Sunday, August 27, 2006

There probably are few things as great in this life as a good (early) Roxy Music song. Even though it has been a year since the exhilirating discovery of For Your Pleasure, I only recently realized that purchasing their self-titled debut would be a good idea. Maybe I was put off by the nice, but decidedly normal Stranded. So then came "Re-make/Re-model". I wasn't expecting anything in particular from the album, or the song, but around three minutes in, I knew these guys really had something great going, even if for a few years. I think Ferry said something along the lines of "I could talk talk talk talk talk myself to death / But I believe I would only waste my breath". Yeah.

Friday, August 25, 2006

No, please believe me, I was touched; it suggested for a moment that contrary to what I sometimes think, there has been something of worth to have come out of the last few years of writing. Does that make my silence confusing? Nonsensical, perhaps? I have little doubt that it is, but things were once complicated, if you cast your mind far back enough. I think my mind is still stranded in that bog, and every once in a while I think it is with good reason! So I suppose this is my apology, but also my defense, no matter how weak. Do not make the mistake of thinking that you are nothing, because you are, you are; or at least, you were. But I am being told by experience that to admit as much would be foolish, and only tempt history to revert to those times that are best left untouched.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Roughly two years on, it's warming to look back at VU's self-titled third album, The Velvet Underground, not only for the music, but as a reminder of the vagaries of my winsome taste and opinion. I think I rated it 16.5/20 the first time*, but it's no surprise that I now think that to be a bit much. Not by a whole lot, mind you, but it is true that I was overly taken by the album at the time. Since I can't help but analyse such things, I must say that it's actually something I still possess, this desire to find a great album and to wrap myself around it, proclaiming to all the world what a marvellous find I've unearthed. Time was when the best thing about finding a great album was putting it on my list of "Greatest albums", but things are a little different now (thankfully!).

* Incidentally, I'm probably done writing reviews here, at least for the forseeable future. I think my pithy RateYourMusic musings are far more trenchant.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Mm, it's true what they say - theoretical CS isn't all that bad, but you wouldn't choose it over thinking about John Cale's solo-work. That is merely my elliptic way of saying that this Welsh gentleman's work has captured my interest ever since a chance encounter on a charming televison program, Songwriters' Circle. It featured none other than (my hero*) Nick Cave, and Chrissie Hynde, and the three of them played songs in succession, Cale and Hynde offering some background on the pieces, while Cave came across as shy and reserved - which I wouldn't have expected.

I think it's fair to say that many people who have heard any of the VU's first couple of albums would assume that John Cale's solo-work would be this barrage of dissonant noise and drones. The third VU album is a lot softer and is pretty close to being normal, so I figured that it was Cale who was behind "White Light/White Heat" and (shudder) "Sister Ray"**. So that was the frame of mind I was in when I saw him on TV, and I was ready to run scared if he were to unleash another "European Son"., "Ship Of Fools"? That almost sounds like a song...hey, it is just a song! This happened four times in a row, and by the end of it I realized that while Cale may indeed have had an interest in the avant-garde movement, there was surely a fair bit of his work that was somewhere between classical ("Dying On The Vine", which made me really sit up and take attention, and his reading of "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night", which is mesmerising) and the casually accepted definiton of rock (the aforementioned "Ship Of Fools"). There was certainly nothing to suggest that this man was from the VU***! Well, maybe the weird ending to "Fear Is A Man's Best Friend" - from whatever I can remember of the song, it played mostly normal (although I wasn't paying attention to the lyrics - don't know what was going on in that department), until the very end where he starts screaming seemingly out of the blue. Ah, that Cale.

Incidentally, Cale went to New York in the early '60s to seek out La-Monte Young and work under him. Gosh darn it, I almost feel like doing the same - let my lack of musical talent be no barrier!

* Few can spot such references, but those who can are worthy of some accolade. Let me hint by saying that it very much from a John Cale work.

** Apologies if you like these songs - I don't hate them or anything. I think they're probably very much works of art, and I appreciate their importance - but I can't bring myself to sit down to them!

*** Much like you wouldn't believe Lou Reed wrote "Candy Says" two-or-so years after "I'm Waiting For My Man" - everytime the thought strikes me, the more I realize how I've under-appreciated Lou as a songwriter.