Rendition

Rendition: 3/Good

A neat little punk quickie with flamboyant performance from Bradfield, thunderous drums, and some amusing lyrics. It’s all very catchy too, with the verse taking the most points but with a chorus which still does a fine job. It’s not going to change anyone’s world, but it’s a good, quick, impactful rocker that gets to the point without excess and doesn’t outstay its welcome.

Misheard Lyrics: All the animals I’m missing/All the animals are missing

2. Another moment of Japan and sorrow/Another moment of general sorrow

Actual Lyrics: All the emeralds that are missing

2. And at the moment I’m jumping at sorrow

There By The Grace Of God

There By The Grace Of God: 3/Good

Between the release of Know Your Enemy and Lifeblood, the Manics were busy looking back and planning ahead, releasing two compilation albums – the greatest hits Forever Delayed and the collection of B-sides and rarities Lipstick Traces. Rather than simply chuck out these releases as a stop gap, the band recorded a number of new songs, led by this single which would hint at the sound of the coming album. While there had been dabbling of experimental electronic sounds previously, There By The Grace of God is the first true embracing of this glacial sound, a single which manages to keep a guitar riff but merge with the cold, detached electronic sound of Lifeblood. Building with digital, disturbed beats, a shimmering guitar riff emerges along with a restrained Bradfield vocal. The verses are ghostly, the chorus feels like it could be bigger thanks to a melody of anthem quality, but Bradfield sings in such a ‘can’t give a fuck’ way that it never becomes the singalong moment that it could be.

Misheard Lyrics: Victims with the saddest eyes/pacify the grace of God

Actual Lyrics: Victims with the saddest hearts
Passing by the grace of God

Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayitsworldwouldfallapart

Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayitsworldwouldfallapart: 4/great

It’s always been a mystery to me why the band never quite hit it off in America, at least from a purely musical perspective. The band released their first albums at the height of grunge and shared many similarities with the leading US guitar bands of the period. They were angry, introspective, sensitive, knew how to shred, and had a political and moral stance. Of course much of their politics was anti-american in some ways, or even (horror or horrors) Communist leaning. When you look back at what bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Rage Against The Machine were saying at their peak – they too were rallying against the right leaning US policies of the time, and their fans were loyal to the cause – all the more reason for a band like the Manics to be popular. But no singles were released, they rarely toured, and received little to no exposure. This second track from The Holy Bible is a lyrical mass of politics and morality, a literal barrage of words and references and name-checking that even the most ardent student will struggle to keep up with. Musically it has the militaristic core that runs through The Holy Bible, with machine gun drumming, off centre robotic guitars, vocals that sound like they’re screamed through a megaphone, and a shifting structure that feels like a chaotic, absurd blend of blues rock riffage and heavy metal thrashing.

Misheard Lyrics: 1. A messenger from Santander and napalm.

2. Grenade, a heetee (?), pole in Nick a rock you are!

3. Big Mac, smack, fix our knees

4. Killer Mexico

5. Yeah I do speak so much of the abyss

6. Come down Harlem

7. Morning fine groovy first coffee of the day

Actual Lyrics: 1.Images of perfection, suntan, and napalm

2. Grenada, Haiti, Poland, Nicuragua

3. Big Mac, Smack, Phoenix R

4. Cuba Mexica

5. Your idols speak so much of the abyss

6. Compton Harlem

7. Morning fine serve your first coffee of the day

Nightman Listens To – Marillion (and Mr Biffo’s Between You And Me Podcast)!

cover art for Market Square Heroes

Greetings, Glancers! As I have said to my wife on many a saucy occasion – ‘I’m not sure how long I can last’. What has this embarrassing revelation to do with Marillion, you may be asking. You see, the always busy, always brilliant Mr Biffo (Paul Rose) – creator of Digitser and somewhat of an inspiration for many folks of a certain age – has launched a new Podcast. In this Podcast – Between You And Me – Paul and his wife, Sanja, are trawling through every major Marillion release together, with Paul acting as wizened mentor and Sanja the enthusiastic student. Presumably. I haven’t listened to anything beyond the trailer yet.

Rose is a diehard, lifelong Marillion fan, while Sanja is something of a newb. I assume some of their songs will have filtered through to her via Paul playing them around the house, in the car, or possibly on the long walks down to the local Chippie I imagine they take. It’s the type of Podcast format I enjoy listening to, in my limited Podcast experience. Regular Glancers will know that I listen to the Shockwaves Horror podcast (or did until it all collapsed due to those allegations), and the Mick Garris (Horror writer and director) Podcast. If Joe Rogan has one someone interesting – one of those UFO guys or someone from WWE, I’ll give him a ear or two.

As a thirty something white male, starting a Podcast of my own is a source of daydreaming increasingly. I had thought of doing something similar where I grab a bunch of friends, each of us picking a movie or an album to focus on in one episode – preferably one which the friends have either not seen or not enjoyed – and try to convince them to like it via insults and profuse fanboying. Recently, I’ve been listening to the Do You Love Us Podcast – a Podcast which takes this format but uses it to go through the entire Discography of the Manic Street Preachers, who will know as maybe my favourite band of all time. From humble beginnings, the three lads – one super fan, one casual, and one newb, have discussed the cultural impact of the band and their thoughts on the music, the lyrics, the surrounding fluff, and have grown to having legitimate guests on the show including Greg Haver (Producer of Manic Street Preachers albums) and Michael Sheen (Welsh and Hollywood legend).

Sadly, as someone too busy and/or lazy to have friends these days, such a podcast of my own is a mere pipedream – and the old Northern Irish accent would most likely be like being forced to wear someone else’s facemask to a Floridian Trump fan. Via that verbal detour, we return to Marillion and me. I.. don’t know much about the band. I know they exist, and I’ve heard a few of their biggest songs, but that’s about it. If asked, I would call them a Prog band but that answer is more borne out of saying their name on the cover of Prog music magazines or mentioned in the same breath as Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Rush, rather than any practical experience of their music I have personally had. Regular Glancers will know that I have a number of regular music features on my blog – I’m currently finishing off my Bowie, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, and Madonna discographies, and I’ve kicked off the same for The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys, as well as working my way through the Top 1000 Albums Of All Time, the Top 500 Metal Albums Ever, the Post Beatles release of each Beatles member, and the Non Iron Maiden releases by each Iron Maiden member. It’s a lot. But given that I want to listen to everything ever made, and then tell you why I didn’t like any of it, I’m willing to give Marillion a go too.

Being a big Pink Floyd fan, Prog is a genre I enjoy but have never fully embraced in terms of going through the back catalogues of the other big players. For the Marillion posts though, rather than use the same format of my other posts, which are not insightful in the slightest and end of reading as repetitive nonsense (I basically listen to the album and type my thoughts wile listening, with no edits or planning), I’m going to do the Marillion thing properly; Multiple listens, let the music absorb, follow up by listening to Paul’s associated Podcast episode for the particular release, listen again, then post my thoughts on it all. OR SOMETHING.

But as I say, I get bored easily and may give up long before I get past the Fish era, whatever that means. I’ll probably still listen to the albums, even if I don’t write about them. I’ll probably still listen to the Podcast, even if I don’t listen to the albums. You probably won’t care about any of it. But if you do – if you’re a Marillion fan, maybe you’ll get something out of whatever I type. You’ll have more luck listening to Paul’s Podcast (I don’t really know how Podcasts work so I tend to just Google and click on the first safe looking link which pops up and listen via that site – so here’s the link I’m using). At the very least, I hope I’ll enjoy the music and find another band so enrich my life.

Retro Review – Tears Of The Sun

*Originally written in 2004

Tears of the Sun | War film Wiki | Fandom

After a slow start, Tears of the Sun turns into a decent semi-action movie with a fair amount of tension. Bruce Willis stars as Lieutenant Waters who, along with a small group of soldiers, is sent into Nigeria to ‘rescue’ any American citizens from impending death, as rebel fighters are entering the area intending to kill any outsiders. They have just wiped out the President and his family, and are taking control, and the US is not authorized to interfere. Primary target is Dr. Kendricks played by Monica Bellucci, the foreign widow of an American. Secondary targets for rescue are nuns. Tom Skerrit plays Willis’s superior, and sends the team in with strict orders not to engage the enemy. Of course, when they reach the doctor she refuses to leave as she has many injured patients. Willis reluctantly agrees to take 70 refugees with them, knowing that only the Doctor will be airlifted out. However, when the remaining doctors and patients are killed, Willis disobeys orders and returns to take the 70 refugees over the border to safety. However, the rebels are on their tail and no help is coming, and a twist reveals an important person among the refugees.

The film’s main faults lie in the fact that as an action movie there is little action for the majority of the movie, and as a drama there is not enough interaction between the characters to make us care for them too much. However, the performances from Bellucci, Willis and co. are all good, there are some tense scenes, the surroundings are stunning, and the final chase when the enemy catches up is very well executed. The issues of American intrusion, good vs evil, and morality are tackled well for a film of this type and much sympathy is aimed towards the victims of the conflict. Unfortunately some of the other soldiers are not given much screen time, and many look similar so we do not know who is who, undermining the emotional impact of the battle scenes. However, they all come to see that their jobs as soldiers is not to help their own citizens, but to protect the innocent at all costs, regardless of race. Overall a good attempt at mixing action and drama.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Tears Of The Sun!

Best Cast – 1978

My Nominations: The Boys From Brazil. California Suite. Dawn Of The Dead. The Deer Hunter. Heaven Can Wait. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. Midnight Express. Superman.

A great selection of films with either ensemble casts or smaller quality over quantity focused casts. The Boys From Brazil is not a film which is often spoken of anymore, but it is well worth revisiting giving its cultural significance – Oliver picked up an Oscar nomination – and because it takes a number of renowned actors known mainly for their heroic good guy roles, and having them act as some of the most horrible humans in history. James Mason, Gregory Peck, Bruno Ganz, Steve Guttenberg, Lilli Palmer, Denholm Elliot, Prunella Scales, and Michael Gough are among those rounding out the cast.

California Suite seems like the sort of film which would have been nominated had this category existed in 1978. It’s a Neil Simon comedy directed by Herbert Ross, and features a variety of A Listers and Oscar Winners – Maggie Smith winning another for this film, along with Michael Caine, Bill Cosby, Alan Alda, Jane Fonda, Walter Matthau, Elaine May, and Richard Pryor. One which would absolutely not have been nominated, but which remains a firm favourite in my personal mini category of single/near single location siege movies with a tight cast, is Dawn Of The Dead. Ken Foree is the standout, but the surrounding trio of Gaylen Ross, David Emge, and Scott Reiniger make a the film one of the all time great horror movies. It’s difficult to see another movie wrestling the win away from The Deer Hunter – De Niro was nominated for Best Actor, Christopher Walken won Best Supporting Actor, Meryl Streep was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, then you also have John Savage and John Cazale.

Heaven Can Wait is another cert for a nomination if this category had been around – Warren Beatty, James Mason, Julie Christie, Jack Warden, Dyan Cannon, Charles Grodin – good cast, decent movie. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers is a Sci Fi classic which treats the audience and subject matter with respect, as well as giving a high calibre cast – Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy, Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright, Brooke Adams. Midnight Express is filled with intense performances – John Hurt, Brad Davis, Randy Quaid, Irene Miracle, while Superman ushers in the age of the comic book blockbuster and features a huge and notable cast – Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeves, Ned Beatty, Margot Kidder, Jackie Cooper, Terence Stamp, Trevor Howard, Susannah York, Maria Schell etc.

My Winner: The Deer Hunter

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Chart Music Through The Years – 1987

Today in Madonna History: December 28, 1987 « Today In Madonna History

Greetings, Glancers! On the surface 1987 is one of those years I always get excited about – some of my all time favourite movies were released in Predator, Robocop, The Lost Boys, Near Dark etc and at least two of my all time favourite albums came out – Bad, and Appetite For Destruction. Elsewhere, Bon Jovi and U2 released smash hit singles and albums, MTV was launched in Europe, Kyle Minogue left Neighbours and started a singing career, and hair metal was peaking in excess.

What of the wider world? Terry Waite was kidnapped, Budd Dwyer killed himself on TV, Iran-Contra further embarrassed Reagan, Platoon won Best Picture at The Oscars, plans for Euro Disney were put in place, The Simpsons first appeared in an early form, Lester Piggott went to prison, and the IRA bombed Enniskillen.

Back in the musical world, the biggest singles of the year included a variety of novelty songs – La Bamba, Never Gonna Give You Up, rock anthems – Livin’ On A Prayer, Where The Streets Have No Name, and pop classics – The Lady In Red, I Wanna Dance With Somebody Who Loves Me. As always, I’ll be giving my thoughts on one of the Top Tens of the year and providing an alternative list for anyone interested in 1987. Company… March!

The Bee Gees: You Win Again 

So, a little about me before a little about the song. When I was younger we used to have these family employee Christmas parties where we would go to Pantomimes. One year it was bombed, so we didn’t go back to the panto. Other times we would go to the Cinema, or to indoor play places, or just have some hall hired for the day/night. At one of these events there was a disco and a quiz, and I seemed to be one of the older kids there (by older we’re talking me being 8 or 9). I remember answering as many questions as I could to the point that the DJ was getting annoyed and wanted to give someone else a chance. Anyway, I won a Bee Gees Live Concert on VHS. I probably knew the band before then, but that was my main introduction to them.

They are another ones of those bands that I’ve liked a lot of their songs, haven’t liked others, but never had any desire to seek them out. Spoiler Alert – I hope to cover them in a new Nightman Listens To series. All that is to say – I like this song.

George Michael: Faith

I never really liked this song. I never really liked George Michael. I like Last Christmas, and I like Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, but almost everything else I’ve heard from him has been balls. This is a middling one for me – I don’t hate the song, and there are parts I like enough to know that I’ll sing it every so often. But it’s an average song, nothing more.

Bananarama: Love In The First Degree

As 80s pop bands go, Bananarama are one of the bands that I somehow avoided. Leader Of The Pack, Help, I know those, but that’s about it. I’m sure I’d remember more if I heard them. This is immediately 80s – big ridiculous synth and drums. I recognise parts of this. Hilarious, unnecessary dance moves in the music video. Why do people dance in music videos? I’ve definitely heard the chorus before. It’s cheesy, cheery rubbish, and the video is questionable. Mostly harmless junk.

Jan Hammer: Crockett’s Theme

What is this? More 80s drums and synth. Oh right, now I know it, obviously. I knew I knew the name, but couldn’t place it. I never watched Miami Vice which is apparently where this is from. I probably saw a few episodes of it, but for whatever reason I was more of an A-Team, Knightrider guy. It’s an iconic piece of music that probably most people know even if they, like me, don’t know what it’s from. I’ve no idea why this was a hit over any other 80s theme, but there you go.

Fleetwood Mac: Little Lies

Spoiler Alert #2 – Fleetwood Mac is another band I want to cover in a Nightman Listens series. I have a friend who is a diehard fan, but again I mostly know a bunch of singles, a few of which I love. From the name, I don’t know this. The intro and verse is typically 80s, that atmospheric vibe I love. The verse is sort of familiar, then the chorus comes and I slap myself because of course I know it. Everyone looks incredibly stoned in the video too, which is nice. I’ve no idea why they are dressed like Victorian farmers either. I like it, even if some of the backing vocals are terrible and the video is shocking – a decent enough song.

Erasure: The Circus

Erasure. One of my least liked/most disliked bands. Along with Lighthouse Family, UB40, Enya, probably others. I can’t even remember why anymore, but I’m sure we’ll find out. Ponky pumpy horny synthy intro, drunken sounds in verse, annoying vocals. I think it’s more the style rather than the voice I don’t like. This doesn’t feel at all like a single. It’s not terrible, it’s not great… I’m not sure what it is aside from being all over the place.

Billy Idol: Mony Mony

Billy Idol always struck me as a bit of knob. All dressed up like a punk rock or metal superstar, but releasing songs which BROS could just as easily have released. Obviously this is a cover. It’s not all that different from the original, just with a bit of an 80s overhaul. It’s another traditional rock’n’roll song so you can guess how it sounds – the energy, the rhythm, the rises and falls – nothing special but still better than most of today’s chart pap.

Pet Shop Boys: Rent

I like It’s A Sin – who doesn’t? But I’ve never been crazy about these fellas either. This doesn’t seem familiar. Talking vocals, silly whisper noises in the background, already off to a losing start. Singing is marginally better, melodies a little bland, but I appreciate the plaintive feel. I assume the lyrics are heartfelt, some feeling does come across. It’s not bad, but it’s not something I’ll remember or seek out again.

Kiss: Crazy Crazy Nights

Another rock ‘classic’ that was played, for the ladies, at my local Metal bar on Saturday nights. It’s basically a pop ballad the likes of which you’d hear a boy/girl band write, but with added guitar. That’s the thing about hair metal – you had some genuinely accomplished musicians, then you had those who could just about get by, but in the main the songs were throwaway pop garbage. Guitars and androgyny were hot in the 80s, so all these pretty boys with guitars would form bands for a quick buck, suck, or fuck – and most of them are terrible. Nevertheless, those who succeeded, those who are still discussed today knew how to write a catchy tune which all music fans could enjoy, even if there was very little under the surface or face-paint.

Was (Not Was): Walk The Dinosaur

The only artist here I hadn’t heard of so I’m going to go out on a limb and say this was a novelty hit. It certainly starts in that vein with some sort of caveman chant that you just know idiots of the time would have chanted. The verse vocals are fine, and then the chorus drops and I remember it all. So, I’m not sure what the intent behind the song or the lyrics were, aside from trying to make a bunch of money and capitalize on the idiocy of 80s culture. Musically, it beats the equivalent today – there is a variety of instruments, there is some semblance of vibrancy, but it’s still a pile of crap. It seems to be selling a dance instead of being a song on its own merits. If we compare it to Walk Like An Egyptian – another song which created a cutesy dance craze – there’s a clear gulf in talent and creativity between the two.

So, that was an accurate depiction of 80s pop music. Does that mean it represents the decade or the year in music truthfully? No. Does it show the breadth of talent of those who were making music then? Absolutely not. As we have already established, chart music rarely does. Therefore, here is an alternative list of songs released in 1987 which you may find more appealing – and I’m even keeping it mostly pop!

  1. With Or Without You – U2
  2. Sign O’ The Times – Prince
  3. Just Like Heaven – The Cure
  4. Smooth Criminal – Michael Jackson
  5. Sweet Child O’Mine – Guns ‘N’ Roses
  6. Heaven Is A Place On Earth – Belinda Carlisle
  7. Satch Boogie – Joe Satriani
  8. Fairytale Of New York – The Pogues
  9. It’s The End Of The World As We Know It – REM
  10. Rhythm Is Gonna Get You – Gloria Estefan

Let us know in the comments if you have any memories of 1987 – the music, the movies, and everything in between!

Of Walking Abortion

I knew that someday I was gonna die, and I knew before I died two things would happen to me; that number one I would regret my entire life, and number two I would want to live my life over again‘.

The first song from The Holy Bible to offer an industrial tone, the savage guitars crunch and throb, drums smash down like hammers on steel, all manner of filters make the instruments sound mechanical and condensed while Bradfield sounds like a cyborg spinning out of control. This is heavy, dark stuff, unsurprisingly, with a chaotic mixture of lyrical brilliance with lyrical weirdness. It’s the first song that sounds evil on the album, as if it has taken on a life of its own and is coming after you, stalking, hunting. Opening with the above haunting quote (Hubert Selby Jr) about life, death, and regret, futility, apathy, the lyrics and music follow without looking back. The finger-pointing ending, which I believe was added by Nicky, has become a Manics moment – meme -mement? The band seemingly taking aim at, well, all of us, the monstrous humans we are, being responsible for all of the terrible shit in the world. Again Bradfield pulls every once of hatred and despair from the words, pumps them back through the music and unleashes a terrifying vocal performance, screaming to the pit of his soul with unfettered anguish and rage.

Misheard Lyrics:

  1. Obsidian’s blackest hole/a city is blackest hole/a city’s blackest hole
  2. The nation’s mouth wraps you inside
  3. Fucked up don’t know why you put it away
  4. Shut up! Shut up!
  5. Open black ground with tomorrow’s compass (?)
  6. So watch out girl and you expect your chores/so watch our car and you’ll expect no choice

Actual Lyrics:

  1. Acedia’s blackest hole
  2. The nation’s moral suicide
  3. Fucked up don’t know why you poor little boy
  4. Shalom! Shalom!
  5. Open black ruins a moral conscience
  6. So wash your car in your ‘x’ baseball shoes

Of Walking Abortion: 4/Great

Never Want Again

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

One of the earliest acoustic (semi) stylings from the band, this has always been a firm personal favourite, ever since I first stumbled upon it in my early downloading days.  It’s one you’ll never hear any other fans talk about but I loved it from my first listen. Opening with a comedy mis-start, followed by lovely, tender guitar riff, it gives way to a stomping beat, and a simply extraordinary Bradfield vocal. It’s all about the melodies, the ability of Bradfield and possibly no other singer alive to sing them, and some quite lovely harmonies too. The lyrics are fine, taking a break from the politics, but they remain firmly in the style of anthems with a rebellious stance. It’s not too clear what the band are angry about, but they sound so happy and comfortable being angry that you get swept along with the emotion and feel free to use the chorus in your own personal tirade. The brilliant guitar solo at the end isn’t really necessary, but I’m never going to turn down a guitar solo.

Never Want Again: 4/Great

Misheard Lyrics: 1. Burn ’em by our side

2. I saw the rain bleaching my whale

3. My dog gets sick of all its lice

4. Thrown a bone way outside

Actual Lyrics: 1. Burn on by our side

2. I saw the rain bleaching my way

3. My gut gets sick of all its lies

4. Thrown all hope way outside