Friday, May 26, 2006


I am still enjoying "the Line of Beauty", more so than the book in fact, since I think Andrew Davies has reduced it to its elements, identifying it as upper-class lit Mills & Boon at heart. The characters are still all surface, like in the book, and its clear that despite its length, there wasn't actually that much to go on in terms of the characters. The "class" issue is a funny one in "the Line of Beauty" - since there's always someone richer, someone more powerful, with the appearance of "the Lady" (Thatcher) as the ultimate status symbol. Ironically, this seems the one real insight of the novel, that Thatcher, to these people, was something "special", just as she was something demonic to so many others. Not just another politician. David Cameron having to ask Rebekah Wade to get him a ticket to the Beckham's party shows where celebrity has shifted, of course. I'm still having anachronistic qualms about the music (see below, and Rose Darling here) though I can perhaps excuse the use of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "The Power of Love" as an anthem for a generation dying of AIDS, since that was what it would become. I have gay friends who simply cannot hear the song, because of the number of funerals it reminds them of. As for the sex scenes in "The Line of Beauty", I notice that the lead character always gives, shall we say, never receives. Perhaps there's a last taboo in here? The utter lack of pumping house music (it's up to 1986 for chrissakes!) has sent me to my record collection, and I spent a pleasant evening digging out obscure house and dance tracks from that golden era. Amazing how quickly everyone, from Paul Weller, to the Pet Shop Boys ended up recording house tracks. There was a fine documentary on C4 about the Pet Shop Boys. A nice comment that they recycled about themselves - that their music was "depth through surface" - seemed worth repeating. I remember when they first made the charts, they weren't particularly seen as a "gay" act, and Tennant in particular very much didn't want to be viewed through the prism of gay experience. If anything they were most popular with teenage girls. I only really liked them when they did become a full-on electronic dance act, around "Introspection", but the claim of some of the vox pops that they songwriters as good as Lennon/McCartney seems a little off. Their best tracks are almost always interpretations: Go West (which didn't get a mention - though I always thought it wonderful that having avoided cliche for so long, they had the sense of humour to cover the Village People's hedonistic anthem), Always on My Mind, It's All Right, and Where the Streets Have No Name. I must admit that their later stuff has somewhat passed me by - and picking up 1999's "Night Life" for a few quid yesterday, I can see why, musically it had become very dated. It would have been nice if the documentary could have found a wider variety of celebrity fans than it did. As I remember it, Pet Shop Boys were very popular with girls. "The Smiths you can dance to" was always my favourite description of them (though of course: you could dance to the Smiths, just not in a white t-shirt at Heaven, on a load of poppers!) As if on cue, the BBC is asking for short plays about meeting your favourite rock star. David Bowie has already done the best of these in the "Jazzin' for Blue Jean" video, but I'll see if can think of anything else. I kind of think there's good nostalgia and bad nostalgia. Bad nostalgia is the increasing fetishisation of Joy Division/New Order/Factory Records/Peter Saville etc. aiming to do to Manchester what the Beatles Museum did for Liverpool (kill aspiration stone dead). whilst good nostalgia is me digging out these old house records, and wondering: wow, where did all this great music come from? "The Line of Beauty", though fun, is very much on the bad side - heritage Britain - the Pet Shop Boys documentary was somewhere in the middle (good when they were on the screen, bad when they weren't.)


Rose said...

Talking of the Pet Shop Boys, I was a follower up until and including Behaviour (giving 'Go West' a very wide swerve).

Notwithstanding Harold Faltermeyer's stamp on their style, it's a fine album, lyrically mature and slightly more sober than their usual offerings. Very nostalgic and reminiscent of the time (for me, anyway).

Adrian Slatcher said...

And why was "Go West" played on the tannoy at the end of every game in the World Cup? Most mysterious.