Sunday, 21 October 2018

Pavane, Pavane, Pavane

Image result for gabriel faure
Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)

Gabriel Fauré wrote his Pavane in 1887. Originally conceived as a solo piece for the piano, it soon gained traction amongst his musical peers and became an orchestral tour de force, before transmogrifying into a renowned choral work.

It's a tune (and melody) that works on so many levels and, as you can see from the three versions I've chosen below, there is neither an orchestra or, indeed, choir to be seen.

Acclaimed keyboard player Brian Auger reworked it in 1970 as a crossover classical/jazz infused, Hammond led instrumental. I defy you to keep still while you're listening to it. Would Fauré approve? I'd like to think so.


Next up a trumpet led take on it by horn player Markus Hoerhan. Not really straying too far from the original dots, it's not unpleasant at all. Toot toot.

And finally, a more traditional approach. Straight from the concert hall, but with just guitar (Craig Lake) and flute (Sian Fenn). It's probably how Fauré heard it in his head when he was writing it.

If I had to rank them I think I'd struggle to be honest. What do you think?

Friday, 19 October 2018

Time for a Beer

It's that time of year - betwixt Goose Fair and Guy Fawkes - which means it must be Nottingham Beer Festival. A pleasant distraction for some, a pilgrimage for others, this huge beer and cider festival casts its net far and wide and brings in thousands of punters from the NG postal district and beyond.

It's moved to a new venue this year (not for the first time - I can still remember when it was held at the local swimming baths), but a bit like the proverbial moth, I care not where the lightbulb is: I'll be there.

You should get down too if you are anywhere near. Friday afternoon is always the optimum time for a gander - busy but not rowdy (the office nitwits are still holed up in their cubicles), 99% of the beers are still on (and in great condition), and the floor hasn't yet turned into a sea of beer slops.

See you just after lunch.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018


It's been a quiet day today. On days like this I usually post something along the lines of this. Or even this.
Today I found a beautiful photograph on my Twitter feed.

As the fella who posted it @stuarthumphryes said, it's got nothing whatsoever to do with Doctor Who.

It was from a fashion shoot in the 1960s. London still had loads of these Police Boxes knocking around at the time - they were integral pieces of street furniture.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

The Incredible Shrinking Man

Who's got a tape measure?
I know I'm six foot tall. I've been six foot since I turned 16. It says six foot on my passport. Just because the nurse at my local GP surgery recently clocked me in at 5'-11" does not mean I'm 5"-11". No way Pedro. If you look carefully at the above photograph (taken on Saturday at James and Janni's wedding party) I'm kinda leaning in - and down - at the same time. James is not a seven foot giant - he is a mere 6'-4". Just to set the record straight. And, to set it straight even further, dad is not taller than me. He must be standing on a book, or something. Must be.

I'm glad I got that out of the way.

A big thank you to my friend Adele who texted me earlier this evening and put a smile on my face. I'd sent her the photo and she replied back:

"Nice pic of the 3 Amigos, looking very trim xx"

(Can I be Steve Martin, can I?)

Image result for the 3 amigos

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Catch the Pigeon

When I posted recently this photograph of my mother feeding the pigeons in Trafalgar Square in the 1950s it prompted a number of people to get in touch - they shared similar photos (mainly of parents) from a similar time. Probably even taken by the same photographer.

Image result for stop the pigeon
Grab him, nab him
However, the snap above is a tad more contemporary. Well, by tad, I mean it was actually taken in 1970, but it's in colour and, dare I say, groovy. And there's not a single collar and tie to be seen. The (liberal) times they were a-changing.
I don't know if it was choreographed or not. Either way, the scaffolders working on St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church in the background would almost certainly have whistled at the girls 'approvingly' when they walked past: it was written into every builders contract at the time; don't tell me it wasn't.

Westminster City Council prohibited the feeding of the birds in 2003 (wolf whistling at pretty girls probably around the same time) when their numbers reached 35,000 (who was counting them?*) and everywhere in the WC2 postcode was knee deep in guano.

Me & James
The photograph on the right was taken a few years before the ban. James looks to be around three or four so, I'd say, 1993/4. We'd been to the Natural History Museum that day, if memory serves, and afterwards we seemed to gravitate towards Trafalgar Square (in true pigeon style). He loved it. I think that comes through loud and clear. But, as with any rite of passage, he just did it the once.

I don't know where the birds went for bush tucker after 2003. One day they were everywhere, sh*tting on your head, next thing you know they'd buggered off. All things must pass. But not before I live you wthis exquisite slice of Vaudevillian glam from 1972. It was never hip, granted, but this is the missing link between Mrs. Mills and Gary Glitter. And you can quote me on that.

Lieutenant Pigeon - Mouldy Old Dough (1972)

* The pigeons, not pretty girls

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Playing the cards you're dealt

Image result for sequence board game
I drove down to London on Saturday morning pretty much on auto-pilot. I wasn't feeling 100% - and that's putting it mildly. The rain was torrential; biblical, almost. I pulled in at Cherwell Valley Services for breakfast. The coffee saved me. It made me almost human again. And the rain stopped.

Image result for tea pot pouring tea
"Is there a brew pending?"
When I got to my favourite sister in law's*, I was almost feeling a five, if not a six, on a scale of 1 to 10. Instead of cracking open the bubbly, I was more than happy with a pot of tea and 40 winks. When I woke up the Prof was telling me all about the ales he'd bought in - specially for me. "Tea will be fine, David." He looked crestfallen. "Who's going to drink all this beer?" "Sorry Prof, start the party without me." That's when he knew I wasn't faking it.

But it was OK. We didn't leave the house once - and it was still OK. We played cards. And board games. And more cards. And I drank gallons of tea - while everyone else drank fizz, and gin. I know what you're thinking, this isn't his usual No Sleep Till Hammersmith hedonistic weekend. And you'd be right. But needs must.

However, I came home cleansed and, here's the thing, with a passion for Sequence. I'd never heard of it before Saturday and now I'm addicted. I ordered a copy on Amazon while I was down there. Should be here tomorrow. Those winter evenings are going to fly by...

You'll be pleased to know normal service has been resumed. My rock and roll lifestyle - such that it is - has been rebooted.

* Megan knows how to fix me: Saturday's evening meal (and Sunday lunch too) both had her to die for homemade custard on the menu. A throwback to when I was freelancing in London a few years ago and lived with Megan and David for three months.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

You Can't Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)

Don't forget the Joker
Another gig for 2019 - Joe Jackson is going on the road with his Four Decade Tour. He's pulling tracks from just five of his albums spanning, that's right, four decades, including Look Sharp (1979) and Night & Day (1982).

I've been a huge fan right from the get go, and have seen him live countless times. He's only playing a handful of gigs in the UK, but it's the two nights at Amsterdam's Paradiso Club that I've got my eye on. I'm very excited. Who wants to come with me?

Joe Jackson - You Can't Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want) (1984)

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

My life's a bit more colder

Image result for the devil cartoon draw

I absolutely love this - it's got banjos, it's got finger clicking, and it's got a tune to die for. It also appears that the Dead South are coming to a venue near me not long into the the New Year; there never were such times.

The Dead South - In Hell I'll Be in Good Company

Monday, 8 October 2018

Going Down!

Comic actor Matt Berry (Toast of London, House of Fools, The IT Crowd etc.) isn't frightened of recording studios. Not only does he write and perform a lot of his own TV themes, he has also, over the years, knocked out six albums on the Acid Jazz label. Like I say, no musical slouch he.

So, I guess, it was only a matter of time until he decided to record some vintage TV themes (and by vintage I mean seventies) and give them a couple of coats of jazz funk.

Tony Hatch would, I know, be very proud.

I read a review of the album recently which said you only have to take one look at the sleeve to know you want to own it, hear it & devour it.

Here is Berry's take on Are You Being Served? Bet you can't listen to it without thinking of Mrs. Slocombe's pussy at least once.

Thursday, 4 October 2018


James and Janneke are getting married early on Saturday morning. It will be a very private ceremony: just the bride and groom, and their witnesses. No two people have ever been so in love.
I can't wait till I toast my Number One Son and his beautiful new bride.

Postscript - 7 October 2018 

A few photos from yesterday. More to follow next Saturday when the mums and dads take them out for a champagne lunch - and toast the new arrivals into our respective families.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Someone Get Me a Ladder

£3.00 in the British Heart Foundation, Dumfries

I've just read Greg Lake's autobiography: he wrote Lucky Man in 2016 when he knew he was dying - Greg passed in the December, and the book was published posthumously last year. Keith Emerson, the 'E' in ELP, had taken his own life in March 2016, which leaves Carl Palmer the last man standing.

Trilogy (1972)
Lucky Man is a Dear Diary type read, and none the worse for that, full of facts and figures, if a little lacking in emotion; understandable, though, given the circumstances.

Brain Salad Surgery (1973)
Emerson Lake and Palmer have cropped up once or twice around here - prior to punk they were a touchstone in my life and in my record collection; I often tell people that you can condense their whole back catalogue into just two albums - Trilogy, released in 1972, and, a year later, Brain Salad Surgery.

Still You Turn Me On is from 1973's Brain Salad Surgery. When the band wanted to dial back the pomp and circumstance running through their long players, they would turn to Greg Lake and say "Write us an acoustic ballad." Their debut album carried Lucky Man, Trilogy was tempered with From the Beginning and this was the point in their live shows where Keith and Carl could slope off to the bar while Greg sat out front on a stool and held court. Whilst simultaneously chewing gum.

Greg Lake - Still You Turn Me On 

Sunday, 23 September 2018


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)