When I was a teenager I was semi stalked by a poster of Robert Smith from The Cure.
Lots of people I knew had the exact same poster of Robert with his white face make up, rosy lips, white shirt and flowing mounds of black Goth hair.
Maybe I had a particular type of people I was friends with in my teens, but there was that same poster of Robert looking down at me.
I had heard the odd song by his band The Cure before this stalking incident, but hadn’t paid them a great deal of attention.
But during this period of my life I seemed to hear the Wish album on repeat whoever I was hanging out with.
Friday I’m in Love was the really big and – dare I say – pop ish song on the album, with the immense and fun video they made to promote it.
But the album also has To Wish Impossible Things, a lament to a relationship which didn’t work out which is one of my favourite pieces of music of all time.
A variation on a theme is this line from A letter to Elise “I’ll never really get inside of you / to make your eyes catch fire / the way they should” sums up the sadness felt by everyone who has been in a relationship where you are into them, but they are just not that into you.
On the album there is also Apart. Listen to Robert sing about his broken relationship: “How did we get this far apart? / I thought this love would last forever”
Without fail when I hear this track I want to burst into tears.
While the rhyme in High “When I see you sticky as lips / as licky as trips” always makes me want to giggle as it is just good fun and shows Robert’s less fragile side.
Aside from that beautifully tragic album you should also try more of the band’s back catalogue.
Listen to Boys Don’t Cry, Love Cats and In-between Days or any other song they recorded in the 1980s or early 90s.
Dark soundscapes, black emotions, the depths of despair with the odd moment of elation, but throughout gorgeous music.
The boys from the Mary Whitehouse Experience mercilessly mocked him for being miserable. But like any caricature, they only showed part of the story.
I read an article a while ago which said Robert is still writing songs and the band are undertaking a pretty big tour this year.
In spite of the slightly unconventional and downright weird way I first came to know Robert and his work, I highly recommend the band.
Whether or not you like Goth music or its bastard son Emo (and if you like Emo, The Cure most likely were an influence on the bands you listen to) or guitar music at all – if you enjoy music which moves you emotionally, you should check out the Cure.

Quite some time ago I suggested in a post that in the future  books will be sold in hardback a bit like rarities (a bit like how vinyl is produced and sold now in the era of iTunes) based on the theory that you can buy cheap text as a digital file (altho this has still not quite happened – yet) and if you really, really like the book you can buy it as a luxury item to have on show in your house (altho this will most likely be a wider trend than those few who still buy vinyl – and it is entirely possible this will herald a return to a bygone era when only rich people had books as they were expensive – altho in the future the less affluent will still have access to them, just via digital mediums rather than bulky paperbacks).

Out Christmas shopping in Exeter (UK) recently I saw this in Waterstones (the large store, not the small one – for those of you who know the city):



The text on the display, which you can partially see reads: “Classic books beautifully bound” – hardback books – objects of beauty and curiosity.

Expect to see more of this for all books as the digital revolution continues.

Books with sound?

September 29, 2011

One of the latest innovations in e publishing is books with sound effects.

Hmmm… I may be wrong, but I have to say, I am not convinced. Why would you want your eBook to play music throughout, like the incidental music in films.

Surely, you just need to buy an audio book and have it read to you with the incidental music there, rather than alongside your actual text? I often listen to random music when I read, but it is usually something I block out when I get engrossed (usually only noticing the sound when the playlist ends and some random mp3 comes on).

So, I remain unconvinced by the innovation of reading with its own pre-defined soundtrack, as do others. But let’s see what the eBook buying public think.

When I was younger, so much younger than today, some time in the mid 1980s, I saw an item on kids tv – I think it was john craven’s newsround – marking the 20th anniversary of the beatles releasing sgt peppers lonely hearts club band. I remember thinking two things, one; 20 years was a really, really long time ago and two; why would someone chose that for an item on kids TV news? I think it was the first time I ever questioned the news agenda of a media outlet, the beatles broke up before I was born and when John was shot I hadn’t even started school. My parents talked about the Beatles (my mum having been in the crowd screaming at Heathrow) but, I didn’t matter to me.

I remember this incident clearly and it was brought back to me when I saw the coverage about the 20th anniversary of Nevermind by Nirvana being released. I can actually remember where I was the first time I heard the album. (For the record, in the business studies room at school, we were doing the Young Enterprise Scheme and my suggestion for our company name, which had been selected, was Nirvana and it seemed appropriate we listen to the band who had been unheard of the first week of September when we chose the name and were now being talked about everywhere.)

And Nevermind really did change everything about music. I will rant about Nirvana another time, but while I care immensely about it (and it reminds me the 20th anniversary of Kurt dying is not that far away – and I remember where I was when I heard about that and who told me ) I know people who are 18 who really don’t get it. And I am sure kids TV age children would find it even less relevant (I have no idea if it was covered by Newsround – does Newsround even exist anymore?)

sleep deprived…

March 1, 2011

The other night, sleep deprived by the toddler, I found myself run out of nursery rhymes. So instead if “baa baa black sheep” or some such, I found myself singing the following (does this make me a bad person?):

“With the lights out, it’s less dangerous

Here we are now, entertain us

I feel stupid and contagious

Here we are now, entertain us”

What next I wonder?

Killing in the Name by RATM would be a natural choice, but after the abomination of Skins season 5 ep 2, it feels a bit raw.

So, it may be better I opt for Where is my Mind by the Pixies…

Since I mentioned The Bends by Radiohead last week I thought I better clarify a one thing:

I count The Bends as a better album than Nevermind (only just). Nirvana were era defining (and the riff from Smells Like still makes the hairs on my neck stand on end) but in many ways so was The Bends.

Lines like:

“He used to do surgery / For girls in the 80s / But gravity always wins”

Have only become more relevant as the 21st century has ramped up and tv horror shows like Extreme Makeover have sprouted.

So, for reference, my top 10 albums of the 1990s are:

1. The Bends – Radiohead

2. Nevermind – Nirvana

3. Coming Up – Suede

4. Parklife – Blur

5. (What’s the story) Morning Glory – Oasis

6. Second Toughest in the Infants – Underworld

7. Garbage – Garbage

8. Live Thru This – Hole

9. Protection – Massive Attack

10. Everything Must Go – Manic Street Preachers

Not far off the running were Dookie by Green Day , Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette and KE*A*H** by Ministry.

Feel free to disagree / list your choices…

While I do not have the qualifications to argue about climate change, I do know enough about supply and demand in a finite universe to discuss oil.

The world is a finite size, the amount of oil available on the planet is also going to be finite. How ever many billions of barrels there are left, every day there is less – as we are quite literally burning what we have.

At some point we will have less oil left than we have used already – and after more than a century of using oil as fuel, with demand only ever rising, the argument remains about whether we have already reached this point, which is referred to as peak oil.

The issue about reaching this point is that while demand rises the resource becomes more and more scarce. Films like Mad Max 2 show what happens in the world of low oil when people are competing for the resource. The movies always show the most extreme version of a situation, but you get the idea.

As Thom Yorke of Radiohead sang on the track My Iron Lung from their 1994 album The Bends:

“When the power runs out / We’ll just hum”

Gotta love the GaGa

September 19, 2010

The other Sunday the Sunday Times ran a story in its magazine about Lady GaGa.

I would link to the story, but since Rupurt Murdoch has erected a paywall around it I won’t bother – I wouldnt want you to think I was encouraging you to pay for it – mostly cos the article seemed to be aimed at giving GaGa a good kick in.

The upshot was she was an upstart oik stealing her ideas from all sorts of previous icons. I’m fairly certain this is quite a common thing with pop / film / etc. The article itself ludicrously points out Madonna made a career from doing pretty much this, but for reasons the writer didn’t fully explain she felt when Madonna did it, this was cool, but with GaGa it was just rubbish.

GaGa is a bit of a loon – witness if you will the meat dress.  But she has moulded a sense of style into what she does that has captured the hearts and minds of many across the world.

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