The Hobbit

Having read the Silmarillian, Children of Hurin, The Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and Return of the King I was excited to learn that the world premiere of the first part of Peter Jackson’s long-awaited adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s classic novel The Hobbit will be screened in Wellington, New Zealand on Wednesday 28th November. It stars Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, Sir Ian Mckellen as Gandalf, Sylvester McCoy as Radagast, Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, Hugo Weaving as Elrond, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel and Barry Humphries as The Goblin King and is Set in a time “Between the Dawn of Færie and the Dominion of Men”,

The Hobbit follows the sometimes dangerous, but at all times exciting quest of home-loving hobbit Bilbo Baggins who joins the Wizard Gandalf and a company of thirteen dwarves led by Thorin Okenshield on a dangerous journey to the Lonely Mountain, to reclaim the kingdom of Erabor and the many treasures which have been stolen by the fearsome dragon Smaug. Along the way they encounter many hazards including Cave Trolls, Giant Spiders, Hordes of Orcs and Imprisonment by the Elves of Mirkwood Forest, as if that wasn’t enough something decidedly dodgy is also stirring in the Fortress of Dol Gulder, to the South-East of Mirkwood. Peter Jackson has also including some of the related material in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings and Unfinished Tales, in order to tell more of the tale of Bilbo Baggins, the Dwarves of Erebor, the rise of the Necromancer and the Battle of Dol Guldur. The story reaches its climax during the Battle of Five Armies, where The men of Dale, The Elves of Mirkwood, The Dwarves of Erabor, the Hordes of Orcs and the Eagles all try to reclaim the treasure stolen by Smaug.

Thankfully Howard Shore is once again doing the Film Score for the Hobbit. I also found out recently that J.R.R.Tolkien got the inspiration for some of the landmarks in Middle Earth from Perrotts Folly and the Edgbaston Waterworks Tower, which are prominent landmarks about 600 metres apart in the Ladywood area of Birmingham and it is reputed locally that these towers are the basis of the `Two Towers of Gondor’ – Minas Morgul and Minas Tirith.

In addition J. R. R. Tolkien also lived near Moseley Bog as a child, and this site is acknowledged the site as inspiration for the ancient forests in his books The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit such as Fanghorn, Lothlorien and Mirkwood. Nearby Sarehole Mill and the surrounding area on the River Cole is said to have also been inspiration for Tolkien’s writings. This was once a secondary reservoir to feed the millpond of Sarehole Mill, but has since been turned into a nature reserve in the Moseley area of Birmingham. On 17 July 1991 It was declared a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) by Birmingham City Council & Much of the area comprising Moseley Bog was declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1980. However, following its LNR declaration and re-evaluation by English Nature the site was denotified as an SSSI on 21 July 1992, but remains a locally designated Site of Importance for NatureConservation (SINC). The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country now leases Moseley Bog from Birmingham City Council.

Happy Birthday Charlie Burchill

Charlie Burchill guitarist and keyboard player with Scottish rock band Simple Minds was Born 27th November 1959. Simple Minds achieved worldwide popularity from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s and continue to tour in the new millennium.

The band produced a number of critically acclaimed albums in the early 1980s and best known for their No. 1 hit single “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, from the soundtrack of the John Hughes film The Breakfast Club. They are also known for the No. 3 US hit single “Alive and Kicking” and the No. 1 UK hit single “Belfast Child”. In 1986, the band was nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Group. The band has sold more than 60 million albums worldwide, among them are New Gold Record and Once Upon a Time

The core of the band is the two remaining founder members – Jim Kerr (vocals, songwriting) and Charlie Burchill (guitars, keyboards after 1990, other instruments, songwriting) – and drummer Mel Gaynor (who first joined the band in 1982). The other current band members are Andy Gillespie (keyboards) and Ged Grimes (bass guitar). Significant former members include bass guitarist Derek Forbes and keyboard player Michael MacNeil (the latter credited as a significant band composer during the band’s rise in the 1980’s.

Happy Birthday Mike Bordin

I used to be a big fan of Faith No More so I thought I would do a post on Mike Bordin, the drummer with Faith No More who was born this date 27th November  in 1962. Faith No More hail from San Francisco, California, and were regarded as one of the most influential metal/rock bands of the late 80s and early 90s, and credited for inventing alternative metal and as an influence on nu metal.It was formed originally as Faith No Man in 1981 by bassist Billy Gould, keyboardist Wade Worthington, vocalist M Morris, and drummer Mike Bordin.A year later when Worthington was replaced by keyboardist Roddy Bottum, who along with Gould and Bordin, formed Faith No More. After going through a series of singers which included Courtney Love, the band was joined by Chuck Mosley in 1983. The same year, Jim Martin was recruited to replace guitarist Mark Bowen.

Faith No More underwent several line-up changes before releasing their first album, We Care a Lot, in 1985. Within a year the band signed up withSlash Records, and in 1987 their second album Introduce Yourself was released. Membership remained stable until vocalist Mosley was replaced by Mike Patton in 1988. In 1989, the band released their highly successful album, The Real Thing, which featured the songs“Epic,  Falling To PiecesFrom Out of Nowhere and Small Victory

The band’s next album, 1992′s Angel Dust, was also highly successful and spawned the hit   Midlife Crisis, , which became their sole #1 hit on the Modern Rock Tracks chart in their career. Angel Dust is widely considered to be one of the most influential albums of the 90′s. Faith No More however declined in popularity in the subsequent years. Longtime guitarist Jim Martin left the group in 1994 and was replaced by Mr. Bungle guitarist Trey Spruance. After the release of their next album, 1995′s King for a Day… Fool for a Lifetime, Spruance was replaced briefly by Dean Menta, who would eventually be replaced by their current guitarist Jon Hudson. After releasing one more album, Album of the Year, in 1997, Faith No More broke up in April 1998, and all members began work on side projects.

On February 24, 2009, Faith No More announced that they would be reforming for a European tour with the same lineup at the time of their breakup.In June 2009, they performed together for the first time in eleven years at the Brixton Academy in London, United Kingdom, as part of their The Second Coming Tour. Throughout 2010, the band continued to perform at multiple live venues. In September 2010, the band announced that the reunion tour would come to an end in December and plans for a new album had been scrapped, although bassist Billy Gould has said recently that the band might continue. Faith No More returned again in November 14th 2011 at the SWU Music and Arts Festival, in the Brazilian city of Paulínia, as well on three other dates. Trey Spruance joined the band onstage for the very first time to perform the King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime album in its entirety in Santiago, Chile in November 2011.

“…I Stand up next to a mountain…” – Tribute to Jimi Hendrix

Considered to be the greatest guitarist in popular music, The late great James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix) was born on this date November 27, at Seattle’s King County Hospital, in 1942. He is Widely hailed by music fans and critics alike as the greatest electric guitarist of all time, and remains the most influential rock guitarist and songwriter in recording history. He was influenced by blues artists such as B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Albert King and Elmore James, rhythm, blues and soul guitarists Curtis Mayfield and Steve Cropper, and the jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery.

Hendrix was mostly self-taught on the guitar. He was ambidextrous but chose to play the guitar upside-down and re-strung for playing left-handed, which suggests that he was more comfortable left-handed. As a guitarist, he built upon the innovations of blues stylists such as B.B. King, Albert King, Buddy Guy, T-Bone Walker, and Muddy Waters, as well as those of rhythm and blues and soul music guitarists such as Curtis Mayfield. Hendrix’s music was also influenced by jazz; he often cited Rahsaan Roland Kirk as his favourite musician. In addition, Hendrix extended the tradition of rock guitar; although previous guitarists, such as The Kinks’ Dave Davies, Jeff Beck, and The Who’s Pete Townshend, had employed techniques such as feedback, distortion and other effects as sonic tools,Hendrix was able to exploit them to a previously undreamed-of extent, and made them an integral part of his own private, unique genre, which he called “Red”.

The Hendrix sound combined high volume and high power, feedback manipulation, and a range of cutting-edge guitar effects, especially the UniVibe-Octavia combination, which can be heard to full effect on the Band of Gypsys’ live version of “Machine Gun”. He was also known for his trick playing, which included playing with only his right (fretting) hand, using his teeth or playing behind his back, although he soon grew tired of audience demands to perform these tricks. As a record producer, Hendrix was an innovator in using the recording studio as an extension of his musical ideas. Hendrix was notably one of the first to experiment with stereo effects during the recording process. Hendrix was also an accomplished songwriter whose compositions have been performed by countless artists. At Woodstock, Larry Lee was a member of Hendrix’ Band of Gypsies, and also played a Gibson Les Paul Studio model and sung with Hendrix as well.

During his lifetime Hendrix won many of the most prestigious rock music awards, and has been posthumously awarded many more, including being inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. An English Heritage blue plaque was erected in his name on his former residence at Brook Street, London, in September 1997. A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (at 6627 Hollywood Blvd.) was dedicated in 1994. In 2006, his debut US album, Are You Experienced, was inducted into the United States National Recording Registry, and in 2003 Rolling Stone Magazine named Hendrix the top guitarist on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all-time.