Monday, July 30, 2007

Animals and Men 'Driving Stupid'

Here's us rehearsing at the Handsome Llama the song 'Driving Stupid' which will be part of an ep which we're going to release on vinyl soon. We've got our new member Rachel Macleay on electric violin and bassist Paul Boswell who coincidentally painted the mural behind Geoff.

'Flashing Blades' title sequence

How many of you remember this theme song from this French-dubbed-into-English TV show from 1969? I loved this series and this song in particular - I'd love to do a version of it - have to have Mark E Smith singing it though. What was the series all about? The war between France and Spain in 1630 presumably - it was a great swashbuckler though I don't remember much in the actual show that really matched up to these epic images at the beginning. If you haven't watched the series check out this sequence - when TV was actually good...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Malcolm McLaren 'Deep in Vogue'

The 1989 Waltz Darling album has made a return to the decks chez nous recently - we used to play it a lot back in the late 80s when it came out and we dug it out to see if it was as good as we remembered and it was. It mixes the Bootzilla orchestra with Viennese Waltzes and is a great summery record. This track 'Deep In Vogue' sounds like it was the inspiration for Madonna's awful 'Vogue' - watch this video and see if you prefer Talcy Malcy's take on Vogueing...we do! The album Fans, which mixed rap with Opera, was also a great LP. Check out the wiki on this great British pop alchemist. Sad to see him on the latest ITV reality show the Baron... where 3rd rate celebrities stay in a remote Scottish village in an attempt to get elected 'Baron'. To save you the trouble of watching it apparently McLaren angers the locals, says 'God is a sausage' and gets thumped and leaves...coming soon - can you wait? Watch the embarassing run up to the scene here

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Boudicca rides again, and again and again

'Who's that then' asked Geoff as we passed the statue of Boudicca on our last trip to London - so I filled him in. She was a British queen who led an almost successsful rebellion against Rome. Actually this fine art nouveau statue by Thorneycroft was actually cast in Frome so I am always happy to talk about this warrior woman, also partly because I have done a tv programme (Warrior Women) on the subject and I have always considered that it should really be given the epic treatment. Now I discover Mel Gibson is producing a movie Warrior directed by Gavin O'Connor about this lady - the movie already being called 'Braveheart in a bra'. I'm more optimistic - in an interview here the writers seem to have done their research. Out in 2008. Looking further into it I discover there are no less than 4 works in production on this lady - a DreamWorks project called Queen Fury (writer Walon Green), Paramount's Warrior Queen and another called My Country by Martha Little.
Actually Hammer did an awful film in the mid 60s 'The Viking Queen' based on the Iceni leader. Not sure who's playing her in these latest movies? I think she is documented as having red hair.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Deserter (2003)

As a fan of the Revolutionary War I am a little bit shocked I havent heard of this movie before. It's a silent comedy by Eric Bruno Bergman.
Official site and buy it here
The blurb says
The Deserter, a 75 minute film, is about a British Revolutionary War drummer who accidently deserts from his regiment and is hunted down for execution.Years in the making, Borgman carefully tried to make the battle scenes as realistic as possible. Hundreds of extras were used to create a major engagement of the American Revolution."Although the film is ostensibly a comedy, the battle scenes were shot seriously," said Borgman. Being influenced by Laurel and Hardy and Buster Keaton, Borgman uses the elements of silent comedy to tell his story, using the great music of Rick Benjamin's Paragon Ragtime Orchestra to help the comedy along.The Deserter has the largest battle scenes, on American soil, in a silent comedy, since Buster Keaton's The General!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

They fought for their Motherland

More epic Russian cinema from the great Bondarchuk, this time set in 1942.

Shangri-Las 'Out in the Streets'

The greatest girl group of all time. I was going to post my top ten historical films and saw this instead. 'He don't hang around with the gang no more'. Brilliant.

War And Peace (1968)

You may recognise this clip from an 80s beer advert - it was redubbed to have them singing an amusing lyric about wearing a silly hat. Anyway...I got the dvd of this the other day to reeplace my old VHS set and I can honestly say that it is the greatest historical film ever made. It has elements that remind me of silent cinema in particular epic films like Abel Gance's Napoleon. It's so not Hollywood. In a good way. My son just remarked that it doesn't have the 60s 'look' like say Richardson's 'Charge of the Light Brigade' released the same year but instead War and Peace really looks like a historical painting brought to life. With the power of the state providing the 150,000 plus extras this is cinema that will never be done again - never more will epics be made on this scale - with digital effects you can get away with about 100 extras step and repeated to use an old print term. So if you are one of these people with a huge flat screen tv or something similar and you want something to do it justice invest in this dvd - you screen will never see its like again.War and Peace Series of films showing the production being made with the Red Army etc

Monday, July 23, 2007

Tales from Earthsea

A new animation from Studio Ghibli is always worth celebrating. This one looks interesting.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Utopia Experiment

Susan is fascinated by the weather. She is also interested in the future - whereas I am firmly rooted in the past. There is a sense of necessity in preparing for the future and so this Utopia Experiment by the interesting Dr Dylan Evans is right up her street. 'The utopia experiment is 'an attempt to figure out how life in Britain will be affected by climate change and the end of cheap oil during the next few decades'. The site is well worth a look as it contains an interesting future scenario with a solution that we all live in yurts. I like that idea. Article from the Independent Technology has made life easier not happier

Adam to do London show

ADAM ANT is to play an acoustic set in London to launch the publication of the paperback edition of his autobiography 'Stand & Deliver'. The set will be punctuated by him reading extracts from the book and will take place on September 24th at the Bloomsbury Theatre.

Hot Fuzz almost got filmed in Frome

If you think some of the weirdness is a bit familiar the Wiki on Hot Fuzz states that Simon Pegg commented "We're both from the West Country so it just seemed like it was the perfect and logical thing to drag those kind of ideas and those genres and those clichés back to our beginnings to where we grew up, so you could see high-octane balls-to-the-wall action in Frome". WOW...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Hot Fuzz

I finally got round to watching this cop comedy now out on DVD starring Simon Pegg and a host of new comic talent, including comedy favourites like Steve Coogan Adam Buxton as well as Paddy Considine and Jim Broadbent. Set in the fictitious West Country village of Sandford it's actually filmed in Wells, a place just up the road so that was probably the root of my trepidation - would the jokes about rural people be a bit offensive? But no - it was genuinely funny and pretty accurate - a lot of the accents were well done and the local flavour pretty spot on. The soundtrack is pretty good too. So if you live in the US and you haven't seen this - track it down - its made by the Shaun of the Dead team - and its West Country life to a tee. Apart from the guns perhaps...

The demise of the record shop?

A couple of weeks ago, Fopp the chain of music, books and dvd retailers closed their doors and news recently suggest that HMV is considering buying the brand and about 50 pc of the stores where that compliments their portfolio of stores (source) - which means probably a further nail in the coffin of the concept of a record shop offering a range of music in order to tempt the buyer to take a walk on the musical wild side. What a shame, but downloading has now become by far the easiest way to get music taking about an hour to find any particular song however obscure. I can't remember the last time I went into a store with the idea of buying something - why would you? The record shop had become so bland it wasn't a pleasant experience. Unfortunately there was a social element with buying a product in the old days which will disappear - I met quite a few people while mulling over the racks in decent record shops. What does the future hold? Obviously in places like London there will be decent stores like Rough Trade who seem to have got the formula right (see below) but out here in the wilderness are we no longer going to have places for buying music? Maybe the future will have a coffee shop and a computer where they play music and upload it to your mp3 player if you like it. It would be a shame to think that people who like music will have nowhere to hang out during the day and browse sounds.
News story about Rough Trade opening new premises in London fighting the 'downturn'

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Pure Pwnage

My son went up to London to see the launch of the next series of this hilarious internet comedy phenomenon all about 'pwning noobs'. He got mugged and saw Vanessa Feltz (unconnected incidents) but seeing Jeremy and Kyle from this cult hit was enough to make it worth his while. Watch all the episodes on the website. I am apparently a bit like FPS Doug - he is certainly my favourite character. Oh well back to RL...

World War One FPS?

If you have got bored with Thompsons and MP-40s and fancy going all old-school maybe this title announced recently 'To End All Wars' oot next summer, will be more your cup of tea. 'Set in the war-torn trenches of World War I Europe, “To End All Wars” will deliver unrivalled atmosphere and realism, bringing the mud strewn horror of this most desperate of conflicts to the PlayStation®3 and Xbox 360TM formats using Epic’s Unreal® Engine 3 technology.' Ghostlight site
There's also The Trenches, a Half-Life modification if that's your bag. Looks interesting. We've now had American Civil War - what's next The Alamo? If you don't know what an FPS is then look here.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee

There's a tv commercial on rotation at the moment with this great duo doing I think this song 'Hootin' the Blues' the clip and see if you recognise it. Sonny Terry's style is quite individual and very easy on the ear and seems quite a different animal than a lot of harp players in the r'n'b idiom. They were quite an influence on the skiffle scene in this country. Watch him play it with Pete Seeger here

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Stones 'World's Greatest Skiffle Band'?

Whilst looking at Stones clips I found this one of them doing their take on Buddy Holly doing Bo Diddley. It's a strange chuggy sounding record - rather like Manfred Mann's 5-4-3-2-1 - not really Blues based but more of an electricised skiffle sound - what do you think? skiffle wiki

2000 Light Years From Home Promo

On the whole I don't like British psychedelic music - it is mostly twee rubbish but I like this piece of hokum by the Stones and I had a yearning for some genuine Stones after the so-so Brian Jones biopic. This song introduced to me by our old bassist Dave is the basis for most of Primal Scream's best songs and is a brilliant piece of garage rock and roll, apparently written while Jagger was in jail. Apparently wasnt meant to be released until BJ added mellotron to it. I would quite enjoy trying to cover this - it's a classic! lyrics here

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Rock Biopics

I have a love-hate relationship with rock biopics. I hate them though I still watch them so it is a kind of self-imposed torture. Today I watched 'Stoned', the film by Stephen Woolley on the life and death of Brian Jones. There were lots of anachronisms and musically it was pretty lame - no actual Stones music and what was there was pretty inappropriate (though there was a smattering of Robert Johnson they failed to connect the fact they were both members of the 27 club) but I carried on watching it as I like seeing history being served up as entertainment and titillation. So what makes a good rock biopic? Recently we have had a Ray Charles pic getting critical appraisal - also Oliver Stone's The Doors getting more than its fair share of good reviews. Bad biopics go straight onto daytime tv - like 'Daydream Believer' the Monkees story - or the Karen Carpenter Story (now up on tv links). My personal favourites include 'And the Beat Goes On; the Sonny and Cher story' and of course the Beach Boys one on the other day. They usually have a cheesey subtitle - just off the top of my head something like 'Purple Haze; the Jimi Hendrix story' - actually I am gobsmacked noone's done that one. The one I hate most is 'Tina; What's Love got to do with it' - as an Ike Turner fan I feel completely let down by that film.
If I ever get the money I will do a rock biopic - who needs doing? Maybe there needs to be some discussion on the subject - someone, preferably dead would do - if the music is readily available even better - how about the 'Something Else' the Eddie Cochran story? They usually start at the end and work backwards so Scene 1 Bristol Hippodrome - EC gets into a taxi - 'C'mon Gene get in - I want to get to London fast''but the weather Eddie..and these English roads...' - the rest you can imagine. How about 'London Calling - the Clash story'? 'Stone the crows guv - them 101ers are far out'. Feel free to suggest suitable stories and titles. How about this one, my last word on the subject '20th century boy...the Marc Bolan story....''C'mon Grace you drive, I feel like I am going to live forever'
List of Biopics

Quiet flows the Don

This epic about Cossacks around the time of the Great War, Revolution and Russian Civil War was Bondarchuk's last project being posthumously finished by his son .A good deal of controversy surrounded this film which some of which surrounded the casting of Rupert Everett delayed its release by 15 years...I think from the photography on this clip which shows cossack cavalry charge entrenched Austrian artillery and machine guns it looks well worth tracking down. Another clip here

Bad Detectives on the radio

I really enjoyed this show on Frome FM - some great songs I'd never heard before and some relaxed chit-chat from the band. A web-cam allows you to watch them age before your very eyes. Surprisingly comforting to hear Ivan and co's voices on my computer... It's on from 10-11.30pm each night this week - log in online and give them a shock by sending them a text from somewhere distant. If you miss it you can always download it to listen to at leisure and maybe try and copy the Frome accent.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Great Mickey and Sylvia debate

We're having a debate chez nous as to whether Mickey and Sylvia were any good - were they just rehashing the same ideas and are they too cheesey for modern tastes? We all know and love 'Love Is Strange' but are the rest worth recommending? I like them but I also have a taste for things that are kitsch.... When they do the ' Oh Mickey? Yes Sylvia' thing for the umpteenth time do you feel nauseous or does it give you a fuzzy feeling? Listen to these song samples on Amazon and tell us - Are Mickey and Sylvia something other than a novelty to modern ears? Photo and label shots of M&S here

Bad Detectives on the radio!

All this week as part of the Frome festival from 10-11.30pm the BDs are presenting their own show 'Cutting Edge' on Frome FM... listen online, text in and and see if you can understand the local Somerset accent.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

War and Peace (Voyna i mir 1968) Battle Scene and the Kubrick connection

I was talking about this spectacular Russian epic by the great Sergei Bondarchuk the other day - apparently Kubrick was all set to make his own epic movie about Napoleon but because of this movie becoming available in the West and the poor box office that Waterloo ( almost W&P's sequel) had received, made Barry Lyndon instead, set 50 years earlier. But the Kubrick script is available to read online so you can imagine what it would have been. He talked about the precision of the troops on the battlefield and this clip kind of shows you what I think he would have had in mind. I can see the influence of this clip in the battle scene in Barry Lyndon but then there is also something of Spartacus in War and Peace so all's square in love and war pictures. Certainly I recommend you all to watch this - it shows the power of the fife and drum in the battlefields of the era well and it really captures the essence of Napoleonic warfare - in ways that the dreadful Sharpe never did - so make my day and watch it. It is supposed to be the battle of Schongraben. Interestingly Barry Lyndon influenced the Duellists which was a Napoleonic film of note but avoided the huge set piece battle scenes in favour of inn scenes and misty landscapes. Clip here War and Peace is only something like 8 hours long - none of your digital rubbish either - they are all real extras ... 120,000 of them for Borodino alone. Probably the most expensive film ever made - without the markets that Hollywood had too how much did it expect to make? Sort of the filmic equivalent of the space race - outdoing Hollywood. Maybe you can rent it from Amazon? Sad to see that Waterloo was originally planned to have Burton and O'Toole in the main roles of Napoleon and Wellington but their schedule wouldn't coincide. Clip of the finished movie here Maybe it's time for a Bondarchuk reappraisal... Bondarchuk wiki

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Brian Jones

I was talking to Susan about Brian Jones last night (prompted by the Dirtbombs cover of 'No Expectations')so I thought I would post something about the late lamented musical genius and it turned out he died on 3 July! Spooky... anyway read the wiki on him - did you know this Rice Krispies song was the only official Jones composition? I think it's great and I do remember being excited about this tune as a child. The movie Stoned was about Mr Shampoo - haven't seen it - clip here