Archive for the ‘ Music ’ Category

Less than zero

Now this blog site wasn’t named after the possibility of negative bond yields on core and semi-core Eurozone countries, but now that they’re here, you should read “QE, negative yields and the paradox of thrift”

Or listen to this:


Bob Dylan Plays Kent

Published on, 7th July 2010

‘As great as you are man you’ll never be greater than yourself’

So Dylan sung on ‘High Water’. I guess this sums up the aging Bob Dylan. He is the most iconic figure in popular culture who is still actually alive, and this brings its problems. While other icons become posthumously idolised, ol’ Bobo just trundles on, reminding everyone how good he used to be, and how bad by comparison he is now. This would most probably be the case even if his live shows were actually all right, but, combined with his penchant for massacring his most beloved classics, it wasn’t without some reservations that I headed to Kent to see one of my all-time idols…

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Elvis Costello @ New Theatre, Oxford

Published on, 5th July 2010

Elvis Costello has had to adjust with age. Known for his New Wave snarl, as the years have passed he has changed his tune significantly, working with everyone from Allen Toussaint to the Brodksy Quartet. Therefore, seeing him solo, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Normally he is backed up by a band of some description, be it the Attractions, the Imposters, the Confederates, or any number of other groups, and much of his work seems dependent on his backing. Indeed, one of his stand-out albums, This Year’s Model, is notable for its incredible drumming, basswork, keyboards… in short, everything that Costello didn’t have when he came to the New Theatre.

However, seated among one of the most middle-class audiences of my life, it is clear that Costello knows how to play to his strengths…

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An Evil Empire? Rage’s Christmas Number 1.

Published on 26th December 2009

The battle for Christmas number one this year attracted the most media attention of any such battle since, well, last year’s. But the success of Rage Against the Machine, where the similar Jeff Buckley campaign failed last year, means it will not be as easily forgotten. For, unlike the Buckley campaign, this was not merely a musical complaint. Rather it was a revolt against the corporatism of an industry where artificial pop is served to a powerless population, who finally fought back, complete with Zack de la Rocha’s, urm, uncompromising message.

At first it seemed potentially wrought with hypocrisy; that Cowell and Rage are both under Sony labels is well documented, and when Rage first came out in support I was hardly surprised, as they stood to make a mint out of it. However, they were never the type to betray their principles, and profit has never seemed to motivate them, so when they promised to donate a (albeit indeterminate) ‘large portion of their royalties from the track’ to Shelter, I was reassured. I already knew I much preferred the song, but that wasn’t what had bothered me. It’s just the campaign was accompanied by talk – from the Morters to the band themselves – about the people taking back the charts, and it made me wonder; why do we want these charts…

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35 years since: Blood on the Tracks

Published on, 21st January 2010

‘A lot of people tell me they enjoy that album. It’s hard for me to relate to that. I mean, it, you know, people enjoying the type of pain, you know?’

That is Dylan’s take on this album. It’s true, ‘enjoy’ does seem an odd word to use. But having said that, I would say that it’s his best. Which kind of pain his he talking about? It is possible that he’s talking about Chekov’s short stories, as he maintains. It seems likely that it might be the break-up of his marriage, although this he denies. I won’t speculate too much. Whatever his inspiration, he doesn’t half deal with his subject matter well…

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