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Martin McDonagh’s play THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE (LINKED) reviewed at Chichester’s Minerva Theatre. The production is moving on to the Lyric, Hammersmith. Booking is suggested! McDonagh is a major playwright, and his plays are comedies and tragedies rolled into one. We felt there were issues in the production about fitting it onto a thrust stage, but also on several other points, music especially. Read and see.

Film review of EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE (linked). It is currently showing on Amazon Prime, and it is free(if you subscribe). We thought it entertaining and enjoyable, though it suffers in comparison with Sex Education Series Three over at Netflix. It may not have been the best week to release it. Though it’s a musical, based on a stage musical there are strong plot similarities.

Human Touch

On AROUND AND AROUND, Reviled! visits 1992 and Bruce Springsteen’s HUMAN TOUCH. This was voted Bruce’s weakest album in an online poll of fans. I agree. Usually, these albums get better as I listen and work on the article, but HUMAN TOUCH just got worse. One of the “justly reviled” category. The surprise was that until then The Boss had really done no wrong. With other artists, you expect the odd weaker album. With bruce it was a shock. I explore why.

One Trick Pony

The latest addition to the “Reviled! Albums Critics Love To Hate” series is ONE TRICK PONY by Paul Simon from 1980 (follow link). I found I had to review the film at the same time. The album was always a favourite of mine, and the record was liked more in Europe than in the USA. 

 The film was generally knocked by critics, and didn’t get a release in the UK. Critics who had not seen the film were more generous than those who had. In retrospect though, the film was wildly under-estimated … and politics of record labels had more to do with this than quality. It’s a fascinating tale.

A rant added on the inexorable march of halloumi fries on menus. Follow the link to the article.

At last! Back to Stratford-upon-Avon and Shakespeare in the RSC’s “Garden Theatre” created for this Covid season. The Comedy of Errors (LINK TO REVIEW) never fails to entertain, and this is a 5 star production, directed by Phillip Breen. Full on RSC at its best. What made it fascinating was that there were four actors out with tests, so EIGHT parts had to be understudied. The RSC is renowned for its understudy productions and special performances. The fruit is here. We thought two of the understudies virtually stole the show.

People keep viewing my Language Learning in Britain Past, so I decided to add a companion piece on my own school experiences of the 60s (mainly of inept teaching). Here it is ENG.LIT. IN BRITAIN PAST. See link. There is a comments box at the end of the article. You may think me harsh.

Around and Around’s “Reviled!” series continues with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. There were several to choose from, but if we dismiss the “Unfinished Music” series, it has to be SOMETIME IN NEW YORK CITY (link to review). Rarely have the critics dipped their pens in so much vitriol. Mostly it was justified. John and Yoko. 1972. This double album was reviled for its trite and banal political lyrics. Recorded with a third rate band, Elephant’s Memory too. Then they decided to add a free live double album that most would have filed inthe wastebin. But … I do find some virtues.(And Yoko’s remastered 2010 CD sounds better than the original vinyl album).

At last, an indoor theatre review after such a gap. What a way to start, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s SOUTH PACIFIC (FOLLOW LINK) at my favourite theatre, Chichester. It has taken me decades to learn to appreciate the musicals my parents’ generation loved. This sparkling state-of-the-art production has it all at the highest level, singing, dancing, acting, comedy and the Chichester staging on a revolving platform. I hate reviewing things you can’t see, but you CAN see this. Chichester is streaming it several times over the next three weeks. You have to buy a “ticket” and there are some afternoon streams (2.30 BST) and some evening (7.30 BST). Read my review, look at the pictures then if you want to see it, go to cft(dot)org to book.

Top Rank

An article on the Top Rank record label added. (Follow link) The label existed for under four years 1959-1962, but introduced several American classics to the UK, before being bought by EMI then melded into the Stateside label. The history of Top Rank’s move from British films to music is interesting in itself. These ‘record label’ pieces attract fewer readers than the rticles on albums, but have a look if only for the wealth of pictures. As you will see they run from the sublime (Dee Clark on ‘Raindrops’) via Joe Meek at his best on ‘Johnny Remember Me’ to the ridiculous.