On Live Music

This evening I am planning to go to the Godiva Festival in Coventry, which claims to be the UK’s largest free family music festival (because if you chuck enough adjectives at something you can be the biggest/most/best whatever you like).

I last saw live music in May (Charlotte Church in Birmingham) but the last time before that, unless I’m forgetting something, was in the vicinity of four years ago (Skindred, also in Birmingham).  Which is sort of a shame, because I used to go to a lot of concerts and festivals and I had a lot of fun, but also not a shame because fuck staying up until 2am and spending a ton of money on something that, really, I could do without.

I have a bit of a question mark over the Godiva Festival because a) it’s probably going to be full of an awful lot of awful people (sorry Coventry) and b) it clogs up traffic in the whole city for the whole weekend which is quite annoying.

On the other hand, it’s free, I live within walking distance of the park, I like to try new things, the Stranglers are playing, I’ve got nothing better to do, and it’s free.  So what’s the worst that can happen?

 

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Pop Obituary: David Bowie

David Bowie was born David Jones on 8th January 1947 in Brixton, South London.  The son of a Kentish mother and a Yorkshireman father, he reportedly adopted his stage name in the mid-1960s to avoid confusion with Davy Jones, lead singer of the emerging Monkees.  He took the name Bowie from the iconic American frontiersman and his eponymous knife.

He formed his first band, The Konrads, aged just 15, playing at local weddings and youth events.  Upon leaving school he announced his intention to become a pop star and managed to find a manager, but his first single, “Liza Jane”, made no real impact.  After a few more unsuccessful releases with a variety of bands, his eponymous debut album in 1967 had a similar reception.

Later that year, however, he began to take an interest in developing alternative personae and ventured into the folk/psychedelic rock scene.  1969’s Space Oddity (originally also eponymous but re-released under the name of the lead single to reduce confusion).  The single itself reached the UK top 5 and Bowie’s first taste of success spurred him on to greater things.  The Man Who Sold the World, more heavily psychedelic, and Hunky Dory in 1970 and ’71 respectively met with increasing acclaim and triumph.  His breakthrough was established with Ziggy Stardust…the following year and the Bowie we know and love was to remain in the charts through the ‘70s and ‘80s with highlights including “Heroes” and Scary Monsters and Super Creeps.  After releasing a couple of albums with his new hard rock band Tin Machine (1989 & 1999) Bowie experimented with electronic music through the ‘90s before increasing health problems (including a 2004 heart attack) led to something of a withdrawal from public life.  In addition to his music, Bowie was also known for acting roles such as the lead in 1976’s The Man Who Fell to Earth and famously a creepy Goblin King in Labyrinth (1986).

David Bowie died of cancer on the 11th of January just two days after the release of Blackstar, his 25th studio album.  He had been diagnosed 18 months earlier.  He is survived by his second wife, Somali-American model Iman and his two children, film director Duncan “Zowie” Jones (born 1971 to his first wife Angie) and Alexandria Zahra Jones (2000).

I’m not going to claim super-fandom or anything of the like, nor do I believe that his passing leaves a huge hole in the industry today (Blackstar was just his second release since 2003).  Bowie’s legacy has been his greatest contribution to music for the last couple of decades at least and today’s sad news does nothing to change that.  He single-handedly brought about an industry-wide shift in the early-to-mid-‘70s with the likes of Ziggy Stardust… and Diamond Dogs and continued to alter his style, genre and even persona both ahead of and in response to the changing times.  On a personal level I will mostly remember the Bowie of the ‘70s – “Changes” and “Oh! You Pretty Things” from Hunky Dory and “Ziggy Stardust” are among my favourite tracks.  But David Bowie was many things to many, many people.  He was an extremely talented man and he will be missed.

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RIP David Bowie 1947-2016

Music Pop: For Those About to Rock

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Artist: AC/DC

Year: 1981

Example song: For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)

This may seem an odd album to open a blog on, but bear with me.

I’m currently in the middle (hah) of an epic quest to rate every song in my iTunes library, as part of my broader mission to experience as much (different) entertainment as possible.  Gone are the days of thousands of songs sitting in my iTunes, never to be played and discovered.  This, I have found out, is easier said than done.  As I type my library consists of 14916 songs, of which 4141 are yet to be rated.  Considering the latest Eminem album was released yesterday (The Marshall Mathers LP 2 – watch this space), this is likely to go up within the hour, and the only reason the number is so low (hah) is that I now only allow myself to add songs (albums) to my library as I rate (my current policy is to rate 2,000 songs before I allow myself to add another 1000).  This quest will theoretically end when my iPod is full, but then comes the new task of trimming the fat in order to create the perfect iPod.  Anyway, I’ll crawl across that bridge when I get to it.

So the point I guess I’m trying to make here is that more often than not, when I review an album it’s probably the first time I’m hearing it myself.  Most of the time I feel unfortunately guilty listening to an album I’ve already rated, like I’m wasting valuable discovery time.  So the albums I rate (for now) might seem a bizarre choice, but I do have a system.  Kinda.  Movies, books and the like follow a similar pattern, although maybe not to such an extreme.  Again, I’ll cross that bridge when I reach it.  Seems like the Yellow Brick Road goes over a lot of bridges on the way to the Emerald City of popular culture.  Or something.  Regardless; on with the show.

For Those About To Rock can be largely described as “an AC/DC album”.  This isn’t necessarily praise or criticism, just a simple truth.  AC/DC are a band I enjoy, and I found the album enjoyable.  The lyrics can be clever, but every song sounds sorta the same.  This is a general problem with the works of AC/DC.  The fact that I can’t actually tell if that was the first time I heard the album or not is hardly surprising.  Take out Back in BlackHighway to Hell and TNT and I challenge anyone to tell the difference between the rest of the band’s back catalogue.  Again, this isn’t a criticism.  If you like AC/DC, then you’ll probably like this album.  It is, after all, an AC/DC album.

My Rating: 6.5/10