Author Archives: therustyblues

The Art of Cheese (or how I learned to stop worrying and embrace the cheese)

The Art of Cheese

By The Dedicated Apeman

Good evening, Good morning, and Good afternoon.

You may be wandering why I have greeted you in such a fashion as I have just done. Well, there are two reasons for this, the first of which is that I don’t know what time you’re reading this so I have covered all possibilities as to avoid potential confusion and poor manners on my part.

The second is that due to having done two nightshifts in a row at Waitrose my body clock is well and truly fucked up. As I write this the sun has set in the sky, but I’m just waking up, I don’t even know what time it is anymore, it might be early morning, it might be late night, I just don’t know. I could digress right now, talk about how morning doesn’t start at 1am because midnight is in the middle of the night, so morning must start at about 4am, there and about, but I won’t. It’s a fairly boring discussion and frankly just confuses me and messed up body clock even further…

It is however, concerning these nightshifts that my story begins…

Many of you may think that the job of a shelf stacker is a mindless job for simple people, and while the stacking of shelves is certainly not an intellectual endeavour, it does actually entail a certain amount of philosophising… at least, it does at 3am in the morning when your stacking cheese and feeling like a walking corpse, dressed in full Waitrose attire.

If you look at the name of the blog you may now be able to figure out what this revelation of mine concerned… cheese.

Now, I am not talking about cheese in a literal meaning of the word, at least I’m not talking about cheddar, camembert, Roquefort and all that shebang… Ney, I am talking about things which are “cheesy”.

Cheese, when applied correctly to a song, can make it the most amazing, joyful thing you’ve ever heard, however, it can also have the opposite effect.

I think the best place to start this is by listening to Blondie’s “The Tide is High”, this is a song which embraces the cheese, lets it shine clear through the song and as such is a song you cannot help but smile, dance and sing too,

I hope you enjoyed that little interlude, I certainly did.

Now at this point I would like to say that I am now writing this several weeks after I’ve started the blog, Christmas has been and gone, and 2012 is upon us,  my body clock is now fixed, thank God.

Right after that strange little aside, listen to this Atomic Kitten’s cover of “The Tide Is High” This is where cheese goes oh so badly wrong.

Atomic Kitten shy away from the cheese that is evident in this song, refuse to embrace it and we get bland vocal performances and a song which drags on and on, I didn’t even listen to it the whole way through, stopped at 1:54, to be precise.

Cheese, is only good when embraced, is the point I think I’m making, I could write some more right now, but I really can’t be bothered. I have an exam tomorrow and I need to revise, I’ll leave you in the capable hands of the master of cheese, and will see you next time when I track Britishness through the ages… just you wait.

The 5 songs you should NEVER cover

Rainmaker here… Being in a band, and a killer procrastinator, I have seen a lot of covers. Some of them good, some of them incredible. But some of them are terrible (that last one leads the abomination that is Leona Lewis killing Johnny Cash (and NIN)). There are some songs that no matter how well you play them, or how well you re-invent them, you just cannot cover. Here are these songs.

5 – Wonderwall

It may be he first song anyone ever learns on guitar, but it is the last song you want to play in front of people. Why? Because you will get bottled stoned or egged off the stage. This song is a classic, an anthem, and there is no one alive who hasn’t heard it. Also this song sucks. Yes, I just said that. If you remove the actual song from the crazy magic that happened when the Gallagher Bros. sat down and forged pure awesome from the same 4 chords being repeated in varying ways for 3 and a half minutes… then you get a bad song. The words are avs. at best and musically it’s samey. This means that when you try and play it, you take all the magic out of it, and then, inevitably, add nothing. Here is arch-mediocrity (how’s that for an obscure 19th century british politics reference? Can I get a Tamworth Manifestooooooo?), Ed Sheeran proving that this song is just plain boring.

4 – Hallelujah

This is an oddity: the reason you cannot cover this song is because it has already been covered too well. Its a good song, written by Leonard Cohen but the iconic cover is the one that was done by God himself, Jeff Buckley. The sheer amount of emotion he puts into mean that this is one of those songs that just makes everyone listening shut the fuck up. It was a wicked reinterpreting, and completely fairly gained him a tonne of fame. But this means that a lot of people who don’t know the rest of his music heard it, and thought they would also play it because thats fine. [spoiler=it isn’t] Those covering it go two ways, 1st, the do-it-the-same way. This is a very boring and pointless thing to do. There’s no reason to listen because doing it like Jeff will never be anywhere near as good as Jeff. The 2nd way is to reinvent it. This is even worse than the same way. Seems harsh. Two words – Alexandra Burke. Check it:

3 – Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)

Quick question – Who’s the greatest guitarist in the history of music? That’s right, Jimi Hendrix. Dude’s a wizard. Name a song of his? Yeh I know I already put it in the subheading but this is probably one of the top 5 guitar songs in the history of ever. Also, he was playing that riff and singing at the same time! It’s what you show people when you want them to understand why the guitar is awesome, and why Hendrix is awesome. If you cover this, chances are you’re going to play that riff. Why, God, why would anyone try and play that riff. It cannot be topped, ever.  Any other version of this song just reminds you that the original is awesome and so much better than whoever’s playing it. Even this somewhat decent cover proves that:

2 – Stairway to Heaven

This only narrowly misses out on the number one spot. This is the greatest song of all time. This should not need much explanation. The best song of all time cannot be played ‘better’. This song has been covered well before, by Rodrigo y Gabriela. That version was the exception that proved the rule. It was not better than the original, merely an interesting way to listen to it. I once saw a band play this live. They played it faultlessly and it was a hell of a performance. It made me want to murder them. This is the greatest song of all time. The Golden Rule of Rock – Do Not Cover Stairway to Heaven.

1 – Smells Like Teen Spirit

Two warnings: 1, If you watch the video at the end of this, you may want to burn your entire record collection in outrage; 2, This one will be long.

In 1991 a band called Nirvana changed music forever. This is an objective fact, and i don’t know a teenager anywhere who couldn’t identify this song in 3 seconds or less. There are few songs with an impact as large as this, and the only other one that springs to mind is directly above you now. This song is everything that is good about pop, rock, metal and punk fused in to one bursting song. Teenage angst, rebellion, just fucking rocking out are all epitomised in this song. And we’ve been wrong about it the whole time. It’s a joke.

Comedians love to take the piss out of that fact that no one knows what the lyrics are. You’re not supposed to. They are intentionally stupid. Kurt Cobain wrote this song as a joke. It is designed to be the anti-anthem. When he first played it to the band they all laughed about how stupid it was. Then he made them play it for an hour and a half because it was so funny. Even the title is stupid. Kathleen Hanna, Kurt’s friend and awesome frontwoman of harcore feminist riot-grrrl grunge band Bikini Kill, sprayed it on Kurt’s wall. ‘Teen Spirit’ was an averagely popular deoderant brand, and the one used by the girl Kurt was chasing at the time. He adopted it for the title of a song that in his own words was ‘just making fun of the thought of having a revolution’. It mocks the idea that Teen Spirit is a revolutionary force, rather than just a product to be bought and sold. Remember that – It’ll be useful when you watch the video below.

Anyone who even thinks of covering it, is indubitably going to play it as if it is the anthem of teen revolution that Kurt was taking the piss out of. Not only is this song one of the greatest of all time, but the very act of covering it as you think it is, is going against the very essence of the song. And now I will kill your souls.

It was the great misfortune of mine to stumble upon a video recently. This video has the potential to scar you for life, it makes grown men weep in like babies. It makes music nerds burn their vinyl copies of Led Zeppelin IV. It is a video of a manufactured pop sensation covering the greatest anti-anthem ever written and ever played. I’m sorry.

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Why I didn’t like War Horse as much as I knew I wouldn’t

imposed upon the internet by K.E. McMurphy

Bear with me my lovelies, the title kind of makes sense…I was going to make my first one about ‘Why 2012 will be an amazing year for film/tv’ but as I just saw War Horse yesterday I feel I must talk about it.

So yes this is my first blog in the film corner of Anywhere in Albion. It ain’t about music, I wouldn’t say it’s ranting, and i’m not going to rave about War Horse either because it was not a remarkable, outstanding film. Before you judge me as a cold hearted bastard, I would like to point out to any Times readers that I’m not going to follow Wendy Ide’s ‘cynical as fuck’ path and completely write it off without making any decent criticism. (It may become clear as time/blogs go on that I really, really dislike The Times film critics as they are overly harsh, probably from undeserved smugness). But we must press on.

I must’ve watched the first two trailers for War Horse countless times over the space of about three or four months.. And I cried every time I did so because in my mind I remembered the staggeringly incredible National Theatre production that I went to see four years ago and how much it touched my heart and led to my fascination wtih the First World War. Also John Williams’ score is eargasmic (remember those little ditties from Star Wars, E.T. Jaws and Harry Potter? Yeah – that badass mofo) and it made my chin go all wobbly. When I took in the production value of this film I thought two things. One: This film is going to be a juggernaut, I must see it. Two: This film is SO big it’s not quite going to live up to its high expectations. You’ve got Steven Speilberg, one of the greatest directors of all time, the legendary aforementioned John Williams, two of Britain’s best screenwriters Lee Hall (Billy Elliott) and Richard Curtis (Blackadder, Love Actually, The Boat that Rocked and other quintessentially British happy-go-lucky films. I’m using a lot of brackets here aren’t I? I’ll stop) as well as a host of Britain’s best actors of the moment going in guns blazing with their accents and their moustaches and their projection…I’m mainly talking about Benedict Cumberbatch here ’cause he gave it some jolly good welly it must be said. You see this perfectly constructed behemoth of modern cinema and think: what could possibly go wrong?? THIS FILM IS GOING TO BE AMAZING. And the thing is perhaps it would have been, if the phenomenal theatre production hadn’t come along first.

The National Theatre’s production of War Horse premiered in 2007 to high critical acclaim and changed people’s perception of puppetry forever. Handspring Puppet Company created the horses out of bamboo. No more, the ‘Puppets? Wtf this isn’t Sesame Street’ response, more the, ‘Puppeteers? What puppeteers? I can’t remember seeing any puppeteers…’ response. When I remember going to see it, I don’t remember seeing the people dressed in black maneouvring Joey, I see an incredibly realistic bamboo bay horse staggering about No Man’s Land with barbed wire wrapped round its leg. War Horse changed West End theatre in that like The Woman in Black, and probably for the same reason that its so outstanding, it is remembered not for the fortitude of the actors, but for the story itself which wouldn’t we all agree theatre and film is after all? It’s storytelling at the very base of it and the story of a man and his horse captures our hearts. The play took a well-loved though not incredibly well-known children’s book and exploded it. It was an instant hit and the competence of the Olivier stage with its revolving drum only served to strengthen its success. So when you’ve already got this real and more importantly tangible play to see in London, the film seems to take what was so beloved of the novel and play and push it further from us. This is especially a shame as Spielberg has been so good at touching our hearts in the past. E.T.? Who DIDN’T cry when that little alien waddled off home? Jaws? Who DIDN’T weep in grief when the shark got blown up? Well, everyone, it was just me who felt tristesse ’cause I’ve got this funny thing about sharks…

I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy War Horse the film. Hell and blast it I DID cry several times and there were some really decent bits of cinema in it. And I completely forgot about the goose! The goose was a puppet trundled along after the actors in the play, snapping and honking at their heels and was slotted in every now and then as comic relief for the dead men and horses. Classic. Bringing it back into the film was a great comic touch. The switching of shots between the cavalry charge and the riderless horses leaping over the German machine guns is haunting. The doomed look in Captain Nicholls’ (the brilliant and GORGEOUS Tom Hiddleston) eyes as he sees the machine gun pointed towards them and realises their Imperial mode of fighting has just come to its end was truly tragic, in fact for me the most moving part of the film. The exchange between a Geordie Tommie (I love Toby Kebbell) and a Düsseldorf soldier is probably the best scene in the film, the dialogue steering clear of the Disney-esque corn and cliché from earlier on. And of course, as many critics have said, the combined reaction of a large group of horses reacting to the sound of a fallen horse being put down is enough to make your stomach to a little flip.

To cap it all off, it has to be hats off to the horses of this film. They have been so meticulously well trained to put up with all kinds of shet. Plus, I’ve owned and ridden ponies, and although I’m not great at either of those things, my sister the vet is. She and her pony have a true understanding of each other and watching this film you can definitely see the rapport going on between man and horse the way I’ve seen it between my sister and Fudge (haters gonna hate). And it’s very realistic. At the end, when Albert embraces his mother and father after returning from the war, the horse is looking around, bobbing its head, not watching them adoringly with dewy eyes. Because as much as the horse love Albert, he is still an animal after all. By all means, I encourage people to go and see this film, appreciate it, cry if you want to because it is rather beautiful after all. But I absolutely urge people to se the play first, because it is through that visceral experience that you will really feel the heart-wrenching emotions that this story evokes.

Right well I think I’ve babbled on enough for one day, don’t you? Next time I WILL be speaking about the fantastic upcoming film add tv of 2012. You stay classy, internet trawlers 🙂 ♥