It’s summer, and as the snow finally melts, it’s time for outdoor music festivals, and a touch of spring cleaning.
On the cork board in my home office / CD landfill site: festival lanyards, badges, and a couple of hand-written setlists from the ’90s (which suggests the tidying is a far from regular event).
Coincidentally, a friend who writes for Music Radar pointed me towards a piece: “Ten items from rock history that any musician would trade their best kidney/first born/soul for”.
Among them: Kraftwerk’s vocoder, which created the Cher-with-a-cold robot voice on ‘Autobahn’, but dating back to 1973 (electricity had barely been invented then).
Another use for your loose change (if you’re George Michael) is John Lennon’s piano – no, not the white grand in the ‘Imagine’ video, but in fact the one he wrote the song on. That was snapped up by the former Wham! singer for a cool £1.5m (maybe he’d not completed his, er, ‘therapy’ at that point).
A Led Zep drum kit went for $161,060, while Eric Clapton auctioned his own Fender Stratocaster for just under half-a-million dollars to fund a rehab
clinic. And the ultimate rock relic might be the recently-sold former home of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, set to become a museum.
Microsoft founder Paul Allen meanwhile paid close on $2m and then
donated Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock Strat to a Seattle museum. That’s not the one he famously set alight, at Monterey. But therein lies a tale – Hendrix owned more than 20 electric guitars, many of which caught fire at some point.The actual damaged version, subtly switched offstage like a Britain’s Got Talent collie, was eventually sold by manager James ‘Tappy’ Wright, to help fund his retirement in Florida.
Which got me thinking – what I could flog for my old age? Sadly, not much, which is why you are reading this instead of a better-written piece with ‘Stuart is away’ at the end. Faded t-shirts, programmes, and scratched singles by Spare Snare, Kasino and Aereogramme are unlikely to fund that condo on Palm Beach. The rarest item in our household is probably an autographed Queen album, and even that is marked down owing to Freddie having signed his name in fading felt tip.
Prices are of course governed by what people will pay rather than the amounts you see being asked, and often roundly ignored – there’s a Nirvana picture disc on eBay for a crazy $10K. Mind you, it’s been sitting at that price for the past 12 weeks, so…
The most interesting item I’ve gathered came when interviewing a band called Coldplay. Perhaps you’ve heard of them, though at the time they had one indie single to their name and were doing their first interview in Scotland. Explaining over tea and biscuits that my wife had the flu and would be unable to get to the gig, a sympathetic Chris Martin offered me a mysterious purple capsule, which he claimed was a vitamin tablet. Sadly, that’s lost, thus never making it on to eBay when the band became proper world-conqueringly famous, or being analysed under laboratory conditions.
So the moral of this story is if, you’re offered anything by a rock star, just say ‘Yes’, and put it somewhere safe.
And preferably fireproof.
Roy’s Iron DNA
Whether it is ‘the new dawn for album releases’ or just a bit of a gimmick, this new long-player from the Borders-based collective is, interesting to say the least. Coming in the form of a free tabloid newspaper – cutting edge or what! – each page is scannable via smartphone app which then kicks off an individual video for each tune.
Fortunately, the music is also worth writing about. Beat-driven and eminently danceable, the foot-tapping but oh-so-slightly-dark sounds evoke thoughts of the Beta Band or even Happy Mondays.
Pick of the ten tracks here is ‘Question Marks’, all spindly guitar lines and motorik beats, which contrasts with closer ‘Don’t Give Up’, a Hot Chip-style dance-floor filler. Believe the hype if you wish, but first, listen without prejudice.
This review originally appeared in the Burnley Express / Lancashire Evening Post