Friday, 20 December 2013

Top 5 Albums of 2013

Breaking with my tradition I thought I'd get this in before the end of the year. Seems I'm still almost a month behind most of the music press but it'll be one less 2013 post for me to bore you with in January.

1. Low "The Invisible Way" - This album came out in January, I think, which might explain why it's not featured that high on many of the media lists. I've loved it all year and that's not been diminished by the passage of time. I missed their London gig in April so had to travel to Cambridge in November to finally catch them live. They were stunning that night and made every minute of the three hours it took me to get there worthwhile. I think 2014 will see me try to fill in the gaps in my Low collection.

2. Eleanor Friedberger "Personal Record" - I've known a lot of these songs from early in the year thanks to frequent plays by Marc Riley. She followed this with a fantastic session in August and that was the final push I needed to get the album. Despite the name the album was co-written with alt-folk singer/novelist John Wesley Harding. It's full of catchy songs with intriguing lyrics. I regret not getting to the show she played at Bush Hall but with a UK based band put together by David Brewis of Field Music I hope she'll be back over soon.

3. Bill Callahan "Dream River" - A late purchase but one that zoomed to the top of my favourites. I thought his 2009 album, Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle, was as good as he could get but Dream River runs that very close indeed.

4. Euros Childs "Situation Comedy" - I've picked up a few Euros Childs' albums over the last year or two but this is the best thing I've heard by him yet. Again Marc Riley played a big part in this thanks to frequent plays. Laura J Martin also features on several tracks on flute. The album is packed with perfect pop tunes that have genuinely funny, and at times quite poignant, lyrics. I saw him play the Boston music room in October and don't think I've ever laughed so much at a music gig.

5. Ezra Furman "Day Of The Dog" - The first time I heard the track Tell 'Em All To Go To Hell I assumed it was by some 70s Glam band I'd not heard before. Then My Zero came along and took the sound in a more Indie direction. The rest of the album flits from genre to genre whilst retaining a consistent sound thanks to Ezra's voice and the copious amounts of saxophone (unusually this is a good thing).


Friday, 13 December 2013

Top 5 Comic Book Super Teams

Following on from last week's Superhero Top 5 these are my favourite Super Teams.

1. The X-Men (created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby) - The X-Men weren't the first super hero team I discovered but they were the catalyst for my obsession with comics. When I was much younger my mum would sometimes buy me a comic when I was poorly. One of the last times she did this I got a copy of a British X-Men magazine that reprinted X-Men 133. this was one of the later parts of the Hellfire Club story and I was instantly hooked. The X-Men had been created by Kirby & Lee as a team of completely original characters (rather than combining existing solo heroes) but really came into it's own when Chris Claremont took control of the title in the late 70s.

2. The Avengers (created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby) - One of my very first US edition comics was an Avengers story, bought from Tilly's in Thames Ditton, that explained the origins of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Traditionally the team formed around a core of Captain America, Iron Man & Thor though often it was the peripheral characters that drew me in. Wasp & Ant Man/Giant Man were favourites from the early issues but one of my favourite Avengers remains the impractically purple costumed archer Hawkeye.

3. The Fantastic Four (created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby) - I suspect I picked up my fist copy of The Fantastic Four in the same visit to Tilly's I mentioned above. The FF were a little different from any other team as they were linked by blood and marriage. Johnny Storm was Sue Storm's brother. Sue eventually married Reed Richards and Ben Grimm was their long standing friend. Unlike other series membership of the FF never changed. In a universe where teams and characters are rebooted and redefined more and more frequently the FF remain a happy constant.

4. The Justice League of America (created by Gardner Fox) - DC's shining beacon of super teams combining all the very best DC characters in one magazine. I mean, holy crap, any group that includes; Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Flash & Aqua Man is a force to be reckoned with. As an occasional DC reader the JLA gave me a hit of their best characters for the price of one comic.

5. The Defenders (created by Roy Thomas & Ross Andru) - I struggled to decide on my fifth pick. I quite liked DC's Legion of Super Heroes, a space based team, led at times by Superboy, made up of alien heroes from a future world who didn't appear in any other titles. I considered The Watchmen, from Alan Moore's excellent graphic novel, but they were never really a genuine ongoing team (in my eyes at least). But at heart I'm a Marvel kid so I plumped for Marvel's secondary super team The Defenders. The early issues saw a pretty cool core team of Doctor Strange, Hulk & Namor the Sub-Mariner and soon added the Silver Surfer and Valkyrie.


Friday, 6 December 2013

Top 5 Comic Book Superheroes

Some Twitter pals got me thinking about my favourite b-list Superheroes the other day and inevitably that also got me thinking about my a-list too. I spent a lot of time reading comics as a kid, probably too much if I'm honest, but I still have a lot of love for them.

1. Spider-man (created by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko) - Spidey was always number one for me. The late sixties cartoon series (with it's character defining theme tune) was probably where I first discovered him, either that or the late seventies live-action TV show starring Nicholas Hammond. Watch either now and you'll probably struggle to see much to admire but back then you took your thrills where you could and seeing some bloke climbing skyscrapers in an ill-fitting costume was way more exciting than anything else at the time. I got into comics entirely thanks to Spider-man. Initially the UK produced black & white reprints but soon after the full colour US originals. Spider-Man was a hero it was easy to identify with, funny and sharp witted yet a bit awkward in normal life.

2. Batman (created by Bob Kane & Bill Finger) - Again it was the kitsch TV series that first got me interested in Batman. I was a confirmed Marvel Comics fan though and didn't have a lot of time for DC comics but the Batman series is one of the best superhero tales ever written. I would buy DC titles occasionally (usually if the latest Marvel title wasn't in and I didn't want to go home empty handed) and the various Batman comics were always good value. Frank Miller's Dark Knight era got me reading more regularly and for a long time the films were the only really successful superhero franchise on the big screen.

3. Wolverine (created by Len Wein & John Romita Sr) - The Chris Claremont era of X-Men titles was what tipped me over the edge. Previously an occasional comic book buyer, discovering The Uncanny X-Men led me into slight obsession with collecting comics. Claremont redefined the X-Men with a new set of characters and costumes. There was a slightly grittier reality. Wolverine was core to this and not your typical all-American hero. He was Canadian for a start, had a dark sense of humour and could be disruptive to the team dynamics. His background story hinted at a troubled past which eventually opened the door to his own series of comics.

4. Iron Man (created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby) - One of the big five Marvel characters (I think, there's a possibility I'm making that up) who was also a founding member of The Avengers. I read that Stan Lee created billionaire industrialist Tony Stark as the sort of character that Marvel readers would hate. The archetypal capitalist business man that went against the grain of the 60s counter-culture. I'm pretty sure Iron Man wouldn't have featured quite so high in the list without the recent trilogy of films but it was a title I bought & enjoyed for many years.

5. Hulk (created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby) - Hulk! Smash! Who couldn't love the big green bundle of anger? Another character I first discovered through the TV. The Bill Bixby/Lou Ferringo series was a big part of my Saturday night entertainment growing up and the Hulk comics were great fun too.


Friday, 29 November 2013

Top 5 Songs of 2013 - October/November

I think this will be the final set of songs for the year. The plan was that this would make my top five songs of the year easier but I'm not entirely convinced it has. Anyway, another set of corking tunes to end the year on a high.

1. Mogwai "Remurdered" - Mogwai are going from strength to strength right now. Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will was comfortably my favourite album of 2011, their soundtrack to French zombie thriller Les Revenants was sublime and this majestic tune seems to blend the best of both releases. I cannot wait for the new album to arrive early next year.

2. Ezra Furman "Tell 'Em All To Go To Hell"/"My Zero" - When I first heard Tell 'Em All To Go To Hell, on the Marc Riley show, I assumed it was some 70s glam classic that I'd never heard before. I still know very little about Ezra Furman but I've since got the album from whence this is from and it is glorious eclectic fun from start to finish. My Zero is the single and far too good to leave unmentioned, so I'm breaking my own rules and including that too.

3. Euros Childs "Tête à Tête" - I've been slowly discovering the joys of Euros Childs over the last couple of years but his new album is a real corker and this is probably my favourite track off it.

4. Sebadoh "Once" - I wasn't a huge fan of Sebadoh but this thumping instrumental might well lead me to investigate further. It's a joyous cacophony that I can't stop playing.

5. Future Of The Left "Johnny Borrell Afterlife" - A little gutted that I didn't arrive at the Les Savy Fav gig in 2008 a little earlier. I missed FOTL supporting them that evening and have only just discovered how fantastic they are. This is the catchiest song from their recent LP and manages a brilliant Bobby Zamora name check which makes me smile.


Friday, 15 November 2013

Chop's CD Roulette - B2 "Leisure" by Blur

My CD rack has 11 rows of occupied shelves and approximately 68 slots from left to right. If you pick a letter (from A at the top to K at the bottom) and a number between 1 and 68, I play that CD and blog (or tweet) about it. What could be simpler? #chopscdroulette

Friday, 8 November 2013

Top 5 Album Titles

A very quick top five this week after being inspired by @lazerguidedblog's request for Twitter's Favourite album title.

That had me squinting at my CD spines to come up with a list, one I slightly amended after @Sipperana reminded me of the genius of Budgie album titles. Budgie could deserve a top five all of their own but I'll save that for another day. Also, I do know Superfuzz Bigmuff is an EP but it makes me smile so it's staying (and they did release an album called Superfuzz Bigmuff & Early Singles so ner ner na ner ner).

UPDATE: Here's @lazerguidedblog's full blog post which has even more excellent contenders.

UPDATE 2: My pal John reminded me that the ACTUAL best Album Title ever is Pussy Galore's "Dial M for Motherfucker".

1. "Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will" Mogwai

2. "Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot" Sparklehorse

3. "Superfuzz Bigmuff" Mudhoney

4. "If I Were Britannia I'd Waive The Rules" Budgie

5. "If I Could Do It All Over Again I'd Do It All Over You" Caravan


Friday, 1 November 2013

Top 5 Eponymous Hatricks

Following from last week's Eponymous Top 5 I'm taking it one step further this week with my favourite eponymous albums that also feature an eponymous song. I'll be honest I'm not entirely sure if I've ordered this by my love of the song or the album but either way I think it works. Hat tip to @Sipperana who found this list online and got me started. It's a bit Metal heavy perhaps, and I couldn't find room for Bo Diddley, but I think these are 5 fine albums/songs.

1. Iron Maiden on "Iron Maiden" by Iron Maiden

2. Black Sabbath on "Black Sabbath" by Black Sabbath

3. Motörhead on "Motörhead" by Motörhead

4. Minor Threat on "Minor Threat" by Minor Threat

5. Meat Puppets on "Meat Puppets" by Meat Puppets


Friday, 25 October 2013

Top 5 Eponymous Albums

A little late as work and home duties have got the better of me but a few weeks back the @LPGrp topic was eponymous albums. That gave us quite a broad spectrum of choice and the eventual winner was "The Band" by, err, The Band. I'd had that album in my collection for some time but had never really got to grips with it. Turned out, after some extensive pre-LPGrp listening, I really liked it. It still doesn't quite make my top five though which are as follows.

1. "Ramones" Ramones (1976) - This is one of my all-time favourite albums and comes pretty close to being perfect as far as I'm concerned. Fourteen tracks of blistering punk rock in a little under half an hour and the template for the band's career. Gutted I never saw them live.

2. "The Undertones" The Undertones (1979) - Bringing a bit more pop to the punk equation, I still don't entirely know what genre to put The Undertones in. This is packed full of tunes that either were or could have been singles. The album was re-released in October of '79 to included the first two singles, Teenage Kicks and Get Over You, so I guess that's the version I'd pick but even the original is a corker.

3. "The Specials" The Specials (1979) - Watching Top Of The Pops in the seventies Madness & The Specials were two of the few bands that grabbed my attention. This was almost my very first album purchase. I was excited to find a copy at my best pal's Blue Peter Bring & Buy Sale but my pocket money wasn't quite enough to stretch to the £3.00 price tag. Someone else got it before I could negotiate a reduced price and I didn't actually own a copy until several years later.

4. "Peter Gabriel" Peter Gabriel (1977) - Peter Gabriel released four eponymous albums before finally making an effort and giving one a proper name. I love all four but the first two are the best and the debut remains my favourite. It's one of my favourite album covers too featuring Storm Thorgerson's Lancia Flavia.

5. "The Stooges" The Stooges (1969) - Edges out The Clash's debut LP my a gnats chuff. I'm a fairly recent convert to The Stooges. I saw them live during the 2005 reunion tour and have loved their first two albums ever since.


Friday, 4 October 2013

Guest Top 5 by Joel of Giant Burger - The Top 5 Worst Sounds in my Record Collection

I've said before that the guest top fives are better than the ones I write myself and this just proves the point beyond doubt. Joel plays guitar and sings in the band Giant Burger who are so far the only band I have discovered entirely through Twitter. I went to see them at the Sebright Arms last week and they were ace.

Joel agreed to do this a while back and has put together something unique. I intend to follow Rosie & Nick by listening to the sounds and recording my reactions in the comments section. Assuming I've successfully worked out the html to embed mp3s in the blog, it would be cool if everyone had a go.

You should also go & see Giant Burger play live (check the video out at the bottom of the blog). Over to Joel.


There are the horrors that come suddenly, and there is the horror of endlessness. Music has both of these aplenty, and I try to find it. I collect terrible music and sounds, not exclusively, but actively. I do this to fight a narrowing mind. It is by confronting ugliness that we come closer to knowing and noticing beauty. Also, if you only listen to the voices you agree with, how do you know what you believe?

It is also important to share the horror you find. I find it amusing to expose my friends to bad music and sounds, I always have. For this Top Five, I chose some fairly terrible stuff to play to two people, Rosie and Nick, who both have a good idea about what they like and don’t like when it comes to music. I asked them some questions about how they felt about these pieces.

Here are the selections, either ripped onto mp3 (badly), or with a link. My apologies in advance for the mp3 quality, these are very obscure (or unique) sounds, and I have limited technology.

5. The Black Box Revelation "Love, Love Is On My Mind" (T for Tunes, 2011)

I got this when I ordered a really tasteful techno record, tucked into the package. I have absolutely no idea why the person I bought a Monoceros album off sent me this single. Maybe they had it sent to them. Maybe it was a joke. It’s fucking terrible. The name of the record label makes it even funnier.

ME – What does this make you feel?

NICK – Irritation and boredom, and almost sad at the waste of the time and the energy and the illusion and the delusion of the people making it. Music of that ilk, that they’re shooting for, the excitement isn’t there. It’s totally following the rules.

ROSIE - Embarrassment is the major emotion. I guess to me they sound about my age, and really British, and I just feel embarrassed that people would pick up their instruments and think that it’s okay to do that. It’s so Camden barfly.

NICK – Exactly.

ME – You both knew that band had a ‘The’ in the title.

4. Marvin Bernstein – "Burning the Candle" from Lebenszyklus (Life Cycle) (Music Deluxe, year unknown)

MP3 Player - "Burning the Candle"

Link to mp3 if audio player doesn't work

This is a peppy little number from a tip-to-tail exuberant CD of instrumental MIDI masterpieces. I also own a companion album called Schrecksekunden (Creepy Moments), whose tone is more Halloweeny. I bought them both from separate people selling junk on illegal pitches at Brick Lane Market. 20p each!

ROSIE – Has it been two minutes yet?

ME – We’re listening to the whole track.


NICK – Gee, I just don’t know where it’s going, next.

ME – What is, in your opinion, the purpose of this recording, and is it fulfilling that purpose?

NICK – It sounds like a soundtrack for a series of uplifting moments of a forgettable, fairly shit TV movie.

ROSIE – I think the purpose is for a guy, cause it’s probably a guy, to explore the different options of his digital music producing equipment.

ME – Would you listen to it willingly?

ROSIE – No, I would have to be subjected to it.

NICK – Me, too.

3. Lalo Schifrin – "AD Main Theme" (BBC Cassettes, 1985)

For when Vivaldi is too hard hitting, this music was soundtrack material for a TV series about Late Antiquity. I’m not sure how Schifrin made what was an absolutely fascinating period of history sound so waxy, dead and boring, but he did, and well done to him for it! If the television series is anything like its music, it would fit well into a series of MST3K parodies. One track is called Gladiator School, though. Bought under a bridge in Oslo off a junk seller, if memory serves.

NICK – It’s like John Williams, without the imagination.

ROSIE – It’s like a Mills and Boone novel.

ME – What does it make you feel?

NICK – It fails to make me feel anything, it’s so contrived. Is that the best you can do to try to make me feel that?

ROSIE – I actually felt like I was on a cruise, it felt quite nice.

ME – Would you listen to it willingly?

NICK – No.

ROSIE – I actually wouldn’t mind. I like stuff that is just there, sometimes. That music is completely unobtrusive.

2. John Savage "The Art of the Drummer" (John Savage, 1977)

MP3 Player - "The Art of the Drummer"

Link to mp3 if audio player doesn't work

John is a fantastic drummer. This tape, no doubt, was made to accompany a tutorial book for people wanting to learn drums. To make this tape would have been a Herculean task, and John’s musicianship and precision I envy. However, when listened to as just a tape, a similarly superhuman level of stamina is required to get past two minutes. Perfect for unsettling house guests. I believe this is from a St. Leonard’s charity shop.

ME – What does this make you feel?

NICK – Kind of interest at first, and then annoyance. I kind of liked listening to it at the beginning, and at the end I just wanted it to stop.

ME – Would you listen to it willingly?

ROSIE – No, no, no, no.

NICK – No. Unless the bingo caller was sick, then I’d put that on.

1. Keith "Kent Stories Read By Keith" (Home taped, year unknown)

MP3 Player - "Kent Stories Read By Keith"

Link to mp3 if audio player doesn't work

Keith, here, is reading from what I can only assume is a very saucy book about Kent, and its goings on. Especially present are the sexual predilections of queens and kings, or their frigidity. I don’t know who Keith is reading this for, but they are also getting a peek into his mind. It’s not safe to stay long with Keith, especially not when you’re alone in the house. Sorry, Keith, but it’s true. I think this is from a charity shop in Hastings.

ROSIE – Oh, he’s creepy. He sounds like he’s reading the Shipping Forecast.

ME – What is, in your opinion, the purpose of this recording, and is it performing it?

ROSIE – I think it really fails, because you don’t want to listen to that guy. All you can think is about that looking at a page, and blabbing off some words.

NICK – It think it’s to convey Keith’s passion for history, and it fails! It Fails! I think it was created by Keith for friends or family, for a car journey.

ME – What does it make you feel?

ROSIE – Boredom is the overarching feeling, but it also makes me want to get away, and it also makes me feel sad that a tremendous tale, and history itself can be reduced to just some words, and artless drone.

NICK – Mostly frustration, because I wanted to hear the story told well. I listen to it and I think ‘How hard is it? I could do better than that.

ROSIE – He says his sentences that same way every time.

NICK – There’s no modifying the tone at all, no abstract shit like that.

Thanks for listening, folks.

GIANT BURGER play "Big Meat" Live at The George Tavern


Friday, 27 September 2013

Guest Top 5 Favourite Things by Brandon Gilliard

OK, this is slightly out of the blue. I enjoyed this week's Live Later ... with Jools Holland which featured Pixies, Chvrches, Barrence Whitfield & The Savages and Janelle Monae. I made a passing comment about that on Twitter (where I misspelled Barrence's name) and my tweet was noticed by Brandon Gilliard who is currently playing Bass in Janelle Monae's band.

I was a little surprised as I'd not copied in any of the band's Twitter accounts but Brandon must have been searching for #laterjools or Janelle Monae and favourited my tweet. I thought I test this out and see if he was interested in writing a guest top five.

Which was pretty bloody cool I thought. Here's a bit of background about him.

Brandon is a world touring bass player who has recorded or shared the stage with artists as diverse as KIMBRA, Erykah Badu, Avery*Sunshine, Big Boi of OutKast, P. Diddy, Bob Carlisle, Jennifer Holliday, Angie Stone, Chinua Hawk and a plethora of others. He has also performed with world class ensembles such as the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, The Chicago Symphony and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. His bass lines have been recorded for major movie soundtracks including work for Henson Studios, Fox, Blue Sky Studios and world renown composer, John Powell. Brandon credits musicians such as James Jamerson (Motown), Rocco Prestia (Tower of Power), Pino Pallidino (John Mayer, D’Angelo) and Verdine White (Earth, Wind & Fire) as his biggest influences.

Brandon is currently the bass player for Atlantic Records/ Bad Boy Records recording artist and his bass work is featured on Janelle Monae’s new album "The Electric Lady". Here are Brandon Gilliard's Top 5 favourite things.

1. Performing live

2. Country Music

3. Boots

4. Basses

5. Ireland

Thanks for this Brandon, you're a dude!


Friday, 20 September 2013

Top 5 Songs of 2013 - August/September

I know it's not the end of September yet but I've already got 5 songs I like and I'm going to see one of these bands live next week so wanted to give them a plug.

1. Kiran Leonard "Dear Lincoln" - A short, sharp, piano led burst of off kilter pop that deserves to kick start his career. He's very young (and wrote this song when he was even younger) and plays more or less all the instruments on his soon to be released debut album.

2. Piskie Sits "Viktoria Plzeň" - Possibly inspired by Czech football team, FC Viktoria Plzeň's progress to the UEFA Champions League, though the lyrics seem to be more about unrequited love. Piskie Sits have been around for quite a few years but if Football Focus get hold of this before Viktoria Plzeň face Manchester City again, this could become a huge terrace anthem.

3. Giant Burger "Fridges" - Giant Burger are the band I'm off to see next week. I'm not entirely sure how I discovered them but they're doing something very interesting that lies somewhere between punk, prog and pop. They're supporting Trojan Horse at The Sebright Arms next Wednesday and you should definitely go.

4. Telegram "Follow" - By far the longest track on offer this time round, clocking in at an "epic" 4 minutes 26 seconds. It's got an irresistible riff and a sing along refrain that I can't help joining in with. Smashing stuff.

5. MGMT "Your Life Is A Lie" - Worth watching the video for this one, which does a brilliant job of literally interpreting the lyrics.


Friday, 13 September 2013

Top 5 Roadrunner Songs

Trying to keep things ticking over here with a few short but hopefully sweet top fives. I've been getting into Jonathan Richman recently and it's his Roadrunner song, combined with a bit of iPod shuffling happenstance, that got me thinking about the number of similarly titled tunes. There were less than I thought (most tunes are covers of either Jonathan Richman or Bo Diddly) but in the end just enough.


1. "Roadrunner" Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers (1972) - The recording history of this track is a little convoluted. Originally recorded in 1972 with John Cale producing it was recorded again the same year with Kim Fowley in control. The Cale version eventually saw the light of day in 1976, the Fowley version(s) in 1981. Either way it's a corking song that has been covered by everyone from Yo La Tengo to the Sex Pistols.

2. "Road Runner" The Fabulous Wailers (1959) - This is a brilliant instrumental from their essential album The Fabulous Wailers - Original Golden Crest Masters. Allmusic suggest this was co-written by Bo Diddley AND Jonathan Richman, which seems unlikely. It came out the year before Bo's song and, whilst my ear for a similar tune is not the best, this is absolutely a Wailers original.

3. "Road Runner" Bo Diddley (1960) - Bo Diddley's 12-Bar blues was originally released as a single in January 1960 and has been covered almost as often as Richman's tune. A hot rod revving style slide intro kicks things off before giving way to a typical piece of Diddley riffing. The video was shot at Wembley Stadium in the seventies and there's some great crowd shots featuring both Rockers and Teds.

4. "(I'm a) Road Runner" Junior Walker & The Allstars (1966) - Junior Walker had his biggest hit with this Motown single written by the super prolific Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Edward Holland.

5. "Roadrunner" Papa M (1999) - Bringing up the rear, but still a fine piece of music, is David Pajo's song recorded during his Papa M phase (he changes moniker more often than I change jeans) and released on the excellent album Live From A Shark Cage.


Friday, 6 September 2013

Top 5 Batmans

Hello, it's been quite a while since I did one of these so I thought I'd start off with a serious topic. Who are the greatest actors to have portrayed the dark knight on cinematic and televisual screens? The furor over Ben Affleck's selection to play the caped crusader in Superman vs Batman got me thinking about this. To be honest the competiton isn't huge and I reckon Affleck could be pretty good.

It was a close run thing at the top as Adam West provided me with my introduction to the adventures of the Batman and I still have enormous fondness for that sixties TV series. I did subsequently come to love the comics and realise The Batman in those was darker and more serious but I think film makers since have struggled to balance the dark side of the character with an element of fun that all big screen heroes need.

The Christian Bale movies are a little too violent in places for me (this may be a sign I'm getting older, I didn't like Casino Royale either - too noisy!) but I have to recognise they're also the closest to the very best Batman comics. Keaton sneaks third due to the genius of Tim Burton (especially in Batman Returns which is possibly still my favourite Batman film). Lowery & Wilson sweep up the minor places due to their heartfelt attempts to play a costumed detective in a time of low fidelity technical options.

Let's never talk about Kilmer or Clooney again.

1. Adam West (1966-1968)

2. Christian Bale (2005-2012)

3. Micheal Keaton (1989-1992)

4. Robert Lowery (1949)

5. Lewis Wilson (1943)


Sunday, 1 September 2013

Chop's CD Roulette - A6 "Let There Be Rock" by AC/DC

My CD rack has 11 rows of occupied shelves and approximately 68 slots from left to right. If you pick a letter (from A at the top to K at the bottom) and a number between 1 and 68, I play that CD and blog (or tweet) about it. What could be simpler? #chopscdroulette #chopscdrH33

Friday, 9 August 2013

Top 5 Songs of 2013 - June/July (and the end of May)

OK, I was hoping to do a deal with THE MAN for hard cash, but that seems to be mired in the tough financial negotiation stage so I guess I better pull my finger out and write something myself. Here's the third part of my ongoing effort to track my favourite songs of the year. No apologies for the fact I know most of these* (* all of these) thanks to the Marc Riley show on 6music.

1. Eleanor Friedberger "Tomorrow Tomorrow" - Eleanor Friedberger is best known for being one half of indie rock duo The Fiery Furnaces, along with older brother Matthew Friedberger. Since that band went on hiatus she's released a couple of solo albums, the second of which this track is from. Typically it took me a while to really appreciate the song, but when it clicked it hit me hard. Eleanor is playing Bush Hall on 3rd September and I'm very tempted to go.

2. Jeffrey Lewis & Peter Stampfel "What Would Pussy Riot Do?" - This is amazing. I think it's really a Jeffery Lewis poem but they did a band version of it when they played a session for Riley in June. I couldn't find an Internet version but there is a short clip around 10 minutes into this Interview with Marc Riley. It's a great lyric but also a joyous tune about what music SHOULD be about.

3. The Wave Pictures "The Woods" - David Tattersall is fast becoming one of my favourite guitarists and this is the latest track from his regular band The Wave Pictures. The video was recorded at Toe Rag studios, which is another plus for anyone who favours the analogue glory days over the digital revolution. It's a corker of a tune too.

4. TRAAMS "Low" - I don't know much about TRAAMS yet but this tune has embedded itself in my conscious of the past few weeks.

5. Jesca Hoop "Hospital (Win Your Love)" - I loved Ode To Banksy which got a lot of play at the end of last year. This is another track from the same album, The House That Jack Built, which has been nestling in my head of late. Jesca did an amazing version of it for Riley in April and since then I've been hooked.


Friday, 26 July 2013

Top 5 Novels by Iain (M) Banks

I've been muddling over this topic since Iain Banks announced that he had terminal cancer. I love his books, both contemporary & science-fiction, but I'm a long way from having read all of them and wasn't sure I'd be doing the topic justice. Since Iain passed away on 9th June I realised it probably doesn't matter that I've not read everything. These top fives are rarely definitive and I wanted a way to celebrate his work.

They say you should never judge a book by it's cover. That's very true when used as an analogy for life but I'd contend it's not actually true about books. In my experience book covers are a pretty good indication of what's on the pages. Sometime in the mid-nineties, perhaps a little early, I was in a slump with my reading and looking for something new and exciting. I was doing a day-release course at college and often spent my lunch break browsing the shelves of Waterstones. I stumbled across Iain Banks' contemporary collection and was struck by the simple but effective black & white designs. The covers made me want to read the books.

1. The Wasp Factory (1984) - As is right and proper I started in chronological order with Iain's debut novel of any type. The Wasp Factory is pretty dark in places, exploring the effects of organised religion and parental deception. It's a quick read with an unexpected twist and an excellent introduction to Banks' style of writing.

2. Player Of Games (1988) - The second of The Culture series helped everything fall into place for me with Iain's science fiction. It's a shorter book than Consider Phlebas or Use Of Weapons and I found it an easier read but just as compelling. A famously skilful player of games is coerced by The Culture's Special Circumstances to travel to a far away world and play the complex game of Azad, unwittingly playing a role in The Culture's broader intentions.

3. The Crow Road (1992) - A more traditional coming of age story but one told with Banks' typical wit and dark humour. The BBC did a great job adapting this for television in 1996. Contains one of the best opening sentences you're likely to find - "It was the day my grandmother exploded"

4. Consider Phlebas (1987) - The first of The Culture series and therefore the first bit of Banks SF I read. It's a weighty tome and took me a while to get to grips with (amongst other challenges there are a lot of tricky names to remember) but it's well told and was truly different to any other Sci-Fi I'd read up to that point.

5. Walking On Glass (1985) - Brain scramblingly complex in places, but very satisfying once you get there. Walking On Glass features three parallel storylines that don't initially appear to be linked but eventually reveal subtle connections.