Beatles tour guide wanted!
In case you hadn’t noticed, and as the Afterword’s resident Avalanches fanboy, I should point out that those Australian sampleheads The Avalanches have been putting up strange billboards and cryptic web sites. It appears they may have new music coming out soon and it appears it might be an album called We Will Always Love You.
Their third album in twenty years!
A bit of a to-do has developed over a missing oxford comma on the latest 50p coin. I love pedantic stuff like this. It’s entertaining, informative, and funny.
Anyone who mentions Vampire Weekend in reply to this post gets an immediate QI klaxon.
One of the more memorable lines in Four Weddings and a Funeral (my favourite rom-com – but that’s an argument for another day) is when one of the characters describes Hugh Grant’s character as a “serial monogamist”. In other words, he’s not a cheater but he has no qualms about ditching a girlfriend and moving on to new pastures when he gets itchy feet.
In musical terms, I think I’m a bit of a serial monogamist myself. I get totally absorbed in a specific act, or album, or genre, to the extent that nothing else hits the spot for me. But then I just move on to something else. Does anyone else get this?
Although a bit childish I suppose, it can also be rejuvenating. With a new obsession you hear something with the honest ears of a fresh convert. There’s a lot to be said for blind enthusiasm.
My current love affair is with Sibelius. It’s early days and I need to get to know more about him, but from what I know so far he seems like The One. (Ask me again in a couple of months). I know I’m not going to be able to convince » Continue Reading.
I’ve just caught up with an interesting little opinion column from the Guardian a couple of days ago. I’m not familiar with Douglas Rushkoff, but he sounds like he has some interesting ideas.
In this column, he’s concerned about technology. He sees us sleepwalking en masse towards a disconnected culture driven by technology, craving a false sense of place in the world via social media filters and from being literally connected to the internet 24/7, and missing the crucial sense of true global experience from the early days of television etc. (You’re best to read the article itself in the link – it’s short and he can put it in words a lot better than I can).
Anyway, it’s an interesting thing to ponder and I’d like to know some Afterworder thoughts on this stuff. It’s a theme that has arisen on these boards before.
Me, I’m generally optimistic about this stuff. I feel as if every generation has its technological doomsayers, and its easy to get swept up into thinking we are living in the last days. But if you just look up and engage with the world and with people actually around you, you’ll find people are generally » Continue Reading.
Sad news as it emerged yesterday that Glaswegian author and artist Alasdair Gray had passed away at the age of 85.
Anyone who has read his masterpiece 1981 novel Lanark will know it as a baffling, unique work. Crazy as it sounds, he created the ultimate novel to “celebrate” Glasgow not with historical accuracy but by a mix of science fiction, Kafka-esque absurdism and a dose of post-modern fourth wall-breaking. I’m not sure what it all means but it’s a monumental work and never anything less than a page turner.
But probably just as important was his work as an artist and illustrator. His unfussy, mythic-looking style has become as big a part of Glasgow’s visual landscape as Charles Rennie Mackintosh, John Byrne or Alexander “Greek” Thomson. Two of his fabulous murals are readily viewable in Glasgow’s Byres Road area, one at Hillhead underground station and one in the lobby of the Oran Mor pub/restaurant/venue. I love the Hillhead one in particular, a typically chunky and rambling “map” of the local area you can spend ages poring over (while missing your train and getting in the way of busy commuters).
On top of that he was a staunch socialist and » Continue Reading.
Gary Larson’s classic absurdist cartoon strip The Far Side now has its own website. With a daily cartoon! This should brighten up the morning in the office.
What does it sound like?:
I’ve been listening to this album on heavy rotation recently, so I thought it was worth singing its praises on here (despite the fact I’m probably just preaching to the converted).
I have to admit it’s one of my formative albums (i.e. it would get played endlessly in the car by my mum and dad when I was wee) along with Peter, Paul and Mary, Godspell, Sgt Pepper and the best of Bread. Among these peers, Rhymin’… stood out instantly by having a cheeky mild swearword in its opening line, which thrilled me as an impressionable five year old. Never a rebel outwardly, in my private rebellious head I still love to cling to the pithy dismissal of my own entire education as “all the crap I learned”.
So, as I heard Rhymin’… over and over when I was at the right age, I’m pretty much hard-wired to love it.
But, seriously, what’s not to love? From the days when an album was 35 minutes long, this is a delicious package of ten little songs wrapped up in a wonderful Milton Glaser gatefold cover. (You may never have heard of Milton Glaser, but his » Continue Reading.
I’ve previously commented that I don’t tend to contribute to political threads, and now here I am starting one of my own. But what the hell, I think this is worth it’s own thread.
Depressingly, lots of papers today have big headline stories about Labour not accepting defeat graciously, blaming everyone else but themselves, etc. I think there’s definitely an element of that going on, but I also think this has been such a seismic shift in the balance of the country that a bit of self reflection is warranted and valuable. So here’s a thread where we can all waffle and reflect a bit – and do it amicably, like we do best.
So the big questions I am interested in are: What went wrong? Was Jeremy Corbyn a mistake? Who should the next leader be? What should the direction of the party be now? Is “Old Labour” now irrelevant, given we are now in a position where only New Labour has been able to win a majority for decades?
Me, I’m still trying to figure it all out. More and more I’m finding the terms “left” and “right” meaningless and subjective, but by any measure I would definitely » Continue Reading.
Due to a wine spillage (how middle class) our old laptop has given up the ghost. It was getting past it anyway – the battery didn’t hold its charge so we had to keep it plugged in, there was a big crack in it, and one corner of it always heated up so badly that the plastic casing started to melt!
Anyway, I’ve been considering a replacement and I’ve found that refurbished desktops are extremely cheap. I’ve added a link here for an example at just over £100. At that price I wouldn’t mind if it only lasted a couple of years.
My question is – is it worth it or is it a false economy?
Our needs and considerations are quite meager: – Don’t really need online gaming or anything too fancy – I don’t actually need wifi – it’s really just for occasional use so it can sit near our telly (which will double as a monitor) and can plug straight into the BT router wibbly thing. – Need to use: Google (basic browsing), Amazon, Hotmail, Facebook, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, maybe Youtube on occasion, The Afterword (of course), Windows media player (to import CDs and put on my » Continue Reading.
Anyone watching the new Watchmen TV series on Sky/HBO?
I was/am a massive fan of the comic. Probably would be my off-the-wall choice for Best Ever Work Of Literature if I was feeling a bit contrarian. It really is good – highly recommended for anyone who has never read it.
I was dubious about whether we really *needed* this new TV series… but it’s clearly a labour of love, and I’m starting to get hooked. I thought at first it was going to be a remake/reboot, but it’s a direct sequel to the comic and the attention to detail is painstaking. Visually it feels just like Dave Gibbons panels come to life, with a lot of style decisions that ring true to the intention of the comic (policemen wearing masks, stuff like that).
Jeremy Irons is absolutely perfect as the ageing Ozymandias.
And it’s really brave to go so “out there” from the start – there’s no audience hand-holding.
I bet Alan Moore still hates it though.
I’m 46 and on whim the other day I was browsing and bought Astral Weeks on CD second hand for three quid.
I’ve no idea why I’ve avoided this record for so long – it wasn’t conscious avoidance. I had a vague notion it might be up my street, but just never got round to it. Other Van stuff I’ve chanced on hasn’t really floated my boat (Moondance, Brown Eyed Girl, ugh) apart from Them stuff (Baby Please Don’t Go, hooray). Plus Astral Weeks seems to exist in a little bubble of its own – I don’t think I’ve ever heard any of the tracks by chance at any point.
Anyway – stating the obvious here, but – isn’t it terrific???? It’s seriously genius and I really wasn’t expecting it to be so good. On these eight tracks Van seemed to find some unique yearning voice and oblique lyric style that’s pitched somewhere between Dylan, Nick Drake and early Lou Reed (and is easily the equal of any of them). And the musical arrangements are just unbeatable – brilliant interplay between the band.
It’s one of those records that really touches the big beyond, like so few records do.
I’ve recently been drawn repeatedly to The Lark Ascending, that ubiquitous and instantly recognisable piece by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
I was struck by the fact that I heard it being used recently at a friend’s wedding. It seemed to fit the mood perfectly. Yet it also fitted perfectly when it was used at my aunt’s funeral years ago. Is there something similar in the mood of a wedding and a funeral? It soothes people in a way that only a handful of exceptional orchestral pieces do, like perhaps Venus from THe Planets Suite, or Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony.
I can’t explain on an analytical level why it works as well as it does, which I suppose is mostly due to my own lack of formal musical training. I know the main violin part is pentatonic (i.e. the black keys on a piano, basically, which is why it can sound like ersatz Chinese in parts) but that’s about it.
One observation I’d make is that the contrast between the solo violin sections interspersed with orchestral interjections, somehow makes it symbolic or resonant of a feeling of loneliness. The violin is self-evidently a lone voice (you could easily recognise the piece from a » Continue Reading.
Is anyone here a big Curtis Mayfield fan? I don’t know much beyond the obvious candidates, but I want to dig deeper and need to know where to start.
– Move On Up. Classic. Best breakdown bar none. – Super Fly soundtrack. I bought it for the twin standout tracks Super Fly and Pusherman, but I also have a fondness for the little instrumental track buried on side two, Think. (I love the oboe on it). – Keep On Keeping On. Great pleading joyous-with-a-hint-of-melancholy falsetto. Goosebumps. – Give It Up. Ditto. More goosebumps.
I haven’t knowingly heard much of The Impressions, but I know and love the Chambers Brothers’ People Get Ready. And I also know and love Patti Jo’s version of Make Me Believe In You.
Where do I go next? A Greatest Hits? One of his other albums? Is his later work worth exploring or did he peak in the early seventies like Stevie and Marvin? I mean, I could just google it or find a Spotify playlist, but it’s more fun to ask you guys….
I’ve been recently reading Tim Harford’s book, “Messy – How to be Creative and Resilient in a Tidy-Minded World”. It’s a fascinating little book full of interesting anecdotes – great for dipping into. The general theme is that, contrary to what you might think, a lot of the times mess and disorganisation is a boost to productivity.
One of the well-worn case studies he focuses on is the story of Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies cards – a process to introduce randomness and disruption to the process of recording music, and force thinking outside the box.
But here’s one bit I just thought I’d share today, and it’s been condensed as an article on Harford’s website. Well worth a read if you have twenty minutes to spare, and some smug food for thought if, like me, you have a messy desk and messy email inbox at work. Maybe we’re in the right and it’s the over-tidiers and over-organisers who have it wrong….
A short excerpt if you don’t have time to read the whole thing:
“When it comes to actual paper, there’s always the following beautiful approach. Invented in the early 1990s by Yukio Noguchi, an emeritus professor at Hitotsubashi University » Continue Reading.
Thank you everyone for your contributions to my 60 albums thread. And thank you for bearing with me while it slowly dawned on me that it was a bigger job than I thought and I hadn’t really planned it out properly!
I’ve found it fascinating reading all the results. But I’ve now finished the big spreadsheet and I’m ready to share the results. I’ll do so year by year in the comments below. It’s going to take some time to go through all the years, but, hey, we have all the time in the world, in the words of Mr Armstrong.
I’ll also comment on some of the problems, like the same album appearing in different years (West Side Story, I’m looking at you).
My next job is to decide a method on choosing the winner for each year. I don’t want to just go with the one with the most votes for each year. That’s bland and boring and I never intended that. I’ll lay out all the nominations for each year here and then I can have a think.
One thing is clear – some years have a clear winner. I think in these cases I can just » Continue Reading.
Year: 2019 Director: Quentin Tarantino
This seems to have gathered quite a buzz around it, which I find strange. I feel that all these people drawn to the irresistible bromance pairing of Leo and Brad are going to be ever-so-slightly disappointed. In fact there were a few walkouts in Cineworld tonight.
Just be warned that this is a meandering, languid film with little sense of forward momentum for the majority of its two-and-a-half hour running time. At times it (seriously) resembles a game of Grand Theft Auto. (Is there a GTA 1969 edition?) Brad driving around Los Angeles on a dreamy sunny afternoon, listening to cool music, carrying out odd jobs and picking up hippy chick hitchhikers.
I’d also compare the overall feel to Robert Altman’s Shortcuts or PT Anderson’s Inherent Vice. Good films, but both the kinds of films where you can doze off in the middle for half an hour and not miss much. There’s very little of Tarantino’s trademark snappy dialogue and pop philosophising.
I won’t spoil the plot, but it’s no secret that it’s set against the shadow of the Manson murders. A firm awareness of that grisly moment in history will be most helpful when » Continue Reading.
Just a little nugget that might be of interest to some. Colin’s Pentangle post (“which one?”, ha ha) sent me off on a little YouTube journey of acoustic guitarists.
If anyone knows and loves Mike Oldfield’s Ommadawn album from 1975, here’s the original of that beautiful melody from side two (the bit with Paddy Moloney’ s Uillean pipes). This was an outtake from an album he did with his sister in 1968.
He was fifteen at the time. FIFTEEN. Can you imagine creating something like this at that age?
I’m still not fully convinced this is just one guitar. He has that Bert Jansch octopus style playing down pat. Have a listen and see what you think.
This might not fly… and I’m well aware I’m pandering to that particular branch of Afterworders (list-lovers) that seem to cause much disdain with some people…. but let’s see…
(and hopefully this hasn’t been tried before)
I want to create a list of The Best Album Of Each Year From 1959-2019 As Decided By The Afterword Massive. In other words, the sixty best albums of the last sixty years.
What’s my plan? Well, I have my excel spreadsheet primed and ready to go. My idea is, everyone who wants to can nominate any album from any year (no more than one per year) to create a long list – then I’ll have a series of posts (probably one for each decade) where we vote on the winner for each year! Maybe you’ll get a chance to make an impassioned argument for one of your nominations. Then at some point we’ll end up with a definitive list of 60 albums.
It’s fun! Yes??
So add your nominations below! As many as you want, but no more than one per year. Original album releases only – so contemporaneous live albums (say, Live at Leeds) are okay (for example) but greatest hits and » Continue Reading.
This looks interesting, for anyone in or near Glasgow. A Linda McCartney photography exhibition has been doing the rounds and will come to the Kelvingrove Museum next month.
Hope my link works, but here’s an excerpt from the blurb:
“The Linda McCartney Retrospective, which is curated by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney, features iconic names and moments in music from the 1960s along with more intimate and emotional later work by this acclaimed and prolific photographer.
The retrospective also includes one of Linda McCartney’s diaries from the 1960s displayed in public for the first time and bringing new insight into the contemporary music scene of the era and the beginnings of her photographic career.
Cameras used by Linda McCartney and held in her archive will be displayed in public for the first time, along with Polaroids and Contact Sheets to explore her creativity and use of the different techniques.”
I love Linda’s photography, even without the Beatles connection, so this is a no-brainer for me. Can’t wait.
Did anyone watch “63 Up” tonight?
(It was terrific, of course, as always. Very moving and thought-provoking. If anyone hasn’t heard of it, it’s a documentary series that has been running since 1964 where they follow a group of people every seven years).
Anyway…. just before the end credits, NOT the end credits…. there was a flashback montage to a scene from the first series in 1964, and it showed all the seven year old kids playing on a building sight. What was the tune that was playing??? It was absolutely gorgeous and I need to listen to the whole thing. Sounded like a very English classical thing, something like Vaughan Williams or Elgar or something. The sort of thing you would hear on Classic FM. It sounded very familiar so it must be quite famous.
Again, I DON’T mean the sinister-sounding tune that plays over the end credits… it was just before that.
Please someone tell me!
I thought it would be fun to post the flip side to Harold’s thread. There are plenty of movies I have been a bit nervous about watching again, in case they don’t stand up to my rose-tinted memories, but then I have been overjoyed to find them to be every bit as good as they always were:
– ET is emotionally manipulative, but is a joy to watch and is a relatively young film maker at the absolute height of his powers.
– Cool Hand Luke, The Hustler, The Sting, Torn Curtain… Just about anything with Paul Newman in it really! His imperial phase is just unbeatable.
– Tarantino films, i think, have aged magnificently. I reached both Pulp Fiction and Reservior Dogs recently and found them both vibrant and exhilarating. Apart from, ahem, some problematic language that wouldn’t be allowed today.
– All the Monty Python films. I think they set a bar for comedy that has never really been surpassed.
– The Back to the Future trilogy. While so many eighties films have dated so badly, this film series still seems timeless. Probably because, erm, it’s about time travel. But also because it uses a proper orchestral score » Continue Reading.
Apropos of nothing, I’ve found myself recently listening repeatedly to Peter Green’s imperial run of three classic Fleetwood Mac singles from ’68 to ’69: Albatross, Man of the World and Oh Well (pts 1 and 2).
I’m not really a fan of all the wailing blues stuff Peter Green seems to be known for. I can take electric blues to an extent but I tire of it quickly. With these three songs though, Mr Green delves into a talent for poignancy which is much more my bag.
Albatross is perhaps overplayed, but try if you can to listen with fresh ears. It’s a symphony masquerading as easy listening. In both this and Man of the World it sounds to me like he’s trying to rewrite Santo and Johnny’s untouchable Sleepwalk – and making a pretty good fist of it.
Man of the World is my favourite of the three. The opening lines are the hook, and sound as fresh and melancholic as the openings to Here Comes The Sun or Homeward Bound. You get immediately drawn in and the song can’t put a foot wrong after that.
Well, it kind of does put a foot wrong with the almost uncomfortably » Continue Reading.
This is a great article in the Guardian today. Patrick Kielty sums up the troublesome Irish position on Brexit with wit and clarity.
My natural inclination to dismiss Kielty as a fluff light entertainment presenter was tempered a long time ago by a friend of mine who knew him growing up and has always testified to his intelligence and authenticity. And I think reading this article proves this right.
How did we miss this? And how will we survive??