Saturday, 21 April 2018

Shadow Dancing

Surf's Up
Hank Marvin has got a lot to answer for: when surfing (literally) Youtube I don't think I've ever seen a single 60s combo playing their then current instrumental hit of the day and not do the  Shadows Shuffle. The Chantays are no exception.

Their 1963 hit Pipeline is a tour de force. It's impossible to keep still when it comes on the radio. Not that many radio stations in 2018 go in for a lot of surf.

As with the Ventures, this video clip is magical. When the group introduce themselves you just know that this is the biggest night of their lives; and, who knows, maybe it still is.

The Chantays - Pipeline

P.S. Many years later Johnny Thunders really took the song to town - this live version even ended up on the Sopranos soundtrack. A bigger accolade you'd be hard pushed to achieve.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Walk Don't Run

I saw this photograph on Twitter this morning. The caption read: 'When you don't want people running down the hallway.'

So the music kind of chose itself today. This is from a Surf compilation album I bought the first time I went to California back in the late 90s. My friend Riggsby took me to a Tower Records store in Mountain View store that was still open at midnight. It's by the Ventures and, for a while, would regularly appear on C90 mix-tapes I was knocking out during that time.

The clip below is over 50 years old and is a superb snapshot in time. It's got everything - the 'group' trying to look cool but failing miserably (the Shadows dance routine is priceless), girls in the audience chewing bubble gum like it's going out of fashion and a backdrop that looks like it was put together just minutes before the red light went on. Perfect.

The Ventures - WALK DON'T RUN (1961)

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Call the Fire Brigade!

Janet [L] & Sharon - On Fire!
When band members cite reasons for leaving a band then 'musical differences' must be the most well worn of them all: cliché central. But that's precisely why I, together with Sharon and Janet (pictured above), left our last choir and decided over a drink one night to start our own: CHOIR ON FIRE!

We start proper a week on Monday and already we're getting a lot of interest. The venue's booked, the set list is taking shape and we're getting ready to sing. And we'll sing anything from Abba to Zappa - that's what it says in the Nottingham Post!

Thursday, 12 April 2018

King of Rome

I very nearly back-heeled Carrington Triangle last night; it was a foul evening, but I closed the front door behind me, turned the collar up on my coat and strode out. And I'm so glad I did.
I knew there was something about Julie when she walked in the room about ten minutes or so into the session. She sang a couple of songs including The King of Rome from Dave Sudbury's enchanting book, and I knew I had to ask her to join our choir. She has an an absolutely fabulous voice, and I was bowled over right from the off.
During the interval I introduced myself and found out we share a real passion for making bread - Julie runs a community bakery - and actively promotes the connection between singing and baking. Please take a look at her blog Eat Bake Sing - you'll be amazed at what she gets up to. She also invited me to one of her workshops, so can't wait till we organise that.

King of Rome was a pigeon, owned by a Mr. C. H. Hudson, who won a race from Italy to England in 1913. He flew, bless him, all the way from Rome to Derby, a distance of 1,001 miles. No surprise that only 62 of the 1,200 released birds made it back to Blighty. The little fella lived to a ripe old age and died in 1958. He's subsequently had a radio play written about him, and been immortalised in print and song.

Here are two quite different versions of the song. The first, sung unaccompanied by Lucy Ward, is how you'll probably hear it in most folk clubs:

The Unthanks (I have rather a soft spot for the Unthank sisters), on the other hand, give it the full brass treatment courtesy of the Brighouse & Rastrick Band. Excellent versions both.

Not forgetting little Poppy-May

Monday, 9 April 2018

Waltzer Girls

The Fair would come to town every year. For three days they would shut the Market Place off at both ends and the fun would begin. Dodgems. Waltzers. T Rex turned up to 11. And girls; that's what I remember anyway, though not necessarily in that order.

Standing on the running board that ran round the Waltzers was as near as me and my friends ever got to being Jim MacLaine; the louder you scream, the faster we go.

Trying to look at least two years older than we really were and hoping our ridiculously wide Oxford Bags wouldn't get snagged in the machinery, whilst at the same time road-testing some lame chat up lines on girls from the High School, was precarious to say the least. Sometimes they'd jump on with you, more often than not they told you to "do one." Even when you said you'd pay. But still, even when they didn't acquiesce, the view from the touch line often made up for the disappointment: the sight of a well turned ankle and all that...

I was reminded of Waltzer Girls when I was reading C. J. Tudor's The Chalk Man last week. If you've not already read this latest bestseller, then I won't spoil it for you. Suffice to say, the story of Waltzer Girl runs through her novel like a stick of rock. I loved it.

And with the magic of social media I was able to tell C. J. Tudor (Caz) I loved it. And she thanked me for taking the time. Bless her.

I didn't tell her about my Waltzer Girls though.

Friday, 6 April 2018

A Proper Charlie

I picked up a new car last week; so it goes. It's black, and it's rather nippy. But they're not the two things I have to know when I take delivery of a vehicle. They are:

* Which side is the filler cap on?
* What's the sound system like?

And, as I've discovered over the last few days, I can tell you:

* On the right
* Not bad at all 

And here's the thing - I'm now listening to all my music from an SD card. That's right, a billion tunes on a piece of plastic no bigger than my finger nail. There never were such times, as my late mother-in-law used to say.  

Charlie Rich has been cropping up a lot. I absolutely adore the music of Charlie Rich. I don't need any excuse, whatsoever, to listen to Charlie Rich. And I don't have to apologise for dropping Charlie Rich into the same paragraph four times. Told you.

Charlie Rich - Behind Closed Doors

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Avril à Paris

James & Janneke - April in Paris

[L] Sur le train

[R] La Tour Eiffel

Monday, 2 April 2018


Mother's Ruin #Gin
It's sleeting. It's cold. It's still dark at nearly 9 o'clock in the morning. That can only mean one thing - the festival season is upon us!

Gin for breakfast
That's right, kicking off in a little under two hours is 'The Sherwood Gin Festival'. It being a Bank Holiday Monday, my friends have decided that I can't possibly have anything better to do today than drink copious amount of what was once described as Mother's Ruin*. They know me so well.

*You'd be run out of town on a rail these days for using that outdated term. It's strictly hashtag gin now - the new craft beer - which, I've been promised (and the only reason I'm going today, to be honest), is also being served today. Don't get me wrong, I love the stuff, but a gin only diet would mean I'd be an early faller for sure, and, after about 2:00 p.m. could not be held responsible for my actions.

Frozen Gin - A Lass of Ripley (2008)

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Fooled Again

I made it all the way to l2 o'clock without reading about any spaghetti trees or safari parks breeding Velociraptors.

And neither did I tell the bloke in the corner shop this morning that his shoelaces were untied*.

Tom Petty - Fooled Again (1977) 

* Well OK, maybe I did

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Brought to you in Technicolor

Feed the birds, tuppence a bag
I love this photograph. That's my mother on the right, and her younger sister Carmel (my favourite auntie) taken in Trafalgar Square c.1954. Mum would have been 20, Carmel barely 18. It's quite obvious, looking at them over 60 years ago, they hadn't got a care in the world - their whole lives ahead of them.

Although mum's not around anymore, I decided to bring this photo to life, blow it up, frame it, and give one copy to Carmel and one to my dad - both very much alive and kicking.

I've been following Andy the Photo Doctor (@andythephotoDR) on Twitter for a while now - he restores historic black & white football photos and, with the knowledge of old football strips, can kickstart a once tired tired image and make it look like it was taken only yesterday. I asked Andy if he would do a commission for me, we agreed a price and then it was down to business.

As mum and Auntie Carmel weren't wearing football shirts the day they visited the capital in the mid-fifties, my only markers were hair colours and maybe the livery of mum's coat. My email to Andy last week must have read like gibberish: 'Mum had dark hair in her twenties, not black as such, but not brown either. Her coat would probably have been dark blue - but I haven't really got a clue. Am I making sense?'

No, but then, when did I ever?

But fair play to Andy, it was only a couple of days later when I got this sneak preview - the crop on the right (Duffle Coat Man had to go) was my edit. I liked this version so much I took it to my picture framer straight away.

And then, only a couple of hours ago I got the finished article. Again I'll probably crop matey on the right - you never know who's behind you when you're having your photo taken, do you? In an ideal world I'd also want to air brush the guy standing directly behind mum; but no worries, I'm absolutely made up with the final image.

It's Carmel's birthday soon, and Father's Day, so when I get them back from the framers I'll hand deliver both presents and watch as they peel away the wrapping, and travel back in time...

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Hey there Mister Blue

Mr. Blue. He invented glam, you know
A songwriter friend of mine came over the other Saturday afternoon with his guitar - we played, drank gallons of tea and swapped a few ideas. He produced a melody and some snatches of lyrics he was turning into a new song. He told me it's premise was all the girls he'd ever gone out with were together in one room - and what they'd say.

"Are you mad?" I think I may have blurted out. But he wouldn't listen. "Finish that song mate and there's a whole world of pain coming your way, nothing's so sure."

However, it did get me thinking. What if all the people I'd ever done a mixtape for all congregated in the same room? "Fuck me," they'd say to one another, I thought he only put 'Car 67' on mine just to wind me up. And what was 'Sunscreen' all about? But I really liked that bluegrass version of 'White Wedding' he put on mine." A lot of the blokes may remember me putting this on their CD compilations: "I think I got yours" one of the chaps would say to the girl in the corner wondering what she was doing in a room full of strangers - all clutching a drink in one hand and a C90 cassette in the other.

"Oh! Oh! Who remembers that song by the crazy Bollywood guy? I still dance around the kitchen to that one!"

Mohammed Rafi - Jaan Pehechan Ho (1965)

Some of my 'Best Bits' would be playing thru the PA and a few in the room may get dewy eyed about Another Train. Others maybe jumping on the furniture when Block Buster! comes on. Not pretty.

But I wonder how long it would be before Barry Blue's 'Do You Wanna Dance' entered the conversation? "He used to tell me Barry Blue invented glam", one would say, and someone else would pipe up "And did he put it on at the start, just after Gene Hunt shouting "Don't move you're surrounded by armed bastards?"



Barry Blue - Do You Wanna Dance (1973)

For Alyson - even though I've never done her a mixtape

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Son Of My Father

The father of two close friends of mine (brothers) died suddenly last week. It’s the first immediate family loss they’ve had to deal with, and they’re taking it hard; it's understandable - the death of someone so pivotal in your life will always knock you off your perch.

We all deal with bereavement in our own way – there is no right or wrong way. Just your way. But no matter how you choose to handle the fall out and the very fact that that person is no longer around, it’s vital that the memories you retain accurately reflect the deceased. Keep the latest revision, or at least one that you’re comfortable with, and file it in your emotional hard drive where it can be retrieved easily and without (too much) pain. Bloody hell, I sound like a counsellor.

Loudon Wainwright has built a career on writing songs about his family. This is one he wrote just after his dad left the building for the last time.

For M & T

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Can you pull a few strings?

Could this seat be any bigger?

He doesn't walk like a Thunderbird puppet
Yesterday was kind of special: I'd got tickets for Thunderbirds Are Go at Broadway Cinema including a pre-screening Q&A with the late Gerry Anderson's son, Jamie.

There's something about sitting on the front row at the pictures - if it's good enough for Jamie Anderson and Scott Tracy, then it's certainly good enough for me. Scott was very quiet all afternoon, however Jamie was more articulate; he told me afterwards it was the first time he'd ever seen the film on the big screen.
Knee high

I also asked him how cool it must have been as a kid to have Gerry Anderson as your dad. "Kind of," he said, "But, between the ages of 11 and 16, never a day went by without someone at school asking me why I didn't walk like a Thunderbird puppet." A small price to pay, I'd have said.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Phil Cooper

Phil Cooper - Shakin' All Over

I found Phil Cooper on my Twitter feed. He's always plugging gigs and is, seemingly, forever on the road - there must be a bit of Bob Dylan in him, me thinks. His new single, Shake it Up, was released earlier this month and is so catchy it's obscene. So what makes this bespectacled troubadour tick? There's only one way to find out...

Phil, your new single has just come out. On a scale of 1 to 10, how excited are you?

10, naturally! It’s such a lively upbeat song, I’m mostly excited to get out and play it live. It’s really catchy and easy to pick up, so I’ll be expecting great things from my 'singalong' audience!

You love Twitter I see. Giving Trump a run for his money?

Well I don’t have any parody accounts of me yet, so I’m not quite at that level, haha! As an independent artist, Twitter’s a great place for getting out to people who don’t really know you. I’ve had quite a few people turn up at my tour shows because they saw it on Twitter and thought they’d take a chance. Long may that continue!

Are you a prolific songwriter?

I guess I’m a songwriter above all else (and as much as I love performing) so yeah, I guess you could call me prolific. I start new songs all the time, but I think I’ve become more picky about which songs I finish now. I also love writing while I’m out on tour, so I expect to be writing a load more over the coming months, as I set off around the UK.

I love the video that goes with Shake it Up. Are you still a busker at heart?

Thanks. As it happens, I’ve never really enjoyed busking per se, but I do love spreading happiness and creativity through my live show, and that was the thought process behind the video. I wanted to take that element of my show out on to the streets, so Mike (who directed, shot and edited it) and I went out in to Bristol city centre with all manner of instruments (mostly egg shakers, which also get handed out during most of my gigs).

What was the first single you bought with your own money?

I don’t actually remember, I’ve always preferred albums to singles, so I do remember that 'We Can’t Dance' by Genesis was my first album purchase.

Biggest crowd you've played to? And smallest?

The biggest was probably when I supported The Bluetones in Bristol last year. I’ve loved the band since the mid 90s so that was a special moment for me.  I’m pretty sure every experienced band has that one gig where literally no-one turns up, mine was with my old band The Haiku when we played to just the sound man, even the support band left before we took to the stage.

Where's all this leading to - plays on local radio or global domination?

Probably, and hopefully, somewhere in between. I tour the country (and Internationally) because I don’t want to get stuck in the 'local circuit', as much as I love my local area and the support they give me. I have confidence that my music is universally enjoyable, so I naturally want to get it to as many people as possible. I’m not sure I want celebrity status though for myself though, it’s the songs that are the real stars.

Beatles or Stones?

Beatles every time. I do enjoy the Stones, but The Beatles contained three of the most amazing songwriters that have ever lived.

Sweaty rock club or festival?

I enjoy both but festival just about edges this, I like the choice and the relaxed atmosphere.

Superstitious? Any rituals before gigs?

It’s boring but my pre-gig activities are mostly practical, the clearance of the bladder and the vocalzone (or Fisherman’s Friend) vocal lozenge to clear the airways. While I don’t really get 'nervous' I do get restless in the 15/30 minutes before a show, so there tends to be a lot of pacing involved.

The song you wished you'd written?

Too many to mention, I love so many songs. Most of Neil Finn’s back catalogue, and plenty of Ben Folds' songs.

Tell me something you've never told another living soul.

Does it have to be true? Haha! I genuinely can’t think of anything, I’m a ridiculously open person and I probably share way too much.

A big thank you to Phil for taking the time. His plans for world domination continue apace - see his evergrowing list of up and coming gigs - he's well worth a detour.

Sunday, 18 March 2018


Martina & Alfons - Prague 2018

On my last night in Prague I met Martina. And Alfons. Martina wanted to take my photograph. Not an issue; though I can count the number of times that's ever happened to me in a bar on the fingers of one hand.

Alfons, her adorable 12 month old black labrador, Martina told me, is named after Alphonse Mucha, the celebrated (and much copied) Czech Art Nouveau painter.

I then, of course, had to take her photograph. Unfortunately we didn't exchange contact details, so she'll probably never see this.

The footage below is quite amusing, if only for the presenter's suit and waxed moustache. But it gives you an idea of Mucha's place in art history - even his 'throwaway' advertising posters command silly money.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

The Very Fabric

Liberty Bridge (taken from Buda) 
It will come as no surprise to you that more than a few beers were consumed on my recent Eastern European jaunt. They like their lagers over there - which, personally, I can take or leave* - but coming up on the inside rail is a burgeoning craft beer scene that is certainly giving Euro-fizz a run for its money. That coupled with the fact that Budapest, our first stopover, is, officially, the cheapest place in Europe to drink beer and, all of a sudden, it's Game On!

Budapest is a tale of two cities, quite literally: a city divided by the Danube: conservative and classical Buda on the East Bank bank and, over the water, Pest (where we were staying) - busy, buzzing and bourgeois (as one of the guides I picked up described it).

Basic Bár (aptly named) was a smashing little find tucked away in the Jewish Quarter. Selling locally brewed Hungarian beers (a great range of IPAs, cherry beers & dark beers) with luxuriant electronica (they love house music as much as they love lager, seemingly) booming out to its Bohemian clientele - not a tourist in sight, it really was the perfect spot.

In his broken English** the barman was able to tell me in words of one syllable just how good his beers were (and they were) and that he piped in John Digweed's "Transitions" (his London radio show/podcast) every week for his discerning punters. This was the one playing when we were in.

It took me back to the plethora of Fabric CDs I own - many with Digweed remixes - and Saturday nights in particular back at Medd Towers in the early noughties when I took charge of the decks and cooking (knobs and hobs) with Digweed, Sasha et al creating the perfect soundtrack to the best homemade pizzas in town, bar none.  Ask anybody.

* With the exception of Pilsner Urquell Dark which hit the spot later in the week in Prague
** Still way better than my Hungarian

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Trains and Boats and Planes

Budapest 47.4979° N, 19.0402° E 
Sat, Sun, Mon

The bags are packed. The taxi to the airport's booked. The cat's sulking1. Yep, time for a few days away.

Three nights in Budapest, a train journey on Tuesday across the Hungarian border to Prague: three further nights in the Czech Republic, and fly home next Friday. Should be good.

Tues, Weds, Thurs

No itinerary to speak of; nowhere to be at any set time - just a few nice beers to be drunk, an eastern European goulash or two and a bit of culture thrown in for good measure. I know there's a terrific  floating jazz bar2 on the Danube everyone raves about, so a couple of hours on board a boat listening to live music, with a drink in my hand - should tick all the boxes.

And, can I just say, I'm getting really excited about the six hour train journey - I absolutely love foreign train travel - the drinks trolley, a good book3 and just gazing out of the window; what's not to like?

I'm sure there'll be pictures and stories when I get back, but that's it for a few days.

Hamarosan találkozunk4

Burt Bacharach - Trains and Boats and Planes (1965)

1 Doris hates it when we go away; she'll be OK
2 Columbus Pub
3 The Chalk Man
4 See you soon

Friday, 9 March 2018

Johnny's always running around

Johnny & Mary Antonia*
As the excellent Mad Men slowly begins to exit stage left in front of my very eyes (86 episodes down, only six to go), I've been forced to seek solace in another Netflix boxset: Lovesick, starring the ever charismatic Johnny Flynn, is my kind of show. It's funny. It's sad. And it is, for the most part, believable; pretty much. All the characters and their back stories are interwoven perfectly - making it a real ensemble piece. The writing is slick and it's always on the button. So much writing these days, especially comedy writing, is a bit like tuning in an old radio - sometimes the reception is good, other times not so. Lovesick is consistently 'locked on'.

I won't give away any plot spoilers, but if you watch the 45 second trailer below it will, I'm hoping, pull you in. And please don't think it's in anyway akin to the Richard Curtis school of lazy, tepid Rom Com - it's way, way, better than anything Curtis could ever conjure up (with the exception of About a Boy, and, in any event, that was Nick Hornby). No, Lovesick is a genuinely very funny and moving show that will definitely keep you out of mischief for a while. I'm on Series 3 so will be a few lengths ahead of you if you do decide to jump in.

Oh, and did I tell you that the soundtrack is none too shabby either? Take a look.
The episode I've just watched had a quirky take on Robert Palmer's Johnny & Mary. It's by Todd Terje with guest vocals by Bryan Ferry. I know what you're thinking but, believe me, it does actually work really well. Palmer's quirky 1980 single has been slowed down somewhat and been given a slightly sinister coat of menace.

Bryan Ferry & Todd Terje - Johnny & Mary

* Johnny Flynn plays Dylan, Antonia Thomas plays Evie

Sunday, 4 March 2018

If you should pass by, be sure to drop right in

The first, and the best
There is nothing, absolutely nothing, about this piece of film I don't like. Every moment of its five minutes and 20 seconds warms my heart. Laundromat is taken from Rory Gallagher's eponymous  solo album released in May 1971. And this performance from Beat Club (a sort of German Whistle Test) was recorded shortly thereafter. As with most overseas performances by UK bands in the seventies, we never saw them; it's only recently, all these years later, that we've discovered what our idols were getting up to in Europe and America thanks to YouTube and the like.

Rather than frame a 250 words review of it, here are the headlines:

* Curly guitar leads, *so* 1971

* Rory wears double denim, and gets away with it

* His drummer wears his girlfriend's top, and he too, sort of, gets away with it. Just

* Rory's guitar looks like it's just been pulled from a burning building

* Tarot card backdrop

* Stack of orange amplifiers (though not Orange, but Stramp)

* He never looked better than he did in 1971; he would soon *fill out*

* Laundromat sits at the top table of the Side One, Track One Club

Rory Gallagher would have been 70 last Friday. He never even saw his 50th.

I'd like to dedicate this to Frank Johnson. It was he who pointed me in the direction of this album all those years ago. Cheers Frank!

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Tossed Salad & Scrambled Eggs

Quite stylish
Frasier, the iconic hit TV show spin-off from Cheers, was first broadcast on NBC 25 years ago. It ran for 11 seasons and a staggering 264 episodes. And I loved every single one of them - it was certainly appointment TV at Medd Towers on Friday nights till it bowed out in 2004. That the show's main protagonist Frasier Crane was outshone every week by his younger, more pompous, brother, Niles (even after he got it on with Daphne) only added another layer to one of the most genuinely funny sitcoms ever to come out of America; or anywhere else for that matter.

Kelsey Grammer - Tossed Salad & Scrambled Eggs

Friday, 2 March 2018


All Medd Cons
Paul Weller was in town this week. For some reason I didn't fancy it; I'm kicking myself now.

I wonder if he played anything off All Mod Cons? You're probably aware that this year marks its ruby anniversary. Christ, where did the last 40 years go? (I can remember clearly the day I bought my copy) - the worrying thing being that 40 years prior the Second World War hadn't yet broken out. Stop the world I want to get off.

Anyway, you can keep Down in the Tube Station at Midnight and 'A' Bomb in Wardour Street - if I'd been at the Arena on Tuesday night I'd have asked him, politely, to "play that silly little poem you wrote when you didn't know any better." The words are naff, obviously, but it has a certain 1978 charm nonetheless. Chances are he'd have probably pretended not to hear me, but I think Fly would make any Weller Top 10 (there he goes with the lists again), don't you?

Paul Weller - Fly

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Let it Snow

It's snowing. But not just any old snow. Oh no - this snow has got a name. And a pretty scary name at that. They're calling it the Beast from the East. It's a Snowmageddon. This Siberian icy blast could be the death of us. Hell, it must be serious - we're being told to wrap our letterboxes with clingfilm. Man Alive.

So while the BBC goes into meltdown and bellows out warnings telling us all to stay indoors for the next six months, wear every garment of clothing we possess and wrap ourselves in electric blankets whilst licking our radiators, my friend Sharon stuck two fingers up to the weather today.

It may well have been minus 10 degrees today, but what the hell.

Windchill. What windchill?

                                  ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Altogether Now - AnthologEP

Altogether Now
The Web is awash with lists. Some might say saturated. Music websites, and blogs in particular, crave the condensing; the diluting and editing of anything and everything (and anybody) into a Top 10 - usually an artist or band's entire output boiled down to a rag tag bunch of songs that then has the word 'definitive' accredited to them. As if.

And none more so than the Beatles. To be fair they had a couple of stabs at it themselves. Once (A Collection of Beatles Oldies) while they were still kicking a ball, and two more (the Red & Blue double albums) when Macca realised that the revenue from Wings was hardly likely to keep a roof (or roofs, to be more precise) over his head. Then we had Anthology, of course, followed a number of years later by the unimaginative 1, before the joyous Love (take a bow Giles Martin) became, for many, the last word in Greatest Hits: the ultimate Beatles list, the Top 26, if you will.

But what of the Beatles solo material? Sure, Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr have all been victims of record company hastily prepared compilations - individually. But nobody has put out the combined Greatest Hit compilation with all four of them sharing centre stage. Is such an eight-legged monster even capable of walking, let alone running into a record store and jumping up onto the counter?

And, to be fair, as big a Beatles fan as I am (have you seen just how many namechecks they get around here?), even I would doubt the validity of such a piece of nonsense.

Which is precisely why I am more than prepared to commit heresy and offer up before you not a Best Of album, but a Greatest Hits EP - four songs that capture the very being of the post-Beatles recorded output. And that was my only guiding principle - it had to have just four recordings on there; not even one of each. Any four. Any.

It's at this point that it dawns on me, not for the first time, that John Lennon didn't care much for being an ex-Beatle (George even less so). But John really struggled to achieve anywhere near the PB he set himself while he was with the Fab 4. He peaked creatively in 1966 and, with the exception of a couple of White Album pearls (you know the ones I'm talking about), Lennon was pretty much a spent force. And no, Imagine is not the Holy Grail everyone thinks it is: it's crass and it's insensitive. If I ever hear it again it'll be too soon. Lennon, for me, very nearly missed the cut altogether - George was going to have two on there, but thoughts of the subsequent hate mail, and the fact that Working Class Hero probably defines Lennon, means it kicks off proceedings on Side 1, Track 1.

Next up is the biggest slice of glam ever to come out of 1972. And it had some real competition too; Bowie, Sweet, Glitter. Not to mention Bolan whose fingerprints are all over Ringo's Back off Boogaloo. A great way to round Side 1 off with.

Flip our little EP over and you'll be met by George's greatest ever song. Better than Something. Better than that one about his weeping guitar; better, even, than Taxman. When George realised, quite early on, that the Beatles wouldn't even last until the seventies (let alone forever), he began stockpiling lyrics and melodies in his personal song bank. When he came to make a withdrawal in 1971 he had a perfectly formed triple album's worth. A real dark horse, wouldn't you agree? I so very nearly chose the title track, All Things Must Pass, but then came to my senses. I'd Have You Anytime is perfect. It knocks the other three songs on this fantasy project into an old brown shoe.

Macca will be furious he's been left till last. Good. I'd love to tell him that he's not all that. I'd love to tell him that every time I hear him sing Hey Jude I want to stab myself in the eyes with knitting needles. I'd also like to tell him that how he talks about John Lennon is mean spirited and churlish. Someone once asked 'Is it me, or are the Beatles dying in the wrong order?' I knew what he meant.
So, what's it to be then? What one song written and performed by James Paul McCartney will fade out into the run-off grooves?

Damn you Macca. How the hell did you come to write something so bloody perfect as Maybe I'm Amazed? I've gotta give it to you, it's genius.

So, there you go, four musicians' (well, three and a drummer) entire solo canon reduced to less than a quarter of an hour. Let's clap it in:


Side 1

1. John Lennon - Working Class Hero
2. Ringo Starr - Back off Boogaloo

Side 2

1. George Harrison - I'd Have You Anytime
2. Paul McCartney - Maybe I'm Amazed

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Never Going Back

It's been a very interesting week so far, and we're still only on Wednesday. My midweek bulletin board this week is threefold. I hope it doesn't come across too angry; the Post Office won't be letting me put any more notices in their window at this rate.

⚠️ M: I'm stubborn, always have been. And the older I get the more stubborn I become.
I won't reply to your email. I've already told you: I'm not coming back.

⚠️ To the nitwit trying to score a few cheap points questioning who bloggers write for. I can't speak for anyone else, but I write for me.

⚠️ I was home alone this weekend - Jenny went back to Pickering. Someone asked me if I was planning on going back anytime soon. Never.

Fleetwood Mac - Never Going Back Again

Friday, 16 February 2018

Maybe the next one is yours

Standing on a freezing cold platform the other night waiting for my train home, I found myself singing Pete Morton's beautiful song to myself; I'd had a drink, so can't vouch for whether I sang it in my head, or I really sang it. It could explain why nobody sat next to me in coach. I stayed awake anyway, that's the main thing. One of these nights/mornings I suspect I'll wake up in sidings in Sheffield. Or Leeds.

I know I've written about this song before, but, hey, my bat, my ball, my wicket. I've met Pete on a couple of occasions and he's one of the nicest fellas around. His songs move me (and I'd be surprised if I hadn't told him that on at least one occasion), none more so than this:

Pete Morton - Another Train

As a footnote, and after recently finding this bit of film, I may have to start a mini-series of singers who wear shirts to match their backdrop. What possessed Pete to wear a brown stripey shirt in the first place is one thing, but then to stand in front of a brown curtain for two hours...

This is for anyone who doesn't know where they're going at the moment - get on the next train. You know you want to.

Monday, 12 February 2018


Anna and Marie. Marie and Anna. Best friends. For Life. They met when they were both nine. That's gotta be 25 years in anyone's language.

They looked out for each other then, and they look out for each other now. I love them both.

They told me on Friday they're going to Ibiza. Fueled by gin, and both in charge of heels higher than your average skyscraper, it could get messy. I think they may need a chaperone - my rates are very competitive.

Dave Edmunds - Girls Talk

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Cry for Help

Karen Carpenter died 35 years ago this month. Her unique vocal stylings made the Carpenters one of the biggest selling acts of the 70s. There just aren't enough zeros on your calculator to comprehend how many kajillion records they shifted when they were at their peak. But Karen couldn't understand what all the fuss was about when their fans, and critics alike, would go into raptures about her phrasing, her timing and that sense of warmth and assurance you got every time she opened her mouth. "I'm just a drummer who sings" she once famously said. Yeah, right.

But the Carpenters were never hip; never a bedroom poster band. Your mum and dad liked them, for God's sake; that's how uncool they were. But, so what? It may have taken some of us a little longer than others to realise just how bloody good they were, but I think we're all on the same page now.

It's doubtful that they ever trashed any hotel rooms whilst on tour, even more doubtful that they will ever be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But their body of work has stood the test of time, nonetheless. Massive hits like Close to You, We've Only Just Begun and Yesterday Once More are revered; as is their interpretation of the Lennon and McCartney song book: Nowhere Man, Ticket to Ride and Help never sounded so lush.

Karen Carpenter's premature demise - she was only 32 when she lost her battle with Bulimia - has only magnified just what a unique gift she had. Hers is a tragic story interspersed with blinding moments of joy.

The Carpenters - Help!

I still can't get my head around singing drummers. It just looks so...wrong.

Karen Carpenter (1950-1983)

Thursday, 8 February 2018

What's Shakin' on the Hill

I went out for dinner last night with a friend of mine. At about half past eight a group of middle aged men (all sporting plaid shirts) walked in carrying flight cases: the house band, seemingly.
Man alive, they were good; how many bands do you see where the fiddle player doubles up as the trombonist? Not even Bellowhead, can I just tell you.

And I've not seen many people tackle Nick Lowe's 'What's Shakin' on the Hill and live to tell the tale.

This is for James. It's his birthday today - he'd have enjoyed it last night.

Nick Lowe - What's Shakin' on the Hill

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Piece of cake

Amsterdam - Meet the New* Flag (1975)
Amsterdam. Everyone's got an Amsterdam story; I'm no exception. However, this is, in all honesty, probably neither the time or the place to share it. Suffice it to say I lost two days of my life the last time I was in the Dutch capital. It was Scary Mary! In my defence, I was just a boy. Giving it all away.
But that was then. This is, well, now. And I'm currently booking a return visit. 'Is that sensible?' I hear you cry. "Can you be trusted?" Good questions both. To which I'd come back at you with "Of course it is" and "Hell, yeah." Well I would say that, wouldn't I? Let's hope my travelling companion thinks so too. More details to follow, I'm sure.

David Bowie - Amsterdam (1973 B-Side)

* Same as the old flag? Not quite - this is what it looked like pre-1975

Sunday, 4 February 2018


Pigeons. In holes*
Hands up if you know what Big Room House is. Mmm, thought so. That's the thing with pigeonholing music. So, let's suppose you own a physical copy of Animals by Dutch DJ Michael Garrix - where are you gonna file it? Answers on a postcard.

To these (ahem, mature) ears, it sounds like Popcorn's great grandson. Hot Butter, anyone? I was at school in 1972 when kids would try and do the sound effects to this early piece of electronica using nothing more than 'finger drums' to the side of their face. Forty years on and I suspect it's a similar story. However, drugs may be involved these days; allegedly.

Martin Garrix - Animals

* Note to self - I really must stop using Urban Dictionary

Thursday, 1 February 2018


A really good friend of mine has just put me on to the Sunset Sons. They were on the support bill recently and blew the main band (Imagine Dragons, I think) away. I love it when that happens. I can't believe how good they are. And unbelievably cool.

In 2016 (remember 2016?), they put out an album entitled Very Rarely Say Die.

This track is from said record. It's glorious.

It really is.

Sunset Sons - Remember

Saturday, 27 January 2018

It's his time

It can't be easy being Baxter Dury. His dad's legacy must follow him at every turn; when he releases a new record, goes to a party, or even when he just nips to the corner shop for a pint of milk. Until now, that is. I commented recently that with his latest release, The Prince of Tears, he's finally Baxter Dury. No longer Baxter Dury, son of Ian. The shoes that once seemed impossible to fill, fit perfectly now.
He goes out on tour in the Spring. Firstly under his own steam, and then opening for Noel Gallagher. I'm gonna try and get along. I think his time has finally come.

Here he is performing Whispered, Pleasure and Palm Trees from his 2014 album It's a Pleasure.