Category Archives: Life

A Film For Friday: Grace Of My Heart by Allison Anders.

 

One of the things I did during my brief jaunt to The Big Apple in 2001 was to walk from Times Square- where I was staying – and down Broadway to place my hand on the Brill Building. And I did. It was a hot summers day and I burnt my hand.

It’s a fantastic looking building, of course, but that wasn’t the reason for my pilgrimage.

You see, not a lot of people know this- not even Michael Caine – but once upon a time, I wanted to be a songwriter. Indeed, after the band Oceans 11 split up in the mid ‘80s, me and guitarist Peter Ord decided to write songs together. Like Bacharach and David. Goffin and King, Fagan and Becker. But, of course, nothing came of it.

In the 1960s the Brill Building, though, was a hit factory that  housed some great songwriters. Including the ones that I mentioned above plus Paul Simon, Laura Nyro and more.

And Allison Anders’  wonderful  Grace Of My Heart is the story of that era, that great period of musical creativity. Well, it’s a fictional amalgam of a couple of people’s stories-mainly Carole King, I think – and it’s a gem.

Music is by Elvis Costello, Joni Mitchell, Burt Bacharach and others and it’s a smashing story, very well told, with fine performances from Ileana Douglas, John Turturro, Matt Dillon and others.

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Short, Sharp Interview: Vic Godard

PDB: Can you pitch your latest release in 25 words or less?

Live and Rare Volume 1 is an extraordinary trawl through 35 years of the Subway Sect. Also forthcoming are a single on Edwyn Collins’ AED Records and a single with Mates Mates on Famelic Records [of Vic Catalonia]

PDB: What music, books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

I have enjoyed the Leeds Piano Competition and been reading my usual fare like Nerval Gautier and Jacques Cazotte. Have been looking for English translation of German author called Jean-Paul, but not yet found.

I was impressed by watching Dawn Approach win the Dewhurst at Newmarket on TV the other day. Looking forward to seeing him win next year’s Guineas on the same track-he looked good.

PDB: Is it possible for a musician to be an objective listener?

I would say they shouldn’t be any different to anyone else but maybe they are.

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing music for films, theatre or television?

Yes, I am meant to be doing a bit of that but been a bit busy at Edwyn’s with getting first four tracks for 1979 Now recorded and mixed so I’ve got no excuse now they’re done.

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you?

Vitally.
PDB: What’s on the cards for the rest of 2012?

The release of the singles hopefully and a boat trip with the Subway Sect, followed by a mini tour and a Marc Riley session with the Sexual Objects end of November and a London gig with them on Dec 9th. Rehearsing with the Sect to record Happy-Go-Lucky Girls and You Made Me, for 1979 Now, at Edwyn’s.

Bio:

In 1976, Vic Godard formed Subway Sect at the suggestion of Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, who wanted another band for the line-up of the 100 Club Punk Festival. They were then taken on by Clash manager Bernie Rhodes. They appeared with The Clash on the White Riot Tour in 1977 and released their debut single, “Nobody’s Scared“/”Don’t Split It“, in March 1978.While recording their debut album, Rhodes suddenly fired the entire band except for Godard.Only one track from the album’s recording sessions, “Ambition“, was released by Rough Trade records; the single was a major hit on the alternative charts.

Godard re-formed Subway Sect in 1980 releasing the album What’s The Matter Boy? Following a summer tour with Buzzcocks, Subway Sect disbanded again. Vic Godard recorded the swing album Songs For Sale with a rockabilly band in 1981, but they were disappointed with the results and disbanded soon after.

In the mid-1980s, Godard retired from music  but came out of retirement in the 1990s, and has been a busy bee ever since,collaborating with the likes of Edwyn Collins, The Sex Pistol’s Paul Cook, Working Week and even writing a musical with  Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT VIC GODARD & SUBWAY SECT HERE.

Short, Sharp Interview: Anne Pigalle

(photo by Kevin Cummins)

PDB: Can you pitch L’AME EROTIQUE in 25 words or less?

AP: 21 vignettes about eroticism, not pornography; people laughed when I first started, they are all doing it now, badly.

PDB: What music, books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

AP: There seems to be a lack of anything interesting at all in the mainstream, that it is in music, films or art; I am sure there is some great underground stuff, but without the exposure, it is always hard to know what and where.

I have an enormously eclectic taste, I am very curious, I listen, watch, read old stuff and everything, everything interests me, not just the Arts, everything  is a lesson if you know how to look and listen – a bus ride or cooking dinner… But please, gimme something new… Mind you, this way I can concentrate on my own stuff, but it would be so good to be inspired, rather than only inspire…The stuff out there is not new. Derivative or stolen/copied, waste of time – Wake up kids !

PDB: Is it possible for a musician to be an objective listener?

AP: Objective, yes, in a way, if you really believe in what you do and work extremely hard at it and dedicate your life to it – with no lies – ( I mean no bullshit about fame and money ) then there is a strong chance you might have an objective view on things; people have different tastes, but they tend to agree when something is a masterpiece.

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing music for films, theatre or television?

AP: I have written a music film. Hollywood was even interested in it, but I will only be interested in Hollywood when the times and conditions are right – Of course some of it has been ripped off, like the rest of my work, but honestly, they just trash it all the way… It’s laughable how they miss the point of my work…

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you?

AP: Social media, well, it was nice to experiment a few years back; some of it has been good and some really bad…There is an interesting film called ” Living In Public ” which shows the damage that living in public can produce…So I don’t keep my close friends on FB for example, as I want to keep them in real life…The power seems to be in the hands of who owns these media networks…And F**K that, it just seems to perpetuate the bullshit music out there ( a little bit of good stuff I guess ), so I take it with a pinch of salt…

PDB: What’s on the cards for the rest of 2012?

AP:  Working on my new album, now that is exciting, because it is the accumulation of all my work and a middle finger to today’s excruciating cut and paste show business…  Never mind the cunts, here comes Anne Pigalle!

Bio:

The Last Chanteuse needs no introduction…

Like Edith Piaf , The Last Chanteuse grew up at the back of Montmartre in Paris, France. Her teenage years were spent playing guitar in a punk band and watching films.

Anne Pigalle moved to London, recorded with Michael Nyman and Adrian Sherwood and then went on to sign a recording contract with Trevor Horn’s record label ZTT, where she will record an album and a few singles. Hailed as the queen of Chic Bohemia, she will tour Europe and Japan.

Anne Pigalle then moves to LA where to work on her film idea, and meets the late Donald Cammell; she consecutively returns to London where she produces some experimental music pieces as well as some classic songs, erotic poetry, paintings and some beautiful self portraits polaroids, exhibited at the Michael Hoppen Gallery (the show Amerotica voted 4th best in The Times ); her role as a multi media artist becomes apparent and influential.

2011 sees the release of the trilogy : L’Amerotica I and II as well as L’Ame Erotique, a compilation of poetic and surrealists vignettes declaiming the values of personal love and erotic experiences in a world of generic and stolen ideas.

ANNE PIGALLE’S WEBSITE IS HERE.

THE VIDEO FOR SAINT ORGASM FROM L’AME EROTIQUE IS HERE.

SHE PLAYS ‘WITH MY BLONDE’ HERE.

L’HISTOIRE  D’ANNE PIGALLE IS HERE.

AND SHE EVEN HAS A BLOG HERE.

Off The Record 2- At The Movies is Out Now !!!

Off The Record 2- At The Movies is an anthology of 47 short stories, based on film titles, from some of the  best and most bad-bum writers around.

And all proceeds go to charity.

Find out more in my latest Brit Grit Alley column which is, as usual, over at Out Of The Gutter Online.

Small Town Creed by Paul D. Brazill

When You’re Growing Up In A Small Town/ You Hate It And You Want To Get Out.’ Lou Reed.

The lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.’Sherlock Holmes

And small town America seems to be even worse. If we go by films, books and television – Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, The Killer Inside Me, Lolita, Red Rock West – then small towns are dark and sinister places. Claustrophobic and repressive, they are much more suited to noir than the bright lights of the big city with its limitless possibilities. Noir is for losers, after all…

Maggie Greenwald’s cracking film version of Jim Thompson’s small town noir novel ‘The Kill –Off’, for example, starts with a shot of dozens of intersecting telephone lines buzzing with gossip and small town prattle, criss crossing and trapping you. Thompson’s novel is just as smothering with its multiple POVs and every character having a finger in someone else’s dirty pie.

Dave Zeltserman’sSmall Crimes’ shows a man trying to escape the past but his home town keeps dragging him back like an umbilical cord tied tight around his neck!

And as for getting out …

In Scott Phillips’ dark comedy of errors ‘The Ice Harvest’, the hero Charlie Arglist has big plans to get away from his small town blues but those old faces, places and habits keep hauling him back.

And look at Frank Capra’s terrifying noir classic ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’.  Poor George Bailey has plans the see the world and have adventures. But will those resentful hicks of Bedford Falls let him go? No! So, he tops himself. But even in death he can’t escape. A supernatural creature appears and drags him back ‘home’! It’s like that Sartre play where hell is other people, it really is.

And scariest of all, Bill Murray starts Groundhog Day as a funny and intelligent man but after being tortured by repeating the humdrum routine of a uber-bland town he loses his spark and his wit so much that he even fancies Ali Macdowal, or whatever she’s called. Now that is chilling!

(This post first appeared at CrimeFactory’s Day Labour blog.)

Days Of Futuramas Past

Here comes the sun, which means the rock festival season is already upon us. Young and old alike are turning up at football stadiums or muddy fields for the likes of Coldplay, The Stone Roses and, er, probably loads of people I’ve never heard of. And all in the name of ‘fun’. Apparently. Not me, though. No way. And here’s why…
 
Dexy’s Midnight Runners once sang ‘Lord Have Mercy On Me/ Keep Me Away From Leeds’, in the brilliantly titled Thankfully, Not Living In Yorkshire, It Doesn’t Apply.
 
And, to be honest, many people would probably agree with Dexy’s, since Leeds certainly fits a lot of folk’s idea of the grim, industrial wastelands of the north of England.
 
What could be gloomier, in fact, than, say, Leeds on a cold and rainy weekend in September? Maybe watching Joy Division, too? Ah, well …
 
And so it came to pass … it was 1979, at the age of 17, when I first visited Leeds to attend the Futurama Festival (nothing to do with the cracking telly showat the Queen’s Hall. Organised by local boy John Keenan, the festival was billed as ‘The World’s First Science Fiction Music Festival’ – even though there seemed to be  little sci-fi to the experience, apart from a couple of people dressed as robots.  
 
Mind you, sleeping in a municipal building’s drafty hall, on a grubby and sticky floor, with a bunch of other waifs and strays (who had travelled the country – and further afield – to see some of the hippest, most cutting edge, post- punk bands around) did have a touch of the dystopian future about it, when I come to think of it.
But the sci-fi angle wasn’t important. It was all about music. And what a line-up of ‘hot’ bands it was.
 
Yes, of course, the now legendary Joy Division were among the odds and sods  of bands playing over the Festival’s two days, along with their fellow Factory Records glum chums A Certain Ratio and, electro-pop  superstars in the making, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark.
 
But, there was also The Teardrop Explodes (who were beaut and performed a cracking version of Aretha Franklin’s Save Me)Scritti Pollitti, Cabaret Voltaire, The Monochrome Set, Spizz Energy, Echo and The Bunnymen (complete with drum machine, Echo),  The Only Ones, and, er, The Invaders.
 
And there was also one of the first performances of former Sex Pistol John Lydon’s Public Image Limited (I slept through a bit of them but bought a Bowie bootleg from Lydon’s brother Jimmy.)
 
And, of course, The Fall who, for my money, were the best band of the whole two days. I still have fond memories of Mark E Smith hassling the Hawkwind fans about their ‘cosmic crap.’ Hawkwind, along with other sixties psychedelic types, such as Nik Turner, seemed prehistorically out of place but their stoned fans seemed happy enough to wander around and take abuse from the younger punks and long-mac wearers.
 
futurama pass.Joy Division, by the way, were damn fine. At the time, they were on the crest of a creative wave, after Unknown Pleasures and Transmission, and before the synthesizers softened their sound. They were, for most people, the stars of the show. The bees’ knees, the cat’s whiskers, the dog’s bollocks.And any other animal’s anatomy.
 
As was the Futurama Festival.
 
More than a few of those bands went on to make something of a name for themselves and when Keenan organised another Futurama Festival in 1980, I went along, hoping to recapture the magic of the previous year. But as little as a year later, though, it looked to my naively jaded eyes as if the Futurama Festival was already moving towards the mainstream.
 
Acts then, included Siouxsie and The Banshees, who were promoting their mega selling  Kaleidoscope album, The Psychedelic Furs, Altered Images, Soft Cell (who, I remember, did a pretty tasty version of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid in front of projections of hard core porn) and, ahem,  Gary Glitter.
 
The Bunnymenwere back, too, complete with a real  drummer, and seemed to be on their way to a bombastic psychedelic form of what became known as stadium rock. Speaking of which, there was also a newish band from Ireland, who were being raved about by Sounds’ Garry Bushell – the ill-fated U2.
 
I actually thought they were alright, on the night, what with their Television-lite pop rock, although I –along with my mate Ronnie Burke – did spend most of their set shouting Nanu Nanu at the singer because of his remarkable resemblance to Mork From Ork.
 
The annual Futurama Festival  apparently carried on for a few more years after that but I didn’t go again or, indeed, go to another music festival.(Apart from Dock Rock in Hartlepool, my home town.) It could never be bettered.
 

A Film For Friday: Somebody To Love by Alexandre Rockwell

Palookaville (1995)

 
Palookaville
Taking its title from a quoted-to-death  line in ‘On The Water Front,’ Palookaville is  the  story of Jerry, Russ  and Syd – three friends who feel  so trapped in their  no hoper jobs and one horse town that they decide  to escape the rut by embarking on a life of crime, at one point using the1950  b-movie ‘Armored Car Robbery’ as their instruction manual.
Palookaville was directed by  Alan Taylor who has since  directed some impressive TV shows such as Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos and Deadwood. This genuinely charming and touching film  was written by David Epstein who based the splendid screenplay  on a story by Italo Calvino. Reminiscent in tone to early Bill Forsyth, especially  That Sinking Feeling, or a downbeat Ealing Comedy, Palookaville  is more than a little close to my heart. As far as I know, Epstein has written nothing since, which a shame.
William Forsyth, Vincent Gallo and even Frances McDormand are part of the wonderful cast, along with a cracking bunch of character actors who play a collection of quirky but painfully true characters.

This Impossible Night by Peter Ord

PETER ORD – SONGWRITER
I’ve known Peter Ord for THIRTY years ! He is a songwriter and artist living in Hartlepool, UK. A self-taught musician (guitar, bass and keyboards),he has been writing music since his early teens.
In the 80’s he performed with post – punk bands in the Middlesbrough area, including Halcyon Days, Oceans 11(along with Richard Sanderson, Ronny Burke & me)  and Hold, amongst others.
Since then, he has concentrated on songwriting, film -making and painting. He records his music in his bedroom and refuses to play live. He is NOT a Private Detective- or is eh?
His alter ego Hedge45 is a big hit with the NOOB TOOB ARMY!
Peter Ord’s MY SPACE page is HERE
This is is the noir tinged  This Impossible Night.

The Post Punk Peter Hammill – Richard Sanderson

In his introduction to his very good Postpunksampler 2, the legendary Julian Cope says tells this story:

‘In 1979, a smart, cool-looking guy called Richard Sanderson came backstage after a (Teardrop Explodes) Middlesborough show and gave me a bedroom recording of his quartet Drop. In his manner, style and quiet confidence, Richard was the Peter Hammill of Post-Punk; anguished, lean and nobly Norman. I loved every song on the tape and played it to Bill Drummond and Dave Balfe (of Zoo Records) , who rejected it outright for being too much like ‘The Teardrops and the Fall’.

So, who was the ‘Peter Hammill of Post-Punk’?

His bio says this: Richard Sanderson was born in 1960. He is originally from Middlesbrough in the North East of England, but has lived in London for 24 years.

After a background in punk and post-punk groups he shifted into experimental music. Playing electronics, toys and squeezebox, he has recorded and performed with many left-field musicians. He was a director of London Musicians Collective for 10 years, and ran several clubs promoting experimental and improvised music such as “The Club Room”, “Baggage Reclaim”, “Western Civilisation” and “Scaledown”.

In 2005 he joined Blackheath Morris Men as a dancer. In July 2005, together with Neil Denny, Richard created the ‘rationalist’ radio show Little Atoms.

In 2009 he left the world of paid employment in the music business, and scaled down his other activities to look after his two young children. He has been married to Ruth for 15 years.

And what of Richard’s legendary band Drop?

Richard says: ‘Drop coalesced out of my first punk band, The Silencers, and by the end of 1978, the steady line-up was-

Richard Sanderson – Vocals/Guitar Neil Jones- Keyboards Chris Oberon – Bass Andy Kiss – Drums

Listen to the music that Julian Cope raved about HERE

I’ve know Richard Sanderson for over thirty years. I first met him in a pub in Stockton when he was in DROP and I’ve been a friend and fan since then. I was even in a couple of bands with Richard- Halcyon Days and Oceans 11.

Richard has now also released an MP3 compilation of some of his songs from 1978 -2009. One of the songs is Oceans 11‘s ‘I Guess I’m Sentimental’ which was one of their better tunes. There’s also some other cracking stuff there including Drop’s French Windows which was covered by Julian Cope’s brother’s band. Click HERE for the track listing and download details at Richard’s blog BAGGAGE RECLAIM.

There’s more to The Weird & Not Very Frightening World Of Richard Sanderson than this but it’ll get you started.