Do you have your league ladders ready for the new season then?
Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to go and listen to a single, EP or album that you loved when you were 14, but haven’t heard in years.
Ideally it should be something that you were mad about when you had it on vinyl or cassette, but which never made that fateful jump to the CD collection or the iTunes library.
A Frankie 12″ perhaps? Or how about Kings of the Wild Frontier? Angel Face? Oceans of Fantasy? Elastica? Metal for Muthas even? The choice is yours!
The last few days have seen the 20th anniversary of the publication of the first Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, and I was wondering what the site feels about Gryffindor’s most famous alumnus
Me, I’m a fan. I’ve read the books and I like a couple of things about J.K Rowling. First, I like the fact that she’s a bit of a nerd. She realises that for successful world building the devil is in the details, so she gives you them. Pages and pages of them, from Quidditch rules to the names (and profiles) of the pubs in Hogsmere. It’s the main reason why the books get bigger and bigger towards the end, as she ensures that every loose end that’s out there is tied up.
I also like the films, though I’m not a fan of how they get darker (and greyer) as they go through the books, but that’s because I’m a it tired of all this “dark=serious” that you see in fantasy and super hero films over the last couple of decades. The Prisoner of Azkaban is my favourite, which has a light touch yet which channels a bit of the old » Continue Reading.
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
When the web site stated something along the lines of “Bjorn Again will support Village People, but both acts will play for the same amount of time”, you suspected that either there had been some tense running order discussions or perhaps the promoters had realised that nobody with a credit card wanted to watch a full set of Village People, even on their 40th anniversary.
I’d seen Bjorn Again previously, so knew what to expect: kimonos, peroxide and a lot of cheese: cheesy Swedish accents, cheesy dance moves and cheesy “this half of the hall sing with me” type banter. Ah, who cares, what you also get are tour-perfected selections from one of pop’s best greatest hits catalogues. The Aussies have been doing this for a while now and obviously know at 8pm on a Friday night their audience is going to consist of people who have put their work week beyond them and have already had a couple of Tiger beers. So their slightly truncated set list found room for stompers such as Ring Ring and Honey Honey, but not the reflective Winner Takes it All. During the set it » Continue Reading.
There’s strong evidence that Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo is aiming for the highly influential Afterword market, judging by their latest T-Shirt collections. It’s widely believed that Uniqlo see Afterworders as fashion trendsetters and “opinion formers” who “set the agenda” for the rest of the world as to what is “fab:”, “hip” and “gear”.
First of all, there’s a collection celebrating Jazz that contains T-shirts featuring album covers by folk such as Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan and Eric Dolphy. Out to Lunch! by Eric Dolphy, mind. I’m surprised they aren’t printing the price in kroner for that one.
Next to those, there are some T-shirts featuring classic Marvel characters, with what looks like artwork by Jack Kirby and John Romita.
And then naturally there’s Miles Davis and The Beatles. To celebrate 50 years of Capitol you can buy shirts with album covers by those two Afterword favourites as well as ones by The Beach Boys and Gene Vincent.
The Halo Effect: “If we see a person first in a good light, it is difficult subsequently to darken that light”
In David Hepworth’s book on 1971, he uses the Halo Effect to explain why “What’s Going On” has such a reputation for being a great album (basically, the excellence of the opening and closing tracks casts a halo over the rest of the album).
That got me thinking about where else this effect can be seen. Oddly enough, the first name that came to mind was David Letterman. When he retired a couple of years back, tributes poured in about his 30 years as a talk show host. Yet most of the clips that were recalled were from the 1980s. As someone who only saw his show from the late 90s onwards it was difficult to see what the fuss was about: a fairly cranky middle-aged guy making jokes with his bandleader? I think a lot of the goodwill that was extended to him was a result of the Halo Effect created by his early 80s shows, when he really was a breath of fresh air.
In sports, few teams benefit from the Halo Effect as much as » Continue Reading.
1987 is now 30 years ago. I was 18 in 1987, so should love it, but I don’t usually consider myself a big fan. Too much Hair Metal, Stock Aitken & Waterman, Stadium Rock and Karel Fialka. However, I may have to change my opinion a bit because if you look at the singles released in this year, it may have a claim to be great.
Rent I’ve always preferred Minor Key PSB (Being Boring, Left to my Devices) over hi-NRG PSB (most of the other ones), and I think Rent is their best song. I recall that when Melody Maker did their end of the year review, Andrew Eldritch listed it as his Single of the Year by virtue of the fact that it was the only single he bought that year. “Really. With your money” sniffed the MM.
Rebel Without a Pause It’s on It Takes a Nation of Millions, but it was recorded and released between their first two albums in 1987. This might well be the group at their peak, and it was easily the most exciting thing I heard that year, far more so than any of the rock or indie records released. What a » Continue Reading.
The first I heard of what would come to be Hair Metal was 1981 or so when Tommy Vance played songs from an album called Too Fast For Love by some American band called Motley Crue on his Friday Rock Show. They had been getting mentions for a while in Kerrang! and this must have been one of the first times they were played on the radio in the UK. God almighty, I thought to myself, this’ll never catch on.
The thing is, I should have liked Hair Metal. After all, I was a fan of most of the genre’s major influences. I loved the 70s Alice Cooper and Kiss records (still do). I also liked Van Halen and Aerosmith. So I suppose I should have been a fan really. So why did I end up hating the bloody thing?
I think the main reason was the sound. Hair Metal records sounded really terrible with all that compression. Those dull, thudding snares. Those squawking lead guitars. Perhaps the records were mastered to sound effective on FM radio (or on MTV), but there’s something cold and shrill about them. And they don’t sound any better thirty years on either. I’ve become » Continue Reading.
Ed Piskor’s “Hip Hop Family Tree” makes innovative use of the comics medium to tell the story of Hip Hop. It’s basically a documentary, but instead of aged talking heads reminiscing over old footage, Piskor narrates the story, with the images showing the main characters and action. This technique takes you back and effectively immerses you into the sights and fashions of the periods covered.
The story starts in the Bronx in the 70s and for a while doesn’t travel very far outside; it’s remarkable how much of the early innovation in Hip Hop happened in such a small, concentrated area. Despite this, the number of characters quickly multiplies, and Piskor has his work cut out managing all the competing crews, DJs, club owners and MCs. Piskor has cited Chris Claremont’s 70s/80s work on the Uncanny X-Men as inspiration for handling an extensive list of characters and it’s there to see in techniques such as introducing characters well before they take centre stage (graphic design student Carlton Ridenhouer is seen listening to early Hip Hop at college, and in a nice touch we see young comics fan Darryl McDaniels reading a copy of the X Men).
The lowdown on Alice Cooper
The Alice Cooper group in 1970 were the sort of group that only Frank Zappa could love (which is presumably why he signed them to his label). Then they had the great luck to hook up with a young producer called Bob Ezrin who completely transformed their sound and sent them flying up the charts in the process. The material from this period forms one of the best greatest hits sets of the 70s (see below).
After splitting up in 1974, the singer took the name of the band for himself and since then has had a remarkably resilient solo career. He’s never really retired, and has been releasing albums pretty much every 2-3 years or so in that time.
The best place to start:
1974’s “Alice Cooper’s Greatest Hits” does a flawless job at cherrypicking the Alice Cooper group’s string of albums from 1971 to 1974. All the hit singles are here, alongside strong album tracks such as “Billion dollar Babies” and “Desperado”. Future compilations add mid 70s AOR ballads and 80s metal to the mix, which distracts rather than adds to the experience.
The absolutely essential masterpiece(s):
1. “Billion Dollar » Continue Reading.
About twenty years ago someone wrote to the letters page of The Guardian with a set of three questions that could be used to determine whether someone was really Scottish or not. I forget the other two, but one of them was “Who lives at 10 Glebe Street?”. The answer, as anyone who has grown up in Scotland over the last 80 years or so will know is: The Broons. I received a copy of the latest book as a Christmas present (it must be a classic gift for exiled Scots) and it was the first one I’d seen for quite a few years.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Broons, it is a long-running comic strip published weekly in the Scottish Sunday Post newspaper with a book collecting the strips being published every two years or so (And it really is long-running, first appearing in 1936, it’s characters are older than Batman and Superman). The original writer/artist died in the late 60s and since then a series or writers and artists have continued the strip in exactly the same style (there have been no Frank Miller-type Dark Knight re-imaginings of the Broons, though it’s an intriguing thought).
Taking a wrong turn in Singapore’s sprawling Mustafa Centre a few months back, I ended up in 1978. There, facing me from the shelves was a line-up of fragrances that I hadn’t seen in the same place for years: Denim, Old Spice, Tabac and Brut: the fab four of Seventies fragrances. Sure, the livery had changed on a few of them (though I don’t think the Tabac Brand Artwork team has been that busy in the last 40 years) but they were still easily recognizable. Cheap, too. So what does an Afterworder do when he finds himself in a shop with cheap stuff that other folk haven’t been interested in since the 70s? He buys them of course, and here are my reviews.
Denim: For me, the most disappointing of the four: very, very light scent, as if a bottle of Smirnoff had been left open in a flower shop for a couple of hours. This used to be for the man who didn’t have to try too hard. What happened?
Old Spice: Probably the brand that’s had the highest profile over the last 40 years and it had a bit of swagger (it was actually on another shelf by » Continue Reading.
Multiplying Chills (Brividis Travoltis) A series of shakes and jerks that can make the sufferer appear to be the subject of electrifying power. Can often cause the sufferer to lose control. Commonly accepted remedies include shaping up and meditation.
Cat Scratch Fever (Itchus Scratchus Felinus Nugentus) An ailment that is often caught from cats next door, it is generally regarded as nothing dangerous, with no pain, though in severe cases it can make a grown man cry. Common symptoms include the ability to make a pussy purr with a stroke of your hand.
Gonokakakakas (urinas dolorosas zappas) Ailment which can be contracted from toilet seats. Principal symptoms include painful urination, though some sufferers have reported their genitalia feeling like “a pair of maracas”.
Wooden Heart (cuorus legnus regnus) An illness common among American G.I.s posted in Germany in the late 1950. Sufferers were said to never be the same afterwards, though some recovered briefly in the late 60s. However, this recovery proved to be short-lived and in the early 70s they felt their temperature rising higher and higher with a burning feeling that led to rapid weight gain.
When Saturday Comes recently celebrated its 30th anniversary with a special edition that contained a facsimile of its first issue (the ugly cut & paste layout reminding you long ago 1986 was).
I didn’t read WSC#1, but I remember staring to read it in the late 80s, when it was the most prominent of the football fanzines that you would find outside football games as well as in record shops and other places. WSC and a few competitors covered the national scene (in Scotland we had The Absolute Game). But the most interesting thing about the scene was how each club would have at least a couple of fanzines fighting for prominence.
The whole thing would make a decent case study for an MBA student. Was First Mover Advantage always important for a club fanzine, or could you be disrupted by a later competitor with a better cartoonist and access to a colour photocopier? Were consumers loyal to their club’s fanzines or would they read well-regarded zines from other clubs? (I always enjoyed Aberdeen’s The Northern Light despite being a Celtic fan, but I drew the line at reading one that covered the other lot). The fanzines were crude, » Continue Reading.
Has anyone else been enjoying the Round the Horne episodes that are available on the BBC site at the moment? If you haven’t been listening, then have a vada at the link below:
The show of course is very British, or perhaps that should be British as British was in the late 1960s. A lot of the humour is double entendres or allusions to risque (that’s your actual French) behaviour being performed by someone on someone else, somewhere, hopefully at a safe distance from your living room. I think niscum makes a good point over on the “Is this funny?” thread,about comedy not necessarily aging well and perhaps to really enjoy this show you have to meet it half way. Imagine it’s the late 60s and you’re listening to this on the Binatone radio while eating your Vesta curry.
And then there’s Kenneth Williams. One thing the show demonstrates is how powerful radio can be as a medium for comedy if you have performers with great technical ability, and I’m continually impressed by just how good Williams was. Whether he’s rolling out the polari as Sandy or singing about being stung in the nurdles as Rambling Sid Rumpo, » Continue Reading.
A few years back, Jerry Seinfeld was being interviewed by an American newspaper and mentioned that he was disappointed that no sitcom had come along to replace Seinfeld. I found that an easy comment to agree with, but that was because I was a late comer to Modern Family. I’ve spent the last year or so catching up. During this time, I’ve found my opinion changing from “This is the US sitcom since Seinfeld” to “You know, this actually might be better than Seinfeld” and now it’s the reached the point where I think it’s time to ask “Is Modern Family the best US sitcom ever?”
If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it involves the adventures of the extended Pritchett family (three couples) in Los Angeles. The characters include a gay couple, an adopted Vietnamese child, a nerd-bimbo sister pairing and a loud Columbian. And while this makes it sound like Friends after a Diversity Workshop, it’s way more fun than that. It’s pacy, well-plotted and acted, breaks the fourth wall in a novel way, and most important of all is full of laugh-out loud lines. It’s starting to show its age just a little bit, but it still delivers.
I think we may have discussed this before, but I think it was before the whole Drupal thing, so I’ll start a thread here.
I’m looking at buying a new wireless router. I’ve had my current one (Netgear N600 dual band) for about 5 years now, and it’s worked well, but is beginning to strain a bit.
So I started looking into getting a new one, and it’s a bit confusing for this old warhorse. I get that I should be looking at an 802.11ac model, and that the MU-MIMO is going to help multiple devices connect, but also that it’s still a new technology and both the router and the devices need to be compatible.
So are there any recommendations? I’m going to stream things like Netflix as well as music through the house and there will be a few tablets and phones connecting in as well. No online gaming though, (unless the PS3 comes out with a 4K HD dog walking simulator).
I’m a Mac user, so the Airports and the Time Capsules may be an option.
So how was 1986 for you then?
Given that 2016 brings us as far away from that year as Heartbreak Hotel and the Suez crisis were, perhaps it’s time for reflection. It didn’t feel to me like a vintage year for the music at the time, and time hasn’t changed that opinion much, so why is that?
It seems like a year of transition, the decade’s summer holidays. The early 80s pop boom was winding down: Duran Duran, Frankie, Spandau and Culture Club had all seen their best days, but hip hop, house music and hair metal had yet to really make their breakthrough (although they were knocking at the door: Livin’ on a Prayer and Walk this Way both were hits this year).
It also seems to have been a year that a lot of acts that were in their prime at the time sat out. The list of bands who made albums in 1985 and 87 but not 86 is striking: U2, Simply Red, The Cure, The Sisters of Mercy, The Cult, all were touring/resting/drying out. The charts abhor a vacuum of course, and you wonder if bands like The Mission would have been as successful in 1986 » Continue Reading.
“Amazon and eBay are furious about this simple trick that allows you to put back a bottle of merlot without going online and buying that 18 CD Box Set”
“You won’t believe what these ex-girlfriends of 70s rock stars look like now they’ve grown up”
“5 Bruce Springsteen songs that prevent cancer”
“This man quit his job and now earns $200 a day trading old copies of Mojo using this algorithm”
“5 Bob Dylan albums that may be killing you”
I’ve just finished re-reading Needful Things by Stephen King. I first read it when it came out over 20 years ago, and I picked up a second hand copy last month, for $3.80, plus a harmless prank to be played on Lester Platt. Only joking, it was 8 Singapore Dollars.
I reckon I’ve read about 15 or so Stephen King books over the last 30 years or so. Most of those were read as a teenager interested in horror movies and records with devils on the cover, but I’ve never really lost touch completely with him, and I enjoyed the most recent one I read, Joyland (To be honest, I think I’ve enjoyed all the books of his I’ve read with the exception of The Dark Half, which I never really warmed to).
Needful Things was probably, along with Pet Semetary, my favourite of his books back in the day. Partly because the basic idea is a good one (Shop that sells your heart’s desire, at a price) but mainly I think because the book gives King plenty of scope to do what I think he likes the most: write about the people and secrets of small town Maine. You » Continue Reading.
No, this isn’t an Americana thread, I’m talking about music that you listen to when you want to relax, slow down the old pulse rate, and who knows, even have a snooze. Perhaps I’m getting old, perhaps I’m getting stressed, but I’m finding that I’m enjoying listening to stuff like Ambient Electronica and Thunderstorms (that is recordings of actual thunderstorms, not the NWOBHM band; they’re shite) when I need to relax or clear my thoughts.
For example, I really like Marconi Union. You may remember that they were in the news a couple of years back because the world’s top scientists and boffins had determined that their track “Weightless” was scientifically proven to be the optimum music to send you to sleep. I think it was to do with the frequencies and pulsed rhythms. Anyway, it’s great stuff. But i want to find some more. So what are your recommendations? Recordings of Appalachian rainfall? Balinese Gamelan music? The Cocteau Twins?
The video is an incredible tour of Los Angeles by camera drone made by filmmaker Ian Wood. Music is pretty good too. Enjoy.
The emergence of low cost camera drones in the last few years has generated some interesting footage. I’m guessing I’m not the only one here whose Facebook feed after Christmas featured videos posted by people playing with their new toys by flying them over their home town. A favourite of mine for when I get homesick is the Highland Aerial Views YouTube channel (link below) has some nice films of the far north of Scotland.
Highland Aerial Views: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAXRGQ107L2ENoihc5054Qw