Musical Tuesday – Epics

Well, better late than never!

I’ve been really busy this week – I reinstalled Civilization III and have been conquering the world as the glorious Persians. So much more important than blogging commitments I’m sure you’ll agree.

In any case, this week I’ve decided to focus on two songs that can only be described as epic. Or possibly far too long. Long, epic songs that almost approach prog-rock in their sheer lengthy indulgence.

We’ll start with another from Sheffield movers and shakers of the 90’s, Pulp. Wickerman (from their last album, 2001’s We Love Life) is a phantasmagorical tour of the Steel City and its surrounds with Jarvis Cocker as your guide. Let him show you the hidden rivers that run below the streets, the viaduct that drunks used to jump off and the pressed in plastic letters at the cafe at Forge Dam. Feel the regret and try to track down the sample taken from the soundtrack of classic British horror movie The Wicker Man – I’m assured it’s in there somewhere.

If you’re thinking that the whole thing sounds like poetry, you can hear it as such too.

If eight minutes of Jarvis Cocker isn’t enough music for you, please carry on to our second song, Dire Straits’ Telegraph Road. Taken from 1982’s Love Over Gold it clocks in at an almost unbelievable 14 minutes 18 seconds. It’s not in bad company either, the entire album only has five songs on it, the shortest of which goes for over five minutes.

The interior album art shows a snuffed out cigarette in front of an Amstrad PCW 8256 – which is what a lot of the album sounds like – a dim, smoke filled room at 3:00 in the morning with grit in your eyes and only a monotone cathode-ray tube for company. The recording process got so grim in fact that the band had to cut loose and compose Twisting by the Pool just to stop themselves going mental. But the end result is regarded as one of their best, and Telegraph Road is the crowning glory of the album.

It’s a winding story that starts with the history and development of a town, then meanders off into bleak 1980s post-industrial collapse, which merges into relationship collapse, then wanders into a rocking five minute guitar playout. If this wasn’t enough to make it an epic song, it was also first performed live in my home city of Perth. So there!

Here it is, see you in a quarter hour…

Tune in next week when I may actually be on time for once! 😀

30 Years and No Regrets

It’s 30 years since the release of first ever commercially available CD – a reissue of Billy Joel’s 52nd Street, which went on sale on October 1 1982.

The first CD I ever bought was the single of You Am I’s Soldiers.

The first full album was Dire Straits’ On Every Street.

I stand by both purchases.

Straits of Canada

See the small person I don’t like wearing jewellery and makeup.

Reading my feeds this morning I stumbled over the news that a regulatory body in Canada has banned Dire Strait’s Money for Nothing from the airwaves for reasons of being offensive.

My initial reaction was “WHAAA?”, however on reading the article this was revised to “Oh, yeah – that bit”. The problem is of course the third verse – not one of Mark Knopfler’s best moments – where the song repeatedly uses a rather nasty pejorative. Someone complained – quite justifiably in my opinion – and away we go.

There seems to be a lot of outrage floating around over the decision, but personally it doesn’t bother me that much. I’m as big a Dire Straits fan as the next guy (assuming the next guy is also tragically out of step with modern music) but the verse really is in rather poor taste. More importantly there’ve been versions of the song without the offending verse available ever since it was released – as long as these versions are still allowed on the radio, what does it matter? You don’t listen to Money for Nothing for the words, you listen for the durn-d-d-d-duuuurn! durn-durn-durn – durrrrrrn-durn! d-durn-durn-durn! d-d! (and for Mr Sting wailing about MTV).

The people who complain about this sort of thing are typically the ones who want to keep on using the offensive terms in question. They hide behind a facade of second-person artistic integrity, but fundamentally they want to keep the word ‘faggot’ in the song because they want to keep calling gay people – or simply anyone they don’t like – faggots. The idea that their apparently God given right to hate and belittle others is under threat is what upsets them – not that a song from 30 bloody years ago will now have to be played in slightly modified form.

Sheeze. You might as well complain about not being allowed to sing that verse from Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport.