Saturday, February 23, 2008

30 Days of Night: Inside the Creative Mind of Steve Niles

By now most of you will have either read Steve Niles' graphic horror novels '30 Days of Night' or you may have seen the big budget vampire horror film adaptation of the same name. Either way, the fact remains, Niles has put a new spin on the vampire movie genre. And it's about time!

All is not what it seems when it comes to the film adaptation. Bizarrely, like any big film studio, sometimes the original graphic novel storyline doesn't make it in full to the final big screen adaptation.

Before the movie came out in the UK last November, I wasn't aware of who Steve Niles was or his 30 Days of Night graphic novels. Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, Spiderman) spent several years trying to get 30 Days greenlighted into a big budget vampire horror flick, but it wasn't until he had success with the Spiderman movies, when 30 Days finally made the jump from a jumped up comic book to a big budget horror movie (with a twist).

I got into the 30 Days experience the other way around, whereby I saw the movie first, before I read the first 30 Days graphic novel. The movie was intriguing, but I was convinced the Hollywood studio diluted Niles' original vision that he shared in his first 30 Days graphic novel. I decided to get my hands on a copy of the first book which featured fantastic, if not, disturbing illustrations by Perth-based graphic illustrator, Ben Templesmith.

The novel knocked me for six. It was both intelligent, very direct, imaginative, haunting and psychologically disturbiing (but in a good rock'n'roll kind of way). Once I read the book and digested Templesmith's eye candy, everything fell into place.

I then realised that there were several subplots within the first novel that never made it to the movie adaptation. Strage because it was Niles who ended up writing the screenplay for the movie. After I read the first book, I got the impression that Niles had to compromise about what he could include in the movie and what he could not.

What is missinig from the movie is the back story about Judith the vampire hunter who is based in New Orleans. She knows that vampires from around the world are communicating with each other over the Internet, to all meet up somewhere on the planet to participate in a massive feeding frenzy. Judith almost pieces the clues together and thinks the Vampires will be meeting up in her native New Orleans, but inevitably she is duped, and the Vampires end up targeting a small town in the Northern most part of Alaska (Barrrow).

Every December, the town of Barrow doesn't get sunlight for a month. The Vampires do their homework and that's where they converge for the feed. But once it happens, it's too late for Judith to stop it. The Vampires have tricked her and they work the con to their advantage. But in the movie, you have no idea who the Vampires are or where they come from. The studio thought it would be too complicated to include the back story about Judith the vampire hunter.

Interestingly, I have just discovered that the UK distributor for the DVD release of 30 Days of Night, Icon Home Entertainment, are planning on releasing the movie as a 2-Disc Special Edition DVD, and it will also be released on Blu-ray (apparently HD DVD is R.I.P.).

But that's not all. In America last year a couple of US horror movie websites were streaming "30 Days of Night: Blood Trails" - seven episodes of live action film sequences that tell the back story of Judith the vampire hunter. Icon Home Entertainment will be releasing Blood Trails in the UK as a separate DVD for £4.99 ($10.00 US dollars), and this will be sold alongside the DVD and Blu-Ray release of the 30 Days of Night movie. Release date in the UK is Monday 14th April

But getting back to Steve Niles. Currently in the US, he is experiencing even more success wiith his current graphic novel series "Simon Dark". This is a compelling story about a teenage Frankenstein type loner who is comprised of numerous body parts. He can't remember his name or who his parents are.

But here's the catch - he lives in Gotham City. Simon Dark is the first officially commissioned Gotham City character that has been given his own graphicn novel series who isn't Batman or Robin. This could be the start of a new spin-off trend, and if anyone can make it convincing, it's probably Steve Niles

UK DVD Press Release of 30 Days DVD and Blood Trails -

The Official Steve Niles Website -

The Official Ben Templesmith Website -

One more note to add - Danny Huston is outstanding as the sinister lead vampire 'Marlow'. If you loved John Carpenter's The Thing and the innovative vampire flick 'Near Dark', then '30 Days of Night' will be right up your street.

'30 Days of Night' will literally take your head off.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Did you say the Hammy Awards or the Grammy Awards?

What can I possibly say except for the fact that if you like your awards ceremonies in the grand old tradition of American cheese, then this year's Grammy Awards was just the ticket.

In short, the show was cheap looking, tacky, corny, predictable and anything but spontaneous. I wish I could say one good thing about it, but when the highlight is a tribute to the cornerstones of rock and roll fifties style (Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis), you kind of have to ask yourself what the hell is happening "musically" in 2008.

No offence to the duet with Beyonce and Tina Turner, but the latter looked like a baked potato squeezed into a casket of bacofoil. With Tina, some things are best left alone.

And then there was Feist, probably the most irritating new female vocalist of the year. If I was a serial killer, I would have probably been the first one to walk into the Staples Centre in LA to make an attempt to shoot her.

Roll up to Kayne West, possibly the most self-obsessed hip-hop star of the moment. The only cool thing about his Graduation album is that he had the savvy to sample Daft Punk. Other than that, he's like a self-inludgent ass who makes Puff Daddy seem like the Sally Field in the Flying Nun.

His acceptance speech went on to long to the point where the hall tried drowning him out with pre-recorded music. He immediately told the hall to cut the music so he could finish his all -important speech about hip-hop not being dead (when we all know it should have died around 4 years ago).

For the current rock elite, the Foo Fighters won an award. Lots of screaming and shouting and average songs that make we shrug my shoulders and say "If the original drummer from Nirvana wasn't fronting the band, nobody would be listening."

FF are not great. In fact, I see them as some kind of convenient excuse to upold the legitimacy of rock and roll. Only problem is that Foo Fighters are a god awful rock band with no redeeming qualities. Dave isn't sexy and the music is grating, although the band seem to think they are the true masters of irony.

So, with the exception of thunder thighs Kerri Underwood (former blah blah American Idol country and western muppet), there was no Britney or Christina this year. Although there was Rhianna, dressed in a candy wrapper, and singing out of tune.

The real highlights of the evening were some of the co-presenters who didn't get to perform, particularly the great Carole King. The amazing Cindy Lauper also presented an award, but sadly, she didn't get to sing a number.

Alicia Keys started the show off by singing a duet with Frank Sinatra, and she also went on to win an award for mundane piece of drivel that reared it's ugly head in the R&B charts. Keys comes on high and mighty, but she isn't the star she probably thinks she is.

Also when one of the other highlights includes Kid Rock presenting an award, you now the show is lacking some serious shit.

Out rolled Andy Williams and Tony Bennet from the retirement home, to present a few awards. To make them look good, they were accompanied by Nelly "fake-hop" Furtado (she's the only woman I know who makes Canadians feel embarassed to be Canadian) and that sexy Spanish chick from Without A Trace who sounds sexy but I never understand what the hell she is saying).

The highlight of the night probably had to be non-other than the wicked witch of the west, Amy Winehouse. Live from satellite to the Riverside Studios in London's Hammersmith. Amy sang "Rehab" and came across as a psychotic putz. She went on to win 5 of the six nominated awards she was up for.

Inarticulate, awkward and unnerving to watch, Winehouse, is not only unstable but she's also unbearable. Another blog I read recently said "Somebody give the girl a ham sandwich!" I couldn't agree more. During her acceptance speech, Amy screamed, "Camden Town is burning down." Hail, hail, the witch is dead (or melting).

Other cringe-worthy highlights of the night included Black Eyed Peas' Fergie trying to be Sade while accompanied by no-name John Legend on piano. Kind of gave a new meaning to the word "bland".

Rip-off of the evening, Burt Bacharach and Doris Day both won Lifetime Achievement Awards but weren't at the awards to make a speech.

Question: Is Doris Day still alive?

Herbie Hancock won for 'River: The Joni Letters', which made for a refreshing change from a hip hop album winning the award. I love Herbie. I am curiouis to hear the album. His acceptance speech probably represented the penultimate Grammy Award snapshot moment. Anyone who thanks John Coltrane and Miles Davis in his acceptance speech, must be cool.

No Justin. No Michael Jackson. No Moonwalking.

Wake up Los Angeles. The Grammy Awards needs a serious facelift (and I ain't talkin' plastic).

Polysics - Japanese Moonage Daydream

Don't ask me how I ended up on the Polysics MySpace page, it happened by accident.

Whilst trying my best to avoid the latest Natasha Beddingfold video, I crashed into what I can only describe as a zany post-modern homage to a Japanese pop band who are a cross between The Jetsons and DEVO. They make Daft Punk seem boring.

Their video for 'Electric Surfin Go Go' is hilarious, if not super-charged, cartoon-like and very entertaining. Like a breath of fresh air, and a much-needed alternative from all the indie rock rubbish that is currently being force fed down our throats by record companies who lack a sense of imagination and vision.

Well, if you want vision, then Japan's 'Polysics' (sic name for a band), is your secret gateway into something new, fun and exciting. Check out the video for 'Electric Surfin Go Go' -

If you want to see if the band can cut it live, then check out 'New Wave Jacket' -

What really sums of the genius of Polysics is their ultra cool and deadpan futuristic pisstake video of tacky hip off body-popping dance moves. One member of the band impersonates Michael Jackson's moonwalking to the point where it's almost ridiculous but cool.

The video is for the song 'I My Me Mine' -

Polysics are MySpace's best kept secret (but not for long).

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Was (Not Was) Go "BOO!" With First New Album in 16 Years

Was (Not Was), the seminal, indestructible art-funk collective from Detroit have just returned from 16 year hibernation. They are finally ready to ensnare the innocent with its snaky beats and brain-virus lyrics. The new album and Rykodisc debut, "BOO!" is set for release on April 8, 2008 in the U.S. / April 7, 2008 UK and worldwide.

In a quasi coma since 1992, when they opened a 4-month tour for Dire Straits (?) across Europe, Don and David Was are again ready to rumble and are planning an endless series of live dates accompanied by special guests and friends the boys have bonded with over the years.

Was (Not Was) will perform a special sneak-peak engagement on Valentine’s Day at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, with special guests Kris Kristofferson and Brian Wilson, and will also be hitting SXSW in March. Kris Kristofferson makes a guest appearance on the closing track of Boo! -- a swirling, psychedelic spoken word number, Green Pills in the Dresser.

With "BOO!" David Was (flute, harmonica, keys and vox) Don Was (bass, keyboards, percussion, programming, vox), Sweet Pea Atkinson (lead vocals) and Sir Henry Bowen (lead vocals) have created an album brewing with the unconventional lyrics and funk-driven R&B beats for which the band is known.

And, as is the Was (Not Was) way, a host of additional players join in on the party: Donald Ray Mitchell (lead vox), David McMurray (sax and horn arrangements), Randy Jacobs (guitar) Jamie Muhoberac (keyboards) and Luis Resto (keyboards), just to name a few. The album was produced by Don and David Was, engineered and mixed by Rik Pekkonen, Krish Sharma and Don Was.

Of course, that's not all the lads were up to all those years. Don Was stepped to the fore as a producer after working with Bonnie Raitt on the Grammy-winning Nick of Time, staying in constant demand for the next decade and working with everyone from, The Stones to Iggy to Kristofferson to the B52's to Elton John and Brian Wilson, to drop just a few names.

David Was went Hollywood and produced two soundtrack collections for the X-Filesand wound up scoring two network TV dramas. And together, Don and David produced the Grammy-winning Roy Orbison/k.d. lang duet of Crying as well as Bob Dylan's Under the Red Sky album. They also started a badminton club for ex-cons called the Birdie Men from Alcatraz, or so it was rumored.

The band reformed to play the Sundance Film Festival in the winter of 2004 and made a triumphal return to London's Jazz Café the following fall.

Was (Not Was) may have been napping, but they never stopped having nightmares! The results will soon storm the barricades of radio, concert halls and festivals 'til they are sent to their rooms to do more audio homework. Stay tuned. Don't drop out, not just yet!

BOO! The New Album
Tracklising -

01. Semi Interesting Week
02. It's A Miracle
03. Your Luck Won't Last
04. From The Head To The Heart
05. Big Black Hole
06. Needletooth
07. Forget Everything
08. Crazy Water
09. Mr. Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore
10. Green Pills In The Dresser (ft. Kris Kristofferson)


Shake Your Head (ft. Kim Basinger)

Walk The Dinosaur

Spy In The House Of Love

Plus . . .

Was (Not Was) on MySpace

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lou Reed joins Stephen Emmer & Tony Visconti on 'Recitement' Spoken Word Album

Lou Reed is among the artists collaborating on a new spoken word album. The former Velvet Underground frontman recites Paul Theroux’s poem ‘Passengers.’ ‘Recitement’ comprises of a diverse set of literary source texts reinterpreted to a soundtrack of original music compositions.

Check out the stunning video for Passengers ft. Lou Reed reciting Paul Theroux's poem of the same name. Stephen Emmer's music is haunting, and Tony's Visconti's mix is astouding. A gorgeous collaboration of talented minds. Reed/Emmer/Visconti. Awesome!

Passengers video -

The record features recitals from numerous musicians, including Blonde Redhead singer Kazu Makino, plus writers like Allen Ginsberg and actors including Richard Burton. The literature is drawn from such diverse writers as Yoko Ono and Thomas Hardy.

The 17 tracks are performed in seven different languages and are mixed by Tony Visconti. The legendary producer, famed for his work with David Bowie and T-Rex, is expected to begin work on Klaxons second album at the end of the month.

‘Recitement’ is the brainchild of leading avant-garde music composer Stephen Emmer.

Emmer began his career in experimental Dutch band Minny Pops, who were signed to Factory Records. Fans of Lou Reed will be pleased he has undertaken a project with a degree of musical integrity after mixed reactions to his recent collaboration with The Killers on the track ‘Tranquillize.’

‘Recitement’ is released by Supertracks Records in the UK on 7th April 2008. Spoken word combined with original music composition never sounded so good.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Burning Down The (Amy) Winehouse

Surprise. It's another television appearance from North London's favourite screwed up singer, Amy Winehouse.

She made global news by not being allowed a visa to America to perform on last night's Grammy Awards. People are killing each other in Nigeria and Amy's still making the news. Go figure.

Thank god Madonna is releasing a new album in April.

What I don't understand about the Winehouse effect is that there are probably 7.5 million struggling musicians out there who would kill to be as successful as Amy, but everyone's favourite Devil Doll can't even string a sentence together. It must be fun to be inarticulate and sell millions of albums in the process.

"Camden's Burning," she cried out during one of last night's slurry acceptance speeches.

Cue for standing ovation from the American hipsters and the rock'n' hip-hop elite.

Close up of Justin Timberlake smiling with the instant nod of approval.

Even Lou Reed digs Amy's album. Is there no stopping this madness?

It's like some George Romero Night of the Living Dead movie that refuses to die. The zombie (Amy Winehouse) just keeps coming back from the dead. How does she do it?

On a more positive note, I couldn't help but chuckle when I read the following blurb written by E. Jasmin on the News Tribute blog, entitled - "Will Someone Give That Girl A Ham Sandwich?"

"The thing I was most looking forward to was Amy Winehouse who performed via satellite from London. We can look past some of her spacey, strung out demeanor, considering what she’s been through lately. (You Tube it if you don’t know already.) Oh, and the fact that it took her something like 15 seconds to remember she needed to give an acceptance speech after she won her next award – ahem – for some reason."

"But will someone please give that girl a ham sandwich? Extra mayo. Side order o’ cheesy fries. They could show a clip of that performance at Calista Flockhart and Mary-Kate Olson’s next intervention. I thought Amy’s legs might snap every time she did that weird knee-knocking thing during her oh so appropriate set list, “You Know I’m No Good” and “Rehab.” Her voice still sounds good. All jokes aside, congrats to Amy for racking up a whole shelf of well-deserved awards. And here’s hoping she can get her life back together before it's too late."

Now what was the movie called starring Bette Davis? Oh yeah, "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane". Amy Winehouse or Bette Davis? You decide.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Eric Burdon & WAR To Reunite For One Concert

ERIC BURDON AND WAR will reunite for one performance only at London's Royal Albert Hall on Monday 21st April 2008. This will be the first concert Eric Burdon and War have performed in 37 years since they originally disbanded in 1971.

Originally the front man of the Animals, the legendary Eric Burdon is considered to be one of the greatest blues singers in the world. His contribution to music by joining forces with War; possibly the most popular funk groups of the 70's, makes this one-off concert one of the hottest must-see tickets of 2008.

With a distinctive sound that captured the heart and soul of 1970's America, Los-Angeles based WAR played the music that made people dance and think.Their 1970 album Eric Burdon Declares WAR included two No. 1 worldwide hits - Spill the Wine, and Tobacco Road.The follow-up 1970 album, The Black-Man's Burdon featured the hit singles They Can't Take Away Our Music and a cover of the Jagger-Richards seminal track Paint It Black, amongst many others. Both albums became cultural touchstones of the early seventies.

Although WAR's lyrics were sometimes political in nature (in keeping with their racially integrated line-up), their music almost always had a sunny, laid-back vibe emblematic of their Southern California roots. Shortly after the sudden death of Burdon's close friend Jimi Hendrix (Jimi overdosed on the night he jammed with Eric Burdon and WAR at Ronnie Scott's), the singer moved away from the group, and WAR went on to become a creative force and released many successful albums in their own right.

Eric Burdon & WAR rode the fine line between brilliance and excess during their time together, performing & recording with a sense of risk, imagination, and adventure.

"The diversity of influences on us was not only musical, but was social as well,” says singer-keyboardist and founding WAR member Lonnie Jordan. “As a result we tried to be entertaining while also spreading the word of peace, harmony and brotherhood. Our instruments and voices became our weapons of choice and the songs our ammunition. We spoke out against racism, hunger, gangs, crimes and turf wars, as we embraced all people with hope and the spirit of brotherhood.”

The London Royal Albert Hall reunion concert also dovetails a massive reissue campaign that will see Rhino Records releasing all of Eric Burdon and War's seminal albums. The two 1970's albums Eric Burdon Declares WAR and Black-Man's Burdon will be released in the UK on Monday 24th March, followed by the release of their 1976 compilation album Love Is All Around on Monday 31st March.

All of War's subsequent studio albums will follow through the month of April. The reissue campaign will end on 14th April with the release of The Best of Eric Burdon and WAR and The WAR Anthology.


Tickets on sale From Thursday February 14th, 9am GMT

24 Hour Ticket Hotline: 0844 576 5483
Venue Box Office: 020 7589 8212

Tickets: £35.50 / £30.00 / £27.50 (plus booking fee)
Show time: 7:30pm

Vote For Joe Jackson

Hilarious new tribute video to Joe Jackson directed by Sarah Schaefer just went up on YouTube.

Some comedic moments about one of Britain's best loved singer/songwriters. The video is nicely timed with the recent release of his current album "Rain". I almost split my pants watching the video. Check it out.