"It's easier to bone the President's wife than to get a movie made." Ray Charles.

How a cult music book became a cult music documentary, and it only took ten years.

Monday, April 11, 2005

All the Memphians have gone home, and I have a respite – time to sit quietly after a week, more than a week, of crazed running and talking and plotting and a more than adequate amount of laughing and a ferocious amount of drinking.

I haven’t had the time or the energy to blog about last Sunday week, the 3rd, when Mud Boy, the NMAs and Tav, among others, put on the greatest rock and roll performance art show imaginable. In fact, that weekend may well have been the best weekend I’ve ever had that didn’t involve sex or drugs (either would have been welcome, but maybe they would have compromised the essential purity of the experience...)

I spent that whole day at the Barbican, without much to actually do except keep an eye on things and occasionally steer somebody or something in the general direction I thought was required. My very esteemed executive producer had agreed to take a trip back in time to her earlier (much earlier) career as a multi-camera studio director, you know the kind of thing – talking live over headsets to harassed cameramen, saying things like “We’re on Camera Three, Camera Four – give me a tighter shot on the drummer’s left foot – good – coming to Four – on Four.” It’s a tough job and not one I would have liked to take on. I just wanted the chance to bask in the experience – the opportunity to see a band I really and truly never thought I’d get the opportunity to see, and not only that, the opportunity to be part of the show, to see it come together and record it for what – if I felt like a pretentious kinda type for a minute – I might call ‘posterity’. Fuckit, it IS for posterity. Posterity better be very extremely grateful too, when it realises what we’ve done for it.

The show was a kind of theatrical experience, distilling about fifty years of a particular type of Memphis experience into two and a half hours. The acoustic Mudboy set that started the night was full of hair-raisingly beautiful moments. Sid singing the field holler,Boll Weevil, acappella, in a voice that didn’t seem an iota different from when he recorded it thirty years ago...Jim singing Alex Chilton’s beautiful Nighttime, from Big Star 3rd, accompanied by Luther’s guitar, which turned it from melancholic pop into some sort of primal hill country blues lament...Big Star’s Jody Stephens taking over the drumkit as Cody Dickinson did his electric washboard set-piece, Psychedelic Sex Machine... Luther coming onstage wearing his Dad’s old jacket, familiar to me from footage of Mudboy’s ‘70s heyday of anarchy and chaos...Tav Falco stalking to his amp and whip-cracking the guitar lead out in imitation of Lash Larue or some other Wild West badman... the look of happiness on Jason Spaceman’s face as he took the stage for the final singalong of Power to the People...Jim’s outlandish, exhilarating rant during the same song, where he exhorted the audience to think next time some rock singer tells them to say “Yeah!”, because, after all, you have no idea what it is you’re agreeing to – the terms haven’t been clearly defined... Jim’s answer to the calls for more as they trooped offstage: “We don’t know any more songs. Hell, we didn’t even know half of those ones.”

With a bit of luck I won’t have to attempt the impossible, which is what it would be like trying to describe that show. With a bit of luck, we’ll be able to offer it to you on nice, clear, high definition, surround-sound DVD with pretty pictures and lots of extras, but nothing can really capture the feeling that we all seemed to be inside on that evening.

Everything had a touch of beautiful chaos that day. Even the damn Q&A session. Picture it: five chairs, one empty, awaiting Dickinson. No sign, so they start without. Jimmy Crosthwaite, who is a stranger to being lost for words, starts to tell some kind of lengthy and doubtless fascinating story, but the Tearjerkers are soundchecking for their gig in the lobby, and over the blasts of wild guitar and drummer-thump, every single word from his mouth is rendered inaudible. Eventually the soundcheck is halted and then Jim turns up. But Jody Stephens turns up at the same time, so we go from one chair spare to one too few. As soon as that’s sorted, a fairly obnoxious Northern Irish voice is heard from the back of the room: what he wants to know is, “Why are yew all so kew-el?” Robert Gordon thinks he’s being asked why they’re so cruel. Jim, however, knows what the guy’s asking, and fixing him with the blank ovals of the patent Dickinson perscription shades, he replies, “Well, given the alternative, who wouldn’t be?”
any chance of leaking the audio of this out? I'm looking forward to the movie, but I am also looking forward to free beer tomorrow.
I haven't even got the audio of the Barbican show myself yet, and I doubt I'll be 'leaking' it unless we fail completely to get a legit release for it, and even then it would have to be with permission from Jim and the boys. Also, Free Beer Tomorrow is out and has been for quite a while, so you shouldn't have too much trouble ordering it from your favourite online retailer. Or check out Jim's site on the sidebar, above.
I hope you can get it released. I have all three of Jim's discs. I was referring to the perpetual tomorrow when i could drink for free as i assume Jim was when he named the album that took 30 years to release. Good luck on your movie record dvd. World Boogie IS Coming. Sometimes it just takes a while.
Okay, sorry I misunderstood you. Keep an eye out for Topless Bowling too, that's the one I'm waiting for.
Post a Comment
My life has been rated:
Click to find out your rating!
See what your rating is!

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?