This is a 4K restoration of some 16mm film of Genesis in concert at the Bataclan theatre in Paris from January 1973. I find the new detail and intimacy astonishing. Incredible work.
What does it sound like?:
The music on Steve Hackett’s latest album ‘Surrender of Silence’ follows in the footsteps of his recent rock albums like ‘The Night Siren (2017)’ and ‘At the Edge of Light’ (2019), the sound an appealing blend of heavy rock and world music flavours, all bathed in Roger King’s sumptuous orchestral arrangements. But there seems to be an added edge and urgency here. In pre-release interviews Hackett has confessed to a growing sense of existential gloom, worried – like many of us – about where the world is heading, and the swirling political and cultural forces at play. These concerns translate into a new album brimming with anger and energy, Hackett serving up one of his more muscular and brooding collections.
Coming only nine months after the acoustic sojourn of ‘Under a Mediterrranean Sky’, ‘Surrender of Silence’ hits like a North Atlantic storm. Album opener ‘The Obliterati’ sets the tone, Hackett’s trademark finger tapping hammering out wild and electrifying arpeggios. The music is often dense and complex, but there’s an elegance and intricacy about Hackett’s brand of rock, a sense of firm control in the face of unruly forces.
His guitar playing is » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
The Genesis narrative is a familiar one. A band of gauche public schoolboys with a charismatic front man lose two of their number early on, but then make two key signings. Drummer Phil Collins replaces John Mayhew, while Steve Hackett takes over the lead guitar stool vacated by Anthony Phillips, launching the band into progressive rock’s premier league. A stunning, if short era of lawnmowers and Slippermen ends with the abrupt departure of Peter Gabriel in 1975. Noodler in chief Hackett follows in ‘77, and the band, reduced to a 3-piece, abandons its progressive sensibilities, reinvents itself as a global distributor of shiny pop wallpaper, and retires on the winnings. That’s all.
Or is it?
The distance of time brings fresh perspective, and a sunny, mountain-top view of a different course. Steve Hackett was the first member of Genesis to release a solo album. More than thirty albums later, ‘Under a Mediterranean Sky’ rises over the bleak days of January, a welcome and exotic sight, like the return of a migratory bird. From lockdown, Hackett has sent us a collection of mostly acoustic instrumentals inspired by his travels and experiences around the Mediterranean » Continue Reading.
Apologies if this guy is old news to all you Afterword connoisseurs of good music, but I’ve only just come across the Rose City Band, aka Ripley Johnson from Wooden Shjips. I’ve never particularly bothered with the band themselves – that spelling is enough to put anybody off for a start – but this solo stuff is just what the doctor ordered, and on this gloomy and wet Wednesday especially. There’s not much original going on here, musically speaking, but who cares when the sounds are so sinuous and sublime. Geographically speaking, Johnson sticks his flag in territory explored by JJ Cale, Spiritualised, The Grateful Dead and quite a few others. But the feel and groove is absolutely spot on, and what emerges is lush and intoxicating.
There are two albums so far. This year’s Summerlong has shorter songs and a bit of a country tinge. I think I prefer last year’s self-titled debut, and ‘Rivers of Mind’ is one of the stand out tracks.
I was chatting to my wife (who is from the US, and very concerned about her elderly mother in California) last night about the hopelessly inadequate response of the US federal government to the coronavirus crisis, and how it puts a big nail in the coffin of the ‘deep state’ narrative pedalled by Trump and his sycophants. After all, what kind of deep state – with its labyrinthine network of intelligence agencies and vast powers of international surveillance – misses an open goal like this? What, exactly, is a deep state for, if not to catch a crisis like the one currently unfolding?
Of course, the UK and other European countries also seem to have overlooked the seriousness of this threat, even though it’s been months in the making. But Trump’s the one who’s been obsessed with this deep state nonsense. Seems that he’s finding – to his cost – that the deep state cannot function on its own. It needs a figurehead, a competent head chef in the kitchen to keep everything cooking. And shallow frying just won’t do.
We live in interesting times. Following on from @H-P-Saucecraft’s thought provoking statistical piece, I thought it would be interesting to gauge the overall mood and wellbeing of the Afterword by creating an optimism/pessimism index. Are we all chomping at the bit for the joy of tomorrow, or are we a bunch of miserable bastards who think everything is wrong, and nothing will ever get better?
The task is simple. Pick a whole number between 0 and 10 which you feel best represents your feelings about the future. Leave your love life out of it. As a fully qualified pessimist and glass half empty kind of guy, I can tell you that love never lasts, so that’s irrelevant to the task at hand. I’m talking about the feelings at the core of your being. Where there may be sunshine or showers. A score of 10 means you are supremely positive about the future, while ‘0’ suggests the end is nigh. A score of ‘5’ represents a state of ambivalence.
You can show your working if you wish. Explanations are welcome but not necessary. This is a thread primarily about numbers. At the end I will try » Continue Reading.
I just can’t get this Melania coat thing out of my head. The sheer weirdness of it all. Like Trump walking into a Stormy Daniels press conference wearing a pair of comedy breasts. It’s like bleak Milligan humour, but it can’t be. I’ve been trying to compute the meaning all day, and I’m none the wiser. But I’ve come up with a series of options, which, I think, offer an explanation, in order of decreasing probabilty.
And before anyone says its all just more distraction from the real issues, like the Mueller probe, I would say that this is a very real issue. This is about the character and countenance of the leadership of the most powerful nation on the planet. I would say this behaviour is a matter of some urgency.
Option 1. More Trump trolling. Early on the morning of Melania’s trip, Melania’s people get a call from Trump’s people. “We need to fuck with their minds!” bellows a Trump aide down the phone. “Tell Melania to wear the Zara coat.” This is all a ruse dreamed up by one of Trump’s keenest sycophants, keen to jump up an orbit or two in the monstrous gas cloud » Continue Reading.
I stumbled across this relatively obscure Genesis b-side the other day. It dates from 1975, and The Trick of the Tail sessions, the first album they recorded after Peter Gabriel departed. The song appears to be three separate sections stitched together, with the middle section forming part of the closing ‘Los Endos’ on The Trick of the Tail.
It’s an interesting historical piece. The transition from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway – their previous album – to this, is startling. The structure of the song retains prog. leanings, but the tune itself is pretty much a straight ahead dirge. It does sound good. Collins already seems comfortable in his new role as lead vocalist, while Hackett’s/Banks’s expert arpeggios and Mike Rutherford’s shuddering bass pedals create an assured, embalming atmosphere. Lyrically, it’s all change too. Hogweeds, Lamias and unifauns are replaced by a maudlin lament to a love lost.
The abrupt shift in the middle of the song self-consciously reasserts their prog. credentials. But it’s the closing coda that really caught my attention. Here, the band essentially reprises the intro. before heading off into generic, off-the-shelf, woozy psychedelia. Guitar’s chime at stoner pace before – wait for it » Continue Reading.
I’ve never got on well with Pink Floyd’s song Atom Heart Mother. Brass bands and psychedelic rock are distantly related musical cousins. Brass tends to present a hard, angular, pragmatic sound, completely at odds with the soft edges favoured by space cadets. And on the evidence of Atom Heart Mother, they mix about as well as oil and water. The brass arrives like an uninvited party guest, and parps and farts to no discernible purpose. To these ears, it sounds like it doesn’t belong there. Still, they tried, so full marks for effort.
Recognising their wrong turn, the band wisely banished the brass, and began to refine what would become their signature sound, a languid music of refined, understated power. Take a trip to Cambridge and follow the River Cam, as it meanders through the gentle furrows of Grantchester Meadows. There are echoes of natural themes throughout their work, and it’s no coincidence that their best music has always worked well outdoors.
But hang on a minute. Fast forward four decades and we stumble across a song called Heavenly Waters by British Sea Power. It’s got a brass band all over it, but seems to be trading on the » Continue Reading.
I am looking on with growing unease at the current EU negotiations. For British expats living in the EU, the consequences of a UK exit are horribly uncertain. My family are all Spanish residents. My kids are bilingual and in local Spanish schools. My wife is from the US and can only remain here because of my EU links. I live in a house that I have helped to build that is near worthless in the current Spanish market. But I am happy here, and I want to stay and grow old here in a place that I consider my home.
Come June, all this could change. If the UK votes to leave, nobody knows how individual member states will respond to the millions of UK expats in their midst. Spain may decide to remove residency rights, increase taxes on foreign owned assets and so on. It’s quite possible that I, along with millions of others, will be forced to return to the UK. And because I’ve been living outside the UK for more than seven years, I am not allowed to vote in a referendum that could decide my future.
All seems a bit grim, doesn’t it? » Continue Reading.
This link has been doing the rounds on Facebook today. Some hilarious stuff, obviously, and yet it’s striking how daring, colourful and adventurous men’s fashion was back in those days. Today everything is so dull and samey.