Sunday, 15 October 2017

Grass Man



My friend Adele feels the same way about gardening as I do: there's only one thing worse than gardening, and that's people talking about gardening.

However, a garden without grass is one thing, but a world without grass is unthinkable. Say hello to the Grass Man.

Whilst Adele was with us this weekend we went to see Dodgy in a little club in town. As usual they were on fine form. Unusually, however, they were without Matthew their drummer. He was moonlighting.

But they did play this. Obviously.




Dodgy: Grassman

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

I'm climbing up ladders, and sliding down snakes


Lat night night was choir night. We're getting there, slowly building our, ahem, repertoire: softly softly, catchee monkey.

So, alright, we're not quite match fit yet; not the finished article, but we're not far off. We could do with strengthening at the back - a couple of strategically placed flyers dotted around NG5 (I'll drop a few off in Doctor's Orders and Kraftwerks) should, with a bit of luck, yield an extra vox or two.

We're quite an eclectic bunch who are always on the look out for new material. We've already had a go at couple of my songs and, I think, this one suits our voices. We've sung it both a capella and with me on the guitar and everyone singing the chorus & harmonies. Both work well, but we'll get a definitive version nailed in the next week or two. In the meantime, here's my demo:

Sunday, 8 October 2017

M is for Macca


In a perfect world my house would be adorned with Morgan Howell's artwork. If you're not familiar with the name, I'm sure you've seen his Super Size Art all over the place. His depiction of vintage record sleeves is frighteningly  real - right down to every last tear, crease and crumple.

Back in January 2014 I asked Morgan if he wouldn't mind doing a quick Q&A for my blog. Four years later and I was knocking on his front door again. 'You know this Swedey McSwedeface craze that's sweeping the nation?' I asked...

Fair play to Morgan, he embraced the project both willingly and enthusiastically. I extend my warmest thanks to him. Again.




"I was a Beatles obsessive as a child and they had split by the time I was 5. So I reckon it would have been Wings Band on the Run. Not very cool, but hey. And yes I still have it."

Macca: Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five



Saturday, 7 October 2017

J is for Herbie


For the sake of today's post title, I was really hoping Hancock clocked in at 30 mins

Another day, another Swedey McSwedeface. It was only a matter of time till the Number One Son wanted in on the action. As he says himself, below, if this was 'My First CD', it would have thrown up something very different.

Dad,

As I recall, this is meant to be the "first LP bought with your own money", and this is that. 

This is 5 years or so into my record buying/acquiring life, but all of those were CDs, and the majority were birthday presents or pocket money purchases. A mix of peer influence and your advice had worked me through the likes of Blink-182, NOFX, Sabbath, and Zeppelin up to then, all on small shiny discs. 

By the time I was 16 I was studying Monday to Friday in the city, and working there at weekends too. As a borderline pretentious literature-reading, arthouse-viewing teen, I bought a turntable and made the most of the jazz exposure I'd received through both you and my piano mentor, Steve, and fully embraced the world of fusion with this epic. Bass clarinet, Fender Rhodes, and a funny time signature or two set me on the road to the kind of musical madness I take for granted to this day. 

James
www.jamesmedd.co.uk


Herbie Hancock - Mwandishi (1971)


Tuesday, 3 October 2017

R is for Slade

Sladey McSladeface

Full bodied
Riggsby and I go back a long way: a very long way. We met at school in, I'm guessing, 1973 and were friends right from the get go. We discovered a lot of stuff for the first time together - you know the sort of things - sex and drugs and rock and roll, to name but three. Even though he now resides in Southern California, we still keep in regular contact. And I know he reads my blog.

Cue today's email from him; I actually read it first this morning whilst simultaneously wiping the sleep from my eyes and cursing the alarm. If you're familiar with Swedey McSwedeface, it will all make perfect sense. If not... where have you been?!"


Hi John,

This is a fun idea. "Slade Alive" was (one of) the first album(s) I bought, and one I listened to many times. Their version of 'Born to be Wild' was my favourite track. In the early days of record buying, I also bought Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" I am embarrassed to say. Happily, I did not hold onto that one. I got in the music paper Sounds with Electric Ladyland because I bought a copy that was warped, but the record store closed down and I was unable to exchange it. A very nice person at Sounds arranged for a flat copy to be sent to me.

Of the original albums I still have, I treasure the DAMNED particularly.


All taken in the kitchen, as requested. How's that?

Riggsby
Now with tongues

How's that? It's bloody marvellous, that's what it is. Thank you Riggsby - this one's for you:

The Damned - New Rose (1977) 

Sunday, 1 October 2017

C is for Clash


I received a lovely email earlier today from C over at Sun Dried Sparrows. I'm sure she won't mind me reprinting it here - though I have taken her full name off the bottom!

Hi John 

Hope all is good with you! It was a lovely idea you had to gather some more 'Swedey McSwedeface'* shots from fellow bloggers recently. If you're still on the lookout for some, then here's mine! I finally managed to track down a vinyl copy of this, the first album I ever bought 40 years ago. Sadly I got rid of the original a long time ago to replace with a CD, kinda wish I'd kept it now, just for posterity. This one's not the same issue - I distinctly remember 'The Clash' being printed in a vibrant orange, practically fluorescent, whereas it's red here - but I paid under a tenner for it and it was lovely to be reminded of it full-size. If only it wasn't so tatty (mine was well-loved but well-kept too) and didn't smell like a damp cellar, where it's probably been for the last 40 years. I'll never forget hearing Janie Jones for the first time when I asked them to put Side One on in my local record shop, Startime. I'd saved up my pocket money for months. I just had to have it.

Thanks and all the best 

C

Here's a version of Janie Jones that caught my eye recently. I hope it meets with C's approval.

Pris - Janie Jones



* In case anyone doesn't know what a Swedey McSwedeface is.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Ex Pistol


Steve Jones, one time Sex Pistol and perennial tearaway has, as they say, burned the candle at both ends for much of his adult life. These days he can be found at KLOS 95.5 on the FM dial in Los Angeles, where he presents Jonesy's Jukebox. It's a simple format: every weekday lunchtime, for two hours, he plays the records he wants to play, and invites guests on to the show he wants to talk to. Past alumni have included Jack Black, Johnny Depp, Pete Townshend, Iggy Pop, Ozzy Osbourne, John Lydon, Brian May, Courtenay Love and many many more.

The tunes are imperious, the conversation is relaxed and you can see that his rough edges have ever so slightly been smoothed out: he's mellowed. That's what moving from Shepherd's Bush to LA does to you; though he still doesn't suffer fools.

Jones has grown into, whether he likes it or not, an elder statesman of the punk generation. He's come a long way from the awkward spotty oik who swore openly at Bill Grundy on live tea time TV in Britain in the late seventies.

Here he is playing some beautiful Spanish guitar, jamming with Phil Collen from Def Leppard (please don't let that put you off) and making a lovely sound - fast forward to 9:40 if you don't want the preamble.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Be Careful, There's a Baby in the House


Uncle John

T minus 7
Little Sailor
Thomas Freddie George was born on 6 September at quarter past seven in the morning. The little fella weighed in at 7 lb. - 11.5 oz. and is everything proud parents Emma and Adrain could have wished for. And then some.

Today I made my first return visit to Yorkshire since emigrating four months ago to go and see him. And, as you can see, he's absolutely adorable. Emma passed him to me for a cuddle and he fell asleep in my arms almost immediately. I have this effect on people.

No caption required

This is for Emma and Adrian:
Loudon Wainwright - Be Careful, There's a Baby in the House

,

Sunday, 24 September 2017

1, 2, 3, 4, 5


Prompted by a couple of Phill Jupitus tweets last night, I've been carrying a whole bunch of XTC tunes in my head since I woke up at the crack of sparrows this morning.

I can't remember a time when XTC haven't featured on a mixtape/CD compilation/playlist at sometime or other in the forty years I've been knocking these things out. Beginning with Statue of Liberty🗽 back in 1977, the bunch of cheeky misfits from Swindon have written and produced some of the most intoxicating, quintessentially English, pop music spanning nearly four decades. The fact that Andy Partridge called time on their live career in 1982 due to crippling stage fright, never stopped them from hunkering down in the studio and consistently churning out magical album after magical album.

I'm sure everyone has their favourite favourite XTChoon they can't live without; with so many to chose from, it can only ever be a transient trio. I told Mr. Jupitus that Dear God, Grass and I'd Like That would be my first three out of the starting blocks. @FurryCanary commented that they formed a pleasing narrative arc; I never saw them like that, but I guess they do. I then remembered I'd nearly forgot The Meeting Place. Written by Colin Moulding it's probably the band's finest hour - from what is certainly their finest album.

I absolutely adore this quirky instrumental cover*. In fact it would be well at home in the little Folk club I belong to. Can you have a sea shanty without words. Or sea? An XTC shanty, perhaps.


Or if that doesn't float your sea vessel, how about this cracking lounge version of Senses Working Overtime?  It looks like it was recorded at a Route 66 roadside diner somewhere in Southern California. Further from Swindon and the miserable M4 I'd say it's impossible to get. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5...


* After having listened to it again several times over breakfast, it puts me in mind of the Camberwick Green/Trumpton/Chigley soundtracks. I'll get my coat...

Saturday, 23 September 2017

I think I needed it just a little bit more than you


I mentioned the gig at the Bodega a couple of weeks back with Ryan McMullan. As good as he was, and he was, I think the young lad supporting him matched him punch for punch. Ryan probably shaved it on points; but he didn't have a song in his set half as good as this.

Travis sang 'Needed It' a cappella that night from the front of the stage, totally unplugged. And such was the respect shown to all the musicians on the bill that night, you could have heard the proverbial pin drop when he played this.

Travis is a Tourist: Needed It

Monday, 18 September 2017

Get Lucky

The Daftness

You're an English rock band from the East Midlands: Derby, to be precise. You release an album and get a bit of interest, but gigs dry up and the record company lose interest; you can't get arrested. What to do?
Move to LA, of course! Put out a catchy single, get it played on every FM station from the Eastern Seaboard to the West Coast and perform it on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to a TV audience of kajillions. Then watch the offers pour in to open for the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Foo Fighters...

And, what won't do any harm, record a tasty (very tasty) cover and shoot a stylish promo film for it in black and white. In a pub. In Derby.

The Struts: Get Lucky


They say their influences are Queen, The Darkness, Aerosmith and the Stones. No shit, Sherlock.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Wearing aftershave ironically - file under 'First World problems'

In the mid 90s, when Loungecore had its day in the sun, I didn't need poking with a pointed stick to make me clean out my parents' record collection. Or pay silly money for lounge compilations (back when CDs were still selling for an eye watering RRP of £16) full of Tony Hatch*, Alyn Ainsworth and the Harry Roche Constellation: I sort of loved this stuff anyway. So when clubs like Blow Up and Fabric were having Lounge nights and hipsters (not the hipsters we know today) were crate digging for the easiest of easy listening long-players, I didn't have to listen to this stuff ironically anymore. I could just listen to it.


But how does it work with men's fragrances - I'm talking 1970s aftershaves here? I remember writing that when I was seventeen I thought Blue Stratos was the last word in men's toiletries. At a time when men's grooming comprised soap on a rope and low budget splash-ons - Brut, Denim, Hai Karate, Old Spice, Tabac et al - it was only Blue Stratos that warranted repeat usage. Once you took away the aroma of stale fags and beer from most pubs back in the seventies and early eighties, the only smell left in the room (apart from BO) would have been a couple of wide boys at the bar who'd spent all there disposable income drowning themselves in Brut 33.


So I recently spotted online that you can still buy Blue Stratos. Whether or not it went away and has now come back, or just never went away in the fist place is anyone's guess. Anyway, I had to investigate: would it come in the same distinctive blue bottle? Yes it does. Would I still get that same frisson when I unscrewed the top? Er, no, not really. And, more importantly, would it still smell the same, a smell that would take me back to a time and place? Mmm, sort of. (Or would it smell like an industrial household cleaning product?). And, even if it did smell the same, would I be able to wear it? And by that, I of course mean would I be able to wear it for real, or would it just be an ironic gesture gently reminding me that a much younger version of me would wear this scent in the feint hope of pulling fair maidens who, like me, knew no better? I'll get back to you on that one.

Hardly a ringing endorsement - the jury are still holed up in their hotel, they could be there quite a while yet. Without going into a laboured review of Blue Stratos 2.0 and banging on about floral top notes & musky base notes, the bottom line is that it's 'quite pleasant, actually.' And no, it doesn't smell like an industrial household cleaning product. Not on me, anyway...

* I make no apologies for digging out this Longecore classic again. Tony Hatch can do no wrong in my book.

The Tony Hatch Orchestra: Soul Coaxing

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Holding Me Down

It was something of a Northern Irish showcase last night at the Bodega in Nottingham. Portaferry boy Ryan McMullan, top of the bill, supported by Travis is a Tourist (Belfast) and Stephen McCartney (Bangor).

Playing to a packed house, the three lads all put in stunning sets and were all visibly moved by the warm reception they received: if they like you at the Bodega they really do show it.


There will be a longer piece on all three of them in the next week or two, but, as a taster, I just want to share this song with you: Holding Me Down by Ryan McMullan has been playing in the car all week, and he wound up his set with it last night before rushing to the back of the room to man his own merch stand.

After signing a couple of CDs for me he described how fast things were happening for him (he really is gaining traction in Europe) and how well the recent German and Dutch gigs had gone. Nottingham was the first night of the UK and Ireland leg of the tour - they then go all over the place, finishing up in Cork, on October 15; I haven't ruled out a quick dash over the Irish Sea for that one. Yes, he is that good.

Ryan McMullan - Holding Me Down

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Crossing the Red Sea


It's Sunday. A day of rest. You might go to church. Or temple. You might clean the car. You might even mow the lawn. For what it's worth I'm a lapsed Catholic, I take the wheels to the car wash down the road apiece and I let my next door neighbour cut what little grass we have 'as it's no bother' to him. Thank you Sat.

Sunday is also the day when British Rail decide to do their 'engineering' works. This will inevitably mean the network operates a reduced service, resulting in (even) slower trains and, worse still, no porters to carry your matching luggage from carriage to cab. Hang on a minute, about those porters...

This little outpost on the digital network has had some minor engineering works of its own carried out today. Hopefully, without any disruption whatsoever. Can you see what's been going on? This question doesn't have a right or wrong answer by the way. Because if you said 'yes', it means you can see the (subtle) advertising placed beneath each of my posts. If you had said 'no', then you probably haven't been offended by the serendipitous ads that, I think, are quite in-keeping with the look and, dare I say it, style of my blog.

Let me explain (whilst at the same time assure you that I have neither sold out or part exchanged my soul with the Devil*).

Even Monkeys Fall Out Of Trees has been going nearly eight years. Back in 2007 it started life as nothing more than a weekly diet of pop ephemera - stuff that had been cluttering my brain for far too long and needed expunging. Putting it 'out there' (in the nefarious world commonly known as social media) was cathartic. I enjoyed writing it (and still do, tremendously) and my 'readership' for want of a better word seemed to get it. And throughout its life it has transmogrified into a cross between a social & cultural documentary from the standpoint of a white middle class male of a certain age, and the ramblings of a mad man.
This is where you will find out who invented the Venn Diagram, what makes chips and curry sauce a meal of Kings and why the Sweet (and not the Beatles) were probably the best rock and roll band in the world.

My modest two up two down blog now gets just shy of 30,000 page views a month. Every month. Incredible isn't it? I think so anyway. And that was the thing that made me think (and I know I'm not the first blogger to think this, or the last) "Can I earn some pin money doing this and, at he same time, keep the look and feel of the blog and not piss my readers off?"

Of course it's way too early to begin to answer that question. The ads only went live at midnight.

What you will see, I think you'll agree, are ads that fit. So far I've seen ads for audiobooks, tee shirts and guitars. Stuff I have no problem with. I'm not selling arms, tobacco or cars here. Or washing powder. I'll leave that to Danny Baker, and James Hunt before him. These messages will, I'm hoping, slot in nicely - font, colours etc. with the rest of the blog. Tell me if I'm wrong, but I think it works. Whether or not I actually see any pounds, shillings and pence out of this is another thing. That would, quite literally, be a bonus.

I look forward to writing each and every post on tis blog like you wouldn't believe. The buzz of the blank screen suddenly filling up with words, my words, is just as big a thrill now as its always been. And that's because, nine times out of ten I write from the hip. Yes, there's an element of fact checking going on - I was a professional writer in another life - but, and I hope this comes across,  I try not to get too bogged down with timetables, regular features, and lists - content that can turn writing for pleasure into a chore. That said, nobody likes a list more than me. But I'm far more likely to present it like this, than in a chart rundown sort of way. Themes are great too, but as a lover of words, you're far more likely to encounter this sort of thing, than a bunch of misfit songs with a tenuous link. OK, I've done the odd tenuous link too, guilty as charged.

Will it last, I hear you cry. The blogs - definitely. This advertising malarkey - who knows? Will it make me a fortune? No, of course it won't. I've read testimonies from fellow bloggers who basically see two bob and a conker from it. But as I said earlier, money is not the driver here. And if at anytime the ads take over or distract from the main event, then, to paraphrase Jim Reeves, they'll have to go.

* Actually, I've already sold my soul to the Devil.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Goodbye Girl


Rereading 'Squeeze - Song by Song' (Chris Difford & Glenn Tilbrook with Jim Drury, Sanctuary 2004), Glenn Tilbrook said that Goodbye Girl was their breakthrough song in America. By changing the line 'My wife has moved to Guernsey' to 'My wife has moved to Boston', it opened up New York, Boston and the whole of the East Coast; though the Americans still didn't have a clue what lino was.
It was pointed out to Tilbrook much later that the tune is very reminiscent of the Muppets theme, a fact that still keeps him awake at nights. It's time to put on make up...🎵

Chris Difford & Glenn Tilbrook - Goodbye Girl


I mentioned Song by Song above, a compelling insight into Difford and Tilbrook's much lauded songwriting partnership. Another tome, a natural companion piece, is Chris Dfford's recently published memoir 'Some Fantastic Place - My Life in and out of Squeeze'. One of the (rave) reviews read: 'Anyone who can read should go out and buy a copy.' Ah, Mrs. Difford, bless you.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

When we sing together, that's the best of all

I was only telling someone today, if I say I'm gonna do something I do it. That's how I roll. Sorry, I can't believe I just said 'that's how I roll.'

Anyway, if you remember this (it was only May this year), then you'll be pleased to know I've joined a choir. A community choir. I went along on Monday with absolutely no preconceptions (OK, I went along on Monday with a list of preconceptions as long as yer arm) and, I have to say, had a ball. Summertime, Lean on Me, Amazing Grace...I really enjoyed it. So much so I said I'd go back. Well, with the puppy dog eyes they were giving me, I couldn't not. Even the tramp who stumbled in half way through begging for change didn't put me off (we keep it real in NG5). More updates as my choir career unfolds. I can hear Carnegie Hall calling.

Pete Morton - When We Sing Together

Sunday, 3 September 2017

What's so funny?


Backed by a band comprising a bunch of Kendo Nagaski lookalikes, Nick Lowe has found his second wind; it may even be his third. Los Straitjackets, the surf instrumentalists who all wear designer Mexican wrestling masks on stage, have given Lowe a springboard to getting his tunes in front of a whole new audience. The Straitjackets are, seemingly, still riding the Pulp Fiction wave that saw the likes of Dick Dale & The Deltones appearing on uber cool Tarantino soundtracks back in the late nineties. And it's a two way carretera - they've now recorded a bunch of Lowe's songs, bastardised his Jesus of Cool artwork and are discovering Lowe's fans dig them too.

Here they all are in the Current 89.3 studio recording a track Lowe gave to Elvis Costello in the late seventies. It's now been given a Mexican twist, loads of reverb and even a bit of tremolo. What's not to like? Apart from the fact that Lowe is sharing a room with a group of masked men, that is.

Nick Lowe with Los Straitjackets - (What's so Funny 'bout) Peace, Love & Understanding


A little easier on the eye, maybe, is this live clip of Los Straitjackets live on stage with 'The World Famous Pontani Sisters' - burlesque for the surf generation?

Los Straitjackets - Brooklyn Slide

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Coffee?

He won't thank me for reminding him, but Glenn Tilbrook, 50% shareholder of Squeeze Ltd., said goodbye to his fifties today. I'm sure if you trawl the back issues of this blog you'll find plenty of references to both him and his common law songwriting partner, Chris Difford. To say their partnership has been rocky would be an understatement, but, not for nothing, were they once compared to Lennon & McCartney. And rightly so.

I've seen Glenn live in so many different permutations I really have lost count. And in all those times - Glenn solo, Glenn with Squeeze (with and without Jools), Glenn with the Fluffers, Glenn with Chris - I've only ever seen him play Black Coffee in Bed on the guitar. But, here he is vamping a few chords on the old Joanna:

Glenn Tilbrook: Black Coffee in Bed


Glenn Tilbrook - 60 today. Happy Birthday Glenn!

Monday, 28 August 2017

Warm hands

My second* favourite picture of James & Janneke
James and Janni made a whistle stop visit this weekend; it's so much easier for them, now we don't live in the arse end of nowhere. As always, we crammed a lot into the 24 hours they spent with us. We even had a 'conference call' with James' pop - a kind of low budget two-way family favourites. And Gordon, to his eternal credit, was able to announce to the pair he was doing a spot of giving with warm hands. Grandparents, eh? They never cease to amaze.

* This being my favourite

Friday, 25 August 2017

Three Faced

It's called 'Doing a Swede' - named after the young man who thought it would be a hoot to have your photograph taken holding the first album you ever bought with your own money; whilst at the same time doing a rudimentary version of the Dance of the Seven Veils.

Anyway, as you can see, Mr. Swede lost his cherry to Marc Bolan, I took the Sweet behind the bike sheds and Alyson, well...it would appear Alyson let Mr. Presley into her boudoir after lights out. Allegedly.

If you still have your first 33 and you don't mind sharing a Polaroid of yourself in the kitchen clutching said artefact (looking only mildly silly), then now's the time to say 'There's no time like the present' and ping the image over to Medd Towers.

I'd particularly like to hear (and see) regular (and irregular) readers' debut platters. So Mondo &PileyCMartinMark, Skirky Rol and anyone else out there who can still locate that first piece of black plastic they bought in 19 Seventy/Eighty, come on down. 

Monday, 21 August 2017

75BC


Billy Connolly will be 75 in November. As part of his upcoming birthday celebrations, three acclaimed Scottish artists were commissioned to capture the Big Yin's likeness and present Billy with their unique portraits.

Jack Vettriano

BBC Scotland have made a beautiful and touching programme recording Billy's return to his native Glasgow where, through a series of his memories, archive footage and present day travelogue, Glasgow and Billy were shown very much in the here and now. Although both city and comedian have improved with age, Connolly now suffers with Parkinson's: his mind is still as sharp as a tack, but these days, during his (still impeccable) stand up shows, his once animated self is now similar to that of a 78 record playing at 33.

John Byrne

And the love the man generates, not just from the artists - John Byrne, Jack Vettriano and Rachel MacLean - but his audiences and the Glaswegians on the streets, is nothing short of discipleship. This sort of adoration is usually only afforded to the recently deceased.

Rachel MacLean
Finally, after Billy was given his works of art, there was still one more birthday surprise in store.

Unbeknownst to BC each of the portraits had been blown up to 50 feet high and granted mural status in three locations in the city.

Watch the programme yourself to see the great man's reaction - it's up on the iPlayer until 4 September. You'll be glad you did, believe me.

Gallowgate, near Barrowland Park

Old Wynd, off Osborne Street

Dixon Street, near St. Enoch Square



Saturday, 19 August 2017

Shelbyville

Shelby, Shelby & Shelby
For all its faults, and it has many, believe me (dodgy Birmingham accents, PJ Harvey all over the soundtrack, ropey dialogue), Peaky Blinders is actually getting under my skin - imagine Deadwood set in the West Midlands. I never thought I'd get past Season 1 Episode 1, but now, thanks to those good people at Netflix, I'm at the point of no return: S2:E4. If they hadn't have decamped to Camden Town and brought Tom Hardy in I think I would have kicked it into the long grass long ago. 

But Christ, how hard can it be to do a Brummie accent? Nearly all the cast must think Birmingham is on the Wirral. Then again, Timothy Spall did set the bar quite high in Auf Wiedersehen Pet. And Vic and Bob.

Anyway, it skips along at quite a pace and if you don't mind a script liberally carpet-bombed with 'f*cks' then give it a go. Nick Cave sings the theme tune.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Red Right Hand

Friday, 18 August 2017

Miss You

 I'm no apologist for the Rolling Stones; they don't need me to fight their corner. That's what they pay their management for. And I'm sure the Stones' global fanbase is more than capable of fighting off any naysayers. 
 However, I did see recently that some nitwit had written: 'The Rolling Stones haven't released anything worthwhile since 1972.'
  So Angie, Heartbreaker, It's Only Rock'n' Roll, Fool to Cry & Start Me Up are not worthy? Or Miss You? 


I played my stripped down version of Jumpin' Jack Flash on Wednesday and it went down really well. That's prompted me to record it properly. As soon as it's done I'll put a link up.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Schooled

I was invited to a school reunion a couple of years back; I think I had some drying paint that needed watching that night, so I politely declined. Actually, I didn't: my email had not an ounce of politeness contained within its hastily typed two lines. Sorry Andy.

So why*, therefore, have I just ordered a new novel which, judging by the PR blurb I've been reading, is nothing more than a lid lifting exercise on my old school? (A school, can I just say, run by a sadistic, right wing, child-hating man of the cloth - ably assisted by his mortarboard & gown clad henchmen). Only the names have been changed, apparently.

*I'll tell you why. It's written by someone I haven't clapped eyes on in thirty odd years who was in the year above me at said educational establishment. Nick Barrett, sorry, Nicholas Barrett, to give the author his full title, was a good lad. I think he was on the minibus that took us to Charlton in 1976 to see the Who. To say Nick was a Who fan is like saying the Pope is a bit religious. In fact, Nick's Who connection forms one of only three things I can really remember about him. These three things being:


1. He always wore a full length fur coat. Keith Moon gave it to him. I know, you can't make it up can you?

2. Nick played drums in a quasi metal/punk band called Pagan. I remember Bill Peake was on bass and they would open their set with Neat Neat Neat.

3. He drank in the Beehive. We all did.



Anyway, Michaelmas Term (Or - Why is that Boy Naked?) is winging its way to Medd Towers as we speak. I may have to write a follow up piece.

The Damned - Neat Neat Neat (Unsurprisingly, no footage of Pagan exists)



Friday, 11 August 2017

Up Up and Away

The passing of Glen Campbell this week was sad. Very sad. But as I touched on back in April, the Campbell we all knew and loved had already gone. We'll miss him, I'm sure, and none more so than Jimmy Webb: this week has seen as many column inches given over to the writer of Wichita Lineman, as the singer. And rightly so. It's been labelled the finest song ever written in the twentieth century. I for one wouldn't disagree with that.

As well as the other ubiquitous hits he scored for Campbell, Webb also wrote songs (prolifically) for many other artists. This is one of my favourites. A friend of mine is going to a Balloon Fiesta this weekend, so it's quite fitting. Check out the 5th's natty threads.

The 5th. Dimension - Up Up and Away


It's Jimmy's birthday next week - he'll be seventy-one. Happy Birthday Jimmy, from all at Medd Towers.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Live Bugg

Scott Bugg, formerly of the Swines and now front man of the Vital Few, is getting loads of radio play at the moment. That's what happens when you write instantly memorable songs - it's a sure fire way to get playlisted; his younger cousin plows a similar furrow. If he doesn't get a similar lucky break then it certainly won't be for the lack of trying.

I'm hoping to catch Scott on Saturday night in town supporting the Flavells. I'll be very surprised if he doesn't play Taxman; not the only Fabs reference in this contagious new Beatle-esque song of his.


Scott Bugg and the Vital Few: Taxman

Sunday, 6 August 2017

This one's for Jack

I'm currently reading Life - Keith Richards' memoirs. Honest (brutally so, in places), affectionate, and very entertaining. The story of how the Stones came to be is told through a post-war prism so very English; how Richards' describes Dartford, and later London, is as gritty as it comes; the total antithesis of Austin Powers' cut and paste psychedelic London. But, at the same time, every bit as funny.

I really wanted to know how he and Jagger wrote - who did the heavy lifting, who came up with the choruses, where the riffs (those riffs!) came from etc. And Richards' doesn't disappoint. He lifts the lid (although his recall may not be 20/20) on the division of labour and how the credits should be divvied up.

Here's Richards talking about Jumpin' Jack Flash: "The lyrics came from a grey dawn at Redlands [Richards' stately pile in Sussex]. Mick and I had been up all night, it was raining outside, and there was the sound of these boots outside the window, clump clump clump, belonging to my gardener, Jack Dyer. It woke Mick up. He said 'What's that?', I said 'Oh, that's Jack. That's jumping Jack.' I started to work around the phrase on the guitar, which was in open tuning, singing the phrase 'Jumping Jack'. Mick said 'Flash' and suddenly we had this phrase with a great rhythm and ring to it."

Since reading that I've stripped the song right back, slowed it down and turned into something a lot folkier. Keef, and Mick for that matter, would probably have something to say about it. However, the chances of them ever hearing my version are pretty remote, wouldn't you say? Though I will put it up when I've recorded it.

In the meantime, Richards has plenty to say (as you can imagine) on a whole host of topics. Here are five of my favourite Keef Quotes:

* "I don't have a problem with drugs. I have a problem with the Police."

* "The only thing Mick and I disagree about is the band, the music and what we do."

* "I'm Sagittarius - half-man, half-horse. With a licence to shit in the street."

* "You can't accuse me of anything I haven't already confessed to."

* "I'm all for a quiet life, I just didn't get one."

And here is Jumpin' Jack Flash. As honest as he is, most of the time, Richards never credited Bill Wyman for the amazing bass line which tracks the song throughout. And the video, rather than the usual promo film, I've chosen this montage which has some terrific candid photos of Richards and his band mates.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

John Peel Wasn't

He really wasn't
James and Janneke treated us to an exquisite lunch this Sunday just gone. It was followed by a totally impromptu boozy afternoon in one of Lincoln's finest drinking dens. I really do need to update my database of treasured pubs.

Apart from being surrounded by beautiful people and some some quite sensational  beers, we were royally entertained by two old boys manning the Wheels of Steel. Each was sporting a trademark titfer - no surprise then that they went by the name of Hats & Decks - see what they did there? They opened proceedings with Midnight Rambler; what can I say? Not an obvious choice (Start Me Up is what most lazy jocks would have gone with), but it set the tone perfectly for the rest of the day: they didn't play a bad record all afternoon. Hats (or was it Decks, I can never tell them apart) let us do our own crate digging and for a good thirty minutes we held court. At some point (around the time of pint four or five) they played the tune that will forever remind me of listening to John Peel in my bedroom in the seventies. And no, it's not Teenage Kicks.

Grinderswitch - Pickin' the Blues

Sunday, 30 July 2017

GO!



On yer Marcs
Getz Set
GO!

Tommy Ramone wanted a singalong song in the band's set: 'Something the Bay City Rollers might chant' he was quoted as saying. Blitzkrieg Bop came out in February 1976 and was their first single: punk was officially born. It was also, quite possibly, the final nail in the Rollers' coffin.
Quite fitting then that they love it north of the border: 'Hey, Ho, Glasgow!'

Friday, 28 July 2017

Getz Set

This year marks the 90th. anniversary of the birth of Stan Getz - one of the truly great tenor saxophonists & band leaders who worked his way up through the ranks to become (and if he were alive today he'd probably hate me for saying it) a by word in Bossa Nova and Samba: in 1964 he recorded the definitive version of The Girl from Ipanema with Astrud Gilberto.
He started out as a foot soldier in Jack Teagarden's band in the forties and later with Woody Herman and Stan Kenton, before branching out on his own. He would go on to make many career defining albums with other jazz luminariess including Chet Baker, Oscar Peterson and Gerry Mulligan.

Never one to be type cast, in 1990 he teamed up with Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn to lay down a beautiful solo on The Road, taken from Everything but the Girl's fifth album The Language of Life. Getz sadly died the following year aged just 64.

Amazon are currently selling an eight album, four CD box set for a little over seven quid. What's not to like? You really should take the plunge.

Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd - Desafinado


Stan Getz (1927-1991)