Nutini Doin’

This mp3 cd compilation covers styles, countries, & generations. Filed under ’n’ for Paolo Nutini: These Streets/Caustic Love. The name suggests Italy but he hails from Ireland & is described as blue-eyed soul. His singles & lps have repeatedly topped the British charts in the 20teens. So this is also ‘modern’ pop. He has a good voice, writes well, sings well & the music is engineered perfectly. 

Skiffle star Lonnie Donegan goes back to the mid 50’s. I have 100 Original Tracks (all of them are not on this cd) His first big hit Rock Island Line & he had over 30 chart toppers after that. A prime influence on nearly every British group in the 60s including the Beatles, the Stones. The songs are fun, some border on music hall. Skiffle is a sort of rock-a-billy sound. The recordings are now public domaine which why the 100 cost me 5.99. 

Another retro sound, out of the USA, is surf rock as played by The Trashmen: Tube City (the Best Of). Best known for ‘Surfin’ Bird’ this a fun collection if their instrumentals – think a looser version of The Ventures with a sense of humour.

Peter Gabriel’s Security was his US market breakthrough. Up to it he was a sort of cult favourite after leaving Genesis. The sound is vaguely ominous & dark almost Goth. The songs are elegant, gloomy yet uplifting at the same time. I have the German version in another cd compilation. Both are worth having.

Velvet Underground: White Light White Heat bonus tracks. There was an extensive reissue of this a few years ago filled with out-takes, different takes & a set of live recordings. The live sound is okay with an almost endless version of Sister Ray.

The Toys: Complete Studio Recordings 1979-80. The Toys are a short-lived British power pop band about whom I know nothing. The songs are competent & fun.

Scott Matthew: Unlearned – includes ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ done as a tender folk-emo waltz. The video sold me on this take & the lp continues the mood of troubled romances, longing & hopes from a gay male point-of-view. Sweet & romantic – good mood music for a first date.

We’ve been to Ireland, Britain, USA & now our last stop on this mp3 cd is Africa with Michael Olatunji: the Nigerian percussionist. His African Drums includes ‘Shango’ & a rich assortment of traditional Nigerian & other tribal music. He broke into the USA market in the mid50’s & introduced world music to the world. A good starter for anyone exploring African music.

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Sign of the Beast

Sign of the Beast

I wondered

is it a neon sign

something hand-painted

sprayed on a subway car

does it swing on a board 

over the door of a pub

or at a street corner

like a stop sign

<>

will I see it

at the bottom of a contract

does it come between

aries & scorpio

a wave of the hand

to say

here I am

I’ve saved a seat for you

is it an early warning for cancer 

<>

I don’t think I’ve seen it yet

they say you’ll know it

when you see it

there’ll be no question in your mind

you can’t ignore it

when you see it

it’s too late

to do anything about it

<>

no matter what you do

to avoid it

you will see it

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Orange Sprinkles

Before heading to Stratford on September 30 I checked to make sure certain stores would be open as many across the province & Canada were closed for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. They weren’t but if they were I was ready with alternative plans. There were many people with orange t-shirts’s when we got to Stratford, even in the audience. Both acts of the show opened with a land acknowledgement – something the Festival has been doing for a couple of years now. https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/national-day-truth-reconciliation.html

In June I blogged ‘Membertou First Nation’

https://topoet.ca/2021/06/06/membertou-first-nation/. Since then there have been increased protests – toppled a statue of the founder of Ryerson College here in Toronto – as the anti-native actions of historical figures are revealed. Streets are being renamed for the same reason. Some of this reminds of 1984 int which the past is constantly rewritten so make the people of the present comfortable. I saw a documentary on the Russian Bolshevik revolution in which figures were removed from photos when they were no longer considered good party members.

A National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is an important step – though why September 30 isn’t clear? Why not co-opt the already existing Victoria Day?  A chance for the colonized to dethrone the colonizers. My fear is that like Remembrance Day it will become one of ceremony as opposed to a call to action to end war.  Will we get people selling lapel dreamcatchers to raise funds? Will wearing that be enough to assuage our personal guilts.

I see that Tim Horton’s is selling a time-limited orange sprinkle donut with proceeds going to native organizations: http://news.timhortons.ca/orange-sprinkle-donut-supporting-the-indian-residential-school-survivors-society/ . I’ve tried them – they are sweet, flavourless & without real substance – a # donut.

Psycho Zombies in the Rain

it was raining ballerinas

you know

rain so heavy

each drop created a splash tutu

as it landed

on its one toe

to join the corps du puddle

a literal rain dance

<>

wet ragged gene mutated zombie

staggering down the street

skin stinking in the rain

crumbling for the lure of brains

grabs a light pole

flings aimless decaying arm

drops into the gutter

eyes washed but not cleaned

lightening strikes

the unlucky char

washed down the sewer drain

<>

the rain not a sheet but a curtain

a shower curtain

lightening cuts through it

an electrified knife

stab stab after stab

screams drowned out by the rain

rain so heavy

we can’t see across the street

can’t see 

through the car window

wiper blades not cutting it

smearing rain like blood

on a steamy bathroom tile

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Tchaikovsky

I was introduced to Tchaikovsky through Fantasia without knowing who I was being introduced to. When I bought my first real stereo: turntable, speakers, receiver – from Radio Shack – the first album I played on it was a recording of his first piano concerto. It was a wow moment. 

Since then my collection of his work has grown from box sets to cassettes & to cd box sets & mp3. buy Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Russian 1840 –1893) I have as stand-alones: Queen of Spades 3 cd, Nutcracker ballet, 1812 Overtures & other orchestral work, Complete Piano & orchestra 2cd, Complete String Quartets 2cd, Choral Work, Violin Concerto w: Beethoven: Violin Concerto 61.

On 3cds of mp3 I have the Complete Symphonies, Complete Solo Piano Music, Piano Concertos, Orchestral works: Capriccio Italien, Francesca da Rimini, Ballet Suites, Romeo & Juliet, Swan Lake, Nutcracker; Violin Concertos. Rounding out the cds are Dvorak: Four-Hand Piano; Prokofiev: The Buffoon ballet; Berloiz: Romeo & Juliet ballet; Stravinsky: Firebird.

Some duplicates but each version is a different interpretation. Melodic, lyrical, some radical at the time, romantic, over-the-top, melodramatic & sometimes saccharin & sentimental – what’s not to like? Some of the music barely contains his personal inner turmoil around his queerness – at time when it was a capital offence – actually in Russia I think it still is.

The ballet suites are a good introduction to his music. The whole ballets can be a bit much without dancers 🙂 The Queen of Spades opera is pleasant enough. His string quartets are sublime. If you want melodrama, melody & heartbreaking romance this is the composer for you.

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I Don’t Know Him

I Don’t Know Him

he was sure

we had met before

he knew my name

where I lived

what I had for breakfast

<>

I was sure he was mistaken

the name he called me

wasn’t mine

I never lived at that address

I skipped breakfast

<>

he was puzzled

he wants to know

why I pretend not to know him

he wants proof

of not being who

he is sure I am

<>

I walk away

I’m not showing some stranger

anything

that would identify me

he’s not getting a glimpse

of my credit cards

my health card

I’m not even going to tell him

where I live

where I’m going

<>

now he wants to know

what I’m hiding

what am I afraid of

he said I was never this paranoid

that I need help

people are gawking at us

<>

I control my anger

I don’t want his blood on my hands

but I want him

to shut the fuck up

to get out of my space

leave me alone

<>

I don’t know him

I don’t want to know him

I want to call the police

but what will I tell them

how long will I have to wait

<>

I stop answering his questions

I walk as fast as I can

dash across a street 

just as the lights change

he’s right behind me

<>

car wheels screech 

thud

thunk

I keep going

he’s not behind me

I won’t turn back

I don’t know him

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Nico’s Nirvana News

News & The Blues: Telling It Like It Is – this is a great of early blues recordings by the likes of Bessie Smith, Big Bill Broonzy & more. It is an excellent introduction to the time, to the performers & the political, labour context, with songs like“WPA Blues” “Unemployment Stomp.” Original recordings that have been sonically improved. I borrowed the cd from the library & made a cassette copy but eventually replaced it with this stand-alone.

Nico (Christa Päffgen) almost stole the first Velvet Underground’s lp with her smokey insidious singing. Her Euro accent added a level of sophistication to her tracts that the others didn’t have. I have stand-alone of her first lp: Chelsea Girl with songs by John Cale, Lou Reed & Jackson Browne. I later discovered she & Browne were lovers at the time! I’m sure there’s a movie in that relationship. 

Like many I was shocked & dismayed by the unexpected death of Kurt Cobain. I can’t say I was a fan but I did like Teen Spirit. I have stand-alones Nirvana’s Incesticide & Nevermind. Nevermind came first – bought on sale at HMV; Incesticide after his death – bought at nearby (now gone) 2nd hand record/cd/book store.

The pain in his voice is impossible to miss so his suicide wasn’t a surprise to me. The outpouring of grief went beyond gawking – people were genuinely hurt by his death. There is something about early death that instantly turns stars into legends so appraising their work is difficult. Not everything recorded by Janis, Jim Morrison, Hendrix, Prince is a work of genius but we can’t be critical of dead. As Blondie sang ‘die young stay pretty.’ 

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Valley of the Bras

After reading Stephen Rebello’s Dolls! Dolls! Dolls! I was keen to see the movie, again, & had planned watch it on my own on a rainy day but after seeing the excellent ‘Hitch’ which was based on Rebello’s ‘Alfred Hitchcock & the Making of Psycho’ my partner read ‘Dolls! Dolls! Dolls!’ also wanted to see it again. So we dug out the 2 disc ‘Special Edition’ – loaded with great extras. I had reread the novel earlier this year so I was eager to rewatch the film.

Where to start? The movie pales in comparison to the novel & I understand why fans were disappointed in the adaptation that removed 3/4 of the book. The characters are reduced to stick figures – gone is the fact they women live together for a time – in the film there isn’t one scene of the three of them together. Gone is Anne’s friendship with Helen Lawson – in fact Helen is almost excised from the script – Hayward’s performance jump starts the movie whenever she appears.

Don’t get me started the those songs – we get a glimpse of the Lawson’s Broadway show number ‘I’ll Plant My Own Tree’ & it is clear that no one involved in the film every saw, or was involved with a Broadway show. The song is clunky & staged with all the Broadway stage reality of a Busby Berkeley number but absolutely no sparkle. Hayward lip syncs it well enough. No Broadway set designer would ever ever use a mobile that covered the star’s face constantly.

Patty was not pleased to be dubbed & as result released the lp Patty Duke ‘Sings Songs from the Valley of the Dolls.. Yes, I have it thanks to iTunes & it fits perfectly with the music misfire of the movie. It did nothing to enhance her reputation as a singer 🙂 Nor did the film do much to enhance her reputation as an actress. In fact none of the cast’s career potential was increased by the film. Such is the harsh reality of life in the valley of the dolls.

I felt for Barbra Parkins when I saw those beige ‘office’ costumes when they matched the beige every wall she stood in front of. I laughed at the fab cosmetics commercial montage – a product supposed for any woman while she looks like an alien. But as she climbs the ladder to success her costumes do improve even as they remain impractical. 

Patty Duke bravely & brazenly barrels though Neely without taking a breath. Her few scenes with Hayward are rich – Duke noisily claws the scenery, Hayward demolishes it by simply putting on a scarf. Yes, this movie needed more Lawson. Sharon Tate is nearly invisible as her story line is gutted by the screenplay. 

How these actresses where treated by the industry is worse than how the characters they play are treated by the industry. I really think the guys who made Feud should consider this Making of Valleys as their next project. Oh yes my title ‘Valleys of the Bras.’ There is nothing lurid in the film but Parkins, Duke & Tate, at different points in the film, spend an inordinate amount of time emoting in bra & half-slip. 

Ready

it turns into a trade

this is what I want

this is what it’ll cost

is that the price I’m willing to pay

is the sacrifice worth the result

<>

why can’t I have it my way

is that too much to ask

I’m willing to compromise some

but when is enough enough

can I say no 

to losing more of myself 

to gain something I expect to get

by saying yes to

what I want to say no to

<>

can I say yes and no 

at the same time

how will you do

when I say yes I want what you offer

but not with the conditions you offer it with

do I want to give up

the comfort of abstractions

for the sake of superficiality of the concrete

if I’m ready for my close up

do I want to stand in front of the camera

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Nilsson Sparks Perth and the Frogs Beyond

Over a two cd mp3 collection if have Nilsson’s Aerial Pandemonium Ballet (1971) – reworking earlier material – “Without Her”; Nilsson Schmilsson (1971) “Without You” “Gotta Get Up”; Son of Schmilsson (1972) “You’re Breaking My Heart” “Joy”; A Little Touch of Schmilsson In The Night (1973) “Lazy Moon”. You might say I am a fan 🙂

Some of these I had as lp at the time, some were added later. He hit big with Everybody’s Talkin’ used in the film Midnight Cowboy. His songs run from ultra-romantic to hilariously bitter. His vocals on ‘Without You” are heartbreaking in a way Ed Sheeran can only dream about. Things apparently didn’t go well with her though, resulting in “You’re Breaking My Heart” – ‘so fuck you.’ On ‘Little Touch’ he does sublime work on classics while adding little touches of humour to them. A genius who got destroyed by booze, drugs & John Lennon.

‘Sparks’ Maels brothers group overflows with off kilter humour. Here I have Propaganda (1974) “Don’t Leave Me Alone With Her”; Indiscreet (1975) “Hospitality On Parade” “Tits.” Similar to the smart-ass 10 c.c. these guys are witty, musically gifted & relentless. The cover art on these is also amazing.

One of my mid60’s top-ten hit-parade loves was Crispian St. Peters’ ‘The Pied Piper’ the recorder was seductive & the engineering excellent. I may have had the 45 at the time. So a few years ago I tracked down his lps & here have The Pied Piper (1966) & Follow Me (1966). The 2nd has the radio mix  of “Pied Piper.” The earlier version is more sweetly folksy while the 2nd has more of a rock feel. His voice & other material is very Van Morrison Them period.

Alan Price made the Animals hit parade worthy & then departed the band. I have his lp with Georgie Fame and Alan Price: Together (1971); & the must have Oh Lucky Man soundtrack (1973). Fame is a British blues, r’n’b legend who never made it big in America; which is also true for Alan – except for the Lucky Man soundtrack. That lp was a must have thanks to the wild movie it is from. Price appears in the film – not seen it? Find it asap.

Barry McGuire: Anthology. If you are looking for a ‘lost’ Mamas & Papas lp his second is the one to find. Produced by John Philips & with all backing vocals by the M&P it is classic California flower power. The bulk of it is in this Anthology including the still relevant Eve of Destruction (by P.F. Sloan). After his initial pop splash he escaped rock evils into contemporary Christian music.

Another early 70’s must have Canada’s Perth County Conspiracy out of Stratford Ontario. I loved Does Not Exist (1970) & enjoyed Alive (1971). Sweet harmonies for a folk-rock commune when everybody wanted to love down on the farm & in a commune. Love songs, anti-war songs, amazing engineering. Free love overflows from these lps (now mp3s) though it was hetero love so the farms were safe for kids.

Not safe for kids was Jackie Shane: Live (1967) Jackie was a pioneer transgender performer who shook up the Toronto r.n.b scene. Think James Brown in drag (not be confused with Little Richard). Jackie became too popular & ended up deported back to the States. The music is solid soul with a fearless nod to queer lives. I have a collection of Jackie’s studios recording on another mp3 bonanza.

Finally is The Frogs: It’s Only Right & Natural (1989) gay garage band with cellos! Wildly funny, almost deconstructed pop with cellos! A clear influence on The Hidden Cameras. A track was posted on Tumblr & I had to have more. You want a slice of out queer music history this is for you.



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Tales of Brave Trending

Oscar Wilde said something the effect that it doesn’t matter what people say about you, as long as they are talking about. Bad press is better that no press act all. It is better to be trending for being an asshole that not to be trending at all. The recent US President was a master of trending & seemed to get ‘fatter’ on the negativity than on praise.

A couple of rock legends have breathed life into their trending by being vocal anti-vaxxers. Releasing new music to articulate their stance. Eric Clapton, Van Morrison – as a duo & separately have chosen to stand up for the common people with their recent releases. 

I’ve listened to the songs, read the various comments & am more amused than impressed. Positive posters praise them for their anti-establishment stances & their decisions not to play where masks are mandatory etc. I want to say ‘Honey, these men are millionaires not anti-establishment spokespersons. They represent their own bottom line not your rights as an individual.’ Check out the ticket prices to their concerts.

As I said, I’ve listened to their brave anti-lockdown songs & you know, if they weren’t publicized as anti-safety-protocol songs it would easy to assume Eric is mildly peeved that his latte wasn’t milky enough. The music itself is low-energy, the singing is indifferent & the lyrics are cliche. 

Those who are critical of Eric & Van’s anti-establishment stance have derided them for being uninformed. There have been pics posted of their cds being tossed in the garbage. I want to say ‘Honey, these men are millionaires you can’t un-buy their music.’ 

I see all this more as p.r. than anything else. A way of seeming culturally relevant in ways their music isn’t, unless nostalgia is a radical construct. Their search for self-expression was rarely anti-establishment. A man who sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads turns out to be an anti-vaxxer. Gasp!

Civic Duty (2008)

I’m believin’ what Stephen has to say

Harper harping on what ordinary folks

think of the arts 

sad to say he’s right

ordinary guys are more interested 

getting in cheap dope

getting their hands on the latest xbox

than they are in 

Canadian Short Story anthologies

they want hockey scores 

blow jobs on demand

they don’t want no Canadian identity TV 

they want CSI not Little Mosque on the Prairie

they want Steven King 

not David Adams Richards 

<>

in fact Mr Harper 

you would do us all a favour 

if you out right banned 

anything that called itself Canadian 

who needs McLean’s 

when we can have People

who wants to see Canadians 

give us Linsey Lohan in a yellow thong

not Sarah McLaughlin in gossamer scarves

<>

the ordinary folks don’t give a crap about much 

they would really love it if 

you could see to it t

hat they never have to work

because they don’t like getting up

dragging their weary bones 

to some soul sucking job

so if you really want to get elected 

let us live in luxury 

without having to do anything

we don’t want no education 

studying is a total bore

and a waste of taxpayers money 

creating art elitists 

university degrees 

they only use to make them act superior 

to us ordinary Joes and Janes

whose backs they are climbing on 

to get to the opera

while we have to sit around Tim Horton’s

waiting for our Old Fashioned glazed 

to be digested

we want tv’s everywhere

free cable

free data plans

get rid of the cbc

give us all sports channels

free porn for my android

<>

it has to be free

if you want to get elected 

free beer for teens

that’s the ticket

give the ordinary folks 

what they truly desire 

a life free of want

free of any responsibility

the arts are the pretty tip

of that ugly iceberg

<>

I’m so believin’ 

what Stephen has to say 

glad someone had the balls 

to finally say those arts phonies 

are just cry babies 

who suck the vital masculinity 

from our country

we gotta get this country

back on track

take back Canada

redirect the wasted energy 

we put in to the arts

we finally have leader

who can lead out of the cave 

& into the deep dark forest

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Afro-Classic Laws

I picked up Hubert Laws’  Afro-Classic (1970) at a used record store back in the day. I was attracted by the cover art – the cheetah (I think), then by the selection (Bach/Mozart) & finally by the producer: Don Sebesky. A few years later I added lp of Rite of Spring (1971) another all classical jazz. When I upgraded to mp3 I added Studio Trieste (1982) w Chet Baker (includes Swan Lake), & Land Of Passion (1979) easy listening a step above Kenny G.

Don Sebesky devoted himself primarily to arranging and conducting mashed up jazz/classical work for a cadre of prime jazz musicians such as Hubert Laws, Gabor Szabo, Wes Montgomery. His ‘Big Box’ contains the superb mash of Birds of Fire with Firebird. His work is tasteful & easy – nothing aggressive or even transgressive. His work on the Hubert Laws lps is sweet, Laws is an excellent musician in his own right & the two of them go together well. If you are unfamiliar try Rite of Spring.

Walt Dickerson: Impressions of Lawrence of Arabia  (1963) Jarre’s music by vibraphonist Dickerson was an lp I picked up 2nd hand & enjoyed. I knew the film music but had didn’t know Dickerson at all. An engaging & interesting exploration of the music I’ve always enjoyed. Nothing aggressive but more than mere instrumental background music.

Also on this cd are some more challenging works by John Abercrombie Quartet (1980) on the ECM label. This a simmering shimmering set with amazing guitar work by Abercrombie. Inventive without becoming overly aggressive. If you want to step up the challenging there is Jan Garbarek’s Esoteric Circle (1969) Norwegian tenor sax Gararek is joined by the amazing Terje Rypdal on guitar. Gararek work here is more jazzy than soaring – his sound is distinctive & I’d recommend anything by him. Rypdal is amazing too & even creates his own guitars. Sonic tapestries that are slightly discomforting in a good way.

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