One Of The Banned

Whenever I see something that I think will interest Jim these days I can’t think of any other way to try to get it to him than to just….post it here. As if he would visit here! But…how else am I meant to do it? There’s no point posting anything via SM social media – he’s never there. Those days are gone.

For fear of sounding like the continual scratched record – I miss being able to easily get to share these things with him. Just to highlight something that I’d think would intrigue him and it might have invoked a ‘conversation’ (commas needed, as it would be a written thing rather than an oral dialogue).

Anyway, I digress.

This is from Reason magazine. I was only looking through it for the first time ever today and their main feature in the magazine was looking at books that had been banned. The Master and Margarita was one of the books they covered. I thought the piece might be of interest to Jim, and/or Charlie. It made me wonder whether Charlie ever got my version of Behemoth that I painted for him – and whether he actually kept it if he did?

I may actually have to revisit the book, seeing how much I have been enjoying the religious studies element of my study so far.

A Thriller At The Cinema

I went to see Last Night In Soho yesterday – the latest feature film by Edgar Wright, the man behind The Sparks Brothers. 

I had no intention of really reviewing this film. Film reviews here I want to keep to music documentaries. And it won’t be a big review by any means, but I enjoyed this film so much, I had to talk about it.

I don’t usually do gore and violence very often and although not really touted as a horror film, I could see from the trailer shown at the cinema a few weeks back that it was potentially going to be a bit bloody. 

I bought my ticket about a week ago after having seen The French Despatch. I didn’t even take in at the time that the ticket showed Last Night In Soho having an 18 certificate. Holy heck!

From seeing the trailer I saw that Terence Stamp was in it but I was surprised to see other stellar actors like Rita Tushingham and the wonderful (and sadly departed) Dame Diana Rigg also appear. In fact, it wasn’t until Dame Diana appeared on the screen did the dedication of “for Diana” at the start of the film make sense.

A review without spoilers is going to be fun but I will try my best. All the actors were brilliant. The young cast members were great, esp. the leading roles of Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy (of Queen’s Gambit fame). 

The music was great, the plot, I thought, was great. A fabulous twist that I didn’t see coming at all. And as I say, fabulous performances from Terence Stamp, Rita Tushingham and Diana Rigg. Her last film performance as far as I am aware, and what a performance to end a wonderful career on.

I didn’t think anything was too languid, or too slow paced, or I didn’t feel there were any holes in the plot. I wasn’t watching my watch wondering when it was going to end. I feel I’ve seen things with as much gore that have had a 15 certificate. I didn’t think it was overly graphic, but there are good scares to be had in there!

I’d recommend it. If you want to hear some great music on a film soundtrack, see some fabulous acting and have a bit of a spook and a bit of a scream, go see Last Night In Soho.

Review – The Velvet Underground (Documentary by Todd Haynes)

I think this documentary ended up posing more questions than it answered. 

Firstly, it doesn’t sugarcoat the notion of Lou Reed being….well…actually perhaps they DO sugarcoat it. Because what became obvious was that to label Reed “troubled” is somewhat of an understatement. I actually started to wonder how anyone managed to work with him. Certainly John Cale was finding it difficult towards the end of his part in the Velvet Underground story “if you were nice to him, he only treated you worse”.

The one thing I’d say to Jim after seeing this film is when you say you’re not worthy of tying Lou Reed’s bootlaces – you do yourself a MASSIVE disservice, Jim Kerr. You really do! 

The film starts with a quote from Baudelaire – “Music fathoms the sky.” That immediately had me thinking of Jim for in the New Gold Dream tour program, he’s given the name “Kid Baudelaire” in brackets. Attributed from Adam Sweeting? A nickname the rest of the guys give him? Who knows?

A Warhol film image of Lou Reed appears fairly early on. Just that straight-at-the-lens, nowhere-to-hide portrait shot, the camera rolling for several minutes. A childhood that didn’t sound overly loving, but they talk to his sister Merrill and she makes the counter argument of it being easy to pin all of Lou’s troubles on his childhood and upbringing. 

Several minutes later we move on to a similar half of the screen moving image portrait of John Cale. This is how little I admit to knowing about The Velvet Underground and its individual members – I hear John Cale speak and….he sounds like he usually sounds….with a New York twang. And then, he speaks again and sounds WELSH! Like, a proper Valley boy-o! 

I know! I should know better than this. I should be more knowledgeable. A lot of the time I do feel incredibly ignorant about a lot of things. 

A lot of the film centred towards PRE-VU. Lou and John and how they got into music the way they did, their influences, and how they met and formed The Primitives. 

All of that I found good. Sterling Morrison remains a mystery. Moe Tucker seems a very lovely woman. Doug Yule seemed a very fitting replacement for John Cale. 

It flowed well up to the point we got to when Warhol became involved and Nico joined the group. Then, for me, the documentary became a bit…rushed. It spent a lot of time on the preamble but then not much time on the Velvet Underground itself, once a modicum of success came.

Also, whenever they played Venus In Furs, it was DEAFENING! Venus In Furs was ssooo much louder than anything else within the audio, other Velvet songs, people speaking, etc, etc. It was a real wallop to the ears.

I kind of came away a bit…unfulfilled by the experience. I wanted more and something different. I probably wanted to learn more about Lou Reed than I did. I certainly wanted to learn more about the band than I felt I did. 

What I did learn though (or had confirmed to me) is:

  • The Velvet Underground are definitely punk. They are the TRUE pioneers of punk. Forget the “avant garde” schtick, although that does apply too. They’re punk.
  • John Cale is Welsh (I know! Lol).
  • Lou Reed was a douche canoe (at least at that time) and I honestly don’t know how anyone worked with him.
  • Delmore Schwartz was a massive influence on Reed.
  • Jonathan Richman is a sweetheart, and just about the only person to say something nice about Lou. And it explained why The Modern Lovers’ Roadrunner is ssooo much like Rock ‘n’ Roll to me. (Though it is meant to be a homage to Sister Ray – shows you how familiar I am with Sister Ray!)
  • Nico was a drifter. Lost, trying to find purpose in her life.
  • Warhol gave us “celebrity” and fame for fame’s sake. He’d love Love Island and Big Brother, and probably Gogglebox too.
  • Without Warhol no one outside of NYC would have heard of VU.

So, last night, in bed. Wanting to listen to some music to help me drift off to sleep, did I choose the “Banana Album”? Or White Light/White Heat? Or The Velvet Underground (aka album three)? Or Loaded? 

Nope!

I chose to listen to The Modern Lovers – the original set of recordings from 1972 that were finally released in 1976. 

And to paraphrase words from Roadrunner “I’m in love with Jonathan Richman”. We could all do with keeping that childlike wonder. Oh, man. Even in the documentary – you just want to reach in through the screen and hug him!

In summary of the Velvet Underground documentary. Did I enjoy it? To a degree. Did I find it insightful? Again, to a degree. Did I enjoy it as much as the previous music documentary I saw (The Sparks Brothers)? Naw.

If I was to give it a mark out of 10 – where the Sparks Brothers doc gets a firm 10/10. The Velvet Underground documentary gets a 7/10. The best bits were the interviews with John Cale, Moe Tucker, Jonathan Richman and Mary Woronov. 

It wasn’t quite what I had hoped for or anticipated. For one I didn’t expect to come out of a Velvet Underground documentary thinking “Aawww, Jonathan Richman – he’s sssooo sweet!” Lol

Can I recommend it? I guess. If you’re a REAL diehard Velvets fan, it probably isn’t going to give you much more of an insight in all honesty. Novices interested in the band and the period and wanting to know more…you might learn some stuff, but for me personally, it didn’t completely fill the remit.

And so, I shall leave you with this, influence of an influence that leads to an influence. And I love a fade-in!

Bowie’s Friend Who’s A Girl

A short piece in the latest edition of Uncut Magazine about Dana Gillespie and her new book.

They spoke to her early on in the MainMan podcast series, in which she pretty much described herself as David Bowie’s f*** buddy – well, I guess a bit more than that – but she was emphatic that she was NOT his “girlfriend”. Merely more a friend who just happened to be a girl. “And, sometimes we got a bit…horizontal.” Needs must. Lol

It actually sounded like from her telling of it, that they felt quite kindred and enjoyed a very artistic tete-a-tete. Her relationship with him was certainly vastly different to that of Hermione Farthingale. And it endured for far longer. They remained life-long friends.

Lucky Dana.

The Ties That Bind…

I love learning new things, making new discoveries, esp. when they happen serendipitously.

The radio was on in the background. Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream) was playing. I love Roy Orbison and so I was suddenly intrigued by the history of the song. Had he written it? No. A lady named Cindy Walker had. Curious wording for a female songwriter as usually men would write about “babies” in that regard. Usually a female songwriter would be talking about boys or men. “Dream Boy” would be perhaps what I’d have expected from a female songwriter.

Reading up about her on her Wikipedia entry, I saw that a previous song she’d written was performed and released by a performer called Eddy Arnold. The title of it – “Jim, I Wore A Tie Today”.

I am always flummoxed by stuff like that. Those kind of curious coincidences that result from such sudden curiosities.

She had started her songwriting career by having a song she’d penned for Bing Crosby sung by him called Lone Star Trail.

I’ll put the link to her Wikipedia entry HERE so you can read about her. It’s a fascinating story.

I think I may just take a listen to Willie Nelson’s album from 2006 called “You Don’t Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker”.

In the meantime…

UPDATE: Going back over things, I just noticed – tomorrow is her birthday. If alive still she’d be turning 102. Even more crazy serendipity.

I Wish You Were Here

Is *not* a thing I imagine Jim is thinking right now of me. Lol. He’s probably relishing being 12,000 miles away! If there is even a thought about it at all.

In the story of the Kerr family’s ALMOST emmigration to Australia, I am also glad his mum had a change of heart, because there very well may have been no Simple Minds had the move Down Under taken place.

And I can well understand his mum’s change of heart. It’s no easy thing to do! It’s a life-changing and life-long commitment to up sticks and move half-way round the world. Esp. back in the 1960’s. Little chance of you ever flying back home to visit family for a couple of weeks a year, or every couple of years back then. One, plane travel would have been damn expensive and, even then, it would have taken at least double the amount of time it takes to fly to and fro now. It still isn’t THAT cheap, but it is far more affordable if you have a place to stay once there. These days it’s the accommodation rather than the price of the flight that is the biggest expense.

My own story of emmigration to the UK was not an easy one. When I got with my partner, the plan was for us to stay in Australia. But…for several reasons, it became apparant that was not going to work. What’s a person to do? I found the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with…so as much as it pained me to leave my family, I took the move. They were the options – end it wth the love of my life and stay with my family, or leave my family to be with the one I love. Being an Anglophile helped that decision immeasurably.

So, here I am, some 20 years down the line. Did I ever regret that decision? In recent times? Perhaps maybe a little. But…only a little. For the distance it takes to travel. For the past 10 years only having had one opportunity to return home, instead of the serveral times I travelled back during my first 10 years in Blighty. I could continue with the personal aspect of this, but pefer not to. All I will say is…on the whole…no regrets. The past 10 years have been much harder than the first. And…I missed David. My brother, David…lost to liver cancer in 2014. Mum is aging, getting more and more decrepit. Those aspects about being so distant by geography are hard on the old emotions. Anyway…enough of the maudlin personal stuff. There’s wonderful stuff happening down there. Simple Minds have arrived! Well, Jim has at least…seemingly. I get the impression he’s been there a number of days already…possibly swinging down via Bali (as he was pondering to do half-way through the SM North American tour).

Let the Oz fans rejoice! How I wish that Gillian could have returned the favour and put me up at her place for a week. She was more than willing to do so! To be reunited with her and Nicola would have been grand. Have Ally join us on the day. Perhaps have met a few more of the Oz SM fans I’ve yet to meet. Had I not met Gwenda at the gig, we’d have had the chance to have met at some point, as she doesn’t live far from my sister. In a stupid small world, it was Simple Minds that got us knowing each other. We grew up living only one mile apart, but had never met!

Then there is the chance of seeing my best mate, Steven. Well, if I am out there next year, and I am sure that is on the cards, no matter what…we can celebrate 30 years of friendship! The life I’ve had…I never expected I would ever have a friend for 30 years. Lasting friendships were hard to come by for me. And, well, Steven and I have had our ups and downs too, but there is an amazing bond there and I absolutely love him with all my heart. That person you can be fully, totally, wholly yourself with. That “no filter” friend. Worts and all. Thick and thin. He’s it.

And, this time had I made it out, I couldn’t have gone to Adelaide and Janis. But now when I *do* go…the Hills will be alive with th sound of us chomping on the best food in the world! And if I am there to see Simple Minds, then GODDAMN, Janis is coming too! I doubt they’d do her favourite (Somebody Up There Likes You), but they SHOULD (hopefully, fingers crossed…Jim, if you’re reading this – Lol – as if – I am putting this request in early – next gig in Adelaide, PLEASE do Let There Be Love) do her second favourite song.

Anyway! Enjoy your fleeting visit to Oz, SM. At least PRETEND to be a bit gutted that I didn’t make it out there to see you, Sir. Lol. Yeah, I know…you were secretly thanking the almighty (Buddha) that I didn’t make it. I’ll delude myself anyway.

7587DB08-042A-47C4-87FD-03D465EB18A3DFE940BF-D557-4676-810D-16630A9A9DC5

The link in the post is this one – and a memory for me of every journey I took into the city on the train from mum’s. Sons And Fascination on the way in, Sister Feelings Call on the way back. Images of train tracks and the landscape of the inner city suburbs of Sydney now synonymous with the title track.And artwork I do for it that contains a skewed view I took from mum’s kitchen window in it.

FDA3A708-1AB6-4784-A4D7-AF073E598D96