Archive for April, 2018

Friday 20th April 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on April 20, 2018 by bishshat

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Thursday 19th April 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on April 19, 2018 by bishshat

28 degrees. Hottest day in April since 1949.

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This £100,000 pound sculpture on the roundabout where the A422 meets the A4390 on the Banbury Road is by Mick Thacker and it has been creating quite a stir since it was erected in 2007.

An armillary sphere (variations are known as spherical astrolabe, armilla, or armil) is a model of objects in the sky (on the celestial sphere), consisting of a spherical framework of rings, centred on Earth or the Sun, that represent lines of celestial longitude and latitude and other astronomically important features, such as the ecliptic. As such, it differs from a celestial globe, which is a smooth sphere whose principal purpose is to map the constellations. It was invented separately in ancient Greece and ancient China, with later use in the Islamic world and Medieval Europe.

With the Earth as center, an armillary sphere is known as Ptolemaic. With the Sun as center, it is known as Copernican.

The flag of Portugal features an armillary sphere. The armillary sphere is also featured in Portuguese heraldry, associated with the Portuguese discoveries during the Age of Exploration. In the flag of Empire of Brazil, the armillary sphere is also featured.

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Art in the Afternoon

First Wednesday of the month, 2pm – 4pm
Learn new skills to help improve your confidence and ability in drawing. Classes take place in the galleries or outdoors, and are a great way to relax, learn and make new friends.

On the 2nd May I am going to be looking at Matisse cut outs referencing the work of Mark Hearld that can be seen in the area of the folk art collection.

Mark Hearld studied at the Glasgow School of Art and later gained an MA from the Royal College of Art specialising in Natural History Ilustration. His intense interest in flora and fauna is the driving force behind his large body of work in many different media, including collage, textiles and ceramics as well as print and paint. His style is influenced by the work of Picasso and also many artists from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s including Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden and John Piper. Mark is also influenced by the neo-Romantic artists of the 1940s including Keith Vaughn

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Henri Matisse created some of his best-known art in the final decade of his life, and he made it from the simplest materials: shapes cut from colourful sheets of paper. He described these “cut-out” works as “drawing with scissors,” and he used this technique for works of various sizes and subjects.

Matisse initially used paper cut-outs to plot the design of works in other materials. Arranging and re-arranging small forms cut from sheets of paper, he could plan effects of composition, colour, and contrast before he painted on canvas. In early experiments with this method, he employed cut-outs to visualize the stage sets he was designing for theatre and ballet productions.

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Matisse initially kept his cut-out technique a secret. In 1943, however, he began to work on Jazz, an illustrated book of cut-out designs. Jazz was published in 1947. Its main theme was the circus, and its pages reproduced Matisse’s lively paper acrobats, clowns and animals. However, there were also hints of wartime violence in the illustrations’ exploding starbursts and falling bodies.

Coping with the difficulties of old age and illness in the years following World War II, Matisse nonetheless produced some of the most vibrant and dynamic works of his career. He lived and worked in southern France, in sunny studios in Vence and Nice. Following surgeries for severe intestinal disease, he was confined mostly to his bed and to a wheelchair. Working with paper turned out to be an ideal solution to his limited range of movement.

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For small works, the artist’s studio assistants painted sheets of white paper with colours that he chose; Matisse then cut out shapes with a large pair of scissors and pinned them to a board, where he could adjust them until he had his final arrangement.

These smaller cut-outs included female nudes, botanical designs and geometrical compositions, as well as covers for books about his own art and about other artists.

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In the last years of his life, Matisse came full cycle to his earlier methods, using smaller cut-outs to design works in other media. Working with cut-paper prototypes, he planned stained-glass windows and ceramic-tile wall decorations for several private homes. The project that he referred to as his “masterpiece” was the Chapel of the Rosary in Vence, completed in 1951. Matisse used his cut-outs to develop many aspects of this church’s decoration, from stained-glass windows to vestments for its priests.

We will be looking at the folk art collection and Mark Hearlds work and create our own cut outs reflecting on the works of Hearld and Matisse.

We will use some vivid coloured papers instead of painted sheets. We will take time to create our images thinking about composition and once happy we will mount them and fix them with glue.

Finally we will  place a simple frame around the work before talking together about our creations.

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Wednesday 18th April 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on April 18, 2018 by bishshat

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The Spider and the Fly

Mary Howitt

Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,
‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I’ve a many curious things to shew when you are there.”
Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”

“I’m sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?” said the Spider to the Fly.
“There are pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin,
And if you like to rest awhile, I’ll snugly tuck you in!”
Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “for I’ve often heard it said,
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!”

Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, ” Dear friend what can I do,
To prove the warm affection I ‘ve always felt for you?
I have within my pantry, good store of all that’s nice;
I’m sure you’re very welcome — will you please to take a slice?”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “kind Sir, that cannot be,
I’ve heard what’s in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!”

“Sweet creature!” said the Spider, “you’re witty and you’re wise,
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I’ve a little looking-glass upon my parlour shelf,
If you’ll step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself.”
“I thank you, good lady,” he said, “for what you ‘re pleased to say,
And bidding you good morning now, I’ll call another day.”

The Spider turned him round about, and went into her den,
For well she knew the silly Fly would soon come back again:
So she wove a subtle web, in a little corner sly,
And set her table ready, to dine upon the Fly.
Then she came out to her door again, and merrily did sing,
“Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple — there’s a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead!”

Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly,
Hearing her wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;
With buzzing wings he hung aloft, then near and nearer drew,
Thinking only of his brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue —
Thinking only of his crested head — poor foolish thing! At last,
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held him fast.
She dragged him up her winding stair, into her dismal den,
Within her little parlour — but he ne’er came out again!

And now dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly flattering words, I pray you ne’er give heed:
Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the Fly.

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Tuesday 17th April 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on April 17, 2018 by bishshat

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Harry Kane’s fierce strike at the start of the second half was cancelled out straight away by a Pascal Gross penalty as we were held to a 1-1 draw by Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium on Tuesday night.

On the one-year anniversary of the Seagulls’ promotion to the top flight, they produced a hard-working display to keep us at bay in the first half before ensuring there was no way through for the majority of the second with some organised defending, restricting us to only the occasional cross as the spaces just wouldn’t open up.

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Heung-Min Son had a good chance in first-half added time, but home goalkeeper Mat Ryan made a superb low save down to his left.

Hugo Lloris got a hand to Gross’ penalty after Kane finished off some good work by Son, but the swift equaliser gave Brighton real belief that they could take something from the game.

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We’ve enjoyed a tremendous record against newly-promoted sides in recent years, but the closest we went to a late winner was when substitute Erik Lamela wriggled half a yard away from his marker, only to see Ryan palm away his rising shot.

The result sees us move eight points clear of fifth-placed Chelsea, who face a tricky trip to Burnley on Thursday night in their game in hand.

Saturday 14th April 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on April 14, 2018 by bishshat

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Our 14-game unbeaten run in the Premier League came to an end at Wembley Stadium on Saturday evening as Manchester City ran out 3-1 winners.

The champions-elect scored twice in the first 25 minutes and, although we produced a spirited fightback and reduced the deficit through Christian Eriksen just before the break, Pep Guardiola’s side added a third on 72 minutes to seal the points and take another step closer to securing the title. The visitors almost went ahead after just three minutes when Leroy Sane sliced a volley against the post, but did open the scoring in the 22nd minute. Vincent Kompany’s long pass over the top found Gabriel Jesus racing clear and he slotted past Hugo Lloris.

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Our goalkeeper was involved in their second three minutes later, his sliding challenge on the onrushing Raheem Sterling considered to be inside the area, with referee Jonathan Moss pointing the spot. Ilkay Gundogan converted the penalty to double City’s lead and we were in danger of being over-run. But we showed great character in the closing minutes of the first half and pulled one back when Eriksen latched onto Harry Kane’s neat pass, his close-range effort deflecting off Aymeric Laporte and back onto him before beating Ederson and going in. That made it double figures in the Premier league.

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We enjoyed plenty of possession and forward play in the second period but couldn’t convert it into chances and it needed a couple of superb defensive blocks from Ben Davies and Kieran Trippier on separate incidents to prevent Sterling adding to City’s tally. However they did make it three when Jesus drilled a shot which Lloris could only parry into the path of Sterling and he lashed the ball into the net.

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Eriksen and substitute Lucas Moura tested Ederson late on, but we couldn’t add to our side of the scoreline and suffered a first league defeat since losing to City on December 16 last year.

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The Moody Blues have been eligible for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since the 1990 ceremony, but it wasn’t until they were nominated last year – for the first time – that they made it in. This is in spite of the fact that the British group, best known for the single “Nights in White Satin,” logged multiple Number One and Top 10 albums in the U.S. from the Sixties to the Eighties, as well as stacks of gold and platinum plaques.

So when Justin Hayward and his past and present bandmates had the opportunity at the induction ceremony in Cleveland on Saturday to reflect on their careers, which have stretched more than half a century, they did so with poignant, heartfelt speeches. “The thanks really goes to the Moody Blues fans for giving us such a wonderful life of music,” Hayward said in a Rolling Stone interview prior to the ceremony. Here’s what they had to say at the event.

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Denny Laine: I won’t keep you long. Since I wasn’t in the band that long. Mike and Ray came up to me. They wanted to perform a new band and I said “If we can play blues music, yeah.” but I’m really pleased to say that these guys got rid of the blue suits and went on to other things. And I’m a big fan. So, there you go. Moody Blues, I love you.

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Graeme Edge: I’m not gonna make a long speech. I’m 77 years old, I ain’t got time. The first thing I want to do… I want to thank Justin and John for putting up with me for 50 years and counting. I want to thank me for putting up with Justin and John for 50 years and counting. I want to thank everyone in the world that’s ever helped me. You know who you are. Thank you. And all the people in the world that haven’t helped me… screw you. God bless you all! It was so long that we were eligible and didn’t make it, that I got a real sour grapes thinking about it. When it actually became something for us to appreciate and have, I did realize it means the world to me.

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John Lodge: Well. In 1967, Graeme Edge, Mike Pinder, Ray Thomas, Justin Hayward and myself, along with our producer Tony Clarke, went into the Decca recording studio in London, England, and so days later, we came out with an album that changed our lives forever. The album Days of Future Passed. And I’d like to thank American radios for supporting us for five decades. And the belief in us has just been tremendous and has given us encouragement to keep going, and doing everything we love to do and that’s make music. We’d like to thank also some of our friends at radio, Howard Stern. And the great Scott Muni in New York.

And of course to the fans here tonight and of rock and roll: This is yours. Over the years, we’ve worked with many people. I just wanna name a few people: Edward Lewis, who was chairman of the Decca Record company in the UK and he started the Decca Record company here in the U.S.A. There’s all the people who have been with us for so many years. And I’d like to just… on a personal side. My wife, Kirsten. My daughter Emily and my son Christian. And of course, my hero John Henry. You are the pillars and the foundation of my life. Thank you to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

33rd Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony - Arrivals

Justin Hayward: Thank you very much. Thank you. If you don’t know already, well, we’re just a bunch of British guys and it’s quite hard explaining the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame over the other side of the Atlantic. I live near the Italian border and I live in a place … there’s an British, English community there. Of course, you know, the British will always form a community and a class system when we’re around the table wherever we are. But I was on a street walking to the shop the other day and I met a woman I knew and she said, “What are you boys up to then?” and I said, “Oh, we’re being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.” “Oh,” she said. “When are you being induced?” So, it’s kind of like being induced that people ask me if I’ve been induced.

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But, of course, to us and to all of British musicians, this is the home of our heroes. It’s all the people that have come along and changed the world. But this is the home of my heroes and to be celebrated, even in the same street, in the same building, in the same town even as Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers and the woman who showed us all how it should be done, that’s Nina Simone.

Of course, I’m very grateful to my parents, and I’m very grateful also to John and to Mike and to Ray and to Graeme, and it’s been such a wonderful partnership and for them putting up with a 19-year-old jerk who was me, trying to get my songs done. And I would also just mention like John and some of the radio personalities, Scott Muni and Howard, and Alison Steele. She was a wonderful, wonderful DJ. It’s a privilege anyway, and of course, all of the thanks and gratitude really goes to the Moody Blues fans. Thank you very much. It means a lot to me.

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In the latter half of the Sixties, British rock groups faced a daunting challenge: how to bridge the chasm between the American-inspired Mersey Beat so beloved earlier in the decade, and the kaleidoscopic psychedelia that had taken its place. Only a handful of acts pulled off the creative leap, and few managed to combine commercial triumph with musical daring and technical innovation quite like the Moody Blues. With their 1967 opus “Nights in White Satin,” they vaulted past the catchy yet derivative R&B that inspired their name and toward parts unknown. The seven-minute epic would become their signature song.

Rock Hall Unveils New Hall of Fame, Cleveland, USA - 13 Apr 2018

Moody Blues’ Justin Hayward on Hall of Fame Honor: ‘It’s Amazing!’
“This induction is validating the music our fans really, really love,” singer says. “I’m so pleased for all of them.”

The group’s upcoming (and long overdue) entry into the Rock and Roll of Fame has invigorated their fervent fan base and led others to reexamine their diverse canon, beginning with their 1964 breakout hit, a cover of Bessie Bank’s soulful ballad “Go Now.” The shift towards the symphonic grandeur of their later work began in earnest after the group enlisted Justin Hayward to replace their recently departed lead singer. “I was absolutely lousy at rhythm & blues, so it was my purpose to get my own songs done,” Hayward told Rolling Stone in December. “Things had to change. The blue suits and the R&B set was getting us nowhere.”

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Not long into his tenure, Hayward presented his colleagues with the bones of a delicate acoustic tune, inspired by an ex-girlfriend’s tender gift of satin bed sheets. Refined by the Moody Blues’ hive mind, “Nights in White Satin” evolved into an emotional tour de force, smoldering with the passion of young love and the excitement of a band on the precipice of new artistic peaks. While not an instant success, the song would scale the charts across the globe on multiple occasions without the aid of a major-label push – an occurrence that borders on supernatural in the music industry. It also served as the anchor of their groundbreaking 1967 album Days of Future Passed, which the group is currently in the midst of honoring with a 50th-anniversary tour.

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On the eve of their Hall of Fame induction, Hayward and Moody Blues co-founders Mike Pinder and Graeme Edge spoke to Rolling Stone about the song’s unlikely genesis and how it became one of the greatest slow burns in pop history.

By the fall of 1966, a two-year commercial dry spell had demoralized the band and crippled them financially, prompting the resignation of frontman and dominant writing force Denny Laine and bassist Clint Warwick. The three remaining members, keyboardist Mike Pinder, drummer Graeme Edge and multi-instrumentalist Ray Thomas, vowed to continue. With a creative influx from two new bandmates and a cutting-edge piece of technology, they pushed forward into the New Year.

Mike Pinder: The band had a hit in 1964 with the Bessie Banks song “Go Now,” but our management had disappeared with the money. One day we went to the office and they had basically vanished. They had gone bankrupt and we were broke.

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Graeme Edge: Then when Denny Laine left, that almost broke up the band. We had to get a new lead vocalist and [bassist] John [Lodge] came in. That’s when we started to reorganize and rethink our direction.

Justin Hayward: I was playing guitar for a singer called Marty Wilde, and he was a good reference. I’d written some songs and sent them to Eric Burdon [of the Animals]. Unbeknownst to me he passed them to Mike Pinder in the Moodies and soon I had a call from Mike. I came up to London to meet him and we got on. Then a couple of weeks later I met Ray and Graeme and I was in, really. I think it was an advantage that I had a Vox amplifier, which was more than they had.

Pinder: Justin and John were a great fit for us. They came into the band at a pivotal time and the energy and creativity was palpable. We had started writing our own songs, and the success of “Go Now” had opened doors. We were all bringing our best to the music.

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Hayward: We were so young. To be quite honest, the only challenges I faced were how to keep up the payments on my guitar and how to avoid going back to live with my parents. There was nothing to worry about, because you don’t when you’re that young. When you’re 19 years old, who cares? I wasn’t wrestling with any change in the band’s direction or anything like that.

Edge: Justin didn’t really come up through the rock & roll route but the English folk route, so that altered our direction somewhat. But the big thing was the introduction of the Mellotron.

An analog predecessor of the modern synthesizer, the Mellotron could replicate a vast array of sounds and rhythms through the use of tape loops. Played as one would a keyboard, the instrument allowed bands on a budget to expand their sonic palette without hiring costly session musicians. Mike Pinder, who once worked at the Birmingham factory where the instruments were made, was particularly taken with the device.

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Pinder: I grew up listening to the music of Mantovani and the layers of rich and melodious string arrangements that were his trademark. The Mellotron enabled me to create my own variations of string movements. I could play any instrument that I wanted to hear in the music. If I heard strings, I could play them with the Mellotron. If I heard cello, brass, trumpets or piano, I could play them.

Edge: Mike got the Mellotron and made some extensive modifications to it. The way it worked was, you pressed a key down, and that started a wheel that dragged the tape across the machine playback head. The sound took time to speak, so there was no question of anything percussive; no “dit-dit-dit,” you couldn’t do that with it. You had to play all flowing chords and stuff.

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Pinder: With the ‘Tron I could develop melodies and counter melodies within the Moody Blues’ songs. When you become the orchestra, I think you become the arranger by default. I could create the backdrops and the landscape for the melodies that the guys were writing.

And just what were they writing? Gone were R&B stompers inspired by the likes of Willie Dixon and James Brown, and in their place were atmospheric originals that embraced England’s newly “Swinging” reputation as a psychedelic mecca. The Moody Blues’ first singles under their new incarnation, Hayward’s knowingly titled “Fly Me High” and Pinder’s “Love and Beauty,” trod an art-pop path that had been cleared by that most fab of foursomes, the Beatles. But the creative current flowed both ways in the Sixties – it was in fact Pinder who introduced John Lennon to the Mellotron, later used to great effect on his dreamy masterpiece “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

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Pinder: We did the Beatles’ last tour of England [before] we reformed the Moody Blues. Ray and I were busy creating our own music, but we were always inspired by what John, Paul, George and Ringo were up to, musically. If you visualize the world of music like a giant mansion with countless rooms to explore, I understood the Beatles to be the ultimate explorers of the mansion. They opened up door after door, leaving those doors open for other musicians to enter and explore the room and its possibilities. And this is why I wanted the guys to have a Mellotron. The Mellotron allowed musicians to explore musical landscapes – and who better to do that then my friends, the Beatles?

Hayward: The Beatles were the leaders of the scene. It was quite a small music scene – you almost knew everybody else. You went to the same shops in Denmark Street and the same clubs, so everybody was quite familiar. You had a lot of acquaintances, which the Beatles were. I listened to lots of things at the time, but if I could only name one, it would be the Beatles.

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Hayward found his own hit-making muse one night after returning home from performing a concert. Perched on the edge of his bed as the birds chirped in the pre-dawn light, he reached for his 12-string guitar. As he simultaneously mourned a lost romance and celebrated the start of a new one, his thoughts drifted to a present from a former flame: white satin sheets.

Hayward: I was sharing a flat with Graeme and two girls that we just met. The four of us were living together in two rooms in Bayswater. I remember coming back from a gig and sitting on the side of the bed and just writing the two verses to “Nights.” It was quite emotional. It was a whole series of random thoughts that were on my mind. I was at the end of one big love affair and at the beginning of another.

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Edge: We heard it for the first time at rehearsal the following day.

Hayward: There was a nice hall near where Mike lived. He lived slightly out of town in Barnes and we agreed to meet the next day and have a practice. That’s what we used to call it: “a practice.” I think we used to go there to have some fun, really [laughs]. Nothing more serious than that. The other guys were probably thinking, “Oh, Justin will have something new to fiddle with.” And so I remember playing it to them. Mike had just gotten the Mellotron. I played the two verses and then I remember Mike playing the [keyboard] phrase. It just seemed to make sense.

Pinder: It was magic. I loved Justin’s melody and I loved the counter melody I created for his song.

33rd Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony - Arrivals

Edge: I thought it was pleasant enough. I liked it, but obviously the soaring backing vocals and arrangements and stuff weren’t there. The first time I actually heard it back was when we did a live BBC radio show.

Hayward: When we first heard it on the BBC we were going to a gig. We thought, “Oh, that’s interesting and has a spooky feel to it.”

Edge: This was definitely a skeletal arrangement. No backing vocals, just singing it with the lead guitar, bass and some keyboard. We didn’t think much of it at first. Then we went into the control room to listen to the playback of about four songs and “Nights” came up and we all looked at each other. I think that’s when we all realized we had something on our hands.

As 1967’s shimmering Summer of Love faded into fall, the band convened at Decca Records’ West Hampstead studios on October 8th to record what would become the song’s definitive version. Producer Tony Clarke and engineer Derek Varnals made full use of Studio One’s formidable echo chambers, lending dramatic resonance to the stacks of double-tracked vocal harmonies by Hayward, Pinder, Lodge and Thomas.

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Hayward: I used a big, old 12-string that was given to me by Lonnie Donegan. There’s not much on the record, to be quite honest. It’s not a complicated recording. At Deram [Records, Decca’s technologically innovative imprint], they were making beautiful CinemaScope stereo, which was lovely for us. Even the boys down at Abbey Road were making stereo with vocals on the right and [the instrumental] track on the left, which wasn’t very interesting. We were very lucky.

Edge: The song is in 6/8 time and, strangely enough, “Go Now,” from the previous incarnation of the Moodies was also in 6/8. I suppose I got a bit of experience in playing that sort of beat.

Hayward: It was recorded quite a long time before the album, but I think because it mentioned the word “nights,” that gave a hint to what the rest of the concept should be about: That “day in the life” idea.

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“Nights in White Satin” would form the centerpiece of the band’s second LP, Days of Future Passed, a symphonic morning-to-night journey through daily existence. Later hailed as one of the first “concept albums,” the song cycle materialized thanks in part to a sizable debt the band owed their label. To recoup their money, the Decca brass tapped the Moody Blues to help with a promotional venture helmed by composer, arranger and conductor Peter Knight.

Hayward: The original idea [for the album] was by a man named Michael Dacre-Barclay, who was head of special products for Decca. Ultimately, I think it was to sell their stereos. They had a consumer division so they were very interested in trying to turn people who liked pop music on to their stereo units – which I personally couldn’t afford. I didn’t have a stereo unit until 1970!

Justin Hayward,Graeme Edge,John Lodge

Edge: Decca had a sound system called Deramic Sound System, or DSS. Basically it was stereo but people weren’t interested at all back then. They had a whole series of albums they wanted made to demonstrate the extremes of music. So there was a marching band, a big brass band, and stuff like that. They wanted us to play a rock version of Dvořák’s “New World Symphony” with Peter Knight arranging the orchestra.

Hayward: As Peter Knight pointed out, there’s really only one nice tune you can develop in Dvořák, and you probably can’t even do that one very well! Peter Knight had a lot to do with reversing the idea.

Edge: We persuaded Peter Knight [against it]. At the time we didn’t realize what a risk he was taking but he was a good man. We had nothing to lose but he had a lot to lose. Still, he went with it. So we recorded Days of Future Passed instead of the “New World Symphony.”

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Pinder: I had already written two songs, “Dawn Is a Feeling” and “Sunset,” and Ray Thomas had written “Twilight Time,” which helped set the wheels in motion.

Hayward: I loved “Dawn is a Feeling,” and I was very privileged that [Mike] asked me to sing it. That was a beautiful song. I can’t remember whether he had that before “Nights” but I know it complimented it so well. Those were the markers of two points in a day. They were the markers of the day in the life of the everyman, which was interesting.

Edge: Back in those days there used to be two or three acts on a live show, and you had half an hour each. We were terrible at speaking to an audience, so we had the idea of pulling all our songs together so we didn’t have to talk. Basically that was the origin of the idea of Days of Future Passed.

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Pinder: It just kind of fell together that the album would have a continuity of theme. Everybody then took a time of the day and consciously wrote something that evoked the feelings, events, beauty and symbolism of the segments of a day.

Edge: We had a problem as we were writing the songs. We had “Dawn Is a Feeling” and “Peak Hour,” but there was a big gap until “Nights.” Being musicians, we didn’t have a lot of experience after dawn and before midday! So I was trying to write a song that spanned that [period], called “Morning Glory,” with lyrics between morning and evening. Then I went to the guys and said, “Can you do anything with this?” I spoke the lyric out to them and they looked at me and said, “There are just too many words. There’s no way you can sing this!” Then Tony Clarke said, “Oh, make it a poem!”

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Pinder: Tony Clarke was always full of ideas. We called him the sixth Moody. He played bass and had a musical background, which allowed him to soar with us in the studio. Tony was a great producer and a great friend.

Dubbed “Late Lament,” Edge’s poem provided a mystical benediction for “Nights in White Satin,” the album’s show-stopping closer. It was decided that Pinder, with his dignified baritone, would recite the prose on record – which he did while laying flat on his back in the studio.

Pinder: No doubt I was relaxing and in a meditative state when that was recorded. It needed a focus and concentration to deliver the message of that poem, poignantly written by Graeme.

Edge: At the time Mike had a much more gravely kind of voice. Cigarettes and whiskey had modulated his chords a bit more than mine. If you had [demonstrates] a high-pitched voice it doesn’t really work on the poem.

The Moody Blues received co-billing on Days of Future Passed along with the London Festival Orchestra. Despite the lofty sounding name, no such group actually existed. In reality this was the banner for a group of anonymous session musicians under the stewardship of Peter Knight, who also scored the lush instrumental links. Rather than recording simultaneously with the Moody Blues, Knight and his orchestra gathered in the studio on November 3rd to play along with a tape of the unfinished album, filling in the gaps as they went.

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Hayward: I went to the orchestral date for it. It was a three-hour session with one run through. They all knew Peter Knight well. They were used to his phrasing and his orchestrations, so I think it didn’t come as a surprise to the musicians. They were ready for it. Then they had a tea break and did the recording. They were that good!

Edge: One take. That was all we had time for [laughs].

Hayward: The orchestra did their bit and on Saturday afternoon Derek Varnals and Tony Clarke mixed the record. It wasn’t complicated because it was just on 4-track anyway. And that was it – done. Then on the Sunday night we were all invited back and listened to it in the studio: me and Graeme with our girlfriends, the rest of the group, and maybe a roadie. There were some big Tannoy speakers that they had in studio. It was lovely. I remember thinking, “Nobody’s going to buy that!” Looking back now, this wasn’t an album that any of us thought had any commercial value. So it wasn’t expected to be a hit or anything. When it first came out it was to demonstrate the Deramic Sound System.

Edge: Lo and behold, it was an instant hit … three and a half years later!

“Nights in White Satin” was released as a single in Europe on November 10th, 1967, the same day as the accompanying full length. In an era when AM radio ruled the airwaves, the original version of the song was chopped to just over three minutes to meet the quasi-mandatory time constraints. A slightly longer edit initially peaked at Number 19 on the English charts, but then it never truly died away.

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Hayward: I think [Decca A&R man] Hugh Mendl – who we used to call “Huge Muddle” – he liked it. He was a lovely elderly gentleman and would come along and get a bit [of a] contact high from my joints. He particularly liked it. It was released as a single in Europe and Britain and did well, but in America they said it didn’t fit the AM formula. They said, “No, you can’t dance to it,” which is ironic because now it’s always on lists of the Top 10 Prom Songs. (You don’t need to know how to dance; you just hold onto each other and slop around.) So they released “Tuesday Afternoon” with a horrid fade out – womp. It was like, “Two minutes and 15 seconds, there’s your lot.” You had two minutes to make an impact. Maybe they thought people had very short attention spans.

Pinder: The Sixties and Seventies were very unique for the artist as well as for the listener. I think the fans in those days were just as creatively turned on by the evolution of our music and our message as we were turned on by creating it. But record companies really did not have much creative capacity. Too profit-driven at the expense of creativity.

Hayward: We were so fortunate with the birth of FM radio in America. Our stuff was perfect for FM really because of the Deramic Sound System.

Edge: “Nights in White Satin” had been out for some time and got to Number 19 in the charts and then just disappeared. Then later when we had a new album out [1972’s Seventh Sojourn] the record company got in touch with us. There used to be things called regional breakouts. Instead of the big conglomerate radio stations like now, there were these FM guys and they had their own playlists. DJs were stars in those days and they prided themselves on discovering new talent. We had a regional breakout in Seattle. I think after the breakout started happening, there was a decision to re-promote it in other areas. It spread from Seattle down to San Francisco and down to L.A.. It was going great everywhere, slowly going up the charts again until in the end it got to Number Two. But it sold a hell of a lot of records because it took so long to get up there.

Hayward: [The label] put all their promotion behind Seventh Sojourn and none behind “Nights” and it kind of backfired on them a bit. In ’72 it just grew and grew and grew and in the end everybody at the record company just had to hold up their hands and go, “OK, let it go.” It was wonderful, it was all by itself. There was no promotion involved at all.

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Edge: Some time later they interviewed the DJ who got it going in Seattle and he said, “I was on the graveyard shift and I wanted to go out into the car park and smoke my bum and ‘Nights in White Satin’ was long enough to smoke.” If anybody asks me, “To what do you owe your success?” I say, “A junkie DJ.”

“Nights in White Satin” would ultimately chart an astonishing three times in the U.K., selling several million copies in the process. It also provided the soundtrack to crucial scenes in films like A Bronx Tale and Casino, and inspired covers from artists ranging from Giorgio Moroder and Tori Amos to Ramsey Lewis and Celtic Thunder.

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Hayward: The best version, by far, is by Bettye LaVette. She wrote to me after she recorded it and I was so touched. It brought me to tears. Her version is, I think, probably better than ours, with the emotion she puts behind it. And the players she has on it are so good. I think she’s got the best version ever, Bettye.

Hayward: I always get a little frustrated when it falls into that “prog rock” label because I’ve always seen it as kind of a romantic record. Each one of our songs is a short, concise song, in a way, and not all long guitar solos. They’re very ordered and structured.

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Edge: In ’67 it was personal. I was into it because it was everybody’s ambition to fall in love like that. Now, later in life, I get the pleasure of watching the audience. Some of them are mouthing the words; some of them are snuggling with each other. That’s the pleasure I get from it now: looking down into the audience and seeing what it means to people.

Hayward: It’s never lost the meaning. It only works if you do it from the heart. I can only do it that one way. It’s still just a series of random thoughts of a young person, but I’m very pleased that people are able to share that and it resonates. It’s a record with almost nothing on it, except a lot of echo. But it’s a mysterious kind of record too.

Edge: I think it’s the joy, the spirit that makes it [resonate]. It’s not spiritual, but from the spirit – uplifting joy and happiness. It’s a young boy discovering that he loves somebody for the first time and he just wants to shout it out from the hills – and shout it out again!

Friday 13th April 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on April 13, 2018 by bishshat

May or may not?

Yesterday I saw a tweet
From a twit
Threatening a twat
These were not children
Playing tit for tat
They were leaders of nations
President and Prime Minister
And a cabinet had a meeting
May or may not
Soon or not soon at all
I saw a child with one leg
Being dragged through the dust
Flags of nations flying
When they should be hanging in shame

John Bish
Friday April 13th 2018

5

A tournament of poison
Knights in Armani suites
Jousting for the future

Thursday 12th April 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on April 12, 2018 by bishshat

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Rawhide

The Blues Brothers

Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’
Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’
Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’
Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’
Rawhide!

Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’
Though the streams are swollen
Keep them doggies rollin’,
Rawhide

Rain and wind and weather
Hell bent for leather
Wishin’ my gal was by my side

All the things I’m missin’
Good vittles, love and kissin’
Are waiting at the end of my ride

Move ’em on
(Head em’ up!)
Head em’ up
(Move ’em on!)
Move ’em on
(Head em’ up!)
Rawhide!

Cut ’em out
(Ride ’em in!)
Ride ’em in
(Cut em’ out!)
Cut ’em out
Ride ’em in,
Rawhide!

Keep movin’, movin’, movin’
Though they’re disaprovin’
Keep them doggies movin’,
Rawhide

Don’t try to understand ’em
Just rope, throw, and brand ’em
Soon we’ll be livin’ high and wide

My heart’s calculatin’
My true love will be waitin’
Be waitin’ at the end of my ride

Move ’em on
(Head em’ up!)
Head em’ up
(Move ’em on!)
Move ’em on
(Head em’ up!)
Rawhide!

Cut em’ out
(Ride ’em in!)
Ride ’em in
(Cut em’ out!)
Cut em’ out
Ride ’em in,
Rawhide!

Yah! (whip crack)

Move ’em on
(Head em’ up!)
Head em’ up
(Move ’em on!)
Move ’em on
(Head em’ up!)
Rawhide!

Cut em’ out
(Ride ’em in!)
Ride ’em in
(Cut em’ out!)
Cut em’ out
Ride ’em in,
Rawhide!

Rollin’ rollin’,rollin’
Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ Yah! (whip crack)
Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’
Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’
Rawhiiide

Yah! (whip crack)

Rawhide!

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Wednesday 11th April 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on April 11, 2018 by bishshat

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Tuesday 10th April 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on April 10, 2018 by bishshat

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Monday 9th April 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on April 10, 2018 by bishshat

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Rodin

Rodin relationship with Claudel, his work on the monumental Gates of Hell project, and the all-consuming obsession with his Balzac statue. At the film’s start, Claudel is already in the master’s studio as a prize assistant and lover. Though Rodin was well-known for sleeping with his models and pupils, his pairing with Claudel was the only affair to threaten the stability of his non-traditional common-law marriage to Rose (Séverine Caneele), a stolid country woman whose involvement with his artistic career was long past. Claudel chafes at her lover’s inability to commit and bristles at being overshadowed by his fame, until she flees from under his shadow and gradually loses her mind (vaguely implied but not seen).

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Meanwhile, he’s continually at work on his great Balzac statue, a work famously derided when first presented — Oscar Wilde (not quoted in the film) described it as “the leonine head of a fallen angel, with a dressing gown.” And about that dressing gown: Doillon includes an unintentionally hilarious “Eureka!” moment when Rodin, contemplating his statue’s nakedness, grabs an overcoat, tosses it in a bucket of wet plaster, drapes it over the paunchy form, and voilà, a masterpiece is born. The director clearly read far too many books about his subject before writing his script, but was this particular episode ever described thus?

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At least that scene shows part of the artistic process, as opposed to the constant stream of ridiculously didactic lines tossed out by all the famous people in Rodin’s circle. Victor Hugo (Bernard Verley) isn’t just glimpsed but overheard saying something profound — this isn’t a Mike Leigh “Turner” sort of film seeking to uncover the runny-nosed man-of-the-earth who crafts sublime masterpieces. Rather, this is hagiography looking to educate. Rodin to Cézanne (Arthur Nauzyciel): “Stay strong!” Rodin to Monet (Olivier Cadiot): “You helped me understand light!” Name dropping runs amok, and why exactly bring Rainer Maria Rilke (Anders Danielsen Lie) into the picture when all he does is explain the Biblical story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife? It may be edifying to read, but it’s stultifying to watch.

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Lindon’s physical solidity is impressive. He holds himself like a great hunk of clay, thick and dense and rooted to the ground, making this seem like even more of a wasted opportunity when considering what could have been done with a Rodin biopic. Visiting the major exhibition currently on in Paris would be far more insightful. Higelin has an innocence about her, a directness and simplicity in the early scenes that happily normalizes Claudel; only later do the neuroses start to take hold of her fragile mind. Other actors perform their roles with gravitas except the artist’s models, all tediously giggly or, in the case of Gwen John (Olivia Baes), here called Mary, quivering with sexual excitement when near the master.

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Much of the shooting was done in the actual locations, with production designer Katia Wyszkop doing a commendable job making it all look perfect on screen. Rodin’s studios are artfully filled with carefully arranged plaster casts, a serendipitous mirror placed to show multiple sides of the statues. Strong, white lighting sets everyone off in a flawless theatrical glow when natural light isn’t enough, and Christophe Beaucarne’s loving cinematography ensures this has “prestige” written all over.

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Rodin

Rodin is generally considered the progenitor of modern sculpture, he did not set out to rebel against the past. He was schooled traditionally, took a craftsman-like approach to his work, and desired academic recognition, although he was never accepted into Paris’s foremost school of art.

Sculpturally, Rodin possessed a unique ability to model a complex, turbulent, deeply pocketed surface in clay. Many of his most notable sculptures were roundly criticized during his lifetime. They clashed with predominant figurative sculpture traditions, in which works were decorative, formulaic, or highly thematic. Rodin’s most original work departed from traditional themes of mythology and allegory, modeled the human body with realism, and celebrated individual character and physicality. Rodin was sensitive to the controversy surrounding his work, but refused to change his style. Successive works brought increasing favor from the government and the artistic community.

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From the unexpected realism of his first major figure – inspired by his 1875 trip to Italy – to the unconventional memorials whose commissions he later sought, Rodin’s reputation grew, such that he became the preeminent French sculptor of his time. By 1900, he was a world-renowned artist. Wealthy private clients sought Rodin’s work after his World’s Fair exhibit, and he kept company with a variety of high-profile intellectuals and artists. His students included Antoine Bourdelle, Camille Claudel, Constantin Brâncuși, Charles Despiau. He married his lifelong companion, Rose Beuret, in the last year of both their lives. His sculptures suffered a decline in popularity after his death in 1917, but within a few decades, his legacy solidified. Rodin remains one of the few sculptors widely known outside the visual arts community.

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Camille Claudel

Around 1883, he had met the young sculptress; she became his model, Muse and mistress, his praticiènne and his artistic colleague. This intense friendship, that was to last for 15 years, had a decisive impact on Rodin´s life and art. Other works like Eternal Spring (1884), Fallen Angel (1885), The Danaid (1885-89), Death of Adonis (1888) and Eternal Idol (1889) show the changed direction Rodin´s work has taken. Although less dramatic than in Fugitive Love, in most of the pairs  an undertone of pessimism and sorrow remains, mirroring the impossible conditions of his passion for Camille.

Camille Claudel was a French sculptor and graphic artist. She died in relative obscurity, but has gained recognition for the originality of her work.

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She was the elder sister of the poet and diplomat Paul Claudel and the lover and co-worker of sculptor Auguste Rodin. The national Camille Claudel Museum in Nogent-sur-Seine opened in 2017, and the Musée Rodin in Paris has a room dedicated to Claudel’s works.  After 1905 Claudel appeared to be mentally ill. She destroyed many of her statues, disappeared for long periods of time, exhibited signs of paranoia and was diagnosed as having schizophrenia. She accused Rodin of stealing her ideas and of leading a conspiracy to kill her. After the wedding of her brother in 1906 and his return to China, she lived secluded in her workshop.

Camille 24 years younger than Rodin; her mother and her brother Paul are suspicious of the artist, who is slowly coming to fame now. One of the things their hear about the sculptor disturbs them: apparently, Rodin has a wife already. Although Rodin adores Camille, employs her in his studio, takes her as a model for various sculptures like The Thought, La France and Saint George, spends the summer days with her at the Château d´Islette and pays the rent for her house near the Dépôt des Marbres, he does not want to dissolve his ties to his old love and companion Rose Beuret. Rose had been loyal to him during the difficult years in Belgium, she had watched over his precious clay models and been his model for Mignon and La Bacchante.

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On 22 January 1866, their son Auguste-Eugène Beuret had been born. Rodin never recognised him as his child, nor was he prepared to marry Rose. Still, he does not want to leave her alone. Together with Rose, he lives at the Rue des Grands Augustins. At the same time, Rodin and Camille share an atelier in the Folie Neufborg, a little old castle at the Boulevard d´Italie. They are an artistic, sexual and spiritual pair.  Camille still hopes she can replace Rose, who does hardly participate in Rodin´s social and intellectual life and rather functions as a kind of housekeeper.

“She wanted Rodin to repudiate his poor old Rose, who had been the companion of his early years, and who had shared his poverty. He could not bring himself to to that, though both as a man and an artist he was passionately in love with Camille Claudel. “She has no sense of fair play”, he told me one day, “just like all women.”

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Camille´s friend Jessie Lipscomb recollects, Rodin had two children with Camille, who were raised in a boarding school,  but a curious contract of October 1886, in which Rodin promised to give up all contact to his former models and to marry Camille, never is fulfilled. In 1893, Rodin moves with Rose to the Villa Bellevue in Meudon. Camille does not give up, though: she does not want confine herself to the role of a mistress and assistant. According to Georges Reyer, there are impetuous scenes of jealousy, and Kenneth Clark wrote that one day, Rose even shot at Camille. In L´Age Mûr (1894), Camille Claudel depicts this fatal triangle relationship between Rodin, Rose, and herself. In biting caricature sketches, she comments on Rodin´s unwillingness to give up Rose. Finally, she starts to move away from Rodin, develops her new concept of narrative sculpture.

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By the time the monumental version of The Kiss is presented at the 1898 Salon, their liaison has ended, although Rodin continues to support her artistic reputation. Camille, sliding into paranoia, suspects Rodin is abusing her ideas, even leads a conspiracy to poison her. In March 1913, after the death of her father, Camille is delivered to the mental hospital Ville-Evrard. Till her death in 1943, she will stay in custody, deprived of her art. In January 1917, Rodin and Rose finally marry, two weeks before Rose´s death.

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