This is one of the greatest Live Bands on earth captured in HD and on fire. An important group for our times.
I’m doing some work with this band. They’re a brilliant electro, rock, hip hop, rap bfour-piece from Edinburgh and Fife.
You need to hear them.
Their greatest song.
One of the greatest post-punk songs ever recorded.
Apparently The Cure have played it over 1,000 times live.
I wondered who else might boast such a record.
Rolling Stones sprung to mind.
But the Cure are closing in…
Ah, but they have some way to go to catch ACDC…
Or Elton John…
Or, The Boss…
David Hepworth has researched a thoroughly entertaining and rapid-fire read in this paean to 1971. The title is accurately describes its content which is a cultural contextualisation of why, in his and presumably many others’, view, in 1971, from a musical point of view you’d never had it so good and, as it transpires in Hepworth’s mind, never did again.
He makes a strong case.
It’s fundamentally a pivot year in musical history. Both rock and roll and pop have established themselves and ‘buying records’ is now a common practice. Indeed it has replaced going to the cinema which is facing the low point in its history as TV and music have replaced the big screen in young people’s affections.
Furthermore the shift has begun to swing from 45’s (singles) to 33’s (LP’s), those beautiful 12″ platters that we thought had been consigned to history until Generation X discovered them to cover cracks in their bedroom walls.
This is a new dawn for music and it’s the year when many genres are emerging or evolving into more mature manifestations of their sixties’ inspiration.
The list of seminal 1971 records is not to be sniffed at (not all of these make Hepworth’s list). I’ve picked out my own favourites in bold but there is so much to choose from. It’s an embarrassment of riches:
- Janis Joplin’s Pearl
- Tapestry by Carole King
- The Yes Album
- Tago Mago by Can
- Aqualung by Jethro Tull
- Tanz Der Lemminge by Amon Düll II
- LA Woman and Other Voices by The Doors
- War by War
- Sticky Fingers by The Rolling Stones
- The Stones also released their first ever compilation (a new thing at the time) this year
- Maybe Tomorrow by The Jackson 5
- Bryter Later by Nick Drake
- Thin Lizzy by Thin Lizzy
- Relics and Meddle by Pink Floyd
- Every Picture Tells a Story by Rod Stewart
- Ram – Paul (and Linda) McCartneys’ first solo album
- Marvin Gaye’s astonishing What’s Going On
- Man in Black by Johnny Cash
- Home Made by The Osmonds (the first real ‘boy band’ unless you consider the Jacksons as such – certainly the beginning of teen pop.)
- Joni Mitchell’s seminal Blue
- Surrender by Diana Ross
- Every Good Boy Deserves Favour by The Moody Blues
- Fireball by Deep Purple
- Shaft Soundtrack by Isaac Hayes
- Who’s Next – The Who’s best record
- Surf’s Up – The Beach Boys mark II
- Aretha’s Greatest Hits
- Electric Warrior by T Rex
- Judee Sill by Judee Sill
- Trafalgar by Bee Gees
- Teaser and the Firecat by Cat Stevens
- Hawkwind’s In Search of Space
- American Pie by Don Mclean
- Fog on the Tyne by Lindisfarne
- Reflection by Pentangle
- Tupelo Honey by Van the Man
- Zep 4
- Nursery Cryme by Genesis
- There’s a riot going’ on by Sly and the Family Stone
- Muskel Hillbillies by The Kinks
- Two Earth Wind and Fire albums
- People Like Us by The Mamas and the Papas – pre-Ham sandwich?
- Pictures at an Exhibition by ELP (their second of the year)
- Islands by King Crimson
- The Concert for Bangladesh (live) by George Harrison and friends – the precursor to Live Aid etc
- The Electric Light Orchestra
- Wild Life by Wings
And… on December 17th the greatest recording of all time. Hunky Dory by David Bowie.
There’s 14 albums in bold there, more than one a month. (And I was only 9 year’s old at the time so I have had to discover every one of them retrospectively).
My Sweet Lord by George Harrison was the top selling single of the year, Imagine by John Lennon was runner up and Maggie May by Rod Stewart got the bronze. (Brown Sugar was fifth).
By any reckoning that’s a powerhouse of music with the emergence of AOR, Prog and heavy metal. A golden year for folk. Seminal soul records (Shaft and What’s Going on in particular.) And the emergence of ‘Krautrock’ (Can and Amon Düll were contemporaries of Kraftwerk) which was to, in turn, influence the last 30 years’ dance music.
Hepworth tells this story month-by-month, cleverly cross-referencing collaborators, rock histories and using back stories to spice up the drug addled goings on of The Who, The Stones, Clapton and many more.
He drops in other cultural references, from cinema primarily, and peppers it with the politics of the time.
It’s an authoritative read with several eyebrow raising moments.
For real music lovers (like me) I’d go as far as to say it’s essential reading. Hepworth’s style has its faults but I’ll forgive those for the quality of his research. I’m not surprised it won 2016’s music book of the year in eight different newspapers.
Highly recommended (for music lovers.)
I don’t actually agree that it’s the greatest year of all time, but that doesn’t really matter.
I think 1979 saw a similar confluence of happenings. (If you want evidence of that check out NME’s 1979 albums of the year. It’s jaw dropping – London Calling only made number 8!)
- The emergence of the new and highly influential post punk movement – Talking Heads Fear of music won NME”s coveted album of the year, PIL’s Metal Box was #2 and Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasure’s taking the bronze)
- But with ‘Punk’ also maturing in its own right
- The end of disco but still at creative high – 3 of the Top ten singles were disco (Gloria Gaynor, The Jackson 5 and Sheila B. Devotion)
- Coventry Ska
- Bowie still there
- The emergence of electronica – Human League made the list with Reproduction
What do YOU think?
Last Saturday Jeana and I were in London visiting our daughter. We decided to join a free street art and graffiti tour (we ALWAYS do free tours because we think, rightly or wrongly the guide has to perform well to get their fee- in our experience they always do).
This was no exception, indeed it was at the top end of the scale. Of course, you have to have an interest in street art to start with. I do.
We met at the excellent Exmouth Coffee Company in Whitechapel High Street where we enjoyed a discount.
Our tour guide was Gregory, an accomplished graffiti artist himself, and it was obvious from the off that he knew what he was talking out with very clear explanations of the art of ‘the tag’, the difference between street art and graffiti, the lengths artists have to go to (tagging) to gain a reputation and respect from their peers and then a brilliant tour of tucked away gems in the streets of Tower Hamlets (Brick Lane, Shoreditch and the likes).
It’s a cracking two hours with some real highlights.
Take this beautiful commissioned piece, which began our tour, by comic artist Phlegm who’s based in Sheffield. It beautifully follows the counters of the wall in which it is painted.
Gregory told us about the fact that tagging over art like this is called ‘Fame bombing’.
Next up was this tribute to the film ‘Up’ by Fanakapan who specialises in ‘helium’ art.
We visited the incredible Nomadic Community Garden, near to Shoreditch train station just off Brick Lane with its legal street art and graffiti wall where we saw the brand new work of PAD.
In the garden we saw some great stuff…
The Nomadic Community Garden’s feature wall is the highlight, and is ever changing.
Random stuff in Brick Lane.
This concrete sculpture by Portuguese artist Vhils is incredible. He actually carves INTO the concrete to create 3D images that are stunning.
A cheeky wee Banksy.
This technique is called ‘Pissing’: water bottles are filled with paint and you squeeze them betweeen your legs: it makes for an easy way to paint at height.
Here we are on our tour beside this great piece by Ben Eine which sticks a finger up to the Shoreditch property developers whose office overlooks this piece (Extortionists).
Look at how this piece by Long Island spray paint artist BK Foxx uses the jagged bricks of the building to create the hat. Amazing.
And this Heron/crane by renowned artist Roa is just beautiful.
And my old mate Clet Abraham is hard at work on London’s street signs.
We finished the tour at King John Court and New Inn Road at the HQ of Colt where the biggest street art mural in Britain has recently been completed by 16 artists.
And this piece by Nomad Clan.
I spotted a few more beauties after the tour was over.
No ordinary pop documentary, reads the poster, but M.I.A. is no ordinary pop star.
If you’ve not see it before this video for Born Free is a shocking centrepiece to the documentary.
I have been a fan of Maya Arulpragasam (AKA M.I.A) for over a decade now so this film came as a pleasant surprise. Allegedly it’s been over a decade in the making and the relationship between Maya and the filmmaker, Steve Loveridge, has been, to say the least, “challenging”.
She’s a bloody difficult woman, as it reveals.
The daughter of the founder of the Tamil Tigers, a terrorist minority resistance group that was formed in 1976, she had to flee her home land of Sri Lanka in 1986 to set up home in London with her mother, brother and sister while her dad fought the good fight in the face of what she claims was ‘ethnic cleansing’. It was ten years before she met her father again.
Clearly she has inherited her father’s sense of justice and fighting spirit.
Basing her unique style of hip hop on political oppression she has been an unlikely success, rising to top the Billboard dance charts and performing alongside Madonna at the Super Bowl where she raised her middle finger to camera and in doing so enraged the NFL so much that they sued her for $16.6 million.
Her right to be angry is, in my opinion, quite reasonable but clearly her detractors think it is a stunt as she has gathered considerable wealth since her politically oppressed immigrant days.
For me, her wealth is irrelevant.
The documentary is a curate’s egg. Some of it rambles almost incoherently, using found footage on dodgy VHS tape from her childhood, some of it is expertly shot. Its timeline is also so scattergun as to be quite confusing at times and this jolts the narrative. At times one wonders what the point really is.
She doesn’t shirk criticism, but the reaction of the NFL on American TV drew loud guffaws from the audience I was in at their petty outrage. It’s certainly a precursor to Colin Kaepernick’s ‘Taking the Knee’ and a good, if a little childish, one at that.
Madonna was not overly happy.
For fans of M.I.A. this is a must see, for others I doubt you will be engrossed.
For me, even as a fan, it took a good hour to reel me in. But once there I was sold.
“If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction.” Act 3.
I urge those potential audience members unfamiliar with this play (like me) to read the Wiki (or other) synopsis two or three times before you come along to this outstanding production, because it is thoroughly deceptive and even more enthralling than Jed Mercurio’s “The Bodyguard” that is thrilling British TV audiences right now.
It’s a Shakespearian comedy, verging, at times, on farce. And one can immediately understand why Ade Edmondson was cast as Malvalio in last year’s Royal Shakespeare production. It’s a high comedy role but needs considerable light and shade to work throughout. Unquestionably this is achieved in bucket loads by Christopher Green here in Edinburgh (transferring as a Co-Pro to Bristol Old Vic for a month from 17 October), he’s the star turn in a simply brilliant ensemble.
He certainly lives up to his famous line…
“Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.”
But my God it’s complicated. Take this for a start.
In Shakespeare’s original (which this stays true to script-wise if not cast-wise). Viola cross-dresses as a man to chase (but fall in love with) Olivia on behalf of his boss Orsino. Viola having been cast adrift from her almost identical looking twin brother Sebastian.
Now, get what Wils Wilson does.
Viola is a black female. That’s fine
Her identical brother, Sebastian, though, is a white female. So they couldn’t possibly be mistaken as the same person.
Olivia. That’s straightforward, she’s a white female. Easy.
Orsino is a black female, not male.
So the love triangle is now three females, two of colour and the “identical twin”, also female, is white. That makes the finale tricky if you aren’t concentrating.
Let’s chuck in Lord Tobi Belch. Not a Lord. A lady. Which makes his, sorry her, suitoring of the maid, Maria, very 21st century.
I don’t say any of this to pass judgement because it’s a key constituent of what makes this production so enthralling. But it’s complicated (as if it wasn’t anyway.)
So we have sex and skin colour deviations from the source material but we also, as you might expect, have a time-shift to deal with. It’s set in the summer of love (1960’s sometime) at a party, or perhaps in a commune, where the bored or drugged partygoers suggest they “do” Twelfth Night.
That then places the musical ensemble, led with gusto by the one off that is Aly Macrae, in a musical nirvana which is a huge opportunity for composer Meilyr Jones (who also plays Curio).
And it has to be great because, after all, as the bard himself says (Act 1 scene 1) “If music be the food of love, play on.”
It is, and they do.
In fact the music is outstanding, immediately likeable, tuneful and with a real groove (I loved it) and it gifts Curio, Feste (brilliant performance by Dylan Read) and Auguecheek (Guy Hughes) almost unlimited show stopping moments.
Feste had us rolling in the aisles – at one point we were treated to a Marti Feldman moment that is burned onto my retina.
I cared a little less for Dawn Seivewright’s Lady Tobi as I felt it was just a little too 100% full on, although it is a massive performance.
The set design by Ana Inés Jabares-Pita – try saying that after a few Chardonnays doll – is enthralling and remains beautiful throughout.
The costumes are triumphal.
And, of course, the whole thing would just be a conundrum wrapped up in an enigma without the brilliant direction and vision of director Wils Wilson.
This is gonna be a great export from Scotland when it hits Bristol later this year. In the meantime fellow Scots, get yersel’ along.