Friday, February 26, 2016

Top 5 Records (February 2016)

1: CLASS ACTRESS - movies EP
2: JULIA HOLTER - have you in my wilderness
3: MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY - maximum entropy
4: PHASES - for life
5: C DUNCAN - architect

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Fox - for fox sake

There were many obscure British psychedelic bands who largely disappeared without trace after the odd record or two. That was until the mastertapes got unearthed from a vault or ziggurat in the 2000s so the albums could be re-released...

Some of these bands were quite frankly rubbish which makes their obscurity no surprise and their disappearance was no great loss, in some cases they probably should have remained buried. However some of the bands were truly special, producing some amazing music, and their failure can only be described as mysterious, and even a crime. The Fox, of which this is a reissue of their one and only album from 1970, is one of the latter.

Coming at the end of the psych era The Fox have a heavier rock vibe underpinning superb songs like "Second hand love". They probably would have ended up as a prog rock band doing 59 minute long flute solos so maybe its best, as they say, to burn brightly then burn out than fade away. "Look in the sky" is another brilliant track, rolling along with plenty of tasty chords and organ. So check them out for fox sake!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Holly Knight

Multi Grammy award winning Holly Knight is best known for her songwriting, writing mega hits like "Love is a battlefield". However she was also in a couple of bands too in the 1980s: Spider and Device and also released this solo album. Its a fine collection of songs, including a rendition of "Battlefield", though "Sexy boy" is the most fun song, a very catchy and enjoyable slice of late 80s pop.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Movie : Gymkata (1985)

Its funny, i wonder why no one has ever thought of merging gymnastics and martial arts... oh wait someone has in the film Gymkata! Starring real gymnastics world champion Kurt Thomas Gymkata is listed as one of the worst movies of all times, and scores frequently in those "so so bad they are good" lists so lets give it a try...

Gymkata has a basic (and fairly ludicrous plot): an Olympic gymnastic is hired by the US secret service to win a deadly tournament in an obscure central Asian country (which is still stuck in medieval times) so the "winner's request" can be to site a missile early warning station there! Most of the film is a series of action set pieces, some of which are actually pretty good. The times where Thomas utilises "gymkata" however are hilarious and tend to rely on extremely lucky positioning of helpful props such as a pair of bars in a lunatic asylum which just happens to form the perfect pommel horse!

Although terrible on so many levels the film is of course fantastic! Its well worth seeing for many reasons including the unintentional hilarity and the performance of the King who seemed to be channelling Mel Brooks throughout.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Movie : Winner Takes All (HK 1984)

There are (according to HKMDB) 5 HK films with the English title Winner Takes All, well this is the 1984 version Yau Friend Mo Geng which also stars Alan Tang and Olivia Cheng. Its a crime revenge drama, and the kind of film only HK ever did.

The plot is fairly basic: a jewellery shop boss loses his daughter in a rather bloody manner (crushed under a Ford Cortina - well i suppose if you have to go thats a fairly cool way to go) during a robbery and then seeks revenge on the 3 men who did it. He enlists the help of a tough guy who is also after those 3 for killing his bro, nice co-incidence huh? The two allies chase the 3 hoodlums, trying to keep one step ahead of the Cops. The female cop has a rather large bust which you may notice and the film certainly does. Our hero also has a rather fine girlfriend Olivia Cheng who doesn't really affect the plot that much but does look lovely.
The shop owner ends up being a bit of a double crosser and a strange but interesting 3 way fight takes place in a shopping mall. A nonsense plot really like so many films of the period but 80s HK was cool. Some good fighting and bad acting and hot chicks. Typical early 80s HK fare!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Movie : Samurai Cop (1991)

Well you can't beat a trash movie, and Samurai Cop is really bad. A film with a budget so low the actors (if we can call them that) apparently had to wear their own clothes and drive their own cars! Samurai Cop is, as you can probably guess, one of many low-budget straight-to-video movies made in the 1980s that tried to put an American take on martial arts. In this one an American cop trained by the samurai masters is now out to defeat the Japanese gang running rampant in Los Angeles.

The film makes little sense of course but what elevates this above mere trash is the weirdness going on in nearly every (frequently blurry) scene. Set design for one, take the police chief's "office" which suspiciously looks like a caretaker's desk with a tell-tale array of keys on the wall. Or the large lion's head on the mantlepiece in one of the main character's office. The "police station" which has a hand-written sign that has "Detectives" on it.

Then there is the action, which is frequent, bloody and usually inept. The strange tangents and inconsequential characters. The odd sex scenes (lots of them too). So much in this film to ponder and gawp at, no doubt more joys/horrors would pop out at every viewing. Thats why in the list of bad/great movies, this has to be near the top. Few movies will make you laugh out loud as much, unintentionally.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Man Without Country - maximum entropy

Man Without Country, when they are on song, produce superior electronica, moody synths and a atmospheric cutting edge sound. This is most evident on the wonderful "Claymation" with its deep sounds, distorted vocals and all underpinned by pop melodies. Unfortunately this album is rather patchy and not everything works. "Catfish" for example starts off with promise, the slinky synths having an undercurrent of dark moods but despite all that never really goes anywhere.

The album is still worth having for the high points though even if they can be rather low, like the downbeat "Loveless marriage" and the runaway tech skank of "Entropy".

Monday, February 1, 2016

Vukovar - the blood garden

Here is the new single from Wigan's Vukovar, the title track is atmospheric and asymmetric as the melody heads off into various tangents throughout but the course - between fast guitar led melodies and sparse interludes - is hypnotically appealing thoughout. Followed by "Part 2: Ms Kuroda's Lament" is filled with interesting noises and the live version also presented here is lovely and raw.