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Member Since 15 Oct 2009
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#1453470 Today I played...

Posted by Wilfrid on 04 April 2020 - 04:13 PM

It's hard to regard #6, The Clash, objectively. I bought the single, "White Riot," and then the album as soon as they were released. The seemed game changers at the time. I still have some of the original reviews (Tony Parsons in the NME, Peter Silverton in Sounds, Mark P in Sniffin' Glue), and they are about the best reviews of an album you'll ever see.
To be honest, everyone always knew that two things sucked: the production and the drumming. This became, if anything, more obvious once Never Mind the Bollocks was released, which has aged better not least because it sounds much better. But the songs, for the most part, are great.
#5 Music from Big Pink. This doesn't mean as much to me personally as a lot of other albums on the list, but I have done my time listening to The Band, and I respect them, and it belongs here. Dipping in again, it did occur to me what a deep bench they had; only using Helm as lead vocalist on one track.
#4 The Stone Roses. Opinions might be divided on this one, but it's inclusion in the top 10 of this list makes sense to me. It is very specifically a great debut album. Did they ever do anything else?* Yes, they're an arrogant, annoying, unlikable bunch in many ways, but this came out of nowhere and every track seems a highlight.


Can't believe I'm nearly done with this.


*Ha ha, yes, The Second Coming. Typical.

#1453455 Today I played...

Posted by Wilfrid on 04 April 2020 - 03:56 AM

That TOPs set is killer. Eno was particularly alien, as you say. So, too, though Manzanera. Ferry, as crooner, set the contra-pointe.

Yes, Ferry and Eno bracketing Manzanera and the underrated McKay.

The only better TOTPs moment was Bowie’s “Starman.”

#1453183 Today I played...

Posted by Wilfrid on 30 March 2020 - 11:07 PM

Can I do justice to #19 Never Mind the Bollocks and #18 Horses?
Neither of these albums would be out of place at #1 on this list, and both should be in the top four or five. If I had to choose my own personal favorite album from this broad genre, the choice would be between these (I'd argue Tilt extends and supersedes the genre).
What they have in common is essentially simple, but very direct, energetic, and well executed music from two bands at their best.
On top of that? Despite my respect for Lydon, I long believed he couldn't have written the lyrics without substantial input from Jamie Reid and others; but the courts have found that he did. So we must consider him the Jean Genet of British rock, an inexplicable phenomenon. The furious, antinomian confrontation with the horrors of the twentieth century gets more impressive as the years go by.
And during a period when prog rock and metal bands were essaying supposedly "poetic" lyrics,* Smith humiliated them all by being the real thing; a credible, publishable poet. The next hurdle, which she effortlessly leaps (she had been doing so since at least "Piss Factory"), is matching her outstanding writing to that forceful rock and roll backing, without them getting in each other's way. (And there's a wonderful early Verlaine guitar solo too.)
It doesn't get better (okay, in white rock/pop) than these two albums, back to back.
*Dawn of light lying between a silence and sold sources
Chased amid fusions of wonder, in moments hardly seen forgotten
Coloured in pastures of chance dancing leaves cast spells of challenges
Amused but real in thought, we fled from the sea wholes

#1453171 Today I played...

Posted by Wilfrid on 30 March 2020 - 05:44 PM

I used to have a lot of self-recorded cassettes (still have some of them).  I think it was when I lived in Soho that I bought my first CD player (boombox style).


The apartment I first moved to in New York had a big hi-fi system (still not turntable).  I upgraded the speakers, but I still have it today.


This was the corporate apartment on 57th Street. The company was forced to give it up, and I was allowed to find another apartment myself (22nd Street). When I left the company (and had to start paying rent), they decided they couldn't be bothered to take back the hi-fi and a bunch of furniture - they had no other corporate apartments and selling it was going to be too much effort. So I kept it all.

#1453067 Today I played...

Posted by Wilfrid on 28 March 2020 - 03:47 PM

Will make a lot of progress here.


How did I miss the Arctic Monkeys? I was aware of them, of course, so I'm surprised I either didn't make an effort to listen to them -- or I did and have forgotten. Anyway, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not at #36 came as a revelation. The sharp punk pace and rhythm supporting some soaring melodies and outstanding lyrics. It reminded me of many other things (Sleaford Mods even), but that's okay.


#35 Black Sabbath. I would never imagined this band had longevity, but you still hear their best known tracks everywhere. I tried, I really did, but the opening minutes are so silly I gave up.


#34 Can't Buy a Thrill. Who doesn't know this? High quality, of course, and I might as well say that "Reeling in the Years" not only has the iconic guitar solo, but a lyric I would rate alongside "Folsom Prison Blues" for the way it tells an absorbing story in just a few words.


#33 Entertainment! We discussed the band recently, with the sad passing of Andy Gill. I don't know what number it should be in this list, but it deserves to be here. Intelligent, enduring.


#32 An album which should probably be in the top four, Kick Out The Jams. The best live album in the genre, the best opening to an album in the genre (and I mean "Ramblin' Rose" more than the preceding exhortations), fascinating from beginning to end. In my teens, I preferred the second album Back In the USA, being suspicious of some of the psychedelic workouts here, but I was wrong.


#31 My Aim is True. A personal favorite since I bought it the week it was released. I always thought this set of songs were perfectly framed by the session musicians from Clover, and was initially disappointed when they were replaced by the Attractions for the second album, which I didn't like as much. Armed Forces made the Attractions make sense, though.


#30 Definitely, Maybe. Another example where I liked the second album, which I own, better. Could never take them entirely seriously -- mainly a personality thing, and I also didn't think much of them live. Was in an elevator with Liam once, in Minnesota. But plenty of swagger here, can't resent it too much.


#29 Nick Drake, Five Leaves Left. I don't want to be mean, but is there any reason this appears on the list other than his sad early death? It sounds like Al Stewart without the bounce (Stewart is still performing). Flimsy dirges, sorry. Anything by Kevin Ayers, including his debut, is much better. Always happy to be reminded of Nick's sister Gabrielle (who, unlike Stewart, seems to have retired).


#28 The Doors. Skimming through this familiar beast again, I had to laugh. Any album framed by "Break on Through to the Other Side" and "The End," with "Light My Fire" slap in the middle, is unassailable. What a kick off to a career. But between those peaks, there is some cringeworthy stuff, like "She's a twentieth century fox..." and a crass cover of "Back Door Man."

#1452508 Corona Virus

Posted by Wilfrid on 19 March 2020 - 05:10 AM

And I was planning to have dinner with Evelyn in about a week’s time. This is not fun.

#1452242 Corona Virus

Posted by Wilfrid on 15 March 2020 - 11:31 PM

There’s always Musil.

#1451931 Annoyances

Posted by Wilfrid on 08 March 2020 - 11:42 PM

One thing that has worked for me in the past in standing situations, when someone is leaning heavily at the bar. Take all their weight for a while, then suddenly step away. They are furious when they fall backwards, but have no rational complaint to make.

Not sure if this can be made to work with seating.

#1451814 Gray Kunz

Posted by Wilfrid on 06 March 2020 - 03:48 PM

I suppose the best way to understand this week's entry is that ten years ago I was single, and I had a very welcome visitor staying with me.  She deserved nothing less than Lespinasse, then probably the most expensive restaurant in Manhattan.

In those days, Gray Kunz was at the helm, established as a bona fide superstar among New York chefs: at the level of Boulud and Bouley, but somehow a more remote, exclusive figure.

Oh, this was when Mario was still in the kitchen at Po, and David Chang was probably still at school.  It's been a bumpy ride for chef Kunz since he abandoned this temple of haute cuisine, featuring a brief spell at Spice Market, the launch of the much-heralded but ultimately disappointing Café Gray, and now the delicious food wrapped in a curious proffer of Grayz.  And he left Lespinasse ten years ago.

I am only happy I caught him in situ, for what remains in memory as the finest dinner I've eaten in New York, and one of the best in North America.  My notes from '98 can't do it justice: I was writing then, of course, for the benefit of my diary and not in anticipation of producing a review.

Many readers will remember the jewel-box setting of the restaurant, a lozenge surrounded by gilded pillars (the shape remains at Adour, but the palette, the overall feel is quite different).  The amuse was glazed barley with accents of ginger and chestnut. 

The appetizer, I remember, almost made me cry.  It played that mysterious Proustian trick of flashing me back to some forgotten taste of childhood - an experience perfectly captured in the movie Ratatouille.  Why, I couldn't say, as I'm sure there was nothing in the dish actually reminiscent of 1960s Essex.

A ballotine of foie gras, quail confit, a raspberry coulis (really?) and pot-fermented rice.  It was the latter component, pungent and musky, which lifted the dish to some mystical level without disturbing the precise balance.

The next course reflected the mid-European impetus in Kunz's cuisine.  Rabbit, stuffed and served in a "Stroganoff" (yes, cream and tarragon) sauce, with house-made pasta.  Classic, impeccable.

My dining companion couldn't risk her wasp-like waist with dessert, but we were brought, anyway, a set of petits pots, delicious little colored pots of cream, the flavors of which went sadly unrecorded.  Chablis, Chambolle-Musigny, and a check which was staggering in those innocent days - from memory it was over $400.

It's the Manhattan meal I would most like to eat again.

1998 (https://www.pinkpign...ous-lespin.html)


#1451701 Taqueria Al Pastor

Posted by Wilfrid on 05 March 2020 - 12:21 AM

Huh, walked by hundreds of times, didn’t know I should go in. Usually pick up above average Dominican at Sazon Nunez, other side of the DeKalb stop.

#1451692 Jay Rayner “The Last Supper”

Posted by Wilfrid on 05 March 2020 - 12:05 AM

I called him out on the cheese, and he responded by noting the audience was full of Brits. 😩

His menu made more sense as he explained he was choosing dishes with emotional connections and good stories (way to produce a book and show). For a “last supper” I automatically choose grouse; maybe I could find a story to go with it, but that’s not why I would choose it.

I was on the right track with the mystery dish, because I figured it couldn’t be just a cut of pork; but went for pork sausages rather than bacon.

#1451683 Have NYC Restaurants Become An Adjunct To Nightlife?

Posted by Wilfrid on 04 March 2020 - 11:35 PM

Thunderbird, my god.

#1451402 The Louvre, Leonardo et al.

Posted by Wilfrid on 26 February 2020 - 10:32 PM

The Louvre is just so physically exhausting, even more than the Prado. But that sounds very worthwhile.

#1451302 Annoyances

Posted by Wilfrid on 21 February 2020 - 11:46 PM

I was thinking about Texas where the hats are even bigger than Sneak’s, but my recollection from Fort Worth is people just wear them in the bars.

#1451250 The Rest of Us, Paris edition

Posted by Wilfrid on 20 February 2020 - 11:55 PM

Nice, and what a good location. I stayed in a rental apartment near Rue du Temple in pre-AirBnB days.