Archive

Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Kraftwerk at the Royal Albert Hall

November 5, 2016 3 comments

99c3f134-cf55-4980-acc4-da0d3acf7d23A couple of weeks ago my very good friend Danny heorically did the tedious cyclical internet thing that is sadly now standard for these big events, and managed to get tickets for the Kraftwerk gigs next June at the Royal Albert Hall.

Despite it being more than 8 months away, to say I’m excited would be an understatement, and the show will hopefully go someway to making up for the frustration of not getting tickets for the Tate gigs a few years ago.

It won’t be the first time I’ve seen Kraftwerk with Danny, although that didn’t quite work out as we’d hoped…

Back in 1996 (which I’ve just realised was 20 years ago…) we were at The Tribal Gathering Festival at Sutton Hoo, where along with a hugely impressive line up of artists including Orbital, Daft Punk, Gus Gus, Digweed, Sasha, Jeff Mills, Hardfloor, Marshal Jefferson, Masters at Work, John Peel, Fabio & Grooverider etc etc, the mysterious Dusseldorfers were down to play their first live set in the UK for five years…

2bolptgUnfortunately we got carried away with the quality and excellence of the day, misjudged the number of people that were there specifically to see Kraftwerk, and headed rather belatedly to the Trans Europe tent only to find it was super rammed. The closest we could get was behind about ten rows of people outside the entrance to the tent. Amazingly (and I honestly don’t think this would happen nowadays) the organisers took down half of one side of the tent, so that people outside could at least see the lights and hear a bit better…

I think we stayed for 4 or 5 tunes before giving it up as a bad job and heading off elsewhere. Orbital as I remember were absolutely outstanding that day…

So, fingers crossed that next years shows in the wonderours surroundings of the Royal Albert Hall will go some way to addressing the paucity of my live Kraftwerk experience…

The only slightly nagging doubt is the description of the concerts as 3-D. This could mean that we’re all wearing funny specs and in for a stunningly visual treat, but it might also mean that the single remaining original Werker, Ralph Hutter, might not actually be there in person, opting instead to send the bands robot avatars to enteratin us…

We shall see, but regardless, when that car door slams shut and the VW Beetle ignition turns over, I for one will be a very happy man….

kraftwerk-the-robots-2004-11-10

_64578543_64578542

kraftwerk_00025

Advertisements

The Bizzare Captain EO….

October 31, 2016 Leave a comment

Michael-Jackson-Captain-EO-Back-3D-DisneylandI came across a 30 year old story recently involving three of the biggest names in music and film that I didn’t have the faintest idea about… So on the assumption that you might not have heard of it either and have a spare couple of minutes to read this and 16 minutes to watch the film, it goes something like this…

In August 1985 George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola announced that along with a certain Michael Jackson they were working on “the ultimate movie experience”.

Originally known as the “International Music Man” the production now known as Captain EO (from the Greek eos or dawn) was a Disney generated idea for a themed park ride. Disneyland was struggling around the mid 1980’s and saw the idea of a big production with even bigger names, as a way of reversing the fortunes of the theme park. Accompanying the ride would be a short film that would be exclusive to the park and would not go on general release, so (they hoped) ensuring people would drive to the park to see the new attraction…

Captain EO was the tale of an emissary of light, a messiah if you will, travelling the universe saving its denizens through the gifts of song and love. There would be spaceships, space battles, assorted alien creatures and unsurprisingly with MJ on board, unfeasible amounts of dancing…

eo301

One of the first films made with the then nascent 3D technology, it was also described by Disney as the worlds first 4D production. As it was only shown in specially modified cinemas at Disneyland, the on screen effects were supplemented with lasers, smells, smoke and flying asteroids filling the cinema auditorium itself.

-Captain-Eo-Set-michael-jackson-7357527-1098-720

Like so many things involving MJ at the height of his fame, budget was seemingly not a major consideration and as a consequence the film ended up being the most expensive production ever made up to that time, supposedly almost $1 million per minute and with more effects per minute than Star Wars.

Time however was a limiting factor with both Ford Coppolla and Lucas having other projects already lined up, so once the story had been finalised, principal photography was wrapped up in less than two weeks…

eop220092LARGEBy all accounts the first edited version seen without many of the state of the art effects, was lamentably poor, allegedly it was even hidden from senior Disney executives for a while, it was so underwhelming. Jackson was no lead actor and the Muppet’s in Space appearance didn’t give the production much in the way of credibility or gravitas…

Additional filming and further editing got the film to a more acceptable state (although you can make your own mind up about that) despite one of the principle muppet characters having been lost and replaced by a painted ballcock and Angelica Houston’s role as the principle baddie being significantly reduced (possibly at her own request…)

The end result is a very strange thing. Even allowing for the now 30 year old effects, it seems unbelievably ropey given the money, talent and staus of the key players involved. A hybrid of ideas stolen from Star Wars, Alien (Houston’s Spider Queen), MJ’s Thiller video, Frank Oz’s The Dark Crystal and all points in between. Even the songs seem halfhearted and unconvincingly delivered when compared to Thriller from 2 years earlier and Bad from two years later.

Perhaps its not surprising then that even after all these years and despite a huge demand for it to be made available after Michael’s death in 2009, it can still only be seen in very poor quality versions like the one below..

There’s a detailed account of the films history here if  you’re interested..

Star Wars Record Sleeves

October 16, 2016 Leave a comment

This has probably been a thing for some time now, but surprisingly its only just caught my eye…

Doesn’t need much explanation. Instantly recognisable classic album sleeves re-imagined with instantly recognisable characters from Star Wars….

What a genius idea…..

01-star_wars_album_cover

star-wars-album-lando

star-wars-album-han-solo

 

1194850-6

1194850-10

star-wars-album-covers-02

1194850-18

1194850-11

1194850-22

1194850-20

star-wars-album-hyper-space

 

A Freestyle No. 1: Kungs vs Cookin’ on 3 Burners

June 17, 2016 Leave a comment

My very good friend Dan told me last night that a reworked version of a tune by a band called Cookin’ on 3 Burners from his Freestyle Records label had reached the midweek number 1 slot in the UK.. the first time in his more than 25 years of trading that he’s achieved such a thing..

With a wry smile on his face, he pointed me towards Spotify where the tune, This Girl by Kungs vs Cookin’ on 3 Burners (which has already hit the top spot in Germany, Belgium and somewhere else in Euroland) has racked up nearly 39 million hits.. There’s a similar story on YouTube where the current total is in excess of 23 million views….

So here it is.. Apparently Kungs is a protege of David Guetta who has obviously taught him a thing or two about boiling a tune down to 2 or 3 key elements, upping the tempo and adding in a drop and/ or synth stab to get the kids going…

And here’s the original version as found on Freestyle Records, as laid back and soulful as you’d expect…

So huge congrats to Danny. I know the revenue payments from these streaming giants can be pretty derisory, but by my reckoning, any share of more than 60 million of anything, no matter how small, is likely to keep the smile on his face for many weeks to come.

Two likes in one…

January 19, 2016 Leave a comment

Mr Bowie in the Scottish new town of Cumbernauld in 1976… Not sure why he was there… doesn’t really matter now I suppose.. probably just doing his usual thing of looking effortlessly cool without even trying…

RIP to both the man and the megastructure…

Cumbernauld

cum11

Facebook Challenge: 7 tracks, 7 days, 7 nominations: A snapshot of my friends’ musical histories

December 13, 2015 Leave a comment

You may have heard about it, you may very well have participated, but over the last week/ 10 days or so, my friends and I have have been trawling through our memories in a quest to choose a track a day for seven days explaining why it is important and then nominating someone else to carry on the challenge…

I think it’s fair to say that we were all initially rather skeptical. None of us are really Facebook challenge type people, but we were each nominated by someone we knew and respected, and more to the point, it was all about music, and if there’s one thing boys can’t resist, it’s making lists of tunes to share and compare.. On reflection it’s all been really very enjoyable, and I for one am a little bit saddened now it’s done. I think Danny even called it cathartic in one of his posts…

As for the lists, Darren did his chronologically, Danny thought of a track that would appeal to or remind him of, his next nominee, Ralph is sticking to 135bpm+ Electro, Dermot chose some live performances from TV shows, Matt chose guitar based tracks (obvs), Ewa & Kieth seem to be just sticking to Pearl Jam (obvs again) and Sarah F has only just started, so her approach is not clear yet, but The Fall is a strong opener…

The link above is to my list on Spotify. I tried to capture a taste of each of the sounds and styles that have meant the most to me over the years: new wave, techno, electronica, drum and bass and yes, inevitably there’s a prog rock track in there… But it was difficult, and looking at the list now, I can’t believe whose not there, Underworld, Kraftwerk, Fila Brazillia, Soundgarden, Peace Division, Yello, LCD Soundsystem, The The… etc. etc. ad infinitum…

I’ve also made a playlist of my friends tracks. This is not exhaustive as not all the tunes chosen are available on Spotify. It’s also a work in progress and will need updating as the challenge progresses. But as a snapshot of what makes my closest friends tick, I think it’s wonderful. I didn’t know some of the tracks, I was this close to choosing one or two of them for my own list, and there are a couple that I wouldn’t have chosen in a million years…

But that’s not important. These records all mean something to the person that searched Youtube for the video, and as thankfully no one chose Coldplay, I’m very happy to share them all on my blog. As a random selection, they make for very eclectic and interesting listening.. (although if you’re of a nervous disposition, approach the Converge track with caution, cheers Matt…)

Musicless Videos….

November 25, 2015 Leave a comment

Short and sweet this one.

Its a simple idea and there are a fair few of them around, but these three amused me greatly this evening, especially the Jamiroquai one, I just love the squeaky shoes…

%d bloggers like this: