Posts from 2005

Dec 05

Is there even a word for it

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 3,167 views

There are lots of warning signs in pop: many of them can be easily paraphrased as “You Are Now Leaving Pop”. Getting in orchestras, concept albums, sacking the entire band*. But certainly when you find out that your favourite band has made “too much good music to fit on to one album”, you know the words double album are not far away. And there are very few great double albums. At least very few which could not be boiled down to a much better single album.

Now Chris Rea has not been pop for a very long time. But who knew that when leaving pop your compass can go so awry to end up in a truly audacious position. You see Chris’s latest project is so much more than just a double album. It puts The Clash’s Sandinista in the shade, if the individual elements are built into a wall. Chris’s new project : Blue Guitar : is an elevenuble** album. 11CD’s of music. And a DVD in case.

I would say hats off to Mr Rea for such an astonishing production. But I have to get it for my Dad for Christmas.

*Of course like any rule, there are occasions when these have been the best thing ever.

**Not a real word clearly.

Dec 05

Best Ad ever

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 459 views

‘Be like Maradona – give up coke’

Sack This Sick Joke Now

Do You SeePost a comment • 508 views

Jonathon Ross is a fine entertainment television presenter. I have no complaints with him on that part. But the fact that he fronts the only mainstream TV film review program is an absolute joke. Of late Film (Insert Year Here) has turned into sleb puff peaces, only concentrating on a couple of big releases and doing very little to suggest to people the variety of potentially great films out there. It does not seem to fulfill any of the remits which made it avid viewing as a teen for me (and that was when scarcely less populist Bazza Norman did it).

All that said, I was not prepared for the triumphal ignorance displayed by Ross last night at the British comedy awards. Scottish film Festival won Best Comedy Film. Perhaps a slight shock, but then the films it was up against were barely comedies, and I certainly liked the black humour on display (and to be fair comedy judges would love it). But not only was Ross surprised that the film won, he professed to never having heard of the film or seen it. Fair enough he had not seen it, but it was advertised everywhere in August and was well reviewed. Clearly not by Ross who not only kept trumping this surprise, but seem to revel in his ignorance.

Perhaps the reason his hegemony has not been broken is due to the Kermode factor (probably in line for the job and much worse). But at least Kermode only revels in his ignorance when he talks about God. Ross, resign.

The Afterlife Of Pop

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 2,224 views

Frank Kogan’s Real Punks Don’t Wear Black is a devastatingly good book. The first evening I read it I found that it shook me up a lot – I recognised the ideals and ideas Frank was chasing, even if I couldn’t have articulated them, and I was ashamed of my own inability to follow then. Not that Frank is appealing for ‘followers’. Not that I want to ‘follow’ him. But the first chapters made me feel tentative and timid. After that initial cold splash, the rest of the book has been exhilarating: I’ve been reading it in a more positive mood, feeling stimulated and inspired. I’m not sure I’m ready to respond yet to the ideas in the book – either intellectually or by example (though the rest of this post has turned into a partial response).

Partway through the book, in the chapter discussing “Superwords”, I get quoted, a quote from this odd piece, which I’ve not dared read since I wrote it. My reluctance was based around my never finishing it – I never wrote the subsequent parts, and after a couple of weeks I’d forgotten what was meant to be in them. I was also afraid I’d read it again and think it was wrong – which I now do, but it’s not wrong in any terrible or humiliating way so I don’t know why I was so fussed.

The ‘death of pop’ piece sits as one of my most grievous examples of that Kogan bugbear, not following through ideas. I’m never sure how seriously I take this – I think a lot of ideas are un-follow-through-able, or rather than if you try to follow them through you get ground down and tired, so it’s better to just spray them out and see if anyone else can do anything with them. This was always a guiding notion behind ILM, which I actually started half-based on a description I’d read of a Frank Kogan zine (its other parent was the “Question of the Month” box on 80s Marvel editorial pages). But maybe when I say “better” I simply mean “more fun” or “lazier”.

This actually ties in a bit with what I was talking about in the Death of Pop piece. The bit I like most in the piece now is the section near the end about stage magic and pop existing in the same precarious showbiz state. In stage magic, pretending that it’s all for real (i.e. that you actually possess supernatural powers) is seen as vulgar or a cheat; showing the wires is also frowned upon. A magic performance, in other words, is an idea that refuses – or cannot survive – a follow-through. Somewhere in the tangle of the article I’m suggesting a similar thing about manufactured pop.

Except stage magic is – or used to be, I don’t know enough about how it works these days – a stable form where this refusal is built-in and understood by performers and to an extent by audience. Pop is unstable, judging by the continual movement of its performers towards perceived autonomy and credibility (which very rarely translates to achieved cred). The ‘death of pop’ I was getting worked up about four years ago is always with us, a constant career trajectory. So the question is: why? And also – to paraphrase a question Frank Kogan asks a great deal – what do the performers gain by that? What does the industry gain? What do we listeners gain?

Blak Out

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 572 views

Brand Republic brings news of 2006’s first big brand extension clash: both Coke and Pepsi are bringing out coffee-flavoured fizzy drinks at the start of next year.

Coke’s offering is Coca Cola Blak, as seen in this picture – but only available in France initially, whereas Pepsi’s new drink Cino – no pic available – will be handed out free at railway stations across the UK. Both companies clearly see coffee fizzies as a goer, though it’s hard to see why. “Coffee. Coke. They’ve both got caffeine in, right?” is the only logic I can think of, and the morning coffee market is a seriously tough nut to crack (crak?). Speaking of which, Coke’s new slogan is “Welcome to the Coke side of life”. Edgy.

Smiley Smile

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 509 views

Mona Lisa ‘definitely smiling’

The “computers analyse art” story is perhaps second only to the “scientists have discovered an formula” story in the science spacefiller stakes. Here we see “emotion recognition” software discerning that the Mona Lisa is 83% happy and only 9% sad. My next suggestion for easy PR seekers is to run Hamlet through some OKCupid tests.

Dec 05

when i grow up i want to be…

Do You SeePost a comment • 217 views


All Art Prizes Everywhere Suspended Pending Urgent Revision

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 265 views

Extraordinary late entry from Challenge Business.

Food Science

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 606 views

Mashed Artichokes??!!: I think the stuff in this article about blood sugar is probably pretty sound however the family Xmas isn’t all about the food and drink, it is a finely calibrated and balanced thing in which ideally every factor that might induges RAGE is balanced by others that create good cheer or SLEEP. So a true formula for Wobs tensions would also account for:

– a big sofa
– the Queen’s speech
– Christmas Top of the Pops
– dozing in front of a rub old film
– laughing at first relative to go to sleep
– murderous family boardgame
– ect ect.

Must try harder press-craving scientists.


The Brown WedgePost a comment • 560 views

Around the time of her death about two years ago, Agnes Martin became less subtle, and started using colours and shapes that in her previous painterly practice would strike as unusual, even shocking. (if you have painted grey lines on beige paper for decades, black shapes get to be called shocking.)

Now Robert Ryman has started using colour…The interesting thing is that there are two separate shows of his work in the next year. One is at Dallas, and is a 40 year old retrospective. One is in Hamburg and is a selection of new works.

Rymans work in 1964, just before he started with white-on-white is not very good. The form has not been dictated, the colour is ugly and random, the size underwhelms, and it seems lazy/typical.

The 40 years since, are like a monk in the desert, counting grains of sand–the paintings there are almost endless in variation of texture, but in colour they purposefully lack. It is almost like he spent the last 4 decades figuring out how to sort thru texture, and now at the end, he is moving away, reclaiming and reinventing the flaws of his youth.

The paintings in Hamburg are tiny, small things, a little more then a foot square. They have the typical white field rawly placed on top of an under field -he has done this before, so it looks like water under a frozen lake…But this time, the ice has broken.

The sides of the paintings are alive with an almost northern romanticism, the colours he has chosen, a greygreen and a bright raw blue, remind of Caspar David Fredich’s landscapes or Joyce’s infamous “The snotgreen sea. The scrotumtightening sea”

Here is one of them:

Seeing them in Repro of course means that their full power cannot be judged.

Here is one from 1964: