Last week would have been the 43rd birthday of Trish Keenan, the lead singer of Broadcast who died in 2011. James Cargill, her partner in the band and in life, has posted a couple of personal recordings of Trish singing and reading on the band’s website which are lovely but incredibly sad under the circumstances. Much as I want Cargill to put out whatever unreleased recordings he has I’d perfectly understand if he decided he couldn’t bear to listen to them ever again.
(The title of this post comes from this tribute. I thought it was about the most perfect way of describing Trish that I’d ever heard.)
Childhood heroes are usually pop stars and footballers, but growing up in the late 60s and early 70s we also had the Apollo astronauts to idolize, actual heroes who performed amazing, courageous feats that really mattered — unlike Marc Bolan and Peter Osgood. To us they were real-life versions of Captain Kirk, Scott Tracy, and our Major Matt toys. They looked so cool in those white spacesuits, blasting into space (space! outer space!) aboard the gigantic, beautiful Saturn V rocket (which I had an Airfix model of). When I lived in Florida I visited Kennedy Space Centre and seeing things like the Lunar Module made me feel like a thrilled little kid again. Great though it was, seeing the Space Shuttle never excited me like that.
The death of Neil Armstrong has brought a lot of those memories back and reminded me what a big deal it all was at the time. I watched all the Apollo missions on TV from lift-off to splashdown (with James Burke and Patrick Moore on the BBC), seeing the first moon landing in my pajamas as Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface at four in the morning our time. I think I went to bed for a few hours and my mum set her alarm to wake us up for the big moment.
To us kids the Apollo missions seemed to promise that the future might be like the one we saw in Gerry Anderson TV shows, and that by the time we were adults we’d be living on the moon. Little did we know that when Apollo 17 left the moon in 1972 we wouldn’t go back again, so the moonbase we dreamt about never happened — not to mention the jetpacks and flying cars.
All the obituaries will use the word “immortal” to describe Armstrong’s place in history and I think some part of me thought he literally was, because even though he was getting on a bit his death still shocked me, as if I was surprised that such a legend would just kick the bucket like the rest of us boringly do and not ascend to Valhalla on the back of a giant, flaming bird or something. Seven-year-old me would have expected nothing less.
The Grim Reaper continues his May sweep through the pop world, now he’s taken Robin Gibb.
Though I think the Bee Gees have gained some appreciation and even cred in recent years, some people still regard them as being a bit naff. I saw them live in the late 1980s and it was a terrific concert, they really were excellent, but the other week I told someone that and he said “You saw the Bee Gees???” with the tone of someone who thought I was a bit soft in the head. It makes you wonder how many great hit songs a band has to write to be considered serious artists, I certainly don’t have a problem saying that the Gibbs are up there with Lennon & McCartney as the best pop songwriters that England has ever produced.
Though Barry’s falsetto was the sound most people associate with them, Robin’s voice was no less distinctive. His quivering tone often sounded like a fragile little boy on the verge of tears which added an intense, melodramatic sadness to early ballads like the ones below. As Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne says in his tribute here, his voice “sounded like no one else before or since.”
And spare a thought for Barry, that’s all his brothers gone now.
If you’re of my generation (which I think most of you are), then Where The Wild Things Are was one of the books you grew up with. It certainly fired up my childhood imagination in a big way and I still remember trying to copy Sendak’s beautiful drawings, especially those fabulous monsters. Even today when I draw a monster for my kids they look like the ones in that book with pointy teeth, shaggy hair, and horns.
I came across this clip while reading a bit about the late Dick Clark and it’s one of the most magnificently surreal things I’ve ever seen on pop television, like alien creatures have landed in some small Midwestern town in the 1950s.
Watching the Grammys on Sunday night they did their usual “In Memoriam” thing about the people who’d died recently and in among Whitney Houston, Etta James, Amy Winehouse, Dobie Gray and all the others there was Andrew Gold. That was a shock because I had no idea he’d died. Why didn’t someone tell me???
I wouldn’t claim that he was some kind of musical giant or anything but this was/is one of my favourite singles of the 1970s.