« Previous | Main | Next »

The Troubadours Of Perception

Stuart Bailie | 18:29 UK time, Friday, 6 April 2007

Stuart Bailie.jpgThere’s a production line in some infernal factory that’s turning out troubadours by the yard. Each of them has a weedy, trembling voice. The vast majority have sunken cheeks and a sprig of facial hair. They have acoustic Martin guitars and biographies that stress their sorrowful lives, their dysfunctional families, their fatal love affairs. They have suffered, and now it’s our turn.

They’re called James and Paolo, Scott and Ray. They can bleat for Britain. They apparently represent the most precious feelings, the apogee of jazz freedom, the most expressive beats of the heart.

But really, aren’t they rather feeble, sorry-livered and generic? I would advise anyone who ever buys one of these irksome little releases to head directly to the wellspring. Wouldn’t they prefer some Nick Drake, Tim Buckley or Fred Neil? People who were originators, not some fifth generation warblers? What about Karen Dalton or David Ackles, or even a taste of Paul Simon? And by rights, everyone should now have a copy of ‘Astral Weeks’ by Van Morrison, the ultimate in jazz-soul meanderings.

Tomorrow, I will review Jack Savoretti on Radio Ulster’s Saturday magazine. Sorry, but he’s rubbish. I don’t really want to go there, but it’s been strongly suggested that I do so. I told presenter Kim Lenaghan that it’s really not my bag, that these puny guys don’t move me. “There can never be enough sensitive guys with guitars and emotional songs and cute facial hair,” she says, emphatically.

So am I too much of a bloke to get it?

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 03:10 PM on 07 Apr 2007,
  • Reggie Chamberlain-King wrote:

Oddly, I was thinking about exactly this when Mr David Gray's version of 'Say Hello, Wave Goodbye' surprised me this morning.

I can't help but think that this sort of music is inherently male and bloke-ish; the bumbling inarticulacy, the lack of precision in their expression. In fact, the very act of putting it in such unimaginative musical form seems like a mechanism to distance the performer from the emotion with which they want to deal.

The fact that Mr Gray could concoct a nebulous, indistinct mess from such a narratively clear song, performed as it was with such emotional unambiguity by Mr Almond, is mystifying.

There is a spectrum of music like this, on which the latest batch are at the worst end. Mr Morrison and Mr Drake, though more talented, batter away with the same lack of discrimination. Mr Simon is the only one who sounds like he aged beyond 15.

Hey Stu

I'm in total agreement - but I wonder what you make of Fionn Regan. I think he's a little genius, and will be in the front row when he plays the empire, flicking my floppy fringe with abandon.

Also - your man Gray tried to inject his awful cover of 'Say Hello, Wave Goodbye' with some integrity by freestyling some lines from Astral Weeks at the end. The vagabond!

Keep blogging!


  • 3.
  • At 05:15 PM on 09 Apr 2007,
  • Stuart Bailie wrote:

No bonus points for name-checking 'Madam George' during a puny version of 'Say Hello, Wave Goodbye'. Neither do you get any extra kudos from shaking your head in a meaningful way. while we're talking Soft Cell, have you every heard the 12 inch version of '...Hello' with the clarinet solo? Deadly!

Oh aye, Fionn Regan is well ahead of the bleaters' division.

  • 4.
  • At 11:30 AM on 10 Apr 2007,
  • Vivien Gleason wrote:

I agree with the your comments on sad blokes with guitars! Get over it, love! Give me some Snow Patrol or Duke Special! Way to go! Hopefully with singer/songwriters some day it will be "Where are they now"!

This post is closed to new comments.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.