The Blue Ribbon Glee Club is a Windy City-based a capella group who’ve been performing covers of classic punk and indie rock since 2007. In 2009, they released their E.P., A Capella Über Alles, on Whistler Records, the house label of my absolute favorite cocktails-and-music bar in Chicago. It should be noted that both the group’s formation and the E.P.‘s release predate the debut of that one TV show. It was about, like, a choir or something? I forget what it was called.
For the record, The Blue Ribbon Glee Club has been around since March 2007. We’re predominantly a live performance group. For us, it’s not about whitewashing rock and roll, it’s about using our voices to embody the same power and dirt that ultimately drew us to the songs we cover. But sure, some of it sounds pretty.
PJ Harvey showcased a selection of songs from her album Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, along with some of her best known numbers, at the Benicassim Festival, Spain, in August 2001.
Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea won Harvey her first Mercury Award (her second was for Let England Shake in 2011), she is the only artist (so far) to have won the prize twice, and deservedly so—unlike some of the other winners….
01. “One Line”
02. “The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore”
03. “Good Fortune”
05. “Rid of Me”
06. “Down by the Water”
07. “Big Exit”
Shaker Aamer is a Saudi citizen who was living in South London with his British wife and children up until he was imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay detention camp eleven years ago. He was cleared for release in 2007 and has yet to be even charged with a crime. Despite having worked as a translator for the U.S. Army during the Persian Gulf War, the US has refused to send him back to the UK, despite his requested delivery multiple times. There are also concerns the US may deport him to Saudi Arabia instead of back to his family in England. Aamer has recently reported sexual assault from prison guards and regular violence. He has been on a hunger strike for the past four months.
PJ Harvey makes no bones about deromanticizing the glories of war. Her 2011 album, Let England Shake was a brutally disheartening examination of Britain during wartime—she actually did extensive research on the Gallipoli Campaign and sought out first-hand accounts of soldiers and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan for inspiration. It’s one thing to speak on the horrors of war (even the most bloodthirsty of hawks do that) and quite another to object to a specific political injustice in defiance of powerful institutions.
“We hope people listen to this song and think about Shaker Aamer’s plight: detained for 11 years, without charge or trial – despite having been cleared for release by both Bush and Obama.”
“The UK government must do everything it can to bring Shaker back home to his wife and kids in London, where he belongs. PJ Harvey has written a wonderful song – I know Shaker will be deeply moved by it, and I only hope that, with the support of the public, he will one day be able to listen to it in freedom.”
PJ Harvey was recently awarded an MBE on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Aamer with daughter, Johninh, and son Michael. He has two other children, one of whom, born after his detainment, he has not met.
Fast-paced 1958 thriller: a jilted train driver hi-jacks his New York subway train to exact revenge upon his love rival, only to threaten the life of his ex-lover. The last 30 pages are missing. Don’t know if she survives.
Christophe Gowans is a Graphic Designer and Art Director, who once designed for the music industry (with Peter Saville Associates, Assorted Images, amongst others) and has since produced some stunning work for Blitz, Esquire, Modern Painters, Stella and The Sunday Telegraph.
Christophe is also the talent of a series of fun, collectible and original art works that re-imagine classic albums as book covers.
Alternative scientific textbook from the 60s. Californian professor Floyd achieved enormous success with this study of the moon’s influence on the menstrual cycle. Indeed, he was able to found his own college, specialising in the study of women’s fertility. The college no longer exists. It was shut down in 1972, having been razed to the ground by a mob of angry husbands.
More of Christophe’s ‘Record Books’, after the jump…
If you’re new to Dangerous Minds then let me give you a little heads-up: I love all kinds of music and I promote a diverse bunch of bands and artists on this website. But I do have favorites - Nick Cave, Patti Smith, The Ramones, Leonard Cohen, The Clash, Joy Division, Bad Brains, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Arthur Lee, Roky Erickson and The Velvet Underground, are all lovingly and neatly stacked in the mausoleum of my DM archives - along with many unsung, forgotten or once-vilified bands,
Despite the somewhat “classic” collection of bands listed above, I do dig a shitload of new music. But the latest hipster top ten comes and goes as quickly as atrial tachycardia, suddenly accelerating the rock n’ roll heart before the thick bloody muscle kicks back to its old familiar rhythm.
New bands, new music, glide across my digital windshield, linger for a split-second, before the jittery wipers of my ADD thrust the whole sonic mess to the margins of consciousness, to join an ever-growing tidal pool of abandoned one-hit wonders and lost geniuses awash with the splintered wreckage of the good ship Adderall, where nervous little sailors once sang songs by Yeasayer, Interpol and Vampire Weekend.
You can take or leave what I’ve said in the preceding paragraphs, it’s just a bunch of linguistic horsehit that writers spew when they talk about rock and roll. If you’ve read Lester Bangs, then you know the sentiment, an intellectual finger fuck leading up to the real fucking deal: the music of an artist that excites by just doing what artists do: being fearless, reckless and challenging themselves. The beauty about rock and roll is no one really took it seriously, so those of us who do have a huge latitude in which to fail. PJ Harvey rarely fails.
PJ performing at Les Eurockéennes Festival in Belfort, France, on 3 July 2004.
01 Uh huh her
02 The whores hustle and the hustlers whore
03 Who the fuck ?
04 The letter
05 Dress06 Evol
07 Perfect day elise
09 You come through
10 The darker days of me and him
11 Down by the water
12 Life and death or Mr. badmouth
13 Good fortune
14 Meet th monsta
15 Cat on the wall
18 Big exit
Two days after winning the Mercury Music Prize for her album Let England Shake (a record-setting second win in 10 years, let’s not forget, the first being for Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea) PJ Harvey and her band arrived in Manchester to play a live show at the legendary and cavernous Apollo, a show I was lucky enough to see.
Lucky in that I got to witness what was an excellent performance and a great reminder of just what a good songwriter Polly Harvey is. The huge Apollo stage was minimally decorated, and yet Harvey and her three backing musicians (John Parrish, Mick Harvey and Jean-Marc Butty) managed to dominate it. Harvey had her own solo set up away from the others on the left hand side of the stage, while the band and their kit were grouped together further back on the right. But this wasn’t a disjointed or egotistical affair; it worked perfectly, and each member got their own turn in the (literal) spotlight.
Stepping in and out of the light seemed to be a theme of the show, with a group of spotlights and a constantly working smoke machine at the back of the dark stage being the only concessions to design (apart from the church-pugh style bench Mick Harvey was sat on). Polly Harvey looked amazing in a black Victorian-gothic dress with matching head gear - an inverted version of what she wore at the Mercury’s - and at the moments when she was freed from playing her zither or guitar she slinked in and out of the heavy smoke and bare light like an undead spirit emerging from her tomb. Those moments stood to remind the audience just how magnetic a performer Harvey is, even when she’s doing hardly anything.
Harvey has seemingly abandoned the notion of guitar, bass and drums and a traditional rock-band set-up, and much like Bjork, focussed on creating a unique and unusual sound world of her own. So Mick Harvey plays a distorted electric piano, Parrish backs him up on guitar and/or a Nord synth, and Butty focuses his drums around floor toms played with maracas, and a military, marching-style snare. The three backing musicians swapped instruments and places regularly, and all got their turn on vocals. Having not had a chance to listen to Let England Shake yet I was very impressed with the songs, which were delicate, moving, and surprisingly very short. The atmosphere of loss and melancholy was at times very powerful, without descending into patronising hectoring that is the failure of most “protest” music. The show’s set list comprised of Let England Shake played through in it’s entirety, and a final section (including encore) of some older favourites including “Down By The Water” and “C’Mon Billy”. Harvey proved that she is a mistress of the “less is more” school of performance and the show was all the more engaging for it.
As I said before I was lucky to get in to the gig - lucky to see such a beautiful and moving show, but also lucky in that I managed to be in the right place at the right time to be offered a free guest list place. Otherwise I wouldn’t have gone - the tickets for the show (including booking fee) were a frankly extortionate £40. As excellent a performer and writer as Harvey is, I just can’t see how the show justifies the cost of that ticket. Maybe this is what the promoters knew they could get away with charging, or maybe it’s just the way the live music industry in general is headed. But there were no support acts and Harvey’s set lasted only one hour and twenty minutes - a few people I spoke to after the show said they didn’t think it was worth the price. And those were fans that enjoyed it too.
Perhaps when PJ Harvey tours Let England Shake outside the UK the tickets will be cheaper. I certainly hope so, because as many people as possible deserve to see this show. Here are a couple of clips from YouTube uploader Pogonka - they are bit shaky but the audio quality isn’t bad:
PJ Harvey “Let England Shake” live Manchester Apollo 9/8/11
PJ Harvey “The Glorious Land” live Manchester Apollo 9/8/11
PJ Harvey receives an award from Mick Jones and Don Letts and performs “The Words That Maketh Murder” at New Musical Express awards show in London, February 23.
In live performance, I prefer PJ in her rock and roll guitar-slinging goddess mode as opposed to the new autoharp-strumming hippie thing. But her new album, Let England Shake, is as satisfying as anything she’s ever recorded. It’s the rare collection of songs that rewards repeated listening.
PJ Harvey talks about her new album Let England Shake on New Musical Express TV.
Harvey explains how politics, Stanley Kubrick, Ken Loach and Harold Pinter have influenced her recent songwriting.
Let England Shake hits the streets on February 15. It’s the most eagerly awaited album, for me, of 2011 so far. The tracks I’ve heard are a return to her peak form of Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea. You can buy the CD here.
“The Words That Maketh Murder” is the single from PJ Harvey’s new album Let England Shake which will be released on February 15. Of what I’ve heard of the album so far, this is sounding like Harvey’s best work in years. I do so want to love it.
Rough Trade has released “The Words That Maketh Murder” on 7 inch vinyl. Got a turntable? Get the single here.
This premiered today on PJ Harvey’s website. The song is “The Last Living Rose” and it’s a track from her album Let England Shake which will be released in the States on February 15. Based on what I’ve heard of the album so far, it sounds to me like Harvey’s best songwriting since Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea.
A short film, directed by the esteemed award-winning photographer Seamus Murphy, will premiere right here on Monday December 20th. Murphy has directed a series of short films to accompany all 12 songs on Harveys new album Let England Shake, The Last Living Rose will be the first to air.
The 12 films will feature still and moving images from a 5,000 mile road-trip Murphy undertook around England. He has worked similarly with still photography on journeys through America and Russia.
Inspired and developed from themes in the new album, the films were made in the manner of classic photographic reportage - recording real & spontaneous situations. They make up a visual diary of Murphys journey, travelling light and alone, and his attempt to document England and the English.
Murphy has mixed his observations on England with images from his work in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East - places Polly refers to in her depiction of England. The film soundtrack, the studio recording of the album Let England Shake, is mixed at times with footage and audio Murphy captured of Harvey in rehearsal and in performance. In addition some of the album lyrics were given a voice by people he encountered on his journey.”
In honor of his birthday, here’s some truly wonderful Robert Zimmerman esoterica! On his Sirus XM show, Theme Time Radio Hour, Bob Dylan sometimes (infrequently, I’m guessing) features the often hilarious musings of his pal and fellow troubadour, Tom Waits. Now, thanks to Aquarium Drunkard, you can catch up with five of those segments here.
Dig if you will Dylan’s nasally intro to the Body Parts segment, “I don’t tell a lot of people this, but Tom Waits and I have been sending cassettes back and forth to each other for quite some time.” Wow, how do I get taped dispatches from Tom Waits sent to me?! And to demonstrate how even the most familiar of Dylan compositions can be stretched like silly putty, here’s PJ Harvey‘s take on Highway 61 Revisited: