Posts from 18th November 2003

18
Nov 03

TAB HUNTER – “Young Love”

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#56, 22nd February 1957

By way of contrast, Tab Hunter and his producers know their limitations precisely and the result is a modest, earnest and pleasant track. Alas for the MP3 age – I can’t gaze at the record sleeve and look into Tab’s dreamy eyes, what “Young Love” was surely best suited for. A far from innocent record, exploiting the newly discovered teenage dollar as ruthlessly as anything has, but still one concerned with innocence – the second-hand self-expression pop set free covered passions a lot less earthy than Elvis’ (though just as lucrative). “Young Love” is as smooth as young love isn’t, but it’s a humble and ginger performance, and that’ll do.

SEEED — ‘What You Deserve Is What You Get’

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Do you want some German pop dancehall? YOU KNOW YOU DO. A current constant on German pop channels, this caught my attention because the band are obviously having monster good fun in the video by dressing up as cavemen and rampaging through downtown Dusseldorf (or wherever) rolling their shoulders and shaking their furs at passers-by. The cavemen burst into an office and are stopped in their tracks by…ELEPHANT MAN! On a sort of bubble screen. Yes this is the ‘Elephant Man Remix’ and a shoddier ‘guest spot’ would be hard to find. Elephant’s bit loses the hook and even the rhythm — in fact, let’s be honest, it’s just him talking. Something about R.Kelly, a shout out to Germans everywhere, that’ll do nicely. It keeps the little Elephants in shoes I’m sure. Perhaps the title is a coded warning to star-struck fans.

Do not download the remix, download the original instead which dispenses with dancehall’s raw invention and instead relies on the classic Mitteleuropean virtue of pitiless catchiness. No doubt a five-play wonder but no less entertaining for that.

κ IS FOR…KAPPA-DONNA

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When the members of the Wu-Tang Clan formed and moved into that big, Monkees style house, the first question on everyones lips was “Who’s going to clean the toilets?” The RZA’s hands were too sensitive and already used to dealing with shit, Ghostface Killah was too busy Killing and of course Raekwon The Chef was already down for cooking duties. The nine of them argued until there was a flood of excrement coming from the privy. There was only one solution. A new member of the Wu-Tang whose responsibilty would be crap.

And my how Cappadonna (originally Crappadonna) has taken to this task. Not only does he clean the lavatory but he makes all of the noxious substances into his own solo records. He is not adverse to lending a bit to the RZA or Method Man, for fear that the general Wu Tang quality may increase to mere mediocrity, but if you ever wondered what Cappadonna’s role in the Wu Tang was, now you know. His first album, The Pissage (later retitled The Pillage for censorship reasons though everyone got the message) underlined his commitment to all forms of effluent, not just crap.

I have not really got much to say about the film version of The Singing Detective

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I have not really got much to say about the film version of The Singing Detective, except that it feels bitty, as if it was badly edited from a longer piece of work. Which, of course, it is. It also seems oddly dated, part of the point in the TV series of the songs were that they were tied up with the adolescence of the Marlowe (here renamed atrociously Dan Dark) character. Here it seems highly unlikely that Robert Downey Jr would have any kind of history with a song like ‘At The Hop’ released ten years before his birth.

It is the regidity of sticking to the television format that cripples The Singing Detective film. The sets never really open out for the cinema, and a lot of what was rather daring on TV seems a touch dated. The idea we are drifting in and out of our leads mind is now not that unusual an idea. It was nicked in Chicago after all. The film therefore is not cinematic, and the sound quality of those original sfifteis songs certainly don’t help, sounding rather lost in a modern cinema sound system. Downey looks too young, and whilst he spits out the insults as well as Gambon did, the films speedy redemption of the lead removes what was so deliciously foul about Marlowe/Dark.

The most interesting moment is the very end, when after a film of lip-syncing, Downey comes on and does a Mike Yarwood on us. And this is me, he says as he croons rather well, but completely destroying any sense of ambiguity the film ended with. Potter never meant The Singing Detective to be a musical, and this film version is not sure. Much of this is Potter’s fault, he wrote the screenplay, he kept in the bits which no longer work. And oddly, the bits that work the least are the songs.

ι IS FOR….THE AMOUNT OF TALENT NOT POSSESED BY ANY MEMBER OF THE ROLLING STONES

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For those of you without the gift of a classical education, this Greek Letter is an iota. And it is indeed more talent than that possessed by any member of The Rolling Stones. Including Brian Jones, who at least realised this and did the decent thing. Cheers.

I was always told off as a child for adding salt to fish when I ate it.

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I was always told off as a child for adding salt to fish when I ate it. “It swims in the sea, it is already salty” was the rationale. When I got older I managed to get a salt adding dispensation for trout when I managed to prove using an Encyclopaedia and reading that as freshwater fish, trout would not be over saturated with condiments. And now my parents have little control over me I add a generous sprinkle to even cod. All of which is a preamble to the taste sensation I had last night in Busaba. Salted Blue Mackerel.

I imagine that if the word blue wasn’t in there, no-one would ever order it. Mackerel, despite being effortlessly tasty, gets a pretty bad press. Smoked it makes a great salad centre-piece, but its a pretty ugly fresh fish and as a scavenger people are worried about its diet. I like it, but i must admit it would take a leap for me to pick it out in a restaurant. It was only that my two companions had picked the two items I had suggested leaving me with the unknown parts of the menu. And lo, when the salted blue mackerel came, said companions were jealous.

Cracking through a crust of rock salt my mouth had to contend with two sensations. First the real saltiness. Second the smokiness. It was meaty, fresh, lively and – in a little bit of sesame sauce – extremely moreish. A third of a forkful (I had gone with the chopsticks originally but gave it up as a bad job) with rice made a beautifully strong suite of sensations. For six quid, it was all the Omega 3 oils I need in a week and at least half of the allocated use of my tastebuds. I’m going home now to marinate some anchovies in salt.

θ IS FOR….THE-TANSADS

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Liverpool. Town of cheeky scousers, free with a joke on their lips and a song in their hearts. I hate the place. It churns out bands with almost US Arms Factory regularity. Wigan on the other hand is more of a Saddam Hussein when it comes to weapons of musical destruction. Not a huge stream of bands coming out of there. Which means in theory I should rather like it. Unfortunately there is one Iraqi Supergun on the horizon, a band so awful that the only publicity they ever got was being on the T-Shirt of a minor character in Brookside.

The Tansads. Folk punk, lest we not forget, a genre which never really took off to any great degree. When New Model Army are the pinacle of your style, ther only way is down. luckily the Tansads plummeted this mine with aplomb and regular changes of their singer. Desperation always kicks in when you replace you original singer with a chick, thus changing all the nuances on their so called classic ‘Shandyland’. Frankly calling an album Shandyland is enough to rattle my cage, drinking shandy is like drinking a single gin and tonic in my book. In The Tansads book, “This Is Pop: The Life And Times Of A Failed Rock Star” Tansads bassist Ed Jones bemoans the bands lack of success. To which i reply, you shouldn’t have been so shit then.

Topologically speaking

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(Topologically speaking Hopkins is wrong of course: any closed fence on the surface of a genus zero object surrounds the regions “inside” and “outside” the fence.)

FRANKIE VAUGHAN – “The Garden Of Eden”

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#55, 25th January 1957

A lucky dip of styles, crazy-paved together by Frankie Vaughan’s beefy voice. A couple of years earlier this might have worked as a smartypants big-orchestra trifle. A few later and Vaughan could have turned it into an early soul thumper. As it is he has a hell of a job holding the song together at all, as it lurches from a stripped-back guitar strut through street-corner backing to its more-or-less swingin’ conclusion. The meaning of the song is similarly adrift – a cheater’s metaphor or a lover’s whimsy? This listener is hardly moved to care either way.

We met a couple of friendly students

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We met a couple of friendly students in Warsaw who guided us through the station. I talked about football with one of them – a personal milestone for me, and my diligent readings of FourFourTwo‘s pre-chewed football history articles stood me in good stead (i.e. I remembered who Jan Tomasthingy was). The student didn’t rate Polish football though. “It’s all kicking in our leagues. We all watch English football – it’s much better.” A night or two later I turned on the hotel TV to find an example of the glamorous English game he so admired – broadcast live with breathless Polish commentary, a solid 1-1 draw between Nottingham Forest and Watford.