Heard a very entertaining programme on the Archive Hour recently, presented by Steve Punt. “Broadcaster and comedian Steve Punt scours the archives to exhume the often pretentious and opinionated philosophical outpourings of pop stars through the ages. With the help of music journalists Paul Morley, Kate Mossman, DJ and record producer Ras Kwame and surprising soundbites from the archive, Steve explores the concept of the pop star as philosopher. From pop star hobbies, to politics and theories of aliens and the Illuminati, Steve explores the attempts of pop stars to make sense of a chaotic world.” It may be a repeat but if you haven’t yet heard it I really recommend it for passing an enjoyable hour. And of course it’s lovely to hear Kate Mossman who managed to namecheck the Word Magazine during it, in an anecdote.
To alert fellow Jimmy Webb fans, tonight (Monday) the Radio 4 series Mastertapes at 11pm features Jimmy being interviewed on his career and recordings. There is a second episode tomorrow (Tuesday) at 3.30pm where he answers a live audience’s questions.
This is a bit of a steal from Mumsnet but it got some interesting responses there and I’d like to know your take. What is the one book you regret reading? Maybe it was just dull and “wasted your precious time” to quote Dylan, didn’t live up to the hype, had a disappointing ending, or left disturbing images in your mind. Mine was a book of short stories by Stephen King I read when I had German Measles at 15. There was one I read at night about a man getting swallowed up by a large printer. Reading it I got more and more scared, then found it hard to breathe. ‘Panic Attacks’ weren’t largely known about at that time, which is what I was having though I didn’t know it. I thought it was a complication of the Measles and I was going to die. Terrifying!
Also there was a book in the school library called something like “Sex and Violence on TV”. Well I was amazed that such a book was in plain sight in our very religious school so I took it out. It turned out to be an extremely boring scientific book of methological studies. » Continue Reading.
OK I struggled with the music trinity, Laura Nyro, Jimmy Webb, Randy Newman, Joni, Kate Bush all possibles and many more besides, but when it comes to the Trinity of Puddings I had no such difficulty. Immediately and decisively springing to mind were:
Warm Chocolate Fudge Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream
Rhubarb Crumble with Custard
Lemon Cheesecake with Blueberries
Other people must be having Custard Cravings in this early autumn chill because the fresh stuff is not available online at my Tesco today. So what are yours?
Over the course of 24 hours all these emails landed in my Junk email. It sounds like a saucy computer programme randomly raided a Shakespearean dictionary. The resultant twaddle made me laugh considerably so I hope you will find the same. They all consisted of Subject line – then the first line was subject line repeated, next a no-doubt dodgy Viagara link and lastly the sign off signature from a supposed medic, almost as funny as subject line. My favourite was the one about foul play – “Is this a dagger I see before me?”- though the “append lozenge” one was good as well. Highly heartily thine, Carolina (not medically qualified apart from reading a lot on Dr Google and a Biology O level)
Does you bliss yours sweeting in pallet? I wish you a pleasing lustiness Dr Bob Ewers
Is ye arouse your spouse in a couch? I wish for you a durable euphoria Dr Ronald Cornick (Durable Euphoria – TFML)
Did ye sway your companion on pallet? Have a keen energy! Dr Ralph Meinzer
Does ye bewitch yours dear heart on bed??? I wish you a nice energy Dr Leah Chevalette
If yours sweet indicate how she sensate » Continue Reading.
Another in my intermittent series of New Albums That Won’t Get Reviewed in Music Mags is Zervas and Pepper’s latest, Wilderland. The South Wales duo have excelled themselves in it with their customary fabulous harmonies and Laurel Canyon/CSNY inspired songs. They describe their own music as “sunny, cosmic, retro folk rock music” and here is the glorious closing track from Wilderland, Universe to Find. Their single Hotel Bible is on Youtube too and well worth seeking out too.
Charlie Dore has a new album out, Dark Matter. I haven’t seen in reviewed in any music magazine but if you are a fan of her music I really recommend it. There are terrific songs about dogs, neutrinos, lightbulbs, an imaginary man in bed, and life after death, just to give you a taster. Here is one about old telephone numbers in address books that is both funny and poignant, Old Numbers.
I saw the Blogger Takeover was only pinned to the top of the page for about 4 days and has now gone. Is it possible to put it back up there again? I did email mods a couple of days ago but haven’t had a reply.
I’ve been listening to lots of acoustic folky singer-songwriter stuff as is my wont, and am increasingly struck by huge amount of guitar squeak on it. Looking up the problem online I’ve read about special oiled strings to avoid it and also using the technique of lifting your hands off after playing a chord instead of sliding them along. It is possible to eliminate it – for instance you never hear any squeaking on Gillian Welch and David Rawlings songs. If I was a music producer I would operate a zero-tolerance squeak policy in my studio. I can’t understand why musicians who take so much trouble writing, singing and making a record are seemingly blind to the issue. Maybe singers are playing the guitar themselves and would be better hiring in more skilled performers. Perhaps more sophisticated and sensitive microphones tracked to every instrument exposes it whereas on older recordings you cannot hear it.
Either way it really gets to me like a high-pitched “chalk down a blackboard”, only worse, and I find myself awaiting the squeaks with growing intolerance. Does any one else notice it as much as I do? Also the guitarists among you, how do you » Continue Reading.
Snow coming down now south of London. Hope everyone on their commute home round the country has a safe one and is not stuck on the roads/public transport for hours (though those who usually use on Southern Rail are no doubt pretty strike-wearied apart from the weather).
My birthday on Jan 20th coincides with the unhappy inauguration of Trump this year, and it seems like music for it will be thin on the ground, musicians being understandably reluctant to take part. Caitlin Moran in The Times yesterday said it could come down to the entire inauguration concert consisting of Ted Nugent, Charlie Sheen and Hulk Hogan playing kazoos. So I think we should make a Trump Playlist and an automated giant jukebox could pump out appropriate music. So far I have:
From Russia With Love – Matt Monro
In A World of Make Believe (where Donald seems to live) – Dusty Springfield
Desperate and Depressed – Margo Price (how half of the US electorate is currently feeling)
China In My Hand – T’Pau (what Donald thinks he can achieve)
Gold – Spandau Ballet (his favourite building material)
Don’t Fence Me In – Ella Fitzgerald (A message from Mexico)
I was thinking about my favourite and worst non-musical sounds – criteria being not made by a musical instrument. These are a few that came to mind: Best – cat purring, the resonant sound is so comforting. Next is an owl hooting. There is one that has come to reside near me this year and everytime it toowhit- towoos, I feel a shivery loveliness. The sound of the coins clattering down on the old “Penny cascade” arcade game in the amusements when you knew they would shortly fall into the opening for you to collect. The soft crunch of walking on freshly fallen snow. Worst – car alarms. Where I live there are a lot of cars near me and when one of those awful alarms go off that can mean at least 30 minutes of terrible din before it stops. It is like like Chinese water torture only more relentless. Second worst is the dentist drill. How much more pleasant the whole experience would be if they could put a silencer on it! I suppose it is because it is connected with pain it’s so bad because they aren’t exactly deafening. So what are your best and worst?
It seems the witty and sardonic Father John Misty, musician and apparent Buddhist, has a bit of a weak moral compass. A rose quartz crystal went missing at an organic LA café, prompting the owner to issue this plea: PLEASE RETURN THE CRYSTAL! Our rose quartz was stolen from the Silverlake shop. This loving rock has given so much to an entire community and has much more to share. To whomever took her out the door, you do not want the energy of a stolen crystal, please trust me! Anyone who can help her find her way home will be hugged and fed, no questions, just thanks.”
To which Josh Tillman, aka Father John owned up, posting the following response online: “There’s been, understandably, a not insignificant outcry regarding the alleged “theft” of the rose Quartz crystal from the Echo Park Moon Juice™, pictured above. I am here to claim responsibility, though I do not condone the rhetoric employed in Moon Juice’s post. To claim that “something has been ‘stolen’” is in tself a tacit endorsement of the capitalist values that blended superfoods and locally sourced produce stands, ironically, in direct opposition to.
The universe, however you may » Continue Reading.
In the second section of the Times today they had a feature on podcasts and a section of it where “Times experts” picked their favourite ones. John Bungey, listed as “radio critic, on The Word” wrote: ‘Mark Ellen and David Hepworth have enjoyed a long and blameless career as a rock journalism double-act. Perhaps their one slip-up was to create a lengthy free podcast that was so entertaining you did not feel the need to cough up £4.50 for the publication it was supposed to be promoting. When The Word magazine expired in 2012 readers scrambled to produce their own podcast, which they called The Afterword. However, the official podcast has now resumed. It’s recorded in front of a live audience and usually involves a ramble down rock’s byways with the author of a recent music book. For anyone convinced that pop music peaked around the time when the Rolling Stones played Knebworth, it’s an engrossing hour.’
At the weekend I bought Refugee CD, a new folk compilation curated by Scottish artist Robin Adam. Lots of Scottish artists but also such luminaries as Linda Thompson and Bonnie Prince Billy have all contributed an original or previously unreleased track. It is to raise money for the MOAS, a charity working to save migrant lives in the Mediterranean Sea. This is a beautiful track from by Roddy Hart, West. Lovely music for a very deserving cause. Heard about it first in NoDepression who gave it a glowing review.
Thought this article in today’s Times was Caitlin on particularly brilliant form about the state of things, so here it is:
Caitlin Moran: seven people who could run Britain now – ‘The Muppet Show is pretty much exactly the present state of British politics’
I’ve pondered all kinds of punchy opening statements for this column, wherein I would describe the current political situation with a series of pithy metaphors and similes, designed to ease us into the main conversation. But there’s no point. We appear to be living in an era that will be referred to by historians as “The News F***” – a cycle of events so momentous, rapid, surreal and terrifying that 80 per cent of what you know at lunchtime will have disappeared by tea. No one knows anything. Three-quarters of all thinking is a simple, “ARRRRRGHWHA????” Being British currently feels like being those Scouts in Jim’ll Fix It, trying to eat their lunch on a rollercoaster. We just wanna eat our lunch. And so, for a country in impossible turmoil – reluctantly aware that this turmoil is the mere foothills of turmoil, compared with what will come – a longing surges in the heart for just » Continue Reading.
A very kind person commissioned Pencilsqueezer to do a painting for me. Peter and I then had a chat, I mentioned his pictures I’d particularly liked from his website http://pencilsqueezerartwork.weebly.com/ and we discussed colour preferences but otherwise I left it up to his excellent judgement. Sometime later he emailed me the finished image below named Flower Bomb. I was dazzled by it, a glorious radiating sunburst of flowers, big and tiny, and it had purple in it too! This week it arrived, even better in the flesh with the details and intricacy and is now hanging in my hall. Every time I pass it, it gladdens my heart and I will always treasure it. So if you too would like a life-enhancing work of art, look no further than Pencilsqueezer.
Been a dull ol’ week at Carolina Towers, shut in with a bug, but the highlight has been the arrival by courier of my first ever pair of toe nail clippers. (I went a bit mad with my birthday spending money). You can imagine the excitement as I rushed to prise open the packaging for I couldn’t wait to try them out. The instructions even said they had been designed for left hand and right hand use – ideal for southpaws* like me. Well, as you are no doubt eagerly awaiting the verdict, I will keep you in suspense no longer, 10 out of 10 for ease of use and results. They are made by Wilkinson Sword in case you want to know. So what has been the mundane highlight of your week?
*I don’t actually have paws. That would need a whole other class of clipper, probably.
This is the thread for heatwave related issues – any moans and complaints, keeping cool tips and stories of torrid commutes, feel free to vent here. I have a fancy thermometer here – currently 74.1 in my coolest room. I have four fans in action through the place and brain gone very woolly. Have taken unprecedented action of buying ready cooked mashed potato so won’t have to use the cooker. Am dreading tomorrow and Wednesday!
Nils Frahm has released an 8 track album Solo free, to celebrate National Piano Day, which was March 29th (am a bit late to the party, I know). I downloaded it today. It’s been one of those afternoons where lots of little things have gone wrong. Just heard the first two tracks and I feel much calmer now. Go and get it if you are already a fan, or want to hear some lovely piano music. Link below.
Reading the Civilian thread has been very entertaining but I have to admit to my own civilian moments and wonder if others have had them too. The worst of them was when I went to a local folk club. I got talking to one of the organizers and I was enthusing about a regular local House Concert. They had very talented artists but none that anyone would have heard of, even if they had been the most dedicated Word reader. She told me they had great musicians who played at their club often including Martin Carthy and Martin Simpson. She was obviously expecting a big reaction from me but I must have looked at her blankly as I had barely heard of them and thought they were run-of-the-mill minor folk artists. While not on quite on a par with rocking up at the Globe theatre and not knowing who Shakespeare was, this was still very bad and I cringe at the memory.
Also I presumed Bon Iver rhymed with skiver rather than fever for a long time. Anyone care to share their faux pas?
Listening to the album Fancy by Bobbie Gentry I came across her cover of Leon Russell’s Delta Lady, only in her case she made it Delta Man and it made me think of Reverse Gender Covers and how successful they are, especially where Man Woman Girl or Boy are in the title or the gender is central to the lyrics. Bobbie’s is a fine attempt but the problem lies in the title – it needs a two syllable word to match ‘lady’ for it to work properly. If she was Scottish she could sing Delta Laddie I suppose! I think a better alternative would be Delta Baby as at least it would scan right. I don’t know what the legalities of changing someone elses lyrics are though. So what other gender swapping covers are there and how well do they work?
I have just got a new Revival Istream Roberts Internet Radio with my birthday money. And it has DAB so I can listen to 6Music for the first time. So where to start with this world of radio at my fingertips? I would be grateful for any recommendations of interesting stations. They could be either music or speech – just a few provisos, nothing too noisy/fast tempo/dance/hip-hop and no free-form jazz. Other than that I am up for anything.