Friday, December 28, 2007

A year has passed and gone (again)

It's that time of the year again.. End of year lists. An easy way for me to increase my blog-post quota by one... Click here to read what I thought of last year.

Album of the year

To be honest not much has really grabbed my attention this year apart from a Bruce Springsteen's Magic which is probably my favourite record and his best since The River. Great tunes which mixes political commentary with great pop-rock tunes. And it's a grower, even after an intensive few months of listening to it.

Also released this year which I adored was Wilco's Sky Blue Sky. A subtle recording which reveals more and more as time passes by. Like a fine wine really. I also bought the Hold Steady's recent album, Boys & Girls in America, which absolutely rocks, but I've already given them an award (see below) and don't want them to hog all the limelight.

Other albums of note include the Felice Brothers latest release, the Tailors album, Wakey Wakey - which I still listen to and love - and Babyshambles latest album, Shotters Nation which, I'm quite surprised to say, is brilliant.

Winner is.... Bruce Springsteen for Magic, for reminding me that old men can still release a vital, riveting and lively album (please take note Mr Dylan).

Concert of the year
Tough one this. I think the Hold Steady's second gig of the year that I saw at Camden's Electric Ballroom would have to be up there. As would their first gig. Wilco at Shepherds Bush was equally brilliant. Arcade Fire at Brixton was great too, although I ended up seeing them five times this year and was pretty bored by the end.

Travelling to Italy and Amsterdam to see Bob Dylan were other highlights, although not necessarily musically... it was more about the people I was meeting and the drinking. One thing is for sure the Milano crowd for Dylan were the nuttiest I've ever seen. They really are starved of good music out there.

Other concerts of note, the Magic Numbers doing a secret acoustic gig at the Windmill, my gig nights at the Windmill, and Metallica at Wembley. Because it was Metallica.

My final decision would have to be the Hold Steady at Camden Electric Ballroom. Because they made me fall in love with rock and roll all over again.

Next year I have a few concerts lined up already including multiple Springsteen nights in London and Helsinki, Two Cow Garage at the Windmill in Brixton and possibly the Broken Family Band.

TV Show of the year

Haven't really watched TV this year. I hate Dr Who, I hate Heroes and Lost and all that bollox. I enjoyed Skins (but can't remember if that came out this year or last). But there was one stand-out. The Sopranos ended in style. Absolute style.

Winner: the Sopranos. For remaining true to the spirit of the show and providing an unconventional and brilliant ending.

Film of the year

This should be easy. Shockingly, I only went to see one film this year... The Simpsons Movie. This wins by default, the two greatest words in the English language (obscure Simpsons joke for the fans there). It was hilarious though. I am going to double that count with a trip to the cinema tonight to see the film on Dylan's life, I'm Not There.

Winner: the Simpsons Movie.

Monday, December 10, 2007

With music in my ears

You may have realised that I've added a new application to this blog. It's a music player which streams tunes from all over the net through to my blog. So you will now have a random song whenever you choose to visit this blog. I've called it He Not Busy Being Born is Busy Dying FM.

Due to technical issues, I've had to place the player at the bottom, so scroll down to see the player and choose tracks.

Here are my first picks and I'll quickly go through the reasons why I chose these tunes. I'll be adding more songs over the coming weeks and will also write about why I chose them.

'Man in Me' by Bob Dylan
Bob in love and for once he's not pissed off at her. Used in the Big Lebowski. It never fails to bring a smile to my face.

'Backstreets' by Bruce Springsteen
See my last blog post!

'Shut the Fuck Up' by Cake
Cake are awesome. I saw them at Latitude for the first time ever. From their album Fashion Nugget. They funked and rocked their way through their set with no setlist or idea of how long they had to play. They just didn't give a fuck and delivered one of the best sets all weekend.

'Running To Stand Still' by U2
Hmmmm. I listened to this repeatedly for a while back in October 2007. Not going to go into that but for a few days it was a very special song indeed and one which helped. And I hate Bono. I then ignored it until last week where it came on random on my iPod. And now I'm listening to it all over again.

'Massive Nights' by The Hold Steady
I've had a few massive nights with the Hold Steady. The song encapsulates the wild spirit of rock and roll. I absolutely love it. From Boys and Girls in America.

'Up To Me' by Bob Dylan
Outake from Blood on the Tracks. It's as good as anything on the album. Think of it as a hidden bonus song or something.

'Jungleland' by Bruce Springsteen
New Jersey ? The protagonist's mind ? My mind ? Who knows. All I know is that it is beautiful. Especially the last lines. And the amazing saxophone solo makes me cry. Every time. From Born to Run.

'Killer Parties' by The Hold Steady
The soundtrack to waking up on the sofa at someone's house the morning after a massive party with empty beer cans, cigarette stubs and rubbish all over the room. Amazing.

'I Think I Smell A Rat' by The White Stripes
The White Stripes at their most bluesy. Brilliant in the live context. Come on Meg, fuck that anxiety attack - go back on the road!

'One True Vine' by Wilco
Outtake from their recent album, Sky Blue Sky. This is awesomely lovely. The reason it's on here is that, for some reason, I don't have the song at home.

'ELT' by Wilco
From Summerteeth. So true and a great song to sing when you're drunk.

'Ballad Of Lou The Welterweight' by The Felice Brothers
Saw these guys at the Windmill in Brixton. They came, they saw, they conquered my heart. I love them.

'Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)' by Kenny Rogers
Again from the Big Lebowski (does it have the best soundtrack? Possibly!). A song about LSD, although in an anti-LSD way.

'Gun' by Jeff Tweedy
"Falling out of love, dear/It hurt much worse when you gave up". Fuck yeah Tweedy, write the lyrics of my life why don't you.

'Itchycoo Park' by Small Faces
Now for the pro-drug songs! It's just very happy and makes me smile even though M&S have nicked it for their ad campaign.

'Eight Miles High' by The Byrds
Another pro-drugs song. Great guitars on here. Simply astounding flower-power noise.

'Simple Twist Of Fate' by Jeff Tweedy
Been listening to this a lot. I never thought the original could be bettered. But I was wrong. I love the fact that he sings the Live 1975 lyrics too.

'Totem Pole' by Dan Sartain

Saw this guy last week. He is the new White Stripes. I went a little bit deaf in my left ear.

'I Can Get Us Out Of Here Tonight' by Lucero
Also saw this band last week. Great country-punk. Songs to get drunk to. This is a live version of the song which features on their most recent album.

'Kitty’s Back' by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
Possibly the most amazing Bruce song live (at least recorded live). The live version I have is about 20 minutes long... This is a slightly different one, from 1978 (I think). I just love the tempo changes and it never fails to bring a smile to my face.

'I See You, You See Me' by The Magic Numbers
A live version of this song. I've seen them countless times at festivals. Everytime I go not expecting to be excited as I have seen them loads of times before. And everytime this song absolutely kills. It's just so beautiful and moving and it without fail makes me cry.

'Stuck Between Stations' (Acoustic) by The Hold Steady
An acoustic version because I hadn't heard this before. It's got great opening lines. Possibly the best opening lines ever.

'Sylvia Plath' by Ryan Adams
Another beautiful song. I guess every man wants his Sylvia Plath.

Went to See the Gypsy

Friday, December 07, 2007

King of the streets

I've been spending the last half hour going through videos on YouTube. It all started with a link to a Tom Waits video and ended up me watching this video below. It's 'Backstreets' by the Boss from 1975. YouTube is fucking great. Name an artist and you'll find some amazing videos. There's just hundreds of hours of videos up there on all your favourite artists at the touch of a button and for free!

There are two reasons why I am writing about this:
1) I got tickets to see him in London and Helsinki in 2008.
2) It's one of my favourite songs, and I've even named by band night at the windmill after it.

Anyway, I wanted to reproduce some of the comments here that were posted to the YouTube video. These are funny for many different ways. They kind of portray what I think about the show and the song.

"why did i have to be born in the frickin nineties "

"The warts define this performance. His voice is in tatters and still perfectly conveys the emotion. Bruce is a soul man at heart. Plus the band is absolutely COOKING."

"I've never seen anything like this, ever. He's known to be one of the best but at the same time he's so terribly underated. There is no one like him. "

"I have seen the future of rock and roll and his name is Bruce Springsteen "
--> "Correction. You have seen rock and roll at it's best. Anything that's come since have been left trailing in his dust "


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Advertising signs that con you

I feel terrible. I saw this headline on the Guardian website:

More than half of Amazon will be lost by 2030, report warns

and the first thing I thought about was the bloody online shop.

It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Like in the middle of Life magazine

Music fans, especially older ones, will no doubt have heard all about this. Morrissey (who will be affectionally referred to as Mozza in this article) was interviewed by the NME. The published article seems to have some comments which could be construed as racist - certainly they appear to have racist undertones.

Mozza is claiming that his remarks were taken out-of-context and twisted by the NME who wanted to create a sensationalist piece in order to boost fledgling sales. You can read Mozza's full rebuttal over at Rockbeatstone. I'm no massive Mozza fan myself, but I can understand why he's pissed off. The fact of the matter is that he's been set-up royaly by the NME.

I was alerted to this by my mate Will with whom I had an empassioned discussion on this topic on Friday - while standing outside a pub sheltering from the rain, smoking rolled up Golden Virginia, in Brixton. We both agreed the NME had gone to shit, much like Mozza suggests in his rebuttal. One thing they may not have considered is how passionate some of his fans are. They make the Dylan freaks look sane.

Here's what they wrote on Conor McNicholas' (editor at NME) wikipedia entry... It will probably change soon, so I've copied the text as I read it at 15:30 on Tuesday 4th December. Go people power. It will be interesting to see how this all ends. It seems as if it will end in the courts... Still some good has come out of this - he probably can't afford this kind of publicity! And he's going on tour soon and has a future album to flog to record labels.

Conor McNicholas is editor of IPC-run music magazine The New Musical Express, better known as the NME. He sold the magazine down the river in the early 2000s by focusing on inconsequential tabloid rubbish and loads of boring identikit, indie-schmindley, pseudo-rebellious bands. He also bears an uncanny resemblance to a rodent, but has never let this get in the way of his magazine's worship of groundbreaking artists such as Dominic Masters.

His first professional post on a magazine was on a fledgling Manchester publication called Sub where he wrote a spoof horoscope under the pen name of Snufkin, which was not all funny. McNicholas went on to write for the dance press holding senior positions at both Ministry and Mixmag magazines before going on to edit Muzik.

In recent years he has turned the NME into a mainstream pop-magazine, with Lily Allen and The Mighty Boosh appearing on the front cover.

During his editorship Conor has won several industry awards including Consumer Magazine Editor of the Year (Periodical Publishers Association Editorial and Publishing Excellence Awards, May 2005), Entertainment Magazine Editor of the Year (British Society of Magazine Editors, November 2005), Tour of the Year for the NME Awards Tour 2006 (Vodafone Live Music Awards, October 2006), Editor of the Year and Music Magazine of the Year (Record of the Day Music Journalism and PR Awards, November 2006 ) and Brand Building Initiative of the Year for Club NME (British Society of Magazine Editors, November 2006).

In October 2007 Conor was listed as one of the 1000 most influential people in London by the Evening Standard.

In 2007 Conor was one of the judges for the Mercury Music Prize. The winning album was Myths Of The Near Future by Klaxons.

However, there has been some criticism over McNicholas's reign as editor, especially over claims that the quality of writing had slipped, the genres of music covered have become less broad and that the magazine now contains less content than in previous years.

In unrelated music news, I've written a piece for Rockbeatstone on Babyshambles' new album, Shotters Nation. The album is actually very good. Not bad for a smack head.

Last Thoughts on Woodie Guthrie

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