Posts from 4th October 2004

4
Oct 04

Procol Harum

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Procol Harum

Those who know me reasonably well wouldn’t expect me to like this lot – there is almost nothing one might classify as psychedelic or prog that I do like. But they were the first band I ever saw live (well, discounting support act Vivian Stanshall), about thirty years ago, and I still retain some fondness for them.

Maybe it’s partly that, despite the shirts on show on the cover of this cheapo Greatest Hits I just bought, they don’t sound at all psychedelic – you couldn’t mistake them for any of the West Coast rock acts of the late ’60s. Also, despite the back of the CD describing them as being among the most popular prog acts, all their success was pre-prog (this comp covers ’67-’70), and although they did get into flashy over-orchestrated toss at times, that was a sidetrack – they could usefully have restrained guitarist Robin Trower more at times, though. I like Gary Brooker’s singing a great deal – kind of a cross between white blues/soul and Randy Newman, and maybe the ironic edge the latter tone brings with it makes Keith Reid’s absurd poetics tolerable, even amusing. At times they put me in mind of the wondrous Marc Bolan (a kind of positive retro-influence). And I’ve always liked churchy-sounding organ – by and large the more the organ is at the forefront of their songs, the better I like it.

(Then there are the odd things that make you like something better: Pat Kelly’s reggae cover of ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’ is one such. I like his voice, but the main appeal is that he can’t make out the words accurately, so the lyrics become even more nonsensical. This feeds back into enjoying the original even more – another kind of retro-influence.)

(An extra note on the dismal sleeve notes, by Mark Crampton (“ambitious sophomore long-player,” indeed). He says of their third single, ‘Quite Rightly So’, which made #50, “the public was now conceiving Procol Harum as a respectable albums based act.” When did the public EVER think in that way, let alone in 1968? Isn’t this rockist revisionist history?)

FT TOP 100 FILMS 22: THIS IS SPINAL TAP

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FT TOP 100 FILMS
22: THIS IS SPINAL TAP

Some directors just get lucky. Marti DiBergi could be said to be one of those directors if you consider This Is Spinal Tap to be enough to make a career. If you however also consider his ill-fated attempts to make At The Mountains Of Madness* and a musical version of Heart Of Darkness**, luck might not be his strong point. Wahtever, to a moribund genre stuffed with loving elegies like the Last Waltz and Don’t Look Back DiBergi bought honesty, and a critical eye which both praised the band at its heart whilst opening it up for scrutiny. For what is the story of Spinal Tap, except for one of relationship which would resonate with any viewer.

Are David St Hubbins and Nigel Tufnel the archtypal band married couple. Certainly the conflict that occurs when a woman, Jeanine turns up suggests it might be. Perhapos we like rock music for its pomp and pagentry, and certainly Spinal Tap give you all of that, but it is the people we fall in love with hear. Even DiBergi at his most incomprehending (of course eleven is louder that ten, idiot) manages to tease perosnality out of the band. And they never seem irritated by his presence, whilst the band fall apart in his lens they appreciate his interest as you might tease a puppy dog. For all of the unintentional humour in This Is Spinal Tap you do end up feeling for these shaggy misfits, because you know deep down they are you. In a very real sense for the first time a documentary really managed to capture the ups and downs of actually being in a band. Not for nothing is this film called This Is Spinal Tap. It is.

Many would say this is too small a film to fit into the top 100, that a minor rockumentary of a now almost forgotten footnote in the history of Heavy Metal dates as much as its music. For which I would recomend listening to that music again, there is more understanding of ancient mysticism in Stonehenge than the entire works of Julian Cope. But this film has so many well negotiated conflicts in it, UK vs USA, Man vs Woman, Bass vs Drums. In the battle betwen films and music, Spinal Tap shows they are not necessarily opposites.

*Foiled by spending eight years trying to find mountians sufficiently bonkers enough to fit the bill.

**Eventually abandoned in the can after being sued for the unintentional but undeniable similarities between his song “The Horror, The Horror” to “Tomorrow” from Annie

Spearmint – Say Something Else

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Spearmint – Say Something Else
In which Shirley Lee becomes a curmudgeonly DYS blogger in song form. OK so nobody on FT except me cares about Spearmint (and perhaps the rant is too predicatable for some) AND this is old news to the 5 Spearmint fans out there reading DYS, but I only just got the new album/compliation thing, and just had to google these lyrics. Thanks to Dadblog for this:

Why so many cop movies?
What is the fascination with the police?
I mean, why not make films about some other public service for a change, like librarians?
Good cop, bad cop, straight cop, gay cop, black cop, white cop, girl cop, boy cop –
It’s a buddy-buddy flick, they’re thrown together, they don’t want to work together
There’s no way they’ll ever get on, cos one follows the rules, and the other’s a maverick –
But! The case brings them together, they learn to respect each other’s differences
It’s got an English, or Asian villain, two major car chases, a love interest bit-part,
a neglected wife at home, a boss who’s a b@stard with a heart of gold
And out-takes at the end

Then, the British comedy
The funniest since Four Weddings, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones, About A Boy
It features a man and a woman who can’t possibly get it together because of the situation
It’s 97 minutes long, and 20 minutes from the end there’s a montage,
featuring the characters working hard at what they do
Set to a ballad by Ronan Keating, Sheryl Crow, Texas, Gabrielle…
Do you think they’ll get it together?

And the voice-over on the trailer
Why is it always a bloke?
Why is always that bloke?
Why does he talk like that?
What’s wrong with him?

And the feel-good story about the backward boy genius and his struggles in the world
Sickly, sugar coated American fables
With Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, Sean Penn, Tom Hanks –
The performance of a lifetime!
He looks like an idiot – but underneath he’s the same as the rest of us
Do you think he’ll win through?
Do you think he’ll win through??

And stop copying other films
I’ve sat through 20 supernatural thrillers, now
The obligatory unpredictable twist –
Oh! They’re dead already!
It’s entirely predictable
Entirely predictable because we all saw the Sixth Sense at exactly the same time as you did

And the British gangster flick
Guy Ritchie’s got a lot to answer for
Fast edit
Funky soundtrack
Trying to be Get Carter, but lost the plot
Great, camp British thesps put on snarling Cockney accents and swear a lot
The heist goes wrong, incompetence is rife

And what’s with all the logos at the start of the film
It used to be just “20th Century Fox” or whatever, now it’s
A Cheeky Monkey Production
A Cheeky Monkey Title
A Cheeky Monkey Picture
A Cheeky Monkey Project
Who cares? I just want to watch the film
Stop it! Stop flattering your corporate egos

And Robert Redford…
What is the point of Robert Redford?
Spy Games, Bagger Vance, The Last Castle, Legal Eagles
Pretty boy actor makes bad director
Stop giving him money
Give it to me
I’ve got lots of great ideas for movies
One where Shirley Lee saves the world
One where Shirley Lee gets to sleep with lots of beautiful women

And why do you persist in turning books into movies?
Don’t you know that the film is never, ever, ever as good as the book?
It’s never, ever, ever as good as the book
Stop it
Say something else

Pie claims first political victim

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 1,025 views

Pie claims first political victim

Indie Amnesty Xtra

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Indie Amnesty Xtra:

I had a sort through the remaining Amnesty items yesterday and set aside a pile of CDs which are, frankly, total no-hopers on eBay. So I’m not going to sell them on eBay. I’m going to sell them here.

THe pile consists of a wide-ranging selection of CD singles, dodgy album promos, freebies, curiosities, Pokemon tie-ins, condom maker giveaways, and other tat. There are about fifteen of them, I didn’t count. Probably there are a few good laughs in there somewhere, or at least a blog post or two. I’m not giving any more details, though.

If you want these CDs – and it’s all or nothing, sorry – make me an offer. Either in the comments box or by email. Highest bidder by Friday gets them. If you want me to mail them to you I will, but it’ll be a few quid p&p probably. If you see me in the pub and prefer to pick them up from me, that’s fine. All non p-&-p money to the Grecian Earn.

(If nobody wants them I’ll put them in the bin.)

FREAKY TRIGGER Top 25 Scariest Things No.24: Crocodiles

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FREAKY TRIGGER Top 25 Scariest Things

No.24: Crocodiles

Ending up as something’s lunch is an unpleasant prospect in whatever case, but crocodiles are scarier than cannibals, because being eaten alive is where the real horror lies. In a film where the antagonist has food on their mind, the fear comes not so much with the stalking of the prey (which creates tension) but with the moments after the bite. Crocodiles, sharks et al are not the kind of predators known for instant kills and tidy eating: the – imagined – horror is in realising your leg’s been bitten off, in knowing you’re being eaten.

What lies behind the fear of any animal with a large mouth and fleshy appetite is the stark realisation that our place on the food chain is dependent on our collective brains, not our rather vulnerable and slow-moving bodies. The crocodile and shark have the edge over the man-eating tiger (say) because they operate in the water, an element our species is particularly slow and vulnerable in. And the crocodile is more frightening than the shark because of its element of disguise and also because it has – perhaps unfairly – a reputation for being cleverer.

Crocodiles are also very old – evolution has finished with them, the hooded eyes, rows of teeth, horridly powerful tail and leathery hide are as good (or as unpleasantly efficient) as it gets. They were around with the dinosaurs. In fact they basically are dinosaurs that somehow survived the rest of their race’s extinction. As Professor D’Cruz of the Wenlock Institute has speculated, the crocodile’s longevity may be down to the simple fact that it ate all the other dinosaurs up!

Sky Captain and Tomorrow’s World

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in which Jude Law teams up with Judith Hann and Michael Rodd to save the world from experiments that do not work on television. If Tomorrow’s World still existed, Sky Captain would be exactly the kind of film that would have been hugely featured for its impressive technological work. Indeed in its dying throes TW did dip its toes into “the science of movies” though it did not help.

So to this blue screened pasticheo of Saturday morning movie serials then. Is it any good? Yep, I thought it was plenty fun. An awful lot wrong with it, from the casting to the pacing (from a languorous opening to a rushed finale). But does it do what it sets out to? Beyond a shadow of a doubt. This rollicking adventure is boys own silliness to the nth degree designed with flair and wicked imagination. Perhaps writer director should have got someone else in to write the quickfire dialogue, since it rarely works coming from Law and Paltrow’s mouths. But from the visible radio waves to the miniaturised elephants, this encourages a certain kind of film fan (me) to clap in the aisle with silliness joy.

If there is a problem inherent in the project, it is similar to that of films of TV series. Buck Rogers In The Twenty Fifth Century, Undersea Kingdom and King Of The Rocket Men unfolded over at least twenty episodes. As one film, these serials rocked in at about ten to fifteen hours. Admittedly much of this was repetitive and pointless rescues and captures, but it also allowed for a type of characterisation that Sky Captain cannot do. Both Paltrow and Law are attempting archetypes which they do not physically fit. Angelina Jolie on the other hand nails her flirty ‘other woman’ role with so much gusto she steals the film from even the effects. The same cannot be said for the villain which is also a great let down, a pantomime needs someone for us to hiss at. And yet I cannot help but love Sky Captain, and his Tomorrow’s World. A film which has robots and dinosaurs in it. They just don’t fite yet.

(Apologies for lousy photoshop action. I know how easy it would be to do the words as well. But I gave Judith Hann an eyepatch and it seemed wrong)

STIMULANTS A GO GO

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STIMULANTS A GO GO: my heartbeats, my dexys, my life! If only Kevin Rowland had tried my “Sleepy Time Tea” (available in Planet Organic on Torrington Place, Perseopolis, the EXCELLENT Persian shop in Peckham and probably every other sodding HIPPY shop in the world) then he’d have no need for any other stimulant. Never has a tea been such a ludicrous LIE! I use my “Sleepy Time” tea when I need to stay awake for Angel, or I need to finish a certain part of knitting before going to bed. So, it’s useful, but a LIE. So be warned, trusting Publog Readers, BE WARN’D.

The gnarly issue of sportspersons refering to themselves in the third person has reared its head again I see

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The gnarly issue of sportspersons refering to themselves in the third person has reared its head again I see. The Guardian devoted some time to why boxers do it. Psychologically it helps build a new persona, the boxer Chris Eubank is a seperate person to the family man going shopping down Tesco’s (okay, perhaps a bad example). But if the seperation of aggression, training and – most importantly – taking the pain can be seen to happen to another person then it possibly bodes well for genealk integration into society.

That is one potential reason. There is another, which stems from sports journalists. Harry Carpenter used to do it a lot, but now Garth Crooks, Ray Stubbs and anyone interviewing of Sky seem to fall into the trap constantly. It is of talking to people like they are not actually there. So if Harry wanted to know what Frank Bruno was doing next, he would ask Frank “So what’s Frank Bruno doing next?” At the weekend Claudio Ranieri was asked how he felt about his time at Chelsea by asking “After it is all over, how does Claudio Ranieri feel about his time at Chelsea?” This is potentially a useful interviewing style on the radio, if we do not know who is being talked to. But on TV is just seems stupid. What was once a colourful gambit to be used sparingly, is now weapon one in the sports interviewers arsenal. No wonder players refer to themsleves in the third person. Its like they are not there half the time.

YOU NEVER HAD IT SO GOOD

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YOU NEVER HAD IT SO GOOD

Dear Do You See reader(s),

so, you don’t like watching the new Channel Four programme, Green Wing, right? I can hear your cries from where I type, it’s too long, you say! It would be alright if it were half an hour, it being an hour long the terrible trip-hope soundtrack GRATES like FETA (ie UNSATISFYING!!! see poss followup post to Brown Wedge perhaps) and the speed-up slow-down thing? Come ON telly-makers, it didn’t work for Mogwai and it’s not going to work for YOU either. Oh Green Wing! A programme with little history and with hopefully very little future either…

You know what I say?

SHADDAP!!!!

YEAH, you heard!! SHADDAP!!!

Why do I tell you to SHADDAP?!

Because last night, I watched ITV’s Rosemary & Thyme, which stars Felicity Kendall and some other bint who looks like one of the Two Fat Ladies after they’d lost a couple of pounds, ie FOOLING NO-ONE thank you very much. This didn’t last one hour, no. It didn’t last HALF an hour, no. TWO FLIPPING HOURS of this, I sat through, no trip-hop or silly camera-work, just amusingly named Landscape Gardening Crime-Fighters slowly wading their way through a plot that Midsomer Murder’s would have cracked through in about five minutes. It’s the lack of potential that disappoints me! For a programme CLEARLY commissioned on a DARE, it completely threw away the potential – come on ITV, sack the writers, get them behind Jonathan Creek in on the act and CUT IT DOWN TO AN HOUR and you might stand a chance of keeping the series going.

I on the other hand, will be looking forward to Midsomer Murders. I’ll no doubt watch Rosemary & Thyme again next week, but possibly with stronger stimulants than Hot Chocolate. Maybe my “Sleepy Time” tea, which has the opposite effect, which I usually use to keep me awake for Channel Five’s LUDICROUSLY late showings of “Angel” at eg 12.45 – well past my bedtime…