Tuesday, 20th October

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Five Things is a little all over the shop this week – some pieces are in the wrong place, and others, about things I actually saw this week, will be in next week’s column. I hope that’s clear… for instance, Friday bought Paolo Conte to the Barbican, and I’ll try to write about that next week. He’s 78, and was the first of The Big Beasts of the A/W 2015 Season™ – and was utterly fantastic. The others are Bob [74] this week, and Charles Aznavour [91!] in November.

EXTRA! 5 THINGS INTERIOR DÉCOR TIPS
Years ago, Rolling Stone did a piece on Levon Helm’s studio, The Barn, and they were extremely taken with the full-size American flags that were hung from the tall double-height walls. They suggested that Levon could well turn his talents to interior design. Well, my current tip is inspired by Bernard Paturel’s Café Espresso in Woodstock. In a set of photos taken by Douglas Gilbert in 1964 for Look magazine – but rejected, as Dylan was deemed too scruffy – there are shots of Bob writing in the upstairs room. Behind him are tools hung on pegboard (perforated hardboard to the timber trade), and I became obsessed with finding some to put on the studio wall. Of course, it also has memories of record-listening booths in the early sixties, so seemed apposite. Thrilled to actually find some, this was the result. I am, obviously, available for all freelance interior design gigs…

Dylantypestudio[I also remember that we once saw Julia Childs’ kitchen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. It had been taken from her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts to be displayed at The Smithsonian. She had used pegboards to hang her utensils.]

IT’S NOT HAPPY VALLEY…
but Unforgotten’s pretty good and the cast is cracking: Bernard Hill, Ruth Sheen, Brian Bovell, Tom Courtenay, Hannah Gordon, Cherie Lunghi and Trevor Eve among them. Loved the exchange between the lead detectives, Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar. His character is nicknamed Sunny, and when he gives his boss (Walker) a piece of information that she’s been obsessing over, she breaks out Bobby Hebb: “Sunny, yesterday my life was full of rain, Sunny, you smiled at me and really eased the pain…”

IF YOU LIKED THAT, YOU MAY LIKE THIS…
Also in detfic news, Aby Morgan’s weird police procedural, River, (think Sixth Sense crossed with Prime Suspect) has a first episode brilliantly bookended by “I Love to Love (But My Baby Loves to Dance)” by Tina Charles, first as a singalong in the car, by Nicola Walker (excellent again) and Stellan Skarsgård, and at the end, as karaoke. Produced by Biddu (remember the Biddu Orchestra?) it’s a creditable lift of the TK house band sound – way better than I remember it.

RADIATING SUNSHINE
Not being able to find Sunny at home and wanting to hear it again I went to YouTube, and discovered this excellent tv performance with Bobby Hebb accompanied by the great Ron Carter on (electric!) bass. After the intro, Bobby goes into the setup for the first verse but unaccountably, teasingly, slips in a bit of the James Bond theme. And the way the key just gets higher and higher towards the end is just great. Don Cheadle could play him in a heartbeat.

Richard Williams wrote a terrific obituary when Bobby died in 2010: “Two minutes and 44 seconds of unrepeatable pop-soul alchemy, recorded almost as an afterthought at the end of a session in which greater attention had been paid to other songs. A two-second snare-drum roll, an irresistibly cool bass figure, the mentholated chimes of a vibraphone, and a guitar and a hi-hat italicising the backbeat introduced Hebb’s light-toned but unmistakably ardent voice, soon buttressed by a purring horn section, kicking drums and cooing backup vocals. It was a gift to discotheques everywhere.”

Bobby had a proper backstory, too… “He was born [Robert Von Hebb] in Nashville, Tennessee, the son of blind musicians, and he and his brother Harold, who was six years older, performed on the street as part of the family’s washboard band, Hebb’s Kitchen Cabinet Orchestra, while they were still children. In his teens, Hebb became the only black member of Roy Acuff’s Smoky Mountain Boys, playing the spoons and other instruments, at a time when commercial country music was an exclusively white preserve.” See what I mean?

You can also watch James Brown kicking it out of the park here. This performance was uploaded by rare soul films, which does what it says on the tin – a real treasure chest of great tv performances.

SPEAKING OF DON CHEADLE
An interesting review of Don’s Miles Davis biopic from Matt Patches of US Esquire:
“In his prismatic, percussive biopic Miles Ahead, which just premiered at the New York Film Festival, actor-director Don Cheadle picks up with Davis at his lowest point, a late-’70s stretch of musician’s block provoked by depression and fluffed with cocaine. Through flashbacks and haunting memories, we see the full pendulum swing – from success stories, down to derailment, and all that jazz in between. Cheadle evokes Davis’ recordings with mercurial style and his own rambunctious performance as the late legend. The past ebbs and flows out of the present. Deeper cuts (think Agharta) rub against the classics in an anachronistic splatter painting. The main thrust of the film, the hunt for stolen studio tapes, imagines Davis and amalgamated Rolling Stone writer Dave Brill (Ewan McGregor) in a swinging version of T.J. Hooker. Cheadle pulls out all the stops to capture Davis’ essence. He never quite gets there. Miles Ahead is the rare biopic in need of Hollywood’s “cradle to grave” blueprints. By scrapping Davis’ origin story – picking up his first trumpet, finding his sound, abandoning the culture around him – the film simply insists upon importance. The music never speaks for itself.”

Five Things: Wednesday, November 20th

In Bob News This Week
Watch this. Most. Jawdropping. Music Video. Ever. The world of US TV skewered with humour, with shades of Bob and Larry Charles’ dystopian nightmare Masked & Anonymous hidden in the glossy surface (watch those news channels again and look at the ticker tape lines–BANKS STILL DEALING IN IMAGINARY MONEY, for instance). A triumph of technology and imagination, it’s also very funny. Love the Kanye West quote. Hats off to Vania Heymann, who had the idea.

Dylanvid

In other news, Hugh and I wander over to Bond Street for the press view of Bob’s Iron Range welded metal work at the Halycon Gallery. Hugh is disappointed that rough and rusted metal has been so highly varnished that it looks like cookware rather than sculpture.

BobCarDownstairs are Bob’s huge re-Photoshopped magazine covers (very strange, and not very good) and his Gangster Doors, vintage car doors riddle with gunshots. At this point, I confess I felt like Mr Jones.

Oh, George! You Card!
Tom Junod, in US Esquire: “Being Clooney, he does not only write to Brad Pitt, however. He also writes as Brad Pitt. A few years ago he even had some stationery made up with Brad Pitt’s letterhead. Then he found a book about acting and accents and sent it to Meryl Streep, with an accompanying note. It said, “Dear Meryl, this book really helped me with my accent for Troy. I hope it helps you too.” He signed it “Brad Pitt.” Then he sent another letter to Don Cheadle on “Pitt’s” stationery. As long as Cheadle has been acting, he has dreamt of playing Miles Davis. So the letter informed Cheadle that Pitt’s production company had acquired the rights to Davis’s life story. The letter said that Pitt wanted him to star in it.

As Charlie Parker.

Now That’s What I Call A Career
Mike O’Neill obituary by his daughter Jess, The Guardian
My father, Mike O’Neill, a piano player and songwriter who enjoyed his heyday in the 1960s, has died of cancer aged 75. Born in Lowton, Lancashire (now in Greater Manchester), the oldest of four brothers, he grew up in the 40s causing havoc as a child. He later took a job in the steelworks, but decided to teach himself the piano instead, eventually hitching his way to London, where he threw himself into the music business. After playing with Colin Hicks and the Cabin Boys, he fronted the instrumental group Nero and the Gladiators who performed in togas and had hits with rocked-up versions of “Entry of the Gladiators” and “In the Hall of the Mountain King”. After leaving the band he went on to play with the Ivy League and the John Barry Seven and was a founding member of Heads, Hands and Feet with Tony Colton and Chas Hodges (of Chas and Dave fame). A prolific session musician, Mike played with the Beatles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dusty Springfield, Shirley Bassey, Deep Purple and Chuck Berry. He even jammed with Jimi Hendrix, who reportedly thought about taking Mike on as his pianist. Mike also played on Donovan’s album A Gift from a Flower to a Garden, toured with Joe Cocker and even gave Dire Straits their name. Mike’s childhood friend Clive Powell arrived in London and joined him in his flat in Old Compton Street, Soho, where he introduced him to jazz and the 2i’s coffee bar. Powell then began to perform under the name Georgie Fame and recorded some of Mike’s songs. In the 70s, Mike drifted into theatre and was musical director with the 7:84 theatre company, where he met his wife, the actor Rachel Bell, whom he married in 1979, and worked with the playwright John McGrath. He later went on to work as a doorman at the Royal College of Art, becoming great mates with Eduardo Paolozzi – who swapped sculptures and prints with him in return for back copies of National Geographic, which Mike lovingly rescued from many a London charity shop. He loved to paint and draw and was the kindest, most generous and good-hearted man you could ever hope to meet.

Triptych From Marrakech
Drummers in the Jemaa el-Fnaa Square. Always go to the barbers with the painting of Liberace on the door for a shave. I understand this list of chefs and restauranteurs, but was puzzled by the inclusion of Ray Charlz.
Marrakech
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