This is happy music, which is what I'm feeling I need more of these days.The singing, at least, is reminscent of The Bee Gees, though perhaps lacking quite the purity of tone of the Gibb brothers.The music itself is pleasantly inoffensive, which is necessary relief amid the intolerant minefield of today's most inequitable times: (welcome friends to neo-Dickensian Britain!)
Speaking of which,
reminds me of my favourite song lyrics here: "Music is the world, world of my own, it's better than any world that I know," which echoes my other love: that of Literature and Sidney Carlton's "It is a far far better place that I go to than I have ever known." Just so!
This should be a very welcomed addition to albums by such as "Spaceark" "The Chapparals" "Evans Pyramid" and "Mark IV" all of which have a similar slinky, polished, quality to them.Though the polish is dulled just a tiny tad on The Dream, where the young Michael Jackson impersonation that kicks it off hits a somewhat discordant closing note. Though the vibrato is non the less impressive for that and the the track opens out into something that is quite fabulous.The strength of the song writing and the general quality of sound throughout is excellent and the clever tempo changes on "Will You" have really grown on me.
I should be very worried that "For The Love of Music" led me to thinking of Barry Manilow. But it's so easy on the ears: the tune lapping out like gentle waves along a beach, I felt like I was on that holiday I need but can't afford to have.There are plenty of standouts here, from the title track, to "For The Love of Music." Ticking my funk instrumental box is "Think Fast" whilst "Gigi" is another favourite. For those who like Stevie Wonder, "Brighter Day" will certainly appeal.I may add that listening digitally doesn't do the album justice for me. Whereas my vinyl copy rocks.I was disappointed to discover that some of the digital tracks do not appear on the vinyl, a fact that isn't mentioned on Bandcamp.Even sites like this are becoming slick as estate agents!
I do like the bell sound on "I'm A Young Man," rather like the sound of a chiming cash register! Though I hope
mentioning that doesn't encourage the music critics here to use it as an excuse to label this album "psychedelic"
as seems to be the current fashion with any old genre of music featuring a slightly fuzzy guitar or an unusual instrument.(If it doesn't TAKE the psychedelic, TALK the psychedelic, WALK the psychedelic, and SOUND THOROUGHLY psychedelic: it ain't psychedelic! And neither for that matter is the snap and crackle of a sherbet dip!
But I'll take my excuse to scribble something further, from the cover photo.And a very amusing photo it is too, in a hirsute Seventies way.That look became more permed and preened by the eighties, though the number of hairs on display, from head to chest, remained about equal.Though what struck me most was the white jackets.
I had a white jacket.Not unlike one the guys are wearing in the cover photo.My
jacket was linen, which is my favourite cloth. Linen requires no ironing, and the crumpled effect, which is linen's trademark, lent my jacket a cool, well travelled look, made all the cooler by the countless films in which such jackets have been worn.To call the jacket white is a little misleading as linnen is, as often, a straw yellow.
From Alec Guinness in Graham Greene's "Our Man in Havana," to Bogart's Mr Rick and Sidney Greenstreet's mysterious Fat Man architype, in "Casablanca," the white linen jacket has become synonymous with the exotic and with the rumpled cool.The smokey, sweaty jazz club wouldn't be what it is today without the white linen jacket; nor would Cuba, or the secret agent, or indeed the screen detective; Don Johnson's jacket was the best actor, by far, in Miami Vice, and i'm sure it only failed itself to win the Emmy because Johnson's agent was the more
powerful.White linen became
more iconic through the pop video boom of the 1980's (though Simon Le Bon and his ilk did more to blemish linen's reputation for me than to enhance it).
Largely as a consequence of my love, at the time, for all things Graham Greene, and especially my favourite travel read, "Stamboul Train," I wore my white linen jacket in Istanbul when I went to work teaching literature there.White linen being de rigueur for those who plan on living in hotter climbs.It
also seemed the right type of wear for the faded grandeur of that historic city.
One day I took a boat across the Sea of Marmara to the archipelago: the tiny Princes' Islands, where you can still take a horse-drawn wagon up to an old Greek Orthodox Church, on one island's top, or sit looking out from a restaurant across the crystal blue waters of the Marmara; or even stay for a night or two, as I did, at a white galleried colonial style hotel which was once a temporary home to Trotsky.The grand Ottoman period mansions are a sight to behold, as is the old Greek orphanage on Büyükada.The largest wooden structure in Europe, it looms through the trees like some gigantic matchstick hen house in a Gothic nightmare from Anne Radcliffe.
The busy waiters on the boat were all wearing white too; though smart white tunics, as I recall, rather than crumpled Havana style jackets like mine.I liked their smilingly attentive natures, their constant cries of "Çay! Çay!" ("tea! tea!").Which is not an uncommon cry in Istanbul; there being tea purveyors with ancient looking boilers on every street corner.They're almost as numerous as the poorly clothed children who dodge between the heavy traffic of the city selling hand wipes for any loose change they can get.
Whilst on deck, I was amused to find myself surrounded by a gang of boys all chirping away excitedly in mellifluous Turkish.They were curious to find this tall, slim, Englishman in white linens and dark sun shades lounging against
the boat rail and smoking cheap Turkish cigerrettes without tips.One of the boys approached me.He said: "You are CIA, yes? You look like CIA!" I told him that, really, I wasn't.I said, "And anyway, I'm English, not American." But neither he nor his friends were convinced by my answer and he continued to press me shouting: "Where is the gun? You CIA! You have the suit, and I think so you have the gun!" I could have told them that the most dangerous thing they were likely to find in my pocket was a crime novel in English, or something to make you think.But at that moment, I did rather prefer to play up to the mystery of their imaginative casting. So I left it at a smile, a wink, and told them: "Shush! That's secret!" (Years later my Chinese university students told me that their government had warned them to be careful around their British lecturers as many were working for MI5.People will believe the oddest things.)
After a girl friend and I experienced a very sizeable earthquake tremor in Turkey, which shook the bus we were on, and ourselves, to the core, she turned to me, white faced, and said: "It's a message from God! He's telling us all that we're choosing the wrong path!" I told her, "No, it's geology." But she prefered to believe something that wasn't true.Though if truth were popular, kids would be reading science instead of Harry Potter and that would be boring.
I can only describe the sensation of an earthquake tremor as feeling like you are taped to a giant bass guitar string that is being plucked over the hole whilst you're simulaneously having your molars ground.
I missed the full, devastating, quake by a matter of a couple of weeks.The building I'd worked in had swayed like a palm as staff jumped out of windows.Mike, my room mate, woke up drunk from the vodka he'd downed earlier that night and the shock sobered him up so much I don't think he ever drank alcohol again.Though being old-school, I'll guaratee he still turned up for work the next day in cleanly pressed trousers and his obligatory white shirt and tie.
I'd worn a Havana style white jacket, back in the 1980s.
Though that jacket was a cheaper non-linen version, more suitable for the impoverished, struggling actor that I was then.At
that time, I was up for my second ever TV audition.The Brit TV soap opera "Coronation Street." The part of a photograher called Ian Knowles.I didn't know a thing about the character as it was to be a cold reading. I took a couple of changes of clothing along just in case.When one guy came out of the audition room before me and said to his mate: "They're looking for a fuckin' smoothie!" I shot into the toilet took off my denim, and donned my white jacket.
Shortly afterwards I was on my way out of my meeting with the director and writer having successfully bagged the part.Seems like I'd learnt something from Don Johnson after all!
At university, I almost failed my final year.I had a bout of depression which brought
on a writer's block. It prevented me from doing any work.(I prefer the Spanish expression: "Mariposa Negra" to depression. "The Black Butterfly." It conjours up something a little more artsy and mysterious than its banal medical counterpart).
With just a couple of weeks left until the end of semester, I had almost an entire terms essays to write and a number of exams yet to sit.Support from my mates helped me a lot, as did the obligatory bottle of vodka by my keyboard: a technique I'd learnt from Raymond Chandler, who also taught me the miraculous power of glucose powder for the morning after.
The night before my final Shakespeare exam, I downed three quarters of a large bottle of vodka and woke up the next morning, having
completed the final essay, but with god's-own worst hangover.I drank copious coffees laced with glucose.
And I decided the best thing to do was to treat the exam as I would a night out.Spruce myself up. Put on my white linen jacket, and, in case the swirling waves of nausia I was feeling became even more spectacular and I regurgitated something less palatable than iambic pentameters, I took a plastic bag along to the exam room with me to vomit into.When I finally passed my exams and went on to collect my degree, I put the feat down to that lucky linen jacket.The jacket, it seemed to me, was the real brains behind the operation - with just a little help from Witch Doctor Glucose.And white linen jackets don't just pass exams; they win elections (Martin Bell) they write books (Tom Wolfe) and can be a genocidal megalomaniac (Joseph Stalin - whose cut was more Imperial Military in nature).
In the nineteen nineties, I found myself in the student bar at the University of Koblenz and Landau, Germany.I'd won an Erasmus scholarship to go there, and was taking my first turn around places that were likely to be of the most interest to me.Not surprisingly, my first stop was the student bar.As I politely pressed my way through the throngs of students talking in a language I barely had the fundamentals of, I was suddenly confronted by a seven foot tall, long haired German guy, dressed in denim. Everyone in the bar, it seemed, was dressed in denim.But this denim giant of a guy refused to let me pass.He stood tall in my way, his eyes scanning me up and down till I felt quite the ridiculous spectacle.It
seemed my whites were more out of place in Germany than I had imagined they might be.I did think I may look somewhat more English than German, at least until I had had a chance to acculturalize. Even my usually reliable linen crumples weren't giving off enough of a scuzzy vibe to offset this German rocker's concerns.I knew what he must have been thinking: "What is this smooth looking, rightwing, capitalist bastard, doing in our bar dressed in white fucking linens, anyway?" I turned to my fellow Erasmus student following on behind and said: "The guy won't let me pass.I think he has a problem with my clothing." On hearing me speak English, my seven foot tall road block of a challenger smiled and stepped aside, letting me and my white linens continue to the bar without any further trouble.Sometimes, it does help to be a foreigner.
My linen jacket has long gone, replaced by a white French Laboureur wool coat which is better suited to rainy weather. But given my love of Funk and of African music, and the fact that my favourite colour is, more often, black, it gives me pleasure to note that "Obatala" (The title of another fine album of slink disco!) is the Yoruba diety of white cloth.Who better than that to clarify any lingering issues over a colour prejudice?
Favorite track: Gigi.