Posts from 27th June 2000

Jun 00

My name is Greg

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I like sweets and the KLF. I relax by listening to classic hip hop records from 1983 and watching Only Fools And Horses. On a bad day I may rate Toytown Techno as possibly the fourth greatest musical genre of all time. On other days I may listen to some better breakbeat-based music and realise it’s the runt of the hardcore litter. I’ll be accompanying you through the proceeding week. Direct your mail this way.

I’m going on holiday until the 5th. I’ll be having a great time, and I’ll be nowhere near any computers

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I leave NYLPM in the hands of Robin, Josh, Fred, Greg, Ned, and Mike, who hopefully between them will be able to post at least something every day (pretty please…?!). Blue Lines will go into hibernation for a week, and I Hate Music remains in the all-too-capable hands of Ms. Headon. Luckily you can still follow all the fabulous music links in the right-hand column. Bye now!

DUEL! – The Final

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DUEL! – The Final: this is it – Smashing Pumpkins vs Travis for the title of Worst Band In The World. A signed certificate of badness. designed by Al, will be delivered to the most convincing address we can find for the winner. Polls open all week, so get those comments in.

If you need a starter on Travis, try here: “Now, if things were as they should be, Travis would be travelling to student union gigs in a broken-down old Transit borrowed from one of their uncles. They’d be third on a bill of three – and bloody grateful for it”.

The Magnetic Fields Bring the Pain Live

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The Magnetic Fields Bring the Pain Live: Stephin Merritt grumpy shocker.

The Specials and the first great ska revival

I Hate Music9 comments • 1,815 views

How Special were The Specials? Undoubtedly some of them along the line went to a special school, if you get my drift. Certainly the dramatic decline of Terry Hall’s career suggests that education was not what he was all about.

Ah but take us back to the heady days of the first great Ska revival. The Specials were certainly at the Transit vanguard of this appropriation of tunes better suited to the Caribbean and transplanting them to the South Midlands. Ska is a joyous, infectious racket in theory – of course theories can rarely be proved in the cold light of day and instead what we got were a number of groups bludgeoning pissed down* Skatalites “classics”. But at least the Ska revival allowed lots of dumb groups (Bad Manners, The Beat) to bounce around and get their frustrations out in the carefully controlled atmosphere of the back room of a pub. Instead of beating people up on street corners (which I daresay Buster Bloodvessel may have turned to if he hadn’t got the funk.)

Problem is with any kind of dumb music, a band comes along and tries to make it intelligent. Two Tone Records gave us The Specials. Two Tone because, hey, some of them were black and some of them were white. Two Tone also because there were two tones in their music, the up beat and the down beat. And boy were they down beat. What The Specials did for racial integration in this country, they also did for political comment in song. Exactly nothing.

To try and explain the place of The Specials in a transatlantic context I will compare the first great ska revival with the second. Loathe as I am to point out that the Yanks fell for the same trick we did just fifteen years too late, I can try to make comparisons. If The Selecter are No Doubt, then The Specials were The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The highpoint of The Specials recording career was “Ghost Town”, a song about people not going out in Coventry anymore. Of course they weren’t going out anymore, all they were playing in the clubs was fucking Specials records. Oh – Coventry is like Detroit. Pointless concrete city who’s football team never does anything.

Ska withered and died, and will do too in the States. There are only so many songs you can play with two notes alternating. One starting on the up beat and the other starting on the down beat. Terry Hall became the mathematically correct third of Fun Boy Three, the highlight of whose career was doing a duet with Bananarama. And there’s nothing special about that.

*Pissed Down is like being watered down, with an obvious substitution of liquids.

Magic Bullets

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Magic Bullets: finally sorted out the letters page, which is now a blogger-powered DYNAMO and will let me print comments long or short with ease. But for today, a great rant from the mighty James Lucas, and coming up later this afternoon some comments on Britney and American culture.


I Hate Music4 comments • 1,423 views


I have a love-hate relationship with drugs in music. I – of course – am a clean living girl and would never take the things myself. Unless they were sleeping pills to avoid listening to the Velvet Underground. (I am not saying I would need sleeping pills to fall asleep during the VU – the VU do that nicely by themselves. Perhaps the Ramones would have been a better example. Though I often find one trick ponies, no matter how noisy, to be even duller than avant garde nonce-rock.)

Sorry, got sidetracked there. So much music, so little time. You see, drugs are responsible for some of the most appaling excesses committed to the ether. I’m thinking Jimi Hendrix, I am thinking the entirity of prog rock. I am thinking Acid House. Let us take The Shamen for example. Ebeneezer Goode, a track designed to glorify the marvelous powers of Ecstacy. And this was done exactly how? By inventing a character who bore an uncanny resemblence to Penelope Pitstop’s nemesis The Hooded Claw, who probably destroyed the sleep of a million ten year olds. Invented by a band who at the height of their success literally fell off a cliff, Ebeneezer Goode was an nasty piece of rave gone worse peddled to an audience who had not got over the demise of the KLF (me, I was too busy holding a year long street party). Rather than glorifying drugs, Mr “E’s Are Good” (geddit?) came on much like the rave generations version of Nick-O-Teen.

(Whilst off topic, Superman vs Nick-O-Teen. Superman, faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, piss-poor cover song by REM. Nick-O-Teen: bloke who smokes lots of fags, dressed like a ciggie and probably riddled with cancer. Not exactly a busy day at the office there for Supes.)

The E-generations contribution to music can be written on the back of one of Nick’s fag packets. LSD gave us Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds and possibly the worst period of the Beatles misbegotten career. And as for cocaine, show me a second album which does not have a song about charlie on it, and I’ll show you a band who’s first album did not go gold (it will be the same band). All this said though, I have a soft spot for drugs in music too.

Y’see drugs are the number one cause of mortality in your pop star. For every Boy George who manages to clean himself up and go on to the celebrity hat wearing circuit, we get a Kurt Cobain – opening up his mind the hard way. The drugs deaths of Brian Jones and Jimi Hendrix are reminders to all of us that there is capital punishment in the world of making lousy music. And even if the drugs don’t kill them, it usually marks a permenent demise in their recorded outlet, giving us three year sabbaticals and a joyous retirement into the Nice Price ranks. Why even last week young Billie Piper fell over in a wine bar due to a “mild kidney infection”. I know what that infection is called, and I also know the going rate for five grams of it. No – when I think of all the good that drugs have done music, in killing, maiming or curtailing careers – I cannot help but celebrate them.

Its like this, my drugs dillema reduced to basics. Without drugs, Nirvana would be a going concern, though possibly faded into sixth album obscurity like Pearl Jam. With drugs, we got the Foo Fighters. I think this one is too tight to call.

DUEL! – Semi Finals

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DUEL! – Semi Finals: it’s Travis against Moby for a place opposite Smashing Pumpkins in tomorrow’s final. My nails are bitten to the very quick.

Support Indie Rock

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Support Indie Rock: we mean it, maaan. (link via Millie, to whom goes a big NYLPM shout-out for her mission to bring METAL UP YOUR ASS to the ‘twee’ masses. I coincidentally discover this link when halfway through a piece which discusses why Stuart Murdoch should have been a House DJ, which I’ll probably post tomorrow.)