Posts from 5th December 2005

5
Dec 05

THE FT TOP 13 ENDINGS: 10: Doing a KLF

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It’s what disgruntled employees scheme for and aspire to at their farewell drinks, but only get as far as “accidentally” forwarding a telling e-mail to “everyone”. But the KLF were at the top, and their jump from the parapet was a wheeling and kicking powder-keg dive. A rather extreme performance… (Do You See!!! it was with Extreme Noise Terror ha ha ha)

I’m pretty sure I watched that Brit Awards, but I don’t recall the performance – was it even transmitted? But, as an FT reader you’re pretty much guaranteed to know the details of the story – it has become the “out on a high” story – and that’s the point of including it in this list. By comparison, kicking over a speaker stack at a gig is the act of a petulant toddler. No, if you are going to end your own very successful pop-cultural creation, the best way is to mock kill the audience (i.e. THOSE THAT CREATED YOU), announce your retirement from the biz at “the man”s biggest bun-fight and then both leave the country and delete your back catalogue. Hardcore. Spectacle. Totally shameless.

Another site’s old Top 10 Walkouts article seems to thing the KLF wanted it to be “two fingers in the face of the image-obsessed, profit-mad record industry”. Well possibly – but imagining the record industry would give a stuff doesn’t chime with anything they’d done before. I like to think that instead they consciously decided to make ending the KLF a MEMORABLE THING. And love or loathe what they did – they achieved that.

Other notable cultural creations consciously killed off at popular high-point (CCCKOaPHP)

Harry Enfield killed Loadsamoney This character made a novelty single that was riffed on by the Timelords shortly afterwards.

Judith Kerr killed Mog Nigel Kneale’s better half carefully explains to impressionable young children that there is such a thing as ghosts, souls, and that even animals have them. Should have been the subject of a Christian fundamentalist vendetta on the proportion of The Jerry Springer Show.

Dave Lee Travis announces he’s leaving Radio 1 ok ok NOT technically a popular high (no not even with the advent of snooker AND DARTS on the radio), but this rule-proving exception is important because the modibund DJ’s departure has become “A MEMORABLE THING” despite it being blatantly obvious that he should have left about 10 years before hand. Well done.

Derek Acorah admits he is a sham live on TV His apology for blatantly exploiting the emotionally frail moves him to extremes as he rams nails into his chest. At time of writing, this hasn’t actually happened.

THE FT TOP 13 ENDINGS: 11: Fuddledumph – I Was Waiting For That

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Named after a John Peel quote, this is the alternate live ending. In particular, if a recorded version fades out, how is a band supposed to replicate this on stage? Of course on stage bands often have sound techs way back on the mixing desk who could just slide the fader down to silence. Whilst this is more than possible, it never happens at a live gig, possibly because a fade reminds the audience of the artifice of the live experience (bands playing songs which have never really existed in a live context, and passing them off as being more authentic). A live fade also does not signal the place for applause, and a sporadic starting applause is worse than none at all. It comes in close to slow handclap.

So why do singles fade out in the first place? Well, usually, because no-one has written a good ending. Sometimes because the song is too long, and the band would happily jam away until kingdom come(s on). The three minute pop song has had its ranks swelled by the three minute fade. So if the song does not have an ending, how is a band to end it live?

Generally, it is with a crescendo and the patter of tiny drums. What actually happens is often the interminable jam mentioned above, and with the band feeling unstoppable they often are: except for local fire regs and the building owner turning the power off (easily the best ending to any gig). But a jam which builds and builds has to end, you have the hit single that was being saved for the encore to play. And so someone, usually the drummer, takes it upon himself to try and wind the track up. Usually everyone gets it, and with a rousing crash of cymbals and what is left of the great lost drum solo, everyone stops at the same time.

Sometimes they don’t. That is the Fuddledumph moment. It often signals disharmony in the band, not to mention another round of four chugs of the same boring song. Watch out for anyone peddling “authentic” music for this: blues, folk and rock are particularly bad at turning a jam into a non-stop trip into hell. Because of this there is nothing better than a great, syncopated, jam stopping, drummer led termination of a fade-out song.

“A NIGHT OUT ON THE TILES IN BINGE DRINK BRITAIN”

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As Tom Ewing puts it here, the reason he be lovin’ a particular Girls Aloud track. Well I am sorry Tom, but just like the madness of kicking one of MY BLOGS off of FreakyTrigger, there is no such thing as Binge Drink Britain. Where are the rivers of vomit, the above eyebrow cuts that can only come from a curbside catastrophe? All-Day-Drinking? WHERE?

A case in point: Saturday night, wandering out of The Transporter 2 at 11:30. Let’s go get a drink, says I, as we can in BINGE DRINK BRITAIN. We are in the WEST END. There are more pubs that there are sixteen year old girls on the street who have told their Mum they are staying over at their mates. But can we get in any.

First stop: The Porcupine. Looks a bit full. Of people coming out.
Then a swing around our old friend The Polar Bear. There is a club going on downstairs (this bodes well I hope) but the upstairs pub has one solitary barmaid using the special spray on the tables. So off we go to De Hems. It is still open, but much in the same way as a crowded Tube carriage can theoretically take one more body if you use your elbows tactically.

And then the most depressing five minutes of my life ensued. Namely walking around pub triangle to find them all either closed or kicking out: Coach & Horse, Spice Of Life, Molly Moggs, The Three Greyhounds, the Golden Lion. When someone rashly mentioned the Wetherspoon hell-hole Montague Pyke we were almost tempted (it was shut anyway). Pillars Of Hercules was the last place surveyed.

Put it like this, from a survey of Binge Drink Soho: the Spanish Bar still has a few years of life left in it. There is only one thing worse than pubs closing early due to a rubbish law. That is pubs closing early OUT OF CHOICE.

Chemistry: First Impressions

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I have purposely avoided a) downloads b) reviews of this record, so my apologies to anyone whose observations I have unconsciously bitten. Here we go, with my as-it-happens write-up of the new Girls Aloud album.

Intro: Gone in a flash, sets the tone for a fast, trashy record.

Models: Something faintly Sleeper-ish, Transvision Vamp-ish about it, despite the electro overtones, very choppy, speedy, tacky, aggressively fun. You’ll have to be in the right mood for it.

Biology: Becoming my favourite single of the year, current favourite chunk: the “closer closer” bit.

Wild Horses: C&W overtones, Xeno-nonsense lyrics, now this is sounding like the grown-up Daphne And Celeste album. Some kind of science experiment to see how overstuffed a song can be with hips and still hang together? Anyway I’m lovin this one.

See The Day: OH NO!!!!!!! Worse by some distance than “I’ll Stand By You”, a weak song hugely overdone and aurely the only thing on here you can imagine S.Cowell really approving of.

Watch Me Go: SKA INFLUENCE! Saucy lyrics midly undermined by toffee-chewing lead vocal. And then YES!! A GA rap, about stripper vicars, so if this IS a Britpop album this must be Mansun.

Waiting: More Britpop ‘guitar’ ‘strut’, OK make that Stray Cat Strut, a slightly more downbeat and less exciting sequel to “Love Machine”, still pretty good but no highlight. Goes on longer than its hook deserves.

Whole Lotta History: The frustrating thing about GA’s Xmo cover ballads isn’t “oh god it’s a ballad”, only fools “don’t like ballads” after all. It’s that their writers are really good at doing pop ballads – delicate, touching songs with great choruses that will end up glued to my headphones when I’m feeling maudlin coming home after a night on Binge Drink Britain’s tiles.

Long Hot Summer: Well-placed on the album, though still GA’s weakest ‘good’ single, some really nice little blips and bleeps behind the pre-chorus though and the coda is satisfying. It is probably the most dancefloor-ready thing here so far: this is not a bangin’ album.

Swinging London Town: Very odd and I’m not sure if it totally works, again on the “if it’s a Britpop album” tip with a Pulp comparison, the weird spoken-word parts of Wicker Man or Sheffield Sex City springing to mind, undermining – but maybe creatively – the boshin electro bits.

It’s Magic: Not a Pilot cover sadly. I’m enjoying this but not loving it, a little too diffuse to make an impact though some good “synthwork” I guess. Maybe I’m just getting a little knackered by the effort of listening to a whole album, it’s been months!

No Regrets: Back in balladland, this isn’t anywhere near as poor as “See The Day” but is actually a bit under-produced, can’t seem to decide if it wants to be a stark drum-pad confessional or something more Manilow and falls between two stools.

Racey Lacey: A song that will hugely annoy many people, sounding as it does like Geri Halliwell doing Great Escape era Blur.

Overall: Mildly disappointing, even though there’s nothing dreadful apart from “See The Day” it feels like a weaker record than Neighbours, busier but less surprising and charming. “Biology” and “Wild Horses” total winners though.

Swedish Director Biopic In Christmas Movie Bid

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Buses around London have started advertising a new Lassie pic. I have no problem with that, she is a perennial old dog and there is no point teaching her new tricks now. Redeem a young child, rescue kids from the well, capture bad guys almost certainly played by an ugly British comedian. You get the picture.

Except that the posters, for some reason, replace the I in Lassie with a small child. Fine, this is the kid whose love will conquer all. But he doesn’t look like the letter I, and the spacing is all off on the poster. So what you actually read is Lasse. Now why anyone would want to make a biopic of Lasse Hallstrom I don’t know. His is a patchy “grown-up”=sappy directing career at best. And why would they put a dog on said poster?

Unless the dog is a reference to My Life As A Dog, his first big international hit. Sometimes, it all makes sense.