Friday, April 14, 2006

The Art Of Noise A-Z Of Music: Q

Rather later than anticipated - sorry...

Q is for …

... Qbert (Del)

Wiki, wik, wik wikawaaaaarrrrrghhhh!

Ever since Grand Wizard Theodore moved the record back and forth against the needle and realised it made a cool noise, scratching has been a part of hip hop. And top of the scratching tree are the Invisibl Skratch Piklz. And the best of all the Piklz is DJ Qbert. When not being named after an 80s video game character, he answers to the name Richard Quitevis, hails from San Francisco and is Filipino American. And he can make noises with records that will make your head spin.

He's simply the best. He and the Piklz had to "retire" from the DMC World Championships to give someone else a chance to win. He made one of the first albums ever consisting solely of scratching, Wave Twisters. You can also see him in action in the great documentary Scratch, where he cuts it up amongst the such esteemed company as DJ Shadow, Mix Master Mike and Cut Chemist. But Qbert is the don dadda of them all. Wikiwikiwaaargh!

How come whenever I try it the tone arm shoots off the record? Curse these clumsy Anglo-Saxon digits...

... quality control (Jez)

Blokes in the pub everywhere: “Yeah, they WERE good. But their later stuff was shite”. And it’s usually true, whoever the artist is.

Of course there are various reasons for this. Perhaps success breeds contempt for the audience. Maybe the new lifestyle brings amnesia regarding the miserable life the band was trying to escape from. Just listen to the new Streets album, and there won’t be any prizes for guessing that the next Hard-fi album will be on a similar subject, although I defy anyone to actually research that one. I’ll be watching Dizzee Rascal’s next move with particular interest, and also Radiohead’s. In the case of the latter they have indulged in constant reinvention with sustained quality. Think of the amount of people who’ve tried that and failed: Prince, David Bowie, Lou Reed, The Clash. In fact almost anyone who has tried invention has suffered from it.

Well, almost. Think of The Beatles. Even Ringo’s cameos acted as a jovial counterpoint to music so boundary-pushing that it must have come as light relief. I can only think of a couple of songs in their later work that show real lapses: 'Maxwell’s Silver Hammer' and 'Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da'. Both are written by McCartney, which perhaps explains the fluctuations in his later career - some really good stuff, a lot of 'Frog Chorus'es. Lennon also floundered although he didn’t seem to suffer from a lack of quality control in his solo stuff, just a lack of quality.

Perhaps it helped that The Beatles were incredibly prolific, then split up, then started dying. Death is always the best method of quality control. If Morrissey had gone the same way as Ian Curtis we wouldn’t have to put up with endless “returns to form”. The same goes for Stevie Wonder who hasn’t made a decent record since 1981. Marketing departments’ last refuge is the “return to form”. Whenever we see the phrase we know Neil Young has missed the mark again. However, if that’s the label then maybe we should celebrate the fact these people have made some bloody great records during their lives.

Others adopt the monkey / typewriters approach – if what you do all day is write songs then you must finally come up a good one. Apt then that U2’s is actually called ‘One’. Call in the quality controllers boys. Or the Grim Reaper.

… Queen (Paul)

Queen stole the show at Live Aid in 1985. They weren't the biggest band on the bill, but by the end of the evening there was only one band that everyone was talking about.

Founded in the early 70s by students Brian May and Roger Taylor, the band grew as they were introduced to Freddie Mercury and successfully recruited John Deacon following an advert they placed looking for a bass player.

Despite a handful of previous albums, it was 1975's A Night At The Opera which was to feature the song that would come to define the band. Earlier works, including the Seven Seas Of Rye, had hinted at a dramatic, theatrical beast waiting to be unleashed, but it wasn't until 'Bohemian Rhapsody' was bequeathed on an unsuspecting world that Queen finally announced their arrival on the grand stage. Complete with one of the first music videos, the song grew (primarily a result of the patronage of then Radio 1 DJ Kenny Everett) and steadily climbed its way up the charts, and into the consciousness of the nation.

Further records followed, as Queen became one of the largest bands on the planet throughout the remainder of the 70s and 80s. However, with such an outrageous, mesmeric frontman, they were always destined to be dogged by some controversy.

Their cross-dressing video for the single 'I Want To Break Free', which memorably featured Roger Taylor as a schoolgirl and Mercury in tight PVC skirt whilst still sporting his trademark moustache, was to alienate their firmly heterosexual American fan base, a market they never really recovered until the 90s.

By that stage, Mercury had become a victim of his rock and roll lifestyle. The years of cocaine-fuelled promiscuity finally took their toll, and on 23rd November 1991, Freddie Mercury announced to the world that he had contracted AIDS. He died the next day, leaving a part-finished album to be honed and released posthumously.

By the time of his death, Queen, with Mercury at the forefront, had risen to the pinnacle of the UK music scene, with a large and impressive back catalogue to their name.

Ironically, one of the defining Queen moments actually took place after Mercury's death, with 1992's 'Wayne's World' breathing new life into 'Bohemian Rhapsody', and revitalising their appeal in America in the process.

Mercury's death was in some ways a mixed blessing. Regrettably it deprived the world of a supremely talented singer and frontman but equally it spared the nation the horrible spectre of the band carrying on way beyond their prime, playing increasingly smaller venues to increasingly ageing crowds (a la Status Quo). Sadly, this hasn't stopped Taylor and May doing something similar. However, at least Mercury will always be remembered for his show stealing Live Aid performance, and not as a bloated old man making repeatedly ill-advised attempts to remain fashionable to today's youth.

... 'Queen Bee' – Barbra Streisand (RussL)

I'm kept awake most nights wondering why Barbra Streisand isn't considered cool. The spelling of her name was clearly an early tentative experiment in text-message-style vowel exclusion. You would think that she'd be a hero to the young, wouldn't you?

'Queen Bee', anyway, is from the 1976 Streisand / Kristofferson soundtrack album A Star Is Born, and is definitely one of the more overlooked gems in the cannon of popular music. Listen to it and I'm sure you'll be shocked. You'll get your first surprise when you realise that Streisand sounds sassy. You'll get your second surprise when you realise that Streisand sounds CONVINCINGLY sassy.

She's helped no end by the accompaniment, of course. The Oreos' r'n'b duo styled backing vocals help the tune to slink along, while stabs of brass add a bit of drama. The horn section does admittedly end up sound a lot more mannered as the song goes on, but it's not enough to spoil anything.

It's the lyrics that really elevate the song to greatness. They're a witty assortment, with multiple rhymes in each line (there's probably a technical term for that. I don't know it.) having the surprising but very effective result of making the whole thing sound that bit more naughty.

"So in conclusion it's an optical illusion if you think that we're the weaker race / Men got the muscle but the women got the hustle and the truth is staring in your face".

Ain't that the truth, fellas?

... Quelqu’un M’a Dit – Carla Bruni (Swiss Toni)

I’ll agree it doesn’t sound all that promising on paper: Italian supermodel releases album of her own compositions sung entirely in French. As sales pitches go, that’s a pretty bad one – right up there with those guys in Deep Blue Sea who thought it would be a good idea to genetically engineer man-eating sharks so that they became more intelligent. After all, what could possibly go wrong? What’s the worst thing that could happen?

There’s a precedent: you might sneer at the very thought of Naomi Campbell releasing a record, but her album (Baby Woman) sold over a million copies worldwide. Alright, maybe the bulk of those sales were in Japan, but a million sales? You can see why a record company might sit up and pay attention when another supermodel posts them a demo tape. I’m sure even Kate Moss would agree that a million sales are not to be sniffed at. As an added bonus, in a world where the best bands are often the ugliest – Arctic Monkeys anyone? - when you sign up a supermodel, you can be reasonably confident that you’ll be getting some half-decent publicity shots…

So your gut feeling is probably telling you that any record by a supermodel is likely to be shit, isn’t it? I’ve not heard a note of Naomi Campbell’s album and yet I’m reasonably confident that it’s one of the worst things ever recorded. Would I consider buying it? Of course not.

It’s against these kinds of preconceptions that Carla Bruni, a model most famous for dating people like Mick Jagger, Donald Trump and Kevin Costner, released her debut album a couple of years ago. What were the chances that it would turn out to be any good?

Well, do you know what? It’s a fantastic album. I don’t own another record that sounds quite like it, but if you forced me to make a comparison, I would say that it sounds a little bit like Norah Jones in French. For my money though, Bruni has a lighter touch and a slightly more mischievous air about her than Jones. My French isn’t really good enough to be able to tell you if the lyrics are very profound, but they do sound great. To my doltish English ears, songs sung in French sound pretty enticing at the best of times, but when paired up with Bruni’s delicious breathy vocals and gentle guitar playing, then the whole thing is irresistible. If I ever see her live then I might just pass out.

One song in particular stands out for me: 'La Derniere Minute', the last song on the album, and consists entirely of Bruni, a guitar and a metronome. It’s exactly one minute long.

Bruni is an utterly convincing chansonnier, and when I listen to the album today, I still find it a delight. I can’t even remember what on earth possessed me to buy this, but I bless the day that I did.

… quick, march (Skif)

If The Verve, Massive Attack and The Bee Gees have managed to teach us anything through their music video work, it is that tunes can often be quite effective when attached to a consistent, mid-tempo gait.

Marching is not just a way of drawing attention to a hypnotic, repetitive rhythm or melody however, it has also been the focus for song, and a genre, if you will, all of its own. It is an essential part of musical life that you cannot escape even in death, there being marches of course for both your matching and despatching. Sadly, as far as I know there is no ‘Birth March’ to round them off but hey ho, the march, in tune or lyrical form can appear almost anywhere.

Football terraces up and down the country have often boomed with the sound of a beered-up choir getting behind their team with ‘When The Saints Go Marching In’. Being a Southampton supporter as a child (before my attention switched elsewhere), it often confused me why opposition fans would be so keen to wish us well. It is of course a religious tune though (marching being a prevalent theme in these, of course, ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ being another example), taking the apocalyptic imagery in its six verses from the Book of Revelations. So the main difference between Portsmouth and Southampton fans would appear then to be that while the former try to enjoy uber-fan John PFC Westwood’s Fratton End bugle, Saints supporters clearly favour the Archangel Gabriel’s trumpet.

It’s not just in football either, but in politics. You can usually get an early indication as to the extent of any particular pressure group’s collective get up and go by examining their chosen method of protest. Sit-in or march though, the tunes will still come barking out of megaphones, but I’ll bet there are plenty more tunes have been written about the more active method of demonstration than the passive.

So, the march has been represented in songs such as ‘I Ain’t Marching Anymore’ and ‘White Boots Marching In A Yellow Land’ by Phil Ochs and Billy Bragg’s ‘Marching Song Of The Convert Battalions’, but the march also gives a method. The marching band, one of them things you used to see during football half-times before penalty competitions were invented. However, in the US, the marching band is still very much allied to the sporting occasion, half-time field shows regularly taking place at American football events, and with the addition of baton twirlers or cheerleaders to add to the spectacle.

Collegiate football field shows have also led to the development of fight songs, which are closely associated with each particular university’s band. Some of the more popular fight songs include Notre Dame’s ‘Victory March’ and the US Naval Academy’s ‘Anchors Aweigh’.

Marching bands as little institutions, of course, developed from the military bands which themselves grew from the fife and drum playing that would see troops into battle. Eventually this developed into something more ceremonial, and many of the traditions have survived in the modern marching bands, as players follow similar orders to troops on display. “Aboooooooooout turn”. Marching bands are usually led by a drum major using a large baton or mace, but the size of bands can vary greatly, but usually focus on adapted percussion instruments. Woodwind and brass are also fairly essential components.

March music was at its height between 1850 and 1940, largely before the coming of the more versatile and innovative jazz sound. Bands were often part of circus events or allied to particular communities or theatres, sometimes giving gazebo concerts and the like. One of the more famous march composers was John Phillip Sousa who composed America’s official march tune ‘Stars And Stripes Forever’. In England, Kenneth Alford was known as the British March King, who wrote what is probably our most famous addition the march canon, ‘Colonel Bogey’.

All together now, “Hitler, has only got one ball…

... quiet (James)

It’s too quiet in here; turn the music on. Quick, dammit. The silence is beginning to swell and vibrate, and suck the light from the room. Quick, I can almost hear the voices…

I have never liked silence. The Tremeloes may have sung that ‘Silence is Golden’, but to me, silence is a dark and frightening shade of murky sub-mariner green. All is fine until I realise it is there, and then my thoughts begin to amplify inside my head and begin to feedback. My wife has suggested that mental illness might be at the heart of this, but since there is a relatively easy solution, I am happy to report that no diagnosis has yet been made.

I sleep with the radio on, and ensure that almost all waking hours are filled with music (as opposed to TV). The dangerous real-world beyond my front door is OK, because that comes with its own soundtrack. For all the potential horror such a lifestyle might engender, it has served me well. It has resulted in my obsessive quest to fill that silence with as many good sounds as humanly possible: CDs for up-days, CDs for rainy days, CDs for can’t-be-arsed days. It has been a long and sometimes arduous mission – sometimes it looks as though there is no end in sight – but I hereby vow that silence will be perpetually ended.

But here is an interesting thought: in the early days, this quest was pursued with vigour. I played anti-quiet music: loud-metal, loud-dance, loud-indie, loud-soul. The common feature of all this music was loudness. Not merely volume, you understand, but also style. Otis Redding was a favourite in my teens, but never the ballads, always ‘Hard to Handle’ or ‘Shake’ or ‘Day Tripper’ and so on.

But somehow, with age, I have found the war change. From bombardments of anti-quiet, a war of subterfuge has developed. Gentler anti-quiet has been employed; calmer, subtler sounds that gently lay upon the quiet – keeping it from rising up. But from the other side, I have noticed that the quiet has begun to infiltrate the very troops marshalled to defeat it. Even clear and definite examples of anti-quiet have succumbed: Roxy Music’s ‘In Every Dream Home...’ falls back into silence for a good ten seconds; sneaky surprise tracks on CDs force you to grapple with silence to find them. I have noticed that at the very heart of some kinds of anti-quiet, silence lurks within – dub-reggae, for example: almost as important as the drum and the bass are the large stretches of silence that separate them.

The quiet, then, may ultimately defeat me. I may have a never-ending series of CDs to wage war with, but the music itself seems to be the weak point. The music gets quieter, and sparser, and spacier, and the quiet creeps in unannounced.

But quick, hang on, the CD has just finished. Let me just pop a new one on before the voices start up again…

... Quiet Is The New Loud – Kings Of Convenience (Pete)

Not quite so much about the album, but rather the New Acoustic Movement as a whole. Frankly, the whole idea of a collective of acoustic bands (or pairs as was frequently the case) annoyed me from the outset. I suppose music journalists had to find a moniker for the assorted bands that emerged in late 1999 and 2000 such as Kings Of Convenience, Ben & Jason, Turin Brakes, I Am Kloot (in 2001) and so on, but the "New Acoustic Movement”? Naaah.

The music press always prefer to simplify matters, hence the all-encompassing terms such as “Britpop” or "trip-hop", the latter of which apparently drove Portishead and Massive Attack nuts. Anyway, I digress. "New Acoustic Movement" was taking this idea too far. It was as if journos thought that a gaggle of Nick Drake wannabes with acoustic guitars who harmonised softly could take on the wave of rubbish nu-metal bands that were around at the same time.

While it might have been a handy term, it conveniently ignored the fact that all the bands included in this "movement" varied so much from each other. The Kings, for example, went for a subtle approach, with bittersweet songs about awkward relationships, while the 'Brakes went for much warmer, almost pop, melodies, but with a hidden spikiness in their lyrics.

Ultimately, it was a short-lived affair. After The Optimist LP, Turin Brakes released another two albums that revealed a barely unchanged style. Ben & Jason went on to write a song for Martine McCutcheon and disappeared off the radar (let that be a lesson to you all). Thankfully, at least Erlend Oye and Eirik Boe took the hint, tiptoed away to Ibiza and back to university respectively and came back again with a richer, fuller sound and a better second album.

Regardless of its longevity, it was refreshing at the time to come across a whole series of bands and artists playing stripped down, quiet reflective music, but the movement wasn't the success that some were hoping it would become. Probably, as the boys from Kings are happy to admit, because "it'll never be a ringtone".

... “quirky” (and other rock hack cliches) (Ben)

(Following on neatly from Pete's piece above...)

A brief glossary of lazy music journalism cliches:

Quirky”: shorthand for “This band can't be pigeonholed because I can't think of anyone else they sound like, and, what's more, they're a bit odd”.

Eclectic”: shorthand for “This band can't be pigeonholed because they combine an incredible variety of different genres and styles in ways I can't get my head around”.

The new X”: shorthand for “X have proved a phenomenal success. Finding a similar band and hyping them up will be almost as lucrative for us as it will be for the record companies. This band are the closest thing we've encountered so far – to hell with their own unique qualities”.

Like X on drugs”: shorthand for “This band are like X, but to the max. And a bit weirder”.

X meets Y”: shorthand for “Well, I can't plausibly describe this band as 'the new X', or even 'like X on drugs', so this will have to do”.

A return to form” (see Jez's piece above): shorthand for “This band have been past their best for years. You've continued to buy the albums but each one has been yet another disappointment. We have to find some way of drumming up interest, though, both for our own sake and for the record companies we kow-tow to”.

Watch this space”: shorthand for “I like this band a lot, or I have been told to hype this band up. They will be back working in McDonalds before the year's out”.

But hang on a minute - I write reviews, and I've probably used all of these terms at one time or another. Enough of the self-flagellation - time to go on the offensive (or at least play devil's advocate).

Bands might hate pigeonholing, but isn't that (to an extent) part of the music journalist's job? You have to find an economical way of describing a band's sound in terms that aren't too obtuse or abstract (I don't mind impressionistic reviews, but those that leave you no clearer about what the record sounds like are ultimately pointless). What better way than to give the reader some familiar touchstones?

And in any case, if these are lazy terms, they're often no more lazy than the bands of which they're used. Bandwagon-jumpers (“the new X”) are legion, while the adjective “eclectic” can be a sly dig (“This band has no idea of what they want to sound like”, “This band somehow thinks that combining rap and rock is like inventing the wheel”).

And then there's “quirky” which, like “wacky”, can be a form of insult to denote the sort of self-conscious and forced attempts at oddity that bands feel they need to set them apart. Often it's about as convincing as the accountancy middle manager wearing his Bugs Bunny tie.

Is it harsh to say that some bands get the cliches they deserve?

... “quite good (Jonathan B)

It was 1985, and I was a gawky teenager growing up in Fenham, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. My life revolved around two regular events: Newcastle home games every second Saturday and, on alternate Wednesdays, the arrival at Coulson’s the newsagents of the new Smash Hits magazine - my gateway to the universe of pop music.

I loved everything about Smash Hits. I loved the language. Any pop star returning to the chart fray after an absence of six months or more would invariably be reported as being “back. Back! Back!!”, and any reference to an amount of money was followed by the words “a snip!”. The ex-lead singer of The Beatles was known as “Paul cheeky chappy fab-four thumbs-aloft McCartney”. I loved the interviews, which employed this patent surreal cheekiness to prick the self-importance of the typical 1980s pop star. Fish of Marillion might be asked “What colour is a Tuesday?”, while Sting would be asked for his considered opinion on who would win a fight between a gazelle and a zebra.

I loved everything about Smash Hits. But most of all I loved the “snippets” page. This was where you read about 7 inch releases from mysterious bands whose records you never seemed to hear on Radio 1 during school lunchbreak. Orange Juice. The Soup Dragons. Half Man Half Biscuit. Despite (or perhaps because of) their curious nomenclature, no-one ever asked these bands what colour they thought a Tuesday was - they were treated with an amount of deference, in fact, that was not always accorded to the likes of Simon Le Bon. You got the idea that these bands with the funny names were the ones that the Smash Hits people (who I thought of as sassy older cousins, versed in the ways of the world) really wanted you to like.

One Wednesday a particular snippet caught my eye. It was a postage-stamp sized picture of a quartet of gawky boys from Hull calling themselves The Housemartins. There was a short interview, in which they explained how they were touring the country but had no money to stay in hotels, so were being put up by fans who they met at gigs - thanking them by giving them a framed picture of the Humber Bridge. They also had badges to give away at their gigs - adorned with the slogan “The Housemartins are quite good”. They had a single out, a jangly guitar affair which they were hoping might do quite well - it was called ‘Happy Hour’.

I don’t know whether the controller of Radio 1 was an avid follower of the Smash Hits snippets page, but the next week something strange happened - Gary Davies played 'Happy Hour' on lunchtime Radio 1. It was an irresistibly catchy jangly guitar tune all right - but also, in the context of these conformist Thatcherite times, thrillingly subversive, pouring scorn on the sort of slick-suited young executives we were just learning to call “yuppies”, in whose world “the haircuts smile and the meaning of style is a night out with the boss”. Needless to say Gary Davies didn’t get the joke. But all over provincial England, a million embryo teenage indiepopsters, looking for an escape from the empty pompousness of the likes of U2, Duran Duran and Simple Minds, pricked up their ears.

The following Saturday we all went to Woolworths to buy this curious-sounding new single, which duly shot into the Top Ten. They showed the video on 'Top Of The Pops', and we saw The Housemartins performing their funny, jerky dance, which incorporated a knock-kneed shimmy reminiscent of Peter Beardsley wrongfooting a clumsy full-back. The whole thing was as far away from Duran Duran as it was possible to get while remaining in the same country, and I, for one, was besotted.

A couple of years later the DJ in JB’s Dudley (I had left Newcastle by then and was a floppy-fringed student at Wolverhampton Polytechnic) played ‘Happy Hour’ on indiepop night and the crowd booed, then shambled sulkily off the dancefloor - the chart-friendly Housemartins, it seems, were too mainstream for their avant-garde tastes. I thought this was unfair - if it wasn’t for these gawky boys from Hull, many of the happening young indie kids might still be sporting Chrissy Waddle hairstyles and pastel-coloured cardigans from BHS, and buying Dire Straits LPs. I know I would have been.

It was The Housemartins, after all, who got jangly, awkward guitar pop onto Steve Wright In The Afternoon, and so paved the way for the likes of The Wedding Present and We’ve Got a Fuzzbox And We’re Going to Use It to launch an assault on the Top Twenty, as the 80s turned to the 90s, and Thatcherism began its long, slow death. Sure, these boys were no Sex Pistols (they didn’t spit at their fans - instead they sipped tea in their living rooms and gave them framed pictures of the Humber Bridge) - but in their own quiet, quirky, and quintessentially English way, this quartet of quaint boys from Hull changed the face of British pop music - at a time when, as the cheeky Smash Hits people knew quite well, it really was in need of a shake-up. You know what? Those badges were right. The Housemartins really were “quite good”.

... quiz (drmigs)

Music, like sport and train-spotting, is so rich with trivia that should you so wish, you could spend the rest of you life in the comfort of your own anorak. Music is an ever-evolving field, with new vibrant activities in many genres; yet it also has a rich history, which being person-centric, makes its minutiae fascinating. There's fact, fiction, rumour, conspiracy theory, stats and gossip enough to satiate many a muso's intrigue. Which makes it the perfect subject for quiz material.

The special thing about the music quiz is that it is the home of the specialists. Whilst the general pub quiz is a broad church of people who fancy that they know a bit about this and that, the music quiz is for a different demographic. In the music quiz, everyone is on their subject of choice, so win lose or draw, it's a fair cop. It attracts this crowd because the pleasure and reward comes from knowing the answers. People who only know the opening bars to Robbie Williams songs don't hang around for more than a couple of quizzes, because 0/10 round after round just isn't any fun. It's not like a general knowledge quiz, where you will always have one good round; if you don't know any music, you just won't score any points. Simple.

However, if you know your stuff, then the rewards are good. Each question you get right is a vindication of your introspective pursuit of musical knowledge. And the challenge is twofold: knowing the answer, and knowing it before the rest of your team. On this latter point, I must admit to a touch of transferred experience. Me, I'm crap at the music quiz, but I'm not bad sports quizzes - and the principles are similar. What it comes down to is that the geeks rise to the top, and knowledge is power. There's no “I've got the fastest car / I've got the prettiest face”; it's “I know Bowie's first single and I know who was the rhythm guitarist in Creme Brulee”. (OK maybe that's a different kind of trivia... ) But the point is that there is a certain type of pleasure that comes from being tested on stuff that you've learnt just because you wanted to.

And then there's the other side to the music quiz, the stuff you didn't know. If you are interested in music trivia, then a question at a music quiz is a win-win scenario. You get a question right, and it's seratonin all round; you get a question wrong, and you learn something new. It's a cosy and wonderful thing.

If you've never sampled the music quiz, you must, because it's a happy place. And the recipe for success (other than knowing everything about music ever)? A good team name (The Illegitimate Love Children Of William G Stewart is always a good fall-back), someone on your team who drinks cider, and someone who wears a coat with a furry hood (especially in summer). Whilst fulfilling these latter requirements won't necessarily win you the quiz, they somehow never seem to hinder the winning team...

* * * * *

Thanks to Del, Jez, Paul, RussL, Swiss Toni, Skif, James, Pete, Jonathan B and drmigs for their contributions this week.

Back at the usual time next week, I promise.


Blogger James MacLaren said...

Another great read, but, blimey Jez, I am not sure I have shaken my head so many times in one paragraph - just kept thinking, 'that's a bit controversial... and that... and that....'. Most of Bowie's re-inventions have been very very successful (Ziggy was about his fourth). And did I get that right - John Lennon had a lack of quality?

Loved the music quizzes, and 'quite good'. And had totally forgotten, but was happily reminded of 'Queen Bee' by Streisand - my Mum had that LP... it ended it's life in my collection.

8:53 pm  
Blogger swisslet said...

Jez makes a good point about U2 though. Listening to their version of "One" with Mary J. Blige makes me realise more and more that Johnny Cash did the definitive version of the song by going in the opposite direction and stripping it right down to basics. What the hell are they thinking releasing that shit?


9:27 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I hadn't been travelling with work and then ill my Q would have been for queueing for Q's all time best gig...Radiohead at the Glastonbury festival in 1997. I had to wait all the way through a turgid set by Ocean Colour Scene but it was worth it to be right up in the front for such a tremendous performance by Radiohead.

3:16 pm  
Blogger Ben said...

James: That's Jez for you. He's just as forthright in his opinions on music in the flesh, I can tell you. For what it's worth, I think a lot of the stuff Lennon and Bowie have put out has been pretty ropey.

Loved your piece this week - it made me think of Low, for whom silence seems to be as important as sound.

Jonathan: It was a given that your first contribution would feature references to floppy fringes and cardigans...

4:03 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm yet to hear any solo Lennon that I haven't found to be an absolute waste of time and electricity. I can't say I've ever made a detailed investigation, though (admittedly for that very reason). I have to say, though, that although Bowie has made some wrong moves I like more of his work than I don't, and even more so regarding The Clash.

Ben, I agree 100% with your sentiment - hackneyed music provokes hackneyed thoughts in response. It never fails to amuse when bands rail against a 'lazy journalistic comparison' to another band when such comparisons occur due to them having ripped off said band.

James - that's [i]exactly[/i] how "Queen Bee" entered my collection. too.

Well, via my own mother. Not yours. Obviously.

10:45 pm  

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