Sunday, March 27, 2011

Raymond Roussel's "New Impressions of Africia"

First of all anyone who is interested in 20th century literature should have a copy of this book. Number two, beyond the hype or stories how this book affected the 20th Century and beyond - this is pretty damn great book. Raymond Roussel was one of those guys who had it. And yes extremely wealthy and extremely neurotic - but nevertheless a superb genius. 

So what we have is a poetry book that is also probably the most clever "literary" puzzle ever. The translator Mark Ford, who is also the English biographer of M. Roussel did a remarkable and perhaps impossible translation. Yet the popular pop culture of this work comes through and it really lives in the 21st Century.  Now bring on  the big budget Broadway version of this poem on stage!

progetto RAYMOND ROUSSEL by Q. Fabriziani and G. Nanni

Raymond Roussel

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Eric Weisbard's "Use Your Illusion I & II (33 1/3 Series)

Like the other books in the 33 1/3 series, a quick read. Also what is interesting is how the author looks at a record that he doesn't particularly like. This sounds like a disaster to read, but actually its an interesting way to walk through a work or record. The main interest in Eric Weisbard's study on "Use Your Illusion Parts 1 & 2 is not really the music itself but the concept of the big blockbuster album in the early 1990's. Especially when the young turks (Kurt Cobain) are literally around the corner.
Like a slow motion car wreck there is something absolutely fascinating about Axel Rose. One can say he's a villain of sorts, but he's more of an average joe with interesting traits or put in a very specific and strange situation - which is rock stardom. And Axel plays the rock star very very well. Its his performance that everyone finds intriguing - both off and on the stage. He has an unique voice and for me that what makes him stand out compared to the 'other' jerk rock n' roll guy.
The story has been told many many times. Elvis being one, of someone trapped in his culture. Axel wants to experiment, but he never lets himself free. The obsession of his records is that he takes so long to complete it - and that becomes the story itself. Which is fatal in rock n' roll terms. The fast, the speed of the music have to at least appear to be effortless and wild. When I hear a Guns n' Roses record, it seems to be an academic study on the making of "rock." And with respect to Axel and Co. it wasn't meant to be that way.
Weisbard's book is interesting when he writes about the business end of the last era of rock product, but its kind of a drag that he doesn't like "Use Your Illusion." I would have like to have him defend this work in that type of setting, but alas, his feelings for the album is not really blah, but more with a sense of strange passion on his part. Him going track-by-track at the end of the book was not necessary. In the back of this title it mentions that Weisbard is writing a book about crossover artists. That sounds fascinating and I will read that for sure

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Shadows - Wonderful Land

I had this on my blog before (not too long ago) but due to Jet Harris' recent passing -wanted to show his greatness and the beauty that this record is.

Jet Harris & Tony Meehan 'Hully Gully' & Man From Nowhere

Wait till a minute or so and see something fantastic from Jet Harris

Jet Harris - 'The Man With The Golden Arm'

Jet Harris playing "The Man With The Golden Arm" Fantastic bass run!

Diamonds - Jet Harris MBE & Tony Meehan

Jet Harris and Tony Meehan were the original rhythm section for The Shadows.

Jet Harris

A little tribute to Jet Harris.  An artist, to be quiet honest, I don't know too much about.  But what I do know is that I love his recordings.

Without a doubt one of the unique bass players that came out of the U.K.  In many ways he reminds me of Japan's late (and great) bass player Mick Karn and the always fascinating and of course great Jah Wobble.  It's unusual for a musician to be a pop star of sorts via his bass playing in the early 60's.  Of course the fact he was great looking in that moody pissed off way...well that's a plus, that's for sure.

The above cover is one of my favorite EP's.  It is one of those perfect moments.  Well to be exact a little bit under 9 minutes of perfection.  Jett is most famous for being the bass player for The Shadows.

Jet Harris on the far right.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

"Alfred Jarry" by Jill Fell

Alfred Jarry and his beloved bicycle

Ubu Roi program
Alfred Jarry

The Reaktion Books "Critical Lives" series is an excellent introduction to the avant-garde 19th and 20th Century.  One of the latest ones, Jill Fell's "Alfred Jarry," is a very important and equally enjoyable bio on this great French writer/playwright.
The inventor of "the play/puppet play Ubu Roi" and "pataphisics" the study and school of nonsense.  Also a man who is fond of guns and racing bicycles.  In fact that was his one mode of traveling around France.   He was the heart of the fin de siécle, yet he died a very early death due to excess drinking.
Reading this 200 page bio makes me want to go back into the world of Jarry, who was one of the fathers of DADA and Surrealism.  For sure a major influence on Boris Vian - and actually, Jarry was very much of a boho 1960's European figure.  I can imagine him being involved with the Living Theater.  But alas 60 years too early!   Its a shame that he didn't live to see what he brought to the world

"Rebel Youth" by Karlheinz Weinberger

Who would have known outside of Switzerland that the hippest looking youth was in that country. Specifically in the very early 1960's. Photographer and full-time factory worker Karlheinz Weinberger knew. He photographed these kids in the parks and in the streets, and to add a certain voyeur quality - in his apartment. Erotic, with a tinge of danger, and a loyalty to Elvis, Cliff, Vince Taylor, and Little Richard, these cold war babies had a clothing style that was borrowed but then they added their own touches. 

A combination of rocker with a Situationist/Letterist motif with a hairstyle that is based on the 1950's but looked forward to an unknown future. The kids are playful, but the photographer, who is much older, is not. And it is that tension between image-maker and its model that gives Weinberger an edge. The book also has a wonderful introduction by John Waters, who actually met the late great Karlheinz Weinberger.


A beautiful song by a beautiful singer. The roots of Soft Cell and of course an important figure with Marc Bolan (T-Rex)

London 60's Fashion

I found this on "Facebook."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bill Drummond's "$20,000"

"$20,000" is a combination of a travel journal (via the United Kingdom, and whatever that means to a British citizen), aesthetics, art, pop music, and the hard-to-answer question "what is an artist?" Bill Drummond is a man of great charm, but I find it a bit of a head scratcher why he's so interested in the subject matter of "Artist" in today's culture. 

For one he seems to fighting the public image of an artist, which seems to me kind of silly. I understand the concerns and the problems that goes with those concerns, but art is really like breathing. Even the most intellectual of artists Marcel Duchamp questioned the role of the artist in contemporary times. And there is also a guilt feeling from Drummond regarding the money worth of such art or the making of art with respect to the financial world. 

And also to reach the "common" man and woman while doing art. The beauty of pop music is an art form that is attracted to the masses. A painting can reach a lot of people, but it doesn't have the same affect as a commercially pop song. But the mediums are so different, that I think its hard to compare the two. 

Drummond came from an art background and then went into music making and its business. And I think it is the business aspect of music as well as the visual arts that fascinates him. And in turn it becomes his 'art'. 

The question is it good art? Drummond thinks a lot about this, but I think its impossible to answer because art is very subjective. It means different things to different people. You can define an aesthetic or theory on a page, but still people will react in their own ways towards a piece of music or art on a wall. Drummond is also very British in that he thinks what other citizens will react to his work. He's very funny, thoughtful, and I kind of disagree in how he looks at art - but I am happy to spend some time with him while he searches his soul and inner-thoughts on the subject of the role of the artist.