The Church Of Me
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Kissing in the churchyard, I know a righteous woman

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

You’ll forgive me if I don’t clap my hands and join in with glee at the unsightly and rather
ugly spectacle of middle-aged middle-class men walking into pubs and putting on Metal Machine Music or Dondestan or whatever – and what a cheap INSULT to Wyatt, a generous and wise man who has never made any secret of his equal valuation of Lynsey de Paul and Ornette Coleman, to name this “movement” after him – and laughing at the agonies of poor working-class punters. You’ll forgive me if I label this as stinking, plain people-hating bullying. You’ll forgive me if I think of idiots at school who kept threatening to kick my head in for liking Pere Ubu AND the Dooleys, because they thought I was gay. Or stuffed-up scum who sneered down their noses at Laura and me for all the years we were in Oxford.

I mean – is this the absurdity to which the music blogosphere has really reduced itself? To the level of prefects who’d storm into the common room and put on fucking 2112 by Rush for the millionth time because they knew what was best? To the level of thirty/fortysomething men sneering at the tastes, lives and loves of teenage working-class girls? Then maybe we ought to blast the whole thing out of existence. “Pockets of resistance”? Against WHAT? Ordinary people with (by your standards) ordinary tastes? Or maybe it’s convenient for certain “critics”’ wallets not to have to deal with all those other irritating types of music which demand equal attention and respect.

It’s exactly the same snobbery you get from something like the brave new Radio 2, which seems to exist solely of a diet of approved Q/Mojo “classics.” Want to hear some Dean Martin or Lieutenant Pigeon? Fuck off…our regimen is one of stalwart, soulful, non-plastic “real” music. “Piece Of My Heart” and “Jean Genie” until the end of fucking civilisation (which hopefully isn’t that far off).

*pauses for breath*

*counts to 12*

Saturday was a glorious day; exactly the kind of manageably hot and sunny day built for wandering around not-quite-forgotten back streets and obscure highways of my capital. Usually such meanderings tend to be melancholy but now are infused with hope and anticipation. Up to Highgate (well, Archway really) to obtain a copy of the new Gail Brand and the Furious Five CD (she’ll hate me for that) Supermodel Supermodel. Actually it seems to have been the brainchild of percussionist/whateverist Gino Robair; four Bay Area improvisers plus Gail on most of the tracks. Giving it the Discman roadtest treatment I found its chirpiness, mischief and drive a most agreeable complement to the happy-looking weather. Then track seven (“Cindy Cindy”) struck me dead; an oscillating, solemn drone which sounded like a reluctant sequel to the first section of George Lewis’ “Homage To Charles Parker” – disused laptop blurrs, unearthly (ebow snare?) sustenatos, a trombone unsure whether to breathe. Then I looked at the recording credits and saw that this was recorded long after the other two sessions represented on the album, and that in the interim one of their number, bassist Matthew Sperry, had been killed in a road accident. The mourning would have been obvious even if I hadn’t known that.

Further attempting to get my grip on the new Scritti, it must be recorded that its bucolic anonymity fitted rather well with the rundown terraces of Pimlico, the 1974 genteel desolation of the area immediately surrounding Victoria Station; having said that, only the opening track “The Boom Boom Bap” stands out for me as a discrete and concrete song, and it may be one of Green’s finest; his voice has remained miraculously untouched, and the utterable 1988 sadness of the musical backdrop forms a starkly beautiful tribute to hip hop; just as he transposed the South Bronx to George Harrison’s back garden on “Jacques Derrida,” so he pays tender tribute to Jam Master Jay, Wu-Tang and even Frankie “Double Dutch Bus” Smith against a song whose glades are as suffused with lost poignancy as those of Fay’s “Strange Stairway” – those thoughts again of the lanes in Old Headington, what she would have thought of this – and the antique home studio synths are in an unfunny but profound way as needed for this music as they have been for Leonard Cohen’s music over the last 18 years. The last part of the song, where multiple Greens sweetly croon the tracklisting of the first Run-DMC album, to be succeeded by a single Green pledging: “I love you still. I always will,” is unfeasibly moving. The remainder of the record is pleasant enough in a 1972 George Harrison trying to be 1999 Saint Etienne kind of a way, but none of the tracks singularly sticks in the mind, except perhaps for the Partridge Family schaffel of “After Six,” the odd old-DIY meets ‘80s-yuppie Politti fusion of “E Eleventh Nuts” and the tender-ish “Window Wipe Open.” But both of these latter tracks peter out unsurely, while others like “Dr Abermathy” and “Mrs Hughes” (which I don’t think is about Sylvia) are clumsy fusions which lead to nowhere revelatory. “Snow In Sun” is sourly sweet but detours into a tacked-on fadeout without good or bad reason. All tracks were recorded solo, at Green’s home, and demonstrate the need for a good and purposeful producer; though the general airy aimlessness, as I say, worked wonders on the Saturday afternoon before Girls Aloud at Wembley Arena demonstrated that all doors are always open to those with the enterprise to find the right keys (they made no mention of me or that GQ piece, and doubtless forgot both after about 90 seconds, but I love them anyway...).

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