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This was without doubt the best gig I have ever been to, Radiohead organised this for-charity gig, and it topped each of the other 15 radiohead gigs I've been to. Here's a brief summary of my weekend... Woke up about 8:30 on the day before the gig, and drove up to my flat to pick up my big coat which I planned to spend the night in. Met a friend who I gave a lift up to Oxford, and then we set off around 1. We got off the motorway and somehow found our way to South Park directly without having a map - I knew it was near Headington and so we found our way after asking a couple of people. We got there around 2:30 and Radiohead had just started soundchecking. A few Radiohead message boarders were already there, and so I found a place to park and we joined them as quickly as we could, taking my sandwiches and coat with me. It was a beautiful sunny day and there were quite a few people in the park just lying down and listening. I climbed a tree so I could see over the 15 foot high fence they had erected all around the area, and got my first view of what was inside...I could see a fenced off area right at the front which I presumed was for the first few thousand people only...and the stage where they were putting up the massive crying minotaur banners at the time. Did some shopping for snacks and supplies. Loitered around the production entrance and managed to catch Phil walking out after the soundcheck, and he stopped and talked for a while - looked very happy. Then Jonny drove out in his car, Thom was driven out in a car with tinted windows - very rock and roll, and then Ed got driven out and waved at the 4 of us outside with a manic grin on his face. We never saw Colin leave, so we suspect that either he snuck out in disguise or stayed in there for ages.. We popped off to the nearest pub and had a drink before coming back and sitting in the park until about 9 when we went to the pub for our only hot meal of the t
wo days we were there. About 10, my friend and I went back into the park and set ourselves up by the entrance fence and settled down for the night. At that point we were the only people there... About 11:30 to midnight people started turning up, although most only to check the place out after the pubs closed. Two girls settled down for the night, and there a bunch of drunk people further down in the park who it turned out had got a tin of Dulux paint and painted "Nation" in huge letters on the fence. The reason why eludes me. People carried on arriving in dribs and drabs all night, and by about 5 am there were about 40 people in the line up. The crowds really started arriving from about 10 am onwards in anticipation of the gates opening at 1. By the time the gates opened there were several thousand people there, and when they did open it was chaos...everyone ran forward to get their tickets checked and then were sprinting to get to the front. It was a longer run than I thought, and then when we got in we saw that the other entrance gate had been opened for (apparently I was told later) an HOUR before ours... Fortunately very few people were there, and so there were about 20 people who had got in line for the front boxed off section. The rest of us sprinted down and somehow my legs and lungs carried me to the front centre of the crowd barrier, right smack bang in the middle. We sat down with our backs to the fence and recovered slowly. Around 1:30 I think, The Rock of Travolta came on stage an Oxford 7/8-piece (I forget now)...It was strange, the only member of the band that seemed daunted by the fact there were over 42,000 people staring at them was the violinist who looked distinctly pale. They were pretty good - they were basically an instrumental band, and their opening pre-entrance music was extremely amusing... they had parodied Fitter Happier and done pretty much the opposite of wh
at it says..."Fitter, unhealthier, unproductive. Drinking too much. No excercise at the gym (8 days a week)" "Enjoy a drink now and then - get pissed all the time" etc etc... it was absolutely hilarious, and set the stage brilliantly for their entrance. Great set, and got the crowd going. Hester Thrale were up next and didn't get the crowd going at all...they played a rather lacklustre set and tended to avoid eye contact with the crowd at all. I suppose when there's only 3 of you versus 42,000 people or more, it would get kind of scary. Next came quite a highlight - Humphrey Lyttleton and his band... I think the security guards were kind of surprised by the appearance of a bunch of people old enough to be their parents on stage with jazz equipment, playing to a huge crowd of (for the most part) young people. They were absolutely brilliant and the crowd loved them. Humphrey is quite a witty guy, and he really got the crowd going... The highlight of the set was (if I remember rightly - bear in mind no sleep in 48 hours) a piece by Duke Ellington which involved the saxophonist circular breathing and playing for aover 5 minutes straight without a break in the music. The cheers and the applause from the crowd were deafening when he finished... Sigur Ros - I love their music, but it can sometimes be unsuited to live gigs - well especially for me after I'd been up all night etc...their album is incredible, but they are really more suited to relaxing in your favourite easy-chair and settling down with a mug of hot chocolate. Having said that I still thought it was a great set...although it was embarassing with the idiots in the crowd making rude comments. Supergrass - they were pretty good, although there was a whole bunch of morons who were really violently moshing around which kind of spoiled it and made the whole set an excercise in staying upright and intact. The song t
hat they played which they said wasn't finished yet was really good...as was the rest of the set when you had a chance to pay attention. Beck - I didn't realise until I was told the day before that it was only an acoustic set, and apparently nor did a lot of the people who came. The woman DJ on Xfm while I was driving back the next day (today as I am writing this) was pretty negative about the set - saying it was too sombre... Now forgive me for sounding out of line, but I thought the set was absolutely brilliant. I think far too many people like Beck because he has gained a foothold in popular culture for being zany and having crazy stage shows. I've seen him twice like that - once at Wembley arena, and once at the Leeds Festival last year. DJ Swamp is incredible, as is the full performance, but South Park was more about going back to roots and he proved he can sing with the best of them. He did quite a few covers and wasn't on for long (mainly I think due to Supergrass running overtime). I, and most of the people around me at the front, really enjoyed it, and I think it is not deserving of the criticism he got. Radiohead - what can I say? They were full of energy, they played perfectly with only a couple of glitches - Jonny having the wrong guitar in Airbag, and the organ cutting out in MPS (THANK GOD!), and they played Creep! The set was absolutely flawless, and the pouring rain near the end just added to the atmosphere...the crowd were well mannered then, and there was only a little jostling during My Iron Lung and Paranoid Android. If you want the song-by-song breakdown then there are plenty of people who've done that, but I just aim to give you an idea of the atmosphere on the day... We got out from the front pretty sharpish before people started clamouring for setlists, picks, Jonny's Kaoss Pad etc. Headed over to the sound desk and got a setlist for my ex-girlfriend and went to the waste tent and bought a
ll the t-shirts that were new since last year, then headed out where some of the 40/50,000 people were causing traffic chaos. After that I drove some of the way back to London listening to Xfm doing their radiohead special - went in and out of reception and came back in to hear the bootleg of Thom singing Nobody Does it Better - quite a fitting song to end an unforgettable weekend.
For those of you who have been asking - it's James. No updates - away for two weeks. ********************* This I found out yesterday after my gran phoned me to say a reporter had been around to ask about him. It's weird to think that he may have already won £1 million. Anyway - survivor. At the moment it has had some pretty dire reviews and so on, but I'm predicting within a week or "Survivor" will be the word on everyone's lips much as Big Brother took off. The idea is quite similar to Big Brother and that castaway program (if that's what it was called - I don't really watch them much). Basically, 16 people get sent to an island and split up into two separate tribes - 'Helang' and 'Ular'. Every 3 Island days the tribes compete with each other in an "Immunity Challenge" in which the losing team must go to the Tribal council and vote a member of their tribe off the island. There is a lot of backstabbing and plotting to be found on the island. Voting alliances are formed and betrayed, and once it gets down to the final 10, it gets even more hairy as the tribes are merged and they individually compete for immunity from being voted off the island. Couple all this with the fact they are having to fend for themselves on the island - they're given 40 days' supply of rice, one tin of meat and one tin of fruit. The rest they have to either win in reward challenges or find on the island. The game takes a very interesting twist when you reach the final two people left on the island. The last two don't have to pit their wits against each other, but instead have to face a jury of the 7 previous people voted off in order to determine the winner of the million pounds. So up comes just deserts for the plotters, and the "innocent" one will win? Maybe not - it's all a very interesting excercise of human behaviour. In
America, the winner was a middle aged man called Richard Hatch who also happened to be gay. He had formed an alliance with a 72-year old, rather homophobic ex navy seal, who despite his sexual closed-mindedness kept to his word and helped Richard on his way to win the million dollars. What more can one ask from a television program these days? It has reality, intrigue, lots of prize money, and you might even know one of them like my neighbour. Interestingly enough, the first person to be voted off was a self-professed "survivor" - the following is a direct quote from his biography which you should find quite amusing: "Nick is built for survival. He's worked in the Royal Navy and travelled around the world, including Antartica (he's a trained arctic diver). He even cites doing survival training as a favoured hobby and keeps himself in shape diving, hill walking, and cycling. Every evening he fits in a six-mile run after work. Nick is a self-styled bold, ambitious and determined competitor and fellow survivors should beware. His grandfather's First World War medal is his prized possession, now he hopes to take home the Survivor title to join it." Oh well! He survived a whole 3 days *chuckle* While it may not have the 24-hour a day feel that Big Brother did as this is all pre-recorded, and it doesn't have audience participation as a result, it takes voyeur programming to a whole new level. You get to look into the souls of these people as they plot to get other people voted off while still trying to cultivate friendship with everyone so if they do get to the final two they won't be the last person voted off. You'll find out which of the contestants can make "Nasty Nick" look like Bob the Builder, you'll find out who can stand the pressure and last it out. Watch it - you may see things in the contestants you see in yourself but just hide very well.
Radiohead.com has won many awards for best official band site and all sorts of other categories. To be honest I don't think they really care. Their website is not there to promote themselves - it's more of a living entity. The site is maintained mostly by Stanley Donwood who is Radiohead's "official artist". Thom Yorke knows Donwood from back in their college years, and he has been responsible for all the artwork from OK Computer onwards. The current frontpage of Radiohead.com is an image of the limited edition "old book" version of Amnesiac, and there is a choice of two destinations: the radiohead website itself and an informational website about Friends of the Earth and promoting environmental awareness. Next page in and you're given another choice of destinations - radiohead.com or Indymedia.com - a site providing "independent media" - free from the bias of governmental pressure etc. It's almost as if they don't want you to look at the site itself... Finally you get into what passes for a main menu which provides you with a host of destinations. There's always news about upcoming events and so on, but often it's extremely hard to find and also to distinguish between new and old. It's not done pretentiously - as I said before, it's like a living entity and like anyone's mind it jumps around in a stream of consciousness way, so it can appear quite convoluted. It's a newshound's worst nightmare - many many times information has been released on radiohead.com to the fans before it is to the media, but it is done in such a way as to confound most journalists who don't use the site on a regular basis. The announcements are usually made completely impromptu by a member of the band or by Stanley himself on the Radiohead Message Board. Now when you think of a message board for a website you think of a slow-moving thread of messag
es that people log on and leave to return a few hours later to see if anyone replies. Forget that picture. The board consists of 15 pages of messages and there is on average a shift of about a page every 10-15 minutes. Whenever a "blue" - a band member etc. comes on the board, a page turns over about every 2 minutes at most, so anything you post tends to get lost in the fray and ends up rapidly moving towards page 15. The message board is a real community - it has its members that everyone knows, its outcasts, its troublemakers. It is a veritable ant-farm that one can simply sit back and observe, or get closer and participate. Romances and friendships are formed and broken on it. The message board can be reached from one of the links within the main menu, but I'll leave you to find it - it's more fun that way. There are a bewildering array of different links that you can follow, often leading on, sometimes leading back, and it would be very hard to say with confidence that you had seen every page. Some pages contain ramblings, some contain lyrics of unreleased songs, etc etc. There are also 5 pages that are basically homepages for the band members. Thom keeps his very regularly updated with links to sites whose spotlight shines on World Trade Organisation transgressions, and the harm that capitalism does in some areas. Ed used to update his diary quite a lot, and Jonny has used his page to show digital camera shots of places they go on tour. Phil and Colin have sadly not updated their pages in ages. There are links to external sites with relevance to radiohead itself - waste.uk.com is the official fan site and merchandise store. They often hold back tickets to the gigs for fans to buy after they've officially sold out. There are a plethora of fansites which provide more information that most of the official music magazines ever can. In fact it has often been suspected that NME.com copies most of
its "exclusives" from the fansites. If you're going to visit the site, much like an art gallery, take your time and look around. Browse, look for hidden things and think of it more *as* a gallery than a website. I hope you take the time to check it out. Ken
I don't claim to be an expert on all the ins and outs of photography, but here are some things that have worked for me in the past which I have learned along the way: Before you go out to take pictures, decide on your subject matter. There is no point going out on a mission to take photos, ending up in a dark cloisters of a church with 200 speed film and no flash. Once you've decided what it is that you'll be taking photos of, then you can choose your film. Choose whether you want black and white or colour...if you're just starting out, then I would recommend using colour film. Kodak is always a good bet, or Fujicolour is also very good quality. If you're going to be taking photos outdoors on a bright day, then you want to choose a film with a lower speed - 200, 100, 400 possibly. The lower the speed, the more light there needs to be. If you're taking photos indoors and can use a flash, then 400 will usually suffice. If however you're taking photos of a live gig or something similar where people are moving in relatively poor lighting you want to get 800 or even 1600 speed (1200 if you can find it). Taking gig photos is a lot harder than one might initially think. If you're standing behind people and are taking a photo over peoples heads, then it is not advisable to use the flash as you'll just get a picture of a lot of peoples heads lit up and nothing of the actual subject matter. If you're up close then flash is fine, though you'll lose a lot of the colour of the lighting. If you're not allowed a flash then you should ideally be using 1600 speed film. Make sure you time the photo when there's the most light or at least when there's less movement by the band. You're always going to get a lot of dud photos, so the key is to keep snapping away, and some of them will turn out well. Post any q
uestions as comments and I'll try to answer them... Ken *** I forgot to also mention that it's very important that if you're going to be taking photos where you may need to alter the exposure length, then you will need to get a half-decent camera. You can buy good quality second hand cameras in most traditional camera stores, or you can buy a reasonably good new Canon or Pentax for £120ish. The camera makes all the difference. Ideally it would have auto-detect film speed, or even better that AND manual selection. You should be able to set it to full manual focus, but autofocus is also very handy. A built in flash is good, but make sure you can turn it off, or you'll often end up with irate bouncers in gigs and so on. Look to spend up to £150 for a nice camera, and you'll be paid back with the results you get.
BT Openworld promises "always on" internet, and that's what it delivers for the most part. The waiting list is quite large, and so it will take a while between sign up and actual installation, but the wait is worth it. I always had monthly phonebills topping £100, and now I only have to worry about the £39.99 flat rate for the ADSL which is an incredible relief for me. A word of warning though - there is a £150 setup fee, but I got away without paying that so it made it cheaper for me, and it is most likely that unless you pre-registered last year that you'll have to pay it. The speeds are just an added bonus really, as I have a worry-free connection and the cheap bills (well in comparison to me that is). The connection is ideal for gamers - I regularly get sub 40-millisecond pings on counter-strike servers, Unreal Tournament servers, Kingpin servers, Counterstrike etc. You'll get those extra kills you miss when you hit a laggy patch on a modem. I'm a completely addicted Counter Strike player and I can say I don't know if I could possibly go back to playing on a modem now. The ADSL connection makes it seem as if you're playing the game just on your own pc rather than the internet. Responsivness is brilliant and now the only thing that limits me is my computer itself! Downloading is now almost a treat - as you watch the file zip onto your hard drive without the usual plodding along. There have been a few rough patches where their servers were messing up, but that seems to have been fixed now so I have very few complaints about the service. All in all I'd recommend it to anyone who's got the cash to spare and is frustrated with cut-off times and so on. Ken
Or if you don't - don't reveal ANY personal information at all. I still get emails from the Ministry of Sound even now after the saga which I will tell you about. This said it *may* be from a different source than from them direct - I'm not entirely sure yet. Anyway...this takes place over a year ago when I was on a modem connection to the internet and I was living in university halls of residence without a university internet connection. So I was paying for my internet connection at about 5p per minute (a rip off monopoly phone company). Somehow - I have no idea how, I got placed on the Ministry of Sound mailing list. I don't know why this happened but it's something I wouldn't have wished upon my worst enemy. One day I was downloading my email as normal and I thought my mail program had hung as nothing was happening at all. So I closed it down and then restarted it and it was still "downloading mail" - so I left it reluctantly as it was wasting my phonebill but might have been something important. I come back later and find that an email from "Ministry of Sound" has arrived. I take a look at it and it's got a one megabyte attachment on it. I'm a bit peeved at this as I didn't ask for anything - then I discover what they've sent me is a .exe file. (For those of you who don't know - it's an executable file that means a virus/trojan can be run when you run it so wrecking your computer or allowing unauthorised access. I'm not speculating as to whether it did, but as a matter of policy I never run unsolicited exe files I recieve. I followed their instructions on how to unsubscribe and when I logged on later I found I'd recieved a email saying my unsubscription had been sent to an invalid email address. I left it and hoped they'd just go away. They didn't. A week or so later I recieved another huge exe file which
yet again wasted my phonebill and went straight in the bin. This time I scoured the Ministry of Sound's website for contact details and I found none. I collected all the email addresses I could find on the site and sent a mail saying "get me the hell off this list" to all of them. Then a few days later I got another attachment. I then resorted to finding out the company that designed and maintained their website and emailed them - no response. Finally when I got more emails I called up directory enquiries and got the company phone number of the MoS. I called up and left a message on a woman's answering machine threatening legal action (as they are actually breaking the law with unsolicited advertisements) if they didn't remove me. I got a phonecall back VERY soon afterwards. The woman I spoke to was quite helpful and promised to remove me as soon as possible from the mailing list. For a while I did stop getting the emails and I certainly haven't got any more of the huge emails thank god, although now I'm on ADSL it wouldn't matter so much. Anyway - the website itself is ok, if not a bit high-intensive on the ole internet connection. I hope this will save you the trouble and money I had with the Ministry of Sound. So be warned! Ken
Tim Buckley - Morning Glory - the Tim Buckley Anthology Despite only owning this album for a few weeks I would not give it up for anything. It's the most moving album I own, and it has some of the best singing I've ever heard. For those of you who don't know the story of the Buckleys, sit back and read a while...For those of you who do, you will appreciate the incredible agility and variety of both his voice and that of his son Jeff. Tim Buckley was born on Valentine's Day in 1947 in Washington DC. He died in 1975 from a heroin overdose. In the 28 years he was alive he created music that most people would spend a full lifetime trying to make and never succeed. He had a voice that was often described as angelic, but it was often tinged with more than a hint of melancholy. One of his band members once said "It was the clarity and purity of his tone. Even when he screamed, it sounded like singing." His voice is haunting - reaching out through the speakers from beyond the grave and imparting its emotion on you. This seems to be the time for discovering lost talent with Eva Cassidy's Songbird compilation reaching number 1 in many countries after hearing her beautiful rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Last Summer was the turn of Tim Buckley's son Jeff Buckley who has a different sounding but equally incredible voice. But enough of the background now. I can say now that unless you're a dedicated pop-head you will love this album. I know a lot of people say that about albums, but here I can say from the bottom of my heart it is my favourite album I own. A few highlights of it (it's a double album by the way) Song to the Siren - There are two versions of this on the album. The studio version and one that was played live on the Monkees TV show. My personal favourite is the Monkees one. The singing is richer and more heartfelt than the studio ver
sion. There is an interesting story behind this song which appears on the album "Starsailor" (yes that's where Starsailor got their name - they're big fans). Larry Beckett, a poet, wrote lyrics for some of Buckley's songs, and one day he brought the words to Song to the Siren along to Buckley's house while he was having breakfast. He took a look at the words and then picked up his guitar and played the song pretty much as it appears on the album. Everyone present was flabbergasted at how something that beautiful had been created while they watched. Song Slowly Sung - A wonderfully haunting ballad which is well described by its title. There is a long instrumental section in the middle which is sparse and fits the mood of the song brilliantly, then Buckley comes back singing softly as before to finish the song. Hallucinations - an incredible song starting with several guitars and slowly building to Buckley singing in a style which I can imagine being that of a travelling troubador in times of knights and princesses in distress. It is an incredibly moving song in a style which no-one has tried before or since. The lyrics are incredible and with the background noises you can imagine yourself having this hallucination. No man can find the war - a song of protest against the war in Vietnam, it is a very strong and angry song. But at the same time it is still delicate and as wonderful as his others. Goodbye and Hello - this is another protest song and I find it hard to describe - it has several distinct styles within it and is eight and a half minutes of pure genius. Phantasmagoria In Two (live) - A beautiful love song which has hints of the travelling troubador like in Hallucinations. It makes my eyes watery every time I hear it. "If a fiddler played you a song my love and if I gave you a wheel, would you spin for my heart in loneliness? Would you spin for my love? If I gave up all my pr
ide for you, and only loved you for now would you hide my fears and never say 'Tomorrow I must go'. And everywhere there's rain my love, and everywhere there's fear. Well if you tell me a lie I'll cry for you. Or tell me of sin and I'll laugh. If you tell me of all the pain you've had I'll never smile again." A review 10 times this long could not do this album justice, so I will leave it here before I lose your attention. If you only buy one album this year on spec - make it this one and I promise you it will be worth your while. Ken
Be a winner instead! Well in theory at least. This site has been going for years and years - I've been using it for ages, but to be honest I don't remember if I've actually won anything aas a result. I might have but I don't remember. The site itself is extremely well organised - want quick results? Look in the competitions lists for competitions closing in the next few days - that way you're out of your misery soon. Looking for something specific? Money? Cars? Clothes? DVD players? - then the site is organised into nice categories for you to look through. Now having the selection of competitions to enter means you can pick and choose what kind of things you want to win but it does by no means mean you'll win them unfortunately. Of course having such a readily available selection means statistically there's more chance of you winning *something*. After all - enter enough and you're bound to win something eventually. There's a useful mailing list which keeps you updated of new competitions each week which you can subscribe to. The site itself even runs competitions such as one at the moment where you get a free trip for 5 to france if you can provide details of a competition you've won through them. Personally I still prefer phone-in competitions as there's a more realistic chance of winning since there's usually some skill involved in dialing in at the right time, but it's still a useful site. So if you've got a lot of spare time on your hands try entering a few competitions and you never know you might find a parcel arriving at your door. Ken
Yahoo chat - it's the behemoth of all chat servers. At any one time there are thousands of people online chatting away. You'd think with all these people you're bound to meet someone you like. NOT SO. Because yahoo is so big, it is targetted by people who just want to have a laugh. I have to say I've done it myself a few times - having just downloaded a program which would fling Arnie quotes at people I thought I'd have fun - "Hello - How are you? I'm gonna ask you a bunch of questions and I want to have them answered immediately. Who is your daddy and what does he do? I'm a COP YOU IDIOT! I'm DETECTIVE JOHN KIMBALL." (That's from Kindergarten Cop I believe...) Anyway - needless to say people fell for it, thought Arnie was a real person and started voice chatting back to him - was really funny for my friends and I, but not very fulfilling chatting really. I'd be surprised if you could find a room with sensible people in it at all. Yahoo is just too big - you can easily get lost in the rooms and not find the person you're talking to again. There is a search facility that searches for users, but it doesn't always work - I have gone on with friends while talking to them in another chat room and then we can't locate each other on yahoo although we are both online. The technology behind it is great - the java chat application is fairly small, and once downloaded offers you a whole host of options that rival even mIRC for detail. The voice chat is a marvel of technology - you can have a nice, understandable conference with everyone else in the room. It sometimes gets to the point where you have to say "over" after everything you say when there are too many people in the room, but the audio comes through clearly even on a modem. One possible benefit of yahoo chat is that you can gather together friends, family or business associates in a
private room and then have a teleconference there without having idiots like me barging in and throwing Arnie at you. All in all - it has its uses but it's great lumbering size makes for slow progress. Ken
Released in 1996 I only just got around to buying it in a sale at Virgin. A bargain at a tenner, and well worth the money spent. I remember when Belle and Sebastian was being played on the radio loads and I thought "Hmm I should buy their album" but I never do get around to doing that most of the time. As you can see it's taken me ages to buy my first Belle and Sebastian album. Anyway - on to the description. Belle and Sebastian are a scottish 7-piece whose style is mellow acoustic/light electric rock. The lead singer has a slight lisp and far from detracting from the music it makes it all the much better. Track listing: The Stars of Track and Field Seeing Other People Me and The Major Like Dylan in the Movies The Fox in the Snow Get me away from here, I'm dying If you're feeling sinister Mayfly The Boy done wrong again Judy and the dream of horses The lyrics don't have much in the way of deep meaning or heart-rending emotion, but are on the other hand beautifully mundane - "We lay on the bed there Kissing just for practice Could we please be objective? Cause the other boys are queuing up behind us A hand over my mouth A hand over the window Well, if I remain passive and you just want to cuddle Then we should be ok, and we won't get into trouble Cause we're seeing other people At least that's what we say we are doing" It's great to have a "light" album that isn't just pop tunes that are superficial in the extreme. The Belle and Sebastian album contains songs that are wonderful in their everyday simplicity. It's a light-hearted alternative pop album that isn't punctuated by coreographed dance moves and plastic faces. If you're wanting a cheery album and have taste in music such that the fake veneer of steps pisses you off, then this is a great feelgood
one. Shove it in your cd player and hum all your troubles away... You can take delight in the sheer simplicity of the songs and the child-like (in a good way) lyrics... It's a hark back to innocence lost when the troubles of the world seemed so far away: Fox in the snow "Fox in the snow, where do you go To find something you can eat? Cause the word out on the street is you are starving Don't let yourself grow hungry now Don't let yourself grow cold Fox in the snow Girl in the snow, where will you go To find someone that will do? To tell someone all the truth before it kills you They listen to your crazy laugh Before you hang a right And disappear from sight What do they know anyway? You'll read it in a book What do they know anyway? You'll read it in a book tonight Boy on the bike, what are you like As you cycle round the town? You're going up, you're going down You're going nowhere It's not as if they're paying you It's not as if it's fun At least not anymore When your legs are black and blue It's time to take a break When your legs are black and blue It's time to take a holiday Kid in the snow, way to go It only happens once a year It only happens once a lifetime Make the most of it Second just to being born Second to dying to What else could you do?" Rediscover your innocence and get this album... I'm sure you'll love it Ken
You'd BETTER read this coz it's taken me an hour +. Ok...I have a bootleg copy I admit it! But goddamn you don't know WHAT you're missing! If you're a faithful Radiohead fan then you'll have the albums and the stories behind them - you may even have some or all of the tracks off Amnesiac, but since the demise of Napster it's going to prove a lot harder unless you know your fansites. For the rest of you - here's an analysis of what to expect on Amnesiac: If you have read anything in the music press recently, you'll have seen that Amnesiac was said to be the more restrained songs that didn't go on to Kid A. While this can be said to be true for most of the songs on the album, there are a few tracks which knock Kid A's experimentality into next week. If you're looking for classic Radiohead, Amnesiac will definitely not disappoint. You may have heard Pyramid song - the first single - on the radio recently. It's definitely more in the classic Radiohead vein, while still branching out somewhat. If you're looking for the zany experimentation that featured so heavily on Kid A, you're not going to be disappointed either. There are some tracks that absolutely blew my mind the first time I heard them. This is to say nothing of the b-sides for the Pyramid song single that's out later in May. Anyway - on with the tracklisting: Tracklisting: ....01. packt like sardines in a crushd tin box ....02. pyramid song ....03. pull/pulk revolving doors ....04. you and whose army? ....05. i might be wrong ....06. knives out ....07. amnesiac/morning bell ....08. dollars and cents ....09. hunting bears ....10. like spinning plates ....11. life in a glass house Track 01: packt like sardines in a crushd tin box Starting out with what sounds like a crazy electronically-enhanced bongo solo, the bass line comes
in, then a organ-synth then finally thom's singing. "After years of waiting. Nothing came. As your life flashed before your eyes. You realised. I'm a reasonable man - get off get off get off my case." It's a mix between idioteque from Kid A (the bassline) and more standard radiohead songs. Its electronic influences are very clear - hints of Aphex Twin, and Warp records in general are still apparent. It's a nice introductory song to the album and by the end of the first listen you'll find yourself tapping your foot or singing along to the chorus. Track 02: pyramid song When I saw Radiohead playing live last summer, this was one of the most memorable songs that I saw them play at the first gig I went to. It's a beautiful piano-based song that Thom at one gig told us only used 3 chords. Every time they played the song they had glitterballs which lit up the venue with sparkly light - always sent shivers down my spine because of the song - "I jumped in the river and what did I see? Black-eyed angels swimming with me. A moon full of stars and astral cars, and all the figures I used to see. All my lovers were there with me, all my pasts and futures." There was a full moon that first night I saw them, and it was in a Roman amphitheatre in the south of France, so when you hear this song, imagine that and you can understand what I mean. Pyramid song is a beautiful song, mainly piano with some strings and some drumming that is reminiscent of the cymbal-based accompaniment of lots of jazz songs. Heart-rending Radiohead at its best. Track 03: pull/pulk revolving doors This is the most bizarre track on the album, and I'm still not sure if I like it or not. Thom's speaking through a voice box and there's some fuzzy basslines that consists of the main part of the beginning. Then there are some sampled synth bits that come in later. "There are trapdoors." &
quot;There are sliding doors, there are secret doors" - it's hard to make out what exactly what it is sometimes. I think I'd like the song more if there was less of the constant fuzzy bass - it's a very interesting departure into the realms of Aphex Twin and beyond. It's definitely the least approachable song, but nevertheless as I listen to it now it is growing on me. Track 04: you and whose army? You may have seen the press on this. Back last year at the Meltdown festival when radiohead played, Thom dedicated this song to Tony Blair and said sarcastically "I'm only sorry I never got to shake his hand". The press immediately picked up on this and took this song as being a direct criticism of Tony and his cronies. Whether or not this is the case is beside the point. It's a great song "Come on...come on...you think you drive me crazy. Come on, come on. You and whose....army. You and your...cronies. Come on. Come on. For your Roman Empire. Come on if you think. Come on if you think. You can take us on." It's a gentle double bass and guitar accompaniment to the first half of the song, then the bass picks up and the piano kicks in too. Ed joins in to harmony with Thom and the song gains new life. Another song that you'll like whatever kind of Radiohead fan you are Track 05: i might be wrong A strong start with a guitar riff and a drum-beat to match it. "i might be wrong i could have sworn i saw a light coming on. i used to think there was no future left at all i used to think." It's definitely a return to the guitar-based OK Computer-type song, and one for the oldskool and newskool fans alike. It differs a bit from the live versions they played last summer, but it's still brilliant. The guitar is a joy to listen to, and Thom's singing is as inspired as ever. There's an exceptionally good guitar solo towards the en
d by Jonny that seems to be the start of a new song as there is a pause before it, but it continues and is almost like a part-2 of the song as the tempo and feel changes. A wailing Yorke and a gradually increasing guitar presence builds up for the final climax. Track 06: knives out This is fast becoming my favourite song on the album. I always quite liked it when I heard them live, but as I hear it on the album I like it even more. It's haunting, but rocking at the same time. The guitar bits have been finely crafted and deserve equal amounts of your attention as Thom's singing. The guitar that accompanies at some points seems reminiscent of a spanish mariachi's solo. "I want you to know...it's not coming back. Look into my eyes. I'm not coming back. So knives out. Catch the mouse. Don't look down. Shove it your mouth." I don't know what to say about this song - it's absolutely brilliant and I'm having a very hard time of doing it justice here... Track 07: amnesiac/morning bell "What's this?" I hear you say. No, you're not mistaken. Morning bell WAS on Kid A. When asked why it appeared on Amnesiac too, Thom said that it was completely different from how it was on Kid A, and they felt it deserved to go on. Well evidently so since it's the album's title track. This version is much more relaxed, and missing Phil's excellent off-beat drumming, but as with the other songs, it has grown on me, and stands out as a great song in its own right. It's very fitting to have called it Amnesiac - I've now almost forgotten what the original sounded like! Track 08: dollars and cents Lots of cymbals. Lots of percussion. A bit of guitar. A bit of synth. There's a repetitive cymbal and drum pattern that holds throughout the song as thom sings along. The song builds up getting more chaotic and louder as it goes along, then calms
down again for a bit with some harmonised singing. "We are the dollars and cents...and the pounds and the pence...the mark and the yen and we're gonna CRACK your little skulls" It's a great song, hard to describe, but definitely won't disappoint any fan. Track 09: hunting bears Wow! I never thought I'd rave so much about a guitar solo. Let alone one that's only 2 minutes long. It's a really evocative track despite its length and simplicity. There's a great almost sitar-like guitar and an organ synth playing a few notes in the background. That's it but it's absolutely BRILLIANT Track 10: spinning plates There's a lot of weird scratchy/windy noises at the beginning then a lot of fade-in synth sounds (this is because they reversed the song when editing and Thom sang the words backwards). The fade-in effect really gets you to pay attention because very little in the way of music gains in volume and reaches its peak at the end of the beat. I can see this track being remixed and played in clubs - it's got that vibe about it. When you first hear Thom singing, the words are pretty much unintelligible. Fair play since he's singing backwards. Then after a while you can make out what he is saying. "And this just feels like - spinning plates. I'm living in cloud cuckoo land" It's a really interesting song, and I only wish it was longer. It's almost 4 minutes but it's a ways into the song before you hear the vocals. Track 11: life in a glass house OH MY GOD! They really saved the biggest treat for last. I was in love with this song the minute I heard it. It's Radiohead doing Jazz! Humphrey Lyttleton the famous jazz trumpeter is featured on this track. If you'd have told me a few months ago that Thom would sing jazz I couldn't have imagined it. It's absolutely brilliant! &quo
t;Don't talk politics and don't throw stones your royal highnesses. But of course I'd like to sit around and chat, but of course I'd like to stay and chew the fat" If you like jazz you'll love this. If you like radiohead you'll love this. If only for curiousity's sake, get the album to listen to this. It is WELL worth it. right that concludes my review of Amnesiac I hope you found it helpful Ken
I just came back from my Grandfather's funeral in Canada and we had flown Air Canada. He died last week and so my mum and I had to fly out to Canada for the funeral etc. We got the phonecall at about 5pm on sunday and so had to find a flight out to Toronto for the next day. British Airways quoted me a price of £2570 roughly EACH for a flexible return ticket. I called up Air Canada and their London office was closed, but it transferred me automatically to their HQ in Canada where I spoke to a very helpful lady. Initially she quoted a price of about £2500, but when she found out that it was my grandfather's funeral she told me there was a bereavement rate that gave you a discount of 75% on any of the flights. I hope you are never in the position that you need to take advantage of this, but if you are, then bear Air Canada in mind. I was about to book two of those tickets, but then she found a cheaper fare of about £600 for an open-ended return which my mum needed, and a fixed return for me of £300. Considering that I was booking about 18 hours before we were due to fly out, I am extremely impressed with the results. A big thank you to Air Canada who made a difficult time a lot easier. As to the flights themselves, Air Canada have an older fleet than say Virgin Atlantic, so there aren't tv screens in the back of the seat headrests and the in-flight entertainment is thereby quite limited. Food is adequate and the drinks are free as with most airlines. Punctuality has always been good, and staff are always ready to assist.
Napster - it's probably the second most famous computer program after Windows nowadays. Even people who have never touched a computer have heard of the Napster saga. It's sad to see that it seems Napster is finally losing its battle and that it will be either shut down or emasculated so much that it will be unrecognisable. I noticed recently to my interest that IBM has scrapped plans to manufacture a copyright-friendly range of Hard Disks. Quite rightly - who wants to buy something that is limited in its use. No-one willingly admits to piracy when buying a computer, but that doesn't mean they're going to be a virtuous citizen and buy what one commentator called "crippleware". My argument for allowing Napster to continue is as follows: People who really like music buy CDs with music on they are into. People who don't really like music all that much and have a superficial interest tend to tape compilations from friends' CDs and don't tend to buy much. People who download from Napster fall into those two categories. The record companies argue that mp3s inhibit record sales, but that is in my opinion not true. MP3s allow the music to be heard more extensively, and the only people who don't go and buy the CDs are people who wouldn't have bought them anyway. I for one like having a CD in my hand and being able to look at the artwork etc. There's no comparison between an mp3 on your computer and a CD jewel box. If I've found music I like on Napster, and if I like it sufficiently then I will buy it. It's the same with hearing it on the radio. Nothing more, nothing less. The only reason record companies are making a fuss is they are not getting royalties and also they see an opportunity to make a quick buck. I very much doubt anyone is going to subscribe to a fee-based napster, since there are other alternatives available
, and it is sad that we will most likely see Napster go.
And no this review is not all about how to make the best funnel to drink beer through, or the best drinking games, although I might mention some. Basically, I'm half way through my university career at the moment and I thought I'd share with you some of my pearls of wisdom right from GCSEs onwards. I hate to put pressure on you people choosing your GCSEs... I know university seems like a lifetime away, but the problem is a lot of people rule themselves out of a career option early by not doing the right GCSEs. Take for example a friend of mine from school who having got to A-levels decided he wanted to do a medicine-related job. He hadn't taken biology GCSE and so had to take it while in his A-level year at the same time as his A-levels. So think long and hard one day about all the things you might want to do when you're out of university, and choose those GCSEs carefully. Now - to A-levels... every student's worst nightmare. First of all you have to choose three or four subjects which you're going to study in depth and up close. You should choose them on the basis of what you enjoy, and also what you'll need for your chosen career path. If you haven't decided yet, then choose A-levels you think will be useful whatever field you go into. I know a lot of people who tell students to choose the subjects the like the most, but I'm beginning to feel that isn't the best advice. Although you may like the subject, it may be of no use at all in your future. People always say schooldays should be the best time of your life, but you've got to balance that with the fact you're going to have to live with the decisions you've made for the rest of your life. OK - on to the sixth form and you're doing your A-levels. Finally the dreaded day comes where you're forced to fill in your UCAS form and choose a course and university. Please... I can't stress ENOUGH, that you sh
ouldn't just choose a university on the basis of whether your girlfriend/boyfriend/best mates are going there. This is probably the worst thing you can do. Choose the university with the course that is best suited to you. Choose the best university you can get into. You're going to make lots of new friends if you go to a university with few or none of your friends from home, and then you'll have twice as many friends. If you stick in a bunch of friends from home you're not going to enjoy university life as much - Britain's universities are the most culturally and socially diverse of many countries because people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to get in. Make the most of it and branch out. A-level results roll around and hopefully you've got the grades you want. At this point I'll mention gap years, because for me, it was only after I'd got my results that I decided I wanted to defer a year and take a year off. Equally you can decide this before you fill in the UCAS form, but bear in mind that whatever universities may say, they CAN be put off by this. Gap years - I didn't really do that much on mine. I travelled around Canada, and I did a bit of music journalism at home in the UK, but you could make much more use of it than that. DON'T go and be badgered into taking a gap year in Mozambique teaching English to children, or picking grapes in France, or anything like that unless you actually want to. Great - CV material but you'll have spent months hating it. Another thing - so far I've never had anyone ask me why I didn't do much in my gap year. It's not going to help you that much to say you did ploughing in deepest Africa if you can't show a genuine enthusiasm and interest in what you did. Employers and universities are after genuine people, not CV-fillers. University - you'll have to find somewhere to live. Most people opt for living in halls in their
first year - it's an easy introduction into university - you're unlikely to starve unless it's self catered and you blow your entire year's living expenses on beer in the first week. Halls can be good, but the problem I found with them is it was too clinical. Everyone had their own room and that was it. There were a few communal areas, but it didn't feel like home... Still, it's a good start. You'll meet people from other courses, even other universities if it's an intercollegiate hall, and you may find people to share a flat or house with the next year. If you end up in a flat or house, then make sure you've got a responsible person to handle bills, rent, and kick everyone out of bed on Saturday morning to go shopping. MAKE SURE YOU BUDGET. Everyone goes a bit wild in Freshers Week/Fortnight, and ends up paying for it for the rest of the term. It's all too easy to stop by Pizza Hut one day and blow the next two days food budget on a pizza. Allow for this and you'll be fine. Bear in mind you'll also want to buy magazines/cds/games etc. I can't suggest a sure-fire way of sorting your finances because I'm appalling at it myself - just find a system that works for you. Do some work - everyone tells you this, no-one pays any attention. I did virtually nothing during my first year and had to swot up at the end. I got through, but I don't want to have to do that again. It's way too stressful. Going to lectures also helps - it's amazing how much you can miss in a single lecture... OK...I think that's all I can think of for the moment - any additions, comments, death threats - please post them in a comment. Ken
Xfm was once called "London's only Alternative". After spending AGES with temporary radio licenses, they finally built up a strong enough listener base to justify a permanent license. The quality and variety of the music then was INCREDIBLE. They played everything from Mogwai to Arab Strap, and championed a lot of bands that have now become mainstream. It's not so long ago that many of the people in the top of the indie charts were fledgling indie kids and getting their first and only airplay on Xfm. Ricky Gervaise of 11 O'clock show fame was a DJ on the old Xfm, and along with the others produced a great mix. Unfortunately the owners then got an offer they couldn't refuse from Capital FM to buy out Xfm. For 4 days before the station was transferred, the DJs walked out and Capital was forced to play a tape-loop to fill in. The quality, range and sheer volume of music deteriorated drastically and Capital managed to lose virtually all the listeners. There were numerous "Save Xfm" gigs around the capital, complaints lodged with the broadcasting authority, and even a brick thrown through Capital's window. Since then Xfm has gradually been recovering, and there are some specialist music shows which showcase new music and play stuff other than the usual boring old tat that's played to death everywhere. It's still a shadow of its former self, but with any luck and a lot of pressure, then it will return to its past glory.