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The sons and the heirs

31 Jan 18 | Re: A hidden musical lineage | Link-U-Post

As I understand it, the hip hop and RnB A-listers of today (Beyonce, Drake, Kanye, Kendrick) work as follows: they get dozens of interesting producers from all over the world to send them beats, and then they get lyrics they’ve been working on (or sometimes maybe just their diary) and sing them over the top. This results in popular, acclaimed albums that share several features:

With that in mind, I’ve just been reading Johnny Marr’s autobiography, and it’s impossible not to notice that the hip hop and RnB A-listers of today work in just about the exact same way The Smiths used to. Morrissey didn’t have dozens of interesting producers from all over the world - he had Johnny Marr, who distilled the essence of dozens if not hundreds of musicians into his own original and multi-faceted style. But that apart, the method is the same: Johnny would bring the guitar part fully formed, then Morrissey would choose a page from his big book of lyric ideas and put the song on top of them. That’s why people hearing The Smiths for the first time tend to ask why that guy keeps singing the same three notes: while the song is credited music: Marr / lyrics: Morrissey, the melody goes along with the lyrics and not with the music; it isn’t written by the primary musician.

So it’s no surprise that the three bullet points above apply as much to The Smiths as they do to the hip hop and RnB A-listers of today. Since the music is made in basically the same way, it would be mildly surprising if they didn’t. Listen again to One Dance by Drake. It’s so easy to imagine Morrissey singing that song - the topline is so Smiths-like it’s unreal. Or imagine Drake singing Reel Around The Fountain. They are musical cousins.

In a world where the casual listener wouldn’t discern much Smiths influence, or much of any of the canonical bands, in the top 75 most weeks, it’s nice to have noticed that some of their spirit lives on, whether as a direct influence or not. The next question is, did anyone work that way before The Smiths? Did any previous band or artiste take busy, intricate backing tracks and plonk non-melodies over the top of them without much regard for their details? Or was that the key to The Smiths’ originality?

Posted by nbeauman at 20:56

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Aspects of Clef

19 Sep 17 | Re: One of my faves | Link-U-Post

Superb news this week for Wyclef Jean fans: Wyclef has released his first album in eight years, The Carnival III. And almost as good news for fans of this blog, since that release has inspired my first post in roughly the same amount of time.

The bad news is that I’ve listened to the album and, sad to say, this is the first album of his that isn’t doing it for me*. Even the deliberately niche Welcome to Haiti had a fair bit in it to delight me (through novelty, wanton absurdity or occasionally, good songs), but this Carnival III just doesn’t seem to be the Wyclef I know. As foreboded by the April Showers mixtape a few years ago, Clef seems to have settled into a kind of elder statesman idiom that’s become his default sound: drum machine, guitar, mournfully sung meandering half-tunes, a lot of soul but not much pop, snap or crackle. That doesn’t account for all of the album, but even the collaborations and genre-hops seem to lack the spark that I would expect. Sad!

So rather than dwell on exactly what I don’t like about this new one, I thought I’d chat about some of the things that made me such a fan in the first place. Here, and without recourse to the hits because I don’t need them, is my guide to the many aspects of Clef. Spotify playlist embedded at the bottom.

*STOP PRESS! I've just discovered that this is Wyclef's first album without his longtime co-producer Jerry Duplessis. Mystery solved. We miss you Jerry!

Posted by COLONEL BLUCHER at 21:46

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UKIP: a modern triumph

11 Jun 17 | Re: Political success story | Link-U-Post

All political careers are supposed to end in failure (a plainly inaccurate maxim that I assume was created to try and keep Churchill’s lustre going in the Attlee era) and UKIP’s seems to be no exception. They’ve struggled to make any new headway since the Brexit vote went their way, and now lost almost all of their council seats, their one MP, practically all of their votes, and their latest leader. I don’t suppose the poor old kippers will go on much longer.

This is a shame, since from another point of view UKIP has been an incredible political success. Formed initially to keep Britain out of the Euro, they achieved that objective convincingly. They then set about campaigning for a referendum on EU membership, which they also achieved, and went on to help deliver the vote they wanted in defiance of received opinion. Along the way they enjoyed unprecedented electoral success for a completely new UK party in the modern era, winning a ton of council seats, MSPs and even one MP for a bit. The First Past The Post system stacks the deck so heavily against new parties that only a brave few ever try to set one up, most gaining no traction at all. The only real comparison is the Green Party, which has gradually built up a lot of support and has one MP, returned with an increased majority this week, but it’s taken the Greens a much longer time to get into a position broadly comparable to the one UKIP got to in, what, a decade or thereabouts.

Clearly, what UKIP should have done was hold a huge disbandment party the day after their Brexit victory, in a brewery, then announce that since their objectives had all been achieved, their elected representatives would serve out current terms before stepping down or aligning themselves with whichever other party they preferred. They would have been an almost flawless historic success story that students of politics would pore over for decades to come in understanding how a small, more or less single issue party can beat the odds in our skewed system. Future politics students should ignore the ignominious end and study the pre-Nuttall era with some reverence, since it seems wrong to write off all the successes just because a rump of loons failed to notice their slide into redundancy.

I’d like to see more organisations declare success and disband. Political parties, charities, companies: many are set up to do one main thing, some presumably manage to do it, yet few see that (or anything else) as a signal to go home. Instead they look for new causes, or widen their remit, or pivot into something completely different, maybe even at odds with the original organisation. The only entity I can think of right now who didn’t do this is God, who created, saw that it was good, and then rested. Why couldn’t UKIP be more like God?

Posted by GENERAL WOUNDWORT at 15:24

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Back... Further back...

...an upsetting of the natural order

...Launch fearlessly into analogies ...twins in the bin ...INTENSO MODE ...mad stuntwoman ...move-busting, rotund scholastics ...fourth's the golden eagle ...a list of tired cliches that it will not resort to in any circumstances ...You bet your asthma inhaler ...offend the wizards of Liechtenstein ...absurdly jazztastic and showy ...Your name is Alan Carstairs ...You may feel a little... tingling ...valiant strugglers against the tide of charisma ...we seem to be in some kind of golden age.

Thank you so much to ticket touts everywhere ... Goonrock I find most beguiling ... pole-greasing careerists ... assent past the point of absurdity ... sly one slips from the shadows ... she mutated into something even bigger ... Top Media Geek ... laugh with delight, long and loud ... all the big beat fun stuff.


... only alluded to cryptically via a crossword clue ... he beetled off ... panegyric hosedown ... looking to plagiarise a harvest acrostic.


... hapless Buttons-type character ... fictional Radiohead-appreciator ... The last proper one must be Edward I ... a fortress built out of the blood of thousands of slaughtered bulls ... drummers shivering in vests ... Back to the drawing board, chart-watchers!

... he conveniently says the word fridge about fifty times ... a slight hoarseness or croakiness ... a sepia tide ... he could nearly have scooped Miguel de Cervantes.

Sandal sales boom. Razor sales plummet.

... messing up the next edition of the Guinness Book of Hit Singles ... a carboard signpost pointing the way down Plot Street ... eat old peanuts out of the sofa ... the Funky Giraffe baby product range ... All objections are cant ... jacket-wearing nonsense ... just enough mud sticking ... the arch-users of that particular fiddle ... slack-jawed cogitation ... a full-body frown that exerts every single muscle ... far too much of the intricate robot gubbins.

In Jessie J terms ... obvious Brontë fan Shaun Ryder ... anthem-type music as a Trojan horse ... cutesy hip-hop moves ... Now That’s What I Call Wigging Out.

... characteristically nasal delivery ... too much democracy ... all-killer-no-filler dancefloor bangers ... a grimly eccentric minority ... West End-style camped up non-rock ... a ripping winner’s single ... a lovely lullaby.

... brattish charisma fountain ... Cowardy Custard ... a kind of Platonic Jagger.

Galahad Roger Potter ... to her surprise Aslan appears ... a pink smartphone on a Saturday night ... a thousand eloquent turns of phrase ... someone will invent a great big battery ... the land of tooth obsession ... the virtue of knaves ... an ideal snack for a train journey ... a vaguely arty, continental bloke?

... referrative case ... shaped like Rigel ... poetic pressure ... awful, awful blog posts ... Democratic utopia!

... waxy-surfaced nick-nack ... tip-top, AV-elected representatives folky bits ... Garbage (if you count them) ... poor, poor Lib Dems ... that same train-window feel ... crud scraping ... world wig-out shortage ... brainless fawning over royalistic trivia ... twice as hard next time ... good material for sit-com sex.

No C-word this week, C-word fans!

A great new approach to dinner drinking ... scratchy breakdown bit ... beacon of oratorial skill ... Why, John Power? Why? ... little clumps of fact ... musical alchemists ... a little patch of bad skin on one hand ... feedback squealing vaguely ... the most rational human alive ... you may be exactly the same as me.

... Pshaaaaw! to all of that ... fascinating mechanical clock ... digestives in the shape of a loaf of bread ... endless popgun barrage of short-sentence trivia ... What do we all think about that, eh?

Michael Parkinson ... A train of thought that started with tea ... carrots ... the most generous funny man in double act history ... joining in the great haiku-writing tradition ... long, orange vegetable ... Jay-Z agrees ... unanimous nominee ... distinctive brand of slow service.

... hot buttered soul ... political blancmange ... the ideal is just a little shuffle of the shoulders.

York and Lancaster ... spoiling the line of my trousers ... doughty journeyman ... bop about in one of his fine jackets ... almost worth watching ... Joan of Arc’s canonisation ... recommending expensive food and clothes ... What a silly magazine Q is.

How barbarous ... extra-biblical tradition ... unwitting TV Burp fans ... spend whatever time remains bopping about and grinning ... one-sided Moebius rectangle ... don’t go looking in the Gospels.

But a radical sees a little further ... cute little pickaxe ... a meter not normally assigned to any word in the English language ... an ingenious way to reward superfans ... Not Echobelly ... the company directors probably kept most of the saving ... the smallest Mr Man ... a Lepidus fan who just wants to talk Lepidus.

... answer floats in the ether ... you can boil or steam some specially beforehand ... the Toronto Hobbits.

... distinctly pedestrian raps ... Look on my works and despair! ... Stevland “Stevie” Wonder ... flim-flam and dross ... cooing, benevolent soft-soaper ... metaphor, onomatopoeia, synecdoche, hypallage ... inexplicable pop-up rapper ... cherish loveliness ... named after a moon goddess or whatever ... a birthday on the 39th ... like a heart-shaped coffee spoon ... Victoria Hesketh ... three poorly-dressed blokes ... the Roman geezer ... Maddening cereal design ... a bit of low-level recognition ... the elusive sharp end of Lawro’s wit ... exactly what Marvel Comics need.

Jiminy Jillickers!

... special occasions are going to involve speeches ... “just a fan in a suit” ... commentary box hate figure ... magisterial preface ... the notoriously rigorous UEFA coaching badge ... whoever else she is ... match the style of the master ... another milestone in gender equality ... football-haters, block-heads and innumerates ... fount of bons mots ... exposure to Nick Grimshaw ... good old David James ... slightly surprised ... reasons for messing everything up ... he’s making it up as he goes along.

Prancing about like a nincompoop in the town centre ... music on a razor’s edge ... sausage-fingered musical regressionists ... still preoccupied with 1985 ... jolly, benign busybodies ... my zero followers ... Looks pretty though.

Hardly Hard-Fi territory, I think you’ll agree ... kazoo-and-saucepan bands ... mooching buddy ... Mrs Tolkien put her foot down ... only ever really existed on Planet Bushell ... actually quite a nice sign ... cavorting more than a sportsman strictly ought ... made the mistake of copying Shed Seven instead.

... going from door to door trying all the handles ... ignominious foundering collapse ... There is a lot of religion in it ... answer to that: play better ... He also says that he is dapper ... tour de force of restrained longing ... the word ‘ghastly’ might be involved at some point.

... an idealised dancefloor where the stars have aligned ... unfussy, mathematically minded nation ... the triumph of wide-eyed teenage promise ... fail ... my most up-to-date thoughts ... A-list wigsbies ... a picturesque fragility ... doesn’t always show the expected level of respect ... no sooner buy a CD single than a penny-farthing ... pure dance gold ... instead of onions I substituted eggs ... better without the sides ... I wonder if the Bahranians are watching.

... it just stretches out and fades away ... you don’t actually write all the questions out ... pictures of gurning old women ... a twinkling miscellany of other incidentalia ... especially the boiling cauldron bit ... stripily garish woollen socks ... Santa-suited disco dancers ... in aching anticipation ... the admirable Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero ... come on, audio people ... rather takes the edge off the feminist intent ... Britain has never won it ... despotic or bonkers or charismatic ... nostalgia, only for another place ... brain-exerciser ... shovelling junk mail into landfill sites ... got the idea from the prog band ASIA ... that woman out of Madison Avenue ... this panegyric isn’t post-gig euphoria.

I believe the G usually stands for God ... Wrestling fans should have had no problem ... the ‘have mercy’ element can get missed ... a sign made of a grimy blue tarpaulin ... an air of real gravitas ... a nice new dodgy flat in Bristol ... warm and welcoming ... Oirish no-hopers ... lucky country ... as stretched-out as Peter Crouch ... question rate ... the millions of Mills’s minions ... You have to admire the guy.

... What does it mean for God to rest? ... bling bling baby ... gunged up with big hits ... 0.1% of the prize money ... draw back the cloak of invisibility ... oily megalopolis ... zenarchistic pop pragmatists ... legalise at least some drugs ... urchin and Becker fans.

Blast, you've spotted me.

... you STILL get equal boys and girls ... Score one for the Chinese government I suppose ... moan about something that is bound to happen ... Lando is the right answer ... shake their fists at the monitor ... a strange land of mountains, horsemen and tour cyclists ... goats on tightropes ... in the style of Digitiser ... plenty of water in the southern hemisphere, sure ... create your own ... an accordion player called Corn Mo ... a point for drummer ... Sweden and everywhere else ... a bit like the wooden spoon ... O-trivia Newton John ... it would one day be misused by the chief executive of the Independent Schools Council ... out of the bank.

... may not actually have a surname at all ... crew of gangster midgets ... the heirs of the mighty conqueror ... woolly turtleneck ... directional trend-setting demigods ... seven in almost 1000 years ... run-of-the-mill internet raving ... must be time for a second ... pleasantly rounded, like a genial uncle ... only writing LOL if you actually laugh out loud ... replace hat, arrange hair, check hat, take towel ... a facsimile of knowledge ... impossibly dramatic and thrilling ... cool eh? ... you know, for fun ... doesn’t actually answer or even appear to understand even one of the questions ... First post done.

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