Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Nowhere Man

It occured to me, while reading the comments to my post of 20.12.06 that Kek-W and Doppelganger were really on to something ... and just maybe the whole sorry collection of actions and 'policies' the entity known as Tony Blair has visited like a plague of boils on this country and the rest of the world have actually sprung from a cursory listen to the lyrical 'genius' of Paul McCartney.

Take the plea Blair has made to the rozzers currently investigating the cash for honours scandal:
I've been on the run since the Good Lord knows when,
And the day I die,
I'll still be runnin' then,
Runnin' from the days when I would lay me down and cry.

Baby, won't you let me have a little time to hide.
Baby, won't you let me have a little time to hide.

Or the cry of pain Blair has flung in the face of the British electorate (and which, Lord knows, we can only scream right back at him):
I've had enough
I can't put up with any more
No no no no no no no
I've had enough
I can't put up with any more
No no no no no no no

Or who could forget the declaration of passion for Dubya when dear Tony was caught carving 'Tone Heart George' into the antique oak fittings in Downing St?
I can wait another day until I call you
You've only got my heart on a string
And everything a'flutter
But another lonely night might take forever
We've only got each other to blame
It's all the same to me love
'Cause I know what I feel to be right
No more lonely nights
No more lonely nights
You my guiding light
Day or night I'm always there
May I never miss the thrill of being near you
And if it takes a couple of years
To turn your tears to laughter
I will do what I feel to be right
No more lonely nights (never be another)
No more lonely nights
You my guiding light

Then there is the warning Blair has delivered to the inner circle, advisors and sundry other thieves and scoundrels connected to the cash for honours farrago as they decide to save their own skins and sing like canaries:

Win or lose, sink or swim
One thing is certain we'll never give in
Side by side, hand in hand
We all stand together



Well, I think there's only one appropriate response when faced with Master Blair and all his works ... Help!

86 Comments:

Blogger doppelganger said...

I saw Macca a few years back giving all these interviews, where it was like:
"I was the cool one - I was dropping acid in London, whilst Lennon was playing house with Cynthia and Julian"

The same air of pathetic desperation infects Blairs attempts to retrieve his own 'legacy' from the wreckage of the Blair / Brown partnership.....

7:26 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Yes, McCartney's desperation to pillage the Beatles' legacy ... switching the song writing credits to MacCartney/Lennon, for instance, and the constant release of old shite ... if any of them had sneezed on tape, they would release it these days.
There seems to be a congruence betwwen Blair and Macca ... can't work out if that makes Brown John. Prescot is definitely Ringo, though.

8:58 AM  
Blogger Cocaine Jesus said...

macca is one sad man who has truly fucked up a great legacy of a great band. fashion may swing one way or another but the early beatles were quite amazing. they really did rock.

funny how you both have drawn parallels between new-born-again-under-a-different-but-same-flag-labour and the beatles.
at first the beatles were great as were labour in the first flush of winning the election but both, through spin and corruption, have gone sour.

brown as ringo??

what a fucking insult for poor old ringo! more like mal evans.

9:52 AM  
Blogger kek-w said...

Nah: the Beatles never rocked and that has always been part of their problem...

I always saw them (and their legacy) as an enormous anchor that slowed down the forward movement to late 20th century music...they cast a huge (and unnecessary) shadow over the 70s, in particular, one that even Punk struggled to erase...I always (personally) saw Punk as Anti-Beatles (and their ilk) rather than anti-Prog....

I particularly loved the Anti-Beatles stance/imagery of early Residents...

Love Ringo, tho: "Back Off Boogaloo" is def. the greatest of the post-Beatles solo records. Tho I can't stand Macca (professional fake chummy scouser, etc) I do have a soft spot for "Band on the Run", "Jet", "Live and Let Die"..."C Moon" is pretty cool for one of his nursery rhyme ditties (weren't they all)...never liked fucking Lennon...

12:18 PM  
Blogger kek-w said...

Sorry; meant "of late 20th century..." not "to"....still a bit wobbly w/ post Chicken Pox malaise...

12:19 PM  
Blogger doppelganger said...

Re. Blair / Macca - it's that cheery, thumbs aloft, one of the lads, pressed jeans thing that really does it.....

7:56 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Have to fully concur with Doppelganger ... it's Macca's man of the people act, that thumb thing he has going on that really gets my goat.
I always saw him as a thoroughly nasty piece of work.
I do think that the Beatles legacy hangs over pop music like an enormous stultifying shadow (can a shadow stultify, is that a terribly mixed-up simile?).
I mean, in the new year, we're getting a set of stamps with Beatles album on, why not Bowie or the Pistols?
My ire, though, seems to be more stoked up by those who exploit and manipulate the legacy, rather than the Moptops themselves ... as Warhol used to say about the Velvets, the Factory, the whole of the bloody 60s ..."it was great, but it's over".

Maybe Brown is some schmuck who once made the tea at Abbey Road.

5:18 AM  
Blogger doppelganger said...

Hmmm..... discarding EVERYTHING the Beatles did is surely going too far. Kek's preference for Wings must be some kind of affected deviance surely?
Ok, so large parts of the Lennon / McCartney legacy are over-rated (Sgt Pepper probably - 'Imagine' definitely), but my guitar gently weeps?, gotta get you into my life?, paperback writer? I feel fine?.... c'mon guys.....

2:21 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

You are all onto something here. I congratulate you on your research. It is totally clear, I feel, that Macca and Blair were emptied from the same tin of budget magnolia. If it's not a contradiction, Blair is a gas, for sure. He could have really changed things in this country in 1997, but opted to bend over for the establishment, and take it up the arse like they all do. Macca was - WAS, that is - a great songwriter and a talent youngman. He totally lost it after The Beatles, in my view, because he needed Lennon. Lennon, in contrast, made lots of equally brilliant music after 1970. He didn't need to be murdered in 1980 to be a legend. He had charisma; and he had art. Macca didn't have a clue about either and he never will. He is more in line with, say, Robbie Williams than any icon. He's a celeb. Lennon was an artist.

I think it's an empirical fact that The Beatles were a great band and made a massive contribution to music. I think Brian Wilson did, similarly; as well as Zappa and Beefheart, early Floyd, Hendrix, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell - big 60s/70s dinosaurs, but it's inescapable that they made great strides and lots after owe lots to them.

4:06 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Yes, as I say, I was never a Moptop fan, but it's the Beatles industry that is the target of my ire. Will George Martin not leave it alone?
Fully support Kek's provocative gesture of Wings over the Beatles, a rhetorical procedure I often employ myself.
Blair's attempts at co opting pop culture equally makes me want to throw grenades ... getting twerps like Noel Gallagher and Alan Mcgee to attend a Downing St soiree and making coy little jokes about cocaine ... what a wanker. What a pathetic, mealy-mouthed, hypocritical way of trying to have your cake and eat it.

7:42 AM  
Blogger kek-w said...

"stultifying shadow " works for me...!

"affected deviance": deviance, yeah...affected not...it's a sad fact of life that people always think I'm flaming when I'm not. Ask my wife: she'll tell you these are all long-held convictions that have a half-life outside of gin-fuelled pub-rants...

Not actually a Wings fan (can't stand 'em, actually...just prefer the soft faux-Glam edge of 2 or 3 of their songs over the Beatles back-catalogue....) I'm a big Monkees fan, actually: I love 'em.

I grew up in the 60s, so my Dad actually bought me the Help! 7", the Hard Days Night EP, etc when they came out...(still got them) I was, only what 5 or 6 or summat...Dad also took me to see all the Beatles films at the cinema; I was a big 'fan' til I was, I dunno, 8...then I suddenly couldn't stand them...just went off them/grew out of them or something.

Don't play (what we in the biz call) The White Album card, Dopps...'Cause I don't like the LP and never have done. Someone made a tape of it for me nearly 15 years ago, saying to me, "No, really, if you hear this you'll def. change yr opinion of the Beatles..." (as if I'd never heard The White Album a zillion times before)...guess, what, nada: I played it once (ho hum! still don't like it much) and then taped over it. The only track of the Beatles that I ever (semi) liked as an adult was "I am the Walrus" and even that was ruined by Oasis' half-arsed cover. I like The Fall's cover of "Day in the Life" tho'...

Lennon: "Lennon, in contrast, made lots of equally brilliant music after 1970. " Errrr, okay, I'll take yr word for it. He also recorded "Woman"...if Chapman hadn't shot him, I would've had a pop myself. I think the idea of Lennon as an 'artist'/'auteur' is another of those consensus things that I'll happily kick against...even Macca seems to buy into it, doesn't he...hence his recent existential panic over song-writing credits and the whole "I hung out w/ Stockhausen/Cage/etc before John made tape-loops" schtick...

There's a million, 'better' more interesting, more 'progressive', forward-thinking, freaky, out-there 60s artists/acts than the Beatles (who were, let's face it, bandwagon-jumpers on the whole acid/psych scene...Sgt Pepper was kinda after-the-fact, imho)...what they did do was help various strands of underground music to semi-surface in the mainstream, to which I'm tempted to say 'big deal'...

...but, after all, it's just personal opinions, innit.

Strange tho that I dig so-called Beatles copyists like The Move far more than the original item. I wonder what put me off 'em... maybe I was bitten as a child by a tiny radioactive George Harrison.

7:59 PM  
Blogger doppelganger said...

Nah... I'm pissed - just got back from the pub - I don't buy it.
Lets just go on 'gotta get you inta my life'
OOOOH did I tell you I need you....

Horns....

OOHHH....


I like the bits where Macca lets rip - even on 'Hey Jude' - which I know is syrup on a stick....

But 'gotta get you into my life!"

I was alone, I took a ride, I didn't know what I would find there!'

I did that once....

(Sorry about the 'affected' gibe BTW)

12:20 AM  
Blogger doppelganger said...

Now I'm on Harrison moaning about his fucking tax bill and it still sounds good...

yeah ... yeah... I'm the tax maaaaaannnnn...

Bum...bu...bum...bum... bumm...

12:25 AM  
Blogger doppelganger said...

I agree on the Lennon post-Beatles stuff though....

12:28 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Good to see some heat. Light-wise, though, I think it is - and history says it has to be - a matter of personal opinion to reduce The Beatles thusly. Personally, I have no particular side - and do prefer, say, Pet Sounds to Sgt. P. There are, however, moments and passages of true musical invention and beauty on all of The Beatles albums post and including Rubber Soul. If these don't light your candle, that's fine. There's nothing wrong with swimming against the stream, historically - so long as one knows its all just subjective. I don't 'get' Zappa myself; though I know he's probably brilliant. Lennon did some interesting things via and with Fluxus. Of course, Yoko Ono was likely the brains. The way they (or maybe she) used his fame was smart.

5:24 AM  
Blogger kek-w said...

"Horns...." LOL!

Yeah, 'course it's all subjective...by this point in our lives it's kinda hard-wired into us what tunes/stuff we like...that's why I'd never convince Dopps (pissed or otherwise) about "Taxman" (not that I want to; why should I?) and ditto him convince me about, say, "Jet"...

I do love "Pet Sounds" tho' (why do I like that and not, say, "Revolver"? Go figure...; but it took me into my 30s to 'get' it; so transitions are still possible...(prob. had to shake off some Punk conditioning there)...as much as I dislike (well, not dislike...maybe internally negate The Beatles, I love talking about them...they seem to be so tightly bundled up (for me) w/ notions of childhood, the origins of contempo Pop, etc...

I do like Zappa (tho he released a lot of toss), but I totally get why so many people hate him; there's only certain 'eras' of Zappa that I really like myself...being a Zappa fan is def. like swimming up a waterfall; you 'know' on a conscious level that there are good, strong reasons for not liking some of his stuff, but you can't help yrself....and the more that other people protest, the more you resist...Ben Watson beautifully sums up the Zappa quasi-intellectual fanboy position in "The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play"...

I was interested in the 'fakeness' of Macca angle (cf w/ Blair) and the idea that you thought he might be a nasty piece of work...it's a vibe I've had for some time too...that extraordinary incident where he turned up pissed late at night at that David Blaine 'event' and started shouting at the pressmen there and calling them cunts....then his response to this incident was to sack his long-suffering press-guy Geoff (as if it was his fault for not managing the press, rather than Macca's for letting the false face slide)...surely the 'in character' chummy scouse response would've been to put his hands up and said "sorry, lads, I was a bit pissed last night. No hard fellings, eh?" (subtext being that he was an 'ordinary' working-class scouse bloke, etc....)

10:22 AM  
Blogger doppelganger said...

hmmm... whilst probably inevitable, it doesn't feel satisfactory to reduce this all down to some kind of aesthetic relativity.
My point, and I've got a hangover mind, is that, if there's some kind of narrative we're gonna call pop music, removing the Beatles from the centre of it - discarding their work as invalid or without worth - leaves us with a challenging task of dexterity in holding the rest of it together...

Now Kek, as is his right and inclination, I guess doesn't start with the centre, but at the edges. A challenge to conventional pieties, a counterfactual hypothesis - and nothing wrong with that - it's one of the reasons I guess I read his blog and not Q magazine - but even his view of punk as the antithesis to the Beatles' thesis, relies on something being there to kick your doc Martins against. (and pretty soon Beatlesque whimsies like melody and good songwriting resurface in the synthesis anyway).

In short, I'm not sure how you can kick 'em out of the story and still reach an endpoint where you like popmusic... (as I know Kek does)

Admittedly, I think they're more open to doubters cos they were traditionally the cerebral, melodic, art-school ponce counterparts to the sex, drugs and pheremones of the Stones.

(I've been disappointed by the net reaction to the death of JB - small and mean and concentrating on his criminal record, rather than his musical one - I can't understand people who don't like JB - it doesn't feel like they possess the same nervous system as I do - and again, I can't see how he can be left out of the picture by those claiming an affection for pop music)

Anyway, Mr Antony - only just found your blog, and you appear to be a fan of a range of authors I take on holiday every year and never finish, but its been fun over here so far - good stuff

I hope Kek comes back on this (and Jesus and Dr Donovan) - haven't had this much fun since we fell out of over 50's Batman!

10:26 AM  
Blogger doppelganger said...

Sorry 'bout the slightly disjointed response Kek - guess we were composing side by side and you hit the post button first...!

10:29 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Coming in late to the party as the laptop has been knackered all day.

Yes, have long been suspicious of Macca ... always thought, watching Let It Be that he was the nasty one. Hasn't he just spent a fortune on tapes Linda made? or am I getting into tabloid territory. Didn't buy George's peace 'n' love vibe either.
Molly and me were sitting here pissing ourselves over the 'I would've had a pop myself' bit.
I must say I was guilty of a pop at JB myself ... mea culpa! Of course, J.B. changed music far more than the Beatles ... think I was annoyed by Jesse Jackson's piety. Can't resist a quip, it's ruined my life.
I have a long running riff that I always spring on Beatles heads ... Dylan, the Beatles and the Stones were all hanging around the Factory in the mid 60s, where they all saw a new band called The VelVet Underground ... it was then that they all realised they had to raise their game.
It never goes down well with them.
Yeah, the Monkees ... much more my cup of tea. Or was that the Ruttles?

4:55 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

I agree Doplgr. It might be a process of betting and trying with one's likes and dislikes, and that is a pretty shapeless and pretty meaningless activity. Democratically, one can only say - yeh, like what you will, despise what you want to, we're all allowed that. It gets us nowhere re. the bigger and more interesting picture, however. I personally think and believe there ismore science, more objectivity, involved. One can ignore or deny this, of course. But there's more maths involved; and I'm fine with the canonical approach myself. That's what I meant by saying I don't favour Zappa, but I still think he ois good. That is, my taste says one thing, historical materialism - facts, that is - say another. Rather than using my taste as a final and inalienable judgement, I personally feel there are just good things and bad things and the shades in between a fortiori (if you will) - that is they are thus regardless of my taste. This is an unpopular idea, I have found. It seems deterministic, and it is. But just saying I don't like, say, Beckett so he is shite is a less than satisfying pursuit, intellectually, I feel. So it is with The Beatles. As you say, talk them out of the pop equation, what do you have? I think Howard Goodall's recent tv series made an irresistible case for the validity of The Beatles.

Is liking 'Jet' over, say, 'Rocky Raccoon' not a case of deciding to champion the underdog, as a piece of mischief - as, as you say, '...[a] challenge to conventional pieties, a counterfactual hypothesis...'? It's a free world, etc. - but it seems a limited device in a conversation about historical fact.

It does feel good somehow to intervene with something like 'The Beatles were actually shite'. But isn't that polemic, even invective, rather than an observation which might shed light on something? You're right, though, that I'd rather hear that kind of thing than the arse-licking prose of Q Mag etc. We are caught between the two senses it seems to me. Hey, that's dialectics.

5:19 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Monkees - fantastic. No irony - as I've said lots of previous blogged times. I love 'Head', too. Great pop songs.

5:21 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Yes, I imagine Macca hates it when the mask drops.
Have to say Head is better than any of the Beatles films.
If only they had had the good sense, and the guts, to go with Orton's screenplay.
Vis a vis my favourite authors ... I have very definite perfumed ponce characteristics, and they're becoming more pronounced ... I even, shameful as it sounds, prefer Zappa's classical stuff to the Mothers et al ... I am, I fear, a hopeless case.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

That brand of supposed hopelessness is, at least, a kind of final destination, a location. I have such subtractive tendencies myself; and it seems natural and fine to be so as one gets older. Nice idea to have a handful of manageable and easily-countable verities, I think. On the other hand, I tend toward eclecticism and variety, and being less religious in my affinity to one or other thing.

Yours, as ever,
Happily-Confused,
Northampton UK

7:26 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Visually, the Beatles films have a steely monochrome quality which I like. They are in-keeping with Brit film of the time. Nothing special. Farce. Romps. Chases. 'Head' is far more off-the-rails, dangerous - even than the later Beatles films. The Monkees play with their plasticity, and make cutting points about it in relation to all that war imagery. Head is just more art than The Beatles things. Yeh, would've been good if they had had the wherewithall to use Orton; or had some of that 'Bed-Sitting Room' or 'How I won the War' going on. (Lennon was in the latter, of course.)

7:32 PM  
Blogger kek-w said...

Anthony - sorry to turn yr comments box into a 2am gathering in the kitchen at a party when everyone else is dancing in the living-room...

Dopps - I love yr (panicky-sounding) visual metaphor with the entire infrastructure of Pop threatening to collapse without The Beatles shoring it up...I keep seeing a line of spinning plates threatening to wobble out of control unless George Harrison steps in and lends a hand...

"In short, I'm not sure how you can kick 'em out of the story and still reach an endpoint where you like popmusic... " Here's an alternative metaphor: imagine the history of Pop (or whathaveyou) as a topological map of the London Underground...The Beatles are represented by a cluster of stations, or by part of a line; if you remove them from the picture, then you can still get from A to B, but you may have to change once or twice or maybe zigzag across the map slightly...but you can still get to your final destination...

Imagine The Beatles as a shortcut from Little Richard, Black RnB/Pop/Tamla (James Brown!) to a white mainstream...ditto: the mid-sixties psychedelic underground...The Beatles adapted/adopted tropes from those scenes...watered them down/sanatised them/made them more acceptable...but, without The Beatles, that journey can still be made, but the route would be slightly different...if the Beatles didn't exist (sorry, still not well enuff at the moment to expend the energy exploring that parallel universe to the degree it merits), the map would look slightly different, but most of the stops on it would be the same...the London above the Underground would certainly be no different...

Basically: if they hadn't done it, then someone else would have...yeah? they had fellow travellers in The Stones, Kinks, Small Faces: those guys would have shouldered more of the burden; maybe Steve Marriot (or Steve Winwood) would've ended up a bigger star, etc (or Brian Jones might've formed another band)...who can say for sure... the point is: that the framework of Pop would probably not look that much more different...tho we could argue that one for a few hours in the pub...

What I think I'm sensing from you (prob. wrong) is a sort of vague existential 'horror' that if The Beatles didn't exist, then their back-catalogue also wouldn't exist, which includes a lot of songs that you clearly adore...I'm prob wide of the mark, but maybe it's a percieved threat to the stability of the phenomenological microverse that surrounds you, to your own personal myth-space, etc...I'm, er, getting a similar sense of unease this week about the fact that they're talking about closing down the chain of Little Chef roadside cafes...

But, anyway, I'm not denying (can you be a Beatles Deny-er in the same way you can be a Holocaust Deny-er...?) or negating the Beatles 'importance' in shared Consensual Myth-Space, but their importance is extremely diminshed (unconsciously auto-negated) in my own innerverse...no doubt a therapist might be able to wiggle that out of me, but maybe I just got bored with them...I confess I don't find them either transcendental enough, or moving, or entertaining, or funny, or funky, or anything, really...there was a horrible void where the Beatles used to be, tho it's filled up with lots of other (subjectively 'better') things...

Hyperbloatational Pop Theory says that because the Beatles were the biggest thing in Western Pop then we are more familiar with their back-catalogue (even the b-sides and the less well known songs in their canon), so their tunes are more likely to take more of a personal resonance because (statistically) more people are more likely to have gone shopping, dancing, eating, shagging with various Beatles songs as their soundtrack...therefore, to diminish (or diss) the Beatles in some way is to diminish the personal experiences/sensual choices/etc of all those millions of individuals...perhaps, that's why The Beatles are such a prickly subject...I think I mentioned before that someone (a well-educated, sober middle-aged guy) once asked me outside for a fight (at work!) because I casually mentioned I preferred The Monkees to The Beatles...so, yeah, a tricky topic for some, but I can see why...

Yeah, I totally dig JB (I love funk!) and Maceo, and Wesley and Bobby Byrd...tho some songs have lost their shine a little because of over-exposure...but I totally think his mean-spiritedness, stingyness, vanity, misogeny, etc is actually part of the equation of who he was (a black capitalist! Let's play whitey at his own game...unfortunately, tho, that was partially at the expense of his fellow black musicians)...the music has a rigidity and tension that comes from, I think, his inner uptightness, as much as the springfootedness of his backing-band...now here's a weird thing...being a rural white boy, I discovered Parliament/Funkadelic in the mid/late-70s thru (of all people) Frank Zappa, 'cause his 72-74 band had some really funky pleyers in it like George Duke, the Fowler brothers, etc, so I came at it from that (strange) angle...I saw Parliament (totally wrongly) as a sort of balck Mothers of Invention (I had no conception what funk was!)....I adored Bootsy Collins (named my cat after him!), so got into JB, etc after I discovered Parliament, Bootsy et al. Also got into Johnny Guitar Watson's late 70s funk albums via FZ...which is the wrong way to do all this stuff...but, see, a beatles-less universe is nothing to be frightened of...

Okay, gotta go,,,energy levels flagging...

(Must talk to you sometime about 50s/early 60s Batman again, as I see Morrison has adopted some of those themes in his current run...incl. something I mentioned in my post about the relationship between Wayne and Batman...so I don't think I was wide of the mark...still, finding the run strangely average: I think Andy Kubert's art is letting it down a bit, maybe...)

8:00 PM  
Blogger kek-w said...

PS: yeah, Head is fabulous; one of my faves...plays around with notions of fame/celebrity, reality, time, etc...

8:04 PM  
Blogger doppelganger said...

Just finished dancing in the kitchen myself - yeah, there's an air of quiet desperation about the whole 'lets make Bats fun again Morrison thing' - but more on the Beatles tomorrow I guess.....

Happy New year Folks....

1:21 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

I am, always, found in the kitchen at parties, stroking my chin.
Like the underground map analogy ... there is always a way of getting around the system, even when a major staion is closed, blown up, never existed. Yes, if the Moptops hadn't existed would someone else have done it? Probably ... I'd put my money on my beloved Velvets (though I'm guessing it would have taken some Brits, really) though, admittedly, Loopy Lou was a Beatles fan and there is a suggestion of a Fab Four influence on the Bananana Album
The Beatles' genius, like Elvis, was in synthesising a set of elements nobody had combined before ... the elements were there, floating around, so maybe someone, eventually, would have had a eureka moment.
It is one of the great questions, what would pop have been like without the Beatles?
With reference to James Brown ... love the music, love avant-jazz, funk, Afro-pop, Arabic musics, like to think I'm down with the bros, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I am resolutely unfunky ... which probably connects to the afore-mentioned perfumed ponce tendencies
(saw in the new year in bed with a good book).
I was led into funk by listening to James Chance ... had been a Velvets/Roxy/punk/Neu! type of bloke before. Rhythmically, lean more towards the autistic, motorik beat favoured by Moe Tucker and Klaus Dinger. See, just aint funky.

8:03 AM  
Blogger doppelganger said...

Woke up thinking 'bout this - first thoughts of '07.
I seem, by expressing a subjective liking for the Beatles to have wandered into a position where I, alongside Q magazine, have become the guardian of some kind of leavisite musical canon. This consensual authenticity is contrasted and undermined by Kek's approach, which is about absence and digression - that brilliantly circuitous route to James Brown - burrowing in from the edges via Fairlop or Ealing, with the circle line missing entirely...Combined with a bit of counterfactual anti-history (Beatles - denyer? Brian Jones in his own band? brilliant.... absolute gems - I'm saving them for my own blog and getting Stephanie Zen and the Evil God of Fier on the case).
But, in keeping with the usual approach, we need to look at the psychodynamics. I'm happy to accept the Beatles as 'refuge' model. An unbroken paternal, oedipal bond - yeah maybe I should just grow up - why do I buy Batman comics every month? They've not excited or inspired me for years... because he's part of my cultural firmament and always will be, and one day, just one day, maybe he'll lift the mask and they'll have put Daniel Craig under there.
But I wonder if Kek is prepared to accept that my 'refuge' might be his 'posture'? Are there shreds of the old punk 'never trust a hippy' adage in there? A bit of oedipal bovver-booting ? I never wanted to go on the circle line anyway - its shit and crowded and boring and everyone uses it. Send me out to Hainault past the cement works.....

I wonder if you might find your way BACK to the Beatles that way?

(just as a thought, what did you think of the Grey Album Kek?)

9:51 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

That is hitting the proverbial nail ... Beatles as Oedipal drag on pop history, one always has to kill the father ... it's the only way to inscribe yourself into history, language, etc. (descends here into Lacanian gibbering).
Yes, the year zero approach of punk is written into my pop DNA.
Yes, the great alternative history ... maybe P.K. Dick should have got round to writing it. Brian Jones gets his own band, Syd Barrett never loses it, Lou Reed doesn't shoot his own foot clean off by kicking Cale out of the Velvets, Ferry doesn't boot Eno out of Roxy, Ian Curtis gets therapy ...

11:21 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Or did I mean Ian Curtis gets into Therapy?
Could go on and on ... what if Buddy Holly had been scared of flying? What if Little Richard had been straight? What if Sid had learnt to play bass? What if Hilda Baker had made more records? What if Michael Jackson had formed a full, working relationship with an adult human being? (Nah, some things are just too unlikely/unimaginable/fantastic to contemplate).

11:31 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

One alt-style history is Greil Marcus' 'Lipstick Traces'. It's charmingly overwrought and hysterical, but feeds that polemic urge in pleasing ways.

What ifs are a necessary intellectual pursuit, in my view. It might be nonsense hermeneutically to omit The Beatles, but it can be worthwhile in clearing the way for seeing other disregarded or obscured perspectives. The Beatles feel corporate, an edifice, I suppose; and that Punk year zero iconoclasm makes for interesting writing, and sometimes it is good both for the soul and for facticity to be somewhat unhindged in one's thinking. Forgive the academic's bottom-lining, though, but I think and am ok with the often pretty unglamorous and unexciting nature and feeling of the facts as they actually are. There is resaearch and there is journalism.

As you say, Doplgngr, '...I seem, by expressing a subjective liking for the Beatles to have wandered into a position where I, alongside Q magazine, have become the guardian of some kind of leavisite musical canon...'. No real shame in that, in my view. Plus, I think it is always a matter of the two positions - say, subject and object - banging heads. The Beatles are an historical object. Stuff about them can be negotiated, but lots of what they were, are, and represent is just as is. Ontology is ontology.

To use the Underground analogy, as a consumer, one can simply avoid The Beatles, and anyone else, by not getting off at their station or by taking a different route. Outside of that, though - in terms of history, and with a notion of and commitment to intellectual discourse on the table - one kind of has to get off at The Beatles stop, make observations of what is simply there, report back, and accept the facts as they are.

They might be The Circle Line - full of ratified and corporate tourist locations, somewhat pat, over-discussed, and obscuring in so being. But are we wanting to defy, or deny, them for meaningful reasons? Do we use those other routes to look more sussed, dangerous, controversial? If so, why?

12:14 PM  
Blogger doppelganger said...

to deny the father... to make space for our own ego integrity... to mutate and survive....

which still leads me back to the grey album....

12:31 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Having lived, until a year or so ago, in New Cross for a decade, I'll take the East London Line ... small, often scheduled to be closed down, full of leaking bridges and tunnels, delivers you to Whitechapel ... umm, who the hell would that be in pop terms?

I always tend to ignore ontologies in favour of epistemologies, which would allow me to gracefully skate past the Beatles.

The Grey Album is an interesting case in point ... surely a way of negotiating, of finding a way around the edifice without denying it is there?

1:00 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Nice one! Analogies-r-us it seems. The problem with analogies as I see it, though, is that they are only useful so far. Completing or elaborating upon the analogy tends to create other senses, not neccesarily connected to or illuminating of the original departure point. It's a seductive pursuit; and I'm all for a bit of ease. Personally, I've never been a Circle Line kind of person. But that's about me; nothing to do with the Circle Line itself. Academically speaking, it's existence must simply be noted; its attributes and features are physical in substance not items to be brought into and out of existence by opnion. Matters of ontology are, I feel, unavoidable - if one wants to remain, er, on track.

1:18 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

And the trouble with the Circle Line is that it keeps bringing you back to where you started ... arf arf.

Oedipal bovver booting sounds alright.

3:58 PM  
Blogger doppelganger said...

Heh.... you see that Paul McCartney? ....

that's your dad that is.....

7:44 PM  
Blogger kek-w said...

Meanwhile back on Dr. Doppelganger's couch: yeah, the Oedipal theory sounds plausible...killing the beatles = killing yr father...

The childhood Beatles encounters do seem somehow wrapped up w/ my father...but the theory still doesn't quite 100% fit: such as the fact that I've embraced a whole bunch of stuff that I closely identify with my dad like Louie Armstrong, Spike Jones, etc...and there's a load of other shared stuff we did that I feel extremely warm about and feel no need to negate/deny...I'm sure some therapy would tease it out, but I don't wanna bore you and Anthony w/ my own navel-gazing...

Also: some other 'blank' unpopulated/depopulated areas in my personal London Underground map (besides The Beatles): Merseybeat/UK Beat Boom in general, 'classic' Tamla Motown, vast swathes of Stax/classic RnB/Soul (a lot of which I just don't find soulful or funky; it just sounds so dull and immobile; hollow gestures...)...and (uh-ho!)apart from maybe one LP and a cluster of songs here and there, The Rolling Stones are mostly a void to me...Disinterested in the Muddy Waters variety of Blues too...tho give me a crackly old 78 from 1932 and I'm transported...

It's weird: thinking about it...I think I'm just disinterested in this stuff; dislike or hate is maybe too strong a word...

Plus a whole bunch of stuff that I have come to dislike intensely: R.E.M., U2, Weller/The Jam, 2-Tone, blahblahblah....

Funny you should mention The Grey Album: my friend Circle got me wrecked in the summer and played it...yeah, I like it (from what I can remember)...hmmmmm...curious...

Yeah, I got into James Chance/White a little bit after I got into JB: the two seemed to wonderfully contradict but also amplify each other like a pair of anti-matter bookends...then I discovered James Blood Ulmer, and then Ornette roughly around the same time...like discovering a couple of new bits of the london underground that overlap or cross-over each other...

8:18 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Kek, the blank spots on the your map sound eerily familiar ... I've never been able to get the majority of Motown, Stax and classic soul in general, most of the usual 'top 100 albums ever' leave me cold, love dub but can't stand reggae, much 'real' blues leave me cold but 30s stuff is great (I blame Robert Crumb for that), absolutely hate the Jam and everything else Weller did, ditto U2 ...
I love certain areas of jazz ... Ornette Coleman is God, Albert Ayler a genius, later Coltrane sublime.
I have a real love for British pop soul from the 60s and 70s, stuff totally unregarded by the taste masters ... like that old song 'Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel'(I think this was British). Were Tavares Brits? Liked a couple of their singles, Gofd help me. This is not an example of the 'guilty pleasures' syndrome, I just like the way they sound.

The way James Chance upended and customised James Brown's (and Ornette's) music is fascinating, particularly the way he took the generally positive vibe of funk and replaced with a furious but very funny nihilism and negation.

7:05 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Here, wish Macca was my dad ... would still disregard his music but would hope to cop a slice of the profits thereof.

7:07 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Can I just throw in another Macca disruptive? As a bassplayer myself - Macca, great bassplayer at times. (Picking another from the same era) he wasn't John Entwistle, of course; but then Macca was more than a bassplayer in his particular group, dividing his attentions and his activities more ways than Entwistle did in The Who. Macca most often used a plectrum - and one can hear that influence on the early Chris Squire ; who, like Entwistle, took the bass in new directions during the 70s, and is one of the big bass influences in rock. The later Macca, like Squire, used at Rickenbacker 4001. Macca was so musical, and, at times, damned odd, in his playing - the former quality is likely a product of his being a singer, the latter is pure invention at times. Macca's good 'feature' basslines are, in essence, kind of conceptual, kind of theatrical; like set-pieces in their own right. Squire certainly took this much further, but it was a development on his part, not invention as such.

As The Beatles have been charged with obscuring the early history of pop, so too does Macca's role as singer-songwriter obscure his attributes as a musician.

8:55 AM  
Blogger Cocaine Jesus said...

frankly chaps i find it all excruciatingly sad to see people droning on about the beatles still.

for fucks sake they broke up late '69. stop talking about them. all you are doing is underlining their overplayed legend.

like it or not they are up their with mozart and miles.
xxx

11:20 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

I think the reason the Beatles are still a topic of conversation is the fact that they won't go away, damn them ... new albums, reissues, remixed old ones, the list never stops growing.
It seems the past, in pop music terms, is threatening to burn up the future ... but that's probably the way with any medium.

1:03 PM  
Blogger kek-w said...

Yeah, first thing I see in the paper today is that The Beatles are close to signing w/ i-Tunes...

(after all that on-off litigation between Apple and, er, Apple...starting to look like a courtship dance of some sort...)

4:49 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

See? The fuckers are still with us.
Someone at I-Tunes is probably thinking "we gotta sign this hip young band The Beatles".

8:47 AM  
Blogger Cocaine Jesus said...

oh for christ sakes.


god bless beefheart!

;)

11:22 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

I've said it before, but where is Beatle band?

11:32 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

'Droning'...? Personally, think Kek and Doppelganger have made some very interesting points, CJ! And, at 40 odd comments, this posting is a numerical comments personal best for our good friend, St. Anthony! Double-plus-good.

Anyone seen Fred Frith's dvd, 'Step Across the Border'? Fucking amazing.

9:17 PM  
Blogger kek-w said...

Tavares: yeah, they're cool...

Tavares and Albert Ayler: dig 'em both. I used to like The Stylistics too: "Rock n Roll Baby" is just plain weird...like a Lawrence/Denim fake novelty record...

"Feel the Need in me" by The Detroit Emeralds. I have a soft spot for some Philly & Detroit 70s stuff; dunno why, when so much 'soul' leaves me cold...

Haven't seen the Fred Frith DVD, but I've had a vinyl of his 1st "Guitar Solos" LP in my colection for nearly 30 years now...loved Henry Cow.

12:24 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Someone at I-tunes probably thinks they could clean up with the Artic Monkeys 'demographic' ... Yes, the Philly sound, I like that stuff ... means much more to me than Motown.
A combination of Tavares and Ayler, that would be good ... or maybe Mr Chance/White can be said to have done it already.
I got a copy of the Frith DVD, firstly because Ted Milton is lurking somewhere in the film ... he's all but invisible, but it's an interesting look at Frith and his methodologies and philosophies.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

The Fred Frith film is wonderful, I think. He just ouzes musicality - constantly. He seems free. I got that feeling too watching a film about, R.B. Kitaj - the painter, a favourite of mine.

Elements of 'true' soul music, I like. But my tastes are very white/Western.

9:05 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Yeah, I like a lot of non-Western musics but also feel much at home with white musics ... and like 'black' music filtered through white sensibilities, like Chance's spastic funk.
God knows what that says about me.

12:22 PM  
Blogger kek-w said...

"A combination of Tavares and Ayler..." LOL! You just blew my mind... :-)

12:22 PM  
Blogger kek-w said...

"...and like 'black' music filtered through white sensibilities"....did you ever like Defunkt with Joe Bowie?

I liked the early Material stuff (Bill Laswell) from the late 70s...the first few EPs and the 1st LP in particular...they fused downtown NY white art-rock w/ funk and electronics...Fred Frith plays on the first LP, I think. I'm guessing you prob. love some of the NY No-Wave stuff too, for its angularity and spasticness...

12:26 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Kek: re. No-Wave, I connect that term to Glenn Branca, who I do know and like. Material were great. From them, I personally get to the great Talking Heads albums: Fear of Music and Remain in Light. That's about as World Music as I get. But I love Jazz - though the less Jazz varieties best.

12:56 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Yes, I used to have a lot of Defunkt stuff on vinyl, must get round to replacing it in some digital format.
Material were wonderful ... and oh my God, No Wave ... really liked No Wave. Every song sounded like it consisted of nothing but middle eights ... marvellous. The Contortions, of course, but also DNA and the Rhys Chatham and Glenn Branca stuff.

12:57 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Rhys Chatham has stuff on myspace. Sure he's one of my esoterian24skidoo friends. Didn't realise he was No-Wave.

1:56 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

The interesting thing about the rubric 'No Wave' is the lack of a definable sound/style ... Chatham and Branca's walls of sound were quite unlike the spidery scrawl favoured by DNA, for example ... each as unlike Chance's music or Teenage Jesus' noise.
Arto Lindsay is another very interesting character.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

New to me. Branca's guitar army things I know. I have a dvd of that stuff - sounds like King Crimson at times. I heard a piece by him on Stuart Marconi's 6Music show - Overture No.10 or som such like. From that, got the dvd - from Sister Ray in London. You must know that shop...? Amazing place.

6:31 PM  
Blogger kek-w said...

Yeah, Rhys Chatham and Glenn Branca both hit a spot for me...they were a sort of meeting-point for the NY Loft/Drone/Modern Composition crew and straight-up Rock/Punk...yeah, they're not spidery/angular like much of the No Wave stuff: wonder if there's a linkage between that raw, edgy, choppy, hyperventilating stuff and certain drugs of choice...? Almost certainly...

It sounds like music made by people cranked-up on uppers (or strung out and getting The Fear...)...

whereas Chatham and Branca have more, I dunno, volume/mass/bombast about them...more of a sense of trancendance, maybe...

7:02 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Yes, there's definitely a case to be made for drug-choice influencing musical choices/compositional strategies ... someone(can't remember who) once claimed the difference in 60s and 70s rock was the shift from uppers to downers ... well made point vis a vis Lou Reed, actually.
I like the way Chatham and Branca use these phantom chords, great ringing noises coming out of nowhere ... wish more so-called modern classical composers took this stuff on board.

7:25 PM  
Blogger kek-w said...

"great ringing noises "...yeah, false chords/phantom sounds made from micro-harmonics; sounds going in and out of pahse w/ each other...

8:05 PM  
Blogger kek-w said...

Yeah, there was also a def. change in West Coast sound in early/mid 70s as more musicians turned to cocaine as their drug of choice...

8:08 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Again, I come back to Frith's works of a classical nature. He's up there with Scott Walker for me.

12:14 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Micro-harmonics ... that's the idea I was looking for vis a vis Branca and Chatham. Wish more composers used great loud guitars. I haven't heard any of Frith's classical stuff, must check it out.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Micro-Harmonics, guitar-wise - am reminded of Husker Du, and better still of Killing Joke's Geordie Walker. So many gtrists get it wrong - loud, and lose all the overtones and harmony, in a fuzzy mush.

Not sure Frith did 'straight' classical, but he worked with orchestral instruments and settings. There are some bits on the film.

10:01 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Some of Bob Mould's guitar work very interesting ... rather lost sight of him in recent years.
Yes, volume isn't always called for ... remember Lou Reed saying that high energy doesn't necessarily mean loud or fast ... witness the Velvets' third album.
Or witness most of 'White Light, White 'Heat' to blow his own argument out of the water.

3:57 PM  
Blogger kek-w said...

More micro-harmonics: Sonic Youth and assorted side-projects...

3:58 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Jesus and Mary Chain; and, godamit, Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins - overtones-r-us.

Anyone heard Talk Talk albums, 'Spirit of Eden' and 'Laughing Stock'? Or Bark Psychosis? Or Dif Juz? Or Kitchens of Distinction? All overtone-types.

6:18 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Kitchens Of Distinction were a good band ... never got the recognition they deserved, really.
Saw a great double bill of Sonic Youth and The Jesus and Mary Chain years ago. Brixton, was it? Very good it was.

7:05 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Talk Talk LPs recommended. Almost improv, loose, semi-rural, drums with brushes, but with edge. Mark Hollis (singer) solo stuff good too. Bark Psychosis good, too; jazzish, proggish, but postrock prob. Dif Juz were on that 4AD 'Lonely is an Eyesore' comp in the 80s. Saw them supporting C Twins at Liverpool Royal Court, 1985, I think. Fucking amazing. Got to wonder what these people are doing now. Have we wafled about this before?

8:59 PM  
Blogger kek-w said...

Bark Psychosis: well, Graham Sutton went on and recorded progressive Drum n Bass in the 90s as Boymerang (don't laugh, some of it was pretty good) before, I think, fairly recently reforming Bark Pyschosis in some form or other because he, quite rightly, identified that that the zeitgeist was favouring some form of psychedelic noise once again (rebranding it from shoe-gazing)...

1:27 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Molly was a big Cocteau Twins aficianado ... I like the way Talk Talk's Hollis turned away from the pop career being offered him.
Didn't know Bark Psychosis had got back together ... which answers at least one question about what people are doing now.
Where do they go, these people?

7:01 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Kek - yeh, I have the Boymerang stuff, and it is good; though it is a bit posh loft flat, Ikea furniture, olive bar for me. He's an interesting musician. Yeh, I knew BS where back together. A friend isa big fan; and I get rips of all that stuff.

The guitarist in KoD was very good - original. Amazing sound. I know exactly how he gets that noise, as I have the same devices; but it's still impressive, and he uses it well. That with the songwriting quality made for a good band. I love 'Aspray' and 'Drive That Fast', from 'Strange Free World'. Good words, too.

Godspeed You Black Emperor! (or is it 'Emporer'? Can never remember) (Canada) are in the same area; as are Jaga Jazzist (Norway), to an extent: heart-rending tunes, beauty. Slint, too - interesting.

Should check out 'No Motion' by Dif Juz, though - from that 'Lonely is an Eyesore' LP.

4:14 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Have to confess that posh loft/Ikea drum'n'bass type stuff sounds right up my back alley.
Like a lot of Godspeed stuff, too.
I like chin-stroking stuff with savage interludes ... a description I might copyright.

7:41 PM  
Blogger kek-w said...

Yeah, the Boymerang stuff was at the 'progressive'/'intelligent' slightly coffee-table-ish end of the D n B spectrum, but I think he did it fairly well...

Godspeed are cool; I really like Jaga Jazzist...I've got a handful of their records, but the last LP was really great; they really rocked out (in a Henry Cow post-Prog sort of way (ah, back to Fred Frith again)), so hence shortened name to Jaga (as this was their least Jazz-y LP)...

8:52 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Yes, Jaga's 'What We Must' is fantastic. I heard in HMV in Belfast, in 2005 - over there playing a gig, actually. I walked in as, I think, the first track, 'All I know is Tonight' was starting. I thought - ohhh I like this. I couldn't believe it as fantastic track after fantastic track came on. I bought the album there and then. Great music in record shops sounds even greater, I always think. Same thing re. Smog in Paris, and Boards of Canada in Birmingham. Bought each there and then. When we first moved to Northampton, and whilst I was doing up the house, What We must was all I could find of my CDs. So I played it over and over for about 2 weeks, punctuated only by Radio 4 - so it must have legs! Everyone - Annie and the kids - loves the album; probably because they heard it so much, though! It has real passion; beautiful chords; jazz but not too jazz; bit Zappa-Classical at times, too. I have everything by Godspeed. Wonderful band. Good description, too, Anthony. That guy ranting, then heart-rending tunes. The stuff around them - on the Constellation and Kranky labels - is all amazing: Set Fire to Flames, Fly Pan Am, A Silver Mount Zion... in fact got Set Fire to Flames CD same time as Smog one, in Paris, for same reason.

12:39 AM  
Blogger kek-w said...

Yeah, "What We must" is a wonderful, wonderful album...

here.

12:05 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

'What We Must', eh? I shall have to check it out ... followed the Kek link above, too, and it sounds right up my back pass ...no, no , I must stop that terrible joke. Do like the sound of the album, though ... have a huge affection for Van Der Graaf and the Cantebury scene ... shall have to put it on the shopping list.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Anthony, I'll burn it for you and pass it along. No prob. Or I could email it as mp3s. Any pref?

VDGG - brilliant. Saw them on last tour, at the wonderful Philharmonic Hall, in Liverpool. They were amazing. Very powerful. And they meant it, too. The CD is ok, too; not great, but good enough, I think.

7:17 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Oh, Van Der Graaf ... excellent stuff. One of the central planks in my 'posh blokes that rock' thesis. I should have got off my arse to see them, but something got in the way. Too busy? A previous engagement? Or, far more likely, sheer inertia?
Yes, I like the CD ... good to have them back (and Hammill alive and kicking); very interested in David Jackson, as player and thinker ... he's got some good ideas about technology and pedagogy.
My preference, he said cheekily, would be for a physical object ... always have problems with MP3s, either can't open them or balls it up afterwards ... I have a fractious relationship with technology.

7:14 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Jackson - yes, underrated, I think. We had good seats, too - 20 feet maybe from the band.

I'll post Jaga to you, no prob.

8:12 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Thanks for that ... I have just about mastered putting a CD in a player, but that's about it.

8:07 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

On its way.

9:21 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

CD received and much thanks ...
Immediate favourites seem to be 'For All You Happy People' and 'I Have A Ghost, Now What?' ... we shall see how it develops, but like the album a lot. Good stuff, it's always interesting to discover something new.
Thanks again.

7:56 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

You're welcome. Glad it hit the spot.

1:21 AM  

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