lundi, septembre 15, 2008

Richard Wright

Founding member of Pink Floyd dies.
Richard Wright of Pink Floyd

Richard Wright (far right) was Pink Floyd's long-term keyboard player. Photograph: Hulton Archive

Richard Wright, one of the founding members of Pink Floyd, has died today following a struggle with cancer. He was 65.

Wright was the band's long-term keyboard player, as well as a songwriting contributor to classic albums such as Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here. He also mastered a wide range of instruments including the synthesiser and Farfisa organ, during the many years of Pink Floyd's career.

The band formed in the mid-60s, during which time Wright performed as a vocalist on many of the their songs. However, his preoccupation later on was with experimental compositions, a credit to the many instruments he played.

Wright released a solo record in 1978 called Wet Dream and went on to form pop group Zee in the 1980s, though, perhaps unsurprisingly, neither were quite as successful as his original band.

Wright performed with the surviving members of Pink Floyd in 2005 for Live 8.

Fellow founding member Syd Barrett died of pancreatic cancer in July 2006.

mercredi, mai 14, 2008

Arcade Fire news

Arcade Fire to score Donnie Darko director's new film.

Montreal's finest return from their holidays with a soundtrack of shadowy anthems. Expect hurdy gurdys and Cameron Diaz.

Sean Michaels
Tuesday May 13, 2008

Arcade Fire and Richard Kelly seem to be unrelated - but as Donnie Darko taught us, the oddest things turn out to be connected.

The first are earnest art-rock musicians, gallivanting round Montreal's Mile End, the second is an idiosyncratic film auteur, busying himself on directing a new Cameron Diaz flick.

After months of touring, Arcade Fire returned to Montreal this spring for some quiet time. They sipped coffees and ate ice-creams, but apart from a few rallies for Barack Obama they waved off concert requests or the suggestion that they begin work on a third album.

They appeared, at least to the public, to be laying low.

Meanwhile, in Hollywood, journalists have been pestering director Richard Kelly about a sequel to his 2001 film, Donnie Darko. An unrelated production company has started work on S. Darko, which will follow the story of Donnie's younger sister Samantha. It's to be helmed by low-budget horror director Chris Fisher, and everyone is chasing Kelly's opinion.

Kelly doesn't want to talk about S. Darko. "I have absolutely no involvement with this production, nor will I ever be involved," he wrote on his MySpace blog . Instead, Kelly wants to talk about his new movie, Box, and of the intriguing musical collaboration involved.

The first clue was on Kelly's blog: "We're starting to work with a very famous band honouring us with being the first film-makers they've ever scored a film with," he wrote. But disclosed nothing more.

Producer Markus Dravs was not so tight-lipped however. On a page uncovered by Pitchfork News, the recording guru gave a succinct update on his current project. "Having finished Coldplay's forthcoming album," he wrote, "[I'm] now off to Canada to work with Arcade Fire on a soundtrack for the forthcoming Richard Kelly film."

And there it is. While Arcade Fire pretend to take a holiday they have in fact set to work on their first film project. It's not a tale of snowstorms or revolution, or a Wes Anderson excursion into the wilds of rural Quebec. Instead it's the adaptation of a 1970 Richard Matheson short story (and Twilight Zone episode) about a couple who find a box with a magic button. Every time they push the button, they receive a load of money - and someone, somewhere, dies.

Greed, murder and Cameron Diaz seem just the stuff for Arcade Fire's shadowy anthems. We'll hope for harp and hurdy gurdy in the scary bits, hollers and mandolin in the pretty bits. And the next time Arcade Fire claim to be taking some time off, we'll not believe them for a second. © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008

mercredi, mars 26, 2008

Neil Aspinall

Neil Aspinall 1941-2008.

Beatles fixer and friend takes secrets to the grave.

Hunter Davies
Tuesday March 25, 2008
The Guardian

Neil Aspinall (left) talks to Beatles Paul McCartney and John Lennon

Neil Aspinall (left) talks to Beatles Paul McCartney and John Lennon.

Photograph: Robert Whitaker/Hulton archive

Neil Aspinall, who died yesterday aged 66, was one of only two people of any importance in the Beatles saga who never told their story. Which is strange, when you think we've had a thousand Beatles books these last 40 years, from people who never met them, to lawyers who did in passing, chauffeurs who once drove them and scruffs who stood outside their offices hoping for autographs.

Neil knew everything, everybody, and now, alas, has taken it all to the grave. Unless there is a posthumous memoir, waiting to be released, which I doubt. I asked him countless times, saying he should get it all down, before it's too late, if just for his children. He always said no. Neil was there from the very beginning, a constant friend and associate, never leaving the magical mystery circle, until a few months ago when he retired as head of Apple Corps, looking after their business interests. Quite a job, when you think of all the legal dramas after the Beatles split, and the personality differences at one time between Paul and Yoko.

Born in Prestatyn in 1941, Neil was in the same year at Liverpool Institute as Paul, and the year above George. His first memory of George was George asking him, behind the bike shed, for a drag on his ciggie. He studied to become an accountant but came back into contact with Paul and George through his friendship with Pete Best, at one time the Beatles drummer.

Neil was living at the house of Pete's mother, Mona, who ran the Casbah, the little club where the Beatles then played as the Quarrymen. Neil started working for them as a part-time roadie in 1961, running them to local gigs in an old van for five shillings per man per gig - £1 a night.

One of the more dramatic events in early Beatles history, known well by all true believers, occurred in 1962 when Pete Best was sacked as drummer and Ringo took over. There were demonstrations on Merseyside, fans campaigning for Pete who was looked upon as much handsomer. Pete went on to slice bread for a few pound a week while the Beatles went on to be the most famous group in the world.

What never came out at the time was that Neil was having an affair with Mona, Pete's mother. In fact they had a son who was born that same year. Neil, only 19, was caught in a terrible emotional turmoil, with Pete sacked by his new best friends and Mona, his lover, furious at how Pete, her son was being treated. John did tell me this gossip, sniggering, in 1967 when I was doing their biography, but said don't repeat it. I only half believed it anyway. John also told me that he, John, had a one-night stand with Brian Epstein, their manager, which I now believe was true.

That same year, 1962, Neil gave up his accountancy studies and joined the Beatles full-time. Later, when they had started national touring, he was joined by another roadie, Mal Evans. Mal was big and beefy and unflappable. Neil was lean, rather neurotic, always seemed worried.

He was with them through all their years of fame. He would get shouted at, told to fetch impossible things, fix ludicrous arrangements. In 1968, Paul decided on the spur of the moment to come and visit me in Portugal with his new girlfriend Linda, and her daughter Heather. Neil was told to get them on a plane to Faro. The last flight had gone. So, late at night, Neil secured a private jet and off they went.

But Neil was more than a roadie and fixer - he was their friend and confidant, helped with words of songs when they got stuck, with personal relationships when they wanted them unstuck.

His accountancy training proved invaluable when he came to run Apple. As the years went on, he masterminded much of the group's professional affairs and back catalogues. On the whole, Neil won most of the battles, helping them make further millions. He did also have a creative streak, acting as the producer of the film Let it Be and organising the Beatles Anthology.

Neil was totally loyal and faithful to them - and yet not at all starstruck. He was more than aware of their foibles, greed, stupidities, unreasonableness, would readily slag them off. It was clear he was part of the family, so while moaning, as all family members do, he would never betray their secrets.

When I pressed him for inside stories, he used to say he couldn't remember. Mick Jagger always says the same. In Neil's case, it could be because he wasn't really much interested in the personal stuff. His mind didn't quite work that way. He had a dry, austere, rather resigned, cynical view of most people, more interested in facts and figures than tittle tattle. He was there, but was somehow floating above it all. The Beatles were very fortunate to have him.

· Hunter Davies is author of The Beatles, WW Norton and Co © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008

lundi, février 25, 2008

Nick Cave interview

Old Nick.

He has been spitting hellfire and damnation for years, but now that he has turned 50, is Nick Cave finally mellowing? Of course not, he tells Simon Hattenstone

Interview by Simon Hattenstone
Saturday February 23, 2008
The Guardian

Nick Cave
A high-maintenance kind of guy ... Nick Cave.
Photograph: Muzi Quawson

Nick Cave is sitting behind his desk, long of limb and droopy of tache. He's wearing a suit, of course. Super-smart. And yet there's something distinctly spivvy about him. I feel as if I'm being interviewed for a job by a secondhand car salesman in a John Waters film. But instead of cars, Cave is flogging film scripts, novels, lectures and, of course, music.

Cave is one of rock's greats. While many of his fans expected the once heroin-addled gothic punk to be long dead by now, he's actually creating more than ever. He gets up early, goes to work in his office (a flat connected to his house in Hove), does an honest day's work, returns home in the evening to his wife and kids, and starts out again the next day. He doesn't take drugs, he doesn't drink, he doesn't even smoke. In one way, he says, life is no longer worth living; in others, he says, it has never been better.

It's 30 years since Cave first made himself heard with the Birthday Party. He was tall and gangly, black-haired, with spectre-white skin, beautiful despite his spoilt-boy's snub nose - and inexplicably angry. Unlike their British counterparts, the Birthday Party - all of them Australian - weren't railing against the monarchy or the establishment. They were simply railing. The music was cacophonous and spit-furious, and occasionally heartbreakingly tender. They were always going to implode, and when they did in the early 80s, Cave went on to form the Bad Seeds, who were to all intents and purposes his backing band. He took more drugs, drank more, moved from Melbourne to London to Berlin to New York to Sao Paulo, all the time travelling farther down the road to nihilistic obliteration. His lyrics preached Old Testament-style hellfire and damnation, then he discovered the New Testament and wrote love songs, even if they still ended in bloody despair.

Whenever you think you understand Nick Cave, he chucks something different in your face. As he segues into his 50s, his latest album with the Bad Seeds, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, visits familiar New Testament territory, but now Lazarus is in 70s New York, and he's lost and confused and can't make head nor tail of the modern world. In another persona, as Grinderman on a previous album last year, he blasted out songs about being a literate ageing rocker who can no longer get the chicks ("I read her Eliot, I read her Yeats, I tried my best to stay up late, but she still didn't want to"). The accompanying video shows young people shagging, pigs, goats, rabbits, everybody at it - except Cave. "Igot the no-pussy blues," he screams in libidinous despair. In between, he and fellow Bad Seed Warren Ellis turned their hand to a classical film score for The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford.

In Cave's office, there are two pianos, a double-neck guitar and enough books to fill a library. His desk is cluttered with the paraphernalia of his work - lyric sheets, pens, the old-fashioned cassettes on which he records new songs. Above his head is a painting of Christ in all his suffering. There are leather sofas and prints on the wall of cats in varying degrees of derangement. He says he would find it impossible to work at home with his wife, the model Susie Bick, and their seven-year-old twin sons. He often complains that musicians are the laziest bastards in the world, writing 12 songs every two years, and they haven't got a clue what real work is like. Much of the time, he sits in the office, doing nothing, waiting for inspiration, ditching ideas. These dead periods are not enjoyable, but they are necessary. Sunday is his day off.

When Cave gets a passion for something, it often becomes an obsession. I ask about those cats. He tells me they are by the Victorian artist Louis Wain, a man who became schizophrenic after his wife died and whose illness is reflected in his increasingly delirious portraits of cats. "Look, Google it." "Google it" is one of Cave's favourite expressions. Ask about his past and he'll often tell you to Google that as well.

There is something terse and scary about Cave - which is not surprising, considering he's spent so long modelling himself as a modern-day Beelzebub - but he can be gentle and seductive, too. He smiles and laughs (even at himself) more often than you might expect. YouTube the Birthday Party and the Boys Next Door (their original incarnation) and you can find the two extremes of early Nick Cave. On Shivers, he looks like a punk Bryan Ferry - a gorgeous, suited-and-booted crooner. On the live recording of Nick The Stripper, he is screeching self-loathing lyrics, dressed in a nappy.

Cave grew up in rural Victoria, Australia. His father, Colin, taught English and maths at the local school; his mother, Dawn, was its librarian. Cave loved the epic landscape, but hated the attitudes of small-town Australia. It was the early 70s and he was influenced by David Bowie and Lou Reed and Iggy Pop - songwriters, performers, heroes of pop's avant garde. Everything cool seemed continents away in London and New York, and Cave wanted some of it.

By the time he was 12 he was getting into trouble, so his parents packed him off to a boarding school in Melbourne. That's where he met the boys who went on to become the Birthday Party. "We were interested in art and we weren't particularly interested in sport, so we were considered homosexuals. There's no two ways about it - we were the school poofters." There's a story that Cave and his friends walked through school one day carrying handbags, and when people shouted abuse at them, they walloped them with the bags, each of which contained a brick. Is that true? He looks weary. "Oh, you're only interested in the truth rather than a good, entertaining article."

Does he prefer a lie? "No, but there are times when the truth is necessary and times when myth-making is necessary. When you're talking about rock'n'roll, myth-making is what it's all about. Who wants to know the fucking truth about Jimi Hendrix? We want to know the myth. We want to know he got on that plane to England with that electric guitar, acne cream and pink hair curlers - that's all he brought."

Guitarist Mick Harvey met Cave at school and has played in bands with him ever since. "He always stood out," he says. "He flew in the face of authority." Was Harvey one of the handbag boys? He laughs. "What stories has he been telling you?"

Harvey didn't take drugs and for a time was teetotal, but the others more than made up for him. One night on stage, with Harvey playing drums, Cave threw a bottle over his shoulder and it hit him on the head. Harvey was livid. "But then, he was totally out of it." Did he worry for them? "No, when you're that age you don't really think about the long-term effects. A couple of people did overdose in the mid-80s. Then Tracy [the Birthday Party's bassist] developed epilepsy, which I suspected was through a combination of taking drugs and drinking very heavily, and we know how that ended." Tracy Pew died after an epileptic fit in 1986.

Punk provocateur Lydia Lunch supported the Birthday Party in 1981. She and Cave didn't hit it off. "We were on two separate planets. I was wild, uninhibited. Even though he's an extrovert on stage, he was very shy." Lunch calls Cave one of the great poets, and remembers the first time he showed her his work - thousands of handwritten words, so small you needed a magnifying glass to read them. "He was so hyper-conscious and so sensitive, which is beautiful to me, but it's a painful road to take." Was he depressive? "He was a heroin addict - of course he was fucking depressive."

When Cave was 19, his father was killed in a car crash. Colin Cave was a serious man who believed culture was the answer to society's ills: beauty would save the world. His philosophy seemed to inspire and enrage Cave - he himself looked for beauty, but what he found was corrupted and destructive. At the time of his death, his father and he had drifted apart. Where was he when he found out his father had died?

"I really don't want to go into all that."

Why not? "It upsets me. Google it, just Google it."

When I get home I do Google it, and discover that Cave had been at a police station, being charged with burglary. His mother, as usual, was at the station bailing him out. Shortly afterwards, having failed the second year of his art course at college, Cave and the Birthday Party left Australia for England.

A few weeks after our first meeting, I meet Cave and most of the Bad Seeds in London where they are recording a trailer for the new album, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! They are re-enacting a seance in a darkened room. Cave is wearing a turban - he looks strange even by his standards. He is improvising his lines and keeps bursting out laughing. I tell him he's corpsing. He's never heard the expression, but he likes it. I'm staring at his hair. Surely, it can't be that black now... yet the sideburns and tache are a perfect match.

His twin boys, Earl and Arthur, are there - Arthur plays drums, Earl is on guitar. I ask Earl who's a better guitarist, him or his dad. "Me," he answers instantly. The boys are excited. They are about to head off for the premiere of Dr Who with Kylie Minogue. Cave had his one reasonably big hit with Minogue in 1995 - Where The Wild Roses Grow. It gave him commercial viability and her a new creative credibility. The song is about a man who can possess his beloved only by stoving her head in ("I kissed her goodbye and said all love must die").

Love, possession and violent death are recurrent themes in his work. Perhaps his best-known song is The Mercy Seat, about an unrepentant con on death row, which was recorded by Johnny Cash shortly before he died. Cash is one of Cave's heroes - another songwriter wrestling with the notions of redemption and retribution, and the man who showed Cave that popular music could be bleak, with a whiff of evil. He also admires Leonard Cohen and Nina Simone, two singer-songwriters who have plumbed the depths.

He tells me how Cash's producer, Rick Rubin, rang to ask permission to record The Mercy Seat. "My stomach is dropping out at this point. I said, 'I'll think about it, Rick' and I waited half a minute and came back and said, 'Nah, I don't have any objections' and he chuckled and said, 'I didn't think you would.' "

Why did he wait? "I wanted to play it cool."

The notion of cool has always been important to Cave. At times, in his white, three-piece suits, he has almost come across as a parody of himself, hovering close to Saturday Night Fever territory. Did he work at it? "No, I was just always cool." He laughs, but I think he means it. "Sometimes it crosses paths with what's fashionable, and then I become obsolete again."

Susie Bick, Cave's wife and a former Vivienne Westwood muse, watches while the video is made. She is beautiful, with black hair and very pale skin, not wholly unlike Cave. When they met, she says, "We had just broken up from relationships and we were both heartbroken. We were mostly thinking about being heartbroken. It was very intense, but even so it took us about two years to go on a date. We were a bit shy, actually."

What's Cave like? "He's just adorable. He's just the warmest person, he's got the biggest heart."

But isn't he supposed to be the antichrist? "I know!" She giggles. "He's so the opposite of what people imagine. And he's the best dad in the world." It's not what we want to hear about Nick Cave.

Cave and fellow Australian Warren Ellis are sitting at a table, eating burgers and whingeing about the way they are portrayed by the media - drugs, booze and bad behaviour. "Such an old story," says Ellis, who is Cave's chief collaborator. He joined the band in 1995, to play a bit of violin on the album Let Love In, and stayed. Both were addicted to heroin, but Ellis was trying to stop.

Now they regard themselves as workaholics. "The day we finish mixing this, it's like, 'Right, do the next one,' " Ellis says. "It's really addictive. The more you make, the more you want to make."

Even in their junkie days, though, they worked hard. Cave says addiction didn't hamper creativity, except when they were sick or out scoring. He hasn't touched drugs for 10 years. "I'd like to say Susie stopped me. But the truth is that nobody can kick that stuff for you. You have to do it yourself. That I was head over heels in love with the most beautiful woman on the planet didn't hurt, though."

Look through Cave's work and you see the geography of his influences - Australia in the landscape, Germany in the sound and fury of early Bad Seeds records, America and Britain in his pop heroes. While living in Germany, Cave spent three years in a bedsit - the walls covered with religious and pornographic images - writing his 1989 novel And The Ass Saw The Angel. It tells the story of Euchrid Eucrow, a vengeful mute living in a fundamentalist community in America's south. Overwritten maybe, but the book is a beautifully imagined horror story illuminated by stark images ("Mah father loomed over me like a crooked stick"). More disturbingly than Cave's songs, it portrays a world of gratuitous cruelty and a religion founded on retribution.

Eucrow, in his feral world, and Cave have this at least in common - both hear voices in their heads. Sometimes Cave's voices tell him he can do anything and leave him spent and exhausted: in the past, he took heroin to still the voices and himself. Sometimes, especially at the beginning of projects, the voices tell him he's a hopeless loser.

Another day, another suit. It's mid-January, and Cave is carrying a heavy case and heading off to Paris to promote the new album. He is slurping his tea and we are talking children. As well as the twins, he says, he has two 16-year-old boys. Blimey, I say, two sets of twins. "Erm, no. They were very... they were quite close to each other."

Months? "Well, less, actually."

"Bloody hell, Nick," I say as it dawns on me what he's saying.

"It's a wonderful thing, but..."

"Did it not cause domestic strife?

"It was difficult at the time, but it turned out great in the end." Jethro was born in Australia, Luke 10 days later in Brazil, where Cave was living with his mother, the stylist Viviane Carneiro. "To my eternal regret I didn't make much contact with Jethro in the early years. I now have a great relationship with him."

He's not telling me any more. "Google it, you fucker. Google it. There are things you read in Hello! and you think, 'Why the fuck are these people talking about these type of things?' There's this culture of confession and admission, and I find it nauseating."

For all that, Cave did once make an astonishingly personal record - The Boatman's Call in 1997. It is regarded by many as his most beautiful album. It's about breaking up with Luke's mother, falling in love with the musician PJ Harvey (another woman with dark hair and pale skin who bears more than a passing resemblance to him) - and having his heart broken by her. It's one of the most nakedly romantic, and desolate, records ever made. In Far From Me, the penultimate song, he sings, "It's good to hear you're doing so well/But really, can't you find somebody else that you can ring and tell?/Did you ever care for me?/Were you ever there for me?/So far from me."

Was he aware at the time...? "That I was doing the big confessional record? No, no. When I was making half that record I was furious because certain things had happened in my love life that seriously pissed me off. And some of those songs came straight out of that." Does it embarrass him now? "I don't regret making it but, yeah, it does a bit, because the songs are of a moment when you felt a certain way. When you don't any more, you just think, 'Fuck - please!' "

He asks if I've seen the video he and Harvey made for the song Henry Lee, and raises an eyebrow. "Fucking hell! That's a one-take video. Nothing is rehearsed at all except we sit on this 'love seat'. We didn't know each other well, and this thing happens while we're making the video. There's a certain awkwardness, and afterwards it's like, oh..." So you were beginning the relationship in this three-minute video? "Yeah, exactly."

He says he and Susie (pictured overleaf) were recently trawling the internet and came across the video. "She said, 'I do think it's a wonderful video, but I must say I do find it rather hard to watch.' "

His love songs always evoke the inevitability of loss - a feeling fuelled by his father's early death. In 1998 at the Vienna Poetry Festival, Cave gave a lecture on the love song in which he said, "The actualising of God through the medium of the love song remained my prime motivation as an artist." Even on The Boatman's Call, one of his most secular records, many of the songs are like contemporary psalms ("Into my arms, O Lord/Into my arms, O Lord"). In a South Bank Show profile, the film-maker Wim Wenders said, "His songs deal with a desire for pure love or this longing for peace in spite of all the turmoil and unrest happening inside him." Author Will Self put it more earthily, calling them "songs of spiritual yearning dressed in Ann Summers".

I ask Cave why his work is so dominated by God - in the early days, a vengeful God at that. He says that's hard to answer - he's never been the type of writer who looks at the world and expresses what he thinks; instead, he writes and in the writing his vision of the world is shaped. "The brutality of the Old Testament inspired me, the stories and grand gestures. I wrote that stuff up and it influenced the way I saw the world. What I'm trying to say is I didn't walk around in a rage thinking God is a hateful god. I was influenced by looking at the Bible, and it suited me in my life vision at the time to see things in that way."

Why? "Well, things were crap at the time... in my personal life." Because of a vengeful God? "No, I was just crap. It wasn't a gnashing of teeth, Job kind of thing, though I did have a lot of skin complaints, things like that." He smiles. "Yeah, I had a lot of pestilence visited upon me by a vengeful God - you know, scabies, crabs, general stuff like that." Wasn't that because of the sex and drugs? "Well, you've got to blame someone, haven't you?"

I ask whether he really does believe in a greater force, or would he just like to be a believer? "I do believe, but my belief system is so riddled with doubt that it's barely a belief system at all - I see that as a strength rather than a failing."

Cave says you can roughly divide his work - the 70s and 80s is Old Testament, the 90s and onwards is New Testament. "After a while I started to feel a little kinder and warmer to the world, and at the same time started to read the New Testament."

He has a way of smiling when he feels things are wrong or have been misinterpreted. A little-boy smile. "Look," he says, almost apologetically, "when I look back, from 20 onwards, I was actually having a pretty good time, I have to say. I don't look back to 'What a miserable fucking time.' In general I'm a pretty up, buoyant, optimistic kind of person."

Do people think you're a moper? "I hope they don't, but I suspect they do." Maybe that's because there are so many songs about... He completes the sentence for me: "Death and shit."

So is Nick Cave a character? "I don't think so. It's not that I don't feel those things - I feel those things very strongly." He has his lows, when everything feels unbearable and insurmountable, but they are less frequent than they once were. Perhaps, like Leonard Cohen and Samuel Beckett, once he's put his existential angst to paper, he can get on with the important business of living life. "At the end, we're kind of observers - creative people, I mean. I feel like an observer, and I'm pretty much able to step out of things and see how things are playing out."

I'm staring at Cave's jet-black hair, wondering. Does he think he's getting too old to rock at 50? "Yeah, I do think that sometimes. I mean, the whole fame thing is incredibly undignified, anyway. You're allowing yourself to be exposed. A lot of it you can get away with because you're young, but you should know better by the time you reach 50. But, for me, I get such huge benefits for my own psyche, creating, working, that it doesn't at the moment seem an option to do anything about that."

Actually, he says, there is so much rubbish talked about age - as if, when you hit certain landmarks, you start to think and act differently. He's getting quite worked up as he talks and it becomes apparent that age itself is the new authority figure to rebel against. "There's a certain wisdom we are supposed to get, and I'm not really convinced that happens. I mean, you're wiser to a degree. But there's a certain archetype - a tried and tested road for artists in their autumn years: more meditative, less concerned with temporal things and more concerned with spiritual things, all that sort of stuff - I was looking forward to that, but it hasn't really arrived." In fact, Cave says, if anything, he's gone the opposite way. He's been doing the deathly stuff for decades and now he's more concerned with the physical world. "There are things that preoccupy me now that feel weirdly adolescent." What like? "Like sex." He knows it's supposed to be taboo, a little unsavoury, for a man of his age to write or sing about sex but, sorry, that is what he's interested in, so that's what you'll be getting.

And I'm still looking at Cave's hair. Is that really his natural colour? He bursts out laughing. "I've been dyeing my hair since I was 16."

What colour would it be? "I hate to think."

What about the tache and sideboards? "You have a special little brush and stuff. Look, I'm a high-maintenance kind of guy."

Will he ever stop dyeing his hair? God no, he says.

"No, I'll dye it till I die."

· Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! is out on March 3. © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008

samedi, février 09, 2008

Eric Burdon

Eric Burdon and War To Reform.

by Paul Cashmere @ Undercover - February 9 2008

Eric Burdon and War Concert Poster
Eric Burdon and War Concert Poster

Eric Burdon and War will reform for one night only in London in April for the first time in 37 years.

Animals lead singer Burdon joined US R&B, funk and jazz band War in 1970 but it was short-lived. They disbanded in 1971.

However, in their short career, Eric Burdon & War produced two now classic albums, both in 1970. 'Eric Burdon Declares War' featured the number one hit 'Spill The Wine' as well as 'Tobacco Road'. That same year, 'The Black Man's Burdon' contained the amazing cover of The Stones 'Paint It Black'.

"The diversity of influences on us was not only musical, but was social as well," says singer-keyboardist and founding War member Lonnie Jordan. "As a result we tried to be entertaining while also spreading the word of peace, harmony and brotherhood. Our instruments and voices became our weapons of choice and the songs our ammunition. We spoke out against racism, hunger, gangs, crimes and turf wars, as we embraced all people with hope and the spirit of brotherhood."

Eric Burdon & War will perform at the Royal Albert Hall on Monday, April 21st.

The line-up will be:

Eric Burdon (Vocals)
Lonnie Jordan (Vocals, Keyboards)
Salvador Rodriguez (Drums, Vocals)
Fernando Harkless (Saxaphone, Vocals)
Marcos Reyes (Percussion)
Start Ziff (Lead Guitar, Vocals)
Francisco 'Pancho' Tomaselli (Bass Guitar, Vocals)
Mitch Kashmar Lead Vocals (Harmonica, Vocals)

Tickets go on sale February 14

vendredi, février 08, 2008

Sexy Sadie

Paul McCartney Marks To Passing of the Maharishi.

by Paul Cashmere @ Undercover - February 2008

The Beatles Love
The Beatles Love

Sir Paul McCartney has issued a statement following the death of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Holland this week.

In his statement, Sir Paul said, "I was asked for my thoughts on the passing yesterday of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and I can only say that whilst I am deeply saddened by his passing, my memories of him will only be joyful ones. He was a great man who worked tirelessly for the people of the world and the cause of unity. I will never forget the dedication that he wrote inside a book he once gave me, which read; 'radiate, bliss, consciousness' and that to me says it all. I will miss him but will always think of him with a smile."

The Beatles traveled to India in 1968 to mediate with The Mararishi. The Mararishi would later to be found to be sleeping with some of the women on the party, most notably Mia Farrow.

Disillusioned by the hypocritical actions of the holy man, John Lennon composed the song 'Sexy Sadie' about him. The lyrics were 'Sexy Sadie, what have you done, you made a fool of everyone'.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi died in the Netherlands. He was 91.

mercredi, janvier 23, 2008


Ringo Starr Walks Off Regis and Kelly.

by Paul Cashmere @ Undercover - January 23 2008

Ringo Starr
Ringo Starr

Former Beatle Ringo Starr refused to go on TV for his scheduled appearance on the Regis and Kelly show today, after the show's producer tried to chop his song his half.

Ringo was to perform 'Liverpool 8' from his new album, but was told to cut the performance down to 2 minutes 30 seconds.

Publicist for Ringo Starr, Elizabeth Freund, tried to negotiate a shorter interview but the producer Michael Gelman insisted that the song had to go less than 3 minutes.

Ringo was due to perform the song with Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame, who produced the album.

Stewart criticised the show saying that it was disrespectful to artists, but Ringo said he would be happen to come back onto the show at a later date.

The walk-out was a bonus for designer Michael Kors. Kors was given a longer interview to fill the gap left by Starr.

jeudi, janvier 03, 2008

Oldies, but...

Never gonna give it up:
80s stars cash in on thirtysomething pop nostalgia boom.

· Tickets sell out for tour celebrating the era
· Acts include Rick Astley, Bananarama and ABC

Owen Gibson, media correspondent
Wednesday January 2, 2008
The Guardian

I'm your Venus ... Bananarama are set to turn back time with nostalgia tour. Photograph: Allstar Picture Library

They may not look or sound like obvious standard-bearers for a musical revolution: gaggles of thirty and fortysomethings bopping to songs that whip them back to the awkwardness of the school disco.

But Here & Now, a package tour of artists big in the 1980s, has become a music industry phenomenon and is now selling tickets for its seventh UK tour in May and expanding internationally. It has already taken the delights of big hair and big choruses to Japan, Germany and elsewhere.

Featuring a rolling cast list of 40 stars, including ABC, Kim Wilde, T'Pau and Belinda Carlisle, the show regularly sells out venues seating up to 20,000 people. It often sells thousands of tickets even before the lineup is revealed.

The 2008 lineup includes Rick Astley, the studio teaboy turned Stock, Aitken and Waterman prodigy who notched up seven top 10 hits in the mid-1980s. Others include Curiosity Killed the Cat, Bananarama, Paul Young and ABC.

The unexpected success story, which plans to branch out into compilations and other branded initiatives, also laid the foundations for 2007 to become the year of the reunion.

A string of acts from all eras have retaken to the stage, from Led Zeppelin and the Police to the Spice Girls and one last hurrah for little-remembered Britpop bands. Arguably Here & Now, which launched in 2001, paved the way for all of them.

The tour adheres to some strict rules: only the hits, no big egos and set-lengths strictly governed by the number of well-known songs you've got. "It's like a live greatest hits album," said Tony Denton, the agent-turned-promoter who came up with the idea.

The appeal, he said, is simple: "It is a fast-paced show. The other important element is that I only let them do the hits."

He got the idea after persuading Boy George, who was on his books, to take part in a Culture Club comeback tour. He asked Sheffield electro-pop legends Human League and ABC to support and was surprised by the speed with which tickets were snapped up.

With several 80s acts on his books, he began to consider a way of packaging up six or seven acts. He knew the idea had legs, he said, when he persuaded Kids in America singer-turned-gardener Wilde to come out of retirement for the first one. He was lucky enough to catch her the day after she had sung for the first time in years at a family wedding.

Young only agreed after Denton came up with the name Here & Now to make it clear his best days weren't behind him.

Astley is his latest coup. Having turned it down several times, the Never Gonna Give You Up singer was persuaded to play the Japanese leg so that his daughter could see him perform for the first time.

All are backed by the same nine-piece band and as one act is taking a bow, the next is limbering up to go on.

As the format has been exported abroad and adapted for concerts at stately homes and corporate events it has been more popular than Denton predicted. It has also proved lucrative. Denton takes control of the financial aspect and pays the artists a one-off fee. "They do well out of it. If there are no artists, there is no show," he said.

Toyah Willcox, who has appeared on several tours, said the arrangement suited her: "The concert isn't under my name. I'm not having to be a guarantor to fees. That might sound cold and mercenary and not very artistic, but it's pretty important." She insists the artists get on. "You can't do that kind of package tour with an ego, you'd get laughed out of the door."

While Denton admits that some artists have taken more coaxing than others to agree to only play their hits , Willcox had no such qualms. "I've always played all the old songs. I'd go and see Peter Gabriel or Madonna and be surprised if they didn't play all the hits. People don't want to come and hear the B-sides," she said.

The timing was also important. When Denton launched Here & Now the 80s were no longer seen as naff. It was also an era when pop stars had strong images and wrote hits that echo down the years.

He doubted whether today's X Factor stars would sell out arenas in 20 years time. Wilcox added: "In the 80s, we were all writing for stadiums even if only two or three got to play them. The choruses are for the audience, not the artists."

She also noted the appetite for nostalgia-based TV, from Doctor Who to Strictly Come Dancing. "When I'm singing It's a Mystery or I Want to be Free I'm communicating with a time in people's lives," she said. "You go out and do what you're best at: performing hits everyone wants to hear."

The revivalists Big hair, gold suits and faded denim

Curiosity Killed The Cat These days few can whistle their hits - Down to Earth in 1986, Misfit in 1987 and Hang on in There Baby in 1992 - but most remember that the singer, Ben Volpeliere-Pierrot, left, (Ben Vol-au-vont-Parrot to Smash Hits readers), wore silly hats. He later went solo and the nation shrugged.

Paul Young Former miller's apprentice who hit the money with his third single, a cover of the Marvin Gaye classic Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home), No 1 for three weeks in 1983. Also former owner of impressive bouffant.


This London three-piece had huge hair and a huge hit with a song about Robert de Niro Waiting and talking foreign. The current lineup features just two of the original Bananarettes, Keren Woodward and Sara Dallin, both of whom appear to have got younger in the 26 years since releasing their first single.

ABC Sheffield band whose debut album, The Lexicon of Love, is regarded as a classic today. Singer Martin Fry, liked preposterous gold suits, while the rest of the band favoured skinny ties over school shirts. Has influenced numerous modern artists, from Aphex Twin to N*E*R*D. Acceptable to like unironically.

Rick Astley He had a ginger quiff and penchant for wearing trousers so high-waisted that his belt chafed his nipples, but it didn't stop this Lancashire choirboy from becoming the ultimate 80s heart-throb, causing school girls to sob with longing whenever he appeared in his faded denim shirt in the Never Gonna Give

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008

mardi, janvier 01, 2008

Billie Piper

Billie Piper goes traditional for her second wedding.

Helen Pidd
Tuesday January 1, 2008
The Guardian

Billie Piper's first wedding was every parent's nightmare: just 18, the then pop star went into early retirement to marry a DJ almost twice her age. Worse, that DJ was Chris Evans. Worse still, mum and dad weren't invited - but Danny Baker was. And she hadn't brushed her hair.

Yesterday, second time round, Piper, now an acclaimed actor after her turn in Doctor Who, went for an altogether more traditional affair: the bride wore white silk, had lovely hair and had her teary-eyed dad on her arm.

Her groom, fellow actor Laurence Fox, 29, was wearing a proper suit, quite a contrast to the Hawaiian shirt and sunburn Evans sported back in 2001.

The only constant between yesterday's church ceremony in Easebourne, West Sussex, and the impromptu Las Vegas do of yesteryear was that Piper and Evans attended both. Piper invited her former husband and his new wife, Natasha Shishmanian, along yesterday. The couple were even spotted enjoying a drink with the groom after the wedding rehearsal on Sunday.

Various well-known faces were spotted yesterday hanging around the parish church of St Mary's. Doctor Who star David Tennant was there, resplendent in maroon velvet, as was the actor Kevin Whately, who appeared alongside Fox in Lewis, the Inspector Morse spin-off. Plus, of course, various members of the Fox acting dynasty: his father James, uncle Edward and cousin Emilia.

Fox and Piper met last December when they performed together in a West End production of Christopher Hampton's Treats.

Piper became the youngest female singer to have a No 1 single with Because We Want To in 1998, at the age of 15.

After her pop career dwindled, she turned to acting, her original ambition.

She recently signed up to star as Belle de Jour in a second series of the ITV2 drama Secret Diary Of A Call Girl.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008

vendredi, décembre 28, 2007

Oscar Peterson

Oscar Peterson no more.

Canada's legendary jazz pianist, a technical virtuoso who performed with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz and Dizzy Gillespie and inspired generations of jazz musicians, dies aged 82.

John Fordham
Tuesday December 25, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson: 'could transform any melody into streams of spontaneous alternatives'. Photograph: AP
After the phenomenal jazz-piano virtuoso Art Tatum died in 1956, Canadian pianist Oscar Peterson - who had already been waiting in the wings for a decade - eased his formidable frame on to the throne. Like Tatum, Peterson had a Liszt-like technique (classical music's star pianists came to marvel at both of them), and could transform any melody into streams of spontaneous alternatives, sustain any tempo, use his left hand as freely as his right, and keep a faultless built-in rhythm section at work in his head. These skills made Peterson, who has died of kidney failure at the age of 82, one of the best-loved stars in the jazz mainstream. The sympathetic but uncharitable among jazz purists might have held that Peterson was the unfortunate victim of his spectacular technique. All his performances would feature the same mix of flooding arpeggios, cascading introductions and codas, ragtime and barrelhouse pastiches, and solos at impossible tempos - and even after a stroke in 1993, the indomitable keyboard giant fought on to rebuild much of his sweeping technical authority. The standard Peterson trio offering would be the uptempo tune (either a standard or an original that sounded like a standard), starting either solo or with minimal accompaniment. It would grow in volume from both piano and drums in the second chorus, and by the third become an unbroken cascade of runs the length of the keyboard, resolving in thumping chords, thumbs-down-the-keys ripples and churning repeated phrases.

With cavalier glee, Peterson would apply this treatment to tunes ideally suited to it - like Anything Goes, or Sweet Georgia Brown - and to those that weren't, since he would often subject ballads to same burnups, bizarrely relapsing them into caresses at the end. Yet there was a true artist in Peterson too. Deliciously liquid arpeggios and arching, yearning phrases would sometimes emerge once he was sure he had given his audiences what they initially expected, and such contrastingly patient and spacious music might then allow the eloquence of his frequently superb accompanists to flower, notably the work of the double-bass giant Ray Brown.

Peterson had received classical piano lessons from the age of six in his native Montreal; the impetus came from his father, a railway porter and self-taught pianist. At 14, Oscar won a local radio talent contest, and worked in his late teens on a weekly Montreal radio show - and he was also a regular member of Canada's Johnny Holmes Orchestra, playing in an elegant swing keyboard style drawn from Teddy Wilson, Tatum and Nat "King" Cole. Though he had studied trumpet too, childhood illness led him to abandon it for the piano, and he practised constantly, an irrepressible enthusiasm mingling with natural gifts to build a fully two-handed technique (some 40s jazz pianists made relatively perfunctory use of the left hand) that rivalled that of classical recitalists. Though Cole was perhaps the artist Peterson felt most in sympathy with stylistically, the speed, orchestral richness and lyrical sweep of his music made the virtuoso Tatum the only fitting comparison once the Canadian's mature style formed.

Peterson resisted offers to come to America at first, but made his US debut at Carnegie Hall with Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic in September 1949. Granz saw in Peterson just his kind of charismatic, communicative performer who reaches out from the subculture of jazz to a much wider audience, and he managed the pianist's career through the 1950s, recorded him, and regularly toured him with Jazz At The Philharmonic. Initially the pianist adopted the Cole trio's methods, frequently playing simply with guitar and double bass and allowing his own unerring rhythmic sense and driving swing to take the place of drums. Through the 1950s, Peterson's bassist was usually Brown, with Herb Ellis on guitar - but from 1958, Ellis was replaced by the subtle drummer Ed Thigpen, one of the few percussionists who could complement the storming Peterson without appearing to compete with him for the maximum number of sounds squeezable into a bar. The group recorded extensively, and Peterson's reworkings of classic standards were so exuberant and upbeat that his recordings found their way into the collections of jazz fans and fascinated non-buffs alike.

In 1960, Peterson founded the Advanced School of Contemporary Music in Toronto - assisted by Brown, Thigpen and composer/clarinettist Phil Nimmons - and he remained there for the next three years, devoting much of his time to running the institution. But he continued to perform and record, and developed another string to his considerable bow by singing on a Cole dedication, With Respect to Nat, in 1965.

In the 1970s, though jazz was in retreat against the swelling popular and commercial pressure of rock'n'roll, Peterson continued to prove that his talents were robust enough to be less affected by the changing climate than most. He took to performing unaccompanied, and delivered astonishingly self-sufficient performances in which he frequently seemed to resemble two or three pianists playing simultaneously. By this time one of the most secure of mainstream international jazz stars, Peterson was now invited to perform in all kinds of contexts, including work with symphony orchestras, and guest appearances on many all-star jazz get-togethers with artists including Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz, trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Clark Terry, and guitarist Joe Pass. In later years Peterson frequently worked in duet with bassist Niels-Henning 0rsted Pedersen, a remarkable virtuoso of complementary gifts to the pianist's. Pared-down accompaniment always suited Peterson best, since his devastating technique frequently meant that the more musicians there were in a Peterson group, the more they would all try to keep up, like a party full of non-stop talkers.

Peterson had a prolific output as a recording artist, in some years releasing as many as half a dozen albums. Affinity (1963) was one of his biggest sellers, but his catalogue includes interpretations of the songbooks of Cole Porter and Duke Ellington, a highly successful single on Jimmy Forrest's compulsive Night Train (perfectly suited to Peterson's churningly machine-like style) and 1964's Canadiana Suite, an extended original nominated as one of the best jazz compositions of 1965 by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Peterson furnished the soundtrack to the movie Play It Again Sam, hosted a TV chat show a 1974 tour of Russia, and influenced musicians as different as Steve Winwood, Dudley Moore and Joe Zawinul. A dedicated spreader of the word, Peterson also published educational works for student jazz pianists.

Though Peterson has sometimes been criticised as a musician in thrall to his own runaway technique, he remained a great virtuoso of piano jazz, and an equally effective populariser of the music among those who might otherwise not have encountered it. He was the kind of jazz musician who invited a sometimes-daunted general public in, and he always performed as if making the music was the most fun it was possible for a human being to have. When he performed to a packed Royal Albert Hall two years ago, Peterson delivered a startlingly ambitious programme for a man who looked as if the journey from the dressing-room to the piano stool had been a considerable effort of the will. That show could have been a wistful tribute to what once was - but with musicality, courage, skill and energy, Peterson made it a performance that stood proud on its own two feet. It was the story of his life.

In that same year of 2005, he became the first living person other than the monarch to feature on a Canadian commemorative stamp, and he saw his name adopted for streets, concert halls and schools. He is survived by his fourth wife, Kelly, their daughter Celine, and six children from previous marriages.

Oscar Emmanuel Peterson, jazz pianist, born August 15 1925; died December 23 2007

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007