iJAMMING! is a music and lifestyle web site hosted by
author, journalist and dee jay Tony Fletcher.
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You are in the right place for Tony's daily musings.
Wednesday April 9th: Death Disco, the Notting Hill Arts Club, 21 Notting Hill Gate, London, from 9pm to 1am. Admission £5.
Sunday April 27th: Shout!, Bar 13, University Place and 13th Street, Manhattan, New York City. Launch party for the Shout! compilation album, The Revolution Rave-Up Alive 1997-2003. 10pm-4am. Admission free. (Over 21.)
1) LONDON TRAFFIC
NOT BLOCKING THE STREETS
The effects of Mayor Ken Livingston's 'Congestion Charge' a fee for drivers to enter Central London has been as immediate as it is apparent. Central London is no longer in permanent 'gridlock', Soho is almost devoid of cars entirely and you can jump on a bus at six in the evening knowing it will actually take you somewhere in a reasonable amount of time. As long as money continues to be pumped into the public transport system like the impressively futuristic Jubilee Extension (Waterloo station shown here) - this is a win-win situation. (Bonus points for spotting the lyrical reference in the header.)
Yes, the TV coverage is every bit as violent and incessant in the UK as it is in the USA. But the famously competitive British newspapers provide welcome relief from the stream of moving images (which I'm too busy to follow on the telly anyway). Since the war started, most of the nation's papers, like the population at large, have gotten behind "our boys" with the hope that they come home safe. Only a few far leftist MPs and the surprisingly obstroperous Daily Mirror have remained so opposed to the war as to suggest that they hope the British and Americans fail in their attempt to rid Iraq of Saddam. The Mirror, in particular, has banked its reputation on its unapologetic and inflexible anti-war stance, with the unintended result that its mainly working class readership is abandoning it in droves now that the mostly working class British army is fighting for its lives.
3) ANTI-U.S.? WHAT, US?
There's less of the usual overt anti-Americanism in the news sections of the daily papers, if only because British and American soldiers are fighting - literally - on the same side. But the prejudice is still barely disguised in most aspects of the media that isn't datelined from the battlefield. If I reprinted every inane, ill-informed celebrity quote or venomous opinion piece I've read in the last few days I'd take up the next month's worth of musings. (But I will say that after 18 months of it, I think Time Out should take a moratorium on asking every interviewee their opinions on Bush and Americans: ask them something original for which they'll actually be forced to use their brains.) There is one area however in which the British love the Americans unreservedly. . .
4) THE U.S. ROCKS
The NME has Interpol on the cover one week, White Stripes the next. The White Stripes' Elephant appears to be first contender for the Brit press' Album of the Year though the unreleased Yeah Yeah Yeahs debut is getting similar advance acclaim. A new magazine, Bang, has launched with Flaming Lips on its front. And the gig guide looks like New York on a particularly good week: The Rapture, Brendan Benson, The Warlocks, The Faint, The Go, Hot Hot Heat, Burning Brides, Nada Surf
It's reassuring to know those Yanks are good for some thing.
5) THE ENGLISH NATIONAL TEAM REMAINS AS FRUSTRATING AS EVER
Yes, technically, England's 2-0 win Wednesday night over Turkey, the nation that finished third in last year's World Cup, was a convincing and important result. But the display hardly induced mass confidence in the national team's ability to worry anyone at next year's European Championship. For most of the match England struggled to put their passes together, their shots were woefully off target, and only a late scrappy rebound goal (which took so long to go in I was able to get it on camera) and an even later dubious penalty decision averted a potentially calamitous 0-0 draw. On the positive side, 17-year old Wayne Rooney looked like he could become another Paul Gascoigne: he's certainly got the heft. I watched the game in a Chelsea sports bar in which no one but no one wore national colors. How odd.
6) THE VIRGIN MEGASTORE CAFÉ
It seems to have been built at the expense of the formerly expansive book display, but to its credit, the Megastore has finally stuck a Costa Coffee store in the basement, surrounded it with armchairs and sofas, first generation video games and headphones on which to hear new albums. A great place for me to park my bum the other day and get on with some work for a few hours for the price of a peppermint tea.
7) SOHO SQUARE IN THE SUNSHINE REMAINS AS BEAUTIFUL AS EVER
It's an image that always evokes the arrival of spring: workers and tourists alike stripping off their coats and stretching out on the patch of grass that is Soho Square to get the most of the sunshine. It's an image I never tire of - especially on a pleasant April Friday.
8) DECENT WINE IN THE PUBS
Of course, not all pubs serve decent wine, and this is hardly a recent observation, but either way, I was well impressed with the selection on offer when joining a couple of good friends for a drink Thursday night at an All Bar One: at least a dozen of both whites and reds, available in two sizes of glasses. I followed up a typically zesty Pouilly Fume with a satisfactory Viognier Vins de Pays and then a disappointing Sangiovese. Still, two out of three ain't bad. Nor were the waitresses. Yes, table service is in full effect at All Bar One. It's not your father's pub, that's for sure....
9) PUB FOOD
And it's no longer just Ploughman's Lunch or a sausage sandwich at the new generation of pubs. No, the new standard is onion bhajis and potato wedges. Having had that same 'dinner' two nights out in a row (not to forget my all-Indian diet on Monday) I'm definitely ready for some new ingredients in the bar snack menu. However, there's always
10) LUNCH AT POLLO
Cheap and cheerful remains the operative term at the long-standing Italian café on Old Compton Street. The almost endless hand-written choice of pastas has now been typed up for easier interpretation, but otherwise the menu remains much the same as I remember it being 20 years back. The food is still hearty, the prices are laughable for central London, the coffee is rocket fuel - and the waitresses still insist on doubling you up in the booths with complete strangers. Plenty has changed in London. Fortunately, Pollo hasn't.
Being a vegetarian, I'm all too familiar with rubber airline food, so when I fly British Airways, I make the most of their multiculturalism and pre-order the Asian Vegetarian: it usually sets me up nicely for the many curries I'll have once I'm in England. (And is an equally pleasant farewell on the flight back.) But then usually I take the red-eye flight. Yesterday I flew day time for once, which meant lunch was served 9am New York time, a little earlier in the day than I'm used to having a full-on curry! Afternoon tea was bhajis! I'll have to remember this if I take the morning flight again....
Fortunately, one of the in-flight films was Anita and Me, which again exemplifies the superb Asian film industry that operates out of the UK. Set in 1972, it brought back the good and the bad: Paki-bashing for the latter, and glam rock for the former. The church choir singing Chicory Tip's 'Son Of My Father' was especially endearing. I'm not sure why every 'minority' movie has to have a wedding scene I'm thinking of that other brilliant recent British Asian film Bend It Like Beckham here, but also My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which I watched at the weekend and found thoroughly disappointing, though admittedly funny in places. Anyway, once I finally made it to my friend's house in South London at 11pm local time, she'd kindly got some dinner prepared for me: onion bhajis, somosas and curry. Safe to say I've had my fill for the next few days. . .
The sheer length of the travel day got the better of me and I jumped a black cab from Victoria Station to Norwood, which duly took me right down memory lane as it took me to my host's house - past my old school at Kennington Oval, the bus stop where so many post-school incidents took place, round the back of Brixton, past several pubs I used to hang out at, past the Café Provence in Herne Hill where I'm sure I could see my old mate Craig counting up the receipts at the register, and finally down to the south London neighborhood I thought I'd escaped for good this time last year! As if to reinforce my old view of London, the spring weather I'd heard was in full effect gave way this morning to a full-on winter storm
I bought last week's NME at Heathrow, and it was like taking the plane straight back to NYC. Interpol on the cover, Stellastarr* raved about on the inside (from their South by South West appearance), an interview with Calla, tours by Northern State, Public Enemy, The Rapture, Brendan Benson and The Warlocks, and plenty pictures of those New York stand-bys the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Strokes.
The reason for the latter two hipster New Yorkers' photos was a been-there done-that 'Look Like A Rock Star' spread - which suggests that the imagination level at the major British music weekly has sunk even further since its competition bit the dust. This predictable 8-page spread, worthy of Seventeen magazine perhaps but not the same inky that gave us some of the best music journalists in the world, was perhaps the reason that the ever meticulous Interpol were tagged on the front cover with the sub-header 'How To Survive The War In Style.' That the NME then filled its news and letter pages with anti-war sentiments seemed, somewhat, um
is vacuous the word I'm looking for?
I can't quite leave it there. The news pages had two consecutive reports that simply aren't backed by facts. The first, about Robbie Williams new b-side 'Happy Easter (War Is Coming)', has Robbie insisting the song is "in no way, shape or form my statement against the war in Iraq." The paper draws its own conclusion for the singer's non-committal position: "Williams is desperate to break the US. However, audiences there have become intolerant of anyone speaking out against the war." Intolerant? I don't know about that. Maybe they have, but not from where I've been standing.
The following story opens with the assertion that "US country superstars Dixie Chicks have seen their career dip disastrously in the United States after they voiced their opposition to George W Bush." It's true that the country music industry has reacted in a predictable reactionary manner to the female Texan trio's anti-Bush comments, but fact is, in the week after their relatively mild onstage London outburst, the Dixie Chicks' new album Home actually climbed two places in the Billboard Top 10 charts. It's since dropped back from number 4 to number 7, but with 6,000,000 sales already, it's hard to imagine just how much more impressively it should be shifting units. I wish my career could slip so disastrously.
The artist most likely to suffer from the war is Madonna, whose ongoing career habit of trying to ride the zeitgeist appears to have finally - and seriously - misfired with her latest video 'American Life', in which she and her dancing girls are shown pulling their moves in American military chic. When the real American military (and British of course) are out there giving their lives, then such fashion statements look, um
.is vacuous the word I'm looking for? Precisely. She's wisely pulled the video before suffering the disastrous career slip I wouldn't wish upon myself. I'm not sure it own't be too late.
Further updates on a couple of proper protest songs. Lenny Kravitz' 'We Want Peace' is not an MP3, as I wrote before, but I was able to download the full music file as an asf, that is, a Windows Media file. And Mick Jones and Tony James, two of the original punk rockers, have collaborated on a song entitled 'Why Do Men Fight?' which you can listen to as a Real Audio stream from Alan McGee's Poptones web site. It makes appropriate use of Slade's 'Mama Weer All Crazee Now' (trying to remember the mis-spelling from childhood! Did I get it right?) and may go some small way to easing Jones' conscience on the fact, as NME does rightly bring to our attention, that 'Rock The Casbah' is inappropriately popular with the troops as a battle song.
I was determined to get some of the long-promised features up on the site before heading to England for two weeks. And I've just about done it. The 2 Many DJs interview is spread over three pages, starting here. If you've been following my writings this last year, you'll know how highly I rate the Belgian duo's all-encompassing mixing madness. Our interview is mainly focused around their accidental by-passing of the music industry on their way to making one of the greatest mix albums of all time - but we took in all manner of other subjects along the way.
David and Stephen Dewaele, aka 2 Many DJs, aka Soulwax, at the Tribeca Grand, New York City, Halloween night 2002. Read the interview here.
Also posted is the Killing Joke interview from the Jamming! Magazine archives, conducted almost 22 years ago on the weekend of the first Brixton riots. Anthony Blampied, who worked on Jamming! back in those days and carried out the interview with me, had a riot of his own going back to the manuscript and filtering through Jaz and Youth's constant swearing and paranoia. By a pleasant coincidence, Anthony also lives in Belgium these days.
The Killing Joke pages, by the way, feature a new design, a digital impersonation of the cut and paste fanzine of yesteryear. Depending what people think of it, and how we can clear up the rest of the design to be more consistent to that look, we might spread this 'zine visual to other parts of the site. So let us know your thoughts on it over at the forum (you don't need to enter your address you'll only get spammed if you do).
Two out of three isn't bad, I suppose: the John Entwistle interview, archived from the Keith Moon book, will just have to wait till I get back. So probably, will the April Playlist even though it's already written up, I've completely run out of time. But I'm taking the laptop with me and will be posting daily musings from London, so please keep checking in. I've no doubt I'll find plenty to talk about...
MARCH 24-30: Six Foot Under, Peaches/Elefant live, MP Frees and Busted Boy Bands
MARCH 17-23: Röyksopp live, Transmission, Worn-Out War Talk
MARCH 10-16: Live reviews: Stratford 4, Flaming Sideburns, Joe Jackson Band, Linkin Park. Why I Oppose The War (For Now).
MARCH 3-9: The Pursuit of Happiness, Weekend Players, U.S. Bombs, Al Farooq, A New Pessimism, Brooklyn Half Marathon
FEBRUARY 24-MARCH2: Orange Park, Ali G-Saddam Hussein-Dan Rather-Bill Maher-Jon Stewart TV reviews, Stellastarr*, James Murphy, The Station nightclub fire, the Grammys
FEBRUARY 17-23: Village Voice Poll, Singles Club, Smoke and Fire
FEBRUARY 3-16: Snug, The Face, Pink, Supergrass live, Keith Moon, Phil Spector, Gore Vidal
JANUARY 27-FEBRUARY 2: Communist Chic, Spiritland, Daddy You're A Hero, Keith Moon, State of the Union, CPFC and more on Iraq
JANUARY 20-26: Divisions of Laura Lee, Burning Brides, Words On War, Child Abuse of a Different Kind, Losing My Edge
JANUARY 13-19: Pete Townshend, Pee Wee Herman, South Park and more Pete Townshend
JANUARY 6-12: Interpol in concert, Tony Fletcher's Top 10 Albums and Singles of 2002, More on Joe Strummer and The Clash, Fever Pitch and Bend It Like Beckham.
DECEMBER 31 2002 -JAN 5 2003: A tribute to Joe Strummer, Radio 4 live on New Year's Eve
DECEMBER 25-30: NO POSTINGS: ON VACATION
DECEMBER 16-24: Metro Area, Breakbeat Science, Sting makes Wine, New York Downtown redesigns, Keith Moon anecdotes, Campbell's jokes.
DECEMBER 9-15: Tiswas, pledge drives, The View from Up North
DECEMBER 2-8 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Weekend Players and Snow Lit Piano Bars)
FOR NOVEMBER 25-29 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Joe Hurley, Thanksgiving, Sven Väth, Richie Hawtin)
FOR NOVEMBER 16-24 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Longwave, The Pleased, Get Your War On, Powder, Radio 4, Supreme Beings Of Leisure, Ben Neill, Baldwin Brothers, Thievery Corporation)
FOR NOVEMBER 9-15 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes CMJ report including Datsuns, von Bondies and My Favorite, and political Eagles)
FOR NOVEMBER 2-8 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Halloween, the New York Marathon, and British Cuisine)
FOR OCTOBER 26-NOV 1 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes live reviews of The Streets, Mooney Suzuki, Sahara Hotnights, Flaming Sideburns, Stellastarr*; Jam Master Jay; Halloween)
FOR OCTOBER 19-25 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Underworld live, Atlantic Avenue antics, Girls and Boys night)
FOR OCTOBER 12-18 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Bali Bombing and stupid editorials, the Electro-Clash festival, VHS Or Beta, Ballboy, Mindless Self Indulgence, 2 Many DJs, Tom Petty, The Streets, pointless stop-the-war e-mails)
FOR OCTOBER 5-11 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Steve Earle and John Walker's Blues, Dreaming Of Britney, Girls Against Boys and Radio 4)
FOR SEPTEMBER 28-OCT 4 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes White Stripes live, Morel live, My Generation re-issue)
FOR SEPTEMBER 21-27 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes The Creation live, Village Voice, Wine not Whine and more)
FOR SEPTEMBER 14-20 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Firefighter Andre Fletcher, Untamed, Uncut, and more September 11 Musings)
FOR SEPTEMBER 7-13 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Sep 11 memorials, Did Bin Laden Win?, Scissor Sisters and Electro-clash)
FOR AUGUST 31-SEPTEMBER 6 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes The Strokes live, The Rising, Saint Etienne, Team USA, a.i., Tahiti 80, Dot Allison)
FOR AUGUST 17-30 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes holiday musings, wine reviews, Luna at Southpaw, and more)
FOR AUGUST 10-16 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes lengthy Who live review)
FOR JULY 27-AUG 9 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Area 2, 24 Hour Party People Party, Hootenanny Tour, 2 Many DJs and more.
FOR JULY 20-26 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Wilson Pickett, John Entwistle, rebuilding downtown NYC)
FOR JULY 13-19 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Love Parade, Teany, RenewNYC, Femi Kuti, NRA, Londonisation of New York, Britishification of Global Rock)
FOR JULY 6-12 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Mike Meyers as Keith Moon, the RAVE Act, John Entwistle, Michael Jackson, Southpaw, Moby Online, Layo & Bushwacka!,(accidentally deleted)
FOR JUNE 29-JULY 5 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes World Cup Final, John Entwistle's legacy, The Who's decision to carry on, the meaning of July 4)
FOR JUNE 22-28 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes World Cup diary, Dr. John, Doves, Mermaid Parade, John Entwistle's death, Timothy White's death, Clinic Firewater and Radio 4 live, The Who's decision to carry on)
FOR JUNE 15-21 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes World Cup diary, Liars live, GiantFingers, the Big Takeover)
FOR JUNE 8 -14 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes World Cup diary, StellaStarr*, Jose Padilla, Dee Dee Ramone, suicide bombings)
FOR JUNE 1-7 DAILY MUSINGS, CLICK HERE (includes World Cup diary, Southpaw, Six Foot Under, Andrew Sullivan)
FOR LATE MAY DAILY MUSINGS, CLICK HERE
FOR MAY'S EIGHT DAYS IN A WEEK'S MUSINGS, CLICK HERE
FOR LATE APRIL LONDON MUSINGS, CLICK HERE
FOR EARLY APRIL MUSINGS, CLICK HERE
iJamming! Site Copyright Tony Fletcher 2003