Saturday Jan 23, 2010

Enjoying your music

Despite being a cheery bunch, Jesus Wore Ray Bans did look rather serious at their gigs, especially Band Night at the German School for London, when we were trying to look particularly cool/hide the fact we were extremely nervous in front of the assembled Teutonic Lovelies.

I think if we'd achieved the giddy heights of fame we were destined for, we'd probably have cheered up a bit.

I always enjoy watching people play who are really enjoying themselves. This video of Rory Gallagher gives a great example of that. The bassist in particular seems to be having the time of his life.

Sunday Dec 13, 2009

Tammy's wise words

I love Tammy Wynette.

I wonder if you could get away with these lyrics today? I can't imagine Beyonce singing this one.

Monday Jun 29, 2009

Francoise Hardy in English

Radio 2's The Sounds of the 60s played Francoise Hardy's 'All over the world' recently - the English version of 'Dans le monde entier'.

Thanks to the wonders of YouTube, I came across this video from 1965 of Hardy singing the song whilst, somewhat bizarrely, sitting on the roof of a car wearing pyjamas and driving around Picadilly Circus.

This is definitely my favourite English version of Hardy's songs.

I also came across this brilliant version of 'Will you still love me tomorrow'. I need to play this at the next party I'm at and see who else enjoys dancing to it.

Sunday Jun 21, 2009

Why don't girls play guitar?

An interesting article from the BBC, here.

We had recorder lessons at school, like most people of my generation, I think. I quite enjoyed it and, by the time the lessons stopped, could read music at a basic level. That must have been when I was about ten years old. Between the ages of 11 and 13 or so, I had private trombone lessons, which I tried hard at, but found hard to get in to.

Then, when I was 16, I started playing around with a little toy guitar we had at home, taught myself some chords and started enjoying music properly for the first time. Sadly, rock stardom passed me by, but I did have a great time in my late teens playing in my own band at a few pubs, as well as jamming away at university. Nowadays, thanks to another small toy guitar I bought (a small one being more practical to take to parties, the beach, etc) I find myself playing on a daily basis for my own - and occasionally other people's - amusement.

This experience has lead me to believe that it's the guitar that should be taught as a group instrument at school, or as the instrument that parents encourage their kids to learn when they're young.

To enjoy playing the piano to any reasonable degree takes a lot of solitary effort. To enjoy playing the trumpet, trombone of violin takes similar amounts of time and dedication. More importantly, to get to a level where you can make some nice sounds takes real talent.

The guitar, on the other hand, doesn't need a huge amount of musical sophistication to reach a level where you can bash out a few basic pop songs. This is important - the child learning the guitar starts to enjoy the process a lot more quickly, doesn't need to be part of a huge orchestra or group to do so and is able to play the sort of music they like. The guitar's also a lot more practical to carry around than a trombone, piano, or even a violin.

After several months learning the trombone I could play some Hungarian folk songs rather badly. After a week of mucking around on the guitar, with nothing but a book of chords to guide me, I could play some simple versions of Bob Dylan, the Beatles and so on. I expect today's books would have the chords to more recent pop tunes. Nowadays I couldn't play a Hungarian folk song on the trombone to save my life, whereas even someone who picks up a guitar after not touching one for a few years can quickly start to play something decent again.

All of this suggests to me that having kids learn the guitar during school music lessons will get the average person enjoying music, whilst those with talent can easily more onto something more sophisticated. Britain could become a nation where every man and woman would be able to play the riff to Smoke on the Water - that would be quite a cultural leap forward.

The next question, of course, is whether government schools in Britain even have music lessons any more, but that's an entirely different topic.

Sunday Feb 10, 2008

Das ist Service!

Seven or so years ago, I got my first WAP enabled mobile phone - a Nokia 6310i. Whilst on the 371 back from Richmond station to the shared house I was living in in St Margarets, I gave the WAP browser a go, keen to live the mobile revolution, currently the focus of most of the presentations I was giving at Sun at the time.

I wasn't able to get to Amazon's UK WAP page for some reason, but Amazon's German site worked. I bought an album by Catatonia. The process was slow and fiddly, but it worked and my album duly arrived a week or so later. That was pretty much the last time I ever used a mobile phone to access the internet until getting my current Sony - seven years later.

Today, in my inbox, was a mail from telling me that Catatonia's former lead singer has released a new album. Now, that, dear readers, is what I call service. It is also what German speakers might possibly call 'Service'.

If I do buy it, I will still not be using my phone to do so.

Wednesday Feb 06, 2008

Camera Obscura!

I took Mrs Saul to see sickening schmaltzfest PS I love you the other week. It was full of cliched US rom-com scenes, overdone sentimentality, contrived slapstick and Irish men saying 'ho horrrr' and 'bejaysus'. I quite enjoyed it.

The only thing that rescued my dignity was discovering the name of the band whose song 'Hey Lloyd, I'm ready to be heartbroken' is played during the opening credits. It's not on the 'PS I love you' soundtrack (no, I didn't buy it, I checked the track listing on Amazon), but a quick Google and I found who recorded it - a Scottish band called Camera Obscura.

I've now got all three of their albums on permanent rotation. Think Belle and Sebastien's best with a bit more production and more conventional rhymes. Brilliant stuff - well worth an hour and a half of 'ho horrr', 'bejaysus' and contrived slapstick to have discovered it.

Thursday May 10, 2007

Gimme all your lovin'

I can't seem to get enough ZZ Top at the moment.

Tres Hombres arrived in the post the other day and has been on permanent rotation. The three live tracks at the end are fantastic! Worth getting the album for alone. The live sound is incredibly raw and much rougher than the studio tracks - great stuff.

I came across this video of them playing on The Tube, a cult UK music show from the early 80s. Turn up the volume!

Friday Mar 09, 2007

Why do musicians have such awful websites?

Why do most musicians have such awful, Flash based websites? I'm sure they look great on the designer's Mac in LA or London's Hoxton Square, but they're appalling when viewed by normal users - they take ages to load even if you have a fast DSL link, you can't bookmark or search them and music invariably warbles in the background whether you want it or not.

Amy Winehouse and Muse's sites are perfect example of something that looks superficially rather cool, but is irritating and unusable in reality. Motorhead's site takes things one stage further and combines Flash with frames. Hideous.

Monday May 30, 2005

Headbanging on Turkish Airlines

I love having all my songs on my iPod. From time to time I rediscover an album I'd bought a while ago and possibly didn't like first time around. On random second or third playing it turns out to be just right for the occasion. Last week, whilst sitting on a plane to Istanbul, I rediscovered Ozzy Osbourne's 'Diary of a Madman' and 'Bark at the Moon'. I'm not a metalhead at all, or at least thought I wasn't, but what a couple of classics! I found myself headbanging my way over the Bosphorous. Look at these dreadful lyrics from Bark at the Moon. Pure genius - They cursed and buried him Along with shame And thought his timeless soul had gone In empty burning hell--unholy one But now he’s returned to prove them wrong (oh no) Howling in shadows Living in a lunar spell He finds his heaven Spewing from the mouth of hell 'Over the Mountain' also has a couple of great lines - Over and under in between the ups and downs My mind's carpet magic ride goes round and round. Over the mountain kissing silver inlaid clouds Watching my body disappear into the crowd. Don't need no astrology it's inside of you and me You don't need a ticket to fly with me - I'm free. This is truly atrocious poetry, but the whole package comes together to make a couple of great albums. I'd love to see him live, but I doubt they'll be letting Ozzy into Dubai. He might bite the head off a camel.

Tuesday Mar 22, 2005

Mazzy Star on a Shuffle, iPod or iRiver?

Bought three Mazzy Star CDs, which I'm really enjoying. Not sure why I missed Mazzy Star the first time around. They seem to have released most of their good stuff when I was at Uni, during which time my music budget was nil and the indie discos I went to played more lively stuff. I haven't listened to enough music recently and really must get a decent mp3 player. I think the Shuffle would be best for me. Looks nice, not too pricey. I should get the cheaper knockoff from Taiwan that looks the same but has more features. Since I've got all my 3,000+ songs on my laptop, moving things around when travelling won't be a problem. Ideally I'd like at least a 20GB Shuffle, but I suppose that'll have to wait. iPod and iRiver devices just seem a little too pricey and a little too bulky, particularly after you add a carry case to protect them – yet another device to carry around, which I don't really want.



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