Saturday Night Coming Up

Before she became the 6Music stalwart she now, deservedly, is Mary Anne Hobbs used to host a late night show of electronic music on Radio 1 called The Breezeblock.

One of the features of the show was a DJ coming in to provide a mix of around 30 minutes or so. Many DJs and producers passed through this hallowed turf: I’ve got Breezeblock mixes by the likes of FC Kahuna, Tiga, Boom Bip, The Avalanches, Lemon Jelly, Super Furry Animals and Andy Smith knocking around which might feature at some point if anyone’s interested.

But first up, this, possibly my favourite DJ mix ever, by DJ Downfall:

DJ Downfall – Breezeblock Mix

If ever there was something I post which I would urge you to listen to, it’s this. How can anyone not love a mix which starts off with Mark King from Level 42 explaining how he plays bass (with his £1 million pound thumb) and ends with the Muppets’ Statler & Waldorf, taking in Justin Timberlake, Man to Man Meets Man Parrish, The Postal Service and, if I’m not mistaken, the movie Mean Girls en route?

Seriously, listen to this and make your life instantly better.

You’re welcome.

More soon.

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Last Weekend/Yesterday

It’s been a funny week for me, listening-wise.

Ordinarily, I would go about my business with my iPod on shuffle, listening to whatever it decided to feed my ears.

But this week, three things happened which made me focus in on three particular acts for a while.

Phase One, and the most short-lived of the three, Kylie at Glastonbury.

In a set only spoiled by the appearance of Chris Martin and the denegration of the majority of Can’t Get You Out Of My Head into an unnecessarily-acoustic version of the mega-hit. To these eyes, Martin always looks like the sort of person who has trouble controlling his saliva, and has to keep sucking it in before it spills out of the corners of his big shit-eating grin. Nobody wants to hear a mostly acoustic version of Can’t Get You Out Of My Head just so he can strum along to it; we want to hear it in all its full-on banger glory, without the interjection of a man who thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to name his children after fruit.

I say “spoiled”, but that’s not quite true. Nick Cave was there too, to accompany Ms Minogue on Where the Wild Roses Grow. I’d seen a lot of summaries of Kylie’s career in advance of her appearance on the Pyramid Stage, all of them, it seemed, bemoaning this particular period of her career as being the least succesful and therefore dullest. I beg to differ: it was around this time that Kylie suddenly got interesting in my book.

And when I say “spoiled” I don’t mean that Nick Cave spoiled it, because of course he didn’t. But if you can conjure up Nick Cave and Chris Martin, then surely La Minogue could have also cajoled Jason Donovan into joining her to duet on Especially For You? I mean, it’s not like he isn’t in the country. It would have made the inevitable airing of the song almost bearable.

Truth be told, I got a little emotional during Kylie’s set, especially when she did her speech about why wasn’t able to headline the Sunday night as planned back in 2005. See, I was there that year, and while Basement Jaxx proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable replacement, I’d have much rather have seen Kylie. Plus, the merest mention of someone beating cancer these days sets me right off, for reasons regular readers will be fully aware of.

Anyway, here’s Kylie and Nick performing that song:

Kylie Minogue & Nick Cave – Where The Wild Roses Grow

Phase Two: The Cure, headlining the Pyramid Stage on Sunday night.

I thought they were incredible, even though much of the first hour of their set was comprised of songs from their Disintegration album which I know I’m supposed to love, admire and respect as their masterpiece, but to be honest I’ve always found it to be just a bit too gloomy for my taste. Controversial, I know.

But that last half hour or so, when they just started belting out the hits, was magnificent; their Greatest Hits album Standing on a Beach, was a massive part of my indie-music education when I was a teenager, and I found myself, not for the first time that weekend, rueing the fact that I wasn’t there to witness it in person.

Now, I’ve not managed to find a decent clip of a song from the set I like enough to post yet, so you’ll just have to make do with the non-live version of this, which was a real highlight of their set for me:

The Cure – The Caterpillar

But there can be no doubt what the absolute highlight of the weekend was. Until last weekend, I had no idea who Dave was (other than a TV channel renowned for showing episodes of QI and Top Gear on repeat ad infinitum, or the name Trigger incorrectly calls Rodney throughout Only Fools and Horses), and only slightly more of an idea who Thiago Silva is.

I definitely had no idea who Alex Mann was. But I do now (plenty of effing and jeffing in this, by the way):

Phase Three: having spent the whole of the week listening to nothing but Kylie and The Cure on my daily commute, I went to the cinema on Thursday evening…and here’s some words I never thought I’d type…to voluntarily watch a Richard Curtis rom-com.

Let me get my disclaimer in really quickly: Yesterday is also directed by Danny Boyle, who I love and would watch anything he’s been involved in. He’s responsible for some of my favourite films ever (Trainspotting, Shallow Grave, 28 Days Later to name just three) along with the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics (remember 2012, when we were proud to be British, rather than embarrased as we are now by Brexit MEP morons turning their backs on Beethoven?)

Don’t get me started.

But I’ll take any excuse to post that glorious opening ceremony, thank you very much:

And so I weighed it up: did my love of Boyle outweigh my distaste of Curtis? Yes it did.

You’ll be aware by now of the premise of Yesterday, but just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks as Boyle, Curtis and leading man Himesh Patel have done the promotional circuit, here’s the trailer:

Here’s the plot: Jack Malik (Patel) is a struggling musician, stranded in Suffolk, who when cycling home one night is hit by a bus at exactly the same moment as the whole world experiences a power cut. When he wakes in a hospital bed, he slowly realises that, for some unexplained reason, The Beatles and their entire back catalogue have been expunged from everyone else in the world’s memory. Only he can remember the songs, which puts him in a bit of a dilemma: does he start performing the songs and claiming them as his own – indeed, can he even remember all of the words? – or does he…erm…let it be. He chooses the former, or course (it’s be a really dull film if he didn’t) and is promptly propelled to super stardom. But who are the two people who seem to know his secret? (Well, it’s the criminally under-used Sarah Lancashire and Justin Edwards, as it goes.)

I have to admit I rather enjoyed Yesterday, despite it’s many flaws. The cast is really good, and it’s practically a Who’s Who of current British comedy acting talent, as you would probably expect from a Curtis movie.

And once you get past the gag that is people not knowing any Beatles’ songs and consequentially mis-naming them, there are a few funny jokes, one at the expense of Oasis, another at the expense of Coldplay, another still at the expense of Ed Sheeran. (I’m doing it a disservice here: I laughed more than three times.)

Ah, yes. Ed Sheeran. I’m not a fan, suffice it to say. But his involvement here does make perfect sense plot-wise. It’s just…well, he’s in it quite a lot, as himself. And James Corden also makes a cameo appearance, also as himself, and again this does make sense: he’s a successful British actor with a chat-show in the US, so he will be recognised on both sides of the pond. It’s just I’d rather not spend my time and money looking at or hearing either of them, thank you very much.

That said, there’s a couple of clunkers: dotted throughout the film, Jack mentions something which also got wiped from the collective conscious during the power outage, and the inference is that they are in some way therefore linked to collective amnesia about The Beatles. To extrapolate: if The Beatles don’t exist, then nor can these things. But the things in question are cigarettes (and, other than a mention of having ‘a smoke’ in A Day In The Life, I can’t think of any other reason for this) and Coca Cola (perhaps the biggest clunker, this seems to have been excluded simply so that a Coke/Cocaine joke can be ham-fistedly crowbarred in.) I mean, The Beatles didn’t write Lola, wherein perhaps the most famous Coca/Cherry Cola reference resides.

And if the idea is that as well as The Beatles disappearing, so anything linked to or based on them must also not exist, then there’s a reference to Cilla Black which makes no sense, given that she was discovered by The Beatles at Liverpool’s Cavern Club.

What the film does have – apart from a surprise, uncredited appearance by Boyle-stalwart Robert Carlyle – is the songs, and it’s really quite lovely that these were recorded with Patel performing them, and not in a totally reworked kind of way as (I understand, I haven’t seen it) happens in the recent Elton John biopic Rocketman.

No, these versions are remarkably faithful to the originals, and includes one absolute belter, for the live version of Help! is rattlingly good:

Jack Malik – Help! (Live At Pier Hotel)

Over all, I rather enjoyed it, despite myself. There are no surprises here: it’s a Richard Curtis rom-com, we all know how it ends before it even begins, but it’s enjoyable enough. Perhaps wait until it starts cropping up on ITV2 rather than forking out to go see it in the cinema, though.

Ok, to round things off and tie up all the loose ends, here’s Paul McCartney’s headlining set from Glastobury 2004. I had the pleasure of being at this, although I’ll admit I only watched him because…well, how often do you get to watch an actual Beatle play live? Turned out to be one of the finest gigs I ever saw, which really shouldn’t come as any great surprise:

Paul McCartney – Live at Glastonbury 2004

There’s a bit of an oddity about that, in that the opening song (Jet) appears twice at the start, which I’m sure many of you will assume is just an excuse to post this:

I’d skip to around the 5 minute mark if I were you.

The second occasion Jet appears over-writes the actual song in the set, which just so happens to be one of my favourite Beatles songs ever, from my favourite Beatles album ever. You can keep your Sgt. Pepper, give me Revolver any day of the week.

The Beatles – Got To Get You Into My Life

That should keep you busy for a while.

More soon, and all that (you need is love).

50 Ways To Prove I’m Rubbish #14

I can explain why I didn’t buy this one at the time.

It is 1983, I am 14 or 15.

And I hear today’s record and think it’s the most mind-blowing record I’ve ever heard.

I pored over the lyrics in Smash Hits, sang along whenever it came on the radio.

But still, I didn’t buy it.

And why not?, as Barry Norman used to say.

Because nobody I knew at school liked rap or hip-hop, and I didn’t want to stand out from the crowd.

Bit pathetic really.

I look back on this record now and wonder just how cool my friends may have thought I was had I ‘fessed up back then about loving it.

This one:

Grandmaster & Melle Mel – White Lines

Still genius.

Welcome to the weekend.

More soon.