A blog about my favourite movies, music, and TV.

28 March 2009

Kirsty MacColl - Walking Down Madison (1991)

I've been wearing out my 12" single of this gem all week. I love it when random British singers embraced more contemporary sounds to attract the 'yoof' - and this is one of the finest examples, perhaps only second to Sinead O'Connor's single with MC Lyte. Kirsty looked great in this video, I particularly like her orange sweater. The track is taken from her Top 20 album Electric Landlady, which sadly doesn't have any other songs like Walking Down Madison on it. The single made #23 in May 1991 and was her final hit single. It even sparked a little interest Stateside where it did well on rock radio stations.

"It was quite an observational song, I really did see a beaming boy from Harlem, even if it wasn't on Madison. It's a nod to Bob Marley, it's I shot the sheriff, really isn't it! That idea of being pulled for something you may or may not have done, and that you're more likely to get pulled if you look a certain way." (Taken from an interview in the Guardian: 1991)

26 March 2009

The Handmaid's Tale (1990)

I'd been put off watching this one as I'd heard that it was pretty bad, but somehow the idea of one woman's struggle against a futuristic fascist neo-Con regime was ultimately too hard to resist. The late Natasha Richardson stars as Offred, a woman conscripted to be a surrogate mother to the wealthy and powerful as the majority of women (an men) have been sterilised due to nuclear fallout. Faye Dunaway stars as Serena Joy, the tortured baron wife of The Commander (Robert Duval).

Futuristic societies are notoriously difficult to pull off on a low budget, it's obvious that the people behind The Handmaid's Tale really tried hard, but it would probably have been better to downplay that part of the story in my opinion. Effects and sets aside, this is movie plays with a lot of interesting concepts about gender and society, and in many ways has a lot of cultural resonance with our society such as the way women are subjogated, objectified and even commodified, as well as the New Right's obsession with providing justification for their actions by making reference to the Bible.

What I thought was quite appealing about this movie was how extremely camp it was at times, the scenes at the Handmaid's school and those ridiculous sex scenes involving the three leads! What was so interesting was how this campiness was occasionally mixed in to create some very sinister and violent scenes, which were quite unsettling, particular one scene involving a very over the top hanging ceremony. Considering the people involved in this movie, it was adapted by British play write Harold Pinter, from Margaret Atwood's novel, the crudity and overtly labored points are, I think, an attempt to be ironic and a bit of a piss take of the kind of tactics characters like The Commander might have used to create his new world order. It's a great idea, but the aforementioned budgetary restricitions might lead one to think that it was just rushed!

The acting is rather good too, Faye Dunaway had stopped channelling Mommie Dearest by this point and she puts in a great performance. Her character was a former celebrity and I couldn't help but burst out laughing when she's watching a video of herself singing Amazing Grace, wistfully! She looks brilliant too, so regal, she always plays devious bitches so well. Natasha Richardson is good too, she obviously understood her role and her almost bland portrayal of the Handmaid is very well done, in fact everyone is good. I thought Elizabeth McGovern did a particularly great job as a fellow inmate at the Handmaid's School. All in all this well worth a watch, particularly if you are interested in gender and political issues. I found it 'On Demand' on cable, but it's also on DVD.

Lita Ford

Lita was a guitarist with girl group The Runaways before starting a solo career in the mid-80's, while ever popular with metal fans and teenage boys, Lita didn't have any big hits in the UK, nevertheless her some of her fabulous singles are well worth a look.

Of particular interest are her popier singles like Kiss Me Deadly, Shot Of Poison, and Playing With Fire, the latter two from her album Dangerous Curves which I am enjoying at the moment. As well as being pretty hot, Lita's rough vocals work perfectly with thw trashy rock of Kiss Me Deadly, her crossover hit in the US, which was from the Mike Chapman produced LP 'Lita', which while a bit slow for my tastes (let's not even go into that duet with Ozzy Osbourne, Sharon was her manager!), has a few decent songs. Stilletto followed in 1990 and the singles Hungry and Lisa (which while not as pop as the one's I picked out, are still pretty decent).

Dangerous Curves is pretty fab, the original version of Shot Of Poison reminds me of Heart and Playing With Fire packs a punch without being deafening. The album is pretty solid overall and has some great rock out moments, although sometimes Lita's voice stuggles a bit, her guitar action and killer bangs never let up she can be forgiven. Lita took many years out but is planning a massive tour and a new CD very soon, she currently lives on an island with her husband and kids, no doubt looking amazing and belting out her hits to the natives as I type.

20 March 2009

Pia Zadora – Let's Dance Tonight (1985)

Pia’s good name is now synonymous with some of the crappest films of all time, and her stellar music ‘career’ has been to consigned to somewhere behind the u-bend of 80’s pop history. I feel it’s time Tat Parade paid homage to one of the 80’s greatest icons of bad taste, the great Mrs Pia Zadora.

Pia had been releasing records intermittently since the late 70’s via her deal with Curb Records, in the 60’s she’d even released a few 7-inchers as Little Pia! But by 1983 she’d already had a minor US hit with I’m In Love Again, a ballad from her self-titled debut LP, Pia, which was released in 1982 to little fanfare.

1984 would prove to be Pia’s year in Europe thanks to the tie-in movie and soundtrack to Voyage of the Rock Aliens, a new wave/pop musical comedy in which Pia played a young girl (ha!) who falls in love with an alien. The movie featured several lengthy musical numbers, not least a completely unrelated performance of the song When The Rain Begins To Fall with Jermaine Jackson, which she then sings again, minus the face paint and dodgy wig with someone else at the end of this trash-fest. This is the kind of mind-boggling silliness that makes Voyage such a gem. Other highlights from the movie include You Bring Out The Lover In Me, A Little Bit Of Heaven, Real Love, and Lets Dance Tonight – the latter three were all Top 20 hits in various European countries.

Never one to miss an opportunity to cash in, it was decided that Pia should put out her own album in addition to the soundtrack, and thus the magnum-opus of Pia’s dazzling catalogue was born! Let's Dance Tonight – The Album! Yes, fans across mainland Europe could enjoy all the hits from Voyage and a few other gems, thrown, I mean, put together... by producer Jack White. The similarly bouncy Substitute, and Follow My Heartbeat were thrown in for good measure! Not to mention her GRAMMY nominated rock anthem Rock It Out – which had a video set in a women’s prison! Pia actually had some success with this record, although quite how much is unclear, it was even released on CD! Also included is Pia's US Top 40 hit - The Clapping Song! Pia could even give today's trash bag wannabes a run for their money with this slutty interpretation, the video only adds to the sleaze factor!

The major success of this year was of course the title track which was a phenomenal hit across Europe. Pia’s best Barbara Streisand impersonation blended perfectly with Jermaine’s soulful delivery and the squelchy synthesised backing track. The duo performed the track together on many TV shows and one can only dream that somewhere in the vaults of Curb Records there might be a collection of duets that could’ve rivalled Marvin and Diana! The video is a kitsch classic that really deserved more of a chance in the UK and US where this single flopped. In it Pia is a white-leather clad biker chick who falls in love with Jermaine (whose black, get it!), he’s then chased by her boyfriend and his gang of bikers – who of course have white motor bikes, to really emphasise what Pia and Jermaine were trying to do – this was the mid-80’s remember!

If you like the single, you’ll like the album, because it’s all very similar, over sung 80’s Euro-pop courtesy of the fabulous all-singing, all-dancing, always publicity mad, queen of bad movies, Pia! Who takes you on an exploration of one of music’s most fun and energetic eras – the mid-80’s...

15 March 2009

Falcon Crest on DVD!

Dynasty seasons 1 and 2 debuted on DVD last week in the UK. May 2009 will see the very first release of Falcon Crest in the world when Season 1 is released on DVD in Germany! In these early episodes we are introduced the the Channings and the Gioberti's - two sides to a family with their roots firmly in the wine making industry. Mighty matriarch, Angela Channing (Oscar winning actress Jane Wyman) finds her empire in jeopardy when her brother is killed in a tragic accident, and his estranged son Chase and his family come to the Tuscany Valley to pay their respects and collect their inheritance. 9 whole seasons of schemes, swindles, murders, Nazi plots, incarcerations, shoulderpads, and bucket loads of fine wine and fine episodes finally came to an end in 1990 after an ill-advised revamp, clipped Falcon Crest's wings for the final time.

Kelly Llorenna - Dress You Up

Queen of Clubland - Kelly Llorenna, is back on the pop scene with her new single, Dress You Up. The single is a cover of Madonna's 1985 hit single. Kelly takes the 80's gem and gives it a polished makeover embellished with a hard europop beat and her usual gutsy delivery. The remixes vary in quality with the Radio Edit and Extended Mix being the major players, the rest are really quite sub par. It's a real shame as this could've had a wonderful set of mixes, if only AATW Records would shell out for them!

The video is quite lovely and Kelly looks absolutely stunning as she shows off a variety of outfits, I'm so glad she didn't dance this time too, and where do I get one of those 'KL' bags! I really hope this does well as Kelly has really struggled to find a fan base in recent years, her lowest point being I Will Love Again, her 2006 single bombing on the charts, crashing and burning at #114! Ouch! Tat Parade is firmly behind Kelly's comeback! Bring on that second album...