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February 26th, 2009 - Papa Bear's Cave [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
David Alexander McDonald (Steven E. McDonald)

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February 26th, 2009

Two ounces of black plastic with a hole in the middle [Feb. 26th, 2009|03:42 am]
David Alexander McDonald (Steven E. McDonald)
Sitting here with Michael Chapman's Millstone Grit (Deram, 1973) playing -- I'm not sure if this has ever been issued on CD (just checked, and it seems there's now a CD import); there's still a fair bit of Chapman's catalogue that isn't on CD as far as I know, and there's very little of it downloadable (some of it is available through eMusic, but it's a smattering of near-recent material.)

For me Chapman has always occupied that rather odd little area into which we can also fit the late John Martyn, as well as the frabjous Mr. Richard Thompson -- their music is a sweeping blend of folk, blues, jazz, and electrical bumjiggery topped by rather weary, booze-and-fag soaked voices. These are the sorts of cheeky chappies one would find tucked into dark little clubs, tiny halls, and student halls at universities across the British Isles and coming eventually to that sort of status that feels like the glass ceiling of the folk-condemned, something that Thompson managed to shove up by a couple of feet but never really break through (Martyn, meanwhile, gave the world "May You Never," which is a smoky bauble in his version but a warbly pop gem in the hands of Linda Lewis, who made it a hit.) Adding to the difficulty in finding a path to breakout for these lads was that it was often hard to get a grip on 'em.

Someone like Eric Clapton could be easily summed up, for all his skill -- excellent guitarist who buggers the corpse of the blues in a predictable and not overly threatening way. Led Zepellin? Also buggering the blues, as well as pillaging rock, and producing a predictable bombastic racket (this isn't about the individual talents, incidentally; it's about marketing as accomplished by the chowderheads of the music industry.) Even Roy Harper, crazy folk mutant that he is, had a fairly predictable place and path, and there was rarely an odd left turn (which is probably why he developed the Led Zepellin and Pink Floyd Connections.)

Now, Richard Thompson had a certain degree of predictability about him, blending folk with rock elements as he would...marketing something like I Want To Shoot The Lights Out Tonight wasn't hard, especially if you wanted to lean on the eyup, Northern eh angles a little bit. Still, for all that, he was always prone to shooting off and working with Philip Pickett on music that involved instruments that sound like someone playing a kazoo in a drainpipe (The Bones Of All Men is a fabulous example of this), and never mind the Ashley Hutchings connection and the wobbling off into dance band music and all the Morris Dance knees-up past your partner in the noggin with a pig bladder stuff (and there we see Pickett at work again, like a mediaevil trickster, casting the spell of the Crumhorn willy-nilly.) Just when people think they have a fix on Richard Thompson, he jumps up and does something so far out in left field that it steps on the toes of the guy over in right field.I'm not sure what the explanation for the Britney Spears covers is, but I bet it's not pretty.

John Martyn, meanwhile, got everyone thinking that he was that angsty lad with the Davy Graham/Bert Jansch thing going for him on guitar, very pretty stuff. Then all of a sudden he's sounding like a man who had his throat Roto-Rootered, the chords and progressions on the old guitar are getting soundly confusing, and then, just as everybody's adjusting to this, he buys half the stock of Echoplex and starts producing these great noisy swathes of sound that bounce around everywhere, and that brings us to Solid Air, an album praised by many at the time of its release and understood by very few -- though electronics freaks and weirdos like me took to it immediately (and we're that crowd that went out and bought Fripp & Eno's No Pussyfooting later, not to mention being gigged by Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, which was an expensive joke on the tweak freaks at RCA's expense.) Martyn eventually moved away from the Echoplex stacks and back to a jazzy singer-songwriter place, but I don't think he regained momentum or ever helped anyone figure out where to fit him in...part of which had to do with his rather stroppy personality.

Michael Chapman has pretty much ended up at the fag-end of his days as a quirky, unreliable bugger playing little pub gigs in odd places, although his talent's not diminished, it seems. He never did manage to make a serious breakout -- I think Millstone Grit was the closest he came -- and it seems there was a period in the 1980s when he really stopped trying much at all, turning out library music and fairly uninspired records. What killed him in the beginning, really, was that he's one of those questing types -- so he could pass through folk, rock, blues, jazz, country and western in the space of a single piece of music, never mind an entire album. He's good at all of it, adept at so many different styles, that it's easy to lose focus and hard for a new listener to gain it.

I'm just glad that Chapman isn't completely obscure, and even more glad that I still have that copy of Millstone Grit (which has been well played over the years) and can once again play it.
Link1 said somethin'|Yeah, I got somethin' ta say

Tweets I have known [Feb. 26th, 2009|04:04 pm]
David Alexander McDonald (Steven E. McDonald)
Twitterings from the past day, served here with crunchy bits:

  • 16:28 @PaulTobin I was thinking more of the Wolverine Method for appearing in 40 different locations at once. Maybe it IS the beer. #
  • 16:32 RT @BRIANMBENDIS: Jackson set for 'Iron Man 2': Film News: Actor signs long-term deal to play Nick Fury tinyurl.com/bkdqyl #
  • 16:33 @PaulTobin Plastic Man and The Atom. #
  • 16:36 It's warm, I'm underpowered, and I feel like sitting on the porch and sipping ice tea. #
  • 16:53 Alright, you lot, time to start pitching and retweeting and seeing if you can get me over the 200 follower hump...! SET TO, YOIKS! #
  • 17:56 @michaelianblack Forget @wilw, too well defended. Go after @warrenellis instead. He's crusty, old, and uses a cane. #LeWar #
  • 17:57 @levarburton #LeWar Dionne Warwick says don't do it. TRACK OF THE CAT DUDE, TRACK OF THE CAT! #
  • 18:03 RT @stephenfry: ... a testicle snuggled in each armpit vowing never to descend again: "that's twice and both times a disaster" ... #
  • 18:06 @stephenfry Good lord, yes; heavy denim, I hope, with scorpion-stomper boots on your feet. No snake encounters, eh? #
  • 18:07 @stephenfry "How to make a mule go. First, take a two by four and bash the critter. This is to get their attention, otherwise ungiven." #
  • 18:08 @stephenfry You will be stiff, sore, headachy and likely whiny. All in a day's work in what you're doing. #
  • 18:30 @rfrancis @michaelianblack is mad enough to defeat them all in this #LeWar offshoot. #
  • 18:38 @WildStorm Kristy -- goood to hear you made the choice. PROMETHEA engaged fun parts of my brain and is gorgeous to look at. #
  • 18:54 @agent_m Dear goddess, I need medication...I just came up with a crossover that could only be called MODUCK.... #
  • 18:59 @TopCow Better than hands-free? Weapons free! #
  • 19:07 Presently listening: Blanche Winogron, THE FITZWILLIAM VIRGINAL BOOK (Dover Records, 1966) on LP #
  • 19:18 @michaelianblack #LeWar *charges in with six hundred on horseback, sows incomprehension, departs equally swiftly* For I am an Englishman! #
  • 20:28 @michaelianblack Well, poo. Wimps. #LeWar #
  • 20:35 Playing: FAREWELL, MY LOVELY, music by David Shire (Liberty, 1975, from vinyl) #
  • 20:53 @Idjd you're sleepy because you've exhausted yourself with wild bursts of Tweeting. It's tweethargy! #
  • 20:58 @Idjd Well, in that case it's because @agent_m slipped you a mickey. #
  • 21:01 Playing: Goldmark - Rustic Wedding Symphony, Op. 26, Orch. of the Vienna State Opera cond. Swoboda (MMS, 1955, 10" album) #
  • 21:28 @jimlee00 I only MySpace when I need my IQ to be sucked out through my left nostril. #
  • 21:43 Playing: Michael Chapman - Millstone Grit (Deram, 1973, from vinyl) Been a while since I listened to this, a long-time favorite. #
  • 22:00 @jimlee00 Clicking all those adds is why you have assistants, sir. THEY get the click-sickness instead! Then you shoot them and hire f ... #
  • 00:13 Playing: Lost - "The Life And Death Of Jeremy Bentham" More merry weirdness. #
  • 01:31 @bobbyllew So you wouldn't be up for being put in a gimp mask and chained in my dungeon? #
  • 01:34 @John_Lithgow No idea if I'm cool, but I'm (lifeline one) Steven E. McDonald, poet, novelist, screenwriter, ex-Englishman...and... #
  • 01:35 @John_Lithgow ...in lifeline 2 I'm David Alexander McDonald, composer, voice actor and audio director. Curmudgeon in both. #
  • 01:39 @xenijardin We should be able to get @tdolby2001 up to 100k followers pretty sharpish, eh? #
  • 01:41 @BrentSpiner It was all aimed at @levarburton by the evil @michaelianblack -- you're safe....maybe. #
  • 01:43 @Live_for_Films Apparently @John_Lithgow thinks all his followers are cool rather than realizing they're all crazy stalkers.... #
  • 01:44 Two Arizona cable providers busted for swiping and feeding satellite feeds. twurl.nl/cdxd7b #
  • 01:53 Playing: Life - Sarah Shahi's sidelining starts...and here's *another* Erick Avari appearance. He's amusing. #
  • 01:54 @andydiggle I'm keeping the Facebook but the MySpace is just a place to put my music, and I have much better these days. #
  • 01:57 @bobbyllew At home asleep, having gotten the memo about the later start time that you two didn't get. (It *does* happen. Heh.) #
  • 03:07 Now playing: Bill Nelson - "Getting The Holy Ghost Across" (Portrait, 1986, vinyl) Had the diluted US version as well (On A Blue Wing.) #
  • 04:05 Now playing: Brecht/Weill - Die Dreigroschenoper (Columbia, 1958 complete recording supervised by Lotte Lenya; vinyl) Act I #
  • 04:13 New blog waffle: "Two Ounces Of Black Plastic With A Hole In The Middle" - twurl.nl/tst7ca I'm off to bed, chums. #
  • 12:23 @jensaltmann It's a nifty edition isn't it? #
  • 13:10 Now playing: CSI: Justice League, in which Mac's coffee is keeping an eye on him. #
  • 13:42 Comics folks, if you want to send me things for possible review in either venue, ask me for a mailing address; I'm always open. #
  • 13:53 @Templesmith 'Ey, poodle-molesting boy - nice work from you, @LeahMoore and @JohnReppion this week. #
  • 13:53 @sispurrier @Templesmith - actually, they could make Total Recall better by dint of not having Arnie in the lead. Nah, it'll suck. #
  • 13:54 @rfrancis I sometimes shut down TweetDeck when I go to bed, and just go from where it is when I restart in the morning. Easier. #
  • 13:56 @Agent_M It's easier to clothesline running zombies. #zombietalk #
  • 13:57 @CBCebulski Re: writer samples vs artist samples...too true, aht, especially with the diversity of scripting styles. #
  • 14:07 @Chozzles So essentially the odds are almost impossibly stacked against writers in the first place. So why bother? #
  • 14:28 @rfrancis @wilw I think my favorite three, shifting according to whim, are Obscured By Clouds, Meddle, Ummagumma. #
  • 14:29 @Templesmith I follow you because of the implied rudeness to poodles, not the baby-eating, which has become so passe. #
  • 14:31 @Avatarpress I liked the Tmplesmith/Moore/Reppion DOCTOR WHO: THE WHISPERING GALLERY, nice done-in-one. #
  • 14:34 @blinkie @hapes @rfrancis In Ireland they're pretty much A Terror Of Nuns when traveling in packs. #
  • 14:38 Bloody hell. Head hurting, shoulder hurting, aches, stress exhaustion and general physical malaise. Trying to do things, none too well. #
  • 14:41 @rfrancis Raarrrrr, you kids get offa my lawn!!! Y'are, though. #
  • 14:43 @Chozzles My two driving wheels all my life have been writing and composition. I've kicked in many doors and paid a lot of dues. #
  • 14:45 @Chozzles What I'm hearing here, though, is, "We don't really care how good you are or what you're capable of doing. Only artists count." #
  • 14:45 @rfrancis I have twelve years on ya then. #
  • 14:46 @sfpanda Actually, I like The Division Bell. Gilmour's not as good at being catty to Waters as the inverse, though. #
  • 14:51 @rfrancis I like bits of The Final Cut, but it's really a Roger Waters solo album. I think he's the only PF member on "Two Suns" at the end. #
  • 14:52 @blinkie I'm just a stranger in a strange mind! #
  • 14:55 Now Playing: Man - "Slow Motion" (United Artists, 1974, from vinyl) - a denser sound for this one, with more bottom, but not their best. #
  • 14:59 @blinkie You do? If you know who I am, you know more than I do! I'm still trying to find myself (& shocked I could lose something so big.) #
  • 15:26 @Chozzles I would think production pace has a lot to do with it too. 1 writer can generate X # of scripts a month. Artists? 1-2 pages a day? #
  • 15:28 @Chozzles But I do see a fundamental flaw: in a complete piece, the *artists* storytelling/pacing is front and center, not the writers. #
  • 15:29 @Chozzles So judgment would be better based on script-to-finish comparison, see how well the writer got it across. Means judging script. #
  • 15:29 @Chozzles And as my comments compress more and more I find myself going "Hurm." #
  • 15:31 @evandorkin The Last Dangerous Visions is Ellison's "The Portrait Of Dorian Gray" you know. #
  • 15:45 Now Playing: Manos Hadjidakis - Never On A Sunday OST (Liberty, 1965, 1983 vinyl pressing from Discos Belter, Spain.) #
  • 15:47 @eliopoulos Compatibility? Can you do a rollback? #
More tomorrow, same tweet time, same tweet channel!

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