Wednesday, December 17, 2008


It's a wonderful song and has been performed by many fantastic artists. The current UK obsession with the version released by a competition winner being none of them.

I'm pleased it looks like it will be a hit if only because Leonard Cohen, who wrote the song, claims he was fraudulently relieved of his retirement fund in 2005 and he probably needs the royalties right now.

What would be fantastic is if the British record buying public decided to purchase versions of the song that would not benefit those that visit the abomination known as the X Factor upon us.

You can download Leonard Cohen's original version Here


You can download Jeff Buckley's stunning cover of the song Here

Thursday, December 11, 2008

26 Years Ago Today...

...The Jam played their last ever gig.

I remember where I was and what I did that night, I may well do the same thing again tonight

"And as it was in the beginning, So shall it be in the end
That bullshit is bullshit, It just goes by different names

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Let me be the first to impose upon you a best of's 2008 list. I know these generally wait until later in the month but I feel the need to get this off my chest right now.

1. Okkervil River - The Stand Ins
Definitely the find of the year. It took me about 6 months after first reading about them to get round to buying this but within another month I'd bought the 2 previous albums and seen one of the best live show's I've seen in years.

The original article I read about them in Uncut described them as "reminiscent of the Velvets, Modern Lovers and Neutral Milk Hotel" (whoever the hell Neutral Milk Hotel are !). I can see where they were coming from but they're much more than that. I'd put them in a similar space to Wilco and the Drive-By Truckers. I guess this is what is known as Americana.

The songs are very instant particularly the single "Loast Coastlines" and "Calling And Not Calling My Ex". The centrepiece of the record is the epic "Blue Tulip", now there's a man pouring his soul into a song. You can hear previews of the songs at Amazon at the link above, do yourself a favour.

2. Paul Weller - 22 Dreams
How many times has Weller produced a real return to form according to various critics ? Well this isn't a return to form, it is in many places something completely new!

Spoken word poetry pieces, instrumentals, wailing along in the verse like a demented David Bowie on "Push It Along", Weller really made an effort with this record, and it shows. Now if he'd just ditch the annoying guitar player from Ocean Duller Scene all would be well.

3. Damien Dempsey - The Rocky Road
Damo makes the record I suspect he has wanted to make for a very long time. This is a collection of traditional Irish songs along with some more contemporary things (The Pogues "A Rainy Night In Soho").

It's was worth it for me to have a recording of Damo singing "The Rocky Road To Dublin" which I've heard him play live many times.

I do understand that the mighty Damo is something of an acquired taste, one I have enthsiastically acquired and one which I evangelically recommend to all.

4. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig !!! Lazarus Dig !!!
I've been going through a bit of a Nick Cave phase over the past year. I've gone from owning 2 or 3 of his albums to all of them (that count currently stands at 16). So I guess that's something more than a phase !

He's very good at what he does and keeps on doing it, which to some puts them off what he does. But when you do something as well as this why take a detour. He did that with Grinderman which to my mind was a little lacking.

The title track, "More News From Nowhere" and "We Call Upon The Author" are as good as anything from the previous 15 Bad Seeds albums.

5. Amsterdam - Arm In Arm
Ian Prowse could probably pass wind and it would be worth hearing. Saying the man has a way with a tune is like saying Pele was quite good at football or that Einstein guy was a bit clever, get my drift. Hey! He wrote John Peel's second favourite song so there's something going on here.

"Arm In Arm" is another collection of fabulous songs that was recently voted the 14th best album released by a Liverpool band...ever, by the readers of magazine. And when you consider the competition up there that's pretty impressive stuff.

Prowsey's favourite here is the title track, mine is "Lonely Boy". If you admire melody and great songs you really can't go wrong here.

(A special mention for The Blessing's album "All Is Yes" which came in at a very close number 6)

As for books, movies etc.

Movies...I don't really have the attention span but here's what I recall.

Batman: The Dark Knight - The best Batman movie yet. If Heath Ledger doesn't get a posthumous Oscar for his performance as the Joker then I don't know who should ever get an Oscar.

Control - I was really looking forward to seeing this but came away feeling like I'd just watched a 2 hour episode of Coronation Street in black & white. Dissapointed doesn't even get close.

Books...I've spent the year re-reading a lot of things I've read before (Emmett Grogan's "Ringolevio: A Life Played For Keeps", Orwell's "1984" etc) but I can heartily recommend John Robb's "Punk Rock: An Oral History", something like a UK "Please Kill Me".

Errr....that's it really

Monday, December 01, 2008

Not So Black Country Beer Ex 2008

9 men, 1 lovely lady, a selection of WM Travel Daysavers, 1 train and 7 pubs to visit…let’s get down to it boppers!

You may recall the corresponding fixture from last year if not, go here. This was completed on a private bus. This year the plan was to use public transport, starting in Willenhall and ending up in Moseley in Brum.

Leaving the house at 10am, it was cold, very cold, bone numbingly cold in fact. So I could have lived without the first train of the day being late. An open train station platform is not the most hospitable of places in that kind of temperature. So it was iPod on (Kings Of Leon “Only By The Night” for those that are interested) and hunker down for the train.

I stopped off briefly in Wolverhampton for a cash machine and a newspaper and jumped the bus to Walsall via Willenhall. The advanced raiding party of our group met me on the bus and we tipped up in Walsall ready for the bus out to Daw End (pronounced Dow End I was to be informed later). Hot beverages were required at this stage and off we set in search of, except for one of our number who decided that the nearest ‘spoons for an early morning stiffener was needed (not before the sun passes the yardarm in my book).

Outside our chosen tea stop in Walsall we discovered the first entertainment of the day, a group of “young christians” shouting stuff like “Have you disobeyed your mother and father ? Then you have broken the commandments of god”. We were not the only ones to find them amusing, “for god’s sake get him a pint and calm him down” shouted one passing wag.

Back to the bus station to collect more of our gang and 8 of us set off for the Manor Arms.

This pubs unique feature is that it doesn’t have a bar ! The beer is served from the back of the low ceilinged timber beamed main room, basically a hatch in the wall in the main corridor through the pub.

identities have been masked to protect the innocent

What they did have was a splendid drop of Banks’s Original and a very cosy side room with an open coal fire.

identities masked to protect the innocent

Given the rapidly plummeting outside temperature, when the time came it was a very difficult place to leave.

But leave we did for we were due in Aldridge. Now the less I say about our destination there the better. I will say that whoever wrote the entry in the Good Beer Guide may well have been very, very drunk at the time. It will be remembered, not least for the locals putting pints of Carlsberg Extra Cold in hot water to warm it up a bit !

We had time for a chippy and Morrisons facilities stop before our next bus and we met up with the lovely lady section of our party. The next bus I am reliably and admiringly informed by those in the know amongst us was a Metro ! And many nice things were being said about the smell of diesel and oil emanating from within it…hmmmmm!

Outside it was getting foggier and colder and one more bus hop found us in a very gloomy Sutton Coldfield where we descended upon the Three Tuns. Here we were joined by the 10th member of our party and managed to watch England pitifully capitulate to the All Blacks.

But now it was time for a bit of luxury…a train to Bourneville. Not only would we have heating but a toilet too, very important at this stage of such a cold day. The ticket machine at Sutton station informed us that 10 first class returns to Thirsk would cost us £4,480 and some pence…BARGAIN !!!

On arriving in Bourneville we wandered down to the Pershore Road to find the British Oak

Now, again, I can only imagine that whoever wrote the Good Beer Guide entry for this place had been smoking lots of what it looked like the fellows huddled around the front door were selling! My request of the barmaid for “10 pints of Purity Gold” was met with “are you serious?”. Yes dear I am. In defence of a place where I thought I was gonna get mugged, the beer was excellent but it’s not anywhere I shall be rushing back to.

We just made it to the right bus stop for our ride to Kings Heath from where we would head down into Moseley for the last 3 pubs. I had been looking forward all day to revisiting the Fighting Cocks, somewhere I hadn’t been since the mid 1980’s. I saw a lot of gigs there and played one or two myself. I even wrote my only letter to the music press after seeing a gig at the Fighting Cocks. A right pokey little dump it used to be.

WOW, talk about the ugly duckling turning into a Swan. It is now about 10 times the size it used to be, was absolutely packed and they now serve food like falafel with tzatziki (you’d have been lucky to get a packet of Golden Wonder in the 80’s) and you can get a bottle of Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir!

I’d love to have gone up to the old venue upstairs but couldn’t find a way in. Ale wise this probably produced the finest pint of the day, Nethergate Lemonhead, which was just what I needed right then. A mental note has been made to look out for this in future.

A quick hop down the road found us in the Prince of Wales. There had been a discussion in the Fighting Cocks about should we stay there or move on. Oh how I wished we’d have stayed put. To say the Prince of Wales was a bit smelly would have been a real insult to some astonishingly smelly stuff with a very good reason for being smelly. It stunk of anarcho-punks and sweaty feet, of people yet to discover deodorant and stale beer, I curse the smoking ban. The ale wasn’t much better either.

I think this was the little straw for me. I have to admit to not feeling on top of my game all day and this place just made up my mind for me, my day was over, 1 pub short of a full house. Our intrepid leader did his best to tempt me with the promise of Ginger Beer but I’d made up my mind. The call of the Chinese take away in Marston Green and the world’s finest Beef Chow Mein was to loud to ignore.

Once again thanks to our leader for arranging it all and I look forward to next year.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I've Got A New Toy...

The very desirable (well for me anyway) T-Mobile G1

Or I guess as most people call it the Googlephone. Still figuring out what it can do to be honest but on a basic "boys and their toys" level, I love it thank you very much. The only gripe I have with it right now is that it appears impossible to delete e-mail messages from the Trash once you have deleted them from the Inbox so my Trash box is filling up alarmingly.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Why Do...?

...people have PayPal accounts and then insist on using PayPal cheques to pay you with ? The whole point of PayPal is it's instant whereas their cheques take a lifetime.

...assistants in PCWorld/Music Shops/Mobile Phone shops treat you like a moron if you don't know them personally ?

...I have to go and catch a cold the weekend of our local beer festival ?

...I feel more at home in Edinburgh than in my own home town ?

...the BBC think it's OK to spend my money on trash and then continually advertise it at me even though they are not a commercial broadcaster ?

...birds suddenly appear etc.

No...I don't know either !

Monday, August 18, 2008


...pressed firmly back to the grindstone. Yes it finally happened, after 11 weeks and 2 days on the sick the doctor said I was finally fit to return to work, and you can imagine what a major jolt to the system that has been.

I had to get up at 5am this morning ! That's at least 3 hours earlier than I've risen in the last 3 months.

Only bright spot is they moved my desk while I wasn't around so, exactly 2 weeks short of the 10th anniversary of the start of my employment here, I have finally made it next to a window ! It's the little things sometimes...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Yet More Proof...

...of the non existence of god (I'd like to say sorry to anyone offended by the lower case "g"...but I'd be lying).

Spent Saturday at the Bishop's Castle Beer Festival. I'd love to link you to a web site telling you all about it but they don't really like to advertise it (it must be a local beer festival for local people).

The two brew pubs in town (The Six Bells (see pictue below) and The Three Tuns) open their doors to other breweries wares and 4 or 5 other pubs in town also have a number of fine brews available.

A very splendid late afternoon/early evening was spent quaffing in the back garden area of the Six Bells. Proprieter and brewer Big Nev was around making sure everyone was having a good old time and things were going with a swing. The inside of the pub was rammed and there must have been 200 people out in the back garden area, a number of a beardy and woolly jumpered nature, the much maligned stereotypical image of the real ale drinker. But there were many younger types enjoying the fine ales and good company.

So my reason for titling this missive in such a contentious manner ? It was bloody freezing cold and kept lashing down with rain every 30 minutes or so making all those in the open dash for the little shelter there was to be had. Surely any benevolent deity who really loved the "children" of his creation would have ensured some blue skies and sunshine ? And if, as some of his followers would have you believe, he really does disapprove of our intemperance then he's obviously never had to tackle Arriva Trains Wales on a Friday afternoon...that would drive a saint to drink !

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Bricks, Broken Roadies & Sticks

Firstly a big shout out to Marcus...thinking about ya fella. Anytime you fancy ranting over a pint, rant this way.

Only 10 days until "cast off" day (not that I'm counting the days you see).

Went to see The Wonder Stuff in Derby last night. Malc had "a fall" and has knackered his wrist, Dan has put his back out loading out after the first gig and McCarthy's new facial growth is apparently due to the fact that he went "f*cking mental" recently (can't figure out Tommo's excuse tho') ! Seems like me and my broken ankle would have fitted in quite well on this tour after all.

Great night though, if very hot and sweaty. Amazing how after not seeing each other for 18 months and only 3 days rehearsal they just click back into being The Wonder Stuff. It was all there.

Lynn finally put in an appearance. She obviously needed to hear some real music after subjecting herself to all that Scandinavian metal/goth/glam she appears to favour.
Didn't realise until last night that Brian From Brum does the PA announcements at New Street station.
Dave from Inverness (and the hat) was in full on DA Pennebaker mode with his very natty looking video camera. Special mention for his t-shirt too.

Shall be sorry to miss out on JB's tonight but it's just difficult to get around the place for me at the moment.

Go check out The Platforms. There are two tracks on there you can download.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bugger !

This morning I discovered that the NHS had forgotten about me.

The reason that I have been waiting 2 weeks to receive a letter telling me when I should return to hospital to have my cast removed is that they had forgotten about me needing such an appointment.

Realistically this means that the cast will have to stay on a week longer than expected. Which means I am today regally feckin' hacked off.

There's nothing that bugs me more than incompetence (bad spelling maybe !) and today the NHS have displayed that in spades...W@NKERS !!!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

A Leg Up

You'll no doubt be heartened to hear on Friday I actually managed to get out of the house to The Crown for a few pints. I was getting cabin fever cooped up in the house 24 hours a day. Had to get a cab there, £2.50 for a cab to take me what usually takes 5 minutes to walk...ridiculous.

Saturday however wasn't as exciting. I stayed "home alone" while Deb, James and Jules went off to Shrewsbury to see Milo & Erica.

As someone else said...broken bones suck.

Monday, June 02, 2008

I Love The Sound of Breaking...Bones

For the first time in my life I have broken a bone. Well, to be more precise 2 bones. Both of them in my right ankle. The Tibia and Fibula to be precise. And yes it did bloody hurt.

Wednesday lunchtime I was off to Tesco for a butty. Walked out the back door of our office block and stepped onto a ramp that the workmen refurbishing floors in the block had put up to the two steps at the back door so they could wheel stuff in. Touble was on Wednesday it was pissing down and the ramp was made of metal. My foot slid down the ramp until it hit the tarmac at the bottom at which point my foot stopped. Unfortunately the rest of me didn't and I heard a most unwanted "CRACK" followed by the sound of a grown man (i.e. me) screaming in pain.

Two fellas who had been behind me had the unenviable task of picking me up and helping me to the foyer. An ambulance was called and I was whisked away to hospital. I now have the utmost respect for A&E staff in our hospitals having seen some of the arseholes they have to put up with. While I was feeling very sorry for myself in a cubicle some drunken tit who should have been looking out for his equally drunk father insisted on coming over and telling me how lucky I was, how many bones he had broken and how he had once had 132 stitches put in a wound received in a gang fight in Manchester when he was 8 (I didn't tink you could fit 132 stitches onto an 8 year old).

Anyway 3 days on a hospital ward with various loonies and drama queens was more than enough. I was operated on and now have a right ankle that looks like the result of a fevered mind let loose with a Meccano set. I have a six week sick note and a license to do nothing else except sit on my butt watching TV and eating chocolate.

Wish me luck...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Catchup Time

Phew...well it's been a very busy couple of months. I finally have my feet back on the ground until at least the beginning of June when it all starts again.

Work has recently taken me to Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Turkey, Scotland...oh and Torquay. In that time I've visited the world's oldest pub in Athlone, sat in a Norwegian bar that felt like a small corner of Liverpool to watch a Champions league game, had my mobile stolen, been in the back of a Turkish cab in which the driver made me close my eyes twice on a deserted road at 6am (maniacs!), taken a train across the Forth and Tay bridges an a beautiful sunny day, visited the Paisley beer festival (they had a whole room of Scottish ales, how happy was I !) and missed two gigs I should have gone to (Amsterdam and Dinosaur Jr if you must know).

Some things of interest you may wish to see and hear:

Mark McCarthy guests in the new Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds video

Rachel Mayfield
Check out the song "Transports Of Delight" at that site, it's a beauty

Damien Dempsey has a new album out next month

For those of you that sent message of sympathy on hearing about the relegation of Birmingham City Football Club back into the Fizzy Pop League I thank you. You'll be pleased to hear I am now over it (although the humiliation of 20th April may take a little longer to erase from the memory).

Monday, April 21, 2008

Danny Federici

I read the really sad news today that Danny Federici died last week. If the name doesn't ring a bell with you, Danny was a member of Bruce Springsteens's E-Street Band. He was the organ player.

He succumbed to cancer at the age of 58, way to young to be checking out. A great shame and great loss to a wonderful band.

Check back through my posts to read my thoughts on Springsteens "Born To Run" to know what Danny's involvement in music has meant to me over the years.

That band they're putting together in Heaven is getting better and better.

Friday, February 15, 2008


On September 14th 2007 I wrote:

"To this day if I have a bad day at work, when I leave I play "God Save The Queen" on my iPod VERY LOUD and 3 minutes and 20 seconds later I remember that someone else feels that way too and it's OK."

Right now I am still in the office and playing "Never Mind The Bollocks Here's The Sex Pistols" VERY LOUD.

Like Gram said..."it's been a bad, bad day"

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Now Where Is That Stinking Fish Single ?

Last night I finally finished loading my entire record collection onto my iPod.

OK, I know people no longer have record collections but I remember when they did and that's what I call them, still.

1,977 albums, 25,089 tracks. All on a little box measuring 4" x 2.5" x 0.5" (you see, I still use Imperial measurements too. EU rules...PAH !)

You just gotta love technology doncha (big smiley thing)