Music

The Damage Manual: self-titled

="Description" CONTENT="The Damage Manual, The Damage Manual (Invisible), review by Wilson Neate

The Damage Manual

The Damage Manual

US Release Date: 2000-09-05
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If you look up "supergroup" in your imaginary dictionary of rock terms, you'll probably arrive at the same definition as I did: "An ensemble of has-beens given to narcissistic -- often stadium friendly -- displays of inconsequential and anachronistic 'musicianship,' generally performed with the aid of walking frames, Rogaine and Viagra."

Bearing that in mind, can we expect anything seriously worthwhile and relevant from the Damage Manual, a band comprising PiL alumni Jah Wobble and Martin Atkins, Killing Joke's Geordie Walker and ex-Ministry/Revolting Cocks frontman Chris Connelly?

Of course we can. The Damage Manual are not your common or garden geezers. When Guardian journalist Dave Simpson recently observed that Wobble et al. were "men who look like they've spent several years in institutions," he had in mind not old people's homes but, rather, correctional or psychiatric facilities. Apparently, this album was to have been called Music To Be Murdered By and, in keeping with the spirit of that discarded title, from start to finish it's a tour de force of total sonic disturbance that makes for brilliantly uneasy listening.

And about time too. The Damage Manual are making music dangerous again and showing up a current crop of Brit bands -- who are getting young enough to be their offspring -- as (mostly) a bunch of bed-wetters and bores.

While they boast some seriously heavyweight musical pedigrees, the Damage Manual strike a compelling balance between their own tried and tested signatures (Wobble's earth-moving bass, Atkins' punishing drums, Geordie's grinding guitar) and a new synthesis of all the above, supplemented, of course, with Connelly's vocals that alternate between the maniacally urgent and the quietly melodic and threatening. On top of that, you can factor in a Pandora's box of scratches, samples and synths as well as the mixing skills of Bill Laswell and the Orb.

From the crashing menace of the opening track ("King Mob") onward, this album is a beautiful monster. For the most part, it hinges on a careful building and working through of textures and rhythms, albeit never in a pedestrian or predictable fashion. The insistent bass and relentless beat of "Denial" and the sheer drive of "Broadcasting," with its frenzied rush of drums and percussion -- that eventually let the bass and guitar in on the act -- are textbook exercises in a stand-off between craft and chaos. On the other hand, there are more rock-based, explosive tracks like "The Peepshow Ghosts" and the standout "Sunset Gun," that center on Geordie's abrasive, weaving guitar patterns and Atkins' Richter-scale drumming.

Britain's first post-punk, post-industrial, post-millennial supergroup restores some much needed credibility to a category that, since Cream, has been a polite way of saying "a load of boring old bollocks." This eponymous album shows that musicianship is not necessarily a dirty word, especially when it's shot through with such attitude and energy.

From drunken masters to rumbles in the Bronx, Jackie Chan's career is chock full of goofs and kicks. These ten films capture what makes Chan so magnetic.

Jackie Chan got his first film role way back in 1976, when a rival producer hired him for his obvious action prowess. Now, nearly 40 years later, he is more than a household name. He's a brand, a signature star with an equally recognizable onscreen persona. For many, he was their introduction into the world of Hong Kong cinema. For others, he's the goofy guy speaking broken English to Chris Tucker in the Rush Hour films.

From his grasp of physical comedy to his fearlessness in the face of certain death (until recently, Chan performed all of his own stunts) he's a one of a kind talent whose taken his abilities in directions both reasonable (charity work, political reform) and ridiculous (have your heard about his singing career?).

Now, Chan is back, bringing the latest installment in the long running Police Story franchise to Western shores (subtitled Lockdown, it's been around since 2013), and with it, a reminder of his multifaceted abilities. He's not just an actor. He's also a stunt coordinator and choreographer, a writer, a director, and most importantly, a ceaseless supporter of his country's cinema. With nearly four decades under his (black) belt, it's time to consider Chan's creative cannon. Below you will find our choices for the ten best pictures Jackie Chan's career, everything from the crazy to the classic. While he stuck to formula most of the time, no one made redundancy seem like original spectacle better than he.

Let's start with an oldie but goodie:

10. Operation Condor (Armour of God 2)

Two years after the final pre-Crystal Skull installment of the Indiana Jones films arrived in theaters, Chan was jumping on the adventurer/explorer bandwagon with this wonderful piece of movie mimicry. At the time, it was one of the most expensive Hong Kong movies ever made ($115 million, which translates to about $15 million American). Taking the character of Asian Hawk and turning him into more of a comedic figure would be the way in which Chan expanded his global reach, realizing that humor could help bring people to his otherwise over the top and carefully choreographed fight films -- and it's obviously worked.

9. Wheels on Meals

They are like the Three Stooges of Hong Kong action comedies, a combination so successful that it's amazing they never caught on around the world. Chan, along with director/writer/fight coordinator/actor Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, all met at the Peking Opera, where they studied martial arts and acrobatics. They then began making movies, including this hilarious romp involving a food truck, a mysterious woman, and lots of physical shtick. While some prefer their other collaborations (Project A, Lucky Stars), this is their most unabashedly silly and fun. Hung remains one of the most underrated directors in all of the genre.

8. Mr. Nice Guy
Sammo Hung is behind the lens again, this time dealing with Chan's genial chef and a missing mob tape. Basically, an investigative journalist films something she shouldn't, the footage gets mixed up with some of our heroes, and a collection of clever cat and mouse chases ensue. Perhaps one of the best sequences in all of Chan's career occurs in a mall, when a bunch of bad guys come calling to interrupt a cooking demonstration. Most fans have never seen the original film. When New Line picked it up for distribution, it made several editorial and creative cuts. A Japanese release contains the only unaltered version of the effort.

7. Who Am I?

Amnesia. An easy comedic concept, right? Well, leave it to our lead and collaborator Benny Chan (no relation) to take this idea and go crazy with it. The title refers to Chan's post-trauma illness, as well as the name given to him by natives who come across his confused persona. Soon, everyone is referring to our hero by the oddball moniker while major league action set pieces fly by. While Chan is clearly capable of dealing with the demands of physical comedy and slapstick, this is one of the rare occasions when the laughs come from character, not just chaos.

6. Rumble in the Bronx

For many, this was the movie that broke Chan into the US mainstream. Sure, before then, he was a favorite of film fans with access to a video store stocking his foreign titles, but this is the effort that got the attention of Joe and Jane Six Pack. Naturally, as they did with almost all his films, New Line reconfigured it for a domestic audience, and found itself with a huge hit on its hands. Chan purists prefer the original cut, including the cast voices sans dubbing. It was thanks to Rumble that Chan would go on to have a lengthy run in Tinseltown, including those annoying Rush Hour films.

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