Quadraphenia

Can You See The Real Marketing Ploy?

I keep buying this damn product in its many incarnations.

  • There’s the double LP -Check.
  • The double CD – Check.
  • The Soundtrack version on double LP – Check
  • The Soundtrack version on double CD – Check
  • The Original Movie DVD – Check
  • The new version of the movie DVD 2 disc set – Check.
  • The concert DVD of the 1990s Who stage show of this album – Check.

And so it goes. Can’t even remember the number of times I went to see it at the Valhalla cinema in the 1980s.

The entry on the original album is here. Nothing much I didn’t know but this was funny:

During the ‘Behind The Laughter’ episode of The Simpsons, the cover of the Krustophenia record is a parody of Quadrophenia.

Anyway… Naturally, the Film has its own page.

At the time of its original release, the film was received mostly negatively by critics and was panned for its large amounts of sex, violence, profanity and drug use, which were then still fairly uncommon in film. It did acquire a large word-of-mouth reputation amongst teenagers too young to go and see it. Today it is considered a cult classic and is recognised as a realistic reflection of youth culture in the 1960s. Many have praised Phil Daniels’ intense performance. The film currently holds a 100% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sounds about right. What prompted this search of course is because I bought the 2 disc set and watched the second extras disc to find the thing was shot in 1:1.85 and not anamorphic. The production stills show Arriflex SR cameras, which doesn’t negate the possibility it was shot on anamorphic, but it seems far more likely it was 1:1.85. Indeed, the director tells us so in one of the interviews. The transfer does seem to be anamorphic 16:9.

It’s a bloody brilliant film, which together with ‘The Kids Are Alright’ and ‘Tommy’ prove that the creative vision of The Who extended favorably well beyond their own domain of Rock. I remember mounting a lone defense of this film at AFTRS back in the day.

A quick look at Franc Roddam’s page reveals that he hasn’t been spectacularly successful as a director since.

In 1977 he made his name by producing and directing a controversial, searing docu-drama called Dummy, which was watched by 14 million viewers. It told the sad, sordid story of Sandra, a deaf and mute girl who descended into prostitution and degradation on the streets of Bradford. She was portrayed by Geraldine James in a performance that won her the Prix Italia and established her reputation as a talented actress.

Roddam directed Quadrophenia in 1979, loosely based on The Who’s 1973 album of the same name. It told the story of Jimmy, a teenager who was involved in the early 1960s mod phenomenon. There was a burgeoning mod revival at the time, partially inspired by the film. The film has developed a cult status, but unlike his near contemporaries Ridley Scott and Alan Parker, Roddam did not establish himself in the United States. His first Hollywood film The Bride was a commercial flop, and his work since has been sporadic. Roddam is credited with creating the series Auf Wiedersehen, Pet reflecting his roots in North East England, and devising the format for the television game show Masterchef.

As one of my colleagues told me once-upon-a-long-time-ago, it’s better to be a has-been than a never-been. At least he will always have ‘Quadrophenia’ to his name.

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300 Spartans And Loose Change

I watched ‘300 Spartans’, which is the film that inspired Frank Miller to do ‘300’, which inspired Hollywood to re-do a film on the topic as a movie ‘300’.

As such, the content overlaps greatly. Here’s the Wikipedia entry on 300 Spartans.

The 300 Spartans is a 1962 Cinemascope film depicting the Battle of Thermopylae. Made with the cooperation of the Greek government, it was shot in the village of Perachora in the Peloponnese. It starred Richard Egan as the Spartan king Leonidas, Ralph Richardson as Themistocles of Athens and David Farrar as Persian king Xerxes, with Diane Baker as Ellas and Barry Coe as Phylon providing the requisite romantic element in the film. In the film, a force of Greek warriors led by 300 Spartans fights against a Persian army of almost limitless size. Despite the odds, the Spartans will not flee or surrender, even if it means their deaths.
The picture was noted for its Cold War overtones,[1] referring to the independent Greek states as “the only stronghold of freedom remaining in the then known world”, holding out against the Persian “slave empire”.
Frank Miller saw this movie as a boy and said “it changed the course of my creative life”.[2] His graphic novel 300 is about the Battle of Thermopylae, and was the basis for the 2007 film 300.

It’s a pretty ghastly film by our contemporary standards. The writing and directing is totally out of date and I sort of wonder if it was considered any good even by its own times’ standards. it’s not clear from the Wikipedia page.

Here’s the entry on the graphic novel. by Frank Miller. It has this interesting tidbit:

Renowned comics writer Alan Moore has criticized 300 as historically inaccurate, with particular reference to the characters’ attitudes towards homosexuality:
There was just one particular line in it where one of the Spartan soldiers—I’ll remind you, this is Spartans that we’re talking about—one of them was talking disparagingly about the Athenians, and said, ‘Those boy-lovers.’ You know, I mean, read a book, Frank. The Spartans were famous for something other than holding the bridge at Thermopylae, they were quite famous for actually enforcing man-boy love amongst the ranks as a way of military bonding. That specific example probably says more about Frank’s grasp of history than it does about his grasp of homosexuality, so I’m not impugning his moral situation there. I’m not saying it was homophobic; just wasn’t very well researched.[3]
Miller, in the letters page of the series, replied to accusations of homophobia from a reader regarding the phrase “Those boy-lovers”:
If I allowed my characters to express only my own attitudes and beliefs, my work would be pretty darn boring. If I wrote to please grievance groups, my work would be propaganda. For the record: being a warrior class, the Spartans almost certainly did practice homosexuality. There’s also evidence they tended to lie about it. It’s not a big leap to postulate that they ridiculed their hedonistic Athenian rivals for something they themselves did. “Hypocrisy” is, after all, a word we got from the Greeks. What’s next? A letter claiming that, since the Spartans owned slaves and beat their young, I do the same? The times we live in.[4]
Reviewer Aaron Albert notes that although “Miller does take liberties with the history”, he considers it more of a “theatrical portrayal” rather than a “historical battle”. He notes the passion evident in Miller’s writing. He praised the visuals; especially the use of over-sized panels. Lynn Varley’s painting was also commended. [5]

So there’s that to ponder. The ‘300’ film entry is here. This bit was interesting:

Reviews
Since its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 14, 2007, in front of 1,700 audience members, 300 has received generally mixed reviews. While it received a standing ovation at the public premiere,[58] it was reportedly panned at a press screening hours earlier, where many attendees left during the showing and those who remained booed at the end.[59] Critical reviews of 300 are divided.[60] Rotten Tomatoes reports that 60 percent of North American and selected international critics gave the film a positive review, based upon a sample of 214, with an average score of 6.1 out of 10.[61] Reviews from selected notable critics were 47 percent positive, giving the film an average score of 5.7 out of 10 based on a sample of 38.[62] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 51 based on 35 reviews.[60]
Variety’s Todd McCarthy describes the film as “visually arresting” although “bombastic”[63] while Kirk Honeycutt, writing in The Hollywood Reporter, praises the “beauty of its topography, colors and forms.”[64] Writing in the Chicago Sun Times, Richard Roeper acclaims 300 as “the Citizen Kane of cinematic graphic novels.”[65] 300 was also warmly received by websites focusing on comics and video games. Comic Book Resources’ Mark Cronan found the film compelling, leaving him “with a feeling of power, from having been witness to something grand.”[66] IGN’s Todd Gilchrist acclaimed Zack Snyder as a cinematic visionary and “a possible redeemer of modern moviemaking.”[67]
A number of critical reviews appeared in major American newspapers. A.O. Scott of the New York Times describes 300 as “about as violent as Apocalypto and twice as stupid,” while criticizing its color scheme and suggesting that its plot includes racist undertones.[68] Kenneth Turan writes in the Los Angeles Times that “unless you love violence as much as a Spartan, Quentin Tarantino or a video-game-playing teenage boy, you will not be endlessly fascinated.”[69] Roger Ebert, in his review, gave the film a two-star rating, writing, “300 has one-dimensional caricatures who talk like professional wrestlers plugging their next feud.”[70]
Some Greek newspapers have been particularly critical, such as film critic Robby Eksiel, who said that moviegoers would be dazzled by the “digital action” but irritated by the “pompous interpretations and one-dimensional characters.”[55][71]

It’s been a while since I’ve checked the page and hadn’t seen the reviews section had grown. The Controversy section also makes for interesting reading. I liked this bit:

The film’s portrayal of ancient Persians caused a particularly strong reaction in Iran.[102] Azadeh Moaveni of Time reported that Tehran was “outraged” following the film’s release. Moaveni identified two factors which may have contributed to the intense reaction: its release on the eve of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, and the common Iranian view of the Achaemenid Empire as “a particularly noble page in their history.”[103][104][105] Various Iranian officials condemned the film.[106][107][108][109] The Iranian Academy of the Arts submitted a formal complaint against the movie to UNESCO, labelling it an attack on the historical identity of Iran.[110][111] The Iranian mission to the U.N. protested the film in a press release,[112] and Iranian embassies protested its screening in France,[113] Thailand,[114] Turkey[115] and Uzbekistan.[116]
Slovenian philosopher and author Slavoj Žižek defended the movie, from those who attacked it as an example of “the worst kind of patriotic militarism with clear allusions to recent tensions with Iran and Iraq.” He wrote that the story represents “a poor, small country (Greece) invaded by the army of a much large[r] state (Persia),” suggesting that the identification of the Spartans with a modern superpower is flawed. Instead of seeing a “fundamentalist” aspect in the Spartan identity, he stated that “all modern egalitarian radicals, from Rousseau to the Jacobins…imagined the republican France as a new Sparta.”[117]

And Warner Bros’ defense is, it’s” a work of fiction” and “loosely based on a historic event”. I think Leonidas and his 300 Spartans might want to say something about that.

The parody ‘Meet The Spartans’ has this page.

The film received almost universally negative reviews from critics. As of May 19, 2008, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 2% of all critics gave the film positive reviews and 0% positive reviews from top critics based on 41 reviews with an average rating of 1.8/10; citing consensus opinion on the title as “A tired, unfunny, offensive waste of time … [which] scrapes the bottom of the cinematic barrel.”[2] Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 9 out of 100, based on 11 reviews — indicating “extreme dislike or disgust” and being the worst received film by the director on the site.[3]
One reviewer in Scotland’s The Sunday Herald gave the film a score of zero, as did Ireland’s Day and Night while an Australian newspaper review described it as being “as funny as a burning orphanage”. In London, The Times reviewer Wendy Ide suggested that the producers of the film were not aiming for ‘laughs’ but “a simian grunt of recognition from an audience that must have been practically brain-dead to fork out £10 to see a film that can’t even master the concept of out-takes?”. This film was the lowest-rated of the 2008 film season.

Ha.

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Terry Bozzio & Punky Meadows

“I’m So Cute”

I was watching the Zappa Plays Zappa DVD and the special guest on the end of the first disc was Terry Bozzio. He looked a little stressed and unhappy to be there at that point in his life, re-living moments from his distant youth playing for Frank Zappa. Also notable was the amazing drum kit he had as he led the band through ‘I’m So Cute’ and ‘Tryin’ To Grow A Chin’ and the all-time gender-bender song, ‘Punky’s Whips’.

Anyway, that led me to check up on what Terry Bozzio’s been doing since the 70’s Zappa band and Missing Persons.

Here’s Terry Bozzio.

Like Hall of Fame drummer Gary Chester, Bozzio is noted for creating the melodic ostinato for the drum set.[citation needed] In most of Bozzio’s works, the ostinato is played using various bass drum and hi-hat permutations while he solos against these rhythms using his hands. Sometimes (often in the same composition) the opposite is true, where he will hold an ostinato pattern with his hands and solo with his feet. Like Chester, Bozzio developed the application for the melodic ostinato for drum set when he noticed how a pianist would solo or play counter rhythms against the ostinato or pedal point. He then applied this concept to the drum set.[citation needed]
Bozzio is also noted for creating orchestral compositions on the drum set by playing polyrhythms and metric modulations[citation needed] while utilizing his large custom kit (sometimes nicknamed “SS Bozzio”), in which the tom toms are tuned to specific notes to create the atmosphere that is Bozzio’s signature sound. Terry Bozzio’s influence has been seen in some of the most prominent drummers of today including Marco Minnemann, Thomas Lang, Mike Mangini and Chris Utter.
Terry Bozzio currently endorses Drum Workshop drums, Sabian cymbals, Vic Firth sticks and Attack drum heads, all of which have special custom lines designed for him. In fact, his cymbals were designed from the ground up by Bozzio himself, including a completely different kind of lathing method. Terry is known to use various white noise cymbal pairings, where he stacks multiple crashes and/or china cymbals to create atypical sounds. This idea may have arisen from Zappa’s abhorrence of loud cymbals, so to satisfy his boss, he cut large chunks out of his cymbals, which created a “swooshy”, and more trashy sound. This is seen in the Baby Snakes movie in prominence. The “SS Bozzio” is often just as amazing, to onlookers of his performances, as the drummer himself. His kit has evolved from a fairly standard large drum set, akin to that of Neil Peart, including various sound effects and the standard drum arrangements, to his current setup which includes more than 10 pedals to operate various percussion devices and dozens of drums to achieve his melodic drum parts.

This led me to a cool interview here and here. It’s chock-a-block full of interesting insights.

“Punky, Punky, Your Albums Are Shit! – I Promise Not To Cum In Your Mouth”

For years this part of the song has made me laugh. To confess, I’d never seen a photo of Punky Meadows, so I’d never really understood what the hell Frank was writing about – but the above line sort of sums it all up nicely for even the unfamiliar to have a guess.

Anyway, here’s the entry on Punky Meadows.

After Cherry People disbanded, Meadows and Mickie Jones formed Daddy Warbux, later Bux, which released one album.[2] Angel formed after the two met Gregg Giuffria and then Barry Brandt and Frank Dimino, choosing the name “Angel” after the song by Jimi Hendrix,[1] of whom Meadows was a fan.
Angel released studio albums from 1975 to 1979 and the live album Live Without a Net in 1980, and disbanded not long thereafter after not achieving mass critical or popular success. Meadows, however, both during his tenure with the band and thereafter was invited to join Kiss, Aerosmith, and the New York Dolls, all of which he turned down.[1]
The band possessed a strong glam image that was said to be the antithesis of Kiss’s,[2] while Meadows himself became the most strongly associated with the glam persona, so much so that Frank Zappa ridiculed his trademark pout and hair in the song “Punky’s Whips”. Meadows, however, was “flattered” and eventually ended up onstage during a Zappa concert in his Angel costume.[1]
While the band had (and still has) a number of fan sites, a fan of Meadows has a site devoted exclusively to him called the “Punky Meadows Shrine”.[3]

Whereupon we learn Punky is no longer in the music business. It sort of makes sense.

He seems like a pretty good sport about the song. The wikipedia page led me to this entry here.

One of those listeners was Frank Zappa, who went so far as to write a song about Meadows. “Punky’s Whips,” originally slated to appear on the 1978 album Zappa in New York, dismisses Angel as product (“In today’s rapidly changing world/Rock groups appear every 15 minutes/Utilizing some new promotional device,” the song begins. “Some of these devices have been known/To leave irreparable scars on the minds of foolish young consumers”) before delivering a slightly blunter verdict: “Punky, Punky, your album’s the shits!/It’s all wrong!”

To his credit, Meadows readily agreed to let Zappa record his mock tribute to the “pooched-out succulence of his insolent pouting rictus,” even if his less-than-flattered bandmates delayed the song’s release for several years. “I thought it was cool,” he says. “Frank is very satirical, so you can’t have a thin skin. I found it kind of flattering. Around the time he wrote the song, he was playing in L.A. He asked if I’d be willing to come onstage in my Angel costume and play with him on the song. I went to the concert, the curtain goes up, and there’s this giant publicity photograph of me doing this pucker kind of thing. It was like Dean Martin’s roast or something. Afterwards, Frank asked me to his place to drink some beer and play some tunes.”

Despite Zappa’s efforts–not to mention the rise of punk, grunge, and nu metal–Angel continues to be popular. All of its albums are in print. The band is even touring again, white outfits and all. But Meadows has consistently declined to rejoin the resurrected Angel, saying that “rock is for kids.” Besides, he says, just the thought of “a bunch of 50-year-olds in white spandex” is enough to make him shudder.

He seems like a really well-adjusted guy considering the ridicule associated with his stage name. He seems like he’s actually quite a decent dude. I wouldn’t mind picking up some albums by Angel just to see if he was really doing it all wrong. I think Frank might have been overstating his disdain.

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Hello world!

This is the blog where I explore things I find in Wikipedia. There are not set rules or format that I will follow. Just that I will confine topics to what I see on Wikipedia and write about them for your amusement.

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