Distant Voices, Still Lives

This is a fantastic 1988 British drama film set in 1940’s and 1950’s Liverpool.

The story follows a working class family headed by an angry and abusive father (played by the excellent Pete Postlethwaite), his wife, and three children.

The film is split into two parts, with the first part called “Distant Voices” and the second “Still Lives”. Each part jumps around in the past, present, and future, and does it quite well, although some may find it confusing.

A central part of the story, apart from being about a family that has to deal with a difficult father, is singing. Most of the cast are singing at some point, or are all singing together at home, or together down at the pub with their friends. This is pre-rock ‘n’ roll, so the songs are old-timey. The film’s timeline ended probably just on the cusp of the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, and I was actually expecting to hear Bill Haley or Fats Domino at the end. Some of the actors and actresses were very good singers.

Everything about this is superbness, and I find it hard to criticise it in any way. Some may find this to be a bit depressing, especially the scenes involving the father who is mostly in a bad mood, and what his suffering wife has to go through. But, I found it to be beautiful and unforgettable.

Date watched: August 19th
Score: 10/10
Film count 2018: 53

Abba Arrive on Vinyl

Today, while my daughter was at art class in the central city, I made a beeline for Hard Off as on a previous visit there I noticed this album for a paltry 540 yen, including tax.

Actually, there were three copies there for the same price, and all three are in minty condition. I chose this particular one because it came with the original obi (the sash type thing that is on the left side of the cover). Obis are funny things. They are the equivalent of the stickers that are stuck on the plastic wrap on CDs or records that say things like “With the hit single “Hammer Smashed Face” or whatever. Obis though are bigger and have a lot more information. But for reasons I don’t know people do not throw them away, they leave them there and when you buy a used CD you will find the original obi inside the jewel case. According to this site they can add value to the CD or record.

As I said earlier, this is in minty condition. The cover is basically spotless and not faded, the insert which has the lyrics in both English and Japanese is like new, and the vinyl itself looks as though it has never been played. This is typical for used records in Japan, people here just seem to take great care of their records, or they just don’t play them. Or this is old stock which never sold back in the day, and has spent all of it’s life in record bins. Who knows? But, it is in my possession now, and it will be taken care of, and proudly displayed somewhere.

One of the reasons I wanted this was because of the great album cover. Benny, Anni-Frid, Agnetha, and Björn are sitting in the Bell 47 chopper looking kind of pensive, and look splendid in their all-white jumpsuits. Björn has his hand on the control stick, and on the back of the cover we see the chopper flying, so I presume Björn took everyone up for a spin, perhaps explaining the pensiveness. It is an iconic cover.

This is Abba’s fourth album, and back in the day sold like hot cakes. In England alone it sold over 1.6 million records. Other countries where it sold well were Germany, Australia, and Poland. Here in Japan it sold 645,000 records, which beats the U.S. at only 500,000. And of all of their albums it seems to be the best selling one, although their best-of album “Gold” is one of the best selling albums of all-time at 30 million. If each member got one dollar from each album sold they could each buy thirty of those Bell 47 helicopters, and have a bit of change!

The music itself is pure Abba with the most well-known songs being “Dancing Queen”, “Knowing Me, Knowing You”, and “Money Money Money”. The other songs are decent, but almost feel like filler.

A very worthy addition to the vinyl collection.

Music count 2018: 81

To Tokyo And Beyond

The much anticipated trip to Tokyo is now over, but my mission to spend ten thousand yen on music was a bust. Tokyo was great though, although it was very hot and humid. A wicked thunderstorm on the last day was fun to drive in.

I had the funds, but unfortunately time, which is of the essence in Tokyo, was not managed well. I was hoping to get several records at used record shops, and I did visit three of them, but I had little time available to spend in each…life even for a tourist is hectic in Tokyo.

But, I did manage to get one record, and a few CDs.

Nirvana – Supercollosal Big Muff

In Shibuya I went to “Disk Union” which was on my list of places to visit. It turned out to be a bit disappointing though, not much of a selection and a little expensive. After that I wandered around a bit and stumbled on a most excellent place called “Recofan“. It was jam-packed with music, some in long and narrow aisles.

I didn’t have much time as I had to meet the family to go off and get dinner some where, but I was able to find this bootleg live album for only 300 yen, quite the bargain. It was recorded at the University of Washington in 1990, and is a very decent recording. It was released by a Japanese label called “Small Clone”, who seemed to only release bootleg live Nirvana albums.

A good start to my music shopping.

The B-52’s – The B-52’s

Also at Recofan I found this in excellent condition on vinyl, and for a pretty decent price.

I remember listening to this on vinyl a long time ago, and I remember getting it out from a library our family used to go to, so it is good to actually own it now. And it is in my opinion their best album, and the cover artwork in simple but very striking…I must display it somewhere.

Excellent stuff.

Cypress Hill – Skull & Bones

Later on the same day, after dinner at a BBQ restaurant near the hotel in Meguro, I went off by myself, intent on spending quality time in Shinjuku’s music shops (Shinjuku Station by the way is the world’s busiest train station). I planned on going to Book Off there, and hopefully a vinyl place. I did find a Disk Union, but it was already closed (at 8 pm which seems a bit early to me, even if it was a Sunday). So, I went to Book Off, but as it would turn out they were soon closing too, at 9 pm. So, I quickly rummaged through the 200 yen section and found this album.

This is Cypress Hill’s fifth album and it is pretty good. It is different to “Black Sunday” in that it mixes in some rock elements. Also included are two bonus discs with eight extra songs in total, all good tracks.

For 200 yen this was the bargain of the weekend.

Bob Mould – Bob Mould

As Book Off was closing I quickly went to the “B” section where I had noticed this earlier, grabbed it, then went straight to the counter.

Good stuff from Bob, a solid album.

The Cramps – Psychedelic Jungle/Gravest Hits

The next day we drove to a city called Mito, in Ibaragi Prefecture, which is a two-hour drive north from Tokyo. My mission whenever we visit a new place is to seek out the local Book Off, which we were able to do in Mito.

This CD was the first one I found, and I was most pleased as The Cramps are an old favourite. This is good stuff of course.

Therapy? – Troublegum

Next in Mito I found this in the 280 yen section.

I generally find Therapy? to be good but not great, and this album is no different. It is not a disappointment though.

Therapy? have been around since 1989, and have quite a few albums to their name. Their next album is due out next month.

Public Enemy – He Got Game

The last CD I got in Mito, and the last overall is this soundtrack to the film starring Denzel Washington, a film I have never seen.

I had to get it because it is Public Enemy, a band I have several releases from, and a band that always makes good music.

I put this in the car stereo to listen to on the long trip back home. Unfortunately though that is where the disc still remains as the stereo is refusing to spit it out. I have tried forcing it out, but it just won’t move…dang! So, I listened to it three times over in the car before turning the sound completely down as listening to any album too many times over can cause negative effects.

And this is another good P.E. album, and certainly one of the best original soundtracks for any film.

So, while my plan to spend ten grand did not work out, I am still quite pleased with what I got, not a dud in all of them. I will just have to figure out how to get Public Enemy out of the car.

Music count 2018: 80

Forward the Page of Fame

It is high time an author was added to the MBMS Page of Fame. My two choices were Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, but I decided on Isaac because his Foundation series of books is pure genius, although Arthur’s Rama series is a very close second. Isaac’s sideburns certainly helped.

And it looks as though there may be a series made based on the Foundation books, made by Apple.

Arthur will certainly be added at a later date.

Faster Than Humbug

The music purchasing is still a bit anemic, so I have only two to speak of.

Bulletbelt – Faster Than Death

I was internetting a few nights ago, and I came across this release on Bandcamp.

Bulletbelt are a Wellington (New Zealand) black metal band who have been metalling since 2009. Usually I don’t go for black metal, but this was just so darn catchy that I had to buy it immediately…it was only NZ$2 anyway.

As I said it is catchy, and is really more thrash metal than black. It is also very well produced, it sounds good cranked up a bit. They have three albums as well, but after sampling those I decided that this single will be about all I buy from them for the moment, they all didn’t grab me much.

Arctic Monkeys – Humbug

The Arctic Monkeys are a band I have only gotten into in recent times, beginning with their first album which is top stuff. I also have a few other albums and an EP, so when I saw this album buying it was a forgone conclusion.

And it is a decent album, but at this point I would say it is not nearly as good as the first album. No regrets though. I am looking forward to listening to their latest album which from what I have read is good stuff, and quite different.

Next Monday we are off to Tokyo for one night, so I will be going to Shibuya where there are a couple of vinyl places I want to visit, along with my usual haunts when I go there. Looking forward to it.

Music count 2018: 73

Tetro

Today’s film review is in pirate speak, for no particular reason. Aye.

’tis a 2009 film starrin’ Vincent Gallo, ‘n directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

’twas filmed in Argentina ‘n be a U.S./Argentina/Spain co-production wit’ a cast o’ mostly Argentinian actors, along wit’ Vincent ‘n Alden Ehrenreich, who I could nah place ’til th’ end credits. Both o’ them, along wit’ th’ rest o’ th’ cast were mighty good.

Th’ cinematography too was excellent, mostly filmed in glorious black ‘n white. Th’ scenes taken in th’ Patagonia mountains were beautiful. ‘n th’ tale itself was reasonably simple, but multi-layered, ‘n told th’ tale o’ a difficult family relationship well. Thar was a good endin’ too, quite unexpected, although unlike many films o’ th’ ilk it went fer th’ safe endin’.

Alden Ehrenreich were bein’ great in his role, this bein’ his first film aft bein’ discovered by Steven Spielberg. While watchin’ this ’twas hard nah t’ reckon ye were watchin’ a young Leonardo Decaprio, he looks kind o’ like ‘im ‘n had a similar actin’ style.

A mighty good, but nah great film I would say. I would recommend watchin’ this wit’ a good white wine, ‘n a nice selection o’ cheese.

Lookin’ at Vincent’s website I see that ye can buy some rather pricey booty.

Translation by Pirate Monkeyness.

Date watched: August 4th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 52

Today’s Kirk Fact

Kirk is 17th on the AFI’s list of 50 greatest screen legends, just behind Orson Welles, and in front of James Dean, and his female counterpart is Lillian Gish. He is the highest ranking living person on the list. Tom Cruise is not on the list.

Here is Kirk with Johnny Cash, listed on Rolling Stones’ list of great country artists of all time at number three.