THE AMERICAN CULTURAL PAGES

For practical reasons, the "culture" section has been split into two separate pages, Films seen in America and Books read in America. The pages are no longer updated, since we are now happily back in Sweden. Perhaps later I will create some active cultural pages as well.

There is no fancy graphical interface on this page yet (but it will appear Real Soon Now). Simply choose from the alternatives below:

Perhaps there will, one day, be a music page as well. Until then, our Unknown Artists Awards go to
 
Osamu Kitajima: Behind the light (Synth) 
Wench: A Tidy Sized Chunk (Hard Rock)

The Award For Artists Who Aren't As Well Known As They Deserve To Be goes to Judie Tzuke.
Recommended listening: Wonderland (Essential Records/Castle Communications, 1992).
Credits to Lestat for these links.
 

Extra: Concert in Miami.

Friday the 15 of August, the Man Without a Name, the Unspeakable Symbol, appeared at the Miami Arena. The old Prince concerts were often very visual, and on entering the large indoor amphitheatre, I was therefore disappointed to find that the stage was quite bare. The only decorations, apart from a drapery with the artist's ideogram, were two medium-sized golden statues of griffins that would have looked more appropriate in an Oriental junkshop. The statues stood rather hidden behind the monitor speakers and played no part in the show. Perhaps they had been left behind by the Beijing Opera.
Half an hour late, the performance started with a brief collage of well-known Prince tunes, all play-back. The band entered the stage, and, well, they started playing. Some classic Prince/Revolution songs mixed with newer material. No dancing girls, no props, very low-budget. Also the tunes themselves were stripped rather bare, consisting mostly of heavy percussion and base guitar backing up the singer's guitar and piano, which he would occasionally play. The impression was that of pop tunes reworked into a rap/hip-hop formula. Some songs were performed with only piano accompaniment, but only a few bars of each in a kind of medley.
What really spoiled the concert was that the polyonymous artist spent long periods making speeches that at least I utterly failed to comprehend - but God seemed to be involved somehow - while the band was idling in the background, grinding out some simple rhythm that served to drown whatever message was being delivered. At times things seemed to pick up, as when the band started to perform a quite new and daring version of When You Were Mine, but again, after a few bars, it was as if they had got distracted by something and started searching for a new beat while the singer concentrated on teaching the audience how to wave their hands in the air. And so it went on, with the concert occasionally picking up speed as with Little Red Corvette, then getting a touch romantic with a bit of When Doves Cry, then grinding to an irritating halt with more antics from the lead singer. Also, I can't really blame His Former Princeship for not being able to dance and sing at the same time, but then he should concentrate on the latter.
Other impressions of the concert are that the sound was tremendously loud with booming bass, shrill, piercing guitars and cymbals, and not much more - a somewhat tiresome combination when carried to excess and in combination with poor acoustics. The audience was if possible even noisier, screaming at the top of their voices, and the overall sound level was beyond anything I've previously experienced at a musical performance. Being old and wise, and tired of whistling noises lingering in my ears after concerts, I had taken some precautions to avoid unpleasant after-effects, which probably is the only reason I still have my hearing intact. The operators of four large and powerful stroboscopes, aimed at the audience, were far too keen on continuously using these flashlights, making it quite difficult to see the performers. The audience was leaving already during the first part of the concert, for reasons unknown to me- the concert wasn't that bad - and surprisingly many didn't bother to wait for the band to get back on the stage for the traditional bonus performance, which proved to be quite a large part of the show.
After the concert I thought to myself, "What kind of half-assed, low-budget jam-session was this, anyway?" Then I realised that the tour was actually named "Jam of the Year". I got exactly what I had been promised. The Character and his pals were just trying out some new rhythms, guitar riffs and dance steps in front of a paying - and mostly enthusiastic - audience.

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