24 June, 2012

The Bonus Discs - RAM

Now hear this...
There’s no denying that RAM is well deserving of the deluxe treatment.  Along with London Town, Back to the Egg, Off the Ground and Chaos and Creation, it’s been one of Paul McCartney’s most underrated albums.  Even so, this is the most lavish edition yet in the ongoing Paul McCartney Archive Collection series.

The remastering job is pristine and if you’ve been persevering with old vinyl copies as I have, you’ll definitely hear new things in there.   Beyond that, there are 40 years worth of reviews of RAM, some of which have even learnt from their earlier mistakes, so let’s look at the additional material:

The second disc starts with Another Day, Paul’s first post-Beatle single, recorded at the same time as the RAM sessions but released separately.  This is followed by its B-side Oh Woman, Oh Why, and Little Woman Love, also recorded during these sessions but not released until a couple of years later on the B-side of the Mary Had a Little Lamb single.  Both tracks have interesting moments, like the New Orleans style piano riff on Little Woman Love, but on the whole, they are B-side material.  

The rest of Disc 2 is all previously unreleased.  A Love for You stayed in the vaults for 30 years and was eventually used in the film The In-Laws, but the version presented here is a remix which gained overdubs in 1981 and was mixed in 1986.  As such, it sounds a bit more modern than the rest of the pieces here.   Hey Diddle was first officially heard on Wingspan and because it was just a home jam, we kind of wished it wasn’t.  The version presented here though is the full studio version and it’s gorgeous with some lovely fingerpicked guitar making up for the rather twee lyrics.  
Great Cock and Seagull Race is a pretty standard 12-bar blues jam which features Henry McCullough before he joined Wings.  Rode All Night is another jam, this time featuring only Paul and drummer Denny Seiwell.  It’s overlong and half-baked but even so, it rocks like a beast and could have been great if they developed it into a complete song.  The disc concludes with Sunshine Sometime which is a sweet, lounge-y instrumental which shows that for every piece of substandard noodling in Macca’s archive, there’s something else that makes you think, “Why on earth was that not released until now?”

Disc 3 is the entire RAM album in mono.  Unlike The Beatles’ mono mixes, which they spent far more time on that the stereo versions, this should not be considered the definitive version of RAM.  The mono mix was created specifically for AM radio and not intended for release, although Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey was released as a mono single in the US.  The most noticable difference is that the vocals cut through the mix a bit more on the mono version.  

Then, there’s Thrillington.  For those who haven’t heard the story already, Thrillington was a mysterious album of jazz-influenced orchestral arrangements of every song on RAM, credited to the fictitious London socialite, Percy “Thrills” Thrillington.  Released in 1977, Paul denied all knowledge, but came clean when asked about the album at a press conference in 1989.  Prices for original copies of the record skyrocketed.  The book reveals that Paul had the idea of making the album as a bit of a joke and shortly after RAM was released, hired Richard Hewson to arrange and conduct Thrillington with no brief other than that there be no lead vocals.  Paul does stop just short of admitting he was high when he had the idea for the album, which was shelved for six years.  He was possibly high too when he thought a pseudonymous orchestral album with teaser advertising through newspaper classifieds might chart during the year punk broke.  Then again, he had his biggest hit in the same year with a Scottish waltz, so what do I know?

Even the notes in the book tend towards dismissing Thrillington as an inconsequential curio but that’s rather unfair.  As orchestral arrangements of pop records go – and the market was awash with them in the early 70s – it’s really very good, and played by some great session musicians, including Herbie Flowers and the Swingle Singers.  It may be cheesy, but it’s top quality cheese and the arrangements generally suit the songs very well.  The only time when the song seems to say, “Ooh, don’t do that to me,” is during the sudden rhythmic changes on Back Seat of My Car and even then, it’s not too bad.
There’s an excellent history of all the Thrillington sessions HERE.

RAM is also available as a two-disc special edition, RAM in mono has been released on vinyl as part of these reissues and the 1995 CD release of Thrillington isn’t too hard to find, so the only content that’s exclusive to this edition is the DVD.  
It features an 11-minute audio interview with Paul discussing the making of the album, which is illustrated Ken Burns-style with photographs from the period and, as with the McCartney DVD, some rather clever animation.  Film clips for Heart of the Country and 3 Legs are included.  These clips were specifically made at the time, but assembled from footage of Paul and Linda on their farm as with the Maybe I’m Amazed clip.  The same material could just as easily be used for Long Haired Lady, Ram On or Eat at Home if they had felt like it.  As with the clips from the McCartney DVD, the audio in the film clips has not been remastered, giving it a period authenticity.  Also included are Hey Diddle as featured in the Wingspan film, and a live version of Eat At Home from the 1972 European tour with film shot by Denny Seiwell.
It’s a perfunctory DVD, mainly because there’s so little visual material from the time.  Perhaps the most desirable part of the DVD is the menu music, which features various selections from a record called Brung To Ewe.  This was a disc which was distributed to radio stations and featured chatter from Paul and Linda plus several versions of a fanfare-like theme, “Now Hear This Song of Mine,” which was intended to introduce songs from RAM.  It’s quite a shortcoming of this release that they did not include the complete Brung to Ewe record.  

That’s the content, but mention must be made of the packaging of this edition.  The previous deluxe editions of Band on the Run, McCartney and McCartney II stayed just the right side of sensible, coming in a hardcover book.  This release comes with three books (count ’em!) a period style envelope of photographic prints and replicas of hand-written lyric sheets, complete with stains.  Mercifully, the front dimensions of the box that houses it all are the same as the others in the archive series so it won’t look too uneven on the same shelf.  It’s an incredibly luxurious package but at this point, you have to ask, what gives, Paul?  Did you get a look at the Pink Floyd reissues and decide that cloth-bound hardcover books just weren’t ostentatious enough?  As with the rest of the Archive Collection, the deluxe edition comes with access to high resolution, 24-bit, 96kHz downloads of the music, and RAM also has a voucher for 1 year’s “free” access to premium content at www.paulmccartney.com, the value of which is not immediately apparent to me. 

To say that this is a fans-only release is completely redundant.  Of course it’s for fans only.  No teenager or twenty-something is going to think, “I really should check out this Paul McCartney geezer.  I think I’ll spend $100 on one of his more obscure albums.”  Even so, there are more than enough cashed-up baby-boomers to make the box with all the trinkets sell well while still making all the actual content available for less than the price of a decent microwave oven.  It’s not immediately apparent why RAM includes all the lagniappe and not the others.  It could possibly be a tribute to Linda, since RAM is the only album credited to Paul and Linda McCartney.  It’s never been made clear exactly what Linda’s contribution was, and nor should it.  She is credited with co-writing six of the songs on the main album and three of the bonus tracks.  Beyond that, if Paul says she was there, then that’s good enough for me.  If it’s not good enough for you, then you try singing some of the harmonies on Dear Boy or Ram On and get back to me.

Worth paying extra for?  Undoubtedly, but how much more will have to be up to you.

Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey from Wings Greatest
Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey from RAM (1993 Remaster)
Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey from Wingspan
Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey from RAM (2012 Remaster)
Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey from RAM in Mono (2012 Remaster)

Too Many People from Thrillington (1995 Remaster)
Too Many People from Thrillington (2012 Remaster)

17 June, 2012

11 June, 2012

Oh, by the way,

While these five recent, Pink Floyd related concerts are all different shows from different people, it’s also fair to say that they all cover some very similar ground, and they all contain Shine On You Crazy Diamond and Comfortably Numb at least once.  You’d have to be a pretty hardcore fan (hello!) to want them all, so if you were only to get one or two, which is the best?
Well, that would depend on which of their many facets attracts you most to Pink Floyd.

If it’s the “whoa, cool!” factor you’re after, then get Pulse.  Nothing else comes close.  Remember That Night is a distant second.

If it’s a moving experience and social commentary that’s your thing, then In the Flesh is the clear choice.  Pulse, Remember That Night and Live in Gdańsk each have a couple of moments.

If you’re a guitar nerd, then you’re spoilt for choice.  David Gilmour in Concert is an obvious choice if only for the Spare Digits feature, but Pulse features a few finger close-ups as well.  Another interesting aspect of David Gilmour in Concert is that he picks up a Gretsch Duo Jet to play the world’s greatest guitar solo rather than his trademark Strat.  In fact, In Concert is completely Stratless.  You’ll be happy with any of the Gilmour shows, but don’t completely discount In the Flesh.  What is lacks in David Gilmour, is makes up for in Andy Fairweather Low, Doyle Bramhall II and Snowy White.  White is a bona fide Pink Floyd alumnus having played on the Animals tour and the original live shows of The Wall.  Bramhall may be mostly playing Gilmour’s parts, but being a left-hander who plays a guitar set up for a right-hander, he is playing them upside-down and backwards.

If you want great surround sound, then In the Flesh and Pulse are your two best bets.  Both were quadraphonic concerts to begin with and the surround mixes appear to match that.  The Gilmour shows tend to make less use of the surround feature, although the 4-disc version of Live in Gdańsk does include the surround sound version of On an Island, which is excellent.

While on the subject of audio, both In the Flesh and David Gilmour in Concert feature stereo streams in 24-bit LPCM (uncompressed) audio.  Pulse has the option of Dolby 5.1 at a higher than usually bitrate and the improvement is noticable.  None of the concerts offer DTS.

Finally, if it’s value for money you’re after, both Pulse and Remember That Night have several hours of bonus features.  If you’d like the option of just listening to the music, Live in Gdańsk is a live album that comes with a DVD and In the Flesh is available as a CD/DVD pack as well.

Oh, and if you’re epileptic, be careful of Pulse, Remember That Night and Live in Gdańsk.

The other way you might want to compare these shows is by the actual performances.  As mentioned, they all cover a lot of the same ground and only David Gilmour in Concert and the odd bit of Remember That Night make any serious deviation from well known arrangements.  Beyond that, the four different bands across these five DVDs all do a pretty good facsimile of each other.

The one Gilmour/Waters song that leaves a gaping hole where the other ought to be is of course, Comfortably Numb.  Each of the eight (count ’em) versions across these deevs tries with varying success to fill that gap.  There are those who really like the all-in harmonies of the 80s/90s Pink Floyd.  I am not one of them – although I have to say that listening to it again, I disliked it less than when I first heard it on Delicate Sound of Thunder.  Doyle Bramhall sings the Gilmour part competently on In the Flesh, but that’s all.  At the end of the song, Doyle Bramhall and Snowy White share the solo.  Doyle Bramhall is there to be David Gilmour and Snowy White is there to be Snowy White.  The solo concludes with them playing in harmony with each other and sounds pretty special.  The problem here is that it’s generally considered uncool for a lead guitarist to copy another’s licks (nor should players of White and Bramhall’s stature be expected to), but how do you improve on perfection?  They’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t.  Of Gilmour’s solo versions, the guest vocals of Robert Wyatt and Bob Geldof sound like they should be great, but they’re not.  Geldof in particular just phones it in.  Richard Wright’s fragile vocals on Water’s part are a pretty good but for me, the best version comes from David Bowie on Remember That Night.  I put this down to the fact that, more than all the others, Bowie understands Waters’ ideas about rock shows as theatre.

In the end though, the last great version of Comfortably Numb is either Pink Floyd at Live 8, or David Gilmour joining Roger Waters on The Wall in 2011.

10 June, 2012

LIVE IN GDAŃSK - David Gilmour (2008)

On an Island is an album of which David Gilmour is rightly proud, but the four-disc version of Live in Gdańsk contains the third and fourth complete versions of the album, all within two and a half years of each other, which might just be enough. 

Live in Gdańsk is primarily a live double album and the DVDs are bonus discs so they should be viewed as such.  Even so, it’s slightly disappointing that the concert film leaves out six tracks that are included on the album.  The concert was recorded at the Gdańsk shipyards with the Baltic Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra in Gdańsk and was timed to coincide with the 26th anniversary of the Solidarity movement.  This accounts for the addition of A Great Day for Freedom to the set list.

Other than that, it’s basically the same show as Remember That Night, with a Symphony Orchestra and without Crosby, Nash, Wyatt and Bowie; with Astronomy Domine and without Arnold Layne.  Indeed, we saw preparations for this show in the tour film included with Remember That Night. 

In isolation, it’s a great show.  The stage design is certainly interesting, with a row of six video screens focused constantly on each member of the band, rather than acting as a live telecast.  It’s a much better transfer than Remember That Night – the picture is much clearer and crisper.  Being an outdoor show, the sound is a bit less polished than the Albert Hall concert and generally sounds more ‘live.’  The presence of the orchestra isn’t really as noticable as it ought to be.

The rest of the first DVD is Gdańsk Diary, a film about the concert and its context, which also contains a fair bit of soundcheck footage.  This disc also contained a web-link to download bonus audio, but the download site has since been closed.  The bonus audio is available on the 5-disc version but no way is it worth paying $60 more for.

The main feature of the second DVD is On an Inland in surround sound and it is a great surround mix.  Unfortunately, it’s not high resolution DVD-Audio, but it does feature both Dolby and DTS options.  Unlike many other surround versions of albums, there is no vision to distract you from the music – just a black screen.  The additional features on this disc are literally more of the same as what’s on Remember That Night.  There are three more pieces from the Mermaid Theatre show including Wearing the Inside Out, two from the AOL Sessions and three from Live from Abbey Road.  The latter includes a clearly impromptu semi-acoustic version of Echoes, which also appears as an Easter egg on Remember That Night.  Finally, there are three Barn Jams which are quite interesting.

While all these bits and pieces are excellent, it would have been preferable to have more tracks from less sources on each disc – that is, have all the Mermaid Theatre pieces on Remember That Night and all the Live from Abbey Road tracks on Live in Gdańsk, for example.

Live in Gdańsk is a great concert and package, and it features Richard Wright’s last recorded performance, but it’s so similar to Remember That Night that you would need to be a completist to want both.

Highlight:  Astronomy Domine
Feature:  * * * ½
Extras: 3-disc version:  * * ½ 
            4-disc version: * * * * *
Audio: Dolby 5.1, Dolby stereo, DTS (On an Island surround version only)

09 June, 2012

Looking for Leadership

Last month’s tussle for the leadership of the ALP didn’t just reveal a lot about the simmering resentment on both sides, it also tells us a lot about how Labor and Australia in general relate to the notion of leadership.  Some of the charges against Rudd were that he was (and remains) controlling, demeaning, egotistical and narcissistic.  Really?  Sounds exactly like Paul Keating.  Bugger me, an egotistical leader?  Whoever heard of such a thing?  Never mind the fact that standing for national leader is just about the most egotistical thing you can do.  Like they say in the classics, ego is not a dirty word.  If you want humility, visit a soup kitchen.  If you want a leader, they’re going to come with an ego.

...and if you'd like to read the rest of this piece, you can find it here:

In fact, if you subscribe to The King's Tribune, you could have read it two months ago.

The Tribune is a great monthly magazine on politics, media and culture, taking a stand for the printed word in a digital age.  If you're reading this at all, you probably do most of your news and commentary reading online but even now, there's something for-the-ages about ink and paper.  Another thing about an actual, physical magazine is that you get a lot of articles that you didn't necessarily buy it for, and this can expose you to things you wouldn't otherwise have found through carefully targeted feeds or online peer groups.

There's no official editorial slant, they just publish good writing from interesting people.  If that's your bag, then their subscription rate is very reasonable.  Support independent media in a format that is compatible with all platforms, doesn't have to be turned off on aircraft and never runs out of battery.  Also, if you've ever read some of the nonsense that gets published in the inkies and thought, "I could do better than that," then let them know.

03 June, 2012

REMEMBER THAT NIGHT - David Gilmour (2007)

Remember That Night is taken from a single performance at the Albert Hall in March 2006.  The show begins with the reliable openers of Speak to Me, Breathe and Time.  After that, the rest of the first set is given over to the complete performance of On an Island.  In a way, this is almost like a return to 70s Pink Floyd shows, where a complete performance of the current album was a reasonable expectation.  On an Island certainly deserves that treatment.  Graham Nash and David Crosby provide harmonies as they do on the album and Robert Wyatt guests on cornet on the instrumental Then I Close My Eyes, which becomes a lovely extended jam. 

The rest of the band include Richard Wright, Guy Pratt and Jon Carin who toured with Pink Floyd in the 80s and 90s, Phil Manzanera who co-produced On an Island, Steve DiStanislao (“pinched” from Crosby and Nash according to Gilmour) on drums, and regular Pink Floyd saxophonist Dick Parry.  

The second set contains the older Pink Floyd material.  While all the selections are familiar and welcome, Gilmour avoids the temptation to load it all with familiar hits (are you listening, Paul McCartney?)  It opens with Shine On You Crazy Diamond and the arrangement sits mid-way between the solo version that appears on David Gilmour in Concert and the regular band version.  Part one (or is it Part 2?) is played solo while the rest of the band join in for Part two (or is it Part three?).  When the vocal section begins (I’ve never known if that’s Part three or Part four, but you know the bit), Crosby and Nash return to provide the chorus, which is also based on the stripped-down arrangement of the previous concert.  Gilmour deserves great credit here for taking a Pink Floyd standard and presenting it in a fresh way without ruining the mood set by the original.  

Elsewhere, Fat Old Sun gains a big solo at the end and there are a couple of pieces from The Division Bell, but the first big highlight of the second set is a complete, 25-minute performance of Echoes.  It’s the first time Echoes has been performed in about thirty years, yet with one single distorted piano note from Richard Wright’s keyboard, everyone in the room knew what they were in for.

At the end of the show Crosby and Nash perform Stephen Stills’ Find the Cost of Freedom and then David Bowie joins the band to sing Arnold Layne.  It was one of Bowie’s last public appearances before his unofficial retirement.  Bowie stays to guest of Comfortably Numb.  Unlike so many other guest vocalists, he completely nails it and makes the song his own.

The second disc contains half an hour of songs from other Albert Hall shows, including a nice version of Wots… Uh, the Deal? from Obscured by Clouds, Wearing the Inside Out, and Richard Wright singing Arnold Layne.  

There are three documentaries.  The main one follows the tour and begins with a slightly awkward chance meeting with Roger Waters who had happened to book a rehearsal room at the same facility as Gilmour.  There’s also a film about the making of On an Island.  Both of these have the option of accessing additional scenes and interviews.  The third doco is a slightly throwaway piece on the US tour, partly filmed by Richard Wright.  

Other extras include two music videos, a performance of Syd Barrett’s Dark Globe from the 2006 tour, one piece each from The AOL Sessions and Live from Abbey Road, and five pieces from the live premiere of On an Island at the Mermaid Theatre.  For all this content, it would perhaps have been preferable to stick to just a couple of sources rather than having a little taste from so many different performances.

The menus are great but the length of the transitions make it a little frustrating if you’re trying to get to something quickly.

Highlight:  Echoes, Arnold Layne
Feature:  * * * * ½
Extras:  * * * * *
Audio: Dolby 5.1, Dolby stereo


02 June, 2012

PULSE - Pink Floyd (1995/2005)

I must admit that I was on Roger’s side during the big Pink Floyd split.  It’s not that Waters was the be-all and end-all of Pink Floyd; it’s not that David Gilmour isn’t a brilliant composer and guitarist – I’d trade you 5 Steve Vais for one David Gilmour; and it’s not that Richard Wright wasn’t treated very shabbily and remains sadly underrated.  It’s just that without Waters, there was something missing.  Some reviewers suggested that despite their arguing, Waters and Gilmour needed each other and Gilmour later conceded that they each managed to temper the other’s worst excesses.  It was this concert film that softened my view.

Pulse makes you realise that Pink Floyd are bigger than any one man’s ego or legacy or anyone’s chosen definition of what Pink Floyd is.  Obviously the big attraction of this deev is the first complete filmed performance of The Dark Side of the Moon, however the setlist is not the same as the album of the same name which included Astronomy Domine and interestingly, Hey You.  Songs from The Division Bell are slightly overrepresented in the first half of the set, which is understandable since it was the current album at the time.  The first set is opened with Shine On You Crazy Diamond and concluded with Another Brick in the Wall part 2 and One of These Days.  The former is introduced with brief grabs of part 1 and concluded with samples from part 3 and just a hint of Dogs.  

Although they could have put the whole concert on disc 1 and the extras on disc 2, I like the fact that it’s split across both discs.  It enforces a break and provides some necessary chill out time between the early climax of One of These Days, and the beginning of The Dark Side of the Moon.  Although it was well known that they did Dark Side in its entirety during the 1994 tour, it wasn’t a given that they would do it every night.  Basically, they did it when they felt like it, so it’s a willing and loving performance.  Some of the band even look like they’re having fun.  There is a traditional encore of Wish You Were Here, Comfortably Numb and Run Like Hell, which is sadly ruined by some ridiculous grunting.

If you’re not bothered by the absence of Roger Waters – and sales have shown that millions aren’t – then Pulse is just about the ultimate Pink Floyd revue.  It has lasers, inflatable pigs, crashing planes, a lightshow that requires an epilepsy warning (seriously – it’s in the small print on the back cover) a stage that looks like a parked space-ship and a band that, within the context of the show, could just as easily be playing by remote control from an airship hovering above the city.  Or a completely different city.  

There’s no LPCM or DTS audio but there is the option of Dolby surround at the higher than usual bitrate of 640kbps and the difference in quality is noticable.

On the extras side, “packed” is an overused word but it’s the only way to describe the goodies here – so many of them that the sleeve notes provide a menu map.  Firstly, there are the amazing screen films, including alternate versions.  There’s a section called “Bootlegging the bootleggers,” which features four songs from a different show, shot on home video by the tour crew.  Home movies made by the crew are also used for a short tour documentary, and it’s actually more entertaining than many of the tour docos that are made specifically for DVD extras.  The video clips for Learning to Fly and Take it Back are included.  The former has an excellent 5.1 mix, the latter doesn’t and looks like it was mostly assembled from stock footage.  There is Pink Floyd’s induction into the (US) Rock and Roll Hall of Fame which includes Billy Corgan’s rambling introduction and a stripped back performance of Wish You Were Here.  Finally, there’s information about tour dates, stage plans, cover art and a photo gallery. 

Highlight:  The Dark Side of the Moon
Feature:  * * * * ½
Extras:  * * * * *
Audio: Dolby 5.1 at 448kbps, Dolby 5.1 at 640kbps, Dolby stereo

01 June, 2012

Why are you still a Catholic?

This was the question addressed in this article sent to me by my friend Foomeister (and if you’re not following her on twitter, then you’re a fool to yourself and a burden to others).  It makes some interesting points, but I’d like to answer the question in a slightly more direct way.

The continuing revelations of scandals within the Catholic church has produced a sense of Schadenfreude among anti-Catholics of all persuasions which is palpable.  It’s terribly easy to point to cover-ups of sexual abuse, suspect accounting and centuries of other misdeeds and wonder how anyone can possibly remain connected to such people.  I’ve written before that if you want to point to the crimes committed by the church and in the name of religion, you’ll get no argument from me.  So why am I still a Catholic?

Well, let’s apply the same thinking to different issues…

Why are you still Australian after what was done to the aborigines?
Why are you still American after the invasion of Iraq on false pretences and all the abuses that followed?  Alternatively, if you’re a crazy person, why are you still American after Obama and socialism?  (For the sake of time and space, I am restricting US examples to this century.)
Why are you still German after nazism?
Why are you still South African after apartheid?
Why are you still Irish after the IRA?
Why are you still Israeli after Palestine?
Why are you still Palestinian after Israel?
Why are you still Zimbabwean after Mugabe?
Why are you still Iranian after Ahmadinejad?
Why are you still Chinese after Tibet?
Why are you still Russian after Bolshevism, Stalinism and Putin?
Why are you still British after… I don’t even know where to begin?
Why are you still white after centuries of abuse of other peoples based on the assumption, both explicit and implicit that whites are the superior race?
Why are you still male after rape?

Truthfully, that last one is the one I struggle with the most.  In Trouble Every Day, Frank Zappa says, “I’m not black but there’s a whole lot of times I wish I could say I’m not white.”  Well, I’m not a woman, but there’s a whole lot of times I wish I could say I’m not a man.

Some may say that gender, race and nationality are simply accidents of birth, while faith and religion are acts of free choice.  Alright then, let’s go further…

Why do you still support St Kilda after Nick Riewoldt and Ricky Nixon?
Why do you still listen to Michael Jackson after the child abuse?
Why do you still watch Mel Gibson films after the bizarre anti-Jewish tirades?
Why do you support any team Michael Vick has been on?  (You know, I bet I could fill several pages just with football teams.)
Why do you still read Jeffrey Archer after he perverted the course of justice?
Why do you still watch Seinfeld after Michael Richards’ racist rant?
Why do you still listen to Phil Spector records after he killed someone?

The answer to any one of these questions is the answer to all of them.  Believe it or not, you don’t actually have to approve of spousal abuse to say that Ike Turner had some great riffs.  Some have said they’ll never watch a Mel Gibson film again.  Well, I hate to break it to you this way, but he’s already been paid for them so it won’t make a lick of difference whether you ever rent Braveheart or The Year of Living Dangerously again.

Whatever your cultural background may be, you don’t have to look too far to make a connection with shame and atrocity.  The only way to completely detach ourselves from it would be to evolve into a new species and find another planet to live on.  Even then, you’d run the risk of starting the whole cycle over again, and you have no idea what those Martians got up to.

Why am I still a Catholic?  Because I’m sophisticated enough to understand that there will be people who I agree with on certain matters that do bad things.  Likewise, there will be people who I agree with on certain matters who do good things; there will be people I disagree with on certain matters who do good things; and there will be people I disagree with on certain matters who do bad things.

Can you name a single person on Earth whose views and actions you agree with and endorse 100%?  Do you associate only with those whose views and actions you completely endorse?  If so, I would suggest that either you need to get out more, or you don’t know these people as well as you think you do.  I have serious disagreements with the hierarchy of the church, just as I have serious disagreements with the Australian government.  Frankly, I can’t think of any kind of hierarchy that I’m all that keen on.  It doesn’t change who I am.  I’m still Catholic, I’m still Australian, and dammit if I’m not still male.

There is a view that all Christians and particularly Catholics must publically denounce sexual abuse by the clergy or else be tainted with the same crime.  It’s a ridiculous affront to natural justice which, quite ironically smacks of another great shame of the church, the inquisition.  We don’t stand for Muslims being expected to either denounce terrorism or be presumed to support it.  If you need me to tell you I’m against child abuse lest I be presumed to support, or at least accept it, then I don’t think I have anything to say to you at all, for I don’t think it would make any difference either way.

If you are able to associate only with people you completely approve of, and completely dissociate yourself from all those who do any wrong, then I can only admire the simplicity of your lifestyle.