I made this short film for Polari Magazine from an interview I did with Leee John of Imagination. He talks about his entire career, as well as a new documentary he’s working on chronicling the history of British Black Music. Leee is such a great sport, I love that guy.
One of the most celebrated album releases of any year (it won the Mercury Prize, Uncut Music Award and Ivor Novello album of the year), its combination of complexity and poignancy made it an instant classic, if one can or should talk in such a way.
Less known is the video album made to accompany it, a stunning and cohesive collection of films made for the songs by Seamus Murphy. Murphy, who had impressed Harvey with his exhibition of photographs taken in Afghanistan during the war there, was hired to make the films, despite not being primarily a filmmaker. He travelled round England taking photographs and filming ordinary people (some of whom are asked to read lyrics for the album). Finally he assembled all the footage together with some simple performance footage of Harvey, who sings and plays autoharp live at some points.
The results are beautiful and often incredibly moving: a far cry from the glossy artifice of traditional music videos. For those looking for a more simple and profound connection between music and visuals, I recommend watching the whole set as well as the example above, all of which the peej has thankfully put up on YouTube for you.
JOHN LENNON & YOKO ONO: “UNFINISHED MUSIC NO. 1: TWO VIRGINS” (1968) LED ZEPPELIN: “IN THROUGH THE OUT DOOR” (1979) AFFLICTED MAN “AFFLICTED MAN’S MUSICAL BAG” (1979) THE JAM: “THE GIFT” (1982) PUT A BAG ON IT Putting paper bags … Continue reading →
THE FLAMING LIPS: THE FLAMING LIPS AND HEADY FWENDS
One of the most brilliant ideas for raising money for charity, like, EVER, this limited vinyl release of 10 contained blood samples of many of indie rock’s greatest (and Ke$ha) sloshing around between its grooves and was sold at $2,500 a pop. But don’t listen to me describing it, watch Wayne Coyne instead (above) who will tell you exactly who opened their veins for a good cause.
Wayne can also be seen giving a video ‘walkthrough’ of the less limited (but still limited, mind) coloured vinyl version here, where he talks about other cool facets of the album release.
You can also click here to read my entry on Zaireeka.
Last year I made a film for City University documentinga large scale Iranian Music project, involving the LSO, composer David Bruce, storyteller Sally Pomme Clayton and The Bridge Project – an outreach project giving kids in London instrumental tuition and opportunities to perform. The conclusion of the project was a pair of big orchestral concerts at the Royal Festival Hall, premiering a major new piece of music and attended by local schools.
Click on the image above to watch the documentary on YouTube.
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK: “THE BLACK HOLE” SUCH COSMIC PSYCHEDELIC WALT DISNEY WOW Possibly the most psychedelic idea the Disneybots had come up with since making ‘Alice In Wonderland’, the decision to fill a disc with multi-coloured liquids which would slosh around … Continue reading →
Concept albums, like films, tend to compress time massively. Though music is excellent at conveying inner worlds of dream, memory, emotion and desire, it has a tendency to warp time. The benefit of this is that months, years and even centuries of experience can fit into a single song if composed cleverly enough.
Neil Hannon’s idea for ‘Promenade’ was to tell the story of a day in the life of two lovers. It begins with the female protagonist (never actually heard on the record) in the bath. The day then proceeds through a bicycle hurtle down a hill, a nice seafood lunch, a bit of nooky sheltering from the rain (‘Geronimo’, above) and an existential ferris wheel ride. In the evening, there is a French film in the cinema, a swim in the sea, plenty of ribald drinking in the pub and finally some life reflection before bedtime (bringing on Chagall-esque dreams of flying over the land).
All these vignettes are delivered with the help of a small chamber ensemble, giving a charming intimacy to the unfolding of the day.
We’re still quite some way from a season of ‘24’ though, and Hannon would in any case make an unconvincing Keifer Sutherland. Perhaps one day, someone will make a concept album about life as it happens in real time, dull listen though it would probably turn out to be.
PETER GABRIEL: “PETER GABRIEL” (1977) PETER GABRIEL: “PETER GABRIEL” (1978) PETER GABRIEL: “PETER GABRIEL” (1980) PETER GABRIEL: “PETER GABRIEL” (1982) STUBBORNLY SELF-TITLED The eponymous, or self-titled, album is a special occasion that usually only happens once in your musical life. … Continue reading →
KYLIE MINOGUE: “X – USB EDITION” (2007) THE MUSIC FORMAT THAT TIME FORGOT USB sticks were at one time being considered as a possible successor to CD technology, as their capacity and versatility, not to mention creative possibilities for design, … Continue reading →
The run-up to the release of Beyoncé’s fifth album was so cloak and dagger, it was clear she was going to spring some kind of surprise. 2013 will go down as the year of surprise returns with David Bowie, Justin Timberlake suddenly launching music on a public that had no idea they had even been recording.
Of course, we knew Beyoncé had been recording and it was hardly a surprise that she was preparing an album. The buzz around the Bowie album came from his ten year absence from music, with many having assumed he had retired, or was even dying.
Despite coming late to the surprise party, Beyoncé still scored a double whammy by a) not trailing the album with a single and b) releasing an entire visual album along with the music set (comprising 16 videos – two more than tracks on the album).
From the internet gasping and fawning, you would think she was the first person ever to make a video album (or ‘visual album’ as she chooses to call it). Hardly so, as my posts on Daft Punk, Eurythmics, Soft Cell and iamamiwhoami demonstrate. Beyoncé has even done this herself with the Deluxe Edition of B’Day, back in 2007. To give Beyoncé her dues though, she did capture the popular imagination with the album’s release and sixteen high-end music videos is a huge undertaking by any artist. It’s just perhaps not the innovation that certain quarters of the media make it out to be.
There will be plenty more posts to come on video albums (one of my favourite subjects) so look out for forthcoming entries on Bon Iver, Enigma and others.