All Reviews A-Z

Here is a thing which I will plan to update each time I add a new review. This should make it easy for anyone who is sufficiently depraved enough to enjoy what I write and craves more. There isn’t a huge amount yet, but I do have a tonne of reviews written years ago for IMDB which I haven’t posted here yet, along with all my other Album reviews for Amazon. This list will grow. For now, click on anything you like!

Movie Reviews

11/22/63 – Bridget Carpenter

2001 Maniacs – Tim Sullivan

300: Rise Of An Empire – Noam Murro

A Dark Song – Liam Gavin

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night – Ana Lily Amirpour

A Quiet Place – John Krasinski

A Hard Day – Kim Seong Hun

A Mighty Wind – Christopher Guest

A Nightmare On Elm Street – Wes Craven

A Tale Of Two Sisters – Kim Ji Woon

Aftermath – Elliott Lester

After The Silence – Fred Gerber

Airwolf – Donald Bellisario

Akira – Katsuhiro Otomo

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa – Declan Lowney

Alien – Ridley Scott

Aliens – James Cameron

Alien 3 – David Fincher

Annihilation – Alex Garland

Arachnophobia – Frank Marshall

Assault On Precinct 13 – John Carpenter

Attack Of The Adult Babies – Dominic Brunt

August Rush – Kirsten Sheridan

AWOL – Sheldon Lettich

Bad Lieutenant – Abel Ferrara

Bait – Kimble Rendall

Bangkok Dangerous – The Pang Brothers

Baskin – Can Evrenol

Battle Royale – Kinji Fukasaku

Beavis And Butthead – Mike Judge

Beetlejuice – Tim Burton

Bedevilled – Jang Cheol-soo

Benny And Joon – Jeremiah S Chechik

Big Driver – Mikael Salomon

Big Trouble In Little China – John Carpenter

Bill And Ted’s Bogus Journey – Peter Hewitt

Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure – Stephen Herek

Birdy – Alan Parker

Black Coal, Thin Ice – Diao Yinan

Blair Witch – Adam Wingard

Blood Father – Jean Francois Richet

Bloodsport – Newt Arnold

Bodyguards And Assassins – Teddy Chan

Body Shots – Michael Christofer

Body Snatchers – Abel Ferrara

Bordello Of Blood – Gilbert Adler

Braindead – Peter Jackson

Brooklyn Rules – Michael Corrente

Brother – Takeshi Kitano

Bruiser – George A Romero

Cam – Daneil Goldhaber

Cannibal – Manuel Martin Cuenca

Captain America: The First Avenger – Joe Johnston

Carne – Gaspar Noe

Cell – Tod Williams

Chasing Amy – Kevin Smith

Chasing Sleep – Michael Walker

Children Of The Corn – Fritz Kiersch

Cockneys Vs Zombies – Matthias Hoene

Come And See – Elem Kilmov

Commando – Mark L Lester

Conan The Barbarian – John Milius

Creepshow 2 – Michael Gornick

Cronos – Guillermo Del Toro

Cursed – Wes Craven

Cyborg – Albert Pyun

Dark City – Alex Proyas

Dark Tide – John Stockwell

Dawn Of The Dead – Zack Snyder

Day of The Dead – George A Romero

Daylight – Rob Cohen

Dead Of Night (1977) – Dan Curtis

Dead Snow – Tommy Wirkola

Death Sentence – James Wan

Death Wish 2 – Michael Winner

Demons – Lamberto Bava

Desperado – Robert Rodriguez

Dial M For Murder – Alfred Hitchcock

Die Another Day – Lee Tamahori

Dirty Pretty Things – Stephen Frears

Disturbia – D.J. Caruso

Dobermann – Jan Kounen

Dogma – Kevin Smith

Donnie Brasco – Mike Newell

Don’t Blink – Travis Oates

Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead – Stephen Herek

Double Impact – Sheldon Lettich

Dr No – Terence Young

Dream Warriors – Chuck Russell

Drug War – Johnie To

Dumb And Dumber – The Farrelly Bros

Dumplin‘ – Anne Fletcher

Eaten Alive – Tobe Hooper

El Mariachi – Robert Rodriguez

Escape From Sobibor – Jack Gold

Escape Plan – Mikael Hafstrom

Embodiment Of Evil – Jose Marins

Everyone’s Hero – Christopher Reeve, Colin Brady, Daniel St. Pierre

Evil Dead – Fede Alvarez

Excision – Richard Bates Jr

Extinction – Miguel Angel Vivas

Family For Christmas – Amanda Tapping

February – Oz Perkins

Final Destination – James Wong

Final Destination 2 – David R Ellis

First Blood – Ted Kotcheff

Fist Of Fury – Bruce Lee

For Your Eyes Only – John Glen

Freddy’s Dead – Rachel Talalay

Freddy’s Revenge – Jack Sholder

Freddy Vs Jason – Ronny Yu

Frenzy – Alfred Hitchcock

Frenzy – Jose Montesinos

Friend Request – Simon Verhoeven

From Russia With Love – Terence Young

Game of Death – Bruce Lee/Robert Clouse

Game Night – John Francis Daley/Jonathan Goldstein

Girls Against Boys – Austin Chick

God Bless America – Bobcat Goldthwaite

Goldeneye – Martin Campbell

Goldfinger – Guy Hamilton

Goodnight Mommy – Veronika Franz/Severin Fiala

Grave Encounters – The Vicious Brothers

Grave Encounters 2 – John Poliquin

Gravity – Alfonso Cuaron

Halloween – John Carpenter

Halloween 2 and 3 – Rick Rosenthal/Tommy Lee Wallace

Halloween 4 – Dwight H Little

Halloween 5 – Dominique Othenin Gerard

Hard-Boiled – John Woo

Hard Target – John Woo

Hansel And Gretal – Yim Phil-Sung

Heartbreakers – David Mirkin

Heli – Amat Escalante

Hellboy – Guillermo Del Toro

Hellions – Bruce Macdonald

Home Alone – Chris Columbus

Honor And Glory – Godfrey Ho

Horrible Bosses – Seth Gordon

Ichi – Fumihiko Sori

Ichi The Killer – Takashi Miike

Inoperable – Christopher Laurence Chapman

Into The Mirror – Kim Sung Ho

I Really Hate My Job – Oliver Parker

It Comes At Night – Trey Edward Shults

It’s All About Love – Thomas Vinterberg

Jaws – Steven Spielberg

Jaws 2 – Jeannot Szwarc

Jaws 3 – Joe Alvez

Jaws 4 – Joseph Sargent

John Wick – Chad Stahelski/David Leitch

Jurassic Park – Steven Spielberg

Ju-On Black Ghost – Mari Asato

Ju-On White Ghost – Ryuta Miyake

Kickboxer – Mark DiSalle/David Worth

Kids – Larry Clark

Kill Bill Vol 1 – Quentin Tarantino

King Kong – Merian C Cooper/Ernest B Schoedsack

Kingdom Of Heaven – Ridley Scott

Knock Knock – Eli Roth

Lady Bird – Greta Gerwig

Leatherface – Maury & Bustillo

Leon – Luc Besson

Lifeboat – Alfred Hitchcock

Last Action Hero – John McTiernan

Live And Let Die – Guy Hamilton

Loaded – Alan Pao

Lost Highway – David Lynch

Love On Safari – Leif Bristow

Macbeth – Orson Welles

Manuscripts Don’t Burn – Mohammed Rousalof

Megan Is Missing – Michael Goi

Milius – Joey Figuero

Mother’s Day – Darren Lynn Bousman

Mouth To Mouth – Alison Murray

Mr And Mrs Smith – Alfred Hitchcock

My Soul To Take – Wes Craven

Never Sleep Again – Daniel Farrands/Andrew Kach

Night Of The Demons – Kevin S Tenney

Night Of The Living Dead – George A Romero

Nowhere To Run – Robert Harmon

On The Road – Walter Salles

Origin: Spirits Of The Past – Keichi Sugiyama

Outrage – Takeshi Kitano

Out Of The Furnace – Scott Cooper

P2 – Frank Khalfoun

Pandorum – Christian Alvart

Peacock – Michael Lander

Perdita Durango – Alex de la Iglesia

Perlasca – Alberto Negrin

Pieta – Kim Ki Duk

Police Academy 1-7 – Various

Pontypool – Bruce McDonald

Predator 2 – Stephen Hopkins

Priceless – Pierre Salvadori

Pride, Prejudice, And Mistletoe – Don McBrearty

Problem Child – Dennis Dugan

Project X – Nima Nourizadeh

Q: The Winged Serpent – Larry Cohen

Radius – Caroline Labreche/Steeve Leonard

Raw Deal – John Irvin

Rear Window – Alfred Hitchcock

Re:born – Yuji Shimomura

Red Heat – Walter Hill

Red Sonja – Richard Fleischer

Resident Evil – Paul WS Anderson

Resident Evil 2 – Alexander Witt

Return To Oz – Walter Murch

Rhapsody In August – Akira Kurosawa

Ring – Hideo Nakata

Ring 2 – Hideo Nakata

Ring 0 – Norio Tsuruta

Rings – F.Javier Gutierrez

Rogue – Greg McLean

Room – Lenny Abrahamson

Room 237 – Rodney Ascher

Rope – Alfred Hitchcock

Rosewood Lane – Victor Salva

Rubber – Quentin Dupeiux

Rust And Bone – Jacques Audiard

Sabotage – David Ayer

Sanctum – Alister Grierson

Scream – Wes Craven

Scream 2+ 3 – Wes Craven

Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World – Lorene Scafaria

Seul Contre Tous – Gaspar Noe

Seven Samurai – Akira Kurosawa

Shanghai Kiss – David Ren/Ken Kernwiser

Society – Brian Yuzna

Someone’s Watching Me – John Carpenter

Sophie Scholl – The Final Days – Marc Rothemond

Spiderman 2 – Sam Raimi

Staunton Hill – Cameron Romero

Still Walking – Hirokazu Koreeda

Street Trash – Jim Munro

Stripes – Ivan Reitman

Street Hawk – Virgil W Vogel

Suicide Club – Sion Sono

Sukiyaki Western Django – Takeshi Miike

Survive Style 5 + – Gen Sekiguchi

Tag – Sion Sono

Tears Of The Sun – Antoine Fuqua

Ted – Seth MacFarlane

The 39 Steps – Alfred Hitchcock

The Art Of War – Christian Deguay

Thelma And Louise – Ridley Scott

The Birds – Alfred Hitchcock

The Blair Witch Project – Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez

The Boss Of It All – Lars Von Trier

The Craft – Andrew Fleming

The Crow – Alex Proyas

The Detective – Oxide Pang

The Devil’s Rain – Robert Fuest

The Divide – Xavier Gens

The Driver – Walter Hill

The Empress And The Warriors – Ching Siu Tung

The Evil Dead – Sam Raimi

The Evil Dead 2 – Sam Raimi

The Fifth Element – Luc Besson

The First Men In The Moon – Nathan Juran

The Forest Of Love – Sion Sono

The Ghost And The Darkness – Stephen Hopkins

The Gate – Tibor Takacs

The Gift – Joel Edgerton

The Girl With All The Gifts – Colm McCarthy

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time – Mamoru Hosoda

The Green Inferno – Eli Roth

The Grudge – Takashi Shimazu

The Guest – Adam Wingard

The Happiness Of The Katakuris – Takashi Miike

The Hitcher – Robert Harmon

The House Of The Devil – Ti West

The Idiots – Lars Von Trier

The Innkeepers – Ti West

The Isle – Kim Ki Duk

The Kings Of Summer – Jordan Vogt Roberts

The Last Boy Scout – Tony Scott

The Last Exorcism – Daniel Stamm

The Last Exorcism 2 – Ed Gass-Donnelly

The Last House On The Left – Wes Craven

The Lifeguard – Liz W Garcia

The Man From Earth – Richard Schenkman

The Man Who Knew Too Much – Alfred Hitchcock

The Mannsfield 12 – Craig Ross Jr

The Night Eats The World – Dominique Rocher

The Pact – Nicholas McCarthy

The Perfection – Richard Shepard

The Red Squirrel – Julio Medem

The Sand – Isaac Gabaeff

The Secret Life Of Pets – Chris Renaud

The Storm Warriors – The Pang Brothers

The Stranger – Robert Lieberman

The Stuff – Larry Cohen

The Tortured – Robert Lieberman

The Visit – M Night Shyamalan

The Wailing – Na Hong-jin

The Wisdom Of Crocodiles – Po Chih Leong

The Witch – Robert Eggers

The Windmill Massacre – Nick Jongerius

Train To Busan – Yeon Sang-ho

Triangle – Hark Tsui/Ringo Lam

Trilogy Of Terror – Dan Curtis

Troy: The Odyssey – Tekin Girgin

Twins – Ivan Reitman

Unbreakable – M Night Shyamalan

Universal Soldier – Roland Emmerich

USS Indianapolis – Mario Van Peebles

V/H/S – Various

V/H/S 2 – Various

Visitor Q – Takashi Miike

Wake In Fright – Ted Kotcheff

Wake Wood – David Keating

Way Of The Dragon – Bruce Lee

We Are What We Are – Jim Mickle

We Are Still Here – Ted Geoghagen

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare – Wes Craven

Winter Soldier – Winterfilm Collective

Wolfcop – Lowell Dean

Yellowbrickroad – Jessie Holland/Andy Mitton

You Were Never Really Here – Lynne Ramsey

Zombie Creeping Flesh – Bruno Mattei

Zombieland – Ruben Fleischer

TV Reviews

Are You Afraid Of The Dark

Back To School At 35

Breaking Bad

Friends

Game Of Thrones

Gladiators

Neighbours

Saved By The Bell

Strike It Lucky

The League Of Gentlemen

The Walking Dead

Wolf Creek

Wreslemania 34

Music Reviews

11 – Bryan Adams

18 Till I Die – Bryan Adams

3 Feet High And Rising – De La Soul

7800 Farenheit – Bon Jovi

A Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles

A Love Supreme – John Coltrane

A Night At The Opera – Queen

Abbey Road – The Beatles

Accessories – The Gathering

Aftermath – The Rolling Stones

Afterwords – The Gathering

Air – Agua De Annique

Aladdin Sane – David Bowie

Alice In Wonderland – Disney

American Life – Madonna

Atomic Jones – Tom Jones

Beaucoup Of Blues – Ringo Starr

Bedtime Stories – Madonna

Black Tie White Noise – David Bowie

Blaze Of Glory – Bon Jovi

Blood, Sweat, And Tears – Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Blue – Joni Mitchell

Blur – Blur

Bookends – Simon & Garfunkel

Bounce – Bon Jovi

Brave (Part One) – Marillion

Brave (Part Two) – Marillion

Bryan Adams – Bryan Adams

Burning Bridges – Bon Jovi

Cinderella – Disney

Closer – Joy Division

Clutching At Straws (2) – Marillion

Clutching At Straws (1) – Marillion

Conan The Barbarian Soundtrack – Basil Poledouris

Conan The Destroyer Soundtrack – Basil Poledouris

Confessions On The Dancefloor – Madonna

Crash! Boom! Bang! – Roxette

Crush – Bon Jovi

Destination Anywhere – Bon Jovi

Diamond Dogs – David Bowie

Disclosure – The Gathering

Dumb And Dumber Soundtrack – Various

Entroducing – DJ Shadow

Erotica – Madonna

Evita – Madonna

Five O’Clock World – The Vogues

For Sale – The Beatles

Fugazi (1) – Marillion

Fugazi (2) – Marillion

Fulfillingness’ First Finale – Stevie Wonder

Fun And Fancy Free – Disney

Get Up – Bryan Adams

Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter – Incredible String Band

Hard Candy – Madonna

Harvest Moon – Neil Young

Have A Nice Day – Bon Jovi

Have A Nice Day – Roxette

Heaven Or Las Vegas – Cocteau Twins

Head On – Samson

Help! – The Beatles

Heroes” – David Bowie

Hey Stoopid – Alice Cooper

High Roller – Urchin

Home – The Gathering

Holidays In Eden (1) – Marillion

Holidays In Eden (2) – Marillion

How To Measure A Planet? – The Gathering

Hunky Dory – David Bowie

I’m Breathless – Madonna

Into The Fair – Bryan Adams

Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette

Joyride – Roxette

Just Like Us – Paul Revere And The Raiders

Keep The Faith – Bon jovi

Ladies Of The Canyon – Joni Mitchell

Lazer Guided Melodies – Spiritualized

Let It Be – The Beatles

Lets Dance – David Bowie

Life’s Rich Pageant – REM

Like A Prayer – Madonna

Like A Virgin – Madonna

Little Deuce Coupe – The Beach Boys

Lodger – David Bowie

Look Sharp – Roxette

Lost Highway – Bon Jovi

Low – David Bowie

Madonna – Madonna

Magical Mystery Tour – The Beatles

Mandylion – The Gathering

Manic Street Preachers Live In Belfast – Manic Street Preachers

McCartney – Paul McCartney

Melody Time – Disney

Miles Of Aisles – Joni Mitchell

Misplaced Childhood (1) – Marillion

Misplaced Childhood (2) – Marillion

Music! – Madonna

My Fair Lady Soundtrack – Various

Never Let Me Down – David Bowie

New Jersey – Bon Jovi

Nighttime Birds – The Gathering

Night On My Side – Gemma Hayes

On A Day Like Today – Bryan Adams

Out Of Our Heads – The Rolling Stones

Our Favourite Shop – The Style Council

Pearls Of Passion – Roxette

Please Please Me – The Beatles

Pin Ups – David Bowie

Pretender – Jackson Browne

Pure Air – Agua De Annique

Ray Of Light – Madonna

Restless And Wild – Accept

Revolver – The Beatles

Rolling Stones – The Rolling Stones

Rolling Stones 2 – The Rolling Stones

Room Service – Roxette

Room Service – Bryan Adams

Rubber Soul – The Beatles

Saludos Amigos – Disney

Savage – Eurythmics

Scary Monsters – David Bowie

Script For A Jester’s Tear (1) – Marillion

Script For A Jester’s Tear (2) – Marillion

Seasons End (2) – Marillion

Seasons End (1) – Marillion

Second Coming – The Stone Roses

Sentimental Journey – Ringo Starr

Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles

Shut Down Vol 2: The Beach Boys

Sleepy Buildings – The Gathering

Slippery When Wet – Bon Jovi

Song To A Seagull – Joni Mitchell

Souvenirs – The Gathering

Space Oddity – David Bowie

Speaking In Tongues – Talking Heads

Spirit – Bryan Adams

Station To Station – David Bowie

Surfer Girl – The Beach Boys

Surfin Safari – The Beach Boys

Surfin USA – The Beach Boys

Tattooed Millionaire – Bruce Dickinson

The Adventures Of Ichabod & Mr Toad – Disney

The Buddha Of Suburbia – David Bowie

The Circle – Bon Jovi

These Days – Bon Jovi

The Man Who Sold The World – David Bowie

The Marshall Mathers LP – Eminem

The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie

The Roads Don’t Love You – Gemma Hayes

The West Pole – The Gathering

The White Album – The Beatles

Tin Machine – David Bowie/Tin Machine

Tonight – David Bowie

Tori Amos Live In Belfast – Tori Amos

Transformer – Lou Reed

Tracy Chapman – Tracy Chapman

True Blue – Madonna

Urban Hymns – The Verve

Van Halen – Van Halen

Waking Up The Neighbours – Bryan Adams

With The Beatles – The Beatles

What About Now – Bon Jovi

What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye

Wonderwall Music – George Harrison

Yellow Submarine – The Beatles

YHLQMDLG – Bad Bunny

You Want It You Got It – Bryan Adams

Young Americans – David Bowie

Youth Novels – Lykke Li

Book Reviews

1000 Zombies – Alex Cox

Atmospheric Disturbances – Rivka Galchen

Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins

Dinosaurs – Navigators

Fang Of The Vampire – Scream Street

Japan Day By Day – Frommers

London 2008 – Time Out

London Free And Dirt Cheap – Frommers

Paris 2009 – Time Out

Play With Colours – The Happets

The Art Of Racing In The Rain – Garth Stein

The Devouring – Simon Holt

The Gargoyle – Andrew Davidson

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

The Invention Of Everything Else – Samantha Hunt

The Mayan Prophecies – Gerald Benedict

The Maze Runner – James Dashner

Undead – Kirsty Mckay

Ranking The Radiohead Songs – Kid A!

Greetings, Glancers! Although I had been listening to Radiohead on and off since the Creep days, they didn’t really become my band until the late 90s. Kid A was the first album I was there for, ready to buy on Day 1. It was one of those seminal times – you’re in your late teens, nearing the end of School, ready to grab the world by the throat and make it give you whatever you want, and you spend your days and nights talking about music with like-minded mates. Nobody was expecting Kid A. Radiohead was the biggest band on the planet, the hype was ridiculous, and Kid A made a lot of people, if not all people, emit a confused WTF in unison. It was enough to shred the fandom down the middle – many casual fans threw their heads up and went off to wait for Coldplay’s arrival, while others too blinded by their obsession proclaimed it as the second coming. As with anything, I liked parts and disliked parts. Sure I would have loved another extension of The Bends or OK Computer, but I appreciated the daring, the balls, and the one-mindedness of the band to do whatever the hell they wanted. Plus the live versions of the songs were bangin’, man. Over time, my opinion of the album hasn’t changed much – songs I like, songs I dislike. I only wish the band had taken further departures from the sound they achieve here – while they have continued to grow and experiment, essentially every album since has been a version of Kid A, except for those scattered attempts at subverting guitar based rock. It’s a good album, it’s not the second coming.

1: How To Disappear Completely

2: Motion Picture Soundtrack

3: The National Anthem

4: Idioteque

5. Everything In Its Right Place

6. In Limbo

7. Optimistic

8. Kid A

9. Morning Bell

10. Treefingers Let us know your ranking in the comments!

Ranking The Iron Maiden Albums!

Iron Maiden – Senjutsu

Greetings, Glancers! No, you haven’t seen this post before, so shut up. I’ve reviewed every single album (though they may be posted on Amazon rather than here), I’ve ranked my favourite Maiden songs, but given the recent announcement of their upcoming new album (writing this on 21st July 2021) and the unveiling of their new single, and the fact that I’ve been reading quite a few similar lists recently, I thought I’d slap something together too. I’ll make this as condensed as possible; a nice, quick, and obviously divisive thing. No Live albums, because what’s the point?

A little bit before we begin – when I think of Maiden, I think of Brucey, so I’m not a huge fan of the non Bruce albums. However, its clear the band and Bruce needed a break from each other before getting back on track. I don’t enjoy Blaze or Paul’s vocals, but moreover the songs written in these two disparate periods aren’t overly interesting to me, for differing reasons. Roughly I have a list of Maiden albums I listen to regularly, and a list I only take regularly enjoy a few songs from. Those in the bottom half could be in any order, and those in the top half could be in any order. Got it? Lets do this!

16: Killers

Old school Maiden fans and punk boys will hate me for this, but I’m not a fan of Killers. I’m surprised the band managed to succeed after this weak sophomore effort. Obviously that had plenty to do with Bruce joining and the band changing their style – Killers feels nothing like progress, and more like cutting room floor outtakes from the debut. If you like that sort of thing, then you probably like this album. Pat yourself on the back. Few of the songs have the immediacy or punch or lasting appeal of those from their debut, and there’s another needless instrumental stinking up the short running time. Only Wratchchild feels special. To be positive, it’s still Maiden – it might not be the Maiden prefer, but they still play hard and fast.

15: No Prayer For The Dying

Following up an incredible run of albums in the mid 80s is this tired, turgid affair. Bruce was distracted, the band feel unsure of their sound or direction, and again there’s only a single song which makes any sort of impact. Bring Your Daughter is the big one – it’s not even very good – and a small handful of other songs at least have energy and ideas, while still feeling dull as a whole. Mother Russia tries to be inventive, but ends up a bit of a mess.

14: Virtual XI

More than any other, this album felt like the end. Thankfully it wasn’t, but if it had been most fans would have agreed that the band had run its course. Neither Blaze album is good, the meagre 8 tracks on offer here somehow feel longer than they are, and once again only one song stands out for me – Como Estas Amigos is genuinely touching. While the band would continue to lean in to excess and repetition, here it feels boring and more noticeable. The much lauded The Clansman is dull, The Angel And The Gambler loses steam after a couple of minutes. Futureal doesn’t live up to its opening. The band wouldn’t be this poor again.

13: The X Factor

Their 10th album is only marginally better than their 11th. It’s longer; too long. Essentially every song could have 30-40% shaved off their running times and we’d have a better album – still not a good album, but more palatable. Unlike the previous albums on my list, this one doesn’t have a single standout song, but a handful of the songs are more enjoyable than much of my 16-14 picks.

12: Iron Maiden

It’s the debut. They set out their stall and let us know we’re in for a wild ride. Being punk inspired, it’s fairly one tone, fairly simple, and lacks the musical and lyrical nuance of what the band would become. At least it has the songs, which 16-13 are missing. Any number of songs here, while not personal favourites, are still live and general fan favourites but along with the nuance, the production isn’t great and the overall conceptual approach to making albums wasn’t quite in place.

11: Fear Of The Dark

Fear Of The Dark is all about the title track; it’s one of the finest the band has ever written. Somewhere in here is an okay album – Judas My Guide is great, the band experiments semi-successfully with slower songs, and Be Quick Or Be Dead is a good opener. The problem is that there’s an air of disinterest, Bruce is arsing about with his vocals, and there are too many average or forgettable songs which are difficult to differentiate between.

10: The Book Of Souls

Now we switch gears. Everything after this album (on my list) is gold – every one a classic. The Book Of Souls – the band’s latest album at this point – is a good album, but shows too much of the bloating of the new Dickinson era. There are 11 songs, only 1 is under 5 minutes (by 1 second), and we have three songs over the ten minute mark. That’s not a problem in itself, but playing the thing as an album is exhausting. Speed Of Light isn’t the most exciting single and the epics don’t feel as powerful as on other albums. But the positives far outweigh the negatives. The songs are songs of moments rather than fully functioning and standing on their own, but it’s probably the album I’ve listened to least – partly because it’s so exhausting.

9: Powerslave

It’s a classic. I simply don’t like it as much as the albums below. I do have issues with it – I don’t think Rime Of The Ancient Mariner is all that interesting and Losfer Words can fuck off. Aces and 2 Minutes are perfect, Flash Of The Blade is underrated, and the others are strong.

8: The Final Frontier

Another beast, the longer tracks here don’t feel as artificially stretched as those on Book Of Souls, and the shorter songs pack a greater emotional punch. It’s a fantastic album which is perhaps too daunting for those fans stuck in the 80s – but it showcases supreme songwriting chops and shouldn’t be missed.

7: The Number Of The Beast

It’s one of the greatest Metal albums of all time, by any measure. It’s not higher on the list partly because the hits are so overplayed and partly because outside of the hits the songs aren’t as strong for me. Gangland, Invaders, The Prisoner – they’re fine, but not a patch on 22 or Children, which themselves aren’t as strong as the biggies.

6: Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son

Bearing in mind that every single one of these albums is essentially a masterpiece which I hold dear, it isn’t easy to number them by preference. These will change from day to day. Today, the classic Seventh Son is lower because I’m rushing to get this list finished. It does what Number Of The Beast doesn’t by making the non-singles just as strong as the singles. The epic of the piece isn’t overly interesting, but I prefer it to Rime and Alexander.

5: Somewhere In Time

The second half is weaker than the first, with only Stranger In A Strange Land in regular rotation for me, but the first half is as close to perfect as the band gets.

4: Dance Of Death

The band’s follow-up to their wildly successful ‘comeback’, Dance Of Death is essentially more of what made Brave New World so strong. It follows a similar format with a couple of short and punchy singles surrounded by much larger or experimental songs. Journeyman is basically an acoustic song and introduces strings, while Paschendale is a serious contender for their best song. In an era of pop punk and Nu Metal fame, Dance Of Death put most other rock and metal artists to shame with its scope and value – the WTF title track a jaunty descent into folksy storytelling cheese yet managing to not be shit, and No More Lies my all time favourite Maiden song.

3: Brave New World

While any of these top five albums could be my favourite Maiden album on any given day, it’s these final three which I listen to most – both as whole albums and when considering many of the individual songs. Brave New World holds a special place because it’s the album which, out of nowhere, pulled the band back from a 4 album downturn and near irrelevance, into the unstoppable machines they remain today. Opening track The Wicker Man is one of their best singles, a modern twist on their 80s classics and the whole album eschews the trends and sounds of the contemporary metal of the time to firmly place Maiden in a genre all of their own. Some songs do go a little overboard on repetition and I’m not a lover of fan favourite Blood Brothers but every other song has an instant melodic and tonal quality that it should pull in and hold fans who had abandoned the band, newcomers, remainers, and even those unfamiliar with the dark art of Metal.

2: Piece Of Mind

My favourite of the band’s 80s albums, it may also be the most clear example of the flawless first half, and much weaker second half. Luckily that second half opens with The Trooper. The album saw the band step away from both their punk and NWOBHM roots and foray into Prog – more songs with broader ideas and greater length and scope, songs with more interesting and less conventional structures and rhythms, and instrumentation beyond the standard guitar, bass, and drums you may expect. The guitars, bass, and drums obviously make up the bulk of the sound – this is still a Heavy Metal album – and they are still played with face-melting pace and vigour, but there’s more to it than just speed; there is intent, there is invention, there is a desire to be more than what they were and more than what others were doing. From the opening drum and gallop attack of Where Eagles Dare to the subtle, mirage like intro to To Tame A Land, and even with the ridiculous Quest For Fire sandwiched in the middle, it’s one of my favourite, and one of the best Metal albums ever.

1: A Matter Of Life And Death

I don’t think many fans will have this album as their number 1, but really it has everything an Iron Maiden fan should want in their music – Bruce is on top screaming form, the punchy singles are as shred-heavy and melodic as their most famous songs, and every member outdoes themselves in terms of writing and playing. There are allusions to Literate and Cinema and mythology, there are lofty concepts, and the epics are truly stunning without ever feeling like they meander or go off into unsatisfying stretches of ambience or directionless twiddling. Every diversion has a reason, every note has an intent, and more often than not there is a satiric and unnerving poignancy and rage at the state of the world – warmongers, religious tyrants, the shielded figureheads are all taken to task before painting a picture of skeletal ruin, but underneath it all is the defiance of punk ethos screaming ‘we’re not gonna take it’. There’s not a weak song on the album, and barely a weak moment. The vicious spite of These Colours Don’t Run. The pseudo-sequel to Paschendale in The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg, the ominous skin-crawling opening to Brighter Than A Thousand Suns, and the fiery dual closers Lord Of Light and The Legacy lift an already peerless band to heights few other artists ever even aspire to.

There we go, what do you think of my ranking? Feel free to share your ranking and reasoning in the comments!

Nightman Listens To – Madonna – MDNA!

MDNA (album) - Wikipedia

Greetings, Glancers! We’re up to our twelfth Madonna album and very close to catching up with what she’s up to now. I know absolutely zero about this album other than seeing that she worked with William Orbit again when I was trying to grab the track-listing. They’ve worked well before, so hopefully they struck gold again. Looking at the twelve songs, the name of the first sounds familiar but I don’t think I’ve actually heard it before – or any of the others. She seems to have a lot of collaborators in tow this time and I’m going to assume it’s another one designed for dancefloors. Lets do this.

Girl Gone Wild‘ opens with a spoken confession, spoken with a touch of satire. A familiar Noughties trance beat then drops forcefully before fading into the chorus. This type of music generally doesn’t need a strong vocalist, but definitely stands out more when the singer has vocal prowess. Madonna fluctuates between good and okay, rarely reaching any height but she’s always recognisable. By the time the chorus hits I’m certain I’ve never heard it. Maybe I was thinking of Alice Cooper’s Ghouls Gone Wild… This is a middling floor filler – I can see people dancing too this and it’s not too hard on the ears either. A decent opening song.

Gang Bang‘ starts in a scratchy, near industrial fashion before a clicky, dark beat hits. Madonna’s vocals are deep, monotone, and recall a certain Cher/Dusty song. I hope it’s building to something as on its own the monotone melody won’t do much. There’s a slight, I’m assuming chorus which repeats much of the verse but alleviates a little of the monotony by adding inflections to the melody. The music largely remains the same too, every so often a new beep or hoot or guitar or siren interrupting things. It does that beatdown thing in the middle that used to be all the rage – that fad almost never worked and it’s worse here because Madonna talks over it. It does feel angry and darker than she usually gets but it gets a little silly towards the end, but crucially that lack of melody stops it from being the sort of thing you’d want to listen to again.

I’m Addicted‘ keeps us on the dancefloor – this is working quite a lot like whichever that other dance concept album of her’s was. At least this one has a melody and the music is ripping all over the place. It’s not very good so far, but it’s not monotone. It’s an average pop/dance track more on the forgettable side and far from Madonna’s best work in this genre. I like how it’s cut together to sound like she keeps singing ‘I’m a dick’, but that probably wasn’t intentional.

Turn Up The Radio‘ starts with an almost 80s synth intro. Thankfully there’s a playful verse melody. The drum sounds are that terrible weak paper thin sound which makes you wonder why they bothered at all. They improve in the chorus and the melody there isn’t too bad. It’s just a slice of fluffy pop but better than the last couple.

Give Me All Your Luvin’ is one of those .feat tracks that has been stinking up the charts for the last five years or so. It’s cheap but catchy, the cheerleader refrain silly but works. It’s in the same vein as the previous song – uneventful, harmless fluff. I can’t see it making my playlist any time soon. Some silly super-fast rapping pops out of nowhere in the middle, followed by a slower section – neither really add anything to the song and they feel out of place, but they don’t hurt it either.

Some Girls‘ starts with some parping or vuvuzelas or something. More monotone singing – doesn’t bode well. This all feels like some of Michael Jackson’s less advisable experiments on Unbreakable. Then for a moment the vocals (hatefully) sound like Mel & Kim. It’s not great.

Superstar‘ is more like what I would have expected from a William Orbit/Madonna collab. Maybe he wasn’t even involved on this one. The drum beats are very weak – I still don’t understand why so many songs have this sort of beat especially when it’s a dance song. Aside from that I quite like the music. It’s another simple one which you could imagine being played with any basic stripped down instrumentation or heightened with  myriad of other sounds. It’s catchy, the lyrics are… I’m not sure if she’s being genuine or or if this mockery, but they veer between silly and pleasingly charming. Better.

I Don’t Give A‘ opens with a funky beat – better drum sounds than before. I think I heard the name of this one, but I definitely haven’t heard the song. She’s doing some sort of rapping in the verse, the chorus more traditional pop. She’s reached the point now where she has to parade this rebellion to the youth to get the sales from the younger crowd, and yet it still fits her persona. It sounds silly through 36 year old years – the Minaj part sounds even worse (who rhymes ‘business woman’ with ‘business woman’ twice) – but I imagine it works when your 15. It heads into an orchestra based chanting session towards the end which grows to epic proportions making me think Madonna should actually try something along those lines.

I’m A Sinner‘ sounds like a robot knocking at your door. At least the beats are better again and the melodies continue. This has an Orbit feel – must be the guitar. It’s not one of her best, but it’s fun enough pop that I can get behind it and it has enough creative spark and variety to help it stand out.

Love Spent‘ opens like furtive Western soundtrack and then the synth and beats drop. The verses have an 8-bit feel, good melodies which get better in the pre-chorus – again it’s a shame the drum sounds are shite again. Some lyrical callbacks to old songs. Good all round.

Masterpiece‘ is a title that begs to be ridiculed. Lets see. It’s starts out well – I love the main melody, simple and sad as it is. It’s lovely, and it too gets better in the pre-chorus. The chorus is good too. I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece, but it’s one of the best songs on the album.

Falling Free‘ starts with bending and tinkling piano, synth strings, and another simple lullaby melody. Not quite as nice as powerful as the last song but there’s more going on musically here. I like how clear the vocals are and how each line has some sort of different pause or instrumentation. The long extended outro… I think it would have worked better as the intro. A good closer.

The album gets stronger as it goes on, peaking with a strong closing set. The opening half feels like the dance half, with the second more contemplative and ballad based. While I always enjoy Madonna’s biggest pop tracks, her focus on the various dance genres rarely does much for me. Her ballads tend to be my favourites so I’m glad we had a few in that vein here. A hundred years into her career and she’s still troubling the current wave of pop stars, challenging them to up their game. I wish she would pander (or seem to) less to them and simply say ‘I’m at the top – it’s up to you to catch up’.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Superstar. I’m A Sinner. Love Spent. Masterpiece. Falling Free.

Let us know in the comments what you think of MDN!

Ranking The Radiohead Songs – OK Computer!

We all know it’s Radiohead’s best album. As much as I prefer The Bends, and as much as hardcore fans try to convince themselves that Kid A or In Rainbows is superior… this is their high mark. It’s one of the best albums of all time, and you do yourself a disservice by missing out on it.

  1. Paranoid Android
  2. Exit Music
  3. Let Down
  4. Electioneering
  5. No Surprises
  6. Lucky
  7. The Tourist
  8. Airbag
  9. Karma Police
  10. Subterranean Homesick Alien
  11. Climbing Up The Walls
  12. Fitter Happier

Let us know your ranking in the comments!

Best Actor – 1980

Official Nominations: Robert De Niro. John Hurt. Robert Duvall. Jack Lemmon. Peter O’Toole.

We all know who’s winning this, right? It’s almost a shame because we have multiple deserving winners in any other year. Jack Lemmon gets another shot, his second in a row. Raging Bull is one of the must sees of the 80s and the movie which cemented De Niro as a master (if it wasn’t apparent from Taxi Driver and The Godfather II). De Niro delivers one of the most iconic all time performances by putting himself a gruelling regime and body changes which would inspire the likes of Daniel Day Lewis, ushering in a new era of near over-committing to a role. Physically embodying a character is one thing, but delivering a performance which you cannot take your eyes off is another.

In any other year John Hurt would be your winner, and even here it’s a pretty close race. While the prosthetics seem like the star, there’s a man underneath, an actor who gives a passionate, sympathetic performance. Rather than Merrick himself, you need to look past the surface. It may be Hurt’s best work, and he’s had numerous classics. Robert Duvall is the only other likely winner, already on an upwards trajectory and in The Great Santini he is very strong as the stern authoritarian military pilot who wants to control his family and command their respect in the same way he expects from his co-workers. Good performance, decent film, but not as memorable, interesting, or powerful as the big boys.

The final two nominations are legacy noms, with O’Toole and Lemmon a cert for noms in most years. O’Toole is as good as ever in the underrated The Stunt Man while Lemmon is perfectly fine as the dying man trying to make amends in Tribute. 

My Winner: Robert De Niro

Revisiting the Violence and Style of Martin Scorsese's “Raging Bull” | The New Yorker

My Nominations: Robert De Niro. John Hurt. Donald Sutherland. William Hurt. Tatsuya Nakadai. Bob Hoskins. Jack Nicholson.

I carry over the front-runners to my own nominations, which include one snub, one impressive debut, and one huge star going full Nicholson. Nicholson, of course, goes full Nicholson in The Shining – as fashionable as it has become to say his performance is at 100% from the first scene, it’s much more nuanced than that. It’s clear he’s unhinged, and the character isn’t as well written or rounded as in the novel, but Nicholson steps through levels of mania, withdrawal, and obsession, topping it off with some of horror’s most famous moments.

Tatsuya Nakadai is more worthy of a legacy nom than most, appearing in the likes of The Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, The Human Condition Trilogy, and Kwaidan, but his performance as both the titular Kagemusha and his double, the scheming feudal Lord is strong enough for a regular nomination. Sticking with the foreign performances, Bob Hoskins made his first major impact as the cockney gangster in over his head in The Long Good Friday, leading to bigger offers in Britain and the US.

William Hurt made his debut in Ken Russell’s eternally bewildering Altered States, experimenting on his mind and body to the point of obsession and of no return. A difficult role and subject matter to tackle, Hurt’s devolution is convincing and would open the door for the body horror sub-genre.

My Winner: Robert De Niro

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Nightman Listens To – Bob Dylan – Rough And Rowdy Ways (2020 Series)!

Rough and Rowdy Ways: Amazon.co.uk: Music

Greetings, Glancers! <Large audible and visible sigh>. Bob Dylan. He’s a legend. One of the greats. A songwriter second to none. An icon. An inventor and re-inventor. His albums appear on every Best Of list you’ve ever read. So they tell me. Listen, I’m all for maturing as a fan of music and as a person – it’s one of the main reasons why I have this blog and continue these Albums Series – but as we’ve seen, sometimes your personal preferences simply trump what is supposedly good for you. It’s just like being healthy – I bought myself some ripe fruit to snack on during the day but here I am typing this and entire an entire 472 gram Ms Molly’s Trifle from Tesco. What’s good for you isn’t always good.

I have known of Bob Dylan all my life. As a Guns ‘n’ Roses fan from an early age, I loved their version of Knockin On Heaven’s Door and assumed the guy who wrote it must be a genius. I love Jimi’s All Along The Watchtower. And that’s the thing I struggle with when it comes to Dylan – he’s one of those artists who is maybe better served as a writer and staying away from the mic? Far from me to criticize a vocalist when my own sound like a goose slithering through the inside of an elephant’s trunk – but if I’m happy to criticize my own singing then I’m going to be picky about everyone else too. Dylan’s vocals are simply horrendous. Maybe over time you become accustomed to them, I don’t know. I certainly haven’t, though admittedly I’ve never given him much of a chance. In my ongoing quest to listen to every album ever recorded, Bob Dylan’s work will come up again and again but as much as a fan I am of folk music and of singer songwriters and of lyrics, I tend to pass his albums over because of how much I can’t stand his voice. But today I’ll be listening to his latest album for the first time and who knows – maybe now that he’s a hundred and eighty six years old, some of the mucus and pig fat oriented nature of his warbling will have been replaced by the dusky husk of a throat more attuned to the ravages of time and instead sound like an old and ragged yacht hewn from the most decrepit oak, moaning as it capsizes under the weight of its alcoholic crew. Now there’s a metaphor for ya.

Am I being shallow? Naïve? Puerile, dismissive, idiotic? Obviously there is more to music than vocals. Obviously. But when you’re a singer songwriter, vocals are at least 50% of what you are – the clue’s in the title. My problems with Dylan are not purely skin, or voice, deep. He has a handful of songs I’ve enjoyed and every so often one of his lyrics will ring true on a personal level. I’m going to say something now which is likely completely incorrect but, and again I’m speaking from an extremely ill-informed position given the number of songs I’ve heard from him, most of the songs and lyrics I’ve heard from him are simply moderately elevated love songs. You say there’s more to music than vocals? There are more things to write about than love. I know he gets political and I know he’s done protest stuff. Maybe that’s more my level, maybe those songs and lyrics will spark something inside me. Most of what I’ve heard is simply better written Celine Dion that I care equally nul for. But for everyone out there frothing in anger at my ranting or giggling from your highest of high horses – I’ll be the first to admit when I’m wrong and will happily slap my own chops if and when an artist’s quality clicks for me. I would much rather have music I love in my life than music I don’t, and that’s why I’m here.

As always, I begin by saying what I know about the album. In this case, it’s absolutely nothing beyond its name and the recording artist. The album artwork strikes me as deliberately retro. It seems like some 1950s swinging shindig based on the outfits and asses on display. It’s all quite faceless, to the extent that the dude on the right (who is staring into either a jukebox lit by Heaven’s golden shimmers, or some Tabernacle-esque fridge freezer unit) has seemingly suffered an unfortune bout of head-loss. The sparse room doesn’t suggest much in the way of rough and/or rowdy antics – but maybe showing up to your local juke dive in an ill-fitting skirt was enough to raise the eyebrows and middle wickets of those in attendance. Simpler time, simpler folk. You may have noticed I’m stalling. Fine, lets get on with it.

I usually start these posts with the positives. Before I do, at risk of repeating myself let me just restate that the vocals are not my cup of tea. Given I don’t drink tea, they’re not my hot chocolate either. I was correct in my assumption that the vocals would be more weary and gruff, and thankfully less nasal. Sounds a bit like Joni Mitchell after 300 cigs and covid. I’m never going to come around on the guy’s singing and if you struggle with vocals while listening to an artist, you’re probably never going to like listening to them. There’s less urgency here, and while he sounds like he’s the drunk propping up the furthest end of the bar spouting wisdom to anyone who will listen, he still sounds potent and virile. More like a sage imparting truths but knowing it’s going to fall on deaf ears. I could get through individual songs if I were to listen to this in the future, but listening to the entire album again in a single sitting would be a stretch for me.

We do get off to a promising start. I Contain Multitudes is rather lovely – relaxed, swirling Country guitars and a gentle vibe. I Contain Multitudes seems like a response and a slap in the face to my proclamation that he only writes love songs. You should aware that I’m being tongue in cheek for entertainment purposes, just in case you hadn’t picked that up. There are some great lines in here, but there are some absolute clangers too – you can’t win ’em all. False Prophet is a rough Blues song with a nifty heavy edge and solid riff straight from the 1930s. It’s fair to say Dylan has spent his career aping the African American Blues men he looked up to – it seems with age he’s finally able to sound like them. I think it’s impossible to write an authentic Blues song today. The genre is too long in the tooth, too limited, meaning we’d seen everything it had to offer by 1960. As limited as the Blues genre has always been (given the fact that it’s basically a hundred years old or more) there isn’t much that anyone can add to it. The only way to make a Blues song work today is to make it a pastiche. There are plenty of people plying their trade today by playing the Blues, but they are mostly writing to serve a specific target niche audience – either existing connoisseurs of the Blues, or guitar fans. Blues’ greatest strength was always that it was a framework to build upon, leading to a hundred offshoots and much of the best music of the 20th Century.

 There’s a variety in these opening songs which I wasn’t expecting, but which sadly does not continue through the rest of the album. Beyond the vocals, that’s my main fault with the album – it quickly devolves into a series of Blues standards I’ve heard a hundred times before. Even within False Prophet we fall back into clichés and tropes from a musical perspective. If we’re calling this a Blues album that’s perhaps not a valid criticism, but I’ve always had an issue with a full album of straight Blues and I prefer the genre in small, vicious bursts. At least when the music and the vocals become parody and boring we have the lyrics to fall back on.

It is unsurprisingly the lyrics which stand out for me. Each song has a frame, a topic, yet each is peppered with asides and insights ranging from hilarious to razor sharp, and more often than not there are multiple references to Literature, Cinema, music, real life people etc. It’s truly a shame there aren’t more minds like Dylan in music today, or even some with a fraction of his fire, wit, and intelligence to breathe life into their songs. As is often the case with songwriters who overload their lyrics, it should be stressed just how difficult it is to build a coherent song and an interesting and catchy melody around the words. Today’s pop, or Popular Music as a whole, relies on simplicity – too many words are simply too difficult for most people to remember, and too many words either lead to convoluted rhythms and off-kilter melodies which don’t appeal to the masses, or overly simple beats and repetition which is the trap Dylan falls into. While much of the music works as a one off, and while genres like Rap are purpose built to allow for effusive wordy lyrics and repetitive music, managing to craft something which strikes the balance between music and semantics is challenging, and a challenge Dylan only partially succeeds with here.

I’ve Made Up My Mind To Give Myself To You is almost a musical retread of the opening track, albeit one with more romance and sway, Black Rider attempts a more haunting approach but gives way to forgettable minimalism, while any number of other tracks are rehashed Blues rockers. The highlights for me are when there are slight twists or variances in the sound – Mother Of Muses is another sweet song with melodies to match, but infrequent surprising chord changes, while Key West introduces some different instruments and pushes Dylan’s vocals to offer some heightened emotion. Key West, as long as it is, has probably become my favourite on the album though I would probably enjoy it more if it were half the length. Murder Most Foul is the obvious centrepiece and has the vibe of an old dude strumming his guitar while perched on a rocking chair at sunset at the edge and end of the world.

The laid back 9 minuter Key West leads thematically and tonally into Murder Most Foul perfectly, thought having too such long tracks back to back at the closure of an album I struggled with was enough to push me over the edge first time around. Taking breathers between chunks of the album is definitely the approach for someone like me who isn’t a fan. Depending on your level of fandom, Murder Most Foul is going to feel either like an intimate one to one session with your favourite poet, or a visit to your senile grandfather’s a stale living room on Christmas Day as he regales you with memories of fabricated events. I imagine this may be seen as a crowning achievement by Dylan’s diehard followers, but after the fourth minute of my first listen I was begging for it to end, to change somehow, a different lilt to his delivery, some variance in the music. But it goes on in exactly the same pattern for another twelve minutes. The lyrics are less like a Burroughs-esque series of insightful hallucinations, and more like a list of names, popular phrases, events, and references deliberately selected for no other reason than to rhyme and to spruce up the bird’s eye view of the USA which pervades the whole album. It’s less a sign of relief when it ends than a sigh of regret that I didn’t turn it off after four minutes.

My opinion of it has since increased with subsequent listens and with reading the lyrics. It’s an effective re-account of the last 60 odd years of American history. The little subtle musical touches come though with more effort on the listeners behalf – the strings doing their own thing, the scattered piano, the comparisons and in-jokes in the lyrics with references which will fly over the heads of most who are not musically or historically inclined, but work wonderfully for those of us who can catch even 50% of them. We cover music and the new bands and waves of the 60s, juxtaposed with the violent event of November 63, 80s horror movies, the Civil Rights movement, and any number of other popular phrases and moments in time. It’s a song I can listen to on its own, for its own merits rather than at the end of a long album, and even with that I do struggle getting through the entire running time. The music simply doesn’t change enough and as much as I appreciate the lyrics I’d love to see some smart arse do a Prog version of this to actually spice up the music and give the words a proper home.

I understand I’ve been quite negative with this post, but I should close with the key positive I took from the whole experience; Dylan is still here. While I’ve never been a fan, and probably never will, that’s fine. He’s not for me, but for all of the people he is for, for the millions still around who do love him or are yet to discover him – the dude is still going when many many others have fallen to the ravages of time, health, lack of staying power, or lack of talent. I’m positive that those the album was written for will hold it dear, as they should. For me, it’s always cool to see people with genuine talent (regardless of how I enjoy or feel about that talent) and real experience still making music today. We know that music as a Business is catered to, by, and for the young, and that the entire spectrum of successful popular music today is extremely narrow – so I admire those who can sustain an audience and success over such a ridiculous stretch of time. While there are countless thousands of musicians out there today who have been performing since before I was born, an almost insignificant fraction of those are known or are successful to any respectable degree versus the plethora of new, recent, short term, and up and coming acts who come and go with the wind. Dylan has been doing it long before I existed, and his songs and his words will be here for hundreds of years to come, assuming we haven’t fucked up the planet beyond repair before then.

Album Score

I’m loath to continue doing this score business, but I suppose I’ve started so have to keep it up.

Sales: 3. As I always mention, I’m not really sure how to gauge this one anymore. It went Silver in the UK, which is okay, but elsewhere data isn’t forthcoming or strong. What are Dylan’s sales usually like? I imagine this spiked for a couple of weeks at release, then tanked. 2 or 3 on this one, lets give him the benefit of the doubt.

Chart: 4. We know the album at least peaked at Number 1 in various Countries, including the UK and US, and he even managed his first Number 1 single, somehow. 

Critical: 5. The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. When the dude finally bites the dust and people can do a retrospective of his entire body of work, I’m not sure if this will still be seen in as favourable a light, but for now you based on the current influx of Year End top spots and glowing praise, you can’t really go lower than a 5.

Originality: 2. Maybe there’s some original stuff in here for Dylan – I didn’t hear any Grime or Dubstep, but maybe he does enough differently from what he has done before. To my ears it’s a very simple Blues, Folk, Americana infused album with little or no originality beyond the lyrics, though it’s tougher to call lyrics original just because no-one has used a particular turn of phrase before. 

Influence: 2. I don’t see this influencing anyone, at least not in the same way as his early work undoubtedly influenced others and will continue to. 

Musical Ability: 3. A few guest stars, but for the most part there isn’t a lot of complexity on display or much opportunity for the musicians to show off their ability. 2 or 3 here, max.

Lyrics: 5. It’s not flawless, but nothing is. I don’t many albums in the 2020 list are going to get a 5 in this category, but Dylan’s wordsmithery, use of language and wit, and storytelling have enough lyrical flourish to put most other songwriters to shame.

Melody: 3. Not great – there are a couple of songs with a hook or two which I have found myself humming after I’ve stopped listening, but I suspect that is more to do with the sheer length and repetitive nature of the melody rather than the quality. Again, I’ll give the benefit of the doubt, but this is a weak 3. More likely a 2, definitely never getting a 4.

Emotion: 3. I would argue that most of the emotion people feel from this album is more down to what it represents than the genuine content – it’s probably one of the last, if not the very last, albums from a man who has been doing it for 60 years. The music and lyrics at least in part reflect this. But I found it a mostly bland affair. At this point he’s hardly trying to convert any new fans so I’ll split the difference and go with a 3. 6

Lastibility: 3. Purely because it’ a Dylan album, you know people will be talking about this for years and decades to come; it’s not some flavour of the month pop album, it’s a release by one of the most important artists of the 20th Century. I don’t think it will have the staying power of his most famous releases in terms of what people reach for when they want a bit of Bob, but it’s not going away. 3 or 4 here. 

Vocals: 2. I could easily go a 1 here, and he really wants me to go that low with his insistence on making songs longer than they need to be, but the timbre of his voice has improved with age, removing much of the nasal quality with grouchy gravel. Still, it’s not the sort of vocal I’d ever choose to listen to. 

Coherence: 4. It all holds together – you know what each song is going to sound like and feel like, and all of the music and lyrics are trenched in American folk and blues.

Mood: 3. The mood is held together by the coherence, but slips for me because of the lack of emotion I felt. 

Production: 3. A crisp and clear no-nonsense Production. The vocals are front and centre in the mix, though everything feels balanced. I would have preferred more expansion and invention with the instrumentation – not that it’s needed for an album like this, but it would have made the whole more interesting.

Effort: 4. It feels effortless and I don’t think the musicians or anyone else involved put in, or needed to put in, more effort than was required. Then again, there’s the pressure to put out a good Dylan album, and what may be the last Dylan album, so I’m sure everyone did their best without pushing their creativity. Dylan himself, given his age, probably put in the most effort and clearly spent a lot of time pondering over the lyrics and overall ideas for each song.

Relationship: 2. Depending on how you few this category – how do you personally relate to it, or how do you think most people will relate to it – will dictate your score. Personally I didn’t relate to it much at all – there is too much distance created by the stuff I didn’t enjoy – and while I can empathise with the thing, I didn’t care for it. Fans will go high on this score because they have a higher chance of relating to the guy they love, but first time listeners or people like me who are not fussed either way will likely not get a lot out of it from this category. 

Genre Relation: 4. I can’t exactly criticize the album for being a generic Blues album, then give it a crap score in this category. When it plays the Blues it feels like the Blues, when it goes Folk, it feels Folk. It’s not the best of either world, but you know what it is. Of course you could argue that when someone has been going for as long as Dylan has they essentially become a Genre all of their own, in which case yous should ask how it relates to his other work. 

Authenticity: 4. It feels personal, it feels real. It doesn’t feel like a product manufactured for the masses and it doesn’t feel like he’s done it purely for his fans. At this point he can do whatever the hell he wants, and he has, 

Personal: 2. I don’t think there’s enough I liked here to go with a 3. Maybe that will change with time, but I doubt it. We know fans will go a 5 here, unless they’re particularly strict and the individual songs were not to their taste, but I can’t see a fan going less than a 4. A 1 would be harsh even for me, because I appreciate the effort and talent involved. But he’s not  an artist I’ll be able to enjoy, unless someone else is performing his songs.

Miscellaneous: 3. The album cover isn’t the most exciting, ripped straight from a hundred 50s and 60s album artwork like some shoddy easy rock compilation. You have to suspect this might be his last album which does offer some interesting side notes, and he did pull together some notable guest stars. Nothing exciting, but enough to get a 2 or a 3. 

Total: 64/100

That’s actually an interesting score. I enjoyed Biffy Clyro’s album more than this, but this gets a better score (by a single point). Does that mean the system works? Hopefully it shows that any bias is decreased. Let us know in the comments what you think of Rough And Rowdy Ways!

Ranking The Radiohead Songs – The Bends!

In the spirit of keeping things brief, I’ll simply say that The Bends remains my favourite Radiohead album. Is it their best? Well, there’s not such thing as ‘best’, is there? It’s the album which contains the highest number of my favourite Radiohead songs and unlike every other album there isn’t really a single song I skip. Here’s my ranking:

  1. Black Star
  2. Fake Plastic Trees
  3. Street Spirit
  4. The Bends
  5. High And Dry
  6. Nice Dream
  7. Bullet Proof
  8. My Iron Lung
  9. Just
  10. Bones
  11. Planet Telex
  12. Sulk

Slap your ranking into the comments, daddy!

Nightman Listens To – Marillion – Radiation Part 3!

Greetings, Glancers! For those of you wondering why there’s a part three – it’s mainly because I got ahead of the guys in my Marillion posts and didn’t include any commentary on their podcast episodes for Radiation. Therefore, this post is going to be another quickfire round of bullet points and meanderings. If that’s not your sort of thing then ride on, cowboy!

  • Bong! Marillion news – new album almost done, and live dates confirmed.
  • Paul fell out of a taxi once, in Stockholm. I’ve never been to Stockholm, but I have been to a taxi (and fallen out of one, or at the very least stumbled gracelessly). Incidentally, any mention of taxi stories makes me think of my friend Mike from school who was so drunk after one of our pre-Formals (basically an excuse to go out on the Friday nights in the months running up to our School Formal/Prom and get drunk at the prospective venues) that he forgot his dad was picking him up, sauntered over to his dad’s car believing it was a taxi, opened the door and asked ‘are you waiting for anyone, mate’. You had to be there.
  • I barely have enough money for a weekend at the mother in law’s in Portstewart, never mind crowd-funding a romp to Poland. I do have Polish friends, maybe they could set me up if I ever decided to travel there. One of them is from a town called ‘Hell’. Possibly Hel.
  • I once won a Bee Gees VHS.
  • So Marillion didn’t create crowd-funding, it was Bedford Jeff.
  • That’s some great fandom, but I am too tight to give anyone money. I love the idea that traditional ways of doing things can be circumvented. If only we could do the same for the many other ills of modern music (cutting out the middle man, distributors, money men, etc).
  • So basically that 60 grand enabled every album Marillion has released since to exist. Money well spent, I would imagine.
  • ASWAD. TISWAS more like. JIZZWAD?
  • Your latest album is always going to be promoted as your best album. ‘How’s the new album coming along?’…. ‘Yeah, it’s almost done, but it’s a bit shit…. enjoy!’
  • I think These Chains deserves to be Top 40, but 1998 was all post Brit-pop gubbins and weird stuff. As Paul just says.
  • I don’t see much comparison between Radiation and OK Computer. 
  • I still haven’t heard the original mix.
  • I miss Mansun.
  • Prog was really making strides in Europe and Metal at this time – it wasn’t quite big in the UK yet, but this was around the time I got into Nightwish. Ray Of Light is a masterpiece. This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours came out in 98 too. Hardly a Prog album, but definitely an album which marked both a growth and departure for the Manics.
  • The context is obviously important, but to me as a new listener it does sound flat and not adventurous.
  • Speaking of freebie copies, today’s freebies from Amazon for me include 2 Barbies, Shampoo, Conditioner, a Pikachu toy of some sort, a Polly Pocket compact, and a set of Post Its.
  • I’m trying to think of any instances when one of my favourite bands has come out to say that they’re essentially denying their past in the ‘we’re not a Prog band/we’re not a Metal band’ etc… I think plenty of my favourite bands have said they’re changing their sound for a particular album but I don’t recall them explicitly saying ‘that’s not us’. Radiohead have done a bit of denying their past over time – refusing to play Creep, then refusing to play songs from The Bends, and even stopping songs from OK Computer. Again, that’s not a huge issue for me as a band can do whatever they wants and those albums are a million years old now, so of course people and tastes grow, people get sick of playing the same old hits, and people want to promote the new stuff.
  • Did I get any Beatles vibes from the album? I don’t remember.
  • Cathedral Wall was an attempt at a Bond song? I definitely didn’t get that, I’ll have to listen again. In any case, I wasn’t a fan of the song.
  • Sounds like the guys like the album, Sanja in particular, probably more than I did. It’ll be interesting to see if their favourites are the same as mine – they’ve already called out A Few Words For The Dead, which I love.
  • On to Episode 2 of the Podcast – we have a Digi interloper to provide an unexpected intro.
  • Ooh, a new Switch model has just been unveiled, hold on, got to check that out….
  • I’m not really sure what the difference is… it’s bigger?
  • Back to BYAMPOD and an alarming disclaimer that not everything Paul and Sanja say should be taken as truth. I’m waiting for the shocking twist in the final episode that Marillion never existed.
  • H is a sad boy. But likes the bants. So H is all of us. The production process was somewhat laid-back, even though H was going through personal stuff.
  • Paul realised he was going through personal stuff too at the time Radiation was released, which gave a spin on his feelings about the album.
  • Sounds like some of the differences between the original and the remix were good, most were bad. Go take the bits you like and add them back in.
  • I am beginning to hear some weird audio blips – Mr Digi Interloper’s prophecy has been fulfilled.
  • Costa Del Slough – confirmed as a joke song. Nah, we allow the corporations to exist and wreck the place. If we didn’t buy, they wouldn’t sell.
  • <Skims through memory to recall any songs about burning cats>
  • They don’t have much to say about Under The Sun. Did I? Oh yes, Britpoppy, ‘it is to rain’ etc. Nobody likes Cannibal Surf Babe.
  • Parp.
  • I think I gave a range of possible explanations for the lyrics for The Answering Machine. Sanja goes down the same route as me in terms of explaining H’s psyche, yet takes the approach of thinking it’s a love song.
  • Paul thinks the answering machine is the person he is trying to talk to, while Sanja is more literal and says the narrator finds it easier to speak to a physical answering machine rather than the person. Did I think H was the answering machine himself? Can’t remember, no-one even has an answering machine anymore.
  • Is anyone going to say it’s like a medieval jig?
  • The jauntiness of the rhythm does match the mood of the lyrics, I can see that, but it almost feels too bouncy which gives it a lightness which doesn’t convey the lyrical sentiment.
  • Paul thinks Three Minute Boy is pure Beatles. And now I remember saying Costa Del Slough was pure McCartney. I found this one more like Duran Duran. I did make a Hey Jude comparison.
  • Sanja’s not a huge fan of the song, especially the lyrics. I liked this one more than the first two. Paul doesn’t like the lyrics either. He finds it very bitchy and jealous. I didn’t pick up on any of this jealousy regarding Oasis or their ilk. They like the music, shame about the subject matter.
  • Paul and Sanja turn into Harry Enfield and Kathy Burke doing their baby characters.
  • H’s explanation of the song is precisely what I picked up on, not really any of the envy or jealousy. I remember Patsy Kensit from Silas Marner. Damn forced GCSE literature balls.
  • H confirms he will never appear on BYAMPOD.
  • Now She’ll Never Know – lovely, innit? It’s their 2nd favourite on the album – I think we know what the first is. This is my favourite, with their favourite being my 2nd. What?
  • People don’t like this? People are idiots. I get it’s not Prog, not musically complex, I get some hairy dead men don’t like falsetto, it’s definitely Radiohead inspired, but I love Radiohead and I love the song.
  • These Chains is my 3rd favourite on the album. I’m not sure what else could have been a single from this one, it’s an obvious single for me – just maybe released in the wrong period.
  • The lyrics are quite personal again, while easy to extrapolate onto any person. Surely the H equivalent of Torch is Horch?
  • It’s a song about insomnia, which I don’t think I picked up on at all, or with Cathedral Wall. I’m losing touch. H says the song is a bit of an encapsulation of ‘life’, decade by decade. Oddly enough, we’re all different.
  • On to the sex song. They say it’s weird, which is exactly what sex is. Sanja also fell for the Springsteen trap. The song already has a new name – ‘the sex song’ is as good a name as any.
  • Mystery songs appearing on album is always amusing – then the real thing sounds wrong without them. Sanja gives basically the same interpretation as I did. I ran away, though was self aware enough to fully embrace my roots.
  • Late night, smokey – that’s another way for saying sex. Mutter singing/mumblecore?
  • Paul loves the keyboards – that’s the obvious standout musically. Abraham who? They love this one more than I do.
  • They don’t love Cathedral Wall – neither do I. Can you imagine Goldfinger with Shirley Bassey whispering the vocals instead. Go on, imagine it.
  • I get the song is authentic – dog shit is authentic, doesn’t mean I want to stand in it. The song isn’t dog shit though…. it’s not funny enough.
  • If it’s about insomnia, I can see that now. I used to go for walks at night when I had insomnia, but I didn’t live in a rich enough town to have a Cathedral. Plenty of Gospel Halls, if that counts? I would climb out my bedroom window and go for a wander. Then wonder what the hell I was doing and go back to bed. The world can be a lot more interesting at night, I love the quiet. I did dream about seeing a spider the size of a cat in my garage last night. I’m always dreaming about spiders. The H quote makes sense and maybe the sound is given a dreamlike gleam – Lynch style.
  • Paul gives it the basics – hate then love – and doesn’t think there’s any more to it. I was assuming there would be a reason or an inspirational spark behind the lyrics. Sanja does allude to the quiet ‘or you could love’ so I’m not the only one you thought that was interesting.
  • Sanja appreciates the depth of the mix which gives you something new and extra with each listen. Paul says it almost feels like it doesn’t belong on the album – I can see that.. it almost deserves to be on an 8 track album, one with a ten minute opener, and instrumental in the middle, and this to close out.
  • Paul says this is the album which made Paul realise that the band was trying to do something different with each album, deliberately.
  • It sounds like the next album is balls. I haven’t started it yet.
  • And that’s that. There will be a letters bag coming. Please give money. Please give me money too, though you won’t get anything in return.

Let us know what you think of Radiation in the comments, and as always check out BYAMPOD for yourselves!

Ranking The Radiohead Songs – Pablo Honey!

 

Greetings, Glancers! Don’t worry – I’ll be keeping these short so that I can knock out as many lists as possible as I hurry through some of my favourite bands and artists. We move on to Radiohead. This is their first album. I rank it quite highly, unlike most Radiohead fans. Here is my ranking of the songs. The first four are interchangeable. The next four are interchangeable. Blow Out is always last. I like Blow Out. See, that was quick!

1: Anyone Can Play Guitar

2: Thinking About You

3: I Can’t

4: Prove Yourself

5: Stop Whispering

6: Ripcord

7: Vegetable

8: Creep

9: Lurgee

10: How Do You

11: You

12: Blow Out

Let us know your ranking in the comments!

Best Supporting Actress – 1980

Official Nominations: Mary Steenburgen. Ellen Brennan. Eva La Gallienne. Cathy Moriarty. Diana Scarwid.

Honestly, there’s not a lot to choose from here with a list of actresses your regular movie goer wouldn’t recognise. You could say the same most the majority of the movies which contain the performances. Raging Bull is the one everyone knows, with Cathy Moriarty playing Jake’s object of obsession. She’s good, but it’s little more than the classic ‘pretty girl turns manic’ performance and has a lot in common with Lorraine Bracco in Goodfellas. Good performance, but she’s not what you remember from the film.

The official winner this year was Mary Steenburgen playing another wife in Melvin & Howard. She’s the long suffering wife of the eternal screw up, Melvin, and she is always looking for her own way out. Another good performance, but nothing you haven’t seen before. Ellen Brennan plays the stereotype ‘authority figure tries to control/sabotage the star’ role against Goldie Hawn in Private Benjamin. Once again, nothing you haven’t seen in any number of other films, though it’s more usual to have a man in this type of performance. She’s funny, and plays off Hawn with chemistry.

Our final two are the least well known performances, performers, and films. Diana Scarwid is the potential love interest of the suicidal Roary – not sure why this was nominated but it’s not a great year. The last nod is a veteran nod – Eva La Gallienne a star of stage more often than screen with performances going back to the 1910s. Burstyn is what you remember from Resurrection with Gallienne playing the grandmother attempting to ground Burstyn’s character after her sudden fame.

My Winner: Cathy Moriarty

Cathy Moriarty

My Nominations: Cathy Moriarty. Mary Steenburgen. Beverly D’Angelo. Nathalie Baye. Cherrie Currie.

I add three new nominees to the two taken from the Official list. Beverly D’Angelo, more known for her comedic roles, makes an early dramatic impact appearing in The Coal Miner’s Daughter as Patsy Cline and earned herself a Golden Globe nomination. Nathalie Baye excels alongside Isabell Huppert in Godard’s Every Man For Himself. I’m not sure how I feel about the film and you may be unsure as to whether or not Baye or Huppert is the lead. While well received, it’s not my favourite Godard film, but there’s no doubting the performances. Finally, Cherrie Currie of The Runaways fame tries her hand at acting in Foxes and makes us wonder why she didn’t become a bigger success in that field. Drug addiction seemed to affect the roles she could get, a shame not least because of her presence and performance as the rebellious and abused teenage girl whose behaviour and fate mirror the lives of the central characters. While I feel my picks are more interesting than most of the Official picks, it’s difficult to vote against Raging Bull and Moriarty.

My Winner: Cathy Moriarty

Let us know your winner in the comments!