Friday, 18 December 2009

'All values are obliterated'

Whilst Half Man Half Biscuit's christmas song would clearly be a subtler rebuff to this man and his stranglehood over the 'xmas market', that is obviously not going to happen.* However, the rage of so many is understandable; particularly in the context of the self-important BBC interview Cowell made - pushing his future political prospects - and this:

The prospect is raised of a Cameron-Cowell Britain; unsurprising, terrifying, ideologically wedded in their non-ideology. Would it really surprise anyone if a potential PM Cameron asked Cowell to be a sort of minister without portfolio (or indeed democratic mandate beyond his TV audience)? A ghastly scenario, but clearly in keeping with Cameron's Carlton Man status.

* RATM as choice for this campaign; a bandwagon misguided in its 'real music' rhetoric, its lack of interest in positively reclaiming pop from Cowell and the carefully overlooked fact that 'Killing in the Name' shares its record label with the X Factor release. A 17-year-old RATM song will not change anything, however radical some of the sentiments. If it makes #1 it will be a fingers-up at Cowell (not a bad thing in itself of course) and the X Factor audience but it will not fundamentally change things. It has even enabled Cowell to - with some gall - call it a cynical stunt. Better rallying points? If it has to be something old, let us embrace something like Kevin Ayers's 'Hymn'; or indeed something from 2009, Hawley's 'Open Up Your Door', for instance (or - blasphemously! - something of non-US/UK origin!).

Morley is just talking on Newsnight Review about people collectively waking up in the last two years. This has been reflected in an initially strong year for pop, with Dizzee Rascal, David Guetta, even Michael Gove-favourite Lily Allen, making music that undeniably connects with these times and with people's lives. I just wish this early blaze of great pop could have gone further (and hope the likes of Little Boots will develop in the Abba/PSB tradition in time). I quite agree with the frustration of Robin Carmody as to the contradictory impulses; pop artists have seen the problem all too clearly - 'Dirtee Cash', all-crushing consumerism - but will not, cannot make a clean break from this and propose a new way of being.

Things = the fact that 19 million watched, and presumably a percentage of them share Cowell's vision of 'music' / 'entertainment' / 'democracy'.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Let out your troubles from the old kit bag...

More 1968:

The Zombies, 'Butcher's Tale (Western Front 1914)'. A pop requiem for WW1; so much more brevity and subtlety than Pink Floyd's cudgelling 'Corporal Clegg', from the same year.

The Legendary Pink Dots start here; play this in league with 'Poppy Day' and shudder anew. Can't help but think of the footman-turned-squaddie Edward Barnes in the fourth and finest series of Upstairs, Downstairs...

Richard Todd

A figure from a different age, clearly; I was indeed surprised to find that he had still been alive when hearing of this news just now on Channel 4.

My main memory of him is for his fine performance as Sanders in the 1982 Dr Who story, Kinda, playing almost a simulacrum of the British martinet, a deluded old buffer whose mind is opened, or lost, depending on one's view. This stalwart British actor and WW2 veteran cast into a post-punk hall of mirrors; it is not for nothing that many claimed it could have been written by Kate Bush. As haunting as Sapphire and Steel in that scene of Tegan in the void, even a dodgy realisation of the Mara snake cannot mar the effect - even adds to this very British, low-rent avant-gardism. An avant-garde serial watched by 9 million, lest it be forgotten.

Can anyone recommend other Todd roles worth seeing? I have seen next to none of his films.