What happens when you mix what is - arguably - the world's most interesting record company, with an anarchist manic-depressive rock music historian polymath, and a method of dissemination which means that a daily rock-music magazine can be almost instantaneous?

Most of this blog is related in some way to the music, books and films produced by Gonzo Multimedia, but the editor has a grasshopper mind and so also writes about all sorts of cultural issues which interest him, and which he hopes will interest you as well.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

MICHAEL DES BARRES: Carnaby Street - Song by Song (Part Three)

The other day we started a new feature here on the Gonzo Daily. It is called 'Song by Song', and it does exactly what it says on the tin. Basically I go through an album song by song, and then pass my notes on to the artist who made the album in the first place, and see what they have to say. And now its time to look at what I think will be one of the most important new albums of 2012 - Carnaby Street by Michael Des Barres.

But before we start, check out

8. Hot and Sticky

“I've spent a lot of time in Texas in the last few years. I love its big skies and big personality. Coming from England where we played Cowboys and Indians it always had a cinematic allure. This is another sexy, humid song that embodies the lazy sensuality of the Lone Star State”.

I agree. I like Texas, and have spent quite a lot of time there myself in the last nine years. This is, just as he says a sexy humid song with the Lone Star State writ large upon it. However, what he neglects to mention is the fact that this song sports some of the most elegantly brutal guitar playing on the whole album.

I have mentioned the guitar and keyboards quite a lot in this piece, but here I think I should mention the peerless rhythm section which comes into its own particularly during the breakdown of this song. It goes down to bass and drums for a few seconds again and again, as Michael keens joyously above them.


9. From Cloud 9 to Heartache

“We've all had relationships with unpredictable partners who drove us crazy. This is my version. An homage to bi-polar love!”

But this is even more joyous, with a lovely polyrhythmic rhythm that keeps on threatening to turn into reggae, but never quite gets there. As someone who is bipolar myself, and has had his fair share of unpredictable partners. I take this one particularly to heart.

The organ playing is particularly spectacular here, with the keyboards going off at several highly entertaining tangents. If you don’t want to dance during this song you really are either deaf or soul-less.

10. My Baby Saved My Ass

“I return to the notion that love conquers all. Without the love of a good woman I would be a footnote in this glorious world. Love has given me the opportunity to play music that means something to me and, hopefully, to you...”

This is where things really begin to get weird. Like ‘Painkiller’ it is a hymn to the redemptive qualities of love, and – one suspects – are written to the same person, but whether they are or not it doesn’t really matter.

It is another fantastic rocker with a Stonesy, slidey guitar riff to die for. Cheekily Michael sounds like a naughty schoolboy shouting the title out, knowing that one doesn’t really shout out the word “Arse” in polite society. The thuggish drums, bring the song down to a football terrace stomp, and thunder to a triumphant conclusion.

However, it doesn’t sound like the closing number of the album. It sounds like the opener. There is only one conclusion that I can draw. This album is like a circle and a circle, unlike Carnaby Street, W1, has no end.

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is that. I spend my life pretty well equidistant between writing about animals and writing about music. Both subjects continue to move me as much as they have done for the past half century of my peculiar life. However, once in a while a subject comes along that is all encompassing; something which seriously threatens to take over one's life - and this album is one of those things. It is released next tuesday. Go out and buy it. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.



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