Saturday, 20 April 2019

Making an exhibition of myself


A collection of my photographs is currently being exhibited at A Room Full of Butterflies in Nottingham. A big thank you to Andy Welch at the gallery; Andy thought my 'Bio' was too self deprecating, so has asked me to have another go and big myself up. We'll see.


A Room Full of Butterflies
632 Mansfield Road
Sherwood
NOTTINGHAM
NG5 2GA

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Pure & Simple

Calling my Gig of 2019 in April may well be premature. Provocative even; but not unheard of.
Eleanor McEvoy is, I must confess, my new crush. After a truly stunning show last week (she's literally just finished the UK leg of her Gimme Some Wine tour), I grabbed a few words with her and was *absolutely* starstruck. Pure and simple.


Eleanor McEvoy - Slow Hand

Monday, 15 April 2019

Oh! You Pretty Things

An early sighting of the Swedey McSwedeface*
Yesterday was a good day. A very good day, in fact. Our inaugural Sunday Vinyl Session at the Running Horse went really well: listening to Bowie's Hunky Dory - in its entirety - thru the house PA was absolutely spellbinding. (A big thank you to everyone who came out, and thank you, again, to Rich, my partner in crime.)
We're already building up a head of steam and have loads of ideas for upcoming albums and associated events/gigs on the back of it.
Watch this space, as they say.

In keeping with these crazy times we even had a meaningful vote - to whittle down our very longlist of potential albums for next month to a more manageable shortlist which we'll decide over the next day or two on social media.
I'm really hoping I won't have to go to Brussels to ratify the final choice.

But what made yesterday an especially good day was the visit of a blogging buddy of mine who has been reading and commenting on my blog (and me his) for nigh on a decade. But we'd never met. As I was setting the levels on the mixing desk a fella walked in the pub with a vinyl album shielding the lower half of his face* and extended his hand: the Swede. He'd travelled over 100 miles to listen to tis album. That's how good Hunky Dory is. I'm afraid it meant even more chinwagging, more beer consumption and staying out all night (it's a dirty job, but someone had to do it). Roll on Session #2 - Sunday 12 May.

Hunky Dory. And a b**tleg
And from this fine album, here's what some people on Twitter are calling the best song. Ever. I'm not arguing with that.

David Bowie - Oh! You Pretty Things (1972)


* Swedey McSwedeface

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Jazzy, Sunny, Hypnotic & Bonkers*


I don't own many perfect albums. I'm not even sure if such a thing exists; most Beatles albums have a Ringo track on there somewhere, and Bowie could have his moments too. But Lemon Jelly's Lost Horizons is as close, I think, as you can get. Which means I can play it from start to finish without thinking once about reaching for the remote. I bet there's not many albums you can do that with; not if you're totally honest with yourself. This is the second track this week from Lemon Jelly's debut album from 2002, which, as today's post title tells you is, according to one reviewer, all these* things; in the words of Annie Lennox - who am I to disagree?

And it's something of an anthem at Medd Towers. I'm gonna play you the children's song it was sampled from first, and then drop the real thing in. I hope you like them both.

John Langstaff - All the Ducks


Lemon Jelly - Nice Weather for Ducks

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Away From the Numbers


Some very interesting photos appeared on my Twitter feed today - not least that one of the Black Hole. It's 55 million light years away (1 light year = 6 trillion miles) and measures, at least, a billion miles across. Just thinking about what those numbers mean hurts my brain; so I'll park it up for now and come back to it when I've had a little lie down.

In the meantime, the one above is a lot easier to get your head around - the Golden Gate Bridge taken in the early 1960s. So that makes it roughly 5,500 miles and 50 years away. I can cope with numbers like that. I just love everything about this photograph - if there's been a better photo taken of San Francisco's iconic landmark, I've not seen it.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Bagpuss Sees All Things


Today's show and tell is self explanatory. It really is.


Lemon Jelly - Ramblin' Man (2002)



'Brixton' kicks in at 4 mins, 10 secs



Monday, 8 April 2019

Riff!


Rock and Roll is built on riffs. Always has been, always will be. Some good ('Satisfaction'*), some not so good ('Smoke on the Water'). Either way, they're the tune within the tune: the bit you sing in your head. Or play air guitar to if you're on your own. In an empty house. With the curtains drawn.

I'm sure if you trawl back through my backpages you'll find loads of examples. I was thinking the other day who's writing the good riffs today; the ones that guitar shops ban the kids from playing when they're road testing a new Les Paul (other guitars are available)? - 'Stairway' DENIED! Anyone who is familiar with Greta Van Fleet will know that they've shamelessly plundered the Led Zeppelin back catalogue, changed a few titles, and have, effectively, released a bunch of Zeppelin outtakes. Think Custard Pie, think Dancing Days, think Greta Van Fleet. Great riffs though.

Here's one from a few years back that haunts me to this day. When Jack White wrote The Hardest Button to Button he planted an ear-worm so large in my head I'm surprised people can't see it waving at them as I walk around. And, like Greta Van Fleet, White is paying homage to the God of Riffs - namely Jimmy Page - without whom Rock and Roll would have died out years ago.

White Stripes - Hardest Button to Button (2003)


* Interestingly, when Devo covered Satisfaction they left the riff in its box and never referred to it once. Not once.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Confessions

A Brace of Mavericks
In addition to the Neil Young autobiography waiting to be read, two more memoirs have recently dropped onto the door mat: Pete Way's Fast Ride Out Of Here tells the story of one of rock and roll's original wild men - his diet of sex, drugs, rock and roll (and that's just before breakfast) has made much of his life the stuff of folklore. He once told his wife he was just nipping to the shop for a pint of milk, only to come back three months later after touring North America with UFO. Having just seen the band on their final jaunt around the UK, I've gotta say it's not the same without Pete up on stage (he left the band for the last time in 2009 for medical reasons). I'm hoping this read will, in some small way, make up for his absence.

Next up is Austin Mitchell's Confessions of a Political Maverick. Mitchell, who was the Labour MP for Great Grimsby between 1977 and 2015 has had two successful careers in politics and broadcasting: prior to embarking on his Westminster duties Mitchell anchored Yorkshire's daily current affairs TV show, Calendar, in the early 70s; from where this vintage interview with Brian Clough came. Leeds Utd. fans look away now.

Calendar (1974)


And below we see a faithful* transcription of the same interview as featured in The Damned Utd. A truly great film, with a stellar performance from Michael Sheen as Brian Clough. In the Yorkshire TV sequence (below) Mitchell is played by actor Mark Bazeley.

The Damned Utd (2009)


* Kind of

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

"I've been in love and I've seen a lot of war"


Neil Young was one of the last turns I went to see before we left Nottingham in 2010. I think I covered it for the paper, but I can't remember now. It would've been around the time he released his 30th. studio album Le Noise. As with a lot of latter day Young, it pretty much flew under the radar - if the critics can't see a Southern Man on there or a Hey Hey, My My they tend to dismiss it. Their loss.

One day I would love to gather my thoughts on Neil Young and try and put into words what I think  makes him a true one of a kind; a maverick. But first I need to finish his autobiography which, along with about another dozen or so paperbacks, is currently weighing down my bedside table.

In the meantime, and because I heard it on RTÉ tonight while I was in the bath, here's a beautiful song from that album which harks back to a more stripped back, acoustic Neil Young and one that certainly pushes all my buttons.

Neil Young - Love and War (2010)


FYI this is post No. 1,000 to appear on my blog. Are We There Yet? (formerly Even Monkeys Fall Out Of Trees) became a thing on February 15th. 2010. And yes, I know there's a picture of Manchester City's Neil Young at the top of the page.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Capable Man


I know I've said it before, but helluva lot of new stuff I listen to comes care of the Number One Son. Almost since I first introduced him to the Beatles back when he was still in his cot, James has been my constant sherpa when it comes to navigating treacherous indie landfill and other, equally dangerous, hazards. His end of year roundups, in particular, are a thing of beauty - and also very small - appearing as they do these days on a micro SD card.

I don't know if Man & The Echo will make this year's cut (it is, after all, still only April), but Capable Man appeared on my phone yesterday complete with a simple instruction: 'Listen to this, Old Man!' So I did. It could be a contender. See what you think.

Man & The Echo - Capable Man (2019)  

Monday, 1 April 2019

These Foolish Things

Twitter was awash with fake news this morning. And by fake news I mean bona fide fake news of the April 1st variety. You know the sort of (unbelievable) thing - Elvis found on the Moon manning a burger stand; Bono paying his taxes; Theresa May getting Brexit over the line. I stayed well clear. Till twelve o'clock, anyway.

Talking about foolish things, here's some joyous footage of Dave Brubeck playing live at the University of Rome in 1959. Paul Desmond on sax never sounded so good.



Dave Brubeck Quartet ft. Paul Desmond - These foolish Things

Thursday, 28 March 2019

F*cking Noddy?


Anyone who remembers Chris Morris' quite brilliant Blue Jam that went out on Radio 1(1997-99) in the wee small hours will, I guess, in their minds, still link the dark downbeat comedy sketches with the equally downbeat ambient grooves that in the late 90s made for such perfect post-party bedfellows.

If you listened to this at three in the morning coming down from whatever sort of night you were coming down from then it all made perfect sense; not that it doesn't now. In fact it probably chimes more now than it ever did. Fucking Noddy?

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Black Sky

"Can we make the sky black? Like Justin did."
God bless Twitter; yes, like any branch of social media, it's got its fair share of nut jobs and knuckle draggers. But no more than you'll find on your average high street or indeed Clapham omnibus. And although to the untrained eye it may appear to be full of nothing but Brexit, and kitten videos (and, to be fair, it's hard to remember a time when it wasn't), you'll come across nuggets like this:
Hands up if you knew that Justin Hayward's promo video for his 1978 single Forever Autumn was the prototype for Bowie's Ashes to Ashes. My hand would have remained firmly down at the back of the class. Whilst we're on the subject of Hayward, Pete Paphides played an extract from Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds on his Soho Radio show this week. It was a particularly gloomy passage - that's H. G. Wells for you - and afterwards Paphides came out with a simple solution for making this particular concept album a little less miserable: instead of Richard Burton doing the narration, they should've given the gig to Ronnie Corbett. How wonderful would that have been?

David Bowie - Ashes to Ashes (1980)