Posts from June 2011

30
Jun 11

RIGHT SAID FRED – “Deeply Dippy”

Popular120 comments • 6,119 views

#675, 18th April 1992

Right Said Fred were a rum proposition – solid light entertainment values in leather pants, with the mildest dash of sauce added. Jobbing musicians, no great shakes as singers but likeable chaps, so people gave them the benefit of the doubt and let them sweat a novelty hit into two or three years of genuine fame. The Fairbrass brothers were everywhere for a while – the NME embraced them, Smash Hits lapped them up, the red-tops loved the silliness, the public seemed to enjoy the tunes, they bagged an Ivor Novello or two. Right Said Fred enjoyed a remarkable level of goodwill, which didn’t really fade until their second album came out and people realised there actually wasn’t room in their life for Black Lace with an extra member and half the hair.

22
Jun 11

SHAKESPEARS SISTER – “Stay”

FT + Popular128 comments • 6,896 views

#674, 22nd February 1992

What people remember about “Stay” are its extremes – the teetering, cracking soprano of Marcella Detroit’s lead vocal, and Siobhan Fahey’s growled and throaty intervention on the bridge. The deliberate contrast laid the song open to plenty of parodies, and a faint air of gimmickry hung over it – so ambitious, so unlike the rest of the charts, but still somehow a little absurd, an awkward collision between “Nothing Compares 2 U” and “Total Eclipse Of The Heart”, switching clumsily between intensity and bluster.

21
Jun 11

Film 2Oh!!: You Know, The Other Nazi’s

Do You See + FT7 comments • 291 views

31 & 32: Ip Man (DVD) and Return Of The Fist: The Legend Of Chen Zhen (DVD)

The cinema shorthand, when I was a kid, was that Nazi’s were evil cannon fodder. Classic dehumanising techniques from a jingoistic media trying to make sense of years of war, and the aftermath. It was handy that the Nazi’s made it pretty easy to portrayed as such, Hitler and his Final Solution still seem objectively much more evil than most wars about territory. And as Mitchell and Webb pointed out recently, wearing skulls as insignia suggest that you might be the bad guys.

I don’t know much about Chinese history beyond some of the bulletpoint bits and Chairman Mao’s really rather versatile jacket. I do know that Japan and China were at war pre-WWII, and that Japan had significant gains within China, such as Shanghai and so on. But Japanese cinema barely touches anything resembling modern history, and Chinese cinema (depending on its provenance) also seemed to avoid films about this time too. Both national cinemas seem to play a lot more on the long history and Wuxia and Samurai type historical films (with their own codified genre tropes).

13
Jun 11

Film 2Oh!!: Formula 1, Blindness, Cannibalism, Self-Mutilation and Creepy Fred Astaire

Do You See + FT1 comment • 340 views

Film 2Oh!! is an attempt to write about every film I have seen this year which is really quite tricky. This year I have seen 124 films, written about 25. Its tricky. So lets try and mop a few up with some thoughts on some films I have seen lately.

26: Senna (cinema)
Remarkable how cinematic a documentary made completely from grainy TV footage can be. Remarkable how much the non-stop historical cigarette advertising throughout the film made me want a gasper. Particularly Rothmans, the Williams and my Dad’s formula one cigarette of choice. I remember one Christmas at family gathering racing a packer of John Player Special against a pack of Rothmans on the dining table as we “played” Formula 1. And being mighty disappointed that no-one in the family smoked Marlboro’s.

27. Julia’s Eyes (cinema)
Dear the makers of Julia’s Eyes. I can understand why thematically it may make sense in a film about someone losing her sight, you may want to mirror her failing eyesight with dull fading cinematography. I understand it, but it is as bad an idea as associating “unremarkable” with “invisible”.

10
Jun 11

WET WET WET – “Goodnight Girl”

Popular47 comments • 4,072 views

#673, 25th January 1992

Few types of music get less critical respect than the romantic ballad, and sometimes I wonder why. A tin ear for the form, an impatience with its slow unwinding of feeling? Or perhaps it’s just spite. After all, what good is the armoury of scorn against the direct emotional link ballads can forge with their audience? “Goodnight Girl”, however, raises exactly none of these difficult questions: it’s the kind of glossy mulch that gives balladry a bad name. Wet Wet Wet’s notion of soul was always underinspired and overdelivered. So it’s a toss-up as to whether you want to hear them mawk a strong song to pieces or, as here, wade through something more glutinous and self-penned.

9
Jun 11

Popular ’91

Popular57 comments • 3,234 views

I give a mark out of 10 to every single on Popular. Here’s where you can tick the ones you’d give 6 or higher to – and talk about the year in general.

(My highest mark for 1991 was an 8 for the KLF, my lowest a 1 for Hale And Pace.)

Which of the Number Ones of 1991 Would You Have Given 6 Or More To?

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Poll closes: No Expiry

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8
Jun 11

QUEEN – “Bohemian Rhapsody”/”These Are The Days Of Our Lives”

Popular67 comments • 4,334 views

#672, 21st December 1991

A double-sided tombstone – you get to choose how you want to remember Freddie Mercury. His finest – most famous, anyway – six minutes, or a new song that felt in context like a farewell note? Or perhaps neither of them really work? “Bohemian Rhapsody” is the obvious choice for a reissue, but it would have become the band’s memorial anyhow – it didn’t need to be specifically squeezed into a suit for the funeral. Though maybe Mercury would have approved – if you’re lured into taking the opening section seriously, as a dread kitsch premonition, the rest of the record becomes even more awkward, absurd, and marvellous.

7
Jun 11

Film 2Oh!!: If Ozu Had Made Tron

Do You See3 comments • 263 views

25: Summer Wars (DVD)

I became aware of Summer Wars last year, flicking through some news item trying to work out why so few Japanese films were being released in the UK at the moment*. There was someone bemoaning the lack of anime releases, and in particular when would they get to see Summer Wars. I watched this trailer below I think and though it looked like a cute, if somewhat serious, Pokemon type film. But it was by the director (Mamoru Hosoda) who made The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, which I liked, so on the list it went. I am glad I did as I don’t think I have been as surprised and delighted by a film I selected at a whim since Ping Pong.

6
Jun 11

guess my theory (academic politics division)

FT5 comments • 531 views

4
Jun 11

wtf moments rereading kipling #8

FTPost a comment • 217 views

“There was not a sting upon him, for the smell of the garlic had checked the Little People for just the few seconds that he was among them. When he rose Kaa’s coils were steadying him and things were bounding over the edge of the cliff — great lumps, it seemed, of clustered bees falling like plummets; but before any lump touched water the bees flew upward and the body of a dhole whirled down-stream. Overhead they could hear furious short yells that were drowned in a roar like breakers — the roar of the wings of the Little People of the Rocks. Some of the dholes, too, had fallen into the gullies that communicated with the underground caves, and there choked and fought and snapped among the tumbled honeycombs, and at last, borne up even when they were dead on the heaving waves of bees beneath them, shot out of some hole in the river-face, to roll over on the black rubbish-heaps. There were dholes who had leaped short into the trees on the cliffs, and the bees blotted out their shapes; but the greater number of them, maddened by the stings, had flung themselves into the river; and, as Kaa said, the Waingunga was hungry water.” From ‘Red Dog’, in The Second Jungle Book, 1895.