Archive for April, 2009
Lots of jersey swapping is sure to ensue as fairweather Irish fans of Ye Olde Englishe football change allegiance yet again. Mind you, they’re being asked to wear the blue of Ipswich Town now. How dare Roy Keane pick a team who don’t play in the red of Munsterpool United, or even a nice shade of one-shirt-suits-all green. Anyway, he’s clearly a “genius” (again) as his new side trounced Cardiff 3-0 at the weekend. Good start, and great to see that Keane has wasted no time in bringing in quality, experienced Irish talent to his new side too. Continue reading
Interview with Richard Curtis and Bill Nighy, Sunday Business Post, 19th April 2009
If there’s one line of dialogue that defines the message of The Boat That Rocked, Richard Curtis’s new film about pirate radio on the waves, it comes from the disc-jockey character played by Philip Seymour Hoffman:
‘‘These are the best days of our lives.” Writer and director Curtis may have made his name with hit romantic comedies Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Notting Hill, but for his latest film he has turned to the subject he describes as his ‘‘first love” – pop music.
‘‘I wanted people to stop for a second and think how gorgeous it is to have music to provide soundtracks to times of your life,” Curtis says, relaxing into an armchair in his Dublin hotel suite.
‘‘I can tie down the years of my life [to music] – the Dylan years, the Cohen years, the Joni Mitchell years, the David Bowie years, the Madness years. Pop music has never let me go.”
Curtis and The Boat that Rocked star Bill Nighy have come to Dublin as part of a busy media tour to publicise the film, which travels back through time to 1967 and an era when more than half of Britain would tune in to pirate radio stations – some of which were based on boats – to listen to tunes which the BBC considered too subversive to play.
As many as 25 million daily listeners – including a youthful Curtis – were influenced by those DJs. ‘‘Pirate radio was like a sweet shop,” Curtis says. ‘‘You’d switch it on and hear songs you’d never heard before. It was very exciting.
‘‘Think what it would it be like if there were only two films showing in every cinema across the country, and then you heard that somewhere else there were 50 more films you could watch – that’s what it was like discovering pirate radio.” Continue reading
For any Irish band, dipping their toe into the murky, uncharted waters of music criticism beyond these shores can be quite telling. No matter how an act styles itself, unless they have crafted their sound and image entirely within the confines of their own imaginations, they’re almost certainly going to sound derivative. Most Irish bands seem to look to America or the UK for their influences and then, very often, state that they want to go over to the US or UK to pursue their dreams of success. My question to them is, and always has been, “why?” Unless you already have an unbeatable, proven track record in sales (by which I mean, you’ve perhaps run a successful business which deals in sand, and have made a fortune in exports to the UAE), why on earth do you ever imagine that the US or the UK would want their own music sold back to them by Irish musicians? By constantly using these scenes as influences, Irish acts are already well behind when it comes to competing in a scene outside of our own.
It obviously depends on what goals any band sets itself (The Blizzards, for instance, have been quite happy to remain successful in their own country by wisely bringing their music to every corner of Ireland, almost to the exclusion of pursuing success elsewhere) but most are undone from the outset by their sheer unoriginality. Fight Like Apes are one of the few in recent years who’ve shown that self-styling can surprise and confound outside of Ireland – whether record sales catch up is another matter but that hardly seems to be the point.
I mention all this because I just came across a review of The Coronas’ Decision Time single by my former editor and colleague Ged McAlea over at my first reviewing home, London-based webzine SoundsXP.com. It makes for interesting reading: Continue reading
I know, Dear Reader, that I’m a persistent curmudgeon, but even reading online music reviews, as I do on a daily basis, gets me riled beyond accidental Emmerdale viewing. Today (well, like every other day since I started using the Internerd) there are two Titanic funnels’ worth of steam emerging from my ears over the dogged, moronic insistence of non-American music reviewers to use the word ‘sophomore’. In case you don’t know, this hugely unattractive word refers to a second-year student in a U.S. college. Due to American review outlets like Pitchfork, its use (before the word ‘album’) has now come to refer to an artist’s second long-player. Which is quite all right over there; I’m absolutely sure normal, everyday Americans pop the word into normal, everyday conversations. Quite patently, however, we do not. Continue reading
The second series of Ashes To Ashes began last Monday night on BBC1. It’s by no means as great as its predecessor, Life On Mars, but it’s a lot of fun nonetheless; Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister) is still the finest current comic creation on TV. Anyway, this isn’t a TV review, it’s about the clothes.
The 1980s is generally the most unfairly maligned decade of the 20th Century. Yes, people in the UK were living under the Thatcherite junta for the entirety of it, which was horrific, but, pop music-wise, it kicks the 1990s’ arse up and down the street and back again. Yet, what gets the most vicious criticism is ’80s fashion. (Or at least, that used to be the case – now, Top Shop looks like it had an accident and woke up in 1982.)
It was an extraordinarily colourful time, as any viewing of Top Of The Pops from that era will show you. Like any era’s fashion, the clothes had to be worn properly and with conviction in order to be carried off, the gentleman’s suit being no exception. And no one, but no one, in popular music can wear a suit like Bryan Ferry. Continue reading