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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Sweet Sixteen

The sixteenth podcast in the series Mużika Mod Ieħor sounds unlike the previous 15 because I'm using a different microphone, a new sound card, and an Apple PowerBook rather than my Sony Vaio to produce the recording. There are also two other things that make this week's podcast different than all the other's I've previously produced in this series. One is that for some reason I seem to have encoded the MP3 at a lower bitrate than usual making for an easier download. The other is that I've changed the opening rant.

Previously, George Carlin could be heard at the beginning of each edition spouting a brief diatribe against radio stations and record companies from his audio book When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?. Now I've replaced his bile with that from Robert J. Safuto's Pop Culture Rant #43 from Podcast NYC.

I think this new intro works really well with the first track on this week's podcast. I've chosen to open with X-Tend's Tomorrow is Another Day from 1991, since they recently announced they're about to release their tenth album. X-Tend have been around for a little over 20 years. Their first public appearance in Malta was at the Hamrun Scouts' courtyard in September 1984 when they played before Structure, the band I sang in at that time. I clearly recall that I made some glib comment about the fact that the part of the gig we were providing was live while their show was simply mimed to tape playback. They wanted to kill me that day but Charlie Dalli and I became very good friends soon after that.

Another friend from that time is Ronnie Busuttil, someone I even performed an acoustic set with at Tigulio in 1990. Last week I mentioned that the Beangrowers are about to embark on a mini-tour in the UK before the end of this month and into the first few days of April. Among their dates there's on in Brighton where the opening act is none other than Ronnie and the Refugees. If Brighton wasn't so far from Scarborough (about 500km) I'd definitely attend that gig. Instead I'll have to settle for playing one of Ronnie's old tracks: Sweet Marie off the Flying Alligator's first album Sunset Storm from 1992.

After two recordings from around 15 years ago I figured it was most appropriate to play something more recent. I don't know that I can get my hand on anything more recent than the new song from MaltaGirl, which I call Johnny Cash Blues. MaltaGirl likes the name and she's officially adopted it for this song. Ironically, although this is the most recent recoding I could find for this week's podcast, the recording is much cruder than the old recordings from X-Tend or the Alligators. One other reason why I chose to play this recording from MaltaGirl is because X-Tend don't have a website, and I couldn't find anything recent on the web from Ronnie either. Still, I think it's an excellent example of how wonderfully liberating blogging can be. It's also proves what an amazing contributor to the Maltese blogosphere MaltaGirl continues to be.

I admit that it's easy for my podcasts to turn into personal journeys more than I think they should really be to remain entertaining to as many people as I can get to listen to them. So to close off this week's edition I've indulged in a track from a band I know I'd have gone to see play at The Alley on the first night of the 1565 Rock Tour. I refer to BNI (Batteries Not Included) and their catchy punk song entitled What Can I Do? It's as welcome as a refreshing shower after an afternoon on a sandy beach. More where that came from very soon...but maybe not soon enough.

The RSS feed for the podcast is available here or you can simply click here to subscribe directly with iTunes. You can also add the latest episodes to your My Yahoo! page.

Blogger cyberdigger said...

How come Artwork are never featured in these podcasts? By the way, in percentage terms, what chances are there of Artwork doing a Rifffs and reforming? 

4:31 PM, March 27, 2006
Blogger Toni Sant said...

I only ever recorded three songs in a studio with Artwork. Two of those made up the band's only single: Girls Will Be Girls and It's All Over Now. I only have those recordings on a 45rpm record...but nothing to play it on and/or dub for a podcast.

The other recording is of a song I wrote in 1986 called Rigi. We played it live a couple of times, but it was mostly a promotional piece - I wouldn't call it a real song: it's not about anything in particular and has a guitar riff lifted almost note for note from a Cat Stevens tune but no one noticed. It played on TVM every week for several months because it was the closing tune for an educational programme. I can't find the cassette for that...but I may actually have it somewhere. Channel 22 probably has copies of the TV show on VHS in their archives. Each episode of the programme opened with a video of me singing an acoustic version of the song with a bunch of primary school children.

Aside from these songs there's a very small number of live recordings by Artwork too. I have one on cassette, but it's not appropriate for public consumption because the technical quality of the recording is too poor. Artwork was mostly a gigging band. Lots of live gigs...but very few recordings.

Does that answer your question?

I doubt Artwork would ever do a reunion with me. I'm certainly not interested in such an event. This doesn't mean there may not be an Artwork reunion without me. The band went on for another year or so after I quit and they even produced a cassette EP, which consisted mostly of my reworked songs...along with a reproduction of the two sides of the 45rpm single. Still, I wouldn't mind playing in a band with a couple of people from Artwork...but not as Artwork, mostly because I'm not big on nostalgia. I was 19 when I quit Artwork. So I'll give the chance of a reunion 19% - how's that? 

5:23 PM, March 27, 2006
Blogger cyberdigger said...

Well, if Pink Floyd can overcome their differences and the Palestinians can sit down with the Israelis, then maybe there is hope for Artwork.
19 seems so young, although Johnny Rotten was not much older than that when the Sex Pistols broke up. I suppose it is a very small part of your life really, although for some people you will always be associated with it. 

7:54 AM, March 28, 2006
Blogger Toni Sant said...

It's very sweet of you to engage me in this conversation about Artwork, cyberdigger.

There are no irreconcilable differences between me and any of the people who played in Artwork. At least none like the ones you mentioned as ones that no one expected would ever be reconciled...mostly because the stakes in our case are hardly as high as those in a multi-millionaire band or warring tribes.

For me, getting back to playing with any group of musicians that calls itself Artwork is akin to getting together for a play-date with one of my childhood friends whom I haven't seen in decades. It scores very high on nostalgia but very low on any other meaning in my current life. (Have I mentioned I'm not big on nostalgia?) Besides, all the other guys in Artwork have moved on with their lives and although a couple of them are still professionally involved in music I seriously doubt they care much about the kind of pop rock embraced by Artwork.

You're right about the unfortunate fact that some people will always associate me with Artwork, of course. Fortunately I'm sure that there are fewer than 19% who fall in this category. Artwork may have been the most popular band I ever played in, but it was one of the least I enjoyed being in, aside from the first year or so. Then again, I was only 16 or 17 years old at that time and there's hardly anything from that time in my life I'd really like to relive. 

10:43 AM, March 28, 2006
Blogger Hsejjes said...

what is it that you have against nostalgia so much? In small doses nostalgia does the world of good. It remindes one that once one did have a life.... 

9:33 AM, March 30, 2006
Blogger Toni Sant said...

You're right about nostalgia.

To answer your question: I simply have a much better life now than I ever had previously. And I aim to keep it that way. 

10:03 AM, March 30, 2006

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