I’ve realised that I’m finding it increasing difficult to write about things I like.
It’s no surprise that ‘positive’ writing is generally harder – I presume that’s taken as a given? – but I seemed totally hamstrung by it these days. I wanted to write a blog piece about The Rockingbirds – how much I love them, how much I feel they missed out on tremendous acclaim and success by being a couple of years too early the ‘alt-country’ thang – but it turned into some kind of wiki-style potted history. Every time I tried to write about how Alan Tyler’s songs make me feel, I just seized up.
So I’ve been thinking about why. It was easy when I was a kid. Even when I was in the more ‘industry’ bits of the ‘industry’, and thus wrote fairly functional reviews, I still had the odd outlet (bigger review pieces, contributions to Lime Lizard etc) to set out my stall in slightly more passionate ways. But now, it just makes me squirm.
I guess it’s about self-consciousness / self-awareness. When you’re younger you’re both happier to look dumb (or unaware that you DO look dumb) and less aware of what your words seem like to others. You can write your purple prose full of absurdly OTT descriptions of the transports of ecstasy that your latest favourite single ever delivers, and you don’t cringe as you do it. As you get older, and you’ve read similar pieces by others and winced at them, perhaps you look at your own writing and clam up.
It’s also, I suspect, a rare talent to write with a ton of enthusiasm and passion about music and not look like an arse. Somebody like Bangs could do it (his review of Astral Weeks is pretty much my benchmark for this kind of writing) but more often than not even he just sounded like a cough-medicine-addled tit.
And that’s why, I guess, you end up with the Mojo / Uncut school of music writing – long on references and analogies and comparisons, but pretty short on joy and excitement. The aforementioned Rockingbirds piece did all that – compared them, contextualised them, boxed them off. It wasn’t a bad piece, really, but you wouldn’t have come away with any real sense of why I love them so much. Which is a shame.
The flipside of this, of course, is that it never seems to get any hard to write damning criticism of things. Even things you don’t detest, exactly. In fact, as you get older and more cynical and you’ve consumed more ‘stuff’, it all serves as further ammunition, till you can spew out all sorts of clever bile about rubbish pop records and pompous indie goons. And for every review of the calibre of the Bangs one mentioned above, I bet I could name 10 brilliant demolition jobs where a writer has reduced some poor sod to a heap of fuck-all. At least, in the writer’s mind, and mine…
Filed under: Uncategorized
Just realised I probably missed a trick here.. We’ve produced the 2nd ever run of People’s Republic of Disco tshirts, designed by myself (mostly) and damn good quality too..
We’ ve got the full range of bloke’s sizes and some girls fitted tees too (although fast running out of these).. They’re a tenner plus postage, so if you fancy one, email us and we’ll sort it out. Not many left, so I shouldn’t hang around..
A great day ambling around north London (part of an ongoing campaign to do ‘different’ stuff and not spend every weekend wankered or recovering from being wankered) saw PieFace and I end up at Come Down & Meet The Folks in the early evening.
I used to go to this fairly regularly when it was in its two Camden locations but have failed to make it to the new pub – The Apple Tree in Clerkenwell(ish) – probably for the ‘wankered’ reasons above. I was expecting a new, spacious location but instead the pub – which is a grand old place on Mount Pleasant – was absolutely rammed, with people squeezed onto stairways and even forced to stand in the pub’s glass-panelled porch and peer through. Apparently, it’s not usually this crazy but it was all about Redlands Palomino Co, of whom more later.
First shock of the evening was seeing Alan Tyler reborn as a heavily-bearded mountain man. Alan’s someone I know to say hello to / chat with and he’s pretty much a hero of mine, because he fronted the Rockingbirds. Of whom, I suspect much more later, in another post.
Anyway, these days he fronts The Lost Sons of Littlefield and runs Come Down & Meet The Folks (Steve Tree used to run it with him but has fled to California or something, which is a shame – Steve is I believe widely regarded as the nicest man ever, and possibly the 5th tallest) and is incredibly hairy (the above pic must be quite old!).
I guess the main thing about CD&MTF is the music – all broadly in a country / country rock / bluegrass vein, although everything from The Stones to folk to a bit of rocksteady even has been known to appear on the decks (this week manned by John The Boatman, who has a fascinating face and bears a passing resemblance to a dignified, melancholy Harry H Corbett). You usually get two main acts and a short acoustic try-out spot, and sometimes Alan plays a song or two as well. All of which is free, save for the pintglass passed round at the close for donations (and is always brimming by the end).
But there’s also a fantastic environment to the club – it runs from about 5-8.30pm on a Sunday which works really well, and the atmosphere is incredibly friendly and welcoming and involving. I’d not been for more than a year but still saw a few regulars who remembered me, which is good for a South London boy in a North London boozer.. It’s all a bit shambolic – bands squeezed between tables, potplants getting caught in strings, fairly solid drunkenness.
The first guy yesterday, who’s name I don’t recall, was pretty good – looked like Gram, sounded like Rod singing one of Gram’s songs, you get the picture. Next up were the Southern Tenants Folk Union, who were great.
Looking like a Camden take on The Band – slightly ragged church-going suits and impressive sideburns – they’re very much in the southern gospel / bluegrass / gothic americana vein and damned good at it, especially since they’re a fairly new outfit (although they’ve got members from The Arlenes, The Coal Porters, Foghorn Leghorn and a bunch of others). All a bit haphazard but great songs and very ‘authentic’, although in this kind of context maybe that’s an insult (“presumably atheist North Londoners sing Appalachian songs about Jesus. Discuss”).
Redlands Palomino Company headlined and were really enjoyable, even though initial impressions were that they’re a bit pedestrian / MOR
I guess it IS a bit MOR – very pleasant and very crafted country rock with lots of harmonies and passion. But something about their enthusiasm, their drinking, the atmosphere and lots of pedal steel (“knitting machine”) won us over (which is a good job since I think the crowd were so partisan, any dissent could have seen us driven out of North London with flaming pitchforks). Nothing too astonishing, then, but pretty decent.. Oh, and a guest spot from a former Sugababes member (Siobhan, the first one to fall victim to the Mutya Machine) helped, too..
So, yes, totally recommended – I can’t think of another club that operates in quite the same way (perhaps What’s Cookin’ in Leytonstone, which by its own admission nicked the CD&MTF template to very good effect) and quite so successfully.
Filed under: Dancing
well as I understand it, the below-mentioned Okupational Hazard didn’t happen – the building was busted or somesuch. The bookfair was full of the usual ‘will they / won’t they’ bullshit, so in the end you don’t know WHAT’S going on, but the OH website seemed to confirm that the game was up… Sad news, but I wonder if the chaos last year (where OH happened, and was kinda fun, but was in a woefully inadequate building) fed into the failure this year to pull it off – perhaps the organisers were uneasy about taking just any old building. A damn shame, and I hope the rumours about the event happening in the next fortnight prove to be true…
The last Okupational Hazard was mayhem, to say the least – last minute building switching meant the building shown was too small, didn’t have enough stairs and toilets and finished up with a stream of piss running down the stairwells and cartoon punks fighting to climb over each other. Great fun all round!
Hopefully, this one’ll have a slightly more suitable venue. Fil Planet’s playing, as are the brilliant Inner Terrestrials. Details here
One day all blogs will be written this way:
PULP – “DIFFERENT CLASS” DELUXE EDITION 2XCD
You know you’ve become some pathetic middle-aged SELLOUT when you start re-buying things you had on cassette years ago. And so, here we have the ambiguous “Mis-Shapes”, which always had me thinking: if a group of physically disabled people went to a Pulp gig, would they be welcomed or cold-shouldered by the hordes of art students who’d been dolling themselves up at the Retro Clothing Exchange?
There also used to be a great scam going if you were working class and male; most female students from privileged backgrounds used to experiment with ‘a bit of rough’ at least once during their educations. As long as you a) didn’t fall in love with the rich bitch b) didn’t expect this relationship to last beyond the end of her degree, at the very longest c) certainly didn’t expect to get any real dosh or social status out of it – maybe a couple of T-shirts and some free drinks in a members’ club full of arseholes, but little else d) never felt the need to actually let on that you found her fucking dumb and boring and played up your ‘working classness’ to full effect, you were sorted. Of course, though, Jarvis Cocker was driven by the same insistence on truth, honesty and justice that powers this blog, and so he gave away the secret with the chart smash hit “Common People”. Well done, mate. No, you take a pat on the back, me old Cocker. Fucked that scam for good, you lousy little bleeder. Not that I’d know anyway, I never indulged in this trickery. I used to be open about wanting to spank the pert arses of the daughters of Lords and Ladies, while playing Whitehouse’s ErectorLP at full blast.
And then there’s “Disco 2000”, and memories of **** come flooding back, even down to that line “Martin said that you were the best”, which she used to go on about, as if the thing had some massive significance to….right, fuck this –
And “Sorted for Es and Whizz”, a sonic buffer to Faithless’ ‘revolution through E’ fantasies and all this Temporary Autonomous Zone shctick. I used to know this bloke who took loads of Es with his girlfriend, and they both ended up developing ‘E jealousy’ when either of them took it with someone else! Mad or what? He tried to write a book about E which was so unbearably bad I couldn’t bring myself to beg him to stop sending me bits. Then things all went tits-up when his girlfriend discovered we’d been passing sheets around down the pub and laughing at the bit where he has an MDMA-induced religious experience on a train between Derby and Crewe. And she cried, and made me feel like a backstabbing cunt. Later, he dumped her for some girl he’d taken an E with for the first time.
“I Spy” – self-explanatory, “there’s more than one way to fight a class war”
There’s loads more stuff, but it’s fucking brilliant, no matter what anyone says to the contrary.
VERDICT – Is it true the Pussycat Dolls are men, or is this just another urban myth? I heard about 3 separate people claiming this fact as gospel earlier in the year, but now nobody seems to mention it. Don’t take speed, it gives you blackheads
That’s the way to do it. Our hero also gives me a particularly life-affirming cameo in some Home-ric blog pulp fiction, which warmed the cockles:
PUBVERSION WAS BASHING out a venomous slag-off of the trendy bar “Meet”, situated just down the road from superclub Fabric. He laughed as he chugged on a Stella and verbally slaughtered the brainless cunts and slags who paid 4 quid for a bottle of beer in this miserable, soulless abortion of an establishment.
Suddenly – his front door flew inwards as two SO19 officers burst in.
“FREEZE!” the cops yelled, raising their guns.
“Eat lead, rozzer!” the blogger snapped back, reaching for his Luger and blasting one of the pigs’ heads off. However, as he savoured this small victory, the other cop riddled his body with bullets.