Paul Fuzz Presents: Flew In From Miami Beach BOAC
Who owns 'Who?', or how scientific is science-fiction meant to be anyway?: Critical responses to The New Doctor Who
So I'm talking to this theatrical sorta guy the other day, and I tell him how I just bought this old 60s wildlife record called "Bird Sounds In Close Up". Turns out this guy is a real sound effects nut, so we get to talking and his real
super-geek specialist subject is "telephone rings and dial tones". The guy says that there's this whole community of people who are really into telephone rings and dial tones throughout telecommunication history, and if any of these cats are watching a period drama on TV, they totally know how historically accurate the telephone sound effects are. If they consider any of the telephone sound effects to be historically inaccurate, they write to the BBC or whoever and draw the mistake to their attention. This guy says - real serious - "oh, yeah, when they get the sounds right it's really great, but when they get them wrong it's kind of annoying. Audiences wouldn't put up with an actress wearing a 1960s mini-skirt in a World War 2 epic, so why should we put up with a 1960s dial tone? It doesn't spoil the whole show for me or anything, but you wish they'd just make an effort to be accurate." He actually quoted an "infamous" example of this from 'Schindlers List'. I mean, this was really an issue for this guy. Like "Yeah, Apocalypse Now was pretty good, but a standard-issue Tel-380 1968 US army field telephone which rings like a standard-issue Tel-381 1976 US army field telephone? Yeah, nice one, Coppola! You must think we're a bunch of idiots trying to get that
blunder past us! Why doncha go the whole hog and use a Tel-382
model next time, huh?!"
The point of the story is, people are weird. When this guy sits down to watch a show, one of his criteria for judging it is how accurate the telephone sound effects are. Of course, historical accuracy is a criteria used by everybody to judge the quality of a period drama, and that includes telephone sound effects. If Mr Darcy's mobile goes off and fills the room with the sound of Rhianna's 'Umbrella', most people would consider this a major blunder. A standard period drama implicitly asks to be judged on it's historical accuracy. The difference between a regular joe's assessment of historical accuracy and the Telephone Guy's assessment is that the the regular joe is satisfied with a broad accuracy that avoids any major blunders, and the Telephone Guy is demanding precision from the position of a (self-appointed) expert in this particular field.
Similarly, Science Fiction, or at least a particular type of Science Fiction, can reasonably be judged on the scientific accuracy of the narrative, and similarly there will be regular joes who are satisfied with what appears to be a basic adherence to the fiction's internal logic, and those more seriously science-minded individuals who demand actual scientific accuracy. Over the past few months my mind has become increasingly frazzled by the number of reviewers who criticise Doctor Who on the basis of perceived minor scientific inaccuracies or inconsistencies. I will attempt to outline why I find this critical approach difficult to understand.
On a broad, fundamental level, Doctor Who is daft. Gloriously, magically daft, but daft nonetheless. It's about a guy who travels through time and space in a police box. Whatever theoretical science one chooses to apply to the show, it's still plain silly. Does this mean that the show should not adhere to it's own internal logic, however silly, once established? Of course it does not. But then attacking the shows failure to adhere to it's own internal logic is different to picking holes in the shows scientific accuracy. It would be a problem, or at the very least a head spinning left-turn, if the Doctor suddenly developed the ability to transform into a Volkswagen Beetle, because this would contradict 40 years of Who history. What wouldn't
be a problem would be whatever pseudo-scientific explanation the writers gave for this ability, because no
scientific explanation, however smart, could account for something so bonkers, and it would be ridiculous to base your criticism of this plot device on the quality of the explanation for it, rather than the plot device itself. "What? 'Synchro-DNA-Transformalisation?' Forget it. 'Trans-DNA Voltswagonalism' I mighta bought, but not this nonsense.' The problem would not be the science, but the fiction.
Sentences in Who reviews like "Are we really supposed to believe a giant man-wasp could hold some lead piping?"
boggle the mind. You've successfully suspended your disbelief to the extent that you're willing to get on board with the giant man-wasp. But you're drawing the line at the giant man-wasp being able to hold a piece of metal? Clearly an audience should not be expected to accept incomprehensible, senseless plot twists, but criticisms like this, where the perceived 'problem' is based on the reviewers arbitrary decision about where they draw the line of believability, is sheer insanity. "I stopped believing this situation at the point the shadow of the giant man-wasp could be seen holding lead piping" is not valid criticism.
Doctor Who is famously the scary TV show which has children hiding behind the sofa. Children.
Too many reviews I read just plain ignore the fact that this is a show built to some extent to be enjoyed by families and children, and that it is on the level of quality family / kids adventure telly that Who excels most consistently. While this does not mean older, bloggy types should disconnect their scientific critical faculties for the duration of the show, it does need to be factored into their criticism of it. I've always sort of thought if Doctor Who is owned by any demographic, then it is The Kids, not bloggers and sci-fi nuts, to whom it is ultimately answerable.
My Top 5 Predictions For 2008
.1. Radiohead invent new music format: After singlehandedly inventing 'the internet' in 2007, wrongheaded overachievers and erstwhile pointlessly awkward bastards Radiohead will in 2008 release their next album on a brand new format they've been developng for the past two years called 'tape casette'. Details are sketchy, but early indications are that these 'tape casettes' will weigh 20 pounds each and resemble the head of Henry Kissinger. Those crazy Radio boys are confident they can eventually mass manufacture something called a 'tape casette' 'player' on which to 'play' these 'tape casettes'. Said Thom Yorke: "I'm all over the muvvafugger."
.2. All Music Will Be 'Quite Good': Seeing as Music was worse in 2007 than at any time since pre-Strokes 2000 or The Eighties, and has produced a worryingly high number of bands - Hadouken!, The Wombats - rated in the Guiness Book Of Hit Records as 'Possesing Terrible Brian Killing Powers', I summoned Music to the heavily fortified, Jonestown-style Electric Roulette compound for 'a little chat'...
So I was all like: "Yo, Music. Sit your ass down, and listen up. One year ago you were sat opposite me in this room, jus' like you are now, and you laid a whole buncha candycane, suger-pie jive on me 'bout how 2007 was gonna be a vintage year. Vintage. '1956, 1967, 1977, 2007." That's what you said. But guess what. 2007 stunk up the place like a malfunctioning skunk. And you're talking to a guy who remembers the woeful heap of garbage you came up with back in 2000. Oh, what, 2000 wasn't that bad? Two words for ya buddy: Papa. Roach. But now, after 2007, shit, I'd take a 2000 in a New York Minute. 2000 was Disneyland compared to 2007. I mean, Remi Nicole : are you kiddin' me?" So Music made me a promise that all Music in 2008 would be at least 'quite good', which I thought was fair.
.3. Hit Records-A-Mundo: Industry 'insiders' are already predicting that 2008's hottest chart trend will be the incedental music from 80s and 90s US Sitcoms, with Bob James's Fender Rhodes-tastic 'Taxi' score, the bar-piano jingles from 'Cheers' and The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air's pop-rap instrumentals leading the pack. Personally I like the slap-bass from Seinfeld. Composed by Jonathan Wolff. That's right.
.4. Mole People: When you're not 'getting down' to the slap-bass stylings of Seinfeld composer Jonathan Wolff, 2008 is gonna be all about The Mole People. You know The Mole People, right? You don't? Uh, they're hideous human-sized moles who walk on their hind legs...they've lived in the earth's core for billions of years...call us 'Surface Crawlers'...developed an entire mole civilisation down there which existed in in blisfully ignorant harmony with us until some kid in Florida dug a really big hole at the beach one day and accidently stumbled across it sparking a Mole People / Surface Crawlers diplomatic 'incident' which has now been resolved due to the efforts of Connie Rice and Grand Chief Marshall Xtishiik Taai Of The Vsritsh Taai Northern Mole Armies...organised last Summers LiveDirt concerts with Bono and Bob Geldof to raise awareness about the ever decreasing supplies of soil and gravel and stuff that Mole People need to claw away at with their massive spade-like hands in order to survive...no? Nothing? Anyway, Mole People. Look out for 'em in 2008, they're gonna be huge. They sorta sound like The Hoosiers, but with more relentless, thunderous banging on ancient tom-tom like Xdrivsnik Mole 'Drums Of War' and 'singing' in a 'language' consisting of brutal, gutteral grunts and piercing shrieks which are at best utterly incomprehensible to the human brain and at worst capable of inducing in human listeners violent bouts of vomiting, nose bleeds and 'fitting' which can last for up to two weeks after the performance, which will itself - on average - have lasted three weeks, with short breaks taken for clawing at dirt and rock with their massive spade like hands.
.5. Mojo Magazine 'Digs' John Lennon: Having finally written literally everything there is to be written about The Beatles, listed their 400 + songs in every possible mathmatical combination, twice, given away free CDs featuring Beatles covers by every single artist in the entire world who isn't The Beatles and printed every photograph ever taken of The Beatles, of everybody they ever met, of everybody they never met, of people who had just heard of them, of people who have never heard of them, of everything they ever sat on or maybe saw one time, the word on the steet is that Mojo Magazine's efforts to satisfy their readership's unquenchable thirst for Fabsploitation will in 2008 reach it's inevitable conclusion when they exhume the body of John Lennon, reanimate his corpse and interview Zombie Lennon for the year's biggest cover story. Paul McCartney is expected to make a statement shortly afterwards about how actually he had the idea of being zombified 'first'.
Kick-Ass Band Name Motherlode Discovered
Everybody knows the first thing you need to do when forming a band is to come up with a KICK-ASS NAME. Before you write any songs, before you learn to play an instrument, shit, before you own an instrument, you need a kick-ass name. I mean, you get a bunch of mates together and say "Oh, it doesn't really matter what we're called at this point, let's just call ourselves Keane" - what have you got to aim for? You'll end up sounding like Keane! You need a name to inspire you, a name which demands you make music kick-ass enough to justify it! But coming up with a kick-ass name isn't easy. Infact, it's the hardest thing in the whole world. The junior band namer is facing down the barrel of 60 years of used up band names. I mean, are you really gonna come up with a better band name than The Grateful Dead? Or The Velvet Underground? Shit, whydoncha quit right now?
NO! DON'T quit right now! 'Cos I've discovered THE MOTHERLODE OF KICK-ASS NEVER-USED-BEFORE BAND NAMES. DOZENS of 'em. Suitable for any genre. Band names so incredible that the mind struggles to comprehend the overwhelming kick-assness of the 'em. And where did I discover this mythical haul? Why, dear reader...IN THE TWILIGHT ZONE.
Dig: I'm flicking through an A-Z Of Television type book this week and I'm reading about The Twilight Zone, a show which is unspeakably cool for a whole buncha reasons that I don't really have time to get into here, and I'm looking down the episode guide - thinking, 'gee, I wonder if there might be a good band name here, I mean, "We got it from an old episode of The Twilight Zone" is a pretty hip reason to give when explaining "how we came up with our name", but I suppose that would be too much to ask...OH MY GOD! THERE'S HUNDREDS OF 'EM!" Check 'em out! The hits don't stop coming!The Best...
(Season 3): I've baggsied this one, and you bastards'll have to have me buried in my cold, cold grave 'fore you get your dirty mits on it. This is an incredible band name; the Nazi / Hells Angels insignia reference, the Brian Jonestown Massacre styled slacker punk pun...when I get my Velvets / Warlocks drone rock outfit going, y'all better watch out for DEATHS-HEAD REVISITED.Black Leather Jackets
(Series 5): How great is that? The Black Leather Jackets. I'm thinking...scuzzy, dirty Hamburg-era Beatles styled Rock and Roll combo, all dressed in...y'know...and this wouldn't even be their actual name, it'd just be what the local German girls call 'em 'cos that'd be they can't translate their proper name (like the Japanese called The Beatles 'The Yeah Yeahs').The Purple Testament
(Season 1): S'gotta be prog. "Hello Wyoming! We are PURPLE TESTAMENT!" I hope you like our new direction..."Ring-A-Ding Girl
(Season 5): The Ring-A-Ding Girls. 50's hipster slang reference, with a femme twist. S'gotta be a Shangri-Las meets Etta James girl-group go RnB combo...like The Pipettes, but with more than one good song.
And the rest... (really good ones in bold
) (Pluralisation added where appropriate)
Season 1: The Lonely / The Four Of Us Are Dying (emo) / The Hitch-Hiker (s) / The Last Flight / The Fever / The Big Tall Wish (US college rock) / The Chaser (s) (acid-jazz) / The After Hours
/ The Mighty Casey (Alt. Country)
Season 2: The Howling Man (Men) / The Lateness Of The Hour (emo) / The Trouble With Templeton
/ A Most Unusual Camera (post-punk) / The Whole Truth / The Invaders (already name of a legendary funk band) / The Odyssey Of Flight 33
(prog) / The Prime Mover (s) ('High Numbers' style Mod) / The Rip Van Winkle Caper / The Silence / Shadow Play (Joy Division tie-in) / The Obsolete Man (Men)
Season 3: The Shelter / The Passerby (s) / The Midnight Sun / (The) Dead Mans Shoes
(Tom Waits / Nick Cave) / The Trade-Ins (Post Libs grot-rock) / The Gift (Velvets tie-in)
Season 4: The Thirty Fathom Grave (goth) / The Parallel / The New Exhibit (art rock) / The Incredible World Of Horace Ford
(hands off, this ones mine too) / The Bard (Shakspeare rock)
Season 5: (The) Nightmare At 20,000 Feet / The Last Night Of A Jockey / The 7th Is Made Up Of Phantoms
/ The Long Morrow / The Self Improvement of Salvadore Ross / The Masks (art rock) / I Am The Night / The Jeopardy Room / The Encounter (s) (soul revue) / The Brain Centre At Whipples / The Fear / The Bewitchin' Pool
So at a rough count I figure The Twilight Zone is responsible for 45 kick-ass band names! Print off this page and stick a pin in it! I look forward to catching The Brain Centre At Whipples at Glasto next year...
The Worst Song I've Ever Heard #263
The Wombats - Let's Dance To Joy Division
Music: Fast-Track Graduate Scheme Rock In The Contemporary Style. Jack Panate not enough of a dumb-headed posho for you? The Hoosiers not sickeningly desperate enough for mainstream Jo Whiley sponsored faux-indie success for you? Do you find Scouting For Girls just don't appeal to Sports Science students enough? Try The Wombats! They've got a crazeee name! They probably claim they make 'intelligent pop music'! But actually they hate pop music! It's post-modern double-thinkery of the most irritatingly pretentious kind! If they really liked pop music they'd be making exciting, fizzy, dance floor slaying records that sound like Girls Aloud instead of this wonky, humdrum, watered down sub-Young Knives chart alt. rock, and we'd all thank 'em for it! Climaxes in the deployment of a school choir, a pop music tactic which has become something of a cliche of late (see Jamie T), apparently thrown in because the air raid sirens, crowd sfx and kitchen sink couldn't be located.
Lyrics: The real kicker. Chorus: "Let's dance to Joy Division, and celebrate the i-ron-y." There are so many things wrong with this lyric that the mind reels at the kaleidoscopic awfulness of it all. I don't really care what point The Womats are making, I dunno if they're berating clueless hipsters for jiving to Joy Div, or applauding the recontexualisation of Joy Div as indie disco music, whatever, it's all pretty confused and of absolutely of no value to anyone either way. Referencing Joy Division is simply an act of artless clever-cleverness. I mean, come on guys! Joy Division? Is that the best canonised post-punk doomapalooza act you could come up with? Why not Gang Of Four? Caberet Voltaire? Aren't we all sorta over the whole Joy Div thing by now? Even The Killers don't care about 'em anymore! And word to the wise: when you're producing a song as drenched in irony as this, DON'T ACTUALLY USE THE WORD 'IRONY' IN THE LYRICS! It's sorta unnecessary don't ya think? It's like, WE GET IT! You're CONCEPTUAL!
Oh, and anuvva thang: you're from Liverpool. You should sound like The Las. That's the rule. If you don't like it, be from somewhere else.
Labels: Indie Rock 'n' Roll
Beyond The White Album: Top 10 Albums Named After A Colour (But Not, Like, 'Green' by REM, It's Gotta Be A 'The (insert colour) Album' Type Title
.1. The White Album - The Beatles
AKA: The Daddy of colour coded albums. There ain't really nuffin more to say about this double LP, except that any fool who tries to lay the whole "oh, if they'd ditched some of the crap songs it woulda been a brilliant single LP" jive on you is a stone fool - the rummer ditties give the great songs (of which there are way more than on, say, Sgt Peppers) context. It's a collage. It's kaleidoscopic. It's a Fluxus art installation. As Paul McCartney himself says: "It was great, it sold - it's the bloody Beatles' 'White Album'! Shut up!".2. The Black Album - Jay Z
Features '99 Problems,' a Rick Rubin production, and by this writer's estimation the greatest Hip-Hop track of the Noughties. Sampling Billy Squier's 'The Big Beat,' Mountain's 'Long Red,' Ice-T's own '99 Problems' and uncredited portions of Wilson Pickett's 'Engine No 9' and - possibly - NWA's 'Straight Outta Compton', '99 Problems' represents the high watermark of Rubin's thundering, stripped down rock/rap sound, and is guaranteed to fill the dancefloor of any club. Despite claiming this would be his last LP J-Hova has of course returned to the mic, but he's yet to top the monsterous thump of '99 Problems'..3. The Grey Album - Danger Mouse
And whaddya get if you fuse the first two titles in our list together? You get The Grey Album, the mash-up LP which transcends the inherently gimmicky mash-up genre to become a truly great, coherent LP in its' own right, the vocals from Jay Z's 'Black Album' spat over 'White Album' Beatle Beats, to frequently astonishing ends. Pure pop-art, and sure to piss humourless so-called Beatles fans off while delighting real Fabs fanatics who recognise this as a concept Lennon at least woulda surely dug the most. Some tracks work better than others, and one could argue that it's a pretty one sided deal (the Beatles being cut and diced to fit the Jigga Man's rhymes rather than the other way around), but all this is small so much small beer when presented with the LP as a whole. The 99 Problems / Helter Skelter mix is a slam dunk, and the Encore / Glass Onion mix (check this brilliant mash-up video at youtube, featuring a breakdancing Lennon) is as groovy as they come. We all knew that Ringo was a funky muvva..4. The Pink Album - Tuscadero
One of the all-time shoulda-been-huge 90s bands, Washington DC's two girls / two boys Tuscadero (after 'Happy Days' leather bound hottie Pinkie Tuscadero) were indie-bubblegum-poppers par excellence, dealing in a hook heavy, girl-group informed trash racket unburdened of the cynicism of grunge or the sloganeering of Riot Grrrl. With goofy lyrics about boardgames, candy and Nancy Drew, the whole lip gloss and milkshakes thing might be sorta twee if the vibe weren't so damn infectious and, dammit, straight up cool. Guaranteed to give you a sugar rush like two bowls of Fruit Loops..5. The Yellow Album - The Simpsons
Seeing as The Simpsons reference The Beatles almost as frequently as it references Star Wars (in one instance dedicating an entire episode - 'Homers Barbershop Quartet - to a pastiche Beatles history), it makes sense that their second LP should be titled in their honour, and bare Sgt Pepper's aping cover art. While not in the league of 'Songs In The Key Of Spingfield', 'The Yellow Album' contains its' fair share of killer material, the highlights being Barts' 'Love' and Apu's '24 Hours A Day'. (Note: there's another cartoon 'Yellow Album' by Spongebob Squarepants. AVOID.).6. The Black Album - Spinal Tap
Nigel Tufnel: "It's like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.".7. The Off-White Album - Dennis Miller
With a title like that it's gotta be a comedy album, and sure enough that's exactly what it is. Released in 1988, 'The Off-White Album' captures Saturday Night Live alumini Dennis Miller on top form before he had turned into an obnoxious, ranting, right wing reactionary, and stopped being, y'know, funny. Dated somewhat by the source material, but packed with some really great gags (some about 'Smokey & The Bandit', brilliantly) this is a fine late 80s US standup LP, the reputation of which has suffered somewhat due to Miller now being a Bush supporting Republican jackass..8. The Blue Album - Weezer
Like The Fab's 'White Album', geek rocking Weezer's debut has become popularly referred to by it's primary sleeve colour as a consequence of it being an untitled / self titled ('Weezer' by Weezer) LP. Some come-as-absolutely-no-surprise-when-you-learn-them facts about this album: it was produced by new-wave legend Ric Ocasek from The Cars, the 'Happy Days' video for 'Buddy Holly' was directed by Spike Jonze, and the song "In The Garage" includes classic mid-90s slacker references to KISS and The X Men. Of course it does. Of it's type, a wonderful album, since co-opted by alt. rock kids as a key proto-Emo LP..9. The Red Album - Manchester United FC
Subtitle: "A Mancunian Fantasy," though perhaps 'nightmare' might be more accurate. Featuring the hits: "Cantona Superstar" by Her! "Ryan Giggs We Love You" by The Rainbow Choir! And many (Brian) Moore! From what I can glean (which ain't much) this is a 1993 LP which includes a mixture of spoken word from the likes of Bill Shankley, Bobby Charlton etc and a buncha random pop tunes with a Red theme, from the inevitable 'Belfast Boy' (a cover by 'Chocolate Barry' - any ideas?) to Manchester United Calypso by Edric Connor. Sounds like an 'own goal' to me. Ha ha.
.10. The Blue Album - The Beatles
And we'll finish back where we came in, with der Fabs. This choice suggests a debate all of it's own; The Beatles 'Red Album' collects the best (?) of their work released between 1962 and 1966, The Beatles 'Blue Album' gathers together their 1967-1970 output. The question, therefore, is: are you an early period (Red) Beatles fan, or a late period (Blue) Beatles fan? I'm gonna nail my blue flag to the post and go 67-70, for Strawberry Fields Forever, Come Together, I Am The Walrus, Don't Let Me Down and The Ballad Of John & Yoko, but I ain't gonna argue with anyone who'd plump for their early stuff.
With Red, White and Blue Albums to their name, The Beatles are the sho ' nuff masters of The (insert colour) Album, but who else has released awesome LPs in this micro-genre? I know that I've missed a bunch off this list (including a major heavy metal debut), so howsabout you make a few suggestions of your own. Come on guys, "Colour Me Bad!" (Sorry.)
And The Award For Most Pointless Awards Ceremony On The Music Biz Calender Goes To....
THE Q AWARDS! I mean, who cares, right? Who even knew this celeb back-slappingpalooza was happening today? (Apparently it was held at "London’s" Grosvenor House Hotel.) The thing is: what does it matter in 2007 what Q Magazine thinks about anything? Back in the mid-90s Q was a reasonably entertaining rag, well written, funny, never cool per se, but had a certain sardonic charm and as long as there was a decent interview with Noel Gallagher you were pretty happy. In 2007 Q Magazine is basically one long advert for i-tunes, lazily churning out arbitrary ALL TIME TOP 100 GREATEST ROCK SONGS YOU MUST DOWNLOAD (from i-tunes) lists, endless Dave Grohl interviews and throwing Snow Patrol albums 5 star reviews. It is the Bible Of Bland. I don't even know who it's aimed at anymore. £50 Bloke buys Uncut. Klaxons Kid buys The NME. Still Buys Vinyl..uh...Guy reads Mojo. So who reads Q Magazine? Who cares what Q Magazine thinks? And what, therefore, is the value of a Q Award? A top musician getting a Q Award is like a top chef getting a Wimpy Award.
....so, Kylie won the Q Icon Award. With all due respect to Ms Minogue, this was a cynical exploitation of her tabloid column inches grabbing potential, and nothing to do with whatever baloney they span about Kylie's post-Cancer recovery determination to re-launch her career, or, y'know, her music, which has been brilliant on occasion (Slow, Confide In Me) and deserving of recognition in it's own right. As it happens I think Kylie deserves every award going, good luck to her, rather her than the relentlessly dull Manic Street Preachers (Q Magazine stalwarts) who - yawn - won Best Track for "Your Love Alone Is Not Enough," a song which said less about 2007 than the Beaux Tapestry, or The Enemy (Best New Act), who are just plain godawful, and ugly as sin to boot.
Elsewhere, The Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs, Damon Albarn and Ian Brown won awards for various contributions to mainstream indie-rock, Kate Nash & Amy Winehouse picked up awards for actually producing decent pop music ( I know I'm in a minority with this Kate Nash thing, all my mates hate her, but I think she's just fine), Paul McCartney was granted 'Icon' status, because it's a rule that Paul McCartney has to win something at every Q Awards, and Muse won Best Live Act, because it's a rule that Muse win Best Live Act at every awards show, even at non-music award shows like the Booker Prize or The Kings Lynn Annual Sunflower Growing Contest. (For the record, I hate Muse.)
Finally, dig this: The Q Classic Song Award went to...'Local Boy In The Photograph'. By The Stereophonics. I mean, you gotta be kidding me. They pick one song to be The Q Classic Song every year. ONE SONG. There's millions of great songs in the world. Billions. And they choose this, an average late 90s rock song by a band who have never been any good, ever. I mean, shit, why doncha just go ahead and pick The Verve's 'Urban Hymns' as the Q Classic Album and have done with it...oh. You already have. (For the record, I love their first two LPs.) This all gives you some idea of where Q are at in 2007; they're in 1998. And nobody likes 1998. (Paul Fuzz)
Essential Rock 'n' Roll Fashion # 328: The Fat Gold Chain
It's 1984. The Hip-Hop bug has bitten you like a 10 pound cockroach. You've been honing your beat-boxing skillz all week, and your Mum's pissed 'cos you cut a piece of her living room carpet out so you could practise breakin' in the park. You've got a boom-box the size of a Shetland pony, and you're rockin' a fly box-fresh pair of Adidas Gazelles. And yet, despite all this, something's still missing...you're hangin' round the Arndale Centre droppin' some bad (that's bad meaning good, not bad meaning bad) lyrics in the cipher, your graf is on some next level shit, but you still ain't gettin' the props you so clearly deserve. Then it suddenly dawns on you. It don't matter what sort of game you got...if you don't got a Fat Gold Chain. The mighty Run-DMC, pictured here, knew the power of the Fat Gold Chain. This ain't no ordinary bling. This is a huge gold rope around your neck that says: "I'm takin' care of business."
To understand the history of the Fat Gold Chain (or 'Dookie' rope chain), we gotta go back, way back, to the days of Hot Buttered Soul. That's right, we're talkin' Issac Hayes, BLACK MOSES, who was known to 'floss' not just a single Fat Gold Chain, but an entire suit made of 'em. Well, not really a suit. But he wore a bunch of 'em, wrapped round his naked torso like a glittering string vest. Check his performance at Wattstax ("THE BLACK WOODSTOCK") in 1972: here's a dude who knows what's happenin'. For Isaac, the gold chain string vest was a symbol of black power, of in-your-face masculinity. It says: I SHALL FUNK YOUR WORLD.
So when yer back-in-the-day Hip-Hop legends were lookin' to bring some of that ol' funk flava to their style, the Black Moses approved Fat Gold Chain was an obvious accompaniment to a pair of shell-toes and a Kangol hat. The Fat Gold Chain became a status symbol, a statement of wealth, success, of how far you've come in The Game. It says: "I'm getting real paid." Widely popularised by the likes of Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick and Kurtis Blow, and with the look perfected by Run- DMC, in the mid 80s you weren't shit if you weren't rocking a 'dookie' rope chain.
The Fat Gold Chain has become synonymous with a more innocent age, of simpler Hip-Hop times, before shootings, gangsta rap, crack and big money dragged it into a darker place. Consequently The Fat Gold Chain is an item remembered fondly, evoked in lyrics by many contemporary rappers with an air of wistful nostalgia. Modern bling culture may have produced some wonderful accessories (Ghostface Killer's Golden Eagle amulet springs instantly to mind), but the definitive, original piece of Hip-Hop bling, shall forever be The Fat Gold Chain.
"fascinated by gold rope chains
looking back at my hood days
but things ain't changed." - Nas, 'Kids In The PJs'
George 'Shadow' Morton: The Trash Pop King Of New York
George 'Shadow' Morton:
This guy wrote wrote & produced, among other melodramatic teen-pop masterpieces, 'Walking In The Sand' and 'Leader Of The Pack' by The Shangri-Las. 'Leader Of The Pack' - featuring talky gossipy girl bits, motorcycle sound effects bits and lasting 2:53 minutes is: The Perfect Pop Song. Then the other day I learnt that he produced proto-heavy rock combo Vanilla Fudge's first two LPs, including their insane hammond powered psyche-soul version of 'You Keep Me Hanging On', and even though Der Fudge couldn't write a decent tune for toffee, I've always thought their SOUND was just incredible, massive drums, loadsa overdriven organ, fuzz guitar, I mean, it's like a PASTICHE of that sorta sound almost, it's a huge, OTT sound, and when I learnt 'Shadow' Morton was the architect of this sound I was like "Oh, MAN! This guy's A TOTAL GENIUS! Of COURSE he produced the first two Vanilla Fudge LPs! The Shangri-Las and Vanilla Fudge! WHAT ELSE DID HE DO?" Then I wikipedia the guy and find he produced 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida' by Iron Butterfly! OF COURSE HE DID! I mean, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida is pretty much the shlockiest, dirgiest hunk of boneheaded hippyspoiltation psychedelia ever produced, even more so than der Fudge, I mean it's like, what, 17 minutes long or whatever, BUT - like Der Fudge's 'You Keep Me Hanging On' and 'Leader Of The Pack' - it is Pure A1 High Trash of the finest quality, has that ace, if incredibly over-repeated riff, and has earnt a special place in American Pop Culture. Then I read on a bit further and it turns out he produced THE SECOND NEW YORK DOLLS RECORD! Which, to be fair, pretty much sucked. But that wasn't George's fault. And producing The New York Dolls even if the album sucked is still really cool. George 'Shadow' Morton is The King Of The Really Great / Dead Trashy American Pop Record! AND his name is SHADOW MORTON! The COOLEST name EVER! I'm gonna start a Shangri-Las meets Vanilla Fudge garage-soul band and call 'em The Shadow Mortons! "THEY'RE LIKE THE SHANGR-LA'S...ON ACID!" I'd go and see a Shangri-Las meets Vanilla Fudge band called The Shadow Mortons! Wouldn't you?