Monday, December 11, 2017

The Pop Rock Sensation That's Sweeping the Nation!

Trying to make Isambard Jones & His Orchestra the pop-rock sensation that’s sweeping the nation (if not the whole English-speaking world), I recently sent five tracks to various friends, acquaintances, foes, and persons I didn’t know from Adam. My thought was that, on hearing this beautiful music, everyone would commend the band to dozens of friends, who would in turn commend it to dozens of their own friends, and soon that horrid snooty woman who books talent for Later With Jools Holland would be on the phone, begging us to appear. 

What a little fool I was! The very large majority of those to whom I sent tracks effectively pretended I hadn’t. They didn’t say they loathed the music, and God knows they didn’t say they liked it. They said nothing at all, leading me to suspect that it just didn’t do much for them, and they knew their saying so would send me into an emotional tailspin. I, at one time the rock critic America most loved to loathe — and the author of the Kinks liner notes that changed the lives of all who read them — have been unable to get Pitchfork even to acknowledge the email in which I offered the sample tracks. 

Yesterday, a noted writer and publisher observed that Isambard’s “delivery hangs between singing and speaking, in a distinctive voice that is not quite musical.” I honestly don’t know how it could be much more musical. “[It sounds as though] the notes are being hit individually rather than connected in a melodic flow,” NWP continues, and my baffledness burgeons. Isambard had a debilitating stroke a few years back. From one moment to the next, he has trouble remembering how a line is phrased. When we record, we spend a lot of time,because of his impediment, just making the lyrics ride the melodies as the composer intended, and sometimes I’m happy just to get correct — as opposed to imaginative — phrasing. But it seems to me that NWP is talking about Lou Reed, and not Isambard, who never, as far as I can tell, sounds as though speaking as much as singing. 

Other commentators have shocked me by saying that IJ&HO reminds them of several recording artists whom I loathe, and of whom I would never want to remind anyone. Name Withheld, for instance, chided me gently for being so palpably in the thrall, on such tracks as “The Lowly Cockroach,” of Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, of whose work I would swear on a stack of Bibles, Quorans, and Torahs I am ignorant,except for Joanie’s early-‘80s hit about loving rock and roll. I remember thinking at the time that if she loved it so much, she wouldn’t perform it, as she seemed all black leather jacket and sneer, and no discernible talent. And now, all these years later, I find people asserting emphatically that she should be in something apparently called The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, apparently because she “kicked open the door for other women”, even though it seems to me that Wanda Jackson, for instance, was already walking unhindered into and out of the building before Joanie was so much as a tingling in Pater’s loins. 

Other commentators have wondered if IJ&HO are trying to sound like Ian Dury & the Blockheads. I find this marginally less gobsmacking, as guitarist Dazza du Toit is an avid admirer of such funky rhythm players as Carlos Alomar, and I, on bass, am the Jewish Duck Dunn. And Ian and I did have a brief fling in 1978, when a mob of Australians hired me to be the compere of a television special they were shooting in the UK, and I helped Ian, out of whose mobility polio had taken a big bite, off the stage in the club where his segment was shot, and was pleased to do so. Mere hours before, I had interviewed the smug, unpleasant young Paul Weller in the same venue, but he’d been quite able to get off the stage without assistance. I have never been able to understand what anyone liked about The Jam, but, there again, don’t see countless thousands of Jam bands flocking to iTunes to download the beautiful music of Isambard Jones & His Orchestra. 

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