Happy Birthday Marcus Mumford

Marcus Mumford, the lead singer with the incredibly lively folk rock band Mumford and Sons was born 31st January 1987. The earliest memories of the band performing together are within the close confines of a rehearsal room in Putney, and street-side jamming sessions on the pavement ahead of a show. It was a scene already common to the band as musicians falling in and out of bands of each and every genre. Band members Ben Lovett and Marcus Mumford were already working on songs together from their school days, but those songs didn’t realise their full potential until Winston Marshall (armed with a banjo and dobro), and Ted Dwane (double bass, but with a penchant for being a multi-instrumental marvel) gave these songs new arrangements, and injected them with a real ‘band’ dynamic. Within a few months, Mumford & Sons released their eponymously named debut EP,which featured the first, self-produced recordings of ‘Roll Away Your Stone’, ‘Awake My Soul’, and ‘White Blank Page.

Mumford and Sons Debut Album “Sigh no More” was released in October 2009 to much critical Acclaim and rave reviews  and won the band a UK Brit Award in 2010 (Best Album), and was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize Award in the same year. Outside of Britain, Mumford & Sons also picked up two Grammy nominations (Best New Artist, Best Rock Song), and performed alongside Bob Dylan covering Maggie’s Farm at the awards themselves.

They also toured relentlessly in support of Sigh no More, The live shows in London sold-out instantly and were rammed to the rafters and this was soon replicated across the whole of the UK and The British and Ireland shows were selling out rapidly with each and every passing tour. A second EP was released, ‘Love Your Ground’, which featured the band’s own recordings of ‘Little Lion Man’ and the firm live favourite, ‘Feel The Tide’. This was followed by more touring, round Europe and They also had a ten-day live adventure across India, and also played to sold-out arenas in America and Australia. They also made an awesome appearance at Glastonbury 2011 and their second album “Babel” was released in 2012

 

 

Avatar

avatarOn 31st January 2010 the epic science fiction film Avatar became the first film to gross over $2 billion worldwide. and it was also one of the films I watched during my recent break form the Internet. written and directed by James Cameron, and starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Joel David Moore, Giovanni Ribisi and Sigourney Weaver.

The film is set in 2154, after humans have severely depleted Earth’s natural resources. So a group called The Resources Development Administration (RDA) is set up to discover the whereabouts of valuable new natural resources and they are currently exploring the biosphere of a densely forested habitable moon named Pandora, which is orbiting the gas giant Polyphemus in the Alpha Centauri star system. Pandora’s atmosphere is toxic to humans, and is inhabited by the Na’vi, 10-foot tall (3.0 m), blue-skinned, sapient humanoids who live in harmony with nature and worship a mother goddess called Eywa, So scientists including Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver), head of the Avatar Program, have developed Na’vi-human hybrids called “avatars”, operated by genetically matched humans; like Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a paraplegic former marine, who replaces his deceased twin brother as an operator of one in order to collect biological data. Unfortunately Jake’s Avatar is attacked by the local wildlife, but luckily he is rescued by Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), a female Na’vi. who takes the encounter as an important sign from the Goddess & takes him to her clan, whereupon Neytiri’s mother Mo’at (C. C. H. Pounder), the clan’s spiritual leader, orders her daughter to initiate Jake into their society and Over the next few months, Jake learns the Na’Vi ways and grows to sympathize with the natives.

Meanwhile Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), head of RDA’s private security force,asks Jake to gather intelligence about the Na’vi and the clan’s gathering place, a giant arboreal called Hometree, on grounds that it stands above the richest deposit of minerals in the area. When Grace learns of this, she transfers herself, Jake, and Norm to an outpost. Jake reveals his change of allegiance when he attempts to disable a bulldozer that threatens to destroy a sacred Na’vi site. When Quaritch shows a video recording of Jake’s attack on the bulldozer to Administrator Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi), and another in which Jake admits that the Na’vi will never abandon Hometree, Selfridge orders Hometree destroyed.Despite Grace’s argument that destroying Hometree could damage the biological neural network native to Pandora, Selfridge gives Jake and Grace one final chance to convince the Na’vi to evacuate before commencing the attack. While trying to warn the Na’vi, Jake confesses to being a spy and the Na’vi take him and Grace captive.

Quaritch’s men destroy Hometree, killing Neytiri’s father (the clan chief) and many others. Jake and Grace, are imprisoned by Quaritch’s forces. Pilot Trudy Chacón (Michelle Rodriguez), disgusted by Quaritch’s brutality, carries them to Grace’s outpost & In order To regain the Na’vi’s trust, Jake tames a huge dragon-like predator feared and honoured by the Na’vi to lead them agains the RDA. He finds the refugees at the sacred Tree of Souls and tries tounite the clan and tells them to gather all of the clans to battle against the RDA who are trying to destroy the Tree of Souls. Jake prays to Eywa, to intercede on behalf of the Na’vi.During the subsequent epic battle, both sides suffer heavy casualties, including Tsu’tey and Trudy; but are rescued when Pandoran wildlife unexpectedly join the attack and overwhelm the humans, which Neytiri interprets as Eywa’s answer to Jake’s prayer. Quaritch then tries to destroy the Tree of Souls, and clobber Jake however Neytiri intervenes…

Following the film’s success, Cameron signed with 20th Century Fox to produce two sequels, making Avatar the first of a planned trilogy.

Life on Earth (Part 1)

Life on Earth (1979)I am currently watching the highly acclaimed and fascinating twelve part television natural history series Life on Earth: A Natural History by David Attenborough, in which Sir David Attenborough travels the globe in order to trace the story of the evolution of life on the planet. it is the first in Attenborough’s ‘Life’ series of programmes and was followed by The Living Planet. The first episode “The Infinite Variety” begins in the South American rainforest where the rich variety of life forms is used to illustrate the sheer number of different species, and how many are dependent on others for food or means of reproduction, David Attenborough argues that they couldn’t all have appeared at once. So To discover which came first, and the reasons for such diversity he sets out on an epic journey which takes him all over the world from the Galapagos Islands, the Grand Canyon, Lake Superior in Canada, Australia and Yellowstone Park in Wyoming.

The next episode “Building Bodies” explores the various sea-living invertebrates and traces the The evolution of shelled creatures, from the flatworm, which eventually changed its body shape when burrowing became a necessity for either food or safety and developed shielded tentacles and casings which eventually enveloped the entire body, and became molluscs, including single-shelled such as the cowrie, bivalves including scallops, giant clams & the nautilus, and how they also evolved into species like the ammonites, sea lilies, starfish and sea urchins on the Great Barrier Reef how animals like the Trilobites and Crustaceans including the Horseshoe Crab and The Robber Crab formed the next evolutionary step.

The next episode “The First Forests” examines the earliest land vegetation and insects. and how the Crustaceans eventually evolved to live on land. Descended from segmented sea creatures, millipedes were among the first to take advantage of such a habitat and were quickly followed by other species. Without water to carry eggs, bodily contact between the sexes was now necessary. This was problematical for some hunters, such as spiders and scorpions, which developed courtship rituals to ensure that the female didn’t eat the male. The first plants were mainly mosses and liverworts however Over time, the plants’ cell walls strengthened and they grew taller these included Ferns and horsetails. Insects then evolved wings to avoid climbing and the dragonfly (which once Meganeura had a wingspan of 60 centimetres). Some plants, like the cycad enlisted the insects to transport pollen, while others, like the conifer, spread spores. Meanwhile the giant sequoia of California is the largest living organism of any kind: which grows to a height of 112 metres, secretes resin to repair its trunk, and this survives as amber. Within it, insect specimens have been found that are 200 million years old.

The fourth episode “The Swarming Hordes” details the relationship between flowers and insects. of which There are some one million classified species of insect, and two or three times as many that are yet to be labelled. Around 300 million years ago, plants began to enlist insects to help with their reproduction, and they did so with flowers, because although plants contain both male and female cells, pollination from another plant is preferable as it ensures greater variation and thus evolution. So Flowers advertise themselves by either scent or display. Some evolved to produce sweet-smelling nectar and in turn, insects developed their mouth parts into feeding tubes in order to reach it. However, to ensure that pollination occurs, some species — such as the orchid — have highly complicated mechanisms that must be negotiated first. Others, such as the yucca and its visiting moths, are dependent on one another. To take advantage of the visiting insects many predators such as the mantis and Crab Spider, are camouflaged to match the flowers and leaves visited by their prey. The Life-cycle of some insects is quite complicated – They hatch from eggs develop from Larvae Metamorphosise inside a coocoon before emerging as an adult. Most insects are small and to overcome this some insects like Ants, Termites, Bees and wasps became social and grouped together to form massive colonies to help them survive.

The fifth episode “Conquest of the Waters” looks at the evolution of fish, who have developed a multitude of shapes, sizes and methods of propulsion and navigation, from primative fish like the The sea squirt, the lancelet and the lamprey to the first back-boned fish which appeared about 400 million years ago. He finds Fossil records of the earliest fish to have developed jaws, the lateral line, swim bladders and Gills for breathing. These evolved into two shapes of creature with cartilaginous skeletons: wide ones (like rays and skates) and long ones (like sharks) and fully boned species that inhabit oceans, rivers and lakes. Coral reefs contain the greatest variety of species, many of which are conspicuously coloured to ward off predators or attract mates, however the open ocean offers no such refuge, so as there is safety in numbers both hunters and hunted swim in shoals and have streamlined bodies for pursuit or escape. Some never before seen fish live in the icy depths of the ocean and have developed a veriety of bizarre shapes to cope with the extreme conditions.

The sixth installment “Invasion of the Land” describes the move fish made from water to land and how they evolved into amphibians. and looks at a 450 million-year-old fossil of a amphibian called eusthenopteron that possessed both limbs for mobility and lungs to breathe and how it may have evolved from lungfish which are able to absorb gaseous oxygen and coelacanths, an ancient fish with bony fins that could have developed into legs. The episode looks at different groups of Amphibians like The Caecilians, who have abandoned legs altogether and live underground, newts and salamanders who need to return to the water to allow their skins to breathe and Frogs and Toads which have evolved into many different species such as the Goliath Frog, The Tree Frog, whose webbed feet form parachutes that turn them into “dazzling athletes”, with some species being able leap over 15 metres — 100 times their body length, and the Poison Dart Frogs, which are highly toxic, and deter predators by being brightly coloured. How frogs get round the problem of finding a mate by “singing” and the some of the extraordinary methods employed in breeding are examined, including laying eggs in rivers, depositing them in other damp habitats for safety or, as with the Brazilian pipa, embedding them within the skin of the parent itself.

However Amphibians have one disadvantage, they need lots of water to survive and episode seven “Victors of the Dry Land” is devoted to the evolution of reptiles and shows how reptiles evolved a scaly watertight skin to get round the problem of drying out. Scales also protect the animal from predators and can also provide an effective means of camouflage & it means They are not as restricted as their amphibian ancestors, and can survive in the hotter climates. Because reptiles do not need to return to water to breed they also evolved internal fertilisation and a watertight egg, which hatches fully formed young (Vivaporous) . However reptiles can’t generate body heat internally or sweat to keep cool. Therefore, they rely on the sun and areas of shade. Different types of reptile are looked at including the Nile Crocodile and snakes, including The boa Constrictor, puff adder and sidewinder who lost their legs and started burrowing instead and have developed a surprising array of methods for getting about and some extreme adaptations for survival including the egg-eating snake which has an extreme example of a hinged jaw, and the diamondback rattlesnake which is described as the most efficient killer.

Tribute to George Jackson Churchward

3440_CityofTruro7Best Known for designing GWR 3440 City of Truro, which held the unofficial record for the first steam locomotive to travel at over 100 miles per hour, British railroad engineer George Jackson Churchward was Born 31st January 1857. Apprenticed in the Newton Abbot works of the South Devon Railway in the GWR’s Swindon Works, he rose from draughtsman through several positions, including Carriage Works Manager, and in 1897 was appointed Chief Assistant to William Dean. After 5 years as Chief Assistant, he succeeded Dean as Locomotive Superintendent. In the 19th and early 20th century, railway companies were fiercely competitive. Speed meant revenue and speed was dependent on engineering. Churchward delivered to the GWR from Swindon a series of class-leading and innovative locomotives. Arguably, from the early 1900s to the 1920s the Great Western’s 2-cylinder and 4-cylinder 4-6-0 designs were substantially superior to any class of locomotive of the other British railway companies. On one occasion, the GWR’s directors confronted Churchward, and demanded to know why the London and North Western Railway were able to build three 4-6-0 locomotives for the price of two of Churchward’s “Stars”. Churchward allegedly gave a terse response: “Because one of mine could pull two of their bloody things backwards!”

Churchward preferred locomotives without trailing wheels, to maximise adhesion on the South Devon banks of Dainton, Rattery and Hemerdon on the West of England mainline to Plymouth, then the Great Western’s most important route. Due to the weight and dimensional restrictions required to pass over all the GWR’s lines, he designed narrow fireboxes, but with good circulation. Combining high boiler pressures with superheating made efficient use of the high calorific-value steam coal from the mines in South Wales. Other refinements included feed-water distribution trays beneath the top-fitted clack boxes to minimize boiler stress and large bearing surfaces to reduce wear.

Churchward also made advancements in carriage design. He introduced the GWR’s first steel-roofed coaches and is also credited with introducing to Britain several refinements from American and French steam locomotive practice. Among these were the tapered boiler and the casting of cylinders and saddles together, in halves. His choice of outside cylinders for express locomotives was also not standard in Britain for that time. Many elements of British practice were retained, of course. His locomotives for the most part used British plate frames, and the crew was accommodated in typical British fashion. The selection of a domeless boiler was more common to Britain than to the U.S. In 1922 Churchward retired, and C. B. Collett inherited his legacy of excellent, standardised designs. These designs influenced British locomotive practice to the end of steam. Major classes built by the LMS and even British Railways 50 years later are clearly developments of Churchward’s basic designs. The LMS Stanier Class 5 4-6-0 and the BR standard class 5 are both derived from his Saint class early examples of which date to 1902.

The first class of locomotives with which Churchward won success and worldwide recognition was the 4-4-0 ‘City’ class, which soon became one of the most famous class locomotives in the world at the time. One of them, City of Truro, became the first engine in the world to haul a train at 100 miles per hour in 1904 (although unauthenticated). He went on to build the ‘County’ class and the ‘Star’ class. Number 3440 City Of Truro is a Great Western Railway (GWR) 3700 (or ‘City’) Class 4-4-0 locomotive, designed by George Jackson Churchward and built at the GWR Swindon Works in 1903. (It was rebuilt to a limited extent in 1911 and 1915, and renumbered 3717 in 1912). It is one of the contenders for the first steam locomotive to travel in excess of 100 miles per hour (160.9 km/h). City of Truro was timed at 8.8 seconds between two quarter-mile posts whilst hauling the “Ocean Mails” special from Plymouth to London Paddington on 9 May 1904. This timing was recorded from the train by Charles Rous-Marten, who wrote for The Railway Magazine and other journals. If exact (Rous-Marten’s stopwatch read in multiples of 1/5 second), this time would correspond to a speed of 102.3 mph (164.6 km/h), while 9 seconds would correspond to exactly 100 mph.Its maximum speed has been the subject of much debate over the years.

Happy Birthday Chad Channing

Chad Channing, American ex-musician with Seattle Grunge band Nirvana was born born 31st January 1967.Nirvana were formed by singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic in Aberdeen, Washington in 1987. Nirvana went through a succession of drummers, the longest-lasting being Dave Grohl, who joined the band in 1990.In the late 1980s Nirvana became established as part of the Seattle grunge scene, . The band eventually came to develop a sound that relied on dynamic contrasts, often between quiet verses and loud, heavy choruses.

Nirvana released their first single, “Love Buzz”, in November 1988. The following month, the band began recording its debut album, Bleach, which was released on the independent record label Sub Pop in 1989 and was highly influenced by the heavy dirge-rock of the Melvins and Mudhoney, 1980s punk rock, and the 1970s heavy metal of Black Sabbath. Novoselic noted in a 2001 interview with Rolling Stone that the band had played a tape in their van while on tour that had an album by The Smithereens on one side and an album by the black metal band Celtic Frost on the other, and noted that the combination probably played an influence as well.

Following the release of Bleach in June 1989, Nirvana embarked on its first national tour, and the album became a favorite of college radio stations. Although Sub Pop did not promote Bleach as much as other releases, it was a steady seller,and had initial sales of 40,000 copies. However, Cobain was upset by the label’s lack of promotion and distribution for the album. In late 1989, the band recorded the Blew EP with producer Steve Fisk. In a late 1989 interview, Cobain noted that the band’s music was changing. He said, “The early songs were really angry … But as time goes on the songs are getting poppier and poppier as I get happier and happier. The songs are now about conflicts in relationships, emotional things with other human beings”. In April 1990, the band began working with producer Butch Vig at Smart Studios in Madison, Wisconsin on recordings for the follow-up to Bleach. During the sessions, Cobain and Novoselic became disenchanted with Channing’s drumming, and Channing expressed frustration at not being actively involved in songwriting. As bootlegs of Nirvana’s demos with Vig began to circulate in the music industry and draw attention from major labels, Channing left the band.

Happy Birthday John Lydon

John Lydon, A.K.A Johnny Rotten vocalist with The Sex Pistols was born 31st January 1956.  formed in London in 1975 The Sex Pistols were responsible for initiating the punk movement in the United Kingdom and inspiring many later punk and alternative rock musicians. Although their initial career lasted just two-and-a-half years and produced only four singles and one studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, they are regarded as one of the most influential acts in the history of popular music, and the album is regarded as a classic by many.

They evolved from “The Strand”, a London band formed in 1972 with working-class teenagers Steve Jones on vocals, Paul Cook on drums, and Wally Nightingale on guitar. According to a later account by Jones, both he and Cook played on instruments they had stolen. vocalist Johnny Rotten joined soon after In August 1975, when he was spotted wearing a Pink Floyd T-shirt with the words I Hate handwritten above the band’s name and holes scratched through the eyes. The line-up was completed by guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook and bassist Glen Matlock, who was replaced by Sid Vicious in early 1977.

Under the management of impresario Malcolm McLaren, the band provoked controversies that captivated Britain. Their behaviour, as much as their music, brought them national attention and their concerts repeatedly faced difficulties with organizers and authorities, and public appearances often ended in mayhem. Their 1977 single “God Save the Queen”, attacking Britons’ social conformity and deference to the Crown, precipitated the “last and greatest outbreak of pop-based moral pandemonium”.

Since the spring of 1977, the three senior Sex Pistols had also been returning to the studio periodically with Chris Thomas to lay down the tracks for the band’s debut album. Initially to be called God Save Sex Pistols, it became known during the summer as Never Mind the Bollocks. In January 1978, after a turbulent tour of the United States, Rotten left the band and announced its break-up. Over the next several months, the three other band members recorded songs for McLaren’s film version of the Sex Pistols’ story, The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle. Vicious died of a heroin overdose in February 1979. In 1996, Rotten, Jones, Cook and Matlock reunited for the Filthy Lucre Tour; since 2002, they have staged further reunion shows and tours. On 24 February 2006, the Sex Pistols—the four original members plus Vicious—were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Ramones

Tommy Ramone was born 29th January 1952. The Ramones were one of the worlds most influential Punk Rock Band, Formed in the New York City neighborhood of Forest Hills, Queens, in 1974, they  are often cited as the first punk rock group, and despite achieving only limited commercial success, the band was a major influence on the punk rock movement both in the United States and the United Kingdom.   All of the band members adopted pseudonyms ending with the surname “Ramone”, though none of them were related. They performed 2,263 concerts, touring virtually nonstop for 22 years. In 1996, after a tour with the Lollapalooza music festival, the band played a farewell concert and disbanded. Little more than eight years after the breakup, the band’s three founding members—lead singer Joey Ramone, guitarist Johnny Ramone, had died while bassist Dee Dee Ramone sadly passed away in 2002.

Their only record with enough U.S. sales to be certified gold was the compilation album Ramones Mania. However, recognition of the band’s importance built over the years, and they are now cited in many assessments of all-time great rock music, such as the Rolling Stone list of the 50 Greatest Artists of All Time and VH1′s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. In 2002, the Ramones were ranked the second-greatest band of all time by Spin magazine, trailing only The Beatles. On March 18, 2002, the Ramones—including the three founders and drummers Tommy and Marky Ramone—were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2011, the group was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. So to Pay tribute, here are some wonderfully energetic classics courtesy of YouTube