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Friday, 30 June 2017

There's no such thing as a record worth stealing

This is a blog post about security and music.

Nothing fancy - no elaborate advice about how to safeguard your music files against cyber-attack or anything like that. Just some very basic observations, all rather material and old-fashioned. Like noting how (some) charity shops put strips of sellotape on their CDs to deter you from stealing the discs rather than coughing up your greasy £1 for a copy of The White Stripes' Elephant or whatever.

When I worked in a record shop in the mid-1980s we'd get quite a few opportunist grab-it-and-leg-it shoplifters bursting out of the doors in a sudden dramatic flurry of activity. We staff, poor harried individuals trying to shrinkwrap 250 Whitney Houston LPs as soon as our little hands could get it done, would be summoned to give chase. Oh what fun! We'd charge through the pedestrianised streets of this Midlands city, scaring shoppers, scattering pigeons and as far as I can remember never catching the fleet-footed thief. 

Looking back I'm glad we didn't. If they wanted that bloody Bruce Springsteen cassette so badly - good luck to them. But still, the security-heavy routine would continue. A low-wage, uniformed security guard on the door. Information circulated about who to look out for among the "shoplifter gangs".

Is music so valuable? Do we need to "protect" it so vigilantly? I dunno, could it be we've got our priorities ever so slightly wrong ...?

Thoughts like these came to me the other day when I attempted a little bit of breaking and entering of my own. Having borrowed some CDs from a local library (yeah I'm old-school like that), I got home to find the librarian had forgotten to take the bloody security tabs out. Should I plod all the way back to the library? Er, no. Far better to just gently tease the tabs out. Except, 20 sweaty minutes later I'd half-destroyed two CD cases by hacking away with a screwdriver and pen-knife. Ruined! What to tell the library? Naturally, being too embarrassed to admit the truth, I ended up going back with a cock-and-bull story about losing them, offering to pay for replacements. See, kids - crime of any sort definitely doesn't pay.

Meanwhile, back in the world of legitimately-owned personal music collections, I know someone with a large number of reggae records who's forever fretting that somebody's going to break into his place and steal them. I can't see it. Records are surprisingly heavy and, well, just records. Do people break into houses to steal vinyl (even allowing for the ridiculous prices new-style "connoisseur" shops like Flashback Records charge for this stuff)? Surely not. 

But that's (sort of) my point. People invest a bit too much value in musical artefacts - the "rare" vinyl, the limited-edition this or that. Most people don't want your music. They've got their own - which they almost certainly think is better than yours anyway. Charity shops can probably afford to have a few CDs stolen without getting all uptight about it - after all, most of their stuff's donated to them. And my local library can probably manage without using super-secure CD cases. Bloody hell - it's only a ten-quid Punk 45: There Is No Such Thing As Society compilation - it's not a gold bar!

Stolen records: we're all over-valued products now 

The Punk 45 comp is good actually and I don't mind having now paid £10.50 for it (50p being the original loan fee). Fine. I'm enjoying hearing music from The Cigarettes, The Swell Maps and the Prefects. And if ever some perfidious punk-thief should gain unauthorised access to my flat and run off with it ... well, I guess I'll cope. In fact, I'll probably just shout after them: "Oi, don't you know? There's no such thing as a record worth stealing!"


Thursday, 29 June 2017

The real tough guy, Noisepod #12 (June 2017)

So there I am, idly scanning a Guardian interview with Kraftwerk's Ralf Hütter, when I see the following remark from Hütter:

Basically, nothing has changed. It’s still all about composition. And for the last 50 years, it has always been like this. There have always been speakers all around - radio speakers, televisions. A little more [now], but then again … it’s about the intensity. All the rest is just noise.”

Yeah, and that's what this blog is about - noise. So don't diss it Mr Hütter! As it happens, the rather dull Kraftwerk "legend" seems to have little interest in much outside his own self-regarding world (Twitter, for example, is "basically … very banal") and you get the feeling he's absorbed too much of the adulation surrounding Kraftwerk to retain much objectivity or curiosity. Ah, the fate of all successful musicians ...

Or, looking again, is Hütter actually just saying it's the music that matters not the medium (whether it's streamed on a phone or listened to on an ancient hi-fi or whatever)? Er, could be, and if so ... I agree. Whether you're listening to Trans-Europe Express or the latest Niluccio on noise podcast, it's the music not the mode that matters.

And speaking of the latest Niluccio on noise podcast, here's one I prepared earlier .... It's the very embodiment of Hütter's "all the rest is noise". Indeed, it's all noise! But don't be swayed by Hütter's pejorative use of "noise". Noise is life. And in this, I am right and he is wrong. I'm the real tough guy ...

1: Regimen, Jag tvättar
2: Death Pedals, Count of none
3: Perspex Flesh, Passing through
4: Gehenna, Baptized in fallout
5: Fallas, Mercenarios de la muerte
6: Warxgames, Sick inside
7: The real tough guy
8: Siberian Ass Torture, Nothing came to me
9: No Form, Goddess of fire
10: Grey Hairs, Man is a kitchen
11: Eskro, Soldados desechables
12: Polo Pepo Y La Sociedad Corrupta, Chavo marginado
13: The voice of America
14: Suppression, Cowboys from Yale
15: Amorous Dialogues, Be reasonable
16: Enforcers, Unto dust
17: Part Chimp, Bad boon
18: Socialite, Banned for life
19: You are interested in the unknown
20: Skinny Girl Diet, Teenage wolf pack
21: Straight Forward, IOXME
22: The Abominable Ski-Mask, Runaway slave part II
23: Ataraxia, Loop
24: Hey Colossus, Wired_brainless
25: You've come to the right guy
26: Thunderbirds, Flying saucers
27: Woolf, December
28: Condemn The Infected, Deny existence
29: Toska, Off track betting
30: White Christian Disaster, Moral values worth a dime
31: I got in my truck
32: Sex Pistols, Just me (I wanna be me)
33: Swerve, Submission
34: Unit Pride, Friendship
35: Flipper, Living for the depression

Friday, 16 June 2017

What it takes to survive, Dubpod #18 (June 2017)

So yeah, my efforts to disentangle the lyrics of Ranking Tiger's No Wanga Gut aren't going that well. "No wanga gut, no wanga belly, licky licky / No wanga gut, no wanga belly, nyamy nyamy / No licky licky, no nyamy nyamy, too greedy / No licky licky, no nyamy nyamy, soon poison."

Say what? Jamaican patois, eh? And what does Wikipedia have to say on the matter? The following: "Jamaican Patois features a creole continuum (or a linguistic continuum): the variety of the language closest to the lexifier language (the acrolect) cannot be distinguished systematically from intermediate varieties (collectively referred to as the mesolect) or even from the most divergent rural varieties (collectively referred to as the basilect)."

Hmm. All clear now? Anyway, I think it's fair to say that patois has its origins in surviving (or trying to) the experience of slavery. It's a language of survival. It's what it takes to survive ...

1: Gregory Isaacs, Lonely dub
2: Bob Andy & Mad Professor, Tribal war dub
3: Mudie's All Stars, Red red red dub
4: Johnny Clarke, Crazy bald head
5: Barrington Levy, Hammer
6: What it takes to survive
7: Acre & Filter Dread, Blood artist
8: Gladstone Anderson All Stars, War dance dub
9: Yabby You, Chant Jah victory (version)
10: King Tubby's, Dub from the roots
11: Negritage, Anti-greedy version
12: Welcome to lab 257
13: Lion Youth, Prette little girl
14: Tony Tuff, No warrior
15: Scratch & The Upsetters, Underground
16: Scientist, Landing
17: Herbert Chang, Coming of Jah version
18: I am a princess
19: Clifton Giggs & The Selected Few, Brimstone and fire
20: Jah Martin & The Upsetters, Kung fu part 1
21: Tiger & Admiral Bailey, No wanga gut
22: Where could I find the will to live?
23: Kode9 & The Spaceape, Kingstown
24: Trinity, Real ranking
25: Jah Shaka, Vision dub
26: Moodie, Going to Africa

Friday, 9 June 2017

Band for four years, Podcast #142 (May 2017)

Welcome to Podcast #142. You are indeed very welcome. In this emporium of aural delights you will find many of those rare and alluring sounds you've long been looking for.  There are slow songs and there are fast ones. There are compositions in a multitude of languages. There is even a song from a band who have been together for four years. (Fancy that).

But if you don't find what you're searching for in this modest palace of sound, then ... er, you must go elsewhere. Where? Try M Kessler's Hardware shop ...

1: Comme Jospin, Pinçon
2: Heather B, Live MC
3: Washer, ? (Silent Barn, New York 7/5/17)
4: Voyeur, Summer in the city
5: Pisse, Alt sein
6: Isabel Nogueira, Inner voices
7: Fallas, Tortura taurine
8: Tim Woulfe, Slow burying
9: Dave Clark Five, Mighty good loving
10: We’ve been a band for four years
11: Phibes, We run tingz
12: Negative Rage, Live in pain
13: Carl Perkins, Blue suede shoes
14: King Imagine, GM 45
15: Negritage, Stuck in a Babylon
16: Angel Olsen, Unfucktheworld
17: POST, Sem vergenha
18: Mo Rooneh, Track 06
19: Phactor 8, Acid rocker
20: Wiley, Scar
21: Anna McLellan, ? (Silent Barn, New York 7/5/17)
22: Lietoofine, Ergot
23: Larry White & Daddy Marcus, See them coming (dub)
24: Oso El Roto, Vagin de Jim Carrey