Music I listened to on 9th July 2013

Harkive is a project that wants to find out how and why people listen to music – and how the devices, technologies, formats, services and time available combine to create a personal listening experience. To do this, Harkive asked music fans to document their listening habits on 9 July 2013 and publish the results online through blogs, photos, tweets and so on. Harkive plan to analyse the results and repeat the event each year to map how listening habits change over time. Harkive is run by mate Craig, and this intro was cribbed from Gavin so I didn’t have to write it.  

This was not going to be a typical day, I was on holiday in Croatia. So, instead of the DAB radio in the car and possibly Radio 6 in the office online…until Steve Lamacq comes on to bore with his insipid ‘text-ins’ (“Have you ever been late to a gig?”—”Here’s a good one from Dave from Derby…’I was once going to a gig by Slowdrive, and I was late.’…nice one Dave”) or Spotify (very rarely) or whatever I’ve got knocking around on CD or vinyl (more likely), it was just whatever music that other people played to me. 

I’m reading Electric Eden, a fantastic book by Rob Young about the way folk music has evolved in Britain over the last hundred years or so. But with none of the music it’s making me want to hear (The Watersons, Fairport, Vaughan Williams) on my iPad or phone and with no internet connection I’m mainly hearing the songs in my head. This now has me wondering just how much music we ‘listen’ to is purely in our minds. If I’m reminded of a track I love I usually feel like I’ve just listened to it. There’s also the half-formed singing we all do without thinking about it. My other half has been going “Quo Vardis” to the tune of Dino’s Volare! ever since we saw a yacht in the harbour of that name. I’ve been playing that over too, with my incorrect phonetic lyrics.

The first recorded music I actually recall hearing is folk of a kind, but not English. We dropped into a museum that was directly under our holiday flat, one that documented the history of a local type of boat—the batana. At the rear of this small museum we stood and listened to some beautiful sea shanties (you can hear a flavour on this video). We’d have found out more and bought some if there were any available, but the museum text was in Croatian and Italian (we got the jist, just) and the woman behind the counter remained on her mobile for the entire of the time we were trying to attract her attention.

La batana / Batana from Ekomuzej batana on Vimeo.

Later, walking down the high street I catch a whiff of a do-over of The Girl is Mine that expunges Macca for an characterless half rap (probably this piece of trash). We avoid this vile place, but end up in another bar that has speakers and no taste.

The next day we’re going on a trip to Venice, so I should have been using bar wifi to get maps and to discover a way to experience a city that isn’t squashed onto a vaporetto clicking furiously at the sights, hemmed in by people in Simpsons T-shirts.  But I don’t, I tweet #harkive and sip prosecco.

I ignore so successfully the booming background euro-house the place is playing that I couldn’t record it I tried.

Birmingham’s decline

The LSE’s Spatial Economics Research Centre has a very interesting historical insight on how Birmingham’s decline began, Booming Birmingham and the Need for Rebalancing. The LSE has dug up a long factual quote from Smith and Sutcliffe’s History of Birmingham, Vol. III: Birmingham, 1939-70 (Oxford University Press, 1974) showing how the 1945 Labour government actively decided to throttle Birmingham, after which the… “incoming Labour Government of 1964″ actively sought to stifle Birmingham’s vibrant services business success at the planning and policy level. A set of policies which, even before global de-industrialisation took a hand, was greatly aided by the local municipal “concrete everything” policy in the 1960s, and the bloody-minded 1970s trades union socialism that infested the city’s big industries. Sadly the book is out-of-print, and appears totally unavailable online in scanned form.

from D’log

David Beckham And Feeling Middle-Aged

For those amongst us in our early forties, it’s a disconcerting thought. We have reached an age at which there is a generation gap between us and adults younger than us. A forty-five year-old in 2013 may not feel middle-aged but there is no question that he is, and perhaps there are young adults who now view David Beckham in the same way as the young football supporter of the early 1960s may have regarded the dotage years of the career of Stanley Matthews at that time, as one of the last surviving relics of a bygone and musty age that will not be seen again. In some respects, though, it is tempting to regard Beckham as the end of an era. His may well have been the last generation that grew up believing that international football was somewhere near to the pinnacle of a professional footballer’s career, something to aspire towards rather than merely a pain in the backside which had the handy compensation of increasing the value of one’s endorsement contracts. It was almost touching to see him, into his late thirties, still eager to play and prove himself for the England national team or even the British Olympic team, and it’s difficult to imagine that, say, Wayne Rooney will share such enthusiasm for it ten years from now.

Before we get too tangled up with the notion of Beckham as some sort of arch-patriot or as some sort of defender of traditional values, though, it is worth considering the extent to which he was utterly atypical for a British professional footballer in the twenty-first century. When his time came at Manchester United, he left for Madrid rather than, say, London or Newcastle, and saw out the end of his career in Los Angeles and Paris, a sort of cosmopolitanism wholly at odds with the former team-mates from Old Trafford who never strayed that far from the comfort of the familiar that was Old Trafford and Alex Ferguson. His globe-trotting may not always have been spectacularly successful, and his move to Real Madrid in particular, coming as it did at the height of the club’s “Galacticos” era, which had something of the feel of the Weimar Republic about it, never quite came off, although he did win one Liga title there, to go with his two MLS Cup successes with LA Galaxy and, if we’re generous, considering the peripheral role he played there, a Ligue 1 medal, which came ten days after his thirty-eighth birthday. Along with six Premier League titles and a Champions League win with Manchester United, a career record of championship titles in three different countries, each with very different footballing cultures, is certainly worthy of note.

As a player, David Beckham the footballer was far from being a playboy footballer of any description. Prior to their grand falling out, Alex Ferguson frequently praised his dedication to working hard, and the fact that his playing career ended at the top, at the age of thirty-eight, is proof of the benefits of the work that he put in at the training ground. If he had limitations as a player and was capable of becoming anonymous in games when things weren’t going his way, he did as much as you could ask a professional footballer to do – he made the very best of what he had. Some would criticise him as “over-rated” (a word not only foisted upon on him, but also pretty meaningless as anything other than a soundbite or a short cut to actually having to explain your opinion on him), but while it would be difficult to build a case to argue that he was one of the greatest all-round players of his or any era, it is surely not overstatement to suggest that his right foot, both from crosses and from free-kicks, may well just about have been the best in the world for several years just before and after the turn of the century.

Then, of course, there is the small matter of the celebrity. It goes without saying that, while David Beckham was far from the first celebrity footballer (such claims have been made going back further than the aforementioned Stanley Matthews), his was a level of fame that eclipsed any that had preceded him. The modelling work, the footballer as clothes horse, the hair grooming products and the Spice Girl wife painted a picture of him, but to an extent this was a misleading one. This level of fame, however, led inevitably to a degree of vituperation thrown in his direction, most notably after his sending off for England against Argentina in St Etienne during the 1998 World Cup finals. Despite the fact that the “victim” of his kick, Diego Simeone, later admitting to trying to get Beckham sent off by overreacting to Beckham’s momentary rush of blood to the head, a moronic element, egged on by a tabloid press that we would describe similarly were it not for the fact that they knew exactly which buttons they were pushing,  hung effigies of him woth a noose around his neck outside pubs in London. He could have been forgiven leaving this country altogether that season. Instead, he ended the season providing the two corner kicks from which Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored to win the 1999 Champions League Final against Bayern Munich in Barcelona.

Perhaps it is impossible to get any reasonable sense of perspective on David Beckham as a professional footballer. The sideshow created a fog that was almost impenetrable, and the “brand” that surrounded him was most likely a reflection of the times during which he played rather than of the player or the person himself. We may never know how much of the branding was orchestrated by his PR People, and how much of it was genuine, and the result of this is that his personality is a blank sheet onto which anybody can project anything. A great player? Some might think so. A beautiful clothes horse who could hit a decent dead ball? Others would certainly to agree with that. For those of us of a certain age, though, his retirement marks another step towards the passing of an era, an era during which we were all considerably younger than we are now, and this may inform the nature of the eulogies that have been written about him over the last few days… including this one.

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from Twohundredpercent

The lazy guide to fitness

K bigpic

It might surprise you to find me blogging about exercise. But it is something I’ve been paying a bit more attention to recently, and I found this to be quite interesting – so I share it with you in case it’s interesting to you too.

I’m quite lazy, and so I look for shortcuts and efficiencies.

Don’t get me wrong – I like to do a lot, and I like to do that stuff as well as I possibly can – but I also like to do it with the least amount of effort and time spent. That way, I can do lots of other stuff too. Or just hang out. That’s fun too.

I’ve been trying to get a little healthier and fitter recently, but exercise requires time and effort – things I like to minimise. Also, gyms can be expensive, and I travel a lot – so really, what I need is a workout that takes very little time, uses no gym equipment at all, and does everything I need it to – i.e. keep me alive, well and feeling good – with energy to spare for other, more enjoyable stuff.

Lifehacker, the New York Times and the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal to the rescue. This interval routine takes just under 8 minutes, and “science” says it works. Essentially, you spend 30 seconds on each of the above exercises in this order, with 10 seconds rest in between each.

Now, I’m already doing the 10,000+ steps a day walking thing, as well as having at least one fresh fruit & vegetable juice per day whenever possible (and not the full-on, slightly scary ‘juice fast‘ that people seem so keen on) – but I thought I’d give this a try as well for 30 days just to see how I get on.

So far so good. It’s not easy – in fact, it’s pretty full-on – but it’s over quickly.

However – looking at the chart and setting timers is a pain. So I came up with a neat solution.

With Jake‘s help, I recorded myself introducing the exercises (“Next: push ups…”), indicating the halfway mark (“15 seconds…”) and counting down (“10… 5,4,3,2,1… and stop.”). That way, I can just listen to my iPod and do the exercises without having to continually look at the charts and a stopwatch.

Jake added a house track, which times in nicely so that (at 120bpm) the countdowns are in time with the beats. Works very well.

If you’d find it helpful, let me know if you’d like a copy of the mp3 and I’ll send it to you – with or without the music. Whatever works for you. Not everyone likes house music. I find it keeps me going and the repetitive beats take my mind off the unpleasantness of the task.

I can’t recommend the programme unreservedly, as I am no health scientist, and this is only day 2. But it’s worth a try. And it does seem to have been well researched by people who know far more about this stuff than I do.

from Andrew Dubber

Let's get that Pete Wylie song to number one eh B3TA?

*Edit - Oooh thanks for the FP :)

from B3ta Best of the Board

Surprise Africa

I was invited to Uganda today. I suspect somebody pulled out or became unavailable at the last minute, but as it turns out, I’ll be at Un-Convention 49: Doadoa, East African Performing Arts Market ’13 from the 6th to the 11th of May.

I’ve travelled a fair bit, but I’ve never been to Africa and I’m really looking forward to finally getting there. It’s kind of short notice, and completely out of the blue – but I’m going.

Of course, six days in Uganda is only going to give me a first little taste of that massive and diverse continent, but it’s a start – and more than anything, I’m really looking forward to discovering the music.

You think you’re having one sort of day, then all of a sudden, something comes along and you’re having another sort of day. Surprise.

from Andrew Dubber


from B3ta Best of the Board


from B3ta Best of the Board

ho hum.

Wow 1st Fp of 2013..ta!

from B3ta Best of the Board

Hey, Are You Blind?

I’m right here looking through the blinds, and suddenly I can’t see a thing!


Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: GIF of the Week, Kittens

from Cute Overload

Richard Nixon and Robocop

Richard Nixon and Robocop

from awesome people hanging out together


from GIF CAT =^_^=

The most interesting conversation ever captured at a recording session

On November 4th 1940 John Lomax and his wife Ruby were in Atlanta, Georgia, looking for folk musicians to record for the Library of Congress.

As they drove past the Pig and Whistle, a whites-only drive-in barbecue, Ruby saw an African American playing guitar and singing for the customers. Blind Willie McTell, who was dressed in the smart suit, cap, collar and tie in which he preferred to perform, was 42 at the time. The Lomaxes had been told to look out for McTell and they paid him a dollar to turn up the Fulton Hotel the following day with his guitar.

November 5th was election day in the United States but McTell came to the hotel room where Lomax had set up his equipment and for two hours played his songs and talked. Unlike Robert Johnson, who was so shy during his two recording sessions that he would only sing while facing the corner, McTell gives a performance which is so confident and polished it’s almost a lecture.

He plays spirituals, gambling songs, rags and songs about chasing women. Unlike the bluesmen of the Delta his articulation is clear, which means the lyrics are intelligible. His command of the twelve-string guitar and bottleneck allows him to break off lines and let the instrument do the talking, in a way that Jimi Hendrix would do years later. Many bluesmen are hard to listen to for long periods. You can listen to Blind Willie McTell all day long.

Between songs he addresses the Lomaxes as if they were a public meeting, telling them about what “the country people” used to do in “the old days” and how one particular song dates from the days when “the blues first started being original”. He recounts the name - and full addresses - of all the various record companies he has recorded for under different names during the 30s. He is clearly a sophisticated, worldly-wise, seasoned, even slightly pompous professional entertainer.

Lomax, who had discovered Leadbelly, knew the white audience preferred its blues musicians miserable and oppressed and so asks if he’s got any “complaining songs”. Willie refuses to play along. Listen.

Then again, we do get this. One man and a guitar, in a hotel room, in the middle of the afternoon.

from David Hepworth’s Notebook


from B3ta Best of the Board

tumblr, innit.

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