Thursday, 23 June 2011

Kate Bush: The thrill and the hurting

Bloomsday this year brought me a very pleasant surprise in Slate magazine’s splendid set of links for celebrating Ulysses online. It also reminded me that in spite of best intentions I’ve yet to get to a record shop and purchase Kate Bush’s The Director’s Cut, with its allegedly ‘warmer’ and ‘more organic’ re-workings of her material circa 1989-1993, including the new ‘Sensual World’ with approved extracts from Joyce. However the great video jukebox that is YouTube has given me a preview and... well, I don’t know. The musical-production fashions and stylings of the 1980s, which seemed old to me by round about 1990, have a fair bit to commend them now, I’d say. And I don’t think that too much of The Sensual World as an album is really improvable (The Red Shoes rather more so...) But, eh bien, I think one generous YouTube commenter puts it best: ‘None of these songs are better than the originals, i don’t think they were meant to be, it’s just good to add them to your collection and enjoy them for what they are...’ That is indeed the spirit.

The Faber Social: It Lives, and Shall Live Again...

A late word for the inaugural Faber Social which took place on Monday June 6: a really good night, auguring well for many more top-drawer monthly literary-musical evenings ahead. (The proceedings had a nice write-up from Max Liu here). The audience were savvy and engaged, both for myself and David Peace in our discussion of gothic themes, and for Simon Reynolds and Bob Stanley on pop's endless fixation upon recycling. The Social as a venue is both suitably intimate for dialogue and good and lively for the purpose of spinning a few tunes. (Highlight for me having retired to the bar was hearing Simon Reynolds drop John Martyn's 'Big Muff'). But the overall top moment was hearing David Peace's incantatory reading of the 'Battle of Orgreave' chapter from GB84. I must admit that when I headed down the steps into the Social basement for the start of the night's proceedings I was feeling roughly twice my age, yet seeing my face on the promotional posters alongside the DJs was a kind of anti-ageing serum for the soul...

Bloody England in the Summertime

I'll always remember June of 2006: a new home, our firstborn child just a few months’ old, the drama of Zidane's swansong World Cup on the telly, and – I’m certain of this – a kindling early summer heat that came off the very paving stones beneath one’s feet. Conversely the cold, dreich summer of 2007 I'll always associate with Gordon Brown. (And sometimes I feel like we're still living through it.) As for 2011 – we’ve now had the Solstice, a day I always think of as Great Gatsby Day ("I always watch for the longest day in the year and then miss it...") and still we’re peering up at drear skies, scouring for patches of blue... Good lord, is this how it will be from now on?