When you have Debbie Harry on stage you don’t really need strangely-dressed dancers to add visual interest.
I struggled to stop smoking for a long time, falling in and out of the habit for years before finally quitting. Obviously I was addicted, but almost as strong as that — and my worry about dying a premature death from cancer — was the feeling that without cigarettes I’d just be some safe and boring middle-aged bloke. I know it sounds stupid, but smoking meant being a nonconformist rebel and sticking two fingers up at society with it’s smug health and fitness obsession (you can’t even smoke at a concert anymore, how rock and roll is that?) Most of all, a cigarette went with being young, drinking too much, clubbing till late, living on the edge, being cool. It was hard to let go of that, without it I might as well start wearing comfy shoes and listening to Coldplay.
We like to say that one of the best things about getting old is not actually caring about being cool anymore which is true to a certain extent, but no one wants to be un-cool, do they? The worst thing is that feeling you aren’t where it’s at anymore, the culture has moved on and replaced you with annoying young people — and young people are always annoying when you’re not one. Just to rub salt in the wound, a lot of these kids are into the same bands you were at their age so it’s like the little buggers are parasites living off your past coolness.
A while ago I was on the bus and there was some kid wearing a Clash t-shirt with their first album cover on it. I became very aware that, while he was in his cool Punk Rock shirt, I was sitting there with my reading glasses and hair greying at the temples, so to this kid I’m just some old fart with a boring life. He probably didn’t even notice me but inside I wanted to shout at him “I SAW THE CLASH BEFORE YOU WERE FUCKING BORN! I TOOK DRUGS! I USED TO BE COOL!”
Maybe I should have just lit up a fag on the bus, that would’ve shown him what a rebel I was.
As I was writing this post I realized I might as well have just posted this record and left it at that.
Download: Losing My Edge – LCD Soundsystem (mp3)
Not sure how I managed to have not seen this clip on YouTube until yesterday, but soon as I did I knew it was a no-brainer for today. Sublime performance of a sublime song.
As I said last week, filing away our CDs was quite the trip down memory lane. Another half-forgotten, much-loved CD I came across was Follow the Sound, the debut album by Mascott which came out in 2000. I bought it while on my honeymoon in New York so, besides being a terrific album, it has all sorts of happy associations.
Mascott was a rotating group of musicians led by Indie songstress Kendall Jane Meade whose lovely voice and beautifully tender songs make for a gorgeous, intimate Indiepop record that should be better known. For years I’ve thought of it as something of a lost classic, a secret that I shared only with my wife.
Do yourself a favour and get a copy, it’s available on vinyl now too.
Mascott released two more albums since this one which are also both great and I thought that was all, but researching this post I discovered she also released this EP in 2013.
It’s Labor Day here today, the holiday when America celebrates the crushing of working people by unfettered capitalism. Or something like that.
Download: Crushed By The Wheels of Industry (Parts 1 & 2) – Heaven 17 (mp3)
This clip makes me so very happy and glad to be alive. There are times when I think 70s soul is the pinnacle of all music.
I recently finished the job of filing all our CDs away in binders and chucking out the cases (for recycling, I’m not a barbarian). It was bloody tedious but also a nice nostalgia trip as I came across a lot of great albums from the 1990s I’d forgotten about, like Pedals by Chicago band The Aluminum Group.
The Aluminum Group took their name from a line of furniture designed by Charles and Ray Eames which was reason enough for me to like them, and played a crisp, smooth chamber-pop that was as beautifully put together as an Eames chair.
If their name wasn’t arty enough for you, Pedals opens with a 10-minute song about Marcel Duchamp called “Rrose Sélavy’s Valise” which is about as pretentious a move a band can make. Rrose Sélavy was Duchamp’s female alter ego, and the valise is a reference to this Duchamp work. With it’s epic length and multi-part structure it sounds something like Lounge Prog which should really be a thing.
Were they known as The Aluminium Group in the UK?
Download: Rrose Sélavy’s Valise – The Aluminum Group (mp3)
Photo: Rrose Sélavy (Marcel Duchamp), 1920, by Man Ray.
This is an old photo that belonged to my Dad of him working with the great Beryl Reid. I had to do some internet detective work to find out when it was taken, and best I can tell it’s from rehearsals of either the Italian comedy Il Campiello or Edward Albee’s Counting The Ways, both of which she starred in at the National Theatre in 1976 where my old man was a Stage Manager. I’ve a feeling it’s the latter.
As you can see she’s written something on the photo but, like the note my Dad got from John Osborne, it was hard to decipher what it was. So I did some Photoshop jiggery-pokery on the blue pen and figured out that it says “To John, I’m not the tallest partner but you’re lovely – Beryl Reid” which I assume has something to do with the rehearsals. But who knows, apparently Beryl was quite the saucy old bird.
Of course none of this would be a mystery if I’d asked him about it when he was alive, but he never told me any stories about Beryl either so I’ve nothing there I’m afraid.
I had a hard time thinking of a song to go with this post so here’s a track from a favourite album of my Dad’s that came out the year before the photo was taken. I don’t hate The Eagles anymore — don’t love them either — but this is rather nice Country-Rock.
Download: Hollywood Waltz – The Eagles (mp3)