Tuesday, April 12th

With a generic soundtrack halfway between Bowie’s “Heroes” and U2’s “Beautiful Day”, and created entirely from stock footage, this is one Presidential campaign ad you should watch. “Wherever I go… so do lens flares, and fields in sunlight…”

I’d finally managed to get tickets to see Melody Gardot, bought a few months ago, and then it happened that we needed to go to the US over the weekend that she was playing the Palladium (“Now this is a classy joint, got curtains and everything”, said Tom Waits in 1980 as he stood on its stage. “Ya should see some of the toilets we’ve been playing lately…”). So, I’m even more annoyed to have missed it when Kevin (who had kindly bought the tickets from me) texts a capsule review the day after: “Blinding gig! The girl’s got mojo running through her like rock has Brighton: muscular Muscle Shoals gospel blues, jazz ballads, New Orleans heat, Chicago melancholy and most of the Mississippi in between, with an odd Philly soul detour. Strong presence of the Female Holy Trinity throughout: Nina, Aretha and Janis, and the Ghost of Saturday Night himself.”

Ki&Ki. Gotta love something played with a spatula…


Bob sends a link to this beautiful piece about John Prine by Dan Barry of the New York Times, saying… “…the first graph is very nice, I think”. “A man in search of a pint found one in an Irish establishment in Midtown. He was short and everyday, save for his spikes of gray-white hair and a sizable indentation in his neck — the mark of something endured. He looked like a guy who’d been around, and was grateful to still be.”
It’s all great, I think. A little more:
“Then came the neck cancer, which Mr. Prine approached with wit and wonder to leaven the fear. His surgeon at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston fashioned a shield for his vocal cords — as if he were Pavarotti, Mr. Prine joked, instead of a performer who talked more than sang. “He was going to all this trouble,” he recalled, “and I finally said, ‘Have you ever heard me sing?’”
Prine also was an early crowdfunder: “He is also admired as a trailblazer for his early rejection of the recording-industry model, which he felt exploited singers and songwriters. When he co-founded an independent label, Oh Boy Records, in 1981, fans sent enough checks in advance of the next album that costs were already covered.”


I’m the target audience for this – in Jerry Garcia’s words I’m “Old and in the way…” and it’s a cool idea, but it missed several tricks, mostly musical. It was perfectly interesting (up to a point) but the archive footage and voiceovers were a disaster – if you’ve chosen to reassemble a (Japanese Tokai copy) Fender Stratocaster, then give us a little of Leo Fender and his brilliance, not a seen-a-thousand-times-before clip of girls screaming in 1964 at Keith Richards playing a Les Paul. Find out why the Strat’s the shape it is, interview some players, tell us why the tremolo bar came about – because James May’s bumbling Everyman is by now a fairly tired shtick. Hold on – why was it a copy? A new Fender’s only about £350…

From every record tells a story – a story of Exhibitionism and greed: “A Stones-branded football table is offered for £4,750, there’s a £2,500 backgammon set, a £940 record case and the most appalling smoking jacket based on Exile on Main St from Turnbull and Asser – a snip at £1,450. For those on relative budgets but still with money to burn there are Smythson notebooks (£50 each or £265 for a set) a £42.50 Steiff teddy, Lulu Guinness clutch bags (£295), or suitably gaudy Villebrequin swimming trunks (£180) and t-shirts (£85). Thank goodness there hasn’t been a global financial crisis and period of austerity recently…”


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