Posts from 7th January 2005

Jan 05

THE ROLLING STONES – “It’s All Over Now”

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#173, 18th July 1964

When it comes to the blues, I’m an outsider. I don’t enjoy it much, I don’t know a lot about it, and life being short I’m likely to stay that way. So if you are a blues fan, feel freer than ever to ignore me. My brushes with the blues – or to be fairer, with the way people talk about blues – leave me little wiser. On the one hand, the blues is a genre built around certain structures, certain components, certain ways of playing or singing. On the other, the blues is a feeling. And yet again, the blues is a music rooted in and inseparable from its social, racial and national origins.

All of these are surely ‘right’, and they all hint at an underlying question – who gets to play or sing the blues? Blues-as-a-genre allows for an entirely open door policy – if blues is just rubbing chord X against tuning Y, a robot can sing it. If you want blues to mean something more than that, then the threshold of performer legitimacy starts to rise.

Actually you can spot these different discourses, and that nasty question, in almost any strain of popular music, but the blues makes the issues particularly stark. What does it actually mean to say that a sharecropper in Alabama and a public schoolboy in Surrey are playing this same type of music? You can reach for the utopian answer, of course – music is music, the great unifier. But even then a sly hierarchy creeps in: the sharecropper is not after all being assessed on how much they remind one of the schoolboy.

And here is my ‘problem’ with suburban English boys singing the blues. It’s not that they can’t or shouldn’t sing them – of course they can. I have never heard a record by John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, but I am sure that if I did I would have a completely authentic blues experience. But in choosing to sing the blues the risk is that these boys end up defining themselves perpetually as pupils – aiming to be just like something or someone else. The problem isn’t that their quest is doomed to fail, it’s that they’re all too likely to succeed.

So the question isn’t, “can posh suburban boys do the blues?”, it’s “what can posh suburban boys do for the blues?”. And the answer is The Rolling Stones, or more specifically Mick Jagger. Jagger is instantly, utterly distinctive on their first No.1, he immediately has more front than anyone else. If you thought the blues were all about profound emotion, here is a singer who sounds shockingly blasé. If you thought the blues were founded in heartbreak, here is a man who is almost joyfully dismissive of his jilted woman. If you thought the blues was tough and swaggering, here is a band who are light on their feet and know how to make their music bounce as well as strut. In fact, “It’s All Over Now” might not be blues at all. But like I say, I wouldn’t really know.

Server Glitch

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Server Glitch

I’ve had a couple of emails asking where all our old articles have vanished to. The answer is that they didn’t get transferred when we moved servers the other week. I have them all on backup though so I’ll put them up over the weekend.

Jerry Springer The Opera and

Do You SeePost a comment • 904 views

Jerry Springer The Opera and mediawatch’s letter to the BBC
There are apparently 50 protestors outside BBC TV centre right now (hmm). I go home that way, and I’m thinking of counter-protesting. If anyone has anything better to yell at them than a Peter Cooke “Fuck off you fucking cunts”, comment away.

I’m Dying…But Not Yet One unwelcome trend that the otherwise great

Do You SeePost a comment • 544 views

I’m Dying…But Not Yet

One unwelcome trend that the otherwise great availability of more Japanese, Chinese and Korean films has given us is the extended death scene. Perhaps it is due to the choice of weapons involved. In Hollywood, where the weapon of choice is generally the gun, people tend to die quite quickly. You get the odd stagger-around-with-hand-over-wound moment, but in general the US film market cannot stomach a death scene that lasts over a minute.

House Of – Flying Daggers (sing it a la The Rapture) has one death scene which last twenty minutes, and two of about five minutes. Hero was essentially a two hour death scene (though whose death scene, eh?) Oldboy has a very extended injury scene which should actually be a death scene. Even Infernal Affairs dragged the deaths of its protagonists out a touch.

But none of these get close to the longest death scene I have ever seen. When The Last Sword Is Drawn, recent Japanese Samurai epic which is relatively entertaining until you get to the last forty minutes. Because the last forty minutes are an overly sentimental, almost funny death scene. Plus watching the effect of said death on his friends, family, and the entire history of Japan it would seem. All of that, and we do not actually get to see the moment of death.

Death is an easy way of plucking at emotions. Coupled with an exploitative soundtrack it can be devastating. But it is too easy, relies on cheap sentimentality and distasteful (to me at least).

Where has our quest for organic,

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 269 views

Where has our quest for organic, natural, and “sourced from the finest ingredients” food taken us? I shall tell you. To the brink of madness. I just had a Tyrells Naked Chip. Made proudly in Hertfordshire (as was I, but without the pride), said Naked Chips are potato crisps presented without any flavourings whatsoever. No salt, no nothing. These may be the antidote to ever more precise flavouring strategies of other posh crisp companies (Stilton & Port Kettle Chips) but frankly I have never eaten anything which has begged so much for salt.

We had a name for these when I was a kid. Crap Salt’n’Shake. Though as a kid I would have possibly been more taken with the naked ladies on the front of the packet, even if they are shown in an artful, safe for the grocer shelves way.

Tyrells do seem to do a flavoured line
, including old FT favourite Parsnip and intriguing sound beetroot crisps, so maybe they are not all bad. Nevertheless the hyperbole involved with Anthony Piggy-Thompson calling them “The Holy Grail of Potato Chips” makes me slightly anti the whole concept. Surely the whole point of The Holy Grail is that no-one has found it. Use other superlatives please.


Do You SeePost a comment • 2,429 views


Wha…? Who knew Tripods film was looking? This is potentially exciting for those of us who remember the Tripods TV series (the last hurrah for teatime sci-fi) which made it two thirds of the way through the trilogy but never finished it. The omens however are not all that good on this project, it is not exactly Lord Of The Rings. Three films, one film, or more likely one film of three will get made.

From absolutely everything on John Christopher’s original books, the TV version and the ZX Spectrum Adventure game go here.

dietary epiphenomena: a study

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 305 views

dietary epiphenomena: a study

the specific diet i am imposing on myself is intended (it says here) to modify between-meals cravings and give you a scientific insight into the workings of yr own metabolism: well this morning i wz woken – actually tho not relevantly by a txt from rainy saying “STOP SLEEPING NOW” – to discover myself mouthing the words “sarcophagous jelly”

mmmm sarcophagous jelly so i daren’t quite reflect on whether its effects have kicked in yet, i ph34r

Stevie T has a blog

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 285 views

Stevie T has a blog. Typically elegant stuff, I hope it thrives. Read in particular the interesting Green Gartside interview.