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March 16, 2007

Sound & Vision… with PhoeniX PhiL

Filed under: music, film, editorial, authors, PhoeniX Phil, Topics — pxpl @ 11:51 am

Hello welcome to the first “Sound & Vision… with PhoeniX PhiL”, where I’ll be having a chat and rant about recent music, films, TV etc. First up on the agenda lets talk about Mika. For those unfamiliar with Mika, he’s the lanky, frizzy haired, falsetto loving, ex-child prodigy who shot to number 1 with his debut single “Grace Kelly” on downloads alone. Surely this whole “downloads counting as valid chart stats” allows record companies to cheat on a major scale… after all if they’ll spend 3 million quid on a video what’s to stop them using friends and families computers to buy a million downloads at 79p?

My main problem with Mika is that it’s yet another example of the mainstream music industry saying to the average person in the street “here is your new favourite popstar” and then promoting him almost exclusively until the general public think that his is the only album in the shops to buy. Yep! keep all the promotion costs on the same product for a lengthy period and keep the profits steady. It’s an awful device but it makes business sense …in the short term at least. Give it 10 years and a manky £5.99 “best of” will collecting dust in the budget section of Woolies. That’s if Woolies still exists in 10 years time… Oh! the death of the high street… but that’s another story for another time.

Anyhow, the single’s alright in a catchy, falsetto lead, bouncy piano way… but to be honest McFly’s forthcoming single “Transylvania” does the whole ripping off “Jellyfish’s Queen / 10cc inspired ways” thing a hell of a lot better. Speaking of which, I’m possibly the only person to be thrilled at the way “Transylvania” has gone from fan favourite b-side to album track and now it’s going to be released as a single. It’s the same chain of events that lead to “How Soon Is Now” being released as a single. I love it when the voice of the fans is heard. Yes… I know I’ll never marry.

On the other end of the musical spectrum, I’m proud to award Butcher Boy “Profit In Your Poetry” as my album of the month. The indiepop explosion of last year was amazing fun and a great soundtrack to the summer HOWEVER me being cynical like I am I was concerned that perhaps it was all getting a bit too um, “happy clappy”. I mean that “Treehouse” song by “I’m From Barcelona” is a lot fun granted but there needed to be someone to um, “bring balance to force”… and luckily Butcher Boy have wandered into twee-town and boy oh boy, they aint here to make everything sunny.

Sounding like a strange rainy-day hangover conducted by Arthur Lee, the album takes the usual indiepop stylings (..or trappings) and drains them of anything that could be considered twee. The end result could be described as sombre post-punk meets beautiful orchestrated folk. It felt like eaves dropping on a strange whisper of a world. Enticingly tender yet possibly savage.

Opening track “Trouble & Desire” and closing track “Days Like These Will Be The Death Of Me’ bookend an album that’s prefect for when the worlds beat you down and you need a similar sound to get lost in. It’s not all doom and gloom though, first single “Girls Make Me Sick” powers along on an motown-esque bass line before exploding into crashing guitar chords for the verse pay-off while the title track is cut from the same hazy-pop cloth as “Don’t Fear The Reaper”.

With regard to other new albums I’ve bought this month, I’m bizarrely really struggling with the new Shins album. Everyone keeps saying it’s brilliant but to me (a big fan of their first two albums) it all sounds a bit samey and there’s no real stand out moments. It’s the same problem I had with The Flaming Lips when they got heaps of praise for the “Yoshimi ..” album which I thought was rather dull and pedestrian. To be fair I’ve only heard the new Shins on my I-pod while rushing around being “The ‘niX”. Maybe I need to listen to it on one of those rare occasion that I get to relax and listen to albums in their whole whilst sitting on my easy chair enjoying a hot chocolate.

In terms of films I saw Clerks 2 the other night on dvd and I think Dr.T’s review (see last months PopArt Digest) was rather harsh. All of Big Kev’s films have a clichéd emo streak (apart from J&SBSB… which ironically perhaps features some of his wisest and profound statements). Yes, the Smashing Pumpkin’s “1979″ bit was cheese but at least it was good cheese.

Yep Randall is more of a bully but as pointed out by Dr.T (and hinted at in the film) he’s just transferring his frustration. His “home” was the quickstop and starwars… now he’s stuck in Moobys with people talking about LOTR.

Dante Hicks’ whole problem is summed up in clerks 1 with the potty anecdote… admittedly I do think the whole “everything happening on his last day in town” thing was a bit soap opera but …so what. I also admire that fact that his “wife to be” wasn’t a stereotypical evil pussywhipper. Most film makers would’ve gone with the nagging “wife to be” who can offer controlled luxury Vs. the poor girl who truly loves him so the Americans knew who to cheer for. I liked the shades of grey.

As for Jay & Silent Bob… or the lack of. Well as Big Kev once said in a interview “The film’s called Clerks 2 …not J&SBSB 2.” I though that they were entertaining enough in this film. I was a bit disappointed with the lack of Silent Bob wisdom. But there you have it. As ever some of the best stuff is in the deleted scenes… the extended car ride scene with the “masturbating at work” chat is Kevin Smith GOLD.

In closing I’d say it’s better than Chasing Amy and Dogma not as cool as Clerks 1 and not as laugh out loud as Mallrats and J&SBSB. I still haven’t seen Jersey Girl so I still don’t know. Plus the final song is “Misery” by Soul asylum. What more could a boy of a certain age want? I DID however hate Dante’s closing line…. fingers down the throat time.

I suppose “Hot Fuzz” was the first of many “must see” films at the cinema this year for me…it was very good but simply couldn’t follow up the 100 mph fun of Shaun of The Dead… plus Edgar White well over uses his trademark “fast cutting” bits to the point of if it being a bit wanky and annoying… a bit like a guitarist who gets famous and then decides the end of every bar needs a widdly bit.

In TV news, we’re just a few sweet weeks away from WWE’s Wrestlemania 23. This years matches are harder to predict than ever… firstly there’s World champion Batista taking on WWE veteran The Undertaker for the World title. The real interest here is that The Undertaker HAS NEVER BEEN DEFEATED AT WRESTLEMANIA… will Batista be able to end this winning streak? will the Undertaker be able to win the world title for the first time in 5 years? EXCITING for sure. Then there’s John Cena and “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels battling for the WWE title… at the moment the pair of them are not only both “good guys” but also the current tag team champions… will one of them turn “heel” (into a bad guy) …and what will become their tag team? I don’t even get me started on the WWE owner Vinnie Mac’s representative Umaga taking on Donald Trump’s representative Bobby Lashley where the losing billionaire will end up having their head shaved. Anyone planning on having a Wrestlemania viewing party ? I don’t have Sky and I’m desperate to see it.

Oh well now I’ve lost all of my cool points, I’ll be on my way. Expect more observations soon.

March 1, 2007

Tamla Tim’s Soul Survivor

Filed under: music, editorial, Tamla Tim — tamlatim @ 12:26 pm
Gloria Jones – “Tainted Love”, 1964, Champion

The fact that this is one of the most covered songs of all time is testament to truly classic song writing that that has been able to transcend the particular fashions and tastes of several generations. From the sleazy synth-pop of Soft Cell’s version – often assumed to be the original, to The Clash (although never officially released), to Inspiral Carpets, to Marilyn Manson’s panto-goth version to the respective cats and dogs versions by The Pussycat Dolls and Skinny Puppy … the list goes on and on. But for my money none can touch the raw, stomping soul power of the Gloria Jones original.

 

On its release the single barely made a dent in the chart and Jones never really took off as a solo artist, although she did work as a writer and producer for Motown artists like Junior Walker and Gladys Knight. It would take the obsessive vinyl junkie of the British Northern Soul scene to rescue it from obscurity and make it one of the all time favourites at sweaty, amphetamine fuelled all nighters in Manchester and Wigan . On the back of this second lease of life Jones (like several other minor American soul singers) moved to Britain , where the cultish devotion of Northern Soul fans ensured regular work. Here she met and would later marry Marc Bolan and also featured on backing vocals and keyboards in T-Rex. They had a son together, Rolan Bolan, but the story ended tragically when Marc was killed in a car accident. Gloria Jones was the driver. Tainted love indeed.

 

Early in her career Jones had been working as a backing singer and featured on hits by Elvis Presley and the original late 50s/early 60s versions of ‘Rockin Robin’ and ‘The Monster Mash’. The song that would, eventually, make her name was written and produced by one Ed Cobb, who went on to produce L.A. garage legends The Standells, and the immediacy and punch of garage rock is in evidence here too. The two famous horn stabs between lines cut like a knife and dance floors across the world have shuddered as people stamp along in time – the most literal example of a Northern Soul ‘stomper’. The rhythm is not so much ‘driving’ as ‘hurtling’ and the vocal … well, there are few finer examples of music as a kind of public therapy and catharsis, it’s the sound of a woman who has invested everything in a man who has driven her to the edge of insanity and emotion pours out of every syllable as intense pain and desperation seem to give way to strength and hope and redemption. As James Brown put it; dance until you feel better, try and release the pressure.

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