Timglaset magazine #3



The third issue of Timglaset is out now so if you want to support independent small press publishing grab yourself one of only 100 copies from the site. Not that you should support anything for the sake of it...only if it's good...and this really is, featuring as it does a Q&A with Bengt Adlers, an interview with Mike McGear of Scaffold fame, fiction from Dolly Dolly, great collages and more. 


The Pop Group - The Boys Whose Head Exploded


The Pop Group 'exploded' in 1981 but I don't recall us all crying - you see, you don't miss your water 'til the well runs dry and it's been a long dry spell since Bristol's finest made records...35 years of what? Yeah, a lot's happened, but nothing like The Pop Group. Bemoaning this with an FB friend felt like so much 'old' men moaning about the good ol' days and how nothing better has come along, the way the baby boomers do about Hendrix, The Beatles or whoever...

...but we were smarter than them in our youth, weren't we? Probably not. Every generation claims it's own youthful one as 'the best', or at least something special. Naturally. So hang out the streamers, we're having a Punky Reggae street party to celebrate that old thing! Nostalgia...

...The Pop Group don't ask for or warrant nostalgia...too fiery, too brilliant in their blazing glory to justify middle-aged dismay through the increasing fog of age, surely. To do so is almost like admitting defeat. The idiots aren't winning, they won years ago...

...yet listening to The Boys Whose Head Exploded kickstarts the heart again, as if those of us who were there are like so many patients in an old folks home being given a shot of something to pep us up and the privilege of playing our music on the sound system...christ...

...the politics aside, if such a thing is possible, the spirit of The Pop Group is what should be carried in our hearts, the power to resist the pacification programme whilst control units are laid our geometrically, not in the streets, but throughout the media...

...we are all prostitutes, selling our ideals for security which, it turns out, is a myth, but one we strive for because the alternative in this society is the dole-drums...or perhaps, should you be so inclined, a commune in Wales...

...it's some feat to retain your power three decades on. If we struggle to do so personally, in musical form at least, The Pop Group have lost none of theirs. How come? By not fitting any one genre easily to start with. We love a genre; it's easily-recognised rules and boundaries, just as we love our homes, if we're lucky. None matched The Pop Group in terms of fusing Funk, Punk, Dub and skronky noise. Mark Stewart's vocals and the players backing him created that thing that only comes along once in your lifetime...

...screaming off the dancefloor, burning holes in the mixing desk, trashing even Punk ideals with shredded guitar strings and primal Funk screaming that rendered old three-chord wonders insignificant, the politics of rhythm, Molotov music from behind their private barricade...The Pop Group...alive and definitely kicking in '79, '80 and now...



ANTHOLOGY OF TURKISH EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC 1961-2014


For years we walked right past the Aspendos Bar & Grill on York Way 'til one day we'd just got back from a holiday, hungry and desperate for a quick nosh so we ventured inside this Turkish restaurant where, to our amazement, the Lamb shish was great - and cheap! So now we're converts and have convinced ourselves that we lead the way towards this place's increasing popularity by pioneering the idea that people who read Sartre and Ballard may also dine in what appears, superficially, to be where only the Sun-reading, obese, tracksuit-wearing proletariat eat - ha-ha! I swear, last week, that table of four would normally be seen in more fashionable local gastropubs...

...so this 'feast' of Turkish experimental music from Sub Rosa (tenuous connection? me? never!) - it's a whopper (missus) but overall the quality's good, ranging from '61 to '12, glitchy, ambient, noisy, you know the kind of thing. Oddly, chronology-wise, there's a big gap between  Bülent Arel's Postlude (1961) until   Ilhan Mimaroglu's Prelude No.17 (Istanbul Fog) (1996), then loads from the 2000s and 2010s. According to the sleeve notes, the early pioneers had few followers to take up the mantle. Their tracks do stand out to me as exceptional pieces, but 2/5BZ by Anadolog (1997) is one example of great things that were to come much later; a perfect blend of tradition and contemporary electronics. Batur Sönmez's Flash Mental Experiment No.23 (2012) is fine piece of noise, whereas Batuhan Bozkurt's Kun (2012) takes a more acousmatic soundscape route, as does Reverie Falls On All's Eta Carinae from the same year.

Typically (of me, anyway) it takes a while to really absorb a big comp but this anthology is proving very worthwhile.


Viva Independence! Electric Knife Record Shop



So the (digital) highways and byways sometimes lead us to something fantastic in the physical world, as they did for me the other day when I noticed a link to the Electric Knife shop on John Eden's Uncarved blog. Click. There's William Burroughs! Any place that chooses him as their icon must be good. It's on Fortress Road? How can such a shop exist in my area without me knowing? The shame! I get on my bike...

...as befits a shop selling avant-garde/noise/electronic music, it has no front on the street, just a door to a corridor leading to a back room. But instead of the musty, soiled hovel one might expect (and that wouldn't bother me) it's a clean, white, skylit room, giving the welcoming impression that you've been invited into someone's pad; someone with very good taste. Furthermore, the owner, Thanasis (a thoroughly decent chap too) even keeps some of his own book collection there, thus enhancing the feeling that you're in a mate's room...

...I flicked through the CDs after we'd had a chat...


...then the vinyl...


...I confess to not recognising the majority of what's on offer, but that's part of what makes this shop such a thrilling find for me...so much to discover. A lot of the albums were limited editions, many with lovingly-crafted sleeves. I had to resist buying some just for the artwork and packaging. Then there's the printed matter...


...I can't emphasise enough the importance of small shops like Electric Knife. As we discussed regarding places for people to play music (the shop has 'live' music events), London's decline into a haven for corporate bullshit and social cleansing has robbed it of small cheap venues. Just as art spaces and independent book shops are rarities, so too are shops like this. I doubt that there's another in London that specialises solely in this kind of music. The online store is here and if you're in town do visit the shop. 

Sun Ra - In Some Far Place


In-Some-Far-Place

More Sun Ra, look, more Sun Ra! In Rome, 1977, whilst 'the world' burned (Punk-fuelled), Rome stood to hear Mister-y tinkle the ivories. Funny (peculiar) set in that it's a trio, but being Ra, like few others you could hear at the time - the piano has been drinking, not Ra, to paraphrase Tom Waits. A joyously off-kilter rendition of I Cover The Waterfront, you know, a stride through the cosmos. Great to hear Love In Outer Space as a trio outing too - and the space organ/piano fusion of Space Is The Place. El Is A Sound Of Joy is a 22min trip, the kind only Ra could/did dare to deliver via synthesised vibrations sent through outer space to Saturn and back. To remind us that along with the Art Ensemble of Chicago he was all about 'great black music - ancient to the future', he plays St Louis Blues more or less 'straight'. If you find Earth boring, you know where to look for relief.

Digital Art / Inner Space

The Faint Heart, RTomens, 206

More art over here

*

I stayed in today, having been out to buy bread and apples. I thought about going out again, this time further afield, which would have involved being out for hours, then decided against it...

...whilst in I thought about being in and concluded it was a good thing, most of the time, although having stayed in for most of the day I don't know that it did me any good. Perhaps being in lead to thinking that in here, in the room, was just the outer shell of inner space, that place we all inhabit tangentially whilst being physically outside our heads...

...I wondered, 'Was that a Ballardian thought?', not being sure what 'Ballardian' is, exactly, other than perhaps airports and shopping centres as signifiers of ....something profound about the human condition...I told you I wasn't sure. Isn't Inner Space a New Wave sci-fi phenomenon representing the shift in emphasis away from interplanetary tales to the cosmos in our heads? I think so...

...these thoughts lead me to conclude that whilst it's not good to spend too much time indoors, in your head, it has definite benefits, such as the avoidance of people who, to be honest, can be very annoying...people such as the woman in the cafe this morning who insisted on announcing to the world, via her 'phone, the arrangements for looking after a dog, in considerable detail. But that aside, I thought about the endless possibilities of Inner Space, most of which are, like the stars of Outer Space, unexplored. I thought about how I thought and where the idea came from, the ones I get looking at pictures, which I use to make new pictures...

...yes I made some art although, as is the way with this particular activity, not all the ideas were good ones. But yet I reminded myself that I had created images which were mine even though they could not be called 'totally original'. The art book collection in this room constantly reminds me that there's nothing new under the sun in that department...

...I'm often told that I 'live in my head' too much but I find it difficult to be elsewhere. Country walks are fine, but I'm not one for regular exercise, unless cycling to Work counts (I tell myself it does). Since junior school days I've spent more time in my head than was good for me - 'What did the teacher just ask me? I've no idea.'...

...but enough of this. I'm now going to get inside someone else's head in the form of a book...

TTFN

A Year In The Country - The Quietened Village​


More 'Audiological Research & Pathways case studies' from A Year In The Country, encased in quality packaging, as ever....


...which would mean nothing if it was merely fancy dressing for shallow content, as is the case in much modern cottage industry output whether in sound or vision...welcome to the nice age...of sumptuous trivia... 


...as I've suggested before, probably with reference to previous creations by A Year In The Country, just when you think H**ntology really has run its course, something like this comes along. The success of the project is no doubt due to the dedication and thought that goes into it, rather than just playing with the notion of this spectre-filled isle as a fashionable subject. Not that The Quietened Village is all retro-Folky imaginary lost songs from The Wicker Man. Howlround's Flying Over A Glassed Wedge may be retrospective in it's Forbidden Planet mood, yet thanks to expert execution, is very much it's own menacing beast. Polypores's Playground Ritual is another highlight, with a title that suggests dark pre-pubescent activity whilst sounding like...yes, something akin to that, minus malicious intent and, dare I say, a harmonic, mysterious sort of bliss. A new track by Time Attendant is always welcome and Paul Snowdon doesn't disappoint with Day Blink. The cheapest CD version has sold out but the more luxurious box is still available or you can buy the download here.

Dies Juvenalis / Toilet Chant - BLACK SUN PRODUCTIONS

HG1603 Cover 10cm-300x300 in releasesHG1602 Cover 10cm-300x300 in releases

Two reissues on Hallow Ground by Pierce and Massimo aka Black Sun Productions, neither of which struck me as anything special at first but have grown in stature over the weeks. I really should pay more attention. That said, music sometimes has a way of worming its way into your consciousness if left alone, i.e., barely listened to at all. Dies Juvenalis (originally released as ltd. CD in 2007) only contains three tracks. This is good. More releases should only contain three tracks. I suppose they do; they're called 'EPs'. I told you I should pay more attention.

Right now the opener, Percettive Riflessioni, is distracting me, as music should, but perhaps not whilst trying to write about it. Repetition is the key here, of chopped vocals, tapping beat and subtly shifting keyboard drone, with strings introduced to ramp up the intensity. It makes no sense and I don't mind. Dies Juveniles begins with pipes, the kind you might hear should you venture into Burroughs' Interzone where, I suspect, Pierce and Massimo have spent some time. It's marimba (?) rhythm is pumped up by chants and drum, reminding me of the industrial jungle explored by many in this field but done here with considerable finesse, mainly because there's not a metal-grinder in sight. Veneration XXX manages to be both 'ambient' yet meaty and you know I'm not fan of Ambient yet this works.

Toilet Chant (from 2004) is generally more abrasive, though not through extensive application of noise, but more the unsettling cut-up sound and rhythm applied, to excellent effect on Anarcocks Rising, Anarcocks being another name they record under. They're a pair of anarchic cocks, I warn you. E2 = Tree 3 stands out, getting the grinding beat going with layers which include Jhonn Balance's vocals, urging the whole thing on - very good. It ends with Spermatic Cord, a 'trip', the effect of which is seductive and disturbing, just as Pierce and Massimo probably desired. More Anarcocks releases on Bandcamp.


Digital Art / The CD Revival / Beyonce vs Aretha /



Meet Me At The Morgue (detail) full picture here

***

Q: What's the point of blogging?
A: I dunno

***

The CD Revival....


                                                                            ...a friend came 'round the other day and we chatted about music buying, him saying he still preferred CDs, me thinking 'Ah, yes, a child of the 80s' whilst feeling all modern with my choice of MP3s. Then, as I was compiling my 10 Essential Jazz Albums, listening to Thelonious Monk on YouTube, fucking adverts came on after every track. Now, I could set about trying to download Monk but instead it struck me that I really should get more of him on CD. We know the sound's better. So I did; a cheap box set containing 9 albums. That's better. Although ideally I'd rather have the individual albums I think more of space-saving, these days. In Fopp the poster proudly proclaimed: 'Vinyl Is Killing MP3s' - well how about 'CDs Are Killing Vinyl'? I love vinyl, of course, but was reminded of its failings by a hi-fi buff at a party last year who said he was totally digital now. I'm not about to go on about that particular subject. Enough's been said. 

***

Q: What's the point of Beyonce?
A: I dunno



                                                                             ...she annoys me. Am I the only person on the planet to feel that way? The Guardian has been promoting her like she's the new Aretha Franklin-meets-Marvin Gaye circa What's Going On meets-Stevie Wonder...such genius! Bollocks. I watched some of a new video. She dances in it - you know - that sort of choreographed shit, but here I must bite my tongue instead of making derogatory comments about her 'ass' although...it seems to be a feature she's keen to promote. Mostly it's the posturing I can't stand...those faux 'street' gestures, the high gloss 'attitude'...and as loath as I am to come on like an fart enamoured only with old music, if you watch Aretha performing in her heyday...


...I rest my case. I only put the case because having heard a fair bit of music context is inescapable, history is inescapable, for those of us belonging to a certain generation. We can't help but make comparisons. Sometimes I even pity those young YouTube commentators who, regarding a classic piece of reggae, Funk, Punk or whatever, say things like 'Music's shit today, I wish I'd been around in those days'. I was. It's some consolation for the ageing process...

10 Essential Jazz Albums



Inspired (provoked) by this list here, I foolishly felt compelled to create my own. It is folly to attempt to offer a mere ten albums from a universe of music but there you go. I've seen too many stupid lists purporting to name 'essentials' which actually omit what anyone with an ounce of knowledge would include. Since I have at least five ounces worth of knowledge about Jazz, I present this lot...


Ornette Coleman - The Shape Of Jazz To Come  (1959)
Harmolodic neo-Bop, pre-Free masterpiece of unique strangeness guaranteed to mystify and mesmerise for many centuries to come. The shape of nothing other Ornette Coleman's 5-decade career in it's infancy.




Charlie Parker And Dizzy Gillespie ‎– Bird And Diz (1952)
Be-Bop, the hot, happening hipster soundtrack, complete with it's own language, as loved by beatniks and disapproved of by mouldy old figs; total revolution in hyper-Jazz dexterity, pranksterism in putting on the squares and atomic sonic reconfiguration of the Jazz template.




John Coltrane ‎– "Live" At The Village Vanguard (1962)
Spiritual messenger of Jazz from a higher place, here Coltrane transcends mere technical virtuosity to carry us through the time/space/harmonic/melodic continuum on a starship co-piloted by players equal to his talent on New York nights during which, it is said, the sounds could be heard by extraterrestrials, who were too stunned, vowing never to land on such an awe-inspiring planet for fear of being completely overwhelmed to the extent that that may forget their coordinates home. Fact.




Sun Ra And His Myth Science Arkestra ‎– Cosmic Tones For Mental Therapy (1967)
Coming from Saturn to enlighten earthlings, Sun Ra created a total uni(omini)verse of other-worldly music whilst embracing terrestrial Jazz forms in the process. Understanding the potential of Jazz is impossible without Sun Ra in your life. The real tragedy of humanity's eventual extinction is that Sun Ra's music will no longer exist on this planet but we can console ourselves by knowing that it will be Out There, somewhere.




Duke Ellington ‎– The Indispensable Duke Ellington Volumes 5/6
Pretending, as this list does, this is still the age of vinyl (not the revived version) picking Ellington from his classic first-half period must result a comp and any one will do the job, broadcasting into your life big band music so joyous and smart, so brilliantly arranged and played as to knock all other orchestras for six whilst inducing a big smile as your toes tap and gradually, over the years, your brain comprehends why he is regarded as a legend. 





Miles Davis - Bitches Brew (1970
Miles went electric, got a gold record and set the standard for Fusion which no-one has since matched, thus continuing his track record of creating genius music through the changes since Be-Bop, making him the pre-eminent player of the 20th century.




The Horace Silver Quintet ‎– Song For My Father (1965)
A Blue Note record par excellence, Silver always blows the blues away and this is the perfect place to enjoy mainstream modernism at its best.




Charles Mingus ‎– Blues & Roots (1960)
Baddest bass player on the planet, Mingus drew blood, sweat and tears from his bands, filling every groove with these substances which, as your needle ploughs through them, evoke the agony and ecstasy of life to such an extent that you can hardly believe your ears. Fact.




Thelonious Monk ‎– Genius Of Modern Music (1952)
Ostensibly categorised as 'Be-Bop', Monk's music actually came from the singular planet of his own unique mind from which came warped yet melodic tunes, like dreams from creatively advanced, incredibly hip children. 





Louis Armstrong And His Hot Seven – The Louis Armstrong Story, Volume II
Not originally an album artist, of course, too early for that and early, also, for pioneering 'the Jazz solo', Louis may appear dust-covered and 'uncool' to the untrained ear, but that doesn't belong to you, does it? No, not after hearing this whole list and realising the mind-boggling scope of this thing called 'Jazz', the total breadth of which I have not been able to cover but have attempted, in an objective yet personal fashion, to present in various forms, even ancient ones such as this, the genre known as 'Trad', which has become another word for 'old-fashioned' since the mod era, only to be properly appreciated almost a century later as the brilliant early expression of a suppressed race giving their often hostile white citizens one of their country's greatest art forms.



Jack Kerouac & All That Jazz (Writing)


Long-Player, RTomens, 2014


It's Jazz Appreciation Month, so I hope you've been dutifully appreciating it. Once May comes, you can stop. I wrote the a book on Jazz once. That makes me an expert, so you'd better listen. There are lots of books on Jazz written by experts but none of them are like mine. Perhaps no books are really like one another, so the authors hope. Otherwise, what's the point? In retrospect (and I may have even thought it at the time) my book is akin to a Jazz solo. In case you don't know, the point of those is to improvise, thus charting a course through territory for which you have no map and you're travelling very fast. Unless it's a ballad. Even so, quick unthinking is required and you're dependent on an ability to arrive somehow without getting lost. A bit like writing, only you have no opportunity to return and edit.

Much of my writing was unedited because I wanted to capture the 'sound' as I made it, rather than a cleaned-up version of that sound. The benefits are enormous, not least in the 'energy' transmitted. The downside is some people will think you're a little mad. And can't write 'properly'. People said Free Jazz players couldn't play properly, thus missing the point entirely. The point being total self-expression unfettered by musical rules. Jack Kerouac famously emulated Jazz musicians in his writing. As he wrote in Essentials Of Spontaneous Prose (1957): 'sketching language is undisturbed flow from the mind of personal secret idea-words, blowing (as per jazz musician) on subject of image.'

Kerouac is closely associated with the Be-Bop era, having been around in the mid-40s when it blew up, written those experiences into books and been inspired, prose-wise. What's probably less well-known is that by 1960, when Bop was over and had been replaced by Hard Bop, as personified by Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Kerouac saw the importance of the New Thing. In The Last Word column of December 1960 he wrote: 'I think the first breakthrough since Charlie Parker has been accomplished by Ornette Coleman and Donald Cherry with his little cornet and that it will lead the way, like Parker's way, into a whole new era of jazz.' With hindsight, that's shows a smart, forward-thinking appreciation of new developments as opposed to the more common reaction of outrage and disgust. Whilst history tells us Coleman went on to earn his place as a bona fide legend, it's easy to forget the hostility towards him coming from many quarters at the time. The other point is that whilst he was a key figure in the evolution of freer forms he remained a totally singular player throughout his whole career, as distinct as Thelonious Monk's piano-playing during the be-Bop era.

Jazz is still a mystery to many who think they might get into it, or should really try, so next I'll be posting my Essential Jazz Albums. Because I'm an expert.

Digital Art / Kane Ikin - Modern Pressure

The Big Smear, RTomens, 2016
More art over here

TYPE129_Cover

The Type label puts out some good stuff, like the Nochexx, Shapednoise and Basic Rhythm albums - here's another - we want good stuff, don't we? Trouble is, you know, it's hard to find, unless you're of a particularly generous spirit, or the kind which is easily pleased, in which case, 'good' is everywhere - like all those 'good' albums we come across which aren't actually that good, but we look at the comments and see that a lot of people say it's not just 'good', but 'stunning!', er, 'brilliant!' etc - and you realise that you have different ears to them, the kind for which yet another 4/4 Techno beat with token FX isn't really good enough - yes. Still, it takes all sorts to make the world a more simple place and they work hard at it, every day, supporting mediocrity because their simple ears tell them it's 'good'. Have you noticed? That's how we get superstars, you know. Of course you know. The world's full of 'em - half-talented, fully-ambitious go-getters grabbing people's money. 

Meanwhile, Kane Ikin is starving in his Melbourne bedsit, chewing on three-day-old crusts of bread, drinking sour milk and staring at his music equipment thinking 'I should sell it off - this can't go on!'. At least, according to FACT (so it must be true) he was 'forced to sell off equipment to make ends meet'. I've been there. Well, a similar place; starving on dole money whilst surrounded by albums, a lot of which I had to sell in the 80s. It was eat or listen to another Hank Mobley album on Blue Note - sorry Hank, no disrespect intended, but...

So here's Ikin's Hard Pressure for Type and I should say straight off that it's not a classic - but - remember when idiot journos used to bemoan the lack of brilliant electronic albums because although it was supposed to be 'happening' and 'progressive' and even 'hip' no-one had yet made a 'classic' album (I'm think the early 90s here, when the inky music press still existed) then Orbital were suddenly It - ooh, a proper album! Then they became Glastonbury stars and like The Chemical Brothers thrilled millions of part-time cheesy quavers, clean shirts and crusties...

...since then a lot of very good electronic albums have been made but no-one (except you and me) noticed (I may even have missed a few, yes) because the DIY atomic explosion ensured that everyone could do it to an extent which made Punk look corporate, what with all the available platforms and digital distribution the floodgates opened, drowning listeners and music-makers alike in an ocean of releases. 

Hard Pressure has been on my drive for a few weeks, not causing much trouble, sitting quietly, admittedly, hardly played until the other day when I woke it up - yes - it's interesting, this. Why? Partly because it doesn't quiet know where it's going or what it wants to be - ambient? Dark? Techno? Industrial ruffage? So it's all of them without fully committing to any, which should, really, make it a failure, yet it's far from that. The opener, Partial, is therefore appropriately titled. Its steady tempo, moody beat, gruff machine wheeze works very well, as does the bubble and hiss of Haze Shimmer, an atmosphere constantly interrupted by the suggestion of a sampled melody (or two) yet shrugging them off in favour of melancholic drift implying the fag end of a Summer's day when the stench of nearby dog shit ruined your picnic, you were stung by a wasp and the drugs didn't work. I know nothing about drug-taking, but...

Tap Tap Collapse nag, nag, nags at you with a persistent rising riff like the machine ascending only to be consumed by rhythm then decapitated with a circular saw and Smoke Hood gets the motorik thing just right; its autobahn groove a pure sound/vision of that night-time drive through Babylon (Tottenham) that we've all made, in our heads, at least. If Ikin felt hard pressure when making this, at least the resulting sounds proved worthwhile.





On The Corner In Kentish Town With Miles Davis


'Caution, back  end swings out when turning' says the sign on the back of the lorry carrying rolls of turf down Kentish Town high street whilst I sit drinking coffee - reminding me of the fact that Joe Tex's Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman) was a recent earworm - then it turns and damned if the end didn't swing right out whilst the cab passed a corner on which nobody was standing, unlike Corky McCoy's cartoon depiction of On The Corner types for Miles Davis's album - the gallery of stereo-types (hustler, whore, jive hipsters and liberated brother parody) - this ain't New York, this is London Ta-a-hn - still, I think of Miles Davis having listened to the BBC documentary about him gone electric...


...just because someone posted this photo on Facebook last night...


...MD with ELP - christ - who said he sold out? Keith Emerson having killed himself recently I won't speak ill of the dead - suffice to say ELP's music has never meant anything to me. Where was I? On The Corner. You know MD went electric and you know that some said it was a sell-out, right? Bitches Brew? Of course, any Jazz 'purist' would wrinkle their nose at someone electrifying their acoustic world but Davis didn't just plug it in, he wired it totally weird, creating a writhing amplified monster that crawled up the purists' collective backside and chewed them alive from the inside. Boys, if you must, in your self-appointed holiness, stick the Sell-Out-label in anyone try the smooth Fusion mob that came a few years later and tell Freddie Hubbard he should have still been doing what he was doing ten years ago instead of playing half the notes and earning ten times the amount of money.

The idea of MD wanting to somehow get in with the Rock crowd always amuses me - to think that his aim may have been that but his methods were anything but ingratiating. So Bitches Brew sold huge amounts - with what? Cheap easy R&B riffs and a Funk-by-numbers-back beat? Not exactly. Not at all. Turns out, as the witnesses in the BBC doc testify, most of what went on when MD entered electric crazyland was directionless, other than the occasional cryptic command from Him. Get the right heads together, free their asses and their fingers and lips will follow; none of which really explains how MD was able to get what he did out of John McLaughlin, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland and the rest. After all, get most musos to 'jam' and the results would be awful, your worst 'supergroup' nightmare blues riffing for an hour, perhaps (who shouted "Cream!"?).

Now Don Cheadle's biopic, Miles Ahead is about to open in UK cinemas he's doing the publicity rounds, turning up on The One Show the other week, of all places (well, they (the common herd) know Don from his Hollywood hits so he's actually less of a stranger to them than he is to me). Even so, I nearly choked on my dinner when they showed a clip of MD playing 'live' and electric - blimey! What went wrong there? Doesn't the producer know that this is prime time TV and thousands of families are gathered in front of the set wanting to be entertained (and, yes, informed of certain social problems) - not made to endure that noise! "Is that Jazz?" A bemused viewer asks herself. "Oh, it's not what I thought it was, then." Funnier still than my imaginary-but-surely-real-too scenario was co-host Matt Baker expressing surprise that the man depicted in Cheadle's film could be difficult yet play so beautifully...


...well, come on, you wouldn't expect Matt to be familiar with MD's total output, would you? 

So MD lands in UK living-rooms...also on the street, assuming there are film posters around. I know one was seen at a tube station. But what would a Jazz ignoramus make of that poster? Who's the black freak dressed like...what...I dunno. Perhaps DC's name will be enough to get some of them into the cinemas. I haven't seen it yet and don't hold up much hope for anything other than the novelty of seeing someone do a good impersonation of Him. That'll do. Then I want to see Forest Whitaker as Sun Ra...


Jazz Cliché Aspirational Wire Magazine Reading, My DJ Fame & Stewart Lee


Clutching the latest copy of The Wire I cross Kentish Town High St, head into The Renoir cafe - how bourgeois! - what? - no, it's not, but for three seconds I thought so - The Wire (sofistication) The Renoir (ooh, I say, how artistic!) - cappuccino! well, everyone drinks that nowadays....but not necessarily from The Renoir, which charges £2.60 for a small one, which is a bit steep but it is good and besides, the proletariat never use the place and I'm keen to distance myself from them, being aspirational to that extent if not in actual serious life matters such as a career or house-buying - I joke and have to make that clear in case you really think I mean it - but who knows? subconsciously, am I actually doing that? distancing myself from my class? no!

In my roll-neck sweater reading The Wire - 32 years ago that would have made for a stereotype - the Jazzy type - since The Wire used to feature typical Jazz material (as shown by the cover above) and that would make me a roll-necked-wearing-Jazz-loving-cafe-culture cliché - wouldn't it? perhaps I was, once. But The Wire evolved away from all that, thankfully (for their sales) and so did I - but not always with the latest Wire in the flat because I've had an on/off affair with it - on for the first 15 years, off for about ten (christ, how many years is that? am I really that old?), then on again until now - it's great that it's changed otherwise it'd be just another Jazz mag. Note, the cap 'J' is important in case you think of the slang term, 'jazz mag', for rude publications, although there is a woman on the cover of the latest copy - Marissa Nadler, who I've not heard of (looks inside), apparently she sings 'haunted songs' and funnily enough in one of the photos she does wear a somewhat 'come hither' look whilst laying on a sofa although perhaps that's my dirty-ol'-man imagination. I'm sure the (male) photographer didn't encourage her in a swinging David Bailey style to 'Come on, baby' whilst aiming his phallic lens at her - but there she is, on a sofa, looking....I suppose it's fine for a female songwriter to look like that, these days, even the 'alternative' type - very womanly, lipstick and - it's a feminist issue and I don't know what's right or wrong regarding that, nor am I qualified to say, being a man, last time I looked.


In the mid-90s we (Merry Prankster DJs) used to play events organised by The Wire so I saw Rob Young (current contributing editor) quite a lot - once he mimicked playing trumpet whilst I span a Miles Davis tune at The ICA - funny, the things you remember, isn't it? I played their night at the Spitz club in '97 on stage alongside Derek Bailey, which ended up in the '60 Concerts That Shook The World' (see cover above) and yes, regulars, I'm dining on that one until I go, sorry. I had to tell comedian legend Stewart Lee about it whilst we pissed at the 12 Bar Club Sleaford Mods gig - in the toilet, mind, we weren't that drunk - to impress him because DB is a favourite of his - I don't know how impressed he was but I told him how impressed I was that he answered questions on Bailey for Mastermind. Stewart Lee is the best comedian around bar none; the only one capable of using Miles Davis as an example of timing during a routine, convincingly, if you know about Jazz and if you don't, pointlessly, but that's one reason he's so good, not dumbing down for any potential dimwit in the audience, even an audience of Guardian readers, as he regularly jokes about. Funnily enough, in the last episode of his recent BBC2 series the theme was piss-related, thus reminding me of our meeting in the toilet.

I'm off now to read that Wire. So be good. 
TTFN

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