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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

WHAT I DONE ON MY HOLIDAYS (VOLUME TWO) 

Reading matter for the Ibiza holiday was as follows:

PIGS CAN FLY - BARRY CRYER


Writer, performer, quiz show panellist, a man with two hundred and forty seven years in show business under his belt, Barry Cryer has gathered together a number of anecdotes (some are his own, some are of apocryphal origin but you kind of hope they are genuine).

The husband read this last year in the Algarve and recalled one story about a City gent on a train which made me laugh loudly while I was sat outside a pub (I was slightly drunk). Reading it again while sober made me laugh even more a year later. I am pathetic.

Disappointingly, there are only a couple of stories about boarding house landladies (the old standby for veteran showbiz types) but generally it's a top read. A lot of old comedians seem to die, suddenly, in the middle of having a sitdown with a cup of tea, and after about half an hour someone will say "he's gone a bit quiet" before anyone realises what has happened.

Recommended because you can read it in a couple of hours straight and have a larff in the process. Probably better in that respect than reading Underworld by Don Delillo, say.

HAMMER OF THE GODS - STEPHEN DAVIS


I've intended to read this one on holiday for the past three years, but never got around to it until now. The unauthorised biography of Led Zeppelin is now regarded as a classic of the genre. I love pop music but rarely bother to read books about pop music because, face it, most people in bands are dull bastards and all of the remotely spicy stuff will have been edited out so you are left having to read their bletherings about the "magical chemistry" of the band and how they used a mandolin when recording the second album etc., etc.

Fortunately, Mr Davis (the pasty faced snooker player) serves up the horrible side of the Zep, e.g., Jimmy Page (nearly thirty at the time) kidnapping a fourteen year old girl, dumping her for a slightly older model a year later then accusing her of being too young to tell the difference between reality and fantasy. Eugh. Or John Bonham's epic booze sessions when the otherwise nice bloke would turn into "the Beast".

Quite funny to read about Robert Plant enthusing about peace, love and the '60's while Led Zeppelin employed hard-as-fuck borderline gangsters for management and security. A lot of people seemed to get beaten up.

Mr Davis uses excitable, slightly corny prose to tell the, erm, greatest story every told. He seems to sort of buy into the myth of the band selling their soul to the Devil, but it's pretty entertaining nonetheless.

Think about it: would any writer be able to convince you that Keane or The Feeling have sold their souls to the Devil? They would deserve a several million pound advance if they did ...

Incidentally, the first time that you heard Dazed And Confused - was your heart in your mouth? If it wasn't you are

(i) smug, an anal retentive, only like "tasteful" music

or

(ii) dead, probably.

The Zep rock, and you have to come to terms with that fact eventually.

Comments:
I'd love to sit in on the fantasy editorial meeting in which Delillo's editor said, "It's quite good Don, a bit long perhaps, and it could do with a couple of jokes. How about you read this Barry Cryer book and crib a couple?"

Truth is, Don Delillo was quite funny until he started to believe his press cuttings.

Haven't read Hammer of the Gods but I keep meaning to.
 
Yay, mama! Spread the word!

As regards Mr. DeLillo. I got halfway through 'Underworld' and decided to send it to the great library in the sky.

I couldn't stand the excitement.

(Or is it excrement?)
 
The first time I head Dazed and Confused I was Dazed and Confused. I wish I still was.
 
Rob and TC - I've always been put off reading the copy of Underworld that's upstairs because I've been told about the massively boring description of a baseball match that goes on and on for about 200 pages at the beginning. I might give it a go if I'm feeling very masochistic though.

Kaz - these days I'm not necessarily dazed but I'm getting more confused. As Jimi Hendrix said.
 
I wonder how much Percy got from the Beeb for them using Immigrant Song for the Life on Mars trails?
 
absolutely. i think it was their music that brought me into puberty so early.
and they did dabble in a bit of spooky bookery. which i ignore.
 
Richard - well, as grans everywhere say, money goes to money.

First Nations - the book doesn't really go into much about Jimmy Page's interest in the "black arts" but he did purchase a home that had belonged to Aleister Crowley. The 1970's, eh?
 
"most people in bands are dull bastards" Discuss.

Ans. 1: Oh God, are we? Have to do something about this.

Ans. 2: Too true. That's shrewdly urged. Could this be why the visual element and the supposed 'style' attached to it are so crucial? Is it all just pimping?
 
I thought I'd left a comment here but obviously not.

Erm...

Barry Cryer RAWKS!!!

(will that do?)
 
A mandolin on the second album? That's interesting. I know they used one on the third album, but the second...did it say which track?
 
Betster,

Cryer told a lovely anecdote on some TV show or other that always stuck in my mind. He heard noises coming from the kitchen in the middle of the night only to find his young grandson crawling around on the kitchen floor. "What on earth do you think you're doing?" asked a clearly bemused Barry.

The little boy replied, "this."


I always thought Steve "interesting" Davis was more a soul boy. Fluffy Dice of the Gods seems more likely...
 
I've got 'Underworld' looking at me ominously from the bookshelf as I type. Still not plucked up the courage to read it, but after finishing Pynchon's 'Mason & Dixon' I feel I've earnt a long novel reprieve for a while at least.

As for rock biogs, you were obviously keen on 'Hammer Of The Gods' for the subject matter, but the Motley Crue book 'The Dirt' is supposed to be quite a read too. My personal recommendation on that score is 'Our Band Could Be Your Life' by Michael Azerrad - chapters on bands like Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, Fugazi, Beat Happening, Black Flag etc. A must if you've got any interest in the American underground from the early to mid 1980s - though if you haven't it might not be the most exciting read.
 
Interpreter - I suppose it was another of my sweeping generalisatins. Mind you, the fact that someone is a good musician doesn't necessarily mean that they have charisma. A lot of what pop music is about is surface and the "style" element you mentioned. Not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that.

Billy - Barry Cryer kicks fucken ass, dude! ... as Owen Hargreaves might say.

Grunhaus - (adopts nerdy voice)... but The Battle Of Evermore is on Led Zeppelin IV! What was it about early '70's bands that made them want to use mandolins? Even Hot Chocolate had songs with mandolins on!

Robert - Barry Cryer's grandson seems to have studied Zen Buddhism.

Steve Davis once appeared on the Radio One show Roundtable and I'm pretty sure he said that he liked jazz funk music, predictably enough. Mind you, I can't imagine what he would have looked like in one of those pastel coloured stripy tops or "balloon" jeans with the white piping down the side.

Ben - whenever you finish a long and difficult to read book you always feel quite smug and full of virtue, don't you?

Talking of Dinosaur Jr, I read in a review that J Mascis was so tightfisted that he didn't like to employ bass players because they expected to be paid the same as guitarists, even though they played fewer strings! Sounds like one or two bosses I've worked for ...
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
The Zep did indeed rock.

It's a shame Percy Plant referred to himself as a 'golden god'.

Worra tosser.

And Jimmy page is a tight wad. Stingy get.
 
Jimmy Page was apparently known as Led Wallet because of his legendary stinginess. Whatever Led Wallet means ...
 
Steve Davis was heavily into some obscure French psychedelic band that nobody over here had ever heard of unless you did A level French in the 70s and had had a genuine French hippy type language assistant. In fact he was so into them that he financed a tour for them in the 80s. Can't for the life of me remember their name.
 
Magma they were called.

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/osm/story/0,,1160991,00.html
 
Thanks Richard - I knew that he was heavily into some band or another (I thought it was Magnum) that he financed. A bit of a leap from prog rock to jazz funk though.
 
Got to be a South London thing, look at Jim Davidson's obsession with Emerson Lake and Palmer for instance. Get Keith Emerson to show Nick Nick how he stabbed his Hammond organ with swords and there's potential for some gene pool cleansing.
 
It would be even better if Keith had used Jim for target practice ...
 
I've been in the same pub as Barry Cryer.
 
If I were to say
I've been in the same pub as Barry Cryer
I'm afraid I'd be making it up.
Indeed - I'd be a liar.
 
sur le sujet des pubs, my one-time employer's dad had a string of pubs in the Worcestershire and Warwickshire area, and they were amongst the few from which Bonzo wasn't barred. By all accounts he was indeed the alco-animal of legend.

Barry Cryer - ace. Jim Davidson - do we have to? My thoughts on LZ - recorded elsewhere, homage to cottage cheese. Mandolins? I've got Grateful Dead records, it goes with that bluegrass thang...
 
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