Firmly established as Scotland's most exciting arts extravaganza outwith the Central Belt, the ABERDEEN ALTERNATIVE FESTIVAL boasts a stronger line-up every year. We give you just a few reasons why you should take
in those Northern Lights.
I a preVIew
Ginger spice Entrepreneurial genius or charlatan extraordinaire? Decide for yourself as MALCOLM McLAREN spouts forth on casinos, karaoke and Cool Britannia.
Words: Mark Robertson
To say Malcolm McLaren has strong opinions on things is like saying the Queen has a few bob or Michael Jackson has maybe had a bit of plastic surgery. At the drop of
: anything, never mind a hat, he will
shower you with pearls of wisdom from his philosophies on life, the universe and anything else that particularly takes his fancy.
The original ginger whinger will use his visit to the north-east to continue his ranting, raving and expostulating. 'l've given something in the region of several hundred lectures over the past seven years,’ reveals McLaren. He may have drawn back from the forefront of recent cultural developments but he still manages to raise both eyebrows and the stakes about what should be expected of one of Britain's last true mavericks.
In the mid-70$, he appeared on London's Kings Road, opening a shop called 'In The Back Of Paradise Garage', which would go through numerous incarnations, most notoriously as 'Sex', where he and partner in crime Vivienne Westwood sold rubber and leather
fetish gear — much to the chagrin of Scotland Yard.
It was around this time he helped set up and, in his own words, 'mismanage' the Sex Pistols. Once the punk bubble burst in 1980, he went on to diversify into pretty much anything he fancied, whether it was film, theatre,
music, TV or art.
He can be credited as a master of hybrids, consistently taking underground forms, musical or otherwise, and mixing them with others to, interesting effect. This bit and miss methodology has occasionally failed but more than often hits — his 1984 R 8. B meets opera album Fans has recently been revived and adapted for the stage.
At present, however, McLaren's interests lie elsewhere. He is
opening an installation based around his life entitled, Malcolm McLaren’s Casino Of Authenticity And Karaoke.
'Tony Blair is our first karaoke Prime Minister in a karaoke island where we can be members of a fraternity and be sold accordingly. It is a kind of life by proxy.’ Malcolm McLaren
The exhibit is a casino with a difference. 'l’ve
reconfigured all these fruit machines to play my life like a game of chance to win artefacts and reproductions
from my life.’
Karaoke king: Malcolm McLaren
These are his latest buzz words - ‘authenticity' and 'karaoke'; the search for authenticity being what we all strive for, but with the added complication that nothing is new, only reproduced like karaoke. 'Tony Blair is genuinely our first karaoke Prime Minister,’ McLaren
proudly declares. 'He is super- enthusiastic for branding a country “Cool Britannia". This obsessive quest to turn this into a karaoke island where we can be members of this fraternity and be sold accordingly. It is a kind of life by proxy.’
Many things can be said about Malcolm McLaren and his forthright, occasionally peculiar opinions, but in a pop culture where too often the artists given the bulk of the
attention have little to say, it takes a real veteran to skilfully stir it up.
I Malcolm McLaren appears at Aberdeen Arts Centre, Tue 79 Oct, 8pm, f 12 (£10); Lemon Tree, Wed 20 Oct, 9pm,
Aberdeen Fact File Who? Jimmy Webb.
Come again? Philistines! This is the man who composed such musical wonders as ’Wichita Lineman', ’Galveston’ and, most famously of all, ’By The Time I Get To Phoenix'.
A millionaire by the age of 21, he has had success as a singer, scorer for TV and film but most prominently as a songwriter. His songs have been covered by Isaac Hayes, Glen
Campbell, Donna Summer and Richard
Less of the old fogies, what do the kids think of the Webbster? ’l’ve been recorded by REM, Urge Overkill, Freddy Johnston, Shawn Colvin and others,’ he reveals. 'It's very much a measure of the original validity of the material as to whether it continues to be recorded by succeeding generations.’
So why the visit to the Granite City? Jimmy first played Scotland on his last UK tour, and loved it. 'When the folks at the festival invited me to perform, there was no doubt I'd do it if I could fit it into my schedule. I’m only sorry that I won’t be spending more time there.’
What about that pair, the Webb Brothers - any relation? His sons actually, but Webb is none too keen on them following in daddy's footsteps. ’I would much prefer my children to pursue careers in more “stable” professions as the music industry is extremely difficult — and even more so than when I started out.’
So he's an old geezer, resting on the glory of former triumphs? He’s currently working on two musicals for Broadway; he plans to continue expanding his touring; there are plans for at least three more records, producing other artists, and a few classical pieces to be knocked out if he's got time too. (Compiled by Mark Robertson)
I Jimmy Webb plays at His Majesty’s Theatre, Wed 20 Oct, f l l-f 75 (£9—f 73).
7—21 Oct 1999 THEM”