RIP Phil Spector (1939 – 2021)

Phil Spector was an American musician and record producer known for his Wall of Sound sound production.

A very dense sound with little room for details of individual instruments.

This sound is exemplified in recordings such as “Da Doo Ron Ron” “Be My Baby” or “Baby, I Love You”, all released in 1963.

This is the excerpt where Albert Goldman completely destroys the Wall of Sound production of Spector

There is a good documentary from 1982, without the cooperation of Spector in which Albert Goldman is recorded as saying:

“Rock ‘n’ roll is basically institutionalized adolescence. And the bottom line of rock ‘n’ roll is that it’s a baby food industry and Phil found a new formula for baby food.”

I thought that was quite funny.

RIP Michael Apted (1941 – 2021)

Michael Apted is a British director famous for a body of diverse films.

Up

I give you Up (1964 – today).

The Up Series is a series of documentary films that have followed the lives of fourteen British children since 1964, when they were seven years old.

So far the documentary has had eight episodes spanning 49 years (one episode every seven years).

The children were selected to represent the range of socio-economic backgrounds in Britain at that time, with the explicit assumption that each child’s social class predetermines their future.

RIP Jim Haynes (1933 – 2021)

Jim Haynes ‘selling out’ or being tolerantly repressed for and by Nestlé. I’m kidding.

Jim Haynes was a cultural entrepreneur and leading member of the American-British underground. He was the co-founder of the Traverse Theatre in Scotland and International Times countercultural newspaper. He was also involved in Suck magazine and the Wet Dream Festival.

He was a source of fascination for me in the 1990s when my interest in the underground was at its highest.

There is very good footage of him in Naughty!, the amusing film in which he, somewhere backstage during the Wet Dream Festival, says:

“I’m just interested in freedom, extreme libertarianism, the right for anyone to see, eat and do whatever they want.”

and in true “make love, not war” style:

“Biafra children starving, that’s pornography.”

It is often said that history repeats itself. I wonder if the 1960s will repeat themselves. When? And are the 1960s a repetition of some previous libertarian era? I believe it has some elements unique to itself that will not be easily repeated. For one thing, the world has been globalized which makes all the circumstances different.

In accordance with the 1960s mythology of which Jim Haynes is part, by way of illustration of the repressive tolerance and ‘selling out’ concepts, I show above the advertising clip Jim Haynes recorded for Nestlé in order to promote their After Eight mints.

Remaining survivors born in 1933 in my book are Tinto Brass, Yoko Ono and Liliana Cavani.

RIP Jon Gibson (1940 – 2020)

RIP Jon Gibson was an American musician and visual artist.

Gibson’s death happened in 2020 but I forgot to give it attention.

Two Solo Pieces (1977)

Maybe I did not find the right record to play with it.

Today, via The Saturn Archives, a recently discovered high quality music channel on YouTube, I give you Two Solo Pieces (1977).

The beginning is a highly accomplished drone piece. The end is a piece with gamelan echoes.

RIP MF Doom (1971 – 2020)

MF Doom was a British-born American rapper. He died two months ago, but news came out only recently.

Like Sun Ra, who he sampled more than once, MF Doom builds his own universe. It is not difficult to see how he influenced Tyler, the Creator, another voice in hip hop I appreciate.

Like Buckethead, MF Doom wore a mask during concerts.

In the public domain as of 2021

First of all, happy new year.

Departure (1935) by Max Beckmann

Second, another year, means another batch of writers and visual artists are in the public domain.

Consider using for your own work, the work of Joseph Schumpeter, George Orwell, Marcel Mauss, Rafael Sabatini, Edgar Rice Burroughs,  Kurt Weill, Eliel Saarinen,  Olaf Stapledon, George Bernard Shaw, Sri Aurobindo,  and Max Beckmann.

RIP Stanley Cowell (1941 – 2020)

Stanley Cowell (1941 – 2020) was an American jazz pianist and co-founder of Strata-East Records.

Strata-East Records first gained notoriety outside the world of jazz after the British label Soul Jazz Records put out three anthologies of their recordings in the 1994-1997 period.

I give you “Travelin’ Man” (1974) in its first version.

Has anyone besides me noticed the likeness to “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes?

“Travelin’ Man” (1976)

RIP John le Carré (1931 –2020)

Every once and a while somebody dies and his or her death makes you reconsider what you know of the deceased.

1965 Intimations – John le Carre Interview

Such was the case with John le Carré  (1931 –2020). At first I thought he was just another spy fiction writer and that my relationship to him was probably nothing.

I found the opening lines of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and found them appealing, put them on my encyclopedia but I still did not know what to post on my blog.

Then I read that the recurring Smiley character was a sort of anti-hero but most of all an anti-James Bond, badly dressed, bald, overweight, bespectacled,  unattractive. With a wife that cheats on him more than once. Also with a Russian spy.

And then today, in my local press, I read Marc Reynebeau (born 1956):

“If the setting of Le Carré’s work changed after the Cold War, his theme remained. This is anchored in a pronounced skepticism about institutions and the corrupting effect that is inherent in every institutional dynamic.”

Two things.

One.

The corruption. “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” said John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton. There is no escaping the corrupting power of power.

Two.

Skepticism about institutions. I recently read Paul Collier and he put me on to this. It’s fairly obvious, but somebody needed to point it out. There are two kinds of societies. Societies with high level of trust and societies with low level of trust.

The former develop.

The latter stall. For example, Collier says in Exodus: How Migration Is Changing Our World (2013):

“It is not possible for Nigerians to get life insurance. This is because, given the opportunism of the relevant professions, a death certificate can be purchased without the inconvenience of dying.”

And then, diggin deeper still, one founds an interview of le Carré which shows him critical of consumerism that makes you wonder whether Michel Clouscard was awareof it:


“I dislike Bond. I’m not sure that Bond is a spy. I think that it’s a great mistake if one’s talking about espionage literature to include Bond in this category at all. It seems to me he’s more some kind of international gangster with, as it is said, a license to kill… He’s a man entirely out of the political context. It’s of no interest to Bond who, for instance, is president of the United States or of the Union of Soviet Republics. It’s the consumer goods ethic, really, that everything around you, all the dull things of life, are suddenly animated, by this wonderful cachet of espionage. With the things on our desk that could explode, our ties that could suddenly take photographs. These give a drab and materialistic existence a kind of magic.”–John le Carré interviewed by Malcolm Muggeridge, first broadcast on February 8, 1966, 16:45

RIP John le Carré