…
“Interesting article about Bob Dylan at Newport. I was there. The prevailing mood of the crowd reflected much of our generation’s attitude toward social change as reflected by the music. The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jefferson Airplane and others lit it up in the late 1960s, and the brief flirtation with folk was over, since it was boring. We wanted to move and dance, not sway like seaweed in a gentle tide. I think Dylan felt this too and wanted to break out, to give the people what they wanted. Seeger’s music, and folk in general, was always about social injustice and a heavy message. While well done, the repetition just killed the music. Not to mention the acoustic guitar with no beat. Boring!!! Dylan knew the effect of a pounding rhythm section and let this loose on us. What a relief! Now we could enjoy Dylan instead of putting him on the back shelf.”

ES MAGAZINE QUESTIONNAIRE: LOUISE BREALEY
The Sherlock actress on the first thing she does when she arrives back in London: “I play London is the Place for Me by Lord Kitchener as I drive down the motorway. My best friend Chris put it on a mixtape for me when I was homesick doing Casualty in Bristol in 2002.” A fine choice – it’s in the Music Player to the right.

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