Saturday, 5 October 2013

Musical Magpie

 I am lucky enough to Live in London. London is one of the world's great cities and one of the thing that makes it great is the museums and exhibitions that you get to see. last week I got too see the David Bowie exhibition at the Victoria and Albert (V&A). The exhibition is called 'David Bowie is', and it is a huge collection of memorabilia and multi media going through his career.

That amount of stuff they have to listen to, watch and look at is amazing. We were there for about 90 minutes and scratched the surface. As a bowie fan, it was great. lots of good songs with the original costumes, things like original handwritten lyric sheets. Talks with collaborators on Album covers, set design , guitarists and all of the other people in between.

The most interesting part for me was a series of three essay like pieces that you could listen to going through the different periods of the music. The Ziggy years. the Berlin era and then what could be described as after that. In the first part of it, and indeed in a lot of the exhibition it talked about Bowie soaking up influences from his surroundings. The writer of the piece and presenter, Howard Goodall, pointed out that the guitar in Rebel Rebel is quite similar to that of a Rolling Stones riff and that it could be pointed out by some that as the Rolling Stones were the biggest band in the world at the time , arguably given Led Zeppelin obviously, that this was not coincidental. He then went to pains to point out that there was no way that Bowie would have copied or borrowed a style.

But then he had to say that didn't he.

Here it it

A great deal of the exhibition went on and on about how much a trail blazer that Bowie was (actually it also tried to say is, but I will get to that later). Do we agree with this? Well it is a little complicated isn't it.

There is no doubt that he had a different style from the main stream at the time. Although let's not forget that when Space Oddity came out it was 1969, and an androgynous man was not that unusual. Indeed like so much of the image of Bowie, it is taken very much from the theater and the many actors that are listed as inspiration by Bowie himself.

Still a good song though - seen through modern eyes here

Let's also not forget that when Ziggy was actually 'born' in 1972 we had subsequently had 2 years of T-Rexsity and 'glam' was fully underway.

You see where I am going here. It isn't that original really. It isn't a new idea. It is a similar idea with a couple of quirks taken from other sources thrown in and packed up for the masses. That, you see is my point here. Like so many other very successful artists that are considered trial blazers, what they actually do is scoop up the underground, mix it with some other influences and re-package it. because they are famous , people see it as the new trend. They are branded as heroes for it

A poor link , but I enjoyed it.

You can make very similar arguments for the Berlin era and the post Berlin, pre Tin Machine albums. The electronic and more industrial sounds were already coming out of Germany. Let's be honest here, Bowie didn't throw a dart at Europe, hit Berlin and say, 'I know a great place for this music that is completely unique'. It is true that he did have a previous, well documented love of the Cabaret scene in Berlin from the 30s and various artists from that and slightly previous to that who were based in Berlin.

No, he moved there because that is what he wanted to Absorb.

That song, has Nile Rodgers from Chic playing on it. Indeed much of the music you know and love has Nile Rodgers playing on it. I am going to write about that at some point, remind me. Again here we have Bowie taking something, a sound out of one area and putting it to the mainstream.

You could quite correctly argue that in using the leading Disco Guitarist of the age is hardly going into the underground. Perhaps that shows that he was slipping and after being the bringer of musical greatness to the masses for a decade, his finger slipped from the pulse.

Which leads me to the decline of Bowie. I have thought about this topic quite a lot. it has always struck me as a bit odd that he was able to produce such good music for so long and then it just went off. Well, you will be completely shocked to learn that i have a theory on the topic.

As per the above Bowie spent a lot of time absorbing and regenerating, in other ways obviously, the sights and sounds. He was if not ever the biggest performer in the world, certainly the one with the most credibility left, despite being so huge. There must have been a point where he decided, you know wht? i m going to put this out and if people don't like it then it doesn't matter so much.

Something I learnt recently was that there are two albums between Let's Dance and the Tin Machine 'experiment'. Before I get there, imagine being in Tin Machine , which, according to Bowie was a proper band to which he was the lead singer. I have never heard anyone ever say that they think Tin Machine is Bowie's best work, in fact i have heard such esteemed people as Robert Smith from The Cure describe it as ' the most horrible disappointment of my life. I love Bowie but I simply couldn't listen to Tin Machine'. It is the same for everyone. So you are asked by David Bowie to be in his band,. imagine how cool that would be. Then it is Tin Machine. That must suck, a lot.

Any way, back to the theory, ah yes, he basically decided to make the truly avant guard music he always wanted to. It is just that no one else really wanted to hear it. it wasn't part of a underground swelling in music that he helped shape and bring to the mainstream. it was what was in his head originally.

So, enough, one of the great things about writing this pievce has been the chance to narrow down to my favourite Bowie song. because let's face it. Everyone has a favourite don't they.

Well i have two, because , well I am special and a snowflake and all that sort of stuff.


and the man who sold the world

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Disappointed by expectations

So, today I found out that Ray Davies, from this band

and Chrissy Hynde , from this band

Had a daughter.

She made the news today because as part of a Fracking protest in Middle England. She and her boyfriend glued their hands together around a post . . . .

Now, I do not know this woman, never will and I realise I am putting two and two together and getting five.  However . . . how about writing a protest song???

I mean seriously

both your parents performed this song!!!Stop it and do something

Sunday, 23 June 2013


Just thought I would put it out there that the 'Discover' function on the latest edition of Spotify is fantastic.

It allows you to see whom the people you are following are listening to and it also sugests, you might like this because you listened to that type of thing.

I read an article in one of the financial papers a week or so again talking about the issues of data collection. I am sure you have noticed that sidebar ads are now much more tailored to your needs! The article described the way that the logic the programs are using are starting to be able to make very educated guesses as to what we will or will not like. This is a good or a bad thing depending on what you think about the various costs and benefits of the way it works.

It is quite funny when you listen to a playlist for a party, and spotify then says, 'you listened to Will Smith, you might also like Colour me Badd' . . . err no, actually, I wouldn't like that at all. But hey, thanks for asking.

A Sunday of discovering new music awaits me . . . how cool is that

Just for a laugh

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Ray Manzarek

So Ray died this week.

Sad news.

I must admit that I am not a massive fan of his, but I fully recognize that it was largely his influence that gave the doors their unique sound.

So here is a Doors top 11. In playing order, not rated.

LA Woman
Love Her madly
People are strange
Roadhouse blues
Maggie M'gill
Been down so long
Take it as it comes
The Crystal ship
Winter time love
Riders on the storm
The End

Because every Doors playlist has to end with The End

If you want to hear the songs they are on my Spotify playlists

Top ten Doors songs +1

Top ten Doors songs +1

You forget sometimes how good The Doors were.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Boys don't cry

I was told about an article by a mate which says that in a poll these were the top ten songs that make men cry.

1. Everybody Hurts (REM)
2. Tears in Heaven (Eric Clapton)
3. Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)
4. Nothing Compares 2 U (Sinead O'Connor)
5. With or Without You (U2)
6. The Drugs Don't Work (The Verve)
7. Candle in the Wind (Elton John)
8. Streets of Philadelphia (Bruce Springsteen)
9. Unchained Melody (Todd Duncan)
10. Angels (Robbie Williams)

To be honest I have to say that apart from 3,6 and maybe 4 I think that this is a poll done by people who had a list of ten songs and asked people to rate them. Here is the article:

Time for a song

(love the old pictures)

So, boys cry. We know that. I had a look on Spotify to see what lists other people have come up with and to be reminded of songs that might make me well up. I don't know if this is something that can be done. What I mean by this is that I can name some songs, and I will , and you may have the same reaction I did to the above list, which is a shrug and not really a response.

I mean the #2 song by Eric Clapton. That song is a song he wrote when his son died at the age of 4 after falling out a window. The song is a tribute to the boy and asks if he would recognise Clapton in heaven. Sad stuff. But it doesn't make me well up because I do not have an emotional attachment to it.
Having an emotional attachment to the music is really what gets the tears going.

With that in mind here are some of the songs I think bring the tears to me.

Cat's In The Cradle.

I have no idea if you have a son, but you have/had a dad. That song makes it extremely difficult not to think about that relationship. Good or bad, it is an extremely sentimental song and as such it speaks to some emotion. I am not going to bore you with the details of my relationships, but I have a father and a son and to me there is emotion connected to both that makes that song poignant in many ways.

This song always elicits a response from me as well:

That is because it takes me to a place where I remember those people I have known who intentionally or otherwise committed suicide. I miss them and so in a moment of self pity I start to well up a bit. It is a bit of a mood thing though. If it is grey and dark and I am hungover then I am more likely to go off than on other occasions.

I have to admit that I am a bit of a crier. I think that I am a relatively calm person, but particularly sentimental films make me well up. I am not a sobber I hasten to add. Nor does pain elicit tears, well not yet anyway. Put me in front of a sentimental film, particularly on a plane, and the eyes start burning. . . .I guess though that my love of music underpins this. Music brings out an emotional response and it is not really much of a leap to then think that sentimentality and becoming emotionally involved in the song or film will have many effects. One might be crying.

I tell you because the next song is completely left field, to say the least

I dont really know why. I guess it gets me thinking about how great some things are and how much it would hurt to lose them. It is more than that. I think of the loss of joy. By this I mean that I think the song is a celebration of how great and wonderful it is to have the things the song talks about and the feelings that they emote. To lose that joy really hits me in a wierd way. Am I the only one?

It does seem though that although I have a strong love for darker emotional music, not a lot of songs actually bring the tears. Whilst writing this I have been listening to Joy division, The Cure, Counting Crows, Massive Attack, Alice in Chains. Husker Du, you know, happy songs about sunshine and butterflies  . . . .I have come to the realization that the songs that make a man cry, or anyone cry for that matter, are songs that drag you into them and then relate the topic to something in your life. Whether it is the loss of that or more likely  applying the situation in the song to that facet in your own life, means that you become sad and cry.

So? Give me some songs and I will put a list together from music people and send it to the same people who put the other list together.

Thanks to Greg for the suggestion and the link.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Array FM

In this post here I lamented the loss of a good radio station.

I asked you for help, I did, you gave me nothing, nothing at all. Bit disappointed in you.

Anyway, despite the pain of your silence I found a good alternative rock station on my own.

Under Alternative Rock there is a station called Array FM. It is a US station. Plays some great new and newish music. . .Give it go. . .

or don't, but I would appreciate a response on what I should listen to.


The crux of it all

I am often asked what kind of music I like, obviously I say 'all different kinds'. To which people think I am trying not answer, or even worse, aren't that into music at all. Which is just a horrible thought.

So I am going to change my response to;

'Any kind of music where there is some sort of passion behind it.'

I think that this will be a far more interesting response and hopefully lead to more interesting discussion.

Ironically there isn't much more to say about this, other than to ask you, what do you say when people ask you what type of music you are in to?

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Is it wrong Part II

So, got a karaoke machine. Actually had a small party and hired a machine for the night. Was a lot of fun.

A good stress relief as well.

Machine arrived during the week and just setting it up now

So, now I am the kind of person who has a karaoke machine in their house . . . not sure if I saw that one coming. Although I guess on every level it was somehow inevitable.

Need to take guitar lessons as well now . . .

Monday, 4 March 2013

Learning to Love . . .Jazz

Back again, am getting into the hang of writing a bit more regularly and I hope you are liking it.

So Jazz, yes I know, Jazz

I had a look but was unable to find the specific reference, but I am sure that I am on record saying that I hate Jazz. The Ruminator hates Jazz, doesn't quite have the same ring to it as Johnny hates Jazz does it?

Why did I hate Jazz and what has changed? Well , to me Jazz typifies that worst part of the musical snobbery. The type that looks down its nose at the 2 minutepop song, and laughs at the teenage angst of punk, sneers at urban agression and sniggers at metal. It sits there, all smug and satisfied and says, you know I am music for adults.  Except that of course it doesn't, because it is music and whilst we can argue all music has personality, it does not have attitude in itself, because it is just squiggles on a piece of paper.

Music gets its personality from the people that make it and the people that listen to it. After all, if no one ever hears a piece of music does it actually exist? (no smart arse comments about blogs that no one reads please)

Try this, it is an endurance test

On youtube that is called 'Sexy Smooth Jazz' . Now I am sorry but anything that has to describe itself as sexy, isn't, and smooth? Well if by smooth they mean really boring and unadventurous , then I guess it is smooth. The point being that people that need to be told this are as bad as the people that need to describe it as this. Anybody who needs to be told what mood to be in when they listen to a piece of music is clearly taking a short cut to thinking for themselves. So, as you can imagine they are not the people I would like to discuss music with. Although it is fun to be mean to them. Like teasing a dumb dog. (so who is a snob now? I get the irony)

The thing I found about the people that like it was that they always seemed to have an affection for it because they thought that was what they were supposed to do. That is what it meant to be a sophisticate. There is nothing sophisticated about painting by numbers, nor listening to music by numbers.

My introduction to came about because my Dad loved and still loves traditional Jazz, Trad Jazz. Think along these exact lines.

Now please do not get me wrong. I am not saying that is a bad piece of music. It isn't. But it really doesn't appeal to me in any way. It comes from an age I have no relation to. It , to my ears anyway, lacks a passion or an intensity. I guess that is a time thing as well as I imagine when it first came out it was fresh and new and maybe intense. At least in some way, otherwise we wouldn't still know about it today.

To my ear, a lot of Trad Jazz sounds pretty similar. Although, to be clear, I am not talking about the jazz singers. The singers are able to inject the music with a heart. Think Ella Fitzgerald. You listen to that not because the music is great. But because her voice and the sadness and triumph in it is so amazing.

So, disliked Jazz, disliked Jazz people. Enjoyed the jazz singers but only sporadically. Left it at that. I was fine with it, and the universe seemed to be as well.

I was looking for a music documentary to watch. I love a good documentary as you know. There is a great one called ' 1959, The year that changed Jazz'. It of course went through 'Something Blue' by Miles Davis. Which of course had crossed my path at times. I actually listened to it this time though. it is very good. But that is obviously the most obvious part of 'modern' jazz.

It also went through Mingus Ah Um by Charles Mingus. Listen to this

That is the first track off the album. That is cool. that has some swagger and it appears to have a heart as well. It went into a little detail about Charles Mingus. Who was basically appears to have had one of the best musical tempers of all time. His widow describes with some boredom how people come up to her the repeatedly and describe the amzing loss of temper they saw. It seems to be mainly over what he thought should be happening in music.

They also went through Dave Brubeck, you will have heard this

I am not sure exactly how to describe the reasons why I like that track. It has something of a 60s film in it. I am sure a search would reveal the film, but that is not the point. There is a light in the music. Something that is both airy and serious at the same time. I think that the passing of time has made it a bit ubiquitous, but is still sounds very fresh.

The last album that they talked abut was this one, and it is much more challenging. Ornette Coleman's The shape of Jazz to come.

Whereas Dave Brubeck was all light, there is a much seedier, dark undertone to that piece called Eventually. All the stuff I love.

So, I found four albums that I like. It turns out these are about the four most famous Jazz albums there are, excluding jazz singers again.

What does it all mean? I guess if there is to be a moral to this little story it would be start things at the beginning. Or perhaps it is a case of let the experts separate the wheat from the chaff for you and then start getting involved. I think that I am perhaps a little more interested in these albums because the documentary gave me some insight into the people and their passion for the music. It also helps that it is ground breaking and inventive music in many ways.

I can not sit and listen to this music for long periods of time. Not like I can to Tool , Opeth, Aphex Twin, or other similarly intricate music. After I listen to it, I still hanker for something faster and a little more modern. But at least I am not turning it off now. I guess that is as good as it is going to get with Jazz.

It will have to do for now.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Is it wrong?

Is it wrong that I bought a Karaoke machine?

Is Karaoke cool? Does it matter?

This was going to be a 2 line post. But now I am a little intrigued , why? Well because it taps into the very heart of music.

Should participating in music, albeit at the most basic, primitive level, have a cool or not sticker on it? Look, I get that singing karaoke has nothing to do with being a musician, or does it have anything to do with creativity. But, if you can sing a song note perfect and properly phrased, then surely you are more musical than some one who can't. (this is not me by the way, I am told I can sing a little bit. My idols are people like Bruce Dickinson - however I can't and will not ever be able to sing like this)

The point being, many many of us have sung into a hairbrush, or in front of a mirror , or something similar. Many more of us have sung along at a concert. What is the difference if you supplant yourself into the lead singer role? I guess the reason for not doing this is because we make such an awful hash of it.

However, there are people that can sing like that and do at Karaoke, should we cast our derision on them because they are not cool? Well to be honest if they go on X-Factor or Pop idol yes. That is only because it is the music industry using a 15 minute fame idea to re-hash old songs and make money and has nothing to do with moving music forward. The people that do this and expect to be anything other than a short lived singles chart name are delusional. That said, there is that girl that one an Oscar isn't there?

I guess the other issue is, should being perceived as cool have anything to do with what music you like? Or in this case, like to sing? Obviously it shouldn't. Do you think though that someone who is note perfect in a Sonic Youth song is cooler than someone who is the same in a Michael Bolton song?

Hard to argue for that one isn't it? We know it shouldn't matter. I know you read the first part of that and said to yourself that of course you do not judge people on their music taste. But really? honestly? you don't?

I do. I have to say that because there is so much evidence of it in the 100+ posts on this blog.

Anyway, as I said this was supposed to be a short post. I am looking forward to getting Karaoke machine for the house and who knows, I may even sing Khe Sahn and some Beatles songs.

I will expand on this topic in the learning to Love series, but for now I would appreciate your thoughts.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Learning to love . . .The Beatles

So, welcome to the second post in the Learning to Love series.

This post is about the world's most popular band. The band that people cite as inventing modern music, the album, and the 60s. The band that people rate above all others despite the fact they split up 40 or more years ago.

Why do people love a band with such passion even though the band is from such a different time and space that they could have no real connection to it? I have never really understood that. It has been explained to me, but never in a way that I felt was satisfactory. In a way that made me feel like I have been taken to half a dinner, or given half a pint of beer. Although I must acknowledge at this point, that it is no different to my teenage love of Zeppelin, Doors, Metallica. . .um I am going to move on.

So, my dad had a copy of Please, Please me in the house. Didn't every one's? It was one of the first albums I listened to I think. I remember playing it again and again. Particularly liking this track

At the age of 12 or so it has an energy and a life to it that makes you want to dance around like an idiot. Which is good. The album also had 'I saw her standing there', 'Love me Do' and others on it. It was the only album of the Beatles that was in the house. It seems that my parents didn't really like their other stuff. Well sort of, actually what it came down to was that they were Stones fans. They liked the more bluesy feel to the Stones music rather than the pop feel of the Beatles.

I was the same. In the great revival of everything old, which seems to happen about every 5 years on some time period, hereto 'unknown' by the 20 somethings of the world, The Beatles were revived a lot. A lot. Think about it, there was the 'lost tracks', the reissues, the new 'best ofs' etc etc. Everytime this sort of thing happened I was basically reminded why I preferred the Stones. A comparison for you

A little later , you can tell from the clothes, but none the less a bit more gritty. Remember, this is during my teens and so anything that was rebellious was appealing. That said, it wasn't long until I discovered my own music. In fact by 13 or 14 I really disliked both the Beatles and the Stones and my musical journey had started. As I went into great length about here.

So, The Beatles passed me by a little bit. I was aware of them, I think everyone is aware of them now aren't they? I mean everyone, on every continent, in every country , in every town. If someone said to you, I have never heard a Beatles track, you would be stunned. Or maybe I am just of that age, old.

I moved to England in my 20s and bought a couple of their CDs. I think it was A Hard Days Night and Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club. I enjoyed them both. Vastly different albums. As I have said again and again I never really understood why Sgt Peppers is so revered. I think it is because the first album I bought was Pet Sounds and to my ear that is still a superior record. Although I know that is very heavily debated and I will not go into it now.

That is a great song. I am not trying to deny that in anyway. That said, it relates to a time that I don't. The thing is, there is so much other music out there. I worked with a guy whose music taste I really admired. He effectively made me buy Rubber Soul and The White Album. Interesting stuff. A lot of great tracks and a lot of original thought. However, I was getting very heavily into Prog and starting to listen to Ambient electronica, such as it was at the time.

Again, as the music didn't grab me it let me go and I really didn't become much more of a fan. I would like to stress that it wasn't because of some anti-reaction. I liked it, some of it I loved. But I wasn't in love with it. Ha ha , I heard that said the other day on some movie or similar. What does it even mean? I love it but am am not in love with it. Ridiculous. What I mean is that practically, there are songs that I was very pleased to hear when they came on, but I didn't put them on myself.

So the years passed, alarmingly quickly actually, I lived in Japan, which was super groovy. The Japanese love, to the OCD point of it being disturbing, The Beatles. I still was a bit take or leave it.

Then I started writing this blog. I wrote this piece here 'Do the Beatles matter anymore' . Please read for my views on the Lennon vs McCartney debate. A few people contacted me over the post and tried to convince me how misplaced my views on the Beatles were. More than a few actually. Although I see only two people actually commented directly. Why does no one comment? I guess people have to read it first!

Anyway, so, being the open minded (we all think that about ourselves by the way) person I am . I thought I would give the Beatles a go.

I am getting there. I am. I have realised that I will never by the guy that raves about the Beatles as the guys Here do. But I am starting to get it.

The Music is very well crafted and the melodies are amazing. I see, or maybe hear, the production qualities are very far ahead of their time (not as good as Pet Sounds but hey what is?) I like this song for those qualities

I am not sure what to take from this musical journey. I guess some things you have to work a lot harder for. It occurs to me that this should not be the way with something that is a passion. If it doesn't come naturally then should it be forced? I know that the argument is then that some things are worth working for and the rewards will be greater at the end.

Is this true with The Beatles? Well , let's hope so.

Appreciate your comments.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Learning to hate Spam

Ok, not on the topic of the current series, but I am getting a lot of spam comments.

Mainly they say how much they enjoy the posts and ask me to look at theirs . . .which takes me to a dating site

I guess I should be flattered? But it means my (admittedly dismal) following stats are massively distorted and why would they be posting in the comments field anyway . . .

That said they are all under the blog Music for Sex . . .maybe their engines are picking up on the word sex



Anyway , just wanted to rant. Hope all is good with you


Sunday, 17 February 2013

Learning to love U2

yeah right . . .

Click here

Some things are not going to happen dear Ruminators

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Learning to Love Khe Sanh

Welcome to the first in the series of Learning to love.

This post is about a song and what it stands for. It is also how I came to not hate it anymore.

The song is Khe Sanh, as you may have guessed from the title , which is by an Australian band called Cold Chisel, here it is

As you can see from the video, it was a late 70s song. Apparently perms were big in Australia at the time.  The song is about a Vietnam veteran who tries to return to 'normal' life after his time in the war. It is quite poignant at times.

I hated this song for most of my life.

Why? Well, this song and the band Cold Chisel are synonymous with the Australian redneck culture. It is played at pubs at 2 am , as well as 7,8,9,10 etc, all around the country and every time it is, the drunk and seemingly patriotic Aussies belt it out. Except they can't sing, and they are generally not patriotic but racist. They also do not like anyone who does not like the song. Happy to fight etc.

For me it also ran deeper than that though. It was also about the fact that when I was growing up everyone in Australia was basically expected to like the song and the band. As you know if you have read other posts. That sort of rubbish leads me to dislike something straight away.The song is so mainstream that it has come to define an era of aussie pub rock. In some way it also represents a country , as opposed to a city, culture as well.

Interestingly it is often played at the same time as this song, by Steve Earle

Learning to love . . . .


Miss me? again . . .I am worse that a deadbeat Dad aren't I? Come and go as i please.

Well, it is time for some more love. I am going to start writing a series. it will keep me entertained and help to rejuvenate my writing a little bit.

I am going to call the series, the 'Learning to love' series. This is about the idea that you can learn to love any type of music.In the series I hope to portray my musical journey a little bit, and maybe, just maybe get you to love some of the music a bit.

It might get a bit personal, but hey, this is my space, albeit owned by Google. . .

Will be writing a bit more. Promise, not just Christmas cards and a call at your birthday.

So, lets give it go Ruminators . . I have decided to call you Ruminators . . it isn't rude I promise. .

The Animal does not rock anymore

This is just a complaint. For the last 6 years I have been listening to I-Tunes radio, in classic rock there was a station called the Animal Rocks

It was great, it played everything from The Beatles to Soundgarden. I like new music, but I also like classics sometimes.

And now it gone. Just disappeared.

If you listen to I-Tunes radio please tell me about good stations. It is hard to identify the good from the bad frankly