musicology #387


Modernist #15

(Barbara Lewis – Hello Stranger)

Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, a pioneer typographer, photographer, and designer of the modern movement and a master at the Bauhaus in Weimar, may have come closest to defining the Modernist who in his opinion was;

“an idealist and a realist using the language of the poet and the businessman. He thinks in terms of need and function. He is able to analyze his problems, but his fantasy is boundless.”

“The basis of style is the appropriation and reorganisation by the subject of elements in the objective world which would otherwise determine and constrict him. The Mod/ernist combined previously disparate elements to create himself into a metaphor, the appropriateness of which was apparent only to themselves. Like the surrealists they underestimated the ability of the dominant culture to absorb the subversive image and sustain the impact of the anarchic imagination. The magical transformations of the commodities had been mysterious and were often invisible to the neutral observer and no amount of stylistic incantation could possibly effect the oppresive economic mode by which they had been produced”.

Today’s 1963 cut is another Mod/ernist classic but this time courtesy of female vocalist Barbara Lewis..BIG tune on the scene and one of themusicologist’s earliest musical memories. Ranking tune that never fails to hit the spot.

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18 thoughts on “musicology #387

  1. I’ve been off-topic for a couple of days navel-gazing but I’m back now….. and I return to find that along with such luminaries as Patrick Uden, Paolo Hewitt, Steve Barrow, and your good self there’s now none other than Moholy-Nagy of Weimar fame adding to my giddiness; my feeling of sinking under the weight of informed opinion apropos Modernist.

    “The Mod/ernist combined previously disparate elements to create himself into a metaphor, the appropriateness of which was apparent only to themselves.”

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    One small point. Why include music from 1962?

    Back to the music however. Barbara Lewis – Hallo Stranger. The Lyceum. Dream-Time. The penultimate slice of music before the lights went up and the dance floor cleared….. Class, pure class!

    The ultimate dream-time slice? Any takers?

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    1. T.Blue…you ask “why include music from 1962”? the full extent of which I will endeavour to debate on a 1962 theme someday but for now this list may go some way to explain the musical importance of the year.

      The Wah-WahTusi
      Up On The Roof
      Mama Didnt Lie
      Night Train
      I Idolize You
      When My Little Girl Is Smiling
      I’ll Try Something New
      You Beat Me To The Punch
      Lookin’ For A Love
      You Can Run But You Can’t Hide
      Stubborn Kind Of Fellow
      Anna
      Down In The Valley
      You Really Got A Hold On Me
      A HandFull Of Memories
      Beechwood 45789
      Fortune Teller
      You’ll Lose A Good Thing
      Playboy
      Stop The Music
      Twist & Shout
      What Good Am I Without You
      Do You Love Me

      and that’s just a selection of what’s In my 1962 45’s box without going through CD’s and of course the 45’s I don’t own..some of the above titles might not be familiar but I’m pretty sure sure the music would be.

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  2. brilliantly put observation, I particularly like ‘The magical transformation of the commodities had been mysterious and were often invisible to the neutral observer’….it certainly seemed that way to me in ’61/62 , only a couple of us in my school ‘felt’ it…and I’m sure that was the same all over London, the like minded souls stood out like a beacon to us .
    Hello Stranger is a marrow trembler of the highest order..never fails!……the b.side ‘Think a Little Sugar’ was also a much played tune of the time…

    Not in my opinion in the same class but good nevertheless ‘You’ve Lost that Lovin Feeling’ springs to mind as an ultimate dream-time slice.

    I remember Save the Last Dance for Me often being played when the lights went on to signal the end of the night by the deejay.

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    1. would have laid down ‘Think A Little Sugar’ if I hadn’t already thrown it down on themusicologist…in fact there’s quite a few that have been laid down already that would have been contenders for the Mod/ernist..

      I Know, (you don’t love me no more)
      Delilah
      I Can Make It If I Try
      Hi Heel Sneakers
      Fannie Mae
      Take Away
      Lookin’ For A Love
      Ooh Poo Pa Doo
      Raindrops
      I’m A Little Mixed Up
      Watch Your Step

      All pucker and almost all 100% Mod/ernist Classics.

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  3. “ultimate” was a bit misleading. What I really ment was can anybody remember the standard closing “dream-time” song (standard at the Lyceum at least)

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  4. agree with both that list of tunes – noiticeably ‘well-known’, no obscure stuff [that came later] – & ‘definition’ too, altho I never knew anything of Bauhaus at that time. But with hindsight, they certainly sussed out the ‘tone’ of modern life. I’ve been playing several of them – and one or two more – over the last few days, so the musicologist surely wields some power !!

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    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence Steve..I must confess, (not for the first time), that I have an insatiable appetite for what I now know to be called ‘Sociology’. Didn’t know that’s what it was until yesterday when I was looking into the possibility of taking/doing/starting a degree. In Authentic London ‘street style’ I left school as soon as the law allowed, (mentally I had left by the age of 14), without any qualifications in an effort to ‘thumb my nose’ at the Authorities. I’m not especially proud of doing that because the only person affected was me. I had spent 11 years being institutionalised and with hindsight should at least have ‘earnt’ something out of it rather than use it as an opportunity to show ‘them’ who I was.

      I now realise, (at the age of 40), with two kids of my own, (eldest well into secondary and youngest just about to go), that the Education system is designed that way and I was doing exactly what was expected of ‘people like me’. In no way am I bitter about it as I have, (and continue to), ‘live the life I love and love the life I live’ but after more than 20 years of being in one ‘occupation’, (self employed), and that coming to an end recently I have had a lot more time on my hands and have been investing that in my ‘education’. Don’t get me wrong I am an honours student as far as the ‘School Of Life’ is concerned and I am proud of what I have achieved and more importantly who I am but I’m finding that it don’t pay the bills !!

      So with that knowledge I have been considering my options, (The Project/Tribute Tees is who I am rather than what I do), and one of them is to gain a degree and Sociology looks good to me. I’ve digressed here Steve but, (at least from my perspective), it relates to your comment on Hindsight, The Bauhaus, the ‘tone’ of Modernism and the dialogue on this theme which for me has raised the issue of Mod/ernist in and of Society. The Mod/ernist leads and the Mods follow…and as far as my research has shown, based not only on what I read but also what I have experienced over my time spent on the ‘Edge’, this has been the case for many, many years.

      The old saying ‘Knowledge is Power’ has always worked for me and in this age of, (mis), Information my belief is that Communication of Knowledge, (music and social history), may lead to the sharing of Power

      I introduced myself to the Bauhaus as a teenager due to my previous occupation, (furniture and design), which is partly why I wanted to drop in a quote from such an illustrious ‘Modernist’ as Lazlo not to Intellectualize it but to offer an alternative definition.

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  5. Couldn’t agree with you more on “Mod/ernist in and of society”. In fact, your persistence (for want of a easier word) has made me question damn near all of my previous Mod “lets ‘ave a ff-ing laugh so long it lasts” memories.

    Thanks to that “persistence” I’ve woken up to the incredibly importance music played in the birth, growth, and (final) success of the World-Wide Civil Rights and female emancipation movements (to name but two!).

    I too have a mental list of the music and musicians which someday I’ll bend your ears with…. chuckle, chuckle.

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    1. only with hind sight and as an observer am I critiquing, (is that even a word ???), mod/ernist. I certainly didnt set out to break it down this or any other way. If I think back to my own ‘days’ on the tiles it was exactly the same as yours “let’s ‘ave it large for as long as we can”..a great philosophy as far as I’m concerned. there was nothing ‘intellectual’ about it, (thank the stars above), just youngbloods enjoying ourselves. always been the music that leads for me and always, (I say that today), will.

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  6. P.S. Last slice of the “dream-time” pie at the Lyceum? Bessie Banks – Go Now…. A winner every time!

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  7. …yes, it was all about the music. Who now remembers cuts like “Long Distance/Green Monkey”, by Garnell Cooper & the Kinfolks ?
    I only know it because I bought after hearing it
    somewhere ‘up west’ – probably the Flamingo, but it might’ve been another place. Had to order it – it was on ‘London-American’ – from the ‘Bandbox’ record shop at the top of Ilford Lane, the best shop around in my manor in those days. And not available on ‘cd’ either….even now, when it seems you can get everything else….

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  8. The name doesn’t ring a bell (Long Distance/Green Monkey) often I didn’t find out the name of the records that I heard, one I did and still sounds good to me was ‘Down Home Girl’ by Alvin Robinson its on the Red Bird label…the joy when one of your favorites is played by the deejay is bound to be something we all share!..

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  9. Glad you mentioned that one Countess, I think Down Home Girl is a killer. I nearly raised it in the Chris Kenner discussion. Looks great on that Red Bird Label too

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  10. ha ha – same for me, when musicologist mentioned about the ‘key’ the Kenner song is in, Alvin ‘Shine’ Robinson’s classic came to mind as another ‘inefinable’ N.O masterpiece in this category. Incidentally, New Orleans [pre-Katrina] was one place which fully lived up to my dreams of it – tourist-centred, sure, but so much more and music galore when I went there in 2003….guess it’ll never be ‘the same’ now.

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  11. Salut Steve, i didn’t appreciate it was as recent as 2003 that you were in NOLA. I may have been there too!

    August 14th 2005, was the last night I was in New Orleans. Katrina was just forming. I’d just got off a ship that was avoiding her.

    Twas also my 35th birthday and a tough choice had to be made, as the posters on the street told me Yellowman was playing live at the ‘house of the blues’. Across town was another gig by true crescent city residents ‘the wild magnolia’s’. Yellowman won the toss, as I wasn’t sure if the wild magnolia’s would have any of the original players from their 70’s 45’s, the mardi gras tribes being a community organic thing.

    Nae regrets, Yellowman didn’t let me down. He was king that night, strutting and running, up and down the length of the boards, fit and agile, like a man half his age.

    I also discovered a cool street that day ‘Frenchman street’, a bit more what one would be looking for and I suspected more used by New Orleaneans.

    I left on the 15th, called into a ship in Galveston Texas to do some work for a couple of days. Landed back in Edinburgh pretty much as Katrina hit.

    I’ve spent a lot of time in Louisiana and around 6 stop overs in NOLA. Its certainly a unique meeting of cultures and a unique part of the world, plus the backbone to a lot music I love.
    I’d like to get back and see how they are doing, the Spike Lee documentary on katrina was shocking.

    Thats it Musicologist…..thats yer next theme sorted. All this chatter of Ernie K Doe, Alvin Robinson, Chris Kenner

    Lay some Big Chief Professor Longhair on us

    Lets hear it for the Big Easy!

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    1. Young D
      New Orleans theme….thanks for the idea. the curse of themusicologist is that I feel like I have no control over it’s evolution which makes preparation impossible. For instance I don’t know what the next theme will be or even when it will start. my primary inspiration is musical but of course my personal circumstances inform how I’m feeling and then along comes the music to guide, comfort, soothe and communicate….which is why I ‘see’ it as a musical diary
      makes complete sense to me…hope it does to you?

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  12. That’s no “curse” my good man…. where I come from that’s called heavenly dynamics.

    Mind you, Sir Errol’s suggestion/request sounds goooood to me!!

    And d’ya know why?

    It wasn’t until you laid this romping Mod/ernist theme on us that I even knew what it was that I was “grooving” to.

    Back in the (first) day, there was always this one particular type of music, beat, or whatever it was, which grabbed me by the seat of my pants so to speak. But, with so much choice and variety and so little information I never stopped to ask why or what it was that got me – a very *particular tpye of dancer – onto the floor every time it kicked in.
    *particular…. a nicer way of saying “a bottle-case/ a bottle-job”…. chuckle, chuckle.

    I never knew it was the music of The Big Easy until it slowly unfolded before my very eyes and ears on themusicologist…. Cheers you’all.

    And now I’m on a mission!!!!

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