25/02/2021

Five Old Things with Odd Names!

People loved them-and then they didn’t! But you can still buy them!!

Filet -O- Fish
Not an Irish musician but the pseudo French moniker for one of McDonald’s burgers, officially described as "a fish sandwich" but because the company can't talk properly it has to have a silly name. Like they can't just say Delivery, it has to be McDelivery. I suppose Filet-o-Fish sounds better than Fish Burger and much more high end than Fillet of Fish. It’s not actually French as that would be Filet de Poisson and can you imagine your average McDonalds customer asking for that. Plus from a distance that name looks just a bit too much like Filet de Poison which is just not acceptable in a restaurant. The Filet- o Fish was invented in 1962 in Cincinnati to solve the issue of falling hamburger sales on Fridays due to Catholics not eating meat on that day. Why they couldn’t just call it a Fishburger I don’t know. Or they could have called it Friday o’Fish really. It consists of a fried breaded fish fillet, pasteurised cheese and tartar sauce inside a steamed bun. Mmm.

  Filet-o- Fish uses the famous square fish

 

22/02/2021

Top of the Pops 6 Feb 1986

Presented by Chris Arnsby. Paul Jordan: “Hi there and welcome to Top of the Pops. Among other things tonight there's little Paul, that's me, and big Simon, that's him.” Simon Bates: “I shall do my best. We've got Whitney Houston's new video later on but right now here's The Damned and a terrific version of Eloise, on Top of the Pops.”
[18] The Damned: Eloise. Lighting Director Alan Jeffery makes his bid for attention. Eloise is a song with lots of big dramatic beats and the studio is lit accordingly. The overhead lights flare to the rhythm of the song and the whole pattern changes for the faster paced chorus. It looks fantastic. And it gets better.
About two thirds of the way into the song it winds down to a false ending (the studio audience mistake this for the actual end, cheer and give a well- deserved round of applause). Alan Jeffery fades all the colour out of the studio and leaves it lit in blue with a single white spotlight on David Vanian; he's dressed in white and stands out like a beacon in the gloom. The performance ends with a great long pull back as the camera moves all the way across the studio, leaving the band and the audience framed by one of the scaffolding walkways and looking tiny in the distance.

 


19/02/2021

Space 1999- The Bringers of Wonder parts 1 & 2

The only two part story in the show's roster starts alarmingly with Koening acting out of control in an Eagle. Has Martin Landau finally had enough? Is Tony’s homebrew more potent than we thought? The Alphans have no time to puzzle over their commander’s wayward behaviour when an Earth spaceship turns up- a Super Swift that is travelling faster than light. On board are a coterie of relatives and friends of many of the senior crew. What’s more they claim they can get everyone back to Earth in record time. While they mingle like it’s a cocktail party, Koenig is having his brain massaged. Now you and I and everyone who ever watches this episode knows full well that obviously these arrivals are not really the people they say they are but aliens of some sort up to no good. The trick with these types of stories is when and how to make the reveal.


 

15/02/2021

Top of the Pops 23 and 30 Jan 1986

Presented by Chris Arnsby. 23/01/1986.
Paul Jordan: “Hello and welcome to another Top of the Pops and tell me something, have you ever seen this man's face on the television before?”
Mike Smith: “I doubt it very much indeed. A wonderful line up coming your way tonight and a new number one. We start off with a band who have flown back specially from Germany, from Hamburg, to be with us tonight. The Alarm. The Spirit Of '76.

[22] The Alarm: Spirit Of '76. This is a fallow edition of Top of the Pops. I nearly skipped writing it up because none of the studio performances are great*. Nana Mouskouri's going to get Performance of the Week so you can stop reading now, if you want. The Alarm make their second return to Top of the Pops in three years (that's how popular they are). I note The Alarm's last appearance on 22/09/1983 edition was also introduced with a story about the band's globe-trotting ways. Simon Bates launched into an unlikely story about the band being stopped by a US cop wielding a telegram summoning the group back to the UK to appear urgently on Top of the Pops. I suspect The Alarm don't actually travel anywhere. They just make up these globe-trotting stories to sound cool. The Alarm's last song was called 68 Guns. Are they only allowed to release songs with numbers in the title? And what is the spirit of '76? Is it something to do with those swarms of ladybirds that got everywhere?


 

12/02/2021

The Carpenters - Goodbye to Love

An antidote to Valentine's Day!
Yes, its that time of year again when single people feel left out and socially inadequate. Even in our lockdown world there is no escape from Valentine's Day despite everything else being cancelled. So enough of that stuff, here’s a song that provides an antidote! `Goodbye to Love co-written by Richard Carpenter and John Bettis came to prominence in 1972 when it charted highly around the world bringing The Carpenters to even wider attention and gaining them a little musical respect. It’s sombre lyric is given additional emotion by Karen Carpenter’s vocals and there’s a surprisingly rousing guitar solo that tips the song into being a classic. I’m no fan of guitar solos but this is one is definitely welcome. This is a song that reaches beyond melancholy and could be interpreted as the thoughts of someone who is depressed. Inevitably in view of Karen Carpenter’s own ultimately tragic life it has been seen as something of a cry for help but this was earlier in her career and she was always a singer who could isolate the very essence of lyrics to maximum effect. This is quite simply (and it sounds simpler than it is) one of the best songs of the Seventies. Let’s face it, more of us feel like this on Valentine’s especially when faced with that sea of pink cards and balloons everywhere.

 


10/02/2021

Space 1999 - A Matter of Balance & Space Warp

A Matter of Balance
This rather uninvolving episode takes ages to get going initially leaning on the already tired running gag of Tony’s homebrew. Barely funny the first time we saw it the series seems to return to it constantly as if this is the only personality it can give the security officer. He is popular with hydroponics technician Shermeen though, in fact she has a crush on him and this makes her the best candidate it seems for the attention of a transparent alien from the planet Alpha is circling. He is called Vindrus and his people suffered some sort of accident which turned them into anti matter beings who plan on using Alpha to help restore them one by one to the universe of matter. As the title of the episode suggests for each one of them to transfer over means an Alphan must replace them. Why exactly?  That such a transfer can be achieved in a couple of perspex pyramids hooked up to one of Alpha’s handy portable nuclear generators makes the process look as unlikely as it sounds. You wonder what they would have done had a travelling half Moon not handily passed by.

Lynne Frederick moments after reading the script.
 

09/02/2021

How Can You Mend A Broken Heart- The Bee Gees review

Released late last year, Frank Marshall’s film explores the remarkable career of The Bee Gees. It’s a story with all the requisite peaks and troughs though they are best known for the remarkable success of their late 70s disco material. However this documentary takes us through a period of success in the 60s first. The pace is breezy with archive interviews and interesting footage though much of it is clipped to make the story more manageable. While it is a solid enough account of their lengthy career it is interesting what makes the cut and what doesn’t. There is certainly a case for an extended version at some point and this could do with having been at least two hours long as there are notable omissions.

 


06/02/2021

Now We Are Ten!!

The weird thing about me reviewing stuff is that the first time I was ever asked to do so, back in school, I wasn’t even sure what a review was. Did I just explain the plot to people who perhaps hadn’t seen it? How could I say anything much more than “that was good, I enjoyed it” or “That was rubbish”? How did reviews work? What was the point of them? I was only about ten at the time though. I finally realised their worth several years later when I would hear a new album or song and for some inexplicable reason if I really liked it I wanted to read other people’s thoughts about it. This still happens today, though I now wait till I’ve written my review before I see what other people say. So how did it all start….how do you learn to review if indeed it can be learned. After all it’s just your opinion and everyone has one. So where was I inspired to start putting mine into the public domain?


 

04/02/2021

Top of the Pops 16 Jan 1985

Presented by Chris Arnsby. Mike Read: “Welcome to Top of the Pops even more exciting and thrilling than EastEnders, and Dixie has borrowed a new jacket just for the occasion.” Dixie Peach: “Lots of great stuff and we're going to start with a song that was a hit for Elvis Presley back in 1969. Suspicious Minds. Fine Young Cannibals. At number 17.”
[17] Fine Young Cannibals: Suspicious Minds. Mike Read is wearing his tie in a low slung loop. It looks like he ran to the studio while still getting dressed. I've got a nagging memory of this trend which I think it started in a commercial; probably featuring some bright thrusting young Thatcherite washing their clothes in a new type of laundry powder or using their Dragon 32 to hack into the Pentagon.


 

02/02/2021

Space 1999 - Seed of Destruction & The Beta Cloud

Seed of Destruction
Sooner or later most sci-fi tv shows get round to the doubles episode wherein one or more of the regulars are somehow duplicated and it takes ages for anyone else to notice even though they are behaving out of character. This is one of those episodes and it is Commander Koenig who is copied when he goes exploring a mystery asteroid that is causing Alpha’s systems to malfunction. The place is largely covered in ice except for a crystalline cave in which he himself describes as like a hall of mirrors. This gives director Kevin Connor the opportunity to play some visual tricks with reflections which also forms the basis of the plot. For this is the resting place of what remains of a race called the Kalthons whose own world perished and who are cryogenically frozen waiting for an unsuspecting traveller to show up. Handily they speak English though we never really see them.