Best Original Song – 1970

Official Nominations: For All We Know – Lovers And Other Strangers. Whistling Away The Dark – Darling Lili. Till Love Touches Your Life – Madron. Pieces of Dreams – Pieces Of Dreams. Thank You Very Much – Scrooge.

The official winner of 1970, For All We Know, is known more popularly thanks to The Carpenters’ version, but Larry Meredith’s original is just as lovely. Whistling Away The Dark is a vain attempt to keep the old Hollywood Musical tradition alive – it actually isn’t too bad a song and keeps the whining of old at bay – it’s melancholy and tearfully hopeful, haunting but doesn’t quite hit all the marks for me. Till Love Touches Your Life is a bizarre song for a fairly average Western, a song with a sprinting guitar line and with strings and vocals which swell as the song progresses. Many big voice vocalists have covered this one as it lends itself to huge gulps of air. Pieces Of Dreams has been a difficult one to nail down as so many people have covered it – it’s an okay song crafted by Michel Legrand but nothing special. Thank You Very Much is another average one, lyrics better than the music as it’s all about Scrooge being dead while he thinks he is being praised.

My Winner: For All We Know – Lovers And Other Strangers.

My Nominations: Something In The Air – The Magic Christian. Ev’rybody Wants To Be A Cat – The Aristocats. You Don’t Know What’s Going On – Joe. Suicide Is Painless – MASH. Crumbling Land – Zabriskie Point.

I have picked five different songs from five films separate from the official picks. Thunderclap Newman’s Something In The Air is a bit of a cheat as it wasn’t expressly written for any movie, but it features so heavily in The Magic Christian that it feels like it was written for the movie. Everybody Wants To Be A Cat starts slowly but features a breathless, barnstorming finish. You Don’t Know What’s Going On feels exactly like the sort of song that The Academy would nominate – it has an unusual, interesting flavour which hadn’t really been seen in movies before. Exuma’s performance is tribal and powerful, and the chorus is infectious. Suicide Is Painless (even though the Manic Street Preachers version is superior) is a haunting, tuneful, soulful ballad, and it’s a mystery why it wasn’t nominated. Say what you will about Zabriskie Point, but it has a pretty good soundtrack, with Crumbling Land being maybe the most interesting – a unique foray into Country music by Pink Floyd. It feels more like a typical late sixties folk song to be honest, but its strange rhythms and vocals make it memorable.

My Winner: Suicide Is Painless – MASH

Let us know in the comments which song of 1970 you would pick!

Chart Music Through The Years: 1977

Yes! Back thanks to an almost universal lack of demand, I stretch back the scalp of time and feast upon the mushy innards of the past – in this instance I return to the UK music charts. If you’re interested, you can read my original post here – https://carlosnightman.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/the-uk-top-40/

untitled.png

Duh duh duh duhhh/daaah/do do do dooooh/doooh/do do do dooooh/doood/duh duh da duuuh! That’s right, it’s the year of Figrin D’an, Doctor Cornelius Evazan, Jek Tono Porkins and all their buddies from memorable Space Saga Star Warriors! Everyone was humming along to the theme tune by John Williams and quoting their favourite quotes – ‘Luke, put down that Ewok and get over here and EAT YOUR PEAS’ is of course the one everyone remembers to this day. Unfortunately, I was seemingly neither alive nor conceived in 1977, and as such my memories of the year are entirely fabricated or borrowed. Did it even happen? We may never know.

As I can’t possibly comment on what I was doing in 1977 without creating a confusing paradox that not even Year 2977 version of me would understand, I’ll have to rely on other avenues to share with you what was happening in the year between 1978 and that other one. According to websites, 1977 was one of the most important years of computer development, seeing both the Commodore PET being unleashed and fruit based overlords Apple Computers being ‘incorporated’. Roots reminded us that slavery was wrong, Morph began his squishy stop-motion animation antics, the Tenerife disaster seeing two airplanes colliding became the worst disaster in aviation history, and Spain put Franco behind them. In the music world it was a year of massive highs and lows; Elvis died, along with three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marc Bolan, Bing Crosby, and Charlie Chaplin. The Bee Gees released the biggest selling album of all time up to that point in Saturday Night Fever, Led Zeppelin embarked on a farewell US Tour, The Sex Pistols released their only studio album, and Studio 54 opened its doors. But what of the charts? Let your eyes slip out of their sockets and down the screen if you wish to see my thoughts.

1. David Soul: Silver Lady

Looking at this top 10, there are only four entries I recognise, including a twist on the duh duh duh duuuhh duuuh! David Soul is mostly remembered by me for sliding over car bonnets and killing vampires. He seems to have had a singing career too. Lets have a listen. A groovy introduction. Disco was of course hitting its peak around this time, so everyone wanted a slice, even Vampire Slayers. There’s also a country and rock and motown twist, so it’s all a little unusual. Soul’s vocal talents fall apart in the chorus as the backing singers drown him out entirely. I like the verses though, interesting lyrics and a whole bunch of instruments thrown in – nice changes in melodies too, going back and forth between major and minor. A decent song I’ve never heard before.

2. La Belle Epoque: Black Is Black

I’ll assume this has nothing to do with Public Enemy. Ah right, it’s Black is Black, not Black is Back. Disco throbbing. Like farts in a bath. Actually, more like lowering your ass into the water in the toilet, and then farting. Multi voices. Unnecessary ‘wooo!’. Fast paced and funky, but it sounds like pretty generic Disco stuff. Still, it’s not bad. It is cheesy and horribly dated, mostly due to the vocals. Bizarre drum and synth breakdown in the middle. Quite a long one this. Apparently it’s a cover. Disastrous spoken part. Maybe the original is good as there are good moments here, hidden under a series of unfortunate decisions.

3. Baccarra: Yes Sir I Can Boogie

Right, three disco songs in a row? This is serious. It was truly a plague and as much as Punk was trying to make an impact, it was never going to seriously impact the charts. Anyway, I know this one, doesn’t everyone? It opens like some simpering ballad, turns into a breathy orgasm, leading into verses with ‘ha ha, listen to their accents’ singing. I never noticed the accents before, I thought they were just putting it on in the chorus, not that I’d paid any attention. It’s a strange one, with talky verses, and a catchy chorus. The lyrics are a complete nonsense. I’d always just assumed this one was okay, but it’s actually pretty bad. I mean the chorus is fine, but it’s so ridiculous and cheesy that I’m almost embarrassed for it. Don’t point at it, just tell it to go away.

4. Rod Stewart: You’re In My Heart

Rodney Stewart – rock music for women who neither understand nor like rock music. I didn’t recognise this from the name, but I have heard it before. It’s your typical light ballad aimed at dropping pants as much as making moneys, but it doesn’t come alive until the chorus. It hardly stretches Rodney’s vocals, and it doesn’t stretch anyone’s intelligence. It does have some weird violin stuff going on and the chorus is fine, but there’s an awful lot of crap in there too.

5. Danny Mirror: I Remember Elvis Presley.

There’s obvious cash-ins, and then there’s this. Elvis, one of the most famous people to have ever lived, was only dead a matter of moments before this catastrophe was shat onto the airwaves. What a stupid fucking title. Who the hell is Danny Mirror? He appears to be doing an impression of Elvis, and I can’t quite tell if this some sick joke or an extremely misguided dedication. Written to sound like a half-assed Elvis ballad, it’s lyrics are a mixture of Elvis name-checks and the sort of thing you say at a funeral for the pet budgie. I cannot fathom how this was ever allowed to be, never mind how it made it into the charts. People are morons. That is the only reason for this mistake’s existence. It may have made more sense five or ten years later, but only marginally.

6. The Emotions: Best Of My Life

Aah right. I know this one. Yes it’s more Disco, but this seems to have more of a touch of class to it. The vocals are vastly superior to anything else we’ve heard on today’s list, but the verses are directionless. Famous chorus though, it’s good, but not great. It’s short and to the point too.

7. Meco: Star Wars Theme

Right, I’ve been dreading this. Star Wars is one of my favourite movie series ever, and has some of my favourite music ever. Someone had the bright idea of going ‘this thing is popular, and this thing over here is popular too, so maybe if they fuck, there will be born an uber-popular!’ They were right, but they were also so so wrong. If you’ve heard literally any Disco song, and if you’ve heard the Star Wars theme, then you don’t need to listen to this as it’s exactly as you’re imagining now. Except it has added blaster noises.

8. The Stranglers: No More Heroes

Another one that I recognised immediately from looking at the list, this one manages to merge punk with some strange not-Disco synth noises. Good song, nifty solo in the middle, and as much as the synth does its hardest to distract and take over, it all blends together well. That post-solo rambling reminds me of similar work by The Doors, but even more manic.

9. Ram Jam: Black Betty

Of course I knew this from seeing the name, it’s one that still got regular plays at the rock clubs I used to frequent. I wasn’t a huge fan of it, but I still liked it – just not as much as most others seemed to. In that sense it hasn’t really aged, still has a timeless classic rock feel to it, and will continue to get revellers on their feet thanks to the incessant beat. It’s funky, catchy, and has plenty of interesting breakdowns. I believe most of the time this was played in clubs though, much of the guitar solo and weird drums parts were edited out leaving basically only ‘woah black betty, bam a lam’ for two minutes.

10. Elvis Presley: Way Down

With my rant above you’d maybe assume I’m some big Elvis geek. I’m not – at the time of writing I’ve never heard a single Elvis album, and I only know the obvious big hits. I’ve never gone out of my way to listen to anything else by him. I don’t recognise the name of this song, but I may know it once I hit play. Apparently this was the last song he released before his death. It starts out with a Disco flavour, and a little bit of Country guitar and honkey-tonk going on – basically an Elvis song influenced by Disco. We get Gospel backing vocals in the chorus. There’s some way down vocals going on too. Nothing too exciting for me here, but an okay foot-tapper.

A fairly accurate representation of 1977 then – Disco, Elvis, a little bit of punk, and more Disco. There are other genres not represented here of course, and there were a whole host of classic albums released in 1977 which have little in common with anything on this list – Low (David Bowie), Animals (Pink Floyd), Rumours (Fleetwood Mac),  The Idiot and Lust For Life (Iggy Pop), The Clash, Exodus (Bob Marley And The Wailers), Motorhead, Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols, Bat Out of Hell (Meat Loaf), and more. With that in mind, I now present my stunning list of an alternative Top 10 songs from 1977 which you should probably listen to. Now.

1. Dogs – Pink Floyd

2. Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac

3. White Riot – The Clash

4. My God – Alice Cooper

5. Jamming – Bob Marley And The Wailers

6. Lust For Life – Iggy Pop

7. ‘Heroes’ – David Bowie

8. You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth

9. God Save The Queen – The Sex Pistols

10. Spread Your Wings – Queen

What are your memories of 1977, music based or otherwise? Were you there? Do you wish you were? Let us know in the comments!

Amazon Vine Freebies – September 2016

So, you may have heard me bemoan September as the worst month ever. Most people go for January – it’s cold, wet, Santa has abandoned us for Tropical shores, etc. September though sees the beginning of the year’s descent into old age and senility as we leave the warmth and freedom behind to head back to school and work and all of that crap.

But Amazon decided to change things, for us lowly Viners at least. Yes, this month Amazon made the curious decision to lift the five item and thirty day limit. For those who don’t know, since the inception of Vine, participants have been required to review each item they choose within 30 days of its arrival – and have never been allowed to have more than 5 items not reviewed at a time. Those days are gone my friend, and as such every no-self-respecting Viner has been picking every damn thing available. Well, not quite. There are those who continue to abuse the system by taking everything possible and flogging them on Ebay to make a tidy sum, but they are being casually weeded out by Amazon and the odd entitled Viner. For me, I have continued to pick the items I want and continued to use and review them, though now I am more flexible in what I choose – resulting in a wealth of gift sets and stationary arriving at my door. Have a gander at what I picked in September:

Wahl Li Beard Trimmer

Chun’s brother.

Nivea Sensitive Gift Set for Men’s – 2 Pieces

Your brother.

Rapesco Hole Punch and Stapler Set with 1,000 10/4mm Staples

Your Puncher

ACE Breathalyzer AF-33, TU-Vienna-measurement accuracy: 97.9%, UK-Version

Your Honour.

AmazonBasics Microfibre Flat Sheet, King – Olive

Your Other (woman)

MIRALBA Women’s Jasmine Cashmere Jumper, Black, Small

Your Mother

Joseph Joseph The Entertainer Pizza Wheel and Waiter’s Friend Gift Set – Multi-Colour, 2-Piece

Your Technicolour

Silentnight Brushed Cotton Fitted Sheet Set, White, Double

Your Other Other (woman)

Nightman Listens To Bon Jovi – Destination Anywhere!

616atwbakrL.jpg

Greetings, Glancers! We continue our mini-detour from Bon Jovi’s main releases to see what their front man was getting up to in his spare time. Last time around we listened to Jon strap on his boots and go bareback through the South, living out his Wild West fantasies. With 1997’s Destination Anywhere, the musical landscape had changed and the main band had matured. Will his second solo effort also highlight these changes or will it be a self-serving piece of masturbation? I definitely know (and like) a couple of these songs already, and hopefully there are some new ones which I’ll get into.

‘Queen Of New Orleans’ – Good intro, a clearly late 90s rock sound. Oddly deep vocals. Verse is plain, the chorus is too tame and the vocals don’t work. Mostly boring but a different pace and approach from what we know, it does veer way too close to a lot of those soft rock bands of the era who each had one hit then disappeared.

‘Janie, Don’t You Take Your Love To Town’ – This is one I’ve always liked. It feels like a Bon Jovi song, but it has that mid-late 90s drum sound. Unlike the first track, this one has good verses and a crowd-pleasing chorus. It may be formulaic, but we don’t come into an album like this expecting it to break ground. I’d never actually heard the full version of this before – the single works just as well.

‘Midnight In Chelsea’ – There’s that beat again, except this time it sounds like some RnB fluff. I’m not sure what audience Jon was going after with these songs – it would alienate his core crowd and the people who listen to generic chart fluff aren’t going to be interested in hearing some old white guy do it. Still, this is better than the first song, lyrics seem okay, and the chorus has potential. It doesn’t quite paint the picture of America that he wants it to, but it’s fine – the chorus is a grower, but it goes on for a minute too long.

‘Ugly’ – Hmm, that riff seems familiar. Maybe I have heard this one before. Yeah, it’s one of those songs. We’re all ugly sometimes, except some of us are more often than others. And we’re all in different environments which mean different outcomes to feeling or being u-g-l-y. Still, it’s fine, average or slightly better.

‘Staring At Your Window With A Suitcase In My Hand’ – Experimental country. I like the verses. They are nothing new, we’ve heard this stuff by Bon Jovi and other bands before. As you know by know, I’m a sucker for those atmospheric, shadowy songs – this doesn’t quite fall into that category, but it’s close. Again it’s just okay – nothing bad, nothing really good, just ordinary.

‘Every Word Was A Piece Of My Heart’ – Odd vocals. Gruff but low. Ordinary verse, decent bridge and chorus, but lacking those extra pieces to push it over into the good song territory. These songs are simply too samey and forgettable at the moment. Weird middle vocals and solo.

‘It’s Just Me’ – Madonna drums. More weird vocals. Ordinary verses, reflective lyrics, decent bridge, average chorus. You know the drill by now, and unless the album picks up in the second half it’s going to be a very forgettable experience. Hmm, this one just keeps going doesn’t it? Solo flapping to end.

‘Destination Anywhere’ – A more respectable one all around this is. It has the same weird not quite country sound as other songs on the album. The verses are fine but luckily the chorus does the trick, even if it does come from nowhere and doesn’t connect well with any other part of the song.

‘Learning How To Fall’ – More drum loops. This all seems ill-advised. More low. Some harmonica. Plain verse. Brief bridge. Plain chorus. Next.

‘Naked’ – Funky. This one at least is different. I imagine this is more like the sound he wanted to go with for the album, but it still feels like a lot of those other one-hit wonders of the era. ‘You can’t fake it when you’re naked?’ I don’t know about that…

‘Little City’ – More drum bits and bobs. Better guitar. Better vocals. It has the atmosphere and the shadows. Verses are okay, if it can pull off a good chorus then this could be a hidden gem. Eventually we reach a ‘sha la la la’ piece. It almost makes it but stays tantalizingly out of reach of true goodness. Ah well. Then it tacks on a minute of crap to the end.

‘August 7 4.15’ – Hmm, this seems more like it. Faster tempo, Springsteen vocals, catchy bits. Verses and bridges better than the chorus. Still, that’s two better songs near the end, but still not enough to save this from being a sleepy time record for sleepy sleep sleeps.

‘Cold Hard Heart’ – Closing with a ballad then. Or, something slower at least as this seems too downbeat to be a ballad. This is actually much better than almost anything else on the album, that is obvious from the opening minute. Good verses and great chorus. Three good songs to close – add a couple of the singles and you would have a pretty good EP.

That’s that then. An unfulfilling bore in all honesty. Points for trying to be different, but points removed for not fully committing to it and making something interesting. There are maybe only 4-5 decent songs here, the rest are filler and belong as B-Sides or on the studio floor. Tell me I’m wrong in the comments! Next up, the boys reunite and unleash Crush!

Death Wish 2

death-wish-2-1982

While Clint Eastwood starred in a bunch of violent action and crime thrillers throughout the 70s and 80s, he made enough equally successful films in different genres to ensure he had plenty of other options. The success of Death Wish meant there would inevitably be a sequel and Charles Bronson got sucked into this world for much of the rest of his career, playing tough guys who take the law into their own hands (with the notable exception of The Indian Runner). Death Wish II is neither as bad as you think it’s going to be nor any different from what you would expect. What?

Bronson returns as Paul Kersey, still recovering from the events of the first movie. He has moved with his daughter to LA and has a relationship with a new lady friend. On a routine day trip, Kersey has his wallet stolen. Chasing down one of the perps (and getting a good look at him) he decides to count his losses and let go. The crooks of course have other ideas, needlessly deciding to go to Paul’s home to loot and rape some more. His daughter is kidnapped, his maid is killed, and he is left for dead. Carol (Paul’s daughter) is plucky and manages to escape, only to dive out a window and impale herself on a fence – woopsy.

Kersey goes on another rampage, tracking down the gang members one by one and sending them to hell on the back of a bullet. There’s a sub-plot about the cops in LA and NY getting together to decide what to do about Kersey but it’s not overly important. The cops aren’t made to look 100% incompetent, but still this is a movie about personal vengeance and not letting the man get in you way. Kersey doesn’t come across as a soulless killer or some unstoppable machine – he’s just a guy with a gun and a plan. My main issue with the movie isn’t the violence or the cloudy message, it’s more the motive and the emotional side of things. I get that you want revenge when someone you love is killed, but Bronson doesn’t seem that phased by it. I get that this is supposed to be a macho movie with blood and snarls and no tears, but a little more emotion wouldn’t go amiss.

But then it wouldn’t really be the same movie, would it? Charles Bronson weeping over the body of his child, shrieking at the heavens for forsaking him. Twice!? All we want to see here are bad guys getting slaughtered, no questions asked, no remorse, and that’s what we get. Bronson does what he does, working his way through petty scumbags like Lawrence Fishburne and Thomas Duffy, and getting a few knocks along the way. Jill Ireland is there for the glam purposes, and everything looks authentically seedy. Some parts appear to be a little too glamourized for their own good, but that’s another grey area. Then there’s the soundtrack. As big a Led Zep and Jimmy page fan as I am, the soundtrack is mostly a mess. I’d heard the soundtrack long before I’d seen the movie and… well, I don’t have much to say about it to be honest – as my dad would say ‘it’s just noise’.

So, Death Wish II. It is exactly what you think it is – if you like that sort of thing there’s no reason why you wouldn’t enjoy this. If that’s not your sort of thing, then stay away. It isn’t Bronson or Winner’s finest hour but it’s still a perfectly fine, well enough made revenge thriller. Let us know in the comments what you think of the movie and the series as a whole.

Best Director – 1970

Official Nominations: Franklin J Schaffner. Robert Altman. Federico Fellini. Arthur Hiller. Ken Russell.

Schaffner picked up the win for Patton this year – one of the most legendary biopics of all time. We all know The Academy loves biopics, good or bad, but this at least is one of the best. While Scott gets the plaudits nowadays, Schaffner keeps in control of the epic scope and of course it was his decision to memorably open with Patton’s speech. Robert Altman made Brewster McCloud this year, but when you also make MASH in the same year, only one of those is going to be remembered. Another war film with a large scope and cast, it is different from Patton in many ways, but Altman is able to leave his stamp on the film. Fellini gets a nomination for Satyricon a year after it was release in Europe, Ken Russell gets the same for Women In Love, while Arthur Hiller has a nomination handed to him by virtue of how successful Love Story was. If we drop Hiller from the list, it’s a tough toss-up between the remaining directors. We can drop Fellini and Russell simply because their movies came out the previous year – Women In Love also receives further official nominations this year. That leaves our two war films.

My Winner: Robert Altman.

image

My Nominations: Franklin J Schaffner. Robert Altman. George Seaton. William Freidkin. Mike Nichols. Jean Pierre Melville. Bernardo Bertolucci. Bob Rafelson. John Huston.

I’m removing Ken Russell and Fellini from my list, partly because their movies were released in previous years and so that I can free up some more space. Seaton and Rafelson get nominations for two movies which were heavily nominated elsewhere but missed out here – Airport and Five Easy Pieces respectively. Freidkin takes controversial subject matter off the stage and onto film, again proving how adept he was at adapting theatrical work, getting the maximum power from scenes filmed in essentially small spaces. Mike Nichols took his first hit with Catch-22 – a film released at the wrong time when Patton and MASH grabbed the limelight, but it’s an adaptation worth re-visiting. John Huston returned to the world of spies with the altogether more serious film The Kremlin Letter, a stark and dense vision of a twisting world. We continue to move away from the US for my final nominations – to France for Melville’s La Cercle Rouge, another heavily stylized thriller, probably overlong, but which build’s to one of cinema’s finest heist scenes. To Italy finally for The Conformist as Bertolucci extravagantly shows us one man’s journey through life in a turbulent time, crafting a visual treat unlike anything else released in 1970.

My Winner: Bernardo Bertolucci.

the-conformist-3.png

Let us know in the comments who you pick as the Best Director of 1970!