Friday, 24 August 2007

Tellytubby, or Recorded-Aftermath-of-Gig-a-Blog™ (Good Books in freeze-dried granules)

Updateoid 1: The Televisualization

GoodBooks' fine ICA performance of Passchendaele, marred only slightly by my playing, was on TV on Saturday 21st July.

This was on a Channel 4 show called T4 which featured an iTunes Festival segment in each of (I think) four weekly programmes. Obviously - given the maths - these were selections rather than entire concerts-worths of music: consequently GoodBooks were sandwiched in between Groove Armada with Mutya Buena, and Sir Paul McCartney (who he?), spanning several nights in one show.

We watched it under slightly unusual circumstances: the living room was full of sleepy Harry Potter fans, Becca having had a massive sleepover of friends. They had all been down at Waterstones in Piccadilly for the midnight launch of the latest (and indeed lastest) book and had not got back till some ungodly hour of the morning. There was not, I hope, too bad an interaction between their need for more kip and mine for a (relatively) early-morning dose of Popular Music.

When the programme reached the iTunes Festival bit, it was nice that the introductory music was from The Illness, another GoodBooks track. I don't know if they did this each time or just for this one, but it was good to hear it there anyway. Oh and this was over quite a clever, striking London-plus-Music black and white animation, with the London Eye turning into a bass drum and so on. Passchendaele came round after about twenty minutes - just long enough to start worrying that they'd left it out.

There was a short chunk of interview then the song. I was pretty pleased with how it sounded: in particular, I didn't suffer the, er, IntonationExcursion™ which had raised my blood pressure so very dangerously while I was listening to the Radio 4 recording, and I preferred the somewhat fatter trumpet sound they'd gone for on this one, so thank you Mr or Ms Engineering Persons. Yes yes: as noted elsewhere my views tend essentially to be a somewhat tunnel-visioned, single-issue take on the recorded performance and I'm aware that there's room to consider other aspects - or rather that there could be room if you weren't me. But, as they say, hey.

In the performance, with regard to the er er er er visual effect such as it was, I was pleased that I appeared neither to be struck motionless like a sack of King Edwards nor wibbling embarrassingly round like your old Dad trying out his fon-kay dance moves. Given my concerns surrounding this general area of life, I found this outcome quite satisfactory. (Yes Tamsin. That is correct: I was worried that I would look a pr*t. Indeed.)

Looking at it again, I do seem to be checking where we are quite a lot, glancing over at Max, nodding at Lottie at section breaks, etc, but you could perhaps interpret it (with kindness) as "taking an intelligent interest" rather than "being anxious". In any case any possible claim on coolness that I might ever have been tempted to make would have been abandoned at least thirty years ago. And, as discussed ad nauseam already, I would much rather risk looking uncool than risk being in the wrong place.

One thing that was a bit of a disappointment was the Vanishing Lottie Effect. That is, while I was quite well lit (only because I was very close to Christopher the bass player!), Lottie was essentially unlit and hence mostly invisible. You do get to see her occasionally and certainly she's lit by flashes - ready with those freeze frame fingers, viewers? - but it's less than I'd like, natch. The third player, James, being even further stage left, is correspondingly even less visible. None of this is of course an artistic disaster (well not a total one), and nor does it render the song incapable of communicating: it's just that if you were, say, a parent of one of the young persons concerned, you'd be a touch cheesed off. Gak!

On the other hand, while you can't see the middle von Neustadt child all that well, you do get to hear her rather splendidly doing her Groovy Improv Thang like a good 'un in the Big Noisy Ending™. She'd been so excellent on the BBC show that I was determined to make her job a little harder, or at least more interesting, by heading off in a different direction. Naturally, being me, I bottled out of this, initially at least, and despite my best intentions and the twelve billion choices available, managed to start with exactly the same phrase as last time. D*mn d*mn d*mn. Twit. Oh well.

I am beginning to feel that improvisation is like tennis, and that if you want to improve your performance you should always try to play with someone better than you. By this token I should do lots more gigs with Lottie in the vague hope that I might reverse-inherit something from her.

Anyway. That was the telly, that was, and I was very relieved and happy that it seemed to be OK, suitable for showing to relatives, friends, colleagues, etc without too much embarrassment. (Yes, of course I've got a DVD, what did you think?)

Updateoid 2: ... and now on iTunes

I suppose, given the name of the festival, I might have guessed that performances from the ICA would turn up sooner or later on iTunes. Well they did, and I bought the GoodBooks tracks, and went through the bizarre contortions necessary to get them onto my Wretched Young Persons' Portable Music Listening Device, and that's about it really. The iTunes Passchendaele performance may I suppose have been recorded and/or tweaked differently from the TV sound but as I hear it it's the same notes, and I really wouldn't know more without a Helpful Young Person talking me through. It's another nice memento to have, and it increases substantially - by a third I think - the number of pop songs on iTunes with me on. As noted elsewhere, the golden day of my great comeback can only be a few decades round the corner. Soon you will be able to get a snappily-titled album like "Great Trumpet Moments in Popular Musical History with Vogel von Neustadt, volume 1, the First Half-Century" and attractive people will demand my autograph in Woolworths and other classy cultural hotspots. An ting.

Anyway anyway. That's pretty much it. We had one other brief interaction with GoodBooks but that was in a trumpet-free environment, so I reckon that I can say that my Passchendaele- playing career is on a break at the moment. It has, however, been fun: lots and lots and lots of it. Thank you and goodnight.

Photo by courtesy of James at Mallinsons.


Anna said...

I think the mix is the same on the TV one as the iTunes Music Store...but I'm not sure, would have to check old emails. Hmmm. Sorry, that wasn't very helpful!

Strawberryyog said...

Yes, I wondered. To me, they sound close but not necessarily identical, but then watching it on TV (especially ours!) then listening to it on the MP3 player or the stereo is not comparing apples with other apples, or whatever the saying is. :)

Strawberryyog said...

PS I am so glad you picked up on the Helpful Young Person cue! That's you, that is.