Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Think Pink

Image result for paul smith mural beestonFashion guru Paul Smith paid a flying visit to his old stomping ground this week. Smith was born in Nottingham in 1946 and opened his first outlet in the city in 1970, before setting off on his travels and taking the iconic Paul Smith brand all over the world*. But he came back yesterday and took a butchers at a recently painted mural depicting the man of many stripes.

Interestingly he shares a wall with Richard Beckinsale - star of Porridge & Rising Damp and, tragically, cut down in his prime aged just 31.

* Situated just a couple of blocks away from where I smashed a hire car in Los Angeles a few years ago is Paul Smith's LA store; people come from miles around just to have their photo taken outside it; well, they would, wouldn't they? It is a thing of beauty.

Image result for paul smith la pink store

Sunday, 11 November 2018

The Future's Bright

Q. What have David Hepworth's latest book Nothing is Real (The Beatles Were Underrated and Other Sweeping Statements About Pop) and my friend Heidi's recent visit to London got in common?

A. As you can see Hepworth's latest tome (his third) once again comes with, like its predecessors
1971 and Uncommon People, a striking orange themed dust-jacket.

And when Heidi was in the capital this weekend she took this splendid photograph of a rather dapper individual on the tube; kitted out, from head to foot (quite literally) in, er, orange.

Image result for ral orange
For exact colour matching purposes, I've included the RAL swatch for all your Orange needs.

Everything from Donald Trump's skin tone to X-Ray Spex's The Day the World Turned Dayglo.

The future's bright, the future's RAL 2004.

With thanks to Heidi


Oops! - I don't do F**ebook, so when I was sent this tube photo I thought it was a photograph Heidi had taken; turns out it was Piley. Heidi/Piley; Piley/Heidi. See what I did there. Sorry both!

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Cold Tea

Image result for wah wahA conversation in the pub tonight took me back to a time when home taping, far from killing music, kept two overgrown schoolboys sane for much of the 90s & indeed the noughties.
One mixtape I did for Steve was two sides of a C90 rammed with wah wah tunes. And for the life of me I can't remember what I put on there. Except this - this definitely opened proceedings:

Dodgy - Cold Tea (1993) 

Be careful whee you tread
You don't want to do any harm

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Lately I've Let Things Slide

I go to the bin 
I throw the laundry in 
And dig out the cleanest shirt

Nick Lowe - Lately I've Let Things Slide (2001)

Sticking with Nick Lowe, I recently found this photograph taken in March 1978:

 (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Andy Williams?

Monday, 5 November 2018

To Be A Lover

Image result for to be a lover

I've noticed lately that a number of blogs I read on a regular basis have given over their Monday editions to a feature called Monday Long Song.*

I won't even begin to insult your intelligence by breaking that down for you; suffice it to say that a great song written by Booker T Jones c.1969 and given many makeovers thereafter (not least by Billy Idol in the mid 80s) was, for me, really brought to life back in 1977 when reggae singer George Faith agreed to record it for Lee 'Scratch' Perry. Easy now.

George Faith - To Be A Lover (Four seconds shy of 10 minutes)

* Including my good friend The Swede

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Black & White, and Red All Over

Image result for notts county

For those of you who are blissfully unaware of Bands FC, I strongly suggest you take a peek and bring yourself up to speed. Bands reimagined as football emblems/badges is an idea so simple, yet is the sort of lightbulb moment we all dream of having.
And with the, quite literally, thousands of both bands and football team to harvest, it's the gift that just keeps on giving.

Their exhibition is coming to town next month so I'll be sure to give it a good coat of looking at. Living in Nottingham we of course have two quality teams plying their trade in the city - Notts County and Notts County Reserves. Just kidding: Nottingham Forest play on one side of the River Trent, County on the other. When Brian Clough was in charge at the City Ground they said he used to walk on the very water that divides them; love him or loathe him, his presence is still felt around these parts.

And to show I have no axe to grind with the Reds, I'll lead with this. Forest rebranded as the Cure. And why would that be, I hear you ask. Quite simple really - it's that song innit?

And who else but Sleaford Mods could they have got for the County gig? I first wrote about them back in October 2014 and championed the excellent Tied Up In Nottz (you c*nt). And it still sounds every bit as powerful now as it did then.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Torched the haystack. Found the needle

Image result for six word stories

There's a lot to be said for brevity; in the case of Twitter, not more than 140 characters (I think that's why I love it so much). I'm currently digging six word stories - that's right, stories that pack a punch in less time than it takes to clean your glasses; stories that never outstay their welcome. Stories that demand to be reread.

Ernest Hemingway was the master: For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.

That, plainly, is the benchmark. It's probably never been bettered. Though, for what it's worth, I think the following examples come pretty close.

Painfully, he changed 'is' to 'was'.

Strangers. Friends. Best friends. Lovers. Strangers.

She will always be the one.

Underneath you, I erupt into stars.

The smallest coffins are the heaviest.


I know I've chosen some really sad ones; there are, for sure, some really uplifting ones out there too. Maybe next time...

Monday, 29 October 2018

My Brother Jake

Image result for my brother jake free
When James rang the other day and said he'd really like us to do another batch of recording, it was, quite literally, music to my ears. We've done a few sessions together over the years and he really has helped shape a lot of my songs. I may have provided the playground, but James was the one who put the swings and roundabouts in.

That's not my quote by the way - when Nigel Clark walked out on Dodgy 20 years ago I remember Matt their drummer saying it might be Clarks's name on the records, but they all know how the songs really got written and recorded. Ouch.

That said, I know this time around we'll be doing a couple of covers. James and I both love the Eiderdowns' version of From the Beginning by ELP. Bernard, who played fiddle on Pickering Place would certainly be my Number One choice for this along with Nat: Nathaniel plays sax with local shit kickers Slumb Party, but it's his banjo I want to hear on this:

The Eiderdowns - From the Beginning

And another one I'd like to have a crack at is My Brother Jake. Free had a huge hit with it in 1971, but, again, I want to do it more like the Eiderdowns; so chilled we may all end up getting hypothermia. Let me make a few phone calls and see if we can't fix this up for early in the New Year.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Tick Tock

Image result for clocks back
Waking up to find there's an extra hour in the day can't be a bad thing can it? Unless you're in chokey. Don't we all dream of being able to wind the clocks back? As I type this my wrist watch tells me it's not even nine o'clock. A full day ahead. A blank canvas to fill - in anyway I choose.

And, if I go to bed an hour later tonight I've grabbed another hour; time really is going nowhere.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Captain Scarlett*

*Two Ts on the Scarlett
My great niece Scarlett, 4, is something of a TV star. She's currently the face of Channel 4's 'Old People's Home for Four Year Olds'. Scarlett lost her mother last year to cancer and is currently finding new friends in all sorts of places - Old People's Homes, ITV studios - even Eamonn Holmes wants to be her friend.

Her father Tim, who also doubles up as Nottingham's Robin Hood, is doing a fabulous job of bringing her up on his own. And through the sadness, as well as keeping the memory of Scarlett's mum, Sally, alive, Tim is keen for her to appreciate just how special Gerry Anderson was, not least his 1967 creation, and Scarlett's namesake. 

Friday, 26 October 2018

Joan Collins Fan Club

I've said here, on more than one occasion (and quite recently, too), that when it's quiet, I like to post nothing more taxing than, say, a library picture of Helen Mirren, or a random girl from Amsterdam riding her bike. A modern day Test Card if you will.

The idea came originally from a fellow blogger - whose name I forget, sorry - who, during a fallow period, said that rather than cancel the milk and papers he was just going to put up a photograph of Joan Collins in her 'snorkelling gear'.

Well, as you can see, here is said photograph of Joan Collins in her, ahem, snorkelling gear. It dates from the 1950s, so that would put her somewhere in her mid-twenties. Collins was already something of a Hollywood starlet around this time having played a number of sultry roles in a number of so-so movies. But she'd yet to put her name to the two projects I always remember her for. Namely, that episode of Star Trek:

Star Trek - The City on the Edge of Nowhere (1967)

And this, my favourite movie of 1978 in the category 'Best Trashy Film Adaptation of Equally Trashy Novel Written by Sister of the Leading Lady'.

The Stud (1978)

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.