Wild Mercury Sound

Lee Hazlewood, Devendra Banhart, plus Kanye West meets Will Oldham

John Mulvey

I remembered to bring in some Lee Hazlewood this morning, so we're starting the day with "Requiem For An Almost Lady". John Robinson, our Reviews Editor, just told me how he once received a "hate fax" from the great man, after calling him, affectionately, a "prickly old bastard" in a live preview.

"Dear John," Hazlewood wrote, "referring to someone as a prickly old bastard may be fine and proper where you come from, but in Texas it could be a call for the loosening of some, if not all, of your teeth."

On to "Cowboy In Sweden" now, and the fantastic "Leather & Lace", and it occurs me that Hazlewood could be seen as a kind of American Serge Gainsbourg; a lugubrious prankster, embedded in his country's cultural traditions but wryly subverting them at the same time. Both of them liked playing the beast in theatrical, sexually fraught duets, too, of course.

The big difference between the two, I guess, is that Gainsbourg is revered in France, while Hazlewood's influence in America has been more covert. Hazlewood, let's not forget, helped sire the careers of Duane Eddy, Phil Spector and Gram Parsons, as well as authoring his own rich narratives. We'll play some more as the day goes on.

Couple of other things to have a look at today. One is a big teaser for the Devendra Banhart album, which, yes, I really will try and preview before the end of the week. This is a lovely video for "Seahorse", which shows Banhart and his chums (the one without the beard is Gael Garcia Bernal, incidentally) pottering about their Topanga Canyon home studio while one of the highlights from "Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon" reveals itself to be yet another epic David Crosby/"Golden Brown"/Jim Morrison & Crazy Horse hybrid.

Next up, check out this ridiculous new video from Kanye West. It's not the "Stronger" tune which features Daft Punk, but a much weaker, I-am-famous whinge called "Can't Tell Me Nothing" which might just be the worst thing West has ever done (I might try and hear the new album next week, so bear with me on this one).

Never mind the music, though. The video doesn't feature West, but instead stars some American comic called Zach Galifianakis who I must admit I've never heard of. Galifianakis, is a hairy redneck farmer with a chainsaw, who mimes along to West's portentous waffle while cavorting over some heavy agricultural machinery.

As is traditional with rap videos, Galifianakis has some mean-looking guy loitering behind him as moral support, who turns up to be Will Oldham, hamming brilliantly. If you've ever longed to see Bonnie Prince Billy booty dancing near some cows, or dry-humping a digger - and come on, haven't we all? - here's your chance.


Editor's Letter

Robert Wyatt interviewed: "I'm not a born rebel..."

Today (January 28, 2015), social media reliably informs me that Robert Wyatt is 70, which seems a reasonable justification for reposting this long and, I hope, interesting transcript of an interview I did with him at home in Louth back in 2007, a little before the marvellous “Comicopera” was...