Archive for the ‘Music’ Category


January 8, 2012

Maybe we owe Michael Jackson an apology. Hands up who believed that he MUST have molested those young boys, even though he was found not guilty in that famous trial!

We live in a litigious world. The smell of money brings out all sorts of legal claims. The music business reports a new one almost every day. Michael Jackson’s honey pot unearthed them all, the almost obligatory song theft claims, even “wives” wanting their share – but since his death NO child has come forward to say they were inappropriately dealt with by Jackson. If ever there’s been a “window of opportunity” it’s been during the last year and a half. Even his grubby family keep putting their hands out in one way or another, but there’s been a significant silence in this area. You’d think that if there was a claim out there – legitimate or malicious – we would have heard of it by now.

OUR problem was that we live in a corrupt filthy-minded world. We see threats and evil everywhere. We COULDN’T believe that an adult could possibly be playing with children without being a predator.

I’m NOT saying that Michael Jackson was probably as pure as he might have had us believe. Otherwise he wouldn’t have gone to so much trouble – and expense – to silence his first accuser, Jordie Chandler. He never allowed that charge to be tested in court. That was his big mistake. But it’s rather telling that during the media assault he embarked on afterwards to defend his honour Jackson quite openly and innocently declared that that he was sharing his bed with children and saw nothing wrong with it. He really did believe that and WE couldn’t believe it.

Michael Jackson loved the Peter Pan concept – the Boy who never grew up – but truth is he was a tarnished youth from the beginning. That he couldn’t change. He couldn’t change that he’d seen and heard things no “child” should see and hear. Before they became famous the Jacksons played in strip joints where women exposed themselves to him. His brothers and father thought nothing of having sex around Michael. We know that Michael Jackson a distorted outlook on sex. Fellow child star Brooke Shield tells us the first thing Michael wanted to talk about when he got her alone was sex. Nothing happened.

We also know that off stage Michael Jackson was unbelievably shy, another outcome of his upbringing. That shyness wasn’t an act. So, there’s every chance that Michael Jackson DID look at pornography with his little friends, that he DID get himself and them drunk, and maybe he exposed himself to them – but THAT’s as far as it probably went. The shyness would have got in the way. In that respect he WAS the child that never grew up. There has always been a question mark over his sexual relationship with his wives Debbie Rowe and Lisa Marie Presley. We know that his three children were begat without intercourse.

While he was alive that was all a very sensitive aspect of Michael Jackson’s existence, and the moment there was any suggestion of impropriety he threw everything he had – and he had plenty – to bury it. Michael’s not around any more. I don’t think the Michael Jackson Industry that his death has produced would or could be bothered to be as defensive as Jackson himself. We’ve heard nothing. Maybe our suspicious were misplaced. Maybe we had dirtier minds than he had. Things DID happen, but probably not THAT.



January 2, 2012

LMFAO’s ‘Sexy And I Know It’ is America’s No.1 song. Significantly their previous No.1 has nudged back into the top 10 in its 40th week of charting. Nothing SO startling about that. Songs just stay and stay these days. In the days of physical singles whether we liked it or not record companies had the ability to delete singles from sale to force us to concentrate on a follow-up single or send us to the album containing that popular song. They can’t or won’t do that any more. Nine of the current American Top 40 songs have been around for more than half a year.

‘Sexy And I Know It’ is also back at No.1 in Australia. In 2011 between this No.1 and ‘Party Rock Anthem’ LMFAO spent 17 week at No.1 in Australia. No-one has accumulated such a dominant 12 month run in Australia since Abba in the 70s, and the Beatles in the 60s. No-one else!

We have to take LMFAO seriously. They’re not the decade’s Village People or KLF. They’re doing the business and are symptomatic of the times, not exactly perfomers, not exactly a group – a “project” created by two DJs with an interesting heritage.

Stefan Gordy (Redfoo) and Skyler Gordy (Sky Blu) were born 11 years apart. Stefan, the younger of the two, is Skyler’s uncle. Skyler is Stefen’s father’s grandson. Stefan’s father is Berry Gordy IV, the second of three children from Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr’s second marriage. Gordy (the father) married three times. He didn’t marry Stefan’s mother, like he didn’t marry Motown star Diana Ross, who also secretly bore a child to him. Berry Gordy Jr fathered eight children altogether, four inside marriages, four outside. Stefen is his youngest child. He’s the product of a brief relationship Berry Gordy Jr had with Nancy Leiviska, a Motown executive for 18 years. Leiviska did more than sleep with the boss. She came to Motown as Sammy Davis Jr’s personal assistant, and at Motown saw the company into the video age – long before the advent of MTV. When it came to MTV Leiviska wrote and produced a cutting edge video for Rockwell’s ‘Somebody’s Watching Me’, the first Motown clip aired by MTV. Rockwell, incidentally, was another of Gordy’s sons, another of the non-marriage children. Leiviska also directed and shot Rick James’ landmark ‘Superfreak’ video. She’s not watching her son’s worldwide success with LMFAO from the sidelines. Stefan’s mum administers the ‘Party Rock Anthem’ copyright.

One last family connection. The name LMFAO was accidentally coined by Skyler’s grandmother. When the messaged her to say the duo planned to call itself Sexe (pronounced Sex-say) Dudes, her response was LMFAO, a more profane extension of the Internet acronym LOL (laughing out loud). One could safely assumed that it was the grandmother on Berry Gordy IV’s mother’s side of the family. IV’s mum Raynoma has been the whistle blower on Berry Gordy Jr’s “interesting” history. She was the one who revealed for the first time the child Berry had had with Diana Ross – who had quickly married her manager when she discovered she was with child. Raynoma was there at the start of the Motown story. She helped her husband establish his recording empire. After they divorced and she remarried, Raynoma went back to the company, only to find herself sacked during a cost-cutting exercise. The final cruel blow came when Berry Gordy Jr sold Motown for $61 million in 1988 she expected a “little something. Her name had been on the original company documents but Berry had persuaded her to take it off for the good of the company. In 1988 she didn’t get a cent. SO she wrote a book instead. Now Berry is taking about creating a Broadway musical about his life. How much of the above will feature? The official Motown story is filled with fiction covering over a much more sordid reality.

More of that some other time. Let’s get back to LMFAO, worlds away from the original Gordy family empire. If we dare to attempt to predict the future we shouldn’t expect RedFoo and SkyBlu to party on for much longer. They’ll become a hit factory for others, as producers and maybe even as record label executives. In recent history there’s a long list of hitmakers who’ve been handed the keys to the front office, often a case of being prompted out of their depth. In the Gordy boys’ case their father paved the way.

Like the Black Eyed Peas – Will.I.Am was RedFoo’s junior high school friend and an early supporter –LMFAO, together or separately will become a money spinning corporation. RedFoo also has business background in investment and money. While their father’s Motown Records’ music will always remind us of the 60s and 70s, in a very different way LMFAO already have and will continue to shape the times were living through right now. Whether ‘Party Rock Anthem’ is the new ‘Lambada’ or ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is yet to be determined.


December 18, 2011

Yet again we see the power of a brand name with excited headlines resulting from  the Beach Boys announcing their reunion for a 50-date 50th anniversary tour and new album in 2012. As a group they were never all that good. Brian Wilson’s genius as a songwriter and arranger made the difference. The musicians Wilson has been working with in recent years are heads and shoulders over the Beach Boys, who would never have managed recreating ‘Pet Sounds’ and ‘Smile ‘ on stage as Brian and his new friends have managed to do. To create the original works Brian had to work around the Beach Boys.

So, the reunion is about nostalgia rather than musicianship. It’s rather telling that what we know so far about the new album is that the group as is in 2011 has re-recorded their 1968 hit ‘Do It Again’ as its heralding call for the new year.  Don’t be surprised if that’s what we see and hear at the Grammy Awards. Awards used to be about recognition of achievement. They’ve become events. The Awards and winners have become less of the priority. The reunited  Beach Boys will be a Grammy event.

‘Do It Again’ was written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love. In 1968 it was a return to the traditional Beach Boys sound after Brian Wilson’s sand-box collaborations with Van Dyke Parks. Mike Love was the Beach Boy who was most unhappy about Brian working with Parks and the music Brian was creating. Cousin Mike is on record for calling ‘Good Vibrations’ “shit”. Eat your words Mike.

In subsequent years Mike Love initiated lawsuit after lawsuit against his fellow Beach Boys, over his contribution to the songwriting,  over the name of the band, etc etc. ‘Do It Again’ isn’t just an appropriate theme for 2012, that song offers is a peace dove within Beach Boys ranks. Missing in action in the meantime of course are Brian’s brothers Dennis and Carl who have taken their surfboards into the beyond.  Dennis drowned in 1983. Carl lost his life to cancer in 1998.

The 2012 Beach Boys will see one-time protagonists Brian Wilson and Mike Love joined by Al Jardine and David Marks. Jardine was a high school classmate of Brian Wilson’s who joined the Wilson Boys and their cousin Mike for their first recording session   When he left the Beach Boys shortly afterwards he was replaced on bass by Marks but returned in 1962 at Brian’s request. Marks, despite many overtures,  didn’t become a permanent Beach Boy again until 1997.

What’s kept our attention on the Beach Boys over the years of course was the group’s relationship with Brian. After a mental breakdown they left him at home to write songs while they sang their old songs about surfing, girls and hot rods around the world. They came back and found him in his sandbox with Van Dyke Parks. Try as they might to carry on without their deranged resident genius they could never quite manage it. Whenever the Beach Boys needed a career lift they tried to get Brian on stage or into the studio again. Eventually it just all fell to pieces although Mike Love and Al Jardine put some of the broken bits together separately towards their own ends. Miraculously Brian Wilson emerged (relatively) sane and has been making some wonderful (and eccentric) music.

In the beginning Brian Wilson needed the rest of The Beach Boys. He didn’t for long, but he was stuck with them, just as they were stuck with a quickly out-dated name. The Beach Boys always needed Brian Wilson, even if it was only spiritually. While Brian’s been working with musicians worthy of him the Beach Boys have limped on. Was that version of the Beach Boys that toured Australia earlier this year REALLY miming?  To be at all relevant he Beach Boys STILL need Brian Wilson and will have him again in 2012.

Suddenly The Beach Boys name means something again.


Britney Vs Gaga: No contest

February 20, 2011

(I’m back – excuse the interruption)

So here we are, waiting (eagerly?) for major new releases from pop princesses Lady Gaga and Britney Spears. The contrast couldn’t be more different.

Britney – not matter what she has in store for us – promises more of the same. Gaga is the best thing to happen to music in a long long time. I’m sure even she doesn’t know what will happened tomorrow. That’s part of why she’s so interesting. As the music industry salivated over the then forthcoming ‘Hold It Against Me’ single I found myself wondering “why”? Who could possibly be interested in Britney any more?

You could understand it once. New girl on the block, a prospective rival for Madonna. That jailbait thing while she was telling us about reading the Bible every day and saving her virginity. None of it was true. She’s given us the odd good tune, made some entertaining (provocative) videos, but it’s all been a big fat lie. We’ve been deceived. The trainwreck of her personal life is sad, but no reason to deserve loyalty. What’s she got for us that we’re not also getting now from Katy Perry (saucy, but cheeky with it) or Rihanna (sexy and striking)? Britney’s music comes from the same production line (literally). What does Britney herself have to add and offer?

These days singer are often like fashion models. Someone else is responsible for the clothes they wear. Pop stars have become “clothes” horses. Here’s what you’ll wear today, get out on the catwalk and sell.

There is just one of Lady Gaga’s differences. She generates what we hear and see – with help of course , but she’s the engine. While others helped her become what she’s become amd she relies on a team to help her be what she wants to be, behind the craziness there’s a REAL Stefani Germanatto, with her feet on the ground. Her father is her business partner, but not her manager like others we could mention whose parents have pushed them into the spotlights mindless of the consequences. How many of the “problems” we perceive in others can be sheeted home to opportunist, bad parenting? Gaga is control. She’s running this show, at her own break-neck speed, not the industry’s.

There shouldn’t be a ‘Fame Monster’. She was simply supposed to add some new tracks to ‘The Fame’ to breathe extra sales life into that debut album, forcing her biggest fans to invest again. But the ever-excessive Gaga came up with TOO MANY tracks. She came up with another album! As her fame grew so did her shows, not just in number, but in extravagance. Lady Gaga hasn’t deceived her fans (her monsters). She’s shown her gratitude and devotion to them all the way.

The whole controversy about ‘Born This Way’ – is it or is it not Madonna-like? – is almost laughable. This singer constantly shows herself to be more than a song. It’s a package. It’s an event. It’s an adventure. While the music industry moans and groans about its fortunes, manufactures and manipulates, losing its “love” for music, Gaga providing everything that’s missing. Excitement. Passion. Commitment.

And she sings and dances.

If music is a carnival, Britney is the old Ghost Train (I’m not scared any more), Gaga is the Plunge of Death. ( Aaaaghh!)

What I’m listening to:

The National (High Violet) – Just can’t get enough of this album. The drama, the poetry, the intelligence!

Julia Stone (Memory Machine) – Raw, honest, almost agonizing emotion on display.

(Please come back for more)


April 20, 2010

We do live in exciting times for music.

Everyone knows the current industry “model” isn’t working. No-one really knows the definite path forward. Lots of people are looking for their version of the path forward. We may hit on THE path. We may set off on a number of paths.

On one hand the major record companies are still blaming downloading for their woes while some artists see ready access to their music as a promotional tour for live performances and the sale of merchandise. To offset their losses the record companies want a share of the live revenue and merch, as well as the music. Some artists are forming their own record companies. Everyone’s busy taking care of their own interests, some for survival, some selfishly.

 When Madonna got into bed (not literally) with events company Live Nation she potentially sidelined the careers of future Madonnas. The way things “used” to work (in theory anyway) was that when a label landed a superstar like Madonna, that allowed them to invest in new talent. Madonna’s action took away that revenue stream from her connections.

I must admit, the “business” probably hasn’t operated that way for some time. Now when a label finds itself with a major artist the money seems to go into that artist – money begets more money. Every high profile video is potentially another artist’s album. Money spent demands more money to be earned. Tomorrow’s artists are left waiting on the doorstep.

Instead of waiting for their turn, they’re starting to take matters into their own hands. Perhaps they’re in the process of creating a new model and the major record companies will lose their control.

 The old A&R (Artist and Repertoire) function at the major record companies isn’t what it used to be. Independent labels are left to make the discoveries and take the risks. Then the major labels step in and offer their services to take those artists to the next level. What happens to the original risk-takers? Some of the major record companies in America have rewarded major artists by allowing THEM to discover, nurture and sign new artists. It becomes a case of who you know.

Conversely the Jack Whites of the world find themselves in a position to make the best of both worlds, major and indie. Jack’s formed his own label, Third Man Records, where he records his sideline acts like The Dead Weather, gives a chance to new artists (The Black Belles) and furthers the careers of a legend in Wanda Jackson. And he’s got White Stripes. Hopefully Jack’s Third Man activities are profitable, but in effect he’s doing what the major record companies used to do but don’t do any more, using success to invest in the careers of others.

The danger is that we lose a structure, a logical ladder artists climb. At the moment some of the rungs of that ladder are broken. Some go nowhere. We need to ensure that whoever starts the climb can go as high as they possibly can.

What’s been missing in all of this is the end product. We’ve been encouraged to consume music rather than “own” it. We download because CDs largely aren’t worth having. They just occupy space. Since the advent of the CD we’ve been given little to “treasure”. Physical releases are just carriers of music, not part of the experience.

Times have changed, and you can’t hold back the tide of time, but for a moment let me take you back to the experience that was The Beatles’ “Sgt.Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album.

 There were no singles. The title of the album was part of a concept which extended to the cover art. Inside the packaging were “cut-outs” to enable you to become part of the “Sgt.Pepper” band. The album opened with the song “Sgt.Pepper” and closed with “A Day In The Life”, which itself ended with that famous extended piano note .. and then as the needle ran off into the end groove some sound “junk” repeated over and over until you lifted the needle off.

Download that!

What I’m Listening to: The Tallest Man On Earth (The Wild Hunt), Celibate Rifles (Sideroxylon), The Killers (Hot Fuss)


April 16, 2010

Eminem’s timing is good.

We’ve yet to hear what’s in store for us when he releases his just-announced ‘Recovery’ album, but it’s bound to clash head-on with the friendly rap rethink the Black Eyed Peas’ success represents.

No matter what you think of Eminem he both popularized rap and revolutionized it. While his fellow rappers tended to romanticize, dramatize and glorify “street life” or boasted about what was hanging around their necks, bling and women, Eminem took his tracks somewhere we could actually relate to, sometimes uncomfortably violent, sometimes even tender and compassionate. There’s been a lot of fiction in his work as well, but there’s been the glimmers of real life, his own life. He’s been inventive, funny, confounding, compulsive.

It’s amazing when you think about it that this trailer trash white rapper has had such a profound impact on rap. He consistently leaves his black brothers in his wake as a recording artist and as a producer, and the next significant white rapper is … virtually non-existent. Eminem is, black or white, the biggest selling rap artist of all time.

We weren’t supposed to get ‘Recovery’. We’d been told to expect ‘Relapse 2’ a continuation of that earlier album most of which was created while Eminem was under treatment for sleeping pills. As he worked on he realized that the songs he was creating didn’t fit the ‘Relapse’ mood any more. That’s what makes Eminem relevant. He’s governed by what he’s feeling, not by what he wants us to think of him.

Will Enimen’s ‘Recovery’ be rap’s recovery as we knew it after the Black Eyed Peas intrusion, or has the scenery already been changed forever?

What I’m listening to: LCD Soundsystem (This Is Happening), Sonic Youth (Goo), Sly And The Family Stone (Stand)

Keith Richard : DEAD OR ALIVE?

April 14, 2010

Ronnie Wood is probably being more than a little mischievous with his revelation on his new Absolute Radio show, that Keith Richard has trouble remembering how to play ‘Paint It Black’.

What are we supposed to think – that Keith’s mind has gone the way of his looks? How could Keith possibly struggle with a song we have all known intimately for decades? Easy.

 Long ago I realized that a musician’s relationship with his/her music isn’t the same as ours. I was at a performance where a much loved singer and songwriter took “requests” from his audience. The show consisted of whatever songs his fans wanted to hear from him – and there were a number of occasions during that show when our hero had to be reminded and prompted about songs and lyrics that he’d forgotten, but the audience obviously hadn’t.

When we love a song, or in the good old days, loved an album, we the fan have listened to it over and over again, many many times. The creator of that music doesn’t do that. He’ll imagine that song, refine the idea to the point of recording it, and then maybe perform it live, at most a few hundreds of times compared to our thousands. The artist can also move on and never think about that song again. Or if they do play it, the creative musician will play that song differently every time in order to stay interested.

We might expect our musician heroes to be human jukeboxes. If they’re half way decent musicians that’s exactly what they can’t or won’t allow themselves to be. The minute they become robots on stage their careers may not be over but their creative relationship with music is definitely over. That musician will never write another song we’ll want to hear.

If Keith Richard can’t remember how to play ‘Paint It Black’, that just tells me he’s still thinking about the next song he’ll write, and not consumed by a song he wrote 40 years ago. We might be but he’s not. If the truth be known it’s Keith Richard who’s kept the Rolling Stones’ musical spirit alive all these years. Without him they might have become the Rolling Bones a long time ago.

What I’m listening to: MGMT (Congratulations), Stone Roses (Stone Roses), Cream (Disraeli Gears)

Powderfinger: THE DAY YOU LEFT

April 12, 2010

 Powderfinger, Australia’s most successful group of the last decade and a half, are ending their career the way they’ve conducted it throughout, with grace and dignity.

The announcement that the upcoming ‘Sunset’ tour will be their last is no bombshell. We’ve been expecting something like this for some time. There’s no controvercy, no bitterness, no recriminations. The same line-up has seen Powderfinger through its 20 years of life. Bernard Fanning’s solo album ‘Tea And Sympathy’ came with the band’s blessing, and despite its success Bernard happily returned to the band’s fold. We’re not seeing the end of Powderfinger because its outstanding lead singer is leaving.  When Powderfinger told us they were shutting shop because they’d achieved everything they could we can believe it.

They found a “sound” and once successful with it, Powderfinger did everything possible to keep themselves and us interested, experimenting at the edges without going off the rails.

Powderfinger leave after all that time, after all that success, without having become media identities, without really reaching superstar status. They didn’t become celebrities because of the kind of people they are – happy to the music do the “talking”, happy to establish personal lives at home in Brisbane  away from the hub-bub of big city life. Despite their sales they won’t be given legendary status, because Australian music  will never see the days of Cold Chisel or Midnight Oil or Hunters And Collectors again.

Powderfinger didn’t see “alternative” airplay from Triple J for a long time.  They were never particular favourites of commercial radio stations either. Despite the fact that they have sold around 2 million albums they only managed four top ten hits – nothing to do with the music. If anyone justified across the board airplay it was Powderfinger, but that doesn’t happen any more. As radio programmers carve up music into their demographic niches a lot of music you MIGHT hear falls through the cracks, and Australian music in Australia has been the main causality. Powderfinger prove it. Their sales status was never reflected justly by media support.

Internationally Powderfinger could never gain a toe hold, and again that’s no reflection of the band or its music. Australian music has a long history of its biggest acts “missing” out on global impact. Inxs were the exception. Men At work was a happy fluke. Midnight Oil was Midnight Oil. Jimmy Barnes, John Farnham, Skyhooks. Australian Crawl and even Silverchair, some of the biggest artists Australia has ever known  for one reason or another never found offshore audiences.  Or sought it.

 In today’s world we might wear the same baseball hats but we don’t listen to the same music. Music’s still a tribal experience. But increasingly less so. Powderfinger represents the end of an era. Australia may never have a band of its own with that measure of popularity again.

What I’m listening to: Eddy Current Suppression Ring (Rush To Relax) , Midnight Oil (10-1), The Drones (Havilah)

The Beatles: AND IN THE END

April 10, 2010

Forty years ago on this day Paul McCartney announced to the world that he was leaving the Beatles. It was an arrogant and audacious action on his part. McCartney was in fact the only member of the Beatles who hadn’t quit by April 1970.

Ringo Starr and George Harrison had both already left on different occasions – largely because of Paul McCartney – and been encouraged to stay. John Lennon was gone in spirit, his attention elsewhere. He’d long ago not bothered to work on any of George Harrison’s songs and probably would have just concentrated on his own Beatles’ contributions if it wasn’t for the intense creative competition between Lennon and McCartney which had driven the group throughout their career.

When McCartney was first invited to join Lennon’s Quarrymen group – John didn’t do it himself but royally had a mutual friend extend the invitation – Lennon made a mental note not to let McCartney take over. At that stage, in 1957, John Lennon was just making it up as he went. Paul McCartney however could sing like Little Richard, could play guitar properly and was writing his own songs. John Lennon knew Paul McCartney was going to be an asset.

As well as singing like Little Richard Paul McCartney also introduced Broadway songs like ‘A Taste Of Honey’ and ‘Till There Was You’ to the Beatles’ repertoire. He was always in danger of pushing the Beatles’ music in that direction. John Lennon recklessly rushed to see what new thing was around the corner. That difference was part of the Lennon-McCartney magic.

The Beatles started dying in 1967, when their manager Brian Epstein committed suicide. After a period of grieving the band met and decided not to replace him. They weould make career decisions themselves. They went to work on the “White” album, and the rot started to set in. Their next significant project was then something Paul McCartney dreamed up during a plane trip between America and England, ‘Magical Mystery Tour’. Paul McCartney was starting to assert himself over the group, in the studio telling Ringo and George how he wanted things to be done, sometimes even just sidelining them and playing their parts himself. That was then the backdrop to ‘Let It Be’ and ‘Abbey Road’, recorded in that order, but released the other way.

Complicating relationships even further was the recognition that they DID need business guidance. Paul wanted his Eastman in-laws’ legal firm to take care of things. Lennon in the same cavalier way he’d handed the ‘Let It Be’ tapes to Phil Spector to “fix”, talked Ringo and George into signing with Allen Klein. Oh-oh.

Paul McCartney didn’t just quit on this day. He didn’t just issue a statement. He hijacked the Beatles. His announcement came with the press release revealing the release of McCartney’s first solo album and came in the form of a Q&A where he was both the interviewer and the interviewee. After discussing the new album with himself McCartney came to the heart of the matter.

 Q: “Is this album a rest away from the Beatles or the start of a solo career?” PAUL: “Time will tell. Being a solo album means it’s ‘the start of a solo career…and not being done with the Beatles means it’s just a rest. So it’s both.”

 Q: “Is your break with the Beatles temporary or permanent, due to personal differences or musical ones?” PAUL: “Personal differences, business differences, musical differences, but most of all because I have a better time with my family. Temporary or permanent? I don’t really know.”

Q: “Do you foresee a time when Lennon-McCartney becomes an active songwriting partnership again?” PAUL: “No.”

The rest of the Beatles begged him to delay the release of his album, so it wouldn’t get in the way of ‘Let It Be’. They knew it would be the Beatles’ last official release and wanted to do it with dignity. They sent Ringo as emissary, but it did no good. As Paul had told us it was the end, although the legalities of it all took many years to resolve, and then, when the rights to the Beatles records came up for renewal McCartney negotiated a higher royalty for himself.

Now there are just two. John Lennon was assassinated. George Harrison died of lung cancer. Ever since, McCartney has done his best to channel to himself all the good will music fans still have for the Beatles. He wants us to believe that relations with him and the others were “friendly” in the end, but throughout the whole journey the “cute” Beatle has been too cute by half.

What I’m listening to: Slash (Slash) , the White Stripes (Elephant) , Morphine (Yes)


April 9, 2010

“Be childish. Be irresponsible. Be disrespectful. Be everything this society hates.”

Malcolm McLaren said and did many things in his colourful life. He put those words together long before we ever heard his name, as the manifesto for an unfinished film while he was still at college. He added another unspoken aspect to his mission statement. Get others to be childish, irresponsible, disrespectful, everything this society hates.”

Malcolm McLaren was a minipulator.  As the world attempts to eulogize this unique cultural provocateur in the wake of his death from cancer in New York what will emerge is a picture of a man who used people, media and the art for his own end, no matter what the consequence to others. McLaren is famous of course for creating and managing the Sex Pistols, punk icon but also the Great Rock’N’Roll Swindle. He swindled them and us, and walked away richer, still sane and able to get on with his life. The same can’t be said about others he encouraged to live by his manifesto. They weren’t as clever as McLaren. Clever he certainly was. He knew exactly what he was doing. The consequences for others were incidental.  They were collateral damage.

He lived by another creed, which he applied in his post-punk life – “Stealing things is a glorious occupation, particularly in the art world.

The era of sampling and mash-ups was made for Malcolm McLaren. He appropriated other musical cultures, interposed them and put his own name of the music he “created”. He was still at it just a couple of years ago when the former failed art student – by academic “society” standards of course – had his ‘Shallow 1-21’ shown at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The series of 21 segments consisted of just a few frames from obscure sex films slowed down and repeated to match the length of pieces of mashed-up music.

Malcolm McLaren didn’t play life according to anyone else’s rules. It’s up to those who knew him personally to judge him as a person. From our point of view, as outsiders, he ran riot, and when someone deliberately spoils  something we think we admire and forces us to reassess it, we actually turn out better for the trauma of the experience.

Heaven or hell, Malcolm McLaren will make himself a nuisance.

What I’m listening to: Black Francis (NonSTopErotik), The Dandy Warhols (Welcome To The Monkey House),  Jimi Hendrix Experience (Electric Ladyland)