Saturday, 26 March 2011

Apples and Oranges

No wonder poor Syd decided this life was not for him and withdrew. Seems like a perfectly sane course of action to me, particularly if the alternative is ending up like Dick Clark.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


I lived in Japan for 2.5 years, and have visited it many times since for work and pleasure, and have pretty much nothing but fond memories of the country and its people. For all the things that my gaijin friends and I might have found worthy of light-hearted satire and derision over the years, the simple and undeniable truth is that, in most ways, it is a safer, more civilized, more egalitarian, and better organized society than almost any Western country could ever claim to be.

This achievement is not without its costs, and I can't honestly say that I would like to be Japanese if reincarnation were on the table, such are (in my view) the personal costs of membership in a society historically geared towards conformity and utilitarianism. Still, when I think back on the earnestness, affection and generosity shown to me during my time in the country, I can only feel an intense sense of distress and sadness at recent events, which increasingly beggar belief.

The analysis of the roots of this catastrophe is yet to be written: a rotten, complacent political gerontocracy; the serial mendacity of TEPCO; the excessive concentration of economic activity and population in the Kanto region; the failure to diversify energy resources; whatever other horrific revelations may follow. The Western media will arrive at some conclusion in the coming days, and it will probably be something very far from the truth on the ground.


O, How She Dances

"Yes, friends, he eats them alive!" I stumbled across this delight not long ago - a staple of many Panther Burns shows down the years, presumably inspired by Jim Dickinson's treatment on his trailblazing "Dixie Fried" album. In my previous post on Panther Burns, I made a joke about the huge number of eclectic members the band has had in its history, and this video provides an interesting example. On drums, Jack Yarber, a.k.a. Jack O of the Oblivians (and various others, though I first knew him as a member of Rin Tin Horn in 1987 or so), and on bass, Scott Bomar, member of surf-rock group Impala, The Bo-Keys, producer and all-round Memphis music exponent.

Monday, 14 March 2011

A Love Letter to Alex Chilton

This recently came to my attention, once again through the magic of Facebook. The 9th Ward Marching Band delivers a lovingly rendered version of "The Letter."

Brian Eno Interview from KPFA, February, 1980

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Captain Memphis meets The Klitz

This gem turned up on Facebook last week, and it was the first time I had seen it, though I knew about its existence. Here we find Jim Dickinson, in the guise of "Captain Memphis," recording The Klitz, "sister band" of Panther Burns and The Scruffs (Dave Branyan is name-checked at one point) at Phillips Recording in Memphis in 1979. I never saw The Klitz play, which may be something of a blessing, and I have never heard any of the recordings from these sessions, which still remain unreleased as far as I know. The scenes at the pre-restoration Orpheum, including J.D. playing "Green Onions" on the organ as a Phantom-esque character, are priceless. Producer/director Charlie Raiteri was a local TV news reporter who had the vision to document what must have been a very threatening and strange local music underground in such a conservative town. In retrospect, it all seems so tame, but in 1979 this was serious bidness.