Saturday, 18 December 2010


If anyone said to me, Mr Ishmael, what are your first five thousand Desert Island Discs, Herb Alpert's recordings would not be among them,  not in his Tee-you-wanna Brass  or his Disco incarnation;  if somebody said OK, then, your first fifty thousand Desert Island Discs,  Herby still wouldn't be there.  I would rather hear nothing than Herb's jaunty trumpeting;  I think I would rather be deaf than hear Herb Alpert. Or even dead. Dead  can't be as bad as  Herb's A Taste of Honey or Thees Guy's In Love Weeth You.

Kenny Ball and His Paramount Jazzmen,  I can tolerate them, whistle along to Midnight in Moscow;  Chris Barber,  I quite like him, too, well, I like Petite Fleur;  trumpets, jazz or martial,  just don't do much for me and  Mexican trumpeting is one of those noises I imagine to be leaking up from Hell. It's not Mexicans per se, any nation which enrages Uncle Sam as much as they do can't be all bad, it's just their fucking awful music. Mariache or Trini Lopez or Herb Alpert, doesn't matter, it's all shit.  The only decent Mexican music is Romance in Durango, and that's by Bob Dylan. And Herb isn't even Mexican  and nor were his Tijuana brass players, Gringos all; don't know if that's worse or better, pretending to be Wetbacks, taking the piss, I suppose, a bit like the Black and White Minstrel Show, only with sombreros. And donkeys.

Herby got the idea for his wee brass band whilst watching a bullfight in Mexico, seems about right, and never looked back.  Sold millions of trumpet records, founded and sold-on A&M records, whose roster included the insufferable Mr Gordon Sting and his Policemen  and is now making a  new name for himself as a sculptor. All looked like rubbish, to me, but art and showbiz and politics and religion are whatever you can get away with, just big lumps of black stuff, they were, some of them were white, anybody could do them, if they could afford the lorry and the cranes which must be involved. Maybe he paid illegal Mexican immigrants to hump them around on their backs. It's what showbiz types  do, giving something back, they call it, to the little people.

Anyway, there's an exhibition of Herb's Totem poles and who's there, among the US musical and sculptural cognoscenti, but our very own, much loathed, national untreasure, Steven Fag, simpering  about what a great artist Herby is. That's him, Herby, on the left, with the wee beard.

Darlings, do you like sperm, I simply adore it? Anyone know any good arse jokes?
Por favor, senorita, thees greengo shirtlifter, ee ees not weeth me.
Ee ees weeth the leedle fairy over there.

Essentially Senor Alpert's  work speaks to me of ejaculate.
Yes, he is truly a very great artist, and I gather he plays the mouthorgan too. 

I was just minding my own business.  I drifted into the tail end of this programme, thinking, how can there be a programme's worth of material in the career of this greasy trumpet player, when,  fuck me, entirely incongruously, up  pops Fry. Not in a million years, you'd think, Herb Alpert and Steven Fry.

When the Christians came, former worshippers of the Old Gods, now ostensibly converts to the one true faith,   surreptitiously carved the pagan Green Man in  church timbers,  keeping one foot in the Old Religion, just to be on the safe side, and a bit of a nod and a wink to each other, fellow travellers. Maybe the gay, heterophobic cabal at the BBC is doing something similar with the ghastly Fry, putting him everywhere,  a nod and a wink to each other, fellow travellers, an emissary of the Devil.

I think it's part of a conspiracy to rob us of our minds, like most things media.


PT Barnum said...

Ah, the soundtrack of hell: Alpert's trumpet and any pop song played on pan pipes, guaranteed to make one feel as if all sensory organs were being fed through a cheese grater.

In the Emperor's New Clothes world of modern art, it is absolutely necessary to garner the sagacious approval of cultural icons, cos otherwise it could just be a child's poor efforts with plasticine.

Is that woman with the scarf Lulu?

Dick the Prick said...

Top rant; never heard of the dude but I guess you'd not be too chuffed to find his discography in your Chrimbo stocking! Hee hee.

winkler said...

I keep trying to understand the mechanism whereby a mans nose gradually changes its inclination to the direction of travel by several degrees per year.

mrs narcolept said...

I think it always was lopsided, it's just that the rest of him has sagged so it's more noticeable.

Edgar said...

I can satisy Mr Fry's need for a joke:

As we learned in Latin clarss
The Latin word for art is ars.
So arsists all, come nigh, unite!
And from the ars, receive the shite.

mongoose said...

Jazz, I think, is an insider's joke.

lilith said...

Poor Mr Smith. There you were, suffering the "jazz", experimenting with the sensations it was producing in you (flayed skin, severed bowels,searing stabbing pains to the forehead) when bloody Fry turns up and apoplectifies you beyond all possibilities for sleep and serenity for perhaps are taking terrible risks with your health. Turn the bloody thing off! It just isn't safe. If its not Fry, its Lenny Henry.

mrs narcolept said...

Avoid television tonight at all costs. The creepy mildewed foxtrotting nitwit will be on.

Agatha said...

My book club had us read "The Lacuna". Pretentious, arty, unpleasant, with far too much information about Mexico. That did it for me and Mexico, so, happy to join with you, Mr. Ish in your condemnation of cod Mexicana. "The Lacuna" was written by an American. It was a lot like homework, and I struggled through about a third. Needless to say, it was a prize winner.

call me ishmael said...

Afraid I can't take book-reading clubs seriously, ms a; like the Open University and Amateur Dramatics, they strike me as being an unnecessarily complicated form of wife-swapping organisatiion. At best, they are, like Rolling Stone Magazine, a tool of the industry, rather than the customer.

Jazz, now, is a strange business, a topic requiring much sub-division. I am sure that down in the West Country, for instance, traditional or New Orleans or Dixieland jazzbands are as welcome the flowers in May, the chordal cross-overs with the Blues, the shared ethnicity and the anarchic undertones of both are well known, or they should be. I am equally sure that the mongoose dwelling might resonate now and again to Oscar Petersen or Duke Ellington, both of whom would be deemed as jazz musicians, without causing discord amongs the mongeese.

It is with Modern jazz that one encounters the flayed skin, severed bowels,searing stabbing pains to the forehead. I have tried Mr Miles Davis, often, and I think I would rather have the toothache, his genius, his cool and his greatness escape me, but then so do those of Ms Joni Mitchell and countless other musical luminaries. Coltrane. Monk, Gillespie, Mingus and Co are, I think, the insider joke above mentioned; Reinhardt, Grapelli, Lonnie Johnson and Charlie Christian from the early days; Dave Brubeck; some of the Jazz singers, Billie holliday, Bessie Smith, people like Mel Torme are well worth a listen.

The interesting thing about Alpert - I never thought of him as a jazz player - was that the greatest praise for him was as a businessman, rather, though we must whisper it, like Fry.

mongoose said...

My control over the urchins decays by the day, Mr Ishmael, and it has now overtaken musical quality control. They are away and off with the X Factor Crooner, Rihanna, Gorillaz, Miley Fucking Cyrus... And a hundred others. Whomsoever these creatures may be, they are not musicians but I worked out the other day that it matters not. Just as long as we have no show tunes we will be safe.