Author Archives: mrjohnnyandrews

Rocks In The Attic #715: Rod Stewart – ‘Body Wishes’ (1982)

RITA#715My Rod Stewart collection continues to grow and grow, despite me never having bought a Rod Stewart record in my life. I just keep acquiring them.

Even though his later records are junk compared to his more fruitful earlier material, both solo and with the Faces, I really don’t mind these later ones. I guess they could be described as mid-period albums, with his truly awful output these days being the ones to avoid like the plague.

I saw a documentary filmed at Rod’s house once. The guy loves football so much, he has a full-sized football pitch at the bottom of his house. I always thought that was a little extreme. It’s not like a snooker table or a dart board. You need twenty-one friends to come over and play on it to make it worthwhile. Not a problem, it seems, as he gets ten of his mates over and takes on the local amateur teams. Legend.

I’ve since seen that he’s bought another house and put a 7-a-side pitch in that one, so it looks like he’s slowly trading down.

This is Rod’s twelfth solo studio album and wasn’t received well despite a stonker of a lead single in Baby Jane, and a ‘so-1980s-it-hurts’ cover image paying homage to 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong.

Hit: Baby Jane

Hidden Gem: Move Me

Advertisements

Rocks In The Attic #714: Enya – ‘Watermark’ (1988)

RITA#714Enya’s been on my mind recently.

I haven’t been thinking of her directly. She was just mentioned in passing online, and it really made me laugh. Apparently the ticketing agent Ticketmaster may be taken to court in a class-action lawsuit for being calculating, advantageous cunts when it comes to their business practices.

The outcome may be that Ticketmaster have to make good on everybody that they’ve sold concert tickets to in the last umpteen years – which is pretty much everybody in the western world.

‘Fantastic,’ somebody said. ‘Whatever they provide will be essentially useless. They’ll probably give us tickets to see Enya in the Philippines.’

Enya’s the type of music that I struggle to listen to, not because of how it sounds – which is essentially bland, inoffensive mood music – but more because I have trouble imagining the type of person that would be impressed by it.

We didn’t have any Enya on in our house when I grew up. I imagine it was played a lot in the home-counties, by boring, middle-aged married couples who don’t like foreign food or swearing.

Hit: Orinoco Flow

Hidden Gem: Watermark

Record Release Schedule – Quarter 4, 2018

[Reprinted by kind permission of the Independent Record Stores Commission]

With the festive season quickly approaching, and only twelve release Fridays left before the end of 2018, it’s time to take a look at the key vinyl releases scheduled each week for the rest of the year.

As expected, the continuing strength of soundtracks and rock / pop reissues is set to drive this quarter’s sales.

Record Release Schedule aOct 12: John Williams – Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi Redux (Walt Disney Records). Take this auditory peek behind the velvet curtain as Star Wars composer John Williams reveals he didn’t like The Last Jedi either. Contains unused cues from the 2017 film, with titles such as ‘Luke Skywalker Alien Creature Milking Montage’, ‘Porg fight!’, ‘Let’s Not Bother With The Casino, Finn’, and ‘Luke’s Alive Goddammit’.

Record Release Schedule bOct 19: John Carpenter – Halloween [2018] OST (Sacred Bones Records). Get ready for Halloween with this exclusive variant available only at Bed, Bath & Beyond stores, limited to 750 copies. Comes with a free ‘Michael Myers’ coconut-scrub face mask.

Oct 26: Bob Dylan – Live In 2018 (Columbia Records). Dylan’s first contemporary live album since 1995’s MTV Unplugged contains 50 minutes of unintelligible lyrics and general grouchiness. Sit in the comfort of your own home and play Name That Tune as Bob murders another one of your favourite anthems, before you realise he’s just playing a 7-minute calypso version of ‘The Times They Are A-Changing’ in 5/4 time.

Record Release Schedule cNov 2: Hereditary: The Musical (Milan Records USA). You all screamed at the surprise horror hit of 2018. Advertised as this generation’s The Exorcist, it’s really this generation’s Rosemary’s Baby. Now join Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne and the rest of the cast as they take us through director Ari Aster’s original vision of the film as a Broadway musical. Featuring such timeless classics as ‘Touch The Glass, Charlie’, ‘Who’s That On The Ceiling?’, and ‘This Cake Tastes Weird (reprise)’.

Nov 9: Wes Anderson – Collected Soundtracks 1996 – 2018 (ABKCO Records). Limited Edition 10xLP Box Set in mustard-yellow corduroy packaging. Features the soundtracks to all nine Wes Anderson films, plus a bonus disc of random, wistful sound effects (seagulls cawing, dogs panting, distant locomotive noises, etc). Comes with a complimentary crushing sense of ennui.

Nov 16: Bill Cosby – The Complete Stand-Up Comedy Collection (Warner Bros. Records). Not expected to shift in huge quantities.

Nov 23 : The Beatles – The Beatles (‘The White Album’) 50th Anniversary Reissue (EMI / Apple Records). New 2018 stereo mix available as a 4xLP set which includes the standard 2xLP album and the 2xLP Esher Demos. Limited edition deluxe 6xLP set contains the standard 2xLP album, the 2xLP Esher Demos and a 2xLP experimental sound collage of Ringo playing chess in the studio with Beatles roadie Mal Evans.

Record Release Schedule eNov 30: Alan Silvestri – Avengers: Infinity War O.S.T. Thanos Edition (Marvel Music). Purple vinyl / infinity stone splatter variant. Disc splits in half after first listen, rendering it useless and pointless to revisit (much like most Marvel films).

Dec 7: Ron Howard – Solo: A Star Wars Story Live Q&A (Walt Disney Records). Listen to Ron Howard try and remain courteous and polite in this 2-hour Q&A session as every question revolves around Darth Maul’s timeline. Sample soundbite: “Erm, Mr. Howard, but if Darth Maul was sliced in half fifty years before the events of your film…why’s he even in your film…I, mean, it makes no fucking sense!” Limited to 1,000 copies in Spider-Legs Bullshit coloured vinyl.

Record Release Schedule gDec 14: Rupert Gregson-Williams – Aquaman O.S.T. (WaterTower Records). The soundtrack to the film that nobody’s waiting for. Listen as Jason Momoa literally jumps the lifeless shark of the DC Extended Universe. Limited edition ‘plastic sea pollution’ variant, limited to 0 copies (release numbers calibrated to meet audience demand).

Dec 21: Nirvana – The Christmas Album (Sub-Pop / Geffen Records). Long-rumoured festive album recorded in 1990 between the release of Bleach and Nevermind. Features Kurt and band singing holiday classics such as ‘Frosty The Tourettes-Ridden Snowman’, ‘White [Heroin] Christmas’ and ‘Last Christmas (I Gave You My Heart-Shaped Box)’.

Record Release Schedule hDec 28: Radiohead – Pablo Honey 25th Anniversary Super-Deluxe Box Set (EMI Records). Revisit the album people pretended to like in the mid-90s with this definitive release. Spread across 45xLPs, the collection features every inch of tape recorded for the Pablo Honey sessions, presented in the order it was recorded so it make no sense whatsoever. Limited to 1 copy worldwide, includes legal adoption papers for drummer Phil Selway (now surplus to requirements due to the band’s gradual move to drum machines).

Source: Independent Record Stores Commission (October 2018)

Rocks In The Attic #713: Mantovani – ‘Hollywood’ (1967)

RITA#713I don’t know anything about Mantovani. This may be a good thing.

All I know about him is that he’s used as a reference in a joke in Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker film from 1988. In the film, a young boy and his grandmother (shot in claymation) are on a guided tour of a Hollywood film studio. The young boy spots Jackson emerging from a sound studio – after filming the ‘young kids’ version of the Bad music video – and excitedly tries to tell his grandmother who it is.

“Look Granny, it’s M… Mm… M… Mm…”

“Mantovani?” she asks.

“No! MICHAEL JACKSON!”

RITA#713aThis compilation is a run through of ‘60s film classics played through the lens of Mantovani’s easy-listening orchestra. Think Henry Mancini’s Lujon applied to the melodies of John Barry, Elmer Bernstein and Maurice Jarre. It’s not as bad as it could be…

Hit: Goldfinger

Hidden Gem: Theme From Ben Hur

Rocks In The Attic #712: Various Artists – ‘Negro Spirituals’ (1961)

RITA#712I watched Soundtrack For A Revolution recently – Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman’s 2009 documentary charting the civil rights movement through its music. The films blends archival footage with studio performances of contemporary musicians interpreting songs from the struggle.

The performances were a little sterile, a little too VH1 Classics for my tastes – and included a song from Joss Stone of all people. Joss Stone? Really?

The archival footage was fantastic as always though – and provided a history of the movement from its inception up to the assassination of Martin Luther King. As a film, it’s not as powerful as Raoul Peck’s brilliant I Am Not Your Negro from 2016, although the two films do overlap as you might imagine.

RITA#712aI often wonder whether we’ll see documentaries like this in 30 or 40 years about the #metoo movement, or about the rise of trans-gender rights, or the (almost) universal acceptance of gay marriage. Part of the fascination with the civil rights movement is that it was originally reported on by a right-wing, conservative media with an arm-length stance that is difficult to fathom now. Current issues instantly provoke outrage from the liberal majority, and are reported on by a (more) liberal media, and so a documentary might be less revelatory than we have seen for twentieth century issues.

The Eighties documentary miniseries from CNN (originally broadcast in 2016) included a fairly lengthy segment about the AIDS crisis. This is something I remember hearing a lot about when I was growing up, but didn’t really understand the finer details like the initial confusion and lack of understanding about the disease.  Even such a brief, potted history within the confines of a much larger series was fascinating – and a full retrospective would make for a great subject in a feature-length documentary.

Hit: He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands

Hidden Gem: Jericho

RITA#712b

Rocks In The Attic #711: Alan Howarth – ‘Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers (O.S.T.)’ (1988)

11183_JKTOne thing I’ve learnt from my discussions with fans of horror movies and horror soundtracks is that the majority of them have poor, poor taste in films. They might have jobs and families, but it’s like they have the mental age of a 7-year old when it comes to films.

The first Halloween is a stone-cold classic. It’s more than a little responsible for the popularity of the slasher genre of horror films. It was made a shoestring budget, and became one of the most profitable films of all time.

Halloween II gets by mainly because of the same cast, the involvement of John Carpenter (now in the producer’s chair), and its continuity (it takes place immediately after the events of the first film).

Halloween III: Season Of The Witch is the outlier – a brilliant side-step away from the threat of murderous kid brother Michael Myers, into something far more terrifying. But there’s no accounting for taste, and its poor box-office performance almost killed the franchise.

John Carpenter walks away, and in steps Syrian-American film producer Moustapha Akkad, attempting to resurrect the series by returning Michael Myers to Haddonfield, Illinois.

Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers should have been subtitled The Disappearance Of The Roman Numerals. It is a bad film. The story is bad. The script is bad. The performances are bad – not least the dreadfully hammy acting by Donald Pleasance. The action sequences are bad. Everything is bad.

Probably the most unforgivable aspect of the whole film is the production design. Where Michael Myers once looked terrifying, he now looks comical. His white mask has changed since the earlier films. He now looks like a confused Asian businessman standing at a hotel buffet cart.

The only saving grace is the synth-laden soundtrack, by Carpenter’s musical collaborator, Alan Howarth. The Halloween theme, with its fantastically odd-time signature, makes a welcome return, and feels like the most Carpenterish element of the whole film.

Moustapha Akkad was killed along with his daughter in 2005, by a Al-Qaeda bomb in the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Amman, Jordan. The Rob Zombie directed 2007 remake of Halloween was dedicated to his memory.

Hit: Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers

Hidden Gem: Halloween 4 Reprise

RITA#711a

Rocks In The Attic #710: Muse – ‘The Resistance’ (2009)

RITA#710I don’t want to read too much into this but Muse were an awesome band when I lived in the UK. Then I left the UK and they went off the rails.

The rot set in with this, The Resistance, their fifth studio album, from 2009. Up to this point, each album saw Muse getting bigger and bigger, their sound solidifying into a massive wall of noise. Rock fans liked them, metal fans tolerated them, and when radio-friendly fourth album Black Holes And Revelations dropped in 2006, suddenly they were accepted by casual pop listeners.

Live 8 - ParisThe writing was always on the wall. When I saw them on their first tour, supporting debut record Showbiz, they wore t-shirts and jeans on stage. When I saw them on their second tour, supporting follow-up record, Origin Of Symmetry, they were still wearing t-shirts and jeans on stage. The next time I saw them, from the comfort of my television set, they were playing the Live-8 concert in Paris. Here, they looked like tour-guides from Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

The band had sold out and employed the services of an image consultant. A stylist now chose the clothes they wore on stage.

Don’t get me wrong, The Resistance isn’t the worst Muse album to date. I think that accolade lands safely with 2012’s The 2nd Law, with 2015’s Drones a close second. But The Resistance marks the point where the band starts running out of ideas.

First track and lead single Uprising takes more than a little inspiration from the Doctor Who theme – the first time a Muse single sounded like anything other than a Muse song. United States Of Eurasia finds them channelling Gershwin via Brian May’s signature guitar sound and Queen’s trademark layered harmonies.

But most importantly, the album finds them plagiarising their earlier selves – the march of Uprising sounds like a reprise of Time Is Running OutUnnatural Selection starts off sounding like Plug In Baby and ends up closer to Stockholm Syndrome. It’s all starting to feel very samey.

RITA#710aFast-forward to 2017 and I don’t even recognise Muse anymore. I get promotional emails from them, and it’s hard to take them seriously. Is this an email from a rock band, or a trendy men’s clothes store?

The thought of Muse as a world-conquering rock band seems like such a distant memory. The last couple of studio albums have been mired in a horribly tepid Europop sound. Matthew Bellamy used to write guitar riffs that would genuinely give me goosebumps. Now my default bodily response is to retch at the image of bassist Chris Wolstenholme in a leather jacket stolen from mardis gras.

But…what’s this? Muse have a new record out? And lead single Something Human sounds almost like the classic Muse of days gone by? The artwork for the new album looks terrible – and highly derivative of a lot of things, not least the cover of recent compilation Rise Of The Synths­­ – but my fingers are crossed anyway.

Most importantly, the most recent publicity photo of the band – a moody side-lit shot, no-doubt influenced by Robert Freeman’s With The Beatles cover image – shows that the band are possibly returning to their roots…

Hit: Uprising

Hidden Gem: Exogenesis: Symphony Part 3 (Redemption)

RITA#710b