Sunday, 30 September 2012

Amanda Palmer & The Flaming Lips

Earlier this summer Amanda Palmer recorded 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face' with The Flaming Lips, the Ewan MacColl song made famous by Roberta Flack. She also made a video with them in which she's naked in the bath with everything on display. Don't click on the video below if you're likely to be offended by a naked body - I'm not, I've even written on her naked body (at her London Art Show in June this year).

It's a lovely, and rather interesting version of the song but it hasn't been released yet. I hope it's made available soon.

The Flaming Lips and Amanda Palmer - The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face from Delo Creative on Vimeo.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Tom Tom Club - 'Downtown Rockers'

Those bouncy people at Tom Tom Club released a new EP/LP a few weeks back called 'Downtown Rockers' and now there's a video. You must watch it since it is black 'n' white fab with some truly antique video clips of people like Debbie Harry and more of your New York '70s favourites. Personally, I just love the way they sing 'rockerz' with a 'z' rather than an 's'.

Chris names the bands from the New York underground scene in the late '60s and '70s while Tina and Victoria sing the chorus of 'Downtown rockerz, I remember you, Downtoen rockers, I will still love you' with the rest of the band with a spikey guitar riff and drums thumping away. He starts with 'The Velvet Underground, The Modern Lovers, The New York Dolls, Patti Smith...' and moves on to The Ramones, Blondie and everyone you could wish for. He even name-checks The Shirts (I still have their single 'Tell Me Your Plans'). The last name is (appropriately) Talking Heads.

Chris is quoted somewhere as saying that this song is their version of the books that everyone seems to be writing these days about the downtown music scene in the '70s. Immortalise their names (if that's needed) in song rather than print and it's lovely to hear some of the names in the list that risk falling by the wayside. A fitting tribute.

I can't think of Tina and Chris without recalling their show at the Great Eastern Hotel years ago when I caught Tina's warm CBGB knickers when she threw them into the crowd (she was wearing others underneath). Earlier in the evening it was lovely to wander round with Chris and Dawn and marvel at the City media kids pretending to be CBGB punks for the evening (and getting it so wrong) and then, out of the blue, there were Tina and Chris walking up to give Dawn a big hug. They're nice people.

Anyway, watch the video, download the album and enjoy!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Marc Bolan 35th Anniversary Concert 15 September 2012

On Saturday night I went to the anniversary concert celebrating the music of Marc Bolan 35 years after his death in a car accident. Like the 30th anniversary concert, the show was at Shepherd's Bush Empire and had some of the same pop stars on stage. This concert was much better organised (and more professional) than the previous one and I hope it'll be released on DVD like the 30th anniversary show was. It deserves to be!

Marc wrote some of the best pop songs of the early 70s and virtually everyone reading this blog will have heard a T.Rex song since so many have been used on telly adverts over the years. You might not recognise the name of the song but you'll recognise the riff. It was nice to see contemporaries of Marc on stage singing his songs as well as my own generation of fans who became pop stars in their own right like Boy George and Marc Almond. The concert was in aid of the PRS Members Benevolent Fund for musicians and songwriters who need some support in their ageing years - Marc would've been 65 this year so it seems even more appropriate.

Anyway, on to the show. As I noted five years ago at the 30th anniversary show, the children of the revolution have grown fat, gray and beery but we still recognise great sounds and can boogie (slightly ungainly in my case). The show opened with a svelte Lynsey de Paul (cor!) walking on stage in a sparkly silver cocktail frock and ushering on Noddy Holder (double cor!) in waistcoat and trousers (but no mirrored top hat, sadly) as our most welcome comperes for the evening. Lynsey was a delight and Noddy got slightly more racier as the evening wore on but both were lovely.

First up were T.Rextasy, the official T.Rex tribute band, with Danielz channeling Marc from the corkscrew hair, the guitar poses and warbling voice. I liked his green flares.The band were on-stage for virtually the entire show, playing songs on their own as well as supporting all the guest singers.

We had a great array of singers: Mike Lindup (from Level 42), Andy Ellison (John's Children), Linda Lewis, Marc Almond, Alvin Stardust, Boy George, Glen Matlock, Steve Harley and Sandie Shaw. They all came on once or twice (or thrice for Boy George and Marc Almond) to sing their favourite T.Rex songs. We were also treated to Tony Visconti (Marc's producer) and his son, as well as Howie Casey (Marc's saxophonist) and the Dirty Pretty Strings. And, of course, we had an ensemble encore (without George and Steve) at the end.

My favourite moments - other than Lynsey and Noddy walking onto the stage at the start - included Linda Lewis's stonking version of 'Children of the Revolution'. Power chords riffing with her incredible voice creating an astonishingly powerful sound. She has the vocal range to pull it off. She knew Marc in the early days and contributed vocals all over the place (including to Bowie's 'Aladdin Sane') before making it on her own. She played out the glam queen in a golden sequinned frock and peacock jacket, giving it some serious welly!

Alvin Stardust was someone I seriously never thought I'd see live and had assumed had retreated into cabaret but he showed he was still a rocker in his choice of songs. His first song was 'Sweet Little Rock'n'Roller', the only non-Marc song of the evening because Alvin had sung it with him on 'Supersonic' back in the day. That was electric and got everyone moving. He came back later to sing 'I Love To Boogie'. I was terribly impressed with Alvin's effortless professionalism and knowing how to work a crowd - he's been on stage since the '60s and that showed off a mile! Well done Alvin!

Marc Almond threw himself into the show the way he did five years ago, coming on three times to sing songs and having three costume changes, from red velvet to black to gold sequins. He did a variety of songs with T.Rextasy but I liked 'Whatever Happened To The Teenage Dream' best (as it was when he performed it five years ago). He put a lot of glitz and glam into his performance, almost like he was singing in front of a mirror in his teenage bedroom (which I bet he did!). He clearly is a real fan of T.Rex and he's not afraid to show it, getting into the spirit of the evening and giving good show.

Boy George didn't have the costume changes but he also came on three times to sing and my favourite was 'Telegram Sam', a great version with him ripping it up, striking poses and being a glam god for the night. He also looked like he was having great fun, trading poses with Danielz throughout. He wasn't wearing the scarab-based clothes I've seen him in the last few times, which was a nice change. He also won the award for the best shoes - gleaming golden shoes that drew the eye.

Glen Matlock opened the second half of the show with his fast version of 'Debora' and what a good version it was. I met him later coming out of the bar (as I was going in) so he had to walk past me. I said, 'Great song' and replied with 'thank you' and that's fine. I spoke to Glen last year at the end of an ensemble show at Ray Davies Meltdown festival when Glen sat in the row behind me and I couldn't leave without saying something. It's not every day you meet a Sex Pistol! Sandie Shaw was on stage that night as well so I might as well start a rumour...

Noddy and Lynsey did a great job of filling in the gaps when people weren't ready to come on stage and it was in one of these gaps that I learned the story of 'Clean Up Woman' by Betty Wright. Noddy did Brian Matthews' 'My Top 12' on Radio 1 back in 1972 and he chose to play 'Clean Up Woman' which I've loved ever since. When I saw a Betty Wright 'best of' CD a few years ago I had to buy it because this song was on it. It turns out that Marc bought the single in America and brought it back for Noddy because he knew Nod liked soul music. Marc also thought that SLADE should record it. I'm pleased they didn't but I'm happy to know the background story to the record.

Steve Harley came on for a couple of songs - I never really thought of him as glam or a contemporary of Marc's. He started off with a nice version of 'Lofty Skies' and went on to play 'Dandy In The Underworld'. He said that he sang backing vocals on the song so it was fitting for him to sing it (Marc Almond sang it at the 30th anniversary gig). He didn't quite capture Marc's pomp majesty but it was a worthy tribute.

Sandie Shaw only had one song, 'Life's A Gas', but she performed a miracle while on stage. It's not one of my favourite songs and is forever tarnished by the duet between Marc and Cilla Black back in 1972 on the Cilla Show. That performance really rubbed me up the wrong way to the extent that I still recall it and Cilla donning a feather boa to show how glam she was. But Sandie rescued it on Saturday night and I think she'll be the one that pops into my head in future when I hear that song. Thank you Sandie!

And finally, some kudos to Danielz and T.Rextasy for being on stage and playing for most of the evening. They were good sports, part tribute band, part backing band to all the guest vocalists and band in their own right. Best of the night for me was 'Jeepster', a truly electric version that ripped up the night. They also took us into the encores of 'Get It On' and 'Hot Love' with the ensembled stars (minus Boy George and Steve Harley) coming back on stage for loud and cheery versions of those songs. It was lovely to see them trading lines, singing in groups and singly and putting their arms round one another. In a way it was a big beery singalong and I think Marc would've loved it! The last voice of he evening was Noddy Holder shouting out his trademarked 'Keep on rocking'!'.

As I've said, the children of the revolution (me included) have grown fat and beery but we still know how to boogie. And we still love Marc.

Monday, 17 September 2012

SLADE aren't just for Christmas, but ...

Sorry to mention Christmas so early in the year but a very special Christmas present is being planned for all SLADE fans. No, not the fabled reunion (which *will* happen one day, I have faith) but a night devoted to SLADE on BBC4 just before Christmas.

The special night will include the 'It's SLADE' documentary, 'SLADE in Flame' (often referred to as one of the best rock films ever made) and a special 'SLADE at the BBC' programme. This will feature archive performances not seen in full on UK television since they were originally broadcast and, I'm reliably informed, will include a missing performance of 'Coz I Luv You' from Top Of The Pops that has never been seen before. Might I say 'cor!'?  'Coz I Luv You' was the first SLADE single I bought back in 1971 and I still have it.

Last Christmas I was lucky enough to see three quarters of SLADE - Sir Noddy Holder at Union Chapel narrating 'A Christmas Carol' and Dave and Don with their version of Slade at Koko (will the DVD of that show ever be issued?). Sadly, I haven't seen Jim Lea since about 1981 but there's time yet.

I was also lucky to see Noddy compere the Marc Bolan 35th Anniversary Concert on Saturday night (blog to follow about that) and he's looking good. I *think* he even sang along to 'Hot Love' at the end of the show. And his was the final voice of the evening when he shouted out his trademarked 'Keep on rocking!' at the top of his voice. We will, Noddy, we will!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Marc Bolan Concert

In advance of doing a proper blog about the Marc Bolan 35th Anniversary Concert I thought I'd share a selection of photos I took last night. Do you recognise them all?

Alphabeat - 'Love Sea'

Pop has returned! Those happy, smiling Vikings called Alphabeat are back with a bouncy song and video in advance of their next album. And yes, that is Boy George in the swimming pool!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra - 'The Killing Type'

Amanda's new record, 'Theatre Is Evil', comes out next week and to celebrate the event she has given us a new video for 'The Killing Type'. Amanda played the song earlier this summer at her art and rock shows and I remember her scraping two knives over each other at the start of the song to create an eerie sound.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Two Glorious Golds - Richard and Ellie

It's Super Saturday at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and ParalympicsGB have won lots of medals of all three colours. There have been some amazing performances today but I want to single out two that made me cheer out loud watching them on telly - Richard Whitehead in the 200m on the track and Ellie Simmonds in the 400m freestyle in the pool. Both were very special performances.

Richard Whitehead is a passionate marathon runner who also now holds the world record for the 200m. He's a double amputee with an ungainly running style that just works for him. It was amazing to see him at the back and then just glide through the field to the front and keep pulling away from everyone else to win in style and set a new world record. Afterwards, he said he runs like Dame Kelly Holmes - from the back. It was just astonishing to see him overtake all the other athletes, most of whom were single amputees and power through the finishing line. And it was lovely to see him celebrating afterwards, doing his lap of honour and refusing to leave the track without hugging his family and fiancé.

The other joy was seeing Ellie Simmonds in the pool for the 400m freestyle. She's only 17 and won two Gold medals in Beijing four years ago. Could she defend her Gold?  Of course she could! She not only retained her title but she set a new world record in doing so!  It was tense up until the last 100m when, every time she looked about ready to take the lead they came up to a turn and she's so small she always ended up second again. And then she did it, went up a gear and turned first and started pulling away bit by bit, extending her lead and stomped on the race. It was hers - she did it! I cheered and clapped and cried. The pool will erupt with cheers for your medal ceremony and you'll have earned every single cheer. Well done lass!

There's so much more to come ...