Saturday, 31 October 2009

Passenger Side (The Movie)

Any film that shares its title with a Wilco song is likely to grab my attention so it's unsurprising that my eyes were drawn towards Passenger Side when I saw it the London Film Festival programme. That it also promised a soundtrack featuring the Silver Jews, Smog and Dinosaur Jr only eased my decision to buy tickets.

It's great little low-key movie about two brothers in Los Angeles. You'll get a flavour of the film from the trailer below, and best of all, a glimpse of one of the funniest cameos I've ever seen - Greg Dulli playing a porno director.

Still, I suspect that what Carnival Saloon regulars will like most is the soundtrack. Here are some of my favourite songs from the film.

MP3: Silver Jews - Punks in the Beerlights

Buy: Tanglewood Numbers

MP3: Smog - Hit The Ground Running

Buy: Knock Knock

MP3: Camper Van Beethoven - Good Guys and Bad Guys

Buy: Camper Van Beethoven

MP3: Dinosaur Jr - Freak Scene

Buy: Bug

MP3: Evan Dando - Hard Drive

Buy: Baby I'm Bored

MP3: Wilco - Passenger Side


Related Links
Passenger Side - official site with director interview

Sunday, 25 October 2009

So, farewell then, The Broken Family Band

On Wednesday I saw the Broken Family Band's last ever London gig. One of my favourite bands, they're splitting up after eight years and seven records. According to their website, "We can't pin it on musical differences, we've just decided to quit while we're ahead" but you've got to figure it's frustrating when you think you're one of the best bands in the country and keep putting out records that rarely get airplay.

Joanne introduced to me to the BFB's first full-length album Cold Water Songs before we started going out and they are probably the only band I've followed from near inception to their demise. What initially drew me to them was their combination of twang and funny, very English lyrics and although they became less countryfied in recent years the snarky observational wit remained.

In the pub prior to this week's farewell at the Garage, Highbury Corner I tried to recall where else I'd seen them. The 12 Bar Club (support from Milk Kan), multiple Come Down and Meet The Folks appearances at the Fiddler's Elbow and Golden Lion (once upstaged by a very young Kitty, Daisy & Lewis), LSE student union (attendance apx 20, someone still yelled 'Robots'), the 100 Club, Koko, the Cambridge Folk Festival (hilarious duet with Emily Barker for them, altercation with some crusties for me), The Luminaire, Tricycle Theatre (all acoustic, nothing plugged in), The Water Rats...

They've always been a brilliant live act, enlivened by singer Steven Adams' dry wit and sarcastic/rude audience baiting. Wednesday was no different in this regard; a bloke called out "Devil in Disguise". Adams' retort went something along the lines of, "The song's called Devil in the Details you cunt. You motherfucker. It's because of people like you that we are splitting up." From most people that level of abuse would be unbearable; at a Broken Family Band gig I find it strangely endearing.

To mark them riding out into the sunset here's a track from each of their records plus one from their 2003 session for John Peel. If you are new to these you've really missed a wonderful band. Losers.

MP3: When We're Dry (feat. Mary Epworth) (2002)

Lots of recurring BFB themes here: booze, sadness, minor league self-loathing, awkward relationships.
Buy: The King Will Build a Disco

MP3: (I Don't Have the Time To) Mess Around (2003)

Worth hearing if only for the delightful lines, "There's a dog sleeping in my bed/If I tickle his balls/He Gives me sweet head".
Buy: Cold Water Songs

MP3: You Were A Nightmare (Peel Session)

Peel has a few technical problems before playing the track. Bear with him. The original is also on Cold Water Songs.
Buy: Cold Water Songs

MP3: The King Of Carrot Flowers Parts Two & Three (2004)

A cover of the Neutral Milk Hotel classic. See also my Rock'n'Roll Jesus post for another track from the record.
Buy: Jesus Songs

MP3: John Belushi (2005)

To my mind this one of the band's best songs.As you'll hear, it's not really about John Belushi.
Buy: Welcome Home, Loser

MP3: Alone In The Make-Out Room (feat. Piney Gir) (2006)

More bitterness expertly and humorously deployed.
Buy: Balls

MP3: Dancing On the 4th Floor (2007)

This is definitely not a country song. At Wednesday's gig guitarist Jay Williams asked the assembled who wished the band had stayed country. A lot of hands went up. Then Jay extended his middle finger in their direction.
Buy: Hello Love

MP3: Cinema vs. House (2009)

An eternal dilemma: "We could go to the cinema/But that's two hours without speaking/Or we could go walking the streets/Where there are kids who might try to fuck us up".
Buy: Please and Thank You

Buy Broken Family Band records at Amazon

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Bob Slayers

Amusing Reactions to Dylan's Christmas in the Heart

Having duly bought my copy of Christmas in the Heart on Monday I gave it one spin and now won't be listening to it again until December. I suspect Bob had an enjoyable afternoon recording the album and in a weird way I found it quite charming. Then again Dylan's whims and eccentricities are one of the reasons I love him so.

Here's a taster if you've not yet heard the record critics are calling "a challenging listen".

Rolling Stone's favourable review likened the album to "a Woodstock snowfall with the defiance of 1970's Self Portrait". This is the same magazine in which Greil Marcus began his assessment of Self Portrait with the killer opening, "What is this shit?" Not only have Rolling Stone broken ranks with much of the press by being kind towards Bob's fund-raising Christmas efforts but they are also valiantly trying a rehabilitate a 40-year-old Dylan album that was once deemed the "third worst rock and roll record of all time".*

BBC News go crazy for Dylan whether he's advertising lingerie or visiting the childhood home of an old friend so it's no surprise that the Today Programme got David Hepworth to opine about Christmas in the Heart on Wednesday morning.

The clip is brilliant for combining Bob's renditions of carols with more harmonious versions sung by King's College Choir. This, according to John Humphrys, led his producer to quip that Dylan "sounded like a drunk who had burst into King's College Chapel on Christmas Day".

I read in a Facebook comment that one review claimed Dylan "makes I'll Be Home For Christmas sound like a threat". An equally unimpressed commenter on the Word Magazine website wrote amusingly that "When he sings 'Do you hear what I hear?' I'm assuming he's asking the question in all innocence without having had the benefit at any time of a studio playback during the recording of the song".

But perhaps my favourite dismissal of the record is this one-star review on Amazon. Over to you Mr Bradley C Chambers: "This is horrendous. Bob sounds increasingly effeminate these days. Indeed one can almost imagine him singing these dirges wearing women's clothing and lipstick. I think perhaps he's trying to tell us something..."

Thankfully commuter rag Metro took a different slant with their coverage and printed a list of songs that "didn't make the CD". Some that made me chuckle: Sleigh Lady Sleigh, Stocking On Heaven's Door, I Want Yule, The Lonesome Death of Christmas Carol and Sleigh Train Coming.

If you've heard the album or come across any other good reactions to it please leave a comment below.

Buy Christmas in the Heart at Amazon

*In their book The Worst Rock and Roll Records of All Time Jimmy Guterman and Owen O'Donnell place Metal Machine Music and Having Fun With Elvis On Stage as the only albums worse than Self Portrait. "The breakup of the Beatles shortly before this album's release," they wrote, "signaled the end of the 60s; Self Portrait suggested the end of Bob Dylan."

Related Links
Christmas in the Heart - Bob's official site has more on the money being raised for Crisis and Feeding America
Expecting Rain - the best Dylan news source

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Tom Waits Film Festival

It's a great week to be a Tom Waits fan. On Monday we got a free preview of the Glitter & Doom live album and this Friday sees the release of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus which stars Tom as the Devil.

Waits has said he doesn't consider himself an actor, "I like doing it, but there's a difference between being an actor and doing some acting". That said he's appeared in more than two dozen films though it's also fair to say he's never strayed far from the eccentric persona he's created for himself.

One of my favourite Tom Waits cameos is in Robert Frank and Rudy Wurlitzer's Candy Mountain. Sadly no one's put any clips on YouTube but if you want to see our hero dressed in a remarkable pair of check trousers practicing golf shots do track down a copy.

Here are a few choice clips from the Waits 'acting' oeuvre that I did find on a quick trawl. Please post others you know of in the comments.

Down By Law (1986)
Jim Jarmusch is the director most associated with Waits and Down By Law is easily his meatiest role. There are quite a few songs from Rain Dogs on the soundtrack too. Waits can be heard as another DJ in Mystery Train too.

Coffee & Cigarettes (2003)
More Jarmusch. This sequence was filmed in 1993 but I had to wait a decade before I finally saw it. The most remarkable thing about the clip is that Iggy Pop is wearing a shirt.

The Fisher King (1991)
Tom plays to type as a homeless Vietnam veteran in Terry Gilliam's wonderful New York fable.

Short Cuts (1993)
One of my favourite Robert Altman films and probably Tom's best acting performance.

Cold Feet (1989)
An oddball but enjoyable comedy written by Tom McGuane (Rancho Deluxe, The Missouri Breaks). Tom plays a a hit man called Kenny in his most over-the-top acting performance. There's an even better clip of Waits in Cold Feet at iMDB.

Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

Did I just write that Cold Feet was Waits' most over-the-top performance? Whoops. It's this one, playing the Bedlam bug eater Renfield for his old pal Francis Ford Coppola.

Mystery Men (1999)
Barney Hoskyns' excellent Waits biog Lowside of the Road claims that Tim Burton actually made this deadbeat superhero comedy and that credited director 'Kinka Usher' is a psuedonym. As far as I know Usher is actually a well-regarded ads director. Anyway, in the film Tom plays Dr Heller, the genius who makes the hapless heroes' non-lethal weapons (the blame thrower is my favourite). This clip is an outtake (you'll have to go to YouTube to watch).

What are your favourite Tom Waits films? Have you seen Doctor Parnassus? Do leave a comment below.

Related Posts
Tom Waits 2.0 - Tom's new website and free MP3s

Buy Tom Waits Movies at Amazon

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Tom Waits 2.0

Yesterday saw the relaunch of The main draw is the availability of eight tracks from his forthcoming live album Glitter & Doom to download for free. After one listen my favourite is the spoken-word Circus, originally from Real Gone.

MP3: Tom Waits - Circus (live)

Buy Glitter & Doom at Amazon

The rest of the site is well worth exploring too and shows a fairly enlightened view when it comes to sharing copyrighted material. The songs section lists every lyric and you can listen to about 50 tracks in full spanning all of Waits' career.

I was surprised to see the majority of the increasingly rare Big Time concert movie clipped up in the video section but then realised that as well as 'official' videos like the Glitter & Doom trailer (below) the site is also pulling in stuff from YouTube that's clearly been ripped by fans.

The photos section is also generous. A wonderful selection of stills, like the one at the top of this post, by the likes of Anton Corbijn, can all be downloaded as large .jpegs. Of note to MP3 bloggers is the listing of Hype Machine in the site's links section alongside the two preeminent fansites The Eyeball Kid and The Tom Waits Library.

Finally, if you just want to while away your lunch hour the Wit & Wisdom section is an amusing compendium of such Waitsaian bon mots as "a gentleman is someone who can play the accordion, but doesn't".

With any luck I'll have another Tom Waits post here later in the week.

Related Posts
Tom Waits in Paris - my eyewitness account of the Glitter & Doom tour
Bob Dylan 2.0 - I got excited by the relaunch of Bob's site last year too

Related Links
Tom Waits - official site

Buy Tom Waits Goodies at Amazon

Saturday, 10 October 2009

The Strange Sounds of Peter Wyngarde

Peter Wyngarde
is best known as sexy 60s sleuth Jason King but his more intriguing contribution to popular culture is the brilliantly titled 1970 album When Sex Leers Its Inquisitive Head, re-released last month by RPM. My colleague Pete alerted me to this most bizarre record after Marc Riley played a track on his excellent 6 Music show.

The album couldn't be more removed from a typical TV spin-off. RCA gave the actor carte blanche to produce whatever he liked and the results are best described as "extreme lounge". Wyngarde was at the height of his fame and other labels courted him in an attempt to cash-in on Jason King's popularity. As he explains in the re-release's sleevenotes:
"EMI phoned me up and asked if I'd record an LP. I said, 'Of what?' They said. 'We've got a lot of Frank Sinatra songs you could sing'. They were wanting to sell Jason King, not me at all. First and foremost I can't sing... I said I'd like to do my own thing. They said, 'What about some Frankie Laine songs?' 'Are you raving mad?' I replied. 'Why should I be allowed to fuck them up?'"

With hindsight RCA may have regretted their leeway. It's unlikely they expected an LP that's most memorable song is called Rape (sample lyric - "I became very suspicious when I saw he wasn't wearing any underpants"). The label deleted the album within weeks of its initial release.

You can find Rape on YouTube where the comments range from "this is seriously freaky" to "makes Eminem look like James Blunt".

This selection is lyrically tamer if no less odd and sees Wyngarde commenting on the late 20th century culture wars.

MP3: Peter Wyngarde - Hippie and the Skinhead

Buy: When Sex Leers Its Inquisitive Head

Related Links
Peter Wyngarde - BBC artist page
Related Posts with Thumbnails



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