Archive for April, 2013

52 Book Pick up: April update!

Posted in Books, Film, Television on April 30, 2013 by thebigsmoke

I don’t think I’m going to finish another book before the end of the month, so here’s my April update.

18. The Rat On Fire by George V. Higgins

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Higgins has probably always been best known for The Friends of Eddie Coyle, although he also wrote Cogan’s Trade, on which last year’s Killing Them Softly was based.  Higgins’ stories are told mostly through different exchanges; meetings between the main characters, who discuss what has happened and what it means.  There are long passages of dialogue.

Although I am familiar with his work, this is the first proper book of his that I have read.  I found it to be a good, entertaining read, if not exactly action-packed.

19. Seduction Of The Innocent by Max Allan Collins

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I did’t realise until I began reading that this is the third part in a trilogy of books from this prolific crime writer.  This book, like the earlier two, focusses on Jack and Maggie Starr, an unlikely pair of detective-cum-comic book publishers.  Collins has dabbled with comics in his other work (most notably Road to Perdition and Dick Tracy), so the mix of comic book history and murder mystery in Seduction of the Innocent is not so unusual as it might seem at first.

Each book in the short series revolves a dramatised version of a real life event in comic book history.  The focus in this one is the backclash against the comic book industry in the wake of publications by  Dr Fredric Wertham durig the 1940s.  Under pressure, the industry began regulating itself and the Comic Code was born.

To me at least the history is fascinating, so I enjoyed Collins’ alternate version of events set against a whodunnit.  How could I not enjoy this?  It’s a well-written amalgam of things I love.  My only major criticism is that, fascinating as the history was, the whodunnit was clunky and the outcome far too predictable.  Still, this was definitely good enough that I want to read the earlier parts of the trilogy now.

20. Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets by David Simon

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I only managed a measly four books this month and Homicide is the reason why.  This tome took a little over two weeks for me to read, leaving me with half a month to read anything else.  Still, it was totally worth it and this is book of the month for me.

Although it was written in the late 1980s, the book only really became popular in the last decade.  The author, David Simon, is creator of the phenomenal hit TV show The Wire.  As you can see from the cover above, Homicide has more recently been promoted as a sort of addendum to The Wire.  Consequently, it’s been rediscovered by readers and critics alike, who have come to it with a new kind of appreciation.

However, Homicide is a journalistic work, written when Simon was working for the Baltimore Sun.  He spent a year with the Baltimore’s Homicide Unit and then catalogued the investigations which he witnessed first hand.  Although the events described are all real, the book reads like fiction.  Even writing this short review I have to keep stopping myself from saying it was “based on” or “inspired by” true life, because Homicide is not a novel.

It is, however, a spellbinding snapshot of the stranger-than-fiction process of murder investigation.  Simon’s writing is thoughtful and it’s his reflections on the bigger picture which allow you to see the germ of the ideas which were later explored in The Wire.  This one definitely deserves its critical acclaim.

21. The Blackbird by Richard Stark

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The third of the four Grofield novels by Richard Stark (Donald Westlake).  I thought the second was a little off piste when I read it in a couple of months back, but this one was way off.

I always loved the Grofield character in the Parker novels, but in The Blackbird he’s shoehorned into a James Bond-style role that just doesn’t quite work.  Better than readable, but this one simply missed the mark for me.

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Recent vinyl purchases, Sunday 28 April 2013

Posted in Music on April 28, 2013 by thebigsmoke

I’ve kept it pretty hardcore this weekend.  I wasn’t sure whether to post up all my purchases or just the a selection of the best tracks.  In the end, I thought fuck it and am going to post them all.  You be can be the judge of which were worth buying (if any).

Smooth But Hazzardous: We Are The Creator

My most expensive purchase this weekend.  The sample is from the first Star Trek movie.  Love this one.

The b-side isn’t too shabby either:

Smooth But Hazzardous: Push Up The Levels

Those are Ice-T vocals, by the way.  The sample’s from ‘I’m Your Dealer’.

Anyway, moving on, I also got this awesome track:

Secret Squirrel: The ‘X’ Men

It’s weird, I only heard this one for the first time about a month ago listening to one of the pirates.  I assumed it was some nu skool production and couldn’t have been more wrong.  It was only when shopping for records that I stumbled across the original vinyl.  I was very, very happy when I got that ID!  Honestly, I love all the Bogwoppa and Dance Bass releases (especially the Secret Squirrel and Undercover Elephant releases), but somehow this one had managed to completely pass me by.  I have absolutely no idea how I missed it before.  The ‘Boogie Down Bronx’ sample makes it an instant winner for me.  I also love that little MC sample before the breakdown, the same one that Dance Conspiracy used on this track:

Dance Conspiracy: Dub War (Chapter 2)

Not too sure what event the sample came from.  It might have been the UK Soul All Dayer Of The Century back in 1987.  “Shout to all the Forest Gate fly girls” anyway.  That was an awesome event.  I recommend listening to the available recordings on YouTube.

Vibes & Wishdokta: Sweetest Love

Another bit of hardcore plastic.  On a happier tip, with a big Anita Baker sample in the middle.

Finally, some drum ‘n’ bass:

Dope Skillz: Controlled Freak

I got this one for peanuts.  It’s part of a double pack by DJ Zinc under his Dope Skillz alias.  I was listening to some of DJ Hypes old shows and he was playing this, promoting the Tru Playaz label as he tends to do.  For whatever reason this track never became particularly popular, hence the low price tag; but it caught my attention.  It’s got a nice bubbling techno type of sound that I like.

Zack Once Again: The Man of Steel Trailer

Posted in Comics, Film on April 28, 2013 by thebigsmoke

To avoid my blog becoming nothing more than a list of records I’ve purchased, I’m going to squeeze in some thoughts on the new Man of Steel trailer.  It’s trailer number three, I think, which means the movie is beginning to run the risk of becoming another Prometheus; where everyone seemed to have seen about a third of the movie before it was even in cinemas.  Anyway, here it is for anyone who hasn’t seen it:

There are a bunch of cool trailers doing the rounds to get audiences excited for this year’s batch of Summer blockbusters.  I can’t say I’m especially excited for Man of Steel, but the trailer is kind of intriguing and raises some interesting questions.

I’m really not a huge fan of Zack Snyder.  He is a go-to director for comic book adaptations and is constantly working on things I should enjoy.  Yet again he’s managed to snag another great comic book project and take the helm.  He’s obviously a gifted director technically and it comes throught that he likes the comic book subject matter, but he just hasn’t been able to win me over.  On the other hand, I love Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, and his involvement in Man of Steel is encouraging.  In the latest trailer, I think you can see the influence of both directors, which is curious.  Snyder is pretty good at handling special effects and I love the look of Krypton and all the associated technology.  Maybe the movie will work if Snyder has focussed on the technical side and allowed himself to be steered by Nolan a little.

After all, the movie has a fantastic cast.  Henry Cavill seems to be a good choice for the lead role.  Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Amy Adams and Michael Shannon make for magnificent support.

I am a little upset that they chose to make General Zod the main bad guy over Brainiac.  I fucking love Brainiac.  Michael Shannon is a great character actor, but even he will have a little difficulty following in Terrence Stamp’s footsteps.

Apparently there’s no Kryptonite in the movie, which I’m okay with.  As a plot device it does end up taking over sometimes, as it did in Superman Returns.  Ugh, Superman Returns.

Talking of plot, it looks like they have taken a few tips from the old Incredible Hulk TV show.  I’m not sure how I feel about a tortured Clark Kent bumming about the United States trying to find himself.  Call me old-fashioned, but I like Clark Kent the journalist.  And I mean when he was a proper journalist.  Not a blogger.  Anyone can be a damn blogger.  This post is testament to that sad fact.

And why do all movie superheroes have costumes that look like they have been made from stitched-together basketballs?  I know the Christopher Reeve Superman costume is sort of goofy by today’s standards, but it was more Supermanery somehow.  God, I sound old.

Recent vinyl purchases, Thursday 11 April 2013 (Part 2)

Posted in Music on April 11, 2013 by thebigsmoke

The spending spree continues.  This one is great, though: the ‘Poney EP’ by Vitalic.  I discovered this EP through DJ Speedy’s video mixes.  I’m posting the best two tracks, and the first one even has its own official video.  Enjoy!

Vitalic: Poney Part 1

Vitalic: You Prefer Cocaine

Recent vinyl purchases, Thursday 11 April 2013 (Part 1)

Posted in Film, Music on April 11, 2013 by thebigsmoke

Now I know that based on my recent posts I am going to look like I do nothing but buy vinyl, but there have been a few things which have caught my attention recently.

First up is this track by Kavinsky:

Kavinsky: Nightcall (feat. Lovefoxxx)

I already own some other Kavinsky stuff, but this one you may have heard in Nicolas Winding Refn’s brilliant Drive.  Why didn’t I ever post a review of that one?  I don’t know.  I’m an idiot.  Anyway, great movie and I’m a big fan of his soundtrack choices.  The Drive soundtrack is especially good and features some great music, but I also love Glass Candy’s ‘Digital Versicolor’, which was used in Bronson:

Glass Candy: Digital Versicolor

Glass Candy and Kavinsky are both worth checking out.

But wait, that’s not all.  I have also purchased a copy of this drum ‘n’ bass track, which is something completely different:

Original Sin: Therapy (Remix)

I’m not sure which is the best mix of this track, but whatever.  I have purchased this one, which is the musical equivalent of falling through a cloud of feathers and landing in a washing machine filled with rocks.  Or something.

Recent vinyl purchases, Wednesday 10 April 2013

Posted in Music on April 10, 2013 by thebigsmoke

DJ Excel: Just When You Thought It Was Safe

Keeping it old skool.  I had to get this one, recently repressed by 7th Storey Projects in conjunction with Ninety Two Retro (well done, guys).  It’s a gimmicky, sample-heavy track and definitely not for everyone, but the original pressing is highly sought after by collectors and a personal favourite of mine (I already own a copy of the original white label for which I paid a lot of money).  The repress comes with some modern remixes which I’m not so sure about; they lack the crude charm of the older mix in my humble opinion.

Recent vinyl purchases, Monday 8 April 2013

Posted in Music on April 8, 2013 by thebigsmoke

My most recent purchase is an obscure piece of old skool hardcore by DJ KP.  Never heard of him?  You’re in the majority, but I’ve been after his second EP for a long time.  I paid £10 for my copy and was very, very happy with that purchase.  All three tracks on the EP are featured on an awesome mix by Jody Sublove, called ‘Intelligent Breakbeat Techno’. I managed to find it on Soundcloud.com for you, posted by some random guy:

I love this mix and used to listen to it continuously on the way back and forth from work.  I wish I could post up all the DJ KP tracks in their entirety, but they’re not all on YouTube and I’m took lazy to rip them.  You’ll have to settle for this one, which is probably my favourite anyway:

DJ KP: Off The Ground

If you’re wondering why it’s not credited to DJ KP on YouTube, it’s because the track was credited to Dance Ritual on some compilations.

If you don’t like this type of dance music, it’s because you suck.  Not really.  Everyone’s entitled to their own tastes.  Except you.  Just kidding (I’m not).

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