Archive for January, 2023

Blackpaint 711 – The Donald, Gene, Fred, Ginger and Lynette

January 22, 2023

Singin in the Rain

Watched this in its entirety for the first time the other day and for a while, I was tempted to say to myself the ultimate blasphemy – “Its almost – better than Fred and Ginger!” Gene Kelly is an athlete with a staggering power and precision – while watching him, you think “Yes – Fred’s a bit sort of wavy; doesn’t quite snap it out so cleanly…” And then there’s Donald O’ Connor, who runs up scenery walls – three big paces followed by a backwards somersault twice and then through the last one which looked like asbestos…

That’s in “Make Em Laugh” in which O’Connor more or less throws himself to the floor repeatedly, wrestles with a headless, handless mannequin behind a sofa and manages to end all this apparently without injury. The ensemble dancing with Kelly is just as sharp and precise (“Moses Supposes”) and with Debbie Reynolds too (Good Mornin’).

There’s a gangster sequence with Cyd Charisse in Broadway Melody that’s very like the one Fred danced with Charisse in The Bandwagon – need to look up the dates and see which one came first. And of course, Singin in the Rain -everyone knows it, nothing new, except Kelly’s fine voice – better than Fred’s, but maybe lacking that touch of pathos that Fred could do.

Then I watched the “Never Gonna Dance” medley in “Swing time” and I swung back. I think it’s actually Ginger, that back, those shoulders, the way Fred spins her round, that staircase, her spin at the end…

O’Connor and Kelly airborne

Fred gazes at that wonderful back in Swing Time

Lynette Yiadom – Boakye

Tate Britain until 26th Feb

Her pictures are not portraits; that is, not of real people. They are portraits of fictional characters. The titles are mystifying, shedding no apparent light on the ” meaning ” of each work. They presumably have meaning for Yiadom – Boakye privately. I’ve no problem with this: for other commentators, the justification, if one were needed, is that the fictional people in the portraits bear no burden of historical representation, as is the case in many (most?) figures of black people in Western art. I think you might make a similar case for the people in Lubaina Himid’s recent exhibition at Tate Britain, although they tended to be groups of persons involved in unexplained situations, rather than naturalistic mock portraiits.

Southern Rock at the BBC

This brilliant compilation turns up periodically, usually on BBC4. I record it then forget to save it and it disappears. It popped up again last night and I was lucky enough to record it again. The highlights are as follows:

Lynrd Skynrd doing “Sweet Hone Alabama” with a huge Confederate battle flag backdrop on the Old Grey Whistle Test.

The gob -smacking Black Oak Arkansas with their singer “Jim Dandy” Mangrum poncing about bare chested in buckskins. He’s a dead ringer for the serial killer who attacks Sigourney Weaver in the toilet in “Copycat”. The song is “Hey y’all”…

Dickie Betts of the Allman Brothers, singing “Ramblin’ Man”, stunning guitar as in most of this stuff.

A demented Edgar Winter, with a band straight out of Spinal Tap, out-heavying brother Johnny, who puts in a comparatively sedate piece on the same subject later in the show.

The Atlanta Rhythm Section, a smooth rock ballad called “I am so into you”, distinguished by that guitar solo and the riff. It’s also from a Whistle Test session; another Confederate flag, and someone thought it was a good idea to hang “A.R.S” in big illuminated letters over the band.

Billy Joe White, doing Polk Salad Annie, with a sneering grin and a fag burning away, stuck on the end of a guitar string in the old style, despite the apparently posh venue;

Dobie Gray, the only black artist in the programme – “Gimme the beat boys and free my soul, I wanna get lost in your rock an’ roll and drift away…”;

Charlie Daniels and his band doing “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” – poor Charlie would have been shocked by the rebel flags and testosterone on show – or maybe not, judging by his song “What this world needs is a few more rednecks”…

And Elvin Bishop, in farmer’s dungarees, doing Travelling Shoes. Probably best not to listen too closely to the words.

Only one female singer, Cher, duetting with the Allman brother she was briefly wedded to, on “Move Me”…

One of mine to finish:

Susie Cropped


January 21st, 2023