Friday, June 27, 2008

"The Art Teacher"

Sometimes I think if I analyze something too much I'll ruin it.

And that might be the case with this song by Rufus Wainwright. I never fail to tear up a bit at this song's beauty and I can't think of very many songs that do that to me so consistently.

I love how he is singing it in the part of the girl now grown and reflecting back on the teacher and that always makes me think of Miss Haines who was my 8th Grade Algebra teacher.

She was very attractive, probably in her mid-twenties, and used to wear these horrible polyester pantsuits with VPL. She was still very cute despite the polyester which is God's worst fabric I'm sure.

I was the fat kid in the back. (I got shuffled into Alegbra because of my good math grades in 7th grade BUT I had to repeat Alegbra my first year in High School anyway). And I can recall with vividness the day after John Lennon was shot and Miss Haines, visibly upset, relating how she grew up with the Beatles (if she was 25 in 1980 that would have made her a teenager when they were still recording as a group) and then asking the class if any of us liked the Beatles. I meekly raised my hand having just gotten the Beatles "red" collection on vinyl at Thanksgiving (I got the "blue" one at Christmas). I think my friend Dirk raised his hand too but at the time Dirk was more into Styx and metal but I think he had a soft spot for the Beatles too.

This is the video for "(Just Like)Starting Over" that I recall seeing on the Casey Kasem TV show shortly after Lennon's death (this was pre-MTV after all).

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Good God, I Sound Like A Liberal..."

I've been listening to the Manic Street Preachers for 10 years now -- I had heard bits and pieces of things earlier but I count the release of "You Stole The Sun From My Heart" as the moment when I jumped onto their bandwagon completely -- and I like all of their eras; the battle between the The Holy Bible-and-earlier Manics fans and the Everything Must Go-and-after Manics fans is a false one dreamed up by the UK music press.

Like all great bands -- even U2 whom I'm sick of at this moment -- the band has evolved. And the claim that the post-1996 material is Dad Rock is ridiculous; from where I stand as a fan who came in near that moment, the band's earlier material is the more derivative as it was only with the passing of Richey Edwards that they managed to turn themselves into something unique beyond Class of 1977 Punk revivalists: the secular U2, for lack of a better term.

They shamelessly copied The Clash and Guns and Roses at first and then achieved greatness with The Holy Bible, an album that sounds like nothing else I've ever heard and which delivers on every listen. Thematically, sonically, and completely of itself, the album is metal, punk, indie, and new wave -- it fits into the UK's New Wave of New Wave and transcends it with lyrics that stand on their own -- a rare feat (and on a wildly personal note, it sounds like what I was writing when I had my little nervous breakdown at the age of 20 -- the only other LP that struck such a similar chord of recognition with me was the first Throwing Muses; both that 4AD LP and the Manics' The Holy Bible eerily remind me of what I felt in my head, and what I tried to rush onto paper, in 1987. For all that, the Manics remain ferocious -- one listen to the anti-PC "P.C.P." is enough to convince.)

With 2007's Send Away The Tigers, the band seemed to be mixing the earlier Clash-y bluster with the mellowness of middle age -- the 2004 Lifeblood was impressive but apparently many fans dismissed it though I enjoyed it immensely.

With this track, my go-to for driving in traffic a year on from its release, they manage to be political and succinct, the antithesis of Bono or Sting. The closest U2 have come to a moment like this is the great "God Part 2" from the Rattle And Hum soundtrack but, alas, that track is tinged through with Bono's bombast and ego (but I still like it 20 years on).

AND the Manics do it with sarcasm -- a trait U2 have never been good at as I'm pretty sure there's nothing more unfunny than Bono trying to be ironic or funny.

UPDATE: How fitting this post happened on the morning that the two chief scumbags of the Bush Torture Company are testifying in the House. Watch here.

"The CIA will stay invisible...
Can anybody hear the screaming of the long hard revolution?"

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Tired Of England" -- Yeah, Maybe!

After listening to the new Dirty Pretty Things LP courtesy of a link on NME's media player, and then watching this new video on You Tube, I'm simply shrugging, "eh."

This song desperately needs the danger and wit of Pete Doherty -- it sounds like a Babyshambles throwaway from their first album and that album sounded like Libertines throwaways despite a few moments of greatness.

Please, for the love of rock, Carl and Pete need to reunite because separately they are mediocre at best (the magnificence of "Bang Bang You're Dead" and "Fuck Forever" notwithstanding).

And Barat looks sickly in this thing. Makes me long for the days of Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler or Jarvis.

You know, the early Manics were cartoonish at times, and they slavishly aped The Clash, BUT...BUT...they rocked with grandeur and had style to burn.

Give me an adolescent manifesto like this anyday over sickly b-list third gen Britpop (admittedly a weak video but the song -- the title especially -- is genius for a song this much near heavy metal!)