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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Moving On

The last couple of weeks have been quite unusual for me. Aside from the whole trip to Malta and Greece, the aftermath of my prediction has been something that I'll remember for the rest of my life. I must publicly thank not only the many people who left comments on my last blog entry and those who emailed me privately, but also Peppi Azzopardi, Norman Hamilton and Lou Bondi for inviting me on their respective TV programmes. I should also thank my MaltaMedia colleagues, especially Martin Debattista who has finally blogged again.

At first I was tempted to follow up on the 50+ comments on my blog with a response to some of the questions and points raised by my readers. Time is a very precious commodity, so instead I've decided to move on, especially because I'm one who believes that moving on is good not only when dealing with things that upset us but also with things that we delight in. Too much of a good thing is still too much.

On the Saturday before the Eurovision I spent the evening at Naasha's in San Gwann. I went mainly to see BNI play as guest act for The I Skandal's new EP launch party. BNI are one of the most entertaining punk bands in Malta, so I'm not surprised that they've also been invited to fill a guest slot at Xtruppaw's debut album launch party at Luxol next Friday. More about that in the coming days.

This week's Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast opens with a track called Għala? by The I Skandal off the new EP Skakkomatto, published by Reciprocal Records. The production on this EP is outstanding, not only from a musical perspective but also in terms of the package. The CD's accompanying booklet is among the best I've ever seen for an EP.

Keeping it ska, the second track is the new single from The Rifffs, Life of Crime. It was a great joy seeing Rayvin from The Rifffs at Naasha's for the Skakkomatto launch party. A large part of that joy comes from the fact that he was accompanied by his brother Pierre (Portelli, the artist) who entertained us with an old anecdote about my first pair of prescription glasses. The story goes that the frame for the first pair of spectacles I wore as a teenager to correct my shortsightedness came from a case I found at Ateatru in Tigne. A couple of years after I started wearing them, I bumped into Pierre in Valletta who told me that my glasses looked exactly like a pair he had lost in Tigne. It doesn't take a Sherlock Holmes to deduce that what he lost I had found and used without a second thought that they were anything other than a theatre prop.

Back to The Rifffs. About a month ago, towards the end of April, they played a couple of comeback gigs. Apparently the reunion has been very successful, not only yielding the single I mentioned earlier but also making way for an album that may be seeing the light of day before the end of this summer. This would be the very first album from The Rifffs since they've only every released two singles. Alex Grech should be wholeheartedly congratulated for promoting the coming together of what is undoubtedly one of Malta's best loved bands. Through Reflex Promotions he is even providing those of us who weren't able to attend either of the two April gigs at the Tattingers a glimpse of the way things were though lots of photographs and a couple of amateur video clips. Meanwhile, there's also an official website for The Rifffs.

Speaking of new material, launches, and gigs in Malta, today is the day to head out to Ħagar Qim for what promises to be an amazing evening of world music. A quintent that goes by the name of Tribali is launching its debut CD tonight. You can hear the first track from this album, Sunrise on Teheran. I've known Peter Paul Galea and Jo Sapiano from this band for a long time and I must add that I am very pleasantly surprised with the musical directions they have pursued in recent years. Tribali sounds like no other Maltese band but at the same time there's something uniquely Maltese about them. I haven't managed to put my finger on what that is. Something tells me that if I could attend their show at Ħagar Qim tonight I'd have a better sense of what I'm on about.

Since the first three track for this week's podcast are all new, I thought it would be appropriate to end with something fairly old. My good friend Mario Axiaq has just given me a recording from 1970 made by The Boys. Marc Storace was the singer for The Boys at that time, just before they turned into Cinnamon Hades. The song is called Our Love's Still There and although it is an interesting recording of one of Malta's most popular beat groups from the sixties, it falls far short of the rockier sound they had adopted for their live sets by this time.

At the end of the The Ghost Song on An American Prayer, Jim Morrison says, "I have a splitting headache from which the future is made!" I am beginning to understand exactly what he meant, especially because I know that a couple of paracetamol won't do the trick this time.

The RSS feed for the Mużika Mod Ieħor 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.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Hard Rock Hallelujah

I told you so!! ;-)

Wake up and smell the coffee.

Now hear this:Only Xtruppaw can bring the Eurovision to Malta.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Diska Cool għar-Radio

I didn't want to go another week without publishing another edition of my Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast. So because I knew I wouldn't actually be able to record this week's podcast today, I prepared one just for today before I left Scarborough last week.

Since the Eurovision Song Contest is on tonight, I figured I should do a podcast that references this crazy event without actually playing songs from the show, or almost. This week's podcast starts with a song from Maltese band 8 Ugly, who I discovered via MySpace. I play their song Your Eyes on the podcast, but they actually submitted another song, called Head in the Clouds for this year's selection of Malta's entry for the Eurovision. Do I need to add that they never made it through the prelimiary rounds of the Malta Song for Europe?

If there's a Maltese band I'd really like to see rock the Eurovision, that's most certainly Xtruppaw. They're in final preparations for the launch of their debut album on 2 June at the Luxol Sports Club in St. Andrew's. They've released a single for the album called Diska Cool għar-Radio. You can hear it on this week's podcast, of course. Please call your favourite Maltese radio station (on the off chance that you actually have one) and ask them to play the new single from Xtruppaw. One day my Eurovision dream may come true after all. More about that in a minute.

Eurovision dreams come and go. No one knows this more than Chris and Moira who first represented Malta at the annual contest in 1994, after appearing with William Mangion the previous year. Their low point has to the Times 3's 1999 performance in Israel. However, they've more than redemed themselves with people like me but putting together a band called Krave featuring Billy B on bass and former Brainstorm drummer Roberto Calleia. Listen to the title track Night to Day and see what you think.

I'd be totally amiss if I disregarded Fabrizio Faniello completely. No, I'm not playing one of his songs on my podcast, but I met him face-to-face a couple of times in Athens this week and I believe he's a genuinely level-headed, nice guy. What you'll hear on Mużika Mod Ieħor this week is Alvin Gee's remix for I Do, which makes the song acceptable to anyone who can take dance club music at any dose. Alvin Gee's other work is also accessible through MySpace and that's how and why this track ended up gracing this week's podcast.

As I write this, in the Eurovision Press Centre in Athens' Olympic Complex, the final contest hasn't started yet, so I have no idea if Lordi managed to do what I predicted and hoped they would do ten day ago. In any case, did you imagine that I could not include their Hard Rock Hallelujah on this week's Mużika Mod Ieħor. If you did, then I guess you're not one of the Lordi voters.

To vote for Lordi in Malta tonight call 5004-3217 (landline) or 5061-5517 (SMS).

Anyway, more later...but until then I should add that I'll be all over the place over this coming week, so my blogging may be erratic, but I promise you another cracking Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast next weekend.

The RSS feed for the Mużika Mod Ieħor 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.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Here I Am Lord

I'm not surprised that Eurovision fever has crept into the Maltese blogosphere. While Malta's entry is not exactly wooing the masses, it seems that Finnish rock band Lordi is picking up steam in its quest to rock the Eurovision.

The most amazing thing about Lordi's presence at this year's song contest is not that they're taking part or what they're singing but rather the interest they're attracting from the most unlikely places.'s campaign to turn the tables on all the pop and the glitter that comes with the Eurovision is an amazing attempt to use the power of social networking on the Internet and leverage as much influence on the outcome of the contest.

I won't bore you with the sort of reports I've been writing for the news service on my blog. I know that some people who follow this blog regularly are somewhat baffled by the very fact that I give so much of my time to this annual event. So I should add that I would not be blogging about the Eurovision today if it were not for Lordi and the subversive potential of the movement that's trying to take away the fizz out of the pop world's hold on the contest.

The message is plain and simple: if you live in a Eurovision country and think the Eurovision Song Contest is a joke, do yourself a favour and vote for Lordi on Thursday and Saturday.

I'm surprised that none of the many professional Maltese translators who read this blog have taken up the task of translating the message. If now one takes up the challenge by tomorrow I may have to do it myself.

Meanwhile, here's a photo of journalist Ariadne Massa with Lordi taken this morning. You'll probably enjoy this picture more if you know her personally. I promise you it won't appear with any of her reports in The Times this week.

Ariadne Massa with Lordi in Athens

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Feels Like Home

As promised, it's time for part two of Charles Xuereb's interview with me from his Salon Crit. If you missed part one you can read all about it and/or hear it here.

It's quite appropriate that part two appears online this weekend. I'm now off to Athens. More about that later, when I have something "significant" to say, particularly following the comments about what I wrote a few days ago.

Anyway, click here for the MP3 with part two of the interview. You can get both parts through the MMON podcast feed.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I Predict a Riot

Here's my prediction for the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest: the winner this year is Finland with Hard Rock Hallelujah by Lordi.

I know it's still a little too early to get into the spirit of the contest unless you're a diehard ESC fan. In fact I'm making this prediction without even having heard all the entries for this year's contest. I admit that this is neither very professional nor scientific of me.

I also know that it's unpartiotic of me to predict that Malta's entry may not be the winner at this year's contest. Yet, if you follow the Eurovision Song Contest as I have for the last several years you'll see why I make the controversial prediction that opens this blog post.

Read what Dan Bilefsky from the International Herald Tribune had to say about Lordi at the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest as reproduced in the New York Times. Or take a look at this report in The Guardian from a couple of weeks ago. There's also more coverage on The Sunday Times (of London) and the BBC World News. To my knowledge, none of these prestigous news sources have published much of anything about any other country's entry at the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest. In my book, that's a very important point.

It seems absurd that a rock band similar in style to the most outlandish aspects of acts like Kiss and Alice Cooper should be in the Eurovision final at all. Then again, this is exactly what the contest needs to test the legacy it has created over more than half a century.

This is where and how anyone who has anything to say about televoting for such contests can make their voice heard. Vote for Lordi from Finland at this year's Eurovision Song Contest. Keep in mind that they first need to make it through the semi-final on the 18th of May.

You can listen to Hard Rock Hallelujah at the official Eurovision website, on Lordi's official website or their management company Monstereo's media page. The video, song and everything else is also on MySpace, of course.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Pictures of Home

I knew I would deviate from my routine this weekend but I never thought that things would be inflected by a technical issue on the MMON server system. As planned, there's no new/regular Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast this week or next week. Instead this week I'm releasing the first part of a two-part interview with me, which was originally broadcast on Campus FM a few weeks ago.

During my recent visit to Malta, I was interviewed by Charles Xuereb for his Salon Crit. As you'll hear in the interview, Charles and I go back to the very beginning of my professional career in the early 1980s, when he oversaw some of my very first experiences in radio and television production. Being with him in the studios at Tal-Qroqq made me feel not too unlike how I feel when I visit my parents' home in Sliema. I hadn't had a conversation like this with Charles (neither on nor off-air) since the late 1990s.

To me, the sound of Charles Xuereb's broadcasts is like pictures of home. So, although the original programme is edited from the Campus FM broadcast you'll still hear some of his introductory remarks. Just click here for the MP3 or you can get the recording as the latest podcast from this RSS feed...once the MMON server is back to normal.

Part two will appear on this blog (and as a MMON podcast) no later than next weekend.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

On the Radio

I feel privileged to be among the first to share this CD single with you:

I'll play it on my podcast very soon. Meanwhile, call your favourite Maltese radio station and ask them to play it.

The CD album will be launched on Friday 2 June 2006 at the Luxol Sports Bar in St Andrews.