Friday, 30 November 2012

Guest Top 5 - Films of 2012 by Scroobius Pip

Well, whaddya know, back to back celebrity top fives! Sort of. This one came from yet more Twitter snooping, which might well be the way forward for this blog. Mr Pip kindly consented to let me reproduce his list of favourite films from 2012. This proved particularly helpful as I'm on the verge of putting together my own myriad set of 2012 top fives but don't get to see enough new movies to do my own top five films.

I've been following Scroobius since getting involved in the Celebrity Biscuit database thing earlier in the year. He gave me a great reply but as yet I've not had time to write it up. Also the combined pressure of needing to be funny for the CBDB team and knowing that Pip is such a fine wordsmith proved a little daunting.

If you're not familiar with Scroobius Pip's work here's a sample.

You can follow Pip on twitter here and check out his website here.

1. Killer Joe (Dir: William Friedkin) - IMDb entry

2. Ted (Dir: Seth MacFarlane) - IMDb entry

3. The Muppets (Dir: James Bobin) - IMDb entry

4. Dark Knight Rises (Dir: Christopher Nolan) - IMDb entry

5. Lawless (Dir: John Hillcoat) - IMDb entry

Friday, 23 November 2012

Guest Top 5 - Asterix Books by Gideon Coe

I'm sure you'll all be aware of Gideon Coe and his excellent radio show on BBC 6music. By luck I happened to notice Gid tweet his five favourite Asterix reads and asked if he'd mind me reproducing it here. Gideon is a gent and was very obliging. If you haven't listened to his show before you should. It's on between 9pm and 12pm Monday to Friday and also available via the BBC iPlayer, you won't regret it.

The Adventures of Asterix are a series of French comic books written by René Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo. The series first appeared in the French magazine Pilote and have subsequently resulted in a series of thirty four books. The series follows the exploits of a village of indomitable Gauls who resist the Roman occupation thanks to a magic potion that gives them super strength, brewed by their druid Getafix. I loved reading these as a kid and much preferred them to the Tin Tin stories. Asterix was a real hero, a warrior who was the best fighter in the village but also very smart. His best friend Obelix, who had permanent super strength having fallen in the cauldron as a child, was less clever but loyal. For me they represented the victory of the small people over the big and mighty.

Over to Gideon ...

1. Asterix and the Chieftan's Shield (1968)

2. Asterix and the Golden Sickle (1962)

3. Asterix in Britain (1966)

4. Asterix and Cleopatra (1965)

5. Asterix the Legionary (1967)


Friday, 16 November 2012

Top 5 Status Quo Albums

There has been one topic occupying my thoughts this week - getting tickets to see the classic seventies Status Quo line-up of Rossi, Parfitt, Lancaster & Coghlan play live together for the first time since 1984. A false start on Tuesday, that largely involved me watching my PC do nothing for 20 minutes before telling me the tickets had all sold out, was followed by a minor panic on Wednesday as I was unable to logon at the allotted hour. However, a network of friends were in position to save the day and we're all off to see the band at Hammersmith next March.

Status Quo were my first favourite band. I discovered them in the early eighties but soon worked my way backwards towards the albums of their peak. I didn't see them live until 1986 so, despite attending over 30 Quo gigs, I have never seen the band with Alan Lancaster or John Coghlan. Hand on heart this is the most excited I've ever been about a band reuniting.

1. Live (1977) - I would not normally include a live album in an artists top five but Status Quo are all about the live show and this is the finest testament to them at their very peak. It remains my all time favourite live albums and is for me the ultimate Quo album. Jackie Lynton's opening introduction - "Is there anybody out there who wants to rock? Is there anybody out there who wants to roll? Is there anybody out there who wants to boogie? Tonight! Live from the Apollo! Glasgow! We have the number one rock'n'roll band in the land! Will you welcome? The magnificent! STATUS! QUO!" - is so terrific it still sets the hairs up on the back of my neck. In fact I bought a Jackie Lynton solo album entirely on the strength of this intro.

This is one of the few live albums that manages to capture the feeling of really being at a gig. Despite being recorded over a number of nights specifically for the record it feels like a seamless piece. Francis Rossi is in fine form from his traditional "How are you, alright?" welcome to encouraging the upstairs audience to "get the balcony moving" and later trying get the people down the front to calm down a bit and pace themselves. Early songs like "Juniors Wailing" and "In My Chair" are brought to life and the epic "Forty Five Hundred Times" and "Roadhouse Blues" are extended into monster boogie jams. The album has created memories so vivid at times I can convince myself I was actually there.

2. Hello! (1973) - "Hello!" has long been my favourite Quo studio album, though re-listening to the albums released between '71 and '76 made me realise how difficult it is to split them. I think "Hello!" wins the plaudits for me thanks to opening track "Roll Over Lay Down" and side B opener "Caroline", two of the best songs Quo have written. It also continues the album template set by "Piledriver" (8 songs, 2 classic side openers & an epic final song) with the nine minute "Forty Five Hundred Times". It was the first Quo album to reach Number 1 and the first to be entirely written by the band.

3. Piledriver (1972) - Probably the album that established the band in the Rock pantheon. It has three classic Quo compositions in "Don't Waste My Time", "Big Fat Mamma" and the brilliant "Paper Plane" and ends with a cover of The Doors' "Roadhouse Blues". The rest of the album keeps the standard high and it's really a close call between this and "Hello!".

4. Dog Of Two Head (1971) - This is an album that has grown on me over the years to the point where it's close to being my favourite studio album. The band's fourth but the first to be released with the four piece Rossi/Parfitt/Lancaster/Coghlan line up after keyboard player decided he wasn't as committed to rock'n'roll success as the rest. Two seven minute plus songs, "Umleitung" and "Someone's Learning" hint at the band's change in emphasis as does the slightly shorter "Railroad" (one of my favourite Quo tunes). But these harder blues based efforts are broken up but by the jangly pop of "Mean Girl", "Gerdundula" and "Nanana".

5. Quo (1974) - "Quo" edges out "On The Level" and "Blue For You" by sticking to the 8 song template. If anything this album is a little heavier than the previous two possibly a result of Alan Lancaster co-writing 6 of the tracks. "Slow Train" is another of those less well known Quo tracks that I've come to really like, "Backwater" kicks off the album in traditional up beat Quo style and the single "Break The Rules" provides a bit of light relief.


Friday, 2 November 2012

Top 5 Songs for Halloween

Another half-hearted attempt though at least I've made this one semi-relevant ... if, admittedly a day or two late.

1. "The Witch" The Sonics - The Sonics kick arse any time of the year and this song is pretty much perfect for Halloween. Maybe Gerry Rosalie is not talking literally but his visceral vocal should be enough to scare the willies out of anyone who's not convinced.

2. "Werewolves of London" Warren Zevon - Not the first time this track has featured in a top five and probably not the last.

3. "Monster Mash" Bobby "Boris" Pickett & the Crypt Kickers - A song you'll either love or hate but one that could not be more appropriate for the season. It's a legal requirement that all radio stations play this tune at least once on all hallows eve.

4. "Halloween" Misfits - Not a band I explored much beyond buying the cool t-shirt to be honest. I did see former Misfits singer Glenn Danzig's band support Metallica once and this tune is about as on topic as you could find.

5. "Ghostbusters" Ray Parker Jr - Despite the terrible eighties synth and Ray Parker Jr's sartorial choices that had a hint of mechanic-about-town, this remains quite a tune. The song and the Ghostbuster's logo were well embedded in my psyche long before the film came to town and had the desired effect of making me desperate to see it when it did.