Grant Morrison (left) and Rian Hughes, ca. 1991.
(photo by John R. Ward)
Unfortunately, it kind of backfired on us because nobody could pronounce it or spell it. Eventually, when we had contracts for shows and were dealing with a booking agent, we had something in the contract that said, “Here’s how it’s spelled. If you spell it wrong on the flier, we’re going to fine you $50.” Of course, nobody ever paid any attention to that; they’d just go ahead and spell it wrong. Though in German, it is grammatically incorrect, so I don’t know if Diane got it wrong, or we got it wrong or what. It’s something to do with crossing over, but it should be “der” kreuzen instead of “die.” Or something like that.
The above image of two-year-old James Bulger being led to his torture and death has haunted me since the first time I saw it.
On 21 June 2010, Venables was charged with possession and distribution of indecent images of children. It was alleged that he had downloaded 57 indecent images of children over a 12-month period to February 2010, and allowed other people to access the files through a peer-to-peer network.
For the past few days I’ve been halfheartedly involved in a message board thread about favorite Elvis Costello albums (I say ‘halfheartedly’ but in one of my posts I refer to Rhino’s EC reissues going out of print as ‘the great travesty of the cd era’ so, you know, it’s possible to quibble over my definition of that term).
Discussions of favorite Elvis Costello album bore me for the same reason as discussions of favorite Rolling Stones albums: while opinions vary, they vary within an extremely specific frame of reference. I can’t imagine there’s anyone putting Steel Wheels at the top of their Stones list, and likewise I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone name as their favorite Costello album anything after Blood & Chocolate. No surprises from this year’s girl, or last year’s girl, or next year’s.
This is not to say that I disagree with the crowd; my own favorite is Imperial Bedroom, followed very closely by Get Happy!!,This Year’s Model, Trust, and Armed Forces, in some order. Were I to see someone trying to make a case for, say, The Juliet Letters as Costello’s best, I’d immediately dismiss them for trying too hard. (That said, I do enjoy The Juliet Letters for the trifling, inconsequential novelty that it is.)
All of this is a very long-winded way of saying that while Costello’s overall best work inarguably comes from his first decade (as does his worst album, the universally-reviled Goodbye Cruel World), I have a soft spot for a pretty substantial number of his later songs, exemplified by the above clip, a performance of ‘Little Atoms’ from the revered Larry Sanders Show. I’m sure I’m not alone in enjoying this version much more than the one that’s on All This Useless Beauty; it strips away the excessive adult contemporary flourishes that have marred far too many of Costello’s songs since he started ‘maturing,’ leaving only the simplicity of a beautifully written lyric and an acoustic guitar melody that, while not exactly innovative, accomplishes exactly what it needs to do without making a big fuss (see also: the alternate versions on the Rhino version of the aforementioned Goodbye Cruel World).
Also, Jeffrey Tambor is fucking hilarious in that clip.
Jimmy Fallon’s music booker, Jonathan Cohen, rightly gets a great deal of praise for the quality of guests he brings to Late Night, but I don’t think it’s taking anything away from him to acknowledge that he has the advantage of working at a time when whatever boundaries separating what we’ll call “indie” and “mainstream” music were obliterated years ago. Hal Willner didn’t have that luxury when he booked David Sanborn’s and Jools Holland’s short-lived late night program, Night Music (originally entitled Sunday Night), which aired for two years starting in 1988. Of course, Willner was working with a different sort of advantage: Night Music aired so late on Sunday night that one gets the sense that the network just gave him free reign, assuming nobody was watching, and that led to some wildly creative bookings.*
The video above, of The Residents (or someone purporting to be The Residents, at any rate), bopping along in the background as Conway Twitty performs, is unusual, but by the standards of Night Music it wasn’t that unusual. The show unsurprisingly focused quite a bit on jazz, but Willner had broad latitude to book a diverse group of artists including The Residents, Diamanda Galas, John Zorn, Pere Ubu, Christian Marclay, and Sun Ra, all of whom not only would have had trouble getting on TV back then but, arguably, would have the same trouble now.
Even if you take issue with the bookings themselves, or with the collaborations that the show sometimes tried a little too hard to make work, it’s hard not to admire the “who gives a fuck, nobody’s watching anyway” attitude that the show’s bookings reflected. Was anyone clamoring for late night sets from Marclay, Squeeze**, Todd Rundgren, the Pat Metheny Group, and Taj Mahal in 1990? Well, Night Music had them on anyway — on the same episode. When Sonic Youth appeared on Night Music in 1989***, Daydream Nation was only a year old; they wouldn’t release their DGC debut until the following year, and they wouldn’t truly break through to anything like mainstream consciousness until after Nirvana hit it big.
This isn’t about nostalgia, per se; I was 12 years old when Night Music went off the air and had no idea it existed until something like two years ago, but it’s difficult to watch clips of these old performances and not feel that the modern TV musical performance is missing something. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that the Menomenas and Ra Ra Riots of the world can get a shot at playing stages that in 1989 were mostly reserved for bands with exponentially larger audiences (well, great for them anyway), but can you imagine being young, and being up late at night on a Sunday and seeing the Pixies blow through “Monkey Gone to Heaven” and “Tame” in what was probably their first US TV appearance ever? The clip below is not exactly prime Pere Ubu, but if I’d seen it when I was 12, I would have freaked the fuck out.
No offense to Cohen (the guy got Jawbox to reunite specifically for him, for Christ’s sake), but I doubt I can say that about any of his bookings for Fallon. There are obviously a lot of things that go into that, not the least of which is that kids these days (wow, I don’t think I’d ever used that phrase in earnest until this sentence) simply do not discover or consume music in the same way that I did. Nevertheless, when I watch Night Music clips of David Thomas flailing around on that shitty stage; Marclay wringing pained squeals out of other people’s records on four turntables; Diamanda Galas doing what Diamanda Galas does; or even the unbelievably awkward spectacle of Todd Rundgren performing a song from H.M.S. Pinafore with Taj Mahal, there’s a sense of real risk that just doesn’t happen in today’s pre-packaged album-cycle indie rock promo revolving door. Like I said, it doesn’t make me nostalgic, but maybe I wish it did.
* He also booked Stevie Ray Vaughan and Ray Manzarek. The guy wasn’t infallible.
** Yes, I know Jools Holland was in Squeeze.
*** Their performance of “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” which, like many Night Music clips, has recently been taken off of YouTube, is worth seeking out for multiple reasons, not the least of which is the sight of a game Sanborn & band jamming with an equally game SY (making their first network TV appearance).
I’m not really sure what to say about this latest manifestation of my compulsion to string songs together for an hour or so and call the results ‘mixes.’ If by chance you’ve listened to more than one of the ones I’ve posted, you’ll have noticed that a hallmark of them is that I set a mood and then destroy it multiple times over their running time. This one is no different.
There’s a vaguely nocturnal theme with a lot of these songs but I didn’t think too hard about it and neither should you.
00:00-4:25: R. Buckminster Fuller - “Everything I Know, Session 1 (excerpt)”
1:32-5:18: His Name Is Alive - “Caroline”
4:25-15:42: Burger/Ink - “Twelve Miles High”
14:48-20:30: Abe Vigoda - “Wild Heart”
20:05-22:24: Aix Em Klemm - “The Luxury of Dirt”
22:02-25:29: Holy Other - “Know Where”
25:23-27:31: Roy Orbison - “Running Scared”
27:28-29:51: Guided By Voices - “Learning to Hunt”
29:45-32:52: A.R. Kane - “Crazy Blue”
32:48-36:09: Pere Ubu - “SAD.TXT”
36:02-39:53: Al B. Sure! - “Nite & Day”
39:05-46:39: Seefeel - “Filter Dub”
46:10-52:27: The Chemical Brothers - “Star Guitar”
52:27-56:35: Lil Eazy-E - “This Ain’t a Game (feat. Bone Thugs)”
56:35-60:23: Lorn - “None an Island”
60:23-68:36: Chromatics - “These Streets Will Never Look the Same”
68:22-76:55: The Field - “Is This Power”
Please sign my petition mandating that all guitar bands record live using this exact mic setup.
The 1988 self-titled Rkyodisc compilation pictured above (which this live recording is not from) was, at 80 minutes, the longest compact disc produced to that point. An orange sticker on the case warned that the last track, a cover of the Stooges’ “1970,” might not play on all CD players. I can’t imagine what the technical limitation was, but of a pool including a truly shitty Realistic, three different Sonys, a JVC, and an early Pioneer 5-CD wallet, only the latter could read “1970” in 1989.
There’s no delicate way to put this: I was drinking at work recently, on a particularly boring Friday afternoon, and started making this at around 4 beers deep, or 3pm, whichever came first. Song selection is based solely on what I wanted to hear at that particular moment, with no editing done after the fact. Times are approximate.
00:00-1:32: Negativland - “Introduction”
1:32-4:05: Apache Dropout - “I’m So Glad”
4:05-5:58: Total Control - “Retiree”
5:58-10:06: Sugar - “Tilted”
9:41-14:01: Korallreven - “Sa Sa Samoa (Elite Gymnastics Remix)”
13:59-17:47: Tanlines - “All of Me”
17:47-21:01: The Native Cats - “All Men to All Men”
21:01-27:19: Sagor & Swing - “Postmodernism”
27:19-30:41: Swell Maps - “Ammunition Train”
30:41-34:24: Donkey - “Fear Not Wandering Soul”
34:05-40:06: Depeche Mode - “Waiting for the Night”
40:02-45:34: Cold Cave - “Confetti”
45:26-48:25: Cut Hands - “++++ (Four Crosses)”
47:24-53:18: Deaf Center - “The Day I Would Never Have”
53:06-57:15: Follow That Bird - “Wooden Bones”
57:10-64:02: The Men - “Oscillation”