Monday, 27 June 2011

Mick Karn

I so didn't want to write this blog and had prayed and hoped that after returning to London the treatment he was receiving would allow Mick to get well but that was not to be.  Condolences to his family and friends who must be feeling his loss so deeply.  Of course its the rock and roll cliche but they must have been having a sensational jam session in heaven that day as the world lost not only the wonderful and so talented Mick Karn but Gerry Rafferty too.

Mick Karn was born in Cyprus in 1958 and moved with his family to London 3 years later.  Growing up in south-east London, he attended the Catford Boys' School where he met David Batt (later to become  David Sylvian), his brother Steve (later Steve Jansen) and Richard Barbieri.  Playing music together in the 1970's and with the addition of Rob Dean they became Japan.  Signed in the late 70's to Hansa where they created glamrock/disco based/ New York Dollesque music and then to Virgin where they acquired both critical and commercial success.  Albums such as Gentlemen Take Polaroids and Tin Drum allowed them to create both musical and visual artistry which won them fans in Europe and Japan. 
Sadly the success came at the time when the band had professional differences which became personal when Mick Karn's girlfriend moved in with David Sylvian - they disbanded at the end of a tour in Japan in 1982.  A brief reunion followed in 1991 under the name of Rain Tree Crow which produced the anonymously titled album which was very much in the style of Sylvian's solo work, the album was not a huge success. The writing and production of the album were increasingly controlled by Sylvian and the album may have stood more of a chance if it had been marketed under the Japan name which was favoured by most members, but this was prevented by Sylvian. 

Mick Karn embarked on a solo project which produced the album Titles and the single Sensitive, which I still love.  He was a regular in the Princes Trust Concerts 'Supergroups', worked with Midge Ure and then went onto form Dali's Car with Pete Murphy of Bauhaus.  He also worked with Kate Bush, Gary Numan, Bill Nelson and Joan Armatrading amongst many others.  He continued to write and record working in different styles including jazz.  It is here that there is one a great sadness to Mick's story, that despite having great success in the 1980's and being a sought after musician he struggled to maintain any standard of living from music.  In 2004 Mick returned to Cyprus with his family to allow him to continue working as a musician and artist. 

Mick Karn was more than a musician he was also a very accomplished sculptor who exhibited his work through The Hamilton Gallery as well as being a talented photographer.  But it will be as a musician that Mick will be best remembered and as a bass player who changed how the bass guitar was used as an instrument in the 1980's and onwards.  Two areas always stood out for me in Japan's music, one was Sylvian's voice and the other was Mick Karn's bass.  Do I still listen to David Sylvian - well no not much as most of his solo output I have found self-indulgent, pretentious what I often refer to as art for his sake, his Japan output I can still listen to.  But Mick Karn's bass still moves me, his sculptures I still find intriguing, a mixture of beauty and mischievous creativity.

Mick Karn's bass playing did bring a new dimension to the bassist, and so many have emulated his style since, his playing was an integral part of Japan and of the 1980's. Mick Karn was an artist with a breadth of work spanning music, sculpture and photography, as well as being a trained psychotherapist, he was a modest and thoughtful man.  His death at such a young age is a tragic loss to his family and friends, to the legions of Japan fans out there and to music and art. 
With great sadness


Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Mother's Day

Mother's Day today, Mike and Jamie took me and Mike's Mum out for a lovely meal at The Bell Hotel in Winslow, which did as it always does an excellent carvery.  Jamie and Mike had the Tomato and Basil soup as their starter which when I had a little taste was lovely, Vera and I had melon.

There was a choice of Gammon, Turkey or Beef and lots of roast potatoes, the meat and roasties were yummy and Mike and Jamie said the cheesy potato gratin was lovely too.  The gravy was excellent lovely, thick and rich.  Deserts were lovely too Jamie and I had the fudge cake, which was remarkably light.

Coffee was served in the lounge area and Jamie did the honours pouring our coffees and then had his first cup of coffee himself (very weak) which he really enjoyed.  Although not likely to be encouraged too often - don't want him being hyper and running around like the furry creature in the film Over  the Edge!!

As always at The Bell the Mums were given a gift, this time it was a pansy in a bag, I got a lovely deep purple one, whose leaves looked like velvet, it will look nice in a pot in the garden.

Reading challenge 15/16 - currently reading Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (not off my reading challenge)

Book Review - Martin Misunderstood by Karin Slaughter

Beware spoilers!

This is a novella of about 150 pages and quite easily readable in an hour or so, but an enjoyable hour!  It is different from her other books as it centres around the sad and unfortunate Martin Reed, an accountant at a toilet supply company, the butt of everyone jokes and pranks at work and the long suffering son of a cranky and foul-mouthed mother.  The book is fast paced, funny at times (not laugh out loud but amusing), well written and you can fully understand Martin's frustrations with his life.

The changes in his life come when one of his work colleagues is murdered and he is the main suspect.  It is through this that Martin meets Detective Anther Albada.  Martin is an avid reader of crime thrillers and in the book Karin Slaughter gives a nod to all of her main 'literary rivals' - Cornwell, Reichs, Evanovich etc and it is from reading these books that Martin uses as the basis for his actions when arrested.  Det Albada sees something in Martin which reminds her of herself, she has a fantasy life where her 'lesbian partner' (although she is not actually gay - just awkward and lonely) died of breast cancer which gave her kudos amongst her work colleagues and she had kept up the pretence for many years.  Martin is released from custody and another of his work colleagues dies, is Martin the killer - well he ends up on death row for the murders.  

Once there he and Albada come to an arrangement and they 'marry', is Martin the killer well we do find out, we find out why the killer committed the crimes and we also realise that Martin has a better life on death row than he did in the outside world.  As a serial killer (?), he has respect in jail, he works in the prison offices as an accountant and has Albada and she herself seems content with her lot, and his mother, well I'll let you read the book.

Reading challenge 15/16 - currently reading Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (not off my reading challenge)
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