Posts from May 2003
Tom’s Top Twelve
Sorry it’s been a while!
GIRLS ALOUD – “No Good Advice”
SEVERED HEADS – “Dead Eyes Opened”
BLACK EYED PEAS feat JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE – “Where Is The Love”
THE RAPTURE – “I Need Your Love”
R.KELLY – “Ignition”
BROADCAST – “Pendulum”
MISS THING – “Get That Money”
S CLUB 8 – “Fool No More”
ELECTRIC SIX – “Gay Bar”
KATE BUSH – “Wow”
NORTHERN STATE – “Dying In Stereo”
ULTRAVOX – “The Thin Wall”
Casualties of a) the Reality-Pop arena vote and b) an ill-timed split return with more or less desperate dice-throws. Rarely has a No.2 hitmaker been considered as instant a failure as One True Voice — but then with Girls Aloud making the best British single this year it’s hard to imagine anything more excruciating, playground-wise, than admitting to being an OTV fan. You know exactly how puppydog naff the sprit and sentiment of ‘Shakespeare’s Way With Words’ is going to be from the title — ‘ballad or not?’ is the only question. ‘Not’, as it happens, and ‘Shakespeare’s…’ will delight anyone who’s been waiting fourteen years for a Big Fun revival. First pop song about sonnets since the Verve, not much better. The English love of losers and underdogs is their one true hope.
OTV’s record I downloaded from horrid curiosity, Siobhan’s I was excited about hearing until the first strummed bars brought me up short. Supposedly she quit the Sugababes because they hated indie, a fact I’d conveniently binned until now. Obviously she’s indie only in the new-model Mel C sense: jangle jangle chug chug. I can’t entirely dislike it, she does her best and it builds intriguingly towards a blowout chorus that sadly never arrives. The middle eight is quite nice. The title is endearingly hopeful. It doesn’t have Sting on it.
ALBUM REVIEW: Poem-Cees – PARANOIA
I put the headphones on and lean back. Jagged guitar assaults my ears and fear grips me as I hear the harrowing opening litany. THEY ARE OUT TO GET ME.
The beat kicks in. We’re in party mode, but things are still unsettled. I can’t find the bling, only corrupt cops and incompetent middle management. They tell me I can’t see, but I’m trying.
Children playing forms the background for child abuse while the world’s most shimmery keyboard patch puts a glossy, confectionery coating on getting to close to the seedy streets. I’m remided of all the things I need to fear again, but I nod my head to the rugged drums and shout along: “WE AIN’T SCARED OF YOU!”
A tender case of commitement jitters turns into all-out mad-dog frothing over blatant infidelities. This in turn takes us to a mythical land where every lady is a little bit mocha, a little bit latte and a whole lot of DAMN! (Of course, we have to look over our shoulders to make sure the female friends can’t see us rubber-necking.)
The storm clouds brew again as the POWERS THAT BE breathe down our necks and pull our strings; Joe Theisman to the rescue! At the end all I can say is “blah blah blah”; I’m completely spent.
Hands shaking, I take the headphones off, wipe the sweat from my brow, and press play again. It’s just that good.
Don’t let this album pass you by; you can’t afford not to hear it.
NO GIRLS ALOUD
If we can thank Girls Aloud for anything, and I’m not sure we can, its for seeing off One True Voice. Them and the British public I feel have long since recognised that there is indeed only one true voice in this country, one voice brave enough to speak the truth – and that dear readers is mine. I, Tanya Headon, own the One True Voice and I suppose I should have sued the Postar spawned bastards. Instead Girls Aloud saw them off, and now – as some kind of thanks – I am here to see them off.
Do we need another Spice Girls, all of whom model themselves after Rough As Fuck Spice (the sixth member who didn’t make the cut)? Surely there are checkouts all over the country being unmanned while these five slappers ponce around pretending to have a pop career. And what a pop career, a career built solely on the worst kind of pop melange there is. Their first single, “Sound Of The Underground” had the twang of Duane Eddy, the shuffle of the Sugababes,the wail of Pink, a bit of Addicted To Bass, a bit of Buddy Rich etc etc. In short it is about 100 times worse than any bootleg ever, in that it sounds like nearly every song ever written. It was as if Dr Frankenstein, not content with creating an evil monster out of lots of body parts, then created another monster out of the body parts of 100 Frankenstein monsters. Well, a bit like that. Rest assured it is amazingly evil.
Unfortunately this is a trick ‘The Aloud’ have done again. And from reports again, and again. So much so that they have even seemingly survived being bigged up by Julie Burchill. Stop this pop madness, give us back our checkout cashiers now. The One True Voice has spoken.
I like this new genuine heartbroken Beck, where his bricolage and fake hipster poses can no longer protect a broken heart, and he stops being anything but real. This is supposed to be the new authenticity, we are supposed to be real, and the realness is still fake-I don’t believe a word of our new rock and roll heroes, but I believe every word of this.
Hearing the supreme ironist talk of a golden age, in a sun burnished California drawl, and having that golden age be nostalgia that seeps in like contact poison is difficult. It means that what we assumed could protect us (the studio, artifice, stage craft, play, fun, love) cannot.
From the first notes of the singsong acoustic and the soft weeping keyboards and percussion, this is going to be a lament – and the words don’t betray; a road song with country starkness. A love song about moonlight, open roads, desert winds-it could be a series of clichés that he loves (like the underrated Midnite Vultures) but by the second chorus, just by intonations of certain words he destroys us.
It is the song that Dylan or Graham Parsons wanted to write, and the one that Dolly or Emmy Lou should cover, not that they ever will. (Though Johnny might and even if he doesn’t, it’s something to play as elegy in his funeral.)
Some current lip-flapping in the UK centred on the current collapse in singles sales and the imminent doom of the charts – here’s the Guardian’s laughable contribution courtesy of Dave Lee Travis, who once shocked John Peel by admitting he didn’t own any records. Perhaps he’s been downloading them all! Or perhaps not, given his ‘grip’ on the pop matter – “Daniel Bedingfield is a good new artist, Kylie is doing some great stuff, and Eternal, too” – except they’ve split up, Dave (he’s right about Bedingfield, though). The choice of genial old twat DLT to comment on the ‘situation’ shows one of the UK pop charts’ (and pop’s) real problems, though – they’re trapped in their own myth. Jimmy Saville on Top of The Pops, breathless Sunday afternoons gathered round the wireless, hairy cornflakes, Guinness Books, the awful weight of history.
BONE THUGS N HARMONY feat PHIL COLLINS – ‘Home’ BLACK-EYED PEAS feat JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE – ‘Where Is The Love?’
I’ve not been listening to music much the last couple of weeks and seeing as what I want to hear is this kind of syrup-sluiced corn-hop you’re doubtless thinking that’s NO BAD THING, anyway I’ve not even put the radio on, not even heard the Girls Aloud record so Bone Thugs featuring Horrible Tory Phil must be reckoned my favourite single of May 03! I don’t have a copy of this magnificent pop artefact to hand so close analysis is impossible – Bone Thugs rap very fast over some plinkety backing and it’s manipulative like being tickled and then it swoops into a bit of Phil from some rotten old record. It sounds cheap and grand.
Black-Eyed Peas’ record is even more winningly groansome. Of course it’s notable that J-Tim’s credibility grab has worked to the point where he’s now the featured rather than the featuree – his contribution is some dove-mouthed mush on the chorus, a moment’s work but it gives the Peas’ folksy positivity a big lift. The Peas’ world is a troubling one, full of fear and war, but you feel it’s nothing a few string samples won’t cure.
Chicks on Speed-EuroTrash Girl
This is a blackened, dirty, sexy, artifice ridden cover , done by people who have never left ny, the electroclash banging percussion, the nicospit vocals-what it lacks is the fuck you punk class war that cracker did so well.
FREEWAY – “What We Do”
Roc-a-fella’s post-ironic smash & grab raids on symphonic soul continue, subverting some musty old relic pinched from Just Blaze’s dad’s basement, one of those off-hand slices of doped ache pressed into gun-point service of a validation of playa 101 (cf. “Ain’t No Love”.) Free continues to strip the Ghostface emo-hop template of the cartoon obscurantism, and Jigga continues his transformation into late-period ODB (“faster than the Red Ghost/chasing ghosts with Pac-Man”…no wonder they signed old Dirt Dog.) Like the way they emphasize the sample, letting that “wrong-ong-ong-ong” loop over and over like they only had the crusty old 10 second timeframe of the SP-1200. (Nothing dusty about the rest of the production tho, all hyper-chattering 80s R&B finesse.) Seriously, 2003 is turning into the year old school hip-hop broke, with the ’87 air raid uplift of Joe Budden’s “Pump It Up”, the Neps doing op-Art of Noise stabs on Roscoe P. Coldchain’s “Delinquent”, the unanswerable question of those horns in the Beyonce single, even Dizzee Rascal rocking “The Big Beat” beat. (“The Big Beat”, for chrissakes! You have two months to turn in your modernist hall pass before Dizz drops the full-on slab of hip-hop I now expect him to.) Still, why can’t I shake the feeling that all this stuff – enjoyable as it is – is one forward, two back?
(The following was written after discussions with ILX’s Bob Zemko among others – Mitch, Ethan P [who tipped me off that it was a Blaze production], God, yr mom – so he’ll GET OFF MY BACK.)
JURRASIC ARSE – The T-Rex Story
What was the largest, most frightening creature ever to walk this earth. Before you answer, I’m not thinking of fictional creatures such as Emerson, Lake and Palmers Tarkus. Or even those terrible lizards, the dinosaurs of yore (or even leathery faced rock dinosaurs like Keith Richards). Instead think of a beast so scary that the mere sound from it would send people screaming into the night for fear of losing their sanity. Yes – that’s right. You are thinking of Marc Bolan’s T-Rex.
Those of you who know me well will be well aware of the shirt shrift I have for so called musical innovators. People who usher in entire musical scenes are therefore treated with more than suspicion. Especially when the innovation underpinning said scene is merely a matter of putting a bit of eyeshadow on, wearing stack heels with a big white boy ‘fro. Maybe its true that Marc Bolan was an excessively attractive androgynous man – the fact that his music was so simple to imitate did not give burly chaps think them in Slade or Mud licence to glam it up. Never has a musical movement been so ill named. There is nothing glamorous about grown men wearing little sticky stars on their face like a five year old who has gone nuts in his teachers good behaviour box. There is everything frightening about it – Bolan legitimised Gary Glitter after all.
But lest were merely eviscerate the bad memory of Marc for justifying the career of a nonce, let uis look at his real crimes. The actual music. I have seen T-Rex’s song described as foot stomp fizzy pop masterpieces. Obviously by someone who has never had a glass of Coke and survives merely on Happy Shopper Cola (the foot stomping I’d agree with but then all music makes me want to stomp my feet in anger). Take “Get It On”. There’s a nice idea there, getting it on is always fun, though if you have to worry about losing your arm in your partners hair there is more of a problem. Nevertheless I’ve got to say Bolan’s method of showing how much fun getting it on is leaves me a touch perplexed. He bangs a gong. Not very useful advise to kids trying to have a quick fumble in the chalet next to your parents at Butlins. Unless they are watching the very beginning of a Rank film. Maybe instead Bolan was refering to banging a member of the band Gong – in which case his premature demise probably saved him from a nasty dose of the clap (albeit it an arrhythmical, out of time clap).
A few other points need to be raised about Bolan too. Firstly Roland Bolan. Not only was this child cursed with a rhyming name (cf Zowie Bowie) but would have hit his teenaged years just when the most ridiculed character on children’s TV was called Roland. Cheers Dad. Not to forgot those interminably long album titles too, which possibly seemed like a laugh but made it a right pain to fit them on any star struck teenagers Christmas list. “My People Were Fair And Had Stars In Their Hair (But Now Their Content To Listen To A Shit Album On Their Dansette)”.
If only Bolan had listened to his own lyrics, he may not have hit his admittedly deserved early end. In “The Children of The Revolution” – a song about not being able to fool said children, notable for doing just that, Bolan sings that he “Drives a Rolls Royce, cos its good for his voice.” Questioning a few speech therapist friends of mine did come up with the sad conclusion that the type of car one drives rarely effects the tone of timbre of ones vocal chords., Unless of course its a Mini Cooper which you’ve just driven straight into a tree. Twentieth Century Boy no more.