Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Remy's Music & Film Blog

About Me: 

Remy's Music & Film Blog, will be a year old next month in July, 2013 and since then I have received visits from every continent all over the world averaging a humble 600 page visits per month which are steadily increasing as momentum gathers. The main aim of the blog is to provide readers with a guide to what films might be worth checking out and what music albums to listen to, mostly focusing on music and film that one may not normally stumble upon in the mainstream media, music stores and film rental shops, but not necessarily exclusively so. I mostly alternate between an album and a film review on a weekly basis, but from time to time may do a special review depending on what's going on, such as the passing of an artist, eagerly-awaited album releases or upcoming festivals. The idea is to provide as much information to the reader, in a compact way, that will allow them to decide whether the particular item sounds like it may be up their alley, or whether they would prefer to avoid it, as we know, everyone's taste is individual. Added to the reviews can be serious tones or humour depending on the subject matter which I hope will translate into a non-snobby and easily accessible point of reference for all readers, regardless of personal tastes. At some point in the near future I hope to get guest writers from amongst friends and regulars who are as passionate about either films and / or music as I am. I hope you enjoy, thanks for the support so far, spread the word and please come back often!

Thanks, Remy

Monday, 17 June 2013

1974 Robin Trower - Bridge of Sighs

Robin Trower, 'Little Bit of Sympathy'

Info: Robin Trower was born in Catford, South East London, in March 1945, but grew up in the seaside town of Southend-on-Sea in Essex where he began playing the guitar from his early teens. His early life was quite disrupted, the family moved to Canada when he was 7 years of age and then to New Zealand, before he returned back to Southend where his grandmother was now living. Trower's mother also passed away when he was young, and in a strange twist of fate, his father remarried and it would be his stepmother who would have the greatest influence on his early interest in music. In Procol Harum: Beyond the Pale, by Claes Johansen, Trower also recalls his older brother Mick bringing home American records, and being blown away by Elvis Presley in particular, then, aged fourteen, he received his first guitar for Christmas, 1959.

After cutting his teeth in his first band, The Raiders, with his older brother and some school-mates, Trower moved back to London and went on to form covers band, The Paramounts, who released a number of singles between 1963-65. In 1967, just following the international success of 'A Whiter Shade of Pale', old acquaintance Gary Brooker asked Trower to join Procol Harum. It turned out to be a match made in heaven as Trower helped tighten up the band musically on successive albums from 1967-1971. In 1973, Trower decided to go out on his own, eager to express his guitar and song-writing skills outside of the constricts of a band, acquiring James Dewar on vocals and bass and Reg Isidore on drums. The debut album, Twice Removed From Yesterday, made only a small ripple in the charts, however, his second release, Bridge of Sighs stormed both the US and UK charts, reaching #7 Stateside. In the liner notes for the album, Trower humbly attributed this success to others, from engineer Geoff Emerick (who came up with the idea of placing microphones at various distances to the guitar when recording), to Dewar's vocals, Reggie (sic) Isidore's soulful drumming, and relentless touring in advance of it's release.

Bridge of Sighs does not contain one wasted track, or a wasted second as far as I'm concerned from superb rocking opener 'Day Of The Eagle' which could easily have been a Thin Lizzy number with it's fast-paced guitar and thumping bass. Title track 'Bridge of Sighs' was the first Robin Trower song I ever heard years ago, long before I'd got to listen to the whole album after I managed to pick it up recently on vinyl. This song is a beautifully enchanting slow burner, and conjures images of the Ferryman of the Dead, Charon, slowly rowing his boat through Hades and passing under the bridge of sighs. My other favourite is 'Little Bit of Sympathy' which is the video above, I think it's a good example of Trower's excellent ability on guitar, he was often called 'The White Hendrix' and you can certainly hear that in his style, not to mention being a Fender advocate like Hendrix. You may also enjoy Trower's facial contortions in the video, which are entertaining to watch, but also highlight how he is completely connected to his guitar and the rest of the band. I've also included a video for 'Bridge of Sigh's' below, as it is undoubtedly the best track on the album, which is saying a lot considering how strong each of the 8 songs are. While it's wasteful and simplistic to merely compare Trower to Hendrix, if you are a fan of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and songs such as 'Burning of the Midnight Oil' and 'Voodoo Chile' you will thoroughly enjoy this album, guaranteed.

Robin Trower, 'Bridge of Sighs', 1974

Track Listing:

1. Day of the Eagle
2. Bridge of Sighs
3. In This Place
4. The Fool and Me
5. Too Rolling Stoned
6. About to Begin
7. Lady Love
8. Little Bit of Sympathy

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Behind the Candelabra (2013)

Behind the Candelabra - Steven Soderbergh - Michael Douglas - Matt Damon

'Behind the Candelabra' Trailer 

Genre: Drama, Biography
Starring: Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Scott Bakula, Rob Lowe
Director: Steven Soderbergh
IMDB Rating: 7.1/10
My Rating: 7.9/10
Runtime: 1hr 58mins

Synopsis: Soderbergh's excellent biopic brings us into the world of the extravagant pianist and vocalist, Vladziu Valentino Liberace, whose career spanned over 4 decades, and between the 1950s-1970s was the world's highest-paid entertainer. Liberace went to great lengths to hide his homosexuality from the world and sued any newspaper that suggested he was gay, however, the undeniable truth eventually came out (no pun intended) via his young lover, Scott Thorson, who published a book about their relationship together a year after Liberace's death from AIDS-related illness in 1987.

Admittedly I'd heard of Liberace only in passing and knew nothing of him other than that he was a famous performer, and in some ways, that made me wonder would I enjoy Behind the Candelabra as much as I would have with prior knowledge, however, the performances of the cast, the obscene opulence of the main character, and black humour swept me along from the very beginning. I should point out, that personally, I run a mile from musicals or films that spend too much time 'on the stage', thankfully Soderbergh avoided such a scenario and stuck with the storyline, scratching away at the complex layers of the main character who is excellently played by Michael Douglas, in what I would view as his best performance since Traffic in 2000 (during the shooting of which Soderbergh actually first mentioned the role of Liberace to Douglas). 

Matt Damon plays the role of Scott Thorson, who met Liberace when he was only 17 and came under his employ almost immediately, mainly as his limo-driver, along with being his lover for five years. Damon pulls off the role brilliantly, he isn't as you may expect, a shy, vulnerable teenager, in fact he's quite confident and not overawed too much by Liberace's charisma and wealth, this early confidence becomes replaced by paranoia as the years pass however and insecurity eventually takes over, leading to a combustible end to their relationship. Other honourable mentions must go to Rob Lowe, who really surprised me as Liberace's plastic-surgeon, my only complaint would be that their weren't more scenes with him as his facial expressions were classic. For his trouble, Lowe had his face pulled back with tape and removable implants placed in his mouth for the film, his character, Dr. Jack Startz, obviously being a walking advertisement for his own business. Scott Bakula plays Bob Black  who introduces the young Thorson to Liberace, although he isn't in the storyline too much, it's nice to see our old friend from Quantum Leap reprise a good role once again.

There is plenty more to the story which will undoubtedly keep you entertained throughout. Behind the Candelabra was first shown at Cannes Film Festival on 21st of May and then aired on HBO 5 days later. The film was only shown on television in the US because it was deemed 'too gay' by the major studios, although I would argue that it's no more gay than the latest Robin Williams film. Thankfully in Europe, the film has had widespread cinema release and is currently showing in theatres near you. I would strongly recommend this film, you get to see Matt Damon and Michael Douglas like you've never seen them before, the acting is fantastic, and the humour is great too, and did I mention Rob Lowe's face?