Street Hawk

*Originally written in 2004

Another classic Eighties TV show in the vein of Knightrider and Airwolf, Street Hawk follows the exploits of Jesse Mach – a cop who also solves crime undercover using a souped-up black motorcycle. Although only 13 episodes were made, it remains one of the best shows of its type, with plenty of action and humour. And like those other shows it also has a great soundtrack, this time by Tangerine Dream.

The pilot tells the story of Mach, a cop with a love of motorbikes who is often getting in trouble for his reckless ways. When his partner is killed by the drivers of a mysterious black van reported as part of a crime spree throughout his city, Mach seeks vengeance. However, he has been suspended from the force, and warned against revenge. When he is contacted by a rather nerdy man with a new prototype motorcycle, Mach reluctantly accepts to meet. When he sees the bike though, and hears its specs, he wants to ride it immediately. They go for a trial, and Mach loves it, though Norman the creator is edgy, geeky and doesn’t want to see the bike mistreated and ruined. The unlikely pair and the bike set out to prevent crime, while Mach looks for that Black Van.

After the pilot, the series follows the usual formula of helping those in need, while Mach tries to hide his double-life. The banter between Norm and Jesse is charming, akin to KITT and Michael, String and Dom, BA and Murdoch etc. The performances are good from the central cast, as well as from the standard weekly guests. The action is high with plenty of chases, the bike is very cool, and it is a pity the series never continued, ending on a semi-cliffhanger – unfortunate when there was, and is so much rubbish about. While some may say it is cheesy, it has its charm and remains a cult show which should be visited by all fans of eighties TV.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Street Hawk!

Best Foreign Film – 1978

Official Nominations: Get Out Your Handkerchiefs. The Glass Cell. Hungarians. Viva Italia! White Bim Black Ear.

1978 is interesting in that it’s the first year in a while that doesn’t have an obvious ‘big’ movie – one that everyone recognises no matter if they’ve seen it or not. None of the films are standouts either, unfortunately. White Bim Black Ear is three hours worth of man and dog – it’s basically a Russian version of The Littlest Hobo. The Glass Cell is about a guy who has been wrongfully imprisoned for years and has heard rumours about his wife’s unfaithfulness. He leaves prison a more paranoid and dangerous man – his stay turning an innocent man guilty. Viva Italia! ranks among the most bizarre choices for an Oscar – an episodic Italian comedy with multiple directors and featuring short films about things like having sex with a monkey, corrupt cops letting a bunch of terrorists go free because they have rich families, and plenty of mini character studies about lies, sex, religion etc. It’s an Italian Monty Python film with at least twelve fewer laughs.

Hungarians is an average drama about a bunch of migrants who have fairly good conditions in Germany during World War II but find that when they go home they can’t escape a War which tarnishes and changes everyone. This year’s official winner – Get Out Your Handkerchiefs – is another Gerard Depardieu vehicle. He plays a man who decides his wife’s depression can only be cured by another man’s cock, so he picks one at random to have sex with her. The woman then has sex with a child and the men go to prison. France, eh?

My Winner: The Glass Cell

My Nominations: Watership Down. The Glass Cell. Drunken Master. The Demon. La Cage Aux Folles. The Green Room.

It says a lot that I’m having to include certain films here that wouldn’t normally make the cut. The Glass Cell is the only one which makes it over to my list, joining two from France, two from Asia, and one from Britain. Drunken Master isn’t one of the best Martial Arts movies, but it is certainly one of the most influential. Jackie Chan had been blending buffoonery with action for a while but it was in Drunken Master that both sides were honed and the audience ‘got it’. The Demon is maybe Yoshitaro Nomura’s most famous film, an uncharacteristically bleak drama which tears at the fabric of the traditional Japan family and examines the results of selfish, petty acts. La Cage Aux Folles is frequently funny yet more dated than most comedies of the time while Truffaut’s La Chambre Verte is a surprisingly touching and thought-provoking look at one man’s coping/obsession with death. My winner is the ever-young, ever-shocking Watership Down  – a film that I am not as enamoured with as most but one which remains more or less unique in its ability to scar and teach.

My Winner: Watership Down

Let us know your winner in the comments!

My Blog – June 2020

Quick Edit – Since writing the post below, it’s all been kicking off in the US. I have a lot of friends and family in various cities and States in the US, so if you’re over there at the moment – stay safe, and hopefully this turbulence which has been building for days, weeks, years, and arguably centuries, will pass and lead to better lives for those who have been mistreated, victimized, beaten down, told to stay silent, forgotten, ignored, and tortured. I hope for a day we can all be treated with respect as equal humans, that any minority does not have to live in fear of unjust persecution and death, and that we all wise the fuck up.

Quarantine is over! Oh wait, no it isn’t. However, all over the planet (yeah, it’s not just in the USA) people are getting antsy over some deluded notion of freedom or believe that their ‘faith’ is somehow going to shield them from a disease which will soon hit half a million deaths worldwide, and are stepping out of their homes to demand that their fast food stores re-open because that’s what God stipulated in the Constitution. Or something like that – I don’t really understand how the brains of idiots work. Stupidity is, it seems, far more dangerous and widespread than Cov-ID.

Here in the UK, the list of politicians (the very same ones who crafted our ever so vague Lockdown legislation and guidelines), who have broke their own laws to go visit family and friends because they don’t need to do whatever they tell the plebs to do, continues to grow. And half the plebs make excuses for them and will surely vote them back into office. Stupidity indeed.

I assumed in Lockdown I would get a lot more games played, books read, movies watched. As is always the case, more important stuff gets in the way. Or in my case, much less important stuff – such as watching stupid Youtube videos instead. Yes, I’ve been using my extra free time to catch up on dumb reaction videos. Specifically two types of Reaction videos, neither of which I should really like, given what a contrarian I am.

I find there are three (or four at a push) camps of people with regards to Reaction videos; those who love them, those who can’t stand them or even see the point, those who will watch a few here and there, and those who don’t even know they exist. I should hate most of them given the fact that they promote a level of talentlessness not seen since the heyday of Big Brother and other such species-reducing reality shows, and because I don’t care what other people think. Except, that last part isn’t really true, is it? I think all of us care what others think – it’s just that we want to either find those people who agree with us, or find the subject matter of the Reaction videos which speak directly to us, regardless of what the Reactor may think. I think that’s why Reaction Videos are so popular nowadays – they give us that taste of what all humans love – a confirmation bias shroud. We find someone who falls in love with something we already hold dear, and experience that new found love which in turn rekindles our own, all the time nodding in mutual appreciation and understanding at the comments and posts which praise the thing or agree with the Reactor. That second piece is important too – rekindling our feelings, and perhaps vicariously re-experiencing our favourite show or song for the first time through someone else’s eyes. It can be very cool, and quite addictive.

I’ve probably spoken before here about me watching people React to Buffy for the first time. Sure, the cynic in me wonders why for so many years nobody watched it, and then all of a sudden the floodgates opened and you have new channels popping up every week dedicated to reacting to the show. In my experience of watching React Channels, this is definitely one of the problems I have in watching them, and I imagine the Creators have too – everyone is reacting to the same shit. Now, some of those people are clearly jumping on the bandwagon of whatever is popular and riding those Likes and Views all the way to Kingdom Come, but I can only assume there are also some honest souls out there who are pissed off by this and want genuinely to React to Shows they haven’t seen before AND which no-one else is reacting too. Which belatedly gets to what I really wanted to talk about today:

Top Ten Shows NOBODY Is Reacting To (or probably are but just in vastly diminished numbers).

  1. Twin Peaks

A snazzy title, don’t you agree? I have found 1 Youtuber who reacted to every episode of Twin Peaks, but unfortunately wasn’t the most exciting or engaging person to go along with. There are quite a few Twin Peaks reactors out there, but the problem is that they are all fans of the original series and were reacting to Twin Peaks The Return. That’s not what I want – I want virgins. Newbies to the world of Cooper and Co, watching and freaking out the first time just like we all did. Much of the enjoyment for existing fans watching, would be of course anticipating the classic moments of the original two seasons – the weirdness, the one-liners, the laughs, the reveals, the BOB, and in encountering those special precious few souls who would ‘get it’.

2. Farscape

Farscape was one of my favourite shows when it first aired, and one of the original ‘no-one here gets out alive’ TV shows. Seriously, Farscape is an often depressing, downbeat watch, and more often than not a show which makes you feel stupid more not catching all of the intense, complicated, interweaving arcs going on, but if there’s one thing for certain it’s that it was a wonderfully unique show with plenty of laughs, and one which will leave you emotionally drained. That’s why we need more people, or any people, reacting to it – we want to watch you suffer.

3. Warehouse 13

Warehouse 13 is just a delight – yet nobody talks about it, never mind reacts to it. It’s a flawless combination of comedy and action, monster of the week and long arcs, and has some of the best chemistry between its performers that I’ve ever seen. The cast is wonderful and the merging of myth and history always made for a fun watch. It’s the show all nerds and Reactors are sleeping on but need to watch immediately, instead of forcing their way through utter shite like Once Upon A Time. If you needed any more reasons – it was written by Buffy people and has a tonne of Buffy actors popping up.

4. SG1

If you’re sensing a theme here, you’d be correct. A lot of sci-fi… basically this is a list of some of my all time favourite shows and me wishing that other people could watch them so I can share in their enjoyment. A lot of these shows would be a hefty undertaking, but perhaps none more so that SG1. Because you’d have to watch the original Stargate movie too, and probably before the show, even though the cast is different. And then there’s 2 SG1 spin-off movies to consider. Not only 2 spin off movies, but 2 spin-off series in Atlantis and Continuum, which ran for a total of seven seasons. Of course, SG1 itself ran for 10 seasons so, yeah – it’s a whopper. There was a prequel series too recently, but i haven’t seen it yet. Rumours are that a barnd new movie/revamp is coming, so this one maybe has more likelihood than others in getting Reactors on board. But it’s a great show – and plenty of Farscape crossover too!

5. Eerie Indiana

Everyone loves Stranger Things. I like it, but there is something lacking. Maybe it’s the fact that everybody loves it so much and suddenly thinks they’re huge 80s nostalgia freaks when five minutes before the pilot aired those same chumps couldn’t have distinguished their Carpenters from their Cravens. So I like it, but why watch it when you can have the original and best horror nostalgia show – Eerie, Indiana – a show Stranger Things liberally borrows from but has so far yet to beat in terms of comedy and overall writing. It is a kids show, but it’s smarter today almost thirty years on than most adult oriented shows today. It’s only one season, so a dedicated Reactor could power through it in no time.

6. Airwolf/The A-Team/Knight Rider/Street Hawk

Basically any of those 80s crime-fighting shows involving a souped up Black-tinted vehicle. You could throw in Thunder In Paradise (girls look pretty, ooh they look nice), and Blue Thunder here too, except those were shite. Reacting might be tough, as most of the shows didn’t really have any arc or character growth or anything beyond cool action and tough as nails 80s badasses. But they all had their own flavour and would tick a lot of nostalgic boxes – Airwolf at least had more emotion, The A-Team had a variety of characters, Street Hawk was short, and Knight Rider had David Hasslehoff. I guess people could react to Baywatch too, but then they’d spend half their time trying to shield their raging boners from the camera.

7. The X Files

I assume some people out there are, or have gone through The X Files, but most of the people I subscribe too haven’t. Too bust faffing around with Agents Of Shield, or The 100, or Dexter. I don’t care about any of those, and this is all about me. I’m sure there’s a generation of young’uns now who haven’t seen a single episode, so it’s about time they leapt back in. It’s another large undertaking, with double figure seasons and two movies, but it’s one of the all time greats and people would still be sucked in by the conspiracy plots and freaked out by all the mommy freaks living under beds and bendy Tooms slithering up drainpipes.

8. The League Of Gentlemen

It’s the last great British sitcom – fuck off Miranda, Dinner Ladies, The Office, The In Betweeners, Mrs Brown’s Boys, Gavin And Stacey – fuck right off. I’d love to see some of those precious over-exaggerated faux-shock reactions to some of TLOG’s finest moments, you snowflakes wouldn’t have a chance. In all seriousness, it’s a wonder this was ever shown on TV, but it is some of the most perfect 30 minutes in comedy history. And when they’re done, they should absolutely react to Psychoville, and most definitely, perhaps even more so than TLOG react to Inside Number 9 – a few people are already doing that, badly.

9. The Twilight Zone

The original, of course. By all means if you want to move onto the various reboots, go ahead, but nothing touches the majesty of the original. A range of ages in Reactors here would be nice, not just the fresh face new to College Americans we mainly see. Sure, a lot of the twists now may be seen coming, or hackneyed, but the show was made well over 50 years ago. Still it has more ideas and better dialogue than almost any show made since, and still has the power to scare, to make you laugh, but most importantly, to make you think – and it would be cool to see the more vocal reactors share their thoughts.

10. Quantum Leap

I could easily fill another 10 spaces here (don’t worry, I won’t. Yet) but decided to end it on another all time classic. Quantum Leap had less of a season long arc, and more of a show long arc – the Odyssey of Dr Sam Beckett trying to get home – to his own body, and his own time. There hasn’t really been a show like Quantum Leap, that combination of good old fashioned – I was going to say Patriotism, but that’s not right at all – good old fashioned goodness – morality mixed with science mixed with US history, adventure, comedy, romance. Honestly, with all of the pivotal moments which have occurred in the US since the show ended it seems ripe for a reboot – preferably a sequel given the heartbreaking ending of the original series – but possibly one which branches out to other Countries would be cool. We still just want Sam to make that final leap home. But this is a show which Reactors would get a kick out off – it would entertain them while teaching them, and all us nearing middle age or beyond original fans would get a kick out of it too. Come on – all it takes is one of you to make a successful reaction series, then everyone else will jump aboard!

So that’s that. Oh wait, I did say there were two types of Reaction I wanted to talk about, didn’t I? Maybe I’ll save that for next month as this post is long enough already and I kind of want to make my own ‘Ten Shows Reactors NEED To React to Video’ now for Youtube. Yeah, there’s this channel called Reactistan – it has been going for a while now, but really found its niche recently when they began posting a series where ‘Tribal People’ react to common place Western shit. The link to their channel is above, but seriously go watch those – it’s gold. There are so many future memes, from ‘Only God Knows what it’s made of’ to ‘Well it’s free so I’ll take another bite’. Yeah, I guess I’ll talk about why I love those Reaction videos so much next time – by that point their channel will prob have a million subs.

Oh yeah, I actually went and made that Youtube video alluded to earlier, between the time I wrote the post and now (about an hour) – so here it is. It’s every bit as terrible as all my other videos, but it does feature some stellar original music so whack on the headset and max out the volume (seriously, DON’T).

Do you like Reaction videos? Why not – why do you hate them so? What would you like Reactors reacting to? What would you rather the youth of today spend their time doing? Let us know in the comments, and until next time, check around my site for more incoherent rambling!

Reminder on blog links:

A-Z Reviews: This category is a single post with links to all my movie, music, and book reviews. It’s the best place to start and you can check it via THIS LINK. I try to update it regularly.

Amazon Vine: I’m a member of Amazon Vine, a program where Amazon’s best reviewers are provided with free products for reviewing purposes in order to drum up publicity before the product is released to the general public. You can find links to the Products I have received here.

Book Reviews: Something I don’t really do anymore, even though I still read plenty. I need to get back into this, but movies are so much easier to review. Maybe I’ll come up with a different format.

Blogging: A new category! This is where I’m going to put this exact post, and the others like it to follow.

Changing The Past: This category is where I go back through every Oscars since 1960 and pick my winners from almost every category. I pick my winners from the official choices, and then I add my own personal list of who I feel should have been nominated. It’s based on personal preference, but it’s also not based on any of the usual Academy political nonsense and I bypass most of their archaic rules. It’s not quite me just picking my favourite films, but it’s close.

DVD Reviews: I should probably just change this to Movie Reviews. It’s what you would expect – reviews of the movies I’ve watched. I’m not a big fan of reviewing every new film which comes out – there are a billion other blogs out there all doing the same thing. I don’t often watch new movies as they release, unless they’re streaming, so instead you’ll be getting reviews of those films a few years later, once I get around to them. Here you will find horror, actions, classics, foreign, indie, sci-fi, comedy, drama – everything. A word of warning – I frequently post reviews that I wrote almost twenty years ago when I didn’t have a clue – they’re crap, but I add them here in all of their badly written glory.

Essential Movies: I’ve only published an intro post for this category, but I have written some other posts for the future. I’m basically questioning what actually makes a film Essential, because it cannot be a definitive statement. What’s essential for you, may not be for me, so I’ve broken down the definition into a few generic user types, then gone through some lists of the best movies of each year to see which ones are essential for each viewer. It’s pretty boring, and I already regret starting it, but that’s me.

Foreign Cinema Introduction: This category hasn’t been published yet, but once again it exists and I’ve written a bunch of posts for the future. The idea came from my many years of hearing people I know IRL or on the internet dismissing anything not mass-produced by Hollywood. If you only watch movies made in the USA – you’re not a movie fan, it’s as simple as that. I follow a few Facebook fan pages and blogs on WordPress which completely dismiss foreign movies – it’s ridiculous as you are missing out on many of the best films ever made. More than that, you are missing out on films which I know for a fact you will adore. So, this is me breaking down all that bullshit about subtitles, about foreign stuff being boring and every other excuse you’ve ever heard, while giving some very basic thoughts and introductions of the various countries of the world from a film perspective.

Lists: Here I post lists – some with comments, some without. All sorts of lists – from monthly previews of the year’s upcoming movies, to my favourite movies by actor or director, to best horror anthologies, best Christmas songs and TV shows, best movies for Halloween, my favourite episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, my ranking of Bond movies, songs, and girls, my favourite albums by decade, my favourite songs by artist, bands I’ve seen live etc. I love lists.

Manic Street Preachers Song By Song: One of the first reasons I started this blog was to try to spread the Gospel of my favourite band, especially as they are not well known outside of Britain. Defo not in the US. Then I found out there were other blogs doing it too. Ah well. These are my thoughts on each song. Don’t know them? They are a Welsh rock band who have been around since the late 80s, early 90s. They are highly political and intelligent, on the left wing, and they are probably the finest lyricists in the world. Their main lyricist suffered from various addictions and mental health issues and disappeared in 1995 – although there have been sightings, nobody has ever confirmed they have seen him and no body has ever been found, though the band, fans, and family are still looking. After three albums with him, they suddenly became commercially successful after his disappearance. If you like rock music… if you like music in general, please give them a try.

Music Reviews: This is the same as movies, except for music. Reviews of albums I’ve always loved, as reviews of albums as I’m listening as a virgin. I take a look at the Top Ten UK Charts from a random month in each year and review each song, while giving my own alternative ten songs from the same year, I am reviewing albums that I’ve never heard by artists I am familiar with – filling the gaps in those discographies. I’m listening to spin-offs of my favourite bands, I’m reviewing the Disney soundtracks. I was a metal and grunge kid, but also had a love for the best in 80 pop when I was young, so I like to listen to anything though since around the mid-noughties chart music has gone from extremely bad to entirely worthless.

The Nightman Scoring System ©: This is something I truly love, but something which nobody really pays attention to. You’ll notice in my reviews I don’t give a score. I just talk about the thing I’m reviewing. Scores are arbitrary and when given, people jump to the score and form a conclusion and a bias. If they read the content of the review, there will be a better discussion. That made me think, in a very unprofessional, semi-scientific, ill-examined way, to come up with a fair, universal scoring system which tries to avoid personal and systematic bias as much as possible. If you look at sites like Rotten Tomatoes which are stupidly becoming reference points for quality or to convince you to watch something, or used by advertisers, it’s a completely flawed system. Anyone can post whatever they like, and drag down or push up an average. The same used to happen on IMDb. There are a lot of posts online recently about the disparity between Critical and Audience consensus on RT and it leads to more worthless arguments, because if there’s something the world needs more of these days, it’s people fighting online about pointless stuff.

I devised two scoring systems – one for movies and one for music. To use it, you have to follow the guidelines and be honest. If you’re not honest, it will be obvious, and your review won’t be valid. For both music and and movies, I break down the scoring into twenty different categories of equal weighting – out of five, for a total out of 100. Categories include acting, directing, sales; or for music – charts, influence, musical ability etc. Say you hate the Marvel movies or The Beatles. You can’t score them a 1 out of five in the Sales category because both of those were factually monster hits – they can really only be 5 out of five. In other words, some of what is opinion and bias is removed from the equation. In the same vein, the disparity between critics and audiences is reduced – typically you may think that a movie or music critic care more about how arty or original or influential something is, while the audience might care how many boobs are seen or how catchy the melody is. I’m making sweeping assumptions – but you get the idea – each category is equally weighted so that influence is only worth five points, chart performance is only worth five points, directing, advertising, whatever – each is five points. I’d love to see people use this, and I’d love to run an experiment where a group of people each use the system to score the same thing, and see how similar or different the results are. I’m positive the average would be a more true reflection than anything on RT or IMDB or anywhere else. The only issue with it is, it’s more suited to scoring once something has been out there for a while rather than a pre-release or first week review.

Nightman’s Favourite Films By Year: Self-explanatory. I list my favourite ten films from every year since 1950, with no comment. Then I give a list of my top films from each decade once I’ve done each year, but this time share some comments. There’s also some stats in there, such as how many films I picked which were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, which were top ten grossing movies etc.

Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: A journalist called Colin Larkin made several of those popular ‘Top 1000 Albums Ever’ books. I grabbed one of them, I removed the ones I had already heard, and in this series I go through the ones that I haven’t heard, give my virgin thoughts, and whether I think it deserves to be called one of the best ever. I want to sync up my Nightman Scoring System © with these. Just one word of warning – I don’t plan or put any thought into these ‘reviews’. I literally listen and type at the same time. Not the best way to give thoughts I know, but that’s the format.

The Shrine: People die. Famous people die. But they live on, in our hearts and minds and in the work they left behind. Here I offer the chance to remember and offer thanks.

The Spac Hole: Each Monday I post a random lyric from a random song. Every so often I write something which doesn’t fit in any other category. Usually it’s weird. That stuff all goes here. There are more semi-regular pieces like those posts where I use Google translate to change the lyrics of (s)hit songs or dreadful imaginings like what I would do if I owned my own Cinema.

The Spac Reviews: Carlos Nightman is my alter ego. Derek Carpet is his alter ego. He is an idiot. He likes movies. These are his reviews. They are…. different.

TV Reviews: I sometimes review TV too. I talk about my current shows and my all time favourites.

Unpublished Screenplays: Derek Carpet sometimes likes to pretend he’s a writer too. Here are some of his original works, based on other movies and TV shows.

Videogame Reviews: I do these sometimes too. Usually retro. Usually with a humourous bent.

Walk Of Fame: Hollywood has a Walk Of Fame. I have one too. Mine’s better, except I don’t update it anymore. Not only do my inductees get a star, but they get a statue too! And, in each post one lucky soul gets a special building concerning their work or life dedicated to them!

Nightman Listens To – The Stone Roses – Second Coming (Top 1000 Albums Series)!

Greetings, Glancers! I continue my never-ending adventure through the best albums of all time, with a band I’m familiar with but an album I have never heard. As a side note – you see how popular all these Youtubers are getting with song reactions? I especially listen to a lot of the ‘first time reacting to Metallica’ or Metal in general videos, and while they were fun at the start, every other dick has jumped on the bandwagon meaning we get copy and paste ‘personalities’ reacting the same way to the exact same songs. There are a few good ones, but the general format is ‘cute girl/gangsta rap fan listens to Metallica/Iron Maiden/Nightwish/Megadeth and is amazed that people can play instruments/write those lyrics/sing that way, and how they have never heard of it before. With each new reactor it’s getting more false and less likable, but it’s essentially what I’m doing with these posts. The difference being that I’m listening to the entire album and that you don’t get to see my face or my ‘reactions’. Which is probably for the best as I don’t have the most expressive face and it would be even more boring than reading this, as impossible as that sounds. If I ever did do a video reaction, I think it would be less repetitive than when I write – when writing off the cuff like this I tend to take less care in what I write, but when I speak off the cuff I’m much more creative. It’s strange, because it’s the complete opposite when it comes to planning – when I plan, my writing is much more interesting but when I speak it sounds like a sleep inducing speech. Enough!

What Do I Know About The Stone Roses: Only released two albums – the first was a huge success, influential, and has a few songs I enjoy. John Squire played guitar, Mani was on Bass, and Ian Brown started the whole strutting about Manchester singer thing. I’ve seen Ian Brown live several times, though not by choice – he just always seems to be there.

What Do I Know About Second Coming: It wasn’t a flop, but didn’t have the success or praise of the first. Looking at the tracklist, there’s only one song I definitely know but I know I’ve heard some of the others because my best mate in school was a massive fan.

Breaking Into Heaven: An intro heavily reliant on feedback, distortion, and looping, followed up by water sounds – a river, and is that a bird. I think I’ve heard this before but it’s not stirring any memories at the moment. Some voices lingering in the background, like a train announcement system. Tribal beats and lasers and bird calls. Sudden guitar wankery. This goes on for a few more minutes. The shift into the song proper doesn’t quite work – the drums come in perfectly but there’s this little gap in the guitar where it feels too jarring – it should be a clean break or a fade but this is neither. Brown’s familiar vocals waft in – as I’ve said elsewhere I’m not a fan of the Manchester scene and a lot of the samey vocal styles which came with it. It feels like a band in full command of their abilities and bursting with confidence. The vocal melodies are too wispy and light – slightly better for the chorus and bridge but nothing which really grabs me. It’s all about the guitar, with Squire tearing it up and turning a non-eventful tune into something more epic than it may genuinely be. The middle melody is stronger, followed by another instrumental and kicking solo, before it fades out.

Driving South: This opens with a beast of a riff, phat and thic and other misspelled, well-meaning adjectives. The drums don’t do much for me – they’re too static and rigid – again like much of the Manchester stuff of the era. Brown’s vocals don’t match the bite of the guitar and instead he goes for an air of cool – that worked for most people of the time but I never bought into it being much more on the grunge side of the fence. Really this is all guitar and the words and melodies are so far in the background as to render them pointless. If we had a good melody then we would have a much better song. As it stands it’s still good – easy to move to, easy to listen to, but it may as well be an instrumental.

Ten Storey Love Song: This is the one I definitely know as my mate played it for days. It has a famous noise fade in, with a lot of bits which swirl around in conflict with each other, sometimes joining, mostly breaking, until the lead guitar line and vocal comes into view. We finally have a decent melody and the band matches it. It’s a fantastic, underrated song, but I imagine how good it would be with a vocalist really belting it out – Bono or Bradfield would have a whale of a time with this. The drums are even more interesting, filling out the spaces and leaving a few well intended ones of their own.

Daybreak: This doesn’t start out well – more of the same whispered, accented vocals and shuffle drum beats, with riffs relying on old Blues tropes. The little instrumental section between verses is great – drums included – but then the verses come again and leave me flat. The guitar acts as a better drum in the verses. It’s weird, because those instrumental pieces are excellent, guitar, bass, and drum all loose like the best Zeppelin jams. Vocals in the middle are a little better. It closes out with an organ of all things and a big guitar and drum sped up jamming session which is good fun. A song of highs and lows.

Your Star Will Shine: Is this going to be the hippy track of the album. A gentle acoustic intro with hand clap style drums and some backwards stuff at play. A better attempt at melody. This suits the vocal approach better. It’s short and it doesn’t progress much and still a bit light to make an impact on me.

Straight To The Man: A brief tribal intro morphs into a Seventies porn rhythm. This is probably the most straight and simple song so far, it doesn’t stray from the norm, and it hits all the established notes of the album except for the more creative experimental leanings.

Begging You: A fade in of throbbing and swirling guitar bits before the same old drum beat drops, albeit in a slightly faster pace. The vocals are marginally more aggressive, but this one feels repetitive. There’s a lot of distortion and the guitar parts are noise based rather than your standard hooks, chords, or riffs, disparate parts coming together to form a mass. It has a few moments of interest, namely more instrumental or any time the drums cut out. Another which doesn’t do much for me.

Tightrope: A second hippy track? A lazy vocal with single chord strums, and tapping beats to give a campfire singalong feel. I thought it was going to explode, but instead it became even more campfire. Feels like a Youth Mission on a beach. I see what they’re going for, but it’s flat, dull, and boring. More like a demo written and recorded inside 5 minutes while the producer was taking a dump/snorting coke.

Good Times: This is becoming a slog now, waiting for a better song – a bit of invention. This starts with harmonica, so that’s different. Vocal with drums, or cymbals I should say. This is a fine example of Brown not being the most appealing vocalist. The guitar comes in – great, but the drums do too, and that’s not so great. This is little more than a middle of the road old fashioned rock and roll song with the Manchester sound cumming all over it, and a dashing of Squire goodness. A better singer would take it up a notch, but it’s distinctly average. At least there’s more energy, but you feel the band lost all their creative writing the two best songs.

Tears: A third hippy song. This has a very folk Zeppelin vibe in the intro. Any comparison ends the moment Brown opens his gub. It just keeps going on, at the same level, with no variety yet without hitting the hypnotic quality, until finally the volume strikes and I have a giggle at Brown’s awful attempts at keeping up. Honestly, any other singer would have made 90% of these songs 70% better. The Zep vibes continue as the heavier parts suspiciously mimic the heavier parts of Stairway to the extent that this is surely a knowing homage. Squire plays a blinder again, even the drums are decent. I’d quite enjoy this song with another singer, or with Brown actually putting in some effort.

How Do You Sleep: Good guitar intro, cool lyrics. Brown’s vocals… well, we know what we’re getting by now. This feels like an anthem – it’s straightforward and has a more obvious melodic quality from start to finish. It’s that lazy/laid back drawl which still holds it back for me. I know plenty of people who love that, but my personal preference is for vocalists with power or urgency. Sweet, simple solo in the middle. I’d happily listen to this one again, but that only makes it three or four from the whole.

Love Spreads: Ha, for the briefest second this sounded like Radiohead’s I Might Be Wrong. It’s groovy, great production as always, and it has that foot tapping rhythm. I know it’ll fall over once Brown comes in. And yes, it does. I realize I’m being harsh on him, but it’s just no my thing. The problem with some of the vocals, not in this song, is that he is quite severely out of tune. Drums are much better here. The last couple of minutes are needlessly stretched out. A decent end but stamps again how little the Madchester scene means to me.

There’s meant to be some Untitled stuff at the end of the album, but I’m not going hunting for it now.

What Did I Learn: That the one band with the greatest chance of making me enjoy the whole Madchester thing… couldn’t. The whole look, style, the spidey wee glasses, the awful hair, the ‘look at me everyone, I’m taking drugs’ arrogance, the strutting about like you’ve shit your pants… it’s embarrassing and hateful, and produced a hell of a lot less good music than people think. I already knew Squire was a great guitarist, but this reminded me and taught me that he was the main driving force in the band. It also reminded me of the importance of having a strong singer in the group; it doesn’t matter how good the band is – if your singer is muck, then the whole temple tumbles to ruin. Oasis remain the only Manchester band I regularly enjoy. I love the song names, if that’s any consolation.

Does It Deserve Its Place In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: Based on the usual criteria – no. I don’t believe it sold well, critical reviews have always been mixed, and by the time this came out their time of influence had already passed. Had this been their first album then maybe, but this isn’t as good as their first. There are a couple of great songs, a few which could have been great with a decent singer, but the rest are middling. The overriding feeling I got from this is that Squire wished he was in a metal band. I understand why people will love it and will dance to it and get mad for it or whatever, but beyond the guitar there are a hundred other Indie bands from the same time doing stuff exactly like this and it fails to stand out. Change the singer, keep the drums away from that repetitive style, and I’d enjoy this a lot more. Even with all of that, I imagine if I was drunk or listened to this more I’d get into more by pure familiarity. I have no desire to.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 920/1000

Let us know in the comments what you think of The Second Coming!

Best Supporting Actor – 1978

Official Nominations: Christopher Walken. Bruce Dern. Richard Farnsworth. John Hurt. Jack Warden.

As strong as this category is, Christopher Walken is the clear winner for me. Walken had already been appearing in movies for over a decade, but it’s his heartbreaking, devastating turn as the damaged Vietnam vet, Nick, who is so traumatized by his experience that he forces himself to relive them over again afterwards. He isn’t yet going full Walken, but the early twitches and vocal acrobatics are there, yet it is a performance grounded in reality and delivered with an uncanny force leading to one of the most famous climaxes in Cinema.

Bruce Dern plays another man damaged by the war and returning home to find his former life shattered. It’s another strong performance characterized by Dern’s singular approach and in another year would be a worthy winner. Richard Farnsworth had been an uncredited actor and stunt performer for decades but finally broke through with a surprise performance and nomination in the little remembered Comes A Horseman. It’s not a role overly vital to the plot or significance of the film but it’s nice to see a professional getting recognised and being allowed to take that next step with great success.

Jack Warden is always a commanding presence in any film, his brand of stern authority and comedy merging to great results in many cases – here he also gets to show a softer side. Finally, John Hurt gets a nomination for Midnight Express as a shriveled addict who befriends the lead character. In theory any of the supporting cast could get a nomination here, but Hurt plays the character who stays longest in our memory.

My Winner: Christopher Walken

My Nominations: Christopher Walken. John Hurt. Gary Busey. John Savage. Gene Hackman. Michael Jackson.

Two of the official boyos make it onto my list to craft a very motley crew. Along with his official Best Actor nomination this year, I stick Busey into the Supporting sphere thanks to yet another Vietnam coming of age film – Big Wednesday. Busey is one of the lead trio, in a role that would perhaps inspire the rest of his career as ‘the crazy one’. It is more grounded than what he would later deliver, but it’s a clear jumping off point. John Savage continues the nominations for The Deer Hunter, justifiably getting some of the attention usually reserved for Walken and De Niro. His turn as the eventually paraplegic Steven is one of the many reasons why the film is still held in such high regard.

Gene Hackman has another stab at comedy after being mainly known for his serious roles in dramatic thrillers. His Lex Luthor is joyfully maniacal and suitably camp – Superman was never meant to be a ‘dark’ or ‘gritty’ story (sorry Release The Snyder Cut fans) given it’s about a wholesome corn-fed fella flapping about the sky in fetching spandex. Hackman plays it a level of sophistication above the 60s Batman TV series, but with knowing smirks – one suspects he wasn’t aware that the film was going to be such a success. Finally, keeping things in a pseudo-camp vein is The Wiz – a jived up retelling of The Wizard Of Oz. Not content with being one of the best, most successful singers and dancers in the world at the time, Michael Jackson tried his hand at acting. Honestly, based on his performance here it’s unfortunate he never attempted much more subsequently as he is arguably the best reason for watching the film.

My Winner: Christopher Walken

Let us know in the comments who you pick as your Best Supporting Actor of 1978!

Nightman’s Least Favourite Movies Of 2000!

It took me a longer time than it usually does to find a suitable list of movies to include for this post. Sometimes you get those years where very few films stink up the nose holes.

Kevin And Perry Go Large

More difficult than me finding ten movies I didn’t like this year, is finding a British sitcom which translates successfully to the big screen. In the case of Kevin And Perry – they came from more of a sketch show rather than a sitcom, though their particular sequences in the various Harry Enfield series essentially acted as a mini sitcom. Being in my early teens when the Harry Enfield series were prime time viewing, maybe I should have related more to Kevin and Perry, somehow, even though they were clearly mocking annoying teen culture and clueless parents. They weren’t my favourite sequences or characters though – I still liked them but I liked other parts more. Maybe what irked me most was the fact that these guys were held up as the ‘mascots’ of the series – everyone was doing impressions and one-liners of these guys to the point that it was clear they hadn’t watched any other part of the show. The movie itself sees the teenagers heading off to Ibiza for a steek-fest, in the hope of getting drunk and getting laid, and it sadly became a celebration of 90s Lad Culture instead of a satire. Plus, it isn’t funny, it’s badly directed, and the characters are too thin to sustain a feature.

What Lies Beneath

Big budget horror movies with big names, fully backed by a powerhouse studio? Honestly, these never work for me anymore – the recent attempts at classy horror like this, like The Others, lack the scares and don’t show me anything new. It wasn’t until A24 came along and pulled the same trick, but did it with authenticity and originality. What Lies Beneath sure looks the part – A-list cast, it’s pretty, it’s classy. But it has zero balls, it’s bland, it relies on a twist which is fairly obvious from the opening minutes, and it is painfully long.

Billy Elliot

It’s a British comedy about a boy who just wants to dance. Was there any way this wasn’t going to make my list? The only other question is why I ever watched it in the first place.

Book Of Shadows

As much of a divisive film as it is, I love The Blair Witch Project – not only for what it did and achieved, but because it was for me an extremely effective horror film with an ever increasing atmosphere, a crippling of characters’ mentality, just enough world-building to intrigue, and a wonderful finale. I fully understand those people it didn’t work for – different things scare different people. I fail to understand how anyone could enjoy Book Of Shadows, on anything more than a base level. It fails as a sequel, it fails as a standalone due to its general incoherence and amateur feel, and it fails as a horror film – we’ve seen it all before a thousand times better and worse. I only ever saw it once when it was released, so maybe my feelings will have changed if I saw it again now – doubt it.

Red Planet/Mission To Mars

Honestly, I can’t remember which one of these it was, or indeed if it was both. I think it had Val Kilmer in it, but then again Mission To Mars sounds like the film I remember him being in – which isn’t the case. All I remember is looking out the window more than at the TV. In truth, both weren’t great but one was particularly grueling.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

I only saw this one during a recent Christmas break, as something festive to watch with the kids. A mistake on my part, and on everyone involved. This is the sort of monstrosity I assume that the Cats movie is, but I struggle to see how anything could be more painful than this. Now – like the previous entry, there’s every chance I’m confusing this or merging it with The Cat In The Hat movie with Mike Myers. In any case, both are abominations which should never be spoke of again, unless as part of some arcane incantation to invoke the undead holy power of Nzzgrprtkaghk.

Snatch

Guy Ritchie has yet to make a movie I’ve tolerated, never mind liked. This and Lock, Stock were all over ever twats’ walls in poster form when I went to University. I don’t get it. Of course, I can’t stand any of that Cockney shite that people seem to love – I can think of fewer things I like less than films set in London’s criminal underworld.

Ginger Snaps

This film angered me because it seemed to get a lot of plaudits and credit and acclaim when it immediately struck me as a try-hard Buffy clone. While nobody actually seemed to be talking about Buffy and how important it was, critics were fawning over the stuff that wouldn’t have existed without it. In the late 90s, a lot of Buffy clones made it on to our TVs – young, sexy, self-aware, smart teens quipping in school and juggling daily lives and some wider conspiracy or secret. Ginger Snaps is precisely this, but told in a more irritating way and without an ounce of the originality it is claimed to have.

Meet The Parents

Are any of these good? Actually, don’t answer that, I don’t care. The first was bad enough.

Let us know in the comments which films of 2000 you would slap onto the naughty list!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 2000!

It’s 2000! Sure it took until 2020 for The Great Plague to come and strike us all down, but for a while in 2000 people were freaking out. Also – there were movies. Here are some of my favourites. Brother was Takeshi Kitano testing his toes again in the US – it’s fun, mainstream. American Psycho is all chainsaws and suits and nudity. Amores Perros is another classic of South American cinema which still feels fresh, while Baise Moi has nothing ‘fresh’ about – it’s scary, filthy, and unmissable. Erin Brockovich is one of the rare Oscar bait movies which I enjoy. In The Mood For Love is trippy, sexy goodness. Memento is trippy trippy goodness. MI 2 is probably my favourite in the series, though everyone else says it is the weakest.

10: Almost Famous. (USA) Cameron Crowe.

Almost Famous dropped at the right time for people like me, of my generation. I was 16/17, ready to set off in the world and make an impact,brimming with dreams and wonder and a desire for experience. Plus I was already a big fan of a lot of the rock music of the 1960s and 70s. Almost Famous has that hopeful, free vibe flowing through – a great cast, terrific soundtrack, and hits my personal sweet spot as a coming of age story too following a kid trying to break into a world of writing, music, heroes, and rock and roll excess.

9: Gladiator (USA/UK). Ridley Scott.

Regular readers will already know this, but it’s worth calling out here for those of you who only read the list posts. From a very early age, I had an obsession with Greek and Roman myths and legends which eventually became intertwined with the genuine history of those countries. I studied Latin in school for 7 years, and part of my University Studies was in ‘Classics’ – the literature, language, and philosophy of Greece and Rome. My Latin class in School (there only was eight of us) actually went on a School trip to see Gladiator after the rave reviews one of my classmates was giving it. Aside from finally getting a decent version of the Trojan Epics, this is the best film someone like me could have hoped for. It’s an epic without all the faff which came later to the ‘genre’, a story of personal grief, struggle, and justice, a remarkable depiction of Rome with bloody battles and at least a couple of great leading performances. Super soundtrack too.

8: Best In Show (USA). Christopher Guest.

Just a quick update since I originally wrote this post – after the great Fred Willard sadly passed away. What a massive loss to the comedy world it is.

I went through a Christopher Guest phase in the early 2000s, repeatedly watching this, A Mighty Wind, and Waiting For Guffman while laughing my ass off and gobbling down illegitimate muffins. This one is a large step up in laughs from Waiting For Guffman and is just as strong a movie as This Is Spinal Tap. Set in the, already laughable, world of Dog Shows it follows various hopeful Dog Owners as they prepare their pooches, in often surreal situations, for a chance at stardom at the prestigious Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show. All of the usual Guest favourites are out in force – Eugene Levy (who literally has two left feet), Catherine O’Hara (whose promiscuous past keeps catching up with her), Fred Willard (as the scene stealing over exuberant co-host of the event), and John Michael Higgins and Michael McKean (as the bitchy gay couple).

Like the best mockumentaries, this has a fair level of understanding of the subject matter meaning the satire and detail hit the mark more often than not. The cast are all comedy veterans and are both at ease and having great fun with the material, so it makes for comfortable viewing – there are no try-hards and the jokes range from dialogue based to slapstick, from visual to surreal, all with a light-hearted sprinkle of vignette silliness.

7: Dancer in The Dark (Denmark). Lars Von Trier

There’s a strong case for Dancer In The Dark being Von Trier’s best movie. It works on a number of levels, but most crucially it doesn’t feel like either exploitation or experimentation – it works as a brutal and downbeat drama with less of a focus on the director’s quirks and ego, and more on the character and plot. Bjork is spellbinding, the soundtrack features a few great songs, and the rest of the cast give notable performances. Is it manipulative? Sure – it’s a Lars Von Trier movie so that is part of the package, but it asks a lot of questions of the viewer and wrenches its answers unflinchingly.

6: Unbreakable (USA). M Night Shyamalan

Unbreakable remains Shyamalan’s best work – The Sixth Sense continues to get the plaudits, namely because it was first and people were so taken in by the twist, but Unbreakble is more accomplished in almost every level – a gloomy take on the comic book genre which you don’t even realize is a comic book movie until the final scenes, unless you’ve been paying attention closely or reading these spoilers.

5: Pitch Black (USA). David Twohy

I’m probably remembering this wrong, but I’m almost certain I saw the trailer for this a solid year before it was actually released. I remember catching the trailer and thinking ‘what the hell was that, that looked epic’. But nobody else mentioned it afterwards and I began to think it was all a dream. Then a year later it returned and I grabbed a couple of people and raced to the Cinema shouting ‘this is that trailer I told you all about’! What was even better was that Aeryn from Farscape was in it – of course nobody in the screening knew what the hell Farscape was and told me to shut the hell up. Plus you have Keith David in a legit big screen outing! But the film is all about Vin Diesel and his Riddick character – one that would become less interesting with each sequel, but here he has just the right amount of mystery to make him an enigma. Oh yes, it’s also set on a planet filled with near-unstoppable monsters in near-unstoppable numbers which only come out in the dark, and it just so happens that the planet is entering it’s ‘Winter’ Season when all light is extinguished. It was the best pure alien creature feature since Aliens. 

4: X-Men (USA). Bryan Singer

The only reason I really wanted to watch X-Men was because I loved the 90s cartoon. I’vev never been a big comic book fan and the comic movies I’ve enjoyed are few and far between, given how many there have been. When I like them, I love them and X-Men seemed more interesting given the cast and director. It was better than I expected and while it lacks much of an emotional core, it is more clever and socially relevant than whatever passes for superhero entertainment these days. Plus there’s a tonne of kick-ass action and the cast are committed.

3: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (China/HK/Taiwan/USA). Ang Lee

By 2000, I was already well versed in Asian Cinema, particularly Kung fu movies. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Wuxia type movies, preferring realism in my tales of revenge. Ang Lee brought a heightened sense of realism to the genre, removing much of the magic but keeping the romance and string-work, bringing the beauty of the best of Hong Kong and Chinese Cinema in a more palatable way to Western audiences – without the flag waving patriotism in other words. Established stars Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun Fat give a sense of familiarity and credibility, while Zhang Ziyi became a household name thanks to her blend of teeth shattering beauty and baddassery.

2: Final Destination (USA). James Wong

It’s in my best of the decade, so check for more info there.

1: Battle Royale (Japan). Kinji Fukasaku

It’s my favourite film of the decade. It’s also the best film since 2000.

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: Two

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: Two (including the winner)

Nightman Listens To – Accept – Restless And Wild (Top 500 Metal Albums Series)!

Greetings, Glancers! It’s perhaps apt that I begin this metal journey with a band whose name starts with an ‘A’. Accept isn’t a band I have a lot of experience with, at least not that I am conscious of. As with many of the bands and albums coming up, I’ve probably heard their stuff and just ignored it or not known who it was. I know fo’ sho’ I’ve heard a number of songs by Accept – their 1983 hit Balls To The Wall is familiar to most metal fans of a certain age. They’re a band who have been going since the 1970s and are still recording an touring today – when you’re metal, you never stop. Hailing from Germany, we may be in for some unintentionally hilarious lyrics or accents, and we’re sure to hit some top speeds. I know the band are one of those European bands named by later, more successful bands as an influence so I’m hopeful I get this series off with a blast. This 1982 release was apparently their fourth album, just before they hit it big with Balls To The Wall so maybe this has some of the hit-making qualities which paved the way.

Fast As A Shark: Ah yes. I know this one – it’s in the classic Demons – a movie about people trapped by zombies/demons in a cinema. It has a comedy false opening with some sort of folk song which gets obliterated by a shriek and some lightening drumming. As was standard for the genre and the period, the vocals are somewhere north of crotch-crushing. The production isn’t the best, but it’s far from the worst and gives it that added grimy touch – like watching a VHS tape. You won’t be able to make out most of the lyrics, but this is all about the speed and energy anyway. You can tell where the likes of Metallica got their influence from – many thrash guitar solos which would emerge in the next few years sound just like this.

Restless And Wild: Here we get a slice of Maiden-esque galloping. It’s a great intro which falls apart in the verses as the instruments withdraw and the vocals go to strange places. For metal fans, there’s plenty here to charm you but it’s not going to entertain anyone else. There isn’t much subtlety and you can understand your average listener dismissing it as noise. The rest of the band gets in on the vocal act, chucking in deeper harmonies in that classic 80s shouty way. The solo is another belter though.

Ahead Of The Pack: A more restrained, cultured intro if you will. Of course it’s only seconds before we descend into another series of adolescent-pandering slogans and screams – just the way we like it. It’s a very classic metal feel. The verses do this interesting pause thing once each time which catches you off guard. It doesn’t seem to serve any other purpose. There’s a cool effect before the solo smashes in, and the tone of the lead guitar is dirtier than a whore on Friday.

Shake Your Heads: A slower song with a simple riff/structure. Those vocals though, they sound like a eunuch being throttled. Imagine Bon Scott being fired to the moon via a firework in his anus, and you’ll be somewhere close. Still, that’s what everyone was at those days. The solo has more room to breath with this structure, but it’s a very basic one. Maybe one the fans can practice playing along to.

Neon Nights: I just had to pause in my writing there, because that intro is fantastic. There are a few moments which remind me of much bigger metal songs, eerie and otherworldly, and then there’s a great fuzzy boom and guitar tone before the song properly starts. The vocals are more restrained, nowhere near the sphincter melting heights of every other track. The solo goes back to that fuzzy tone of the intro as the rhythm section slops along. This one was written with a little more skill and attention.

Get Ready: A more straightforward classic rock intro with a little metal kick. The vocals are back. This one feels cheesier than the rest. It’s still fun and quirky for the modern metal listener and it’s decent enough for me who remembers a lot of this sort of thing from my childhood. I’m not a big fan of the ‘shout along handful of word chorus’ approach which Def Leppard would later perfect – it’s prominent here.

Demon’s Night: It starts okay, but loses steam in its simplicity. Decent rhythm, chugs along – it’s a bit of a precursor to Creeping Death but with little of that song’s brilliance and spark. Lots of pleasingly headache inducing guitar inflections and twists – a pity of the vocal melodies and approach don’t shape up.

Flash Rockin’ Man: An intro suspiciously like Two Minutes To Midnight. Ha ha, a quick look down the comments and everyone has mentioned the same thing. METAL! The verse goes in a completely different direction from that classic and it doesn’t have a chorus – instead going for some bonus guitars. Well, it eventually gets to a chorus. I’ve no idea what he’s shouting about. It just reminds me of a time when every metal band sounded like this and some of the local hoods would walk around with ghetto blasters pissing off the oldies by playing this stuff. Some nice twists in the second half.

Don’t Go Stealing My Soul Away: This one comes closest to having an actual melodic, singalong chorus. Yeah, if you want to rip your throat to pieces by trying to sing along with any of the songs on this album, by all means go ahead. It’s another simple one which gets immediately to the point and stays there with no frills. Not much to say beyond that singalong chorus.

Princess Of The Dawn: Jeepers, this one has a Two Minutes To Midnight feel too. Then it turns into Maiden’s The Clairvoyant. It’s another strong intro and this time they go all in on the melody. As much as they’re creatively able to at least. The vocals are patchy in places, mumbling and veering between the lower range and the painful high stuff. Who is the princess of the dawn? She Ra? Great solo. The best production and attention seems to have gone towards keeping the solos crisp. There’s excellent drum-work as the solo draws to a close and the final couple of minutes throw in a batch of other ideas which raise the song to further heights.

If I’d been a born a few years earlier and had access to more funds and the ability to buy stuff, I imagine I would have listened to a lot more stuff like this. As it stands, I was only exposed to the biggest bands and everything else was one-off songs until much later.  By the time I had money, it was all grunge and Brit-pop. There’s enough ability here that you can tell the band weren’t just making up the numbers in the metal community. They weren’t just playing fast and loud, they were expanding and trying other things. They don’t go very far in that direction here – maybe they do on later albums – but maybe those were enough to encourage the next wave of bands to go further. Metal fans of my age and older will enjoy this, but I don’t see many metal fans younger than me going for it – it does feel too much like a relic of another age, and it you weren’t a part of that age the style and approach may be too foreign to you. Still, I’m glad I’ve heard it and there are a few I’ll be listening to again even if I wouldn’t class any as a great.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Neon Night. Faster Than A Shark. Princess Of The Dawn.

Best Actor – 1978

Official Nominations: Jon Voight. Warren Beatty. Gary Busey. Robert De Niro. Laurence Olivier.

In the late 70s, De Niro took over from Pacino in The Best Actor official category, here gaining his third nomination. It was Jon Voight though who picked up the win in a genuinely tough category. I think all five performances here are contenders, but I would have four front-runners including Voight as the severely injured soldier Coming Home. De Niro’s performance also sees him returning home from, going to, and being in Vietnam and I feel it’s the more iconic, more rounded of the two. Gary Busey hits the big time with his superb portrayal of Buddy Holly, one of the most underrated biography performances of all time, while Laurence Olivier gets a veteran nomination as a Nazi Hunter in The Boys From Brazil. Unlike most veteran nominations, this one is deserving on its own merits. Finally, Warren Beatty is the outsider and this feels more like a ‘we love you, Warren’ nomination than anything else. A good performance sure, but not on par with the others.

My Winner: Robert De Niro

My Nominations: Jon Voight. Gary Busey. Robert De Niro. Christopher Reeve. Donald Pleasence. Jan Michael Vincent. Gregory Peck. Brad Davis. Ryan O’Neal. John Belushi.

Three make it over from the official list, joining a mixture of possible snubs and personal favourites. Christopher Reeve burst onto the scene as the only Superman who will ever matter (sorry Dean Cain), a role so all-encompassing that he could never escape it. It’s a great lead performance surrounded by a stellar cast – his comedic talents giving Clark Kent that awkward, clumsy charm while easily transitioning into the all-powerful hero figure. Also kind of playing an awkward and heroic character is Donald Pleasence as Dr Loomis in Halloween, one of the great good guys of horror cinema. the sequels have a fair bit of scenery chewing, but here Pleasence looks like he’s relishing the performance and film, having fun as this slightly manic protector of a child who wsa pure evil. Is he truly a lead though? Tough, I’m adding him.

Jan Michael Vincent didn’t really stand a chance against De Niro and Voight, but his performance in Big Wednesday shares a lot of similarities and should have been a stepping off point to much bigger things. Unfortunately, things never quite panned out that way, perhaps some critical praise would have helped. Gregory Peck goes against type and plays one of the most despicable humans ever in The Boys From Brazil – proving that everyone’s favourite wholesome figure could be much more. Brad Davis could have become a household name if he had received more high profile praise for his star making turn in Midnight Express while John Belushi became an icon after Animal House. Finally, Ryan O’Neal stars as the titular Driver in Walter Hill’s action/chase classic. When people think of Ryan O’Neal they invariably go to Love Story or Paper Moon but for me it’s The Driver which features his best performance, much against type, as the cool and detached getaway driver whose apparently obvious desires are perhaps not so obvious upon reevaluation.

My Winner: Robert De Niro

Let us know your picks in the comments!