I have been, recently, thinking back to the first concert I ever went to as a 19-year-old. Held in the Wellington Town Hall it blew my mind. Originally the plan involved us heading to the capital to attend an All Black’s test at Athletic Park. A friend suggested we also head to the concert because it happened to be occurring later that evening. And so a life-long love with Matt Johnson and The The was created.
As an aside, I find the majority of people I speak to about The The have either never heard of them or absolutely adore them. There appears to be no in-between.
Last month The The released their first new music in a long, long time. First it was released only in the UK in a run of 2000 (old skool vinals) singles. The likes of me currently living in South Canterbury had no chance. Thanks to Spotify (and, I imagine, the massive demand from fans), the song is now online. Yesterday it reached its algorithmic tendrils out towards me suggesting I might want to listen. Indeed I did. It’s a beautiful song – I said so much in a tweet.
As another aside, Twitter really does fill you with awe and wonder when you get a like from your favourite band.
This new music from The The has led to the UK Guardian to feature the band in their 10 of the Best series. Have a squizz.
With that in mind, I thought I would do my own “10 of the best.” This isn’t countdown from lowest to highest – they are all first equal. I have ordered them by year of release.
Time has removed much of the concert from my memory banks. This song remains. A 10 minute epic near the end of Soul Mining turned into a half hour encore (probably 15 minutes max).
1. This is the Day
“You didn’t wake up this morning because you didn’t go to bed. You were watching the whites of your eyes turn red.” Imagine just standing at the bathroom mirror for the entire night wondering about your life. Matt Johnson lyrics never disappoint – and that’s just the opening of this song about a hard life being touched with just a hint of optimism.
The melody belies the message in this song about the most perfect English day.
This is the 51st state of the USA – indeed. As we move into a world of Trump and May (?), who can forget the 1980s when Regan and Thatcher were having a similar love in?
1. Sweet Bird of Truth
Another song with the live performance etched into my memory. A song of a solder heading to certain doom in yet another futile ware. This also makes the list because it rocks.
1. The Beat(en) Generation
I was listening to this yesterday and again I can’t help thinking how Matt so cunningly hides dark messages within a perfectly constructed 3 minute pop song. “The beaten generation. Reared on a diet of prejudice and misinformation.” Sound like current UK times much?
1. Armageddon Days (are here again)
A song about religious conflict written years before 9/11, Bush, Blair, Iraq or Afghanistan. So very prophetic.
1. Slow Emotion Replay
This one makes the list because it’s all groove. Harmonica, Johnny Marr guitar and lyrics about life. What more could you want?
1. I saw the Light
When The The released an album of Hank Williams covers I had to find out who Hank Williams was. This was before Google. It took ages.
1. We Can’t Stop What’s Coming
This new song makes its way into this list because it is so lovely. A tribute to his late brother Andy, responsible for much of the artwork on early albums and singles (some of which was banned). A gorgeous and glorious re-entry.
Enjoy and share. In these days of Spotify and Apple Music and whatever the one Jay-Z set up is called and nobody ever uses, word of mouth is just as important as algorithmic tendrils.
Michael Jackson was a bit of a weirdo but MAN was he a genius.
It was incredibly sad last weekend to hear of the death of the man responsible for the biggest selling album of all time – the man who not only invented the moonwalk but also a pair of gravity eluding shoes that allowed him to be the smoothest of all criminals.
In these days of uncertainty and particularly massive ponzi frauds (Sandford/Maidhof) the Jackson story seems to be the one used by the media to break us out of the gloom. Well that and swine flu (I mean that has to be the most ridiculous name for a disease ever? or was that chicken flu?).
It’s hard not to make the comparison between the generations. I was about 7 when Elvis kicked the bucket. He was the size of three 1950s vintage Elvises by the time of his death in 1977. What did Elvis give the world apart from that snake-powered pelvis and the recipe for a fried peanut-butter, banana and bacon sandwich? Well, let us begin…
Elvis Aaron Presley was born in 1935 in a shack somewhere in the south of America. He grew up in Memphis and had his first number one with his first single Heartbreak Hotel in 1956. From then on he changed the face of the recording industry. How? Well, he was the first superstar of rock. By rock I’m not talking about GnR or any of those other hair bands, I’m talking good olde fashioned rock ‘n’ roll. He started it. It was him – and the people who wrote his songs. And the fat guy Colonel Tom Sanders his manager (before you write saying I got it wrong, I’m just being stupid and gag-like).
If Elvis hadn’t happened in 1956, I doubt very much that the rest of the rock ‘n’ roll scene would have happened quite as it did then in the late 50s/early 60s. If Elvis hadn’t happened, then the neither would the Beatles. Of course, this is all my own opinion based on nothing more than years of listening to popular music and reading music stats in books and on the interweb.
As Elvis changed the face of popular music in the late 50s, so too did Michael Jackson in the early 80s. Although he did release Off the Wall in 1979, that wasn’t to have quite the same impact on the universe as Thriller when it was released in 1982. Yes, yes, yes I know he was huge in the 60s and 70s with his brothers. The Jackson 5 were massive and spawned many singalong classics, but Mr. Jackson did not become a superstar until that exact point in time. Even with the release of Thriller that still wasn’t enough. It wasn’t until he baffled and amazed the world with the debut of the moonwalk during a performance of Billie Jean at the 25th anniversary Motown concert in 1983.
That was the point in time when Michael Jackson went from being the cute kid who fronted a band of brothers to being an international megastar.
To this date Thriller has sold over twice as many albums as the next one down on the list of all time sales. If you look at the list Thriller is at the top with nearly 11o million (plus the rest since it now sits at #3 on the Billboard Comprehensive Album Sales Chart. I did, however, get the figures from Wikipedia, so they must be taken in the context of anyone being able to log on and change anything they like with this, as my friend calls it, fictionary. I don’t believe there is any doubting the Thriller impact on the world of albums, R&B and red jackets with many zippers to nowhere…
After that Jackson changed. There’s a great video that shows his dramatic metamorphosis from cute boy into the freakish waif who dangled a baby named ‘blanket’ over a balcony. Blanket!! Who the hell calls their child Blanket??? It might be something to do over possible confusion with Jacko calling his first son Prince Michael Jackson and is third-born Prince Michael Jackson as well. How could he possibly tell them apart? Maybe the fact that the first Prince Michael Jackson (Jr) and the second Prince Michael Jackson (II) weren’t exactly the same age and probably looked quite different due to their different mothers may have lessened any possible confusion.
Anyhoo, it didn’t take long for Jackson to turn from an international pop megastar into a tabloid mutant. By the mid-eighties all sorts of rumours about his life were circulating – many of which ended up being thought of as fact – and these ultimately would lead to his downfall through sex abuse claims after he said there was nothing wrong with sharing a bed with kids. So maybe it’s possible just a little bit his fault.
Another problem of the megasuperstar is the fact they are surrounded by ‘yes’ people, or they deliberately surround themselves with ‘yes’ people. You don’t want to be told ‘no’ by anyone when you have the best selling album of all time. You ask for something and if someone says, ‘well you probably shouldn’t have any more painkillers Mr. Jackson because you haven’t eaten in 4 days’ then you sack them and hire the next frothing at the mouth fan willing to do your bidding. And thusly we have found the cause of death – extenuating circumstances brought about by sycophantic delivery of prescription drugs.
Elvis died on the toilet following years of similar drug abuse. Everyone said yes to him and if they didn’t they were sacked. With many of these statements I make I must qualify them by again saying my blog is my opinion and should under no circumstances be considered fact. Although I do go hunting the interweb for facts and figures to back up my blanket statements (geddit!!) so I suppose it’s not all a load of rubbish.
A bit of a weirdo, but Michael Joseph Jackson changed the face of popular music and I doubt very much that P Diddy or Puff Bobby or any of those current hiphop idiots will have the kind of influence Jacko did.
Until next time, shamon.
I can now say that I’ve been to see the The Police (a well-known and quite popular band from ‘my’ day) play a concert – and I never thought I would be able to say this. Who’d have thought a former Geordie teacher named after a bee’s bum, a well-chinned drummer and a clean cut ’60s guitarist could create such a wonderful array of tunes as a 3-piece. They played all the good ones – the rocky reggae/ska tunes from their early days and the ones from their later albums which sound a bit like Sting does by himself. Not being a failed muso who’s moved from trying to play music into critiquing the performance of others, I don’t feel qualified enough to dish out stars. However, if I were I would be giving them at least 4, if not 5. As you can imagine, the media reports on the gig today will feature a plethora of law and order related puns… Police Make Arresting Performance and such like.
As a group we got there quite late walking in the gates and making sure our group were still together we queued at the booze tent, just managing to get our regulation brace of drinks before the 8.30pm cut off. We then headed into the mass gathering of citizenry to enjoy our two drinks as Fergie (the singing version, not the ginger Duchess of York weight watchers version) performed some of her own, and some of the Black Eyed Peas hits. My hump, my hump, my lovely lady lumps was a particular, and most poignant, highlight. I heard that song might be about body parts, although Fergie didn’t clarify this at any point. At this point we had found our seat on the right hand side at the bottom of the bank. The only things restricting our view of the stage and the big screen were some glavanised metal barriers, two security guards, and just as the Police kicked into their set, 4 ‘on-duty’ police officers. We did ask them to move, but they remained steadfast in their positions saying something about the name of their organisation being sullied by those “musical hippy types up there.”
They started cranking out the good stuff straight away: Message in a Bottle, Synchronicity II and Walking on the Moon – Sweeeeeet. Sting did crank into his set by jumping into the air and slapping his base hard – a feat his knees wouldn’t allow him to reattempt until the encore. I took the opportunity for a pit stop during Voices Inside My Head and When The World Is Running Down. We were quite close to the ablutions where great acoustics meant not a moment of music was missed. I danced and sang and thanked whichever person had got Sting and Copeland and Summers to finally hug and say, “We are all equals in this partnership, none of us is better than any of the others, we are all the same – except that we play different instruments and Sting writes most of the songs” so they could get on with the business of entertaining. It is a job they do exceedingly well, despite the fact they are all becoming more and more distinguished as every day passes.
The middle part of their set went like this: Don’t Stand So Close To Me, Driven To Tears, Hole In My Life, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, Wrapped Around Your Finger, De Do Do Do De Da Da Da, and Invisible Sun. There was much dancing and singing within our small group as we bathed liberally in the soothing waters of this great band.
They finished off the main bulk of their concert with their first two singles Can’t Stand Losing You and Roxanne off the album Outlandos d’Amour. They would end up playing 5 songs of this most brilliant of debut albums – if you don’t own any Police albums, this is the one to get your hands on.
Of course they charged off after this, but it wasn’t long before they were back for their encore: King Of Pain, So Lonely (my favourite song of theirs) and finishing with Every Breath You Take. Mr. Sting and Mr. Copeland headed off again after this but good old Mr. Summers stayed out for a bit of solo stage time, waving and urging his fellow bandmates back out. When they didn’t he lunged into the opening guitar riff of Next To You. The others had to run to join him otherwise they may have looked a bit silly. On reflection, I think it may possibly have been part of the act…
It’s great that bands like the Police, and the Pixies (and I suppose the Eagles if you go for that sort of thing) are getting back together to rake in the cash. It gives the likes of me a chance to see bands I never thought I would. I am thankful to the music industry for creating the Retirement World Tour for maturing rock gods. I am waiting to see if Pink Floyd manage it… It would be worth trillions.
I strongly recommend the Police as a band you should go and see. The only full list of tour dates I could find (in over 7 minutes of looking) was on Wikipedia. My friend calls this the Fictionary – I’m assuming it is because of the content created by punters and not trained historians.
The Police are also playing the Isle of Wight festival in June. That should be a doozie.
It was bound to happen sooner or later. Yesterday morning at 9am, the person I would call the greatest living New Zealander, passed on, leaving this mortal coil for greater adventures.
Sir Edmund Hillary was one of those unassuming people who represented this country with the mana that is missing from so many sportspeople, politicians and actor types. I don’t believe anyone will ever respect Russell Crowe the same way, no matter how many Oscars™ he wins or cellphones he throws.
I was stoked with our state broadcaster last evening. TVNZ ran a magical documentary about the life and work of Sir Ed – a documentary made even more magical by the deep and theatrical narration of Gandalf McKellen. It wasn’t until about halfway through I realised that TV1 hadn’t broken this documentary up with their usual commercial interludes every 6.5 minutes. Well done, I was thinking, top marks for TVNZ. This isn’t their usual course of behaviour – responsible television for the masses. Maybe they had changed their ways? Maybe they were turning a new leaf and planned on being the socially responsible network they are actually meant to be. Remember this was the same television network who passed on making a television series with Flight of the Conchords because they were unable to, “see why it is funny”. So much for a New Zealand state run broadcaster broadcasting New Zealand made television. HBO are ready to rock (or folk if you prefer) with a 2nd series which will probably be snapped up by the government run network so that no-one else can have it (dog in manger syndrome if you ask me, and thanks for asking).
I don’t know why I thought they had changed. Where my brain at???? Sure enough at 9.15pm on the day of Sir Edmund Hillary’s death, TVNZ ran an advert using examples of it’s coverage of the death to advertise One News. The geniuses in charge of the media unit up here in Auckland must have still been drunk from yuletide festivities to think that this was a good idea. Maybe it was a long day at the office. Full blanket coverage of the death of a national icon must take it out of a broadcaster more accustomed to reporting on the state weather or leading the hunt for the fiend who was responsible for stealing three oranges from the Pakuranga New World. I think maybe it was a bit too much to expect them to go a whole day on this sort of subject without putting a televisual foot firmly into the gaping chasm of their mouth.
Whether I am getting older and grumpier (at age 40, or thereabouts, a man begins morphing into his father), I took it upon myself to log onto the interweb and inform as many news organisations as I could. I don’t think anything much will happen from this course of action, but it made me feel better.
TVNZ – you are a sorry excuse for a broadcaster. You have been for many, many years. The sooner you give up and hand the job onto someone who can actually make decisions based on logic rather than money, the better. New Zealand would be a far better place if you guys all just packed up and moved to Australia, and thusly, as Sir Robert Muldoon so eloquently put it, increased the IQ of both nations.
Please feel free to complain to TVNZ about their monsterous cock-up. Click HERE and you will be taken to a page on their website where you can do this. They are useless and they must be told.
I promise to be less grumpy next time. I might talk about kittens or something.
Mariah Carey has just released her own fragrance. Why would anyone want to smell like her? Maybe they’re sick of smelling like J.Lo – or eu de Jay-Z.
So many celebs, so many fragrance. I remember back in the old days (he says sounding like everyone’s father), actors, singers and other such people would go about their business for years without feeling the need to release themselves as a fragrance. To me it’s a sign that the star is waining – the hasbeen status of the untalented celebrity is beginning to sniff around the pampered feet of the uber rich and/or over paid.
J.Lo – what should I do? Should I release another album or should I star in another movie?
Agent – um, yes. An album would be good… or a movie.. Maybe you should do a movie. You’re quite good at acting. And they have editing these days, you know, to cut out all the bad bits…
J.Lo – Yes, yes… It is good that they can do that…. But how do you explain Gigli??
Agent – Maybe there were too many bad bits.. if they cut them all out then they might not have a film.
J.Lo – Perhaps I should do something else for a while… The albums aren’t going so well… My movies, well, it’s like I thought I could act when I started in this business, but I’m not so sure any more…
Agent – But didn’t you start out as a singer?
J.Lo – Yeah.. but I did some acting at high school and people said I was pretty good…
Agent – Maybe they were talking about your booty. You’ve got a pretty fine booty there Ms Lo. People around the office have been commenting on it.
J.Lo – Have they?
Agent – Yes, yes they have. Your booty lights up the room when you walk in. It’s like a full moon radiating its light across us all…
J.Lo – Hmmmm… maybe we could do something with my booty then….?
And 3 weeks later Glow was born. The smell of J.Lo. In a danty wee bottle.