ONE RECORD OF THE WEEK
London’s myriad opportunities for vinyl purchasing leads to some odd places, but this is up there with the (floating) Record Deck – Subtitles café on Balls Pond Road, where you can not only get coffee but original Czech film posters and 331/3 records. Navigating its tiny space is fun, as is flicking through the racks, where I came across this – Charlie McCoy’s The Real McCoy. I know that it will, in all probability, not set the world afire (although it won a Grammy), but it’s basically the Area Code 615 lineup, put together after recording Nashville Skyline (most of them had also worked on Blonde on Blonde three years earlier). One of the few bands named after phone area codes, although you can find some others here (but not Area Code 615, strangely).
TWO REAL COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Of the Oscar-nominated films that films I’ve seen so far, Hell or High Water is the most solid. A small story told exceptionally well with great performances all round and a kickass country score (Billie Joe Shaver, Waylon Jennings et al) surrounded by mood music from Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. The final song is “Outlaw State Of Mind” by Chris Stapleton, which, if you have an affinity to the outlaw country scene of Willie and Waylon and the boys, will take you back to Luckenback, Texas. Investigating further, I found this fine clip of Stapleton performing George Jones’ “Tennessee Whiskey” – bass and keyboards have the Muscle Shoals ’67 look down pat. Chris also gives good interview – “If somebody tells me it sounds dated, I’d say that’s great, as long as the date is 1978… I’m a fan of polarization. If you make something that is palatable to everybody, it’s like making vanilla ice cream, and I think we have enough of that.”
THREE IN OTHER OSCAR NEWS
The gloomy Manchester by the Sea has Lesley Barber’s classical score ladled over it like clam chowder, never letting the film breathe. It jerks into life in a bar scene when there’s a knockout triple of Shirley and Lee’s cataclysmic “Let the Good Times Roll” segueing into Albert King’s solid “Driving Wheel” followed by Ray Charles with “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’”, as Casey Affleck picks another hopeless fight. It’s a beautifully crafted film, with great performances (except, somehow, Michelle Williams, who feels over the top), but we left wondering what the point of it was. I’ll report back on La La Land (I’m not hopeful – it looks like One From the Heart with extra dancing).
FOUR HOWEVER, THIS I WANT TO SEE
From a US Esquire cover story on Pharrell, by Jeff Gordinier: “Pharrell’s feminist inclinations fueled his latest endeavor, Hidden Figures, a film he worked on as a producer and wrote original music for. The movie tells one of those stories from the course of American history that you can’t believe has gone unheard for so long.
Directed by Theodore Melfi and starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe, it raises a toast to three African-American women (Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson) who worked at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia, where they played pivotal roles in America’s space race against Mother Russia in the early 1960s. Without their breakthroughs in mathematical formulas, computer programming (then in its infancy), and engineering, astronaut John Glenn may never have made it into orbit – nor would he and his capsule have splashed down successfully near Grand Turk island.
For decades, their story wasn’t merely marginalized; it was unknown, not even a blip on the radar. No one was listening. “The female contribution to anything significant has always been historically dismissed or discounted, or often erased,” Pharrell says. To a degree, the women were unseen and unheard within the white management structure of NASA, even while they were in the midst of making the calculations that would eventually send American astronauts to the moon. The movie has a series of scenes in which Henson, playing Johnson, has to totter frantically in high heels to a building far away from the main Langley war room because no one thought, in those last days of segregation, to provide a nearby restroom for black women. “That’s how rigged the matrix was,” Pharrell says.
AND FINALLY… STATISTIC CORNER!
I stumbled across this site that purports to tell you what your site is worth, should you be in any way interested in monetizing it. I of course ran the numbers on Five Things. I then ran them for two of the finest music blogs, thebluemoment and JazzWax. Here are the results:
In Eurovision terms I think that makes Five Things nul points.
Next week, I’ll catch up with the March of Mediocrity that was the Pre-Inagaration concert, great rock reads, and Barry Gibb.
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