Monday, 29 April 2013

ORIGINAL GANGSTERS



Edward G Robinson
Gangster chic is normally associated with the 50's era portrayed so effectively in the Godfather movies: sharp silk Italian suits fine tailoring and muted palates. Goodfellah's gave us a newer generation with a more casual look: buttoned down shirts and Gabbicci slacks.
 
George Raft
 
The real dapper gangster look is that of the 30s. Spats, brown derby hats, Fedoras, Double breasted suits, button holes, canes, waistcoats and cool overcoats. It was a spin on the quintessential British gent: a look taken to extremes by the Super Fly pimp of Blaxploitation.
 
Paul Muni
George Raft, Edward G.Robinson and to an extent Cagney typified this style. Those great Warner Brothers gangster movies showcase this dapper look and the men who strutted across their empires had a swagger that really did exploit the "if you've got it flaunt it" credo. 
 
Cagney & Bogart
 
The Dead End Kids seek to emulate the
Gangster style in Angels With Dirty Faces
 



 

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

CHICISM REVISITED


 

So it being freezing in the UK I went to Egypt and whilst lying by the pool I found myself listening to the Chic Organisation; Chic, Sledge, Sheila B Devotion, Norma Jean, Carly Simon, the original chic mix of Diana etc and I'd sort of forgotten how phenomenal all this stuff is. I recommend dusting some of it down and revisiting. Example- He's The Greatest Dancer: Edwards, Rodgers, Thompson; tight as you like, the strings; sublime, lyrics; summing up the good times with tongue in cheek, horns & piano; subtle, the break; showcasing the component parts superbly, Kathy Sledge's lead vocal; perfect! What good times they were.

"Halston, Gucci, Fiorucci"
 
Shame of it is that Nile Rodgers stated on the excellent recent BBC4 Documentary Nile Rodgers: Hitmaker, that the whole 'Disco sucks' movement killed Chic. A bunch of middle Americans who were listening to the likes of REO Speed Wagon and Kansas, which is fair enough, but taking a perceived moral high ground and basically hating a music whose prime movers were Black, Gay or European, going to the extreme of burning Disco records. BURNING RECORDS!
Shameful.
 

In many ways Nile Rodgers had the last laugh by producing the likes of David Bowie, Duran Duran and Madonna and by doing so giving those artists great commercial success. The song that will be all over the radio this summer features Nile Rodgers: Daft Punk's Get Lucky, proving that Rodgers still has what it takes. Retrospection has given many a chance to reevaluate the Chic Organisation and realise that good music is good music regardless of any genre prejudices.
 
 



 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

RACE AGAINST TIME

There's nothing quite like a movie where the clock's ticking with the stakes high. The race against time is as old as cinema itself. Damsels in distress tied to train lines by ghastly villains with a "will he? won't he?" hero speeding to the rescue. The inevitability of the day being saved is often not as inevitable as it might seem, but the nail biting is ever present. Here are a few of my favourites.
 
 




 

 
 
 
 

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

CRINGE CORNER: KNOCK OFF NIGEL



Much as I begrudge no one the right to make a living as they see fit, I do wonder how the creative masterminds behind the Knock off Nigel public information campaign were able to show their faces in the office the day after the first infomercial was shown that they thought would have pirates everywhere quaking in their boots.


Surely they didn't think that the jaunty KON song and the sub standard 'serious message'  performances that made Eastenders look like Harold Pinter would dissuade an economically strapped Joe Public from buying the occasional item fresh from the back of a ubiquitous lorry. The man or woman who signed off on this woefully inept campaign must surely have been called into a glass and steel office on the 23rd floor and given a hefty reprimand.


Excruciating doesn't come into it. When it comes to trying to remind the populace to not break the law a message keeping it simple is generally the way to go. Creating an insipid character flaw and calling it Nigel whilst giving him an embarrassing theme tune is one of the worst ideas since sliced bread. No one, but no one was dissuaded from buying less than legal items by various Nigels' exploits.


Perhaps a real criminal could have been hired as an adviser so that this ineffectual campaign that obviously cost hundreds of thousands wasn't money that vanished down the plug hole.


The Legend:
“Knock off Nigel: He's the type of man who does things on the cheap/He gave his girlfriend a watch that he found in the street/He buys knock-off DVDs from a rotten old Gran/He scrounges his drinks, what a grubby little man/HE'S A KNOCK-OFF NIGEL, HE'S A KNOCK-OFF NIGEL/HE'S A KNOCK-OFF NIGEL, HE'S A KNOCK-OFF NIGEL/KNOCK-OFF NIGEL BUYS KNOCK-OFF DVDs!"




Monday, 1 April 2013

NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL 1977

 
1977 was a superb year for albums, including debut's from Chic, The Clash, The Sex Pistols and Elvis Costello. Seminal works from Bob Marley, Steely Dan, Kraftwerk and a double whammy  from David Bowie. The biggest selling soundtrack album of all time and album's that have gone from cool to cheese and back to cool again, there were a plethora of great albums; here's some of them