Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Love is the cure for every evil...

Farley Granger's career remains synonymous with the two films he made for Hitchcock in 1948 and 1951 - 'Rope,' and, 'Strangers on a Train;' films which, both subtly and unequivocally, reflected Hollywood's increasing anatagonism towards Communism and homosexuality - commom subtexts in many films of this period.

Granger's best performance however, was in Nicholas Ray's marvellous 1949 debut, 'They Lived by Night.' Granger plays the part of, 'Bowie' Bowers who, along with his accomplice, 'Keechie' Mobley, later embark on a crime spree that ends, unsurprisingly, in tragedy.

The film was a huge influence on directors as diverse as Arthur Penn, Terrence Malick and Robert Altman (who directed the remake, 'Thieves Like us,' in 1974).

Farley Granger - star of stage, screen and television for over 40 years.

RIP - Sidney Lumet 1924-2011

Sydney Lumet - Guardian Obituary

Thursday, March 24, 2011

There are some boys that never go out...

Hailing, quite literally, from Melbourne, Australia, The Lucksmiths were part of a larger conurbation of 'Jangly' pop bands that emerged in the early 1990's. They share similar musical persuasions to The Smiths, fellow Australians, The Go-Betweens and Trashcan Sinatras - esteemed company indeed.

Lyrically, The Lucksmiths remind this, sometimes weary, sometimes jaded, always handsome (copyright Dave McCullough, 1983) writer of early Billy Bragg, early Wedding Present - they comfortably share the same poetic sensibilities, the same obsession with the gloriously ordinary.

Buy all their records.

'Get-To-Bed Birds

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ask me no question...I play music...

Osbourne, 'King Tubby,' Ruddock is rightly regarded for his overriding presence on the development of dub music. His influence on much of contemporary music is incalculable - from reggae to soul, dance to electronic music, current pop to future rap, the legacy of his genius is there for all to hear.

King Tubby, if he had lived, would have been 70 on January. Engineer, erstwhile DJ, producer par excellence, we are fortunate to still hear his silent yet mighty voice in the myriad available recordings of his work.

Dillinger 'Dub Organiser'
Upsetters 'Freak Out Skank'
Lee Perry 'Blackboard Jungle Dub'
Observers 'Rema Dub'
God Sons 'Merry Up'

Monday, March 14, 2011

'What are we doing in there?'

Grove Press has been around for over 60 years now, publishing all kinds of books. Ostensibly a hardcover and paperback imprint of Grove Atlantic, its history of championing groundbreaking writing is an illustrious one - Grove's owner, Barney Rosset Jnr, famously challenged and changed temporarily forever the American literary landscape when, in the 1950's and early 1960's, he published Henry Miller's, 'Tropic of Cancer,' and D H Lawrence's, 'Lady Chatterley's Lover.'

Grove continues its iconoclastic tradition of publishing today - witness recent books by such diverse writers as Dubravka Ugresic, Karl Marlantes, Michael Knight and Bryan Charles - whose latest memoir (see above) is often eerily reminiscent of James Brown's marvellous 2005, 'LA Diaries.'

LA Diaries download


Thursday, March 10, 2011


To play the new video by the best band in the wurld...

Trashcan Sinatras

Sunday, March 6, 2011

'...By hand and by brain to earn your pay...'

Thirty years ago, Dick Gaughan released his defining album, 'Handful of Earth.' Gaughan's career and personal life were at something of a crossroads when this album was recorded - it's release was contemporaneous with the early, and many would contend, most divisive policies of the then recently elected Conservative Government.

'Handful of Earth,' was a call to small arms. It was Gaughan's attempt to musically articulate his frustrations and despair at what he saw was the systematic erosion and destruction of the rights of working people - the working people he so intensely emotionally identified with.

It is an album of heartbreak, but also an album of shared solidarity for a newly and increasingly lost and disenfranchised generation of young and old, men and women of every colour, creed and none, in the face of callousness, indifference and no little brutality.

It's a darkly celebratory record and is as painfully resonant and relevant today as it was on its original release.

Musicians' Union
Z Space

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Our kind of woman...

Jane Russell was, in many ways, the female equivalent of Robert Mitchum; the male lead in two of her fabulously over the top RKO Radio Pictures distributed films from the early 1950's - 'Macao,' and 'His Kind of Woman.'

The latter especially is a marvellous film - featuring Russell, Mitch and Vincent Price (in one of the most hyperbolic performances committed to film).

Russell was more than just a glamour girl. She demonstrated genuine comedic ability in a number of films, and should be remembered for her talent in transforming mundane movies into watchable, entertaining ones.

Thanks, Jane.

Also, Jill Clayburgh RIP