Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mick Jagger - Memo From Turner

It is my great and distinct pleasure to introduce the wise words of Mr. Zachary Ainsley.  Zach is a member of the infamous rap crew N1G and a proverbial fountain of knowledge on many matters not the least of which is music.  An incredible movie and culture connoisseur Zach has been dropping knowledge on me for years, and now he will be dropping it on the community of the world.  Thanks Ainsley for what I hope is the first post of many.
Apologies to The Buggles, but Video Killed the Radio Star was not the first music video. Although Radio Star helped to kick off the pop-music juggernaut MTV in 1981, the world's first real music video premiered nearly eleven years earlier in the criminally under-seen (at least by today's crop of movie-goers) English movie, Performance. The film stars a young Mick Jagger as Turner, a popular British rock star (a stretch, I know) that rents a room to a mafia tough guy who has recently gone on the lamb. As the movie rolls on, Turner and the mafioso engage in a hedonistic game of cat and mouse which eventually reaches its apex when Jagger and one the members of his harem of groupies feed their tenant some not-exactly-garden-variety mushrooms. Predictably, madness ensues. Unpredictably, the movie switches gears into a drug induced musical and introduces the audience to the ultimate diamond in the rough in Jagger's (and the Rolling Stones')  entire catalogue.

Memo From Turner opens with a slide guitar riff that sucks you in immediately and swiftly moves into some spoken word action from Mick that lets you know that he means business. As it continues on, we're treated to the two things every rock song should have: sexual innuendos (“you're a faggy little leather boy with a smaller piece of stick”--not exactly PC) and brazen cries against authority (“the man who squats behind the man who works the soft machine.”) While Jagger builds momentum by continuously oozing sex throughout the song,  it is the gloriously funky slide play of legendary axe-man Ry Cooder that sustains the listener. What Cooder lacks in Keith Richard's coke-fueled lunacy, he more than makes up for with his flat-out ability to play. As the song draws to a close, Mick reminds us who we all work for, but it's Ry who truly writes the checks.

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