Archive for the ‘david bowie’ Category

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Toyah Willcox & Robert Fripp in their kitchen

(1) Toyah & Fripp’s Sunday Lunch Film (YouTube)

It being Sunday lunch time I have just watched Toyah & Fripp’s latest Sunday Lunch Film (their fun-filled take on Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze). As I look out my window at a farm in Barnet (it may be a sheep farm for all I know about things agricultural) I think back to the young punk of Derek Jarman’s Jubilee and that debut EP Sheep Farming in Barnet

The only Toyah record in my collection

What interest she had in Barnet (as a Brummie) or sheep I have no idea – she has had a very particular success as a singer and actress (my favourite of her performances is in Quadrophenia). Now, every Sunday at noon she and her husband, King Crimson guitarist Ropert Fripp, release a short video of them performing a song in their kitchen. She is 62 and he is 74. They are on a mission to have fun in Lockdown.

(2) Tim’s Twitter Listening Parties (Twitter)

Another of the great things to come out of Lockdown is Tim Burgess of The Charlatan’s group LP listening sessions connected via Twitter. Tim picks a record. We all hit Play at the same time. And chat. Simple as that. Among the best Tim’s Twitter Listening Parties I’ve joined were a series of Sunday night ones spotlighting Bowie’s LPs with input from Mike Garson (Bowie’s pianist) and others from his band; Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ neglected classic Don’t Stand Me Down; a couple of The Cure ones such as Pornography (which is one of the few of their albums I didn’t know that well so this was a great way to discover it communally) and a brilliant The The one (Infected) with Matt Johnson.

The format grew so popular that after a while musicians started to join in in this way and give anecdotes and explanations around their songs. This has meant I’ve had direct contacts with musicians from Dexy’s guitarist to Bowie’s to The Cure’s, for example. The communal music experience is the beating heart of the thing, but the closeness to the creators is cherry on the cake. Really one of the very best things to come out of Lockdown.

Dexy’s fiddle player and guitarist in dialogue with the fans (i.e. me)
[back L-R] Kevin Rowland, Nick Gatfield [front] Billy (Kev) Adams, Helen O’Hara

(3) Chop Daily (Instagram)

Chop Daily is an energetic minute of dance to your phone every day of life from the account’s followers. Simples.

Bowie revelation

 

Listening to lots of David Bowie music over his birthday weekend (Friday was his birthday, 8th January) I had a bit of a revelation. One of my favourite LPs of all time – The Talking Heads’ Remain in the Light – I suspect was very heavily influenced by Bowie’s Lodger. I remember the release of Lodger, his third Berlin album, well, him explaining on some BBC radio show the background to the world sounds drawn from Turkey, Africa and other diverse places. Lodger was released in May 1979 (one of the great years for music) and Remain in the Light in October of the following year. The connection should have been obvious because both were produced by Brian Eno and he has proven himself one of the creative greats of our times.

Eno’s impact on Bowie’s work on Lodger and the other two Berlin records is very well captured in David Bowie: Verbatim, the archive programme made by my friend Des Shaw at Zinc in January 2016, which was repeated last night to mark the 5th anniversary of Bowie’s passing in that month – you can listen to it here

Coincidences No.s 291 & 292 – A London Boy

No. 291 All Things Must Pass

I go for my last run (of hundreds) in St Pancras & Islington cemetery. It’s only open on weekends at the moment due to Lockdown/Covid so this Sunday is my last opportunity. I am due to move house on Tuesday. I know every inch of this huge cemetery-cum-nature reserve and have deeply enjoyed the hours I have spent here running, walking and meditating. I jog listening to a BBC Radio programme (‘Archive on 4‘) about George Harrison’s first solo record ‘All Things Must Pass’. 

As I reach the gate coming out for the last time the narrator, Nitin Sawhney, reminds us that the record first came out in the UK 50 years ago on 30th November. This is 29th November. On the 30th I am packing up the house and home office of ArkAngel to move out. 

As I reach the side gate of the house at the end of the run George says (referring to the long recording process):

“…and it’s finished.”

No. 292 A New Dawn

I just received the following message (30 seconds ago via Facebook):

“Listening to it myself. Dedicating Nina to you. Xx”

It refers to this playlist, ‘Weekend at Home‘, created by my Best Man, and the track ‘Feeling Good’ (by Nina Simone). I’ve been listening to the playlist all morning on the first Saturday in my new home, where I’m sitting at my new ArkAngel desk.

About two minutes before the message arrived I got an email from a colleague/friend at Little Dot Studios. It was about somebody pirating ‘Surf Girls Jamaica‘ and at the end he asked

“How’s the new place?”

Exactly as I read the email these were the very words I heard from Spotify…

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me

Yeah, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me

And I’m feelin’ good

‘Feeling Good’ was actually written by two Londoners – Anthony Newley (Hackney) & Leslie Bricusse (Pinner) for a musical, ‘The Roar of the Greasepaint’ . As I finish off this post, on the ‘Weekend at Home’ playlist I’ve reached the track ‘The London Boys‘ by David Bowie. It was a 1966 B-side on Deram records which put out his early work. He sings it in a very Anthony Newley London style as Newley was a huge influence on Bowie when he was starting out. My move takes me back to my native postcode: London NW7

It’s a new dawn

East Street Band

East Finchley has done pretty well on the music front in recent years with Feargal Sharkey of The Undertones, Ray Davies of the Kinks and Jon King of the Gang of Four among the local residents, as well as having the house called Fairport just down the road which gave its name to Fairport Convention. But the crowning glory is the little known fact that David Bowie played one of his first gigs, aged 17, in this (not very large) building in East Finchley High Street…

 

Finchley Youth Theatre

Here’s how the two shilling event was billed:

Sunday 26th June 1964

This was Bowie’s – or as he was then Davie (not Davy) Jones – second band. They mainly did RnB covers but had nevertheless attracted the attention of TV (BBC’s Juke Box Jury, ITV’s Ready Steady Go!, and The Beat Room on BBC2 [the third British TV station,  which had just launched in April 1964]). Their first and only single, Liza Jane, had just been released (5th June 1964), Bowie’s first ever record. It was recorded not far away at Decca Studios in West Hampstead.

Bowie left the King Bees shortly after the gig to form The Mannish Boys. Five years later, after struggling to break through, he released Space Oddity under the name David Bowie.

J.Y.C. stands for Jewish Youth Club. Beatles manager Brian Epstein was Vice-President of the club from 1964 to his death in 1967, and visited it at least once a year to meet the young members. The club was sent copies of all Epstein’s record releases the day they came out.

Davie Jones and the King Bees
jewish Chronicle 15th September 1967
 Brian Epstein signing autographs at the Youth Club in September 1965

Story Snippet – Trondheim train

I find myself sitting next to Sissel on the six-hour train journey from Trondheim to Oslo. She is an elegant elderly lady with a wicked laugh. A native of Trondheim, she used to be the projectionist at the Cinemateket where I delivered my lecture on Thursday. She is on her way to Oslo airport heading for Berlin, her first visit there since 1977. The last time she went she tried to call David Bowie and Iggy Pop. She found the phone number of their flat under James Osterberg (Iggy’s non-stage name) in the phone book. She rang but a woman answered and said they were out.

david bowie iggy pop berlin

Quote of the Day: Bowie

david bowie singer glasses

 

 

 

I’m a born librarian with a sex drive

David Bowie

The Next Day: fragments of Bowie

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Outside 155 Hauptstrasse Schoeneberg Berlin – Bowie’s apartment – 17 Jan 2016

So today is The Next Day – the day after Bowie’s birthday, after the anniversary of the release of Blackstar, the day before the anniversary of his death, the middle day, the limbo day.

As promised in yesterday’s birthday post, The Man Who Rose from Earth, in this one I’m going to gather some of the Bowie posts from across the years of Simple Pleasures part 4. As a blog about Creativity and the quest for Happiness through the Simple Pleasures of life Bowie was always bound to feature as a great creator, an outstanding innovator and a man who worked hard to know himself and find Peace.

So adding to the photo album of my Bowie’s Berlin trip last January and my post on hearing of his death (Blackstar Rising) from yesterday’s post are:

Bowie: The Next Day [11 January, 2016] My reflections on his death

The Berlin Trilogy 1 [16 January, 2016] the first day oy my trip to Berlin in the days after his death

The Berlin Trilogy 2: Where Are We Now? [17 January, 2016]

The Berlin Trilogy 3: Goodbye to Berlin  [19 January, 2016]

Heroes Mystery Solved [27 January, 2016]

David Bowie locations in Berlin [22 January, 2016] a ready-made tour

Heddonism [11 April, 2012] a first-hand account of the unveiling of his plaque in Heddon St.

A Bowie Moment [13 January, 2016] Ziggy Stardust plaque unveiling video

4 for 66 (Happy Birthday David Bowie) [9 January, 2013] 4 of his best songs

Sound & Vision [12 November, 2016] the best of Bowie’s art collection

Cut up by Bowie’s Black-out [20 January, 2016] a Bowie-style cut-up

Where Are We Now? [11 January, 2016] an animation

100 Greatest Songs [12 January, 2008]

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Outside 155 Hauptstrasse Schoeneberg Berlin – Bowie’s apartment – 17 Jan 2016

Celebrated The Big Man’s birthday yesterday evening by watching David Bowie: The Last Five Years, a new BBC feature documentary commissioned by my friend and former Channel 4 colleague Jan Younghusband. It is an excellent watch, breaking new ground with its focus on his last half decade and last two LPs in an intelligent and insightful way. It was directed by Francis Whately. There are various clips here.

The Man Who Rose From Earth

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Front door of 155 Hauptstrasse Schoeneberg – Bowie’s apartment in Berlin – 17th January 2016

I fell asleep with the radio on…

…when I woke just before 4am, death hour, David Bowie was playing and the listeners to Up All Night on Radio 5 had selected Sound and Vision as the song that best captures Bowie, and one caller was arguing for Station to Station as the best LP, which was my view too in the wake of his death on 10th January last year. Sound and Vision was the track on my first directorial showreel (of which a poor digitisation is to be found here, though I think it may have been blocked by YouTube during the last year because of the copyright track (I can still see it but sorry, you may not be able to)) – cutting that reel is why it is burnt into my consciousness, hard wired from the edit suite.

Update 8.i.17 21:30 – I managed to find a badly encoded/pixellated copy of my Sound & Vision reel from which you can get the general idea

So it’s 04:40 now on Bowie’s birthday – one year on. We’re all going to be bombarded with Bowie The Next Days of course but it’s worth asking “Where are we now?” like the image I saw on the Big Man’s front door at 155 Hauptstrasse in Schoeneberg, Berlin on 17th January 2016. I was due to work in Berlin by chance, at Documentary Campus, six days after I first heard the news of Bowie’s ascension early one morning on the radio. I decided to make it something of a tribute trip. Here’s the photo album.

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Berlin, 16th January 2016 – 8 days after Blackstar release

Where Are We Now? The world looks quite different from 10th January 2016.

That set of photos is the first fragment as I start over the next couple of anniversary days to pull together a picture of where we are now Bowie- & Other-wise.

My initial reaction at this point one year on is that his death cast a shadow over the whole year which is extraordinary for someone I didn’t know and never talked to. I saw him in the flesh a couple of times but I feel less about his passing emotionally than that of John Martyn, however his music is woven into my life, like that of many other people of the Bowie era (a long one by popular music standards) and that I reckon is one of the main reasons his passing prompted such widespread, strong and unique reaction.

The second fragment is this – written 15 minutes after hearing the surprise black news 363 days ago, another occasion I have been woken early by Bowie.

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My 1977 vintage badge which dropped off my lapel in Berlin, January 2016 – from Carnaby Street to a mysterious final resting place

blackstar

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