Saturday, 19 August 2017


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 are 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


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