Tender: Albarn, Gallagher, Coxon & Weller

24 03 2013




Britpop’s Hatfields n’ McCoys share the stage…for a good cause

23 03 2013

Noel Gallagher, Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon and Paul Weller took the stage in London for the Teenager Cancer Trust give to play Blur’s “Tender.” I wish I had seen it and hope to hear a good quality copy of the performance. Pretty cool.

Noel and Damon make Britpop history

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.


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.”

Good news (?) outta 5150

5 07 2011

Van Halen fans, “Get ready” says David Lee Roth.  Diamond Dave apparently tweeted those two words recently, leaving everyone to assume that Van Halen’s first album in 13 years, and the first recorded with Dave in 28 years, is soon to be released.

Mark Tremonti from Creed was recently invited to 5150 studio by Wolfgang Van Halen and this is what he had to say:

Describing more about the experience, Mark says, ‘Wolfie asked if me and my buddy Eric wanted to go checkout rehearsals the next day over at his dad’s house. And I said (laughs) “Of course!” (laughs) So he picked me up the next day and we drove to this big, gated home and we get to 5150 studios. It was just me, my buddy Eric, Wolfie and Eddie in one room, and then Alex was in the other room behind some plexiglass, and then they played down the entire new album. What makes it so great is that they took what they could from all their old demos back in the ’80’s and pretty much did what they could to create songs out of old ideas, so it sounds like vintage Van Halen. Musically it sounds in the [early ’80’s] era. I didn’t hear any vocals — David was not there. It was just the three of them and the music sounded like very authentic, old school Van Halen. It was a just a crazy experience to sit there and watch. Eddie was four feet from me, and Wolfie was on the other side. The guys were very excited to be doing what they’re doing.


Rumors abound that the album is slated for release in the next couple of months — I’ve heard early fall — and it was mentioned on WRIF (101.1 FM, Detroit) today that the Van Halen release may coincide with the release of the next Chickenfoot single.  [What is a “single” in these days of internet downloading?] That reminds me of the old Oasis/Blur bit of going head-to-head with singles releases.

Hopefully this happens sooner rather than later.  I avoided seeing Van Halen on the last tour because I didn’t much feel like watching some nostalgia show.  I didn’t want to see Van Halen become what the Beach Boys have been for 30-some years; a band that tours on the strength of songs that were hits before a lot you young’ins were even born.  If they have fresh material and it’s good, then let’s talk tour!

The rebirth of rock opera

21 02 2009

You thought rock opera died with Quadrophenia or, perhaps, Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime.  You were wrong…partially at least.

For the last few months I’ve pretty much ignored the big ad on the back of my Mojo magazines for Monkey Journey to the West, the most recent multi-media project from Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewett, collaboratively known for their Gorillaz projects.

The wiki entry for the project reads (in part)

Monkey: Journey to the West is a stage adaptation of the 16th Century Chinese novel Journey to the West, by Wu Cheng’en. It was conceived and created by the Chinese actor and director Chen Shi-zheng, together with the British musician Damon Albarn and British artist Jamie Hewlett. However, the original idea came from Jean-Luc Choplin, head of the Chatelet Theatre in Paris

*     *     *

Billed as a “circus opera“, the show is Hewlett and Albarn’s first major collaboration since Gorillaz. Albarn composed the musical score while Hewlett designed the visual concept, set and costumes. The adaptation for stage has been written by Shi-zheng, who also directs the production. Dramaturgy is by David Greenspan. The show features Chinese singers and 70 Chinese acrobats and martial artists. The orchestra put together for the production includes members of the UK Chinese Music Ensemble (led by Cheng Yu), Demon Strings and Sense of Sound.

In addition to the production, the Manchester International Festival also ran a programme of educational workshops in local schools, in partnership with the Chinese Arts Centre. In the programme, local children were introduced to the tale of Journey to the West, and learnt about various aspects of Chinese culture, music and dance, including mask-making, puppet-making, Tai Chi and Kung Fu.

Hewlett and Albarn included characters from Monkey: Journey to the West in an animation sequence titled “Journey to the East.” The BBC used the sequence to introduce coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics, held in Beijing

Here’s the feature one trailer

I was really surprised to find this project was that ambitious, that expansive.  In the strictest sense, it’s not a rock and roll opera.  In fact, it’s more truly a multi-media version of traditional Chinese opera.  With Albarn involved, there are definitely rock elements.  Regardless of how one might label it, the project, to me, is stunning in its daringness.  It’s outside the box (to borrow the overused corporate cliche.)  To me, that makes it worth a look or listen.