The War Against Intelligence

John Williamson's web stuff


December 2006

Monorail chart of 2006

the greatestrather rippedin colour

1. Cat Power – The Greatest (Matador)
2. Sonic Youth – Rather Ripped (Geffen)
3. The Concretes – In Colour (Licking Fingers / EMI)
4. Various Artists – Tropicalia (Soul Jazz)
5. Belle & Sebastian – The Life Pursuit (Rough Trade)
6. Joanna Newsom – Ys (Drag City)
7. Make Up – Untouchable Sound – Live! (Sea Note)
8. Jarvis – The Jarvis Cocker Record (Rough Trade)
9. The Gossip – Standing In The Way Of Control (Kill Rock Stars)
10. Park Attack – Half Past Human (Textile)
11. Six Organs Of Admittance – The Sun Awakens (Drag City)
12. Dead Moon – Echoes Of The Past (Sub Pop)
13. Arthur Russell – First Thought Best Thought (Audika / Rough Trade)
14. Hot Chip – The Warning (DFA / EMI)
15. Camera Obscura – Let’s Get Out Of This Country (Elefant)
16.TV Resistori – Serkut Rakastaa Paremmin (Fonal)
17. TV On The Radio – Return To Cookie Mountain (4AD)
18. This Heat – Out Of Cold Storage (This Is)
19 . Yo La Tengo – I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass (Matador)
20 . Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – The Letting Go (Domino)
21 . Mogwai – Mr Beast (PIAS)
22 . Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Ballad Of The Broken Seas (V2)
23 . Tom Waits – Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards (Anti)
24 . Bill Wells & Maher Shalal Hash Baz- Osaka Bridge (Karaoke Kalk)
25 . Reiko Kudo – Kusa (Hyotan)
26 . CSS – Cansei De Ser Sexy (Sub Pop)
27 . BMX Bandits – My Chain (Rev-ola)
28 . The Melvins – A Senile Animal (Ipecac)
29 . The Konki Duet – Mountain Mouton (Active Suspension)
30 . Peter Bjorn and John – Writer’s Block (Wichita)
31 . Shora – Malval (Conspiracy)
32 . OOIOO – Taiga (Thrill Jockey)
33 . Kama Aina – Club Kama Aina (Rumraket)
34 . Rhys Chatham – An Angel Moves Too Fast Too See (Table Of The Elements)
35. Scritti Politti – White Bread and Black Beer (Rough Trade)
36 . David Shrigley (& Martin Young) – Forced To Speak With Others (Late Night Tales)
37 . Scott Walker – The Drift (4AD)
38 . Barbara Morgenstern – The Grass Is Always Greener (Monika)
39 . James Blackshaw – O True Believers (Important)
40 . Colleen – Et Les Boites A Musique (Leaf)


Status Quo

Status Quo
SECC, Glasgow
2 stars

If the point of Status Quo is that musically they have barely changed in their forty years on the road, then inevitably, the review, like the song, remains the same.

After cancelling shows last year on account of Rick Parfitt’s larynx problems, this tour seems to have been attacked with some gusto. If nothing else, the sound and lighting rigs are impressive. They have far more amps and more parcans than your average arena show.

Yet this optical and sonic illusion does not mean that more necessarily equals better. Post-operation, Parfitt’s voice appears shot, while Francis Rossi also admits to voice problems, making for a slightly functional run through their forty years, that seems more subdued (though that could be the all seated venue) than their usual gatherings.

Instrumentally it is lean and tight without ever pushing the boundaries of their famous formula. Most of the hits are ticked off over the course of proceedings and others are condensed into medleys, the most intriguing moments come when they deviate from the script.

Most curious is ‘Gerd Und Ulla’: with three guitars and no bass, it is verging on flower-people folkiness before the onset of a hideous drum solo.

They also bizarrely play three tracks from the largely unloved 2002 album, ‘Heavy Traffic.’ `Among them, and introduced as “the most politically incorrect song ever,” ‘The Oriental,’ is an odious mixture of racial and sexual stereotyping would have been past its sell-by date in the seventies.

By the encore of ‘Bye Bye,’ Rossi notices a trail for the exits. For their classic songs, see ’12 Gold Bars’, released in 1980. The inability to even slightly surprise since is the cause of the drift – either that, or the absence from the set of ‘Living on an Island.’

Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden
SECC, Glasgow

3 stars

It would seem inappropriate not to quote Spinal Tap in the circumstances, but on this evidence, Iron Maiden embody the ‘majesty of rock/ the pageantry of roll’ – a thirty year old institution undergoing a serious revival.

With their classic three guitar line up and Bruce Dickinson back on vocals, this is a far cry from the down at heel Maiden shows of the mid-nineties, resulting in the kind of full-blown pantomime spectacle that suits them well.

It is a predictably pompous, loud and energetic spectacle. Dickinson even takes time to admonish the crowd for being too boisterous, yet the enthusiasm combined with hero worship and beer could hardly be expected to produce any other kind of response.

Maiden appeal to a certain type of male mentality, which on the outside, may appear disturbing (violence, war and a kind of Satanism-lite) but in its home environment is more comic and good natured than particularly threatening or sinister.

With an audience of aged disciples and new converts, the choice to concentrate on their most recent album, ‘A Matter of Life and Death,’ is either a brave or pig-headed one. It is epic (at nearly eighty minutes for ten tracks), played in sequence and at times verging on progressive rock. In part hideously overblown, it is also, in flashes, memorable and even contemporary – think Muse meets Queens of the Stone Age.

By the time their mascot Eddie appears (in a tank) for a handful of greatest hits (‘Fear of the Dark’, ‘Evil That Men Do’ and ‘Two Minutes to Midnight’) the truncated nod to their back catalogue is explained by Dickinson, who promises another (hits) tour next year. With another 5000 t-shirts sold, Iron Maiden remain the masters of commercial hard rock.

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