Where our intrepid editorial team take an askance look at the weird and wonderful world of music and media.
We hope you are keeping up with the current street musical categories? Just think how embarrassing it would be if you didn't know what transe or industrial meant. As mentioned previously, the worldwide arbiter of all such things, the music industry's Billboard magazine, have now reverted back to R&B after dabbling for a decade or two with soul and urban. Unfortunately nobody told the gospel artists, so in the pages of CCM magazine and in a recent Billboard interview with Fred Hammond they're still talking about crossing over into urban. Ho hum.
While on the subject of jargonesque classifications, you will note that lifelong Rick Wakeman fan Tim Cockram showed considerable restraint in his interview with Rick by not questioning him about all those eyebrow-raising albums for President in a New Age series. No doubt Rick, Jeff Johnson and all the other Christian ambient instrumentalists will be pleased to see that a new term, without the occult overtones, is beginning to be used for the music as witness an advert in Billboard for new duo Allen And Allen. According to the ad copy their album features "a unique blend of quiet Storm, Jazz and Gospel." Quiet Storm eh? We'd only just got used to calling them Ambient.
Good to see Billboard giving an extensive interview to Sam Phillips, talking about her past and her new album 'Martinis And Bikinis' though it was sad that after all these years she's still making sour little quips about her years in the CCM pond as Leslie Phillips. Her quote "I wanted to explore spirituality, not dispense God propaganda" sounds more like a slogan dreamed up by a backsliding liberal disengaged from commitment to the church than the writer of such anointed worship songs as "Strength Of My Life". Let's keep praying for Sam.
Talking of Sam Phillips, that Billboard interview did reveal that the singer's decision to substitute Sam for Leslie was done as "a sincere impulse" without any knowledge about the legendary founder of Sun Records and discoverer of Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, Mr Sam Phillips. Embarrassing...and ironic for a couple of years later Sam met the Sun Records' Sam's son when her husband T-Bone Burnett was working on the Jerry Lee Lewis biopic 'Great Balls Of Fire'. One wonders if either of them ever get to work on a Carry On film (perish the thought) they'll find out about a famed British comedy actor called Leslie Phillips.
We hear that Greybeard Cummings was honoured to have his photo in Tell, the fan mag of much loved British rockers K. Cummings, with two chaps called Dave Roberts and Martin Wroe, stare from Tell's back page above the caption The Three Musketeers: If you know 'em write to 'em." But K fans be warned. Letters asking for K coverage will not go down well with Cummings. He says "K? I've phoned them, written to them, asking them, begging them, for news, photos and review copies. Their response is always the same. They ignore Cross Rhythms completely." Ho hum.
An interview took place with superstar rapper Hammer on Channel 4's The Word in March which for Christians opened up more questions than it answered. Hammer refused to be labelled the "Christian figurehead in American rap" in the interview. Hammer protested in obvious discomfort with "That's not a fair assessment - I'm a person with my own spiritual beliefs, but don't call me a Christian rapper." The interviewer Mark Lamarr clearly enjoyed attempting to publicly ridicule him, amidst repetitive bursts of recorded "Stop, Hammer. Time." Later on in the interview, Hammer was questioned why he had 400 beautiful women dancing with him in his video "Pumps In A Bump" (from his latest album). Mark questioned him about the validity of this from the viewpoint of a "Christian rapper" to which Hammer replied, "Religion is an individual thing...my thing is personal. If it means that I'm surrounded by beautiful women -I love that, all daylong." Yes, well.
One of the most popular new songs in Nuffsed's live set is an instrumental reel called "Mr Stanley's Amazing Trousers". Inspiration for the bizarre title is Mike Stanley, the fellow-Midlands roots musician whose Irish band Shenanigans have been gigging hard recently. Mike bought a pair of ghastly multi-coloured trousers in Israel and had the temerity to wear them in the studio when he played on Nuffsed's 'Fields Keep Calling' album. Mike has promised to don the said apparel when he leads Shenanigans, Nuffsed et al in a ceilidh at Cross Rhythms: Touching Glory.
We Christians agree about the basics though might differ in the detail. We prove the point herewith. Some years back Scripture Union/Herald House published a magazine for early teens, JAM. The letters stood for Jesus And Me. Then a Reading Christian festival came along. They reckoned JAM meant Jesus And Music. In February this year, the Church Of God Of Prophecy put together a gospel bash called JAM, with the COGIC Choir amongst others. The organisers reckoned JAM stood for Jesus Alive in Manchester. Now it seems JIM is getting the same treatment. After the Shaftesbury project started the ball rolling with some anti-Halloween events called JIM (Jesus In Me) along comes the latest surge of events in the JIM Challenge campaign. Cross Rhythms are now considering organising a national pyjama party called JIM JAM.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.