Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Shoes and frogs

Today, an oddity opens in the Dorfman Theatre (formerly known as The Cottesloe) at The National here in London.

An unlikely collaboration between two musical icons - David Byrne of Talking Heads, and dance music's own "national treasure" Fat Boy Slim - a "sequinned, disco-dancing spectacle" charting the rise and fall of shoe-lover and tyrant Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Philippines is an odd choice of subject for a musical, one might think!

Quoted in The Guardian, Mr Byrne said:
“I knew that Imelda was given to memorable pronouncements and aphorisms and outrageous behaviour, some of it amusing and some of it horrific, but the fact that she immersed herself in the disco club world was a big selling point.

“When I heard she had a giant mirror ball in her New York townhouse and turned the roof of the palace in Manila into a dancing club, I thought ‘she really surrounded herself with this music and created her own soundtrack to her life.’ Disco was a genre that I was uncomfortable with but keen to explore, so with those factors in mind I thought, ‘let’s see if there’s a story to be told here’.”
Lyrics in the show [Here Lies Love] were often lifted directly from speeches, interviews, recordings from the time and even Marcos’s high school yearbook. One song is taken verbatim from a speech that Benigno Aquino gave about President Marcos building arts centres and not doing enough for the shanty towns in Manila, while another is based on quotes from an oral history of the People Power revolution that Byrne stumbled across.


It might well be a hoot! We'll see...

In tribute to this remarkably odd piece of news, here's another unlikely combination - none other than Kermit the Frog's very own tribute to Talking Heads' biggest hit Once in a Lifetime...


David Byrne and Norman Cook's Here Lies Love is on a strictly limited run at The National Theatre from 30th September 2014 to 8th January 2015 - book tickets here

Monday, 29 September 2014

It's not the bum sex that was the big problem

From my own published interview with Rupert Smith in Beige magazine (he says, modestly):
In a nutshell it is about a young woman now - Helen - who has a famous grandfather [Edward] who was a novelist loathed by the critics; very, very successful and loved by the public. She begins to dig around into his past, his "real" story to find out why he stopped writing when he did and his career went stone dead. The more she finds out, the more she begins to understand why that is, but in the process she discovers some truths about her own family that might have been better left undiscovered. She possibly wishes she hadn't.

The great relationship between her grandfather Edward and the love of his life Billy is the cause and effect that drives the whole thing... The secrets Helen discovers about her family stem from the shame and secretiveness of Edward and Billy, but as we discover, it's not the bum sex that was eventually the big problem.
It was with these themes in mind (knowing that I was likely to be one of the few people in the audience who had read it, and therefore understood exactly what the mysterious "secret" was) that I went along with John-John and Paul to the launch of Rupert's latest opus Interlude at the chi-chi New Bloomsbury Set bar yesterday afternoon.

As ever, Rupert's mellifluous tones, as he read passages from the book, held the crowd in hushed attentiveness. The audience was a mixed bag of literary types and "friends of the family", newbies and die-hard fans.

The divine David McAlmont was there. The event was hosted by the sexy Uli from Gay's the Word bookshop (around the corner). I was overjoyed to see former Polari DJ (from its early days in the Trash Palace and Freedom Bar in Soho) Dom Agius - whose stunning photographic portrait of a male model graces the book's cover - as I hadn't seen him in years.

The room was packed out, in fact, and everyone gave The Author a massive round of applause.

This was an enjoyable event, as book launches go - engaging and never dry (Mr Smith is a past master of the witty aside), and the readings and the question and answer session afterwards were excellent.

I really hope it does well. Interlude is certainly one of the best books I have read for a long time!

[PS I never did get a complimentary copy (other than the proof copy by email) for my journalistic efforts - so had to buy it at the event, and Rupert kindly signed it.]

Buy a copy today via Waterstones or Amazon.

Der grossen Welt

It was a fab weekend of sunshine, gardening and culture in turn. Now it's over, and we sink into despondency once more...

Let's allow Goebbels' favourite femme fatale of the war era lift us out of the gloom on this Tacky Music Monday (together with her ensemble of distinctly unmännlich dancers) - here's Fraulein Marika Rökk and So ist eine Frau der grossen Welt:

Have a fabelhaftesten week, Lieblings!

Marika Rökk on Wikipedia

Sunday, 28 September 2014

They had a very mad affair

I do love a good mash-up - and this one is the best I've heard for a while...

It's Iggy Pop vs Peggy Lee, bitches!

I think Miss Lee wins.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

How to build a music library...

...the Soft Tempo Lounge way!

Ah, that's better.

[ Music: Sao Salvador Da Bahia by Joss Baselli and Armand Canfora]

PS Over at the Dolores Delargo Towers Museum of Camp, we have amassed quite a collection of such weird and wonderful LP covers...

Friday, 26 September 2014

Magnifique, fantastique

One of the highlights of Saturday nights on BBC Radio 2 (if, as is sometimes my wont, one finds oneself at home alone on a Saturday night) is the delightful Miss Ana Matronic from Scissor Sisters presenting her own singular selection of obscure choons from the dancing days of the disco era.

And, this being the traditional countdown to the weekend - with a distinct likelihood I may be in, listening again, tomorrow night (not tonight, of course - it's pay day!) - here's one of those fantabulosa oddities she played for us last week.

It's Charisma - accompanied by brilliant footage from that eternally kitschy favourite Roller Boogie - and the camp-as-tits Magnifique.

Have a great weekend, folks, whatever you do - and Thank Disco It's Friday!

Are you ready for this?
The question is can you take it?
And would you know what to do if you had it?
She say Magnifique!

Magnifique, fantastique
Wow this guy, he's got style, he's so sweet
Magnifique, elastique
Slick and tall, all of them makes me weak
Magnifique, fantastique
How he glides, how he sides, how he speaks
Magnifique, fantastique
It's so nice, say it twice, it's so nice
Come on y'all...

Magnifique, magnifique
Every shake, every twist, with his hips
Magnifique, erotique
I'm so glad what we have in the sheets
Can it be, fantasy?
Sugar boy, make me fly, magnifique
Magnifique, voulez-vous?
Me and you? Not tonight!
That's alright

Magnifique, fantastique
Wow this guy, he's got style, he's so sweet
Magnifique, elastique
Slick and tall, all of them makes me weak
Magnifique, fantastique
How he glides, how he sides, how he speaks
Magnifique, fantastique
It's so nice, say it twice, it's so nice

Going out tonight to the Panorama bar
In my skin-tight knee-highs
All the guys going crazy for my juice
Cut loose, stepping on the coco puffs with the shoes
Don't ya know that there ain't nothin' left to lose
On the dancefloor, search and spectate
You're strange to me when your eyes get googly
Oh...that feels good...and really hot stuff...
C'est Magnifique!

The Scissor Sisters used to cover this song on stage.


Thursday, 25 September 2014

Just a little touch up

It's another in our regular series of timeslip moments - taking us back thirty years to the padded-shoulder-pencil-skirted days of 1984 - and for today's nostalgia-fest I stumbled across a song (which scraped the lower reaches of the UK Chart this week in that year) that I cannot deny had completely slipped my memory...

Here's the immensely camp Stephanie Mills [whatever happened to her?] and The Medicine Song:

Danger eyes are no surprise
In stayin' wise to you
Shady walks and midnight stalks
Have showed me what to do

Kept my cool, this ain't no fool
You think you're messin' with
I know how to keep you round
Cause I know where you been

You think that they really want just you
(Better think again, better think again)
I'm the only one knows what to do
Cause you've been bad, baby, oh, so bad, baby
And there's only one thing can be done

You need a little bit of this medicine
(Just a little touch up)
Mama's gonna give you some medicine

You need a little bit of this medicine
(Just a little touch up)
Mama's gonna give you some medicine

Every time I think you're mine
You're up to somethin' new
I've done almost everythin'
To try to get to you

All my friends are just dead ends
In helpin' me alone
I just keep on wonderin'
What am I doin' wrong

There is only one thing left to try
(Do it again, do it again)
On this cure I'm sure I can rely
Cause you've been bad, baby, oh, so bad
And there's only one thing can be done

You need a little bit of this medicine
(Just a little bit touch up)
Mama's gonna give you some medicine
(Just a little touch up)


Stephanie Mills' entry on the AllMusic website