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20 août 2006

Amnesty to re-launch Secret Policeman's Ball

LONDON (Reuters) - Amnesty International is reviving its Secret Policeman's Balls, comedy events spearheaded by Monty Python star John Cleese 30 years ago to raise awareness and cash for the human rights group.

The new show, on October 14, will be held at London's Royal Albert Hall and feature what the organisation on Friday called an "unprecedented lineup of comedy and music talent".

"Nowadays, it's taken for granted that famous people support good causes," Amnesty said on its Web site. "But in 1976, no-one thought like that. Fundraising events were evenings of experimental poetry." That all changed when Cleese rounded up "a few friends" for Amnesty's first show at Her Majesty's Theatre called "A Poke in the Eye (With a Sharp Stick)" and later televised as "Pleasure at Her Majesty's".

The evenings grew increasingly ambitious with musical acts joining in, and in 1979 The Secret Policeman's Ball was staged at the same theatre and featured comic heavyweights like Cleese, Peter Cook, Rowan Atkinson and Billy Connolly. By "The Secret Policeman's Third Ball" in 1987 at the London Palladium, comedians were joined by musicians including Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, Lou Reed and Duran Duran.

Amnesty said the next ball would launch its Protect the Human Week and would include 21st century ingredients including animation and podcasts. "Public support for Amnesty increased by 700 per cent after the first three shows (and) the profile of human rights went through the roof," the organisation said. The show's producer Lisle Turner, added: "We're doing it now because the world needs a poke in the eye, it needs laughter and frankly, it needs more Balls. "Sometimes what the world needs to see global human rights abuses is a hard hitting report. But sometimes a side-splitting joke can work just as well."

World Party boards musical 'ship' again

Karl Wallinger once led off a World Party album by singing, ‘‘it is time to remember/it is time to forget." After an extended absence from American shores, the celebrated Welsh musician wouldn't be surprised if you still referred to his Beatlesque pop and soulful rock band in the past tense.

Last March, Wallinger played his first U.S. gig in eight years at a music industry conference in Austin. ‘‘I didn't even know if anyone was going to be there, let alone remember any of the songs,'' recalled the World Party mastermind, in a phone interview from L.A. on Tuesday. ‘‘When I was greeted onstage by crazed fans who sang along with every word, it was fantastic and very moving. I was a bit gutted that night.''

Wallinger first gained fame playing bass and keyboards for The Waterboys from 1983-85. After a dustup with leader Mike Scott, Wallinger broke off to form World Party in 1985. Essentially a one-man-band early on, with Wallinger handling virtually everything, World Party released its socially-conscious debut ‘‘Private Revolution'' (featuring Sinead O'Connor) in 1987.

The group became a college/alt-rock radio favorite and had four top 10 hits in the mid-'80s and early '90s (‘‘Put the Message in the Box,'' ‘‘Way Down Now,''‘Is It Like Today,'' ‘‘Ship of Fools''). The latter was a top 40 single on the Billboard Hot 100. A decade later, Wallinger's layoff wasn't by choice. A series of unfortunate events put his life and career on hold. He recorded the title track to Edward Burns' 1996 flick ‘‘She's the One,'' but it didn't end up on the soundtrack. Then Robbie Williams secretly commandeered Wallinger's band to do a cover version and it climbed the U.K. charts. ‘‘Egyptology,'' the underrated 1997 World Party album, was met with a lukewarm reception. Then Wallinger left his record company and the band's manager died.

In late 2000, World Party released its fifth album ‘‘Dumbing Up'' independently in Britain and did a short promotional tour. Wallinger planned to secure U.S. distributor for the CD when he suddenly had a brain aneurysm the following February. ‘‘That closed down shop,'' he said. ‘‘I never got a chance to see how anything turned out. It was an aborted run.'' During rehabilitation, Wallinger had to slowly regain his speech and walking abilities, but mercifully still recalled the World Party catalog. He did suffer a loss of peripheral vision.

‘‘I'm pretty much back to normal except for being three times the size I used to be -- small problems (considering) a lot of people aren't around after this thing.'' Now Wallinger is back in business, celebrating the band's 20th anniversary and life in general. ‘‘I don't know of any other band that's had so little connection to the times they've been in ... there wasn't really a game plan when I started. I'm just lucky the songs have remained in people's heads.''

Recently, the entire back catalog was reissued on Wallinger's Seaview Records.‘Dumbing Up'' has been spruced up and includes a bonus DVD with all the videos and assorted goodies personally supervised by the artist. ‘‘It was meant to be something you could lose yourself in a bit,'' he said. ‘‘I couldn't put the same album out again over here. The diehard fans would already have it on import and they're the last people I want to (tick) off.''

Wallinger plans to release a new studio CD in May (‘‘I'm really looking forward to getting back in the studio; I've got so many ideas''). And a long-gestating collaboration from the '90s with Peter Gabriel and several Real World artists, ‘‘Big Blue Ball,'' is due later this year. Touring with the current band, a five-piece Wallinger said is the biggest he's ever played with, has been ‘‘incredible -- I didn't think I was going to be doing this ever again.''

(...) Writer : I read that "Big Blue Ball," your Peter Gabriel collaboration, will finally be released this year.

In the '90s, I went down (to Gabriel's Real World studios) for a few consecutive years. Peter got his Real World label artists and some producers -- Phil Ramone, John Leckie -- as well as Tim Finn, Jah Wobble and fiddle player Nigel Kennedy. It was an amazing blend of people. I was working with Peter in a room, we'd get a groove going and then we'd wheel all these people in from other parts of the studio. We also did songs with Sinead O'Connor. We kept layering people on there. It's taken this long to get it all organized. Every day, there was some mind-blowing musical event going on there.

New deal for Tony Levin Band ?

Todd Rundgren à Montréal

C’est le 3 septembre prochain que le public montréalais aura la chance de voir l’artiste rock culte par excellence : Todd Rundgren. Acteur important de la scène musical depuis la fin des années soixante, il a contribué à divers styles musicaux : psychédelique, progressif, power pop ainsi qu’à la balade à saveur soul et au hard rock.

Étant sensé venir nous rendre visite en juin dernier avec la nouvelle mouture des Cars (rebaptisé The New Cars) , le concert ayant était annulé, Todd a décidé de remmettre ça au Club Soda, avec son propre matériel, cette fois-ci. Et l’homme s’est bien entouré ; Tony Levin à la basse (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel), ainsi que Jesse Gress (guitare) et Jerry Marotta (batterie). On ne sait pas grand chose à propos de ce que Todd va nous offrir lors de son passage dans la métropole mais gageons que l’on entendra certains de ses classiques tel "Hello it’s me" ou "I saw the light" ou peut-être même des pièces de son plus récent effort, "Liars", album remarquable, produit en 2004. C’est l’un des très rare passage à Montréal de cette légende vivante. Donc, c’est un rendez-vous à ne pas manquer.

Besoin de relaxer?

Réputée pour ses disques dans le style communément appelé ambient ou chillout, la maison de disques montréalaise Interchill a lancé début août quatre albums, trois compilations et un disque d’Adham Shaikh (...)

(...) Arcana, est quant à lui une compilation, non mixée, des artistes du label Interchill, qu’ils aient ou non un album à leur actif. C’est un tantinet plus rhytmé (pas que Sanctuary ne l’était pas) et un peu plus synthétique. Le côté worldbeat de celui-ci est plus métissé également, alors qu’on entend par exemple du berimbau brésilien dans une pièce en apparence indienne, mais très certainement tropicale. Je serais tenté, avec Arcana, de dire que les amateurs du label de Peter Gabriel, Real World, seront ravis avec ce disque.(...)