Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

A Circle of Sound – 150 years of the Royal Albert Hall

An appropriate colour of light for its address on Kensington Gore

The day before yesterday (19 July) marked the first full-capacity concert at the 5,000 seat Albert Hall since March 2020. It was a piece called ‘A Circle of Sound’ composed by David Arnold, known for his soundtracks for Bond films, Hollywood movies (Independence Day) and TV dramas (Sherlock), to mark the 150th anniversary of its opening on 29th March 1871. In 10 parts, it addressed the history of this very special London venue through various lenses – pop music, the Proms, sport, remembrance, activism, etc.

It was set up as the Central Hall of Arts and Sciences, a direct result of Prince Albert’s brainchild, the Great Exhibition of 1851. After the success of the Exhibition, he proposed a permanent presence for Science, Art and Learning near the Hyde Park site. He didn’t live to see its fruition, but it ended up bearing his name when Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone in 1867 in memory of her beloved husband who died six years before the Hall finally opened. (The foundation stone sits under Block K of the stalls.)

David Arnold and special guests – Mel C (white suit), Jemma Redgrave (white dress), Helen Pankhurst (between them in Suffragette scarf)

It’s an important spot for London architecture because you see juxtaposed at close quarters the two main influences on modern London – the Classical as represented by the coliseum-like circle of the Albert Hall and the Gothic as represented by the pointy, churchy Albert Memorial, just the other side of Kensington Gore. 

Circle of Victorian red brick

Highlights of the celebratory evening included:

  • Helen Pankhurst, granddaughter of Sylvia, great-granddaughter of Emmeline, introducing a speech of her great-grandmother given in the USA (Hartford, Connecticut) known as the Freedom or Death speech, considered one of the great speeches of the 20th century.

we will put the enemy in the position where they will have to choose between giving us freedom or giving us death

  • Jemma Redgrave, daughter of Corin, son of Michael, in that English acting dynasty, performed the speech with great energy, bringing a tear to the eye – the achievement of the British Suffragette movement is one of the most admirable and proudest moments for this country
  • Mel C of The Spice Girls introducing the section on all the pop music that has been played at the Hall, featuring a young band invited from the Rhythm Studio in W10 including the drumming talent of Finlay Gee (nephew), who provided the only fist pump of the evening he had gotten such a kick from playing this huge venue at the age of just 18
  • Brian Cox helping us all feel like an insignificant speck in the universe as he framed the perspective of the Science section, Science being as much a part of the original conception of the Hall as Arts
  • Charles Dance receiving a warm welcome as a national treasure with an edge as he introduced the Remembrance section – he stole the show thanks to that edge when we made Was It Something I Said? at Channel 4 
  • Michael Sheen performing in Welsh barnstorming style as he introduced the final movement looking forward to the next 150 years

With regard to pop music played in the Hall the landmark shows include:

The Great Pop Prom // 15 September 1963 (the week I was born)
The first time The Beatles and The Stones performed on the same bill. Paul McCartney remembered the night like this: “Up there with the Rolling Stones we were thinking: ‘This is it – London. The Albert Hall.’ We felt like gods.”

Bob Dylan // 26 & 27 May 1966
The tour when he “went electric”. Ironically the concert famously known as the Albert Hall concert actually took place a few days earlier in the Free Trade Hall in Manchester – that’s the one where an outraged audience member accused Dylan of being “Judas!”

Bloke in audience: “Judas!”

Dylan: “I don’t believe you!”(reference to the title of a song he had played earlier in the gig)

Dylan: “You’re a liar!”

Dylan (to band): “Play fucking loud!”

Jimi Hendrix // 18 & 24 February 1969
The Jimi Hendrix Experience first played the Hall in 1967. They returned two years later to play some blues rather than their hits. The fans were appeased with an encore featuring ‘Purple Haze’, ‘Wild Thing’ and Hendrix on the floor playing the guitar with his teeth.

Pink Floyd // 26 June 1969
Pink Floyd excelled themselves by getting a lifetime ban from the Hall on their first gig there. During the song ‘Work’ Rick Wright constructed a wooden table on stage wielding hammer and saw. After that a gorilla burst into the auditorium, that is a man in a gorilla costume. As a finale, two cannons were fired and a pink smoke bomb exploded. The Hall’s management swiftly banned the Floyd from performing there ever again. Then in 1972 they decided to ban all “pop and rock concerts” because of the “hysterical behaviour of a large audience often encouraged by unthinking performers.” But Rock triumphed. The Floyd were back playing there just a year later, and the blanket ban was similarly short-lived, although The Who’s 1972 show fell victim to it. 

David Gilmour & David Bowie // 29 May 2006
When Bowie was invited onto the stage by Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour in 2006, it turned out to be both Bowie’s first & only appearance at the Hall, and his last ever UK public performance. The two  duetted on the songs ‘Arnold Layne’ (a nod to the influence on both of Syd Barrett) and ‘Comfortably Numb’. 

 

One of the many magical moments at the Albert Hall – Gilmour & Bowie

Story Snippet: Harrison

Three of us are having a late night summer wander around the backstreets of Hampstead. We come to St John-at-Hampstead church. As we walk through the churchyard there are two winos sitting on the bench in the yard. I acknowledge them and keep moving round the side of the church – I have something I want to show my two companions. As we walk down the side path between the building and some graves there are three teenagers sitting on a bench smoking weed. I acknowledge them and move past. Just beyond them is the object of the diversion – the tomb of John Harrison, a key contributor to the measurement of time, the inventor of the marine chronometer, and a self-taught clock maker and repairer. Born in 1693, his claim to fame is that he worked out how to measure longitude at sea, vital to global navigation. He won a £20,000 prize for his efforts, although getting the Board of Longitude and Parliament to honour the award proved difficult and drawn out. We read the lengthy inscription which tells Harrison’s story as best we can by phone light. 

We head back to our main course past the weed-smokers and back into the church yard. There one of the winos asks, to our surprise, “Did you see the Harrison grave?” I confirm we have, taken back a bit by the fact he has any knowledge of or interest in the relatively anonymous tomb. The other one pipes up that he is actually George Harrison. (18th century John  Harrison was also, as it happens, expert in the technicalities of music, given his mathematical genius.) The jolt from the first one’s question reminds us once again that winos, street people, addicts, burn-outs, bums and the like are human sons/daughters, maybe parents, friends, certainly relatives. Too easy to lose sight of. 

One of the nominees in this year’s inaugural SMART film festival, our international Smartphone film festival, helps underline this same realisation – José Rocha Pinto’s ‘In the Depths of the City’

And on the subject of addiction and drinking, our Amy Winehouse film for MTV and Paramount was announced this week. ‘Amy Winehouse and Me: Dionne’s Story’ plays on the 10th anniversary of Amy’s trip to the great stage in the sky (23rd July 2011 – in the UK it TXs  Mon 26th July at 10pm on MTV):

 

In contrast to the predictably grim Mirror piece, our film (on which my focus was story and script) is constructive and substantial, showing a process of grief over a decade finally coming to its crux. It centres on Amy’s godaughter, singer Dionne Bromfield.

Here’s the trailer: play

 

Amy Winehouse in Camden Town

Atmosphere (2013) by Pegasus – Junction of Parkway & Albert St (Earl of Camden pub)
Junction of Bayham St & Pratt St
by Bambi – Amy (& Morganico – Michael Dixon) – Michael, the man in black, was a local hairdresser, friend of Amy, added later
a fresh one – under the railway bridge at Castlehaven Rd
by Pegasus – just in the doorway of the Old Market Hall (Camden Lock Market) straight off of Camden High Street opposite Castlehaven Rd
by Otto Schade aka Osch – Hawley St
by Scott Eaton (2014) – The Stables Market

The above are all the traces of Amy Winehouse around her manor ten years after her tragic passing. 

The below are previous street art pieces which have gone the way of most street art, to that  blank wall in the sky.

by Mr Cenz
by Amara Por Dios and Kaptain Kris
by Philth (Phill Blake)
by Amara Por Dios and Kaptain Kris

Here’s a good snapshot of Amy art in the summer of 2017 when the Jewish Museum, which sits firmly in her stomping ground (on Albert St near ‘Atmosphere’), held an exhibition in her honour, appropriately including a series of street art commissions in the area.

The 10th anniversary of Amy’s death is on 23rd July.

forever with her gran

THE ARTISTS

Pegasus 

Bambi 

Osch

Mr Cenz

Amara por Dios

Kaptain Kris

Philth 

Latest Record Project

Tim Burgess’s Tim’s Twitter Listening Party has demonstrated during the pandemic that it is possible to generate community, human exchange and excitement about music by combining Music and Live. It is one of the best things to come out of the Plague. 

Last night Van Morrison played, or rather broadcast/premiered, a live gig from Real World Studios , set up by Peter Gabriel in 1987 in Box, just outside Bath. Van has connections with Bath, having lived there and bought his own studio there, Wool Hall in Beckington. Well, the performance was of the highest quality. Very professional, excellent sound, simply but beautifully presented, played with the greatest of skill, sung with a voice almost unchanged at 75. In short, despite being online, despite months of tedious zooming, a great energy was transmitted over the wires and through the screen.

Any shortcomings in the experience? You had to make your own social on the side – not difficult in the age of What’s App. The moment of transcendence (for both Van and his audience, a genuinely spiritual  moment) which marks every great Van concert was only just about achieved, in ‘St Dominic’s Preview’. Van stuck to his new LP, the amusingly named ‘Latest Record Project, Volume 1’, his 42nd album, for the bulk of the performance, only bringing in a few older tunes, with a bluesy bent (his deepest love), towards the end. There have been some really wide of the mark reviews of the record – here is one that gets this provocative record and how it links back right to the outset of Van’s career when he recorded an album’s worth of nonsense songs to fulfil an exploitative record contract without giving the exploiter anything he could use. The only better such record is Marvin Gaye’s searingly honest ‘Hear My Dear’ about the disintegration of his marriage to label owner Berry Gordy. 

To help mark last night’s show for posterity here are a few stills:

A rare moment when the dark glasses come off
Dana Masters is a great foil to Van’s voice
Van got stuck in on sax, blue’s harp (his top instrument), electric and acoustic guitar
A really talented band – he’s a great curator of talent
He’s a respecter of age and experience, as well as youth
Real World looking just right

Set List:

  1. It’s Only a Song
  2. Deadbeat Saturday Night
  3. Love Should Come with a Warning
  4. Do the Right Thing *
  5. Up County Down
  6. Latest Record Project
  7. Blue Funk
  8. My Time after a While
  9. Diabolic Pressure
  10. Why are you on Facebook?
  11. Where have all the rebels gone?
  12. Baby Please Don’t Go / Pachman Farm / Got my Mojo Working
  13. Ain’t Gonna Moan No More
  14. Days Like This
  15. Broken Record
  16. Cleaning Windows / Be Bop A Lula
  17. St Dominic’s Preview *
  18. Have I Told You Lately That I Love You? *
  19. Help Me
  20. Think twice before you go / Boom Boom
Have I Told You Lately..?
The band swinging
And a great band they are
A marvellous contraption
Van leading from the front

St George’s Day

There’s been a lot of discussion in the UK media about English identity yesterday and today so here’s a take on Englishness worth celebrating…

Shakey’s birthday is traditionally also celebrated on 23rd April
First and foremost a Londoner (which is another story)
The DMs are the Anglo-Saxon roots, the dress the Norman layer
Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy (1970-1) by David Hockney, where Yorkshire meets London
A unique sense of humour
Tolerance
Eccentricity & individuality: a South Londoner who believes in more love, less ego (Greentea Peng)
Openness to other cultures
Twiggy by David Bailey
Pauline Boty & Christine Keeler
St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall

Latest photographs in the ArkAngel collection

ArkAngel has a small but perfectly formed collection of photographs and these are the latest additions. Three of these four come from Magnum photo agency which offers small signed or estate-stamped prints. The fourth is direct from the photographer (Danny Clifford) with whom I had a fascinating chat in Marlow, Buckinghamshire before the plague hit.  

Eve Arnold – Marilyn Monroe reading Ulysses by James Joyce. Long Island, New York (1955)

‘Ulysses’ is my favourite book and Marilyn is an important name in our family (and our Marilyn is blonde too). I read a concise biography of Marilyn Monroe as a teenager and was struck by her intelligence and intellectual aspirations. This image, which was on a poster in Black Gull Books, East Finchley in recent times, says body and mind, natural beauty and artistic beauty, ‘low’ culture and ‘high’, adult and child.

Eve Arnold’s grandson Michael wrote: “This image was made by Eve during her first shoot with Marilyn Monroe. Monroe had shown Eve her down-to-earth, relaxed personality as they worked together. But the photographer had yet to really witness the actress’s candour. The following is an excerpt from a passage in Eve’s book, In Retrospect, in which she recalled meeting with Marilyn a second time, in order to show her the photographs she had taken:

She met me at the door in a diaphanous black negligee. She had a hairbrush in her hand. Would I mind sitting through an interview for a European magazine—then we could talk? Almost immediately the reporter showed up. Marilyn greeted her, and while the woman had her head down, looking in her purse for notebook and pencil, Marilyn asked if she minded if she (Marilyn) brushed her hair during the interview. No, of course not. When the woman raised her head, Marilyn was brushing her pubic hair.

Due in no small part to Monroe’s laidback temperament, the two were to become close over the months that followed.”

Elliott Landy – Bob Dylan in Woodstock, NY (1968)

This is the second Elliott Landy shot of Dylan in the collection. This is the first:

Elliott Landy – Bob Dylan with son Jesse, Byrdcliffe home, Woodstock, NY (1968)

The collection has print 7/100 which is 50 x 35cm.

The new infrared shot is most striking of course for its colour. It derives from a Saturday Evening Post cover image assignment. Landy was just starting out but his work with The Band had impressed one of Dylan’s friends and that’s how they first connected. The connection and subsequent friendship eventually yielded an album cover (Nashville Skyline). The shot was taken outside Dylan’s home in Byrdcliffe, New York state, as was the shot with his young son, Jesse.

Danny Lyon – Bob Dylan behind the SNCC office. Greenwood, Mississippi (1963)

This shot is reminiscent of the brilliant 2019 creative documentary Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan story by Martin Scorsese (to give it its full title) in which Bob takes his guitar out at times in a spirit of activism and solidarity. 

After giving a concert in a cotton field with folk singers Pete Seeger and Theo Bikel, Dylan played behind the office of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC – pronounced “snick”). Bernice Reaon, one of the original Freedom Singers and later the lead singer of Sweet Honey in the Rock, is the woman listening intently in front of Dylan.

The Freedom Singers started in 1962 as a student quartet in Albany State College, Albany, Georgia. Their sound combined  black Baptist church singing with protest songs. They were big supporters of the SNCC during the emerging civil rights movement and they played a significant role in making communal song a key means of empowering and educating audiences about civil rights issues and combatting Jim Crow segregation.

Mendy Samstein is sitting behind Dylan and talking to Willie Blue. Samstein quit his Ph.D. in history at the University of Chicago to join the civil rights movement in the South as a full-time organiser for the SNCC. Black Panther leader Stokely Carmichael (previously chairman of SNCC) said Samstein was “one in a million”.

Danny Clifford – Amy Winehouse backstage at 4th BBC Radio Jazz awards, Hammersmith Palais, London (2004)

Amy Winehouse was another one in a million. This July marks the 10th anniversary of her sad passing and I have been working on a documentary to mark the event.

The deliberate choice of such an early image comes down to the way this shot captures the youthful promise of Amy before other pressures intruded. It was exhibited in a church in Hampstead a couple of years ago as part of a Danny Clifford show. 

Danny had a studio set up backstage at these BBC jazz awards. Amy had just come off stage after performing some songs from her debut album Frank. She was reluctant to go over to the press wall and didn’t really give them what they wanted. Danny managed to steer her into his makeshift studio after and got much more relaxed shots including this beauty. Katie Melua came over a couple of minutes later and Danny suggested taking shots of the two of them together. Katie was well up for it but Amy said: “I ain’t having a picture with her. She’s shit. She doesn’t even write her own songs.” Danny thought she was joking at first but there was no sign of that. “I’ll take that as a No then” was his retort.

Openings – first lines of songs

In most creations with a time dimension (film, music, etc.), the opening is very important. This is particularly true of Short Form Video where the drop-off rates in the first minute on almost all platforms is very high (75%+). It’s all about grabbing attention and retaining interest. While it’s critical in this most modern of art forms, it’s pretty much as true of the positively ancient art of song writing.

Here are some favourites from a lively thread on our Facebook account…

God said to Abraham…
God said to Abraham “Kill me a son”
Abe said “Man, you must be puttin’ me on”
[Bob Dylan, Highway 61]
 
I don’t believe in an interventionist god
But I know, darling, that you do
[Nick Cave, Into My Arms]
 
Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine
[Patti Smith, Gloria]
 
I wanted to change the world
But I could not even change my underwear
[Sinead O’Connor, written by John Grant – Queen of Denmark]
 
Some of us live like princes; some of us live like queens;
Some of us live just like you and me and don’t know what it means…
To take our place in one world; to make our peace in one world; to make our love in one world…
[John Martyn, One World]
 
If you kissed the sun right out of the sky for me
If you told me all the lies I might deserve
If you lay right down and you died for me
I could not love you more
[John Martyn, Couldn’t Love You More] perhaps the greatest in his simplicity
 
You curl around me, like a fern in the spring.
[John Martyn, Go Down Easy]
 
I can hear her heart beat for a thousand miles
And the heavens open every time she smiles
And when I come to her that’s where I belong
Yet I’m running to her like a river’s song
[Van Morrison, Crazy Love]
 
I am a street walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm
[Iggy and the Stooges,  Search and Destroy]
 
In the time of chimpanzees I was a monkey
[Beck]
 
Jeremiah was a bullfrog
Was a good friend of mine
[Three Dog Night, Joy to the World]
 
I’ve been working on a cocktail called grounds for divorce.
[Elbow]
 
When me and Pam are hand in hand, we make a lovely pair.
But when we fight her awful spite is more than I can bear.
[Ian Dury, Pam’s Moods]
 
I guess I should’ve known
By the way you parked your car sideways
That it wouldn’t last
[Prince, Little Red Corvette]
 
Tumble out of bed stumble to the kitchen,
Pour myself a cup of ambition
[Dolly Parton, 9 to 5]
 
I may not always love you
But as long as there are stars above you
You never need to doubt it
[Beach Boys, God Only Knows] one of the most beautiful of songs
 
An old man turned 98…He won the lottery and died the next day
[Alanis Morissette, Ironic]
 
Son I am 30
I only went with your mother cos she’s dirty
[Happy Mondays, Kinky Afro]
 
I never thought it would happen
With me and the girl from Clapham
[squeeze, Up the Junction] a top rhyme
 
Abra Abra Cadabra
I wanna reach out and grab ya
[Steve Miller Band]
 
A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop, A-lop-bam-boom
[Little Richard, Tutti Frutti]
 
I did you wrong my heart went out to play
But in the game I lost you
What a price to pay, hey I’m crying
[Smokey Robinson, Ooh Ooh Baby]
 
Oh, my land is like a wild goose
Wanders all around everywhere
Trembles and it shakes till every tree’s loose
It rolls the meadows and it rolls the nails
[Gram Parsons, A Song for You]
 
Hey Charlie I’m pregnant and living on 9th Street
Right above a dirty bookstore off Euclid Avenue
And I stopped takin dope and I quit drinkin whiskey
And my old man plays the trombone and works out at the track
[Tom Waits, Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis]
 
It’s four in the morning, the end of December
I’m writing you now just to see if you’re better
New York is cold, but I like where I’m living
There’s music on Clinton Street all through the evening.
I hear that you’re building your little house deep in the desert
You’re living for nothing now, I hope you’re keeping some kind of record.
[Leonard Cohen, Famous Blue Raincoat]
 
No regrets Coyote
We just come from such different sets of circumstance
I’m up all night in the studios
And you’re up early on your ranch
You’ll be brushing out a brood mare’s tail
While the sun is ascending
And I’ll just be getting home with my reel to reel
There’s no comprehending
Just how close to the bone and the skin and the eyes
And the lips you can get
And still feel so alone
And still feel related
Like stations in some relay
You’re not a hit and run driver
No no
Racing away
[Joni Mitchell, Coyote]
 
They’ve paved paradise and put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot
[Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi]
 
I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand
Walking through the streets of Soho in the rain
He was looking for the place called Lee Ho Fook’s
Gonna get a big dish of beef chow mein
[Warren Zevon, Werewolves of London]
 
I met her in a club down in old Soho
Where you drink champagne and it tastes just like Coca Cola
C-O-L-A, Cola
[The Kinks, Lola]
 
I’ve been loving you a long time
Down all the years, down all the days
And I’ve cried for all your troubles
Smiled at your funny little ways.
[The Pogues, a Rainy Night in Soho]
 
In Penny Lane there is a barber showing photographs
Of every head he’s had the pleasure to know
And the people that come and go
Stop and say hello.
[The Beatles, Penny Lane]
 
When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody’s help in any way,
[The Beatles, Help!]
 
I can feel the earth begin to move
I hear my needle hit the groove
And spiral through another day
I hear my song begin to say
Kiss me where the sun don’t shine
The past was yours
But the future’s mine
You’re all out of time.
[The Stone Roses, She Bangs the Drums]
 
Well you tried it just for once, found it alright for kicks.
But now you’ve found out that it’s a habit that sticks.
[Buzzcocks, Orgasm Addict]
 
I’m a glum one, it’s explainable, I met someone unattainable
[Frank Sinatra, I Can’t Get Started]
 
Someone’s got it in for me they’re planting stories in the press.
[Bob Dylan, Idiot Wind]
 
Bless my cotton socks I’m in the news
[Teardrop Explodes, Reward]
 
Look out, mama, there’s a white boat coming up the river
With a big red beacon, and a flag, and a man on the rail
[Neil Young, Powderfinger]
 
Last week I attended a family affair,
and a few remarked upon my recent growth of facial hair
[Loudon Wainright III, Surviving Twin]
 
Pretty women out walking with gorillas down my street
[Joe Jackson, Is she really going out with him?] 
 
Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard
But I say…
Oh Bondage! Up yours!
[X-Ray Spex, Oh Bondage! Up yours!]
 
Some people might say my life is in a rut
But I’m quite happy with what I got
[The Jam, Going Underground]
 
It’s a God-awful small affair
To the girl with the mousy hair
But her mummy is yelling, “No”
And her daddy has told her to go
[David Bowie, Life on Mars?]
 
There was a boy
A very strange enchanted boy
[Nature Boy]
 
There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold, and she’s buying a stairway to Heaven. 
[Led Zeppelin, Stairway to Heaven]
 
If you are the dealer
I’m out of the game
If you are the healer it means
I’m broken and lame
[Leonard Cohen, You Want it Darker]
 
Me and Mrs. Jones
We got a thing, goin’ on
[Billy Paul, Me & Mrs Jones]
 
The screen door slams, Mary’s dress waves.
Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays.
[Bruce Springsteen, Thunder Road]
 
I’ve got six things on my mind, you’re no longer one of them.
[Paddy McAloon, Desire As]
 
I wish I knew how it would feel to be free
[Nina Simone, I wish I knew how it would feel to be free]
 
Please allow me to introduce myself. I’m a man of wealth and taste.
[Rolling Stones, Sympathy for the Devil]
 
I am an antichrist
[Sex Pistols, Anarchy in the UK]
 
It’s been 7 hours and 15 days
Since you took your love away
[Nothing Compares 2U]
 
Hey ho, let’s go.
[Ramones, Blitzkrieg Bop]
 
It’s been 7 hours and 15 days
Since you took your love away

More Favourite Social Media Accounts

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
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