The tube strike is over, but the next one is looming
This week saw London brought to its knees by a two day tube strike. Personally I can say it was some of the worst commutes I’ve had. The problem wasn’t that there weren’t enough buses for the dispossessed commuters, it wasn’t that the underground staff who were working didn’t know what lines were open or not (most did) and it wasn’t that the weather was awful, the real problem was the extra cars on the road. My journey was only from Ealing to Oxford Circus, but it took me over and hour to get from Oxford Street. The main problem was that the roads were crammed with extra cars.
There is another week of strikes planned for after the bank holiday. Whether it will take place, be as chaotic as this week’s one will remain to be seen.
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Macaulay Culkin’s band release debut single, it’s not as bad as I thought
When I first heard about this project I thought it was a joke and would never amount to anything more than a few shows. How wrong I was eh? As Velvet Underground tributes\parodies go this one isn’t that bad. What I like is how they’ve just changed the lyrics and kept the music pretty much the same. What I don’t like is that after a while the joke runs a bit flat and you kind of want them to go into one of their own songs.
This is one of the last things that I expect Culkin to do. Yes I know that he is friends with musicians and appeared in Sonic Youth’s video for Sunday, but forming a band of his own I didn’t see coming.
In his defence why not? Both Johnny Depp and Keanu Reeves have both been I bands and both released albums (Depp was in P and Reeves in Dogstar), so why should Culkin do it too? At least he’s trying to be funny, whereas Dogstar was so bad it was funny.
So what does the future for The Pizza Underground hold? Quite a bit. I’m sure that they will be able to tour for a bit on this wave of fame\notoriety and there will probably be an album. After that it’s down to them. A festival here, a TV appearance there. Why not? If someone who wins the X-Factor can be a star why not people with actual talent and comedy timing? I really wanted to dislike this, but I find it hard not to. It’s infectious and fun and isn’t that what good music should be about? Don’t forget that one of Norman Cook’s early guises was Pizzaman and he ended up releasing some great songs.
Wow! I made it all the way through without making one pizza pun. Now where is that menu as I’m surprisingly hungry…
Lou Reed died today. I was not expecting this. In June when he’d had a liver transplant and was making a recovery I thought that he’d be around for a bit longer. How wrong I was.
The thing I like about Lou Reed’s albums is that he always did what he wanted to do, not what he should do. He had an idea and he didn’t finish until he had what was in his head. Yes some of the albums weren’t that great, but at least they were interesting.
From the start of Lou Reed’s career he was pushing boundaries making some of the most influential music. He started in The Velvet Underground (possible one of the best band names ever) in the 1960’s. Their debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico changed the face of rock & roll. It was a sexy, dangerous album but like all visionaries they were ahead of their time and it didn’t sell well when it was originally released. Brian Eno famously said “Only five thousand people ever bought a Velvet Underground album, but every single one of them started a band”. Listen to Live With Lou Reed Volume 1 or Live With Lou Reed Volume 2 and you can see that their sound is still being ripped off today.
After he left The Velvet Underground, Lou Reed when solo. He’s debut album (Lou Reed) bombed. But his next album Transformer contained two of his most famous songs (Walk On The Wild Side and Perfect Day). His third album (Berlin) is his greatest work. It is a rock opera about a couple. It’s a bleak listen at times, but it’s also uplifting and beautiful too. For me he never touched it for the rest of his career. In 1975 he released Metal Machine Music. No one really knows if he was being serious on this album as it is just an hour of feedback and noise. Some sources claim that it was released to get out of a contract, others claim that it was meant to be a piece of art and others claim that he taking the ‘Heavy Metal’ genre to its logical conclusion. Whoever is right it has divided opinion since its release. Personally I don’t mind it (when I’m in the mood), but I’ve only played it three times in 10 years. The album did a lot to damage his commercial image, but it opened him up to the whole experimental crowd.
Lou Reed’s ‘comeback’ album was New York in 1989. The album was a back to basics tour de force. This album made people remember why they liked him in the first place. The music might have been basic, but the lyrics were mesmerising. Lou Reed recommended listening to it in one sitting, and I think he is right. That is the only way to get the most out of it.
After New York Lou Reed’s recorded output was very up and down. Set The Twilight Reeling was great, but The Raven wasn’t a fully formed project. His last album (2011’s Lulu with Metallica) didn’t work (any album based on the plays of Frank Wedekind isn’t going to work in all fairness). The album never felt like a collaboration nor did it work as an art piece. Part of me thinks it’s a shame that he couldn’t release one last album and go out on a high, but saying that maybe it’s better to have your last album something that you can’t really put your finger on and something that needs more plays to ‘get’.
I am generally sad that Lou Reed has died. I’m not the biggest Lou Reed fan, but he has left a massive hole, and I don’t know who is going to fill it? Who at the moment has the bloody-single-mindedness to not care about what the audience wants to hear and just make music for himself? And then to make that music amazing and interesting? I’m coming up at blanks at the moment, and that might be sadder than Lou Reed’s death.