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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 9:49 pm
by NormanD
howard wrote:Perhaps Dury's problem was that he had to make a conscious effort to break away from Americanisms in his singing, because that's what he thought, politically, he should be doing.
Ian Dury himself said that he was advised by Charlie Gillett to stop singing in an American voice (back in the Kilburn & The High Road Days), and to use his own accent, so politics may not have entered into this. I'm sure Charlie can put us right on this?
howard also wrote:I just like to be surprised by music, it doesn't matter where it comes from. So just point me in the direction of some English music which surprises and I'll be a very happy man.
Try Bellowhead!

Norman

PS Ian A's last post beat mine by five minutes, but I thought I'd leave my suggestion in......

PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 10:29 pm
by Charlie
Normand wrote:Ian Dury himself said that he was advised by Charlie Gillett to stop singing in an American voice (back in the Kilburn & The High Road Days), and to use his own accent, so politics may not have entered into this. I'm sure Charlie can put us right on this?

It wasn't back in the days when my Oval Partner Gordon Nelki and I were managing Ian's group, Kilburn & the High Roads, but about four years later when Dave Robinson, the boss of Stiiff Records, played us some early demos of what was to become the album, New Boots and Panties. It wasn't me, but Gordon who asked 'why is he [Ian] sounding like Barry White?' Gordon's comment was relayed back to Ian and in the classic Chinese whispers manner, somewhere along the line it began to be attributed to me, and I have never been able to get it passed back to Gordon.

Ian had sung all the Kilburn & the High Roads songs in a London accent, which is why Gordon was struck by the fake Americanism of that early version of 'Wake Up'.

By the way (1): I don't understand Howard's assumption that there ws anything political about it. Ian had adopted the persona of an East End hard case, on and off stage, in his songs and in his normal conversation (if any conversation with ian could be said to be normal).

By the way (2): there's nothing posh about Ian A's accent. he's a West Country boy through and through. Go listen to his radio show at Mondomix.

posh spice

PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 11:56 pm
by ritchie
Buggar me, I might have had a bottle of red, two crates of broon, 15 cans of lager burra am still sober enough to kna that owt below Durham is 'posh'.....even bloody Stockton!

Ian, as you well know there are some very good 'traditional' singers from up here in the North East and some very good song writers too. I am looking forward to hearing that cd though.

I'm sure you've heard Bob Fox and Stu Luckley in the past and I would defy anyone not to be impressed with their talent. Hopefully they've inspired young local musicians to keep 'their roots' alive by looking to both the future and the past alive....but the stange thing is they were singing 'old traditional songs'.... So do you think maybe Alan Hull should have been writing his songs perhaps in local dialect, because I'm sure he was proud of his 'roots' and if he had would his songs maybe have been a little bit to 'twee'? or even to 'labour' the point should perhaps Sting should have 'stuck to his roots'....I'm not sure that a rose would have smelled as sweet ....most musicians realise that they have 'to move away' to be recognised so certainly the 'accent' has to be ditched. sadly music is riddled with 'class culture'.

I'm with Adam on this one with his comment about actors....the world is a stage....so go on my son....perform ....as Popeye once said " I am what I am" mind you I used to be 'pissed off' with the bloke who used to be in the 'likely lads' he was also in 'when the boat comes in' and 'the beiderbix affair' he always had a geordie accent but when you met him what a pompous twat he was...and he was born north of durham so he had no excuse ;-)

that bloody sun, makes me say things I would nt normally say....think I'll go and water the plants ...might even sing a couple of verses of 'fog on the tyne' to them....

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 1:52 am
by Tom McPhillips
The mention of Lonnie Donnegan was apposite - I remember at Prep school in about 1958 or 9 singing "Little White Bull" in our music lessons and thinking that we often forget how big a star Tommy Steel was in those early days - someone who broke the American soundalike mould almost as soon as it was invented - I'd bring up Robert Wyatt here too - his conversational style of songwriting, as if he was speaking and delivered totally in his own voice - that's something I treasure, and as much as I am not a promoter of "truth to materials" (I have a whole career in opposition to that dogma) Wyatt strikes me as brilliant simply because his work exactly represents who he is... Oh are we back to authenticity - damn!......

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 9:06 am
by Adam Blake
I love Robert Wyatt's work too - or at least his early work - but why do you assume that because he uses a cockney accent and sing-speaks his lyrics in a conversational manner that this means he is "authentic"? Original, truthful, funny, thought provoking and entertaining, certainly. But I suspect that he was assuming that persona. And why not?

"I won't say one more word, so instead I'll play drums..."

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 9:37 am
by howard male
Charlie wrote -

By the way (1): I don't understand Howard's assumption that there ws anything political about it. Ian had adopted the persona of an East End hard case, on and off stage, in his songs and in his normal conversation (if any conversation with ian could be said to be normal).


A point Norman also made. Sorry, I didn't make myself clear enough.

What I actually meant was political in the widest sense of the word in that making a conscious decision to not adopt the pop vernacular of the American accent, perhaps because you believe it to be naff or dishonest, is in a way is a political decision which might have been based on Dury's sense of himself as an individual in relation to the pressures around him to conform in order to be more commercially viable. Though as it turns out, that persona was artificial too, it's just that it was artificial in a way which was closer to home.

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 9:48 am
by howard male
PS

Ian A wrote (and so did Norman) -

The Bellowhead album due out soon should surprise you - produced by Ben Mandelson of this parish . . .


I hadn't forgotten a buzz on this forum about Bellowhead a while back, so when I saw they were playing at Womad I made a point of highlighting them in red on the handy timetable Alan posted here which I'll be taking with me. I will definitely try to catch them.

Perhaps we should start a separate topic where people can recommend bands who are playing, outside the obvious big names?

And yes, both Sting and Brian Ferry sound better than they've done in decades on the Rogues Gallery album

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 12:02 pm
by Tom McPhillips
judith wrote:I remember listening to my mother practice an aria, and asking her how she could sing in Italian when she didn’t speak it. She said not only could she sing in Italian, but she could sing without an accent (she had been told), but when she read the language aloud, she couldn’t. I asked her why and she said probably because she wasn’t in her head when she was singing and also, the songs were written in Italian and the sounds just flowed with the notes


I think Judith has hit on something very basic here.... I wonder if the choice to sing in "American" is as much functional as it is a desire to sound cool. Again going back to my childhood, I remember when Catholics went from using Latin to services in the "vernacular". Our parish priest made the comment that while one could hear every word when hymns were sung in Latin, singing in English yielded an undecipherable mush of sound.

The way that English is spoken in its original countries does perhaps not have a musical quality - received pronounciation in particular is very choppy - each word is spoken individually - no elision or effort to fit a word into the sound of the words that follow it, as happens in French for instance. Whereas english as spoken in the American South has much more flow, to the extent that as a way of speaking I believe it's actually growing in the US - it's very easy to settle into its easy rhythms and smooth cadences.

There are all kinds of reasons why American english has more flow, but one of the things that has struck me most since I've been here is that schools here encourage children stand up and speak in front of the class from a very early age - "show and tell" is deep in the American culture- Americans grow up much better able to produce a flow of verbalization as a result, whereas we umm and err our way through our speech.

So when it comes to singing, "american" might be an easier pattern of speech to fit music to, and hence becomes the prevalent sound of pop. I'm not discounting the power of wanting to sound cool and hip, I'm just pointing out why it might also "work" better than singing in one's own version of the language.

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 2:11 pm
by Charlie
Tom McPhillips wrote:The way that English is spoken in its original countries does perhaps not have a musical quality

Yes. The names of American cities and states always sound rhythmic and musical - Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama; Memphis, Atlanta, Birmingham (pronounced with the stress on 'ham').

Whereas it's harder to get anything moving out of Kent, Essex and Somerset, or Birmingham (pronounced the British way, with the stress on 'Birm'), Bristol or Canterbury.

Which is one of the reasons I was so impressed with Ian Dury, who managed to get rhythms from Fulham Broadway station and Upminister.

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 2:26 pm
by Tom McPhillips
Charlie wrote: The names of American cities and states always sound rhythmic and musical - Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama; Memphis, Atlanta, Birmingham (pronounced with the stress on 'ham').




Actually what's interesting in your examples is that Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama all have Native American roots, Memphis comes from Egypt, (maybe so-called as it parallels the Nile -- another big river with a similar delta), Atlanta comes from the name of a Greek goddess (named for the middle name (Atalanta) of the governer's daughter) and only Birmingham is an English name

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 5:12 pm
by Ian A.
Charlie wrote:it's harder to get anything moving out of Kent, Essex and Somerset, or Birmingham (pronounced the British way, with the stress on 'Birm'), Bristol or Canterbury.


You're clearly not a fan of the great Adge Cutler then (not the dreadful post-Adge Wurzels, but the real Hank Williams of the West Country, who held Sgt Pepper off No.1 in the Bristol album charts with his debut album). When The Common Market Comes To Stanton Drew or Pill, Pill, I Love Thee Still. Not to mention extolling the virtues of Nempnett Thrubwell. Why, a quick chorus of Thees Got'un Wur Thee Casn't Back'un 'Asn't? still brings a lump to the throat. Pure genius. Proper local music!

(Where are the ironicons when you need them on this board?)

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 5:33 pm
by howard male
Charlie wrote -

Yes. The names of American cities and states always sound rhythmic and musical. . .


But it's also the fact they sound more romantic, in that for most of us they just exist as atmospheric constructs in our minds; constructs made up of impressions gleaned from movies and books. Unfortunately the same can't be said of Bognor, Coventry, or Croydon - the banal reality of those places defies romanticisation - at least it does to us. . .

But perhaps it's worth noting that Winchester Cathedral by The New Vauderville Band was a number one hit in the States, so perhaps there were people in Memphis and Chicago who really got off on the idea of this wonderful place in Engerlaand with its amazing cathedral.

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 5:41 pm
by Tom McPhillips
Oh yes, and "London swings like a pendulum do!"

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 9:15 pm
by will vine
Yes Howard, a good topic. I think at this point what we need is a poorly thought out sweeping generalisation.........and I'm your man!
Your mention of place names, romantic in association or not, leads me to propose that Britain is not geographically or linguistically equipped to hold Rock'nRoll / Rock music, and that is why it invented pop /art rock.
Rock and Country (and for other reasons which I may get round to later, Jazz) require to inhabit a huge landscape for much of it to work........hence, 24 Hours from Tulsa, 6 Days on The Road, Route 66, The Promised Land, Big River, The Old Chisolm Trail, Midnight Special,..........the whole cowboy, truckstop, chain gang, easy rider thing. The music doesn't always deal in epic issues but you tend to be aware of an epic landscape and of identifiable regional differences.

In Britain around 1970 I imagine that Chas and Dave were in the pub mulling over the very same questions we're engaged on now namely, Can White men sing the blues? Can the british sing Rock'n Roll? They struck out on their own and anglicised Fats, Frogman Henry, and Jerry Lee. Very entertaining but ultimately doomed to failure, but, with their tales of fag rolling, tea drinking, and allotments, they did at least pave the way for Ian Dury and Madness whose punchier vignettes of english life were shaped from the local parlance.
British pop as written and performed by the first generation "Beat Groups"....The Beatles, Kinks, Small Faces, Who, etc relied heavily on these kind of quirky vignettes of post war britain and were sung very british......Eleanor Rigby, The Benefit of Mr Kite, Waterloo Sunset, Drivin', Dogs, Lazy Sunday. They were not part of any epic landscape, but suburban, low key dramas, at least one of which mentions Potters Bar. And so I think it has continued down the years with Pulp, Blur....er...er

I'm losing the plot a bit now, but to get back to singers aping americans, the only one I can think of who does it these days..... so badly, and yet so wonderfully inconsistently is Uncle Mick. Fortunately,The Human Riff though carries me through it all and I cannot help but be amused by it all.

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 9:39 pm
by Tom McPhillips
it's like everthing else - the place used to be bigger - seems like the Scots had a handle on it for a while - "Skye Boat song", "I'll take the High Road" and "the Lights of Aberdeen", and don't forget - "It's a long way to Tipperary"...maybe it's a Celtic thing - and that's why Country deals with big spaces so well...


That's a wonderful theory of British Pop music Will, great work!

It does help to not undertand most of what I listen to... I don't have to consider what brand of Spanish or Arabic I'm being subjected to - I suppose that diminishes context and understanding - but I'll get over it!