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blog of funk

Blessed be the funky. And the unfunky, they too shall be blessed. Just less funky.

Quincy Jones, Jacob Collier

Posted on February 8th .

I read this excellent and frank interview with Quincy Jones, which has startled a few. Some questioned the veracity of some of this answers but it all rings true to me. A long time Quincy fan, since I heard his beautiful arrangements on Paul Simon’s 1973 album ‘There Goes Rhymin’ Simon’ – I particularly love ‘American Tune’ – he has by now become one of music’s unabashed greats.

Favourite quote:

Is there innovation happening in modern pop music?
Hell no. It’s just loops, beats, rhymes and hooks. What is there for me to learn from that? There ain’t no fucking songs. The song is the power; the singer is the messenger. The greatest singer in the world cannot save a bad song. I learned that 50 years ago, and it’s the single greatest lesson I ever learned as a producer. If you don’t have a great song, it doesn’t matter what else you put around it.

Still discoveries proliferate. In 2016 the BBC staged a prom concert as a tribute to the man, and that is where I chanced upon Jacob Collier, a beautiful talent who Quincy picked up early and produced.

The first time I heard this, the hairs on my neck went up, and my eyes filled with tears. Not for sadness, but for beauty. I couldn’t even begin to grasp what the music was doing, how it was formed, as its immediate effect was overwhelming. If you aren’t particularly romantic, or a lover of jazz and soul, it may leave you cold. But if you do appreciate jazz, soul, and great musical talent, and you don’t yet know this song, ‘In The Real Early Morning’, prepare to be astounded.

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Rebel Rebel

Posted on February 5th .

Bowie’s fabulous song, Rebel Rebel. What a performance, what a song, what a recording. Just wonderful.


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Do you remember the old times?

Posted on February 7th .

A song called “Old”. I’ve coined a new musical genre, as you do, for this song – Plantagenet. It seemed both timely with the rescuing of Richard III from his carpark grave in Leicester and appropriate for this muse on mortality. The sounds of the clock chiming and the dog are from my childhood home.

The line “Old, I don’t wanna be, lying awake scared of burglary” sometimes gets misheard as “scared of buggery”.

I don’t mind this addition of sexual paranoia, though it wasn’t intended. The listener’s mind completes the work.

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Just Like London Buses

Posted on February 4th .

m b v - My Bloody ValentineJust Like London Buses, you wait a couple of decades and then two come along at once. My Bloody Valentine are by no means the most hasty of bands, with a twenty year lay off in their release schedule, but as if by magic they have produced and released a new album, tantalisingly entitled m b v.

They must be miffed though – Bowie nipped in there and stole the WOW moment for ancient acts making a comeback in January. I predict by the year’s end there will be a baker’s dozen of such miraculous events, possibly even a new Elvis Presley album.

Here it is in a slightly hobbled try-before-you-buy format.

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David Bowie’s Birthday

Posted on January 24th .

I still can’t believe what David Bowie did on the 8th January 2013. Take a decade off for good behaviour, then show up unexpectedly and place the question “Where are we now?” into everyone’s consciousness. After so long a silence it is quite a remarkable achievement. Shut up for ten years, record a secret album, release new song on 66th birthday suprising everyone and entering top ten charts everywhere. Classy.

It wasn’t just the audacity and the coolness of the carefully maintained anti-hype which made it such a great event. It’s a very intelligent choice, to come in quietly. A nostalgic, observational song it’s a surprising choice of comeback but a good one, which catches the seriousness of these entropic times perfectly.

That Bowie scored a hit is no surprise. An intelligent man who has known and worked with highly creative people in many fields all his life, his early success could have been a one-hit wonder – he worked hard to get the audience he has. Tony Oursler’s video is a huge part of this. But by producing a complex meditative piece, a personal retrospective with a plaintive, questioning chorus, a lyric full of Berlin place-names sung in a sometimes frail voice, he makes an artistic statement which is typical Bowie, pleases fans everywhere and adds a few million more, no doubt.

If Bowie has genius it’s as much in his reading of the times we inhabit. The new song’s observant, nostalgic mood is a perfect foil for all the noisy self-assertion out there. Bang on for this historical moment, unrest everywhere, civil wars, bullets and bombs, it’s sympathetic to the mood of now. Berlin was a city under siege when Bowie lived there, with a free and bomenian culture. In the din of the endless regurgitated pop music machine, it stands out as an original as it catches a general mood. There’s a brand new dance, but I don’t know it’s name.

Having heard the question I can’t wait for the album, which is supposed to be full of variety and quite rocky. Perhaps that’s another subterfuge. Anyway, he got everyone’s attention most beautifully.

To quote another English poet from south London, the artist William Blake,

“The imagination is not a State: it is the Human existence itself.”

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