April 19, 2004
"Today, the U.S. Embassy in London refused Phil Mogg, UFO's lead singer, a Work Permit Visa. As you may know, without a Work Permit Visa, no non-American is able to work (i.e. performing a commercial concert) in the United States. This seriously impacts our upcoming U. S. tour (April 22 through May 16, 2004)
"The band members all applied for their Work Permits (as usual) several weeks before the U. S. tour was to begin. Their Work Permits were approved and ISSUED on March 9, 2004 by the Bureau Of Citizenship and Immigration Services, located in the United States. Due to the new immigration and Work Permit laws, it is now also necessary for the applicant to attend a personal interview, in his home country, at the U.S. Embassy. During Phil's interview, today, in London, England, his name turned up in the government computer. The comment was that 'at some time in the past' his finger prints were taken while in the USA. When, where and why was not disclosed.
"It is true, Phil's finger prints were taken in the USA 24 years ago (!!) in Buffalo, New York. The Immigration Authority did not think, at that time, his Visa was adequate so this fingerprinting occurred. His Visa was then reissued, straight away, and everything was in order. During the intervening 24 years, Phil has returned to the USA 12 times on Work and Visitors Visas. Unfortunately, the only thing that matters now is that finger prints were taken. Under current immigration law, whether impacted by the war or not, a person having been finger printed promptly ceases the Visa clearance process.
Finger prints now have to be retaken from Phil. They are sent to the FBI and, according to the information we have been given, only when the FBI gives their approval, will it be possible for Phil to acquire a Work Permit Visa. This procedure, the Embassy advises, can take from 2 to 12 weeks.
The band is, therefore, forced to postpone its tour until this matter is resolved.
We all respect that the United States must protect itself. We will, of course, cooperate. We are, however, puzzled and very perplexed at this unhappy last minute surprise.
We hope, with all our hearts, that you will understand and join with us in the rescheduling process."
Peter Knorn (UFO management)
April 01, 2004
Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead during a performance at Madison Square Garden
March 24, 2004
This image of Iggy Pop was made during an interview at the Virgin records office in New York City. I was a bit nervous before the shoot but soon found Iggy to be warm and courteous. After the interview he offered more time for images if I needed it, something no other artist had ever done. I kindly refused while showing him this particular image in the monitor of the digital camera. His response was golden. It ran with the story.
March 18, 2004
Lock the doors, hide your children, Its Back !!!
March 17, 2004
In 1991 Talk Talk released the sonically brilliant yet errily quiet record "Laughing Stock". Considered by some, including this dog, to be one of the crowning musical achievements of the nineties. The talented and wonderfully gifted Julian Cope had this to say about the album.
The music here is lush, but sparse at the same time. Each instrument is engineered to give up it’s most beautiful sounds, but the notes played are minimised. It’s as if the master tapes have been left near a magnet and most of what was actually played has been erased, leaving the mind to fill in the gaps: The first 20 seconds of the CD version are tape hiss. The instrumentation on ‘Myrrman’, which includes wind and string sections, recalls Miles Davis’s ‘Sketches of Spain’, but we’re in much more nebulous territory here. The air is being gently and meticulously coloured with sound. Then ‘Ascension Day’ crashes in with a loud guitar line before setting us down into a Liebezeit-alike cymbal-heavy drum groove with surges of one of the most gorgeous organ sounds committed to record. That guitar keeps crashing in and eventually builds up to a mighty crescendo which never happens, because the whole thing is rudely edited and stops leaving the ears ringing, only to be gently settled with an organ drift-piece called ‘After the Flood’. Mark Hollis’s voice has got to be one of the most effortlessly beautiful male voices in music, but with the restraint to avoid histrionics at all costs. That’s pretty much the rub with this album: the best sounds and melodies aren’t repeated – blink and you miss them. In more clumsy (or commercially aware!) hands whole songs would be built around the repetition of these moments. ‘Taphead’ is simply a guitar being intermittently picked with Mark singing in his near-whisper, hinting at the style he would later pursue on his recent solo album. Then we’re in ‘Spirit of Eden’ territory: all the instruments hint at a blues but are just on the verge of dissonance. It’s a delicate balancing act. ‘New Grass’ strikes a note of optimism and marks the track most approaching what most people would call a properly fleshed-out song. We’re in redemption territory now, a recurring theme in music made by smackheads (see: Spiritualised, Velvet Underground’s third album, Dr John…). ‘Runeii’ is a simple guitar and piano tune with a whispered, almost hidden vocal. This actually reminds me of the quiet bits on ‘Neu!75’ or Eno’s ‘Another Green World’, but in atmosphere rather than sonic resemblance.
You can find Mr Cope's entire review here.
The recording remains just as fresh and relevant some thirteen years after its release. Its hard to imagine bands like Radiohead. Sigor Ros, and Coldplay not absorbing some of Laughing Stock's magic along the way. If you haven't listened to this masterpiece, do yourself a favor, set aside forty minutes, crank it and get lost in its breathless beauty.
March 14, 2004
Shadows and Tall Trees
As the seventies gave way to a new decade the young and uniquely gifted producer Steve Lillywhite reshaped the moment's sonic vocabulary with his contributions to such groundbreaking albums as U2's 1980 debut "Boy", XTC's 1979 "Drums and Wires" and 1980 "Black Sea", The Psychedelic Furs 1981 "Talk Talk Talk", Simple Minds 1982 "New Gold Dream", plus others.
Lillywhite's decision to forgo cymbals on Peter Gabriel's 1980 Third release is a wonderful example of his influence. He once heard from Robert Fripp that cymbals compete with the frequencies of a guitar. So he and Gabriel stripped them completely away. The resulting dark sparse landscape amplified by its huge overly gated drums ripped its way right into the heart of the eighties.
Lillywhite chooses the musicians he works with carefully. He breaks down artists into three categories; great musicians, great performers, and those with great taste. Listen to his work and you realize that he is a man blessed with impeccable taste choosing those with similar artistic sensibilities. His true gift, which goes beyond the realm of music, is harvesting the creative fire in each artist.
"I'm not a dictator and I like quite a loose atmosphere in the studio. If people are enjoying themselves they are going to perform better. I have to make sure I'm able to get on with a band before I work with them, because I want to make a good job of it. My job is to bring out what is inside them, and when I first meet a band I'll go through each member individually and work out their weak points. It may not be anything to do with the music - one person might be nervous and unsure of themselves, and another may have a lot of good ideas but find it hard to express them. in that way I'm a bit like a psychiatrist because I have to decide how best to treat the individual."
After his influential work in the eighties Lillywhite found himself in demand by some of music's heaviest hitters. The Rolling Stones, Talking Heads, Dave Matthews Band, Morrissey and Sinead O'Connor.
February 16, 2004
Instant iPudding, The Death of The Album
A recent post at aworks started me thinking about itunes and its imminent effect on the death of albums. I must admit, I love itunes. The ability to have all my music a click away is truly remarkable. Plus, I too have fallen for the random play feature.
The industry looks at the Internet as this dastardly monster, but the reality is kids just took advantage of it to get what they want: singles, not albums."
I found this extremely depressing. This new impatient generation. Have we ingrained quicker, faster, drive through and sound bite so squarely on their psyche that they literally do not have time for the art of discovery. The discovery is what an album is about and we should make time for the journey. I usually find that after repeated listens to most albums that the tracks with the most depth were the ones that unfolded over time.
My fear is that the music industry, or evil doers as i like to think of them, will begin to think why should we pay a band tons of money to sit in a studio and produce fifteen songs when we're only going to market one or two. Its going to be interesting to see how it sorts out. Will record companies only sign artists for eleven songs instead of three albums. The artist will have even fewer freedoms to push the creative process.
One other thought, Being an artist, I know how much blood sweat and tears can go into the production of an album. It is somewhat frustrating that the end result will be a compressed MP3 spit out on tiny headphones. Roll over Beethoven.