Everybody’s talking About those Early Roman Kings.
It’s that difficult second year time already at the Afterword Almanac and after much debate – ok 2 for chronological, one for random – it seems we’re sticking with the narrative approach for the time being. So without further do let’s usher in, via the NME Rock and Roll Years, the annus Rock and Roll Mirabilis that is 1956. As with last time post music or pretty well anything you like from the year that saw 2″ quadriplex, the world’s first videotape, unveiled and in Lugano the first ever European Song Contest is held, won by Switzerland.
Presley and Perkins set America rocking! Almost fixtures in the top 20, Pat Boone and Bill Haley have been joined by two new names. The first is Elvis Presley, in whom RCA have invested heavily. Described as a ‘wild and turbulent rock and roller’ , Presley has crashed the charts with his very first single for the label, Heartbreak Hotel. Reactions to his brash new style have been mixed, but one things for sure, he’s a solid hit with the American teenagers, especially those of the female persuasion. He hails from Memphis, Tennessee and has been described as slinky and ark, rather » Continue Reading.
Year: 2013 Director: Lukas Moodysson
Many of the films that convey the essence of making music aren’t actually biopics or documentaries. Joining The Commitments, Whiplash at the top of the tree is this Swedish film from Eurofilm bad boy Lukas Moodysson. Moodysson’s most famous for two extremely depressing films – Lilya 4 Ever and A Hole In My Heart. The latter, which I have seen, is deeply unpleasant and audience-baiting. The clue to the joy that is We Are The Best! lies in his earlier film Together, in which he looks at life in a commune in seventies Sweden with sympathy and humour. Music is well used, and there are some terrific unsentimental and natural performances in Together from the children who have to bear the consequences of their parents lifestyle choices. We Are The Best moves forward ten years to Stockholm of the early eighties. Two teenage girls, Bobo and Klara, take their boredom, their desire to wind up their parents, and political views and decide to mix all this together into forming a punk band. They’ve no idea how to play music – brilliant- and their one song is about how school sports lessons are no answer to » Continue Reading.
Its been a while since we had a big project here at Afterword towers. Before the great outage we had a long-running series of threads travelling the world a country at a time through music (or did I imagine that?). More recently there’s been a great one about all things starting with a letter of the alphabet. I kind of miss those, and as far as I can remember we’ve never had a chronological thread.
So here’s the deal. Dead simple. We start at 1955 and work our way forwards with a new year every week. Why 1955? Because this idea started when I was idly looking at a fantastic book long since out of print – The NME Rock and Roll Years (spoiler, it ends in 1991, but hopefully we’ll be able to do without it by then), which starts then and uses the NME archives to tell ‘the story of rock n roll in the form of the news articles of the period’ . A quick check reveals its on Amazon at a penny. I’ll dig out a few choice facts from the book to kick us off and get those collective musical synapses firing . What » Continue Reading.
He may not score highly in the indie/folk/prog/electro stakes but no question that Rod Temperton is worthy of a passing note upon his passing. From Cleethorpes (fantastic – I have a vision of him explaining to Michael Jackson how everyone confuses Grimsby and Cleethorpes) he was keyboards and the songwriter behind Heatwave’s ‘massive hits’ Boogie Nights, Always and Forever and The Groove Line. This caught the attention of Quincy Jones, who asked him if he fancied writing some songs for a Motown ex-boy band member’s first solo lp… Off The Wall – Off The Wall, Rock With You, Burn this Disco Out Thriller – Thriller and 2 other songs Quincy Jones – The Dude, Razzamatazz, Back on the Block George Benson – Love x Love, Give Me The Night Donna Summer – Love Is In Control Brothers Johnson – Stomp Michael Macdonald – Sweet Freedom Michael Macdonald and James Ingram – Yah Mo B There
Not a bad greatest hits album. I’m guessing – as Thriller still sells 100,000 copies a year – he was never short of a bob or two again. I’m quite partial to a bit of pop funk disco from the Brothers….
Seems like the much-rumoured live album is a definite thing, with the release of the first track on Souncloud (in the link). No news on the DVD.
Platform:Playstation Age Rating:7+ Year of Release:2016 Review:
A small portion of the Internet has been on fire over the past couple of months, and only now are the flames dying down so we can see what’s lost and what’s been saved. Seldom has a new game received so much pre-release hype as No Man’s Sky, and seldom has a game received so much abuse on its release.
For those who are going No Man’s what here’s a brief recap. Tiny indie games studio Hello debut footage of a space-opera exploration game promising a near-infinite universe to explore with ‘ten quintillion’ planets. The footage – pure Chris Foss 70s cover paintings made digital Magic – and the proposition of being able to explore fully realised alien worlds no-one has seen before, makes the gaming world explode. Sony give the game the full 110% build up and for two years it’s the most anticipated game in development. In the weeks leading up to the delayed release word starts to spread that the game’s initial release may not contain all the features discussed during development.
So on release Reddit becomes the home of a hate-fest populated by videos of angry gamers comparing the » Continue Reading.
In the recent welcome post for @pawsforthought there lurked a suggestion that few bands are as disliked on this site as The Rolling Stones. Even mentioned in the same breath as Simply Red and U2 they were (Yoda – where did that come from?). That can’t be right, I thought. I mean I know they’ve done basically **** all for the last 35/40 years worth listening to. They seem to be motivated in recent decades by the desire to wring every last cent out of their own catalogue with the least effort possible, but come on. It’s still The Stones. @tiggerlion even recently ran a very active thread on their post-1980 output.
So how much/how little love for the Stones is there on the site? I’ll kick off with five things I love about them
A proper imperial period album run from Aftermath through to Exile – taking a positive view of Satanic Majesties.. along the way.
Peerless sixties single run all the way up to Honky Tonk Woman.
Great musicians – Keith and Charlie absolutely, the sober Bryan, Bill?
A great live act from at least the mid-sixties for a decade
Those things » Continue Reading.
I don’t know about you but much as I love the Starman TOTP clip I’ve probably seen it enough. The Beeb have run some many ‘Death metal at the BBC’ type shows that there are very few stones left un-turned. ITV? Now that’s another story. Pop Gold is a bog standard clips and captions show, but as it’s on ITV we’re enjoying a whole other nostalgia ride exploring seventies music TV. This week’s has had The 3 Degrees on the Wheeltappers and Shunters, Alex Harvey, the Russell Harty show, the Frost Report, Supersonic, Alright Now (with a cracking live Sultans of Swing) – and the jewel in the crown the Bowie Heroes performance from the Marc Bolan Show.. The whole backing track has been rerecorded to feature Marc on guitar inter alia. I’ve posted that here, but I can recommend it as much for the shows as the music – the Three Degrees play to a thoroughly bemused audience of flat caps and beehives.
Year: 1975 Director: Stanley Kubrick
There are many films vying for the title of lost masterpiece. Barry Lyndon, if not that, is certainly the odd one out of the Kubrick oeuvre, passed even by Eyes Wide Shut until this year’s new print and re-release, which we were fortunate enough to see on a big cinema screen. And if you can get to a screening you should. The description of the cinematography used most frequently is like a Constable painting come to life. And this is true, but one could also think of Joseph Wright of Derby and even Caravaggio in the candlelit interior scenes. Every shot is framed like a painting, and the exterior scenes achieve a naturalism I’ve seen in very few other historical dramas. It’s georgeous throughout, from the early scenes in rural Ireland to the stately home of Lyndon’s final rise (and fall). Kubrick brings the same extra-ordinary visual flair to the costume drama as he does to sci-fi – a clarity that makes one feel that one is watching a documentary even though the head is marvelling at the artifice. The story is derived from an nineteenth-century novel The Luck of Barry Lyndon and as with » Continue Reading.
moseleymoles on Dublin
Our long weekend in Dublin turned into something of a crowd-sourced mission. Advice was received from many contributors here as well as two ‘well-placed local sources’ live during the trip itself. So by way of a favour returned here’s a summary with our top five at the bottom.
We arrived from a very early flight from Birmingham to discover our apartment would not be ready until four. After some waffle refuelling and our first encounter with The Spire (more later on this) we started at the beginning – prehistoric Ireland in the National Museum of Ireland. The Museum is on several sites and this bit is the Archeological museum. It’s refreshingly free of VR and immersive experiences – just a load of amazing stuff in cases. There are three unmissable items – the aforementioned bog people, who are astonishing, a huge log canoe and a set of golden jewellery. All step straight of prehistory and sock you between the eyes.
Next door nearly to the Museum is the National Galley, undergoing a massive refurbishment – so while we could admire the ingenious modern architecture joining older buildings together to create a vast atrium, there were only samples » Continue Reading.
Hare and Hounds
What a joy to be able to walk down the road to see a band, and be back in time for Newsnight. On the hottest night of the year four of us joined the two hundred odd packed into the H and H upstairs for Chicago’s hottest new Pitchforkers, Whitney.
How Afterword friendly are they? Just about 100%. Think of a Venn diagram with The Band, Vampire Weekend ,and 70s country-rock and Whitney sit proudly in the middle. They line-up six strong, including frontman/singer/drummer (ace mike stand like a curved standard lamp), and trumpet alongside the guitars and keyboards. The trumpet does a huge amount of work in crafting a distinctive sound that lifts them above standard Americana. They have definitely all been to college, some may have studied maths.
They gave us a short but very sweet set drawn from their debut LP, no encore and a feeling that that was just about perfect. No extended jams, but the confidence to play around with a few stops and starts to show how tight they are. I’m reminded of The National in their all-round quality and musicianship, and rapport with the audience. » Continue Reading.
Year: 2016 Director: Justin Lin
What’s reasonable to expect from a summer blockbuster? That’s the question that Star Trek Beyond (terrible title) asks. No-one’s asking for a life-changing cinematic experience. I’m guessing that no-one from Suicide Squad, STB or Bourne are going to trouble the acting and directing Oscar nominations. They’re virtually critic proof these things (see Suicide Squad’s abysmal reviews and solid numbers). Firstly, does it provide an entertaining couple of hours. No question that STB delivers. The interplay between Urban, Pine and Quinto is mellowing into a very likeable trio number. Put any two in a scene and there’s something to listen to as well as watch (whereas Bourne is a virtually silent movie experience, 258 words and all). Secondly,can we see where the money went? UNquestionably. It’s not just about blowing things up. Though there’s plenty of that. The 360 Simcity in spaces, Yorktown, is gobsmackingly beautiful, a fragile and vast snow globe with millions of people inside. Chief villain Idris Elba’s fleet is a twisting, turning school of fish that in its ultimate manifestation becomes a gigantic tube wave rolling like a Big One off Hawaii. Thirdly, does it respect the franchise? There’s some very neat » Continue Reading.
We are off later this week for a long weekend in Dublin, with two teenagers. Booked into Once the Musical (either that or Riverdance or a depressing play at the Abbey), and Kilmainham Gaol Tour, and will do Dalkey Castle, Phoenix Park and IMMA. We have some local intelligence which has given us a great set of coffee shops. We could use some Massive information for a daytime early/ev pub to take them into and go ‘this is Guinness’, we’d like to know where to get the best pint. And any other quirky things to see/do that might not be on our radar.
Platform:Playstation Age Rating:18+ Year of Release:2015 Review:
Before us gamers all lose weeks of our lives trailing round the galaxy discovering new planets and naming them Asscrackius here’s a look at a very different ‘open world’ game. No Man’s Sky has rather redrawn the map of what constitutes an open world: making the miles of open country in MGSV with missions dotted around in it look not so open. Nothing is procedurally generated here, everything has been placed with care and attention to detail by one of gaming’s auteurs, Hideo Kojima. Rather than an indie upstart, Metal Gear is gaming royalty. I’ve been onboard since MGS for the original PlayStation and count it as one of the three games, along with Doom and Final Fantasy VII, that sucked me into console gaming. MGS3 and MGS4 I also loved, though failed to finish the latter and thus missed the hour-long cut scene that concludes it. All are characterised by a labyrinthine plot worthy of Games of Thrones involving special forces, Cold War double-crossing, secret cloning and genetic engineering programmes, and shadow armies involved in vast decades-long conspiracies.
MGS, if not originating, has perfected the ‘sneak-em-up’ genre in which it’s possible » Continue Reading.
@bargepole’s post had me thinking not of that unmissable opportunity to review post-progressive sounds. But instead the triumphant return of Friday Night Dinner. This is a slow-burn comedy that has crept up to its fourth series without say the fanfare of Peepshow but is becoming every bit as reliable in delivering 30 mins of top-quality laughs.
The first episode of the new series sees all the FND elements present and correct: a catastrophic cock-up by Dad (‘shit on it’), Grandma behaving badly, withering looks by Mum every 30 seconds, the boys winding each other up continually and a dinner guest who gets the wrong end of every stick. And a pineapple.
Absolutely loved round our house.
The two most romantic stories in art are surely the Young Gun(s) from Nowhere Change Everything With their Debut; and the Late Vintage: or the Gang Get It Together, Despite all they’ve /he’s/she’s been through, for One Last Time.
From Shakespeare’s Late Plays to Kurosawa’s Ran and Matisse’s cut-outs there’s been a poignancy and mystique attached to final works that seem to possess a simplicity and clarity that can only have been achieved after a substantial creative career. Often they allude or overtly deal with the vexed problem of Leaving The Stage, age and mortality – or conversely are a joyous celebration of what made them so Insanely Great in the first place.
The Beatles, as in so many other ways, set the rock template here with Abbey Road – when they asked George Martin to make one last record with them ‘the way we used to do it’ after the mess of the Let It Be sessions and the experimentalism of The White Album. David Bowie of course made what might be the most astonishing Late Vintage albums ever with The Next Day and Blackstar.
I’ve recently been listening to the last two Sonic Youth albums, Rather Ripped » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
They’re pretty enfant terrible aren’t they the Fat Whites? That name, the Nazi and serial-killer referencing song titles – Goodbye Goebbels, Lebensraum, Duce, When Shipman Decides. Well-documented drug abuse and general bad behaviour. ‘Controversial videos’. It’s almost like they don’t need to actually write any music. But here’s Songs for Your Mother with ten tracks of proper music stuff that The Quietus really liked.
So will it send us running and screaming to the hills? Not really – opener Whitest Boy on the Beach hits a nice krautrock rhythm, and as a whole the musical world is squarely that of early eighties industrial: Foetus, early Nick Cave, Pyschic TV and some bizzarro. The vocals are on the whole buried deep in the mix and the production seems to opt for the ‘its ironic right – we’re using crap instruments and the Casio drum machine on its most Bontempi setting’ a la Art Brut, Denim and so on. If one figure hovers over it all its that of early Mark E Smith – the spacy, mystical MES of Witch Trials, Dragnet and Elastic Man. They have a track called I am Mark E Smith. Well » Continue Reading.
It’s a classic tech ATM post here. I have to look after our website at work built on WordPress. As part of a recent chat with a proper web designer the importance of having a good-looking and clear landing page was impressed on me. Not a ‘sign up for’ style landing page, but one which can point the visitor to news, events etc.
The rest of the site was judged ok, so don’t want to tear it down and start again, or use a new theme if possible. No current theme doesn’t have a landing page function as such.
Can anyone recommend a good landing pages plug-in? Preferably free as we don’t have a budget for this kind of stuff, if not then something in the £10/20 range.
The only one I’ve really liked in trawling through the ‘5 landing page plugins to supercharge your site’ lists is this one – but I’m not 100% convinced by the support, updating etc so alternatives if you use one very welcome.
What does it sound like?:
Minimal techno often brings to mind the chilly and precise sounds of The Field or Kompact. But in Gold Panda’s fourth album it’s something sunny and organic. The last track sums up this dual approach perfectly: Your Good Times melds a kick rhythm, a keyboard motif out of Philip Glass and a trumpet sample to create something simple and gorgeous.
If there’s a common theme to Good Luck and Do Your Best it’s a subtle exploration of sounds and textures inspired by a visit to Japan. Gongs, bells and plucked instruments add to the kind of soundscapes familiar from Four Tet or Caribou. The tempo is, for the most part, languid. These are beats for watching the sun go down rather than hitting the floor with – a cert for the ‘Chilled Beats’ sort of compilation.
Vocals are almost entirely absent, and when they are there there’re sampled and looped. Instrumental albums can drag, but this is a sharp and focused set of tracks, none of which outstay their welcome. The one track which feels underdeveloped is been and gone in under three minutes, and its repetitions are ones where change slowly unfolds rather » Continue Reading.
The Guardian has details this morning of unreleased 1974 soul and funk lp The Gouster that became Young Americans coming in the next box set of reissues:
A previously unreleased David Bowie album is set to be released. The Gouster, recorded in 1974, was Bowie’s experiment in soul and funk, which later morphed into Young Americans, released in 1975. It will appear later this year in a box set, Who Can I Be Now? (1974-1976).
Below the line is an entertaining commentary on cash-ins/its not unreleased/was on the 1991 CD reissues/there’s real unreleased stuff not included still
I saw at a friends The Beat My Heart Skipped recently. It’s a French film starring Romain Duris, a big star in France but pretty unknown more widely. He plays a property gangster, part of a gang who buy up freeholds, evict tenants through menace and violence, then by obtaining building permits through bribery and sell on the property for big profits. He stalks the streets of Paris walkman on, leather jacket done up, cigarette in hand, as a quintessentially French stylish violent hardman. Yet – and what a big yet – a chance meeting re-ignites his childhood passion for the classical piano. The plot of the film revolves in no small part around his attempts to pass an audition and be taken on as a concert pianist by a leading manager. This is played completely straight, not a hint of irony or bathos. (see the clip which sees him lay into his Vietnamese piano tutor with frightening intensity)
Now imagine the same plot with a British actor. Ralph Fiennes, Benedict Cumberbatch could do the tortured would-be maestro. No shortage of heavies and hard men. Tom Hardy, Tom Hiddleston to name but two. But the same actor? Only a French » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
Calling your album Puberty 2, and starting the first song with these lines:
Happy came to visit me, he bought cookies on the way, I poured him tea and he told me it’ll all be okay Well I told him I’d do anything to have him stay with me So he laid me down, and I felt happy come inside of me
Is a pretty clear statement of intent.
Mitski (this is her fourth album, but the other three I am unaware of) is setting out a frank discussion of the emotional, physical and financial issues around the quarter-life crisis (the ‘Puberty 2’) of a Brooklyn singer-songwriter. Over eleven disarmingly frank tracks clocking in at barely thirty minutes she dissects her desire to travel the world, her penchant for loser dogs, her struggles to pay the rent, pass job interviews and her relationships with one-night stands, partners, friends, and parents.
This emotional baring is set against a soundscape which offers surprise and depth to the lyrical content. She has a rich and resonant voice which at times takes on the deadpan drop-deadness of April from Parks and Rec, at times is much more » Continue Reading.
Year: 1971 Director: Peter Bogdanovich
We’re not the Guardian on a Friday or Pitchfork are we. As reviewers our job appears to be threefold: to point our colleagues at new stuff of interest, to warn people off the bad stuff (son – 13- came back from ID Resurgence saying it dragged a bit – he’s the target audience so nothing to see there), and with the old stuff share our passions about jewels that may be lying in the grass.
So The Last Picture Show. Made in 1971 by the then-unknown Peter Bogdanovich and featuring the then also-unknowns Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd and Tim Bottoms. I first watched this in my twenties – drawn in by its name which crops up in every list of great movies- and its lack of upbeat action and visuals caused it to pass me by. Twenty years later I’ve just watched it again and can declare it to be an absolute masterpiece. So I’m sharing it here.
It shares DNA with the American coming-of-age movie: most clearly American Graffiti and Rebel Without A Cause. The former’s critique of the American dream is barely there behind the cool cars and music, the latter’s casts the » Continue Reading.
As your occasional tennis correspondent we can’t let today pass without recording the achievement of Andy Murray. While not being as extraordinary as his first, this surely puts the seal on a stellar carer in which he has made the very most of his talents. To win three slams in the era of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer is more than anyone else has managed.
He coped with the favourite tag really well. That brings its own sort of pressure. Raonic didn’t play at all badly – losing just one break of serve, but Murray showed some pretty incredible focus in the two tie breaks which decided the match. Unlike Federer in the semi, Murray kept his own serve up and was able to not let Raonic exert the pressure of his nuclear serve under which Federer succumbed so badly in the fifth.
It wasn’t a classic match, going as did almost completely with serve. What stood out was Murray’s amazing resilience, running and ability from way out wide or behind the base line not just to keep the ball in, but to return with speed and angle that were too much for Raonic. As much son would say, Athleti » Continue Reading.