Monday, 10 July 2006
Soul Deep/Fallen Angel...
There's nothing like a bit of Graham/Gram confusion of a Friday night is there? A glorious double bill of music programmes on Beeb 4 spoiled only by poor talking head selection and funk/country legend name pismronunciation. First up, Soul Deep - a great excuse for S. and I to practice our "James Brown" impersonation, as patented by Mark Lamaar. (Lamaar tells the story of how when he met James Brown he'd been instructed by S.B. #1's entourage to call him 'Mr. Brown'. Doing so, he was met with J.B.'s response "thaz James Brown" - as if it could really be anyone else....) Done by us, it's a sort of very loud, strangulated (and usually very drunken) shriek: "JAZE BRAU!!" A fabulous and pithy survey of the politicisation of soul music through the late 60s and early 70s, Soul Deep only slipped up when they got to Sly & the Family Stone. How many times do we have to tell these guys? It's not Larry Graham! It's pronounced GRAM!! (How else do you think that Graham Central Station gag gig is going to work??)
I have a great tape GCS made for me by old Uncle Gweekers. It's called The Absolute Dog's Bollocks of Graham Central Station and features their finest 8 1/2 minutes. It's a track called 'The Jam', and on it the band take turns to introduce themselves individually before soloing in the accepted overwrought 70s progressive tradition. The highlights are many - the fey and evidently gay Choc'late (funk box) spelling out his name after (by the sounds of it he is) writhing around naked groaning "o-o-o-o-n t-h-e f-u-u-u-n-n-n-k-k b-o-o-o-x-x-x, for several minutes then treating us to what sounds like the naffest ever automated drum pattern you get on bontempi organs occasionally interupted by a rhythical version of that farting sound you can make with your armpit. But special mention has to be made of their oriental drummer, Manuel "The Deacon" Kellough. His bit goes something like this (in a bizarre, over-the-top Chinaman "aah so" voice): "aaaaaah sobuddy coy. Gweetings. I wam not one of you. But I hopwing make you one off wus. My name is Wanuel. They caw me the Weacon. But when I pway my wums, you know why they caw me...... Man-u-wal" (he plays metronomically: boom ba cha, boom cha. boom ba cha, boom cha....)
Even Larry's spazztastic fuzz bass solo can't quite top that.
And he wasn't Graham Parsons, FFS! Does Graham Parsons sound like the kinda guy could melt your heart in the middle of winter with a bar or two of Hot Burrito #1?? Still, at least Keef was on hand, a navajo female impersonator resplendent in kohl pencil and rasta poodle rug, recounting how he talked Gram out of the Byrds gig in South Africa because they'd be playing to segregated audiences. "That sounds just like Alabama", Parsons replied, evidently shocked by the global preponderence of racist regimes. He knows his Grams from his Grahams, does Keef. In every sense. Spoilt aristo, or intuitive, transcendantal Country music saviour? the programme seemed to ask. Despite the varied testimony of family and friends, no one seemed to get as close to summing up the enigma that was GP as his former roadie Phil Kaufman. "If Gram was alive today, he'd still be dead...." claimed Kaufman. The guy who stole his body, saving it from the straight entombment his family had planned for it, sending him off instead as he would have wanted to go pretty much summed up the deathwish there, methinks. Doused in kerosene, the wind swirling across the Joshua Tree National Park hurling his flaming embers up towards that great 32nd floor in the sky, we can only hope that he really was dead.
Reading Don DeLillo's Underworld. It is fantastic. If you thought that 827 pages on a fictional lingerie factory in Weatherfield was too much, think again....
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