Thursday, 30 April 2009
QUITE A HANDFUL!
Carla tries to impress us with her knowledge of FNB lore by going for the 'McConkey Ass Grab' on Little Nico.
Terry, originator of said move, fails to be impressed because Nico refuses to blame Paul ("Paul? Mais non! C'est Carla!") and only awards her 3.4 on the sphincter scale. He does, however, promise to show her a few moves on Friday night. Val will be on the grassy knoll.
JIM HAS THE GOLFIN' BLUES
Shake a (shapely) leg, Carla...
See you at Alvinos around 10.45 - and if you bring little Nico, he'll have to get a round in...
Given that Kelly Jr is taking a trip to darkest Hexham today and is likely to contract whine flu, it is recommended that all those attending follow the strict personal hygiene regime as advised by the Chief Medical Officer. Whatever you do, don’t touch him!
Aunty Maggie's Remedy
Wednesday, 29 April 2009
FRIDAY NIGHT BOY COOL #7 Secret Agent Men
Secret Agent Man
(P.F. Sloan / S. Barri)
There's a man who leads a life of danger
To everyone he meets he stays a stranger
With every move he makes another chance he takes
Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow
Secret agent man, secret agent man
They've given you a number and taken away your name
Beware of pretty faces that you find
A pretty face can hide an evil mind
Ah, be careful what you say
Or you'll give yourself away
Odds are you won't live to see tomorrow
Secret agent man, secret agent man
They've given you a number and taken away your name
Secret agent man, secret agent man
They've given you a number and taken away your name
Swingin' on the Riviera one day
And then layin' in the Bombay alley next day
Oh no, you let the wrong word slip
While kissing persuasive lips
The odds are you won't live to see tomorrow
Secret agent man, secret agent man
They've given you a number and taken away your name
Secret agent man
The Mel Torme version is even better
Open Channel D... Open Channel D...
Love Poem for Emily Maitlis of BBC's Newsnight
Are the origin of desire;
Kohl-rimmed, jaded, staring out
From a perfect face balanced on a swan-like wrist.
I pull the pint away from my dry lips
And drink in something stronger for a split-second,
The windows of your soul stoking something in me
Close to madness. Emily, I love you
More than Brian Wilson.
Live at the Egypt Cottage
Monday, 27 April 2009
Toon on verge of success at last...
A PAIR OF TITS
Relegation is within their grasp and after the crap served up at St James' Park tonight, let me just say that not only has it been a long time coming, but it will also be thoroughly deserved.
Let's see the Chronicle blame this one on their usual suspects: those money-grabbing, workshy 'foreign' players who don't understand the Englishman's passion for the game - or maybe it's all the fault of the Cockney press.
PAT'S BOOK ... a review By Andrew McCullough
Colin and his friends embark upon a rip-roaring adventure in the spirit of the Famous Five (minus Timmy the dog), but unlike the Famous Five, this adventure spans not only continents, but time and space.
Guided by the mysterious agent Berengeur, the foursome are tasked with the retrieval of various artifacts from both past and future history and the very survival of planet Earth is dependent on their success. Along the way, the foursome encounter all manner of weird and wonderful creatures ranging from conehead aliens and rat people to killer skeletons and the sinister Knights of Greencastle. The book is jam packed with interesting ideas and concepts, but in addition to this, it is peppered with historical facts and figures. I read the book in one sitting never quite knowing what to expect on the next page and if Colin and his friends were to embark on another adventure, I for one would be happy to go along for the ride. Unputdownable.
Sunday, 26 April 2009
Women in Music #9
Together Through Life review stats
Beyond here lies nothin' - 7
Life is Hard - 10
My Wife's Hometown - 10
If I ever go to Houston - 7
Forgetful Heart - 9
Jolene - 9
This Dream of You - 8
Shake Shake Mama - 9
I Feel a Change Comin On - 9
It's All Good - 7
Peter Rogers RIP
From The Times, April 16, 2009
Peter Rogers: producer of the Carry On films
Late in 1957 an unsolicited script about army recruits called The Bull Boys landed on the desk of Peter Rogers and transformed the life and fortunes of a producer who had spent much of the 1940s and 1950s working fastidiously but with little recognition in the lower reaches of the British film industry.
The rights to R. F. Delderfield’s play belonged to Rogers’s fellow producer, and brother-in-law, Sydney Box, who had been unable to find backing for the project. Rogers thought the script as it stood was unfilmable and approached the leading comedy writers of the day to knock it into shape.
One by one they declined. Rogers’s approach to Spike Milligan was particularly discouraging. Entering Milligan’s office he found the creator of The Goon Show waving a loaded revolver around his head and shouting: “I can’t see anybody just now. I’m just about to kill myself.”
John Antrobus did work on the script but it was still not right, and Rogers fell back on a lesser name but a trusted colleague, Norman Hudis. Delderfield’s romantic drama was completely reworked, turned into a broad farce and given a different title, taken from the well-known Army command, Carry On Sergeant.Thus was born, almost by accident, the most successful and longest-running comedy series in the history of British films, totalling 30 titles. Like all the Carry Ons, Carry On Sergeant was shot at Pinewood Studios. Rogers recruited a cast of comedy actors from radio and television including Bob Monkhouse, Kenneth Connor, Hattie Jacques, Charles Hawtrey and Kenneth Williams. Apart from Monkhouse and William Hartnell, who played the sergeant, the core of the Carry On team was already in place.
In what became a Carry On tradition the film was derided by the critics but loved by audiences. Rogers decided there was more to be squeezed from the formula and Carry On Nurse, Carry On Teacher and Carry On Constable did for hospitals, schools and the police what Carry On Sergeant had done for the Army. Along the way the series picked up two more of its stalwarts, Joan Sims and Sid James.
Having run out of institutions to mock, the Carry Ons turned to parodying films and film genres. Carry On Spying was inspired by the Bond films, Carry On Cleo by the troubled epic Cleopatra, Carry On Screaming by the Hammer horror cycle and Carry On . . . Up the Khyber by tales of the North-West Frontier. The last was Rogers’s own favourite and is generally considered to be the best of the series.
The switch to parody was associated with Talbot Rothwell, who took over from Hudis as scriptwriter in 1963 and stayed almost to the end. Under Rothwell the Carry Ons secured their particular niche in low humour, a cocktail of dreadful puns, sexual innuendo and scatalogical jokes delivered by characters drawn with a very broad brush and regardless of what became known as political correctness.
Rogers had total control. As a writer himself he kept a close eye on the scripts, did the casting and even contributed to the musical scores. Not a man to waste money, he kept budgets down by shooting quickly, often completing principal photography in only five weeks. This meant that he could complete two films in the same year.
Nor did he go for expensive locations, rarely straying far beyond Pinewood. For Carry On . . . up the Khyber Snowdonia had to do duty for imperial India. Cobham Common in Surrey replicated the Wild West in Carry On Cowboy. When Carry On Cruising was announced, the cast looked forward to a rare trip overseas but got no farther than Southampton Water.
The films made Rogers rich but not his actors, who received a flat fee, modest by industry standards. A further bone of contention was that the women were paid half as much as the men. Nor did the cast benefit from showings of the films, or compilations of them, on television or their translation to video and DVD.
Rogers always maintained that the Carry On brand was more important than any one person. When Charles Hawtrey demanded top billing and a star on his dressing room door, or he would not appear in the film, Rogers called his bluff and replaced him with another actor. Although the Carry Ons were full of sexual antics, Rogers took a strong line about liaisons between actors and crew. When Joan Sims started dating a carpenter on the set, Rogers made clear his disapproval.
The Carry Ons were the principal but not the only contribution made by Rogers to British cinema over a career of more than 40 years. He was born into a well-to-do middle-class family in Gillingham, Kent, in 1914. His father was a valuer of licensed properties and an amateur musician from whom Peter inherited a love of music.
From 7 to 18 he attended King’s School in Rochester, the local public school. He did not shine scholastically but in his spare time became a prolific writer of plays. When he left school, rather than follow his brothers into his father’s business, he was happy to stay at home and write, supported by an allowance from his father.
After a string of rejections two of his plays were produced in London but both flopped. He worked briefly on a local newspaper. A serious bout of cerebral spinal meningitis, which kept him in hospital for a year, exempted him from service in the Second World War. He resumed writing plays, but this time for radio, and had a number broadcast by the BBC.
But radio was short-lived, as was writing scripts for J. Arthur Rank’s religious films company. When, after his mother’s early death, his father remarried, he ended Rogers’s allowance and evicted him from the house. Rogers had to find a permanent job. He worked briefly for Picture Post and then joined the trade paper World’s Press News. When the latter started a film section, Rogers was put in charge.
One of his assignments proved momentous. An interview with the producer Sydney Box, the head of Gainsborough Studios, led to writing work on Holiday Camp and he became a full-time scriptwriter. He also met Box’s younger sister, Betty, herself a producer who went on to make the Doctor films with the director Ralph Thomas (brother of Gerald Thomas, who directed the Carry Ons). Rogers and Betty Box were married in 1948 and though they pursued separate careers they had a close and happy partnership over more than 50 years.
Rogers progressed to associate producer and producer, while continuing to write screenplays. In the main his films were modest, low-budget affairs. They included To Dorothy a Son, taken from a stage hit and starring the American actress Shelley Winters, The Gay Dog, a vehicle for Wilfred Pickles, and a Francis Durbridge thriller, Vicious Circle.
Even after the Carry On series was in its stride, Rogers continued to produce other films, often comedies which used the Carry On actors. Kenneth Williams and Joan Sims starred in Twice Round the Daffodils, and Sims, Sid James and another regular, Jim Dale, featured in the bank robbery caper, The Big Job. In 1972 Rogers made a cinema version of James’s television sitcom, Bless This House.
The Carry Ons maintained their vigour, if not their quality, until the mid-1970s. But the formula was getting tired, and the death of Sid James in 1976 seemed to signal that the time had come to call it a day. The two subsequent films, Carry On England and Carry On Emmannuelle, both failed at the box office and Rogers decided to cancel the next project. The brand was, however, kept alive by regular showings on television and it was later hailed by cultural commentators as a cherishable British type of comedy.
Rogers never completely abandoned the idea of reviving the Carry Ons and eventually, in 1992, he returned with Carry On Columbus. It was generally regarded as a disaster. Two years later Rogers was declared bankrupt. He blamed this not on his films but a failed investment in a television company.
Betty Box died in 1999, aged 83. There were no children.
Peter Rogers, film producer, was born on February 20, 1914. He died on April 14, 2009, aged 95
TERENCE WITH HIS FAMILY
PAT'S BOOK... the review is in.
ALEX GOING FORTH IN THE FORTH
WHAT DID HE SAY? WHY DID HE SAY IT?
Bea Arthur, `Golden Girls' Star, Dies At 86
by Lynn Elber
LOS ANGELES — Beatrice Arthur, the tall, deep-voiced actress whose razor-sharp delivery of comedy lines made her a TV star in the hit shows "Maude" and "The Golden Girls" and who won a Tony Award for the musical "Mame," died Saturday. She was 86.
Arthur died peacefully at her Los Angeles home with her family at her side, family spokesman Dan Watt said. She had cancer, Watt said, declining to give details.
"She was a brilliant and witty woman," said Watt, who was Arthur's personal assistant for six years. "Bea will always have a special place in my heart."
Arthur first appeared in the landmark comedy series "All in the Family" as Edith Bunker's outspoken, liberal cousin, Maude Finley. She proved a perfect foil for blue-collar bigot Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor), and their blistering exchanges were so entertaining that producer Norman Lear fashioned Arthur's own series.
In a 2008 interview with The Associated Press, Arthur said she was lucky to be discovered by TV after a long stage career, recalling with bemusement CBS executives asking about the new "girl."
"I was already 50 years old. I had done so much off-Broadway, on Broadway, but they said, `Who is that girl? Let's give her her own series,'" Arthur said.
"Maude" scored with television viewers immediately on its CBS debut in September 1972, and Arthur won an Emmy Award for the role in 1977.
The comedy flowed from Maude's efforts to cast off the traditional restraints that women faced, but the series often had a serious base. Her husband Walter (Bill Macy) became an alcoholic, and she underwent an abortion, which drew a torrent of viewer protests. Maude became a standard bearer for the growing feminist movement in America.
"She was an incredible actress and a woman I will miss, and I think everyone else will," said Bud Yorkin, producer of "Maude" with partner Lear.
The ratings of "Maude" in the early years approached those of its parent, "All in the Family," but by 1977 the audience started to dwindle. A major format change was planned, but in early 1978 Arthur announced she was quitting the show.
"It's been absolutely glorious; I've loved every minute of it," she said. "But it's been six years, and I think it's time to leave."
"Golden Girls" (1985-1992) was another groundbreaking comedy, finding surprising success in a television market increasingly skewed toward a younger, product-buying audience.
The series concerned three retirees _ Arthur, Betty White and Rue McClanahan _ and the mother of Arthur's character, Estelle Getty, who lived together in a Miami house. In contrast to the violent "Miami Vice," the comedy was nicknamed "Miami Nice."
As Dorothy Zbornak, Arthur seemed as caustic and domineering as Maude. She was unconcerned about the similarity of the two roles. "Look _ I'm 5-feet-9, I have a deep voice and I have a way with a line," she told an interviewer. "What can I do about it? I can't stay home waiting for something different. I think it's a total waste of energy worrying about typecasting."
The interplay among the four women and their relations with men fueled the comedy, and the show amassed a big audience and 10 Emmys, including two as best comedy series and individual awards for each of the stars.
McClanahan said Arthur felt constrained by the show during its later years and in 1992 she announced she was leaving "Golden Girls."
"Bea liked to be the star of the show, she didn't really like to do that ensemble playing," McClanahan said.
McClanahan first worked with Arthur on "Maude," playing her best friend, Vivian. The women quickly became close friends in real life. McClanahan recalled Arthur as a kind and caring person with a no-nonsense edge.
The three other stars returned in "The Golden Palace," but it lasted only one season.
Arthur was born Bernice Frankel in New York City in 1922. When she was 11, her family moved to Cambridge, Md., where her father opened a clothing store. At 12 she had grown to full height, and she dreamed of being a petite blond movie star like June Allyson. There was one advantage of being tall and deep-voiced: She was chosen for the male roles in school plays.
Bernice _ she hated the name and adopted her mother's nickname of Bea _ overcame shyness about her size by winning over her classmates with wisecracks. She was elected the wittiest girl in her class. After two years at a junior college in Virginia, she earned a degree as a medical lab technician, but she "loathed" doing lab work at a hospital.
Acting held more appeal, and she enrolled in a drama course at the New School of Social Research in New York City. To support herself, she sang in a night spot that required her to push drinks on customers.
During this time she had a brief marriage that provided her stage name of Beatrice Arthur. In 1950, she married again, to Broadway actor and future Tony-winning director Gene Saks.
After a few years in off-Broadway and stock company plays and television dramas, Arthur's career gathered momentum with her role as Lucy Brown in the 1955 production of "The Threepenny Opera."
In 2008, when Arthur was inducted in the TV Academy Hall of Fame, Arthur pointed to the role as the highlight of her long career.
"A lot of that had to do with the fact that I felt, `Ah, yes, I belong here,'" Arthur said.
More plays and musicals followed, and she also sang in nightclubs and played small roles in TV comedy shows.
Then, in 1964, Harold Prince cast her as Yente the Matchmaker in the original company of "Fiddler on the Roof."
Arthur's biggest Broadway triumph came in 1966 as Vera Charles, Angela Lansbury's acerbic friend in the musical "Mame," directed by Saks. Richard Watts of the New York Post called her performance "a portrait in acid of a savagely witty, cynical and serpent-tongued woman."
"She was a rare and unique performer and a dear, dear friend," Lansbury said in a statement.
Arthur won the Tony as best supporting actress and repeated the role in the unsuccessful film version that also was directed by Saks, starring Lucille Ball as Mame. Arthur would play a variation of Vera Charles in "Maude" and "The Golden Girls."
"There was no one else like Bea," said "Mame" composer Jerry Herman. "She would make us laugh during `Mame' rehearsals with a look or with a word. She didn't need dialogue. I don't know if I can say that about any other person I ever worked with."
In 1983, Arthur attempted another series, "Amanda's," an Americanized version of John Cleese's hilarious "Fawlty Towers." She was cast as owner of a small seaside hotel with a staff of eccentrics. It lasted a mere nine episodes.
Between series, Arthur remained active in films and theater. Among the movies: "That Kind of Woman" (1959), "Lovers and Other Strangers" (1970), Mel Brooks' "The History of the World: Part I" (1981), "For Better or Worse" (1995).
The plays included Woody Allen's "The Floating Light Bulb" and "The Bermuda Avenue Triangle," written by and costarring Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna. During 2001 and 2002 she toured the country in a one-woman show of songs and stories, "... And Then There's Bea."
Arthur and Saks divorced in 1978 after 28 years. They had two sons, Matthew and Daniel. In his long career, Saks won Tonys for "I Love My Wife," "Brighton Beach Memoirs" and "Biloxi Blues." One of his Tony nominations was for "Mame."
In 1999, Arthur told an interviewer of the three influences in her career: "Sid Caesar taught me the outrageous; (method acting guru) Lee Strasberg taught me what I call reality; and ('Threepenny Opera' star) Lotte Lenya, whom I adored, taught me economy."
In recent years, Arthur made guest appearances on shows including "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Malcolm in the Middle." She was chairwoman of the Art Attack Foundation, a nonprofit performing arts scholarship organization, and was an honorary director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Arthur is survived by her sons and two granddaughters. No funeral services are planned.
Associated Press Writer Bob Thomas in Los Angeles and AP Drama Writer Michael Kuchwara and AP Television Writer Frazier Moore in New York contributed to this report.
Friday, 24 April 2009
FRIDAY NIGHT BOY COOL #6
Jack Cardiff RIP
Top cinematographer key to the success of many Powell and Pressburger classics
The Guardian, Thursday 23 April 2009
As a cinematographer, Jack Cardiff, who has died aged 94, was known as "the man who makes women look beautiful". Some of the glamorous women whose beauty he accentuated through his lens were Ava Gardner (Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, The Barefoot Contessa), Audrey Hepburn and Anita Ekberg (War and Peace) and Marilyn Monroe (The Prince and the Showgirl). In fact, when Monroe was in London to shoot The Prince and the Showgirl with Laurence Olivier in 1956, she said of Cardiff: "He's the best cameraman in the world, and I've got him."
Cardiff was certainly one of the best colour cinematographers in the world, whose career in that capacity began with the emergence of Technicolor and continued through the golden (or rainbow) age of that process. As camera operator on Wings of the Morning (1937), Britain's first three-strip Technicolor film, he became a colour expert and photographed many travelogue shorts as well as being second unit cameraman on The Four Feathers (1939).
However, his greatest achievement was as the cinematographer on three of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's best films, A Matter of Life and Death (1946), Black Narcissus (1947), which won him an Oscar, and The Red Shoes (1948). Cardiff's dramatic use of colour played an essential part in the success of these films, if only for the splashes of red - the red rose in the first, the nun Deborah Kerr's hair seen in flashback in the second, and Moira Shearer's hair and shoes in the third. Cardiff's view was that a cameraman is "the man who paints the movie".
He kept meticulous notes on the stars. For example: "Watch Lollo's [Gina Lollobrigida] cheeks, and those lips. A false light and they will film badly." "Watch Ava's nose. It has a slight twist and a scar line." Ava, in turn, told Cardiff: "Jack, you must light me carefully when I'm having my period."
Cardiff - whose father was a professional footballer at Watford and then a music-hall comedian, and whose mother was a chorus girl - was born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, and entered British films as a child actor at the age of four. When he left school at 14, he became a gofer at Elstree studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, and continued as a camera assistant, working his way up to director of photography. He was with the Crown Film Unit of the ministry of information during the second world war, photographing dangerous war zones.
After the war, he was shooting panoramic seascapes for Albert Lewin's surreal Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951) in Spain, The African Queen (1951) in the Belgian Congo and The Barefoot Contessa (1954), for which he captured the sunny, hedonistic essence of the Spanish, Italian and French Riviera locations.
In 1958, Cardiff turned to directing, leaving the photography to others. The best of his decently directed pictures was Sons and Lovers (1960), for which Freddie Francis won an Oscar for his black-and-white CinemaScope photography. TEB Clarke's screenplay, much of the dialogue of which came from the DH Lawrence novel, and the performances, particularly those of Trevor Howard and Wendy Hiller, carried it along.
In the same year, Cardiff was in charge of a real stinker. Scent of Mystery used the Smell-O-Vision system by which more than 30 different smells, including garlic, oranges, perfume and coffee, were stored in vials which, on an audio cue on the soundtrack, would disperse throughout the theatre. It contained the first and only olfactory joke in all cinema: when Peter Lorre was drinking coffee, audiences got a whiff of brandy.
After taking two years to develop a script of James Joyce's Ulysses for Jerry Wald at Fox, and having it rejected, he took on The Lion (1962). It had some spectacular location photography (by Ted Scaife) of Mount Kenya and the flora and fauna of Africa, though the tug-of-love plot involving William Holden, Capucine, a young girl, and Zamba in the title role, was rather feeble.
More interesting than such action films as The Liquidator (1965) and The Mercenaries (1967) was The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968), which Cardiff both directed and photographed. Artily erotic, the plot followed Marianne Faithfull on a motorcycle ride from Alsace to Heidelberg to meet her lover, Alain Delon. As she nears his house, the motorcycle becomes more powerful, and she is killed in a crash.
Cardiff then decided to return to cinematography alone, explaining: "I lacked the guts and the bullshit necessary to make more films as director ... I used to get what I wanted more often than not, but I didn't have enough ego to demand it." Again in exotic climes, he showed his versatility as director of photography in Death on the Nile (1978), Conan the Destroyer (1984) and Rambo First Blood Part II (1985) - a long way from the glory days of Powell and Pressburger.
In the late 1980s, Cardiff, who had lived for a while in a mountain retreat in Switzerland, retired to a house in Saffron Walden, Essex, with his third wife, the script consultant Niki O'Donahue. In 1994, he was honoured by the Los Angeles Society of Cinematographers with its international award for outstanding achievement; in 2000 he was appointed OBE and in 2001 he was awarded an honorary Oscar for his contribution to the cinema - not bad for someone who claimed never to have understood the techniques of the camera.
He is survived by Niki and by four sons.
• Jack Cardiff, film director and cinemat-ographer, born 18 September 1914; died 22 April 2009
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk at 00.01 BST on Thursday 23 April 2009.
Thursday, 23 April 2009
The Classic Film Show
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
Revolution in the Air - The Songs of Bob Dylan
Because you demanded it: Terry's review - the FIRST one in print anywhere - of Clinton Heylin's new book, to be found in the latest edition of The Bridge (Spring 2009, No.33). What's The Bridge? Check our Links for the Curious...
POURIN' OFF OF EVERY PAGE: Clinton Heylin revisits the Dylan songbook
By Terry Kelly
Reviewing his definitive Dylan biography, 'Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades - Take Two (Viking, 2000), back in issue 8 of The Bridge, I called Clinton Heylin "feisty, spiky...a scrapper par excellence, the critical 'Dirty Harry' of the Dylan world, possessing more opinions than Hydra had heads." Unfair? Perhaps, perhaps not. Heylin's famous or infamous critical feistiness is again on display in his latest Dylan study. After a decade-long hiatus, Heylin has returned to the fray with Revolution In The Air - The Songs of Bob Dylan, Vol. 1: 1957-73 (Constable, London, 2009, £20). Ten years on, the text is still peppered with eruptions of critical impatience - with many commentators dubbed as the "chronically misinformed, the mercenary, and the magpie - " while other jabs are directed at such fellow Dylan scribes as the Michaels - Gray and Krogsgaard - plus leading literary scholar Christopher Ricks. While much of Heylin's Dylan criticism is distinguished by some sort of prickly, deep-rooted, often baffling animus for any other writer with the temerity to discuss His Bobness, I suspect his streetfighter literary persona is an essential component of his critical style. It's simply part of the man. Without it, perhaps Heylin wouldn't seem so passionate or committed to the work of Bob Dylan. We can't have one Clinton without the other. And he knows his stuff, which means the sparks really fly when he brings his considerable knowledge to bear on his Dylan dialectics. All of this is a long prelude to saying that Heylin's latest book is arguably his finest Dylan study to date. When the two-volume work is completed and published next year, it will have seen Heylin delving into the chronological and compositional history of some 600 Dylan songs. Volume one covers the years 1957 to 1973, stretching from Song To Brigit (dedicated to the sultry French actress and possibly Dylan's first song), to Wedding Song from Planet Waves. Running to more than 480 pages, this lovingly detailed book tracks and traces each original Dylan composition, detailing publication, studio recordings and first known performance. But this is no dry academic exercise, but rather a template for exploring, in a Wordsworthian sense, the Growth of a Poet's Mind. Heylin's overarching ambition is "to tell the stories behind those songs not from the outer realms of speculation, but from the centrality that is their compositional history." (My italics).Throughout the first volume, Heylin's critical focus remains fixed on Dylan's songs, as he seeks to provide what he calls "an authoritative history of the most multifaceted canon in twentieth-century popular song." And focussing on each individual song enables Heylin to chart the changes in Dylan's writing style in illuminating and specific detail, such as this critical thumbnail sketch of A Hain Rain's A-Gonna Fall: "Such a freewheeling verse structure was not something he acquired from either Woody Guthrie or Robert Johnson. It smacked more of Ginsberg's Howl or the speed-rapping of Kerouac - and it transformed Dylan into a folk modernist." But unlike some Dylan commentators, Heylin never treats Dylan with critical kid gloves. We therefore have a damning dissection of the untruths Dylan pedalled in Hattie Carroll ("By snapping the truth into little pieces, he proved himself a masterful poet but a lousy historian") and an equally strident critique of the the cherished Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands, which Heylin calls "a thirteen-minute one-trick pony of a song...and possibly the most pretentious set of lyrics the man ever penned," while admitting it is also "a captivating carousel of a performance." But Heylin can be equally insightful while hymning Dylan's songwriting genius, as in his minutely detailed examination of Visions of Johanna (which he considers "Dylan's finest work/song"). Over six pages, Heylin traces the genesis of the song, placing it in a biographical and creative context, while exploring the studio development of the song, from New York in November, 1965, to its final and arguably definitive incarnation in Studio A, Nashville, on February 14, 1966. Pinpointing the nature of Dylan's achievement, Heylin comments that "the real triumph on Visions is the way Dylan manages to write about the most inchoate feelings in such a vivid, immediate way." Heylin's exploration of The Basement Tapes is another delight. One feature of the book is the exploration of songs which either only exist in manuscript form, or remain simply audio rumours. And since The Basement Tapes are wrapped up in more myths than ancient Greece, Heylin rightly touches on those songs from Big Pink and elsewhere which remain mere rumours, such as You Can Change Your Name, Wild Wolf, Better Have It All and You Own A Racehorse. Drawing on lyrics first published in The Telegraph (which, as Heylin explains, may only be a fragment), he rhapsodizes over I'm Not There's slippery, mysterious qualities: "I believe Dylan to be simply in the zone, flying the flag of a wild fancy, improvising on the spot." (This is akin to Seamus Heaney's definition of certain poetry as "erotic mouth music"). The book is highly quotable throughout and I was delighted to hear my favourite Dylan collection, John Wesley Harding, described as "his most perfectly realised album." While some will find much to argue with or even rail against, I think the majority of serious Dylan fans will love this book. (In conversation, Clinton told me: "If people read my book and go back and listen to the music, I know I've done my job"). My hunch is that this will become Clinton Heylin's most highly regarded book to date. Argumentative and authoritative, passionate and picky, but unfailingly insightful, Revolution In The Air is one of the most significant books published about Bob Dylan. And I can't wait for next year's volume two, Still On The Road - The Songs of Bob Dylan 1974-2006, in which Heylin promises to delve into Dylan's "little red notebook," which he mined for Blood On The Tracks.
Happy Birthday, Paul
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
Clinton Heylin on the songs of Bobby Dylan
In lieu of Terry's review (and we're still waiting for his piece on Jackson Browne...), I suppose we'll have to fall back on one from The Sunday Times - that's The London Sunday Times for all our Transatlantic readers out there:
The Sunday TimesApril 19, 2009
Seeing yet another side of Bob Dylan
New Clinton Heylin chronology of the legendary singer/songwriter traces creative process that revolutionised rock music
Bob Dylan fans are in for a treat. The man’s new album, Together Through Life, will be released on April 27. Before that, Dylan begins the latest instalment of the Never-Ending Tour at Sheffield Arena on Friday; and Thursday sees the publication of Revolution in the Air, a new book by the man The New York Times described as “the only Dylanologist worth reading”, Clinton Heylin. Certainly, Heylin, who previously wrote the Dylan biography Behind the Shades, seems to have little time for other Dylanologists, or would-be Dylanologists. In the introduction to Revolution in the Air, he muses that he is “providing yet another invaluable resource for the congenitally lazy breed of ‘rock critic’ to cherry-pick for this month’s Why Dylan Matters feature”.
So, when I met Heylin recently, I thought we should start from the assumption that of course Dylan matters, and that we really don’t need reminding why he matters; and instead we should concentrate on what, if anything, the Dylan fan might glean from yet another book on the man. Refreshingly, Revolution in the Air isn’t about Why Dylan Matters, nor is it about What Dylan Means: it is, essentially, What Bob Did Next — a chronological journey through his songs, taken one at a time in the order they were written. The simple mathematics of Dylan’s output appear to be smiling on this venture, as the 600 songs in the man’s catalogue (this doesn’t include the new album) are split evenly into two volumes of 300 each, with the first volume taking us from the earliest attempt at a song (1957’s Song for Brigit — apparently written for Brigitte Bardot) through to Wedding Song, the last track written for Planet Waves, while Volume 2 will spring into life with Dylan’s most-loved creative rebirth, Blood on the Tracks.
One of the great advantages of Heylin’s approach is that it really brings into focus the extraordinary period from spring 1962 through to the summer of 1965 when Dylan was completely reinventing himself, pop music and the wider popular culture on a regular basis. The landmark songs of this period — Blowin’ in the Wind, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, Mr Tambourine Man and Like a Rolling Stone — each kick off a new level of songwriting; but Dylan is moving so fast at this point that he is effectively writing one kind of song while still recording the previous kind, and in live performance singing the generation before. What Heylin’s approach makes clear is that, even while many in his audience thought he was moving way too fast for them, he was actually slamming on the brakes, playing what he must already have considered “the old stuff”. This also helps to explain the sheer sense of release when he finally does get up on stage with the Hawks and plugs in his electric guitar; no wonder he doesn’t let a few boos stop him — this stuff has been building up inside of him for months.
Placing the songs in the order they were written also reveals some extraordinary decisions. Dylan had actually written Mr Tambourine Man before he went into the studio to make his fourth album, but chose not to release it, instead putting out Another Side of Bob Dylan, a (relatively) simple collection of (mainly) love songs, and keeping this astonishing leap forward for album five. It’s become traditional to think of the mid-1960s as a kind of songwriting competition between Dylan, the Beatles and Brian Wilson. How galling for the other contenders in this competition to find out that Dylan was sometimes keeping his best players on the bench and fielding a weakened team. “You think Chimes of Freedom is a great song?” Dylan must have been laughing to himself. “You have no idea.”
Not every page is revelatory, as Heylin admits: “You can overstate the importance of chronological order. But what surprises me is that nobody had attempted to do this before.” The vastness of the task may be one explanation, but Heylin says his main problems in dating songs came only with those written after 1990 — a mere 60 out of the 600. “To be honest, after 1990, it becomes almost impossible to organise the material in this way, but it also becomes less important because, for the first time ever, Dylan starts to repeat himself,” Heylin says. “Prior to Love and Theft, Dylan never repeated himself. Whether they were good, bad or indifferent, his albums always represented something new.” But Heylin considers Love and Theft to be essentially Time Out of Mind Volume 2, and adds: “Everything I’ve heard of the new album tells me it’s Time Out of Mind Volume 4. He’s making the same album. I’m not necessarily criticising him. But it means that what I’m doing with these books becomes less interesting.”
Heylin believes the reason why Dylan is sticking with essentially the same template lies in the long, seven-year gap between Under the Red Sky and Time Out of Mind, a period in which Dylan appeared to have run out of ideas: “I think that when he made Time Out of Mind, it had taken him so long to take that step that he made a decision. ‘I’ve got two choices: I can wait perhaps another seven years for lightning to strike again, or I’m just going to mine this seam till it’s done.’ ”
Together Through Life does closely follow the pattern of Dylan’s previous three albums, but he freshens up the sound cleverly by bringing in the Los Lobos accordion player David Hidalgo, who features on every track, thus giving the album a discrete sonic identity, much as Scarlet Rivera’s violin did on Desire. Mike Campbell, guitarist with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (who backed Dylan in the 1980s), is also on the album, which is produced by Dylan himself (using his Jack Frost pseudonym). Intriguingly, online Dylanologists have already unearthed several lyrical borrowings from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (the David Wright translation) among the new album’s songs. My Wife’s Home Town contains the line “I’m pretty sure she’ll make me kill someone”, which appears in The Prologue of The Monk’s Tale; Forgetful Heart includes the line “Nothing shocks me more than that old clown”, which also appears in The Summoner’s Tale; while the refrain from I Feel a Change Coming On, “and the fourth part of the day is already gone”, turns up in The Sergeant- at-Law’s Tale. But Dylan is more than capable of writing a fine couplet without leaning on Chaucer. My favourite comes from My Wife’s Home Town: “Well, there’s reasons for that and reasons for this / I can’t think of any just now, but I know they exist.”
Dylan has always borrowed words and phrases, and in his early days he co-opted the tunes of old folk songs on a regular basis to provide the framework for his new lyrics. Blowin’ in the Wind, for example, adapts the tune of an old spiritual, No More Auction Block. But despite leaning on the past, the song sparked off a whole new direction in Dylan’s career — one that he was far from happy with. Again, Heylin’s approach, taking us back to when the song was written, gives a clearer focus. Only a week after writing Blowin’ in the Wind, Dylan had already begun introducing it with the defensive line “This here ain’t a protest song or anything like that”. Remarkably, within a few days of its genesis, long before it had been recorded, when only a handful of New York fans could have heard it, the song had already landed the young Dylan with a new problem, one that was to plague him for decades — people asking him “What does it mean?” — and he was already backing away from being anybody’s spokesman.
Things have changed, however. In a recent interview with the music journalist Bill Flanagan, Dylan said: “I see that my audience now . . .feel style and substance in a more visceral way and let it go at that. Images don’t hang anybody up. Like if there’s an astrologer with a criminal record in one of my songs, it’s not going to make anybody wonder if the human race is doomed. Images are taken at face value and it kind of freed me up . . .If there are shadows and flowers and swampy ledges in a composition, that’s what they are in essence. There’s no mystification . . . All those things are what they are.”
And perhaps that’s another reason why Dylan is sticking with the style he developed on Time Out of Mind; because he has finally won back what he lost way back in 1962 — the right to just be a songwriter, not a spokesman. We still listen carefully to what he says, but, these days, it’s not because we think he knows some big secret that we don’t; it’s because, even if he’s only saying what we’re all thinking, he just says it better.
Revolution in the Air: The Songs of Bob Dylan, Volume 1 1957-1973 is published by Constable on April 23
Monday, 20 April 2009
J. G. Ballard RIP
Cult author JG Ballard dies at 78
The author JG Ballard, famed for novels such as Crash and Empire of the Sun, has died aged 78 after a long illness.
His agent Margaret Hanbury said the author had been ill "for several years" and had died on Sunday morning.
Despite being referred to as a science fiction writer, Jim Ballard said his books were instead "picturing the psychology of the future".
His most acclaimed novel was Empire of the Sun, based on his childhood in a Japanese prison camp in China.
The author of 15 novels and scores of short stories, Ballard grew up amongst the expatriate community in Shanghai.
During World War II, at the age of 12, he was interned for three years in a camp run by the Japanese.
He later moved to Britain and in the early 1960s became a full-time writer.
Ballard built up a passionate readership, particularly after Empire of The Sun, a fictionalised account of his childhood, was made into a film by Steven Spielberg.
He said of his experiences: "I have - I won't say happy - not unpleasant memories of the camp. I remember a lot of the casual brutality and beatings-up that went on, but at the same time we children were playing a hundred and one games all the time!"
His friend and fellow author, Iain Sinclair, said Ballard had developed into a major literary figure.
"He was one of the first to take up the whole idea of ecological catastrophe. He was fascinated by celebrity early on, the cult of the star and suicides of cars, motorways, edgelands of cities.
"All of these things he was one of the first to create almost a philosophy of. And I think as time has gone on, he's become a major, major figure."
Director David Cronenberg brought Ballard's infamous book about the sexual desires stimulated by car crashes to the screen in the film Crash.
The film caused a media stir, adding to Ballard's reputation for courting controversy.
In later years he wrote other acclaimed novels such as Super-Cannes and Millennium People.
Hephzibah Anderson, former fiction editor at the Daily Mail and books columnist for the Observer, said Ballard's work had anticipated life as it was now.
"If you look at the start of his career, he began writing science fiction stories and we was regarded as very avant garde.
"And there was a kind of violence lurking beneath the texture of these novels. And they've come to seem less and less futuristic and you know it's as if we're embodying, we're living in now a kind of Ballardian world."
Story from BBC NEWS:
Sunday, 19 April 2009
Saturday, 18 April 2009
Why is Da NEVER happy? (Or his sidekick)
ALEX IN TOONLAND
Pat the Surrealist Poet
Well, let me put my hands up and admit straight away that I forgot to invite you to Alvinos last night. To be honest, I didn't think we'd get there and when we did, we ended up in conversation with the future leader of the Lib Dems, which would've been a downer for you since your husband leans a little further to the right. Anyway, we should be back in action in two weeks following a break for Bob Dylan. Bring your guitar - and if you've learned a track or two off the new album, all the better to serenade us with. It'll be like some great French Nouvelle Vague film: Terry et Grahame et Paul et Ian et Dave et Jim.
PAT TURNS SURREAL
I mean, like he didn't know this would happen... What did he expect on this 'pilgrimage'? "Come on in, Mr Leonard; pull up a pew and have a brew and let me tell you about these great novels I've been working on for the last God-only-knows-how-many-years. Better than that, I'll actually show you the manuscripts; in fact, it's your lucky day: I'll write a chapter or two before your very eyes. Would you like to poke my wife while you're here?"
Is it just me, or is this a rather loose definition of the word 'pilgrimage'? Leave the guy alone for Christ's sake; he's 90; he doesn't owe you anything and he's not a war criminal.
And then The Guardian does its own smug, sneering column on Leonard's failure in that, "We're not like that, but let's report it anyway..." manner that they usually reserve for stories about Jade Goody.
Anyhow, judge for yourself as to what The Spectator or Leonard or The Guardian were playing at.
The Spectator Wednesday, 1st April 2009
Tom Leonard makes a pilgrimage to Cornish, New Hampshire, where the 90-year-old author of The Catcher in the Rye leads a reclusive existence with his third wife.
J.D. Salinger is in the kitchen when I turn the corner of his farmhouse, his reported deafness probably explaining why he doesn’t hear me until I am a few feet from him and ringing the doorbell. His wife correctly guesses the identity of the caller and, apprised of the information out of my hearing, the author shouts something that sounds like ‘Oh, no!’
It may be succinct but it is the most he has said to the media for years. A tall but stooped figure in a blue tanktop, Salinger won’t even look at me as he sidles crab-like out of his small kitchen with his back to the window. His wife soon appears at the same window and opens it to talk, but the great man — who was 90 in January — has gone. Time may soften many things, but Salinger’s complete disengagement from public life sadly isn’t one of them.
The recluse’s recluse, Salinger has lived in seclusion in the small rural community of Cornish, in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, for more than 50 years. After writing The Catcher in the Rye in 1951 — his generation-shaping masterpiece about teenage angst and rebellion — he published only a few collections of short stories. A short piece of fiction for the New Yorker in 1965 was his last published work. He hasn’t spoken to the media since the early 1950s, breaking his Trappist silence only once in 1974 for a brief phone conversation with a New York Times journalist in which he said there was ‘a marvellous peace in not publishing... I write just for myself and my own pleasure.’ He added: ‘I’m known as a strange, aloof kind of man. But all I’m doing is trying to protect myself and my work.’
There are, of course, few better ways of bolstering one’s own mythology than by hiding away, and Salinger’s silence — compounded by the continuing popularity of his novel, still reportedly selling 250,000 copies a year — has fuelled intense speculation about what he has been up to for 40 years. One theory, supported by a former girlfriend, is that he has been writing feverishly. She said she saw shelves loaded with notebooks and two completed novels. Some say there are 15 manuscripts locked away in a safe.
Reporters have traipsed up to Cornish many times but they’ve usually found the 1,600-strong community as uncooperative about Salinger as he is himself. But that code of silence is clearly disintegrating as many neighbours were more than happy to supply me with their own anecdotes and theories about the local celebrity everyone refers to as ‘JD’.
Salinger’s unnumbered home off a remote hillside road is no longer so hard to find in the age of sat-nav and internet address searches. But there was a time when those who knew where he lived didn’t even let on to their neighbours, said Janice Orion, a retired British schoolteacher who moved there in 1989.
‘I guess he asked them not to. When I moved here and asked where he lived, I was met with a blank stare,’ she said. ‘I was told “Oh, we don’t talk about him”, which I thought was a bit odd.’ Her friend, Beth Lum, added, ‘Not talking about him is a Cornish ritual. Someone asks you where he lives and you point vaguely in the wrong direction.’
Mrs Orion said she had seen him only the day before in the local co-operative supermarket, leaning heavily on a trolley as he shopped with his wife. Her only exchange with him was in the 1990s when she accidentally dropped a homemade loaf of bread at his feet when he came to his gate. ‘I can’t remember what he said but he was very irritated,’ she said.
Locals concur that Salinger is seen out far more infrequently than in the past. Apart from the supermarket, he and his wife occasionally go to a local café in Windsor, the nearest town, for coffee and a sandwich (‘he likes the spinach and mushroom wraps’, said the manager), and a restaurant there. As for socialising, the only events he has attended regularly for years are the monthly turkey dinners at the little Universalist Unitarian church ten miles away in the town of Hartland.
Salinger has experimented with many religions over the years, including Zen Buddhism. Unitarianism, which welcomes all religions, seems an obvious home for him. ‘Nobody is supposed to acknowledge that he’s there. You just treat him like he’s just another normal person,’ said Kay Cavendish, a churchgoer who attends the dinners.
The rule is that if you have to talk to him, make sure you never acknowledge that he is famous, said Robert Dean, who runs a smart Windsor B&B. ‘If you see him, you know not to talk to him unless he talks to you. He’s not one for chitchat,’ he said.
While the locals stress that JD is respected rather than liked, nobody has a bad word to say for his wife. Colleen O’Neill, 40 years Salinger’s junior, is his third wife and was one of the many young women with whom he has corresponded over the years.
As if making up for her husband, she is said to be friendly and a pillar of the community, a painter who runs a quilt-making group, set up a local online noticeboard and runs a food stand at the annual charity fun run.
The big question — what has he been doing all these years, and specifically, has he been writing? — remains unanswered in Cornish. ‘The truth is nobody really knows him apart from his wife,’ said Mr Dean.
He said that a couple of summers ago, an Irish student and Salinger devotee stayed at his B&B and announced his intention to go and talk to his literary hero. Mr Dean said he was amazed when the student returned to say he had found Salinger in his garden and been invited indoors for a three-hour chat about books. It showed that being reclusive didn’t mean the writer had to be heartless, he said, though others doubted the story. ‘I would be stunned if that were true. That’s not [Salinger’s] style at all,’ said a local police officer.
At the Railway Station restaurant in Windsor, another occasional Salinger haunt, a waitress said that when she last served him, everything had to be written down on a wipe board he brought with him because — she concluded — he was so deaf.
She recounted how her mother-in-law had told her that, as a teenager in Cornish in the 1950s, she and other local high-school pupils would be invited to Salinger’s house once a week so that — everyone presumed for the purposes of his writing — he could watch teenagers interact. ‘He doesn’t interact with us much now,’ she said.
Me neither. Moments after he disappeared from the kitchen, his wife — an attractive woman with perfect teeth and a blonde bob — opened the window to get rid of me on his behalf. We chatted briefly. She knew, for instance — presumably from the local police chief, whom I had had to call out — that I had got stuck in the snow on their road the previous night.
‘I’m so sorry you’ve come so far but, as you will know, my husband is someone who values his privacy,’ she said, all smiles. ‘I must ask you to leave now.’ The window is closed. The man who stopped talking to the world more than 50 years ago doesn’t intend to start now.
Copyright ©2009 by The Spectator
Don't think you'll get the Pulitzer for that one, Tom...
Friday, 17 April 2009
Leonard's Your Man...
Leonard Cohen: singer, poet, artist, Buddhist monk, lady's man... and now soothsayer too, as this priceless example of fine journalism (surely the second oldest profession) from the LA Weekly proves beyond reasonable doubt.
Phil Spector’s Deadly Ways: Does Leonard Cohen’s Death of a Ladies' Man Foresee Lana Clarkson’s Murder?
By Randall Roberts
Published on April 16, 2009 at 9:35am
As we prepared for this month’s “Leonard Cohen Week,” which concludes with Friday’s twilight performance at Coachella, one of Cohen’s most notorious and fascinating albums, Death of a Ladies’ Man, got stuck in our mind.
Much has been written about Cohen and his classic songs over the years, but little of it has been dedicated to the stormy and failed 1977 collaboration the singer, songwriter and poet had with producer/murderer Phil Spector. The push/pull between the two strong-headed auteurs has become the stuff of Hollywood legend. Cohen and Spector’s method of teamwork reportedly involved an armed and volatile Spector locking lyricist Cohen out of the studio while the producer crafted the music.
The result, Death of a Ladies’ Man, is a wonderfully uneven eight-song album, which, in hindsight, could be seen as a portent of Spector’s woes. Titles include: “True Love Leaves No Traces,” “Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On” and “Fingerprints,” all key themes in the Spector murder trial. Had he paid closer attention to Cohen’s refrain for “Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On,” Spector may have avoided a whole heap of trouble. Sings Cohen (with Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg on backing vocals): “Don’t go home with your hard-on/It will only drive you insane/You can’t shake it (or break it) with your Motown/You can’t melt it down in the rain.”
The more we dug, the more evidence surfaced that maybe this Cohen guy was on to something, like he had some sort of premonition. Herewith, lyrical tidbits that, compiled below, are somewhat revealing.
Track listing, Leonard Cohen’s Death of a Ladies’ Man:
1. “True Love Leaves No Traces” (4:26)
2. “Iodine” (5:03)
3. “Paper Thin Hotel” (5:42)
4. “Memories” (5:59)
5. “I Left a Woman Waiting” (3:28)
6. “Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On” (5:36)
7. “Fingerprints” (2:58)
8. “Death of a Ladies’ Man” (9:19)
Item 1. Spector meets Clarkson at House of Blues in West Hollywood, where she is a waitress:
I walked up to the tallest and the blondest girl
I said, Look, you don’t know me now but very soon you will
So won’t you let me see
I said won’t you let me see
I said won’t you let me see
your naked body?
He invites her over to his place after she gets off work. She agrees:
She took his much-admired oriental frame of mind
and the heart-of-darkness alibi his money hides behind
She took his blonde madonna and his monastery wine —
“This mental space is occupied and everything is mine.”
Item 2. They arrive at Spector’s Alhambra mansion. They get to know each other. He, a producer past his prime; she, an actress who had to work at House of Blues to pay the rent:
She said, I see your eyes are dead
What happened to you, lover?
What happened to you, my lover?
What happened to you, lover?
What happened to you?
And since she spoke the truth to me
I tried to answer truthfully
Whatever happened to my eyes
happened to your beauty
—from “I Left a Woman Waiting”
Item 3. Spector, a legendary ladies’ man, and strong with manly desire, admires the blonde Clarkson. She, however, is not so sure. This is understandably frustrating to the producer:
Ah but don’t go home with your hard-on
It will only drive you insane
You can’t shake it (or break it) with your Motown
You can’t melt it down in the rain
—from “Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On”
Item 4. Enter a gun. Who knows how it got there? An alleged struggle:
Your beauty on my bruise like iodine
I asked you if a man could be forgiven
And though I failed at love, was this a crime?
You said, Don’t worry, don’t worry, darling
You said, Don’t worry, don’t you worry, darling
There are many ways a man can serve his time
Item 5. Serve time? What are you talking about, serve time? A gunshot. Who pulled the trigger? Where is the evidence? Why aren’t Spector’s prints on the gun?
I called my fingerprints all night
But they don’t seem to care
The last time that I saw them
they were leafing through your hair
Where are you now my fingerprints?
Item 6. Call an ambulance! There’s been an incident at the Spector mansion! Too late. It’s over.
And many nights endure
without a moon or star
So we will endure
when one is gone and far
—from “True Love Leaves No Traces”
True love may not leave traces, but sometimes history does.
Thursday, 16 April 2009
We're toasting the youthful, beautiful, but effeminate god of wine this Friday (yep, Da) at The Bacchus, in High Bridge. Also known as Dionysus, the baby deity was saved from the flames by Zeus, who sewed him up in his thigh (another Da reference). Jimmy Henderson has promised to stroll into The Bacchus at 8.30pm precisely, his naked torso smeared in the after-birth of a gazelle and smoking a cheroot composed of £50 notes. Pelaw Jim will unveil his newly illustrated genitalia, Big Dave has a steel-enforced gusset in his Y-fronts and Paul will be pleasant. Grahame, however, may not appear, due to an over-indulgence in the snuff department, brought on by the demise of his fortnight's school holiday.
See ya there!
Friday Night Boy (and his leading ladies) Cool #5
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
1950s Coffee Ad...
Tuesday, 14 April 2009
I don't fancy yours, pal...
Carla couldn't make it to Alvinos on Friday night because of a more pressing engagement. Actually, neither we could we, but we're sure we'll hook up in the future and maybe Jim could reprise his Bob Mitchum. Once seen: never forgotten.
Women in Music #8
Phil Spector guilty...
Be My Baby - or else!
Spector Guilty Of Murdering Lana Clarkson
Tuesday, April 14 08:22 am
Music producer Phil Spector has been convicted of murdering actress Lana Clarkson, following his retrial. The 40-year-old died of a gunshot fired into her mouth while she was sitting in the foyer of Spector's hill-top mansion in 2003.
The jury in the retrial at Los Angeles Superior Court was unanimous in its verdict of second degree murder, as required by Californian law.
In Spector's first trial, jurors deadlocked 10-2 with the majority favouring conviction.
Spector's young wife, Rachelle, sobbed as the decision was announced.
Ms Clarkson, 40, had starred in the 1985 cult film Barbarian Queen. She met Spector, only hours before her death, while working as a nightclub hostess.
Prosecutors argued Spector had a history of threatening women with guns when they tried to leave his presence.
The defence claimed she killed herself.
After the verdict was returned, Judge Larry Paul Fidler decided to remand Spector in custody and set a sentencing date for May 29.
The judge said: "In Mr Spector's favour is the fact he has made all his appearances throughout the two trials."
But he said his conviction and history of violence weighed against that, adding: "Public protection and public safety are paramount."
Ms Clarkson's family thanked the jurors and prosecutors, and accused Spector's defence team of "trashing" the victim.
"We are pleased that the jury has rejected the distortion and trashing of Lana Clarkson's life by the defence in this trial, the last trial and the past six plus years," the family said in a statement.
"There is no joy today. This is tragic, but actions have consequences."
The Clarkson family will now pursue a civil trial against Spector, which could see them awarded tens of millions of dollars in damages if successful.
Prosecutor Alan Jackson painted a picture of Spector as a gun-crazed eccentric with a "history of violence" toward women who tried to leave him.
Five female acquaintances testified that Spector had threatened them at gunpoint in incidents dating back to the 1970s.
In his closing argument last month, Mr Jackson said Spector had repeatedly pulled guns on women who wouldn't go to bed with him.
He told jurors: "February 3, 2003, Lana Clarkson - a woman, alcohol, a loss of control - and Phillip reaches for a gun. Pow! Lana Clarkson got the bullet. It's as simple as that."
Sunday, 12 April 2009
And the Oscar goes to...
Saturday, 11 April 2009
Summer Love Songs
The latest Capitol Beach Boys' archive release is titled with their usual lack of imagination, Summer Love Songs, following the discovery of a number of master tapes from the Shut Down Volume II sessions.
Here's the press release:
"To Be Released May 19 By Capitol/EMI. Hollywood, California
April 6, 2009 – The Beach Boys have long been the world’s leading, harmonious voice of summer fun, with an ocean’s swell of universally-loved songs about the beach, surfing, hot rods, and in no small measure, girls and sun-kissed romance. 20 of The Beach Boys’ best love songs, from tender ballads to boisterous romps, have been gathered for Summer Love Songs, a new 20-track CD and digital collection to be released May 19 (May 18 internationally) by Capitol/EMI. Three classic tracks have been mixed in stereo for the first time, exclusively for this release, and three others have received new stereo mixes. Two of the new stereo mixes have been created from long lost, newly-recovered analog multi-track masters. A rare track, previously unreleased in the U.S. and long out-of-print in the U.K., is also included. The Beach Boys’ romantic ballads, including “God Only Knows,” “Please Let Me Wonder,” and “Don’t Worry, Baby,” and their playful, high-energy love songs, including “California Girls” and “Good To My Baby,” come together as the perfect soundtrack to romantic fun in the sun on Summer Love Songs. Evocative of time and place for all who hear them, these classics continue to warm hearts around the world. Two of Summer Love Songs’ new stereo mixes, for “Don’t Worry, Baby” and “Why Do Fools Fall In Love,” have been created from newly-recovered analog multi-track masters that went missing from the Western Recorders studio in Los Angeles after they were first recorded in the mid-1960s. These original 3-track analog masters were recently recovered by The Beach Boys and Capitol/EMI for the first time since they were used for the band’s Shut Down, Vol. 2 album in 1964. The collection’s four other tracks with new stereo mixes are “Hushabye,” “I’m So Young,” “Good To My Baby,” and “Time To Get Alone.” Summer Love Songs also includes “Fallin’ In Love,” a song written and recorded by Dennis Wilson during the Beach Boys’ Sunflower album sessions in 1970. The track has never before been released in the U.S. and has long been out-of-print in the U.K. (where it was released as “Lady”). This track has also been mixed in stereo for the first time."
THE BEACH BOYS: Summer Love Songs (CD, digital)
1. Why Do Fools Fall In Love [new stereo mix from newly recovered analog multi-track master]
2. Don’t Worry, Baby [new stereo mix from newly recovered analog multi-track master]
3. Wouldn't It Be Nice
4. God Only Knows
5. Surfer Girl
6. California Girls
7. Please Let Me Wonder
8. In The Parkin' Lot
9. Your Summer Dream
10. Kiss Me, Baby
11. Hushabye [new stereo mix]
12. I'm So Young [new stereo mix]
13. Good To My Baby [new stereo mix]
14. Fallin' In Love [previously unreleased track, written and recorded by Dennis Wilson]
15. Time To Get Alone [new stereo mix]
16. Our Sweet Love
17. Help Me, Rhonda
18. Keep An Eye On Summer
19. Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)
20. Girls On The Beach
Notice the solid and by now time-worn marketing tactic of including a handful of well-known classics as well as some more obscure stuff. After all the postive reaction to the re-release of Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue, notice also the presence of his Fallin' in Love/Lady, until now only officially available on CD on a Super Furry Animals' selection of songs they like, Under The Influence(2005), and not available on vinyl since its original release as DW/Rumbo (Rumbo = Daryl Dragon = Captain Keyboards = the Captain in the Captain and Tenille) single in 1970, with the exception of its appearance on the hastily withdrawn Australian Brian Wilson Rarities LP in 1981.
This is the story behind the rediscovered master tapes:
"BEACH BOYS MASTER TAPES RETURNED AFTER 45 YEARS
by Howie Edelson
The new Beach Boys collection due out on May 19th, called Summer Love Songs, was made possible by a longtime fan coming forth with previously unknown session tapes for such classics as "Don't Worry Baby," "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" and others. The reels -- which contained the discarded multi-tracks from the Beach Boys' 1964 Shut Down Vol. II album -- enabled the group's production team to create the first true stereo mixes for some of the Beach Boys' most beloved tracks.
After the success of the reissue of Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue album, Wilson's biographer Jon Stebbins told us that an article in a Northern California newspaper about his work on the project led to the long lost Beach Boys tapes: ["The article was published in the local entertainment weekly and I got an email subsequently from a singer-songwriter named Lance Robison who lives here on the central coast, and he said that he had some Beach Boys tapes that I might be interested in. I hear that thing a lot in my line of business. But, anyway, I emailed him back and asked him a few pertinent questions about it. And his response to my initial email was pretty astounding."]
Stebbins admits that he was speechless at his first sight of the 45-year-old master tapes: ["He pulled out three tape boxes, and they were original multi-track masters from the Beach Boys' Shut Down Vol. II album. I also knew that the Beach Boys had been missing the master tape -- the multi-track masters. So whereas before, all you had was a 'left' and a 'right' two tracks for a stereo mix; now you could turn it into, y'know, 6, 8, 10 tracks (and) spread it across the spectrum. So, true stereo mixes of these things."]
From there Stebbins brought the tapes directly to the Beach Boys' official archivist, Alan Boyd. Boyd, who has spent years cataloging the band's session masters and live tapes, had never thought these multi-tracks had survived. Prior to 1965, it was not Capitol Records' standard policy to have artists deliver session tapes along with the finished masters to the label. It's not that the tapes were thought to be "missing" or "lost" -- they were never expected to still exist.
Alan Boyd recalls hearing the session tapes as being an incredible personal and professional moment: ["I have been somewhat fanatical about this music since I was about five years old. Y'know, I may have found my way into this job as some deep-seated desire to figure out what made this music tick. It never gets old. When you find something like this for the first time and you really get to hear the creative process, and the boys are getting comfortable with the song and working their way through it. Uh, no, it was a definite 'Whoa, hands are shaking' kind of thing."]
The missing master tapes enabled Boyd and engineer Mark Linnett to make the first true stereo mixes for "Don't Worry Baby" and "Why Do Fools Fall In Love," both of which lead off the upcoming release.
Jon Stebbins wrote the groundbreaking books Dennis Wilson: The Real Beach Boy and the David Marks biography The Lost Beach Boy.
Alan Boyd directed the Beach Boys' 1998 official documentary, Endless Harmony."
Cliched, not to say shitty cover art that seems derivative of the poster for Bruce Brown's classic surfing documentary, Endless Summer (1966) or possibly his belated sequel, Endless Summer II (1994).