Sunday, 23 September 2018

Heartbreaker

Unmasked
This time last year I was telling you all about Los Straitjackets. Unnerving and unmissable in equal measure, Nick Lowe must feel permanently underdressed these days.

Seems he and the Straits would often soundcheck with Dionne Warwick's Heartbreaker, before finally embracing it full on and dropping it into their set. Although, some would argue, not one of the Gibb brothers best songs (even though it went Number One all over the world in 1982), Nick and the band have breathed new life into it and have, I think, made it into an uber cool record*. See what you think.


It's from a tasty little EP - Tokyo Bay - released in June of this year.

Saturday, 22 September 2018

So Let Me Go Far ( A Pilgrimage)

"Did you put the hand brake on?"

And then there were four
It's like a clarion call. One of your favourite bands announce that they're gonna be performing their (utterly, utterly splendid) second long player (a quarter of a century after its release), in its entirety. In the same running order as the album, and everything. LIVE!

Next Monday, Dodgy are announcing dates for their Homegrown 25th. Anniversary tour. They did something similar back in 2013, 20 years after they released their debut album.

I shall be pulling in a couple of shows - at least; in the same way that next March/April I'm getting a few miles under my belt catching this lot; I've already got tix to see Phil Mogg and co. at Northampton Roadmenders, Nottingham Rock City and Shepherd's Bush Empire.

Next year's diary is filling up fast.


Dodgy - So Let Me Go Far (1994)

Monday, 17 September 2018

All Change


Crows have been looming large just recently, one way or another. I'm not normally someone who goes looking for hidden meanings in this sort of stuff, as it's usually just a hop, skip and a jump to places I'd rather not go, thank you vey much. But... if yer humble crow can shine any light on events to come - in some sort of totemic way - and if indeed they are an omen to the future, then I think, for what it's worth, they represent change.
Even if it just gets that little fella on the middle row - third from the right - turned back up the right way. Cos that's how I've felt these last few days, can I just tell you.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Egypt? I Don't Know


It will not have escaped your attention that Paul McCartney has released yet another solo album. His 76th, or is that how old he is? I lose track. Time was was when such an occasion was marked at Medd Towers by hotfooting it down to my local record emporium and standing in line for the pleasure of topping up Macca's latest offshore bank account.

These days I leave it to others* to try before I buy. And when I say buy, I mean rip the audio off of the Youtube video and chuck it in my digital vault where it will sit unlistened to for the rest of eternity. Sorry Macca, I know this sort of behaviour doesn't butter your parsnips, but you really have squeezed me dry over the years. The pips really are squeaking now.

*Anyway, I've let one of the best writers around, Martin Hodges, be my eyes and ears on this one - and I too think I Don't Know is the standout track. It really is. In fact, if McCartney ever released it as 7" single on blue vinyl (and put, say, 'Jet' on the B-side), I'd pay a couple of quid for it. That I do know.

Macca - I Don't Know (2018)

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Bath Bombs

We all know that major cities including London, Liverpool, Nottingham, Manchester, Hull, Sheffield and Newcastle took a pasting during WW2. Industrial cities, strategic ports, places where they made stuff - in particular, munitions - were all high on Mr. Hitler's 'To Bomb' list.

But they came after cultural and historical cities too. Like Bath. Just 13 miles inland from Bristol (another of the Luftwaffe's prime targets), the beautiful city of Bath bore the brunt of a blitz so fierce that between April 25th. and 27th. 1942 it was utterly annihilated. Over 400 people perished and a more than 1,000 injured, with nearly 20,000 buildings suffering devastation.

Here's a short film telling the story.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Man and Machine

If the designers of football shirts think that they are in any way part of the fashion industry, they are sadly deluded. I'd ban them in a heartbeat from being worn anywhere other than a football pitch at 3 o'clock on a Saturday afternoon.

That said, in their 1973/4 season, Chelsea came up with an away shirt so f**king sexy it is still talked about 45 years after it was put out to pasture.

You know what it's like when you see a photograph and think to yourself 'God, that is so good.'  Here is one of those aforementioned photos.

Long story shirt short: Charlie Cooke (Chelsea, Scotland, Los Angeles Aztecs) pictured in 1974 crouched in front of a matching Mark 1 Ford Escort RS Mexico. Nothing more to add, really.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Tired

Just back from Liverpool where sleep was in short supply*. John Lennon wrote I'm So Tired whilst in India studying meditation with the Maharishi in 1968. After three weeks of quiet, and not so quiet, contemplation, it was driving him insane; to the point that he was plagued by insomnia. And it is a very John song. Every line is pure Lennon. Paul McCartney admits he had absolutely nothing to do with it.

This is for anyone who's having trouble getting to sleep tonight.



The Beatles - I'm So Tired


* Not getting to bed much before 5:00 a.m. probably didn't help

Thursday, 30 August 2018

She gives me everything, and tenderly


Liverpool tomorrow. I'm training it - using split tickets for the first time - ETA into Lime Street around lunchtime. Ray's flying in from Belfast, due to land around the same time, so it'll be a spot of bush tucker in the Philharmonic, and then we'll see where the fancy takes us.

We're not expecting to see Macca during our two day stopover, though if he did care to join us I'm sure he'd be good company. There are many questions I'd love to put to him, not least: 'Why, at the age of 76, are you still getting bent out of shape about songs being credited to Lennon & McCartney and not McCartney & Lennon or, in the case of 'Yesterday', McCartney & Lennon can whistle? Life's too short Paulie, get over yourself.

If I've got this right, these two Hard Day's Night period classics - which, as you can see (above) were paired as an 'A' & 'B' side for their American release - were written by the pair thus:

And I Love Her (1964)- McCartney, with Lennon writing the middle eight* 


If I Fell (1964) - Lennon*


*Unless of course you, or indeed Macca, know different

Friday, 24 August 2018

What Happens on Tour...

Essential holiday reading*
Maybe Jimmy Page has already been questioned by the authorities about having sex with underage girls in the 1970s; maybe he hasn't. One thing is certain though - Led Zeppelin weren't big on asking to see picture ID when young girls queued up to get back stage after gigs. Or when they made their way past hotel security and found which rooms the band were occupying. On the contrary, their manager, the notorious Peter Grant, actively encouraged the practice. Different times? Maybe. Different crimes? Well, no, actually.

Oh Lori
The notoriety surrounding similar events today are played out in the press as vile acts carried out by vile people. But in1972 Lori Maddox was a 13 year old virgin when David Bowie publicly bedded her on his Spiders from Mars tour. I say publicly: Bowie knew she was jail bait. His entourage knew she was jail bait, and so did every band, bartender & bellboy in Los Angeles where Maddox was part of a groupie inner circle that hung with any bunch of musicians knocking around Sunset Strip.

Led Zeppelin was one such bunch and, not long after Bowie's exploits with Maddox, Jimmy Page called her and had her chauffeured to his hotel suite. Lori was all of 14 at this point. Page knew this but wasn't remotely bothered. There's nothing more to add really; it's a salacious story that needs no further embellishing. It was Led Zeppelin and it was the 1970s. That seems to be the general consensus of opinion. Just read Hammer of the Gods, or indeed the new Page biography [*pictured poolside- above - by Danny Baker], where you're never more than ten pages from a juicy 'What happens on tour...' story. Only, these stories never stayed on tour.

I discovered this tune only recently on a Classic Rock station coming out of New York that doesn't play Rocky Mountain Way on the hour, every hour. Jimmy Page lends his guitar skills to this 1968 diamond in the rough from Donovan.

Donovan - Season of the Witch (1968)



Monday, 20 August 2018

Blue Eyed Soul


Blue Eyed Soul was a lazy catch all phrase that some music hack coined back in the sixties to describe anyone with white skin having the audacity to sing rhythm and blues or soul music.
And everyone from Rod Stewart to Adele, via Paul Young and Mick Hucknall, has subsequently been burdened with the tag. It should be redundant now, but you will still see a rake of compilation albums bearing the name, and flyers too for various club nights; as the duty roster included the likes of George Michael and Spandau Ballet, you'd know to leave your parka on the coat hook and your scooter in the garage. Northern Soul it is not.

One of the names (well, two to be precise) constantly mentioned when Blue Eyed Soul gets a name-check is Hall & Oates. Their take on all things soulful was never anything less than luxurious. It all sounded so effortless. And frighteningly good, too: Kiss on My List was just about as good as it got.

Here's a version Daryl Hall did as part of his Daryl's House series - a couple of octaves lower and a tad slower, I think it shades the original.




Saturday, 18 August 2018

Birthday Girl

Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr., aka Stormzy, has crammed a lot into his first 25 years; not least funding scholarships for black students to enable them to scale Oxbridge's ridiculously high walls. And, calling out Theresa May for her woeful inaction in the aftermath of Grenfell.

The fella also writes some blinding tunes. If it's your birthday today, Happy Birthday!

Stormzy - Birthday Girl (2016)

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Happy




Two songs below that share the same title. Both make me happy. One deliriously so. I'll let you guess which. And it's all in the brain. Music lights up our limbic system and quite literally turns us on. It's official. But I'm just a mere layman, I won't insult your intelligence with my mumbo jumbo - read all about it from people who know their shit. Ok this might not be Stephen Fry, probably more Brian Cox, but you get the drift. Now, those two songs:


Exhibit 'A' 

Pharrell Williams - Happy (2013)



Exhibit 'B' 

Rolling Stones - Happy (1972)

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Jelly (Helplessly Hoping - Again)

Don't worry lads, I'll play yours next time

Got a favourite song, but haven't got a Scooby as to what it's all about? I've got a shed load of them, as I guess you do too. I've even been known to avoid reading the real words to incomprehensible songs and using my own which I think work better. I know, I need to get out more.

I could've told whoever wrote this about one of my top tunes that it's like nailing jelly to a wall. As much as I love Helplessly Hoping, and even though every word in it is as clear as a bell, I think its meaning changes every time I listen to it; none the worse for that. It keeps me on my toes, that much I do know. But right now I think I've sussed it - right time right place, perhaps. Though if I revisit this piece in six months it may be a different story.

They are one person
They are two alone
They are three together
They are for each other

And just like the last time I posted it, I have, perversely, chosen the most delicate of covers.

Jellywine - Helplessly Hoping (written by Steve Stills in 1968)