Posts from 8th February 2006

Feb 06

THE BEACH BOYS – “Good Vibrations”

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#226, 19th November 1966

A couple of years ago, I was in a karaoke pub. “Good Vibrations” flashed up on the screen and a confident, 40-ish businessman stepped up to sing it. He was immediately nonplussed by the intro, and as the song continued it became obvious that he knew nothing except the chorus, which he sang with brio and the help of many friends. “Good, good, good, good vibrations!”

“Good Vibrations” has a really, really, great chorus. A chorus so fine and memorable that some people – like our businessman – forget how tricksy the rest of the song is. It’s turned what might have been a beloved curio into public pop property.

In a way, the chorus affects me like it affects the businessman – when I come to “Good Vibrations” I’m almost always surprised again at its oddness, how sudden some of its second-half cuts are, like the jump at 2’13” between the “my, my, my” bit and the light brushes that intro the “gotta keep those” section. The chorus distracts me from the detail, stops it from overwhelming, entices me back to explore it again.

So why this much detail in the first place? What’s it all for? Of course the novel structure is its own reward, and so is the prettiness, and the attention paid to making exotic instruments sound so intimate, like you’re next to Brian Wilson in his workshop. But the structure also serves the theme of the song: “Good Vibrations” is a meditation on a beloved other, a meditation interrupted by surges of joy, and which in its second half breaks down into a whirl of delightful themes, scenes, ideas, each of which is so pretty it cuts its predecessor off. So the record succeeds as a sound-impression of a mind giddily in love, restless with beauty and unable to finish its thoughts, and each thought leading anyhow to the same wonderful place.

Tinned Chicken Story Spun Positively

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 246 views

This appears to be a heartwarming story about a couples enduring love and the belief in the efficacy of the canned food process.

However, looking at the story from a different angle the headline clearly should have been:

Brokedown Music

Do You SeePost a comment • 275 views

Brokeback Mountain, as illustrated by the Brokeback to The Future parody, has something that so many recent films have lacked. A solidly recognisable soundtrack. The Gustavo Santaolalla soundtrack is sonambulisticly wistful, to the point that you might want to slap the guitar player around the head to get a bloody move on.

So what is Santaolalla’s background? A quick search comes up with him being the house musician for Alejandro Iñárritu, director of Amorres Perros (which had notably gutsy music itself). And his soundtrack to The Motorcycle Diaries was certainly evocative to the point of obviousness. A soundtrack artist to watch then, in as much as you give him the premise (gay shepherds), and he will come up with a nicely obvious soundtrack.

Missed Marketing Opportunities – #2

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 1,017 views

Doctor Kathy Investigates

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 184 views

She may or may not be a Doctor, and it may or may not be in a science, but on telly, does that really matter? She knows what’s what and that’s good enough. Anyway, there have been some great little bits in this short series, though there has also been the required quota of patronising explanations and over-long/boring “some science was done” montages. You do wonder if there are out-takes of Kathy losing her patience, for example when she was talking to the healers and the kirlian photo/aura people in the US – Kathy stands up throwing her chair over screaming “STOP SPEAKING CHARLATAN FOR YOU TALK NONSENSE” while pointing right in their faces.

She waits til she’s some safe distance away and does this calmly to camera “They were talking bollocks” sez she. What a saint. We should bury Dawkings and install Dr Kathy in his place. A little blander, which is perhaps a good thing, and anyway she has a much nicer smile. (Emma says she could do with a make over from those two harridans who insult people’s old cardies though.)

OK so the series hasn’t thrown up too many surprises, some herbs are great, the placebo effect is quite incredible and an active area of interesting research, but these are important things that need re-emphasising in the face of the maddening popularity of the dead-end that is “healers”.

So far Dr K’s only looked at accupuncture, herbalism and “healing”, and perhaps that’s it. I’m sort of hoping she’ll do a “mixed bag” episode where she spends a few minutes on all the other stuff:

Crystals and phials of coloured water are being balanced on a “patient”‘s back as whalesong plays quietly. Dr K leans over to and whisper’s in their ear “get 1x grip.. plz”

A reflexology “clinic”. Dr K hands the patient a note which is opened and reads “YOU ARE A MENTAL”.

Someone is practicing iridology. Dr K walks in at the back, crosses her eyes and winds her finger at her own temple.

Maybe on BBC3.

FBU: The Friendly Bacteria Union

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 294 views

An interesting look at the claims made about so-called friendly foods from the Guardian, foods where claims are for active boosting of immune systems, intelligence, gut-rot. Of course the Guardian and The Observer can talk, Dr John Briffa has now usurped the Barefoot Doctor as the column I most hate at the weekend (admittedly via the fact that the Barefoot Doctor has been axed). If I hear one more rant from him about how fruit juice is evil and carbs kill I’ll throttle him myself: there are people out there who cut food out of their diet because of him, and never add the good stuff back.

But this is off the point. The point being a drunken pub conversation last night, where the whole status of friendly bacteria was called into question. In particular are they really friendly or are we actually just abusing them, some sort of nano-slaves in our body. And to what extent could they change their protozoic minds, rise up and abuse their human overlords? All it would take is a word from some of the less friendly bacteria and it could all be over for the human race. So beware when you neck you (useless) bottles of Yakult. And store them by the Domestos, just in case.

Remember Binge Drink Britain?

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 297 views

So basically, despite an enormous amount of media time and plod money being spent on looking for trouble, violent crime has fallen since flexible licensing hours came in. Good news all round – cheers!