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Buffalohump (Heart of Darkness)

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Price: £10.92

4.0 out of 5 stars Brings out the caveman in you, 7 Feb. 2013
This review is from: Visqueen (Audio CD)
This is the best thing Unsane have done since Singles '89 - '92, which is saying a LOT because that is, in my opinion, one of the best American punk rock albums ever made. Visqueen is really THAT good. I'm not sure what it is exactly, because its not like they've really changed anything from the signature sound that makes them instantly recognisable.

All the elements are still in place - the distorted vocals, the pummelling drum track, the squeal like a pig guitars and gravel in a barrel bass. What places Visqueen on a par to their early stuff is each song has its own little thing going on. Despite the bedrock elements of their sound, there is enough variety and diversity to keep it interesting.

They also seem to have slowed things down a bit and given the songs some space to breathe, which helps a great deal to keep it interesting. Combine that with the awesome production, cover art and totally cool album title (although I have no idea what it means) and you have some vintage New York noise rock here, 20 years after the fact. The first four tracks are particularly slamming... my favourites right now being Last Man Standing and This Stops at the River. Get some!

Get in the Van
Get in the Van
by Henry Rollins
Edition: Perfect Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Punk rock personified, 5 Feb. 2013
This review is from: Get in the Van (Perfect Paperback)
I have to confess upfront that Henry has always been a great inspiration to me. I took up weightlifting largely because of his influence and its become a big part of my life. Oddly enough I've got most of the Rollins Band albums but only recently bought the seminal Black Flag albums. In any event, I am really glad I bought a copy of this book. It was expensive at the time I purchased it (back in '95 from the now defunct Tower Records, Picadilly) but I had to have it. I'm not sorry I dropped the £20 for it though (especially seeing what it costs now, freaking hell!). However, I AM bitterly sorry I passed up a chance to see Rollins do a live gig recently in my neck of the woods. It would have been awesome to get him to sign this book personally. Ah well... But on to the book. What an incredible story this man tells! From the way he joined the band to the escapades that took place during their early days of non-stop touring (the European tours were especially brutal), it's undoubtedly one of the greatest rock and roll stories ever. I have to laugh when I see what passes for punk rock these days - Green Day, Blink 182 et al. Kiddies, that's not punk rock, THIS is punk rock! Buy this and a copy of Hard Volume, Life Time, Damaged and Live '84 to listen while you read it and find out what it really means to put your heart and soul into your art. Sheer freaking guts and determination. Nothing short of epic!

Life: Keith Richards
Life: Keith Richards
by Keith Richards
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So much more to the man than meets the eye, 11 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Life: Keith Richards (Paperback)
I've been a fan of the Stones since I was in high school (some 25 odd years now) and I thought I knew a bit about the band. I've read Philip Norman's fabulous account, The Stones, collected most of their classic records, first on vinyl and then remastered CD, and watched Gimme Shelter and the Concert in the Park. But then this book came out and I realised I didn't really know a bleeding thing.

If you're a fan of the Stones, this account should be considered as essential as an original gatefold vinyl copy of Exile. Keith is the mainstay of the Stones, which becomes increasingly apparent as the book unfolds. He's the glue that holds the band together. Mick tried several times to go his own way and thank god it was pretty much a disaster each time. For Keith there was never anything else. Sure he made other music, with an astonishing range of musicians, but The Stones were his life.

This loyalty, dedication and sheer love for the band and everything it was doing says a lot about his character. And what a character. To be sure he's a debauched old bugger, not even Hunter S Thompson could hold a candle to this man's consumption of pharmaceuticals. But he had the physiology for it, clearly. How else can you explain his record for staying up nine days straight and still being among the living? The mind boggles.

The book is packed with such fascinating accounts of being a rock and roll legend, living in the eye of the hurricane, but really it's the fact that the man never became jaded or cynical about it all that endears him to the reader again and again. There are so many reasons to read this book, but really the best reason is to find out that it is possible to become a cultural phenomenon and not turn into a giant prick as a result (although the jury is still out on MJ). Thanks for the laffs, Keef old mate, and thanks for taking us along for the ride!

Savage Messiah [DVD] [1972] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Savage Messiah [DVD] [1972] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Price: £13.76

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just a superb piece of entertainment, 26 Aug. 2012
I caught this for the second time last night on TCM and I was blown away (saw it many years ago on a dodgy VCR copy). TCM's version wasn't much better so now I've resolved to pick up a copy on DVD, its THAT good. One of the best scripts I have come across (by Christopher Logue, based on his play) is brilliantly conveyed by lead actor Scott Antony, a chap I don't believe I've seen in another film before or since. Perhaps he was primarily a stage actor.

What an incredibly energetic performance he delivers! Its a delight from start to finish. Dorothy Tutin is also excellent as his muse. These two are very much the heart of the film and are on the screen practically every minute. But there are a couple of other nice surprises, including an appearance by the much lauded Dame Helen Mirren, who is so young she is barely recognisable - with the emphasis on barely! (I will definitely look at Dame Helen with new eyes from now on, she certainly was a comely lass.)

The other wonderfully amusing turn is from Lindsay Kemp, as the art dealer Angus Gorky. He had me in stitches. I have sat through so many dreary movies of late it seems like I would never see another good one. And then Savage Messiah came along and I was reminded why I love movies from the 60s and 70s so much. There was just a remarkable creative freedom to them, a freshness and energy which is sorely lacking in movies today.

I urge you to invest in a copy of this, and next time you're feeling jaded and cynical, pop it into the DVD player. The amazing amount of creativity that poured out of this young man before he was tragically killed in WWI at the age of 23 was just mind-blowing. The little coda at the end where they show you some of his finished artwork is the cherry on the cake. An amazing story, brilliantly realised by one of the most entertaining directors who ever sat behind a camera.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 2, 2015 10:45 AM BST

Bad As Me
Bad As Me
Price: £8.74

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little disappointed to be honest, 22 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Bad As Me (Audio CD)
I have to say, its a bummer to write this review. Been a massive fan of Waits since my high school days when I was first exposed to Swordfishtrombones. I still consider that one of the greatest albums of the last 30 years, as is Raindogs and Frank's Wild Years. I think these are absolute stone classics. The amazing thing is Waits has maintained a pretty high standard since '83 when Swordfish came out. Just think of Bone Machine, the incredible combo of Alice and Blood Money, the superb collection of B-sides and outtakes in Orphans... I wouldn't hesitate to give any of these a 5 star rating. And then came this long break with nothing. So when I heard there was a new one, I thought: hell, this is going to be fantastic. He must have been working on it all this time.

Well, I wish it were so. Unfortunately it feels more like Tom woke up one morning and decided to make a record. Nothing wrong with that. But where is the invention, the pure genius of the lyrics, the otherworldly creative flair that we have come to expect from Tom? Where is the carnival? Where indeed... it feels like this man of endless creative ability has run out of ideas, as horrible as that sounds.

It appears there is plenty of energy and commitment but the sheer magic is missing. The great albums were just effortless, this one feels like he is trying to reach a place but just can't make it. I kept listening and listening, hoping for something to materialise out of the murk. Some of the best albums take a while to reveal themselves. But unfortunately it is yet to happen. I DO like Talking At the Same Time. That to me feels like the best song of the album for now. I was disappointed in Hell Broke Luce. With a title like that I expected it to be mighty, but it feels strained and bombastic (scuse the pun). I was hoping for another Cold Water off Mule Variations. What a song that is!

There just isn't a lot here that trips along with effortless grace like the best Waits songs. The thing that bugs me the most is a lot of the lyrics feel sub-standard. One thing we've always been able to count on from Tom is street poetry of the highest order. I just don't hear it here. I WANT to hear it, but I dont. At worst, its annoying, like on Satisfied. I don't get that song at all. I know Richards played on the album, but I dont get the song. I think this is my issue. Most Waits albums feel like they have a theme, a strong thread running through all the songs. Bad As Me just feels like a group of songs chucked together.

One final bugbear. I bought the fancy extended version with the booklet and all. The booklet is great but I felt it was really a bit silly to put a whole other CD out with 3 songs on it. Why couldnt they just tag the extra tracks on at the end for convenience sake? Its a hassle to feed a separate CD in just to hear 3 songs. Not to mention the unnecessary waste of it.

Runaway Train [1985] [DVD]
Runaway Train [1985] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jon Voight
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A no-holds-barred action flick that will haunt you, 20 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Runaway Train [1985] [DVD] (DVD)
I thought I would update my review as I now have the Blu-Ray version. I was surprised that this film was made into a Blu-Ray. Surprised and very pleased needless to say, that it is finally getting its due. Perhaps it has now found its audience, as the phrase goes. I certainly hope so as it doesn't deserve to be relegated to the bargain bin of mindless drive-in action films that the Cannon company was typically known for.

The main reason being the cast and the script although the direction of Andrei Konchalovsky is superb as well. It's tight and doesn't waste a second on niceties. Each scene is powerful and memorable. You cannot fault the script, based on an original script by the legendary Akira Kurosawa and with further input from career criminal turned writer Edward Bunker. And then you have the true powerhouse pairing of Jon Voight and Eric Roberts, ably supported by John P. Ryan, a fantastic and under-rated character actor, and Rebecca De Mornay. Kyle T Heffner also does excellent support work. The art production is also of the highest order, the scenes at the prison and on the train are brilliantly realised. Every aspect is superb.

But its really all about Voight and Roberts. It's just an amazing pairing of two truly great character actors. Voight is of course a legendary actor, a real giant of the 70s who is still bringing it in the TV series Ray Donovan. Eric Roberts is also a huge talent and this film, along with Pope of Greenwich Village, shows what he was really capable of when he had good material to work with. Interestingly, he had just finished shooting Pope when he was approached to do this film so he was clearly at the peak of his abilities.

The setting is amazing, the prison scenes are heart-stopping in their brutal violence and the no-quarter-given environment of Alaska is achieved in a extremely convincing fashion. The action sequences throughout are brilliantly realised.

But the real strength of this move is the script. Its just packed with absolute gems, both throwaway quips and unforgettable soliloquies, particularly from John P Ryan (and now you're huddled there in the dark... pieces of human waste... no good to yourselves or anybody else!) and Jon Voight. How many action flicks can you say that about?

Voight in particular has some hugely powerful soliloquies, one in particular that is the centrepiece of the movie and has become justly renowned in how it manages succinctly and poignantly to capture the eternal dilemma of the outlaw - the man who will remain forever outside of society simply because he cannot submit and do the type of menial, every day drudge work that society demands an ex-convict must do.

It is this incendiary speech at a key moment in the film that lifts it out of the general muck of action B-movies. You realise that despite its prosaic title, Runaway Train is something so much more. This is the reason you can watch this film over and over again, as I have done, and never tire of it.

It turns out Voight wrote that piece himself... amazing. You'll learn about that and other interesting tidbits on the extras that the Blu-Ray offers. They are very good but I almost regretted watching them because I feel they give too much away. Far better to preserve the illusion that this wonderful film creates of two desperate outlaws, riding a hundred ton steel monster to oblivion on the outer edge of the world.

A final note on the Blu-Ray. It delivers everything you expect from a Blu-Ray in spades. Sound, picture (which was transferred from the original print shown at Cannes in 1984) and everything else is top notch. A definite must have for collectors!

Black Sheep Boy [Definitive Edition]
Black Sheep Boy [Definitive Edition]
Price: £11.72

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of modern music, 8 May 2012
I had to chuckle and shake my head when I looked this record up and saw it only has 3 reviews on Amazon. Lawd, I do not know what is passing for quality music these days but if THIS record has been swept under the carpet in favour of Adele or some such toe jam then we are in serious trouble. In over 20 years of listening to and enjoying independent music, I regard BSB as being one of the best if not the ALL TIME best record I have ever heard. I first purchased this shortly after it came out and it is one of the few records I have not grown tired of despite the dozens of times I have heard it.

The reason for this, as any fule kno, is Sheff's remarkable songwriting ability. The man is purely a genius, no need to mince words. A King and a Queen, A Stone and A Glow are possibly the finest examples of his writing ability. Each song unwinds with perfect precision as a prose poem and it never ceases to amaze me how perfectly the words fit the music and vice versa. There is nothing predictable, cliched or fake about this music. It is direct from the heart.

And then there is William Schaff's incredible artwork that adorns the CD. It's simply mind-boggling. I liked this CD so much I bought it twice, having purchased the original CD and then having recently received the Definitive Edition as a birthday gift. I am tremendously excited to get to know the new (to me) songs. Purchase this gem now and prepare to become a life-long slave to it.

Resident Alien
Resident Alien
by Rian Malan
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars South Africa as it really is, 21 Mar. 2012
This review is from: Resident Alien (Paperback)
If you really want to know what South Africa - and Africa in general - is like, then read Rian Malan. There are very few journalists with the sand to write the unvarnished Truth and damn the consequences and Malan is one of them. There is so much political BS in this country you need wings to stay above it and this inevitably colours whatever is being written by those who live here. With Malan you get the feeling he is always writing from the heart, and striving to tell the Truth, no matter how unpalatable it may be. It's strong meat and he doesn't shy away from tackling many sensitive issues, from AIDS to 'struggle' icons like Thabo Mbeki, Winnie Mandela as well as familiar arch-villains like Robert Mugabe. Africa is a highly complex place, and people who tend to say anything negative about its prospects for progress are inevitably tagged as 'Afro-pessimists'.

Malan simply tells it like it is, even when it alienates people in his life and contradicts what the editors want to hear, causing him loss of income and a great strain on his personal relationships. Clearly he has too much integrity to sugarcoat what is actually the truth, even when - most ironically in the case of the AIDS epidemic - the reality is actually not nearly as bad as what people believe. Overall, Africa is still a continent where many millions face a daily struggle to survive - a place wracked by war, poverty, ignorance, all compounded by the political shenanigans of power-hungry ego maniacs who time and again put their own needs before that of 'their people'. With all the overwhelming evidence it is sometimes impossible to hold out much hope.

Despite this, it is very revealing that Malan still chooses to live here, when he could easily live anywhere in the world, such is his talent. He is African to the bone and so is this book. As always he writes with considerable humour and a singular flair that makes for a pacey read. Whatever the subject matter, it is never boring, with the possible exception of the piece on the 'troubles' in Ireland, which feels a tad out of place. Undoubtedly Malan is at his best when writing about matters pertaining to the dark continent. The only real complaint I have is I wish the book had more current pieces, a lot of these are from the 90s. However, for anyone interested in that period of time in South Africa's history, this book is a gold mine of fascinating insights into this unique country.

Rock N Roll Legends
Rock N Roll Legends
Offered by Discs4all
Price: £10.89

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music for suicide bombers, 29 Oct. 2010
This review is from: Rock N Roll Legends (Audio CD)
When he was at his peak, Henry Rollins and his band created some of the most intense music on the planet. This box set collects his early outings into one invaluable resource for those who enjoy music that is committed to nothing less than audience annihilation. It is impossible to deny the sheer power and intensity of these sacrificial offerings. Henry had a very black and white view of the world (as evidenced by the album cover art) and he creates songs that capture the extreme nature of his loneliness and alienation at that time of his life. It's not really music in the normal sense of the word. It's more akin to taking psycotropic drugs and jumping out of a fast moving car. These tracks are cathartic in the extreme. A self-confessed iron freak, Henry makes every song seem like a bone-cracking work-out to the point of obliteration. With superb back-up from his band, he pummels, screams, whispers and bellows his way to nirvana while the band create an unholy racket to accompany him on his relentless journeys to the heart of darkness. The two core discs here are Life Time and Hard Volume. Both represent the Rollins Band at an absolute peak of their abilities. Hard Volume contains more truth and honesty than any other one thousand musical offerings you care to name. It is a brutal excursion to the outer limits of musical expression, crushing and total. You will whimper and beg for mercy but there is none. By the time you get to Down and Away you are curled up in the corner, head in hands. Henry's ability to reach down and pull his guts out time and again is beyond belief. It's a terrifying experience. The band are never less than brilliant, creating vast urban soundscapes that are almost three dimensional in texture and weight. Incredibly, the Live 87/88 document surpasses both Life Time and Hard Volume in intensity and shows what an incredible wrecking machine the Rollins Band are Live when they are in the groove. A totally unique chapter in the history of music.

Boccaccio '70 - (Mr Bongo Films) (1962) [DVD]
Boccaccio '70 - (Mr Bongo Films) (1962) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Federico Fellini
Price: £5.99

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure cinematic pleasure, 6 May 2009
I first saw this European classic at a little film club screening many, many years ago and loved every minute of it. The version we saw only had the three inserts, so I can only comment on those. Of course, this movie is all about the women it features - three of cinema's most memorable beauties. All three contributions are wonderful but the Visconti one stayed with me the longest. I was entranced by Romy Schneider, who I had not heard of at that time, and in my opinion her performance is the stand-out of the three, although Sophia Loren is no slouch of course. The film is very enjoyable throughout but Visconti piece is a ravishing cinematic treat, beautifully shot in gorgeous saturated colours. The dialogue is also great and the interplay between the husband and wife characters rings very true. And of course, Romy is incredibly beautiful! I am very pleased to discover that this classic is now available on DVD.

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