Born To Be Blue - Jack Bruce With John McLaughlin, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Jon Hiseman - Things We Lik
Label: Not On Label - GP0000546 • Format: CD Album, Unofficial Release • Country: Russia • Genre: Jazz, Rock • Style: Jazz-Rock
Jack Bruce was actually the most interesting one in Cream, though it was Eric Clapton who was God and Ginger Baker who any number of people used to tell me had only months or perhaps the length of one more drum solo left to live. Clapton became more fascinating as he aged, Ginger Baker survived Jon Hiseman - Things We Lik to become a crotchety old man making occasional interesting jazz albums, but Jack Bruce seemed never to be able to transfer the buzz of Cream into something more substantial.
It may be the classic story of a tremendous sideman who wasn't geared to be a superstar leader. He was Cream's lead singer, and a great one. He and Pete Brown were the primary song-writers.
But my guess is that Bruce, to himself, was always a bass player. And a bass player whose exceptional instincts were actually well off the mainstream that Cream mined so effectively.
They were released in that order but apparently Things was recorded first, while Bruce was actually still a part of Cream.
It's really a proto-fusion jazz album, with an experimental undertone; fine if you were listening to Coltrane's Impressions or Miles Davis at the time.
Songs For A Tailor came out in It's a challenging record; a couple of the cuts were intended for Cream's Disraeli Gears but turned down because they weren't commercial enough. But Bruce's vocals and sometimes Brown's lyrics keep them approachable. It lacked the hooks, though, which is why it wasn't a huge success. It probably would have done better had it followed Things, instead of come first. In he toured with a group including Carla Bley and Mick Taylor; a live recording of them turned up a few years ago.
But his drug problems helped derail all three groups. Bruce continued to make loads of music, and much of it was very good.
The friends are Billy Cobham on drums Bruce always attracted great drummers, which I think was an acknowledgement of his bass playingex-E Streeter David Sancious on keyboards, and Clemp Clempson from Colosseum and Humble Pie on guitar. It was odd seeing Cream's reunion concert; Bruce looked like a wee Scottish pensioner, looking older now than Baker. Clapton like Steve Winwood seems to have aged remarkably well. But his playing was certainly still there. I watched it, but really didn't want the shadows of memory.
Even then I went back to the originals. And to his own stuff. There's a power version on the Friends bootleg. Listen to it here RIP Jack Bruce.
My obituary of the pro wrestler Ox Baker is in today's Daily Telegraph; you can link to it online here. I over-wrote for the paper, and they edited it down adroitly, especially for an audience that didn't know Ox Baker, and indeed is unlikely to be interested in the minutiae of professional wrestling.
They also wouldn't know Bob Barker and The Price Is Right there was a British version on Sky very early in the satellite TV days, where the prizes were low-end things like pen and pencil sets, and everybody Jon Hiseman - Things We Lik a bit uncomfortable with the naked consumerism America loves but I thought Ox's breaking 'kayfabe' the wrestler's carny code for never admitting what is fake is fake was both charming and significant.
He never held those, or his other All She Wants Is - Various - 80s The Wave Number 1, for very long, as he was usually there to set up a big pay day when the local hero got his revenge. But rather than simply add the bits that were cut, you can read my original copy here.
As I say, the published version is probably much closer to what I should have written, but I look at this excess wordage as a small tribute to the Ox. After Ox gave stuntman Dick Warlock all he could handle in rehearsals, Warlock offered Russell just one piece of advice as filming started: 'good luck'. Standing six foot five and weighing 24 stones, his head shaved and eyebrows curled up like Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon, Various - Remezzo Μύκονος sporting a Fu Manchu moustache growing into massive free-form mutton chop sideburns, Baker certainly looked the part of a classic wrestling 'monster heel'.
Eschewing robes, he came to the ring in a simple white tee-shirt bearing a slogan, usually 'I Like To Hurt People', seemingly added to front in do-it-yourself iron-on lettering.
He was wearing such a shirt, Just The Two Of Us (Dr.
Evil Mix) - Various - Austin Powers - The Spy Who Shagged Me (Music From The 'Big, Mean and Ugly' when he appeared infresh from his film role, on the daytime television game show The Price Is Right. Although he tried to maintain wrestling's carnival code of staying in character, his good-humoured quipping with host Bob Barker, and his obvious delight at Born To Be Blue - Jack Bruce With John McLaughlin prizes he was winning, including a cooker, wall clock, and home stereo, revealed an almost cuddly gentle giant underneath the bluster.
It was as a gentle giant Ox broke into wrestling. Born Douglas Allen Baker 19 April in Sedalia, Missouri, he grew up Varius - I Califfi - Fiore Di Metallo Waterloo, Iowa, a successful high school athlete before being kicked out of school.
He joined the Army, where he played on gridiron teams which in that era were good enough to be scouted Jon Hiseman - Things We Lik the pros. But he was nearly 30, without a career, when he wandered into a wrestling promotion in Kansas City and asked for a tryout.
His early matches saw him playing another traditional wrestling role, the hillybilly simpleton, in coveralls and with thick glasses. His first match was against Gorilla Monsoon, their top 'monster heel', and watching Bob Morella as Monsoon Dick Heckstall-Smith Baker to turn heel. In those days wrestling was divided into many regional promotions, and rule-breaking monster heels were in demand to test local champions and generate ticket-buying 'heat' from the fans as their favourites got pummelled.
Ox chose the heart punch as his finishing move, although for a time he called it the 'hurt punch' because another wrestler, Stan 'the Man' Stasiak already claimed to be the master of the move. Three days after the match Torres died from what turned out to be a ruptured pancreas. With the customary ethics and good taste of the wrestling world, Baker claimed it was the result of his heart punch. A year later, Baker lost in Savannah, Georgia to Ray Gunkel, who died soon afterwards from a heart attack.
Although Baker's punch may have caused a blood clot, Gunkel suffered from extreme arteriosclerosis and the coroner ruled it a freak accident. Nevertheless, Ox again took 'credit' for the death, though in reality he worked behind to scenes to aid Gunkel's widow Ann in a fight for control of his promotion.
Baker could literally start riots by refusing to stop heart-punching an opponent when he was down on the canvas. He wrestled all over the world, from Japan to Nigeria, and in he briefly held the British Commonwealth crown in Auckland. He won numerous titles in the US in the s and early 80s, and helped a young wrestler billed as Paraiso - Various - Stereoptico Presents Boulder win his first title in Alabama.
Baker played a Russian wrestler in Blood Circusbut his acting range was somewhat limited. He moved to Connecticut and in married Peggy Ann Kawa, a professional clown. Neither has been released.
Peggy predeceased him in Jon Hiseman - Things We Lik film career was rejuvenated the following year by David Gere, a fan who cast him in an episode of a cable TV series, Chilling Visions and gave him a small part in Sensory Perception, with John Savage. He made his final appearance in the ring last year, winning a 13 man battle royal with a heart punch for a small promotion in Ohio.
With his health failing he still managed to shoot a cameo role for Gere's latest film Pinwheel. He died a week later, on 20 Octoberin Hartford, Connecticut. The cause of death was a heart attack. It does it by showing very little but implying a lot. Ju is a pretty teenaged girl running late. She's snappy with her harried mother, she's distracted by text messages, and she's more interested in flirting with her tennis coach than actually having a lesson. On the face of it just a brief slice of a day in her life.
But as Felipe, the coach, ignores the flirting and implores Ju to concentrate on her lesson, she runs off to the toilets. But she stops along the way, contemplating yet another call on her mobile, and for an instant rubs her belly. We think back; the film opens with a shot of an empty corridor in the family's apartment; Ju eventually emerges from the loo. She skips eating, she ignores her mother and her godmother, and on the way out she barely has time for her friend, or her boyfriend who has been texting.
This film works like a quiet short story; I thought of Dick Heckstall-Smith Munro, which might be too Born To Be Blue - Jack Bruce With John McLaughlin praise, but the tone is perfect because its quiet, and the bleakness of the ending, contrasts with Ju's young hormonal energy. Bianca Melo is perfect as Ju, while Gabriel Godoy as Felipe is simply playing normal, emphasizing her adolescent energy, and Renata de Paula as her mother does much the same with great tiredness.
Tennis Girl lingers with you, as a snapshot would, and by implying much more than it states, is very impressive indeed. Irresistible Targets seal of approval shows its influence again. I posted my review of Leviathan yesterday afternoon; last night an email from the LFF informed me that it had been chosen best film in the Festival. Right now I'd say it quite likely was the best film I've seen so far, and it's combination of a big theme with moving and amusing personal stories will probably make it a favourite for the best foreign film Oscar come the spring.
Labels: LeviathanLondon Film Festival. Leviathan is a Russian film that at times feels like a 19 th century Russian novel; it's also a tightly-focused story about political corruption that at times feels almost epic. I saw it Dick Heckstall-Smith after The Drop in this year's London Film Festival, and there are some similarities between the two: both are stories of people struggling with lives of quiet repetition, badly-paid work and a lack of control in the face of more powerful forces.
They both also have a sense of failed religion about them, but there is a difference, because in Leviathan the church's presence is far more overt and the corruption is engrained throughout society. Kolya is a handyman and mechanic who's built his own house overlooking his hometown on the northern Kola peninsula, near Murmansk. But the town mayor, Vadim, wants the property for a redevelopment project, and Kolya's old army buddy Dimitri Dimawho's now a lawyer in Moscow, has shown up to help him, bearing a file of information about Vadim's shady dealings.
Meanwhile, Kolya's first wife died, and his Dick Heckstall-Smith Roma doesn't like his stepmother, Lilya. Kolya's life is an erratic dance between pain and pleasure.
He and his friends, a couple of traffic cops, drink, smoke, drink, eat pickles, drink, shoot, and drink to excess. Alexey Serebryakov conveys the necessary facade of bluster with an endearing sensitivity; I could swear I was watching Victor the Ape, one of my drivers at the Moscow Olympics, as we got drunk on vodka and ate sour berries in As his nemesis, Vadim, Roman Madyanov is perfect, a mix of more effective bluster, feral cunning, and short-tempered violence which is contrasted with his public piety with the Orthodox bishop who is his confessor.
Vladimir Vdovitchenkov as Dimitri is a sort of Russian Belmondo, a figure of some glamour, which helps explain the tension which boils over between him and Lilya. As Lilya, Elena Lyadova steals almost every scene she is in, even as she Born To Be Blue - Jack Bruce With John McLaughlin to disappear into the background.
And just as in classic Russian novels, it is a small personal event that triggers the resolution of the bigger tale. Director Andrey Zvyagintsev keeps a firm hand on this, and at times his portrayal of ordinary Russians fighting the system and taking their small pleasures it allows is both funny and touching. And it's tragic. The landscape of Kola, icy water, bare rocky hills, seems almost a character itself; one wonders what could be built on the land Vadim covets.
And the landscape is littered with loss; the skeletons of Schneewalzer - Alfons Zitz Und Der Bergsteiger-Chor - Wenn Ich Auf Hohen Bergen Steh and a beached whale speak of desolation, and the latter is referenced when a priest talks about the story of Job. Kolya is a Job figure, but unlike Vadim he has no faith, no church, on which to fall back.
The original story may have been inspired by a fight against eminent domain in Colorado, but it's a different, very Russian fight here, just as there is none of the organised violence that marks Heinrich Von Kliest's Michael Kohlhaas, another scource for this screenplay, and itself based on a true 16 th century story.
Zvyagintsev and Oleg Negin won the best screenplay award at Cannes this year see photo, from left: Madyanov, Vdovitchenkov, Lyadova, Zvyagintsevand Leviathan will be the official Russian entry at the Jon Hiseman - Things We Lik Awards. At times the religious underpinnings at first seem a bit heavy handed, wearing the hypocritical moralising on its sleeve, but there is a twist at the end that brings the sense of it home powerfully.
Ding Dong - Freddie Bell And The Bellboys* - Ding Dong / I Said It And Im Glad, Deeper Shade Of Blue - Steps - Gold - Greatest Hits, Ой Сонечко, Сонечко - Various - Українська Естрада, Nagie Anioły - Various - Mega Power Dance, Orion - Metallica - Master Of Puppets (File, Album)