Thursday, January 15, 2009

Vincent Price
Master Of The Macabre

Hey now hey now now indeed, here’s something a little different. Fabled horrorteur and culltural connoisseur Mr Vince regales listeners with his imposing yet sensuous tones that tuck you in with their commanding timbre (when you put to bed the apparent influence he had on both Leonard ‘Rigsby in Rising Damp’ Rossiter and Kenneth Williams) resonating on airs of cultivated menace and impertinently impending drama. From the BBC’s Suspense radio series these three creepy adaptations (or four, if you include the advert for Kent cigarettes, back in the days when a well refined filter could cure all a chaps ills) include Poe’s The Pit And The Pendulum, each one perfect for twiddling toes in front of the fire of a bleak winter eve, twirling your moustaches under the influence of a tincture of laudanum (imagineth, I) with one hand, reclining resplendent in paisley smoking jacket in high-backed leather chair, while you fend off the wisps in the wind outside causing your female companion to near swoon states.
Stu Gibson
Bill Drummond

Infamous avant-schemer and celebrated pop-culture philosopher Drummond – he of band Big In Japan, Bunnymen / Teardrops management to chill-out initiator and dance-tent ringmaster with The KLF and writer of several tomes outlining his and his co-conspirators various endeavours (not least his books with a certain Mark Manning like Bad Wisdom and project of founding and recording as a variety of bands conjured up from their collective warped minds) - here unleashes his theory on the death of music, especially recorded music, as we know it. Following this theory he details his expeditions to instigate series’ of seventeen people recording sounds on a variety of themes instinctually and playing them once then deleting them. So far so Tate Modern think you? Not so, the very idea of stripping music down to it’s (theorized) ancient essentials stems from his art-school-punk grounding and along the nomadic travails undertaken in exploration we get entertained by Drummonds’ tales of his colourful music past, his own musings on music, it’s affects on him as played out against a backdrop of life’s lashings as he bristles at contemporary artists and popular music culture geared to stifling creativity and integrity, and you get a revealing, open glimpse into the ravenous mind that’s driven his projects so far. An endearing – even rants at obvious targets like Bono and Clapton are still entertaining - rambling account wherein he can’t completely abscond from his love of music, books, art and culture, however much he sticks the knife in and dissects to create and attempt to maintain manifestos aimed at essentially reinvigorating, and coming to terms with, the lapse of interest in the very things he was once so passionate about, that informed his whole life, and, you guess, that came easier perhaps. Without the love of the topic in hand though, this part-theory, part-memoir would just be an academic treatise as stagnant as that which he rails against. That it could never be. In a huge bright red hardcover, it’s a thing of beauty, as books, or such books, should be, mirroring, as surely Drummond would undoubtedly adore (!), his old charge Julian Cope’s lovingly presented books on ancient archaeology. Thrice equally, as Copey would say, he’s a forward-thinking motherfucker, and also as affable and self-effacing a narrator. A tome to savour for sure, dip into and take inspiration from.
Stu Gibson
Renegade – The Lives And Tales Of Mark E. Smith
Mark E. Smith with Austin Collings

‘Bargain booze is a particular favourite shop of mine. You can get some good offers there.’

Suitably, and more than welcomely, here’s another utterly essential read, this time from similarly scabrous leader of The Fall, or, well, The Fall itself, Smith. In typical MES style this isn’t a bitter and twisted ranting riposte casting his raptor-beak over past tribulations and the famously ever-revolving door of band members, but a series of well-informed, entertainingly and refreshingly opinionated missives that read like a less pretentious version of William Burroughs’ The Job. Well, so, ok, it wouldn’t be true to form if you couldn’t say not completely anyway. Amidst the aspic wit (‘Not like Brighton…I’d rather have Riley back in the band than live there’, ‘It’s all fine dressing in this anti-fashion style if you’re on the piss in Camden Town, but imagine doing business with a berk dressed like a vagrant…’) and dismissals (on playing local gigs – ‘there’s always some mad bird from Chorlton on E who you shagged twenty years ago who’s trying to come up to you with a knife’, on one of the many ex-members ‘the other daft cunt...’) are many instances of caustic honesty, not least in his own self-appraisals and bemused puzzlement at modern, or human peripherals from mobiles, class, love, students (surprisingly?), Americans and porn to his trade of music and writing. Never afraid to state his case, you name it, there’ll be a line or anecdote about it as he far outstretches any assumptions of him as a blazingly addled speed-guzzling, booze-bamboozled park-bench philosopher, his attitudes, occasional (however inferred) compassion and explanations to conducting, or contorting, his carnival and the stubborn, strident work ethic that’s carried him through a curmudgeonly, cantankerous career that’s so far outlived Lester Bangs. Few may come away with good words said about them though you get the impression he’d rather be kind if people lived up to his expectations and his resolutely bullshit-intolerant diet is to be applauded, an all too rare commodity in any way and walk of like not just the entertainment lark, ranking him in league with Lemmy, Keef and some strange bellicose incarnation of Morrissey. An engaging, revealing portrait of a too-easily caricatured but all too true character and enigma with an artful manner masking an acute intellect behind matter of fact pragmatic considerations learnt from life lessons that’ll keep this eloquently contrary raconteur of ticking for a long while yet. A delight in the bedeviled world of music books, do read.
Stu Gibson

Diary Of A Punk
Mike Hudson
'The only thing you learn from suffering is that you're capable of suffering.'

From it’s title resembling Ian Hunter’s monumental memoir Diary Of A Rock’n’Roll Star to it’s subheading Life And Death this is one essential dirt, despair and macabre-dripping diatribe from the Pagans leader, arguably Ohio’s greatest buncha miscreant true-life nihilist outsiders to dangle in the underworld. As those titles may suggest to you, this is one of those rather rare music books that should be scoured and sourced by more than simply the fans. Far more than the lid being lifted to reveal the stench that produced viciously desperate discourses like Dead End America, Nowhere To Run, Give Til It Hurts, When I Die, Street Where Nobody Lives and What’s This Shit Called Love? - that latter at least one of the leering, lurching all-time unacknowledged anthems - this details the descents and dirt-shooting alleys that lay ahead of many an ‘onest ‘erbert scrabbling about in the gutters of this industry, and frequently beneath those. This guy liaised, conversed, even coerced and drank, and drank, and…with the sorta rats that would consider the trenches too fucking posh. Culminating with the death of his brother and his lapse into advanced cirrhosis, perhaps leavened with his setting up of successful paper Niagara Falls Reporter after several years scribing, this is a stunning, scathing and honest account of the ever-duelling rock’n’roll rackets of raw rampage and rip-offs that will rattle yer brains, shake some action and maybe unsettle some readers outta their own sewers, all told in a street-savvy philosophical style, straight-up, starker and touching for it. Anyways, as he may have said hisselvis - read it in this book, maybe we’ll see it on TV in his lifetime. Stay well.
Stu Gibson
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