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2012 In Review

It’s been a funny year really, hasn’t it?

For every national celebration, there’s been at least another light entertainer with their conscience as clean as their hard-drive. From Jubilee to Jimmy and the whole Mayan let-down, 2012 has raised many eyebrows. Here’s my year in pop culture…

2012’s Movie of the Year

I didn’t go to the cinema at all during 2012 (unless I’ve mis-remembered). Not much good stuff being released this year except for ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, which I didn’t see upon release as I couldn’t get to an iMax theatre in time (and still haven’t seen it, for that reason).

Instead I turned to DVD releases, and the best one from this year, I think, is the long-overdue genre return of Alex Chandon, with the true horror story about Swaffham’s history called ‘In Bred‘. Full of animal/man interbreeding, vegetable sex-play, extreme CGI gore, a very amusing scene involving pork scratchings, and I clearly lied about the connection to Swaffham.

In Bred‘ is not a brain tickler, but still shamelessly entertaining in its ‘Psychoville’ vs. ‘Straw Dogs’ way. Oh, and ‘spoiler alert’, I like the fact that all the good people die brutally by the final reel, with the monstrous village characters gleefully walking off, blood-soaked and smelling slightly of sheep dung. Again, I want to state that I did actually falsify any connection at all to Swaffham.

Album of the Year

Talking of pork scratchings, it’s been a great year for Gristle. I’m talking about the surviving ex-members of Throbbing Gristle and their uncharacteristically fruitful year of new releases, but I hope you appreciate the link there.

For Genesis P-Orridge, there’s been the theatre and dvd release of his unforgettable pandrogynous documentary ‘The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye‘, his regular public performances state-side and, lately, a new vinyl release from Psychic TV 3.

But my album of the year lies with the other surviving (and not) members of TG (Cosey Fanni Tutti, Chris Carter, and Sleazy – RIP). After the fantastic pulsing ‘Transverse‘ collaboration with Factory Floor earlier in the year, they decided to release three more albums this past month – ‘Desertshore‘ being the most outstanding release, and my option for the Album of the Year 2012.

X-TG’s ‘Desertshore‘ is an album I am not going to describe, as I – too often – ramble on more than a bearded naturist. But, in a nutshell, it is a loose adaption of the Nico album of the same name, it is elegiac in its expression, with unusual guest vocalists and outstanding electro-experimentation, and its the most brave and strongest release this year by leaps and bounds. Thoroughly Recommended. Get it now. Get it. Get it. Get it. Get it.

Other album highlights of the year include John Cale’s return from ‘Nooky Wood‘, 80% of Lana Del Ray’s debut album, great reissues of the Manics debut album (a desperately needed remaster) and the ‘Velvet underground and Nico’ classic came out in a rather cheeky super deluxe edition.

Book of the Year

It has to be “Unknown Pleasures – Inside Joy Division” By Peter Hook. Whilst everyone else were seemingly fantasising about being whipped and bound prostitutes in a concentration camp cell (Mummy Porn, I’m looking at you), I was reading about Joy Division. And there’s a grim joke there, if you look for it.

This book was finally the authentic ‘band’ account that I was wanting for decades (yes, another in-joke), after I felt Deborah Curtis’s book to be (understandably) too blinkered, mono-focussed, and overtly-subjective to be the final word on poor old Ian and the band.

Which moves me on to…

My Personal Highlight of 2012

Hacienda Records recently invited me along to the soundcheck of Peter Hook’s ‘Unknown Pleasures’ gig in Norwich, to do some snaps for their instagram feed. If that whole experience wasn’t memorable enough, Peter performing New Order’s ‘Dreams Never End’ to myself and only three other people was THE creative highlight of my year. Exhibiting my works in New York this year for the first time was good, but that intimate performance was better.

Pop Culture Event of 2012

“Paedo-McCarthyism”. Let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment. Since Savilegate first happened, we’ve ALL been compiling a mental list of the light entertainers which we think are next to, um, feature on a ‘list’. Nervous glances towards Bob Carolgees, both Krankies, the rage-fueled Shakin’ Stevens, and Freddy (out of Rod, Jane, and… fame) all made us feel queasy as we were forced to become revisionist regarding the nation’s seemingly innocent TV past. NOT that I am implying that anyone I’ve mentioned above are involved in ANYTHING untoward or unseemly. Beyond their stage acts, of course.

Which brings us nicely to…

2012’s Most Bizarre Moment

…Which has to be the Yorkshire Ripper’s character reference for Jimmy Savile. How Post-Modern do we become when we have a serial killer vouching for the ‘innocent’ behaviour of a TV light entertainer?

After Savilegate turned everyone’s childhood memories of seeing Edd the Duck at a seaside roadshow into something much more sinister, Peter Sutcliffe spoke out to the tabloids, saying that Jimmy Savile was NEVER involved in the slaying of women – at least not the same rampage that he was involved in – and that Savile was an all-round nice geezer as far as he was concerned – a chap who would come into Sutcliffe’s prison and spend quality time with him; bear hugs, playful fireside wrestling, etc.

Card games of Rummy and Uno were not mentioned by Sutcliffe, though the image of them both crouched over ‘Hungry Hippos’ is perhaps slightly less disturbing than Savile and Sutcliffe taking turns playing ‘Operation’ together.

Well, that was my year. What was yours??


Peter Hook by Phil Barrington

Joy Division’s ‘Unknown Pleasures’ performed by Peter Hook and The Light. Norwich Waterfront. Autumn 2012. By Phil Barrington.

I was very kindly invited by Hacienda Records to shoot the soundcheck for the legendary Peter Hook (Joy Division / New Order), along with the ‘Unknown Pleasures’ concert itself at the Norwich Waterfront (Autumn 2012).

For those with smartphones, many of the following photographs of mine have already been seen on the official instagram stream here; http://instagram.com/peterhookandthelight

The full series of photographs from this soundcheck/concert, and much more information about the event, can be found on my Facebook page here; www.facebook.com/BarringtonArts

Personally speaking, the stand-out section of the soundcheck was Hooky’s complete run-through of New Order’s ‘Dreams Never End’. Played only to an audience of myself, my friend Jon Parry, and two interviewers. ‘Memorable’ is a word.

“Following their first full UK tour in late May/early June of this year and a recent headline performance at The Hop Farm, Peter Hook And The Light take “Unknown Pleasures” on the road to a host of new venues across England and Scotland in late November and early December 2012. The Light…play the widely acclaimed album sequentially and in its entirety along with other classic and lesser known material from Warsaw and Joy Division’s repertoires.” www.peterhook.co.uk
“The shows turned out to be truly unique in their own distinctive way, but what can be said is that they shared a similar celebratory vibe, a celebration of all things Joy Division. Peter Hook had the responsibility of assembling a band and live show that would musically represent Joy Divisions short yet rich history as a group that changed British rock music forever, he succeeded in doing just that.” Big Wheel Magazine, Sept 2011.