Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Check this out part 3: Apparently

James at Big Dada sent over a new track by the Anti-Pop Consortium. Now being the shallow ass fool I can sometimes be I didn't check it out immediately for various reasons like:
1. I'm a shallow ass fool.
2. The name made me subliminally think of the Anti-Nowhere League - who were fucking rubbish.

So once I'd thought about it and once I realised that James, and Big Dada/Ninja Tune, would never have anything to do with music as crappy as the ANL I gave it a listen, and then another and kept on playing it. Then I went to their myspace and listened to everything they have there as well.

It was like a huge lungful of fresh air, like standing at the top of a mountain on the sunniest day of the year with a gentle breeze blowing the cleanest air into your body, like being a kid in the extra maths class when the penny finally drops on some weird theorem or such. There's a long line of consciousness, from James Baldwin through the Last Poets, to Gil Scott-Heron to Boogie Down Productions and KRS 1 into Public Enemy. If you are tired of pumped up steroid fuelled fools telling us all about their gun/car/penis/hoes/bitches* (*delete where appropriate) and for once would like to hear something that posits another route to realising potential, another way of viewing things, then check them out. Anti-Pop Consortium offer a different paradigm. You can free download here.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Put the needle on the record....

Photo: Phil Breeden
Last Friday night I was asked to DJ at the wonderful Luminaire. Situated on London's exotic Kilburn High Road it's a small venue of great repute set amongst a sea of style and sophistication. (I'm working on the principal that most people reading this have never actually been to Kilburn!)

Anyway the occasion was the first London gig by a old band from the days of punk called Punishment of Luxury. I took some comfort in the fact that they too looked nothing like their pictures of the early days. Whereas I have avoided drawing attention to the difference between the young god-like figure I used to cut and the distinguished elder statesman of punk that I have become Punilux made, I feel, something of a faux pas in projecting their early band photos onto their backdrop as they played. This was an unfortunate then and now scenario and I think we all know that when the then was 30 years back the now does not tend to come out as well!

That said they were a wonderful bunch of guys and, musicwise, were tight, proficient and could certainly teach many bands I have seen recently a thing or two about set pacing, performance and communication. Needless to say they went down a storm with an adoring audience who were loving and warm and knew all the words. All power to them.

There was also a young Ealing band called Depot on the bill and I strongly recommend anyone to check them out. Drawing on the reggae/ska period of the late 70s, like The Members or The Ruts, they gave real pleasure. Their material was punchy and to the point and the band were tight, composed and excellent. Normally I'd pick out an individual to praise in such situations but in this case that would be unfair as every member of the four piece brought an intrinsic element to the whole. The keyboard player kicks in occasionally with a trumpet and this adds a slash of colour to the flow of their sound that is ear grabbing and immediate. I haven't enjoyed a new band as much since I heard Arctic Monkeys for the first time. Plus they'd just finished their A levels that day.

They were telling me that they had to play a second set and were worried that they didn't have enough material. Unfortunately I had to leave half way through the second set but not before I had been blown away by their dub stylings and their ability to improvise around their incredibly tight rhythm section. I hadn't seen anything like it since the last Members gig when we'd smoked enough weed to keep Kingston going for a week and stepped outta Babylon. I strongly recommend them to anyone.

As for me I was great. Playing a mainly punk/reggae set with a bit of NYC in 1980 thrown into the mix I was pleased to see how well all that stuff goes down. It still sounds fresh and vital and, to be honest, I don't think there's anything to touch a bit of roots reggae. Rockers time now!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Britain's Got No Idea of Priority

So some woman who can sing a bit but isn't very attractive in the terms of TV world crashes and burns because the pressure on her was enormous, the scrutiny of the press and media centred on the premise that she was as ugly as sin but really a lovely person and how amazing is that, she'd pretty much been led to believe that she was a shoe in for the number one spot and then it all evaporated - in front of many million people. Then she had what is often called, ironically, "an episode".

OK, so she has been all over TV and such for the past few weeks as the media handlers for Britain's Got Talent got their machine into overdrive and thrust this person into our homes whether we wanted to know about their cheesy talent show or not BUT that does not mean that in the midst of a huge financial crisis, a political system in freefall and a overall sense that our political leaders really need to get a fucking grip, from both major parties, and get our financial system reformed and our political system overhauled that I want to see the Prime Minister of my country spending time commenting about a bloody television freak show and telling me he's been spending time chatting to shallow media hacks when he should be dealing with all the other rubbish going on in our lives.

My god, a plane full of our neighbours went down in the Atlantic with no survivors but the lead story is bloody Susan Boyle. Where the hell is our sense of priorities in these times? Britain's Got Talent is cheap entertainment, it's a freak show, it's bread and circuses, an excuse for ITV to make programming that involves little thought or imagination. Like I said, it's a freak show.

If you want to be a singer great, go out and fight for it, play some gigs, write some songs but don't for a minute think that the couple of appearance on a television show is going to make you successful in any meaningful way. A couple of years of cruise ship appearances or, in the best scenario, a career in musicals. It's not going to make you wealthy; if anything it's going to destroy the rest of your life. When the cameras have gone and the hacks stop doorstepping and people stop shouting at you in the street because there's a new TV non-personality being pushed the hunger doesn't go away, it grows and eats at you. You want those fleeting moments of fame back. You don't want to go back to what you were, but you don't know what else to do because everything that happened to you was controlled by other people. The songs were supplied to you, you were told where to be and when and, unlike real bands or musicians, there is no personal hinterland of support. It's bad enough being for real when the label turfs you out and doesn't return your calls but there's talent to fall back on.

Karaoke singers don't have that option.