Archives for October 2008

Memphis In The Meantime

Stuart Bailie | 19:27 UK time, Friday, 31 October 2008

The songwriter Robbie Robertson says you always know you're in the American South because the audience claps on the off-beat. There's a similar line of thought on the new album by Amy LaVere, 'Anchors And Anvils'. She's continuously looking for the groove, the syncopation, the swamp dimension

AmyLaVere.jpgAmy has her own philosophy about the wellspring of American music. She says it's in the current of the Mississippi River, that runs fresh in northern parts and disgorges near New Orleans, where the current is slow, muddy and strange. But in Memphis, she reckons, the pace is just about perfect. That's where she made the record with legendary producer Jim Dickinson (Aretha, The Stones, The Replacements) and the mood is ideal.

It was successfully transported to the Opera House, Belfast on Monday night, where Amy supported Seasick Steve .Earlier in the day, she met with myself in the BBC studios, where she gave a top interview. Tune in tonight at 10pm for the results.

Poppa's Got A Brand New Blag

Stuart Bailie | 21:35 UK time, Thursday, 30 October 2008

Back in 1847, William Makepeace Thackeray was writing about the art of the blag. The book was Vanity Fair, the characters were Becky Sharp and Rawdon Crawley and the storyline was all about living it large, for free. You can follow their scrapes in chapter 36, entitled 'How To Live Well On Nothing A Year'.

Back in 1985 something similar appeared on the television. It was called Ligmalion, and it portrayed a layer of London life that was negotiated by the blag, the pose, the front and the guestlist. Plus one, mate. Tim Curry was in the drama, so was Sting. I also recall Alexi Sayle singing some kind of Brechtian street ballad. It probably wasn't the greatest show in the world but I was impressed by the idea that you could somehow reinvent yourself in the teeming metropolis, loving it, digging it and ligging it. The theme song from Ligmalion, possibly sung by Alix Sharkey from i-D magazine, proclaimed, "we don't need the cash to get in White Trash, we walk right in the door".

Within weeks I was in London, and I'd talked myself onto the guest list of The Marquee club on Wardour Street. I can't remember the name of the band, but the sense of elation was immense. Soon I was getting by as an apprentice blagger, swanning into Ronnie Scott's on Frith Street, and even getting my buckshee admission to the Wag Club. I had no money, but drinks were often complimentary and the canapés were ongoing. In time, I could schedule my social life through album launch parties, showcase gigs, product launches and PR schmoozes. On a good night you could finish your social whirl by seeing a clatter of great bands in some squalid bar, fortified by the music industry cash that was still hurtling around Soho.

Motorbike couriers would despatch piles of records to your door, there were branded T-shirts, Filofaxes and even record company pyjamas. It was oddly immoral, but somehow you could still get away with writing snotty reviews and ill-informed diatribes. On one memorable occasion, I commissioned a guy called Steven Wells to review a Little Richard box set for the NME. His opening line was "Yowsa, what a blag!" And y'know, he was just about right.

Hobo, Let's Go

Stuart Bailie | 09:05 UK time, Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Bob Dylan famously stated that "when you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose". The fella had a bulging bank account at the time of writing 'Like a Rolling Stone', and therein lies the contradiction. This is also something that will dog the profile of Seasick Steve for the rest of his days.

seasick.jpgHis line is simple and stomping blues, played on cheap instruments. His garb is American workwear and freewheeling chic, all the better to ride those freight trains. And his lyrical bent is aimed at the non-material, the downhome and the priceless freedoms. His new mission statement: 'I Started Out With Nothing. And Still Got Most Of It Left' nails it rather sweetly.

Critics will say that for all of the humility and penny pinching, Steve is now signed to a major record label, his fortunes are on the rise and ticket prices have also increased rather steeply. Steve seems impervious to all this at the Opera House Belfast, as he hollers, scrapes at the strings and glugs at a bottle of something potent.

Whatever his fortunes may be, Steve is old enough to look at his situation with wry amusement. He's had the heart attack, he's gotten the bad tattoos and he's not spending any more on his guitars. His use of the wooden chairs and cushions in his stage act is a bit cute, but the music is still vital and the guy is full of praise for Belfast and the Open House Festival, which essentially gave Steve the chance to walk away from a passable band situation to the solo acclaim that he now enjoys.

Playlist 24.10.08

Stuart Bailie | 19:26 UK time, Sunday, 26 October 2008

Duke Ellington hasn't crossed my path too many times but I'm so glad that I've been introduced to 'Such Sweet Thunder'. It's a jazz response to Shakespeare from 1957 and while the idea may seem tremendously pretentious, the music is supreme.

ellington.jpgThanks to my cultural attache, Reggie Chamberlain-King, who brought the tune along to our music and poetry programme a few weeks ago. It didn't make the final cut, but I was glad to give the recording its due on Friday. By way of thanks, I also played The Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra, a track that's been graced by the pen of Chamberlain-King. It's somewhere between arch and heart-felt, and may sit gracefully beside the works of Stephin Merritt, Jake Shillingford and maybe Luke Haines.

Playlist 24.10.08

BBC Radio Ulster, 92-95 FM
Fridays, ten - midnight

Bobby Bland - Let's Get Together (Soul Jazz)
Jolie Holland - Mexico City (Anti)
Burning Codes - See The Colours (Coded)
Burning Codes - Light Is Coming (Coded)
Ian McCullough - Suzanne (Mojo)
The Uglysuit - Anthem Of The Arctic Birds (Quarterstick)
BB King - Sitting On Top Of The World (Geffen)
Elle How - Numb (live session)
Elle How - Let It Go (live session)
The Killers - Human (Vertigo)
The Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra - Thank You For Not Discussing The Outside World

Nina Simone - Ain't Got No ( EagleRock )
Jenny Lewis - Godspeed (Rough Trade)
Al Kooper - Let The Dutchess (SPV)
Danny And The Champions - Still Believe (Loose)
Billy Bragg - Levi Stubbs Tears (Go Discs)
Frank Turner - Long Live The Queen (xtra mile)
Duke Ellington - Such Sweet Thunder (Sony)
Lila Downs - Perro Negra (Manhattan)
Eugene McGuinness - Moscow State Circus (Domino)
The Smiths - There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (Ryko)
Gina Villalobos - Can't Find My Way Home (Face West)
Rod Stewart - Mandolin Wind (Rhino)

Smack, Crackle & Pop

Stuart Bailie | 09:19 UK time, Friday, 24 October 2008

One of the dumbest things I've ever seen on a stage was when Pete Docherty picked up a tie that a fan had thrown towards him. He wrapped it around his bicep and went through a pretend ritual of tying up and mainlining heroin. The crowd cheered of course. They'd been given their very own moment of waster mythology.

Music culture has given us a load of poster boys for heroin use. Charlie Parker and Keith Richards are top of the list. Johnny Thunders was known for little else. When Phil Lynott died, the veins in his feet were scored with track marks, testimony of his sad, furtive demise. Even Primal Scream had to part with a few of their team when the lifestyle damaged the operation.

It's not terribly cool. Neither was last night's documentary, Mum, Heroin And Me. It was made in the old school, liberal style, Even though Hannah McKenzie was a rather wretched figure and her 21st birthday was doused in junk and bad comedy, were were urged to look for the humanity. Her childhood was messy and her addictions had come early. But still her mother Kate was pulling for her and controversially, helping her to score. Her ethos was that if you give your child an aura of projected love, then something has been achieved.

You were hoping for deliverance but the reprieve was too recent to document - a trip to a rehab clinic in South Africa. Arguably a rather middle class solution, but you suppose it's hard-earned family money and you wish them the result they're looking for.

Anyone For Panamania?

Stuart Bailie | 09:28 UK time, Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Monday night, upstairs at Auntie Annie's on Belfast's Dublin Road. It's been a year since I saw The Panama Kings at this same venue. Back then, it was a mid-ranking bill, no major promises. But they had a tremendous jolt in the tunes, they carried themselves with grubby aplomb and Niall was roaring well.

I've seen them a dozen times since and their rise has been steady. Tonight they will mark the pending arrival of the new single 'Children' by playing new songs, trashing the drum kit and inviting their appreciative punters back to a party on Eglantine Avenue.

DJ and mixer Alex Metric is in the crowd, looking properly entertained, ahead of a studio collaboration with the band. Longstanding fanboys are screaming out lyrics, balancing on each other's shoulders and having royal fun. The PKs now have English management. One of them is Matthew Priest, occasional drummer with Dodgy. This is essentially a good thing.

The gig also works as a social club for the indie subculture. I see bits of Ed Zealous, The Cutaways, Tracer AMC, The Lowly Knights, Desert Hearts, Sparks Fly, Robyn G Shields, the No Dancing Team, Three Tales, the AU gang plus sundry bloggers, designers, chancers and twitter-heads. Critical mass, and then some.

Promotional Rescue

Stuart Bailie | 23:14 UK time, Sunday, 19 October 2008

Friday night and Duke Special was live on the Late Late Show in Dublin, romping along to 'Sweet Sweet Kisses' in the company of the Specular Choir. On Saturday morning, the entire posse marched along Grafton Street and took a steer into the HMV shop where they performed a bunch of songs from the new album. Then they hopped onto a big old bus and headed for Belfast in the company of 40 fans.

This time, they trooped along High Street for another HMV appearance, where quite a throng of people waited afterwards to get their albums signed. Some admirers were buying in bulk, standing in line with maybe five albums in all. It was a delight to watch and the onstage fun was filled out by The Lowly Knights, also blamming away with intense smiles.


Finally, the piano was lifted out and transported around the corner to a location on Gordon street, where the third concert of the day was staged. There were no microphones and the only amplification was Paul Pilot's semi acoustic guitar. The choir were dressed as pirates, Duke was in dressed like an Eighteenth Century ether drinker and the music ranged from the plainly entertaining ('Down At The Old Bull And Bush') to the tear-loosening ('Why Does Anybody Love'). The choir performed a manic rendition of 'Watching The Detectives', we heard a daft lyric called 'Paul Pilot I Like Your Bones' while the Lowly Knights hollered through 'Devotion'.

It was lit by simple candles, the music was unaffected and the emotional impact was huge. The boy is still playing a blinder.

Playlist 17.10.08

Stuart Bailie | 15:59 UK time, Saturday, 18 October 2008

A friend of mine once asked his gran to buy him a T Rex album for Christmas. Come December 25, the old dear produced a long player by Joe Tex and poor Nigel was devastated. These days I'd be delighted if somebody would buy me a Joe Tex platter, but hey, you can't go wrong with some Marc Bolan.

trex.jpgEven though he was a hippie traitor who snubbed John Peel, I still like the Bolan tunes, and he could deliver the boogie in a rather endearing fashion. We used to play a battered copy of 'Metal Guru' round at a mate's house. The single was kept hidden under the bed because his parents thought it was degenerate, and it probably was.

Anyway, Danny from Cashier No. 9 also likes Marc and his boogie down productions, so it passed a few charming moments last Friday night. My fave T Rex song would probably be 'Ride A White Swan' because it reminds me of a summer activity scheme at Lead Hill Primary Scool, forever ago. I'm also strangely moved by 'The Soul Of My Suit', especially the middle verse:

"You ravished the runes of my tunes
You put on the gloves of my loves
But you're not such a bad girl - oh no."

You gotta have a little Marc in your heart.

BBC Radio Ulster, 92-95 FM


Fridays, ten - midnight

Echo And The Bunnymen - The Cutter (WEA)
Conor Oberst - I Don't Want To Die In The Hospital (Wichita)
Cashier No 9 - I Kid you Not (live session)
Ryan Adams - Fix It (Lost Highway)
Los Campesinos - Documented Minor Emotional Breakdown (Wichita)
Cashier No 9 - The Face Don't Fit (live session)
T Rex - Light Of Love (EMI)
Still Flyin - Good Thing It's A Ghost Town (Moshi Moshi)
The Clash - Tommy Gun (live at Shea Stadium) (Sony/BMG)
The Jim Jones - Revue - Rock 'N' Roll Psychosis (Punk Rock Blues)
Lucinda Williams - Circles And Xs (Lost Highway)
Friendly Fires - Paris (XL)
Ry Cooder - Little Sister (Ryko)

Duke Special - Those Proverbs We Made In The Winter Must End (Universal)
The Doors - Moonlight Drive (Elektra)
Joseph Arthur - Temporary People (Fargo)
The Impressions - Choice Of Colours (Charly)
Seasick Steve - Walkin' Man (Warner)
Burning Codes - Light Is Coming (Coded)
Paul Weller - That's Entertainment (live at the BBC) (Island)
Howling Bells -Into The Chaos (Independiente)
Warren Zevon - I'll sleep When I'm Dead (Rhino)
Liam Finn - Better To Be (Transgressive)
Mercury Rev - Butterflys Wing (V2)
Craig Armstrong - Stay (Melankolic)

Cashier Genius

Stuart Bailie | 09:11 UK time, Friday, 17 October 2008

Ten years ago there was a vivid confederation of young artists from Carryduff. They called themselves Cecil's Flea Circus. They made music and tinkered with multimedia and on one memorable occasion they arrived at The Limelight in Belfast in a spaceship made of cardboard and tinfoil.

They should have been our version of Super Furry Animals or even a match for that Bristol combo The Moonflowers. At very best, we might have hoped for the Wu Tang Clan of Co Down. Instead, they fractured into tiny creative pieces, still affecting the cultural climate in their own ways.

cashierno9-1.jpgDanny Todd was the baby of the Flea Circus. But he held his own in the chaos and after the meltdown, he became a feature of Alloy Mental. He's worked with David Holmes, has rocked New York and played the Electric Proms in London. You may know him as the fabulous Cashier No. 9. Tonight, he will be on my radio show (10pm until midnight, 92-95FM, online at Hopefully he will be doing a version of '42 West Avenue', currently available as a single and further proof of the guy's ongoing finesse.

Stone, Me

Stuart Bailie | 08:49 UK time, Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Last week I showed you my old Ian Brown mask, worn at Glastonbury 1995 to compensate for the non-appearance of the Stone Roses. By chance I've just come across an image taken in the backstage area, where a prancing muppet from Take That had just collided with Oasis. The results were rather alarming.

ianbrownrobbie.jpgOne moment, Robbie Williams was playing soccer with some mates, seemingly happy. Then suddenly he looked confused, his pupils were pinballing and his heavily protected pop image was starting to slough off him like an old skin. It probably didn't help to be accosted by some loon in a cardboard mask, but hey, I had my job to do, also.

There were many casualties at Glasto that year, notably Evan Dando, sometime heart throb with The Lemonheads. The fella really lost it. Another time, another story...

McQueen Is Dead

Stuart Bailie | 09:27 UK time, Monday, 13 October 2008

Peter Kay can do a good approximation of an Ulster transsexual. That's a rare talent and for that reason, we should commend the fella. And with Geraldine McQueen set to make her mark on the pop charts with 'Winner's Song' we may have the first female from Norn Iron to make those giddy heights since Sinead Quinn rocked out of Irvinestown in 2002.

But blimey, the show wasn't much good. Britain's got The Pop Factor And Possibly A New Jesus Christ Superstar Strictly On Icegeraldine.JPG might have delivered a few scything blows to the nation's reliance on audition programmes, mawkish fame journeys and vile balladeering. We wanted satire but we got "affectionate spoof".

This allowed original culprits like Neil 'Foxy' Fox, Peter Waterman and Nicki Chapman to make light of their own behaviour when a Nuremberg Trial for music crimes would have been more fitting. Weirdly, Paul McCartney and Ricky Kaiser Chief were also featured. My kids thought it was just another reality show. It wasn't much more, really.

Playlist 10.10.08

Stuart Bailie | 15:03 UK time, Sunday, 12 October 2008

Our poetry hour last Friday night was capital fun. Myself and the Late Show's Cultural Attache, Reggie Chamberlian King, running amok in the classics. Reggie even brought along the scones and jam. It was the first time that Sir John Betjeman has made the selection and I hope it won't be the last. After all, he's left his mark on The Divine Comedy and Morrissey, who pilfered a line or two for 'Every Day Is Like Sunday'.

So we referenced Lorca, Kerouac, Joyce and Dylan Thomas and weren't even remotely tempted to play one of those flatulent versions of 'Down By The Sally Gardens'. The Louis McNeice version by Andy White and Jackie Leven was properly mad, but it had to be done, really.

Playlist 10.10.08

BBC Radio Ulster, 92-95 FM

Fridays, ten - midnight

First hour - music and poetry special

betjeman2.jpgThe Divine Comedy - Lucy (Setanta)
Sir John Betjeman - Indoor Games Near Newbury (Virgin)
Mercury Rev - Chamber Music 23 (Fire)
Ivor Cutler - My Disposition (Creation)
John Cale - Do Not Go Gentle (Hannibal)
Jackie Levin and Andy White - Come Back Early Or Never Come (Cooking Vinyl)
Leonard Cohen - Take This Waltz (CBS)
The Clash - Ghetto Defendant (CBS)
Serge Gainsbourg - Baudelaire (Mercury)
Lou Reed, Willem Dafoe, The Raven (Reprise)
Patti Smith - The Last Hotel (Ryko)
Van Morrison - Rave On John Donne (Polydor)

Second Hour - Duke Special Co-Present
Duke Special - Sweet Sweet Kisses (Universal)
Randy Newman - Ragtime Theme (Warner)
Duke Special - I Never Thought This Day Would Come (Universal)
Mark P Wetch - Last Night On The Back Porch (Wilson Audio)
Duke Special - Flesh And Blood Dance (Universal)
Harry Nilsson - Subterranean Homesick Blues (RCA)
Duke Special - Digging An Early Grave (Universal)
Daniel Benjamin - Little Bird (Haldern)
Duke Special - If I Don't Feel It (Universal)
Duke Special - Nothing You Could Do Can Bring Me Around (Universal)

They Say It's Your Birthday...

Stuart Bailie | 08:48 UK time, Friday, 10 October 2008

Yesterday was the birthday of John Lennon and son Sean and by coincidence I was on the Magical Mystery Tour, steering past Auntie Mimi's house, en route to Penny Lane. The bus was playing the hits, the tour guide was rolling out the information and inevitably, we stopped outside Strawberry Field, former Salvation Army home and major landmark.

strawberry250.jpgThere was a single flower marking the writer's birthday and plenty of graffitti to connect the fans to the scene. I've been underwhelmed by a few musical settings, but this setting was up to the legend. Jim Morrison's grave in Paris is one example of what happens when clownish admirers create havoc, but Liverpool carries it well. Apart from the poor council worker who has to replace the Penny Lane street signs, which are routinely nicked...

Liverpool 2008 is strong on music, and an exhibition called The Beat Goes On takes up a fair part of the World Museum. The obvious names are hailed, but they also credit everyone from Ken Dodd to A Flock Of Seagulls. Meantime, the Hard Day's Night Hotel is doing decent business, although the Two Of Us wedding room was disappointingly vacant.

Joyriders On The Storm

Stuart Bailie | 20:47 UK time, Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Like many people with an interest in the local music scene, I've been dismayed by the story of Jonny Black and his experiences in Derry. Two of his cars have been stolen in the city. On the most recent occasion, his vintage Golf, lovingly restored, was stolen and then burnt. Inside was his equally vintage equipment, Fender and Orange and Gibson.

Jonny is one of the good guys on the scene. He's the loose-mannered guitarist in LaFaro, looking chill but master of the wiry riff, the soaring distortion. He plays some country music on the side, and when I last saw the fella, he was cranking away at Johnny Cash in the basement of McHugh's, grinning plenty.

ratk226.jpgIn response, Derry is throwing an impressive fund-raiser on October 17 at the Nerve Centre. The title 'Rage Against The Joyriders' is a spiky response that's turning into a collective gesture. And while rock and roll is traditionally on the side of anti-social behaviour, this marks a significant turn. If you don't mind a bit of robust language, read some online comments here. You may event chose to gift the fella some financial help here.

Solidarity is definitely a theme of the year, with some November concerts in Belfast organised under that very banner. In this latter instance, the energy is being channelled by And So I Watch You From Afar, but the bonhomie is widespread and seems genuine. We've often been an argumentative lot in the past, but 2008 is like a strange social experiment: a coming of age and a selective use of the rage.

I Am The Insubordination

Stuart Bailie | 09:13 UK time, Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Another forage in the archives and another rare find. It's my Ian Brown mask, worn with amusing style at Glastonbury in 1995. Yes, in a rather roundabout way, I was a member of the Stone Roses at a major music event. And since you're asking, I had a rather good time of it.

ianbrown250.jpgThe band was due to play at that particular festival, their first UK show in years. Their major label album, 'The Second Coming' had been overdue and under-inspired, but still the expectation was massive. And then guitarist John Squire broke his collarbone in a bizarre cycling accident in California, just ahead of the date. Their fans were gutted, so we decided to bring the band to Somerset anyways.

So myself and three others spent a day clambering around the fields of Glasto, wearing masks of the band members. We threw our best King Monkey shapes and got a few laughs. In the hospitality field, we socialised with Liam Gallagher, who saw the fun in the mischief, and Robbie Williams, who was hours away from leaving Take That and was looking exceedingly confused.

The photos came out well, and it made for a silly feature in the NME. The band was replaced at the festival by Pulp, who played the show of their lives and ascended to the pop throne, while the Roses were fixing to wither.

Playlist 03.10.08

Stuart Bailie | 09:55 UK time, Sunday, 5 October 2008

I'm not inclined to play Teenage Fanclub often these days, but at a choice time, it's still a pleasure. And while the tunes from 'Bandwagonesque' will always have a special value, my favourite is a later song, 'Ain't That Enough'.

tfc.jpgIt's got a woozy sense of wonderment. It speeds up and slows down. The harmonies are boss and the mention of 'toytown feelings' makes sense. The song was the very first that I played on my Friday night show in September 1999 and it kind of summarised everything that I would want in a radio show: affection, cool, accessibility, lovely taste and music that touches on so many eras and dimensions.

I was with Radiohead in a bar in New York in 1997 and Teenage Fanclub walked in. Thom and Colin's reaction was comical. The authors of 'OK Computer' were practically on their knees, paying respect, heaping on the compliments, pure fans.

BBC Radio Ulster, 92-95 FM


Fridays, ten - midnight
Teenage Fanclub - Ain't That Enough (Creation)
Duke Special - Sweet Sweet Kisses (Universal)
TV On The Radio - Halfway Home (4ad)
Stevie Wonder - Jesus Children Of America (Motown)
Cashier No 9 - 42 West Avenue (No Dancing)
Seasick Steve - One True (Warner)
The Long Lost - The Art Of Kissing (Ninja)
Antony And The Johnsons - Another World (Rough Trade)
Walter Becker - Somebody's Saturday Night (Sonic 360)
Emily Barker - Breath (Everyone)
Paul Weller - Sea Spray (Island)
Lila Downs - Minimum Wage (Blue Note)
Mercury Rev - Runaway Raindrop (V2)
Friendly Fires - Paris (XL)

The Beat - Tears Of A Clown (2 Tone)
Punch And The Apostles - I'm A Hobo (Lucky Number Nine)
John Mellencamp - My Sweet Love (Universal)
Peter Broderick - And It's Alright (Bella Union)
Garland Jeffries - Moonshine On The Cornfield (SPV)
Bob Dylan - Most Of The Time (Columbia)
Lucinda Williams - Real Love (Lost Highway)
Lambchop - Slipped Dissolved And Loosened (City Slang)
Ralph Stanley - Ridin That Midnight Train (Rebel)
Emmy The Great - We Almost Had A Baby (Close Harbour)
Sparklehorse - Spirit Ditch (Parlophone)
Leo Abrahams, Foy Vance - Epilogue (Mercury)
Glen Campbell, Bobbie Gentry - Mornin Glory (Capitol)
Our Krypton Son - Catalonian Love Song (white)

Adventures In The Slipstream

Stuart Bailie | 18:54 UK time, Friday, 3 October 2008

Van Morrison playing 'Astral Weeks'? In sequence, at the Hollywood Bowl, November 7-8? With some of the original musicians?? When I read this story on the man's official website, I almost dropped my bacon sandwich. Surely a wind-up?

Apparently not. There's even a statement of intent from Mr Morrison.

astral.jpg"This is a welcomed opportunity for me to perform these songs the way I originally intended them to be," says Morrison. "It's about the world of creation and of the imagination: That is what a song is, a little movie with melodies and music built around it, poetry in moving pictures in the mind. In the '60's and '70s the record companies did not support the music, so I never got to take these songs on tour, and I certainly did not have the money to do it. These songs are as timeless and fresh right now as the day they were written and I am happy about taking them to the Hollywood Bowl."

Stepping lightly, just like a ballerina....

Ground Control To Minor Tom

Stuart Bailie | 23:03 UK time, Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Tonight's episode of The Family delivered more tension, uncontrolled rage and sporadic laughter. By now, we've come to understand that each week allows a character to come into particular focus. It's closer to William Faulkner than Big Brother and the edits are supreme. This time we witnessed 14 year old Tom, perpetually wired on computer games, household rivalries and rubbish sleeping patterns.

tom.jpgFather Simon is blowing his stack again. "You haven't invented over-tiredness," he bleats. The boy yawns plenty, and makes like an invertebrate at the dining table. Sister Emily carries the bruises from a recent Tom tussle. She's milking her status as a martyr. Dad is gurning in a smiley T-shirt while mother delivers her weekly catch-phrase: "why are you shouting?"

They are shouting because they are stupendously dysfunctional. And by way of a get-out, we tend to see them making up at the end, lolling around to Bob Marley and 'Could You Be Loved'. Adorable.

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