Judgement (or judgment) is the process of forming an opinion by discerning and comparing. It is also a formal utterance of an authoritative opinion. It can be interpreted as the final judging of humankind by God. Other people’s judgements can be quite boring, he said judgmentally.
The last two times I can remember Roo, my wife, going to a pub was after my Aunt’s funeral in September and to see our special friends Arthur and Kerry in November. We used to go to pubs quite frequently and our judgement of them afterwards displayed completely different perspectives. Whereas Roo would note the decor, conversations with friends about holidays and the quality of the food, I would be interested in good beer, non-intrusive music and a discussion on the meaning of existence. The only point on which we agreed was whether or not we got a seat.
A few years ago, my friend Pete and I met two teacher colleagues in a pub in Brighton. They were great company, excellent teachers, about half our age, pretty and happily married. We met in The Basketmakers Arms in Brighton, a pub I’d never been to. The decor was great and there were a lot of groovy, entitled people, drinking lager and shouting at each other over a music track consisting of The Pipettes, Brakes, British Sea Power and The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster. (I’ve made that up: I’ve no idea what the music was apart from the fact that it was loud and I didn’t like it). There were no seats, it was heaving and there was nowhere to put my coat. I took an instant dislike to The Basketmakers Arms and have never been back. I much prefer The Argyle Arms where the paintwork is 40 years old and although the chairs are rickety there are always some available. Additionally, there is no piped music and the Harvey’s tastes like nectar.
Around the time that I went to The Basketmakers Arms, Monster Bobby met Rosay in the same pub and invited her to join The Pipettes who were a Brighton-based indie-pop girl group. Their most successful single was “Pull Shapes” which reached No. 26 in the UK Singles Chart in 2006. The group split in 2011. Whilst it might be easy to dismiss The Pipettes as Generation Y bubblegum, two of their members have gone on to more sophisticated musical endeavours. Former Pipette, Gwenno Saunders, released a fascinating album called “Tresor” in 2022. Monster Bobby’s real name is Robert Barry and Rosay’s real name is Rose Elinor Dougall, whose new album, “The Waeve”, made in collaboration with Graham Coxon, is a fascinating musical mishmash.
Rose Elinor Dougall is the grand daughter of Robert Dougall, the BBC newsreader. She is 36 years old and went to Brighton College, where the fees for boarders are £30000 a year although for non-boarders the fees are “only” £6000 a year. About 13 million people in the U.K. live in poverty, including 4 million children. The poverty line is currently £141 a week (£7332 a year) for households with a single adult and £244 a week (£12688 a year) for households with an adult couple.
Graham Coxon went to Stanway Comprehensive School near Colchester. He is 53 years old. He was a member of Blur until his alcoholism proved unacceptable to the rest of the band in 2002. In the mid-Nineties, the media encouraged a rivalry between Blur, Oasis and other “Britpop” bands such as Blur. Graham Coxon became irritated by the music industry and he refused to appear in the video for Blur song “Country House” unless he could dress as a milkman. He has three children: Pepper Bak Troy Coxon, who is 23 and whose mother is Graham Coxon’s former partner Anna Norlander. Dorelia Talys Bee is 10 and her mother is Graham Coxon’s former wife Essy Syed, from whom he divorced in 2020. Rose Elinor Dougall gave birth to his third child in 2022. Since leaving Blur, Graham Coxon has released eight solo albums and received a lot of critical praise with one critic describing “The Spinning Top” (2009) as a “staggering achievement“.
In 2004, Graham Coxon went to a Pipettes gig in London and after the show, he met Rose Elinor Dougall, who remembers that “I think I spoke to him after the show and shouted at him to buy me a drink. I asked for a disgustingly strong drink. I was drinking a lot of brandy at the time – I don’t know what was up with me.” He bought her a quadruple brandy and coke and ran off but 16 years later their friendship was rekindled when they were both invited to play at a gig between lockdowns to raise money for Lebanon after the explosion in Beirut. Once again, they met after the show – in this case they shared “a dodgy burger and chips in the dressing room” to discuss the idea of a collaboration. The isolation of lockdown meant that time was on their hands and the exchange of ideas that followed, led to romance (and a baby). The Waeve is a joint venture by two musicians from opposite ends of the British pop spectrum. Although they were not a natural match, the peculiarity of living through a pandemic forced them to rethink everything that they considered to be normal. Graham Coxon put it like this: “Do we actually write some music, do something completely different, and out of our comfort zone, or just give the whole bloody thing up and forget about it, generally – life, music and all the rest of it. ” Rose Elinor Dougall said that they found that they shared a love of “the blood, guts, sex and nastiness of English folk music. There’s a brutality to nature. It’s not all pastoral.”
Yesterday I wrote about Lisa O’Neill’s remarkable new album and today I have read a quote from Graham Coxon about “The Waeve”, but applies equally well to “All Of This Is Chance“. “I always loved the idea of when you get a hag stone and look through it, you’re meant to see the world in a different way. You’re meant to be seeing the world of the fairies and the elves. It’s definitely been a long-term interest of mine – the elementals of the fire, the water and the earth, the landscape, the objects and the trees and what they might symbolise.”
“Someone Up There” begins as a one-note punky diatribe sung by Rose Elinor Dougall until Graham Coxon’s voice and Fripp-esque guitar develops the song into a rousing two-minute cross-fertilisation of influences.
The opening song on the album is “Can I Call You” which begins with a solemn vocal from Rose Elinor Dougall, underscored by a beautiful piano refrain and understated echo-drenched guitar noodling. As the video explodes into colour, a scintillating fluid guitar solo from Graham Coxon moves the song onto another level. His love of David Jackson’s saxophone playing on “The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other” by Van Der Graaf Generator is explored towards the end of the song where both vocalists successfully strive to grab attention away from the cacophonous guitar, saxophone, drums and keyboard.
There’s more saxophone warbling on “Kill Me Again”, which starts with Graham Coxon’s vocals before showcasing the duo’s sophisticated harmony singing. The press release for the album makes reference to Sandy Denny, John & Beverley Martyn, Kevin Ayers, and Van der Graaf Generator and Graham Coxon’s musicianship on this album reflects his love of early 1970’s progressive music.
Rose Elinor Dougall’s favourite album is “Blue” by Joni Mitchell and her comments about “The Last Time I Saw Richard,” sum up her own approach to writing. “It is such a strange song that starts off as a love song but actually is a lot about her own sense of disconnection, a really defiant female perspective of being created in the eyes of a man and trying to protest against this perception of who she is as a women and trying to lay claim to her own identity. She is the perfect conduit for enunciating these feelings, so emotionally intelligent.” This is demonstrated beautifully in the folk-jazz elegy, “Undine” on this highly interesting and entertaining new album.