Category: music


THE GREENLANDERS by Jane Smiley (Anchor Books, 2005)

franzen_smileyIs life too short for big books?

When it comes to novels like Infinite Jest or Middlemarch, I’d say not.

David Foster Wallace was so overflowing with ideas that he needed the space to expand his thoughts while George Eliot used a larger palette to create a world with a world.

Yet, there seems to be a trend (or requirement) for writing 500 or more pages as a demonstration of a writer’s prowess.

Jonathan Safran Foer’s  sprawling ‘Here I Am’ is one recent example of a novel that would have greatly benefited from trimming by at least 200 pages.

Jane Smiley’s epic Norse saga is another. Continue reading

The

SHOCK AND AWE – GLAM ROCK AND ITS LEGACY by Simon Reynolds (Faber & Faber,2016)

“Got your mother in a whirl ‘cos she’s not sure if you’re a boy or a girl” – David Bowie (Rebel Rebel)
“Even the greatest stars live their lives in the looking glass” – Kraftwork (Hall Of Mirrors)
“There’s something in the air of which we will all be aware yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah” – Sweet (Teenage Rampage)
“Whatever happened to the heroes?”- The Stranglers (No More Heroes)

glamIt’s fair to say Glam Rock has never really been taken all that seriously. Being casually dismissed as a joke genre is partly what drove Simon Reynolds to write this impressively weighty tome.

In so doing, he proves that this musical phenomenon deserves to be more than just an amusing footnote in the story of popular music. The author doesn’t claim that all the music tagged as Glam (or Glitter is you’re American) is of a universally high standard yet, even at its most crass and commercial, Reynolds endorses the viewpoint of Noel Coward who once wryly observed : “It’s extraordinary how potent cheap music is”. Continue reading

How Beatle people conquered America

EIGHT DAYS A WEEK  directed by Ron Howard (USA, 2016)

beatlesAfter all that has been written, sung and spoken about The Beatles do we really need another feel good film looking at aspects of their meteoric rise and enduring appeal?

Of course we do!

As an official Apple Corps production you know in advance that this will be another adoring, at times superficial, look at how four young men from Liverpool conquered America and the world. Only the most cynical will complain about this.

I guess the time will come when someone will expose a darker side to this rags to riches story that surely exists. The backstabbing that came soon after the band split, notably in John Lennon’s spiteful ‘How Do You Sleep?’, illustrate that life with the Beatle people was not always so shiny and happy as it appeared. Continue reading

Verdena live at Rocca Malatestiana, Cesena – 8th September 2016

verdena1If I had been hipper to the local music scene when I arrived in Italy over 20 years ago I would have been able to follow Verdena from their inception as Nirvana wannabes to the distinctive individuals I witnessed at this stunning open air concert.

My belated appreciation of this excellent band from Bergamo is a good motive for shaking the complacent attitude that goes with smug slogan T-shirt slogans like : ‘I may be old but I got to see all the cool bands’.

I have my daughter to thank for ‘discovering’ this cool band existing right now playing songs from current releases not running through a familiar back catalogue from way back when. Continue reading

CHRISTINE directed by John Carpenter (USA, 1993)

Christine2 “I hate Rock’n’Roll!”  A good pub quiz question would be to name the movie of a Stephen King novel that ends with this statement.

Here it is in ‘Christine’ a mix of high school melodrama and sub-par horror.

The line is spoken by the movie’s human romantic interest, Leigh Cabot (Alexandra Paul) as she mistakes music from the ghetto blaster of a passing scrapyard worker for the car radio of the now crushed and cubed 1958 Plymouth Fury named Christine.

This car’s theme tune is George Thorogood and the Destroyers’ ‘Bad To The Bone’ and its identity is also defined by a series of rock classics. Bored to the bone would be more accurate.
Continue reading

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