Posts from 10th December 2002

Dec 02

And not to preempt my own press, but…:

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And not to preempt my own press, but…: great Voice all around this week, with ILX’s Sean Carruthers giving Tom Petty a nice noogie of logic, Elena Oumano on Sean Paul, Shaggy, & “American” dancehall, and a Michael Freedberg piece on darkwave (paging DJ Martian), which made Nancy happy with the line “Me, I’m not only far too mainstream, I’m skinny — a size 12, dammit.”

Jess on the Sugababes

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Jess on the Sugababes – I liked this piece a lot.


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UNTOUCHABLES MUSIC/GUBI SANDHU – “Teray Meray Pyar Dian” / Danger 2

Over the past couple of years, pop trendwatchers have spotted, feted and provisionally buried the trend for ‘Indian’ influences in hip-hop. But what’s been happening at the other end of this connection? “Teray Meray Pyar Din” and its terrific parent album Danger 2 offer hints. “Teray” is electroclash, bhangra and garage all stewed up together – sounds great, or a mess, or a novelty, or just more music depending on where you’re culturally parked. Melancholic refrains bent and tweaked by vocoders like a Daft Punjabi Punk; a jerky Jerkins-y intro smoothed out by synthpop glide; MCing with a thick, phlegmy flow jacked outright from Neutrino… I like it all but it never quite joins up. The album leaps styles like crazy – drum n bass, hip-hop, house-pop, all wearing their bhangra makeovers more or less gracefully. Some of it’s marvellous – “Jat Marda” swipes the backing of Pharaoh Monch’s “Simon Says” and almost puts the “Bombay” in “bombast”; “Thenoo Thakiya” is the most propulsively poignant jump-up track you’ve heard in a while. Occasionally it switches from exhilarating to irritating a little too quickly and often, in its gleeful urge to mash anything and everything urban up into one vast vibey pudding, but you forgive it.

Predictably, as a Euro-dilettante who gets off on the tumbling, flowing rhythm beds of bhangra and Bollywood as much as their magpie pop nous, at first I liked the ‘Boliyan’ tracks best – bhangra as I’d come to think of it, marrying club-dub basslines with subcontinental beats. To someone clued into the subculture that’s producing the music, these are the ‘Old Skool’ – back-to-’94 bores according to the website I researched this on. The garage and R’n’B tracks are more up-to-date. (Ironically, the “Boliyan” track itself is Danger 2‘s sexiest stab at UK Garage).

Everything’s interrelated, of course. UK Garage itself took more than half a cue from hip-hop, particularly when So Solid broke through and MCing became omnipresent. Everyone rapping on this record seems to be borrowing So Solid Crew styles and even voices – and SSC were themselves nicking ideas from dancehall MCs whose producers are yet again going back to hip-hop for their newest riddims. Not only is everything related, it all seems to be moving closer together, with hip-hop the Great Attractor exerting an unstoppable pull on urban genres worldwide. As the gravity rises, the ‘old skool’ vs ‘new school’ arguments bubble up everywhere – avatars of bigger arguments about purity and hybridisation, about the global and the local. And right now is an exciting time – hip-hop, dancehall, garage, bhangra, rave all rubbing up to one another; talking, provoking, sharing energy. Homogeneity is a risk, but for now at least the ‘new school’ is winning.

Who said romance wasn’t dead?

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Who said romance wasn’t dead? It might not be dead but on these efforts it may well be very, very sick indeed…. Still his hair isn’t as silly as Michael Bolton’s was.


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I have been contacted by a long time reader to bemoan my lack of commentary on the 1980’s band Furniture – a beat combo who barely set the charts alight in 1986. Now I know I say I set out to be encyclopaedic here, but give me some chance. I was happy to have put this morose bunch of chancers out of my head.

There is a theory knocking about at the moment that every word in the English language has been used in a bands name. Perhaps this has bearing on the success of Furniture. While the theory may be true, no band called the Wardrobes, The Prancing Sofas, or the Chiltern Three Piece-Suite has ever dented the charts. Furniture made a slight graze on the top twenty with Brilliant Mind, a song whose lyrics accurately describe their own shock at anyone buying it.
“You must be out of your brilliant mind”
they sang, not realising that while their consumers were indeed a couple of crusts short of a loaf even the stupidest people in the world (Elton John fans ferexample) would soon get the patronising and condescending tone. As their album said they were “The Wrong People” and even Stiff records, not a label shy of punting shit on to an unsuspecting public – deleted the damn thing in a matter of weeks.

Such a marketing stategy has only been surpassed once since. The band Living In A Box whose single “Living in A Box” was aimed at and marketed solely to people who were also living in boxes. Not realising that the disposable income of such box dwellers in Waterloo’s Cardboard City was not enough to stretch to a cup of tea, let alone synth-pop by a band without enough imagination to think of a band name and a song title.