Saturday, 27 September 2008

Cheesy Choonsday: Shirley Bassey and John Keating

Not dropped a 'Cheesy Choonsday' in for a while, so I'm bringing it back with two of my all time personal favourites from the archives here at Piley Towers.

The late sixties early 70s was a funny old time for your 'traditional' artists. Having breezed through the 50's and 60's with their tried and tested act, many easy listening stars suddenly found themselves looking a bit 'square' (dad-io!). In an incredible attempt to make them look hip and trendy, many started recording up-tempo modern covers, to try and appeal to a new generation of music fans. I'm not sure how well these albums were received at the time, I'm assuming the 'kids' didn't go for it, and it's likely they also didn't go down well with their older generation fans. However, time is a wonderful thing, and if they didn't hit the spot at the time, many of these albums, rich in Hammond organs and funky guitars, sound really cool now....
The 1970 Shirley Bassey album 'Something' is a real gem from that time, famed for her classic 'Light My Fire' cover. But for me, her cover of 'Spinning Wheel' will always be the highlight.

John Keating's funk-tastic cover of 'Jesus Christ Superstar' (from his 1972 Moog 'Space Experience' album), is probably the track I associate most with the mid 90's cheesy listening scene. I still snigger a bit now, to think that this was one of the 'big guns' to pull out when the evening was in full swing! A guaranteed floor filler, but brave is the DJ who queues this record from the start... although i really like the atmospheric intro, one minute in was the usual spot to unleash this baby, so don't turn it off too early!


Saturday, 20 September 2008

The X-cruciating Factor!

As a genuine music fan, i have religiously avoided talent programmes like Pop Idol, Fame Academy, Popstars etc for years. I assumed they were all full of nauseating teenagers, all with heads stuck firmly up their own arses, thinking they were gods gift. Not my idea of fun. Then 3 years ago I somehow stumbled on an episode of the X-Factor, and was actually quite surprised... yes, it was indeed full of those 'up their own arse' teens, but what I didn't expect was the humiliation that was dished out on so many of them! It's the modern day equivalent of the stocks, where chump after chump roll in, only to have verbal tomatoes and rotten fruit thrown in their faces. Surely there can be no finer TV than watching arsey teenagers getting knocked down a peg or ten??!

Since then, I've watched half of every series that has followed. I say half, because it's only the auditions that make good sport. Once you get into the live show, the fun stops, and the terrible karaoke show begins.

From what I understand, 99.9% of the hopefuls never see Simon Cowell and Co. There are literally hundreds of judges sifting through them first, weeding out the mediocre... so the only ones who make it through to see the 'celeb' judges are either really good, or really shit (I'm assuming they don't tell the contestent which category they have been put in, but I guess most of the deluded naturally assume they have been picked because they are 'amazing'). But as much as I love watching the bad auditions, there are always a few that make me feel a little TOO uncomfortable... I don't know how to put it tactfully, but lets just say, some of those who turn up may not be quite the full ticket. A cocky teenager is one thing, but publicly humiliating someone who may not fully appreciate they are being ridiculed feels a bit low and nasty.

Take 43 year old pizza delivery man, Alan Penfold from tonights show (the last of the audition episodes). I could be wrong, but you can almost see the lead up to this one... I imagine people have been sniggering at his singing and dancing for years, whilst telling him how good he is, and how he really should apply for the show... I mean, it IS funny, but should we really be laughing? Does TV consider this sort of humiliation as 'fair game' these days? or am I just being too sensitive??

Last year it was Emma Chawner that had me squirming on the sofa. The programme managed to make fools out of the whole family on this one, and oh, isn't that the theme tune to 'The Flumps' backing up the arrival of this rather portly family?! I kid you not! Watch it to the end if you can, to see the family barge into the audition room to challenge Simon Cowell... Uncomfortable is the word.

The year before it was Robert Unwin, a chicken factory worker, who no doubt couldn't quite work out why he became a laughing stock....

As they say in the business..... That's Entertainment!


Monday, 15 September 2008

Start The Revolution Without Me - The Comic Strip! Issue 3

I've not posted any of my comic strips for a while, so here are a couple more. As always, the same rules apply... doubleclick on the pictures to view them at their full size.

If you missed the previous ones, the first two strips are here, and the second two strips are here


Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Now We Are One!

Well who'da thunk it? 'Start The Revolution Without Me' is a year old today!

I now struggle to remember a time in my life before that pesky little 'blog alarm' was routinely going off in my head... you know the one "it's almost a week since your last post y'know, you better get cracking on a new one..." it goes, and makes you feel all guilty!

I know a few people thought this bloggin lark was gonna be a 'five minute wonder' for me (shame on you Dave W!), but I can honestly say I'm every bit as enthusiastic about it now as I was on this day last year. I've really enjoyed being able to get some of my old musings out, but the real bonus that I hadn't anticipated back then, has been meeting so many great new bloggin' buddies.

So thanks to all those who have continued to tune in and read my old waffle, and even bigger thanks to those who have actually contributed and commented over the last year - without who I know I would have turned it all in by now... finally, special thanks to Planet Mondo, for t'was he that got me bloggin in the 1st place.



Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Sex Pistols - Live Review

The Sex Pistols Live at Hammersmith Apollo, 2nd September 2008

In January 1978, Johnny Rotten famously snarled "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" to a San Fransisco audience, who were watching the Sex Pistols explode before their very eyes...

When I went to see their very first re-form show (Finsbury Park, 1996), I was absolutely bricking it. The Pistols are just about my favourite band of all time, but the decision to go wasn't as straight forward as you might think. On the one hand, how could I miss the chance of actually seeing them live after all these years? but on the other, there was a real fear that it would be disappointing and soil my love for the band. It sounds stupid, but i was genuinely nervous about that gig. But in the end it was completely unfounded, and they put on a blistering show that night, everything I ever wanted and more. 20 years on, they still had the swagger, the anger and the attitude. So with memories of Finsbury Park and numerous reports of how good they were last year, I'd been lulled into a false sense of security about tonight's gig and hadn't even been worrying about it... mistake!

For an hour before the band arrive, a DJ is on stage playing toons to get the audience 'in the mood'. To be honest, someone may as well have just stuck a 'best-ist Punk album in the world.. EVER (honest)' type CD on, and saved the cost of the DJ, as just about every track was 'that' obvious. The band walk on to a rousing rendition of 'There'll always be an England' and launch straight into... erm.. a hoe-down style version of Pretty Vacant. It's obviously tongue in cheek, designed to fit in with the title of the tour (Combine Harvester), and maybe a couple of lines might have been vaguely funny... but after two verses and two choruses it wears very thin, and the little dance routines and 'yea-hars' are a bit embarrassing. I start to panic, Pretty Vacant is my favourite Pistols song... hell, it's my favourite song FULL STOP!! is this the only rendition I'm gonna get tonight?? Fortunately though, once the barn dance is (finally) over, they do at least play it again for real.

The setlist is a no-brainer, and includes pretty much everything you expect, but 4 or 5 songs in I notice I'm just starting to lose interest, and from what I'm seeing on stage, I don't think I'm the only one. This is a cash cow 'going thru the motions' gig if ever I saw one. Lydon is obviously bored of the whole thing, and unforgivably, is ruining a number of the songs. I always think of him having two singing voices... his angry snarl for the Pistols, and that high-pitched caterwauling that he introduced us to in Public Image Ltd. Unfortunately, he's decided to go for the caterwauling option for much of tonight, singing about 8 octaves too high, and much of it all on the same note! (think the chorus to PiL's 'The Flowers of Romance' and then substitute large chunks of 'Never Mind the Bollocks' into that!). The rest of the band try hard to recreate the power and sound of the originals, but Lydon's vocals undo much of their work.

The only members who's heart still seems to be in this are Cook and Matlock (no doubt the only two who really need the money too... coincidence?), Cook is as solid as ever behind the skins, and at least ensures that the unmistakable Pistols sound remains tight. Matlock too is ever the talented professional... to think they actually sacked him back in the day! Steve Jones looks about 20 stone and has lost much of his on-stage style and charisma (his cocky swagger now more a waddle). Surviving the gig seems to be his main priority tonight as he puffs and blows his way through the set, but his unmistakable chugging guitar sound still sets the hairs on your neck going...

As the show goes on, there is one other thing that really starts to niggle, and that's Lydon continually banging on about how 'great' Great Britain is. He's waving the George Cross flag and dropping his trousers to display his union jack pants... and in between songs he's continually telling us how wonderful us Brits are and what a great country England is... yeah John, that's why you n Jonesy have spent the last 20 years in LA mate...

When they come out for the encore, Lydon finally finds his Pistols voice, and gives us a fairly convincing 'Anarchy in the UK'. Yet incredibly this one is spoilt in other ways, as it's overly extended to lend itself to a bit of audience participation (kinda punk Butlins style). The gig finally splutters to a conclusion with two truly 'orrible cover versions... Hawkwinds 'Silver Machine' (WTF??!) and Road Runner. Road Runner is nowhere near the spit and bile of their original 70's version, it's an overlong cabaret routine and I make my exit during it (so I'm assuming it was the last number)... Always leave 'em wanting less!

Had I not seen how good the reformed Sex Pistols can be (I've just listened to the Finsbury Park Live CD twice whilst typing this review, and it still sounds incredible), maybe I wouldn't have been quite so disappointed. Lydon informed us that the band had "drunk Ireland Dry" the night before, and tonights show certainly had the feel of a hangover about it.

So in answer to the question he posed 30 years ago, yeah, finally I do feel a bit cheated John...


Good to meet up with Planet Mondo and Tronik Youth after the gig, and t'was Mr Tronik who took the crackin' photos of the show you see above. Cheers for letting me use em fella!

You can see plenty more of Tronik's Pistols Pics and read what Planet Mondo thought of the show here.

And why not pop over to Tronik Youth's site to see just who he's remixin' this week, see where he's next DJ'ing or maybe even pick up one of his super funky T-Shirts!