Category: music


YESTERDAY directed by Danny Boyle (UK, 2019)

yesterday Can this really be the same director who brought us Shallow Grave, Trainspotting and 28 Days Later?

Aside from one of the most unconvincing and sexless love stories ever brought to the big screen, the audience is asked to swallow whole the most lamely contrived plot devices (and holes) in the name of blurry-eyed nostalgia.

If this had all been pitched as a dream, we might have accepted that anything is possible as we do when Alice falls into Wonderland and Dorothy lands in Oz. But here we are in the real world of modern England with Himesh Patel in the part of Jack Malik.

help

Help me if you can!

He is a struggling singer from Suffolk who is about to quit when an global blackout causes a planetary memory loss of epic proportions.

Following this inexplicable (and unexplained) event we are asked to believe that :
1. Nobody remembers The Beatles.
2. Cigarettes and Coca Cola don’t exist
3. Harry Potter was never written.
4. John Lennon lives to enjoy a contented solitary retirement in a house by the sea.
5. A mediocre ginger-haired singer-songwriter plays a show and fills Wembley Stadium.

All of these are plainly absurd although since the fifth just so happens to be true, I suppose screenwriter Richard Curtis would resolutely defend his corner.

The Ed Sheeran cameo is especially grueling for self-respecting music fans although it could have been worse since rumor has it that Coldplay’s Chris Martin was first choice for this role.

This truly dreadful movie makes even the soppiest of Disney fantasies look like works of gritty social realism.

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The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers (Bluemoose, 2017)

Why I read this book

gallowsFirst and foremost I fell in love with the cover art. I know, I know ….you should never judge a book in these terms but it does make a difference.

A naff cover can be off-putting. I cool cover means you can look fashionable when reading in public, something that is not possible with a Kindle.

I liked the image to Gallows Pole because it looks like a subversive Penguin Modern Classic.  It made me think of Weird British folk art; the kind of deranged visions that feed into Wyrd folk music and the cult movie classic, The Wicker Man. Could, I wondered, Benjamin Myer’s writing conjure up the same mood?

What’s it about? (Without spoilers)
The novel is inspired by real events in and around the Upper Calder Valley, West Yorkshire in the late 18th Century. It centres on the Craig Vale Coiners, a motley assembly of struggling land workers led by ‘King’ David Hartley. The gang forge coins in an attempt to get rich and challenge the oppressive capitalist system that keeps them poor and powerless. Hartley is an anti-hero prone to “delusions of grandeur, extreme hallucinations featuring stag-headed men and supreme acts of cruelty and violence”. Continue reading

EARTH ABIDES by George R.Stewart (1949)

earthIsherwood Williams (Ish) is not much of mixer which is just as well because most of humanity has just been wiped out by a deadly virus.

You might imagine this means the horror of piles of corpses lying everywhere but the dead bodies have either all been buried or we assume that all the victims gathered together in medical centers to tidily expire en-masse.

When we meet Ish, he is laid up in his remote mountain cabin after a snake bite. This poison seems to be the reason he is immune to the pandemic.

When he recovers he finds that civilization as he knows is has disappeared.  Being a pragmatic and practically-minded kind of guy he resolves to cope with the great disaster methodically and logically. He gets a truck, food supplies, weapons and a dog. His trusty hammer becomes both a life saver and a symbol of his enduring strength. Continue reading

Why We Sleep: the New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker(Penguin Books, 2018)

9780141983769-itThis might just be the perfect book for the bedside table if the contents were not so damned scary.

The list of what lack of sleep causes is vast and should be a concern for those who, up to now, have regarded the daily hours of shut-eye as a waste of time.

The facts and discoveries from decades of scientific research prove that sleeping makes you healthier, wealthier and wiser. It can also make you more attractive and slimmer.

“Sleep fixes what is upset by wake” states Walker. As director of University College Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab, the results of his long research carry a genuine authority. The title of the book is not framed as a question (Why do we sleep?) since the science gives us the answers. Ignore the findings at your peril. Continue reading

m & m

Morrissey and Marr – pre severed alliance

In a recent interview with Krishman Guru-Murthy, Johnny Marr publicly distances himself from Morrissey’s more outspoken statements that have been widely interpreted as endorsements of racism and far right bigotry.

Wisely in my view, Marr has resisted the temptation to go any further by joining in the rising tide of venom towards his ex-Smiths partner.

To understand what he’s opting out of, you only have to read the scurrilous one star review of Morrissey’s latest covers album ‘California Sun’ in The Guardian. This makes it plain that there are now many who are no longer able the separate the man from the music.

The mood of zero tolerance was also evident when a lone complaint by a commuter in Liverpool led to posters for ‘California Sun’ being removed from the entire rail network.

I would be the first to concede that Morrissey has brought much of this unprecedented backlash upon himself. Publicly lending his support to ‘For Britain’ was for many the last straw. Prior to this, his comments against Halal meat and China’s abysmal record on animal rights could at least be defended on the grounds that they reflected his radical veganism. Now he seems to have bitten off more than he can chew.

Morrissey has a history of exaggerating for effect and knows that moderation doesn’t generate the required level of publicity. This is a man who likens animal slaughter to murder and once sang about a dream of Margaret Thatcher being guillotined.

Like all narcissistic populists, Morrissey works on the basis that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. But these days, different rule books seem to apply to the worlds of politics and entertainment. The likes of Trump, Farage and Johnson revel in the controversies they provoke and gain support from a public who distrust those who take the moral high ground. Continue reading

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