Iain Cameron's Diary
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2005-04-16 - 2:39 a.m.
The last day or so have been quite eventful.
Steve and I spent most of yesterday working with Francis - in fact we have spent most of this week working on his stuff. Monday afternoon we did a kind of overview show and since then we have been doing some of the follow-up. Indeed there is more next week.
The Monday event covered a kind of super-programme which has seven strands. Yesterday we worked on just one strand which has an educational slant and where Francis is in a leading-role. It seemed to go OK but we have to work quite hard on the follow up to that in the next few days. Whats more we need to keep ourselves clear about the various levels - which may be quite a challenge. This one of the seven its really quite complex in itself - especially as our job is to do with creating actionable programme structure.
After the show I got Francis to give me a lift to the station and I got the train to Oxford where I met Laurence. In fact I had half an hour to spend and so I went to Richter and asked them about hi-fi amps with alternative speaker switching. It turn out that this is quite an up-scale requirement. Anyway I got the Cambridge Audio. It is destined for Gfd where the amp has to drive either or both the kitchen speakers or ones in the lounge. The old tuner amp has given up the ghost and currently two rigs are standing in which can be better used elsewhere. This is especially true of a Yamaha 50 watts a side studio power amp which used to retail at three hundred pounds. I also want to get the Bose speakers out of the kitchen and replace them with something cheaper with a less demanding spec. The Bose need to go with the Yamaha on more serious business - on the end of my Tascam mixer.
Laurence and I went to see an exhibition in the bar of a local cinema which has a lot of material by his daughter Flo and some of her friends. The three I liked best by Flo are on stretched canvas unframed. They use photograph fragments - parts of faces and bits of meat. Then there is some abstract paint stuff (acrylic) round the fragments and quite a lot of bare canvas. If you had to start somewhere you might start with Bacon’s screaming pope. I suggested to Flo later that she look at Philip Guston.
Then we went across the road to the Branca restaurant and ate and then back to his. Flo was home and on the way back we picked up Ed who is Flo’s younger bro. Flo has a band called Deguello and she uses a Fender twin reverb which I have yet to track down. She uses this with a lap steel. Ed also has a band in which he plays drums.
Flo’s elder bro is Ben and he is in Winnebago Deal who on some European Tour supporting some prestige US band or other. I know they have supported the Foo Fighters in the past. WD have a CD with SONY which was recorded in Seattle. Behind me as I write in the WD 24 track Tascam mixer which I rather covet and also a Simon and Patrick Luthier 6 string which is Ben’s. Ben used the Tascam to record Deguello recently - he has access to an 8 track reel to reel which he thinks is important for texture. I haven’t heard the Deg material yet although I have heard a lot of WD on CD. Apparently WD have a relationship with Marshall which means they don’t pay for amps. I have never come across a band in that fortunate position before. Something is on the cards between WD and Queens of the Stone Age.
I showed Laurence some films. I started with ‘ A short introduction to Kylie Aesthetics for the general viewer.’ This seems to go down well and people get the jokes. Maybe it should be my general introduction.
Then I showed him Two Faces and Ribcurve (distorted place to be) which are the two which Gilbert liked and are quite early.
L also seemed to like the latest NYC0303 which will probably be called Ronson Equals. The verbal content is actually quite strongly pitched towards L. Looking at it again a couple of times I liked the way it worked up to the first proposition which comes quite a long way in. Properly installed this will lul the audience into a bit of a trance through abstraction before they get to the philosophical logic and the reference to dogs in France.
I also played L the CD which arrived yesterday which was recorded in the middle of 1971 at the Fillmore East - as part of its final series of concerts. It was done on 3 mikes to 7 ips stereo and has been carefully restored.
Its just solo Laura Nyro and a Steinway and a suitably entranced audience.
It opens with a debut - American Dove - which I certainly have never heard before. Its on the way to the LP she did with Gamble and Huff and Labelle and so it has several covers - Up on the Roof, Dancing In the Street, Spanish Harlem. Walk On By and You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman.
Its surprising that the latter comes off given that Aretha plays her own piano on the signature version.
One of my favorites is I Am The Blues which I always thought was later. This appears on Smile which I think was recorded in 1974 and in my mind has always aligned very directly with Pink Moon - on account of my buying them both at the same time and them both obviously being ‘about’ things today circa 1975. The band on Smile is astonishing - Les Freres Breckers for example. I think the 1971 version is still in development as far as the lyrics are concerned but there are some kicking lines eg the one about her ‘love for sale shoes’. Also much of the 1975 grand structure seems to be in place.
There is also a very successful version of the song on the 2nd side of Christmas and the Beads of Sweat which Alice Coltrane plays on. This is called here, Map to the Treasure but I think it also contains Upstairs by A Chinese Lamp. These pieces are strangely resilient. You might have thought that the studio versions had captured some essence which couldn’t be replicated. However, there is a good version on the tribute album towards the end of Chinese Lamp with no vocals at all.
Listening to this solo piano it has become clear to me that in as much as my piano-style has any substance a lot of it comes from LN, not least because I do, for example, Up On the Roof, Dancing in the Street and Walk On By. Needless to say the M&M reference back to Brill Building is looming large.
The cellophane is still on From A Mountain Stage. I don’t even know who is on this but you can tell from the setlist that it is from the late phase of LN. It opens with Heebie Jeebies which opens Walk the Dog and Light the Light and has Japanese Restaurant which is a slice of much later life and on one of the last two live albums which I think are late 80s.
Talking of the tribute album, Suzanne Vega is coming to Warwick soonish - she does a really good version on the tribute album of the one which opens with ‘cocaine and quiet beers’ - I think its called Buy and Sell. I was surprised when I got the 1966 original of this. Its preposterous that someone still in her teens should write a song like that.
There is a pattern here - you hear a LN and say ‘oh she must have written this in 19XY’. Then you discover it was written 5 or 10 years earlier.
The Fillmore set is as high octane as anything else you can think of from the LN oeuvre - honestly I cant think of any other songwriter who can just sit down at a piano and do that thing.