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Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Oh I definitely plant my banner in the soil next to Dylan Thomas. I've never really enjoyed Hughes; that whole fixation with the barbarity of nature - far too 'blood and soil' for my liking. Not that Thomas isn't fairly bound to the earth as well.

But here's the thing; regardless of content, Hughes just doesn't sound as good as Thomas. Read virtually any Dylan Thomas poem aloud to yourself, and you'll begin to feel enmeshed in the syllables, trapped by them. The rhythm of his poetry is undeniable to anyone capable of being moved by the sound of words. In Wales, its not crows or foxes or even wolves you have to beware when you stumble sheepishly across the page; its the black and white man-trap - the unstoppable phrase.

(Many thanks to Kathryn for making me read 'In Country Sleep' a long time ago) 
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
  Todd's 'I Saw the Light' a guilty pleasure??? A what??? Surely this can't be true, the track listing must be wrong... but if it IS true
Can I just take a moment to call out the compiler of this much-debated CD as a total and utter twat. I can't even begin to imagine why you'd feel guilt about liking one of the most ELEVATING and JOYOUS songs I can think of. No one I know really likes Todd Rundgren though. I have a few friends who respect him, who own a token CD (some even went the whole hog and bought a genuine release rather than the 'Go Ahead, Ignore me' best of, but they are like that anyway and shrink instinctively from the compilation), but certainly in this part of the world, my Toddophilia (teehee) is a plague of one.
Lets get one thing straight now. Music that makes you feel the electricity potent in your nervous system has nothing to do with guilt. You don't have to forgive yourself for grinning at the sentiment and delivery of 'We gotta get you a woman'; these are just tremendous songs, sung by a guy with a beautiful voice and a pretty fucking praise-worthy mastery of 3 minute pop. For God's sake, he was so good at writing these things, he gave it up and started doing more 'challenging' stuff instead (how I hate that word, but it seems the tossers who jeered and walked out of the RFH gig clearly felt it was a challenge beyond their capacity to answer). Anyway, I digress.
Todd's early records are just too damn happy. There's too much transcendence to be found there; too much to make you briefly feel more balanced in the world. You are not encouraged to feel like this any more. The tedious self-regard of the modern musician has nothing to do with joy, and everything to do with an utterly vapid seriousness (realise I am addressing the constituency of THIS specific compilation, all those itching to have a go), and so we arrive at our current malaise. Self-important boys with sharp collars and vintage Fenders, blithely under the mis-apprehension that I give a fuck about their position as inheritors, or champions of a past I hated anyway. Give me Todd. Give me the last two minutes of 'Just One Victory', which always make me feel like someone is brainwashing me into loving my fellow man. It is that serious...
'I want to... change the world'. He sings that. And he MEANS it. And occasionally, that's allowed.

Friday, July 16, 2004
  Aaah, I saw Todd Rundgren at the RFH last night. Although some of the beery 40+ natives who wanted a greatest hits show grumbled (and departed early) it was fantastic. What kind of moron goes to a TR show expecting him to trundle obligingly through his back catalogue? Sure it'd be lovely if it happened, but he's never done it before, so as my companion said, 'you just have to surrender'.
Surrender we did, to Todd's revelatory voice. Its never that noticeable on the records, fine to be sure, but just another instrument among the many. Live is another matter. He can sing. (He can dance too, capering happily from side to side like a orange-suited preacher). 
When one guy sitting infront of me shouted 'play us something we fucking know', Todd replied 'no, we have new musical vistas to explore with you' Quite. But he still gave us a sing-along encore. The lounge version of 'Hello it's Me' was nice, but 'Just One Victory' was the clincher. It probably epitomises everything most people hate about 70s pop; its big, brash, complicated, hopefull and preachy. I never sing at concerts, because my voice is rubbish and I'm too self-conscious. This time I did. It was a wonderful moment, the whole audience on their feet singing along; somehow, some day.
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
  Some Girls

Let's think about this song by Rachel Stevens.
1. It's really good.
2. I've only heard it twice and I'm almost not sure I want to hear it again - the chorus has already expanded to fill my head like a gum balloon and I'm worried if it gets any bigger the whole thing will be spoilt.
3. (I was reminded of this feeling when I watched Morrissey performing 'There Is A Light That Will Never Go Out' at Glastonbury. The first time I heard that song I remember thinking, I don't want to listen to this very much, it will become less special. I remember comparing the song in my head to a silver spoon [wtf was I thinking, I don't know] that you keep in a drawer and only get out for special occasions. Anyway I think 'Some Girls' might be like this too.)
4. Having said that, this isn't something you can really control, and I already find myself hoping, every time a song on the radio ends, that the next song will be 'Some Girls,' even if the previous song was 'Some Girls.'
5. It makes you think what a rubbish criticism 'sugary' is for pop - I mean everyone loves sugar!! And this song makes me go all Bart'n'Milhous on that super-strength Slush Puppy syrup. My EYES are POPping out of my head.
6. Eye-popping is a good image for this song I think. It sounds like its eyes are rolled back in its head and its tongue is lolling out, which is a great look for pop.
7. For some reason it reminds me of 'Step Into My Office, Baby' off the last Belle & Sebastian album (geez, always with the indie comparisons!!), it has that same clod-hopping glam beat and there is something simultaneously cocky and gawky about both songs.
8. This goofiness is a big part of the charm of 'Some Girls,' this everyday smalltown highstreet attitude. Rachel's voice sounds so good - so English! I wish the video featured her working in a shop or an office (you know, a facility girl) but I'm sure it doesn't, it probably features her dancing around a black and neon room.
9. The high street. Girls in bedrooms. Girls hanging around outside the shopping centre on Saturday afternoon. Girls reading Smash Hits and watching Top Of The Pops. This is the tribe I think 'Some Girls' is thinking of in its sound and voice and attitude.
10. For some reason I feel it's a tribe that was more clearly defined in the past than it is now. Wouldn't this song sound a bit, well, naff, to girls like these? I am projecting.
11. The goofiness, the (I guess very artful) artlessness of the sound effects and the (I guess very affected) unaffected vocals are what made me stop short the first time I heard it - this sort of thing just doesn't get made these days, does it?
12. The melody seems to recall/predict some 80s kids TV theme (for a Saturday afternoon show, perhaps.) Richard X's vision of the future is nostalgic for a different vision of the future that never happened. Future nostalgia - this is a k-punk idea isn't it?
13. I've read a bit about this song on various blogs and in some places there's been some really unkind sniping about Rachel Stevens. Jesus she's just singing! Give her a break.
14. (Very incidentally, the fact that I think Rachel's voice is so good on this song makes me think about S Club 7. There's a huge gulf isn't there, between the cheery, rosy-cheeked, thumbs-up singles like 'Bring It All Back To You' and 'Reach' and the cool, sophisticated, grown-up (inverted commas ommitted for purposes of not sounding like a twat) singles like 'S Club Party' and 'Don't Stop Movin.' At the time I think I preferred the latter but in the light of 'Some Girls' I think I'll reassess that judgement.)
15. Right. Some Girls. So it's wide-eyed and lop-sided and goofy and naff and it's very Saturday afternoon pop. It's easily my favourite song of 2004. 
Monday, July 12, 2004
  I wish I knew what I know now

I think the ending of Rushmore is supposed to be uplifting, as Max and the rest of the characters begin to dance in delicate slow-motion to the opening slightly off-key chords of 'Ooh la la' by the faces, but am I the only one who finds this whole scene inexpressibly sad? I had to watch an episode of Futurama when I finished watching it again the other night, just to cheer me up. But then again, my mother always said I was an emotional child. 
Friday, July 02, 2004

Koons really does this he's Michelangelo would that make his famous metallic bunny sculpture his Pieta Rabbit
Thursday, July 01, 2004
  Now I know she is pretty much the apotheosis of canonicity, which doesn't generally play well in this parish, but Carole King's voice is just sublime, comforting and enveloping in the best possible way.

Eventually I might get around to writing more than a brief meaningless paragraph. I have something half written about 'Lolita' which I might finish once there's no football to distract me.  


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