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Sunday, August 20, 2006

I, Lucifer

This song, by The Real Tuesday Weld, is the latest ear worm to writhe within the tortured confines of my head. Enjoy.

The Ugly and the Beautiful

Well after all that we've been through
Would you still call this love baby?
Cause love's the only proof
That the ugly could be beautiful
God knows I'm feeling spent
Though I've still got my money honey
Money's the revenge
Of the ugly on the beautiful

Well the drugs just ain't enough
Though I like the way they made us crazy
But love's the only drug
It turns the ugly into beautiful
And I can't tell you why
I'm still so much afraid of dying
Dying reconciles
The ugly with the beautiful

Though we've been burned by it
Let's still believe in love
Cause love's the greatest gift
Of the ugly to the beautiful

The MP3 of the song can be obtained here. The French version, La Bete et la belle, is even more playful, IMHO.

A brief blurb by Declan Gunn about this London-based artist:

Equal parts stage-savvy showman and pop-music mastermind, Stephen Coates (aka the Real Tuesday Weld) has a biting wit and snappy style that beautifully meets and matches the genuine human angst and emotion rising from his dark yet snazzy little balls of melodramatic pop splendor. Lots of flavor in there, so keep chewing.

It’s a lot to ask: Write songs about love, death, time and memory. Inform them with a narrative and musical sensibility at once intelligent, wry, witty, playful and profound. Be understated yet poetic, romantic yet post-modern, English yet universal. Admit your worst fears and failings, but remain charming and irresistably cool. Pay homage to heroes as far apart as Al Bowlly and Serge Gainsbourg, pass the sparkling style and champagne spirit of the '20s and '30s through a no-nonsense 21st century filter. Be accessible and sophisticated. And when you’ve written these songs, punctuate them with instrumental interludes to catch those of Psyche’s moods and Cupid’s moments language is apt to miss.

It’s a lot to ask. But, having been visited in a dream by the aforementioned Bowlly, one-man-industry The Real Tuesday Weld (a.k.a. Stephen Coates, a.k.a. The Clerkenwell Kid) has made it his working brief. Urban anatomist of love and sampler par excellence, The Real Tuesday Weld has honed a musical method of succinct composition and delivery ("antique beat", as he’s been wont to call it) that has the effect common to all nifty invention: it makes you wonder why no one’s done it before.

His first full-length release, When Cupid Meets Psyche, provided the stylistic range at which its shorter predecessor, The Valentine EP, had hinted, with songs that were, according to the U.K.'s Q Magazine, “…warm and welcoming as well as arty… a gypsy knees-up, a psychedelic bossa latino, the polite reeds of a ‘30s dance band crushed by booming hip-hop bass…”. A nice niche to nestle in; but I, Lucifer, his Six Degrees debut, has new territory to explore. Conceived as a soundtrack to Glen Duncan’s novel of the same title, the album gives us the Devil’s take on humanity, and The Real Tuesday Weld’s take on our favourite sins. The result is a mischievous, astute, funny, and ultimately melancholy collection, “…meticulously arranged, touching, intimate, and with mesmerising melodies… superbly atmospheric…” - Uncut (U.K.), delivered with the assistance of an eclectic mix of collaborators. The track "Someday (never)" contains an extraordinary performance by Coates’s long-time friend and Grammy award nominee Martyn Jacques, of castrati-cabaret stars the Tiger Lilies. Scottish jazz chanteuse Pinkie McClure features on the Bond themesque "One More Chance," while Gallic crooner David Guez provides the chanson anglaise strains of "La Bete et La Belle". Antique horn embellishments are courtesy of Dutch aristocrat Jacques Van Rhijn.

A near-death epiphany in icy waters off the Siberian coast inspired another ongoing collaborator, Brooklyn-based Russian animator Alex Budovskiy, to create the international award-winning, Sundance-nominated video for the track "Bathtime in Clerkenwell", which is a multi-media element on the CD. This visual extravaganza features (what else?) an army of cuckoos colonising first one apartment, then Clerkenwell, then the whole of London.

There’s no handy summation. These are songs that speak intimately of intimacy and dispassionately of passion, but never at the expense of humour, brevity, or that much maestro-neglected phenomenon, the Tune. You can listen, you can shuffle around the lounge with a pink gin and a cheroot, you can ponder. You can even - if you’re that way inclined - groove.


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