Rock Bottom Riser: Bill Callahan

Posted by Miss Ess, October 11, 2007 03:46pm | Post a Comment
red apple falls smog album cover
's Red Apple Falls is so simple and so beautiful.  I put it on today after not having heard it in years. The songs have abill callahan smog transportative effect on me.  There's something about the combination of Bill Callahan's deep voice and the pared down-ness of the music behind it that makes me perk up and listen so intensely that I can get totally lost in all of it.  I love that.  It's almost like a blanket, since I have been listening to Smog for so long.  Red Apple Falls has songs that are fable-like and also songs that are so real I cringe when I listen to some of the lyrics.  Callahan has a certain bold power; he is able to admit things that others would be too afraid of, and he sings about it all without even slightly cringing.  When I imagine him in my mind, singing these intimate songs with a straight face and a voice devoid of much emotion, he's a staid soldier at attention with his gloved hand tucked into the breast of his brass buttoned uniform.  It's lovely and brave.
bill callahan live smog
I saw Bill Callahan play this Sunday night.  His voice has grown so much deeper even than before.  It's more confident and he seems even more comfortable with himself and his songs, which would make sense since, after all, he's an artist and artists develop and grow with time.  Callahan's first album came out in 1990!  He's been at this a very long time, and only gets better.  He mostly played tracks from his newest album Woke On A Whaleheart, but for me the showstopper (as it has been for the last couple of years since he's been playing it) was "Rock Bottom Riser", from his 2004 album A River Ain't Too Much To Love.  It's another almost painfully real song, exceptionally and austerely delivered.  It was a great show.
smog knock knock bill callahan album cover
My favorite Smog record is Knock Knock from 1999.  Whenever I hear the song called "Let's Move To the Country", I just wanna drop everything, grab a blanket and run outside so I can lay in the sun and contemplate leaving everything behind and making a fresh start somewhere far from everything else.  Again, the tune is really transporting for me.  Callahan's songs bring up images and stories and ideas that are timeless but he writes about them in ways that seem different than how anyone else has ever done it before, and sometimes they are even a bit shocking, like in the song "Dress Sexy At My Funeral" from Dongs of Sevotion, another of my favorites.   Here is a performance of that song:

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Army of Darkness - Saturday Midnight at the New Beverly !

Posted by phil blankenship, October 11, 2007 12:28pm | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music & Phil Blankenship present:

Saturday October 13

Bruce Campbell in Sam Raimi's

Army Of Darkness

New Beverly Cinema
7165 W Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 938-4038
Midnight, $7


Posted by Billyjam, October 11, 2007 10:13am | Post a Comment

This week (Oct 10) is the Stateside opening (in select US cities) of the film Control -- the biopic about Joy Division's tragic lead singer Ian Curtis (played by Sam Riley) who committed suicide in 1980 at age 23. Even though I've read various reviews of the movie that range from good to bad and mediocre, I know I will definitely be going to see this film, which was directed by Anton Corbijn (shot in black and white -- similar to his infamous photography of Joy Division, U2 etc.) and based on the book Touching From a Distance by the film subject's widow Deborah Curtis. Some reviewers warn Joy Division fans that it is not really a story of the ever-influential band, but rather a dramatic love story -- a tragic tale of this troubled young artist who liked Bowie and cigarettes, got famous at an early age, married too young (19) and then fell in love with another, suffered from deptression and anxiety, and on top of all this had epilepsy for which he had to take pills that had negative side-effects. 

Additionally, fans fiending for original Joy Division music should know that the music is not by the band itself but rather the actors playing the band in the movie, with the exception of a Joy Division cover by the Killers over the closing credits. In one magazine interview, on the topic of having the actors learn the music of Joy Division and play it in the film, director Anton Corbijn (who is interviewed on Dutch TV below) said that it would be more authentic to have the actors learn to play the songs and perform them in the movie, noting that Joy Division were not really that advanced as musicians anyway, so it wasn't impossible to have the actors learn the musical parts. It might have been had it been, say, a film about Pink Floyd, he said. For more information on the film go the official website. And if you go check it out in theaters, please come back here to this AMOEBLOG and post your review in the COMMENTS box. Thanks!

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Talking Head.

Posted by Job O Brother, October 10, 2007 10:07am | Post a Comment
The endlessly pithy Japhy Grant paid Walrus Day some lip service two days ago on his brilliant blog The Modern Romantic. When you're done plundering Amoeblog, go check it out! I mean, what else are you gonna do - read a book?


Posted by Billyjam, October 10, 2007 06:48am | Post a Comment

In the Paul D Zimmerman-written and Martin Scorcese-directed 1983 film The King of Comedy, Robert De Niro brilliantly plays the character of celebrity autograph hound, aspiring stand-up comic, and extremely wannabe star Rupert Pupkin, who so desperately wants to achieve success in showbiz that he goes to king of comedysuch extremes as stalking his idol, a late night talk show host named Jerry Langford (played by Jerry Lewis). He eventually ending up kidnapping Langford with assistance from an equally deranged celebrity hound, Masha, played to perfection by Sandra Bernhard.

If you have not already seen this movie, I recommend you do. It is available on DVD and should be found at each of the three Amoeba Music locations. I hadn't seen it in many years and just recently re-watched and enjoyed the film as much as the first time I'd seen it --although not in a feel-good movie kind of way. To me, watching The King of Comedy is like some horrible car accident that you don't want see but at the same time cannot pull yourself away from. In the film, De Niro is the car wreck as he so effortlessly plays the desperate and totally delusional Rupert Pupkin character to a tee. He has you cringing in your seat as you witness him go to such lengths to convince the world of what he imagines his life to be -- or wills it to become. Most engaging are the scenes when the obsessive Rupert indulges in elaborate fantasies where he imagines himself and the talk show host, just hanging as the best of colleagues and friends.

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