Thursday, October 29, 2009

Go Katz - Not Fair
Raucous

(Adopt Mike Read / Casey Kasem tones for this opening bit). Aaaaaaaannnddddd here we have us a-whoooshing up the unofficial Top something or other chart of Billy-bent renditions of regular chart hits, this malevolent makeover of mellifluous pop fluff Lily Allen's recent Top 40 tap Not Fair, from label boss Howard and cohorts. You might think it something of a novelty but if so then be surprised how often it works perfectly. Like here the right tune can herald pleasant turn of events when bossed and booted about in a stripped down bop pill fashion. P'raps young Lily should take heed, eh? Maybe a duet could be on the horizon. If you're a-wondrin' if the world needs another flick over the old Sun cherub Domino then the answer is a menacingly growled yeesssss. As is the blast through The Green Door, another fifties classic respawned in The Cramps garage (like Domino, sadly not Lily Allen) that will largely be ever-linked with Shakin' Stevens. This second EP from the recently reappeared Katz rounds off with a similarly grit-chomping rib-tickling trot through Matchbox's Gunning For The Dog. And, yupahoo, it sounds off like it's got a pair. They may be doing it for a bash, just cos they can but some of their own stuff would be innarestin'.
Stu Gibson
I'm Dying Up Here - Heartbreak And High Times In Standup Comedy's Golden Era
William Knoedelseder
Public Affairs

Coming from the novice reporter who documented the unfolding developments at their early seventies inception, when the stand-up profession rose quite considerably in stature and allure, from niche underdogs to the new rock'n'roll, leading to the still colossal multi-media dominion of several characters here, this fairly brief but compelling account of the rise of long-standing, or sitting in some cases, household names like Letterman, Leno and, erm, Williams has elements of a morality play and farce as well as sombre asides from life's less starry side of the galaxy. No National Enquirer et al type tawdry trek through participants lifestyle litterbins for this keeps a respectful distance while allowing the story to unfold accordingly as our heroes arrive at the West Coast, collectively make venues like The Comedy Store and the Improv into the hottest tickets in Hollywood wherein the dream descends into disarray. The first half or so outlines the varying degrees of success that the largely male throng attained, outlining characters and comic styles, relationships and driving forces, before stomping in allowing no time for an interval comes the second half and the late seventies battle with Comedy Store owner Mitzi Shore over her colossal earnings compared to the comics absolute zero. Shore used the argument of it being a showcase venue, thus weeding out those not good enough to step up to the next level and get paying gigs on the road or in Vegas as well as it bei ng her that started them all out. The coalition that formed to strike to ensure pay, especially for their junior comrades argued that it's the performer that brings the audience to the club. This tale and the debatable rights and wrongs will be familiar to many here, what with venues pulling similar and much worse for the higher money market of music but there's also the human element here of a group of friends or like-minded people in common cause being split, nay, rent, asunder by the encroaching spectre of fame and wealth that they all aspired to, with the possible attendant rampant egotism. In tragic Steve Lubetkin there's also the spectre that overshadows much in the field of striving for that break amidst the knock-backs, bad luck vs bad decisions and the age old hand of fate. A concise, effectively constructed and thought provoking look at a little heralded but ultimately important series of events in entertainment history, and one, thankfully, that doesn't attempt to jump in with a few jokes in keeping with its subject matter.
Stu Gibson
A Day In The Life - One Family, The Beautiful People & The End Of The Sixties
Robert Greenfield
Da Capo

For such a tabloid titillating title, this, perhaps expectedly by it's brawny boasts, is an incredibly slight tale from behind the scenes, tethered to the subject's eventual acquaintance with The Stones around their Exile period. The author was in attendance at Keef's famously dissolute garden of delights and despair on the French coast in summer 1972 and regaled us with that in his Exile On Main St : A Season In Hell With The Rolling Stones book. This present trawl through the vapid wreckage of the ultra-privileged and proudly pointless appears to be summoned from a scrap of paper in an old forgotten chest-of-drawers, the last exhausted detail from notes and memory. Centred on the supposed star-crossed love of aristocratic heirs Tommy Weber and Susan 'Puss' Coriat (Puss, as in cat who got the cream) it starts by outlining the complex, but ultimately irrelevant, ancestry of the two ill-fated centre-stagers, in tedious though obviously much-enthralled manner (Weber's grandfather - 'A fabulous character of the first order' gushes Greenfield - mangles one of his 'four extraordinarily expensive' motors with a pesky lamppost only to angrily harumph that there shouldn't have been a lamppost there anyway. How dare they, the impertinent plebs) then narrates the schooling, growing up in rural English pastures with names like Chilton Foliat, and society soirees and engagements of the two til they meet, attempt domesticity (even the note about his sitting on the shitter dictating to his family doesn't come across as the quaint eccentricity surely intended), split up, go off the rails - one eventually favouring suicide following unfortunate doses of acid self-psychiatry, the other - Weber - who the author is clearly in several thousand throes of hero worship to, regarding him as a rulebreaker, risktaker, iconoclast and individual, as though he's an equal to a Keith of the Richards or Floyd genus - descending into unsavoury smack habits (one interesting anecdotal snippet is his on needle-nodding terms friendship with Spacemen 3 in Rugby!!) including taping a rather large amount of coke onto his seven year old son (oh, the Medium actor Jake Weber) to smuggle through customs and largely living in the garbage bags of his fall from grace as a fair number of those 'remarkable' families do, the remarkableness of being born into wealth and indulgence dissipating their spirit as much as that of a council estate crack-slag with seven starving kids and as many pipes to feed or a life-long labourer with a paltry, if any, pension. The text is also irritatingly littered with incidents or people being 'like from' followed by some classic literary reference, presumably to emphasise the author's rapturous theory that this is a story befitting Greek mythology, Romeo And Juliet, Waugh, Fitzgerald or some Victorian tragedy. There's nothing new or interesting about the sections when Weber hung out with The Stones, the account of the 'young policeman' who found Puss being in tearful hysterics at the death of the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen is just pitiful and it is really very difficult to elicit even the scarcest shred of sympathy for these spoilt aristocrats.
As far as tomes with links to The Stones go, this is probably below Spanish Tony Sanchez' I Was Keith Richards' Drug Dealer. 'A Rock'n'Roll Tender Is The Night' stated his sometime employers at Rolling Stone. A slender is the reason to write say the non-enjoyers. Diasppointing, to say the least.
Stu Gibson
Brian Olive - Brian Olive
Alive Naturalsound

As Oliver Henry in The Soledad Brothers, Olive variously squatted at and straddled the Southern rock stomp Stax-sealed with a Stonesy swagger n' sway end of the garage-blues spectrum of the century's turn, or thereabouts. Here in this current manifestation he trades in some of that for some just as loose - loose as Iggy on quaaludes - psych-swaddled country-folk-funk like late seventies Alex Chilton in New Orleans, Syd Barrett leading the Memphis Horns on a merry jaunt under seventies Austin starry skies, even T-Rex and Todd Rundgren taking a freeform Greyhound trip chauffered by Skip Spence from San Francisco to jam with the Greenwich Village folkies as they're serenaded by Sly Stone. And it isn't a simple, lame-ass lama excuse to slide into 'hey, I took some mushrooms, check out my ragas' toe-contemplating of many second division and beyond no-marks. This is nothing short of a seemingly diffident but quietly resounding success. Not least as a step aside to slighter, slower, less stompy surfaces doesn't mean an aimless meander into sun-dappled, dope-addled Beatles, Bob, Grateful dreary Dead and bloody Neil Young terrain like many less-immersed in the still waters of song-smiting who take the style and forget, if they can even acknowledge, the soul as this multi-instrumentalist maverick.
Stu Gibson
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