Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Sphinx and Mona Lisa, Lolita and Guernica ...




Tired of the tango? Fed up with fandango? Why not take a trip to future past and clean out your synapses with some of the sharpest pop music ever made? I give you Roxy Music - a love song about a blow-up doll that could have been written by J.G. Ballard ( "I blew up your body/But you blew my mind"); a new dance that promises "A danceable solution/To teenage revolution"; ten minute free jazz and Krautrock workouts; hypersmart hit singles ... this band had an almost indecent array of talents. Some fool once wrote that The Doors were the first rock band that could read and write ... so, so wrong. If The Velvet Underground were the first such band, Roxy were certainly the second. I had an older brother, a Bowie obsessive, with a sideline in Roxy and Reed ... this stuff turned my head around and upside down at a young age. There's a picture of Bryan Ferry in his late teens, white suit and quiff ... this is the mid 60s; his heroes were Otis Redding and Marcel Duchamp (subsequent song and album titles would reference Duchamp and Richard Hamilton, among others). While Bowie was still a bepermed hippy troubadour, all flared denim and acne, Ferry was immaculate ... indeed Roxy were formulating their unique sound while Bowie was still bothering with sad folk and Tin Pan Alley ... it's too damn easy to take Roxy for granted these days ... they were, at the time, the best thing I'd ever seen or heard. Ferry, the ringmaster and song writer; Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay, guitars and saxophones,experimental music buffs; Eno, the conceptualist and technician.
When I was young, being the sax player with Roxy Music seemed the best job in the world ... you got to sport a green quiff and were paid to wear fabulous clothes and duckwalk on stage, you got to hang out with Bowie and Mott The Hoople and beautiful women ... your life was unimaginably glamourous, witty and amusing.
Noel Coward and Terry Riley jamming with The Velvet Underground; music as hard as anything being produced by the heavy rockers; 20s and 30s crooning, doo wop and 50s rock'n'roll, prog and art rock; avant classical and glam pop; literate, arch, multi-layered lyrics and complex arrangements ... often all within the space of a single song.
Roxy Music had everything I look for in pop - they had wit, intelligence, humour, irony, cynicism, glamour, danger, sex; they were pop and avant garde simultaneously; they were retro and futuristic, they were science fiction; they were cruel, they were heartless in the best sense.
No one before or since looked or sounded like Roxy - a singer in tiger print or tuxedo, sporting a louche quiff; a balding ostrich-feathered androgyne teasing an unearthly range of sounds from his synths and tapes; a 23rd century Teddy Boy playing sax like King Curtis, oh and that very unrock'n'roll instrument, the oboe; a guitarist in insect shades playing experimental, psychedelic, prepunk riffs and white noise. They were beloved of both glamkids and grown ups. They had, I repeat, everything.
They stood out from the dandruff and denim morass of early seventies rock music like a diamond in a mud bath. Roxy were disliked, they weren't trusted ... there was a sneaking suspicion that they hadn't paid their dues, as if that counted for anything. Roxy's first public performances were at art gallery soirees, they had a management and record company prepared to sink a fortune into fine-tuning the band before they ever appeared live. Instead of spending years in a transit van playing the less salubrious venues of the gig scene, Ferry decided to start at the top - this alone made them a target for the puritans and fundamentalists of the music industry. Spurious notions of authenticity were to be disregarded, Roxy valued distance - even the love songs contained a shard of ice in the heart.
(And yet, and yet ... take '2 H.B.', a lovely punning play on words, a paean to romance and Humphrey Bogart - the way that "fade away never" drifts off, the poignancy of the keyboards ... it can bring tears to the eyes ... I tried to describe it to my wife recently and had to stop, a lump in my throat. Actually, I was nine years old the year the debut album was released (16th June, Bloomsday, 1972 ... a pleasingly Joycean congruence) and that song and the rest of the lyrics struck me as wonderfully clever ... I have experienced three decades since then of heavy literary and academic reading and art appreciation ... I've read Finnegans Wake five times, and do you know what? That song still strikes me as pretty damn clever).


Of course, something so precious was fated not to last ... tensions between Ferry and Eno couldn't be contained; as Ferry suggested at the time, two non-musicians in the band was one too many.
Rumours that Eno left to take up the role of Riff-Raff in a second-rate production of 'The Rocky Horror Show' touring the provinces are cruel and unfounded.
Ferry subsequently began to inhabit his lounge lizard persona a little too diligently; the tuxedo had become a straitjacket - what was once presented with wit and distance began to seem increasingly humourless and restrictive.
The Roxy purist will consider only the first five albums , the pre-split ones, as truly part of the cannon; indeed, the purist's purist will accept only the first two as the genuine article ... post-Eno, the band began to lose something of that experimental edge that had made them so significant in the first place. Let me be clear, there are some very great moments on the next three ... some of the best music of the seventies can be found there. And, indeed, there are some fine songs on the albums made after the 1979 reunion. But what might they have done had Eno remained with the band? It's one of the great pop imponderables, second only to what could the Velvet Underground have accomplished had Cale remained ... well, one can but dream ... just imagine the third Roxy album with Eno still on board ... it would have been stupendous, thrilling, so, so glamourous.

121 Comments:

Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Enjoyable tract, Anthony. Good to see music, even its description, being so vital, serious, and moving. I totally share that. EVERY time I hear songs like 'Such a Small Love' by Walker, 'Hurt' by Cash... I get that same lump, but I can get it talking about such thngs, too. This is serious and important stuff emotionally; it's what art is all about, I feel. One time in a posh eatery in Warrington, Annie and I - a song by The Sugarbabes came on. Something about 'so lost in you'. There's bit in the middle, where a pedal happens, a chord just continues, then the main syrupy theme kicks in. Kills me. Now I think, as Pop goes, the Sugarbabes (or is it Sugababes?) have done some good things. 'Freak Like Me' is creditable, for sure. But that bit in that song has something. I was nearly weeping, saying why I liked it to Annie. I cherish such moments. I think they are strong and character-building. When dickhead journalists bang on about men supressing such feelings, I don't know what they mean! All the friends I have speak similarly. As Morrissey rightly spouts: '...It takes guts to be gentle and kind...'. Your heartfelt tract chimes well here. I feel no less Punk for saying so.

11:32 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

To paraphrase Coward, the potency of pop music ... yes, there are certain songs that just wipe me out - '2 H.B.' is always one, the Velvets' 'The Murder Mystery' is another, particularly the piano section near the end. And you're right, it doesn't necessarily have to be 'great' or 'quality' music, the critic's favourites ... sometimes what is held to be disposable pop can carry a very weighty emotional charge.
As you say, the broadsheet pundits all like to carry on about how men are not in touch with their feelings ... that's not my experience at all. And pop can be a great conduit for emotional currents.
I don't know if it's because I heard Roxy and 'Transformer' at such a young and impressionable age, or if it's nostalgia for my 70s youth or not (I don't think it's purely nostalgia, or rather I contend that 'nostalgia' is a far more complex and interesting nexus of thought and emotions then is generally understood) but some of that stuff will stay with me forever ... am prepared to argue that Roxy are a high point of Western culture, and so much that came later, in a variety of media, can be traced directly back to them.

12:18 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

I had King Crimson's USA playing when I posted my first comment. That features John Wetton on bass - who also playedfor a while with Roxy Music. And Ferry turned KC down when they asked him to sing for them. Of course there's the Eno / Fripp connection. Scott Walker is to me what RM are to you. He's as valid and important as anything in other art forms. Pop is much-maligned; though I think that by now it is over, like television (to throw in a pithy point with large ramifications!). I don't think it's just my age. I really do think Pop is a finished project. It has imploded. It's just advertising now. The odd ditty will emerge. But as a phenomenon, it's gone, I feel.

Have you read Paul Morley's 'Words and Pictures'?

12:52 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

U.S.A. ... a fine album. Yes, the E.G. connections ... there was a time when it was unquestionably the best management/record label in the world; Roxy, Eno, King Crimson. Some great albums released on that label, though Fripp ended up falling out with them quite badly, I believe.
Yes, have a sinking feeling that pop is coming to the end ... feel the same way about cinema too; things don't deem the same. Pop was, for a while, the most vital and moving art form ... now it jsut seems to be one of a number of facets of a global digital culture more attuned to advertising than art. Oh well, it was great while it lasted.
Always an admirer of Morley's stuff ... I like his take on pop journalism.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Yes, of course, can be boiled down to EG label. Missed that one. Yeh, Fripp fell out with them. Great guitar-player, but nuts, I reckon. Morley, too, gets moved by music, and has a good way of saying how that is. I hated him as a youngman, thought he was a twat, and he is a bit, too! But he writes what I feel; like David Toop. Music journalism is pretty crap, but these two stand out, in my opinion. Wetton went on to disgrace himself with Asia, of course. He always was a bit of a lightweight. But great bass sound, if not playing; though he had his moments. Took a lot from Chris Squire, though.

1:54 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Didn't Fripp storm into the EG offices and grab the original painting of the 'In The Court Of The Crimson King' cover off the wall? One of the things that got me interested in Fripp was a bonkers NME interview from the 80s ... he goes off on a tangent about the 'Fripp child' being in his pram when he was a baby, looking at a passing aircraft.
I like the screeds that accompany Fripp's work these days ... some trenchant things about the freedom of the artist and whatnot.
Hasn't Toop got a new book coming out?

2:27 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Actually it's odd, considering Fripp is right up my street, for a long time I only knew him through his work with others ... Eno and Bowie, mostly. His guitar work for 'Baby's On Fire' was one of my favourite things for years before I actually got into his own music, and that was through his solo work before Crimson ...
Fripp also had the great good sense to turn Elton John down for Crimson's keyboard post ... a wise man, that ...

3:55 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

I can imagine Fripp doing that. I too like his bonkersness, up to a point; but he does talk a lot of shite at times, and it often detracts from his serious contribution to guitar and to prog. He has a political tract on the 'Let the Power Fall' album; and has always been that way, it has to be said. It's overtly individualist in my view, though.

Not sue re. Toop book. He's one of my myspace friends. And he requested me, too! Mild claim to fame crap, I know! It was nice, though. I wrote a letter about him in an issue of The Wire - saying I liked his piece on Derek Bailey. He emailed and thanked me. Recently, I've been emailing my music - to friends, and included David Toop in the loop. He allowed about six or so; then blocked me! Fair do's!

Death to Elton John.

6:25 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Yes ... Elton John ... why has he made a bit of a come back in recent years? The kitsch thing is getting out of hand (perhaps that's a bit rich coming from someone who has just posted a screed hymning inauthenticity and distanciation).
He's a funny bloke, Fripp. Does he still sport a large crucifix ... as I notice his missus does, too? Still, always have a soft spot for pop eggheads, like Eno and him.

7:05 PM  
Blogger Molly Bloom said...

I enjoyed getting up on stage with Fripp's wife. She was lovely. You can't knock her spirit I'd say. And she looks pretty lovely too. I love the fact that she is slightly chunky in 'Jubilee' and 'The Tempest'. She shouldn't have had that surgery though. She was lovely as she was.

7:44 PM  
Blogger Molly Bloom said...

enjoyed this piece Anthony. Yes, there are some songs that do that aren't there? Sometimes a chord or a melody can do that.

I like 'Virginia Plain' the best out of all of the tracks. I still think I'd like to hear David Byrne singing it. *Fears sharp, swift retribution for saying this*

I'd agree with Dr. Ant there as well about 'Hurt', especially if you watch the video as well. It is a very powerful piece.

7:47 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

I always fancied Toyah Wilcox - as a 14 year old lad (me not her, that is); her and Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell and Natalie Wood. Somewhere between all these lay my ideal woman. I love her performance in Jubilee; even the cringey middle-class brat plays street punk tone of it. She, like Fripp, and like Eno, is a big Christian. Fripp's always had that High Anglican thing. There was a wonderful TV documentary about Fripp years ago, ca. 1983-1985. My mate, Keith - guitarist - and I played it over and over on vhs, along with that KC performance from something introduced by Annie Nightingale, poss. Old Grey Whistle Test. The Fripp film is full of churches. He's a big fan of the pseudo-religious Gerdieff (sp?).

12:10 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Actually, Talking Heads took a hell of a lot from Roxy ... didn't Byrne say somewhere that T.H.'s 'Big Country' was a straight rewrite of Roxy's 'Prairie Rose'? David Byrne arrived in music via a very similar route to Ferry and Eno ... clever art school conceptualists rather than musicians. Which I like.
Odd to see Toyah, a graduate of the Jarman charm school and wife of Fripp getting on all these awful morning TV programmes and celeb fests ... yes, as an adolescent, I found her really attractive, in a way that more conventionally 'beautiful' and slender women could never be ... loved her look in Jubilee. Well, still like the way she looks now, just wish she hadn't gone and had plastic surgery (she obviously didn't listen to the Ants when they performed song of that name in Jubilee).
Didn't know Eno was a practising God botherer ... but 'High Anglican' catches something very accurately about Fripp ... had a chuckle over that one.
I can see him getting into Gurdjiev in a big way. Didn't he have one of those personality auditing things going on down in Wimbourne? (Fripp that is, not old Gurdjiev). Never saw the TV documentary, sounds interesting.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

It's a good mixed bag, Anthony. That music was important to me earlier in life: My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, Fear of Music, Remain in Light, Name of this Band is... That with KC, Killing Joke, The Smiths, Joy Division, Magazine. Lovely.

Nice one: the 'Plastic Surgery' ref, and what a great song, too. Early A and the Ants - great. I got a lot of shit from my mates for liing 'Dog Eat Dog' at the time. Seen as being Pop, commercial. We were very precious, hated America, commercialism, falseness. Weird to thing of that now. All these 16 year olds being so political! My friend, Dolly, asked me to defend my liking! I said, I like the power of it, the way the guitar works with the drums, etc. He said - and I quote - '...you can get that elsewhere...'. What he meant was it was possible to have the same thing without aligning oneself with that strain of Pop! I'm still proud of him now. He was maybe 15. Think we drank in that Punk thing - despite being into Prog, and being baby hippies after the fact. Dog Eat Dog is a great song, though!

Can't remember the name and details re. the Fripp doc. Keith and I often bemoan losing such things. He played gtr synth in some church. It might have featured Easter Sunday - a rarity, given away as a flexidisc with Guitar Player magazine in 1984. It was all around the time of his association with Andy Summers; and we loved that 'I Advance Masked' LP.

Gurdjiev - is it. An old mate of mine was into him. It's his voice on Peter Gabriel's 'Here Comes the Flood' - fripp was on that I think, and Eno had something to do with it. While we're at it: P Gabriel might be a bit of a corporate twat now, and there's his public school roots, but histhird solo LP is still something to behold: the one with 'Games Without Frontiers' and 'I Don't Remember' on it.

9:56 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Yes, Peter Gabriel, another one of those pop eggheads.
I always like the 'Dirk Wears White Socks' album ...referencing Marinetti and all.
I like that Fripp/Summers album, too ... A.S. had to do something to expiate his crimes with the Police ...

11:52 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

...That said, some of his work in The Police - given three piece, gtr/bs/drums - was revolutionary for its time and that Pop context. He helped take that set-up out of the confines of the power trio. The playing on, ie, 'Walking on the Moon' is inspired.

Sting was and is the real enemy.

Did you know Summers played in The Animals? He's done an LP of T Monk tunes. Weird journey he's had.

12:07 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

I didn't know Summers had done some Monk tunes, wouldn't mind hearing that. Knew he been around a bit ... Curved Air and all that.
Actually, Stewart Copeland was quite an interesting percussionist ... it was just the silly yodeling git on the mic that got my goat.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Cocaine Jesus said...

not one thing to add about this excellent piece apart from i agree with every word writen.
just to be my normal provocative self though, wasn't their first album really the only great thing they made? always good of course but never quite asgood again.

fripp. christian? blimey. he used to be a witch. a white witch. a bit like doc a's famous northampton author alan moore. has he gone all silly on us then?

1:29 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Think it was Copeland who was in Curved Air? Maybe Summers too? Not sure. Is that where they met perhaps? Sting had one idea - all those ninths. He was shrewed with his modest talent. But it was Copeland's Brother, Miles, who got them into the mega stakes. There's a CIA connection, too; think Copeland's dad was CIA. Yeh, Summers has done Monk LP. My mate Keith has it. I'll ask him for a rip, and pass it along.

Fripp's always been silly. But if it gets him playing that repeated arpegio in Frame by Frame, so be it. Not many other earthlings could do it.

1:55 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

You're right, it was Copeland in Curved Air ... and the dad was CIA ... never mess with the spooks...

My personal favourite has to be 'For Your Pleasure' - I always think the first one was , like the Banana album, setting out their stall (not to slight either very great album), while 'F.Y.P.', the second, is like 'White Light, White Heat', were it got really interesting experimentally.
Mind you, I really love the next three, some great songs on them.

That Fripp is a very strange man, yes? I like the way he once described Debbie Harry as 'a small mobile intelligence unit', which is a refreshing change from how most men saw her.

3:51 PM  
Blogger Tim Footman said...

Summers was in Dantalion's Chariot.

And Chairman Mao, of course, depped for Bryan Ferry on at least one occasion.

Now, while I've got the attention of a bunch of people who know about these things: this craze for putting drummers at the front of bands on Top of the Pops. When did it start? When did it stop? Roxy did it. As did T Rex and the early Bee Gees. Even The Jam in their very early days. WHY?

4:33 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Thought it was Copeland. You remember that song he did with Stanard Ridgway, 'Don't Box Me In'? Big alt fave with my circle years ago. Copeland did the music for the overrated 'Rumble Fish', also.

Fripp played guitar on Blondie single, a b-side I think, 'Fade Away anfd Radiate'. Not heard for years. But remember he plays a really odd-sounding loop thing. Blondie were good.

Hello Tim. Didn't know the DC Summers thing. Great name for a daft band! The drummer at the front thing made me smile. I reckon they wre just rrying to be 'different' ... remember when people though like that? ... Modernism it was called.

6:13 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Dantalion's Chariot ... that's right. That's a real blast from the psychedelic past.
The Chairman Mao rendition of 'Virginia Plain' ... first saw it on Youtube a few months ago ... so funny, particularly the completely straight-faced way they did it, and obviously with some real Roxy knowledge. Drummers at the front ... I don't know, that's a good one. Any ideas, anyone?

'Don't Box Me In' ... that was a fine song.
I was running through 'Fade Away And Radiate' in my head today, strangely enough (rather than inflict my "singin" on my daughter) ... wonderful bit of Frippnoise ... I always felt, to continue the theme, that it was something of a Roxy pastiche, and all the better for it.

7:00 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Stanard Ridgeway - band: Wall of Voodoo. Interesting. Just put SR and R Chatham on top 24 on my eso myspace. A fella I know, lives up in Loughborough is doing that 400 guitar army thing of Branca's, in Belgium, I think it is.

9:24 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

"I wish I was in Tijuana/eating barbecued iguana". Indeed.

There was/ is an interesting French ensemble, Urban Sax, who perform large scale pieces with saxophones, slightly similar to Branca's massed guitars. Except it's saxes, not guitars ... so not that similar at all ...

7:09 AM  
Blogger kek-w said...

Yeah, Copeland was in a later incarnation of Curved Air, who I saw play in Yeovil...he was a pretty good drummer...

Sting: pah!

12:33 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Yes, I do think he was very good on the skins, Stewart Copeland ... talking of Curved Air, always fancied Sonya what'sherface quite a lot. As hippy chicks go.

1:21 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Andy Summers was, briefly, a member of Soft Machine, too.
Not a long or particularly distinguished stint, but he's got quite a CV.

1:33 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Summers, interesting CV, yeh. Not a player one thinks of as either technical or overtly-original. But still... On The Police song, 'I Can't Stand Losing You' - a piece of Sting-born pastiche pop - in the middle-eight, Summers plays using an interesting technique: Lenny Brau (Sp?) Harmonics, so-called. This entails fingering notes and chords with the left-hand as normal (if one is right-handed), whilst, with the right, plucking the strings as normal, whilst stopping harmonics, an octave, 5th, 4th above etc., at the same time. On guitar, harmonics are limited to certain notes - because of the limitations of the notes the open strings are tuned to and the harmonics which naturally appear on them. Using the LB Harmonics, one can get any note. It's a difficult thing to do well; and Summers doesn't do it to any great extent, but it's noteworthy in a pop song. There are so-called 'forced harmonics', too - made by literally forcing a fingered note to produce a harmonic; one does it this basically by fouling clean picking by hitting with plec and, say, thumb at same time. But this technique is less predictable and often needs gain or distortion to work. Forced Harmonics are similar, it seemsd to me, to the kind of 'overblowing' (is it?) that John Zorn (and endless others) does on sax.

4:03 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Overblowing, an interesting technique used by technical giants and chancers alike ... I am probably one of the latter.
Yes, Summers is an interesting bloke ... the only mystery is how he and Copeland managed to put up with Sting.
It's one of the great tragedies of my life that I am not more gifted, musically ... I have a limited access to the technical side of it ... however, Molly will allow, I have an unnaturally acute rhythmic sense amd a good grasp of tone.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Technical facility can get in the way sometimes. I don't count myself as any kind of skilled bass or guitar player. I just never was that one-dimensional, on the one hand, or dedicated, on the other. I've always been mixed-media. That too has its pros and cons, like anything. The way I approached the bass - which was the instrument I played in the bands I played in - was to work with limitations, and to try to push the instrument and myself as far as possible in the direction of originality. I did this, in so far as I achieved my aim, by aping other instruments - the guitar, synths. I made the bass sound like and act like these instruments. I spent my practice time with such thoughts. Thus - I did things like use chords extensively, played all that two-handed stuff (like Allan Holdsworth and Eddie Van Halen did on guitar), I used harmonics, harmonics with chords, bowing in - volume-wise, lots of effects, used a capo, struck the strings in weird places, overbend strings - for a fretless sound, pushed the strings into the pick-up. All manner of oddness. Now, I have nine effects pedals, plus tons of other stuff - so life is easier! Still same attitude, though! So, if you have limitations, Anthony, it's plainly not prevented you from enjoying the sax. Have you ever played with others, in a band? If so, what kind of stuff?

9:34 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Yeah, I sung and played guitar (a large amount of poetic license in both those descriptions) in a pretty dreadful punk band, late seventies, which collapsed when I turned up with a sax and said that was my 'axe' from now on. The others didn't like the fact that our basic two minutes dittties now had to encompass lengthy 'free jazz' solos ... don't blame them, really.
Actually, I liked to fiddle around with the guitar, use different tunings and strings ... anything to get a noise.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

...and you see, that admix of punk and so kind of approach to free jazz would have been interesting. Several punk types I've met have been incredibly narrow and conservative. It's as if that iconoclasm has frozen into a style, instead of iconoclasm itself being the style, the methodology. Same with those in Conceptual Art who quote Duchamp, and make those pale readymade-esque things now. They either don't understand what it is he meant in the first place or, in their rush to get commercial product out there, they don't care. Either way: shite.

No endeavours since then? No collaborations? Anything with the film?

7:10 PM  
Blogger rockmother said...

Loved reading all this. Thank you. And I agree wholeheartedly with all said. As a teenager Paul Morley brought music alive for me - apart from Charles Shaar Murray, no one else wrote like that. I used to watch all the pop programmes too - especially the one with Tony Wilson and Peter Cook presenting the bands - White Light? Transmission? I can't remember. I used to LOVE that as all the punk bands were on - my favourite. Felt a bit disappointed when I saw Toyah with her new facelift presenting the Heaven and Hell Show or whatever it is.

11:24 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Nothing music-wise since then ... and have spent a good few years having doors slammed in my face by the film/arts conglomerate ... which puts me in the same boat as Kenneth Anger, Terence Davies and Ken Russell ... !
The Tony Wilson programme ... 'So It Goes'? Bloody marvellous, that was ... wish they'd show that again, so many repeats and retro programmes on these days, but not a lot of the quality stuff.
Yes, the Toyah facelift ... thought she was smarter than that.

7:06 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

That's nice of you, Rockmother. Thanks.

So It Goes - yes, nice one, Anthony. I remember Wilson on his 'What's On' programme, too. But the former is, I think also, the one featuring Peter Cook, in atux, saying 'these kids', 'bloody noise' etc., I seem to recall. Such a twat, Wilson - but can't really fully knock his part in good things. I was never a Monday's fan - thugs to me; but Joy Division / New Order, yes. 24 Hour Party People - film - is an annoying thing, but worth seeing for a sense of those times. Like Liverpool at the same time - 1979ish to 1984ish - Manchester had something special. I played in bands in Liverpool just after that flowering; and there was a lot of power and hope around, despite the wider cultural context of mid-term Thatcherism. It's hard to say just how powerful and important that stuff was as a saving grace and way into ideas and philiosphies, in all the post-industrial nothingness of St. Helens. The specificity of St. Helens apart, no-one has ever written that story, to my mind.

Anthony: Never wanted to play in bands since?

Awful seeing Ken Russell on that Celeb Big Bro thing. The kids and Annie love it; and, as a familial gesture, I watch it, too. I mostly find it sad and offence, I haveto say. I thought he would either play the grumpy old wannabe-posh man or everyone's grandad. Seems he opted for the former.

8:07 AM  
Blogger kek-w said...

The Peter Cook program was Revolver, I think...

So It Goes was fantastic, but I find Tony Wilson hard work these days...I couldn't stand The Happy Mondays either...the whole point of Acid House seemed, to me at the time, to be to get rid of rock groups, so the Mondays and The Stone Roses and all these dull unfunky/unfuturistic bands full of plumbers & plasterers' mates on E used to irritate the hell out of me...but I think the NME and the various magazines needed faces (and scally type 'characters') to sell mags, so they relentlessly championed them, rather than faceless Techno acts that students weren't interested in...I think, round that time, the NME started becoming static, almost retrogressive and I certainly fell out of love with it...during the 90s it became increasingly bland and corporate til you end up w/ the NME dot com brand we have today, who work hand-in-glove w/ A&R men and whose only function is to part students from their grants and promote a narrowing closed-loop of fake punk/post-punk bands...(end of rant)...phew...

2:01 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Revolver ... Can't remember myself; but remember the programme. Yes, Wilson is irritating, for sure. Even he thinks that, I reckon! I agree with you about The Mondays. Awful. NME is as you say. Not read stuff like that for eons. Q I find bland.

2:54 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

I remember 'Revolver' too.
What made me laugh about that 24 Hour Party People film was the way that Joy Division and New Order were relegated to footnotes to Happy Mondays ... the thugs that destroyed Factory, curse them.

Yeah, I've flirted with getting involved with music since but never get off my lazy arse ... shameful, I know. Being in a band taught me I'm not good at collaborating.

Poor old Ken on Celeb Big Bro ... what the hell? For the first time, I forced myself to watch it and was appalled ... the way that no one, apart from the Bollywood star, knew who he was. Some prick in the Observer yesterday said he was responsible for some of the worst films of the last century, and Jermaine Jackson responsible for some of the best music ... no, no, no to both assertions!

Agree with what you say, Kek, about the NME and the way it works with the A&R machine ... I once regarded it as essential reading but it lost everything that made it interesting, promoting the latest 'latest thing'.

3:56 PM  
Blogger kek-w said...

"Some prick in the Observer yesterday said he was responsible for some of the worst films of the last century, and Jermaine Jackson responsible for some of the best music..." Yeah, I read that too and groaned...I've got a big soft spot for Ken Russell...

I don't think the NME is even promoting anything new; it's just the same old same old w/ ever-diminishing returns...the same music, but different band names for each 'season' (ie fresh student intake)...a pox upon 'em!

7:45 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

JD / New Order as footnotes is exactly how they were treated. The way the death of Ian Cutis was portrayed was disgusting, I thought. He deserved better. Disgusting.

Gosh, The Observer - et al. I used to read all that stuff. What an unholy waste of time; and Today on R4 and Newsnight, etc. What a lot of effing bollocks journalists talk! THEY are the big problem - their whole culture is artless, empty, meaningless, and vapid. The people with real stuff to say are never seen. Take Andrew Marr - what a fool. Did you see that series he did, after he got journalist of the year? They did a Marr meets the intellectuals - suggesting Marr was one of them. The one with Noam Chomsky was hilarious. He thought he was a match for Chomsky's amazing recall. I have it somewhere on video. I must watch it again soon!

8:15 PM  
Blogger rockmother said...

Ah yes Revolver - thank you - that was it. So It Goes was good too but a shit name for a programme. I gave up reading NME in the Sounds days - haven't picked it up since 1982 although bought a few great back copies on ebay for research purposes last year. It was a serious wallow - interview with 'new ska band' The Specials. Brilliant. Tony Wilson gets really slagged off doesn't he as there is something genuinely quite amphibious about him BUT he knows his music. And yes, before I go off on a big rant - even though I was into the music but never the drugs - the fact that Joy Division were a footnote to Happy Mondays in 24hr Party Poopers was disgraceful. Right, I'm stopping now!

10:05 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Dear old Ken Russell ... he made some of my favourite films ... knows his cinema history, too. Bless him.

Andrew Marr, laughably touted as one of the Beeb's heavyweights. Meets the intellectuals ... and doesn't understand one word they say to him.

24 hour party poopers, arf arf. Yes, I love looking through old NMEs ... the glory days. Particularly the Mark E.Smith interviews ... always enough stuff to keep you laughing for days.
Tony Wilson, what are we to do with him? A pompous prat, but he did start Factory ... I had practically everything they ever put out ... when I was a serious young man in long overcoat.

8:14 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

I love my long overcoat still.

Yes, Wilson began Factory. Joy Division are an early talisman for me. It's pros and cons - unfortunately. Be nice to see something a bit more rigorous, pure. ...remember The Lee and Herring Show? That skit they did on Puritanism? Brilliant! Even that stance has its pros and cons! Drat! But thank god for comedy. The real moderator (ie. not the effing media).

Fall connection - Stewart Lee. An interesting fella.

9:20 AM  
Blogger kek-w said...

(Hangs head in shame) Yes, I was also a serious cabaret voltaire/Factory Records fan in a long overcoat...

Never liked the blinking Smiffs tho.

10:19 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

They have a regular piece in Time Out, 'My Favourite Londoner' (usually, neither the nominator nor nominated have much of a connection to London) but Stewart Lee had a nice one a month or so ago, a good piece of writing about why he admires Evan Parker so much.

I remember the long overcoat era, bloody marvellous ... another serious bone of contention between myself and my punk contemporaries ... a bandmate went into the Exploited end of punk, I was into J.D.,The Fall, P.i.L. and The Contortions. As I always say, we split over musical differences.

Yes, the Cabs ... perhaps the uber long overcoat/floppy fringe group.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Never liked Cab Vol, myself. Read that book about them, though - for me, more interesting for its asides about the impact of Thatcherism on a local council.

Musical differences are great, aren't they?! Often unlying them are ideological differences, though, I find.

As I said elsewhere - Stewart Lee, interesting fella.

11:06 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

I loved the early Cabs ... not so keen on the 'conform to deform' period.
Musical/ideological decisions ... style often is content, or has deeper meanings.

1:27 PM  
Blogger rockmother said...

I used to wear a khaki army mac (from Flip) with a beret and fishnets and stiletto's - must have looked like some sort of Dietrich-esque tart. No wonder I used to leave the house to a chorus of 'you are not going out like that are you?' That was in my post-early punk/kraftwerk/john foxx days. Never liked The Smiths at the time but somehow I seem to know most of the words to alot of the songs. Quite like Dagenham Dave..

I'm glad Ken Russell left BB - it saved me from watching and he is far too clever and intelligent to be on that pile of shit. I did enjoy Pete Burns last year though just for his morbid and barbed acidity.

3:26 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Oh God, I remember the 'you're not going out dressed like that' mantra ... the cause of many a row.
John Foxx's Ultravox! did some bloody good stuff, and used their Roxy/Krautrock influences in a very interesting manner.

Poor old Ken ... the few sights I had of him in 'the house' seemed to show him sitting down staring into middle space. Probably pondering how on earth he ended up there in the first place.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

I was into Smith after the fact, too. Hated them at the time. It was hearing 'How Soon is Now' that did it.

Gosh, I still dress outlandishly at times! Maybe I'll grow out of it in time!

Celeb BB. The kids and Annie love it; so I watch as a family thing. Pete Burns was too sussed for the dimwits - despite his shortcomings and self-obsession. I've met tons of similarly sharp Scousers. He's a type. Ken Russell looked sad. The argument he had with Jade what's her name was very poor. She was actually right, and he knew it, too. In a aideways way that was actually interesting to see.

9:41 PM  
Blogger rockmother said...

Oh goodness - I'm so glad I didn't see KEn staring into space like that - it probably would have made me want to cry. I saw a trailer tonight of Leo Sayer going potty and saying the f word and kicking the door trying to leave. His little curls were jiggling around on his tiny crosspatch head. I was almost tempted but decided I wouldn't go there.

10:43 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Celeb BB is directed by Tod Browning. Aren't they a boring selection?

12:29 AM  
Blogger rockmother said...

They should have stuck Jimmy Pursey in there - that would have put the cat amongst the pigeons. Unpredictable Jimmy.

7:36 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

I read on Ceefax that Ken described himself as a fuddy duddy ... surely not? Yes, the bits I did see of Ken were quite sad ... he was telling the Faceman (can't believe I just typed that) about Elstree Studios, where the 'house' is, and how he made The Devils there ... we nearly wept.
I never really watch those programmes so they come as a revelation to me when I do ... watched that jungle programme briefly when Lydon was in it, similarly watched this one to see Ken ... am always appalled by what I see. Or does that make me a fuddy duddy? Celeb culture is rapidly turning into a black hole sucking society down into God knows where.
I do, have to say, bitterly regret not seeing Leo Sayer losing it ... you describe it very well ... what a terrifying sight it must be, Leo Sayer in full battle mode.
Yes, I can see Jimmy Pursey, doing his dancing to general consternation.

8:05 AM  
Blogger rockmother said...

Or just crapping on about himself endlessly and pretending to be working class when he's not! Poor Jimmy - he's a bit broken in the head.

9:31 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Are they still going, Sham 69? I know they did reform, is that still going on? I remember when he was very nearly a Sex Pistol ...
I, once upon a very long time ago, spent a few nights at the now infamous Walton Hop (Luke Haines' track of that name on his new album ... good one) - to both my relief and chagrin, no rich old perv ever tried to pick me up. What am I, chopped liver?

10:19 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Again, I agree, Anthony. I, too, don't see these kinds of things very often; and I, too, am disgusted. It's lower than lowest common-denominator. That list of poosible shows - Annie and I always cite this - which Alan Partidge doles out to the head of the BBC, which includes 'monkey tennis'. It's worse than that. Humiliation, desparation, meaningless incident, meaningless likes and dislikes, and social cruelty... BB is one of the things the future will remember about our time, of course. Thing is, they'll probably think it looks quaint and tame by then.

JP - case in point. WC wannabe. The turd.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

'poosible' - typo, but it adds to the point!

10:31 AM  
Blogger rockmother said...

Ugh - the Walton Hop. Nasty. Jimmy Pursey got called up to give evidence in the seedy Jonathan King trial. He is still living near Hersham in a squat I think - well that's what it looked like when I visited. He is painting (as in pictures) and enjoying a resurgence big time because of the football thing last year. Sham 69 never disbanded just fell out alot! They are big in Europe and places like Norway/Finland. I think JP had a nervous breakdown at some point or he seemed to have that disposition when I met him last year.

11:48 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Oh yes, I remember now ... think I saw something about him painting, and now you mention it I did see something about them during the World Cup.
But I'll never forget seeing him on the Oxford Roadshow TV programme years doing this free expressive dancing. I really did cry laughing.

1:12 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

He played some acoustic thing on newsnight, during the World Cup. Lots of those old Punks have turned into Protest Singers. Saw TV Smith last year. Same thing.

1:16 PM  
Blogger rockmother said...

Yes - hysterical - I still laugh now thinking about it. Was searching youtube for that the other day but alas - I couldn't find it - I will and when I do I'm going to resurrect it for all to enjoy on my blog.

1:16 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Yes, I 'd like to see that again ... priceless.
TV Smith? Is he still around? Truly, old punks never die.

1:44 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

I think it was 'If The Kids...'.

Yeh, TV Smith around. Last year was, of course, 30 years since 76 - so they came out of the woodwork. It's all a bit logic-of-Showaddywaddy-at-Butlins, in my view; but good luck to them, I suppose. Bloody Postmodernist implosion.

1:55 PM  
Blogger rockmother said...

Found it - it's up on my main blog for all to see and gawp at in utter amazement.

www.therockmother.blogspot.com

2:02 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Just watched the Pursey footage ... what a loon.
Yes, the punk anniversary thing , it rolls around every 5 or 10 years ... I suppose these people must get their pensions sorted out.

2:35 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

There always was an inch-deep pragmatism in there, I suppose; and if one can field the embarrisment and ahistoricism of it all... Well, they are everywhere, aren't they? I bet heaps of denial is a big help, and some kind of intellectual justification, or it's for a laugh, nostalgia, etc. Good luck to them.

3:04 PM  
Blogger kek-w said...

"TV Smith? Is he still around? "

They were showing The Adverts on BBC4 last week...

4:40 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Seem to recall seeing the Adverts as support .... can't for the life of me remember where, when and who the main act was.
Denial is always a big help, if you can pull it off.
I see some of these nostalgia tours going around and I just can't get a handle on it ... that big 80s one that was on some 'reality TV' show ... Go West for fuck sake, and the gormless lead singer from Spandau Ballet. Mind you, they seemed to be having the time of their life, so what do I know?

7:21 PM  
Blogger rockmother said...

What about Charlie Harper - the oldest working punk in showbusiness - nearly 70 and still touring with UK Subs. I know Vi Subversa (Poison Girls) is around the same age - I think she still does gigs. Incredible. I never thought any of them would ever get to that age - I still love punk. Listening to it makes me feel like I've never grown up which is quite a comfortable place to be sometimes.

9:32 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Kek - aren't there always adverts on BBC4? ... er, bumb bumb, as Basil Brush might say. Actually, there aren't...

Missed The Adverts on there. The TV Smith gig wasn't my thing. I went with someone else who knows him. Don't think we listened to a single song.

Anthony - cocaine probably had a hand in their well-being. Tony Hadley - is it? Ashamed to say I might be right! Bollocks, I remember them on some Radio 1 show before they had a deal. That's an awful memory. So unfair, all the good things I have forgotten, but I can remember being at work - fixing cars at that time - listened to their hopes for success. Thompson Twins were on the same programme. Really - dear memory, there's too much detail in this memory. Leave me alone.

9:32 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

I don't think Charlie Harper was exactly a spring chicken when he started the U.K. Subs, so to see him still plugging away all these decades later ... he deserves a medal for industry, if not musical nous. And Vi Subversa also? Jesus.
Yes, Tony Hadley ... the only thing I can say in Spandau Ballet's defence is that they were (well, definitely Hadley and the Kemp brothers) good working class stock but took the interesting route of going for glamour and exalting themselves. What's the opposite of nostalgie de la boue? I've always liked that thing ... the Mods getting really good suits and escaping their backgrounds ... upwardly mobile can be interesting, as long as it doesn't entail certain social and political compromises.
Pity Spandau's music was tosh ... and remember their brief flirtation with Fascist imagery? Just like the Skids, days in Europa indeed ... Both bands highly influenced by Roxy and their tactics.

7:37 AM  
Blogger rockmother said...

I think Richard Jobson's feature is on More 4 tonight. I haven't seen it yet - I've always been slightly miffed that he has done fairly well as a 'filmmaker'. I saw a few shorts of his some time ago that I didn't think were all that.

Yes - Spandau Ballet - I remember the 12" cover for Musclebound - looked like a semi-fascist S&M poster.

9:26 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Is that 16 Years Of Alcohol? I was taken aback when I read some very good reviews of it when it came out ... I know what you mean about being miffed ... he's such a chancer, Jobson, gets himself about. I remember after the Skids went belly up, he launched the artier Armoury Show and then a career as a poet. Can't keep the lad down.

Actually, there's a long history of pop musicians flirting with Fascist imagery (as opposed to outright White Power nutcases and skinhead bands) ... Bowie turning up at Earl's Court in a black Merc with blonde outriders, giving what looks suspiciously like a sieg heil, for instance.
Then again, Fascism (as style) is bound to attract the egomanical type attracted to rock stardom.

10:38 AM  
Blogger rockmother said...

Yes - Ron Mael of Sparks for one! Tapping at his organ looking suspiciously like Hitler. I loved them though. And I'm sure ACDC or another big rock band went through a lederhosen phase. Lemmy collects Third Reich dinner sets I've heard - just like the fucked up Dad in American Beauty!

12:51 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Sparks ... Ron Mael probably gave a whole generation of kids nightmares after their first TOTP appearance. He was also the exact double of Graham Young, infamous 1970s poisoner and murderer ... just to make him seem even more sinister.
Yes, love Sparks ... funny, literate, camp ...
No suprise with Lemmy and Nazi memorabilia ... but dinner sets? Outrageous!

2:35 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Yeh, fascism in rock: Lemmy as you say, RockMother; and the keys in Sparks Hitler-look. Interesting band, though. Bowie's Hunky Dory for sure. I believe Noel G from Oasis refused to shake Bowie's hand for that one. But there's tons of it in lots of those German Industrial Bands, and in Throbbing Gristle and its offshoots. There's a label in Northampton, Cold Spring, and lots of its stable have that overtone. What about the supposedly saintly U2, on their overegged Zooropa tour? - using swastikas 'ironically', and the image of a Hitler Youth drummer boy. To the latter, the crowd clapped in unison. Pretty mixed-up, intellectually-interesting, but a twisted up semiotic/ideological soup, for sure. Always hated that Nazi t-shirt of S Vicious'. But, as Savage argues in 'England's Dreaming', if school kids wanted to offend people in the 70s they drew a swastika. Maybe.

4:59 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

I was never convinced by U2's embracing of irony ... I put that down to Eno's influence, isn't Bono too damn earnest to really practice irony? Never trusted his drive to be a guru, a preacher, a figure head.
Punk's rather scattershot approach to shock tactics resulted in some bad mistakes ... the use of swastikas, Mclaren's use of the Cambridge Rapist ans Ronnie Biggs ... bloody fool.

6:14 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Yeh, I think Eno probably gave U2 a book on Postmodernism - prompting the thought: great more opportunities for pastiche. We've been The Doors, Led Zeppelin, we've pretended we're American, Red Indians, etc. We can be all surface, ironic, plastic. Edge says - but can I still do those simplistic riffs with my echobox, please? Bono says, of course you can, but you have to dress-up all sci-fi.

Bono: file with Sting.

11:36 AM  
Blogger rockmother said...

Under B for boring? Or F for far-too-worthy-for-their-own-good.?

1:59 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Under N for never made a half-decent record in their lives.
Bono and irony ... a rich field of inquiry ... the millionaire tax-dodger telling us to fork more and more over, the philanthropist suing some poor woman because she had his daft hat, the anti-war and poverty campaigner sucking up to Bush and Blair ... one could go on and on.
Yes, I can see the big-faced git laying down the law to the boys ... imagine the Edge's face when informed he had to dress like an aging clone ...
Pop stars ... they don't do worthy very well ... I don't look to moral and political guidance from some twerp in the hit parade.

2:28 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

'Twerp' is the perfect word for Bono. One doesn't want to call him anything too heavy and passionate like twat. He's not worth the bother.

In some Bill Hicks style ... like Hick's rifle joke for Jackie Kennedy, 'just thinking of Bobby' ... For Bono the Twerp, I would say '...hey, rich man, look: eye of a needle; you no fit. Worried at all, mate?'. What gets me is they are basically a naff daft christian rock band, God Channel, tambourine thuumbing stuff. How did they become so big? I did buy The Unfortegable Fire when it came out, though - suppose it was just millions of bozos like me what made them big!

4:25 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

'...thuumbing...'? Good enough.

4:27 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Certain people get succesful, and you can understand why, if not actually liking any of their stuff. I can see, for instance, why Guns'N'Roses 'made it' ... but U2? I'm at a loss how they got so big ... same with Simple Minds in the 80s.
I have the same response when faced with Tom Cruise, for instance - I can see why a pretty boy like Brad Pitt got star status ... but Tom Cruise? Not attractive, can't act, pompous and humourless ... why is he so big?

8:55 AM  
Blogger rockmother said...

Well, firstly I think the Unforgettable Fire has a 'sound' to it that is quite alluring. Secondly, it does actually sound quite like Simple Minds if you think about it - at a particular place in time. Thirdly - I HATE/LOATHE /DETEST Tom Cruise or any film he is in - simply dreadful. Never could fathom how he became so successful. Rotten to the core.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Cruise? ... Gotta get suspicious about the role of Scientology in that one's success. Acting-wise, he is good in Magnolia, though, I think. Overblown nonsense as a film in some ways, but one I like. His performance during the interview with the black woman has a power to it, I would say. Contrast that with, say, Interview With a Vampire... Truly awful. I'm tempted to say even Keanu Reeves would have been better, but came to my senses!

Recently saw the film, 'Glengarry Glen Ross', for the first time. Knew it was rated, but what a great piece of work, with wonderful performances. throughout: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Jonathan Pryce, Kevin Spacey, Ed Harris, Alec Baldwin ... What a cast. America still makes the odd great film, it seems - though it's 12 years old.

RockMother, I agree. The Unforgettable Fire does have a sound. That was Eno and Lanois (sp?) mostly, I believe. The LP was recorded basically live, in a big castle; the band playing as if at a gig, through a p.a. I think, though, it's more of Simple Minds - post New Gold Dream - being influenced by U2. I believe S Minds supported U2, or vice versa; and Jim Kerr (sp?) was so impressed he literally said, 'that's what I want to do'. Certainly, he started all that earnst Bono posturing on the LPs after NGD. I was never a fan. But the bassplayer they had on NGD was brilliantly inventive. He was eventually replaced by the wonderful John Giblin - who plays with Scott Walker.

8:55 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Shame about Simple Minds ... their early stuff was excellent ... a really interesting take on the Kraftwerk/Berlin-era Bowie/Roxy nexus ... then the wide-focus American influences crowded out the European influences to the band's detriment ... a similar route was taken by U2.
I always remember Ian McCulloch's great quote about Mr Kerr ..."if Jim Morrison had looked like Jim Kerr, he'd be alive today" ... nice one, that. He also said that Kerr had a face like a colostomy bag. I think McCulloch, in his prime, rivalled Mark E. Smith in the quotability and put-down stakes.
Actually, U2 and Simple Minds both stole everything they could take from the Bunnymen.

9:30 AM  
Blogger kek-w said...

Early(-ish) Simple Minds is great: "Empires and Dance", etc...

Bono taking his ex-stylist to court, what a...a...twerp...

Wasn't there an incident a few years ago, where U2 had expensive Armani suits dragged behind a pick-up truck, so they would be scuffed-up and look more 'street' when they wore them in a video...

Used to cringe when, again a fair few years ago, Bono said something along the lines they were embracing Techno and underground electronic music for their next LP...did they fuck! Must've been back in the 90s...I seem to remember them name-dropping Underworld, etc to make themselves seem less dinosaur...I hate it when bands do that PR spin bollocks to make themselves look more 'now'...Coldplay did a similar thing when they were pre-release spinning their 3rd LP; they claimed they'd gotten into elctronic music in a big way and the LP was a major departure (EMI shares crash the next day) and it turns out they'd just nicked the lead-line from 'Computer World'...jeez...

6:57 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Yes, further evidence of Bono's utter lack of irony ... embracing the underground, does he know where or what 'underground' is? They were completely mainstream when they were young Bible-bashing sprogs just starting out,let alone later. Dirtying up Armani suits? It would be completely in character ... like that scene in The Wild Boys where rich fuckers wear what look like bum's clothes ... on closer inspection, the vomit stains are picked out in gold thread, etc.
Coldplay, also ... it really gets my goat when idiots like Coldplay try to come over all dangerous ... slagging off EMI while all the time keeping an eye on the shares.

8:20 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

I agree re. McCulloch. Big fan of Bunnymen's 'classic period' stuff. Great songs - took a lot from The Doors, etc; but things like 'Bring on the Dancing Horses', 'The Killing Moon', 'The Cutter', 'Silver' - lovely. I remember once auditioning for a band, at The Ministry, in Liverpool, whilst they were rehearsing next door.

Used to know someone who worked for one of the big insurance companies, he handled Bono. The eco/Ghandi stuff is inchdeep. He's a stinking capitalist - as one would expect. We should just laugh at him.

Coldplay make me feel ill. That scene in Extras, with the singer, is hideous. Corporate bumblickers to a man. A pox on them!

2:34 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Can I namedrop a little? Forgot Bunnymen ref: band I was in supported them and KLF years ago. McCulloch wasn't with them then, though.

2:37 PM  
Blogger kek-w said...

Spot on about U2 ripping off The Bunnymen...that's one of my pet peeves, but people usually just laugh at me when I say that, so nice to hear it vindicated. I met Mac v. briefly in the late 70s and he had a bit of a tongue on him, that one; a very sarky character even when he was being 'friendly'... but they all lived in fear of Pete Burns, even back then.

7:22 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Cope was the man in that bunch, though, I reckon. But as you suggest, Kek, a vocal bunch, lots of nouse. Poor Pete Wylie lost out most - taking 'The Crucial Three' as departure point. Great scene; often amazing music. Even OMD - albeit a daft adjunct - had a validity early on; and there was Icicle Works, of course. Met Ian NcNab one time - at Amazon Studios, whilst band I was in were recording a demo. Hewas sat there watching the TV on his own. Loved their early singles. It was Teardrops for me, though. I remember Treason and Reward on ToTP. Sounded so fresh.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Pete Burns worked in the old Probe record shop; when it was at the back of Stanley Street, Liverpool.

8:52 PM  
Blogger rockmother said...

I agree Dr Ant - early Echo and the Bunnymen was great - I was only re-playing The Cutter the other day and there was another song Back of Love which I come back to now and again - I've got a 7" single of it still.

Coldplay are fucking shit. I was wondering recently if I was the only person that didn't like them and then further wondered if I was missing something and would come round to them in about 10 years time - and then thought no, I don't think I ever will because they are crap!

And yes - I remember the first time I ever heard Reward - so excitng.

12:13 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

I always thought it was a classic example of the universe being cocked-up ... U2 get to be huge, and the Bunnymen don't. Just something so wrong there. U2, I always thought they stole so much from the Bunnymen, threw in a little bit of The Clash, some classic rock moves ... Frankenstein's bloody monster. Coldplay, too. Why are they so popular? The way Chris Martin has always got marker pen all over his hand ... go home and have a wash, you grubby wanker.
The Crucial Three ... too many egos crammed into one band? Too many mouths.
Yes, Liverpool seemed to have a good scene going on ... lacked the complacency of the London scene.
We met Cope a few years ago ... I gave him a copy of his Krautrock book to sign and he was really pleased.

7:16 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Back of Love was firstish thing I ever heard by Bunnymen. Remember learning the bassline. 'Over the Wall', I love, too.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Thanks Rockmother.

Coldplay are just not very good. So ordinary. Yes, Anthony, he should wash his hands. Hate that kind of affectation. Sadly, it all works commercially. Truth gets you not very far. His Dad probably works for something connected to the media. I remember, was it?, Parachuttes coming out. Couldn't see what the fuss was about. Part of that rockish drip drip drip which seemed to come on the arse-end of Radiohead. Millionaires though. So I suspect my comments don't mean a thing! I'm personally daft enough to think I couldn't care less about their supposed success, though! I think they are a comedy act myself; like Hale and Pace, too, not The Mighty Boosh. Nothing changes their lack of validity, their minor artistic status. Money & popularity mean nothing in face of that. They are just factually very poor. Elitist, I know!

U2 took a lot from New Order, similarly. I remember Barney A quipping as much on, I think, Snob. Remember that programme? He called Bono 'Bongo' - which made me laugh out loud at the time. U2 are pastiche and corporate, kind of unthreatening, very transparent. That works in our world. Bunnymenm were too opaque and dignified to get into the big big time. As Fripp said once, however, there are advantagestoi being in division two.

Crucial Three - yeh, ego city Arizona! Cope strikes me as a good man. Love his 'Head On'/'Repossessed' book. That stone circles tv prog was great, too.

10:32 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

A basic strategy for 'success' the U2 way ... rip off everything you can from much better bands and coarsen and reduce it down to the lowest common denominator.
As I said, not interested in being preached too, or if I am, it will have to be by someone smarter, braver and wiser than Bongo or Chris Martin ... Coldplay, the Hale and Pace of pop ... what a thing to have on your tombstone.

1:08 PM  
Blogger rockmother said...

Ha ha ha - Bongo - that's very funny. World of Twist were another band that should have made it and never did. Tony Ogden was a tragically misunderstood genius. I am still upset that he died last year. Such a waste.

7:37 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Gr8 - Bongo he is from now on. He deserves nothing better!

WoT unknown to me Rmother.

9:24 PM  
Blogger kek-w said...

Yeah, Cope's a great bloke...met him on a handful of occassions back in the late 70s...me and some friends used to go and see the Teardrops whenever we could; great band!

First met him in Bristol the first time The Bunnymen played; him and Mac were still friends back then...my mate recognised him as teardrops bass-player (I think they had one or maybe two singles out on Zoo at that point...) and we got talking...I was gobsmacked to find we had pretty much the same record collection...we spent ages talking about Faust and Robert Wyatt and hit it off on a fannish level...he was always gracious and chatty even when he was a so-called Pop Star...he got us to pretend we were in The Teardrops once and sign autographs for fans with him...got a lot of time for the bloke...I love a lot of the groups that he champions on Head Heritage, so our tastes seem to have run in parallel over the years...

11:16 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

I do like Cope, he knows his Krautrock, psychedelia, pop obscurities, punk, paleolithic stone circles ... he's a real polymath, bless him. Head Heritage ... I love the way Cope champions stuff he's genuinely into, as opposed to Bongo's constant referencing of rock giants (someone wrote recently of his clumsy attempts to write U2 into rock history), hoping we'll place him in the same company.
He's another one of that ilk, Richard Ashcroft ... although he's more interested in evangelizing for himself than any political idea. But definitely a rabble-rouser, all that holding his arms aloft and shouting "c'mon!" I remember Mark E. Smith reviewing the singles for NME one time and they showed him a Verve 45 and told him that Ashcroft reckoned he could levitate (before they got big ... he was still known as Mad Richard) ... Smith came back with the magnificent grumpy old geezer retort: "God help us if there's a war!" ... often used that one since.

Yes, Tony Ogden ... such a young age, really ... a shame.

7:52 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Yeh, Ashcroft / The Verve ... derivative and lightweight. He's from Haydock, in St. Helens, I believe. I used to work in Haydock, and some of my family live there. I know it well; so much so that I know it's in England. How, then, did Ashcroft develope that slackjawed Southern US way of - er - singing? He's merely thin for a living - bless his cotton socks. The Verve pretended they were all from Wigan, I seem to recall. I love that kind of thing: '...Yeh, I'm from London...'. 'Oh, which bit?'. '...Bedford...'. Hmmmhhh. Yeh, I'm living in north London myself - fucking Northampton it's called! St. Helens is deeply unfashionable! - mines, glass and rugby were it before Johnny Vegas. He might be a bit of an appear-anywhere-comedy-slut now, but JV's early stand-up was nothing short of magical and moving.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

More Johnny Vegas:

A christmas show he did, at The Citadel, St. Helens, in late 90s. He threw carrier bags into the audience. Pretty dangerous this - since they contained scissors, rolls of tape, lots of card and paper. He asked us to make decorations. We did. We really did. He came back on, and was deeply moved, you could tell. It had something magical. He kept saying this isn't comedy, we're making memories. And we were. He had one criticism, though. As he said: '...There's a perfectly good photocopier upstairs, I can't believe no-one has photocopied their arse..'. Within 20 minutes, the strings of decorations were adorned by A4-sized arse-shots. Wonderful.

First time I saw him, he finished the show singing 'NewYork, New York', dangerously stood on a beer crate, on apolished table, near a barrier in front of the stage. Almost everyone had left. He wasstill singing; like the pub drunk, which, I believe, is how his act began - in The Brown Edge, Thatto Heath, where he comes from. As we passed, he fell off his perch, and landed chest-side-down on the barrier. He got up, big nasty red mark across his chest, and said '...Thanks for coming. Sorry it was a bit shit. It'll be better next time...'. We couldn't breath for laughing. It was pretty disturbing, too; as great comedy can be.

11:28 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Ha ha ... Ashcroft and his whole rock'n'roll stance ... American accent and all ... born in St. Helens doesn't have that wide-screen Springsteenesque ring to it.

Yes, at his best, Vegas has that air about him, often teetering on the edge of embarrassment, often very disturbing. Molly finds him very poignant.
I like that in a comedy performer ... the Lenny Bruce thing, when you never know what they'll come out with next.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Thing is - places like St. Helens are as culturally fertile as anywhere in the UK, on a person by person basis. It's just that there is no infastructure there; in fact, those with supposed influence in such places actively war against anything interesting developing. There is a false real politik doled out; as if foregrounding some basic truth, some harsh but honest social reality. Towns are a killer in that respect; especially big towns, I feel. It is the same here in Northampton; but worse, because there is the complication of being near the capital, but not that near. That does two things, it seems to me. Firstly, there is an insecure younger sibling syndrome going on; wherein many people here are always trying to compensate for not being IN the capital. Secondly, London sucks in so much that Northampton feels peripheral. In the North West, as I was, there is Liverpool and Manchester; and these do similar things to other places in NW, on one level, but to a much lesser extent. There, such issues did not intrude to the extent of either causing one to plump for compensating empty big talk or act as a general demotivator. One knows one is on the outskirts there, so one gets on with creating substance, fun, reality. Factory was a good example; as was the Manchester punk scene; as was the Liverppol bands we've discussed. I'm sure that being IN London doesn't make any real difference in terms of opportunities being accessible. Geographical proximity doesn't guarantee access, of course; and there are trainsto London on a regular basis! For me, as I've said, tourist sites apart, London is more a series of joined-up towns and villages. Perhaps mentality and perception are what matters. So Ashcroft's swagger in that Bittersweet Symphony video; so the inverted snobbery of the North toward the capital. At least there's a dynamic in there! Here, in The Midlands it is neither fish nor foul; neither muckling nor mickling, to quote Billy Liar! It'll all be underwater in 50 years anyway!

2:10 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

London sucks, full stop, I sometimes think. Geographical proximity ... yes, it's done nothing for me ... we often ask what we're doing in London ... few good art galleries, good cinemas, gig spaces ... is that enough to keep us here?
I've been to 2 gigs in the past years ... (Blurt both times, actually)... is that worth staying in a rapidly falling-to-pieces city?
I'm all for Ashcroft's swagger in that respect ... self-preservation.
As Ballard says, regarding living in Shepperton -I don't actually live here, it's just a reference on a map.
Ballard also thinks that real creativity is bred on the outskirts. which is often the case.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Your two JGB citations are apt, and I agree with both. I seldom think about Northampton, except as an idea, a set of issues, etc.

Yes, often people in London do not 'use' London as often as others who live elsewhere. I've had London friends say as much lots of times. It costs so much to live there. So if one is not benefitting from that location, the cost, as it were, is just a burden. But, as acomplicating factor, there is that whole world of perception, as I hinted at earlier. Perhaps even saying 'I live in London' has a positive effect; perhaps it feels more dynamic; even if it is ultimately superficial.

I too am 'for' the Ashcroft swagger in the sense in which you defend it. It housed no substance, though, is the problem. He just ends up being another imitation Mick Jagger; and the Vince Noir character from The Mighty Boosh is a better, more interesting example of that ploy, I feel!

11:30 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

All mouth, no substance, that was Ashcroft's problem ... all these rock cliches ... the last thing we need is another Jagger wannabe. I am reminded of Pete Wylie and his wonderful phrase 'the race against rockism' ... although poor Pete was rather a victim of all that stuff, too.
Ha, ha, give us Vince Noir instead.

London ... it's becoming a joke - everywhere you go there are giant hoardings bearing the mayor's logo ... millions being spent on social planning nobody voted for, city hall filled to the rafters with unelected, unaccountable bagmen for Livingstone.
And as an alternative, I believe the Tories might offer us Mike Read(!) It would be laughable if it wasn't so tragic.

7:45 AM  
Blogger rockmother said...

I've worked with Ashcroft and he's a bigmouth obnoxious twat. I'm not really sure who he is trying to be but if I had to choose between him and Liam Gallagher (who has also got that irritating pseudoswagger) I'd choose Ashcroft any day. He's actually quite intelligent but pretends not to be which can be quite frustrating.

Dr Ant - I like your analogy or description of London being loads of joined up villages - I often think of it like that - makes it more bearable. And yes - I'm with Molly on Johnny Vegas being beautifully delicately poignant - he has often made me want to weep with sadness even though he is primarily meant to be (and is) very funny.

10:13 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Yes, on balance, I'd say Ashcroft is brighter than Liam .... but then again, who isn't?
Didn't they both filch that Neanderthal swagger from Ian Brown? Who, again, isn't the brightest spark around.

The thing about Johnny Vegas is you're never quite sure where the line between him and his act is drawn ... I used to watch him on 'Shooting Stars' and couldn't quite work out how vunerable he was ... the way that oddly tremulous voice issues from that large frame ... he's something of an idiot savant, I think.

7:37 AM  
Blogger rockmother said...

Oh yes - he was quite strange on Shooting Stars but I just put that down to being really pissed - which was sad too in it's own garish way. I used to love Shooting Stars - in fact, Vic and Bob in general were brilliant.

10:23 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

I always liked 'S.R.' for Will Self, too ... that nice little deadpan, superior way of his.

5:13 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Thanks Rockmother. I love London personally - as it is where things I like reside: art stuff, buildings, places. I used to go very regularly, when I lived up North.

I agree with you both, L Gallagher is pretty objectionable, isn't he? And dead right Anthony, I reckon he and Ashcroft did pinch all that knuckle-dragging monkey swagger from Ian Brown. Very overrated bunch of people in toto, I think. I could never see what all the fuss was about with The Stone Roses, either: The Bryds with effects pedals and a few other things chucked in, all from the 60s.

Johnny Vegas is as you say. I remember a very early review in The Gaurdian which said as much, too. That was when he was up for The Perrie (sp?) Prize - which was won by Bill Bailey, I seem to recall. BB great, too, I think. Love Black Books; an early bonding thing for me and Annie.

Vic and Bob - I used to love. But I think by the time of Shooting Stars they were losing it. It had it's moments, but Big Night Out and Smell of Reeves and Mortimer were consistently sublime, I think. Great kind of Labour Club surrealism. The 'Master Chef' sketch is truly disturbing - my favourite brand of comedy.

Will Self - brilliant. He and Stephen Fry are quite possibly the brainiest people in England. (Comedians as intellectuals is a big talking point in our house. I always think of Barry Cryer - so sharp, amazing brain.) QI is always worth a watch. Never thought much of Alan Davis before that; but he plays the fool very well, and in an endearing fashion, I think.

7:18 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Met Will Self a number of times when I was working in Waterstone's ... very decent bloke, and signed a load of books for me.
Comedians as intellectuals ... wasn't Les Dawson a highly cultured man? Going off to Paris to be a serious novelist and all that ... odd that he ends up gurning for a living on TV ... but I always found him hilarious, particularly when he was in drag.
I like witty comedy ... and then I like stuff like Tommy Trinder and Arthur Askey. It's waht made Britain great.

8:35 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

By intellectual, I mean more suppleness of mind, reflexivity, lateral-thinking and the like. The connections comedians make belies such things, I think. Some surreal but revelatory juxtaposition is like bringing a new object into Being, if you get what I mean.

Willie Rushton - quoted before, but I love it...
When asked for translations from the French for Bidet, he immediately says '...2 days before D-Day...'. Laughed my stupid head off.

12:51 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Willie Rushton, given to flights of verbal fancy. Funny old buffer.
Yes, think Surrealism works best in a humourous rather than po-faced context.

6:24 PM  
Blogger Sid Smith said...

Hi there,
I'm an old Crimso and Roxy fan so just wanted to say I enjoyed reading through this exchange.

Too many varied topics covered to comment on in detail but as someone living in Newcastle I love visiting London for events etc., and am fairly nerdy about its history, psychogeography etc. via people like Iain Sinclair and Ackroyd etc. Though it has a powerful vibe to it I'm happy living where I do and appreciate the smaller scale of thigns accordingly.

Hate the Ashcroft swagger and now I think about it, I hate the music - big empty gesture music.

I was brought up on radio comedy such as Hancock, Clitheroe Kid etc Current crop a bit dull save the excellent Ed Reardon's Week.

Re QI: I hated the first episode but couldn't help but watch it again and now am completely hooked. Fry is irritating and smug but highly addictive - I find myself willing him on to yet more excesses of erudition. I love the way he manages to sound like he knows all that stuff. Come to think of it, the bugger probably does.

8:51 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

The Clitheroe Kid ... now you're talking! Comic genius.
Yes, Ashcroft and his ilk , the big gestures, the empty rhetoric ... when Ashcroft indulges in all that "c'mon!" bollocks, I think he thinks it's some wonderful moment of affirmation, whereas what he's really doing is inviting the audience to worship him. Too Nuremberg Rally for me.
I haven't seen 'QI', keep missing loads of TV, but do find Fry's donnish persona quite funny ... I have to say I occasionally find 'irritating and smug' very amusing ... I dare say I've been accused of just those attributes myself ... no, really ...

9:58 AM  

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