Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Parties, seriousness and the death of Web 2.0

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  • Richard Llewellyn,

    "Not to mention Peter kruder and Richard Dorfmeister a little further south who created one of the best modern dub albums (K&D Sessions) of all time. In my opinion of course..."

    Wholeheartedly agree Peter.

    And also agree with Simon about musical innovation leaping off the back of all that has come before.

    On that note, much as I like to consider myself as 'in touch' with music (and love my iPod almost as much as my family), I'm really curious to know what musical innovations are coming next.

    And if at some point in the future I'm shouting at my teenage daughters to 'turn that shit down' I'll make a mental note to myself to try and remember what it was like to hear reggae, the Clash, flying nun, the Pixies, brit-pop, House, stadium dance, Nirvana, dub, etc etc etc for the first time.

    Mt Albert • Since Nov 2006 • 399 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Don't get me started on "poor old Bob", arguably the best poet of the 20th century;

    nah that was Smokey...even Bob said so. But I'm with Peter most of the time, I like my musical poetry to be a part of the aural texture. I agree with you about Like A Rolling Stone, but that was as much to do with Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield and Tom Wilson as it was Bob... the performance was incredible as was the way it was captured.

    But the front line left Bob behind a long time ago, and plenty of songs have had the same cultural resonance since then. I hate the song but you'd be hard pushed to argue that Rapper's Delight hasn't had the same impact... or for that matter Autobahn, or One Love

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Well, first let me apologise slightly for having helped to steer this conversation away from Web 2.0, though some blame must surely go to Peter for introducing that inflamatory phrase, "the Dylan problem". (One day someone will study, and perhaps even map, the trends in changes of direction of comments threads. C'est la vie.)

    I'm not sure if I'd describe Hip Hop, punk and elecronica as minor revolutions....and Dylan...all he wanted to be was Woody Guthrie fronting The Beatles, but I take your point.

    Sgt Pepper...contrary to accepted wisdom, I think that's when it also started to go right.

    In my usual clumsy style, I attempted to differentiate the "minor revolutions" of pop culture from "proper" socio-political revolutions. In retrospect it does look confusing.

    I did once accidentally step in some "accepted wisdom" regarding the issue of Led Zeppelin singles, but in this case it's a considered opinion. To my ears that album mostly just sounds silly. I do love "She's Leaving Home", the bridge of "Mr. Kite", the reprise of the title tune, and Macca's harmonies throughout, but Beatle John just sounded like he was taking the piss, and quite a few of Paul's songs are just naff. The mono LP fares better, since it doesn't draw such attention to the 'craaazy' arrangements and mixing.

    I feel that all the expectations got to them; the cover art, eponymous title, and stripped-down arrangements of the follow-up double virtually admit the mistake, but by then it was too late; almost everyone else had caught the bug.

    Before Pepper there was the Kinks, the Stones, the Who, the Zombies, the Yardbirds (didn't they wipe out creatively in '67) and a few others. Rock was uncompromising in its sound, and with a fun attitude, too. Peter's point about Tutti Futti holds true as well. Broadly speaking, up until circa '66 (British) rock was for dancing. When stereo-mixed LPs hit, it suddenly became about listening, and pretentiousness wasn't far behind.

    America, you ask? Well, for that era it's all about the Beach Boys and Dylan for me, so I'm not sure I can draw any cohesive lesson. Dylan = Woody Guthrie & the Beatles? That's cold, man. Sure, 'Subterranean / Bringing It All Back Home' through 'Blonde' was the meat, but many earlier works are just staggeringly affecting, to the point where *everyone* else just look like children. I recommend The Gaslight Tapes (from '62; the boot, not the Starbucks one) & disc one of The Bootleg Sessions vol. 1.

    I like my musical poetry to be a part of the aural texture.

    PS. Never could get why you guys love the Clash because they're... y'know... political..., when their aural texture is often awful, but don't like Bob who has the same attributes.

    Keen / Web 2.0, anyone?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    Having said that, I consider the lines "Elvis, was a hero to most, but he never meant shit to me..." to be superb beyond belief so I can't even call consistency in my defence!

    It's even better if you're doing the Do The Right Thing opening credits dance over the top of it...

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Dylan....yes I'm being cold. But I've seen him live twice and both times...78 at Western Springs, and a few years later with Tom Petty, he was beyond appalling and I guess it coloured my opinion of him evermore. I sold everything I had apart from Blonde & 61 after the second show and I felt like he truely was the Jokerman.

    But, of recent I've rediscovered After The Flood....and I'm not sure I agree with RB on The Band, although Little Feat....nah...

    Sgt Pepper, yes, should only be heard in mono..**apart** from the reprise of the title track onwards......although I respectfully disagree with the notion that A Day in The Life is Lennon taking the piss, and should perhaps add that I think that She's Leaving Home is, in my opinion of course, one of the slightermost tunes in the fab cannon.



    The aural textures of The Clash are clumsy perfection......

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Llewellyn,

    While on the Beatles, I've gotta put in a plug for my absolute fab fave, 'I Want You (She's So Heavy)' from Abbey Road - first time I heard that enormously grunty fade-out it was "Holy Hell, is that the Beatles?"

    Mt Albert • Since Nov 2006 • 399 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Dylan....yes I'm being cold. But I've seen him live twice and both times...78 at Western Springs, and a few years later with Tom Petty, he was beyond appalling and I guess it coloured my opinion of him evermore.

    I sold everything I had apart from Blonde & 61 after the second show and I felt like he truely was the Jokerman.

    The show with the Heartbreakers was bad. First gig of the tour, the band just couldn't follow him, not much of anything going on. But I still had Dylan fans insisting to me that it had been really rather good.

    But, of recent I've rediscovered After The Flood....and I'm not sure I agree with RB on The Band, although Little Feat....nah...

    Oh alright, I was being harsh on The Band. But Little Feat just annoy me.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Llewellyn,

    Speaking of The Band, did anyone else catch the Film Festival movie from a couple of years ago, Festival Express?

    Brilliant, follows a failed (financially) music festival tour by train across Canada with some fantastic off and on-stage footage of Janis, The Band, Grateful Dead, Buddy Guy etc.

    The Band concert footage is superb ....

    Mt Albert • Since Nov 2006 • 399 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I did see Festival Express, and really enjoyed it. The footage of the Canadian hippie kids was great. (I suppose this is no news to anyone, but man: those musicians could really, seriously drink. Whew. Wasn't there some story about leaping off the train at various stops along the way and buying in gazillions of dollars' worth of spirits, just to keep everyone on an even keel? No wonder it was financially disastrous...)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    though some blame must surely go to Peter for introducing that inflamatory phrase, "the Dylan problem". (One day someone will study, and perhaps even map, the trends in changes of direction of comments threads. C'est la vie.)

    Oh guilty as charged. But then I think that all people should talk about music all the time. If John Key could front up about his favourite Minutemen tune and Murray McCully confessed to late night John Martyn sessions the world would be a far better place.

    To my ears that album mostly just sounds silly. I do love "She's Leaving Home", the bridge of "Mr. Kite", the reprise of the title tune, and Macca's harmonies throughout, but Beatle John just sounded like he was taking the piss, and quite a few of Paul's songs are just naff.

    Heh, I think Paul is one of the luckiest blokes on the planet to find himself up on stage with George and John and that other George at the controls.

    So, here's a thing, a list thing! Forget about artists, what about Producers. If you had to name the 3 greatest modern music producers who would they be?

    For me, they would be, in god-like order:

    1. George Martin
    George basically invented modern music. I may not like the result of the L&M hegemony but I think the man is a genius.

    2. Phil Spector
    Phil invented pop. What a sound, what perfect songs. He hated albums and wanted to make each pop single an extravaganza. And many of them were.

    3. Lee 'Scratch' Perry
    Crazy as a rat, the turps and blackberry drinking madman invented (to my mind) the perfect reggae sound at The Black Ark in the early '70s. As an experimentalist, only King Tubby comes near him and they manually built effects equipment and created a load of recording and sampling techniques such as loops, samples, speeding up and slowing down dubs that later inspired rap musicians and dance producers alike.

    Each of these people were genre-defining. There are a load more that blow me away, but these three are the toppermost.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    The Band concert footage is superb ....

    Have a read of Levon Helm's autobiography 'This Wheel's on Fire'. Not only does he have a great name but the man is fairly punk rock as well.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    <quote>PS. Never could get why you guys love the Clash because they're... y'know... political..., when their aural texture is often awful, but don't like Bob who has the same attributes.<quote>

    But The Clash's political statement was a pose, fashion. Check out Joe's drunken ramblings on Rudeboy for a glimpse at the extent of his politics. Their biggest crime was that they obviously had a big effect on Bono...

    As for the sound, Machine Gun Etiquette has always sounded jarring and a bit odd to me but their other albums sound great. Their first album is pop perfection, especially Garageland and Complete Control.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    As for the sound, Machine Gun Etiquette has al..

    God, you'd think I'd been drinking. I meant of course, 'Give 'em Enough Rope'

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

  • Juha Saarinen,

    We've been crying out for much too long... now we're gonna dance to a different song... ooo-ooh!

    Since Nov 2006 • 529 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Complete Control

    hate to be a damned trainspotter but that was not on the original album..only on the odd US re-compile.

    McCartney....he's a guilty pleasure for me...last year's Chaos and Creation was a minor masterpiece of post middle age pop...Beatlesque and beautifully produced by Radiohead's Nigel Goodrich. His best album in a very very average career (with the odd highlight) since, umm, his second solo one. Generally Lennon's post Beatles world was much more interesting.

    Can't argue with the producer selection but I'd add Holland -Dozier-Holland and Carl Craig to my list.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Brian Wilson - in a league of his own. Yeah, gotta agree with H-D-H, though.

    Chaos and Creation? 2001's Driving Rain was really something; beautiful, sometimes naff (natch), sprawling and believe it or not, edgy.

    ...a very very average career (with the odd highlight) since, umm, his second solo one.

    All the true genii of the golden age - Wilson, Davies, Young, Reed, Dylan, Lennon etc. - had tons of godawful songs (& godawful shows), because they're madmen; stands to reason.

    ('A Day In The Life' wasn't taking the piss, but what else? Lucy, Kite, and Good Morning? You'd think Johnny would've realised that Macca brought enough Music Hall without adding to it.)

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Oh, yes, Brian Wilson...he made me cry at the Aotea. I saw him earlier (much) when he wandered on and off the stage at Western Springs circa 79...beautiful summers afternoon but Brian had no idea he was there. No, he needs to be on that short list. And not only for Pet Sounds, there is so much more

    I'm having trouble dismissing Kite, as it was the prototype for so much. There is a bootleg somewhere on a shelf of mine in Auckland with the vocals in the left channel and the (mono) instrumental in the right, so you can do that trick of rotating the vox out of the mix with the balance knob....and it's an incredible piece of work. Dangermouse might have thought he was clever with the Grey Album but Lennon and George Martin did it decades ago.

    But SPLHCB is not about any song, its a whole, and I would suggest should be considered as such. For me, the thing about The Beatles, and in particular Pepper, was that it meant anything was possible. Before Pepper they bent and twisted the rules, and then broke them over and over again. After the grand slam of Revolver, Strawberry Fields/ Penny Lane and Pepper, there were no more rules..hence Kraftwerk was possible. And we know Brian Wilson's reaction to Pepper.

    Driving Rain...no you are right, its mostly a fine album too but I didn't personally like the production. What I liked about Chaos was that finally his songs sounded finished.

    I have to say I liked both albums far more than that dreary thing Dylan tossed out last year. And I tried, I really did....

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    re Lennon...I'm having trouble thinking of anything much worse than this:

    Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur arrives June 12 via Warner Bros.

    Instant Karma:

    Disc 1:

    01 U2 - "Instant Karma"
    02 R.E.M. - "#9 Dream"
    03 Christina Aguilera - "Mother"
    04 Aerosmith - "Give Peace a Chance"
    05 Lenny Kravitz - "Cold Turkey"
    06 Los Lonely Boys - "Whatever Gets You Through the Night"
    07 Corinne Bailey Rae - "I'm Losing You"
    08 Jakob Dylan [ft. Dhani Harrison] - "Gimme Some Truth"
    09 Jackson Browne - "Oh My Love"
    10 Big & Rich - "Nobody Told Me"

    Disc 2:

    01 Green Day - "Working Class Hero"
    02 Black Eyed Peas - "Power to the People"
    03 Jack Johnson - "Imagine"
    04 Snow Patrol - "Isolation"
    05 Matisyahu - "Watching the Wheels"
    06 Ben Harper - "Beautiful Boy"
    07 Postal Service - "Grow Old With Me"
    08 Jaguares - "Gimme Some Truth"
    09 Avril Lavigne - "Imagine"
    10 The Flaming Lips - "(Just Like) Starting Over"
    11 Regina Spektor - "Real Love"

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    There is a bootleg somewhere on a shelf of mine in Auckland with the vocals in the left channel and the (mono) instrumental in the right, so you can do that trick of rotating the vox out of the mix with the balance knob....

    Spooky.

    About 5 years ago I made a such a mix of 'Kite' by 'inverting' or 'flipping' one channel and then mixing the two channels together, leaving a mono mix containing only the wide left and wide right but no centre (where the vox originally were); in this case mostly just Paul's excellent bass and the drums, with a wee bit of organ if memory serves, except for the bridge which was somewhat fuller (tape effects and organ). I dropped it at parties a couple of times and jaws dropped - not that it was a masterpiece mix as such, but just really an unusual perspective on such a well known piece. The only other one like that that I did at the time was a similar fake inst. mix of 'Only A Northern Song', though later made a fake instrumental Rubber Soul using various sources and techniques.

    And we know Brian Wilson's reaction to Pepper.

    Yeah, maybe that's part of the reason I've got problems with it;
    They killed SMiLE ;)

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    "Oh, Christ! I already told Jack Johnson he could do 'Imagine'!"

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Heh, I think Paul is one of the luckiest blokes on the planet to find himself up on stage with George and John and that other George at the controls.

    Paul is undeniably a giant cheeseball, and he comes across in person as a fake and a poseur. This is unfortunate, because he has such gifts (which he often squanders). But the past few years I've been going through a Wings reassessment: patchy, yes, but way *less* patchy than the Lennon and Harrison stuff from the same period. And no one ever talks about his bass playing. The bass in that mid-period Beatles stuff is amazing. I love to listen to it. (On the other hand, when I saw him in 2002 or whenever it was, in Dallas, and dude came out during his encore of the execrable 'Freedom' waving a giant car-dealership-sized American flag... oh god. I wanted to beat him to death with a bag full of navel oranges. And I had even been moved to tears earlier in the show by his ukulele version of 'Something', in tribute to George. Damn you, Paul! Damn you straight to hell!)

    Simon, I basically agree with your assessment of the Instant Karma album. However:

    02 R.E.M. - "#9 Dream"

    I was in the US last week and our rental car had satellite radio (immensely enjoyable! Little Stevie's Underground Garage is terrific), and this cover came on at some point: verily, it does not suck. I was surprised. Luckily, they dispensed with those 'Joooooooohhhhnnnnn' whispers...

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    re Lennon...I'm having trouble thinking of anything much worse than this:

    Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur arrives June 12 via Warner Bros.

    See, that's a brief vision of Hell, right there.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    <quote<Can't argue with the producer selection but I'd add Holland -Dozier-Holland and Carl Craig to my list.<quote>

    H-D-H could just about get up there, Brian Wilson as well. There's loads of other great producers from Bunny Lee to Chris Thomas to Dr Dre etc... But I went for Spector over Wilson as he was doing something special without looking or caring at what anyone else was up to. And his sound was highly individual.

    Wilson was a pop academic who was driven crazy by what the Beatles and Spector were up to. Didn't stop him being brilliant in his own right, mind you.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    hate to be a damned trainspotter but that was not on the original album..only on the odd US re-compile.

    Really? I presumed it was on there. Must re-check my vinyl copy. I have only listened to it in electronic format in recent times.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    But I went for Spector over Wilson as he was doing something special without looking or caring at what anyone else was up to. And his sound was highly individual.

    That hothouse of competitiveness in the sixties was something special though, rarely seen since (although things got pretty fierce in Jamaica in the eighties).....and The Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica is one of the ten greatest albums ever...end of....

    Complete Control was written after CBS pulled Remote Control off the first Clash album as a single against the wishes of the band.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

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