Tuesday, 24 August 2010

White Lies vs Alan Bennett

I'm not really sure what I man when I say that Harry McVeigh of White Lies has an 80's voice. I mean he doesn't sound anything like John Farnham or either of Mel or Kim. Is it an easy comparison to make if I mention Joy Division? They claim to be more influenced by Talking Heads, although that influence is hardly evident. Maybe they will go on to make awful Brazilian compilations. Other influences include Secret Machines, who, surely, are the closest to Led Zep Bonhamesque battering you are likely to find. Peter finds White Lies 'a bit too polished' and I know what he means, although they have a nice turn of phrase at times. That makes them sound like Alan Bennett, which I am sure is not the effect they were looking for. I can imagine Alan saying 'He said my heart is faint, and left him crying next to the chapel steps, oh and these biscuits are a bit dry'.

The Best Score Writers in the Industry

In the ongoing series of guest posts, here is one from one of the guys over at My Dog Ate My Blog.

Often, the praise for a great film goes directly to the director. If you think of the classics, though, most have something in common: great, iconic music. The score of a film can create suspense, drama, or be just plain catchy. Here are ten of the top film score writers whose music you definitely know, even if you don't know their name.
1. John Williams: Williams has scored some of the most iconic American films, such as Jaws, Home Alone, E.T., and The Star Wars Saga.
  • Why he's great: Whether or not you realize it, Williams compositions are most likely lodged into your pop culture subconscious.
  • Have a listen: Star Wars Medley

2. Bernard Hermann: Hermann is known for teaming up with Alfred Hitchcock to score his most suspenseful films, including Psycho, Vertigo, and North by Northwest.
  • Why he's great: Hermann's creativity transformed and modernized music for thrillers and suspenseful movies.
  • Have a listen: Psycho theme

3. Max Steiner: Called "the father of film music," Steiner was one of the first to compose music for motion pictures His list of films reads as a list of American classics: Gone With the Wind, Casablanca, and Little Women are some of his best known.
  • Why he's great: When Steiner first arrived in America in 1914, he had only a few dollars to his name. He worked as a musician for 15 years before scoring films.
  • Have a listen: Gone With the Wind- "Tara's Theme"

4. Elmer Bernstein: Bernstein rose to fame by scoring classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, The Ten Commandments, and The Man with the Golden Arm. Later on, he took a chance by scoring National Lampoon's Animal House, which sparked a second wave of his career scoring comedies.
  • Why he's great: Bernstein was not afraid of attempting all types of film, and thus, we have some of the best comedy scores in history, including Ghostbusters and Airplane!
  • Have a listen: Airplane! Medley

5. Jerry Goldsmith: Goldsmith composed for many films, but most were action filled: Rambo:First Blood, Chinatown, and Basic Instinct are some of his most notable scores.
  • Why he's great: Goldsmith experimented with lots of strange instruments not usually found in film scores, like schofar, pizzicati, and steel drums.
  • Have a listen: Star Trek: The Motion Picture theme

6. Henry Mancini: After his first year at Julliard, Mancini was drafted into the army to serve in WWII. After he was discharged, he went on to score many memorable TV shows and movies, like Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Pink Panther, and The Party.
  • Why he's great: Mancini found time to do a little bit of everything; he recorded his own albums (over 90 of them!), voice acted, and even made an appearance on Frasier.
  • Have a listen: The Pink Panther theme

7. Lalo Schifrin: This Argentine composer has written the music for many classic action films. Cool Hand Luke and Enter the Dragon are among his most famous, and he scored the music for the long running Mission: Impossible TV series.
  • Why he's great: Schifrin founded his own record label, Aleph Records, and his work has been sampled on famous hip-hop records.
  • Have a listen: Mission:Impossible theme

8. James Horner: If you want drama, you want James Horner's scores. You can hear his intensity in Braveheart, Apollo 13, The Perfect Storm, and Avatar.

9. John Barry: This English composer's family was in the film business, sparking his interest in movies. He went on to write the soundtracks for eleven James Bond flicks.
  • Why he's great: Barry might be great, but he's also failed: he took a chance and wrote the music for two Broadway disasters, The Little Prince and the Aviator and Lolita, My Love.
  • Have a listen: Dr. No

10. Maurice Jarre: Jarre's scores are modern classics. He won three academy awards for Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago, and A Passage to India.

Joy Henry is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog 

Friday, 20 August 2010

John Wayne

I have had a long conversation with a friend today on the subject of film stars of old and how they don’t make them like they used to. No Jimmy Stewart's, no Yul Bryner's, no Garbo, no Betty Davies and no Errol Flynn. How John Wayne and his films possibly couldn’t be made in this day and age. The Quiet Man, easily one of the greatest films ever made, would not have got past the script stage I will wager.
What does this have to do with music Peter? I am coming to that. John Wayne, that glorious all American god of epic proportions, thats who I am celebrating today in song, verse and lyric.

John Wayne was born with a girls name, like Sue I guess you learn to either fight or get beaten. John Wayne oozed masculinity and maybe that's why. I don't know. Seemingly he also had very VERY Conservative politics. Unapologetic concerning his views on race and homosexuals, today he would be laughed at. As he said in She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, "Don't apologize—it's a sign of weakness."

John Wayne died in 1979 and his death at least in our household was every bit as important as John Lennon or Marty Robbins and time and again I find myself going back to True Grit or The Cowboys.

In 1982, Hardcore Punk band MDC released their debut album, Millions of Dead Cops, on it was the track John Wayne Was A Nazi.

John Wayne Was A Nazi by MDC

Its not an opinion they were alone in sharing and this release had some influence on Mike Burkett of NOFX and the song and the band get a mention on their song 13 Stitches from War On Errorism.

“The next time I went to the whiskey,
It was DOA with millions of Dead Cops.
The latter band played faster than I could believe,
But the Songs sounded the same and kinda sucked.
'Cept John Wayne was a nazi,
And Joey Shithead was a drunk.
Then John Macias beat some hippie to a pulp,
Cuz Having long hair was a mistake.”
- 13 Stitches by NOFX

13 Stitches by NOFX

1982 at least in song was the year that John Wayne was getting name checked as Haysi Fantayzee released their debut single “John Wayne is Big Leggy.” Naivety saw me thinking this was a rude song but no, again its a critique of Waynes apparent racism. 1982 and the kids are pissed off. Maybe True Grit was repeated a little too often.

John Wayne Is Big Leggy by Haysi Fantayzee

"Any man who'd make an X-rated movie ought to have to take his daughter to see it." John Wayne.

In 1973 The Duke released an album in the shadow of Watergate entitled, America, Why I Love Her. Its an odd spoken word album, but hell you have to love the mans unbridled patriotism. As someone that loves Johnny Cash’s Ragged Old Flag, its another at times that sounds like “Barts People” but as it’s John Wayne, criticise it? The hell I will.

America, Why I Love Her by John Wayne.

Billy Idol celebrated Marion Morrison in his song John Wayne and stepped back from the name calling, Billy wanted to feel like John Wayne, cos John Wayne was brave. Psst Billy, he was playing a character.

John Wayne by Billy Idol

Celebrated in song, loved and hated in equal measures John Wayne was a childhood icon as important as Evel Knievel or The animal Kwackers. The only difference with that is The Animal Kwackers never said;

“I believe in white supremacy until blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don't believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.... The academic community has developed certain tests that determine whether the blacks are sufficiently equipped scholastically.... I don't feel guilty about the fact that five or ten generations ago these people were slaves. Now I'm not condoning slavery. It's just a fact of life, like the kid who gets infantile paralysis and can't play football like the rest of us.”

Sometimes John Wayne was a bit of an idiot.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Oooooff Malibu

So, Peter, west midland wanderer (that's not him above, that's John Shuttleworth), has returned to warm confines of I Taught Myself How to Grow Old. We almost withered away without him, as I sat, shivering through the Chilean winter, staring at my earthquake rattled (and cracked walls), listening only to Barney songs with my 2 year old. Peter had clearly transfered from the Ford Fiesta (and the alphabetised listening schedule) to the regional railways as his Facebook updates told of tense exchanges with railway employees on wind-blown platforms. Welcome back Peter, with a Smiths bashing ode.

My listening habits have been listless, dull and uninspiring through the winter. Old favourites failed to warm my bones. The ipod has been filled with spoken word for the commute lately, or, more often than not, episodes of The Shuttleworths BBC Radio 4 program. Ken Worthington's misadventures, Plonker's baby and Joan Chitty have entertained me more than most other things, and of course John's musical creations are deserving of high praise indeed. With these words ringing in your ears, witness the man himself. I wonder if his insights carry into other cultures. I fear that the ex sweet factory security operative (Rotheram area), also known as John Le Shuttle, has not broken international markets quite yet.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

The genius of Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want

Morrissey was a hero to most but he don’t mean shit to me. Chuck D said that. Its on an unreleased song though, you won’t have heard it, its dead rare.

Although I can take or leave the North Western divas flouncing and utterly high opinion of himself, he has always been around and featured in some way throughout my life, if it wasn’t friends that in the normal run of things would be described as resolutely heterosexual only to turn into Monty Pythons camp soldiers at the merest mention of him, if it wasn’t them it was girlfriends, girlfriends and a wife that would have and would dump me given the word by the bequiffed one. For me he was just there, he did that music but it was all a bit, merely OK.

One song though has been a constant companion over the years, its a song that was was and is omnipresent, that separated the boys from the men in The smiths canon of work and still haunts me today.

Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want.

At some point in the mid eighties a friend played me Hatful of Hollow, I say played, he played it at me, he made me listen to it and I guess if it was released now with a title such as The Smiths Greatest Hits Volume 1, no one would deny that wasn’t so, If it is your thing its possibly one of if not the greatest albums ever made. Wikipedia informs me that in 2000 it was considered to be the 44th of all time. Wowsers, THATS good. Mid eighties me though kept looking at his watch and muttering under his breath. Till the end that is, then coming in all different, all beautiful, all gorgeous and utterly different was Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want. In all its sub 2 minute lovliness.

Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want by The Smiths

The song saunters in, gives the briefest of hello’s and then buggers off again with nary a bye nor leave, it is, to quote John Peel, short to the point of abruptness. It was long enough to sear an impression though, and the impression was indelibly seared. So much so that I made it my next move to hurry back for The A Team and forget about the song for a year or two.

Fast forward to Christmas 1985 and Barry Norman is giving us his run down of the films of the year, usual twaddle, foreign language I will be bound but at the end he dangles a carrot of what is to come in 1986, as the credits roll he plays the Twist and Shout scene from the fantastic Ferris Buellers Day Off. A film that I had to see, and did see as soon as Shrewsbury’s cinema was ready to show it. I adored that film and then during a scene at a museum, perhaps at the point where Sloane realises that she loves Ferris, then the sound of Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want their instrumental version fills the scene, but at the hands of The Dream Academy. Time has shown me that Life In A Northern Town is a great song, but what they put into The Smiths track was sublime, beautiful and perfection between soundtrack and scene. I had to buy that. I still own that 7” and if grooves could talk it would tell you that it was and possibly is my most played 7”, either that or Wig Wam Bam by The Sweet (what can I say I worked at Butlins for 7 years, it was a popular party dance tune).

Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want by The Dream Academy.

Time moves on and with time comes compilation tapes, the maker and the receiver. The thing with compilation tapes, mixtapes is that that little bit at the end of track 13 or 14 needs filling or you have either half a song or a minute or two of nothing. There is only one song that is happy to fit that and that is Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want, be it The Smiths version, The Dream Academy’s version, Deftones version or of late OK Go’s version or the fantastic Decemberists and their version. Covered by many, end of side two mixtape for all.

Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want by She and Him.

These days it has popped up on the 500 Days of Summer soundtrack in two guises, the faultless original and the magnificent cover performed by Zooey Deschanel and M Ward as She and Him. The song is always there, always about, ubiquitous and it needs to be. For all of the dross Morrissey and The Smiths have produced over the years, his flirtations and mistakes, Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want remains perfect.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The Prodogal Returns

If you access this site via RSS, and who doesn’t you may have seen a number of older posts drop in today. Soz, I was merely pruning the spam we have been subject to. Its like some sort of obtrusive weed, unless you get rid of it all, it attracts others.

Derek Sivers aside I have been extremely quiet of late, the commute went from car to train and instead of CD’s I have been catching up on my literature, if you call a disappointing Mark Radcliffe book literature. Seriously, avoid Northern Sky, as much as I love the man, its a stinker.

The inability to get beyond The Drums and The XX albums has meant little other music has permeated my universe, but blimey what fine fine albums they are. A friend asked me to don't believe the hype with regards The Drums, its difficult when it’s so solid.

I will make more attempts as the year wears on to contribute more and possibly even get back to listening to the remainder of my CD collection, the avoidance of Dylan and the live album procured for me one Christmas is looking less and less likely.

The Prodigal Returns by Byrdie Green.

Byrdie Green was Dhar Braxtons mum, she was also a vocalist of extraordinary quality, actually that might be over egging the pudding. She was pretty good as blues tinged soul gospel vocalists go. The track above is from 1968, and I think it must be Johnny Hammond on organ, Byrdie Green gave it all up to raise her two daughters, the aforementioned Dhar Braxton wento on to have the odd hit in her own name before Byrdie returned to performing later in life.
Sadly Byrdie Green died in 2008 following a bout of emphysema.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Derek Sivers

You probably won’t have heard of Derek Sivers. He was a pretty successful music retailer. In a world of music retail where we could have been selling shoes, Derek Sivers definitely didn’t sell shoes. I like Derek Sivers.

In 1997 to sell his own music Sivers set up a site called CD Baby, it did the job and other artists though hey I wonder if you could sell my CD’s. With this Sivers instilled some rules, and ethos,

• The musician will be paid every week
• The musician will get the full name and address of everyone who purchases their music (unless they opt out)
• The musician will never be removed from the system for not selling enough
• The site will never accept advertising or paid-placement

Fair enough, and you know CD Baby flourished, I myself have bought CD’s from them and their rates, for artists mean that the artist isn’t being gouged. I like CD Baby, I liked them a lot for their confirmation emails, here is one...

“Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with
sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure
it was in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over
the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money
can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party
marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of
Portland waved "Bon Voyage!" to your package, on its way to you, in
our private CD Baby jet on this day, Friday, October 19th.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did.
Your picture is on our wall as "Customer of the Year." We're all
exhausted but can't wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!


Then 2008 Derek Sivers thought time to give it all up. He put CD Baby into a charitable trust and then when it was sold that the trust got a pretty hefty wedge. Derek Sivers the intelligent man that he is, if he had sold it and contributed that money to that charitable trust then of course the IRS would have took a pretty fair old percentage of that. Giving to the charity first made for sound charity sense. Derek explains it all here http://sivers.org/trust

Derek’s site has his blog, articles and resources for musicians, he lives life comfortably but not extravagantly. His site is definitely worth a visit. http://sivers.org/