Archive for January, 2010

JULIE NEWMAR

27 January 2010

[Picture of Jukie Newmar as Catwoman --aged 33]I can vividly remember the first time I was struck by a woman.  Not physically struck, of course, but struck none-the-less.

It’s difficult to explain, because it wasn’t a “grand sexual awakening”.  It wasn’t a “thunderbolt” of love or lust, and it wasn’t awe or admiration.  It was quite simply the first moment I really noticed a woman for being a woman, for being different, for being a fascinating creature.

Hey, this is a big moment in the life of the male.  I wonder if other guys know what I am going on about?  Anyway, for me that moment happened while watching TV.

Yes. TV. I was a kid.  A wee boy.  I had a toy Batmobile and watched Batman on TV.  The “real” Batman — the one with Adam West.  This was so good.  So good.  As a kid, I was fired up enough to “become batman” right after the show  — during the closing credits and the Hefti Theme tune — I would spring from couches and punch invisible baddies… “pow!” and “Ker-pa-ow!”.

[Picture of Julie Newmar in catwoman costume]Then entered CATWOMAN. Uh-oh. Holy…

It was Julie Newmar! What a costume!  What movement, what a face, what a waist, what…

I couldn’t take my eyes off her.  It was true enchantment.  And even today I think of Julie Newmar as a platonic ideal.

The thing is that back when they made the Batman TV series, it was in the mid 1960s, which means that Julie played Catwoman, in her early 30s.  She was tall at 1.8 m, and she only weighed 66 kg (a BMI of just 20.3), but she was curvy, oh boy, was she curvy — an amazing 96-58-96 figure; they just don’t make ’em like that anymore!

I still find her captivating and hypnotic when I come across Batman reruns with her as Catwoman.

What a real woman!

[Picture of Jukie Newman in underwear] [Picture of Jukie Newmar dancing]

§

Advertisements

MIXMEISTER

20 January 2010

Mixmeister BPM is a free download bit of software that I am trying out.

You download it form here: www.mixmeister.com/bpmanalyzer.

All you do is drag and drop your music files (*.mp3 etc) and it starts to calculate the beats per minute (BPM) or tempo of the track!

It takes about 10 secs / track, so to do my collection will take over 30 hours!

Once it is done, the tags are amended, so all I should do (when this Herculean task is finished) is get MediaMonkey to rescan the music library.

Then I shall be able to select tracks by tempo as well as key — making playlists and so on.  I can hardly wait!  I’ll let you know if this is worthwhile!

§

OWEN PALLETT

14 January 2010

[Picture of Final Fantasy's Owen Pallett]Sometimes I come across a name all the time, and that is the case these days with Owen Pallett. For me he’s everywhere.

I probably first came across this name back in 2007 when I heard Arcade Fire’s “Neon Bible”.  It’s a funny name: Owen Pallett. The chap is an overtly homosexual violin player and singer. OK, not my usual bag.

Then I spotted that he appeared on “Joys” from “Worried Noodles” a compilation of David Shrigley’s lyrics set to music back in 2007 (see my post on David Shrigley).

I went to a concert to see St. Vincent last year, she was in support of Grizzly Bear — and up cropped Owen Pallett’s name yet again (see my post on Grizzly Bear, and my review of the St Vincent-Grizzly Bear gig) — Owen did the string arrangements and stuff for Grizzly Bear’s “Yellow House”, and is associated with Beirut from a few years ago (see my post on Beirut’s The Gulag Orkestar).

I have his album “Heartland” which is just out, and tonight I spotted A tweet by Hue & Cry

Greg: Hav 2 agree with all the gr8 reviews. Owen Pallett’s “Heartland” album is a masterpiece. On my 4th listen :) http://bit.ly/7NVGih    9:46 AM Jan 18th   from web

This was the tipping point I think, it forced me to post here — and to look up YouTube! Here’s a vid uploaded of him with just a violin – live — doing a Joanna Newsom song:

[embedded video from Youtube.com]

The thing is, he’s a clever cookie — not just a violin player, but a graduate in musical composition. This explains why he keeps cropping up in all sorts of places — in my mind, usually associated with East Coast American/ New York and pretty “gay” acts such as  MikaOwen did the string arrangements for his album “The Boy Who Knew Too Much“, and The Pet Shop Boys (their “Yes” album from last year).

You can pretty-much guess what Owen Pallett/ Final Fantasy will sound like just from the associations, but he is definitely worth a listen; the musicianship is high, and it makes a nice change to hear something fresh! Enjoy!

Here’s an amateur vid of him playing live the Jennifer Rush/ Celine Dion “Power of Love” on YouTube: It’s just him and a violin, and it just ought not to work… but it does!  Brilliant!

[embedded video from Youtube.com]

§

CHET BAKER

9 January 2010

[Picture of a Chet Baker Record cover]What a voice!  I was in the mood for some Gregory Hoskins (after I spotted a comment here), and this put me in mind of the great Chet Baker.

He was originally famed for playing Jazz Trumpet — with some of the all time greats too.  Stan Getz and Gerry Mulligan in particular.

In 1953, he released an album in which he sang, sparkily named “Chet Baker Sings” — and I got a hold of it in 1979 in one of those deals where you buy a bunch of LPs at a market.  This record has been part of me ever since.

In case you don’t know, this guy was from the golden age of Jazz — the post war cool era.

Although Chet used heroin for 30 years, he nearly made it to 60. He dozed off while sitting on a window-ledge on his 2nd storey Amsterdam hotel room one night in May 1988. He fell to his accidental death. I remember being very sad (I think I was still trying to come to terms with Jaco Pastorius’s murder 9 months before).  Sad times for jazz lovers.

There is a special connection here in that, like Jaco, Chet got in a late night brawl and took a severe beating.  But unlike Jaco, Chet didn’t die from the assault — but the beating made a mess of his lips and broke his teeth. This was in San Francisco in the mid 1960s — at the height of his looks and career. For a famous trumpet-player, that was about the worst possible outcome, ruining his embouchure — and so Chet had to wear dentures and stop playing the trumpet — he switched to flugelhorn and easy-listening music — until he developed a new embouchure over a few years.

That’s all pretty sickening, but I am glad to state that with his new embouchure, Chet returned to straight-ahead jazz trumpet — which by then was more popular in Europe than the USA, so Chet moved to Europe and entered his most prolific creative and recording period from the late 1970s until his death. Chet had even been working with Elvis Costello and together they had a top 40 hit with “Shipbuilding”!

[embedded video from YouTube.com]

Yeah, the guy was co-ool — a real cultural icon from an era filled with cultural icons!

Aw, man, what a song “Almost Blue” is, so on-the-money, not a wasted word from Elvis Costello — and not a wasted note from Chet and the gang. Total art. He holds back the singing until about half-way — what genius!

[embedded video from YouTube.com “Almost Blue”]

Almost blue
Almost doing things we used to do
There’s a girl here and she’s almost you
Almost  all the things that you promised with your eyes I see in hers too
Now your eyes are red from crying
Almost blue
Flirting with this disaster became me
It named me as the fool who only aimed to be
Almost blue
Almost touching it will almost do
There’s a part of me that’s always true… always

Almost  all the things that you promised with your eyes I see in hers too
Now your eyes are red from crying
Almost blue

Almost you
Almost me
Almost blue

I read a lot of rot about guys like Chet Baker.  He was no good-looking model to start with. The thing is that young guys get old.  Only cultural icons like Jimmy Dean and Jaco Pastorius don’t get old — the ones that died young. I have recoiled many times when I have seen what age has done to my heroes and others from a previous era — Jeez, Ry Cooder was a shock, as was James Taylor, Hue and Cry and Adrian Belew. This is mainly because they were out of the limelight for a while — others, like the Rolling Stones or Status Quo don’t seem so bad — but they actually are! You soon get used to them being old, and it will come to Brad Pitt and all the rest of the icons of today.

I do not think Chet was “ravaged by heroin”; he lived most of his life using heroin, and I have seen other 59 year olds look the same or worse simply from smoking cigarettes or being outdoors in the sun and weather a lot.

Chet Baker had his own style of singing and playing, and that is a good thing.  I am fed up hearing criticisms about his playing and singing from folks who can do neither themselves.

He was the whole package of cool when he was a young blade, doing “Funny Valentine”, “The Thrill is Gone”,  “I Fall in Love Too Easily”, and the marvellous, “Let’s get Lost”. When he got older, he was the elder statesman and the consummate musician. He was doing it for the music and the die-hard fans.  He could have chosen to do a million other things, but he stuck to his guns in a land far from his native land.

Personally I do not think we would have the likes of Gregory Hoskins or Jeff Buckley without Chet Baker’s voice — and that lives forever. Yes sir!

§