Dan, our critic by the sea, will check in each
issue with a review of what is "Hot and Now".
Cleanliness of Garment is Next to Godliness of Same
"What you least expect is the train cornbread mudbath."
A new John Cale album is sure to get a hohum from the mainstream, but
I am always ready to mine his dense rock ore for that strand of ingenuity.
With an enthusiasm that I can only muster for a new release by Johnathan
Richman or any of Television's original line-up, I got out of bed. My destination:
the record store. My chalice: John Cale's new album.
Prerequisite: cash. I checked my money-belt, and it was slim. Six dollars
put me short of the prize's price. But thank heaven's for laundry: the month's
accumulation of quarters tipped me over into the vector of consumer empowerment.
Prerequisite: clothes. What ensemble would best convey the subterranean
hep of my questing? Black. I stood naked before the wardrobe--and the wardrobe's
interior itself was black, devoid of clothes save a burgundy turtleneck
and a "SPAM" tee-shirt. I chose the "SPAM" and made
a mental note to trade in the turtleneck at the first sign of a revival
in the style.
Socks, I had none. No matter: it would not be the first time I had ventured
forth sockless into the world. Even in the cold weather, I went to don American-flag
hightops, mid-80s vintage, over my bare feet.
Underwear, I had none. No matter: it would not be the first time I had ventured
chaffing into the world. The absense of underwear has always suggested a
European cosmopolitanism to all but the most Puritanical men and women of
the "tighty-whities" tradition.
Pants, I had none. This was a problem. If only one pair in the hamper had
been fit to wear, Cale's meandering genius would have been mine to extrapolate.
However, a decision had to be reached, towardly, by me, regarding how best
to spend laundry money. Perhaps genius was manifest
The Quality Landrette did not let me down. The sign out front is colored
as a partial rainbow, it's five stripes clearly evoking a musical staff.
The loops of the capital letters, in Marigold Italic, are reminiscent of
musical notes arranged in a simple, but heartfelt melody. The sign sings
existence of The Quality Landrette into the cacophony of the urban street.
It partakes of the urban itself, but not without an inward look, a look
that reveals: washing machines.
Stepping inside, one succumbs instantly to the drone, the feedback whine
of the washers. Without this constant reminder at the heart of the laundrette's
raison d'être the raw percussion of the dryers would be dismissable
if not downright ludicrous. But no matter what else attracts your attention
in this symphony of simplicity--the coins clattering in the changer, the
locals chatting about the cold weather, the television chirping some advertiser--the
drone remains, inescapable, undeniable, unsilenced until the last wash (at
For a solid 90 minutes, The Quality Landrette moves the listener. It is
the kind of music in which one MUST participate because nobody else will
put your soggies in the dryer. At only five and a quarter in quarters, this
music is a good deal; and this reviewer rates it ahead of Cale's last three