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Celebrity Corner

PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2009 5:35 pm
by Gordon Neill
Michael Winner reviews The Sound Of The World 2007

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This got off to a bad start. The young courier was pleasant enough but, dear oh dear, who was this ‘Mr Winter’? That wasn’t the name on the envelope. And I was not entirely convinced that the young man was fully aware of all my achievements. Even after I went through them in chronological order. Not that I blame Charlie Gillett. But she really needs to ensure that her support staff are of the highest calibre.

I’ve not come across Charlie before. Nor has Geraldine, my 27-year old fiancée, who takes some pride in keeping up with the pop charts. And no photo on the sleeve either. Always a bad sign, I feel.

But, my word, the girl does try hard to compensate. She may not have the looks, but she certainly has an astonishing range. We have it all here. Pop, rhumba, rock and roll, foxtrot, tango and goodness knows what else! And the range of instruments! Trombones, tympani, xylophones, you name it! But it’s Charlie’s voice that’s the most extraordinary thing of all! Sometimes she’s sweet and sultry; sometimes deep and masculine! Is the dear thing still going through some awkward teenager phase? It’s hard to know because, as I say, there’s no photo. But this all goes well beyond the breaking voice of an adolescent. Perhaps she has some kind of personality disorder.

And it’s this astonishing range which is Charlie’s undoing. It’s all too much, my dears. Much too much. Each piece is, in its own way, quite palatable, but taken together it is all rather confusing. Frankly, it’s rather like dining in a Tapas bar run by the UN, where none of the waitresses understand a blessed word that’s said to them! No, Charlie needs to make her mind up about what she’s best at. ‘Calm down, dear, calm down!’, one wants to gently whisper to her. Perhaps a firm hand from an older man would help. But, again, it’s difficult to know as there’s no photo.

And, frankly, this CD does not make for an easy night’s entertainment. Geraldine and I settled down with this for a cosy time together. I wore my favourite posing pouch, and Geraldine impulsively donned her coat and hat. We found the album’s starter to be pleasant enough. It seems to be about, of all things, democracy (diction is not one of Charlie’s strengths, her English is badly mangled on every song). A silly subject for a song, but Geraldine and I found it quite suitable accompaniment for a little dance. Quite enjoyable, I felt.

But then the rot set in. The fourth track is odd. And the first of many. It’s misprinted as Immamachin in the sleeve notes – one can only assume that it’s meant to be I’m A Munching. It’s jolly enough, in a sad way, but poor Charlie sounds quite asthmatic near the start. I really felt for her. Touchingly, Geraldine said it made her think of me, which was nice. But, no sooner was I warming to the matters in hand and starting to explore her possibilities, when a fast tango came on! Poor old Geraldine was obliged to leap up and race about the room. And this was repeated throughout the evening! Up and down, up and down. Dear oh dear! If only young Charlie could stick to what she’s good at and bring matters to a head. Frankly, by the end of the performance, I wasn’t sure if Geraldine was coming or going!

[First published in fRoots297]

Victoria Beckham reviews Keep Your Silver Shined

PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2009 5:41 pm
by Gordon Neill
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There’s a lot of these fresh-faced youngsters like Devon Sproule, dreaming of becoming a Spice Girl. And it looks like they could get their chance. I’m getting a reputation as a model and a fashion designer, and I’ve outgrown the band. As Geri said, hopefully there’ll be no need for me to sing ever again.

Of course, I will miss the girls. I’ve enjoyed spending some time with them and helping to salvage their careers. I know they must be jealous, but they’ve put a brave face on things and been really supportive. Only yesterday, Geri said that me not singing was definitely the highlight of our tour. And that one called Sporty assured me that I’m still every bit as talented as I ever was. They’ve even stayed at different hotels so that I can have a bit of space. David says they’re probably star-struck. But I told him, right off, that I never touched any of them. It was probably Scary Spice. I know for a fact that she can turn ugly if someone hides her make-up bag.

So, could this Devon be the new Posh? Well look, I know that everyone can’t be me. I mean, how would the Yellow Pages work for goodness sakes? But, judging from her CD cover, she needs to make more of an effort. Nothing drastic. Just a bit of lipstick, mascara, powder, eye-liner, lip-liner, a wig, very large dark glasses, subdued lighting, and minor surgery. Of course, it’s not all about looks. Beauty’s only skin deep, after all. Although Geri says I have a very thick skin. Which is quite a compliment, when you think about it.

It’s not Devon’s fault, but her CD wouldn’t play on my gold ipod. It was way too big and even David couldn’t find a slot for it. Eventually, my manager had to rip it up or something to make it smaller. As he said while he was walking away ‘some people are just so dumb’. He’s right. I mean, who carries a record player about with them nowadays?

Sadly, after all that, I thought Devon’s songs were disappointing and needed a remix. Nothing drastic. Just change the tunes and add a bit of drums, bass, synthesiser, electric guitars, girlie singers, and some orchestras. And then speed them up a bit and add some computer sound effects. Then people might dance to them. She could also think about getting someone else to sing them. Every time she tries to do an American accent, it just ends up sounding like the Wurzels. Maybe she should watch a few more episodes of Neighbours?

And she needs new words as well. I know most songs have words (except for foreign songs, obviously). But her stuff has so many. The Well Dressed Son To His Sweetheart has some useful tips on putting on blue eyelids and pink lips (not that she follows her own advice!). But most of them are completely unrealistic and are all about things like mops and rugs and cleaning silver teapots. Doesn’t she know that domestic staff are fully trained? The first bit of Dress Sharp, Play Well, Be Modest is quite promising. I thought it was going to be about me! But then we get advice on digging holes before having a fence put in. Honestly! I’ve only one word to say on that: landscape gardeners.

To cap it all, she complains about only having a penny in her purse, but doesn’t bother to mention any of her credit cards. ‘Does she think we’re completely dumb?’, I asked David. We were both lost for words.

[First published in fRoots 298]

Sir Alex Ferguson reviews Mariza versus the Audience

PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2009 5:45 pm
by Gordon Neill
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This Mariza could be the next big signing for Manchester United. The lassies’s right up there with the great Portuguese players of the past. She’s classic centre forward material, with her height and that distinctive cropped hairstyle that a winger could easily pick out. A bit like Peter Crouch, but with genuine ability. It’s obvious, judging from this CD of the Lisbon derby, that she’s world class.

It was a strange 21-3-1 formation on the night, with a massed orchestra providing a solid defence, silky runs from the three midfield guitarists, and Mariza operating as a lone striker. But, right from the kick off, she set the tone. After 25 seconds, totally against the run of play, she hit a fantastic note. I doubt any goalkeeper could have stopped it. Before they knew what hit them, the audience were picking Loucura out the back of the net followed, four minutes later, by Medo.

The audience rallied at the start of Maria Lisboa, taking the initiative with some determined clapping. But, in a move reminiscent of the great Amalia, Mariza simply upped the pace and left them as virtual bystanders. By the time that Montras went in, it was effectively all over as a contest. The audience stuck manfully to the task but, with a fantastic work rate, Mariza kept piling on the misery. There was one sticky spell in the middle of Feira De Castro when the drummers got overambitious. With an eternity to play their section, they took too long over it and the audience immediately grabbed the initiative. Rhythmic clapping soon led to whistling and a consolation song was on the cards. But Mariza was having none of it. Taking advantage of some hesitation, she stepped in and almost ran the entire length of the tune by herself, before ruthlessly bending the notes over their heads.

With the songs piling up, there was the risk of complacency setting in. But she must have had a fresh pair of legs up her sleeve and just kept giving it 110% right to the end. You couldn’t fault her team mates for effort either. I was particularly impressed with Luis Guerreiro, who was playing Portuguese guitar on the wing. A flashy but never selfish playmaker, he consistently weaved in and out of the audience’s defences, before playing the simple pass to Mariza who nodded home each song with clinical precision.

It finished 16-nil, and it could have been more. An astonishing performance, even for a home tie. An emotional Mariza looked totally over the moon, although I believe she isn’t actually that tall. She did blot her copy book just before the final whistle. To be fair, I think she was just waving to the home fans. But the fact of the matter is, she raised her hands and she had to go.

It’s a long season, but if the lassie keeps putting in performances like this, week in week out, I’m sure she’ll avoid relegation to the supper clubs and at least reach mid pop chart safety. But you’ve got to wonder what she could achieve at Old Trafford. True, she’s no footballer, but there’s plenty of players like Steve Bruce who’ve done alright. And I’m not sure how she’d cope on a heavy pitch at Womad. But she could bring something new to the squad, helping to distract the opposition and getting the crowd singing. And think of the sponsorship potential. But, more than anything, you’ve got to wonder how she’d do with Ronaldo delivering crosses from the right and Gigsy on the left. Well worth £25 million, I’d say.

[First published in fRoots 299]