Thursday, December 31, 2009

ROWLAND S. HOWARD 1959 - 2009

Yesterday (Dec. 30, 2009), Melbourne-born guitarist R. S. Howard died of liver cancer. He has been a member of Nick Cave's first band, THE BOYS NEXT DOOR (and of Birthday Party, indeed), for which he wrote "Shivers". This song is the closest that Nick Cave ever got to Bryan Ferry, might be for the so called "slow beat"-rhythm. At least it was called like that in one of my first "learn to play the drums" - books. We used to call it "the Roxy Music", because Paul Thompson was a master of this syncopated bass drum rhythm. It goes like that

Here is the drum-chart, the drummer of BND very regularly leaves out the 16th-note on the bass-drum between 4 and 4&ahalf and sometimes between 4&ahalf and 1, and 2&ahalf and 3, respectively.

Later on, Rowland was a member of Crime & The City Solution (of Singer Simon Bonney), a band featured in the soundtrack of Wim Wenders' "Der Himmel über Berlin". Here is a song he wrote for their first Mini-LP "Just South of Heaven"

Rowland was featured on many other projects of that Aussie/Berlin/London/New York scene of those days, his guitar-playing heard, amongst others, on records by Lydia Lunch and Jeremy Gluck. Often Epic Soundtracks, brother of Nikki Sudden (the siblings being responsible for the British garage-band The Swell Maps), was playing the drums on those recordings (he had also been a member of CCS original line-up). Nikki is dead, (+2006) Epic is dead (+1997), and now Rowland also is. Epic has also been the drummer of THESE IMMORTAL SOULS, featuring Rowland, Genevieve McGuckin and Rowland's brother Harry. I saw them once in the late 80ies in Vienna, u4 club, one among about 50 who came there. Here is the name-giving song written by Rowland

Hopefully, his soul is immortal like those of Epic and Nikki!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I know that I am late, his birthday having been yesterday, December 29. Pau Casals i Defilló is the one we have to thank for bringing back the Suites for Violoncello by J. S. Bach (and maybe by his daughter, Anna Magdalena) to the cultural memory of Europe. He might have been playing 16ths like triplets, he might have mistaken (due to one manuscript) a Bb for a B, he might have played all of that in a somewhat unligated style. The recordings he did might stem from a past of poor recording quality. Be that as it may, here is his rendering of the first three parts of Suite #1 (prelude, allemande, courante), and I dig him as my hero for the way he plays that tunes:

Other famous Violonchello Players have done versions of that one later, in a different style, as, for example, lovely Jaqueline du Pré, lover of Barenboim and victim to MS (prelude & allemande only):

Then we have Rostopovich, doing the prelude (the other parts can be found on UTUBE; look them up on your own!). Due to restrictions on UTUBE; that one cannot be embedded. Therefore it is just a link:


Finally, we have that chinese prodigy, Yo-Yo Ma (would be a nice name for a rapper. so near to Yo, Man!), doing an up-to-date version:

In case you like things like that, there is also a version of the prelude for Suite #1 on electric bass guitar done by German bass player Martin Motnik, former member of "Gothic-Metal"- band Darkseed, having released a solo-Album with Greg Bisonette on drums (whew!!). But you will have to search for that one on your own, again.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Clem Snide is a wonderful band from the USA. The name of the band is taken from a character one can encounter when reading the novels of William S. Burroughs. The band consists mainly of singer/songwriter Eef Barzelay, a man born in Israel, but now living in the US. Besides other great songs (like: I love the Unknown, featured in a movie and therefore not unknown)

he has written lesser known, as my my favourite one I Woke Up to the Sound of German Hip-Hop:

I woke up to the sound of German hip hop in my head
A great unholy clatter quickly filling me with dread
I wondered then if silence had forever disappeared
What, with everybody yelling the end was finally here

I scrambled for the television, desperate for its light
Hoping that my favorite stars could stop this endless night
I waited for instructions, I waited for a sign
I listened very carefully when told just what to buy

Lovers became bitter, mathematicians counting crumbs
Some were filled with angry lust, the rest felt mostly numb
The sun became the enemy, they'd hunger after dark
And kill time swapping partners at a club called Noah's Arc

Those who spoke of doom impending, suffering and such
Had found the place in people's heart that beauty had once touched
They filled the auditorium, the tickets far from cheap
Those that couldn't get in started fighting in the street

The day came so we gathered in a field behind the mall
A noted scientist predicted there we'd see it all
The city council members came, they told us not to fear
The king and queen of homecoming both shed a poignant tear

Just like that it happened, the starling blinked its eye
The molecules collided and became part of the sky
All my life I've never known a moment quite so still
Like space that's being emptied at the same time that it's filled

I woke up to the sound of German hip hop in the air
It sounded like a hum of insects nesting in my hair
I wasn't so much tired but I felt that I should sleep
So I closed my eyes and mumbled something about a soul to keep

He also is the author of the "Jews for Jesus Blues" (there are movements apt to that category in the USA). Here is a rendering of the song found on UTUBE (live, not best quality soundwise), plus lyrics (later on). Better use the link above.

I was searching for something I could not describe
So I stared at the sun till the tears filled my eyes
Well I thought I was empty so I paid the cost
But now that I'm found I miss being lost

I opened my heart and I let Jesus in
With the promise that I would be free of my sins
But I only felt guilty that he died on the cross
Now that I'm found I miss being lost

I don't wanna suffer and I don't wanna die
I want the clouds parted in an endless, blue sky
But someone up there has a different plan
Now that I'm saved I wish I was damned

Sunday, October 25, 2009


In my (not so humble) opinion, if music is about to make any sense it has to be dionysian. Apollinian music is nothing but a rationalisation of its dionysian background (not to say: underground [nor: bedrock]). Therefore, Nick and Polly Jean are the cultural heroes of this blog. Here comes Polly Jean with desire, one small woman playing the guitar on a big stage:

Next we can watch her (wearing gloves) at Letterman's show, doing a sophisticated version of chaos, more on the apollinian side, although everyone can see/feel/hear the dionysian roots of that song.

Finally, the most wonderful song in this collection, featuring Nick's Bad Seeds featuring Polly Jean. Drink a bottle of wine, listen to that song, and in case you do not weep, you are no good!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Since I first came upon it, I always thought Rags and Bones by NO MEANS NO to be a striking song with pretty good lyrics. Here is the original album version of the song, with some artsy video done by the person having uploaded it to YouTube (thx for your great work!!):

Here are the lyrics:
Well, Christ was married on the cross My father was married to my mother And I am married to a cigarette butt lying in the gutter And I am married to a cigarette butt lying in the gutter Oh, that's too bad, isn't it Rags and bones, are we finally alone? White Man, you, you just starting to get the blues I said, White Man, you, you just starting to get the blues The blues Rags and bones, are we finally alone? The beast has arisen, all sins are forgiven The beast has arisen, all sins are forgiven In the belly of the beast I shall be released In the belly of the beast I shall be released She rises, Captain! She rises, Captain! Captain---dive, dive! Captain---dive, dive! If I could choose to believe or not to believe You know I would choose not to If I could choose to believe or not to believe You know I would choose not to But I can't choose Not to Rags and bones, are we finally alone? Any old rags and bones? Who would have thought that I would be A sailor on the deep blue sea Any old rags and bones?

There is an interview (lengthy) with Rob Wright, on YouTube, I guess on a German station, where there is that young woman (giggling all the time) (not) asking him some questions; old man... But to quote the late Kevin Coyne: "I'm just an old man but I can still boogaloo" Which is shown below (did not know, that Manfred Rebhandl was their new guitarist).

In an interview on a Slovenian TV-Station, first, he is asked how he does it, because he seems to - "don't get me wrong -be quite old, and Rob Wright answers: "absolutely". He seems to be more relaxed on that one, maybe, because he is not confronted with a giggling girl. Then he is talking about the hardships of being on the road in Southern Eastern Europe (or what you might call it, in my opinion, it is Southern Central Europe) and after talking this and that, in the last two minutes or so he presents his views of the music industry; and this is, where he shows some real PUNK ATTITUDE; no further comment, just listen

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

summer, chaos and the go-betweens

The nice colleague sharing a room with me at THE INSTITUTE once remarked, that she could not understand, how I could work at a desk slovenly like mine. Answer: I do not work at that messy desk. I work at home. Matter of fact: slovenly at it might be, my desk at THE INSTITUTE (I got that 60ies avengers feeling down in my heart) is well-organised in comparison with the one I really work at. Here are pictures I took today (and yes, it is an image of Isabella Rosellini, and Blue Velvet is one of my favourite movies).
It is about using your holidays for bringing order into that mess and not succeeding.
Be that as it may, I realised that in my brain cells there exists some connection between that state of mind (usually occuring during summer) and the Go-Betweens, the best band Australia has ever produced (at least to my knowledge). Grant McLennan having passed away after they have had the hit they had deserved for years, it is just a memory.
I tried to find an acceptable version of "The Wrong Road" (did not succeed, as you might imagine), so here is:

The House Jack Kerouac buildt:

Cattle & Cane:

Spring rain

Hope you enjoyed it! If you don't like them, the choice of weapons is yours.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Coffee, Cigarettes, Elvis & Big Mama (& Nick)

Have you ever been to Graceland? Me, I have not. But, the name in itself strikes me and I am wondering all the time, whether this pilgrimage place could be looked at rightly as one of those places where one of these "popular religions" of our days takes place.
What I do like about the notions of popular religion, civil religion and the like is, that defining religion in a functionalist way is appropriate to those instances they refer to, whilst the essentialist approach fails here: Graceland a place of the "manifestation of the SACRED"?? What would Söderblom, Otto, Heiler, Eliade and their followers think about that? Holy shit?
This takes me to one of my favourite clips from Jim Jarmusch's "Coffee and Cigarettes", the one about being a twin and having an identity of his/her own. It is also one about "conspiracy theory" and the psychological mechanisms we all share when, against all evidence, we want to stick to an ideal that is not worth sticking to: After having already put so much emotional energy into serving our ideal we cannot simply abandon it because of all the well-founded arguments against it. So we make up a theory that integrates those arguments, a theory we take to be a "grounded" one, whilst others might call it the outcome of "cognitive dissonance".

Back when I was a student of theology in the early 80ies, I knew a young man who held that there had been two Popes erroneously taken to be one (Paul VI): One of them (the good twin) responsable for all the conservative decisions (remember birth control??), the other (the evil twin) a look-alike that was presented by the free-masons that had (partly, to make the theory work) taken over the Vatican. It was the latter who was in charge of all the weird stuff my friend could not come to terms with. I was shown pamphlets with pictures he thought of as evidence of his "Two-Popes-Theory".
Be that as it may, in this clip it is Elvis, taken as a popular figure fulfilling religious needs: He is the ideal or god (at least some small local godhead). And we are confronted with a "Two-Elvis-Theory", based on the fact, that Elvis had a twin (Nick Cave made a nice song about that on his second album with the Bad Seeds [with the telling title "The Firstborn is Dead"], called Tupelo, relating to a classic blues song about the flood in Tupelo, Mississippi and the fact, that Elvis had been born in that very city). Without further commenting on the Black-(not really)-Twins-Joie&Cinqué-Siblings-of-Spike-Lee-and-White-Steve-Buscemi-Situation (not even mentioning that Tupelo is situated in LEE county), I go on with the Elvis-stuff: You could think about Elvis as having made a small step personnally but a big step for mankind: bringing African-American music-style to a predominantly white audience (he did a version of "Muss i denn zum Städtelein hinaus", too, as we all know...).
But you could also think of Elvis as a thief, a robber, a burglar: putting his famous WHITE name on songs written by now widely unknown BLACK artists.
You could say, at least, he did a great job. To show you, that you would be wrong, if you thought so, here is the version of "Hound Dog" by BIG Mama Thornton:

She is not the author of the song either, but I would trade all of Elvis' recordings for her version of that song. Maybe I would keep "Wooden Heart" and "In the Ghetto" (featuring the evil WHITE twin and his BLACK background singers), although I like the Nick Cave Version of the latter more (notwithstanding the australian singer's qualities as a poseur on that video). Nevertheless, without Elvis there would not be a version done by Nick the Stripper.
To be fair to Mr. Presley and help Mr. Buscemi in his discussion with members of the Lee family, it has to be admitted, that "Hound Dog" was written for BIG MAMA THORNTON by two really BLACK guys, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It is what it is

No comment on those:

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Gillian Welch

As she is #1 in my list of what music I do like - although with a few exceptions like "volksdümmliche musik", I kind of like almost every musical style - , I have to ahare a really phantastic performance of one of my favourite songs of Gillian Welch & David Rawlings: Caleb Meyer

This blog being dedicated to religion, too, I have to add one beautiful gospel written by Gillian: