Monday, 8 April 2019

The Flying Pickets: "Only You"

'Only You: The Best of The Flying Pickets' was first released in 1991 on EMI. 

The 16 tracks include covers of songs originally made famous by such diverse talents as; Yazoo, Marvin Gaye, Roy Orbison, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Marley.

David Brett:
Ken Gregson: Ken (real name Kenneth Gregory) was born in Wolverhampton. He joined the Incubus Theatre group.
Brian Hibbard Brian was born in Ebbw Vale, Monmouthshire in Wales.
(born 25 November 1946; died 17 June 2012)
Rick Lloyd was born in London.
Red Stripe (real name: David Gittins) 
Gareth Williams.

Watch 'Da Doo Run Run' (1982) here
Watch 'Space Oddity': here 
Watch 'Psycho Killer': here
Watch 'When You're Young And In Love': here
Watch 1986 Interview with Donnie Sutherland: here.

Watch 'The Girl of My Best Friend' here:

Watch 'Whose That Girl': here.
Watch 'Only The Lonely': here

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

‘Daredevil. Know Fear Part One’ reviewed by Humphrey Fordham

In this particular always-continuing ‘Modern Age’ of comics, it seems to be a common truism that when a popular Superhero “dies” or is missing in action - he usually experiences some sort of explosive re-birth upon return. Case in point: ‘The Death Of Superman’. 

This, however, is not so in this new series of ‘Daredevil. Know Fear Part One’ written by Chip Zdarsky and drawn by Marco Checchetto. Matt Murdock’s comeback after his “death” is brilliantly empathetic and suitably wobbly. More potentially Icarus descends than Phoenix arises. 

Designed to commemorate the 20th anniversary of filmmaker Kevin Smith’s seminal re-vamp for the Marvel Knights series, the story begins like every new series of DD: deep within the gritty urban badlands of Hell’s Kitchen. Such a backdrop proves to be food for thought for Murdock’s self-rehabilitation, rather like a mixture of Frank Miller’s 1986 ‘Born Again’ series and the latter part of Ann Nocenti’s and John Romita Jr’s run a few years later. 

After weeks of intense therapy, the usually monogamous Murdock has concerns which are somewhat pressing. He painfully enters a bar, and immediately picks up an attractive tattooed nameless female who, luckily for him, isn’t a Typhoid Mary clone. She is humane enough to be totally open with him, and says he is not her type, even though his muscles rather than his blindness is her fetish. Later on, to test his radar sense, he skims and soars across the enticing rooftops as Daredevil. Both situations are Viagra-redolent. The die is cast. Game, set and match to Murdock. So far so good.

There are what appears to be the usual childhood flashback scenes weighing heavily with Catholic guilt - which have been depicted many times over the decades. However, unlike the boy scout smiling in the face of adversity persona of yore; young Murdock, interestingly enough, is evidently a disturbed youth verging on being unlikable. A new dimension is most certainly in the making.

The artwork itself is both subdued and intense. The story’s oppressively urban setting is depicted in a wholly naturalistic way with a subtle emphasis on ‘the time of day’. Daredevil’s costume is suitably redder than red. The swashbuckler from the 60s has definitely returned!

There are pieces of this debut issue’s jigsaw that will inevitably come together in the forthcoming issues, notably in the more than noticeable form of a familiar adversary. Right now, hell ain’t a bad place to be. 
Text: Humphrey Fordham Feb 2019

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Horace Panter at 100 Club

Soul Groves with Horace Panter was a fundraiser for Tonic Music that took place at the 100 Club on Wednesday 5th of December. The show was a delight from start to finish. The band played tribute to musical heroes such as George Benson and Ray Charles.  I particularly enjoyed their covers of Lee Dorsey's Ya Ya. Dave Keech was a great master of ceremonies and Eddie Piller was the perfect choice for post show D.J.
Above: Horace Panter on Bass
Above: Dave Keech on Trombone
Above: Jim Hunt on Sax
Above: Nikolaj Torp Larsen on Hammond Organ 
Above: Chris Cobbson on Guitar.
Above: Kenrick Rowe on Drums.
You can see the band perform Green Onions and Tippi Toes on You Tube.

One of the patrons for Tonic Music For Mental Health is Horace's band mate, Terry Hall.
Terry says:
“I'm proud to be a patron of Tonic Music for Mental Health. They're a great organisation that run music and art projects that anyone can get involved in.One of the things I did when I became ill, because I couldn't communicate, was to start painting. My therapist had said it was a good way to express yourself, so I started to paint The Jackson 5, except the first one I drew ended up with six of them on it! Anything that gives you a voice is really good. Art and music are a great outlet and have been such an important part of my recovery.”
For more info about the charity visit:
Photos and Text by Harry Pye December 2018

IT'S BRIIIIIIXMAAAAAAAS! The Brixton Hill All-Stars reviewed by Patrick Nicholson

Charity Christmas album’: a phrase to rouse the most jaundiced lapsed-socialist into raging, at Dickens’ brutal London winter Fortnum-ed into the Season of Goodwill; and carolling Tories, cleansed and ready for the next fully-exploitative 51-and-a-half weeks.

Yet Christmas pop is its own steadfast twinkling pantheon. For some artists, their Christmas song is their immortality: Greg Lake, Shane, Mariah, John &Yoko…you’d have to be impossibly pure in heart to resist their sweet mawk, and if there’s still a pulse of deluded hope in you, here’s something to jolt it, with musical quality to match.

Brixton Hill Studios is a rehearsal space at the heart of the South London rock renaissance led by Goat Girl and Black Midi. Six of the the studio’s regular clients here contribute new December songs, with proceeds going to Brixton Soup Kitchen, which was helping the local poor and homeless long before Jacob Rees-Mogg branded such things ‘uplifting’ .

First in this winter set is the suitably titled ’Ice Cream’ in which crooner Jerskin Frendrix’s sublime hymnal piano opens like Nick Cave singing Judee Sill singing ‘It’s always Christmas-time when I’m with you’, planting a melody in your head that you heard at birth. This then builds and merges before your eyes into Black Midi doing a thrash-King Crimson Prog Second Coming. It’s a great dramatic coup, but at the root is a true contender for a Christmas classic.

Next, Hammersmith’s Alessi’s Ark bring us ‘Winter’s Grace’, an effortlessly pretty poetic tune evoking warmth and safety: ‘nothing’s stopping me from being by your side’. Sounds awful doesn’t it? But it’s lovely. 

Track 3 is Ham Legion continuing the mad-prog with ‘We’d better start dinner’, complete with lead-synth, choir and bells. Sort of Colosseum over 90s indie drumming. Good fun but two helpings is plenty.

Then come Bad Parents with ‘Christmas Present’, very Kevin Ayers via Graham Coxon, with the killer line ‘it’s just another day in December to stay in bed watching YouTube’. Whoever can sing ‘I bought a Christmas present for you’ and make it sound new has something going on. A grower.

Two great titles close the cd: ‘Christmas Crime’ is a pun worthy of old punk, like something off the 80s Oi!-comp ‘Bollocks to Christmas’ EP (rubbish, don’t bother), but thankfully it’s Scud FM’s dub tale of desolation and robbery, with a moral weight reminiscent of the Specials. Somehow the circular trumpet summons the burden we all carry at Christmas. ‘Friends and family come over, I’m completely done over’.  It’s genuinely affecting.

Finally we have Hot Sauce Pony - part Beefheart, part Banshees - in a characteristically muscular creeping piece ‘Christmas in Prison’. ‘What do you do when the bars won’t bend?’. HSP have a natural timeless feel, like their songs could go anywhere, and an intimate, involving singer in Caroline Gilchrist.

Overall a great listen, something different at Christmas and definitely allowed in the other 51-and-a-half weeks.
Listen to Bad Parents: here
Buy the album here:
Text by Patrick Nicholson
December 2018

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Bernardo Bertolucci by Chris Hick

Yesterday saw the passing of another of the great directors, Bernardo Bertolucci who died on Monday 26th November at the age of 77. This came the day after another of the greats had passed away, British director, Nicholas Roeg. What both filmmakers had in common was a unique style of filmmaking that led to some unique films. 

Bertolucci was born in Parma, Italy on 16th March 1941 and while, like Roeg, not the most prolific of directors, he made some true classics of cinema. Having made a number of films in his native Italy in the 1960s that were hardly going to set the world on fire, he went on to make Il Conformista (The Conformist) in 1970, a Mussollini era set political crime thriller, it is one of the key Italian films of the 1970s. This was followed a few films and a couple of years later with the then controversial Franco-Italian co-production, Last Tango in Paris (1972). 

Set in Paris and starring Marlon Brando, fresh from his turn as Don Corleone in the Oscar winning The Godfather, with Maria Schneider. It is a film about passion and desire, but is most famous for its steamy scene of anal rape (it involves butter, but I will leave it at that). The film does appear relatively tame today, but is still one of the director’s key films in his oeuvre.

He went on to make the underrated 1900 (1976), an epic story covering the first half of the 20th century in Bertolucci’s home region of Emiliga-Romagna. But it was the more international The Last Emperor (1987), Bertolucci’s most ambitious and biggest project that made him a household name. An epic film in scale it is the story of Puyi, the last Emperor of China who lived in the walled Forbidden City and his growth in an ever changing and challenging China through the 20thCentury. An Anglo-Italian co-production, this film still maintains its epic scale and sumptuous look. For his next few films there was certainly a modern historical travelogue feel to his films: The Sheltering Sky (1990) is set in various African countries, the story of pre-enlightenment Little Buddha (1993), Prince Siddhartha in South East Asia, Brits in Italy in Stealing Beauty (1996) before he went on to make one of his more challenging and frankly most interesting films of his career, The Dreamers (2003).

The Dreamers catches a particular moment in modern French history: namely the student revolt of May 1968. Based off a novel by Gilbert Adair, ‘Holy Innocents’, it is a re-imagining of the writer’s own experiences living in Paris during these heady times. For the film, his character has been transformed from a Brit to American in the shape of the character of Matthew (Michael Pitt). It is February 1968 and he has arrived in Paris at a time when the former war hero, General de Gaulle was the President of France. De Gaulle represented the old order and a more engaged and politically left leaning politik was stirring through University campuses. Matthew has befriended twins Théo (Louis Garrel) and Isabelle (Eva Green) who agree that Matthew can stay with them. He is invited to dinner where he meets their English mother (Anna Chancellor) and French father (Robin Renucci), but soon after the parents leave on a trip, leaving the three youngsters to their own devices. The apartment is French bohemian baroque, a little run down and tired, probably symbolising the French state. It is reminiscent of a haunted house in a Mario Bava horror film or bourgeois decadence in a Visconti classic.

The twins had met Matthew at the famous Cinémathèque Française, a key place where the student protests started from. Where else but in France would protest and revolution start from but from an arts centre? The students are protesting the sacking of the Cinémathèque Française director, Henri Langlois by the French Arts Minister, André Malraux who had ceased to fund what he saw as a hot bed of Marxist thinking. Under instructions as to what he should screen for a visiting Soviet dignitary, Langlois refused stating that he was not at the behest of the government. This led to its closure and subsequent protest from the likes of such eminent directors as Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut and even Nicholas Ray (the director of Rebel Without a Cause, 1955) from Hollywood, setting the country on a wave of protests throughout Paris and the rest of the country until it reached its climax in May ’68.

After initial scenes which are filmed at the location of the Cinémathèque Française much of the next hour or so takes place in the apartment. There are three themes that consistently run through the film: Politics, Sex and Cinema. Politics is the glue that unites them all for Bertolucci and indeed for the French nouvelle vague too. In one scene the trio play a game answering questions on cinema. When Matthew gets the answer wrong, his forfeit is to masturbate in front of them. Indeed there are many scenes in the film that are quite daring and the Paris locations and the erotic games recall Bertolucci's earlier film, Last Tango in Paris. Green’s character of Isabelle is quite promiscuous and the film plays with ideas of incest as well as her as a femme-fatale. In another scene Théo demands that Isabelle and Matthew have sex in front of him, leading Matthew to discover that she was in fact a virgin. In time they have trashed the apartment and when the parents unexpectedly return are upset at the state of their home. Isabelle plots to gas them both in an almost Oedipean scene. A sense of agoraphobia almost pervades the film to this point until a their lives are disturbed by a stone thrown through the window. Our trio of characters dare to venture out only to find themselves at the height of the May protests with students and protesters facing off against a militarised CRS (the French anti-riot police) which they join in on.

The May 1968 riots were a part of the zeitgeist (shuddering to use a cliché) that was spreading through the Western world with anti-Vietnam Protests taking place in the United States, Britain and elsewhere, the Prague Spring that led to Soviet occupation and supporting student protests in Milan, Chicago and at Hornsey Art College in support of the Sorbonne. The counter-culture was questioning the old order with the French speaking out against old France and the Republic. Many of the aforementioned filmmakers, Godard and Truffaut were beaten and injured by the CRS riot police during the protests, Jean-Paul Sartre was actively involved and was arrested for civil disobedience. In cinema Godard had made the Maoist tract La Chinoise (1967) and in London One Plus One (1968), (which famously was inter cut with footage of The Rolling Stones recording 'Sympathy for the Devil') , as well as the later Tout va bien (1972), whereas Truffaut made Baisers volés (1968) set during the May turbulence and La Nuit Américaine (Day for Night , 1973). Both these films starred Truffaut regular Jean-Pierre Léaud who appeared in several of his films as the character Antoine Doinel since Les Quatre Cents Coup (1959). Léaud appears in The Dreamers, both in documentary footage during May '68 giving a speech and appears as an older self in the film. Léaud's appearance also links with Bertolucci as he had co-starred in Last Tango in Paris. 

The Dreamers, Bertolucci's penultimate film (his last being Me and You, 2012) is critically not his best received film, but is one of his most interesting. Some of the dislike met out to the film is probably to do with the dislike-able, spoilt and self-indulgent nature of the protagonists. However, the film is a celebration of the power of cinema and especially those of the nouvelle vague which I would argue act as a tribute to France and a period of failed revolution that nevertheless changed the direction of France, showing that a director in his then 60s still had the faculty to make great art.
Text by Chris Hick 2018

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Nick Revell reviews 'Funny Business' at Shortwave Gallery

The esteemed comedy writer and performer, Nick Revell ventured to Shortwave to experience, 'Funny Business' an exhibition featuring paintings by; Geraldine Swayne, Jasper Joffe, Kate Lyddon, Sadie Hennessey, and Harry Pye - and Gordon Beswick was there to film the results. The 'Funny Business' exhibition gets taken down on November 28th so catch it while you can. Shortwave is a 5 minute walk from Bermondsey tube station and is open 7 days a week (8.30am til 10.30pm)

(Below:) Geraldine Swayne - Nick says of Geraldine's work: "I love that one... such a little sledgehammer. It's clever, disturbing and challenging." 
(Below)Jasper Joffe - Nick says of Jasper's work: "I like the colour of it. I like the liveliness of it and like the way he's stuck it over a fire alarm."

(Below) Kate Lyddon - Nick says of Kate's work: "She often makes strange, grotesque images. This one intrigues me and makes me think there's a story there that I could unpick or unravel."

(Below) Sadie Hennessey Nick says of Sadie's work: "I like it it's boldness and cheekiness and how it plays around with your perspective."

(Below) Harry Pye Nick says of Harry's work: "There's something about the solemnity of the two outside figures and the contrasting tones..and I like the cat obviously."

You can watch Nick auditioning for Andrew Graham Dixon's job: here

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound (1945) reviewed by Astrid Horkheimer

Spellbound ends with a brilliant shot of a revolving revolving but possibly the most famous scene is of a kiss between Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck that is followed by shots of seven doors opening in quick succession. Bergaman is beautiful and Peck is perfect and there are great cameos from Leo G. Carol and Micheal Chekov. It's also memorable for it's bonkers Salvador Dali dream sequence.

Hitchcock said that of the 50 films he made his personal favourite was Shadow of a Doubt which he made two years earlier. His take on Spellbound is that it's not so hot, ("just another manhunt story wrapped up in Pseudo- Psychoanalysis.")  but I think he's being way too harsh. The film's eerie soundtrack by Miklos Rozsa won an Oscar and popularised the theremin (later made even more famous by Brian Wilson in his song Good Vibrations.

Spellbound was produced  by David O. Selznick whose previous two films were Gone With The Wind, and Rebecca. Despite Selznick's success he was not a happy man until he discovered therapy. It was Selznick who wanted Francis Beeding's novel, The House of Dr Edwardes turned into a film. Because it was Selznick who got the ball rolling I think there is an unfair tendency amongst critics to dismiss the movie as being a vanity project. The plot of a therapist falling in love with a patient with amnesia is easy to pick holes in. Mel Brooks found it easy to spoof the story in his film High Anxiety. Although it's not a masterpiece there is something about the chemistry between Bergman and Peck that makes Spellbound a must see. You'd be mad to pass this film by.

Text by Astrid Horkheimer 2018