Sunday, September 30, 2007

Black Forest Ham

'Write something about Black Forest Ham for your blog...go on'....says Bea... OK we love it - we get it from the food chain Lidls...where else? - the wiki on it has an interesting story about it being traditionally eaten in the US on the Pacific northwest railroad - all to do with the Wobblies - anyway I think we like it as it reminds us of eating food cooked on a smokey old fire when we used to do reenactments. Wiki on BFH - try something old today... I refuse to eat food invented after 1939 - seems reasonable...
Actually I must be getting into food in my old age - we made some pickled onions the other day - here's the label.

Mao Mao 'La Chinoise'

Another musical highlight from a 60s classic movie - this time from Jean-Luc Godard's La Chinoise. In the days of video this song had me fast forwarding the movie looking for this song as it stuck in my head something rotten. Watch it if you dare. It's by Claude Channes. I used to have a copy of the little red book when I was at school and was a bit of a junior revolutionary - maybe that's why I love this song so much. More on the world of La Chinoise here

Ignite Action Figures

12 inches high - maybe a little shorter in this case - 1/6th scale - these Japanese made figures cover interesting historical eras like Romans, Greeks, Spartans and Vikings - Crusaders. German knights and so on - and of course Napoleon in 1805 - pictured - they also do an Imperial guard grenadier. An ideal gift. At least for me - more images here.

Stara baśń Dark Age battle scene (2004)

I'll always prefer history to fantasy - this film looks a great mix of both based on a Polish fairy tale... I discovered it while looking for something else - it's a spectacular battle scene. Viking reenactment is hugely popular in Europe - why not give it a go?
Film by Jerzy Hoffman based on the book "Stara Basn" written by Jozef Ignacy Kraszewski. "The story of 'When the Sun was God An Ancient Tale' is happening one hundred years before the christening of Poland in the world of magic and pagan witchcraft, where the gods take active parts in the lives of ordinary men. In the land of Polan people, the power belongs to the cruel prince Popiel, who according to a legend was finally eaten by mice...

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Home made Renault FT17 tank

Another in my occasional series of 'I gotta get one of these' this is a three quarter scale replica of my favourite tank - for airsoft apparently - how cool is that? Watch footage of the original here and colour footage here

1914 reenactment in Belgium

This video and some few others shows the reenactment of the battle of Wagnee which took place this July at Oret in Belgium.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Masque of the Red Death

To tie in with the gig theme below I thought I'd post about a classic exploitation movie with the embodiment of cinematic horror cheese, Vincent Price. There's an article on it at Hollywood Gothique which tells of a then unknown Paul Macartney visiting the set and Jane Asher knitting Beatle caps for the lads.

Gig in Frome Somerset

Here's the flyers Boswell our bass player made for our gig on the 26th - you must come. It will have a multimedia element with mash ups of old movies and so on - see you there? If you are wondering what a danse macabre is all about the wiki on it explains all

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

DDDBMT 'The Legend of Xanadu'

The revival of this band is now in full swing - I picked up a greatest hits but it was all re-recorded - don't you hate it when you get that? So take care to get original sessions. This loveable, presumably spaghetti western-inspired whipcracking flamenco and brass nonsense was covered in 1992 by the Fall and was a staple in our house - played about every other day for about two years. Listen to it here.

History Channel's French Revolution

They've got a load of this series on Youtube - it looks fairly well done. I like French Revolutionary fashions a lot and we did have a band that was based on this look called 'Red Hot and the Sans-culottes' partly inspired by Vivienne Westwood's Incroyables look (see the Bow wow wow video below) - I wanted the look of the Paris mob - their enemies. We made a demo but then gave up - probably for the best. I did get to have a lot of clothing for this period though (see pic of me from about 92) when I reenacted it during the bicentenary so I have a bit of a soft spot for this era, though it was pretty bloody with mass killings by drowning and of course the famous guillotine. In this country we mostly know the era from The Scarlet Pimpernel and Carry on Don't Lose Your Head so it's not really going to really catch on. Now the bicentennial has progressed past the Revolution I wonder will anyone ever wear stuff like this again? I tried starting a forum on the subject a few years ago - it flopped.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Gas Raid

Exceptionally good depiction of a gas attack from the First World War from the series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Watch this clip all the way to the end as there is a first class and totally chilling evocation of flame throwers in action backed up by German cavalry in gas protection looking like the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. A jaw dropping finale to a fine sequence really capturing the hellish nature of trench warfare in the 14-18 war. This clip is a German dub but you get the idea - meine mask ist kaputt...

A Day in World War One

Short movie by Matthieu Silberstein about a French soldier encountering a German child in the Vosges. Shows what can be done with a low budget - ideal for youtube too.

Replica WW1 tank footage

Interesting looking event in I think new Zealand of some Great War vehicles doing a public display.

Bow wow wow 'Louis Quatorze'

More history meets rock in the form of the brilliant Bow Wow Wow telling the tale this time, though it's not really about the Sun King really but it is worth watching for the Vivienne Westwood clothing making bicorns hip, the Matthew Ashman guitar, Dave Barbe's drumming, need I go on. We did a gig with Dave Barbe earlier this year. Probably my favourite modern drummer.

18th century in the UK

While on the subject of the American Revolution - see Boston Tea Party below - I thought I'd give a mention to who I think are one of the best 18th century redcoat units in this country the 47th Foot. They are, along with pretty much all the 18th century reenactors, are at the Gunpowder Mills at Waltham Abbey this weekend for an event entitled the World Aflame.

Boston Tea Party SAHB

I thought I'd post a few history-meets-rock songs over the next few weeks - this one was suggested by my son and I suppose it doesn't get much better than Scottish rockers The Sensational Alex Harvey Band telling the tale - but be warned - it's very catchy. Official site

Monday, September 24, 2007

Dave Dee Dozy Beaky 'Mitch' and Titch 'Hold Tight'

Another Deathproof posting - this time about the Salisbury Wiltshire beat band played in Quentin Tarantino's latest hit movie. Wrongly called 'Mitch' and Titch by the character Jungle Julia of course it should be Mick and Titch. Dave Dee was once a policeman and was at the scene of Eddie Cochran's death and held his guitar. Wow. I knew a couple of people who were in St Martin's hospital when they brought his body in but that's not so impressive is it? Sue's a DDDBMT fan - I got into them once I heard the Fall's version of 'The Legend of Xanadu' and of course I remember 'Bend it' and 'Zabadak' from my youth. Great bubblegum in effect. Dave Dee was an A&R man when we were active in the late 70s. Anyway this clip is laugh out loud funny and features Valerie Singleton from Blue Peter. On some of the clips I notice he's dressed in Regency modes - very Beau Brummel... Watch the whipcracking Xanadu here
Have a feast of DDDBMT on youtube here
Search Amazon for Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick and Titch

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Frome's Grindhouse

There's been a bit of a debate going on about Grindhouse cinema and whether it existed in this country - I think it did and one was certainly the Grand Cinema in Frome. It was the town's second cinema and off the town centre up out of the way by the West Side Stop - a notorious hang-out for young hoodlums - and was a ww1 memorial hall which meant cheap rent to keep it in its memorial use, that of a theatre. After a brief time hosting dances which usually ended in extreme violence it doubled as a bingo hall for a while before settling into a less troublesome groove of sleazy movies. Every now and again strip shows were organised for members of a special club called 'Frank's Delight' which wasn't cockney rhyming slang. There were always lurid double features on there - whether martial arts, horror, porno, Confessions of a window cleaner type comedy, Peckinpah or spaghetti westerns or some other drastic bill of exploitation. Every now and then they'd show an old classic musical to appease the operatic fraternity like Sound of Music or My Fair Lady and then it was back to films like 'Percy', 'If....' or some Vincent Price shocker. I can remember clearly every few days being mindblown by the posters alone being too young to go but I passed the billboard every day and these images etched themselves onto my young mind. I did see one band there though. The Grand hosted a double bill of Elvis movies and one time booked an all girl punk band the Straights to play in between the movies - a bit of a miscalculation there but those kind of contradictions were typical of the era - I had to sit through Born to Boogie in order to watch Let it Be I think. Nowadays its back to being a theatre specialising in what seems like entertainment aimed at the old folks - the West Side Stop is now no longer there - even the Hexagon Suite, Frome's very own Studio-54-with-violence-disco tacked onto the back is now an old people's day centre most of the time.
I do have fond memories of seeing all sorts of films there though - my dad knew the projectionist and he gave me a poster of the film Waterloo - but I suppose I'll always remember the Grand for films like Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia or some such nonsense. Of course you could smoke in a cinema in those days - can't really imagine that nowadays but there was a time... I think it added a nice sleazy touch but I know you non smokers don't appreciate our efforts to bring an extra dimension to going out - coughing but anyway I think my abiding memory of the cinema was walking home afterwards - it would always be raining - 'that was crap' 'which one?' 'Both of them'.
Grindhouse trailers

The Wolfmen 'Cecilie'

Marco and Chris Constantinou's band the Wolfmen's new promo. Pretty good. Vinyl 7 inch has Lou Reed collaboration on the classic 'Do the Ostrich'.

The Hives 'Tick Tick Tick Boom'

On Friday night I had to sit through a seemingly endless amount of inane chat by Jonathon Ross to watch the brilliant Swedish rock and rollers The Hives do their new single at the end of the show. You can just watch the clip - how lucky is that? I suppose if they had come out in 1976 one would call the Hives an r'n'b band - it's all labels I suppose in the end - good performance.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Joy Division 'Dead Souls'

Well as everyone in the UK is about to go Joy Division crazy with the release of the biopic Control (official site) - based on Ian Curtis' widow's novel Touching From a Distance - I thought I'd pass on some thoughts on the matter - why? Well we (Animals and Men) were early, though geographically remote, Joy Division fans - saw their first gig in London at the Hope and Anchor - and were pretty heavily affected by them before they had released their first lp so it's from that perspective that I write. I was really disappointed with the sound of Unknown Pleasures - it didn't match up to what I'd heard before and so I thought they'd been sanitised or processed. Some of those feelings were allayed by the following 'Closer' album which had a great sound but I thought they were not at their best on those lps. Although we had contact with other bands like the Ants, Monochrome Set - bands that we looked up to we never considered contacting Joy Division as they seemed a little bit intense even for us - maybe aloof. I hated it when they became NME's new favourite band and I didn't bother seeing them when they played Bristol. They seemed 'trendy' and therefore just another band that was 'over'. Then it was over. That was depressing. In a way musically it undermined that whole genre of gloomy intense music for us - by taking 'it' to that level even someone who was so influential to us surely had to be wrong? Having said that I don't ever remember sitting down and listening to the lyrics - but you knew what he was getting at on some level from hearing them so much. Will I go and see the movie? Not sure - I'm not comfortable with the commoditising of the artist/suicide link - but I still play the records.

Dead Souls

The lyrics to the above clip may be of interest as there is a historical theme (one example of history rock the Guardian missed out on?)

Someone take these dreams away,

That point me to another day,

A duel of personalities,

That stretch all true realities.

That keep calling me,

Where figures from the past stand tall,

And mocking voices ring the halls.

Imperialistic house of prayer,

Conquistadors who took their share.

That keep calling me,They keep calling me

Psych-Out (1968)

Another 60s trash classic featuring my favourite of all the bands of the era The Seeds performing behind this mock funeral. Trailer here - apparently the film was going to be called the Love Children but they thought people might think it about children born out of wedlock. I must admit to being a sucker for these 60s movies - and usually the music bits are the best bits in the films - with Youtube you can simply see those special sequences again and again. There's a new clip of the Seeds doing Mr Farmer up if you like this sort of thing.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Gentle people

While in the trash classics of the 60s what better place to stop by than Beyond the Valley of the Dolls - a lurid tale of rock and roll excess - I actually like the music OK? No it is a great film and because of Russ Meyer's reputation people think it's a soft core movie whereas I would put it in the black comedy. Anyway it's almost a musical with the Carrie Nations being a sort of beatnik girl band created from the Kelly Affair - the plot involves a nighmare world of decadence but in a very bizarre funny way. Anyway dig this classic which I think would make a great cover - it's a forgotten classic - sort of like mid period REM... Sweet talking C-C-C-Candy Man here
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

Village of the Giants (1965)

If you're thinking you might have heard the twangy guitar in the new Quentin Tarantino movie before you might have heard it here, on this classic teen movie. I am sure HG Wells was never like this!

Danger: Diabolik (1968)

I finally got round to watching this Italian-made movie based on a comic character of the same name. First thing that hits you is a great Ennio Morricone score - a mix of his usual idiosyncratic noises and twangy spy type guitar - and if that's not reason enough to watch it then you're not a music fan. Diabolik is in a black latex frogman type suit and is a master criminal with a ludicrously expensive looking underground hideaway and a chic girlfriend sidekick with the colour hair that only exists in movies like Barbarella. The plot is of course a series of cliffhangers reminiscent of the tv Batman series but I suppose the twist is that he is the criminal - an anti-hero, as my son pointed out. It's got Terry Thomas in it as an inept politician. It's a fantastic movie - I can't believe I got this old without having seen it before but it is up there with the great 60s classsics.

Danger: Diabolik

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Inspiral Carpets and Mark E Smith on Totp

One of my favourite top of the pops moments - doing 'I want you'. Brilliant. There were stories if I remember correctly of MES manically cleaning his dressing room when they did this. If you want more why not watch the promo of The League of Bald Headed Men. This is with the best Fall line-up with Hanley Scanlon and Wolstencroft - what one might call the true Fall.

Another couple of clips from Fort William Henry

This time from behind the French artillery. Another one is a pan across the battle. I promise not to post anymore about the Seven Years War. For a while.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

French & Indian war photos from Lake George

French and Indian, Lake George 2007 Event

Czech French and Indian war reenactors

This society of French and Indian war reenactors from the Czech republic is impressive - they seem to have a lot of activities that if I lived there I would love to do - here's some Compagnie franches de la Marine reenactors (see below for the US and Canadian versions) in deep snow. A lovely photo and an impressive group.
I started a French and Indian group in the UK - it's still going. It took about 5 years of my life and a fair bit of money to get it going - it was a bit of a waste of time looking back but once you start these things and everyone says it will never work you are kind of committed to see it through.

Páv Lučištník's reenactment photos

I am quite interested in what goes on in Europe - maybe when all the children have left home we might go and live somewhere like Eastern Europe - anyway here's some great photos of festivities battles and all manner of great outdoor entertainment photographed by Páv Lučištník - a 26 year old from Prague. Check them out - it looks like people in the Czech republic know how to enjoy themselves during the summer months. This image is from an interesting battle at a ford - nice to see people getting their armour wet

Monday, September 17, 2007

Fort William Henry footage

Clip from the weekend's reenactment - how quick is that? I am significantly old school to marvel at the technology that makes something available to watch so soon after the event. Do you remember when we all had dial-up and waiting for photos to download took hours? Anyway the weather didn't look too brilliant - hope they all enjoyed themselves.

Fort William Henry reenactment

Piece on the 250th anniversary french and indian war reenactment held over the weekend in upstate NY.

Joy Division movie

Interesting if lengthy piece about the forthcoming Joy Division movie by Paul Morley.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

T Rex Children of the Revolution

Maybe I am a bit naiive expecting pop stars to be nice people - it's a bit unlikely when you think about it, as what makes them succeed is ambition and ambition can be ruthless and somewhat blind. So to make amends let me say this must have been one of the great moments in British pop tv history - who could fail to be impressed? Bolan is a kind of weird mid point between rockabilly as performed by people like his idol Eddie Cochran and the punk music of the late 70s - and I think on his worst day Bolan was more of an artist than Bowie ever was or could be. In some ways he personifies the 70s as he progressed from bopping hippy elf to a gothic self obsessed midpoint in the low years before being reborn in the punk era as a happy fulfilled entertainer. If only he'd worn a seat belt he could be headlining Glastonbury or even be a knight of the realm. What a waste. Drive safely kids.
Marc Bolan

Russian Great War reenactors

These impressive images are from a training weekend in the Urals. Lovely location with the classic buildings you might expect from this part of the world. Film footage here.
Actually the last reenactment I took part in was a Russian unit of this period but based in the UK. I feel a bit guilty that we didn't follow it up but it was based in Yorkshire and that seemed a long way away - not as far away as Russia mind you but I am a bit parochial.
Imperial Russian Army

Perry Miniatures American Revolution figures

While on the subject of the American War of Independence I thought I'd draw attention to the range of figures by the Perry twins. They sculpt historical figures as a labour of love (their day job is with Games Workshop producing fantasy) and when they get the bit between the teeth of a certain period they really go to town on it. These Hessians are particularly well animated showing the stiff legged gait of 18th century soldiers. Check out their artillery and limbers and their native warriors - all are works of historical art. Let's hope they produce some French troops...
American Revolution

Battle of Harlem Heights 1776

This day in 1776 saw the British and Patriot forces fight it out in the Revolutionary war at Harlem Heights. The battle is notable in that during the fight when the Americans were retreating the Redcoats played a fox-hunting call on a horn which so riled the Patriots that they were reinvigorated and held firm. This wonderful photograph is from the 33rd Foot's website and though showing White Plains I think given the built up nature of Harlem now you will forgive its use. Besides it's one of the best reenactment photos I have seen and the 33rd were at Harlem Heights along with the 42nd and Regiment Von Donop

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Tyrannosaurus Rex - Sara Crazy Child

Well it's 30 years since Marc Bolan died in a car crash. Susan's a big fan though I wasn't so much of a fan at the time though she's managed to persuade me into liking his stuff over the years. I much prefer the early acoustic stuff done with the great Steve Peregrine Took than the later coke-fuelled pap that most people know. Check out this clip from '67 to see if you agree. Lyrically and musically it was much more interesting than the pop stuff which was to my mind unoriginal in comparison. Without doubt a great songwriter and stylist one gets the impression from interviews with people like John Peel that he became a bit of monster in his glory days but never mind - that's showbiz - selling out is the name of the game. Marc Bolan - Tyrannosaurus Rex Years

Friday, September 14, 2007

Animals and Men 'John of the Sword'

Another song from our live set chez nous - this one entitled 'John of the Sword'. Enjoy or don't enjoy.

Warren Ellis' Crecy

It's not very often that you get a graphic novel about a battle from the middle ages but this is one and I recommend you check it out. There is a bit of an attempt to draw a paralell with Iraq but don't let that put you off. The bumph reads
An original graphic novel from Warren Ellis and his Apparat line of books! A highly trained but under equipped army invades another country due to that country's perceived threat to home security. The army conducts shock-and-awe raids designed to terrify the populace. This army is soon driven to ground, and vastly outnumbered. The English army has to stand and fight, in Crecy, France. On 26 August 1346, modern warfare changed forever. This is the story of England's greatest battle. Featuring the stunningly detailed art of Raulo Caceres.
More pics hereWarren Ellis

Jump around

Here's our biggest ferret Kowalski doing his's only a short film - but a good one I think. Incidentally there's a ferret show in Bristol this weekend. Bristol Ferret Club Show 16th September 2007 Start time: 11.30am Location: The Manor Hall , Coalpit Heath , Bristol , BS36 2TG Admission cost: 50p per adult + 1.00 per class entry
Tel: 07831182978 Email:
Ferret Show & Racing and family fun day. All usual classes, ferret racing, raffle, refreshments available

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bad Detectives

footage from a couple of weeks ago as the BDs carry on rocking the West Country - they're at the Crown Frome tonight.

The French and Indian war

This weekend in upstate New York at Lake George is a major 250th anniversary reenactment of the Siege of Fort William Henry - made famous by the book/movie Last of the Mohicans. This clip is from Quebec City earlier this year by Compagnie Franches de la Marine troops showing their drill display skills - it's the sort of thing you will be able to see. The Seven Years War was fought all over the world but in North America recreating this period is popular having an important part in the development of Canada and the US as they are today whereas in Europe it's just another war. The big 250th for Europe is going to be Minden in 2009 - maybe some Americans and Canadians could come over for that?
Learning drill like this is a bit like performing music - everyone is in sync and working together to build a whole - when it goes well it has a similar sense of satisfaction. NY Calendar of events

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Detroit Cobras

Their recent album 'Tried and True' has been on our stereo all summer - great songs and brilliant singing the DCs are one of our favourite bands. If you don't know them they take unknown soul songs from the vaults of anonymity and then give them a punk rock approach with one of the best white voices in soul ever Rachel Nagy, giving it the attitude too. Unfortunately there aren't any good clips off the recent album up that have decent sound quality and I wouldn't want to put you off them so picked one from a couple of years ago that seems to be as good a capture of their magic as one could wish for. Video review here for T&T Q&A Mary Ramirez DC

BBC Four comics season

Fans of the genre are no doubt pleased with this tv season of films about comics - 'In Search of Steve Ditko' and Tintin creator Herge are featured as well as the 60s Batman TV series which must have the all time greatest tv theme ever. What child doesn't know the song? Is it my imagination or does that song Chick Habit (see below) sound like the Batman theme song? When I was 6 watching Adam West and co camping it up I had no idea it was tongue in cheek - maybe that was the secret of its success? My parents didn't really like me watching it but I did have a few toys - not as many as my daughter Celia - she has a phenomenal collection of Batmobiles, games, bedspreads... she could open a museum. Talking of Batmobiles my son asked where there were any of the 60s cars - I remember seeing one painted orange at a museum in Great Yarmouth and looking on the web a Scandinavian millionaire snapped one up from ABC for 120,000 pounds. Best bet if you want one is to buy a replica - from here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Siege of Gdansk 1807

This is a well put together film of the Napoleonic reenactment held in May of this year celebrating the siege two hundred years ago. This little film captures some of the excitement of a skirmish in a good location - some reenactment footage is from too far away and looks boring - this gets right up close so well done whoever filmed it. Report and photos from 2005 here - 2007 here and here

Chick Habit April March

A Tarantino soundtrack is always a great thing to have even if you don't like his movies, they throw up some unknown gems - this is one of the flagship songs off his movie Deathproof - it's on the movie in French and English language versions. Originally a song written by my songwriting hero Serge Gainsbourg. This version has been put to sequences from Russ Meyer's 'Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!' which was obviously part of the inspiration behind this amazing high octane car movie. A cool idea. Other songs off the soundtrack to come...apparently for one scene they put QT's own jukebox on set and pressed random. Love it. Below is the original 1965 France Gall version from 1965 Laisse Tomber Les Filles Am I not good to you?

Laisse Tomber Les Filles

Monday, September 10, 2007

Deathproof 'Down In Mexico'

Kids went to see a special screening of this movie - the latest from Quentin Tarantino - had a Q&A session with the man himself - this sequence has the Coasters' 'Down In Mexico' (see below) in the background so you HAVE to watch it.

Battle of Eylau - le Colonel Chabert

This battle fought in the early months of 1807 as depicted in the Gerard Depardieu movie 'Le Colonel Chabert'. Not an action movie it has this one sequence shot in Poland and is part of a flashback sequence.
This is a reasonable depiction of a charge by French cuirassiers, obviously influenced by Bondarchuk though not really historically accurate in terms of tactics; rarely would heavy cavalry go into race horse mode on the battlefield but instead moved around in dense formations in a much slower, though less spectacular fashion. See a US based cuirassier reenactor regiment here. Dutch one here. Looks frighteningly expensive.
I supose bicentennial wise things are a bit quiet now in the Napoleonic wars - next significant event I suppose is the invasion of Spain in 1808.
le Colonel Chabert

Saturday, September 08, 2007


We took this picture of a common viviparous lizard the other day as it basked on our patio. We love them and are always thrilled when we see one. We didn't handle this one for fear of it losing its tail tip but we thought we'd snap it instead.
We are always careful when gardening as we have lots of slow worms, toads and such - we never use strimmers or lawn mowers or any chemicals for fear killing our wildlife.
Avon Reptile and Amphibian Group Report

Friday, September 07, 2007

Napoleonic reenacting

Borodino Photos from last weekend here
Quite a few people come onto this page looking for information on this subject and I guess that they are maybe people who have watched Sharpe and thought 'I could do that - that looks fun' - but the trouble is - I personally can't find any decent redcoat groups out there in the UK - all the ones I see are about 6 muskets and about 9 officers and supernumeraries. With the exception of the 68th Durham Light Infantry I think they are all pretty poor. The King's Hussars are great if you like horses. You get the impression that the best days of this period have gone by in this country - presumably it was at its height when Sharpe was on ITV in the 90s. But I am a French sympathiser and I would if I was to do it again join a French group, possibly the 9eme Legere they have 60 plus members. However it IS a great hobby - especially the big continental events - they are always a great time to meet new friends from places like Eastern Europe or even further afield than that. Read an English language report on Rivoli, Italy to see what sort of thing to expect.
Recently was the annual reenactment of the Battle of Borodino from Napoleon's disastrous invasion of Russia. It looks great - see more pictures here - below is a collection of images from 2005. Wonderful. Why can't we do it like this in the UK?

The Coasters 50 Coastin' classics

One of the big problems with a band like the Coasters is you tend to hear the 15 or so big hits a lot, to the point where they lose their appeal but the more obscurer tracks which are generally more interesting are hard to get hold of. This compilation of 50 sides is not cheap and you will no doubt have Down In Mexico et al so you are probably going to pay a fair bit of money for the the ones you don't have, but to have a song by Will 'Dub' Jones that you haven't played to death may well be worth it. The above page on Amazon gives you a break down of what you will get and you can hear samples to see what is what. I had not heard 'the Slime' (on disc 2) before but you can bet I have been playing it about 10 times a day since I got it. It seems unnecessary to charge so much for something so old - maybe you can download individual tracks somewhere - (I don't know anything about legal downloading). If that's the case get Besame Mucho if you've not heard that - it's part of a run of classic covers the Coasters did alongside Zing! Went the Strings and Brazil. Basically all the Coasters songs are pure brilliance - songwriting, session musicians, vocals are all the best in music at the time and what you are hearing is the best you are ever going to hear - you'll never hear sax better than King Curtis, or hear better lines than those written by Leiber and Stoller and so on. Maybe some of the subject matter may seem a bit like stereotyping black people but it's no different than what people like 50 cent does now - criminal behaviour is popular with the public unless it involves them! So until someone uploads that clip of the Coasters singing What is the Secret of Your Success? we won't have any clips to watch but until then - drive your family nuts and buy this compilation and play it to death. It's pure herringbone.
All music guideThe Coasters

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A pitchfork murder

If you find murder mysteries about the English countryside fascinating you might enjoy reading this BBC article on a tale of real life rural crime in Lower Quinton in 1945 - a bit like Midsomer Murders or the Wicker Man. Creepy.

Waterloo Crop Circles

Interesting? On the16th June too - two days before the anniversary.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Wicker Man 'Gently Johnny'

As this the greatest British horror film of all time is enjoying a cinematic rerelease I thought I'd post this musical gem by the film's composer Paul Giovanni set in a pub. Missing from the early cut it made it onto the later Director's version and soundtrack. It's a lovely piece of psychedelic folk music - maybe we should all take our guitars to pubs and see what happens. Probably get chucked out. Some pubs are still worth a visit despite the smoking ban but not many. Why pay over the top prices for alcohol if you can't smoke? We've been visiting the pub of staying in a lot recently, refusing to participate in the political correctness gone mad of this government. Anyway the Wicker Man is almost a musical and we play the soundtrack quite a lot especially in the summer. I kicked off the music at our local 'Minifest' with songs from the rediscovered soundtrack - not sure if many got the reference though. My version? 'I put my hand upon her belly - she said, I'm trying to watch the telly'.
Wicker Man

Mongol - the movie (2007)

Another trailer from a new Russian epic - out this month - this time about the great Genghis Khan - 2nd trailer here. Official site here. Imdb facts. Directed by Sergei Bodrov this looks likely to be a hit.

Bubble cars

In celebration of the new Bad Detectives song 'Bubble Car' (see below) I thought I'd link to the Wiki on these slices of 'Luftwaffe technology' - I rode in one once around Frome - pretty scary but exhilarating - wouldn't it be great if everyone drove them? Pictured is a Messerschmitt. I want one. There's a 1963 Heinkel Trojan on ebay for about 3,000 pounds - anyone want to buy me one?
There's a bubble car museum - maybe the BDs ought to send them their cd.
I suppose the American equivalent might be the Davis three wheeler - that's a pretty whacky vehicle... lovely cartoon here. Wiki on Micro cars

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Bad Detectives 'B Movie Beat'

This is the second album from this West Country rock and roll band and it is, quite simply a cracker. My first thoughts were how appropriate it was that they were named after a Coasters song because all the BDs songs are like the classic Leiber and Stoller songs in that they are like little movies - three minutes long but full of humour and insights into the diverse interests of the groups' songwriters. First up is 'B-Movie Scientist' which explores the world of the cinematic boffin so beloved of the 50s flicks that obviously form part of the bands collective psyche. Next up is the delightfully catchy tune 'Bubble Car' which celebrates the funny little two seater cars that were a craze in the 60s. Following this is the pounding rock and roll of 'I'm In Love with the Mole Man's Girl' which is a beautifully crafted short story of being chased through caverns by moley henchmen for stealing a kiss from the pale female of the title. Another slice of pop craziness is 'Who Cut Your Hair' with all the humour of real life put into a rocking rhythm. 'Sacred and Profane' explores the link between the Devil's music and the Church which was so common in the golden age of American music, whereas 'Surf the Skies' tells the story of an outwardly boring man astrally flying in his sleep with references to silver umbilical chords and so on.
The subject matter of these witty songs are so varied as to defy categorisation - Ralph the Diving Pig is about a sideshow attraction so beloved in the US, whereas 'Doubleneck Guitar' tells the story of someone given one of those hefty behemoths by his girlfriend and the embarassment that followed it. Not sure whether these songs are autobiographical - has anyone in the band got a girlfriend who has a degree in ancient history and is obsessed by burial mounds? (Hubba Hubba) or has one of them ever owned a 59 Ford Popular? ('59 pop) - probably not, but the songs tell their stories well with cult references and a wink and a nod to those who share their trash culture obsessions. The lyrics are all printed in the accompanying booklet so you can appreciate their unique songwriting skills - the music goes from rockabilly, surf, country and pop with pedal steel and harp seasoning the sound which goes from Canvey to Kentucky in its range. So to conclude - a great album with well written songs destined to raise a smile among the discerning rock and roll fan as well as setting their toes a-tapping.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Animals and Men 'No Faces' live in our living room

Well this is about as DIY as it gets I reckon. What happened was we were supposed to be playing on our front patio as part of a day of family fun - sort of a block party for us load of hicks but it being England of course it rained. So not to spoil the kit we decided to play in our house - this was great for us - nobody could see anyone apart from Susan who stood in the doorway - the sound for us was spot on too though outside it probably sounded terrible. People danced in the drizzle and we shot it all for your delectation and delight. This one is an oldie from about 1980, 'No Faces' lyrics here. You may be the first to watch it. If you think our hovel is dark and gloomy that's actually how we like it.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Guitar Wolf 'Sex Napoleon' live

I think I first encountered legendary Japanese rockers Guitar Wolf on Adam and Joe Go Tokyo - a programme that showed some of the best new wave talent from the land of the rising blah blah. How would you describe their sound? Link Wray after being tortured? They have a great movie 'Wild Zero' which is worth watching. Bea loves them and Susan pointed out they were a bit like an even more manic Hives, but of course they've been around since 1987 but it's a good point.
Guitar Wolf

Bombardment of Copenhagen

This week in 1807 was an important and dark time in the history of Denmark - the bombardment of Copenhagen - by the British -there's all sorts of events and reenactments on - this week - looks great - site is in English too.
Picture archive

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Hilly Kristal

If one was looking for a physical birthplace of punk it would be inarguably CBGB's, the club in the Bowery that for so many years was the catalyst for a music scene that swept the world. Its owner sadly passing on the same year as his club goes into mythology seems strangely fitting. Here's the Ramones at CBGB's in 1977 - did I tell you Yo La Tengo played one of our songs Evil Going On at CBGB's? Oh I did... sorry

Happenings ten years ago

So where were you when you heard the news of Diana's demise? It's like she's become this nation's JFK so I thought I would ask. I was running a French and Indian war event at Chatsworth House as part of their Country Fayre - it's on this weekend if you are looking for something fun - it's what US reenactor's call a Dog and Pony show - mass bands, dog agility, horse jumping all in an arena, surrounded by the panoply of country sideshows, hot air balloons, hurdle-making etc. Anyway the Sunday morning we got the news but the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire who were close relatives still rightly decided the show must go on after a minute's silence. Arena displays are a bit of a nightmare for reenactors - no period atmosphere, no bushes or trees to run around - with even large numbers of 'troops' it can still look and feel really naff and I had been worried about it for weeks. So on we marched, our banners draped with black ribbons and the commanders wearing black armbands. Then, from out of nowhere the sky became as black as night - we all looked nervously at each other - what's going on? Then a bolt of lighning and a deluge and when I say deluge it was the most heavy downpour I have ever experienced - soon the muzzle flashes from the muskets which had been for a while illuminating the gloom like fireworks ceased due to the wet and we had to concede defeat and march off through what was by then ankle deep water in the arena. Within minutes people at the Fayre including my son were literally swimming in lakes two feet deep - it was phenomenal.
That night as the last of the punters' cars had been dragged through the mud Stewart, our French commander played host in his marquee to a drinking session and we digested the days events. I remember glancing down to a corner of his tent where there was a copy of the previous day's Sun newspaper, hitherto hidden away from the public. On the front page it had candid photos of Dodi Fayed and Diana on Jetskis with a pretty hostile text about her relationship, with, if I remember, implications that she was being disgraceful - she was going to be hounded about this affair there was no doubt. Strange how the media's tone changed in such a short time after the crash. I remember feeling strangely sad about the whole affair - unusual as I'm not a monarchist or tabloid reader, Diana fan or anything but it just seemed so typical for someone to be crushed by the media and then used to sell even more bloody papers after the dirty deed - it seemed so hypocritical and wrong. Oversentimental? Maybe - cars crash and people die in those accidents every day and it doesn't make the news unless it's someone famous - if you want a conspiracy that could be it - hiding the death toll on our roads - killing more than handguns by a long way. Drive safely gentle readers - and I mean that sincerely.