Thursday, 28 February 2013


Released in 1979 Off The Wall features Michael Jackson at the top of his game, producer Quincy Jones at his best and songwriters Rod Temperton, Carole Bayer Sager,Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney joining Jackson in writing a set of tremendous songs. Artists such as George Duke, Patti Austin, Jim Gilstrap, Larry Carlton, Randy Jackson, David Foster and Bobby Watson contribute to what is essentially a perfect album.
The tracks that comprise this unpretentiously feel-good album are Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough, Rock With You, Working Day And Night, Get On the Floor, Off The Wall, Girlfriend, She's Out Of My Life, I Can't Help It, It's The Falling In Love, Burn The Disco Out.
The title track sums up the essence of Michael Jackson at the moment before things started to change for him. Jackson as the epitome of talent, good times and high hopes. Yes the follow up album Thriller would become a massive record breaking juggernaut but Off The Wall is a soul and Disco album to Thrillers pop sensibilities and is the perfect record of an artist schooled in the Motown ethic performing at his zenith. All the ingredients came together in perfect harmony for a record that perhaps more than any other showcased the pure quality of Jackson's voice.
“So tonight gotta leave that nine to five upon the shelf
And just enjoy yourself
Groove, let the madness in the music get to you
Life ain't so bad at all
If you live it off the wall”

Thursday, 21 February 2013


For non comic book aficionado's Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale are probably best known for their involvement in TV's Heroes but in the comic book world they have conjured up some excellent fare for both Marvel's flagship characters Spider-Man, Daredevil and The Hulk and DC's Superman and best of all Batman. Their excellence as a team is perfectly showcased in Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: Dark Victory; the first being my all time favourite Batman tale. Sandwiched between these stories is a mini adventure with Catwoman travelling to Italy that is full of equal parts lightness and dark with a sprinkling of Roman Holiday and a touch of To Catch a Thief. When in Rome is a sparkling concoction and showcases Loeb and Sale's talent superbly. The dialogue is witty, the art beautiful, the story full of intrigue and adventure and the essence of Selina Kyle as Super villain and Femme fatale is captured superbly. This is Catwoman in Europe playing the big con and getting away with it.


Monday, 18 February 2013


It's surprising how the best of directors did not produce great debuts.  Many great film makers have taken a couple of movies to find their feet and set the bar for their careers. Some of the greats like Hitchcock, Scorsese, Coppola and Wilder didn't hit the ground running. Modern greats such as Nolan, Fincher and Singer made their marks with their second features. There have been plenty of one hit wonders but those that have had glittering careers and great first shots are the unusual ones. Those debut directors that made truly memorable first features are really quite Scarce, let's look at ten of the best of this rare breed.

Citizen Kane-Welles
For many the best film ever made therefore hard to argue against it being the greatest directorial debut of all time.
The Maltese Falcon-Huston
A superb debut that is perfect cinema from beginning to end.

The Sugarland Express-Spielberg
Most would say that Duel was Spielberg's debut but it was a made for TV movie as was Something Evil. His real cinema debut was this road movie with Goldie Hawn playing against type
A Bout De Souffle-Goddard
Godard's 'none more cool' and highly influential first feature still looks and feels fresh.
Knife In The Water-Polanski
Setting the tone for his body of work Polanski arrived with devastating effect
Reservoir Dogs-Tarantino
Unforgettable and controversial movie that set the tone and became part of the zeitgeist.
Buffalo 66-Gallo
An individualistic renaissance man, Gallo's debut is an
 incredible example of single mindedness
Play Misty For Me-Eastwood
Director/actor Clint Eastwood probably surprised everyone with how good and prescient his first feature was.
The not exactly prolific but mercurial Terence Mallick's opening salvo is simply unforgettable
Take The Money and Run-Allen
What's Up Tiger Lilly was released three years earlier and was more of an exercise in ingenious editing and over dubbing, Take The Money and Run is Woody Allen's first real movie as director and is as funny as anything he has ever done.

Saturday, 16 February 2013


People Like Us is a new reality TV show currently being broadcast on BBC3, set in Salford Lancashire it centres on the lives of various, so called, ordinary people. These people are operating on the margins; the margins of common sense, self worth and basic intellect.
Quote from People Like Us : "it's like what they say innit? 'Get rich or try dying'"
Quote from People Like Us: "They've took me pictures out of the Laundriette, Sid Vicious, John Travolta and Bone-o out of U2"
Quote from People Like Us: "I'm cutting down from drinking me usual hard stuff" (said while pouring A PINT of Lambrini)

It's actually depressingly entertaining TV, It says more than a million words could about modern Britain. Oh, and it's not scripted: no writer could come up with the verbal gems on offer. Ah, glorious Salford!

No ones been able to successfully capture this underclass through satire. The closest is Shameless but even that family are too 'posh' in comparison. Time for Chris Morris & Charlie Brooker to tackle the subject. A Nathan Barley (their superlative comedy about Hoxton trendies) about the dregs. They could call it Lee Falkland or Kyle Manorview or Dean Deepfry or maybe Jonjo Nailbar.

Lack of culture leads to girls going out in pyjamas, it leads to bad manners and laziness, it leads to lack of common courtesy, it leads to distorted values. Smash communities and you smash culture. Close down Pubs and you close down culture. Destroy high street shops and you destroy culture. It's been happening right in front of our eyes
Morality, ethics, values, sense of purpose, pride all things missing when there is no culture. 

It`s not just this easily categorised Jeremy Kyle viewer that is operating on the edge of knowledge though. Being dim is nationwide, it's fashionable,the chattering middle class fashionista is embracing thickness  too, 'Thick-Chic': It started with Peaches Geldof and is almost a replacement  for culture. Wilful stupidity is the new black as we teeter on the very verge the of an idiot national identity. The streets of trendy Dalston and beleaguered Salford are poles apart in terms of money and opportunity yet both run equally red with idiocy.

A true meaningful culture seems to be what's missing, being stupid appears to be 'on trend'.