I Hate Music

30
Jul 02

BREAKFAST OF BANALITY 8: JELLY ROLL MORTON – Ham And Eggs

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BREAKFAST OF BANALITY 8: JELLY ROLL MORTON – Ham And Eggs

I wonder if you have ever applied for a job dear reader. I know I have. Its important to be specific on ones CV – mine has the usual clauses (will work for gin, no mornings or indeed early afternoons, absolutely no music in the office) but often our success lies in our previous qualifications. So imagine if you will a CV which contained a previous job so terrible, so despicable that you would never work again. Inventor of the gas chamber would be one. Designer of Mr Blobby might be another. Voice of Woody Woodpecker would certainly be a third. But the claim on Jelly Roll Morton’s CV puts all of these into shame, shame I tell you. For even if you got past the fact that young Ferdinand for some reason prefered the moniker Jelly Roll – you would not be able to ignore this genocidical error. Clears as the gut on his oversized body it said “Inventor Of Jazz”.

Jazz is something I have talked about at length before. A musical form which is rife with contradictions – based on improvisation and yet stiflingly dull. And one of the reasons for this contradiction is the man with the foodstuff in his name. For if there is one thing worse that inventing jazz, it must surely be pretending to invent jazz. Jazz had been around for ages before Jelly Roll got on the case. Jazz had been annoying punters in New Orleans for a good twenty years before Morton decided to invent it, burbling here and there with a touch of ragtime and other easily improvised arrangements. What Morton did was to write it down. Apparently a classically trained pianist I can certainly see his desire to get away from the so-called classics. And if his idea was to write down a new form of unlistenable music to make everyone realise that al music was inherently a tissue of tat then I could applaude him. But instead this womanised, gambler and occasional piano abuse set down the “rules” for writing down boring old jazz standards.

Ham And Eggs is one such trad piece of tedium. Named after his favourite breakfast treat it was one of many songs that this unsurprisingly fat man wrote about food and eating. His sweet tooth was so bad that he had to get his gnashers replaced by a diamond, which he later pawned in the depression. Indeed there is a school of thought (Headmistress Ms T.Headon) that puts the Depression in the US wholly down to the invention of Jazz as a form. With a music so directionless, you got listeners being equally directionless or even suicidal. Hence a massive stock market crash and an inability to afford Ham And Eggs, or even a Jelly Roll. Let alone a lousy 78 rpm recording of a man named after a foodstuff singing a song about food.

26
Jul 02

BREAKFAST OF BANALITY 7: ALL SAINTS – Black Coffee & Lady Marmalade

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BREAKFAST OF BANALITY 7: ALL SAINTS – Black Coffee & Lady Marmalade

Without a doubt one of the most hateful bands ever for recording not one, but two breakfast themed records. It was a happy day round Headon Towers when this West London girl-group gave up and threw in the rag. A girl group of transatlantic foolishness which could only have come together in that hellish hive of media arse-wankery that is Notting Hill – the band named themselves All Saints as an obvious attempt to try and distract attention from how diabolical they were. They were marketed as the credible answer to the Spice Girls, which was like saying Ian was the credible one out of the Krankies.

I’ve attacked the Moulin Rouge version of Lady Marmalade before – and at least the All Saints version does not make the error of thinking the word is pronounced Marma-Lard. It instead makes the error of being frighteningly bland, and their second cover version in a row to show that their songwriting skills were not quite up to scratch. But then what do you expect from the illegitimate offspring of Anastasia and a woman who has a sofa for a mouth. Black Coffee was at least an original composition, just one which lacked the basic understanding of song composition in as much as it is never a good idea to end with the intro. It was also lyrically complete guff “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here” they sing – and then they promptly split up – never ever to sing together again. Yay!

18
Jul 02

BREAKFAST OF BANALITY 6: THE MARMALADE – O-Bla-Di O-Bla-Da

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BREAKFAST OF BANALITY 6: THE MARMALADE – O-Bla-Di O-Bla-Da

Strike one agains this record is a that it is a Lennon & McCartney song. Not only that but a Lennon & McCartney song that they were initially too embarrassed to record. Its naivity and simplicity (and its attempt at ripping off reggae) smacks more of Macca that the poor stand-up comic of the group but nevertheless it is the Marmalade version which is laughably definative. McCartney was no stranger to breakfast songs of course, writing Scrambled Eggs which later got a lyrical overhaul – to no great improvement – to become Yesterday. But to The Marmalade…

The Marmalade were typical of your British psychedlic tinged rock groups of the late sixties. Spurred by Seargent Pepper, such bands would knock together loosely concepted singles and albums mainly on the theme of taking too many drugs. The problem is that the research needed to make such songs would involve taking lots of drugs and as anyone who has read my drugs poll recently – drugs do not make a good songwriting partnership. So much so in The Marmalade’s case that their first album had no less that seven cover versions on it. In 1968 did the world really need another version of Hey Mr Tambourine Man? Any tambourine men knocking around in 1968 must have thought they were the most popular men in the world – what with all this heying going on. Imagine being a tambourine man called Jude. You would be heyed to death.

O-Bla-Di O-Bla-Da was recorded with the incessant pop chirpiness of a band who really did not understand what the song was about, and more importantly had never met a black person in their lives. Nearly all trace of a skank is airbrushed out of it, not that McCartney skanked much in the first place, and this song about Desmond and Molly Jones was turned into a nonsense kids song. I’m not saying there was an awful lot of significance to the minor trials and tribulation of Des and Mol’s lives (Desmond sees Molly, he buys her a ring, they have kids, they live happily ever after, whilst still being relegated to working in a market for twenty years) but all the Marmalade got out of it was singing “O-Bla-Di O-Bl-Da life goes on” as some kind of meaningless hippy mantra. Infact the song represented a cruel indictment of the plight of the Windrush generation in inner-city England. Put upon, forced to work in the market, Desmond and Molly put up with it all just with the release of singing in the evening. A story of no stupider saps in my book, if you live for singing then you might as well be dead.

The Marmalade lived for singing, and despite this one hit with this anaemic cover, were no longer heard from and careerwise were dead. Life goes on: hey?

16
Jul 02

BREAKFAST OF BANALITY 5: ORANGE JUICE

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BREAKFAST OF BANALITY 5: ORANGE JUICE

Orange juice, the sunshine drink! Now, Vitamin C – present in concentrated and tasty form in orange juice – is vital for preventing scurvy and anemia. These are diseases characterized by muscle wasting, easy bruising, fatigue, listlessness and jaundice. So is it not perhaps a little bit ironic that Orange Juice (the band) put out the most simpering, weedy, knock-kneed, pallid and gauche music ever made?

Now I’m reliably informed that the four spotty, spindly streaks of piss who first formed Orange Juice were among the toughest punkers in Glasgow. That may be so – however I point the reader to photographs of the band (jumper catalogue showcases which make the cast of Gregory’s Girl look like a World’s Strongest Man contest), or to the cover of their first album (awww – dolphin-wolphins!), or to the hamfisted jangling noise they made, or to their aw-shucks girls-don’t-like-me lyrics – and I ask said reader this: if it wears clothes like a duck, and packages records like a duck, and plays guitar like a duck and writes words like a duck, might it not be a bastard duck?

The shocking and awful truth about Orange Juice is this: they invented indie music, not by conceiving and perfecting the form with a string of unsullied pop gems but by being so shoddy that limp-necked loons like Roddy Frame, Nick Heyward, Morrissey and David Gedge thought “Bloody hell, even I could do that?”. Rip it up and start again? Too late for that, I’m afraid. But I’ll settle for Edwyn Collins’ neck – freshly squeezed.

BREAKFAST OF BANALITY 4: BLUR – Coffee And T(ea)V

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BREAKFAST OF BANALITY 4: BLUR – Coffee And T(ea)V

B-b-but – says you the foolish music lover – the song is just called Coffee And TV. Well yes, but inherent in this clever word playing title is the contrast between Coffee (a breakfast drink), Tea (another quintissentially English breakfast drink) and TV (a piece of electrical equipment of which there is a banal genre called Breakfast TV). This juxtaposition of Tea and TV as both beverage opposites and epistimological opposites of Coffee illustrates the not only the Americanisation of Britain (a perenial theme in Blur songs) but also the choices we have to make as soon as we get up.

Either that or its all art-school wank. Hmm, where did Blur meet again. Still we can give the the benefit of the doubt and examine some of the lyrics:
‘Do you feel like a chainstore,
Practically floored”.

Yet again this is ripe for disection, Albarn is playing on the different meanings on the word floored. Firstly he is looking at floored as the phenomena of having a floor. Secondly though he is using the somewhat archaic parlance taken from boxing to knock someone out, or by extension to surprise them. He also gets a bonus meaning in here too – floored being a phoneme of flawed. And if you examine the chainstore metaphor we yet again are presented with the idea of bland, faceless modernity and creeping Americanisation.

Or is it infact just a rubbish pun? After can one feel like a chainstore really? No – a chainstore is a building without feelings so this is just a silly play on words which doesn’t even scan very well. A pile of toss with pretensions for high art but the tune of sixties soap powder jungle. There is only one thing worse than being stupid Mr Albarn, and that is being stupid and thinking that you are clever.

12
Jul 02

BREAKFAST OF BANALITY 3: THE EGG

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BREAKFAST OF BANALITY 3: THE EGG

I am not a gready person. I have been known to share a bottle of Tanq or two with other like minded people. Never hear it be told that I did not stump up for someone’s birthday (though I some of my friends are getting a bit bored of getting different coloured ear protectors every year). And I could quite happily make do with one tactical nuclear weapon a year to obliterate whatever town appeared to be gestating a musical scene. 1990 Manchester would have got it. 1988 I would have happily bombed Stourbridge. 1992 Bristol. And 1995 – Oxford.

I hate Oxford. For a place so relatively small it has certainly spawned some terrible music. Supergrass, Radiohead, Thurman (hah – I’ll get back to them). And The Egg. Who, you ask if you are lucky enough never to have been played at by this bunch of chancers, who are The Egg? Let me try to describe them without damning them in one sentence.

The Egg: Psychadelic-dance- jazz-fusion.

Ah well, failed there. Would it surprise you to hear that The Egg are popular on the festival circuit? Would it surprise you to hear that each one of their individual songs goes on for about twenty minutes? Would it surprise you if I told you that the band members dressed in white sheets infront of a white backdrop and then project even duller psychadelic films on themselves? If those things would surprise you then let me tell you something that won’t surprise you. They are crap.

The idea behind The Egg is one that every drummer probably had in 1990. Dance music was encroaching and with dance music came the drum machine putting them out of work. Also with dance music came people who were terrible at playing live . Sequenced music left them with nothing to do but dance, which is the one thing no-one in a dance act – like DJ’s – can actually do. So what is the conclusion? Wouldn’t it be great if we could, like, play dance music live. From here on in we allow the Ozric Tentacles of this world on to the stage. But when the drummer who thinks this is a jazz drummer, and he lives in Oxford (a place where frankly a paraplegic one man band could get a gig) a band like The Egg are formed. The kind of band that has a great live rep but not much in the way of recorded output. The kind of band you need to take very strong drugs to watch. The kind of band who should be hunted down now by Interpol. Anything but cracking.

11
Jul 02

BREAKFAST OF BANALITY 2: TORI AMOS – Cornflake Girl

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BREAKFAST OF BANALITY 2: TORI AMOS – Cornflake Girl

Y Kant Tori Read? Now there is a question – posed by her first and often hidden away “metal” album which remained unanswered for some time. The obvious solution is that she is stupid, and I’ll still stick to this up to a point. It becomes clearer though when you listen to Cornflake Girl, in which she reminisces about her childhood as some sort of half-girl half-cereal hybrid. Unusual as this would be in many schools Tori was lucky in as much as her school was obviously used to having half human half foodstuff kids knocking around the hall as she used to hang with the Raisin Girls. The Raisin Girls were obviously the offspirng of those thoroughly annoying Californian Raisins who sang terrible cover versions of terrible soul songs in the mid-eighties in some sort of racist commentary on how much Otis Redding looked like raisin. Obviously after he had been dead for a couple of years….

Back to the adventures of the girl bitten my a radioactive cornflake though. Rather than using her powers of being part of a nutritious breakfast and being able to stay crispy in cold milk for good, she instead decided to learn to play piano. This would have been fine, cornflakes aren’t very good at playing piano, until one day she came across a Kate Bush album. Rather than doing the correct thing – breaking it into tiny pieces – she took the copy of Lionheart down to the nearest plastic surgeon for and all over job. He managed to erase nearly all signs of cornflake, the rest she tucked under her big red hair. Using this template she changed herself from a breakfast foodstuff to something you would have with a mid afternoon cup of coffee. Kooky.

10
Jul 02

BREAKFAST OF BANALITY 1: SUPERTRAMP – Breakfast In America

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BREAKFAST OF BANALITY 1: SUPERTRAMP – Breakfast In America

“Take a look at my girlfriend – she’s the only one I got,
Not much a girlfriend – we never seem to get along”

Now I’m no relationship counsellor but I think I can see why you – Mr Trampus Trampus Superior might not be gelling with your main squeeze. Acknowledging casually in a rubbish mid-seventies soft rock style that your girlfriend isn’t up to much is a sure fire way for her to cool her jets with you. And talking about jets, the whole premise of this flimsy song is that you want to dump said girl to go ogling the girls in California. For breakfast. But let us examine the flight schedules of all major airlines. You see it takes about nine hours to fly from the UK to California. However California is seven hours behind the UK in time difference. So to arrive for breakfast, the raison (bran) d’etre of the song you would have to leave at about breakfast time in the UK. However for the individual flying, it would actually be dinner-time by their internal clock – hence any meal taken would personally be dinner, whether or not it was being served in the morning. Not only am I being logical here (as the band would approve in the somewhat illogical Logical Song) but I’m Bloody Well Right too.

Perhaps this song was equally written under the influence of jet-lag. It can easily disorientate a person, leaving them confused, nauseous and on the strength of Supertramp’s output wholly robbing you of any musical talent. That said – it is nothing compared to being snuck up to in a dark alleyway (Californain or not) and being lead piping lagged.

9
Jul 02

THE BREAKFAST OF BANALITY

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THE BREAKFAST OF BANALITY

What is the most important meal of the day? I was asked this by some pesky consumer survey thing which had been popped through my door which was sitting upon the pile of unopened Britannia Music Club application forms and death threats from Monsoon Bassoon (its the only publicity you’ll ever get from the internet – you might as well call it a day suckers). As I sucked first on the free biro in the pack and then on a refreshing mixture laced with juniper and quinnine it seemed very clear to me the mid-afternoon cocktails was the answer. This was not offered however, showing a great lack of foresight. Instead the line-up was as follows:
a) Breakfast
b) Lunch
c) Dinner
None of these seemed suitably alcoholic to me. I suppose lunch can be made palatable by being made liquid but truth be told even that is a touch early for me. Dinner always seems to get in the way of boozing. As for the other one, you know I wasn’t quite sure of what the word meant. So I looked it up in a dictionary.

Imagine my surprise to find that there was a whole meal I had been missing. A meal in the morning (a concept which was also relatively new to me). Intrigued I delved further – and what did I find. The most disgustingly depraved culinary ideas ever. A meal which oft consisted of toasted flakes of corn, fat ridden pig products and so many musical reminders that frankly it turned my stomach. No sir – breakfast is not for me – not with its Bread, Toast, Orange Juice – and those are just three bands for starters. I sleep through til 2pm, until the soothing tones of my G’n’Teasmade wakes me from my silent slumber. Breakfast is the most musical meal of the day – not only is the worst excesses of music radio pumping out at the time but so many musical reminders lay within its bounds. Over the next few weeks I intend to prove this as I bring you the most frightening IHM piece ever. Ladies and gentlemen I bring you : The Breakfast Of Banality.

8
Jul 02

BY WAY OF EXPLAINATION

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BY WAY OF EXPLAINATION

I have been missing in action again dear reader, and as with previous enforced absences my lack of posting here has not meant that I have not been doing good out there in the real world. Indeed I spent much of the last month building a huge impregnable fence around the Glastonbury Festival – not to ensure that the event will take place in future years but rather to turn it into an open prison of hippies and musicians. Imagine if you will a jail which held the likes of the Stereophonics, Coldplay, Queens Of The Stone Age and Air – now that is something I think we can all agree would be worth tax payers money.

Instead though some bastard with the hair on the wrong side of his face turned up and put some gates in to let all the musicians back out again. Next year I’m using land mines.

WHilst I was desperately trying to find some reinforced steel to block up the entrances I had to admit I caught self styled (and genetically styled I suppose) French Group Air on their way in. I though prog rock was dead (indeed I though I had watched its final death throes when I convinced Emerson and Palmer to go jump in Lake). Instead there they were, with their twinkling light show in the rain and the ponderous breezeblock heavy tunes boring everyone to tears who could have already been bored by Roger Waters quadrophonic sound on the other stage. Why Rog thinks he will sound better on four speakers when it has already been proven that the only number that does his croak justice is zero I’ll never know. Anyway, Air, with their bigh gimmick at the end of their set showed exactly why Glastonbury really should be concreted over with all the punters still in there. At the end of the tedium they played Sexy Boy, a less sexy song (or bunch of boys for that matter) I cannot imagine. At which point they release 68, 000 cubic meters of Air. Over the campsite. A more vain effort I have never seen. I didn’t hear it cos I had earplugs in. Made me wish I had gone to see Poison instead.

Anyway I am back from horrible Somerset with its horrible G&T substitute made of apples, and have a new project to unveil. So stick around, preferably with ear plugs, as I unleash the Breakfast Of Banality – undoubtedly the least important meal of your day.