“I think it’d be a sad day when The Fall packed up”
I have an erratic thing of posting the Fall on a Friday over on Facebook (where three or four people see it, soon to be one with the new tweaks to the newsfeed). It seemed I could hardly slack off on it this week. Here’s a cracking performance on The Tube, following a pretty decent interview with Muriel Gray in which Smith ponders the workings and future of The Fall. This would have been Friday tea-time/early evening when The Tube pumped a fair amount of unprecedented live music straight into the nation’s living rooms. It was erratic but also brilliant. I remember watching this and it’s almost certainly the first time I ever laid eyes on the group. I don’t remember the first time I heard them but I knew who they were and this added several new layers to my fuzzy conception of what The Fall was. Still, I’d be lying if I made out this was a hugely impactful thing or some kind of revelatory moment for me in the way people are prone to do in these situations. It’s never felt like one, not even now, but the interview was completely unlike others on the show and the black trenchcoat was striking in a somehow very ordinary way. I think I found it more like a puzzle I couldn’t solve than something different and exciting. I’ve no recollection of their first appearance on the show (below) introduced by an oddly attired John Peel and a still young and enthusiastic Jools Holland, although it’s possible I had seen that too. What I find weird about this is that ‘Cruiser’s Creek’ was the first newly released, current, Fall single I bought. It came out just before this appearance and either I’d already bought it and would have been thrilled to see them on telly or, more likely, I went and bought it afterwards because it was brilliant but I really can’t remember, it just refuses to sit in a normal time frame. The Fall are outside time. I’d heard Peel play stuff off ‘The Wonderful and Frightening World of…’ and ‘This Nation’s Saving Grace’, The Fall were always there, they just crept up on me. This idea of them being ‘outside’ is touched on in the interview and no-one seems quite sure how or why it works or what it is. In the mid eighties they had a few contemporaries who would go on to slowly lose direction, make dreadful records or stop altogether. The Fall never really did any of those things did they? Few slightly sub par moments but always moving forward. Thirty years on it’s a lot clearer just how great they were and it’s a sad day that the Fall have packed up.
Fat Santa ringing his bell on a New York street corner is just about as ‘christmas movie’ as it gets right? Unless the movie is ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ I guess, hold that thought. Anyway, today in the ramshackle Hickeysonic advent calendar countdown it’s New Yoik art noise elves Thee Sonic Youth and a chaotically fun reading of a seasonal tongue in cheek anti drugs number. There aren’t a lot of those around really. Unless you count all the ones about drinking, of which there’s no shortage. The Youth’s version is fun while it lasts for sure but I’ve tacked on the Martin Mull original at the bottom because I think it just edges it in my affections. Mull was a 70’s musical comedian who really only came to be known by British audiences when he played Roseanne’s boss. He’s also in Arrested Development at some point comedy fans, which is just as well because I’ve never felt any need to investigate his earlier career and I doubt that many of you will be rushing to check out some 40 year old, allegedly amusing, songs either. It’s not promising is it? This one’ll do fine, let’s not push it. Mull is also credited with first making the old ‘writing about music is like dancing about architecture’ witticism. Make of that what you will but I can’t help feeling it’s become beloved of ‘real music’ bores who seem to miss that he was taking the piss. Elsewhere I thought the omnipresent, ever changing Goo cover meme might throw up something festive for us. I mean surely it should right? Damned if I could find one, and too lazy to make one myself, so here’s my favourite recent version featuring the kids from Bob’s Burgers who, if we want to tie things up with a neat bow, are a TV family not all that far away from the Connors. (apparently the new xmas special is great but I’ve not seen it yet)
Well friends, Christmas time is upon us once more. I don’t know that I possess the requisite fortitude to furnish you all a daily advent calendar countdown of christmas tunes but I might yet make a half hearted mess of the idea. Here to mark the first of December is a remarkable televisual spectacle from last year’s festive season that I think we should all enjoy at least once. ‘Carol Of The Bells’ is kind of a second tier xmas number in that most people recognise it but hardly anyone knows any of the words, I do love it though. Henry Rollins and Stephen Colbert give it a playfully rough shake down. In seasonally appropriate jumpers. That’s right, check it out.
A little sunday afternoon constitutional? How about an agreeable hike with the world’s cuddliest black metal legend and vice-councilman of Oppegård, Fenriz? If we’re going to have black metal aerobics then black metal hiking actually makes a lot more sense. Forests is all the way TRVE CVLT and that. Anyways, this is a calming and enjoyable piece off Norwegian TV from the end of last year in which Fenriz takes a female presenter off into the forest and you don’t, even for an instant, worry he’s going to sacrifice her to the dark lord. They just talk about hiking and how great the forest is and how everybody should come out and enjoy nature and so on. A little bit like Countryfile but with more AC/DC and Ozzy references.
Also, if no-one has yet started a black metal band called ‘The Vice-Councilmen of Oppegård’ they really should get on it right away. Really, whoever is behind this 8-bit cover of the title track of Darkthrone’s last album should use it and get out on the road . . .
November 1976, US TVM ‘The Boy in The Plastic Bubble’ starring a young John Travolta first aired on the ABC television network.
1984 JG Ballard’s ‘What I Believe’ first published in Science Fiction magazine.
I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen.
I believe in my own obsessions, in the beauty of the car crash, in the peace of the submerged forest, in the excitements of the deserted holiday beach, in the elegance of automobile graveyards, in the mystery of multi-storey car parks, in the poetry of abandoned hotels.
I believe in the genital organs of great men and women, in the body postures of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Princes Di, in the sweet odours emanating from their lips as they regard the cameras of the entire world.
1986 Paul Simon releases ‘Graceland’, the first song borrows its title from the TV movie and is also partly inspired by film clips of the Kennedy assassination, as well as Ronald Reagan’s attempted assassination.
And I believe
These are the days of lasers in the jungle
Lasers in the jungle somewhere
Staccato signals of constant information
A loose affiliation of millionaires and billionaires and baby . . .
1991 Bristol Art-pop collective release a cover of ‘The Boy In the Bubble’. This is where we come in almost. Idly pondering the blizzard of accusations regarding liberal or social media bubbles in the wake of Donald Trump’s election, it’s their version that begins to play back in my head. I had forgotten how much I loved The Blue Aeroplanes. It was a smart choice, defended in all seriousness. I was pleased. ‘Boy in The Bubble’ was so odd, so striking and vivid that I bought the 7″ single back in 1986. The only Paul Simon record I have ever owned or most likely ever will. It wasn’t a hit. Between then and the release of their version I had become a big fan of The Blue Aeroplanes early records and dizzying live show. The songs tumble of imagery was like a more reserved and pointed version of Gerard’s word storms, even the riff suited them. Ahead of the curve, the song was subsequently covered by more Mojo worthy ‘serious’ artists like Peter Gabriel and Patti Smith. Apparently too ‘arty’ for the Late Show and too Rock ‘n’ Roll for a Peel session, forever in their own world. It may now be as many as 20 years since I paid them much thought, but they are back in action – playing nearby in January ahead of a new album. They are leading into this with a song about an Elvis festival. Of course. Gerard, like Travolta, is losing his hair. In all other respects they are essentially opposing visions of 20th Century manhood. Whatever that means.
November 24, 1992, Travolta was piloting his Gulfstream N728T at night above a solid undercast, when he experienced a total electrical system failure, while flying under instrument flight rules into Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. During the emergency landing, he almost had a mid-air collision with a USAir Boeing 727, an event attributed to a risky decision by an air traffic controller….
1998 Travolta plays Jack Stanton, a thinly veiled Bill Clinton in ‘Primary Colors’.
2013 watch this jaw droppingly weird clip in which Travolta drives a plane into Oprah’s TV studio. Paul Simon also makes a surprise appearance. Sadly he does not perform ‘Boy In the Bubble’ but a song he wrote for Oprah. It is not too late for Travolta to play the protagonist in a shabby hollywood treatment of one of Ballard’s novels is it? It is not unthinkable that Oprah could be the first black female President either. I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world.
Staccato signals of constant information
A loose affiliation of millionaires
And billionaires and baby. . .
I believe in the mystery and melancholy of a hand,
in the kindness of trees, in the wisdom of light.
The weekend is finally here people, time to gorge your tired mind on beer and vacant entertainments full of subliminal messages that control your actions via a variety of sicky glowing screens. Do you remember back in the days before the interwebs when it was just TV doing that? Not even HD flatscreen TV but those teeming phosphor dots? No? I’m old, we had a black and white TV when I was a kid. The young people of today are missing out on the valuable formative experience of staring at the static of poorly tuned tv, discerning alien messages in the rolling hail of electrical ants racing across their retina. Anyway, here’s a post with three youtube clips in it. Sorry. The cause of all this nostalgic disquiet is a short new clip from raging Brummie punk trio Youth Man who are possibly too damn young to remember a world before wi-fi. They have at least opted for the old school stop frame clay animation to promote their new record. It’s great and it’s only a minute and a half long so watch and enjoy.
If you’re anything like me that put you very much in mind of Lee Hardcastle’s incredible Pingu/The Thing mash up THINGU. If you’ve not seen it before you’re in for a little treat. Even if you have I find it still surpises on repeat viewings. In the past it’s been removed from youtube on a regular basis but now has the apparent approval of John Carpenter himself so hopefully it’ll stick around a bit longer.
Speaking of the actual director of ‘The Thing’ John Carpenter, the wonderful Supersonic Festival people have recently bounced back into action and announced a live performance by Carpenter in Warwick at the end of October. Just in time for Hallowe’en!!! Here’s the last track off his recent ‘debut’ album Lost Themes. The music is great and the visuals are sharp. No claymation unfortunately.