‘Long on material for jeremiads like this’: John Andrew Fredrick’s ‘The King of Good Intentions II’: Book Review

A fresh novel about the travails of a struggling musician on L.A.’s indie-rock fringe, this sequel to The King of Good Intentions continues the story of John and his jangle-pop band, The Weird Sisters. Likely at least semi-autobiographical, narrated after all by John with frequent asides to us, this takes up the tale on the 5th of April, 1994, the day Kurt Cobain died. While only Raleigh, the new drummer, feels bereft by this news as the band ends its … Read more

‘You say you want a revolution…’ – the Beatles and Irish nationalism

They were the standard-bearers of the British Invasion of the 1960s – a glad, confident time in which British recording artists practically monopolised the pop charts all over the world, and British culture was positively swinging at a swinging time. As the comedian Alan Davies put it in a 2002 TV documentary he presented on John Lennon, this band ‘made it cool to be British across the world. How cool is that!‘ So, as we mark what would have been … Read more

Can any piece of music be one-hundred-per-cent original? (Discuss)

The latest ruling by an American judge means that the book appears to have finally closed for Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, in their efforts to overturn March’s ruling that they had plagiarized Marvin Gaye’s 1977 song “Got to Give It Up” in their composition of the Summer 2013 international smash hit “Blurred Lines”. There will be no re-trial, despite Thicke and Williams’s determination to appeal – though the judge, John A Kronstadt, did agree to reduce the amount of … Read more

To many minds, The King has never truly Left The Building

Sometimes, however annoying it may initially look, utilising a cliche can often be the best way of introducing any topic. So it is with ‘Elvis has left the building’ – the phrase often used by announcers whenever an Elvis Presley gig was over, in a bid to clear the auditorium of screaming fans. The singer would have turned 80 today, had he not Left The Building for good in August 1977. Another oft-used cliche when discussing talented late musicians is … Read more

Fifty years on, Sam still Sends Us…

In the 1991 hit film “The Commitments”, the Dublin band’s ambitious impresario Jimmy Rabbitte (portrayed by Robert Arkins) explains to his suspicious proteges that they must play only soul music, because it is simple, basic, and honest: ‘[Soul] sticks its neck out and says it straight from the heart.  Sure, there’s a lot of different music you can get off on, but soul is more than that.  It takes you somewhere else.‘ The man who played a crucial role in helping to inspire … Read more

Eurovision 2014: “I felt like tonight Europe showed that we are a community of respect and tolerance…”

Well, perhaps…  A bearded Austrian man in a dress, Conchita Wurst, won the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 in Copenhagen on Saturday night with “Rise Like a Phoenix” – the title quote was his line from the winner’s press conference.  The 25-year-old singer also told reporters in Vienna On the theme of tolerance, Wurst told reporters in the Austrian capital: “This will remain an issue for a long time and I fear I won’t see the end of it in my lifetime. It … Read more

Lou Reed 1942-2013

Just a quick post to mark the death of founding member of The Velvet Underground, inspiration for 10,000 bands – see Brian Eno quote – singer, songwriter and general rock legend, Lou Reed, who has died of an unspecified “liver-related ailment”.  He had a liver transplant in May this year after suffering liver failure. At the Guardian’s Music Blog Michael Hann does a great job of listing “Five rock themes we owe to his work“.  And, separately, Sean O’Hagan collates “Six … Read more

Gotye: Autonomous artist meets autonomous audience…

What a great way to demonstrate what’s happening in this new digital world. It’s a Wired talk by Gotye (he’s Belgian Australian, so its not pronounced the way you’d think). It’s peppered with great music inspired by his own internet hit Somebody That I Used to Know: What got to him first of all was the way it inspired so many (over 350) covers and parodies: And this guy was an internet star in his own right, before doing his … Read more

Beware of Mr Baker…

That’s Pete ‘Ginger’ Baker, by the way.  No relation…  [Are you sure?! – Ed]  In the Guardian Edward Helmore talks to the former Cream drummer as a taster for the forthcoming documentary “Beware of Mr Baker” – the “second-best rock documentary of the year”, according to Rolling Stone.  There’s also a Guardian gallery, Ginger Baker’s career – in pictures. From the Guardian interview Old bandmates, such as Jack Bruce – whom Baker physically attacked, precipitating the breakup of Cream – and … Read more

Other Voices Live

I meant to flag this up earlier, but better late than never.  The Guardian is live-streaming two sets from the Other Voices Festival in St James’s church, Dingle, tonight.  The stream starts at 9.30pm GMT. First up is the Wild Beasts gig followed by a live stream of Spiritualized at 10.15pm GMT.  Also at the Guardian, Joseph O’Connor profiles “Europe’s most fascinating music festival“.  And you can catch the live-stream here.  Or you can go to the Other Voices website and catch … Read more

Drum and base

Mark McGregorBlogging at: http://heartsofoakandsteel.wordpress.com http://heartsofoakandsteel.wordpress.com

Friday Thread: Hey (Father) Joe, where you going? St Pats Knock, 1976.

Right, many of you won’t make much of this. But if you are anywhere near fifty, you’ll certainly remember the music (taken from the Pound Club, behind Roddy’s and opposite the bus station in Oxford Street, I think. It turns out to be “The Pieces of Eight” in Anne Street) and that unforgettable mid 70s look. For reference the loop section for the chorus features former President of the College, Father Joe Conway, a supremely gentle civilised man who faced his daily … Read more

RTÉ on hosting Eurovision 2012: “that’s a bridge we’ll cross on Sunday if we need to.”

Despite the BBC report headline, RTE’s chosen representative, Jedward, are not the “favourites” for Eurovision 2011.  That position still clearly belongs to France.  Although, to be fair, Jedward’s odds have shortened since I bookmarked that earlier today… RTÉ, on the other hand, would probably be quite content with a French result – judging by the comments from Julian Vignoles, head of RTÉ’s Eurovision delegation, in the Irish Times report. Julian Vignoles, head of RTÉ’s Eurovision delegation, enthused that this is “the best chance we’ve had … Read more

Listening to Van Morrison

There’s a great piece in today’s Guardian Books section, Greil Marcus on his new book Listening to Van Morrison.  Here’s an extract from the article It’s a short book, not a biography or a career survey, but an attempt to follow those moments in Morrison’s music, as he’s made it from his first records with Them, from Belfast in 1965 to the present day, when something happens that breaks through the boundaries of ordinary communication, of ordinary art speech. In this … Read more