Archive for May, 2009

May 30, 2009

Money out of Stone (Roses)

It was twenty years ago this May that The Stone Roses seminal, debut classic was released.  Twenty years later – 14 years after the band have split, yet another re-release/compilation of the album has been released onto an already over familiar market.  This is the fourthtime the album has been re-released now, with the 20th anniversary album offering very little that know-one has heard before – only one song in fact – Pearl Bastard!   What more could  possibly be squeezed out of the Roses legacy – what will they do for the 25th anniversary – include song lyrics of Brown from when he was a toddler, add a demo of squire auditioning for the cub scouts! – how far can they milk this thing!!!

Of course its all in the hands of Sony BMG – although they’re  just one in a-long line of record companies to suck the life out of the small but influential back catalogue of the Roses.  In addition to the four releases of the first album and the Second Coming we’ve had; Turns into Stone, The Complete Stone Roses, The Remixes, The Very best of The Stone Roses and
Discover The Stone Roses.  All of them feature pretty much the same content, although we still haven’t had the Essential Stone Roses or The Greatest Hits.

Maybe the record companies feel it is their commercial justification due to the album not performing brilliantly when it was first released – it only reached 19!  In fact the chart positioning of many of the Roses singles didn’t fare as well as one might think – One Love was the highest, which placed at number 4!  It might suggest that the Roses were ahead of their time or that they were never really a mainstream commercial product, either way their legacy has by far transcended their commercial impact, even though it’s proved that you can get blood out of stone.

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May 15, 2009

Canadian band The Acorn headline first London show

Ever since Arcade Fire burst onto the scene five years ago, Canadian bands have been leading the vanguard of musical trends. Led by the revitalised and ever popular Neil Young it seems Canada is furrowing its own path with everyone else eager to follow closely behind.

The Acorn hail from Ottawa and have been part of the burgeoning Canadian indie-folk-baroque scene for several years, along with The Dears, Feist and The Broken Social Scene, to name but a few.  Unlike the other bands though The Acorn have only recently released their first album – Glory Hope Mountain – released last year in the UK.   It is an album that perfectly weaves tribal percussion with Honduran folk and acoustic laments with African stylistics.  The album is crafted with a natural grace and feels wholly organic compared to the contrived nuisances of other indie bands hijacking the sound of Africa. 

After seeing the band play at the Scala, London, on Tuesday night (12 May) it is quite clear that they are more than just studio boffins.  Displaying a warm,  textual sound the band showcased virtually their entire back catalogue (only one album and several EPs) while emanating a comical, yet focused personality.  Rolf Klausener – lead singer – was particularly self deprecating of rock’s more cliched moments and at times resembled a bearded Ben Stiller.  As in all their best songs, the last of the set – Flood– perfectly encapsulated the natural and mellifluous rhythm of their tribal beats with the majesty and anguish of their vocals.                                               

The Acorn are all natural heart and like their fellow countrymen could grow into something quite splendid.

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May 9, 2009

Later with Jools enters the dull zone

Jools Holland’s weekly shin dig has been on air for nearly 20 years.  Covering the full repertoire of musical genres and featuring just about every artist known to man the show has become a BBC tradition – a constant reminder of quality among all the garbage.  Though after watching this weeks Live Later on  Tuesday  it is evident that the new format of featuring proper live performances (not recorded on the Tuesday before the show) has failed to galvanise and invorgorate the show. 

On the programme there was a distinct lack of excitement – lots of decent musicians but many would be placed under MOR and easy listening.  Of course Later has always tried to appeal to a wide range of music fans and has always featured its fair share of banal pop artists, although where as previously there was always one or two bands that would cause a stir…

now there seems to be a constant stream of acts that offer safe, family entertainment – the only slightly risque band on there were the Manic Street Preachers – who lets face it finished causing a stir with their punk manifesto around 15 years ago – although at least they tried to look the part – in a middle-aged – over-weight kind of way.

This is partly due to the new format of LIVE performance and the BBC not willing to take too many chances – heaven forbid they wouldn’t want an incident such as Iggy Pop getting his cock out!  Or Kirt Cobain bragging about his sexual conquests…..With the BBC under increased scrutiny more than ever they are desperate to play it safe.  Jools Holland himself has also become dull and less competent  since the new format – unable to think of anything remotely interesting to say when interviewing guests – his questions get a radical overhaul for the Friday show – he quite clearly struggles with the live format and often stumbles his way through, only to be offered a reprieve after the Friday make-over. 

Maybe there aren’t many musicians out there any more that are driven by their desire  to express themselves in any manner for the art of entertainment.  Of course with the internet and the huge coverage of live gigs the artist can now express themselves in their own surroundings without having to appear on a mainstream TV show –  also TV music shows are a dying breed with the format replaced by live concerts and festivals.  The sheer diversity of music through the multimedia platform has replaced the traditional studio show – although none has the influence and brazen publicity of liberal expression than the traditional format.   People expect weird and wonderful behaviour watching live concerts, but when surrounded by a group of reserved musicians and an unsuspecting TV public the sheer audacity of a liberated experience can still make great TV and not-too mention publicity.