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Book of Brilliant Things - Five things we’ve loved this week - 12th September


1. Spanish Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello is pleasingly bonkers sometimes. His career has lurched wildly from pseudo-punk rock to pop to country to orchestral albums and collaborations with McCartney, Bacharach, Jenny lewis and many many more. So the fact he has curated an album covers of his first album with The Attractions, sung entirely in Spanish really should not be a surprise.


The project isn’t a collection of tribute songs or bog standard covers; all of the new vocal performances are set to the Attractions’ original recordings and instrumentation, capturing the energy of the band, who backed Costello for the first time on the original.


It's brilliant, if a bit disconcerting. I hope he plays a show with all the singers, just so I can go along and holler for Tu Eres Para Mi and La Chica de Hoy.


Es fabuloso!

2. Get Back preview

As I mentioned last week, Peter Jackson, he of Lord Of The Rings fame, is making a new documentary about The Beatles. Collated from 56 hours of unseen footage, Get Back looks amazing and Jackson has shared a "sneak peak". It's not a trailer, just five minutes of footage from the vast amount they have been editing down.


There are lovely, funny scenes in the trailer that will warm your heart. McCartney and Lennon singing Two Of Us through gritted teeth (literally, rather than in frustration and anger) is hilarious. Lennon gurning and introducing them as The Bottles, dancing with Harrison and McCartney, Ringo with a cup of tea and Harrison playing air bass. My favourite is just a couple of seconds of Lennon and Ringo walking out of the studio, arms around each other.


I always imagine the end days of The Beatles as horrific, so it's nice to see them joyous, happy....friends.

Get Back is due to be released 25th November 2021.


3. Arlo Parks won the Mercury Prize!

Collapsed In Sunbeams remains one of my favourite albums of the year. It's one of the first albums I reviewed on this blog and it's been a constant on my turntable since then.


The Mercury Prize is a weird one - I don't really believe in prizes for art and music, but if there is going to be one, I would like something brilliant to win. There have been years when I have scratched my head in bafflement, but not this year.


If you still haven't listened to the album, please do give it a spin, you will not be disappointed.


4. The Velvet Underground

I didn't like The Velvet Underground for years. I felt liked I had failed some cool music test initially, then doubled down and hated them because people told me I had to like them. Stubborn to the end. I did the same with Pixies, though fortunately saw the light much quicker.


Over the years, I have fallen in love with Lou Reed's voice though and love them, especially Loaded. The latter album has the pop sensibilities that Lou really strived for, despite his art passions.


Director Todd Haynes has previously directed superb films like Far From Heaven and Poison, as well as music based films such as I'm Not Here, his Dylan film, and Superstar, the story of Karen Carpenter. The Velvet Underground looks wonderful, and has the full co-operation of the surviving members John Cale and Mo Tucker.

The Velvet Underground is released on Apple TV on 15th October 2021.


5. New Albums - Manic Street Preachers and Villagers

Two new albums picked up this week at the marvellous Casbah Records in Greenwich.


The Ultra Vivid Lament is Manic Street Preachers' 14th album and 35 years into their career, finds them in continuing fine fettle. It's sublime, a mutation of several styles they have developed over the years, with an early Simple Minds feel, similar to Futurology.


The Secret He Had Missed is a standout, yet another duet in a remarkable recent run, featuring Julia Cumming from Sunflower Bean and showcasing a timely nod to the influence of ABBA.


Meanwhile, Fever Dreams is the fifth album proper by Villagers. Lush, indie-folk, Fever Dreams is inventive, strange, hook-laden, soulful, wonky, vulnerable - it's great. Full Faith In Providence is a standout, as O'Brien (no relation...there are a LOT of us....) sings "may the road rise to meet you". It's beautiful.


Both albums are thoroughly recommended!


See you next week, stay safe, x

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