So long Vic Mackey

So it’s over – the last ever episode of The Shield was aired on Monday night. It was one of the greatest TV cops shows ever, possibly the greatest,* and in corrupt detective Vic Mackey, portrayed superbly by Michael Chiklis, it had one of the most compelling central characters in the history of the genre.
The ending was handled well – there was no final blaze of glory for Mackey, no explosive climax. He managed to foil the best efforts of his adversaries to prosecute him for his various misdeeds, but he still ended up paying a big price for his sins. Vic’s family were moved into witness protection to escape from him after his wife turned on and him tried to help the police bring him down. Ronnie Garocki, his fellow strike team member and his closest friend was hauled away by their former police colleagues to pay the price for their various misdeeds over the years, sold out by Vic himself. And the ultimate humiliation – after getting the job with the Feds he had been so desperate for he was relegated to a mundane desk job, faced with three years of pushing paper instead of being out on the streets busting the bad guys. The sight of Vic, dressed in regulation suit and tie, being lectured by the HR lady on the workings of the air conditioning system was a superb portrait of a proud man humiliated by the banality of his situation. Continue reading

Great debut albums

NME has a special issue this week to mark the 20th anniversary of the release of “The Stone Roses”, hailing it as “the greatest debut album ever”. Now I have to say I have never been a big fan of the Roses anyway and never really got the whole Manchester “baggy” thing but I guess it was one of those albums which perfectly captured the moment, a bit like “Sgt Pepper” or “Never Mind The Bollocks”. But strip away all that and consider the album purely on its own merits and it’s, well, OK. Not bad. It has a few decent songs but only one great one (“I Am The Resurrection”). Greatest debut album ever? Hmm…I would humbly suggest the following nominations for that accolade

1. The Velvet Underground – “The Velvet Underground and Nico”
2. The Jesus and Mary Chain – “Psychocandy”
3. The New York Dolls – “The New York Dolls”
4. Roxy Music – “Roxy Music”
5. Patti Smith – “Horses”

OK, maybe a bit narrow in terms of style and the timeframe but it’s not as though I stopped buying music in 1985, I just can’t think of any truly great debut albums since then which would stand up against those above, and I think you have to an extent consider works which have stood the test of time. Anyway, alternative suggestions greatfully received.

A couple of farewells…

First of all I would like to wish all Mutantblog readers a Happy New Year. Sorry for the lack of posts recently, this was due to a combination of home and work commitments and laziness, but mostly laziness.

Anyway, I have been stirred out of my stupor by a couple of sad pieces of news for us music lovers. Firstly, this week will see the closing of The Astoria, one of London’s best venues for gigs.

It has always been a favourie venue of mine – big enough to attract decent acts whilst still small enough to retain a good atmosphere, and easy (for me) to get to, being smack in the middle of the West End. I can’t possible remember every band I’ve seen there but off the top of my head I can recall great gigs by The Scissor Sisters, The Sleepy Jackson, The Cramps, Sparks, Alice Cooper, My Life Story, Flesh For Lulu, Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians, All About Eve, John Cale, Catatonia and many more. It will be sadly missed.

As will Ron Asheton, guitarist with The Stooges, who died last week. The first two Stooges albums were way ahead of their time, probably the first real “punk” records and very few others can match them for their sheer raw excitement, which this was down to a comination of Iggy Pop’s manic energy and Asheton’s raw and brutal guitar work. There is a good obituary here and below is a clip of the Stooges performing TV Eye on their comeback tour a couple of years ago – probably my favourite guitar riff of all time.

Who needs the BNP…

I didn’t see this on the newsstands but Anton Vowel at Enemies of Reason brought it to my attention.

Of course they will no doubt come up with the usual spurious nonsense to justify it…”raising legitimate concerns” etc. and will claim that people who complain are trying to “shut down debate about immigration”. Well bollocks – like so many other headline stories in the Express in recent years it is spurious, scaremongering racist nonsense - the people responsible really are no better than the BNP and yet they seem to get away with this stuff time and time again. 
So when you next see government ministers (and opposition spokesmen) wringing their hands about the BNP, ask why they haven’t got the guts to go after the real racist threat in this country. 

Lottery winner? Well who picked his numbers?

There was much outrage in The Sun yesterday over Colin Stagg’s £700k compensation award, his remark that he felt “like a lottery winner” and the relative paucity of the payouts to 7/7 victims. The Mail had a similar headline, although the story seems to have been toned down slightly on its website.
Now Stagg’s remarks about winning the lottery may have rather ill-advised but he does not pretend to be the most articulate and media-savvy of people, and given everything he has gone through he is surely entitled to expresss some kind of pleasure at receiving his compensation.  Continue reading