Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Beatles

The Beatles remasters released recently have given me pause for thought on the way people born more than 30 decades ago (as I was) listened to music when growing up.

Until last week I'd never bought any Beatles records, apart from a single of A Day In the Life that I got in the 1980s, but having older siblings, radio and a life long absorbtion of pop culture I thought I knew the material pretty well. I didn't.

What I've realised is that most of the music I listened to as a youth was from what are now considered pretty poor sources - TV, AM radio, tinny dansettes and portable cassette players. My experience of Abbey Road, for example, was formed around a poor quality cassette taped by my brother-in-law that had probably lived in a hot car at some stage. It's only now that I'm realising how much you miss only hearing music in that way (but, I hasten to add, the nostalgic value of those sound sources also provide fond memories, I loved sitting on the front lawn as a kid listening to 'Can The Can' on my sister's portable mono tape recorder).

The other problem I have always had with The Beatles is overhearing their music. But, revisiting this material on better equipment, from better source material (the remastered CDs) I'm finding them to be far more interesting and experimental than I had thought (the drum patterns in "Something", for example, came as a surprise, and that's just one of many discoveries I've made) and their psychedelic material in particular I'm getting a lot out of.

Having not been much of a fan of the band some of the songs I also knew better, or only, through cover versions than the originals. 'Flying' from Sgt. Pepper's was closer to The Residents cover version than I had expected - I assumed they had warped it right out of shape, but the original is actually a bit Resident-y.

I'm pleased to make this discovery as I think I'm now seeing what others see in The Beatles, although, having said that, it's far from a blanket cheer for their music. I could happily never heard 'Let It Be' again, and the general fondness for a lot of their sing-songy, dare I say, a bit twee tracks still leaves me bewildered (Ob-La-Di, Yellow Submarine, All Together Now, and most of their early music holds less interest for me). I'm also quite sure I will always prefer Wings to The Beatles, but it's nice to find an avenue in to their work.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Eurovision 2009, First Semi-Final recap

Probably my favourite annual TV event, well, more than probably. Eurovision 2009 did not disappoint for the amazing and often trashy spectacle we know and love.

The intro piece to the 1st semi-final this year was a strange fairytale about magic flowers, horses, birds and dragons. All a bit Bjorky, but quite boring for the main part. The Russian entrants for the last kiddy Eurovision flew in on a giant rainbow bird. I would have liked it more if it had been more Sid & Marty Krofft, I mean, all the elements were there.

And then to the hosts... the EV hosts of recent years have almost invariably been a differing Euro version of Will & Grace seemingly on happy pills, but the Russians broke the tradition with a model and some TV bozo. Possibly the worst hosts ever, which is saying a lot. Thank goodness they changed them for the final, but more about that later.

On the plus-hosting side, Julia Zemiro and Sam Pang provided a great commentary for all three nights and made the loss of Terry Wogan just a little less painful (however, having said that I would have loved SBS to rescreen the finals with the Graham Norton finals commentary). There was a stage (in the finals I think) where Julia and Sam appeared in t-shirts that said (t-shirt 1) "Terry Wogan isn't doing it this year." and (t-shirt 2), "Yes, we miss him too." Funny, but they did a great job all round.

To the Acts in the First Semi-Final in order of appearance.

1 - Montenegro - Not a great start, lots of dirty dancing, glitter and a guy striking John Travolta Saturday Night Fever poses. See you in the finals? Alas not.

2 - Czech Republic - There were capes, which is always good, and a crazy moustache and brylcreem, but fell victim to the "wacky" curse of Eurovision (see last year's Irish puppet turkey DJ for further eveidence of this affliction).

3 - Belgium - It's Elvis Hiselvis! With '50s rock, hip swiveling and pink & red draggy back-up singers. No idea why this blast of pop craziness didn't make it through.

4 - Belarus - I just love saying that, Belarus. Anyway, another I assumed was a shoe-in by EV standards, but maybe the blonde windswept Bert Newton in a wig thing isn't in this year (a surprise to me). Song was like Ultravox in their stadium rock period and the girl in wind blown chiffon (lots of wind machines this year) with projections on her was one of the oddest EV sights.

5 - Sweden - 'Popera', as they kept saying which is a fair enough description. Lead by a tan-tastic diva snow queen with bedroom hair backed by 5 Karen Walkers (Will & Grace had to pop up somewhere) in suits and later with bewjeweled masks. Quite good.

6 - Armenia - Costumes! Amazing - look on line, I can't do them justice. A Turkish meets Aguilera sound and the evening's 1st key change! Hurrah!

7 - Andorra - A girl group in the Go-Go's tradition. Lead singer looked a bit like Geri Halliwell, or Varla Jean Merman or both. Chorus a bit of a bust though "I I I I I I I I I I I I" etc... The Spice Girls wouldn't have settled for that ladies.

8 - Switzerland - "Lovebugs" was the group name which was about the only good thing about it. Sounded like U2 with an indie-pop singer. Asking the audience to clap their hands. Bah, I mean, if you have to ask...

9 - Turkey - We're back in Shakira-land (did we ever leave? So many of these types of songs at EV in the last few years). More audience invitations for clapping, a little belly dancing, certain amount of yawning (from me). They did wear Turkish style cullotes which may be some sort of first.

10 - Irael - Two lead singers, one looked A LOT like Gretel Killeen (from Logies to EV?) but with a few genes from Paul Capsis, I know, scary, right. Like a fairytale witch with her own hair and make up people. There was lots of emotion and pleading, a little symbolic fingertip touching, but effectively one big wail.

11 - Bulgaria - Like a amateur theatre performing a play about Blakes 7. Lots of bosoms, more capes, big hair and stilt dancers (not just walkers, dancers!). Add to that flames, the ever-present wind machine, crazed wailing and a bit of male falsetto. Bonkers but fun.

12 - Iceland - Where have the mad Iceland entires of yesteryear gone? This was pretty, but bland (or the reverse) and all blue and ice and fog. I also spotted a Viola and there was another key change!

13 FYR Macedonia - Hair rock! Twins! Clap your hands audience and a key change you could set the clock by. Is it over yet?

14 - Romania - Faeries in shredded blue/green costumes. Tune was a but unmemorable. Made it to the finals though so someone must have remembered it, or had a thing for faeries.

15 - Finland - "Waldo's People". Finnish rap, fire stick juggling and a female chorus provided a good pop element. Waldo the rapper I could have done without. Liked the "People" though.

16 - Portugal - Gypsy styling and gorgeous staging with a candy coloured rainbow LSD carousel. Accordian, acoutic guitar, flute and long long hair ribbons. What's not to love?

17 - Malta - Ballad, snore... An unexpected bit of "girlfriend!" head wobbling mid-way through though and finished well with a little trumpet flourish, but overall, not for me.

18 - Bosnia / Herzogovina - I liked this, people with drums all in white American Civil War styled costumes. Lead singer a bit "True Blood" vampiric with crazy hair do (which was modified a little for the final - details, that's what you pay me for). Best bit was the frozen tableaux in the middle of the song. A lot of unexpected elements elevated this one.

Coming soon - Semi-Final #2...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Music: Gelg

What a great name. Gelg is a sort of made up band that provided the fine music used in the equally fine TV show Look Around You.

A spot on parody of British '70s educational shows made for schoolchildren, Look Around You hasn't seen much airplay in Australia (only on UKTV, briefly) and deserves a wider audience.

Back to Gelg - I love the music they made which has a great Library Music-ish quality about it, it captures the style so well.

You can download the tracks from the BBC website's Look Around You page, or grab them here in a convenient zip file, if you prefer.


PS: Look Around You creator Peter Serafinowicz is also on Twitter.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Song: Camino Del Sol

One of my favourites, if not my favourite, Antena song is a gorgeous electro-bossa track called Camino Del Sol (Way of the Sun). It's one of the smoothest pieces they ever recorded, with sparse atmospheric electronics. I've always wanted to learn the lyrics, but my French is poor and I could only work out small parts of it. Numerous Internet searches have proved futile, it seems to be the only thing NOT on the Internet, and I'd all but given up, until I had a chance Internet encounter with the singer herself, Isabelle Antena (nee Powaga).

I have a scan of the Camino Del Sol record on our Flickr page and I was contacted by Isabelle herself just to say thanks for the picture (which I must add here that this is like for some people being contacted by Cher, I was amazed and thrilled to hear from her). She told me her scan of the cover wasn't very good and she's been using the one I had . A few emails of gracious and heartfelt fandom from yours truly and I asked her if she would have the lyrics to Camino Del Sol handy, and they were kindly and radpidly provided, thus ending my long search for them.

As they don't seem to exist anywhere on the Internet I'm adding them here for anyone else who might be looking for them (very literal English translation in brackets - corrections welcome). Thanks Isabelle!

Camino del sol (Way of the Sun)
Camino del sol
Palm beach
Air florida

Station balnéaire (seaside resort)
Climat tropical (tropical climate)
décalage horaire (jetlag)
ambiance amicale (friendly)

Elle: cadre agréable, (Her: pleasant)
sauna , bains de vapeurs, (sauna, steam bath)
chambre confortable (comfortable room)
et TV couleurs (and colour TV)

Lui: Tennis, Bowling, (Him: Tennis, Bowling)
piscine olympique, (Olympic swimming pool)
jaguar au parking (the Jaguar terminal-?)
pour soirées typiques. (for typical evenings)

Soirée animée (Lively evening)
Et slows langoureux (and slow languorous)
Regards amoureux (regards lovers)
Jeux organisés (games held)

Matin difficile (Difficult morning)
Et vapeur d'alcool (andf steam alcohol)
Pour vacances tranquilles (for holiday)
Camino del sol (the way of the Sun)

Camino del sol
Palm beach
Air florida

Camino del sol
Palm beach
Air florida

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Music: Pinky & the Killers

The bowler-hatted pop sensation Pinky & The Killers from 60's Japan. So great and an inspiration to Pizzicato 5.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

My Favourite Record Covers: Mathematiques Modernes - Les Visiteurs Du Soir

A little-known French 80's electro duo that created a super alt-lounge style album that in 1981 was both contemporary, and somewhat ahead of its time. Co-produced, written and played by Claude Arto with lyrics and vocals provided by French actress, and the subject of the first ever Pierre et Gilles portrait, Edwige Braun-Belmore.

The cover shows the band in stoic profile with a collapsed Eiffel Tower in the background. The album would be hard to find now, but there are downloads floating around mon cher.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

My Favourite Records Covers: Nancy & Lee

Some suitably fine cover art for an iconic album. I always think they look like they are sitting on a motorcycle, or a Vespa, yes, a Vespa. Ah, Phaedra is thy name.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Design: Flensted Mobiles

What great things these are. Simple, modern mobiles designed in Denmark by Mr & Mrs. Flensted.
I bought "Expecting Fish":

And I've got a hankering for "Mr Bowlerman and Miss Charleston":

To view the full fun range their website is here

You can find them at designery shops (like AERO, Great Dane Furniture etc... in Melbourne and similar shops all over the globe I imagine.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Vocational Guidance

This is from the excellent (but now sadly gone) SPY magazine. I had a photocopy of this on my desk at work for years, I feel it helped others in a myriad of ways, what can I say, I'm a giver. Tips 6 & 7 are my favourites.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Food: Kernel-Fresh Nuts

What great packaging, and inside were hot cashews, almonds or whichever mix you preferred. The MYER nut counter is still around (it has moved from the ground floor up to the third), but they no longer use these cool bags.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Ice Cream: Royal Choc Fudge

These were delish and, as far as I know, only available around the Lorne area of Victoria, so I don;t get to have one very often. Last count - once... Great packaging though. I wish I had a wrapper of the Wink ice cream I used to enjoy when I was a kid.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Toys: John Sands Brochure

I found this brochure in a board game I bought a few years ago. It shows all the games in the John Sands line up at the time. Click on the images for a better look at the desirable array.