Wednesday, April 18, 2018

"cos he was trying to deglamorize himself"

from a film by the British Pop Artist Derek Boshier, the still features Alice Cooper, The Sweet, and, I think, Bowie

Boshier would later do the cover of Lodger, in collaboration with the photographer Duffy

his account of working with Bowie is about 33 minutes into this

Also here

Boshier also did artwork for Let's Dance, and stage sets (albeit unused) for the Serious Moonlight  tour - when Bowie I guess was trying to re-glamorize himself - or at least become a pop superstar again

The image says "I'm fit and working again" - ready to fight my way back to the toppermost of the poppermost

And here's more on Boshier's working relationship and friendship with Bowie

Thursday, April 12, 2018

glam pt 2 (pt 2)

she cuts a commanding figure

(but where oh where is the brassy sassy glitzy and gilded original video for this song?)

"peek a boo" - the Sovereign Eye / I - there is a intense opticality, a fetishistic thrill in watching and being watched running through S+B's work, which is indivisibly audiovisual (as is all true and great pop)

icon in the fire of proto-Goth desire

showing their roots right from the almost-start with this very early B-side

"hall of mirrors", "through the looking glass" - sensing a theme

not really a Dylan cover so much as a Julie Driscoll - the It Girl of Sixties swinging England - cover

Sioux and her pretty boys - and half the cosmetics counter at Boots

more on the Banshees and the Creatures

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

not really glam (2 of ???)

despite desperate image ploy, pretty standard arena fare (produced Rick Derringer) and something like missing link between Alice Cooper and Ted Nugent

Thursday, March 29, 2018

glam versus glum

Two parts of a single 1974 documentary (made by TV for schools) called All That Glitters

the first half very glittery (The Sweet at the height of the success)

the second half very drab (prog Renia in the doldrums of struggle to make it)

and aptly enough the first bit is full-colour, the second is black-and-white

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Rockit Men

In the Aftershocks section of S+A, I have a little snippet on Def Leppard, focused on their Sweet fandom and aspirations to Wainman / Chinnichap-style overproduction / hysteria. With particular emphasis on "Pour Some Sugar on Me" - the third and by far the best single off Hysteria.

But I wish I had seen this video for this other single off Hysteria (the SEVENTH single would you believe!!). Because it is one long testament to the band's glamfandom and would have been perfect to mention in this little section on D.Leppard.

Indeed some of the images that crop up in the "Rocket" video -  UK music paper front covers and photo spreads and so forth - actually look like things I used or considered using as illustrations for S+A.

Beyond the overblown artifice and concocted excess of their sound - those shrill breath-blasts of  oddly centreless vocals, the puff-pastry layering of guitar overdubs  - another glammy thing about Leppard is a self-reflexive aspect. Not so much songs about being a rock star (although I daresay there's some, I haven't investigated that thoroughly to be honest). But more like a rocking-for-the-sake of rocking element.  (Admittedly that's quite a metal thing too).

By the next album Adrenalize, this thing of announcing their intention to rock the listener, of declaring that they're in the business of rocking - it was starting to feel a little threadbare.

You sense that The Darkness, and Andrew W.K., are not that far off.

Much later on - 2006 -  Def Leppard  explicitly return to the glam era with this really rather decent cover of Essex's "Rock On" (again, rock-about-rock).

Oh, well I never noticed that this was off an album - Yeah! - of cover tributes to favorite Leppard songs that with a few exceptions are all from the early Seventies - and that include such glam classics as  "20th Century Boy", "Hell Raiser",  "Street Life", "Drive-In Saturday", and "The Golden Age of Rock 'n' Roll", as well as the stompy proto-glitter John Kongos hit "He's Gonna Step on You Again."

Yeah!'s CD booklet has photos of Leppard each in a pose that recreates an iconic cover image from the glam-aligned early 70s: Rick Savage is Freddie Mercury from the album Queen II,
Vivian Campbell does Bolan off of T. Rex's Electric Warrior, Joe Elliott pretends to be Bowie from the back cover of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Rick Allen does Lou Reed off of Transformer, and Phil Collen poses ghastly a la Iggy on the front of Raw Power.

They also did one with the whole band imitating a Roxy inner gatefold

Oh, looky here - a recent thing in Rolling Stone where Joe Elliott talks about his favorite glam artists

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Magic Unrealism, or, The President of Ambrosia

The core of positive thinking - which is also the core of glam - is the power of Desire to override the Reality Principle.

The power of wish-speech (childish, magical, narcissistic) to reject reality as a facts-ist regime.

Hence, Billy Liar's opening line: "Lying in bed, I abandoned the facts again and was back in Ambrosia"

Hence, Trump's gainsaying of any element, however small, of consensus reality that is a blow to his own grandiose self-image. 

"Trump plainly views the act of lying, or making things up, or contradicting himself with relentless abandon, as an assertion of power — that is, the power to render reality irrelevant, the power to roll right over constraints normally imposed by expectations of consistency or fealty to basic norms of reasoned, factual inquiry.

As Jacob T. Levy has written, these “demonstrations of power undermine the existence of shared belief in truth and facts.” The whole point of them is to assert the power to say what the truth is, or what the truth should be, even when — or especially when — easily verifiable facts dictate the contrary. The brazenness of Trump’s lying is not a mere byproduct of his desire to mislead. It is absolutely central to the whole project of declaring the power to say what reality is.

Trump’s boast about making stuff up in his meeting with Trudeau comes close to an open admission of this. He lied, or made stuff up, because he could, yes, but also because what one wants to be true actually can be made true."

"Billy Liar - the boy whose imagination is larger than his life"

PR is a form of propaganda  - the StarSelf-as-miniState broadcasting how it would like to be seen by the general public

(cf Trump pretending to be his own publicist, variously known as John Miller and John Barron - later the name of his son, intriguingly - procreation as narcissistic duplication, plus he'd already reused Donald for his first-born

(oh yes he's the Great Pretender.... a pretense of Greatness)

The glam parallel supreme (although there are many - Alice "I love to tell lies" Cooper, Bowie) is Marc Bolan.

From an early draft of S+A:

"Right from the start of his career... Bolan told tall tales, offering journalists grossly inflated accounts of real events and circumstances, while promising that would never be delivered and that in most cases never got beyond being an idle fantasy:   TV cartoon series based around him and scripted by him, screenplays for “three European pictures... including one for Fellini”, several science fiction novels on the verge of UK publication. He boasted of having painted “enough for an exhibition” and having “five books finished which I`ve been sitting on for a long time”. Even on the downward slope of his career, he unfurled fantastical plans for a “new audio-visual art form”.

"Music journalists ate it up because it was good copy.  PR man Keith Altham compared him to Walter Mitty: “he knew that people always wanted something larger-than-life, so he always exaggerated. And sometimes he actually began to believe that himself”. Billy Liar is another parallel. The opening line of Keith Waterhouse’s novel is “Lying in bed, I abandoned the facts again and was back in Ambrosia”—the latter being Billy Fisher’s fantasy-land, where he rules as a benign dictator/generalissimo.  For Bolan as for Fisher, reality was a facts-ist regime from which he was determined to secede.  Both came from  humble, hard-graft backgrounds (lorry driver father, market stall-holder mum, in Bolan’s Case) amid prosaic, color-depleted surroundings (the East End of London, rather than the imaginary industrial-mercantile Northern town of Stradhoughton in Billy Liar).  Both escaped through make-believe and making things up."

Positive thinking is a form of self-hypnotism, the beaming into the unconscious of "mental photographs", power-poses, heroic self-images, self-actualisation maxims, affirmations etc - a form of internally introjected propaganda. 

In The Power of Positive Thinking Norman Vincent Peale (Trump's pastor as a young man) advises: "Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop the picture ... Do not build up obstacles in your imagination."

Poz-thinking infected forms of religion (e.g. Joel Osteen's prosperity gospel) (although positive thinking is itself a religion, a perversion of Protestantism) explicitly encourage believers to avoid contact with viewpoints that contradict one's wishful thinking. Osteen sermonises about how one's seed-of-greatness will not flourish in a soil of negativity - it is imperative to surround yourself with positive people (i.e. people who will not discourage you with their more reality-based judgements and lowered expectations, fatalists of every stripe). Similar to the techniques of Scientology, where the organisation encourages / forces the convert to abandon friends and family members who are not down with the positivity program and to instead spend one's entire social life within the belief-reinforcing enclosure  of the community of believers.

Another way of doing this is to constantly reshuffle your cabinet to get rid of realists, people who give any credence to the expertise of the reality-based community. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Ninotchka + glam / anti-glam, or, Luxury Communism goes to Hollywood

Scene: a shared and spartan apartment in Moscow circa 1939. Ninotchka, a diplomatic envoy recently returned from Paris, is catching up with her flatmate Anna, a musician who plays in a symphony orchestra. 

ANNA (brandishing a chic silk undergarment Ninotchka brought back from Paris): When I passed through the laundry yard today I saw all the women huddled around this, so I brought it up here. Things like this create a bad feeling - first, they didn't know whose it was, and then they saw the Paris label, and did it start a commotion! Some said it's what we all ought to wear and others said it's like hanging foreign ideas on our clothes line, it undermines our whole cause.


ANNA: You know how it is today - all you have to do is wear a pair of silk stockings and they suspect you of counter-revolution.

NINOTCHKA: Thank you, Anna - I'll dry it up here when I wash it next. I should hate to see our country endangered by my underwear.


[Anna asks Ninotchka if she brought anything else  back from Paris and she explains that she left everything else she bought behind because she had to return to Moscow in a hurry; she just happened to be wearing the camisole when she left for the airport. She mentions that among all the garments  left behind, her favorite was a hat.]

NINOTCHKA: It was very silly. I would be ashamed to wear it here.

ANNA: As beautiful as that!


[Ninotchka mentions that she also bought an evening gown, which causes Anna to marvel at the extravagance of wearing different clothes for different times of day]

ANNA: You are exaggerating!

NINOTCHKA: No, it's true - that's how they live in the other world. Here we dress to cover up our bodies - to keep warm.

ANNA: And there?

NINOTCHKA: Sometimes they're not completely covered - but they don't freeze. 

[Anna strokes the exquisitely soft material the undergarment is made of, marveling that such luxuriant fabric is used for a piece of clothing that isn't even visible to other people's eyes. She asks Ninotchka if she can borrow if for her upcoming honeymoon, and Ninotchka says she can have it for keeps. An overjoyed and grateful Anna hurries off to work clutching her cello.  Ninotchka, finding herself alone, turns on the radio for solace, looking for music. But every Soviet station is broadcasting state propaganda - facts and figures about the economy, productivity soaring, etc]

NINOTCHKA (plaintively): No music!

Hollywood designers make Communist uniforms look chic!

digi-glam and tyranny 4 u

"'Everything here is fake. That’s what you have to realize,” [said my Paramount Studios tour guide]. She did not mean “fake” in any negative sense. In the 20th century, such fake material was confined to the entertainment industry, which in that earlier age of technology was clearly separate from the news industry. Now the scope of what constitutes fake is vaster. And I do not mean President Trump’s false claims of “fake news,” which is merely news he doesn’t like or agree with. I mean the world of digital and video technology that has allowed the Hollywood mind-set of manipulating reality to distort how we think about the great issues of the day.

"Objective, professional journalism — which seeks balance among respectable points of view — flourished, we should remind ourselves, within the context of the print-and-typewriter age: a more benign technology much less given to forgery and alteration compared with that of our current era. The digital-video age may have begun in the latter part of the 20th century, but we saw its dramatic effect on politics during the 2016 election. It is common for there to be a lag time between technological innovation and political-military effect. Recall that although the Second Industrial Revolution began in the mid-19th century, we did not really see its effect on war until 1914.

"It is impossible to imagine Trump and his repeated big lies that go viral except in the digital-video age. It is impossible to imagine our present political polarization except in the age of the Internet, which drives people to sites of extreme views that validate their preexisting prejudices. And, in the spirit of Hollywood, it is impossible to imagine the degree and intensity of emotional and sensory manipulation, false rumors, exaggerations and character assassination that decay our public dialogue except in this new and terrifying age of technology which has only just begun.

"Digital-video technology, precisely because it is given to manipulation, is inherently controlling. Think of how the great film directors of the 20th century were able to take over your mind for a few hours: a new experience for audiences that previous generations had never known. Theater may be as old as the ancient Greeks, but the technology of film lent a new and powerful force to the theatrical experience. Moreover, it was contained within a limited time period, and afterward you came back to the real world....

"In the 21st century, dictators may have the capability to be the equivalent of film directors, and the show never stops. Indeed, Joseph Goebbels would undoubtedly thrive in today’s world. As for warfare itself, it will be increasingly about dividing and demoralizing enemy populations through disinformation campaigns whose techniques are still in their infancy....

"We will fight best by thinking tragically to avoid tragedy. This means learning to think like the tyrants who feed and prosper on misinformation so we can keep several steps ahead of them.... Constructive pessimism is called for. The innocent days when illusions were the province of movie stage sets are way behind us."

from "Everything here is fake" by Robert D. Kaplan Washington Post, March 2 2018

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

karma Camille-ion

"A further landmark in ]Prince and Michael Jackson's] uneasy rivalry came when [Quincy] Jones suggested to Jackson that Prince duet with him on the title track of his Bad album. "So we invited [Prince] over to Michael's house at Hayvenhurst. He came in and he had an overcoat on, and he had a big white box labeled camille. He called Michael 'Camille.' " Prince, it seems, had brought a gift for his host. "The box had all kinds of stuff—some cuff links with Tootsie Rolls on them. Michael was scared to death—he thought there was some voodoo in there. I wanted to take it, because I knew Michael was gonna throw it away."
- interview with Quincy Jones, GQ

"The conceptual and technical masterstroke of “Girlfriend” is the gender-morphing of Prince’s vocals... pitch-shifted to create the feminine alter-ego Camille....  Prince-watchers instantly grasped that this was the wholly logical, yet completely unexpected and surprising, extension of his androgyny, his compulsion to dissolve borderlines and barriers....  In another sense, the artificially high-pitched Camille voice was simply a technological expansion upon what Prince already did vocally: sing falsetto in the soul ‘n’ funk tradition of Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up,” where the “the sound of a woman coming from a man,” as critic Michael Freedburg wrote, served “to demonstrate to his intended lover that he understands her fears and desires as if he were female himself..... "... These forcibly etherealized vocal sounds generally connote the angelic, the extra-terrestrial, the cosmic and otherworldly. They can also be the sound of those who feel alienated from mundane normative existence, who feel like they are from some other place.

"Some Prince-ologists say that the singer chose the name “Camille” for his alter-ego after a 19th century French intersex person generally known by the name Alexina Barbin but who later called themself Camille. Barbin was brought up as a girl but was reclassified as male at the age of 22 and came to use “Camille”—in French, it can be both a female and male name—to describe the masculine phase of their short life.... Partially reproduced in a 19th century medical paper, Barbin’s memoirs were rediscovered and published in 1980. Philosopher Michel Foucault, who was gay, wrote an introduction celebrating Barbin as a sort of exemplar of the sexual misfit, whose biography spoke to and for all those “virile women” and “passive men” who live in a “happy limbo of nonidentity.” But Barbin’s story leaned more to the tragic: grappling externally with uncomprehending medical and religious institutions, and internally with persistent feelings of “vague sadness,” “inexpressible uneasiness,” and “strange perplexity,” culminating in lonely suicide at the age of 30. If it is in fact true that Prince’s “Camille” was inspired by Barbin’s tale, it’s possible that he didn’t get it from the republished memoir but from the 1985 movie Mystère Alexina.

"Prince originally intended to release a whole album of material using the Camille alter-ego and the pitch-shifted, feminized vocal sound. But the self-titled, eight-song LP Camille was scrapped, with most of the tunes resurfacing later as album tracks or B-sides..."

from my Pitchfork memorial to Prince.

The mystery deepens - was "Camille" really Michael Jackson, the androgyne king of pop, whom Prince admired, envied and wished to dethrone?  Would the Camille album have been his attempt at magical substitution, displacement, even incorporation, of his rival?

Saturday, February 10, 2018

glam / anti-glam quotes (12 of ???)

SR: New Pop seems in retrospect to have involved a step backwards in terms of women-in-pop. You had some striking and "strong" female performers, like Annie Lennox, but it was back to the format of female as front person with the music being done by the band, or their case, the guy... 

Gina Birch / Raincoats: "Yeah. I mean, after The Slits and that whole era, there was nothing interesting really until Riot Grrrl. Madonna and Annie Lennox--they were icons in a way. But they were more the hero than an inspirational force. Whereas you saw The Slits and that made you want to be creative. You see Annie Lennox and wow, she's brilliant, she sings fantastic. But there's that real distance. It's much more the showbiz model."

SR: But then you later had a bit of postmodernist New Pop type moment with Dorothy--you and Vicky's post-Raincoats band. Signed to Chrysalis Records and based around a
 kind of post-feminist idea of playing games with archetypes of female glamour. 

Gina Birch: ""Yes, Dorothy was my showbiz moment! The main thing behind it was CindySherman. I just thought her photographs were fantastic. I liked the thought that each picture told a certain story and had a certain look.  She could be a professor or someone really glamorous. Judith Williamson had written a fantastic article on Sherman's work in Screen magazine--about this idea that when you wake up, you decide what you're going to wear and that decides what person you're going to be that day. I really liked the fact that you could put on this item of clothing and throw off your personal shackles--all the kind of introspection that went into lyrics like "she looks embarrassed" on Odyshape--and just be whatever character I wanted to be. And it was very liberating to be, you know, a sex kitten if you felt like it.  For our press shots, we based it on this photograph of Joan Crawford where she was signing these glammy photographs of herself. I liked this idea that you can construct whatever image you wanted. And in many ways that's what Annie Lennox and Madonna did."

from Totally Wired: Postpunk Interviews and Overviews

Motown versus Motown

"Being a woman is both feeling female, expressing female and also (for the time being at least) reacting against what a woman is told she 'should' be like. This contradiction creates chaos in our lives and if we want to be real, we have to neglect what has been imposed on us, we have to create our lives in a new way. It is important to try and avoid as much as possible playing the games constantly proposed to you" - Ana da Silva, Rough Trade information booklet on The Raincoats

Friday, February 9, 2018

glam / anti-glam quotes (11 of ??)

“Here’s to the ones who dream, foolish as they may seem. Here’s to the hearts that ache; here’s to the mess we make.”

Mia: "Maybe I'm not good enough".

Sebastian: "Yes, you are."

Mia: "Maybe I'm not. It's like a pipe dream." 

Sebastian: "This is the dream. It's conflict and it's compromise and it's very, very exciting." 

how much do i hate La La Land? let me count the ways

the weak, weak songs - very milky-toast indeed

the weaker singing

that embarrassing tap dancing

the way the movie has its critique and eats it 

(“That’s L.A.—they worship everything and they value nothing”)

while still promoting the fame-chase ideology

the way it congratulates itself on avoiding the happy romantic ending (while having the "they achieve their career dreams" happy ending)

then there's the retroizm running through the whole thing

the "jazz"

the meta-showbiz aspect

(not so much "an ode to Hollywood as much as it is an ode to these kind of odes" says Rich Juziak - referencing the director's inspiration from Singing in the Rain - without either the rain or the singing - also minus the pzazz, the panache, the razzle, the dazzle, the humanity, the humour, or the deep intelligence. and very minus the astonishing dancing and great tunes)

glam / anti-glam quote (10 of ??)

“A man's alter ego is nothing more than his favorite image of himself.” 

― Stan Redding, Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake

“It's not what a man has but what a man is that's important. This car is fine for me. It gets me around. I know who I am and what I am, and that's what counts, not what other people might think of me.” 

― Frank W. Abagnale, Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake

"Sometimes it's easier livin' the lie" - Carl Hanratty, from Catch Me If You Can (movie) 

Frank Abagnale, Jr.: 
"Brenda, I don't want to lie to you anymore. All right? I'm not a doctor. I never went to medical school. I'm not a lawyer, or a Harvard graduate, or a Lutheran. Brenda, I ran away from home a year and a half ago when I was 16."

Brenda Strong: 
"Frank? Frank? You're not a Lutheran? "

[dialogue from from Catch Me If You Can (movie) ]

glam / anti-glam quotes (9 of ???)

I'm in with the in crowd, I go where the in crowd goes
I'm in with the in crowd and I know what the in crowd knows
Anytime of the year, don't you hear? Dressing fine, making time
We breeze up and down the street, we get respect from the people we meet
They make way,  day or night
They know the in crowd is out of sight

I'm in with the in crowd, I know every latest dance
When you're in with the in crowd, it's so easy to find romance
Any time of the year, don't you hear? If it's square, we ain't there
We make every minute count, our share is always the biggest amount
Other guys imitate us, but the original is still the greatest

Got our own way of walkin'
We got our own way of talkin', yeah

Any time of the year, don't you hear? Spendin' cash, talkin' trash
I'll show you a real good time, come on with me
Leave your troubles behind

I don't care where you've been, you ain't been nowhere
Till you've been in
With the in crowd

Billy Page / Dobie Gray / Bryan Ferry, "The 'In' Crowd'"

Thursday, February 8, 2018

glam ./ anti-glam quotes (8 of ????)

"Oh, you mean nutty! Yes, he's a nutcase. Most of these titled fleabags are. Rich nobs and privileged arseholes can afford to be bonkers. They're living in a dreamworld, aren't they sir? Life's made too easy for them. They don't have to earn a living, so they do just what they want to. We'd all look pretty crackers if we went about doing just what we wanted to, wouldn't we? Eh?"
                 -  Tucker the butler (played by Arthur Lowe) in The Ruling Class, 1972


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Monday, February 5, 2018

we can be heroes

was recently asked some questions by a graduate student relating to a project to do with personae in music

>1. In Shock and Awe you wrote that glam rock believed fantasy would set you (the artist) free. Could you expand on that statement and perhaps highlight some of the artistic freedoms that fabrication can allow?

Well, the first freedom is freedom from your existing self – the hand that Life dealt you. At least, that is the idea – whether it can really work out is another matter. I am a bit of fatalist in this regard, myself – I don’t think people ever truly achieve a permanent escape from their personality as molded by environment / upbringing / the ingrained.  I think the “given” always returns in some form. But the running away from where you started out, the attempt to fashion a new identity, can make for a compelling artistic trajectory.

One way of looking at glam that I would have liked to bring out a little more sharply if I was doing the book again is in terms of heroism. In the book I cite the ideas of Ernest Becker in The Denial of Death (which ironically won the Pulitzer Prize after his death). But I didn’t actually read the whole book until after finishing Shock and Awe.  He sees human life in terms of a quest to be heroic – to escape insignificance, to defeat death. That could involve some kind of merger with a larger collective “immortality project” – nation, faith, political creed – for which you are willing to sacrifice yourself.  In our current consumer-spectator society there are reduced possibilities for this kind of participation in a collective project. A degraded version of the impulse persists in sport – following a team. Have you noticed how football fans slip into talking about their team in terms of “we” – e.g. “we’re doing really well this season”. Talking about achievements to which they’ve actually contributed nothing! Vicarious glory, triumph by proxy.  And then following certain bands is about that as well  – U2, or Muse, or Oasis (their whole shtick with songs like “Champagne Supernova” – hedonism as a kind of heroism. That’s a song you hear drunk men singing in the street after an “epic session’ – it aggrandizes what is perfectly average and nondescript).

The heroic impulse can also manifest in the individualistic pursuit of fame, or grand artistic achievement.  Bowie was obsessed with being a hero or a superman of some kind – the impulse surely preexisted but was expanded through his reading of Nietzsche. I think this was very much bound up with his great anxiety about death. But it also came from that elitist disdain, felt keenly by over-bright adolescents the world over, for the tawdry banality of everyday life.  (“Life on Mars?” is really Bowie speaking from the heart through the mousy-haired girl).  “There must be something more exciting and grand and dynamic than this!” So Bowie basically turned his whole life into a public drama, cast himself in a series of roles using the media and record industry as his stage.  Putting himself through all kinds of turmoil and tests for the sake of artistic stimulation, and to cut a compelling figure.

The thematic of heroism crops up in later Bowie-influenced neo-glam moments – the first New Romantic nightspot is called Club for Heroes. Then you have Adam Ant with his wardrobe of heroic (or anti-heroic) archetypes – pirates, highwaymen, cowboys and Indians.  If you can’t actually be a hero - you can dress up as one.

So basically fantasy is an escape from boredom, from the flatness and dullness of real life and one’s real self. You make up a story in which you are the dramatic lead. Turn life into an adventure. 

Friday, February 2, 2018

glam / anti-glam quotes (M.E.S. special)


"Where punk was pure showbiz, international entertainment, The Fall’s eyes do not seek your love. Of course, to have Fallen is a "posture" like any other, but it is not a posture that appeals by any "style". And of course, Smith is not exactly "our Mark", his is not the face of a coal miner’s son, and maybe the very greasy hair and pullovers are a bit of a con. But it’s important that Smith remains indeterminate, for it is his quality of alienness that is so striking. He is the problem, the one who fends off the images people lower benevolently onto his shoulder – all that white crap about the white crap...

"Live, The Fall encounter the immediate problems of having to keep face without betraying an image. On record, Smith’s vision surrounds one, untarnished by a visible audience. In concert, tremendous concentration is required, even though the group is superb.... In his unhealthy, strangulated way, Smith is singing a kind of folk music, which is why the subdued but grating rockabilly beat that often supplies the accompaniment to his voice is so apposite.... The songs flow into one another until the sound – coarse and undanceable as it is – becomes literally entrancing. At this point The Fall is a frozen spectacle: Smith’s indifference to his audience and neglect of stage persona mean that one starts to concentrate on his concentration, listen to his words, absorb the work of his vision."

Barney Hoskyns, live review of The Fall at North London Poly, NME, 31 October 1981

"What Smith was really singing was a kind of folk music, a ranting and raving poetry which demanded ears rather than eyes. "In the poetry of the folk song," wrote Nietzsche, "language is strained to its utmost that it may imitate music; continuously generating melody scatters image sparks all round, which in their variegation, their abrupt change, their mad precipitation, manifest a power quite unknown to the epic and its steady flow..."

"And that "steady flow" holds good for everyone from Yes to The Sex Pistols to Joy Division. For the entertainment industry of "Rock" and "Pop" (and they are not antithetical) is a monolithic, epic construct, an enormous self-servicing scheme of comfort, hierarchy and identification, however "powerful" or "passionate" the music.

"In this absolute sense, The Fall do not belong in the same universe as your average favourite alternative pop groups. They do not fit in the market place of mild equivalences. They show up virtually the whole of the rest of rock as a gross, illusory hype."

Barney Hoskyns, interview with Mark E. Smith, NME , 14 November 1981

"Hail the new puritan
Out of hovel, cum-coven, cum-oven 
And all hard-core fiends

Will die by me 
And all decadent sins 
Will reap discipline 
New puritan 

I curse your preoccupation
With your record collection
New puritan has no time 
It's only music, John" 

- Mark E. Smith / The Fall, "New Puritan"


"Glam Rick
You are bequeathed in suede
You are entrenched in suede
Glam Rick
You've got celluloid in your genes dad
You are Glam Rick
You've cut my income by one third
You are working on a video project
You hog the bathroom
And never put your hand in your pocket
Glam Rick
You're Glam Rick

-- Mark E. Smith / The Fall, "Glam Racket"

Thursday, February 1, 2018

the Roxy girls

Interesting piece by Madeline Bocaro on the stories behind those iconic Roxy Music album covers and the models who appeared therein.

I have a bit in the Roxy chapter looking at the links between the word "model" (as in "Remake/Remodel", "Editions of You") and mannequin....  and between mannequin and sex doll. In reference to "In Every Dream A Heartache" with its blow-up bimbo, and the way that song prefigures (possibly influenced?) Ian McEwan's "Dead As They Come". The idea being that there is something fundamentally necrotic or necrophiliac about the very concept and functioning of "glamour" - freezing an image of perfection, a surface fetish in denial of messy abject interiors.

But I should really have mentioned the cover of Manifesto, the first album by the reactivated Roxy Music of the late Seventies. It's a crowd of mannequins.

Bocaro says:

"Female models are substituted by mannequins on Manifesto. Famous shop mannequin maker Adel Rootstein was commissioned for the shoot. Kari Ann, Roxy’s first album cover girl was actually the model for some of the mannequins. You can obviously tell which ones resemble her. The twins in the background are actually real people – Roxy Music fans who traveled extensively to see the band perform. The picture disc version of the album featured naked mannequins, as did the picture sleeve singles. The typography, as well as the album’s title, were inspired by the first edition of Wyndham Lewis‘s literary magazine BLASTConcept: Bryan Ferry. Designer: Antony Price"

"Sexist? What's wrong with sexy?" - Bryan Ferry