Newsletter November 2003

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This November newsletter and update is as long as last month’s was short. Tons of new stuff. Bear with us. We have substance, not just hot air.

We continue to expand the Carmel section this month. The production notes on The Drum Is Everything now include streaming audio of several of the distinctive tracks of this album. Drum is currently unavailable, apart from the occasional track on hard-to-find compilations. The newly reconstituted group had a successful return with all-new material at London’s Jazz Café last month, and play in Paris November 17 in an ambitious concert thrown by new collaborator Brice Wassy. From the promo: A Brice Wassy Atmosphere Party, Monday 17 November, 8.00 pm - 2.00 am. Carmel will be onstage around 9.pm. LE RESERVOIR, 16 Rue de Forge Royale 7011 Paris. Other guests include Manu Dibango and Touré Kundé.

One of the prominent players in the original Carmel band was conga and bongo master Johnny Folarin. Born in Nigeria, he followed a distinctive musical course through London and the vibrant Anglo-African music scene of the sixties and seventies. A member of the house band at the legendary Flamingo Club, he also played with African luminaries such as Ginger Johnson and Fela Kuti during this period. Later, he joined Carmel and also guested for Bronski Beat. Most recently, he has contributed very effectively to Thorne’s forthcoming CD. Here, in interview, he talks of his musical journey, contrasts in styles and cultures, and the development of the African scene in London, where he still lives.

The single It’s All In The Game coincided with a painful breakup process for the group. Jim Parris and Carmel McCourt had been a unit for many years. Aside from functioning through their personal loss, the biggest practical problem was having to make a single to keep the momentum of their surprising success going, and the studio was sometimes an emotionally raw place. Thorne’s short production essay documents this transmutation of a raw experience into a great record, again with the permission of the people involved. They say you write the best love songs when you are unhappy. You can hear the full 12” version in streaming audio.

One distinctive thing about Carmel’s recorded output in the days of 12” vinyl was their extraordinary sense of graphic style. Serge Clerc designed three great covers in the early days, and It’s All In The Game kept this great visual output going. You can download printable versions of these long-lost covers, mostly in files of around 1Mb.

Some projects go wrong, and we usually don’t write about them. Some are hopelessly misunderstood by the parties involved. Mike Thorne was called on to produce a Siouxsie and the Banshees single in 1987. In retrospect, not a good idea. The signs were there from the beginning, but a job is always there to be done. Read Thorne’s production essay on Song From The Edge Of The World, provoked by loose talk and off-kilter descriptions of the sessions in the new ‘Authorised Biography’ of the band. It’s not a retaliatory gripe, but an essay on how miscommunication and paranoia can compromise a musical endeavor. Things did get quite heated and complicated, apparently.

Lene Lovich does a special, short-notice, one-off gig at Joe’s Pub in New York on Hallowe’en (that’s October 31 to you Goth-challenged readers). Expect something different. To accompany the event, Lene and partner Les Chappell have designed a one-off, collectible poster which you can download free in printable resolution (and in different paper sizes to suit where you are). Inching toward album release, there will be a special four-track CD for sale only at the gig, including one track from the forthcoming Shadows and Dust CD. You will find streaming audio of three of her tracks on her Stereo Society interview from 1999.

Glen Matlock’s endless tour of the UK with Dead Men Walking (with Kirk Brandon of Spear Of Destiny, Mike Peters of the Alarm and Jim Phantom of the Stray Cats) finally does end with shows at Burgess Hill (20 October), Bristol (21) and Portsmouth (23).

Sarah Jane Morris will do gigs every three weeks at the Vortex (Stoke Newington High Street, London): October 31/November22, December 18.

Among the page revisions designed to make your life easier is a completely revamped words/pictures downloads page. We’ve added graphics and links so that you know what you’re getting before embarking on a download.

A few records are crumbling this month. We now have 662 pages (for the nerds among you, that’s a total of 273Mb including the mp3s. Our streaming audio, which is mostly just that since we can’t (and shouldn’t) offer it for download unless we made it ourselves, is no less than 2.7Gb. For the first time, in one month we look set to welcome more than 26,000 visitors and to serve them over 100,000 Web pages. And if you insist on quoting that rather abused measure, we expect to be just shy of 400,000 hits by month’s end.

Thanks again for the continuing support. And keep communicating via our contact pages. Remember, our E mail is up and working and er reliablablle.