Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The Cure documentary - That Was Then... This Is Now

Being the massive Cure fan I am, some of my most prized possessions are old VHSs of random Cure appearances on TV - such as classic Top of the Pops performances, TV adverts for old albums and things such as this, rare Cure documentaries.

This particular documentary - That Was Then... This Is Now - is up there with the rarest and was recorded in 1988 (that's 22 years ago, feel old?) by my older bro. I've finally got round to digitising the VHS (thanks gZa) so i can watch it on DVD and also uploaded it to YouTube this morning. See below:




I don't have a huge amount of information about this other than that it was part of a series of six 30 minute rock documentaries made in 1988, directed by David G. Croft. The others included the Pet Shop Boys, Spandau Ballet, Gary Glitter, Depeche Mode and John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) .

There's also an executive producer credit for the infamous Janet Street Porter.

You can't buy this documentary anywhere as far as i can tell (if you could I'd point you to that rather than posting on YouTube). I can't imagine it'll be appearing on DVD anytime soon either, I'll leave you to figure out The Reasons Why.

Enjoy.

Related posts
The Cure - 4:13 Dream album review

Friday, 19 June 2009

King Biscuit Time - I Walk The Earth lyrics

King Biscuit Time - No Style
King Biscuit Time - No Style
Buy on Amazon
Lyrics to "I Walk The Earth" by King Biscuit Time from their second EP, No Style. I couldn't find the lyrics for this awesome tune online so here they are! Not in any way cheesy music, just quality indie.

King Biscuit Time is the solo project of Steve Mason who was lead singer of The Beta Band - As John Cusack's character in the High Fidelity film will tell you, check out the Beta Band compilation, The Three EPs if you've never heard their music before.

The basic drums, repetitive bass line and vocals make this an awesome song. Really uplifting too.

Facts
On EP: No Style / Buy on Amazon
Released: 19 June 2000
More info: Wikipedia / Official site / Discogs

I'm not definite on two lyrics, comment if you think they're wrong. First one is "Take me a day", could it be "take me all day"? Second one is "Hey, knock me," which i first thought was "Hey, not me" but changed to "knock" after reading a comment by ironman9 on the YouTube music video.

I Walk The Earth lyrics
Artist: King Biscuit Time

When I walk through the earth,
I get stuck in the middle,
I can't see your love,
I don't know your love.

When I walk through the earth,
I get stuck in the middle,
I can't see your love,
I don't know your love.

Why won't you take me away?
Take me a day,
Keep on rising higher.

Why won't you take me away?
Take me a day,
Keep on rising higher.

Chorus x 8
Hey, knock me,
Picking on your own reality.

When I walk through the earth,
I get stuck in the middle,
I can't see your love,
I don't know your love.

When I walk through the earth,
I get stuck in the middle,
I can't see your love,
I don't know your love.

Why won't you take me away?
Take me a day,
Keep on rising higher.

Why won't you take me away?
Take me a day,
Keep on rising higher.

Chorus x 8
Hey, knock me,
Picking on your own reality.

Instrumental break

Chorus to fade
Hey, knock me,
Picking on your own reality.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Icehouse - Hey Little Girl single review

Hey Little girl is a slice of 'could not be anything but' 80s electro pop. Practically bursting at the lycra'd seams (watch the ballet music video) with synthesisers this Aussie band stormed to number 17 in the UK charts in February 1983.

Think Talk Talk, Tears for Fears and the more electronic Bryan Ferry stuff and you'll know what you're in for. Led from formation in 1977 to the present by the now blond headed Iva Davies (previously known to try out every hair crime of the 80s) Icehouse has had no less than 22 band members come and go over their 32 year history. World famous in Australia, Hey Little Girl was their best assault on the UK top 40, although they did reappear, just, 5 years later with their single Crazy. I don't recommend listening to this one though, there are far better things to do with 4 minutes.


The many hairs of Iva Davies
Iva Davies in 1978Iva Davies in 1982
Iva Davies in 1983
Iva Davies in 1985
Fuzzy
hair
Greasy
hair
Astley
hair
Hoddle
hair
Iva Davies in 1988
Iva Davies in 1990
Iva Davies in 1995
Iva Davies in 2008
Wet wet
hair
Pantene
hair
Raver
hair
Dyed
hair

Like so many half decent tracks of the 1980s with a riff or chorus that propel the tunes from dodgy Soho 2am fodder to worth playing at an 80s spandex night, Hey Little Girl has an annoyingly catchy little chorus,
Hey little girl,
Where will you hide?
Who can you run to now?
Hey little girl,
Where will you go?
Who can you turn to now?
The verses? The rest of the song? Meh. Let's stick to the chorus. Remember Waiting for a Star to Fall by Boy Meets Girl? Of course you do, but which bit? Go on, sing me the verse, I bet you can't... Perhaps the reason why the Cabin Crew remix of that particular tune in 2005 discarded the verses completely and just repeated the chorus over and over again.

I mention this because Hey Little Girl by Icehouse is certainly due a remix (the remixes I’ve heard are all rubbish, and I’m sure that's because they all maintain the verses), I reckon a Cabin Crew-esque reimagining and chorus looping could body-pop it back onto the dance floor.

Facts
Single released October 1982
UK chart position: 17
Original album: Primitive Man \ Buy on Amazon
Listen on Last FM
More info: Wikipedia \ Discogs \ Lyrics \ Fan site

Where I have it:
Track 2, Disc 8, Greatest Hits of the 80s - Album review \ Buy on Amazon

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Thin Lizzy - Whisky In The Jar air guitar

We got the band back together last week to have a jamming session to Whisky In The Jar by Thin Lizzy. Vaguely in time and using the latest Fender air guitar and Pearl air drum we played a few bars.

We're clearly in need of more studio time, plus a vocalist, bass guitarist and air triangulist will be needed before we venture out into public again.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Wang Chung - To Live And Die In L.A. OST album review

Wang Chung - To Live And Die In L.A. OST
Wang Chung
To Live And Die In L.A.
Buy on Amazon
If I was to say to you that Wang Chung, the 80s new wave group, best known for #21 hit Dance Hall Days and the disco classic Everybody Have Fun Tonight, had produced a soundtrack album I’d expect, like me, you'd consider the film itself to be the biggest load of crap since the day after King Kong had a night on the Guinness and a kebab.

Wang Chung's music takes advantage of the electronic sounds that burst into the 80s, such as drum machines, keyboards and no doubt keytars given the chance. As such the two aforementioned hits wouldn't be out of place in a set that also included Duran Duran, Simple Minds and The Human League.

Luckily I watched the film before I’d been introduced to Wang Chung so had no preconceived ideas about gorilla excrement. Directed by William Friedkin (of Exorcist and French Connection fame) it's a wonderful clash of 80's exuberant greed mixed with a down to earth cynical honesty provided through the dusty realism of an L.A. backdrop and seat gripping action that probably wakes Bruce Willis at night in a jealous cold sweat. This post isn't a film review (I’ll link to a decent one once my friend gZa writes it) so I’ll now leave the over-adjectised sentences to the professionals and get on to the music.

Friedkin states he commissioned Wang Chung to compose an original soundtrack because they stand "out from the rest of contemporary music." If I was standing next to him when he made this outlandish statement in 1985 I may well have given him a slap and told him to listen to a different radio station. However what becomes clear from listening to the soundtrack is that beneath the 80 cheese of the Wang Chung sound Friedkin has deftly identified a quality to Wang Chung's music that reflects everything that the film portrays, in fact it adds to it.

Wang Chung
The members of
Wang Chung
Yes it's cheesy, to an extent, and that plays perfectly with Willem Dafoe's black Ferrari but it also has that grimy edge that made New Wave such a popular genre. The side of New Wave that rockier bands such as Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Cure and The Psychedelic Furs wallowed in so magnificently. The grime that, in this film, leads us through an often violent narrative on the edge of the law summed up by William L. Petersen's line:

"Let me tell you something, amigo. I'm gonna bag Masters, and I don't give a shit how I do it."
1. To Live and Die in L.A.
The title track is a light ode to this exciting thriller and gives you a taste of what might be coming. Every time I hear this I think of the album cover, the red sun setting on a palm tree littered L.A. wasteland.

2. Lullaby
This starts with a verse that despite its title makes me think of waking up and the sun coming up on this dangerous and glamorous world. A jumpy, fresh verse contrasts with a straight out of the 80s ballady chorus that takes you from the waking world to blasting along desert roads in a convertible, presumably while $50 notes and loose cocaine blows out from the back seat.

3. Wake Up, Stop Dreaming
And after my waking dream in Lullaby I’m told exactly what to do by a grittier foot tapping track. "I'm talkin' 'bout dream and reality, I'm talkin' 'bout love and brutality" - lyrics that could be used on the film poster.

4. Wait
The only non-original track on the album. This was originally on their second album, Points on the Curve. This plays over the closing credits of the film and is an appropriate place for it. I say that as I’m reminded of something I heard while listening to the extras DVD for 1994 film The Crow - they had a completely original soundtrack so that the first time people heard a track was when watching the film. They didn't want the viewer to get distracted thinking of the first time they'd heard that tune (at a disco or on the radio). The songs were also more relevant as they were written for the film. All the other album tracks for To Live and Die In L.A. were written after Wang Chung had seen a rough cut of the film so it makes sense that the one song that wasn't isn't placed directly over the action.

Car chase from To Live And Die In L.A. film
A scene from
the car chase
5. City of the Angels
This is the first tune on side two of the original LP release. These last four tracks are all instrumental. After an atmospheric intro this tune takes off at 1:07 and brings back the memories to me of the car chase and excitement that follows the relentless pursuit for Defoe's character Masters. Like with many an instrumental soundtrack the tunes are designed to run with the action so on their own you can be left thinking, what happened in this bit again? I could just watch the film again but this is an album review and as such I’m looking at this as an independent entity.

6. The Red Stare
It's amazing music's ability to inspire emotion and this song is depressing, and as it goes on slightly scary. The screaming synth, slow piano and 'whooshy' noises will freak you out if you play this loud.

7. Black-Blue-White
OK, we're back on it with Black-Blue-White. The city's flashing past, sirens burst and that drum machine is threatening to take over again as I nurse my bruises. I've got that mix of 80s cheese that I love so much with a certain urgency in the drum beat that's making me type faster. If I had a gun, an open shirt and a hairy chest I’d jump behind a wall now, dripping sweat and lean out to try to spot a moving dot on the horizon that was slowly making his way toward me.

8. Every Big City
I'd be very surprised if Friedkin hadn't had Bladerunner in his head, even to just a tiny extent when he was making this film. This track reminds me of the dark satanic rain soaked towers of that Harrison Ford classic. Its suggestive and repetitive audio sample 'jump, jump' builds through the track. It suggests not only the physical action likely in any chase scene but also the metaphor that if it's all too much why not leave it all behind. After all, who really cares in the end, we all die, let's get on with life.

Facts
Album released September 1985
More info: Wikipedia \ Film on IMDB

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Which Christmas compilation album has the best songs?

It's been months since my last update so I figured I’d go festive. I've set out to find the ultimate Christmas pop and cheese compilation album. There are some songs that must be on the ultimate compilation album and so I’ve merged the worlds of Christmas, cheese and my inherent geekness to create a table of where you'll find them. The album that gets the most ticks in the right places wins the Maverick Christmas compilation award.

Now the list of songs I’m choosing are completely subjective but to attempt to give it a vague basis I’ll start with the first Christmas album I ever listened to, 1985's original "Now - The Christmas Album". To this I’ll add a number of more recent classics and a couple of forgotten pop treasures (helped by this list of 100 top Christmas songs).

I have deliberately left off most of the early 'classics' such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Andy Williams etc as they tend to be on classic Christmas albums rather than pop ones anyway (with the notable exception of the great Bing). Try "Christmas With The Rat Pack" for that sort of thing. Anything else left off there's probably a damn good reason, feel free to argue with me...

The albums I’ll be comparing are as follows. They're mostly 2008 (they all get re-released every year) but i've also chucked in a few almost identical ones from other years just to see how they compare. Most of the images link through to their listing on Amazon.

Now - That's What I Call Music - The Christmas Album1. Now - That's What I Call Music - The Christmas Album
Released: 1985
Label: Virgin/EMI
Format: Double LP
As mentioned above, my original Christmas album that I own on a slightly battered double LP. It also has the dubious honour of being the only album containing Garry Glitter's Another Rock N' Roll Christmas or Queen's Thank God It's Christmas - very different reasons why. You'll find all the Now albums also don't contain any traditional Christmas carols sung by a choir (although they do if sung by a pop star or crooner).

Now That's What I Call Xmas2. Now That's What I Call Xmas
Released: 2008
Label: Virgin TV
Format: 3CD
The latest version of the classic Now series, will it stack up to 1985's cheesefest? As you'll find with most of the multi CD albums, they do have a selection of classics but also are full of lots and lots of rubbish Christmas pop stocking fillers that really should be burnt.

Now Xmas: Massive Christmas Hits3. Now XMAS: Massive Christmas Hits
Released: 2005
Label: Virgin TV
Format: 1CD
The 2005 Now compilation. The only other compilation i own after the 1985 double LP. I do think the original Now logo was a lot funkier.

Christmas Hits - 2008 release4. Christmas Hits
Released: 2008
Label: SonyBMG
Format: 4CD
The second biggest compilation of them all with a bumper 84 tracks. However the last CD of this is carols sung by a variety of cathedral choirs.

Christmas Hits - 2006 release5. Christmas Hits
Released 2006
Label BMG TV
Format 3CD
The 2006 version of the Christmas Hits, doesn't have the 4th CD of carols. The 3 CDs it does have aren't identical to the 2008 one either (although it does have much of the same stuff).

101 Christmas Songs6. 101 Christmas Songs
Released 2008
Label EMI
Format 4CD
The biggest compilation of them all with, you guessed it, 101 tunes (I counted). This also has a selection of carols sung by a choir, clearly there are only enough Christmas pop songs to ever fill 3 CDs

The Best Christmas Album in the World Ever7. The Best Christmas Album in the World Ever
Released 2007
Label EMI/Virgin
Format 2CD
As far as i can tell they haven't re-released this album this year so i'm using the most recent - last year's. Also has a few carols


Now
'85
Now
'08
Now
'05
Hits
'08
Hits
'06
101Best
Ever
Band Aid - Do They Know It's Christmas? (1984)XX

X
X
Wizzard - I Wish It Could Be Christmas EverydayXXX

XX
Slade - Merry Xmas EverybodyXXX


X
Wham! - Last ChristmasX

XX
X
Elton John - Step Into ChristmasXXX
X

Mike Oldfield - In Dulce JubiloXXX


X
Gary Glitter - Another Rock N' Roll ChristmasX





Paul McCartney - Wonderful ChristmastimeXXX

XX
Shakin' Stevens - Blue ChristmasX

XX

John Lennon - Happy Xmas (War Is Over)XXX

XX
Greg Lake - I Believe in Father ChristmasXXX
X
X
Chris de Burgh - A Spaceman Came TravellingXXX


X
Jona Lewie - Stop The CavalryXXXXXXX
The Beach Boys - Little Saint NickXXX


X
Queen - Thank God It's ChristmasX





Mud - Lonely This ChristmasXX


XX
Johnny Mathis - When a Child is Born (Soleado)X


X

Bing Crosby - White ChristmasXXX


X
Pogues & Kirsty MacColl - Fairytale of New York
X
XX

Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping
XX


X
Michael Ball - Driving Home For Christmas
XX



Chris Rea - Driving Home For Christmas


XX

Cliff Richard - Mistletoe and Wine
XX

XX
Aled Jones - Walking In The Air
X

XXX
Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas


XX

Bing Crosby & David Bowie - Little Drummer Boy
X

XXX
Shakin' Stevens - Merry Christmas Everyone


XX


Now
'85
Now
'08
Now
'05
Hits
'08
Hits
'06
101Best
Ever

So, to summarize this year's Now and last year's Best Christmas Album in the World Ever seem to be the most comprehensive. Both miss absolute classics though, the 2008 Now album not having Wham! and Best Christmas Album in the World Ever not having the Pogues (neither have Maria Carey). However if you accept that you'll have to download a couple of your faves on their own these are the best bet.

Christmas Hits fails to have most of the 70s or 80s classics while 101 Christmas Songs wins the prize for being the worst. Jona Lewie fans can at least rejoice that they could buy any of the 7 albums, dub a dub a dum dum .

So the Maverick Christmas Compilation award goes to 2008's Now That's What I Call Xmas. The fact that it doesn't have Wham! should never be a problem for cheesy music lovers as you all already own Wham! - The Final (their greatest hits), and if you don't, you should. Merry Christmas Everyone.

Monday, 27 October 2008

The Cure - 4:13 Dream album review

This makes it into my top ten Cure albums (beating Wild Mood Swings, The Cure and The Top) and one that I’m sure will just get better the more I hear it - as with most Cure albums - 1980's Seventeen Seconds is still improving with each listen.
The Cure - 4:13 Dream
4:13 Dream - The Cure
Buy on Amazon

Favourite album track - 7. The Hungry Ghost
Favourite single(s) - 9. The Perfect Boy & 11. Sleep When I'm Dead (I can't decide!)

Underneath The Stars - The album kicks off with the atmospheric "Underneath The Stars" which sounds like something straight off of 1989's Disintegration. The echoey guitars, and the slow but strong drum beat remind me of Plainsong, Last Dance and Prayers For Rain while the wind chime sounding bells could almost be a sample straight from Pictures Of You. It also follows a similar balance of vocal to music as the Disintegration album tracks, with the vocal not leading the song but almost sounding like an extra instrument - this is in stark contrast to some of the more vocal led singles like Sleep When I'm Dead. Towards the end of the song it also features the reverbing guitar melody that I haven't heard since Wish, I’m glad it's back.

The Only One - described in many reviews as the 'back to the classic Cure pop single'. No chance! This is as far removed from Close To Me, The Lovecats, Friday I'm In Love and In Between Days (which I consider Cure pop) as the first track was. It's certainly upbeat but it's very much in the vein of the recent Cure singles off the previous album (The Cure) such as Taking Off. This one needs a few more listens before I really know whether I like it or I just consider it a poor imitation of Taking Off. I do love the final lyrics of the song though "Oh I love, Oh I love, Oh I love, What you do to me."

The Reasons Why - The last Cure song to have a first line as good as this was the first track on Pornography - One Hundred Years - that led you straight into the album with "It doesn't matter if we all die". Robert's clearly lost his worldly distress and is far more self focussed penning the classic, "I won't try to bring you down about my suicide" - well that's kind of him. If Underneath The Stars reminded me that Robert hadn't lost his knack at poignant lyrics, this track reminds me that he's still got a (sick) sense of humour, I love it.

Freakshow - The weakest single and weakest live performance if you believe all the talk on blogs. I must admit that when I saw this live back in March I decided beer was more interesting and went to the bar after the first couple of verses but it's getting better. I remember first listening to Wild Mood Swings and thinking 'What the f*ck?!' and that album has grown on me over 10 years. It's possible however that this single will be moved to the back of my Cure single collection next to Wrong Number.

Sirensong - Unlike the previous four tracks I can't compare this to previous Cure. It's very different sounding and lyrically to anything that's gone before. I really hope the Cure keep exploring different avenues in their music if they make any more albums. It was for this reason that I loved Bloodflowers which I felt was quite a change from the usual when it was released.

The Real Snow White - This bored me. Although I do like the amusingly dubious lyrics, "You're not the real Snow White, The real Snow White is on my knee, I didn't need to get ID, It's simply minimum height, And getting all dressed up, In seven ways to please, Yeah."

The Hungry Ghost - At this early stage (on my 4th listen to the album!) this is the stand out track on the album for me. It's got everything I love about the Cure, it's full of screamingly vivid lyrics, every verse runs off into the distance on the back of a foot tapping rhythm and the guitar takes off through every chorus. I really want to hear this track live.

Switch - The beginning of Switch reminds you Smith is a Hendrix fan. A rocking track throughout, but that intro is the best bit.

The Perfect Boy - I've become a huge fan of the Fall Out Boy remix of this on the Hypnagogic States EP as it turns a great single into a tune that fits well into a DJ night dance mix. The first bars of the remix also bear a striking resemblance to the equally good in a DJ set, Valerie cover by Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse. Anyway as a result I listen to this original track and keep thinking how I prefer the remix. I want to force myself to like this partly because I love The Perfect Girl from Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me even though this sounds nothing like it - not a great reason but I feel like The Perfect Girl and The Perfect Boy must go together. Presumably forming The Perfect Couple?

This. Here and Now. With You - Urgh, not sure about this one. There are always a few album tracks that you feel like skipping. I often find with these that they then become my favourite tracks on the album a couple of years on. So watch this space.

Sleep When I'm Dead - A bit like Sirensong in that I loved this single for the fact it seems to take the Cure down a different path to what you'd usually expect. I can't imagine this on Head on the Door at all - the album this was apparently originally written for. Pity there are no studio demos of this track kicking about from 1985 so we can do a then and now comparison. The guitars do have a nice Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me feel to them - think Shiver and Shake.

The Scream - Great things often begin with a 'the' - The Cure, The Kiss, The Snakepit, The Lovecats, The Head on the Door, The Blood, The Baby Screams, The Drowning Man... And this adds to the album the angry, shouting, standing on the roof of a church howling at the moon song that we all know Robert Smith has in him. So much better than the Michael / Janet Jackson song of the same name (sorry).

It's Over - Get it? Jason Cooper has excelled himself on the final tune of the album. The drums and the bass completely drive this song and hold their own against the wall of sound guitars and breakneck vocal. The song finishes with the lyrics "Oh, I can't do this anymore, No, I can't do this anymore", which I hope isn't a reference to this being a last Cure album. I doubt it, as Robert himself has said he'll continue doing what he enjoys and at the moment that's the Cure. Plus I remember feeling the same in 2000 when listening to the 39 lyrics on Bloodflowers, "The fire is almost out and there's nothing left to burn..." Well you're still burning Bob, long may it continue.

The only thing that's missing from this album? - Trumpets! Come on Bob, you know you love trumpets, give us a single with trumpets, lots of them.