CD release day – today Madonna, Boris, and Portishead released CDs. I went to meet my friend Roger for lunch, so on the way back I bought Portishead’s new disc, “P3.” Yay. Got home, ate dinner, played guitar with Zen for a while, then he went to sleep at 9:00. I only read two paragraphs of Harry Potter and he was already snoozing. What a lovely boy.

CD review: 

Portishead – P3: I loved Dummy, that first Portishead. It really takes me to a special place. When I heard that the band was releasing a new album after 10 years of silence, I was immediately intrigued. Yay, Portishead, had to pick this up the day it was released – anything to hear a bit more of Beth Gibbons’ voice… The first listen to the album at work I wasn’t so impressed, but that could be because of the environment (no comment). The first song starts off with some sample of a Spanish radio DJ saying something I can’t understand. The song, “Silence,” starts off with fast-paced drums and guitara chords and some keyboard. Lovely feedback, very soundtrack-y. Two minutes into the song Beth’s voice comes in. Lovely. For some reason the song ends very abruptly. “Hunter” is very mellow, has nice feedback guitars in it. Songs become soundtrack, then there’s “The Rip”, which sounds like the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses” as re-interpreted by Daft Punk, or perhaps Tangerine Dream. Nice stuff. Lots of snazzy drumming. “We Carry On” has Moog organs, trumpets, and Sonic Youth guitar wrangling, it is one of the more “challenging” tracks on the album. Yes, the beats are definitely a lot harder, sort of industrial compared to the old shuffle beat of “Dummy.” Challenging, indeed.

Movie review: 


Iron Man – I could already tell this movie would be a lot of fun from the trailer, but I was surprised just how good it really was.  This could easily be one of my favourite Marvel Comics movies, better even than Spiderman or X-Men (forget Daredevil or Electra).  Robert Downey Jr. is the perfect casting choice, a la Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.  Marvel movies are usually well casted anyway, with the exception of Toby Maguire as Spiderman (he’s popular, but I’m of the opinion that James Franco would have been better as the image of Peter Parker from the comics) and Daredevil.  Jon Favreau, the brilliant writer of Swingers, clearly has as much fun with the character as Sam Raimi has with Spiderman, and Tony Stark is very well fleshed-out and real.  Comparisons would abound with Batman – both were born rich, have reputations as playboys, lost their parents, head giant corporations, have no super powers of their own but are good at stocking up on useful gadgets -  but this film is better than any of the Batman flicks for my money.  Great background story of how Stark became Iron Man, and also a fantastic technology sequence where Stark is perfecting his machine.  The battle at the end is not bad, although not as cool as the fight scenes in Matrix 2, and the movie has the best ending/closing line of any movie in recent memory.  I also loved the use of the song “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath in the closing credits of the film, spot on.  That is now also Zen’s favourite Black Sabbath song.
DVD review: 
The Early Years

Iron Maiden: The Early Years (DVD) – I read online how good this was. When I found it in my local CD shop, my curiosity got the better of me and I bought it. Five hours of early Maiden, great great great. I watched snatches of it late into Monday night and it was fascinating. Iron Maiden’s two main guitarists, Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, are magicians and really awesome to watch. When I was a kid, I loved listening to this stuff; as an adult, I have to admit that I still love listening to this stuff, but now I love watching it just as much! I’d never seen the band play. Dave Murray always plays a black Fender Stratocaster just like the one I have, and Adrian Smith sometimes also plays a Les Paul like I have (although he’s probably playing a top notch version, while mine is an el-cheapo Epiphone Les Paul Studio). Paul DiAnno is an awesome frontman, and I love his voice, although the studded wristlets are a bit much. Bruce Dickenson, while a very intelligent person with a great voice, is a bit of a cheezy showman, and his outfits are a bit cheezy with the red tights (Steve Murray also seems to favour tights). Well, they make great music, forgive them their fashion faux pas. The documentary on the second disc is really good fun, it looks like Steve Murray managed to get a dozen ex-Iron Maiden members down to the pub one afternoon and interviewed them one by one while the others hung about. That’s interspliced with pics and live clips to put it in context, but it only backs up the impression that it’s impossible to think of Iron Maiden without thinking about – love him or hate him – Steve Harris. Sure, why not, he started the band, and has been the only one who has been with it throughout, and he seems to write most of the songs as well.

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