[Movie Review] The Bone Collector

The Bone CollectorStarring: Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, Queen Latifah, Michael Rooker, Ed O’Neill
Director: Phillip Noyce
Genre: Thriller
Cert: 15
Released: 1999

Another sadistic and violent thriller to add to the tons of others flying around – “Seven”, “Kiss the Girls”, “Fallen”, for example.

Quadriplegic ex-forensics expert Lincoln Rhyme (Washington) teams up with quick-thinking cop Amelia Donaghy (Jolie) after he is impressed by her on-the-spot forensic work at a brutal murder scene. The serial murderer, responsible for the elaborate deaths of his victims, chooses to leave clues at each murder scene (why??). With Captain Howard Cheney (Rooker) undermining the pair at every turn it’s a race against time to find out what the murderer is trying to tell them before it’s too late.

I suspected a muted performance from the bed-ridden Denzel Washington but this does not materialise. His performance is as striking as you would expect and he is ably assisted by Academy award winner, Jolie, who gets down and dirty in some very unpleasant murder scenes.

The storyline is not without it’s problems. The way in which Washington deciphers clues requires willing suspense of disbelief and the characterisation of Captain Cheney is a painfully “bad cop” stereotype.

But there are warm and enjoyable turns from Queen Latifah as Rhyme’s personal nurse, and Ed O’Neill as the straight-as-a-die Detective Sellitto.

3halfstar

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[Album Review] "Pump" – Aerosmith (original review)

Pump - AerosmithAlbum Title: Pump
Artist: Aerosmith
Year: 1989
Running Time: 47m 44s

Track listing: 1 Young Lust; 2 F.I.N.E.; 3 Love in an Elevator; 4 Monkey on my Back; 5 Janie’s Got a Gun; 6 The Other Side; 7 My Girl; 8 Don’t Get Mad, Get Even; 9 Voodoo Medicine Man; 10 What It Takes

When you are as long in the tooth as Aerosmith are, there comes a time when you have to move on and sing about different topics of interest. After all the sexual innuendo and saucy carry-on had to end by 1989, right? Erm, no.

And if you were ever in any doubt, within 30 seconds of the start of the ablum, ‘Young Lust’ sets you straight: ‘Young lust, happy just to be in lust, never have to eat no dust…sometimes you need it so bad, it’s enough to drive a young girl mad, so watcha gonna do about it…little bit nasty, you look a little sleazy, don’t get any on you….’. The track is a guitar-driven rocker that launches from one seedy escapade to the next with Joey Kramer pumping as fast as, well, a young lustful couple might.

Before you know it, ‘F.I.N.E.’ slides in to view on an ascending Joe Perry riff. Another energy-sapping beauty with wonderful powerful riffs, a devestatingly cohesive rhythm section and superlative vocal performance from Tyler. An ingenious mid-section changes the direction slightly to exceptional effect.

The first half of “Pump” is completed with three more gems. ‘Love in an Elevator’ was a huge hit and is as close to the commercial prowess of “Permanent Vacation” that “Pump” gets. Basist Tom Hamilton gives a commanding performance as does Joe Perry who screeches solo after solo in an aggressive yet elegant style.

Nearly left off the album, ‘Monkey on my Back’ is the tale of singer Steven Tyler’s drug addiction through the 70s and 80s. ‘The fortune teller looked into my eyeballs’, recounts Tyler. He continues with ‘her’ message: ‘you best believe it, you ain’t going nowhere, unless you get that monkey off your back’. Tyler guides you through his hell as he says: ‘I made believe the devil made me do it, I was the evil leader of the pack, you best believe I had it all and then I blew it, feet of that fucking monkey off my back’. Absolutely astonishing performance from Tyler who drags the rest of the band through his lurid experiences too. Finally, the track that was to become an all-time classic, ‘Janie’s Got a Gun’, is the emotive and vivid story of a young girl who got revenge on her abusing father by shooting him dead.

The second half is more derivative but starts on familiar territory with the brassy and melodic ‘The Other Side’ which is likeable if a little bit ‘rock-by-numbers’. ‘My Girl’ is a novelty tune which pays homage to British pop of the 60s. Nice drum conmbinations from Kramer and some swinging guitar notes from Perry and Brad Whitford.

For those who miss the blues, you can always rely on one band. ‘Don’t Get Mad, Get Even’ is a sometimes moody, sometimes chaotic blues rocker. Lyrically it’s a delight with Tyler using the technique that I can only best describe as ‘irnoic’ or perhaps ‘conflictive’: ‘you know your head is empty, but there’s something on your mind; when pleasure that is shallow causes tremors through the deep, you be dustin’ with the devil while he sweeps you off your feet’.

‘Voodoo Medicine Man’ is a themed-rocker which is as close to the heavy ‘Round and Round’ from “Toys in the Attic” as Aerosmith have managed. Hamilton and Whitford work in tandem as the band trudge through the heavy vegitation and deep rivers of the Amazon jungle. A rather brilliant piece of work.

But an even more brilliant piece of work is the emotional country-ballad, ‘What it Takes’. Appropriate accordion, delicate piano, heart-tugging lyrics and fervent backing harmonies render it Tyler’s best love song.

“Pump” does in the 90s what “Rocks” did in the 70s and in many ways, like “Rocks”, it should be perceived as a showcase for all that is good about Aerosmith.
5star

[Album Review] "Sound of White Noise" – Anthrax

Sound of White Noise - AnthraxAlbum Title: Sound of White Noise
Artist: Anthrax
Year: 1993
Running Time: 57m 13s

Track listing: 1 Potters Field; 2 Only; 3 Room For One More; 4 Packaged Rebellion; 5 Hy Pro Glo; 6 Invisible; 7 1000 Points of Hate; 8 Black Lodge; 9 C11 H17 N2 O2 S Na; 10 Burst; 11 This is Not An Exit

Loud obnoxious thrash music. That was how I always interpreted Anthrax prior to the 1993 release, ‘Sound of White Noise”. A friend of mine, who had a propensity for metal, told me to check it out ‘cos it’s great’. ‘Alright’, I said in a rather dubious ton e . However the frightening memory of ‘I’m the Man’ from 1987 quickly faded into the past as the textured metal tones of the power-ballad, ‘Only’, invaded my consciousness. What a long way Anthrax had come. ‘Only’ was a brilliant piece of music; a less-than -subtle assault both vocally and musically.

The album kicked off with a wrongly-tuned-radio-style static sound and the announcement that we were taking ‘a journey into sound’. It was almost like Anthrax were climbing out of a black hole and travelling through a tunnel to immortal notoriety. Then suddenly…BANG! They arrived. ‘Potters Field’ crashes in with a thumping rhythm and drum accompaniment and a swirling lead riff that embraces the powerful tones of lead singer, John Bush.

‘Room For One More’ is also one that originated in the channelled aggression department with some marvellous strained solos from Dan Spitz. The 80s metal influence is still audible but somehow the music manages to emerge with 90s credibility. The politically-themed ‘Packaged Rebellion’ features a low-key entrance which graduall y ascends to the status of a determined and purposeful all-out rocker – almost reminiscent of Faith No More at their roughest but at the same time sounding nothing like them.

The thoughtful ‘Black Lodge’ is a unique song on this collection and a very welc ome one too. A wavering guitar quickly envelopes a calm vocal and the song only raises the tempo during the chorus but still never rises above mid-tempo. A really pleasant track. Faster and harder but still reminiscent of the ‘Only’ sound, ‘C11 H17 N2 O2 S Na’ (Sodium Penathol), is an excellent piece of metal. Wonderful anarchic performance from Charlie Benante on drums and the entire rhythm section. If only I knew what the hell they were talking about!

‘1000 Points of Hate’ is aggressive with a nice vocal and rhythm structure that rambles a bit eventually and ‘Hy Pro Glo’ starts off a little mundanely but has a kick-ass chorus that takes over for the most part.

Is it the Sex Pistols? No, just ‘Invisible’. First of all a gradual introduction for each instru ment and then the song struggles with a dated punkish sound for a short while before sliding safely into metal territory. The main riff is excellent but the thinness of the sound during the chorus is a let down. There’s a great mid-section however that do es make partial amends.

‘Burst’ is the shortest song on the album and seems a bit pointless and lacking in quality. Certainly not as good as what preceded it…

…or indeed what followed. ‘This is Not an Exit’ wraps up the album pretty well. It never quite explodes like it should and there seems to be pandemonium itching to escape throughout but the tom-toms in the finale are rather cool and are indicative of the variety and imagination exhibited on this release.

‘This is Not an Exit’ then almost implodes with the message that perfectly describes this album: ‘be dangerous, and unpredictable and make a lot of noise’. The static returns. Fade to black.

3star

[Album Review] "Memorial Beach" – a-ha

Memorial Beach - a-haAlbum Title: Memorial Beach
Artist: a-ha
Year: 1993
Running Time: 49m 35s

Track listing: 1 Dark is the Night For All; 2 Move to Memphis; 3 Cold as Stone; 4 Angel in the Snow; 5 Locust; 6 Lie Down in Darkness; 7 How Sweet it Was; 8 Lamb to the Slaughter; 9 Between Your Mama and Yourself; 10 Memorial Beach

“You’re back again…you’re travel-worn…so alone…”

It’s 1993 and a-ha release the follow up to the moderately successful “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” – “Memorial Beach”. If the shift in style began with “East of the Sun”, it was cemented with this album.

The oddly-titled ‘Dark is the Night for All’ kicks us off in fine style in a spectacularly successful homage to U2. A wonderful ballad complete with gentle guitar chords and a rousing chorus.

‘Move to Memphis’ returns in re-recorded form following it’s debut on the 1991 greatest hits collection, “Headlines and Deadlines”. More guitar based, and funky in vocal delivery, it grips in much the same way as it did two year previous. In some ways, a ground-breaking recording for the band’s new style.

Nick Cave meets Bryan Ferry on the swooning ‘Cold as Stone’. For over 8 minutes Morten controls the vocal chords and delivers on what is a particularly absorbing cut. Subtlety of rhythm has never been a strong point for a-ha up till now, but they have it perfected on this album, maybe not more so than on this track.

Famously written by Pal for his wife, Lauren Savoy, ‘Angel in the Snow’ is maybe one of the weaker moments on the record, even if that is testament to the strength of the album overall! There is no doubt that there is a decidedly classic tune screaming to get out, but despite Harket’s best attempts, it just fails to make it as it should. Morten Harket was quoted as saying that it was a song that you “just want to hug”, and yeah, rather crazily it is.

‘Locust’ is probably one of the stand-out tracks. The gloomy, twin-peaks-esque sound is perfectly twinned with eerie, apocalyptic lyrics and visions. Once again, Morten understates his unique-range so as if to deservedly over-emphasise the music and lyrics more so than in the past. Brilliant stuff.

Following on from that, and probably every bit as impressive is ‘Lie Down in Darkness’. The contemporary groove shifts effortlessly from chorus to verse to discharge a powerful mid-tempo tune of some quality. ‘How Sweet it Was’ is another brilliantly arranged rock tune, a hard-edged verse and a beautifully rhythmic chorus backed exceptionally by tempered ivory notes.

Adding another writing credit to his collection, is keyboardist Magne Furuholmen who penned the atmospheric and downbeat ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’. Reminiscent of PJ Harvey or Radiohead, the tune is maybe not developed as well as it might have been, but still ranks as one of Magne’s best works.

Two very different tunes close off the record. The fun, but utter nonsense, of ‘Between Your Mama and Yourself’ certainly packs a cute little hook but you can slot the Graduate-inspired ditty alongside previous pop tunes like ‘Touchy’, ‘Maybe Maybe’ and ‘You Are the One’. Still nice to have something a little more loose on the album. The final track, the title track, is another splendid recording, a beautiful orchestra and piano-based dark ballad.

The fact that this CD was an utter flop in 1993 is a miserable reflection on the record buying public. This is A-ha’s most consistent record to date, and is packed full of superb, brilliantly arranged tunes, once again showcasing the exceptional song-writing talents of Pal Waaktaar. If this had been released by the band who so obviously inspired the opening track, Bono and Co would have been receiving plaudits across the board. Get this – it is essential A-ha.

4star