Monday, 20 September 2010

Black Country Communion

It's not often I feel the urge to write a review of a single song.

Planet Rock sent me an email today, promoting their showcase this evening for Black Country Communion's self-titled d├ębut album.

Not surprisingly, I immediately Googled for the band's web site. Promising - Jason Bonham, Joe Bonamassa, Glenn Hughes (all of whom I'd heard of and respected), and Derek Sherinian, a name new to me. With that kind of line-up, it should be a no-lose.

From that site, I hopped across to their MySpace page. That page only had one song - One Last Soul - to show for itself. A little sparse for an album release; I'd expect snippets from most or all of the tracks. Enough, already: let's hear it!

What an utter disappointment.

A track that white-bread parents would be comfortable for their 11-y-o son to own
"One Last Soul" has been produced to within a gnat's firkin of its life. The song itself is a monument to early 1980s Big Hair Rock, American style. Aerosmith, Europe, Def Leppard all spring to mind, not Led Zeppelin, nor more recent rockers. The track has nothing to say to me at all. It reminds me of all the AOR albums that came out in my student days - albums I never wanted to pay money to own, and gifts I would probably have passed on to more appreciative friends. There's no rock honesty here - just a track that white-bread parents would be comfortable for their 11-year-old son to own.

If this is the best that Black Country Communion can come up with - and given that it was the only promotional track on their MySpace page, we must assume so - then they ought to pull the big wigs off their balding scalps and retire to spend more time with their royalties. Sorry, but there it is. I don't need a banal track so over-polished I can see my razor stubble in it.

[Later addition]
Some time after I wrote this, I ended up on Black Country Communion's YouTube page. There were other tracks here. "Mistreated", a live performance evidently videoed by a fan (given the poor quality of both picture and sound); and "The Great Divide", filmed in the recording studio and overdubbed with the final mix.

A lot of fake emoting over dressed-up arpeggios
Mistreated is an improvement upon One Last Soul, but not by much, and The Great Divide is probably the best track of them all. Not that that's a great recommendation; more like damnation by faint praise. Both tracks involve a lot of fake emoting over what are essentially dressed-up arpeggios. Can some of rock's leading lights not manage better than this? I thought better of Planet Rock, too. Still, since they got an exclusive live performance, I suppose they were duty-bound to set their critical faculties to one side and use it to their best advantage.

[Even later addition!]
All is revealed! I hadn't been on the Planet Rock website for a while, so I hadn't realised that Joe Bonamassa is actually an occasional presenter at Planet Rock! Even if it is for just one show a month, at an inconvenient time slot: last Saturday in the month at 6pm. I wonder which was the chicken, and which the egg: did he take the gig to get BCC promoted through Planet Rock, or did his pre-existing presenter slot mean Planet Rock was honour-bound to do the launch show?

Actually, in all fairness I suspect it was a lot simpler than that, and less cynical: he probably gave them the launch party on a plate, and they said, "Ta very much, we like exclusives!"

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Airport TV shows

You know, when there's a reality police show presented by some testosterone-boosted tooth-enhanced ex-Sheriff type, it starts with a load of legal boilerplate along the lines of "We're not showing this to entertain you (heaven forfend!), it's to educate you on what goes wrong when you break the law and run away from the cops afterwards."

But funnily enough, airport shows don't. The endless capacity of would-be passengers to admit the fault of anyone but themselves never ceases to amaze me. They probably watch the programmes at home, and jeer at the arrogant jerks who think that every rule will bend in the face of a loud enough complaint - then they arrive at Gatport Airwick (I might have got that wrong) and turn into just the same kind of clueless bozo they so despised last night.

So I thought, why not have some boilerplate for airport shows instead? Here's mine. Imagine the opening titles, and Sheriff Teeth (Ret'd) intoning this over them:

1. If you arrive at check-in after it's closed, it's closed, regardless of how inconvenient it is for you. The pilot has uplifted fuel for the calculated takeoff weight. The hold luggage is on its way, or already loaded. Every minute you spend harranguing staff and demanding to shout at superiors reduces your chance of getting a free ticket change. Oh, and the airport staff can't issue a refund. Get over it, and accept a later flight, or give up and go home. You choose.

2. If you roll up to check-in having chased ten beers with half a bottle of Smirnoff, don't expect to be accepted onto your flight. If you get rescheduled to a much later flight, and decide to drown your sorrows in the bar with something a bit more alcoholic than espresso, don't be surprised if you get refused later, too. Permanently. Just lie down, point your feet at your destination, and light your breath. You'll stand a better chance of getting there.

3. Don't expect an airline to accept your bus pass as a valid identity document. Nor your driving licence, nor the passport that's been through the washing machine, the tumble drier, and finally had its photo page steam-ironed.

4. You are not your sister, nor your brother, nor your cousin, not your deceased granny. The picture on that passport doesn't even look the same species as you, much less the same gender, and it expired years ago, as did its former holder. Under precisely which circumstances did you expect the check-in staff to accept it?

5. The hold luggage limits are stated, clearly, on the website through which you booked your tickets. There isn't an airline in the world that will accept your 120kg travel trunk, so undo the straps and tell your big sister to climb out. And no, you can't take her on board as cabin luggage.

Now travel safely, folks!