Sunday, 18 September 2016

Now On Netflix:"Sample This".

If you're a hip-hop fan, chances are the percussion break from "Apache" will be something that you've heard used a million different ways. Another part of the song was used by the Sugar Hill Gang for their hit single "Jump On It", which was forever immortalised in "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air". What this documentary aims to do is show you the nameless musicians behind the now famous track that's been sampled to death. 

Well, technically it aims to show you the origins of the band that recorded the specific version of the song. The Shadows, who wrote the original version of the track, get only a brief mention. Instead, the focus of the film in the Incredible Bongo Band. A bunch of session musicians who were assembled by movie/music producer Michael Viner. He was a former employee of Robert Kennedy who, after the assassination, decided to get into the music game despite not being able to play an instrument himself. He assembled The Incredible Bongo Band to soundtrack a film he was producing and the band recorded an album of covers, including the aforementioned "Apache". 

The band would be lost to the annals of music history if not for the burgeoning hip-hop scene in New York in the late seventies. Guys like DJ Kool Herc were hosting block parties and trying to find music that people would never have heard, but would get them up to dance. "Apache" was one of those records and the section of the record that Herc sampled became the trademark sound of the era and has since become a cornerstone for many hip-hop classics. 

What I've given here is merely a brief synopsis. The backstories of the band members of The Incredible Bongo Band and their ambitious producer in the form of Michael Viner is what makes up the real meat of the piece. It's ably narrated by Gene Simmons, and features some talking heads in the form of MCs and DJs who were on the ground floor when the movement was starting, and they talk about the influence of the song on their culture. There are some fascinating stories along the way, including a notable run-in with Charles Manson, and the film should give the viewer a new found appreciation for session musicians whose names only ever become footnotes.

The film is not without its flaws, though. While the focus was always going to be on the musicians and the producer, we get no real insight into what they actually thought of the influence that the song had on the hip-hop movement as a whole. Even more so, at least one member of The Shadows certainly deserved to have some kind of input into the film. These are just minor quibbles as the film goes by very quickly, clocking in at a lean 90-ish minutes and all the interviewees are fascinating subjects who could each warrant a film of their own. Worth a watch, especially if you're a music fan.

Small Screen Saver Score: 3.5/5

"Sample This" is now available to stream on Netflix UK and Ireland. 

*Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team and for this I avail of complimentary Netflix subscription. However, all opinions are my own. Information about films available on Netflix is correct at time of publishing.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

WWE: NXT Takeover Brooklyn.

The hype train was at full speed heading into this show considering the success of last years show and the success of the last time NXT was on the road when they stopped in Dallas last April. Combine that with the anticipation of the main event, and you had a show that was nigh on unmissable. But how did it stack up? Here, for the last time for the foreseeable future, is my NXT recap.

1. No Way Jose vs Austin Aries.

Jose's entrance was super over, but once the bell rang Aries was the hero to this crowd. There were dueling chants as the two went back and forth, and Aries got the best match from Jose that we've seen so far. It didn't stop him from taking his first loss on NXT TV at the hands of Aries, but he can bounce back from a loss due to the nature of his gimmick. Aries got the win after Jose tapped out. Aries attacked Jose after the bell before Hideo Itami made the save, and in the biggest reaction of the weekend, hit Aries with the GTS and followed this up by telling the crowd "that is MY move!". A great tease for a potentially great match in future.

2. Ember Moon vs Billie Kay.

After a few weeks of hype videos, we got the debut of Ember Moon. She mostly impressed but with Billie Kay in the ring, the size difference made some of their more ambitious spots a bit more difficult. The crowd tried to give them the benefit of the doubt and did pop for Ember's finish where she dives off the second rope and catches Kay with a stunner.

3. Bobby Roode vs Andrade Almas.

These two men put together a decent match with Almas looking the best that he has since his debut, and Roode worked his trademark style and made Almas look like a million bucks. Almas hit some incredible looking dives to Roode, but in the end, it was Roode to pick up the win with a pump handle slam that he has christened the "Glorious Bomb". Speaking of glorious, Roode's entrance was worth the price of admission alone. There's no way this guy can stay a heel with this theme music.

4. The Revival (c) vs Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa. NXT Tag Title Match.

We're getting into the business end of the card in the first of three title matches, and probably the best of the night. If you compiled the five best WWE tag matches of the year, The Revival would feature in all five. They're so good in the ring, and work an awesome, old school, pretty safe style, but it garners all the right amounts of crowd heat. They had an absolute thriller with the equally great pairing of Gargano and Ciampa who have been the MVPs of the WWE Network over the last month between their work on NXT and the Cruiserweight Classic. I can't even begin to describe all the spots in this match, but it's so, so worth your time to check out. The Revival picked up the win after Scott Dawson forces an injured Gargano to tap out with an inverted figure four leg lock.

5. Bayley vs Asuka (c). NXT Women's Championship.

An even better match than their Dallas encounter, a determined Bayley gave as good as she got against Asuka where the two women traded fierce strikes as well as some hard-hitting submission holds. Bayley showed some great fire here but ultimately fell to the Empress of Tomorrow who, after being unable to put Bayley away with the Asuka lock, finished the contest with a wicked knockout shot which kept Bayley down for the three count, and Asuka retains. A fitting send off for one of the NXT cornerstones.

6. Shinsuke Nakamura vs Samoa Joe (c). NXT Championship.

Finally, we have the first meeting of arguably two of the hardest hitting wrestlers of the modern era. Nakamura was played to the ring by a violinist which made the whole thing even more special. As with Asuka and Bayley, these two men hit each other with everything they had and then some. There were some genuine "oh my god" moments, particularly Nakamura dropping Joe right on his neck with a German suplex, and Nakamura running into a sick knee to the face from Joe. Nakamura kicked out of a Muscle Buster and nailed Joe with knee, to keep him down for a two count. Shinsuke then hit the Kinshasa to pick up the win and become the new NXT champion, only four months after making his debut. 

Here endeth my regular NXT recaps. I'll still dip in and out occasionally, but the weekly posts will be a thing of the past. Thanks to everyone who read, retweeted, commented, and supported me in the six months. I had a good run! Cheers folks. 

Thursday, 18 August 2016

WWE: NXT 349.

No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn. If you're an insomniac, this song title could apply to you as it pertains to the upcoming NXT Takeover special with takes place on Saturday. But there's one last week of TV to get through first. What we got served as an exhibition/preview show of sorts, but they did make the effort to introduce some new characters to the NXT Women's Division. 

1. Hideo Itami vs Mustafa Ali.

The Itami rebuild continues with this win over CWC competitor Mustafa Ali. Ali got in a bit of offense, nothing to the level he got during his sole CWC match, but he put up a good show none the less. Itami picked up the victory with the running knee. I suspect he'll have a few more of these until he's injected into the title picture and possibly a heel turn to boot. Right now, his character is just there.

2. Carmella, Liv Morgan, and Nikki Glencross v Alexa Bliss, Mandy Rose, and Nadia Beranato.

Three debutantes to the NXT roster and they've come at the right time. All the ladies showed some good fire, but one issue I found was that it highlighted how similar Liv Morgan's and Carmella's characters are. Nadia Beranato was the one who impressed me most with her MMA inspired look and move set. The heels worked over Morgan for a while before she made the hot tag to Carmella who finished the match by causing Mandy Rose to tap to the Code of Silence.

3. Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura interview.

Byron Saxton hosted this segment all the while surrounded by a bunch of burly security guards. Joe was super intense here, and Nakamura played his usual calm, collected self. This wound Joe up to no end and he ended up snapping and jumped out of his chair but was restrained by the security guards before he got near Nakamura.

In Conclusion:

Most of the episode was hype videos for Takeover which is fine by me. There was one really good video where some of the NXT competitors explained the importance of wrestling in New York. No Way Jose explained that while he is a "fiesta" guy, once the bell rings it'll be all business. This is why I feel his take on the "dancing wrestler" will be more successful than Fandango for example. Overall, the card is looking really good, and the fact that it's on a Saturday night is great for me because I don't work Sundays, so I can stay up stupidly late to watch it!