The sobering thought that you come away with after watching All Things Must Pass, is that we are the last generation who had big record stores with all the albums, tapes, CDs, T-shirts, posters and other merchandise you could dream of. Record stores are/were not only places to pick up your favourite bands, but also places that remain in your memories years later.
My memories of Tower Records are from the London store. I remember going in there to get the Japanese version of Everything Must Go and the Japanese version of the second Menswe@r album. It is where I bought Orlando’s classic ‘Passive Soul’ record and I also met Kenickie there when they did a gig/signing to promote their debut album. Everytime I see or hear things about these records, I am instantly back there, in a musical mecca filled with all of the treats, all those Beach Boys albums that I had never seen, all the imports with the elevated pricetags, different packaging and tracklisting. All those music books imported, where I picked up my Beach Boys books when my dad and I went to London once a year. Once we saw the biggest queue ever outside Tower and my dad asked one of the women what was happening and we got the excited shouted reply “BARRY MANILOW!”. I’m sure each of those ladies remembers that day as clearly as I remember my Tower adventures. Magic. Magic days.
This excellent documentary is essentially lots of people doing what I have just done, remembering events and days spent looking at all the records eyeing up the girls and watching culture change but music being the only constant. You meet all of the top brass at the company, but I am sure that they would not want to be described as such. More adventurers on the great boat Tower, more enthusiasm than experience, the tales of them turning up at work drunk or puking on the job are funny and sweet, it seems there was an unwritten rule that however bad you felt, you would come to work, even if you then had to leave after an hour. Everyone loved the boss and everyone loved their time there. Sure, you can tell from the title that things are going to get more unhappy as the film goes on, but magically no one has any regrets about their time at Tower and everyone is always ready to tell another story.
All Things Must Pass is a great documentary about some of the greatest times in popular culture. Will the kids be making films like this in thirty years about ‘that time I streamed my favourite album’? It seems unlikely, but then you can now buy vinyl in the supermarket so perhaps the physical release is ready to rise again. Just in less special places than our record stores. Of course, the ultimate irony might be that this Tower Records story DVD is exclusively available at HMV. Enemies become friends when the gunfire ends…
“The Holy Bible is intense, dark, introverted and something of a masterpiece. Musically, it’s an accomplished work, incorporating jagged punk, industrial goth and distorted grunge, with Bradfield’s guitar standing out over a rhythm section that’s tight to the point of claustrophobia. It is, however, the lyrics that set the album apart: anorexia, the Holocaust, prostitution, self-harm, serial killers… no subject was too bleak to tackle. Edwards, who wrote around three-quarters of the lyrics, had always been open about the severe bouts of depression, anorexia and self-harm he’d suffered all his adult life, but had never been quite so unrestrained in his writing before.”
If you have been following WWE action closely over the last week, you will have seen some teasers placed on their tweet feed merely showing a dark door and the hashtag #HATCH. Many thought that this was hyping a new RAW superstar, perhaps something like the old Undertaker character and for a while there I was imagining WWE Films working on a Jurassic classic with maybe Dean Ambrose.
Now the reveal shows that in fact it is neither of these things, it is for the unveiling of this year’s pre-order bonus for the popular WWE 2K wrestling game series. Recent years have given you the chance to play as Stone Cold, The Ultimate Warrior and even Sting and now we know that purchasers of WWE 2K17 are to be given the chance of playing as Bill Goldberg. Will this mean the man himself will return for one more match, or that he is set to join the Hall Of Fame next year? Time will tell, but here is the atmospheric trailer featuring the man himself. GOLDBERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRG!!!!!!!!!!
If you ever made the big journey up to Camden Town from your tiny South West (me)/wherever town during the Britpop era, then chances are you have some great memories of times spent in The Good Mixer in Inverness Street.
I spent time hanging out with Steve Lamacq, Johnny Dean, Stuart Black, Simon White, Graham Coxon and in more recent time with Amy Winehouse, it seemed like it was a place where you could have adventures that would last a lifetime. Now, with Defuse Productions currently creating the ultimate film about this scene, they have also announced a night out to promote it and fill you with all the booze and nostagia that you can handle.
Friday 12th August, 8.30-2am, tickets only. Get those skinny ties out and let’s lean on the bar mouthing the words to I’ll Manage Somehow to a cute dyed hair girl in the corner…The past is the future is the past. Tickets available at midday 1/6/16. 🙂
As someone who loved Huggy Bear and Bratmobile and enjoyed some super special Riot Grrl gigs back in the day, it is great to see a new Riot Grrl night starting, even if geography will mean I will not be there – hey, maybe you can be so here is the info…!
The Grrrls With Guitars Party happens at The Lock Keeper in Chester on Friday 10th June and features plenty of exciting live music including The Empty Page and the brilliantly named Death Sex Bloodbath. Then there are two artists who I have been listening to a lot lately, Queen Zee And The Sasstones and Hannah Golightly’s Imaginary Band. If you are ignorant of these brilliant artists, just head over to YouTube, you will thank me later.
This event is the first put on by the newly formed Girls To The Front Promotions, whose intent is to break out more grrl artists and fill the scene with intelligence and glamour from strong female performers. This is something that deserves to be supported and at only five pounds for all these bands, if you are near the home of Mansun, you should definitely dress up and show up. Tell Hannah KL sent ya! 😉
Some bands are easy to describe, you know why you love them,you know why you buy their T-shirts, you know why you put their songs in your personal charts and think about getting tattoos. And then, ladies and gentlemen, there are The Residents. Even if you have never heard this art project/emotion amalgam, you have probably seen them on posters or in magazines, just great big eyeballs wearing top hats. No one knows who they are or what they look like, their interviews are done by a spokesperson, hell this film tells you that sometimes they were not even in their own videos, supplanting dancers instead, because, why not? At times, they feel like a Warhol dream and at other times a pure Cronenbergian nightmare.
I first heard of The Residents around the time of grunge, I guess Kurt was talking about them and me and my friend Ant were listening to Primus who often referenced them. And MTV had a news piece on their artshow/album Freakshow. For a Fangoria reading horror fan who was falling down plenty of musical rabbit holes, this seemed too good to be true. Of course in the modern age, you can just go to Spotify and get whatever Residents records you want, but back then they were difficult to learn anything about, ironically except for what MTV was feeding you. I remember being in the Oxford Street HMV with my dearly missed dad and just standing astounded in front of their Residents section, a myriad of different ideas, different styles, each more bizarre than the last. And expensive, I remember them being expensive, CDs at thirty quid a shot, you were not going to fall into this world casually, once you became a fan of The Residents, you were in for life. I bought The Residents Commercial Album, which turned out to be an extensive collection of one minute songs, like the entire top 40 was made up by songs from just one band. I ate it up.
Theory Of Obscurity still makes you feel like you are part of a special family, like something out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre perhaps, but stunning and original at every turn. Les Claypool of Primus is obviously here as is a bigger hero of mine Dean Ween of the classic band Ween, who like The Residents will follow a three minute pop song on their records with a 15 minute noisescape. The joy just seeing Dean Ween go out fishing and smiling with his catches is worth the price of admission alone, hey if you are a fan of the eyeballs, you probably were not expecting your usual talking heads to pop up. It is interesting too to see Penn Jillette who played the narrator in The Residents Mole Show epic and he basically thanks this opportunity for his act later with Teller. Most of the interviews are with artists who may have just turned up to see The Residents one day and ended up taking part in a piece of art. It is interesting to see the museum dedicated to the band as well as The Museum Of Modern Art’s exhibit on the band, which features all of their albums and an original eyeball, displayed in a fridge. Yes, really. Is it just telling you that arthouses merely keep old artworks cool rather than letting them out to play or is it suggesting that all music is devoured in the same way as that pot of mayonaise that you suddenly needed? The beauty of Theory Of Obscurity is that you leave it with just as many questions as you had going in, that again is the magic of the band, some of the footage will make you laugh, others wll give you chills down your spine, the only thing you won’t do is fail to have an opinion. There is love of The Residents or there is not. Nobody on the planet ever heard The Residents and thought “Hmm, that is alright, I might check out more…” and that is why you need this film. And maybe a tattoo.
I’m guessing that most people I know are fully aware of who Harry Nilsson is. Quite simply one of the greatest singer/songwriters of them all. You can quite often tell how great an artist is by the quality of the artists ready to be talking heads when such a documentary as ‘Who Is Harry Nilsson?’ comes around. Let’s just say that the list is essentially the best of the best – The Monkees, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Randy Newman, Paul Williams, essentially a who’s who of the all time golden stars.
The Nilsson story is the usual cliche of fame bringing the downfall of our hero and drink and drugs stealing away the magic of the voice and the productivity. The film is not terribly sad though, despite the obviously devastating ending, this is a celebration of the man and the spirit that brings out a smile in everyone who knew him. The tale is always the same, Harry calls, you answer the call and then days are lost forever. Yet inbetween these adventures, Nilsson could stop off in a studio and create album after album of poetic beauty, the sweet and the sour, the magical and the dark. Song after song, project after project – a soundtrack here (Altman’s Popeye/Midnight Cowboy), a movie and a soundtrack there (The Point/Skidoo), songs for other bands (Three Dog Night/The Monkees), albums of classics (A Randy Newman covers record) and an album with an icon (Pussycats with John Lennon).
As well as musicians, there are film icons here too, Robin Williams one minute, Terry Gilliam the next, all brightening up and hitting fan mode at just the mention of his name. We also get to meet all of his family as well as all the famous people and some of the most heartfelt moments are when one of the greats is ‘just’ being a father and a husband. His wife Una tells some great stories and gives the makers of the film all access to her emotions and feelings and we meet the children left behind who all tell their special little tales of their father.
But the reason you are here is some of the best music ever made and there is plenty throughout the film. Unlike most of this type of thing, there are no live gigs as Harry did not believe in such a thing – there is a great radio phone-in where a fan asks when he is going to tour and he merely brushes it off saying he is not going to do that and he never did. There was a BBC special without an audience of which there is plenty of footage here and there are also lots of in the studio sequences which are fascinating – for someone who is such a massive fan of Nilsson and also The Beach Boys, it is magical to see Harry in the studio with the iconic Van Dyke Parks and also having Brian Wilson talking about how great he is. The best of the best saying you are the best. That is the crux of the story, the man is long gone but the songs are still here and just go to Spotify and give a listen to Daddy’s Song or Cuddly Toy or, hell, even Without You is as emotional and hard hitting as when you first heard it. This is timeless pop and this is a great documentary about a great man. Seek it out.