04/07/2010

Hat Unexamined


Properly couldn't believe how shit this review in the Observer was. Apparently the full text:


Davy Graham, who died two years ago, aged 68, was revered among guitarists of every style. He never achieved the success he deserved, mainly because the media didn't know what label to stick on him. This collection of rare tracks includes some of his most jazz-inspired playing. There are five numbers, privately recorded in 1963 and paid for by Bob Monkhouse, who was a huge fan. There is also a whole live set, recorded 10 years later at the Medway folk centre, containing everything from Irish pipe tunes to a piece by Horace Silver and even a Cole Porter song.



Which is the worst kind of hollow, unaesthetic crap. I understand that 1) if some copy-ed idiot does ask you for a 100 word review, then you're doomed from the start unless you can write a sonnet for it and that 2) shading-in detail is vital if you're not to alienate the vast majority of your readership (the ones who don't feel compelled to google names they don't know about) and even that 3) the above is entirely objective, which I imagine some of you think is a good thing.

But this is just nothing, isn't it? I couldn't describe Davy Graham in 1000 words, though, so I suppose, again, it's the ridiculous format to blame rather than the reviewer, who has created an interesting encyclopaedia piece on this album. Just nothing like the actual critical attention which "review" is supposed to imply.


03/07/2010

ALBUM REVIEW: Kid Reflux's Summer Mix 2010.4

Epigram:
Can pop, when placed in a symphony of total immersion, solve any conceivable problem or emotional travail? 'Good luck, good luck...'



A: "Cheer Up, Cunt"
  1. Shake A Leg - Roll Deep
  2. Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants - Wild Beasts
  3. [samples In The Basement - Etta James]
  4. Am I Right or Wrong? - Son House
  5. Success - Iggy
  6. (Release The Pressure) - James Brown
  7. Monkey Man - Specials
  8. Ya Goin Down - JJ Fad
  9. Hate To Say I Told You So - Shangri-Las
  10. Ladyflash - Go! Team
  11. We Run This - Missy
  12. [glory glory synth united] - TNJX?
  13. --> [cut] a young Piaf? -->
  14. La Foule - Edith Piaf
  15. Eskimo ? - Wiley/Roll Deep
  16. >--> 6s of "One More Time" -->
  17. Respect Yourself - Staple Singers
  18. [out of tape]



B: "Chip up, cockle"
  1. 'Respect Yourself' continues
  2. [some lovely r&b, "have a little faith in what you do"]
  3. Hot Stuff - Donna Summer
  4. Good Luck - Basement Jaxx
  5. [no seam] Boom Boom - Vengaboys
  6. --> [violent] 5s of Kate Bush's "Wow" -->
  7. [violent] Girl Overboard - Girls Aloud
  8. [cut] Sounds of Science - Beastie Boys
  9. [cut] Body Movin (Fatboy Remix?) - Beastie Boys
  10. That's Good - Devo
  11. [straight to climax] Fight For Your Right - BBs
  12. [violent] Last Orders - The Fall
  13. --> [blip] -->
    --> 3s of diva pop -->
  14. Going Back To My Roots - Odissey

  15. [cut] 27. Feels Like I'm In Love - Kelly Marie
  16. Illumination Algorithm - TNJX
  17. [some gentle Hacienda, spacey-vocalled dance]
  18. [clumsy cut] You Can Get It (Kid Reflux Trumpet Fixation Mix) - Jimmy Cliff
  19. The Harder They Come - Jimmy Cliff
  20. --> 'Devil You Know' - Kylie -->
  21. [violent cut] --> I Should Be So Lucky -->
  22. [violent cut] --> I Believe In You -->






[In Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio] does a lot of what music should do to you; sweep away negative thoughts and make you feel ashamed to be miserable.




^^ Overall mood is just this; another Mercutio list. It's the look your mate gives you, or should, when you're being drab and self-indulgent; it skips around you with energy enough to make you realize what a numpty you are (and one that you don't have to be, importantly).

Hiphop and dance of a giddy stripe predominates - uppers should tie to a living world, so as not to introduce any death into things. (Don't want to trace a point about black urban pragmatism versus the more European tradition of indulging existential despair from just that...). Spot of blues, too; the genre of extraordinary anguish, but startling vitality in the face of it...


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5. Success - Iggy

Eep. Had thought it a Duran Duran original...



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(8) hints at its own little history: there was this wonderful bout of group hysteria in mid-80s New York, spread amongst some hip-hop crews. The resulting 'Roxanne Wars' are the longest and most disproportionately vicious set of 'answer record' disses. A lot of them sold big, which fuelled hip-hop into a darker place than it'd been before.



Well, let me tell you somethin' else about the Doctor, too:
He don't even know how to operate
He came up to me with some bullshit rap
But let me tell you somethin' 'cause you know it was wack
So when he came up to me, I told him to step back.

- Shanté


Shan and Marley Marl, dem-a-rhymin like they gay
- KRS-One

"I think she's fine" / - Something's wrong with you boy, you must be blind...
- Ralph Rolle




"Ya Goin Down" is a late (1988) entry in the farce, cut by a crew of female MCs unrelated to, well, any of it. It's great though, a real nasty sexist relic in which Shanté is pimped, dissed, impugned and impregnated. Sounds like Beastie Boys do when they're being intentionally brassy and bleh. Compare with her gentle accusation of "wack":

"Plus you never seen the world;
I gotta diss this dark-skinned fat girl..."
- JJ Fad



---My ability to ID the Go! Team is not improving. Those giddy drums, mashup aesthetics, sweet hooks, and yet nothing blinks in my mind's ear.




************************************************************


---What does Edith Piaf sing? It's so much bigger than any other 'cabaret' you could care to excavate. It's more direct than basically any jazz ever. Here she swings the chorus with pathological force; the whole band has apparently gone mental, swept, swung, sung.




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--- Side B is escalation of the by-the-balls kind. 16 through 21 is just life, children, simply life.

16. Lovely, no pretence to him, just quiet advice delivered through piano.
17. OH GOD DRAGGED UPWARDS BY YOUR PELVIS and collarbones


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18. And "Good Luck" is just one of those songs that makes twitch from how good it is.


************************************************************


19...somehow in three songs we've gotten here, the momentum overcoming sneer, circumstance, mind.


************************************************************


20, 21. Premise: You cannot disparage a thing's potency (e.g Girls Aloud) when the Beastie Boys sound lowkey next to it.





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---Now, what is possibly cheering about the Fall? Well: when, having enough of the shite, you're getting up off of that thing, at least in a Mark E Smith way. There's also something to be said about the breadth of his contempt; when have you ever heard anyone sneer at people who are, say:

"Reading all the books, taking in the news - They've just given me their Last orders"




Tape is overall loose throughout the first side. I like the choking off of Daft Punk - maybe you'd call it 'compositional allusion'. Songs like "One More Time" don't need any more than a few seconds on the tape - your mind fills this size of hit in itself, and so the tape can save its breath, move on, use the unspoken impression against whatever you cut to instead. (Here, an r&b essay in tolerance - is Pops chastising Daft Punk's egoist?!)

Second side loses its way a bit, dropping into harder bands who get stuck into inertia, quietism, pretension. But we come out into pop, pop, TNJX! and we are led out to a sweet unmacho Honourable reggae mon and a teasing selection from the puppet mistress.


You? What have you seen?
What have you been through?
I know Trouble, Trouble said he don't know you
I know Beef, Beef said he don't know you,
War said he don't know you,
I know Crime, and Crime don't know you
I met Hunger and he said he don't know you...



I dunno who Wiley thought he was dissing, but I can take that personally. Is it worse to be privileged and miserable than privileged and content? As is often the case, utilitarianism can't function on its own, and the answer is: depends on what it was that made you either.

In fact, if you'll take the whole bastard mix personally, it'll very likely do you good.

Ha! What's this idea of "taking music personally"? - as if we had any choice! (you're so vain, I bet you think this mixtape's writ on you.)


Imagine a well-meaning someone buys you a copy of, say, Dragonforce's Ultra Beatdown, or, I dunno, Paul Potts Sings Leonard Cohen. Imagine.



Yours, etc.
>

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While I'm being the tracklist martyr: Raking through the Annexe (a glorified, punkedup shed in the garden) the other day, found a heap of cack and debris from me and my bro's overlapping adolescence. Amongst the stacks of PSone game boxes with no discs in, oils and ting from my ill-advised phase of being arty (, etc), was this shitey little thing:



Tracklisting (playlist):
  1. The Buzzcocks - Flat-Pack Philosophy
  2. Jenny Lewis With The Watson Twins - Handle With Care
  3. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Over And Over Again (Lost And Found)
  4. Sparks - Metaphor
  5. Kris Kristofferson - This Old Road
  6. Belle & Sebastian - Dress Up In You
  7. Plan B - Sick 2 Def (Acoustic)
  8. Broken Social Scene - Fire Eye'd Boy
  9. Television Personalities - May You Dream The Sweetest Dreams
  10. The National Trust - It's Just Cruel
  11. Mew - Apocalypso
  12. Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Revolver
  13. Pink Mountaintops - Plastic Man, You're The Devil
  14. Neko Case - Star Witness
  15. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Every Night I Die At Miyagi's

: A cover cd from an old Uncut mag. Now, to anyone with any sense, this is a supremely trifling thing. Any charity shop worth its bequests would just bin it, and most of the nostalgiac geezes that buy Uncut probably didn't even bother playing it. But I saw this duckrabbit differently; looks to me like gold.

Got it when I was 15 and stupid, contradicting myself; living in punk purism...and playing jazz standards. Good god, to play only jazz and listen to only ("real") punk! You're twice the close-minded idiot, which sort of misses the point of purism.

You are allowed a wide degree of close-mindedness when you're young; you're still cocooned in inexperience and basically aren't a person, so to let in too much of the world at once is hazardous.

It was a sick genius put Belle and Seb next to this, an' all:



I really had no idea what pop was, except of course that it was the enemy. And that's a disease.

But these buggers hooked me with Pete Shelley (most punx feel compelled to salute '77 survivors), and then strange things happened while I wasn't looking out for what I was listening to. (Implies that it takes a great sustained effort to be sceptical of pop. Or that a great deal of spite needs generating, that it's a continuous task of applying disdain to one's skin. Poor dears.)


1. Funkier 'n your average 50yo relics; only edged powerpop
2. Rounded country-pop with massive indie crediting
3. charming Talking Heads-lite
4. Funny, busy chamberpop
5. Earthy, hopeful, poor man's Cash
6. The sweetest of their latter, horn-ridden pop sound.
7. Leaden, but revelatory LANDANah rap
8. Delirious indieboy shiz
9. Fuzzy beat-poem post-punk
10. Prince-y dance
11. The Shins after they got sexually abused
12. Insinuating, folksy darkness
13. Standard goodtime indiefolk
14. Altcountry sweet breakout
15. Agreeable lo-fi poprock, looking backwards at Sebadoh


So: a mixed bag of solid, poignant alt, with only Plan B supplying the thing any aggression. But I played the shit out of this - this copy's no longer shiny on either side, in fact, and scratched in that regular, thin-streaked way that denotes the wear and tear of love. It was my favourite album for a bit - this, this cheapo indieschmindie coverdisc!

"Ooh", says that bit of me that is wary of me exposing us to ridicule, "so you went from angry guitar music to thoughtful guitar music; what a fucking event, what a thousand-word-worthy topic." It was more than this. It was the erosion of a kind of taste which entails your contempt of the world. It brought on wider and greater things, expansions which continue through these tapes.



Contemporaneous document from Bry Parasite, a lá:


I am not my brother's keeper:

I don't mean to talk down the start I got in music - I knew who Jello Biafra was at 11, and can easy appreciate dischord and "bad" voices and so on - but the early deluge of counterculture stopped me from working out what I thought was good. From this perspective, I'm in fact a backslider; from zines back to Melody Maker*; from DIY to BMG; spirit to sound.




* And on; so far, to this pop-inflected blog thing, but we'll see, won't we?