Tuesday, December 13, 2011

1981 Films of the Year

Christiane F
Cutter’s Way
Escape From New York
The Evil Dead
Fort Apache the Bronx
Halloween II
Mad Max 2
On Golden Pond
The Postman Always Rings Twice
Southern Comfort
Whose Life is it Anyway?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

1991 Films of the Year

Boyz n the Hood
Cape Fear
Close My Eyes
The Company of Strangers
Death in Brunswick
The Doors
The Fisher King
The Hard Way
The Indian Runner
Johnny Suede
Journey To Knock
Let Him Have It
Life is Sweet
The Linguini Incident
Little Man Tate
Meet the Applegates
Rambling Rose
The Silence of the Lambs
Terminator 2: Judgement Day

1981 45 The Jam Absolute Beginners

1991 Morrissey covers Weller

1981 LP The Human League Dare

2001 Albums of the Year

Air 10000hz Legend
The Beta Band  Hot shots II
Bjork  Vespertine
Beachwood Sparks  Once We Were Trees
Gorillaz  Gorillaz
New Order  Get Ready
Pulp  We Love life
Radiohead  Amnesiac

1991 45 The House of Love The Girl With The Loneliest Eyes

1981 45 Laurie Anderson O Superman

2001 Band of the Year Asian Dub Foundation

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

1981 comic Battle

1971 Films of the year

And Now For Something Completely Different
A Clockwork Orange
The French Connection
Get Carter
Harold and Maude
McCabe and Mrs. Miller
Play Misty For Me
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

2001 September the eleventh

1991 Feile, Thurles, Co. Tipperary

1981 band of the year Soft Cell

Back in the days when everything wasn’t available instantly, my friends and I would share our music. If you made a new friend you usually discovered a new band. 
I knew Soft Cell from their run of singles in 81-84 and always liked them. 

In the summer of 84 through the enthusiasm of a friend who held much more than my casual admiration for them, I had their entire catalogue at my disposal. 
It was a rich listening experience, a gritty gaudy pop arty tarty steampipe synthesized jangly gothic comic freakout.
Marc Almond sounded compulsive, intense, constantly on the brink of breakdown/insanity – his hilarious half improvised song poems soundtracked by Dave Ball’s thumping crisp arsenal of machines invented in the 70s. 

So much of it resonated, the melancholic manic absurdity of his reflections on youth and modern society. 
I was particularly fond of Where The Heart Is and its b side It’s a mug’s game and Soul Inside also was a great late single of theirs.

Album wise though, their debut takes some beating. It has an almost clinical everlasting freshness and bounce to it. 
The sleeve evoked New York, after dark, make up, Soho, drugs, loud clubs, twilight. The songs relived suburban boredom, secrecy, underground hedonism and heartbreak.
Marc’s sexuality didn’t resonate with me at all. I liked his look esp the Spanish goth bit and the bangles but it was the 90s before it clicked that he was gay which seems shortsighted now but I really was quite literal with my interpretations of his lyrics/female backing vocalists. It made sense that he was gay but from my point of view neither here nor there.

I remember listening to it on a Walkman in 1984 wandering near square concrete buildings and again in a park in London in 1988 feeling nostalgic for 1984/1981 huhhh - at 17??. 
After this album they were determined to have a dense sound, imprint more of themselves onto it - to dirty it up maybe to get away from the stark crisp brilliance of their debut  

what they said in 1981:

“Soft Cell offer up a glibly conceived ride through a funhouse of fetish and kink” - New York Rocker

“some of the most dispassionate songs since Transformer, some of the cruelest criticisms since vintage Zappa, and some of the most pathetic posturing since Queen. Pop at its most potent. Pop at its most pointless” Melody Maker 

“Soft Cell have provided the reason for shouting eureka!, whether in the bath or not” – Sounds

Sunday, July 31, 2011

1981 45 Fire U2

An annoying notion often flung around since the late 80s is that U2 didn’t have a hit single until New Year’s Day in 1983 or even Pride in 1984. Granted, the goalposts changed considerably for them through the 80s and the success of The Joshua Tree inevitably dwarfed any early achievements. 

However, if you’re particularly fond of these early achievements you tend to resent them being misremembered/labeled incorrectly e.g. Fire, their 6th single released in Aug 1981 was a hit.  It reached no. 35 in the UK charts, they appeared on Top of the Pops, ah c'mon lads is that not a hit?

I was watching the show in my cousins’ house in Enniscorthy and when they appeared I remember being excited and aware of its significance – that it was the first hit single by a new Irish band since the Rats or Lizzy. The Rats had been appearing on TOTP since 77 which seemed a lifetime ago to me (cos it nearly was). There was more to it- of which I was barely aware - they operated from Ireland and were distinct. Here they were on Top of the Pops – result.

 I already knew I Will Follow and Out of Control from the radio, Boy was floating around on a reel to reel tape that summer and October was snapped up by my brother in, um, October .
Fire was shuffly and mildly explosive - not a classic song but punctuated by several distinct moments that could define their sound. For a ten year old Irish music nerd it was ground zero.
 In my mind when Gloria, the next single came out, they were elevated to great heights. In reality they weren’t – Gloria stalled at 55 and October got middling reviews. I was blissfully unaware of this as my media filters were mostly Irish – RTE bigged them up continually (correctly). In 1982 BP Fallon did a 2 parter of his BP Fallon Orchestra on them on Radio 2, I thought ooh, they’re getting big now. Gloria and Fire were unofficial anthems to young teenagers at discos throughout Ireland for the bones of the 80s. You did a kind of backwards roundabout feet together bumpy bop to it and I'll still drag it out when I need the heat. Gloria remained prominent in their set till the late 80s but Fire died out much sooner. All spent with nowhere to grow -there was no trace of it on their 80s singles compilation in 1998- talk about too much perspective, boys. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

2001 Films of the Year

The Believer
Donnie Darko
Ghost World
Gosford Park
In the bedroom
The Lord of the Rings
The Man Who Wasn’t There
Monsoon Wedding
Mulholland Drive
The Pledge
Riding in Cars With Boys
The Son’s Room
Vanilla Sky
Waking Life
Y tu mama tambien

1991 real life - Leysin Festival, Switzerland

1981 LP JuJu Siouxsie and the Banshees

Sometimes, at least for a while, you just have one album by an artist and this was our Banshees album. My brother bought it in the summer of 1981 on the strength of the hit single Spellbound and it hit the ground running in our house. It’s a strong, evocative and haunting work and it soundtracked many a board game and jigsaw puzzle.

Guitarist John McGeoch's exceptional playing is rightly acclaimed but it shouldn't be overestimated - everyone here has raised their game. The key dynamic for each song is the insistent interlocking rhythm of the guitar against Budgie’s drums propelled by Steven Severin’s bass and haunted by the singer's swooping call.

It is Siouxsie's voice as percussion/messenger/human instrument that binds the piece, makes it exotic yet recognisable and unique.

Side one is remarkable, kicking off with Spellbound, a thrilling single from a summer full of thrilling singles, followed by the hook laden Into The Light featuring the unusual dulcimer instrument. The first half-minute of Arabian Nights (another hit) demonstrates all their powers, the creepy introductory chord harnessed by halting toms sinks into a smothering groove verse before a thundering celebratory chorus.

The punkier Hallowe'en is next and it segues into Monitor of which the opening rhythm chords eventually explode brilliantly into the song proper. Monitor is the centrepiece for me and is the most played punky band abrasive rock type song in my world for the last few years – I think it’s aged very well.

I haven’t heard side two as much as the other side but I intend to - it ranges from epic darkness (Nightshift, Voodoo Dolly) to violent funk rock (Head Cut) and all out one-note-song-by-attitude shocker Sin in my Heart.

 The record sleeve looks like how the record sounds, a cryptic postcard from a strange hot land east of the Nile, gold and black music notation snips pasted Burroughs next to the head of a mysterious statue.  The songs took you to places – hotter stickier and scarier.  The album has a bit of a reputation as the template of goth and as the defining moment/millstone for the Banshees but I just think of it as a really good album which evokes enough powerful memories to prevent me overplaying it . 
It’s a shaker. It’s a breaker.

Contemporary quotes:

      NME - “ a gliding, comfortless delivery of self-distrust, infatuation and fetishism”
      Melody Maker - “they’ve already composed quality nightmare soundtracks and they don’t need to do it again”
      Sounds – “doom is at the door…creating something intriguing, intensely brooding and powerfully atmospheric”

“Sit back and enjoy the real McCoy….” (Monitor)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

1971 - arrival

This is where I started and this is where we begin. 1971 early January it's a boy. The year hadn't drawn much breath before I drew mine, How did my mother make Xmas dinner for five children and a husband who liked his plates hot with me and the turkey in the oven. I've been collecting pictures in my non existent spare time of 1971 the digits , here's one of a wine box. Send me some if you have any. Ugh...