I have to confess, I’ve always had a gutteral dislike for Malcolm McLaren. But I suppose his recent passing does warrant some comment. Perhaps the best comment, though, is not any direct hagiography or corpse-kicking, but rather a reflection on some small, bizarre part of his life and career. Roger Ebert, who once collaborated with McLaren on an unfilmed Sex Pistols movie, offers this great explication of the project.
“Malcolm McLaren appeared with Russ in my room at the Marquis. He was a ginger-haired, wiry man in his 30s, who wore a “Destroy” T-shirt and leather pants equipped with buckles and straps. These were, I learned, the infamous Bondage Pants he introduced at SEX, the celebrated Kings Road boutique he ran with his romantic partner Vivienne Westwood. The T-shirt was also hers. The pants offered the ultimate on bondage convenience. When the mood struck, you didn’t have to rummage about for belts and braces; all your needs were built in. On his feet he wore what Russ approvingly noted were Brothel Creepers.”
Definitely read the whole thing.
Intro: Happy Inauguration Day! I’m a little bitter that I didn’t get today (or, indeed, yesterday) off from work.
Listening: I’ve been listening a lot this past week to two disparate artists. On the one hand, I’ve been going through all my Sonic Youth albums with gusto (Rather Ripped = crazy brilliant!). On the other hand, I finally got around to grabbing Lady Sovereign’s Public Warning. So between Sonic Youth’s grinding, fuzzy Noise Rock and Lady Sovereign’s thumping, slurred Grime, I guess I’m just not digging clear sounds this week.
I have to confess, I’m really sort of digging the whole Grime thing. I love the use of random, odd sounds, and the dark bass-heavy sound. Combine that with the fact that I’m a sucker for a well-syncopated sound and Grime kind of hits all my “get up and dance” buttons. Check out this track (called “Random”) off Public Warning:
Upcoming: Next week we get new albums from Franz Ferdinand and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. As far as I’m concerned those both qualify as Good Things. The week after that sees releases from The Fray and The Von Bondies.
Thinking: Thanks to the magic of NetFlix, I finally got a chance to see The Future Is Unwritten, the biopic of Joe Strummer that Julien Temple put out a few years ago. If you don’t mind Temple’s somewhat heavy-handed style of film making, then the film is really well done. Probably the most compelling part of it are bonfire-side interviews with artists who played with Strummer (not only in the Clash, but in his other bands) and entertainers who had been inspired by him. If you’re a fan of Strummer himself or of the Clash, it’s definitely worth watching.
News: Well, those clever bastards over at Microsoft have finally put an end to that annoying trend of music requiring actual work to produce. Their new Songsmith software completely obviates the need for all that annoying “writing music” and “playing instruments” bullshit. Just sing into a microphone and Songsmith will generate the perfect backing music for you. And as long as you’re okay with your songs sounding like they were produced by a 6-year-old with some turntables and several pounds of blow, you’re all set. Case in point? Here’s Songsmith’s version of Oasis’ “Wonderwall”:
In less appalling news, a journalist and filmmaker by the name of Alan Parker is set to release a documentary which attempts to exonerate Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious of the murder of his girlfriend. It’ll be interesting to see what, after all these years, he’s been able to come up with. The film is called Who Killed Nancy? and it’s slated to be released February 6th. I’m quite intrigued to see what Mr. Parker has to say.
Song of the Week: Sonic Youth’s “Teenage Riot”, the lead track off their Daydream Nation album:
Intro: Well, folks, unfortunately going to be a short one tonight. Work, as always, has me slammed and since I’m working with clients in the Eastern time zone, it means an early morning tomorrow. So here’s a condensed Playlist for you which will have to tide you over until next week or until things calm down enough that I can post a little more frequently.
Listening: The past month or so I’ve really just been listening to old favorites. I think that after almost a year of buying and listening heavily to a new album every week I was kind of craving some of the classics. This week it’s mainly been Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia by the Dandy Warhols and a selection of my favorite Cure tracks/albums.
First off, I really have to say that Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia is the most underrated albums of the past decade. I honestly think that it’s musically and satirically brilliant. The opener “Godless” to the closer “The Gospel” and peaking with the much-loved single “Bohemian Like You” it really is a masterful sendup of turn-of-the-millennium hipster culture and modern society as a whole. Add to that that it’s full of absolutely masterful rock tunes and you have one of the best rock albums of the new millennium.
Secondly, the Cure. Top 5 Cure tunes. Anyone want to play? Mine are as follows:
1.) “Lovesong” (This is as much because I associate it with someone very special as anything else, but it is a brilliant tune.)
2.) “Grinding Halt” (The Cure do Punk back when Punk was still important? Yes, please!)
3.) “alt.end” (“There’s a big, bright, beautiful world/Just the other side of the door.” Yeah, I think we can all relate sometimes.)
4.) “The Lovecats” (Maybe I’m just weird like that, but I kind of want this song played at my wedding.)
5.) “Killing an Arab” (The Cure riff on Camus; what’s not to like?)
Upcoming: Haven’t really seen anything exciting coming up. I have, however, heard great things about the Hold Steady, so I may need to grab the album they released last week. Also, I’m still loving Beck’s latest and I’m planning to review it as soon as I get a chance.
Oh, and then there’s the new Paul Westerberg album. I’ve never been a huge Replacements or Paul Westerberg fan (pardon me while I dodge brickbats from the audience), personally, but it’s there if you’re into that kind of thing.
News: The new Paul Westerberg (late of the Replacements) album that I mentioned above is for sale through Amazon for only $.49. That’s right, less than half a dollar. The whole thing’s a bit gimmicky: a single-track album, called 49:00, for sale for $.49, on July 19th (or as the calender-impaired Westerberg claims: June 49th). Inexplicably, Mr. Westerberg shies at the last gate: the monotractual (it’s a word now!) album clocks in at just 43:55.
Thinking: Why is everyone surprised that John Lydon’s been implicated in a racist dust-up? This is a man who, along with Sid Vicious and co., defined the public shock-persona. At this point, it doesn’t matter whether John Lydon is or isn’t racist; people are scandalized that Johnny Rotten might be. And really, that’s what matters, I think, as far as Lydon/Rotten is concerned.
Song of the Week: Here’s The Cure’s “Grinding Halt” (off their 1979 debut Three Imaginary Boys) accompanied by an awesome stop-motion video done by youtube user badhill:
So apparently John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) either is or is not a racist. Basically all any of the articles on the topic say for sure is that Kele Okereke got beaten. Would it surprise me if John Lydon were racist? Not particularly. But it wouldn’t surprise me if he weren’t, either. As a rule, anything involving John Lydon, Gene Simmons, Madonna, Bono, or any member of the Rolling Stones is best considered a publicity stunt until proven otherwise.
More good news from the Music Industry Adaptation department: new EMI executive Guy Hands (best. name. EVAR) has told his new charge that they need to “embrace digital music or die“. Nice to see the head of one of the major labels grokking that little bit of wisdom.
To celebrate, here’s the Sex Pistols performing their take on the label, “E.M.I”: