Amoeblog

Oasis

Posted by Whitmore, March 2, 2009 01:20pm | Post a Comment
The Brit-pop band Oasis’ first ever concert tour of China, planned for this spring, has been cancelled;  Chinese authorities have deemed the band as being "unsuitable." The shows scheduled for Beijing and Shanghai were due to take place on April 3rd and 5th; tickets sales were stopped on February 28, according to China Daily Newspaper.
 
Though no clear explanation has been given other than Oasis being “unsuitable,” it’s thought this cancellation might have something to do with China's Culture Ministry's recent discovery that Noel Gallagher played a Free Tibet benefit in the US in 1997 … that is a no-no in Mainland China.
 
Also uncertain is whether or not the show scheduled for Hong Kong on April 7th will take place.
 
The rest of the South East Asian tour will go ahead as planned, as Oasis is currently on a world tour promoting their latest CD, 2008’s Dig Out Your Soul -- their seventh studio album. Just this past week Oasis was voted the best British band at the annual NME Awards. They also won for Best Blog for Noel Gallagher's Tales from the Middle of Nowhere which is published on MySpace.
 
Oasis was formed in Manchester in 1991. Their first number one UK single was “Some Might Say” from their second album, (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, peaking back in April 1995. Since then they have chalked up seven more number one hits and sold over 50 million records world wide. They have also collected fifteen NME Awards, five BRIT Awards, nine Q Awards and four MTV Europe Music Awards, plus odds and ends of other awards like the 2002 Top of the Pops and the 2007 Vodafone Live Music Awards.
 
A number of musical acts from the West have performed in China in recent years, including the Rolling Stones and Elton John, but some performers have run into problems on their way to China. Jay-Z was denied permission in 2006 due to his use of profane language. Britney Spears was permitted to play in 2004 but with the strict understanding that her costumes were not to be too revealing. And last year, Icelandic star Bjork made waves when she shouted "Free Tibet!" during her concert in Shanghai.

Davey Graham 1940 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, December 16, 2008 05:51pm | Post a Comment

The legendary English guitarist and a major influence on practically every fingerstyle acoustic guitarist for the past 50 years, Davey Graham, passed away on Monday of lung cancer which was detected only a few weeks ago. He was 68.

Born November 22nd, 1940 in Hinckley, Leicestershire, England, he took up the guitar at the age of 12. By the age of 19 Graham composed what would probably be his most famous piece, “Anji,” released on his debut 1962 EP, 3/4 AD, and later covered by the likes of Pentangle and Simon & Garfunkel.

Here in the United States, Graham perhaps wasn’t as well known as some of his contemporaries but he has been credited with single-handedly inventing the concept of the folk guitar instrumental in the U.K.-- simultaneous honors in the U.S would go to John Fahey, who was making similar innovations. Graham influenced a who’s who of British guitarists from Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Richard Thompson, John Martyn, Nick Drake, Martin Carthy, and Jimmy Page -- Page’s instrumental "White Summer" was heavily based on Graham's "She Moved Thru the Bazaar/Blue Raga."

In 1959 Graham first made headlines with his attention grabbing performance of “Cry Me a River’ in the BBC television documentary Hound Dogs and Bach Addicts: The Guitar Craze, produced by Ken Russell. During the 1960s he played a major role in the British folk revival, releasing a series of eclectic solo albums that touched on a wide range of music, from jazz and blues to Indian and Arabic and gypsy. He introduced to many an aspiring young guitarist the DADGAD guitar tuning, whose chief appeal is the ability to improvise freely, yet maintain a solid underlying rhythm and harmony. But Graham's career was somewhat unpredictable; his concerts were often hit or miss. Much of his reputation was based on a couple of brilliant albums, both released in the same week of 1965, Folk Routes, New Routes in a duet with the folk singer Shirley Collins and Folk, Blues and Beyond, a mostly instrumental album that combined all his world music styles. His live playing was best captured and recorded in 1967 on an incredible album entitled After Hours, which was recorded in a student's dorm room on the campus of Hull University in front of an audience of about eight people. Nonetheless, and in many ways, even as impulsive as he may have been, Davey Graham was the first guitar hero … and certainly one of mine.

There will be a private funeral held for Davey Graham later this week. A public memorial service is being planned for January.


(Wherein winter records receive writings.)

Posted by Job O Brother, December 16, 2008 11:32am | Post a Comment

It’s finally chilly in Hollywood. I mean, I still have my French windows open wide, but it’s about as cold as it ever gets, with breezes blowing from my hometown in the north, Nevada City, where loved ones are covered in white blankets of snow. (That’s a metaphor – probably very few of them have bed-sheets constructed of crystalline water ice.)

My friends in Nevada City, Jaime, Alison and Dan made a snowman. I don’t get that pleasure here. I suppose I could make a clumps-of-dying-grass-cigarette-butts-and-dog-feces man, but who has that kind of time? I have a blog to write!


Here's a picture of the snowman my friends made.
The best part will be watching him slowly melt over the next couple weeks.

My choices in music are always influenced by weather. When it’s hot city in the summertime, I’ll gravitate towards artists such as Stephen Malkmus, Thin Lizzy, or Sly & The Family Stone. If it’s a rainy day, you can bet some Siouxsie & The Banshees will be trilling from my stereo. I look out the window and see the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse trampling the Hills with all the fury of Heaven and Hell as they take the stage for a final battle in which every human soul will come to greet its eternal home in either the awesome glory of the Almighty God or the foul depths of Hell as lorded over by the king of wickedness, Satan, and more often than not I’ll play a little Burt Bacharach. Because it’s always a good time for a little Burt.


Don't make me over.

What do I play when it’s cold outside? Of course holiday music would be appropriate, but I never, never, ever listen to Christmas music when I’m alone. I’ve haven't asked myself why; it’s just something I noticed. There’s something somehow… lonely and… I don’t know. I guess I feel like people who listen to Christmas music alone are the same people who don’t get married – just get more cats. Am I wrong? I’m open to the possibility. And if you’re someone who does listen to Christmas music alone and I’ve offended you, you should write and set me straight. You owe it to your future kittens.

One thing I like to hear in winter are precious, 1960’s folk/pop lasses from Great Britain. An obvious choice is Marianne Faithfull, who, before descending into a (brief and thankfully conquered) foray into heroin, made some fabulous recordings in what was at first a somehow smoldering soprano (her voice, like Joni Mitchell’s, would eventually become lower and lower thanks to devoted smoking habits).


Another artist I fancy is Barbara Ruskin, who recorded perky songs about cats roaming streets and postal workers drinking tea and isn’t it lovely how horses and flowers and dreams and look a red balloon God Save the Queen. I’m paraphrasing here. She actually wrote much of her own music, which was unique in her time. Unfortunately, I’m unable to find any video clips of her music, or even some sound research on her. Why? Well, here’s a link to a song, anyway.


"Someone's stolen my guitar! I shall write a very cross song about it, indeed!"
Barbara Ruskin in her hey-day

Mary Hopkin I like for a little while. One side of one album is about all I ever want from her. Paul McCartney produced her debut album, which was one of the first releases from Beatles-founded Apple Records, and it included one hit which you may recognize from its constant play in most cafés which utilize cable radio:


Sandie Shaw is good fun. Her choices of songs are often grin-inducing, as she lends her feminine coolness to such records as “Lay Lady Lay” and “Sympathy for the Devil.”


She would enjoy a new generation of fans when Morrissey and Johnny Marr of The Smiths encouraged her to perform with them and cover their material.

Petula Clark is undoubtedly more square than the above artists, but I would be remiss not to include her here. The 1970’s would see a more polished, pop sound from this English superstar, but in the 1960’s she could smartly warble a folksy ditty. Of particular note are her French language recordings. They tend to be more produced and money than any Yé-yé contemporaries, but still hold some delight for me.


Lastly, there’s Burt Bacharach. While he was mostly never a British woman singing folk/pop, you’ll recall (if you were paying attention) that it’s always a good time for a little Burt…


Music like this makes me crave cocoa. No small feat, considering I don’t like cocoa. Odd, I know, but true. It’s too much like soup to me, and I don’t like soup. Soup spelled backwards is “puos.” Gross! I don’t eat puos. That’s just disgusting.

Monty Python’s Flying Circus - 39 years ago today

Posted by Whitmore, October 5, 2008 08:38pm | Post a Comment


39 years ago today
, light ceased radiating; the World stopped spinning, coughed up a hairball, then turned on its side and attempted to shake loose all the other furry dust berries clinging to its nipple-ly peaks. Fearful of this new creepy darkness, the World tried to catch the tail of a passing comet only to stagger badly and get singed by the fiery interloper.

But seconds before collapsing gloomily into one last catatonic stupor, the World accidentally stepped on the remote control, triggering a channel change and so discovered that there was in fact something worthwhile to watch on television.

October 5th 1969, Monty Python’s Flying Circus was unleashed onto the airwaves of the BBC … six rather handsome young gents (Terry Jones and Michael Palin from Oxford, Eric Idle, John Cleese and Graham Chapman from Cambridge and American born Terry Gilliam from a little school in Los Angeles called Occidental College) changed history itself by saving the World, and us, from sheer utter boredom.

Privilege

Posted by Whitmore, July 28, 2008 11:06pm | Post a Comment


I’ve often said coincidence does not exist, but I'll save that diatribe for another time. However, a couple of days ago, and for the first time, not one but two Paul Jones 45’s -- he’s the former lead singer for the 1960’s British invasion band Manfred Mann -- wandered into Amoeba from separate collections. Both of these singles are from the same soundtrack, Privilege, a film released in 1967 starring Paul Jones, who was making his big screen acting debut. Now, two days later, I find out that for the first time ever, Privilege will be released on DVD today. Coincidence or plot? I just don't know. Well, anyway...


The film was directed by Peter Watkins, whose highly controversial anti-nuclear drama The War Game won the 1966 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature (and was soon to be banned in Great Britain). Watkins once again doesn’t stray far from controversy in Privilege. Taking place in a totalitarian English State of the near future, specifically 1970, the dark comic vision of Privilege criticizes the media and its media manipulation, corporate culture and its corporate manipulation. It portrays a time where most everything seems to bounce off the absurd and neurotic teen pop-dom dominating the age and the happily tranquilized population is content with fluffy distractions. The main character, Steven Shorter, played by Paul Jones, is a rock god. His popularity and career have been meticulously engineered by a vast music corporation, reaching dizzying Beatlesque heights. But all this begins to crack when an artist, played by the original supermodel Jean Shrimpton, is hired to paint Steven Shorter’s portrait, and finds an unstable, empty shell of a man, lost in a lonely world, a puppet trapped by the demands of a music business out of control, and a simple singer victimized by all the excess, process, and success. Of course, the artist tries to rescue and prop up Steven Shorter before he becomes yet another statistic in the eternally doomed scenario of recyclable pop stars. But as can only happen in real life and/or rock melodramas, fortunes take a Machiavellian twist when rebellion is only a pop song away. Now that’s entertainment!

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