Posts from 16th August 2002

Aug 02


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SUNSCREEM – Love You More
‘You can make the sun turn purple, you can make the sea turn turtle
But you know you can never make me love you more.’

Don’t look for a rose in a cess-pit is an adage I’ve followed much of my life, so expecting lyrics that make sense from an early nineties dance act would seem futile. Nevertheless in the forest of platitudinal exressions of love, and waving ones hands in the air this lyric stands out as particularly nonsensical. Who is this man who can make the sun turn purple? That is quite impressive. Not as impressive however this act which is described as “Making the sea turn turtle”. Perhaps this is a reference to how turtles can turn over on their back – suggesting that this fella can literally upend the ocean. Either that or he can turn the entirity of a sea, and perhaps even the entire worlds oceans into one huge – oddly shaped turtle. A feat indeed.

There is only one being that can do this – God. And a somewhat frivolous and malevolent god at that (imagine a purple sun and a sea made of turtle- fishermen would be very very pissed off). The existence of Sunscreem – albeit for one terrible summer in 1992 – kind of runs contrary to the existence of a benevolent god anyway. But wait – what else do they say – ‘you could never make me love you more’ . More than what? Since this being can achieve the near impossible it follows that it would be impossible for the rat-tailed, dreadlocked trustafarian to love him at all. Suggesting that she is indeed the devil. A conclusion the music amply backs up.

SUGABABES – “Round Round”

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SUGABABES – “Round Round”

Higgins. Cooper. Cowling. Powell. Coler. Buchanan. Buena. Range. Pflueger. Stecher. Hofmann. Spadavecchiaand. These are the twelve people who wrote “Round Round”. This is twice as many people as wrote “Freak Like Me”, and since “Round Round” is only half as good pop maths suggests that the committee method has perhaps gone too far. On the other hand there’s one part of “Round Round” where an entirely different song drops in, as if by accident, and it works pretty well – so maybe if it had been twelve different songs we’d have seen some action.

At least having two different songs fits in with the Sugababes’ ‘thing’ right now. The Sugababes’ ‘thing’ used to be that they were the girl pop group who wrote their own stuff and never smiled – whereas now the Sugababes ‘thing’ is that they’re the girl pop group who never smile because they hate each other (They also still write their own stuff but when everybody else they’ve ever met gets a credit too it’s a tough angle to push). The transplanted third head of the Sugabeast is Heidi Range who joined the band when grumpy redhead Siobhan left. On the cover of “Round Round” Heidi is sitting facing Keisha and Mutya who are looking at one another not her. They are all sitting on the edge of a swimming pool: Mutya and Keisha are probably thinking about pushing Heidi in.

But they can’t because – oddly – the Sugababes have only started having big hits and getting big cred since Heidi joined. “Freak Like Me”‘s enormity could have been a novelty thing (though the trendy London booty audience is surely not big enough to swing a number one), but “Round Round” is apparently matching it. It’s also the most straightforwardly pop thing the Sugababes have ever released – none of the introversion of “Overload” or “Soul Sound”, none of the mutedness, none of the dirty fizz of “Freak Like Me”. A really strong, glossy chorus; some reasonable verses; that’s all. It could almost be Atomic Kitten, or Hear’Say. I’m very fond of the Sugababes and I’m delighted they’re getting all this attention – but I do have to ask, why now?

Steve Earle-John Walkers Blues

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Steve Earle-John Walkers Blues
It has had controversy, and then controversy about that controversy and then call outs about how the artist is doing this for the publicity, which makes Steve Earle’s John Walkers Blues an official meme.

I have been looking for the song so I don’t have to depend on the press and have not had much luck on Kaaza or Win MX but thanks to Geoff ParkesI have found a copy and can talk about the music itself.

The First Criticism about the song was that it praised John Walker, and that was treasonous, for Walker plotted against America. This song isn’t really about Walker, it’s about America.

The Second Criticism has been that Earle is an out of touch marxist who is using Walker as a way to criticize youth culture. There is not much judgement here, and in the mirror not much praise. It is a simple narrative.

The Third Criticism is that the sounds of Mullahs and Imams,the chanting of Arabic Prayers as a coda is disrespectful to Islam. Being a simple narrative that criticizes Americas culture of consumption by using the figure of John Walker, there needs to be some Islamic Content.

The piece starts with a standard leftist criticism of American Culture. But you cannot avoid that with Walker. As Earle points out this was a wealthy scion of California, coddled in the therapeutic culture that fails to provide a belief system of much structure. He talks about how John felt isolated from the culture. He is “just an American boy/raised on mtv/seen all the kids in the soda pop bands/ and none of them look like me”

Feeling isolated from the immersive content of youth media, his identity as a teenager and as a citizen is questioned. That questioning leads him farther and farther. Why doesn’t Earle insert his voice here? Because it is not Earles song.

Thats the genius of the song. He is speaking through Walker because he knows all the editorials view this decision as incomprehensible . The only way that we can understand Berkley to Kabul is when we are told as a first person narrative, because the “soda pop bands” talk that way.
The Country song is American and the Arabic inserts itself as a musical trope to explain the development of his spirit. God has replaced America and the Mosque has provided content and structure, and this content is why there is a Coda of Mullahs.

There is one problem ,and that is his mention of Christ in the third verse, calling attention to his Ascension using Jesus as a blueprint. I think that the Narrator does this as a critique of the west. We have worked hard not to know Islam and the only religious terms we can understand are Judeo-Christian ones. That is whythe Arabic later on is so powerful, It loses us.

The Geezaesthetic Manifesto

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A Manifesto, by Various Geezers

Geezaesthetics was coined by ILE’s Jerry The Nipper as a one-word summary of our critical stance. What did he mean? Only he knows (printing this is at least partly a nudge at him to tell us!) – we took it as an affectionate diss, and over a few beers decided to reclaim the word. Since it’s rather a good one.

Hence this modest sort of manifesto, our version of what being a Geezaesthetic might involve. It speaks for itself, but I’ll use this introduction to make a couple of extra points. First of all, the manifesto is unfinished. It will probably always be unfinished, but add to it yourself if you like. Second, and importantly, we know that the word ‘geezer’ carries a gender implication. We also know that everyone who drafted the manifesto is a man. Geezaesthetics, though, wants to show no gender bias: whether it has avoided any is something you’ll have to decide for yourself.

1. We are critics as soon as we listen to a record, watch a film, experience any art of any kind. Any reaction, from rapture to depression of the off switch, is an act of criticism. We’re not necessarily happy about this, but we’re stuck with it so there’s no point being unhappy about it either.