Sunday, 22 September 2013
Saturday, 29 December 2012
In his place for Another Perfect Day was a Scottish chap called Brian Robertson, whose six-string work and song-writing had graced five of Thin Lizzy's albums, from Nightlife in ‘74 to Live and Dangerous in 1978, before he joined Motorhead in 1982.
Known as a brilliant lead guitarist and boasting a history like that, it’s fair to say that “Robbo” was a substantial talent, someone who should have added a lot to Motorhead’s sound as a part of the group.
Good, no? So why isn’t the album up there with Bomber and the like? Why has hardly anyone I know who’s into Motorhead bothered to give Another Perfect Day a listen?
Well, over the years Another Perfect Day’s been written off for being something of a failed experiment, specifically because it was “too pop” to be a “proper” Motorhead album.
Robbo’s Wikipedia page, for instance, says: "His relatively mellow playing style (by Motörhead standards) did not fit with Motörhead's music, resulting in sales of singles and the studio album coming in less successful than hoped for.”
Thing is, fans might not have bought into the work of the band’s post-Iron Fist line-up, but Lemmy certainly did. He adores Another Perfect Day. In a Metal Hammer interview from 2011, when asked about the prevailing negative fan reaction to the album, Mr. Kilmister said: “‘I know, I don’t get it. I love that album too, it’s just Brian [Robertson]that I couldn’t fucking stand. [grits teeth].”
Ouch. And you can sort of see why in this video interview of Lem and Robbo on Channel 4’s The Tube. Lemmy acts like a beered-up, uber-confident, laid-back, alpha-male metal oaf. Robbo, with his short hair, collared shirt and palpable fear (“I’ve never done this before!”) is clearly cut from very different cloth. And, alas, outside the world of sitcoms, odd couples rarely stay together for long.
So, yeah, the line-up was never going to last. In fact, Robbo only stuck around for a year and a half, playing his first gig with Motorhead in May 1982 and bowing out in November 1983. But, sod the personality clashes and tone-deaf masses! Another Perfect Day is well worth your attention. Indeed, if you enjoy Motorhead but you’re generally into catchier, more melodic music, it’s a dream come true.
It’s even a little soulful. Well, as far as Motorhead go, at any rate. I mean, just listen to this:
And if you keep digging through Another Perfect Day, you’ll soon notice that every track’s a gem. It the sequel Ace of Spades should’ve had! This is Motorhead at their most rewarding, and a lot of that is down to Robbo’s lead work.
In his autobiography, Lemmy mentions that Robbo spent an incredible amount of time in the studio overdubbing endless guitar parts and trying out different licks while recording Another Perfect Day, and this perfectionism clearly paid off no end. His melodic guitar parts are stunning, multi-layered and like nothing the band would ever see again. If you skipped the last tune, check out the last two minutes and you’ll hear what I mean...
It’s a shame that the Another Perfect Day line-up didn’t work out and Robbo’s been apparently written out of history by some Motorhead fans. But if you’re open minded and you already dig the band, I think you’ll find that that this lil rekkid’ll make another perfect soundtrack for your day. Ooh! See what I did there? Cor, I frighten meself, I really do.
Copyright be damned. Hear the whole ruddy thing here.
Monday, 17 December 2012
In November, former Iron Maiden singer Paul Di’Anno, who sang on the band's first two albums, got into a verbal confrontation with a guy in the crowd at a gig he was playing in the Ukraine.
The chap had apparently shouted out the name of Maiden’s current, and infinitely better-off, front-man Bruce Dickinson. Which, to put it mildly, wound Paul up a bit. He challenged the guy to a fight, making headlines in the likes of Classic Rock after dissing Dickinson and making some homphobic remarks about the “fan”.
But what the news stories didn’t pick up on was a remark Di’Anno made during his tirade. He said: “Yeah, you shouldn’t be offensive, mate; I came up here to work hard. If you don’t like me, fuck off!” (My italics)
I imagine Di’Anno has a harder time dealing with hecklers than some other professional musicians because, to him, rock and roll is now nothing but a job. A grinding, painful slog undertaken solely to stay solvent and alive. One, I think, he no longer enjoys.
For all his faults, and there are many, Paul Di’Anno is one of the hardest working musicians I know of. But for him, performing is quite literally - and necessarily - a full time gig.
Tour dates for March 2013 recently appeared on his Facebook page, and I dare say they’ll make sobering reading for anyone who assumes that Di’Anno must live a pretty cushy life.
Depending on who you ask, he either quit or was sacked from Maiden in 1981. After that, an attempt was made to launch him as a cookie-cutter eighties rocker a la Bruce Springsteen in 1984, which failed miserably. He more or less disappeared from mainstream view in the mid-'80s, and - to make matters worse - signed away his Maiden royalties years ago.
So consequently he'll be playing four days a week throughout the entire month in venues all over Sweden, Germany and Holland, belting out ancient Iron Maiden hits all the way. And this is the norm for Paul, week after week, month after month, year in, year out these days: playing all over the world, full time, just to keep going and get by.
Money is a pain in the arse, but it’s a central, integral worry in everyone's life. So, while it might seem trite talking about how the guy makes a living, I think that understanding how he keeps himself alive sheds a great deal of light on “where his head’s at".
He has to work hard for his money, and he does so at fairly significant personal cost.
By his own admission, he’s led a hard life - lots of drink, drugs, fags, fast sex and violence, and he’s probably paying the price at this point.
I mean, in his autobiography The Beast he admits that he's got a hole in his septum thanks to his cocaine abuse over the years; a quick glance at the Ukraine video reveals that he's a pretty big guy these days, and an acquaintance of mine claiming inside knowledge alleges that Di’Anno can’t stand up under his own power on stage any more, having to rely on a reinforced microphone as a makeshift cane.
He’s done time in the past as the result of a particularly violent episode in Los Angeles involving an ex-wife, and I think it’s fair to assume just isn’t the kind of guy who’s lived a particularly responsible life. Especially not financially.
Which explains why Paul tours so frequently these days. Because, as I say, he doesn’t enjoy it. This video interview is quite enlightening.
In it, Di’Anno complains of not having seen his family for 11 months and expresses a world-weary grumpiness about the tour he was doing when the interview was taped. He’s generally hacked off, and it’s not the first time he’s expressed that sort of sentiment about his hard rockin’ life.
In fact, he wrote a song about it. The centrepiece of his 2006 solo album The Living Dead is a track called Nomad, on which Di’Anno laments his life.
“I move around the world, seeking peace but finding none/A thousand cries for help but no pity underneath the sun/I have seen a world where nobody gives a damn/Shed your tears of blood children, all join hands to die” is how it kicks off, and it doesn't take too great a leap of imagination to see where that first line - or the nihilism in the rest - comes from.
Plus, the guy was convicted for benefit fraud in March 2011. He served two months of a nine month sentence for claiming £45,000 in incapacity benefit under false pretences. Say what you like about his scallywag nature - benefit fraud strikes me as something only a fairly desperate man would do.
I mean, he went to prison - and he had to have known he was running the risk when he decided to start carrying out his little scam. Owing to his unstable lifestyle, it's probably fair to assume that he did "need" the money.
Paul copped a lot of flack for his conviction, and deservedly so to a certain extent - not least because the evidence presented in court consisted of videos of his live performances hosted on his own website and YouTube channel.
But he showed up at the hearing on a walking cane, and I think it’s fair to say doesn't look a well man in the photos from the hearing:
These days, Dianno is busting a gut to earn whatever he can from his music - after a lifetime spent in rock bands and institutions, he presumably wouldn't know how to do very much else.
Look, I’m not saying he’s a saintly figure in need of of pity - I just think people should know the facts. Di’Anno is a fairly unique figure among performing musicians, owing both to his present circumstances and his past legacy, but he’s also, ultimately, just a man. An injured, troubled man with a job to do, and bills to pay. Like you. Unless you’re a woman. Cut him some slack.
Thursday, 23 February 2012
Each One Teach One is a very positive and enjoyable tune even when it’s not being messed about with by Augustus Pablo, but when he’s at the controls it’s all the better.
The tune’s real strength lies in the listener being able to pick up on the fact that the vocal track can be heard throughout. It is because this track, as anodyne as it may seem, contains so many allusions to the milestones of life that it is, quite simply, astounding.
The organ riff at the song’s start is a fanfare, but a fanfare to what? I would suggest the awakening of a thus far unformed mind beginning to crystallise, it being a paralinguistic/musical utterance. “Tomorrow may just be the same,” comes the first properly audible line of the song. The emergence of an understanding of causality in infancy is conjured up from the recesses of one’s mind.
Now it is important to bear in mind that the song is a, perhaps unconscious, musical depiction of the growth and maturity of a person’s mind. The emphasised, obvious vocal passages (“Keep us down…”), in their simple way, represent different generational stages of life, with the elderly mindset represented by the vocal at Each One’s end imploring for the help of some kind of deity just to understand its own condition.
The people who produced this smoked a lot of dope, and one is given to brooding about such matters when one has misted the mind with smoke. It may be wise, when listening to this tune, to proceed according to the example of the musicians. Either that, or harness the imagination to its fullest, I suppose…
Either way, throughout this track we are taken through the various different, emerging and dominant themes in one’s life. “I don’t know why some people have to keep us down,” sings the voice of adolescence, and so it goes.
But the vocal line is there, barely, almost impossible to detect without headphones. And its lyrics tell the tale of one’s struggle against the forces of injustice, their abstract isolation from context in the end taking on a mystical significance as the tune implores “I don’t know why…No…Don’t know, yeah…”
And do any of us? Do any of have any idea of what it’s all for? Of why we’ve developed the way we have, and are even able to ascribe such meanings to what is after all, just a pop song with the words turned down and some echo turned up? To what's nothing more than a collection of sound waves?
Thursday, 6 October 2011
Torture porn fans, rejoice! The BBFC have passed The Human Centipede part 2 (Full Sequence) for an 18 certificate in the UK after making 2m37s of cuts to the film.
The BBFC released details of the necessary cuts today (warning, cuts details may contain spoilers):
“[There were] 32 individual cuts to scenes of sexual and sexualised violence, sadistic violence and humiliation, and a child presented in an abusive and violent context.
“In this case, cuts included: a man masturbating with sandpaper around his penis; graphic sight of a man's teeth being removed with a hammer; graphic sight of lips being stapled to naked buttocks; graphic sight of forced defecation into and around other people's mouths; a man with barbed wire wrapped around his penis raping a woman; a newborn baby being killed; graphic sight of injury as staples are torn away from individuals' mouth and buttocks.”
So there you have it, folks. We Brits will be getting Human Centipede 2 in the UK but (some would say thankfully) not in its full-strength form.
Ian Sadler, Sales Director for Eureka Entertainment, the film’s UK distributor said: “We are really pleased that after nearly 4 months of detailed discussion and debate, we have been able to reach an agreement with the BBFC and to produce a very viable cut of the film which will both excite and challenge its fans. Naturally we have a slight disappointment that we have had to make cuts, but we feel that the storyline has not been compromised and the level of horror has been sustained.”
The Human Centipede II was rejected, and effectively banned, by the BBFC in its uncut form in June of this year.
Further details of the UK theatrical and DVD release will be announced early next week.
Tuesday, 30 August 2011
If you’re ever tempted to go to the Blues Kitchen in Camden, take my advice: don’t. I love the blues and I love live music but after spending all of about, oh, ten minutes in this pitiful tarted-up gastropub, I’d quite happily claim to hate both.
As a music venue, it’s an utter joke. Want to experience a night at the Blues Kitchen without actually going there? Easy peasy. Get on a packed tube train at rush hour while listening to BB King on your iPod at half-volume and throw ten pound notes out of the train doors every few minutes.
Though actually, that’s not quite true. At least on the tube you’re less likely to be shoved around by a crowd of preening, braying tosspots with no regard for personal space or etiquette.
Overpriced, overheated and full to bursting with inconsiderate scumbags, this venue is one of the worst I’ve ever been to. From the Google Image printouts of Mississippi John Hurt on its walls to its £4.50 shot prices (nearly a fiver for a shot, ferchirssakes), it tries half-heartedly to be an ersatz juke joint for U2 fans and fails even at that.
The final straw is that if you want to see any of the acts billed, you have to wait ‘til gone 10:30pm, just so the bloody place can crowbar yet more drinks money out of any poor misguided music fans who’ve been hoodwinked through the door.
I don’t want to waste any more of my time recounting what an utter hell-hole this place is: frankly it doesn’t deserve notice beyond “just don’t go”. No matter how good the acts are you see on the posters outside, you’d have more fun listening to a CD at home.
If you’ll pardon me getting a little scatological, fuck the Blues Kitchen, fuck it to hell. Even Camden Rock’s preferable to this. Never go there! Ever! Bah.
Friday, 12 August 2011
I’ve recently been listening to some of the Battletoads & Double Dragon SNES soundtrack pretty obsessively (God knows why, maybe I’m pregnant), but it was only today I bothered to seek out the Mega Drive/Genesis version of the game’s music. Carumba! What a difference. Evidently the two machines’ soundcards were worlds apart when it came to quality/fidelity. The SNES sounds like a decent quality boom-box; the Mega Drive like a swarm of angry, shrieking metal wasps (not that that's a bad thing). Compare these examples and marvel at how not all 16-bit games consoles were created equal…