Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Staring at the Sun

Ciáran McFeely, aka Simple Kid, is from Ireland; you know, that land mass 70 miles west of Holyhead. The island we're just about to throw under the bus. Sorry, I digress. Anyway, McFeely is a Cork lad and his lo-fi musical stylings remind me very much of Beck (a resident of Los Angeles, roughly 5,000 miles west of Cork) and, let's face it, that's no bad thing.

I mention this for the simple reason that despite being old enough to know better I still make playlists; I'm picking James and Janneke up from the station on Saturday and I thought I'd put a few tunes in the car. It's gonna be 27 degrees this weekend, so I can't think of anything more apt.

Simple Kid - Staring at the Sun (2003)

Sunday, 18 August 2019

No One Knows Nothing Anymore

Thursday night's Open Mic was very relaxed; a pre-season friendly for next Sunday, if you like, with just the right amount of beards in the room.
I've got my setlist pretty much worked out: 10 songs - with a bit of chit-chat in between - probably 40 minutes all in all. Perfect; never outstay your welcome.
I say all worked out; I've just decided to drop this one in: Billy Bragg's 'No one Knows Nothing' from his 2013 Tooth and Nail album. Its themes really resonate and, I think, sum up where we're all at in this crazy fucked up maelstrom we call 2019. Just got to work out where in the running order to put it.

Billy Bragg - No One Know Nothing (2013) - with pedal steel


Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Skegness Ashtray

Bus* incoming!
There's not many better feelings than putting on a jacket you've not worn in a while and finding a tenner in one of the pockets. Though I do have one: discovering a new Beatles photograph I've not seen before. Here's one such image was made public for the first time only a few days ago. It's from the Abbey Road photoshoot which, unless you've just been beamed up from another planet (or, indeed, the set of 'Yesterday') is probably the most iconic album sleeve ever - certainly the most recreated and copied. Just in case you don't know what the VW Beetle was doing there, or who the guy next to the police van was, you could do a lot worse than taking a look at the most exhaustive back story about that famous day in August 1969 when photographer Ian Macmillan took his memorable snaps.

Back to this new photograph. It was taken by Linda McCartney, who must have been standing practically next to Macmillan as he looked down from atop his stepladders. Apparently no photo exists of either Macmillan from his unique vantage point or, indeed, the police officer who was on hand to stop the traffic whilst the Fabs traversed the crossing. Imagine if such an image was to turn up; an elderly St. John's Wood resident passes and during a house clearance they stumble upon a shoebox with a load of Kodak slides in it. It would surely make the Holy Grail look like a Skegness ashtray.

* I wonder who was driving that bus?

Monday, 12 August 2019

That's the way to do it

In 1974 Bob Dylan was probably at the peak of his powers. From obscure Greenwich Village folk troubadour to global icon, all within 10 years, the man was on fire.
For his 15th studio album he went into the studio in the September with 10 songs and, two days later, he and the band had recorded the lot. Job done. WOAAH! Not so quick Mr. Zimmerman. Can you go back and tidy a few of them up? I'm sure you've got a better take in you.
So between Christmas and New Year he went back and re-recorded five of them. Tangled Up in Blue being one of them. Four weeks later, in January 1975, it and the rest of the album - Blood on the Tracks - was in record stores flying off the shelves. In the words of Mr. Punch: 'That's the way to do it."

Bob Dylan - Tangled Up in Blue (1975)

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

How are you spelling that?

In what may prove to be a very short lived series, I'm looking at bands who changed the spelling of their name; not their name (that'd be like shooting fish in a barrel), but the spelling of same.

First up we have a band from London who, in the early 80s, began to get quite a following in the US - MTV and all that. The only snag being, the Americans couldn't pronounce their bloody name. They were known at that time as Huang Chung. It means yellow bell in Chinese 黃鐘 but, much to the band's chagrin, FM radio jocks were calling them Hung Chung.

In the end their record label, Geffen, made the change for them and, overnight, they became all phonetically correct - Wang Chung. As in, everybody Wang Chung tonight. I know, makes no sense at all. But then it was a time when folks would rather jack, than Fleetwood Mac. Go figure.

Wang Chung, would you believe, are still trading the boards. Earlier this year they joined forces with the Prague Philharmonic and gave a few of their old hits an orchestral shot in the arm. This was always one of my Walkman faves.

Wang Chung - Dance Hall Days (2019)

Monday, 5 August 2019

Crying Out

My knowledge of Wigan is patchy, sparse even; the Northern Soul scene in the mid-seventies (Wigan Casino, Wigan Pier), rugby league and, er, that's it really.
However, I've just stumbled upon a bunch of young lads from there calling themselves the Lathums. Jangly guitars and Smiths influences abound, but that's not a bad thing, right? 

Lets put it this way, I'm going to blag a copy of their album and see if I can't pull in one of their gigs - they look like they're gaining a bit of traction, so it'd be nice to see them in an intimate venue before they get too big for their boots.

The Lathums - Crying Out (2019)

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Just Who is the 5 O'Clock Hero?

Once again I'm looking forward to combining two of my favourite pastimes - music and beer: I've been added to the bill at Nottingham's Bar 71 on Sunday 25 August. It's a Bank Holiday, so the atmosphere should be quite special. 

Bar 71 is a thriving community micro-pub a mile or so from the city centre (and conveniently a mere hop, skip & a jump from where I live). The incomparable Paul Carbuncle is compering the event and headlining too.

I think I'm on at 5pm. Promises to be a great day.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

I know how she feels

It's not going so great, is it? Johnson's only been in charge five minutes and already the Irish (both lots), the Scots and the Welsh are threatening to dissolve the Union. So much for those promised sunlit uplands. Stop the world I want to get off.

It will only be when the country is brought to its very knees and begs to come back into the EU fold that the leavers will finally wake up to the fact that, actually, what we have now is not so bad. It's workable. We trade with Europe; we trade with the rest of the world. And they trade with us. Frictionlessly. Everybody wins.

But come October 31st it's gonna be a cold wind that blows across the Channel and into the dystopian badlands of a once great Britain. Our just in time procurement chain will last seven days before essential supplies run out. Queues at the forecourt and fighting on the streets. And that's just for starters. It'll be like an episode of Survivors - that post apocalyptic drama from the 70s, only for real.

Or will it? All I know is, I've got a bad feeling about this. And it's not going away.

Dodgy - U.K.R.I.P. (1996)

Sunday, 28 July 2019


They're toilet chains, since you ask
We're only a fortnight away from our next Sunday Vinyl Session - our fifth, can you believe? And it's a yacht rock classic - Fleetwood Mac's Rumours.

When the Mac were writing and recording it their personal relationships were all over the place (everyone in the band, seemingly, was sleeping with each other), their level of drug taking was off the scale (cocaine really became 'a thing' in California in 1976) and emotions were close to breaking point. A perfect storm. Yet out of this hedonism - released in in February 1977 - came 11 perfectly formed songs which have formed the backbone of every Fleetwood Mac gig in the last 40 odd years. It cemented their career and meant that Stevie Nicks never had to wait on tables again.

Our friend Pippa Ward is presenting the afternoon - she'll tell the back story behind the album before playing it in full. And in the interval (twixt Side 1 & 2) Pippa will be singing some acoustic Mac songs live. I've got a couple lined up too. So, if you find yourself in Nottingham on Sunday 11th August, we'd love to see you.

Fleetwood Mac - Go Your Own Way (1977)

Friday, 26 July 2019

And the Sun was a demon

I think it's safe to say that yesterday was a little on the warm side. James came up with Janneke to see his poorly mother; convalescing in temperatures akin to Hades is no fun, but seeing the Number One Son and his bride was a tonic far surpassing that of any of the morphine based knockout drugs Jenny was prescribed when she left the hospital last Saturday.

I took this photo in my car yesterday afternoon just after 4.30pm. 40 degrees. I tell you what, the Sun didn't feel like it was 93 million miles away. I'm sure it slipped anchor at lunchtime while nobody was looking.

Below is my favourite Sun TV/film clip, bar none. It's from Thunderbirds and is the one where Alan Tracy is stuck on the bridge with his grandma in temperatures similar to those we were experiencing in the East Midlands.

If you fast forward to 2:17 you'll see real beads of perspiration running down Alan's wooden puppet head. That was me yesterday.

Monday, 22 July 2019

After the Savoy Truffle

It's common knowledge that George Harrison cribbed the lyrics from a Good News chocolate box he saw round at Eric Clapton's gaff one day. Clapton was still doing a lot of heroin at the time and, coming down, allegedly, he'd regularly eat an entire box of chocolates in one sitting. Even the Savoy Truffle.

Probably less well documented is how much of an influence on Harrison an EP put out by Lulu two years before the White Album was. The title track, Chocolate Ice (written by Mike Leander - Gary Glitter's scribe), bears more than a passing resemblance to Harrison's effort. Judge for yourself.

Lulu - Chocolate Ice (1966)

Instead of going with the Fabs, I've decided to play you the Analogues' version. The Analogues play Beatles tunes live. Nothing new there, I hear you say. True, but this bunch of Dutch musicians have taken the reproduction of Beatles music to a whole new level. Recreating every note of an alabum - in sequence - with period instruments (often with strings and horns) and with fastidious attention to detail, they really are the business. When they play Maxwell's Silver Hammer, for instance, they even bring an anvil up on stage. I particularly like the songs that not only the Beatles didn't play live (i.e. everything after '66), but also the ones Macca can't be arsed with when he tours; check out Your Mother Should Know from the Magical Mystery Tour EP. You'll be amazed. Truly amazed.

The Analogues - Savoy Truffle 

For further listening, hear what David Hepworth and Mark Ellen think about them.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

The Sea of Tranquility

Oh I do like to be beside the Sea
of Tranquility
Where Neil and Buzz in ’69
took a giant leap for mankind
and found craters and rocks beneath their feet
Not cheese. Or aliens to greet.
So they planted a flag and left behind
a planet so utterly amazing, beautiful, desolate, barren and beguiling that after fifty years we're desperate to revisit, and find…
The Sea of Tranquility.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Take that to the bank

I have absolutely no comprehension how it must feel to be in a place where your only source of nourishment is through your local food bank; to reach a point where the rug has been pulled from beneath you, your pride is through the floor and your stomach is painfully empty. Yet in the UK thousands of adults AND CHILDREN most certainly do. What a shameful country we live in right now. And it's only getting worse.

Paul Carbuncle - Food Banks and Ferraris (2017)