A different take on Take Five

Paul Desmond’s Take Five made famous by Dave Brubeck in his 1959 recording is the biggest selling Jazz single in history and is one of my all time favourite jazz standards.  It sounds as fresh today as when it was first recorded.

Here’s an early film of it…

It’s hard to beat but I heard this cover of it on Desert Island discs as the opener from Glaswegian Pakistani poet and artist Imtiaz Dharker.  I would’\t go as far as to say it was in any way superior to the masterful original but it’s certainly entertaining.  I bring you Sachal Studios Orchestra’s sitar rich take on Take Five.  (You’re gonna thank me for this, I promise.)

Take it away boys…

33 years on from Blue Monday the latest New Order 33rpm astounds.
September 26, 2015, 11:59 am
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The name says it all.  Music Complete is the latest, in fact the 10th, New Order Album.

It’s almost inconceivable that a band that was effectively born 39 years ago in 1976 (as Joy Division) can be releasing a dance record as sumptuous, as driving, as beautiful and yes, as danceable as this in 2015.

OK, there’s no Hookie but it hardly matters because Gillian Gilbert and Stephen Morris remain on board for this epic set that’s as good as anything they created in their 80’s heyday.

From the opening beat to the closer it never lets up. Iggy Pop, who started out his career not long before Bernard Sumner, brilliantly guest vocalises on Stray Dog and there are contributions also from La Roux and Brandon Flowers.

‘Closer’ was said, by many, to be a psychic foretelling of the end of Joy Division’s career, let’s hope that Music Complete does not similarly signify the (final) end of four decades of brilliance from surely the greatest group of musicians ever to take Manchester to the world.

Absolutely brilliant and sure to finish 2015 as many people’s album of the year.

Is modern art rubbish? Robert Florczak certainly thinks so.
September 8, 2015, 6:08 pm
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In this passionately argued but humungously pompous and highly opinionated (That’s rich. Ed) five minute video Robert Florczak destroys ALL modern art in a sweeping and ridiculous generalisation.

You have to watch it.

My favourite section in the video is the bit where he explains, in triumph, about this question he poses to his graduate art students.

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He claims that after they have provided eloquent and highly considered answers he reveals that in fact it is not a Jackson Pollock. It’s a close up of his painting apron.

I don’t believe this story. You know why? Because THIS is a Jackson Pollock painting and it doesn’t look even remotely similar.


A point worth noting is that these students are studying art under Robert Florczak who teaches at Prager University.

Yes, exactly. Prager University?

And here is one of his ‘paintings’.

Nothing particularly bad about it, in fact, quite the opposite, but it is modern art (in that it was created at a point after impressionism) and it couldn’t hold a candle to a Caravagio.


Maybe Robert Florczak should be advised to keep his ridiculous generalisations to himself. Or simply stop practicing his art.

Sufjan Stevens, Edinburgh International Festival. Review.


The penultimate night of the Edinburgh Festival saw Sufjan Stevens make one of only two UK appearances in support of his extraordinarily intimate album, Carrie and Lowell.

It’s clear that Stevens is something of a perfectionist as the quality of design, lighting, sound, performance and video were all of a standard I have never experienced in a rock performance in the last 35 years.

This was most dramatically realised in Blue Bucket of Gold; the song that brought the main set to a close.  At around 13 minutes long and with a wig out session that built and built and built, with the most beautiful use of mirror balls that is imaginable, this climax to the show simply took the breath away

(Here it is as performed in Columbus earlier this year)

His band is also remarkable, each one a multi instrumentalist, they float around the stage from instrument to instrument with a minimum of fuss as each song emerges, largely, but not exclusively from Carrie and Lowell, (Vesuvius, from the slightly disappointing Age of Adz, was a crowd pleaser).

Had someone dropped a pin in the Edinburgh Playhouse during some of the quieter numbers, in which you could almost hear Stevens’ heart beat, there’d have been a collective groan so absorbed was the audience in this intense and uplifting musical experience.

Once again I have to applaud Fergus Linehan for his vision in bringing so much contemporary music to this festival.  I saw King Creosote, FFS as well as Sufjan, but sadly missed the Anna Calvi show that I had tickets for.

Each one was a life affirming masterpiece in very, very different ways.

On completion of the show Sufjan came back and played an impromptu set that belied his control freakery because it all went Pete Tong during one of the numbers but NOT during John Wayne Gacy Jr, an all time favourite of mine (a murder ballad as he introduced it).

Not heard it?

You are in for a treat when you watch this…

Thank you Sufjan.  Thank you Fergus.  It was monumental.

Unquestionably *****.

FFS. That was good. (Franz Ferdinand and Sparks at Edinburgh Festival Theatre)
August 25, 2015, 12:09 am
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Pardon the obvious cheap jibe but it HAD to be done.

Franz Ferdinand and Sparks (known as FFS) collaborated on stage tonight in the Edinburgh International Festival and ended their show with the ironic “Collaborations Don’t work”.

Ironic because they do.

Not since Elton John and Kiki Dee has collaboration hit such great heights.

I jest.

Sparks and Franz Ferdinand are made for each other.  Their art school schtick is a perfect match.  Their angsty jittery, jangly synth/guitar combo creates greatness at every turn and, of course, each gets to showcase their three best songs.

Franz chose Take me Out (awesome), Michael (good) and Do you Want to (awesome) to shattering response.

Sparks elected for No 1 Song in Heaven (awesome), This Town ain’t Big Enough for the Both of us (awesome) and When Do I get to sing “my Way” (good).

Frankly the effect of this and their sublime collaboration was almost overwhelming.  This was a truly life affirming gig that anyone in that audience will talk about for years.

Thank you Franz Ferdinand.  Thank you Sparks.  Thank you Edinburgh international Festival.  Thank you Fergus Linehan for your vision to put this on.

Why is the BBC killing the Met Office? Money. That’s Why.
August 23, 2015, 11:20 am
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The John Kettley is a weather man app will be released shortly.  Because from now on although the Met Office will be forecasting the weather it will be broadcast to us by some fucking dot com that will be taking the Met office’s data and delivering it to us through some diaphanous cloud of bits and bytes.

This is the work of evil.

Some fucking BBC procurement officer went home on Friday night to be kissed on the forehead by his ugly wife as she said;

“Hello Henry how was work today?”

“Splendid Daphne. I ended 93 years of brilliant service, scuppered a large number of meteorologists careers and saved the tax payer threepence halfpenny when I appointed to do the weather from now on.”

“Oh Henry you are so adorable.  Shall we make some jam?”

“Yes Daphne.  No, actually, I am so high on adrenalin.  Let’s make…marmalade.”

Whoever Henry is in real life he is to be despised.

Let’s hear it for John Kettley as the BBC procurement team stuff action man sized models of Michael Fish up their anuses.

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour at The Traverse. National Theatre of Scotland.


Alan Warner’s hilarious novel, The Sopranos, has finally made it to the stage with a fancy new name and a soundtrack featuring a phalanx of ELO songs plus a stunning acapella rendition of No Woman No Cry.

The six strong female cast and three female instrumentalists vent more filth and spleen onto the Traverse 1 stage in 100 minutes than a score of submariners could muster in a month at sea.

Name a taboo and it’s delivered with gusto; spunk, jiz, shit, spew, piss and blood all make bawdy appearances in a play that makes Bridesmaids look like Play School.

Adapted by Billy Elliot writer, Lee Hall, and brilliantly directed by Vicky Featherstone it bowls along at 100 miles an hour yet pauses periodically to allow the bitter sweetness of the story to take root. It concerns a day trip from Oban to Edinburgh by the school choir of Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour to take part in an annual choir competition. Given a day to explore Auld Reekie the six characters we follow go apeshit in an orgy of drink, drugs and sex as a long line of male suitors (also played by the girls) have varying degrees of success in attempting to conquest what look like easy challenges but invariably end in failure.

It’s belly laugh out loud from start to finish but has fantastic moments of poignancy and features a number of outstanding vocal performances in keeping with the girls’ status as high-class choristers

I’ve been waiting a long time to see this and the wait was worth every minute. This is certain to be one of the hottest tickets on The Fringe and predictably is completely sold out even before the preview.

But it’s touring throughout Scotland in September so travel as far as you have to, to see this magical production.


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