Another weekend done and dusted and a little closer to the commercial hell masquerading as Xmas-sightings of the first Chanel No.5 advert, traditionally December 1,signifies the point I realise I can’t ignore it any longer- and the countdown to the conclusion –and demise?- of the X Factor. Finding myself unable to sit through a whole programme any longer I channel surfed through its duration on Saturday and only managed to catch a few ‘highlights’. These included the thing that calls itself a Tulisa telling Janet that listening to her singing-frankly the most boring version ever of Queen’s drama filled Somebody To Love ever sung- required her getting into a certain mood as if listening to N-Dubz were anyone’s choice for accompanying moments of calm and introspection. Surely every musical type or genre requires the listener to either be in a certain mood or ready to accept one. Even N-Dubz have their time and place even if it is never and nowhere. Meanwhile Marcus evolved even closer into Shane Ritchie on Seaside Special territory giving the same performance as the previous week and took one of the greatest bass lines ever-Queen’s Another One Bites The Dust- and combined it with a performance so tacky and naff it was excruciating to watch. Mind you this was nothing compared to Sunday when the brief part I caught saw Lady Gaga impersonating Kitty-it may have been the other way round but it was hard to tell- proving that often life imitates art or vice versa as again it was hard to tell.
Switching over from this pantomime with adverts I caught Martin Scorcese’s documentary on George Harrison and whilst it is yet another telling of the over familiar Beatles tale it offered a new and interesting perspective. Harrison struggled in the Beatles as he generally played third fiddle to the ongoing power struggle that was Lennon-McCartney but took advantage of this and studied hard under their superior songcraft eventually stockpiling a vast collection of songs which were constantly overlooked in favour of the bands two more dominant forces offerings. His patience and talent paid off post Beatles however when he was the first member to reach number one in both the singles and album chart with his solo releases-My Sweet Lord and All Things Must Pass respectively.
Harrison came across, it must be said, as quite a dour character who finding himself in the biggest and most successful band in the world somehow managed to balance the material world his wealth and fame afforded him with the spiritual world the same things allowed him to indulge. It is generally forgotten how the Beatles were simply four young men who accidentally changed the world-so much a part of our cultural landscape are they- and in comparison to the wannabes and desperadoes the music industry-not to mention a certain talent show-throws up these days they managed to remain relatively grounded. It really can’t have been easy to have been catapulted into global recognition and immense vast wealth unexpectedly and this documentary reveals how the band turned inwardly to each other as a means of support after all there was no blueprint or precedent for what they alone were experiencing. The documentary was indeed a a fascinating one if a trifle long-unlike Scorcese’s Dylan feature No Direction Home which showed the young bard blazing a trail at his creative peak- though it did reveal the total lack of style Harrison was in possession of. Lanky hair, fuzzy beard, denim dungarees and radiation yellow ‘blouse’ it showed that the suits that manager Brian Epstein foisted on them in their early days were perhaps the only time the band had any sense of sartorial style-unlike contemporaries such as the Rolling Stones, The Velvet Underground and the lizard king creator Jim Morrison who were all selling sex as part of the package-and left to their own devices often looked a mess struggling with kaftans and the like. Still it was all about the music with the Beatles and this has, admittedly, stood the test of time.
The Beatles were probably the first time youth took matters into their own hands concerning their own identities and it was interesting to read this week about the return of rave culture in inner London. With many not having the income to support a £10 entrance fee to a club and then fork out a fiver the return of this DIY ethic of the late eighties is perhaps the only alternative open to them. As a regular club-goer over several decades I must admit that the thought of entering one at the moment fills me with little or no excitement. It is an outdated concept that has changed little over the last twenty years-inflated prices and aggressive attitudes apart-and seems to have run its course. Andrew Logan in The British Guide To Showing Off proclaimed himself the last face of alternative and while there may be some truth in this I sincerely hope not. Instead I prefer to think that an alternative scene exists which I am simply too old to comprehend or know the existence of. It is unlikely though as soon as anything shows the slightest glimmer of promise the internet is all over it and the bandwagon jumpers and desperately hip are in there diluting and instantly mainstreaming it. The last movement I never understood was death metal and it gave me pleasure that at last the younger generation had concocted a musical language all their own and indecipherable to anyone over thirty. It was just a shame that the music was so God-awful sounding as if Satan and his helpers had moved in next door with a warehouse consignment of Ikea flat packs and power tools and were hastily assembling them all at the same time whilst simultaneously dismembering babies. At least they could call it their own even if only because no-one else wanted it.
This week the French film festival is on so I will be taking in several screenings as well as attending the launch of a new fashion store De La Sole in Rose Street which will be stocking the latest collection of one of my new favourite designers I saw at the Oohfashion Edinburgh show, Christine Watson.
Here is this weeks musical obsession EMA with a sound harking back to experimental arty avant garde rock but a fresh twist