Friday, October 03, 2008

Joy Division/Charlie Mingus

Last Thursday, Dave alerted me to the fact that Grant Gee's 2007 Joy Divison documentary was on at a nearby cinema.

An excellent film. Tony Wilson (RIP) rather overstates the "redevelopment of Manchester" theme, but the old footage of punk-era Manchester and interviews with Sumner, Hook, Morris and others (including Ian Curtis' Belgian girlfriend Annik Honoré) are all very insightful. There was even an audio clip of John Peel starting to play "Atmosphere" at the wrong speed (then cursing the French label for pressing 7" singles at 33)!

I was listening religiously to Unknown Pleasures and Closer exactly twenty years ago when I started university at Canterbury (as well as listening to John Peel regularly start records at the wrong speed — how he is missed). I haven't listened to them much at all in the last 15 years or so. I'd heard New Order started playing some JD songs a few years ago (this documentary included a brief clip of such a performance from Blackpool, 2007 — strangely moving).

I got home to put the radio on, intending to listen to Radio 4 news, but instead caught Radio 3's Composer of the Week - and this week it was Charles Mingus! Very encouraging that the BBC musical elite should have evolved to the point that he'd be included in the "composer" category. And it was listening to this programme, which featured heavily his masterpiece album The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady (as well as the "Epitaph" cycle), that I finally got Mingus.


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