Posted in music

Freddie Mercury (Queen)

freddie-mercuryBest known as the lead vocalist and lyricist with rock band “Queen”,The late great British musician, singer and songwriter, Freddie Mercury ( Farrokh Bulsara) was born in Zanzibar on the 5th September 1946 and grew up there and in India until his mid-teens, which led to him being referred to as Britain’s first Asian rock star”. Mercury spent the bulk of his childhood in India & began taking piano lessons from the age of seven up to the age of nine. From the age of eight He went to St. Peter’s boarding school for boys in Panchgani near Bombay (now Mumbai), India one of his formative musical influences at the time was Bollywood singer Lata Mangeshkar.At the Age of 12, he formed a school band, The Hectics, & covered rock and roll artists such as Cliff Richard and Little Richard and began to call himself “Freddie”. He remained in India, living with his grandmother and aunt until he completed his education at St. Mary’s School, Bombay.At the age of 17, Mercury & his family fled from Zanzibar due to the 1964 Zanzibar Revolution and moved to Feltham, Middlesex, England where he enrolled at Isleworth Polytechnic (now West Thames College) in West London & studied art. He ultimately earned a Diploma in Art and Graphic Design at Ealing Art College, later using these skills to design the Queen crest. Mercury remained a British citizen for the rest of his life.Following graduation, Mercury joined a series of bands and sold second-hand clothes in the Kensington Market in London. While living in London, he also learned guitar. Much of the music he liked was guitar-oriented: his favourite artists at the time were The Who, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, & Led Zeppelin. In 1969 he joined the band Ibex, later renamed Wreckage then joined a second band called Sour Milk Sea, then In April 1970, Mercury joined guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor who had previously been in a band called Smile & Despite reservations, Mercury chose the name “Queen” for the new band. He also changed his surname, Bulsara, to Mercury and recruited bass guitar player John Deacon prior to recording their eponymous debut album.

Queen’s earliest works were influenced by progressive rock, but the band gradually ventured into more conventional & radio-friendly works,incorporating more diverse & innovative styles in their music. They enjoyed considerable success in the UK with their debut and its follow-up, Queen II, but it was the release of Sheer Heart Attack (1974) & A Night at the Opera that gained the band international success, which featured “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which stayed at number one in the UK Singles Chart for nine weeks; it charted at number one in several other territories, and gave the band their first top ten hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. Their 1977 album, News of the World, contained two of rock’s most recognisable anthems, “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions”. Mercury also played the piano in many of Queen’s most popular songs, including “Killer Queen”, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy”, “We Are the Champions”, “Somebody To Love” and “Don’t Stop Me Now”. He used concert grand pianos and, occasionally, other keyboard instruments such as the harpsichord. From 1980 onward, he also made frequent use of synthesisers in the studio and As a songwriter, he composed 10 of the 17 songs on Queen’s Greatest Hits album: “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Seven Seas of Rhye”, “Killer Queen”, “Somebody to Love”, “Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy”, “We Are the Champions”, “Bicycle Race”, “Don’t Stop Me Now”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “Play the Game”.He was also known for his flamboyant stage persona & displayed a highly theatrical style that often evoked a great deal of participation from the crowd. Over the course of his career, Mercury performed an estimated 700 concerts in countries around the world and by the early 1980s they were one of the biggest stadium rock bands in the world, A notable aspect of Queen concerts was the large scale involved.

The band was the first ever to play in South American stadiums, breaking worldwide records for concert attendance in the Morumbi Stadium in São Paulo in 1981. In 1986, Queen also played behind the Iron Curtain when they performed to a crowd of 80,000 in Budapest, in what was one of the biggest rock concerts ever held in Eastern Europe. One of Mercury’s most notable performances with Queen took place at Live Aid in 1985, in front of an audience of 72,000 people, and has since been voted by a group of music executives as the greatest live performance in the history of rock music. Mercury’s final live performance with Queen took place on 9 August 1986 at Knebworth Park in England & drew an attendance estimated as high as 300,000.

Mercury sadly passed away on 24th November 1991 of bronchopneumonia brought on by AIDS on 24 November 1991, only one day after publicly acknowledging he had the disease & Deacon retired in 1997. Since then, May and Taylor have infrequently performed together, including a collaboration with Paul Rodgers under the name Queen + Paul Rodgers which ended in May 2009. They also performed at the Olympic Closing Ceremony in 2012, together with a recording of Freddie Mercury in the background. During their career Queen released 18 number one albums, 18 number one singles, and 10 number one DVDs & are considered to be one of the world’s best-selling music artists. They received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Phonographic Industry in 1990, & were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 and in 2002, Mercury was placed at number 58 in the BBC’s poll of the 100 Greatest Britons, in 2006, Time Asia named him one of the most influential Asian heroes of the past 60 years, In 2008, Rolling Stone editors ranked him number 18 on their list of the 100 greatest singers of all time. In 2009, a Classic Rock poll saw him voted the greatest rock singer of all time & Allmusic characterised Mercury as “one of rock’s greatest all-time entertainers”, possessing “one of the greatest voices in all of music” & he continues to be voted one of the greatest singers in the history of popular music.

Posted in films & DVD

Captain America:Civil War

Captain America: Civil War is out on DVD. It begins One year after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron with Political pressure being mounted on SHEILD to install a system of accountability regulating superhuman activity. This follows the The actions of the Avengers, who were sent to prevent Bucky Barnes from stealing a top secret serum which The Evil HYDRA Organisation intends to use to create super soldiers and take over the world. However this goes wrong  when Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, Sam Wilson, and Wanda Maximoff inadvertently kill a number of innocent relief aid workers increasing the international community’s distrust of the Avengers’ work.

However This new regime of accountability deeply divides members of the team. Captain America (Chris Evans) believes superheroes should remain free to defend humanity without government interference. However Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) disagrees and thinks Superheroes should be accountable for their actions. This fractures the Avengers into opposing factions, one led by Steve Rogers and another by Tony Stark and the debate escalates into an all-out feud.

Meanwhile Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross informs the Avengers that the United Nations has drawn up the Sokovia Accords, to establish an international governing body to monitor and police the rapidly growing superhuman population. Tony Stark supports it because he feels responsible for creating Ultron and for the destruction the android brought to Sokovia, while Rogers is distrustful of governmental agendas and wishes the Avengers to remain free to act of their own accord.  Romanoff, witnesses the assassination of King T’Chaka of Wakanda. T’Chaka’s son T’Challa vows to kill the bomber, who turns out to be Barnes.

Despite Romanoff’s objections, Rogers and Wilson track Barnes to his hideout in Bucharest and attempt to protect him from the police and T’Challa. Rogers, Wilson, Barnes, and T’Challa are captured, but Barnes is soon released by Colonel Helmut Zemo, who is heading to the Siberian facility where Barnes was held, to unfreeze the other Winter Soldiers the stolen serum was used to create. Rogers recruits Wanda, Clint Barton, and Scott Lang to help him together with Romanoff, T’Challa, James Rhodes and Vision and Peter Parker. Stark and his team intercept Rogers’ team at Leipzig/Halle Airport, resulting in a huge battle. Stark follows Rogers and Barnes to the Siberian HYDRA facility and reconciles with them, unaware that he has been pursued by T’Challa. They discover that the other Winter Soldiers have been killed by Zemo; Then Stark discovers that his parents were killed by James Bucky Barnes.

Posted in books, films & DVD

Tale of Tales

I have recently watched Tale of Tales (Italian: Il racconto dei racconti), a dark fantasy film, directed by Matteo Garrone, starring Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel, Toby Jones, and John C Reilly. The film is based on Pentamerone, a 17th-century Italian collection of fairytales and features three surreal tales La Cerva Fatata (The Enchanted Doe), La Pulce (The Flea), La Vecchia Scorticata (The Flayed Old Lady).

The first tale begins in the kingdom of Darkwood, where the King and Queen have tried everything to have a child, but are not successful. The King loves his Queen, but all she desires is a child. One night, a necromancer provides a risky alternative: the Queen must eat the heart of an aquatic dragon cooked by a virgin, which will make her instantly with child. However, this will also come at the cost of a life. The Queen does not care the price, and thus the King sets off to slay the aquatic dragon, and dies while doing so. The Queen does not mourn the loss of her husband, but only cares for the dragon’s heart. Upon eating the heart, the queen bears a son, Elias, in one day’s time.Simultaneously, the virgin who cooked the heart for the Queen also gives birth to a boy, Jonah, who looks identical to the young prince, whose destiny will be intertwined with his twin.

Elias’s friendship with Jonah grows This greatly hurts the Queen, who eventually attempts to murder Jonah. As a result, Jonah leaves the kingdom, leaving his Mother and Elias behind. Elias is heart-broken, and tries to convince Jonah to stay, but Jonah informs him that he must go. Jonah tells Elias that so long as a nearby tree continues to spout clear water, to know that he is well and alive. However One day, when Elias comes to the tree, he sees blood in the water and immediately leaves to find Jonah. When Elias arrives in Jonah’s village, Jonah’s sweetheart and friends mistake Elias for him. Elias claims to have lost his memory, and discovers that Jonah has been missing in the woods for five days, and goes in search of him.

The entire kingdom search for Elias, but cannot find him. The following night, the necromancer visits the Queen, and tells the Queen it is her fault for Elias’s disappearance for trying to separate what is inseparable. However, the necromancer tells the Queen that Elias can be returned for a price and, the Queen accepts the necromancer’s offer. The next day, Elias finds Jonah in a cave being held by a monster and confronts the monster.

The second segment, starts in the kingdom of Highmountain whete King lives with his daughter, Violet. one day while rehearsing a song that she has written for him, the King notices a flea Distracted by the flea, the King barely notices his daughter’s performance. He then captures the flea and hides it in his room, making it his beloved pet, fed on blood and steaks. The flea gradually metamorphoses into a gigantic Kafkaesque domesticated creature. When the flea dies, the King is devastated and decides to skin it and give his daughter as a bride to whomever is able to guess the skin’s provenance. An ogre solves the riddle and wins the princess as his bride. Violet, who has dreamed of marrying a handsome prince, attempts to commit suicide by plunging off the castle’s tower to her death, but her father stops her, and says that she must go through with the marriage because he has made it his proclamation. In tears, Violet agrees, stating that her father never loved her at all.

The Ogre takes Violet to his cave on top of a mountain, and the Princess is kept prisoner and raped by the Ogre. One day, while the Ogre is hunting, Violet spots a woman, whom she begs for help. The women tells her she will return tomorrow, and brings her husband and sons to save the Princess by throwing her a rope that one of the sons uses as a tightrope to retrieve the Princess. While the entertainer’s son is carrying the Princess on his back on the tightrope, unfortunately the Ogre returns, however The entertainer’s husband is able to cut the rope before the Ogre reaches them, and the Ogre falls into the abyss. However, the Ogre is not dead and finds the Princess and slays the entertainer’s entire family. He is about to kill the Princess, but has a tender moment for her. He’s resigned to taking her back to the mountain and motions for the princess to climb on his back. The Princess pretends to get on by placing an arm around him and then slits his throat. Sadly During the time that Violet was away, the King has grown ill.

In the third segment, in the kingdom of Stronghold (Italian: Roccaforte), a King is intrigued by a mysterious woman’s celestial singing. Adamant in seducing her, he courts her outside her home, unaware that she is one of the two elderly dyer sisters Imma and Dora. The king is persistent, so Dora agrees to spend the night with the king, as long as it is in complete darkness, so to hide her appearance from him. However, the King’s curiosity gets the better of him and he lights a candle to see Dora’s face. When he discovers her true appearance he is horrified at having slept with her. The King calls for his guards, who toss Dora out of the King’s bed chamber window to her death. However, before Dora reaches the ground, the bed sheets become entangled in a tree. A witch rescues her from the tree and casts a spell that turns her into a beautiful maiden. Later, the King sees the now young and beautiful Dora and decides to make her his Queen.

Enjoying her new appearance, Dora sends Imma a dress and a wedding invitation to the castle. When Imma sees her at the castle feast, Dora tells her she mustn’t tell a soul who she is, as no one would believe her. At the end of the evening, Imma does not want to leave her sister and refuses to leave. She wants to know the secret to her sister’s youthful looks, but Dora says she woke up that way after her fall from the window. Imma doesn’t believe her and badgers her for the truth. In a fit of anger, Dora says she flayed herself and grew new skin. Then Dora hears the King coming and hides Imma behind a screen while she and the King consummate their marriage. Imma is fascinated and reveals herself while watching the couple make love. The King believes Imma to be the “witch” he slept with and calls for his guards to take her away. Dora tells the King that Imma is her old neighbour and begs him not to hurt her. Once outside the castle, Imma tries to find someone who will flay her. She eventually finds a knife sharpener willing to do the job, for a price. This leaves Imma bloody and disfigured. Elias, Dora, and her lustful King attend Violet’s official coronation as Queen at Kingdom of Highmountain. Unfortunately Dora’s beauty begins to fade so she flees the Highmountain castle to live the rest of her days alone.