Thursday, 30 April 2009

Ostrich feathers, anyone?

WELL HELLO and welcome to the world of Brenda Dickson. Lacking inspiration for your summer style? Don't worry, because "in shopping, you'll find your eye will be drawn to the things you like". Teleport into Brenda's closet now and absorb some other essential pearls of wisdom. This is a very dramatic video, full of style ideas and hundreds of quotes. I can't decide if my favourite ensemble is the lace dress (it's a nice look, isn't it?) or the bugle beads (notice the slit?).

I feel a new obsession arising. If you do too, I recommend her blog. The new video, Brenda's Back In Hollywood makes for interesting viewing, and her advice on combatting suicide is enlightening...

"One of my fans has written a suicidal help note!!! That's an urgent matter. I do happen to have some good advice (this advice can be used by all my fans). It will work if you do it, and, you must promise to try. Ready? First stop by your nearest GNC Store, buy a box of vitamins, the kind they sell in packets..."

Monday, 27 April 2009

Quarteto Em Cy

Quarteto Em Cy was a Brazilian girl group formed by four sisters, Cybele, Cylene, Cynara and Cyra in the early 1960s. The group is still together, but one of them has been replaced by someone called Sonya. 

Wicked She Wicked

"Mi favourite game, always bingo"

Gee Whizz

Following my earlier post on love songs, I have since found what I think is one of the best love songs ever written. And when I say love song this time I mean a song about love and being in love, the good side. "There's A Difference" is sung by William Edward John, better known as Little Willie John a baby faced 5ft 4 American soul singer from the 1950's and early 60's. He is best known for the song "I'm Shakin' " though his biggest hit was the song "Fever" which was later made famous by Peggy Lee. Fleetwood Mac also recorded a version of "Need Your Love So Bad".

Signed to King Records at the age of 18 he went on to have a string of succesful songs in the R&B charts over the next 6 years. His recording career was cut short when at the age of 29 he was convicted of manslaughter after being involved in a fatal stabbing after a show in Seattle. He was subsequently sent to Washington State Prison where he sadly died two years later of a heart attack. Due to this short career span he is one of the lesser known soul singers of his time however he inspired some of the best such as Sam Cooke and James Brown, who recorded a tribute album to him, to name but a few.  

"There's A Difference" is my favourite of all his songs I've heard, partly because I think it showcases his voice beautifully, partly because I'm a sucker for a good horn section but mainly because of the lyrics which though short and simple are possibly some of the most romantic ever. Besides anyone who can sing "geewhizz" with such panache is a winner in my book. 

I wanted to insert a video but unfortunately my technical know-how is limited and I can't do that however click here to listen to "There's A Difference". Listen out also for the casual slip in of "honeychild" a lovely term of endearment if ever there was one.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Musical Memories

Everyone remembers the first album they bought themselves, mine was a tape of Michael Jackson's ''Thriller'' that I got on one of my Dad and I's Saturday adventures. Adventures with Dad always meant a little treat at some point bought conspiratorially together, whether it was a slice from Pizza Maletti's or something made of plaster, glitter and sea shells. I remember that thrill the day, aged 8, I chose "Thriller from the box of tapes by the counter of one of the second hand record shops on Berrick St. The start of my musical collection.

To this day the tape still resides in on of the shoe boxes of tapes my hoarding family haven't thrown out. Over christmas I was home and staying in the spare room where the sound system has all but broken except for the tape deck. So it was that I found myself on Christmas Eve wrapping presents to the sounds of 'Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'', 'P.Y.T', 'Beat It' and the rest. The whole box was full of sounds of my childhood, everything from my Dad's BB King and Paul Weller  to my mum's Joan Osbourne and a Lady Sings the Blues tape that was a summer holiday car essential. Listening to the these once such loved songs I was taken aback by how strong the memories triggered by each of them were. Also at how to this day I still know all the words to Simply Red's Fairground due to my Mum's minor obsession at one point, despite the fact that Mick Hucknall is arguably the most repulsive man ever. Rodriguez was summer in France, Van Morrison rainy sundays making dens, The Lion King soundtrack recalling my sister's epic reenactments of the scene where baby Simba is held aloft before all the animals.

These tapes with their cracked plastic cases and little plastic cogs that I now can only wind up with my little finger are tiny glimpses at childhood. This is the same for so many albums, songs or snippets of music. Cat Power's 'The Greatest' reminds me of my halls in first year. Usher 'You Make Me Wanna' the beginning of secondary school, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Toni Braxton the start of an ongoing obsession with female vocalists. This the sound of a friday night. 

That's partly what makes music powerful, what it triggers, what it evokes. Yeah, so The Spice Girls weren't exactly lyrical or muscial geniuses but you start singing 'Wannabe' to any girl between the ages of 24 and 20 and they will join in and be able to finish off the line. Music's not just about the best guitar line ever written or a killer vocal, it's also that song that comes on someone else's itunes that you haven't heard in years, an album playing in a shop that reminds you of home, hell it might even be the jazzy tones of a ginger dreadlocked lothario.

Exploding Plastic Inevitable

Continuing along the Andy Warhol theme – the extrovert outsider. For anybody fortunate enough to have visited Tate Liverpool’s Summer of Love exhibition in the summer of 05, you may well remember the recreation of Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable. What can only be described as a hedonistic fantasy discotheque world, Warhol screened a collection of his films alongside live music from The Velvet Underground & Nico (see debut album) and conjured up a psychedelic drug fuelled environment/installation through a heavy marriage of sound and light. This is a mere token exert: Venus in Furs.


Sunday, 19 April 2009

Amazing Grace

Written by Englishman John Newton, Amazing Grace first appeared in print in 1779. First recorded in 1922 by Brunswick Records it has since become most recognised as a classic gospel spiritual. It's been recorded by as wide a range of artists as you could think of, from classic gospel versions to a bagpipe version by the 'Dropkick Murphys' a Boston Irish punk band. In my eyes it's arguably the best gospel song ever though I do waver between it and 'His Eye Is On The Sparrow'. 

Here are some of my favourite recordings:

Everyone knows she literally can barely put a foot wrong in my book and I do recommend her at any occasion but this had to be included. The timing on this version is ridiculously good. 

The queen of gospel some say, that could be debatable but this version is classic and the piano behind her is wonderfully epic and flourishing. Plus her voice is just incredible especially around 3.40 into this video.

This isn't to everyone's taste, he does tend to warble all over the place but I love his voice and if there's organ involved I'm sold.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Guitar Boy

Follow the moves wherever possible and learn some High-Life hops for the mixtapes below.

Sir Victor Uwaifo's CV.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Truly Awesome

This has literally made me the happiest girl alive over the last week, I advise the senegalese rap compilation and the Mali post below it. Possibly the best thing on the internet along with BBC iplayer and The Guardian/Observer. Thank you Joe.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

You Got The Love

Last night I got asked what my favourite love song was. Now generally those kind of questions enrage me beyond belief, how is anyone supposed to pick their "favourite song of all time" or "the best break-up song ever written"? Ridiculous.
However this got me thinking about what classes as a love song? About 70% of my favourite songs are about heartbreak and unrequited love but I have been hard-pressed to find songs about actually being in love. Does the fact that some songs are about the end of love or the destruction of love stop them from being love songs? 
Laura Barton recently wrote an article in the Guardian about "God Only Knows" by The Beach Boys being one of the most "shimmeringly perfect love songs" because as Wilson put it, "it's terrifying that you go into love so blindly but in that blindness you can see that you are who you are because of someone else". What made "God Only Knows" so perfect was that it expressed the doubt and the fear of falling in love without disputing the fact that being in love felt amazing. For me that is what a great love song is, one that shows you the pain and the fear and then tells you that it's all worth while. I can believe in songs like that, that don't deny the element of heartbreak in relationships, because we can't deny that it's not there but that doesn't mean it's not worth it.

Here's a few songs that are definitely worth it.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

I Was Just Sitting Here Thinking...

You can never have enough soul. Recently due to a chance acquaintance I have found myself raking through my soul collection and I have been rediscovering some gems that I'd forgotten all about. I have thus been inspired to share. 

I can only find two songs by her but when one of them has this lazy honey vocal coming in over the upbeat horns and backing singers it's enough.

Just listen to the opening of this video when it's just him and a bit of guitar and a smattering of bass. Though I apologise in advance for his suit.

The "Soul Queen of New Orleans" will always be one of my number ones. I could have picked any number of her songs but this one just seemed appropriate for a rainy day.

His voice just makes me feel like I'm all cocooned and besides I'm a sucker for a bit of a bass line, something that sounds like spangles and a splash of flute.

You can't do a list like this without Etta and though I admit Beyonce pulls it out the bag she'll never touch this. A close contender for my all-time favourite song.

The list could go on but I'll save some for another rainy day...

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Ghetto Gospel

I stumbled across this absolute gem at a lock-in where I work.  Whilst everyone was drinking themselves into a stupor I was taken aback by what seemingly was one of my friends course textbooks but as it turns out, probably one of the most captivating books I ever set my wee blinkers on.

Simply named, 'Ghetto'  the book is divided into sections such as, Prison, Marriage and the most intense Mental Institutions and shows all aspects of ghetto life through photographs and interviews. 

Now I don't know a lot about cameras but the photos in the book are some of the most stark and real that I've ever seen.  It literally feels like your looking into the souls of these people, like they've been taken with some crazy ghost buster type contraption and at times it made me a little uneasy.  

Maybe its the fact that these characters come to life when set against their bleak backgrounds, hospital wards and prison walls are their canvas and what they have created is themselves, their existence, their personality.

All of the photos are accompanied with captions about the subject, questions are posed and the answers emulate the truth of the photographs, sometimes shocking but always thought-provoking, I laughed and at times blubbed my way from cover to cover.

Rafael, a patient in an asylum in Cuba was asked, 
"What are you scared of Rafael?"  
"I'm afraid of the outside." He replied. 
"Because Rafael is there and I don't want to see him."
"But you are Rafael"
"Now you understand what I'm scared of..."

This book in simultaneously intense, heart-warming, thought provoking but above all an EPIC read.  Definitely one for the collection. Its by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin.