Nightman Listens To Madonna – Bedtime Stories!

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Greetings, Glancers! The last time we spoke of Madonna, she had released her most controversial and sexually charged album to date – Erotica. It was fine, and while I loved many of the ideas, most of the music didn’t make my nuts tingle. With Bedtime Stories, Madonna wanted to remind fans and the population at large that she wasn’t merely some orgasmic vixen but that she had other layers and furrows – like we all have. As you would expect, the album was yet another major success and proceeded to break new ground for Madonna while influencing later artists. But what do I think of it? Looking at the track list I see the album garnered four singles, though only one of them I can remember from the name; I’m sure once I hear some of the others I will remember them too. As always, listen along, weep at my thoughts, and drop your comments below!

Survivor‘. Beeps. Drum sounds. Voices. I don’t think I’ve heard this, but it’s very 90s RnB. Different sound from anything she had so far. It’s quite plain and tame actually. I don’t think the melodies would lodge in my head.

Secret‘. Guitar. Noise. Vocals. Better melodies. I was about to type that I don’t recall this, but the chorus sounds familiar, pretty sure I have heard that piece at least. I do like the different direction of sound, but neither of these two songs are emotional or melodic enough to grab me on first listen.

I’d Rather Be Your Lover‘. Portishead. Falls apart at vocals. Better in verses. Sexy without being as obvious as the last album. It doesn’t make the melodic impact again. Disaster rap. As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t recognise many of the song names, possibly that’s because the album didn’t have any obvious hits that I would remember 20 years after the fact – and we tend to most readily remember songs with melodies which have an impact.

Don’t Stop‘. 90s RnB pop beats. Oh dear. Terrible lyrics. No, absolutely awful lyrics. This one is trying to be sexy, I think, but it’s juvenile and clueless. Nothing positive to say about this one I’m afraid. There’s about 100 seconds of material here, yet the song is almost five minutes long. Sort it out.

Inside Of Me‘. Sex breath. Let your mind conjure some images from that phrase. At least this one feels sexy. A strange girly voice. Better melodies. Lyrics don’t appear to be about sex, more about sadness and hope. This is the best song yet, though that isn’t saying much. Still, it’s another good Madonna song that I wasn’t aware of.

Human Nature‘. Screeching RnB. Express yourself, don’t repress yourself. Yes, but more importantly – don’t be a dick about it. Sweary lyrics. Another new voice. A reaction to the public reaction to her last album? Or related to some relationship? So, good lyrics, silly music, melodies of no consequence.

Forbidden Love‘. More slow, smooth beats. Even though I don’t like a lot of these songs, the Production is always right on the money for the period. It’s another case of bland versus followed by a marginally better chorus. She sings with a more traditional Madonna voice this time around. The first part of the chorus hints at something great, but it fizzles out. This is one of the better songs on the album so far.

Love Tried To Welcome Me‘. Hiss. Strings. Good? Guitar. Jangles. Promising. Smooth RnBeats. I feel like this would have had more impact if it had a different production or backing music. It’s already stripped back, but those beats don’t really work. This one is quite sad, quite good, and the chorus is fine. Doesn’t reach the heights. Feels like a good one for a rainy day window view.

Sanctuary‘. Words. Familiar melody. More beats. Odd pipes. Bass. Quite unusual, though quite nice. Mysterious. A lot of songs on the album don’t feel like Madonna songs, maybe because these are not straightforward, simple pop songs like we are used to. More spoken words. The melodies are a little repetitive here, but still hypnotic.

‘Bedtime Story’. Throb sounds. Sex sounds. Portishead again. More threatening tone. Back beat. Feels like a centerpiece. There’s the dated beats. It does feel sort of dreamy in a warm, sultry, heroin snuggly way. It’s all monotone though. I don’t mind this one, has the shadows, has the nice dark tone I love for night driving with the warm air grooving, or drifting off to sleep in a daze.

‘Take A Bow’. Ah, I know this one. It’s quite sweet. It feels like a tacked on song to the end of a darker album. Still it ends up being a highlight for me. It’s quite funny how different this is in tone from everything else. I like this one – I can’t see it changing anyone’s world, but there is an innocence, a Michael Jackson vibe, and easy hooks.

Looking at the cover art and with the backlash from her previous album I was expecting this to be a more mainstream, melodic, pop-based affair, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a dance album, ‘bedtime’ simply means sex, and none of the songs really work as obvious singles, outside of the final track. Credit for continuing to experiment and try different things but it’s not to my tastes. Most of the songs are too… empty? There isn’t any emotion or enough variance – experiment all you want, but you still need something to pull people in and keep them. The album was a success so clearly I’m in the minority. Since when has anyone listened to me anyway?

Let us know in the comments what you thought of Bedtime Stories. Is this one of Madonna’s best, or are you a n’fan (not a fan)? Next up it’s ah… it’s Evita. Don’t cry for me, but I really don’t know much about the music from it, aside from the pun I just made. I think I’ll listen only to the actual songs, not the other guff that is probably included too. Adios!

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Ranking The Bond Women -Introduction

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Chauvinism ahoy! Following on from my ridiculously unpopular Bond Songs ranking posts I thought I would move on to even more misguided waters by listing all of the women who appear in Bond movies. As before, this is a personal list so nostalgia and personal preference will hold more weight that cultural importance or lack thereof, with a sprinkling of character, writing, and acting ability aiding in the ranking. Before I get started with the list, for all your purists out there THIS IS MY LIST. I am including Never Say Never Again (even though it’s tripe), I am including typical Bond girls and female Bond baddies, and I’m trying to include even the most minor character – it just needs to be someone who has had some sort of fling or naughty, nudey escapade with Double Oh Shlong – because of this I may miss a few characters – don’t hate me. Or do, I don’t care. I am not including Moneypenny as she is a regular, recurring character and I’m not including Judi Dench’s M because I’m not a GILF hunter.

At time of writing I have identified a frightening, wrist-wrenching 90 ladies. My wife tells me I have peculiar tastes when it comes to women, so be prepared for some unusual choices in my top 20. I’ll split up my posts into minors, middling, and major characters, and I’ll even share with you a lovely picture of each woman along with my alarmingly non-pervy thoughts. Won’t that be lovely? And because no blog post is complete without a list – here is the list of Bond Girls by movie which I will be including! Feel free to let me know your favourites now, or alternatively wait until I have completed my wanking. RANKING! Ahem, ranking. Ahem.

Dr No: Honey Ryder, Sylvia Trench, Miss Taro

From Russia With Love: Sylvia Trench (again), Tatiana Romanova, Zora, Vida

Goldfinger:  Dink, Jill Masterson, Tilly Masterson, Bonita, Pussy Galore.

Thunderball: Fiona Volpe, Paula Caplan, Mademoiselle La Porte, Patricia Fearing, Domino Derval

You Only Live Twice: Aki, Ling, Helga Brandt, Kissy Suzuki

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: Teresa Di Vicenzo, Ruby Bartlett, Nancy,

Diamonds Are Forever: Tiffany Case, Plenty O’Toole, Bambi, Thumper, Marie

Live And Let Die: Solitaire, Rosie Carver, Miss Caruso

The Man With The Golden Gun: Andrea Anders, Mary Goodnight, Saida, Chew Mee

The Spy Who Loved Me: Anya Amasova, Naomi, Felicca, Martine Blanchaud.

Moonraker: Manuela, Corinne Dufour, Holly Goodhead, Apollo Jet Hostess

For Your Eyes Only: Melina Havelock, Bibi Dahl, Countess Lisl

Octopussy: Octopussy, Magda, Bianca,

A View To A Kill: Kimberly Jones, Mayday, Stacey Sutton, Jenny Flex, Pan Ho, Pola Ivanova

The Living Daylights: Kara Milovy, Linda, Rubavich, Rosika Miklos,

License To Kill: Lupe Lamora, Pam Bouvier,

Goldeneye: Xenia Onatopp, Natalya Simonova, Caroline

Tomorrow Never Dies: Inga Bergstrom, Wai Lin, Paris Carver,

The World Is Not Enough: Cigar Girl, Christmas Jones, Electra King, Molly Warmflash,

Die Another Day: Peaceful, Miranda Frost, Jinx. Verity.

Casino Royale: Solange, Vesper Lynd

Never Say Never Again: Domino Petachi, Fatima Blush

Quantum Of Solace: Agent Fields, Camille, Gemma

Skyfall: Bond’s Lover, Severine

Spectre: Lucia Sciarra, Madeleine Swan, Estrella

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Nightman Listens To – Erotica – Madonna

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Greetings, Glancers! We’re back with Madonna today, back to her main studio albums and hopefully a return to form after the poor (in my mind) soundtrack album I’m Breathless. If you read my post on Like A Prayer you’ll know that I thought it was a fantastic album, brave, controlled, cultured, and most importantly packed with great music. Erotica was another well received album, and the first one where she began to focus more directly on sex from all directions. She had touched upon the subject frequently with previous albums, but with this one she takes sex and turns it into a concept album. It was at this time that she released her controversial Sex book, and presumably with this album she pushed a lot of boundaries for mainstream pop. Looking at the track list, I think I only know four of the fourteen songs, so I’ll be hoping once again for a few new gems. There’s no sense in waiting any further, lets strip off and get down to business.

Erotica‘ opens with record static, followed by quite tribal beats, heavy percussion and spoken lyrics. There’s a bit of Jungle Boogie in there, a heavily experimental sound unlike anything she had displayed before. The verse lyrics are good, lots of innuendo, but little melody – the chorus switches things by focusing on melody and dropping the lyrical intensity. I remember being not 100% fond of this one at the time, but I appreciate it more now. It does seem a little long, if only from a single perspective, but maybe the single version was cut down a bit.

Fever‘ is of course a cover. When I looked at this on the track list I couldn’t quite remember if this was a cover or one of her own which I couldn’t recall, but as soon as the song started I remembered hearing it. I’ve never been a huge fan of any version of this song, but I suppose this is as good as any, with a bit of New Jack, and a bit of club. There isn’t enough going on to warrant the five minute running time and it does feel dull and dated, even if the beat is infectious.

Bye Bye Baby‘ has similar drum beats to the previous songs, so there is a consistency. Unfortunately this sound feels dated now and reminds me of Vanilla Ice or PJ and Duncan or some such balls. Madonna does sound different, adopting a vicious Betty Boop persona and voice. Good production, lots going on, but it is dated. What excites me? The little pieces of synth which threaten to grow, but then they go away. Lyrics are okay, but melodically it’s poor and doesn’t grab the attention. Surprise end.

Deeper And Deeper‘ opens with a mix of synth and piano before dance beats come in to make us know where we stand. I was always a bit partial to this and even 9-10 year old me would have danced around the house to it like a weirdo, but again it has dated badly. A return to better hooks. An updated version of this one (there’s probably one out there) would presumably improve matters. It feels quite long, but there is some variance with the Spanish instruments joining the din. Vogue surprise.

Where Life Begins‘ starts a little differently – light on percussion, high on instrumental tinkering. This is momentary as a sultry beat soon takes over as Madonna whispers about her special area. It does manage to sound sexy and interesting, not tacky. Some of the lyrics are a bit on the nose (matron), others are funny, but I think I quite like this one. At least she’s being direct, most pop music now which deals with sex does so in a roundabout way or just dives in like cheap porn.

Bad Girl‘ has a slow beat and twinkling piano, before a heavier beat comes in over some delicate melodies and thoughtful, thought-provoking lyrics. I don’t remember ever hearing this one so it’s another surprise. Not the most memorable song but good enough on the first listen.

Waiting‘ is another song which tips past the 5 minute mark, and it’s another bass and drums laden track. I appreciate the length of the songs as this hints at ignoring the standard 3-4 pop single standard and doing whatever the hell she wants. Of course, sometimes songs need to be 3-4 minutes. This one tries to be sultry, has more spoken vocals and is low on melody aside from the chorus, so it feels like forgettable mid-album stuff. Again, there is a certain amount of variance, great production, but I’m not a huge fan of the drum and bass heavy stuff. This has good moments, not enough though.

Thief Of Hearts‘ has more Twin Peaks synths at the start before a series of faster beats take the lead. It’s another I haven’t heard, the drums are a little too weak here, there is some dated stuff, but I like the energy, the dark atmosphere which the synth brings, and the melodies. There’s another couple of R’n’B breakdown in the middle with something not quite rap emerging, leading to some comedy swearing and the final verse, chorus run which threatens to run out of steam.

Words‘ opens like a movie about an apocalyptic wasteland, the silence suddenly broken by a mass desert orgy/rave. It’s another which relies to heavily on the beat and that’s something I personally am not very interested in. Some of the sounds are annoying here, but again there are good moments – snippets of melody, a few lyrics here and there. This one is definitely overdone and almost 6 minutes long, not adding enough variance to justify that length.

Rain‘ has always been one of my favourite Madonna songs – I loved it upon release, and I’ve gone back to it several times over the years. Musically, it’s a massive departure from the rest of the album, but in terms of lyrics, tone, and atmosphere it retains the darkness, sadness, and anger. The opening begins in the same vein, with prominent beats before flowering into a luscious ballad. I’m listening now to the album version and wondering if the single was a little different. I must check on that. There are a few unnecessary instrument and sound choices which should have been dropped in favour of a more streamlined approach.

Why’s It So Hard‘ has a slight rock edge, with guitar parts deep in the mix, but again at the core is the percussion. The central beat is slow, contrasted by the speedy vocals, and the lyrics question the issues preventing unity among people. It has a few catchy moments but like quite a few of the songs on this album it lacks your standard immediate pop chorus. This one does feel stretched, again meandering past five minutes.

In This Life‘ is one which goes behind 6 minutes, so it better be good. An uppy downy line opens things, with some drunken piano playing simplistic, repetitive notes while Madonna sings melodies which don’t seem to sync with the music. It creates a hypnotic tone and once it comes together for the chorus it feels powerful. It’s obviously a personal lyric, I must say I prefer the vocal melody to the verse piano antics. It is overlong, but the spoken word parts do well, as they do for the most part on the rest of the album, and I usually don’t like spoken parts on songs.

Did You Do It‘ begins with some mumbled spoken parts, then the same old horns and percussive beat begins. Some guy begins rapping and this one for a change actually sounds quite modern. Madonna only comes in for the chorus (which seems to be a reprise), a lot of the lyrics are funny, explicit, and it feels like this could have been a single (if they’d been able to get away with the lyrics). It’s quite interesting to include this, as so much of the album is a woman’s perspective of sex and love while this is clearly from the man’s side. What does it mean with respect to the rest of the album – mocking the male approach to sex? Showing that men and women aren’t that different in terms of sex?

Secret Garden‘ opens with piano and some sort of throbbing beat. The drums come in which sound a little Beatles and a little Massive Attack. And she’s singing about her special area again. More whispered verse vocals, more melodic chorus. The vocals are a little too low so I can’t make everything out. Jazz interlude.

This was clearly groundbreaking stuff and there are some very good songs here, but much of it feels dated and I’m not a huge fan of the same beat and percussive style which is used on almost every track. Having said that, there are nods to a wide array of genres – jazz, rock, but at it’s core this is a thinking person’s dance record – introspective yet shamelessly extrovert, personal yet universal, and isn’t frightened to lay opinions bare or question taboo, or expose itself. With more musical variance in terms of production and instrumentation, I think I would have enjoyed this more – on several occasions the melody or idea is sacrificed for the sake of mood or beat, something which works best in small doses – here is as as unsubtle and all-pervading as someone walking into your room in a gimp suit. Even with it being dated musically, the ideas are fresh and challenging and it is clear that Madonna the artist was operating on a level apart from any of her supposed peers.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Madonna’s Erotica – were you there when it was released, what is your favourite song from the album, and where do you rank the album alongside her other releases?

Carry On Dick: You have a large penis!

Hi. This is a continuation of the ‘popular’ British sitcom from the 60s- ‘Dicks’ and features a crossover with The Royal Shakespeare Company’s successful series of carrion films. ‘Dicks’ was about a group of rather annoying lads living on a typical council estate in England (Chelsea) who spend their time drinking Buckfast and standing on your garden causing a general nuisance, whilst Carry On follows a group of rather annoying people who are variously horny and who get into assorted scrapes which result in all manner of doobla entendres. There were so many episodes of this series that I’m not sure which one this one was about, so I’ll just ‘Carry On’ and see what happens- ha ha!(Dick)

In this one, our heroes have just returned from a sexy camping trip in Skegness and the men are well and truly spent, having satisfied their wicked urges- Rick James satisfied his urge with Baps Windsor, Kenneth Wimyams satisfied his urge with his self, Franklin Howard satisfied his urge all over Joan (the) Sims, whilst the thin, sickly one satisfied himself on an upturned tent spike- Arrgh Matron! Suffice it to say, the man are in no need for any more sordid incidents, but the women, having only had their arousals roused, need more- hence the title. They wish to Carry On, but the men can’t stands no more and the men’s little men can’t stands at all. The women have heard that there are rather frisky, impure, rather annoying men in a local council estate, so they make their merry way round the corner in search of the Dicks to satisfy themselves. For ease of reference, I have made a list of some of the Dicks:

Simon Cowell, Chad Kruegger (Freddy’s brother from Nicklesack), the ones from the US Spin Off- Jersy Shore, Alec Fergison, et all.

There are many other Dicks in this episode such as Jimmy (I’ll) Nail (ye) and (St.) Nicholas Lindhurts who appeared in the original series, and suffice it to say, all of them end up giving and receiving mouth gifts in the final forty minute lurgee scene. In the end, Sid Jims and crew turn up realizing that their women have absconded and squeeze all the Dicks between their hands until they pop. It was quite a violent end and suffice it to say, it was the penultimate and final episode in the series before the last few new episodes began daily over the next few years.

Best Scene: Once again, the screen writers created a wonderful ensemble of character names, such as Gloria Stitz, Clint Oris, Hugh Jukok, Ian Us, Simon Cowell, Slapt Ass, Anne O’Gasim, Phil McCracken, Dougie Style, Tug Mashlong, and of course the triplets- Suk Mi, Phuk Mi, and Dave.

Priceless

Pierre Salvadori’s Priceless is a modern, more cynical version of Breakfast At Tiffany’s – the location moved to opulent Southern France, and Audrey Hepburn has been replaced by the equally gorgeous and engaging Audrey Tautou. She plays a money hungry legacy chaser, a young and intelligent, pretty woman who stalks ridiculously wealthy older men, seducing them into becoming their sugar daddy. She is one of an elite group who haunts this area, and similar places throughout the world, and she will stop at nothing to make sure her life is not taken away. Gad Elmaleh (the funniest man in France) plays a hardworking waiter/barman/doorman/hotel employee extraordinaire in this extravagant place, also serving never being served. A series of events lead to Tautou’s character believing Elmaleh’s to be one of the elite she pursues, and enchanted by her he plays along. Soon the truth is revealed- Tautou leaves in search of another, and Gad is left with nothing. Naturally, he loves her and follows her, and so begins a gently funny and clever series of games where the viewer roots for the inept couple to finally get together.

Normally i am not a fan of romantic comedies, but I am a big fan of Audrey Tautou. She is versatile, always charming, always entertaining, always managing to lift what would otherwise be average films. Here she plays to her most popular strengths – her cute smile and sparkle in her eye meaning she is concocting some mischievous scheme, her dialogue delivery letting her character be at the same time strong willed and vulnerable. She is given a clever script to work with, and her character is an opportunistic schemer. Elmaleh is on familiar territory here, and he does his best Basil Fawlty routine, though he is a more likable character. He gets to perform some Buster Keaton-esque scenes, all the time enamouring the audience to him. We root for him because he is a loser. He want him to succeed because he has thrown away what little he had on an unlikely chance at love. The chemistry between the two is strong, and it is almost an inversion of Tautou and Kassovitz from Amelie. With the surprises in the script alongside these performances, the film already rises above the rubbish that is usual in the genre.

Salvadori, as well as getting the best from the film’s stars, gets to show off the scenery of Southern France and gives everything the gleam of wealth and beauty. Of course, all of this is hollow and ultimately all we want is for the characters to get away together. Although the film has little depth, the script fills the holes and it takes a talent to turn a character who is little more than a hooker and thief into someone we can care about. With moments reminiscent of Heartbreakers, Priceless is above all a heart-warming film like Amelie that will make even the most cynical hermit believe in romance.

As always, feel free to leave any comments on the movie and the review: Is this up there with Amelie, or should we stop making such comparisons?

Oh Yeah

The Boss Of It All

The Boss Of It All

With his latest film(review originally written a few years ago), Lars Von Trier shows us his lighter side albeit with his trademark weirdness and use of new directorial techniques. The Boss Of It All is the story of a man in a situation he has little or no grasp of, and the fun lies in how he handles himself when surrounding by unusual problems. Although, this being Von Trier, there is more going on than such a basic plot- The director himself interrupts the story at several points, giving the film the feeling of a ‘play within a play’. He is running the show for us, while the characters of Ravn and Svend try to run the show (in a dramatic and theatrical way) for their employees. To distance us further from a film with an everyday, realistic setting, Von trier makes sure every character is slightly unhinged (though endearing)and uses a camera technique known as Automavision. This (explained more fully on the DVD) is a technique whereby a camera is placed, a button on a computer is clicked, and the camera will pan, move, and zoom randomly within a shot, without the director having any influence. Some may say this is gimmicky, even lazy- taking away the director’s skill, but it adds to the absurdity the film- characters talking off screen, suddenly cuts and movements, and the camera framing only part of someone’s body. These restrictions are frequent in his work, and throughout the film there are self-referential moments- one character mentions live being like a Dogma film.

Ravn is the owner of a small, succesful IT company in Denmark. He is greedy though, and wants to sell to an Icelandic buyer and at the same time make sure that he gets all the credit and earnings from his employees’ work over the years. However, none of his co-workers know that he is the owner, and in order for the deal to take place, there must be an owner. He hires his friend Svend, a failed actor and lover of the mysterious Gambini to play the role of The Boss Of It All who after years of absence has decided to show his face. So far, so Shakespeare. Svend has no idea about IT, management, or indeed what his character is like or is supposed to have said or done in the past. This causes most of the laughs in the film. Little goes according to plan, and soon Svend grows to like his workers and doesn’t want to see them exploited.

The film has many zany and ironic moments, mostly to do with the work-place. Buzz-words are thrown about in such a way to show how silly they are (I am only too aware of 80-20 syndrome). Team meetings are shown as almost worthless, workers get screwed over repeatedly, and above it all is a Boss who just wants to be Your Friend- a big, cuddly bear, though he has done nothing to deserve it. Each of the characters is acted to perfection, and they all have their amusing quirks- from Mr ‘Autumn is muggy’ to Mrs ‘Scream when the photocopier starts’. They are all likeable, and for a comedy of this nature that is important. By the end of the film, with it’s slightly unexpected ending, Von Trier gives a little summary of the two ways we may feel when it is over; he was right.

The DVD contains a brief interview section, notes on Automavision, a gallery, and an interesting short film. For fans of European cinema, or offbeat comedies, this is sure to please. Von Trier fans may be split- it is not as dark or controversial as some previous films which people may or may not be happy about- but it is definately more accessible than some other efforts. If that means he finds a wider audience, then it can only be good.