Monday, 26 October 2009

The performance of that PSB song!

Skip to 4.50 for The Performance of My Life, Dame Shirley Bassey's song written by Pet Shop Boys for her new David Arnold-produced album. I cried like a nelly at the end. This is the BBC's Electric Proms, a posh version of Top of the Pops, really, with the BBC Concert Orchestra providing the backing for the usual plethora of likely/unlikely acts.

And Patsy, she's 72!

Buy the album, The Performance, here and sample the mammoth Tom Baxter, Richard Hawley and Manic Street Preacher songs written for her.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Woo's that girl?

Pardon the pun, but Jonny Woo was asking for it. And not one to mince his words either he's called his latest stage show, Faggot. London's original and best bearded lady, queen of the the seen and he of The Night of a 1000 Jay Astons is playing to a packed house at Soho Theatre. Part childhood reminiscences - there's a lot of mileage in coming from the Medway towns. Who knew? - and part fantastical trippy stories, the show is clever, full of life and totally different. The man is a genius. Coming on like a punky Liza with a surprisingly legit voice, you get the impression this may be a run-of-the-mill cabaret show with a bit of, snore, attitude. But how very wrong.

The show backflips into a deluge of words. Memories, tongue twisters, raps and characters coming thick and fast. The only break from speech is a brilliantly conceived Bowery-inspired mime-thing about a shop worker's daily grind. With wry nods to clubbing, drugging and shagging Jonny's set is vare Mr Woo. Somehow, though, you know he has lived the tale first before telling it. But above all, it's FUNNY, in capital letters. A fistful of fairies in flat getting high on Sara Lee space cake? Or how about the Sausage Siblings, a tongue twister about a set of siblings who shoved sausages up themselves, read by a character called Spam Ayres.

Faggot ties in with his new EP of the same name. Unfortunately, I've searched high and low for a link to buy it but there isn't one. I'll gladly put one up if there is! But to make do, listen to the soundcloud widget below...

Faggot by Jonny Woo

For all things Jonny, who he is and where she's come from, read this recent Times interview. And here's Jonny on a wild goose chase through London...

Saturday, 17 October 2009


And so the much-anticipated Synth Britannia aired in the UK last night on BBC Four. Here's Neil and Chris in their segment with nothing new to say, unfortunately, but it fits neatly into the documentary as a whole which concentrated on electronic music pioneers.

Overall, the doc scores a B+. There were a few holes, like not enough credit to Soft Cell and missing out completely on how they produced the first ecstasy-influenced dance music. There was too much of OMD and it overplayed their influence on the genre. But there was just the right amount of credence given to synth giants The Human League. This is Phil talking (see what I did there) about their first synthesizer.

Music journo, Simon Reynolds, was the glue which held everything together. His knowledge of the era was acutely observed - how The Human League parts 1 and 2 straddled and defined the non-human first phase and the popular emotion-led second phase. Very clever. Read his info-packed Guardian piece here heralding the documentary. It's also refreshing to see Gary Numan get the credit he deserves for being the first synth act to break through (even though he's a card-carrying Tory!!) and Depeche Mode being held up as the innovators they were, even though the serious music press were so hard on them at the time. I never noticed, really, too immersed in my Smash Hits mag.

With a few exceptions, the synth world of the 80s was a very laddish affair, which is why the women of the genre stood out a mile in this programme. They were also the wittiest. Jo and Susanne on the League being the first UK band to use the Linn drum machine: "The boys got so bleeding excited over this big black box with knobs on". And Alison Moyet describing seeing Depeche Mode around Basildon: "With their fluffy blonde hair they looked like little ducks".

For loads of other clips from the 90 minute doc, go here and here.

Thanks to Stuart for the Fauxlaroid of The Human League above.

A friend of mine emailed me her five thoughts after the programme:
1. Andy McLuskey looked like Anton Du Beke. Twat.
2. Why only one tantalising glimpse of Dave Sylvian? Swoon.
3. Martyn Ware looks like Martin Clunes.
4. GARY NUMAN'S WIG!! Get a lighter colour, mate.
5. Still don't know what a synthesiser is.

And I replied with mine:
1. The young Andy McLuskey looked like a wig on a stick.
2. Thompson Twins? Trite? (Or did they say 'shite'). Tut tut.
3. Phil Oakey looks just the same as he always has. He just looks like he's taken a wig off.
4. Gary Numan looks like Parker from the Thunderbirds now.
5. Bernard Sumner BUILT his own synthesiser. And it didn't work, so he obviously doesn't know what a synthesiser is either.

"At last, I'm on Jools Holland's show..."

Not a dicky bird and then? Another post about Paloma Faith. Hey ho! But this clip is worth it. From last night's Later... with Jools Holland Paloma does Upside Down and the mighty New York. She also does a cute little interview with Jools where she reveals it was an ambition of hers to play on his show. Sorted!

Monday, 5 October 2009

"She stood so tall and she never slept..."

Paloma Faith New York OFFICIAL Behind The Scenes

How can anyone NOT love this song. It has everything: a story, strings, sadness and sensation. I was on a train from Liverpool to London on Sunday and Paloma Faith was as happy as Larry two seats behind me. Maybe she'd just heard that New York had gone top twenty in the UK or maybe she was just on a high because she knew she had a brilliant record out. Whatevs. This is one of the songs of 2009 for me, and this sweet behind-the-scenes video just endears me more to La Faith. For the full, glorious version, go here.