In these dark times it’s never been more needed. It gets my son off his ipad, daughter off snapchat and all of us screamin laughing and generally enjoying every thrilling minute of Planet Earth II. I am not a nature doc type of person, but it’s just television of the very best order. Didn’t see I but like all sequels its got a bigger budget, there’s space marines and a glass office – ok maybe not the last two, but the HD camerawork from the microscopic to the epic is astonishing. The ‘breakout moment’ I believe they say was baby iguanas v snakes in the first episode. You can find versions on Youtube cut to Messi scoring, William Tell, boss scenes from video games and so on. I’ve included it in the comments, but there’s been several gob-smacking moments every episode – this week the see-through kung-fu kicking wasp attacking micro frog, the eagle fight in the mountains, leopard v crocodile, the crazy surfing penguins, the incredibly sad blind crabs – catch up right now if you haven’t. I’m imagining a version recut with Adam Curtis’ voiceover from Hypernormalization….
We’re settling into our the mid-eighties groove, trying to decide whether to buy on vinyl, cassette or a new super-shiny disc that’s compact. Here’s your selection of toppermost stories fro the NME – one in particular included as a night out at the Hacienda saw me spend most of it with my mouth open as Einsturzende Neubauten try to drill into the walls of the building. By way of complete contrast I saw Rush again at the NEC – the original concert at the Deeside Leisure Centre (if memory serves me right an ice rink otherwise) being postponed.
Usual rules apply, anything and everything from the year in question.
A. Compact future Hot on the heels of their video disc, Phillips are about to follow up with something just as exciting – the compact disc. The player costs between £400 and £500 = don’t panic, it will plug into your existing hi-if – thankfully the discs should cost little more than a plastic album. First commercial development of the CD was by Sony in Japan, where 2000 were snapped up in a matter of days. In spite of such sales figures, the largest British record company, EMI, has decided » Continue Reading.
We’re back baby. Back back back. Leaving Elvis in the army we journey across space and time and open the doors of the Aftertardis to find ourselves in….1982. The last splutterings of post-punk and disco are petering out, and the charts are firmly in the grip of the ‘Second British Invasion’ – the Spandaus, Durans, Culture Clubs, Human League, ABC etc. Metal, indie, Sunny Ade, reggae, britfunk and lots more to get stuck into. Usual Almanac rules – anything released in the year. I was 17 and so would have been seeing bands – from memory I would have seen possibly the Jam at Stafford Bingley Hall and New Order at Hanley Victoria Hall amongst others. I was also a card-carrying Hacienda member and spent some great nights with 50 other lost souls on ‘club nights’ dancing to Simple Minds and Bauhaus. They played cartoons on giant screens and for a time there was a cafe where you could get chips and beans. Ah the legend. As ever we kick off with some choice stories from NME’s The Rock and Roll Years.
Buy No More Records? Renting records could be the thing of the future if a new Japanese scheme » Continue Reading.
Year: 2016 Director: Adam Curtis
I’m guessing that Adam Curtis is a familiar name to many here, to some not so much – particularly as his work is now mainly seen on the BBC iplayer which those abroad may not be able to access. He’s a journalist and film-maker, who for the last two decades has been crafting a singular approach to documentary making. Curtis’ films are collages of archive clips from primarily the BBC News that explore a particular topic, anchored by Curtis’ own narrative voice and a kicking selection of background music. All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (2011) argued with a techno-optimist view, suggesting instead that technology has simplified and distorted our view of the world. Bitter Lake (2015) looked at how many Islamist terrorist groups have their origins in the nature of the alliance between the USA and Saudi Arabia; and now we have Hpernormalizion.
Hypernormalization starts in 1975 in New York – where the politicians have bankrupted the city and the financiers take over the running of government; in Syria – where Assad’s father, the first dictator, is trying to create a pan-Arab settlement for the middle East. Frustrated by the Americans’ support » Continue Reading.
It would be fair to say that U2 are not the most widely loved of bands here, and that even within those open to the charms of the One Hitmakers Rattle and Hum is not the most widely loved of their work. I’ve recently struggled through it again and boy is it awful, some of the worst cover versions – All Along the Watchtower, Helter Skelter – possible. It’s peak Bono with the preaching, sanctimoniousness and unloveable bluster…there’s so much to dislike about this album. But yet. Hidden amongst the classic rock audition numbers is Heartland. It’s quite subdued, has that fragile and shivery Edge loveliness, Bono singing and not preaching, and sense of space that made Boy so appealing, in fact tone down the production a bit and you could imagine it from that album. You may or may not agree, but please let’s have your hidden jewels within albums (thinking Live It Up aka ‘Moon Sausage’, Chinese Democracy, the Durans cover album, or Love Beach here for example) that are universally reviled.
So here we are, four weeks in. Seems to be going quite well so far, though it will be interesting to see what effect our first quantum jump has on the thread. I’m planning on a week’s pause to allow the flux capacitor to recharge, and then we’ll see where the controls land us. This week we bid, as mooted last time, farewell to the rock and roll era as Elvis heads for military service. Terry Dene, the subject of a story beneath, was hit with the same call-up for National Service in 1958 too. Did Cliff, Billy Fury or any of the other early Brit rock and rollers have to turn up at Catterick or Salisbury for a short back and sides? There’s a definite feel of ‘second wavers’ to the rock and roll scene, headed over here by Cliff and over there by Eddie Cochran. As ever, we open with some of the best stories from the NME Rock and Roll Years tome, and open the Almanac to receive entries of any hue from 1958.
Stereo. the coming thing? The New York R and B label, Atlantic, have purchased new equipment which will put them in the forefront » Continue Reading.
Before we get into Year Three proper let’s clear up the way forwards. I think some sort of hive mind consensus is emerging from the various comments on chronological vs random. Taking a chunk of 3-5 years seems to offer some coherence so, for example, we can track musical movements like rock and roll or punk. Then zipping around to a different era should keep things fresh and draw in contributors itching to let fly on the heyday of glam or acid house. So I’m proposing this chunk (technical term) has a fairly clear endpoint. Elvis joining the army for a two-year hiatus in March 1958 put the endcap on the first explosive era of Rock and Roll. Yes, King Creole and various recordings were in the can, but the Elvis of 1960 re-emerged fully tamed by Colonel Parker and well on the way to being a family entertainer. So we’ll do 1957 and 1958, bid the King farewell at Fort Hood and then jump into the Aftertardis and set the controls for the heart of….somewhere.
Back to 1957, the year of Jerry Lee Lewis,
BBC Wooing Teenagers with Extra-Hour TV show The BBC are making an all-out » Continue Reading.
The Trump Book Report is trending all over the shop which describes various works of literature in the style of the Donald. You know where this is going, #trumpalbumreport please – loosely around 140 characters.
Lovely Rita. In 10 years I’m gonna be dating her – and not when she’s 64 know what I’m saying. I made it with only #alittlehelpfrommydad. Hillary had 30 years to fix those holes. #letsmakeBlackburngreatagain.
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.