Posts from 10th May 2005

May 05

Heaven knows their recipe

FT + New York London Paris Munich2 comments • 306 views

OMD – Romance of the Telescope

With Kelly O currently ripping Visage’s Fade to Grey* in another fun/clumsy (ymmv) stab at the corpse of electro-pop, it was pure chance that I was reminded this week of another of my electro-pop heroes: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. After Numan, it was largely OMD who got me hooked on those early synth sounds – their spiralling drum patterns and torch-song melodies had some intuitive emotional hold over me in my pre-teen years. I lost some of my interest later on – perhaps the smoothness of the mid80s sound (from the Fairlight on?) turned me off slightly, perhaps the odd vocal style that was developing – but I still held them in some regard.

By the time I got to record buying age (which for me was quite late on) I only ever worked up the enthusiam to buy the singles compilations (both!), and an opportunisitic 2nd-hand vinyl copy of Architecture and Morality. I was taking them for granted. And in all this time I’ve managed to read through, or disbelieve, all those “places in electro history” articles that mysteriously alluded to Humphries’ more “experimental” leanings. As a certified Kraftwerk/Joy Division/New Order fan, I hope you can tell what a massive mistake I have been making.

The song above is the flip-side of the Joan of Arc vinyl 7″. I’ve taken it from the Navigation B-sides comp – I believe the version on Dazzle Ships is a different mix, but as I’ve just ordered that (AT LAST), so I don’t know for sure.

Despite being issued a couple of times already (once bundled with the singles compilation) it seems like another re-issue of Navigation is being lined up, with the news that OMD are due to reunite, at the very least for a performance on German telly this month. Perhaps Atomic Kitten are to blame. Either way, get this album if you are at all interested in finding out what OMD got up to on the flip side of their chart success. It’s a tremendous spread of sounds – and not just the usual preliminary sketches and stylistic exercises that you can get with B-sides. There are dark gothic wails early on in “I Betray My Friends”, the familar but lovely Elegiac pomp of “Navigation” and instrumental poems covering a variety of moods. I imagined Alpinestars furiously making notes, and on RotT you can clearly hear a distinct downbeat mood that surely impressed a young Stephin Merritt. It’s a song (and song title!) that wouldn’t be out of place on 69 Love Songs – a debt he made explicit in Let’s Pretend We’re Bunny Rabbits. Obv.

* She admits as much in her Metro interview yesterday.


The Brown WedgePost a comment • 319 views

Just a brief post right now about this book, which I truly think is one of the best books about music ever, though my recent reread of it is enabling me to catch assumptions and potential flaws more than I noticed in the past. Nonetheless, I think this is an instructive book to look through — again or for the first time — right now thanks to the existence of Simon R.’s postpunk tome. Not that the two specifically overlap or are meant to be complementary — in fact, one reason I’m looking forward to reading Rip It Up and Start Again now is to see where the differences occur and how.

At present — since I’ll have more thoughts in other areas after I read the newer volume — I’ll point folks to this brief ILM thread about the book, though it swiftly digresses (and I really must find that Eastern Europe travel book he wrote). But let me transcribe one of my favorite bits, which has little to do with the wonderful theories of modern pop discussed throughout but everything to do with great writing. During Culture Club’s 1984 Japanese tour, Rimmer finds himself behind a concert venue, near a payphone and unexpectedly beseiged by Culture Club fans who have learned of his work for Smash Hits and wish to get to the UK posthaste:

The fans have been in a huddle. Now they turn round and all begin chanting: “We want to go to Rondon! We want to go to Rondon!” The phone rings in the box. I pick it up and am greeted with a recorded American voice talking about Father’s Day: “A typical father is strong, self-willed, he cares for children…” Hurriedly, I put the phone down again. “We want to go to Rondon! We want to go to Rondon!” The phone rings again. “Did you send your father a card on Father’s Day?” Badly shaken, I slam it back down. “WE WANT TO GO TO RONDON! WE WANT TO GO TO RONDON! Uuuh! Uuuh! Uuuuh!”

Right then, a small mini-van bearing the group comes hurtling down the road. “Rimme-e-e-er!” taunts Roy (Hay, Culture Club guitarist) from behind a curtain as it careers round the corner and towards the stage door. The fans, on the look-out for a lavish limo and “Uuuuh!”-ing and chanting their desire to visit the United Kingdom, don’t even notice.

And then the phone rings again.

Frankly, who needs Lost in Translation?

Hate To Say I Told You So

TMFDPost a comment • 432 views

And so farewell then, Celebrity Wrestling. We barely knew (watched) you. Except a bizarre one minute sgment where Jenni Powell was tethered to Fatima Whitbread in a turquoise gimp mask and made to run around the ring hitting some balls.

Around The World in 80 Lousy Tunes, Day 36: Suspicious Minds

I Hate Music1 comment • 356 views

We were caught in a trap.
We could not walk out.
But it was nothing to do with love, baby. Just that fucking Federal Agent Elvis Presley, who believed that myself and Crispian had the secret to hyper-advanced alien technology in our brains. Surely they could tell just by looking that there was barely room in Crispian’s brain for instructions on how to wipe his own backside (or his U2 as I liked to call it for obvious reasons – it kept producing crap).

They tried simple questions on us first, mainly about the molecular structure of the giant spacehopper we traveled to Earth in. Unable to answer such simple zingers they tried more philosophical ones, such as “Is There Life On Mars?” I pointed out to them that any question that has already been asked by David Bowie is probably not a question a government agent should be seen to ask, banality and simplicity being at its core. This earned me a slap and a suggestion that if we could not answer their questions they could get the answers the easy way.

I facetiously suggested the drilled into our heads.
And then they got the drill.

I then suggested he start on Crispian, just to give me a good idea of the process. It was about this time that the bequiffed lickspittle Elvis returned into the building and slowly tried to cajole me into giving up my alien secrets. I just told him that the only alien I had met had really big ears, and he cuffed me with some of his Blue Hawaii karate. It was then though I formulated a genius plan for escape.

However they started drilling into Crispian’s head first. Oh well, it wasn’t as if he used his brain much.

ELVIS PRESLEY – Suspicious Minds

There is a moment in the excrable concert footage film “Elvis: That’s The Way It Is” where Elvis goes very quiet. I was hoping for a premature heart attack but it turned out to be him winding down for an explosive attack on the final chorus of Suspicious Minds. He barely sings it, just grunts like some unfit pig of a man and looks about as sexy as a Star Wars fan whose been in line for three weeks, stinking out his storm trooper costume. Actually, that is almost exactly what he looks like.

What was the appeal of Elvis Presley? Was it the wobbly legs? That funny voice that nearly always mispronounced words? Or the way he never left America, apart to do a job where he might get shot (about the only thing I liked about him.)

Suspicious Minds is one of his biggest hits, which these days means something that people sing in karaoke making faces like they have just had a stroke. Certainly the lyrics suggest some form of brain disorder “we can’t build our dreams on suspicious minds…” you try building anything on your mind and you’ll realise you have somewhat shakey foundations. Especially if its Elvis’s mind – obsessed with peanut butter and lard sammiches. Take that opening line: “We’re caught in a trap, I can’t walk out.” Wouldn’t be a very good bloody trap if you could just walk out of it. It be more of what the rest of us call a door.

In many ways Elvis invented rock’n’roll, and laid down a template for all the abominations that followed. His early death can only be seen as a sign from God, who liked his music all choral and pipe-organed. Now I am not saying God is right (infact he is not) but in this case my enemy’s enemy is my friend. And when you have God on your side, even Elvis is fucked. As Elvis says in Suspicious Minds “Don’t let a good thing die.”
We didn’t.

take the money! open the box! everybody’s on t-o-o-op of the pOpS

Blog 7Post a comment • 505 views

the intriguing thing abt my post-punk pal mark k-punk is that his “don’t vote it only encourages em” hippyoid disenchantment combines with slightly rear-view morleyism (objects in mirror appear closer than they are!!) and EXCELLENT old-skool pol-analysis um skeez

however – despite noting the big-brotherisation the parliamentary contest – even k-punk is in denial in ref my brilliant theory of “portillo’s long game” (which is of course to re-enter politics as its saviour via a post lab-con MASTERY of reality-TV era media at all levels) (= the desedimentation of the immanent politics of big brother/wife swapping/the apprentice/hell’s cabinet etc etc)

Maria Full Of Druqs

Do You SeePost a comment • 351 views

There was a moment when I thought I would not actually get to see this heartwarming tale of a ladies stuffing her belly with 62 pellets of cocaine and her adventures in that there Noo Yoick.Part of me thought the whole thing would be all too depressing to will myself into seeing. No that said, I am well known for tolerating and even liking depressing films: so this is the level of depression I thought I would get from Maria Full of Grace. Perhaps it was due to this expectation I walked out with a jaunty optimistic step.

It was probably more due to the gently hopeful spin the director felt necessary to peg on Maria herself. Remember kids, just cos life is depressing, there is no need to be depressed.

Formulaic and documentary in all the right ways, MFOG(D) finally cheers because of its spunky lead. Sure she ends up homeless and pregnant in New York. But with a determined jut of her jaw. Was it a correct Oscar nomination? Only if she actually swallowed any of those suppository sized pellets. In many ways the better acting is from her cowardly, unattractive country-hick friend, who wheedles and whines through the film in a remarkably unsympathetic role. So here is to Yenny Paola Vega, who will almost certainly never be in another film again*, for giving Maria Full Of Grace (Drugs) a much more interesting counterpoint character than I assumed, and thus the hopeful ending consisting of Maria getting away from moany Blanca.

*Considering the Oscar nominated Catalina Sandino Moreno hasn’t had any other acting work how much luck do you think her fat mate from the film will get.


Proven By SciencePost a comment • 169 views


Come on, if you are going to call your free open source browser that, you can only expect one outcome.

I wonder if another company is making some “off book” payments to hackers to find flaws in Firefox. Maybe Unigate Dairies.

It has a carpet that says TT on it

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 371 views

There is nothing wrong with Thames Tandoori. I want to say that here and now. That said, it is probably the curry house I have been to most regularly over the last five years. It is a pretty standard tandoori house really, a bit pricey perhaps but then that’s its location. The specials are also quite nice, even if they do err on the fruity side.

No, Thames Tandoori is a fine little restaurant, which makes up in convenience what it might lack in flair. Convenience for the Kings Arms down Waterloo way (which never seems to be doing the food when I am there). Other curry houses are availible, ones which might not use half a jigger of lime juice on every curry, and ones which are probably a fair bit cheaper. But I’ve never had a bad meal or bad service in TT. Like it says on the carpet. Notably there were a fair number of French couples in there on Sunday, which raised the possibility that they just had leapt on the Eurostar just for a curry. And they could do a lot worse.

So why do I always feel like I am giving in when I go there?

Lock and quarantine blog it’s a post about R0cK15M

The Brown Wedge1 comment • 425 views

Actually it’s a post I made on a brobdignagian R-Thread on ILM with the Wedge-related part in bold:

“In Seattle Dave Q said that ‘ordinary people’ are mostly rockist. I think this is true once you’ve started self-identifying as a “music fan”. Proponents of a nonrockist criticism have to face the fact that rockism is enormously powerful as a way of defining oneself and ones taste, of separating oneself ideologically and morally from other people who don’t like music so much*. Other fandoms – comics, film, TV, videogames, sci-fi, beanie babies, scrapbooking, etc – almost certainly have “rockism”s of their own, though whether these are successful or not within the fandoms surely varies.** I wonder actually whether the acceptability of a fandom within society is proportionate to how successfully it manages to create and sustain an equivalent of “rockism”!

*(This is the crux of a lot of things. I buy a lot of music. My neighbour buys little. He seems entertained and satisfied by what he buys, though. So there must be something more that I get out of music which explains – to me, to him – why I buy so much more of it, otherwise I’m nothing but a glutton. And that something more must be located in the music that I buy and that people like him don’t, otherwise I’m nothing but a sucker. So maybe the definition of “rockism” I’m looking for is something like religious apologies.)

**(I actually think Douglas’ super-reader piece has MORE to do with how I understand “rockism” than his r-word piece!)”

Nobody really discussed this on the thread so I’ve put it here as a sort of placeholder in case I want to come back to these ideas.


Do You SeePost a comment • 259 views

Goes to FAQ U. I shall not add to the literal acres, and acres of print which will appear by the end of this week in explaining how this comedy replacement for Channel 4’s 11 O’Clock Show* is the biggest insult ever committed on the British public. But then its cleverly punning title suggested this already.

Frequently Told Joke Of The Week (to be seen in at least five TV reviews):
“The most Frequently Asked Question being asked this week was how this rubbish got commissioned.”

*Surely some sort of revenge from the 11 O’Clock Show’s producer to show us that yes indeed, something really could be less funny.