Nightman Listens To – The Style Council – Our Favourite Shop (Top 1000 Series)!

When I started writing this series of Listens To! posts, my idea was to:

A: Listen to the tonnes of albums I have acquired over the years that I hadn’t bothered to actually listen to yet and give my thoughts as I listened for the first time.

B: Catch up on those artists that I was aware of/liked certain songs by, but whose albums I had never listened to in their entirety.

C: Potentially get some new favourites based off what I heard or by recommendations from my billions of readers.

D: Because there are a tonne of albums which always appear on best of lists which I have never heard.

As a musician, music fan, and human with working ears, I feel that I should give these a go. To get some focus, I decided to go to 2000 Edition of ‘Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums’ because it looks fairly comprehensive (and there are a few extra sections listing top 100 albums by genre which cover selections left out of the main 1000 which I will also try to cover).

When I started writing this series of Listens To! posts, my idea was to:

A: Listen to the tonnes of albums I have acquired over the years that I hadn’t bothered to actually listen to yet and give my thoughts as I listened for the first time.

B: Catch up on those artists that I was aware of/liked certain songs by, but whose albums I had never listened to in their entirety.

C: Potentially get some new favourites based off what I heard or by recommendations from my billions of readers.

D: Because there are a tonne of albums which always appear on best of lists which I have never heard.

As a musician, music fan, and human with working ears, I feel that I should give these a go. To get some focus, I decided to go to 2000 Edition of ‘Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums’ because it looks fairly comprehensive (and there are a few extra sections listing top 100 albums by genre which cover selections left out of the main 1000 which I will also try to cover).

When I started writing this series of Listens To! posts, my idea was to:

A: Listen to the tonnes of albums I have acquired over the years that I hadn’t bothered to actually listen to yet and give my thoughts as I listened for the first time.

B: Catch up on those artists that I was aware of/liked certain songs by, but whose albums I had never listened to in their entirety.

C: Potentially get some new favourites based off what I heard or by recommendations from my billions of readers.

D: Because there are a tonne of albums which always appear on best of lists which I have never heard.

As a musician, music fan, and human with working ears, I feel that I should give these a go. To get some focus, I decided to go to 2000 Edition of ‘Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums’ because it looks fairly comprehensive (and there are a few extra sections listing top 100 albums by genre which cover selections left out of the main 1000 which I will also try to cover).

When I started writing this series of Listens To! posts, my idea was to:

A: Listen to the tonnes of albums I have acquired over the years that I hadn’t bothered to actually listen to yet and give my thoughts as I listened for the first time.

B: Catch up on those artists that I was aware of/liked certain songs by, but whose albums I had never listened to in their entirety.

C: Potentially get some new favourites based off what I heard or by recommendations from my billions of readers.

D: Because there are a tonne of albums which always appear on best of lists which I have never heard.

As a musician, music fan, and human with working ears, I feel that I should give these a go. To get some focus, I decided to go to 2000 Edition of ‘Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums’ because it looks fairly comprehensive (and there are a few extra sections listing top 100 albums by genre which cover selections left out of the main 1000 which I will also try to cover).

When

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Greetings, Glancers! Once more it’s time for me to broaden my horizons by listening to one of the greatest albums of all time. It’s fair to say that I haven’t been overwhelmed in my journey thus far – while there have been good moments, great moments, most of what I have listened to hasn’t been my cup of tea. Add to that fact the other fact that I hate tea. And coffee. Someone needs to ban that shit.

What Do I Know About The Style Council: Absolutely nothing. Although, something way back in the darkest recesses of my mind a little voice is squeaking ‘aren’t they one of those ‘orrible ska bands’. And oh crap, yeah, that does sound familiar. I have a vision of a pack of douches in hats playing ‘orrible ska. I really hope I’m wrong about this, because if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s ska. I’ve definitely heard the name, but I can’t connect the dots.

What Do I Know About Our Favourite Shop: They say never judge a book by its cover. When it comes to people, in many cases that metaphor is apt. When it comes to books, in most cases the metaphor is shit – if you don’t like the cover, you probably won’t like the book. When it comes to music, I find that if a band has a name, or if an album has a name that rubs me the wrong way, then nine times out of ten I won’t like said band or album. Having said all of that, this is a terrible name, or at least it’s one which does rub me the wrong way. Couple that with my ska concern, and not one part of any of this sounds promising. Oh God.

Homebreakers: Well, the second I visited youtube to listen to this, the game was up as I recognised Paul Weller. So that’s where I know the name from, suddenly it all fits. For the most part I like Paul Weller, in my limited listening of his work with The Jam, though sometimes he does veer awfully close to some of the ska punk bands…. Anyway… this opens with some Tube Station stuff. It’s a decent intro which suddenly becomes worrying when the brass comes in – brass equals Ska. I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I can count on a very few fingers the songs where brass is added that I’ve enjoyed. This is all quite funky, though it does feel very 80s. It’s certainly jazz infused, what with the horns and backing vocals – not a huge fan of the main vocal work or the melodies, but I could get used to the melding of styles.

All Gone Away: This for some reason reminds me of The Beautiful South – another of my most hated things. On the flip side it also reminds me stylistically and lyrically of Joni Mitchell, which is a much better thing. This is very… cute? I won’t go so far as calling it twee, but it’s nice, less depth than the first song musically, but I prefer the vocals and melodies. It could be the satirical intro to some twisted sitcom.

Come To Milton Keynes: I’d rather not. More organ, again which screams ska. There’s something lazy and sunny about the songs so far which keeps making me think of cheesy sitcoms or Caribbean beaches. The rhythm of the songs so far is very similar to each other which makes the vocals feel samey. There’s a nice middle section here to break things up, but I already know if this rhythm doesn’t change up in future songs I’ll get irritated before long. Now an unnecessary, but thankfully brief spoken part.

Internationalists: Great drum bombast gives way to funky guitar and stupid horns. A more hectic pace. Nifty guitar work in the middle. This is marginally more to my tastes. Still very 80s.

A Stones Throw Away: This starts wonderfully – give strings a chance to shine and I’ll be in love. This sounds familiar, actually – both reminding me of The Smiths, The Beatles, and making me question if I’ve heard it before. I am noticing the subtle and less subtle political lyrics. Great vocals this time, and the melodies blend with the strings. This was bloody fantastic.

The Stand Up Comic’s Instructions: They’re not going to, are they? Is that Lenny Henry? Yes. Talking, near rapping over some funky jazzy wank. Mostly this reminds me of The Wall. More political stuff. I’m surprised a bunch of idiots haven’t commented here calling this lefty PC Commie cuck agendist leftist crap. Yeah, idiots.

Boy Who Cried Wolf: This feels unusually sexy. A more straightforward pop song, and while I haven’t paid attention to the lyrics this time it sounds more like a love song of sorts. I can see the influence of this in a lot of later R’n’B. Mostly very nice.

A Man Of Great Promise: Church bells always depress me or put me on edge. A bunch of these songs make me think of another 80s band, but I can’t quite place it. Musically this is lovely again, not quite enough to make me seek it out again, but good enough for me to recommend it and not mind hearing it more. Lyrically it sounds like a dedication… I assume Paul’s not singing about himself.

Down In The Seine: Come on, I know I’ve heard this somewhere. I have no clue where, but this is definitely familiar. I’m still getting vibes of all the aforementioned bands. Now French vocals, now accordion. Good stuff again, the album getting stronger after a stumbling start.

The Lodgers: Ah, nice vocal intro. Breaks away into more 80s Floyd funk. Good lyrics, great rhythm, I like the vocals, the melodies. I could do without the organ.I’m even getting a Michael Jackson vibe here. I’d like to say this is superb, but purely personal preference holds me back from saying it. But it is very good. Thank God it’s not what I thought.

Luck: I don’t feel this one as much, though admittedly I was reading something about some Instagram bin-lid going on a racist rant about Martin Luther King while listening. This is quite poppy, what with all the vocal waverings going on. It’s fine, summery. This time it reminds me of both Phil Collins and Cartoone.

With Everything To Lose: Another merging the male and female vocals. Reminds me of Spanish holidays. That rhythm is back. This one’s just okay for me, not as strong as the ones I’ve called out as enjoying.

Our Favourite Shop: That sounds like one of the instruments I used to select on my dad’s old keyboard – like the keyboard version of a bass guitar. Still, it’s funky, there’s some funky organ, some sort of cowbell, piano, and… is this all an instrumental? You probably know my feelings on instrumentals – they have to be truly exceptional or exceedingly hooky to get me listening more than a few times. This is neither, but it ain’t ‘alf bad, guv. Pretty ballsy to name your album after an instrumental track, I guess.

Walls Come Tumbling Down!: I feel like this would have worked better if it had properly merged with the song before. Bowie vocals. Lady vocals too. Full disclosure. It’s a few weeks between listening to this song and listening to the previous tracks and this feels very similar to one I’ve already heard. Nevertheless, I like it well enough and wouldn’t switch channel or song if it came on. Can’t say I’d go searching for it though.

What Did I Learn: That The Style Council is not a Ska band and features Paul Weller. That I liked it more than I thought I would. That judging a book by its cover, or a band by their name is perfectly acceptable – as long as you have a few other facts to help.

Does It Deserve To Be In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: I liked it more often than not, but that’s not nearly enough for me to say it deserves a spot. I can tell at a high level it had an influence on later groups, but those groups would tend to be ones I don’t like or listen to much. I can’t give any good reason why it shouldn’t be included, so I fall on a maybe for this one.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 706/1000

Let us know in the comments what you thought of The Style Council’s ‘Our Favourite Shop’ and if it’s in your list of favourites!

My Blog – June 2019

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It’s almost Summer, yay! For me, that doesn’t mean better weather because we remain in a yearly/monthly/daily state of grey, but for most people you get to head to the beach or eat ice cream naked or whack on the AC and take another few years off the planet’s future. But sure, it’s all good fun. It’s the time to take a break, to finish off your exams and give the middle finger to another year of school, and plan for an ill-advised holiday romance or finally get around to painting that damn fence. In Northern Ireland, we’re almost into what is referred to as ‘The Marching Season’. That means that a bunch of idiots take it upon themselves to essentially shut down every city, town, and village so that they can don ridiculous outfits, get pissed, and march through the streets beating drums and playing music that nobody has ever wanted to hear at apocalyptic levels of volume. Why? Tradition. And if anyone dares take it away from us – families, kids, schools, politicians, cops, military, then by God we are gonna to fuck shit up for the next three months, set fire to every shop or car within five miles, before complaining about foreigners taking our jobs or something. Why? Tradition.

I say ‘we’, but naturally I don’t include myself in such activities. Today’s post isn’t a lesson about the dumb tribalism and bullshit patriotism which diseases this patch of earth we just happened to have been born on, no, but I did intend today’s post to be some sort of cultural brochure. If there’s one thing we’re good at here, aside from needless murder and carnage, it’s self-deprecating humour. And so, I found some things on the internet which range from ‘sort of funny to me’, to ‘meh’, but maybe they’ll be interesting to people unfamiliar with or interested in Northern Ireland. I’ve no idea who wrote the list originally as it has been shared thousands of times in the past ten years. Now, there was 60 of these things, so I’m only going to post the first 20 and add my thoughts in red below each, sort of as an explanation. Have a read, and if anything is weird or if you want to ask me anything, I’m always lurking in the comments. Enjoy!

You know your from Belfast when …….

1. You’re never cold but sometimes Baltic.

Yes, everyone uses this term – ‘it’s fuckin Baltic today’. Not me though.

2. The sight of 12-year-olds smoking is normal.

I smoked when I was 12 – isn’t this normal elsewhere?

3. Castle Court – the traditional and best – is well better than that Victoria Square place.

Castle Court is a tiny shopping mall in Belfast City Centre. It is filled with Chav scum, steeks, and millbags. Victoria Square is a more upmarket and newer tiny shopping mall in the City Centre. It used to have a place to buy DVDs, but doesn’t anymore, so there is no reason for me to use it, other than as a shortcut to get to somewhere else. 

4. You have owned a pair of Nike Air Max at some stage.

Can’t say I have.

5. You will fight anyone who claims Callum Best’s Da wasn’t the best footballer EVER.

I will fight anyone who claims he wasn’t an abusive drunk and played for the scum.

6. You’re passionate about an English or Scottish football team.

English yes, couldn’t care less about Scottish football (people in Northern Ireland traditionally only support Rangers (Protestant) or Celtic (Catholic). Northern Irish football is atrocious and I have no idea what the South is like. Scottish is like 2nd Division English. 

7. You know what real rain is like.

I assume ‘real rain’ is something Belfast people say, but I’ve never heard it.

8. You think if you can’t see the Harland and Wolff cranes from your bedroom window you’re a culchie.

A culchie is a farmer/someone who lives in the countryside/someone who doesn’t live in Belfast. Harland and Wolff cranes are two huge yellow cranes you can see from basically anywhere in Belfast. They were not used in the building of The Titanic. 

9. You remember when it was OK to smoke (anything) in the KFC in Corn Market.

Or any of the KFCs.

10. So it is

Nobody says ‘top of the morning’ or ‘begorah’ or any muck like that. Everyone says ‘so it is’. Not me though, I had an education.

11. You know what the word Ball root means.

We have many wonderful and colourful insults. This is one.

12. You use the word ‘sweet’ and ‘powerful’ as a substitute for almost any adjective.

Yes, you hear these most days. Powerful not so much, that always seemed like an auld boy or culchie thing to me.

13. You are a half decent pool player and know your way around a snooker table.

This is true. 

14. You know what the words ‘space-cadet’ and ‘rocket’ really mean.

More insults. Except ‘rocket’ is usually pronounced ‘racket’.

15. Your friends still call you by your childhood nickname.

Yes, depending on when I knew the friend, if I see them today they will use that specific nickname. And so will I.

16. You cringe when you hear someone from your city speak on national TV.

Definitely. Our accents can be horrific. I quite like mine though.

17. You been told wha’ at least once in your life.

Ha ha. Ha. 

18. You know at least one person called Mackers.

Yes. Yes I do.

19. Ballycastle is your most frequented holiday destination.

See, I never got this. Why would you go to Ballycastle when Portrush is close by? Then again, I rarely went to either as we had Kilkeel. Which is worse than both. I live near Ballycastle now. 

20. Your Granny had a framed picture of the Pope or the Queen in the living room but not both.

No, none of my grandparents had this. Must be a Belfast thing.

Now you know a little more about Belfast and its people. Feel free to comment!

*Note – I wrote this post in January, well in advance of publishing. I had to stick that pic on at the top in place of the usual general blogging pic. YNWA!

Nightman’s Favourite Songs Of All Time – Everlasting Love – Love Affair

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One of my Glastonbury snaps from 2003

Greetings, Glancers! This song is marvelous. I’d forgotten about for a long time… forgotten isn’t the correct word – more like I hadn’t thought about it for years. In most of these posts I talk about my memories of the songs as they tend to have some special nostalgia or anchor in space and time. Unusually, I have no idea when I first heard Everlasting Love and I can’t think of any nostalgia surrounding it. I remember it from my childhood, but I remember millions of songs from then too. It’s just so good that when I listened to it again out of the blue, its quality knocked me over.

This is one of those songs which has been covered, successfully, a billion times. The version I’m talking about most is by Love Affair. When I first heard the song again recently, I couldn’t have told you who it was by, and when I watched the Love Affair video online I was confused as it seemed like a very recent video. Like maybe from the 80s or 90s, but with an HD makeover to make it look even more modern. But no, this version, and the video, are from 1968. I still don’t understand this. Seriously, watch this video and tell me it’s from 1968 and not from today. On closer inspection, some of the hair and clothes and dances tell you it’s from the 60s, but so much of it feels ultra-modern. The music and the look hasn’t aged a second. What adds to the weirdness is that the singer looks about 14 years old, yet has the voice of a seasoned blues rocker.

The song was originally written and released in 1967, the first performer being Robert Knight, yet the most successful version in the US was by Carl Carlton seven years later. Both these versions are good, but they lack something special – probably the fact that I’m more familiar with the Love Affair one. There’s a terrible version by Sandra in the 80s – quite a lot of cheesy pop versions in the 80s in fact, Gloria Estefan did one, and a bunch of boy bands and pop stars have since done their own thing with it, with diminishing returns. What stands out is the melody and the earnest message. It’s one of a very select group of songs which came from the 60s and has been re-recorded with financial and critical success in every decade since. Still, the Love Affair one tops them all.

What’s so good about it? I love the ever so slight subversion of the verse chorus format – here the song extends the verse without reaching the chorus (I say extended, but we still hit the chorus inside the first minute) and then, with no fucks given, just sticks with the chorus for the entirety of the song. With a chorus like this, you can understand why they keep it. The chorus acts more like a refrain, with slight musical and clear lyrical differences with each cycle. I love the whole instrumental section with its Motown brass and thumping beats, I love how the intro gives the whole song away in just a few moments – with one of my favourite bass parts in history chucked in to act as a transition. Hell, I even love the dancer in the video. No, not that strange lip-licking, prancing harlequin who skips about, but the long-haired woman who is probably 90 years old now.

I know these posts are meant to represent my own personal favourite songs of all time, but I honestly feel like this is more, that this song, and this version of it, is one of the best songs of all time. It’s just perfect. Great orchestration and performance, powerful vocals – understanding that it isn’t the easiest song to sing, and just an overall vibe of goodness.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Everlasting Love!

Goodbye, Dublin Road Cinema

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So, I was reading a well-written and passionate post by Jason over at Jason’s Movie Blog which just so happened to coincide with a recent trip to my nearest Cinema and the less recent news that Belfast’s famous Dublin Road Cinema is due to close. Cinema closures in Northern Ireland, and throughout the rest of the world are no big thing, but this one is personal to me. The Cinema will soon shut its doors as of the time you read this, caused by a number of factors including lower attendance figures across the industry, and viewers in Belfast seemingly preferring to go to Cinemas in either the more suburban areas or those on the outskirts of the city. Belfast is a tiny city, even by UK standards, but it does house quite a few Cinemas, although sadly most are carbon copies of each other bringing little more than the latest chart blockbusters – there’s The Odeon in Victoria Square Shopping Mall, Odyssey Cinemas in The Odyssey Complex, Movie House Cinema at Yorkgate (sister to Dublin Road’s Movie House Cinema, as well as Short Strand Cinema and one in The Kennedy Centre – neither of which I’ve been to. Throw in a few notable smaller ventures – the QFT at Queen’s University where I frequented, and Beanbag Cinema which is exactly as it sounds.

Beanbag and QFT offer alternatives – Indie and Local movies, documentaries and Art films, take part in festivals, and also show films long since out of screening. I’ve posted before about my ideal Cinema – read that here – it’s essentially a huge complex which offers all the latest movies, but also movies from around the world along with regular seasons on a certain theme or by a certain director/actor etc. Not living in a big city like London or LA or wherever, where it seems you have unlimited choice, we basically have to take what we can get, so it’s difficult to get the full Cinema experience while also broadening your horizons. Most of my horizons were broadened by VHS, DVD, and watching late night TV.

Nowadays, it’s so easy to stretch those horizons – a few clicks of a few buttons, and you have anything. It’s one of the reasons why many Cinemas are closing their doors – why go out, when you can stay in? Why spend all that money when you can catch up on the other thousand movies you haven’t seen, then in a few weeks the one you passed over on the big screen will be on your small screen? Why get ripped off on popcorn and drinks prices when you can get a month’s worth at your local store for the same price as a single Cinema outing? Why deal with other people talking and chewing and laughing and looking at their phones and existing, when you can close your doors and curtains and sit butt naked on your sofa? All the old reasons for going to the Cinema are gradually fading away, or are gone together. In the past it took years for a film to come to VHS and TV; now it’s a few months – or in some cases the same day. You can easily make your own Slushy drinks and Popcorn at home now. TV Screens are much larger and of a much greater quality than ever before. So why even bother going to the Cinema now?

For some people, it’s because they have to be first – they want to see it first so that they can avoid spoilers, so that they can be part of the conversation, so that they can tweet about it, or write a blog post about it. I only go to the Cinema now if it’s something I desperately want to see on the big screen (which is precious few films these days), or for something to do with the kids (which is only a handful of times a year). And yet, when I had a Cinema on my doorstep I was there every week, watching whatever was on. That’s where Dublin Road Cinema comes in… but more on that later.

For me, the problem is an equation made up of time, money, and distance. My nearest Cinema is a fifteen/twenty minute drive away – admittedly that’s very small and any US readers are probably wondering what the problem is. Well, for one I don’t really like driving, and for two I’ll almost inevitably get stuck behind a tractor/slow driver/idiot/cyclist/all of these. Plus, when I get to that nearest Cinema it only has so many car park spaces because it isn’t just a Cinema – it’s also a Crazy Golf joint, a bowling alley, a pile of restaurants, an arcade, and an indoor playpark. It’s busy – all the time, and parking is a pain in the arse. So, a twenty minute drive becomes leaving twenty minutes early to account for parking and idiots on the road. Factor in a 2 hour movie, padded out to 2 and a half thanks to all the ads and trailers, then 20 minutes driving home – you’ve quickly chopped 3 or 4 hours out of the day. So time and distance go hand in hand. Money then – if I’m going by myself it’s not such a huge deal. A single ticket is probably five quid, and I stash my own food and drinks inside my coat/pockets. Going with the family – our trip a few days ago to see The Secret Life Of Pets 2 cost thirty quid, which is much less than what I thought it was going to be, but again we’d stashed some of our own grub away. It’s usually closer to forty or fifty quid and to spend that sort of money on a few hours of entertainment when we could get the same at home for nowt, seems frivolous and wasteful.

This all sounds like I hate going to the Cinema. I don’t – I love it. I love the big screen, the seats, the volume thronging through my body, the smell, the trailers, the anticipation, even the communal experience. When I was younger I would have movie nights with friends, but those just don’t exist for me anymore. While Cinema can’t replace the banter and comfort of watching with friends at home, the home can’t replace the uncertain excitement of the Cinema. This post has had a long gestation – I heard about Dublin Road Cinema closing months ago from a colleague who worked there, before it was officially announced. I’ve lived in my current Cinema-less town for almost eight years, and in each of those years I’ve asked why it doesn’t have a Cinema. It’s not a big town and it wouldn’t need a big Cinema, but given the sheer amount of people that my nearest one gets, one in my town would mean that it was another option. There are so many smaller villages around my town that it makes financial sense – people already come here to shop, let them come to watch a movie too, and shop some more, and have something to eat. Like I say, it doesn’t need to be huge – three or four screens would suffice. Five would be nice. If there was a Cinema in my town, within walking distance, I would never be out of it.

Because I love the Cinema experience. Some of my best times have been in front of the big screen, and some of my favourite movies (as well as many not so great ones) were seen in Dublin Road Cinema. I saw the last two Matrix movies there, I saw the last two LOTR movies there, some of my first dates with my wife were there. I went to Queen’s University which is about a ten minute walk from Dublin Road Cinema, and because my lectures were spread through the day and week, my only options between times were going to the pub, going to the library, and going to the Cinema. Two out of three of those were more frequent than the other. When I moved in with my then girlfriend, we lived off the Ormeau Road – fifteen minutes from the Cinema. On Fridays we would get drunk in The Errigle Bar and on Saturdays we would go to the Cinema – if we didn’t, I would dander down the road myself on Sunday morning and hang around until the Cinema doors opened and go in myself to enjoy the latest torture porn. It was the perfect place for a Cinema – within walking distance of most of my favourite bars and beside a little square where I would sit and ‘do things’ to girlfriends before my wife came along. It was on the main road walking to University from the Bus Station, meaning I could check out all the posters adorning the outside, then on the rest of the walk I would work out which movies I would see that week. The layout and decor of the interior I’ll never forget – when I imagine my ideal Cinema, it’s always Dublin Road I think of.

So, how do we stop this from happening? How do we keep our Cinemas open? It’s a complex question with complicated answers. We have to do our part – even with my excuses, and your excuses, even with our distractions and other options – we have to keep going. It’s still a one of a kind experience. It’s up to the Cinemas to accentuate those unique positives they have to convince us to keep going. It’s up to the big chains to allow the smaller ones to keep breathing. It’s up to the entrepreneurs and smaller companies to follow their dreams and create niche alternatives, and it’s up to governments, towns, cities, investors to fund those dreams and allow them to become reality. I still say the Cinema Experience can be heightened by having chat rooms and bars installed – places people can go to talk about the movie afterwards. I still say that that we should exit through the gift shop – have posters and shirts and memorabilia and toys and junk from each movie on display, so we can buy or peruse on the way out. I’m clearly no Businessman, but why no go Blue Ocean on Cinemas? Exploit what is unique about them and find those ways to increase revenue that haven’t been tried or considered before. Calm the hell down on your current pricing, because that will be your death knell. Give us something we can’t get anywhere else, and give us a reason to sacrifice our time and money for it, aside from big ‘splosions and a Marvel or Disney logo.

How do you think Cinemas can be saved? Do you think they need saving? Has your favourite Cinema closed down? Let us know in the comments!

Best Costume Design – 1975

Official Nominations: Barry Lyndon. The Four Musketeers. Funny Lady. The Magic Flute. The Man Who Would Be King.

I have no real complaints with this one, though I’m not sure Funny Lady really does enough to warrant a nomination. The Magic Flute is dubious too, given that it’s basically a stage opera. The other three films fall into the epic or literary adaptation category and there isn’t much to choose between them.

My Winner: The Man Who Would Be King

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My Nominations: The Man Who Would Be King. Barry Lyndon. The Four Musketeers. The Wind And The Lion. Monty Python And The Holy Grail. Picnic At Hanging Rock. The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The Stepford Wives.

A few extra films added, but again none of them truly stand out from any of the others. In that case I go for the most iconic option.

My Winner: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Let us know your winner in the comments!

The Lowest Rated Movies I Like – Rotten Tomatoes Edition

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Spicing Up My Post With A Completely Inappropriate Picture

Greetings, Glancers! If you missed it last time, I walked through the Top 100 Highest Rated movies on Rotten Tomatoes and found a few films I either disliked or disagreed with their inclusion. It wasn’t very exciting, and this is going to be the even less interesting follow up. I’m looking at the dregs now, the films that are so bad they’re baaad, but wondering if among these there are films I love, or at the very least, enjoy. I’m using Rotten Tomatoes again, and if their Top Rated films are anything to go by, I can only assume that their Low Rated list will be mostly populist fare, not films which are little known or so low-budget and Indie and bad that only twelve people will ever see them. I rambled on a bit too much last time, so lets just jump straight in now.

There is a list of films rated with 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. I assume that means that out of all the critic and audience reviews there isn’t a single positive one. I’m probably assuming incorrectly, but if you think I’m going to spend time and effort actually looking into this you are sorely mistaken. Oh. Oh dear. Going by year, the first entry I see comes in at 1987, and it’s a film I enjoy. In fact, it’s a film I love. In fact, it’s a film I include on my Top 150 favoutite films of all time. It’s Police Academy 4. This is strange, not because I think it’s an amazing film (I don’t, but I love it thiiiiiiissss muuuuuuucccch) but because it is far from the worst film in the series. Part 5 is a watchable rehash of ideas, Part 6 falls too far from the formula and loses more favourite characters, while Part 7 is genuinely awful – that’s coming from me as a huge fan of the series. But Part 4 has some great stuff – most of the original cast is there, we get some new and recurring fan favourites, and it has some of my favourite moments from the franchise. I can’t believe that not a single person gave a favourable review on this, but did on later entries.

1988 sees the next entry, and it’s Mac And Me! I mentioned this last time as a film I enjoyed more than ET. It’s true. I know, okay, I know that ET is the vastly, vastly better film, but I like Mac And Me more. He’s such a little freak. 1991 takes me to another surprise – Highlander Part 2. I’m genuinely surprised this is rated as 0%. I know it’s not a patch on the first, but do people actually hate this and consider it one of the worst movies ever? I mean, I’m not such a huge fan of it to keep up with audience reviews of it, but a quick Google search tells me that apparently it is frequently called one of the worse films ever. I must go back and watch it now to see why. I remember it being messy, and trying to be too clever for its own good to the point that it became stupid, but I also remember liking it. There are other films here I saw and didn’t dislike – Redline, Derailed, One Missed Call, but I don’t remember them in as much detail so can’t comment further.

Lets see what else we have slightly further up the scale. With a score of under 60%, The Mummy by Stephen Sommers is seen in RT terms as an average movie. I assumed most critics were more positive and I would go so far as calling it the definitive version of the story. Sure, it’s just an Indiana Jones movie without Harrison Ford, but it’s good family fun, fast moving, and with a decent balance between thrills, laughs, action, and scares. Similarly, Die Hard With A Vengeance is a rip-roaring time, bypassing the droll sequel and getting it right with a blend of action and comedy which no recent action movies have emulated – it has a meagre 52% rating. Return To Oz is one of my favourite movies of all time, yet it sits with an inexplicable 53%. I can only assume this is due to a critical bias towards The Wizard Of Oz rather than seeing the film on its own merits – as a twisted, dark, fantasy which teaches kids that the world actually isn’t all that nice of a place. With great make-up, effects, and some fantastic performances, it deserves better than 53%.

Super, at 49%, is a film which was dismissed upon release and has since faded into oblivion. For me, it’s better than any MCU or DCU movie I’ve seen (yet), and more inventive, funny, and interesting than almost any recent comic book blockbuster you can name. Hot Rod has 39%… it’s not great, but I enjoyed it. High Tension has… wtf… only 40%, reminding us that most critics just don’t get horror and are idiots. Equally mysterious is Equilibrium’s 38% – sure most people see it as a Matrix knock-off, but it’s vastly superior in my eyes than whatever the hell The Matrix sequels were supposed to be. Drop Dead Fred has a painful 9% rating…. I get it’s not high art, and while I don’t know the countries of origin of the critics who gave such bad scores, I would take a stab at guessing most were American and therefore ‘didn’t get it’. Any time Rik Mayall appears in a film it is a blessing from the Gods, and this is probably his best movie role. Show this to any kid – they’ll love it.

Lets go through some of my favourite movies by year lists and see how some of those fare – I’m only picking those movies which I imagine critics didn’t love. The Watcher In The Woods is my 7th favourite movie of 1980, but RT gives it a 45%. The further into the 80s we go and the more Arnie movies we’ll see – traditionally Arnie movies got hammered by critics upon release only to be reevaluated as classics decades later. We already know that the Police Academy series never did well with critics – even the generally agreed upon best of the bunch (Part 1) gets only 54%. Brewster’s Millions is one of my favourites of 1985 but has a poor 36%, while The Hitcher from 1986 barely scrapes a Fresh Rating with 60%. Going further a field, my beloved Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead, which is long overdue for a critical reevaluation, has a miserly 33%.

Once again, feel free to draw your own conclusions from any of this and check how your favourite movies stack up against the almighty critical consensus. Chances are they won’t, but that’s okay. Just keep liking what you like, because if you don’t the people in power will just keep rolling out the same five films each year with ever more beautiful effects, performers, and movies will become pointless. What a time to be alive.

Donkeys

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

A true cult favourite for most hardened fans, this one has been adopted by fans as their own anthem and dedication, hardly surprising with lines like ‘put some lipstick on, at least your lies will be pretty’ speaking a thousand truths for us outcasts and misfits who find affinity with the band. Musically it’s okay, standing out mainly for a fantastic solo and of course Bradfield’s high pitched final screech. I do like how the solo sounds so skyscraping, only for it to be restrained and drawn back as the song comes to a softer, stuttering finish.

This B-Side to Roses In The Hospital is one of the most highly regarded by fans and the band alike and would later appear on Lipstick Traces – I like it okay and go between giving it a 2 or 3 score, but the solo tends to keep it in the higher group.

Donkeys: 3/Good

Misheard Lyrics: 1. Donkeys don’t have lots of tears. Actual Lyrics: Donkeys don’t allow their tears.

Misheard Lyrics: 2. And emotion never fear. Actual Lyrics: No emotion never feel.

Misheard Lyrics: 3. Donkeys wake up in a sty. Actual Lyrics: Donkeys weight cracking a spine.

Misheard Lyrics: 4. Lost with solace inside/loves the silence inside. Actual Lyrics: Those with silence inside.

Misheard Lyrics: 5. Donkeys are only left with dice/lice. Actual Lyrics: Donkeys are only left with lies .

Nightman’s Favourite Songs Of All Time: Dead Skin Mask – Slayer

Opeth

Raise those horns, shit is about to get loud. Oh yeah… that’s not a Slayer pic up there, but one I took of Opeth back in 2010 – thought I’d better add some pictures to these posts ‘cos the words sure as shit ain’t exciting. If you follow my blog, you’ll probably know a little of my musical preferences by now. I was a rock, metal, and grunge kid in the early 90s and most of my books and homework were covered in scrawls of guitars, band logos, skulls, and snakes. Metallica, Nirvana, Guns’n’Roses were the most common, but every so often I’d whip a Slayer out. The funny thing was, I didn’t actually know any Slayer songs. Give me a break, I was like 10 years old. As big as metal was at the time, you think that shit was getting played on the radio? Not only that, I didn’t have MTV. One of my friends and metal comrades did though, so it was during my sleepovers at his house that we would stay up to catch Headbanger’s Ball and Beavis And Butthead and late night music videos. I don’t remember ever catching a Slayer song though… and in truth I don’t recall when I really got into them. I wasn’t… then I was.

Slayer had been growing in power and influence throughout the 80s, and their fifth album Seasons In The Abyss came in 1990, right around the time the industry was about to drastically change. While still incredibly fast and brutal, the songwriting had matured significantly and the band were branching out into some slightly different directions, if not outright experimenting. While War Ensemble is the leading single from the album, it’s Dead Skin Mask which makes the most impact. A significantly slower song with a clearly defined riff, borrowed from South Of Heaven, it tells the story of Ed Gein complete with spoken male and female parts and screams. The song builds and builds in a way more akin to Metallica and Megadeth than the all out fury and shredding we are more used to from Slayer.

The verses are static and monotone as many Slayer songs are, but stripped back to just drums and sustained chords while the chorus hilariously is about as singalong and commercial as you’ll ever get from the band. It’s stupidly catchy and each repetition adds a pulsating mesmeric rhythm right up until the finish with the yelping woman screaming to be let out. Even the solo is more refined than the usual whammy stylings of Kerry, and the lyrics vary a little more than the Slayer trope of how many times can you say ‘Death’ in a minute.

Dead Skin Mask remains popular with fans and still pops up when the band (sadly not for much longer) play live. In terms of covers… you’re not going to get many non-metal renditions of a song like this, but the likes of Black Metal band Dark Funeral and experimental noise band Nadja have offered their own wildly different interpretations. The song was one of a small number of Slayer songs which got regular enough rotation at my local metal bar ‘The Venue’ in Belfast. It acted as both a breather between faster songs, and one for the blokes to shuffle about to and warm up their neck muscles while the ladies grabbed a beer and waited for some Nine Inch Nails. I’m sure once I started DJing, I played it too though it and the band were rarely requested. Still, it’s a safe enough introduction to Slayer for non-metal bands due to it’s slower pace and restrained brutality – be sure to check it out by clicking any of the links in this post.

What do you think of Dead Skin MaskLet us know in the comments!

Nightman Listens To Bon Jovi – Have A Nice Day

Have_a_Nice_Day_Bon_Jovi_album

Greetings, Glancers! We’re back with another slice of MOR tunes courtesy of those mulleted 80s minstrels Bon Jovi. Last time around we checked out Bounce, and since that album the band released two curios – This Left Feels Right which was basically updated versions of classics, and that one about millions of fans which was a boxset of some sort. Have A Nice Day was their ninth studio album, and their first of original music in three years. I’ve heard the title track on this one but beyond that I don’t recognise any of the other songs listed below. Maybe listening with refresh my memories.

Have A Nice Day: This has always been a straight-forwards, no nonsense rocker with an inspirational set of lyrics with just enough rebellion to bridge the gap between chart sensibility and those looking for something just a touch harder. It’s a step down from It’s My Life but for most people probably not noticeably so. You should know the score with their hits now – big chorus that forces you to shout along.

I Want To Be Loved: This opens like a very specific Bryan Adams song but soon transforms into what feels like an under the radar Bon Jovi hit. It’s very middle of the road and commercial but it continues the inspirational theme – not giving up, always fighting and all that. The verses aren’t the most adventurous but they do build nicely and allow the two part chorus to be the focal point. It’s another good chorus but the song as a whole never reaches that top gear to tip it into their upper echelon songs.

Welcome To Wherever You Are: A soft intro, so assuming we’re in ballad territory. This one has a video, so assuming it was a single. Nice enough verses, again with a focus on the self – don’t be hard on yourself, you’ll be okay, you’re in control, chin up etc. It’s another B grade Bon Jovi song – good, probably feels better to me than it actually is because it hasn’t been over-exposed, but not any chance of it being promoted to the A grade status.

Who Says You Can’t Go Home: Bon Jovi have always been a band about lifting your spirits up – musically, lyrically, and making you feel good, but this is four songs on the trot which are specifically about those very ideas. This one has a very nineties video which adds a nice touch of nostalgia for me. It sounds very much like a song I can’t quite put my finger on, but it’s so damn happy that I don’t care. I believe I have heard this one before and while it’s most likely a B Grade for them, it’s fresh enough, charming enough for me to allow it to sneak in to their A Grade. A nice surprise and good to see that they can still make music at this point in their careers that I would gladly hear again.

Last Man Standing: Faster, heavier, and with a different atmosphere that the previous tracks. I would have preferred the verses to have a little more of the oomph of the intro, but by and large the atmosphere and energy is continued. The chorus is a marginal let down for me – as a standalone chorus it is fine, but as a chorus to follow that intro and verse, it doesn’t feel as impactful. Still, this is five decent songs so far that I don’t have anything truly negative to bring up.

Bells Of Freedom: I realise that the album has had, not on the nose patriotism, but a definite sense of the spirit of the USA thanks to the inspirational sounds and themes. I haven’t clicked play on this yet, but I expect this one to be more up front with a name like that. It actually opens with a bell, then acoustics and vocals fade in. The verse is good but the chorus feels an awful lot like This Ain’t A Love Song. It isn’t exactly on the nose, but the lyrics do evoke all of the traditional apple pie USA stuff without explicitly calling them out. With a better chorus this could have squeezed into the upper tier Bon Jovi stuff, but it doesn’t quite get there and is more lower B tier for me and the fact that it is dragged out pushes it more towards average.

Wildflower: A brief intro suggests another softer ballad. Piano and drum led verses are a little different and the chorus doesn’t get much heavier. It adds some dynamics thanks to some strings and guitars and it all fits together coherently. I like the melodies throughout, Jon tries a little too hard to add unnecessary vocal tics, but on the whole it’s another decent song.

Last Cigarette: Five songs to go and I’m not sure they can maintain this momentum. Hopefully they can, but the album runs the risk of becoming too samey. This starts with single chords and vocals, followed up by an edgier drum and vocal piece, and then straight into an upbeat chorus – it all works. The rest of the song follows this format with some additional energy sprinkled on top. The guitars haven’t been at the forefront in this album, with only a couple of basic solos not really worth mentioning so far – there’s one here too. The band goes for a strange childlike choir section after the solo, unusual for them, but they pull it off before closing out with another chorus.

I Am: Instantly with the atmosphere. This is quite funny to me because it sounds very close to a British band you won’t have heard of but which I love, called Haven. Not the vocals, but that intro and some of the melodies are scarily close to a couple of their songs. This is more like the Bon Jovi stuff I enjoy – understated yet powerful at the same time. I’ve no idea how well known or popular this song is but it’s another one I wasn’t aware of which I think goes well with their best hits. The lyrics are once again concerned with the self, with positivity, encouragement.

Complicated: Gets straight down to business. The verse is quite similar to the opening track as well as It’s My Life and the verse feels too by the numbers. The band landed on the word ‘complicated’ and built a simple chorus around it, making sure it rhymed and scanned okay but with little imagination. As a radio rock song it does the job, but it lacks any of the adventure of their hits. When a band has been going for a while, you can tell the songs which didn’t take a lot of care in construction from those which did.

Novocaine: A breathless, wordy verse kicks things off, slowly builds to a decent drawling chorus. Standard drug/love metaphor lyrics. I like how there are very few breaks in the vocals between sections. I like this – not sure how many more times I’d want to hear it though. A strange whispering, talking section closes it out.

Story Of My Life: Closing with a ballad it seems. Piano intro. Are they going to go full piano or – no, there’s the explosion. It’s a booming end, with jubilant melodies and the same care-free energy which has symbolized their career. No complaints about this one, though I think the chorus could have been more emotive. A good end to a good album.

A very consistent album without a single weak link. There isn’t a standout track for me – a couple of quite good ones, a couple of weaker ones that it’s clear not a lot of effort or thought was put into, and the rest are better than average without quite hitting the heights. As I mentioned throughout, the whole thing is designed to be uplifting, comforting, and very easy to get along with – sing and dance easily. As much as I like to make fun of the band – I give them more credit than most – but to be this far into their career and still making worthwhile songs while retaining what made them popular in the first place, gives a warm sense of security. I have many favourite bands who burned out after a couple of albums, so for the big Bon Jovi fans out there it must be wonderful to hear the band still putting out stuff which they should love. I believe this will be the last album I’ve definitely heard tracks off, and while I’m not sure if it was their last big hit, every other album they’ve released since will be almost 100% unfamiliar to me.

Let us know what you think of Have A Nice Day in the comments!