Friday, 26 August 2011

Top 5 Film Trilogies

This was quite a struggle. As soon as I started to list out possible contender's I realised there are very few examples where all three films are genuinely good. There were so many trilogies with two great films and a hokey third that I had to ease up on my quality control. I was also surprised to find how few trilogies were made before 1960. I was hoping to pick a decent collection of Ealing comedies (St. Trinian's came close) or a classic spy thriller (Bond was always intended as a series I think and the Harry Palmer films didn't quite cut it). In the end I settled for the trios below. Maybe not perfect but all films I've enjoyed and would, for the most part, happily watch again.

1. Star Wars Original Trilogy - I'm undoubtedly biased in my opinion about how good the first three Star Wars movies are. I was 8 or 9 when the first film came out and it invaded my imagination. Empire was and is the best middle film ever made. A great movie in it's own right but it builds from first film's plot and sets up the final film in the same way those 1950s Flash Gordon TV shows used to. Return of the Jedi is the weak link in the pile. I've never quite accepted the Ewoks (they SHOULD have been Wookies!) but perhaps I being harsher than I need to be.

1. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
Dir: George Lucas

2. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Dir: Irvin Kershner

3. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
Dir: Richard Marquand

2. Three Colours Trilogy - This might be the closest you'll get to the perfect trilogy, though I appreciate they won't be everyone's cup of tea. I actually watched them specifically for this top five. That says more about my obsessive need to have a well balanced list than I really want to admit to but I'm glad that I did. All three have their own individual stories that only subtly intertwine, but there's a beauty about the cinematography and a consistency in the story telling that pulls them all together.

1. Three Colours: Blue (1993) Dir: Krzysztof Kieślowski
2. Three Colours: White (1994) Dir: Krzysztof Kieślowski
3. Three Colours: Red (1995) Dir: Krzysztof Kieślowski

3. The Dollars Trilogy (aka The Man with No Name Trilogy) - Sergio Leone made his name with this trio of Clint Eastwood films, and changed the shape of Westerns in the process. They still have a quality I find enticing. Very little happens in the form of plot or characterisation but you find yourself drawn into the story.

1. A Fistful of Dollars (1964) Dir: Sergio Leone
2. For a Few Dollars More (1965) Dir: Sergio Leone
3. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) Dir: Sergio Leone

4. The Godfather - Francis Ford Copella's "Godfather" trilogy is a prime example of the two classic films, one turkey anomaly I mentioned in the intro. I'd place both the first two films pretty high in my all time favourite movie list but the third fails to live up to the same standard. This was actually the first trilogy in my top five and then the first trilogy cut. But having recently re-watched the third part I decided that, whilst on it's own it is not a great watch, it isn't as bad as I first thought and successfully brings the story cycle to an appropriate close.

1. The Godfather (1972) Dir: Francis Ford Coppola
2. The Godfather part II (1974) Dir: Francis Ford Coppola
3. The Godfather part III (1990) Dir: Francis Ford Coppola

5. Mad Max Trilogy - Probably at fault for inflicting Mel Gibson on the world but, for me, the most consistent of the sci-fi trilogies I grew up with (Alien, Predator, Terminator). The first film is a glorious low budget cult classic and definitely my favourite of the series. The second movie benefits from a bigger budget but still retains the look and feel of the first. The third maybe gets a little carried away with the additional funding generated by the second but just about maintains the quality.

1. Mad Max (1979) Dir: George Miller
2. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) Dir: George Miller
3. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) Dir: George Miller & George Ogilvie


Friday, 19 August 2011

Top 5 Drummers who also Sang

Watching the recent BBC coverage of Glastonbury I was enjoying Primal Scream playing their Screamadelica album and got to pondering how many other drummers had gone on to be better known for doing something else. Having racked my brains for all of ten minutes I could only think of drummers who became singers. I'm not sure why this is but there's enough examples to suggest most drummers secretly harbour the desire to be the front person in the band. Let's see if I can get through this without mentioning Phil Collins.

1. Bobby Gillespie - I'm not a very cool person. On a scale of 1 to 11 I'd be struggling to make 1, Bobby Gillespie is off the scale. Not satisfied with playing drums on "Psychocandy" the seminal debut album from the Jesus & Mary Chain he was also vocalist and main man in Primal Scream. Prior to this success he also briefly roadied for Altered Images. I am extremely jealous of his career choices. To be honest I'd have been satisfied carrying Clare Grogan's maracas around.

2. Karen Carpenter - My Mum & Dad's record collection was chock full of Carpenter's albums so I grew up with their melodic but slightly syrupy sound. I love them though. I think some of those tunes are just ingrained in my psyche and Karen's voice is truly beautiful. I love the fact that she considered herself a drummer who sang. People who have greater musical understanding than I do have suggested she was an excellent drummer too. A sad loss but her star shone brightly whilst she was here.

3. Dave Grohl - Nicest man in rock. You don't need me to tell you but Grohl ensured his place in the history of rock by playing drums with Nirvana. He then went on to form Foo Fighters, another multi-million selling rock behemoth, with whom he played guitar and sand lead vocal. Dave can pretty much do what the hell he wants and has also been seen on the drum stool for Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures and thrash metal tribute Probot.

4. Calum Gunn & John Baille Jr - Two people but for the purpose of this post one entity. Calum & John started out alternating between drumming & lead vocal duties for the fight pop noise of Dananananaykroyd but as the gigs inevitably careered towards friendly chaos they'd end up both at the front of the stage. This led to them recruiting another drummer (Paul) to get on with the job of keeping time whilst John & Calum do what they do best in getting the audience to have a ball and cuddle each other.

5. Andy Sturmer - Lead vocalist and drummer with US power pop combo Jellyfish, Sturmer was also the bands main songwriter. Jellyfish were all about Beatles inspired harmonies and everyone in the band contributed. Sturmer was the main man though and played a stand-up drum kit at the front of the stage rather than be relegated to the shadows. After Jellyfish split he became involved in production and wrote a number of theme tunes for Cartoon Network including brilliant catchy efforts for Ben 10 and The Teen Titans.


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Guest Top 5 - My Top five ideas for Chop’s Top Fives that so far haven’t made the cut by 5olly

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Not content with wasting my own life by formulating top fives at every opportunity it seems I've started to spread the addiction. I can only apologise.

Here's 5olly again with his continuing efforts to post a proper top five (originally posted here).

A recent addition to my already overwhelmed RSS feed and Twitter stream, Chop’s Top Fives has suddenly and puzzlingly ruined my stream of consciousness. Possibly for good… The blog is pretty much a basic idea, it’s simply write a Top 5 list. Easy! I hear you cry! Except it’s not, you can write about anything, absolutely anything, but what should I write about?

I’ve turned into a complete list addict. To compound it all Chop (or Dave Harris as he is more commonly known) has actually already added a Top 5 created by myself, and invited me to do some more, which I find utterly bemusing. If you read my post, there are grammatical errors, it doesn’t ‘read well’, and it’s basically the result of writing in a hurry, whilst hungover and wishing for a cup of tea and ciggie. All of this is mentioned, but possibly not clearly enough. I’m embarrassed by it, which makes me only want to do some more, only this time I’d like to do it proper like, you know?

Which leads on to my next problem. What on earth should I write about? I want each post to be informative, interesting and hopefully funny. And as some of my friends know, there have been several discussions in various public houses for topics and here are the Top 5 list which for some reason don’t quite cut it in my opinion. I should add that they might not necessarily be my own. Or any good.

1. Top 5 people I know or have met called Dave Harris

Obviously this one was never going to work, mainly cos I’ve only ever known 3 different people called Dave Harris, which is a crying shame as I had a marvellous story about a Dave Harris at work who had a cat he wanted me to have called Comet. He also collected meteorites and had a funny voice.

2. Top 5 diseases

This one was going to be a winner when it was discussed in the pub. Mainly because we had an actual real live doctor in our group! I remember coming up with Ebola but all the other diseases that were discussed have disappeared from my mind. I blame booze. If anyone can remember what they all were then leave a comment.

3. Top 5 male celebrities who wore hair-pieces

I don’t remember why this popped into my head, but it did make for an enjoyable walk into work. I originally proposed it to be just British celebrities and drew up a list. Paul Daniels, Bruce Forsyth, Elton John and Terry Wogan. I needed a 5th one! After a brief discussion in the office it was brought to my attention that Terry Wogan wasn’t British and Elton John has always claimed that he had a hair transplant and never wore a wig to disguise his baldness. Damn. So I had 3.

I decided then that I might go for an international cast. Who could I add? Andre Agassi of course! He might possibly be one of the most successful wig wearers ever! Not only did he hide the fact for years, he did it with quite possibly the most outlandish mullet in sports history, and he even sprinted and dived around a tennis court at the same time. The man was a genius. How about Phil Spector! That man had some amazing wigs, but after a little googling I found out to my dismay that he wore wigs to disguise some massive scarring he received after a car crash. He wasn’t wearing wigs for vanity. It wasn’t funny anymore. The idea was scrapped.

4. Top 5 vegetables I am growing

Easy this one. Not. I started thinking about all the different beans I’ve been growing, the potatoes and the onions and shallots. The curcurbits are going mental and the corn is starting to grow ears. The radishes are forming seed pods to pickle and the cabbages are hearting up nicely. But hang on, I haven’t eaten any yet. How could I do a Top 5 without actually eating them? I could do spinach, but that just tastes like spinach. I could do blackberries but then I haven’t really done anything to grow them, they just grow wild up there. So no I’m unable to do this one yet, maybe in the autumn.

5. Top 5 songs I have had stuck in my head this week

I thought this one would be a doddle. All I had to do was make a note of every song after I realised it was stuck in my head and then write about my favourite ones. Easy. Except I don’t think I had an earworm this week at all. There was the one about the chicken, but that’s always stuck in my head…

So there you have it, another failure in the world of Chop’s Top Fives!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Micro Five - Readers Recommend Debut releases

Argh! School summer holidays and suddenly I don't have much time to knock up a proper top 5. Here's a half-hearted attempt to plug the gap with five debut releases I suggested for the Guardian's Reader's Recommend topic a few weeks back.

You need to get in early so nominations for "Suspect Device" by Stiff Little Fingers (I love SLF but I still think it's the best thing they ever did), "Blitzkreig Bop" by the Ramones and "Market Square Heroes" by Marillion had already been nabbed.

1. The Sonics "The Witch" - I'm on a one man crusade to make The Sonics more greatly appreciated. This was their debut single originally released in 1964 but then re-released backed with the equally brilliant "Psycho" as their second single in 1965. The Sonics were punk before their time, an undoubted influence on The Stooges and probably countless Garage Punk bands since. I don't have first hand experience of this release (I was born 4 years later) but discovered the band about 10 years ago via the amazing Ace records compilation "Pyscho-Sonic". Go and buy it now!

The Sonics "The Witch"

2. Dananananaykroyd "Totally Bone" - The video is a live version from a particularly wild gig at Hoxton Bar & Grill in 2009. I smashed my glasses to smithereens jumping along to them that night. The 'naykroyd are all about the live show. The most fun you can have with your clothes on. Totally Bone was their debut release from way back in something like 2005 when they were still just one of those bands you'd read about on Drowned In Sound. As the NME said they're "Like Shellac playing S Club 7 songs with the fun factor turned up to 11".

Dananananaykroyd "Totally Bone"

3. Brakes "Pick Up The Phone" - Brakes debut single which featured this song clocking in at 26 seconds, "Cheney" clocking in at 10 seconds and the epic "I Can't Stand to Stand Beside You" which breaks the 3 minute mark just to give you some value for your money. Brakes were formed to provide a platform for Eamonn Martin's acerbic songwriting skills. Formerly the keyboard player with British Sea Power he was backed by Thomas & Alex from Electric Soft Parade and Marc from Tenderfoot which gave the impression this was some sort of Indie supergroup. This first blast of Brakes nailed the band's raison d'etre. Fun times playing catchy tunes with socially aware lyrics. "Pick Up The Phone" is a call for the leaders of the world to sort out their differences by talking.

Brakes "Pick Up The Phone"

4. Godspeed You Black Emperor "F♯ A♯ ∞" - First proper album from GYBE (there was a cassette album released a few years earlier but with only 33 copies made I don't think that really counts). I knew very little about them when I first picked this up. All I'd seen were fuzzy photos in the NME and some intriguing reviews. Not music for people who need a tune they can hum, the three tracks on "F♯ A♯ ∞" are sparse and drawn out. The soundtrack to an apocalypse and therefore not surprisingly used as music for the film "28 Days Later".

Godspeed You Black Emperor "Dead Flag Blues"

5. Arcade Fire "Arcade Fire E.P." - Another band I knew by reputation long before I actually heard their music. The E.P. features the original version of long standing fan favourite "No Cars Go" as well as 6 other tracks of majestic brilliance.

Arcade Fire "No Cars Go"


Friday, 5 August 2011

Guest Top 5 - Sofa Woes by 5olly

I think 5olly is the funniest person on the internet. He tells me he's not being funny it's just true. Either way 5olly makes me laugh. His blog i'm still 5olly on the block is currently focused on watching the Channel 4 Top 100 War Movies and then blogging about them. This generally includes quite a bit of complaining about the lack of tanks. And swearing. It's funny and you should definitely read it.

5olly also suggested I needed a Submit Button to make contributing guest top fives more easy. He's right and whilst I didn't manage to create a funky button I have now added a Submit Top 5 link. It's over there
---> and down a bit.

Top 5 Reasons why I should get up off this sofa right now and NOT write this post.

1. Homebase sells shit

It's 8.10am. In 80 minutes I need to leave the house and walk to Homebase to buy some shit. Not any old shit, oh no. I need to buy horse shit. Obviously Homebase don't sell shit in small, easily carried bags so I have to meet my mate Mudrock. He is very special for two reasons. Firstly Mudrock is my fellow Co-Worker on the Allotment. Secondly he has a car. You can get a lot of of shit in a car especially if it's an estate. It is.

2. I need a cigarette

Many moons ago in my disgusting early-adulthood I would've gently leant over the side of my futon, being fully aware that one sharp move could induce a painful headache and then rummaged through my jeans pockets to find my roll-ups. Then I would've carefully rolled my own cigarette, ignoring my shaky hands. I was desperate for my fix. After a 4 minute search between the empty beer cans I would have discovered my lighter and gently inhaled those toxic fumes. These days I can't even be arsed to get up and go outside and smoke. And I have to get up and go outside. Now I'm an adult I have no choice. But with wisdom comes laziness.

3. I'm not dressed

Well technically I am dressed. I am in fact wearing my beautiful grey towelling robe. It's old and it's worn. It's not as fluffy and soft as it once was and due to wear and tear it seems to have a habit of coming undone. Now don't get me wrong, I don't mind it falling open unexpectedly for all to see. (@Betsymartian wouldn't argue. She's seen Mr Winky before) but we're not alone. @Slinkywhite is in the room. I don't think she would be as impressed. If it happened, dread the thought. She'd probably want to move out...

4. I need to water the garden

Due to arriving home from work slightly last night after a few beers en-route, I avoided my daily task of watering my garden. I'm quite proud of my little garden in a Percy Thrower kind of way. It only looks good from two angles mind. The first is from the upstairs back window, the second angle is from the broken plastic chair on the patio. That's my favourite view. So yeah, if I want it to live I'd best get watering. Here's a photo.

5. Tea

I really need a cup of tea. I'm rubbish without tea. I've already had one cup but I need another, and now I haven't got much time before I need to get dressed, smoke a ciggie and water the garden before walking all the way to Homebase to buy some shit. Not any old shit. Some horse shit. And once that's done i'm off to the allotment to dig up some potatoes and then dig in some more shit and plant some more potatoes. Then I have to pick some gooseberries, collect some shallots and thin out some swedes and parsnips. All the time i'll be doing this I won't have the opportunity to drink any tea. There will be coffee but it's not tea, and I much prefer tea. I really need a cuppa. I'd best get off this sofa then... I haven't much time.


Tuesday, 2 August 2011


Some admin to get through.

I recently introduced a mobile version of this website which I think makes it easier to load and read on phones. Just wanted to find out if anyone had noticed, and if so what you think. Like? Keep? Revert? Ta.

More importantly the latest edition of the Craven Cottage Newsround produced Fulham Review is now available from

The all new Fulham Review!

The fifth book in the series. Featuring all the usual reports, essays and statistics.

A match report from every game. A look back at Jimmy Conway, Steve Earle and Les Barrett by Nick Johnson. Kieron “Swiss Ramble” O’Connor writes about Fulham’s Finances. Mike Whalley contributes a “Last on Match of the Day” Fulham special. Dave Harris returns with another of the famous “Departing Heroes” columns. Tim Gelles has another loaner report. Don Hymel pays tribute to Gentleman Jim. And Colin Baker has another round up of player stats that you can’t get anywhere else. We’ve even got some colour pages this year, looking at some programme covers through the years. Also a new cover by John Cummins.

An amazing read, and still only £5, the same price as the 2006/07 book was!

Talking of Craven Cottage Newsround, I'm also trying to write regularly about Fulham again and you can find my posts here. There will be rambling.