Nightman Listens To – Marillion – Happiness Is The Road Vol 1 (Part 3)!

Marillion – Happiness Is The Road, Volume 1: Essence (2008, CD) - Discogs

Greetings, Glancers! After last week’s tragic saga of woe, let’s hope today’s is all kittens, sunshine, and pina coladas. We’re still talking about the same album, so chances of that are slim. We kick off with Liquidity, which we presumably won’t have much to say about. It’s a solid, short, instrumental piece which loops and builds upon the same recurring keyboard motif. There’s a lot going on and it’s fairly intricate for what is very simple at its core; the tinkling, dripping bits of synth effects, the cymbal taps, Rothers twiddling with his (volume) knob, and lots of other cool little pieces all serve to make a cinematic whole. You could imagine this played over long, sweeping drone shots of a David Attenborough show, with desolate snowy lands unfurling from Winter darkness and melting into the first droplets of Spring, new-born mouths yawning, wings stretching, eyes searching upwards for the sun. A Koyaanisqatsi like montage of life zipping by.

It transitions very smoothly into Nothing Fills The Hole. To continue the montage metaphor, I can imagine the landscape switching from the tundra to the safari as the song progresses, shots of thrashing rivers and playful big cats as the chorus peaks. But we’d be getting too far off course because this is a very human story – as touched upon in the previous post, us humans have decided we need more than just the hunt. Mere survival, eating, procreating doesn’t sustain us. While our cousins throughout the animal kingdom seem to need only the minimum requirements for life, we are crippled by doubt, malaise, and the search for a remedy often becomes our meaning. Jeebus, here we go again.

The song is like a mantra, lyrically, musically, and in terms of vocal delivery. Just like Liquidity, the opening of the song seems to loop and build. It doesn’t quite follow the Golden Ratio, but it has that style of setting out a melody and rhythm and building upon it with each iteration. Musically, the opening feels like an extension of Liquidity, eventually eroding away to become its own thing. Very cool how the vocals begin as eerie whispers which fit the Liquidity tone, but as the vocals become more human and clearer, the music moves away from those instrumental roots.

As all this looping and repeating evolves, the lyrics are delivered as a mantra, a shopping list of needs and wants, coming across as being both willingly repeated because they’re an important part of the person’s make-up and shouldn’t be forgotten, but also as a sinister, inescapable, buzzing set of addictions constantly distracting and crying for attention. It’s cool then that when the chorus arrives, it feels like breaking free, like the head crashing through the surface after being held under water. The sudden Motown blast is almost euphoric, but then it’s almost impossible to find a Motown song that doesn’t feel happy-clappy.

While there’s a lot of truth and a lot of philosophy in the lyrics, I couldn’t help but compare Nothing Fills The Hole to Most Toys. They both grasp at the same material, with one more cultured than the other. While I couldn’t disagree with the sentiments, there’s still that nagging feeling that I’d like to at least have the chance to get, see, and have the things I want, believe, and dream of. I understand that many of my wants and dreams are material, silly even, and that once I had them, I would likely move on to the next thing. But that’s not necessarily a negative. I’d suggest that’s almost natural. Maybe life is less about being fulfilled, and more about constantly moving and progressing. There’s futility in searching, but also purpose, as much as there is in finding. To H’s credit, he doesn’t outright seem to be saying that all the silly things we want aren’t important, more that he’s documenting his own struggles and that even when he finds the freedom, the nirvana which philosophy suggests is the final, perfect state we should aspire to, he doesn’t last a week with that and still moves on. It seems to be an admission that, well, nothing fills the hole, not the wants and needs and dreams, nor even the spiritual stuff which is generally the response people give when asked ‘what is most important’. Maybe the answer is the search, the moments between the search, and what we learn along the way.

Woke Up is the album’s summer song. It’s the only song which felt warm in my early listens, perhaps because it has a touch of the Indie to it, with its Britpop riffs taking me back to the Mid 90s teenage summers of yore. It’s bright, warm, and hopeful in the same way that the ‘coming up’ songs on Screamadelica are. The only thing missing for me is a bit of pace; as it is, the song fits with the many other slow to mid-paced songs the album has to offer. It’s almost a missed opportunity to not make Woke Up a little faster and more energetic, and I don’t think it would have sacrificed much of the relaxed, summertime vibe the song is going for.

Elsewhere it isn’t the most musically diverse song on the album. It’s an old-fashioned rock band song, dropping much of the keyboard and soundscape approach which has been a trademark up to this point. The keyboards are not completely absent – starting after the first chorus the guitar backing from verse one is replaced by keyboard swirls, but these are eventually clawed back and drowned out by several layers of guitars and backing vocals. As the song enters its second half, there’s a final quieter approach to the verse orchestration where it’s drums and simple keyboards only, and then onto a faux-string laden climax. In a three-minute song with as standard a structure as you’ll ever get by a band like Marillion, they have the experience and artistry to provide something musically different in each verse, while not offering anything too challenging or variant.

Lyrically, we’re talking about movement again, and at least on the surface it seems to be referencing touring by calling out all of the different types of cities and times of years it’s possible to wake up in. The final line, along with the repetitions of ‘you woke me up’ also suggest that it’s tangentially a love song, but the overall lyric isn’t direct enough to hit the other marks you expect from a love song. While it’s fine, I’d say it’s one of the more wafting and uneventful lyrics on the album. If I’m being overly critical, I could say that the lyrics are a missed opportunity too. Aside from the expansion of ideas in the ‘City full of snow’ verse, the other verses don’t offer a lot of insight or poetry. Instead of ‘city that doesn’t sleep/full of rain’, why not play on that idea of sleeplessness? Have a word, something which relates to sleep or is ironic, instead of ‘rain’. Same with the ‘down by the sea’ – a reference to something seasidey in the following line instead, plus that would create a nice poetic throughline from one verse to the next. Am I asking for too much? Elsewhere, I don’t have much more to add so let’s hear what Paul and Sanja make of it all.

Between You And Me (@BYAMPOD) | Twitter

We start with some soothing Sanja sleeping/meditation techniques which reminded me of that Simpsons episode where Homer tries to lose weight by listening to some self-help cassette in his sleep, but mistakenly receives a tape on expanding his language skills instead. Remember when The Simpsons used to be good? Wrinkle In Time was very very bad. Don’t watch it. Speaking of Disney-lite, Hallmark movies, we’re getting close to Christmas which means I’ll be watching more Lacey Chabery festive delights and reviewing them on the blog. LIKE AND SUBSCRIBE!

The guys call out Liquidity as a mostly Mark Kelly solo, emboldened by the producer. Apparently, the title was inspired by Mark and his former partner having a shared dream. A weird phenomenon, but it seems to happen every so often. The guys compliment the transitional aspects between this grouping of tracks, while Sonja seems to channel Drong when he smells a bit of football up his peripheries. Paul and Sanja are very positive about Liquidity and the band’s confidence in leaving it as it is without forcing it into a ‘song’.

Sanja is a big fan of Nothing Fills The Hole, how theatrical, or music-theatre it is, and has added it to her personal playlist. She highlights the swirling, repetitive, building nature, while Paul calls it ‘Prog Soul’. Prole? Paul mentions Funkadelic, which of course ties in with my later name dropping of Primal Scream’s classic from decades later. Paul says that Marillion does their version of Soul better than they do their version of angry rock, which seems fair enough. They’ve never, or very rarely been a band who plays fast and are happy to be languid. Any time they’re angry, it never comes across musically through the use of volume or distortion or venom or any of the other traditional hallmarks of rock. Their anger is more internalized, or like the guy who mutters about the bad situation after everyone else has left the room or moved on. But, they are very good at the slower stuff, the pain, and the self-exploration.

We’ll never find out what the song means lyrically, because Paul can’t be arsed going upstairs to find the magazine which the explanation from H. The guys give their own thoughts, which roughly aligns to everything I said – whatever H wants, and he’s tried a lot, none of it has filled that hole. We all have our needs, our holes, and our opportunities to fill them. Matron. Bonus Manics lyrical reference alert – ‘too many teenage holes to fill’ is the more adolescent version of what H is talking about here. There’s no escaping how uncomfortably sex-oriented that line is, and I’m sure it was written to be ambiguous, but the entire song (Yourself) is more accurately about the emptiness of teenage existence and the quest to find meaning in your own body and to live up to an impossible level of physical expectation. Lovely.

As I suggested, the song is an admission. Paul fills in the gaps by telling how H had come out of a relationship, had been struggling for a while, could never find happiness or contentment, but once he found the Power Of Now book and began working on this album, the steps to being content were put in place. Paul and Sanja share their own journeys towards loving each other, and loving themselves, which is very sweet, and honest, and sad in places. I’m not sure why I’ve had my own issues with this – I’ve always had low self-esteem, I’ve never particularly thought I was important, and most of my relationships till now have been unhealthy. But I wasn’t good then, and neither were the other parties. I mean, I’m still a mess, but aren’t we all?

We slide in Woke Up as Sanja compliments the musicality and the production, and the Indian-style approach. I think that’s just the keyboards pretending to be violins, but the Eastern vibe is very clear. Paul thinks the song is a shameless Who rip-off, while I called out its 90s Britpop-ness. Of course, The Who were one of the major influences on 90s Britpop. Paul highlights Wake Up as one of their best pop-rock songs and they both call out how it feels like a literal revelation.

Paul compliments the lyrics on the rhythmic side of things and Sanja mentions the call-backs to previous songs about touring and travelling. Both guys add that it’s also about love, about the impact of personal changes on how you see the world or how you see the same old places with a new light. If you’re loved, you take it with you, no matter whether that love is for another or for yourself. What it love? Don’t hurt me. Don’t hurt me. No more.

And that’s where we leave it, not before an assault on charity workers. Scum of the earth, they are. If you agree, make sure to listen to the pod, retweet, comment your most hated charity, and all the other things. If you’d like to tell me you love me, that’d be weird but by all means drop a comment and I’ll be sure to block you. Enjoy!

Disney Songs – Peter Pan

Walt Disneys Peter Pan [Original Soundtrack] (1951) CD FREE Shipping, Save  £s 5017187758308 | eBay

You know what is worse than the soundtrack to Alice In Wonderland? Hopefully nothing! It’s time for the boy who never grew up to write about Peter Pan, a green weirdo. I’m not a huge fan of the movie, but lets see how the songs fare.

The Second Star To The Right‘: I think this is the one everyone knows – it’s saved from being yet another dreary old choral mess by some gorgeous melodies. The vocals are awfully plain and drift from boring to irritating, but I should remember this was still the early 50s and rock ‘n’ roll had not yet come along to wise everyone up. It’s a great little song at its core, very simple, dreamy like a lullaby, but the vocals and arrangement here don’t help it.

You Can Fly‘: I tend to skip this one when listening to Disney soundtracks in the car – it’s the spoken parts I can’t stand. As I’ve said countless times before, they work in the movie, but not without the visuals. Sadly the song is let down again by those dreadful choral voices. I love the lyrics and how happy, innocent, and hopeful they are, the melodies are drowned out by the backing harmonies which offer nothing beneficial and an assortment of dog barks and background noises which are terrible without the visuals. There’s a decent song in here somewhere.

A Pirate’s Life‘: A short one, only thirty seconds long, so I’m not sure it truly qualifies as a song – it’s more like a drunken shanty which is perfectly fitting – you get the impression that the pirates would sing this on a nightly basis, improvising verses and instruments and what we have here is a mere snippet.

Following The Leader‘: This begins with a marching band drum band before a choir of kids sing the central line. This somehow manages to be less annoying than the adult choral voices – it’s a lot brighter and more fun than those efforts and the off tune whistling isn’t bad either. It’s exactly the sort of catching nonsense you can imagine kids singing around the schoolyard in a conga line.

What Made The Red Man Red‘: Ah yes, this one. Disney has a number of horribly stereotypical moments in its past, and while I’m in no way an advocate of wiping those from history, there is nonetheless something unsavoury about hearing this today. The lyrics, the vocals, and of course the whole scene are culturally insensitive and there’s no getting away from it. Naysayers will say this is a cartoon and it’s for kids and we shouldn’t get so worked up about such things – I suspect they are the same people who are up in arms when they hear about a homosexual character being added to something like My Little Pony or Beauty And The Beast – you can’t have it both ways, guys. The fact is that there was a time when this sort of thing was more acceptable – that time is gone, but we shouldn’t hide from the fact that it happened. We don’t need to condone it or delete it, but impressionable youths should be taught that such things are not cool. In any case, it’s not the best song in the world, but it has its own style.

‘Your Mother And Mine‘: Another one that starts which a spoken section, though it’s brief enough to not need to skip. I love the vocals for the most part, the melody is gentle and emotive, but for once the backing strings don’t do much for me – they don’t accompany the vocals or the vocal melodies well in the slightest, hurting what could have been another essential Disney ballad.

The Elegant Captain Hook‘: It’s one of those talky/singy songs. Choral vocals again – they just don’t work for me, neither does all the descending brass and backing music.

Never Smile At A Crocodile‘: This is the other classic. Interestingly the song appears in the film without the famous lyrics – that piece only being released decades later and becoming an instant children’s classic. The song is great, pure childhood joy.

A considerably shorter affair than Alice In Wonderland, and much better songs to boot. The songs still aren’t great, one or two have their moments, and a couple are deserving of being sent into space for posterity. Never Smile At A Crocodile and The Second Star To The Right are the songs you would want to play to the alien civilization that you meet 15 gazillion light years through The Spac Hole. Or to your kids. Next time around we’ll be listening to The Lady And The Tramp, so stick around. Let us know in the comments which songs from Peter Pan you enjoy most!

Aladdin – Get Rekt!

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Greetings, Glancers! Today I run a more critical eye over my tenth favourite movie of the year 1992, seeking to ignore my bias and provide a fair score based on the 20 criteria I feel are most important in the creation of a film. Today’s movie is Disney’s Aladdin, one of the central results of the Disney Renaissance, a Romantic Adventure led by Robin Williams and set in the world of Arabian Nights. 

Sales: 5. There are going to be a lot of 5s dished out when it comes to any Disney movies which feature in my Top Tens. This was smack bang in the middle of the Renaissance, when anything the company released gobbled up every penny going. It made over half a billion at release and has probably made something similar in the time since.

Critical Consensus: 4. Potentially a 5 as this was universally acclaimed and the time and remains seen as a high point now, but several critics did give negative reviews concerning what even some of the positive reviews called out – racial stereotypes.

Director: 4. Musker & Clements reteamed after The Little Mermaid, bringing another romance but this time one with a heavier action and comedy slant. It’s a feast for the eyes, ears, and heart. Feel free to go 5 here. My only criticism is that it feels a little by the numbers Disney, but you could just as easily flip that to a positive by saying it does what Disney does best.

Performances: 5. Robin Williams is obviously the star of the show but Scott Weinger and Linda Larkin hold their own as Aladdin and Jasmine, Jonathan Freeman does a great, sneering Jafar, and Gilbert Gottfried pierces everyone’s earholes as Iago. It’s arguably the best performed Disney film ever.

Characters: 4. Classic characters/archetypes are given a bit of an American white-washing, but at their core it’s a universal bunch; the slum kid with a heart, the lonely Princess who yearns for independence, the clearly insane genie, the hapless Sultan and his scheming, power hungry advisor. Plus the side characters like Abu, Iago, even a mute flying Carpet all have endearing qualities.

Cinematography: 4. It’s not quite as gorgeous as Beauty And The Beast but again showcases a leap forwards in scope and an expansion into CG.

Writing: 4. The plot is standard fare, brought into the modern day with a less subservient Princess and some meta wit. Plus Robin Williams ad libs and goes off with his own shtick which may hit or miss depending on each individual.

Plot: 3. It’s a rags to riches story, a romance, and a story of redemption all in one. The writing and performances raise what is hardly the most original plot.

Wardrobe: 4. From the sheer number of main and backing characters on screen, particularly in the town and parade scenes, to the attention to detail in what would have been seen as exotic for Disney, it’s all stunning.

Editing: 4. Well handled in the set pieces and services the overall pace.

Make up and Hair: 3. Detailed for the time though not as iconic as some Disney films for me.

Effects: 4. In the more adventurous scenes – the Cave Of Wonders, the Whole New World scene, the climax, it’s a visual and exciting treat.

Art and Set: 4. From Day 1 Disney has known how to create worlds and dreams, palaces, and memorable places. Aladdin is no different.

Sound And Music: 5. A step down from Beauty And The Beast but stronger than most. It’s not just about one song. You have the centrepiece, but you also have One Jump Ahead, Arabian Nights, and Prince Ali. Never Had A Friend Like Me is fine too. One of the more consistently strong Disney scores.

Cultural Significance: 4. Difficult to assess as a standalone because The Little Mermaid spearheaded the Renaissance, Beauty And The Beast was the crowning achievement, and The Lion King was the fan favourite. Aladdin was the next in a line of hits. It did lead to sequels, a TV show, and the inevitable remake, but whether it kickstarted an interest in Arabian media is unlikely. Arguably its greatest impact was in placing a major household name in the cast, which would become the norm.

Accomplishment: 4. It’s easy to overlook how much effort and work was put into this, because we take it for granted that Disney movies will just be good. It’s often more difficult to appreciate the work that goes into an Animated film. Plus, when the film works you don’t think about the years it took to bring it to completion. This was a step up in scope for Disney, with more characters on screen and more complexity than other films they’d already made.

Stunts: 4. Can you give an animated movie a high score for Stunts? While there’s no traditional, physical, dude in a suit jumping off a building, stunts here, you should then question how the action makes you feel. Is it bland? Exhilarating? Does it offer something you haven’t seen before? Does it do it with style? My score tells you how I feel.

Originality: 3. It’s a modern re-telling of an ancient tale, or a number of ancient tales. Boy meets girl. Poor boy wants to be rich. Bad guy wants power. Girl wants to be heard. Dude gets three wishes. These stories are ingrained upon us from youth. But it tells them in a fresh, up-tempo, 90s era fashion.

Miscellaneous: 4. I saw it at the Cinema, does that count? The made for TV sequel and TV show actually weren’t too bad, and the videogame adaptation was notoriously difficult. All helps to create a package which feels less cynical than today’s big budget cash grabs. But that could just be nostalgia talking.

Personal: 5. It’s one of my favourite Disney movies. Top 5. Of course it’s going to get a 5 from me. I pretty much only do musicals if they’re Disney and they’re animated. This is peak Disney, right before they jumped to CG, and has everything I want in one of their movies – heart, adventure, laughs, memorable songs, wonderful characters, and a world of pure imagination.

Total Score: 79/100.

Is that our highest movie score so far? Am I going to check? What’s your own score? Let us know in the comments!

Best Song – 1983

Official Nominations: What A Feeling. Maniac. Over You. Papa, Can You Hear Me. The Way He Makes Me Feel.

A solid list this year, though a lower number of movies represented with Flashdance getting two nominations (and the official win) and Yentl following with two. What A Feeling, as cheesy and outdated as it is, seems to have the ability to make anyone want to dance and writhe around on a chair. Possibly weld too. It has everything I love in 80s pop, the atmospheric synth combined with a yearning, insta-catchy melody. The same can be said for Maniac, except that the former is much more inspirational. Papa Can You Hear Me is a sweet, tortured ballad – I’d rather hear someone else sing it, than listen to Streisand’s lungs. Streisand belts out another one in The Way He Makes Me Feel, but it lacks the emotional power of the other entry – it has to be a truly great song with Streisand performing for me to enjoy it at all as her voice is too theatrical and leaves me cold. Our final entry is from Tender Mercies – Over You – but it may as well be Streisand again, a non-starting ballad belted out with zero emotion.

My Winner: What A Feeling

The Number Ones: Irene Cara's “Flashdance… What A Feeling”

My Nominations: What A Feeling. Maniac. Easy Money. On The Dark Side. Tender Years. Every Sperm Is Sacred. Holiday Road. After The Fall. Push It To The Limit. Turn Out The Night.

Two songs make it to my list. I could pick several from Meaning Of Life but let’s go with the obvious – I think if there’s one thing The Academy needs to nominate, it’s more songs about masturbation, especially those sung in front of/performed by children. Every Sperm Is Sacres is not only funny, but a decent tune too.

Easy Money is a funky Billy Joel theme song to a Rodney Dangerfield movie. There’s not a lot to it, but it’s a lot of fun and performed with over-the-top pizzazz. On The Dark Side is from the forgotten Eddie And The Cruisers – one of those films where the soundtrack was more successful than the movie. It’s pure inspirational Springsteen, though it gets more and more cheesy as it goes on. Tender Years, from the same movie, should be the cheesier song but it’s better and the emotion feels honest.

Holiday Road from Vacation makes me think of station wagons and, for some reason, Christmas. I think it’s because it feels like a Gary Glitter song. It’s fun, but not a lot to it. After The Fall is a lower tier 80s anthem, appearing in Risky Business, good enough to deserve a nomination here. Push It To The Limit is so 80s you can taste the cocaine – fast paced guitar and synth, gruff, yet high-pitched vocals, and lyrics about limits/zones. It even seems to rip off The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. Turn Out The Night is more of the same from Scarface, this time with Amy Holland providing the vocals. Again – synth, atmosphere, melody.

My Winner: What A Feeling.

Let us know your winners in the comments!

Nightman Listens To – Marillion – Happiness Is The Road Vol 1 (Part 2)!

Marillion – Happiness Is The Road, Volume 1: Essence (2008, CD) - Discogs

Greetings, Glancers! Apologies for that monstrosity of a title, but Marillion really should have known when recording this album that decades later there would be a Podcast doing a deep dive on each of their albums, splitting each album into multiple episodes, and that there would be a blogger writing posts about each of those episodes. In naming their albums, they have given such eventualities no consideration. They did give names to each of Volumes though, right? What’s Volume 1 – Essence? I could make that my title instead. But I won’t. We’re just going to have put up with Vol 1, parts I-IV. It’s all very Prog.

The good news is that I’d already written all of my song commentary by the time the first BYAMPOD ep on Happiness Is The Road came out, so it is just a matter of slicing up the content into multiple posts, and adding my comments on the BYAMPOD episodes themselves. My work is done until Volume 2!

Essence was a bit of a puzzle during my early listens, that dreary tone clouding what turned out to be a very fine mini-Prog epic. There’s the confidence of the Marbles era shining through, it feels very The Bends era Radiohead inspired in places, Kid A in others, and it covers a mish mash of styles from Space Rock to Gospel. It’s one of those songs which, if you skip about randomly to different points in the song, you’ll encounter a different sound or mood. Once I got a feel for it, I questioned whether this is one of songs which fans have accused of being a cut and paste of different parts the band came up with in various jam sessions. I could certainly see that being the case and I wouldn’t argue against anyone who says it feels disjointed. I think it flows quite well between these different sections. To make it feel less disjointed they could have spent longer on a few of the individual sections, or could have done some sort of musical call-backs or a wraparound piece at the end to connect the close of the song to an earlier section. Hell, even breaking the song’s name out into different parts may have countered some of these feelings – Essence Parts I-IV. In any case, it’s not something I had any issue with, and I didn’t feel like any of the transitions were forced or jarring.

It’s not a guitar heavy song, at least not obviously. This is closer to the experimental soundscapes of Radiohead and some of Devin Townsend’s early solo work. It’s more noticeable for the work Mark Kelly brings, working in clear tinkling piano and foreboding synth to shift the mood from one place to the next. It’s dense on the percussive side, with the traditional drums bulked out with different cymbal sounds and clangs. Rothery isn’t left out in the cold, adding some venom and edge to some of the harsher sections.

Lyrically, taken with the songs we’ve already covered, Essence confirms a bit of a running theme in the album. One which aligns with the album’s name. It seems to be about connections. Authenticity. Finding your way to happiness, to something real. Negotiating the distractions we encounter, drowning out the noise, and allowing the essence of our needs and meaning to come into focus. ‘Essence’ becomes a mantra.

I couldn’t avoid lyrical comparisons to Trainspotting and Choose Life. Very different songs of course, and very different meanings. I was half expecting Fish as Ewen McGregor or Ewen McGregor as Fish to creep in at some point just to say ‘choose life’ in a thick Scottish accent. The lyrics and music flow together nicely, the climax and celebratory ending coinciding with the lyrical Nirvana. It’s sadly all too rare that lyrics and music intertwine like this, but when it happens it can be glorious.

Wrapped Up In Time is the highlight of the album for me. It’s the one which nails the combination of melody and emotion that I crave. That’s not to say I don’t have a few nit-picking issues with it – the unnecessarily sudden ending, and the early noughties digital drum loop in the ‘there’s an echo of them’ section which was prevalent in 90% of boy/girl band music of the era, for example. But on the whole, it’s what I’ve come to want in a Marillion song; potent melodies sung heartfelt over ethereal soundscapes.

It’s another Mark Kelly showcase, trading in atmospheric beats with Ian Mosely. The intro is almost like a call and response between the two, and between the different layers of keyboards and what I assume to be various bells and Glockenspiel type instruments. This gives a suitably chilling mood, evoking vistas of the frozen tundra, icicles giving way to the warmth of the vocals and the passing of time from Winter to Spring.

For my money, the melodies are among the most tender and heartfelt the band has ever done. So much so that I’d love to hear an acoustic take with the intro and outro stripped away or replaced – just the vocals with a guitar or piano. That’s not to dismiss the start and end which do a great job of setting the tone for what’s to come, but when I find a new song that I love (particularly a dense one), I want to hear a few different versions of it and see how it changes based on the approach. A live version, an acoustic version, a demo etc. I get the impression that an acoustic take of Wrapped Up In Time could be special, slightly slowed down and leaving the emotion to run free without distraction. Fuck it, I’m googling it now. Ha! I see a Less Is More option… that’s one of the live albums Paul has mentioned a few times. Listening to the Less Is More version now… not the approach I was hoping for, too slowed down and seems to be bringing out the Gospel and Blues side rather than the… well, the purity of the original. I see a few live versions out there too, some stripped back, but these seem to follow the Less Is More style. Luckily when you can’t find what you’re looking for you can just do it yourself – my daughter’s pink, half-size acoustic guitar happens to be sitting behind me here and if I grab it I can… boom! Yes, it works well even if I do compliment myself for an impromptu rendition no-one will ever hear.

Back to it. It’s the lyrical version of The Langoliers, without the furry monsters. The past is gone. This is a bit of a theme with H and it’s clearly something he’s struggled with. That theme ties in with the whole album – the importance of living in the moment and not being trapped by what did or didn’t happen, or plagued by what ifs. Which is cool, because it’s something I’ve always struggled with. The past is most definitely a prison. I find myself trapped there all the time. I often dream of the past and don’t want to wake up. It’s horrible. It’s addictive. It ensures that regret becomes an insidious part of your being. While regret is ultimately worthless, I rank it highly in how trustworthy I find someone. If you claim to have no regrets, I probably won’t waste my time with you. All of this may explain why I enjoyed the song so much, as I feel and understand what he’s saying and what’s behind it.

To read the lyrics straight from the page, with no context and no music, they’re a bit of a mishmash of insight and mumbling repetition. ‘Like the past in a present’ is excellent, ‘the time for them has gone and their time has gone with them’ is less so. The repetitions of ‘echo’ is particularly affecting, especially for those of us who have a person in the past whose echoes reverberate in the present. The closing line works well, even in context of the abrupt end to the song. If it had been me, I’d have removed a lot of the space at the end of the song and made sure that Liquidity flowed immediately after. Or just had Liquidity be a part of Wrapped Up In Time rather than its own thing.

Between You And Me (@BYAMPOD) | Twitter

We start the latest episode of BYAMPOD with some of the carnage we’ve come to expect, with Paul and Sanja sharing some insight into their Supermarket activities, namely, talking to themselves and getting lost. I’ve been there. Then lots about Meat Loaf. Then we get into Essence, which Paul holds in very high esteem. He thinks it’s magical. It wasn’t… super immediate for me, but it was always one which stood out to me in my first listens of Vol 1 and 2. As mentioned above, it took a while to unravel for me, which is a little strange because it’s often the more complex songs which do speak to me with immediacy. I enjoy Wrapped Up In Time more, but Essence isn’t far behind. Paul is positive when he says it’s their best bit of Beatles referencing – we know the band has call-backs to The Beatles, but this is the best example of them doing that through the Marillion lens.

Sanja says it isn’t the most convoluted lyrically – it does what it says on the tin, if the tine was a book called The Power Of Now. Having not read that book (or tin), I’ll take the guys’ words for it, but the lyrics do come across as very Self-Help-Spiritual. Sanja reads an excerpt. I can’t say it’s my sort of thing, but I’m sure it helps people. When I focus on the inside of my body, I hear gurgles. Then fart. A six-minute song of fart noises is probably ill-advised, even if it were accompanied by a Rothers solo.

The guys then have a bit of a philosophical discussion inspired by the lyrics, and by their pasts. It’s an album which feels very personal and has only become more prescient over time. We are strange creatures, social, needy, yet essentially here for personal survival and perpetuation of the species. We find ourselves (many of us at least) in the safest point in time for our species, we’re aware of our own mortality, we’re creative, thinking, feeling beings and yet we often do things which actively harms ourselves and those around us because it’s easier, because we’re broken, or because we’re we can’t see any other choices available. I’ve never done any counselling whatsoever, but I spend a lot of time in my own head, and I’ve read plenty of philosophy over the years. And I observe human behaviour, including my own, often from a passive place. I’ve no idea what people would class me as when it comes to these conversations, and I likely change from day to day. I think… we’re here, and then we’re not. We’re born in a specific ecosystem with no say in the matter, we grow, we learn, we love, we hurt… and then we’re nothing.

I’d love there to be something more, something akin to The Good Place, something like our own personal version of Heaven where we just continue. Not the Christian version of Heaven, or any other from any religion I’m aware of, because those all sound fucking horrific; but an existence where we see who we want to see, we do what we want to do, and we can choose to opt out if we want to. I think the only honest answer is ‘I don’t know’. It’s the pain and injustice of the world which often spurs these thoughts – how can it be fair that we only get this one shot? How can it be that we spend this time learning and loving and experiencing, only for it to all be snatched away. How can we intimately know someone, only for them to be utterly gone? Without doxing myself, without meaning any disrespect by writing about it, and hopefully without upsetting people but, a child was killed in my town last week. Ostensibly on the road I live on. An accident. An utterly horrific, unthinkable accident. I have a son who is the same age. How can such a thing be allowed to happen? It’s a small town, so if you don’t know someone directly, you’ll at least have met or seen them in passing. Everyone inevitably will turn something so tragic inwards. I’m not sure how I could go on. I don’t want to even consider it, but here we are. My best guess is that I would just be done with it all. There would be nothing left. I’d spend what little would be left of my existence in complete rage and devastation. None of this should ever happen. But it does. It’s the world we’re in.

I’ve always been morbid, cynical, some strange hybrid between realist, pessimist, and goblin-esque laughing optimist. But I have a family now, something I never expected to happen. I am loved. So I’ll do what I can, in the now and in the future. I’ll follow my own tenets; Don’t be a dick, don’t hurt anyone, try to minimize the harm you may do to others and yourself over the years while maximizing the good. Try to improve yourself, try to understand everyone else. I respect everyone else’s beliefs as long as they are not demonstrably harmful, and I have zero interest in converting others to what I belief because, again, nobody who’s being honest can say they have the answers. I’m not defined by any of this and it’s not something I choose to consider or spend much time thinking about anymore. I look for no rewards and I accept that in a very short time the world will move on, and I’ll no longer be a part of it. If you are in the future and are reading this and my blog has inexplicably gone viral and is making shitloads of Euro-Credits or whatever the currency is, please make sure most of that makes its way into the pockets of my descendants, assuming they still wear clothes and are not assholes.

We move into discussion on Wrapped Up In Time by continuing these threads – the tangibility of thoughts, memories, even people. Echoing my Langoliers joke, the guys question whether the past exists in any real sense. Technology has helped with that conundrum somewhat – we have physical records of our collective and personal pasts, and any denial of that leads into fruitless Matrix type discussions and Solipsism. I can understand Sanja’s comment on stressing over failing to remember something as simple as a room you once spent a lot of time in. If you were to ask me to describe my current bedroom, I couldn’t tell you anything beyond the fact that there’s a bed and a pile of books beside it. But that’s only because I rarely notice or retain that sort of information. I absolutely stress myself over the loss of memories when it comes to conversations I’ve had or people I’ve known, to the extent that I’m genuinely not sure if certain things happened or not. I have a semi-recurring, semi-lucid dream about a girl who I have convinced myself that I once knew, but upon waking I can’t place her in my timeline. It’s always the same girl, and the dreams are not fanciful. They’re just plain conversations, involving other people I absolutely do know in places I’ve been, and she’s there and is somehow important to me. But I’ve no idea who she is. I can only assume I’ve invented her, and my brain is confusing itself through some weird sleep nonsense. And yet, everything about it all feels just like a memory. The other guy who sometimes shows up dressed in suit and Top Hat and who screams at me with an unnaturally large mouth – no idea who he is, but he can fuck all the way off.

Speaking of lost memories, I get the impression that I’ve posted the following quote from Angel on my Marillion posts before. It’s a quote which I’m conflicted by, because it sounds too on the nose, too pseudo-philosophical-without-really-saying-anything, too much like it’s playing with the conventions of language to sound smarter than it actually is. But it still applies when we’re talking about finding our own meaning. If nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do. It’s an encapsulation of the show’s ethos – to fight when there’s something worth fighting for, even when loss is a certainty – but you can apply it to life too. As you’ve likely understood from the waffling above, I don’t think there’s any grand meaning for us all as a species. We’ve just evolved to an apparent higher level of understanding than other species, to the extent that we fight over oil, and argue over which scent of air freshener would go best in the car, and do Tik Toks while the rest of the animal kingdom thinks of shelter, food, surviving, and mating. The time is short, to quote another book. Find your own meaning, what gives you purpose, find others who willingly share in it. Start a podcast!

We get into the discussion on the music, with both guys saying that while the song takes a while to get started, the introduction is suitably atmospheric and fitting. Paul calls out the strength of the drums here, which I felt was one of the only downsides of the song, with Sanja saying the beat was like a heartbeat and the guitar was urgent. Paul says he rediscovered this song during the Podcast run, and that it’s a bit of a forgotten gem so far from where the band started. There’s definitely a lot of heart and soul in the song and in H’s performance. I’m surprised it’s underrated as it very quickly stood out to me. But this is my sort of thing.

Sanja and Paul both complement the lyrics and relate it to their recent experiences. That’s the power of good music and good writing. While a song can be personal, we can feel it. We can make it personal for ourselves. We all process music and lyrics in our own way. We all grieve in our own way. It’s always the same and it’s always different, whatever that means. We hear H’s description of the song, which is quite poetic but reminded me of those old cartoons about dead animals being sucked up to heaven in a certain slant of light. Because I always have to ruin something poignant with a silly joke. Bums!

Well, that episode and this post took many unexpected turns. Apologies if it comes across as crap on the screen – I’m much better having a drunken chat about this stuff rather than writing about it. Well, I wouldn’t say ‘better’. More that my spur of the moment ramblings are easily excused and absorbed vocally instead of written. If anyone wants to buy me a pint and hear me ramble, that would be nice. At the very least, drop a comment, go listen to the album and Podcast yerselves, and wait for Paul and Sanja’s Meat Loaf (sadly not Manics) Podcast which will be called Hot Pod Tootie. There’s a deep cut for ya.

Disney Songs – 101 Dalmatians

101 Dalmatians Original Soundtrack: Amazon.co.uk: CDs & Vinyl

Greetings, Glancers! This should be a short and sweet one for a change, as 101 Dalmatians isn’t exactly known for its music. It does still have a pretty famous song though, after one of its central characters. The film only has two other, brief, songs, and three were cut from the final movie. Hopefully I can find those. Lets get on with it.

‘Cruella De Vil’ is maybe the most famous song with a character’s name for its title. It’s short, it feels creepy for younger kids, and it is apt for one of the company’s more horrific creations. You’ll find it on any Disney Greatest Hits album, deservedly so.

‘Kanine Krunchies Jingle’ is a brief repetitive jingle – it shouldn’t really be classed as a song. It’s only a few seconds long, an advertisement heard in the background.

‘Dalmatian Plantation’ is another short one – it’s barely a song, more like an off the cuff idea the likes of which we all come up with in the shower. You won’t remember it.

‘Don’t Buy A Parrot From A Sailor’ is the first song cut from the movie. It’s a new one on me. It’s a bit Cockney, giving it the feel of a sitcom intro. Or something Ringo would have done. It also sounds a bit like The Family Ness theme song. It’s not very good, but at least it’s a legit complete song.

‘Cheerio goodbye toodle loo hip hip’ is another new one. It’s swift, brief, and silly. It’s the sort of quick song with a simple enough melody that you can imagine it fitting in well with the film and have idiots like me singing it on the train.

‘March of the one hundred and one’ is another very short one which commits one of the cardinal sins of music, by having kids sing. There’s not a lot to it and the melody is uneventful.

There you have it, told ya it would be quick. Do you have any favourites from this movie? Let us know in the comments!

I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House

31 Days of Horror #18 – I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (2016) – The Main Damie

Oz Perkins has four features to his name so far, this his second effort after the generally well received The Blackcoat’s Daughter. While I appreciated the atmosphere and look and idea of that film, I felt that it lacks scares, direction, and it failed to have the impact on me that it did on others. In I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House, I can essentially copy and paste those exact comments and be done with the review. I write more than is necessary though, so here we go.

The film has something of a dual narrative, but mostly follows the experiences of a live-in nurse who stays in a grand old house to attend to the palliative care of an elderly horror writer suffering from dementia. The nurse, Lily, is an odd one; prone to flights of fancy, talking to herself, and with an aversion to anything spooky. In haunted house fashion, strange things start happening. In horror movie fashion, the protagonist does nothing about it.

Meanwhile we learn that Iris, the writer, wrote a story about a man who murders his wife and buries her in the walls of the house. So far, so Poe. Iris refers to Lily by the name of the murdered wife, Lily begins to notice mould on one of the walls of the house, and… well, you see where this is going.

I’ve no idea if the movie was supposed to be so telegraphed or if the ending was intended to be a surprise. In any case, none of what happens is a surprise, even as details are drip-fed and we crawl backwards at the inevitable conclusion. I didn’t have issues with the glacial pace, but the lack of scares, of tension, and the abundance of emptiness suggests that the film would have been much more suited to being part of an anthology or a TV episode rather than a feature. It’s a story which will be familiar to every horror fan, and if it’s horror fans that the movie is targeted at then the lack of scares and pacing will likely frustrate.

As interesting as it was to see Paula Prentiss back on screen, Ruth Wilson is horribly miscast, the incessant mumbling and whispering becomes irritating very quickly, and by the time the 30 minute mark ticks around and you’ve worked out both the tricks and the conclusion of the story, you’ll spend the remaining time clock-watching. The initial gloss and beauty of the film is rotted by the director’s pretensions, the atmosphere set up for a tension between threat and loss acquiesces into monotony, and the early promise of an interesting setting and hope for a modern take on an old-fashioned ghost story fades as quickly as my interest in whatever Perkins does next.

Let us know in the comments what you think of I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House.

Nightman Listens To – Lil Baby – My Turn (2020 Series)!

Greetings, Glancers! I now anticipate that my reviews of the best albums of 2020 will be complete around 2030, with me posting roughly two each year. I know I’m slow, it’s just that I like jumping from thing to thing. Which isn’t great for anyone who’s following or anticipating any particular series. Forgiveness, please.

But I have a new one for you today! Some chump who made the decision to call himself ‘Lil Baby’. I can’t fucking stand anyone who puts ‘Lil’ in their name. Who does that? And there’s so many of them. Don’t. Don’t do that. It’s not cute. It’s not clever. It’s not anything beyond a guarantee that I’ll never listen to anything you make and ridicule you without any evidence to support what I’m saying, and I won’t even care.

In spite of the above biased nonsense, I am here today to listen to Lil Baby’s My Turn. As he so shrewdly predicted back when he wrote this album, it is now his turn to be heard and reviewed by me. It goes without any glimmer of hyperbole to say that me posting about him is the single most significant moment of his life thus far, and that everything will be downhill. In many ways he is fortunate to have the opportunity of gaining my attention for the briefest of moments, to have his turn. After all, my time is limited and there’s only so much music I can listen to. He may even gain a new fan.

At the time of writing, I know nothing about him. He may not even be a ‘he’. But I’m assuming he is. And I’m assuming this will be some sort of hip hop album, not a genre I pretend to be educated in. Outside of Public Enemy and Eminem and a bunch of random singles from the last 40 years, I know next to nothing. Maybe he’ll convert me. Maybe I’ll end up making a Youtube React channel – Metal Fan Reacts To Hip Hop – the opposite of all of that junk that’s already out there. Or maybe it’ll be crap and I’ll hate it, which seems more likely. By the time we jump to the next paragraph, I’ll have listened to the album several times.

Lil Baby: My Turn Album Review | Pitchfork

Before we get into the meat of the album, such as it is, let’s talk about that album artwork. To its credit, it doesn’t exactly scream Hip Hop. It looks like a classic piece of art, a pastoral piece depicting goats (lambs?) frolicking on rocks beside the sea. Except some modern dude has been pasted into the middle of it. Something to do with the old clashing with the new? The streets meeting the country? Escapism? Peace? It’s eye-catching. Good cover. None of what it conveys comes across in the album.

Lyrically, it could be cynically argued that it’s a checklist of Rap cliches, with opener Get Ugly covering all the bases; coming from the hood, being poor, hustling, getting rich, material goods, gold diggers, haters, name-dropping, mocking others for having less, etc. It’s embarrassing when someone who knows as little about the genre as I do could have guessed that each and every one of these would come up – and little else. It’s hard to latch on to or appreciate any themes when it’s all the same shtick we’ve heard a billion times. It’s difficult to care about any of it when every other rapper has been telling the same stories since day 1. There’s nothing new and nothing unique about how it’s written or delivered.

As limited as the range of subject matter is, the delivery is done with pace and skill. The guy seems talented to someone like me with little experience of the genre. It’s unfortunate that the voice, when not buried under auto-tune, is either whining or mumbling. It’s a far cry from the clarity and depth of Chuck D, the satirical vitriol of Eminem, or even the crisp, unavoidable delivery of Ice T, Tupac, or Dre. But those guys are from another era. Maybe this just how we do now.

On the less cynical side, I’m at least aware that Rap lyrics have plenty of poetic techniques which don’t really appear in other genres. I couldn’t tell you what they’re called or how to differentiate from them because when someone tries to explain them to me I usually fade to grey and start thinking about boobs instead. But I know they exist. Trying to read the lyrics off the screen doesn’t work like it does in a rock or pop song. The syntax is all ‘wrong’. Lines rhyme unconventionally, there’s heavy use of slang, possibly personal usage of, abbreviations of, and changes to existing slang, and plenty of what (in my slang) we would call Shleggin. Bitch, I ain’t ’bout to ‘splain that. If that’s what you’re in to, if you enjoy staying in your lane and not being challenged, then this is a perfectly apt and uninspiring effort.

We’re just going to have to live with Auto Tune at this point. I don’t instantly hate it. It’s another way to express yourself. But how is it being used here? Why make the decision to use it? It doesn’t seem like a creative decision. It seems more like following a crowd. It seems like you’re afraid of your own voice, like you don’t believe in your own talent or that you’re admitting your voice is crap, so you need to wrap it in digitized shrouds. How would it sound without Autotune? Prove me wrong. Have the balls to show yourself. I guarantee peope will respect you more for it. Rapping, singing, performing is a talent. Not everyone can do it. It’s exposing. If you’re going to be a performer, then be honest, be real, don’t hide.

Beyond the autotune, the vocals are monotone. Regular glancers will know I thrive on emotion and melody in music. I can tolerate a monotone, emotionless approach to vocals if the surrounding music is powerful, or if the lyrics have something vital to say. The lyrics are the same old shite, so we can check that off the list. The music on the other hand, is good. There are a lot of positives in the musical approach and the production. On a personal level the beats are too prominent. I get that most hip-hop fans will be looking for that beat and rank it higher than I would. As prominent as the beats are, they’re repetitive, feel cheap, and are the weakest part of the overall production.

The underlying music deserves better. It creates a sense of threat and paranoia. That darker vibe created by the faux orchestra does set the album aside from most hip-hop efforts I have heard. The best moments of the album are when the music is allowed to breathe, free of cheap beats, free of mumbling vocals. The vocals and autotune brings things down – autotune has a childish tag attached to it like stink. You can’t maintain threat or quality when you’re being childish. Your attempts at being serious are dismissed.

The whole album is very consistent, in tone, in quality. This has a downside – it’s an hour long. 20 tracks. There’s no need for the album to be this long. There’s a much stronger 12 track album in year. What would you cut? The songs are so interchangeable that it really wouldn’t matter – you wouldn’t lose anything by cutting any songs, and you’d be left with a more manageable, restrained whole. It just keeps going, song by song with little variance outside of a couple of more chilled songs or those with an interesting intro, such as Emotionally Scarred or the backing piano in Sum 2 Prove.

A fairly sorry effort then. We’ve heard it all before, from more talented people, from one hit wonder chart hacks, from the early 80s all the way through to today. It’s a poor reflection of today’s music and audiences if this is ranked as one of the best albums of the year. It’s an album with no surprises, nothing to say, nothing to hear, and little to recommend it. There’s an interesting approach to the music, but it’s clawed back by a litany of cliches and crowd-following platitudes that anything positive is picked clean off the bones.

SCORE

Sales: 4. There’s no escaping the success of the album, going 4 times platinum in the US. It was apparently ‘the most consumed album of 2020’ in the US too, whatever that means. Whether those sales last over time, we’ll see.

Chart: 4. It made to the top of the charts, twice, and stayed in the Top Ten for months. Around the world – less successful.

Critical: 4. Mostly positive, made many end of year lists, but plenty of vocal detractors too.

Originality: 2. I don’t think you can go higher than 3 here. Admittedly, I’m not an expert on the genre and maybe this did change the game. But rating it against other albums I have heard in the genre, it’s noticeably weaker on all accounts. I would give it a 1, but the music kicks it to a 2.

Influence: 2. No idea. I can’t imagine something so bland and unoriginal and similar to everything else would be very influential.

Musical Ability: 3. Sure.

Lyrics: 2. It’s the same crap we’ve heard in any chart friendly Hip Hop album ever.

Melody: 2. Vocally, it’s a 1. Musically, there are a few interesting moments and rhythms, but nothing you’re going to remember.

Emotion: 1. Any emotion is drowned out by the monotone and autotune approach.

Lastibility: 3. People who like this sort of thing will surely keep listening.

Vocals: 2. Not great. Objectively bad. Flow, is that what we call it? That’s fine, but outside of the rhythm of delivery, by any of the vocalists, it’s poor stuff.

Coherence: 3. The album holds together well. I could go 4 here, except there’s a minimum of five songs too many.

Mood: 2. A shorter album and a less monotone approach would have pushed this up. There’s the makings of a solid, ominous mood.

Production: 3. I would have gone 4 if not for the focus on and cheapness of the beats, and the repeated sticky keys noises.

Effort: 3. I’m sure everyone involved tried their lil hearts out.

Relationship: 1. How do I, as a white, 30 something male from Northern Ireland who grew up in a relatively affluent area of a literal warzone and ignored it all by listening to pop, rock, and metal music relate to this? Not at all.

Genre Relation: 4. For better or worse, it sounds like everything else.

Authenticity: 3. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. It all sounds wanky to me, but I’m sure he means it.

Personal: 1. One of the worst albums I’ve heard in my 2020 journey so far. Nothing here I’d choose to listen to again.

Miscellaneous: 2. It’s a nice piece of cover artwork.

Total: 51/100

Let us know in the comments what you think of My Turn!

Q The Winged Serpent – Get Rekt!

Rekt PNG Images, Free Transparent Rekt Download - KindPNG

Greetings, Glancers! Today I run a more critical eye over my tenth favourite movie of the year 1982, seeking to ignore my bias and provide a fair score based on the 20 criteria I feel are most important in the creation of a film. Today’s movie is Larry Cohen’s low budget Q: The Winged Serpent, Godzilla-esque tale of an ancient gargantuan creature looking for victims in New York City.

Sales: 3. I could be showing my bias with this one. I’m torn. It’s more realistically a 2, and some could even go with a 1. It only made back a quarter of its budget at release. But I have to think it’s made some money over the years thanks to TV replays, VHS, and DVD releases. Let’s just say I’m being very generous with a 3.

Critical Consensus: 3. I can afford to risk the 3 on this one. Contemporary critical response was average, more negatives than positives, but enough positives that it wasn’t completely dismissed. That consensus has improved over the years and it’s not seen as one of Cohen’s best movies.

Director: 3. Cohen has a lot of fun with quite a large playground – New York City. Lots of cool POV shots, Q is seen sporadically through the movie, the story flies by leaving its surprises till the end, and the satirical and topical material is not battering you in the face.

Performances: 3. When you have Michael Moriarty in a lead role, you know what you’re going to get. He’s a lot of fun, crazed, hamming it up, and alongside him you’ll find Richard Roundtree, David Carradine, and Candy Clarke enjoying themselves.

Characters: 3. Three is the ceiling here, and it only reaches there because of Moriarty’s scheming Jimmy Quinn who tries to use the monster’s appearance to make him rich. Elsewhere it’s just cops and gals and victims.

Cinematography: 3. It’s all about the sweeping shots of the NYC skyline and streets below. There’s something about the 70s to 80s shooting of US cities which is so appealing to me. Maybe it’s because I had not experienced anything like it, coming from a small Country. Maybe it’s because it’s such a clear and semi-modern vision of a time already lost. It looks better than a B movie with this plot has any right to.

Writing: 3. You know there’s going to be something underneath the story. Cohen always sets up an outlandish story so that he can talk about something else. In Q, he’s mocking the police and politics of the era, the various types of people you may find in NYC, and even B movies themselves. It’s not his most acerbic writing, he’s having fun. As such, the dialogue is light and campy.

Plot: 3. It’s a film about a giant flying monster attacking modern day New York. It’s also a Detective story. It’s also a story about a small-time crook trying to exploit a unique situation for himself. It turns out the monster is also an ancient, resurrected God being brought back by a whack job. If any of that appeals to you, this is likely a 3 score for you.

Wardrobe: 3. Nothing of note.

Editing: 3. All good.

Make up and Hair: 3. Nothing of note.

Effects: 3. It’s difficult to be objective with this one, so I’ll go right down the middle. In terms of modern-day effects, it’s crap. Even for 1982… not that great. But it’s a much lower budget film than those of the era which did look better, and the creature design is cool. Until the climax, most of the effects work is fleeting and hidden, the eggs and babies are neat, and I always enjoy stop motion. It’s a 2 or a 3, unless you’re being extremely harsh.

Art and Set: 3. Cool use of the rooftop scenes and everything within the Chrysler building set, doubling as Q’s den.

Sound And Music: 3. Lots of nice, guttural roars and beasty sounds and the soundtrack is serviceable if forgettable. Lots of creepy crawly violins – standard horror stuff.

Cultural Significance: 2. It had an impact on me and likely many other little horror nerds like me who saw the movie young. But unless those guys went on to make other movies, Q’s impact is minimal. Even in the B-movie, Monster Movie, and Larry Cohen movie world, it’s hardly the most famous, notable, or culturally significant.

Accomplishment: 3. Shooting anything in NY, or in general, is difficult – even more difficult with a small budget. But Cohen pulled together a strong cast and managed to make a cult film which a lot of people have a great degree of fondness for.

Stunts: 3. There’s plenty of action towards the end, but it’s nothing you won’t have seen before. A 2 or 3.

Originality: 3. Another 2 or 3. Giant monsters rampaging in New York isn’t original, but the monster itself and the other nuggets Cohen spices up the stories with are enough to push it into a curio bucket rather than the mainstream.

Miscellaneous: 3. If there’s nothing worth mentioning here, I go with a 3. It’s a little sneaky, but what are you gonna do?

Personal: 4. I’d be tempted to go 5 because I always have a fun time when I watch this. But there are other stop-motion and monster movies I enjoy more which I reserve a 5 for.

Total Score: 60/100

Let us know your score in the comments!

1983 Academy Awards – An Introduction

56th Academy Awards - Wikipedia

The 56th Academy Awards was brought to us by Johnny Carson and saw Awards presented by the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Keaton, Jennifer Beals, and Sissy Spacek. Performances this year came from Herb Alpert, Irene Cara, Donna Summer and others.

The big winners this year were Terms Of Endearment, Fanny And Alexander, and The Right Stuff, while Hal Roach, M.J.Frankovich, and Return Of The Jedi won Honorary Awards.

To find out which films of 1983 score big with me, stay tuned over the next few weeks and be sure to leave your thoughts and comments!