Archive for January, 2012

Words

Following Dickens

Following Dickens

2012 is a year of Dickens anniversaries — a major one for him, and what’s turned out to be quite a significant one for me. It’s his bicentenary, of course, but it will also be 30 years since I first read Bleak House. I know that because I wrote an [...]

by × January 29, 2012 × 0 comments

Music

Great Albums: Space is the Place

Great Albums: Space is the Place

Sun Ra came into my orbit twice on the same day last week, once on a poster on a character’s wall in the TV series Treme and then as a track in a podcast from the The Heliocentrics’ drummer Malcolm Catto. I believe these coincidences should be taken seriously, and [...]

by × January 27, 2012 × 0 comments

Music

Six of the best young opera singers 

Six of the best young opera singers 

First it was the policeman who seemed to get younger every year. Then it was the conductors. Now it’s the opera singers. Or perhaps it’s not that they are getting younger, but that we can spot them sooner. Special schemes to nurture them are busting out all over: just a [...]

by × January 27, 2012 × 0 comments

Spotify Sunday

How Radiohead improved my life

How Radiohead improved my life

I can recall the first time I heard a song by Radiohead as vividly as I remember my first kiss and cigarette. It was ‘Paranoid Android’ on a rainy May day in 1997. I was on the school bus, aged 12, fat and depressed, heading home to eat eight chocolate [...]

by × January 22, 2012 × 0 comments

Music

Great Albums: Setting Sons

Great Albums: Setting Sons

You probably don’t need me to tell you that the Jam’s All Mod Cons is a rock classic. It regularly features in lists of the 100 greatest LPs. But what you do need to know is that, for most diehard Jam fans, it is not the band’s finest album. For [...]

by × January 20, 2012 × 0 comments

Art

Art Attack

Art Attack

On December 29th, a painting by American artist Clyfford Still was subjected toan unusual assault in a Denver museum. The target, ‘1957-J-No. 2’, is a typical example of Still’s abstract expressionism, a blocky patchwork of flat colour and punchy brushwork. What motivated Carmen Tisch to tear it from the wall, [...]

by × January 19, 2012 × 0 comments

Screen

Great Scenes: Ali, bumaye!

Great Scenes: Ali, bumaye!

As a film critic, the two questions I put most effort into avoiding are ‘What is the best film ever made?’ and ‘What is your favourite film?’ Although “http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118147/”>When We Were Kings is one of the great sports documentaries, there is little chance that, were I ever forced to answer [...]

by × January 17, 2012 × 0 comments

Words

Billy Elliot vs The Iron Lady

Billy Elliot vs The Iron Lady

Talk about timing! There I was in New York last weekend for the final Broadway performance of the hugely successful Billy Elliot: The Musical, and just as Phyllida Lloyd’s Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady  was about to open in the city. From a musical that takes a dim view of [...]

by × January 13, 2012 × 0 comments

Music

Juking it up

Juking it up

When I visited my first juke joint at the age of 23, my life was changed forever. That probably sounds like hyperbole, but it isn’t. Like a lot of juke joints, Green’s Lounge in South Memphis was a funky, down-home club in a low-slung building on the wrong side of [...]

by × January 12, 2012 × 0 comments