Monday 29 November 2010

Shameless plug department

If you're not Following my other blog, 15 Albums, you're gonna miss out on my epic review of New Day Rising by Husker Du. And yu don't want to du that, du yu?

Do yourself ( and me ) a favour: check out 15 Albums. It's good for you. And it's full of marrowbone jelly. ( That last statement might be a lie..... )

Saturday 27 November 2010

UK Subs ( Gloucester Guildhall 25/11/2010 )

Old Punks never die: they just keep on touring!

On a freezing cold Thursday night the UK Subs brought their old school Punk/r 'n' b/noise to Gloucester ( non-Hitsville UK ) and ruined the hearing of an appreciative Guildhall audience.

I've never been the biggest Subs fan - I used to have their first album, Another Kind Of Blues, but flogged it years ago, and now only possess a few of their old singles. But I saw them a couple of years ago at the same venue and they were much better than I'd expected, so I had to go back for more. I went with Chinese Burn star Glenn and also caught up with a couple of other old friends, the mighty Mark ( ex-Death Planet Commando ) and ace trombone-player ( really! ) Caz.

We missed the first band, who went by the delightful name of Joe & The Sluts, but caught Gloucester's Street Punk kings the Noise Agents ( frontman Andy above ). The Agents rose from the ashes of legendary local band Demob and play the same brand of shouty, '80s-style Oi!
It's the kind of music I would have enjoyed a lot more when I was 14 or so and into bands like the Angelic Upstarts, Cockney Rejects, Blitz and the lovely 4-Skins. It's a determinedly angry, aggressive and ugly style of music, all sledgehammer riffs and shouted slogans. So, it was perfect as a means of teenage rebellion, especially when it was almost universally reviled by the media taste-makers and trendies. Unfortunately, it doesn't strike the same chord for a forty-something. Well, not this forty-something, anyway. But, to be fair, the Noise Agents are good at what they do, have a few decent tunes struggling to break free, and main man Andy is a dynamic, committed frontman, all clenched fists and bulging veins.

The Subs themselves came on to a rapturous reception from Punks of a certain age and one or two young 'uns. It's hard to believe that frontman Charlie Harper, who has led the band since they formed in 1976, is 66 years old - he's just as commanding and up-for-it as many singers half his age, and actually has a pretty good singing voice when he reigns in the shouting. The band were very tight and together, and clearly enjoyed themselves. The sound was excellent, clear and loud, something which the Guildhall crew has got much better at over the years.

The Subs played a number of new songs which, although very much in the style of their old material, showed that they're not just a nostalgia band. But, really, we were there for the old stuff..... and we got it: Warhead, Stranglehold, Tomorrow's Girls, New York State Police, CID, all perfect 3-minute blasts of Punk designed to make you hurtle about and crash into people on the dancefloor. As ever it was all good-natured rough-and-tumble, with no-one getting hurt but everyone having a great time, even when being crushed against the barrier at the front. ( Ooh, me ribs! )

The set soon whizzed by, Party In Paris was blasted out, we called Charlie's Barmy Army back for a couple of encores, and that was it. A great evening of rock 'n' roll mayhem with your mates - what more could you want?

Before we lurched back out into the sub-zero conditions, knackered but happy, I got a couple of shots of post-gig camaraderie:

That's Glenn on the left - former star of The Possessed, LD50, Victims Of Emotion and Who's Todd? - current star of the fantastic Chinese Burn, and one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. Glenn you rock!! Behind us is Marcus, the ( excellent ) drummer from Noise Agents, craftily sneaking into the photo. And the bloke in the guitar T-shirt, wearing somebody else's pint is your humble blogger, moi.

And here's Glenn again with the awesome Caz, number one Crass fan and multi-instrumentalist.

Cheers guys ( and Mark - sorry, your picture fell down the back of the hard-drive ) - let's do it again some time!

Soundtrack: UK Sub(versive)s

Sunday 21 November 2010

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part One

".....And this year's Twilight Award for Moping About In The Woods goes to.....
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part One, otherwise known as Harry Potter And The Quest For Center Parcs."

It's been an oft-quoted publicity cliche that each Harry Potter film is "darker" than the one before, and with this penultimate movie they ain't kidding! The story follows on directly from The Half-Blood Prince, with no recap, and finds our heroes in dire straits, with Dumbledore dead, the good guys on the run and Voldemort's minions taking control of the Ministry Of Magic. As well as thematically, the film's also visually dark and cold, with scene after scene set in bleak, grey landscapes or darkened rooms. Harry, Hermione and Ron find themselves alone and unaided in a seemingly-impossible quest, whilst beset at all times by enemies and traitors, as well as their own fears and frustrations. So we're a long way from the cosy Hogwarts days of Quidditch, inter-House rivalries and butterbeer.....

We've heard time and again that the reason for splitting JK Rowling's last HP book into 2 films is that there is so much important plot to get through, and not because of, you know, greed or anything. But in this movie we get a situation where new characters are briefly introduced and/or mentioned without much development or explanation ( Mundungus Fletcher, Bathilda Bagshot, Gellert Grindelwald ) whilst an unequal amount of time is spent on the three main characters hanging around woods, looking miserable, as if they're auditioning for the Cullen family. The "Deathly Hallows" themselves get a cool animated origin story but their significance is skimmed over.

But I don't want to be too down on the film. There are some exciting set-pieces, like Harry and the gang infiltrating the Ministry Of Magic ( again! ) before fighting their way back out, and some kinetic chase-scenes through those old dark woods. For all the film's gloom, the locations are often stunning - beaches, moors and lakes all combining to dwarf the lost young wizards as their quest seems more and more hopeless. And the trio of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have now suitably matured as actors to carry the film's longeurs without the aid of paternal figures like Michael Gambon or Gary Oldman.

Although I'm slightly worried that the pacing of Part One means that the final movie will be one big rush to the finish line, I'll still be there for young Mr. Potter. I think he'll need all the help he can get.....

Soundtrack: The Recluse / She Said / Stay Too Long by Plan B

Friday 19 November 2010

Farrah Fawcett..... on a skateboard?

That looks like exactly the same crappy, plastic skateboard I had back in the 1970's. Even down to the strip of black grip-tape you had to stick on to give yourself even a minimal chance of staying on the narrow, slippery board. Of course, living in the countryside, I wasn't in the best place for skateboarding - it wasn't much use on grass! - although I did skate around the concrete farmyard in the dry, summer days and hurtle down the nearby motorway bridge, avoiding the occasional tractor. Them were the days!

( I had to chuckle, on seeing this photo, 'cos Sarah's recently had her hair cut and a friend remarked how she now looks like Farrah Fawcett! Probably not the look she was going for..... )

Sunday 14 November 2010

Dear Blogger.....

.....It's me, cerebus. Hi.

I know I haven't been around much lately. Don't worry: it's not you, it's me. I've just been kinda busy. And no, there's no other social networking site involved ( except Facebook ) .....

I know I missed our second anniversary but I promise to try harder next year. I might even buy you a card :-)

So, what's been going down in Groove Town?
Well, for starters we're still in the process of clearing my Mum's house and tidying up her affairs. And it's a long and sad process. We thought we had a buyer for the place a couple of weeks ago but it fell through. Hey ho, back to the ol' drawing board. There's also a lot going on with the kids: James has recently started a new school which has been going very well, apart from one little hiccup; and Sophie has been going through various teenage/boyfriend/school dramas which can be quite draining, but she did recently have a great school trip to beautiful Barcelona, which did her a world of good. Apart from that it's just the old work/home/sleep/work routine as ever.

But there are a couple of things to look forward to on the horizon. We're going away at Christmas for the first time ever - three days in a hotel in Devon, so that should be good; a change of scenery and a chance to recharge batteries. And on a less chilled-out note, I've just bought my ticket to see crusty old Punk institution, the UK Subs, at Gloucester's rock 'n' roll mecca, The Guildhall. Should be fun! Review to follow, hopefully.

Anyway, cheers for listening, Blogger. It's not often I peer out from behind my mask of pop culture ramblings, but I'm glad I did. Hope it wasn't too whingey and, hey, thanks for stopping by! You stay classy, San Diego. ( Bloody Hell, I'm turning into Ron Burgundy! By Odin's Beard! )

Monday 1 November 2010

Reading Update: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Suitably for Halloween week I've recently finished ( re- ) reading Ray Bradbury's spooky classic of small-town American Gothic, Something Wicked This Way Comes. That's my battered copy of the book above, which is about as old as me :-)

I've posted a short review on the SFX Book Club forum:

( I was going for a Bradbury-esque vibe, but I think it just came out pretentious..... )

Default Re: SFX BOOK CLUB 57: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Beneath the tattooed skin of this book, with its nightmare circus and gruesome sideshow freaks, the meat of the story deals with the joy and pain of growing up and growing old. Bradbury's prose is a hymn to late summer days, blood brothers, skinned knees and the approach of Halloween. Two teenage boys and an old-before-his-time father have to face their fears and desires as Cooger and Dark's carnival pulls into town in the dead of night, promising renewed youth for some, a fast-track to adulthood for others. And from the sideshows and tents, out come the freaks: the Dwarf, the Illustrated Man, the Skeleton and the terrifying Dust Witch. Bradbury's characters are put to the test by this bizarre crew of misfits, and their souls are the prize. With its decaying, autumnal feel Something Wicked... is a unique fantasy of life, death and all the moments inbetween.


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