.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Reading Writing

I'm not in the mood, really, but thought I'd post some quick thoughts on my recent reading. It's always useful to look back on this blog as a sort on repository of memories - it is mostly talking to myself after all. The following are reviews from my Shelfari page and are more aides de memoire than anything else.

Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" - John Lydon, 1978


The Bridge of San Luis Rey - Thornton Wilder

A brief, beautifully written masterpiece which strikes me as a forefather of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mary Lavin. Full of quotable sentences and a testament to the love that gives meaning to life.





Saturday, 18 December 2010

Wrestling


My first trip to an Arthouse screening was to see Rumblefish in the then Curzon cinema on Abbey Street. The cinema was later to be my workplace, both as The Curzon and in it's later incarnation as the Lighthouse but at the time I wasn't thinking about that (it hadn't happened) I was thinking that Mickey Rourke was surely the coolest man on the planet, at least in his incarnation as The Motorcycle Kid.

For years I wore grey v-necked jumpers, second hand jackets and only saw the world in black and white. He was the older brother I wished I had (or was?).

Cosmic Captain

When I had just turned eighteen I went to London for the summer. It was and I guess remains a crucial time in my life story with good and bad things happening and my horizons broadening at a terrifying yet exhilarating speed.

One of the most exciting things that I picked up that summer was an L.P. (sure beats STD's) from a library in Morden which (shame on me!) remains in my possession. It was Safe as Milk, the first Captain Beefheart album and it remains just as exciting today.

The sound (that Ry Cooder slide) the lyrics, the VOICE, the seriously playful wordplay and intonation.

This was Gram Parson's cosmic american music and now the Captain has set sail for the outer limits of that cosmos.

Well I was born in the desert came on up from New Orleans
Came up on a tornado sunlight in the sky
I went around all day with the moon sticking in my eye


Thursday, 25 November 2010

New National Anthem

As another chapter is written into the Book of Invasions as the IMF and the EU become the latest wave of invaders to storm the shores I would like to respectfully suggest a new National Anthem.

"Lay down your silver and your gold.
I'm a man who can't be sold.
And, even when my heart grows cold,
I'll curse your evil stranglehold."





Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The National Death

I keep thinking of Saul Bellow's great Herzog when I sit down to write a blog. The titular character is constantly drafting letters on all sorts of subjects but never finishing or posting them. Is this irritability with the world a function of male middle age. For some I fear it is.

I am one of them and my advice is to read no further. This is the verbal equivalent of bursting a boil. It should have ended up in the wastepaper basket. And many many people are saying these things.


Irritability with the world has a very clear target in Ireland at the moment. Vast sums of money in excess of what the government earns or can draw on have been guaranteed to the very financial system which caused the recent shock to the world economy. These people have now refused to lend to Ireland at rates which could possibly be afforded and driven us into the warm embrace of the IMF and the EU.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

til the money runs out

You just can't seem to get away from the rumblings of national bankruptcy these days and some songs suggest themselves as a soundtrack.




Thursday, 4 November 2010

Ain't That Good News

I have just finished reading John Pilger's collection of some of the best in investigative journalism since the Second World War. Ezra Pound famously said that literature is news that stays news. By that criteria there is a lot of literature here.

There are many crimes outlined here, and in a way that pushes you to face the truth that is often obvious but usually ignored.

Dachau, Hiroshima, McCarthyism, Cambodia, Mai Lai, Beiruit, Rwanda, Checnya, Iraq, how our food is produced, american funerals, how drug companies and governments try to hide their actions behind a wall of disinformation and secrecy etc etc.

The way in which words can be used to hide the truth is examined relentlessly perhaps nowhere better than in an extract from Robert Fisks magesterial Pity the Nation where he stumbles onto the scene of a massacre in a Palestinian refugee camp in Beiruit and meets some eternal companions of death.

"If we did not move quickly enough, they bit us. Mostly they stayed around our heads in a grey cloud, waiting for us to assume the generous stillness of the dead. They were obliging, these flies, forming our only physical link with the victims who lay around us, reminding us that there is life in death. Someone benefits. The flies were impartial. It mattered not the slightest that the bodies here had been victims of mass murder. The flies would have performed  in just this way for the unburied dead of any community. Doubtless it was like this on hot afternoons during the Great Plague."

Monday, 1 November 2010

Addictive Tunes

Listening to the great Buzzcocks album Another Music from a Different Kitchen I was particularly struck by I Need and it's great dissectation of all forms of consumption :

"The things I used to want - I need"

It inspired a quick (and short) playlist on addiction that I place here for your delectation. Addiction and withdrawal.


Monday, 25 October 2010

Peeling in the Years

Today has been designated keepingitpeel day and the idea is that people blog about music from a Peel session or share links to Peel Sessions etc.

It's hard to think of what music to blog about as Peel was so central to my introduction to music. I started listening about 1979/80 when I was 11/12 years of age and still hear things that bring me back to lying in bed with the radio on low listening to Peel introducing yet another of the bands that would form part of my musical constellation over the rest of my life.

Subway Sect, Wire, Magazine, PIL, Dexys, Specials, Madness, Desperate Bicycles, The Slits, The Skids, Augustus Pablo... the list is long. Many times in later years I would listen to something and it would be familiar from  Peel and some of the many cassettes I would make on my cheap tape recorder and a sixties radio something like the ones above. If my music taste is eclectic this was the source.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Look, Know

The past week has seen the birth of my third child, a beautiful baby girl. It is such a miraculous event it is impossible to explain. You are so privileged as a parent.

But then the responsibility hits. This child needs a name. And many people will want to have an input.

Family, celebrity, historical hero.....where will inspiration lie?

Initial suggestions include some of the earlier mythical women, versions of Eve and my daughter suggests Pandora.

And now for the
                                          TANGENT


Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Incense and Mirrors


The whole issue of religion has been taking up a bit more space in my head these last few days than in quite a while. I have been reading Richard Dawkins' 'The God Delusion' and hearing all about the visit of Josef Ratzinger to the UK.

It also reflects on my last blog and religion is, I think a central part of belonging. The central part of belonging is a shared body of assumptions, often without basis in reality. Other religions can seem bizarre even to those who are religious but it is often difficult to see this about the religion that you are brought up in. Dawkin’s puts forward a few possible evolutionary reasons why religion prospers including the need to believe and act on your parent’s instructions unquestioningly (in early human society).

Personally I feel that one of our great evolutionary strengths is our need for an answer and perhaps our weakness is reliance on ‘faith’ where there is no obvious answer. However this weakness doesn’t necessarily have any negative affect. It didn’t affect pastoral communities to believe that the earth was the centre of the universe or that it was flat.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Shot By Both Sides





Abstinence makes the heart grow weaker. A Speculation.

It has got quite a lot of good press for the drinks industry, the study that shows that heavy drinkers live longer than non-drinkers. The number of factors that could be influencing this are myriad, including probable funding bias. The most likely reason is, however the relationship between the size of peoples network of friends and their health. We need to have positive interaction with others to help keep our brains in healthy working order, apparently. We need to feel a sense of belonging. Try feeling that when you’re out with a group of drinkers in a pub on a Friday and you’re the only one not drinking.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Call me Myself - Claire Keegan, Pat McCabe and some rambling shite

Original Post - Thursday, August 26, 2010

I recently read Clare Keegan’s collection of short stories Walk the Blue Fields and was impressed by the clarity and stylistic mastery displayed within. It is a mastery within the tradition of the short story writers and I had thought McGahern a number of times before arriving at Surrender (after McGahern) based upon his memoirs.

The books cover is replete with the acclaim of critics and her peers. “Already touched by greatness” “exceptional” “genius” Raymond Carver”  etc. It started me thinking about the things that make a writer “great”. One thing felt wrong for me – I wasn’t sure that the writer was really consumed by the voices within the stories (and I wasn’t wholly consumed myself). They felt self-consciously like ‘great short stories’.

MicroMansions on Arbour Hill - Cathal Coughlan

Monday, August 16, 2010
It was my great good fortune to get an invitation to go along to see a low key solo performance from one of the heroes of Irish rock yesterday afternoon. At the very civilized hour of five pm Cathal Couglan performed a set in an artists studio in Stoneybatter to a small audience. This was in part to warm up for a series of forthcoming gigs that are lined up.

The performance was coruscating, like the darkest  of Weimar Cabaret on steroids. Old and new songs sat together with The Loyaliser from Fatima Mansions days and Rat Poison Rendevous from the far more recent Flannery’s Mounted Head show being particular standouts. (I almost wrote Slattery's Mounted Foot (Val Doonican standard))

Of Time and the City

Original Post - Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Of Time and the City - Terence Davies

I have just finished watching Terence Davies inspiring Of Time and the City, a poetic montage of archival footage of the Liverpool of his memory. Davies was born a working class catholic into poverty in Liverpool in 1945 and left in 1973. The film charts in a very subjective way the ‘history’ of Liverpool in that era.

As well as archive there is a voiceover which also uses quotes and poetry, both Davies own, Shelley and an excerpt from Eliot’s Four Quartets amoung others. There is an almost ecstatic surrender to memory and the emotional impact of human endurance in the face of hardship.

Sweet Smell of Evil & Touch of Success

Original Post - Monday, August 09, 2010
The Sweet Smell of Evil

 Just watched The Sweet Smell of Success again on television last night. So good I didn’t even doze off despite it ending well after midnight when dozing is an almost unavoidable hazard.

It’s years since I saw it and I had forgotten just how good it is, particularly the translucent cinematography of James Wong Howe. The look, I have since read, was achieved in part by putting oil on the walls of the studio.

That Finnish Beat

Original Post - Monday, July 26, 2010

I’m currently reading Kerouac’s On The Road which has long been a glaring omission from the books I’ve read. I have long felt that I had missed the boat not reading it as a teenager as it has a place as a teenage rite of passage. However it’s rapturous embrace of ‘the American night’ brings back memories of  my own youth and although Dublin to Galway and back doesn’t quite match the continental scale of Kerouac’s peregrinations you make do with what you got.

I may return to On The Road in a later ramble but it was reading it that led me to see Taisto, the hero of Kaurismaki’s Ariel as archetypically beat, as I understand Kerouac to use the word. The world pisses on him but he can’t be bothered to put up an umbrella.

He loses his job when the mine he works in is closed. He then goes for a drink with his father who gives him the keys to his Cadillac convertible, tells him to leave and heads into the pub toilet and shoots himself. Like the Rain Dogs in the song by late era Beat Poet Tom Waits, he's out on the street and the rain has washed away the scent of home.

The Inspirations of George Lucas

Original Post - Wednesday, July 14, 2010


The Short film George Lucas in Love creates a myth of creation for Star Wars and is very funny. It's well worth watching if you haven't seen it and have ten minutes to spare.

The reason I was reminded of this film is that I have just been reading The Witches of Karres which seems to be the likely source for a number of the elements that make up the aforesaid blockbuster.

Hammering the Anvil

Original Post - Saturday, July 10, 2010

Have had the Anvil DVD on the shelf for a long time but finally got around to watching it a few days ago. It had so much press it was hard not to have preconceptions. I expected Spinal Tap with heart but that doesn't quite capture the experience.

'The Death of Bunny Monroe' - Disco of the Damned

Original Post - Sunday, July 04, 2010

I just read Nick Cave's The Death of Bunny Monroe and thought I'd post a few impressions.

The all encompassing Flannery O'Connor meets Howlin'Wolf Southern Gothic of and the Ass saw the Angel has been removed and replaced by David Mamet doing a seedy rewrite of Muriel Spark with nods to Updike (Bunny and Rabbit having much in common)

However this Rabbit will never be rich, or at rest. He describes himself as the duracell bunny but the batteries are starting to wear out and the acid is leaking all over the place.

With a tired quiff and a tiring line in 'seduction' Bunny's self image as a rampant Lothario and the reality of his seedy and destructive life pull against each other and we find more and more reasons to dislike him as the novel progresses.

The Road

Original Post - Saturday, June 19, 2010

I finally read Cormac McCarthy's The Road which has been sitting on my shelves for a couple of years (along with lots of good company as I find it a lot easier to find books to buy than find time to read them)

I did my best to avoid reviews for both book and film but was aware of the very positive reaction to it and the many people who considered it a 'masterpiece'. This is not always a good place to begin with a book as it can only meet expectations or dissappoint.

It was also in a genre which has provided some of my favourite novels/films (Riddley Walker; A Canticle for Liebovitz; Planet of the Apes; Mad Max)

Alex Chilton - My Elvis

Original Post - Friday, March 19, 2010

I feel now that I can understand people who say they will always remember 'The Day Elvis Died'. Alex Chilton was my Elvis.

When I first heard Sister Lovers I was almost knocked over by the impact it made on me and I have probably listened to it more than any other album by a factor of ten or more. For years I listened to something from it every day.

Alternative Best Irish Albums for St Patricks Day

Original Post - Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I am currently working on a project about second generation Irish musicians in Britain and here is an off the cuff Best of to challenge the usual Irish lists. At least one parent of the main songwriter in all of the following are Irish and they have openly declared their Irishness.

Relax these guidelines a little and  The Beatles, The Faces, Elvis Costello and many, many more would be included..

The Pogues are the only band from England who ever seem to be considered in Irish listings but they are by no means the most Irish band and indeed only three of the original six members were of Irish descent.

Some musings on the Oscars

Original Post - Sunday, March 14, 2010

I feel impelled to write this blog by a sort of feedback loop being created in my head by a welter of current news stories.

The Oscar battle between Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker and James Cameron’s Avatar has been creating a big stir. Many people seem feel that Avatar deserved the award simply for the level of financial success it has achieved.

Somewhere ticking away in the background is the constant referral’s to Iran’s nuclear programme and the US Congress declaring the killing of Armenians during World War One by the Turks as genocide.

I don’t know why these keep pushing themselves to be written about (not something I do very often) but I’ll try.

YOU GOT TO GET IT IN THE BLOOD.

Original post - Thursday, March 04, 2010

Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus

I finally got around to watching this film, which has been on my list of films to watch for a few years now. As an admirer of Jim Whites delicate take on Southern Gothic and fascinated with the south of Flannery O’Connor and Harry Crews this road movie through the marginalized heart of the south looked like something I would surely enjoy.  ....
It is an impressionistic journey, where roadside minstrels and storytellers pop up to sing songs or tell stories of death and redemption and other affairs of the spirit. Jim White is our Virgil in this journey, and though the journey finds hellfire it also finds the vigour and resilience of the south.....

Subterraneans LIVE! in FULL colour!!

Original Post - Saturday, February 27, 2010

RaRe and unUSUal - footAGE of Del and Paddy with The Subterraneans.





This is the Renaissance

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Until a few years ago my personal image of Sparks was in aspic - drollery, gunshots and Hitler mustaches in a Town not big enough for both of them. I owned none of their music bar the memories. Every so often I would see a review and note that they were still productive and think that I should check them out. Eventually I bought Kimono My House which I enjoyed and still enjoy (particularly the aforementioned '...Town..."

Then, A few (five, I checked) years ago I bought the Uncut compilation White Riot - A Tribute to The Clash. It was the usual mishmash of earnest and throwaway covers and some of interest apart from one standout track culled from the oft derided 'Cut The Crap' This was the chant like 'We Are The Clash' re imagined by Sparks as an ironic anthem. Most fans wouldn't consider the original to be by The Clash and two ageing Californians masquerading as German electro pop wizards certainly weren't. As well as irony however there was a genuine love of the song and a wash of sadness and celebration makes this a moving experience and one of the most played songs on my ipod.

DEAD ROCK STARS (REPRISE)

Original Post - Monday, May 19, 2008

I have spent the last number of days enjoying the joys of Nun Attax and Five Go Down To The Sea at www.getthatmonsteroffthestage.com
Anchored by an audio documentary focusing on the eccentric Donnelly, front man with the aforementioned Nunattax and Five Go Down to the Sea and in a final change of nom de guerre - Beethoven, the site will repay the interest of anyone who likes the idea of music which can remind one simultaneously of The Fall and The Birthday Party while remaining utterly unique. Cathal Coughlan lets us know that if it weren't for Nunattax we wouldn't have had any Microdisney and the eccentric, avant garde strain in post punk music from Cork can be largely attributed to Donnelly's legacy.

Donnelly's early tragic death by drowning while swimming in the Serpentine in London robbed him of the time to gain the recognition that would surely have been his.

Anyone who is looking for material that DESERVES exhumation should release his complete recorded works including the tantalizing prospect of all the RTE radio sessions, some of which I used to have on various long departed cassettes. Surely the title alone of Wild My Cigar Meryl Streeps would make this a cult classic.

Logging

Original Post - Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I've finished reading Per Pettersons' (IMPAC shortlisted) Out Stealing Horses which I immediately filed as one of those books which will be read again. (Much like the novel's hero re-reads Dickens). The book concerns an aging man who relocates into the deep countryside some time after losing his second wife in a car crash. By chance his only neighbour is someone who he knew during dramatic formative events in his adolescence. This kicks up the dust of his memories and the past starts to come back in startling clarity into his pared down life. This is something that has often fascinated me - the fact that there are people out there who probably understand and remember episodes of my life that I neither understand nor clearly remember.

The Weirdness has descended upon me

Original Post - Monday, March 19, 2007

The Stooges new album has taken over my listening in a way that hasn't happened in a while. Lusty, louche, lazy, lounge lizard rock with that ironic dumb/smart® Osterberg lyrical angle it's far better than expected, or reported.

It's got that worm in the brain thing.

My only real problem is that my misheard lyric to ATM 'the Stooges buy property in secret' is better than the real one.

It's been nearly 40 years since the last one. Survival is a mighty thing.

He's Your Man but this is not your Film

Original Post - Friday, September 29, 2006

Review of Leonard Cohen Doc
Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man
DIR: Lian Lunson • PROD: Mel Gibson, Lian Lunson • DOP: Geoffrey Hall, Lian Lunson, Brit Marling, John Pirozzi • ED: Mike Cahill • CAST: Leonard Cohen, Bono, Nick Cave, Rufus Wainwright, Jarvis Cocker, Antony Hegarty, Martha Wainwright, Beth Orton, Hal Willner

I love Leonard Cohen. There, I've said it and now I'll face the barbs and the attacks on my masculinity. His voice (often derided for tunelessness) has a depth comparable with that of Johnny Cash. But while Johnny has a voice to go to work to, Leonard's has a dreamy quality; it is a voice to fall asleep to in the arms of dreams and philosophy. I have a recurring dream where I live in a large empty house with a Leonard Cohen album on the turntable in a room I can never quite get to. I first came across his 'Songs of Leonard Cohen' among my parents' cassettes, so his is a musical presence that goes right back to my earliest memories.

Whistlestop on the Never ending Tour

Original Post - Sunday, June 25, 2006

A dark rumbling like the birth pangs of an earthquake illuminated by flashes of subterranean lightning. Last night I witnessed one of those moments that Bob Dylan is so capable of blessing a gig with. This time it was the performance of Ballad of a Thin Man - one of my favourites but this was lifted beyond the recorded version. Starting like a rockabilly apocalypse and  tipping a black hat (and the rest) to Scotty Moore it teetered but never wavered. The guitar licks peeled off by Denny Freeman were outrageously good and I felt electric. Some other performances on the night seemed like showmanship beside this and when you look at the setlist (below) you'll see little surprising or unfamiliar. This was showbiz Bob giving the crowd what they wanted. But there was more than one visit to the dark well that is Highway 61 Revisited and the albums title song was another of the nights highlights. Touchstone song and first encore Like a Rolling Stone was a little swamped by the singalong but the finale of Watchtower was pretty fine.

Love Sick was also great and this gig has to go down as prime Dylan.

Bearing Witness

Original Post - Saturday, June 10, 2006

United 93 - Paul Greengrass

Last night I spent a rare enough night in the cinema when I went to see Paul Greengrass' United 93 which is a powerful addition to his witness films where powerful socially emotive moments which have led to huge splits in society are reSEEN and play out as human rather than schematic dramas. The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, Bloody Sunday and now United 93 concentrate on events that led to the justification of riots, murder and even war.

In a similar way to Alan Clarkes' powerful Elephant (a recreation of sectarian murders in Northern Ireland which inspired Gus van Sants' film of the same name) we see that the killing of a human being is the only real blasphemy - against any religion and against our common humanity.

Falling just like (Spring Rain)

Original Post - Wednesday, May 10, 2006

On a spring day in the early Nineteen Eighties I saw them play Spring Rain to a crowd on the cricket field in Trinity College. Their performance was interrupted by showers in the sunlight. There were fears of electrocution and there was certainly electricity in the air. I could feel it all along my spine. They were one of the major claimants to the throne of the perfect pop band.

That they didn't have showers of No 1's was a great injustice and a loss to popular consciousness. The afternoon of that transcendent performance I sat at a pub table beside half the band and mumbled echoes of my admiration.

Once again I mumble my admiration but through the echoes of tears. A little paragraph in todays paper placed a final full stop on the late renaissance of The Go Betweens with news of the death of Grant McLennan.  That No 1 will have to be No 1 in heaven. Lucky heaven. But we still have the music, Lucky us.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Johnny Cash Appreciation Society

Original Post - Saturday, May 06, 2006

Johnny Cash Appreciation Society

My previous blog has also excavated memories of The Johnny Cash Appreciation Society which was a (monthly?) night upstairs in The Hut in Phibsboro where members of the indie/punk community gathered to pay hommage to the great man by playing his songs and other country shapings. Kid Gretsch and Jet Phantom used to play Billy Don't Bring your Guns to Town and Kinky Freidman's great They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore. This brought me to search out Kinky on myspace and indeed there he is - running for governor of Texas.

These were great nights and led to the formation of The Great Western Squares whose country version of Motorhead's Ace of Spades was a singular highlight of the nights in question.


Time to watch the Hurt video and miss THE MAN.

Where would you have been without nostalgia?

Original Post - Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Where would you have been without nostalgia?

Luggage
The Knocking Shop/The Phantom Jets played with a number of bands in a number of forgotten venues and I thought I'd mention some and maybe  spark some memories for those who were there. I'm editing this regularly as vague memories keep returning from the mists of time. Anyone who can help fill the gaps left by senility please do.
Bands (many are still going, remarkably): Luggage (an inspiration - rumoured to exist on life support machine somewhere - The Great Lost Band see http://homepage.tinet.ie/~independentrecs/luggage/luggage.htm and Luggage - Show Me Around)*, Sack (still going strong),  Holemasters (starring Dave from http://www.roadrecs.com/), Female Hercules, Pet Lamb, Ash (while they were very young), Wormhole, Grief, Cuckoo, Striknein DC?, Saville, Bambi, Pincher Martin, The Idiots, Jam Jar Jail....

The Devil and Daniel Johnston

Original post - Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Devil and Daniel Johnston - Review
Category: Music
You can find my review of the Daniel Johnston doc at the end of the following link.
http://www.filmireland.net/reviews/the_devil_and_daniel_johnston.htm

or here -
The Devil and Daniel Johnston
DIR/WRI: Jeff Feuerzeig • PROD: Henry S. Rosenthal • DOP: Rob Featherstone, Fortunato Procopio • ED: Tyler Hubby •CAST: Daniel Johnston, Louis Black, Bill Johnston, Mabel Johnston, Jeff Tartakov.
This can be a difficult documentary to watch, as there is always a worry as to where the line between collaboration/elucidation and exploitation lies when you are dealing with someone who has ongoing psychological problems. However, the compelling nature of the story unfolding means that you are sucked in despite whatever reservations you may have.Who is Daniel Johnston? Well, he is a sort of American primitive mash-up of the Beatles and the Beach Boys as recorded by a primitive folk artist in the 1920s.

Ivor Cutler

Original Post - Sunday, March 12, 2006

Ivor Cutler is dead


While doing some Sunday Morning surfing I just discovered that Ivor Cutler has passed away. I thought he'd last forever. He always seems to have been there, and always unfeasibly old yet younger at heart than anyone else. I remember the surprise he gave me (Ivor was too keyed in to the joy of life to shock) when I first heard him with my radio under the covers listening to late night Peel.
Go to http://www.ivorcutler.org/sessions.html to find out what he was all about.

SOME FAVOURITE SINGLES



Original post - Tuesday, March 14, 2006

SOME FAVORITE SINGLES

Here are some of my favorite singles - just the tip of the iceberg.




Billy Bragg Levi Stubbs Tears
Here is the ultimate white boy paean to sweet soul music, hiding Bragg's social commentary in a bittersweet tale of a girl who 'was married before she was entitled to vote' and who finds her only comfort in a Four Tops tape. The first words 'With the money from her accident she bought herself a mobile home' drew me in like the words of a Raymond Carver short story. When I first heard this I was ignorant of the names of the people who had written and recorded classics such as the obliquely referenced 'Tears of a Clown'and wondered if 'Barrat Strong', 'Holland and Holland' and 'Lamont Dozier' were the names of Caravan manufacturers. However this song led me to make many discoveries about music and the fact that an earnest white ex punk folk protest singer could write so beautifully about the shimmer of Motown's greats seemed a lot less strange after I had made connections between Bragg and proto soul singers such as John Lee Hooker. If the song and the performance are right , one man can make as much music as an orchestra. And those opening slowly strummed guitar chords still send shivers of anticipation down my spine. In Leonard Cohen's great Redemption he says 'there is a crack in everything, that's where the light gets in'. This is a song about how songs can be that light and it shines brightly. One of the most neglected masterpieces of the last 25 years.


Uncharted Waters.



Original Post - 9th April 2006

Once again I find that a hero of mine has passed away while browsing on a Sunday. (see earlier Ivor Cutler blog) Nikki Sudden of the Swell Maps has joined his brother and fellow Swell Map, Epic Soundtracks in heading into the final uncharted waters.
Like Ivor Cutler I assosciate the Swell Maps with listening to John Peel late at night with the radio against my ear and the sound at barely audible levels. I still pick out my well worn copy of Dresden Style which the first of Swell Maps' singles that I owned and treasure a copy of Kiss You Kidnapped Charabanc (Nikki Sudden & Rowland S Howard) which I picked up 2nd hand and only noticed later that it was signed.
I'm currently listening to Midget Submarines - probably my favourite track off the Swell Maps album A Trip to Marineville.
I discover the news on the blog of Tav Falco (see link in my friends). Not only is he and the ever changing Panther Burns one of rocks great stylists but he runs a damn fine Myspace page. Pay a visit.

Walk the Line

Review for Film Ireland - original post - Friday, April 07, 2006

Walk the Line
DIR: James Mangold • WRI: Gill Dennis, James Mangold • PROD: James Keach, Cathy Konrad • DOP: Phedon Papmichael • ED: Michael McCusker • DES: David J. Bomba • CAST: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin, Robert Patrick

Cotton pickin' Johnny listens to June on the old radio at the end of a long day while Daddy roars Turn it off. Johnny watches his brother cut wood on a desk saw but all he wants to do is go fishing. When he leaves to go fish we know it will end in tragedy. Soldier Johnny in an airbase in Germany, Salesman Johnny with a suitcase in Memphis, Gospel Johnny draws a blank at his one chance audition so rebel Johnny appears and within months is moving up the charts and criss-crossing Tenessee with Elvis, Jerry Lee, Roy and June.

A History of Violence

Review for Film Ireland - original post - Friday, April 07, 2006

A History of Violence 

DIR: David Cronenberg • WRI: Josh Olson • PROD: Chris Bender, David Cronenberg, J.C. Spink • DOP: Peter Suschitzky • ED: Ronald Sanders • DES: Carol Spier • CAST: Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ed Harris, William Hurt, Ashton Holmes, Steph McHattie, Greg Bryk, Heidi Hayes

From the off, Cronenberg's cool distancing style lets us know that this isn't quite the real world, although it has many features of the real. The very accretion of realist detail becomes a distancing device by only serving notice that this is a carefully constructed artifice. The history of the title is the buried secrets that lie in Tom Stall's head until they are brought to the surface by a series of violent events.

Me and You and Everyone We Know

Review for Film Ireland - original post - Friday, April 07, 2006
Me and You and Everyone We Know

DIR/WRI: Miranda July • PROD: Gina Kwon • DOP: Chuy Chávez • ED: Andrew Dickler, Charles Ireland • DES: Aran Mann • CAST: Miranda July, Tracy Wright, Hector Elias, Jonell Kennedy, Natasha Slayton, Najarra Townsend, Carlie Westerman, Miles Thompson, Brandon Ratcliff, Brad Henke, John Hawkes


As the film opens (or at least as I arrive in the cinema) director Miranda July 'does' some performance art in the persona of Christine Jesperson: voicing thoughts to her camcorder as she looks through the lens at a series of photos pinned to her wall. At the end of the sequence as she intones some poetic shtick about grace and we cut to a live bird – It calls up the scene in Shrek where the bird explodes into a ball of feathers as Jeff Buckley sings from 'Grace', but it doesn't, and that is the key motif of this film – everything is on the verge of collapse or explosion or both, but somehow something coheres. So it is, I guess, a treatise on grace, no less.


The Rocky Road To Dublin

Review for Film Ireland - original post - Friday, April 07, 2006

The Rocky Road To Dublin
DIR/WRI: Peter Lennon • PROD: Victor Herbert • DOP: Raoul Coutard • ED: Lila Bird
What do you do with your revolution? I have long been aware of the almost mythical status of Peter Lennon's Rocky Road to Dublin and like almost everyone had seen the Father Michael Cleary excerpts around the time of that particular clerical scandal (now it seems a mere innocent indiscretion). As with any film that has been trumpeted in advance I approached it with some trepidation - almost expecting to be dissappointed. I wasn't. This film is, I feel, both an important, evocative document of an Ireland that has passed away, and a starting point for an examination of Ireland today. Watching it while the continued clerical control of the National Schools has finally become the subject of Dáil debate it seems that we have hardly changed.

ThE MonSTer REtuRNs to HaUnt OUr DreAMs!!

Review for Film Ireland - original post - Friday, April 07, 2006

King Kong
DIR: Peter Jackson • WRI: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson • PROD: Jan Blenkin, Carolynne Cunningham, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh • DOP: Andrew Lesnie • ED: Jamie Selkirk • DES: Grant Major • CAST: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Andy Serkis, Thomas Kretschmann, Colin Hanks, Jamie Bell, Evan Parke, Kyle Chandler

ThE MonSTer REtuRNs to HaUnt OUr DreAMs!!!PeTer JackSOns' pOst MoDErn RetRo pAEan to his childhood inspiration is a thrilling rollercoaster of a movie referencing everything from Orson Welles's aborted Heart of Darkness to Bahr and Hickenlooper's Hearts of Darkness via depression-era montages and Jurassic Park dinosaur chases, and everything else from hEARTbrEAk through HOrrOr. Jackson has long held this project close to his heart - he first tried to make this as a nine year old, and it shows overwhelming incident and detail. You could carp about the dropped subplots and the disappearance of many interesting characters well before the end (and not always through death by misadventure), but human life is only a small thing in this movie.

Bob Dylan - in the eye of the hurricane.

Original Post - Friday, April 07, 2006

Bob Dylan - No Direction Home

Scorcese's Dylan doc proved as fascinating as expected. The music (Not just Bobs') was given enough space to breathe and not just quickly chopped in and out and there were many voices and much archive to tell the story in a clear and engaging way. Scorsese didn't actually shoot any material for this. The interviews had  been conducted by Dylan manager Jeff Rosen five years ago. They included a long interview with Dylan and interviews with many of the denizens of Greenwich Village in the early sixties. (Liam Clancy, Joan Baez, Al Kooper, His job was to find a narrative structure and he has succeeded admirably, starting and finishing with the famous concert in The Manchester Free Trade Hall in 1966 where Dylan was called Judas when he plugged in his electric guitar. There is a wealth out material culled from the outtakes of 'D A Pennebaker's magnificent 'Don't Look Back' and the rarely seen sequel 'Eat the document· Murray Lerners'  footage of the Newport Folk Festivals of 1962, '63 & '64 , tv clips and other odds and ends.

Albums I'd buy first if I had to start again

Originally posted on Saturday, April 01, 2006 
Albums I'd buy first if I had to start again 
I've always loved lists because without them I forget the shopping.  I've limited it to one per artist. 

Big Star: Sister Lovers/Third - Kangaroo
Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited - Dylan website
Pere Ubu: 390 Degrees of Simulated Stereo -  Pere Ubu website
The Band: The Band - King Harvest
The Stars of Heaven: Speak Slowly - (Download free from their label here)
Richard & Linda Thompson: I Want to see the Bright Lights Tonight - Title song
The Monks: The Monks  - Shut Up
The Subway Sect: What's the Matter, Boy? - Double Negative
The Fall: Live at the Witch Trials - Underground Medecin
Iggy & The Stooges: The Stooges - Not Right
Leonard Cohen: New Skin for the Old Ceremony - Chelsea Hotel No.2
Wire: Chairs Missing - Outdoor Miner
Elvis Costello : Imperial Bedroom - Beyond Belief
Gram Parsons: Grievous Angel - Brass Buttons
John Lee Hooker: This is Hip - House Rent Boogie
Miles Davis: Sketches of Spain - Concierta de Aranjuez
The Undertones: Positive Touch - Julie Ocean
Dexys Midnight Runners: Searching for the Young Soul Rebels - Geno
The Pogues: Rum, Sodomy & the Lash - The Old Main Drag
Neil Young: On the Beach - For the Turnstiles
Johnny Cash & June Carter: Carrying On With.. - Jackson
Sonic Youth: Sister - Schizophrenia
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Your Funeral, My Trial - Stranger than Kindness
Augustus Pablo: King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown - Satta Dub
Television: Marquee Moon - Friction
The Radiators: Ghosttown - Kitty Ricketts
Agnes Bernelle: Bernelle on Brecht and... 
Momus: Monsters of Love - Morality is Vanity
Tom Waits: Swordfishtrombones - In The Neighbourhood
Talking Heads: Fear of Music - Cities
Willie Nelson: Red Headed Stranger  - Can I Sleep In Your Arms
Rolling Stones: Let it Bleed - You Can't Always Get What You Want
Billy Bragg: Life's a Riot with Spy vs Spy - Lovers Town Revisited
The Smiths: Hatful of Hollow - What Difference Does It Make?
Buzzcocks: Singles Going Steady - Promises
Jim White : No Such Place - Corvair
The Velvet Underground: & Nico - European Son
Black Box Recorder: Passionoai - Andrew Ridgley
The Cramps: Psychedelic Jungle - Don't Eat Stuff off The Sidewalk
The Streets: A Grand Don't Come for Free - Empty Cans
The Specials: More Specials - Stereotype / Stereotypes pt2
Madness: Complete Madness - Embarrassment
The Clash: The Clash - Garageland
Rowland S Howard: Teenage Snuff Film - Dead Radio
Lou Reed: Berlin - Caroline Says
Einstuerzende Neubaten: Fuenf Auf der Nach Oben Offenen Richterskala - Zerstorte Zelle
The Human League: Dare - Love Action
The Blades: Raytown Revisited - The Bride Wore White
Big Black: Atomiser - Kerosene
Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band: Clear Spot - Big Eyed Beans From Venus
Marvin Gaye: What's Going On? - Inner City Blues
Dusty Springfield: Dusty in Memphis - Breakfast in Bed
Public Enemy:It takes a nation of millions... - Don't Believe the Hype
The Go Betweens: Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express - Spring Rain
Television Personalities - Closer to God - Closer to God
Van Morrison: St Dominics Preview - St Dominic's Preview
The Sonics: Here are The Sonics - Strychnine
Kate Bush: Aerial - How To Be Invisible

&on &on