High Spirits (1988, Neil Jordan)

Categories: 1988 and Movies.

This is a very, very silly but endearing film, shot in just an incredible-looking castle and half the fun is just ogling the castle. But Peter O’Toole is great and there are some memorable turns by other members of the cast. This is one of those 80s films with rough edges (the script could have used some tightening, among other things) where the charm of the film outweighs its obvious problems. Read More

Selected Ambient Works 85-92 (1992) by Aphex Twin

Categories: 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, and Music.

I am familiar with electronic music up until a point – that point is somewhere in the very early 80s. I have no idea what happened between then and the music we have today (save for the odd track that gets played too much or turned into stadium music). Read More

Nothing’s Shocking (1988) by Jane’s Addiction

Categories: 1988 and Music.

Unlike the follow up, I really like this one. The production’s better, even if the song’s aren’t. (Everything’s a little more raw and unhinged.) Whether you think of this as hard rock or some kind of metal, there was nothing really like this being made in the late ’80s; funkier and way weirder than the Gunners but way louder and cooler than any other mainstream hard rock band at the time (that I’m aware of). I can hear a lot of ’90s rock in this record. And though a number of bands may have done this better, it sure sounds Read More

How to Work a Room (1988, 2013) by Susan RoAne

Categories: 1988, 2013, Books, and Non-Fiction.

There are parts of this book that are helpful if you are shy (the author claims that most of us are shy…) or if you don’t know how to go about networking. But… Like most self-help books, it is awfully repetitive.And that’s hard to take.Also, the author doesn’t understand proper emphasis, despite teaching English herself. She uses quotation marks and capitalization (mid-word!!!) in place of italtics. That’s nit-picky, I know. But excessive, incorrect use of quotation marks is a major pet peeve. But the problems don’t stop there. This book contains two separate chapters on online “manners” or “etiquette” and Read More

Holst: A Winter Idyll (1993) by David Atherton et al.

Categories: 1897, 1900, 1903, 1905, 1906, 1911, 1921, 1927, 1980, 1988, 1989, and Music.

This is a collection of short orchestral pieces and excerpts of longer ones, by Holst. It is not performed by the same group throughout (as it’s a compilation) though, as far as I can tell (listening to a digital copy), the conductor is the same throughout (David Atherton). “A Winter Idyll” starts rather lively for the title. It’s decent late Romantic stuff. It’s fine. It doesn’t have me jumping out of my shoes or anything. Why anyone excerpts parts of symphonies I’ll never know. (Well I do know why they do it, I just don’t like it.) I’d much rather Read More

Grieg: Piano Concerto; Holberg Suite (1988) by Various Artists

Categories: 1988 and Music.

This is one of those extremely annoying compilations where there is virtually no information: we know the performers of the pieces but not when or where. Labels like Quintessence get their hands on recordings that don’t have copyright protection in North America and release these recordings to unsuspecting consumers (such as libraries). When someone like me listens to this music, it’s annoying to know so little. I don’t know the music and so I cannot really comment on the performances. (Though I can comment on the sound quality: it is shockingly good given the label.) The Concerto is a definite Read More

Goddammit I Love America (1988) by Mr. Bungle

Categories: 1988 and Music.

For me, this is the first Bungle demo that really sounds like Bungle, rather than a bunch of guys who would turn into Bungle later. A lot of that has to do with the presence of songs that make the debut, but they sound a lot better – more coherent, more obviously themselves instead of a Metallica- or Camper van Beethoven-wannabes, and just way more like the band I fell in love with. This is still pretty rough – they were still a ways from refining their very unique sound (and you could argue the debut was still very unrefined) Read More

Symphony No. 8; Ballade; Slavonic Festival (1988) by Alexander Glazunov, performed by Various Artists

Categories: 1988 and Music.

I really don’t like these arbitrary compilations, where there’s one major work fleshed out with other smaller works, and when the performances are by different orchestras / performers, it’s all the more frustrating. But the 8th symphony is awesome – it’s everything I want in late Romantic ‘nationalist’ music. And the performance by the Ministry of Culture’s orchestra (what a Soviet idea!) is suitably bombastic, to my ears. And surprisingly, I can see how the curator thought the ‘Ballade’ belonged with this symphony (though obviously I would prefer to listen to a complete set of the symphonies). But frankly the Read More

Carlo Gesualdo Madrigaux a 5 voix (1988) by Les Arts Florissants conducted by William Christie and Tenebrae responsories for Maundy Thursday (2004) by the King’s Singers

Categories: 1590s, 1610s, 1988, 2004, and Music.

How we remember the past is always fascinating. They say the winners write history and that’s fine when it comes to political violence, but how relevant is that to art? Why exactly was Gesualdo forgotten for a couple centuries? Very briefly, the story with Gesualdo is that he was considered a minor Renaissance composer and then completely forgotten. When he was “rediscovered”, contemporary musicologists and composers were shocked to hear how adventurous his music was for the era; in fact little of the baroque and classical eras was this daring in terms of chord changes and the use of dissonance. Read More

Dvorak: Symphony No. 8 / Brahms: Symphony No. 3 (1988) by Wiener Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan

Categories: 1988 and Music.

At first this seemed to me like an arbitrary combination (something which I generally dislike) but for some reason the two works seem to mesh well together, and it’s not just because they were written within five years of each other. They seem (at least on my first listens) to strike similar tones and so the combination doesn’t appear so odd. 7/10 Read More

Spirit of Eden (1988) by Talk Talk

Categories: 1988 and Music.

Ever since I became a fan of the horribly named genre post rock in the early ’00s, I always wondered where it came from. It has long seemed to me to have emerged from nowhere. What music from the ’80s could have possibly told us we would be listening to “rock” bands trying their hardest to make non-rock music on rock and non-rock music? It just seemed to me that something like Hex just came out of nowhere. Now I know better. I only wish I had known sooner. I sort of wish I had someone to expose me to Read More

The Chess Box (1988, Chess) by Willie Dixon

Categories: 1988 and Music.

So Dixon is unlike pretty much all the other major figures in post-war blues in that he rarely led groups. He was more of a songwriter and producer (and, of course, bassist). He’s only the frontman on something like 5 or 6 of these songs. But he’s behind all the rest of them in the other ways. And that’s the really crazy and impressive thing about him: he had this huge impact on the blues and rock and roll, but he rarely took up that role that we would expect someone like him should have. There’s an argument to be Read More

The Trinity Session by Cowboy Junkies (1988, BMG)

Categories: 1988 and Music.

If it weren’t so clearly rooted in roots music (I crack myself up) this would seem to be the birth of slowcore. It’s alt country not in the sense that it is mixed with alternative rock (though obviously there is some influence, given the Velvets cover) but in the sense that the approach is so alternative: one night, one mic, in a church, at played a crawl. The result is unlike any other country album (I’ve heard) from the ’80s, or perhaps from the ’90s either. It is utterly unique and classic. One of the great live albums of the Read More

The 50th Anniversary Collection by James Brown (Polydor 2003)

Categories: 1956, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1979, 1988, 2003, and Music.

James Brown’s importance can not be understated. He is on The List of the most important musical figures of the twentieth century (along with Louis Armstrong, the Beatles, Miles Davis, Dylan, Duke Ellington, Schoenberg, Stockhausen, Frank Zappa and maybe a few others). This compilation of his hit singles gives a very good idea of his progression and how he turned gritty soul and R and B into funk and thus got sampled more than any other band leader ever. The one downside is that this compilation of his hit singles is missing one of his biggest hits. Hard to understand that Read More

80s Movie Lists

Categories: 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, and Movies.

I’ve discovered that I am not always a good judge of 80s movies, as many of them I saw as a kid and they hold some kind of importance for me, whether they are any good or not. When I have rewatched them, the rating has no doubt dropped. But in many cases I haven’t seen these movies since I was in my mid-teens at the very latest, meaning that the ratings might not be so trustworthy. But how can I change the rating if I haven’t seen the movie in over a decade? Read More

The Thin Blue Line (1988, Errol Morris) and Paradise Lost: the Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996, Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky)

Categories: 1988 and Movies.

Nothing in the CD player because it’s too early. Yes, I’m procrastinating again. (spoilers?) Taking what’s in The Thin Blue Line is much easier when you’re familiar with what happened as a result of the movies’ release. As the saying goes, it is perhaps the only movie to ever reverse a court decision. It obviously didn’t do it on its own, but it started the appeals apparently. Therefore, even though the movie is about injustice and it appears as though nothing can be done, you know (if you’ve read about the movie) that there was eventually a happy ending. (9/10) Read More

Movies

Categories: 1987, 1988, 1994, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and Movies.

One of the things I did in Florida was watch a lot of movies. Because that’s what you do in Florida when it’s dark and you’ve got crazy American cable with 30+ movie channels. That’s not to say that’s all I did (though this list will give you that impression), but I definitely watched a lot. The pictures of what I did will be up once I get them developed (that reminds me!). Shallow Grave Danny Boyle’s certainly got some interesting movies out there. This is one to check out. I liked how it was so claustrophobic. That is to Read More