Posts from 4th January 2005

4
Jan 05

CILLA BLACK – “You’re My World”

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#170, 30th May 1964

It’s less irksome to hear the full-bore Cilla treatment given to a song you don’t know from subtler versions – and besides, she has competition here from a particularly piercing string arrangement. But even so my heart sinks as the Banner-Hulk transformation gets going and her voice deepens, booms and blasts. The shift also seems to take all the melodic intrigue out of the song and making it through the final bombastic minute is a real chore.

THE FOUR PENNIES – “Juliet”

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#169, 23rd May 1964

Genteel, repetitive ballad whose soft, trained vocals and precise lyrics (“reminiscent of you”) initially seem to drape the record in a smothering courtliness. Repeated listens make “Juliet” seem no less quaint, but its charm starts to show through the gauze. Eventually I’ve come to find it soothing, like a lullaby. You could draw a crooked path from this to Mick Jagger’s mock-chivalric oddities, but the Four Pennies let no humour or threat into their world.

THE SEARCHERS – “Don’t Throw Your Love Away”

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#168, 9th May 1964

Love’s a funny thing. A catch-all ingredient for pop songs – particularly these pop songs, at this time – the word can stand for anything from a pang of mild yearning to physical passion to an all-encompassing mystical force. This song starts as gentle persuasion – nudging someone away from making a bad romantic decision – and then midway turns into an editorial scolding “lovers of today”. Apparently said lovers will give their love to anyone who says “I love you” – surely not a dig at any other bands? The tension – and the clumsiness – in the song is in the way it shifts between love as a unique commodity (“you might need it some day”) and love as a trinket.

In the end it’s hard not to read the record as a pro-virginity message dressed up in (yes, very pretty and tender) pop trappings. That’s fair enough – coded discussions of going all the way aren’t uncommon in 60s pop. But a record like The Shirelles’ “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” locates the question in the first person and in a moment of decision and is much more potent for it. “Don’t Throw Your Love Away” – also originally a Shirelles track – is more impersonal and so never escapes the shadow of wagging fingers.

Popjustice on LastFM

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 359 views

Popjustice on LastFM
If you are signed up to LastFM (and it’s not difficult) then you can listen to RADIO POPJUSTICE (top right hand corner). Just been listening and heard: New Order – Perfect Kiss, Magnetic Fields – Let’s Pretend We’re Bunny Rabbits, Girls Aloud – Mars Attacks, Fischerspooner – Emerge, Soft Cell – Last Chance. Wuvvly.

It should open a stream in yr media player of choice (iTunes on a mac) and then the stream is controlled by the web page.

Will Eisner, RIP

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 528 views

Will Eisner, RIP

Vic Fluro, from the recent Top 100 Comics thread: “If you think about Pulp, or Noir, or Detective, or Storytelling, or Action, or Emotion, or Cool, or Titles or Words or Pictures or Anything that actually Works in Comics… then you’re probably thinking about Eisner.”

Calendars

TMFDPost a comment • 198 views

Calendars

My girlfriend bought me a West Ham calendar yesterday. January 26th is followed by the 27th, the 38th, then back to the 29th. Unfortunately, like last year’s play-off final, Crystal Palace have gone one better and missed out April altogether.

Totally Magnificent Football Diversions

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Totally Magnificent Football Diversions

I regularly visit the messageboard associated with When Saturday Comes and two recent threads have provided much amusement and interest which to me represent the best of the interweb.

The first is where posters make apposite acronyms with club names. It’s a great thread which despite baiting between East Anglian fans shows what a community of intelligent, literate people can achieve very quickly – something genuinely funny and genuinely clever.

The second concerns a thread where people where asked to say which football teams they didn’t like simply because of an unforunate association arising from the teams name. The thread is so-so; a dig at Mick Hucknall here, a comment that the word Ajaccio could be considered smutty in the right hands. In the midst of this popped a post by someone with encyclopaedic knowledge of lower league football in Eastern Germany pre and post unification. Now, such knowledge is often the preserve of people who, well, aren’t often intelligent or witty, or particularly blessed with great social skills. So to find someone German writing in another language with wit and intelligence – well, the discovery of such things makes me very glad for the existence of the interweb.

“Top of the league, and we’re having a laugh…”

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“Top of the league, and we’re having a laugh…”

Actually, I wasn’t. You could not call me a fairweather fan, considering that the first Barnet game I went to was on one of the coldest days of the year. Nevertheless I am an occasional traveler to Underhill, home of the currently surprisingly mighty Barnet, and went to see the team who have taken the Conference by storm.

Well the storm was all down the other end on this visit, and considering this is a partisan match report from the Barnet website, we really were terrible. Football supporters are a superstitious mob, and my occasional visits have not made me keen for a return visit. But the Exeter Barnet game is not far off and I hope I do not bring the team bad luck again. My companion felt the game showed exactly the quality of the Conference. He is a Man Utd fan, and will be facing a conference team in five days time. But more of that to come…

“Always a wonderfully dangerous choice”

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 192 views

“Always a wonderfully dangerous choice”

Reef to win Best British Live Act then…

The Last Battle by CS Lewis

The Brown Wedge8 comments • 1,256 views

The Last Battle by CS Lewis
I re-read this book over the xmas holiday because the slip-case collection of Narnia books that I read as a child turned up in a relative’s garage, and because of a coincident interview with Phillip Pullman on the South Bank Show.

I couldn’t get through the first of the Dark Materials books because I now find fantasy stories very dull. I just didn’t care if the bear found its armour, so I stopped reading. Nevertheless what PP had to say on the show was interesting, and anyone baiting Peter Hitchens can’t be all bad. I was particularly struck by his rubbishing of The Last Battle, and as I couldn’t recall the story I decided to re-read to check it out. He was totally spot on.

The reason the book is stunningly unmemorable because it is an allegory of the rapture and so on, so there is NO STORY to remember – just a string of nightmarish and surreal vignettes, which as an adult, you can recognise as, e.g. Judgement, the beast, the antichrist etc.

In Narnia stories we normally follow the children as they travel into Narnia, but in this book we see them arrive, almost from the POV of a Narnian king. They talk about being pulled into Narnia and how it felt like the train they were travelling on was crashing – a familiar device used in at least one of the other books. But in this book (naturally) it turns out that THEY REALLY DID DIE IN THE CRASH. And they are so happy about this because it means they will never leave Narnia/the real Narnia inside Narnia, i.e. the afterlife.

In a mischievous way this reminds me of the TV-GO-HOME‘s show “The Magic Noose” billed as “Irresponsible children’s drama in which four young friends discover they can enter a magical land by putting their necks into a loop of rope with magical powers” (someone nicked and adapted the idea here.

Within the Christian story context it makes sense because the world has ended and everyone is in the same rapturous boat, but from within my uber-secular childhood this would have seemed MADNESS and indeed borderline irresponsible for an author to write in a kid’s story. OK so they love Narnia, but what about home? Parents? Friends? Television?! This was no way to end a story.

One of Pulllman’s accusations was a little ingenuous though – he berates Lewis for associating Susan’s becoming “lost” with her interest in being grown up – lipstick, boys, etc. I take PP’s point that we shouldn’t be associating sex/sexuality with evil/sin, but it is clear that this is NOT the association being made. The virtue being extolled is simple “childishness” – a virtue common to the world in many children’s books.

I genuinely read all these books without an understanding of Christianity (I was lost in the woods as a baby and brought up by wild social workers), but I MUST have got some of the allusions. At one point in the LB there is a stable which when the children go inside, it is bigger on the inside than the outside! At first this would have resonated with me for OTHER reasons (ho ho), but one of the children then says “in our world there was once something inside a stable that was bigger than the whole world” in the biggest DO YOU SEE slap in the face ever.

Overall, quite a wretched read.

I am going to see if they’ve bowdlerised the text for recent reprints to get rid of the reference to Calormenes as “Darkies”.