Posts from 4th December 2003

Dec 03


FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 243 views

We’re trying to invite Mr Q onto NYLPM but the invites are snarling up. Meanwhile, here’s his review of…

SCORPIONS – ‘Drifting Sun’
track from Fly to the Rainbow, 1974

Krautrock was the most escape-obsessed genre ever, aptly for a country then obsessed with escaping its own identity. The future, space, or a quadruple-digit speedometer — anything went, as long as it didn’t come back. Being from wherever the industrial German heartland is (keep it up, please — Eurosceptic Ed.), the Scorpions engaged with the sturm und drang of their geist (eat shit — E.E.) while having the highest percentage of gtr-solo-spots/’other shit’ on record. This song was recorded somewhat previous to when they annexed the Dire Straits’ compact disc market by causing the state to wither away. If they’d used a theremin and not whistled it would’ve sent the ‘wrong signal’, horrible results available on the ‘Euroshima Mix’ (Parallel-world import only).

Guitarist Uli Roth was a truly incredible Jimi Hendrix/Michael Karoli hybrid and the Faustian (and to my ears, successful) struggle between Teutonic repression (the amount of which is necessary to suppress Teutonic paganism) and electrofuturist hedonism produced a singular guitar tone both simulating and responding to both the early (Musicland Munich Studios! They probably did the Chicory Tip record down the hall on the same day! Also explains why the next track ‘Fly People Fly’ unfortunately goes on even longer than ‘Fly Robin Fly’ should’ve) synths and Klaus Meine’s voice, which you all know from that Euroshima song and is an instrument of unequalled clarity and roughness, range and complexity, abandon and control. On ‘Drifting Sun’, however, the lead vocal is by Uli Roth. He sounds like a very excellent guitarist singing in a second language, also after having drunk as much as is possible without choking on your own vomit. In fact he sounds like Bobby Gillespie. Coincidentally the chorus of ‘Drifting Sun’ is ‘shine on’. Like, you could fool the tabloids with this, or maybe Alan McGee. Elsewhere in Germany that year Jean-Paul Sartre interviewed the imprisoned urban terrorist Andreas Baader, whose preserved brain was recently stolen from Tuebingen University’s Neurological Research Institute. Also at the time, Hall & Oates hadn’t yet released Big Bam Boom and the city of Philadelphia hadn’t started firebombing city blocks yet.

The picture on the front would be the worst cover art in history if it yielded to any explication whatever. Then again it’s not as bad as the back cover where the propeller-appendaged clown with the Shriner hat is bending over and the band personnel is printed on his butt. 1978 and the Lovedrive bubblegum pic were years away. The lesser-noted In Trance cover is a strange one too, the guitar the chick’s squatting over has a whammy bar on it. Like, wouldn’t that hurt? (Dave Queen)

ELVIS PRESLEY – “All Shook Up”

Popular9 comments • 3,399 views

#62, 12th July 1957

Look! It’s Elvis!

The boogie-woogie piano forming this song’s undercarriage sounds so generic to me* that I get the best results from listening to it like a riddim, a bolt-on beat for Presley to freestyle over. Helpfully, that way of hearing it also draws full attention to Elvis’ voice.

By this time Presley was already a superstar in the UK, he’d just not gone to #1 yet. Why did “All Shook Up” manage it? Because nobody had sung the word “love” like Elvis does here – half thrusting, half swallowing, with that half-breath after it acting like a full stop. Politely carnal, respectfully smouldering – “I’m proud to say she?s my buttercup” – and as passionately humble as an ideal 50s man should be, Elvis-love seems as natural here as the histories tell you it was. Plus for the UK there was an exotic element – what, pray tell, was a “fuzzy tree”? (I should save this for his ’58 hits, but I wonder if Elvis joining the army actually made him sexier for UK fans? The oversexed over-here US G.I. had had a generation to seep into folk memory, after all.) .

*(with one exception: that occasional drumbeat, which sounds like a plimsoll hitting a tabletop. Cool!)


Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 426 views


Sometimes certain drinks take on a legendary status in ones life. It may be as a result of their being consumed during important days (or years), it may be because they are the tastiest thing ever, or it may be because you never managed to drink them at all.
For me, Batemans Dark Mild is just such a drink. When I first moved to the North of England, I quickly befriended a Man of Louth, the eminently googleable all-round good chap Gavin Shufflebotham. Among the many things Gav taught me was that (a) mild exists and that (b) Batemans Dark Mild is glorious nectar.

Not that I knew. I’d barely set foot in the North, so the world of Mild was fresh and strange to me. What’s more, the ropey old mild they had in the pub across the way from our flat was like watered down week-old John Smiths. Worse still, I had my skint-student mindset of drinking the strongest, cheapest beer possible as a cost-efficient way of reaching the required state of Drunk.

I kept an eye out for Batemans Dark Mild, though, because Gav raved about it. And it started to become something of an obsession. I’d arrive in specialist booze pubs just as its name was being wiped from the blackboard, or it would be off for that night pending the new barrel settling. The pump head grew familiar as it taunted me from back bars or turned around on the pump for the bar staff to see. I’d even read about the stuff, about its dark maltiness, its complex roasty flavour. It sounded great. But, like most mild, it was hard to find.

The decline of mild is a cause of great sorrow to me. These days there’s nothing I like more than a really tasty pint which has an alcohol count low enough to leave you standing even after ‘the one’. Beer strength inflation is a bane. Mild was the perfect answer, and a classic mass market ordinary drink, the terrifically typical working drink for the working man (imagined or otherwise). These days it seems to be knitted beer, the sole preserve of the specialist CAMRA haunt, all self-congratulatory conservationism and life-suckingly joyless academia, 24 different pumps at the bar and not a cushion or a juker in sight.

It was in this climate of increasing rarity that I finally tracked down a pint of Batemans, sometime after I moved back South. Sadly, I can’t remember where, which is a bit of a disaster for my story. It was nice. The end.

Everyone has a secret love in art, and mine is…

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 293 views

Everyone has a secret love in art, and mine is horses and dogs, hunting scenes and other nostagic anglophilia (more Byron then the Beatles. Taking that in mind, Christie’s “Sporting Art” Auction, to be held at London in the next couple of weeks, is almost too rich a feast for these eyes. Dozens of pictures of horses, dogs and bedraggled foxes, mostly painted in a style that reminds us how much repressed sensuality used to go into upper class hobbies like gardening or pets.

The chief hobby of that time was imperialism, and this work that including only very rich. The landscapes are meant to indicate ownership, hunting as a blood sport is aristocratic and cruel (compare these to the Winslow Homer painting The Fox and The Snow–then think of Wilde’s bon mot about hunting, he said that to make those with money realize that they were hunting status and not food.) The boys shown here as groomsmen violate childhood labour standards, and buying them now has all sorts of middle class wish fulfilment. You can imagine a clever american buyer snapping up most of the lots, and selling them to faux irish pubs from Boston to Berkley.

They are second rate Stubbs but painted with such care that it is hard not to at least admire them. No one could match how he pushed a beasts muscle and bone into the edges of skin–the sheer love of flesh with out sentiment in his work is haunting, the horses haunches are where fortunes are made and to honouring them was honouring a novel and charming venture (much like marriage or fatherhood). These cannot match that intensity in technical skill, but in spirit they almost match and in some ways exceed.

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 125 views