Sep 222014
 


A mostly dreadful story and some decidedly average acting is barely rescued by a few imaginative Hitch offerings. And even if Hitch’s genius had shone brightly – the dreadful story would still overshadow it.

Our DVD copy was silent… not as in a “silent film” but as in a film with no sound… at all. After 10 minutes we opted to put on a record, and chose one we’d picked up at a charity shop a couple of months ago. Joyce Hatto‘s Music from the Films was an authentic Hatto recording from the early 60s rather than from her later, fraudulent catalogue.

The music fitted surprisingly well, not always, but often enough to make its fit more enjoyable than the film itself.

Lesson learned: Friendship and loyalty should be a two way street
Watched: 2014-08-20
Source: DVD
Rating: 4/10

Hitchcock Wiki
BFI Screenonline

Sep 182014
 

ViNiL
In 1979 Motorhead ruled my life. My mate Paul was a fan of Tubeway Army and The Police. I was proud that I converted him to a Motorhead fan. Over the years I have grown to love electronic music but I’ve steered clear of Tubeway Army and Gary Numan – I imagine a fair bit of that is down to Numan’s Thatcher-loving past – frankly he always came across as a bit of a prat (and as far as I can tell, still does).

Today I decided it was time to give the breakthrough second Tubeway Army album Replicas a listen to see if I could get past my prejudices.

I couldn’t – it was patchy and only very rarely interesting. Mostly it was ordinary and quite often not very modern sounding at all – and lets face it the best electronic music sounds like the future regardless of how many years ago it was made! It makes sense that Are ‘Friends’ Electric? was a hit but there’s very little else on the album that rates it a second listen…

Here’s what the future sounds like to me

… or this …

Sep 172014
 

Just home from seeing Joan Baez at the Royal Festival Hall. We sauntered up a bit late so missed the beginning but what we saw was mostly pretty stunning. Catch The Wind gave me chills, Joe Hill was powerful, There But For Fortune was perfect. Not so good was an overlong ballad I didn’t know, House of the Rising Sun, Swing Low Sweet Chariot and trotting out Imagine (and bizarrely telling us the lyrics so we could sing along… I mean who doesn’t know the words to Imagine!?).

I’m sure she introduced Seven Curses by saying she hadn’t played it for 30 years – YouTube suggests otherwise.

Another highlight was Diamonds and Rust, which was a treat because those early early 70s albums were often so much more interesting than the folk ballad 60s LPs (I wrote about my favourite last week).

Here’s Joan’s original, written in 1974 about her relationship with Bobby Dylan ten years previously.

I just discovered that Judas Priest covered it (I can’t believe that I never knew this – although I was never that big a fan of Judas Priest) and my first search of YouTube found a thoroughly dreadful recent live version but they originally recorded it in 1976/7 and the version released on their album Sin After Sin is actually pretty good.

… and here’s a live version from 1983 with Priest in all their hilariously camp, studded glory

Sep 092014
 

Joan Baez - Blessed Are... (1971)
My dad’s a Joan Baez fan so we had plenty of her albums around the house. Blessed Are… is the one I listened to more than any of the others, and doesn’t it look like it? I’m not sure who was responsible for the failed sticker removal, it could quite easily have been me – I know that at some point I decided this album was mine, and not my dad’s.

I’d guess that it was those high profile cover versions that got me listening in the first place (The Band, The Stones, The Beatles), but the more I listened the more I started to notice the other songs on the album, both Joan’s and those by songwriters whose names meant less than Robertson, Jagger/Richards and Lennon/McCartney. It’s been a good few years since I’ve dug this LP out (last time I listened to it I expect that Joan’s version of The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down was the version I was most familiar with) so hearing it again was a treat, I was surprised how familiar the whole thing was.

Next week I’m off to see Joan at the RFH as my dad can’t make it and he off-loaded his tickets on us. We were very glad to take them.

Aug 302014
 


… and classic Hitch really kicks in with The Lodger. The conceit is superb, the mood is as beautifully dense as the London fog, and the performances he elicits from his actors are impeccable. Throw in a blonde, a twist, some fun with the camera, and a (possibly) innocent man, and you have a recipe that the master cooks to near perfection.

The DVD we have (from a German box set) has a decent orchestral score, no idea where it’s from.


Lesson learned: Sometimes a poker is just for poking the fire and a knife just for whipping the top off your boiled egg.
Watched: 2014-08-30
Source: DVD
Rating: 8/10

Hitchcock wiki
BFI Screenonline

Aug 282014
 

The Chameleons - What Does Anything Mean? Basically?
I hardly ever listen to The Chameleons, and I know I should. They’re another band that I was aware of for a long time before I actually gave them any serious time, and by the time I did they were long gone.

This, their second album, is a fine album. Listening to it makes me wonder why you don’t see the young kids walking around with Chameleons T-shirts they way they walk around with Joy Division ones, or Smiths ones. I don’t think any of Joy Division’s albums are a patch on What Does Anything Mean? Basically.

I guess they’re the best band to come out of Manchester then?

Aug 272014
 

The “50 films” project faltered early when 1966 was supposed to be Larisa Shepitko’s Wings, but the DVD hadn’t arrived… it then fell by the wayside… 1966 was nabbed by Gambit and when the DVD finally arrived it was filed away for later. We finally got around to watching the film on Friday. So long since we decided to watch it that we can barely remember why it was picked.

The film is a beautiful and sad discourse on loneliness and heroics, of a mundane life after excitement, of posttraumatic stress disorder, I guess. Nadya was a pilot and hero during the Great Patriotic War but is now getting on with life as a school head teacher. She is successful in her job but has not come to terms with an ordinary life, and is struggling in her relationships with Tanya, her adopted daughter, and with Pasha her museum-director boyfriend.

Aug 242014
 


I rather love The Pleasure Garden, the plot is simplistic but the characters have vivacity and there are some wonderfully constructed scenes and sequences. The humour is pitched well and the secondary characters are given enough depth that you care about them as much as the leads. The benefit of hindsight allows me to say that can spot the hand of the master on The Pleasure Garden (Hitchcock’s directorial debut)

Miles Mander’s villain is a sort of early cinema, moustache-twisting cliche to the point that if the height of his villainy had happened somewhere with trains (rather than an ocean) it would have involved his mistress being strapped to a railway line.

I first saw The Pleasure Garden in 2012 at Wilton’s Music Hall, in a restored version with a rather lovely live score by Daniel Patrick Cohen. I liked it even more that way!

Lesson learned: The dog always knows best
Watched: 2014-08-22
Source: YouTube
Rating: 6/10

Hitchcock wiki
Silent London
BFI Screenonline

Aug 132014
 

Beatles
Today on A Head Full of Wishes I posted Damon & Naomi’s cover of The Beatles’ (well George’s) While My Guitar Gently Weeps… it’s a lovely cover but not in my top 6…
actually these aren’t really my top 6 either… just the first six that popped into my head right now! #1 is probably #1 though!

We’d like to start off with some Rock ‘n’ Roll, we’ll throw it out, you throw it back

#1 – The Pink Fairies – Tomorrow Never Knows from Finland Freakout 1971

#2 – The Unthanks – Sexy Sadie

#3 – Bobbie Gentry – Here, There and Everywhere

#4 – The Breeders – Happiness is a Warm Gun

#4 – The Feelies – Everybody’s Got Something To Hide (Except Me and My Monkey)

#6 – Galaxie 500 – Rain – Ha! as if I could leave this out…

I’ve no idea why I found that picture funny… but I’m still smiling.