With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

“Look at you, the record stops will you run, or flirt ’til it hurts?” January 19, 2011


Let me give you a bit of a rant warning before you read this post, just so you know! It would appear that HMV are now in some significant degree of financial trouble. Whilst I have a dislike of faceless corporate record/ music stores, HMV is effectively the last national left in the UK. Even their range has fallen considerably in the last couple of years as well. So along with the ongoing and sad demise of the independent record shop and HMV’s precarious position just where the hell will future generations buy their physical music? Downloading will continue its inexorable rise, both legally and illegally, but for physical purchases what are we left with? We’re left with just a handful of small chains (Fopp etc.) and fewer and fewer independent stores. Although I do believe that Fopp were rescued by HMV who still have a stake in them. That leaves the likes of WH Smith and the Grocers (Tesco, Asda etc.) who all seem to operate an ‘if it’s in the chart we’ll stock it policy’. So that pretty much takes away all key channels apart from the internet and downloads for new bands and artists.

A couple of the major labels (Sony and Universal) are looking to spice up interest in the singles market by releasing singles on the same day that they begin airplay. Read about it by clicking here. This will certainly allow songs to rise up the charts, just like those hazy old days of my youth, rather than enter high and then crash and burn after a couple of weeks. This will clearly help downloads, but will it help sell the physical product? If the only place you can get that product is on-line (Play.com etc) then I don’t think it will.

Sadly I believe that we are truly heading for a time when digital music will outstrip every other form. Sure, vinyl is making a bit of a comeback, but it will never match the digital form with most of todays generation. OK you might think I’m a boring old fart and you are entitled to your opinion. But I am not advocating a wholesale return to vinyl, cassettes, 8-tracks and CDs. What I am concerned about is the ongoing demise of the record shop. We cannot let the grocers take a stranglehold on our music, which is just so wrong on many levels. With Woolworths and Borders now dead and HMV potentially heading the same way we must support all the remaining small chains and independent record shops. So next time you are tempted to buy a CD on impulse in the supermarket resist the urge and find your nearest proper record shop. I know that you may pay a little more, but these people offer excellent service and they are a million times more knowledgeable about their ‘product’ than pretty much anyone on the supermarket checkout. But if you are a music aficionado who works on a supermarket checkout then please accept my apologies. So you know what to do, boycott music from large grocers and get it from a proper record shop, trust me it’s a better experience all round!

 

Steve Harley at the Grand Opera House in York 28th May 2010 May 29, 2010


Last night I went to see Steve Harley off of Cockney Rebel at the Grand Opera House in York. I saw him there four or five years ago as well. He was excellent then and he was superb last night as well. He played some new stuff and classic oldies, not just the big hits. Stuff like “Sebastian”, “Judy Teen” and “Tumbling Down” both of which I love.

The band were excellent and include Stuart Elliott the original drummer from Cockney Rebel who formed the band with Steve in 1972. According to Wikipedia Steve is now 59, that makes me feel old, but also it seems at 51 I’m not far behind. The backing vocals were provided by the Lartey Sisters, they were also his support act. Well worth turning up on time for, unlike quite a number of people who stayed in the bar. Check them out on MySpace here. Every member of the band was on top form, a supremely skilled bunch. I thought the guitarist looked a little like Stephen King, which is fine with me as I am a massive King fan

He played two cover versions. “Here Comes The Sun” which he had a hit with in the 70s and also a Daniel Johnston song, which he handled really well

Steve Harley has a brilliant rapport with his audience and showed that with some of the between song banter and he also told a great story about busking in the early 70s. The song I was most pleased to hear again, because I haven’t heard it in ages was “Mr Raffles (Man It Was Mean)” Overall he was on stage for around two hours and as you might have guessed he climaxed with “(Come Up And See Me) Make Me Smile” He did mention how most local radio DJs and much of the press seem to assume that song is pretty much all he has done. But added some good words for Johnnie Walker and Steve Wright, both of whom in his opinion really ‘get it’ I’m not surprised either, I have always admired the brilliant Johnnie Walker.

So overall it was an excellent night, just like the last time and probably the next time as well! Well done and thanks to you Mr Harley!

Check out Steve’s official website here

You can purchase Steve’s new album by clicking here

 

“Faces look ugly when you’re alone” April 5, 2010


Hello peeps, long time no post, but I am resolving to post more this month. So let’s just see if I can manage it shall we?

Anyway the subject of this post is the film ‘The Strangers’, ok I know it’s not a new movie, but I was out with friends last week and they said that it was the scariest movie they had ever seen. Now for me when someone says that you really have to see it. Don’t you? I went into HMV this week and bought the DVD of the movie, it was on offer for only £7. The first concern I had was that it was just a C15 certificate (for those of you across the pond that means that you must be at least 15 to see it or buy it).

So this afternoon we sat down to watch the film. Personally I thought it was probably the least scary Scary Movie I have ever seen. Even Catwoman wasn’t scared. So to our friends A & G (who shall remain nameless) I have to ask, just how many supposedly scary films have you seen? Overall I thought it was generally a poor movie. Very darkly lit, to the extent of not being able to see properly. The sound recording meant that much of the script appeared mumbled. I wasn’t very impressed and in fact if anyone wants to buy the DVD I’d be happy to sell it for £7 plus postage, but personally I wouldn’t waste your money!

The moment that two members of Slipknot began a revolt over wearing masks (somehow I think I will be taking some crap for this comment!)

There was another moment in my life when someone warned me about a scary film. It was back in 1974 and my Mum showed me a tabloid report of teenagers having killed themselves after seeing ‘The Exorcist’. Her words to me were along the lines of “don’t you dare go and see this film” It was an X Certificate (the 70s version of todays C18) and I was underage at just 15, but that had never stopped me before. So I conferred with a couple of mates who had been given exactly the same warning from their parents and obviously when we realised we’d all been warned our simple curiosity meant that we simply had to see it. We did the usual of sending the tallest in the group to buy a ticket as he looked the oldest. He went into the theatre and opened the emergency exit briefly to allow us other two in. (We were such criminals weren’t we?) The film was more scary than ‘The Strangers’ by a long way, although no film has yet seriously scared me ever! It was quite a good movie, although having seen it more recently I think it looks dated now. For me the funniest moment of that cinema visit was the scene where the two priests are trying to use religious faith and power to bring a levitating Linda Blair back onto the bed. They were chanting something like “The power of Christ compels you” over and over. Some wag at the back of the theatre shouted “All together now!” Well we just fell about and that probably turned many other moments in the film into more comedic moments than they actually were.

As I have said before this is a music blog so I will finish with some songs that concern strangers;

“Strangers When We Meet” – David Bowie. Originally found on the soundtrack to the excellent Buddha Of Suburbia a TV adaptation of Hanif Kureshi’s book. Also in my opinion one of the Dame’s (an NME name for Bowie in the 70s and 80s) finest singles of the 90s

Strangers In The Night” – Frank Sinatra. One of Ole’ Blue Eye’s best loved songs. The NME sometimes referred to Bryan Ferry back in the 70s as Frank Sinister after he covered a Sinatra song. They also rather amusingly referred to him as Byron Ferrari. Speaking of Frank, which we were; “To Do Is To Be” – Socrates, “To Be Is To Do” = Sartre, “DoBeDoBeDo” – Sinatra

People Are Strange” – The Doors. Jim Morrison once said “Film spectators are quiet vampires” although in the case of The Strangers they wouldn’t just be quiet they would be asleep!

Goodbye Stranger” – Supertramp. This song was included on the bands wonderful ‘Breakfast In America’ album from 1979. The song was also included on the 1999 soundtrack to the film ‘Magnolia’ which also featured “The Logical Song” and a number of songs from Aimee Mann

Mama Tried” – Merle Haggard. He was a favourite of my Mum, but why is it included here I can hear you ask? Well simply because it was used in ‘The Strangers’ and it’s also a very good song

 

“So tonight gotta leave that nine to five upon the shelf and just enjoy yourself” June 26, 2009


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.

Sadly I actually had a jacket similar to that, but it was the 70s!

Sadly I actually had a jacket similar to that, but it was the 70s!

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’

Mike on the mic

Mike on the mic

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?

A still from the Billie Jean video

A still from the Billie Jean video

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

A still from the Zombie dance in the Thriller video

A still from the Zombie dance in the Thriller video

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)

Overall the BBC coverage of Michael’s death has been excellent, check it out here.

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.

 

 
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