Published on 24 Oct 2014
Cloudbusting performing Kate Bush’s ‘Under Ice’ and ‘Wow’. Recorded live at Tavistock Wharf, Oct 2014
January 30, 2015
January 27, 2015
The mariner is sailing
Sailing across the sea
Seeking out the enemy
Bringing spices back home to me
Spanish gold for the taking
At the harbour of Cadiz
Their fleet they left a-blazing
On the Ocean bed, stone cold, her cannons lie
Eldorado lies a shimmering
Shimmering like a mirage
Luring the merchant venturers
On a brutal grim and overlong voyage
Treasure laden galleons
Lemons, melons and quince
Strange exotic cargo
Gift and garlands fit for the Prince
And Gloriana rules with a woman’s wiles
Plays the coquette with politics and smiles
A computer for a brain in the body of a child
All temper and guile
And the girls on the beach
They are lying out of reach
They rub oil on their skins
And roll in the sand of hated Spain
And the girls in sidewalk bars
Drink their coffee, smoke their cigars
And laugh at the waiting maid
Who covers afraid of the Prince
And Gloriana in stiff starched lace
With pearls in her hair and thunder on her face
Screams with rage: Has God left this place?
There’s no God in this place
And the girls on the phone
Ring collect when they call home
And talk inconsequent
Will pass in a moment a thousand miles
And the girls in the airport lounge
Are awaiting the tannoy sound
For the flight to Brazil
With a couple of weeks to kill in the sun
And Gloriana so harsh and chaste
The soldier in her breast is raging at the waste
Of Victories lost and battles left unfaced
For want of such haste
And the girls in high-strapped shoes
With a tan they never lose
Wear the cross of gold
In memory of stories told in Sunday School
And the girls without the Church
Leave their lovers in the church
But seldom sleep alone
And think no more of Rome than a tourist town
And Gloriana sits slumped on the throne
Her head in her hands is weeping alone
Dreaming of the past and times that are gone
Dreams of time to come
And the mariner is sailing
Sailing across the sea
Seeking out the enemy
Bringing spices back home to me
Bring me my scallops shell of quiet
My staff of faith to walk upon
My scrip of joy, immortal diet
My bottle of salvation
My Gown of glory, hopes true gauge
And thus I’ll take my pilgrimage
January 26, 2015
Published on 25 Sep 2014
On October 15, 2013 Al Stewart performed his classic “Year Of The Cat” album in its entirety for the first time ever in London at the Royal Albert Hall, with a band containing many of the musicians who played on the original recording.
Here is Al performing the title song with original band members Peter White (piano, musical director), Tim Renwick (el gtr), Stuart Elliott (drums) and Phil Kenzie (alto sax)- along with Mark Griffiths (bass), Dave Nachmanoff (gtr) and Joe Becket (perc).
January 24, 2015
At risk of alienating some of my younger friends — it’s already more than two decades since Nirvana’s final concert:
Yes, it’s been over 20 years now since Nirvana played their last show, and if you’re old enough to have been there, go ahead and take a moment of silence to mourn your lost youth. Given the relative paucity of raw, authentic-sounding guitar rock these days, it’s tempting to romanticize the nineties as halcyon days, but that kind of nostalgia should be tempered by an honest accounting of the tedious flood of grunge-like also-rans the corporate labels released upon us after Nirvana’s mainstream success. In a certain sense, the demise of that band and death of its leader marks the end of so-called “alternative” rock (whatever that meant) as a genuine alternative. After Nirvana, a deluge of growly, angsty, and not especially listenable bands took over the airwaves and festival circuits. Before them — well, if you don’t know, ask your once-hip aunts and uncles.
January 21, 2015
Published on 25 Oct 2013
Al Stewart, Lord Grenville, Royal Albert Hall October 15th 2013
From the Facebook page:
You simply don’t want to miss Al Stewart with a full band, led by musical director Peter White, at the Royal Albert Hall in London – 16 May & the second night, 22 May 2015. They added the second night due to the high demand for tickets. They’ll perform the albums “Past Present & Future” and “Year of the Cat” in their entirety. Grab those tickets now.
January 20, 2015
Mark Knopfler talks to Paul Sexton about some significant way markers in his life and career:
2. On how his love of guitars developed as a boy:
“I knew what the Fender catalogue smelt like, what the grain of paper was like, I wanted this thing so badly. I was always in trouble at school. I would be making metallic noises at the back of the class and playing ‘Wipeout’ runs on my desktop”
3. On his first guitar, a twin pick-up Höfner V2:
“I managed to get my dad to buy that, bless him. It cost him 50 quid, which was a big stretch for him. I didn’t have the nerve then to ask him for an amplifier, so I used to borrow friends’ acoustic guitars. Looking back, they were pretty bad, pretty often, but I learned to play on them”
4. On teaching himself to play:
“I learned to fingerpick on acoustic guitars, and playing with a flat pick on the electric, so I had that sort of dual education. Being self-taught, you can really go off in the wrong direction for years. It’s a guitar teacher’s nightmare”
16. On playing the old Dire Straits hits:
“People will always want you to play songs from the songbook, that’s part of what you’re doing playing live. You’ve got to please yourself, but at the same time it’s a celebration. You’re all there to have a good time together. I enjoyed writing the songs, I enjoyed recording them so I’m going to enjoy playing them. If I get up there and play ‘Romeo & Juliet’ or ‘Brothers In Arms,’ it’s because I want to play them. It’s important to me that it’s important to people, that you’ve created milestones in people’s lives”
January 18, 2015
From Open Culture, the original clip that got the Spinal Tap movie greenlighted:
When This is Spinal Tap came out over 30 years ago, it went over a lot of people’s heads. “Everybody thought it was a real band,” recalled director Rob Reiner. “Everyone said, ‘Why would you make a movie about a band that no one has heard of?’”
It’s hard to believe that lines like “You can’t dust for vomit” failed to come off as anything but a joke. But, to be fair, Hollywood comedies were generally straight-forward affairs in the ‘80s. Think Blues Brothers or Fletch. Fake documentaries weren’t a thing. And This is Spinal Tap looks and feels exactly like a rock documentary – the hagiographic voiceover, the shaky camera, the awkward interviews. The movie was just as unscripted as rock docs like Don’t Look Back, The Song Remains the Same and The Kids Are All Right. The film is not only a parody of the generally overblown silliness of rock and roll, it is also, as Newsweek’s David Ansen notes, “a satire of the documentary form itself, complete with perfectly faded clips from old TV shows of the band in its mod and flower-child incarnations.”
January 14, 2015
At Open Culture, Josh Jones talks about Dave Grohl’s early work while he was still a member of Nirvana:
Like ‘em or lump ‘em, you should give ‘em credit — Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters have kind of redefined the concept album with their latest, Sonic Highways, pushing a tired form in a refreshing direction. Rather than a self-contained narrative, the record opens itself up to tell the stories of rock ‘n’ roll itself or, as Allmusic puts it, “the classic rock that unites the U.S. from coast to coast.” Picking up where his celebratory film Sound City left off, Grohl ties in his newest release with a series of HBO documentaries that visit cities from New York, to Nashville, Austin, New Orleans, L.A., Washington, DC., and Seattle to tell their musical stories.
Of course, the musical history of that last metropolis cannot be narrated without reference to Grohl’s former band, and so, Consequence of Sound informs us, “Nirvana received heavy focus during the [Seattle Sonic Highways] episode as Dave Grohl recounted his time in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame outfit. Among the biggest revelations was the time Kurt Cobain asked to hear solo recordings Grohl had been working on during Nirvana’s 1992 tour.”
“Kurt heard that, and kissed me on the face, as he was in a bath,” Grohl revealed. “He was so excited. He was like, ‘I heard you recorded some stuff with Barrett [Jones].’ I was like, ‘Yeah.’ He was like, ‘Let me hear it.’ I was too afraid to be in the same room as he listened to it.”
Opera makes things double tricky. A big swath of humanity regards fondness for opera as highbrow in itself. The merest acquaintance with truly dedicated opera buffs will set you right on that. To them, brow-height-wise, the bel canto style that owns my affections — which is to say, early 19th-century Italian opera — ranks somewhere down there with roller derby and monster truck shows.
John Derbyshire, “Confessions of a Middlebrow”, Taki’s Magazine, 2014-05-22
January 13, 2015
Michael Geist says that the fiasco with the new Canadian copyright notice scheme was not necessary and that the minister should have paid closer attention:
Last week I posted on how Rightscorp, a U.S.-based anti-piracy company, was using Canada’s new copyright notice-and-notice system to require Internet providers to send threats and misstatements of Canadian law in an effort to extract payments based on unproven infringement allegations. Many Canadians may be frightened into a settlement payment since they will be unaware that some of the legal information in the notice is inaccurate and that Rightscorp and BMG do not know who they are.
The revelations attracted considerable attention (I covered the issue in my weekly technology law column – Toronto Star version, homepage version), with NDP Industry Critic Peggy Nash calling on the government to close the loophole that permits false threats. Nash noted that “Canadians are receiving notices threatening them with fines thirty times higher than the law allows for allegedly downloading copyrighted material. The Conservatives are letting these companies send false legal information to Canadians in order to scare them into paying settlements for movies or music no one has even proved they’ve actually downloaded.”
With the notices escalating as a political issue, Jake Enright, Industry Minister James Moore’s spokesman, said on Friday the government would take action. Enright said that “these notices are misleading and companies cannot use them to demand money from Canadians”, adding that government officials would be contacting ISPs and rights holders to stop the practice.
January 8, 2015
Mike Masnick included a fascinating chart in this story:
What it shows is that while new books are available for sale, they quickly go out of print and are basically not available — until you get down to 1923, at which point the works are in the public domain. Think of all those works that are no longer available to buy in that major gap in the middle. Heald has since updated that research to show how serious a problem this is — and demonstrating how the arguments against letting these works into the public domain make no sense. He demolishes the arguments made by some that a public domain will be either “under” or “over” exploited (yes, both arguments are made), as neither makes much sense.
It appears that copyright is doing similar damage in Europe. At the latest Chaos Communications Congress in Germany, Julia Reda, the European Parliament member from the Pirate Party gave a talk on the state of copyright law today (you can see the video here and included a similar graphic concerning books available in Europe:
January 6, 2015
Mark Steyn sings the praises of Frank Sinatra:
Frank Sinatra was the most influential popular singer of the 20th century – not just because of a six-decade career of big hit records, but because his taste in music and the longevity of his success helped shape and expand the American Songbook. Not all icons survive death: I think of Leonard Bernstein or Bob Fosse, both at their passing the most celebrated practitioners in their respective fields, or Bing Crosby, the biggest selling recording artist of all time at the time he left us, and these days little more than a guy who gets played on the holiday channels in the month before Christmas. Either because of inept stewardship of the legacy, or a reputation that depended on live presence to maintain the conceit, or a combination of both, even the most dominant pop culture celebrity can dwindle away to the point where a decade later on no-one can quite recall what all the fuss was about. With Frank Sinatra, the opposite seems to have happened. When the gravelly old bruiser of the global stadium tours finally expired in 1998, it made it easier for a younger generation to see the man in his prime: the best singer of the best songs by the best writers in the best arrangements. Just about everything short of his morning mouthwash gargles has been excavated, digitally remastered and released on CD. And, if that’s not enough, younger fellows like Michael Bublé and Robbie Williams can build huge careers on what are essentially karaoke performances of Sinatra staples, relying on the sheer power of his charts for “Come Fly With Me”, “For Once In My Life”, “One For My Baby” to deflect just enough retro-cool their way.
He was born into an Italian immigrant family in Hoboken, New Jersey in December 1915. So, to mark this centenary year, we’re celebrating Sinatra’s art with one hundred of his songs, from his earliest hits through to the barnstorming showstoppers of his final years on tour in the Nineties – twice a week from now through to the anniversary of his birth on December 12th. From “Night And Day” to “New York, New York”, “The Lady Is A Tramp” to “One For My Baby”, these hundred songs are simultaneously a portrait of one man’s legend, the times he lived, and a century of American popular music. Here’s what I wrote in Mark Steyn From Head To Toe:
“Rock’n’roll people love Frank Sinatra,” said Bono at the 1994 Grammy Awards, “because Frank Sinatra has got what we want. Swagger and attitude. He’s big on attitude. Serious attitude. Bad attitude. Frank’s the Chairman of the Bad.” If only 20 per cent of the gossip is true, it was an amazing life… But what’s even more amazing than the life is that the records live up to it, and then some. The swagger and attitude, the chicks and mobsters are the incidental accompaniment; the real drama is in the songs.
So these are the songs: some are by famous men — Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart; others are by obscure figures like E A Swan or Joseph Myrow, whose names live on in one outstanding 32-bar contribution that Sinatra noticed and chose to keep alive; some of these songs are numbers written for Frank that he made into standards; others are from forgotten shows and films from a generation earlier that survived because of his championing of them. Indeed, the very notion of a standard — a song that transcends mere Hit Parade ranking and can be re-investigated in different styles over and over across the decades — is one of Sinatra’s great contributions to American popular music. Just ask Bob Dylan, whose own album of Sinatra “uncover versions” (as he calls them) is about to be released.
January 2, 2015
The Center for the Study of the Public Domain (at Duke Law), lists some of the better-known works that should have become public domain in the United States this year, except for the extension of copyright terms:
Current US law extends copyright for 70 years after the date of the author’s death, and corporate “works-for-hire” are copyrighted for 95 years after publication. But prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years — an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years. Under those laws, works published in 1958 would enter the public domain on January 1, 2015, where they would be “free as the air to common use.” Under current copyright law, we’ll have to wait until 2054. And no published works will enter our public domain until 2019. The laws in other countries are different — thousands of works are entering the public domain in Canada and the EU on January 1.
What books and plays would be entering the public domain if we had the pre-1978 copyright laws? You might recognize some of the titles below.
- Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
- Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition
- Isaac Asimov (writing as Paul French), Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn
- Simone de Beauvoir, Mémoires d’une jeune fille rangée (Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter)
- Michael Bond, A Bear Called Paddington, with illustrations by Peggy Fortnum
- Eugene Burdick and William Lederer, The Ugly American
- Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s
- Agatha Christie, Ordeal by Innocence
- John Kenneth Galbraith, The Affluent Society
- Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story
- Claude Lévi-Strauss, Anthropologie Structurale (Structural Anthropology)
- Mary Renault, The King Must Die
- Dr. Seuss, Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories
- T.H. White, The Once and Future King
What a trove of books — imagine these being freely available to students and educators around the world. You would be free to translate these books into other languages, create Braille or audio versions for visually impaired readers (if you think that publishers wouldn’t object to this, you would be wrong), or adapt them for theater or film. You could read them online or buy cheaper print editions, because others were free to republish them. (Empirical studies have shown that public domain books are less expensive, available in more editions and formats, and more likely to be in print — see here, here, and here.) Imagine a digital Library of Alexandria containing all of the world’s books from 1958 and earlier, where, thanks to technology, you can search, link, annotate, copy and paste. (Google Books has brought us closer to this reality, but for copyrighted books where there is no separate agreement with the copyright holder, it only shows three short snippets, not the whole book.) You could use these books in your own stories — The Once and Future King was free to draw upon Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur (a compilation of King Arthur legends) because Malory’s work was in the public domain. One tale inspires another. That is how the public domain feeds creativity. Instead of seeing these literary works enter the public domain in 2015, we will have to wait until 2054.
December 26, 2014
Mark Steyn on how the brave and timely action of a “special-events employee” in Riverside California just barely averted a horrific hate-ish crime-ish:
I passed through Shannon Airport in Ireland the other day. They’ve got a “holiday” display in the terminal, but guess what? It says “Merry Christmas.” The Emerald Isle has a few Jews, and these days rather a lot of Muslims, and presumably even a militant atheist or two, but they don’t seem inclined to sue the bejasus out of every event in the Yuletide season. By contrast, the Associated Press reports the following from Riverside, Calif.:
A high school choir was asked to stop singing Christmas carols during an ice skating show featuring Olympic medalist Sasha Cohen out of concern the skater would be offended…
I hasten to add this Sasha Cohen is not the Sacha Baron Cohen of the hit movie Borat. The Olympic S. Cohen is a young lady; the Borat S. Cohen is a man, though his singlet would not be out of place in a louche Slav entry to the ice-dancing pairs. Likewise, the skater-puts-carols-on-ice incident seems as sharply satirical of contemporary America as anything in Borat, at least in its distillation of the coerciveness of “tolerance”:
A city staff member, accompanied by a police officer, approached the Rubidoux High School Madrigals at the Riverside Outdoor Ice Skating Rink just as they launched into ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen’ and requested that the troupe stop singing…
The cop and the staffer — “special-events employee Michelle Baldwin” — were not acting on a complaint from the celebrity skater. They were just taking offense on her behalf, no doubt deriving a kinky vicarious thrill at preventing a hypothetical “hate crime.” The young miss is Jewish, and so they assumed that the strains of “Merry Gentlemen” wafting across the air must be an abomination to her. In fact, if you go to sashacohen.com, you’ll see the headline: “Join Sasha On Her Christmas Tree Lighting Tour.” That’s right, she’s going round the country skating at Christmas tree lighting ceremonies. Christmas tree lighting ceremonies accompanied by singers singing Christmas music that uses the C word itself — just like Sasha does on her Web site.
Nonetheless, the Special Events Commissar and her Carol Cop swung into action and decided to act in loco Cohenis and go loco. Many of my fellow pundits find themselves fighting vainly the old ennui when it comes to the whole John Gibson “War On Christmas” shtick, but I think they’re missing something: The idea of calling a cop to break up the singing of “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” would strike most of the planet as insane.