The Word Magazine: January Issue and CD
The January 2006 issue of The Word declares Bob Dylan Man of the Year. He's smoking on the cover, setting a terrible example for the kids. I'd lecture him for it but he looks about 25 in the picture so I'm guessing it wasn't taken recently. So I'll lecture The Word instead - boo, The Word! Bob Dylan is the hero to ... a ... lot... of... young... kids... okay, probably not so much. Although this "Man of the Year" designation could change everything. Say, I wonder what sort of prizes one gets for being named Man of the Year. Does Dylan get a sash to wear across his chest, a la Miss America?
Aside from a sort of ode to Dylan in this issue, there's an interview with Jackson Browne and a look at the life and films of director Billy Wilder. An article called "The Worst of Everything" aims to "select the very worst that entertainment has to offer." The Word's goal is to offer "a gentle counterpoint to all this seasonal cheer" and all the "best of" lists. They only pick one "worst" in each category, and write loads on their reasoning for most of them. Their picks, and brief excerpts of their explanations:
The worst singer ever: Alanis Morissette
"Alanis Morissette's voice, a reedy, nasal foghorn with its own built-in Doppler effect, is both distressing and a complete contrivance of its compliant-rock idiom."
The worst song ever is "Imagine" by John Lennon
"The irony of wealthy rock stars whingeing about the invidiousness of private property has been noted before but 'Imagine' takes it to a whole new water-brained level... It's creepy and culty and self-satisfied; a recipe for emptying your mind and filling it with Lennon's hippy totalitarianism. I don't just hate it. I fundamentally, violently disagree with it."
The worst film director ever is Tony Scott ("Top Gun", "Days of Thunder", "Man on Fire", "Crimson Tide", "Domino")
"Eventually, as the Tony Scott picture evolved backwards into the primordial visual slime, story and nuance shriveled to a nub while widescreen cinematographic eye-food took over."
The worst band ever is Uriah Heap
"They're still at it today, to the delight of our Saxon cousins, catering to those many people for whom rock has no business with such notions as sex appeal, glamour, wit, romance, lyricism, good looks, or tunes you can whistle."
The worst actor ever is Kenneth Branagh
"Look at him in 'Dead Again'. But no, don't: it will hurt too much."
The worst pop star ever is Geri Halliwell
"She is the author of two confessional autobiographies before the age of 30, whom history will recall as a cash-and-fame-possessed buster of pop's once-almighty mystique."
The worst film ever is "Sam and Rosie Get Laid"
"...like a dictionary definition of everything that went wrong in post-'60s British cinema - when agitprop and ideological posturing were though[t] fit substitutes for character and story."
The worst book ever is Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres
"tries to fuse a love story and a historical epic. Like chocolate and smoked mackerel, they're both fine by themselves, but put them together and as we all know, it can only end in Dr. Zhivago."
The worst pop star side project is Madonna's "Sex" Book
The worst TV show ever is Parkinson
"It is said that Parky is the king of the chat show. It is usually him saying it."
The worst album ever is Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd
"Like no other record it deploys titanic ambition and ability to stupifyingly banal effect."
The worst actress ever is Andie MacDowell
"Let's admit it: she's only been successful because she's a looker."
"Need we say more?"
There's also a "best of" feature... I'll write a separate post on that later... because I'm sure no one is tired of year-end lists yet!
Reviews-wise, Kate Bush's Aerial receives all the love the Word saved from their hate feature.
Aerial is not only the best album of her career, it's also the sanest piece of work that you will hear this year. After immersing yourself in its two CDs you emerge with a sense that every other record around is slightly off-centre and every other act is suffering from a neurosis. Aerial alone sounds wholesome and psychologically sorted. Admittedly, it's the work of a soul in wonder - she's smitten with wonder at her child, the songs of birds and the colour of sunsets. But then, if you weren't struck to your core by the strange beauty of those things, you'd be the mad one, wouldn't you?"
- Paul Du Noyer, Aerial review
Albums from The Ralfe Band and Mattafix get pretty good reviews (MP3s from both are posted below). Mattafix's Signs of a Struggle is called "background stuff in the best sense, a quality mood-adjuster." The Ralfe Band's Swords is dubbed "21st-century surreal vaudeville" ... and "although there's a sketchlike, incomplete air about many of the songs, there's also a welcome air of freshness and an intuitive abandon that bodes well for the future."
Word Magazine January 2006 CD Track Listing:
1. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Over And Over Again (Lost And Found) - this song is no doubt included because the Brits are as dismayed as xolondon at the woeful lack of attention the Clap Your Hands kids received in '05. Let's hope the alt-music wor- nay, the whole world takes notice of these guys next year!
2. Fiona Apple - Get Him Back
3. David Ford - A Long Time Ago (from I Sincerely Apologise For All the Trouble I've Caused, only available as an import in the U.S.) If there was any more harmonica in this song, I'd feel he should be sorry for that, but thankfully there's just a bit of it at the end of the tune. Description-wise, I feel the "album details" provided at Amazon have such interesting information and capitalization it would be a shame to not quote them: "Former Easyworld Singer David Ford Shakes off his Major Label Blues with a Serious Indie Record Reminiscent of the Best of Tom Waits, all Written, Performed and Produced by Himself. First Signing at Independiente from David Boyd, Former Hut Records Supremo and the Man that Discovered David Gray." It's Serious and Indie, yo.
4. The Decemberists - We Both Go Down Together (wonderful, but you hopefully already know that)
5. Annie - Always Too Late (from Anniemal). My head is filled with unfortunate Little Orphan Annie jokes, preventing me from providing a better description than "dance music".
6. Harold Budd - Niki D
7. Mattafix - 11:30 pm (Dirtiest Trick in Town) (from Signs of a Struggle, only available in the U.S. as an import) Languorous and rather lovely, with a nifty fusion of sounds.
8. Lonnie Donegan - Wreck of the Old '97
9. B.C. Camplight - Couldn't You Tell (from Hide, Run Away). Pure retro-pop synth fun. Some of the titles of his other songs are intriguing, such as: "Blood And Peanut Butter", "Richard Dawson", and "Emily's Dead To Me". Between that last title and
Stephen Fretwell's "Emily", Emilies are getting a bad rap in the alt-music world lately. Although perhaps they deserve it. Maybe people named Emily are disproportionately cruel. If so, hey, straighten out your act, Emilies!
10. Lori Carson - Hold On To The Sun
11. Stacey Earle & Mark Stuart - Are You Ready?
12. Ralfe Band - Frascati Way Southbound (from Swords, only available in the U.S. as an import) This slick, nicely-paced instrumental is by turns uneasy, lovely and expansive, and screechy.
13. Kate & Anna McGarrigle - Seven Joys of Mary (labeled a "Christmas bonus" rather than "13" and not super-timely at this point...)