Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Absolutely knackered today. A staff-student consultative meeting, followed by a seminar (excellent) given by a PhD student I co-supervise, a hastily guzzled and impromptu lunch with sociologists, sugarless V, students at door, tutor discussion, a two-hour lecture on two films (thank the gods for V), tech hassles and then more emails to send. Just shattered though a lot was accomplished. Tomorrow I'm immersed in admin duties, some driving chores around Auckland and gearing up for the big push on a chapter about The Smiths that's due by the end of the month. I'm getting an early night.

Made dinner and watched the 52 minute documentary Made in Sheffield about The Human League, Cabaret Voltaire, ABC, Heaven 17 etc. Jarvis Cocker is great though he didn't appear in this film that much. His recent track 'Cunts Are Still Running the World' should become a football anthem at the very least.

I loved Cabaret Voltaire so much back in the day when I lived in Ilkley. Always liked that idea of musicians who didn't really play musical 'instruments' much, but messed about with tapes and electronics. I guess because I didn't have any musical ability myself. I've never quite forgiven this friend of mine who in 1979 or 80 went down to their studio Western Works on the train without telling me, even though he knew I was also a fan. Anyway, the documentary wasn't spectacular but it grasped that post-punk feeling of a burst of creativity that may not last long, may not eventuate in a musical career, but still leaves a deep mark on all the participants. The 'losers' and the 'winners' were there but it didn't make you feel sorry for those who didn't 'make it' in the biz. I liked that. But the film could have gone deeper. NME journalist Andy Gill was really banal and lazy with his comments. The provinces struck back but the Sheffield scene was telescoped from 1977 to 1982. Weird to think that The Human League supported Def Leppard when they were both just local acts.

The Cabs music with its chewed up news and current affairs sound bites and Middle Eastern noise seems more relevant than ever.

About a week ago, I finally got around to seeing Scorsese's documentary on Bob Dylan: No Direction Home. I'm no Dylanologist and I've read it's been vetted by His Royal Grumpiness. But it was still moving and really well put together. Amazing old footage and an interesting structure that kept returning to that UK tour when the folk nazis booed him, one shouting 'Judas' at him from the audience. Thank you Pennebaker and all those other filmmakers. The recent interviews with Dylan weren't that enlightening, but much of the material on the folk scene was new to me.

I was struck by how they had workshops for 'topical songwriting' at the Newport Jazz Festival each year in the early 1960s. Dylan eventually reacted against being a spokesman for his generation. The press conferences here make you want to strangle journalists.

I like the idea of a diffuse sort of topical that doesn't depend on being too literal (though I do start this comp with a track called Towering Inferno!). Something more like a structure of feeling is what I try to achieve, not in songwriting obviously, but in the ordinary art of the compilation. The titles may be a bit more suggestive of course. First and foremost the music has to be topnotch.

One of the things about the beats and folkies reminiscing about the late 50s and early 60s was that they felt completely like aliens in America. The Eisenhower Dream and then the Cuban missile crisis seemed so crazy. These freaks felt thoroughly at odds with the way that 'context' was being understood in the American mainstream. Ginsberg is good value in this film, in archival footage and as an ailing man in the near present. He's smarter than the rest. I love his memory of landing in Dylan's London hotel room in 1966 where the Beatles were hanging out. He sat in Lennon's lap and was surprised that these young men with so much power and influence were so unsure how to use their power. He was older and had just got kicked out of Cuba for protesting against Castro's record on gay rights and also Czechoslovakia where he had been involved in carnivalesque demonstrations.

Woodwork squeeks and out come the freaks, sang Was Not Was in their own Vietnam boogie many years ago.

I connect very little to the daily non-fictions that are supposed to make sense of now.

The music is more attuned.

Yesterday or the day before I finished this playlist from borrowed, bought and downloaded music (see links on left) to capture a post 911 paranoid vibe. That doesn't just mean the homeland environment of fear created by the holy trinity of Bush-Blair-Benedict but the Mozzies feeling the surveillance back home in the UK. Paranoid Time, to quote The Minutemen. This keeps me occupied. I know I'm repetitive but as long as the music isn't then that's OK I figure.

There's a bit of dis and a bit a dat as usual: African funk pop, slice-a-life surrealist hip hop, slapping basslines, Londinium glossalalia, reservation revolution, Chicano fatback drums, San Pedro punk slam dunk, explosive surf guitar, 80s lyrical implosion, a fatal bus accident, yearning soul, spare cabaret versions, percussive strings, gospel steel and slide, folkie utopianism, electro-orientalism, a haunting mash-up, croc hunter cover, selassie I, and another Dylan interpretation.

Most of it you can find in the nooks of the network and the crannies of cyberspace, so there's no need to post it in MP3 form here. The title's a nod to USAnian vernacular and Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now. I'm sure that line about loving the smell of napalm in the morning was written by that Nietzschean rightwinger John Milius. He went on to direct the paranoid Red Dawn. I'd expect him to be shooting and editing torture footage for the US government, but don't have a clue what he's up to these days. Probably surfing.

MC LYTE--Cappuccino
ESG--Keep On Moving
LADY SOVEREIGN--Public Warning
LEWIS CLARK--Red Man's Revenge
MINUTEMEN--Mr Robot's Holy Orders
THE BAGDADS--Livin' In Fear
LA MAISON TELLIER--Toxic (Rough mix)
DAMIEN RICE--Seven Nation Army
CHAD MITCHELL--Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream
DOLLAR--Shooting Star
THE WHO BOYS--In Every Ghost Town A Heartache (The Specials vs. Roxy Music)
MAX ROMEO--Melt Away
THE WHITE STRIPES--One More Cup Of Coffee


Peter said...

Milius most recent credit - writer for an episode of tv series Rome, on our screens not so long ago. the joys of

nabeel said...

Thanks Peter. He must have done one of the super imperial ones with a focus on Caesar and the quest for power.