Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Blast From The Past: The Rolling Stones

It took me a long time to really get into The Rolling Stones for a reason I have no idea. The old argument always rears its ugly head when talking about The Stones… y’know the one, Beatles or Stones? For me it’s The Rolling Stones every single time, don’t get me wrong I do like The Beatles and they have some great songs. However The Rolling Stones just have this edgy appeal and I really love their classic rock and roll sound. It's not too very long for The Stones to become one of my favourite bands of all time.

What I found hard was where to begin with getting into The Rolling Stones because the back catalogue is absolutely huge. It’s very hard to know where to start with a band that has changed its sound over the years. Thankfully there is a really, really good collection called ‘Rolled Gold Plus’ which features all the great Stones songs and really concentrates on their early career which for most is when they were at their best.

I always imagine myself being around in the 60’s and really, really adoring The Rolling Stones, it would’ve been so easy to back then because there wasn’t as much competition as there is today. The Rolling Stones are one of those special bands that only come around every 40 years or so. Actually I would suggest there has never been a band quite like The Rolling Stones.

When you listen to ‘Rolled Gold Plus’ you pretty much will not skip a song (obviously if you like the band) however some of my favourite songs include ‘Come On’, ‘I’m Free’, ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’, ‘It’s All Over Now’ to name four that come to mind.

Other songs like ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’, ‘Paint It Black’, ‘Sympathy For The Devil’, ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’, ‘Gimme Shelter’ and ‘Brown Sugar’ are more recognised songs. Obviously those songs mentioned are classic songs and ones that people will associate with The Rolling Stones.

However to me songs like ‘Get Off My Cloud’, ‘Play With Fire’, ‘Yesterday’s Papers’, ‘Time Is On My Side’ and ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’ are just as good if not better than the more famous Stones tracks. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are two of the most iconic rock legends of all time and there is no question that The Rolling Stones are considered one of the greatest bands of all time. They definitely deserve that label especially when you consider the band have been going for 46 years!

Classic Record: The Smiths – Meat Is Murder

Every person has an “album” that defines the music they love, or the band that they are obsessed with or even a time in their life which they can relate to an album. Some albums help people get through life’s obstacles or help them cure depression and so forth. The gist is that all people who really love music have an album that they always go back to and consider the album which most represents them. One of my friends says ‘Kid A’ by Radiohead, another says ‘The Holy Bible’ by Manic Street Preachers and you get the idea.

‘Meat Is Murder’ is the album which I’ll always return to when I don’t know what to listen or just because I want to listen an album I know will I love. Some fans of The Smiths will say that ‘The Queen Is Dead’ is the best album but I think die hard Smiths fans will argue that ‘Meat Is Murder’ is the best Smiths record. It’s an album which I think you need to give at least two or three listens from start to finish before you can really have an opinion on it.

What I love most about the album is that there is no stand out “hit” or single, perhaps ‘How Soon Is Now?’ is that song but even then I don’t think it’s one of The Smiths most commercial songs like ‘Panic’ or ‘This Charming Man’. Each song on the album is different to the next which is another thing I really love about the album. Lyrically the album is my favourite too with lyrics like “Belligerent ghouls, run Manchester schools. Spineless swines, cemented minds” in ‘The Headmaster Ritual’. One of my favourite lyrics of all time is from this album and is in the song ‘Rusholme Ruffians’. Morrissey at his very best when he sings “So… scratch my name on your arm with a fountain pen (this means you really love me).”

Some of Johnny Marr’s finest moments happen on ‘Meat Is Murder’ like in ‘I Want The One I Can’t Have’ and really every song on the album is as good as the next. ‘What She Said’ at two minutes forty-two seconds is a particularly short song in terms of the album but at the same time is just as fantastic as the ‘Barbarism Begins At Home’ which stands at six minutes and forty-eight seconds.

‘That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore’ is a slower song and contains such lyrics like “But that joke isn’t funny anymore. It’s too close to home and it’s too near the bone.” ‘Nowhere Fast’ and ‘Well I Wonder’ are two more fantastic Smiths songs and the closing song ‘Meat Is Murder’ is a fairly hard listening closer but at the same time a very daring and incredible ending track.

‘Meat Is Murder’ to me is the most perfect record I’ve ever listened to and it is an album that I know I’ll always love.

The Kills - Midnight Boom

Released back in March of this year this review is over five months late, but better late than never is definitely the motto to have. The Kills are one of those bands that other bands seem to love and a band who are often trying to innovate and progress their sound. That is something that you have to admire when there are so many run of the mill bands out there at the moment. You have to respect any band that try and be different in a world where every band appears to be the same.

‘Midnight Boom’ to me was not an album that instantly clicked with my ears but after giving it some time it definitely has grown on me a lot. The fact that The Kills only consist of two people makes their sound interest me and impress me so much. The album at times is very old school rock and roll and at times is extremely innovative and intriguing. Alison Mosshart’s voice at times reminds me very much of Karen O from Yeah Yeah Yeahs which is no bad thing.

The Kills are definitely doing great things for two pieces when you consider a two piece by the name of The Tings Tings are ruining the image of a boy/girl band should be about. Thank fuck that The Kills are nothing like the previously mentioned two piece.

Opening track ‘U.R.A. Fever’ kicks the album off to a pretty spectacular beginning and makes you want more tracks like it. Thankfully the album is full of songs as good, if not better than the opening song. ‘Getting Down’ is a great example of how two very different vocals on one song can work beautifully well if it’s done right.

‘Cheap and Cheerful’ and ‘Tape Song’ are two fantastic songs that really give the first half of the album a very strong start. ‘Last Day of Magic’ is and remains my favourite song from the record, Alison’s vocals sounding very strong and Jamie providing some great backing vocals as well.

Other songs such as ‘Hook and Line’, ‘Black Balloon’ and closing track ‘Goodnight Bad Morning’ makes this album a strong album from start to finish.


Label Focus: Rough Trade

Rough Trade is one of England’s most famous and oldest labels and it’s still going strong now and has some great record shops around London which put on some great in stores now and again. The label was founded in 1978 and is co-owned by original founder Geoff Travis and now Jeanette Lee (Public Image Ltd).

Rough Trade boasts some of the greatest bands and artists of the past thirty years including my favourite band of all time The Smiths. Other influential artists who’ve graced the Rough Trade label include Aztec Camera, The Fall, Delta 5, Galaxie 500, Television Personalities, Young Marble Giants and more.

Bands from the past ten years of rock, alternative and indie music include such artists like the heavily influential British band The Libertines and as influential New York band The Strokes. Arcade Fire are yet another important band from the past ten years that happen to be on Rough Trade too.

Other famous names include Jarvis Cocker, Belle & Sebastian, The Decemberists, Adam Green, The Long Blondes and many, many more. Rough Trade are one of the best labels of all time that include some of the most legendary artists of all time. Not many labels can say that!

Single: Port O'Brien - I Woke Up Today

Port O’Brien are a five piece from Oakland in California and their latest single from the album ‘All We Could Do Is Sing’ is one of the most catchy and toe tapping singles of the summer. Three minutes and twenty-one seconds is pure toe tapping goodness from the Californians.

‘I Woke Up Today’ is extremely infectious from the start, middle and right the way through to the end. The song starts with some simple “Ohhhh's” that you cannot help singing along to and then “I woke up today in a very simple way” which immediately sticks in your head for whatever reason.

The lyrics are fairly simple but at the same time they are fun and feel very summery (despite our summer being an absolute wash out and it not feeling like summer one little bit). This song is bound to be a big hit for the band because you just can’t help humming, singing and nodding along to it.


Batman Forever

Tim Burton departed as director and acted as producer for Batman Forever and Joel Schumacher took over (Flatliners, The Lost Boys, Phone Booth) the reigns from Burton, unfortunately in this case.

Batman Forever was a return to camp Batman, camp comic style films and a return to the bad. Don’t get me wrong I really thought that Val Kilmer was a great choice for Batman and he made Michael Keaton look pathetic as Batman. The cast is fantastic with Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey the perfect bad guys and Nicole Kidman the beautiful love interest.

How could a director get a film so badly wrong with such a brilliant cast? The only man who knows that is Joel Schumacher. I thought Jim Carrey was very good at times as The Riddler however he was far too annoying and for me The Riddler wasn’t as evil as he could’ve been. The Riddler is next to The Joker the best bad guy in the Batman comics and it could’ve been so, so much better. Tommy Lee Jones was very good as Harvey Dent / Two Face and he did the role proud and himself. Aaron Eckhart in The Dark Knight plays a different Dent but ultimately better despite Tommy Lee Jones solid performance.

Nicole Kidman was pretty cringe worthy at times and her scenes with Val Kilmer were not ones I enjoyed. Now. Robin, why? I think Robin is pathetic and any director who believes in the character of Robin should not be making Batman films. The choice to include Robin seemed very random and Chris O’Donnell was fairly lame as Robin.

What pretty much saved the film was Val Kilmer’s performance as Batman and at times Carrey as The Riddler and of course Tommy Lee Jones as Two Face. Otherwise this would be simply getting zero out of ten. Please don’t let Schumacher near any comic book adaptation ever again, and please Christopher Nolan don’t ever, ever bring back Robin.

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With no football currently it has been very easy to be drawn into watching the 2008 Olympic Games. It seems to be on all the time and just about everywhere you look there is something about the Olympics. So far in the Olympics there has been a heavy focus on the swimming events and there seems to be so many heats, finals and events in the pool you get lost with what’s going on.

It’s hard to ignore the fact that Michael Phelps is cleaning up big style as far as swimming goes. He is already considered the greatest Olympic athlete, swimmer and man in the history of the Olympic Games. I am just incredibly happy and feel extremely privileged that I was alive during his prime. The man must have fish DNA. No. Shark DNA. He is a monster in the pool and I won’t be surprised if he wins all the medals he has entered in for (eight; five won so far).

The British have done pretty well in the pool and it’s good to see that most of the swimmers we have are very young ranging from 17 to 20 years of age. So we have a good future ahead of us for the London 2012 Olympics. Although the men pretty much have no chance if Phelps is still swimming in 2012 which you imagine he will be.

I’ve also been fascinated with the table tennis; hockey and today the beach volley ball grabbed my attention. The game I was watching happened to be Russia versus Georgia, both countries I wouldn’t expect to be particularly good at the sport. How many beaches do Russia and Georgia have? Anyway Georgia were getting hammered in the first set but came back and beat the Russians which seems slightly fitting when you consider what’s happening between the two countries at the moment.

So far the games have been fantastic and with track and field events set to begin on Friday the Olympics will get a lot, a lot better.