Splash FM Website of the Day, 1st August 2005. Be Impressed.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Year End List.

With everyone posting their year end lists I’m feeling a bit left out. So, for no good reason, here are my favourite tracks from 1997 (some of which might give you a hint as to what’s coming up):

10. Stereolab – Miss Modular

9. Mogwai – Mogwai Fear Satan

8. Ben Folds Five – Smoke

7. Beta Band – Dr. Baker

6. Pavement – Type Slowly

5. Radiohead – Climbing Up The Walls

4. Missy Elliott – The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)

3. Portishead – All of Portishead.

2. Koffi Olomide – Loi

1. Spiritualized – Electricity

Feel free to list your favourites of 1997 in the comments - unless you have something better to do like sniffing your own bellybutton fluff.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Ash – I Only Want To Be With You

Christmas 1997 saw the second of the Spice Girls’ trio of consecutive Xmas number ones. I don’t care how many begging emails I get I’m not going to post it. Nor am I going to post any festive ditties (largely because I don’t seem to have any from ’97 in my collection but also because they tend to fill me with murderous rage rather than goodwill to all men). But, I am going to post Ash’s spunky cover of Dusty Springfield’s I Only Want To Be With You in the hope of spreading some Crimbo joy.

The Spice Girls were part of Ash’s considerable celeb following at the time (which also included Oasis, Placebo, Blur, 3 Colours Red amongst others). Tim ‘the handsome one out of Ash’ Wheeler had called the Spice Girls ‘the coolest band on the planet’ (although which Spicepants he was trying to get into at the time history does not record). This popularity occurred during Ash’s golden period between the fantastic 1977 (just 20 away from being this blog’s favourite album) and the disastrously awful Nu –Clear Sounds. It was also the year they recruited Charlotte Hatherley.

I Only Want To Be With You was released as one of the b-sides of the ultra rare Barbie 7” which also featured a cover of Beck’s Devil’s Haircut.

Ash - I Only Want To Be With You

Buy Barbie (if you’re feeling lucky).

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you in 2006.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Matthew Barney – Cremaster 5

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Video art was also the all the rage in the US in 1997. However, not for the Americans the understated subtlety of a bunch of motionless bobbies. Instead Matthew Barney, whose previous work includes gym equipment covered in Vaseline, gave us a sprawling, baroque epic called The Cremaster Cycle. This contains five feature length films telling the story, according to experts, of the moment in embryonic development when the sex of the baby is determined. (N.B. the cremaster muscle raises and lowers the testicles – gory picure here - I hope that information never comes in handy).

1997 saw the release of climax of the series. The fifth film features Barney leaping around the Hungarian State Opera house in various guises and Ursula Andress singing with a pair of large glass testicles on her head (not likely to replace the swimsuit image in the public's affections). I’m sure it all makes sense when you see it – which I haven’t.

If you’re eager to buy a DVD of this you best get on eBay. Only ten copies of each film were made and you can expect to pay around $400,000 for one. Or, if you’re not Charles Saachi, you could just rent Weekend at Bernie’s again. Failing that you could watch one of the other sprawling epics of 1997 such as Titanic or Kevin Costner’s legendary winner of five Raspberry Awards The Postman.

Visit The Cremaster

Monday, December 05, 2005

1997 Turner Prize.

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1997 was, as usual, a controversial year for the Turner Prize. For the first time in history the shortlist was entirely female causing many cries of political correctness (largely from people who hadn’t raised a whisper against the many all male shortlists). The nominal winner of the prize was video artist Gillian Wearing. Her works, 60 Minutes' Silence, included an hour long video of a group of police officers sitting still and in complete silence. Complete silence, that is, until the very end when one of the policemen lets out a yelp of joy at it being over. A yelp that was referred to by The Daily Telegraph’s Richard Dormant as, “one of the great moments in the history of modern British art.” Which says more about the state of modern British art than it does about the piece.

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The real winner of the night, though, was Tracy Emin.

In reaction to the conceptual nature of the art on the shortlist, Channel Four showed a live discussion programme called The Death of Painting. The show featured a number of eminent art critics and academics and a generously irrigated Tracy Emin. The other guests on the show, quite understandably, ignored Emin’s pickled expletives until she loudly stumbled out of the studio. The papers completely ignored Wearing in favour of yet more publicity for Emin.

Emin went on to win-without-actually-winning The Turner Prize in 1999 when her soiled Bed garnered all the publicity and a cheque for £150,000.

The good people at Channel Four needn’t have worried about ‘the death of painting'. The following year the award went to painter Chris Ofili. Oh, except he painted with elephant dung.

This year’s Turner Prize is on Channel 4 right now.

Check out this year’s entries here.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Campbell Brothers – Medley of Offertory Tunes.

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In the beginning was the word.
And the word was with God.
And The Word was presented by Terry Christian.

I’m not a religious man – I used to think the baptismal font was Jesus’ favourite typeface – so the closest I come to a spiritual experience is listening to screaming gospel music. I’ve reasoned that if I listen to enough of it God might be tricked into thinking I believe in him and let me into heaven. It’s a bit of a long shot, what with that whole omniscience thing he’s got going on, but worth a go.

The Campbell Brothers, Philip, Chuck and Darick, began playing in their father’s church, The House of God Church in Tennessee, which has a sixty year old tradition of ‘Sacred Steel’ music. This style is based around the sound of the steel guitar which is laid flat and played using a steel bar. The steel guitar is usually associated with the gentle whining sound often heard in country music and the music of Hawaii (where the instrument originated). However, Sacred Steel music uses the instrument to create a much more intense sound to match the fervid nature of the sermons.

The Campbell Brothers were the first to take this music out of the Church and begin playing to secular audiences. Since then, Robert Randolph (who was given his first steel guitar by Chuck Campbell) has taken this music further into the mainstream. It’s not hard to hear why this music inspires religious fervour in people or why atheist fundamentalists like me love it. Of course, you don’t need me to tell you this; I’m sure you all obeyed my earlier order (which still stands – that tune is far better than today’s and far better than pretty much anything you care to mention).

It might be shallow of me but if they played music like this at my local Anglican church I’d be there every Sunday. As it is they come up with sermons that are dull enough to be the next 50 Cent single. Logic would suggest that if you knew the secret of the universe and were guaranteed an eternity in heaven you’d sound a little pleased about it (perhaps church is God’s way of preparing us for hell). Logic would also suggest that God wouldn’t have the one true faith founded because Henry VIII was bored with his wife.

Don’t interpret any of this as having a go at Christians. They have the right to believe what they believe and I have the right to believe the truth.

The Campbell Brothers – Medley of Offertory Tunes

Buy Pass Me Not

Download The Campbell Brothers at the Grassroots Festival