Nightman Listens To – David Bowie – Station To Station


Greetings, Glancers! We hop on the Bowie train today and choo-choo-choose another of his most famous and acclaimed albums – Station To Station.  I’m in a bit of a groove now with Bowie as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the last couple of albums I’ve listened to by him. I am concerned now that by choosing to listen to whole albums by a particular artist that said artist is going to die – watch out Madonna, Adams, and Jovi, I guess. With this album, Bowie his Thin White Duke and Berlin phases, and looking at the tracklist (only six songs!) I think I only know two of the songs.

If you’re a regular Glancer, you’ll know that I usually write most of my posts months in advance of actually posting them. At current time of writing, it’s 11th May 2016. I have an unpublished post (at time of writing) on Young Americans, which I wrote shortly before Bowie died. You’ll know by now then that 2016 has been a fairly horrific year for death of icons big and small. I should say that does add a certain poignancy to listening to these albums now, but that shouldn’t factor into me liking them or otherwise. This is going to be the first Bowie album I have listened to since he died in other words. I hope it’s a good’un.

‘Station To Station’. This begins with a lot of hissing and phasing noises flying from ear to ear, and the occasional chugging along tracks before a two note Jaws like melody starts. This is all very ominous and industrial and maddening, and it doesn’t feel coherent until the drums kick in. Even then we have minutes of noise – scratching guitars, dissonance and distortion, and assorted instruments popping in until eventually the vocals join. The vocals are deep in tone and waver ghostly, the beat repetitive and the melody trouncing like clockwork. It isn’t until after the five minute work that a more immediate traditionally melodic section begins. This veers a little too close to the glam rock tone that I don’t enjoy, but there is enough experimentation and weirdness to keep a barrier between the two. I don’t remember this being over ten minutes long. There’s a saucy solo in there somewhere too.

Golden Years‘ is quite a funky one that I know from the Stephen King series of the same name. It’s all quite unusual with the vocals moving from fast to slow, low to high, agitated to drunken. It’s a strange one to try to foot tap to as the beat keeps shifting and an assortment of hand claps and drums come in to mix it up. Again the backing riffs and instrumentation have a monotony (not in a negative sense) which keeps the songs moving in a hypnotic droning fashion. I’m not convinced the final thirty seconds or so are really needed, but I suppose they provide a suitable ending.

Word On A Wing’ string synth sound and lovely piano. Drums and piano and guitar. Nice vocals which build to a crescendo where Bowie lets his voice belt out like he rarely allows. Again there are a few changes in beat and rhythm, but the tone stays true throughout and it all remains quite lovely. The vocals and music meld together to make an emotional whole of the type I haven’t felt much from Bowie in my listening so far. I imagine that his big and long term fans would shed a few tears when playing this one now. Synth and organ for the finish.

TVC 15‘ has a honky tonk feel, that piano and those ‘eh eh oh oh ohs’. A futuristic Country song. Again the song has a trance like monotony and the vocals are particularly manic. I laughed at the ‘transition/transmission’ section as the song literally changes, and then an epic volume and upgraded beat come in to raise the song a few notches. Then it all smooths out after the three minute mark to return to the ‘eh eh oh ohs’. Quite a bizarre song with a puzzling and hypnotic structure all of its own.

Stay‘ opens like it’s going to be heavy rocker to an inspirational sports movie like Rocky. It’s another weird yet effective mixture of funk, disco, rock, and utter chaos. I suspect modern audiences would think he was off his face recording stuff like this. Of course he was, but he had been recording similarly strange works for years. So much of it feels avant garde yet free and unrehearsed, but I think that’s more a testament to the writers and performers. Great guitar work in the middle, naturally great work from everyone but it’s always the guitar I notice, and these antics drift on for the final minutes.

Wild Is The Wind‘is a soft and more traditional song to close the album, though having said that Bowie does go full weirdo for the vocals. It feels like another highly emotionally charged song, especially with every repetition of that title line. And so we have another which is bound to send fans into floods of tears, but what’s with the sudden abrupt end?

A bit of a departure from the previous couple of albums which I have liked. I did like this, and I imagine it would grow on me with more listens but it didn’t have the immediate impact I was hoping for. The handful of emotional songs felt powerful, and the endless groove and fixation on movement was also interesting, and I think the album had some of the best musicianship of the albums I’ve heard so far. Let me know in the comments where this ranks in your list of best Bowie albums, what your favourite songs are, and any other opinions!

Cockneys Vs Zombies


It seems there’s a zombie mashup for every occasion; all we need now is Zombies vs Zombies, and the world will implode in an undead mass. While it’s true that the majority of these efforts are terrible, every so often something good squeezes through. Cockneys Vs Zombies just about hits the mark thanks to its charm and swagger and a number of funny moments and a good cast. Although the whole geezer thing gets irritating after a few minutes, it somehow doesn’t get too badly in the way of this entertaining jaunt through the East End.

Firstly, I’m surprised at how little money the movie has made given the critical consensus and a fair amount of hype and advertising around release, at least in the UK. According to Wikipedia, the movie has only made just over 100 grand off a 2 Million budget. That in itself is enough to make me recommend the movie – it’s a hell of a lot better than movies which rake in tens or hundreds of millions – better made, more inventive, funnier etc. Audiences outside of the UK may struggle with some of the speech and dialogue, but if you’re willing to give it a try, and if you like zombie movies, there’s no reason why you won’t enjoy this.


Harry Treadaway and Rasmus Hardiker star as Cockney brothers who want to help raise the money required to prevent their Grandfather’s Retirement home from being demolished. Not having any particular skills or education, they decide to rob a bank. When the robbery goes tits up the brothers (along with their cousin Katy and two friends) take a couple of people hostage. While all this has been going on, a construction group has accidentally discovered an abandoned 17th Century graveyard underground containing zombies – unleashing a growing wave of the undead across the East End. Soon the group of friends and hostages are surrounded by zombies and need to set aside their differences to reach their loved ones and try to fight their way out of London.

The film has some very funny moments – the zombie chasing the old man (Richard Briers’ last role) and much of the action in and around the Retirement home. Although Alan Ford’s hard old man shtick wears then very quickly, the appearance of Honor Blackman and Michelle Ryan, along with the rest of the cast prove that the ensemble can carry and cover most annoyances. The movie doesn’t deviate far from most movies of its kind – the outbreak, the siege, and the escape are all present, but the addition of the elderly characters and the setting, along with the fact that everyone involved is having fun mean that this is infectious and entertaining, if not as timeless as Shaun Of The Dead. Give it a go if you are a fan of that movie as it shows there is still life in this beaten horse.


Let us know in the comments what you thought of Cockney’s Vs Zombies – is it one film too many in the genre, or one joke too few?

Best Music (Scoring) – 1968

Official Nominations: The Lion In Winter. Planet Of The Apes. The Thomas Crown Affair. The Shoes Of The Fisherman. The Fox. Oliver! Star! Finian’s Rainbow. The Young Girls Of Rochefort. Funny Girl.

The Scoring award was split this year between original and adaptation scores, but I’ll bundle them into one. John Barry picked up an official win for The Lion In Winter, a score with many heavy and mysterious tones thanks to dramatic horns and ominous low blasts, made all the more eerie thanks to the choir. Goldsmith’s soundtrack to The Planet Of The Apes is a fitting mixture of the experimental and strange with creeping piano and woodwind instruments. The main theme lacks a true hook, giving that air of mystery, threat, and confusion that the film relies on. Legrand’s work for The Thomas Crown Affair is filled with jazz and cool, but as such lacks the melodies which tend to grab me and mostly reminds me of musical wafted through shopping malls. Alex North does find some useful melodies in the stirring score for The Shoes Of The Fisherman but nothing outstanding while Schifrin’s work for The Fox has some truly beautiful moments throughout the main arrangements. Johnny Green picked up another win for Oscar – you already know how it sounds, while you can imagine exactly how Lennie Hayton’s Star! sounds. Similarly, Heindorf and Burton’s Finian’s Rainbow is mostly fluff while Legrand does the French equivalent with The Young Girls Of Rochefort. Oh look! Funny Girl is your standard musical fare.

My Winner: The Lion In Winter.


My Nominations: The Lion In Winter. The Planet Of The Apes. The Fox. 2001: A Space Odyssey. Barbarella. Bullitt. Hang Em High. The Odd Couple. Once Upon A Time In The West. Rosemary’s Baby. Where Eagles Dare.

I add a number of obvious choices in this category – films either with classic themes, haunting scores, or a combination of both. Ennio Morricone does it again, and maybe pulls off his finest score for Once Upon A Time In The West while Stanley Kubrick (yes yes I’m cheating) borrows a number of famous classical works and applies them to the vastness of space and time meaning no viewer of 2001 can watch a clip of the movie without thinking of the music and no listener can hear the music without thinking of the movie. Maurice Jarre gets yet another nomination merging sexy cool with mystery while Lalo Schifrin continues his trend for yearly nominations with an equally cool, mysterious, and jazzy score for Bullitt. Neal Hefti earns a nomination for crafting an ever popular theme in The Odd Couple while Krysztof Komeda makes a generation creeped out by lullabies forever thanks to his work on Rosemary’s Baby. Ron Goodwin gets a nomination for his suitably militaristic and heroic music on Where Eagles Dare, rousing and ominous at once and lastly, Dominic Frontiere gets a vote for his great pieces in Hang Em High – they may borrow heavily from Morricone, but in the best possible way.

My Winner: Once Upon A Time In The West.


Which movie of 1968 do you think has the Best Scoring? Let us know in the comments!

Best Original Song – 1968

Official Nominations: The Windmills Of Your Mind – The Thomas Crown Affair. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. For Love Of Ivy – For Love Of Ivy. Funny Girl – Funny Girl. Star! – Star!

Unsurprisingly, Musicals make up the bulk of the nominations, but surprisingly a non-musical thriller picks up the win. The Windmills Of Your Mind, by Michel Legrand, Alan Bergman, and Marilyn Bergman merges the French New Wave cool with beach side 60s pop, the swaying melancholy melodies juxtaposed by the lightning fast lyrics and vocals. The win seems to be because the song is unusual and doesn’t have an obvious hook, but is nevertheless an interesting song and winner. Other artists would cover the song at a much slower pace – I’ll leave it up to you to decide which style is best. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is absolute nonsense, twee, grating, but still damn catchy. At barely a minute long it feels like it doesn’t deserve a nomination, but it’s pretty iconic and memorable. For Love Of Ivy feels like an early Motown-lite song, showcasing the increasing talents of Quincy Jones but it’s a largely forgettable ballad. Funny Girl is all about the performance, with Streisand giving it her all, but the song itself, while lyrically interesting, has nothing strong in either melody or innovation. Between Jimmy Van Housen and Sammy Cahn you would expect a big band, swinging song with a hook, but Star! is bland from a musical perspective. The lyrics are fine, but the song itself is just another by the numbers Musical standard with nothing to make it stand out.

My Winner: The Windmills Of Your Mind.


My Nominations: Consider Yourself. Food Glorious Food. The Windmills Of Your Mind. Once Upon A Time In The West Theme. All I Needed Was The Rain. A Little Less Conversation.

While the songs from Oscar! may not necessarily be considered originals as they are the same as those from the Stage version, they had not yet appeared on film so that’s good enough for me. I’ve never been a fan of musicals, but both Consider Yourself and Food Glorious Food are such a part of British childhood that they are inescapable  – luckily both songs are good fun (but I despise those feckin accents). I may be cheating a little when I include the Once Upon A Time In The West theme, but its wordless vocals area again good enough for me – it’s a glorious piece of music. A Little Less Conversation became a huge hit over thirty years after the release of Live A Little, Love A Little with an awful remix which plagued TV and radio – the original is much better. Finally, another Elvis song from another Elvis movie – All I Needed Was The Rain from Stay Away, Joe – a blues rock drawl featuring thunder and dog howls.

My Winner: Once Upon A Time In The West Theme.

Sh*t I Used To Watch – Strike It Lucky/Strike It Rich


DEE-DE-DE-DE-DE-DE-DE-DE-DEDE-DE-DEEEE! Yes, it’s another hit show from the Golden Age of British Game shows – a game show which has it all – big prizes! Silly prizes! An entertaining presenter, catchphrases, chit chat with contestants, questions, answers, and an interesting and engaging premise. Strike It Lucky (which then became Strike It Rich) was a big hit with me, my family enjoyed it, and as far as I am aware it was a big success with audiences around the country. Why did I love it so, though? Read on…

The show was created in the US in 1986 as Strike It Rich – the main difference from the UK version being that the US featured two teams, one of which was a returning champion while in the UK there were three teams who only got one stab at the pie. From what I can tell, the show wasn’t a hit in the States, but with Barrymore as host in the UK, the show lasted for thirteen years and is still shown in syndication, as well as a few Special episodes and assorted Board Games and merchandise. Barrymore had already been a presenter, comedian, and actor on various sketch shows, but it was his slapstick energy and rapid-fire repartee with the contestants in Strike It Lucky which made him a megastar and the show an 18 Million viewer mega-hit. Most gameshows of the time featured comedians in presenting roles, but the interaction with the contestant, viewer, and audience was often more one-sided and always brief; a couple of hellos to the contestants, a couple of jokes to those watching, and you were on your way. With Barrymore, a quarter of the episode running time was him chatting and joking with the guests. As the series progressed, the guests would become more outspoken and entertaining in their own right without resorting to bizarre or outlandish types. There would usually be a young couple, a very elderly person, or someone with an interesting job to spark banter and jokes, and in most cases this opening was the best part of the episode. We as the viewer got an unusual insight into each contestant and you felt much closer to them and therefore hoped they would do well on the show – something which I don’t think any other game show has come close to achieving. Pointless comes close but in a less anarchic fashion, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire had something similar by virtue of the one on one format, and Deal Or No Deal was just shit.

It’s true; deal with it

I should say that I don’t have any real nostalgic connection to Strike It Lucky/Rich – unlike most of the other shows in this sh*t series of posts. It’s simply a great all round show that I always loved, that I enjoy watching re-runs of, and that now my kids even will watch. As mentioned, the main key to the success was Barrymore – his spark, energy, and interaction with the guests. But every good British gameshow needs a good catchphrase too. Barrymore of course has his own ‘Awight!?’ that he would shout at the audience at the start of each show, but the game had a couple of its own – one which is a statement which became a catchphrase, and the other a bizarre exchange with the crowd. ‘Top Middle, or Bottom’ is a question which Barrymore poses in the final round – when the contestant has to make their way from left to right across the board without striking out. There are three rows to choose from – top, middle, or bottom – as simple as games and catchphrases get really. The second catchphrase involves Barrymore asking the audience ‘what is a hotspot not’ and them replying ‘not a good spot’. In and of itself that doesn’t sound very catchy, and it doesn’t even make sense, but his delivery is spot on (pun pardon). What’s good about it is that the audience’s response is completely indecipherable. In fact, it wasn’t until the internet blew up that I was actually able to Ask Jeeves what it was they were actually saying. For years I’d assumed their answer was ‘Prizes’.

So, the game involves six contestants in three pairs.  The first half of the game is a race across the board – three contestants walk across the board, three answer questions to win the chance to move forward two, three, or four places. Barrymore tells the contestant the ‘genre’ of the question, and the contestant decides if they want two, three, or four questions – if they get one wrong the question moves to the next contestant. The questions are multiple choice and might be something like ‘Famous Toms’ where the answers are Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Tom Jones etc, you get the idea. Once the questions have been answered, the contestant’s partner moves across the board one step at a time, hitting a button. When they hit the button they either get a prize or a Hot Spot. What is a hot spot not? Prizes. Not a good spot either. Basically if they land on a Hot Spot, their turn is over, so even if they answered four questions and get to walk forward four spaces, if they hit a hot spot on their first space, it’s the end of their turn. If it’s not a Hot Spot, they win a prize. Sometimes it’s a small cash prize, often it’s something humourous related to the contestant – if it’s an elderly couple, the prize might be a free Pole Dancing lesson for example. More Barrymore banter. There’s another level of strategy and gambling here – the contestant may answer four questions, but after moving forward two spaces they get two good prices such as a Weekend Holiday and a lump sum. If you hit a Hot Spot you lose your prices from that round, so do they risk moving on to get closer to the end, or bank their prizes and stay where they are?


Eventually, a couple will reach the final step of the board where they are asked a final question to proceed to the final round – get it wrong and another couple may pip you to the post, get it right and the other two couples are out. This leads to the second half of the show, which I always found the less interesting. The winning couple selects which top prize they want to go for – three choices of cash. The higher the cash prize, the more difficult the gameboard is. Basically the team has to get across the same board, choosing top, middle, or bottom. There are three outcomes of each choice  – a Hot Spot – meaning they lose one life, a tick – meaning they move forward one space, or a question. Get the question right – move forward, get it wrong – Hot Spot. With the highest cash prize you get two lives, the middle one – three lives, the lowest cash prize – four lives. It’s tense stuff and the crowd always got into it – exciting the closer the team got to the end, but it just didn’t have the humour and fun of the first half.

I think Strike It Lucky could still work today, as a format. The problem when people try to resurrect classic gameshows it that they end up being self-knowing in an awkward and self-congratulatory manner. Just bring it back and get on with it. Barrymore has had his problems with the media and the public since his 90s heyday, but feck it – make him the host again, Awight!?


Let us know in the comments if you used to watch Strike It Lucky or if you are more familiar with the US version.

Just A Kid

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

One I often forget about, but one I’ve always liked. It feels like a calling back to the days of two albums ago when I first heard it as a B-side to Ocean Spray. It doesn’t have the anger or politics of that album, instead yearning for simpler times. The tone of the guitars even sounds like Everything Must Go, but overall musically there isn’t anything spectacular here. Having said that, I do like the melancholy atmosphere,the verse and chorus are both strong and there are plenty of likable, quotable lyrics. Decent central riff too.

Just  A Kid: 3/Good