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




CORRECTION 13.11.18

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.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

This

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

Groovy
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
Addictive
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

Matched


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

Heartbreaker

Unmasked
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)

Monday, 17 September 2018

All Change


Crows have been looming large just recently, one way or another. I'm not normally someone who goes looking for hidden meanings in this sort of stuff, as it's usually just a hop, skip and a jump to places I'd rather not go, thank you vey much. But... if yer humble crow can shine any light on events to come - in some sort of totemic way - and if indeed they are an omen to the future, then I think, for what it's worth, they represent change.
Even if it just gets that little fella on the middle row - third from the right - turned back up the right way. Cos that's how I've felt these last few days, can I just tell you.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Egypt? I Don't Know


It will not have escaped your attention that Paul McCartney has released yet another solo album. His 76th, or is that how old he is? I lose track. Time was when such an occasion was marked at Medd Towers by hotfooting it down to my local record emporium and standing in line for the pleasure of topping up Macca's latest offshore bank account.

These days I leave it to others* to try before I buy. And when I say buy, I mean rip the audio off of the Youtube video and chuck it in my digital vault where it will sit unlistened to for the rest of eternity. Sorry Macca, I know this sort of behaviour doesn't butter your parsnips, but you really have squeezed me dry over the years. The pips really are squeaking now.

*Anyway, I've let one of the best writers around, Martin Hodges, be my eyes and ears on this one - and I too think I Don't Know is the standout track. It really is. In fact, if McCartney ever released it as 7" single on blue vinyl (and put, say, 'Jet' on the B-side), I'd pay a couple of quid for it. That I do know.

Macca - I Don't Know (2018)

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Bath Bombs

We all know that major cities including London, Liverpool, Nottingham, Manchester, Hull, Sheffield and Newcastle took a pasting during WW2. Industrial cities, strategic ports, places where they made stuff - in particular, munitions - were all high on Mr. Hitler's 'To Bomb' list.

But they came after cultural and historical cities too. Like Bath. Just 13 miles inland from Bristol (another of the Luftwaffe's prime targets), the beautiful city of Bath bore the brunt of a blitz so fierce that between April 25th. and 27th. 1942 it was utterly annihilated. Over 400 people perished and a more than 1,000 injured, with nearly 20,000 buildings suffering devastation.

Here's a short film telling the story.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Man and Machine

If the designers of football shirts think that they are in any way part of the fashion industry, they are sadly deluded. I'd ban them in a heartbeat from being worn anywhere other than a football pitch at 3 o'clock on a Saturday afternoon.

That said, in their 1973/4 season, Chelsea came up with an away shirt so f**king sexy it is still talked about 45 years after it was put out to pasture.

You know what it's like when you see a photograph and think to yourself 'God, that is so good.'  Here is one of those aforementioned photos.

Long story shirt short: Charlie Cooke (Chelsea, Scotland, Los Angeles Aztecs) pictured in 1974 crouched in front of a matching Mark 1 Ford Escort RS Mexico. Nothing more to add, really.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Tired

Just back from Liverpool where sleep was in short supply*. John Lennon wrote I'm So Tired whilst in India studying meditation with the Maharishi in 1968. After three weeks of quiet, and not so quiet, contemplation, it was driving him insane; to the point that he was plagued by insomnia. And it is a very John song. Every line is pure Lennon. Paul McCartney admits he had absolutely nothing to do with it.

This is for anyone who's having trouble getting to sleep tonight.



The Beatles - I'm So Tired


* Not getting to bed much before 5:00 a.m. probably didn't help

Thursday, 30 August 2018

She gives me everything, and tenderly


Liverpool tomorrow. I'm training it - using split tickets for the first time - ETA into Lime Street around lunchtime. Ray's flying in from Belfast, due to land around the same time, so it'll be a spot of bush tucker in the Philharmonic, and then we'll see where the fancy takes us.

We're not expecting to see Macca during our two day stopover, though if he did care to join us I'm sure he'd be good company. There are many questions I'd love to put to him, not least: 'Why, at the age of 76, are you still getting bent out of shape about songs being credited to Lennon & McCartney and not McCartney & Lennon or, in the case of 'Yesterday', McCartney & Lennon can whistle? Life's too short Paulie, get over yourself.

If I've got this right, these two Hard Day's Night period classics - which, as you can see (above) were paired as an 'A' & 'B' side for their American release - were written by the pair thus:

And I Love Her (1964)- McCartney, with Lennon writing the middle eight* 


If I Fell (1964) - Lennon*


*Unless of course you, or indeed Macca, know different