Mastering the Mix A good (if somewhat long) article on -- what else -- mix tapes. It's obviously written by someone who knows what it's all about, which is nice. Oh, and while I'm at it I may as well plug Art of the Mix founder Jim Januszewski's blog. It's called, well, Art of the Mix. I tip my proverbial hat to you, Jim. I spend waaaay too much time on your site.
Thursday, September 19, 2002
Saturday, September 14, 2002
Hearing indie and other non-mainstream music (yes, I'm reaching for a term that isn't "alternative") used in commercials used to irritate my 16 year-old punk sensibilities. But I've now resigned myself to hearing Air's "La Femme D'Argent" play while Andie McDowell extols the virtues of hair products. Hell, if Dylan could be used for a Bank of Montreal commercial anything's possible. In fact, television sounds better than ever. Commercials and TV shows play more interesting music, and reach a wider audience, than music video channels or radio. Still, it was a bit weird the other night when, during one of those corpse examination scenes on CSI, I recognised the eerie music as Sigur Ros.
Tuesday, September 10, 2002
I have bought jazz and the liner notes have rewarded me for my sophistication and taste. Or they tried to. Instead I just feel dirty. Flipping through the extended liner notes for Getz/Gilberto I thought there must've been some sort of type-o because there was a re-print of Billboard's Hot Singles chart from June of '96 (topped by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony's "Tha Crossroads"). Reading the notes I discovered the writer Doug Ramsey was trying to make a point about how "The Girl From Ipanema" was one of history's great fluke hit singles. Which is fair, I suppose, but why throw out sweeping insults to other music in the process? An excerpt:
'It may seem that after Elvis came the deluge, but American popular music did not go into the tank overnight. In 1956…Presley dominated the charts with "Hound Dog", "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Love Me Tender". Radio listeners could not escape Presley, Bill Haley, the Platters, or Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, but public taste allowed a few items of reasonable quality…[I]n 1956, Frank Sinatra's "Love and Marriage" and Dean Martin's "Memories Are Made of This were in the top ten. Nelson Riddle made it with "April in Portugal", and Doris Day made it with "Que Sera Sera". Great stuff? No, but my god, "Heartbreak Hotel"?'Yes, "Heartbreak Hotel"!! With liner notes like this it's no wonder people don't like jazz.
Johnny Cash - "I'm on Fire"
In a previous post I said I'm currently listening some music I'd never consider in the past. What I was alluding to was my growing Springsteen fixation. It was something I was convinced could never happen, especially with the moral minefield surrounding The Rising but then I heard "Brilliant Disguise" wafting through a supermarket and it all changed. (I always seem to rediscover music while shopping but that's another entry.) Thanks to Bruce's re-emergence as an "important" artist lately there's all sorts of documentaries and music specials floating about so it's been easier to catch up.
But about this cover! I've felt that Cash's recent covers have been a little hit or miss. "Rusty Cage" was good but I thought on "I See a Darkness" and "One" he sounded a bit too detached and preacher-like. This is an entirely different matter. "I'm On Fire" is a creepy song to begin with but when Springsteen sang it he sounded like your dad's horny friend who had too much to drink. When Cash sings it the creepiness goes off the scale. He's the dirty old alcoholic hermit who lives down the road your mother tells you to stay away from. And yet there's still this huge vulnerability and pathos in Cash's voice. It's an absolutely riveting performance that really underlines the value of life experience when interpreting a song.
Wednesday, September 04, 2002
Q: What does American Idol, that showcase of plebian cheese and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a comic book featuring characters from Victorian-era literature, have in common?
A: America ruins both of them.
Yes, I have the dubious distinction of having watched both the US and UK editions of Pop Idol. And OK, admittedly it wasn't the highest form of entertainment to begin with. But what a showcase of all-American crap the US version is. Oh, I still watch it of course (I'm not that self-righteous) but I still cringe every time the two braindead hosts appear on the screen. The two new songs Justin and Kelly sang last night which will be the single actually made me nostalgic for the UK winner's single, "Evergreen". Me! Nostalgic for Westfuckinglife!! Will Young's lackluster performance on the American show last night disappointed me but I cheered his snide dig at the show producers when he was asked how much money he has made.
As for the League of Gentlemen I only just picked up the collected edition of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's fantastic series at the library yesterday. Afterwards I nosed around the web and discovered that a film adaptation is currently being made. I was pleasantly surprised to learn Sean Connery had been perfectly cast as Allan Quartermain but apart from that my hopes sank. Why? Because Tom Sawyer is going to be in the film, as an appeasement to American audiences. What in God's name Tom Sawyer would be doing hundreds of miles away from the Mississippi will be a treat to see explained.
Now of course the film hasn't been finished yet so I shouldn't moan. The minor changes in the X-Men and Spider-Man films actually worked so maybe this will too. But it's just Hollywood's compulsion to tinker with perfectly good formulas continues to boggle my mind. Why bother to take something quintessentially British as the League and add American elements? Why not just create an entirely new team comprised of American literary heroes? It would work a heck of a lot better than trying to graft Tom Sawyer in with Jekyll and Hyde!