mcgillianaire: (Changing Guard London)
"Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London.
No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life;
for there is in London all that life can afford."

~ Samuel Johnson ~

On Thursday morning I fly to DC, drawing to a close over nine years in the UK. It seems fitting for such an occasion to delve into the memory bank and recollect how things have changed since I first moved here on a sunny May morning in 2007...

  • Tony Blair was still PM, Ming Campbell was Lib Dem leader and Ken Livingstone Mayor of London.
  • A woman had yet to serve as Britain's Home Secretary.
  • It was legal to smoke in pubs.
  • £1 was worth nearly $2.
  • Kate and Wills had just broken up.
  • Waterloo Station was still the Eurostar terminus.
  • Free newspapers thelondonpaper and London Lite were still in production and you had to pay for The Evening Standard.
  • Steve McClaren was England's football manager and the national team had yet to play at the new Wembley.
  • Portsmouth FC, now in the fourth tier, had just finished 9th in the Premier League.
  • Mourinho was Abramovich's only managerial appointment.
  • There was no equal prize money at Wimbledon between men and women.
  • The Digital Switchover had yet to begin.
  • Britain's Got Talent, Outnumbered, Would I Lie To You & Only Connect hadn't aired; Parkinson & Grange Hill were still on.
  • The iPhone hadn't been released yet.
  • Spain hadn't won a football World Cup or European Championships since 1964.
  • Pep Guardiola had yet to manage Barcelona and therefore hadn't won any of his 15 major trophies to date.
  • Djokovic had not won a Grand Slam yet, Nadal just 3 and there was only one British appearance in a final since 1977.
  • Myspace was the most popular social network, Twitter was just a year old (with fewer than 700,000 users) & Facebook had 20 million active users (it's now over a billion).
  • Justin Bieber hadn't been 'discovered' yet, Lady Gaga hadn't released her first album and Taylor Swift was still unheard of despite having released her first album.
  • Jennifer Lawrence had not acted in a film yet.
  • And finally, a little-known African American senator from Illinois had just announced his candidacy to the US presidency.

I hope I return to Blighty 21 months from now. I'm sure the time will fly. But my life has not quite gone according to plan until now, so who knows what the future holds. What I do know is that my lifelong love affair with The Great Wen and all things British will never diminish. So long Great Britain and its great people, thank you for all the wonderful memories.

Signing out for the last time on this side of the pond (for now), this is That Bloke in the Big Smoke.
mcgillianaire: (Ministry of Sound)
I've decided to embark on an ambitious project to bring myself up-to-speed with music. I thought it would be a delightful idea to compile a DVD (the one with the highest capacity, 9GBish I think) with the world's greatest music of all-time. It's going to take a while but I've set out a little time every week to work on it so hopefully it will be finished by the end of the year. Unfortunately, my knowledge of good music is very weak. I'd like to think I know a lot of good music but the truth is, I don't. Which is where you guys come in. All you need to do is list songs which deserve to be part of the compilation. Don't worry if others have listed the same before you. And don't limit yourself to just a few tracks. More than 1000 songs are going to make the final cut and if it turns out there's enough for two DVDs, all the better. It's amazing how much cheerier life has become now that I find myself listening to nothing but incredible music. And of course, any of your contributions that make the final cut, will be suitably acknowledged in a special custom designed album cover. To help you find this entry easily, I've post-dated it to 31 December 2011 so it will always be the first one to appear when you view my journal home page. Don't limit yourself to just English music. I want stuff from all over the world. I don't care if it's just a beat. If you think it's good, share it. Even if it doesn't make the final cut, it'll still make a great addition to my mediocre collection of music. I love being introduced to great new music. Tonight alone (8 Dec 08) I've discovered one of the greatest opera singers of all-time, Enrico Caruso. His stuff is so good it's convinced me to buy a gramophone once I start earning again. So get in!

EDIT 1: Gramophone (well a USB-emboldened laser record player) added to collection, Feb 2009.
EDIT 2: 30+ vinyls and growing. Thanks to everybody who has contributed to my budding collection. :)
mcgillianaire: (Lock Stock Still-frame)

The music in the advert kicks in at 1:26. Awesome tune.

mcgillianaire: (Ministry of Sound)

On Friday evening I went to a South Indian/Carnatic classical music concert with my dad and some of his friends. The star attraction was U. Srinivas (see video above) who plays the mandolin. He was accompanied by his brother who also plays the mandolin and four others on traditional South Indian percussion instruments, including three of my favourites: the ghatam (an earthenware pot), the morsing (played between the teeth!) and the mridangam (the South Indian tabla). They played for over three hours and it was held at Muscat's open air amphitheatre. The event was organised by the Tamil Wing of the Indian Social Club and over a thousand people attended. There were four types of tickets, two of which cost 5 Rials ($13) & 10 Rials each, while the others were complimentary and split into VIPs & VVIPs.

We had VVIP tickets which meant we sat in the front row, but to the extreme left side. I would've preferred to sit a few rows back in a more centrally located seat. In any case, it didn't really matter as long as the performance lived up to its hype. And that it did. I'm not well versed with the intricacies of Indian classical music (North or South), but even I could appreciate the mastery of Mr Srinivas. And his accompanying troupe were not too shabby either. Each South Indian classical work usually runs 15-20 minutes and of the 8 or 9 performed, I recognised about half. A couple of them were crowd favourites and elicited finger-whistling from the rowdier sections. There were even calls for more.

All in all, a very pleasant experience. I got twitchy towards the end but I'm glad I went. South Indian classical music is even less unknown than North Indian/Hindustani classical but is just as good, if not better. I've always been fascinated by how western (classical) instruments have often been adopted by South Indian musicians into its classical fold and to great effect. The violin is by far the most popular choice but the most notable is the saxophone, exemplified by the maestro par excellence, Kadri Gopalnath. He's worth a YouTube search.
mcgillianaire: (Default)
New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art contains over 2 million works of art, including a unique collection of over 5000 musical instruments from around the world. The Met is worth every cent of the $20 entrance fee, even though I managed to wangle half-price as a student despite the fact my ID had expired last month! The audio guide is an essential companion for $7.50. You can get there by taking the green-coloured (Lexington Avenue/IRT East Side) subway lines served by the "4, 5 and 6 trains" and getting off at 86th Street station. It's about a 5-10 minute walk from there. The museum is located on the eastern edge of Central Park, along what is known as Museum Mile with its entrance on 82nd Street. It's very hard to miss once you're walking towards it along Fifth Avenue. There's also free Wi-Fi inside.

The world's oldest piano. Bartolomeo Cristofori invented the piano in 1698 but the one pictured is the oldest of three surviving items from 1720, 1722 and 1726. Cristofori called it "gravecembalo col piano e forte" (large harpsichord with soft and loud [sound]).

More Musical Instrument Goodness )
mcgillianaire: (Ministry of Sound)
It's the usual rules:
1. If you reply to this post, I'll assign you a letter.
2. List (and link to, if you feel like it) 5 music tracks that start with that letter.
3. Post them to your journal with these instructions.

I got the letter G. Like last time I've linked my tracks to YouTube and Spotify. Enjoy!

1. Green Onions (Booker T. & the M.G.'s) - yt; sp
2. Ghost Town (The Specials) - yt; sp
3. Girls & Boys (Blur) - yt; sp
4. Groovejet (Spiller) - yt; sp
5. Gymnopedie No. 1 (Erik Satie) - yt; sp
mcgillianaire: (Motown Logo)
1. Reply to this post and I'll assign you a letter.
2. List (and upload, if you feel like it) 5 songs that start with that letter.
3. Post them to your journal with these instructions.

I was graciously conferred with the letter R:
1. Rock Around The Clock - Bill Haley & His Comets [spotify; youtube]
2. Respect - Aretha Franklin [spot; yt]
3. Rag Doll - Aerosmith [spot; yt]
4. Rapunzel (Live in Chicago '98) - Dave Matthews Band [spot; yt]
5. Reptilia - The Strokes [spotify; yt]

As a fan of BBC Radio Four's Desert Island Discs programme, I really enjoyed this short exercise. All the tracks were chosen from my custom-made playlists on Spotify of: Pre-60s Classics, 60s & 70s Classics, 80s Classics, 90s Classics and 2000s Classics. I picked a track from each playlist but was surprised to find so few beginning with the letter R! The first track brings back memories of high school, the second track is an all-time classic that became Franklin's signature song, the third track takes me back to middle school when one of my best friends who had just moved to Oman introduced me to the band he was obsessed with. The fourth track takes me back to my first year at uni. I'd never heard of Dave Matthews Band until I met the people on my floor who turned out to become my best friends at McGill. This particular version of Rapunzel was my best friend's favourite and it quickly grew on me. And finally the last track reminds me of my mum. I heard it on the radio hours before flying to India after her passing away (which I didn't know of at the time). It gave me peace and comfort.

If you'd like a letter, leave a comment. :)
mcgillianaire: (Three Lions (WC 2010))

Simon Cowell has the Midas touch as evidenced by this production of a song built on 1984 Tears for Fears hit "Shout". It was officially released just last month and Cowell has promised to have it played in the dressing room before England's next game against Algeria. All proceeds from the song will be donated to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London. But will it inspire our Men In White? It's OK.
mcgillianaire: (Golden Gate Bridge)
Thanks to [ profile] aldehyde for this. 13 million hits, a live performance on Ellen's show and a mention on the Beeb. Not bad for a 12 year-old.

mcgillianaire: (Lib Dems)

Gordon Brown enjoys Glee, Dave Cameron admits to watching Shameless but his favourite sitcom is Porridge. And Nick Clegg? Well his telly appetite is fed by Come Dine With Me. Gordon also likes The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and Motown, but denies he is a fan of the Arctic Monkeys. They just happen to make good alarm clock-like music. Meanwhile, Cameron prefers The Killers, Radiohead and has a soft spot for Lily Allen. So much so he included her album in a gift to Obama. And Nick Clegg? He's partial to a "rip-roaring piece of Rachmaninov or a 'soulful Johnny Cash' number", but admits to growing out of an 80s obsession with Prince. Gordon's favourite film is Hotel Rwanda and I must admit I didn't see that one coming. Cameron's into his classics like Lawrence of Arabia and Guns of Navarone. Good taste. And Nick Clegg? The Class, a 2006 Oscar-nominated French flick. Probably best to leave that out of the Daily Mail interview. Food-wise, Gordo likes rumbledethumps, a traditional Scottish dish made with "potatoes, cabbage, cheese, butter and herbs". Ah, bubble and squeak. Eurosceptic Cameron's recipe of choice is a rich Italian sausage meat pasta with half a pint of double-cream. Yum. And Nick Clegg? Deep-fried croquetas made from flour. Spanish croquettes. Another miss for the Daily Mail. And there's more. They're just like us, who knew? [READ MORE]
mcgillianaire: (India Flag)

Two Oscars, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and now the Grammys. Well done A.R. Rahman! Thanks to Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire, the Tamil composer sure is riding the crest of Western success. And he deserves it all. Slumdog Millionaire wasn't his finest work but up there with the best. It seems like only yesterday when I first heard his music in one of my favourite films of all-time, the 1992 hit Roja.
mcgillianaire: (Default)
U2 have been confirmed as next year's headline act. It's their first Glastonbury and their first festival appearance in 25 years. No other official confirmations, though Andy Williams has announced he will be performing. Cannae wait to join the other 177,500 festival-goers next June. So much to look forward to next summer. End of law school, the World Cup, Glasto, Wimbledon, the cricket, flying home! :)
mcgillianaire: (Union Jack)

Booked! Should be a cracker. Timing couldn't be better. Last exam on June 22nd and festival starts the 23rd. Best way to celebrate!!!

UPDATE: 100,000+ tickets sold-out in less than 12 hours. :)
mcgillianaire: (Default)
I had tickets to watch him perform in two weeks time. Numb.
mcgillianaire: (Statue of Liberty)

My sister arrived for a brief visit this morning. She gifted me this vinyl! The collection is growing, slowly but surely...
mcgillianaire: (Default)
Ben Langham is a fascinating individual. Tube escalator engineer by day and DJ Ben Phaze by night, the 28-year-old Londoner from Turnpike Lane has used his VIP access in London's famous transport system to augment his 10-year-old Deejaying career. Using a simple hand-held recording device, he has recorded the 'true sounds of the underground' in his DJ-sets and even hopes to produce an album titled 'Tunnel Sounds'. But before you dismiss him, consider the fact that Radio 1 DJ Annie Nightingale has praised him on air and the fact that Langham has become popular on the electronic underground circuit. He describes his music as 'industrial, dark and hypnotic'. Langham has recorded everything from moving escalators, booming machinery and to trains going through a tunnel. As he explains "When the rail replacement takes place they use really large machinery and the sounds from those are immense." The DJ has even gone as far as standing on one platform and recording a vocalist from the next station platform to get an echoing effect. He stalks the tunnels by night hunting 'odd creaks, bumps, screeches and thumps to record. He then splices the sounds into music.' In the past Langham has also used toasters, kettles, footsteps, a miaowing cat and even a mosquito in his search for musical inspriation. [LINK]
mcgillianaire: (India Flag)
Thanks to BBC Radio 3's excellent Composer of the Week programme, I have discovered this delightful opera composed by an Italian 180 years ago. The opera is set in India and depicts a tale of forbidden love between Idamore, the Pariah (or Outcast) and Nayala, the daughter of a Brahmin high priest of the temple. It is the earliest example of Western music dedicated to India that I have come across and therefore retains extra special significance. Unfortunately there is only one known recording of the opera and it is currently unavailable on Amazon. I'd love a vinyl copy...
mcgillianaire: (Default)
If so I have a spare ticket. It's free! Courtesy the Beeb. Their Concert Orchestra is recording the masterpiece for Radio 2. It seems to be part of their year-long celebration of the English composer's work in light of his 250th death anniversary.


mcgillianaire: (Default)

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