Manu’s Top 8 Obsessions Of 2014


Tis the season of the end of year list. Top 10 straight to box set DVDs. Top 1000 digital deep house labels. Etc. Once again we've decided to go for Top 8 Whatevers. The Top 8 things of the year – be them bacon sandwiches; the top 8 times you stubbed your toe against the f*cking boxes full of useless sh*t your girlfriend insists on leaving in the hallway; and so on and so forth (sorry that useless s*it one is a bit harsh). Over the next few weeks until the new year, we'll be publishing the Top 8s of our various excellent R$N scribes.

Let's being with Manu's ocho exciters… 

"So, it’s Top 8 time and these are my obsessions from this year – basically just a few things I wanted to rant about. The vague pattern is odd numbers good, even numbers bad and there’s only a few tunes in there as to be frank I think the others have got that covered. To be honest, it was this or ‘Manu’s Top 8 Disco Ailments’, which I would have done if I didn’t want to be the guy who went on about his bad foot for 1000 words. The thing is it’s a problem with the tendon… (*drones on, loses the will to live shortly before you do)"

1. ‘Not This Time’ – The 2 Bears 

A totally irresistible slice of groove-based pop, with perfectly brittle-yet-ballsy vocals from Raf Rundell; who sounds like he’s one cigarette and slug of brandy away from crying, but in a very melodic way.

2. ‘Under The Skin’ – a film

So bad that forcing people to sit through it should be seen as an act of violence. Calling it a criticism of the patriarchy is like saying Teresa May’s career is an achievement for feminism. The fact that the lead character (played well by Scarlett Johansson, who does her best with shoddy tools) cannot speak says it all about the inarticulacy at the rotten core of this vapid tale.

3. ‘Gamorra’ – a shockingly violent, but brilliantly compelling (and believably nasty) take of the Naples mob, the Camorra 

Ciro and the Savastano Clan are brutish, incredibly racist and thoroughly untrustworthy, all making the show hard to predict, though thoroughly watchable. Ciro starts out as someone understandably angry with the needless death of his mentor and father-figure, Atillo, but later seems to be causing carnage just to see if he can end up on top. His previous boss, Pietro Savastano, the head of the Clan (as the Mafia have ‘families’ the Camorra have Clans)) is also a wonderfully inscrutable psychopath, who could be singing in the shower one minute, or killing an old friend with an ornament the next. I’m glad he’s out of the clink for next season.  

4. ‘Sons of Anarchy’ – a shockingly violent waste of what was once a soulful show about the outlaw MC lifestyle

As it careers out-of-control towards what one can only assume is a bloody finale, having long ago abandoned any real attempt to flesh out it’s more interesting characters (which included a Jewish biker whose father was a mob accountant and a Scottish ex-Army, Ex-IRA biker), in favour of more gratuitous violence and a body-count so high that it would make Arnold Schwarzenegger circa 1985 blush.

5. ‘Deadwood City’ – the Juju & Jordash single

The whole of their recent ‘Clean-Cut’ album is excellent, with moments of future jazz meeting the usual live analogue house excellence from the duo, but this is some proper ‘lose your shit then realise you’re sat at your desk at work and people are looking at you’ gear.

6. Tonka – he’s been a law unto himself

For far too long, to be honest. He’s out of control with his mint-choc-chip flavoured antics and he’s rightly been censored by these pages, but he’s still has the balls to print his version of the Aristocrats joke in his column, which he put into a dance music context and didn’t even add an explanatory link, so only about five people got the joke. Tonka’s like the Alf Garnett of dance music; even if he is a filthy swine and once compared me to the actor Arsher Ali, which doesn’t even work as I’ve shaved the beard off because it made me look ten years older than I am.      

7. Irvine Welsh

I finally read ‘Porno’ and ‘Skagboys’ (the ‘Transpotting’ sequel and prequel, respectively) and remembered that Welsh is a storyteller on a par with Dickens when it comes to characterisation rendering a sense of period and place; except his period involves sweet scag, cold pints of Tennants and (in ‘Porno’) a shit-ton of ching and his place is moody Edinburgh boozers, clubs and drug-dens. Sickboy and Begbie are two sides of a psychopathic coin, Spud is a loveable mess and Renton is a Machiavellian arsehole. Brilliant. 

8. ‘Boardwalk Empire’

Finally put out of its overblown misery when its lead character came to a totally made-up ending. The real Nucky went to jail, came out, sold booze legitimately and died in a nursing home in his 80s, but I’m glad their piss-poor made-up version was put of his misery when the show was. Steve Buscemi’s not a leading man; not when the lead character was a big, brazen S.O.B who was also charm personified and didn’t have to lower himself to carrying a gun. So they basically should have cast James Gandolfini but he didn’t want to do it so they were saddled with the wrong guy and were running in circles ever afterwards.

The real Nucky was a political boss who called the shots instead of firing them. Buscemi’s Nucky was an odd, scheming self-doubter who, to be frank, looked like he’d struggle to take a punch and was only vaguely plausible as he was pitted against a mish-mash of pantomime characters (Gyp Rossetti – so comically evil he assaults a priest in a church, something that would have been unthinkable to an Italian hood at that era), oddball violent superheroes (Richard Harrow, who had half a face, not much of a personality and a way with violence that was supposed to make him seem cool but really just made him a useful plot device) and characters created so the show wouldn’t seem really old-fashioned (Chalky White, talking the kind of trash that no black ward boss would have done to his white political master in that era, who then lost his balls as he allowed himself to die pointlessly for his former mistress, and Margaret, who seems to have been created to give the show a female lead, as the real Nucky went from showgirl to showgirl after his wife died, eventually marrying one before he went to jail in the 40s. He didn’t have any maniac Feds chasing him either, as it goes.) And I’m aware that no one bar a few crime history nuts like myself care how authentic it was, but my point is that by telling the real, more believable story the show might have been popular enough not to get cancelled.