CASBAH RECORDS

Counter Culture : Part 5

Welcome everybody, we're back again, this time with a spring in the step. The blossom is on the trees, the sun is peeking through the clouds and excitement in is in the air. This year's record store day is on the horizon. Saturday April the 20th is the date for your diaries. As ever we'll be throwing ourselves into the event with a energetic enthusiasm, which only the mighty of spirit can hope to match! Hopefully, this time around we'll have some live music to look forward to and a competition with prizes to keep you all interested. After all though the wheels of commerce need to keep turning it's not all about cash, (was it me who said that?) It's also about the chance to celebrate the fact that record shops are very much alive and kicking and you the public enjoy using them. So we hope to see you all in April for a day of fun, frivolity and rocking of the Casbah!

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As soon as the V&A announced plans for a major Bowie exhibition last year the excitement level at casbah HQ has been steadily building, then out of the blue came the news that the Jean Genie was about to leave the bottle and release a new album. It's been a long time coming but suddenly Bowie fans have their cup full to the brim and frothing over with joy and anticipation!

A classic video. Musically and sartorially. Those stripey socks and that bomber jacket are the business! Come on, "let yourself go" you know i'm right!

First to the Victoria and Albert it'self . Let's face it dudes west London is cool. That's coming from a South-Londoner born and bred! Here's a few reasons why; The kings Road, the Who, Dracula AD72, Jerry Cornelius lives there,(more of him another time) Portobello Road, the Clash! On top of that you have the magnificence that is the Albert Hall and the V&A. Two of my favourite buildings in London. I especially like it when both of these venues get involved in the world of pop culture. The mixture of quality and refinement always adds a certain something to the proceedings . Check out Hendrix and Cream at the Albert Hall and all those sixties rock fans not really knowing whether to freak-out or not.

The V&A always does things with a bit of class. I admit I don't go as often as I might, well I mean when you've seen one etruscan vase you've seen them all really! But rest assured I shall be acquiring a ticket for the bowie extavaganza very soon. Some of the costumes, hand written lyrics and portraits look fascinating. I can't wait to immerse myself in all things of a ziggy nature. Here are some images from the exhibition to whet your appetite.

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I for one have always held Bowie's last album, 'Reality' in high regard. But way back in 2004/5 I think there was a general feeling that yeah, this is fine but what's the next one going to be like,(excuse the pun). Nobody thought it would take the best part of ten years for Bowie to make another record. Well the 'The Next Day' is here at last and whilst it'll never live up to most peoples expectations, this writer included I have to say that after much action on the old turntable, (yes I do have the vinyl early) I think it's a stirling effort.

Stand-outs for me are 'Dirty Boys', 'Valentine's Day' 'How Does the Grass Grow', which is Bowie doing vintage Bowie, which is fine because , well he is! and '(you will) set the world on fire' which has an opening riff that dear old Mick Ronson would have loved! Some of the tracks are slow burners which after repeated plays bring forth subtler pleasures.

The best part of it all is that he's back and we've got something to talk about. As with so many iconic artists of his generation you'll miss him when he's gone for good.

Forever linked to Bowie in his pomp were the stupendous Mott the Hoople. BBC4 recently screened 'Mott the Documentary' and I'm sure for a lot students of rock that know the band only for their glam era heyday it will have been a real eye opener. Their debut album is full of Dylan-tinged rock-outs, you've got the intense but brilliant 'Mad Shadows', the west- coast feel of 'Wildlife' and the proto -punk of 'Brain Capers'. All this before we even get to 'All the Young Dudes' . With that song, which Bowie donated to the band as a sure fire hit after hearing they were on the verge of breaking up, Mott were catapulted towards the rock mainstream and fame, fortune and fights ensued. Although not necessarily in that order! After the band split up Ian Hunter, the frontman and main songwriter went on to huge solo success . Hunter was a bona fide rock star, which is there for all to see.

Not many people can carry off a velvet suit, big cross around the neck, shaggy hair and shades like he could. In fact I can't think of anyone! Also Ian was really funny! I stongly advise you to invest in the DVD, (available in store at a very reasonable price) There are so many laugh out loud moments, not just from Hunter but from the likes of super fan, Mick Jones, Kris Needs, Ariel Bender and guitarist Mick Ralphs having a go at the swiss! to mention just a few. I'll leave you until next time with the all time classic 'All the Young Dudes'. "hey dudes, stand up I wanna see ya".