Posts from 14th October 2003

14
Oct 03

Louis Armstrong –

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Louis Armstrong – Hot Fives And Sevens

Tom has talked about the difficulty of switching from modern pop to ’50s #1s for his magnificent Popular project, but I just went from Disco Inferno (the interesting and sometimes impressive indie band, not the titanic disco classic) to 1925!

I’m not the world’s biggest jazz fan or expert, but I couldn’t resist a classy JSP box set of all Louis Armstrong’s ultra-canonical Hot Fives and Hot Sevens recordings from the ’20s at a bargain £9.99 in the current HMV sale. I was a little disappointed on studying the credits (surprisingly amateurishly and unevenly designed, incidentally, in comparison to exceptionally crisp remastering) to find out that Lonnie Johnson, a tricksy guitarist I really like, is only on four tracks out of 89, but there is lots of top Kid Ory and Earl Hines, as well as the star of the show.

I guess Armstrong is publicly remembered now more for Hello Dolly and What A Wonderful World and All The Time In The World (and sometimes, wrongly, for I Wanna Be Like You in The Jungle Book – that was the mighty Louis Prima), but it was as a musician that he became one of the unquestionable giants of the 20th Century, probably the most important musical figure of its first half. This is where it all starts, with these exciting recordings, in a style that you can still hear, bowderised and deadened, in many Sunday lunchtime pubs, played by old white guys in horrible waistcoats. You wouldn’t know it from listening to those dullards three quarters of a century later, but this is thrilling and fun stuff, with a sense of adventure and daring that you don’t find in much music, and a combination of wide-ranging artistic experiment and sheer entertainment that hasn’t been duplicated much in the following decades (actually, maybe it’s not so far from the combination of experimental noise and pretty tunes that Disco Inferno aim at). I should make clear that I do not mean that I can spot the experimenting in the context of its time and a sense of history, I mean it still sounds odd and surprising pretty often. Don’t be put off by the ‘every serious jazz fan must have this in their collection’ stuff, buy it because it’s top entertainment. I devoured it straight through, with a smile on my face a lot of the time.

In a game between Manchester United and England

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In a game between Manchester United and England, at the moment, Man U would probably win, although it seems according to the Observer that the interesting action would be in the fighting beforehand.

I know that if I had heard MU fans singing “Are you England in disguise?” to Leicester fans, I would have reacted very strongly because I would have interpreted it as racist, given Leicester’s famously multicultural population. Maybe anti-England sentiments on the part of Man U fans are sophisticated but if I were slapping myself on the back for being so clever, as the fellow from Red Issue appears to be here, I’d want to be very sure about the complex ways in which my songs might be understood.

I don’t know a lot about Leicester but is it possible that Leicester being an England-supporting City might be sophisticated in itself, an instrument of inclusion? Community is a complicated thing, whether at a national, international or local level and it’s the active exclusion of individuals from communities which is to be fought.

Mark K-Punk writes a fascinating and excellent response to that article, identifying a three-way tension in between MUFC as Sir Alex’s bastion of working-class pride; MUFC as the international entertainment Corporation of the PLC board; and the FA (do I feel like mapping these onto Superego, Id and Ego? I’m not sure).

Manchester United, it seems, manages to give (a section of) its fans something which England can’t, whether that’s a sense of cosmopolitanism, or a distance from ‘Eng-er-land’ or just a useful bargaining chip in a never-ending game of one-upmanship. Mark’s right that it seems strange that the thinking of (some of) the fans should be so close to the line of the PLC rather than the Ferguson-Family-Community way.

My memory of Red Issue is vague: I don’t suppose I’ve seen a copy since the very early 90s, but I certainly don’t remember it as a great bastion of progressive thought, and most of the Man U fans I knew hated the thing so I wonder how seriously we should take it. A lot of football fans are becoming better-versed in effective collective action (even at a corporate monster like Man U: Shareholders United have been surprisingly effective at getting a voice heard). Mark’s right, it is too easy to equate ‘localism’ with fascism but the key is to use localism – community – as part of a real actual fight against fascism. As our football industry correspondent Dave B argued in his piece here last month, hardcore football supporting can be used as a tool of exclusion, of slamming doors in outsiders’ faces. But that’s not the whole story. I might as well quote a whole para of Dave’s article, really, since it puts the positive side to the rather frightening K-Punk piece (‘Kapital’s Id running wild’? Brrr…):

“There is a kind of nationalism that can work positively; an inclusive nationalism, which sees the nation not as trans-historical and metaphysical, but simply the place where we live. Recognising the value of communities, and the value of collective action, it seeks to include rather than exclude; it’s a nationalism of the future, not the past; where are we going, not where we’ve come from. The price of entry is a commitment to being here right now; of not opting out of caring.”

New Reading

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New Reading: hurrah hurrah, book #2 about Byron being a vampire done and dusted. Grebt stuff, must find more. Perhaps I mite even read some Byron – so far I’ve gathered he was Pale and Interesting and made Lady C. Lamb go MENKO and dress up as a mang. The Vampyre by POLIDORI is far grebter than same-titled book by T. Holland, mostly as Polidori’s BITTER OLD GIT shtick makes for such deliciously bitchy writing which FOOLS NO-ONE matey. If he was about these days sod The Lancet, he’d be writing for HEAT magazine. Recommended!

Fabulously, The Vampyre comes as part of a collection of STORIES of the macabre. Expecting ghosties and goblings a plenty. Tomorrow I shall come to “Sir Guy Eveling’s Dream” by Horace Smith. Ods Pitikins!

Sentences you never expected to read #3984

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Sentences you never expected to read #3984: “I say, Tom,” cried East, having hit on a new idea, “don’t you remember, when we were in the upper fourth, and old Momus caught me construing off the leaf of a crib which I’d torn out and put in my book, and which would float out on the floor; he sent me up to be flogged for it.” Tom Brown’s School-Days by “an Old Boy”, 1892 edn, p265 (‘Harry East’s Dilemmas and Deliverances’)

Some talk on the “blogosphere” about “Regressive Rock”

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Some talk on the “blogosphere” about “Regressive Rock”, (80s schmindie-indie to you and I) particularly from K-punk and the resurgent Marcello. Broadly speaking Mark Kpunk is against it, and Marcello is if not wholeheartedly for it at least willing to give it a fair hearing. There isn’t really a ‘debate’ as such yet, but if there was, here are my two frivolous contributions to it.

– this stuff is a coming ‘big thing’, like it or not. The revival clock is ticking towards the mid-80s (Hi-NRG, Italo disco etc.) and DIY indie will be a part of it. My guess is that at first the revisionists will concentrate more on the Ron Johnson end of things but the rest of the C86 mob will get a look in soon enough. It is so easy to imagine Soul Jazz style comps of the more difficult end of things and Nuggets-esque CDs of the shambling stuff. Especially as this particular era in British music is so readily dismissed – lots of room to surprise people.

– in the pub on Friday members of the FT Editorial Board were marvelling at the grip ex-organisers and artistes of Sarah Records now have on British cultural and political life. Off the top of our head we could tick off the senior economist at the Office of Fair Trading, someone who works on Top of The Pops and other BBC stuff, Simon Fuller’s assistant, and perhaps most remarkably the EDITOR OF THE WIRE! I think there were others too – clearly this wasn’t quite enough to write the drunkenly mooted “Sarah = Illuminati” article but it’s an intriguing factoid nonetheless.

UNSUNG HEROES OF COOKERY 1: CELERY

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UNSUNG HEROES OF COOKERY 1: CELERY

When I was littler I had little time for celery. Except for its star bendy turn in a mid eighties Salad Cream advert, I could see no reason for its existence. A crunch swizzle stick of a vegetable it had a taste which slightly set my teeth on edge and was far too stringy and watery for real salad fun. Of course I was a British Salad rockist which meant that salads could only have lettuce, cucumber, beetroot and hardboiled egg in it – and tomatoes but I didn’t like tomatoes then. Anyway, no likee the celery was my position, which only shifted slightly when its use as a dipping crudite was displayed to me in so-called sophisticated drinks parties.

One day however I made myself some Jambalaya. Up until this point if a recipe has included celery I had tended to maybe up the onion a bit, or just leave it out. But there was some cheap celery, and hell it was nice for once to follow a recipe to the letter. Lots of celery went in and I slowly marveled at its cheapness to bulk ratio, and the way it sucked in the flavour. I garnished with the leaves and bunged what was left in the chicken stock I was making. I was sold on celery.

I can’t think of a soup I don’t put just a little bit of celery in these days, just for bulk and that slightly crisp yet subtle flavour it imparts. If you are used to onion as bulk, then celery gives you a whole new option (it is more attractive and easier to cut too). I still rarely have it in a salad, but it is a veg I always have in my kitchen now.

Three Questions About Kill Bill (Volume One).

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Three Questions About Kill Bill (Volume One).

a) How can a woman, squealing, flinching and watching an entire movie through the cracks between her fingers then get up, walk out and declare that it was was the best film evah!

b) Why did so many men think that Kill Bill would be a really good movie to take a first date on? There were certainly a lot of disgruntled first daters splitting up in Leicester Square on Saturday.

c) Why if someone was killed or seriously injured in a hospital did the police not notice that the keys to his somewhat unusual Pussy Wagon were missing. And then possibly check it out in the basement car park for the potential murderer. I am not telling the police how to do their job or anything but really, that one sequence really spoiled my suspension of disbelief.

BTW, in the pro/anti Kill Bill debate I am certainly in the pro camp.

My new blog

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My new blog

Maureen Gallace paints the things that are mocked as kitsch

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Maureen Gallace paints the things that are mocked as kitsch: lighthouses, fall foliage, barns, fields, sea breaks and rivers; all in a rigid, simple style. Almost a new Gramma Moses, w/o the sentimentality about naivety or age.

I know which critical tack to take with this, either compare her to Morandi, as a pure formalist who found another way to paint white squares on white squares, or compare her to other american eccentrics, like the stiff Alex Katz or the incompetent Fairfield Porter.

I cant see that though, these tiny paintings in similar colours and similar shapes, that threaten to be almost as banal as apple pie, move me deeply. I cannot process out the academia that surrounds criticism. These works make me feel warm, at a kind of platonic home where everyone is safe. She has convinced me of the virtues of simple prettiness

here is a landscape from 2000

is it art? or sport? or telly?

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is it art? or sport? or telly?