Friday, 26 June 2015


once again, i'm sorry to say we're dedicating this post to another screen legend - Sir Godfrey Tibbett and of course John Steed - Patrick Macnee


Casino Royale by George Hall

Like most kids my age, I grew up on James Bond movies.  Between the impossibly cool title character, giant technicolor explosions, absurdly ingenious devices and beautiful cars (I still have my toy Aston-Martin), I - a nerdy little kid parked at his parent's TV - was immediately hooked.

And then there's the music, with its dark minor keys and fiendish deployment of the augmented fourth (aka the "Devil's Interval") coupled with sweeping, ominous strings and twangy rock 'n' roll guitar.  Composer / arranger John Barry became an early musical hero, though I didn't know his name until years later (or his guitarist, the perfectly named Vic Flick).

In a world without TiVo, video rental or on-line streaming, the only way to see the earlier Bond movies was to scan the TV Guide pocket magazine for listings.  At a certain point, I was sure I'd seen all of them, but it turns out I missed one: "Casino Royale."

It turns out that long before Sean Connery's Bond debut in 1962's "Dr. No," James Bond had appeared as (of all things) an American in a 1954 episode of a US TV show.  The episode, titled "Casino Royale," took it's name from Ian Fleming's first Bond book. The film rights were later re-sold, then re-re-sold to a certain Charles K. Feldman who, after failing to put together a deal with "proper" Bond film series producer Albert Broccoli, decided to try another tack.

Having seen "Dr No," Feldman knew he couldn't possibly compete - but it being the 60's, with Batman, Susan Sontag and general post-modernism bringing camp into the mainstream, Feldman thought "why not a camp James Bond?" A team was assembled, which included such bona fide legends as Orson Welles, John Huston and Charles Boyer along with contemporary stars David Niven, Woody Allen, Peter Sellers and even onetime "Bond girl" Ursula Andress. Hi-jinks necessarily ensued, budgets were broken repeatedly, coherence was out the window, and (spoiler alert!) everything blows up at the end.

Make no mistake, the movie is a mess best enjoyed in snippets by fans of 60's kitsch (you know who you are), but the music was another thing entirely.  Assigned to hit songwriter Burt Bacharach, who'd worked on Allen's "What's New Pussycat" and "After the Fox," the result was nothing like John Barry, but quite wonderful its own right and even included a couple of hits in Dusty Springfield's timeless smooch-inducer "The Look of Love" and the title track, a #1 Easy Listening hit for Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass.

The latter is covered here by Seks Bomba - a mostly instrumental band from Boston, MA who absolutely revelled in this sort of thing - in a version which originally appeared on their intermittently obscure 2nd release, 2001's "Somewhere in this Town."

Lori Perkins - Hammond organ
George Hall - guitars, ebow
Chris Cote - guitar
Matt Silbert - bass guitar
Brett Campbell - drums

Recorded & mixed by Pete Weiss

Thursday, 18 June 2015


we're a day early again, but this time for happier reasons


Live and let Die by George Hall


Live & Let Die was the first Bond movie I saw in a theater, and I loved it. In fact, I still love it, despite (or perhaps because of) not having seen it since – I mean, why subject a perfectly good, happy childhood memory to the inevitable trauma of informed, adult scrutiny?

I remember the giant, colorful explosions - our TV at home was still black & white - making up for the disappointing lack of a singular, iconic Bond mobile (not an Aston Martin to be seen!), along with the creepy exotica of New Orleans which, come to think of it, made it my first "blaxploitation" film as well. The switch from erstwhile Bond Sean Connery's vaguely and/or not-vaguely menacing drollery to Roger Moore's blithe (and veddy English) dispenser of one-liners was apparently reviled by "serious" Bondophiles, though I don't recall this being a problem. at least as long as stuff kept blowing up. There was also a boat chase,possibly the greatest in the history of cinema, by my entirely unscientific reckoning.

But above all, there was that Paul McCartney theme song.


As a Beatle freak from the moment I caught a TV re-run of their movie "Help!," I was prepared to love it no matter how terrible it was, but - luckily for me - its combination of high kitsch, pop smarts and absurd-yet-flawlessly-musical lyrics made it an instant classic. I must've been 10 or so when I first heard it, and I'm still 10 whenever I hear it, even today!


The Elderly are a widely unknown supergroup from Boston, Massachusetts, comprising members of such regionally popular performing units as the I Want You, the Weisstronauts, Kingsley Flood, Eddie Japan, New Million Box, Seks Bomba and others. They are responsible for 2 releases, one of which is better than the other.

Jim Gerdeman - vocals, guitar, tin whistle
Kevin Quinn - vocals, bass guitar, patois
Joe Kowalski - misc keys, riddim assemblage, samples, tympani
Michael Spaly - violin, zipper, misc strings, bg vocals
George Hall - guitar, bg vocal
Rafi Sofer - guitar, technical jibber-jabber
Will Davies - drums, bg vocals
Chris Barrett - trumpet, euphonium
Recorded & mixed by Rafi Sofer at Q Division Studios, Somerville, MA

Thursday, 11 June 2015


we're a little early because of today's sad news: this week's blog, track and video are dedicated to The Man With The Golden Gun, Christopher Lee 1922-2015

Corgi 261 – The James Bond Aston Martin DB5

One of my earliest memories of growing up in 60’s suburbia was a fascination with cars – I remember giving my own names to them before I knew what the makes and models really were. A Ford Anglia was a ‘Smiling-Back-To-Front-Car’ according to my toddler logic (which seems no less convincing to me now actually) and a Morris Minor was a ‘Brenda Car’. Not that we knew anyone called Brenda - the car just seemed to be ‘saying’ it.

I had a collection of Corgi and Matchbox toys, many of which I seem to remember inheriting from our next door neighbour Ken Perry who was a few years older and had grown out of his. Sometime about 1966 or 67 I got the James Bond Aston Martin – Corgi 261: for many the crème de la crème of toy cars – although I can’t remember if I had mine from new or if it was one of Ken’s. It definitely had the baddie in the ejector seat included, so if it was his, Ken had been very careful not to lose him in one of his earlier carpet- or table-top- based missions.

Now….we are at the risk of edging dangerously towards Top Gear territory here I know – the model is such an icon that it’s inevitably been written about before – and not surprisingly James May has covered it in a piece here where he goes through lots of the nerd-magnet info you’d expect: that the car isn’t gold in the movie, the rear lights are not the correct shape etc.

For me at the time, of course, it was one of my favourite toys along with other gadget based, weapon-firing TV or film spin off merch like the Batmobile, the lesser known Green Hornet Limousine (I didn’t know the character but his car was excellent with a missile and a nifty spinning radar disc that flew out of the boot), and the brilliant Captain Scarlet vehicles. Two that I coveted and never got were the Monkeemobile the incredible Chitty Chitty Bang Bang model.

Bond, as a concept, wasn’t really any more significant to me that any of those others. I was aware of the movies, perhaps the music more so. I knew the films were sort of ‘sexy’, like the Carry On movies only more glamorous/serious. But of course in the wonderful synaesthesia of childhood the toys, movies, TV, sweets, music, school etc. all merge together somehow…... I could be casually zooming the golden DB5 across the carpet towards an absurdly small Stuka, pondering my deep love for Mrs Peel in the Avengers, and at the same time imagining the dark wardrobe world that Pink Floyd were spinning in my head as I listened to See Emily Play - which is one of the earliest records that really captured my imagination.

I didn’t want any of that to go away – the slightly surreal connections between all the things I loved - it did for a bit I suppose, as I got older, but in later years I’ve managed to get at least some of it back. I got seriously into model aircraft as an older kid, and later in my 20s and 30s rediscovered and honed that hobby into an all consuming obsession to fill the free time alongside my jobs playing in bands back then. I became fanatical about detail, colours, scale and accuracy (that bullet proof shield on the Bond DB5 would be totally impractical if it was full size you know. It would be about 4 inches thick and the tyres could never take the weight!). The smell of enamel paint or cranked-up Scalextric motors will always be linked to some of my favourite records and TV. The glint of a tiny jewelled headlamp can conjure up much more than just the movie the car was in.

I didn’t stick with Bond movies beyond the 70’s I must confess. But my love of cars never went away, and even the most mundane gadgetry in a real motor can give me almost as much of a thrill as those tyre slashers on the Bond DB5. As I hit mid-life I went through a few classics – I wasn’t quite as bad as Jamiroquai, and a real Aston Martin was never going to happen obviously – but after a series of questionable (blind) eBay purchases that I didn’t keep for very long, I’ve settled on something suited to my age, psyche and need for comfort. It’s not a Bond car. But it’s the exact car that Roger Moore drives in the movie he made three years before he first played 007 - The Man Who Haunted Himself……..

The Song:
I chose The Man With The Golden Gun because it’s definitely one of the underdog ones (although this is now its second appearance in this project!!). As a song, people seem not to rate it much in the Bond canon, but it’s actually brilliant - that arrangement is really…..naughty sounding. And Lulu is cool. She was pretty great early on - I loved her version of The Boat That I Row as a kid - and at the time of this theme she was going through her Bowie collaboration too, so became even cooler to the likes of me at the time. If you think about it this tune does have a little Diamond Dogs-era Bowie drama about it, though I doubt John Barry and Don Black were thinking about that when they wrote it.

The Video:
When I asked fellow Papernut alumni if they wanted to contribute anything to the track, I wasn’t quite expecting what Ralegh Long came up with – namely no music, but the offer to use some video footage from a spoof Bond movie called Blackeye that he and some friends had made when they were schoolboys. It’s the perfect thing, looks loads of fun, and it’s quite sobering now to realize that when they made this I was already the wrong side of 30 playing and touring with Death In Vegas, and probably not being any more grown up than they were!

Here’s a few words from Tom Kingsley, Blackeye’s director:

“This video is an extremely condensed version of an hour long James Bond film that some friends and I made in 1998, when we were twelve.  It has about five minutes that are actually good, and fifty-five that are almost unbearable to watch. This edit makes it look a lot better than it really was. Blackeye was shot on the school camcorder, with the assistance of most of our year group, who enthusiastically died many times on camera. When an athletic French exchange student called Alexis came along in the summer term, we roped him in to doing a lot of extra stunts in the final showdown sequence. We shot the film in chronological order with a story that we made up as we went along, and so the film gets better and better towards the end, when *SPOILER* James Bond fails to stop Blofeld blowing up the entire planet.”

Friday, 5 June 2015


Mark is also a part of Saturday's School of Noise at the Union Chapel

The Man with the Golden Gun by Crock Oss

It’s all my wife’s fault. Since we met ten years ago she had been telling me how we must go to Thailand, about what an amazing place it was. Whilst I had little doubt this was true I was put off by the thought of spending a day or so travelling to get to a place where it would often be too hot to do anything except sit around on a beach. Well last year I finally broke. I agreed we would spend the Easter holidays in Thailand, provided Becca did all the organising.

I worried about flying via Moscow with Aeroflot. I worried about bags going missing in transit. I worried I wouldn’t be able to find any food that I liked. I worried that I was going to be bored.

I had a vague recollection that there was a James Bond film that had been shot on location in Thailand somewhere. When we arrived it became apparent that we weren’t too far from the location, which seemed to be universally referred to as ‘James Bond Island’. All the local tour companies advertised day trips which included the island, usually in combination with seemingly unlikely companions such as canoeing, ‘floating Muslim village’ and ‘Buddha cave temple’.

A little research revealed that the island location had been used for the hideout of the villain Scaramanga, played by Christopher Lee, in the 1974 Roger Moore Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun. Many of the reviews of the film were less that favourable and I tried to recall if it was one I had seen.

I grew up in the 1980s, when Roger Moore’s Bond was a staple of Bank Holiday Sunday afternoons. As a child I don’t think I saw beyond the car chases and pretty girls but with the benefit of hindsight some of Moore’s films are, well, not very good. The Man with the Golden Gun, is a case in point. A reclusive assassin decides, for some reason, that taking out contracts for ‘a million a shot’ isn’t good enough and he decides to corner the World’s market in renewable energy. By stealing and murdering. This won’t do of course, so Bond is dispatched to sort it out. His stunt man does some kung fu. A naked girl called ‘Chu Me’ (really) swims for no reason. Some school girls do kung fu. He has a chase accompanied by a really annoying ‘comedy’ American sheriff. The best stunt in movie history is ruined by a swanee whistle. He is supposed to be helped by Britt Eckland, but she’s useless. Bond kills the baddies and then makes a ‘coming’ joke. MI6 have Scaramanga’s had phone number all along. The End.

I remembered seeing on Twitter than wiaiwya were doing this blog/album so, half joking, I sent a tweet offering to ‘sing into my phone’ on the beach. The reply told me to go for it. The Man with the Golden Gun is John Barry’s least favourite Bond soundtrack (he had two weeks to write the complete score) and the theme song, sung by Lulu, is great big messy single entendre. But that was what it had to be.

We booked a trip to James Bond Island and, after an hour and half in a beautifully air conditioned mini bus and twenty minutes on a long tail boat we arrived at the island. Khao Phing Kan and Ko Tapu, known collectively to tourists and locals alike as James Bond Island, are instantly recognisable. The 20 metre tall islet of Ko Tapu is ingrained in the subconscious of anyone who’s seen even bits of The Man with the Golden Gun. The islands look the same, the beaches look the same. However, where once were the funky seventies entrances to Scaramanga’s lair are now a collection of gift shops selling tat. And of course the island is no longer the home to just a triple-nippled assassin, his midget butler and beefy mute technician. It is now crawling with tourists recreating Bond and Scaramanga’s dual, videoing the ‘turn to the camera’ gun aiming move (we did both) and trying to spot which parts of the island doubled for which part of the lair.

You only get half an hour so on the island so I quickly set up the iPad, recorded the sound of the sea and the tourists and whispered the vocal into my phone (unused it the end, although a similar vocal recorded in Bangkok survives, almost imperceptivity). Photos taken, we re-boarded our boat and at this point it became apparent what an impact the film has had on the area. Prior to 1974 the islands were little visited, now thousands a day disembark to explore. Not only that, the majority are then taken to one of a number of river cruisers, moored permanently in a channel off the main bay. Here they are loaded onto canoes and paddled around the sea caves by a local oarsman. Next the boats set off for the village of Koh Panyee. When the village’s original Muslim inhabitants arrived from Indonesia, it was prohibited for non-Thai nationals to own land. Thus the fishing village was built on stilts. Much of the income of the village still comes from fishing, but in the dry season a series of huge waterfront restaurants serve a simple lunch to the James Bond Island tourists and a market behind sells souvenirs and local produce.

I found it remarkable that a few short scenes in a, pretty bad, 1974 film have led to the creation of an entire regional tourist industry. Hundreds of people’s livelihoods depend, if not fully, then partially on the existence of two tiny islands where Roger Moore and Christopher Lee once stood back to back against the stunning tower karst seascape.

Returning to the song, having programmed a basic version of music for the Island recordings, I worked on them further at out hotels in Railay and Bangkok. As we were flying home via Moscow it seemed that I must record something there, so I dictaphoned an announcement on the aircraft and did some more work on the track in an airport coffee shop. When we finally got home I added a few more bits, mixed it all together and then, finally, took a drive to Pinewood Studios. If this was to have proper James Bond location credits then those credits had to end with ‘and at Pinewood Studios, London, England’.

Mark Williamson records iPhone pop as Crock Oss and works with field recordings and found sounds as Spaceship.