Sunday, May 29, 2011

BLURT MEANS BLURT - Blurt, The Fox and Firkin, SE13 28.05.11

It's Saturday night and the nipper is off on her very first sleep-over, thus gifting my lovely and long-suffering wife and myself our first free night together for damn near eight years. What to do with this golden, as rare as your proverbial hen's teeth, well nigh priceless opportunity? Blurt are playing the Fox and Firkin in Lewisham, my manor ... one of my favourite ever bands, a pub, a mere five minutes walk ... I'm tickled pink. We're in South East London and the weekend starts here.

Arriving (unfashionably) early we are treated to a soundcheck - a fascinating glimpse into the nuts and bolts of how the Blurt entity is assembled. Ted Milton has a commanding presence even in such informal circumstances, instructing the engineer ... dry on the more aggressive numbers, a little dub echo would be welcome on the dancier ones. My wife reckons she gets a Milton smile while I get a double-take. Whatever can she mean?

Ted Milton, long-serving lieutenant Steve Eagles on guitar and Dave Aylward on drums - a very tight and disciplined unit. Plenty of space, very inventive. Once the gig starts they are straight into business -well-drilled, this band. Angular noise, lop-sided tunes, rock-hard clattering beats.

Songs from the new(ish) album Cut It! (go and buy a copy now, a fine album) such as the title track, 'The Bells' and 'Pure Scenario' stack up nicely against Blurt classics such as 'Enemy Ears' and 'Amour De Ma Vie' (the latter a particular favourite of mine ... I always detect an Afrobeat influence there .... but then again that's the way I am) and the mighty 'The Fish Needs A Bike', a song as loved by my nipper as myself. A quick, guitar-free run through 'Kenny Rogers' Greatest Hit' while Mr Eagles changes a string (truncated by Milton just as Eagles is ready to come in on the beat - got to keep them on their toes), too. "Were you just about to start playing guitar?" asks Milton.

Now, I take Milton seriously as a sax-player ... melodic invention and rhythmic nous, energy and attitude; your jazz purist may turn up his nose and Milton himself may be diffident about his abilities but I love his stuff. Didn't Don Cherry once express his admiration? That's good enough for me. Too much melody gives you a sugar rush - far too sweet at the time and very soon leaves you feeling nauseous - Milton's sax gives you melody in shards, along with enough dissonance, enough noise, to spice things up. Too much technique becomes sterile, wit and attitude will always trump empty virtuosity, and Milton's playing is very witty indeed. In fact, his technique, at close quarters, is all his own and when he gets down to blowing with no hands it's enough to give some jazz snobs palpitations. Which is a good thing.

And what goes for Milton goes for Blurt as a whole (as above, so below, very Hermetic) -tunes, driving rhythms, noise - no indulgence, no flab. It's just what you want.

Hats off, too, for Steve Eagles - a man for whom the word 'laconic' might well have been invented. His guitar work is consistently inventive, challenging and propulsive. Minimal effects but a wealth of tones and textures .... and Dave Aylward really hits those drums. It's perfect for the Blurt sound.
Mr Milton's stage presence, too, is inimicable - theatrical, dangerous, slyly funny, a hint of menace; and one of the great lyricists - you can quote Milton lines all day long and there aren't many you can say that of. He's as close to Max Wall or Charlie Chaplin as he is to your average pop singer; little dance moves, grimaces ... a one off -I've never seen Blurt give a mediocre performance and tonight was no exception. Expressionistic and romantic, and off on a frolic of their own. We'll not see their like again.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Alas, poor Yorick!

The death mask of Laurence Sterne
("Authenticity not verified" ... how very Sternean).

The death mask of Jonathan Swift

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Bloody Groundhog Day

Diary entry for 2nd February, 2008.
Celebrated Joyce's birthday in by now time-honoured fashion.
Went out to celebrate; got pissed on white wine; misquoted Ulysses in slurred tones; insulted two bully beef squaddies who, while I was searching for just that right bon mot, fetched me several blows about the head; staggered home, much the worse for wear. That's another pair of trousers beyond repair.
Can't wait for next year when I get to do it all again.
Joyce looks down from Heaven (he's very good about it, he lets God back on His throne on Sundays), shakes his head, smiles and whispers edjit.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ten Guilty Little Secrets

Responding to the gauntlet insouciantly thrown down by Dominic Zero to confess to "ten records that hide at the back of your collection that no grown man should own" ... oh dear, it was a struggle to get it down to a mere ten.

1)Something Happened On The Way To Heaven - Phil Collins Actually, I put up a post on this very song, 24.1.07 - he may be a Tory-voting shitehawk, but I insist this is a wonderful and poignant little ditty. And the keerazy video, complete with dog shit, is still a kitsch classic.
2)King Of Pain - The Police The dreadful Mr Sumner, sucking up to any passing Amazonian Indian while treating his domestics like shit and indulging in, um, congress with that harpy for ten hours at a time ... what a tosser.
3)Synchronicity II - The Police Fuck me, two Police songs? Oh my God, am I a closet fan and never actually knew it? This was designed to appeal to my deep-seated pseudness, referencing as it does Yeats and Jung.
4)You're A Lady - Peter Skellern The dirty bastard.
5)Candy Girl - New Edition It's a thinly disguised rip-off of 'ABC', and it features Bobby Brown, who is, officially, an utter wanker. Nice little song, though.
6)Chasing Rainbows - Shed Seven Chronic indie under-achievers, with a lead singer more convincingly simian than Ian Brown could ever be. Be afraid, they have reformed.
7)Radio Africa - Latin Quarter The missus was once righteously appalled when I insisted on singing this in a dreadful cod Jamaican accent for the best part of an afternoon. Loudly. And, for a long time, I thought it was by Toto.
8) Hand Held In Black and White - Dollar As with (4), I was dubious about putting this down, coming perilously close as it does to 'guilty pleasure' style kitsch indulgence, but it's a Trevor Horn production and a lush old piece of Spectoresque pop.
9)Friends - Bette Midler Heard this on the soundtrack of The Last Of Sheila, a wonderful little oddity of a movie, written by Anthony Perkins and Stephen Sondheim (the movie, not the song). I even went out and bought a Midler greatest hits album just to get a copy of this song. And I don't care who knows it.
10)Who Made Who - AC/DC Has there been some kind of Led Zep style rehabilitation for AC/DC, or are they forever safely beyond the realms of good taste?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tiny Cinema 5

The pedagogue in me offers major and definitive statement of filmic praxis. We intend to move on all fronts - the Gesamtkunstwerk is the building that must be built.

Diagetic vs non-diagetic - Eisenstein's horror of the merely anecdotal; the re/de/composition of the image/sound gestalt. Filmic space as privileged site. We are non-homogenous. We prefer to move vertically.

Montage is what films are. Films are what montage is. Is montage what films are? Are films what montage is?

No, really.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tiny Cinema 4

... the old movies ...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Tiny Cinema 3