Implants

No, not fake breasts, sorry.  Via Insty comes this wonderful piece:

The notion that COVID-19 vaccines will be used by governments across the globe to track the human race’s every move has long been a topic of discussion among conspiracy theorists. But now, new ‘evidence’ has emerged from Italian proponents of the idea – only it would be evidence, were it not a reworked schematic for the Boss Metal Zone.
The conspiracy theorists shared the schematic online, claiming it depicted the diagram for the supposed 5G chip. It features a section labelled “5G frequency” – clearly the source of many a theorist’s eureka moment – as well as terms guitarists will find familiar: “MT-2 Gain”, “Footswitch” among the most recognizable.
Mario Fusco, a senior software engineer at Redhat, spotted the misinformation and took to Twitter to flag it.

It’s not often that I read something that causes me to collapse in a fit of helpless laughter, but this was one of those rarities.  Hell, I’m still grinning.

Most conspiracy theorists are complete fucking idiots, but taking a circuit board schematic of a guitar pedal and claiming it’s the tracking /controlling device embedded in a vaccine?  That’s brilliance compounded by stupidity.

Music Geekery Alert:  That said, I could think of far worse things you could have implanted in your system than the BOSS Metal Zone pedal.

This little beauty can make the most awful guitar sound like anything played by Tony Iommi or Kirk Hammett, and it’s probably used by just about every lead guitarist in rock music.

In fact, the only other product of similar effect I’d agree to have implanted in me would be the venerable Ibanez Tube Screamer*, of similar renown and popularity:

I would respectfully suggest, however, that as excellent as these two pedals are, they would be piss-poor as human control devices.


*And yes, I know the difference between distortion (BOSS/transistors) and overdrive (Screamer/diodes).  I may be a bassist (who doesn’t use either), but I’m not ignorant.

A Short Stroll Through The 70s

When talking about 1970s music, too much time is spent on the loud stuff:  Zep, Foreigner, Grand Funk Railroad, and so on.  Ditto all the prog-rock of the era like Pink Floyd, Genesis.  Yeah, I love listening to all that;  but I also like the quieter stuff — and I don’t mean the Carpenters or Abba, either.

Many of the 70s stars actually got their start in the 1960s, but it was in the following decade that they really got going.

Here’s an example:  the peerless songwriter Dave Mason, formerly of 60s band Traffic, doing We Just Disagree.  If you listen to this as an appetizer for the rest of this post, I think you’ll get in the proper mood.

In that vein, here’s Stephen Stills and the others doing Southern Cross, and while we’re there, let’s also consider Orleans doing Dance With Me  and Exile being naughty with Kiss You All Over.

But it wasn’t all ballads like Kate Bush doing The Man With The Child In His Eyes, of course;  not when David Bowie was performing songs like Lady Grinning Soul, or .


Update:  I think WordPress ate half my post.  Apologies, and I’ll add the rest when I can retrieve it.

The 80s — Music

I enjoyed myself during the late 1970s, but when I hit the 80’s was when I hit my stride.  No other way to put it:  I ruled.  Successful business career, band was playing up a storm, a “stable” of girlfriends — what later came to be called “friends with benefits” (we just called each other “friends”); and in the middle of that decade, I moved over to the U.S. to start all over again.

All this took place with a fantastic soundtrack, and here it is, Kim’s Top 50.  (I started off adding links to the songs, but in many cases, the links had either disappeared or the video been taken down.  So if you see a title you want to listen to, just look it up in YouTube or whatever.)  The songs are in no specific order.

  1. Red Red Wine — UB40
  2. More Than This — Roxy Music
  3. Vienna — Ultravox
  4. The Way It Is — Bruce Hornsby & The Range
  5. Sledgehammer — Peter Gabriel
  6. Stepping Out — Joe Jackson
  7. Everybody Wants To Rule The World — Tears For Fears
  8. Something About You — Level 42
  9. Angel Of The Morning — Juice Newton
  10. Higher Love — Steve Winwood
  11. Touch and Go — Emerson Lake & Powell
  12. Why Can’t This Be Love — Van Halen
  13. Dance Hall Days — Wang Chung
  14. Summer of ’69 — Bryan Adams
  15. Run To You –Bryan Adams
  16. Sussudio — Phil Collins
  17. The Confessor — Joe Walsh
  18. You Can Call Me Al — Paul Simon
  19. Would I Lie To You? — Eurythmics
  20. St. Elmo’s Fire — John Parr
  21. Tainted Love — Soft Cell
  22. Roseanna — Toto
  23. Wildest Dreams — Moody Blues (a little 70s follow-through, there)
  24. Don’t You (Forget About Me) — Simple Minds
  25. Under Pressure — David Bowie & Queen
  26. Sweet Child O’ Mine — Guns ‘N Roses
  27. Upside Down — Diana Ross
  28. 9 to 5 — Dolly Parton
  29. Bette Davis Eyes — Kim Carnes
  30. Maneater — Hall & Oates
  31. Africa — Toto
  32. Cars — Gary Numan
  33. What About Love — Heart
  34. The Girl Can’t Help It — Journey
  35. One Night In Bangkok — Murray Head
  36. Tuff Enuff — The Fabulous Thunderbirds
  37. Let’s Go Crazy — Prince
  38. Power Of Love — Huey Lewis & The News
  39. Part Time Lover –Stevie Wonder
  40. Addicted To Love — Robert Palmer
  41. Things Can Only Get Better — Howard Jones
  42. You Give Love A Bad Name — Bon Jovi
  43. Walking On Sunshine — Katrina & The Waves
  44. She Drives Me Crazy — Fine Young Cannibals
  45. Easy Lover — Philip Bailey, Phil Collins
  46. Dancing In the Dark — Bruce Springsteen
  47. If You Don’t Know Me By Now — Simply Red
  48. Hazy Shade of Winter — The Bangles (I know:  ancient song, but Susannah Hoffs)
  49. Voices Carry — ‘Til Tuesday
  50. Wouldn’t It Be Good — Nik Kershaw

Every single one of the above songs evokes a memory of a time, a place or a person, and every single one of them is absolutely wonderful.

Wild Child

What chance does a girl named Richenda Antoinette de Winterstein Gillespie have in the modern world?

Well, shorten her name to “Dana Gillespie”, hook her up with a whole bunch of rock stars and actors, and just let her natural talent as a singer do the rest.  (Also her killer boobs, but we’ll get to that later).  First, the music, which started off with a song that Donovan wrote for her:

Donna Donna

And how she looked back then:

Where The Blues Begins

Weren’t Born A Man

Andy Warhol (the cover of David Bowie’s song)

…and some old-time rock ‘n roll:

Snatch & Grab It

And now, the aforementioned boobs:

(album cover)

 

 

 

even “Cuddly Dudley” was smitten:

Killer quote:

“All three of us jumped into bed together, which may sound pretty outrageous but that’s how it was back then. There was nothing serious about it; it just felt like a good way to break the ice.”

I miss the good old days…

The Master

One of the highlights of my excellent high school education was in choral singing.  I’d joined the Prep School Choir (after a rather terrifying audition), and when I moved from Prep School to College (a distance of about fifty yards — literally, College started in the next quadrangle over), I joined the College Choir.

The St. John’s College Choir was famous in South Africa.  We performed often, sometimes live concerts at the school and elsewhere, and sometimes radio performances (usually transmitted live from our chapel).  It was as close to a professional choir as one could get — actually, I’ve been in professional choral groups that weren’t as professional as we were.

The man who ran the thing was our choir master, James “Jimmy” Gordon, a tall, very classy 40-ish man of unbelievable talent as a singer, church organist (we had a 72-pipe organ in the chapel) and teacher.  It was generally accepted that Jimmy could have made a good living as a singer or an organist — even, perhaps, as a concert pianist;  but there he was, in St. John’s College, teaching a bunch of young hooligans such as myself to sing sacred choral music.  His mastery of the choir and of its music was absolute, yet he was patient, self-effacing but a relentless perfectionist for all that.  Here’s an example.

Our choir had about sixty members, and we were rehearsing a piece by, I think, Mozart or Handel.  At one point he stopped the choir with a raised hand, pointed to me and said, “Du Toit, that was a lovely harmony you sang at bar 28 — but it’s not what the composer wrote.  Kindly read your part properly and sing accordingly.  Now, again from bar 14…”  He could pick out not only a dissonant voice, but could identify its owner, out of sixty choristers.

As I said, he was endlessly patient, and I only ever remember him losing his temper twice, and venting his anger at the miscreants.  (No prizes for guessing who was one of them.)

We (and I) did not deserve to have him;  but we did, for five whole years.  And as my voice changed from soprano through alto and finally to first tenor, my ability grew and grew until I could read any piece of music, and sing any part of it.  It was, and remains, a priceless gift from this extraordinary man, James Gordon.  I’m only glad he never heard me perform with the rock band — he’d have cringed at what I did to my voice.

Jimmy passed away last week at age 91, and I only learned about it via my sister’s link to the school’s website.  Here’s his obituary, and if I can say anything about that and the tributes that accompany it, it’s that they don’t do him justice.

Thank you, Jimmy, from the bottom of my heart, and R.I.P.


Clayton House (1971)

 

Weekend Listening

If I were to list my favorite musicians of all time, Alan Parsons would rank in the top five, not as much for his musical playing — piano/keyboards, guitar and flute — as for his understanding of modern musical forms, and their composition, arrangement and production.  He was, and is, the complete package.

As a producer, he probably ranks only a little behind the legendary George Martin (unsurprisingly, as he learned his trade at EMI’s Abbey Road studios);  but for all Martin’s genius behind the desk, he was of the previous generation, while Parsons belonged to the next.  (It’s difficult to imagine George Martin creating Pink Floyd’s milestone Dark Side Of The Moon  album, for instance, which was Parsons’s breakthrough into the top ranks of record producers. )

And it says much about Parsons that when asked to produce Floyd’s followup Wish You Were Here, he turned them down in order to create his own works, with co-producer/-composer Eric Woolfson, which could truthfully be described as modern classical music through the medium of “concept” albums.

Which brings us to our weekend listening project:  the Alan Parsons Project.

I discovered the Project back in the 1970s through Lead Guitarist Kevin, who had turned me on to many other artists I would otherwise have missed (Kate Bush, Hudson Ford, Christopher Cross and Earl Klugh, to name but some).  Given the stature of Parsons in the music business, it’s unsurprising that was able to surround himself with a wonderful array of talented musicians.

What I’m going to do is list my favorite Alan Parsons Project albums in chronological order — and for those who’ve never heard his music before, I’ll link to a single song, just as a taste for each work should you not have enough time to tackle the entire album.

Tales Of Mystery And Imagination — sets Edgar Allen Poe’s dark, broody prose to dark, broody music.  My favorite is Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether  (because we used to play it) but Cask Of Amontillado  is an absolute gem.

I, Robot — dystopian future (this time, based on Asimov’s writings), full of gloom and anxiety, set in songs of catchy brilliance.  Try Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You.

Pyramid — hey, it was the Seventies, and people bought into that “pyramid-power” jive.  The album, however, is outstanding, with Shadow of a Lonely Man  (John Miles on vocals!) being my favorite.

Eve — all about broads.  The standout is the bitter I’d Rather Be A Man.  So would I.

Eye In The Sky — the surveillance state (produced, it should be remembered, in the early 1980s).  The first two tracks should suffice.  From this point on, by the way, the Project albums became markedly more commercial-sounding.

Turn Of A Friendly Card — cynical look at gambling, in all its forms.  Time  could easily have been a Pink Floyd song.

Ammonia Avenue — probably the most commercial of the Project’s albums.  Prime Time  (the first song on the album link)was the big hit, although the turgid ballad Since The Last Goodbye  became a chick favorite.

I must confess to losing interest in the rest of the albums, because the commercial sound sounded like they’d all been produced by ugh  David Foster and not Alan Parsons.  Nevertheless, here they are:

Vulture Culture Sooner Or Later is indicative of the direction the Project was moving…

Stereotomy — not as commercial as the others, featuring longer, more complex songs instead of pop ditties.  This one is worth listening to in its entirety.

Gaudi — last of the Project’s “canonical” output.

Enjoy.