Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Top 5 Cover Versions

I love a good cover version, sometimes a great song can be given a whole new perspective and sometimes a shit one can be given a new lease of life.

1. "Have Love Will Travel" The Sonics original by Richard Berry - Mr Berry wrote a huge number of songs that ended up being bigger hits for other performers and this is possibly one of his most covered songs. There are loads of great versions out there but this one by The Sonics takes my breath away. A great fuzzed up rock sound that is hard to believe was recorded in 1965.

2. "Mercy Seat" Johnny Cash original by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Johnny Cash has a huge catalogue of wonderful cover versions especially those recorded in the last 10 years or so with Rick Rubin under the American Recordings banner. This is for me the stand out cover though. A cracking song about a man about to be fried in the electric chair, Cash's vocal actually makes you believe he is that man in the chair. Powerful stuff.

3. "The Model" Big Black original by Kraftwerk - Big Black are a noisy hardcore band from Chicago, Kraftwerk are an electronica act from Germany. It shouldn't work but it does.

4. "Pictures of Matchstick Men" Camper van Beethoven original by Status Quo - A psychedelic pop song that Francis Rossi wrote on the loo and became The Quo's first single. Camper van Beethoven turned it into an College Rock favourite and achieved their highest selling album.

5. "Colombian Necktie" The Charles Napiers original by Big Black - Big Black were hardly shrinking violets yet somehow, Britain's premier Mondo Wray instrumental combo, make it even heavier and louder.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Top 5 Carry On films

I haven't had much time of late to update this. I'm going to try a bit harder to at least post once a week from now on.

Carry On films then, I'm always a bit surprised when I find out other people don't like them as much as I do. I guess that, much like Bond, I grew up with Carry On films and they caught me at an impressionable age before I could pick up my "cool gland". Actually, to be honest, I never did develop that "cool gland" which probably goes a long way to explaining many of my Top 5 choices. Anyway, Carry On films will always be, for me, a glorious institution, mining that rich vein of farce, puns and double entendres that is peculiarly British.

Here's my favourites;

1. Carry On Cabby (1963) - The first of the Carry On films written by Talbot Rothwell who was screenwriter throughout the "classic" period of the films. Hattie Jacques launches an all female Cab company to rival her husband's (Sid James) firm. Liz Fraser is one of many busty beautiful blonds. A glorious ending as hundreds of Cabs converge on a field to capture a group of crooks.

2. Carry On Up The Khyber (1968) - All the regulars now well and truly established, this is possibly the ultimate Carry On film. Kenneth Williams plays Rhandi Lal, the Khasi of Kalabar attempting to incite a rebellion against the the Devils in Skirts after Private Widdle (Charles Hawtrey) is found wearing underpants after an encounter with Bungdit Din (Bernard Bresslaw). This made the BFI's top 100 films in 1999. How can you not find this stuff funny?

3. Carry On Cleo (1964) - Another historical parody in which the Romans invade a wet and miserable Britain. Kenneth Williams (as Julius Caesar) does his stuff as various people attempt to kill him off, resulting in the famous "Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me!". Amanda Barry is gorgeous as Queen Cleopatra.

4. Carry On Camping (1969) - The film's tone is set early on when Sid takes his wife (Joan Simms), best pal (Bresslaw) and best pal's girlfriend (Dilys Laye) to see a film about nudist camping. Joan is not impressed "You told me this film was all about camping!" to which Sid replies "It is, those are tents aren't they?". Famous for the Barbara Windsor bra-popping scene on which she based her entire career.

5. Carry On Sergeant (1958) - The first Carry On film, and very different from the films made at it's zenith. A more subtle romantic comedy starring Bob Monkhouse and Shirley Eaton (of Goldfinger fame). Kenneth Williams did appear though he was only paid £800 for his role as James Bailey.

A footnote about Carry On Screaming which is reputed to be one of the best of the series. For one reason or another I've failed to see yet but as soon as I do I'll add an update to this list. Check out The Whippit Inn or the official Carry On site if you want to know more about the series.