R.I.P. Malcolm Young

Malcolm Young

06.01.1953 – 18.1.2017

Rock’n’roll lost another legend recently – the one and only Malcolm Young of AC/DC.

I’ve been a fan of AC/DC for a very long time – they were one of the very first hard rock bands that I listened to.  “Who Made Who” was the first song of theirs I heard and was absorbed by.  Later on the “Blow Up Your Video” album came along and I was hooked.

A couple of years later, in a rip-off Hard Rock Cafe in Berlin, I heard the “Highway to Hell” album and was re-introduced to the earlier AC/DC recordings.  I was that enraptured by the title track that I went out and bought a copy the next day – I couldn’t wait to return home to buy it.

I’ve still got that vinyl album now, along with many others.

I could write all day about my favourite AC/DC albums and songs; write list after list and enthuse forever about how great this band are.

Malcolm Young was the anchor of AC/DC – the perfect bridge between the super-tight rhythm section of Cliff Williams and Phil Rudd and the upfront lunacy of Angus.  Angus, the younger brother – along with unforgettable Bon Scott and good old Brian Johnson – were the focus, but Malcolm was the heart.

Malcolm held it all together, and not just playing live – he was essential to writing of all the band’s material and developing their entire simple-but-effective ethos.  He’s been called the greatest rhythm guitarist of all time, and I agree.

Thank you for the riffs, Malcolm Young.  High Voltage Rock’n’Roll forever.

The Abominable Halloween Horror Fest

The Babadook (2014)

I had heard that this film was good, and The Babadook didn’t disappoint.  This Australian movie was very impressive.

Centred around a widowed mother and her young son, the film is original and different right from the start.  The young boy, Samuel (Noah Wiseman), is having a troubled time; even more so when he encounters a book about Mr Babadook.  Suddenly, his fears of what hides in his room at night become more fraught. 

The mother, Amelia (Essie Davis), eventually becomes embroiled in the uncanny happenings as the Babadook seems to materialise.  Slowly, their relationship – and their existence –  becomes warped by the strange Babadook creature, until their reality threatens to fall apart.

The Babadook is both chilling and innovative; full of suspense and yet also a sharp psychological thriller.  How much are we experiencing for real, and how much is imagination?  This film very cleverly avoids cliche, whilst creating a forbidding atmosphere and genuine tension.

It’s also thought provoking and will stay with you for days afterwards.  Brilliant and highly recommended.

9/10 

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

Horror legend Vincent Price stars in this cult classic about an esteemed doctor (and organist), in a terrible tale of revenge and murder.

Phibes’ beloved wife died tragically on the operating table, and he is now driven to kill the medical team he deems responsible.  There follows a series of grisly murders based on the biblical plagues of Egypt, each intricately designed by Phibes. 

There are plenty of moments of dark humour as the police officers attempt to put the clues together and trap the murderer, but Phibes is always one step ahead.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes is a great film, plenty of gruesome scenes and Vincent Price on top form.  An imaginative soundtrack and beautiful Art Deco set design create a fantasy that is wonderful to watch.  Seriously, the sets are fantastic.

Of course, as a big fan of punk/goth rock veterans The Damned, I was thrilled to put together the connection between this film and “13th Floor Vendetta” on the bands “Black Album”.  Just one of many reasons I thoroughly endorse this quirky little gem of a movie.

Oh, and did I mention that my favourite horror movie beauty Caroline Munro appears as Phibes’ wife (if only in photos)?

8/10

R.I.P. Lemmy

Lemmy

Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister

24.12.1945 – 28.12.2015

A huge part of growing up is buying your first Motorhead album.  For me it was the compilation album “No Remorse”, which I wanted because it had “Ace of Spades” and “Killed By Death” on it.  With that purchase, I took a step into a bigger world.  Motorhead were a gang, not just a band – and with buying that record I was subscribing to a whole new way of life.

The first time I encountered the rabid monster that was Motorhead was when they performed the legendary “Ace of Spades” on the Young Ones episode “Bambi”.  Lemmy was there front and centre, a living icon in mirror shades, mutton chop whiskers, and thunderous bass guitar; bellowing into a mic that was stretched to the ceiling.

Motorhead’s music was a raucous, fast burst of adrenaline and I played that album every Monday morning before school.  It was the best way to get into the zone and face the start of the week.  Total take no prisoners, take on the world music.  Of course, real life wasn’t so harsh, but Motorhead made you feel like you could do anything.

Lemmy himself was always the uncompromising rock’n’roll figurehead.  His gruff demeanour and his reputation for fast living only cemented his status.  And Motorhead were always cool.  When I developed a taste for punk rock, Motorhead were still cool.  Lemmy and Motorhead straddled the otherwise impossible crevasse between punk and metal.  He had roots going back to early rock’n’roll and the classics of the 60’s with the Beatles and Hendrix.  Lemmy was part of rock’s DNA.

Over the years I collected their albums, bought the t-shirt and Lemmy’s autobiography, and saw them live.  I even met the guy once.  One day I’ll write up the story of that night, which I was always going to call “The Greatest Night Out of My Life”.  Suffice to say that I met Lemmy in a strip club in Liverpool after a Motorhead gig, totally by chance.  I hung out with him all night.  He was extremely gracious and funny.  He was tolerant of drunk fans because he knew how much the music meant to us.

As much a gentleman as a warrior, the world has lost a real original with the passing of Lemmy Kilmister.  He was a pioneer, an innovator.  We knew he’d go one day, but it’s still unbelievable.  I’ll miss Motorhead.  Raise a glass to the great man and yell:

“You know I’m born to lose, and gambling’s for fools, but that’s the way I like it baby, I don’t wanna live forever!”

Johnny Cash R.I.P.

He was the Man in Black.  The original Rock’n’Roll rebel.  He spoke for the downtrodden and forgotten.  He was tormented by his demons and knew both success and despair.  A contemporary of Elvis, his legacy has had an impact on generations of musicians and music fans of all tastes and walks of life.

He was Johnny Cash, and he passed away on September 12th 2003.

If you’ve read my music themed posts previously, you’ll know that Johnny Cash is my favourite recording artist of all time.  As a tribute to my hero, here is a summary of some of my favourite songs from his vast repertoire.

These songs are not presented as a “Top 10” or an essential guide.  That would take much more contemplation.  This is just ten songs that spring to mind as indispensable.

One Piece at a Time 

Great memories of singing this song at Karaoke.  One of Cash’s more light hearted tunes, with a great rolling rhythm.  Find it on “The Best of Johnny Cash”.

The Man Comes Around

Title track from the fourth American Recordings album.  Full of biblical portent and apocalyptic thunder.

Man in Black

Cash wasn’t afraid to speak his mind and go against the grain.  In this song, the beaten and the cast aside are defended at a time when such views were not healthy for a Country star’s career.  From “Greatest Hits”.

Pocahontas

Cash declared his sympathies with the Native Americans in several key songs throughout his career.  This song pulls no punches yet does it with a beautiful melody.  From the American Recordings boxed set, find it on “Vol. 2: Trouble in Mind”.

A Boy Named Sue

Another comedy tune and an obvious choice, I know.  I picked it ‘cos I’ve sung it at Karaoke many times.  Although I can’t really sing.  This song gave me the confidence to stand up and try.  From “Johnny Cash at San Quentin”.

Hurt

A cover of a Nine Inch Nails song, from “The Man Comes Around”.  If you can listen to this all the way through and not get all choked up by the end, I feel sorry for you.

Ghost Riders in the Sky

When I started listening to Johnny Cash, I realised I remembered this song from when I was a tiny kid.  Though I didn’t know it was him back then.  Cowboys and ghosts, what’s not to like?  I found it on “The Best of Johnny Cash”.

God’s Gonna Cut You Down

From “American V: A Hundred Highways”.  A sombre warning.  Sinners and saints.  Great video.

Folsom Prison Blues

“I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.”  You’ll find it on the essential live album “Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison” or any Greatest Hits compilation, and you will love it.

Ring of Fire

This was the first Cash song I became obsessed with.  I’d heard other songs but this was the (obvious, I admit) tune that grabbed me.  The impact this song had on my listening habits is immense.  Mexican trumpets.  I blame “Jackass” for this one.  Available everywhere, mine’s from “The Best of Johnny Cash”.

 

Johnny Cash

26/02/1932 – 12/09/2003

 

http://www.johnnycash.com/