No, what I actually did was take some midi files, put them in GarageBand, and just by changing the instruments, I “remixed” them to sound somewhat different. If I were one of those annoying people, I’d probably say “simples”. But I’m not.
Here are two tracks I’ve done so far. And by “so far” I know I’m suggesting there may be more in the future, but don’t worry yet – that might never happen.
It’s very important at this time of year to restrict your Christmas listening to only good Christmas songs. Not least because shops are full of the very worst ones, and variations of them such as the Panpipe Moods version of I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus. It’s no wonder suicide rates are up in December.
I bring to you, then, some of those Christmas songs which are allowed to be played. You can thank me in the comments.
The Darkness: Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)
Dio: God Rest You Merry Gentlemen
Alice Cooper: Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Bing Crosby and David Bowie: Little Drummer Boy / Peace on Earth
The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl: Fairytale of New York
William Shatner: Good King Wenceslas
Stay tuned for some more at some point! If I can be bothered.
Imagine Kylie Minogue came from Norwich, wasn’t quite as popular in the 90s, was more popular in Japan, and wrote songs for Kylie Minogue. Erm.
If you can imagine that, then you’re imaging Cathy Dennis. Norfolk’s premier outputter of music that isn’t Beth Orton. No, The Darkness are from Suffolk, and they didn’t write “I Can’t Get You Out of my Head”.
Remember Debbie Gibson? She was a bit like Cathy Dennis, only with a different hat.
As well as having a few hits of her own in the early 90s, and writing that song for Kylie, somehow Cathy Dennis also wrote songs for such nobodies as Britney Spears (Toxic), Janet Jackson (Island Life), S Club 7 (Have You Ever) and a little known track for Katy Perry called “I Kissed a Girl”. Oh, you’ve heard of it? Rachel Stevens, Christina Aguilera, Will Young, Kelis, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, David Guetta, Sugababes 1, Little Mix, Mark Ronson, Jordin Sparks, and JayTay’s favourite of all – The Wanted – all have songs written by her. As have many more. Look, I’m not listing them all – I’m not Wikipedia.
Anyway. I was never a fan of her. That’s not to say her songs are rubbish, just I was never into any of that sort of music and the same goes for Debbie and Kylie and so on too, actually. The early 90s pop scene wasn’t really for me.
But then, one day in 1992, something very, very odd happened. The video game magazine Sega Power, which I was – at the time – subscribed to, put this on the front cover:
A cassette (remember those?) containing three Cathy Dennis tracks and some “hot tips” for some Sega games. I did wonder if this was real or just another dream, although I seem to recall an interview with the lady herself. In a Sega magazine. Well, that was the way of the world back in 1992, I suppose.
I went into watching this new version of Richard O’Brien’s iconic musical with trepidation. As a massive fan of the original, I was worried this 2016 remake was going to taint my love of Rocky Horror, not least because most of the reviews I’d read really slated it. I’ll admit, I went in expecting the worst.
From a cold viewpoint, Fox’s 2016 take is the same film as the one from 1975. The plot, the setting, the songs, and even almost all of the dialogue are virtually identical. It’s set in the same time period, and the same events occur, but there is one main difference: There’s an on-screen audience who do some of the now traditional dialogue participation, usually performed by a real audience.
Of course it isn’t quite the same. It’s a whole new cast, for starters, and it’s this cast that causes the biggest issue with the production. Now, much as I like the original film, and its cast, I’m not precious about it. I understand it’s a theatre musical as well as a film, and it’s only natural that over time many different people will fill the various roles. Who, specifically, have done so here is genuinely rather hit and miss.
To start with credit where it is due, Laverne Cox is excellent as Frank-n-Furter, both in style and voice. She’s a genuinely different take on Tim Curry’s Frank, and it works. Victoria Justice is a great Janet, and Ryan McCartan plays a bland Brad badly, although that’s keeping in character with the original role. Adam Lambert surprised by not trying to replicate Meatloaf’s Eddie, instead having more energy and making it his own, but Reeve Carney virtually channels Richard O’Brien’s Riff-Raff to the point where you wonder why they didn’t just hire O’Brien again. I’m torn on whether this makes Carney’s Riff-Raff good or bad. Columbia, played by Annaleigh Ashford, is almost Harley Quinn, but it works and she’s possibly even better than Nell Campbell. Possibly.
Less impressive are the others. Christina Milian is a totally forgettable Magenta, Ben Vereen makes a terrible Dr. Scott (a role performed almost as if they wanted Morgan Freeman instead), and – probably due, sadly, to his stroke – Tim Curry really doesn’t make a good Criminologist. Curry’s delivery just isn’t there. The worst, by a long way, is Staz Nair as Rocky. Sure, Rocky is meant to be an airhead with a body builder’s physique, but he walks like a robot and isn’t exactly stacked in the muscle department to make up for it. He’s a very strange choice, and his entrance song – Sword of Damocles – is a dire rendition here.
Moving onto the Rocky Horror music, it’s generally great. A few songs are arranged differently, which changes the feel a little, but they’re mostly still wonderful. Rose Tint My World may perhaps surpass the original, and Dammit, Janet, Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me and Wild and Untamed Thing are all at least as good. Sadly, the best known and most loved track in the musical, The Time Warp (after which this remake takes its subtitle), sounds much less fun and the dancing isn’t anywhere near as tight as it should be. Come on, Fox! That’s the most important bit!
Despite the bad points, and really there aren’t that many, I’m relieved. My memory has not been tarnished, and although The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do The Time Warp Again is far from perfect it’s perfectly watchable, enjoyable, and if it brings the show to a new audience with its sexy young talent (and Staz Nair), then that can’t be a bad thing. I’ll stick with the 1975 classic, but I’ll happily see this on the side every now and again.
Do you remember me asking you lot for free stuff a while back? Well, some of you were kind enough to send me free stuff. Free stuff like this – a CD (remember those?) of music tracks recorded using a ZX Spectrum (remember those?) beeper. Actually on a Spectrum. In this day and age. Wonders will never cease.
The beeper in the Speccy was never designed to be used for music, but some clever people figured out a way of fiddling with it to pump out some raspy excellence – notably Tim Follin. 1-Bit Mechanistic by Tufty (who presumably is a squirrel) takes the sort of thing Follin managed to a whole new level, with a full CD album of music unhindered by needing to, you know, have a game to process at the same time.
The first track on the album, Loading, is a musical approximation of the horrific squawking noise Spectrum tapes made when, er, loading. Somehow, the usual ear-splitting horror is – thanks mainly to a thumpy beat – transformed into a toe-tapping cacophony. It’s a mess, but of the sort you want to hear more of so it’s a shame it’s just 26 seconds long. No Speccy tapes loaded in 26 seconds!
Thumpy beats and hissy, rasping tunes are pretty much the order of the whole album, with most tracks impossible to listen to without some part of your body twitching with the beat. For example, the track So Cold the Night, an oppressive take on The Communards song of the same name, features a heavy bass line that forces you to tap along. It would work excellently as a “you’re approaching a boss” theme in a game too.
The title track, 1-Bit Mechanistic, sounds like a melody of a handful of other tracks somewhat distorted, of course, and only vaguely recognisable. This may be unintentional, but Duck Soup‘s Barbra Streisand, however, is quite clearly an influence.
As for the album as whole, it’s certainly my sort of thing but I suspect many people will find it hard going. The Spectrum’s music output is very raw and harsh, and without the context of an actual game to pair it with it becomes a difficult listen. You really should, however, especially if you’re a fan of the scene, or perhaps have enjoyed compositions from the likes of Anamanaguchi. There’s definitely talent here, and the knowledge that Tufty has produced this with such a limited system only impresses more – it’s just a genre that is somewhat demanding on the ears.
Jam again, eh? If the other posts on jam were not the specific jam that he’s after, then perhaps The Jam is?
Some things I know about The Jam:
They’re not The Style Council
Town Called Malice
They were on the front cover of Mojo magazine once
I wasn’t even born for most of the time the band were active (from 1972 to 1982), and never really got into them at a later date. I don’t dislike them at all, but aside from the two tracks mentioned above they haven’t really entered my consciousness.
Paul Weller himself, mind, is one of those instantly recognisable singers. Whether in The Jam, The Style Council, solo, or as part of one-time supergroup The Smokin Mojo Filters, his voice clearly stands out. I liked a lot of his output during his sort-of solo revival in the mid to late 90s, especially Peacock Suit, Wild Wood and The Changingman. Since then though, I’ve not heard much.
I’m digressing now to fill space, because this post is actually supposed to be about The Jam, not Paul Weller.
While looking up interesting stuff about the band, I found they reformed in 2006-ish only without Weller, going under the name of “From The Jam” or “Bruce Foxton”, who is one of the other band members. Weller guest appeared on some of their tracks though, making them essentially The Jam again, only they weren’t. “It’s complicated”, perhaps.