A Pax Musica Brittania?

1 05 2012

Pull out of all the metaphors and cliches for this one.  What may have been the greatest ( in terms of vitriol and public attention) rivalry in the history of pop music, Blur vs Oasis, the Gallagher brothers vs Albarn, may have come to end.  OK, it’s not even been an issue for years, but the “end” of which I speak may be, in fact, a new beginning of… wait for it… collaboration.   Yes, you read that right: collaboration.

Noel Gallagher has said he would, hypothetically, collaborate with Damon Albarn.  Mind you, he picked Albarn over Thom Yorke (about whose singing and Radiohead’s music Noel once said, “I’m having it until the little fella starts singing.”)  Noel rightly recognizes that he could make cooler, more upbeat music with Albarn than the guy who Liam Gallagher once called a “miserable ginger dwarf.”

As for Albarn, he’s all but invited Noel on tour in Africa and suggested a collaboration.

http://www.nme.com/news/blur–2/63549

Blur and Gorillaz mainman Damon Albarn has invited Noel Gallagher to collaborate with him later this year.

Asked if he’d like to collaborate with Gallagher, Albarn said: “Well, why not? He should come on the Africa Express train in September. That’d be a nice chance to collaborate.”

Albarn also admitted that Gallagher and his bandmates handled the fame they experienced at the height of Britpop “a lot better” than he and his colleagues in Blur did.

He said of this: “I never held anything against him, even right in the middle of it. I just kind of admired them in a way; that they were better at handling it all than me. They didn’t seem to get too affected by the bullshit.”

Earlier this year, Gallagher was quoted as saying he’d rather work on new material with Damon Albarn than Radiohead – but also described the Blur man as being “as mad as a box of frogs”.

Speaking to NME, Gallagher said: “If I was gonna make a record, it’d be Damon. For a start, he’s as mad as a box of frogs. Number two, he’d get loads of hip-hop dudes working on it, which itself would be fucking mental. And number three? It would be a better record.”

I like Damon’s music and I love Noel’s.  This would be a fine collaboration, if you ask me.  I think Noel’s right that it would be “mental.”

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My year in music

31 12 2009

The year started out with a bang.  I had just seen Oasis in mid December and was quite interested in the current British music scene.  Before January was up, I got my hands on both Fratellis’ albums, two from the Kooks and Arctic Monkeys’ Favourite Worst Nightmare.  Credit for these finds goes to magazines like Mojo and Q, which I was reading heavily at the time.  I did my level best to get my hands on Fleet Foxes’ self-titled album from the local library, but that took until Spring.

Luckily, Dennis Wilson’s revived classic Pacific Ocean Blue got a lot of love late 2008, early 2009, particularly from the Brit mags.  That has been one of the best albums I’ve bought in years.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.

February was also quite interesting because the Beatles’ Take 20 of “Revolution” surfaced, and exploded across the ‘net.  EMI and/or Apple Corps made sure, within a day or so, that it vanished from some of the more notorious sites like youtube.  I wasn’t immediately convinced it was an authentic Beatles track – seemed possibly to be a mash-up of some kind – but “Beatles historians” roundly came out with opinions that it was the real deal.  That it was squashed within 48 hours of hitting the world wide web seemed to be good evidence that it was the real thing.  It’s a very cool track.  It’s basically “Revolution No. 1″ from the White Album, with loops and audio bits that ended up on “Revolution No. 9.”  As a big Beatles fan, I’m not one for second guessing them, but I think, in retrospect, “Revolution Take 20″ (let’s just call it that) would have fit better on the album than having two separate Revolutions.  No. 9 is just too long and goes nowhere.

The Beach Boys are frequently in my playing rotation (though not at the moment.)  Last Spring, I really wanted to go back and full up my collection from their post-Smile late 60’s, early 70’s catalog, but never quite got around to it.  I did dig out my copy of Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of the Beach Boys, and played discs 2 and 3 quite a bit for a few weeks.  I came to love Dennis Wilson’s “Little Bird” from the album Friends.

Speaking of Beach Boys and Wilson brothers, Brian Wilson’s performance of Smile from a few years was an amazing surprise.  I’ve had the bootleg tracks (and songs from the box set) for years, but his performance of the aborted album from start to finish is something special.

Virtually out of nowhere, I felt this draw toward bass guitar.  My six string had been in the case for years; I played it a bit and decided I wanted to be a bassist.  In March I picked up my Dean EABG and jumped right into it.  I got Bass Guitar for Dummies and started playing (or learning) quite diligently.  In April I bought a 1997 Epiphone Accu-Bass and a Kustom 80 watt bass amp from a pawn shop in Detroit.  I have not played the electric much, but it’s there if I need it.

Late spring and early summer came.  I still played quite a bit of bass, taking my acoustic with me on family trips and weekends out of town.  I didn’t quite finish Bass Guitar for Dummies, but I’m planning a return to the book.  Because of my love for bass, anything with excellent bass found its way into my rotation.  I picked up What It Is! Funky Soul And Rare Grooves (1967-1977), an absolutely fantastic 4 disc set put out by Rhino.

Midsummer my MP3 player completely crapped out.  I couldn’t replace the battery for it, either.  We traveled a lot on weekends so my daughter had frequent requests for the Beatles or the Beach Boys, so that’s most of what I heard.

Christmas came early, on 09/09/09 in fact.  Apple Corps released the Beatles’ entire catalog, remastered, in stereo and mono (at least up through 1968.)  I got the Beatles in Mono box set before the stereo set.  I burned the CDs and put ‘em back in the packaging immediately.  I never even looked at the booklets, liner notes etc.  I got the stereo set a few days later, but still have not opened it.  September and October were Beatles-filled months.  Even now, at year’s end, I’m listening to bits of Abbey Road quite a bit, mostly because I’ve picked up the bass again and am trying to learn some of the licks.

Noel Gallagher “quit” Oasis but, surprisingly, this didn’t bother me a bit.  I’d love to see them make music forever; but if it ends it ends.  Noel’s the heart and soul of the band and he could go on making great music without his pesky little brother.  Here’s to a solo career that he will hopefully launch…and soon.

They never made sense to me in 38 years on this planet, but I finally gave in and got a few Pink Floyd albums, The Wall and The Dark Side of the Moon.  I would never have bought them at the store, but they’re at our public library, so I’ve given them a whirl.  I have to admit that I quite like both of those albums.  I’m not quite convinced that I like PF enough to start buying up their other albums, but I certainly am at least open to considering a bit more exploring.

The burden of sick loved ones and the “death” that comes in late Autumn probably put me in something of a slight funk.  I found solace in U2’s song “40.”  I think God wanted me to hear that when I did.

I’ve kind of fallen in love with music again in the last week or so.  I recently replaced my MP3 player and loaded it with really great stuff.  Of course it’s got all the Beatles stuff.  But I really love that I’ve got a few Miles Davis albums, Elvis in Memphis, a great two-disc set from his 1969 work, Little Richard and Ray Charles compilations/anthologies, Johnny Cash’s Personal File and a bunch of his compilation discs, and the new Black Crowes double album, Before the Frost…Until the Freeze.  I almost can’t take my headphones off these days.  I’ve already used up all 8 gig on this player and I like everything on it.

It’s hard to say what next year will bring.  If I’m going to resolve to do anything, one of those things will be to play more bass.  Perhaps instead of listening to and writing about other people’s music, I’ll make more of my own in 2010.





Brit music rags are the best

13 01 2009

I remember when Rolling Stone magazine was the source for music and entertainment news. It used to be the magazine with the best interviews with the biggest stars. I’m not going to put out a laundry list of gripes about it, but simply stated, Rolling Stone magazine sucks. It’s a biased political piece of pulp that covers the least interesting (but biggest selling) artists of the day. It’s People magazine for music and movie fans. I can’t think of any American mags that are much better. Entertainment is good for movies, but it’s a lousy music mag.

If you want the best cover-to-cover coverage of today’s cutting edge (largely British) artists, as well as detailed looks-back at the best music of the past, you need to get subscriptions to Mojo and Q. There simply aren’t magazines that do what they do.

I wouldn’t have a clue about any of the bands that have come out the last 3 or 4 years if I didn’t get those magazines. I love them particularly because they frequently cover Oasis. Their interviews of the Gallagher brothers are fantastic. Oasis has drawn me in, but reviews of releases, new and old, have vastly expanded my musical knowledge and tastes.

One of annoying traits common to American mags is the continuous stream of ads. Most magazines here, including Rolling Stone, are 65% ads, 35% content (my rough estimate.) Q and Mojo have plenty ads, but they are largely for shows or new releases. You’ll not see ads for tampons or zit cream in those magazines. But if you live in Britain, you’ll know where to find the Fratellis playing on their current tour.

I’ve linked Mojo’s and Q’s websites to my blogroll. Their online content is wonderful and mostly free (at least everything I’ve looked at is free.)

If you love music, check out Q and Mojo. They are sold at Barnes and Noble and Borders and similar book stores. They are a bit pricey but you can probably save a few bucks an issue with a subscription.