Wall #6

Billy Liar, actually Billy Fisher, a creation of the writer Keith Waterhouse, is a fantasist- dreamer, much to the chagrin of his father and employers. In the 60s film adaptation, he’s played by Tom Courtney, one of the brilliant young British actors from the 60s who is still with us.

Shadrack, the undertaker-in-charge, is played by Leonard Rossiter, who seems to have had a face which began life in middle-aged and didn’t venture much from it afterwards.

I did have a notion briefly to do a whole wall of cover songs, being always interested in how musicians approach the work of well-known songs. I decided not to though I’ve included two here and a kind of cover-analysis of another.

The first is a version of Hendrix’s Little Wing. This is probably my favourite of his though I’d insist on the live performance at The Royal Albert Hall over the studio recording. That’s a tough one to beat though it’s been tried a few times by eminent guitarists such as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton. No one is better than Hendrix at the RAH.

You have to approach it differently; I feel this is the secret to good covers. I like this mandolin version. Also, the same musician plays what looks like a bass ukulele, or bassulele, (I may be wrong) and a cajón. So different approach and it works.

In the previous wall, I included a video from the short film channel, Omeleto. Another great short film channel is Future Shorts.

La Migala is a tale about an arachnophobe trying to cure himself by drastic means. Does it work? Watch and see!

Take Five is probably one of the most familiar jazz tunes. It’s melody was composed by saxophonist Paul Desmond of the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Drummer Joe Morello was playing around with beats in 5/4 time as an alternative to the usual standard 4/4; the story goes that he was bored of 4/4 all the time. On hearing the beat, Brubeck asked Desmond whether he could write something to go with it. That is Take Five.

This video isn’t so much a cover – and a pretty good one at that – it’s more an appreciative analysis of the song. Joe Morello was a superb drummer but I like this guy’s style too.

The Five Minute Interview was a pretty good thing in my view. I’m in two minds about so-called chat shows, from Parkinson to Jonathan Ross, they seem such desperate affairs to get disinterested celebrities, out of their comfort zone, to entertain us for fifteen minutes or more under the direction of an inept and ill-informed inquisitor. My two minds are roughly split 70/30 against it.

Brian Sewell was a much misinterpreted man, and he knew it. I suspect he was quickly judged on his voice and his apparent self-confidence. He was though an exceptionally informed art historian and critic. He was also socially minded, winning the Orwell prize for his essays on a wide range of issues other than art; he said he preferred writing about those subjects more than writing about art.

I’m finishing the wall with a third cover version; it’s another familiar song: Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush.

I don’t know much at all about Little Boots but judging by her performance, she can sing and play. What’s more, her voice suits the lyrics and the minimalist piano accompaniment gives something more to the song than the original recording with its many instruments.

Catch A Spider

Thanks to Pete of BeetleyPete this morning for reminding me of the late Innovations catalogue. This was a mail order catalogue, a precursor to online shopping, and was included amongst all the crap you found inside your Sunday newspaper. The peculiarity of Innovations was that few of its offers were born of the maxim, Necessity Being The Mother of Invention. Not only were the items practically unnecessary but were often presented as solutions to problems which never existed.

I’ve shared the link Pete found below to give an idea of the absurdities you could have had but the one I want to consider here is the Humane Spider Remover. Basically, its a trap on a stick and operated by a trigger comfortingly remote from the offending “insect”. I assume you caught the spider at arm’s length and release it, in a similar fashion, out of the nearest window.

Now it was with some shock and disgust when a mate of mine told us he simply got out the vacuum cleaner and sucked up the offending critter. Oddly, a lot of the shock and disgust came from those in our circle who I knew to be somewhat arachnophobic.

So it got me thinking: what is it with spiders that we honour them above all other bugs? Happy to swat a fly, chop a worm and stamp on ants but render no harm to our eight-legged friends. This appears to be ingrained in British culture, and is adhered to whether you hate them or not. I wonder, do other cultures feel the same?

Personally, being a bit of a born again Nature Boy, I tend to give safe haven to all critters. I even risk life and limb to allow an angry wasp free passage from inside to outside my window (though I have drawn the line at times with the persistent blighters when dining al fresco – there are limits).

17 Majestically Useless Items from the Innovations Catalogue