30/07/2014

Top of the Pops 79: 2/8/79



Shown on BBC4 / Reviewed by Chris Arsnby

Peter Powell. "Hi-ya! It's Thursday, we've got the music if you've got the time! Here's Top of the Pops, the charts, and The Dooleys!"
Chart music: The Dooleys: Wanted [3].

Sham 69: Hersham Boys [23]. Trousers off, birds! It's the Hersham hard men! There are two problems with this song. One, the Hersham boys are described as wearing corduroys not an item of clothing for alienated urban youth even in the dark days of 1979. Two, Hersham is a village in Surrey. Even Jimmy Pursey's determined Mockney dropping of the letter H will never make 'ersham sound like South Central Los Angeles.
Sham 69 were unsure where the audience was

28/07/2014

The Blueback Hussar



Featuring Adam Ant
Directed by Jack Bond


A new documentary film about Adam Ant proves even more meandering than its subject.


It’s much too late of course for Adam Ant to make a proper comeback though he retains respect for not treading the well worn path towards television celebrity contest or nostalgia fuelled package tours. This film, shot within the past year, follows the former pop star as he navigates himself back into the music business after an interregnum caused largely by mental issues. Sadly his confidence in the project is not matched by the results while the film ill serves its subject.

Adam Ant is the Blueback Hussar. Napoleon, meanwhile, wants his hat back.

21/07/2014

Top of the Pops 79: 19/7/79



Shown on BBC4
Reviewed by Chris Arnsby
Kid Jensen. "Good evening, and a good welcome to all that's best in the chart in this week's Top of the Pops."
Chart music: The Sex Pistols, C’mon Everybody [3].

The Real Thing: Boogie Down (Get Funky Now) [50]. Lined up prominently behind The Real Thing is a gaggle of uncool musicians. Could this be the brass section of the Top of the Pops orchestra? It's a month since the orchestra was last shown accompanying McFadden & Whitehead on the 14/7/79 edition. Once again they get some good close-ups, hopefully proving to any watching Musician's Union representatives that Top of the Pops remains committed to its union agreements.

19/07/2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes



Starring Andy Serkis, Toby Kebbell,Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Nick Thurston, Terry Notary
Screenplay  by Mark Momback, Rick Jaffa
Directed by Matt Reeves


The second in the new sequence of Planet of the Apes films is even better than the first.


The decision to re-tell the Planet of the Apes saga has proved to be a strong one. 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes was impressive enough both in its depiction of the apes (not that the 60s/70s originals were too shoddy) and the way the narrative unfolded.  This sophomore tale is different in tone and intent but more satisfying as a complete film. Set a decade or so after its predecessor it tells the story of how Caesar, the intelligent chimp raised by a human, fares as leader of the apes now living in the forest. Those humans who survived the virus have been reduced to squirrelling a living in wrecked cities and inevitably the two groups will come into conflict.



Spoiler warning- if you haven’t seen the film yet this review reveals major plot points

18/07/2014

The start of blog censorship?



After a restaurant successfully sued a blogger over a critical review, is this a sign that influential blogs could soon be forced to censor their opnions?


Blogs- like social media- are a platform for anyone to express their views. Obviously there must be some limitations to this but if you feel strongly enough to criticise something then chances are it reflects a genuinely bad experience at the hands of a business of some sort. This week a blogger was successfully sued by a French restaurant who claimed their business had been adversely affected by a critical post whose title described the eaterie as ` the place to avoid ` after a poor experience there. A French judge ordered the blogger to alter the title of the post and pay damages to the restaurant. Could this spur other enterprises angered by influential blog criticisms to take similar action?

16/07/2014

The Hooligan Factory



Starring Jason Maza, Nick Nevern, Tom Burke
Written by Michael Lindley and Nick Nevern
Directed by Nick Nevern


Cheeky London hooligan spoof that works. Sweet!


This is, as they would say in the capital, a nifty little film.  Spoofs are notoriously difficult to pitch at the right level. Go too deeply into the minutiae of the thing you’re spoofing and most people won’t get the references, fail to identify what’s funny about it and it could just look like a poor relative. Rely on basic slapstick and it will look no different to dozens of others. The Hooligan Factory manages to pitch it exactly right. Nick Nevern’s film picks at the clich├ęs of the genre, draws out the inherent silliness of a sub culture that is both childish and dangerous while the film has a polish that lifts it above what you might expect.


14/07/2014

Do you remember cassette tapes?



Between vinyl and CDs there was something else people listened to music on.


Of all the formats on which music has been delivered there has surely been none as impractical as the cassette tape.  Flourishing comparatively briefly in the crossover period when people stopped buying vinyl but couldn’t afford CDs, tapes were the cheap and cheerful answer. For a while they were displayed as prominently in shops as the other formats. Once people heard a CD though, they would never go back and now tapes do not even enjoy the revival which vinyl periodically continues to have.

11/07/2014

Top of the Pops 79: 12/07/79



Shown on BBC4.  Watched by Chris Arnsby



Mike Read. "If you've been following this serial for the last 15 years you'll be keen to know what happens in the next episode of Top of the Pops."

Chart music: Slick, Space Bass [16].

Siouxsie & The Banshees: Playground Twist [33]. It turns out I've been confusing Siouxsie Sioux and Lene Lovich for years. Playground Twist is an odd choice for opening song and starts Top of the Pops with a sound which is more haunting and gloomy than normal. Adding to the eerie vibe is producer David G. Hiller's decision to intercut the performance with the cover artwork for the single; crudely drawn felt tip figures.  

The Police: "It's Sting not Spring!"

09/07/2014

Spike Island



Whether you like The Stone Roses or not, this 2012 film is about how important music used to be to teenagers.

Spike Island is a historical film now, not just because it’s set in 1990, but because it is about something that is dying out. Teenagers and twenty somethings didn’t just used to like music, they loved it, they embraced it, and they were inspired by its brilliance. It was as important as football or sex or having a laugh. In a time when you had to make more of an effort to do anything, getting to see your favourite band was a key rites of passage moment. Usually it involved a series of hurdles- getting tickets at all, getting enough money to buy tickets, getting transport to get to the gig, finding the place to stand at the gig. Even then there was the drama of what will they play, what will the opening song be? And the memories of the gig were indelible. Spike Island perfectly catches a moment that conveys all this excitement. 

07/07/2014

Guilt is good....sometimes



Modern life is not rubbish but it is certainly busy. Whatever people’s circumstances we seem to spend our time catching up, endlessly chasing our own tail on some frantic quest for fulfilment. Then it often seems to be the case that people who find that are not especially happy anyway. The relentless effort of keeping up seems- oddly enough- to be more difficult now there are more ways of doing so than in the past. So if we appear to have everything we need should we actually be happier? Is it wrong to feel bad, should we feel guilty if we do? 

03/07/2014

Top of the Pops 79: 28/06/79



Shown on BBC4
Watched by Chris Arnsby

Peter Powell. "Hi everyone! It's the show that counts and we give to you the chart! It's Top of the Pops!"
Chart music: Sex Pistols, C’mon Everybody [24].
Squeeze: Up The Junction [3]. There's a complicated bit of electronic trickery at the start of this performance. The camera output is framed on screen and as the picture zooms in the frame is also enlarged and slowly pushed off the edges of the picture. The intent is to look like the camera is actually moving through the electronic frame. It doesn't quite work but it shows how the electronic effects are getting more and more advanced. It's only just over a year since the Quantel DPE 5000 digital effects system was first used on Top of the Pops.

Squeeze are really up the junction without thier furniture.