And so the story goes they wore the clothes

Sometimes things happen for a reason. You go searching for something and find a different thing, or you go searching for one thing and find seven.

The great vinyl gods looked down and decreed that the search for a decent copy of Hunky Dory would not be in vain and fortuitously a great trove of Bowie would be discovered.

bowie In the shape of seven somewhat tatty covered but excellent condition vinyl Bowie albums. Not only seven albums but seven of the albums you would actually want including the elusive Hunky Dory that I watched go on eBay the day before for almost $70. This all cost the princely sum of $55.

Some of them look their age, some splits on seams and ring marks and a little worn on the edges but the vinyl is in great shape, quiet and clear.

So here I sit reliving that day in 1977 when cousin Tony placed that album on the turntable and made me listen to Hunky Dory all the way through without speaking.He then insisted I describe the experience in one word, as usual I didn’t really have anything to say.

Since that day I have managed to make Bowie one of the few artists I can say I have taken the time to listen to everything, yes even Tin Machine, when it came out. Sometimes frustrating, infuriating but always relevant Bowie has been with me, at times a secret but always there in the background swaggering and swaying as I struggled to make sense of the world and relationships and politics and life, he has not always been helpful either.

It has also added to that perennial favorite drunken argument who is more relevant Bowie or Morrison.

The correct answer being Bowie, although someone once threw me for a curve with Barrett.

Now I am off to start the listening as everything is now clean.

Choose Your Masques

More tickets bought, this time for the Flaming Lips.

The great gig list so far:

  • The Flaming Lips
  • Fairport’s Cropredy Convention including the likes of Fairport Convention, The Levellers. 10cc and of course many others.
  • Neil Young in Liverpool with Ian McNabb and Band of Horses
  • Ed and the Boats
  • The Waterboys
  • Hawkwind

It’s shaping up to be an eclectic and interesting few months music wise, everything from psychedelia to pop music with folk and reggae in there too, no mean feat and an exciting prospect before us. The Flaming Lips will be 13 year old Ben’s first big gig he will remember, he is very excited, it is outside on the lawn at the McNemanins in Troutdale so should be fun and entertaining.

In exactly one week today we will begin our trip to the UK for Chris’ graduation, a time to see family, visit the homeland and have fun. Although this has been two years in the planning it still feels a little like we have no idea what we are going to do. There will be much travelling and sightseeing, a festival and visits with family and friends.

Anyway check out the Lips:

Play Me My Song

Been a few weeks, it’s not like I was busy I just had little or really nothing to say.

There has been much music and a few books, the books are mostly about work, Farrell’s the Myth of Male Power and Gurian’s How Do I Help Him? Both are really useful if you live with a man or boy, or work with one.

With science fiction. I became disappointed by Frederick Pohl’s Gateway, it was an incredible idea but the main character was so unlikable.gateway It was set in a universe were humanity was a disposable commodity, starvation the norm and medical care something to be striven for, far too close to reality at times maybe? It’s a shame as I’ve really enjoyed the other Pohl books I’ve read.

It  has been a struggle to read, I have spent much more time watching TV, Glee, Once Upon A Time, the new season of Grimm and the new Sherlock Holmes show Elementary, although there is no need for the Sherlock connection apart from to attract an audience which I guess it did with me. Most promising worst TV has to be Arrow, it’s so out there and yet cliched that we may become hooked and another season of Being Human.

Thanksgiving has now come and gone, the turkey, well most of it, is eaten and all that is left is the remains. The carcass may be destined for soup but by then we may be tired of turkey all together. It was a good day and as an Englishman living in the USA it is my favorite holiday as there is no pressure to bring a gift for anyone.

Musically it has been a Genesis fest,revisitiedI am not ready to admit that Duke is my favorite but it is the one I know all the words to. This all began with Steve Hackett’s latest Genesis revisited album. Out of curiosity I bought it and the versions on the album were so close but the singing so different I had to revisit the originals. Of course Gabriel’ s  reading of the lyrics will always be the best but Hackett has managed to revisit the songs with enough passion to make the album enjoyable.

Genesis are a band I have obsessed over as much if not more than Fairport Convention and Pink Floyd. They are also the band I have managed to shamefully hide my love of over the years. Let’s face it they are not as acceptable as most of their much more pompous contemporaries. It is still alright to love Yes, enjoy ELP and King Crimson have become beattified. Genesis however largely because of their success in the 80’s have become the prog band everyone loves to ridicule. Even in their 80’s shame they could still knock out Mama or Heathaze, yes they would never sing about giant plants, supper, or mythical beasts but they could still crack the 8 minute barrier when they wanted to and the magic of Genesis was always the melodies. Even if their guitarist invented tapping they were never going to shake their heads although their lead singer might fly and wear a flower or foxes head and a dress.

Genesis were never as flamboyant as a whole, they left that up to the singer.gen gabriel They did however always have a pop sensibility that could be heard in their melodies. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway may be an almost indecipherable prog rock masterpiece but it is filled with 4-5 minute classic songs, the longest being In The Cage. It is a series of short songs tied together by an at best tenuous story, and what other English band would attempt to write the bizarre story of a Puerto Rican punk sucked into the underworld from Times Square. Carpet Crawlers, Fly On A Windshield and the others are all great songs that do not rely on the story to carry them, they succeed almost despite the story.

When Gabriel left the melodies remained and the costumes and theatrics left, Collins filled the void with his charm. For some reason Collins is blamed for the demise of Genesis but they entered their most successful phase with him out front. Yes they got more approachable as a band but they always acknowledged their prog roots, live and even on record. We Can’t Dance had Fading Lights to end the album, it was a brave move for a “pop” band to throw a 10 minute track on an album, Invisible Touch had Domino and the Genesis album had Home By The Sea and 2nd Home By the Sea, all adventurous tracks nestled among the pop songs.

gensis collinsThe Collin’s years also had A Trick of the Tail and Wind and Wuthering, two albums filled with progressive masterpieces such as One For The Vine, Ripples and so many others. Live they were still knocking out White Mountain and Supper’s Ready almost to the end. The true reason for fans distaste is that they actually progressed as a band and allowed their love of pop music to spill out and become part of their sound. Without some of that awful 80’s production the albums would have sounded so much better but that was the time.

Well this post has been a long time coming. It’s kind of fun to put my love of Genesis out there. I watched Prog Rock Brittania the other day on youtube, it’s a fascinating look at the Prog movement and how it is viewed as the porn of music, anyway take a look it;s wirth the hour and a half:

If after all that you want to listen to Genesis here is my considered list:

Nursery Cryme

Foxtrot

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

Wind and Wuthering

Seconds Out

Duke

Of course you could just go an immerse yourself in the music and have fun with all the albums.

I started writing this in November and so much has happened since then, anyway my hope for this New Year is that we pay attention this year to our similarities and not be so focused on our differences and that politicians can look beyond their reelection hopes.

Captain’s Log

Well Seattle is a strange city, larger than Portland and busier but it also seems to be trying just a little bit too hard to be noticed. Yes Jimi Hendrix is from Seattle but left as soon as he could without really looking back, yes Nirvana are from Seattle but their re-branding 70’s heavy metal as grunge was never really very convincing and let’s face it Pikes Place Market is just a fish market that got too big for it’s own good, there are so many people there you cannot throw the fish anymore you may damage a tourist. Of course this is true of any city that suddenly realizes it has something to market, in Portland Voodoo Donuts, the Saturday Market and the annoying “Keep Portland Weird” stickers give me the same feeling of a city trying just a little too much.

That being said Seattle is a fun city, that unlike other city’s seems to have embraced the idea of being a tourist destination. The people may think they are too cool for tourism but whoever is in charge has leaped wholeheartedly in with both feet.

I saw a sign that said science fiction museum and then we were destined to go. It was part of the Experience Music Project which it seem is trying to reimagine itself as a museum of poplar culture. Not a bad idea really. In the basement was a science fiction exhibit which relied obviously more on television and cinema but also had some nice references to books, especially promoting the idea that science fiction is an art form that promotes thinking about the future creatively. What fan would not be excited to stand next to the captains chair, or come face to fish-eye lens with a Dalek? It’s very exciting in a geeky way to be so close to these iconic props. I did want to break the glass and take a seat though and run screaming from the whisk and toilet plunger toting Dalek.

We all spent the morning marveling at the science fiction wonders in the basement, Robbie the Robot was upstairs, but the basement had the Alien creature, Superman’s long underwear and a green screen were you could act out your own creature feature. Who wouldn’t be excited to see themselves chased by the miniature Godzilla on a stick? The Alien is as imposing close up as it is on the big screen.

Of course there is the music section of the museum which obviously adulates Jimi, Kurt and strangely enough ACDC.

One of the most imposing sights is the tornado of guitars in the center of the museum. You can also listen to some of them that have been rigged to play. Also upstairs are practice rooms and teaching aids so you can live out your rock’n’roll fantasy in real time, plenty of green screen to rock out with Angus and the boys. Of course you can also buy your own CD of your version of whichever song you choose to record.

So a great weekend of Egyptians and science fiction, and to tie it all together the Helmet of Teal’c from Stargate which managed to distort and mix up Egyptian mythology with science fiction, kind of like Nirvana with heavy metal and punk, so it must be Seattle the city of blends.