Monthly Archives: October 2013

Lou Reed

loureedDeath is a tragic thing, and doubly so when an artist whose work you admire and love so much dies.  Lou Reed made so much music that meant so much to me, and continues to inspire me.  And you will find few artists who made such a lasting impact on both music and culture.  Possibly only Paul McCartney and Bernard Sumner were comparably innovative in modern popular music.

For me, Reed was one of the Holy Trinity of rock and roll.  He was Rock the Father to Bowie’s Rock the Son, and Iggy’s Rock the Holy Ghost.  As another writer pointed out, he really gave us Bowie, and made Bowie possible.  And even if he had done nothing else, that would have been enough.  But there is such a legacy there in the form of simply great songs, right throughout his whole career.

I saw on one blog someone had tried to make out that with Reed, the Emperor had no clothes, and that his music was pretentious, art student wankery with no real merit.  And sure, at his worst Reed fit this stereotype.  And yes, there are a lot of pretentious, art student wankers out there who like to cite Reed and pretend that some of the stuff he did is more profound than it is, when much of it is him simply barking doggerel over bland, undistinguished MOR.  You can usually tell these people, because they’ll all say how much they like his late 1980s album New York!  Well New York has some great lyrics in it, but to pretend to like it as a set of songs just betrays you as a dick.  Those are not real songs.  No, Reed’s infamy is deserved not because he was cool to namedrop, but because he really did write some amazing music that people like to listen to because it is so damned good.

I don’t have all of Reed’s albums in the same way that I have slavishly collected Bowie’s, and after 1977 he never made an album you’d want to listen to the whole way through anyway.  But so much of his early work is indispensable.  There’s the four Velvet Underground albums (The Velvet Underground and NIco, White Light/White Heat, “The Grey Album”, Loaded), all classics, as well as several songs recorded for an album never released – Ocean, I Can’t Stand It, Lisa Says, Countess from Hong Kong.  Then there is the epic 1973 albums Transformer and Berlin, as well as the live albums Rock and Roll Animal, and Lou Reed Live.  You can’t go wrong with any of those.  Add to that the stellar Coney Island Baby from 1976 and the marvelous Street Hassle of 1977 and you’d be hard-pressed to find a collection of more perfectly-formed works.  I can count the duff songs on all those with one hand.  And even on much of his other work, flawed and/or dull as some of it is, there are still gems.  A song like Baton Rouge, from 2000’s Ecstasy, for example.  Perfect.

Lou Reed was a curmudgeon who lived a fairly dissolute life, but, to paraphrase one  of his own songs, his life was saved by rock and roll.  He was not a nice guy, but that was part of his charm.  His music was where you found his warmth and love, and it was where thousands upon thousands of people, including myself, have found such pleasure and enjoyment from him, and connected with him in a way that one could never do with him as a real life person.  His songs redeemed him, and they will always be with us to treasure.

Memory Eternal, Lewis Allan Reid.

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Album Review: Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks

ninSurveying the current state of ’90s alternative musicians is somewhat depressing.  Of that original gang of cultural iconoclasts, who is left?  Who is still doing relevant stuff?  Even Beck seems to have disappeared up his own rear end somewhat.

Trent Reznor is increasingly seeming like the last man standing.  His latest album, the first in four years, may prove to be one of his finest.  While Reznor has generally been pretty consistent in producing good quality music, most of it has been after a certain fashion, and very little would not have sat comfortably on his landmark album The Downward Spiral.  However, working on film soundtracks, and collaborating with Atticus Ross has had a profound, and positive, effect on Reznor’s music.  The songs here are more electronic, more danceable, slightly more subtle, and less ragingly distorted than one has normally come to expect from Nine Inch Nails.  Singles Came Back Haunted and Copy of A retain all the trademark menace, but without resorting to the quiet/loud/quiet/loud device that Reznor hitherto liked to employ.  And you can dance to them!

This is a great album, and it has been on high rotate on my stereo recently.  And for what it’s worth, my four year old twin daughters love it too, and like to practice a lot of their ballet moves to it!  Even if you are someone who has traditionally not liked Nine Inch Nails, you may well like this one.

Why Going to Hooters is Legitimate Council Expenditure

This fellow Tony Marryatt sounds like all kinds of dodgy.  So it’s bizarre that the focus of the article is not on the fact he went on so many junkets in the first place, but on the fact he went to Hooters twice, and spent – OMG!!! – $120 there.

Outgoing Christchurch City Council chief executive Tony Marryatt racked up nearly $9000 on his ratepayer-funded credit card in the last year, including more than $120 on two visits to the bawdy Hooters restaurant in the United States.

Figures released to The Press under the Official Information Act show Marryatt twice visited the restaurant chain in Phoenix, Arizona, famous for its young busty waitresses. He was there on a council managers’ conference a year ago.

Cr Tim Carter, who chairs the council’s audit and risk committee and often signed off credit card reports from senior staff, said he was “struggling to understand how spending money at a Hooters bar was council business”.

hootersBecause it’s not just a bar.  It’s actually a restaurant.  Two visits to a restaurant for two people and spending $120 over those two visits is not unreasonable at all.  It’s a meal and a couple of beers, nothing more.

Now to be sure, Hooters is not an upmarket establishment.  Its target market is married, middle-aged men who want to get a good meal, drink beer, and look at pretty college girls while they are doing it.  But it’s not a strip club.  Nobody takes their clothes off.  As weird as it seems to us New Zealanders, you see families with children eating there.  And the food is, by all accounts, pretty good.

If you were at a conference, and wished to bond with another middle-aged male over a reasonably priced meal and some beers, to discuss matters relating to local government, Hooters is not an unreasonable place to do business at all.  In fact you could do a lot worse.  It’s not my cup of tea personally, but that’s due more to matters of taste than any question of morality.

You would think Cr Carter, and Fairfax reporters, would never so much as let butter melt in their mouths!  They ignore the real issue of the junkets themselves, and focus on what is really a fairly benign aspect of his bill – a restaurant with a cheeky name and pretty girls who wait on your table.  Bugger me, but that describes half the Auckland Viaduct!  It’s not a story.