DMed’s Video of the Week: Hard-Fi, “Suburban Knights”

From our “You heard it here first” section to “You’ll hear this everywhere you go for the next three months, like it or not,” Hard-Fi’s insanely Clash-y (but in such a good way) leadoff single for their upcoming album, Once upon a Time in the West. Hot damn, I love these guys.

“Jailbreak” a la Sniff The Tip

Howdy, everyone. I’ve been busy making up a few new videos under the Sniff The Tip banner, but I quite like this one the most, so I figured I’d share it here as well. It’s the classic AC/DC tune “Jailbreak” married to a shitload of groovy comic book art. Enjoy.

Video Vault – Plastic Operator

“Folder” from the fantastic Different Places album.

Man-about-MySpace: Fats Hammond

One of New England’s best kept music secrets is Fats Hammond, a group featuring two Hammond B-3 organs bashing out some of the funkiest soul-jazz on the planet.

Before you go thinking for a second that Fats Hammond, in their standing Tuesday night gig at the Dodge Street Grill in Salem, Mass., puts on some sort of high-faluttin’ academic jazz clinic, go listen to their tracks uploaded to The Space: It’s pure soul grease, laden with more fat than the pub’s fish & chips. Dirtier than the floor around the beer stand behind home plate at Fenway Pahhhk.

Sometimes, we’ve been told, the drummer from the Trey Anastasio (Phish) solo band knocks off early–he works behind the bar at Dodge Street–and sits in with the band, and the jams go deep into Wednesday morning.

Ken Clark

Fats Hammond ringleader Ken Clark (back to camera) wheels in his 400lb B-3 every Tuesday
and jams with another B-3 playa and the band.

Chris Heath: a music writer you should get to know.

If you’re familiar with music journalist Chris Heath, it’s probable that you’re an Anglophile of the highest order. After all, Heath is a Brit whose subjects tend more often than not to be artists with popularity that doesn’t necessarily translate to American audiences; they’re also artists at whom your traditional rock and roll fans often tend to turn up their noses. Nonetheless, I say to you that if you’re a music fan, period, and you’re looking for a new book to keep you occupied, you really need to check these tomes out, as they offer extremely funny and highly fascinating insights into the world of popular music:

Pet Shop Boys, Literally

C’mon, don’t tune out on me now. I assure you, it doesn’t matter one bit whether you like or even care the slightest bit about the Pet Shop Boys. It’s a great read either way, focusing on how the duo prepare and embark upon a tour of Hong Kong, Japan, and Great Britain, and the backstage and behind-the-scenes look at the pair provide a no-holds-barred, fly-on-the-wall examination of what it’s like to maintain a chart career of such considerable longevity. One bit in the book which has always stuck with me is when Chris Lowe – he’s the one who usually just sits sullenly behind the keyboards while singer Neil Tennant takes the spotlight – discusses how he likes certain tiny bits of songs…like, for instance, the “uh-uh-oh” bit in Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up,” or the part in Kylie Minogue’s “I Should Be So Lucky,” where she sings, “I should be so lucky / Lucky, lucky, lucky.” As Lowe says, “If that’s banal, it’s a strength. It’s just a mark of pure genius.”

Pet Shop Boys versus America

Heath’s relationship with Tennant and Lowe proved so successful that he wrote a sequel, focusing on the band’s subsequent tour of the U.S., where, as I implied earlier, their profile is nothing compared to what it is elsewhere. (Ask people about the band in the States, and you can expect an instant reference to 1985′s “West End Girls.”) You may or may not enjoy this one as much, depending on how thin your skin is when it comes to patriotic matters, but, again, it’s imminently readable.

Feel

It is possibly not coincidental that the subject of Heath’s next book, Robbie Williams, had worked with Tennant on the song, “No Regrets” (which appeared on Williams’ 1998 album, I’ve Been Expecting You). The resulting book is, as it happens, arguably better than the two Pet Shop Boys books, providing a look at a very complicated individual who leapt from teen stardom as a member of Take That into a solo career which has taken him around the world and back…but never to success in the USA. There’s a painful but true observation by Heath when Williams is preparing to perform a promotional gig for a radio station in America, where he indicates that this same set of songs would be performed by Williams for 375,000 people later in the summer…but, today, he’s playing for less than 20. (As it happens, his enthusiasm level is approximately the same for both, which is to say that it’s through the roof no matter how many people he’s playing for.)

Anyway, as I say, you’re probably skeptical, and you’ve got every right to be, but I swear to you: if you take the risk and make the purchase, you will enjoy these books.

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