Various Artists – Metropolis

This week’s movie soundtrack comes direct from 1984, while the original movie was released all the way back in 1926. As a huge fan of the original film, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this album – on the one hand it’s the legendary Metropolis, with a soundtrack by the legendary Giorgio Moroder. On the other hand, it is pretty awful. But I haven’t actually seen this version of the film, so I can only really judge the soundtrack on its own merits.

First up is Freddie Mercury delivering a typically lively performance on Love Kills, which also sees Giorgio Moroder excelling himself with an enormous 1980s backing track. It doesn’t always quite seem to complement Mercury’s vocal, but by and large it works. Whether or not you think it’s any good will probably depend on how you feel about the performers, but however you look at it, this is a pretty strong opening track.

Next we get Pat Benatar to perform a pretty poor song called Here’s My Heart. Although written and mixed by Moroder, he doesn’t seem to have had much a say on this particular track unfortunately. Jon Anderson (of And Vangelis fame) turns up after that for the entirely competent Cage of Freedom, followed by Cycle V with Blood from a Stone.

Without having seen it, it’s difficult to even begin to imagine how this might have sounded as the actual accompaniment to the film. At times you wonder how it ever could have worked, but at others it’s rather more clear, such as the pleasant instrumental The Legend of Babel, which closes side A. But even in its better moments, it is, unfortunately, extremely dated. It might well be only thirty years since its release, but it sounds like considerably more.

Side B opens with Bonnie Tyler, whose heart seems to have recovered to the degree that she can deliver Here She Comes with some degree of flair. It doesn’t help hugely – it’s a pretty poor song, but she’s doing her best.

Slightly better, but still very much a 1980s power ballad is Destruction by Loverboy. You can almost see them making silly faces on Top of the Pops when you listen to this. Was it just that Moroder’s sound was so defining of the early eighties, or did he go out of his way to make this album sound as dated as possible? It’s difficult to be sure.

The later tracks don’t really help matters, as Billy Squier and Adam Ant do their level best with On Your Own and What’s Going On, but neither really achieves a huge amount unfortunately. Finally, Moroder turns up again for another instrumental, Machines, which this time proves just to be a bit of fairly aimless synth noodling.

I’ll watch it one day, but for all I know the Giorgio Moroder version of Metropolis may work extremely well. It is, however, difficult to see how this album might reach its sixtieth birthday and stand the test of time anywhere near as well as the film had when it was released in this form. Best avoided.

The 1999 reissue of Metropolis still seems to be available from major retailers, such as here. You can find the DVD of this version here.

The BPI Awards 1986

Noel Edmonds was at the helm on February 10th 1986 at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. The BRIT Awards official website proudly tells us that Norman Tebbitt‘s appearance to present the Outstanding Contribution award brought “the first hint of official recognition.” Others might argue it signed a death warrant for the awards, but there we go.

This post is part of a series about the history of the BRIT Awards. You can read about the 1985 ceremony here, and the 1987 ceremony here.

Best British Album

Presented by Daryl Hall. Nominees:

  • Kate Bush – Hounds of Love
  • Phil Collins – No Jacket Required
  • Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms
  • Eurythmics – Be Yourself Tonight
  • Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair

Winner: Phil Collins

Best British Female

Presented by Paul Young. Nominees:

  • Kate Bush
  • Annie Lennox
  • Alison Moyet
  • Sade
  • Bonnie Tyler

Winner: Annie Lennox

Best British Group

Presented by Joan Armatrading. Nominees:

  • Dire Straits
  • Eurythmics
  • Simple Minds
  • Tears for Fears
  • U2

Winner: Dire Straits

Best British Male

Presented by Alison Moyet. Nominees:

  • Phil Collins
  • Elton John
  • Sting
  • Midge Ure
  • Paul Young

Winner: Phil Collins

Best British Newcomer

Voted for by listeners of BBC Radio 1. Presented by Gary Davies.

Winner: Go West

Best British Producer

Presented by Howard Jones. Nominees:

  • Trevor Horn
  • Chris Hughes
  • Steve Lilywhite
  • David A. Stewart
  • Hugh Padgham

Winner: David A. Stewart

Best British Single

Presented by Roger Daltry. Nominees:

  • David Bowie and Mick Jagger – Dancing in the Street
  • Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill
  • Dire Straits – Money for Nothing
  • Paul Hardcastle – Nineteen
  • Tears for Fears – Everybody Wants to Rule the World

Winner: Tears for Fears

Best British Video

Nominees:

  • David Bowie and Mick Jagger – Dancing in the Street
  • Dire Straits – Money for Nothing
  • Paul Young – Every Time You Go Away

Winner: Paul Young

Best Classical Recording

Presented by Sir Georg Solti. Nominees:

  • Vernon Handley – Violin Concerto – Elgar
  • Julian Lloyd Webber – Cello Concerto – Haydn
  • Trevor Pinnock – Cannon and Gigue – Pachelbel
  • John Rutter – Requiem – Faure
  • Sir Georg Solti – Messiah – Handel – Chicago

Winner: Vernon Handley

Best International Group

Presented by Elton John. Nominees:

  • The Cars
  • Huey Lewis and The News
  • Kool and The Gang
  • Talking Heads
  • ZZ Top

Winner: Huey Lewis and The News

Best International Solo Artist

Presented by Midge Ure from Ultravox. Nominees:

  • Madonna
  • Lionel Richie
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Tina Turner
  • Stevie Wonder

Winner: Bruce Springsteen

Outstanding Contribution

Presented by Norman Tebbitt.

Winners: Wham! and Elton John

Special Award

Winner: Bob Geldof

Performances

Further Reading / Viewing

The British Record Industry Awards 1984

On February 21st 1984, Tim Rice was standing on stage at the Grosvenor House Hotel, about to introduce the fourth BRIT Awards. This post is part of a series about the history of the BRIT Awards. You can read about the 1983 ceremony here, and the 1985 ceremony here.

Best British Female

Nominees:

  • Annie Lennox
  • Alison Moyet
  • Bonnie Tyler
  • Tracey Ullman
  • Toyah Wilcox

Winner: Annie Lennox

Best British Group

Nominees:

  • Culture Club
  • Eurythmics
  • Madness
  • The Police
  • UB40

Winner: Culture Club

Best British Male

Nominees:

  • David Bowie
  • Elton John
  • Paul McCartney
  • Cliff Richard
  • Paul Young

Winner: David Bowie

Best British Newcomer

Nominees:

  • Big Country
  • Howard Jones
  • Tracey Ullman
  • Wham!
  • Paul Young

Winner: Paul Young

Best British Producer

Nominees:

  • Peter Collins
  • Trevor Horn
  • Langer and Winstanley
  • Steve Levine
  • Steve Lilywhite

Winner: Steve Levine

Best British Single

Winner: Culture ClubKarma Chameleon

Best Classical Recording

Nominees:

  • Kiri Te Kanawa – Songs of the Auvergne
  • Puccini – La Rondine
  • Simon Rattle – War Requiem – Britten
  • Tippett – Triple Concerto
  • Trevor Pinnock – Water Music – Handel

Winner: Kiri Te Kanawa

Best Comedy Record

Winner: Neil

Best International Artist

Nominees:

  • Darryl Hall and John Oates
  • Michael Jackson
  • Billy Joel
  • Men at Work
  • Lionel Richie

Winner: Michael Jackson

Best Selling Album

Winner: Michael JacksonThriller

Best Soundtrack / Cast Recording

Winner: Prince – Purple Rain

Outstanding Contribution

Winner: George Martin

Sony Trophy for Technical Excellence

Winner: Spandau Ballet

Performances

Further Reading / Viewing

Edit: fix links (6 January 2018).

Eurovision Song Contest 2013

It’s a little bit tricky to know what to say about this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, as I haven’t actually seen it yet. To tell the truth, the chances are I’m unlikely to, as it’s not really the kind of thing you want to watch except on the night.

Anyway – here are a couple of highlights and observations. What were yours?

 

More than just fjords and rollmops

The Norwegian entry was performed by former Pop Idolstars Factor – The Rivals contestant Margaret Berger, who has been responsible for some great songs in the past, so inevitably it was going to be pretty good. It fought its way to fourth place:

 

Old Blighty

Despite their best efforts bringing back Bonnie TylerEngelbert Humperdinck and Blue from the dead, Britain still hasn’t been anywhere near the top for over a decade. They’ve even managed to finish in the bottom three an alarming number of times. This year Britain snuck a few points out of friends Malta and Ireland, as well as Spain, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia and Switzerland.

 

Trouble in the Caucasus

So what exactly happened in Azerbaijan? Did they really bribe people in Lithuania for their votes? Did a load of people really vote for Russia and then have their votes annulled? The suggestion seems to be that a number of very fishy things happened in the Caucasus this year, but you do have to wonder slightly how likely that is. Why would anybody go to that much effort to sabotage a song contest?

Well, they did manage second place in the end, so maybe.

 

Through Hell and high water

There are always suggestions of block voting. Russia, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine all have plenty of neighbours, so by that argument it’s not surprising that they did so well again.

But it didn’t work so well for Armenia, Georgia, Estonia, or any of the other large countries languishing near the bottom of the table. They voted for one another, sure. But perhaps it’s got more to do with their cultures having a little more in common than some of the others.

And save a thought for France, who haven’t been anywhere near the top for a couple of decades now. None of their neighbours could be bothered voting for them. Although if they will insist on putting forward a song called Hell and Me, that may not be too surprising.

 

Returning to the top

Proof, perhaps, that your success isn’t solely dependent on your past performance. They haven’t been too close to a win for over a decade, and they even have to fight their way up through the semi-finals these days. This year’s winner came from Amelia of the Forest; the third ever win for Denmark:

British Record Industry Britannia Centenary Awards 1977

As a general rule, the further back you go in the history of what we now call the BRIT Awards, the harder it becomes to find information about them. And the 1977 ceremony was the very first of the lot, so sure enough finding information about the awards is nigh on impossible. This post is going to be relatively short.

But it needs to be done, so let’s cast ourselves back a long way into the past, right back to October 18th 1977. Michael Aspel is our host, and the venue is Wembley Conference Centre, London.

The event was a celebration of music, but it was also timed to celebrate two anniversaries – it was 100 years since Thomas Edison invented the sound recording, and also the Queen’s Silver Jubilee year. By coincidence, it was also almost exactly 25 years since the publication of the first UK chart, but it’s not clear to me whether anybody realised this at the time. Nominations were for the best music of the preceding 25 years, which is why they are a little eclectic in places, although for all of that, there’s a very definite 1970s bias.

Best British Album

Nominees:

  • Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)
  • Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells (1973)
  • The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
  • Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon (1973)

Winner: The Beatles.

Best British Female

Nominees:

  • Cleo Lane
  • Dusty Springfield
  • Shirley Bassey
  • Petula Clark

Jazz singer Dame Cleo Lane is probably the least famous of the bunch. Despite managing a couple of hit singles in the 1960s, she must have been a lot more popular with “the industry” than the public! Or maybe not…

Winner: Shirley Bassey.

Best British Female Newcomer

Nominees:

  • Bonnie Tyler
  • Julie Covington

Julie, of course, had the honour of recording the original version of Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, which had hit number one in February 1977. An album would follow in 1978, and then she returned to the theatre.

Winner: Julie Covington.

Best British Group

Rather predictable nominees:

  • The Beatles
  • Pink Floyd
  • Rolling Stones
  • The Who

Winner: The Beatles. Who would have thought it?

Best British Male

Another predictable bunch:

  • Cliff Richard
  • Elton John
  • Rod Stewart
  • Tom Jones

Winner: Cliff Richard.

Best British Male Newcomer

Nominees:

  • Graham Parker
  • Heatwave

Here’s an interesting pair. Graham Parker wouldn’t release any solo material until 1979, and so we have to assume that the nomination was for his work with The Rumour, which had included hit singles with Hold Back the Night and Sweet on You earlier in 1977. He would carry on recording for a long time after, but never managed to regain his initial success.

Heatwave, on the other hand, had already had a number two hit with Boogie Nights, and would continue hitting the top twenty for the next three years. So who won?

Winner: Graham Parker. Hindsight, it seems, is a fine thing!

Best Comedy Recording

I’m assuming that’s what this award was for – The BRITs website lists it under the wrong category. Nominees:

  • Monty Python
  • Richard Burton & Cast
  • Tony Hancock

Winner: unfortunately history doesn’t record who won!

Best British Producer

Nominees:

  • George Martin
  • Glyn Johns
  • Gus Dudgeon
  • Mickie Most

As is normal with the Best Producer category, I’ve never heard of most of these, but I’m not proposing looking them up…

Winner: George Martin.

Best British Single

Nominees:

  • 10cc – I’m Not in Love (1975)
  • Procul Harum – Whiter Shade of Pale (1967)
  • Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody (1975)
  • The Beatles – She Loves You (1963)

Winner: a tie, shared by Procul Harum

… and Queen.

Best Classical Recording

Nominees:

  • Janet Baker – Das Lied von der Erde
  • John Williams – Guitar Concerto – Rodrigo

Winner: again, history doesn’t record who won this!

Best International Pop Album

Nominees:

  • Abba – Arrival (1976)
  • Carole King – Tapestry (1971)
  • Simon & Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
  • Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life (1976)

Winner: Simon & Garfunkel.

Best International Pop Single

Nominees:

  • Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock (1957)
  • Frank Sinatra – My Way (1969)
  • Ike & Tina Turner – River Deep, Mountain High (1966)
  • Simon & Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)

Elvis, of course, had only passed away a couple of months prior to this ceremony.

Winner: unknown.

Best Orchestral Album

Nominees:

  • Oliver Knussen – War Requiem
  • Otto Klemperer – Beethoven Symphonies
  • Sir Adrian Boult – The Planet Suite
  • Sir Georg Solti – Wagner Ring Cycle

Otto Klemperer is my favourite, mainly because he wouldn’t have looked out of place in a silent movie. Actually, since he was born in 1885, he probably was in one.

Winner: unknown.

Outstanding Contribution

Joint winners: The Beatles and L.G. Wood.

The story of L.G. Wood is sadly forgotten in the internet age (OK, he isn’t on Wikipedia), but the BRITs website describes him as “a remarkable figure”. He was chairman of the BPI and EMI in 1977, and was apparently the person who originally signed The Beatles.

Performances

  • Cliff Richard – Miss You Nights
  • George Martin – A Hard Day’s Night
  • Julie Covington – Only Women Bleed
  • Procul Harum – Whiter Shade of Pale
  • Simon & Garfunkel – Old Friends

Further Reading / Viewing