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Archive for June, 2009

My sister made this one-minute experimental film back in 2004 when she was in high school. It’s called “The Imagination of a Child”.

You’ll notice some of my highly technical acting skills half a minute in. The two other clowns are my Dad and my older brother Mark.

Classic work Jess – you little champion. Catch you wednesday.

Hopefully more short films to come soon.

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Love it.

The first one is from 1993, and pairs De La Soul with Scottish rock band Teenage Fanclub. It comes from a soundtrack to a 90s flick which featured collaborations between hip hop and rock musicians. This is one of the singles from that record.

The second is from 2009 (I think). A hilarious moment with Q Tip from A Tribe called Quest. Notice Kanye West in the background flipping out about Q Tip’s needle skills. Shout out to Nick Bultmann who put me onto this. Hilarious.

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I really like both these songs from this year.

Both come off albums that received plenty of positive press earlier in the year. Enjoy.

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This is a cover of a Nine Inch Nails song. The original song was the final track on their “Downward Spiral” album, which is known to be one of the more difficult popular albums from the last 20 years.

Johnny Cash had a hit with this song in 2002 and would die a year later at the age of 71. A significant chunk of his final recordings found him covering many songs of the grunge and post-grunge movements. It was in this context that he performed and recorded this song.

The song and video reflect on one’s mortality through Cash’s own approaching death. Some of the visuals are ambiguous, but this only enhances this quite amazing clip. It is both a tribute to a great artist, and a treatment on the theme of mortality.

The visuals are resonant on their own, but intertwined with the melancholically powerful music and lyrics, Cash does something quite profound, not frequently seen in this form of media. He says something about life. The lyrics speak on themes like drug addiction and regret, both surely things Cash had reflected on during his own career and life.

This is the type of performance that popular music cries out for. Something meaningful.

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Bruce Springsteen, AKA The Boss, knows how to rock. This video was filmed for the Old Grey Whistle Test, a BBC television program of the seventies. Though this (“Rosalita”) is not one of his most famous songs (it comes from one of his very early records), the footage itself is absolutely amazing (and hilarious).

The Boss had just released two classic albums (“Born to Run” and “Darkness on the Edge of Town”) and was just about to bring out what many believe to be his best (“The River”). Though the musical area he was working in at the time was not obviously rubbing shoulders with the late 70s zeitgeist (the then popular punk movement), this song suggests his live act had both the energy and hooks of something more than dad rock.

Added to this was the fact that Springsteen was also offering his writing services to some of the “cooler” musicians of 70s. No, i’m not thinking of Manfred Mann (though “Blinded by the Light” is a classic piece of Springsteen gold). Patti Smith was one of the significant precursors to the whole punk sound, and her”Because the Night” was her only big hit, and it was pure Boss.

But I digress. “Rosalita” offers up some essential Springsteen. With a fully fledged rocking band (including obligatory big black dude on sax) and an over-appreciative audience, you’ve got the vital ingredients for a classic piece of archival footage. One does wonder how much of this was staged for the sake of the cameras, but when it’s this good, it’s hard to complain. 

Staged or not, Springsteen is charisma times ten here. The way he deals with his affectionate fans is quite sweet. But the fact that he still manages to ramble across the stage with his guitar is the real treat here.

What a legend. Long live the boss.

 

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From the majestic year that was 1979 comes arguably Blondie’s finest moment, “Heart of Glass”. This was one of four hits that came off their classic “Parallel Lines” album.

Blondie were the classic new wave band. Take a dose of pop, add a sprinkling of punk attitude, and finish off with a charismatic front person; these were the vital ingredients for a spicy late 70s musical recipe. Deborah Harry was the archetypal female singer of her (and any other for that matter) generation. After mentioning my fascination with Peter Hook from New Order earlier, I also concede to having had a huge crush on Ms Harry for a number of years during my undergraduate years at university. She was quite a fetching lass, especially so in this period, when her fashion sense matched her spunk. Though she hasn’t aged so well, back in 1979 Deborah Harry was uber cool and effortlessly hot.

This clip came during the heyday of disco, and was filmed in the then famous Studio 54 club. The story that goes with this clip (once told by 90s dance guru, Moby) is worth hearing. Rumour has it the video was filmed the night after the whole band had had a big night out, which accounts for the disinterested looks of most of the members, especially Deborah Harry – they were all suffering from significant hangovers.

The song itself incorporates disco influences into its sound, but the band are more than willing to have a laugh about this (note proliferation of oversized disco balls in clip).

Blondie would go on to have a number of other huge hits after this, including “Rapture” and “The Tide is High”, but “Heart of Glass” is still the classic it was thirty years ago.  

Hope you enjoy this classic. Two more to come.

 

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Before Jonathon Demme made “The Silence of the Lambs” with Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster, he was an uber-hip film maker. He directed this video for New Order at the height of his coolness in 1985.

Meanwhile, New Order were in some ways at the height of their musical powers. Joy Division had ended in 1980 with the death of Ian Curtis, and since then the remaining members (plus one) had formed New Order and released three albums – one transition record (“Movement”), one classic (“Power, Corruption and Lies), one critically acclaimed (“Low Life”). “The Perfect Kiss” is an extended single of one of the tracks from the latter album. It is, I reckon, their finest moment – a nine and a half epic and a dance classic.

A confession is in order though. When I first came across this video in the late nineties I developed a mild non-sexual crush on the bassist for New Order, Peter Hook. His half-unshaven features, his leather jacket (flip!) and, most of all, his bass playing, made me think he must be the coolest guy alive.

New Order used the bass in a way that few bands had previously. Instead of it being a rhythm instrument, it played the melody (best seen 1:40 into this clip). Because of this, the bass plays a very key role in New Order’s sound and is largely the focus of the band’s music. Added to this was Hooky’s (as he is affectionately known) low strung stance with the bass, way before Krist Novaselic from Nirvana made it look cool for the 90s kids. Rumour has it that Hooky saw a Sex Pistols gig in the late 70s, and imitated Sid Vicious’ look.

Finally, the clip is a beautiful example of how to showcase a band’s strengths. It gives a viewer greater understanding of how densely arranged popular music can be, especially when electronics are fused with traditional rock.

So put on some dancing shoes and turn this one up.

 

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