THE RHYTHM & THE TIDE by Mike Badger & Tim Peacock (Liverpool University Press, 2015)
As founder member of The La’s, Mike Badger is no stranger to interview requests. However, more often than not it’s not his version of events journalists actually want to hear. All too frequently, his insights are edited out from the story of a band who could have been to Liverpool what Oasis are to Manchester but instead ended up being regarded as little more than one-hit wonders.
Subtitled ‘Liverpool, The La’s and Ever After’, The Rhythm & The Tide finally gives Badger the opportunity to explain how he overcame early disillusionment to forge a modest yet varied and fulfilled career as a musician. artist and record label founder. Above all, this is the tale of a man with no axes to grind but a compelling story to tell. Continue reading
THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER by Carson McCullers (First published, 1940)
This has to be one of the best titles of all time and is widely regarded as one the great American novels.
It is certainly a remarkable achievement especially considering it is the debut work of a writer who was just 23 years old when it was first published.
Full of worldly wisdom and compassion for life’s underdogs, it suggests that Carson McCullers was writing from her own bitter experiences. Continue reading
FRANCESCO DE GREGORI – live at Nuova Teatro Carisport, Cesena, Italy 8th April 2016
This concert is part of the ‘Amore e Furto’ (Love and Theft) tour – a reference to the subtitle of the ‘De Gregori Canta Bob Dylan’ album released in 2015.
Needless to say, a fair proportion of the show is devoted to songs from this record which does such a valuable public service to Italians, particularly those who know Dylan only on the basis of a few of his ‘greatest hits’. The translations were obviously a labour of love and do an exemplary job of conveying the quirky poetry and socio-political thrust of Dylan’s language.
The varied choice of covers are drawn from the full range of Dylan’s career, evidence of the 65-year-old Italian singer-songwriter’s long-standing adoration of ‘His Bobness’. (Evidenced by the fact that he has also shared the bill with Dylan on a number of occasions).
De Gregori wisely steers clear of the more obvious selections so, for instance, there’s no ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ or ‘Knocking On Heaven’s Door’. Inspired versions of Desolation Row (Via Della Povertà) and Not Dark Yet (Non è Buoi Ancora) reflect the inspirations of beat language and the contemplations of mortality just as effectively. Continue reading
ANOMALISA directed by Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson (USA, 2015)
Michael and Lisa
“I don’t want to live my life like everybody else,
And I don’t want to say that I feel fine like everybody else,
‘Cause I’n not like everybody else”
These lyrics by Ray Davies in The Kinks’ song ‘I’m Not Like Everybody Life’ serves as a neat summation of the central theme in Charlie Kaufman’s latest ‘mindfuck’ movie.
An ‘anomaly’ is defined by Macmillan Dictionary as “something unusual, unexpected or different from what usually happens”. As an animated feature for adults, including an explicit and realistic stop motion sex scene, this film is certainly an anomaly but it is also consistent with Kaufman’s previous work in that it is less concerned with external reality and more focused on what goes on inside our heads. Continue reading
TORTOISE – Locomotic Club, Bologna 19th February 2016
It’s gonna rain? Tortoise are ready for all weathers. L-R: John McEntire, Doug McCombs, John Herndon, Dan Bitney & Jeff Parker
“No moving lights please”. This is the polite but firm request made to lighting engineers by Tortoise’s Dan Bitney after the first song.
The message is clear; the beats may sometimes be danceable but this ain’t no disco.
But the question as to how exactly you do begin to categorize the music of Tortoise has been an ongoing challenge for the past 25 years of the Chicago band’s existence.
Calling it post-rock, as many still do, runs the risk of implying that the band are somehow opposed to conventional rock music. In an interview with The Wire in 2001 John McEntire said “As far as I’m concerned all we’ve ever been is a rock band” and on the strength of their brilliant sold out show at Bologna this is clearly still his position.
What makes them less conventional, and thus harder to pigeonhole, is that no-one sings and they are so clearly wide open to sounds and rhythms from other genres. Jazz is an obvious influence but there are also strong elements of funk, soul and R’n’B. Continue reading