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Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Unfinished discworld as flat as a pancake

It's kind of sad but oh so Terry Pratchett - when the author passed away he left instructions that his computer drives containing his unfinished works be placed in the middle of the road and driven over by a steamroller. The author, it seems, was no fan of other writers continuing the work of dead writers and he didn't want anyone meddling with his work after his own death.


“Pratchett left instructions that whatever he was working on at the time of his death to be taken out along with his computers, to be put in the middle of a road and for a steamroller to steamroll over them all”. Close friend and author, Neil Gaimen

And this is just what happened a couple of months ago when the hard drives where driven over by a vintage steam roller.

The symbolism of the moment, which captured something of Pratchett’s unique sense of humour, was not lost on fans, who responded on Twitter with a wry melancholy, though some people expressed surprise that the author – who had previously discussed churning through computer hardware at a rapid rate – would have stored his unfinished work on an apparently older model of hard drive.
The hard drive will go on display as part of a major exhibition about the author’s life and work, Terry
Pratchett: HisWorld, which opens at the Salisbury museum in September.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Vinyl is now king

I've written here in the past about the surprising comeback of the vinyl medium,but that facts are that far from being a short lived trend driven by hipster culture it seems that the writing is on the wall - this ancient physical form of music delivery is trouncing digital sales. This is happening right across the board and not only with brand new vinyl  but the secondhand market is also booming.


 In 2017 the British Heart Foundation reported that sales of secondhand vinyl record topped sales of half a million pounds.

Earlier this year Anthem Publishing released a monthly magazine devoted to the format - I Love Vinyl is available on the high street, sold alongside the regular music magazines which is further proof, if any was needed, that vinyl is now mainstream. There is even an official vinyl chart compiled by the Charts Company - at the time of writing Nick Deep, the Welsh band from Wrexham, are at No 1 with their album The Peace and the Panic. And whilst there are a lot of reissues in the top 40 there is a healthy chunk of newer stuff too, in fact the first reissue doesn't appear in the charts until no 7,  so vinyl is not only being bought by aging hacks such as myself.  It may have been the older demographic that initially sparked the vinyl revival but this no longer the case, and younger music lovers are falling for the allure of vinyl records.

 According to a new ICM poll, nearly 50% of vinyl buyers are under the age of 35.  Approximately 16% of people buying vinyl records are aged 18-24 and 33% are aged 25-34.

Personally I think it's great - I'm too long in the tooth for all this digital streaming - I come from a generation where there was only two ways to own music and that was on vinyl and cassette - christ, I was in my late teens when CD's first came out.

Long live vinyl.


Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Raised eyebrows and well groomed hair: A tribute to Roger Moore

Earlier this year we lost Roger Moore, he died at the age of 89 after a short but courageous battle with cancer, and although I didn't personally know the man I was genuinely hurt. I'd lost someone who mattered to me - he was my hero and I was beset with grief. He'd been a big part of my life -  I'd worshipped him as a child; following his incredibly colourful adventures in The Persuaders and then later discovering the re-runs of The Saint. Later still he became screen royalty when he took over the role of James Bond. This was the man I wanted to be and I bowed down before the brilliance of his Rogesty

Moore filled my formative years with glamour and adventure - I was 8 years old when he first became James Bond, and 20 when he retired his licence to kill. Think of that for a moment -  For much of my life, for my entire teenage years,  Roger Moore was THE ACTION HERO - of course screen heroes were plentiful but Moore was unique in his sartorial elegance, his charm and his wicked, often boyish sense of  humour. Such was my worship of the man that he became a role model to me, and I'd practise raising one eyebrow and then the other until my forehead was left with permanent creases. I kid you not - I still have the creases caused by a young boy gazing up at the silver screen and dreaming of being just like his Rogesty.


In the 2014 paperback reissue of the The Saint in New York, I wrote, It was Roger Moore, you know, who gave me my first experience with that debonair, buccaneering gentleman we know as the Saint. Those TV episodes, although broadcast in black and white, were likely the most colourful thing in my young life...

And I stand by those words - and when series editor, Ian Dickerson offered me the chance to write the foreword to the new edition I jumped at the chance, for I was a lifelong fan of the series but I knew that my foreword would not only praise the incredible works of Leslie Charteris but would be equally an admiration of his Rogesty himself.

Now as I said I'd never met Moore but I did meet his one time wife, the Welsh singer Dorothy Squires. In the 1990's she was living in the Rhondda town of Trebanog, which was just down the road from where I was living at the time - indeed when Squires died in 1998 at the age of 83 it was in Llwynapia hospital, which was actually the hospital where I was born. When I met Squires she was an elderly lady and although her break-up with Moore had been acrimonious she never had a bad word to say about him. And I cherish the memories of the several conversations I had with the singer,who at the time was sadly penniless and living a reclusive life. While she had been largely forgotten, Moore was still a superstar but she wasn't bitter, at least not openly, and when I brought up the subject of Roger Moore I detected a wistful look in her eye.

I have that same wistful look now when I remember Roger Moore - of course he's not dead to me. Only yesterday I watched an old episode of The Saint on television, and whenever the mood takes me I can  watch one or other of his  James Bond movie. People like Roger Moore don't die in the conventional sense, for their work is always there and no doubt will continue to inspire and entertain for years to come.

 And so I raise an eyebrow, as well as a glass, to his Rogesty with thanks for all the entertainment.



Monday, 14 August 2017

The Saint 2017 TV movie

I've just watched the TV movie of the Saint on Netflix, and although I wasn't expecting much (after all this was a pilot that didn't get picked up), I did find it quite entertaining. And new Saint, Adam Rayner was fine in the title role - he looked good in the action scenes and delivered the witty lines with class. It is a pity that the show didn't get picked up for a series.

Ex-Saints Ian Oglivy and Roger Moore also appeared though Moore's part was little more than a cameo, while Oglivy steals every scene he is in and smoulders as the bad guy. Back in the day there was talk that Oglivy would make a great replacement for Roger Moore as James Bond, but that was not to be. Though judging by his performance here he would make a great Bond villian.

The TV movie looks great, with some incredibly stylish location shooting, and although it doesn't really hit boiling point, it is much better than the Val Kilmer Saint Movie.

Entertaining enough but a missed opportunity. Though fear not and watch out for the sign of the Saint for one day he will return.



Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Saddest story ever told - Elvis Presley: 40 years dead and still bringing in the bucks

This week marks 40 years since Elvis Presley died an inglorious death in the admittedly plush toilet of his Graceland home. That the little boy's room within which Elvis drew his last breath may have been the height of lavatorial splendour matters not, for he still died in the bog. What a sad end for a legend that still burns bright (arguably burns brighter then ever) today. Elvis was just 42 years of age.

The official cause of death was heart attack, but it has since become clear that it was a lethal cocktail of prescription drugs that killed the King of Rock and Roll -

 'The painkillers Morphine and Demerol.Chloropheniramine, an antihistamine.
The tranquilizers Placidyl and Valium.Finally, four drugs were found in "significant" quantities: Codeine, an opiate, Ethinamate, largely prescribed at the time as a "sleeping pill," Quaaludes, and a barbituate, or depressant, that has never been identified.




I was 12 years old when Elvis died - I can still remember the report coming over the television, what I was doing at the time. They say everyone can remember where they were when they heard President Kennedy had been assassinated, well the  King was my generation's Kennedy. Everyone remembers what they were doing when the news broke of Elvis Presley's sad and untimely passing. And now 40 years later in 2017, the ripples that young man made back in the mid 1950's, when he visited Sun Records to cut his first disc are still being felt today. These days Elvis fandom sometimes borders on the absurd; there are some people that even worship the man and attend one of the many Churches of Elvis...I kid you not..

When auditors looked into Elvis Presley's finances after his death they were shocked to find that his total worth was less than 10 million dollars -  and yet in his lifetime he'd generated many hundreds of millions. To put this into perspective when John Lennon died he left more than a hundred and fifty million dollars...then again Lennon's finances were being looked after by Yoko Ono, the daughter of a Japanese banker, while Elvis had old carnie Tom Parker in charge of his money. Of course Elvis has made much much more since his death - in 2016, an album of Elvis songs backed by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra sold over a million copies. In fact it is estimated that now, 40 years after his death, Elvis pulls in over $50 million a year for his estate.

"There are now at least 85,000 Elvis’s around the world, compared to only 170 in 1977 when Elvis died. At this rate of growth, experts predict that by 2019 Elvis impersonators will make up a third of the world population."

The quote above, although intended humorously does make a good point - Elvis Presley continues to touch people's lives, even today. But amongst all this ridiculous nonsense, the jump suited middle aged men (and women) who claim to channel the spirit of Presley into their performance it is often forgotten just how groundbreaking Elvis truly was. His first album, 1956's Elvis Presley, is still an incredible listen and remains one of the finest rock albums every recorded.

The Elvis Presley industry is kind of distasteful - like a rock and roll Disneyland, and it's all about the money, not the sublime artist who actually drives it. Though in fairness his back catalogue has been given some respect with some great box sets available - every fan needs to own the 50's, 60's and 70's sets that came out from RCA several years back.

For all the heights in the Presley story there are so many missed opportunities - if only he'd given Tom Parker the elbow, if only he'd taken a few years off mid-seventies, if only he'd continued in the vein of his excellent 1968 comeback performance, if only he'd recorded a pure blues album, if he'd made less of those corny movies and actually paid attention to what he was recording in the studio.

You know I'm a fan, always have been and always will be, and whenever I think of the Elvis Presley story I realise that for all the fame, all the riches, it is actually one of the saddest stories ever told.

Rock on Elvis Presley.



Friday, 11 August 2017

Classic Trailers





Maybe it seems a little cheesey these days, but there is no doubting that the modern 007 movies have lost a lot of their distinctive style. This was Roger Moore's first stab at playing Bond and his hold on the character is still taking shape - it would take another two movies before Moore seemed perfectly comfortable in the role, but there is no doubt that he looked very much the part in this classic 1973 Bond movie. However it was not until 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me that Moore's take on the character was firmly established.




RIP Roger Moore...nobody did it better

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Bond 25 and 26 may be shot back to back

EON have offically announced that the 25th Bond movie will hit cinemas in November 2019 - the announcment provoked a flurry of rumours with one newspaper claiming that the new film would be based on Raymond Benson's Bond novel, Never Dream of Dying. However there was no truth in this and author Raymond Benson made the following statement -

'"Some of you may have seen an article published by U.K.'s The Mirror yesterday that claims that the next Bond movie will be based on my novel Never Dream of Dying. I know nothing of this, but as I have not spoken with any Mirror journalists at all, I can only assume that the article is a piece of fabrication. It would, of course, be wonderful if it were true."

Another rumour doing the rounds and one that seems more credible is that Bond 25 and 26 are to be shot back to back, and the release dates staggered so that we have a new Bond movie in 2019 and then 2020 - this would make sense to EON as it means they could keep Daniel Craig in the role for another two movies and reports are that the actor has been paid £150 million to shoot both films. Personally, as a Bond fan, I'd like to see a new actor in the role but the box office seems to like Craig's Bond and EON are desperate to keep the actor in the role.

It seems that the next two Bond movies, if indeed shot back to back, will be heavily based on Fleming's original stories with the second movie expected to be a re-make of On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

All that is known for certain though is that Daniel Craig is back despite famously stating that he would rather slash his wrists than play Bond again