Saturday, February 24, 2007

"You'll see me come running to the sound of your strumming..."

"Clearly things are starting to move in a weirder direction and it's becoming a fight to keep up the camaraderie. But despite these internal frictions, the truth that Stewart and I have to acknowledge privately is that without Sting's songwriting talent, it wouldn't happen - and this gives him power over the two of us. On the other hand, where would he be without the two of us? It always comes back to the indivisible sum, and in the all-pervasive group life, lines like this become an interior monologue. But in this moment and put crudely, it becomes either Sting's way or no way; almost all ideas are carried out on a confrontational basis, and the idea of a group democracy fades." (Andy Summers, One Train Later: A Memoir)

Ah, that indivisible sum. There has to be an indivisible sum, that gives its heat to everyone... (Arf.) Two cherished box sets sit on top of my Ikea-built/battered-together CD shelves: The Police's four-disc Message In A Box, and The Jam's five-disc Direction, Reaction, Creation. Except the four-disc Police collection has been three CDs for a while, after I was generous/foolish enough to lend to a friend and the fourth disc - including the sumptuous Synchronicity album and the brave, synth-soaked '86 restyling of "Don't Stand So Close To Me" - never made it back.

I have, of course, since iTunes-ed it - and would hardly have hoped to eBay off the package anyway. Then again, the fifth Jam CD seems rather superfluous, mostly slapdash-ish versions of "Stand By Me", "Every Little Bit Hurts" and "Rain" inferior to the covers and out-takes on the superiorly intriguing Extras album, for some reason not included here...

Ah, but now we have the prospect of not only fresh live performances from The Police, but also The Jam... Well, part of The Jam, anyway. Two-thirds. That's a majority verdict, that's worthwhile, right?
Er, maybe wrong. Okay, Rick Buckler on drums and Bruce Foxton on wandering melodic bass were quite the sturdy rhythm section, nowhere near as virtuoso as guitar maestro Andy Summers and drummer-cum-reality-show-judge Stewart Copeland for The Police.
(Stop me before I become too Homeresque, rhapsodising over Grand Funk Railroad, "the wild, shirtless lyrics of Mark Farner. The bone-rattling bass of Mel Schacher. The competent drum work of Don Brewer...”)

But, come on, fellas - no Weller, no Jam. As Foxton's pre-"Turning Japanese" songwriting efforts demonstrate, his lyrics ("News Of The World", "Smithers-Jones") typically being even clunkier than the teenage Modfather's earliest, callowest efforts - though Weller does win overall, for "If we tell you that you got two days to leave - well, don't complain 'cos it's one more than you get in Zaire!"
If The Police can patch up their differences and clamber back on stage together, then surely The Jam can too? After all, Weller may have been a bristly type throughout, but intra-band punch-ups don't seem to have gone on record quite as they have done for The Police.
Then again, The Police - including 65-year-old Summers, ten years the other two's senior - may have made it to the Grammies intact, but a two-year tour? Believe it when the last clanging chord and agonised reggae-ish yelp have echoed away into nothingness. I'd love to see them try, nevertheless - count me well and truly in, as soon as tickets go on sale.

I know Sting's meant to be rather a figure of ridicule these days - the more so, the more often he allows "Every Breath You Take" to be bastardised, or trills the line about the umbrella from "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" over the fade-out to unrelated, inferior tunes...

But a Royal Albert Hall gig he did in 1993, one of the first I attended with friends only, no family, was one of my best and most memorable (less so, only than Blur-Pulp-Supergrass-and-er-Corduroy at Ally Pally the following year, and various, separate Sir Macca or Manics happenings over the years) - despite the odd, Muppetational setting.
His band that evening sounded both impeccably-tight and expressive, despite his on-record distaste for guitar solos, and I can only imagine how charged, punchy and sweeping the original top-notch, attuned trio could be, if the moods and the moment are right.
(And Sting doesn't produce his lute.)

Of course, it can't be quite right, quite as they were - even if the full three become one. Those raw, raspy 1977 demos and live hollers of "Fall Out", "Dead End Job", "Roxanne" and on and on, can't be replicated by three thirty-years-older, many-millions-richer middle-aged-and-then-some men.

I attended a gig at the Hope And Anchor in Islington last week, somewhere I'd only previously been to drink rather than see bands, despite having read a little something of its proud punk-and-new-wave history. It's mentioned in the Summers book, in fact. But I was surprised just how small and poky the basement venue was, elbow-room-only even for such unknowns as my friend's band Straightjacket, the Jyrojets, the Genome Project and the laughable photocopy punks The Vapours (an immaculately-slicked Eddie Cochran ducks-arse hairdo, a mad-eyed glare, and a few hacked tracks of petulantly foul-mouthed racket - hm...)

Wow, to see a properly exciting band like The Jam or The Police, in their prime, right here... (cf. my previous vague'n'envious musings about the 100 Club). Well, unless some random intervention of Fate is willing to go all Life On Mars on me, such an experience will have to remain a, ahem, "hole... in my life" (thank you, Mr Sumner).

All the more reason to catch what might now come around. Police-wise, anyway. A Jam by any other main man just wouldn't be anywhere near enough the same.
So, think on, think again please, Paul. The Jam doesn't just have to be for "when you're young".
"The world is your oyster, but your future's a clam."
Uh-Huh (Oh Yeah). Well, help out.

Oh, and if Morrissey and Marr could patch things up with each other, and with Joyce and Rourke, that would be handy too.
A triple-bill tour to excite indeed.
Now wouldn't we have a nice time?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"Chocolate oranges are available from Rawlinson's..."







Happy Valentine-ing.
(Overrated, innit?)
Kudos to whatever powers-that-be decreed this simultaneousness, though.
That's the spirit.
Ah, but anyway.
Roses are red,
Grass is green,
Roll right on,
February 15...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

"My tactic was to get them all down to exactly the same level..."

... we lost, then? Ah well. Schade.

For all my misplaced fervor last WorldCuptime, I'm struggling to imagine in which circumstances I might have cared less about tonight's unjustifiable-on-any-level matadoria versus Spain. Especially after the grinning-ginga left Robbo hanging heavily on a line to dry, to shield his baffling bonus of Lumpalard on the left.
(Just how's he going to score any deflections from there, eh...?)

Still, I always had Mac and his disturbing island of tufty hair, frontwards, amid a struggle of back-receding red, down as a wrong'un from his early-days drinks reception at which he allowed himself to be completely and utterly dominated by the fellow repel-some redhead Kay Burley.
And so an un'appy era begins...

Oh, if only, if only... Que sera, sera:

The three Ms indeed...
(Sorry: small 'm', for Cookcopyrightreasons...)

Or else:

Has any England side, since 1990,

played so sustainedly well under any man other than this...?:

Sunday, February 04, 2007

"Yes, I am blind,
No, I cant see
The good things,
Just the bad things..."
Honestly, that Morrissey - such a misery...
Well, in this world of here-and-now, in front of me - I can see.
Always a bonus.
After a weekend of being asked:
How did it feel? Did it hurt? Did you smell burning?
Well, swiftly, in reverse order: NO!, Sort-of, and... trippy.
For all and any squeamishness, shivers and shakes at the prospect of merely-local anaesthetic, scooping and spearing and ZZZZAP-ing of gooey eyes, the worst was actually the three-plus hours I had to sit, silent, waiting in the, er, waiting room of a Harley Street previously patronised, according to grinning photos on the walls, by "Dr" Neil Fox.
Now that's scientific fact...
Finally, after having devoured every last word of both The Independent and The Daily Mail (how's that, for keeping my eyes in balance, rrright?), I was ushered into a surgeon's handshake, then back on my back, chin-straight-please-keep-your-chin-STRAIGHT, glasses cast aside for the last time, my right eye doused with dozing-fluid, then clasped and clamped into place, eyelids taped back (easy how you tear, now, I've been growing'n'grooming these eyelashes specially...), until all I see is an insistent orange glow like a pussy-willow wriggling aggressively towards me, fighting off the blackness that's increasingly enveloping all... and this is uncomfortable, even ache-y, even actually really rather painful, but it'll be over soon, it'll be over soon... and suddenly, out of the black, loops of light, multi-coloured rings around the swoon, a little boy's kaleidoscope, an expense-spared Pink Floyd stage show.
Only accompanied by a metronomic clack-clack like a slowly-surely old-fashioned football rattle; sparks spitting from an optician's dentist's drill...
Red, yellow, orange. Over.
Now the other...
And suddenly, I'm in another room, all dark but a pin-sharp clock on the wall - until the eyes, filling and refilling with water, saltwater, have to shutter down again under shades...
Little elements of detail squeeze in every so often, but I'd rather spend the car journey home buried in my own shrug, then tape curtains to the windows and while away these crucial 12 hours in goggles, under a shroud, only hearing - drifting in, drifting out, drifting in again - old episodes of On The Hour or Baker and Kelly (the whistle-less ref who had to officiate with a harmonica, the knitted Steve Sedgley voodoo doll, Iain Dowie as Earthworm Jim...), with the rest of the weekend's choreography of strategic eyedrops, squinting and every-so-often rejoicing at the sheer off-clear, but mostly-there gift of sight.
That'll do, for now. Let's call it 17/20 vision, maybe 18 in a good moment.
For you, my friend, 18-and-a-half.
Ask me again next week, I'll see your question a mile away...
(I, like the rest bar the ref, could still see the winker dived, of course...)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

"Are you blue or are you blind?"




By the time you read this, I may be ... blind.
This certainly could be my final blog entry, at any rate. Not because this is a suicide note for the exhibitionist internet era, nor even the prelude to a hissy-fit flounce out of the blogosphere.

But because, tomorrow afternoon, I shall be undergoing LASIK laser-eye surgery (after much musing) and, well, you never know what might, just might, go wrong, do you? Tonight will certainly be even sleepless-ier than usual, and what snippets of snoozing are grasped will doubtless be dominated by grisly, slimy, slicey scenes of scalpel-meet-membrane...

Mere general anasthetic doesn't seem sufficient, anyway, before having a flap of corneal tissue slapped on my eyes, then scraped backwards to allow the laser beams to begin firing away... At least the experience should feel, well, unique. And the whole procedure will provide an excuse for lounging around the rest of the weekend, a hefty pair of Orbisonesque sunglasses shielding me from the world's glare, showbiz-style...

However long it takes to go from blurry-anyway, to blurry-aftermath, to crystal(-ish) vision, I am looking forward to being able to see the alarm clock and radio upon waking up, to hiding away the irritating glasses and contacts for good, to just, well, seeing clearly now, come rain or shine.

It won't go wrong. I won't go blind... Will I?
Well, apparently there's a 0.4 per cent chance of infection, 0.1 per cent of epithelial in-growth, 0.2-0.3 per cent of macular hole, 0.36 per cent of retinal detachment, 0.33 per cent of choroidal neovascularisation, and a mere 0.18 per cent of uveitis. Phew, eh?

Still, even with those odds I'd have been grateful if my potentially-final football match had been a little more enjoyable to the eye last night. Then again, even with white stick and yapping dog the view couldn't have been much worse than of the Emirates pitch, from the very front row behind the goal, where perspective of the opposite half was nigh-on impossible - lulling me into believing a foul on Robbie Keane must surely have been in their penalty area, but also shielding me from realising just what a what-if, shoulda-been easy chance he somehow managed to miss.

We really had them some pressure there - well, for ten minutes anyway, the five from 85th to 90th, and then the five added for stoppage-time, and Mido's Ricky Villa-ish run and shot that snaked a few agonising inches wide will be re-run in my mind many times, eyes or no eyes...

But yet again, we were punished for sitting back too unambitiously, too long... And, well, even the greedy grasping of all possible straws - such as supposed omens earlier in the day, like the change machine that sucked in tenner and delivered me one five-pound-note and six one-pound-coins - had plenty of Spurs-antagonising fate to fight against...

Ah well. Mickey Mouse Cup, innit?
(And we'd only have lost to Chelsea in the final, anyway...)

At least there's still the first FA Cup Final back at Wembley.
And even more excitingly, the Uefa Cup in Glasgow - via several European detours - towards which to look forward.

So to speak. Hope to see Spurs there.
Well, to see anything at all, really...