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Profile for Beowulf "Wulfie" Mayfield > Reviews

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Beowulf "Wulfie" Mayfield

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Fear of Music: Why People Get Rothko But Don't Get Stockhausen (Zero Books)
Fear of Music: Why People Get Rothko But Don't Get Stockhausen (Zero Books)
by David Stubbs
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing starting point..., 15 April 2012
The question why a public that seems happy to embrace "modern" or "challenging" art is very reluctant to devote attention to "modern" or "challenging" music is a good one and hearing the author talking about this book on the BBC Radio Today programme prompted me to seek it out.

Other reviewers have mentioned typos and strange layout and these jumped out at me as well. The paper quality is pretty poor and after a couple of days of carrying it about to read on the daily tube journey my edition became dog-eared horribly quickly.

An index would have been useful but a list of suggested listing and further reading would have been even better. However, indexing costs money which seems to be in short supply for most things associated with music...

The book moves between potted history of music and art in the 20th Century - comparisons between musical movements and arts movements such Dada and Futurism were very interesting albeit sketchy. To the book's credit, I've since sought out the music of Edgard Varese on the strength of the author's account of his work. If a book can lead to new listening and further reading then it's done good work for my money.

In terms of explaining why the world appears to be so afraid of "modern" music, it's not really going to settle any arguments for the people who sit up half the night debating such things. Similarly, and doesn't give much in the way of fresh hope for those who have ever tried to scrape together a living in the world of new music. Still, all credit to David Stubbs for putting the all-important question out there.

Lomography Supersampler Pearl
Lomography Supersampler Pearl

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great after a shakey start, 20 July 2010
I saw many funky pictures taken with one of these and decided I wanted to join the party. Sadly my first two films came back and not a single frame was in focus... I was most disappointed. I sent it back and it was immediately replaced - a close inspection of the new one revealed the original was missing its optics!

Anyway, the replacement gives me lovely multi-framed shots - curious slices of life with slightly muted colours and the end frame ever so slightly over-exposed. Apparently this could be cured by unscrewing the body and fiddling with the mechanism but I don't fancy that really - the whole point of these plastic cameras is that they don't take pristine images.

The two shutter settings - 0.2 seconds or 2 seconds - produce interesting results. The former effectively provides four frames of the same, the latter can produce intriguing sequences - best results so far have been with a moving subject.

It doesn't look much like a camera which attracts a lot of curious looks and people who ask what it is often throw up their hands in horror when they discover there isn't a conventional viewfinder. However, others are amazed to realize that there are still things that can't be done easily with a digital camera...

The camera comes with a couple of booklets which are very colourful and have lots of great photos to look at BUT the text is rendered almost unreadable by the seriously over-funky design style employed. The whole kit comes in a chunky plastic box which is far too big to carry the camera about in.

Overall, a very fun piece of kit which provides a lovely "alternative" take on snapshotting.

Pocket Money Photography (Piccolo Books)
Pocket Money Photography (Piccolo Books)
by Christopher Wright
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars An inspirational adventure, 4 Sept. 2009
I was given a copy of this book when I was about ten or 11 years old and had many satisfying hours following the various experiments described in it. It starts out by explaining how to making your own pinhole camera and develop your own photos. It then takes the reader onto the old 120 film cameras and explains how to develop a black and white film without a film tank. There are also some interesting darkroom tricks. A very illuminating book for young would be photographers and experimenters.

The Ma Grinder
The Ma Grinder
Price: £15.10

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stretching the blues, 24 May 2002
This review is from: The Ma Grinder (Audio CD)
I stumbled on Robert Shaw's strangely dissonant piano style through a flexi-disc which came free with a book about barrel house blues piano styles and I've been hooked ever since.
Robert Shaw was a Texan who played a lively piano blues style with a hint of Jelly Roll Morton's stomp style and a big dollop of guitar-led blues moaning.
On The Cows, Shaw plays an incredible left fistfuls of notes in the left hand while the right hand plays a jangling melody with dissonances to please any fan of Thelonious Monk. In addition, there are strange structural twists such as occasional 13-bar blues measures - a mightmare scenario if he was working with a band but in solo work you hardly notice it. This is stretching the blues - and it works in this context.
Shaw's voice is a little reedy but there are wonderful bawdy lyrics and these - along with the piano work - are what really matter.
This recording made in the 1960s is clear, refreshing and highly entertaining. For a different slant on the blues, check this out. Sadly, the album represents just about everything Robert Shaw recorded since he spent most of his life running a grocery store with a piano in the back room.

Spy Vs. Spy: The Music Of Ornette Coleman
Spy Vs. Spy: The Music Of Ornette Coleman

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrash jazz at its best!, 19 May 2002
THIS album, for my money at any rate, deserves to be a cornerstone of any serious collection of contemporary jazz.
Paying homage to one of the founding fathers of avant-garde and free jazz, Ornette Coleman, this album brought the music bang up to date when it was released at the end of the 1980s.
The line-up is remarkable - two alto saxophones, two drummers and a lone double bass. The result is a lot of noise and nothing spared in the way of energy.
The music moves at a frantic pace, John Zorn and Tim Bryne screech, squeal, honk and squawk at 90mph with the double drums thundering in hot pursuit with the bass driving things along. Many tracks are barely a minute in length but that's not necessarily a bad thing - intense performance like this are best taken in shot glass measures with a pause for breath in between.
The cover artwork is pretty remarkable as well - a set of cartoon-like images which looked best on the original vinyl LP sleeve, the scaled-down CD format sadly makes the detail rather difficult to enjoy. Too bad.
Dinner jazz this ain't, this is music to set the pulse racing - when Allen Ginsberg describes angel-headed hipsters searching for an 'angry fix' in Howl, this album provides a whole set of furious aural fixes. Hear it and get hooked!

Backbeat [VHS]
Backbeat [VHS]
Offered by Discountdiscs-UK : Dispatched daily from the UK.
Price: £9.95

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The lost genius, 19 May 2002
This review is from: Backbeat [VHS] (VHS Tape)
THE treatment of Stuart Sutcliffe is good, very good, although the rest of the fledgling Beatles look terrible - particularly the George Harrison and Pete Best characters.
Overall, The Beatles are presented as a very loose set of relationships, John Lennon appears to hate everybody and while many biographies describe Lennon as a man with a twisted sense of humour, the kind of antics described in the Hunter Davis and Philip Norman biographies are missing completely. George and Paul are little more than extras much of the time which, as a devotee of history, grated rather a lot with me.
However, the film is about the relationship between Stu Sutcliffe and the beautiful Astrid Kirscher and this is dealt with sensitively and tenderness. Throughout, they are presented as beautiful people, made for each other but tragically torn apart.
Opening with Sutcliffe and Lennon being set upon by a bunch of Liverpool heavies, the die is cast for young Stu within five minutes, setting up the tragedy of this brilliant but humble and hugely likable young painter who keeps telling Lennon how great the Beatles are destined to be and seems quite happy to step aside and watch them rise to fame, happy to have stepped off the bandwaggon. Who knows, if Sutcliffe had lived he may have risen to similar heights himself in the art world. Perhaps the Sgt Pepper or Revolver album covers might have gone his way if he had been around to do them. . .
Musically, the film rocks from start to finish with excellent arrangements of classic Beatle covers and a recreation of the recording of My Bonnie with Tony Sheridan which actually comes out sounding much livlier than the original.
Although the Beatle history freak in me longs to see a film about the band in Hamburg, this is not a historical documentary. It's a film based on the tragic story of a Liverpool painter who was struck down far too young and the beautiful woman he loved - and who loved him. As a tale of tender love set against the backdrop of the Beatles in Hamburg, it's a fine film with a rocking soundtrack.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 15, 2012 1:45 PM BST

Don't Stop The Carnival
Don't Stop The Carnival
Offered by dischiniccoli
Price: £10.68

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carnival time with Sonny and Donald, 23 Dec. 2001
This review is from: Don't Stop The Carnival (Audio CD)
Live albums can be a bit of a let-down at times but this one really captures something special.
Sonny Rollins opens with an short unaccompanied tenor saxophone introduction to state the melody of the title track and then the drums kick in. After that it's carnival mood all the way and, to my ears, this is the best version of Don't Stop The Carnival ever.
For all fans of the tenor saxophone, the highlights have to be long solo improvisations on Silver City and - best of all - the haunting Autumn Nocturne. There are moments in the latter when you can hear Rollins grunting and the crowd laughing along with him - if only this gig had been filmed as well, it sounds like it was worth seeing as well as hearing.
There is groovy, electric guitar-driven funk on Camel featuring Rollins on tenor and President Hayes featuring Donald Byrd as guest trumpet player.
The album was originally released as a double vinyl package with Donald Byrd only featured on the second disc. The CD release packs everything into one disc which means you either have to fast forward or be patient until the trumpeter steps up. However, the trumpet/sax duet of Nobody Else But Me makes the wait worth it.


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cure for the winter blues, 23 Dec. 2001
This review is from: S.A.D. (Audio CD)
Billy Jenkins' SAD takes you on a journey of musical therapy through the ravages of winter blues.
The title stands for Seasonal Affected Disorder and traces the mood through the shortening days of autumn, the bleak midwinter and the grey days before spring.
Autumn is best summed up by the brilliant 'Pissed Off Boy', the mood darkens with a series of four slow blues describing the lonesome life of a musician on the road and the first signs of spring are heralded with a belting instrumental called 'Walking Back To Crappiness' in which Billy's Blues Collective is joined by the Fun Horns of Berlin. The album closes with 'Goodbye Blues' welcoming early summer but there's a hint that he'll be seeing them again. . .
Tied in with the SAD theme, Billy's love of knocking jazz icons crops up in 'Ain't Going To Play No Jazz No More' in which he pledges to 'kick away those Autumn Leaves' and 'take no more Giant Steps for mankind.'
Ultra far-out jazz takes a bashing in 'Jazz Had A Baby (And They Called It Avant Garde) - it's not that Billy doesn't like it, he just prefers not to be exposed to it: "You can play it where you want, but not in my backyard." Is this is case of musical MINBY-ism?

Distinto, Diferente
Distinto, Diferente
Offered by music_by_mail_uk
Price: £8.95

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brassy, bright, brash and brilliant, 23 Dec. 2001
This review is from: Distinto, Diferente (Audio CD)
This second release by the Afro-Cuban All-Stars is, to these ears, a marked improvement on the band's World Circuit debut album. The overall sound recording is much brighter and somehow the band sounds much, much tighter - perhaps the result of a punishing series of high profile gigs around the world in the interim.
From the outset, the music is bright and bouncy with vocals brilliantly punctuated by intricate, tightly executed brass arrangements. The rhythm section simply burns along and the spirit of the whole album has me reaching for the rum and limes on even the greyest of English days.

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