RIP Caroline Crawley

Shelleyan Orphan left a four album legacy encompassing many unforgettable songs. Caroline Crawley – one of the least heralded victims in 2016’s celebrity death epidemic – left a larger recorded legacy including outstanding performances with Babacar and [especially] This Mortal Coil, plus worthy lesser-spotted guest appearances (e,g with The Cure in Mansfield 1989: not inconsequential given her relationship with Boris Williams).

Obviously she wrote or co-wrote, and sang lead or co-lead, on those four outstanding Shelleyan Orphan albums. Century Flower – though arguably the least satisfying of those albums, in nuts-and-bolts songwriting terms – is the keynote work in terms of Caroline’s vocal performances. Her voice wasn’t, in truth, S.O’s unique characterizing determining factor (that would be Jem Tayle’s peculiar contra-tenor voice) – but on Century Flower the voice matures, gains some added roughness (no longer merely a pretty-little-thing) and possibly expands in range. (It’s here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TRiIgdn9JI)

I hope the other three albums are uploaded to YouTube shortly.

Newcomers are directed to Humroot and We Have Everything We Need, these being the most consistent and certainly the most musically diverse (also Caroline sounds divine throughout the latter album!). [Try these: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zDh1PtksoQ and then https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAA3hJA9JdY). Meanwhile their debut Helleborine demands attention as an “aesthetic manifesto” – with all the neo-chamber-music stylings and literary references the band name might suggest. (try this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwttiOkdIHs)

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John Coltrane live recordings 1963/65

It seems like a lamely unimaginative way to spend one’s time – immersing oneself in Coltrane. But when a recording you thought you knew intimately, and could “switch off from” – i.e use as background music – suddenly reveals itself to you as if brand new, alerting you to details you(?thought you)’d forgotten – you find yourself remembering the truth of the maxim that we should never take genius for granted.

Today I rediscovered the first Philadelphia Showboat recording.  It was recorded on the sort of equipment you associate with audience bootlegs – and the sound is as good [a moment of digital distortion notwithstanding] as you could hope for from a 1963 bootleg.  But – it’s definitely worth acclimatising to that.  Because if you only wanted one Coltrane live recording from the intermediary period (i.e 1962 through 1964, in between the two creative peak years) – this would be it.  The quartet (which inspite of what you may have read, definitely includes Jones, not Haynes) has never played better.

We get full-tilt versions of two not-so-obvious quartet standards – “The Promise” (incomplete and often misidentified as “Afro Blue”) and “Out Of This World”, and the ubiquitous “Mr PC” in which the blues changes are by now irrelevant (it may be significant that the drum solo happens here).  Then there’s a surprise revival of “Good Bait” which shows how far this group had already traveled from bebop-style chordal improvisation (as soon as his solo starts, Tyner sounds like he’s regretting the choice of tune and is eager to bust out of it – when Coltrane starts it’s the pianist who drags him into harmonically unstable territory).  And the highlight – a very long “Impressions” which I recommend as a corrective to anyone who’d been gravely disappointed by that equally large version of “One Down One Up”.  That was monotonous and slow to lift-off.  This isn’t – this is the shattering rollercoaster riode you were hoping for.  Worthy of Coltrane’s reputation – and Jones’s.

Later the same day I jumped into the (not-released-on-Impulse) Half Note broadcasts These are classic specimens of the 1965 sound – “we’re still playing the old repertoire but we’re going to burst the tonality and rhythm if it takes a collective heart attack!” So, even more “where does Elvin find the energy?” and “whoever said Tyner wasn’t on the same page?” moments.  The session that hasn’t turned up on a million budget CDs – but is usually on YouTube – is most in need of promotion.  It’s the one with a long version of “I Want To Talk About You” in which Coltrane doesn’t bother with a cadenza because he’s already poured it all out, half-buoyed and half-dragged by the others…followed by, let’s just say, something resembling “Brazilia”, which shares a few stock licks with the Antibes version of “Resolution” and is possibly even more intense.  Of course the historical highlight is the untitled original known unofficially as “Creation” – a foretaste of Coltrane’s immediate future in the nagging bird-call tone of the theme, the increasing atonality of the improvisation and the sheer energy on display.  But let’s not forget the “budget-CD” version of “Impressions” (actually from March 19th) with the ever accumulating tempo and the Coltrane/Jones duet that really sounds like a dry run for the Antibes “Pursuance”.

I’ve just been reading…

Tune In – volume one of Mark Lewisohn’s projected series of Beatles books – promising to be the epic of all epics of music biography.
Reading it whilst whiling away time in a local-ish lending library.
I’ve only read as far as that crucial juncture in 1957 – I’m still homeless, and because I’m not resigned to this way of life I’m carrying more than enough luggage from place to place. Any library books are both a responsibility and, in the case of a doorstep like Tune In, a weight, too far.
But already I can tell you that this is a book you should devote some time too, even if you’re a Beatles hater, and/or someone who thinks their influence is spent and they’re long-since-become irrelevant.
Because everything “they” say about it is true. Probably to a greater extent than any of its planned successors, Tune In is a work of social history: a vivid glimpse into the England, and especially the Liverpool, of the 1930s-1960s, full of minutiae of day-to-day life. (All the necessary 19th/early-20th century detail is included, too, in discussing the extended Lennon/McCartney/Harrison/Starkey clans).
More than almost any Beatles book before it, this has the right combination of historical and biographical detail to potentially engross one of those Beatles haters – and what’s more, if you are reading this, and the sounds of early rock ‘n roll seem impossibly alien and antiquated to you, take my word for it that the bookjust might convert you to Presley, Penniman and the like.
(As an aside: Wouldn’t we be so delighted if there was a similar series on Frank Zappa – the kind that might evolve if C Ulrich, S Parker, Roman G A, G Russo, some members of the Z clan, and an advanced fan such as myself, pooled their ideas and beliefs?]

Goya Dress

When they were still together I described them in one low-budget fanzine as “the most underrated, the most mysterious, precious, beautiful, band we have”

What am I talking about? You can either go to an rip-off money-grabbing download site like Amazon to find out, or use this link while it lasts

http://redmp3.cc/album/2321464/goya-dress-1994-1996.html

What to listen to first? I recommend “Foetus”, “In Me”, “Jinxed” and “Picture This” in that order.

The rhythm section went onto Cinerama (no comment) and Astrid (the singer-songwriter) has had an interesting but maddeningly inconsistent solo career which I may discuss on this page at a later date.

Bowie RIP and thoughts unleashed

Four months ago I was being “told” by everyone around me that I should be mourning the passing of one of three people who in reality had brought me nothing but…reasons to be angry OR terrified OR depressed OR all of the above. (You can’t say that I owe the dead person any gratitude for “keeping me alive” – others might have done that. What matters is the mauvaise legacy they left)…
Why am I writing this here, on this page? To make the point that – for most people, I believe – our “real parents”, the ones who shaped the valuable parts of our Selves, are people we never knew personally, whose foibles never impacted upon us, but whose particular strain of intellectual brilliance educated us in some more valuable way than anything any relative (or schoolteacher, of course) could provide / impose.

Last Monday I was one of the many walking in a grey haze, distant from the world around, hearing nothing but ghostly echoes of “Subterraneans”, “The Motel”, “Sweet Thing/Candidate”, “Savior Machine”, “Bewlay Brothers”, “Life On Mars?”…

Not since the demise of FZ had I felt so much empty space.

Message to a Spectator magazine columnist whose name I forget (she was a right-wing feminazi type): You can claim that people mourning Bowie are simply using him as a symbol for their own heightened awareness of mortality (mourning their younger selves). But it’s not as simple as that.

Everything Bowie – and rock music – represented is under threat from, if not actually extinguished by, the right-wing socio-political hegemony.

Issue #1: The way young people are disempowered, as never before.

The school leaving age has been raised to 18. (Instead of being lowered to 13 – as the first stage in the process of official acceptance of what we all know from personal experience – formal education

    doesn’t work

, it’s not just counter-productive but destructive, a psychological abuse we spend the rest of our lives trying to recover from. First step in reversing this millenia-old crime against humanity / reality is abolishing the unmitigated waste of time that is secondary education, and replacing it with work-based training schemes, for which the attendee is paid a small wage!)

The age of consent has “effectively” been raised to 18 (via laws against “indecent communication”, laws imposed on hotel keepers in the wake of the Rotherham scandal, etc). And people in power in the UK and US have been heard arguing that it should be raised to the mid-twenties! (Instead of being lowered to 13 [or whatever the standard age of pubescence is now] in line with biological reality – which would have the effect of at last breaking the destructive hold on young minds of falsities like the desirability of monogamy, the indesirability of “promiscuity”, that there is any such thing as “enduring romance” (a.ka. “true love”). Concurrent with this, the powers-that-shouldn’t-be have lost their ability to distinguish between paedophilia and ephebophilia. (How many people were saying, of the Simon Dancszuk affair, that there was something inherently wrong in a 40 year old man desiring a 17 year old?! When such a desire is not only normal but absolutely biologically proper – it’s the natural-selection/survival-of-the-fittest instinct? See also that Spectator feminazi who, in her dissing of the Bowie cult, described him as “a man who almost certainly had sex with an underage girl while his wife waited in the next bed” If underage means “post pubescent / consensual”, good on ‘im! )
The tragedy is that so many young people are weak-minded enough to believe they do need protection from “sexual predators” including their own peers – to believe they are being harmed, not educated / toughened-up, by “sexting” and by access to pornography (which is the greatest weapon for demolition of those myths I listed five sentences ago – and for revealing to men how they have been defrauded by feminism, revealing what they are entitled to and, in real life, being denied, in terms of fulfilment of sexual desires or should I say “fetishes”).
In which case – shame on parents, teachers and the media for making so many teenagers so abnormally, dangerously, timid and lacking in self-knowledge and self-confidence. (No wonder they reach university feeling so threatened by contradictory political views, or by song lyrics that someone has ludicrously misinterpreted {q.v Robin Thicke} !) But shame on the teenagers themselves for allowing it to continue – they’re not pitiable, they’re detestable, because they threaten other people’s basic human freedoms as they fail to embrace their own.

Why am I associating Bowie with this?  Because he more than anyone before him represented sexual revolution.  Championing bisexuality, homosexuality, the transsexual or at least transvestite, all the nuances of sexuality and gender-identification.  We should take a moment to remember how much worse the world would be if he has not existed.  But he left the job unfinished – he forgot how much there was still to do in terms of liberating (or rather rationalising) heterosexual life.

 

So, to finally come to the main argument, the voting age, the drinking age, the driving age, and the sex age, should all be lowered to 13, in line with biological reality. All of these five age-related barriers must be lowered simultaneously in order for any one of them to make practical sense.
(For anyone who dredges up a load of false pseudo-science to deny this “biological reality”, to argue that humans don’t achieve even a modicum of “maturity” until the age of twenty-something – I say: who do you think you’re fooling, when you can’t fool yourself? You know you’re slandering your own younger self as you spout this toxic cack!)

 

Now – Issue #2: Rock culture also represented emancipation from religion. But now representatives of and adherents to religion are grovelled to and guaranteed access to positions of government, more than they have been for decades.
Religious people would be pitiable if they were isolated eccentrics who only afflicted themselves. They’re not. They deceive, intimidate and defraud not only their families, but everyone else – via their influence over state education (which brings us back to Issue 1a above) and over the state itself (Who is it that blocks liberalisation of abortion laws, sex laws etc? Religious people, and people who deny being religious but are clearly motivated by half-submerged religious indoctrination which they cling to in defiance of inconvenient realities).

People whose every decision in life is in some way informed by belief in things that don’t exist (“God” and “the afterlife”) – these beliefs being invariably accompanied by an array of easily disproven pre-scientific beliefs (often cloaked in the gibberish language of false pseudo-science) about everything from how the universe works to how the human body works (and the latter is more dangerous – it brings us back to Issue 2b above). Such people are not mentally in a fit state to occupy any position of responsibility whatsoever. Which is why all equal opportunity laws need to be scrapped – no religion should ever be “respected”. You publicly identify yourself as a Christian or Muslim or Hindu or pagan (I know from experience they’re as bad as any of the above) or whatever – it’s unemployment for you (and readers will know I don’t say that inadvisedly!)

David Bowie, like so many of his generation, flirted with, and almost succumbed to, religion at times (1975 and 1992) – a “flirtation” potentially far more dangerous than his passing interest in fascism. That he eventually returned to sanity / atheism, using religious symbolism (in the lyrics of the albums Blackstar, Heathen, Reality etc) as merely that – symbolism – is easily deduced and therefore widely documented.