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Ashes to Ashes (TV Series) - looking back [Apr. 3rd, 2008|04:48 pm]
Renewed for a second series then (as expected). This succinct review from an Amazon customer sums up my own views almost perfectly:

Quote: "Yes, I too did mention Life on Mars - this series is bound to be compared to it - Life on Mars was compelling stuff, you bought the dvd and watched it all in one night - not so with Ashes to Ashes - it is good, it is not compelling. Philip Glenister is OUTSTANDING as Gene Hunt - indeed we could have a show with him and his two sidekicks - Ray & Chris who are both brilliant. The character of Alex Drake - shot and transported back to 1981 is annoying, irrating and shallow - she is no Sam Taylor - perhaps it is the actress Keeley Hawes. Philip Glenister and co do not appear to be acting, their characters for that time period are truly believeable where Keeley Hawes appears to be "putting on a show" all the time. Leaving aside the bad acting of Hawes, while we were in the dark to a great extent about what was going on in Life on Mars, here we know - which perhaps diminished the edge of seat, must see the next episode urge. Alex is "trapped" in 1981 what to get back to her life and daughter - Gene fancies her rotten, what will happen? The last episode has a good twist and there is a second series which I will be watching, but not with the same anticipation that I had for Life on Mars. It is good, it is funny, it is enjoyable, but it is not great stuff." End Quote

When I first heard about Ashes to Ashes and that there would be no Sam Tyler, I assumed it would just be a "staight" cop show featuring Gene, Chris and Ray - a sort of "what happened to them next" rather than essentially an inferior retread of Life on Mars with a new lead character. Had they done so, it would have lended some credence to Philip Glenister's claim that Ashes "isn't a sequel to Life on Mars", which it very clearly is.
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Gary Numan - Replicas 2008, Glasgow ABC Sunday 2 March [Mar. 3rd, 2008|03:03 pm]
Another great night in a long list of over 20 years of Numan gig-going. This was something extra special as it was the "Replicas" show - revisiting an old album but not living on past glories as some do these days, given Numan has been making new music over the past 30 years.

Numan had already toured an "old album" with the third of his trio of number one albums - 1980's "Telekon" in 2006 and this was the outing for his first number one album, the breakthrough "Replicas" from 1979 (which includes Are 'Friends' Electric?). I think the "Telekon" concert was probably the better show as the stage set/lighting was more ambitious but I do much prefer the "Replicas" album, the second Numan album I ever heard and probably still my second or third favourite.

My first time in the ABC as a concert venue and a good venue it is too - full of atmosphere and reminiscent of the Barrowlands, though the sound quality wasn't brilliant (despite some of my mates - who were standing right next to me - saying they thought the sound was top-notch...). Had a spot at the front just to the right of centre from the audience viewpoint and relieved that there was none of the mosh-pit pushing and shoving that marred a couple of other Numan Glasgow shows in recent years. This was a larger venue than Numan has played in recent years....and was a sell out! Sensational!

Was freezing waiting outside afterwards and, on reflection, perhaps not worth it as Numan was bustled away onto the tour bus without the usual post-gig "meet and greet" signing (although we had been warned this would be the case).

No work today so nice easy day and catching up with the Numan AFEnet forum chat.
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Ashes to Ashes ep 2 [Feb. 14th, 2008|10:53 pm]
Some good moments and some great lines from Gene...BUT!

This isn't a patch on Life on Mars, sad to say. The writers made great pains to say it would be good to leave Life on Mars after two seasons and go out on a high....so why then go and make an inferior sequel?

I thought this week's ep - rather than being an improvement - wasn't even as good as the opening ep, despite having Auf Wiedersehen, Pet's "Moxey" as the pub owner and Steve Strange (in EXTREME long shot!) performing Fade to Grey at The Biltz.

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Ashes to Ashes [Feb. 7th, 2008|10:32 pm]
Regardless of what Philip Glenister says, this is undoubtedly the sequel to Life on Mars.


The first ep was good but disappointing. There were quite a few really nice touches but a far cry from Life on Mars greatness. Having the Poirot clown from Bowie Ashes to Ashes video effectively taking the place of the test card girl was special and lots more subtle things (such as a barely glimpsed Scary Monsters T-shirt!). Nice also to have Gary Numan's Are 'Friends' Electric? feature prominently (even if that was from 1979!).

Time will tell but DCI Alex Drake hasn't made the instant impact of Sam Tyler and first impressions are that Ashes to Ashes will be a passable sequel and a good series but not outstanding (as Life on Mars was).

Still, I'm looking forward to next week's ep.
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Bowie at 61 [Jan. 8th, 2008|07:33 pm]
[music |Sisters of Mercy]

Well, hardly the big landmark that Bowie's 60th was last year but still worth noting. It's been a particularly quiet 12 months for The Great Man and, unless things are being kept under wraps, there doesn't seem to be much in the offing for the near future either...

Talking of Bowie, I watched the "The Plastic Soul Review" documentary DVD - interesting, though hardly essential. Like most of these programmes, enjoyable to watch once but I can't see anyone wanting to view over again and, inevitably, some of the opinions expressed by the talking heads make you want to throw something at the screen (in this case, particularly the comemnt that "no-one would claim Diamond Dogs was as good an album as Ziggy Stardust" - oh yeah?!) At least - unlike Origins of the Starman - The Plastic Soul Review did include Bowie music and footage. Focusing as it did primarily on the Young Americans album was worthwhile - it's a long, long way from being one of my favourite Bowie albums but it is a period that seems to be have subjected to much less critique and assessment (although I hesitate to say "in depth") than other periods of Bowie's career.

Talking of birthdays, today also marks one hundred years since the birth of the original Doctor Who, William Hartnell. One of the things that usually surprises people is that Hartnell was only 55 when he started playing the Doctor, when most assume he was well into his sixties.
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Blake's 7 - Thirtieth Anniversary today! [Jan. 2nd, 2008|09:37 pm]
Yep, an amazing 30 years have passed since the broadcast of the very first Blake's 7 episode "The Way Back".

I do remember watching it then and, like Doctor Who, how could I possibly have imagined I would still be interested 30 years hence??

Indeed, although the very best of Doctor Who (the Tom Baker era and most of the Pertwee stories) has to rank as my all time favourite, if taken as a whole then Blake's 7 must be my favourite TV series.

It's been great to go the the conventions - my first Deliverance '98 probably still ranks as the best and five years of Star One was fantastic (those sunny weekends in Bedford were a delight never to be forgotten).
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a-ha/Morten Harket [Dec. 4th, 2007|07:18 pm]
[music |Gary Numan "Warriors"]

Category: Music

My most recent CD purchase is "Vogts Villa" - a 1996 release from a-ha's Morten Harket, sung entirely in Norwegian!! I'd been listening to Morten's outstanding English-language album "Wild Seed" (1995) a lot of late and, after hearing some snippets of "Vogts Villa" decided it might well be worth getting - and indeed, it was. Okay, I don't understand a word of it or even know what the song titles mean but the tunes are really good and Morten's voice obviously sounds brilliant, even if I don't know what he's singing about!! LOL (I remember Mr Modesty himself Mick Hucknall of Simply Red saying in an interview years ago, "Well, do YOU know a better singer?" errrmmm...Yes, actually!!!)

That's the thing about a-ha too - they never quite seemed to get the widespread respect they deserve, being thought of by many as simply teen idols from the 80s. Now, as a fairly recent convert to a-ha's music (just a few years ago), all three of their 80s albums stand up very well all these years later (especially "Scoundrel Days") and they were a league above contemporaries such as Duran Duran etc. Their next two lesser-known albums from 1990 and 1993 were more experimental (and included a few duff tracks I must admit) but the best material on these albums revealed the new mature a-ha (including the simply gorgeous "Dark is the Night for All" and laid the groundwork for their comeback in 2000 with their career- best album "Minor Earth Major Sky", followed by the almost equally impressive "Lifelines" and "Analogue". Outstanding pop music for adults and likely to appeal to a lot of people who are nevertheless totally unaware of these albums.

I understand that Morten has a second English language solo album ready for release early in 2008 but he has set the bar very high with "Wild Seed". I knew this album was highly rated but at first it took me a while to get into it as the arrangements are somewhat more sparse than a-ha material. However, perseverance was certainly worthwhile and the album does have a special atmosphere, with special mention to the track "Los Angeles", which is simply beautiful - I'd defy anyone with an ear for good music not to like this!
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At the Vets today [Nov. 8th, 2007|08:14 pm]
Fifth - and hopefully final - visit for China! This infection (if that was what it was) took some shifting and four lots of anti-biotics but he now (fingers crossed) seems to have shaken it off as his breathing sounds fine for the first time in weeks. I just have to hope it doesn't come back as they can't keep giving him anti-biotics and treatments are limited for guinea pigs.

I noted solemnly that we were asked to another room as a poodle had just been put to sleep in the usual consulting room... Of course, I've no idea what the problem was and the poodle looked okay before going in (though possibly nearly blind, I'm not sure) so I was quite shocked to see the elderly owner emerge alone clearly distraught. Truly, I could have gone up and hugged that poor woman and I felt a lump in my throat and had to fight to stop the tears welling up as I sat waiting, even though obviously I didn't know owner or pet. China was the last appointment of the night and the vets' assistants were clearly making arrangements to take the poodle away (the owner had left by this time)....all a fact of life I know but I just wish I had been there at a different time.
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'Control' film (Ian Curtis biopic) [Oct. 23rd, 2007|05:59 pm]
Went to see this film a few weeks ago so catching up. Being a fairly recent convert to Joy Division's music (a bit over a year, and indeed it took me a little time to "get into" the music I must admit as initially I had a reaction of, "I don't see what all the fuss was about") and having been totally enthralled by Ian Curtis' widow Deborah's book "Touching From a Distance", certainly I was eagerly awaiting the Control film. I must say that I was not disappointed, finding it a compelling and powerful drama, even if the book naturally allows far more detailed scope and insight into Curtis' troubled life.

Although generally highly-rated, I noted that some fan reviews have criticised the rather "episodic" nature of the film and indeed I was aware of this is the early stages but difficult to see how this could have been avoided, short of having the film running around 4 hours long!

Also, some commentators have opined that Sam Riley "doesn't really look like Ian Curtis" - well, maybe he doesn't much if you just see him "out of costume/character" but I think he does in the film and was an inspired choice.

As when reading the book, you've got to feel really sorry for Debbie, who must have endured a great deal of emotional stress (almost mental cruelty) as Curtis struggled to cope with his epilepsy in a environment of rising expectations of fame.

With the evocative Joy Division track "Atmosphere" played over the closing scenes, it was a real 'lump in the throat' ending, even if Curtis wasn't always a totally sympathetic character.

Although undeniably a bleak film - and perhaps not one to watch again and again - I'm looking forward to the DVD and hopefully some insightful extras into the making of.
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James Blunt - is he crap? [Sep. 25th, 2007|07:09 pm]
For someone seemingly completely inoffensive, James Blunt does seem to get up many people's noses!

I saw him - then a total unknown - supporting Lloyd Cole & the Commotions' reunion show at the Barrowlands in 2004. I enjoyed his support set and afterwards bought his soon-to-be-mega "Back to Bedlam" album cheaply online, never expecting I would ever hear of him again.

I liked the album - especially the fab 'Wise Men' but got tired of it after a while. Of course, soon James Blunt was everywhere and "You're Beautiful" was played until everyone was mightily sick of hearing it! Cue a backlash from parts of the music press and music fans alike, many of whom seemed to think Blunt had committed crimes against music and songwriting! LOL

Now, I can appreciate his high pitched vocals won't be everyone's cup of tea but, although I wouldn't go crazy about him myself, he must be a lot better than the vast majority of music that is "popular" today and is perhaps something of a throwback to other artists I like such as Lloyd Cole (not that Blunt is a patch on Lloyd, mind - who is perhaps the best and most under-rated songwriter of the past 20 odd years IMHO).

Anyway, Blunt is back with a new album and his detractors have their knives sharpened. I've only heard his single "1973", which I liked a lot - pleasant and catchy - would rank with the best songs from his debut album.
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