Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Sleaford Mods

Sleaford Mods are a Nottingham minimalist duo who rap/rant/cuss in a distinct East Midlands dialect; imagine Alan Sillitoe with tourettes writing a modern day Saturday Night and Sunday Morning with a mobile phone in one hand, an E-Cig in the other whilst ordering a bottle of lager in a crowded pub.

I like them because:

1. Their lead singer Jason Williamson is, by his own admission, gobby: a must for any front man.
2. They're not embarrassed to put a 'z' in Notts.
3. They namecheck Doctor Feelgood and The Sex Pistols
4. They film music videos on the top deck of Nottingham buses.
5. They swear. An awful lot.

Her's a little film Quietus TV made about them and below is the splendid Tied up in Nottz:

Monday, 27 October 2014

Still with us

We've just come back from a most enjoyable few days away in Scotland. Walking out of a music bar in Dumfries on Wednesday night I noticed a framed photo of Frankie Miller - he probably played there a number of years earlier. And, much to my chagrin, I thought he'd passed away. But, of course, he hadn't; despite suffering a brain haemorage while working in New York in 1994 (he was in a coma for five months) Frankie continues his recovery on a daily basis.

Miller has written some cracking songs down the years, and has collaborated with and influenced countless musicians including Rod Stewart, Bob Seeger and Joe Walsh. He's probably remembered in this country for the 1976 hit single Darlin' but north of the border he's best known for turning Dougie MacLean's Caledonia into nothing short of a national anthem.

This footage captures Miller at the top of his game performing at Germany's Rockpalast and sporting his trademark Diddyman hat. He'll be celebrating his 65th birthday next week - many happy returns Frankie and welcome back to the land of the living.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Give him enough rope

Mike Read: bankrupt - financially, musically and politically. The former Radio 1 jock has, not surprisingly, given his previous dalliances with Margaret Thatcher and the Tories, jumped into bed with Nigel Farage while at the same time cooing bastardised calypsos in his ears. But not in a racist way, he alleges.

It would appear now that the entire cast of ex-Radio 1 DJs have pressed the self destruct button with Read being the latest to hit the red tops in a blaze of controversy. They'll be telling us next that Diddy David Hamilton has been holding Black Masses at Craven Cottage.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Rhyme crime

Those Spandau lyrics in full
Not for the first time a much lauded pop band from a decade in history that many would like to forget have succumbed to the lure of the lucrative reformation; and in so doing have, thanks to an ill conceived return with matching piss poor comeback single, undone all their previous back catalogue quicker than you can stifle a yawn. Step up Spandau Ballet; their new record will surely go down in the annals for the largest gathering of banal rhyming couplets ever found in captivity: where else would you find lines like these?

Couldn't buy more time
Couldn't even spin a dime
And then the world turned sublime


These streets were all I knew
Couldn't find a map to you
No one could tell me what to do

Or try these for size

I was working on a scheme
To build a one man team
Now I'm looking at a dream

Then tell Tony Hadley to sing it like a Bond theme, chuck in a tired sax solo, bring to the boil and voilà: classic Ballet.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Do you really think that's wise?

Left right, left right: John Le Measurier, Bill Nighy

The cast for the new Dad's Army movie was announced earlier this week. Tinkering with classics is always going to be fraught. Even when the original cast made the ubiquitous big screen version of their own TV show in 1971 it hardly set the world on fire. But this time, this time, it may just work. With big hitters like Bill Nighy, Tom Courtenay, Michael Gambon and Bill Paterson taking on the roles of Wilson, Jones, Godfrey and Frazer respectively, the project  certainly won't fail for lack of  talent. And hearing that it will all be shot on my doorstep*, almost literally, I'm warming to the idea more and more.

But it will be the script that makes it. Or indeed breaks it. It was an ensemble piece set during the war, but war was the very last thing it was about. It was about people. And people need natural scripts. If the writing is only half as good as that produced by David Croft and Jimmy Perry it will fly. If not, it will end up as soggy as the chips the U-Boat commander insisted on not having in that sketch.

* When the cast come to town they may well need to brush up on their pelican crossing etiquette:

Sunday, 5 October 2014


David 'Jack' Horner bottom left
The word legend is bandied around so much in music these days that, if you were to believe the hype, anyone who played bass in a third division punk band on their instantly forgettable third album would automatically have the L word bestowed upon them. That or national treasure.

We went to this year's Scarborough Jazz Festival and in our digs, sitting at the table next to us at breakfast, was a man so omnipresent on the UK jazz scene during the sixties and much of the seventies that picking up an album in Ray's Jazz or Dobell's that didn't have him in the lineup would have been virtually impossible. Saxophonist and clarinetist David 'Jack' Horner played with the great and the good - Dick Morrissey, Ronnie Scott, Stan Tracey, Tubby Hayes and Humphrey Lyttelton to name but a few.

But Jack never took centre stage. He was, and never will be, a legend. He was happy to stay in the shadows and prop up the midfield. An unsung hero. Some may even call him an underdog.

Underdog or not, I wasted no time in sidling up to his table and asking him to sign my napkin. He was a true gentleman and seemed more than happy to talk about the old days. Later that afternoon after watching a terrific session from Alan Barnes, a player very similar in style to Jack, we bumped into him and his latest wife (it turns out he's been married five times) on the terrace and they invited us over a for a pot of tea. A legend would never have done that.

Look carefully for the cat wearing the dark glasses in Tubby Hayes' Big Band in this clip from Ronnie Scott's filmed in 1970. 

Friday, 3 October 2014


I became a Godfather for the first time earlier this year. Not in a Tony Soprano way, I hasten to add, more in a wise old uncle sort of way. Amanda Jane is a beautiful young thing: she's bright and she's bubbly and she makes me laugh. I think I make her laugh too. It's good to laugh.

It's Amanda's birthday in a couple of days and she's having a party tomorrow. From what I can gather it's Friends and close family only.

Just nipping down to the dry-cleaners to collect my Tux.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Is it down to the Lake I fear

It troubled me not that when I saw Greg Lake perform recently at my local Arts Centre he was joined neither by Keith Emerson or Carl Palmer. However, what did set my teeth on edge was when, instead of playing an acoustic set, he saw fit to perform a karaoke night with backing tapes. I've still not forgiven him.

And, anyway, it's been a long while since he's been able to sing half as well as this little combo.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Mr. Soul

Sam Cooke, along with Charlie Rich, Solomon Burke and Nick Lowe, has a voice so rich, so layered, he could charm the birds out of any old tree he fancied.

And on 11 December 1964 that's precisely what he was doing; with disastrous consequences. Cooke, a born philanderer, couldn't keep it in his trousers. And that night he paid the ultimate price. But less than a year before, aged just 32, he had recorded and released, probably, the finest soul album of all time.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

What it means to be English

Arthur English, stalwart of seventies telly, is probably best remembered as maintenance man and union representative Mr. Harman in Are You Being Served and everything from Follyfoot to In Sickness and in Health, via cameos in shows like  The Sweeney. But it's as a standup comic in the post war years that he gained his comedy chops. In 1949 he was resident comedian at the Windmill Theatre in London's West End. His wartime spiv persona surely the inspiration for Fast Show music hall comedian Arthur 'Where's me washboard' Atkinson.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Every picture tells a story

In 1977, after beating the Auld Enemy at Wembley, the rampaging Scots (The Daily Mail's words, not mine) decided to invade the pitch. Nothing unusual in the seventies, but this was the pitch invasion to end all pitch invasions: they dug the turf up, smashed both crossbars and then took woodwork and sods back with them over the border. And the hapless Police just looked on. I remember John Motson being incensed; he wasn't the only one.

It's nearly forty years later and, after tomorrow's referendum result, we may once again feel slightly different about our tartan neighbours. It looks like they're all set to start dismantling something (we thought was) far more sturdy than a couple of sets of goalposts. For what it's worth honorary Scot, Rod Stewart, who found himself on the pitch that day has pitched his wagon to the Better Together campaign. As long as he doesn't make a song and dance about it.

Monday, 8 September 2014


Roy Wood and that bloke out of Chas & Dave
Jeff Lynne's about to call his old mate Roy Wood, long distance, from his luxury home high up in the Hollywood Hills. Lynne, never one to bear a grudge, fancies getting The Move back together. Their last single, California Man, released in 1972 was the springboard to what would very soon become the Electric Light Orchestra's trademark sound. But Roy Wood jumped ship while land was still in sight and became everyone's favourite Wizzard. Lynne, meanwhile, morphed into a hybrid of George Martin and Paul McCartney and took ELO global. But that was then and this is now. If only Jeff can get Woody on side then maybe Birmingham's finest can have a second bite at the cherry. And, who knows, they might even crack America this time around. Time to make that phone call.


Saturday, 6 September 2014

What did you do today?

So far, so Saturday: got up around seven, put the kettle on and made a brew. Checked my email, read a couple of chapters of my book and then took a cup of tea to the lady of the house. Had a quick shower and dressed before going down the town to fetch the paper. Came back, fed the cat, did a couple of crossword clues and then decided to bake some bread.

Oh, then I nipped down to the crossroads and sold my soul to the devil.

With thanks to Phil Friend, one of the best photographers in the business