Pollyn: Living In Patterns – Album Preview on KCRW

Pollyn: Living In Patterns – Album Preview on KCRW.

Great band from L.A. One of my new finds this year. You can preview their album via the link until October 26th.

Musically Edifacated?

Em Told me of a musicality test she did on the BBC Lab site. I took the test and came out with what, I assume, must be fairly average musicality. Although I was shocked by my low score (well, medium score) for my 'emotional connection' with music. Anyway, here are my results, if you are interested in taking the test yourself, click here

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Original Soundtracks 1

I watched a documentary on Brian Eno’s music collaborations on the television a few nights ago. The programme played selected tracks from these collaborations including the track Miss Sarajevo, which was to do with Eno’s collaboration with U2 as Passengers.

I bought the Miss Sarajevo single on release but I never bought the album. I never really took in how heavily involved the members of U2 were in the Passengers project. I thought there were other collaborators and the album was a mix of all of them. And although there ARE other collaborators, the album *IS* essentially U2 and Brian Eno.

Fifteen years on I have unearthed what feels like an ‘undiscovered’ U2 album.

It’s not the ‘usual’ U2 album of course, and the main collaborators are really Eno working with The Edge musically – but that is what has made it such a revelation to find after all these years.

I’m sssooo glad I watched that Eno doc now 🙂

Post Inspiration?

Hello Peeps 🙂

Since it has been some three weeks since my last post, I thought I’d better post something new up. Only problem is that I haven’t really had anything to post!

I have been holed up in the house since New Year due to the snow and “treacherous” icy conditions. I haven’t been outside since about Dec 28/29. That is until yesterday.

We went out with our friend Stan (well, Em’s friend and subsequently, mine). We had a lovely bite to eat at a pub in Luton that sells Thai food. VERY nice! Then we went and saw a movie. It was a biopic on Ian Dury called (appropriately enough) Sex and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Andy Serkis plays Dury and is quite good. There’s mocked up concert footage and Andy actually does all the singing! If the acting work dries up for some reason he can always make a living as a very good Ian Dury tribute act!

It was quite non-linear and didn’t sort of tell the story from go to woe. But it was enjoyable. LOTS of swearing and even a few c**ts! The music was fab as well, especially (obviously) if you are a Blockheads fan.

The things that made us laugh? Some being attributed in the credits as “make-up artist to MacKenzie Crook”! and a middle-aged punk in the cinema, complete with pink dyed mohican! Aah, those were the days!

Anyway, that’s me for now. Just wanted to post to say that I’m alive and I’d even managed to go outdoors and escape the rabbit hutch for a while!

I will leave you with some Mr Dury.

The SuBo Effect

I was listening in to Clive Bull on LBC last night when he brought up the subject of Susan Boyle. Her album release “I Dreamed a Dream” has broken records for being the highest selling debut album in UK chart history, with more than 400,000 sales in the first week of release.

Clive asked “Have you bought the album? Does she deserve the success she’s had?”. He was arguing the point that she’s an okay singer, but not GREAT. That her success was from a gimmick, IE: she looked one way and sounded another (his words). That she was just a reality TV personality that had become an instant celebrity in our obsessive celebrity culture.

I don’t think he can quite fathom the success and thinks it’s not justly deserved. Here’s my view.

We all love an underdog. Boyle is an underdog. She came across, initially, as both shy but flamboyant. A very curious mix. She looked dowdy and while speaking before her performance perhaps came across as quite deluded about her own ability. Then she sang, and people were astonished.

I do agree with Clive that her voice is not ASTOUNDING, but simply good.

America catches wind of Susan, and instead of America doing what it does best (and fixate itself purely on the aesthetic), it actually got swept up in the whole underdog phenomenon. Just for that aspect ALONE, Susan Boyle should be congratulated. To change the mindset of a whole nation is no mean feat.

There’s something of the “Eddie the Eagle” about her. The only difference is that Eddie was celebrated for being crap! He was a crap ski-jumper but people got swept up in his enthusiasm and desire to be an Olympian even though he was not the best.

Perhaps some people are a little deluded in thinking Susan Boyle’s voice is VERY good, but it never stopped Madonna fans!

She’s a case in point. No one questions her status as a pop icon, but it was very much a balance of talent, sex bomb and shrewd business woman at work there. Who could argue that Madonna’s voice is “exceptional”? No one really. Even the biggest fans would have to admit, she’s not the BEST singer in the world. But it never really gets argued because she used her sexuality to perhaps sideline the argument. Sadly, poor SuBo doesn’t have much sexuality to let the “Is her voice ACTUALLY that good” argument rest. It will always be there.

And to answer Clive’s question. No, I haven’t bought the album (and doubt I will), but I think she DOES deserve the success. Come on! It’s an uplifting “underdog achieves” story. We have too few of them these days. So let’s celebrate SuBo.

Good for her!!

Here’s A Little Ditty…

I woke up early (for me) this morning and so decided to listen to some music on my iPod. Sometimes when I’m in bed at night, trying to go off to sleep and find sleep elusive, I set myself tasks. A favourite one is to do an A-Z of David Bowie songs. I’ll think of a song title apt for the letter of the alphabet then play the track in my head. It eventually helps get me off to sleep. Better than counting sheep!

So this morning when I got hold of my iPod I thought I’d actually listen to a Bowie A-Z.

Here’s my list:

A small Plot of Land – off the album “1. Outside” 1995
Blackout – off the album “Heroes” 1977
Cat People – off the album “Let’s Dance” 1983
Dead Man Walking – off the album “Earthling” 1997
Everyone Says ‘Hi’ – off the album “Heathen” 2002
5.15 Angels Have Gone – off the album “Heathen” 2002
God Knows I’m Good – off the album “David Bowie: Man of Words, Man of Music” or “Space Oddity” 1969
Heathen (The Rays) – off the album “Heathen” 2002
I’m Deranged – off the album “1. Outside” 1995
Jean Genie – off the album “Aladdin Sane” 1973
Kingdom Come – off the album “Scary Monsters…and Super Creeps” 1980
Law (Earthlings on Fire) – off the album “Earthling” 1997
Miracle Goodnight – off the album “Black Tie White Noise” 1992
Neukoln – off the album “Heroes” 1977
Oh! You Pretty Things – off the album “Hunky Dory” 1971
Prettiest Star – off the album “Aladdin Sane” 1973
Queen Bitch – off the album “Hunky Dory” 1971

(yet to play)

Rock ‘n’ Roll With Me – off the album “Diamond Dogs” 1974
Stay – off the album “Station to Station” 1976
Teenage Wildlife – off the album “Scary Monsters…and Super Creeps” 1980
Untitled No. 1 – off the album “Buddha in Suburbia” 1993
Voyeur of Utter Destruction (as beauty) – off the album “1. Outside” 1995
Wishful Beginnings – off the album “1. Outside” 1995
(nothing for X sadly)
Young Americans – off the album “Young Americans” 1975
Ziggy Stardust – off the album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars” 1972

As you can see I got up to the letter “R”. I will finish listening to the rest tonight.

File-Sharing, Not Such A New Phenomenon.

I’m sorry if I am coming across as naive, but music file-sharing isn’t a phenomenon that has cropped up in the digital age.

This post was spurred on by a conversation on Radio 5Live with Richard Bacon talking to Feargal Sharkey who is now, these days, head of UK Music, an umbrella organisation representing the collective interests of the UK’s commercial music industry (info, Wikipedia).

They were talking about people sharing music files on the Internet. But while the conversation started I was thinking “this is NOT a recent phenomenon”. We have been file sharing for many years. Okay, it might not be on the scale it is now, due to the way the Internet has allowed people around the world to interact with each other, but it has been going on for a LONG time.

I lived in an age where the vinyl record and radio ruled. Many people who bought an album preserved it by making a cassette. And if they had a friend who was into the same music, they’d make a copy for them.

The top 40 would play on the radio on Sunday afternoon and if you had a cassette recorder and a blank tape handy, you’d record your favourite hits from the top 40 off the radio.

Then the CD player and CDs came along. Copy the CD on cassette for your friend, then the PC came along, but the Internet was a bit too slow for mass file-sharing, so we exchanged CDs via mail swaps.

And then finally high-speed Internet came along and we were not only able to share files, but buy MP3s from reputable music sites like iTunes.

The law of balance has turned round. Music sold in its millions in the 1970s and into the 1980s. Songs like Do They Know Its Christmas sold millions. It wasn’t really shared by anyone. It would be utterly frowned upon to share it, it was a charity record after all. No one would have been seen DEAD trying to get a copy for nothing – still, if you were determined, you’d have taped it off the radio. I’m sure some people did.

All the millions belong to “illegal” downloading now though. It’s turned from lots of music sold and not much music sharing going on (although it WAS happening back then), to millions sharing, and not much music selling. Boo hoo!

The horse has bolted. People have a different and much lower value on music these days. The music industry just needs to be more innovative and come up with alternative ways to sell their product.

I Have Officially Bitten The Bullet!

For a little while now I’ve had a niggling doubt about my X-Fi. Not to do with its performance, it’s a GREAT player, but for its ease of connectivity.

See, I live in a Mac/Linux house. All forms of Microsoft and/or Windows are banned in this household (my choice, along with Em’s).

When buying the X-Fi I knew I was taking a gamble with connectivity. When it connects to a PC (and when I say PC, I mean PERSONAL COMPUTER – PC does NOT equal WINDOWS based OS computers!) or laptop/netbook, the X-Fi wants to connect using Creative’s Centrale` software, which is Windows specific. Us non Windows based PC users have to use MTP software to try and have the X-Fi be seen by the non-native software.

This hasn’t been the most successful undertaking. In the early days of owning my X-Fi, it seemed to work, but then I just ended up having endless connection problems (the software would see the X-Fi, but the X-Fi would crash, etc) and resorted to putting things on an SD card. Only problem with that is the SD card doesn’t integrate with the X-Fi, so the music on the SD card doesn’t get played in shuffle mode, for example. And you can’t load songs from the SD card on to the player! A real pig.

I’ve sort of come to the end of my tether with this and have now decided to get an iPod Classic 120GB player. I’m able to get it on a “buy now, pay July 2010” offer. So I’ve gone for it. It arrives tomorrow and I’m a little excited. Reserved excitement – which is RARE for me!

I tossed up SO much between the X-Fi and the iPod at the time I was initially looking to buy into a substantial MP3 player purchase. The price difference swayed me, backed with some negative feedback Apple gets for its prized player.

I’ve gone for the Classic as it offers SSOO much space! One of the bonuses I thought appealed with the X-Fi was its expansion slot for SD cards. But non integration makes it a help AND a hindrance. I’m sure the 120GB space I’ll get with the iPod will take a LONG time to fill, and also the fact that I actually HAVE a Mac will make file transfers so much more straight forward (I am REALLY hoping!).

So, I’ll let you know how I get on in days to come.

I fell like SUCH a lemming for finally relenting and buying into the iPod phenomenon. As much as I love Apple products, many can be a bit too “style over substance”, but we’ll see. I hope I’ll be eating my words in the next 48 hours.