The Last Blonde
Last night was something of an Anthony Bourdaine affair, mainly in that we cooked and got simultaneously Hemingwayed while doing so. The food was…you know what, I have zero recollection. We ate. I think. The wine was effective? I distinctly recall someone bringing up this fucking song and the past was suddenly present. It might be kinda great again, particularly considering the exhaustion so easily inspired by the current political climate. He wrote it in 1999 but the record didn’t see release until 2002, which begs the question…what the hell were they doing? Also, vinyl is expensive! There is every possibility that things were predominantly running on CD by then and that there were never many actual, physical records out in the wilds. I don’t know. I can’t justify that, can I?
I may as well give up at this point. This is number 1006 of 2000 printed. It limited. Alasdair McLellan (he of ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ fame, Berlin 2002) is a fantastic portrait photographer and ‘Blondey 15-21’ follows the young, English skater over those formative years. While I don’t usually go in for what is technically fashion photography, there is a certain fragility in McLellan’s work and in that of Blondey himself. Shot round London, Rome & California, the focus and attention to depth of field are fantastic and the lines are every bit as clean and crisp as required. There is also an honesty in the text, courtesy of Jo-Ann Furniss and the book has a great deal of insight into the nature of fame and the progression of boy to man.
Blondey’s modelled for the likes of Burberry and the big fashion houses but that shouldn’t give you the impression that he’s just a pretty face. The guy can skate and has grown into being an artist in his own right over the past seven years or so. This physical tome was well assembled and it took me a while to realise that the dust jacket actually folded out into a faily incredible reversible poster, with each side at either end of the 15-21 y/o spectrum. If I had to pick a favourite shoot, it would be that penultimate one with his ma, in which Alasdair caught everything from protective, through familial humour, to vulnerable. Nab one while you can.
Okay, so it’s round two of the great contemporary record collection review of 2019, although this time I propose a different flavour for your palate. Josh T Pearson’s ‘Last Of The Country Gentlemen’ (Mute, 2011) has made itself a regular touchstone of mine. Josh is quite literally the son of a preacher man and his first solo record - following the tour de force that was Lift To Experience - is the saddest collection of neo spirituals / country / folk songs ever released by man, wonderfully produced and recorded in Berlin & Paris. They carved out the most particular space on each track, created by some truly stunning plate reverb and accompaniment from a line in really beautiful string arrangements. I’ve loved the way Pearson plays guitar from first blush but I struggle to pin down why exactly that is. I think it’s something of a cross between flamenco, folk and a listless country strum which, now that I think about it, makes perfect sense. It is perfectly adept at holding a melody yet equally capable of mumbling off into the desert eve.
The lyrics are sad because they’re funny and funny, in turn because they are sad, notable tracks including ’Woman When I’ve raised Hell’, ’Honeymoon’s Great, Wish You Were Her’ [that title], ’Country Dumb’, and ’Sorry With A Song’. I met him after a gig in Fitzrovia a few years back with She Of The Infernal Heart. Both on and off stage, he was about as funny and charming as you might expect and also very tall, which should perhaps also be expected for a Texan and someone who in any other life coulda woulda shoulda been a cowpoke. Somehow, we ended up wildly off our respective chops in Trisha’s basement, Soho until some ungodly hour. To this day, he is the only person I’ve even seen who carries a hat box with them so as to be able to switch out chapo depending on the mood and/or occasion. I’m not saying that I’m envious but I am.
I promised you more 35mm and I shall not be the one to let you down. You get: one relatively candid snap of The Lady S, devouring a book about cats in the park, The Angelic Sequel - featuring Mr Mercer himself - a couple of river snaps, including one reverse Drowning Docks option, taken on that recent excursion to The Grapes, and one late night tale because you’ve been good. I’m off to get my molars back ‘round the excellent ‘Blockbuster’ podcast that came evangelically recommended by Mr. Hardy. Set in the 1970s, it’s a six-part, immersive biopod [what now?] that tells the story of a young Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, two ambitious fiends who let the charge. It has much to do with Starwars and it has a wonderful way of compartmentalising the things about that thing that I am obsessed with, which is exactly what I needed in a week that has, thus far, been much.
Won’t you be my swemp theeng?
JD - TACOCAT