Parts of Ten
|Okay, I confess, an
idea pinched from the IDG "Dummies Books", being sections I
always love - because they're quick and easy to read
Desert Island Dustbin
10 records that, if they were washed ashore and I had no others, would
still be thrown straight back in the sea ...
- Bohemian Rhapsody
- by Queen
that did make a few good records - but this ain't one of them. Sorry,
but I don't like "rock operas" or tedious incomprehensible
Euro-Garbage like this.
- Stairway to
Heaven - by Led Zeppelin
track just plods on and on and is what - a cynical jibe at
someone that Robert Plant fell out with. I
did like Plant's solo
stuff especially "Burning down one Side" from the album
Pictures at Eleven. Zeppelin were best playing blues or at least
syncopated rock (music that boogies or swings).
- (I can't live -
if living is) Without You - by anybody
song was written by Badfinger members Pete Ham and Tommy Evans and,
bearing in mind that it is one of the most "covered" songs
ever written, they were undoubtedly ripped off regarding the
But sorry, that's no excuse for throwing away the "gift of
life" by suicide - which they both did. There are many people who
have achieved greatness after far worse setbacks than stolen
belongings or money - a prime example being the "Mouth & Foot
Painters" who, having lost the use of their arms, create
stunningly beautiful pictures that are used on the Xmas cards that I
buy from them every year. Try sending them donations and you'll
receive the stern reply "we don't want or accept charity ... but
thanks for buying the cards".
In any event, I find the turgid music of this song depressing and,
as for the lyrics, a far better idea is: "If
you can't be with the one you love - Love the One You're With"
(by Steve Stills) - a notion that helped my broken heart on
many occasions. So I may be shallow - but I'm still here !
- Do you Love Me -
by Brian Poole & the Tremeloes
The original, by the Contours was a
fantastic 60s dance record which made me want to dance (a rare
event) and deserved a far better "cover" than this.
Brian Poole sounds like a cross between a double glazing salesman and
a "Radio Local" DJ - he has utterly no "soul"
whatsoever. And the backing is "lame" - which is surprising
for a band who, after they split up from their "lord and
master", went on to play some incredibly heavy, good quality
music. So this rubbish must have been Poole's fault !
- the Dark Side of
the Moon - by Pink Floyd
I would, and
did, go out of my way to see the 60s incarnation of this band, whose
1967 album "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" was driving,
freaky, psychedelic but for all that light-hearted (to quote AMG).
The trouble was that singer, songwriter and frontman Syd Barrett got
too light-headed (on "substances") and either left
the band or was sacked.
The next reincarnation, with David Gilmour produced a succession of
incredibly successful albums in the 70s some of which, on first
hearing, had interesting sounds. But when the initial gloss (quickly)
wore off all you were left with was plodding dirges.
I didn't like the "Dark Side" on first hearing and I like it
even less now. This track has no blues or afro roots at all, and thus
leaves me absolutely cold - I guess I just don't like
"Euro-Rock" hence my next disposal:
- Puppet on a
String - Sandie Shaw
it - this 1967 winner of the Eurovision Song Contest is only one of a
succession of absolutely appalling songs that have been entered into,
or won, this dreadful annual celebration of Euro-Sewage.
But what makes this track particularly sad is the fact that the singer
was conned into performing it. Her first hit single "There's
Always Something There to Remind Me", in 1964, was a delightful,
original, cover of the Dionne Warwick masterpiece which should have
been the start of a wonderful career.
But then the record companies (with usual cesspit
mentality) and manager Chris Andrews managed to snooker the whole thing and it wasn't until her
collaboration with the Smiths in the 80s on the single "Hand in
Glove" that her true talent began to surface again.
Don't take my word for it, read her autobiography in which she herself
confirms that this song wrecked her career.
- When I'm 64 -
Yes, as well
as well as producing a whole heap of excellent tracks on the "Sergeant
Pepper" album they included this monstrosity - which, to me,
would fit nicely into an Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical. I just don't
like "singalong" stuff like this - or "The Sound of
Music" - or most of the individuals' post-Beatles efforts, the
major exceptions being George Harrison's production of the Billy
Preston track "That's the way
God Planned it" and Paul
McCartney's 1999 rock and roll covers album "Run Devil Run"
(with ex-Pirates guitarist Mick Green)
But, like the whole of the "dustbin" collection, this is
simply my opinion - and I do appreciate that myself and
virtually the rest of the world are at loggerheads here.
- Satisfaction -
the Rolling Stones
A blues band
who were, at first, interesting when they started writing their own
material ... until this 1965 abomination !
Intricacies of rhythm - none. Subtleties of lyrics - none. Dynamics -
none. A complete, money making sell-out !! On this track ex
jazz-drummer Charlie Watts became the first human drum machine
and started a depressing trend which has continued to this day.
This, at the time, would have been OK from the Dave Clark Five - it
was right up their moronic street. But from our own "chart blues
band" - shock, horror, the establishment had finally won - but
this time by producing "out of your heads" disco records
rather than 50s schmultz.
So I was a musical snob at the time - I admit it. I am much less of a
snob now - but I still I don't like this track ... into the sea with
- Show me the
Meaning of Being Lonely - the Backstreet Boys
Just one of
a complete dustbin full of such records by pretty, twirling "boy
I had the misfortune, in January, of having to travel for about 8
hours in a 12 seater bus to attend my son Kit's Thai wedding in
Sukothai, North Thailand (don't be silly - the "bus" took us
from Bangkok - not London). For the whole of the trip, and the few
days we were up there, all I heard was drivel like this - whining
reincarnations of "Without You" (see above).
I had hopes for "teen-pop" in the 90s when rap and hip hop
became trendy. Here was an ethnic, afro street influence that produced
some fine records (and a lot of drivel - but what's new). Then Oasis
came along and we were back to the basic "guitar band"
format with no drum machines and some good, memorable songs. The
future of pop looked good !
And then along came "boy bands" and pop music was back in
the cesspit it has inhabited for
most of the time since the year dot.
- the theme from
I could say
that the reason I have never watched more than 5 minutes of this
dreadful TV progamme is that I couldn't stand to have to listen to
this dirge at the beginning.
But on the odd occasions I have tuned in by mistake, I have to admit
that the music fits the show. This is described as a "real
life" drama. If that's real life I can, at last, understand
suicide. Like all soaps, if any character ever smiles they'll be
murdered or struck by a bus within the next 5 minutes, then their
whole family will say what wonderful, happy people they were. Who
killed Phil? ... pity they didn't make a better job of it.
Neighbours, Coronation Street, Emerdale, there's a whole heap of this
manure. First prize has to go to the defunct "Crossroads"
which was broadcast "live" and regularly had rubber bricks bouncing off
plexiglass windows which shattered 5 minutes later - Brummy TV at its
But all of these programmes had appalling "theme-dirges",
most of which were written by Tony Hatch. Just think, I could have had
a career singing this guy's songs - where's the sleeping pills?
- or 10 of the
best films I can remember watching. Visit the superb internet
movie database website for more information on all of these films -
and a million others. As with everywhere in this sight - all thumbnails
link to full size pictures or websites
- Dogma (1999)
A film by Kevin
Smith in which he has a go at
organised religion while expressing the view that God (if there is
one) is probably a nice being. Ben
Afflek and Matt Damon play a couple of disenchanted angels who try to use Roman
Catholic dogma to get back into heaven - having been banned for a few
thousand years. Alan Rickman (alias the Sheriff of Nottingham in
the Robin Hood epic) plays the voice of God and the almighty herself
is played by Alanis Morisette who also sings the superb closing title
song "Still". A memorable, irreverent, hilarious and, to me,
thought provoking film
- Basic Instinct
Yes, I know
what you're thinking, but it's more than the "tits &
bums" that attract me to this film. OK, the story is full of
holes but Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas's acting and throwaway
lines like "So what are you going to do, charge me with
smoking?" are superb.
However many times you watch, it has an aura and atmosphere that hold
you (or me anyway) until the final scene with the t
icepick under the bed.
- the Firm (1993)
Based on the
excellent John Grisham book about a young lawyer (Tom Cruise) who
graduates into a posh law firm - only to find out that his "tax
clients" are in fact the Mafia (know it, been there, got the
He then, of course, discovers that "getting out" won't be
that easy. The movie has a whole bunch of other, believable,
characters including a wonderful Elvis Impersonator.
But the music soundtrack is superb, especially the main title track
with Don Grusin on powerful, unaccompanied, stomping accoustic piano.
So who was the actress who played the "innocent" in this and
Basic Instinct ? - find out from imdb.com
- Close Encounters
of the 3rd Kind (1977)
how many people have never seen this tale of a telephone lineman
(Richard Dreyfuss - not from Wichita) who bumps into a flying saucer and then gets
obsessive images of a mountain that he "has to visit" but
doesn't know where or what it is. This Steven Spielberg film is
captivating from the first moment when "strange world
occurrences" start taking place. His imagery is enhanced 10-fold
by his timing which literally takes your breath away as the utterly
enormous "mothership" appears over the mountain in the
The US authorities' takeover and military intervention into this
momentous occasion are (as in "ET") totally bombastic and
There are several independent photos of a
real-life "set of lights" which, when triangulated showed
the witnessed "UFO" to be 2 miles wide. The US government,
of course, dismissed it as a weather balloon but we can all trust
politicians can't we ?!
Great Escape (1963)
a war film that I have watched a hundred times and will
watch again - next time it's on. Based on a true story of the greatest
Allied escape attempt from a Geerman POW camp in world war 2. Steve McQueen p[ayed memorable characters in a host of good films but
this is simply classic, from start to finish, making it impossible to
single out any "memorable moment" - except the motorbike.
Also stars Donald Pleasance, James Coburn, James Garner, Charles
Bronson, David McCallum, Gordon Jackson, Richard Attenborough,
Nigel Stock and was directed by John Sturges.
- the Wrong Arm of
the Law (1962)
1950s Peter Sellers portrayal of a gangland "hood" - who
first appears in the film as a gay hairdresser in his "day
job". If you ever watch the "out-takes" of any Sellers
film you will realize that he didn't
need scriptwriters - he was a natural genius of comedy.
This film is a wonderfully silly romp which features John LeMesurier,
Bernard Cribbins, Arthur Mullard, Michael Caine, John Junkin, Gerald
Sim, Lionel Jeffries and a host of "Great British Actors" whose names escape me.
The crooks in London know how it works. No one carries guns and no one
resists the police. Then a new gang appears that go one better. They
dress as police and steal from the crooks. This upset's the natural
order of the police/criminal relationship and the police and the
crooks join forces to catch the IPOs (Impersonating Police Officers),
including an armored car robbery in which the police must help the
gangs to set a trap.
- This is Spinal Tap
budget, underground movie that has become a legend.
Who has ever played in a band, not met one of these guys, and not
listened to the description of the "mega amp" with a
"volume control that goes up to eleven ... man"
To quote a line from their insane website:
and roll is here to stay and no one has done more staying than Spinal
Tap! From their origin in the London music scene of the ‘60s --
playing in bands like the Originals (later renamed the New Originals)
and the Thamesmen -- to their current role as Legends of Hair Metal,
Spinal Tap, the world’s loudest band, has left a mark on rock that
may never be erased."
God help us
- Harry's Game
Was in fact
a 3-part TV movie thriller in the 80s which brilliantly portrayed the
"Northern Island conflict" and the personal and public
reactions of everybody involved in it. Excellent performances from
Derek Thompson (who now plays the lead role in "Casualty") and
Linda Robson ("Tracey" from the TV sitcom "Birds of a
played very different parts here.
The whole thing had murky English and Irish realism and you ended up,
against your wishes, feeling sorry for the bomber when he was hunted
down and finally executed by Ray Lonnen, as the "hero".
The gentle but haunting Irish theme music by Clannad simply heightened
the tension of this superb British TV drama.
What must be one of the great rock music
films of all time. Alan Parker directs the story of a bunch of Dublin
kids who had nothing and were prepared to risk it all when they set
out to form a true 60s soul band in the late 80s. The film has the
feel, smell and atmosphere of Dublin. The music is superb and was the
basis of a couple of deservedly best-selling albums and a long overdue
soul music revival. And again - if you've ever played in a band, a lot
of the goings-on will be familiar. One of the rare movies for which I
bought the video and watch it regularly (every couple of years).
- The Godfather
first saw this film, I thought it would be just another Mafia movie
with blood and guts all over the place. And it was - but the
characters made their mark on you, with ace performances by Marlon
Brando, Robert Duvall and Al Pacino.
And it's amazing, over the last 30 years, how many little
catch-phrases still stay in your head - "don't ever ask me about
my business", the closing dialogue of the film, being a prime
This film (part 1) had the remarkable effect of surprising me by my
developing sympathy with the characters. However, by the end of part 3
I hated them all, even though they were all dead. If this was the
effect the trilogy was supposed to have then well done Francis Ford
If not, then perhaps "follow ups" (most of which are
garbage) should be avoided.
10 favourite books
for the minute
- Fear &
Loathing in Las Vegas - by Hunter S Thompson
illustrated tale of a journalist and his lawyer who fill a red
convertible with extremely illegal substances and head off to Vegas to
cover a motorcycle race. They then get re-assigned to cover a Police
Drugs Seminar. Need I say more?
This classic book was written (regurgitated might be a better
description) in 1970 and finally made into a movie in 1998. Trouble
is, the book is so outrageous that no film production could do it
justice. Knowing the author, a lot of this tale could be true.
- Sarum - by
Salisbury plain, this is in fact the turbulent story of the entire
course of English history from the Ice Age to present day. One
thousand three hundred and forty four very "readable" pages
which, despite the "timing" problems does manage to maintain
continuity over the 22,000 years covered.
- The Complete Yes
Prime Minister - by Jonathon Lynn & Anthony Jay
to me, is better than the TV series in that it's even funnier and
manages to give a greater insight into the lives of the principal
characters before and after the "saga" that emerges.
But nobody could take this nonsense seriously - could they?
- The Dummies'
Guide to Windows - by Andy Rathbone
accepted the "3.1" version of this enormous book,
grudgingly, in 1994 when I was obliged, because of my profession, to
learn about this wretched, boring, "utility" programme so
that I could oversee the installation of a 12 computer network (with
W3.1 front end) in my accountancy practice.
At the end of 3 evenings I had read, digested, understood it and now
used the "boring utility" with fascination.
Rathbone's style is hilariously funny, which is how the
"Dummies" books, in general, manage to fulfill their task of
educating you to a remarkably high level.
If I ever get around to installing "Windows ME" I will
immediately buy the book, rather than wasting days trying to
"figure it out for myself". That also applies to any other
software utility - I already have a "Dummies" library.
- The Ramses
"quilogy" - by Christian Jacques
This is the
biography of an Egyptian Pharaoh, written by a Frenchman, which
I, an Englishman, bought in a Bangkok bookstore.
Well I acquired the first book with mild interest and was then forced
by addiction to buy the other four. If a series of 3 books is a
"trilogy" what are two, four and five books called - anybody
Until I am enlightened it's "quilogy" for now ...
But, as well as a good tale, there are a lot of fascinating insights
in this book. If you'd asked me when "beer" was invented I'd
have said about four hundred, not four thousand, years ago.
- Contact - by
Carl Sagan (Professor, no less) 1934-1996
Richard Dawkins of the Times:
candidate for planetary ambassador can be none other than Carl Sagan
himself. He was wise, humane, witty, well read, and incapable of
composing a dull sentence."
This story of the first contact between the human race and
aliens was recently released as an excellent film which I watched
umpteen times having already read the book umpteen times.
But, to me, Sagan's magic was his ability to write about complex
scientific concepts and make them seem perfectly natural,
demonstrating his real skill as a teacher. His last non-fiction work
"Billions & Billions" (thoughts on life & death at
the brink of the millenium) is worth a few hours of anybody's time.
- Holidays in Hell
- by P J O'Rourke
"a ramble through Lebanon" and "3rd world driving hints
and tips" amongst others.
A set of magazine articles combined into a great book - one of those
that you can read again and again and still find something new.
Not a god book to take to a doctor's surgery waiting room - unless you
want an excuse to get thrown out ...
- As the Crow
Flies - by Jeffrey Archer
sorry - he may be a bit of a Pratt but he writes excellent books, in
my humble opinion. The best are his short stories but all of my copies
are in Thailand and I can't remember the titles.
This novel is another "ramble" through English history -
following the life of an Cockney barrow boy from the turn of the
century right through until the barrow has grown into a a department
A corny idea but a gripping tale whose characters fascinated me until
the last page
- Blast from the
Past - by Ben Elton
it's because he's a comedian that stopped me taking the author
seriously - until I read this book. And I read it in the serenity of
the New Forest - not on the beach.
The tale of a US politician who returns to the UK to look up a girl he
met some years before. Trouble is that he was an army security agent
and she was a cruise missile protester.
This is a comedy, a thriller, and a love story all skillfully rolled
- Bring on the
Empty Horses - by David Niven
personally I always thought Niven to be the archetypal English
gentleman - until I read this book !
An autobiography with great recollections of Hollywood and it's
inhabitants - the most noteworthy being producer Sam Goldwyn whose
"classic quotes" include the title and: "a
verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on".
10 favourite Websites
... are all on the
Links page- go and find them there (pick 10
of the 30 for yourself)
|1mbb website by Tim