Archive for May, 2011

May 29, 2011

Apocalypse Now (Cinema)

“There were too many of us, we had access to too much equipment, too much money, and little by little we went insane” – Francis Ford Coppola, Cannes 1979

The opportunity to see Francis Ford Coppola’s newly remastered 1979 epic ‘Apocalypse Now’ on the big screen was one that could not be missed. The screening I saw at the BFI’s NFT1 featured crystal clear surround sound and a majestically large screen to witness the full-scale of this masterpiece. The film is presented exactly as it was shown in 1979 without any credits before or after, the lights simply go down as the sound of rota blades begin to swirl around your head and your journey into the “Heart of darkness” begins.

I must have watched my ‘Apocalypse Now’ DVD 30 times over the years, but now for the first time I saw it as it was meant to be seen, in the cinema. The final scene where Kurt’s army bow down to their new god had a dreadful power I’d never experienced before and seeing the film with an audience revealed how much dark humour there is. I was obviously excited to see the helicopter attack in all its Wagnerian glory and the deafening explosions and sweeping camera shotsdon’t disappoint. This scene highlights the profound conundrum Coppola placed at the film’s heart, that war is inhuman but it’s also thrilling on an primeval level.

Also, finally the super-deluxe Blu-Ray box set I’ve been drooling over from America is coming to Region 2 on the 13th of June. It features not only the original and extended cuts but also the award-winning ‘Hearts Of Darkness’ documentary and what looks like about 3 days of bonus materials chronicling the film’s arduous production.

Here’s a few of ‘Apocalypse Now’ related mp3s:

Nicky Wire – Break My Heart Slowly mp3
UNKLE – UNKLE (Main Title Theme) mp3
Flash Cadillac – Suzie Q mp3

May 29, 2011

Gil Scott-Heron 1949 – 2011

May 22, 2011

TT3D: Closer To The Edge (Cinema)

I finally managed to find a showing of ‘TT3D: Closer To The Edge’ that fitted into my plans (After a month of meaning to see it) at the Genesis Cinema in Whitechapel.

The documentary follows a number of motorbike riders as they prepare for and then compete in the legendary 2010 Isle Of Man TT.  The star of the film is motor-mouth Yorkshireman Guy Martin (Above), with his love of speed providing the drama on the course and his gob causing trouble back in the paddock. It’s a beautifully filmed doc with long composed shots of the thrilling racing and breathtaking scenery.

It’s a film about living life to the full knowing that the next corner could be your last.  If you don’t know the result of the 2010 race, I won’t give anything away (You can spoil it for yourself with a quick google search if you want to!) so you’ll just have to go see the film to see who wins and loses, lives and dies…

I haven’t listened to this song for ages:

The Rumble Strips – Motorcycle mp3

May 20, 2011

What I’ve Been Listening To, 20th May 2011

DELS’ album ‘GOB’ features guest appearances and production credits from luminaries like Joe Goddard, Kwes and Roots Manuva. Highlight ‘Capsize’ is an anthem for life in modern-day Britain featuring swipes at the Tories, Bankers and the Tabloids:

DELS – Capsize mp3

Focus’ 1972 appearance on The Old Grey Whistle test has long been one of my all time favourites. Watch below as Guitarist Jan Akkerman pisses himself laughing at the yodeling even as he plays some face melting guitar…

It was buying the box-set of the magnificent sitcom Saxondale (Focus provide most of the music) that lead me to check out their excellent ‘Best Of’. Focus dance a merry jig at the crossroads leading to Jazz, Metal, Prog and medieval Folk:

Focus – Hocus Pocus mp3

I’d heard Tyler, The Creator’s skills were impressive and his recent Camden show was nearly a riot. I’d also heard his rhymes had “The potential to offend”, to put it politely. All this is true and it’s up to you if you take his rhymes as irony i.e. genius or serious i.e. massively offensive (personally I’d go for the former). Here’s my favourite cut from his new LP ‘Goblin’:

Tyler, The Creator – Tron Cat mp3

Gablé’s 2nd long-player is an even crazier journey into tripped-out Folk, sampling and twisted lyrical imagery than his first. At one point a random polka sample cuts in, before the song carries on as if you just dreamt it. This is an album for lovers of ambitious experimental double LPs that take you on a journey (DO NOT listen on shuffle… experience it, er… man!?!):

Gablé – 0000 mp3

I’ve yet to see the new ‘Upisde Down’ documentary about the history of Creation records but I bought a copy of the soundtrack. Among the obvious cuts by Oasis, The Boo Radleys and Primal Scream are some less familiar gems to saviour:

The House Of Love – Shine On mp3
The Jazz Butcher – Girl Go mp3

Quite unaccountably I’ve never listened to note one of the B52’s before. I was missing out as their suave blend of angular New-Wave and 50’s Rock’n’Roll nostalgia is right up my street. Check out their faultless 1979 debut album for cuts like this:

The B-52’s – Planet Claire mp3

Ghostpoet’s wittily titled album ‘Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam’ is a landscape of sparse beats and introspective rhymes. There are many great tracks but for my money this the best:

Ghostpoet – Finished I Ain’t mp3

I’ve finally digested the free ‘Camden Crawl 2011’ Compilation issued to attendees. It’s got a fairly high hit rate, quality wise with the following being my favourites (Although I didn’t  actually see either of these acts, oh well):

Benjamin Francis Leftwich – More Than Letters mp3
RD – Do It Like Me mp3

‘D-I-Y’ is yet another interesting and well researched compilation from Soul Jazz Records. It’s aim is to dig out rare and essential post-punk independent music from back in the day. Standout tracks include:

SPB – All Your Life With Me mp3
Patrik Fitzgerald – Babysitter mp3

EMA’s musical world melds the hymnal noise of Spiritualized, The Velvet Underground’s more Avant-Garde moments and the beat-poetry of Patti Smith. ‘Past Life Martyred Saints’ is an album to listen to in the dark so you wallow in its rumbling, emotional soundscapes:

EMA – California mp3

May 16, 2011

The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adèle Blanc-Sec (Cinema)

I arrived at Rough Trade to see Tennessee band Mona do an in-store only to discover they hadn’t turned up. The guy at the counter said a sore throat meant they had to cancel the performance so they agreed to do a signing instead. Except they later decided they couldn’t be bothered with that either so cancelled that too. With Mona resolutely inked into my black books I cast around for something else to do…

‘The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adèle Blanc-Sec’ is the latest offering from the occasionally patchy hand of French Director/Visionary Luc Besson. Fortunately this movie is up there with his best work. It’s a comic-fantasy-adventure melding the quirky humour of ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’, the excitement of ‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark’ and the fantastical vision of Besson’s own ‘The Fifth Element’ (I wonder if the Aziz in this film is the father of the “More light Aziz” character from The Fifth Element?!?!?). Since these are three of the greatest movies ever made I had allot of fun watching this. The CGI characters are lifelike and funny, Louise Bourgoin is heart-stoppingly gorgeous as Adèle and the cliffhanger that sets up a possible sequel is a masterstroke!

The film is based on the long running French Comic book by Jacques Tardi.  I will have to try and track down some copies of the few volumes that have been translated into English.

May 15, 2011

Hanna (Cinema)

The idea of sitting in a darkened room for two hours watching Keira Knightley try to act has never appealed to me, so consequently I’ve never seen a Joe Wright film. But I thought I’d give his new one ‘Hanna’ a try as it sounded like quite a departure from his previous costume-drama offerings and starred the sensational young Irish actress Saoirse Ronan. Saoirse will be familiar to anyone who’s seen Peter Jackson’s critically mauled ‘The Lovely Bones’ in which her subtle lead performance was by far the best element.  The supporting cast is magnificent too, with Cate Blanchett revelling in her wicked-witch CIA role, Tom Hollander as a deliciously creepy shellsuit wearing hitman and relative newcomer Jessica Barden is hilarious as a precocious teen. The Chemical Brothers provide a pumping Dance soundtrtack.

Without giving too much away about the plot, Hanna is a young girl who has spent her whole life living in a secluded wood-cabin with her mysterious father.  He has taught Hanna to be the ultimate assassin and only when she is ready will her mission start.  Her father has a few books including ‘Grimm’s Fairytales’ and encyclopedias with which he has educated her.  Of course when she ultimately encounters the outside world she finds the books have prepared her little for the buzzing of electricity, the beating of drums and the forging of friendships.

It is this dizzying baptism into real life that informs Wrights film.  One moment it’s a pulsating action flick then a road-movie, a coming-of-age drama, a trippy fairytale, a social study and a wickedly funny sitcom.  The audience I saw it with loved it, all laughing at different moments and gasping at the violence in others. I left feeling that I’d just watched 4 or five films together and all of them brilliant.

May 13, 2011

Dan Sartain – Legacy Of Hospitality / Dan Sartain Lives: The Motion Picture (Compilation CD/DVD)

This blog has long been singing the praises of Dan Sartain’s catalogue of Rock’a’Billy/Rock’n’Roll and Surf-Guitar Music (‘P.C.B. 98’ being declared the 23rd best song ever). His new rarities compilation ‘Legacy Of Hospitality’ contains extensive liner notes revealing that between 2006’s ‘Join Dan Sartain’ and 2010’s ‘Dan Sartain Lives’, Dan recorded a self-produced and unreleased LP called ‘Crimson Cinema Of Death’. However, his label One Little Indian thought that Dan could do better with the help of Garage-Rock production legend Liam Watson. It’s a matter of debate whether the rougher versions here are better or worse than the marginaly more polished versions on ‘Dan Sartain Lives’. But Dan has a history of releasing multiple versions of his tracks (Some of the cuts on this compilation are the fourth version I own), so the real reason to own this set is because each take he does has its own character, tension, dynamics and flavour.

The compilation includes tracks from ‘Crimson Cinema Of Death’ and a wealth of other material. 9 of the 21 tracks/versions included here have never been released before anywhere, while a further 6 have only previously been available on the excellent 2005 tour-only rarities compilation ‘Sartain Family Legacy’ (Which I’ve got a lovely handmade copy of). The other 7 tracks are culled from various independent 7″s and compilations. As a bonus there is a new documentary called ‘Dan Sartain Lives: The Motion Picture’ following the man performing live round the world.  The DVD also includes all his music videos so far.

Maybe after he’s done his next LP on his own I’d love him to cut a full LP with Jack White as I think the two songs he released on Third-Man are production wise, his best so far.

Here are a few of my favourite rare Sartain gems not included on this CD (Or anywhere else at the minute!):

Goodnight mp3 (From ‘Romance In Stereo’ LP)
K-Car mp3 (From ‘Romance In Stereo’ LP)
This Is How They Beat You Down (Demo) mp3 (Longer early version)
Not The Boy She Knew mp3 (From ‘Sartain Family Legacy’ Compilation)
When You See Me Coming mp3 (B-side of ‘Gun Vs. Knife’ 7″)
Thought It Over (Demo) mp3 (Gentler early version with some different lyrics)

May 9, 2011

13 Assasins (Cinema)

I just went to see Takashi Miike’s ’13 Assassins’ at the Curzon Soho. It’s a classically made Samurai film in the Kurosawa mold. The basic plot is that the successor to the Shogun is a psychotic monster and a group of Samurai is hired to kill him at any costs.

I’m an avid fan of Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima’s epic ‘Lone Wolf & Cub’ Manga. This is the first film I’ve seen that fully captures the way of the Bushi with the same spirit as that great work. The film, like the comic has a deep reverence for the nobility of the Samurai in their strict devotion to Bushido even while exposing the absurd lengths to which it can lead it’s followers. Both works explore the notion that a true Samurai would fight to his last breath to protect his master, even if he despises his master with the very same breath.

Takashi slowly builds up the tension, scene by scene and character by character for the first two-thirds. Every rustle of silk, every wrench of leather and every drop of rain used in the masterful sound design adds to the suspense. In the final third it all explodes in a cathartic orgy of slicing Katanas. A lesser director would’ve shown a montage of the preparations for the showdown. But Miike shows you nothing, so like the terrified enemy you have no idea what the assassins have in store. The editing of this climactic battle is breathtaking, I never once lost track of the action even when the titular 13 assassins are all taking on 10 men a piece. Takeshi Miike… arigato.

On a sad final note it seems that 16 mins of footage was chopped out for the international cut I saw.  I’ve no idea where the trims were made, or even why they were made at all!?!?! Hopefully the Blu-Ray release will restore the full cut that Japanese audiences enjoyed last year.

May 9, 2011

Ghostpoet Live At Rough Trade, 9th May 2011

When Ghostpoet started playing a the back of Rough Trade East it was just me standing there watching. Luckily for him technical difficulties intervened after the first track and they retired for 20 mins to sort them out. By the time they came back on stage the shop was pretty much packed (Such is Bricklane punctuality!). The gig was free to promote his new single ‘Survive It’ and of course his brilliantly titled LP ‘Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam’. The set built track by track towards the final performance of the new single which I shot on my iPhone and you can watch it below.

May 9, 2011

Candi Staton Live At The Jazz Cafe, 7th May 2011

For me, the chance to see a soul legend like Candi Staton was too good to miss. Although I’d heard in the past she’d occasionally been average, so I was a just a big ball of hope and excitement when she took the stage. We managed to get right down the front, slap bang in front of the lady herself (Fortunately not so close that we we’re passed the mic to sing along… like the poor sod in front of me!).

Her band was simply stunning, cranking out Soul, Blues and Gospel music with guts. The Bass was funky, the Drums were powerful, the Backing vocals were graceful and Guitar solos were shredded. My disappointment at not having a good view of the impressive Bass Guitar work was off-set by it being obscured by the Eye-Meltingly long legs of one of the backing singers that Candi had employed.

Candi herself delivered a stunning performance with her voice sounding as rich and passionate as ever it has. She launched into classic after classic like ‘Suspicious Minds’, ‘I’d Rather Be An Old Man’s Sweetheart’ (See below), ‘In The Ghetto’ and of course ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ (I’d have loved to of heard ‘He Called Me Baby ‘, maybe next time.  She finished on a beautiful Gospel reading of ‘You Got The Love’ with a bit of the Jamie Principle Bass line woven in.

All the band members did a solo at end which were met with rapturous applause. As she left the stage they went into the Jamie Principle Bass part again and it was only a shame that they didn’t mine this groove for a bit longer. But hey you can’t have everything and we all got allot that night.

Candi’s complete recordings for the Fame label are finally being released on June 7th so click here to pre-order a copy.