It seems like just days since I started this years With Just A Hint Of Mayhem Advent blog posts and yet here we are at Day 17 already. More than two-thirds of the way through. So not only is it December 17th it is also the day that you get two songs with seventeen in the title. I’m getting a little concerned that I’ll be able to find two at least half decent songs for each day up to 25th December. But I think I can!
Anyway enough of my mindless prattling, what is the first song for today I hear you cry. Well it is a beautiful song from 1975; it is Janis Ian with the Grammy winning “At Seventeen”. The song failed to chart in the UK although I seem to recall that it got a lot of airplay in 1975/ 76. It went to number three on the US Billboard chart and remains her biggest hit. Janis didn’t want to release the song at first as she felt it was too personal. The song has been covered by Celine Dion for her current album ‘Loved Me Back To Life’. In addition to piano and guitar Janis also plays organ, harpsichord, French horn and flute. She had mastered all of these by the time she reached her teens. Janis also writes science fiction and has had a number of short stories published.
The second song today comes from punk icons the Sex Pistols and is called “Seventeen”. The song was the first track on side two of their only studio album; the timeless punk classic ‘Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols’. The bass on the album was played by either Glen Matlock or Steve Jones as Sid Vicious was not a particularly competent bassist. However it seems that Mr Vicious may have played his bass on the album’s eighth track; “Bodies”. “Seventeen” was one of 15 songs that the band played at their final gig (not including reunions) at the Winter Ballroom in San Francisco on January 1978. US hardcore punk band Total Chaos have covered the song for the ‘Never Mind The Sex Pistols, Here’s The Tribute’ album in 2000.
Teddy Thompson, Adam Cohen and Rufus Wainwright on the same bill. Could this be the greatest ever offspring of famous musical fathers and mothers show? Yes it could be and it probably was. How do I know? Because I was there at the Barbican in York on Wednesday night.
Teddy Thompson, son of Richard and Linda Thompson took to the stage first armed with just his acoustic guitar. He is a real troubadour with great style, great songs and a superb dry wit. In my opinion an inspired choice to support Rufus. Incidentally Teddy is also a member of Mister Wainwright’s band.
Adams Cohen son of Leonard Cohen is a very talented showman indeed. He has clearly invented the great song writing gene from his Dad. He also did a rather amusing ‘guess whose son I am thread between songs. In fact the between song banter was intelligent and humorous. Especially the Celine Dion and George Michael references. All of this helped him achieve great rapport with and support from the audience. But what cemented that was the songs; his own compositions are truly special and he also interprets his father’s material very well too. Adam’s “I Love You” (I think that may be the title) is a stupendous song that ought to become a classic. I would definitely go and see Mr Cohen Junior again.
Rufus Wainwright, son of Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle is a true showman with undoubtedly one of the best voices of his generation. I have heard him described as the gayest man on the planet. I’m not sure how you measure that, but he is certainly one of the campest. His stage clothes look like they came from Rupert The Bear’s wardrobe. I have loved his music since I first acquired a copy of his ‘Want One’ album so I was really looking forward to his show and believe me I wasn’t disappointed. He and his band were on stage for around an hour and forty minutes in which they performed new stuff, old stuff and a cover of one of his Dad’s songs which was shared equally among the whole band. He also gave the spotlight to a couple of band members too. He played one of my favourites in “Going To A Town” as well.
But he saved the best until last. After Rufus and the band left the stage we were waiting in anticipation for the usual type of encore. But what happened transcended any other encore I have seen before. Some of the band came back on stage dressed in their best funk and soul brother outfits and were followed by a musclebound Cupid, who proceeded to whip the crowd into a dance frenzy of mega proportions. Well ok he get everyone on their feet at least. We were all stomping and clapping for the return of the newly anointed Rufus Apollo who appeared from the back of the auditorium wearing a toga like outfit a mask and a blonde wig. He and Cupid started some of the crowd in a conga and lead them onto the stage. Rufus and the band then closed proceedings with a barnstorming version of the truly wonderful “Gay Messiah”. This Rufus bloke knows how to put on a good show and a great party, I order you to go and see him. Don’t delay get out and buy your tickets now!
Please note that none of the pictures and clips are from the show at the Barbican, I was enjoying the show way too much to get my camera out!
So here we are again at the most important annual event on the European Music Calendar, the Eurovision Song Contest. OK I was only joking right! I intend to give you a brief opinion on each country’s performance, if I can be bothered to watch the whole thing of course! I am also typing this real-time in case you wondered. Germany won last year, so who will it be this year? Blue? Jedward? I bloody hope not! Check out the official Eurovision 2011 site by clicking here. You can also check out my post on last years contest by clicking here.
Denmark – looked like rockers, but clearly they couldn’t rock their way out of a paper record sleeve
Lithuania – Typical Eurovision ballad. Why was she signing for the deaf? Would being deaf be an advantage when watching this show? Anyway the song is the opposite of a Chinese Takeaway meal, you certainly won’t want more of this dirge after half an hour.
Hungary – aaah some Eurodisco at last! But why didn’t her dressmaker finish the dress? Some of the dancers appeared to be wearing illuminated hoodies, so does that mean you could get an electronic ASBO? Either way they certainly wouldn’t be allowed to visit my local corner shop.
Ireland – It’s bloody Jedward, are we in a parallel universe? Surprisingly good graphics and shoulder pads borrowed from Dynasty. It pains me to say it of these two talented twats but I think this damned shite could win. It has everything but talent.
Sweden – well it’s hardly Abba is it? But it has a hook and an 80s disco beat. If you name your song ‘Popular’ though is that going to be a help or a hindrance? Personally I can see the irony in a song with that title finishing last with nul points.
Estonia – well it has to be said that for a fashion student, that is an awful dress. The dancers are like the people who failed the Zombie auditions for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. As for her song I think it has created a new music genre; Dull Disco!
Greece – at the risk of sounding xenophobic what was that guy doing between the singers parts? Kebab Rap? Catwoman says the set looks like they’re about to be beamed up.
Russia – by far the best of the night so far on both the singing and dancing fronts. Apart from the spelling of the singer’s name on the back of their leather jackets.
France – apparently this is the favourite. The singer is supposedly the youngest professional tenor in the world at just 21. Not my favourite style of music but he is damned good. This really would be an interesting winner. As left field as Finland’s Lordi a few years ago.
Italy – If Jamie Cullum were Italian he’d be this bloke, only slightly better. Another left field option though, jazziest song of the night so far. Top marks to Italy and France for daring to be different.
Switzerland – a bit of a light almost reggae style beat going on with this one. Apparently she was discovered busking. Not a bad song overall apart from being a little heavy on the na na na na na’s but she certainly has the looks to be a star.
United Kingdom – this is it, it’s Blue. A pretty good performance, although a long way from being a great song. But it does sound like something that would go down well all over Europe. Did Simon Webbe forget to pack his shirt?
Moldova – possibly the worst of the night so far. A poor Beastie Boys tribute band with added brass, unicycles, monocles and the worst hats ever seen in Eurovision. How did this get through the semi finals?
Germany – It’s Lena back to defend her title. She won with “Satellite” last year. I can’t see her being back next year personally. She has a distinctive voice but a really undistinctive (is that a word, probably not?) song.
Romania – the lead singer of this band is actually English. A pretty good song to boot as well.
Austria -well this one really is crap from a Celine Dion wannabe
Azerbaijan – the best thing I could say about this one is that it’s harmless, inoffensive and forgettable.
Slovenia – nice looking girl, not sure about the leather fingerless mitts though or the dress. In my opinion this is very much a mid table song; not a big winner and not a big loser.
Iceland – reminiscent of songs that won in the 70s. Is it me or does it have a whiff of Brotherhood Of Man’s “Save Your Kisses For Me”. Catwoman likes it though.
Spain – they say that the winner more often comes from the last five performances. If that’s the case this year this might be the one. Poppy, good beat, easy on the ear and very good Eurovision song. It looks like they’ll do better than the UK in Eurovision as well as the football world cup.
Ukraine – accompanied by a sand painter who won Ukraine’s Got Talent. He is good though, but what does he add to the song? As for the singer, why was she wearing dead chicken epaulettes. The artist was better!
Serbia – It’s like Eastern Europes version of Ready Steady Go, where is Cathy McGowan when you need her. But one of the best songs of the night, a really cool 60s vibe to it. Sign them up for the next Austin Powers movie!
Georgia – the rockiest song of the night, just not really a very good song the singer has a great voice though. But crap rap and the outfits looked like cast offs from the Tron movie.
As I said earlier I am typing this real time, so before all the scoring starts here is my prediction for the top 3. I would be very surprised if I am even close to being correct, but here goes anyway 1 – Spain, 2 – Russia, 3 – Serbia. Check the real results below.
And the winner is……….. <drum roll> ………………… Azerbaijan, definitely not one of my favourites. Italy were second and Sweden third. So none of my predictions were correct as I suspected. The UK finished in the top half of the table picking up a few votes from most countries. We were however just behind Ireland’s Jedward. Switzerland came last!
Take a look below at the video for the winning song “Running Scared” from Ell & Nikki
Just a few morsels of news for you with this post, ok for a couple of these ‘news’ might be stretching it and ‘olds’ might be a more apt description. Especially this first one. Many of you will have no doubt heard of Rebecca Black. She is the young lady who recently released what many consider to be one of the worst songs and worst videos ever. There has been an awful lot of nasty, vicious, vitriolic comment about her song. So other than saying I really don’t think the song or video are very good I will try not to add to what has already been said. The key thing that concerns me about this sad affair is that the poor girl recorded the song for a vanity music label; the Ark Music Factory. So now everyone can be a singer, just pay a few grand, or indeed get your parents to stump up the cash and you will get a song, a guest rapper, a vocoder and a naff video. sounds great doesn’t it? But surely you need talent as well? But in these days of X Factor and Idol that probably isn’t the case. Now that in my opinion is a really sad state of affairs. the one saving grace for Rebecca (apart from the millions of YouTube hits) is that the proceeds from any sales of her song “Friday” will go towards the earthquake relief in Japan. judge for yourself, if you haven’t already, by watching the video below. I would also love to hear your opinions on vanity record labels.
The BBC reported today that David Byrne off of the Talking Heads has settled his case against former Governor of Florida, Charlie Crist after the politician used the Talking Heads song “Road To Nowhere” to attack his opponent in the race for the senate. personally I am really pleased that Byrne took Crist on. What do you think? Read the story on the Beeb by clicking here.
It has now been confirmed that U2 have achieved the highest grossing tour ever with their 360° tour which began back in 2009. They still have 20 dates to go too, but they have already grossed $558 million. That even allows for missing a few dates, including Glasto last year, due to Mr Hewson’s back problems. Are they really worth it?
Richard Rich and Max Tannone have put together a brilliant free EP based on mixing hip hop sounds with the soundtrack to Duncan Jones (son of David Robert Jones) excellent movie ‘Moon’. Click here to download all the tracks. It’s called the Selene Project and has nothing to do with song strangler Celine Dion, it’s spelled very differently people!
Finally I was honoured to accompany the delectable Catwoman (aka Catherine Lee, my fiancée) to the studios of Radio York on Saturday where live on air she reviewed the newspapers. Once again she did an excellent job, you can still hear the show for three more days by clicking on Radio York’s Julia Booth’s page here. You can also check out the website for her excellent Virtual Assistant company, Kaleidoscope Business Services by clicking here and she would also love you to comment on her rather spiffing series of blogs.
OK so I haven’t posted much lately but I couldn’t let a momentous event like the death of Michael Jackson go by without posting could I? As many of you know the first gig I ever saw was the Jackson 5 at the Wembley Empire Pool (now known as the WembleyArena). I went with a school friend, Brian Taylor who later found fame as an incredibly talented drummer for the Tom Robinson Band and the Stiff Little Fingers amongothers. (Brian if by some weird twist of fate you’re actually reading this feel free to get in touch). The importance of the group to Motown was apparent in the choice of support acts; Junior Walker and the All Stars and a pre-fame Commodores.
If my memory serves me well the Jackson 5 had recently released the fabulous “Looking Through The Windows” single, which I still love to this day. In fact I still play a few Jackson 5 songs in my DJ sets. Most recently I ran “I Want You Back” next to “ABC“. Indeed the former has been the ring tone on my mobile phone for months now. Those early J5 songs were fantastically produced, supremely well written and perhaps most importantly performed so brilliantly. I think that at the time, perhaps because I was pretty much the same age as Michael Jackson (he was born in August 1958 and I was born in January 1959) the J5 were by far my favourite group. I’m not ashamed to admit either that I used to mime to those early singles in front of the mirror using my hairbrush (for in those days not only did I possess one I actually needed to use it) as a microphone. Go on there must be more of you who did that kind of thing, like maybe miming to Hendrix using your tennis racket as a guitar? Post a comment about it, let’s have a series of ‘Confessions Of A Teenage Mime Artist’
Anyway back to the late great Michael Jackson as the J5 was the first live act I ever saw (I’m not counting the dreadful covers bands that played in hotels when my folks took me to Spain as a youngster – “Guantanamera” in-bloody-deed!) I was always going to interested in them to some degree. I followed their recording career quite closely throughout the 70s. Stuff like “Dancing Machine” is excellent. Then they left Motown to join Epic and produced some great stuff there too, for me the best being “Enjoy Yourself” and “Show You The Way To Go“. I felt that from around 1972 until “Off The Wall” Michael’s solo releases were at best patchy. But when “Off The Wall” hit the record racks that has to be the moment he began to ascend the stairs to super-stardom. He probably reached a level of fame that no one else ever has. In terms of fame he was probably far bigger than the Beatles or Elvis ever were. That level of celebrity must bring such pressure to bear on the way you need to live your life and maybe that’s perhaps where things began to go a little awry. Now is not the time to discuss the allegations of child abuse and whether I believe he was guilty or not is irrelevant. But I will say that it might have been better if he wasn’t surrounded by ‘yes men’ who did nothing to control his excesses. Did those people really care about him or about their own wealth? I’ll let you make your own minds up on that one! What is undeniable though is that he was one of the most talented individuals ever to have graced the world of music. His contemporaries from an age perspective at least were Madonna and Prince. Both of them are also supremely talented, but on the same level as MJ? I don’t think so. I reckon that Michael would probably appear in the top tens of more music fans than any other artist. What do you think dear readers?
The ‘Off The Wall’ album was the first in what proved in my opinion at least to be a trilogy of his greatest recordings. This was followed by the juggernaut that was ‘Thriller’ and then by the underrated (in my opinion) ‘Bad’. After that I never felt he reached those artistic highs again and I’m not sure that he ever would, but now we’ll never know will we?
‘Thriller’ sold in excess of 50 million copies worldwide, I wonder how many more copies will be sold now he has died? Remember that people tend to buy lots of product of immediately deceased stars. Just recall all the hits that Elvis and John Lennon had after they died, in some cases many years after they died
I would like to think that history looks reasonably kindly on Michael Jackson. He was a truly talented individual and yes he had flaws, some allegedly quite serious. But then how many of us can say we are completely flawless?
So let’s celebrate MJ’s life with another view of his superb performance at the Motown 25th Anniversary show in 1983. Click here to see it. Additionally Mojo Magazine has an excellent collection of Jacko videos on their website, click here to see them.
Also did any of you ever see his collaboration with my favourite author, Stephen King? It was a short but superb movie called “Ghosts”
I happened to visit HMV at lunchtime today and oh boy have they moved quickly. Nothing but Jacko on the sound system and stacks of his CDs now occupying prime positions in the store whereas last week they were all in the sale items (2 for £10). I know that sales people are often seen as cynical but to do that so soon after the guy is dead really takes the biscuit!
The tributes from other celebrities are quite interesting too, here are some words from Celine Dion; “He was not only a talented person, but he was unique – a genius. It’s such a loss. It feels like when Kennedy died.” Now it’s kinda strange that she seems to remember how that felt when Kennedy was killed in 1963 and Ms Dion wasn’t born until 1968.
Thanks to Popbitch for the following joke I know that the usual crop of sick jokes are doing the rounds as well, but I actually found this one quite amusing, here goes, but don’t read it if you think you might feel just a little bit offended ok. You have been warned;
There will be a post-mortem today to determine which was the cause of death:
A) Sunshine B) Moonlight C) Good Times D) Boogie
And a bit of fun to try and cheer up Jacko’s fans, here is an excellent Bollywood version of Thriller (thanks again to Popbitch for pointing this one out too)
As a bit of an epilogue to this story I actually received my 15 minutes of fame this morning (well more like 15 seconds actually) when I made a brief appearance on BBC Radio York (thank you to Liam for arranging that!) this morning to comment on MJ and how it was the first gig I’d ever seen.
You folks may be surprised to find that the usual format has returned for this post, it’s had a few days rest and is now ready to appear again, but dam you should see the rider it requested! I didn’t know it was possible to buy baby oil and lard in those kind of quantities! Talking of riders, is everyone aware of what a rider is? Yes I know it’s someone who sits on a horse Jes! But thanks for the input anyway. But that’s not what it is in this context. According to Wiki, which to be fair isn’t always 100% correct the ‘hospitality rider’ is a list of requests for the comfort of the artist on the day of the show. Sometimes this document is provided along with the technical rider; other times, it is provided much closer to the performance date. Thanks to those wonderful people at the ‘Smoking Gun’ website you can now view the recent riders of more than 270 acts, there is some interesting reading there, trust me! Click here to see it. Apparently one of David Bowie’s requirements is that each room must have at least two fans, I presume he means air coolers and not groupies! Hey did you see how I just sneaked in another DB reference?
I also feel bad that I didn’t post this earlier, but many of you will be aware of the death of British TV icon Wendy Richard. Wendy is perhaps best known for her roles as Miss Brahms in 70s sitcom ‘Are You Being Served’ and as Pauline Fowler in Eastenders. But wait I thought this was a music blog I hear you cry………. louder please! well yes you’re right it is a music blog and it is absolutely right to feature Wendy Richard in it too. She was the uncredited voice on Mike Sarne’s 1962 UK number one “Come Outside“. Wendy was paid just £15 for that session and the song went on to sell around a half a million copies. In 1964 she also made a cameo appearance in the Beatles movie film ‘Help!’ but her contribution sadly ended up on the cutting room floor.
There are two birthdays today, Friday 27th March, well ok there are loads more, but just two on this post! Starting with Mr Tony Banks off of Genesis who is 59 today. He was a founding member of Genesis and along with Mike Rutherford one of the only two original members to have remained with the band for the whole of it’s existence, since 1967 in fact. In the early sixties Banks attended Charterhouse School in Sussex in the UK where he met Rutherford and also Peter Gabriel. Although Tony Banks has provided occasional vocals for Genesis and some on his solo work he has also employed an eclectic group of vocalists for his solo projects. These include Nik Kershaw, Toyah Willcox, Fish and Jim Diamond. Here is Tony with Genesis playing “Mama”
Second and final birthday for today is that of Mariah Carey, she reaches the ripe old age of 39 today. Did you know that Mariah’s folks named her after the song “They Call The Wind Mariah” from the musical “Paint Your Wagon”. They called the wind Mariah eh? I can feel a fart joke coming on but I’ll resist! Wow that’s a first maybe I’m reaching maturity, bloody hell I hope not! Mariah is often referred to as the ‘Queen Of Pop’ (oops there’s another fart gag there surely?). Although it’s hardly an exclusive title as at various times the following divas have also been given that accolade; Celine Dion, Beyonce, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Britney Spears and Madonna. Here comes Mariah with “Hero”
On this day in1973 the late great (well the l’s & g’s have been resting too) Jerry Garcia off of the Grateful Dead was arrested for speeding in New Jersey. The Police discovered cocaine and LSD in his car. But strangely they discovered no speed, hmmmmm…… is that grounds for wrongful arrest? Jerry’s full name was Jerome John Garcia and he was named after the composer Jerome Kern. In 1987 Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream produced the Cherry Garcia flavour, the first ice cream ever named after a rock musician. For a month after Jerry’s death in 1995 the ice cream was produced using black cherries rather than the usual red as a form of mourning for Garcia. For all you Deadheads out there here is Jerry with the Dead and “Ripples”
And finally on this day in 2000 the late great (well they did have a very, very good rest those ‘ole l’s & g’s) Ian Dury died after a long battle with cancer. When Ian first confirmed that he had cancer he was said to have told family and friends, “I haven’t got cancer, but cancer’s got me and it’s going to have to bloody deal with me!” That has to be th epitome of positive thinking, what a great man. Also the UK tabloids had been sniffing around and offering silly money for their ‘IAN DURY IN CANCER SHOCK’ headlines, but he beat them on that too. Ian went to the Guardian newspaper and gave them a UK press exclusive on his condition in exchange for a donation to a cancer charity. I’ll say it again, what a great man! Apparently the Blockheads are writing and recording again, this time with Dave The Draw, Dury’s friend and minder on vocals. It would have been all to easy to show a clip of “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick”, so I won’t, here’s “What A Waste” instead, with a great intro from Mr Peter Cook too, from the TV show Revolver!