Friday, 7 November 2008

LATER...with Jools Holland (Series 33, Show 7)

A journey into the strange and wonderful this week - a really messed up, mixed up and musically diverse couple of shows. In anticipation of an Obama win in the upcoming US elections, it was a very 'Black' line-up: Grace Jones, Akon and Seu Jorge forming the core sound. It was also a return for Razorlight, back with the new album Slipway Fires.


Grace Jones - Williams' Blood
Razorlight - Tabloid Lover
Seu Jorge - Burguesinha
Grace Jones (Chat with JH)
Akon - Right Away (Na Na Na)
Geraint Watkins - Easy To Say 'Bon Temps Rouler'
Razorlight - Wire To Wire
Grace Jones - Slave To The Rhythm


Razorlight - Burberry Blue Eyes
Grace Jones - Williams' Blood
Seu Jorge - America Do Norte
Grace Jones (Chat with JH)
Akon - Birthmark
Razorlight - Wire To Wire
Geraint Watkins - Champion
David Arnold (Chat with JH)
Grace Jones - Love You To Life
Akon - Right Away (Na Na Na)
Novice Theory - About The Dream
Dave Edmonds (Chat with JH)
Seu Jorge - Burguesinha
Razorlight - Hostage Of Love
Grace Jones - Pull Up To The Bumper

The show's reputation as an exercise in promotion started with Grace Jones, back after 19 (not 20 as she corrected Jools) years with new album Hurricane. Thankfully she closed both shows with the classics Slave To The Rhythm and Pull Up To The Bumper. She opened Tuesday with a new song Williams' Blood and on the Friday introduced us to Love You To Life. You can probably tell which duo was the more superior. The new songs paled in comparison with the former marginally better than the latter. Love You To Life is a mess of talky vocals and such obvious vocals after the chorus: "and not to death" - yeah, Grace we get what you did. No need to patronise us with an explanation. I wondered how Jools would handle an interview but it went much better than anyone expected - she declared herself a huge JH fan which probably helped. The Friday chat talked about her new album, her childhood in Jamaica enduring 'boring church hymns' and people singing off-key. She regards modelling as 'prostitution' and did it just to pay the bills - not a glowing endorsement of what got her noticed in the first place. And her love of jigsaw puzzles and hula hoops came up. It was compelling. On the Tuesday it was a bit more frosty - she was asked by Jools why she mesmerises men. Her slick sharp reply was "I hope I mesmerise women too". Brilliant. In the now obligatory question about advice, it was simple: "do it don't talk about it".

Now to Razorlight, also plugging new material from Slipway Fires. It's a real mixed bag and I'm not too sure about it. Wire To Wire (performed on both shows) is superb, even with looser vocals and bit too much power from Borrell at times. But the stomp rock of Tabloid Lover, Burberry Blue Eyes (opening Friday) and the rushed and noisy Hostage Of Love left me feeling distinctly underwhelmed. The band obviously think the new songs are great - like Coldplay - it is all very efficient and well presented but lacking decent songs. Maybe time will be kind. And no interview with the band which was a real let down. Instead there was another (and I know I go on about this a lot) completely pointless chat with someone not performing, just on to show us their new Greatest Hits collection.

Sadly, two of the best performers: Senegalese-American soul rapper Akon and Brazilian singer/songwriter and actor Seu Jorge were both pushed down the order. Akon's set suffered from over-produced vocals but Birthmark was a decent highlight. Likewise Seu Jorge was great, really embracing the spirit of show - at one point the entire ensemble was bopping along to Grace Jones. A wealth of musicians added percussion and backing vocals to the apt America Do Norte and Burguesinha. Also Geraint Watkins performed a couple of songs. Apparently Jools had been introduced to him after a Bob Dylan Radio 2 show. Champion was a wonderful slice of old time storytelling like a lighter Nick Cave.

A real surprise, forming almost the centrepiece of the show was a performance from Novice Theory (aka Geo Wyeth). One man/women with an accordion had the entire studio enthralled as About The Dream unfolded. The vocals in part were very Seth Lakeman (no bad thing) but at times the music was too fast. The key line is: "we had blood on our white hands". Given such a positive message, it it strange the show wasn't arranged for next week to coinside with next week's US elections. The bizarre 'drunken' ending saw Wyeth disappear into the darkness. Utterly captivating.

In a blatant attempt by the show to jump on the latest Bond bandwagon, David Arnold turned up for an interview. Again, nothing to do with the performances, but also not really plugging anything (except the film score), and it was a surprisingly good chat. He clearly understands the nature of scoring films and did not expect to do more Bond films after 'Tomorrow Never Dies'. This is now his fifth. He describes it as trying to scale Everest each time with history and responsibility to keep in mind. Also the famous signature tune is not really used in the Daniel Craig films. Arnold explains why: he is a very different Bond and every time the theme is used, you know he is safe and will win. It dissolves any kind of danger from the action. A victim of success perhaps? I suppose this was an example of a good 'pointless interview', even if it was so obvious.

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