Saturday, 20 January 2018

Does the light from the stars mean you're not born?

What I wouldn't give to write a line like 'Does the light from the stars mean you're not born?' And to then drop it into a song simply called 'Fuck It' is genius. Pure genius.

As you can imagine, the Lovely Eggs (who released Fuck It as a single in 2011) are very route one. And very clever. And very funny - yes, very very funny. Take a look at their mission statement (left): 'Some of our songs are 10 seconds long. Some are four minutes long. We don't care.'

They're touring soon, and for some of their dates I think they've got good friend of the Medds, Phill Jupitus, opening for them - Jenny is currently asking Phill which gigs they'll be; two birds, one stone and all that.





The Lovely Eggs - Fuck It

Thursday, 18 January 2018

For Your Babies


Everywhere I turn people are having babies, and making babies. And not just real people - Pip Archer has just driven (yet) another nail in her dad's coffin by announcing she's pregnant with Toby Fairbrother's seed. Good on her, that's what I say. The villain of the piece (Ambridge's bad boy and very own gin distiller) will probably pay maintenance by way of a few bottles of Scruff; mother's ruin indeed.

But back to people who really do exist, and not just in a fictitious village south by south-west of Birmingham. Our friends Liam & Suzie, Jim & Debs, and Ross & Jenny are all counting down to when they go from being two alone to three together. Our love and best wishes go out to all of them. And to Pip & Toby too, what the hell.

Simply Red - For Your Babies

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The faintest ink is better than the best memory

The older I get the more I write things down - I always carry a pad and pen; a pen, anyway (you can write more on a napkin or beer mat than you'd think). And I always have my camera with me wherever I go - so much better than a phone. I like to record things. Words and pictures. Hence this blog, I guess.


But do I fear for my memory? Am I getting more forgetful? Maybe I am, maybe I'm not. Let's put it this way, if I was running a bath I wouldn't trust myself to turn the taps on, leave the room and come back five minutes later. Is that normal? Who knows. My mind wanders, that much I do know.


When my dad came over for my birthday recently I had a nightmare flash forward, a vision of me in 25 years. James was here at the same time and he probably looked at me and thought the exact same thing. In fact I know he did - we spoke about it. And had a laugh about it. I do remember that.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Two sides to every story

I love unsung heroes. Especially in the music biz. Those foot soldiers who are quite prepared to sit in the wings while others, more worthy or (often) not, receive the plaudits. One such hero is Phil Wainman.

Without Phil Wainman there would be no Sweet. He's like a poor man's George Martin: he believed in the band from the time they played at his wedding in 1969 - back when they were a struggling little bubblegum band traipsing up and down the country in a beat up Commer van.

He took them under his wing, introduced them to (the go-to songwriters of the seventies) Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, secured them a recording contract deal with RCA and ended up producing *all* of their Top Ten singles.

In the film below he talks about his charges very touchingly ('the boys') in a wide ranging interview that spans all aspects of his illustrious career - Wainman was also at the helm of all the Bay City Rollers' anthems, twiddled the knobs on Next by Alex Harvey and even produced Generation X's debut album.

But his tour-de-force has got to be The Ballroom Blitz (fast forward to 37:48). Not surprisingly, as a drummer, for him it was all about the tub-thumping pagan skins. It was a song built around Mick Tucker's relentless syncopation; I know that, and you know that.


However, the way Andy Scott (the Sweet's axe man) tells it, it's all about the guitar. Drums, what drums? The rest of the band appear to have been airbrushed out of the story altogether. Guitarists, eh?


Name checks abound - Sandy Nelson, Chuck Berry, The Beatles - but, interestingly, neither he nor Wainman reveal the true identity of the inspiration behind their 1973 monster smash (#2 in this country, #5  in the US where it was released a couple of years later).

So where did Ballroom Blitz really come from? Take a listen to this. A Saturday night record, if ever I heard one.

Bobby Comstock - Let's Stomp (1963)

Monday, 8 January 2018

Challenging

"James, Brunel, reading Mathematics. And the NME"
When Tony James (pictured above left), formerly of Generation X and Sigue Sigue Sputnik introduced himself on last week's University Challenge (a Christmas themed version featuring distinguished alumni) he said that he read Mathematics in the seventies at Brunel University, and the NME. Judging by his woeful performance (and that of his fellow postgraduates it has to be said) I think they must all have been sagging off and reading the NME in the pub round the corner.

Generation X - reading the notes

It's quite fitting that they only scored 45 (they were absolutely mullered by Reading) - Tony James being no stranger to writing the odd hit single.

I also recently discovered this fabulous interview he did on Soho Radio a couple of years back with Gary Crowley (I'm sorry, Jeremy Paxman and Gary Crowley in the same piece). James talks candidly about punk, the Pistols, Malcolm McLaren, Bernie Rhodes, Mick Jones and, of course, his songwriting partner in crime Billy Idol.


(Fast Fwd to 50:10 for the interview)

And how refreshing to hear Wild Dub on the radio. Gen X, along with many other first generation punk and new wave bands, were massively influenced by reggae. For those of you who don't know it, it's on the B side to Wild Youth (and for some inexplicable reason turned up on the US pressing of their first album) and must be played at full tilt. Until your chest hurts. A heavy heavy dub, punk rockers.


Generation X - Wild Dub


Thursday, 4 January 2018

Triangulate

Carrington - home to Carrington Triangle Folk Club, would you believe?


New year, new Triangles. 2017 - that was the year that was, it's over let it be. 2018 - a new year of acoustic sessions at the Gladstone. And if you don't know Carrington, the Gladdy sits in the middle of the triangle - yes it really is a triangle (see the map above).

 Last night I renewed my subs and belted out a couple of Oldies but Goldies from my, ahem, back catalogue (I love writing this stuff - you'll just have to take my word that Leeds, 1972 and Dog With a Bone went down a storm). Come along one night if you don't believe me - details on the left). That's right, it'll be my caustic wit that will get me thru this year. It never did Toby Young any harm.

                      🔺🔺🔺

Sticking with triangles, the Black Crowes borrowed a classic seventies cover from Hustler magazine for their splendid Amorica album. I saw the band quite a few times around this period - 1994/95 - and they 🔺never🔺 disappointed. I particularly remember their stoner front man Chris Robinson's mission statement he sermonised one night: "To get to it, you've gotta go through it." Ain't that the truth?

The Black Crowes - Wiser Time


Glory beyond our reach

Monday, 1 January 2018

The January Man

The curtains are drawn, the kettle is on. The thin morning sun coming through the kitchen window is giving nothing away.
Tea is now poured. My mind is wandering. I remember coming in last night and falling asleep, though the timings are hazy. I know the old year was asked to empty its desk and leave the building - its replacement ushered in seconds later through a side door. There'll be plenty of time for introductions later; we'll have the measure of one other soon enough.

I have a few errands to run this morning so I shall face this new January day, this new shiny first of the first, with the collar on my brand new winter coat turned up and my gait will be purposeful. This is how I shall start the day, this is how I shall start 2018. Walk tall, walk straight - as the song says. And let the New Year blink first.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Don't go chasing Polar Bears

The bloke second from the right may well have a Knighthood, but that don't make him the Best

I may not always be the best person to come to for advice (blog posts passim), but I'll always give you a good soundbite; since moving back (just in time - a year later and I'd have ended up like Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) and finding myself in familiar surroundings and in the company of friends old and new, I can look back at the year just gone and say 'Yeah, I think we smashed it.'

As for resolutions to carry into 2018, anyone who knows me will testify that you've got more chance of kissing the Queen's tits than me coming up with any resolutions, let alone those of a New Year variety. That said, the Great Escape from Pickering and my relocation to Nottingham has been done to death (again, this blog is littered with reams of the stuff) so, after today, we won't speak of it again; the files have been shredded and the numbers deleted from my phone. Literally.

Right, I'm glad we've got that out of the way. So, in keeping with the unwritten Blogger's Code, here's 2017 all wound up and ready to play; no Top Tens of this, that and the other, just one list. Here you go:

Best Album: Pugwash - Silverlake
Best Single: Pugwash - What Are You Like
Best Gig: Ryan McMullan - Rescue Rooms
Best Choir: Sherwood Voices
Best Novel: My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent
Best Magazine: Ferment - Adventures in the Global Craft Alcohol Movement
Best Podcast: The Allusionist
Best Indian Restaurant: The Balti House, Hockley
Best Pub: Doctor's Orders, Carrington
Best Caff: Warsaw Diner, Canning Circus
Best Beatle: Still George. Obvs.
Best Best: Ditto
Best Postcode: NG5
Best Blog: We Are Cult*
Best person to follow on Twitter: Neville Southall
Best film I went to see on my birthday: North By Northwest
Best TV Programme (Not just of 2017 by the way): Detectorists
Best TV soundtrack: Johnny Flynn (Detectorists)
Best Boxset/Netflix series I've watched this year: Mad Men. By a country mile
And finally, the Best thing I did in 2017: Move On

* Thank you to We Are Cult - always a riveting read - for reminding me earlier this year just how good McCartney II is. Whether or not 'it's the boldest statement a solo Beatle made during Lennon's lifetime' is another thing altogether. (But it makes for a great strap line.)

Macca - Waterfalls


And that's where today's Blog Post title came from. It could even be your New Year's Resolution.

Happy New Year!


Thursday, 28 December 2017

"Have you planned your vacation yet?"

Gibson takes centre stage
So said Alfred Hitchcock in this personal theatrical trailer to his 1959 classic North By Northwest. It being my birthday today, I'm going to see it on the big screen for the first time this afternoon. I'm very excited.

And in true Cary Grant style I may be celebrating later with a Gibson or two. It's shaping up to be a great day.





Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Come on Down

And who shall wear the starry crown?
Our choir is currently enjoying a well earned break; we've worked hard this year and are charging our Duracells (other batteries are available) ahead of our first sing in January. I've asked everyone to have a think about which songs we'd like to cover next year - and if we each bring in two or three new ideas when we reconvene in a week or so we should have anywhere between 40 and 60 songs that we can begin to shortlist down into a new set.

I've already emailed the video below to them and think we could make 'Down to the River to Pray' work lickety split. O Brother Where Art Thou is one of the Coen Brothers' finest celluloid moments and the soundtrack, which includes Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris and, let's not forget, the Soggy Bottom Boys, is a peach. As a stand alone album it scans perfectly, straddling, as it does, Roots, World, Americana, Alt. Country and any other record exec. inspired genre/pigeon hole/label you want to throw at it.

Alison Krauss: Down to the River to Pray

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

King of a One Horse Town


A very convivial day yesterday, including a lovely session at our spiritual local - a big thank you to Joe, Dan, Ellie, Carla, Lulu, David, Judith, John Otway and everyone we've met at Doctor's Orders since our return in the Summer for making us feel so welcome.

Back to Medd Towers for curry, crackers and choons: Chiggins' mix tape (as ever, sans track listing) made for compulsive - without prejudice - listening. A quick email to Chris to establish the who, what, where and how and we had a perfect accompaniment for our late, very late, lunch.

The email was purely to establish the identity of Track 6 sitting between God Bless This Acid House and Kite; you know that annoying feeling when you recognise the voice but can't quite nail it? Anyway, it was Dan Auerbach (matey out of the Black Keys) and Waiting on a Song from his solo album of the same name released in June of this year. The penny dropped. I love it. Almost enough to nudge Pugwash off the podium; almost, but not quite.

Dan Auerbach - Waiting on a Song


And then, this morning, once you have a foothold you can begin climbing the whole bloody mountain. Try this for size - from the same album. (Funnily enough, and for what it's worth, I know quite a lot about one horse towns.)

Dan Auerbach - King of a One Horse Town

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Holy Holy Holy

Left Lion seeks lamb to lie down with
Between 2001 and 2006 Sufjan Stevens recorded five private Christmas themed EPs which he would give to family and friends each year. All in all he put out some forty odd festive songs and carols; initially they found their way onto fan websites before later becoming an officially released bumper CD Box Set. Although I may not have a holy bone in my body, and find all religions nothing more than mumbo jumbo, I do get the spiritual aspect of Christmas. Believe me, I do.

Have a peaceful day tomorrow.

Sufjan Stevens - Holy Holy Holy

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Merry Christmas from Nottingham


Green tights
Red hat
White bow
Blue sky
White snow
Robin Hood - there's one in every town

Merry Christmas from Nottingham. Yes, this is the card I've been mostly sending this year. Wherever you may be at this time of year and whoever you are spending it with, have a good one. You can read about my ghosts of Christmas past here, should you so wish, together with the festive tunes that tend to get played at Medd Towers. A big thank you, once again, to everyone who took the time to knock on my front door this year and shared a pot of tea with me - I enjoyed your company; appointments not necessary and the kettle's always on!

Ian Dury - Sweet Gene Vincent


Released as a single 25 November 1977; failed to chart