Saturday, April 22, 2006

Emma Townshend's WINTERLAND

It was in 1998 and much of life was tenuous and stressfull. A good friend of mine had lost both of his elderly parents within nine months and he himself was on his way out and in poor health due to severe substance abuse and depression. When I read that Pete's daughter Emma Townshend had released her first disc I was really intrigued and almost at once I was playing the disc round the clock. My friend also liked the music a great deal, especially "I Dream of Being Well" aka "Groundswell" which summed it all up. It would be a dream come true to hear Emma and Rachel Fuller sing/play together, as they are my two favorite female artists of recent years- actually ever. Winterland holds a very special place in my music collection.
Emma's disc starts out with a sweet Emily Dickinson poem "Better than Music" set to a easy, breezy ukelele and than segues into the ultimate stalker song (appropriate for some nutty bloggers)
"The Last Time I saw Sadie."

"You know how it is,
She's too much in The Sun
Something made me a little Hinckley
And now am saving bits of paper
For my psycho bedroom
I'll pick a writ with her
My goddess
Listening to jealousy
Put on her records
Sit in the darkness
Listening to jealousy"

The next three songs are very eerie and sad: "Walk At Night" ("Makes you a hunter even when your vegetarian makes you a burglar even if you're honest") , "Ghost Kitchen" and "My Angel Of Vertigo."
"Walk At Night" always reminded me of Arthur C Clarke's "A Walk In The Dark" where the main character walks a lonely patrol on a distant moon, fearing and enraged by that fear. He could have stayed where it was safe but instead he has to go out at night. He tells himself that he is not being logical and that it's simply nerves
yet the alien with jaws awaits him when he sadly is almost home.
This leads into the very romantic "The Ambition of My Heart"
"The ambition of my heart
Reveals itself to be
The desire to spend sometime
In your arms"

Such truth. "Groundswell" is a mini epic which includes lyrics from the gospel spiritual "By The Rivers of Babylon" (also a hit for Boney M)It was at that time in my life that I was discovering Paul Robeson and I thought of him lying there in state after his death. Not very cheerfull images I know but these were sad days.
But although Emma's disc has a spooky T-Rex feel, it's mostly optimistic music.
"Five Aside Football" is the great single and it will be a hit someday. It just says it all about leaving your carefree youth behind:

"I guess somewhere I signed something
forgot to read the little writing
Because when i got where i wanted to be
That place flashed by like lightning
Dream is going big time
James a Tailor
Five a side Football
Think of all the money we're making"

The last three songs, "Wish Finger", "How Gardens Grow" and "The Ladder" are very beautiful, lyrical and all are much brighter and sunnier than the songs at the start of the disc but oddly it somehow rounds out in the end like a song cycle (dare I say rock opera?) "The Ladder" talks about flying over the city like 'The Light Princess.'
I'm glad I remembered that six months when all I played was this disc, Pete, The Who, Entwistle and Paul Robeson music. Happiness and ease from all that strife seemed inconceivable but I came out of the dark tunnel, river Styx, Hades whatever you want to call it. I'm so glad I had music like 'Winterland' to make sure I made a safe passage even when others could not. According to Wikipedia, Emma is a Professor of Economics at Oxford, may she deign to record more music someday as it is very memorable what she's done so far. I recalled most of the lyrics off the top of my head.

This is a wonderful disc and deserves to be rediscovered by listeners and critics alike.(Thanks to Justin Kreutzmann for the photos)

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Meters and The Mentors: I just did not see the distinction

"You must be thinking of 'The Meters' not 'The Mentors!"

This past weekend after watching the world's most concised and informed documentary ever to grace the cut out bins "Kurt and Courtney" I actually confused the featured LA death porn metal band "The Mentors" with legendary harmonic New Orleans funk band "The Meters" and I'm still wondering what went wrong.
Was it an overexposure to excessive amounts of red dye #2 as a child in all that powdered cherry drink mix? Did I, the one with all the rock trivia, actually just have a lack of basic music history knowledge? Did I really think that Art Neville is in the same band as Sickie Wifebeater? I admittedly hve more knowledge about other sectors of rock history but I thought I knew what I was talking about...I now feel oddly special.

Here are some stats so no one repeats my mistakes:

The Mentors:
El Duce (Lord) : Drums, Vocals
Sickie Wifebeater : Guitar
Pope Heathen Scum : Bass

The Meters:
Art Neville
George porter Jr
Brain Stoltz
Russell Batiste

Song titles For the Mentors:
"Over the Top" track listing:
01. Suck for Rent
02. Young Fresh Tight Sweet Stuff
03. Over the Top
04. Sickie Sniffer Test
05. Electric Dick
06. Sex Booze Weed Speed
07. Whip It Out
08. Inches of Three
09. Oxy-Cution Date

Song Titles for The Meters:
01. Too Funky
02. Keep On Marching
03.Fire On The Bayou
04.People Say
05.The World Is Under the weather
06.Love Slip Up

Claim to fame of lead singers:
Art Neville: American singer and keyboardist, one of the New Orleans most richly gifted singers sought after by countless famous names (Stones, McCartney etc) to enhance their sound while weaving a tapestry of lush grooves and lyrical tones in his own bands like The Funky Meters.

El Duce: Founder of LA Rape Death Metal movement. Was said to never be without a flyswatter, claims to have been offered 50,00 grand to kill Kurt Cobain, boasted numerous times about proudly fathering crack babies and died after being hit by a train in Riverside California while drunk in 1997.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Thoughts and Tips About My London Journey!

The Food Was Great!!: It's now been my fourth time over and England has an amazing array of fresh veg and fruits available all the time and at really good prices compared with my first trip over in 1997. Dairy products are some of the best anywhere. British Food is unfairly maligned and i just can't tolerate that. Rachel Fuller is so right when she mentions PG Tips as life's blood. I brought back 125 bags with me and I love tea once more-but it must be PG tips!!

Skype Online Phone Call Service: Anyone with a laptop should download this amazingly inexpensive way of calling internationally. Even if you can afford to call anywhere from your mobile or hotel phone why let the phone companies and hotels get rich off of you by jacking up fees just because they can? You download the program, pay a small fee, plug in a headset and make any international calls at great rates. A 20 minute call to California from London was about $2.00. Also the headphones give this unique clarity that allows you to really hear who you are calling in an intimate manner that cell phones and regular phones cannot.

Earl's Court: This is the part of London you go to for the cheapest Internet access, phone cards that work and the best accommodations at the lowest price in central London. You can stay farther North (Camden Town) or South (Fulham) but what you spend in time and money to get to where all the sites are is not worth it. Thieves work this area often but if you don't space out you should be fine. It's not the most glittering part of London but people are very friendly and all the kids on holiday and work visas have blessed the area with an infectious energy.

St James Club and Hotel: My friend Robin booked us for about a week into a five star hotel in London and because we had an incredible deal and it was so worth it. We were literally ten minutes away from EVERYTHING and the service was fabulous. This is one of London's only residential fine hotels so it felt very cozy. The 78 At St James restaurant was insanely good as our breakfast was included. Umbrellas were available if we needed them and the night concerige is a big fan of Pete Townshend.

Richmond: Kew Gardens is where I plan to stay when I go back to London. The area is quaint, friendly and not too pricey for BnB's. You are close to Heathrow and central London but far enough away to be in the green, green countryside in about ten minutes. I liked sleeping in and then walking about ten feet and going to the organic grocery store and friendly photo shop with internet access. Tube stations were closed on the Richmond line but should be reopening soon and British rail service is always available.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Molly of Richmond

So the last few days were really fun, let's see...I ate a pasty, went to St.Paul's , watched the changing of the guard and.... hahaha actually I cannot overstate how much fun it was to visit The Attic and see our blog compatriots. Rachel Fuller is so lovely and every inch a star, plus a classicaly trained prodigy, a chanteuse, an irreverant wit, a loving pet owner, a true gal pal etc it seems as if there is nothing she can't do! Those legs, that voice! It will be fun to write a longer article about her, especially after a trip to Southend.

Pete Townshend looks like he could play major league baseball or water polo if he ever gets tired of saving rock n roll. In fact Pete and Rachel remind me that one couple in your high school that everyone liked and wanted to be together forever. Pete is a very nice man who happens to be a superstar.
Tracie is the sweetest PA and has that inimitable British spirit that makes the people in this country so much fun, she and Justin Kreutzmann will be unbeatable as a team on the road.
Mikey is totally cool and gracious and he's a great fine artist-everyone in The Attic is so wonderfully multi talented! Would have liked to have met the tech crew but they were busy working.
Spenny from Back Bone Shiver was quiet but once I broke the ice was very sweet, talking about his guitar lessons that he gives to kids in Manchester and how tough it is to get a band together (don't I know).
The attic itself is in such a lovely part of England/South London. It was like being in a Dickens sketch with a bit of Beatrix Potter and more than a large dose of Wind in The Willows thrown in.
And who is "Molly of Richmond?" well at my BnB here near Kew Gardens the ownner has a lovely cocker spaniel with a recently shorne rone coat(spotted gret blaqck and off white) and a very amazing ability to slip in through my door and eat my McVites biscuits. Truly amazing because she can close the door behind her!!! She is just wonderful and she looks very much like the late Towser. (The BnB owner also mentioned that her husband has run into Pete at the local dog park. He is so deservedly loved in his hood.) Now that my tech friends are either in Poland or France i have no way to post photos of Molly but i promise a few good ones of Kew and Molly. In the meantime i slowly recover from my bizzare sleep schedule and wish everyone well. When I return to the states I promise to write all of you who have kindly posted during this magical trip.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Tony Benn: The Left and the Honourable

Click on the post title to read all about Great Britain's greatest MP who found time to meet with me and which was wonderful!!)
"So you found me in Wikipedia? Well, I took the opportunity and Googled you," said Tony Benn with an expedient flourish as he welcomed me into the lovely Notting Hill home he's lived in for over 54 years. Having just turned 81 on Monday, Tony Benn is ageless, endlessly knowledgeable and astonishingly current. "So you're a blogger, are you?" He mentioned reading my interview with Rachel Fuller. "She likes cigarettes, does she?" I explained to him all about her song "Cigarettes and Housework." Tony, as a contented pipe smoker himself, found this charming. I also told him about Pete Townshend's futuristic and multi-cultural novella about London, "The Boy Who Heard Music," a London that Tony Benn himself helped to shape in his unparalleled career in both Parliament and other sectors of British politics that spans over 50 years.

When you find yourself having pizza with a man who interviewed Saddam Hussein twice
while he was president of Iraq ("He had a revolver strapped to his hip and at one point actually held it and I wondered if I'd gone too far..."), you start to get very eager and curioiusand ask many questions. Tony at once wanted to know about me, where I grew up, what religion my parents raised me with etc. It was our mutual affinity for Paul Robeson that had been the reason for our meeting. The Left and Honourable indded!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Savoy Truffle Explained

So the question was posed at high tea at the Savoy last night: What exactly IS the Savoy Truffle of George Harrison Beatles White Album fame? Our lovely Polish server did some research, and told us that during the 60's and 70's there was a sweet that consisted of custard and raspberry jam in a shot glass layered with a few other things. According to Wikipedia, Harrison takes each name of the dreaded desserts that will supposedly claim the teeth of his lovely friend, Eric Clapton, from a simple box of chocolates. Whatever the case may be, I felt as happy and as sweet last night as any confection. Thanks to Ronny (the Savoy coat check man and bathroom attendant), I was able to be photographed multiple times in both the ladies' room and the mens' room. We also shot numerous films and I was able to see the glorious results of my big but elegant feet tip-tapping through one of the most beautiful hotels I've ever seen. This morning I woke up from a dream that my late cat Boris was still alive and we were cuddling and I also wish my boyfriend were with me.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

My First Day: London

After a very long flight in which I somehow ended up in very baggy clothes and "big, clunky" boots that don't stay laced up properly, that really embarrased my friends and which I now want to hurl into a fire, I found myself in a Radio cab with my two best friends Robin and Brian leaving Heathrow for St.James Place in London.


The lions at Trafalgar square and The Nelson Column are scaffolded but it was still so wonderful to stroll five minutes and see Eros in the middle of all the chaos..which reminds me that I should not be at this computer too much longer and go out and enjoy the rainless sky. Can't get over this lovely weather