I’m JOKING. Please let’s not do this.
Year: 2016 Director: Richard Linklater
I’ve loved director Richard Linklater since I saw his debut film Slackers in the early 90s (part of me still wants to move to Austin, live in a squat and start a band because of that film). He’s eclectic, unpretentious and I don’t think there’s another director alive whose philosophy on life most matches my own.
Everybody Wants Some!! is a Buddhist manifesto disguised as a frat house comedy. There’s no one I can think of apart from Linklater who could weld such unlikely concepts together so seamlessly.
There’s a deep rooted connection to its predecessor, Dazed and Confused, from 1993. That film (itself inspired by American Graffiti) explored the bittersweet freedom and sense of possibility on the last day of high school, 1976. Everybody Wants Some!! jumps forward to the next natural life step – the first day of college. And it’s now 1980.
Our ensemble cast focuses on a house shared by a group of horny jocks on baseball scholarships. It’s three days until term starts, which they spend chasing girls and getting seriously out of their faces.
That might not sound appealing. And to be honest the sexism and laddish humour is » Continue Reading.
Year: 2004 Director: Joe Berlinger
It can’t be said enough – you don’t have to like Metallica to like this documentary. Personally, I think their music is awful, but that’s part of the fun here.
During the period this film covers (2000 – 2003), the band went through a bit of an identity crisis. Struggling to record a new album, they battled with such pressures as their lead singer (James Hetfield) going into rehab, family commitments, creative blocks and a legal battle with the online music streaming service Napster (remember Napster?).
Such are the troubles of a bunch of terminally adolescent multi-millionaires. For a good portion of this film, the temptation is strong to just shout “Oh, grow up!” at the screen. It’s hard to maintain any kind of affinity with them when, for example, Hetfield misses his son’s first birthday to go bear hunting in Siberia. Or when drummer Lars Ulrich laments the fact he has to sell some of his art collection to make more room in his house. (He makes a few million at the auction, which eases the pain a bit).
But there are also cutting truths on show here, and it’s a credit to the » Continue Reading.
Isn’t Time cruel? Why does it fly by so fast? Where are all the years going?
If you asked me when the Afterword started, I’d probably guess around last year some time. But I bet you it was 2009 or something.
And when did George Harrison die? Couple of years ago, something like that?
I hate getting old.
I’ve no idea if this will have any traction, or if it’s been tried before, but anyone fancy a game?
Let’s play Six Degrees Of Separation, but with musicians. Take any two musicians and link them in six steps or less, via musicians they’ve either recorded with or shared a stage with.
To take an easy example, Kate Bush to Jimmy Page might be: Kate Bush > recorded (a few times) with David Gilmour, who > played on Have A Cigar with Roy Harper, who > played Stormcock with Jimmy Page.
So, here’s one to start with. These are two names off the top of my head, I don’t have an answer in mind:
Diana Ross to Bon Scott.
Anyone want to try? First to get it can suggest another name to link Bon Scott to and keep the chain going.
What does it sound like?:
By the time of their fourth album, Dire Straits had experienced that now rare luxury of having time to grow and develop. A fiery live act, centred around Mark Knopfler’s astonishingly fluid guitar playing (and an uncannily tight and sympathetic collective ability as a group – check out their Old Grey Whistle Test appearances), they sometimes had the tendency on their first three albums to tip over into blandness. (For me, those early albums all tend to blend into one AOR gloop). But there were signs of greatness to come, not least in Knopfler’s burgeoning songwriting ability (Romeo and Juliet from Making Movies being his first unqualified success, a light, dancing creation tempered by a combination of street suss and cynical playfulness worthy of Paul Simon).
Love Over Gold, then, was a change in sound (they ditched the producer and allowed Knopfler to produce on his own) and a leap forward in maturity. While there is an unshakeable whiff of eighties about the whole project (the dread digital gated reverb is in full effect, as well as a track listing in the style of a computer monitor), Love Over Gold’s roots actually lie in » Continue Reading.
Year: 2016 Director: Louis Theroux
I’ve been bored with Louis Theroux in recent years. His goofy, mock-naive persona was starting to get a little shop-worn, and I thought his Saville documentary was a little misjudged and overly defensive.
But My Scientology Movie is meaty and thought-provoking. As an investigative journalist, Louis was never going to get anywhere near to penetrating this most secretive of (alleged!) cults, but I think he knew that from the start.
Instead, he does what he has always done best. He hovers round the periphery and disarms people with his affability, patiently feeding them enough rope to tie themselves in knots. In the end, they come to him, to an extent. So we get scenes like an ex-enforcer for the Church, berating them for their heavy handed bully techniques, while failing to face up to the fact that he was key to developing those techniques in the first place. And Church security teams trying to see Louis and his team off by following them around and filming them, which Louis diffuses by just remaining bewildered and curious rather than intimidated.
As it’s a cinematic release with a slightly larger budget, the production standards are much classier » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
The cover’s just awful, for a start. I’m talking about the original UK release, with all the naked ladies. (I’ve used the alternative cover here, to spare your blushes). Hendrix himself famously hated it, publicly expressing his anger at the record company for going behind his back.
I wish I could find the full quote where he explains why he hates it, because it’s unwittingly hilarious, and it undermines any notion you might have that he was somehow a progressive feminist seeking to restore the dignity of these women. Turns out he LIKED the nudity… it was just that the lighting and wide angle made them all look distorted and ugly. (Shades of Spinal Tap: ‘What’s wrong with being sexy?’…. ‘No…. SexIST’…)
This kind of tragi-comic anecdote is indicative of the sloppiness that’s made Hendrix’s recorded output and subsequent legacy such a shambles. Never mind the endless bootlegs – even the official releases are a mess of half-baked packages and ill-timed reboots. In his lifetime, Jimi was a loose cannon with no real guiding hand, spewing out content with nary a game plan. So the chaos is understandable.
(Shame he never had a » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
Yes, I thought I would review one of the best known LPs of all time. And why not? You never know, someone here might never have heard it. Or someone who professes to dislike The Beatles might be persuaded by my review to give it another go.
The way Abbey Road fits into the Beatles mythology is like this. Inspired by Pet Sounds, they hit a psychedelic high with Revolver (1966) and Sgt Pepper (1967), and turned pop music into art. Floundering for direction they spent much of 1968 messing about in the studio, and the resultant splurge of half-baked recordings became The White Album (a classic, but a flawed classic). In January 1969 they tried to record a live album, jamming and recording every minute, until they finished at the end of the month, cold and exhausted, with one last impromptu show for posterity on their office rooftop on Baker Street. By that point the game was up, they were all fed up being Beatles, and they had nothing left to say.
In that context, Abbey Road seems nothing short of miraculous. In the astonishingly compressed timescale of Beatles world, it was effectively » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
In one of the more unlikely comebacks of recent times, July this year saw our favourite antipodean sample-based groove merchants The Avalanches return with a new album, the first since their debut in 2000 (Since I Left You).
The most astonishing thing is just how much it sounds like business as usual. They’ve lost none of their magic touch, and haven’t tried to update their sound – this could easily have come out in 2001.
The idea of ‘sample based music’ might need a bit of context for the uninitiated. As you listen to Wildflower you might well hear bits and bobs from songs you recognise – there’s a bit of Admiral Halsey…. Isn’t that Fairport Convention?…. A children’s choir singing Come Together… How can they get away with this? Aren’t they just copying others peoples’ records? Well, yes. Yes they are. But think of it as collage and don’t worry about it. They’re re-contextualising, folks – recasting old sounds in a new sonic landscape. It all flows seamlessly though – you won’t spot the joins, and it’s almost impossible to tell the samples from the original sounds.
The cover is a cheeky rip » Continue Reading.
I’m in a ruminating mood, which might explain my odd question.
I’ve been known to describe myself as a failed artist, because I’m of a vaguely creative bent and have at various times aspired to various artistic or musical endeavours which have come to nothing.
Whenever anyone asks a successful creative person for advice, the cliché often trotted out is ‘never give up’. Because, they say, ‘I never gave up. If I had given up I would never have succeeded. So if you never give up, you’ll succeed one day. Just like me.’
Logic says that’s a flawed argument. Why not ask the failed artists rather than the successful ones? ‘You’ve spent your life trying to be a pop star and never succeeded but never given up. Have you wasted your life? Discuss.’
So how do you know when to give up? Any fellow failed artists who gave up and are happy they did? Or any that learned to live with creative pursuits without success or reward?
This might be old news, but I’ve only just heard about this fresh scandal about Boris Johnson. Before the Brexit vote, he wrote a pro-Brecit article in the Tekegraph. It now transpires at the same time he wrote a pro-Remain article, which was never published.
I’m not going to defend Boris as a person, nor do I want to get involved in Brexit disputes.
But on reading this, my first thought wasn’t that Boris was flip flopping over whatever choice suits his career best. It sounds to me like a sensible weighing up of the alternatives.
In fact, in my work I do it quite a lot. I won’t go into details about what I do, but I frequently have to resolve financial disputes by preparing a report illustrating my decision. Quite often it’s a tough decision, so I’ve been known to prepare TWO reports with opposing views, then read them back to see which is more convincing.
I think it’s something to do with having to articulate your thoughts, bringing them into the light to eliminate woolly thinking.
It’s similar to writing a pros vs cons list for big life decisions.
So on this matter I have some sympathy » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
When La Roux emerged to mainstream success in 2009 they were an unlikely prospect. Sure, they tapped into an ’80s-centric zeitgest, but singer Elly Jackson had a kind of arch, nasal tone, whining from the top end of an unnatural register, and Ben Langmaid’s synth-heavy productions favoured genuinely tinny, crunchy sounds that were at odds with modern bass-heavy pop.
I loved them, however, and for me the formula worked beautifully. Until I heard that debut album I’d never have thought the world needed a Yazoo for the 21st century. What elevated them was solid pop nous, nothing more – the kind of fluffy, infectious tunes we remember from early Depeche Mode and OMD.
I didn’t have high hopes for this second album. Five long years in the making, in which time we had such disasters as Ben falling out with Elly and leaving for good (yes, La Roux is now a solo act) and Elly losing her voice (she got it back, but she now sings in a lower key – the distinctive whine, sadly, is gone).
But Trouble In Paradise is, against all odds, wonderful. Oozing confidence from the start with Uptight Downtown » Continue Reading.
At a recent quiz, one of the questions was the opening line of Bon Jovi’s unmatched classic, Livin’ On A Prayer.
Cue every team arguing in hushed tones about whether it was Tommy or Johnny who worked on the docks.
Or was it the farm he worked on?
Anyway, the room erupted in righteous exasperation and confusion when it turned out the opening line, BEFORE THE FIRST VERSE, is “Once upon a time, not so long ago….”
(Go look it up if you don’t believe me. We certainly did).
But…. SERIOUSLY?? Isn’t that like saying the first line of A Little Help From My Friends is “Billy Shears” or the first line of Need You Tonight (by INXS) is “Come over here…”??
As you were.
What does it sound like?:
I’m slowly working my way through Miles Davis’ recording career in a haphazard fashion, jumping back and forth and just following my nose.
This LP dates from 1970, and is the result of Davis’ usual working practice by that time, jamming for hours in the studio and allowing producer Macero Parker free reign to edit down the results to two sides of vinyl.
It’s much, MUCH looser and rawer than the lush sound of the preceding, more well known LPs, In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew. Probably due to the fact that he’s ditched the triple Fender Rhodes piano attack and the principle sound is just guitar, bass and drums, with the occasional trumpet skronk over the top. There’s a little Herbie Hancock organ solo in there, but apparently that was just the result of Herbie wandering into the studio halfway through a jam and having a little noodle.
The drums are rock drums, Billy Cobham I believe. The guitar by John McLaughlin is shockingly raw – the hoary old anecdote goes that Davis asked him to play guitar as if he’d never played before, so he sounds like Pete Townsend.
If you » Continue Reading.
Hi folks. Apologies for a lazy post but instead of doing some proper research myself I thought I’d appeal to the Massive hive mind for ideas.
In November I’m going on probably what will be a once in a lifetime trip to New York, with a brief chance to see a bit of Amsterdam on the way back. Never been to either city.
I saw the recent brilliant thread on Dublin so I’m being cheeky here and looking for similar tips.
I’m not a particularly frequent traveller. On average I’ve been abroad once every two or three years, but generally nowhere further than Europe. Generally city breaks: London, Paris, Rome. I like the buzz of cities.
The difference this time is I’m travelling with my mum not my wife. So fancy shopping and fancy restaurants are generally not required. Me and my mum are both practical and spendthrift, so would get more pleasure out of simple value for money pursuits. Neither of use are averse to hoofing it around – anything up to 7 or 8 miles a day at most would be acceptable. I’m 43 and my mum is 67.
Any ideas? Practical as well as cultural.
Thought I’d start a good old-fashioned ‘vs’ thread, just for fun.
I’ve always found Chris Rea and Mark Knopfler to be sonically very similar, particularly in their eighties heyday. I bet a lot of casual listeners wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
So who’s better?
I say the Dire Straits frontman has the edge. Love Over Gold and Brothers In Arms were genuine masterpieces that I still listen to. Mr Rea always had a whiff of kitsch about him (although I still love Nothing To Fear).
The recent worrying thread about images on the blog has reminded me of one of my more leftfield ideas. I’m sure this will get careful consideration from you open minded people… And if not, then I’ll feel solidarity with that moon landings guy.
Why don’t we just give up the idea of copyright? It seems to me that the whole idea was conceived when people were actually able to control the copying and distribution of their work. In a world of instant copies of everything everywhere it makes less and less sense each day.
All the arguments for copyright seem to be about artists preserving their revenue. But whoever said art needs to create revenue? If you need to be paid to give your art any meaning, maybe you should be doing something else instead. I think a world of amateur artists (writers, musicians, etc….) would be a potentially more interesting place.
We’re clinging to an outdated concept and failing to think outside the box. Let’s end ‘copyright’ tomorrow. Who’s with me?!
Maybe not to everyone’s taste, but I’m excited. The late David Bedford’s epic orchestral soundscape Star’s End is being performed as part of a BBC concert in Wales next February. Proper avant-prog.
Any of you dudes and dudettes seen this article? Pretty fascinating explanation for the layman about how Spotify’s weekly personalised playlist works.
I was always dubious that a robotic algorithm could read my musical taste, but I tried out the playlist recently and I was spookily surprised by a genuinely engaging and eclectic mix.
I got the Chambers Brothers, Richie Havens, Marc Ribot and other similar slightly left field stuff… with some Lee Dorsey and Miles Davis keeping it feelgood. Started to feel like I was stuck in a very nice Coen Brothers or Wes Anderson movie.
But I can’t help feeling there’s something cold and depressing about a machine like this. You feel a bit insular, stuck in a self-contained musical world. The very opposite of music as a human, social activity.
Hey folks. Long time lurker, very infrequent poster.
Apologies if this has been discussed in another thread, but I did a search and couldn’t see anything.
I’ve only just become aware of this whole legal dispute between Kesha, Sony and her producer Dr Luke. Are we okay to talk about this or is it legally sensitive?
There’s copious information online about it all. I won’t repeat it all here.
I don’t really know much about Kesha and her music. I think that makes me more objective, but you can decide. Maybe if it was an artist whose work I had an emotional stake in I might feel different.
Anyway, the dispute.
As an overall general observation, I would just say that I can see all three sides in this. I mean I can see the motivation for each point of view, and I can’t see any easy way to resolve it all. I’m always reluctant to get on a moral high horse until I know the facts, and I feel that a court case is probably the best place for all the allegations being made. Kesha wants out of her contract, Sony want to preserve the contract, Dr Luke wants » Continue Reading.