The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

07

"We wanna be free! We wanna be free to do what we wanna do. We wanna be free to ride. We wanna be free to ride our machines without being hassled by The Man! ... And we wanna get loaded. And we wanna have a good time. And that's what we are gonna do. We are gonna have a good time... We are gonna have a party." These immortal words, uttered by Peter Fonda in cult biker movie, "The Wild Angels", found a new lease of life when they appeared in an edited form at the start of the Primal Scream track, 'Loaded'. I was reminded of them recently when I read a report in 'Bicycling Magazine' concerning a leisure cycle along America's best road. The article contained a vignette about a group of the cyclists on the trip who spent their evenings watching 'Wild Angels' on DVD, drinking beer and playing their guitars into the early hours of dawn. The overall impression was of cycling as rock & roll, rebellion, freedom, sticking it to The Man, partying and the open road.

So, with a month to go before the start of the 2007 Tour De France it was interesting to do a short trawl of i-Tunes to see that a number of famous musicians have written songs about bicycles. There is, of course, Queen who sang how, "I don't wanna be a candidate for Vietnam or Watergate / Cause all I wanna do is / Bicycle bicycle bicycle". There is Pink Floyd who revealed that, "I've got a bike. You can ride it if you like / It's got a basket, a bell that rings and / Things to make it look good / I'd give it to you if I could, but I borrowed it." There is the elegiac 'Broken Bicycles' by Tom Waits that parallels a broken love affair with, "Broken bicycles / Old busted chains / With busted handle bars / Out in the rain." And there are also hymns to the simple velo by HAL, John Cale and the fragrant Katie Melua. Most importantly, there is Kraftwerk's 'Tour De France'.

If there is one cyclist that embodies all these diverse qualities then it is Lance Armstrong, a genuinely heroic athlete who fought off cancer to come to win Le Tour seven times, has since raised millions of dollars for cancer support and research, was briefly engaged to Sheryl Crow and, being a Texan, has a healthy streak of the rebel yell runing though his veins. So, to finish, I thought I would show you an advert he did for Nike that has a genuine touch of poetry to it and a soundtrack that tugs at your heart strings in the right way. Vive Le Tour, ride free or die.

 

 


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07
Mat Tanner is a musician. He has already self-financed, self-recorded and self-released one album and is in the process of doing the same with a second. Last week, however, he incurred the wrath of Universal Music Publishing Group.  What could a Manchester based singer-songwriter have done to offend one of the world’s largest publishing groups? 
 
Well, sometimes, when playing live, he likes to play an acoustic interpretation of 'Power of Love' by Huey Lewis and the News, 'Boy in the Bubble' by Paul Simon, and 'Kiss' by Prince. Not all three songs, but rather a self-devised medley.  It’s an interesting number, and one of his fans enjoyed it enough to record it on their mobile phone and email it to his website, along with a number of performances of his own songs from the same night.
 
Impressed, and wanting to share the video with fans such as myself, Mat uploaded the video to YouTube last year. Since then it has received over 500 view and numerous comments, almost all positive. It is worth noting at this stage that two other videos of Mat from the same night had over 1600 views between them, therefore, people weren’t just searching for Prince say, and finding Mat.  However, Universal obviously feels very differently and so last week Mat received the following email:
 
“Dear Mr. Tanner,

This is to notify you that we have removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by Universal Music Publishing Group claiming that this material is infringing:

Please Note: Repeat incidents of copyright infringement will result in the deletion of your account and all videos uploaded to that account. In order to avoid future strikes against your account, please delete any videos to which you do not own the rights, and refrain from uploading additional videos that infringe on the copyrights of others. For more information about YouTube's copyright policy, please read the Copyright Tips guide.”

As far as I’m aware Mat has made no money from this video. It’s not a song he plays live all that often and so doesn’t trade on the back of it. He is simply a musician making his own music who happens to play a cover version to vary his set every now and again.  Where is the crime?  Surely, there is more chance of someone going out and buying a Huey Lewis/Prince/Paul Simon record on the back of being reminded of it than there is of any of the above losing out?  And what of the thousands of cover bands who make a living playing other peoples music in almost every pub in the UK and Ireland every night of the week? 

Taking action against a musician for playing music doesn't help music; it only threatens it. 

What next, copyright infringement for learning to play the guitar?  Oh wait!


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07

Tonight in Paris at a small indie venue called La Boule Noire there's a concert by a French group called Ultra Orange & Emmanuelle.

Fanta-stic: Ultra Orange and Emmanuelle The Emmanuelle in question is their lead singer - French actress Emmanuelle Seigner, best known for starring beside Harrison Ford in Roman Polanski's 1988 Paris thriller 'Frantic'. These days Ms Seigner is actually Mrs Polanski, and the couple live in Paris.

Last year Seigner starred in a French film called "Backstage", the story of a wild rock diva - and the role obviously gave her a taste for the real thing.

You can listen to some tracks by Ultra Orange & Emmanuelle on their MySpace page, and you can watch the video for their single 'Sing Sing' below:

 

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06

Last Tuesday I watched David O'Doherty continue his quietly savage assault on the shibboleths of Post Boom Ireland as he wrote, recorded and released what he termed 'the ultimate power ballad' about a girl who had overdone the fake tan. He had high hopes that this musical masterpiece would go all the way to number 27 in the Irish singles charts. In order to achieve this, David followed a masterplan not unlike that employed by many a boyband Svengali, down to the soft focus promo video shot on a beach and the trademark white suit.

Last Sunday, I watched 'maverick master of the garden' Diarmuid Gavin convince another well to do Irish family to pony up in excess of €25,000.00 for a garden designed by him that they were going to have to build themselves.

It was hard to know which was the most bizarre sight; O'Doherty burning all two hundred copies of his single in four hours on three borrowed laptops on the floor of his flat or a family of wealthy Dubliners stump up the equivalent of the deposit for a house so that they can get into some big time DIY.

Both programmes offer a vision of Ireland that was strangely similar; the person using their own precious time and capital to acquire something that was both visible and yet transitory. At least, O'Doherty slaved away in service to his own vision whereas the home owners chosen by Gavin's producers have to pay for and execute a garden that was not of their design or inspiration.

I am not sure what these programmes are trying to tell us about Ireland but as slices of pop culture they are certainly fascinating to watch.


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05

Let me ask you a simple question ? Do you think Elvis was a lesser artist because of the cheeseburgers ? Do you think Moby is a greater artist because of the lack of them. There is no link between Hitler's vegetarian and homicidal tendencies yet hardline vegans frequently attempt to link a vegetarian diet with a superior moral or ethical approach to life as outlined by books such as "Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating" by Eric Marcus and the selective use of quotes from a variety of religious texts on websites such as VeganForLife.Org. In popular music Sir Paul McCartney has helped to popularise vegetarianism and a number of well known musicians such as Morrissey, Peter Gabriel, Leonard Cohen, Prince, Martin Gore, Fiona Apple and Meatloaf (no sniggering at the back) have been spotlighted as celebrities who have eschewed meat, fish, chicken and dairy to various degrees.

Don't get me wrong, good diet is an essential part of good health, but when you have to take vitamin supplements as a substitute for the vitamins you are missing out on because of your chosen diet then I wonder whether people are being told the whole story. In fact, I was particularly concerned when one acquaintance of mine kept on insisting that the value of a vegetarian diet was highlighted in Morgan Spurlock's "SuperSize Me". I had seen the documentary a number of times and it was quite clear that Spurlock's ill health stemmed not from his meat intake during that month but because of the amount of sugar, salt, fats and food additives that he ingested on that diet. Although, after filming ended, his vegetarian girlfriend did put him on a diet to lose the weight and help him back to the good health he had previously enjoyed Spurlock never became vegetarian; his subsequent diet was monitored by a doctor and devised by his girlfriend who works as a professional chef and health counsellor. In fact he is quoted as saying, "There’s still nothing better than pork chops, ham and bacon. I just can’t resist the swine.”

I'll put my cards on the table. I am, like any person born in this world, naturally an omnivore and when I say that I mean that my mouth is full of teeth that are able to handle a wide variety of foodstuffs which my stomach is then able to digest. As far as I know, Lions are unable to eat vegetables and cows don't eat meat but mankind is neither solely a herbivore or a carnivore so, as far as I can see, vegetarianism/veganism is primarily an emotional or intellectual choice. There are, of course situations where people are unable to eat certain foods for health reasons but we are not talking about people who are eating under the direction and supervision of a doctor or dietician, we are talking about people who, in the absence of any medical impetus, have made a conscious, personal choice about what they eat, sometimes as a result of reading the opinions of a person such as a famous musician who is not themselves qualified to give dietary advice but yet have taken it upon themselves to tell others what to eat and why and, in the process has attached certain moral or philosophical values to that unqualified advice.

In our modern, post religious society I am amazed that people, who would protest loudly if someone was to quote religious scripture at them in an attempt to direct their sexual behaviour would then meekly accept quotations from the same religious texts when it came to their diet. If you reject what the Bible says about homosexuality or contraception why will you accept what it says about eating meat ? I am perfectly happy to accept Macca's advice on how to write a good song or even what kind of bass guitar to buy but why should I accept what he says about food when he is not a qualified doctor, dietician or chef. How can I be sure that Morrissey is correct when he sings, "And the flesh you so fancifully fry / Is not succulent, tasty or kind"?. Maybe he just doesn't know anyone who can cook. Why should I look to rock musicians for health tips in the first place when so many of them suffer from severe drug or alcohol problems?

As I said at the beginning, there is no link between Hitler's fondness for carrots and his masterminding of the Shoah and so, until there is a proven connection between diet and morality, I would like to remind those campaigning vegetarians out there that its rude to talk with your mouth full, especially when the topic is ethics. Eat what you like, but don't bore others with spurious reasons for why you eat what you do.


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05

Just because we're living a wonderfully glamorous and exotic life in Paris, that doesn't mean that we have lost touch with our roots or forgotten about everyone back in Eire.

We want to give something back to you - and since we don't want to invite you to stay with us in Paris, we thought we'd help the Leaving Cert students among you. So, here's a quick glimpse of this year's French paper:

1. Reading Comprehension:

Read the following extract from a conversation between a young innocent English girl (Jane) and a Frenchman of dubious morals (Serge). Then answer the questions:

Jane: Je t'aime! Oh, oui, je t'aime!
Serge: Moi non plus.
Jane: Tu es la vague; moi, l'île nue
Serge: Je vais et je viens entre tes reins.
Jane: Maintenant, maintenant, tiens!! Ohhhhh *long org@smic groan*

(a) Outline the geographical imagery that Jane uses to suggest that she is well up for it.
(b) How does Serge indicate that he is a consultant proctologist at his local hospital?
(c) In your opinion, how could radio stations and church leaders suffer moral outrage at this conversation, despite not being able to understand any of it? Give reasons for your answer.

2. Writing.

You wish to attend a pop festival in Brittany this summer. Write to Madame Dubois, the local campsite owner and rock impresario, to ask for information. Your letter should include the following points:

- how to get there - by specially-subsidised French state transport, or by one decrepit Dublin bus every hour that gets caught in the traffic jam at the narrow exit to the field/car-park.
- whether a mortgage plan is necessary for ticket purchase, or if the average French industrial wage will suffice.
- if Arcade Fire will be there (as at every outdoor French event this summer, including the French Open tennis final and Monsieur Lenoir's Bastille Day barbecue).
- if camping is available (and if it is expected to be attacked and torched by drunken French hooligans in PSG jerseys, and if Madame Dubois the promoter will threaten to sue you if you even hint that it happened).

3. Oral.

Choose one of the following points to discuss in French with the examiner, using the video (below) of the sample exam (by D. Rice of Newbridge CBS) to help you.

 - How your complete fear and disgust regarding fame doesn't dissuade you from continuing to be a pop star performing before thousands of paying punters.

 - How the aforementioned paying punters should listen in reverential silence and not to sing along, despite being at a music event.

 - How you like sailing your little boat.

(Tip: The examiner may also decide to ask you about your recently-departed co-vocalist and how you're going to continue promoting an album that featured her so prominently. Please bear in mind that storming out of the exam hall is an automatic fail)


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04

The Eurockéenes festival, now in its 19th edition, is one of the more prestigious summer music events on the continent. It takes place on the weekend of 29 June - 1 July in Belfort, in the east of France.

Given that Belfort is virtually the geographical centre of continental western Europe and close to the Swiss and German borders, the festival traditionally attracts a wide geographical spead of punters, especially people travelling around on Eurorail passes. Its central location allows for (relatively ) cheap and easy access - for instance, EasyJet fly to nearby Mulhouse (that is, Basel-Mulhouse EuroAirport).

 As for the festival itself, there are two stages, two marquees and a plethora of big names. Marilyn Manson headlines the first day, which also features Amy Winehouse and the Wu-Tang Clan (backstage that day should be interesting).

The Saturday has a more indie-rock flavour, with The Hives, QOTSA, Editors, Maximo Park, Cold War Kids, I'm From Barcelona and Phoenix (France's best band and long-time favourites of your correspondent). Then after Sunday mass you can see Arcade Fire (playing every festival in France, it really seems), The Good The Bad And the Queen (playing songs from their album The Boring The Boring and The Boring), Antony and the Johnsons, Air, TV On The Radio, Laurent Garnier, Klaxons and more.

A 3-day pass (available online) costs €100, with a 1-day ticket available for a ridiculously cheap  €37 (but add on a couple of euro for booking fees, okay?). There's also free camping and shuttle buses as well as luggage storage for the aforementioned Eurorailers.

More details (in English) available on the English page of the festival's website www.eurockeennes.fr

The full festival line-up is:

Friday 29 June : Marilyn Manson, Juliette and the Licks, Wu-Tang Clan, Les Rita Mitsouko, Amy Winehouse, Kaolin, Justice, Gogol Bordello, Griots and Gods, Clipse, Converge, Peter Von Poehl, Archie Bronson Outfit, Punish Yourself, Hellbats, Iltika, Hollow Corp.
 
Saturday 30 June : The Hives, Queens Of The Stone Age, Phoenix, JoeyStarr, Olivia Ruiz, Editors, Abd Al Malik, Digitalism, Maxïmo Park, Cold War Kids, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, I'm From Barcelona, Bassékou Kouyaté, Tumi And The Volume, Stones Throw, Scanners, Blanche, Deerhoof, Shitdisco, Heavyweight Dub Champion, Stellardrive, For My Hybrid, Navel.
 

Sunday 1 July : Arcade Fire, Tryo, Air, The Good, the Bad and the Queen, TV on the Radio, Antony & the Johnsons, Laurent Garnier, Bikini Machine, Sick of It All, Bitty McLean, Klaxons, Hatebreed, Loney, dear, Goose, Pelican, 65 days of static, Stuck in the Sound, The Audience, Cocoon.

 


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03

TV chat-shows in the 1980s depended a lot on The Drunken Celebrity. In Britain or Ireland this usually meant inviting (for no reason whatsoever) George Best or Oliver Reed, leaving plenty of alcohol in their dressing room, and then gasping in mock horror as they slurred, swore and staggered their way into the next morning's tabloids. It was cynical, depressing and strangely compelling.

In France this role was filled by the country's greatest ever pop songwriter, Serge Gainsbourg. On one of his many notorious television appearances he burned a 500 franc banknote - an illegal act in France.The greatest love of all: Serge Gainsbourg charms Whitney Houston, live on French TV

However, his most infamous antic will always be the time in 1986 when he was a guest on a show called "Champs-Elysées" alongside a young and (then) squeaky-clean Whitney Houston, in her first year as a worldwide star.

Having sung her smash hit 'Saving All My Love For You', Whitney was brought by presenter Michel Drucker (still the Pat Kenny of bourgeois French TV) over to the couch where Serge was waiting. Fairly well tanked up by this stage, Serge gallantly kissed her hand and then proceeded to give Whitney the full force of his charm.

Hands all over her (and with a troublemaking look in his eye) he complemented her in slurred English on her looks before delivering his smoothest chat-up line: 'I want to f**k her'.

Whitney, in fairness to her, reacted in good humour. After gasping playfully at his naughty word, she calmed Serge down by holding his hand for the rest of the interview. And Gainsbourg, for his part, apologised almost immediately.

By contrast, the panicking presenter Drucker (in a Kenny-style lack of coolness) tried to convince Whitney that what Serge had IN FACT said was 'you are very beautiful' - to which Serge responded by clarifying that what he had indeed said was 'I want to f**k her'.

Today, of course, it is still shocking to say you want to sleep with Whitney Houston, but for altogether different reasons.

Re-live the greatest chat-up line of all right here. Fortunately, all the important parts are in English:


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03

Last night I switched on to RTE and caught the first episode of a documentary series entitled, "The Modest Adventures of David O'Doherty", in which our titular hero attempted to cycle from Dublin to Galway in one day so that he could perform a comedy gig at the Kings Head Pub to a small audience of NUIG students.

There are a number of things to be said about this programme set up. O'Doherty is unique among Irish comedians in that he makes himself the butt of the audience's laughter with a somewhat Beckettian, idiot savant stage personality and a line in quirky, one chord songs that he bashes out on a small, Casio keyboard. Whereas comics like Tommy Tiernan, Dara O'Briain and Des Bishop have made a name for themselves with their smug, desperately unfunny, too clever by half harrangues, inviting the audience to laugh at some dumb target or other outside of themselves, O'Doherty makes himself the target in much the same way that the American comedian Emo Philips had done previously. O'Doherty was true to form in this programme in that his chosen attire was a set of ladies' gym attire, old sneakers and a cycling helmet that was far too small for his noggin. Not only that but his chosen steed was not a full carbon road bike with cleat pedals but a battered old commuter bike with dodgy wheels and a back carrier onto which he lashed his keyboard, wrapped in a white, plastic, shopping bag. No one in their right mind would have confused this hapless loser with Sean Kelly.

The reason he chose to cycle the route in the first place was to emulate his hero, Tour de France winner, Stephen Roche and he figured that with enough drive and desire he could cover the 219 kilometres within one day. The average distance of a stage of the Tour De France, using the 2006 route as a guide, is 172km and I know amateur cycle enthusiasts who train relentlessly all year so that they can travel over to France to complete just one stage of the Tour, so O'Doherty certainly didn't set his sights low regarding the challenge he set himself, and that is not even factoring in Ireland's notoriously windy, rainy weather which decided to make an appearance in the show with a day long storm that provided unrelenting wind and rain coming from the Atlantic to challenge him even more.

O'Doherty had no team back up for his cycle, unthinkable for anyone attempting such a long route, he forbade the film crew to help him and his only food intake for the day consisted of some soggy sandwiches and a banana. After nine hours on the road and 100km from his goal, O'Doherty's legs gave way; what cyclists call 'the knock' or 'the bonk' and stopped working, requiring him to be transported by his sympathetic crew to the gig in Galway where he appeared far from happy on stage and performed a song detailing what he called his, "mild super powers". The programme narration duly put his failure to complete the route as being down to him being unprepared for the challenge, declared that it was the end of his dreams of getting fit and pointed out that he had wasted two hours on the side of the road attempting to fix a puncture; so I am unsure exactly how long he was cycling for but I put his average speed at somewhere between 13km and 17km an hour.

I am a life long leisure cyclist and I can assure you that doing 119km in one day on a bike is, far from being a failure, a bona fide athletic achievement. Most one day charity cycles in Ireland, include the Peter McVerry challenge, average around 100 - 130km and staged cycles average 100km per day with rest days built in. The people who participate in them usually have to undergo extensive training to ensure that they are fit enough to both take part and complete the route in a certain time and, when they do, they are fully backed up with medics, special sports diets and mechanics.

I watched O'Doherty on his trek with both admiration and, it must be said, much mirth. His deadpan expression as each indignity of the road was meted out was priceless but I was surprised that he chose, unlike his frequently self satisfied comedic peers, to portray his achievement as an umitigated failure. Subsequently, it occured to me that his position was artistic. Here is a guy choosing to show triumph as failure, to go against the grain of the 'what a great little nation we are' and instead to suggest that the Irish can fail and fail big. Furthermore, his choice of cycling is interesting in that it harks back to an Ireland mired in poverty and failure. Tim Hilton, in his book on cycling entitled "One More Kilometre and We're in the Showers" opined that one of the reasons why Ireland produced such great cyclists as Roche and Kelly was precisely because of the country's reduced circumstances at the time of their development as athletes. O'Doherty's comedy is in answer to the back slapping of the Riverdance generation and it may well be an augur of things to come, given the OECD's stark warnings for our economy and their view that there is no such thing as a 'soft landing'.

One more thing, if O'Doherty wants to show that he has mild super powers then I would encourage him to get back on his bike and sign up for one of the many worthy charity cycles that are held in Ireland such as the Joe Loughman Randonnée, the Tony Griffin Foundation Cycle or the Welcome Home Wexford Cycle. He could certainly complete the course on his present form and with his media profile he could easily raise the much needed funds required by so many charitable organisations in this country. Now, thats the work of a real superhero, however mild.


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03

The Infadels were the latest of the upcoming British acts flown in from London for the Bacardi Sino Sessions, the series of concerts in Beijing and Shanghai promoting the American rum with the bat logo. When we arrived at the Star Live (the 1,000-capacity venue which hosted Sonic Youth last month) for the latest installment in series support act Kela Kela, also from London, was winding down its beat-boxy set. Unfortunately much of the between-sets exodus didn’t return and the Infadels played dancey, full-hearted tunes like Love Like Semtex and Stories From the Bar to a half-empty, but lively, house. Their set and sound justified the comparisons with fellow disco rockers Primal Scream.

Overseeing the evening was Nathaniel Davis, one of the partners in China-based promotions company Spli-t. The affable American, who handpicked the London-based Infadels for the trip to China, is getting a reputation for professionalism, particularly since a well-run Sonic Youth tour. The Bacardi Sessions is one of two drinks-sponsored music events Davis has managed, the other being a Chivas DJ tour of China’s clubs. This diehard U2 fan has been spending Bacardi’s money well - he hired Beijing’s best sound-man, another relocated American music professional, Jamie Welton, to oversee sonic quality of the Infadels show. Good sound is often a rarity at Beijing gigs, hence Welton is routinely called on by major visiting acts coming to Beijing and Shanghai.

The Infadels came running on to crash into a solid set of their synth pop rock. The band was up for it so more shame the punters didn’t show. A half capacity crowd split 60-40 in expats compared to locals. That’s disappointing, considering Bacardi Sino Sessions are all about getting more Chinese to drink Bacardi. There were no queues at the numerous bars at the Star Live – punters exchanged RMB20 coupons for Bacardi-only drinks. RMB20 was a good deal for a Bacardi Breezer or the ironically named Cuba Libre – named no doubt for the flack Bacardi got for calling its rum Cuban – the company abandoned the island for America some time ago. 

Downstairs however, in the huge Tango nite-club, Bacardi seemed to be shifting a lot of volume. Throughout the building, glass display cases of Bacardi bottles, spot lit and set in copious amounts of red velvet carpet were making the point. A Porsche, a couple of mini-Coopers and plenty of BMWs by the door suggested there’s plenty of money about – so the RMB120 ticket price for the Infadels show would have been inconsequential - but the well flaunted money kicking about is apparently for venues like Tango, which play a mix of international and Mando pop hits while showy patrons alternate between the dance floor and sets of tables laden with drink and cigarettes. That’s a night out for Chinese, followed by afters at Jindingxuan, the 24-hour dim sum restaurant next door. Rock, even with cheap rum, is still a minority taste in the People’s Republic.


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2008 - A comprehensive guide to recording an album, written by Andy Knightly (the guide is spread over 4 parts).