Sunday, 30 January 2011

IAN SMITH'S BLU-RAY PODCASTS

Blu-ray collecters really should check out Ian Smith's weekly Blu-ray podcasts.
Here, you'll find beautifully presented reviews containing always honest - sometimes damning - opinion and all the info you need to best inform any potential purchase. Ian goes into the nuts and bolts of weekly releases, using snippets from interviews to provide a complete picture of the film in question. This really is well worth half an hour of your time, so join the rest of us and click HERE!

Friday, 28 January 2011

15 FAVOURITE LIVE ACTS # 2




Siouxsie And The Banshees. The first time I really connected with the name was in 1977, when I began travelling to London's world famous Marquee club. There, sprayed on an entrance wall, was the legend: "Siouxsie And The Banshees. Sign them up. Do it now!" Before long, I'd heard their beautifully fractured sounds on the John Peel show and began a long assocation with the band, seeing them live on many occasions.
The Royal Albert Hall gigs (recorded for a video), the memorable Juju tour (where I caught them on 3 occasions), a bad tempered affair in Nottingham where Sioux and Severin whacked over-zealous bouncers with a crutch and base guitar, and a manic gig at Sheffield Top Rank where Calire Grogan's Altered Images played an admirable support set.
Just a few personal highlights from a golden period where the late John Mcgeogh and Robert Smith weaved their guitar magic with a stack of wonderful 45's which - along with The Jam - established the band as one of our finest singles outfits.

After a few years, the Marquee graffiti disappeared and it seemed like a small part of the club's spirit had gone with it. Happily, band and venue continued for some years to come, ensuring their place in history.

This is one of my favourite Banshees tracks, and I hope you enjoy it

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

15 FAVOURITE LIVE ACTS



Over the years, I've been lucky enough to see some wonderful bands performing live and thought I'd share my top 15 with you, plus 'The One That Got Away' (which will be reserved for last).Some of my choices include groups who I've seen on many occasions, while one or two are just based on one performance that blew me away.
I'll be doing one each week, and my first choice are a group that achieved legendary status.
Years after their demise, Joy Division are still attracting new admirers and stirring affectionate memories for those who were there at the time.
My first encounter with JD was at the Derby Assembly Rooms where they played support to The Buzzcocks. Both bands were excellent, but Joy Division shaded it for me, with the icy beauty of their music casting a spell on the audience. The late Ian Curtis was both physically and mentally exhausting to watch, thrashing and contorting to the at times savage rhythms of his colleagues. Months later, I caught them again at Derby's Ajanta Theatre; a gig which would turn out to be their penultimate. I left the concert on a high, full of admiration for a band that had reached new heights before my eyes and ears. The Ajanta was never the best as far as acoustics were concerned but this didn't seem to matter. It was our club. The place where I caught such bands as The Only Ones, Bauhaus, Stiff Little Fingers, The Pop Group, Throbbing Gristle, The Damned and many others. Here, Joy Division excelled and it was the last time I saw them. Later on, I'd witness New Order playing live but that's another story...

15 FAVOURITE LIVE ACTS #1

Over the years, I've been lucky enough to see some wonderful bands performing live and thought I'd share my top 15 with you, plus 'The One That Got Away' (which will be reserved for last).Some of my choice reflect groups who I've seen on many occasions, while one or two are just based on one performance that blew me away.
I'll be doing one each week, and my first choice are a group that achieved legendary status.
Years after their demise, Joy Division are still attracting new admirers and stirring affectionate memories for those who were there at the time.
My first encounter with JD was at the Derby Assembly Rooms where they played support to The Buzzcocks. Both bands were excellent, but Joy Division shaded it for me, with the icy beauty of their music casting a spell on the audience. The late Ian Curtis was both physically and mentally exhuasting to watch, thrashing and contorting to the at times savage rhythms of his colleagues. Months later, I caught them again at Derby's Ajanta Theatre; a gig which would turn out to be their penultimate. I left the concert on a high, full of admiration for a band that had reached new heights before my eyes and ears. The Ajanta was never the best as far as acoustics were concerned but this didn't seem to matter. It was our club. The place where I caught such bands as The Only Ones, Bauhaus, Stiff Little Fingers, The Pop Group, Throbbing Gristle, The Damned and many others. Here, Joy Division excelled and it was the last time I saw them. Later on, I'd witness New Order playing live but that's another story...

WHISTLE AND I'LL COME TO YOU


Christmas Eve. A perfect time to curl up in front of the fire and read a good old fashioned ghost story. M.R. James was probably the numero uno when it comes to creating literary spine-chillers,and the small screen has been graced by several worthy adaptations of his work The BBC had previously broadcast a fine translation of WHISTLE AND I'LL COME TO YOU, starring Michael Hordern, which hit all the right notes. Now, we have a modern re-working of this tale and once again BBC did the honours, possibly resulting in a split between hard-line James buffs and those who were not averse to some significant plot revision.

Here, John Hurt takes centre stage as James Parkin; a recently retired academic who leaves his catatonic wife in a nursing home and travels to a coastal resort in search of a few days break. When Parkin finds an old ring on the seemingly deserted beach, all manner of strange sights and sounds come forth, installing an atmosphere of dread and a longing for life to be as it once was.
Consumed by guilt at having to leave his sick wife behind, Parkin is haunted by a body that has outlived its personality, which is probably even more frightening than any supernatrual manisfestation. Indeed, this is very much a tale for our times, highlighting the pain of having to let go, with the nursing home (like the hotel) boasting a single member of staff like some gatekeeper who has always been there.

I was surprised to learn this is the first ghost story featuring John Hurt's involvement and, as you might expect, he's perfect for the role truly conveying the air of a disturbed man.
While this particular version may upset some with its script liberties, I found WHISTLE AND I'LL COME TO YOU to be worthwhile viewing, and a nice companion to the previous, slightly superior take.

Monday, 3 January 2011

PETER POSTLETHWAITE RIP


i was absolutely gutted to hear the sad news that Peter Postlethwaite passed away yesterday evening.
Of course, Peter was one of our national treasures, and started his love for the creative arts as a drama teacher, before moving on to the stage.
Roles with The Royal Shakespeare company became a stepping stone to highly acclaimed work in television and feature films, where Peter matured into one of the finest actors of his generation.
THE USUAL SUSPECTS and BRASSED OFF are just two of the films he'll be remembered for, demonstrating real range and an ability to get right inside his characters.

Peter left us at the age of 64, and will be sadly missed by the world of cinema and beyond. RIP big fella.