The last week has been a celebratory one in the world of music, with heroes of music enjoying birthdays and classic records reaching landmark anniversaries. The Far Out weekly round-up is your one-stop shop for the last seven days in music.
Starting on a positive note, the mastermind behind The Who, Pete Townshend, blew out 76 candles on his birthday cake as the rock icon celebrated another year of life. Right off the bat, Townshend proved to be a formidable force in the songwriting department. His talent culminated in a cross-section between pure creative energy, musical intuition, and when to play and most importantly, when not to play.
Not only was the guitarist the mercurial lifeblood that moved around the body of the band, but he was also the brain, the engine and at some points, the muscle. Though he was also the cantankerous side of the group, often falling out with everyone in it, there is no band without Townshend. The best way to enjoy the master at work is to listen to these five scintillating isolated versions of tracks by The Who, which you can check out here.
Townshend isn’t the only guitar wizard to celebrate their birthday this week, with My Bloody Valentine maestro Kevin Shields turning 58. There is only one word to describe Kevin Shields; pioneer. The mastermind behind My Bloody Valentine (MBV), the Irish-English quartet, broke down the sonic barriers by releasing their magnum opus, Loveless, in 1991.
Two things comprise his unique and elemental sound. The Fender Jazzmaster and a lot of effects pedals. More than thirty years after MBV’s inception, they continue to break down the barriers of sound and inspire countless others. A lot of musicians have Kevin Shields to thank for their musical awakenings and subsequent careers. Far Out examined the love affair between Shields and the instrument that follows him everywhere he has gone throughout his glittering yet, acerbic career.
On the film side of things, Spike Lee’s masterpiece, Do The Right Thing, celebrated its 32nd anniversary and Far Out looked back at a piece of cinema that sadly is still as relevant today as it was in 1989. Originally intended as a pointed response to the Howard Beach incident that took place in 1986, Do the Right Thing has transformed into a definitive commentary on the fraught race relations in America.
For any viewers who are watching the film for the first time – or if they happen to be revisiting Spike Lee’s masterpiece – it will be hard to dissociate from the overwhelming backlash against police brutality after the murder of George Floyd. It is, it goes without saying, impossible to watch Do the Right Thing in a vacuum.
Of course, that’s good because the topic does not exist in a vacuum; it is a political manifestation of a social reality that Malcolm X rightly called “the American nightmare.” The greatest tragedy about the legacy of the film is that it is still important. Even after all these years of “progress”, the questions that Lee raised about a system that perpetrates prejudice refuse to disappear.
On the new music front, Edinburgh’s Brooke Combe featured in our ‘New Noise’ section. The 21-year-old only has one single to her name, but the anthemic ‘Are You With Me?’ is a pulsating smash that suggests that she is firmly on the path to stardom.
Combe’s debut single arrived through Island just a few weeks ago. Sounding like an artist who knows her creative vision perfectly, Combe is undoubtedly primed to take over. It’s rare to hear a debut single that grabs you by your lapels in the same way as ‘Are You With Me?’ does.
“I’m excited about everyone’s reaction,” Combe told Far Out about the elated reaction to her debut single. “People have been loving the song, which means a lot because we all worked really hard on it. It’s not really sunk in that I have all these people supporting me. It’s crazy, and I’m really grateful. It’ll be good to see everyone at a live gig soon,” she adds.
Far Out’s ‘Album Of The Week’ was the latest solo venture from Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys. Upon learning the news that Rhys’ latest album, Seeking New Gods, is a concept record based upon Mount Paektu in North Korea, it’s impossible to stop your head from spinning. Of all the subject matters to dedicate a full album, a mountain that sits between North Korea and China is an obscure choice today the least. Despite the somewhat surreal starting point, there’s a beauty that comes with it, one which leads to Rhys creating a pop masterpiece.
The Far Out Weekly Round Up
- The Who – ‘Behind Blue Eyes’
- Grace Jones – ‘Libertango’
- Ramones – ‘Baby, I Love You’
- Public Enemy – ‘Fight The Power’
- Cher – ‘Walking In Memphis’
- Joe Cocker – ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’
- The Doors – ‘People Are Strange’
- Biggie – ‘Mo Money Mo Problems’
- My Bloody Valentine – ‘Only Shallow’
- Fats Waller – ‘Ain’t Misbehavin”
- Marvin Gaye – ‘What’s Going On’
- Soundgarden – ‘Rhinosour’
- The Beatles – ‘Paperback Writer’
- Brooke Combe – ‘Are You With Me?
- Gruff Rhys – ‘Holiest of the Holy Men’