Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Knackered but Happy

Three days on from my last post and I'm still working like my life depended on it and not just the mortgage. In the past five days I've completed 16 illustrations, written a 2000 word feature, created half of a very special pub quiz ... and still held down a full-time job. Bed time has been somewhere around 1am and I've been up and out of the door by 6.30am every morning. But I'm nearly there ... and I can always finish some of the writing on the flight to San Diego next week.

But it's not been all doom and gloom. Far from it. I'm buzzing with creative energy and I'm loving the work. Plus, tomorrow there's the press screening of Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. And Jim Moray's new album, Low Culture, came out on Monday.

I can't praise this album highly enough. I've been a huge fan of Mr Moray since his very first EP and he just gets better and better. And his live performances are nothing short of brilliant. Sadly, he's so non-mainstream that we have to wait a while between albums as funding is always tight. But, as I say, they're always worth the wait.

Low Culture features his usual extraordinary updating of traditional British folk songs. So we have twinkling guitars on Valentine, African thumb pianos on Leaving Australia and bagpipes on Rufford Park Poachers. To my delight, he reverses his usual formula by covering a modern song - XTC 's All you Pretty Girls* - and turning it into a traditional-sounding folk tune with a brass accompaniment reminiscent of Bellowhead and a pub singer chorus. Most extraordinary of all is his drum and bass version of the classic Lucy Wan, in which his vocals are set off by the rapping of MC Bubbz. I imagine that the old guard of English Folk Music will be up in arms. Martin Carthy has probably issued a fatwah. But I love it. It's the sheer audacity of the man in taking these ancient songs and daring to make them more accessible to a new audience that's so damned brilliant. I urge you to give his stuff a listen. Go on, treat yourself. And you'll be helping to fund the next album. Oh, and watch (or listen) for the hidden track at the very end of the album. It's one of Jim's own songs, a witty and clever little song about the downfall of a once great man. I don't know what it's called but the final line is 'Adam Ant is unwell ...'

I've also been loving Slinkachu's excellent Little People in the City blog; tiny hand-painted figures dropped into real urban environments like these:

There is a book of his work coming out in October. You can order it here. I've ordered mine.

* I must get around to writing a post about XTC - my favourite band ever. Remind me sometime.


willow said...

This sounds like an album that I might actually like. Thanks for the suggestion. The "Little People" are kinda the deer.

You are on a roll...smokin'!!

Janet said...

You strike me as the kind of guy whose recommendations would be interesting to me, too.

I've already ~wishlisted~ the book - as well as yours - and I'll check out Jim Moray as well.

May I be the first to remind you to write about XTC, please? I'm trying very hard to keep up my music blog (Auditory Cortex), but somehow time gets away from me. I have too many things to say about lots of music, but my fingers just won't type that fast!


Me said...

"Making Plans For Nigel," and "Senses Working Overtime," big hits on my best track lists!

Stevyn Colgan said...

Willow - I hope you can get it over there. And he has two previou salbums, 'Sweet England' and the eponymous 'Jim Moray'.

Janet - You're very kind. And thanks for the reminder! XTC - best band ever ...

Me - Oh yes. Although, as is often the case, the popular singles are just the tip of the iceberg. My top songs must be 'King for a day', 'The Mayor of Simpleton', 'Easter Theatre' and 'That's really super Supergirl'. Wonderful stuff.