Category Archives: Reviews

Night Shift #19 – One More For the Road…

619i-4slsfl645695221..jpg

Word count – 6,300

The first story in this anthology, Jerusalem’s Lot, acts as a prelude to King’s second novel, ‘Salem’s Lot, and One More For the Road is somewhat of a suffix to that novel.

What this piece has going for it over Jerusalem’s Lot is that it takes a more modern approach to the storytelling, and that in itself is immediately a tick in the pro column. The narrative style of that first companion piece is one of the main reasons that I could not recommend it.

You don’t need to have read ‘Salem’s Lot (and certainly not the other short story in this collection) to get or enjoy this piece. Ultimately, this is a straightforward vampire tale, but familiarity does help to flesh out the world. One More For the Road gets a pass, but it’s a very thin recommendation.

Recommended ⇑

Night Shift #18 – The Man Who Loved Flowers…

619i-4slsfl645695221..jpgWord count – 2,300

The Man Who Loved Flowers follows a smiling young man as he walks the streets of New York carrying a bunch of flowers, and it focuses primarily on the reactions of those around him as he passes by.

This is a simple tale of misinterpretation, and how things are not always as they seem on the surface. The story does take a darker turn in the final third – putting this into more familiar King territory – but to say anything further would be to spoil it for those who have not read it.

Because The Man Who Loved Flowers is fairly brief, King doesn’t have the time to dilute it with his usual shenanigans – a trait he is unfortunately guilty of on many occasions – and this is one of the best things on offer in this collection.

Recommended ⇑

Night Shift #17 – The Last Rung on the Ladder…

619i-4slsfl645695221..jpgWord count – 4,800

This is Stephen King doing what he does best – urban horror, without any supernatural or demonic bent. There are no monsters under the bed, and nothing in the closet. This is just… stuff that can happen.

It’s a simple story about the relationship between a brother and a sister, how it ebbs and flows over the course of their lives, and about one particular incident that has defined them. It’s emotional and engaging in its simplicity.

King is prone to both falling down and rambling when he tries to wrap up a story, but this is impactful and stops before he finds something else less meaningful to say. The Last Rung on the Ladder is just damn good storytelling, and without a doubt, the first great story in the collection.

Recommended ⇑

Night Shift #16 – Children of the Corn…

619i-4slsfl645695221..jpgWord count – 11,100

Children of the Corn has spawned about a thousand movies, which is strange considering the source material is this short story, which seems to run out of steam before the end.

A couple find themselves in one of those rural towns that King is so fond of writing about, only to discover that all the adults have been killed and the community is being run by a bunch of teenagers who worship a corn-God known as He Who Walks Behind the Rows.

It’s difficult to put Children of the Corn amongst the top tier of stories, because this deep into the anthology there have been several that are much better. This is too long and suffers from the pay-off not being worthy of the build-up. I can recommend it, but only just.

Recommended ⇑

Eagles, Chapter VI – The Long Run (1979)

Members: Don Felder, Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Timothy B Schmit, Joe Walsh

Timothy B Schmit joined the Eagles and original member Randy Meisner left before this album came out, so this felt even further removed from the original template of the band than Hotel California had been.

The Eagles had released their first five albums in five years. The Long Run was a troubled release and took three years to build, a truth that was fuelled by drug use and growing animosity between members. This was their last collection of new material until 1994.

The Long Run (Don Henley / Glenn Frey)
Lead – Henley
Overplayed and probably a little overrated, this is still a fine track, although Henley is resting on his vocal laurels here. 8
I Can’t Tell You Why (Don Henley / Glenn Frey / Timothy B Schmit)
Lead – Schmit
This is the debut lead vocal on his first album with the Eagles, and it instantly gives him the best win-loss record in the band. A great soulful song. 10
In the City (Joe Walsh / Barry de Vorzon)
Lead – Walsh
A decent Joe Walsh track that is probably better known as the song that plays through the end-credits of cult seventies movie, The Warriors. 8
The Disco Strangler (Don Henley / Glenn Frey / Don Felder)
Lead – Henley
This is a fantastic tongue-in-cheek diversion into the disco sound of the late seventies, but with a decidedly dark sting in the tail. Nobody else in the band could have sung this. 10
King of Hollywood (Don Henley / Glenn Frey)
Lead – Frey & Henley
One of my favourite Eagles tracks – a sombre tune about Hollywood starlets and the dark side of the business – that works even better because of the split vocal duties. It is accompanied by some great, evocative guitar work. 10
Heartache Tonight (Don Henley / Glenn Frey / Bob Seger / JD Souther)
Lead – Frey
This is a great party track and a standout moment from Frey that was destined to be an encore. It’s a nice light touch in amongst a lot of the heavier stuff that surrounds it. 8
Those Shoes (Don Henley / Glenn Frey / Don Felder)
Lead – Henley
Another very good dark turn on this album about the predatory nature of the singles scene. You have to love the use of the dual talkbox as well. 9
Teenage Jail (Don Henley / Glenn Frey / JD Souther)
Lead – Henley & Frey
Glenn Frey puts on the most sinister voice he can muster and dives into this obscure lyric. This track doesn’t get a whole lot of love, but I think it’s a good song on a great album. 8
The Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks (Don Henley / Glenn Frey)
Lead – Henley
With a title that probably wouldn’t fly in today’s more sensitive times, this is a lot less offensive than you may think. This is a party track, complete with piped in crowd noises, so it’s hard not to smile when it’s on. 8
The Sad Cafe (Don Henley / Glenn Frey / Joe Walsh / JD Souther)
Lead – Henley
This feels like the band tried to replicate the mood of the final track of Hotel California… except this is not in that song’s league. A competent ballad to bookend the album. 7

Overall: 86%
The Long Run is a much underated album. It’s not discussed as often as the band’s earlier releases, and certainly not as much as Hotel California, but this follow-up is almost as good, and the second best thing they have ever done.

Night Shift #15 – I Know What You Need…

Word count – 8,200 words

For the most part, I Know What You Need plays like a very creepy stalker story – the kind of thing that is a lot more prevalent now than it was when this was written in the early 1970s.

This mostly works, but the tale loses a little of its flavour for me in the final act, when King decides to throw some pseudo-voodoo in there to make sense of the narrative. I get it, but it just feels like he put a bow on the story when there really was no need.

I would have preferred that the story dissolved without a firm resolution, but it’s a minor quibble in an otherwise very good short piece that sits along with the best in the anthology thus far.

Recommended

Night Shift #14 – Quitters Inc…

619i-4slsfl645695221..jpgWord count – 6,600 words

Quitters Inc tells the familiar tale of one man’s desire to stop smoking, and the lengths he goes to in order to do just that. On the recommendation of a friend he speaks to a very shady man who promises he can ensure he never smokes again, although his methods are a little… questionable, to say the least.

There is a campy quality here which is a little reminiscent in execution to The Ledge, from earlier in the anthology, which is certainly not a bad thing, although this has not been afforded quite the same level of skill and care.

Quitters Inc has a good story at its core, and although it is not as polished as some of the other entries in Night Shift there is enough good stuff in here to be counted as one of the better entries in the collection.

Recommended ⇑

Night Shift #13 – The Lawnmower Man…

619i-4slsfl645695221..jpg

Word count – 3,400

The Lawnmower Man tells the simple tale of Harold in his quest (and subsequent hiring) of someone to cut his grass. That’s it. It doesn’t get much more mundane than that, does it?

It’s not a classic set-up for a horror story, but it’s one that will stick with you long after you read it, for reasons that become clear quite quickly, as Harold’s new employee has a decidely strange way of performing his job.

The Lawnmower Man is a very odd tale, but a perversely enjoyable one. It’s a horror story in the very unfiltered way that King presented in the early part of his career. Gory, gruesome, and totally bonkers, this is the author before his journey through life sanitised him and his words.

Recommended ⇑

Potted Film Review: Friday the 13th (1980)…

Starring: Adrienne King, Betsy Palmer, Kevin Bacon

In the slasher horror genre, the Friday the 13th series is about as seminal as it gets, and many of those that you can see today owe a debt to the ninety minutes on display here.

There are countless better horror movies out there – ones that have more creative kills; ones that are more professionally made; ones with a tighter script and finer acting – but this little gem is worth seeing just for the history.

There’s not too much that’s good here, and nothing I would say that’s great, but if you’re interested in the genre at all this movie is required reading.

Recommended (just)

Every Picture Tells a Story…

rod_stewart_3arena_2019_large_1300_630_80auto_s_c1_5

On the weekend The Fianceé© and I went to see Rod Stewart in concert at the new P&J Live Arena here in Aberdeen… Yeah, I know, it’s a terrible name. Fortunately it’s a fantastic venue worthy of the legend himself. We were about ten rows back from the stage, dead centre, so we had great seats.

The only problem was the two women to my left who decided that this concert was the perfect opportunity for them to catch up on their gossip. The girl that was rubbing up against me simply would not stop talking, and in those brief intervals when she wasn’t talking she was checking her Facebook or posting updates. What could you possibly have to say? You are at a Rod Stewart concert and you have presumably paid a lot of money to be sitting next to me, and you don’t even seem to realise he is on the stage performing. For you, you ungrateful cow. And even if for some odd reason you don’t want to be here, those people around you likely do, so if you could just shut the fuck up until Baby Jane finishes, that would be grand.

Suffice to say the guy in front of her turned around and told her to be quiet, and to be fair she zipped it… for about three minutes, before she found the courage to start chatting again. Eventually even her friend got fed up of her and left her on her own, which was all well and good except she then thought she would start talking to me.

There was also a fight that broke out in the row behind us, between two pensioners, for reasons unbeknownst to me. One of the guys was ejected from the arena while the other one stayed in his seat looking smug. While neither of them looked as impressive at their age as Rod does at 74, it’s time for the old rocker to hang up the microphone.

Stewart is an icon – a bona fide legend – and although songs like Tonight’s the Night, Sailing, Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?, and (especially) Maggie May, still sound great in a vacuum, and he can still pull it out when he really needs it, the vocals really aren’t there for the most part. A lot of his performance is trading on goodwill and reputation.

It’s fantastic to have seen him again, but I would be happy if he ended his touring days now and lived out the rest of his time quietly, with his family. He has nothing left to prove.