Wow, its mad today. In the last 2 hours I have learned of the deaths of Michael Jackson, Sky Saxon and Farah Fawcett. Farah, God bless her, meant very little to me. She was a glamourpuss from a trashy highly entertaining 70s girl cop show, and nothing more to me. But she is very famous. But then Michael Jackson- and I know this will be old news by the time you get it but please stay with me. I was really shocked by that, still am. I was in a bar a couple of hours back when the news broke, people swarmed around the tv in disbelief, totally shocked. Then some callous jocks were making remarks as you might expect. It is a shock, when someone who has intruded into our consciousness to this extent, dies. I foresaw it. That's not, some psychic gift (although I know when a car crash is coming, and can avoid them because of precognition). But no. Its massive news, and the media were already having a field day a short while after the story broke.
The Jackson Five
I had thought about MJ quite a bit, as a musician, performer and entity. Like many serious pop fans, I have always liked the Jackson 5. I know Noel Gallagher rates them, Ian Brown seemed to like them. Johnny Marr perhaps. Their bubblegum late 60s/early 70s Tamla sides were incredible pop. Great songs, sound, singing and musicianship, great production. Then there was disco material, like the beautiful Show You The Way To Go, with MJ looking beautiful too, as an untouched natural young man. He could dance, sing, he had everything. I do not warm so readily to the 80s material, although there was Don't Stop Till You Get Enough, formidable enough not to have to apologise to anyone, being a top notch pop side. Then the big hit singles, produced by soul brother Quincy Jones. Billie Jean strikes me as a really excellent record. It was very simple with incredible orchestral flourishes which had a distinctly cinematic bent, befitting an enormous hit record by the world's top singing star. Ofcourse there were other massive hits, which defined the times and I think it is fair to say, he made the best mainstream pop records of the day, and as such probably deserved the success. But what happened then? He became known as an increasingly eccentric and erratic figure, better known for his antics than current releases. How many face jobs was he having, and all that stuff about having his own theme park, while being in essence a lonely figure. He seemed increasingly emasculated, then there was the film of him dangling the baby out of a window, and shaking violently while being interviewed. There were ofcourse other unfortunate episodes. But I always hoped, but never seriously believed, he would make another great record. What if, say, he had recorded with Lenny Kravitz, with a bunch of good songs? He could have worked with anyone, and I fail to understand how he somehow lost touch with musical greatness. It seemed an inexorable downward spiral. It is such a tragic story ending as I more than half expected.
But what has really not sunken in, is the news I got on returning from the bar of the death of Sky Saxon. I didn't think Sky would 'go'. When you hear my record She She Spider you will realise how much Sky's music meant to me. So, what happened to him , I don't know. I loved him, I did. He was fantastic. And I am glad I sent him a message not long ago, saying I thought he was a genuinely good person who wanted good things for the world. He apparently loved dogs, and seemed to talk about them at any given opportunity, apparently believing God had put him here to help dogs, or something like this. He was very into mysticism, very much a product of the mid 1960s acid orientated alternative 'spirituality'. Now that is a controversial term, and I will state I had no empathy with Sky's type of systems. But we're getting into deep water here, suffice to say I went down a similar road to Sky's and got my toes burned. Off. All that Leary stuff, forget it. But I loved Sky, actually and am very sad to hear he is no longer with us. In fact my very latest (as yet unreleased) recording is indebted to his last but one fuzztone meets Farfisa sound, as well as the one I made before. The latter-day Seeds were brilliant live with the organ, and fuzztone guitar played through an AC30- check my records next year for Sky's reflection. RIP brother Sky, you made the coolest garage sounds of all. Here's a great clip of the great man with the original Seeds. Gassy!
So this goes a fair way to telling you about what I've been up to with Village Green Machine. Last week I set out to make a record with just fuzztone guitar and Farfisa, which is coming together. It is called Bored With Being Ignored, and is addressed to persons it would be undiplomatic to name.This song is also based on the Sonics 'Have Love Will Travel', I made a new riff up influenced by that song. Then put a Seeds type instrumentation to it. So its a garage rocker, into which I put a middle eight which contrasts sharply with the other, aggressive lyrics. I wanted to create a sense of beauty in the song too, so I have a fairy with gossamer wings and a Midas Touch entering the scene. Not a, male fairy. What are you laughing at? I mean a real fairy, wafting in and transforming my ... oh well its wasted on you brutes but you get the idea.
We are releasing a Village Green Machine single before long. We're sorting the track listing, there will be a new song called Believe In Love plus another as yet undecided upon, although chances are there will be 2 tracks not on England's Dreaming Spires. Believe In Love reminds me of Smokey Robinson's Going To A Go Go, rhythmically, and has a strong James Brown influence too. The guitars are psychedelic and experimental, surrealistic and crazy. The bass booms like an old jukebox 45, and the vocal is very soul influenced. It sounds incredible.
Also, we are still working on a video. We've got the story line, I want it to be great like I want everything I do to be great, but we've never done one before. We are having to learn everything as we go along- how to design a website and work with the new technology, how to rediscover old sounds and recording techniques, how to produce, engineer and market music in the modern age. Its a lot. Hello to everyone who had bought the CD or downloaded - I hope vinyl by VGM is on the way, its my big wish to do this and there are beautiful artwork ideas. We'll see, I want to make it happen.
This blogzine now looks like being a fortnightly thing- come back soon for the next one.
All the best