Music Notes January 2009

January 21, 2009 at 11:34 pm (Uncategorized)

This month’s listings of things of interest in a musical vein.

1. Elastica – Wasn’t that first Elastica album great? Wire meets the Stranglers with cool sexy Justine Frishman fronting the band. Then after so many years came The Menace.  No, no, it’s not a bad album. It might even be a good first album. But after a brilliant  first album, it felt, well, a bit of a let down. Turn instead to the The Radio One Sessions CD. 21 lovely alternative versions including a simply fabulous version of Vaseline. Ah to be young and cool again.

2. And speaking of the Stranglers… The Stranglers were the first bad I ever fell in love with (an odd choice I know). I heard Peaches on Radio 1  when I was about 12, and laughed like mad (even though I had no idea what the title meant – that came later). The first Punk record I bought was Black & White. Then Rattus Novegicusand the rest.  The first issue of the new Musical Express I bought had Hugh Cornwell on the cover, so it seems fitting to mention here that his new album  Hooverdam is available as a free download. I don’t think it’s anywhere near as good as anything he did with the Stranglers, but for free,it’s worth a listen.

3. And speaking of old punks with new albums, the new Wreckless Eric album Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby is quite lovely. And it’s on Stiff Records for the first time in many many years. Thank you whoever put Whole Wide World in that Will Farell movie for making Eric a wealthy man. (Horrible graphics on the website though!)

4. The Kills have recorded an exclusive five song session for I-tunes. Includes a cover of Patsy Cline’s Crazy. Ooh, I love this band. Midnight Boom was one of my favourites last night. Grimey, sloppy, bluesy. Lovely. I’m not sure how I feel about the “exclusive to” concept. I suppose the band get more money that way, but I’ve never liked having to buy from one place; although I bought that Dylan bootleg from Starbucks without a second thought. I’m also not crazy about the digital revolution. The sound is not as good, and it just feels slight when it’s intangible. (Note to self- sure sign of aging here) Anyway, the Kills’ piece is worth picking up.

5. I-tunes DRM. But speaking of I-tunes… Like many I’ve bought from I-tunes. Well, I received an email yesterday telling me that I could upgrade my complete I-tunes library to DRM free (i-tunes plus!) for a few bucks. Hmm, Lemmie see. When I bought some of these songs they were copy protected. They cost the same price as the DRM free songs. Now, you’re offering me the opportunity to buy them again? Erm, shouldn’t  you just give them out? Am I naive?  For years I-tunes tried to restrict file sharing through this format, but it seems as if they’ve now given up. Never forget the second word in the phrase music business.

6.  Last week, I watched La Vie en Rose, the Edith Piaf biography. Simply tremendous. The music soars. It’s not actress Marian Cotillard singing, but her performance as Piaf is spellbinding. Great talent, miserable life. Does great art always have to be tragic?

7. And then last night, I watched Blow up, the Antonioni movie. It’s a very stylish movie that is simultaneously dated, and still very cool and current. The plot revolves around David Hemmings as a David Bailey like photographer in swinging London. While photographing a woman and her boyfriend in a park, the photographer accidentally catches a murder in his lens. The film has a lot to say about the images, and reality and the interaction between the two. What’s also interesting is the club scene which features the Yardbirds. When was the last time you saw Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page on stage? Beck smashes his guitar, which incidentally the Yardbirds did not do. The soundtrack is by Herbie Hancock. Dee-lite stole one of the riffs for Groove is in the Heart.

8.  I’m not There – A lot of people had mixed feelings about the Todd Haynes movie about the lives of Bob Dylan. I liked it. I felt I needed to listen to The Basement Tapes non-stop and re-read Griel Marcus’ book Invisible Republic. There’s a two CD soundtrack of incredible talent too. John Doe, Wilco, Eddie Vedder, Sonic Youth, Tom Verlaine, Los Lobos, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot and more. Like most soundtracks, it doesn’t always work, but a lot of it is very good indeed.

9 Buzzcocks, Buzzcocks, Buzzcocks. EMI has re-issued theie first three albums as double sets with lots of bonus tracks. Sixteen again!

10. Primal Scream – Well, I’ve only been waiting nine years for this. I bought my first Primal Scream record, Exterminator,  around the time my daughter was born.  The news that the band is playing their only Canada in Toronto in March led me to put aside my hatred of Ticketmaster and rush to buy a ticket.  I told a friend and he sniffed, “hmm, which Primal Scream?” Good question. The Scream seem to change on every album. On a first listen, I didn’t care so much for the new one, but time will tell. Primal Scream play the Phoenix on March 24.

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