Archive for March, 2011

La Roux Gold Edition — music CD

March 23, 2011

[Bill]

We have here a most modern thing. It is a music CD that exists only due to popular demand from Amazon online customers. It, the CD, was originally released online in MP3 format. But there was a clamour for a CD version and Amazon, never being ones not to be keen to make money, when they could, within a week, or so, announced an on demand CD for their customers would be produced.

It is La Roux’s rumoured remix compilation named after their recent and extremely successful “Gold Tour”. There are ten tracks on the album. And arguably the best review is on Amazon itself so I suggest you go there for specifics. For non specifics, stay tuned here.

La Roux start out with an amusing, and a bit shocking, version of “In for the kill” featuring the enfant terrible, Kanye West, who is in full form, and is not to be missed. It is at least memorable. One could hear the cringing when it was first announced, but then Elly is not Taylor Swift. Reportedly, after the [quite successful] recording session in NYC, both artists socialized over drinks, cigarettes and stories. Full stop indeed.

I must say that the Caribbean inspired version of Quicksand on track 6 is very well done with interesting and amusing synth bits in and out of the bars. Lead singer Elly Jackson is not above a bit of humour, drama and irony. And it owes [more than a bit] to the original “You’re not my toy” that was written ostensibly with the intent of being “if you will, somewhat less white”.

“Tigerlily” is a demo that has again high powered synthesizers which I feel are used to great effect and success and complementing Elly’s falsetto. We are then treated to a seemingly contradictory version of “Bulletproof” as the penultimate track which is a simple piano solo and Elly in non-falsetto mode recorded at the old Abby Road studios. Remember them? Very bluesy indeed.

The final track is another unusual single un-layered synthesizer and Elly again in bluesy mode in “In for the kill”, proving the versatility of these songs and the quality of Elly’s voice. Amazing, just amazing.

Bill Littlefield

Power of Art by Simon Schama

March 18, 2011

[Bill]

I venture to say that almost everyone has had a teacher or professor whose classes they can recall as if they were yesterday. That person who you really loved going to class to listen to and then maybe afterwards actually got to speak with for a moment or two before the next class began. I had such a prof in 1974-76. His name is John O. Voll and I mention him because he imbued me with a love of History. He is one of those rare people who could and doubtless still makes anything interesting. Now at Georgetown he is a wholly remarkable educator.

Of a slightly younger generation is Simon Schama. He too has an ability to explain things in a way that make the seemingly dry and dead come as alive and as interesting as tonight’s 6 o’clock news. Schama is an art historian who has made it big oddly enough on the small TV screen and in DVD and book format for his magisterial A History of Britain [2000-2003] and several other series and in then 2006 with his Power of art. Power of art is a collection of eight episodes either in video or print format.

Schama has the ability inform, surprise, occasionally shock, and to do the unforgivable in the art world, appealing to the interested but non artista person who has the interest but not the time to expend as to why artist Z did painting A or sculpture B. He explains so that you want to know why.

Schama is quite correct when he states that “Great art has dreadful manners”, as often do / did the artists themselves. Kurt Vonnegut certainly an artist himself famously said that “artists are society’s canaries in the coal mine”.  It could be argued and perhaps successfully that the artists in Power of Art were no canaries. This is strong stuff and powerful work. And Schama lets us know it. I find it an excellent compilation. You are almost certain to find one work by an artist that you know of. And then? Enjoy.

bill littlefield

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

March 3, 2011

[Tricia]

In this powerful, well-written book,  Eggers tells the true story of Zeitoun, a successful Syrian born contractor in New Orleans, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  While his wife and four children left New Orleans for safety, Zeitoun stayed behind to protect his business and home, and to help in any way he could.   His story is inspiring, at times horrifying, and unforgettable.