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Portland Bill Lighthouse is a functioning lighthouse on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, England, and is located at the very south of the island, warning coastal traffic off of Portland Bill. The lighthouse and its boundary walls are Grade II Listed and have been since May 1993. Living on the island from the age of four until eleven, the lighthouse, being one of Portland's biggest attractions, was naturally something I would visit very often. I have memories of visiting mostly with family as me and my friends would prefer to stick to the Portland area of Underhill, near to Chesil Beach and therefore in walking distance to our homes. After we moved to Cornwall in 2005, I would visit Portland every now and then but most times, visiting Portland Bill was not possible as buses only tend to run there and back in the Summer, and only once an hour. Seeing the lighthouse again for the first time in a good while was back in December 2010 when I stayed at Portland, and since then a visit has been essential each time I'm in the area.
~~~Background and History~~~
As Portland's largest and most recent lighthouse, the Trinity House operated Portland Bill Lighthouse is distinctively white and red striped, standing at a height of 41 metres (135 ft). It was completed by 1906 and first shone out on 11 January 1906.
Both Portland Bill and Chesil Beach are the locations of many wrecks of vessels that failed to reach Weymouth or Portland Roads. Portland Bill Lighthouse guides vessels heading for Portland and Weymouth through these hazardous waters as well as acting as a waymark for ships navigating the English Channel. The rocky promontory of Portland Bill has often been regarded as one of the greatest navigational hazards in the Channel. A treacherous race, which can run at 10 knots in spring tidal streams, are created as tide and current clash as they round it. The dangers are worsened by the Shambles, which is a two mile long sandbank that lies south-east of Portland Bill and whose depth reaches a mere 11 feet in two places at low tide. It is likely that the Romans would light beacon fires on Branscombe Hill above Bill Point to warn sailors, as well as on Verne Hill, but the lack of local fuel prevented any regular light being established. Ancient fires probably served more as signals than as general lights. As a result the island coast has been the graveyard of countless ships from the earliest times, before any lighthouses were built.
Originally, both the Old Higher Lighthouse and Old Lower Lighthouse were the two functioning lighthouses on the island (also in Portland Bill area), where both were opened in 1716 and continued to warn ships of the coast until 1906, when both were decommissioned.
On 17 June 1903, Messrs J. Lano, H. Sansom, R. Pearce, F. J. Barnes, and Robert White appointed a Committee by a meeting of Commoners to treat with the Corporation of Trinity House for the acquisition of one acre, 66 poles of land at the Bill, for a new lighthouse. The group met in the George Inn to discuss plans for the new lighthouse. The Higher and Lower Lighthouses could not be adapted to take on the latest apparatus, and so Trinity House made plans to build a single lighthouse on Bill Point. However this was common land and so compensation had to be paid for the loss of the local people's common rights. By October that year an agreement was reached and a convoy of contactors' carts and traction engines made their way along the rough road to the remote tip of Portland Bill to start work. The Lighthouse's foundations were dug deep into the rock, and the stone was quarried almost on the spot. The lighthouse was built with stone from surrounding quarries at Portland Bill. The area was quarried for centuries until they were abandoned by the early years of the 20th century, following the lighthouse's construction.
By mid-1905 the builders, Wakeham Bros of Plymouth, had completed the high masonry tower, when Chance & Co of Birmingham arrived to hoist their great lantern to the top. The revolving lenses floating on a bath of mercury were designed to send a two and a half metre candlepower beam (from a vapourised oil burner) 18 miles on a clear night. As the scaffolding was taken down, the stonework was rendered, and the whole was painted in bright red and white livery, which has remained the tourist symbol of Portland ever since. The new lighthouse cost a total of £13,000. Lighthouse keepers Taylor and Comben moved house from the old Lower Light and they lit the new lamp for the first time on 11 January 1906. A year after the construction of the lighthouse, the contractors Wakeham Brothers erected the Clock Tower of Easton Gardens on Portland. The Old Lower Lighthouse became a bird observatory in the 1960s whilst the Old Higher Lighthouse became the home of Marie Stopes in the 1920s, and today remains a holiday let.
Portland struggled without mains electricity until 1930. Since the turn of the century the Council had resisted all competition to its gas works, hoping that one day it would pay its way. The resistance could be held no longer, and an agreement was made to lay on an electric supply generated at Weymouth. In the £25,000 scheme Underhill and Easton were first to be switched on, on 1 July 1930, and two years later the cables were extended to Weston and Southwell, then the Grove. However Portland Bill and the Lighthouse had to wait until 1938. The lighthouse was swathed in scaffolding and polythene when undergoing a facelift during 1990. One of the old lamp holders from Portland Bill Lighthouse can be seen at Portland Museum, which is found in the village of Wakeham, close to Church Ope Cove.
~~~Lamp and Fog Signal~~~
The lighthouse was de-manned on 18th March 1996, and all monitoring and control of the station was transferred to the Trinity House Operations & Planning Centre in Harwich. Portland Bill Lighthouse uses a 1 Kw Mbi lamp and 4 Panel 1St Order Catadioptric Fixed Lens. The light flashes four times every 20 seconds and has an intensity of 635,000 Candela, with a range of 25 nautical miles. Also having a fog signal for times of bad weather, the signal uses a four second blast every 30 seconds, with a range of 2 nautical miles. The Type F diaphone was decommissioned in 1996, but restored in 2003 for the benefit of visitors, where it is sounded every Sunday morning as an added attraction on the island but only used in foggy conditions if the lighthouse is out of operation. The present optic at the lighthouse is unusual due to the arrangement of the panels, where the character gradually changes from one flash to four flashes between the bearings 221°-224° and from four flashes to one flash between bearings 117°-141°.
Arguably Portland's biggest attraction and most photographed feature, the Portland Bill Lighthouse is open to the public, where tours are operated by Trinity House, and a visitor centre is also a big part of the lighthouse. The visitor centre is a joint project between The Crown Estate, The Corporation of Trinity House and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council. It was opened by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh KG KT on 14 July 1999. The tours of Portland Bill Lighthouse are organised by The Crown Estate under licence from the Corporation of Trinity House. Often lasting approximately 45 minutes, visitors are able to climb the 153 steps to the top of the lighthouse on a guided tour with a former Lighthouse Keeper, and view both the inside of the lighthouse and its lamp as well as the surrounding Portland coastline. The visitor centre is owned and operated independently from the actual tower lighthouse, and past occasions have seen the lighthouse closed to the public, whilst the centre would remain open. It opens from Easter to the end of September each year, and in 2007 was reported to receive 300,000 visitors a year. The centre features various displays which provides insight and introduction into Portland's environment & heritage - ranging from geology, Portland stone and the Jurassic Coast. It also features a shop which stocks various souvenirs. The nearby Trinity House Obelisk and Pulpit Rock are also popular attractions in the area. The lighthouse received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2013.
The first time I went up the lighthouse was for my younger brother's birthday when I must have been about 10 years old, if not a little earlier. Although I must admit I don't remember much about the trip, I do remember the excitement of being able to get right to the top of the lighthouse. Once we moved from Portland though, I found it difficult to visit Portland Bill whenever I returned for a day visit to the island. The main problem was that buses would only run to the Bill during the peak summer season, and on top of that it was an hourly service so it would take enough time off of the day. One particular time I did visit was when a friends' father dropped us off there - only to find that the lighthouse was closed and the weather wasn't all that good.
After a trip to Portland in February 2009, I wouldn't visit the island again until December 2010, much to my dismay, as my father continued to promise trips to Dorset (usually for work) but nothing came of it. I decided to visit via train with my girlfriend at the time in December 2010 and stay overnight. We walked to the lighthouse, and from then on whenever I visited and saw friends, we'd walk out to the Bill. It was the following trip in April 2011 that allowed me to go up the lighthouse again for the first time in years. And seeing that I couldn't remember my original tour inside all those years ago, it was a perfect time to go up. Only costing a few quid each (I believe it was £4), the tour itself isn't guided, and instead you are trusted to successfully get up all those steps to the top. Usually at the top there is some member of staff who you can have a conversation with etc. The April 2011 visit wasn't on a particularly sunny day, but the view was crystal clear and it is amazing how much you can see high up. But it isn't just the view to look at, as you are standing next to the lighthouse's lamp - fascinating in its own right, and there a few information boards as you head up the lighthouse at little 'stopping points'. In fact, the entire lighthouse, and being inside it, is a great experience in such a location too. In recent times I've actually stayed at the Old Lower Lighthouse (a Bird Observatory) and the views from the top of that lighthouse are spectacular enough. With the main lighthouse though, the location is ideal and you are much higher up.
Then there is also the visitor centre on ground level. This centre is often open during the peak season, even if the lighthouse tours aren't operating (which is usually due to bad weather when the foghorn is live). The centre features various information boards and a few displays relating to the Bill area, and the dangerous coast that it has. There's also a few things for children in particular to enjoy involving drawing etc. The nice gift shop is also worth a browse as it holds various souvenirs, books, DVDs amongst many other items. Although I haven't been up the lighthouse since, I have been in the centre for a quick look as it doesn't cost anything to look around the centre's displays.
Aside from many other things to explore in the area, such as Pulpit Rock, the Trinity House Obelisk, and the Old Higher and Lower Lighthouses, there is also a small number of commercial business in the area. The Lobster Pot Restaurant lies close to the lighthouse, and was established in 1952. Including an indoor restaurant with seating for approximately 90 people, the restaurant also has outdoor seating and a gift shop. The Pulpit Inn overlooks the Bill area and is a family run public house, which also offers three rooms as accommodation. Public toilets are situated within the car park area too, which is right outside the lighthouse, so driving to the lighthouse is also easily done. Portland Bill can be walked from Southwell village and takes about 15 minutes at least. Buses used to run to the Bill only during the peak season and I expect this is still the same so having your own car is the best way of getting to the Bill, although the walk is great for taking in the views etc. You can also walk along the South West Coastal Path to get to the Bill and the Lighthouse - a much recommend walk along the west side of the island.
A visit to Portland Bill Lighthouse, and the Bill itself, is highly recommended if anyone has never done so before. There is plenty in the area and something for everyone to enjoy. The lighthouse's centre and tours are a good-priced and very worthy experience in a unique coastal location. The staff have always been very friendly and welcoming too. One of the great things about the bill is that going on a nice day is obviously the best choice, but if you happen to also go on a more windy, stormy day then the waves and overall atmosphere is quite amazing. Overall Portland Bill Lighthouse is a much recommended experience, boasting great views and holding a lot of history too.
The Wikipedia page I created for the Lighthouse can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portland_Bill_Lighthouse
Growing up as a child on Portland from 1998-2005, my family and I lived in the 'lower' part of Portland, known as Underhill, close by to Chesil Beach and Portland Harbour. The large amount of time I would spend with friends was almost always in Underhill area, or maybe touching certain closer parts of Tophill, which consisted of the rest of the island on higher ground - including the villages of Easton, Weston and Southwell, along with Portland Bill. The rest of the island further than Easton area was more of a mystery (apart from Portland Bill), and I would only ever visit places beyond that when on walks with the family, and these were not nearly as frequent as hanging around with friends. After moving to Cornwall in 2005, I have often made visits back to Portland and in the last three years, I've explored the entire island more thoroughly. One of my favourite spots is undoubtedly Church Ope Cove. I do recall walking down under the arch of Rufus Castle with the family those years ago but I hardly remembered the place years later. The area holds sites such as Portland Museum, Rufus Castle, Pennsylvania Castle, the ruins of St Andrews Church and John Penn's bath and this makes all the more reason to visit this spectacular place. In this review I will go through the various places of interest revolving around the Cove.
Church Ope Cove is a small secluded beach on the sheltered eastern side of the Isle of Portland in Dorset, southern England. It is found close to the village of Wakeham. The beach has many unusual features for the Isle of Portland. The beach used to be sandy, but quarry debris now covers the sand, and has been worn into rounded pebbles. The pebbles cover a small stream which runs to the sea, which is one of the few streams on the Isle of Portland. Further north along the coastal path that leads past Church Ope Cove is Durdle Pier. Further south, and overlooking the beach from the right is the caravan site Cove Holiday Park. To access the beach there are two paths. The main path follows the road past Portland Museum and leads under the arch bridge of the ruins of Rufus Castle, then down concrete steps to the cove. The view point above the steps, looking down on the cove, is part of the coastal path. The other path runs through a small area of woodland around the outside of the private Pennsylvania Castle, and passes through the ruins of St Andrews Church (close to John Penn's Bath), before linking up over midway down the concrete steps to the cove.
Starting at Portland Museum - this is the Isle of Portland's local museum and is located at the southern end of the village of Wakeham, close to Church Ope Cove. The museum has limited opening times at Easter, and is open every day during the summer (May-September), The museum is a member of the Dorset Museums Association, whilst the museum and its cottages are Grade II Listed Buildings. The museum is housed in two 17th-century thatched cottages built of stone. It is built around four distinct themes that represent Portland most famous attributes, highlighting the history of Portland Stone, the Jurassic Coast, shipwrecks around Portland, and famous people linked with Portland. It also shows examples of the Island's rich archaeology from the Stone Ages onwards. The intention of the Portland Museum is to educate the public by providing and maintaining artefacts and specimens relating to the natural sciences, natural history, archaeology, literature, music, the fine-decorative arts, antiques and local history relating to Portland. The museum was founded and first curated by doctor and pioneer of birth control Marie Stopes. She bought the two derelict cottages with the idea of creating a museum. Monies for equipment and building restoration were raised by public subscription, and Stopes gave the museum as a gift to Islanders in 1929, whilst the museum first opened in 1930. Stopes was the Museum's first Honorary Curator and continued a long and active association with it and its collection until her death in 1958. One of the museum's cottages was the inspiration behind the novel The Well-Beloved, written by Thomas Hardy, as the home of "Avis" - the novel's heroine. Hardy was a friend of Stopes.
The Marie Stopes Cottage features a small exhibition about Stopes, and a display of items connected to Thomas Hardy. This area also features a "Victorian Corner" which displays the wedding dress of a local Portland girl, and objects that would have been found in a Victorian parlour. In the upstairs of the cottage, the Maritime Room has a range of artefacts, including items recovered from the wrecks of 'The Earl of Abergavenny' and 'The Royal Adelaide', both lost in within Portland's waters. The Navy on Portland is also highlighted. The Stone Room highlights Portland Stone, from the quarrying and production to its use on buildings (including war graves) all over the world. The room also features the 'Men of Stone', based on those who worked in the quarries and masonry yards on Portland. The Portland Gallery contains a collection of archaeological finds from excavations, an exhibition about Portland prisons and a cabinet displaying local glass and china items. The Garden has a collection of local fossils, ammonites, fossilised trees and local masonry and artefacts, including the casing of the famous Portland Bomb. The garden also has seating for picnics and refreshments. The museum has a gift shop, whilst plants grown in the local area is offered for sale in the garden. This museum receives around an average of 5000 visitors a year and is well worth a visit.
Making your way past the museum, you come to the end of the small road which then turns into a small footpath that winds down underneath the arch of Rufus Castle. Rufus Castle, also known as Bow and Arrow Castle, is a ruined castle overlooking Church Ope Cove. The castle is a Grade I listed building, dating from the late 15th century, on the site of an earlier building - making it Portland's oldest castle. Remains include parts of the keep, outer bailey, sections of wall with gun ports and a 19th-century round-arched bridge across Church Ope Road. There is no roof remaining. Rufus Castle was reportedly built for William II and that the structure still standing in ruins today was the keep of a larger castle. Although very little remains of the original castle, the possible exception is the arch that spans over the path from Church Ope Road. However, the archway has been rumoured to be of Tudor origin from when the castle was partly rebuilt. In 1142, Robert, Earl of Gloucester, had captured the castle from King Stephen on behalf of Empress Maud. It had additional fortifications added in 1238 by Richard de Clare who owned it at that time. Around 1256, Aylmer de Lusignan obtained a licence to crenellate the 'insulam de Portand' and Robert, Earl of Gloucester, was granted a similar licence just 14 months later. It is generally presumed that Rufus castle is the site of any work that may have resulted from these licences and any remains that may date from the period exist only at foundation level, or have been lost to cliff erosion. It was rebuilt in the 15th century, and much of what remains today dates from this time. In 1989, the castle's seaward arch collapsed. In an article in the Free Portland News issue of May 2010, it was reported that the remaining ruins of the castle might be a folly built by John Penn, who owned the nearby Pennsylvania Castle, sometime in the early 1800s and therefore nothing like the castle seen in the late 1700s.
Rufus Castle has been owned by Mark Watson since the mid-1990s, a writer and broadcaster on royalty and genealogy. In the Sunday Mirror issue from 10 August 1997, an interview/article based on Watson was written by Caroline Sutton. In the article, which had the headline "Hello darling... I'm king of the £1 castle.", Watson revealed plans to turn the castle into a tourist attraction, with the article writing "Home is a council house, he drives a shaky old car and his income amounts to shirt buttons. But Mark Watson has just snapped up his very own clifftop castle...for £1. Now Mark, wife Caroline and their four children can't wait to show the castle off to the royals who often pop in to their terraced house for tea - honestly. Mark, 33, believes that battered Rufus Castle - built on the Dorset coast by William The Conqueror's son - can be transformed into a national treasure. He has already set his plans into motion and predicts that restoration will cost at least £250,000. He said: "People may think it's a mad scheme, but I'm sure it will work. I want to set up a fund and restore it as a local bit of heritage and a tourist attraction." Warning bells might have sounded to anyone but Mark when the last owners felt the castle was such a liability that they were willing to let it go for a quid. At least Mark's home in Kinson, Bournemouth, provides a roof over their heads and three bedrooms. The castle has no roof and not even four walls. But Mark's colourful outlook and big plans convinced the former owners he was the right man to take it on. He's had a succession of jobs since leaving school at 16 and now concentrates on tracing family trees."
Sadly, the castle has never been restored and is left in the same state as before. The castle remains private, presumably still owned by Mark Watson. It is a great shame that nothing has been done to keep the castle ruins secure but it isn't too late. The castle I always knew about was Portland Castle, found down in Castletown near Portland Harbour. When I visited Church Ope Cove for the first time in what must have been April 2011, I was amazed at the castle and its grand position overlooking the cove far down below.
~~~Church Ope Cove (The Beach)~~~
Now we arrive under the arch into the viewing area which gives some great views of the area and the cove from above, whilst also providing seating. Making our descent down the path to the cove. The beach itself is one of the few beaches on Portland, and due to having cliffs on three sides, is often sheltered from prevailing wind. Church Ope Cove once was a famous smuggling beach. For over a century, it was a favourite sheltered beach for swimming and launching fishing boats, and today continues to be popular for fishing, snorkelling and swimming. The beach provides diving access to the numerous wrecks in the surrounding waters too, which has made it a popular area for diving. For decades, an old rusting hand winch has been found on the beach. During the first half of the 20th century, a small cafe existed on the beach. The beach is also home to many beach huts which are much sought after and often sell for anything between £20,000 and £30,000. The public toilets at the beach were once threatened to be closed via the local council, however this did not come into fruition. Instead the toilets are run by a third party. Above Church Ope Cove, on the right going down the concrete steps is an ancient reservoir behind an area of thick brambles. A small opening leads into this reservoir and is often only known to some of Portland's locals. The reservoir has been rumoured to be a Roman reservoir however it is of unknown age, possibly Victorian. Due to the nature of this reservoir and the wet earth that lies on the floor of it, I would not recommend going inside it.
~~~St Andrews Church~~~
On the way down or back up the path, heading right and up a few steps take you to the ruins of St Andrews Church. The ruined church is found close to the ruins of Rufus Castle and the Pennsylvania Castle. St. Andrews Church is Portland's oldest part-surviving building and has been a Grade II* Listed Building since 1951. St Andrew's Church was Portland's first parish church and one of the island's prime historical sites. It remained the parish church of the island until the mid-18th century. Through archaeology, it has been discovered that the site was occupied from the late Iron Age, dating approximately 1500 years ago. The earliest church structure reveals the foundations of an earlier Saxon church, demolished around 1130. Edward the Confessor had bestowed Portland to the Benedictine Monks of St. Swithen of Winchester in 1042 who in turn built a new church over the old Saxon foundations in 1100, as the old building was destroyed by an underwater earthquake 100 years earlier. In January 1340 French raiders landed at Church Ope Cove and torched St. Andrews and again in 1404, where each time the tiny church was rebuilt.
Around 1470-1475 a tower was added and the church was dedicated to St. Andrew, the saint with the sword, during the reign of Edward IV. In 1625 a wall was built to shore up the land after a landslip had damaged the church, and caused half of the cemetery to collapse onto the beach below. Another major landslip in 1675 caused considerable damage, whilst the church continued to suffer from an unstable site and various invasions of French pirates. The church was abandoned after it was in danger of falling over the cliff after a second massive landslip around 1734-1735, which had caused another large section of the graveyard to slip down the cliff that included the graves of King Ethelred's twin daughters who had died at birth around 990. It was following the 1734 landslip that within two months, a decision was made, with a survey of the old church finding that repairs would be at least half the cost of a new building. This led to the church being closed and demolished in July 1756. Much of the stone was used to build St. George's Church at Easton area which replaced it. Between 1800 and 1822, John Penn, owner of the nearby Pennsylvania Castle, had fenced in both Rufus Castle and the ruins of St Andrew's Church, which the local people were used to freely walking on. The Court Leet, acting as the people's representatives, strongly protested, but were unsuccessful. This resulted in lengthy legal battles which were not settled until 1822 after the Court Leet agreed that Mr. Penn should be allowed to keep the land he enclosed in return for an annual payment of five shillings.
The site was excavated by J. Merrick Head in 1898. The church ruins went through renovations between 1978-1982 and archeologists discovered statues that were similar to the ones found at Old Sarum, a Bronze Age hill fort in Salisbury. Another discovery also found was a Purbeck marble altar and an old well outside the west wall that predated the church filled with old masonry rubble with several human skeletons above it. During the second world war, the churches remains were further damaged from bombing. Since then the church was carefully secured by archaeologists. Today, the barest ruins now remain of the church, whilst some of the original stones are in the garden of Portland Museum. The church's arch entrance remains in good condition, and leads into a woodland. A few gravestones of respectable citizens of Portland remain. On particular stone has a skull and crossbones emblem, and is often mistaken as a relation to pirates, however the symbol was once common on tombstones to represent death. English Heritage are the owners of the site, although it had been allowed to be neglected for the past few years with buddleia, ivy and red valerian growing wild around the site of the ruins. Fortunately, local people have kept the area from overgrowing, including a major clean up in 1980 when Manpower Services had worked on the site. The ruins of the church, like Rufus Castle, was to me something I never really knew existed until a couple of years ago. This incredible bit of history is a fascinating visit and lies overlooking the beach nicely.
Heading out of the church and under its remaining arch, you enter into Portland's woodland area - a rare feature on Portland's landscape. This peaceful area takes you back up to the main road that leads past Portland Museum - and so you have essentially done a round trip of the cove area. Pennsylvania Castle, although private, does have a path that follows the outskirts of its garden within the woodland area and the public are allowed around there. The castle is a Gothic Revival mansion, built in 1797-1800 to designs by James Wyatt for John Penn, Governor of Portland and grandson of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania. After the castle's completion, Penn spent the last thirty years of his life enhancing the grounds of his cliff-top estate. In Victorian times, the castle had many distinguished visitors. It has been claimed that Churchill and Eisenhower planned part of the D-Day invasion there. The castle was converted into a hotel and became The Pennsylvania Castle Hotel in 1950, owned by a Mr & Mrs Wyatt and a Mr & Mrs Hall, and run by Richard Cope, the son-in-law of the Wyatts. It later became a private residence once more, before being sold in 2011 by the widow of the former owner, Stephen Curtis, a solicitor with business interests in Russia, who was killed in a helicopter crash in 2004. It is a Grade II listed building, and has been returned to use as a private residence, but is on offer to be hired for functions and events. This grand building is a great look at a building of its type and remains beautifully kept and looked after. The castle was originally a rectangular block constructed of squared and coursed Portland stone, with projecting corner turrets, embattled parapets and a circular tower, and was extended in the 20th century.
~~~John Penn's Bath~~~
Before heading out of the church ruins and under its remaining arch into Portland's woodland area, those who are a little adventurous can take a small de-tour to visit John Penn's bath, which sits below Pennsylvania Castle. This is a large oval shaped stone bath, which was built for Penn. It is located at the base of the cliff directly below Pennsylvania Castle, although it is not part of the property. The bath measures 9 feet (2.7 m) long, by 4 feet (1.2 m) deep and 4 feet (1.2 m) high. After sea bathing gained popularity as a health benefit around the start of the 19th century via King George III, John Penn, the owner of Pennsylvania Castle, decided that he would also take part in this latest interest. However, Penn was not happy with the idea of travelling from the castle to the beach of Church Ope Cove, located down below the castle. He decided to have the bath built halfway between his castle and the sea. In order to use it, his servants were tasked with fetching sea water from the cove using buckets to fill the bath. Over the years, Penn had become unpopular with Portland's governing Court Leet and the local people, so during construction of the bath, the Leet members waited as the bath was built. Upon completion, they announced that Penn had built his bath on Common Land and therefore would have to pay in order to use it, setting the price at a then exorbitant 2 shillings and 6 pence per year. Outraged and refusing to pay, Penn abandoned his bath, much to the relief of his servants. The bath was left to ruin and remained that way ever since. The Dorset Rambler website described the bath as "a rather quirky Dorset curiosity!"
This bath remains on public land however is difficult to access due to erosion. The bath's area is overgrown and can only be visited by a precarious path on the edge of a drop in the woodland area, although it isn't actually as difficult to get to as it sounds as long as care is taken. In the graveyard of St. Andrew's Church, close to the two remaining tombstones, there is a small gap in the wall, with a metal bar, leading to the bath. The bath is a fantastic and rather unknown piece of Portland history and remains another fascinating look into some great history. A visit is very worthwhile.
Overall a visit to Church Ope Cove is essential for anyone visiting Portland area. Firstly the views are spectacular and visiting whilst walking along the coastal route is certainly a great way to take in the beauty of the area. Mainly though, there are so many snippets of long-lost history and places to explore in the area. The beach itself would make a worthy reason to visit, but with the sight of the castle and church ruins, along with the other hidden bits of lost history, the entire area makes a fantastic place to visit and explore. The cove is usually relatively quite and peaceful as well, and therefore makes a nice relaxing place to unwind. Whenever I visit Portland, Church Ope Cove is always a great highlight of the visit.
After the band's breakthrough album Stay Hungry from 1984, American glam metal band Twisted Sister were very much unable to continue their success in America. The 1985 follow up album Come Out and Play had proved to be commercially unsuccessful, despite having plenty to offer, with the band themselves believing it was their best work at the time. Since the album, the band slowly declined and a break-up looked unavoidable. After Come Out and Play, lead vocalist and main songwriter Dee Snider began to work on a solo album project with American producer Beau Hill. This was to allow the band a break from each other, with the idea of regrouping after the solo album's release. Instead though, the band's record company Atlantic Records pressured Snider and eventually told him that the label would not release the Snider's solo album unless it was under the Twisted Sister name. This caused the album to be released under the band's name, causing them to split immediately after promotion for the release was complete. The album was released in late 1987, the band's fifth studio album, titled Love is For Suckers.
The album's opener is titled Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant), a hard-hitting and rebellious themed song that recalls the band's usual musical style. Opening with a strong guitar riff, some dominant percussion soon joins, followed by bass guitar. The verses feature some strong and fitting vocal from Snider over the song's rhythm section, with the occasional use of extra percussion and a hint of guitar. A pre-chorus builds the song up further, adding some strong guitar backing and hard-hitting percussion. For the chorus, Snider gives a great vocal, backed by anthemic chanting and similar instrumentation to the pre-chorus. Lyrically, the song speaks of rebellion and fighting back against those who try to control you, basing it on what's right and wrong. Overall, a strong and hard-hitting opener with some great vocal, excellent guitar and memorable lyrics. "Let's push to the limit, so let's push till we're home, we've been good too long, they wouldn't leave us alone. It's our rights they're abusing, it's our right to fight back, so rally the troops and let's start the attack..."
Hot Love takes the album in a new direction, being very much a pop-metal track with a polished production sound, showing what Snider was trying to do with a solo album. The song opens with a guitar build-up, soon starting a melodic riff, backed by a fitting rhythm section. For the verses, the instrumentation settles down, allowing the guitar to perform a very melodic part, whilst Snider gives an excellent vocal. A strong pre-chorus builds the song up with some backing guitar licks whilst the chorus itself is presented as an infectious and anthemic section, using some fitting backing vocal over melodic guitar and dominant percussion. Following the second chorus, a fitting and memorable guitar solo is performed whilst the rhythm guitar and rhythm section drives the song forward. Lyrically, the song is simple but effective, speaking about the feeling of love for a certain woman and the effects of her on the man who wants her. Interestingly, as the only single from the album, a strong video was created, featuring Snider's wife Suzette. Overall, an excellent track showing a more melodic sound, with some memorable lyrics, infectious chorus and great vocal. "Oh no, that girl, she's looking so fine, I know she knows what she's doing to my mind. Ooh, does she know that I'm wanting her so? Well there's one thing I know, I can never let her go..."
The title track Love is For Suckers, is a hard-hitting track in the band's usual musical style, full of energy and power, written by Snider and Marky Carter, originally performed in 1985 by American female hair metal band Poison Dollys from their self-titled album which Snider produced, where this version differs greatly, particularly lyrically. The song opens with some powerful percussion, full driving lead guitar and solid bass guitar. The song's verses feature some excellent vocal from Snider, backed by driving rhythm guitar and the rhythm section. For the pre-chorus, Snider's vocal builds the song up with some fitting guitar licks. A strong chorus highlights some further strong vocal, casting the song's message clearly whilst the last line is performed by another member, followed by the song's main guitar melody with some dominant lead vocal. Lyrically, the song speaks of a man who doesn't believe in love and happens to have a girl interested in him, where the lyrics speak of his rebellious feelings against love and this girl. Overall, another strong track with great vocal and strong instrumentation, the backing vocalist is also an unusual touch although the vocal would probably sound better if Snider had performed it himself, either way it doesn't spoil the song at all. "Listen, I'm not some poor fool, won't jump through your hoop, ain't gonna crawl, girl, to that I won't stoop. So if you want me, you'll have to get me, and if you're willing I'll be ready..."
I'm So Hot For You is a strong track that lies between a heavy sound and a pop sound, creating a nice mix between the two, using some heavy sounding percussion like the rest of the album. Opening with a strong use of percussion, a simple but fully memorable guitar riff soon joins. The verses use this mix of guitar and percussion, allowing Snider to give a dominant vocal performance. A strong pre-chorus highlights a nice mix between lead vocal and some female backing vocalists, again a new touch to a Twisted Sister album. The song's chorus uses the song's main guitar riff with both lead and backing vocal performing their own lines, creating a memorable sound. Lyrically, the song is again simple but effective, speaking of a man falling for a woman, where he needs her love and constantly longs for it. Overall, a simple but strong track with a nice mix of lead and backing vocal, solid guitar and a memorable sound throughout. "Hey girl, across the room, say I'm in love, babe, it's much too soon, but you know I'd give you everything that I have. Girl, do you know what you're doing to me? I'm getting burned in the first degree, I want your love, never needed something so bad..."
Tonight features a more traditional and energetic Twisted Sister sound but not without adding a nice pop metal theme. The song opens with some strong guitar and crashing percussion, followed by a more dominant drumbeat after. Following on, the guitar changes to another melody, both infectious and melodic. With a backing group chant, the first verse begins, with Snider giving an excellently fitting vocal performance over solid guitar and the furious rhythm section. A strong pre-chorus changes the song's mood slightly, returning to the melodic guitar riff as Snider gives a further strong vocal. The chorus itself returns to the usual mix of heavy percussion and lead guitar, adding backing vocal and group vocal chants. An excellent guitar solo follows the second chorus, perfectly fitting whilst a pre-chorus and chorus follows. Lyrically, the song is simple but effective, speaking perhaps of the band performing live, where the song's overall message is about losing control and giving it your all. Overall, an excellent track with strong vocal, memorable instrumentation and some anthemic felt lyrics, nicely combining pop metal with the usual Twisted Sister sound. "Are you ready for a hard time, are you ready for the ball to top them all? Are you ready for the long ride, are you ready for the rise before the fall? Are you ready for the big game, are you ready for the coup de tat, et al?"
Me and the Boys is a straight-forward rock track, again being of the usual Twisted Sister sound, but with the obvious polished production. The song opens with a strong guitar riff and very light backing percussion, with the first verse soon beginning. In the verses, Snider gives a dominant vocal performance over this instrumentation, with a pre-chorus building the song up further with some strong guitar licks, dominant percussion and a hint of a backing vocal chant. A strong chorus follows, where Snider and backing vocalists create an anthemic sound over the solid guitar and rhythm section. The dominant percussion continues into the next verse, along with the guitar, keeping the song's anthemic sound going. Lyrically, the song speaks on behalf of a certain group or gang, recalling the usual rock 'n' roll lifestyle, rebellion and making a lot of noise. Overall, a simple but effective track with some memorable vocal, strong instrumentation and some fitting lyrics. "Me and the boys we never lost control, it's one for all, yeah, we take care of our own. Me and the boys just wanna rock, there's some things you'll never stop, we got it and we're never letting go..."
One Bad Habit is a fun, energetic and anthemic track which features the usual hard hitting sound but with a slight pop metal finish. The song opens with some anthemic guitar and a hint of percussion, with the guitar soon playing a new, very melodic riff whilst the percussion picks up. For the verses, Snider gives an excellent vocal over guitar licks and the rhythm section. The melodic guitar riff returns for the pre-chorus, where Snider continues to give a strong vocal. A strong and anthemic chorus sees Snider giving a dominant vocal, joined by backing vocal from the band, over strong guitar and the rhythm section. Lyrically, the song speaks of someone who could never give up their habit of loving all things rock 'n' roll, written in an infectious and fun way. Overall, another excellent and fun track with some brilliant vocal, strong lyrics and a great anthemic sound. "All I'm saying's true but there's one thing that I do and I just can't explain it, there's no way to restrain it. If I quit the rest I still couldn't pass the test cause I could not give up this one last thing..."
I Want This Night (To Last Forever) is a strong and hard hitting song, stripped down to the basics whilst still benefitting from the polished production. The song opens with some interesting fade in vocal effects from Snider before strong lead guitar joins along with more hard hitting percussion and solid bass guitar. The song's verses feature some strong vocal from Snider, backed by simple but effective guitar and the dominant rhythm section. A second part of the verse features some great guitar licks whilst a memorable pre-chorus builds the song up with some fluent bass guitar, chugging guitar and more great vocal. The chorus itself is expectedly anthemic and infectious, creating one big sing-a-long as Snider and the backing vocal remains dominant. Lyrically, the song is about someone who is going to make a night to remember, taking any chances and having a good time, wishing the night would never end. Overall, a strong and memorable track with some great vocal, nice anthemic sound and some simple but effective instrumentation. It's certainly not the strongest track on the album but still infectious and worthwhile. "Out on the streets the night fills my brain, so many girls to meet, they'll never be the same, ha. My radio's playing my favourite tune, oh yeah, this is the life, nothing I'd rather do, no, no..."
You Are All That I Need is one of the album's most unexpected tracks, a full pop metal ballad with meaningful lyrics and some gentler vocal. The song opens with some melodic lead guitar and a solid rhythm section, with the percussion still being strong but not too dominant. For the verses, Snider gives a more tender vocal over a recurring melodic rhythm guitar riff and the rhythm section. A strong pre-chorus allows the vocal to build up over some nice guitar licks and melodic synthesizer backing. For the chorus, Snider and the backing vocalists gives a great vocal performance, creating a big sing-a-long sound over the guitar and rhythm section backing. Lyrically, the song speaks directly to someone's true love, stating that his love for her is forever. Overall, an unusual Twisted Sister track but still excellent with some great vocal, meaningful sound and some infectious instrumentation. "And if I lived a thousand times, I'd be guilty of the crime of eternal love and dedication. And if I only get one chance to know the meaning of romance, well then I'm happy with my education..."
The album's closer is Yeah Right, a basic stomping and anthemic track which recalls the usual Twisted Sister sound. The song opens with some strong use of percussion, followed by dominant and driving bass, and again followed by a hint of crunching guitar. The song's verses feature some solid vocal from Snider, some group vocal chants, the strong rhythm section and guitar. A strong pre-chorus follows, building the song up with crashing percussion and solid guitar. For the chorus, the vocal chants continue whilst Snider's vocal is carried by a more dominant use of flowing guitar. Lyrically, the song is very simple, speaking of a group who have got someone where they want them, and they don't plan to let them go, perhaps speaking of the band's live performances, promoting audience participation. Overall, a fair track which highlights a great anthemic sound. Although it is probably the weakest track on the album, it is still perfectly listenable and harmless. "We got you where we want you and we're never letting go, we've trapped you in our web now, aren't you old enough to know? So stomp your hands and clap your feet, do a dance, hook into the beat..."
For the two CD re-issues, one from Armoury Records and the other from Spitfire Records, there are a total of four bonus tracks of songs that didn't make the final album. The first track is Feel Appeal, a hard hitting track with the usual Twisted Sister sound but with the polished production addition. The song opens with some a strong guitar riff, soon joined by driving percussion and bass guitar. For the verses, Snider gives a strong vocal performance, aided by the band's backing group vocal, backed by similar instrumentation as before. A strong pre-chorus builds the song up further, with Snider giving a great vocal with some backing vocalists, carried by chugging guitar and the rhythm section. For the chorus, Snider's vocal is made very anthemic with the backing vocalists whilst the guitar and percussion flows nicely. Lyrically, the song is slightly suggestive, speaking of the dangerous and wild girl who will make you feel alright. Overall, whilst not instantly accessible like the album tracks, the song still makes great impact with the anthemic sound and strong vocal. "She'll close your eyes, she'll make you wise, be careful or you'll fall, quiet in betweens, she'll rip you clean, she's deadly. She's lightning fast from first and last, you'll feel just like a king, then she'll leave you cold and lonely, oh, she's deadly..."
Statutory Date is another track in the mould of a usual Twisted Sister track but this time with a strong commercial hook, making the song rather infectious and perhaps a little lighter in sound. The song opens with some melodic but not too light guitar, solid percussion and bass guitar. For the verses, Snider gives a memorable vocal over similar instrumentation as before. A pre-chorus builds the song up further, creating an anthemic sound with Snider's vocal and some backing vocalists, backed by solid guitar and the rhythm section. The song's chorus uses the main guitar riff, which along with the strong lead and backing vocal, creates a greatly infectious sound. Following the second chorus, a strong solo section highlights some solo lead guitar over the melodic rhythm guitar. Lyrically, the song speaks of one man's desire and infatuation for a young girl, a girl who is perhaps just a little too young. Overall, a strong track with some memorable instrumentation, great vocal and some solid lyrics. "Good looking, dressed to the nine, you know this little girl is gonna blow my mind. Big talking, I've nothing to say, you know I'd give my soul away..."
If That's What You Want is a strong driving track which manages to be memorable and hard hitting, again with a slightly lighter sound than the usual Twisted Sister song, perhaps because of the polished production. The song opens with some melodic lead guitar over chugging rhythm guitar, bass guitar and solid percussion. For the verses, Snider gives a strong and fitting vocal over solid guitar licks, with a short pause before the next line, where the guitar is able to briefly return to the original rhythm guitar riff. A strong pre-chorus follows, with Snider giving a strong vocal with backing vocalists over dominant guitar and the rhythm section. A strong chorus uses the song's main rhythm guitar riff whilst Snider's vocal and the backing vocalists create an anthemic section. Lyrically, the song speaks about the aftermath of a relationship, with the verses recalling the past and the chorus stating that if the ex-lover wishes to live life a new way then they can. Overall, a strong track with some great vocal, solid lyrics and memorable instrumentation. "Said you needed more, said you wanted things that I can't give. Well show me what you've got and tell me is that how you wanna live? Was what we had really that bad, was it hat wrong? Now all you've got, look what you've got, it's your own song, and your memories while you sing it along..."
The final bonus track I Will Win is a melodic and hard hitting track, one that really deserved a place on the original album. The song opens with some melodic lead guitar and a solid rhythm section, immediately creating a memorable and infectious sound. For the verses, Snider gives a great vocal performance over strong guitar licks whilst a pre-chorus section adds backing vocalists and some more dominant guitar in places, nicely building the song up to the chorus. The chorus itself is performed with the song's main melody, with Snider giving a memorable vocal with the backing vocalists, creating an anthemic sound. Lyrically, the song speaks of rebellion in the idea of a battle between two people, where the singer of the song is determined to win. Overall, an excellent track with some great vocal, strong lyrics and a good hook. "This war ain't over, hell, it ain't over till I choose, pick up your weapon, you'd best prepare yourself to lose. I am in control, no one's gonna take me, no one's gonna break me, vengeance is my goal and I'm gonna have it, break you like a habit..."
~~Album Background and Aftermath~~
Upon release, Love is For Suckers was not the big success it should have been, continuing the band's decline. The album peaked at #74 in America, #78 in Canada and #57 in the UK, although it also gained success in Europe, peaking at #11 in Norway, #17 in Switzerland, #43 in Sweden and #59 in Germany. The only single from the album was Hot Love, which failed to make much impact, only peaking at #31 on the American Mainstream Rock Chart, perhaps due to the move away from the usual Twisted Sister sound and into a more commercial pop metal influence. Whilst critical reception was mixed at the time, the album today is respected much more. Snider has said himself that although there are many great tracks on the album, the band don't play any live as it would bring back bad memories. Snider spoke of the album in a 2009 interview, stating "The recording, the promotion and touring of Love is For Suckers went on to kill the band. Management and the record company in their infinite wisdom know best. 'Oh, let's put five guys who can't stand each other in a studio for three months!'" Fortunately, the original band regrouped in 1997 and have been performing live together ever since, where the band also released a re-working of their 1984 album Stay Hungry, titled Still Hungry in 2004, as well as the 2006 holiday album A Twisted Christmas.
I highly recommend this album to any fan of 80s glam metal, 80s hair metal, 80s rock or 80s pop metal. The entire album may not be quite the usual Twisted Sister album, baring in mind that it was really a Dee Snider solo album, but it still has high quality songs throughout and deserved to be a bigger success than it was. The production from Beau Hill is excellent throughout, with the polished sound working nicely with the album's tracks, whilst the album's artwork is also rather catching. Today, the CD releases of the album are widely available, with the Spitfire Records edition being fully remastered as well as having the four bonus tracks. Overall, Love is For Suckers is a fine polished album, full up with strong hooks, anthemic vocals and an irresistible sing-a-long sound.
~Original Album Release~
1. Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)
2. Hot Love
3. Love is For Suckers
4. I'm So Hot For You
6. Me and the Boys
7. One Bad Habit
8. I Want This Night (To Last Forever)
9. You Are All That I Need
10. Yeah Right
~CD Reissue/Remaster Release Bonus Tracks~
11. Feel Appeal
12. Statutory Date
13. If That's What You Want
14. I Will Win
1983 and Slade released their biggest album of the decade titled The Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome. The band had just found huge worldwide success with My Oh My and Run Runaway which finally included America, the only country who had largely ignored Slade beforehand. The band had began working with their first outside producer John Punter which proved to be very successful. This album was Slade's attempt at jumping off the heavy metal root which they had followed for the past two years and into a more commercial sound. The outcome was a well produced album with top quality song writing in the world of pop-rock.
The album opens with probably the most unusual intro on a Slade album of a shouted announcement to the listener from what seems to be in a helicopter. Without pausing, the true introduction of Slam The Hammer Down blasts out with a fantastically heavy riff and some glorious guitar work including a brilliant solo towards the end of the track. The lyrics are great fun and work perfectly with the song's melody. Noddy's vocals are on top form in this track which surely makes this one of Slade's best rockers of the 80s. "She's a cool kinda mama, sure gonna slam the hammer down. When your pistons are pumping, sure gonna slam the hammer down. Oh, when your body starts to shake, it's time to loosen off the brake and ram it down..."
The next track eases up and enters a more pop-rock orientated sound. In The Doghouse describes the days of youth. Immediately noticeable is the inclusion of saxophone which is indeed a rare appearance on any Slade track. A catchy chant is featured and some interesting 'keep-you-hooked' lyrics make this song another stand out from the album. Noddy's vocals are lively and fun whilst the percussion throughout is solid. "Beautiful, well you know I'm a liar, don't look at the mantelpiece when you're poking in the fire. What your mama don't know, won't hurt her, a-no, no. All them days of my youth with no sense, we'd be writing words of wisdom on the wall in the gents. Dirty little rhymes, from some dirty little minds..."
Following is Run Runaway which really needs no introduction as the track remains the only top 20 hit in America for Slade to this day. This track was certainly an American hit for good reason. Immediately the album version features an extended drum gallop before blasting out the fantastic guitar riff. Most impressive is how the track truly kicks in with Noddy shouting "Hold on!" and the most irresistible fiddle melody begins. Noddy's lyrics are totally nonsensical and yet they work astonishingly well. The fantastic backing vocals fit like clockwork whilst the entire song is a showcase for the band's musical creativity. The entire song never fails to deliver everything Slade stand for. Many people refer this song to an influence of Big Country where I must stress that at the time of release, Big Country had not created anything remotely similar to the Run Runaway sound. The melody is in fact inspired by the hymn "There Is a Happy Land". Holder himself perfectly summed the song up as "a rocky Scottish jig". "I like black and white (Dreaming in black and white), you like black and white, run runaway. See chameleon (Lying there in the sun), all things to everyone, run runaway..."
High and Dry follows which again features some great guitar work, bringing the best out of Dave Hill. Noddy's lyrics are very tongue in cheek but once again it works very well. There is in fact so much going on in the track that it would impossible to pick it all up in one listen. From the lead guitar that weaves throughout the track, the brilliant bass, the backing vocals and Noddy's powerful vocals in top form. Originally, both Noddy and Jim had given this song to the female rock band Girlschool which they also produced. "You're such a shy girl, see you every day, oh me, oh my girl, don't know what to say? Have you lost your voice?Are you spoilt for choice? My reputation's strictly for the birds, don't believe in everything you've heard. How I operate, you ain't got long to wait..."
Slade's biggest hit since the 70s is, My Oh My which is an absolutely grand power ballad, crafted perfectly in every way. The intro features a simple but effective piano melody which carries Noddy's vocals along through the first part. Noddy's lyrics work perfectly with this track which not only allows anybody listening to sing-a-long with ease but also has an attached meaning throughout. Something Slade had previously proved they were capable of with 70s hits such as "Everyday". The guitar and drums soon smash in wonderfully which is no doubt all the work of John Punter. For the rest of the track, the entire band sing-a-long together, making the track one large sing-a-long whilst the ending features a glorious Dave Hill solo. "I believe in woman, my oh my, I believe in loving, my oh my. Don't a woman need a man? Try and catch one if you can, I believe in woman, my oh my..."
Cocky Rock Boys (Rule O.K.) returns the band back to having a rocking good time with some incredibly fierce and most lively drumming from Don Powell. As always, the guitar comes in perfectly with a nice melody. Noddy's vocals are perfectly shown here whilst the chorus naturally smashes in with the sing-a-long formula. There's an interesting set of effects half way through which leads to a great but short solo. The ending which features more effects is no doubt very unusual for Slade. "You and me are the greatest thing, you and me are the honky kings. Rocking on is the next best thing to good love, good love. A little bit of what you like, slaps your face, says on your bike. She told you once and told you twice, there's no way, no way..."
Ready To Explode is a whole eight and a half minutes long. Inspired by Jim Steinman's work with Meatloaf, the entire track is a showcase for the band's musical muscle with the theme of motor-racing throughout. As the listener may have already picked up, motor-racing is referenced throughout the entire album. Immediately the introduction of this track features some sound effects, a great guitar solo and then a commentator who sets the idea of motor-racing up. Another unexpected part of this track is both Dave and Jim perform their own vocals at some point in the song which they pull of tremendously well. Noddy comes in after Dave and Jim with some top vocals. This track truly shows Dave's fantastic guitar work which he undoubtedly had fun doing. The ending features a slow section of Jim singing which bursts into a fitting finale of Noddy shouting out "I was living for speed" a few times whilst the guitar and drums make their mark in the background. "Sitting here in my mean machine, I'm ready to explode, looking out of my helmet at the faces. I been wondering all night long, if I will live or die, yeah, it's always the same before the races..."
The gentle ballad (And Now the Waltz) C'est La Vie is the odd track out on the album simply because it was released for Christmas 1982. Nevertheless the track fits well enough here to at least feature on the album at all. The track immediately begins with a great sing-a-long start which concludes with Noddy performing a tender vocal with lyrics reflecting the end of a romance. Naturally, the chorus crashes in with a fantastic vocal from Noddy. For those who believe Noddy could never sound anything other than loud and boisterous should listen to this track. "We lay there, your long hair was warm. The last night together we made love until dawn. My nights on the town made you cry, let's make love one more time before I say goodbye. C'est la vie, ooh cherie, c'est la vie. Another time, another place, we'll be together again (you never leave me baby)..."
Cheap N Nasty Luv is a well crafted track with some interesting lyrics, no doubt about a girl who is involved in prostitution. The entire track features some great synthesizer in the background whilst there is a great lead guitar part all the way through, even topped off with a great solo. The vocals are strong throughout and the chorus is memorable. The track ends with a grand finale of a synthesizer solo. "She couldn't make any other profession, and as she says, well a girl's gotta eat. Trying anything once with a trick of the trade, rents by the hour, making sure she gets paid, no satisfaction, it drives her insane. It's cheap and nasty love, she'd leave it if she could, cheap and nasty love, you know it ain't magic, no..."
The final track on the album is Razzle Dazzle Man which is interestingly two tracks nicely put into one. Beginning with a wild guitar melody and some fast, frantic and fun vocals from Noddy. There's some nice synthesizer effects added in with some big elements of the new wave sound. After the second chorus, Dave's guitar solo is exciting whilst the synthesizer weaves throughout. Don's drumming is also exceptional here. Immediately and rather incredibly, the song changes by dramatically winding down in tempo. The real stand out here is Noddy's vocals which send shivers throughout the listener with lines such as "It's good to see you don't you know..." The slow ending wouldn't be Slade without a glorious build up towards the end. The drumming picks back up with the guitar whilst a huge choir of backing vocalists join in with Noddy. A truly memorizing closer. "Wanna be a big operator, do ya dig? You play hard to get and make me laugh, yay. Wanna face the rat race, find myself a place, a womaniser on my epitaph. I'm your man, I'm your Razzle Dazzle Man..."
For the remaster of this album there are six bonus tracks which are a mixture of b-sides and extended remixes. The original b-side to My Oh My was titled Keep Your Hands Off My Power Supply. This track features some grand sound effects, a brilliant bass line from Jim Lea and some rather sly sounding guitar. Noddy throws lines through the verse whilst the chorus picks up with a truly excellent sound of heavy guitar and frantic drumming. Noddy's vocals in the pre-chorus and chorus are extremely excitingly paced. The lyrics refer a drunk driver asking his passenger not to grope him while he's being followed by the police. "Hero of the airtime at home and in no fit state, cause we have when it's two 'o' thirty eight. I need to relieve myself, can't wait. Blue light flashing coming up a-right behind. Get up Mary, hitting the cats eyes, trying hard to follow the white line. Well I ain't ready to face the law, I ain't hunting and that's for sure, maybe they'll just want an autograph. So keep your hands off my power supply, there's no chance that we'll get away..."
The 12" Extended Version of My Oh My is next which has the exact formation of the original but includes an extended guitar solo from Dave Hill in the latter part of the track. A great add on which proves the band knew how to write and perform a good guitar solo with plenty of feeling for the track and it's lyrical message.
Original b-side to the 12" vinyl of My Oh My, Don't Tame a Hurricane is another fantastic rocker with great guitar throughout and some interesting lyrics of a larger than life character to keep any listener hooked. Noddy's blasts out the vocals without taking a breath throughout this track - a truly underrated vocalist and this track is a perfect example of Noddy's gifted voice. Also a good example of mid-80s rock. "He's ever ready to catch the cheetah, you know the leopard don't change it's spots. He's the international cocktail who'll end up on the rocks, woah-ho-ho. So don't try to change him, got a hurricane, a hurricane will backfire. A-don't try to tame him, got a hurricane, you can't hold on to live wire..."
The 12" Extended Version of Run Runaway follows which is surprisingly only twenty-six seconds longer than the album version. One must bare in mind that the 7" version cuts out the extended drum showcase at the beginning and cuts straight into the introductory guitar riff. This version is overall the same as the album version but does have one difference with the added effect of studio tweaking. At the beginning, the guitar is extended for the twenty-six seconds. This extension has the guitar riff playing rather quietly, allowing the percussion to be the highlight for a little longer than the album version.
Two Track Stereo One Track Mind was the original b-side to Run Runaway and is a more back to basics sound whilst still maintaining the album's style. There's some fantastic guitar work present whilst Noddy's lyrics are jokingly referring to a girl who listens to music through headphones during intercourse, no doubt referencing the fast moving technology of the modern age. A great example of the hidden gems Slade had as b-sides. "Well she always had lousy timing but she'd like making love to music a-wearing headphones woah-ho-oh, wearing headphones, yeah-yay-yay. They get in the way of talking, and it don't sound the same when you have to shout sweet nothing's, woah-ho-oh. through her headphones, oh-woah-ho-oh. With her one track mind, her brain in her behind. She was hooked on two track stereo, with her one track mind, woah-ho-oh..."
Finally there is a remix of Slam The Hammer Down which is titled the Hotter Mix. This remix featured on a 1984 promotional single in America only. This version adds plenty of saxophone to the track and removes the sound effect intro the album version has. The saxophone certainly adds a nice touch to this track. Strangely, this remaster doesn't include the other remix of the song titled Hot Mix. This remix also appeared on the American promotional singe.
That is The Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome in all its glory. Slade's 1983 album was a huge European hit but for some unknown reason, only peaked at #49 in the UK. Nevertheless, the album was repackaged and retitled as Keep Your Hands Off My Power Supply for America which went on to be Slade's biggest album there.
A highly recommended album. The remaster also brings the best out of the sound, making it all very lively and fresh. This was Slade's attempt of updating their sound to fit with the commercial 80s. With the help of John Punter, the band succeeded with ease.
Originally posted on Ciao.
Today, soul and jazz influenced pop group Floy Joy remain virtually unknown and forgotten. The English group formed from out of Sheffield in 1983 where the trio consisted of lead vocalist Elana Harris, brass instrument player Michael Ward and keyboardist/guitarist Shaun Ward. Together, the trio released their debut non-album single that year, the unsuccessful Answer Through Me. Soon after, Harris was replaced by English lovers rock singer Carroll Thompson, and together, Floy Joy recorded the 1984 album Into the Hot, which only managed to peak at #40 in New Zealand, failing to chart anywhere else in the world. It spawned three singles Until You Come Back to Me, Burn Down a Rhythm and Operator, where the first and second of the three singles managed to reach the lower end of the UK charts at #91 and #86 respectively. The lack of success basically caused the trio to break up although later in 1985, Michael Ward reformed the band, with the new all male line-up of vocalist Desy Campbell (also known as Desi or Desny Campbell), Ward and keyboardist/bassist Robert E. Clarke. Acting basically like a completely new group, the trio soon recorded a full album together, which was produced by American musician/producer Don "Don" Was, who had produced the original debut album as well. With the majority of material being written by Ward and Clarke, the album was released in 1986, titled after the leading single Weak in the Presence of Beauty.
The album's opening track is Weak in the Presence of Beauty, a gorgeous and beautifully melodic soulful pop track. Immediately the song opens with the gentle, melodic and completely radio friendly keyboard lead, whilst some fitting saxophone keeps the song's soulful edge intact. The verses flow along nicely with Campbell's tender and smooth vocal over rhythm guitar and a solid drumbeat. A strong pre-chorus highlights group vocal over smooth keyboard backing, creating a great atmosphere which leads up perfectly to the chorus. The song's instantly infectious and beautifully carved chorus uses the main keyboard melody, combining it with excellent lyrics and gentle, fitting vocals. In fact, the song's chorus manages to capture a fantastic mood, immediately making this track an essential listen. A strong solo section highlights some finely performed saxophone, whilst the following choruses use backing vocals to push the mood even further, whilst an extra vocal layer performs some great lines over the top. Lyrically, the song speaks of the aftermath of a break up, where the singer of the song tries their best to move on and forget the past, but they always end up weak in the presence of their ex-lover, as they still have secret feelings for them. Notably, the song would be covered by English singer Alison Moyet in 1987 for her album Raindancing, where the song would become a big hit throughout Europe. Overall, a fantastic and beautifully performed track, perfectly constructed from start to finish, using great vocals, excellent instrumentation, strong lyrics and nice atmosphere. "Oh, its a long time since I saw you, well you know how time can fly, it seems like yesterday we were lovers, now we pass each other by. But if we're left alone tonight, don't ask me to hold you tight, I go weak, I go weak, I go weak, I go weak, weak in the presence of beauty..."
Friday Night is solid track that manages to combine both a soulful and jazzy sound together, whilst maintaining some obvious pop roots. The song itself lasts approximately six and a half minutes, where it opens with some light and atmospheric instrumentation, highlighting some nice guitar and bass guitar. A basic formation of the chorus comes first, where the group vocal works nicely over the weaving keyboard layer that is showcased afterwards, along with a springy synthesizer layer. The verses make good use of Campbell's dominant and strong vocal which manages to also have a soulful and smooth edge, performed over some nice and clean guitar licks. The song's first proper chorus follows, which uses the group vocal over the keyboard and springy synthesizer layer, creating an infectious and soulful jazz-pop influenced sound. After the second and third proper choruses, two strong saxophone solos ooze plenty of atmosphere and captures the listener with a soulful hook. After the final chorus which grandly uses many a number of vocal layers, the song's main instrumentation is showcased before the lean guitar is left to bring the song to a fine close. Lyrically, the song speaks of moving on and leaving your old life behind without looking back, starting completely fresh. The track itself doesn't quite have the effect or memorability of the flawless album opener but the song still has many great qualities. Overall, a good and fitting track that highlights some great vocal, strong instrumentation, plenty of atmosphere and some fitting lyrics. "Start again where nobody knows me, a new life, another town, and I'll try to find someone who can hold me, maybe I'll settle down. And it'll be just like I say this time, no chance to return, oh, when I reach the hill, look over my shoulder, watching my old life burn...."
Penny in my Pocket is a fantastic slice of soulful pop, offering plenty of nice atmosphere and some very thoughtful lyrics. The opening drum roll soon gives way to a fitting keyboard melody that sounds very much like an accordion, immediately setting the soulful mood, and aided by a hint of nice clean guitar. In the verses, Campbell's vocal is perfectly fitting and soulfully smooth over the gentle keyboard backing, whilst a group of backing vocalists perform some soulful harmonic backing in places. The song's gentle but still fully memorable chorus continues the use of the backing harmonic vocal group, whilst the lead vocal remains smooth over the accordion-themed keyboard. Following the second chorus, which uses a more dominant keyboard layer, a new vocal section which uses some more dominant lead vocal over fitting keyboard and backing harmonic vocal. For the ending, the song's title is repeated over the accordion-themed keyboard, whilst the backing harmonic vocal keeps the soulful sound fully intact. Lyrically, the song thoughtfully broadcasts the feelings of a man who is completely skint and lost, where he speaks of his life, talking about the frustration of job hunting, a long lost old friend, a certain regret and how his dreams feel so far away. These thoughtful lyrics keep the song interesting and memorable throughout, whilst casting a great atmosphere over the track. Overall, an excellent album track with some strong vocal, fine instrumentation, brilliant lyrics and some great backing vocals. "Had a friend I thought that I could talk to, lent him records, used to sit all day. I'd go to his house but his wife doesn't like me, she pays the bills and so I have to stay away. I took a walk without a penny in my pocket, feels like my dreams are a lifetime away..."
Too Drunk to Funk is a strongly funk influenced track which also manages to keep a finely trimmed pop edge throughout. The song opens with a somewhat odd theme, where behind a simple mix of piano and synthesizer drones, a sound effect of a man 'inviting someone to come in' as well as some laughter is repeated three times before the song gets underway properly. From this opening, the song memorably spirals into a basic formation of the infectious chorus, where Campbell's fierce and dominant vocal works nicely over the hypnotising keyboard and rich percussion. The verses use some fitting and dominant lead vocal over more of the hypnotising, ultra-funky keyboard. For the first proper chorus, Campbell's vocal is once again fiercely charged but not without keeping some of the usual smooth, soulful charm, whilst backing vocalists work with the funky instrumentation that flows well. Following the second proper chorus, both a great solo section highlights saxophone and fitting piano. The song's ending features the final chorus, where various spoken lines are performed over the top before sounds of cheer from an audience quickly closes the song. Lyrically, the song speaks of someone who is basically very drunk and if they are not, they are 'living on their nerves', therefore hinting that they are very anxious and paranoid without alcohol. Overall, a very good album track although it takes a few listens to fully click. The use of Campbell's charged vocals, the funky instrumentation and the infectious chorus makes for a fun song on the whole. "Naked hate in vacant lofts, and we're living on nerves, oh, the steel handcuffs aren't tough enough, when I'm living on my nerves, when I'm living on my nerves, oh. I was just, I was just, I was just, I was just too drunk to funk, too drunk..."
Ask the Lonely is a cover of the soulful pop ballad, originally recorded by Motown singing group the Four Tops in 1965, where it became a successful hit at the time. Written by Ivy Jo Hunter and William "Mickey" Stevenson, the Floy Joy version manages to keep the song's 60s soul-pop theme strong and overcoat it with the 80s sound of the time. The song opens with a nice and soulful mix of Motown-themed trumpet, melodic keyboard and fitting background lead guitar. A hint of soulful group vocal soon follows with the final part of the chorus section. The verses feature Campbell performing a rather different sounding vocal, perfectly fitting and captivating, whilst harmonic backing vocal, guiding instrumentation and a steady drumbeat keeps the song intact. For the memorable chorus, Campbell's fantastically Motown-like vocal works tremendously well with the harmonic backing and group vocal, trumpet and melodic backing keyboard. A fine solo section highlights the harmonic vocal, some lead guitar and a new melodic keyboard layer. The remainder of the song acts like an extension of the chorus, with Campbell continuing to give an excellent vocal performance. Aside from the lead vocal, the harmonic backing vocal plays a big part in keeping the original song's 60s soul-pop theme strong. Lyrically, the song's memorable message speaks of all the lonely people who lost love and are left alone ever since, where the singer of the song is made out to be the loneliest one of all. Overall, a great and loyal cover of the Four Tops song, featuring Campbell's excellent vocal, brilliant harmonic vocal, strong instrumentation and fitting lyrics. "The young and foolish laugh at love, so they run away, confident and sure that fate will bring another love their way. But ask the lonely how vainly a heart can yearn, for losing a love that will never return..."
Chinese A-Go Go is a strong pop track with a soulful edge, making most of light atmosphere and mood. The song immediately opens with a great atmospheric mix of harmonic vocal from Campbell, clean guitar, soulful saxophone, light backing keyboard and a solid drumbeat. The song's verses use Campbell's gentle and fitting vocal over the solid mix of guitar and keyboard, allowing the vocal to be most dominant. For the song's strong chorus, Campbell's vocal merges perfectly with the backing vocal over similar instrumentation as the verses, adding a hint of saxophone in places. Although the chorus doesn't really stray far from the sound of the verses, the use of the atmospheric vocal certainly keeps the section strong. The second verse uses a hint of backing harmonic vocal, which the band do so well, whilst after the second chorus, a new vocal section uses more harmonic vocal, whilst Campbell's vocal remains strong and soulful over the atmospheric instrumentation, including a small but great piano layer. A short solo section highlights some fine and soulful saxophone, whilst the song closes with the final chorus. Lyrically, the song is rather like Penny in my Pocket, where the lyrics are thoughtful and well constructed, even if the meaning isn't entirely clear. The song seems to speak of a lonely fool in love who is surrounded by evil and darkness, until he meets someone at a bar although they both know they will soon say goodbye for good, leaving the singer of the song to recall their brief meeting. Overall, an excellent album track with some great vocal, strong instrumentation, fantastic atmosphere and thoughtful lyrics. "The band are on, we're stood at the bar, your boyfriend's cut somebody up, now he's in trouble with the law. Oh, I want to leave, take you from this place, and though I've since forgot your name, I never will forget your face..."
Crackdown is a strong pop song with a large funk theme that uses interesting sounds and highlights some memorable vocal from Campbell. The song opens with sound effects of a group of people shouting and talking, which sounds like it's an area full of poverty, before some sombre violin casts an emotive sound. The first verse begins rather unexpectedly, featuring Campbell' s memorable vocal, where he speedily lets out the lines over strong guitar licks, dominant, funky bass guitar and a solid use of percussion. For the chorus, chanting group vocal is used over an Egyptian sounding keyboard layer, whilst the final words are spoken by a young male child, who's part in the song is irritatingly somewhat out of place and doesn't quite pull off the effect it should. Following the second chorus, a strong solo section highlights a nice mix of piano and violin. A new version of the chorus follows, highlighting the instrumentation, whilst using only a bit of chanting vocal, but still using the child's vocal line. Following on is the return of the people sound effects and the sombre violin, whilst Campbell performs a hint of vocal in the backdrop, before the song comes to an abrupt ending with the violin, connecting the song to the next one on the album. Lyrically, the song speaks of a crackdown on the underworld, where the verses speak of evil men, a living hell and how it will do no good to scream and shout, seemingly relating to a world of crime/evil. Overall, a good and fitting album track with some fantastic verses, memorable vocal, interesting, funky instrumentation and great lyrics, although the chorus does let the song down a bit, mainly due to the child vocal part. "Waiting at the end of an Eastern route, while evil men leave him destitute, crackdown, crackdown. His closest friends don't know him well, spends his waking hours in a living hell, crackdown, crackdown..."
Walking in the Night is an instant highlight of the album, a melodic pop song with a strong soul theme that runs throughout. Flowing nicely from the previous track, the song immediately bursts into a great and instantly hookable keyboard melody, aided by soulful backing vocal and a strong rhythm section. The verses flow nicely with the use of Campbell's strong, dominant and soulful vocal, backed by hints of great backing vocal, nice keyboard backing and the driving rhythm section. A strong pre-chorus highlights some more great lead vocal and strong, fitting backing vocal. The song's chorus is naturally infectious and memorable where both the lead and backing vocal weave their parts together excellently over the song's main keyboard melody and great rhythm section. A strong solo section follows the second chorus, highlighting some fitting lead guitar which nicely isn't dominant at all, as well some sound effects of whistling, various noises and people chattering. For the ending, the final chorus is performed, followed by the backing vocal which performs some lines, as well some harmonic vocal, before fading out. What stands-out so much on this track is the instantly accessible sound as well as the feel-good theme it carries from start to finish. Lyrically, the song speaks of someone who feels the desire to take a stroll during the dead of night, as they believe everything goes exactly right for them, where they can put their troubles out of sight. Overall, an excellent album track with some fantastic vocal, great instrumentation, infectious sound and perfectly fitting lyrics. "I lie awake and watch the moon casting shadows on the wall, I've been through every song I know, so I decide to take a stroll. Cause in the night, anything can happen, everything goes right, when I go walking in the night..."
This is my Time is a basic two minute track that uses only vocal and clapping, as well as some background sound effects of various noises all the way through. Acting very much like an a-capella themed song, it was written solely by Campbell. Opening with the sound effects and clapping rhythm section, group vocal soon joins for the opening vocal section, where they give a soulful and naturally dominant vocal performance. For the first main section, Campbell gives a soulful and gentle vocal performance, whilst the backing vocal, mainly harmonic, is used in places. The song's second main vocal section is almost like a chorus, where it uses a similar theme to the verses, where Campbell's dominant vocal works well with the clapping rhythm section. The song closes with the last vocal notes, whilst an interesting final addition to the song is some very short banter in the studio, with either Ward or Clarke speaking to producer Don "Don" Was. Lyrically, the song speaks of someone who gave up their 'wonder days' for a love, where they now feel it is time to move on as it is their time to peak and see the life outside of the town they have been stuck in. Naturally, the song is a simple and unique addition to the album, which works perfectly well for the track it is, although one might easily see the track as album filler, where most listeners would understandably wish for another full album track instead. Overall though, a fair addition to the album as a nice and easy-going simple vocal track. "I did a lot for you, you made me do things I thought I could never do, I gave up my wonder days. But it's a big old world, and I know there's more to life than this town girl, please don't make me stay. So goodbye baby this is my time..."
It Makes No Difference to Me is the album's closing track, a strong and more straight-forward pop number, highlighting some great melodic keyboard. The song opens with the infectious melodic keyboard layer, which is backed by another sharp keyboard layer, dominant bass guitar and a solid drumbeat. The verses feature Campbell giving a strong and fitting vocal over the rhythm section whilst a hint of keyboard sparks between lines. The song's chorus is a highly memorable mix of strong, anthemic and dominant vocal from Campbell, background backing vocal, great guitar licks, fitting keyboard backing in places and a driving rhythm section. After the second chorus, the song's main melody is highlighted in a solo section, the same as the song's introduction. The final verse uses a fitting effect on Campbell's vocal, whilst the song itself comes to a close with the final choruses, where an extra vocal line fittingly performs over the top. The song's instantly hooking sound immediately makes this song a great album closer. Lyrically, the song's strong and meaningful message seems to speak of a soldier who looks back on the war he fought, although this could be all metaphorical. The soldier speaks of seeing his comrades fall around him whilst he remained untouched, as well as now being alone with forgotten heroes, with the chorus relating to the song's title and perhaps therefore hinting that the soldier is now one of those fallen casualties of war. Overall, an excellent album closer with great vocal, memorable instrumentation and strong lyrics. "I was a soldier who wore no armour, I saw my comrades face up in the rain. I was untouched while they fell around me, I know their faces but I don't know their names. But now it makes no difference to me, it makes no difference to me..."
Upon release, Weak in the Presence of Beauty was a complete commercial failure, although it deserved to be successful, if even a little. Overall, the album may not have been instantly commercial for everybody but with the title track and various other songs, the album fit nicely with the soulful-pop sound of the time. A lack of promotion was one major issue and so the album failed to appear in any national charts throughout Europe, where it was mainly released. The very underrated lead single Weak in the Presence of Beauty made a little dent in the UK charts, where it peaked at #85, and it actually managed to peak at #68 in Canada and #14 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary Chart too. The follow-up single was Friday Night, under the title Friday Night in This Cold City, which failed to make any chart appearance. The album itself was completely overlooked and faded without much attention.
Afterwards, Floy Joy immediately split and soon disappeared without a trace. A little recognition followed when Alison Moyet nicely covered Weak in the Presence of Beauty, turning it into a less soulful and more commercial pop orientated song. It became a big hit for her in 1987 although today she insists she never actually liked the song and just recorded it as she knew it would be a hit. This only proves that the original could have been successful with the right promotional effort. Aside from the album, the only other song released was the non-album R&B-pop track You and Me which was released as the b-side to Weak in the Presence of Beauty, and also written by Ward and Clarke. In 1990, Campbell and original Floy Joy member Shaun Ward worked under the name Everyday People with Stewart Levine, releasing one album titled You Wash... I'll Dry. The two singles Headline News and I Guess It Doesn't Matter both reached the lower end of the charts in both the UK and Germany. The group released two more singles in Germany and toured Europe extensively. Shortly after that, around 1992, Campbell started a solo career which resulted in the release of two self produced singles Stranger and L.O.V.E Poem.
I highly recommend this album to any fan of more obscure 80s pop, funk-influenced pop, soulful pop and 80s R&B. The entire album itself is flawlessly produced by Don "Don" Was, and both the sound/production is unmistakably from the 80s. The material on the album altogether stands up well but more so for those who particularly like the sound. Many of the songs on the album are instantly accessible pop numbers but some feature a more acquired taste, and for me personally, some tracks took a few listens to really have an effect. Despite this, the album should have been successful all the same on some level, and deserves much more attention that it even gets now. Today, the album is available on vinyl and CD, where the Into the Hot debut remains out-of-print on vinyl only. The CD for Weak in the Presence of Beauty can be found second hand for anything from £10 to £20. The album doesn't seem to be available to download from places like Amazon or iTunes. Although the album could perhaps warrant a four out of five star rating, once all the material takes effect, the album itself stands up very strong for the theme and style it has, and the mix of commercial and more obscure numbers gives the album plenty to offer those broadening their 80s musical appeal. Overall, Weak in the Presence of Beauty is a fantastically underrated 80s gem, blending pop, soul, R&B and funk together nicely.
1. Weak in the Presence of Beauty (Michael Ward; Robert E. Clarke) - 3:28
2. Friday Night (Michael Ward; Robert E. Clarke) - 6:35
3. Penny in my Pocket (Michael Ward; Robert E. Clarke) - 4:22
4. Too Drunk to Funk (Michael Ward; Robert E. Clarke) - 3:48
5. Ask the Lonely (W. Stevenson; I. Hunter) - 3:43
6. Chinese A-Go Go (Michael Ward; Robert E. Clarke) - 4:00
7. Crackdown (Michael Ward; Robert E. Clarke) - 2:48
8. Walking in the Night (Michael Ward; Robert E. Clarke) - 3:25
9. This is my Time (Desy Campbell) - 1:59
10. It Makes No Difference to Me (Michael Ward; Robert E. Clarke) - 3:26
In 1985, Scottish band Fiction Factory released their second and final studio album titled Another Story. The year before, the band released their well known debut single (Feels Like) Heaven which became a huge European hit. It was this song that made the band become a one hit wonder as the group never managed to successfully follow the single in terms of commercial success. The band's debut album titled Throw The Warped Wheel Out was released in 1984. As a result of the disappointing sales for this album, the band were dropped from CBS Records due to the album only receiving a small amount of success, mainly within Europe. Inevitably, it was unlikely that a follow up album would give the band another hit but it didn't mean the group had run out of good ideas in terms of songwriting. Originally a five piece band, Another Story was mainly created by lead vocalist Kevin Patterson and guitarist Chic Medley.
The album opens with the title track Another Story which is an instrumental. The song opens with some traffic sound effects, followed by a rather eerie piano melody. Simple use of percussion follows along with synthesized brass drones that adds a nice layer of mystery to the song. The following section features dominant synthesizer drones and an interesting use of keyboards that resemble almost a flute sound. A brass instrument section follows which soon carries the song back into the opening piano melody, this time with sound effects of talking. This instrumental nicely opens the album, creating a mood of mystery and a rather haunting atmosphere. Without the use of vocals in this track, the listener is given plenty of tension and suspense, allowing the listener to only imagine what kind of album lies ahead. Interestingly, in the song The First Step from the band's debut, there is the line "and as for the lies we read about...another story..." which surely resembles this song's title as well as the album.
Standing On The Top of The World follows which gets the album going with a strong build up of percussion, followed by a dominant bassline with a hint of both synthesizer and piano. The first verse features some solid vocals from Patterson, still over the dominant bassline. This rather short verse soon leads into the main chorus. A strong chorus overall, with a nice use of both lead and male backing vocals, backed by synthesizer, piano and the occasional sound effect of a telephone ring. Following is a short instrumental section that highlights piano before entering the second verse. After the second chorus comes a solid instrumental section which highlights piano once again. For the final minute of the song, the chorus is repeated with some clever effects that build the song up. Firstly, female harmonic backing vocals enter in the background, followed by a synthesizer drone, large crashes of percussion and more sound effects. Lyrically, the song could be easily interpreted in many ways with the chorus telling the listener that they are standing on top of the world. The verses seem to focus on negativity, explaining that whatever goes up must eventually come down. Perhaps this relates to the band themselves, regarding their short lived fame. Overall, the song doesn't rely on a commercial sound but shows the band's unique style of songwriting nicely. "For every lie there's a truth untold, standing at the top of the world. They may be catching but blood runs cold, standing at the top of the world..."
A more commercial friendly sound follows with Not The Only One which opens with a simple keyboard melody. Percussion shortly enters, followed by backing synthesizer and another strong bassline whilst maintaining the keyboard melody. The opening of the verses feature some solid vocals, backed by keyboard, bass and percussion. For the following section of the verse female backing vocals perform around the lead vocals, backed by bass and synthesizer. For the chorus, both lead vocals and backing vocals combine for one line, creating a rather anthemic sound, followed by a line solely performed by Patterson. Instrumentation is strong here with some great licks of guitar, percussion and the introduction keyboard melody. After the second chorus is a strong solo section which consists of percussion and two layers of keyboard. Following the third verse is a strong section featuring female backing vocals that repeat the song title whilst Patterson weaves his vocal throughout. This section leads into the song's ending which consists of the chorus. Lyrically, the song refers can be again interpreted in many ways. The chorus tells the listener "you're not the only one to live this way" whilst the verses may speak of a broken love. Overall, this is a strong highlight of the album with a memorable chorus. "A voice is like the splintered glass, a sound that cuts to hear. And where is love in this cool war? I'm haunted by, I'm daunted by a dream, a dream, you won't deny, the weakness of intentions..."
The next track is All For You which opens with an interesting keyboard melody that almost resembles a xylophone sound. This is soon joined by percussion, synthesizer and a strong bassline. The first verse features some strong vocals from Patterson, backed by the same instrumentation as the song's opening. A simple chorus flows nicely from the verse, consisting of dominant vocals over synthesizer, percussion and bass guitar. For the second verse, the exact same format is present as the first verse but with backing vocal effects which repeat a recurring chant. By the end of this verse comes a short instrumental section which builds a crescendo of synthesizers that slowly burst back into the song's chorus. Following this chorus is another instrumental section which features the dominant keyboard melody from the introduction as well as synthesizer and percussion. Shortly after, Patterson returns with some vocals which mainly consist of the song's title. This fades the song out perfectly. Lyrically, the song refers to the desire of wanting somebody and how everything the person does is for that somebody. Overall, a strong album track which is rather simple but effective. "All you wish for I can give, from this hungry heart of mine. Whatever things you will, to make me out of fine..."
Lose Your Heart In Nature is a strong highlight of the album, opening with a rich range of instrumentation. A strong amount of percussion drives the song forward whilst backing synthesizer and guitar licks are present. The verses feature some solid vocals from Patterson, backed by half-acoustic guitar, piano and a hint of synthesizer. A strong chorus follows which builds plenty of emotion in the song with the use of strong vocal, piano, synthesizer and percussion. Following the chorus is a short instrumental section that is exactly the same as the song's introduction. The second verse features a small amount of male backing vocals which works nicely. Following the second chorus is another instrumental section that features a strong guitar solo. The next chorus features male backing vocals which again work well behind the lead vocal. For the ending, the song closes perfectly with the song's main melody. Lyrically, this song may refer to the break up of a relationship whilst the chorus directly asks the question "did you lose your heart in nature, did you lose it anyway?", no doubt referring the other lover. Overall, this is a fantastically strong track on the album which captures some great emotional atmosphere that proves the band as talented musicians. "I hold your decline, from the language we share. Would you leave me for the cold outside, oh? Rich the substance that Binds us as one, but you leave me for the cold outside, oh..."
The next track is titled No Time which is another commercial sounding song from the album. The song opens with melodic xylophone which has a Caribbean influence. This melody is soon joined by a strong bassline and percussion. The first verse feature some strong vocals, backed by piano, percussion and the solid bassline. A strong chorus naturally follows which features some more solid vocals, backed by the xylophone melody, bass and percussion. The second verse follows the same format as the first verse but adds the xylophone melody underneath the piano which works delightfully well. A short instrumental section follows the second chorus which highlights synthesizer drones and another synthesizer layer, backed by xylophone, bass and percussion. The following choruses feature some small differences such as backing female harmonic vocals and a solid synthesizer line in places. The ending of the song features some solid solo guitar along with Patterson's vocal which repeats the song's title, backed by synthesizer, bass and percussion. Lyrically, the song may be referring to how there is hardly any time to save your world when pain and suffering occurs. This could perhaps be based on the negative side of love. Overall, this is a rather unique sounding track with an infectious melody and a strong commercial sound throughout. "There's no time, just no time. While the words collapses around our fears, time runs low..."
The Powder Room opens with two infectious layer's of synthesizer which combine perfectly to create an infectious melody. This leads into a new instrumental section consisting of percussion, solid bass guitar and a strong keyboard melody which almost sounds like a completely different instrument. The verses feature some solid vocals from Patterson, backed by bass guitar, percussion, a hint of keyboard and some male backing vocal. A strong chorus follows which features some strong vocal, backed by two layers of synthesizer, bass guitar and percussion. Following is a short instrumental section which plays the main melody of the song whilst vocal effects make a lively breathing sound. Following the second verse comes a new section where the chorus should play. This section features some dominant vocals, backed by synthesizer blasts, bass guitar and percussion. Another instrumental section follows, consisting of multi-layered synthesizers which soon leads into the song's melody once again with synthesizer stabs as a bonus. The final minute of the song consists of the chorus which fades out nicely. Lyrically, the song can be interpreted in many ways, seemingly referring to pointless hard work. "Hollywood was bottomless so who are we to count the costs? Well, let it be known that I try hardest, there's a fact that leaves me depressed. Some salvage is required. So we wait in line, back in the powder room, the powder room. Visage redefined, back in the powder room, the powder room..."
The following song is titled Make Believe which opens with a short keyboard riff, followed by percussion which bursts straight into the lead vocals. This song's verses feature some fantastic vocals from Patterson, backed by two synthesizers that play at different times, solid bass guitar and strong percussion. The memorable chorus crashes in with a strong blast of vocal, synthesizer, piano, bass and drums. Following the second chorus is a strong instrumental section that highlights some lively layers of synthesizer, backed by bass and percussion. Half way through this section the bass guitar completely stops, allowing the synthesizer and percussion to work together well. This leads into the next chorus. Following is another verse that removes the first two lines from the song and therefore almost appears as a pre-chorus. The ending nicely finishes with the final chorus. Lyrically, the song refers to an obsession that one has on another. This person refuses to leave the other be where the chorus directly states "make believe you love me, tough you hate me anyway..." Overall, this is another highlight of the album, a solid song bursting with energy and strength. "There are no regrets, not anymore. And there's nothing left to see for sure. So work that charm, divide by four, and I will follow where you've gone. And play by rules that make no sense, pick your game, I've no defences..."
Time is Right proudly presents itself as the greatest moment the album has. The song opens with three licks of clean guitar, backed by heavenly synthesizer. Percussion then opens the song into the next section that features male backing vocal repeating a certain line, carried by guitar licks, synthesizer, bass guitar and a simple drumbeat. The verses feature some dominant and strong vocals from Patterson, backed by piano, bass guitar and drums. A memorable and fantastic chorus follows which features some brilliant vocal, backed by guitar, piano, synthesizer, bass and percussion. A simple but extremely effective chorus. Following the second chorus is a new vocal section that features some dominant vocal, piano, bass guitar, drums and backing synthesizer. Following this, the chorus is repeated till the end of the song. The male backing vocals heard at the beginning of the song are present after a short while which adds plenty to the chorus. The heavenly synthesizer perfectly closes the song. Lyrically, the song is left open to interpretation but the verses show somebody who has lost their own direction in life whilst the chorus simply states "I wonder if the time is right..." Overall, this is a fantastic song that certainly shows the band at their creative peak. "And now it's dark, I'm begging shadows in the glow. Life after dark, a thousands traces start to show. I struggle to decide, their colours fading as the image turns to stone. Time fakes the reason for this waiting, and now it seems I'll never know..."
The album's closer is Victoria Victorious which features lead vocals from an unknown Fiona Carlin who there is no other information on, therefore perhaps she was a relative/friend of the band who received the chance to contribute vocals on this track. The song opens with a simple use of shakers and the occasional drumbeat. Female harmonic backing vocals soon follow which builds a haunting atmosphere. The verses use this backing vocal and percussion to carry Carlin's lead vocal through. Sadly, I personally cannot stand Carlin's vocals which are rather deep and gloomy, also clearly showing her as an amateur singer. The chorus offers some hope with the return of Patterson's vocals, backed by a small strings section and percussion. Following the chorus is another section that features male backing vocals, backed by the female choir that perform the harmony and percussion. The second verse then follows with the return of Carlin's vocal. Flute is used as a backing instrument here whilst the choir, percussion and some vocal effects are present behind. The final choruses play and the flute plays solely before soon fading out. Lyrically, the song is rather poetic, referring to a certain character named Victoria. Overall, aside from the poor vocals, this song is extremely unusual with a rather dark and bleak atmosphere. For me, the weakest song on the album by far. "Victoria, Victoria, how long, how long? We wait for days at heaven's gate, how long?"
For the CD release of this album, there are a total of two bonus tracks which consist of one remix and one b-side. The remix here is the long version of Not The Only One which originally appeared on the 12" vinyl single for Not The Only One under the name Extended Mix. This version opens with female backing vocalists repeating the song's title which straight after bursts into an instrumental section of the verse before playing the main melody of the song. The first verse plays through like the original whilst the chorus removes just Patterson's vocals for one chorus whilst the following chorus includes them. The second verse and second chorus plays through like the original, followed by a short solo section, also in the original. Following the third verse is the same section featuring female backing vocals that repeat the song title whilst Patterson weaves his vocal throughout. Straight after is a new section that replaces the chorus with an interesting instrumental section that features two layers of synthesizer, bass guitar, percussion and some lead guitar. Backing vocals soon repeat the first line of the chorus before the actual chorus itself plays when Patterson joins. This final chorus fades the version out. An interesting version which remains loyal to the original but with some extended instrumental sections.
The final bonus track is the b-side Let Me Be a Part which was b-side to the Not The Only One single. Undoubtedly, this great track should have been included on the original album. The song opens with two layers of synthesizer - one that plays a small melody whilst the other keeps a drone going. This soon enters the first verse which features some solid vocals, backed by bass guitar, piano, synthesizer and percussion. A strong chorus follows which consists of strong vocal, the main melody from the two layers of synthesizer and percussion. Following the second verse is a new section that replaces where the second chorus would expectedly go. This section features some more solid vocals over synthesizer, bass guitar and background percussion. For the rest of the song, the final chorus is played, followed by Patterson repeating the song's title whilst female harmonic backing vocals are nicely performed in the background. Lyrically, the song may refer to the wish of being part of someone's life and asking for acceptance. Overall, this is a great b-side which makes a perfect closer for the CD version of this album. "Don't practice what you preach, just give the people what they wanted. Smoke on words conceal the pain but bitter sense was not to blame. Let me be a part of the ones who love you, let me be a part of the ones who care..."
Upon release, Another Story did virtually nothing anywhere in the world and disappeared without a trace - much like the band did from the public eye. The lead single from the album was Not The Only One which failed to make any impact whilst the final single No Time suffered a similar fate. The album was released via a small independent record label called Foundry Records which was only active in the mid-1980s. Shortly after the album's release, the band split and went their separate ways. Patterson ended up working in the IT department at the University of Dundee where he continues to work today. In 2007, Patterson and original Fiction Factory keyboardist Eddie Jordan reunited to perform (Feels Like) Heaven with a backing band at Jordan's wedding in August 2007. In 2011, the band announced they were reforming in order to perform at the 2011 Rewind Festival. This will involve all three key original members Patterson, Jordan and Medley.
Overall, I highly recommend this album for fans of the 80s new wave sound. Both Patterson and Medley proved themselves as fantastic musicians with this rarely heard album. Due to the fact the album was for a small record label, the production throughout is not as strong as their debut but still remains perfectly listenable throughout. Today, popular songs from this album are Time is Right, No Time, Not The Only One and Lose Your Heart In Nature which have all gained some interest online. Unfortunately this album can only be found on second-hand vinyl today although some blog sites have made a free vinyl-rip available to download. I originally managed to purchase a promotional copy of the vinyl album although I was really interested in the CD. The only CD version was released in 1985 through a small German record label called Instant Records. As they were independent, the CD soon became deleted and scarce. Today this CD is extremely rare and after almost a year of searching, I noticed copies on offer for anything from £150 to £300. Eventually in February 2011, I found the first copy available through Ebay which I managed to win for roughly £65. It is certainly a shame that the album is forgotten. Another Story is certainly a rare treat for fans of the genre, a strong album overall with plenty of creativity throughout.
*Note: Although this review doesn't give away too many spoilers, due to being based on a true story, this review does relate to the events of the real trial and therefore does mention numerous parts of the film/story.*
"We've lost everything" cries a Peggy Buckey, not long after exiting the courtroom following her bail. She and her family were thrown in jail, after the most unexpected series of events. Based on a true story, Indictment: The McMartin Trial was released as a TV movie in 1995, five years after the real trial had been complete.
In 1983, accusations were made that the McMartin family, who ran a pre-school in California, had sexually molested 360 children by the spring of 1984, as well as three other teachers from the same school. Arrests and the pre-trial investigation ran from 1984 to 1987, whilst the trial ran from 1987 to 1990. After six years of criminal trials, no convictions were obtained, and all charges were dropped. The trial remains one of the most expensive ($15 million) and long running trails in US legal history, showing the lack of evidence and unprofessional attitudes of the finger pointers which kept one of the accused in jail for over 5 years without bail.
IMDB Rating: 7.6/10
Runtime: 135 min
Available on: DVD, VHS and Laserdisc
James Woods - Danny Davis
Mercedes Ruehl - Lael Rubin
Lolita Davidovich - Kee McFarlane
Sada Thompson - Virginia McMartin
Henry Thomas - Ray Buckey
Shirley Knight - Peggy Buckey
Mark Blum - Wayne Satz
Alison Elliott - Peggy Ann Buckey
Chelsea Field - Christine Johnson
Joe Urla - Glenn Stevens
Valerie Wildman - Diana Sullivan
Richard Bradford - Ira Reiner
Roberta Bassin - Judy Johnson
Directed by Mick Jackson
Written by Abby Mann and Myra Mann
Executive producers - Oliver Stone, Abby Mann, Janet Yang
Producer - Diana Pokorny
Original Music by Peter Rodgers Melnick
Cinematography by Rod García
Film Editing by Richard A. Harris
Casting by Mali Finn
Production Design by Howard Cummings
The McMartin family have their lives turned upside down when accusations of child molestation are put upon them, based within their own pre-school. Kee McFarlane, an unqualified child cruelty "expert" videotapes the children describing outrageous stories of abuse. Looking at how the media can cause an innocent family to become national monsters, Indictment: The McMartin Trial tells the complete story of the trial and the people involved.
Made for TV in 1995, Indictment: The McMartin Trial came to my attention through the American actor James Woods. Although courtroom dramas may not be my top genre, the McMartin story certainly interested me into watching this film. The script, written by Abby Mann and Myra Mann, gets right to the heart of the story throughout and is wonderfully written overall.
The film's plot follows the true story very closely throughout, taking into account all the important details of the McMartin trial and what the family went through. In fact, the film believes the message is so important that the characters in the movie have the same name as the real people involved with the case. What makes Indictment immediately captivating is the plot, which is as expected, the most important part of a film such as this.
The plot tells the story of the McMartin trial whilst showing how the media get the most out of the story, causing the entire nation to focus on the case and child abuse in general. The film's tagline, "The charges were so shocking, the truth didn't matter", immediately sums up the basis of the message, and the viewer can clearly see the emotional distress that both the McMartin family and those on their side legally go through, just to clear their name. The film's shock tactics revolve around the media and the pain they cause on the family, where the law fails to deliver true justice quickly and successfully when it should have straight away - all because of the media's involvement which led to the American public's bias opinion and a nationwide conspiracy of sexual predators.
With the long amount of years that the trial ran for, the film focuses on the key parts, taking the viewer from day one and all the way through to the final trial. Thankfully the film doesn't use Hollywood clichés in order to tell the story. Instead, the story is told the way it should be and also thankfully, the film doesn't drag on with endless and pointless courtroom scenes or distracting details that don't the film anywhere. The film could have easily been this way over the running time of 135 minutes.
What allows the film's plot to work so well is that each and every scene is crucial to the film, as well as following the true story closely. Each scene connects up together, slowing unravelling the story in the most effective way. The nature of the plot allows this movie to stay in the viewers mind for a good while after the film.
Whilst those with an interest of the true story will already know how the ending is, the film's ending verdict was so strongly produced that as the viewer, I felt myself very tense at that moment, waiting for the verdict in the suspenseful scene.
The final speech of the film, spoken by the grandmother Virginia McMartin, shows the extent of the damage that the media caused upon the public:
Peggy McMartin: "How come God didn't stop it?"
Virginia McMartin: "No, don't blame God,
What happened to us was all the work of people,
God wasn't let into it.
Who had the time to stop and listen to God?
They were all too busy watching television..."
Finding this film through James Woods, there wasn't a doubt in my mind that he wouldn't play his character in the most effective and realistic way. Woods acting is always perfectly fitting with the character in question, and so I knew the story would be effective. The entire film uses the right actors for the story, and not once does any actor seem out of place anywhere in the film.
Expectedly, Woods steals the spotlight, playing Danny Davis, the defence attorney for the McMartin family and Ray Buckey in particular, the family member with the most against him. At first, we come to realise that the original defence attorney dropped the case after finding the media unbearable as well as public reaction. We are introduced to Woods very quickly, and like the rest of the characters, we don't really see a huge amount of character development, but only because each character has a job to do, either to defend or prosecute the McMartin family, and that's all the viewer needs.
Davis comes into the film when we see him watching a news report based on the case, and despite his wife/lover's objections, he wishes to take the case. It is clear that the amount of media attracts him, knowing what a powerful case this is. His love quarrels how disgusting the McMartin family are for what they have done, whilst Davis simply replies, "Hey, a client's a client..."
We see Davis truly caring for the McMartin family as the film proceeds. First meeting Ray Buckley and his sister Peggy Ann Buckey, Davis asks "Did Ted Bundy look like a serial killer?", making it clear that whether or not they are innocent, his concern lies with the job at hand. As the evidence unravels, it becomes more and more clear that the family are not guilty after all, and Davis passionately attempts to clear their name.
Not once does Davis consider dropping the case, he calls it a nightmare case but he still continues on. One particularly strong scene is where Peggy Ann Buckey is guiding her grandmother Virginia McMartin, who is in a wheelchair, down toward the courtroom when Davis is violently pushed over, with the aggressor yelling "No one told you to defend the devil!". Another woman decides to spit on him whilst he's down, just showing how hated he has also become compared to the McMartin family, all thanks to the media.
Woods plays Davis as effectively as possible, gathering the right emotion and power to truly leave a mark on the viewer. There's no real surprise of his effective acting, as Woods has been in a number of courtroom-related dramas and has always fitted the roles perfectly. One that sticks out is his fantastic portrayal of American politician's Joseph McCarthy's controversial right-hand man Roy Cohn in the 1992 film Citizen Cohn. Woods proves more than capable in these types of roles, and Indictment is no exception.
Academy Award-winning American actress Mercedes Ruehl plays the main protagonist of the movie, attorney Lael Rubin, the woman in charge of the case against the McMartin family. Throughout, Ruehl plays her character effectively. Rubin is determined, despite the lack of evidence, that the McMartin family are guilty, and much to the audience's annoyance, her character is at times unprofessional and rather dangerous in the sense that she won't stop at any cost.
At one point, Rubin fails to handover the original handwritten statement made by the original accuser, the mother Judy Johnson, to the defence, which would have provided valuable evidence. The scene where David confronts Rubin about this is very powerful, with Woods giving an incredible performance.
Ruehl plays Rubin perfectly, with the right mix to show Rubin's unprofessional attacks to prosecute the McMartin family as well as allowing the audience to strongly dislike her character.
Canadian actress Lolita Davidovich plays Kee McFarlane, the unqualified child cruelty "expert" who videotapes each of the children who describe outrageous stories of abuse. Davidovich does a convincing and fitting job throughout, playing the character with the right amount of oddness and unprofessional nature.
McFarlane is undoubtedly odd and rather bias in her part of the case. Shown through the videoclips, her extremely suggestive techniques are highly unprofessional but most importantly, purposely confusing to the children being interviewed. Using male/female dolls that expose genitals etc, McFarlane's technique confused the children and tricked them into believing they were sexually abused. Using puppets, she would often mildly insult the child's puppet, making the child believe they were either being bad, stupid or too forgetful if they wouldn't give the right answer.
The majority of children answered no to sexual abuse but McFarlane's technique was able to pressure the children to get the answer she wanted. The courtroom scene in which Davis questions McFarlane is very powerful where she becomes more and more uncomfortable, with Davis undoubtedly showing her unprofessionalism.
McFarlane: "I knew people like you would pick apart every word, every inflection
But somebody had to do it so the children could tell the truth."
Davis: "The truth? Was what you got the truth?"
By the end of her attempts to find the children's answers, some of the children were making bizarre stories of satanic ritual abuse as well as stating they saw witches fly, they travelled in a hot-air balloon as well as an aeroplane, and were taken through underground tunnels beneath the school. When shown a series of photographs by Davis, one child identified actor Chuck Norris as one of the abusers, showing just how deadly and mind-twisting McFarlane's technique was.
American actor Joe Urla, who won a Theatre World Award in 1986 for his performance in the play Principia Scriptoriae, plays one of the original prosecutors Glenn Stevens. Urla plays the character effectively and although he is at first against the McMartin family, the audience don't dislike him at all, as even to Stevens, it soon becomes clear that the McMartin family are innocent.
Stevens' attempts to interview some of the children himself only shows further weakness in regards to evidence against the McMartin family. Many children answer questions differently to what they said themselves before and eventually, Stevens does the right thing, allowing the audience to respect his character.
American actress Sada Thompson plays the grandmother Virginia McMartin, who plays her character wonderfully well. The events leave her bitter, but despite this, one powerful scene shows the grandmother, after being released from prison, watching from here balcony, a small group of children playing. She smiles at this, which hits the audience, showing just how much damage the media has done to this innocent family.
One of the most powerful moments for the grandmother is during a pre-trial where her daughter Peggy McMartin is taken back to the jail, where she is hurried along too fast by the guard, that she trips just outside the door to the courtroom. This emotional scene shows the grandmother cry out to her daughter and furiously speak directly to Stevens, "I don't trust you, I don't trust any of you, all I've heard are lies, lies from the first day in this courtroom." Her starring eyes are very powerful in this scene where Stevens then realizes how innocent the family is.
American actress Shirley Knight plays Peggy Buckey in the most convincing way. It becomes clear through her emotion, how innocent she is. From the upset she has within the prison and her accusations, the viewer cannot help but sympathise. Her treatment in prison is not nice in any way, and she happily expresses her unbearable agony various times.
Once let out on bail, her walk along a beach with her daughter Peggy Ann Buckey is most effective:
"I know there's nothing to be afraid of, but I am afraid, I'm so afraid,
It feels like God is punishing me for something.
All I've ever known is teaching children, and I can never do that again,
Everything is... lost.
And you, your youth,
You never smile anymore, like you used to,
And ray. Ray is still in there. How can he endure it?"
American actress Alison Elliott plays the daughter Peggy Ann Buckey, who is young, pretty and perfectly respectable as a teacher who spent a lot of time gaining her teaching credentials. Elliott plays her character wonderfully well, mostly with a gentle nature although one particular scene really shows her distress caused by the media.
The respect she has as a teacher is clear, Peggy Ann Buckey is a sensible and strong woman who is clearly innocent. In real life, she was able to have her teaching credentials re-instated.
The one scene she shows her distress is towards the TV reporter and lawyer Wayne Satz:
Buckey: "Are you sure you can ride in the same elevator as us?
We might drink blood from a rabbit, might take off our clothes and dance around naked"
Satz: "I don't make the news, I just report it.
How can anyone know your side if you won't tell them what you're feeling and that you're innocent?"
Buckey: "You know you wouldn't be interested!
All you want is, "Ray Buckey chopped up animals."
"Virginia McMartin flashed kids from her wheelchair."
"Penny Ann Buckey made a 3-year-old child copulate her."
You couldn't care less about the truth!"
American actor Henry Thomas, who played Elliot in the 1982 hit movie E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial, plays Ray Buckey, the main member of the family with the most accusations. Thomas plays the character very well indeed and very effectively.
At first, his character seems somewhat odd and unusual, perhaps in his appearance, or by the fact that he doesn't seem to talk all that much. As the audience, we are introduced to Ray Buckey in such a way that we do believe he may be somewhat odd. Eventually, as he begins to fight for his innocence and come to terms with what he is dealing with, we see that he is actually perfectly innocent and a little misunderstood, but made out to be a monster by the media, even more so than the other family members. He was kept in jail for five years without bail.
His emotional distress revealed in a conversation with Davis:
"Every night, I lie in that tiny little cell and my minds whirls around and around
Why shouldn't I put a plastic bag over my head or slit my wrists?
Or have someone jam a shank through my ear?
What am I hanging around for?
Listen to these kids rip the skin off me?
See my family get humiliated?
Watch them lose everything they had?
They hate me!
I'm like Freddy Krueger or Charles Manson to them!"
American actor Mark Blum plays the reporter Wayne Satz in the most unlikeable way, and therefore very effectively.
Although the film has a fair amount of different reporters who happily put pressure on the McMartin family, Satz's character is based on the entire media. His character is certainly unlikeable, where he plays nothing more than an uncaring and foolish man, with a smug attitude. Satz's hatred is not only from the audience but also various characters in the film, and eventually the media themselves once his love affair with McFarlane is found out. The man's every action throughout the story is entirely detestable.
Roberta Bassin plays the original accuser Judy Johnson, the mother of Malcolm, who originally makes the statement against Ray Buckley. Bassin plays the character effectively, and although she is not a major character, her role is very important none-the-less.
It later becomes clear that Johnson's ex-husband has sexually abused the son Malcolm, whilst Johnson herself made strange accusations against the pre-school, such as Ray Buckley could fly and that Peggy drilled a child under the arms. With her oddity throughout the film, it is discovered that she is suffering from mental issues and in 1986 is found dead in her home from complications of chronic alcoholism.
Again, her characters shows that even the most unreliable and bizarre accuser can cause an entire media riot and so much emotional damage. Her character is unstable and odd from the first moment, proving that the McMartin's innocence was already rather clear.
Various small characters all make up the effective story and from the children to the courtroom judge, each role is played effectively and flawlessly. Even the three teachers who were also accused, play an effective but small role where it shows just how bizarre the accusations were.
The British director Mick Jackson does an excellent job throughout, particularly for a TV movie. The film's direction is perfect and flawless, with everything being performed effectively and professionally. Jackson manages to capture the right tone of the film, the right lighting and the right camera angles throughout. His direction clearly managed to get the best of each actor's ability and combined it with effective camera work and strong visual drama.
The film was filmed in Los Angeles, California, USA, where the real pre-school was found also in California, near Manhattan Beach. This allows the film to stay true to the real story and therefore remain very effective throughout.
The music is from the film composer Peter Rodgers Melnick, who does a convincing job when the music is needed. Not much music is used, aside from the opening and ending credits, which mainly used female harmonic vocal, almost given a church choir-like sound. When the music is used, it works well and fits nicely enough.
The film's editing was strong throughout and flawless although whenever the film skips through the years of the trial, some scenes did cut rather abruptly, although this doesn't really make much different - the scene isn't exactly cut off but the abrupt scene end takes you by surprise more so than anything else.
The film was an overall critical success, where it also met some controversy over the story. The film won 2 Golden Globes, another five wins and nine nominations.
Soem of these include:
Won - DGA Award - Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Specials: Mick Jackson, Diana Pokorny (unit production manager) (plaque), Aaron Barsky (first assistant director) (plaque), Barbara M. Ravis (second assistant director) (plaque)
Won - Emmy - Outstanding Made for Television Movie: Oliver Stone (executive producer), Janet Yang (executive producer), Abby Mann (executive producer), Diana Pokorny (producer)
Won - Golden Globe - Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV
The film originally aired on HBO in America and today the film is readily available on DVD but only in America. This means the DVD is not the UK's usual Region 2 but Region 1 instead. The DVD can be obtained cheaply in the UK but a multi-regional DVD player or a computer that accepts Region 1 is required. A VHS version was released in the UK officially which is now out-of-print.
The Region 1 DVD features subtitles but only limited extras, mainly biographies on the cast.
The film is rated R for graphic language and disturbing visuals related to a trial. The VHS version in the UK was given an 18 certificate although in my opinion, a 15 would be more accurate in my opinion.
I highly recommend this film to any fan of drama-related films or films based around justice and law. Whilst the true story is compelling enough, the entire movie is not once boring or out-of-place. Director Mick Jackson manages to capture the right amount of emotion throughout the film. Whilst James Woods, as always, remains the highlight of the film, every other character is portrayed wonderfully well and therefore makes the film immediately strong and flawless in the plot/acting department. As mentioned, the direction, editing and overall filmmaking is excellent and works in the most effective way.
Whilst the story contains many messages, the film's effect on the viewer is very strong, and after watching, I found myself thinking about the entire McMartin trial, as well as how the media exposed the family as monsters when no real evidence was shown. Woods' character understood too, that when the children make these stories, then people think it must be true. The emotion of the film is entirely powerful throughout and that's where the success of the film lies - showing the incredible strain that the McMartin family go through. This is done without the film becoming too bias, instead it is simply telling the story accurately and truly as it occurred. What makes the film most incredible is that from watching it, you can feel that the filmmakers and actors genuinely cared about the story and the innocence of the real McMartin family. Both emotive and shocking, Indictment: The McMartin Trial is a strong film with a meaningful message that is portrayed most effectively.
Although no trailer seems to be available online, a scene involving Rubin and Stevens amongst others in a meeting: http://arkdog.posterous.com/scene-from-i​ndictment-the-mcmartin-trial
1987 saw the final studio album from one of Britain's greatest rock bands although at the time it seemed that nobody cared. By this point Slade had lost their interest in America whilst various European countries were keen to buy anything Slade released. Very much like their previous album Rogues Gallery, You Boyz Make Big Noize was heavy on synthesizers. For this album, the objective was to create a fun album in the style of the 70s but with 80s technology. Undoubtedly this album is one of Slade's most commercial albums.
The album begins with a cover version of Donnie Iris' Love Is Like a Rock which Slade's bassist/songwriter Jim Lea believed sounded very Slade-like. Slade clearly improved the sound of the original with thunderous drums, solid guitar riff, strong backing vocals and for the first time in years some female backing. No doubt helped by producer Roy Thomas Baker, the track proved to be a stronger opener for the album. "You can't rely on mother nature, you can't rely on your pay cheque..."
The next track begin to show the synthesized sound used on the album with That's What Friends Are For. A light-hearted pop song with a great anthemic and sing-a-long chorus - exactly what Slade were about. A very synthesizer driven track with a decent guitar solo added. Noddy's vocals are smooth on this track and work nicely with the melody. "Have you ever been lost in love when you were seventeen? Have you ever had a dirty thought and tried to keep them clean?"
Then comes the lead single on the album, the ballad titled Still The Same. What really shines on this track is Noddy's lyrics which refer to a couple's inability to evolve. Noddy also pulls off a fine vocal which is carried by some strong guitar. Rather like the arrangement of previous hits My Oh My and All Join Hands, the song builds up to a big anthemic chorus which the whole band joins in. "Oh we're all one day older. Your hands are gradually colder. What made me weak in the knees is still the same, it's still the same..."
Following on, Slade bring the tempo back up with one of Slade's best latter day sound. Fools Go Crazy is very much a synthesizer driven track. This song is complete with Noddy's sharp vocals which have a hint of disappoint in reference to the lyrics. Some of the best vocals on the album. A very Slade-like track. What is really impressive here is the guitar. The guitar mixes perfectly with the synthesizer, creating a truly brilliant sound. A glorious guitar solo is also added and a fine one at that. "You go running when it's your round, you ain't funny, a clown's a clown..."
She's Heavy drops the synthesizers and instead replaces it with a great guitar-based riff. The lyrics are extremely cheesy about the advantages of having a "big partner". The entire band sing the vocals together, making a memorable and unusual Slade piece. "She might need to lose just a pound or two, the lady knows how to bill and coo, got so much more I can hold on to and she's heavy..." and "Oh I don't complain when she turns up late, asks me out I don't hesitate. Got a lot more loving with a lot more weight and she's heavy..." are two examples of the fun lyrics included.
Next is We Won't Give In, a guitar-driven ballad with some very sorrow-sounding guitar. The verses flow nicely and the chorus builds up with another anthemic sing-a-long hook. The chorus itself is one of the band's best latter choruses and has the typical Slade sound. The lyrics show determination not to give in as other people try to drag you down. The chorus shows this message nicely. "I'm never gonna give, no I don't give in. I'm never gonna give cause I gotta win..."
Won't You Rock With Me is a moody and dark stadium-like rocker. Guitar is the highlight whilst the synthesizer weaves a thumping bass line underneath. Noddy's vocals are sharp, hard-hitting and rather dark sounding whilst naturally the chorus is another hard hitting anthemic sing-a-long. The chorus smashes in with more strong guitar and an anthemic sound. "Don't hold your breath, cause it's coming on strong. You're what you eat, gonna drag me along..."
One of the greatest and most commercially potential of the tracks is Ooh La La In L.A. A sharp guitar riff with some great lyrics from Noddy, describing different scenes of Los Angeles that the band remember. Even drummer Don Powell is mentioned with the lines "there's George on his knees again, on the town with Miss Zimmerman", which refers to Don's brief relationship with Bob Dylan's daughter. There's another sing-a-long chorus and a great solo. "You see the food and you feel the force, B.L.T. and there ain't no sauce, you get enough to feed a horse that's true..."
Me And The Boys is another showcase for Dave Hill's fine guitar work, starting off with a huge drum/clapping beat and adding another catchy chorus straight away. Noddy's lyrics are full of humour. The entire track is built around the guitar which makes this track a highlight. "Down at the Raj and we can all perspire, the Vindaloo kid has got his jeans on fire. Curry and lager are the spice of life, next day they're gonna give me strife..."
Sing Shout (Knock Yourself Out) proves itself as one of the most catchiest and infectious tracks on the album. A bouncy synthesizer riff with some great guitar work. Here is a great sing-a-long chorus which is fantastically infectious and after that follows a very catchy chant. Energy is frantic here whilst this track shows Slade's gift of creating such quality party songs. Extreme fun. "When she's good, she's so good and when she's bad she's much better..."
Another unexpected masterpiece comes in the form of The Roaring Silence which features the band singing along together and very professionally. Another track built using synthesizers, the lyrics remain interesting throughout and thoughtful. The track originally was intended as a b-side but ended up on the album as it sounded so good. "There's a never-ending stream of never-ending dreams. You bring out the savage in me, fancy-free and no guarantee..."
It's Hard Having Fun Nowadays closes the album with a glorious riff and thunderous drums. Some very fun lyrics from Noddy and of course a sing-a-long chorus. The riff itself ranks among the best of many Slade hooks. Originally, Roy Thomas Baker began working on this track until he proved too expensive and lengthy for the band. Bassist Jim Lea finished the production of this song. "There were hard case men about the house, dreaming of Samantha in a well filled blouse..."
For the remaster of this album there are nine bonus tracks which are a mixture of b-sides and remixes. The first bonus track is the 12" Extended Version of Still The Same. The main difference between the album version and this extended version is the inclusion of a great guitar solo and an instrumental section. This guitar solo makes the song so much stronger and should have featured on the album version.
Gotta Go Home was the original b-side to Still The Same. The track has another fantastically catchy guitar riff with high speed sound and some great vocals from Noddy. The chorus here has the usual Slade mould - anthemic and catchy. Slade proved they could still pull off the original rocking Slade sound without the use of synthesizers. "All dolled up in your birthday suit, you've just gotta wear a smile, oh, when your headlights flash, talking about you - really going out in style..."
The next track titled Don't Talk To Me About Love was originally an extra b-side to the commemorative double pack of Still The Same. This track gives Jim Lea a chance at lead vocals with Noddy joining in at the chorus. A fun track with another great and very groovy sounding riff. Jim Lea's vocals here work well with the fun lyrics. From the verse, a huge anthemic chorus follows which features Noddy belting out the song's title over some hard sounding guitar. "Oh boy how you dance, there's ants in your pants. With my kind of luck, a chance of a duck is just half a chance."
Wild Wild Party was the original b-side to That's What Friends Are For. A memorable guitar riff is present here whilst there's a huge sing-a-long chorus with the usual Slade sound. The verses are strongly sung by Noddy and are just as memorable as the chorus. Another showcase for the band's great talent of writing and performing good time party anthems. "More and more, them people at the door, someone tell me what to do. The way they're dressed is getting less and less. What's good for me is good for you..."
Also included is the single You Boyz Make Big Noize which came two months after the album. This track returned to a more guitar based sound without any synthesizers present. A fun track where the band share lines throughout, influenced by the musical style of the Beastie Boys. The chorus is pure Slade though with a great sing-a-long sound. There is some thunderous drumming throughout and a great guitar riff. The lyrics are full of humour and work in that perspective. This track also features a couple of lines sung by a female vocalist said to be Vicki Brown. A unique track to Slade's work. "A wee drop of rocket fuel gets you in the guts. It's better that the nutter who nuts you in the nuts..." and "Dirty shirts can smell really mean. Gleamo washes not only white, not only bright, but clean..." are two examples of the humour within the lyrics.
The next track is the Noize Remix of You Boyz Make Big Noize which appeared on the 12" version of the single. This remix manages to add even more guitar, making the song sound musically tougher than the original version. Noddy opens the remix with last line of the song and a great instrumental section begins. This part features some fantastic lead guitar which is not present in the original version. Two verses and two choruses run through like in the original which is followed by another exclusive guitar solo. After this solo, the remix follows like the original version with the final verse and the ending. The final part of the track features a new version of the chorus to Slade's 1972 UK number one hit Mama Weer All Crazee Now which is complete with party atmosphere sound effects.
The following track is the Instrumental Version of You Boyz Make Big Noize which was b-side to the single. This track is exactly the same as the original version minus all the vocals. A good track for those who want to admire the music and production within this track or for those who want to do karaoke. This is one of the very few officially released instrumental versions that exist for Slade's material. A nice extra for the bonus tracks on the album.
The USA Mix of You Boyz Make Big Noize is next which of course was aimed at the American market. It appeared on the 12" version of the single. This version is exactly the same as the original with the exception of a few small differences. There is a altered line in the first verse and three lyrical changes in the final verse. Finally, there are a few lines which are sung differently from the original version. Some lines which the band sung together are now sung by Noddy alone and visa versa. It does remain a mystery as to why the lines were changed but this still makes an interesting track to compare the original with.
The final track included is a cover of Chris Montez's Let's Dance which originally appeared on Slade's 1985 Christmas album titled Crackers. The band released the track as a single in 1988. Despite being called the '88 Remix, there is no difference to the track except the introduction features somebody counting for the percussion to start. This cover really brings the song to life with a bouncy synthesizer riff, fun lead guitar, strong drumming and some great vocals from Noddy. The band sound like they are enjoying themselves here and as a result the energy is fantastic. "Hey baby how you thrill me so. Hold me tight and don't you let me go. And let's dance, oh let's dance..."
Sadly, at the time of release You Boyz Make Big Noize wasn't the success it should have been, only peaking at #98 in the UK although it fared at #12 in Norway. The singles also failed to set the UK charts alight, Still The Same peaked at #73, That's What Friends Are For at #95, the single You Boyz Make Big Noize at #94, We Won't Give In peaked at #121 whilst Let's Dance failed to chart a year later. Ooh La La In L.A was released as a single in America, getting radio play at Los Angeles but failed to make a national impact.
Further heartache is that this was the last studio album for the original line-up of Slade and therefore this wasn't the swansong album the band hoped for. Slade briefly reappeared in 1991 with two new singles. The first single Radio Wall of Sound became the band's last UK hit with the exception of Merry Christmas Everybody. The final single titled Universe sadly flopped during the Christmas season. After 1991, vocalist Noddy Holder and bassist Jim Lea left the band whilst guitarist Dave Hill and drummer Don Powell started Slade II.
I highly recommend this album, one that's been with me for years now and still I find myself playing it often. In fact, this album is one of my all time personal favourites. Jim Lea's production has stood the test of time and still sounds very modern today. The remaster also brings the best out of the sound, making it all very lively and fresh. What amazes me about this album is the many different styles on the album, from ballads, stompers and rockers, all being highly fun, infectious and catchy. Slade achieved the sound they wanted but sadly no one was listening...
The album can be found for a great price on Amazon, whilst the site also includes previews of each track.
When Slade had once again found a new wave of success through 1984 with hits Run Runaway and My Oh My, the band refused to take any risks and began working as a studio-only group. Due to personal problems, lead vocalist Noddy Holder wished to stop touring. The band wanted to write an entire album where all tracks could possibly be worthy of a hit single. The outcome was a highly produced album with top quality song writing in the world of pop-rock.
The opener Hey Ho Wish You Well features one of the best guitar openings on any Slade album. This introduction is complete with a galloping drum beat from drummer Don Powell, strong guitar licks from Dave Hill and some fantastic synthesizer from Jim Lea. This song is in a similar vein to the band's 1984 hit Run Runaway with the feeling of a rock jig. The entire track is as catchy as it gets with the huge sing-a-long chorus and rhyming verses. Whilst the lyrics are pure silly, the track does its job of being highly infectious and fun material. The melody alone does the job. "Mad dogs and Englishmen going out in the midday sun. Too hot to jump the gun, do you know what I mean?"
Following next is Little Sheila, a very synthesizer driven track which again delivers a highly catchy melody. There's some fine guitar work from Dave Hill who weaves the guitar into the piece perfectly, helped by the tremendous production. This time the lyrics are much more mature than the previous track. Noddy's vocals have always had the reputation of sounding loud but here he sounds very smooth which works extremely well. The pre-chorus adds another fantastic synthesizer melody which winds up to the chorus. The powerful chorus features strong backing vocals, making this track a winner. A good example of the band reaching out of their usual sound and entering new territory. "There's another urban jungle on heat and another rebel out on the street, you gotta watch yourself whoever you meet..."
Next is Harmony which shows the sensitive side to Slade. This song doesn't rely on melody or catchiness but instead uses a huge anthemic chorus and a set of sensitive lyrics of Noddy speaking to his lover. Many lines make this clear such as, "I can change you, rearrange you, wait and see..." Noddy's smooth vocals and the high production make this track particularly pleasant. Certainly, this is a new sound for Slade - one that dives deep into emotion quite unlike anything Slade have done before. "I believe in everything you say and do. Is there anything you say that may be true? No more second chance your choice is overdue..."
Welcoming back Slade's spelling trademark since the 70s, Myzsterious Mizster Jones proudly presents itself as the most infectious track on the album - proving Slade were far from a spent force. Again, like Little Sheila, the track is very synthesizer based. The melody is constantly there, infectious and energetic. Noddy's vocals are fantastic and work perfectly. There are some rhyming verses and a great chorus make this song irresistible. But if that's not enough for you there's one of the band's finest guitar solos thrown in as well. The sheer energy within this track is fantastic and only Slade could quite pull this level of fun off so well. "He's into shooting stars, eccentric cars - grew up fussing, fighting, in the bars. All he's got to show for it's the battle scars, the Myzsterious Mizster Jones..."
For the next track the band want to slow things down and present Walking on Water, Running on Alcohol. Like Harmony, the track doesn't rely on melody but instead uses another sing-a-long chorus and another set of lyrics from the heart. Percussion shines on this track and the synthesizer is nothing short of grand. Noddy's vocals are sensitive with the lyrics being rather personal. The chorus blasts out with some strong vocals from Noddy and some glorious backing vocals added. Well known for the fact that Noddy desperately wanted this track released as a single but was ruled out by the record company and the rest of the band. "You gimme something, there's no doubt about it, to get me through the night. Keep on laughing when you see me walk this way..."
If the title hadn't already caught your eye, 7 Year Bitch follows. Guitar is an immediate highlight with a very rich sound which is topped off by a sing-a-long chant. The lyrics are based on a simple story of a older men going for younger women. The lyrics constantly remain sturdy, clever and sarcastic. Noddy capitalizes on this by singing with a rather cruel tone. Noddy doesn't let up until the entire song finishes. "And I know that you were overcome when she told you you're the best...you better believe she's saying the same to me and all the rest" and "Can you control the bitch?" are only two examples of Noddy's forthright lyrics.
I'll Be There takes the listener through another highly infectious, sing-a-long track. The lyrics are from the heart again, showing the devotion to a certain wild female character. A very up-tempo song even featuring another catchy chant for the listener to join in with. The verses flow nicely with some strong vocals, the lyrics working perfectly. The chorus is hugely anthemic and infectious. A great backing synthesizer weaves a great melody in the background. Percussion and guitar is another strong point in this song, helped again by the glossy production. No doubt this song would have been a great asset for a live performance. Slade at their catchiest. "The liberties you take, the excuses that you make, there's something in your eyes that don't ring true. Your ability leads to infidelity, while I'm saving myself just for you..."
I Win, You Lose is itself the masterpiece of all ballads on this album. Again the track doesn't require a catchy hook but instead something of which no Slade fan would expect. A grand sound throughout of thunderous percussion and an effective piano carrying Noddy's vocals along. The real highlight is not only the very personal and sad set of lyrics but the way which Noddy delivers them. Never before has Noddy sounded so sensitive. Particularly when he bellows out the line "Shame on me". A truly inspiring piece right from the heart. "Miles apart, it's getting harder to take the strain. I'm only human and I feel the pain..."
Straight after, the guitar kicks off with Time To Rock, a mid-tempo number with some great percussion. A more guitar themed song which recalls Slade's 70s material. The lyrics, like Hey Ho Wish You Well, should not be taken seriously and it's all for fun. A sing-a-long chorus works perfectly with some solid vocals. This track even features some infectious whistling, the only Slade song ever to do so. "I see my friends and family are waiting at the door. It's a party like you never saw before" and "Somebody called the law - let's pretend that we can't hear them at the door" are two examples of the party atmosphere the lyrics contain.
The grand finale is All Join Hands which begins with a gentle piano riff. Noddy sings nicely over the piano, much like their hit My Oh My. The lyrics recall of past memories and of course, joining together. Noddy's vocals are strong throughout and backing vocals are great as well. Naturally, there's a great sing-a-long chorus and a big ending with a grand guitar solo. Proof that Slade could easily create an endless amount of memorable sing-a-long tracks. "All the girls getting kissed in the ballroom, all the boys Brahms and Liszt on the floor..."
For the remaster of this album there are nine great bonus tracks featuring remixes and b-sides. Here's To... was the original b-side to All Join Hands. The track is a reworking of their 1976 hit Thanks For The Memory with as always a great sing-a-long chorus backed by some grand sounding synthesizer. Noddy's vocals are rather humorous and work well with the lyrics whilst the chorus follows the traditional Slade fashion. "Hey lads and lasses come raise up your glasses, make sure they're filled up to the hilt. Going on the brink again, buy me a drink then I'll show you what's under my kilt..."
The 12" Extended Version of 7 Year Bitch follows which starts with an instrumental section consisting of a verse and chorus. The rest of the track is the original album version. A nice touch for any fan who wants to sing a karaoke version or anybody who is interested in how the track sounds without any vocal.
Leave Them Girls Alone was originally the b-side of 7 Year Bitch. The track was shamefully kept as a b-side despite being hit single material. A tremendously catchy chant right from the beginning whilst the verses show bassist Jim Lea and Noddy exchanging lines. The chorus is greatly infectious and is a perfect example of Slade's own anthemic sing-a-long choruses. The energy is fantastic throughout and the lyrics work perfectly with the melody. "On the town I know there's luck to kill - don't do anything against your will. Overloaded and you still want more, much more than I've ever felt before..."
The 12" Extended Version of Myzsterious Mizster Jones is next which follows the same pattern as the extended version of 7 Year Bitch. The remix starts with an instrumental section consisting of a verse and chorus. The rest of the track is the original album version. Again, a nice touch for any fan who wants to sing a karaoke version or anybody interested in how the track sounds without any vocal.
Mama Nature Is a Rocker is the original b-side to Myzsterious Mizster Jones. A ZZ Top sound alike which features some interesting and witty lyrics over the top of a huge bouncy synthesizer melody. Noddy sounds like he is having fun with the track and the chorus blasts out of the song perfectly. Along with the production, this track sounds very 80s whilst maintaining Slade's usual sound of great energy. This track makes a worthwhile listen. "Mama nature is a rocker, every day comes up with something new. She turns the day out into night time, she can curse and turn the grey sky blue..."
Another bonus track is the Piano and Vocal Version of My Oh My which is rather like a demo. This track shows the early stage of what became one of Slade's biggest hits. There are a few changes in the lyrics which is interesting and this track provides a perfect look into the creation of My Oh My. Noddy sings with passion whilst the piano effectively carries the vocals along. There is also a group of vocals performing the sing-a-long part of the track towards the end, just like in the final version.
Do You Believe In Miracles? was a charity single from late 1985 which also featured on the group's Christmas album Crackers. The track is based on Bob Geldof and his work with live aid. According to the album's sleeve notes, Noddy was amazed at what Bob Geldof was achieving with some rock 'n' roll, some organisation and a vision. A truly inspiring track with a grand melody, anthemic chorus and a fine set of lyrics. The melody ranks amongst one of the band's best and the lyrics rank as one of the most effective and thoughtful. The chorus goes through the usual Slade anthem style and effectively carries the message of the lyrics. The production on this track is truly spectacular, still sounding great today. Sadly the single only peaked at #54 in the UK. "He said "why'd you carry on this way, I could never go to that". But he had to learn he was just the same One step forward two steps back..." and "It was in the autumn of '84, going live through '85. When he made the greatest show on earth just to help a country to survive..." are only two examples of the inspiring lyrics.
Following on is the Swing Version of My Oh My which was originally the b-side to Do You Believe in Miracles?. This track is unique to Slade's work unlike anything expected from the group. This version features full brass backing from the Monty Babson Big Band. The entire track has a great jazz and swing influence with a novelty sound to it. Noddy's vocals work amazingly well and just show his versatility as a vocalist. An interesting and unexpected take on My Oh My.
Finally, the 12" Extended Version of Do You Believe In Miracles? is last which follows the same pattern as the extended versions of 7 Year Bitch and Myzsterious Mizster Jones. The remix starts with an instrumental section consisting of a verse and chorus. The rest of the track is the original album version. Again, a nice touch for any fan who wants to sing a karaoke version or anybody interested in how the track sounds without any vocal.
Admittingly perhaps, many would say this was the band's attempt at trying to fit with the times as synthesizers are heavily used on this album. Regardless, Slade proved they could do something special with the 80s sound and anybody who gets a chance to listen to this album will surely agree. After all, many band's similar to Slade such as Queen began doing the same thing as the synthesizer was key to the sound of the 80s.
Slade's Rogues Gallery in all honesty didn't quite meet the success it should have, only peaking at #60 in the UK and #132 in the US although it was a huge hit in other European countries. The singles also failed to set the UK charts alight, 7 Year Bitch peaked at #60 due to being banned because of the lyrics and title, Myzsterious Mizster Jones at #50 whilst Christmas 1984 allowed the lead single All Join Hands to peak at #15, Slade's last top 20 hit. Little Sheila was also a single but in the US region only. It was a minor hit, peaking at #86 in the US, #60 in Canada and #13 on the American mainstream rock charts. A fair reason as to why the album failed was that Slade were simply seen as unfashionable in the 80s.
Nevertheless I highly recommend this album, one that's been with me for years now and still I find myself playing it often. In fact, this album is probably my favourite of all time. Jim Lea's production has stood the test of time and still sounds very modern today. The remaster also brings the best out of the sound, making it all very lively and fresh. This was Slade's attempt at a highly produced, smooth and rich sounding record. They succeeded even if not many people realise.
The album can be found for a great price on Amazon, whilst the site also includes previews of each track.
As a great admirer of the Isle of Portland, I have always been interested in any footage or official releases like books based on the island, particularly in recent times. I was originally born in Dorchester, Dorset, where I lived in Weymouth for about four years before moving to Portland, where I lived until 2005. I personally have a great interest in the area and so stumbling on the Jurassic Coast DVD Series Part 3 based on Weymouth and Portland was no bad thing. During a visit to the island in August this year, I popped into the visitor centre of the Portland Bill Lighthouse where my mother recommended the DVD that was playing on a television in the corner of the main room. At first I wasn't incredibly interested as I had presumed that the DVD probably highlights only a small amount of the island but upon watching a bit of the footage, I decided to buy a copy, realising that the DVD actually covers a good amount of the island and the geology, formation and history of the area. Upon watching the DVD, I wasn't disappointed.
In this review, I have provided insight into the DVD's offerings whilst providing my own information on the various sites shown.
----The Basics on the Area----
The Jurassic Coast DVD Series consists of five separate parts, created by Divercol Productions, with the Weymouth and Portland footage found on Part 3. The Isle of Portland is a limestone tied island, located in the English Channel and five miles south of the popular tourist destination of Weymouth. Portland forms the southernmost area of the Dorset County, with the island being connected to the mainland by the A354 road and Chesil Beach. Portland remains a central part of the Jurassic Coast, which is part of a popular, stunning and geologically notable World Heritage Site on the Dorset and east Devon coast. Although the many sites of Portland attract millions of visitors each year, the island is perhaps most famous for Portland stone.
The DVD itself is has two separate clips on the main menu - the first being the introduction clip and the second being the actual documentary. The introduction clip is about four minutes long and highlights the production company logo before showing some footage of the Jurassic Coast, probably taken from a helicopter and therefore allowing the viewer to be introduced to the area and the appearance. The clip features narration too, giving the viewer some useful information about the Jurassic Coast and its formation.
The main footage is mainly based on Portland, although Weymouth is also part of the documentary, and as one of the very few official VHS or DVD releases based on Portland, this disc is straight away one of the immediate recommendations. Expectedly, the DVD does not cover the entire Isle of Portland but focuses on the coastal features, history and geology. The main footage is about 53 minutes long and highlights some incredible footage, whilst the excellent information narrated to the viewer seems to be accurate as far as I can tell.
----Osmington, Radipole, Weymouth Beach and Nothe Fort----
The first section leads the viewer from the Osmington Oolite to Furzy Cliff and finally to Bowleaze Cove, where the former of the two lies to the west of Osmington Mills, close to Weymouth area. The Upper Jurassic Corallian rock is 159 million years old, and the DVD shows footage looking down to the area from in the sky. The narrated information given by Malcolm Brown highlights the geology, including noting of fossils and the area's formation. This section then takes the viewer to the Radipole Lake/Lodmoor Nature Reserve in the centre of Weymouth, which highlights various wildlife but mainly birds, where even rare birds flock to the area during the summer. The reserve is open to visitors all year around and is free of charge. The DVD footage highlights views of the area and various bird species. This section is narrated by Angela Sheppard who is the reserve's RSPB Warden, and she gives a good insight into what the importance of the area is and also covers some information on the birds found there. As mentioned on the DVD, despite being situated within an urban development, the reserve area is rather like the countryside which is why such wildlife flourishes there. The DVD then takes the viewer to Weymouth Beach where the footage and narrator Malcolm Brown highlights the great Jubilee Clock, built in 1887 to highlight the 50th year of Queen Victoria's reign, and the King George III statue, built in 1810 as a tribute to King George III who was very fond of the area. The footage soon moves on to the beach during the peak season period, which immediately shows the viewer just how busy Weymouth often is, before the footage focuses on the beach's unique sand. This section features Mark Anderson, a sand sculptor, who goes through his history with Weymouth beach's sand and the sculptures he creates on the beach, mainly of popular children's characters. The DVD features footage of the two main characters of the Monsters Inc. film as well as some Egyptian sculptures. The next section highlights Weymouth Harbour and the bridge which is seen from boat and is therefore effective, with some great information from Brown who also highlights the black death plague which entered the country through this harbour centuries ago. The great Nothe Fort is highlighted next, built in 1872 to protect Portland's harbour. The footage of both the fort and the view from the fort is fantastic and the footage gives a great look into the harbour area, as well as the beach in the distance.
----Portland Breakwater, HMS Hood, Portland Castle and Sandsfoot Castle----
The documentary then moves into Portland territory and highlights the Portland Breakwater, the world's second largest man-made harbour, built in the 19th century with millions of tonnes of Portland Stone, with the labour of thousands of prison convicts, all in order to defend the ships of the world's greatest navy. For me personally, the Portland Breakwater was something that I have only ever seen from the distance, having never travelled by boat around the area. The actual Breakwater is private and belongs to Portland Port, which was once used by the Royal Navy and today remains a commercial port. The only way to view the Breakwater is by boat, which is what the documentary crew naturally do. This footage is not only fantastic and beautifully effective, but the informative narrated by Brown is insightful and interesting. Most of the footage highlights parts of the breakwater from various areas in a boat, as well as from the air, naturally showing the island in the background, with the additional use of old photographs from over a century ago, relating to the making of the harbour. If this section wasn't interesting enough, the documentary then goes underwater to visit the HMS Hood wreck, a Royal Sovereign-class pre-dreadnought battleship which was built in the early 1890s for the Royal Navy, where it was eventually scuttled in 1914, acting as a blockship across the southern entrance of the harbour. The wreck today remains a favourite diving place and the underwater footage is extremely interesting, where both the wreck and the marine life are highlighted. The footage has actually since got me interested in the possibility of diving myself around Portland's coastline one day in the future. Afterwards, the concrete Mulberry Harbour "Bombardon" units (a.k.a. Phoenix breakwaters) are explained and I personally wasn't aware of their history until watching this DVD. The units today act as a reminder of the units towed from Portland across the channel and sunk, which formed a temporary port near Normandy for the post D-Day landings in 1944. The footage next briefly highlights Portland Castle and Weymouth's Sandsfoot Castle, where both castles were built by King Henry III as harbour defences. Whilst Sandsfoot Castle ended up in ruins, although still open to the public, Portland Castle remains intact and open to the public for most of the year, where it is owned by English Heritage. The footage is of both castles are effective and manage to capture fine detail and scenery.
----The Verne, High Angle Battery and Nicodemus Knob----
The DVD then takes the viewer further inland and higher up on the Isle of Portland, where we now see Verne Hill and the Verne Citadel - a complex was built between 1848 and 1869 as an army garrison, where it remains a working prison for approximately 600 medium and long-term prisoners today - a place immediately surrounding in curiosity and interest. The footage highlights the surrounding area as well, giving a good feel for the environment, before moving to the High Angle Battery, which is probably one of my favourite places on the island. The now derelict fort was built near the Verne as part of the British Coastal Defence in 1892. Built down in a disused quarry, the guns were hidden from the view of hostile ships, creating the element of surprise, where the guns would attempt to drop shells onto the decks of ships, firing as far as 8km. The fort was decommissioned in 1906 after the increasing use of smaller craft made the guns far less likely to actual hit a target. The fort is left open to the public today where it still remains in good intact condition, including the tunnels which originally used a rail system to transport shells to the guns. The documentary only covers this fort very briefly but still features enough footage to give a good feel of the site, whilst the information from Brown is informative and gives a quick insight into the fort. Nicodemus Knob, a 10 metre high pillar of limestone rock, located in an area of old quarrying. The pillar marks the amount of stone quarried away, by hand, from the Admiralty Quarry area by convicts to provide stone for the construction of both the Verne Citadel and the Portland Breakwater during the 19th century. The stone is an important site and an area that I had seen many times and yet knew little about until recently.
----Portland Stone, East Weares and the Portland Branch Railway----
Now the Isle of Portland is well known for the unique and much used Portland Stone, which has been used in both British and world architecture, including St Paul's Cathedral and the United Nations Headquarters. It is only natural that the documentary highlights this industry on the island, where Mark Godden of Albion Stone Quarries speaks of the stone's formation and importance, as well as the quarrying history on the island, whilst the footage shows the a working quarry area, showing how important the industry is on the island and also the extent of the quarrying. Godden also goes through the modern operation techniques of quarrying as well as Portland's long-term superstition of the word rabbit due to the belief that the small furry animals were behind many quarrying accidents in the past. The next footage is a highlight of the DVD where it shows the East Weares area of Portland from the air - a view that obviously most visitors to the island would never get to see, whilst Brown gives information on the landscape's formation. The large buildings shown in this footage, although not mentioned, were belonging to the Royal Navy, named HMS Osprey which was a busy helicopter airfield. It closed in 1999 and sadly today most of the base has been demolished. The narration does speak of the Portland Branch Railway, which ran from Weymouth to Portland's Easton village. The railway was laid in 1865, where it was built along part of Portland's most unstable areas and therefore prone to rock falls and landslides. It closed to passengers in 1952, whilst goods trains continued until the final journey in April 1965 and today the railway is non-existent although remaining traces can be found around the island. I myself have great curiosity of this railway and the actual fact that a railway once existed surprised me at first a few years ago. The large concrete structure in the footage further to the left of the HMS Osprey buildings is also not mentioned but this is a now abandoned rifle range, constructed for Victorian military sharpshooters.
----Church Ope Cove, St. Andrews Church and Rufus Castle----
We then get to the wonderful area that is Church Ope Cove area which firstly highlights the ruins of St. Andrews Church, built in the 13th century where it was the main place of worship for the population of Portland. Over time the church was damaged by both landslips and invasions of French pirates, causing the church to become unsuitable as a place of worship and left in ruins. This led to St. Georges Church being built in the mid-18th century, close to Easton and Weston area. Above the ruins is Rufus Castle, which is highlighted next. Also known as Bow and Arrow Castle, the castle dates back from the late 15th century, on the site of a former, larger Norman castle which dates back almost 900 years and today remains out of bounds to the public as it is unstable. Both Pennsylvania Castle and the ruins of John Penn's Bath within the area are not mentioned in the documentary but are well worth reading into as well. Some footage of the Church Ope Cove beach during peak season shows a few visitors enjoying the area's offerings. The information highlights the Great Southwell Landslip of 1734, where the beach was created. The Church Ope Cove beach was originally sand-based, until the quarry debris was left abandoned on the beach and worn into rounded pebbles. Today the beach remains popular for activities such as fishing and swimming, whilst providing diving access to various wrecks in the area. I myself never really explored this area very much when I lived on the island as I was located closer to Chesil Beach area and not in this part of the island. Each time I have visited the island since late 2010, I have made sure I have visited this area, which also features the great Portland Museum nearby. The footage then follows further south to the area, which is a part of the island I should certainly be more familiar with. The information in this part speaks of the geology and landscape, explaining the cause of the area's tilting.
----Portland Bill, The Lighthouses and the Forest and Avalanche tragedy----
After some more footage from the air of the cliffs and coastline leading to the south, Portland Bill becomes the next highlight and is probably Portland's biggest landmark site, where the area features three lighthouses, although two of these are now un-used. A truly unique place to visit, both the Old Higher Lighthouse and the Old Lower Lighthouse are shown first, where the information from Brown provides insight into the history of both. The former lighthouse today is a holiday cottage whilst the latter is a bird observatory, originally opened in the 1960s. The Trinity House Obelisk is highlighted next, a seven metre structure, built in 1844, which warns ships during the daytime of the rugged coastline. The main lighthouse is highlighted next, which is the biggest of all three. Built in 1906, the lighthouse replaced the other two older lighthouses. The footage highlights the inside of the now automated lighthouse, showing the steps and the actual light system at the top. The owners Trinity House open the lighthouse and its visitor centre during peak season, where the public can pay a small cost to get to the top via 153 steps. The next natural part of the documentary highlights the fact that many wrecks and ship-related disasters have occurred off of Portland's dangerous coastline, where old photographs of various disasters are highlighted before Portland Historian Stuart Morris gives some insightful information of the reason for so many wrecks, where he mainly highlights the collision of the Forest and Avalanche of September 1877 in particular. This tragedy has become a well remembered part of Portland's maritime history. The iron-built Avalanche ship, holding many families on board, was returning to Northern Ireland, whilst the Forest was a wooden ship, on a route to New York. On the fateful stormy night, the two ships collided off of Portland Bill, where the Avalanche sank in five minutes, with only three crew survivors, whilst the Forest sank not long after and despite three lifeboats being launched from the Forest, holding 12 people each, only one had survived by morning. Local fishermen the next morning bravely rescued the single surviving boat in stormy weather. A total of 106 people died that night, and a national appeal followed where the Avalanche Church was built not long after in memorial of those who died that night and the bravery of the local fishermen. Footage of the church was particularly great for me as I have not seen the church too often and particularly not inside which the documentary nicely shows. The church today is open to visitors mainly during peak season, where the Avalanche's anchor is found outside and various artefacts from the tragedy inside, including stained glass windows showing scenes of the event. This entire event was something new for me and I took great interest in this part of the documentary, where Morris really gives some fascinating information behind the tragedy.
----Pulpit Rock, West Weares, Mutton Cove and fossils----
After finally showing some anglers fishing in the area and the crane at Portland Bill, which is used to lower fishermen's boats, the documentary turns to Pulpit Rock, also found in the area. This rock was created in the 1870s when quarrymen cut away a natural arch, where it remains a popular site ever since. Some information on the geology and formation of two small raised beaches is given, which is itself fascinating. But whilst all this footage shows Portland Bill on a calm day, the next part of the DVD shows the area in stormy conditions, showing just how powerful the waves can be. The documentary then takes the viewer to the west side of the island, and some more fantastic views from the air, whilst information from Brown speaks largely of the formation and geology behind the West Weares cliffs. Mutton Cove is highlighted in this section, where ripples of rock shows Portland's ancient sea bed as well as highlighting the remaining fossilised algae growths that forms around the base of tree stumps, whilst providing a quick view of a fossilised tree stump outside of the Portland Heights Hotel. Continuing the fossil-related history of Portland, we next see Ben Hussey of Hanson Portland and Bath Stone who talks of the two types of Portland Stone, one more basic in formation and the other highlighting many small fossils. Hussey also shows the types of fossils that can be found during quarrying operations, including fish, trees, large ammonites and more rarely dinosaur footprints.
----Rock formations, rock climbing and Blacknor Fort----
The footage then highlights an interesting look into the rock formations of Flowstone, caused by the dissolving of limestone by water, where Calcite Crystals are formed when the water is undisturbed, and these crystals are highlighted, including the Portland Jewel crystal. We next see rock climbers in action, as the West Weares cliffs are a perfect area for this activity, due to being much more stable compared to the East Weares cliffs. Although I am not one who would ever consider rock climbing, the footage is still remarkably interesting. Blacknor Fort and the surrounding area is then featured, a Victorian fortress built as coastal defence around 1902, where the stronghold was re-equipped during the World Wars. The Slapton Sands Massacre is also highlighted. The fort's gunners were ordered not to open fire for fear of friendly fire when Nazi E-Boats attacked landing crafts carrying many American soldiers who were on exercise in Lyme Bay. The massacre saw more than 600 American soldiers and seamen drowned by the end of the night, where many were pulled down by the weight of their own equipment. This fort is now a private residence. The West Weares man-made scree slopes are highlighted too, created by quarrying waste which was thrown off the edge. This section highlights the area and the history, including the railway/tramway network within the area of Tout Quarry, as well as in the Verne Hill area. The good stone was transported via the Merchants Railway to Castledown, (Portland Port area), where it was shipped all over the world.
----Tout Quarry, the Portland Sculpture Trust and ending----
Tout Quarry is then highlighted, where in 1983 the ex-quarrying area became a Sculpture Park, today holding over 70 different sculptures. The park is open to the public and within the area is a workshop run by the Trust that preserves the area. The quarry was a popular place for me growing up and so this was an interesting look into the area's history as well as the sculpturing. Paul Crabtree of the Portland Sculpture Trust speaks of the workshop, which runs sculpture lessons for people of all skill levels during peak season. The footage shows the quarry's formation and appearance nicely, whilst Crabtree runs through the quarry's history, before the footage highlights various fantastic sculptures within the area as well as the wildlife that has flourished in the area naturally without any seed planting of foliage etc. Lastly, Crabtree speaks of the rock that is used for the sculptures and its formation, before the footage moves to The Spirit of Portland sculpture by Joanna Szuwalska and the fully refurbished old quarrying hand-crane, which both sit at Priory Corner area, where the main road takes people from the bottom of the island to the Tophill area - essentially the rest of the island. Both Chesil Beach and Portland's War Memorial are briefly shown, although only some very basic detail is given into Chesil Beach, as the view of the beach is shown from the top part of the island near Priory Corner and not actually up close to it. The final scene concludes the documentary and scenes of a setting sun amongst various Portland sites. Although it would have been nice to expand into the Chesil Beach and surrounding area of the island a little more, Part 4 of the series highlights Chesil to Charmouth anyway so of course the series doesn't miss this important and notable area out. Besides, this DVD had already crammed so much great information into an hour that I was already fully pleased with the entire documentary and surely any other viewer would be too.
The Jurassic Coast DVD Series Part 3 is an excellent look into some of Weymouth's area but mainly Portland's fantastic unique environment. The footage is in good quality whilst the DVD is professionally done. As mentioned earlier, the documentary doesn't show all of Portland's features, but it does show a tremendous amount and is probably the best insight into the island currently available on DVD. Most of the footage uses some soothing background music which is solely keyboards in a grand orchestral theme, and this music works beautifully amongst the breathtaking scenery, whilst other music includes similar themes and is just as effective. Each special guest provides valuable information whilst narrator Malcolm Brown is perfectly professional and inviting as he provides some fantastic information into the area's history, geology and formation. The documentary highlights plenty of interesting facts and footage in just under an hour, and the DVD certainly told me a number of things that I didn't know before. Colin Froud of Divercol Productions, who handled the DVD's concept, camera and editing, has done a great job on this DVD and I fully expect that all other four parts to the Jurassic Coast Series to be just as good, and I do hope to obtain these in the future and give them each a deserved watch. A great thing about this DVD is that the documentary is not just for those who love the area, but anyone interested in geology etc or the Jurassic Coast in general. Overall, The Jurassic Coast DVD Series Part 3 is a fascinating and worthwhile dive into one of England's greatest coastal treasures - thoroughly recommended.
Aside from local shops stocking the DVD, various online shops do too, but the main online store is Amazon which offers the DVD for about £10.
----The series available on DVD----
Jurassic Coast DVD Series Part 1 - Old Harry Rocks to Chapmans Pool
Jurassic Coast DVD Series Part 2 - Kimmeridge to Osmington Mills
Jurassic Coast DVD Series Part 3 - Weymouth to Portland
Jurassic Coast DVD Series Part 4 - Chesil to Charmouth
Jurassic Coast DVD Series Part 5 - Lyme Regis to Orcombe Point
Jurassic Coast Double Disc DVD Special Edition (Containing over 2.5 hours of footage, where the viewer can choose to watch either the documentary, aerial film or the Jurassic Coast Compilation Film - a multi-picture film which includes both these films as well as an additional forward looking aerial perspective and information about the time period, age of the rocks, type of rocks, a map with moving cursor and place name all on the same screen.)
During 1982 and 1983, Alison Moyet had become hugely successful as the vocalist for the synth-pop duo Yazoo. The duo had a small number of hits such as Only You and Don't Go. Moyet's bluesy and rather unique voice had become well known and instantly recognisable. However, upon the release of the duo's second album You And Me Both in mid-1983, the duo soon announced they were splitting up. Yazoo only lasted a year and a half. The musician of Yazoo was Vince Clarke who went on to form the highly successful duo Erasure with singer Andy Bell. Moyet signed with Columbia Records in order to start a solo career. She teamed up with the songwriter and producer duo Steve Jolley & Tony Swain to record her debut. The result was Alf, titled after Moyet's own nickname.
The album's opener is titled Love Resurrection which begins with a strong synthesizer melody which immediately sets the tone of the album and gives plenty of atmosphere. The verse opens with some solid vocals from Moyet over an effective use of synthesizer. A memorable chorus follows with some great production that involves using double-layered vocals, both from Moyet, one layer being harmonic vocal and the other being the lead. A strong synthesizer solo is featured in this song whilst the ending features some strong backing vocals. The lyrics may refer to a person wishing to resurrect their love although the lyrics are suggestive in places. Overall, a brilliant album opener, perfectly setting the tone of the album which contains plenty of maturity and richness. "What can I do to make light of this dull, dull day? What switch can I pull to illuminate the way? Show me one direction, I will not question again, for a warm injection is all I need to calm the pain..."
The next track Honey For The Bees is an energetic track with a pulsating synthesizer riff over another, showing the track's strong construction. The verses feature some strong vocal from Moyet over a synthesized bassline. The pre-chorus builds the song up with some dominant vocals. A strong and memorable chorus follows with some great lyrics, solid vocals and some brilliant synthesizer which gives the chorus an overall energetic feel. A strong solo section is featured which have a mixture of synthesizer stabs and backing vocal. Percussion is a strong highlight of this track. The lyrics most likely refer to desire with some lines being suggestive. A strong album track. "Every time I look at you I know, your fighting your emotions. Now you have no choice but to let go, and dive into my ocean. Honey for the bees, sugar never was so sweet..."
For You Only is a rather chilling song with a dark atmosphere. This track opens with a rather haunting synthesizer melody which carried Moyet's sensitive vocal through the verses. A strong chorus follows which features some hopeful vocals, strong percussion and some strong synthesizer. This particular section manages to slightly lighten the mood of the song which adds to the strength and effectiveness of this song's chorus. The lyrical theme is fairly self-explanatory of a lonely person who longs for the return of their partner who could be either gone temporarily or for good. This great song flows perfectly throughout and is both haunting and touching - bursting with emotion. "Ready to embrace the day as we both break. When the light stole in it found me wide awake. Wasted from the sleepless night, I wished to touch your hair. Withdraw an empty hand, for you're no longer there..."
The following track Invisible is one of the highlights of this album, written by Lamont Dozier. The song opens with an strongly emotional and heartfelt synthesizer melody. Moyet's vocals are fantastic throughout the entire song, probably one of her greatest vocal performances. The verses carry Moyet's emotional performance by some great piano. A fantastic chorus follows which is both memorable and have a great emotive message. The brilliantly written lyrics refer to a bad relationship where Moyet's partner consistently ignores her, treats her badly and flirts with other women however she cannot force herself to leave him. Moyet conveys a perfect balance of anger and pain in her vocals, making this song extremely effective. A beautiful song overall. "You don't have the time and you wont spend a dime, not even to call me, oh. You don't know I exist and I wouldn't be missed if I had the nerve to quit you..." and "I tell myself lies and give you alibis, knowing your promises you'll never keep. Like a merry-go-round I'm going up, going down, I'm on a dead end street..." are two strong examples of the emotional message within the lyrics.
Steal Me Blind is a mid tempo ballad which opens with a strong and memorable synthesizer melody. The verses consist of strong vocal, great backing vocal, background synthesizer and a perfect sense of rhythm within the percussion. A great pre-chorus features a more dominant synthesizer melody and some emotional vocal from Moyet. The chorus is breathtaking, thoroughly strong and feature some great backing vocals. The lyrics refer to her friend's being inconsiderate by bleeding her dry and stealing her blind. This song is another powerful album track with plenty of depth. "Well my friends I feel it's time, to reassess the situation and decide what's mine. Every time you steal me blind, with no consideration for the way I feel inside. And you just look at me, like you don't understand. How could we, how could we let it get so out of hand?"
All Cried Out is another highlight of the album, a strong song that showcases Moyet's vocals well. The album version here is almost seven minutes long whereas the single version is only just over three and a half minutes. A interesting opening features backing vocal, solid percussion and melodic synthesizer. This rather friendly section soon turns to a grim sound which features some great percussion and a couple of emotional synthesizer layers. The verses flow nicely with some rather low vocals from Moyet over some strong percussion and backing synthesizer. A strong pre-chorus shows Moyet building her emotion up in her vocal performance. The chorus follows with brilliant vocals from Moyet and some strong backing vocals over a great synthesizer melody. A huge solo section is present in the album version which allows the listener to explore the full depths of the instrumentation. This section features a great mixture of synthesizer, rich percussion and a small part of backing vocal. The lyrics of this song refer to a woman who's been pushed around by her partner and is now standing up for herself by moving on. "You took your time to come back this time, the grass has grown under your feet. In your absence I've changed my mind and someone else is sitting in your seat..." and "It's hard to give you something when you're pushing and a-shoving me around..." are two examples of the anger within the lyrics.
The next track Money Mile opens with melodic piano, rich percussion and a memorable vocal chant. Moyet's vocals in the verses are interesting as she almost purposely stutters for effect throughout the lines. These verses carry the vocals by strong piano. A strong chorus features some strong vocals and solid backing vocals with synthesizer and piano. This song contains a strong ending section, consisting of piano, great backing vocal and the previous vocal chant. The lyrics most likely refer to how those who are rich or have power simply don't care about the less fortunate. An effective song, overall rich in piano, percussion and vocal. "Into your car park, drive obsolete motors, with petrol consumption at too higher price. Sell us through windows at backroom board meetings, blindfolded and handcuffed and in single file..." and "On your money mile, we are the faceless, the nameless, the homeless. On your money mile, there in your fortress where you couldn't care less..." are two examples of the lyrical meaning.
Following is Twisting The Knife which begins with a two lively synthesizer melodies. The verses feature some strong vocal from Moyet and some interesting lyrics. A pre-chorus builds the song slowly up whilst the chorus is strong and memorable, consisting of brilliant vocal, nice backing vocal and a great synthesizer. A strong and energetic synthesizer solo is included whilst the ending closes with the infectious chorus. Lyricsally, this song could be interpreted as somebody who is no longer going to watch her partner 'twist the knife'. One line that shows this is "I'd like to help you but I can't stand by and watch you twisting the knife, they've got you wasting your life..." The entire song is one of the most lively tracks on the album but still manages to maintain plenty of emotion and depth. "I'd rather turn out all the lights than see you looking like this, caress me with your anger, sting me with your kiss. You've been pushing too hard, I've been trying too long, now I don't believe I have the will to carry on..."
The album's closer is Where Hides Sleep which showcases Moyet's vocals perfectly throughout. The introduction features some haunting multi-layered vocals which follows with a reoccurring synthesizer melody. The first verse is rich in synthesizer and features some rather haunting lyrics. Lyrically, the song's meaning is unclear but may refer to the linking of pain and desire. Another interpretation is the message of frustrated love and sensual longing. The entire song flows beautifully along, showcasing Moyet's vocals throughout. Although the song lacks melody, it is a strong track with plenty of emotional depth that closes the album perfectly. "I open my lips to your warm ancient potion, I would be still and devoid of emotion. For I would be slumber that I could be rest, curl in warm embers of such peacefulness, caressed by oblivion and swallowed by dreams..."
Alf was a huge success when released, becoming a huge hit worldwide. The album went to number one in both the UK and New Zealand. In the UK, the album lasted a total of 84 weeks in the top 100. Alf was a fair hit in America, peaking at #45. The lead single was Love Resurrection which was a hit, peaking at #10 in the UK. All Cried Out followed, becoming a hit throughout Europe and peaking at #8 in the UK. Invisible was released to big success throughout Europe, peaking at #21 in the UK and #6 in Ireland. The single also became Moyet's biggest American hit, peaking at #31. Finally, a remixed version of For You Only was released, becoming Moyet's biggest hit in Germany, peaking at #7. Since the release of the album, Moyet has stated that she has bad feelings regarding the album, mainly due to the overall sound of the songs. At the time, she was simply happy to be recording an album and starting a solo career.
Overall, I highly recommend this album for any 80s music fan. This album has something for everyone with an overall rich sound, unique vocals and plenty of depth. Every song is beautifully constructed with plenty of maturity. The overall production is very 80s and therefore may sound dated to some but this only gives the songs plenty of atmosphere and feeling. Moyet had begun her solo career with a strong start. Alf is a brilliant slice of 80s, showcasing Moyet's incredible vocal and writing talent.
Review originally posted on Ciao
It was 1991 when one of Britain's best loved bands released their last studio album to include all new material titled Innuendo. Although not quite the band's last album all together, 1995's Made In Heaven was a posthumous album but did feature some reworkings of various solo material that had already been released earlier. From the late 80s, it was largely publicised that Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury hadn't been looking particularly healthy and although these accusations were denied, it eventually became fairly obvious. In terms of the band's career, the band had struck huge stardom with their performance at 1985's Live Aid. Mercury went on to release some solo material until the band released 1989's The Miracle which focused on the 80s commercial sound and today is regarded as one of the band's least worthy offerings. Mercury knew and the band knew that time was running out due to Mercury's declining health. From early 1989 to late 1990, the group worked hard in the studio to release what would be their final album. Queen's final hour proved to be Innuendo.
The album's opener is titled Innuendo which lasts a whole six and a half minutes. From the drum roll opening comes a rather dark synthesizer melody. The verses carry some strong vocals from Mercury with the use of synthesizer and percussion. Some strong guitar is added for the chorus which is both powerful and well crafted. The lyrical message is summed up nicely in the chorus with lines such as "Oh yes, we'll keep on trying, tread that fine line..." After the second chorus is a new section which features some calm and casual vocals over flamenco guitar. A solo with the same instrument follows, played by Steve Howe of the band Yes. The following section features some strong orchestration and group vocals which a great lead guitar solo follows. This section flows into the final verse which is backed by the original synthesizer melody. The ending of the song closes with the final chorus, complete with anthemic backing vocals. Mercury's vocals are solid throughout whilst lyrically, this song refers to mankind's inability to live in peace with each other. The dark atmosphere of the track allows this lyrical message to sound strong throughout. "While we live according to race, colour or creed, while we rule by blind madness and pure greed. Our lives dictated by tradition, superstition, false religion, through the aeons, and on and on..."
Following is I'm Going Slightly Mad which was primarily written by Mercury and Peter Straker. Right from the introduction, this track features a dark and rather gloomy synthesizer melody. The verses benefit from some witty lyrics and some low vocals from Mercury. Lyrically, this song is rather eerie, based on an individual now mad due to AIDS dementia. Obviously, these lyrics are personal to Mercury which makes the entire song much more important to this album. The chorus breaks the ice with the line "I'm going slightly mad, it finally happened..." Complete with the backing synthesizer melody, the chorus could be interpreted as both humorous and rather dark. Following the second chorus is a strong guitar solo which continues to capture the atmosphere of the track. Right to the end the song continues this atmosphere. The promotional video for this track further proves the dark imagery behind this song. A strong track consisting of dark lyrics, unsettling instrumentation and grim vocals. "One thousand and one yellow daffodils begin to dance in front of you, oh dear. Are they trying to tell you something? You're missing that one final screw, you're simply not in the pink my dear, to be honest you haven't got a clue..."
Next is the stadium rocker titled Headlong, primarily written by guitarist Brian May. Originally written for a May solo album, Mercury's take on the vocals were so good that the number became a Queen track. The song immediately begins with sharp percussion and heavy guitar. The song begins with an opening version of the chorus which is both memorable and hard hitting. Mercury's vocals are on top form with plenty of power throughout the track. The verses flow with some interesting lyrics and more strong vocals, backed by vicious guitar. The next chorus follows which features strong backing vocals, creating a solid anthemic feel. A fantastic guitar solo is featured in this track, followed by the ending which consists of more heavy guitar and some strong vocal work. A strong stadium rocker with a huge anthemic feel. No doubt this song would have been included as part of Queen's live set if the band were able to tour at that time, sadly not to be. "Now you've got soup in the laundry bag, now you've got strings you're gonna lose your rag. You're getting in a fight then it ain't so groovy when you're screaming in the night "let me out of this cheap B movie"..."
I Can't Live With You is another rocker written by May which is another highlight of this album. The song opens with a strong guitar riff which the chorus immediately follows. This chorus features some anthemic group vocals that use the call and response musical technique in which the group are answered by solo vocal from Mercury straight after. During Mercury's response, there is some strong harmony vocals. The chorus is immediately memorable and strong. Synthesizer features straight after until the track flows into the first verse. For the verses, a simple but effective guitar riff carries some strong vocals from Mercury. The pre-chorus features backing synthesizer and some more excellent vocals from Mercury, making a memorable section which leads to the chorus again. A great backing vocal section leads into a strong guitar solo. The ending of track features a stunning vocal performance which fades out nicely. Lyrically, this song is very personal to May. "I travelled a long road to get hold of my sorrow, I tried to catch a dream but nothing's what it seems. Love is saying baby it's all right, when deep inside you're really petrified, lover turns to hater on this escalator..."
Don't Try So Hard slows the album down and allows Mercury to showcase his vocals in an operatic fashion. The song opens with Mercury's high vocals over a grand, atmospheric and chilling synthesizer. During the verse, backing guitar is present but doesn't fully feature until the chorus. For the chorus, percussion and guitar carry Mercury's strong vocals along in a powerful but emotive fashion. Mercury's vocal performance is spectacular throughout and very chilling. Following the second verse comes a strong section featuring some great harmonic vocals. A powerful guitar solo follows this section which leads into the final chorus. Lyrically, the song refers to the harder someone tries, the more difficult life will get and therefore should allow themselves time to wind down as well. The entire song is a showcase to the band's versatility. A rather atmospheric song with a rock edge all the same. "When your problems seem like mountains, you feel the need to find some answers, you can leave it for another day, don't try so hard..." and "If you fail you mustn't grumble, thank your lucky stars. Just savour every mouthful and treasure every moment. When the storms are raging round you, stay right where you are..." are two examples of the inspirational lyrics.
Next is Ride The Wild Wind which was primarily written by drummer Roger Taylor. This song focuses on the sensation of driving and the use of instrumentation in this track creates the atmosphere for driving, complete with racing sound effects of a car. The song opens with a guitar drone which immediately leads to the chorus. Mercury's vocals are solid with backing vocal from Taylor. Synthesizer creates a layer of atmosphere behind the track which leads into a instrumental section before the verse. This section features strong, fast paced guitar and frantic drumming. For the verses, Mercury's vocal is carried by some more atmospheric synthesizer and a rhythmic bassline. The following chorus flows nicely with more fantastic vocal work. A strong guitar solo is featured which leads into the final chorus. The ending features some strong drumming, synthesizer and the repeating of the song's title. "Get your head down baby, yeah, we're gonna ride tonight, your angel eyes are shining bright. I wanna take your hand, lead you from this place. Gonna leave it all behind, check out of this rat race..."
All God's People was primarily written by Mercury and Mike Moran who had worked with Mercury on his 1987-1988 solo project with operatic vocalist Montserrat Caballé. The lyrical theme here refers to the relationship between all people on earth and how we are all one with God and therefore should be treated equally. The song opens with some strong vocals from Mercury which features some multi-layered vocals by Mercury which runs throughout the track. Guitar nicely weaves throughout the first section of the song. Production is particularly strong throughout with plenty of interesting effects added to the song. The following section features more multi-layered vocal and a memorable keyboard melody. Following on is a strong guitar section and another verse which is carried by some solid piano, this is followed by a grand synthesizer solo. The final minute of the track features more multi-layered vocals, backing guitar and some interesting instrumentation with the synthesizer whilst the ending features some fade out percussion. This song certainly has a operatic Mercury influence, much like the solo project with Caballé but this track does lack a memorable melody unlike the other songs. Despite this, production is a highlight on this track as well as the interesting effect on Mercury's vocal. The entire song has plenty of depth and a slight gospel-influenced feel to it. "Rule with your heart and live with your conscience, we're all God's people, give freely..."
Following is These Are The Days of Our Lives which was mainly written by Roger Taylor. One of the band's most simple in terms of structure and yet is a strong highlight on this album. The song begins with a simple but strong drum rhythm. Following is the verse that features some casual vocal from Mercury which is carried by backing synthesizer and a hint of guitar. A simple but effective chorus features some strong vocals and melodic keyboard. This track features a very memorable guitar solo after the second chorus. The ending nicely winds down after the final chorus. Lyrically, the song refers to memories of being a child and how carefree those times were compared to being an adult. This song's promotional video was the last created to feature new footage of Mercury. This was at the time where Mercury was extremely ill and only a few weeks from death. "The days were endless, we were crazy, we were young. The sun was always shining, we just lived for fun. Sometimes it seems like lately, I just don't know, the rest of my life's been just a show..." and "You can't turn back the clock, you can't turn back the tide, ain't that a shame. I'd like to go back one time on a roller coaster ride, when life was just a game..." are two strong examples of the lyrics.
Delilah follows which was written by Mercury based on his own favourite housecat. Whilst the lyrics may have a limited appeal, the song is the closest thing to a happy pop tune on the album. The song kicks in with the vocals immediately which are backed by a memorable synthesizer melody. Mercury's vocals are strong throughout and work nicely with the instrumentation. The first half of the song flows similarly in this fashion. A strong guitar solo follows after the first two main vocal sections. Shortly after is some vocals that meow whilst some guitar, that was recorded using a talk box, gives the sound of a cat meowing. An interesting idea but still unneeded as it does sound out of place even with the lyrical message. The ending of the track fades out nicely with the recurring synthesizer melody, a small bit of vocal and some guitar. Taylor was not fond of the song and had only agreed to let it be included on the album due to it being one of Mercury's final wishes. "You make me smile when I'm just about to cry, you bring me hope, you make me laugh and I like it. You get away with murder so innocent but when you throw a moody, you're all claws and you bite, that's all right..."
The Hitman is probably the heaviest track on the album although the original version was apparently on keyboards and in a different key. The introduction immediately features a hard-hitting guitar riff and some solid percussion. Mercury's vocals follow and are on top form here. After two vocal sections, a short but strong synthesizer melody appears with some weaving guitar. Throughout there is some strong and anthemic backing vocals which make this piece rather energetic. The final minute of the song is one large guitar solo which works well to close the track. Production from both Queen and David Richards mixes all instruments perfectly together. Overall, this song isn't a particular stand-out on the album and isn't as well constructed as other tracks. There is no usual verse and chorus sections but instead the song runs as one large theme. Despite the weaknesses, the entire song showcases some strong rock and highlights some great guitar. "Hey, I'm the hitman, stand aside. I'm the hitman, I want your life. Ain't no escaping, don't run and hide. There goes the neighbourhood, I'm gonna kill for your love, that's right..."
The next track titled Bijou was primarily written by Mercury and May. The idea of the song was having guitar doing the verses and the vocal doing the solo break. The song opens with a strong guitar solo and some backing synthesizer which adds a layer of atmosphere behind the guitar. Here, the guitar crystallizes a certain feeling of loneliness. The first solo lasts almost a minute and then pauses before continuing into the following short section. Mercury's vocals come into the track about one minute and twenty seconds into the track. Although the vocals are not long, Mercury's performance is emotive and strong. This section is backed by some grand synthesizer. After the vocal section, the guitar solo continues for another part. The final section sees the guitar becoming more strong and dominant before backing down again until synthesizer fades the track out. The word bijou is French for a jewel. A rather unique track, inspired by the 1989 song Where Were You? by Jeff Beck. "You and me, we are destined, you'll agree, to spend the rest of our lives with each other. The rest of our days like two lovers forever, yeah, forever, my bijou..."
The album's closer titled The Show Must Go On needs no introduction as one of Queen's most popular recordings, particularly of the band's latter day material. The song was primarily written by May, taken from an initial idea of a chord sequence that Taylor and bassist John Deacon were working on. The track opens with a haunting synthesizer melody which leads into a fantastic vocal performance by Mercury which maintains the right amount of gloomy emotion. For the chorus, a mixture of incredible vocals, strong percussion, backing synthesizer and powerful guitar makes a anthemic and memorable chorus. During the second verse, guitar weaves around the melody nicely and there is also some strong backing vocals. Lyrically, the song has several meanings. It could refer to how life must go on regardless of what happens or even about the band themselves and Mercury's inevitable fate. A strong guitar solo follows from the second chorus which leads into a hopeful vocal section. The ending of the track features a strong vocal performance and a clever fade out, making this track a perfect album closer. However, this song doesn't just serve as an album closer but also as the final farewell from the original band which it was aside from the 1995 Made In Heaven album. "The show must go on, yeah, oh, inside my heart is breaking, my make-up may be flaking but my smile still stays on..." and "Whatever happens, I'll leave it all to chance. Another heartache, another failed romance. On and on, Does anybody know what we are living for?" are two examples of the heartfelt lyrics.
Innuendo saw the band focusing on making a true farewell. Upon release, the album was hugely successful worldwide although overall the album received mixed reviews from critics. Today, critical reception has changed and Innuendo is regarded as one of the band's greatest works. The album topped the charts in many countries including the UK, Ireland and Switzerland whilst peaking at #30 in America. The leading single Innuendo peaked at number one in the UK. I'm Going Slightly Mad followed and became a minor success, peaking at #22 in the UK. Headlong was the first single released in America and third in Europe, peaking at #14 in the UK, #3 on the American mainstream rock chart but failing to enter the top 100 singles in America. The Show Must Go On was released in late 1991 and peaked at #16 in the UK and #40 on the mainstream rock chart in America. These Are The Days of Our Lives was released as a double a-side with Bohemian Rhapsody after Mercury's death, peaking at #1 in the UK. Ride The Wild Wind was released as a single exclusive to Poland where it topped the chart. Finally, I Can't Live With You was remixed by Brian Malouf and released as a promotional single in America where it peaked at #28 on the American mainstream rock chart. Overall, each single was widely successful worldwide, especially throughout Europe although America didn't seem very interested in the band at the time until Mercury's death when Bohemian Rhapsody peaked at #2 in the American top 100 singles chart.
On the whole I highly recommend this album to any rock or pop fan. This album features an eccentric mix of tracks, all strong in their own way with perfect production that is consistent throughout the album. Since the mid-80s, Queen had released material that sounded more and more commercial for the times. This album returned the band to their 70s roots whilst maintaining that commercial sound along with plenty of maturity. The album was a perfect farewell from Mercury and marked the end of the original band. Innuendo is a splendid album, the perfect swansong for Queen, bursting with creativity and memorable performances from each member of the band.
Review originally posted on Ciao
Brackenbury House is a small but cosy family guesthouse in the small village Fortuneswell, on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, United Kingdom. Fortuneswell itself is the gateway to Portland, and so conveniently allows guests to explore on the area on foot. Brackenbury House was built in 1902 as a Manse for the neighbouring Methodist church and is today located near a good selection of shops, pubs, restaurants and a bus stop, perfect for getting around the area without a car. Brackenbury House is a 3 star tourist board graded Bed & Breakfast.
The owners have described the B&B themselves nicely: "Brackenbury House is situated on Portland in the centre of the Jurassic Coast. We are a 3 star family run bed and breakfast with 5 bedrooms close to restaurants, local shops and public transport. A multitude of sea and rural views are within easy reach, and the historic town of Weymouth is a short distance away. Sporting facilities include Sailing, Diving, Fishing, Climbing, Walking and Bird Watching etc."
Portland is a limestone tied island, connected by Chesil Beach to Weymouth, and of course surrounded by the sea. Whilst the popular holiday destination Weymouth offers plenty of activity from shopping, beaches, attractions and a good amount of nightlife, Portland is more for those looking to take in some fantastic scenery and enjoy walking.
Being born in Dorchester, I lived in Weymouth for roughly four years before the family moved to Portland where I spent my childhood growing up in the best place I could ever imagine. Although we moved to Cornwall in 2005, I still like to visit Portland and hope to live nearby in the future. After not visiting Portland for almost two years, me and my now ex-girlfriend decided to get to Weymouth on the train, meet up with an old friend of mine and stay overnight, catching the train back home the next day. This was December 2010, our first stay at Brackenbury House.
I had originally looked for simple accommodation, something that wouldn't turn out too costly. A search online revealed Brackenbury House to be an obvious choice, and a place I recalled the location of. Booking a room was very easily done through email and after meeting up with my old friend and spending the day looking around Portland, we arrived at the B&B and were greeted by the couple who run the house. Being the first time I've ever stayed somewhere without my family, I found the quiet atmosphere and friendly reception excellent. After our stay, we returned again in April 2011 for two nights to see a couple of my friends and again in September 2011 for another two nights, just to see Portland as the two of us. All three visits were in the same room.
The B&B has five rooms available, one double room with an en-suite, two twin rooms with an en-suite, one double room with a separate bathroom and one double room with semi en-suite (shower and wash basin). Although we were only in one room each stay, I am sure that all other four rooms are in exceptional condition. As stated on the website, although the house, both outside and the rooms, has undergone much restoration over the years, most of the original features remain and the house still retains its original character, which is certainly true in my opinion. Also, as a family based B&B, the guests were very considerate and we ourselves were never once disturbed at any point by anyone during our stays.
The house on the outside is very nice, having a well looked after image, including some attractive foliage outside. Although not used by us, two free parking areas are also available whilst the B&B will make special parking arrangements for you should these spaces be occupied. Located along the main road which allows traffic to come from Fortuneswell and make their way higher up the island, towards Easton, there is the sound of traffic but this isn't unbearably loud at all, far from it. As our room was at the front of the building, we were at our closest to the road outside and as one of Portland's busiest roads, we still easily got some good sleep as the solid windows do keep the traffic noise to a minimum.
Inside, the corridors of the B&B were also very nice, well decorated and exceptionally clean. As you come through the main door, there is an inner door and then the downstairs hallway. On the left is a private lounge for the owners and on the right is the dining room for breakfast. Straight past the stairs are further private rooms and the kitchen. All five rooms are located upstairs, which is where the guests will be at all times aside from breakfast, as although there is no guest lounge area, the rooms are fully comfortable for relaxing and taking it easy.
Our room was a twin room, both nicely decorated, tidy, clean smelling and comfortable for two people. Although the room size is limited, the furniture doesn't demand all the room so moving around is still easy. The decoration is a nice green colour, not too light or too dark, as well as patterned wallpaper for the bottom half of the walls. Coming through the stable and secure door to the room, a non-operational fireplace is seen, a nice addition to the room, patterned with a mix of black, brown and grey. With this fireplace, there are plenty of leaflets to look at, based on local attractions in Dorset and some artificial flowers, as well as a small mirror above. The leaflets and brochures had me interested as during our short rests from walking during the day, an hour or so can be used to read through some of them, and obviously help guests decide where they might like to go.
Each bed was comfortable, clean, fully made and overall very satisfactory, not once did I have a problem falling asleep although after a long day of travelling and walking, sleep was probably unavoidable anyway. As mentioned, the other guests on all occasions were considerate and quiet, allowing plenty of relaxing time should a guest want it at any point in the day as well as the night. Overall, the beds were in good condition with no faults whatsoever.
For each bed, a bedside drawer is available, a useful and obvious feature which has a working lamp, whilst on the side of the far bed, a small table holds another easy to use lamp. A strong and good sized wardrobe is also available, along with a chest of draws, again roomy for the holiday luggage. On the far side of the room, the windows are large and therefore allow plenty of light in, with some fully effective curtains for the night. Certain parts of the windows open with ease should the guest want some air. This is also useful should the room seem too hot although on every stay, the room's temperature was perfect and never a problem - never once too hot, particularly during the night. Perhaps one slight issue is the sound of the traffic outside, mainly at night although the room is never over-heated anyway. In front of the window, a nice and fitting vanity desk is complete with a comfortable stool, with a wastebasket next to it.
All rooms come with colour TV, which has a Freeview box, with our particular TV attached to the wall, allowing both beds a good view. The TV has a remote and worked perfectly fine on all stays with no problems. All rooms also have a clock and the facility to make tea and coffee. This is located on the chest of drawers, with a good quality kettle, clean mugs as well as the obvious tea/coffee essentials, including milk and sugar. Two ordinary drinking glasses are also provided.
As previously mentioned, the owners were friendly, polite and pleasant on every visit, and as a couple run B&B, no extra staff is needed. This is certainly no issue though as the entire B&B is perfectly clean and run very well. On each stay we were given the options of having our rooms cleaned whilst we are out of the house, and although we personally tried to keep the room clean enough ourselves, our room received an excellent tidy up whilst we were out. Upon coming back, the room looked the same way it had done when we first arrived, extremely tidy and fresh.
The bathroom, although small, has all the essentials intact. The stay includes towels, a small but still fully useable shower, along with an obvious sink and mirror, as well as a perfectly clean toilet and another wastebasket. The bathroom, on all occasions, has been very clean and fully comfortable with a working lock, something that numerous hotels and B&Bs on previous family holidays didn't have. The essential soap and toilet paper was included, along with a toilet brush. Although indeed small, the bathroom is perfectly comfortable enough to use.
Guests are able to check in on their arrival after 2:00pm and should vacate their room by 10:30am on the day of departure. Should this prove a problem, alternate times may be possible by prior arrangement. In regards to smoking, the B&B is a non-smoking establishment at all times whilst in relation to pets, dogs are welcome with advance warning. Guests are given a key to access not just their room but the main door of the house, so that guests are able to enter and exit whenever they desire without the requirement of others.
For guests, additional essentials are available on request; hairdryers, iron and ironing boards, additional blankets and pillows, high chair for a young child and a child's travel cot. Another addition is internet access for those with laptops etc. The B&B is in a BT Wi-Fi Hotspot Area, where the guests can gain access to the internet by obtaining various passes directly from the BT site. Understandably, any internet problems are down to BT and not the B&B.
On all three of our stays, we didn't once have breakfast and therefore we were kindly given a small discount off on the second and final stay. Not being breakfast people, we had no need for any of it although from glimpses of the dining room, the room was clean and well presented, much like the rest of the B&B. I'm certainly positive that the breakfast service would be friendly and pleasant throughout. A choice of continental or a full English breakfast is available from 7:30am to 9:00am. Any allergies or special dietary requirements should be sorted in advance. Although Brackenbury House doesn't offer lunch or evening meals, there are plenty of excellent places to eat around the area, so this is no problem whatsoever.
As mentioned beforehand, booking the stay is very easy and convenient. For bookings made more than 2 weeks in advance, a deposit of £50 or 25% of the total cost of your holiday is required, whichever one is the greater. For bookings made less that 2 weeks in advance, full payment is due at time of reservation. Should the guest(s) decide to pay the deposit via cheque, a Bankers Guarantee card is needed. Otherwise payment can be made by cash, with the local co-op nearby having access to a free-of-charge ATM machine, as the B&B cannot accept debit or credit cards. In regards to cancellations, a 100% deposit refund can be given if the holiday is cancelled before 30 days, 50% deposit refund before 15 days and a 0% deposit refund if less than 7 days. A nice possibility is that a full refund will be given if the B&B manage to re-let the cancelled room for the same period as originally booked.
Prices for the rooms are at very good value for what they are as all rooms are £27 per person per night, where this includes the choice of continental or full English breakfast. Discounts are also available for bookings in excess of six consecutive nights subject to Time of Year & Volume Occupation.
Over our three stays, we were able to get the bus to Weymouth and walk around the area, the shops and the beach. There are plenty of activities available within Weymouth as well as plenty of pubs and restaurants located all around the area. There are numerous attractions such as the Nothe Fort, a historic fort built in 1872 by the water's edge, overlooking Portland. This fort is a museum with plenty of world war II memorabilia, a visit is very worthwhile, again with good views. Not forgetting the Sea Life Adventure Park too, an aquarium which from what I remember is certainly worthwhile although this was a very long time ago as a young child. Near to the Sea Life Park is The Lodmoor Country Park, a 350 acre site overlooking the Weymouth Bay, perfect for families. Condor Ferries are also available for day trips to the Channel Islands of Jersey or Guernsey, whilst other local boat trips are available, giving you some great views. For young children, Sharkey's is very recommended, a large indoor soft play park which in recent years has now got a Laser Zone. Sharkey's is not far from the beach which also has a good amusement arcade near to the Weymouth Pavilion venue. Relating to the amusement arcade, there are plenty of other arcades about as well as the Lakeside Superbowl for those who want a game of tenpin bowling.
Portland itself is easily explored from Brackenbury House, our visits allowed us to walk all across the island, being about four miles long and 1.5 miles wide. Aside from the wonderful views of the land and sea, as well as some very good pubs located around the island, there is plenty to do on the island, all in walking distance for those who are keen to go on foot. One recommended pub is The Cove House Inn, a nice pub that sits right next to Chesil Beach. With Portland being famous for it's stone, there are a few working quarries that can be seen from a distance, an interesting site. Tout Quarry is a non-operational quarry, where visitors can enjoy the walks around the area whilst viewing some nice sculptures. During the Christmas, Easter and Summer holidays, Portland Market is open on Tuesday in Easton, not far from Brackenbury House. Above the B&B is Verne Common which allows you to take in the glorious views from high up, overlooking Fortuneswell, Chesil Beach and towards the mainland.
Both Portland Castle and Portland Bill Lighthouse are two key attractions, with the castle being near the Sailing Academy which is also for the 2012 Sailing Olympics. The castle was built by Henry VIII to defend England and was also used in both world wars. The lighthouse is available to go inside during the peak season and very worthwhile for a good price. Although I haven't been to Portland Castle in years, it is an interesting visit whilst we went to the top of the lighthouse in April, and of course there are a lot of steps to climb but the view is excellent from the top. Other highlights are the coastal walks, Portland Museum, that we saw in September, a small but very nice museum that highlights a lot of Portland's history and Church Ope Cove, a small secluded beach right near the museum. Finally, Chesil Beach can be seen stretching from the island across a big part of the Dorset coast, a total of 18 miles. For those who have an interest in it, Portland Spa is a new addition, a premier luxury day spa & health club.
In recent times, Portland's first large supermarket was built, a Tesco, which is also in walking distance of Brackenbury House, located in Easton. On both 2011 visits, we would take an evening stroll to Tesco, although a Co-Op is down the road from the B&B. An Esso petrol station is located in Easton should the guest(s) have a car, with a Texaco also available in Wyke Regis, the nice village between Portland and Weymouth. Portland itself has all the essential shops so nobody would be forced to travel to Weymouth.
This site highlights the whole of Dorset and many great attractions which are outside of Weymouth and Portland: http://www.visit-dorset.com/
A great site here lists many attractions for visitors to the area as well as plenty of other information: http://www.visitweymouth.co.uk/
An excellent site about Portland's history, also covering each area of the island can be found online by Geoff Kirby. This site features many old photos, showing Portland's development through time as well as providing plenty of wonderful information: http://www.geoffkirby.co.uk/Portland/
For sure though, those looking for a very reasonably priced B&B on Portland, Brackenbury House is one of the best options. Compared to Weymouth, there are not that many B&Bs on Portland, and so being in the area that it is, Brackenbury House is perfect for those looking to explore Portland thoroughly. Another good point about the B&B is that the location is also perfect for those wishing to visit Weymouth, only five miles away and easily travelled to via car or bus. The B&B is not highly fancy, and it isn't meant to be, therefore perfect for those looking for a comfortable and simple place to stay with all essentials included. For those who wish to have more on-site facilities will of course benefit more from staying at a hotel, but as a B&B, everything that Brackenbury House offers is first rate. At the time of writing, one Google review from a previous guest gives the B&B a full 5/5 rating. For what Brackenbury House is meant to be, a simple and pleasant place to stay, the B&B does a wonderful job with no major issues whatsoever. With polite and friendly owners, a well decorated house, clean and spotless rooms and a nice atmosphere, Brackenbury House is thoroughly recommended.
On an additional note, a bit of research shows that the house is up for sale although the B&B is still running fully with the usual service. On our stays, there was no indication that the house was on offer. I do hope that any future owners will continue to keep this great house as a B&B.
A website for Brackenbury House can be found here: http://www.brackenburyhouse.co.uk/
Brackenbury House Address:
01305 826509 - Landline
0800 0836637 - Free Phone
07940 851568 / 07973 877172 - Mobile
Some small photos of the corridor, dining room etc can be found on the B&B's website and here: http://www.portlandholidaylet.co.uk/bed-and-breakfast/brackenbury-house.php
Review originally posted on Ciao
After Martika had huge success with her self-titled debut Martika from 1988. It was Martika's fun dance-pop sound that gained such a strong reaction worldwide when she first started her musical career. Her most popular single Toy Soldiers topped the American chart whilst her debut gave Martika another two hit singles. For her follow-up, Martika wanted to extend her sound by following a more mature sound. She began writing with American musician Prince whom she approached about a collaboration. She also began writing with several other songwriters such as musicians Les Pierce and Michael Cruz. Due to the various producers and songwriters, the album has plenty of variety to offer. As an attempt to target an adult audience, the album's material featured elements of pop, gospel, jazz, funk, R&B and traditional Cuban music. The lyrics on the album were also more adult-orientated - many tackling numerous social issues. In 1991, Martika released her second and last album Martika's Kitchen.
The album opens with the same-titled song Martika's Kitchen which was written solely by Prince. This song opens with a strong use of a simple percussion beat, followed by a fun, melodic synthesizer melody, backed by fun bass guitar and percussion. Martika performs some one-liners throughout the opening before the main verse begins. The song's verses feature some rather fun and adventurous vocals from Martika, backed by synthesizer, bass guitar and percussion. A strong chorus follows which features some strong backing vocal behind Martika in places, backed by the synthesizer, bass guitar and percussion. The song's main melody is instrumentally played before entering the next verse. This following verse is in the same format as the pervious verse but with a small use of backing vocals that work nicely alongside the lead vocal. Following the second chorus is a strong vocal section that starts with some casual lead vocal over synthesizer, bass guitar and percussion. Shortly following, Martika performs another strong vocal section that almost acts like a rap where she performs with plenty of lust. After, the final verse is performed whilst the next verse follows, backed this time by strong organ. The ending of the song features the final chorus whilst a strong organ solo is slowly fades the song out with the help of Martika's one-liners. Lyrically, the song refers to lust and desire with the lyrics being particularly suggestive. Overall, this is a great opener to the album, a memorable melody, strong vocals and a fun theme throughout. The entire song has a playful attitude, perfectly appealing to fans of Martika's debut album even though this song may be a more mature effort. "Come on get some in Martika's kitchen baby, you bring the noise and I'll bring the smile. It's been so long since you've been down in the kitchen baby, my desire's running longer than a country mile..."
Spirit follows and was written by Martika, Prince, Levi Seacer Jr. and Frankie Blue. The song opens with a fade in of shaking percussion before a more stronger percussion beat is present, followed by a simple synthesized piano melody which allows Martika to perform a small section of spoken vocal, whilst another synthesizer melody plays along. The main melody is then fully played instrumentally, highlighting the piano, rich percussion and synthesizer. For the verses, Martika performs some strong vocal, backed mainly by a dominant mix of bass guitar and percussion before the piano and synthesizer is added. A strong chorus follows with a great gospel feel where Martika performs one line and soulful backing vocals mainly sing the song's title after each line. This is backed by a strong mix of piano, synthesizer, bass guitar and percussion. The following verse is in the same format as the first verse but here a small amount of backing vocal is used. After the second chorus, a strong melody of synthesizer and piano is played whilst the backing vocals repeat the song's title. Shortly after, the melody is paused whilst Martika performs two lines with casual vocal, backed solely by strong percussion. The third verse begins with Martika's vocal over only synthesizer drones and percussion, the second half of the verse features the return of the piano melody. Following, Martika and backing vocals repeat the song's title once again before leading into the two final choruses. Cleverly, the first of two choruses features no synthesizer whilst the second chorus builds the sound back up with the usual mix of instruments. The song closes with backing vocals repeating the song's title. Lyrically, the song refers to world peace, love and never letting your spirit die despite the hard way of the world. Overall, this song isn't the most strongest track on the album and may take more than one listen to capture the listener but overall the song is a strong album track. "An angel came to greet me, it happened in a dream. He spoke of my reality, not being what it seems. Within us lives the new world and this world he calmly said, will only be when evil and all it's sorrows are truly dead..."
The next song is Love...Thy Will Be Done which was written by Martika and Prince. The song opens with a peaceful combination of synthesizer and percussion. The melody of the song isn't particularly dominant and instead allows Martika's vocal to be the song's highlight. For the song's main vocal section, Martika gives a truly fantastic vocal performance, both sensitive and beautiful. Halfway through this section, female backing vocals is added behind the lead which adds a nice effect of togetherness before lead vocals are solely performed again. A short solo section follows with synthesizer being the highlight. The next vocal section follows a similar format to the first section although it is slightly shorter. After, the same solo section is performed again with some background harmonic vocal from Martika. Following is the next vocal section, again followed by another strong section that features some more great vocal from Martika with plenty of backing vocals as well as small amount of male backing vocal. Next is the main vocal section once again which is then followed by a repeat of the same section, this time with a stronger percussion beat that almost symbolising handclaps as well as a strong amount of backing vocal. The song comes to a finish at this point whilst small synthesizer drones are continued, creating a strong atmosphere of peace. This synthesizer builds up to a more louder ending before nicely fading out. Lyrically, the song refers to spiritual and romantic feelings, perhaps an allegory between romantic love and the love for God. The song could even be interpreted as the point of view of a newborn Christian. Interestingly, Prince has performed this song on numerous occasions himself, particularly during his tours in the late 90s. Overall, this song throughout is very simple musically and yet very effective. Martika gives a fantastic vocal performance whilst the entire song is very atmospheric and relaxing. "Love, thy will be done. I can no longer hide, I can no longer run, no longer can I resist the guiding light. It gives me the power to keep up the fight. Love, thy will be done, since I have found you my life has just begun..."
A Magical Place is a duet between Martika and musician Christopher Max whom also solely wrote the song. The song opens with Martika singing the song's title before entering the song's melody. A small part of the melody features a quick use of keyboard that almost resembles an Indian/Hindi sound. Background synthesizer drones are present along with percussion, bass guitar and a hint of background guitar. The first verse opens with some strong vocals from Martika, backed by two layers of synthesizer, bass guitar and percussion. This section is followed by the next verse which features lead vocals from Max. Shortly following, a section that acts as the pre-chorus features some strong rings of synthesizer in the background with bass guitar and percussion before the song leads into the chorus. The chorus itself features vocals solely from Martika, backed by lead synthesizer, backing synthesizer drones, bass guitar, guitar and percussion. The next verse features lead vocals from Max whilst Martika performs the backing vocals. For the second chorus, the format is the same as the first chorus but with the Indian/Hindi keyboard melody making an appearance. Following the second chorus is a new vocal section which features casual vocal from both singers together, backed by percussion, bass guitar and a small amount of synthesizer. A solo section follows which features the Indian/Hindi keyboard melody before the song's ending is performed. The song's ending simply consists of the final choruses. Lyrically, the song seems to refer to love and how one person sees their lover as their saviour because they found a magical place in them. Overall, this song shows some strong vocals from Martika and some interesting instrumentation but it doesn't stand up to many other tracks on the album. One strong point is that the song has a whole array of musical influences but overall lacks in melody and direction. With the nature of the song, the listener is unable to sing-a-long whereas they could with most other tracks on the album. "You slay me, you bring me hope in a world full of fear. And you get me off to a start that never stops. Like wild horses on a windy day, I feel you now, and you're blowing through me like a melody..."
Following on is Coloured Kisses which was written by Martika, Les Pierce and Frankie Blue. This song is another grand moment of mature pop from this album. The song opens with a strong melody consisting of piano and synthesizer whilst the rhythm is created by bass guitar and solid percussion. During the song's opening, Martika performs some one-liners before going straight into the first verse. For the song's verses, Martika performs some truly amazing vocals which makes the lyrics stand out even more. The lead vocals are backed by strong piano, background synthesizer, bass guitar and percussion. A strong chorus follows which features more great vocal, added by some great female backing vocals whilst the synthesizer, piano, bass guitar and percussion hold the music together. Following the chorus is a short instrumental that highlights the song's main melody as well as some strong synthesizer. After the second chorus comes a new vocal section that features some dominant synthesizer, more fantastic lead vocal, bass guitar and percussion. A solo section follows which highlights the song's piano melody and synthesizer once again whilst Martika performs some one-liners over the top. The following chorus features vocals solely by Martika without the backing vocals whilst the ending of the song has the final chorus without piano. Lyrically, the song is very powerful with the verses allowing Martika to explain the meaning of each colour whilst the chorus directly gets to the song's message. The lyrics refer to the magic of her lover's kisses and the effect they have. Interestingly, the song was later covered by R&B singer Nina Girado. Overall, this is a great song with some excellent vocals, memorable melody and some great lyrics. "Red, the fire that burns my heart when you're near, it wraps me up, now I find the space to feel blue. Like the water, it fills me with peace, when you leave me again, I'll still breathe within..." and "Yellow is the sun that shines on me, like your smile it sets me free, seasons change to blacken my mood. When I falter my heart goes astray, I remember the nights when you'd take me away..." are two examples of the great lyrics.
Safe In The Arms of Love was written by Martika, Michael Jay and Michael Cruz. Jay was the producer of Martika's debut album and also wrote a fair amount of the debut album's material. The song opens with the sound of peaceful twinkling before a friendly guitar melody begins, followed by some emotive saxophone whilst atmospheric synthesizer, bass guitar and percussion play in the background. The song's verses feature some heartfelt vocals from Martika, backed by guitar, synthesizer, bass guitar and percussion. A strong pre-chorus follows which features some more emotive vocals, backed by synthesizer, bass guitar and percussion. For the song's great chorus, Martika gives both an emotional and memorable vocal performance over the song's main melody consisting of guitar, synthesizer, bass guitar and percussion. Following the chorus, the saxophone plays a short instrumental before the next verse. For the second chorus, the same format of the first chorus is followed but this time female backing vocals sing with the lead vocal. After this chorus, a new vocal section is performed with some strong synthesizer backing whilst Martika performs some dramatic vocal. Female vocals are also present in this section. A strong saxophone solo immediately follows which greatly adds to the song's memorability whilst Martika performs some harmonic vocal in the background. For the song's ending, the final chorus is performed whilst a strong mix of guitar, saxophone and percussion fades the song out, capturing the sensitivity of the song right till the end. Lyrically, the song refers to a love that has slowly fallen apart, allowing the two lovers to go their separate ways although they both know that one day they will return to each other once again. Overall, this is a great album track with plenty of emotion and atmosphere. As always, Martika's vocal is in top form which adds greatly to the song itself. "You said my heart's an open book, there are pages of my life you've never seen. You're always there between the lines, but there's so much more you just can't seem to read. Pieces of dreams pull us our separate ways, but we'll return someday..."
The next song that follows is Pride & Prejudice which was written by Martika and Michael Cruz. The song opens with a quick strum of synthesized guitar before the instrument plays the song's main melody. Percussion is slowly added whilst a small amount of sound effects are used. The song's verses feature some strong vocal from Martika, backed by the synthesized guitar and a small amount of bass guitar and percussion. A strong chorus follows which features some fantastic lead vocal, backed by female backing vocals, synthesized guitar, a strong drumbeat, bass guitar and blasts of saxophone. The second chorus follows the same format as the first chorus but features lead vocal by the female backing group whilst Martika performs some lines over the top instead. Following the song's second chorus, a new vocal section features a strong combination of great lead vocal, lively backing vocal, synthesized guitar, saxophone, bass guitar and percussion. Following the third chorus comes another vocal section where Martika performs a rap like verse. This section features some casual but solid vocal from Martika, backed by bass guitar and percussion with a small amount of guitar. Following this section, saxophone makes a strong return whilst Martika performs this rap again with more vocal power, backed by backing vocals, saxophone, bass guitar and percussion. The song's ending features one-liners from Martika, backing vocals, saxophone, lead electric guitar, bass guitar and percussion. Lyrically, the song is rather self-explanatory, focusing on how pride and prejudice stops the world from being one. The song also tackles racism and homophobia. Overall, this song is another fantastic album track with some strong vocals, memorable instrumentation and some good use of backing vocalists. "Pride and prejudice, keep us from being together. Lies and cowardice, the walls that keep us locked out. Sticks and stones may break us but the fire of hate will burn us down, now we're all alone with the war inside our souls..."
Take Me To Forever is another strong moment of mature pop on the album, this time with a strong lyrical message whilst the song echoes Martika's hit single Toy Soldiers, from her debut album. The song was written by Martika and Michael Jay who both wrote Toy Soldiers. The song opens with a strong synthesizer melody which immediately creates a feeling of sensitivity. For the song's verses, Martika gives a beautiful vocal performance, backed by two layers of synthesizer, synthesized piano, bass guitar and percussion. A great pre-chorus follows which features dominant lead vocal, backed by synthesizer, bass guitar and percussion. The song's chorus is nothing short of spectacular. Again, Martika gives a brilliant vocal performance, backed by emotive synthesizer, synthesized piano, bass guitar and percussion. The song's main melody is instrumentally played after the chorus, just before the next verse is performed. Following the second chorus, a new vocal section is played which features more breathtaking vocals from Martika, backed by the synthesizer, synthesized piano, bass guitar and percussion. The next chorus features female backing vocals performing the lead whilst Martika performs some vocal over the top whilst male vocal makes a small appearance in the background. This is repeated for the next chorus as well. The song's ending features the song's main melody with Martika performing some one-liners over backing vocals. This fades the song out perfectly. Lyrically, this song is perhaps by far the most emotive on the album. The lyrics are based on the point of view of someone who was considering suicide before turning to perhaps a lover for guidance. Overall, this song echoes many great features from the memorable melody, meaningful lyrics and most importantly, Martika's vocal which makes each line of the song important. "And sometimes I can't face it, no, no, when I take a look inside. Oh, and I just don't like what I see, is there nowhere left to hide?" and "Cause when I look into the mirror, I see what I've become, and I've lost my own direction. Only you, only you can lead me home..." are two examples of the meaningful lyrics.
Following on is Temptation which was written by Martika, Les Pierce and Frankie Blue. This song certainly resembles a funk-influenced sound and opens with a large whirl of two wild synthesizers that quickly fade into the song's main melody, backed by funky bass guitar and strong percussion. Martika performs a couple of one-liners over the melody before the song enters the first verse. The song's verses feature some fun and strong vocal from Martika, backed by bass guitar, percussion, guitar licks and a hint of synthesizer. A strong pre-chorus follows and features some more strong lead vocal, backed by female harmonic vocals, bass guitar, piano and percussion. The song's chorus presents itself as a highly infectious moment where Martika performs some fantastic vocal, backed by lively female backing vocal, synthesizer, guitar, bass guitar and percussion. For the second verse, the same format as the first verse is used but with backing vocals present. Following the second chorus is a new vocal section which features more strong lead vocal and backing vocal, with synthesizer, guitar, bass guitar and percussion keeping the melody and rhythm intact. This section closes with a wonderful use of harmonic vocals and strong percussion before entering the next pre-chorus. Following the next chorus is a new vocal section where Martika performs a rap-like verse. The lead vocals here a strong and work perfectly over synthesizer drones, bass guitar and percussion. For the ending, the song fades out with both Martika and backing vocals performing one-liners. Lyrically, the song refers to an affair and the temptation of two lovers who both know what they are doing is wrong but cannot force themselves to stop. Overall, this song has a great funk-influence throughout which Martika proves herself more than capable of adapting to different musical styles. A strong song throughout with plenty of memorability and fantastic instrumentation/vocals. "Did you ever want something so bad, you'd risk it all? No matter what the consequences are? You've lost control of something deep inside your soul, and now it's gone a little bit too far..."
Don't Say U Love Me follows and again features a funk-influenced sound, written by Martika and Prince. The song opens with blasts of heavy synthesizers and percussion which lead into the main funky melody, backed by bass guitar and Martika who whispers the song's title a few times. The song's verses feature some strong vocal, backed by synthesized bass, synthesizer and percussion. A strong pre-chorus follows which features some solid vocals, a new synthesizer layer, synthesized bass and percussion. The chorus features some more strong lead vocal, background female backing vocal, brass instruments, synthesizer, synthesized bass and a steady drumbeat. Following, a strong but short synthesizer solo is played whilst Martika performs a quick harmonic vocal before entering the second verse. This verse is in the same format as the first verse but with some strong backing vocal added. Following the second chorus is a strong section that highlights the song's melody whilst harmonic vocals are performed by both Martika and the backing vocalists. Following this section, Martika whispers some strong lines that almost act like a rap, shortly joined by backing vocalists who sing their own line before Martika performs the final line of the section. Afterwards, a strong synthesizer solo is added to the song which is carried along by the synthesized bass, percussion and a hint of background vocal. Following the final chorus, Martika performs some one-liners before another short but strong synthesizer solo is performed with background vocals. This solo extends into the final pre-chorus which follows immediately after. The ending of the song features backing vocalists who repeat the song's title over some fun synthesizer, synthesized bass and percussion which nicely fades the song out. Lyrically, the song's lyrics are from the point of view of a lover who wishes to be set free and no longer wants to hear her lover's empty promises. Overall, this track may not be the strongest on the album but it does stand up as a great album track with a fun feel and some strong vocal. "Don't say that you love me baby, cause I don't wanna know. Our love is like a roller coaster, up and down we go..."
The next track is Broken Heart which was written by Martika, Les Pierce and Frankie Blue. The song opens with an interesting male vocal effect that acts as the bass guitar. Martika performs a small little chant over the top whilst a steady use of percussion joins the song. The song's verses feature some strong lead vocal, backed by the vocal effect, occasional background chant heard in the introduction and a small use of female backing vocal. For the pre-chorus, Martika gives a strong vocal performance, backed by synthesized piano, bass guitar and percussion. A strong chorus follows which features some pleasant lead vocal, backed by guitar, synthesized piano, bass guitar and percussion. The second verse follows the format of the first verse but with the use of the occasional backing vocal. Following third chorus, a new vocal section that acts as a third verse is performed. This section features some fantastic lead vocal, backed by synthesizer, guitar, bass guitar, percussion and a small use of backing vocal. Following this section is a strong brass instrument solo which adds a nice layer over the synthesizers and percussion. The ending of the song features the final two choruses before fading out. Lyrically, the song refers to crack babies and the song cleverly addresses this issue by starting with the point of view of the mother before the listener is given the point of view of the child. Overall, this is a strong album track with some interesting instrumentation and some great lyrics. Martika gives a strong vocal performance throughout which makes the lyrics even more meaningful. "I said, hey, can't you see what you're doing to me? I gave you my heart, but you can set me free. Because I'm not in the mood to be apologized to, there's more to this life than your drugs and your booze..." and "For the past nine months or so, I ain't feeling so sweet. They told me I had to behave myself so I'd be healthy. I thought I did everything right, now everything's gone wrong, our baby's got a broken heart, he ain't feeling so strong..." are two examples of the lyrical message.
The album's closer is a Spanglish track titled Mi Tierra which was written by Martika, Les Pierce and Frankie Blue. This song features the special guest Celia Cruz who was one of the most successful Salsa performers of the 20th century. The song opens with a Cuban-flavoured brass section, piano, and a rich amount of percussion. The first and second verse features some solid vocal from Martika, carried by piano and percussion. For the chorus, male backing vocals are present that repeat the song's title whilst Martika performs a line after the backing vocalists. After the chorus, a short brass section instrumentally plays before entering the next verse. This verse is performed by Cruz and is sung in Spanish, backed by brass instruments, piano and percussion. The next verse is performed by some strong vocal from Martika, backed by piano and percussion. For the second chorus, a strong use of brass instruments run behind the vocals throughout. Following the third chorus, a new section is present, featuring backing vocals over piano, brass instruments and percussion whilst the lyrics remain in Spanish. The next verse features Martika performing some Spanish lyrics, followed by Cruz taking over on lead vocal whilst Martika performs backing vocal. Afterwards, a strong brass instrumental is performed, backed by piano and percussion. For the final minute of the song, the final chorus is performed, followed by a final vocal section performed by Cruz and backing vocalists. This nicely fades out the song out. Lyrically, the song refers to any Cuban-American's inability to visit their homeland as both Martika and Cruz fit into this category. Overall, this song makes a fair album closer and acts nicely as a bonus track but unless the listener is particularly interested in Cuban-influenced music or Spanglish lyrics then this song holds limited appeal. The song's message is certainly strong thought where Martika in particular performs a strong vocal that shows a clear longing for her to be connected to her homeland. The song's title in English means My Land. "A paradise I've never seen with my own eyes but through stories I'm told. Some had to flee, their children are free but living without you, I'll never be whole..."
Upon release, Martika's Kitchen sadly failed to keep Martika's commercial success in America alive despite the critical praise of the album. The album was a huge hit internationally though and the singles saw their own strong amount of success. The album peaked at #9 in Australia, #15 in the UK and #111 in America whilst charting in various other countries. The lead single was Love...Thy Will Be Done which was a big hit worldwide, peaking at #1 in Australia, #9 in the UK, #10 in America as well as becoming a hit in other European countries. The next single was Martika's Kitchen which was a fair worldwide hit, peaking at #17 in the UK, #21 in Sweden, #29 in Australia, #34 in Canada but flopping in America, only peaking at #93. The final single was Coloured Kisses which failed to chart in America but peaked at #39 in Australia, #41 in the UK and #83 in Germany. Safe In The Arms of Love, Spirit and Mi Tierra were all released as promotional singles somewhere in the world.
After the album's release, Martika decided to move away from music and began working as an actress in the early 1990s cop show Wiseguy, with Steven Bauer, but she soon faded from the public eye around 1993. In 2001, Martika began to re-emerge by stating that a new album was to be released however this never actually happened. In 2003, she joined her husband, musician Michael Mozart, to form the band Oppera which adopted a latin pop sound. Oppera have released two albums although only little success has been achieved. In 2004, rapper Eminem sampled Toy Soldiers in his song Like Toy Soldiers which achieved big worldwide success. In 2009, Martika changed her name to Vida Edit and confirmed that she was appearing with her husband in a new web-based television program titled J8ded.
Overall, I highly recommend this album for any fan of 80s/early 90s pop. A strong album overall with excellent production throughout. Martika proved herself capable of working with numerous musicians as well as being able to adapt to any musical style she wished. This was Martika's attempt at creating a mature sound. Whilst America didn't quite take to the album as hoped, Martika's Kitchen still proved to be an artistic triumph.
I have made a preview of each track available via Youtube which gives a good feel for each song on the album: www.youtube.com/watch?v=INJT0IOzn​sk
Review originally posted on Ciao