Thursday, 30 June 2011

We’re The Band- Part umpteen

I used to live in Stoke Newington Church Street
with a friend and we paid a paltry weekly amount; I’m talking around a fiver a week. Because I was the newcomer to the abode I had the bigger room. This may seem strange, but this was the room with a hole in the ceiling, which for most of the time wasn’t a problem. When the heavens opened it was a different story altogether. During the winter it was cold though; very cold, bone numbingly cold. I can remember sleeping in a balaclava gloves and a scarf. This was because the flat faced the open expanse of Clissold Park, to the sounds of the animals that lived there in the menagerie of British wildlife. The bright sunshine streamed through my window on a summers morning which was great as I could waken with the rays of the sun invigorating me for the day ahead.
I feel for you
once in a lifetime
Stay a little while child
a couple of songs from those times
But back to the winter; when the waters came through my ceiling the only thing I could do was move my bed to the corner of the room, place a bucket underneath it and hope for the best. The rain and cold aside, my experience of sharing this flat with my friend (who remains close to this day) was a great one. We had everything we needed; a local pub, The Rose & Crown, a mere one hundred paces away, a launderette where a cheerful attendant would do our service washes, an excellent local Indian Restaurant Rice & Spice, the park opposite and a lovely main stretch in Stoke Newington Church Street. Highbury Stadium was also a ten minute walk away so what more could I ask for?
As an Islington boy this was all new to me. Of course I had been al over London to parties, girls’ houses and such but living out of borough took some adjustment. It was from this flat that I traveled to and from numerous jobs that took me from West Hampstead to Roseberry Avenue and from Holloway to The West End. This was done by bike for the most part and I often am in awe of my younger self at being able to ride across North London on a regular basis. Then there was the number 73 Bus; not as good as the immortal number 19 but it could get me from my flat to The Angel and the West End in rapid time.

My friend and I soon found, what I guess you would call, life partners; he is still with his missus, and I have been wed and unwed and all points in between.

I often recall those heady days in Stoke Newington and there is many a tale to be told, which I may go into at some other time. What came out of it were some good life experience and a long term friendship along with a lot of fun, laughter and good times. As I said before “what more could I have asked for?”

Wednesday, 29 June 2011


'AN RKO RADIO PICTURE', how I loved to see that message at the start of a movie, accompanied by the Morse code and expanding radio transmissions, or the silky art deco version or the plethora of subtle variations on the theme. I'm not going to go into a history or story of the company, just talk about how much I loved the movies they made. This was a label not as glamorous as MGM, not as gritty as Warner Brothers, not as famous as Paramount or 20th Century Fox but when one looks at some of the films associated with RKO there are an incredible amount of seminal and notable films.
Including two of the most famous movies ever released King Kong and Citizen Kane
King Kong
Cimmaron-The first western to win the Academy award for best picture
King Kong-one of the most iconic movies of all time
Top Hat- a classic Hollywood musical
Bringing up Baby-the benchmark of screwball comedy
Room Service-Classic Marx Brothers
The Hunchback of Notre Dame-yet to be bettered
Stranger on the Third Floor-Widely recognised as the first true Film Noir
Suspicion and Notorious-Hitchcock on great form
Cat People and I walked with a Zombie-seminal horror/Noir
Out of The Past and They live by night-Noir milestones
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon-integral to the Western movie cannon
Citizen Kane
As distributor RKO bought us such genuine classics as
Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Bambi and Dumbo, Citizen Kane,The Best Years of our lives, It's a Wonderful life and Rashomon
the best years of our lives
RKO movies had a certain feel, they were generally not too long and often featured Hollywood outsiders.It was in existense in it's full form mfor just thirty years which makes the list of movies all the more impressive.
Kings of the B movie, Champions of Film Noir, Art Deco dance masters, RKO was a great Company and I can remember settling into my chair at the sight of those three letters knowing I was in for a a movie that would be many things but always watchable.
Room Service
As Orson Welles said when commenting on the RKO design as his "favorite among the old logos, not just because it was so often a reliable portent. ... It reminds us to listen."
bringing up Baby

Tuesday, 28 June 2011


Freda Payne-Unhooked Generation

A Record from 1970, so good I bet you can't just play it once.

also a favourite sample of early Hip Hop helped push Freda back into the spotlight.


Yes, having said that Duke, Jay-Z had to have been allowed to play Glastonbury before she could have played. I don't think they could have done it t'other way round.

Fair enough,... vocal talents and all that but mate, come on. Was she attempting to connect with the common folk via her pal 'Steve' and his birthday song? And Tricky? Sheeeeeeeee-it!


wellyousaythat responds

That's those pesky yanks for ya. 
Tricky, however I've chosen to ignore, he was akin to a interloper who, once he'd reached the stage and not been thrown off didn't quite know what to do. 
On a serious note I was getting a bit pissed off by the 'serious' rock pundits who look down their noses at black music, talking about the fact they watched Queens of the stone age instead ( they played at the same time on another stage)
Beyonce is just the latest in a line of black American performers who put on a show love or hate em. That's just the yank showbiz way and give me that any day above Poe faced Rock snobbery. 


Monday, 27 June 2011


Giving her all: The star drew from both her solo and her Destiny's Child back catalogue, as well as covering tracks by the likes of Prince, Kings Of Leon and Alanis Morissette
Beyonce-Check her credentials

Beyonce played Glastonbury last night and it's fair to say she stole the show; and that's what it was, a show. Entertainment as only the talented can produce and Ms Knowles is that; talented.

While I would question the longevity of some of her material what I won't question is her vocal ability. On the less formulaic numbers last night she was as good vocally as anyone else out there. Her set included songs by Kings of Leon, Eurythnics, Etta James and Donna Summer. Her all female band were extraordinarily good and she certainly offered value for money during her 90 minute set.

Yes there were the American Diva moments of crowd interactions but there is something likable about her that allowed those moments to not be cringe inducing.
When Beyonce lets loose with her voice you understand her talents and she is physically quite a stage presence and undeniably attractive. If you compare the epitome of the festival band, U2 and their lead singer Bono; where he is a cold proffessional Beyonce performs as if a vocation.

Particular stand outs were Why don't you love me, during which you could see the interaction and chemistry between Beyonce and her band. When she sang At Last she displayed her vocal control and feeling for the words. Lest we forget, Beyonce is a hell of a singer and it's all too easy to draw comparrison with the greats of yesterday but, right here right now there are few that can touch her. Surely an album of classics must be coming soon; her performance in Dream girls showed she has the feel for the songs of the past.
Why dont you love me

The rapturous audience certainly didn't give a fig about the supposed 'controversy' of her headlining what is essentially a Rock festival, and in seeing a glitzy and slick show featuring an actual superstar perhaps they were reminded of the roots of popular music; the black American artists who had talent and a work ethic.
the show on BBC iPlayer


Directed by Oliver Stone with music by Ennio Morricone this 1997 film features a strong cast of  Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Lopez, Powers Boothe, Claire Danes, Joaquin Phoenix, Jon Voight, Billy Bob Thornton, Bo Hopkins, Julie Hagerty, Laurie Metcalf and Liv Tyler.

U Turn Trailer

Three years earlier  Red Rock West was directed by John Dahl and stars Nicolas Cage, Dennis Hopper, Lara Flynn Boyle, Dwight Yoakam and JT Walsh

Red Rock west Trailer

A stranger rides into town; it's a familiar cinematic device most commonly associated with westerns, in these two movies we see that idea transported to modern day with a touch of film Noir in each. Both feature strangers in strange towns, murder plots, femme fatales and many a quirky twist. Dahl's film is what has come to be called a Neo Noir, further refined in his other hit the excellent Last Seduction. Stone's movie is more fractured with expressive use of the camera and great technique. Red Rock West features a collection of David Lynch alumni and in this aspect of casting it has a off kilter edge. U Turn follows on from Stone's earlier foray into a different style of film making that he used in Natural Born killers. Both have a strong lead who is more anti Hero than purely heroic and both have representatives from the 'never trust a dame' school. There are grand goignol caharacters in both towns and cross alongside double cross. Superior Arizona and Red Rock Wyoming are modern day Wild West Towns that have layers of intrigue hiden beneath the dusty streets and in some senses the movies are more like inbred cousins than siblings.

Sunday, 26 June 2011


The Cast: The Driver, The Cop, The Player. Existential thriller from the severley under rated Walter Hill. Unsung and excellent. Ryan O'Neal has never been better. Bruce Dern is the obsessive Cop and Isabelle Adjani the Dame. Michael Mann must have watched this 1978 movie; you can see it in his work, especially HEAT. Other characters are also cyphers; Teeth, Glasses, The Connection, Fingers and Split. It's a cold movie set in a neon lit LA but it has a hypnotic quality and is a fine example of a precursor to the style of many of Hollywood's creative stylists
destroying the Merc

Saturday, 25 June 2011


The great Peter Falk 1927-2011

Starred in some of my favourite movies and of course the irreplacable Columbo, which still stands up today. He had a great natural feel for comedy and I have just watched some footage of him in his humorous guise. Above all Falk was a geat actor; one of the best and his performances were always good, always on the money.

"eh... just one more thing before I go..."

Murder by Death
A woman under the influence
The Cheap Detective
The Princess Bride
The In Laws


Fans of Paul Weller, of which I am one, Love The Jam and dig his solo work, The Style Council is what divides fans. Their output was sprinkled with some pretty good stuff. Weller tried to create a Jazz/Pop/Soul hybrid as if to emulate all those great 7” singles that came out of Detroit, New York and Philadelphia.
My favourite of there’s  is With Everything to Lose a dinner Jazz pastry with a filling of eighties left wing political observation. It's taken from their best album Our favourite Shop. This is an album that contains some great songs like The Lodgers, All gone away, Walls come tumbling down and Come to Milton Keynes and is very much the accessible face of the growing dissatisfaction amongst the country's music listeners who had gotten into ' a little bit of politics'.It's nearest comparable content was The Specials' In The Studio album released the following year.
With Everything to Lose was an alternative take of their hit Have you ever had it Blue which was ostensibly a love song.
From the playground to the wasteground
Hope ends at 17 -
Sweeping floors and filling shelves
Forced into government schemes -
11 years spent to dig out ditches,
Forget your school day dreams -
Guarantees and lie-filled speeches,
But nothings what it seems -
Qualified and patronised and with everything to lose.
No choice or chance for the future
The rich enjoy less tax -
Dress the girls in pretty pink
The shit goes to the blacks
A generation’s heart torn out
And covered up the facts
The only thing they’ll understand
Is a wall against their backs
The only hope now left for those - with everything to lose.

In desperation empty eyes,
Signed up and thrown away -
There’s drugs replacing dignity,
The short sharp shock repaid -
There’ll be no money if you dare to question
Working the Tory way -
The truth is up there carved in stone,
Where 21 dead now lay -
A family’s loss for a few pounds saved -

With everything to lose.

With everything...

© Paul Weller

Friday, 24 June 2011


Accountability is a bit of a dirty word to some. In the work place I am frequently surprised by those that refuse to accept accountability for their actions. I do; that’s part of my role, and I do it without hesitation. What I can’t get my head around are those that perpetually play the card of decisions that they are making not being their responsibility; “I was only following orders” springs to mind.
At what point did accountability cease to be a natural and required quality? Is it because in the modern world of work (crickey that makes me sound old) there are generally a number of removes between the public and the ultimately responsible CEO?
The first point of contact is more than six degrees of Kevin Bacon away from the consumer/user which breeds the culture of blame and buck passing.
Service and pride in what you choose to do for a living should be givens. Don’t get me wrong, there is more to life than work; much more, but if you freely go into a line of work, do what you can to work with a bit of pride and professionalism.
I work in an environment where generally speaking the buck stops with me and that’s fine; I chose my career and position and accepted the adage from Ben Parker “ with great power comes great responsibility”. Only I believe that with power of any kind comes great responsibility.

You can probably tell, dear reader, that I need a holiday. Soon, very soon.


Occasionaly Hollywood produces a movie that doesn't follow the the usual path in terms of content, promotion and iconography. Example: DRIVE, Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn director of the sleeper hits Bronson &Valhalla Rising, the advertising and content are not of Hollywood and the trailer is refreshingly different; no hype, bombast, crazy editing or 'of the moment' music. More of this please Hollywood

Thursday, 23 June 2011



From it's Saul Bass styled end credits to it's globe trotting locales and cold war chess play, X-Men: First Class is an action movie with a level of elan and intelligence sadly missing in most Hollywood Franchise blockbusters. It has the feel of a Sean Connery Bond movie in places and while it is no Citizen Kane, it certainly suspends disbelief effectively leading to an efficient and enjoyable slice of entertainment.
X-Men :First Class-End credits score by Henry Jackman

There are some surprisingly heavyweight scenes, in particular a scene in a bar in Argentina where two Nazis in hiding are uncovered and dealt with, with extreme prejudice. There are enough references and in jokes to please comic book fans and the necessary exposition an 'origin' movie is handled briskly.
Another  tense scene for Fassbinder drinking with Nazis

This movie has enough to keep fans of Cinema and Comic Books happy. What makes the film stand out from the herd of others in this currently popular genre is the casting, character development and period detail, along with a lightness of touch in places to offset the darker stuff.

Most mainstream Hollywood fare leaves me cold and that is a sign of the times where commerce seems to be more important than art, and maybe in this climate a movie based on a comic book would turn off those over the age of eighteen, but this movie is an exception because it is a classic case of leaving your troubles at the door and enjoying two hours in the dark that deliver the package it sets out to, and does it well. X-Men: First Class is exactly that; First class

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

MY HIT LIST# Jean Harlow & Marie Dressler

Dinner at Eight
Great exchange between Jean Harlow and Marie Dressler:

Kitty: I was reading a book the other day.
Carlotta (staggering at the thought): Reading a book!
Kitty: Yes. It's all about civilization or something, a nutty kind of a book. Do you know that the guy said that machinery is going to take the place of every profession?
Carlotta (eyeing Kitty's costume, breasts and shapely physical charms): Oh, my dear, that's something you need never worry about.
-Donald Ogden Stuart

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

SeX piStOLs LivE aT cHElMsfOrD pRisoN


17th September 1976
The Sex Pistols played live at Chelmsford Prison. A gig that has by and large been ignored in the story of the Pistols, along with their Christmas Day gig for striking Firemen. Perhaps these gigs were too altruistic for the myth.

These audio clips show that they were not the ramshackle musically inept band that they were claimed to be in the grey days of 1976.

Thirty Five years ago they were the new breed and as fresh as it gets. Here are some of their lesser known songs.

Suburban Kids

Did you no wrong


Here's a link to a story about some of the kids that attended the Christmas Day Gig

Monday, 20 June 2011


True stories: Best Undressed

The title of this documentary broadcast on Channel 4 refers to a behind the scenes look at Miss Nude Australia. Away from the titillating trailer and the obvious political correctness issues it was a light hearted and witty programme.

The contestants seemed to be completely at ease standing around naked, walking up and down naked, being interviewed naked and generally being nude in public.

The organisers, a motley crew of face lifts gender issues and soft-sleaze were right about one thing when they explained the reasoning behind the competition (never feeling that they needed to justify it); it is not an erotic experience. Far from it, it came across like just another beauty contest. The difference being that the women involved seemed to by and large enjoy it and all had sound business brains;, seeing the contest as a route to earn more money. There was no clichéd talk of saving the starving or educating the impoverished.
Ideas of culture are a strange thing and they differ throughout the world. Australians (rightly or wrongly) are not noted for their cultural acumen and this programme did little to counter that view; what it did do was show that the women involved held the power. They were not being exploited and the rights and wrongs of the concept are far too complex to go into here, but the programme was that thing that good documentarians can deliver from time to time; interesting, witty and enlightening. The contest itself is like Miss World without the pretensions. The contestants and there family full humour, unintentional and otherwise.

Viewers tuning in for some sort of arousal would have been disappointed. In the end the contestants came across more like jolly naturists than objects of erotic desire.

Cheeky: Miss Nude Australia

Sunday, 19 June 2011

MY HIT LIST: Hepburn & Kelly

Two examples of classic screen beauty stand and wait at the 1956 Oscars, captured in this quiet moment, you can see their timeless appeal.

Friday, 17 June 2011


Joel Stewart is an Illustrator, primarily of children's books. I like his work; it's quirky and beautifully rendered. Here's some examples
Joel Stewart
From The adventures of a nose
Joel Stewart
From Tales of Hans Cristian Andersson
Joel Stewart
Dexter Bexley and the Big Blue Beastie
Joel Stewart
Toro: Stone Lantern
Joel Stewart
Joel Stewart
The Little Mermaid
Joel Stewart
Have you ever seen a Sneep?