Sunday, 23 December 2018
Legend Of The Fall.
Tis the season to cuddle up by the chestnuts roasting on an open fire with the one you Chrissy Teigen this Christmas. As you wrap the last of your presents to put under the tree you decorated on that first night like a partridge in a pear one. Picture the scene whether you're in the festive spirit yet. Or still all Scrooged out on the ghosts of a past, last Christmas carol you gave your heart like the very next day (Rest Peacefully gorgeous George). It's almost like a hallmark card here in this household Legend. Like 'The Christmas Chronicle' of the new greatest Santa showman Kurt Russell and the perfect red cape and boot fitting Mrs. Claus, Goldie Hawn. But here 'A Legendary Christmas' and it's Bublé like televised special of love in the family home (and the reunion reprise of The Stephens Family all back together after all these 2004 years for the brandy warm classic, 'It Don't Have To Change') could even chill Netflix's 'Springsteen On Broadway' show live from New York City right now...yeah I said it Boss! No I'm not bitter because I couldn't make a ticket in Manhattan...honest. But this Christmas cake slice of New York, Rat Pack nostalgia with a sherry dash of Nat King Cole and so much more is the perfect Christmas offering like actress Zooey Deschanel's She & Him Christmas album, the one from R&B luminary Tank, his G.O.O.D. Music man Kanye West's 'Christmas In Harlem' collaboration, or even the 'A Murray Christmas' Netflix special reunion between Sofia Coppola and her 'Lost In Translation' cult legend, big in more than just Japan, Bill Murray. Produced by Lucy Pearl and Tony, Toni, Tone powerhouse Raphael Saadiq too (who really took it back to the good old Motown and rock and roll days with his 'The Way I See It' and 'Stone Rollin'' solo double act), so this is the Christmas of legends. After a terrible term of a couple of years where we lost Prince's, Kings of the world's like Ali and Ziggy's and in return just got a Trump. For at least tonight war is over...if you want it.
Good tidings dear John brings. So get your whole family round the piano before you leave the milk and cookies out for Santa. And don't forget the carrot for Rudolph. The king of R&B kings gives us a cracker as you're in for a yuletide treat with all the turkey and tinsel trimmings. Home for the holidays and live from the Legend living room, for the picture perfect family. Seriously have you seen how cute and exactly like them this couples kids are? Bestill our collective hearts. Coming out the 'Darkness and Light' of his last album, John Stephens' sixth signature is something special as he gets us lifted again like '04. 'Coming Home' like the emotion 'Once Again' of his tribute track to soldiers returning from the frontlines which even struck a chord with this writer when he was living in the cold of Canada a million miles away from the heart of home a decade ago (even that is absolutely nothing compared to those whose service we should pray thanks for now and New Year forever more). The 'All Of Me' singer give us all of him as he now has more than a stocking filler to put next to his classic, career high iconic track and every new married couples first dance since it's 2013 engagement. This album covering Christmas standards and his own new recorded traditions will play for December 25th's to come. But right now as everyone is tweeting Christmas Eve Eve like Phoebe from 'Friends' this is one for your scotch tape and gift tag playlist as you rip off the plastic seal like kids all that wrapping on Christmas morning and see that Santa hat wearing profile on white snow. Like the face you make when you're taking everyones Christmas money. But with good cheer. Here's to the man whose festive feeling, mood music should run like putting Santa's hat in with your whites. Because you best believe this will wash like all those dishes you might find easier to scrub come Boxing Day as you're still singing along into the scourer. The 'Evolver' legend really is evolving like that step away from the piano, Andre 3000 'Green Light' for go classic, game changer which might have even set this very album off back in the day, or his old soul 'Wake Up' collaboration with Jimmy Fallon show and rap band of legends The Roots planting more than a seed of Philadelphia soul. Forget 'Love In The Future'. This is life how it used to be and how we wish come true it still could be right about now.
Signed, sealed and delivered down your chimney like the big fella (no not Shaq! But you should see what that Claus brings kids in gifts each and every year) Legend even brings another to the party in the harmonica of Stevie Wonder as the new most wholesoman man in crossover old soul and pop music brings us a new wonder version of 'What Christmas Means To Me' (or more like him). And keeping it Detroit spinning in Motown with a good King Cole, Rat Pack like twist, John dusts off the legend of the ultimate one Marvin Gaye's 'Purple Snowflakes' left on Berry Gordy's cutting room floor for around 30 years as the First African American EGOT winner (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony people) reaches for a higher power with the God himself. He even goes into The Jackson's family home for 'Give Love On Christmas Day', before giving more soul power to the 'Please Come Home For Christmas' this lovesick writer was shamefully singing last Christmas, one made 90's famous with Jon Bon Jovi playing MTV video house with the supermodel of supermodels Cindy Crawford. But it's when he carries on timeless tradition for the likes of the ringing 'Silver Bells' or the Nat King roasting of chestnuts on 'The Christmas Song' that this record of 'Christmas Is Here' or 'Merry Christmas Baby' gets classic. But like the 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' duet with Esperanza Spalding and it's wholesome for the holidays Vevo video with beautiful imagery where Legend even makes ugly sweaters look stylish as GQ F, you haven't heard anything yet on a man who could make this music his new calling card everytime you're writing one come the advent of December. I just want to see him drive home for Christmas and cover 'Silent Night' aswell as Miley Cyrus did for her Murray Christmas. But like 'No Place Like Home' this 'Legendary Christmas' really comes into its own when Legend writes his own dedications with his velvet vocal range below the part in the card that says something saccharine about a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2019. You'll throw another log on the fire and let this family album snow from 'Bring Me Love' to 'Waiting For Christmas'. The inneudo bow laced (c'mon listen to any song about Mommy kissing Santa Claus and see that there is more than one hidden message here) 'Wrap Me Up In Your Love' might just be a new, modern day Christmas classic above the album. Whilst the Saadiq assisted 'Merry, Merry Christmas' is the perfect closer to play us out over the holidays behind the family piano. But speaking of top to toe in tailbacks and red lights all around it's the grand gesture of 'By Christmas Eve' and it's loving lyrics of, "Just hang up the Christmas lights, and I'll do the rest tonight/Just tell the kids I'm coming, I swear that I'll be running/And under the Christmas tree, together yet we will be I promise/I'm gonna walk, if I have to run/I'll stand on the highway and stop someone/I'll cross the deserts and oceans, a river that's frozen/I'll follow the stars just to find where you are/You can count on me/Make a wish, close your eyes, and believe/I'll be home, home, home, home, home by Christmas Eve" that really leaves a lasting impression come the night before, where not even mice of all critters are stirring. All is calm, all is bright. Drop the needle on the record as it scratches that spirits itch and raise your cup of egg nog and drink like the late, great Bernie Mac "before it goes bad". To you and yours happy holidays. A Merry Christmas and a legendary New Year. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Cracking Tracks: Just take your partner by the hand under the miseltoe and let it play.
Sunday, 16 December 2018
The Boss Of Broadway.
Trust me. The same guy who two years back spent the best part of an evening from 7pm in an online queue to book a ticket to get in another queue to line-up outside Waterstones in London to meet Bruce Springsteen and get a signed copy of his autobiography 'Born To Run'. Unable to move from my position or page no matter who called. Only to realize that the tickets went two minutes after seven and were already making the rounds on eBay (these things were free...no wonder they call you guys "scalpers") for hundreds and thousands, but no ice cream. And that I should have online sleeping bag got in the queue hours before not actually at seven (Homer Simpson). The same guy who a year before was in yet another queue underneath the Top Of The Rock in New York City for a chance to get tickets to see him on The Jimmy Fallon show for a Late Night with NBC in NYC. Only for the man in charge to count heads all the way to me and then put his arm out in front of my chest like the law of sods and declare, "no more tickets". Only for me to then wait on standby with a group of people talking to some guy and his girl for the best part of a fruitless hour, only for a woman to whisper politely in the squealing (to be fair I would too) girls ear, "I have one spare if you'd like". Really?! I mean should I take her guy for a slice? What are we supposed to do? Only (oh it gets better) to then, pizza in hand walk back to my hotel across from Madison Square Garden (shout-out to the John Hughes aesthetic of the perfect Hotel Pennsylvania) and see that Times Square was cornered off with construction tape, thinking, "sod this for a day in New York! I'll take a detour" (probably ironically via the road of the Walter Kerr Theatre). Only to get back to my 'Home Alone' decor room to switch on the news and see that U2 played a surprise, free gig featuring no other but who? Yep...Bruce Springsteen. So it would come as no surprise that this same Englishman would go all the way to New York to see 'Springsteen On Broadway' and without thinking (I seem to do a lot of that) pick the one time the Boss was taking a week off. But save your chortles. It wouldn't have mattered. As attempting to fly back for a night in N.Y. whilst chasing the King in L.A., the cheapest tickets after the lottery you know I would have lost to that girl were going for seven and a half thousand American (scalpers!). Seven and a half grand?! What is Bruce going to walk me to my seat?! Trust me to try the one week I wasn't remortgaging the house I don't even own. I can't complain though. Thanks to a lovely lady I got to see Springsteen tour the whole stream of 'The River' and even perform 'Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town' (Merry Christmas to you and yours) in the height of a rainy British Summer two years ago. Not to mention I had my own New York Bruce moment almost a decade gone when me and my boy broke the bank to watch Springsteen play with Jon Stewart, Jerry Seinfeld and Tony Bennett people. Actually on Broadway. A night that raised money for wounded soldiers. So those damn scalpers didn't get all our dollars. A vindication after my first Boss experience in London's Hyde Park was ruined by some guy who was singing along (ain't nothing wrong with that but I'm taking like the tonest of tone death pub singing) and doing the guitar bits (yep) on the loudest volume, right down my ear that he may as well have been kissing the lobe (so...what you doing later?! Fancy a pizza?). So I've had my perfect Springsteen in New York moment for a night we shouldn't have even been at. And when way back then Bruce auctioned his signed acoustic guitar off to the rich and famous elite in the crowd who was in the bleachers shouting 20 dollars? Trust me.
We all have our Springsteen story (you only have to ask an Uber driver trust me. It's beautiful) and that's my boring several. But no stories are greater than the ones the best Boss you've ever had (sorry Ryan) tells. And this is what 'Springsteen On Broadway' is all about. Don't worry Bruce isn't getting his acting on. He too as real as it gets for all that play pretend. Even though his cameo in 'High Fidelity' is award worthy. At this point the Oscars would and should probably do a category for all that. But you know the man whose already won one for the 'Streets Of Philadelphia' and fought for one with 'The Wrestler' is going to get a Tony like Danza in the dark for this. And now all of you with even worse luck than me can join me in buying the soundtrack and watching it on Netflix whilst I cry into my ice cream like Bridget Jones. Now who's the one singing along badly? But what else are you going to do alone this winter apart from wrap up in your warmest and snuggle up on the sofa with a duvet ("Ross we're 33. We're not women") when baby it's cold outside and it all gets Netflix and chilly? Hey it's not just writer that's got jokes. And trust me Bruce's are better thankfully. As the American songbook legend proves he's more than a songwriter and all singing storyteller as he stops between tunes and tunes up to crack a few punchlines to his prose. Like back a decade ago on that night with Tony, when the Tony award go getter described this high experience of love he had with a young lady in a park in his youth that felt akin to a fever dream. His stage fright performance with the wrong kind of substance, shall me say not as punctuated as this. "Ah baby. I'm so out of it I have no idea what I'm doing right now" the Boss confesses. To which his muse muses in replying, "I know! (like Monica's Courtney Cox from his iconic 'Dancing' video) you've been eating grass for the last half hour"! There's more gags of this reflective reflex here (even if everytime he mentions the man downstairs he also beats his right side of his chest to put emphasis on where love and making it really come from), which we won't spoil like your dinner if we get anymore down and dirty. Because this stage show and soundtrack accompaniment is something to be seen and heard for the first time like I only wish (*sniff*) I could have live in New York like Saturday night. But now we're all off Broadway on this theatrical (born to) run we can see why one man and a guitar sold out every night in the busiest, most famous city in the world for a full year (minus the week I went) and grossed over a billion dollars (Dr. Evil finger to the lips).
But this nuanced narrative is no joke as the worn blue jeans symbol of the boot-cut worked for American dream mines the depths of depression and secrets of family for a weary heart still hungry in the famine for substance today. This may not be the one, two, three, FOUR Springsteen stadium shouting ask of, "is anybody really alive out there". Although like his arena wrecking ball assaults he punches the clock in almost three hours of runtime. But this utterly intimate theatrical setting of a guitar, stool and workman's set is the closest thing you'll get to Bruce and the rock God he is save jumping over the fence of his ranch like this young man did to the King Elvis Presley, as he stormed the gates of Graceland like the Las Vegas Killers inspired by his heartland music in honoured homage. The portrait he paints with just six strings is poetry, pure and unflinching like the road he's lead in this life off E Street. This is a real Jersey boy staged on Broadway. Forget 'Big Boy's Don't Cry'. They raw reveal every evoking emotion. And the Boss himself talks about how he invented all that 'Jersey Shore' s### too as he gets lude, rude, crude and f###### funny. On a candid affair lifted from the pages of his inspired memoir 'Born To Run' as this theatrical runs showstopping Playbill. One that makes his previous classic VH1 Storytellers segment look like a pamphlet in spine to spine comparison. The rock legend rolls out all his legacy making classics. Like the aforementioned 'Born' or 'Dancing In The Dark'. The 'Tougher Than The Test'/'Brilliant Disguise', 'Tunnel Of Love' duo duet with perfect partner Patti (please let's reunite Julliard classmates and classic 'A Most Violent Year' co-stars Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain, the best actor and actress in the game today to play these two). Songs for his mum and dad with soul jerking and bone deep devotion. 'Thunder Road' for Clarence with an inspired interlude that haunts like the Big Man's sax ringing through a Freehold night. 'The Ghost Of Tom Joad' and all the spirits of the lessons of yesterday past that still try to 'Christmas Carol' warn us of the war coming and all we should pay heed to today for a better tomorrow. And of course the original, acoustic realization of what the patriotic 'Born In The U.S.A.' is really all about and what all that means to the wider world from our own picket fences, front lawns. Yes in this Trumped up age of unsocial media and an even less connected sense of humanity right now we need the Boss like the man who shouted that out his car when he drove past Bruce a few weeks after 9/11 (that lead Springsteen to come out of his almost decade drought and come back for the city on his back from the ashes with 'The Rising' (also brought back here) and the rest is second wind, real icon making symbolism and history) to put us to rights. But this night is more personal than political, like it is close quarter vigil, intimate than stadium arcadium. Less wave your cell phones in the air like you just don't care about anyone else's view (thankfully). More that reaching, if you will, human touch. As naked emotionally as the register his high notes really sing and hit on the out of 'Limbo' soundtrack 'Lift Me Up' (an underrated gem in his underrated for its versatility songbook). This is really about Bruce and us. As we travel together on this adventure like companions or roadside warriors as the song this writer wrote in devotion to his hero outside his family, 'Another Round For Me And The Boy From New Jersey'. Sure the songs are what has made him. Even if a refreshingly more relaxed and even swearing like a sailor, Bruce calls B.S. on his songs about working and driving. Since he never held a driving license back then and hasn't held down a Dolly Parton 9 'till 5, Monday 'till Friday 'till now. But it's all the talk between that makes this and makes the scoured the earth, sought after 'Springsteen On Broadway' so much more than just another live show and gig on his ever extended E Street run of a road trip. All of his heart and soul, personally personified on one backstreet stage just left of Times Square, but in his and our shared reality a million miles away from all that earth, electrical entertainment core neon glow. This is the big draw to the core of the Big Apple until the ball drops like Dick Clark on the last day of the calender. This is just the ticket. If only we could have got one. Well...now in your own home you have a front row seat. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Saturday, 10 November 2018
Life Finds A Key.
Who's better? This writer started an impromptu, this one or that one, movie star debate game on a wet afternoon in Starbucks yesterday. Pacino or Dr Niro? Stallone or Schwarzenegger? Tom Hanks or Denzel Washington? Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock? Bill Murray or Jeff Goldblum? Etc, etc. People got involved. Customers. Baristas. It got fun. It got heated. And oh just for the record if of interest. It goes Pacino, Stallone, Hanks (just), Roberts (yeah I've seen 'Gravity', but put the brilliant Bullock in 'Notting Hill's or 'Pretty Woman' and it just ain't the same) and how you gonna even ask me that? Murray or Goldblum? Santori times or "must go faster"? That would be like a mother or father being asked to choose their favourite child (it probably wasn't me). And I couldn't tell you which etcetera was better...sorry. But point is like Michael Jackson or Prince there are no two actors like the oddball beautiful Bill and Jeff. And this year's vocal 'Isle Of Dogs' co-barks are no two the same. These marvellous misfits who in middle-age have found their perfect place in cult legend and iconic popularity are two of the fact that in their own individual inspirations they are each one of a kind. But still these canine character friends share more than a bone and an affinity for the weird and wonderful like they do Wes Anderson. As a matter of fact like Scarlett Johansson or Will Smith before them they've both made music and as of right now cut their own jazz albums. And who else to bring this great genre back to cool, laid back, trumpet blaring life than Jeff? He brings-like he does with everything he does-that effortless, personified 'je ne sais quoi', which we should just fittingly term...'Goldblum'. You know what it is.
The Goldblum standard is here and it glitters like lounge lights on your glass of whiskey, or the sequins of your loves dress. It's little surprise this renaissance man of his own time has made music like this behind the keys. Jeff is jazz. Behind the notes. On his own random tangent that is part of a much grander scheme that all just works in its own wonder of a way. This man's music is no great secret any more either like fellow modern day legend Morgan Freeman's blues bar in New Orleans (which you know this writer is going to try and hit up when he visits Louisiana next week during his tour of the United States). You could imagine him hosting a night like this in his own place every night of the week he wasn't wining and dining with the finest of friends. Ever since appearing on U.K. chatty talk show host Graham Norton's Friday night show in London, backing up soul sensation Gregory Porter on piano so good the 'Nat King Cole And Me' great had to keep up with him, we've wondered and wished upon an album. And now it's here. As in linking up with Mildred Snitzer's outstanding orchestra for some sessions in the La, La, Land, city of stars, L.A.'s iconic Capitol Studios, Goldblum glows. Giving us something even more stunning than the skyscraping concerts some artists do on the top of this Record buildings peak after recording and cutting their own album. And when the offbeat flirt brings a Hollywood host of his famous friends to the end of his piano to play with, this man ad-libs and talks up the in Hollywood heaven crowd in something so rhythmic we even think he could sing over that perfect playing. But he saves that all for the best of the best. As Jeff being Jeff knows and shows that even though he is the center stage it ain't all about him. And in covering some of the greatest standards with his own timeless signature. Jazz is back with Jeff who never left like it was all meant to be. Life really does find a way.
Haharawrahah! Only his iconic 'Jurassic Park' laugh that has turned into everything from a memes and gifs to an incredible YouTube song (that if isn't what plays (with him on piano may I add) for the first dance on my wedding day then frankly I haven't found my one, true love) is missing in this deluxe evening edition delight. Something as legendary as his Astley, Rick rolled, 'Take On Me' take on the turn around vine. His packaged lunchbox table slap. The fact that he's classically said, "must go faster" in two iconic, blockbuster movies. C'mon! You know which ones, "thank you very much". Or that iconic, shirt open Dr. Ian Malcolm pose that has turned into a box changing pop viynl, works of great Instagram renaissance art and a "must go faster" hallmark headlined, valentine's card for one of the ex Mrs. Tim Harvey's. Not to forget a larger than life sized statue that for a day in London dwarfed the Big Smile's legendary Tower Bridge. But fear not his version of his "in 'Jurassic Park', scary in the dark" made-up lyrics to the John Williams classic theme is here like being scared you're going to be eaten. In instantly recognisable, its own legend, sing-a-long glory, ad-libbed (as good as his off-script, improvised, cheque paying 'Ragnarok' riffs in 'Thor' three) with Sarah Silverman. Yes that's right. Sarah Silverman. The comedian whose just got her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is actually an amazing actress if you didn't know (see her serve herself in 'Battle Of The Sexes'...no I mean really see it). Who according to Jeff that night (and some lady she coincidentally met in the lavatory) has a look of Amy Winehouse about her. Here getting her Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga on with Jeff, cheek-to-cheek with the hilarious, classic off the cuff, linked up rendition of 'Me And My Shadow' and the inspired interlude introduction beforehand. Where he mid-song even enquires about the safety of leaving butter (I can't believe it) out the fridge overnight for the sake of spreadable softness. I'm with you on that one Jeff (can I call you Jeff?)...butter side down. That's the stuff of dreams that speaks to me right there. Never since Beethoven have we witnessed classical compositions such as this...and the funny thing is, you think I'm joking. Gentlemanly flirting up a storm for show with Haaayley Reeeinhart for Nina Simone's simmering 'My Baby Just Cares For Me' too, everyone's favourite has it all. Icon Imelda May smouldering on the warm 'Come On-A-My House' and the 'Straighten Up And Fly Right' standard. Whilst the collar smart Goldblum loosens up and takes off his cool as he lets loose like his GQ styled tie. His keys are Alicia accomplished for all the songs in the key of Mr. "Life Finds A Way'. From the off Broadway, timeless magic of New York in the fall with, 'Nostalgia In Times Square'. All the way to the exotic evoking 'Canteloupe Island', via a 'Caravan' of love. Reworking knockout classics like 'Don't Mess With Mister T' perfectly and 'Gee Baby (Ain't I Good To You)' (YES!) perfectly this is something we're glad entered his mind. Jeff gives us something that makes our wish come true of wanting to know what it feels like to be free. This man is the definition of that with his definitive career path. He even lights up the darkness of Dinah Washington's 'This Bitter Earth' (how Max Richter gives this even more shadow for 'Shutter Island' and the haunting 'Handmaid's Tale' break Elizabeth Moss video, walking around the lonely late night streets of Toronto is tortured testament to the songs bruised beauty) like only he can or have right to do without sacrificing the songs soul. Because all joking and fondness aside this is real music and artistry with every intention from Jeff. Who joins dudes with the same name like Bridges in bridging the Hollywood gap between movies and music. Showing true showmen and the greatest of them (oh hey Hugh) can do both seamlessly and perfectly. This refreshing sip of jazz bar beauty may be the best thing you've heard this year since, "did you hear Jeff Goldblum makes jazz music? Imagine if he made an album"! Your welcome. And we're not worthy Grandmaster maestro. Must go again. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
On Repeat: 'My Baby Just Cares For Me', 'Me And My Shadow', 'Nostalgia Of New York'.
Monday, 29 October 2018
Whoopi Goldberg literally just gave BTS the very shirt off her back. The K-Pop sensation that have even made Psy's 'Gangnam' last season's style are in London on the BBC's Friday night talk show hosted by the hilarious and heartfelt Graham Norton. And everyone in attendance are screaming in a One Direction unison that points to the nostalgia of the first time four fabulous lads from Liverpool graced the stage of the Ed Sullivan show. These 'Idols' have just performed their big hit with showstopping chereography. Without needing superstar guest feature queen Nicki Minaj. And now they're all on the couch with 'Gone Girl's' Rosamund Pike and more of Hollywood's elite. Talking so much in near perfect translation that there isn't even time for Norton's sought after, popular red-chair flipping segment. Because nobody wants to see this squad walk. Everyone is in their gang, in soldier march, army unison. As Harry Connick Jr. syly snaps a selfie. Whilst 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' leading man heartthrob Jamie Dornan asks if he can be a new member of the group as Jimin is at home resting off a dance related injury. There may not be seven of them tonight, but there's a billion served worldwide for what may just become the best boy band of all-time. Giving both style and more substance to the fast food world of pop music in this Spotify digital age. Fan boys and girls across the globe want these guys album for real. There's a reason they are more than the best boy band since the Backstreet Boys and it has nothing to do with just how good they look or sing. These guys are on the cover of TIME right now. And they even spoke at the United Nations. You ever seen Justin Bieber do that?! It's because their genuine and sincere 'Love Yourself' message from the album of the same name is more like a movement that has given them this legion of real world followers. Watching and mimicking their every move like a dance, far more than the tomorrow too late, too gone, Twitter trending age. 'Sister Act' legend Goldberg was so moved by this chorus she unbuttoned her shirt that matched the beauty of the boys kimono's and handed it to the grateful recipients. Explaining that the piece of clothing-her own design-was all about movement and people. Giving it in heartfelt thanks to all the joy these boys are bringing to the world. Because after all the only way to erase pain is with joy. The only way to turn hate is with love. Which she saw in these young men in this very moment she became the newest member of the BTS army.
Bang Tan Boys leader RM may just be the most famous face in the world right now. The leading man of everything entertainment. Don't believe us? Just watch! It was once Bruno Mars uptown, but now it's this young soul from Seoul. Not new Los Angeles Lakers franchise superstar King LeBron James. Or Hollywood and 'Atlanta' movie and music star Donald Glover AKA Childish Gambino. Because this is more than America. Dreams aren't just made in California anymore. They belong just as Far East as they do in the wild west. And whether it be the neon temple culture of Japan, from the modern all the way back to the traditional. Or the 'Crazy Rich Asian' money of China and this year's biggest movie. Their influence is as present as it is correct. It's not all about the United States. For every comic-book there's manga. For ever Pixar, anime from studios like Ghibli. And now this young man and his squad are waving the flag for South Korea in a country that gives us hit movies Hollywood has no need or even right to remake. Like the zombie horror whose drama could actually move you to tears in 'Train To Busan' (and it's amazing animated prequel 'Seoul Station'). Or ones that could take on both 'Atomic Blonde' and 'John Wick' combined in 'The Villainess' (there's your crossover right there). Meaning so much for a country who has so much against it. From their neighbours in the oppressing North. To the suicide rates in the South. Especially amongst youngsters and especially amongst young males that has reached epidemic levels of more than a national concern. We all tragically remember what happened at the end of last year to the late, great Jonghyun of Shinee. This is for him. My friend. And everyone we have lost to depression. RM and BTS teaching and telling the soul of their native South Korea and every boy and girl around the world to love themselves and keep doing so is exactly what this world falling to negativity like a Trump tweet needs right now and forever more. These are the most powerful men in the world. More than entertainment. As they have the right to practice what they preach in a political arena. But this isn't that. No politics as usual. This is all about the personal. And helping the public regain purpose in their private lives. Without shame or blame. Showing joy comes with pain. Something beautiful comes out of struggle. And light comes out of the shadows. Showing we can all rise from the trap of the four walls of our mind. Or the thoughts of the world in kind. You can call him artist. You can call him idol.
But don't point fingers. The reserved, but most outspoken leader of BTS-especially on a global PR scale-may have billions screaming his initials with BTS, but sometimes he goes it alone. And this former 'Rap Monster' RM follows his first name self-titled mixtape with a new collection he calls a playlist like fellow rapper from Canada, Drake's 'More Life's and all that Spotify streaming 'Passionfruit'. This 'Mono' music (with white paper, pencil scrawled, 'If You're Reading This It's Too Late' like artwork) and it's seven seal tracks, sinning in regards to the middle of the night awake, headphones on, electro-pop, atmospheric dream, are a whole different tone than BTS' candy coated chart collection. Yet from artistic videos to poetic interludes and messages not so subtely hidden, these beautiful boys have always hinted towards this depth of character and lyrical dexterity. Truly facing himself as the man in the mirror of the whole world watching, RM bares to us his most personal and profound project yet. Alongside American greats like capital lyricist, Washington's Wale he professed his skills as a true hip-hop star on his first tape. But this playlist punctuates not only his pain, but his power drawn from all that and all ours too as he encompasses us all. If anyone doubted BTS or K-Pop wasn't real music with real feeling then they won't now. From South Korea to Japan and the rest of this former MTV generation planet. This is real music like O.D. Harry Styles' solo songwriting album people couldn't believe was him like it wasn't butter. The 'mono.' opener 'Tokyo' is the new anthem for the metropolis of the Far East and the neon illuminated world like Harajuku fashion. Bathed in bright light, big city loneliness like people watching at the crossing of Shibuya's iconic Starbucks. Singing, "Life is a word that sometimes you cannot say/And ash is a thing that someday we all should be/When tomorrow comes/How different it's going to be/Why do love and hate sound just the same to me?" And even in Korean none of the hurt or humility in RM's words are lost in translation. Especially when he collaborates with English synth duo big in Japan and all of Asia, Honne for his hometown 'Seoul' and it's lavishing lyrical video. Mapping the city streets of the South Korean capital to Honne's unmistakable produced sound. From the skyscrapers of a bright day, to the twinkling lights loneliness of night. As R.M. seeing love and hate as the same, mirrors 'I love you so' light and dark "I love you Seoul/I hate you Seoul" musings to a video that's camera work turns the city upside down on itself for 'Tron' like neon time lapse tunnels, to tableaus of sea sky beautiful blue. "This city's harmony, it’s so familiar to me" he laments over this legendary landscape. That all comes to a parked car, convenience store head as our narrator, staying up on a late night drive way past seven or eleven tells us he's leaving like he's living. Surprised? Dont be. Besides 'Everythingoes' like he says on the electronic, euphoric standout he warns with wisdom behind the Maxwell and Musiq Soulchild styled, titled tracks. Whilst trying to reassure us amongst our troubles and struggles, 'uhGood'. And then woefully waving a ''badbye' to a lost love he wishes would "kill (him) softly" like a timeless Fugees song. But there's light in the phoenix rise, "We gotta dance in the rain/Dance in the pain" of the night is darkest before the dawn 'Moonchild'. Like the young man he was watching from his window as he told the United Nations in his stirring speech. But on his windows pain all you have to do is hear and see the closer 'Forever Rain' on his glass pane to feel his so emphatically and empathetically. Hiding under his umbrella, whilst people are minding theirs. Screaming out his hurt, "When it rains I/Get a little feeling that I do have a friend/Keeps knocking on my windows/Asks me if I’m doing well/And I answer, I’m still a hostage of life/I don’t live because I can’t die/But I’m chained to something". In all its depth of darkness, but influential introspection for a modern world, head down, lost in their phones. Like under the umbrella of a scrolling downpour. Accompanied by the amazing, beautiful, black and white animation on a 'The House Of Small Cubes' heartbreaking scale for the music video. Which may win no Oscars, but could sure use a Grammy. If these guys get ignored at the next ceremony than the industry really doesn't know music like that ignorant drivel they said about women this year that doesn't even bare repeating. This is the most substance pop has had since Sia put on a blonde wig, turned around and sung to the chandeliers. And that ruling Australian wasn't American too. RM is clearly a man still dreaming awake, whilst we are in R.E.M. like 'Everybody Hurts'. Wishing he could sleep off the pain. But in this 'Mono' mood there's honest beauty in his vulnerability. Flesh and blood turning hurt into art. And baring his soul he shows so much heart in return over these beats. Now doesn't that sound like love to yourselves? TIM DAVID HARVEY.
On Repeat: 'Seoul', 'Tokyo', 'Forever Rain'.
Sunday, 30 September 2018
Seamlessly blending native French and our own English in the same sentences of the same lines of the same hook gives Chris(tine) and her Queens one of the greatest gifts in modern pop music. Like the ability to see Sia's pain in how she instrumentally pitches her voice. Or how Taylor Swift can turn a broken heart into a hit record. But even from a Japanese Breakfast to a London Underground there is no electro, experimental synth-pop quite like Christine and the Queens. Hearing Héloïse Letissier levitate and translate between music like she did 808 samples of Kanye West's 'Heartless' interpolated with Christophe's 'Les Paradis Perdus' is as pleasant a surprise as seeing the iron lady of the Eiffel Tower in a golden Paris night light up like a thousand flashbulbs that will end up taking that same picture. But this pansexual 30 year old from Nantes, France is mixing nothing up as she truly finds herself in 'Chris'. The formidable follow-up to the beautiful breakthrough, 'Chaleur Humaine' sees the gender fluid artist crop her locks, slick them back and scrawl out the 'tine' in her name to just be Chris and the Queens. Leaving the only confusion being to whether some of the lyrics to lead, lead strong single 'Girlfriend' are French or "pardon my French". But Chris saves the swearing for in Spanish in a world and time were we have gone from having international fans sing along to songs from the Beatles in perfect English, without translation. To us lost in singing the foreign phrases from international artists like uber famous, South Korean boy band BTS in the same word for word. And like Cash or King Cole making albums in different languages for different countries, the queens' 'Chris' gives us a French and English version of the same record. In a today where language like gender constructs just don't matter.
We've waited a long time to hear from something just like this. And going back to the future in the 80's synth of her 'Girlfriend', Chris sings and swings on a wrecking ball, "I'm gone in a flick, but back in a second/With salted skin, rash for no reason/Boys are loading their arms, girls gasp with envy/F-f-for whom are they mimicking endlessly?/Same old sadness in small lumps on my jaw/For lusting after is the usual freak show/May your girl come, birdie die under this spur/F-f-f-fingers angrily sunk on the jugular, then girlfriend" for all the pop princesses to take note. "Touché" indeed. This album also contains '5 Dollars'. No not some money back in the form of honest Abe, but another stellar single that goes for the scores, singing, "You’re eager and unashamed/I grieve by dying every night baby/Prove them wrong when you get 5 dollars" and dressing up another classic visual for the S&M inspired music video. But forget a safe word, things get real personal and worth more on 'Doesn't Matter (Voleur de Soleil)' with lasting lines like, "Lingering on when they kiss/Leaning towards this abyss/And of lately the only people I can stare/Are the unraveled ones with their hands laying bare" and the potently powerful, "Rage as a fabric, through and through/Like that gaze they used to do/'Cause the suicidal thoughts that are still in my head/Give her that awful side-smile when I lay in bed" showing so much substance beneath the synth style. As Chris takes depression and anger to personal task. Whilst the French 'La Marcheuse' gives even deeper meaning, singing, "J’vais marcher très longtemps/Et je m’en vais trouver les poings qui redessinent/J’vais chercher éhontément/Les coups portés sur moi/La violence facile". Even lost in translation you hear and feel every emotion as it gets into the blood in your blue veins.
Yet for those about to ask Google, we'll save the breath that does the effort of just keying it in as those lyrics mean, "I'm going to walk all the time/And I'm going to force the aggressive looks/I always go in front/I'm waiting to find/Easy violence" and literally so much more. There's depth to the decadence and mainstream defiance as Chris(tine) and the Queens show us that popular music need not be the bubblegum saccharine of those who would rather live their lives for mainstream acceptance, rather than their own individual stance, head and shoulders (word to the shampoo). As a matter of fact the only artist that stands a frame above this is the 'Masseducation' of miss St. Vincent. But with this soaring sophomore, statement album after a definitive debut, when these queens hit trip we'll know whether they become shooting stars sky-rocketing before they flame out. Or legends of music that will forever be timeless. Tracks like the outstanding opener in LCD Soundsystem like electro-funk reply, 'Comme Si' and the domestic violence cautionary tale of 'The Walker' further this notion. Whilst 'Goya Soda' fizzes and pops like ring pulls on shaken cans. But the worn word to the wise of 'Damn (What Must A Woman Do)' brings pure heartbreak over heart strings, pitching, "Let me mourn/The one that corrupted all/How cold she doesn't call, no calls, no calls/Just like before/I'm worn out but I want some more/Naked with opened door/Encore, encore". Stronger than the sweet soul of 'Humaine' and toned up with Cameo and Michael Jackson 'Dangerous' influences from 'What's-Her-Face' to 'Feels So Good'. There are sharper edges here like 'Make Some Sense' to the bolder 'The Stranger' in an album full of instant classics that become as readily recognisable as something you've heard for years by the second chorus. The raw pansexual energy, lust and sweat of this set is stunning. And much more freeing with purity in equality. As this queen of hearts becomes Chris, not only are we given one of the greatest albums of the year, but also one of the most defiant of the decade and most meaningful of her moment in the mainstream. An explosion of feminism, masculinity, sexuality and vulnerability that will touch you body and soul, skin to skin. Feel it. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
On Repeat: 'Girlfriend', 'Comme Si', La Marcheuse'.
Monday, 24 September 2018
How many days? How long did it take before they took a blow torch to Prince's legendary vault of treasures? His hidden gems. His unreleased tracks and albums. His real music collection. Rumour has it that Prince once recorded an entire duet album with good friend and 'American Woman' live collaborator Lenny Kravitz (whose current, cool, calm 'Raise Vibration' album out this month also is the 'Let Love Rule' feeling of peace the whole world needs right now), only to tell him upon completion, "this is just for us"! Can you imagine Kravitz's jaw and cash drawer dropping reaction? But there's something beautiful and sacred about that. The fact that no matter how much we yearn and burn for it, we probably will never hear the soul these two spiritual artists worked on together, personally...and more importantly privately. Which is their right, not ours. And no matter what, it's still out there. And we mean in the musical ether for God's ears only. Not for public, vulturing consumption. Believe me, some things should just be left be. And if you really love the artist you claim ownership to in fandom, then there is something inherently not quite right about the grave-digging, cherry-picking, money-making off the music he probably never intended to release. Which now sees the light of day in a way which should have only been seen with his consent. Still, truth be told we have no idea of Prince's true feelings on this subject to judge his estate. We had a clue with what they did to Mr. Jackson with 'Michael' and his cease and desist reaction to his love symbol being used in his late friend and music rivals posthumous album artwork. Or the Superbowl Halftime Show ('Purple Rain' in the rain as he throws his bandana into the crowd so cool! Thank you musical Gods) legends beyond the grave thoughts of a hologram being used in sync with pop superstar Justin Timberlake's mid-February tribute. Turns out in the end the man who once started a rivalry with Mr. Rogers after the purple one asked how can sexy be back when it never left, performed a respectful tribute fit for a Prince as the city of Minneapolis lit up a beautiful, purple love symbol across the Viking's stadium and the streets of this Minnesota city. Yet still although we should all just let this great man rest in the peace he's earned and not be like these tabloids who still want to exploit the details of this mans death which in rights only belong to his family privately, just to sell newspapers. There's something about new music from this genius that we just want to at least hear even if the game is to be sold and not to be told. Just to keep this mans spirit alive. Even though we all know it could never die.
'Moonbeam Levels' set it all off on the '4Ever' collection of his ultimate greatest hits. Proving that the level of this stars cutting room floor edits could still shoot for the moon. But we already knew this from his B-Sides greatest best that even appeared in concert (most notably 'She's Always In My Hair' and the originals of superstar songs he wrote for others like Sinead O'Connor's, 'Nothing Compares 2 U') and the complete 'The Works'. And we always knew this day was going to come too where we would see the first full release album from a multiple artist discography load of work from a man who averaged an album for each year he was active in the music industry for over three dynamic, dominant, definitive decades. And you thought rap God, Tupac Shakur had a songbook to rival Dylan's. This real king of pop, Prince had it all in any genre and style. All the way down to the acoustics of the bare and beautiful, pen and paper songwriting origins. Forget two turntables and a microphone. All he needs is piano and I and one. And in tinkling ivories for some songs in the key of his life. Prince gets his 'How Come You Don't Call Me', Alicia and Elton John on. Chord progessive fitting in the fact that the artist was about to tour with just that one instrument and his voice before he died two tragic years ago in the same 12 months we lost a princess too, the beautiful Bowie, George Michael at Christmas, saw the Champ fall and got nothing but Trump and Brexit back in return. Beautiful in tribute in so far as in Paisely Park Prince was actually performing on piano after concerts, in private invite only gigs for his fans where all were welcome on multiple nights, despite multiple health problems, days before he died. There was no other way to set off this collection of life after death releases. And in '83, bridging the year gap between his breakout '1999' and his magnum opus 'Purple Rain', 'Piano & A Microphone, 1983' fits in perfectly. Where else could you hear a minute and change version of the eight wonderful minutes, 'Purple Rain' just as grand and a real and raw rework of the 'International Lover' closer off '99?
Stripped down to the bare minerals and as inspiringly intimate as the freedom of musicality and sexuality the M.F. Prince brought to the 80's like with the 'Virgin', Madonna. For all that's going to come out from this artist in the coming years, this is probably and essentially the closest we will ever get to Prince Rogers Nelson. From the opening "can we turn the lights down" request of the piano sharp highlight of '17 Days' there are no smoke and mirrors here. Just like the iconic, dark room, black and white captured flashbulb moment of the albums artwork and now collection classic cover. Featuring the man himself poignantly and pensive, albeit with strength looking into the good light of the make up mirror, with foundation, water and tissues on the ledge of the desk in front of him. In theatre they call this shot and moment 'The Half' (hour) before curtain call. It's arguably an artist at their most vulnerable, before they bare it all. And what better way to capture Prince's most purest performance than this? And in this nine track beauty featuring the signs of the early times of 'Strange Relationship' and the now lead single of his own classic cover of the spiritual 'Mary Don't You Weep', which has been done from everyone from the dear departed Aretha, to the Seeger Sessions of the Boss Springsteen with so much soul. There's so much gold here from the dust of Prince's purple piano. From 'A Case Of You' to 'Wednesday' and the title and album standout, 'Cold Coffee and Cocaine' that gives the visionary blues key to Ray Charles a run for their stimulating substance. But Trent D'Arby delicately floating finally in this cohesive collections closer 'Why The Butterflies', Prince asks his mother, "what's this strange, strange". And it's almost an echoed sentiment here. Because no matter how good and privileged it feels to hear new music from Mr. Nelson. It also feels a little intrusive and off...and not because of the nature of these real and raw demos that without polish are simply perfect. Take it this way, a 'Hit N Run' year before he died this writer somehow at the last ticket and time off work minute got to see Prince live in the greatest gig he'll ever see and has no cell phone away record of. One that also ended with the encore of a piano solo. All I have is a review and the words that could never do justice to the show that just went on from a showstopper on the envelope pushing top of his musical game (you should really hear the last, new music). One that looking younger than ever we had no idea was going to pass just a calender later. Like Ziggy we thought the symbol was going to live for ever. But in a way like Stardust he will...he's just gone on home to his home planet (thanks Daily Planet in 'Justice League'). But the morning after when I thought my review was going to meet poor writing criticism, it actually found an e-mail headed from "the offices of Prince". One graciously saying they actually, amazingly (thank you lord) liked what I wrote, would I use this official photo instead (erm...yes of course!) and would it be okay to use quotes from it on their website with of course a credit (now c'mon man...what do you think?). Now although hoax or no hoax I never saw my name in those official headline lights it doesn't quite matter. I can't help think to this day, "the offices"? Does this mean he saw my review?! Prince?! Does the 'Controversy' cover star even read his own press? I hope so. But now I'll never know. And in someways like the music we'll never hear, somehow that's alright with me. It's more fitting this way. More pure and beautiful that way. In some ways...it's just right. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Key Tracks: 'Mary Don't You Weep', '17 Days', 'Cold Coffee & Cocaine'.
Saturday, 22 September 2018
(Our new column 'The Stream' debuts with a look at South Korean sensation and K-Pop megastars BTS)
Seoul power! When I'm not trying to get this writing dream off paper (yes...we have real jobs), I work in the retail record store HMV (yes...there are still some out there). And this year even though music isn't even the biggest seller (it's a sad day when Pop Vinyls sell more than actual vinyls), between the usual suspects of Ed Sheeran, Eminem, Post Malone, Lady Gaga, Adele, Andre Rieu and Hugh Jackman (ladies and gentlemen did you forget about that soundtrack you've been waiting for?) teenage girl after teenage mother have kept asking, "do you have any BTS"!
"I'm sorry madam! We're not that kind of store!"
Turns out BTS isn't text speak or a medical condition. But in fact a South Korean pop revolution of megastar idols that can even finally get that Psy 'Gangnam Style' song out your heads, hips and the lips of every party playlist requests (C'mon dad! Not again! You said last time ten chin poses ago). One so worldwide huge they are about to be the first K-Pop act to speak at the United Nations. And if you don't think much of that (and you really, REALLY should!) the guys from the Far East have just eclipsed the girl from Nashville. As the video for these idols new song 'IDOL' has just taken over Taylor Swift's youtube record by just...ya know 2.7...MILLION views.
Look what you made them do!
But you have to hand it to their legion of loyal Bangtan Boys squad of (st)fans and their patient, penniless parents. BTS C.D.'s (yes...we still sell these Spotify) have gone from tax like import prices to being sold alongside discounted merch and free posters that elict the same screams these boys produce that lies on the richter scale somewhere between One Direction and more needle leaning towards Beatlemania. You earned it BTS Army! And if you think they're huge here. Just imagine what they're like in their own country. Let alone continent...and the watching world.
Just see them on 'Ellen', Fallon or award show live featuring Hollywood stars like iPod kid, 'Baby Driver' Ansel Elgort with their smartphones out recording and posting like the fans they are. Because like it or not BTS are the pin up posterboys of the hashtag generation. Or should we say the top trend?! And refreshingly in a time where the all Chinese cast of 'Crazy Rich Asians' becomes the number one movie in the country, there's absolutely nothing Hollywood about it all. It's its own entertainment world of wonder. If you thought flicking through the hotel T.V. with Bill Murray in 'Lost In Translation' was weird and wonderful, then wait until you see these crazily colourful and chereographed, coated in candy popping, vivid visuals of music videos featuring digital giraffes, tigers and sharks OH MY!
And when they catwalk that fashion to those dance moves you'll be emulating like 'This Is America', if you thought Harajuku in Tokyo had style then you better shop again in the 24 opening hour city of Seoul. Because these kids look like they raided Prince's wardrobe when everyone else was blow torching his vault of music. Who else can pull off color combos and ruffles like this?! The artist formerly known as! And it's all coordinated like this perfect pop manufacturing. And this Bowie gender fluid look has a real positive message in a smaller world that's finally in some corners becoming more open. These guys dress how they feel...and they are heartthrob adored for it. How's that for respect? And guys if you have a problem with that you wouldn't if it was a gang of J-Pop girls with guitars living out your favourite anime fantasies...just saying!
And after finally adding them to the work playlist to "see" (it's only right) what they're like (normally I try and look cool with some Dylan or Black Keys) much to my co-workers shaking head dismay, I get it. This is why they're rapping (and they actually can...with formidable flow) with queen Nicki Minaj or throwing cakes with Steve Aoki on the dancefloor like "go shawty it's your birthday". As everyone around the globe sings and 'Idol Challenge' dances along, inspiringly without translation after decades of international countries lip syncing in English (except with artists like Johnny Cash and Nat King Cole who amazingly added to their countless catalogues and body of work by recording albums in multiple different languages) to their favourite pop songs. Barriers and borders have been broken. Influence is inspiring when it's not about what makes money, but what makes people happy.
The energy that emnates from their power bar like lift of music will be streaming and surging on your next gym playlist. Replacing aggression with happiness. And forever at the risk of sounding corny isn't that what the world needs right now? As their 'Love Yourself' message isn't selfish in this selfie age...it's all encompassing. These young BTS men are crazy, sexy, cool like TLC without trying to be hard, intimidating or bullying. They're all inclusive and this is exactly what their country or we all need right now. With North Korea playing nuclear hot potato with that spud Trump and that whole side of the continent unaware of the beauty they are going to war with below. It's time for open eyes, minds and hearts.
And these positive male role models are what S. Korea also needs now desperately with depression and suicide rates over there soaring to epidemic levels. Especially tragically with young men and entertainers. You only have to look at late last year and the loss of the lead singer of Shinee, Jonghyun. A man who in spite of his sadness brought so much joy. Or this writer himself whose close friend from over there, having lost a brother a decade ago still feels that puncuated pain. This writer who now is also hopefully himself finally coming out the other side of the worst year of his life. We all need this and see who we've lost to tragedy in these boys' happiness and humanity. Coupled with their poetic lyrics about mental health that can help lift us out of this depression. It's positivity in a time of unfortunately the exact opposite. It's heart and soul from Seoul in a time and trending tide were we all need a little more hope. BTS I'm actually a fan. You yourself should be too. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Saturday, 2 June 2018
Found In Translation.
Coming into focus, back together again, great American singer/songwriter Pete Yorn thumbs the bridge of his nose between his eyes as he restlessly leans on the open window of American muscle. He pulls the sleeve of his suit jacket back to check the time on his elegant wrist watch and looks out of his passenger side window in polite impatience. And then there she is. Hollywood starlett Scarlett Johansson. Riding shotgun looking back at him like something cinematic on this long and swerving kaleidoscopic road. As if 2009 wasn't almost ten years gone next calender. Short bob rocking, singing about her "bangs growing too long" as she pulls the directions of a mascara wrote, alcohol smudged cocktail napkin out her diamond shining pocketbook purse. Her bottle green cocktail dress gleaming the same like the smashed glass on the back seat that twinkle like the stars in the back windows rearview. Carpool singing together about relationship woories and 'Bad Dreams' like it was the happiest song in the world. Air-drumming and swaying side to side in sing-along unison (with even a crazy to camera 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' driver seat looking reference). All whilst turning the car radio tuner to a whole new beat and street, the She and Him of actress Scarlett Johansson and singer Pete Yorn reunite like M. Ward and 'New Girl' Zooey Deschanel are about to too. "Thanks for breaking up with me again" Johansson tells Yorn in the albums linear notes. Seems fitting.
They "broke up" in 2009 with these friends collaborative album 'Break Up'. When 'Back and Forth' singer Yorn phone call recruited Academy actress Johansson and femme fatale throwback Scarlett to work on a new album with him. Following her 'Lost In Translation' breakout to the movie mainstream of legendary legacy making leading ladies in 2003 when she was still a teen, Scarlett really came of age before the Avenging Black Widow days of Thor like blockbuster war dominance to 'Infinity' thunder. And her 2008 album of Tom Waits covers 'Anywhere I Lay My Head' showed she could beautifully go at it on her own, before Yorn called her up for their dual nine track album. One that birthed the instantly infectious, foot-stomping classic single 'Relator' and the solo Scarlett standout cover 'I Am The Cosmos', like Pete's own 'Someday' closer on a classic album as songwriting straight-forward as the timeless over a pad and pen cover. Now back with another classic one, their E.P. sister follow up to their 'Break Up' album, 'Apart' explores the aftermath of a broken relationship. But it almost has the fond, found feeling of a Sofia Coppola 'Lost In Translation' sequel reuniting with Bill Murray for Santori times in the Park Hyatt hotel (like the 'A Murray Christmas' Netflix special), or Johansson's return to the Tokyo neons for last years amazing anime adaptation, 'Ghost In The Shell'. And relating to 'Relator', 'Bad Dreams' reawakens the toe-tapping catchy opening single number.
"Worried I lost my car keys or that I said something wrong/Worried about the mess that's in my house, that's in my heart/Worried that I'll go crazy every time that we're apart" they sing in the chrome filter of traffic and night lights reflecting off their shimmering car for a standout single that shines like it does. And if that feels like something straight out of the flicks of a film then wait until you here the dual favourite on this half-album. 'Movies' feels exactly like one with Yorn's lasting lyrics, offset by Scarlett's smoky, smouldering vocals. Now their own trademarks like they are their own Ryan Adams or Norah Jones'. The out the gate permenance of the hook, "Take me to the movies/Take me where you're going/I don't want to live without you" as smoky and seductive as Scarlett singing "La-la-la-la-la, love you" in harmony with the outstanding opener 'Iguana Bird'. There's even an as red as romance, or this E.P.'s artwork cover remix to Pete Yorn's 'Tomorrow'; off his last acclaimed album 'Arranging Time' album on this five-track today. But it's the relationship ashes and dust stubbed out on 'Cigarello' that is cinematically, open-road and heart compelling and illuminating as a plugged in car cigarette lighter under the dash as Yorn years, "Cigarello in your eyes/Choking on the good goodbyes/We dream of better days". The whole EP has this same atmospheric feeling and need of wanting for more from the tracks and the tears of two unique artists in their own right. Finally back in each others collaborative embrace for after what feels like forever, but in an instant is brought back like they never left. We hope another decade doesn't age before these two decide to be apart no longer for even more songs. One good encore deserves another...together. And 'Apart'-even in its extended play half measure in comparison to the almost decade ago 'Break Up' L.P.-shows us sometimes the greatest love stories belong to the ones we lost. But like something that never really leaves us, will always hold close...forever. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Sunday, 1 April 2018
Land Of Hope & Blues.
Credit late blues great John Lee Hooker for this perfect pairing. Hooker woke up one morning and decided that blues icon Charlie Musselwhite and multiple bandsman Ben Harper needed to cut an album together. So he made the necessary introductions and the rest my friends is beautiful blues history like John Lee's own legendary legacy. Now after the Grammy winning 'Get Up' album (and stellar standouts like the last waltz of 'We Can't End This Way' and the cowboy fedora of 'I Ride At Dawn'), it's time to get down on the dynamo duos new album 'No Mercy In This Land', for a world that needs that sort of peace right now. And what better than the spirit of the blues? That are as soothing to yearning or roadside wandering hearts like a tended whiskey slid over the bar and placed on top of a cocktail napkin at the end of a long and winding day. And in the catalogue of all the collaborations the epic, eclectic Harper has constantly created and curated (from his Fistful Of Mercy supergroup, to the gospel of the Blind Boys of Alabama or even his own mother Ellen for 'My Childhood Home'), between reuniting with the Innocent Criminals for 2016's 'Call It Like It Is' and the rumor of getting the Relentless7 band back together for the next go round, no one has quite left as indelible mark on Harper than the legendary blues muscle of Musselwhite. Charlie kisses the harmonica like the great love of his life. Whilst Ben meticulously and tenderly cradles his trademark slide guitar like a craftsman working a lathe. And together in soul they hone this music with all their heart, giving new color to the blues.
Looks like these two actually are looking twice with their second album. And after the traditional blues of 'When I Go' sets everything off like stomping feet, 'Bad Habits' shows the ever lyrical Harper writing more classic couplets that rhyme with the reasons the blues were born. "When a man gives you his hat/He's living on borrowed time/The shoe fit so I wore it/But I left one lace untied" the man who once told us "you have to live my life to get boots like these" warns as he sings and brings wisdom to what otherwise would be a life cliche. These creations continue on the blood and bone of 'Love and Trust'. That as Harper plays the slide like a harp with Musselwhite in harmonica harmony gives us gospel, writing, "Like a horse in a race/That doesn't want to run/An executioner who won't fire his gun/Like a boxer who won't take a swing/Like a prince/Who don't want to be a king/Haven't we suffered/Suffered enough/Now we're out here fighting/About some love and trust". As the man influenced by Marvin, Martin and all sorts of kings like B.B. refuses to muddy the waters of what's really going on. But the maverick man of modern music with more meaning doesn't just point fingers without turning them inward as he takes a few shots, some subliminal and some just straight on 'The Bottle Wins Again', yearning, "Broken hearts and broken dreams/Turns out they weigh the same/Passed down through generations/Like the family name/There's a gilded coat of arms/For those who heal from within/But tonight the bottle wins again". Then the beautiful ballad 'Found The One' really haunts the heart like the first dance of matrimony. Before it ends up being the last one too as the brooding returns to shoulder the pain of loss. This is the blues after all.
"Everybody says I love you/But not everybody lives I love you". "I could've held you more carefully/And I suppose you could've been there for me". "Choosing not to remember/Is no way to forget/That's just a losing bet". "These old streets of shame/Will they ever look the same/Will they remember our name"Just ask the dust". On arguably the most lyrical of all the laments on this disc for the record, Harper tells us a tale of 'When Love Is Not Enough' just mere seconds after 'Found A One' fades out. He pulls no punches after he's gut checked with a black eye from the blues. Back at the bar with a cup of blues poured to the brim the innocent criminal who once warned us "not to stand insincere at the side of my grave", brings those contrasting couplets back to the barstools bedside manner as he slams the shovel in. "Spend your whole life with one woman/Die and leave her your farm/The very next day she's on your best friend's arm/There ain't no worries/You can't drink away". Clicking with the spurs of those wild ones that still live in the old west the man who has now made the fedora his trademark is as rhinestone as the slicked back shirts of Musselwhite. And the pair play it again like Sam for the 'No Mercy In This Land' title-track as Musslewhite mourns, "Father left us down here all alone/My poor mother is under a stone/With an aching heart and trembling hands/Is there no mercy in this land". With a vivid vocal from behind the harmonica that aches and trembles with leather worn, brutual beauty of the very words he sings. All from a man who has been through it all and will tell us more than we will ever likely see. Harper gets clever for those who "learned to hustle, but never learned to dance" on 'Movin' On' as he rolls, "Won me in a poker game/Lost me in a bet/Then you got the nerve/To turn around and get upset". Before the beautiful blemishes of the slow-burn closer 'Nothing At All' really brings those bitter and sweet life lessons, that hauntingly and heartbreakingly never leave you like an inner scar only you can see. "This world's too hard to not have someone break my fall/We climb this world stone by stone/We love each other bone by bone/There are sins for which one just cannot atone/There's a price we pay/For the places we lay", Harper sings over strained strings and the man playing behind him in black that will always have his back 'till the bones. 'Get Up' got a Grammy. There will be the very name of this album if 'Land' doesn't at least lay the groundwork for another one. Whether an award or album for this trilogies conclusion. Lord have mercy. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Wednesday, 28 March 2018
Third Man's The Charm.
"I'm thinking of starting a corperation. Whose with me?" Jack White proclaims on the White Stripes, Raconteurs and Dead Weather trilogy bandsmans third solo album on his Third Man imprint. But don't worry, despite his self-made record business in the heart of Music City, Nashville, Mr. White isn't selling out to the masses. It's all not so subtle, tongue in cheek lashing passive aggression to not be passed over on the track 'Corperation'. Which also features starting a revolution lyrics like "Nowadays, that's how you get adulation" and "I'm gonna buy up all the empty lots and make one giant farm/Who's with me?" Highlighting an album highlight off 'Boarding House Reach', that after the solo self 'Blunderbuss' beginning and lavishing 'Lazaretto' follow (not to mention or forget his amazing acoustic recording, the gold standard, shining 'Great Gatsby' standout for Jay-Z's curated soundtrack ('Love Is Blindness') and his 'Lemonade' sip in return with Beyonce ('Don't Hurt Yourself')), is a bat#### classic. Weird and wonderful and brilliant and bold like his trademark guitar riffing. Jack's most ambitious shot out the box yet is screamingly beautiful. Complete with soul singing in the background for a rock and roll king from the town that's a little bit country, who with all his recent musical company has found a nuanced hip-hop niche. Yep, Jack White raps on this album that is all over the place but in a grand and great way that will have your headphones permanently in place. Besides when Beck does it you don't complain like his latest classic 'Colors'. Or how about when late, great Aussie INXS ruler and most formidable frontman Michael Hutchence turned the 'Kick' of the bands biggest hit 'Need You Tonight' into a remixed interlude 'Mediate' complete with placard phrase, Dylan-esque cue cards? White can do it too and this Jack of all trades jacks up both the amps and the 808s...and that's not even a self-serving plug. Whose with me?
Like what real music is supposed to be all about. It's just all connected. Connected like the lead single and very human alien invasion video says, 'Connected By Love'. Singing, "Woman, don't you know what I'm suffering from/Ease my pain, make it wash on with the rain/Relieve me and put it up on your shelf/Take it away, and give it to somebody else" on what may be the superior solo single of his collaborating career, Jack gives us one of the best blues numbers in a grand genre. But it's got nothing on the soul stirring, straight-laced, second single standout, 'Over and Over and Over' with again a Penrose perfect back and forth video, painted in 'Boarding House' and 'Lazaretto' blue and even A-Ha/Paddington background white. With 'Icky Thump' duking licks and a visual as epic as the White Stripes video classics of the groundbreaking kaleidoscope of 'Seven Nation Army' and the repeating 'The Hardest Button To Button', 'Over and Over' impresses as one of the strongest songs in his entire, epic classic catalogue. But as he sings, "The Sisyphean dreamer/My fibula and femur/Hold the weight of the world/(Over and over)/I think, therefore I die/Anxiety and I rolling down a mountain/(Over and over)/My shoulder holds the weight of the world" screaming for the sign of the times this even has nothing on some of the themes traversed on this groundbreaking and stereo shaking piece of album art. 'Why Walk A Dog" takes on all forms of animal cruelty for the vegan generation without petting or pandering as Jack preaches, "Are you their master?/Did you buy them at the store?/Did they know they were a cure/For you to stop being bored?/So somebody mated them/And took their babies away from them/Stuck a price tag on their nose/And now you’re buying it clothes" with bitter bite we should all heed more than bark about.
After the 'Abulia and Akrasia' spoken-word interlude like 'Ezmerelda Steals The Show' the hyper 'Hypermisophoniac' keeps the motor running for the 'Motor City' Detroit kid in the same rock and rolling vein. Whilst the licked strings of 'Ice Station Zebra' continue the coldest singles streak of White, matched with his animalistic lyrics aimed to claw away at both the competition and the corperation that thinks it's running things. "Everything in the world gets labeled a name/A box, a rough definition, unaffordable/Who picked the label doesn't want to be responsible/Truth, you're the one who needs the keys to the prison/You create your own box, you don't have to listen/To any of the label makers, printing your obituary" he wearily warns with industry scathe. Before rejoicing and celebrating with us that, "Everyone creating is a member of the family/Passing down genes and ideas in harmony" lyrics that couldn't sign, seal and deliver the meaning of this envelope pushing album further. After a cautionary commercial like opening of fifties sensibilities, 'Everything You've Ever Learned' rocks like its 'Respect Commander follow up as White yearns, "Every single thing about this situation/Says I can't be wrong/And every time she gets her satisfaction/I want her to control me all night long". The sonic song beautiful, but in the heart brutual blues continue with the play to the collection, church organ orchestration of 'What's Done Is Done' following the funky Parliament ode to 'Get In The Mind Shaft'. But it's the timeless, time goes by, last goodbye of 'Humoresque' that at its most beautiful brings this collection to a complete close. White or even the Beatle/Rolling Stone rock and roll genius and king of the modern days closest contemporary have never wrote lyrics as potently poetic or as pure as this, "Over the air, you gently float/Into my soul, you strike a note/Of passion with your melody". In chorus with the heartfelt hook of, "Sunbeams are playing/Flowers and trees are swaying/Captured within your magic spell/If the children are dancing/Lovers are all romancing/Is it any wonder, everyone is singing?" Showing that just like countrys own Hall of Fame's Johnny Cash's 'Forever Words' lyrics and prose, behind ever rock star from the Man in Black to this man of White is a heart and soul, not made of granite, but gratitude. In a divisive already 2018 where we need music to help and heal aswell as point fingers and direction we can't help but be thankful for that Springsteen blue collar like human touch. Something that knows how low our blues can be, but soulfully rocks with us and takes us higher, from a maverick raconteur of a man who has earned his stripes. After all aren't you just as bored with regular music as you would be just staying in the house all day watching that same television? Then this one will reach. TIM DAVID HARVEY.