Friday, August 25, 2006

Beatles records

I took a look at The Beatles record sales on wikipedia the other day. The records that they hold really is quite phenomenal. This is just a selection of some of the chart records that are currently held by the Beatles (there are many, many more):

- Most no. 1 albums in the British albums charts (15 no. 1s).
- Group with most no. 1 hits in the British singles chart (17 no. 1 hits).
- Group with most weeks in the British singles chart (456 weeks).
- Group with most weeks at no. 1 in the British singles chart (69 weeks).
- Group with most top 10 hits in the British singles chart (28 top 10 hits).
- Most weeks at no. 1 in the British albums chart (174 weeks at no. 1).
- Most consecutive weeks spent at no. 1 in the UK albums chart (51 weeks from May 11, 1963 to May 2, 1964 – this excludes soundtrack albums).
- Most consecutive no. 1 hits in the British singles chart (11 consecutive no. 1 hits, excludes re-issues of old singles).
- Most consecutive top 5 hits in the British singles chart (22 consecutive top 5 hits from 1963 to 1970).
- Most complete ever domination of the British charts by occupying the first two positions in the singles chart and the albums chart as well as the top 3 positions in the EP chart (Extended Play) from December 12 to December 26, 1963.
- Most weeks at no. 1 in the British albums chart within a calendar year (40 weeks at no. 1, 1964).
- Most no. 1 albums in the British albums chart within a calendar year (3 no. 1 albums, 1965).
- Most simultaneous weeks at no. 1 in the British singles and albums chart (45 weeks).
The Beatles’ Please Please Me album spent more weeks at no. 1 in the British album charts than any other album by a group (30 weeks at no. 1, this excludes albums by duos and soundtracks).


I’m beginning to think that I must have been born in the wrong decade for my music tastes. As well as currently listening to the Beatles on my ipod, I’m also currently listening to Albums by, Blondie, ELO, John Lennon, The Supremes, Simon and Garfunkle and Derek and the Dominos!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sept 14th and 3 extremes

It looks likely now that the release date, pricing and all the other Wii secrets are likely to be revealed on the 14th September. On this date, Nintendo are holding a press conference in the US. This is all fine and good, but that’s 3 damn weeks away!

I’ve pretty much given up hope that they will release the Wii prior to my birthday (November 7), I’m just hoping and praying that it’s still before Christmas (which it still looks likely to be). Otherwise, I might have to rethink my PS3 purchase plans.

Films watched:

Three Extremes

This is a collection of 3 short horror/thriller films by 3 leading Asian directors (from Japan, Korea and Hong Kong). I got this mainly because of Park Chan-wook’s involvement (Cut), but was also interested in seeing the other segments.

As its 3 short films, I’ll give a mini review for each:

By far the most disturbing of the 3 films, this tells the story of a woman trying to recapture her youth by eating dumplings with rather suspicious ingredients. I daren’t go any further without offending people.
Quite slow, but very gripping.

The most simplistic of the 3 stories and also the bloodiest. It tells a simple hostage story, that of a film extra taking revenge on a director.
Both oddly comic and gruesome at the same time, this section is only let down by an ending which doesn’t really seem convincing enough.

The Box
By far the creepiest of the 3 films and also the most visually striking.. Surprisingly the dialogue for this segment is kept to a minimal, there are several minute where nothing is said at all. At times, slightly unnerving in a “Ringu” like way, but severally let down by a story which make little to no sense.
The ending explains to a degree why it makes no sense, but this doesn’t add much weight to what has gone before.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

What a disappointment & FBI files

So Leipzig has come and passed…

Release date and price of the Wii???? Move along… nothing to see here.

Okay, so Nintendo never stated for certain that this would be revealed there, but it was hinted and the press conference of “Wii prove our promises” also kind of indicated.

So what was revealed?

Not a lot, or at least not much that hasn’t be announced previously. 2 new games for the Wii, sequels to Mario Smash Football and Batallion Wars (neither of which I own – although I have been tempted by both in the past).

On another note, I’ve recently watched the trailer for The Black Dahlia, which looks extremely promising and is based on a real life grizzly murder which was never solved. Whilst browsing the net, I stumbled upon the FBI website, which actually holds all the original files on the case. Fascinating stuff.

Can be found here…

Looking further on the site also shows that the FBI have files on Marilyn Monroe and John Lennon!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Bed jump, game defeat and SNAKES

Had a dream the other night that someone had stolen something from me (can’t remember what) and I was in hot pursuit, running after the perpetrator. Although I was running after them our speed was perfectly matched and as such, I was neither catching up or loosing ground. However, I knew that I had it within me to give me an extra burst of speed, but something was holding me back. As I was desperate to retrieve my stolen item, I decided to break through this barrier and access this untapped speed and shot forward after the thief.

At this point I woke up as my face smashed into my bedside table after flinging myself out of bed in my sleep. I lay on the floor for a while, nursing my throbbing head while Roz got out of bed to see what the hell had happened.

The moral of this story? Be careful what you do in your dreams…

Films watched:
Snakes on a Plane

Does exactly like it says on the tin… Then again, maybe it should have been called “Samuel L Jackson vs Snakes on a Plane”.

This is B movie greatness at it’s best. A film which clearly isn’t a spoof, but at the same time, doesn’t take itself too seriously. Just a damn fun movie, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.

What did surprise me was how gory it was. Think of just about any body part you can imagine (and I’m talking about ANY body part), well the snakes took a big damn bite out of everything in a very graphic manner. You really could not help but wince at times.

You can just see the sequel possibilities… Spiders on a Train?


Games played:
Okay I’ll admit it, I’m positively stuck on 2 games that I’m playing at the moment. The first of which is Advance Wars DS, which I’m replaying on hard campaign mode. I’m on the penultimate mission, which I’ve tried from the start at least a dozen times from the start with no success. I think that if I had stronger sea based CO’s I’d probably stand a better chance, but I’ve never relied upon sea based military units and this seems to be my downfall on this mission.

The other game is a tad more embarrassing. Roz bought Elliot a second hand copy of Finding Nemo for the PS2 and I’ve been playing through this with him. The only problem is, it’s so damn hard! This is a game for 3 years + and it has completely and utterly defeated me. I’m just so damn fed up with it… I’ve tried and I’ve tried but I’m incapable of following Bruce the shark through an underwater mine field!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Wii, PS3 & Nightwatch

The rumours on the internet seem to suggest that the release date for the Wii is imminent. This is likely to coincide with the speech that Nintendo are due to give at Leipzig on the 23 August. I’m just praying that there is no delay and that the European release is set for sometime before Christmas 2006. Ideally I’d prefer for it to launch before November 7, for 2 very good reasons. 1: My birthday is November the 7 and 2: This would give it a head start over the PS3 which is due to be release on November 17.

I also hope that Nintendo reveal the final details about the Wii shortly such as:

- The release games
- Further details about the virtual console
- A better idea of how wiiconnect24 will operate
- The console price (£150.00 seems like a reasonable amount to me)
- Game pricing (hopefully to undercut PS3 and Xbox360 pricing)
- The final specs of the machine and also the Wiimote
- Any further surprises about the Wii that they have yet to announce.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned before, but I’ve decided not to get a PS3 for launch. This is of course dependant on the Wii being release pre-Christmas 2006, otherwise I’d likely get a PS3. My reasoning for this decision being:

- They’re damn expensive… I’m on a budget you know!
- No release games look that spectacular. There are a few games coming to the PS3 that I do want, but these will be coming out at a much later date (2007 possibly)
- I’d likely mainly use it to play PS2 games at the moment (upscaled to HD maybe, but still a little pointless)
- There are so many damn good looking Wii games coming out around the launch date that I’d have very little time to have a look at the PS3 (Metroid and Zelda alone will take up a huge chunk of my time)
- Most next-generation console launches (with the exception on Nintendo consoles) are plagued with teething problems. Just look at all the complaints and bugs that were reported on the internet on the launch of the Xbox360! It was very much the same story when the PS2 was launched. As such, it’s actually beneficial to wait a bit until these manufacturing bugs are ironed out.
- Although I’m very interested in HD movies, I’m not convinced that Bluray will win against HD-DVD in the new format war. As such, I’m interested to see how this pans out before I start purchasing HD movies

Films watched:

Why is it that some of the best films these days are Foreign language films? Is this an indication that the Hollywood machine is running out of steam? Anyway…

This is a Russian film which was release a couple of years ago and has just recently made its way onto DVD (it’s sequel Daywatch, the second in the trilogy, has already been release in Russian). This film can be best described as Highlander meets Blade, with a dash of The Matrix for flavour.

It’s basically the story of a race of superhumans called “others” who live alongside humans, yet hidden. These “others” choose to be either dark (evil) or light (good), although it is not so black and white as this, with the dark others being reminiscent to vampires. There is a truce between the light and dark which is policed by both sides, the Nightwatch and the Daywatch and the story starts when this truce is broken.

Visually this film is generally stunning with only a few moments which reveal its lower budget restrictions. The epic nature of the film and its style cannot be faulted, my only real problem is that you can tell that this is only part of a greater story and as such, many characters and aspects of the film are not explained or explored as much as I would have liked. Then again, that just makes me look forward to the sequel more!


Only a few more days now until Snakes on a Plane

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Nikki's back, Cabins and Wars

Nikki's back in the BB house.... Let me repeat myself Nikki is BACK!

Only one more week of this madness to go!

Films watched:
Cabin Fever

From the Director of Hostel I was expecting this to be a gory blood bath of a film... and I was right. This is by no means a bad thing. Hostel never took itself too seriously and the same can be said for Cabin Fever.

This is how gory horrors should be made.

Hostel had me wincing during the "eye" scene, this had me wincing again during the "shaving" scene. I'm sure if you've seen these films you'll know what I'm talking about.


Games played:
Advance Wars DS

Picked this up again the other day - gave hardly put it down since.

Very probably the best game out on the DS, but then again, I really do love turn based strategy games (i.e Final Fantasy Tactics and Disgaea).

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Beatles review

In the last year or so I’ve been getting into the Beatles, this got more a little fanatic when I purchased my ipod and started getting all the Beatles Album to fill it up. Now, it quite rare that I listen to anything other than the Beatles on my ipod. It’s probably roughly 85% Beatles and 15% random shuffle (which more often than not, also includes the Beatles). As such, and especially in light of the fact that I’ve recently watch the Anthology documentary (a great, if slightly biased documentary), I thought I’d put down a few of my thoughts on paper – or well, in blog format anyway.

From my experience of the Beatles and from watching the Anthology series, the music and image of the Beatles roughly falls into 2 categories, that of early sixties and late sixties. Each of there periods is typified by the following:

Early sixties (a.k.a.) Beatlemania
Signature Merseybeat sound (i.e. two lead guitars, bass guitar and drums)
Images of screaming female fans fainting
Traditional Beatles image of smart suits and mop-top
Early Beatles films (i.e Hard Days Night and Help)
Endless tours across the world
English music breakthrough in the US

Late sixties
Psychedelic influences, including drug culture
Indian meditation and Sitar influences
Studio Albums
Experimental and maturing music (sound loops, backwards tracks, ambient sounds)
Range of instrument used (i.e. Piano, orchestral, electrical)
A sense of greater individuality between the songs written by each of the Beatles.

I personally tend to prefer the Beatles later work, mainly from Rubber Soul onwards. Although their earlier songs were certainly both catchy and popular, there is little variety. It’s from Rubber Soul onwards that the real genius begins to come to light.

Recently Mojo magazine asked top musicians of today (including U2, Oasis, Chili Peppers, Gnarls Barkley amongst others) what there favourite Beatles songs were, as a result, they compile the 101 greatest Beatles songs. The top 10 were:

1. A Day in the Life
2. Strawberry Fields Forever
3. Yesterday
4. Tomorrow Never Knows
5. She Loves You
6. In My Life
7. Something
8. Happiness is a Warm Gun
9. Penny Lane
10. A Hard Day's Night

As such, I thought I’d try to compile my own favourite 10 Beatles songs. In the end I found it impossible to order them from 1 to 10, as my favourite tends to change all the time, as such, here are my top 10 in no particular order:

Yesterday - Help
McCartney woke up one morning with this song in his head. For quite some time he thought that he’d heard it somewhere before, but after speaking to the rest of the Beatles amongst others, he came to realise that it was something that he’d come up with in his sleep. A perfect, pure and simple song and also to most covered song of all time (fact).

A Day in the Life – Sg Peppers Lonely Hearts Club
The Beatles Epic – for many the highlight of their creative career.
Lennon and McCartney display in this song why the Lennon/McCartney song writing duo is considered so highly. A wonderful blend of styles and lyrics with a truly epic finale.

While my Guitar Gently Weeps – The Beatles White Album
Harrison (with the help of Eric Clapton) really at his very best. Both beautiful, stirring and inspirational. A gem.

Let it be – Single / Let it be

A very touching song written by McCartney about a dream he had of his dead mother. Some have also interpreted this song as a Christian metaphor (Mary – McCartney’s mother representing the Virgin Mary), but this has always been denied by McCartney.
Quite probably the most well known and popular Beatles single and rightfully so.

Hey Jude – Single / Let it be
Written by McCartney for Julian Lennon (Jules became Jude) to comfort him during his parents divorce. A very heartfelt and touching song and who can forget the almost endless na na na’s!

Strawberry Fields Forever – Magical Mystery Tour
Haunting, memorable, beautiful, exquisite. No need to say more really!

Across the Universe – Single / Let it be
Lennon was never truly satisfied with this song, although it was one of his favourites. I wonder what he’d think of the Let it be – Naked version? This song is encapsulated by the lyrics “nothings going to change my world”. A pre-Imagine song from Lennon about peace and tranquillity.
This more than any other is more often at the very top of the heap of my favourite Beatles songs.

All You Need is Love - Single
McCartney once said that on retrospective, as he looks back over the years that The Beatles were together, he’s pleased that the vast majority of the songs written were about love and peace.
This song, more than any other, fully captures that essence of The Beatles.

Something – Abbey Road
Quite possibly one of the most romantic songs ever written and also one of Harrison’s finest songs.

Abbey Road Medley – Abbey Road
Okay, I cheated. This isn’t a single song, but a group of songs synched together starting with You Never Give Me Your Money and ending with (fittingly) The End on side B of Abbey Road. All the same, this is a masterful blend of songs that really need to be listen to as a whole to be enjoyed. A superb way for The Beatles legacy to come to an end,.

Songs that very nearly made it in my top 10:

I am the Walrus
Here Comes the Sun
Eleanor Rigby
Penny Lane
Helter Skelter
Fool on the Hill
I’m only Sleeping
Real Love
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

Favourite Albums (in order)

Abbey Road
The Beatles – White Album
Sg Peppers Lonely Hearts Club
Rubber Soul

To summarise:

There’s a damn good reason why the Beatles are the most successful group of all time… They really were something special. Four very talented individuals who worked just so damn well together. They helped define an era and also expand the possibilities of popular music. They introduced music video’s, experimental sounds and put Britain firmly on the musical map.

If you haven't properly listened to the Beatles for a while, or have merely discounted them as something from before your time, I would strongly suggest that you give them another try.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

London trip

Whilst waiting in at the departure gate at Gatwick airport I started to get a pounding headache, by the time I got back to Guernsey this was so bad that I was barely able to keep my eyes open. The last few days I have continued to have headaches to a lesser degree complimented by a temperature and a general feeling of crapness.

Just glad that I was feeling fit for London.

It was a little strange being back in London after my previous trip (which coincided with 7/7). Certain locations hold very strong memories of that day and it was unusual returning back, although it good to see London back to normal.

Anyway, London film review time.

Films watched:

I must admit I had my doubts. So far Pixar have been incapable of making a bad film, even their worst (A Bugs Life) was still very entertaining, but the trailers for Cars haven’t been that inspiring. I was pleasantly surprised then that Cars retains the Pixar magic.

Whilst not as good as the likes of Nemo and Toy Story, this is still very entertaining with likeable characters and a good story. Overall a pleasant surprise.


Superman Returns

Very much in the spirit of the initial two Superman films, which in my book is a very good thing, as these are amongst the finest examples of Superhero movies.

The story centres on the fact that Superman has been away for roughly five years and as such the world has adjusted to life without him (Lois especially). I had my doubts about this film primarily because I didn’t think that Christopher Reeves would be easy to replace in the role, it was therefore pleasing to see that Brandon Routh does a very fine job as Superman. Kevin Spacey is also, as expected, absolutely great as Lex Luther.

It’s a shame that this film hasn’t been as successful as the studio had hoped, but the fact that a sequel has already been green lit I a good thing.


Pirates of the Caribbean : Dead Man’s Chest

This reminded me very much of Matrix Revolution, i.e. a totally pointless sequel. This effectively had no plot just a set number of situations, most of which were totally uninspiring and seemed to be just set up to put the main character (but mainly Jack Sparrow) in amusing situations.

A very big disappointment.


Miami Vice

Another disappointment.

I guess that I was hoping that this would be as good as heat (same director), but this was probably hoping for a little too much. Much of the film is really little more than an excuse to make Crocket and Tubbs (and Miami) look as cool as possible, at no stage did you learn much about any of the characters and as such you felt very little for them.

If you like seeing fast cars and fast boats and don’t mind a lack of characterization and plot, then this film is for you.