CULTURE: DARRYL W BULLOCK
Our regular cultural fix this month includes the cinema release of a cult horror movie classic, an essential style bible for men everywhere, sumptuous music from a handsome model turned troubadour, and some on-stage male nudity to feast your eyes on.
We’re heading into that time of year when the outdoorsy, horsey set get all excited about the Gold Cup (which, despite the combined efforts of Brexit and the Beast From the East still saw record-breaking crowds invade Cheltenham earlier this month), and the Grand National and the Badminton Horse Trials (coming at the beginning of May).
But as someone whose four-legged friend is a little more used to tickles on the sofa than galloping around a paddock I have spent most of the last couple of weeks hunkered down indoors (apart from taking the dog out twice daily of course), listening to music, watching movies or curled up with a good book. And what an embarrassment of riches to choose from!
Out now, Mr. Dynamite by Creep Show brings together John Grant, former Cabaret Voltaire frontman Stephen Mallinder, plus Phil Winter and John Foxx/Blancmange collaborator Benge who have created a debut album packed with experimental pop and surreal funk.
Recorded in Benge’s Cornwall studio (where both Grant and Blancmange have recently recorded), there’s a real sense of freedom in the interplay between vocalists Grant and Mallinder, which switches between oblique wordplay and sinister humour. ‘I do like theatre of the absurd and some of it is that,’ explains Grant. ‘But most of it is just having fun. We did a lot of laughing and just had a blast doing it.’
The foursome have worked together before, beginning with their remix of Grant’s ‘Voodoo Doll’ in 2015, but Mr. Dynamite is much more than the sum of its parts. It won’t be to everyone’s taste, and the title track is a rather self-indulgent, but bear with because for every weird mood and texture explored there are enough nods to the quartet’s influences – touches of Kraftwerk on penultimate track ‘Fall’ for example, or Giorgio Moroder-esque disco in other places to intrigue and delight. The album, which follows the release of the digital single ‘Modern Parenting’ ends with ‘Safe And Sound’, a brilliant climax to the album with Grant’s vocals at their most opulent and moving. Well worth checking out.
If you find the electronica of Creep Show a little too full on, and fancy something a little more laid back, then I can highly recommend the luscious new single from model turned singer-songwriter Sam Way, who hails from the historic market town of Crediton in Devon.
The fragile and delicate You And All Your Things follows the success of Sam’s debut album, Archetype, issued last September. The up and coming singer grew up in a musical family and was discovered by the legendary Eric Hall, the former EMI plugger who helped launch the careers of Queen and the Sex Pistols. Archetype climbed to number 8 on the UK singer-songwriter charts, and Sam is already attracting a sizable following.
With vocals that are powerful and yet intimate, strong and yet extremely sensitive, Sam Way is one to watch out for. http://www.samwaymusic.com/
Kim Wilde is back! The nation’s favourite celebrity gardener has a new album and single, and is out on tour from the end of this month, visiting 20 towns and cities including Bath, Salisbury, Yeovil and Bournemouth as well as the more obvious London, Birmingham and Glasgow. New single ‘Kandy Krush’, which is taken from Kim’s most recent album Here Come The Aliens, sees her on poptastic form and vocally she has never sounded better. The UK’s most successful female pop star of the 80s looks set to win over a whole new generation of fans.
Something that I’m sure will appeal to a number of Queen and Country readers is the fabulous new coffee table book The Parisian Field Guide to Men’s Style by legendary French model and designer Ines de la Fressange and fashion journalist Sophie Gachet. The former face and muse of Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld, when asked to define the secrets of stylish men for her new book, the first complete and practical sartorial guide for all men, Ines turned to Parisian friends including designers, directors, actors, artists, musicians, DJs and businessmen. Men of all ages are photographed in their own clothes for a style ‘look-book’ that shows off the best Parisian styles – casually French, classic vintage, chilled-out dandy, seventies chic – and share style dilemmas, mantras and must-haves.
With her signature wry tone, Ines gives advice on colour, cut and fabrics and selecting accessories like watches, belts, bags, hats and shoes. She demystifies the basics of looking good from fashion and grooming tips to the perfect wardrobe and the fashion faux pas to avoid. And, should you happen to be visiting the City of Light, she also shares the most stylish Parisian addresses for great menswear and the best barbershops, spas, salons, bars, restaurants and hotels.
The Parisian Field Guide to Men’s Style, by Ines de la Fressange and Sophie Gachet is published by Flammarion on 27 April.
While we’re on the subject, on the same day Flammarion is issuing Obsession: Marlene Dietrich, another gorgeous coffee table book featuring rare photographs of Marlene Dietrich by Irving Penn, Cecil Beaton, Milton Greene, Edward Steichen and George Hurrell. An active participant in her photo sessions, Dietrich constructed her own unique image: her allure, style and elegance made her the archetypal siren, but it was Dietrich’s unwavering confidence, gender fluidity and firm stand against Nazism that made her a revolutionary and an icon. Did you know she was also Edith Piaf’s bridesmaid?
Coming back to cinemas around the country at the end of April, and with DVD and Blu-Ray releases to follow in May, The Old Dark House is an atmospheric and entertaining horror from cult gay film director James Whale. Starring Boris Karloff and Melvyn Douglas, The Old Dark House is one of the most entertaining horror films of the 1930’s.
Caught in a storm whilst journeying through a remote region of Wales, a group of travellers take refuge in a sinister mansion inhabited by the bizarre Femm family and their mute butler, Morgan (Boris Karloff, Frankenstein, The Mummy). Trying to make the best of a bad situation, the group settles in for the night, but the Femms have a few skeletons in their closet, and one of them is on the loose. Director Whale’s (Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man) cast also includes Gloria Stuart and Charles Laughton (The Hunchback of Notre Dame). Dripping with atmosphere and dark humour, The Old Dark House was considered lost for many years, but is now being presented from a stunning new 4K restoration.
Finally, a bit of a heads-up. Award-winning play The Full Monty is making what the producers are calling its final tour this autumn. I’ll bring you more details nearer the time, but if you want to book tickets you might want to do so sooner rather than later.
The touring cast will be led by Gary Lucy (Hollyoaks, EastEnders, Dancing on Ice), with Dinnerladies' Andrew Dunn, Louis Emerick (Brookside, Benidorm, Last of the Summer Wine) and faces you will recognise from Emmerdale, Torchwood and Casualty. The tour kicks off at the Everyman in Cheltenham on September 6 and visits 14 town and cities around the UK and Ireland, including Cambridge, Chester, Dublin, Swindon and York.