Moments in time
ďItís funny the things you get worked up about ÖĒ
In a break with tradition, weíre going to be traditional and do some lists. You canít open a magazine or turn on the radio without coming across a round-up of the year. I, however, have yet to see a list that corresponds to mine. My own list of the yearís best records would have to include Electrelane, Estelle, Junior Boys, Jill Scott, Joanna Newsom, Teena Marie, Weird War, Terrestre (aka Murcof), Bell, DJ/Rupture, Hu Vibrational, A Man Called Adam, and probably some others I have forgotten about and have yet to hear.

The other things plastered all over the papers are endless lists of last minute Christmas presents and stocking fillers. Well, all the records listed above fall into that category. Myself, I am just catching up on the DVDs that are out there. So hereís five to treat yourself to:

It was just over a year ago that I had the privilege of seeing Kevin Rowland return so triumphantly to the London stage. Moments from that Dexys show at the Royal Festival Hall have stayed with me ever since. What I had not realised was that a DVD had been issued of the Liverpool Royal Court Theatre show from the same tour. It is an essential artefact to have. It represents a triumph of human nature, a magnificently entertaining and uplifting performance, a challenge to the humdrum, and the closest thing many of us will ever come to a religious experience.

Kevin is also featured on the salvaged Punk In London film, which is fairly readily available. The DVD is essential for the opportunity it provides to see the 1978 Subway Sect in performance. The footage frustratingly focuses fleetingly on the West Coast Mainline at Camden when the Sect are clanging away in the background, which is more ironic than some of you will realise. But what we see is enough to launch a million dreams and schemes. We get the whole of 'Ambition' performed at the immortal Rehearsal Rehearsals with the group looking like four little urchins Ö oh god just go and buy it please. You get the interview where Vic Godard talks about using words in pop songs that would not ordinarily be used in a pop song and how he wrote an essay and distilled the words down into a song, and Rob just stands there looking beautiful and so enigmatic and inscrutable. How that sequence breaks my heart when I think of possibilities passed.

And talking about how things change your life, a DVD of The Complete Jam has that clip of Paul performing 'All Around The World' on Marc Bolanís TV show. The insider punk historians will never understand how that clip changed so many peopleís lives. It was Punk Rock on kidís TV and I was 13, and as John Sebastian would say musically proverbially knee high. I became a giant overnight. Even better the collection has the promotional film for 'Funeral Pyre', the great lost Weller moment and the one to use to argue the case for The Jamís incendiary and intense greatness being as out there as the most dangerous songs of Sonic Youth. The film for 'Funeral Pyre' is something I probably havenít seen for 20 years but it still scares me with its ferocity and somehow it seems a song for now. Also included here is the performance of 'When Youíre Young' from that Something Elseshow in 1979 which also featured Joy Division doing 'Sheís Lost Contro'l and 'Transmission' if I remember rightly. How I would love to see those performances again? Are there any Joy Division DVDs out there?

And to suit the festive mood, how about RockíníRoll High School? The perfect pop film! The Ramones, Roger Corman, Riff Randell. The 3Rs add up to absolute bliss. Itís dumb, itís fun, itís innocent, and as odd as hell. The footage of the Ramones live will bring tears to your eyes, and the fantasy sequence will have you howling at the moon and doubled-up laughing. The Ramones were very special, and this is the perfect context to enjoy them.

The other DVD I have to mention is the Galaxie 500 ≠ 1987-1991 ≠ Donít Let Our Youth Go To Waste set which is absolutely gorgeous. I love the group so much, and they just sound better all the time. The DVDs are simple and enormously effective and as cool as you could wish for. Again the group get enigmatically lost in their performances, building up these lovely fragile walls and wells of emotion and melody. Naomiís earrings are exquisite like Edie. And, oh hell, itís worth buying the DVD for Naomiís earrings. Sorry I know that sounds weird, but if you have a copy of On Fire to hand youíll see a suggestion of what I mean. The DVDs are so lovely because it always seemed wrong to experience Galaxie 500ís vulnerable vignettes in a rockíníroll venue. And here they are lubricating your living room like a Godard movie with Anna Karina as Naomi.

I could go on, and maybe must mention Blondie and the treat of watching them on film when your loved one vetoes the idea of a life-size Debbie Harry screen print on your office wall. Anyway Iím off to watch Lost In Translation and the great Bill Murray. But donít forget his earlier performance with the godlike Joanne Whalley in The Man Who Knew Too Little, which is just the funniest thing ever. And god knows we need a laugh in these dark days!

© 2004 John Carney

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