I used to write Record Of The Week recommendations on idler.co.uk... my favourite was about Dusty Springfield. Sadly this entry, and most of the others have been lost. Here are the survivors:
Collis Browne’s Jamboree by The Chap Collective
Like us humans, insects can demonstrate what seems to be complicated, intelligent activity. A bee for instance, if it comes across a dead lava in the hive, will break open the wax of the hexagon that contains the lava and throw it out. Two separate activities beneficial to the whole community that one bee will carry out on its own, after assimilating a specific signal. Clever bee.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the bee is thinking for itself, or that it has any kind of free will, or indeed that it can learn. Genetic researchers have successfully bred the necessary DNA codes out of bees and stopped them from doing anything about dead lavae, even after they’ve witnessed their fellow bees deal with them.
Thinking about this too much is not good for the head. It has frightening implications. Is the only reason that they haven’t proved the same kind-of thing for humans that it would be illegal to do the experiments? Could we be the same? Does this mean that we’re just obeying our own double-helixes, rather than our soul? Is our complex society just a hive? Are you just reading this piece on the prompting of a series of neuron firings you will never understand? Are those neurons themselves just following some undiscoverable route to ensure the perpetuation of your genes? Christ.
No. It’s ok. There is proof that we really do live in a civilisation of the mind, that individuals are masters of their own destiny and that it will always be better to be a human than to be a bee. For only the most sophisticated intelligence, only the most willful indulgence could have come up with the exquisitely useless art form, dandy-ism.
And only the delightfully dressed members of The Chap Collective could have translated the sartorial so successfully into song. If brogues could sing, this is what they’d sound like. Decadent, witty and determinedly smart. Excellent for kicking the behinds of pompous oafs.
It’s Record Of The Week. You can buy it by clicking here: http://www.comala.net/chapcollective/
Michael Franks – Art of tea
This is one of those records that always seems to pop up at jumble sails or
in those dusty cardboard boxes jammed under the main record shelves in smoke-filled side-street jazz shops. I got my copy for 50p. I could have used the
money for a bag of chips, but I decided that anything with such a kind looking man on the cover, and which has a reference to the tea sacrament in its title, has to have something going for it.
There isn’t actually any mention of tea in any of the songs, but there’s definitely something about its gentle jazz sound and Franks’ playful soft-voiced vocals that makes it the perfect accompaniment to a mellow, smoky pot of Lapsang Souchong. Everything about it suggests comfort, warmth and easy afternoons.
A friend of mine tells me that this is his Mum’s favourite record and has been for more than 20 years. Now she only listens to it on her birthday, so it stays fresh and she’s in the right mood to hear it every time. She understands The Art Of Tea completely: it’s an indulgent treat.
Van Morrison – Saint Dominic’s Preview
by Sam Jordison
Van Morrison recorded Astral Weeks, perhaps the best love and loss album of all time. Now he’s into weird skiffle music and swears a lot. “ah feck it” Cool.
This album’s great as well. Two of the tracks are particularly astounding, and since this was the early 70s, delectably long. In the first, ‘Listen To The Lion’, the mad haired troubadour instructs us to listen out for the lion in our souls. He even tells us how it will sound: “Rrrrr. Rrrrrr. Rrrr”. If it was anyone else, it would be laughable, but Van Morrison was touched by genius, and it’s beautiful.
The second, ‘Almost Independence Day’ sounds disconcertingly like Pink Floyd’s finest seven minutes ‘Wish You Were Here’ . Only it’s better… and it was recorded first. Any attempt to describe it is doomed to collapse into a heap of pathetically keening adjectives. It’s too good for words.