Sunday, 9 December 2018

Shimmering, glimmering

The plane touched down yesterday just after three o'clock. It was wet. It was windy. It was cold; everything Lanzarote wasn't. A miserable December Saturday afternoon in the UK has absolutely nothing going for it whatsoever. Even the pilot was apologetic, bless him.

Rewind less than 24 hours and I'd been gazing out to sea thinking how much more tolerable life would be if this was my view, this was my vista; a light so bright and so beautifully sharp, that, if I close my eyes (even as I'm typing this), I can still see. Let's hope I can still retrieve it from my memory bank next week, and the week after... 

Charles Trenet - La Mer (1946)

Monday, 3 December 2018

Go into settings

What a year it's been; and continues to be. I'm sure there are other fairground mechanical contraptions that can I can compare the last 12 months to, but I'm struggling at the moment to call one to mind.

I'm jumping on a plane in a couple of hours. Five nights away - a bit of sun on my back, catch up with the latest Anne Tyler, and gorge on a few of my favourite podcasts*. I may even have a few glasses of the local grog, it has been known. As ever when I'm away, my thoughts will be wandering. But in a good way this time.

* Including: Ruthie - Me & My Dad. I've just discovered this quirky podcast where washed up radio presenter Martin Kelner and his 17 year old daughter Ruth sit down at the kitchen table and tell each other what it's like to reside in 2018. Essential listening.

It was going to be called 'Go Into Settings' - Ruth explains in the first episode (or is the second?) that whenever she's telling an 'old person' how to do something on their phone it's the first thing she says. Ouch, sounds familiar.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Here in the Hole

I've only ever seen the 90 second version 
It doesn't take a lot to frighten me; though I'm much better than I used to be. I remember trying to watch Eraserhead on my own and not being able to get past the opening credits. Seriously.

The first house I ever owned had a basement cellar. Did I ever go down there? What do you think? And don't get me started on horror films where hands come out of graves. Ever wondered why I went grey so early?

So how come then I'm currently wading through Season 1 of American Horror Story on Netflix? That is a very good question. Firstly it comes highly recommended. Secondly, it doesn't take itself too seriously: they shoehorn every conceivable trick from the horror repertoire into each and every episode, thus making it more Carry On than Carrie. I absolutely love it.

But, back to things that truly frighten me. I still can't listen to Here in the Hole by Barry Adamson without clutching at my invisible rosary beads and offering up a silent prayer; it scares the living crap out of me (that's right, I don't play it very often).

I recently found a Youtube mix of it where it segues into Sonny Boy Williamson's Help Me. It's the kind of light relief you need after putting yourself through Adamson's emotional wringer.

Ready to be disturbed...?

Barry Adamson - Here in the Hole (2006)

"You see, that's the way the world is"

Saturday, 1 December 2018

It's Been a Long Time Since I Did The Stroll

It's been a long time
I have to confess that, despite the title of today's piece, I have never done The Stroll1. In fact, until as recently as ten minutes ago I wasn't even aware that it came with its own song. Yes, I'd heard Led Zeppelin's mighty Rock and Roll2 and yes I knew Nick Lowe slipped a reference to it in I Knew the Bride, but I still couldn't have told you, strictly or otherwise, which foot to lead with or, indeed, who takes the initiative. However, looking at this video, I don't think any of that really matters; all you do, seemingly, is, er, stroll. Who knew?

The Stroll - from American Bandstand, February 1958

1. Not knowingly, anyway.
2. I recently played my stripped down version of Rock and Roll at the Running Horse in Nottingham. I introduced it by saying that if there were any Led Zep fans in the room, then now might be a good time to go to the bar.

Led Zeppelin - Rock and Roll (1971)

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Taking Back Control? It's Just an Illusion

In June 2016's EU Referendum 52% of the UK population (it's been argued this majority comprised mainly the elderly, less well educated and the less well off) saw the phrase Taking Back Control, turned it into a mantra and made it their primary reason for pulling out of Europe; being free of the EU and being able to trade with anyone we wanted to.

With a deal now put forward by our hapless Prime Minister that effectively still ties us to the EU (but with none of the benefits of being in the EU), and our biggest ally, the United States, giving us the middle finger and potentially vetoing any future trade deals with them, I wonder what they see now?

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Diamonds are Forever

I drove to Hull today and spent some quality time with my Auntie Margaret and Uncle Brian. I can't believe they celebrated their Diamond Wedding Anniversary earlier this year, but celebrate it they did, even receiving a signed card from our reigning Monarch. Around the time this photo was taken I remember Brian, an electrician by trade, building me a bespoke external speaker for my tinny portable cassette player - giving it much needed Oomph! Their friends recently found the 70s snap, blew it up, framed it and gave it to them as a gift on their big day.  It's such a spontaneous photograph, I love it. 

David Ari Leon - Shine On You Crazy Diamond

Friday, 23 November 2018


Since time immemorial Beatles fans and scholars alike have been debating (often heatedly) whether or not the White Album coulda/shoulda been released as a single album; trim the fat, ditch Revolution No.9 (the Emperor's new clothes, without doubt) and generally rid it of anything devoid of FABness. Pah! I hear you say. Even four sides isn't enough - we want six sides, eight even.

Image result for the beatles white album white vinyl
Blue Vinyl (1/1) - signed by Macca (rare as fuck)
Well, as you're probably aware, this month saw the majestic release of a whiter than white White Album with alternative takes, demo recordings made at George's house in Esher - complete with Harrison asking Macca how many sugars he wants in his tea - and is, essentially, the kitchen sink in vinyl format. Indeed, fetching it home from your local record shop would necessitate mechanical lifting machinery and, possibly, road closures.

Not for me, however. I fell in love with this album just the way it was intended way back when; and I've got all the Esher demos on bootlegs anyway.

But to go back to the double album/single album hot potato for a second - if you ever wondered what the perfect pared down track listing would have looked like (5 tracks on Side 1, five on Side 2) - then jazzer Ramsey Lewis has beaten you to it. By 50 years. That's right, Lewis went into the studio and recorded his White Album (he actually called it Mother Nature's Son) in December 1968 and released it later the same month: only a handful of weeks after the Beatles released theirs in the November. He didn't mess about did he? The world was still coming to terms with how utterly brilliant Lennon's Cry Baby Cry was, and here was Ramsey Lewis straight out of the traps giving us his sublime instrumental take. And, I have to say, almost edging it for me. Almost.

Ramsey Lewis - Cry Baby Cry (1968)

Monday, 19 November 2018

Devil's Haircut

Image result for now hear thisI had an out of body experience today. Seriously. I really did. And, here's the thing, no artificial stimulants were involved; unless you count coffee (and no one counts coffee). Want to know more?

Ever wondered what the future sounds like? No, neither did I particularly. Until this morning.

Then this arrived in my inbox - it was around 10:00. "You MUST listen to this," it said. " WITH HEADPHONES." So I did. By 10:05 I was in a bit of a state, I don't mind telling you.
And that's what you must do - right now. Don't shilly shally. Just do it. And, don't forget, WITH HEADPHONES!

What did you think? Let's park up the fact that it's the work of the Devil - was that amazing, or was that amazing? It's called 8D Audio. And it's appearing all over the place. From Eminem to Bo Rhap; everyone's doing it. Don't get left behind. And remember, you heard it (and I mean HEARD it) here first (unless, of course, you've got the jump on me already, in which case - why didn't you tell me?!)

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Think Pink

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

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

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

Image result for paul smith la pink store

Sunday, 11 November 2018

The Future's Bright

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

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

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

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

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

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

With thanks to Heidi


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

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Cold Tea

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

Dodgy - Cold Tea (1993) 

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

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Lately I've Let Things Slide

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

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

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

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

Monday, 5 November 2018

To Be A Lover

Image result for to be a lover

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

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

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

* Including my good friend The Swede