Thursday, July 28, 2011

Peter Murphy's "Tale Of The Tongue;" Should The World Fail To Fall Apart's Anniversary

A stellar, yet strangely obscure Peter Murphy track has just been released on CD worldwide for the first time; however, it's just one jewel in a veritable diamond mine.

"Tale of the Tongue," for some reason, was only widely released as a 12" single in 1986.    With a hair-raising vocal performance soaring above a hard-charging sonic maelstrom, one would think, today, that it was one of the Dark Prince's biggest hits.  But alas, no.

Hopefully, it will get much more exposure as it has just been included in Cherry Red Records' anniversary packaging of Murphy's first solo album, Should The World Fail To Fall Apart (Oddly, "Tale" was only included in Polygram Canada's 1986 release, bumping "Canvas Beauty").  Though the album wasn't as popular, in the Peter Murphy catalog, as say, Deep or Love Hysteria, it is an important bridge between the singer's days in Bauhaus, his project with the late Mick Karn (Dalis Car), and later, more mainstream success... if the Goth icon has ever been "mainstream."

Twenty-five years later, Should The World Fail... remains a beautiful record that reflects an artist boldly taking steps in new directions without completely abandoning his past.  Besides a famous cover of Magazine's "The Light Pours Out Of Me" and the live staple, "Final Solution," it contains the aforementioned "Canvas Beauty," which has long been a sentimental favorite of mine.  Though we have never discussed the mystery of "Tale of the Tongue" in our interviews, Murphy did explain "Canvas Beauty" to me back in 2000

Murphy has just finished a spring-summer tour of the U.S. in support of his new album for Nettwerk, Ninth.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Antarctica, As Visualized By Vangelis

One of the most breathtaking films I've ever seen, 1983's Antarctica is a beautiful, sometimes harrowing speculation of what might have happened to a team of sled dogs immediately after they were abandoned in a South Pole storm.  The Japanese film is based on a real incident/adventure that occurred in 1958; the ill-fated expedition also inspired the Disney film, Eight Below — which I refuse to see.  Antarctica's a quiet classic, very spare on dialogue and heavy on first-rate cinematography as it follows the dogs' efforts to survive. 

"Quiet classic" may be a misnomer, as the soundtrack by Vangelis is as vivid and tone-setting as the camera work.  I'm not the biggest Vangelis fan, but this is a minor masterpiece — and as integral to this film as his previous work was for Blade Runner.  Chariots of Fire certainly made Vangelis white-hot for awhile; after Antarctica, he scored the hauntingly gorgeous music for the Hopkins-Gibson film, The Bounty.

While the Antarctica soundtrack is readily available on CD, inexplicably the movie has never been released on DVD outside of Japan and Hong Kong.  Hopefully it will make its way west soon.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Winnie The Pooh, Guardian of Childhood Innocence

The ingeniously cute poster art first attracted my attention... the gang floating in a frame-filled sea of honey.  Then Disney floated  Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know" through the trailer (below) to further pull heartstrings.  I didn't get to preview it, but according to Roger Ebert's review,  the new Winnie The Pooh movie delivers on the beauty - and nostalgia - promised in the ad campaign. I'll go see it with my wife; if only we could borrow a small child to share the film with. 

Winnie The Pooh draws from three original Milne short stories, and features all of the characters we began loving so long ago — altogether in the gentle, hand-animated style of the classic films.  The introduction of Craig Ferguson as Owl and John Cleese as the narrator certainly has potential.  I'll miss Sterling Holloway's and Sebastian Cabot's famously reassuring voices, but time marches on.

Thankfully, Pooh is still in his 100-acre wood, a tubby bear with a shirt a few sizes too small for his appetite... and a de facto caretaker of our childhood innocence.

- Steve Stav

Friday, July 8, 2011

Carrie Akre Sings Her Goodbyes

After so many years of saying hello from the stage, Carrie Akre sure knew how to say goodbye, as well.  With the help of some friends, last night's sendoff at the Crocodile was more than poignant, more than memorable... it was a great, great night of music.

Seattle's Princess of Rock (Ann Wilson will always be Queen) has taken a job in Minneapolis.  Her house is packed up, and presumably she's on the road this weekend.  Once you get past the eyebrow-raising fact that one of the greatest voices and songwriters in Northwest rock history has a day job (such is life), the idea of such a fixture, such a backbone being gone is a hard pill to swallow.

Last night made it a bit easier, and a bit harder, to wash that pill down.

Her musical cohorts, admirers and quasi-protegees came out in full force, of course.  Those on stage included Amy Stolzenbach, Sean Bates, Rachel Flotard, Mark Pickerel, the fabulous Friel brothers, Danny Newcomb... I lost count.

After Hammerbox and Goodness, Akre boldly launched a genre-crossing solo career that revealed the true, vast extent of her talent.  Last night's show seemed to not only remind of us of what we'll be missing, it reminded us of Akre's many facets: soulful singer-songwriter, duet balladeer, ass-kicking rocker.

The show began emotionally — Akre came out early to sing with one of her heir apparents, stunning opener Star Anna — and finished on a raucous, yet even more emotional note.  In between were amazing duets with Flotard, Jared Clifton, Matt Gervais... the Friels and Kim Virant came out to sing "Thank You For Being A Friend."   Tears were shed.  Then Goodness reunited, with Rick Friel added on bass.  The place went nuts for an indeterminable duration.  Akre sang her heart out, — as she always has — shed some more tears, signed some autographs, and then was gone.

I broke one of my rules and got an autograph, it seemed like the thing to do.  I hadn't seen Carrie in several years, and it's been a decade since my only interview with her.  But she remembered me immediately.  That's the kind of performer Akre is — thoughtful, funny, brilliant, generous.  We'll see Carrie Akre again in Seattle - on tour, on vacation, whatever.  But it is an end of an era.  Akre wasn't part of the  community's fabric, she was part of its stitching, a stitch that has flowed through two decades of music here. 

Much more could be written today, but last night was the perfect "Aloha," saying all that needed to be said.

- Steve Stav