Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Butthole Surfers live at the Glasgow ABC

This is the first time that the Butthole Surfers have played in Glasgow in a very long time. I started listening to them in first year at secondary school (around 1989) when I was given a mix tape by an older kid. The tape started with Jimi and it scared the shit out of me. I was actually afraid of the song. I thought it was bad.

Within a year or two I bought every Butthole Surfers record that I could lay my hands on. Glasgow had lots of good second hand record shops and I was able to pick up most of their LPs in missing records for 3 quid a pop. I loved them.

Somehow I never thought I was doing to see them live. They sold out with Independent Worm Saloon and Electriclarryland so I wasn't too bothered about it. Thye true spirit of the Butthole Surfers was gone.

Recent years have been great for indie rock fans in Glasgow. Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth, Slint, My Bloody Valentine and now the Butthole Surfers in their classic '80s line-up.

The ABC is a great venue. I had seen Desalvo, a local noise rock band who sound like the Jesus Lizard play here before. Their set was ok but nothing special.

Things started to get fucked up with the second support band, Paul Green School of Rock. This band is basically a bunch of musically gifted adolescents playing rock classics like Whole Lotta Rosie and Immigrant Song. It was very much like a talent show. They were good but it just seemed really inappropriate for a Butthole Surfers show. Things got worse.

I didn't know what to expect from the crowd. I've not met many other Butthole Surfers fans in the past and after the gig I don't think I have much in common with them. Most of them were greebos for want of a better word. The average age was about 35 to 40. It could have been a Levellers gig.

The Buttholes opened with 22 going on 23 from Locust Abortion Technician. It's a disturbing song but it sounded great. Most of the set was from their earlier albums. We got stuff like I saw an x-ray of a girl passing gas, moving to florida, John E Smoke and human cannonball. They didn't play any of the later, more commercial stuff. My personal favouite bit was a version of Sweat Loaf with extra guitarists from the school of rock high kicking as they played the grinding Sabbath riff. (Sweat Loaf is very similar to Sweet Leaf by Black Sabbath and was sampled by Orbital for their Satan single). They played a version of Jimi and closed with The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey's Grave. The set ended with feedback and destruction as the kids from the school of rock trashed the stage and fought with each other. It was anarchic but fun.

The whole night was surreal. My mates had never really listened to the Buttholes but they enjoyed themselves. The visuals for the gig were great with back projected random disturbing video footage (porn, '60s Batman, horror films, buildings collapsing, explosions, Snoopy cartoons) and lots of strobe lighting. The School of Rock just made things even more weird.

See the Butthole Surfers if you like unusual stuff.

Check out

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Harol and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay - film review

I loved the first Harold and Kumar film. I have a soft spot for juvenile comedy and Harold and Kumar certainly hit the mark.

Harold and Kumar are two American university graduates who share a flat. Harold is straight-laced whilst Kumar is an intelligent stoner who leads his friend astray. In the new film (which leads on from the first) the two friends board a plane to Amsterdam to meet the woman of Harolds' dream. Kumar manages to mess things up and they are sent to Guantanamo Bay on terrorism charges.

The jokes are offensive but I liked it. Some good tunes are on the the soundtrack. Check out the link below for Mickey Avalon

Y the Last Man

Y the Last Man is a comic book by Brian K Vaughan and Pia Guerra. It ran for 60 issues and is available as a series of 10 softcover tradepaperbacks. I'm pretty sure that hardcover bookshelf editions will become available in due course. You can buy it on Amazon or in Waterstones.

Y the Last Man is a comic book that might be interesting for people who are bored by the idea of dayglo superheroes. The story revolves around Yorick who is the last living man on earth. A strange disease has killed every male mammal except Yorrick and Ampersand his pet monkey. Yorrick is the only man on a planet of 3 Billion women. Unfortunately his girlfriend is in Australia, on the other side of the world.

Without men, the world descends into anarchy. Everyone wants a piece of Yorick and he is under pressure to continue the human race. This is not really a good thing for him.

I just finished reading the series last week. It's not the best comic I've ever read but it is pretty good. Well worth picking up, even if you don't usually read comics.

Hancock - film review

I like Will Smith. I used to watch the Fresh Prince of Bel Air after school and Men in Black was a great film. He has been in some shit too. Despite being a fan of boxing I've done my best to avoid Ali. I just think it would make me sad.

I'm glad I saw Hancock in the cinema. In many ways it's a big, dumb action blockbuster. Smith plays Hancock, an angry, alcoholic superhero who is hated by the general public. He is hungover and unkempt but he still tries to save people. Unfortunately his heroics always result in a large amount of collateral damage.

The first part of the film is funny with some great special effects. All you want from a big, stupid summer blockbuster. Then Hancock throws you a curveball about 2/3 of the way through and changes into a different sort of film. The end of the film is a bit like Unbreakable.

I liked it and I'm glad I saw it in the cinema. It might not be as much fun if you're not a comic-book nerd but it's still worth seeing.

Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda is OK. It's not the best animated film I've ever seen but some of the fight sequences are amazing and I laughed at bits of it. Rent the DVD but don't rush to see it in the cinema.

Trailer for the Watchmen movie

I just saw the trailer for the Watchmen movie on the internet and it looks good. Shitty goth music on the soundtrack.


It's also kinda funny that Alan Moore is not mentioned anywhere on the website.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Stranger and stranger - The world of Steve Ditko by Blake Bell

Steve Ditko should have been a very rich man. He co-created Spider-Man with Stan Lee. He also did definitive work on Dr Strange at the same time. He created most of the famous villains that have appeared in Spider-Man stories over the past 45 years and he helped shape the character into the interesting and conflicted personality that has made millions of dollars at cinemas world wide.

Sadly, real life has been less kind to Ditko and he spent much of his career working in bad conditions and being ripped off by the comics industry. He has been very principled in his professional life due to his belief in the right-wing philosophy of objectivism created by Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Foutainhead. Ditko seemed to have a very polarised, black and white view of the world and he would not compromise in his artistic work. This meant that he would often walk away from good jobs and fight with fellow artists.

Strange and Stranger by Blake Bell is a great book. It showcases Ditko's art and tells his story. While I don't agree with many of the ideas that Ditko this biography is a great, quick read. I would love to read some of the original comic strips about Mr A, probably Ditko's ultimate creation. The character was basically a fascist vigilante who saw life in term of pure good and pure evil. Alan Moore has been quoted as saying that Mr A was an influence on the character of Rorschach in the Watchmen book. The human element of Ditko's life and his struggle with ill-health dut to TB is also pretty interesting.

Ditko is a private man and rejects media contact. He is over 80 years old and he may even be dead now. Last year Johnathan Ross made an excellent documentary about Ditko for BBC 4 called In Search of Steve Ditko. Ross (in partnership with Neil Gaiman) managed to track Ditko down and talk to him but Ditko refused to be photographed or interviewed. See for more of that story.

Strange and Stranger is a great book for comic nerds. It gives a brief picture of a creative artist but we are left with many unanswered questions.

For more try the following websites -

The original art for the first ever Spider-Man comic was recently donated the the Library of Congess in America

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Read yourself RAW - a website about comics

I just found a pretty good website about the more thought-provoking and interesting comics that are out there.

The address is

worth reading

Thursday, July 03, 2008

My Bloody Valentine live at the Glasgow Barrowlands.

The past couple of years have been heaven for lovers of noise rock. All the big names of my teenage years have got back together to play a few gigs and put the kids through private school. My Bloody Valentine have done very little as a group for the past 15 years or so. Their masterwork Loveless came out in 1991 and apart from a handful of tracks we have heard nothing else.

At the first of two nights at the Barrowlands they were supported by another, albiet smaller, indie legend. The Pastels. Steven Pastel, the singer and band leader runs monorail records in kings court, Glasgow. It's the best record shop in Glasgow and you should all go there. It's aslo a concert venue, vegetarian cafe and bar. See for a bit more about the shop. The Pastels were ok tonight, but not outstanding. They sound a little like the soundtrack to a French art film. The line-up was filled out by Gerry Love from Teenage Fanclub on Guitar but they were never going to compete with the noise monster that is My Bloody Valentine.

The crowd was a mixed bag. The average punter was probably in their mid-30s. There were plenty of old goths and indie kids. Everybody was too-cool-for-school as you would expect at a gig like this.

From the first note MBV were loud. I made use of my free earplugs. The sound was pretty close to that of the vinyl. The set drew from Isn't Anything, Loveless and the Creation eps. My favourite track was probably soon although you made me realise was amazing. They played the one-note bridge for 21 minutes. It may be the loudest thing that I've ever heard. It was a visceral sensation like standing in a waterfall or being blown about by the wind. The sound felt like how you would imagine being on fire in the sun would be. In a good way. I'm sorry, I'm not toogood with words.

The set finished with You Made Me Realise. Most people were smiling during the 'chord of death' and I loved it although my ears were ringing a bit as I walked home. I'd love to see them again, I'll be buying the upcoming remastered editions of the back catalogue and I hope they do some good music. I like to imagine that I can understand Kevin Shields predicament a bit. How would you follow Loveless? How do you improve on perfection?