Wednesday, 25 March 2015

50 years of tunes - 1974 - Genesis "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway"

This didn't used to be my favourite Genesis album but has grown in my affection over the years. If you're not a fan of Prog or Genesis then The Lamb is definitely not for you. Individually most of the songs are quite short but as an album it is long & took me ages to get to grips with. I think it's worth the effort though, it has hidden charms I'm still discovering now.

1974 - Genesis "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway"

Released: November 1974
Label: Charisma
Producer: John Burns, Genesis

Side one:
1. "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway"
2. "Fly on a Windshield"
3. "Broadway Melody of 1974"
4. "Cuckoo Cocoon"
5. "In the Cage"
6. "The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging"

Side two:
1. "Back in N.Y.C."
2. "Hairless Heart"
3. "Counting Out Time"
4. "The Carpet Crawlers"
5. "The Chamber of 32 Doors"

Side three:
1. "Lilywhite Lilith"
2. "The Waiting Room"
3. "Anyway"
4. "Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist"
5. "The Lamia"
6. "Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats"

Side four:
1. "The Colony of Slippermen"
a) "The Arrival"
b) "A Visit to the Doktor"
c) "Raven"
2. "Ravine"
3. "The Light Dies Down on Broadway"
4. "Riding the Scree"
5. "In the Rapids"
6. "It"


Friday, 20 March 2015

Top 5 Terry Pratchett Novels

I was really sad to hear about the passing of Sir Terry Pratchett last week. I read a lot of his books in the early nineties but nowhere near all of them. I was reading the Discworld series in chronological order, hence the cluster of dates, but gave up after realising he was writing them quicker than I could read them. Putting this together makes me feel I should pick up some of the books I've missed. If you're anywhere near reading all of them you're welcome to add you're own top five in the comments, it might even focus my future reading efforts.

1. Mort (1987) - Death has appeared in nearly every Discworld novel, sometimes only for a few lines, but Mort was the first novel where the story revolved around him. Death decides to take a holiday and employs Mort as his apprentice. Things don't go particularly well. Death is a wonderfully matter-of-fact character, which is a pretty good way of thinking about the concept really. All of Death's dialogue are printed in SMALL CAPITALS WHICH IS A SIMPLE BUT EFFECTIVE WAY OF ADDING TO THE HUMOUR. I got my Mum to read this one, she didn't really get it but it's the book I'd recommend for anyone new to Sir Terry.

2. Good Omens (1990) - The only non-Discworld novel on my list this was co-written with another of my favourite authors, Neil Gaimen. Good Omens is a comedy about the birth of the son of Satan. Having become accustomed to their lives on Earth the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley try to avert the end of the world. A shame that Pratchett & Gaimen didn't collaborate on another story but I do like the fact this remains a standalone story. It even features a cameo from Death.

3. Wyrd Sisters (1988) - Wyrd Sisters sees the return of Granny Weatherwax, from Equal Rites, alongside the equally formidable Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick. Three Witches, bubbling cauldrons and the ghost of a dead king - a few deliberate echoes of Shakespeare - all make for a great story. Granny Weatherwax is probably my second favourite Discworld character. Equal Rites was the first Discworld novel that really clicked for me and this book takes the Witches idea a little further.

4. Small Gods (1992) - A satire on religious institutions and their role in politics. A book that marked something of a shift in Pratchett's writing style to tackle weightier themes, though still managing to cram in more jokes in one book than most authors manage in their career.

5. Guards! Guards! (1989) - The first of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch stories. The City Watch are a largely ineffectual Police group who generally choose to avoid trouble rather than prevent it. This changes with the arrival of Carrot Ironfoundersson who turns them into a slightly less ineffectual Police group.


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

50 years of tunes - 1973 - Status Quo "Hello"

There always has to be Status Quo in these lists and Hello! has long been my favourite Quo studio album.

1973 - Status Quo "Hello"

Released: September 1973
Label: Vertigo
Producer: Status Quo

Side one:
1. "Roll Over Lay Down" (Rossi/Parfitt/Lancaster/Coghlan/Young)
2. "Claudie" (Francis Rossi/Bob Young)
3. "A Reason for Living" (Francis Rossi/Rick Parfitt)
4. "Blue Eyed Lady" (Rick Parfitt/Alan Lancaster)

Side two:
1. "Caroline" (Francis Rossi/Bob Young)
2. "Softer Ride" (Rick Parfitt/Alan Lancaster)
3. "And It's Better Now" (Francis Rossi/Bob Young)
4. "Forty-Five Hundred Times" (Francis Rossi/Rick Parfitt)


Friday, 13 March 2015

Chop's Gigs - Feb 2015

Unusually my intention to ease back on the gigs has been pretty solid, my last being back at the beginning of December but then I guess January is rarely a packed month for touring bands. I managed to sneak two in before the end of Feb though and have some plans for March & April.

Queen Kwong, Upstairs at The Garage 20th Feb 2015 - My first gig of the year and it's a chance to meet a group of my Twitter pals for the first time. This was a free gig at one of my favourite venues with a stellar backing band.

The Wave Pictures at the 100 Club Wednesday 25th Feb 2015 - I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to finally see The Wave Pictures live. I love gigs at the 100 club so I'm always keen to see bands I like play here. It's elongated stage can sometimes make for awkward viewing but it feels like a proper venue, has some lovely staff and oozes history.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

50 years of tunes - 1972 - Nick Drake "Pink Moon"

I've written about this album a couple of times already. I only really got to grips with Nick Drake in the last 10 years but really love all his work now. Pink Moon was his third and final studio album, it made number 3 in my Top 50 Albums of the Seventies and is one of my favourite albums of all time. Whilst still a folk album at heart, the album benefits from sparse production that gives the tunes space to shine. Nick's voice is fragile but captivating and the instruments recorded so clearly you can hear detail like the twang of the strings.

1972 - Nick Drake "Pink Moon"

Released: February 1972
Label: Island
Producer: John Wood

Side one:
1. "Pink Moon"
2. "Place to Be"
3. "Road"
4. "Which Will"
5. "Horn"
6. "Things Behind the Sun"

Side two:
7. "Know"
8. "Parasite"
9. "Free Ride"
10. "Harvest Breed"
11. "From the Morning"


Wednesday, 4 March 2015

50 years of tunes - 1971 - Jethro Tull "Aqualung"

I struggled to pick one album from '71. Quite a few I like a lot but difficult to pick one above the others. I recently got into Bowie and Hunky Dory is a corker, while The Yes Album has long been my favourite, err, Yes album. But, you probably know, I REALLY like Jethro Tull.

Aqualung is Tull's most famous album but deservedly so. It's much more than the well known title track (and spectacular riff) that opens side one and manages to blend their blues roots with a more progressive edge without sounding overblown. The short acoustic tunes help pull it all together for me and provide a nice element of contrast with the heavier rockier tracks.

1971 - Jethro Tull "Aqualung"

Released: March 1971
Label: Chrysalis
Producer: Ian Anderson, Terry Ellis

Side one: Aqualung
1. "Aqualung" (Ian Anderson, Jennie Anderson)
2. "Cross-Eyed Mary"
3. "Cheap Day Return"
4. "Mother Goose"
5. "Wond'ring Aloud"
6. "Up to Me"

Side two: My God
1. "My God"
2. "Hymn 43"
3. "Slipstream"
4. "Locomotive Breath"
5. "Wind-Up"

All songs written by Ian Anderson except where stated.


Wednesday, 25 February 2015

50 years of tunes - 1970 - The Stooges "Funhouse"

Time for a bit more Proto-Punk, their debut album missed out to the Tull but their second is phenomenal. I was lucky enough to see the reformed line-up perform the entire album, in order, at the Hammersmith Odeon back in 2005, a gig that remains one of the best I've seen.

1970 - The Stooges "Funhouse"

Released: July 1968
Label: Elektra
Producer: Don Gallucci

Side one:
1. "Down on the Street"
2. "Loose"
3. "T.V. Eye"
4. "Dirt"

Side two:
5. "1970"
6. "Fun House"
7. "L.A. Blues"


Wednesday, 18 February 2015

50 years of tunes - 1969 - Jethro Tull "Stand Up"

Tull are one of my favourite bands. They're a little different from the rest of the seventies prog crowd and have a sound that is very much their own. Stand Up is Tull's second album, their first with long term guitar player Martin Barre and the moment they really began to leave their Progressive Blues origins behind and began to really find their feet.

1969 - Jethro Tull "Stand Up"

Released: September 1969
Label: Island
Producer: Ian Anderson & Terry Ellis

Side one:
1. "A New Day Yesterday"
2. "Jeffrey Goes to Leicester Square"
3. "Bourée" (instrumental, J. S. Bach arr. Anderson)
4. "Back to the Family"
5. "Look into the Sun"

Side two:
6. "Nothing is Easy"
7. "Fat Man"
8. "We Used to Know"
9. "Reasons for Waiting"
10. "For a Thousand Mothers"


Friday, 13 February 2015

70 Favourite Films

Inspired by some list makers on Twitter I decided to do a list of my favourite films of all time. I didn't quite have enough for 100 and didn't want to drop any out to make it 50 so compromised on the slightly unusual number of 70. I love films but know I have some pretty glaring omissions (I've still not watched The Vikings before you ask!) so figured I'd list them in chronological order so you can let me know what I need to see.

1931 - City Lights (Chaplin)
1939 - The Lady Vanishes (Hitchcock)
1944 - Arsenic and Old Lace (Capra)
1949 - Kind Hearts and Coronets (Hamer)
1949 - Passport to Pimlico (Cornelius)
1951 - The Lavender Hill Mob (Crichton)
1954 - Seven Samurai (Kurusawa)
1954 - Rear Window (Hitchcock)
1958 - Touch of Evil (Welles)
1958 - Vertigo (Hitchcock)
1959 - Some Like It Hot (Wilder)
1959 - Twelve Angry Men (Lumet)
1959 - North by North West (Hitchcock)
1959 - School for Scoundrels (Hamer)
1960 - The Apartment (Wilder)
1962 - To Kill A Mockingbird (Mulligan)
1963 - Carry On Cabby (Thomas)
1964 - Goldfinger (Hamilton)
1966 - Farenheit 451 (Truffaut)
1968 - Carry On Up The Khyber (Thomas)
1969 - The Italian Job (Collinson)
1971 - French Connection (Friedkin)
1972 - The Godfather (Copolla)
1973 - Mean Streets (Scorcese)
1974 - The Godfather II (Copolla)
1974 - Dog Day Afternoon (Lumet)
1974 - The Taking of Pelham 123 (Sargent)
1975 - French Connection II (Frankenheimer)
1977 - Star Wars (Lucas)
1977 - Annie Hall (Allen)
1979 - Alien (R.Scott)
1980 - The Shining (Kubrick)
1980 - The Blues Brothers (Landis)
1980 - The Empire Strikes Back (Kershner)
1980 - Raging Bull (Scorcese)
1980 - Restless Natives (Forsyth)
1980 - The Long Good Friday (Mackenzie)
1981 - Blade Runner (R.Scott)
1984 - Paris, Texas (Wenders)
1984 - This Is Spinal Tap (Reiner)
1985 - Ran (Kurusawa)
1987 - Raising Arizona (Coens)
1990 - Goodfellas (Scorcese)
1991 - Thelma & Louise (R.Scott)
1992 - Reservoir Dogs (Tarantino)
1993 - True Romance (T.Scott)
1993 - Three Colours: Blue (Kieslowski)
1994 - Three Colours: White (Kieslowski)
1994 - Three Colours: Red (Kieslowski)
1994 - Pulp Fiction (Tarantino)
1994 - Leon (Besson)
1994 - The Shawshank Redemption (Darabont)
1994 - Ed Wood (Burton)
1995 - The Usual Suspects (Singer)
1996 - Fargo (Coens)
1996 - Trainspotting (Boyle)
1996 - Trees Lounge (Buscemi)
1997 - LA Confidential (Hanson)
1997 - Boogie Nights (Anderson)
1999 - Fight Club (Fincher)
1999 - Magnolia (Anderson)
1999 - Jackie Brown (Tarantino)
2001 - The Man Who Wasn't There (Coens)
2001 - Black Hawk Down (R.Scott)
2002 - City of God (Meirelles/Lund)
2005 - Sin City (Rodriguez/Miller)
2005 - Hidden [Cache] (Haneke)
2007 - The Departed (Scorsese)
2007 - No Country For Old Men (Coens)
2010 - Monsters (Edwards)
2012 - Amour (Haneke)

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

50 years of tunes - 1968 - Johnny Cash "At Folsom Prison"

Johnny Cash is one of my favourite artists and you won't find a better example of why than this album, the first of his live prison albums. It's also one of my favourite live albums, the connection Cash makes with the inmates is palpable and many of the songs sound better in this form than the original studio recordings.

1968 - Johnny Cash "At Folsom Prison"

Released: May 1968
Label: Columbia
Producer: Bob Johnston

Side one:
1. "Folsom Prison Blues" (Johnny Cash)
2. "Dark as a Dungeon" (Merle Travis)
3. "I Still Miss Someone" (J. Cash, Roy Cash Jr.)
4. "Cocaine Blues" (T.J. Arnall)
5. "25 Minutes to Go" (Shel Silverstein)
6. "Orange Blossom Special" (Ervin T. Rouse)
7. "The Long Black Veil" (Marijohn Wilkin, Danny Dill)

Side two:
1. "Send a Picture of Mother" (J.Cash)
2. "The Wall" (Harlan Howard)
3. "Dirty Old Egg-Suckin' Dog" (Jack H. Clement)
4. "Flushed From the Bathroom of Your Heart" (J.Clement)
5. "Jackson" with June Carter (Billy Edd Wheeler, Jerry Leiber)
6. "Give My Love to Rose" with June Carter (J.Cash)
7. "I Got Stripes" (J.Cash, Charlie Williams)
8. "Green, Green Grass of Home" (Curly Putman)
9. "Greystone Chapel" (Glen Sherley)