The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

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The ‘Encyclopaedia of Surfing’ by Matt Warshaw spends an entire entry attempting to define soul surfing before quoting Sam George who once wrote that, we're all soul surfers. And so there's no such thing as soul surfing” which is not a lot of help really. Briefly though, soul surfing encompasses any approach to surfing that sees it as not just a pursuit that is physically good for you but one that is also mentally and spiritually positive as well. Soul surfers tend to stand in opposition to the idea of competitive surfing and also the idea that you can and should earn money from surfing. Some soul surfers get involved in environmental protection projects or are drawn to Christianity and there is even an organisation called Christian Surfers who play an important role in the Irish surfing community. So with that in mind, here are seven suggestions for tracks to listen to when you are trying to reach a higher place through surfing.

 

'Astral Weeks' by Van Morrison

“If I venture in the slipstream / between the viaducts of your dreams”; perhaps the most enigmatic opening line of any song in Irish popular music. It doesn’t matter how many times you listen to it, you never really get a handle on what Van is singing about, but who cares anyway, it still sounds brilliant. That’s why he is Van The Man and not Van A Man.

 

'People Get Ready' by The Frames

Glen Hansard once said that he wrote this one after reading the Book of Luke in a hotel room. If The Frames were to perish tomorrow in a freak plane accident this could easily stand as their masterpiece. Drawing inspiration from both ‘Venus in Furs’ and the old gospel classic of the same title, this song is the nearest anyone is going to get to a Spiritual in post Catholic Ireland. “We have all the love in the world to set alight”. Amen.

 

'Acoustic Motorbike' by Luka Bloom

Luka Bloom headed out one day on his mountain bike whilst he was staying in Kerry and this song is the result. Lines dealing with the bucolic pleasures of the Irish landscape, "The Kerry mountains or the Wicklow hills / The antidote to my emotional ills", are blended with an environmental message, all set to a heady acoustic groove.

 

'Light and Day / Reach for the Sun' by The Polyphonic Spree

It’s arguable that if the Polyphonic Spree didn’t exist that there might not be an Arcade Fire either and its interesting that David Bowie worked with both of them. Musical collectives are all the rage now but this group broke the mould. Never mind that this track is now used as the background for Jamie Oliver’s awful Tesco adverts, it is still a wonderful, uplifting piece of music.

 

'Waiting for the Great Leap Forward' by Billy Bragg

If surfing is still a counter culture movement, and I doubt it given the number of 4WDs parked in Strandhill on any given weekend, then this tune by Billy Bragg is a veritable manifesto for sticking it to The Man; as Bragg sings in the closing minutes, “If you’ve got a blacklist I want to be on it”.


'Doin’ The Things That We Want To' by Lou Reed

According to Victor Bockris, Bob Dylan once confessed that he wished he had written this song. Lou Reed takes his personal admiration for the artistry of Sam Shepard and Martin Scorsese as the starting point for a hymn to the importance of art in your life, “I wrote this song ‘cos I’d like to shake your hand / In a way you guys are the best friends I ever had”

 

'Everybody Else' by The Blue Nile

There is something about the music of The Blue Nile and Paul Buchanan that is just so damn uplifting despite the often downbeat lyrics. This jaunty tune from the ‘High’ album is typical as Paul sings, “I don’t want to be everybody else / So when we going to be ourselves”, a truly sublime song and one that is perfect to listen to as you walk along by the ocean early on a sunny morning.


 


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Tonight on French television there’s a compilation of highlights from Rapido, the Gallic-flavoured music show that ran on BBC and RTE from 1987 to 1992.

 

Daft punk: 'Rapido' presenter Antoine de CaunesIn its day it was probably the best music show on TV, mainly because it managed to interview all the big names of that remarkably fertile period when house, grunge, baggy, electro, shoegazing and rap (to name just a few innovations of the time) transformed modern music. The show also created the template for irreverent, fast-paced and eclectic youth culture programmes – ‘The Word’ on Channel 4 was unmistakably influenced by it.

However, most people probably just remember Rapido’s presenter, Antoine de Caunes (above right), with his exaggerated French accent and smirking delivery (of scripts written by legendary rock journalist and Paris resident Nick Kent). In France de Caunes is actually a respected actor, comedian and film-maker – but in the UK and Ireland he will always be the silly, kitsch-loving perv who presents Eurotrash.

Here, then, are both sides of Rapido – first, a 1990 interview with The Cure, introduced by de Caunes in his almost unintelligible Inspector-Clouseau-on-speed accent:

And a rare artefact for Irish music fans – a Kevin Shields promotional interview! The My Bloody Valentine leader is here talking up ‘Loveless’ in 1991 and explaining how it took all of THREE YEARS to make! Little did we suspect that this was Shields at flat-out working pace. Note (1) Kev’s Dublin accent (thus settling for ever the old MBV-Irish-or-not argument) and (2) his hyperactive mile-a-minute personality, which he clearly brings to MBV productivity:

 
 
Contact this blog in the more intimate surroundings of frenchletter(at)cluas(dot)com. Your blogger regrets that you can't "crash with him in Paris".

 


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The video for Snow Patrol's latest single, "Open Your Eyes", features a high-speed drive through the early-morning streets of Paris. The footage comes from a 1976 short film called "Le Rendez-vous" made by renowned French director Claude Lelouch.

FYI, for any Paris-lovers, the drive starts on the Left Bank of the Seine, crosses the river and cuts through the Louvre courtyard, goes up past the Opera, then crosses Boulevard Haussmann at Galerie Lafayette and goes round the church of Notre Dame de Trinite before heading to Pigalle and round Montmartre - finishing on top of the steps to Sacre Coeur.

 

Too shy to comment below? Just e-mail frenchletter(at)cluas(dot)com. Your blogger regrets that he can't "pick you up off the bus from Beauvais airport".


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Rudd is, along with Jack Johnson and Donanvon Frankenreiter, one of the foremost practitioners of contemporary surf pop. Rudd hails from Australia and is, like Jack and Don, both an adept surfer and an expert guitarist. His songs have an ecological or spiritual bent and sometimes employ that much derided antipodean instrument the didgeridoo to great effect. Rudd played Whelans last year to an audience of ex pat Aussies and those paddies who had spent a year out down under but, with the release of his new album’ Food In The Belly’ over here by Anti Records, it won’t be long before he gains a wider Irish audience. ‘Messages’ is a fine example of his style, a foot stomping guitar riff over which Rudd lays a lyric concerned with both the ecological future of our planet and the state of our own souls.


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Nuggets from our archive

2005Michael Jackson: demon or demonised? Or both?, written by Aidan Curran. Four years on this is still a great read, especially in the light of his recent death. Indeed the day after Michael Jackson died the CLUAS website saw an immediate surge of traffic as thousands visited CLUAS.com to read this very article.