Category Archives: Culture

A Conversation With Rebecca Handler

After reading, Edie Richter Is Not Alone, the outstanding debut novel from Rebecca Handler, the big question was how do you talk to the author about her surprising book without revealing the “secret” I prepared myself by taking my time in reading a book that taunts you to immerse yourself in the tragicomic stylized writing and devour it in one sitting. Instead, I forced myself to gobble up Handler’s cleverly observant prose over three evenings. It was a struggle, but it was worth it. Rebecca Handler’s writing is so smart, so clever, she craftily intends you to not put her book down. I began our conversation with, “possum”. A reasonable start, the first sentence in Edie Richter Is Not Alone is, “The possum is dead”. From there, Rebecca Handler explained that Edie Richter is married, childless by choice, and moving from San Francisco to Perth, Australia. She leaves behind a sister and mother still mourning the recent death of her father, but Edie has a secret, she committed an unthinkable act that she can barely admit to herself. Edie Richter narrates her experience of complicated grief with brutal accuracy. As you read, you discover along with Edie herself what happened to an oddly ordinary wife and daughter, who in her stunned anguish resembles all of us. 

   

Also in the program, new music out of Hull in the UK, from accomplished musician Katie Spencer, along with Alan Thompson & Spencer Cozens give us a beautiful version of the late John Martyn’s Hurt In Your Heart. The legendary British songwriter, guitarist, and singer, born Iain David McGeachy in London, 1948, sadly died in 2009. Katie Spencer pays tribute to Martyn with Cozens and Spencer, two longstanding members of his band. The recording sessions for the three-track EP, Hurt In Your Heart were captured as live performances. Plus, new music from an artist who describes herself as, “A 15-year-old singer-songwriter from Leigh-on-sea in Essex and I have been writing music for a couple of years now. Here I am with my first EP. I started solely on piano, but I have really enjoyed pushing my guitar and vocals too“. Her name is Ruby Hickman, the two tracks I chose are, I Hate You and the title cut, The Fake You. A talent to keep a watchful eye out for. 

Norman B April 10, 2021

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A Conversation With Wally Salem

Wally Salem is a fan. His passion for the music he loves is unrelenting, he’ll talk non-stop, barely taking a breath as he catalogues details, facts, and anecdotes. His enthusiasm resulted in starting his own record label, The Beautiful Music, inspired he says “By the Beauty of Marina Records, the Pop Genius of Allan McGee’s Creation and Poptones labels, the eccentric Dan Treacy’s Whaam and Dreamworld label, the trailblazing Factory Records, the Pure Pop of Matt’s Sarah and Shinkansen labels, Joe Foster’s diverse musical heritage of Kaleidoscope Sound and Rev-Ola labels, Mike Scott’s the Big Music sound and Chicken Jazz label, Chris Seventeen’s love of music with the What a Wonderful Way To Turn Seventeen label and many other labels such as Tangerine, Swordfish, Summershine, Glass, Postcard, Swamplands, Wagging Dog, Little Teddy, Spin Art, Matinee and Detour to name just a few.” Wally adds, “I’m into music that is created for the sheer LOVE of it. Music that celebrates the melody and the harmony, the magnificent and the eccentric. The Beautiful Music is dedicated to distributing Music that soars above the musical landscape in the Jet Stream of POP”. During Wally Salem’s conversation with Norman B you’ll hear cuts from Nikki Sudden doing a cover of Television Personalities’ If I Could Write Poetry. Allan McGee’s short-lived band, Biff Bang Pow! with Someone Stole My Wheels. Tame The Wild Beast from Dot Dash and Skytone with It Doesn’t Really Matter. Also in the show, new but retro-sounding Sons Of Hallucination (ft. Charlotte Condemine) by Steven Jones & Logan Sky. Listen closely for the saxophone parts by Gary Barnacle, one-time member of Visage. Followed by Anastasia Coope who says, “I’m an 18 year old experimental psych folk musician. I began writing music in a serious sense when quarantine began at age 17, and have continued this endeavor throughout my first year at Pratt Institute where I study painting”. Anastasia gives us her self-produced single, Norma Ray. Taking us up to the close are Feu Follet out of France with Falling, featuring Natacha Lubin on vocals from their latest album, Beneath The Earth which comes with a splendid comic book. This one is courtesy of the industrious Alex Donat of Blackjack Illuminist Records

Artwork by Phil Larkin “Batman 11” 2002 4’ x 4’3” Giclée print on archival paper, mounted on fiberboard. Courtesy of Norman B’s collection

LEM Vol 227

Cathal Coughlan – genius of Irish rock

As the very first moments of my conversation with Cathal Coughlan began I knew that 60 minutes were not going to be enough time to enjoy what this adventurous musician had to say. Born and raised in Cork, Ireland Cathal began singing in the late 70s and by 1980 he had met Sean O’Hagan and formed Microdisney. A band that was hard to (thankfully) slot into a nice neat genre. On Discogs, Cathal is described rather aptly, as an anti-Bono. His music and lyrics some may call challenging, I on the other hand was fascinated and loved playing Microdisney alongside the plethora of post-punk-one-hit- wonders that cursed new music in the early 80s. The temptation to slide easily into a lovable New Wave outfit was enough for Mr Coughlan to see Microdisney dwindle down to a two-piece with O’Hagen and eventually reassemble as The Fatima Mansions, making, splendid yet hard to categorize music. The eventual demise of The Fatima Mansions in the mid-90s led to Cathal stepping away from being in a band to releasing solo albums, taking part in collaborations and making guest appearances. For a while he was involved in musical theatre, mostly in France. In 2006 he was described in The Irish Times as the ‘genius of Irish rock’. Cathal has been back in the studio recently and the result is his new album, Songs Of Co-Aklan.

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What Animals May Tell Us About Aliens. A Return Visit With Katherine May.

                                   

Was Arik Kershenbaum’s intent in writing, The Zoologist’s Guide To The Galaxy to make the reader reconsider – everything? To look at our world from a new perspective? “Yes!” the zoologist, College Lecturer, and Fellow at Girton College, Cambridge responds rapidly. His new book will not only make you think, you’ll also find yourself wanting to share your discoveries. Kershenbaum has a quirky, yet delightful knack of setting up a question, answering it, then questioning what you’ve just learned. He is a gifted storyteller who uses colloquialisms and common-day language, while his studious research is paraded before us without a hint of laborious, long-winded academia. The book gallops along at an agreeable speed, yet never once do you feel the author is only giving you a précis of his knowledge. Arik says Scientists are confident that life exists elsewhere in the universe. However, while we often imagine that life on other planets is the stuff of science fiction, the time has come to abandon our fantasies of space invaders and movie monsters and instead place our expectations on a solid scientific footing. Short of aliens landing in New York City, how do we know what they are like? Could there be an alien planet with supersonic animals? A moon where creatures have a language composed of smells? Will aliens scream with fear, act honestly, or have technology? Kirksenbaum draws on his own expert understanding of life on Earth and Darwin’s theory of evolution, which applies throughout the universe to answer these questions and more. The Zoologist’s Guide To The Galaxy is an engrossing book. Arik Kershenbaum will open your eyes to the marvels of our planet and the universe beyond.

Katherine May, author of Wintering: The Power Of Rest And Retreat In Difficult Times returns to the program to talk about where we are now at the second anniversary of the Covid pandemic. Katherine wrote her book before she or we had any knowledge of Covid 19. The unlikely timeliness of her book was and still is remarkable. Katherine has insights into what we have all been going through in the last year, not least of all because she had written a personal narrative about the unexpected. In the conversation, Katherine shares her thoughts about coping and explores the ways we can repair ourselves when life knocks us down.

Over on Life Elsewhere Music Vol 225, talented Liverpool-based duo, King Hannah offers a remarkable cover of Bruse Springsteen’s State Trooper. Plus, sixty minutes of very cool new releases.

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A Conversation With King Hannah

They look like they just stepped out of a photoshoot for ID magazine circa 1979 or it could be 2025. Their potent music, like their striking image, is an alluring reverent homage to a past they could have invented, perfectly and seamlessly blended into a brilliant foretaste of the future. Hannah Merrick and Craig Whittle are King Hannah. Their moniker is clever, a deadpan kick in the shins of conformity and gender identity. Yet, Hannah nonchalantly says, “Oh, it’s a name I came up with ages ago, I thought it sounded good. So we used it”. That’s the thing about these two, everything is all matter-of-fact. There’s no pretensions, no deliberate persona they are eager to get across. When they are told that Crème Brûlée is an incredibly sexy song, they both sound surprised. Craig, between a chuckle or two, says, “Just look at us!” We did and we like what we see. The authenticity of King Hannah is right up front, their music does not mess about. “We’re determined to get it right”, says Hannah They genuinely enjoy making music together “We know when to finish a song without even looking at each other,” Hannah shares. There is so much going on in their debut EP, Tell Me You Mind And I’ll Tell You Mine, it’s almost impossible to grasp the depth of pure rock ’n’ roll spirituality that shines through on every track. There are so many ghosts channeling their voices through Hannah and Craig, they are harvesting the fruits to create vital music. Listen carefully to our conversation, then indulge in their music.

Because of time constraints and we wanted you to hear everything Hannah and Craig had to say, we edited a couple of their songs. You are advised to make sure you get your own copy of Tell Me You Mind And I’ll Tell You Mine.

Playlist

  1. Meal Deal 
  2. The Sea Has Stretch Marks
  3. Bill Tench
  4. Crème Brûlée

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