“Love Can Build A Bridge” has one of the best line-ups of any charity single – three women who have each made, on their day, magnificent pop records. What’s more, Cher and Hynde and Cherry aren’t off-form, phoning it in or smoothing themselves down – their voices blend and contrast in exactly the intriguing ways you might have expected.
And yet this is a tiresome record. It’s a simpering bore, a dose of pop castor oil, a lacklustre plod whose only appeal is the background sense you’re doing some good. What went wrong? more »
I should say from the outset, I’m unreasonably fond of this record. “Unreasonably” not because it’s a bad song or ‘guilty pleasure’, but because it’s not a record I want to reason with. I like it as a trip into full-bore, bodice-tearing ballad melodrama, and it does this job rather well, probably better for being a movie soundtrack without a movie. I want to hear it every few months, I hear it, I’m done – like the thunderstorms of “Think Twice” are dissipating some sort of emotional ozone buildup.
So it’s not something I’ve ever played repeatedly or carefully considered until now. And the more I do consider it the more awkward a thing it is, a strange hybrid of at least three quite different takes on making a big ballad. You have the “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” angle – Celine building it up to knock it down, chunks of drums and power chords falling around her. I’m always fond of that. You have the more up-to-date approach – the ballad as skeleton for a vocal routine, which of course Dion has the technical chops to carry.
But before both of these you have a third ballad-form – one summoned up by “Think Twice”‘s brooding opening, a drift of soft-synth bewilderment cut through by a lonesome guitar lick, a warning of tears and lamentation to come. This is, frankly, Phil Collins territory – songs whose landscapes crackle with sullen potential before erupting into an almighty sulk. “Think Twice” promises something similar – a more wounded, less resentful “In The Air Tonight”. more »
The man who invented the Gala Pie is a hero of mine. Not just because he took one of natures nicest foodstuff (namely the pork pie) and made it even better. He made it better by the addition of the hard boiled egg. But not just any old hard boiled egg. No, not only did he manage to get an egg somehow into the middle of a pie, but he also discovered a way of, er, lengthening the egg. To those of you not familiar with the long egg, the orthographic projection of a Gala Pie below will explain.
centaurs are classically portrayed as noble and amazing (if occasionally super-horny): but i have always found em ANNOYING!!
i. look at them they are top-heavy at the front = when they gallop they will fall on their faces
ii. they have TOO MANY LIMBS = they are insects
conclusion: i for one do NOT welcome our old insect underlords
I was aware of this song long before I heard it – as a young boy it was quoted at me by my Dad should I ever object to tidying my room. Since my room was rarely tidy, I became very familiar with the central notion of “No Charge”. Like my Dad, I can find immense amusement and pleasure in this style of song – talking country with a sentimental edge – but this is far from a great example.
You might think, at first, that the style stands or falls on the strength of its concepts: not so. more »
For Christmas I got Never Had It So Good, the first part of Dominic Sandbrook’s huge new history of Britain in the sixties. Here’s what he says about the project:
“This book seeks to rescue ‘from the enormous condescencion of prosperity’…the lives of the kind of people who spent the 1960s in Aberdeen or Welshpool or Wolverhamption, the kind of people for whom mention of the sixties might conjure up memories not of Lady Chatterley, the Pill and the Rolling Stones, but of bingo, Blackpool and Berni Inns.”more »
England is DIFFERENT (or SPECIAL if you want to be polite) to everywhere else for many reasons, but one is because our music “industry” (it’s not an industry – making baked beans is an industry, and nobody does THAT in their spare time, writes fanzines about it or has them poured over themselves at weddings. Usually) is SO virulently centralised. Bands in, for instance, France, do not all dream of moving to Paris the SECOND their first tape demo is posted to Le Fanzine De Pop!, for example, but here it sometimes seems that London Is Everything – the major labels are all there, and the “professional” “music” “press” is too, with its “journalists” unwilling to venture past the M25 when new bands can be discovered simply by asking their idiot friends what group they’re in THIS Friday.
ANYWAY, the GOOD thing about this is that we get to have the LOCAL BAND, “local” here meaning “not from London” – bands from Scotland or Wales are, of course, labelled Scottish Bands and Welsh Bands (in that order). That’s not to say Local Bands are the same throughout England – for instance, Derby Bands will want to ROCK, Leicester bands will never have anything resembling a singer, Bristol bands will think they are much cooler than anyone else, and Birmingham bands will own a Stereolab record – but the Basic FACTS about them will remain the same. And here they are for you to learn and enjoy. more »
Spiders: creepy, crawly little critters which seem up to no good – hanging in the corner of your room, leaving webs around just to make a mess – definitely with their own agenda. Not the most obvious creature to base a film on. Yet Hollywood returns to the theme of spiders every ten years or so in its endless recycling of material to try and sell films. Unfortunately they have not learnt from their mistakes. Spider films are generally unsuccessful, even more so than insect films. The success of Spider-Man this year might lead some execs to assume the success was in the spider part of the formulation. The lack of success of Eight Legged Freaks however should put paid to that. more »
Finally, the moment of ABSOLUTE POP TRUTH is upon us! And my goodness, what a nail-biter of a contest this has been. Halfway through the voting, two decades broke decisively ahead of the pack, establishing a lead that proved impossible to catch up with. Although one of them looked to have the edge, its rival chased it hard, making up crucial lost ground in the closing stages and ensuring a RIVETING PHOTO-FINISH. Oh yes.
Meanwhile, the bottom four decades enjoyed a right old ding-dong, jostling each other furiously and never bowing out of the fight. The gap between the lower four was every bit as close as the gap between the upper two, making this year’s “Which Decade” our CLOSEST! CONTEST! EVER!
Shall we proceed? Yes, perhaps we should. Lord knows, you’ve waited long enough.
NOTE: For extra at-a-glance clarity, I have designated the 20 top scoring records as HITS, the middle 20 as MAYBES, and the 20 lowest as MISSES.
Sixth place: The Seventies.
Cumulative average score: 32.31 points.
Share of the vote: 15.39%
Norman Greenbaum – Spirit In The Sky. 4.84 points, first place.
Christie – Yellow River. 4.12 points, 2nd place.
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Travellin’ Band. 3.68 points, 3rd place.
The Moody Blues – Question. 3.41 points, joint 3rd place.
Dana – All Kinds Of Everything. 2.92 points, joint last place.
The Hollies – I Can’t Tell The Bottom From The Top. 2.90 points, 4th place.
Frijid Pink – House Of The Rising Sun. 2.80 points, 4th place.
The Move – Brontosaurus. 2.73 points, 5th place.
Tom Jones – Daughter Of Darkness. 2.70 points, last place.
England World Cup Squad – Back Home. 2.21 points, last place. more »
On Skykicking last week, Tim touched, popwise, on the continuing cultural battle over what the eighties were or are or mean or meant. The story of mainstream rock and politics in the 1990s was among other things the story of a similar battle, that time over the sixties. On the one hand you had the beatification of the Beatles and the shift in popthought from rejecting the past to defining yourself entirely by it. And on the other hand, in the big untrivial real world, you had the same thing in reverse: an attempt by rightwingers across the West to define the sixties’ social legacy in negative terms, and following that to absolutely deny it. “Kill All Hippies” may have been the T-Shirt slogan du jour last year, but it’s also the unshakable raging kernel at the centre of William Hague’s philosophy, or Trent Lott’s or Tom DeLay’s or Anne Widdecombe’s. more »
When the previews for Young Avengers #4 came out, there was quite a lot of hand-wringing from the Tumblr zone about Noh-Varr’s line in this panel.
I guess there was probably a lot of hand-wringing about his butt. But I probably glazed over during anything that followed the phrase ‘Noh-Varr’s butt.’ Just to get this out of the way: Jamie McKelvie is doing an extremely fine job of supplying some slightly-older-than-young-and-thus-ok-for-your-correspondent-to-goggle-at totty, here. Who knew the whole part-cockroach thing was attractive?
The question that appears to be being raised by the young people is: is Young Avengers cool enough? And indeed, if it is cool enough, is it also geeky enough? Are Billy and Teddy’s hairstyles preventing them being colossal dorks?
I don’t even want to get into the last question of that (although no, no of course they are not; they’re just vaguely dealing with being super greasy teenage boys for goodness’ sakes) but whether Young Avengers is too cool is a good question.
Y’see, Noh-Varr looks pretty cool. He’s a silver-haired alien boy for ladies in their twenties to mentally high-five Kate Bishop over. He’s got a spaceship and nega-bands and he’s been in the grown up Avengers and he’s totally done it, probably several times. more »
There are some brands which are bulletproof. No matter how many failed and dumb brand extensions there are, the core brand remains unassailable. As long as you don’t mess with actual Coke*, you can make as many Vanilla’s, Cherry’s and Coke Zero’s specifically for Nigel you like. And with this fiveway explosion of Heinz Baked Beans there is a “throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks**” insouciance bred from the knowledge that British people will still buy Baked Beans even if you did an Arsenic Flavour.
Still lets look at these five new flavours:
Ok, so some of these have been around before, just branded differently. Th old Curried Beans had raisins in it, I’m guessing this is no longer the case. Barbecue beans and even probably even beans with fiery chilli have been around before (though probably will not come close to a liberal hand with the Tabasco). No the two interesting ones are the “Garlic & Herb” variant and the “Cheddar Cheese” one. more »
And add another one to the “why on Earth didn’t I read this stuff before?” pile – Mike Mignola’s excellent and well-praised Hellboy. I skimmed the first ever miniseries half-heartedly on release, thought “Nazis, monsters, pfft” and that seemed to be that. But the steady drip of praise, and the sheer tenacity of the enterprise, kept nagging at me, and in the end I succumbed.
Glad I did, of course. I’ve not yet got to the parts where Mignola hands over the illustrative jobs, so the stories I’ve been reading are purely him, and while I knew he was a marvellous artist I didn’t appreciate the ways in which he’s marvellous. Among them this: he gives good Cthulhu. more »
To say at the start, I did eventually enjoy my Saturday afternoon at London’s Brewing and I have definitely been to events more badly organised (Glastonbury 2007 springs immediately to mind), but to my mind some of the criticism has been a bit rabid, I’m not sure what place Trading Standards have in this discussion? I’m not sure why people were expecting to be able to swan up to the bar at a sold out event, and one that they’ve probably only paid £4 to get into (£15 ticket minus 3 pints at £3.80-£4.00) at that.
All that said, the first two hours were a shambles, here’s why: more »
Apropos >Mark’s earlier post, I must confess to having imbibed some lager and been in proximity to both paper and pens during Europoptimism, which partly resulted in a sign for the door and partly resulted in this.
I don’t really know who east sky/taktophoto is (or are)*: but his/her/their tumblr republishes sets of images gathered from all over the place (always linked to, generally captioned as per the original, never commented on). The images can be hypercoloured, intricate, abstract, surreal, sexy, ridiculous — sometimes strange wtf artworks, sometimes simply startling photos from nature, hard as this very often is to believe at first glance.
And we are back, season two of the Lost Property Office limps stridently forward having survived a complete clearout, reorganisation and a system put in place. Which is better for the students, strike rate of returning keys and small electronic equipment has soared by over 100%, but less good for the show. But creative constraints can cause creative epiphanies, and who better to discuss creative epiphanies with than novelist and comics writer Al Ewing.
Actually we almost totally avoid talking about creative epiphanies, to instead discuss lost comic panels, skinny men getting stuck in holes, posh breast cancer ribbons, A BOOK THAT SHOULD NOT BE OPENED (we open it) and pop music which for the first time on Lost Property Office we recognised from the opening notes. And for pretty much all of the running time Al forgot (until pushed) to pimp his new novel The Fictional Man, which is a pulp rollercoaster ride through a metafictional universe eerily similar to ours (which at least as many Sherlock Holmes’s). I’ve read it, its great! At least as good as he is on this show.
This week Avengers Assemble #15AU came out, by Al Ewing (yes relation) and Butch Guice. The comic is, as Hazel has pointed out, the most British thing ever published (at least by Marvel) and it is absolutely rammed with references – some obvious, some rather more obscure. Because Al is a pro, I reckon the comic is comprehensible without understanding all this stuff, but it’s safe to say there are parts of it many US readers won’t really get. There’s also parts of it which tap a knowledge of recent Marvel continuity, and we’ll explain that too.
So here’s an annotations post, which in the way of annotations posts will be updated with new information as you uncover it in the comments boxes. (And will also be updated with links and images!)
Contains, obviously, HEAVY SPOILERS for Avengers Assemble #15AU more »