So there are all these hypothetical situations people talk about – five famous people you can have over for dinner; you can – apparently – traverse time with this (makes sense I guess, being that it’s a hypothetical). You can cherry-pick from the eras, have a seating plan that includes Abraham Lincoln sitting across from Lady Gaga and Norman Mailer leering at Drew Barrymore. You could of course play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon – or, you know, just have Kevin Bacon there. And, since I’m suggesting this online I should probably have Adolf Hitler along for the party right? Or I could just invite Mike Godwin. Let him join the dots… Read More
I really like
that Archie Bunker
character. I mean I wouldn’t
think much of him as a person – if he was
a real person…but as a character
(a very real character)
there’s so much there. Even still.
You wouldn’t (probably) get
away with it now – though the trick
seems to be to animate…
If it’s a cartoon it’s most definitely
not real – like constant subtitles/flash-cards
for the audience.
You’re allowed to laugh – because it can’t possibly
Archie Bunker was called the “Lovable Bigot” or
something like that.
The idea was he was ‘a laugh’ –
The show rolled out across the 1970s and then
into the 80s with Archie’s spinoff (which wasn’t
a patch, but it was still okay…)
I was a little kid
when I first watched
it. I barely understood
it. Was probably laughing
at my parents laughing.
Now it’s a revelation.
A relevant revelation.
A strange, mercurial
Carroll O’Connor played
Normal Lear wrote
Norman Lear is still
O’Connor is not.
Archie Bunker only
lives on in the memory
because Norman Lear, at 95, is a
living legend of TV – with so many
hits; not just All In The Family, not just
Archie Bunker’s Place.
He has said that he never imagined Archie
quite how Caroll O’Connor played him.
(I don’t think enough credit is given to ‘Edith’, Archie
Bunker’s wife, played by Jean Stapleton. She was Archie’s
enabler, his soulmate too. He loved her. Even when he
was telling her she was stupid, even as awful
as he got – he loved her! She was saintly, rather than
simple. She accepted him – and she was sweet. So that
allowed us to ‘accept’ him on whatever level).
What on earth I’m
trying to say here is now
lost to me – entirely…
…beyond the fact
that Archie Bunker was
real. His bigotry came
from a tough, working-class
life – of that time. He was
honest – he was opinionated,
he was cruel. He was real.
I feel nothing close to
him. And yet so
close to him.
All In The
Family feels like some
weird, mystic documentary
sometimes. A broad, silly
pantomime at others…
(which doesn’t mean
it’s still not a doco, of sorts)
You can see and feel
Archie Bunker being turned
into caricature when you
watch South Park, when you
hear and see him,
that awful little shit, Eric
Cartman. Ranting and cussing
and throwing out racial slurs and
homophobic rants. And this. And
that. And what-have-you.
Cartman and South Park: also funny,
profoundly clever. Sure.
But never as real.
Never quite right – the aim, I guess,
being satire on a broader scale, an intentionally
Archie Bunker was
a Trojan Horse
of a sort.
And it takes
all sorts. Across
TV and in real life.
I’ll end this here.
(In a minute).
Because this isn’t
quite the poem or essay
I might have hoped for.
But Archie Bunker’s
on my mind. A lot
And that’s all I’ve
We all know that lists are subjective – that is the point of them. So I’ve decided to do a series of top 10 albums across genres. They’ll appear sporadically. And rather than call them “Top 10” I will call them ten of the most important – sorry if that sounds pretentious. It’s not meant to. It’s meant to describe the albums as being important to me, seminal in terms of turning me on to a genre, reminding me of the things I liked about a genre – reintroducing me, leading on to other similar (or disparate) musical ideas. Important in that sense.
Now punk might be a contentious subject – there’s British and American strains of punk and arguments to support each side as being originators. There is a punk particular to the 1970s and then to the 1980s. From the 1990s to the present day it becomes hard to know what’s going on. Green Day probably is The Sex Pistols of the 1990s and/or The Ramones too in terms of influencing so much that followed in its wake. But they might just be awful to you – or really important to you. Read More »
I started buying albums in the 70s and it was a great time for the cover artwork. I have to admit that was part of the attraction for me – those Hipgnosis and Roger Dean images grabbed my imagination. It was an essential aspect to enjoying an album for me.
By the time the Spines came to releasing our first record times had moved on, punk had struck and simplicity and a harder edge were to the fore. I’d already set the Spines “image” with the iconic poster – it had a post-cubist look and I figured I’d continue that onto the Fishing artwork. Read More »
Bressa Creeting Cake, Bressa Creeting Cake (1997)
I loved Bressa Creeting Cake – only saw them a small handful of times but such a great band. I remember reading about them, first formed as Breast Secreting Cake and then they took on these pseudonyms – becoming Joel “Bressa”, Geoff “Creeting” and Ed “Cake”. So Bressa Creeting Cake – all law firm-like. But what a great album this is – and was. A real treat to see it reissued on vinyl – I bought the CD many times over, replacing lost and scratched and stolen copies, buying it for friends. At one point I had one that stayed permanently in the car and one in the shelf inside the house (I didn’t even have a permanent CD player in the car, I had a discman that wasn’t affixed – I would balance it on my thigh while driving, if I braked hard or turned a corner sharply it would fall down onto the passenger side…) I was amazed when a copy of the brand new vinyl turned up on the doorstep care of Flying Nun. They almost always forget about me. I don’t think I’ve had a thing from them to review in two or three years, maybe longer…I gave up asking ages ago. So it was a total surprise to find this – and a brilliant one at that. I’ve never stopped loving this album, it’s never lost its appeal to me and I think it’s one of the finest, most unique Kiwi music releases in my lifetime. Also, the other thing that was cool was my wife actually bought me a copy of this for my birthday, so I was able to return that and get Massive Attack’s Mezzanine (from the same era). Another much needed addition to the collection too. BONUS! Read More »
Here we go – into the sixties – 1960 in fact. There are quite a few albums from this decade I haven’t heard – but I’m gonna guess that in most cases I’m familiar with the artist; largely due to the plethora of greatest hits compilations. In the late 1980s when the first real 60s revival occurred I was a young, impressionable cassette-tape buyer. And I was raiding the last of the records left in the house as my parents gave away far too many great LPs and started buying up CDs. So I know a lot of the music from compilations rather than the original albums. That’s the case here. Read More »
Lincoln Barr was at the helm of the great Red Jacket Mine (I loved that super-sharp, power-pop combo) and here he is, erm, steppin’ out in a way that completely makes sense with regard to his musical heroes. Where Red Jacket Mine explored the dynamic pop and roots-rock of Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson and Bruce Cockburn and co – here Barr is cast as lone crooner, offering his late night homilies against candle-light arrangements, the rainy-footstep brushwork of Calexico’s John Convertino helping to frame these 3am-of-the-soul maladies (Fond of Surprises). Read More »
So the title comes from PiL of course. This Is Not A Love Song.
Thinking, here, about anti-love songs, un-love songs…
Bob Dylan wrote a few bitter break-up/anti-love songs: Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright, Idiot Wind. Bob has written some really romantic lyrics too but he’s great with the kiss-off lines.
I sure hope nobody mentions Cee-Lo Green’s annoying gimmick song, F**k You (doh!) which he then completely softed-out on and re-released instantly as Forget You. Lame. But really it’s lame because it’s an inferior version of an idea explored some 40 years earlier, and far better in execution by the great Harry Nilsson. Read More »
The Stone Roses were a big deal – a right time/right place band that helped give rise to the Madchester scene/sound and to this day manage to live on in the hearts of fans because of, primarily, the self-titled debut album. There was Second Coming, five years later. And though it has its fans, those people tend to begin the sentence in defence of the album with “I actually really like…” The clue there is in the stress and use of the word “actually”. They know – deep down – it’s a bit of a dud. Almost a turkey. Read More »
Midnight Oil, Bird Noises [EP] (1980)
Midnight Oil – one of my all-time favourite bands; never not been a fan. The first tape I ever bought was a Midnight Oil album…and I liked them before that…a few songs on the radio (and Music TV) and since then I’ve collected up most of everything they’ve done first on tape, then on CD and now on vinyl. But this EP – their first EP, arriving after the first two albums – was always something I wanted but never got around to getting. I remember finding out about the two EPs after getting most of the original albums on tape in the early 1990s and then baulking at the price of buying a 4-track mini-album on cassette tape. It seemed a rip-off. Well, in a couple of weeks I’ll see Midnight Oil live for the first time – and I am super-excited about that. Gig of the year for me I reckon…anticipation-wise anyway. So nice to have this – finally – as part of the build-up. I love all periods of Midnight Oil, they didn’t make a bad album I reckon – but I do really love the almost punk-ish energy across the earliest material. What a band. Read More »
I love Sarah Vaughan but I really know her – mostly – from compilations. Well, no, I have a couple of the original albums – but I had never heard this. And it really is a treat; such a wonderful, relaxed feel to it, fluffed lines, and scatting in place of forgotten lyrics, a bump of a music stand here, false-start there. But Vaughan handles it all with aplomb. I always heard her as the bridge between Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday; that’s over-simplifying and maybe not even correct but it is how I heard her/how she was introduced to me. Read More »