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Random thoughts about sound and vision.

Foo Fighters On The Double

Two pieces of rather excellent Foo Fighters news today.

First, they've revealed the epic cover artwork for their upcoming album SONIC HIGHWAYS (out in November):

Plus, Dave Grohl has become the latest celebrity to accept the Ice Bucket Challenge, to raise awareness of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease). Grohl's take on the Challenge is pretty damn good:

Remember the Reason.Create A World without ALS. Don't Forget To Donate After You Dry Off: http://www.alsa.org/ #IceBucketChallenge #strikeoutals


Silver Screen & The Sun Set

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I recently had the opportunity to do a couple of things I haven't done in a long time - see a silent movie on the big screen and go to an end-of-the-pier show; both on the same night. As part of the Bournemouth Arts By The Sea Festival, the Dodge Brothers were in town. And the Brothers - Mike, Mark, Alex and Aly - weren't leaving until they had educated us good people in the fine art of classic Americana skiffle blues.

Lesson one came with their live musical accompaniment of silent film classic Beggars Of Life, with honorary Dodge Brother (and film music documentarian) Neil Brand on piano. The last silent movie I'd been to (not including The Artist) was a screening of Abel Gance's 1927 masterpiece Napoleon nearly thirty years ago. Although not as epic (or as long - Napoleon clocks in at five and a half hours, plus intermissions), Beggars Of Life proved to be equally engrossing. Whilst images flickered up on the Pier Theatre's silver screen, the band played along. As Mike had explained in his introduction, they had a basic idea of what music they were going to play but were also free to improvise - reacting to the emotional flow of the film and changing their performance accordingly, just as the musicians back in the 1920s . In recent years, Beggars Of Life has gained a critical acclaim it didn't get during its original release back in 1928. Its story of a girl and a vagabond trying to escape the American heartland is perfect for the Dodge Brothers' music and there was thunderous applause at the end to prove it.

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After a break for a traditional seaside fish 'n' chip supper, the School For Skiffle was back in session. And then some. In the Key West Restaurant at the end of Bournemouth Pier, the Brothers played a raucous set to an enthusiastic audience. There's a couple of covers in the setlist but the Brothers mainly play their own material - or as they call it, "new songs that sound old". ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco And Firearms) Blues had the audience hollering out the chorus and raising the roof.  

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After a couple of encores and a flurry of autographs, the Dodge Brothers were gone - off into the wild, spooky Dorset night, destination unknown (but probably Hampshire). If you weren't there - shame on you; you missed a treat.  Atone for your sin by seeking out their latest album. The Sun Set was recorded in the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis. Ten tracks, all self-penned by the band and all terrific. 

 

Any Colour You Like - remembering Storm Thorgerson

I met Storm Thorgerson - who passed away today - a few years ago. As an avid Pink Floyd fan, I was keen to meet the artist behind so many of their iconic album covers.

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The opportunity came in 2010 at an exhibition held at the Gallery@Oxo in London. For The Love Of Vinyl was a celebration of the 12" LP covers created by Storm and the Hipgnosis team. As well as the classic Floyd art, they were responsible for album covers for Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel, Muse, Genesis, Wings, Yes...the list goes on. The artwork they created always complemented the music but never overshadowed it.

It's his work with Pink Floyd that Thorgerson was arguably best known for. The cow on Atom Heart Mother, the representations of absence on Wish You Were Here...and, in particular, the instantly recognisable prism artwork that features on The Dark Side Of The Moon. He turned up at the exhibition - fashionably late, without fanfare - and promptly sat behind a table loaded with copies of the For The Love Of Vinyl book. It was bizarre seeing many visitors to the event walk right past him, clearly unaware who he was.

Storm Thorgerson and another satisfied customer

Storm Thorgerson and another satisfied customer

At first, Storm was a curmudgeonly soul, tersely answering questions as he chain-munched his way through a box of chocolates. However, it wasn't long before he was cheerfully and enthusiastically talking up the benefits of our purchasing one of the limited edition Dark Side oil prints he had on sale. We didn't need much convincing. Soon we were the proud owners of an autographed prism print (it's the one on the bottom left of the picture), one that hangs on our study wall to this day.

Storm Thorgerson's contributions to album cover art were extensive, brilliantly conceived and executed. A sad loss indeed.