A word of warning: this article mainly talks about the novel ‘Pincher Martin’ – and I have stubbornly tried to do so without including any real spoilers. To make a few points about William Golding’s writing in general, though, I have been more open about what happens in his most famous book ‘Lord of the Flies’. It’s one of modern fiction’s monster bestsellers and has (to my knowledge) chalked up two films and a stage adaptation, so I’m hoping you’ve crossed swords with the story at some point. If you’ve yet to discover ‘Lord of the Flies’, please go and read that instead of this, with my blessing.
Indie Wonderland as produced and presented by Juliet Harris for Barricade Radio broadcast live on 22 April 2015. The Long Song belongs to Electrelane and the second hour of the show is given over to Bunch Of Fives including a number of excellent listener suggestions!
Speaking of which, please suggest 3 songs that are anywhere between 5 mins and 5 mins 59 seconds long via email to firstname.lastname@example.org ta!
The latest installment of the finest indie podcast on the internet. Stream it, share it, love it – this is Indie Wonderland 25, with Juliet Harris. Earlier episodes are also available here.
As we established on this week’s podcast, there’s a something particularly alluring about the rock and roll bass player. And sadly, one of the best took his leave of us this week. Andy Fraser played his first show with Free at just 15 years of age, immediately ensuring his name as a great musician and star. Here he is in conversation with Terry Rawlings of Delicious Junction, last year.
Of course, everybody knew Nile Rodgers (and his musical partner, the late Bernard Edwards) had the magic touch, the very second they heard Chic. Or indeed works by Sister Sledge, David Bowie or Madonna. But nobody predicted the resurgence of Rogers in the second decade of the 21st century. And yet here he is, motoring on from those delicious Daft Punk licks to a brand new Chic collection, which he explains in this documentary. Viva Nile! The once and future funky king.
It’s the voice, isn’t it? Piercing the eighties and nineties, that unmistakable falsetto became the trademark of first Bronski Beat, then The Communards. Jimmy Somerville is certainly one of pop’s most distinctive vocalists. A solo artist since the end of the latter group, Jimmy’s been busy recently – and is on the cusp of releasing a new album ‘Homage’. Here he is, fully bewhiskered and talking about the track ‘This Hand’.
This week the UK Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, spoke at the launch of the ‘Your Life’ campaign, which encourages young people to think about choosing maths and science subjects as a route to their future.
The rationale behind this is what the government calls ‘STEM’ (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) – subjects she believes give young people an easier and more fruitful route into employment and a career. In her speech, Morgan stated this:
‘Even a decade ago, young people were told that maths and the sciences were simply the subjects you took if you wanted to go into a mathematical or scientific career, if you wanted to be a doctor, or a pharmacist, or an engineer.
‘But if you wanted to do something different, or even if you didn’t know what you wanted to do, and let’s be honest – it takes a pretty confident 16-year-old to have their whole life mapped out ahead of them – then the arts and humanities were what you chose. Because they were useful for all kinds of jobs.
‘Of course now we know that couldn’t be further from the truth, that the subjects that keep young people’s options open and unlock doors to all sorts of careers are the STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and maths.’
As someone with an arts degree, who has forged a long and successful career in a creative industry, I take serious issue with Morgan’s assessment of the reason people choose arts subjects.
At a young age, I will concede, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. But let’s face it – who does?
Now the BBC has appropriated ‘God Only Knows’ for its campaign for BBC Music, everyone will know the song. Everyone will be singing it too, even if they’ve no idea who Brian Wilson is, or have never heard of Pet Sounds.
This may not be such a bad thing if it prompts people to explore The Beach Boys’ work, or even to discover it for the first time. Many have never moved beyond their ‘Best of’ tracks, but 50 years of recording history goes far richer and deeper than that. Delving into their more obscure output is an ideal way to discover just who this band really are, and who they became after they left their surf boards behind. Here then, is my best of the rest.
The Editor writes: Over on the Twitter, friend of the parish Mr. Venning has been keeping the world entertained by compiling a definitive list of the best debut albums in history; or at least his definitive list. It’s a thing of beauty and scope, with the key track from each collection identified, and we’re delighted to reproduce it, in all its glory, right here. (Join the conversation on the Twitter using #Top50DebutLPsWLAT)
Sometimes, the word ‘repetitive’ is used dismissively of a track, an album or even a whole body of work, or genre. As if it’s a bad thing. Somehow suggesting a lack of ideas, or creativity. I remember ‘The Adults’ telling the teenage me how ‘repetitive’ all my records were, although the fact they were saying essentially the same thing to me, over and over again, didn’t strike them as odd at the time.
I’ve never considered repetition – or more accurately, I suppose, ‘repetitiveness’ – as a negative trait in itself. I believe that even those of us immersed in free jazz, or avant-garde atonal classical music, will always, at times, appreciate and respond to a hook, riff or motif. But recently, after listening really closely to some of my favourite musicians, (who write songs or compositions and develop them to play live, solo, using looping technology), it struck me that repetition as a technique (rather than simply a by-product), can so often be a springboard for musical problem-solving, moments of pure joy and tricks on the ear.
I spoke to Mark on the recent promotional tour for his autobiography. After briefly bumping into him in the centre of Altrincham, as he excitedly sought out a branch of Greggs (“they don’t have these places in London!” proclaimed the indefatigable Ellen) we reconvene a little later, post-pasty.
So Mark, let’s start with the beginning of ‘Word’ magazine. How did the idea come about?
David Hepworth had the original idea. I was still working at EMAP and there had been an almighty internal collapse which I allude to in my book. We just wanted to escape – and fast. Dave left and had started his own publishing company, Development Hell. He rang me up one day and said “I’m starting a project, why don’t you come and work on it with me?” For some reason I said no – I really don’t know why I did. I was involved in a whole ton of magazines that I was trying to launch at EMAP and I didn’t want to leave those projects, I wasn’t really thinking it through.
by The Rocking Vicar: It’s not all high-jinks and hits in the pop game, y’know. Most bands have a shelf-life, and when the expiry date on your gang of guitar-slingers arrives, you’ll need a way to pay the rent.
Solo albums? Well, possibly. But their success is far from guaranteed. So here’s ten popsters who quit the biz and took the ‘proper job’ their mum’s always thought they should.
Hoorah! iPhone users can now enjoy the Parish Counsel podcasts as a free app. Just point your phone’s browser to http://rockingvicar.podbean.
Absolutely free of charge.
by The Rocking Vicar: Crowd sourcing – that’s a thing, right? Good. Because we’ve been doing some crowd sourcing. Prompted by a common household accident – knocking the first CD off the shelf when fumbling for the light switch – we thought we’d ask the parish to compile a playlist.
Figuring most right-minded folk store their CDs and vinyl in strict alphabetical order (let’s not dwell on the appalling habits of @raineymouse), we insisted our Twitter followers tell us the name of the first disc in their collection. The albums or acts which featured most frequently would bag more tracks on the playlist than others.
It was fun and a big thanks to all who took part. The results are below (don’t forget to scroll) and we apologise for the lack of AC/DC, who have no material on Spotify:
Your Rocking Vicar – March 2014
by Juliet Harris: When you read about music and write about music and talk about music and play music and basically live music, sometimes it feels like you’ve heard it all. And that you’re meant to have heard it all.
Good news – you haven’t.
As somebody that’s meant to have done the whole indie/alt thing to death, of COURSE I know who Sonic Youth are. They’re one of those bands that I like the sound of and therefore like, as they’re ‘one of the ones’. Cool, gnarly, on a major label for a bit but still not quite managing to sell-outy, cool female rock icon-featury, proper-musicky. But have I actually listened to them properly?
Good news – I haven’t.
I heard Sugar Kane today. Oh My Lord, for the first time today I heard Sugar Kane today.
It starts off, with Lee Ranaldo’s twitchy, impatient guitars desperately trying to slip their leash, being egged on by the drums. It sounds like it’s going to be a proper, snarling monster…
Good news – it isn’t.
It slips into this nice, spiky groove. Kim Gordon’s bass, like her, sounds like the coolest thing you ever heard. I’m cross that I haven’t properly heard it before. How did I miss this? I can however take comfort in what it is – an immensely fine record.
We get two and a bit minutes of this pretty good, vaguely-brainy, indie rock you can nod along in dive bars to, whilst wearing sunglasses. Cool. At this point, most songs of this ilk would start fading away, gracefully, dizzy with a sense of their own coolness.
Good news – this doesn’t.
The guitars and drums start to build, as they did at the beginning. So this is the bit where it peaks and then finishes, right?
Good news – it isn’t.
They do build. And they build. And they BUILD. I’m chuckling deep, rich, satisfying laughter. They push against everything. It sounds like Steve Shelley’s drums are going to lift off the stage. Actually, scrub that – it sounds like his drums are going to lift off the planet. It is possibly one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever heard.
I can’t really tell you what the next bit of the song does – I’m too busy being absolutely captivated by this experience that can’t be explained by notes, chords or words.
Finally, it locks back in to what it did at the beginning. But thrumming with the knowledge of the places we went together during THAT middle bit.
I sort of knew this record up until half an hour ago. But I hadn’t really heard it.
And there’s a thing. One attitude could be “But this came out in 1992. That was 22 years ago. Where is today’s exciting record?”
The answer is that it’s there, or about to be there. You just haven’t heard it yet; which means that you’re going to hear it. And feel everything that comes with hearing a record that takes all your feelings and emotions and throws them up in the air, like confetti.
Isn’t that possibly one of the most exciting you’ve heard in ages?
Also, really Good News.
Juliet Harris – March 2014
by Rhona Martin: Our Rhona picks an alternative top twelve of Christmas songs. Just click to listen to ’em all on Spotify and YouTube.
by John Medd Time was (circa 1950s & 1960s) when any bloke would have felt naked unless he were wearing a mohair suit. From ‘The Rat Pack’ to ‘Angry Young Men’ and beyond – Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Kingsley Amis, Sean Connery, and Michael Caine to name but a handful of snappy dressers – a mohair whistle was the last word in couture. When Sinatra stood at the microphone with a lit cigarette and tumbler of bourbon, it was impossible to take your eyes off him. Him and his (Around) Midnight Blue mohair suit.
by The Rocking Vicar You’ve read your Mojo, you’ve read your Q, even an old NME you found on the train. But why so predictable, friend? Expand your horizons, take a chance and live on the wild side – because, for all the talk of a crisis in the print magazine business, you can still subscribe to these beauties …
by Philip Bryer My mummy says I’m a miracle. Yes, I was that soldier. Just the other week I heard these opening lines as I sat in the Cambridge Theatre in the heart of London’s ‘glittering’ West End at the matinee showing of the musical adaptation of the great Roald Dahl’s story ‘Matilda‘. Did you pick up the key word there? The key word was ‘musical’. For, having let out a deep and resigned sigh as I cast my gaze around the place at 14:25, or as we theatrical experts might put it, 5 minutes before the horror begins, I started to think this might have not been quite the A1, 5-star, number one, double-first plan after all.
by Shane Kirk Our correspondent is a hard-working member of the band Songs From The Blue House. Here he relates some of the less traditional ‘instruments’ which have accompanied the group’s performances over the years:
We invited a drummer to the studio to overdub percussion on some pre-recorded tracks that included what we liked to call feel, groove and light & shade. Or, as our ever-patient engineer, said: “Sections where you get to the choruses and speed up because you get a bit too excited”.
Either way, we asked our guest to play ‘a sort of chiming, repetitive sound’ on one song and for some reason suggested the effect could be achieved by suspending some forks on threads and striking them with a bread knife. We picked the ideal microphone to capture this effect, isolated the booth and overdubbed the track with some spoons to fatten up the sound. After two hours at this, a bored guitarist playing with the controls on the electronic drum kit, suddenly found a setting marked ‘triangle’.