Watch Isabella Blow’s Wardrobe in “Fashion Galore”

Those lucky enough to find themselves in London this month should treat themselves to a walk through of the Somerset House’s exhibition celebrating the dearly departed Isabella Blow with “Fashion Galore”. Central Saint Martins partnered with the Isabella Blow Foundation to bring the exhibition to life, including SHOWstudio’s resurrection of Blow’s wardrobe as it graces Doddington Hall in this film.

Though she never felt appreciated for her contributions to fashion, (after all, she discovered Alexander McQueen and Sophie Dahl,) her resonance in the industry is clear now. Her archives along tell a great part of fashion’s history. Her influence is still felt – if only she were around to feel our reverence and gratitude. As part of the celebration of Blow’s life, SHOWstudio’s Lou Stoppard conducted interviews with Blow’s friends, colleagues, and cohorts, discussing her role as a muse, the importance of dressing for work (“you bloody lesbian wearing flat shoes” as a way to make an assistant cry, for instance), and the relationship between mental illness and creativity.

In the film, Liberty Ross, Anais Mali, Alexia Wight and Xiao Wen wear Blow’s historical pieces through the halls and grounds of Doddington, honoring her wardrobe and her life. It’s eerie but there’s peace. Here’s hoping Isabella Blow has found hers.

Emeli Sandé and Bryan Ferry Orchestra Do Beyoncé for ‘Gatsby’

With every new addition we hear in full, it seems that the Jay-Z-produced soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby gets weirder and weirder, and perhaps more disjointed. After Beyoncé and Andre 3000’s cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” turned out to be kind of a bummer, we were hoping that Emeli Sandé’s take on Beyoncé with the Bryan Ferry Orchestra, a cover of her mega-hit “Crazy in Love,” would fare a bit better. And it does, but to be fair, expectations were pretty low after “Back to Black.”

Sandé’s vocals are fantastic, and it’s awesome that she’s on a very hyped soundtrack for a very hyped movie right now so more people are exposed to her music through it. And the orchestra, while gifted, feels a little hokey with the muted trumpet, like it’s trying real hard to set the scene for the 1920s, but oh look, it’s a contemporary pop song!

It definitely feels very Baz Luhrmann, if that makes sense—like it’s the Gatsby equivalent of the pop songs in Moulin Rouge! that were shoved into that cabaret environment. Nevertheless, it’s one of the soundtrack’s better offerings. Listen below, and then listen to two other solid covers of “Crazy in Love”—the similar-sounding Puppini Sisters version and Antony & The Johnsons’ heartbreaking ballad version. 

 

Listen to ‘The Great Gatsby’ Soundtrack Sampler

The Great Gatsby as told by Baz Luhrmann is a mixed bag, with 3D effects and overblown sets and probably acting adding who knows what to an already excellent story. Can you tell I’m not sold on this yet? Well, as we gleefully look forward to what will certainly be the movie event of the spring, let’s take a break from all of the trailers and posters and listen to snippets from the soundtrack. With musical direction from Jay-Z, the album is all over the place. First of all, there’s the anticipated cover of "Back to Black" performed by Beyoncé and André 3000. And there’s also a new songs from Lana Del Rey, Sia, The xx, and Jack White. Plus a ’20s-inspired cover of Beyoncé’s "Crazy in Love." (Alright, I’m officially eye-rolling over this Pastiche for Dummies collection.) But at the very end of the day, I know I’m pumped that Fergie and GoonRock finally got it together.

Face-to-Face with the Great Bryan Ferry

To say that I expected Bryan Ferry to be as cool in person as he is in sound and vision would be kinda like saying that I expected my right foot to follow my left. I mean, the man has both epitomized and personified cool throughout each and every moment of the last four decades. If that doesn’t add up to a given, then I’m giving up.

Ferry, who founded English art-rock group Roxy Music in 1970, is every bit the gentlemen — and then some. Reached through my producer friend (Arthur Baker) of his producer friend (Johnson Somerset) just hours before his Miami rehearsal, the British song stylist had no problem taking time out to chat with yours truly, not to mention sitting for a few photos from ace lensman Jeffrey Delannoy. That the rehearsal was the last there’d be before he and his band embarked on the latest leg of their Olympia Tour only compounded the coolness and kindness of it all.

Perhaps Ferry fondly recalled our conversation from a couple weeks ago, when I reached him by phone in Warsaw and we discussed the likes of Lucien Freud (who he both knew and admired and happened to be reading about) and the early 20th century British moderns that Ferry began collecting back in the ’80s, and which he showed at London’s Olympia last year. Perhaps he dug the piece I’d just written about him for The Miami Herald, where I put him among the great good company of Sinatra, Bowie, and Waits. Or maybe Ferry’s just cool like that.

But I digress. Behind the soundboard at The Fillmore Gleason, where Ferry’s kicking off a seventeen-day stretch that ends at LA’s Greek Theater, he comes off like a cross between an old world maestro and an up-to-the-minute producer. It’s a sound that anyone with ears can immediately recognize; an aural swoon of grace and beauty that’s steeped in the tradition of song yet wholly its own. There’s a certain sweep to that sound (think the harnessing of horizons) and an unequivocal majesty (they don’t call him Sir for nothing). To hear it being assembled in real time by the very man who invented it is akin to watching the Wizard pull the levers that begot Oz.

“We’ve got two new singers with us on this leg of the tour,” said Ferry. “Well, not new exactly; they’ve been with me before. But new to this line-up.”

By line-up he means a thirteen-piece band of brothers and sisters whose cohesion is exceeded only by their devotion to the music that’s propelling them all around the world. Those singers he mentioned are none other than Fonzi Thornton and Tawatha Agee, who’ve backed Sir Bryan before. Original Roxy Music drummer Paul Thompson is also back with his lifelong co-conspirator, and he’s as in-the-pocket as he was during the heyday of “Virginia Plaine.” And guitarist Chris Spedding is standing by his main man too, just as he did in 1977 for the In Your Mind Tour, and again in 2002, when they hit the road to promote Frantic, which, as most folks only too well know, was the last time Ferry staged across the States.

Speaking of stages, Ferry told me earlier that he’d seen The Fillmore when he was on holiday in South Beach a few years back and “thought it would be a nice place to play.” Breaking from rehearsal, I got the distinct sense that he was quite happy with his decision (as is Miami). After remarking on the “beauty” of Vienna’s State Opera House (“plenty of ghosts”), where he performed again back in July, and on “how great it was” to finally play cities such as Tel Aviv (“that was fabulous”) and Bucharest (“another highlight”), in addition to the usual amalgam of world capitals, you could say Ferry’s opinion is more than a little informed.

I mentioned that Frantic had brought Ferry to Sunrise Musical Theater, and he immediately remembered “that [the venue] was a long way away” from where we were standing on South Beach. Just as the last time he’d performed in Miami was a long, long time ago.

“The first time we actually played here was a festival at Miami Speedway, in 1972 or 1973,” Ferry told me. “I’m glad we have a chance to come back. It’s really nice here. I’m really enjoying myself.”

A large part of that enjoyment undoubtedly springs from the fact that Ferry stays at no less a swing spot than The Setai when he’s in town, nevermind dining at Prime 112 and Casa Tua, two of South Beach’s most deliciously hopping eateries. That band of brothers and sisters most certainly adds to the equation too, as I’m sure does the company of the very jake Johnson Somerset (who I shall owe in perpetuity) and the keenly-attuned Isaac Ferry, who’s one of four number one sons.

Mostly though it’s Ferry himself who brings great good things to life — and to our lives. His sound, his style, his royal smoothness, has paved more than many less traveled roads with gold, and left legions basking in his wake. Call me a fan boy if you want, but to me Ferry can do no wrong. That I got to get with him face-to-face at The Fillmore, surely must mean I’m doing something right. Slip out when he hits your town and see how readily you agree.

Photo by: Jeffrey Delannoy

November Music Reviews: Avey Tare, Maserati, The Suzan

Avey Tare, Down There (Carpark) Two years ago, Avey Tare, one-third of experimental band of outsiders Animal Collective, decided to pursue his own sound. The result is a multi-dimensional solo album that pulls listeners, note by note, deep into a neo-psychedelic netherworld. Just like the crocodiles that inspired the album, Down There uses stealth and subversion to prey upon our eardrums. Tare’s effervescent, haunting melodies plunge into a distorted world of sound, making this the perfect accompaniment for a sunset picnic or the apocalypse. Whereas tracks like “Laughing Hieroglyphic” are languorous, lazy affairs, “Oliver Twist” bubbles over with dancefloor-friendly electropop. —Hillary Weston

Maserati, Pyramid of the Sun (Temporary Residence Limited) Remember that scene in The Breakfast Club where Judd Nelson triumphantly fist-pumps the sky with his fingerless-gloved hand? The new Maserati songs sound the way that looked. Distorted, soaring outsider anthems populate the Georgia-based rockers’ latest album, a combination of car-commercial–friendly, open-air wistfulness and percussive rage. The instrumentation here is, in fact, so expressive that one forgets the album has no lyrics. One of Jerry Fuchs’ last recordings before his tragic death a year ago this month, Pyramid of the Sun is an elegiac and powerful tribute to the late, great drummer. It ends, appropriately, with “Bye M’Friend, Goodbye.” —Nick Haramis

Bryan Ferry, Olympia (Astralwerks) Bryan Ferry’s long, prolific career is surprising only because his early success with Roxy Music came during the coke-fueled ’70s, a decade that saw the art-rock pioneer rack up six consecutive gold records. His musical touch, still vital, can be found throughout Olympia, Ferry’s new solo album, a romantic and spirited effort that combines his signature stage-whisper vocals with an eclectic assortment of collaborators. While lead single “You Can Dance” is a polished yet antiseptic stab at dancefloor filler, subsequent tracks are full, textured, and satisfying. “Me Oh My”—featuring Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour on guitars and former bandmate Brian Eno on synth—brings out Ferry’s mastery of drama, emotion, and restraint. “Song to the Siren,” meanwhile, has Roxy vet Phil Manzanera and Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood bringing Ferry back to his “Avalon” heyday while marching triumphantly into the musical future. The master has returned, humbler, wiser, and more listenable than ever. —Victor Ozols

The Suzan, Golden Week for the Poco Poco Beat (Fool’s Gold/Downtown) The Suzan, an all-girl punk-pop foursome, is Japan’s cutest export since that waving white kitten with the red collar. Their debut album, Golden Week for the Poco Poco Beat (See? Cute!), is at once funky, inscrutable, and undeniable. Tracks like “Home,” the Suzan’s xylophone-heavy first single, and “Devils” (Swedish superstar Lykke Li lends her vocals) are sure to become indie classics, while the instrumental “Secret” and alt-rock slow jam “Into the Light” prove that the Suzan transcends frothy pop-rock. —Daniela Dello Joio

The Concretes, WYWH (Friendly Fire) Like all good things emerging from Scandinavia’s creative groundswell, the Concretes’ fourth album was conceived on a freezing winter day over drinks. It had been three years since the group, which first earned commercial success with the gushing pop ditty “You Can’t Hurry Love,” had produced a new note, and the road back to the studio, it turned out, was to be paved with disco. Now an eight-person collective with former drummer Lisa Milberg owning the microphone (Victoria Bergsman left to pursue solo projects), WYWH slides between tracks with ’70s slinky keyboards and sloughing vocals. Songs like “Crack in the Paint” recall turquoise eye shadow and Barry Manilow. There’s even a well-placed sax honk. A certain four-lettered Swedish band will not be named. —Megan Conway

The 1900s, Return of the Century (Parasol) It’s been three years since the release of the 1900s’ Cold & Kind, and although they look a bit different—two founding members dropped out of the band—their sound is as varied as ever. Return of the Century is a departure from their baroque orchestral days, leaping forward with strong vocal arrangements and narrative focus. Woozy with guitars, the album tells lively but harrowing stories of desert adventures and cult compounds, the sound teetering between ragged and pristine: the album was recorded in top-notch studios, but also at home. Return of the Century is an oddball odyssey of the rarest kind. —HW

Thom Yorke, Mark Ronson, & Bryan Ferry Record Two Minutes of Silence

If the singer of Radiohead, the former frontman of Roxy Music, and BlackBook‘s September cover star release a single for the UK’s armed forces, does it make a sound? In the case of “2 Minute Silence,” actually, no. Along with British prime minister David Cameron, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? actor Bob Hoskins, and tennis star Andy Murray, the trio of musicians will release the track to iTunes on Nov. 7. Rather than a 60-years-later response to John Cage, the single was conceived in commemoration of Britain’s Remembrance Day, with all proceeds benefiting British military veterans. “Rather than record a song, we felt the UK public would recognize the poignancy of silence and its clear association with remembrance,” explained Chris Simpkins, the Director General of the Royal British League. Totally genius or supremely lazy?

Packaged with the track will be a video of the “songwriters” staring into the camera silently. Watch the 11-second teaser below: