All blogs of whatever shape and form be it earnest fan wank splurges, car boot arrays of old tat and faded schmutter or supine schmaltz (check out RIP Mum to see why Cilla Black is tanning her hair in preparation for a comeback) or those purveying nuggets of nourishment for the more occupied browser (like this blog of course dear reader) rely on casual copyright infringement of some sort.

When it comes to copyright theft, we’re all giddy looters strolling out of Curry’s with a flat screen and a Phillips Senseo on judgment day. Tracks, pictures or whatever are fenced through the blogs and generally it really encourages and supports the creative industries as people exposed to the goodies then reach into their pockets. One of the last sentences is a joke.

However, at least some blogs offer up what is not generally accessible and not just a copy of Mamma Mia filmed in Jakarta by a St Vitus Dance sufferer with a weak bladder. So, weak justification out of the way and until the content providers put in place worldwide licensing agreements we’ll have to turn a blind eye to situations like the following. One of the last sentences is a joke.

Not many people post lyrics or poetry or some sort of beautiful collection of words which were strung together with care that flake off the emotional veneer that coats us. That’s why I present below the lyrics to a later Ian Dury song, You’re The Why. It was recorded by Robbie Williams and it’s a rare occasion where listening to the actual song completely ruins the underlying composition. Williams does what he does and that’s all you need to know.

Now read this until I return with something a bit more thought out and finished because if this makes you sit down and think about life and perhaps some love, lost, won, indifferent or unspoken and smile then that’s as good as any smart remarks in a world where being professionally chippy is what passes for engagement.

I shuffled through the modes of bad behaviour
And hankered for the desolated dawn
I couldn’t cope with yet another saviour
To steer me from the way that I was born

Then like a ton of bricks the dawn descended
Recalcitrance was hurtled to the floor
The citadel lay breached and undefended
You brought a love I’d never known before

I’ll want you till the seasons lose their mystery
I’ll need you till the birds forget to fly
I’ll love you more than anyone in history
Wherever there’s a wherefore you’re the why

I shuffled through the modes of bad behaviour
And hankered for the desolated dawn
I couldn’t cope with yet another saviour
To steer me from the way that I was born

Then like a ton of bricks the dawn descended
Recalcitrance was hurtled to the floor
The citadel lay breached and undefended
You brought a love I’d never known before

I’ll want you till the seasons lose their mystery
I’ll need you till the birds forget to fly
I’ll love you more than anyone in history
Wherever there’s a wherefore you’re the why

[Adam Khan]

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Like everyone this week I have constantly asked myself “what would the Red Hot Chilli Peppers have done in this situation?” and then done the complete opposite. Tiresome propulsive bass lines have been banished, lengthy trousers sported and all sports or any physical activities that would play out like a Pepsi-max advert for virgins have been gratefully dismissed. It’s been pretty enlightening as I’ve realised that George Clinton is actually pretty shit and I have stayed away from any friends who may be dealing with some sort of drug issues fearing for my life that a mawkish ballad that “meant loads to me dude” was nearby.

Drug abuse is pretty passé and in the world of nightlife has become as much small talk as the weather is for the day time grapple between people who work with (hate) each other (writes Melanie Phillips). It’s socially acceptable to droll out a litany of your chemical intake and imbalances because that is the same as announcing “it’s humid but not close which is nice”. Recall each time you announced how (insert Danny Dyer adjective) you were and let the oozing realisation of what a sad state of affairs you are overcome you. Like many of us our measurement of what a good time equates to is when we were so metaphysically cocooned that we could not relate to or comprehend friends, physical objects, concepts of time or the tail of toilet paper wrapped around your legs on Burnt Oak Station platform. Own up we’ve ALL been there!!! Shit I’m writing Michael Macintyre jokes (a man still getting mileage out of pulling a face and saying the word “hob nob” repeatedly (in different accents – each one remarkably like that of a prize cunt) until everyone scratches the blood from their ears praying for silence). You might as well have been locked in a box with sherbet dib dabs poured into every hole until congealed and congregated in your gut the fizzing sugar paste explodes an internal vomiting wave coating your digestive system. And for what? What joy and nirvana has this plethora of ambrosia blocked our senses to? Why are we drug rich, spiritually poor? What have we missed? Jesus? Some Roy Ayres album we were bothered about for 4 minutes in 1993? The notion that House music is more relevant than Bobby Brown (play New Edition and Don’t Be Cruel back to back and then throw your Nu-Groove Collection into Banardos)? No, none of the former but the love of the genius of Neil Sedaka and his joy.

What a digression! But without it, best beloved, you would believe my eyebrows so arched that they are holding up my forehead. No I’ve not come to the guilty pleasures orgy party late, chap hanging out to find the last of the ironic man secretions has already been cleaned off the warm body of what “is really cool this week in ES magazine.” I speak with a total love of all things Neil. The man is a colossus and perhaps only for a handful of songs. Coupled with a voice that has retained a pureness of tone through decades that is delicious light and as gay as cotton candy made into my little ponies but stitched together with joy plus a joyful bitchyness on any youtube duet he’s doing (a shameless scene stealer). He was on the One Show this week, sullied by that Happy Shopper experience no doubt but still holding his end up knowing full well that every trend of cool sprouting from the 20 century and beyond, riding the waves of those totemic values of black, gay and Jewish which underpins all that is great streams forth from that smile, that comb over and his songs. In part II we shall examine Neil in detais, how he helped make “Heart of the Congos”, his relationship to Sir Victor Uwaifo, the essence of joy and looked in to the internet lie that Jerusalem was written by a prophetic William Blake told by the angels that Neil plays the Royal Albert Hall on 30th June. Any postcards describing Neil as cheesy, corny or old showbiz will be forwarded to the Test Pressing Thought Crimes Department who are already far too busy trying to work out when Level 42 officially became shit (“but shep petting-zoo did a mix of “Running In The Family”..).

TO BE CONTINUED…

[Adam Khan]

Adam’s back and with spring arriving he’s brought some bossa nova…

Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim (1967)

There are three truly great Frank Sinatra albums. Rockists are well aware of the first, “Songs For Swinging Lovers” (it’s no. 205 in Q magazine’s songs that “Jeremy Clarkson reads Mein Kampf too”). Friends we shall discuss that fine record again when we get to overlooked techno meisterwerks part 4. Trust me the horns pummel and stab like Derrick May’s fat fingers on his Korg whatzitmecalledit and the banter infects every Pet Shop Boys song of note.

The maudlin massive are steeped in the second “In the Wee Small Hours”. A record which foresees Burial’s “ Untrue” by five decades and distils the self loathing and minor key menace of every vital headphones only experience but which is notably absent from every big chill happy clap-a-thon chill-out-in-a-basket session. The third and the reason why we are gathered here today tugging our cufflinks, allowing only a glimpse of a slither of sleeve, is because we are here to honour the understated majesty of Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim.

In 1967 whilst twenty people were expanding/losing their minds whilst casting aside all strictures of the square society (other than the requirements of their trust funds), Frank Sinatra entered the studio with Antonio Carlos Jobim and ran through the Brazilian sugar spun songbook and three other American standards in two days.

From the assured take on “The Girl From Ipanema” and over the course of some 28 minutes, orchestras swell and trickle like empty breaths as the most lovesick horn section ever sounds a heartbroken clarion. In the pocket of this delicate backdrop, the master of songs, at his least refreshed but at his most tender, sings songs of romance rebuffed, rejected and unrequited (the same pain three times). This is no bar room croon but a shimmering interplay of music and voice that creates the lush jungle evening in your room like “Where The Wild Things Are”.

The majority of the songs are the pledges of an overlooked lover. At his age Frank’s voice was heart weary, he’s been through it all and he knows better than to feel this way about a dame. Balanced against the aged swinger are the words of Anton Carlos Jobim which try to rekindle the lost loves. Frank’s love at the time Mia Farrow was soon to slip off to become the mother of a demon in Rosemary’s baby. We could read into this but I’m sure this recording was another gig.

Getting down to the nitty gritty, the highlights for me are Frank at his most tender with the orchestra roaming behind him on “Dhindi” and “ Quiet Nights”. In “Dhindi” the most sublime moments occur when the music drops to a delicate brush leaving Frank almost unaccompanied comparing himself “to a river that can’t find the sea”. The effect is repeated on “Quiet Nights” where Frank’s cry of solitude “the meaning of existence, my love” ends with a single muted trumpet’s lament, a riff repeated throughout the song.

At points, Antonio Carlos Jobim actually joins in a couple of songs adding some low key touches which should push this record into the hands of all those who skin up to “Solid Air”. The pairing is most notable on “How Insensitive” and in fact it’s not a duet but an intervention because Frank’s in trouble, the heart ache is too much and his friend has to carry the weight.

Bossa nova has always been shot through with uplifting melancholia, a beautiful sadness, saudade, and this seeps and spills over this record.

[Adam Khan]

Adam’s back, and this time he’s aiming his sights firmly at those lovely message boards we all can’t help reading.

10 Ways To Start A Fight On A Music Forum.

1. On a dance board have a user name which involves the words ‘DJ’. ”Funk’ Funky’, ‘The Funkanator’, ‘Funk You For The Music The Songs You’re Playing’ or ‘Kool Bones Frankie Bones’. On a rock board refer to yourself as ‘Sir Rocks A Lot’, ‘Rockarolla’, The Rockanator’ or ‘Cliff Richards’. On Latin boards call yourself ‘Mr Big Bongos’ or ‘You Wouldn’t Believe The Size Of My Bongos’. On a jazz board call yourself ‘Modal Mover’, ‘Pyramid Scientist (nu-jazz lover)’ or ‘Eton educated, for gods sake mum hide the green wellies, we‘re living on the front line here (Sanderstead) listening to Tabitha’s Alice Coltrane triangle solo’ etc…

2. Find out who is the godhead artist or DJ which the message board is built around and announce how they’re not as good as they were. In fact ‘back in the day no one thought they were much cop’.

3. Slag off a radio DJ that specialises in the genre loved by the board or a Heat Celebrity – pick a side first. Are you ‘they are brilliant and really nice in person (I’ve met them loads) and suffer media intrusion’ or ‘culture-sucking vortex piece of shit’.

4. Indicate your support for the Palestinians. Nothing sorts out a complex international quagmire than 30 people whose knowledge stretches to what they’ve heard in a pub, what they remember from a sixth form general studies lesson, or through a friend of a friend who knows someone in Amnesty. You’ll be amazed at how many people who are bang into fidgit house but have never ever posted before, run down some pretty comprehensive pro-Israeli talking points (‘but of course I’m only here to talk about the latest Dubsided release’).

5. Get some key facts about the musical genre the board is all about – wrong. For example, ‘Herman’s Hermit’s owned the States well before the Stones and were mates with Muddy Waters’, ‘Tony De Vit bit his style from Eddie Halliwell’, ‘Balearic started off in Leeds in 1990 at the Shaven Monkey club – I should you know as I was the muppet playing Matt Bianco extended mixes!!!!?!! (lots of laughing emoticons)’.

6. Indicate that Margaret Thatch was not all bad – ‘When Sade sang about the sweetest taboo she wasn’t talking about getting it up the laundry chute but fondly remembering the milk snatcher’.

7. Talk about ‘chicks’. Mention that the old love life is not going to good with vague implications that you don’t understand women but hey does anyone? Use an emoticon of a pacman stabbing a female pacman then an emoticon which is winking. If irate female posters (all three of them) get really stressed just edit their posted responses so they all start, ‘As a woman….’.

8. Big up a track that has never come out and never will cos you made it up and stick Henrik Schwartz’s name behind it as one of his early spec mixes.

9. Indicate that your take on things ‘back in the day’ is VERY different to what people with lots of posts think.

10. If on a UK board, stick up for a region fanatically and include its musical output. Don’t pick the South West as no one gives a monkeys.

[Adam Khan]

Our mate Adam Khan likes a rant. So much so that we invited him on board at Test Pressing to let him rant in public. He can rant about anything so look out for more coming your way. In the cross hairs today are bands muddying the waters and Giles Peterson. Duck and cover.

As you are reading this chances are you are part of the enlightened few whose tastes in music are catholic and meandering. When asked what your favourite music is you probably shrug your shoulders and answer uneasily because your choices, ‘Err, downtempo music, krautrock, Stevie Wonder, Moodyman, early Cure, Brazilian, dub, electronica’ (although saying the word ‘electronica is like drinking vinegar) make you sound like a liberal democrat architect. You can’t easily convey the breath and enthusiasm for different sounds that a love of dance music in all its forms (not just the current form smeared with white jeans, parched eyes, 80s haircuts and let’s all move to Berlin can do) has opened your ears too.

Lined-up against this is the rockist attitude. A Calvinistic strain present in those unhappy many listening to the internal monologue of plodding drive time Virgin Radio and the monthly Coldplay marathon. Rockism is the ultimate genre specialism, rock without the roll, or any discernible blackness (right on Norman). Current symptoms, a love of bands not any bands but BRITS nominated “bands” and routinely a firing four piece.

Four people together is an unhappy car trip or a crap party, not the musical equivalent of prime numbers. This is a farmers market of, insipid, clueless wonders caked in shit. Q magazine cover stars – The Killers, Muse, U2, Coldplay, Keane, Kings Of Leon – we’ve all heard Jeff Buckley but you and I didn’t go off and write anthems of personal insufficiency about a French exchange that went wrong (‘Oh Didier why hast thou forsaken me’). Bands who don’t just take the moral high ground but built a fucking tax dodging, sanctimonious, carbon free palace on top of it.

Rockist attitude is like IBS. Latent until some stressful event triggers full combustion, i.e. visiting the Virgin Music festival AND being disappointed that KT Tunstall has cancelled because she’s taking lessons from Annie Lennox on how to exist as a twat.

So why care? Because rockism is pervasive and everything culturally is viewed through this monocle of mediocrity and half-cut power ballad. Rockist journalists peddle the “no personalities or opinions” of dance music or the gaudy materialism of black music or flippancy of pop as a catch all rejection, whilst wondering aloud how the Kooks can follow their last opus ‘Jammin’ on a groove and shit’. It’s got to be U2 or speak and spell Radiohead, everything else is contemptible.

The musical wing of rockism is just headline dog whistles. At the kernel is an innate conservatism, a distrust of the other and a passive acceptance of join the dots culture. Actually while here, when Giles Peterson bangs on about joining the dots does he realise that most join the dots pictures are actually blindingly obvious pictures of parrots or pirate ships? Well they were last time I looked at my four year old’s colouring book. What colouring book has Gilles got? One that was produced by Jazzafuckingnova that’s what.

Anyway, after trashing Michael Howard for ‘having something of the night about him’ (i.e. please insert your own form of bigotry), Anne Widdicombe went off to see Embrace supported by Starsailor at the Forum. Even she was disappointed by the sexless atmosphere.

This rockist attitude shows a lack of passion and no real enthusiasm for anything other than a dirge. Some lacklustre criticism from rockist journalists has landed on “landfill indie” as the cancer eating our souls, but that lets too many off the hook and we shall come for them later. We all know that every time Neil Young appears on a magazine cover an angel dies.

So what’s it got to do with me? Well the upshot of this is that we must celebrate our different-ness, the many paths in music and culture, reject press pack collusion, embrace our love of immigration even if this means Somalian pirates washing your car window at Staples Corner, mourn the death of John Martyn, 1000% tax on Paul Weller, or sit on the sidelines making rude gestures.

[Adam Khan]

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