Monday, December 31, 2007

The Spotnicks 'Rocket Man theme' 1962

You may laugh at their space suits but this Swedish band is still going and have sold over 18 million albums. Official site

Mance Lipscomb 'Sugar babe it's all over now'

Texas songster - from the era when 'whupping your woman' was being sung about - absolutely brilliant vocalist and guitarplayer even with a finger bandaged as here, he still manages perfect picking. Watch him play pocketknife slide on the old Blind Lemon song Jack O' Diamonds Hard Card to Play

happy new year

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Magic Sam

1960s era blues suffers a bit from a bad image - mostly thanks to idiots like Clapton so I try to convince you otherwise and what better person to convince you than the late great Magic Sam, part of the late 50s early 60s 'new wave' of West Side Chicago players who took the brassy soul sound and played it on guitar creating something wholly amazing. Magic Sam never got the credit he deserved as his label Cobra couldn't compete for airplay with Chess and the boss Eli Toscano was to go under in a gangland murder. Watch these two songs - please play it to the end as he lets rip with his version of Junior Parker's Feelin' Good and he cooks up a storm - close ups of his fingers will give you the shivers. Using no picks Magic Sam was a cracking guitarist and seering vocalist - so sad that he died of a heart attack when he was so young. Check out the Cobra Records Story cd for more of this and the other great artists who for a while challenged the big boys. I Can't Quit You Baby Otis Rush

Bad Detectives live at the Griffin

If you're in the Frome area then tonight why not pop on down to see local heroes the Bad Detectives and the Stiffs play the Griffin Inn at Milk Street. The BDs have had a great year with serious airplay for their album 'B-Movie Beat' and lots of exposure locally including their own show on Frome FM.

Punk's dodgy debut albums

While listening to the Cortinas' debut and only album 'True Romances' I had a thought - how many otherwise decent punk bands brought out totally pathetic debut albums? Quite a few when you think about it. I know - I was there - I remember the phenomena so well - great band - great live act but once they got a deal to do an album went totally rubbish bringing out some sanitised version of what their basic career had been up to at that point. I will now produce my list of over produced and disappointing debuts and see what you think. 1. Slits 'Cut' 2. Siouxsie and the Banshees 'The Scream'. 3. Joy Division 'Unknown Pleasures' 4. Ants 'Dirk Wears White Sox' 5. Only Ones 6. Subway Sect 'What's the Matter Boy' 7. Cortinas 'True Romances'
8 X-Ray Spex - that's what I come up with off the top of my head - I am sure you can think of some too - you might disagree with some of my entries but all of these bands if you took Peel sessions and live tracks to make their debut would have made a more honest record of what they were about to get an album deal in the first place. I suppose part of the reason was time - by the time these bands had got into the studio for the big one they had stopped being the thing that we all knew and loved. Or something.

Friday, December 28, 2007

'If....' (1968)

One movie I got this Christmas was this classic from Lindsay Anderson - set in a boys public school - it was filmed at Cheltenham College thanks to a bogus script cooked up by Anderson to deceive the Head. My schooldays were pretty similar in certain aspects - got caned a few times and I think looking back probably thought of myself of a Mick Travis character while I was actually at school though I was probably a much more horrid type in reality. The Malcolm Mcdowell site has some great insights into this great British black comedy and its follow up movies 'O Lucky Man' and 'Britannia Hospital' all of which form a trilogy which is in my mind a work of genius.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Abel Gance's Napoleon

History fans are in for a treat. Pump this badboy up to full screen. It's the tryptich (three screens) sequence of Napoleon addressing the army of Italy in Abel Gance's 1927 epic masterpiece. I saw this with orchestra on the 3 screens once - phenomenal - it really captures the ragtag look of the French revolutionary army so well it's like watching history. Dieudonne who plays Napster is masterful too...playing Napoleon slightly deranged this actor and he became obsessed with him.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Johnny Moped live in the back garden 1974

Merry Christmas to all you readers of my blog - thanks for dropping in - enjoy this slice of punk history as my gift to you... Johnny Moped live in the Back Garden 1974

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Son House 'Death Letter Blues'

Stomp your feet to the great Son House - I bet you'll like it - very accessible rhythms - great everything - it's about time someone made a movie about Son House - he spent time in Parchman farm for shooting a man - had the whole religion thing going on - field recordings - fading into obscurity - rediscovered in the 60s - fame and success. Wiki on Son House

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Johnny Moped 'Incendiary Device'

Clip from 2007 with the legendary Johnny Moped giving it some. JM have been the subject of a reissue compilation entitled 'Basically... the Best of Johnny Moped' that brings together the Chiswick studio recordings including the should-have-been-a-hit of 'Darling Let's Have another Baby' and some of their anthems of madness - quite a unique act. Legends follow Johnny Moped most of them apparently true. It makes a pleasant change to listen to stuff as full of fun as this - if you are a fan of the Damned and the more light-hearted pubby side of punk then you need this album. Interview and Biog here Johnny Moped Myspace

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Eddie Cochran 'Money honey'

Probably my favourite white rock and roller Eddie here does a great cover of Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters' 'Money Honey'. Great song - great performance.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

HaT 1/72 French infantry (1914)

These look promising.

World War One Cannon blog

This is an excellent blog based on surviving examples of 14-18 artillery pieces still out there in the world at large. It's well worth going through the pages seeing some of these monsters in their final resting places - some well cared for some hideously neglected. Also see the Lovett collection for some restored beauties.

Joyeux Noel

Trailer for a film set at Christmas 1914. I haven't seen it but it got good reviews and it would be a surprise if it wasn't good from this trailer. See what you think.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Front Rank 40mm American Revolution figures

Cycling and the Great War

As someone interested in cycling AND the Great War I am very interested to see someone actually putting the two together. Check out the article on how they did it on the The Army Cyclist Corps and The Khaki Chums.

Joy Division 'Shadowplay'

Here's the real thing from 1978 on Granada television. When we saw them I was quite shocked to see the bass player had a beard! It sounds to me like he's singing 'To the centre of the city where there's roast beef waiting for you' in the opening line - see what you think. Lyrics here

Some jokes in Control

After some consideration there were quite a few jokes in Control - I just forgot them - there's one where someone says 'where's my 20 quid?' and is answered 'In my f**k off pocket' which we thought hilarious and one where they say 'cheer up - at least you're not the lead singer in the Fall' which was a ribtickler. Here's a clip from the film set in the studio showing how they got the swishing sound in She's Lost Control. (French subtitled version).

carol singers

Last night some carol singers called and as we knew in advance they were coming quickly filmed them and uploaded it onto youtube. Why? Not sure but I bet in 50 years time someone will care. If you want to feel all festive give it a spin - can't see much but the sound quality is good.


I'm thinking about trying my hand at sculpting figures again - not sure what scale yet - probably 42 or 54 mm - I'm thinking 1914 at the moment - maybe using dollies this time - noticed Irregular Miniatures do naked figures (in the scenics/accesories sections) which would make life easier simply having to just sculpt the specifics.
HaT Masters for 1914
Anyway these masters and schematics of 1/72 1914 German troops from Hat are pretty interesting to me - backpacks large enough - things look good. Doubt my sculpts will be as good. 1914 Jagers here.

Friedland 2007

I haven't posted anything about the Napoleonic wars for a while so here's some footage from this summer's reenactment of the battle of Freidland (June 14 1807). Fought between the French and the Russians this clip is pretty good - worth watching if you have an interest in the subject.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Energy Drinks

I am old school enough to be a bit suspicious of these energy drinks - they're banned in many countries. The French Scientific Committee concluded that Red Bull has excessive amounts of caffeine. They also can contain taurine - why is it called that? It was first found in Ox bile, that's why. Ugh. French ban on Red Bull upheld by European courts.

Hanged Men Dance

On a totally different note this band from the southeast of the US are well worth checking out. Their own description primitive beats, out of tune guitars, spacey slide, catatonic urghs, arghs & La La LAs, out of tune and in (((STEREO)) sums them up pretty well. I love it - reckon they'd do really well if they get to gig over here. Kind of bluesy in a good way. Recommended.

No Jokes in Ian Curtis Biopic

I watched the Ian Curtis biopic 'Control' last night. Thought maybe the story of a working class youth afflicted with epilepsy killing himself wracked with guilt might make me feel a bit festive but it didn't work. Just joking. Still it is a great film well done but well short on laughs - a few references to flatulence was about all you got for humour in this monochrome and gritty slice of cinema - in a way reminding me a little of the kitchen sink dramas of the 1960s but then I suppose it wasn't that long after that era that it was set. Period detail was good though I can't imagine a scenario where the Velvet Underground would be coming out of a pub jukebox at that time, but I suppose they didn't want to ruin the soundtrack. Shame they didn't use the song At A Later Date in the Electric circus bit as its lyrics are pretty interesting in a way
Only thing I'm thinking of is why are we all here ? There must be more to do at nights than drinking rotten beer. The world's a very shady place, and you can't trust a soul. "grin and bear it" seemed the thing, when it just gets a hold.
In a way an unmissable film if you are interested in the music of the era but don't expect to feel at all fuzzy after watching it. Did I tell you we were at Joy Division's first ever London gig? There wasn't many there as depicted in the film - it was just after Christmas - according to a website only 30 people paid the 60p admission price but we certainly did. I wish we'd spoken to them now but being Mancunians we probably felt that they were from a different planet. Incidentally if you want to get the Ian Curtis trenchcoat look as featured in the film it's a US army ag-274 raincoat - they're still quite cheap on ebay.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Civil war bubblegum cards

Do you remember these? I still have a few knocking around the house - you used to get them with real confederate money - I must have been about 4 or 5 years old - some of them are particularly grisly... excellent fan site here - there was also 1 a world war 2 set that was heavy on the scenes of torture.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

'Somerset Railways' by Colin Maggs

This new book looks worth getting if you are looking for a gift for the steam enthusiast. Review here

Death of Ike Turner

One of the all-time greats Ike Turner died today. Shame he will always be remembered for the dark days rather than his massive musical achievements.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Marche pour la cérémonie des Turcs (J.B. Lully)

The other day I was so shocked to see they made a movie about Lully - court composer to Louis XIV I failed to really convey my enthusiasm for the music of Louis XIV's court so I thought I'd go back to this clip from Tous Les Matins Du Monde with the great Depardieu and let the music speak for itself. A fascinating man Lully the son of a miller and a libertine who made some great works of music though long in the shadows - he seems to be getting something of a revival - about time. Go Lully. Shame he had to die from spiking himself in the toe and getting gangrene - (see clip below from le Roi Danser). Watch it also being played here

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Spanish Civil War RTS!

Getting some controversy this is - for a game...
Sombras de Guerra - Shadows of War. This looks really interesting - an rts game based on this pivotal conflict in the 30s. Can't find much in English but the various sides and their technology trees and troop types are in the section marked Bandos. Looks well researched and interesting. Shall be able to review it soon. Maybe controversial but I like the idea - why is WW2 acceptable and SCW not?

Monday, December 10, 2007

(Look Out) Here Comes Tomorrow The Monkees

The Seven Years War dioramas of Rüdiger Fischer

These are amazing - really bringing the period to life. Works of art.

'The Young Franc-Tireurs' G A Henty

And Their Adventures in the Franco-Prussian War. (1872)
This is one of Henty’s first books and is based on his experiences covering the Franco-Prussian War as a correspondent and from interviews he conducted with French veterans. G A Henty wiki
By the way Franc-tireurs are 'free-shooters, French volunteers, chiefly peasants, who carried on a guerilla warfare against the Germans in the Franco-German War; were at first denied the status of regular soldiers by the Germans and mercilessly shot when captured, but subsequently, having joined in the movements of the regular army, they were when captured treated as prisoners of war'. Nuttal (1907) Picture by Knotel here
Thinking about it this would be a good fun project for a bunch of French people living in the region - recreating Franc-tireurs...anyone out there do it? Images of Franc-tireurs here
Photos of Franc-tireurs here

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The pickelhaube is back!

For German football fans at least it is - buy them here.
Read about the historical originals here

Vehicles by Aroutcheff

These are really charming - vehicles from BDs by Aroutcheff.

The Fnords '21st Century Malaise'

This Scottish three piece mixing garage rock and roll and punk rock are excellent. Give them a spin - I think you'll agree... another one here 'Non Verbal Adjective Agreement'. Rock and roll at its best.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

La Débâcle (the Downfall)

Novel by Zola set in the Franco-Prussian war. Project Gutenberg English language version here. My Christmas reading sorted. Wiki on it here. It starts thus:
In the middle of the broad, fertile plain that stretches away in the direction of the Rhine, a mile and a quarter from Mulhausen, the camp was pitched. In the fitful light of the overcast August day, beneath the lowering sky that was filled with heavy drifting clouds, the long lines of squat white shelter-tents seemed to cower closer to the ground, and the muskets, stacked at regular intervals along the regimental fronts, made little spots of brightness, while over all the sentries with loaded pieces kept watch and ward, motionless as statues, straining their eyes to pierce the purplish mists that lay on the horizon and showed where the mighty river ran.

'We're All Going to Die' Malcolm Middleton

'Malcolm Middleton comes in to Radio 1 for a session with Colin Murray to promote his push for a Christmas number 1'. Great song. I support this wholeheartedly - not just because I am a miserable person but it's actually quite a Buddhist concept that - acceptance of this fact will ultimately liberate you. Malcolm Middleton Myspace

The War of 1870-1 in pictures

This is my favourite website at the moment. Every winter I get interested in some historical war or another - it's a bizarre form of escapism but I don't go reading loads of boring campaign histories any more instead I like absorbing images and this site has plenty. Postcards, chocolate box images, photos... it's all here - check it out if you like this sort of thing. This image of German Uhlans is from the section Menu des pages "curiosités, images et textes divers

Paris' new bike scheme

As fans of the bicycle (which we think of as the transport of the future rather than a relic of the past) we're pretty pleased to see Paris getting a success with its bike loan scheme. Let's see some British cities take this on.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Le Roi Danse (the King is dancing)

A film from 2000 set in the Court of Louis XIV about the relationship between the Sun King and the composer Lully. I used to always look out for Lully discs years ago and they never had them even in the classical music shops that Bath has a lot of - and now they have made a movie about him and it took me 7 years to hear about it. Suppose it shows how few friends I have. Anyway watch this clip - it's great - I'm going to get it - this is an era depicted also in Depardieus Tous Les Matins du Monde.

Reg Presley interview

Troggs frontman Reg Presley is interviewed on his music on this audio podcast. It's a brilliant interview as he talks humorously and intelligently about the music, coming from Andover and all manner of interesting anecdotes. Mentions the now fashionable DDBMT...
Here's them in their heyday.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Zouaves of the World Blog

Image 3ème Régiment de Zouaves
Global Zouave community. A great blog for Zouave fans like me. Lots of interesting links to all the groups who recreate these African-inspired elite infantry and all manner of articles about the worldwide phenomenon. Did you know a Zouave invented cigarettes? Apparently during the Crimean war a Zouave soldier broke his pipe and used cartridge paper instead creating a global craze - this is why you see a Zouave on Zigzag rolling papers. Anyway check out the links - there's some interesting groups out there - the 3eme Zouaves from Germany look the business - doing the brilliant idea of doing Civil War as well. This image is from the reenactment of Thionville from the Franco-Prussian war. Not featured but of interest to me is the new US based 2nd Zouaves recreating French troops of the period 1852-1918.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Taras Bulba

This Russian epic historical movie isn't out until next year but it looks interesting - based on the famous novel about Cossacks by Gogol. The 1962 Hollywood version starred Yul Brynner and Tony Curtis and was shot in Argentina. Let's hope this version is an improvement.

Turkish Gambit

If you like Russian historical films this clip from the 2005 movie Turkish Gambit might be up your street. Based on the novels by Boris Akunen which are published in English they tell the story of a 19th century spy. This scene depicts the storming of Plevna in the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-8. Review of the book here - Review of the film
The siege of Pleven wiki

Monday, December 03, 2007

Great War blog - a French perspective

If you have an interest in the French perspective of the Great War you must get over to this site - it's full of excellent illustrations by André Jouineau that are a breath of fresh air on the subject and its a fascinating look at the 14-18 war from a different angle. Don't be put off by the language - it's heavily illustrated.

Balaclava helmets

While on the subject of the Crimea take a look at this bad boy - a 1940s balaclava helmet - Susan found it on a friend's myspace and tracked down the pattern and is going to make me one as she is a good knitter. The earholes will be great for headphones - I will put up a picture when it's done.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Charge of the Light Brigade Documentary

Documentary on the Charge of the Light Brigade written and narrated by Terry Brighton for The Queen's Royal Lancers Regimental Museum. Excellently done it uses clips from one of my favourite films which is on tv this week. The Channel 4 documentary on the Crimean war is worth a look too - its here.

New Bob Dylan biopic 'I'm not there'

If you enjoyed Todd Haynes' Velvet Goldmine you might be intrigued by his latest project - Bob Dylan being played by 6 or so different actors including Cate Blanchette, Heath Ledger and Christian Bale. Quite a brave take on the biopic genre. Article here . The soundtrack also looks interesting with folks like Tom Verlaine and Yo La Tengo.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

'I'm Bad Like Jesse James' John Lee Hooker

John Lee Hooker in 1986 playing in his great menacing style a minimal groove that shows his style off well. Jesse James must have inspired more songs than any other western figure. Some good ones out there...any suggestions? Last fm Jesse James playlist

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

What a title? You're probably sick of hearing about this movie already but it is supposedly a critical success and I have to say I am a little curious to go to the flicks to see it as there's nothing quite as much fun as a western on the big screen however longwinded and boring it might be. Heaven's Gate was brilliant and that was pretty epic in length. Goes with the territory, getting saddle sore at the cinema watching cowboy films.
Wiki on Jesse James

Astrud Gilberto 'Girl from Ipanema'

More 60s easy listening this time the bossa-nova classic - sounding strangely melancholic in my opinion but nevertheless one of the great female vocals of all time.

Wide Boy Awake 'Chicken Outlaw'

A band from the early 80s led by ex Ant bassplayer Kevin Mooney and managed by Jordan if I remember right. I think he got kicked out of the Ants after mucking about during a Royal Variety Performance but I imagine the fact that he wasn't much of a bass player also had something to do with it. This style mixes electro-pop with cajun and was pretty much on the button at the time being a bit like Hayzee Fantayzee who were popular at the time. It wasn't a hit nor was Bonaventure, another single. Interview with Mooney