Posts from May 2008

May 08

Comics: A Beginner’s Guide: Old Superhero Comics: Marvel

The Brown Wedge9 comments • 2,163 views

There’s a limited amount of pleasure to be had in the really early superhero comics (1938 onwards), but there was a real leap forwards in the early ’60s, thanks to two people at Marvel comics – and no, I am not including Stan Lee in that.

Jack Kirby

Kirby had been working in comics since the late ’30s, and had co-created Captain America back then. When Marvel heard that DC’s new superteam book, the Justice League of America, was selling well, they decided to create one. It was a slightly rough job, and not a lot of thought went into the early issues, but the Fantastic Four was a huge hit, and Kirby created lots more characters – the Hulk, the Avengers, the X-Men, and lots more, and he also revived Cap and others. He brought a power and excitement to superheroes, indeed to comics, that had never been seen before, and for several years he created most of what has sustained Marvel for nearly 50 years, and defined the style of superheroes ever since. I don’t know if there has ever been someone with as fertile an imagination, in any field, and to have sustained such standards for so many years, working at such a fast pace (much, much faster than any other modern Western artist), makes it even more extraordinary.


LEO SAYER – “When I Need You”

FT + Popular29 comments • 4,595 views

#401, 19th February 1977

Another in the recent string of soft, sumptuously arranged ballads, and like the others this is something I can think myself into enjoying – the polished class of the instrumentation in particular – but find it hard to feel. Some of my reserve is down to Sayer’s voice, which is like a thinned-out version of Elton and comes across as a little too whiney. On the positive side, the dynamics of “When I Need You” stop it being pure sap: good pause-and-punch effects on “it’s cold out – but hold out” and the chorus’ return after the sax break, and when Sayer starts improvising a little at the end it works as a payoff.

the proof at last!: alien caught blinking

Proven By Science////Post a comment • 245 views

“authentic” video released today (authentic here seems to mean that YES it is indeed a video, and not for example a sellotape dispenser)


FT4 comments • 3,503 views

14. Messiah – Temple Of Dreams

Without further ado! The engines are throbbing at the start line, ready for Richard Dawson’s Running Man evocation to wave the chequered flag: “It’s time… to start…. RUNNING!” And we’re off! ‘Temple Of Dreams’ accelerates up and up through the gears, before levelling out on a smooth cruise control in the stratosphere, burbling along whilst our in-flight hostess Liz Fraser whispers soothing lullabies. Wonderful stuff.

But hang on, haven’t we already had a track by Messiah?


May 08

JULIE COVINGTON – “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”

FT + Popular81 comments • 7,496 views

#400, 12th February 1977

This is the first entry in Popular that I’ve written about extensively for Freaky Trigger before, in this long piece comparing different versions of the song. It’s one of my favourite longer FT pieces so this entry is very much an extract from it, since I’ve not changed my opinions on the track at all:


Europop 2008: Group D Finale

FT26 comments • 536 views

Group D concludes with Spain and Russia needing wins against Greece and Sweden respectively. Listen, vote, and below the cut you’ll find track details, comment, analysis, match reports and previews.

How to vote: If you download the songs please VOTE for the ones you prefer – you’ll need to press vote separately for each poll. These polls will close on Monday 2nd, so you’ve only got 5 days to vote in them!

Greece v Spain: Which of these tracks do you prefer?

  • Greece: V Galaxy Orchestra 71%
  • Spain: Love Of Lesbians 29%

Total Voters: 24

Poll closes: 2 Jun 2008 @ 13:00

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Russia v Sweden: Which of these tracks do you prefer?

  • Russia: The Nicole 62%
  • Sweden: In Flames 38%

Total Voters: 21

Poll closes: 2 Jun 2008 @ 13:00

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May 08

Comics: A Beginner’s Guide: Old Comedy Newspaper Strips

The Brown Wedge12 comments • 4,972 views

There’s nothing in comics of any kind that I love more or regard more highly than two very old newspaper strips.

a Krazy Kat panelKrazy Kat

This strip started in 1914 and ran for thirty years, until the death of its creator George Herriman. The Sunday strips started in 1916, and I think they are as good as comics has ever got. The setup is odd but kind of simple: the Kat loves a mouse, Ignatz. Ignatz hates Krazy and throws bricks at him/her, which Krazy interprets as tokens of love. Offissa Pupp loves Krazy and tries to protect her/him from Ignatz. Krazy’s sex was indeterminate – often unclear, sometimes explicitly stated one way or the other. The setting, a town of shifting scenery in mesa country in SW America, is one of countless strangenesses in the strip, as is the lyrical language. This was back when comics were sometimes taken seriously – fans of this included F. Scott Fitzgerald, e.e. cummings, Gertrude Stein, Chaplin, Joyce and Picasso. In my more flippant moods I have claimed it resembles Tom & Jerry as depicted by Joyce and Picasso.


DAVID SOUL – “Don’t Give Up On Us”

FT + Popular46 comments • 3,803 views

#399, 15th January 1977

Pretty much as soon as I finish one Popular entry, the next song earworms its way into my head as a memo to self – get thinking about this. With “Don’t Give Up On Us”, though, something odd’s been happening – I can’t keep the song in my brain and it keeps shifting back into “If You Leave Me Now”. There’s not a lot of melodic similarity but the tracks share a theme and a sappy intensity – unfortunately Soul’s tune, while pleasant enough, comes off the loser in this mental war and floats off into insignificance.

If you’d had a crush on Soul in ’77, though, this must have been pretty much perfect – the straight-to-camera video nailing its hammy intimacy perfectly. For me, it’s a bit of a drag, momentarily enlivened by the “I really lost my head last night…” middle eight, suddenly hinting at a way more interesting story behind the song. Tell us more, Dave! But the moment, all-too-quickly, passes.

May 08

Would You Rather Be Called Toilet Cleaner?

Do You See + FT1 comment • 359 views

I am probably not alone in the UK to having The Wizard Of Oz as one of my first film memories. Not at the cinema of course, but rather on television at Christmas, one of those yuletide traditions which I never questioned*. It may be where I got a fondness for musicals for, but it is absolutely where I got my fondness for supersaturated Technicolor films from. The Adventures Of Robin Hood shares a soft spot for many of the same reasons.

All of this is in some way an excuse for liking “the already decided to be a flop” Speed Racer.


5 Point Plan For The UK To Win* Eurovision

FT/40 comments • 783 views

*where win = “maybe come a respectable fifth”

The BIG T has had enough of Eurovision because the UK keeps doing atrociously in it, and he is leading a chorus of RAGE in the press saying we should pull out. I suspect the majority of the 7 million people who watch it don’t give much of a monkeys about whether Britain does well or not, they are just entertained by the spectacle and (who knows) maybe even the music, which this year was generally pretty good. But in case people do care here are my suggestions for how we might do a bit better.

First off there are two basic reasons that we don’t perform well.