Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Cross me a-off your list

There is this blog here where the author lists stuff. So in the true spirit of the internet, i've ripped off the idea and I am claiming it for myself.

Today we have the top 15 Dylan songs that did not appear on any of the best-ofs (two volumes), any of the greatest hits (all three volumes) or indeed on the Essential Bob Dylan album. At my count that is 58 seperate songs that I cannot choose from. Yet...there are still some good choices in here. Amazingly 'Visions of Johanna' and 'Desolation Row' have not appeared on a best-of, probably because they are too "hard core" for first-time listeners. 'Blind Willie McTell' is the best Dylan song that he chose not to release (initially, at least), 'Boots of Spanish Leather' is so lovely a song that it would make any Bob Dylan top 15. And to think that there are 58 other songs that are deemed more worthy!

1. 'Visions of Johanna', Blonde on Blonde
2. 'Blind Willie McTell', Bootleg Series vol 1 to 3
3. 'Desolation Row', Highway 61 Revisited
4. 'Boots of Spanish Leather', The Times They Are A-Changin’
5. 'Angelina', Bootleg Series vol 1 to 3
6. 'You’re a Big Girl Now', Blood on the Tracks
7. 'Isis', Desire
8. 'Workingman Blues No2', Modern Times
9. '4th Time Around', Blonde on Blonde
10. 'Cold Irons Bound', Time out of Mind / Masked & Anonymous OST
11. 'The Ballad of Frankie Lee & Judas Priest', John Wesley Harding
12. 'If You See Her, Say Hello', Blood on the Tracks
13. 'Black Diamond Bay', Desire
14. 'Most of the Time', Oh Mercy
15. 'The Man in Me', New Morning

If you disagree with me..post a comment and let me know! In case you're asking yourself this question....A top 15 because it is more than 10 but not quite 20.

Some other stuff that i've written which is of interest (hopefully), a review of Modern Times (which includes number 8 in the list!), some photos and text from the worldwide book launch of U2's U2 by U2 from Waterstones in Piccadilly. I've also got a live review of the Rolling Stones from Twickenham in August.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I'm in a cowboy band

MTV in the UK have turned reality TV on its head with their new program, Totally Boyband. They have united 'stars' from the now defunct world of Boybands and follow them around with cameras for three months in which time they need to get a hit single. These 'stars' were: Danny from New Kids on the Block (who at 37 is the oldest member), Bradley from S Club 7, Lee from Steps, Johnny (who?) from 911 (what?) and last and by no means least (in weight that is) Dane Bowers from Another Level. I managed to sit through an entire episode of this drivel to give you readers the lowdown to this new cultural phenomena. Somewhat shocklingly from a cultural point of view the voice over informed us that together the boys have over 87 million CDs sold.

This first episode focused on them meeting each other. They went to the record company who informed the camera that they were not the, "ideal line up". They then did some mainstream media on the Johnny Vaughan Breakfast Show (Capital Radio's breakfast show who's market share has dwindled considerably in the last year). Johnny called them the "who's who of boybandry". I wonder what Robbie Williams, George Michael and the talented guys in New Kids On the Block, 911, and S Club 7 were thinking?

The boys met their record company who told them that it was imperative that they get a massive hit single in three months. The management actually seemed worried that this wouldn't happen. None of the boyband members raised their hands to ask about the impact of them appearing on Britain's largest music television channel on this but then again boyband members are not renowned for their intelligence.

The boys then tried to come up with a name. They decided they would name themselves while they were making music. To get the vibe before coming up with a name. Well all accept Lee from Stepa who thinks that they should be called 'evolution'. (cue rolling eyes from the other lads). They met their manager a fat rich old white man who lives in a plush house. That's where the millions of pounds from the 87 million CDs went, Management. And they want to get fucked over all over again? Are they stupid or something? (Hold on a minute...) The manager said that Danny added a '"credible aspect to the band". Then I laughed. The band then went out on the lash in some nightclub. They got slaughtered and took the piss out of Lee from Steps who was oblivious to all of this. I got increasingly annoyed at Dane Bowers who is the most opinionated fuckwit and how he quite obviously likes the sound of his own voice.

The credits rolled and they showed clips of the next show which featured extremly piss-poor singing that was all out of tune. So don't miss the next installment is what MTV is telling me. My opinion on whether they can do it again? It is already a done deal, with bands needing to sell about 100 copies to get a number one, it shouldn't be too hard. My opinion on whether these people are even more annoying than the first time around? Most definately yes.

Nettie Moore

Forty-one years to wear the ball and the stripes

I can't seem to embedd this video for some reason. But this is well worth a look if you are a fan of the White Stripes and/or the Simpsons. Check out the video.

Little Sadie

Monday, September 11, 2006

When I left my home the sky split open wide

So many words have been written on 9/11 that it seems silly of me to add to them. The internet is full of eye-witness accounts, conspiracy theorists, political commentators, bloggers and survivors and they are all better placed to speak about these events than I am. However, I’ll share my memories of this date that will be culturally and historically significant for centuries to come. It feels like the kind of thing that I’ll one-day tell my grandchildren about (if I ever have any), so I might as well get my story down beforehand.

I remember going out to the shop. Love and Theft, the new album from Bob Dylan and his first since 1997’s Time Out of Mind was released on that eventful day. I remember going to the shop on the Tuesday (I think it was released a day earlier but I couldn’t make it to the shops) and ripping open the packaging before playing the CD on the way home. A couple of hours later the significance of this record would pale in comparison to the events unfolding on television but there are plenty of rhymes and couplets that were given a whole new meaning by the horror’s unfolding on the television screen. Lines like these below suddenly meant so much more than Dylan intended.

"City's just a jungle, more games to play
Trapped in the heart of it, trying to get away"

"Well, I'm stranded in the city that never sleeps
Some of these women they just give me the creeps
I'm avoidin' the Southside the best I can
These memories I got, they can strangle a man"

"When I left my home the sky split open wide
I never wanted to go back there - I'd rather have died"
"Some things are too terrible to be true"
'Honest with Me'

"You always got to be prepared but you never know for what"
'Sugar Baby'

I remember seeing the events unfolding live. I was watching the news and eating my lunch when it happened. The footage came in of what was at first considered a terrible accident. Little did I realise that I would be stuck to the footage coming in for hours and days to come. It was surreal and horribly addictive, I couldn’t keep my eyes off CNN, Sky News and BBC News. Something which today makes me feel like a lowlife voyeur who can’t keep their eyes off the scene of a car crash.

Looking at 9/11 through 2006 eyes, the situation is different. We’ve had a subsequent Wars on Terror in both Afghanistan and Iraq, bombings in Madrid, Bali and London and numerous warnings, arrests, and political debate. I certainly feel that we live in different times: perhaps more aware of dangers, less innocent, we (as a society) have maybe a fuller view of what’s going on around the world than previously.

There can be no doubt that 9/11 happened because of the minds of mad psychopaths, hell-bent on destruction. For many a time after the events of 9/11 it was hard to even question why this had happened to America and New York City. But today I can speak my mind without sounding like an insensitive bastard. Every day on the planet more people die because of extreme poverty than did in the WTC attacks. You want a look at why people hate America and the Western World ? It is because we, as a human race, have failed to provide many in the world with a better life.

Many will be born and die in poverty as their parents and grandparents before them. And all the while we continue to bomb civilians in the name of the western world’s economic well being (ie: for oil). I may be idealistic but until issues such as these are addressed we will keep pushing people into the hands of a few religious extremist nut-jobs. Its not rocket science and its not caving into the demands of terrorists - it is a common sense view for a better world.

But what of the other issues surrounding 9/11. The continual conspiracy theories that don't seem to go away are proof that there needs to be a proper and open discussion of all these points by the US government. Yes one can dismiss them as nut-jobs but in my book, i'd rather have a society that questions and debates government than one who is completly submissive. In my opinion, there has been no clear answer to some of these queries like how can a pilot who has some lessons on a bi-plane at some flying school in Hicksville fly a commercial jumbo jet with pinpoint precision into a building. Just doesn't seem to make sense to me but then again i'm no pilot. I just need a pilot to explain this to me in clear detail...but then again maybe they can't either which would explain their silence.

I'm not saying that there is a CIA conspiracy or anything like that but there are some fundamental questions that this 9/11 has raised that have yet to be properly and clearly answered. Many of these points are now being championed by the 9/11 Scholars for truth organisation, a group of academics who are looking into all the issues. While I wouldn't agree with their conclusions, the fact that there are these points being raised by scientists and academics surely points to a lack of clarity/real discussion surrounding the issue.

9/11 was a terrible event that will continue to influence our world for years to come. We will continue to hear about conspiracy theories, stories of survivors, questions surrounding the outcomes and influences of 9/11 on American politics in the next five years and more. 9/11 was such a massive event, the like of which I had never witnessed before, let's hope that I don't have to witness another similar event on a similar magnitude in the future. Please excuse the rambling points, I started writing this and couldn't stop. I gues these points had been playing on my mind - yet more proof that 9/11 still influences the subconcious to amazing levels, some five years after the event and I wasn't even a personal witness to these horrible and tragic events.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Hunted like a crocodile

So long Steve Irwin...

Well this guy who is slightly famous for doing documentaries on snakes, crocodiles and other dangerous animals has passed away after being hit by a Stingray in his chest. And the whole world goes bonkers…

I’m fed up of this adulation that celebrities get when they die. It all started with Princess Diana and since then we’ve had numerous over-flowing gushing tributes to celebrities, every crash scene has thousands of flowers by people who didn’t know the victim. And now we have the pain that is the BBC ‘send us your reaction’ page. Let’s look at some of the ridiculous comments on that page:

“No man in living memory has done more for nature & wildlife conservation than Steve Irwin”

“It is sad, sad, day for everyone who has watched Steve's show. His death is a tragedy for Australia and for conservation as a whole.”

“[I’m] Shocked, heart broken, and deeply saddened, he was, and will remain to be my favourite Animal lover hero”

These are real comments made by real people. "No man in living memory" has done more for nature and wildife conservation? Hmmm, not sure about that one. His death is a "tragedy for Australia"? I'm sure that the Aussie politicians will remedy this with a public holiday called Steve Irwin Day on September 4th every year. Someone else is "Shocked, heart-broken, and deeply saddened" ... I can't imagine what his family are feeling if someone who doesn't know him feels this way.

It's not meant as an anti Steve Irwin rant in anyway. I just feel that this has all gone out of hand. Yes he did a lot of work for animal conservation, but he also appeared in that appauling hollywood film about his life (DVD sales of which will no doubt explode this week). Let's be honest most of us thought he was a bit of a dick and then turned over when his documentaries came on TV. Let's not forget that just because he has died. Not every celebrity deserves martyr status.

Shelter from the Storm

Check me out, if you dare