Sunday, March 12, 2006

Benny & The Gets

Del Amitri! I mentioned them in another post. They’re one of these bands that will probably only ever be remembered (by non-Dellies, or whatever their fans call themselves) for the one song – ‘Nothing ever happens’ (‘Nothing happens at all… the needle returns to the start of the song and we all carry on like before’, which is certainly a work of genius to go in a top 5 of ‘Kill yourself because it’s Monday’ numbers, which if I were Nick Hornby would be all be listed here, but I’m not, so you can only speculate.) Having said that, without Googling – the cheater’s way to impress! - I think I can name one other song (Spit in the rain?), and I could hum another one (‘da na naa naa na naa na na na na, na naaa, naaa-na naa’), but anyway, if you want Del Amitri chat, go here:

Sorry to go round and round here, only I was thinking about Del Amitri as I whizzed across Tottenham Court Road on my velocipede recently. Gazing up and shaking my head, as I always do, at the aptly-named Dominion theatre with its gigantic Freddie Mercury fibreglass statue punching the air as We will rock you marches triumphantly into a fourth year like the cartoon hammers in The Wall, a Joycean (= fucking annoying)sequence of thoughts along the lines of 'We will rock you! Whether you like it or not... thing is, I love that tune... I used to like Ben Elton too... pre-packaged nites out... hardly 'Lifehouse', is it? rock & popcorn...' brought me to remembering that Bruce Delamitri is the name of a Tarantino-style director in one of Ben Elton's later book/play/whatever it is, Popcorn.

This witless combination of hamfisted satire and late 20th century media obsessions (actually, I’m going to put that on my homepage) kind of exemplifies where it all went wrong for Ben, or Baron Benjamin of Elton as he is now certain to become, thanks to his close links with the Royal Family. A couple of mates and I saw Ben Elton perform live stand up comedy when I was about 14. He was, to our inexperienced ears, brilliantly funny. He wasn't bad, but hindsight (and knowing a bootlegged dictaphone recording I listened to for ages afterwards virtually by heart) reveals his essentially reactionary jobbing farty persona to be, well, not a persona. Yes indeed. I mean, I will let him off to a certain extent because he co-wrote Blackadder. However…

His descent into blandness, and, latterly, unseemly collaborations, has been not precipitous but – worse – a leisurely downward amble. Shows like The Thin Blue Line and his increasingly dull novels display an admirable work ethic but detail a corresponding diminishing of content, with little in the way of anything important to discuss, or even a bit daring stylistically, like, say The Young Ones. The later chamber of horrors West End [of London] rock musicals merely lay like a fat grease spot on the napkin undulating over the contentedly stuffed gut.

I’m not just talking about Queen, but Tonight’s the Night, about Rod Stewart (‘Do Ya Think I'm Sexy sung by groupies, Hot Legs sung by masseuses, Sailing sung by sailors’ - JESUS) The Beautiful Game, about football - will you give it up? It’s a short step from Tonight’s the Night to ‘My new project, a musical about T.Rex called Dandy in the Underworld, in which Marc Bolan returns from the dead to show people that…’, and then I’m afraid I shall have to call the police.

My own new musical based on the songs of The Police - Sting, Where is Thy Death? - is coming soon. Also in the pipeline: Elton Benny & The Jets, a rock-musical about a comedy writer in his forties who rejects glam glitz and spangly suits and pseudo-political engagement and being funny in favour of banal bourgeois mating rites and doing the book for a succession of feeble yet toweringly successful musicals which allow already insanely, impossibly wealthy 70’s rock musicians to further milk a bored public for their hard-earned readies. Starring Jake Shears from Scissor Scisters, in his West End debut, as Elton Benny. One stalls seat: £49.50.

Here's Duke Fitzben Elton-Niceone talking through his motivation for assisting multi-millionares in post-career aspic populism

I can pinpoint the exact moment I knew it was over between me and Sir Lord Benjamin of Eltonia to the juncture at which, hosting the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations, he turned to the crowd at Fuckingham Palace with that familiar elbow out microphone gesture and upturned shiny face and intoned the deathless phrase:

'Ladies and Gentlemen, will you please give it up for The Spice Girls!'

I. Ask. You. It doesn’t matter really, obviously. This sort of thing happens all the time. By which I mean me getting exercised over people becoming boring and profit-motivated and willing to do all sorts of obtrusive media tat, not the actual event of writers introducing pop bands at the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebration. That’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Yes indeed.

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