Thursday, September 5, 2019

With A Strange Device

I had my final in-hospital chemo treatment this morning (two more weeks of tablets and I'm done) and for some reason it's made typing really hard.I keep hitting the key to the left of the one I mean to strike, for one thing.

Consequently I'm not going to do a gaming post today even though I have several in mind. Instead, here's a very short music post I've been meaning to put up for a while.

It's a truly miraculous cover of one of Brian Eno's best songs, Baby's on Fire. The band is Nightmare and the Cat.

I found it purely by chance when I was trawling YouTube for bands with animal names, something I do surprisingly often. It didn't have many views. (It only has around 33,000 even now, well over a year later). I'd never heard of the band . Given the back yard video and minimal instrumental line-up I figured them to be unknowns, probably unsigned, maybe not even semi-pro.

In fact, the singer, who is quite superb here, is the son of Dave Stewart from Eurythmics. Had I known, I doubt it would have made me any more, nor any less interested, but it certainly changes the dynamic.

I don't have any strong feelings about either Dave Stewart or the various bands he's been in. I saw The Tourists, the band that morphed into Eurythmics, once, at a college venue, in what looked like the dining hall.

About all I can remember is Annie Lennox being asked to read out some announcements about car parking by the Ents Secretary, which she did with a surprisingly good grace. I think lottery numbers might have been involved at one point, too. A few months later they were on Top of the Pops performing a horrible dirge which appears to have attracted the attention of at least one bona fide zombie (bottom, left of center, stripes, dead eyes, no discernable signs of life, visible briefly from 1.21 to 1.29).

Anecdotes aside, I would never have thought to pay any attention to what Dave Stewart's progeny might have been up to. And how I would have missed out.

What's so wonderful about this cover? Well, there's Stewart Jr.'s extraordinary vocal, so confident, so teasing, bringing in every nuance of Eno's original then twisting the phrasing ever so slightly to make it his own. I love the way he sways and twists and stares down the camera, too. Such consummate stagecraft in one apparently so young.

The rest of the band match him perfectly, by contrast, with their stoicism, understated concentration and studied professionalism. Until they cut loose in the maelstrom at the end.

Then there's the DIY minimalism of the whole thing. It looks like they cobbled together a few bits and bobs from the attic so they could play at being a band. The drummer on his wooden box, the guitarist with a massive hollow-bodied electric that he might have borrowed, without asking, from his older brother.

And the girl! What is she doing? Is she even "playing" that... whatever that thing is? Is she blowing down a tube? Singing inaudibly? Humming? Why is she even there?

Or so you think for the first couple of minutes, until what she's doing somehow becomes all that matters. She's the exact analog of Eno himself in his Roxy Music days, only mirrored.

The way she processes the sounds, tears them apart and rebuilds them in a pulsing, churning turmoil reminds me so much of Eno destroying the ending of Ladytron on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1972. Right down to the space bleeps on the fadeout.

Anyway, typing is hard and I said I'd keep it short. I bought Nightmare and the Cat's album on the strength of this and it's nice enough but nothing on it comes close the magic they bottled in their back garden.

Thank the stars for YouTube, yet again.


  1. Aren't brains weird? Glad your chemo is almost done. Hope you can type straight again soon! :)

    I had an MRI on my head the other morning. First time. I think I now know what a panic or anxiety attack feels like. They slid me into that machine and it dawned on me that I couldn't get out on my own and I started freaking out. Almost hit the panic button. Fortunately I got it under control through deep breathing and thinking of pleasant things but I have a lot more sympathy for folks who have anxiety now.

    Good news is, scan was clear. I'm going deaf cuz I'm old, not because of anything weird happening in my skull, I guess.

    1. Glad it wasn't anything sinister. Losing your hearing is bad enough but there are worse things.

      I've had two scans where I got rolled into a metal tube but they weren't MRIs, which I believe are really noisy. I found mine quite manageable but I also had some weird, trippy drug in me to make all the images show up and it was a bit "ooh, the colors, man!"

    2. I'm glad it was nothing extra going on there too, Pete.

      And also glad that you're closing in on the end of your chemo, Bhag! All the best with the last little bit! Any expectation that the tablet-only form will be any less impactful than the whole hospital shebang?

      And even a bit on the post itself: It's fascinating to me when a close relative of an already famous person attempts to enter the same arena as their relative. xD

    3. It's always a hospital visit for a 3 hour dripfeed, then two weeks of 8 tablets a day, then a week off to recover. Four three week cycles. The tablets are a pain (literally) to swallow but they act fairly slowly. I tend to fade towards the second week then pick back up, major incidents excepted. The drip has quite strong side effects but they only last a day or two (for me so far, anyway).

      Dave Stewart's daughter is also a singer, which I found out only from YT's suggestions but iI wasn't very impressed with her stuff - then again I think she was only eleven in the clip I watched...


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