Thursday 18 July 2024

The last thing we need is Sheeran clones

To the relief of many music lovers, Adele has announced she is going to take a big break from recording. Hopefully these artists will follow suit.

Taylor Swift
With the Eras tour and the Super Bowl and a ‘secret’ double album with a completely unnecessary 31 songs, surely we’ve reached Taylor Swift saturation point? Even if none of her latest songs are memorable in any way, it would make sense to at least cultivate some anticipation. A few decades would definitely be sufficient to make Swifties hungry for a dozen tracks about lame boyfriends with shit lyrics.

Ed Sheeran
Sheeran released two studio tracks last year alone. Can’t he give the listening public a well-earned break by putting down his guitar and loop pedal until, say, 2050? He seems like a nice, reasonable guy, so if everyone tells him that a hiatus will give new acts a chance to flourish, he’ll listen. He’d probably even offer to mentor them, although the last thing we need is Sheeran clones churning out songs called Limerick Lady which are exactly as bad as that sounds.

Madonna
There’s no denying that Madge’s discography contains many bangers, but they came out decades ago. In fact Holiday isn’t too far from a half-century. Seeing her still scraping along and churning out records is like watching an elderly shelf-stacker toiling away in the Co-op. She should be enjoying her retirement in peace, eating biscuits and not releasing tracks that will generously be remembered as ‘culturally irrelevant’.

Liam Gallagher
There’s only one way people want to consume the music of Liam Gallagher, and that’s when he’s joined by his brother and belting out hits from 20-odd years ago. And since that’s never going to happen, he’s better off putting his musical activities to bed and finding some completely new interests. We’d all definitely be more interested to hear how his tomatoes are doing than listen to another instantly forgettable vanity project with John Squire.

Kylie
Every now and then you think you’ve escaped the clutches of Kylie’s earworms, but then she unleashes another disco hit that will rattle around your head for weeks. Why does she keep releasing them? Doesn’t she have all the money she’ll ever need? The world has even moved on from her saucy videos. We have Dua Lipa for that now.

Chris Martin
Yes, even cynics were somewhat heartwarmed by Coldplay’s epic Glastonbury set. But maybe that gig should have acted as a triumphant send-off, with everyone waving as Chris Martin disappeared into the sunset like a less-popular Shane. The vacuum his absence would create could then be filled by musicians with edge and charisma, or simply nothing at all. That would be absolutely fine compared to more Coldplay.

The Daily Mash

Of course.

Wednesday 17 July 2024

Opera Queens, bathhouses and Vicky Edie - once more

The fact that it would have been the 110th birthday today of the celebrated soprano Miss Eleanor Steber has prompted me for a second time to re-visit an ancient post of mine [originally from my MySpace years, and relocated with all the others to my other blog Give 'em the Old Razzle Dazzle] from 2008. The original was in the immediate aftermath of a literary event I attended called "The Lavender Library", at which Mr Paul Burston had enthused about one of my own favourite books of all time, Queens by Pickles, from which I had just rediscovered...

...a passage from the chapter Cruising at the Opera in which "The Opera Queen" - who is "wild about applause, always yelling 'Brava' whilst all about him bellow their ignorance of gender" - has a bitchy conversation at the opera house with his friend:
Friend: "Just look at those diamonds! Look at them! She must be rolling in it! She looks a bit like Margaret Dumont, don't you think?"
Geoffrey: "Some women are so camp, aren't they?"
Friend: "What! They're hysterical! Talk about camp, dear - just give me Eleanor Steber at the Continental Baths! Have you got that album?"
Geoffrey: "Oh, I've tried everywhere. Everywhere! Deleted now!"
Friend: "Oh God, yes! I found mine in New York, actually. Ten dollars. I can't remember when I was so thrilled! Shall we have a little troll upstairs? You never know what you're missing in this place!"
Geoffrey: "I love walking up this staircase. It's so Joan Crawford, isn't it?"
Well, apart from being a brilliant observation of the interplay between queens - it could be Madam Arcati and I and our friends chatting - this set me thinking. Just who is/was Eleanor Steber? And could it be true that an opera singer (if that is indeed who she was) actually performed at the most notorious of the sex-club bathhouses in New York in the 70s? The home of Bette Midler and Barry Manilow (who started out as an act there)? So off I went on a web search to find out more...

Eleanor Steber, who died in 1990, was indeed an American operatic soprano - one of the first major opera stars to have achieved the highest success with training and a career based in the United States. Before her, most of the biggest stars of opera were European. Noted particularly for her performances of Wagner, Mozart, Puccini and Richard Strauss, she rose to prominence in the 1950s with the Metropolitan Opera, and performed at Bayreuth.

A bit of a high-living party-loving girl, her voice suffered towards the end of her career, but not before she paid a tribute to some of her greatest fans - gay men - by performing at the Continental Baths in 1973. And to top the whole search, I have found a copy of the original recording online!

Listen to or download the whole album as an MP3

Eleanor Steber live at the Continental - track listing:

  • Mozart: Zeffiretti lusinghieri (from Idomeno), Ach, ich fuehl's (from Die Zauberfloete), Come scoglio (from Cosi fan tutte);
  • Charpentier: Depuis le jour (from Louise);
  • Puccini: Quando m'en vo (from La Boheme);
  • Massenet: Scene and Gavotte (from Manon);
  • Sieczynski: Wien, du Stadt meiner Traeume;
  • Kreisler: Stars in My Eyes;
  • Lehar: Medley from The Merry Widow;
  • Puccini: Vissi d'Arte (from Tosca).
Edwin Biltcliffe, Piano; Joseph Rabb, Violin.October 4, 1973.

It is strange listening to this very old and very camp recording of a bygone gay era - before AIDS and the hysteria it whipped up closed bathhouses like this forever.

In particular, I found it very interesting how much Ms Steber's speaking voice must have influenced Bette Midler when she created her character Vicky Edie (from whence came my own epithet "Dolores Delargo the Toast of Chicago!").

But those reflections aside, I most enjoyed finding this beautiful vocal performance intact and online. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

And, SIXTEEN YEARS on from the original post, I still hope you do...

Eleanor Steber (17th July 1914 - 3rd October 1990)

Tuesday 16 July 2024

Obscure objects of desire

On my shopping list:

Well, it is my birthday next month...

Monday 15 July 2024

And you're gonna finish on top!


A view up my back passage. [click to embiggen]

Groo. Another weekend just whooshed by...

By good fortune, it would have been the ground-breaking lyricist Dorothy Fields' birthday today - the woman who broke the "glass ceiling" back in the early 20th century, writing dozens of songs with the likes of Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hammerstein and Cy Coleman for musicals ranging from the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers era to Annie Get Your Gun to Sweet Charity.

On this Tacky Music Monday, what better way to wake us all up than a bit of tap-dancing, courtesy of the lovely, leggy Tommy Tune - and one of Miss Fields' splendidly upbeat numbers?!

Have a good week, dear reader.

Sunday 14 July 2024

Found wanting?


[click to embiggen]

Madam Arcati and I concluded our "choral triptych" - we saw Faure's Requiem in March, and Verdi's Requiem in June - at the Cadogan Hall last night, with the biggest and most OTT of the lot, William Walton's Belshazzar's Feast.

Famously, the piece requires a huge vocal ensemble (last night's production had two choirs - Epsom Choral Society and the Barnes Choir), and just about every instrument in the orchestral canon. Indeed, the renowned wit and esteemed conductor Sir Thomas Beecham (who was very sniffy about the work as it was about to receive its premiere) said to the young William Walton: "As you'll never hear the thing again, my boy, why not throw in a couple of brass bands?" So he did.

It's impressive, that's for certain, if not exactly my "cup of tea" either. It's based upon one of those dramatic Old Testament stories full of smiting: the Jews are in exile as slaves in Babylon and the tyrant Belshazzar commits sacrilege by taking their sacred vessels for his guests and concubines to use at a lavish feast, bringing damnation upon his head. It includes the original source of the phrase "the writing's on the wall" - "You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting." Belshazzar's subsequent death and the fall of his empire become the cause of great celebration for the Jews. Noisily.

It is, of course, another phrase from that original story [later repeated in one of the Psalms] that has become even more famous in popular culture - not least in this eternal classic. I couldn't possibly imagine two more polar opposite pieces of music - but hey, that's the way my mind works!


PS

It's France's greatest day of celebration, Le Quatorze Juillet (or Bastille Day)...

...so here's some coq gaulois, for your delectation:

Ooh, la, la!

Saturday 13 July 2024

New, nuevo, yeni, laatste

It's Saturday, it's grey and humid, and it's time for a little sojourn into some of the "newer" music that has caught my ear of late...

First up, something (relatively) new that is actually really quite old! It's also quite appropriate, since one of its creators Pino D'Angiò died last week. This track was originally produced way back in 1990, became a worldwide hit when it was remixed by Jam'n'Spoon in 1992, and has gone on to become a trance classic, with perpetual remixes and re-workings - right up to 2022, with this one:

In complete contrast, here's a faboo "fusion" between the traditional music of Kenya and Western musical genres, released at the turn of this year, but - despite the fact that Madam Arcati's been raving about it for months - it's taken me this long to actually feature here:

Veering back towards potential chart territory [whatever that actually means these days, in a world where merely watching a video on YouTube can actually count towards a place in the charts for the song it is promoting], here's Our Princess Kylie in collaboration with some lesser mortals (on what is, tbh, not much of a song, but I am prepared to give it a few more listens...):

I was strangely drawn to this rather stylish lady, with her modern and rather glittering tribute to one of our fave genres, Disco...

Miss Katy Perry pleases feminists everywhere by singing a song about female empowerment while jiggling her breasts at a camera:

"Big Willy" is back! - with a rather jolly choon [for a change]:

And finally... Saving the best to last, Dame Sophie of the Ellis-Bextors deigns to help out one of her continental acolytes - with spectacular results!

As ever, dear reader, I'd love to know your thoughts...

Friday 12 July 2024

It's a musical, natural high

We're almost there, folks...

As another weekend looms, it's grey and murky again here in London, just in time for the big outdoor events: the finals of Wimbledon, the British Summer Time festival in Hyde Park (Stevie Nicks tonight, Our Princess Kylie tomorrow), the Wireless festival closer to us in Finsbury Park (Nicki Minaj tonight, Doja Cat on Sunday) - and the football final in Germany...

Us? We're going to Cadogan Hall again tomorrow, for William Walton's Belshazzar's Feast!

Meanwhile, let the celebrations with which we always greet the end of a week commence - starring the magnificent tonsils of Edwin Starr ["born in Tennessee, found fame in Detroit, died in Nottingham"], a pair of dead-eyed dancers with crispy flicks, and a song that was actually in our charts this week 45 years ago - and Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a great weekend, dear reader!

Thursday 11 July 2024

Sans regrets, sans mélo'

Happy National Bandoneón Day! [If you happen to be Argentinian...]

Forgive the esoteric reference, dear reader - bandoneón is merely the local version of what we know as an accordion. Not normally an instrument of interest, given its corny association with buskers, fiddle bands and gypsies, nevertheless it has been a contributory factor to quite a few choons of which we are very fond.

Like these:

...and - I really cannot believe I have only ever featured this all-time house fave here at Dolores Delargo Towers once!

[Every time we have a house party, this one of the mainstays on the playlist - as our whole gang does (or attempts to) do all the dance moves along with those lovely Pierre et Gilles models...]

Squeeze that box, folks!

Wednesday 10 July 2024

Never being boring

You know you're getting old when...

...you realise that the godlike genius that is Mr Neil Tennant is (scarily) 70 years old today!!

All hail...

Here are just a few of our favourites from his long and estimable career:

The one that makes me cry:

And finally, the one that started it all:

"You should always celebrate your successes because someone else will celebrate your failures."

"An issue I've had is: is it possible to be a pop star without selling sex? And ultimately I think to have mass selling pop music it is not possible to do it without selling sex. That's why I think we're not as successful as I think our music could be."

"We do politics through satire. I think when you get activist pop, that's the problem."

"A lot of what used to be known as gay culture - broadly speaking, homoeroticism and being camp - has been brought into mainstream culture. I think we should be moving to an era where it's just sex."

"The first club I ever really went to was this club on Neal Street, in London. It was a gay club – we used to pronounce it ‘Shag-o-ramas’, but it was spelt Chaguramas. It’s the name of a Spanish sheep or something."

"It's fundamental that what we do only exists in our own universe. When you like Pet Shop Boys, you are in our world."

Neil Francis Tennant (born 10th July 1954)

Tuesday 9 July 2024

Every paperclip was precious

Generation Z colleagues not taking their job seriously? Sit down and terrify them with tales of a primitive time when the working conditions were as antiquated as the haircuts:

The reliance on fax machines
You think the photocopier’s insanely large and impossible to reload? Once we had a device called the fax machine, the Satanic spawn of a cantankerous printer and a vengeful, screeching demon trapped in a landline. Everything important had to be sent over the unreliable monster including your timesheet. Sent it wrong? No money for you.

Endless paper
Where do arriving faxes go? Your in-tray. And once you’ve laboriously entered their data? Your out-tray. What about the ones that are a bit hard? Someone else’s desk. Where does this leave your working environment? As choked with paper as the scene in Harry Potter where a million letters come down the chimney.

Cubicle servitude
Hot desking is the modern hell, but being fenced in with furry corkboards was a more taunting torture. No amount of faded family photographs pinned to these barriers could replace the longing for the world outside or stop hours dreaming of the scent of grass, the feel of sunshine, the memory of any colour other than grey.

Tippex was real
Amending a form? There’s no delete in this world. Instead, open yourself up to a lifetime of substance abuse by cracking open the potent biohazard called Tipp-ex. Nearly the worst of all the white liquids, it fixed imperfectly, took too long to dry and made it look like a pigeon had shat on your suit. But combined with a photocopier made forgery easy.

No personal phone use
Not your mobile phone, they didn’t exist. The phone that sat on your desk all day, that you spent all day making calls from, was as closely monitored for personal calls as your internet is today. Make one quick call to your bank and you’d be given a verbal warning and made to pay back 45p.

Territorial stationery wars
In the bygone land of analogue, every paperclip was precious. Feeling emotionally attached to a specific stapler was normal, as was the need to label your own personal hole punch and stroke it lovingly. Until one morning you came back and it was all gone, raided and scattered across a floor’s worth of desks and you never trusted again.

The Daily Mash

Of course.

Monday 8 July 2024

I Got Myself an Angel


Sigh, indeed.

Monday comes around so quickly - especially when the weekend was a complete washout.

As we gird our loins for another week of unbridled joy in work, it's worth noting that it would have been the birthday of a remarkable (and oft-overlooked) favourite lady here at Dolores Delargo Towers, Miss Della Reese!

We adore her "Cha-Cha-Cha" album (of course), and her appearance alongside fellow divas Ethel Merman, Ann Miller and Carol Channing on The Love Boat is the stuff of legend - see my post on the sad occasion of her departure for Fabulon for that - but on this occasion, it's to her venture into the world of Scopitone we turn for a true Tacky Music Monday treat!

Have a good week, dear reader.

Sunday 7 July 2024

A Regular Royal Queen

Today would have been the 80th birthday of the late, much-missed Mr George Logan, better known (of course) as "Doctor Evadne Hinge" [pictured left, above] - one half of one of the most enduring British drag acts of all time. By way of a celebration, here's an extract of my post way back in 2009:

Hinge and Bracket [for it is they] first became a double act with their regular bookings in the early 70s every Sunday lunchtime at a gay Kensington restaurant run by the iconic April Ashley. Their earliest breakthrough into the mainstream, however, was their smash hit appearance in 1974 at the Edinburgh Festival.

Patrick Fyffe (Dame Hilda Bracket) and George Logan (Dr Evadne Hinge) both had brilliant operatic singing voices, and their evocation of middle class gentility in the mythical "Stackton Tressel", suffused with smutty double-entendres, kept their flame alight until they were "discovered" by the BBC in 1977 - resulting in hit radio series such as The Enchanting World of Hinge and Bracket, followed by The Random Jottings of..., and At Home with....

As well as gracing us with their TV commercials for sherry, they appeared in two Royal Variety Performances, their own series of "Gala Evenings", starred on The Good Old Days, landed their own prime-time TV series Dear Ladies, and made a number of records. They also appeared in a televised Royal Opera House production of Die Fledermaus in 1983, conducted by Placido Domingo and starring Kiri Te Kanawa as Rosalinde.

Our own precious copy of the Best Of Hinge and Bracket is often on an evening's playlist, not least for the pair's superlative versions of We'll Gather Lilacs, Zigeuner and A Regular Royal Queen.

Sadly Patrick died in 2002; George moved to France to run a guest house - and departed to join him in Fabulon just last year. But we will never forget the sheer joy that Hinge and Bracket gave us...

Perfect "Sunday Music".

George Logan (7th July 1944 – 21st May 2023)

Hinge and Bracket official website

Saturday 6 July 2024

He drinks a Lager drink, he drinks a Cider drink

Another snippets post today, dear reader:

  • A little less mascara: Parisian drag cabaret club Chez Michou, which inspired La Cage aux Folles (the Jean Poiret play, the classic 1978 French film and its musical adaptation), is set to close its doors for good after 68 years. [Read my tribute to Michou over at the Dolores Delargo Museum of Camp]
  • A.I. Zombies news: Audiobooks "read by" the voices of dead stars such as Judy Garland, James Dean and Sir Laurence Olivier have been launched by an AI company in London.
  • Marsupial-cuddling controversy: A koala sanctuary in Australia where high-profile guests from Taylor Swift to Vladimir Putin have been photographed with them has banned cuddles with the animals.

We are also apparently at the end of Alcohol Awareness Week. I'm aware of it, in large quantities! So are this lot:

Friday 5 July 2024

¡Olé!

Another long, busy and tedious week is heading for its demise, thank heavens!

Ironically, only yesterday I commented to Ms Scarlet "Just be thankful it's not pissing it down, like it usually does during Wimbledon fortnight". Lo and behold, it's been doing just that today, and the weekend doesn't look much better either. Must be the post-election gloom, now we've ousted one out-of-touch load of shifty politicians and replaced them with another...

Let's take our minds off it all, start planning for our traditional end-of-week party, and visit warmer climes to revel in the company of a truly - ahem - talented Spanish diva, and her homosexuals de seguridad - and Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a great weekend, dear reader!

Thursday 4 July 2024

I've got you in my heart, I got you in my head

Ignoring the UK general election and the US Independence Day completely... as our "summer" weather carries on in the bizarre pattern that it usually does in the UK at this time of year [it was considerably warmer at midnight last night than it was at midday yesterday], let us travel back in time to another unsettled yet rather warm year...1999!

Twenty-five years ago [gulp!] this month, it was indeed very dry and sunny, but thunderstorms were everywhere. That didn't stop us partying, of course!

Can these "songs of the summer" really be that old??!! Fuck.

A quarter of a century?! Where did that go?

Wednesday 3 July 2024

Hornpipes

Gosh. In all the excitement of Saturday's Gay Pride, we neglected to notice that was also Armed Forces Day!

Better late than never...

Tuesday 2 July 2024

Maniacal cackling on the wind

A stoical man gazing at the clouds has grimly warned that a hen party is approaching.

Sitting in his rocking chair, old timer Norman Steele has predicted that dozens of drunken women will soon be heading in his direction so everyone should hunker down before it strikes.

Steele, who has not been the same since the hen do of 2012, said: “They’re doing pre-drinks in an Airbnb right now, but they’re a-comin’. They’re a-comin’.

“If you listen closely, you can hear their maniacal cackling on the wind. Within the hour they’ll start blaring "Single Ladies" and "Wannabe", and that’s when the nightmare truly begins.

“First you’ll see their penis-shaped deely-boppers on the horizon as they stagger from one cocktail bar to the other. Then they’ll rip through the streets in a flurry of personalised sashes, wreaking havoc on traffic and pedestrians alike. Nobody will be safe.

“You can only tell the strength of a hen party by the damage it leaves in its wake, but this one feels like a biggie. Come the morning, expect to see hundreds of shattered pitchers and the bodies of broken waiting staff littering the pavement.

“I’m off to hide in my hen party cellar, and I suggest you do the same. May God have mercy on us all.”

The Daily Mash

Of course.


On a possibly similar note, another of the "blasts from the past" that we sang along to as the Gay Pride parade passed by on Saturday was this one [which could quite easily also be mistaken for a "hen party classic"]:

I love it! Indeed.

Monday 1 July 2024

C'est vrai que j'aime bien les beaux garçons


Fuck! Monday again?!! So soon..?

It's back to reality time, after a splendid Gay Pride weekend, and I am not looking forward to it whatsoever.


Media whores? Us? How dare you.

Hey ho. On this Tacky Music Monday - let's bring on the safety gays!!

Thank heavens for Our Patron Saint Dalida, I say!

Have a good week, dear reader.