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TO BE PUBLISHED IN THE UK BY OMNIBUS PRESS, JULY 14 2003
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT HEDONISM AND TO READ EXCERPTS, CLICK HERE
Thursday July 3rd: STEP ON, The Royale, 506 Fifth Avenue, ParkSlope, Brooklyn, between 12th/13th Street. With Jon Davies. Free admission (over 21). A night of Madchester, Indie Pop, Punk-Funk and 60's Soul
Any DJ, even those like me who play out mainly for the fun of it, will tell you the horror stories of dealing with small-time bar and club owners who 'nickel and dime' and refuse to have a good time. Not so the partners behind Park Slope nightspot The Royale, whose enthusiasm for last night's 'Return to Madchester' party, Step On, can best be summarized by these two incidents:
1) Midnight. We've just kicked in on the real dance music. Partner #1, Joe, arrives at the venue on his Vespa, rides it straight through the bar area, parks it by the toilets and jumps on the dance floor with Bez-like enthusiasm.
2) 3.30am. My co-DJ Jon and myself are ready to call it a night. Partner #2, Brendan, refuses to let the party end. He gets on the decks himself and from his own collection, pulls out the following indisputable classics: 'Rez' and 'Cowgirl' by Underworld, 'It's A Fine Day' by Opus III, and 'State of Independence' by Moodswings.
The Royale's Joe and Brendan and the Vespa they rode in on.
Don't tell the Dance Police: Brooklynites step on the floor at Step On...
That last number, by the way, with vocals by Chrissie Hynde and the sampled MLK Jr. 'I Have A Dream' speech, was my wife Posie's choice of 'wedding aisle' music; given that it's ten years and a week since she rode to the altar on a horse and carriage to that song, it was a great way to end the night. And earlier on, when I'd been showing off my lone copy of Hedonism, someone noted from the author blurb that if I moved to New York City on July 4 1988, as stated, then today, July 4 2003, I celebrate 15 years living in the City. Indeed. Hard to believe especially considering I was such a London boy (about town) when I grew up
It was a grand night at the Royale, with unmitigated good vibes encouraging people on to the small floor both for tunes by the usual suspects (Mondays, Roses, Charlatans, Carpets, Farm, James, Dragons, Scream) and some of the house-techno classics associated with that golden late 80s/early 90s era (Marshall Jefferson, Orbital, Moby, Renegade Soundwave, Jay-Dee). In honor of Bez joining The Rapture on stage at Glatonbury, I delivered a mix of 'Tolokoshe Man' with 'House of Jealous Lovers', and for those who noticed, we also played Flowered Up, Soho, Northside, and The Orb. The throbbing sub-bass from that last act's 'Perpetual Dawn' single caused the turntables to vibrate (i.e. skip) uncontrollably and threw me off my game for a while, delaying the real dance music kick-off for thirty minutes while I tried to reset the weighting system: as with most bar-room set-ups, the booth at the Royale could do with a professional design.
But what the hell? A handful of people seemed to be out there dancing all night. (And for all that The Royale rightly ignores the Cabaret Laws, I appreciate that they enforce the smoking ban: I can not over emphasize how good it feels to wake up after a long night DJing and not enough sleep and not have to also endure the stench of smoke on body and clothes and throat. Really: it's the difference between being able to function and feeling sick all day.) Among them were two different groups who attended Communion all those years ago: we all found ourselves reminiscing about gigs by Renegade Soundwave, The Charlatans and Inspiral Carpets. Brendan, it turned out, remembered stage-diving to the band's Limelight gig back in '91. Next weekend, if all goes to plan, I'll be seeing both the Charlatans and the Inspiral Carpets on their home turf, the Old Trafford Cricket Ground in Manchester itself for the Move Festival. In the meantime, I'm off to celebrate 15-years of being a New Yorker. If I can make it here
The footballing theme of this week's previous posts came about through reading the British monthly magazine FourFourTwo, passed my way by my good friend Geoffrey Armes when he, his daughter and his partner hung out with us upstate this last weekend. Appropriately enough, I met Geoffrey on the football field, over in the East River Park, where British expats in New York routinely gather to kick each other to bits (in a purely sporting capacity of course). We soon discovered we hailed from exactly the same part of South London, which also meant we supported the same football team. Our friendship based on that commonality (and the fact that Geoffrey attended the famously feared Kingsdale Comprehensive School next door to the Wates Housing Estate where I lived) grew over the years as we became parents, worked on music, interviewed David Sylvian together for this site, and attempted to write books about our love of music.
Geoffrey's memoir/critique, Music Matters, remains unpublished for now, but he has just released his debut album, Green Love. Rooted in acoustic singer-songwriter territory, with an evident World Music percussive influence, it's a high quality home-grown recording on which Geoffrey's deft guitar playing provides an apt foundation for his soft voice that, by dint of its frequent falsetto, invites immediate comparisons to Neil Young or Sting. (Armes, who has played professionally in various forms of educational and classical dance music for years, prefers to reference Gordon Lightfoot.)
The melodies, like the arrangements, tend towards the subtle, but the best of them impose a welcome presence. 'Ride The Beast', 'Before The Fall' and 'The Three Kings' all have fragile choruses that accurately reflect their subject matter the sad passing of long-term love, the realisation that partnerships made in heaven don't always survive their time on earth. On the other hand, love for one's child is truly forever,and Green Love is book-ended by 'Swim' and 'Little Girl', songs I assume to be written for and about Geoffrey's 11-year old daughter, Constanza, especially as she also painted the album sleeve.
Geoffrey's told me there's a reference to 9/11 in the lyrics somewhere, but I've failed to find it. More readily identifiable is 'Hoolifan', in which he disowns the childhood friends who got caught up in 1970s football agro; 'The Song and the Scheme,' where from the vantage point of an apartment block balcony, he disassociates himself from the New York hubbub down below; and, appropriately enough, given that the instrument appears on almost every song, 'Twelve String,' whereby he sings of watching his partner watch him as he sings. For ex-Kingsdale, he's a mellow man indeed.
Green Love is several songs too long; Geoffrey made the common mistake of filling every available minute the CD offers rather than leaving the listener satiated and hungry for more. In concert, he's less likely to labor the point; when I saw him play at the East Village coffee bar Kudo Beans recently (see right), his engaging, affable manner in front of a small audience was preferable to Ian McCulloch's disappointing/ed detachment in front of an equally small audience at the Bowery Ballroom later that same evening. Indeed, there's something to be said for traveling light, without the hefty baggage of a prior legacy; with his beautifully toned Gibson by his side, Armes is comfortable where he stands in life right now, and it comes across it the quiet confidence of his music.
Armes will be playing Kudo Beans, on 1st Avenue and 3rd Street, Thursday nights for the next few weeks. You can listen to and download the songs 'Darkness Falls,' 'Black and Gold' and 'Ride The Beast' in slightly less-finished form at mp3.com/Geoffrey_Armes. Green Love is available mail order through email@example.com.
Continuing yesterday's football theme a while longer, Four Four Two magazine's June issue cover story about the David Beckham saga was the third such feature I read in almost as many days. Each indicated the extent to which the story of Beckham's move from Manchester United to Real Madrid matters to more than just your average hardcore football fan.
The first piece that came my way was a Guardian story by author Tom Bower continuing the argument made in his book Broken Dreams about how the money men have ruined football; it was forwarded to me by someone in London not normally given to following the sport. It's hard to disagree with Bower when he writes, scathingly, "Millions of pounds that should enrich the roots of English football are pocketed by greedy businessmen, often based in foreign tax havens. Confined to the sideline by its own breathless incompetence is the Football Association, the regulator of 48,000 English clubs. Steeped in debt and managed by fools, the FA has remained passive while the £1.3bn earned by football from the Sky bonanza over the past three years has only enriched a few clubs while the rest, even in the Premier League, face financial meltdown." On the other hand, I did wonder which editor allowed Bower to describe United manager Alex Ferguson as 'volatile', not once, not twice, but three times in one short feature. And the description of Barcelona (the club to which Man United originally intended to sell Beckham) as "a provincial Spanish town" will come as news to all those who thought it was one of the major European capitals.
Then there was an op-ed piece in, of all that you may consider unlikely places, Sunday's New York Times, alongside the regular political columns by Thomas Friedman and Maureen Dowd. Phil Ball, himself the author of books on Spanish football in general and Real Madrid in particular, seems to assume that New Yorkers will know Beckham; after all, the movie Bend It Like
is still in the theaters months after release. But in a piece that focuses heavily on the financial or at least the glamour - aspects of the move, Ball mostly sidesteps Beckham's football skills and, I've just noticed, manages to avoid mention of Alex Ferguson entirely. (Given that he references Hugh Grant, Nelson Mandela, Kofi Anan, and John Wayne instead, maybe he didn't assume that New Yorkers knew Beckham after all...)
It's Sam Pilger's well-written, well-researched and quite prescient F(considering it was written a couple of months ago) our Four Two cover story that not only explains why Beckham should be leaving Manchester United in the first place, but why he would eventually choose Real Madrid over Barcelona or Inter Milan. Of Beckham's departure from the Old Trafford ground, where he's spent his entire career thus far, it's clear that the player feels he never got the respect he deserved from the club's 'volatile manager' (©Tom Bower). After all, as a product of the club's youth program, Beckham has always been considered Manchester United 'property' especially by Alex Ferguson, who doesn't like to see any player loom larger than the club itself. As Beckham grew to become an ever better and more popular footballer and also an ever more public pop idol Ferguson chafed at his inability to exert control over the player. At the same time, Beckham grew frustrated to see high profile, expensive signings (especially, for example, the inferior Rio Ferdinand) arrive at the club only to receive benefits, favors and a deference he himself believed he'd been denied.
Agreed, pictures like this make Beckham look more concerned with the glam than the game. Madrid may prove otherwise...
These may seem like the whinings of a prima donna especially to those who particularly dislike Beckham's wife, the former Posh Spice and her increasingly mundane musings. Still, it's worth wondering who's really been throwing the temper tantrums around Manchester of late. Was it Beckham, who took a day off from training to stay at home when his son was sick with gastroenteritis? Or Ferguson, who fined the player two weeks' wages and dropped him from the next game as a punishment for the apparent truancy? Most tellingly, if this is a damning story about a personality becoming bigger than his club, then who's the culprit? Why should it not be Ferguson, who has encouraged the departure of the one player who threatens his omnipotence at Manchester United, as opposed to Beckham who passed up the opportunity to have a team built around him at Barcelona, and to a lesser extent at Inter Milan, and headed instead to Real Madrid, arguably the best, and certainly the most star-studded team in Europe?
This, it seems to me, is at the crux of the story and it's what makes the outcome interesting to anyone who believes in the human desire to excel. Beckham, at 28, is at the pinnacle of his career and the peak of his game. He's a multi-millionaire who lacks for nothing, who has more medals on his mantelpiece than most of us could dream of, who has somehow grown up in public (despite the way he was treated in England after the 1998 World Cup sending off debacle), and who receives more public attention than most of us could bear. And yet he has chosen to join the one team in Europe at which he may not be the best player, may not even be the second best player, maybe not even the third best. Hell, with Ronaldo, Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane alongside him at Real Madrid, Beckham is not even guaranteed to start every game.
By throwing himself in with such a peerless peer group, Beckham appears to believe that he does have more to prove, that he can become a better player, that he can win more trophies and that he can do all of this despite language difficulties and under an even greater media spotlight. And I don't buy the suggestion that he's left England behind purely for the financial gain. (Allowing that, as any rock band from the Beatles to R.E.M. has learned, if your name and talent generate cash for your bosses, you're entitled to fight for every penny of it that you can.) It seems that Beckham wants to be remembered as more than just a great English footballer and a passing pop idol; he wants to be known as one of the greatest footballers to have ever walked the planet, period. If I'm wrong or much more importantly, if he fails - I doubt it will be for lack of trying. And so, like millions of passionate football fans around the world, I'll be watching Real Madrid games next season to see whether Beckham can raise his game or, collectively, The Beautiful Game - to a hitherto unprecedented level.
Four Four Two, magazine, I note, is edited now by Mat Snow, the former NME journalist who also edited Mojo for a while. Consumate mod and ex-Cappucino Kid Paolo Hewitt, I see, is among its current contributors. The rising fortunes of football magazines can be compared to the falling favors of the music monthlies, most notably the dance monthly Muzik, which has abruptly ceased publication on the very eve of its 100th issue. I don't know precisely what that says about the current state of post-rave British music culture, except that it's clearly unhealthy.
Regardless of the above and what it says for timing, I received a hot-off-the-presses, still-smelling-of-printer's ink copy of Hedonism yesterday, and it looks f***ing fantastic. You'll have to excuse me my entirely unabashed pride; for all that I've written books before, I'm not sure anything matches the satisfaction of holding a properly published novel in my own hands. The book arrived with a note from my editor suggesting it was an occasion to "Open the Viognier" (I turned him on to this grape of grapes a few years back); I instead had to prepare for my Monday night 5-a-side football game... Which may explain why I've spent so long today writing this Musing.
Back from a fantastic weekend in the country, the first one that's actually felt like summer around New York this year. Got in some swimming, some football, some hiking, some reading, some wine, some serious water park action, and even, with my Palace-supporting mate Geoffrey, some strumming on the old Rickenbacker. It was such a pleasurable 48 hours I completely forgot that the Glastonbury Festival was taking place over the same weekend, featuring some of the best bands in the world.
He hardly looks a (Mon)day older: Bez at Glastonbury with The Rapture. (Unless, of course, it's an old picture...)
By all accounts, it seems to have been a resounding success, and I trust that anyone who went there had a great time. It seems oddly appropriate (given how much I've waxed on about Madchester the past couple of weeks and that I'm playing a party in Brooklyn this week called 'Step On') that Happy Mondays' Bez joined New York's the Rapture on stage for their modern dance anthem 'House of Jealous Lovers.' Glad to know the old bugger's still got his dancing shoes on and pleased he should show such good taste in new bands. I can't think of a better bunch of lunatics for him to dance around to.
Apart from the music, the big news at Glastonbury this year was the new perimeter fence, in an effort to quell gatecrashers, keep the numbers manageable and reduce crime. The effort would seem to have worked, as the newspapers report that the fence was insurpassable and that crime fell in half. And so I can't help but reprint this mischievous comment from a Guardian report on the event, a stereotype of which you can make what you will: "Curiously, a large percentage of the last stragglers still trying to reach the fence were young men from Liverpool."
They're no longer young men, and they would have you know they're from Tranmere, across the Mersey from Liverpool, but in my book they're still Scousers: Half Man, Half Biscuit, who have have brought us much joy over the past 20-something years. I appreciate that an iJamming! reader over on The Forum linked to the All About Comedy site, and its Flash animations to accompany the Biccies' recent songs 'The Referee's Alphabet', 'Slipknot' and 'Breaking News.' I was in stitches.
Talking of Liverpool, and football, I was reading the latest Four Four Two over the weekend... A piece on Reading manager Alan 'Positivity' Pardew succeeded in telling us that Pardew "was a self-confessed average player who overcame his limitations with above average mental strength and will." It failed to inform us, however, as to which team Pardew actually played for while overcoming said limitations. This feeds into my footballing inferiority complex and so I'll gladly rectify the magazine's (deliberate?) error: it was Crystal Palace FC, and Pardew can forever boast that it was with his last-gasp goal that Palace beat Liverpool 4-3 in the FA Cup Semi-Final at Villa Park back in 1990. Given that we lost the Final itself, in a replay, to Manchester United saving Alex Ferguson from the sack and thereby beginning the chain of events that have culminated in David Beckham moving to Madrid there are many Palace fans who consider Pardew's goal the high point of the club's 100-year history. It's certainly safe to say that Pardew was never referred to by his nickname of Mildew again
JUNE 23-29: Ceasars/The Realistics live, weddings and anniversaries, Cabaret laws.
JUNE 9-23: Hell W10, The Clash, Big Audio Dynamite, Nada Surf live, Field Day debacle
JUNE 2-8: Six Feet Under - Over, Field Day, Siren Fest, Crouching Tigher Hidden Cigarette
MAY 19-JUNE 1: Ian McCulloch live, New York's financial woes, Six Feet Under, Hedonism, Tommy Guerrero.
MAY 5-18: Live reviews of The Rapture, De La Soul, Carlsonics, Laptop, The Libertines, Echoboy, The Greenhornes; observations on Chris Coco/The Blue Room, The Apple Music Store, Alan Freed, Phil Spector, The Matrix Reloaded, Rare Earth, Tinnitus and Royale!
APRIL 28-MAY 4: Flaming Lips, Madonna, Bill Maher, The Dixie Chicks, the war
APRIL 21-27: Rotary Connection, War(n) Out, Cocaine Talk
APRIL 14-20: Belated London Musings on Death Disco and CPFC.
APRIL 7-13: London Musings: Madness, Inspiral Carpets, the Affair, the Palace, the Jam
MARCH 31-APRIL 6: Music be the spice of life, London Calling: Ten Observations from the Old Country
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