Notes Tagged ‘The Beatles’

Contributing Writer

May 6th, 2017

A musician’s musician publication palatable for the masses, Chicago’s ALARM press started as a zine, grew to a nationally circulated magazine and book publisher, honing in on in-depth interviews of artists consistently pushing boundaries.

Brought on to tackle an interview with the infamous hater of The Beatles and 100-instrument jazz genius, Dr. Lloyd Miller, I was then poached to contribute to an ambitious book project dubbed, Chromatic, tracing the intersection of independent musicians exploring color in unorthodox ways.



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Pornhub Erects Times Square Billboard, Sullies John Lennon’s Most Famous Lyric

October 9th, 2014

Pornhub_LEAD

Pornhub is making a serious push to be king of the NSFW intranets, first with the launch of a record label and theme-song contest – yes, enterprising bands, you can be the voice of the world’s ‘Number One fee porn site’, just like Coolio – and now with a $100,000 advertising stunt in Times Square, that essentially turns John Lennon‘s most simply famous beautiful Beatles lyric “All You Need is Love” into a euphemism for going Hans Solo on Darth Vader’s head.

Of course the 54’x48′ billboard was taken down in a matter of hours, the The Guardian reporting that it had something to do with The Doubletree Hilton voicing some offensive agenda, on which the ad-space share’s a New York City block with – or you know, copyright armies – but not before the Pornhub peoples hired the damn Gotham Rock Opera to sing a rendition of “All You Need is Hand” in ceremonious Tuesday (October 7) morning glory, changing Lennon’s utopian lyrics to such lines as “nothing better to do when you’re alone” and “nothing eases the pain, but you can know it just the same if it’s not sleazy.”

All of this was created by Nuri Gulver of Istanbul, who won a contest – Pornhub likes contests – for a creative director roll, via a call for the most genius non-pornagraphic ad push, at the quickly monopolizing porn conglomerate, Gulver explaining in his submission campaign, “No one can stand in this web site without using their hands. At least they need them to access the site.” Which is pretty much the most brilliant Istanbul-English double-entrendre we’ve ever seen.

Despite this, coincidentally, or very, very purposefully, it would be Lennon’s 74th birthday today. And though we all know the man fancied himself a dreamer, and had some serious love for the world and New York City, let’s just clear the Pornhub air here and give the mic back to the Beatle on the real business of love and needs:

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Lloyd Miller & The Heliocentrics: Divergent East/West Skill Sets

September 2nd, 2010

Dr. Lloyd Miller, a musical legend known for his mastery of more than 100 instruments, is quick to hoist his flag in the rock-is-the-devil’s-music camp. Framing his mid-20th Century retreat into Eastern studies around The Beatles, he says, “I told everyone they were horrible. Their tunes were all backwards and stupid. And they were idiots. And they were evil. And everybody hated me for thinking that. So I stopped talking about it and went away and became a hermit.”

And a hermit he remained, throughout most his career. After many successful years playing with jazz veterans like Don Ellis and Eddie Harris in European locales such as Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden, and Germany, Miller moved back to the USA to pursue an education. This journey culminated in his quest for a doctorate in ethnomusicology from the University of Utah.

Winning a grant to study in Tehran, Miller quickly assimilated, even hosting a popular jazz show on Iranian television, in which he went by the name Kurosh Ali Khan. Around that time, Miller gained long-overdue recognition when BBC radio personality Giles Peterson plugged an old copy of Miller’s 1968 meditation in Middle Eastern and Persian sounds, Oriental Jazz. It was a peek through the keyhole into a lifetime of teachings, production work, and progressive, exciting jazz music.

Making up the other half of Miller’s latest collaboration is The Heliocentrics. Following the UK group’s 2009 album with Ethio-jazz legend Mulatu Astatke, it linked up with Miller through its label, Jazzman Records. At first glance, the pairing seems to make sense: The Heliocentrics’ jazz-funk fusion and past collaborative experience with Miller’s free-flowing, virtuosic, Eastern-influenced style. And though the material is solid, the two sides never seem to click.

That’s not to say that The Heliocentrics are bad musicians, or that the record is a total flop. “They learned fast,” Miller says, “but they forgot slowly. In other words, they could pick up stuff and do it. But they couldn’t get rid of years and years of playing funk, punk, hip hop, slop, rock — whatever it was — and come into a new room and close the door. And I don’t know if they ever will.”

Miller expresses disappointment in the collaboration for the self-titled album (released in August on Strut), suggesting that it never moved beyond simple gimmickry. Working with the “cockney garage-band rockers,” however, spawned a number of humorous anecdotes, such as the moment during recording when bassist Jake Ferguson fumbled with a walking bass line for the first time in his life. Miller narrates Ferguson in slacker parody, “‘Oh, man. You scared me with that, man.’” He then asks rhetorically, “That’s the first time? Walking bass is what jazz is all about. That’s all there is.”

Despite Miller’s feeling that he was something of a “cymbal-clapping monkey,” there are plenty of symbiotic, propulsive moments between rock and jazz, as with the opening track “Electricone.” Ferguson helps spearhead the tune with a strong, percussive kick start, leading into the buzz of a clarinet and a minimal wash of woodwinds and piano. Cymbal patterns flutter, as fluently as anything from Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue.

“Salendro” is perhaps the best example of seamless East and West fusion, with its Indonesian pentatonic scaling and agile vibraphone tiptoeing punctuated with a handful of drum kicks. In another well-executed convergence, “Sunda Sunset,” a woodsy sweep is plucked across the strings of the shawm (a Chinese harp), kissed with Miller’s signature clarinet fills like a Himalayan sojourn.

Though Miller’s exasperation and ultimate dissatisfaction threatens to cast a negative pall over the music, the talent of the contributing musicians wins out. Despite what either side thinks, and even though the record doesn’t quite hit all the right notes, Lloyd Miller & The Heliocentrics is a fruitful exercise in eccentric pairing.

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