Ever since the hey days of those magnificent art terrorists Jim Cauty and Bill Drummond when they went under the various guises of the KLF, the Jamms, the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu and the Timelords to name but a few I have been a fan. When they made the statement that the KLF had left the building in the early 90s they pretty much stood by it. Apart from the odd release “Fuck the Millennium” was one we never really heard from them. I can’t say that I loved everything Cauty and Drummond did, with the exception of everything released by the KLF of course. But burning a million quid? Seriously what did that achieve?
Anyway the boys are back with a novel which was launched with a three day ‘happening’ in Liverpool back in August. The book is ‘2023 – A Trilogy by the Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu’. The blurb on the back cover describes the tale as “a utopian costume drama , set in the near future, written in the recent past”. It is clearly fiction and includes appearances from many people that you know, although not necessarily in the way they are portrayed in the story; John and Yoko, Banksy, Jonathan King, Extreme Noise Terror, Vladimir Putin, Michelle Obama, David Hockney, Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Alan Moore, Aloysius Parker (off of Thunderbirds), Lady Gaga (or M’Lady Gaga), Azealia Banks, Will Gompertz, George Orwell, Lord Saatchi, Sam & Dave and of course Jim Cauty and Bill Drummond.
It is probably one of the weirdest books that I have ever read and I have read some weird stuff! There are some thought provoking moments and some proper laugh out loud elements. But it works and for me it works bloody well. Is it set in a parallel universe, an alternative future? Well yes and possibly. Was it worth the wait? Damned right it was. If I say much more about this book I will probably have to add some massive spoiler alerts. Is it the last we will here of Cauty and Drummond for another 23 years? I bloody hope not. Now go out and buy the book and listen to some classic KLF tracks.
Some rather interesting artefacts from John Lennon‘s school days have recently been uncovered. A collection of his detention sheets from his time at the Quarry Bank High School for Boys in the 1950s. Lennon’s misdemeanours include fighting in class, nuisance, shoving, sabotage and just showing no interest whatsoever. That last one was probably on one of my detention sheets! One of the earlyLennon bands took their name from the school and were known as the Quarrymen. It was this band that Lennon was playing with at a fete when he met Paul McCartney for the first time. The rest ast they say is Beatles history!
The sheets were discovered in the late 70s by a teacher at the school who was asked to clear out and burn some old documents. He saw the name Lennon on some and decided to take them as a keepsake. He has given some away over the years but those that remain are up for auction on November 22nd. The documents have been verified by one of John’s best friends from his schooldays, Pete Shotton. I’m glad I’m not famous, I don’t think I’d want my school reports making it into the public domain! Click here to read the story on the BBC.
The European Union recently voted to ban the chemical compoundNeonicotinoid from pesticides. This came after a number of scientists reported that it was extremely harmful to bees and may have played a part in the decline in the worldwide Bee population.
I assume they get a buzz out of doing that!
Before the decision a number of protests were held including one in Brussels a few days ago. So why I am posting about this in my music blog? well mostly because the protesters adapted a John Lennon song to meet their needs; The were singing the line ‘all we are saying, is give bees a chance’. I love it and I suspect Lennon would have approved too. Click here to read the story on the BBC website.
It soon became clear that the chemicals were having a really strange effect on the Bee population!
So the London 2012 Olympics is over, at least until the Paralympics anyway. I truly believe that this has been an amazing Olympics and for me usurps England winning the 1966 football world cup as our greatest sporting achievement. What do you think? OK I know the Scots won’t agree with that in the first place, but I would still like to hear your thoughts.
I realise that this post comes some 24 hours after the closing ceremony, but given the musical nature of that ceremony I felt I had to post something. The Olympic stadium was once again amazing; decked out to show a London skyline that included the London Eye, Big Ben and the Gherkin to name but a few. It all kicked off with the delicious voice of Emilie Sande accompanied only by a pianist, who was playing a piano covered in newspaper. After that the tempo really took off with forty members of the cast of Stomp dancing, drumming and percussing (is that a word?) on the recreated mini London Eye in the stadium. On top of all this there was a choir singing Beatles songs.
Next up was cellist and Churchill appearing out of the top of Big Ben and reciting words from Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ which was a great link back to the superb Opening ceremony. Obviously it wasn’t really Churchill, it was Timothy Spall. This was followed by newspaper clad crowds depicting the hubbub of London. The whole thing then slowed a little for the arrival of the VIPs; Jacques Rogge (President of the IOC) who seems to make even the dullest accountant I have ever met seem exciting and prince Harry representing the Royal family. Clearly he was never going to match his grandmother’s arrival at the opening ceremony! Obviously this was followed by our rather uninspiring, in my opinion, national anthem.
The whole show was a celebration of Britain and the next vignette was real class. It was the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 countdown by Michael Caine from the ‘Italian Job’ and then the iconic three-wheeled van of Trotter’s Independent Trading blew apart and out jumped, yes you guessed it, Del Boy and Rodney in their Batman and Robin costumes. A sublime moment and a nod to one of Britain’s greatest ever comedy shows; Only Fools And Horses.
The mood then turned very much to party as madness were driven around the arena playing “Our House” from the back of a truck. This tempo was kept up by the Massed Guards Bands with a wonderful rendition of Blur’s “Parklife”. Just when you thought it couldn’t get better the stadium was filled with cyclists wearing the most amazing geometric and fluorescent hats. Two of them on tricycles which had Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe as passengers. So we were treated to a fabulous version of “West Ends Girls” on bicycles and tricycles. Could this happen anywhere but the UK? I doubt it!
One Direction were next, like Madness they were on the back of a truck, which sadly wasn’t headed to the tip. OK I have to begrudgingly admit they were at least in tune, but I still don’t like them. Interestingly they were one of just a few acts whose name was flashed onto the screen when they appeared. After that it was back to another great number from the cast of Stomp. That percussion sounded like “Spice Up Your Life” to me. was that deliberate? Who knows? An incredibly talented dance troupe who I think were called Spelbound were next to take the stage. They performed a great routine to the Beatles Sergeant Pepper classic “A Day In The Life”
To keep up the 60s vibe Kinksmeister Ray Davies came on to sing his timeless and classic love song to London; “Waterloo Sunset”. eliciting some great ‘sha la la-ing’ from the audience in the process. Emilie Sande made a return next, minus the newspaper piano and sang over a film montage of some of London 2012’s most tearful moments. The three hundred or so flag bearers entered the arena after that, including super sailor Ben Ainslie fo Britain. Elbow soundtracked this whole piece with a great little set that included the beautiful “Open Arms”. The athletes followed the arrival of the flag bearers and they were corralled into the sections of the union jack which formed the floor of the stadium. Apparently this version of the flag was designed by Damien Hirst. Indian drummers then accompanied the construction of a large structure made up of more than three hundred white boxes. One to represent each Olympic event. The backing track to this was Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill”. I had momentary butterflies while wishing and hoping that Kate might actually appear herself. But alas she didn’t.
Apparently one of the traditions of the closing ceremony is that it contains the last medal presentation. It is for the Mens Marathon which took place earlier in the day and was won by Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda. This was followed by a thank you and recognition for all the volunteers, or Games makers as they were known from all the athletes. This was followed by a spectacular light show to the unmistakable sound of Queen’s mighty “Bohemian Rhapsody” followed by a children’s signing choir singing John Lennon’s “Imagine”. This segued into a film clip of Lennon singing the song himself. Apparently Yoko Ono commissioned a special remaster of the song for the ceremony. At the same time a 3D image of John Lennon’s face was built on stage. This was a prelude to the main musical events.
George Michael took to the stage for his first live performance since his life threatening illness he sang “Freedom 90” his new single “White Light” which is in fact all about his brush with death. He seemed fit and well and on really good form. I’m not sure I like the new facial hair style though, perhaps it will grow on me! Ricky off of the Kaiser Chiefs was driven to the stage as a scooter pillion passenger singing “Pinball Wizard”. I have gone off the Kaisers of late, by I must admit they did a storming version of the Who’s classic. The next part had me positively tingling with anticipation; A series of short film and audio clips of David Bowie. Would he actually appear? Surely not? And surely he didn’t. But his 1980 hit “Fashion” was used as a backdrop to a showcase of British fashion which included a weird march around the stadium from a series of models including Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss.
George couldn’t master Mo Farah’s Mobot so he invented the Georgebot
A huge skeleton of what might have been a viking boat was pulled on stage and the hidden figurehead was none other than Annie Lennox. She performed “Little Bird” which was used on the soundtrack of Coppola’s film version of Bram Stoker’s classic story Dracula. The much rumoured Pink Floyd appearance turned out to be nothing more than Ed Sheerhan, Nick Mason and Mike Rutherford doing the Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” accompanied by a tightrope walker who recreated the Floyd album cover with the flaming man.
Russell Brand arrived on stage in what looked like the Scooby Doo van and he was singing, he’s not a bad singer either. He got out of the van to perform the Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus”. The van begat a giant inflatable octopus from which Fatboy Slim did a brief DJ set featuring his own hits “Right Here Right Now” and “Rockerfeller Skank”. Jessie J then sang “Price Tag” in an open top car she was joined by Tinie Tempah then Taio Cruz with “Dynamite”. All in open top cars. Then all three of them took the stage for a creditable performance of the Bee Gees disco classic “You Should Be Dancing”. As they were performing in front of a drum kit marked up with the name of Beady Eye it was obvious who was going to be on later!
A group of London Black cabs entered stadium and performed a kind of synchronised dance. Then five of them moved to the centre of the arena and were lit up with some spectacular lighting arrays. This wasn’t the best kept secret of the show, but guess who the passengers in these five cabs were? Yes it was Scary, Sporty, Baby, Ginger and Pouty…. oops sorry I mean Posh. It was the return of the Spice Girl. They kicked off with possibly one of the greatest pop singles of the 90s (OK that doesn’t mean you have to like it); “Wannabe”. They followed this with the samba rhythmed “Spice Up Your Life” which they performed while being driven around the stadium atop the cabs that brought them in. As expected after seeing their drum kit earlier Beady Eye were next. Thankfully they didn’t play any of their own stuff, just a cover of “Wonderwall” which seemed to go down really well as a sing along with the crowd. Liam seemed quite nervous to me and is his voice a little rough these days?
ELO’s “Mr Blue Sky” was played as a backdrop for a section pioneering flight. This included flying bikes and a failed human cannonball who just happened to be Monty Python star Eric Idle who led the audience in a marvellous sing-alonga-python version of “Always look On The Bright Side Of Life”. he even made a great comedic attempt to join in with some Bollywood style dancing. This whole piece was perhaps the equivalent of the Mr Bean set in the opening ceremony. It ended with the real and successful firing of a human cannonball.
Matt Bellamy and the boys from Muse were the next to appear and they performed their song “Survival” which was commissioned for the Olympics. It’s good and their performance was excellent as usual but this is a long way from being my favourite Muse song. Interestingly, as some have likened Muse to Queen they were followed by a film clip of Freddie Mercury performing some improv jazz scat and despite being dead for more than twenty years the audience were enraptured and joined in the whole Freddie call and response thing. This proved to be the overture to Brian May’s appearance and it’s fair to say that he’s quite a good guitarist isn’t he? 😉 As the unmistakable riff to “We Will Rock You” began and Brian was joined by Roger Taylor I was briefly worried that Adam Lambert or someone similar might step onto the stage. Thankfully it was Jessie J, and inspired choice in my opinion. She did a great vocal on the song which never tried to emulate the late, great Mr Mercury.
It was then time to return to the formal activities which meant the Greek national anthem followed by a Welsh Male Choir version of the Olympic Anthem. This was sealed with the Brazilian national anthem and a formal handing over of the Olympic flag from London’s Mayor Boris Johnson to the Mayor of Rio De Janeiro via Jacques Rogge. The Brazilians then put on a samba fuelled show to let the world know what to expect in 2016. This culminated in an appearance by one of their greatest sports ambassadors; Pele. Then we had more formal stuff with speeches from Seb Coe and Jacques Rogge. Seb was quite inspiring Jacque was once again the definition of dull in my opinion. The remaining action was the extinguishing of the flame. This began with Take That (thankfully without Robbie) performing the appropriate “Rule The World”. It continued with Darcy Bussell flying in as a Phoenix to join two hundred other ballet dances for an exciting modern ballet.
The petals of the cauldron where the Olympic flame burned were then lowered and were slowly extinguished and at this point I thought that was the end. However there was more to come in the shape of the Who. They were on top form and for a pensioner Roger Daltrey’s vocal power is still damned good. They closed with a rousing version of “My Generation” accompanied by yet another magnificent firework display.
I fell a little deflated after such a brilliant two weeks but so very proud to be British. I truly believe that we really showed the world what we are capable of as a country. Not just in the Olympic events but by how we put on such a brilliant event in itself. In spite of the little hiccups before the start (G4S etc) we really delivered this in style and won a whole treasure box of medals too. So let me take this opportunity to congratulate and thank everyone in Team GB, the organisers, all the other competitors, the BBC, the volunteers/ Games Makers and anyone else who was involved in this remarkable event.
Was this the best Olympics ever? I believe it as. Rio follow that!
Most of the film clips from the ceremony are IOC copyright and therefore difficult to show. So here are two songs that sum things up in a simple way.
It would appear that UK chart history was made today by Rihanna. She became the first female artist to have a number one single five years in a row. She has almost matched the feat of Elvis Presley who managed a number one in each year from 1957 to 1963, some six years in total. Starting with “All Shook Up” and ending with “Devil In Disguise“. Inevitably the current record is held by the Beatles who had a number one in each year from 1963 to 1969, a 7 year run. Staring with “From Me To You” and ending with “The Ballad Of John And Yoko” I reckon Rihanna has a good chance of overturning both of those records. read about it on the NME site by clicking here.
Rihanna was born nearly 20 years after the last of the Beatles run and she is still only 22. She will be 23 in February. She originates from Barbados and plays a big part in the support of the marketing of her homeland. She is now an honorary cultural ambassador. She is also a great philanthropist, setting up her Believe Foundation in 2006. It is a charity which supports terminally ill children.
Is it Grace Jones? Is it Max Wall? No it's Rihanna!
Today is December 8th 2010, the 30th anniversary of John Lennon. There will be millions more words written about him today, so I won’t add many to that. But I will give you a few Lennon covers, a cover from Lennon and a Beatles song. Enjoy these while you reflect on the life of a great man.
Hello once again regular readers and welcome to any new readers, I would love to hear from you via the comments function and also feel free to utilise the ‘rate’ option for each post.
A blue plaque not a blue meanie
A few more bits of music related news for you today. Firstly the house that John and Yoko lived in during 1968 finally gets an English Heritage blue plaque. The Marylebone property (basement and ground floor) was purchased by Ringo Starr in 1965 and before the Lennon’s moved in it was rented out to Paul McCartney and Jimi Hendrix. Read the story on the BBC.
Yoko thanked the builders for converting her former home into the leaning tower of Marylebone
To celebrate take a listen to “Yer Blues” from the Beatles ‘White Album’
Nick Clegg steals food from children as his contribution to the governments spending cuts
Now for some rather disappointing news, well in my opinion anyway. Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat Leader and Tory Party muppet appeared on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs show this weekend and chose a book, a luxury item and 8 records (actually it’s 8 pieces of music. Why is that bad news? Well he’s only gone and chosen a David Bowie song hasn’t he. I just feel bad when people I don’t like happen to like people who I do like, does anyone else feel like that? The Bowie song he chose was “Life On Mars”, he also selected songs by Prince, Johnny Cash, Radiohead and Shakira. So begrudgingly I might have to credit him with some taste, I’d still never vote for him again though. Click here to read the report on the BBC. You can watch Mr Bowie performing the song below at the Yahoo Internet Life Music Awards in New York City in 2000, very ably supported by Mike Garson on piano.
Nick Clegg contemplates another luxury item to take to his desert island. Let's hope the cuts aren't too sharp eh Nick? Don't want any problems with inflation do we?
In another piece of Bowie related news Cheery Vanilla his one time squeeze from the 70’s has published her memoirs and the book is enticingly titled ‘Lick Me’, which is actually quite appropriate given her name. She is quoted as saying that if you’re given the chance to sleep with David Bowie you do it, even if you have giant carbuncles on your thighs. I’m not sure whether she did have those carbuncles though. Read about the book by clicking here.
Cherry Vanilla chooses a novel way of promoting her new book
A week or so back Take That revealed the cover to their new album, ‘Progress’. It is yet another take on the Ascent Of Man idea. The worrying thing about it for me is why Gary Barlow is looking up Mark Owen’s backside. Robbie is right in the middle and Jason Orange seems to have been given a real surprise. One which made him leap high. The Guardian analyses the picture here. What do you think of it?
It's a bit camp and a bit yellow isn't it?
Click here to read a list of 10 things that British Sea Power wished they hadn’t done from the drowned in sound website. My favourites are the fans dressed as 10 foot teddy bears and one of the band dressing as some kind of Geordie/ zebra hybrid to commemorate Kevin Keegan‘s appointment as Newcastle United manager.
The British Sea Power Teddy Bear was a bit grizzly that night!
Yet another smorgasbord of random stuff today, starting with a link to a rather spiffing website; Animated Albums. Most of them are quite subtle and many are very funny, especially a few of the Morrissey ones. I’d love to know what you think of them.
The NME has a report that Slash is moving into making horror movies. The former Guns ‘n’ Roses and Velvet Revolver Axe Hero is moving into Axeman territory. He says he wants to make horror movies as scary and thrilling as those of the 70s and 80s. I guess working with Axl Rose must have been like being in a horror movie at times. I hope he succeeds. Read the story here.
Slash has tea with Ozzy, that's not very rock n roll is it? But wait, who's that in the maids outfit? It's certainly not Sharon is it!
As part of the celebrations for what would have been John Lennon’s 70th birthday his widow Yoko Ono has done a number of things to mark the occasion. Firstly courting controversy among some Beatles purists by allowing Lady Gaga to pose next to Lennon’s white piano. She also held two concerts in LA billed as We Are Plastic Ono Band and including appearances by the following; Perry Farrell off of Jane’s Addiction, Japanese electronic auteur Cornelius, Yuka Honda of Cibo Matto, Tune-Yards, RZA off of the Wu-Tang Clan, Iggy Pop, Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, Mike Watt, Nels Cline, Sean Lennon, Carrie Fisher, Joseph Gordon-Levitt,Vincent Gallo and of course Lady Gaga. Yoko was joined by Gaga for a number of songs, including a version of Lennon’s “Give Peace A Chance”. Read the NME report here
Lady Gaga decided to try microphone swallowing before she committed to sword swallowing
A mixed bag of a post for you today, drawn from a few recent news stories. Firstly I would like to wish a posthumous 70th birthday to John Lennon. I find it incredible that it is now almost 30 years since he was cruelly gunned down in New York. Has that time gone quickly for you too? He is also in the news for something other than his birthday as well. The FBI have seized a set of Lennon’s fingerprints that he gave to New York police in 1976 as part of his green card application. The card was part of a memorabilia auction, but the FBI claim it is official government property and have taken it away. haven’t they got a big enough file on Lennon already? Frankly though, why go they need it, I mean he is unlikely to commit any crime is he? Read the story on the Beeb by clicking here.
Now for another very sad Beatles related story. The cast of Glee have now beaten the Beatles record of the most appearances on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart by a non solo act. They have a total of 75 compared to 71 for the Fab Four, they have also surpassed Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin who have 74 and 73 respectively. The only acts ahead of them right now are James Brown with 91 and Elvis Presley with 108. Click here to see the report.
It has been reported that soulful chanteuse Toni Braxton is filing for bankruptcy for the second time. She went bankrupt for the first time just 12 years ago. This time a heart condition caused her to cancel a number of Vegas shows. So I would like to wish her well in the sale of her assets and hope that she can soon ‘unbreak the bank’ and will soon be able to “Breathe Again“. I must confess that earlier this year I burnt the original and a few remixes of “Unbreak My Heart” for my good friends Glen and Jill. So now we know of Toni’s financial predicament I ought to as k them to buy the songs. Come on guys help the poor girl out!
Kurt Kobain’s letter in which he appears to rail against MTV is to be auctioned. He referred to the TV Channel as Empty TV and signed the letter as Kurdt Kobaineee. read about it at the NME by clicking here.
Finally for today it is now 25 years since A-ha released “Take On Me” accompanied by that wonderfully arty video featuring Morten Harket from the band along with Bunty Bailey off of Hot Gossip. Enjoy the video below and read all about it by clicking here.
I had the pleasure of seeing a terrific new play this weekend at York Theatre Royal. It was called ‘Catcher – Before Chapman Shot Lennon‘. As many of you know, Mark David Chapman, the man who murdered John Lennon was obsessed with J D Salinger’s ‘Catcher In The Rye’ The book was in his possession when he shot Lennon, in fact it is said that after he fired those fatal shots he sat down to read the book until the police came. I think he was obsessed with Holden Caulfield, the book’s principal character as well as with fame itself. Before he killed John Lennon he had previously been photographed with Stephen King and Bob Dylan amongst others. Click here to read a really strange and frankly highly unbelievable conspiracy theory that it was Stephen King that shot John Lennon. Personally I think this is complete and utter tosh!
Anyway, back to the play. It is believed that Chapman hired a prostitute and had her come to his hotel on the night before the killing. This woman has never been found and has never made herself known. The play is based on the conversations that Chapman my have had with his hooker in his room. There are just two actors in the whole play which lasts 75 minutes. Mitzi Jones plays the prostitute, both as her older self narrating past events and as her younger self in the room with Chapman. The way she portrays both characters is phenomenal, with just a few simple changes to her clothes and hair, which for me proves how talented an actress she is. Ronan Summers plays Chapman and he, like Mitzi, is brilliant. Very intense and he really seems to capture the potential madness and imbalance in Chapman’s personality.
Obviously as a music fan I was keen to see this play and I would like to thank Rachel V for booking it for us (Rachel, Catwoman and me). If you get the chance to see it you really should, I am sure you won’t be disappointed. You can read a couple of reviews of the play here; One in the York Press and the other from The Stage
In a bizarre coincidence I finished Nick Kent’s (a former NME scribe) 70s memoir ‘Apathy For The Devil’ the day after I saw the play and he mentions Lennon’s murder. He said that he had read a book which gave details of every Beatles session, quite a weighty tome I believe! He read it a few years after the murder and spotted a strange thing. Apparently in the early versions of “Come Together” Lennon opened his vocal with the phrase ‘Shoot Me’ George Martin changed this to ‘Shoo’ as allegedly he felt this would be more acceptable to the record buying public.
OK as this is very much a John Lennon related post here are three of my favourite Lennon songs
“Instant Karma” – Without doubt my most favourite Lennon song ever
“Whatever Gets You Through The Night” – Perhaps not his most popular song, but I loved it from when I first got the ‘Walls And Bridges’ album on cassette back in the mid 70s. Elton John also plays piano, organ and provides backing vocals on the track. This is a live version recorded at an Elton gig from Madison Square Garden in 1974
“Woman Is The Nigger Of The World” – This is taken from the underrated ‘Sometime In New York City’ album. The song is based on a phrase first coined by Yoko Ono in the late 60s to describe the oppression of women, which is indeed what the song is all about. The use of the word nigger had the song banned from many US radio stations. This clip has Lennon explaining the song to Dick Cavett