Thursday, December 31, 2009

So that was 2009...

I've just read through one of those glossy magazine top 150 albums of the decade and realised I didn't know very many of them! Whether this is due to my apathy when it comes to buying stuff eulogised over by the press ("Don't, don't, don't, don't, don't believe the hype") or because the last decade has been genuinely musically mundane is yet to be fully ascertained.

This particular top 150 of the "Noughties" featured an album by Fleet Foxes in the top 10. I heard them on the radio recently and I honestly thought I was listening to Crosby, Stills and Nash until the Disc Jockey informed me otherwise. So the Noughties seem to have returned us to the hippy heyday's of 1969...and that's progress kids...in the words of a man far more erudite than I "Did I Fight In The Punk Wars For This" ?

Anyway, not that anyone asked but, here's 5 that did it for me in 2009

Brakes - Touchdown



The third album from a band made up of members of some other bands whom I have forgotten (British Sea Power might be one of them but I may be wrong). Their first two albums contained songs that ran to only a few seconds long, covers of Johnny Cash hits and were a pleasure when I first had them recommended to me.
"Touchdown" appears to have taken all the best bits from the first two and honed the sound into a more focussed...errrr...thing.

Ade Edmondson & The Bad Shepherds - Yan, Tyan, Tethera, Methera!



Take some serious folk players, get them to arrange in a folk stylee some of the best songs of the Punk/New Wave period, get yourself a comedian to sing 'em all, and...it surprisingly works very well!
Some of my favourite songs (Down In The Tubestation At Midnight, God Save The Queen (no, not the National Anthem) and Whole Wide World) done in a style more associated with beards and arran jumpers than drainpipes and skinny ties.

Rammstein - Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da



My guilty pleasure perhaps ?

Rammstein perform the Metal on an Industrial Germanic scale. All sung completely in German (well until the last couple of albums when a disconcerting amount of bad euro-English has reared it's head) with one of the greatest live shows I've ever seen, if you don't believe me check this out (that's the opening song from this record and is fast becoming my favourite Rammstein song).
Not the sort of thing I usually like at all but this stuff is played with such precision, played so loud and done with such an obvious sense of humour that I can't help liking it.
Myself and my son made another trip to the continent to see them last month and were not disappointed. We shall be seeing them again in February.

Brendan Benson - My Old, Familiar Friend



Another one that was recommended to me by a friend and has become a firm favourite over 3 solo albums. Only trouble is Brendan has spent the past couple of years neglecting his solo thang and moonlighting as one of The Raconteurs, which has left me subjected to the vocal screechings and pointless fret w@nking of one Jack White.
Thankfully he's found time to make another record of his own and for anyone who shares my penchant for US power-pop in a vaguely Jellyfish style, you'll like this.

Miles Hunt & Erica Nockalls - Catching More Than We Miss



I guess I'm preaching to the converted with most of you who stop by here but from time to time people drop by and leave nice comments about things I've written here who I have never met, and so this is for them.
This is the best album Miles has made! A fabulous collection of songs, lyrically flawless, it features Erica's first vocal and is without doubt my album of the year.
Biased ? Youbetcha. Do I care that you think that ? Not for a second!
(Oh and if you're going to buy it, listen to the samples at Amazon but please buy it from here...thanx)

I'd also like to make a special case for Henry Priestman, Frank Turner and Dirty Ray.

Dirty Ray tells us "In a previous life I was the singer/songwriter with the band Immaculate Fools, but times change and so have I". Ray hasn't released an album this year but his contribution to the Shared project was quite simply breathtaking. "The Rain Song" is one of the finest songs of this, or any other decade for that matter, and if you've not heard it then I would urge you to pay a vist here and get yourself acquainted with it.

A bunch of us "discovered" Frank Turner while sitting on a grassy bank at the Beautiful Days festival, drinking Otter Ale while Frank entertained us in the background. He eventually managed to muscle his way into our conversation mainly due to the fantastic performance he was putting in onstage and partly due to his rather wonderful lyrics wedging themselves into our heads.
I ran off to the festival CD store as soon as he had finished and bought a copy of "Love, Ire & Song" which, as it was released in 2008, doesn't qualify for the above list but has definitely been the soundtrack to the second half of 2009. See this post for all the links you need to check out Frank. It's just a shame his album released this year wasn't really up to much but I'll stick with him for a while yet.

Henry Priestman has been with me for a long time but I've only recently rediscovered him (thanx to my brother). I well remember in 1979 buying the debut album by Yachts (you can hear them here) partly because I had some spare money and partly because I'd heard them mentioned on the John Peel show. This resulted in a private obsession with them which only culminated last year when I finally found a decent copy of their 2nd album, "Without Radar", to replace the all but dead cassette copy I owned. After Yachts split Henry went on to form It's Immaterial and then became the principal songwriter for The Christians, not really to my taste but then most of the 1980's wasn't.
My brother informed me a few months ago that Henry had released a solo album, "The Chronicles Of Modern Life", which I can heartily recommend to you for a listen. Witty songs about getting older is how I find it, which for me raises a wry smile at times. Again Henry's album was released in 2008 so doesn't qualify for this list but as I'm guessing that most of you that read my ramblings have similar tastes musically, I venture you'll like this.

We are apparently now into the "Teenies", who knows what delights lie ahead ? Good luck on the journey people x

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

He might pass by in the hour of need...



7 years today since Joe left us. Hells teeth, time flies. And right now we really need someone like him around.

I was lucky enough to meet him just before he went and, in that short time I spoke with him, he left a lasting impression on me.

Rest easy brother Joe...

"A Prince and man has left the earth
I can’t believe the news I heard
He so moved me
"
Amsterdam - Joe's Kiss

Monday, November 23, 2009

Keeping The Faith...

Well we tried, I think we tried quite hard, but perhaps some people aren't prepared to try quite as hard as we did, or be in any way open minded.

The next time I hear someone say there's nothing going on Northern Soul-wise in our area, I may well scream.

The next time I'm DJ'ing and I get asked for any of the following trio:

Barbara Mills - Queen Of Fools
Edwin Starr - Time
Mood Mosaic - A Touch Of Velvet A Sting Of Brass


I may well get very, very lippy with the requestee ! Don't get me wrong, at least 2 of those I like, but when you see the guy in the white t-shirt (the same white t-shirt he's worn everytime I've seen him over the last 9 months) approaching you and you already know what the records he's going to ask for are, it's a little depressing.

For those of you who are interested and open minded enough to take a listen check these out:

Garnett Mimms - Prove It To Me
Patti Drew - Stop And Listen
Eddie Floyd - Things Get Better
Delores Hall - Good Lovin Man
5th Dimension - Train Keep On Moving
Doris Willingham - You Can't Do That

Anybody that needs a frustrated DJ, apply below...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Reading List...

The last few books I've read have all been biographical...

John Peel
Keith Moon
Kirsty MacColl
Gram Parsons
Graham Chapman

I really need to stop reading about dead people !

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Lights, Camera, Action...

Well after telling you all some time ago I had this whizzy new video camera that would allow me to upload stuff here I finally get around to doing so.

Here is a clip of myself and Sally playing at the Open Mic night at The Crown last Thursday...enjoy!

video

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Doesn't it annoy you when...

...you find a new artist whose back catalogue is fabulous. You spend some time looking forward to the arrival of their new release and...errrrr...it's not very good

Ho-Hum the search continues

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Sounds...New Styles...

"If music was the food of love then I'd be a fat romantic slob"
Frank Turner - Substitute

"One good thing about music, When it hits you feel no pain,
So hit me with music...Brutalise me with music
"
Bob Marley & The Wailers - Trenchtown Rock

Just about sums things up for me I think. But every now and then I go through periods when I think that pop certainly has eaten itself and that I'll never find anything new or exciting to listen to again. I have to confess to having spent most of this year collecting and listening to old soul and reggae records.

But then in the space of a couple of weeks a whole clutch of new music has come to my attention and if you'll indulge me I'd like to point some of it your way


Shared is a project started by my brother in an attempt to bring to the world's attention some new and exciting music, an admirable cause indeed. The Shared album was released earlier this year and features 3 tracks each by 6 artists, some you will know and some that will be new to you all.
Alongside Miles Hunt & Erica Knockalls you'll find Wayne Hussey (formerley of The Mission), Dirty Ray (previously of the Immaculate Fools) as well as new artists Rob Dunsford, Matthew Derrick and Timothy Parks.
Dirty Ray's astonishing "Rain Song" and Rob Dunsford's 3 songs really stand out for me but it's all great stuff that you can get here


I've been a fan of Brendan Benson for a long time now. You may know him from such bands as The Raconteurs but he had a solo thing going on way before that band.
I've often thought that amongst the 2 Raconteurs albums there is a very good Brendan Benson record struggling to get out.
Well he has a new solo record out this month, "My Old Familiar Friend" and although I haven't yet heard it I'm very excited about it


The Music Lovers. One of my Dad's post swimming drinking buddies told my Dad his friend was coming over from the US for a couple of weeks. He's a musician, came from Birmingham but now lives in California and has a band and will be playing at the Moseley Folk festival on Sept 4th. He handed my Dad a copy of his friends latest CD asking if myself and my brother might want to take a listen.
I put it on one afternoon while I was doing something else, honestly not expecting much. Oh how wrong you can be. This is a great record, with great songs delivered in a vaguely Scott Walker-ish style. Lyrics about Alum Rock must confuse the hell out of their American audience.
You can hear samples from "Masculine Feminine" here


Steve Heathcock sent me a Friend request on MySpace. I presume because of our shared liking of The Wonder Stuff. I was in the office alone yesterday so went to his MySpace site and listened to his music. It appears we also have a shared liking of all things 60's and mod-ish.
If you are at all a fan of things like The Prisoners, Making Time, Paul Weller etc. then I advise you to give Steve Heathcock some of your time and check out his tunes.
And when you've been suitably won over you can buy them here


Sometimes you stumble across/run into/get introduced to something that knocks you sideways and becomes an obsession for the next year or so. I think I'm going to be obsessing about Frank Turner for the forseeable future.
There we were sitting on a bank at the back of the main arena at the Beautiful Days Festival last Sunday, myself and my inarguably better half, Duffield and Sally, Mr EveryWare, Suz and Rich, we were drinking beer and nattering away about this and that. There was a band on stage and I kept hearing bits of music and the odd lyric that kept making me stop and take note of what they were doing.
A running order was consulted and I found out this was Frank Turner, never heard of him before. After he'd finished I wandered off to the onsite CD store and bought a copy of "Love Ire & Song". We put it on in the car on the way home and again, things kept jumping out amidst the chatter and the road noise. When I got home on Monday I managed to find time to stick the album into iTunes and get it onto my iPod so I could have a proper listen on the train the next day.
Jesus H Christ this is good stuff! The line up at the top of this post there from Substitute is only one amongst some truly inspiring lyrics harnessed to fantastic pop tunes (I don't know if he would thank me for that description given his background in hardcore and Punk Rock) and sung with heart and soul.
I haven't been this moved by new music since hearing Damien Dempsey. I recommend you visit Frank's Myspace and pay particular attention to "I Knew Prufrock Before He Was Famous", "Photosynthesis" and "Long Live The Queen".

Enjoy people...

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Read All About It...

Tellin' Stories...

Been away for a while, virtually and literally. I had a (much needed) week off last week and on Monday last commenced the great shirt hunt, more of which to come.

So last Monday myself and my inarguably better half boarded a train bound for "that London", primarily so that I could buy the suit (see here) for the wedding we are going to in September, and with the secondary purpose of purchasing a particular shirt to go with said suit. Now my other half is Matron of Honour at this wedding and will be wearing a most comely wine coloured gown. So in the spirit of spousal solidarity I thought it would be a rather splendid idea if I were to wear a shirt of a matching hue (you'd never guess I'd been reading PG Wodehouse recently would you!). I didn't think my requirements were too outrageous, shirt, one of, wine in colour, button down collar, (preferably) short sleeved. The shop from which I purchased the suit had such an article but, alas, not in my size. All sorts of promises were made about getting the material and making me one but I kinda knew I would never receive the promised call (I haven't).

Off we set around the West End in search of a shirt. 5 hours and at least 30 shops later (including an hour traipsing up and down Jermyn Street to no avail), I remained shirtless. This search was going to be more of a challenge than I had suspected.

On Tuesday we were waiting in for a delivery which had been promised between 9am and 2pm. The delivery driver rang the doorbell at 7.45 am ! As we needed to be in The Celestial City that evening we set forth for the city centre to resume the great shirt hunt. 3 hours later all we had found was a shirt of almost the correct shade but costing more than the video camera I recently purchased. I told the salesman I would have to think about it !

Wednesday was my darling wife's birthday. We had spent the previous night at her mother's and arose on Wednesday morning at stupid-o,clock in order that we might catch the 7.15am flight from BHX to Auld Reekie (that's Edinburgh to almost everybody else) where we were to spend 3 days in the absolute luxury of the Hotel du Vin with my brother (who shares the same birthday with my wife) and his girlfriend.

Highlights were many, varied and sometimes unexpected over the next 3 days; my brother's pop concert on Wednesday, meeting up with Dave the Hat in the Grassmarket, the seriously expensive business of wading through the Hotel du Vin cocktail menu, the Drop Ride at the Edinburgh Dungeon, Dubh Prais (if you are ever in Edinburgh and in need of a good restaurant I can highly recommend this one), Mary King's Close, The always wonderful Bow Bar and a cousin's delivery of Haggis and Scotch pies on Friday afternoon among them. But we knew we had something to do, something was gnawing at us that we needed to attend to...you guessed it, the great shirt hunt.

We began in Frasers on Princes Street, they had a burgundy and white striped Ben Sherman but sadly again, not in my size. Debenhams...nothing. High & Mighty...some very nice garments but none fit for purpose, but the very friendly salesman in there suggested a place called Get Shirty on Rose Street. I have included their URL as an aide to any gentleman reading this with a similar shirty problem too myself. Get Shrity is truly a jewel amongst shirt shops. Any colour, any style any size seemingly available all the year round. Yes you guessed it we found the shirt (and at a very reasonable price I might add (so reasonable in fact that I was able to go to HMV and purchase a copy of a Charlatans CD containing a track that had taken my fancy in a shop earlier in the day...it's here if you're interested)) 400 miles from where the great shirt hunt began we ended our quest, a lesson in perseverance if ever there was one.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Another New Toy...

Amazon have just delivered me a Flip Video Camera (a bargain at that price even if it did go up by a fiver inbetween me leaving work and arriving home !).

I've just discovered you can upload video here

Now we have a whole new world of possibilities don't we ?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

All Quiet...continued...

Here he is, front row on the left, Pte. 8655 Thomas Callow, my Great-Great Uncle.



If you click the image you'll see a larger version. If you have no idea what I'm talking about look here

Monday, June 08, 2009

Have You Got Anything By The Damned Mate ???

I know, I know, it's been over a month, I've been very slack when it comes to blogging and I humbly apologise to the three people out there in the world that actually read my ramblings.

So what's been happening in my world ? Well, gigs/festivals, redundany, DJ'ing and a school reunion pretty much sums things up.

Them crazy Wonder Stuff types have been out on the road recently celebrating the 21st anniversary of the release of their debut album "The Eight Legged Groove Machine". We hopped around a few of the countries O2 Academies playing to audiences reliving their youth (shame they can't come out in such numbers when Miles and Erica are doing their solo shows) and a generally spiffing time was had by all. We rounded it all off with a great day in the sunshine at The Wychwood Festival at Cheltenham Race course.

The redundancy bit was the recent downer. Not me I might add but my wife who was basically forced into accepting redundancy by the gutlessness of her directors at a large transport terminal in the countries 2nd city (it wasn't a train or bus station and as Birmingham is land locked I'll leave you to figure out where it may have been). We're looking at it as positively as we can. She'll get a nice fat payoff which will clear her debts and leave her with a nice tidy sum to bank. Also since we moved house 4 years ago she hasn't taken well to the 90 minute commute to and from work so it will give her the push she needs to really find something closer to home. I know she'll find something, she's totally employable so won't have a problem finding somewhere that'll want her.

I've had a go at DJ'ing on and off over the years and always really enjoyed it. What I've always wanted to do was DJ at a Northern Soul night. Trouble is those nights require you to have a large and expensive collection of 7" vinyl singles as CD's are very much frowned upon in the Northern Soul world (well if you'd spent thousands of pounds and hours assembling the killer vinyl collection and some guy turns up with 2 CD's with all the same tracks on you're not going to be best pleased are you ?). Well in February a fella going under the pseudonym of "Agent 0-0 Soul" started the Telford Soul Club at a Sports & Social Club not 20 minutes walk from my house. I attended of course, went up to talk to "Agent 0-0 Soul" and was delighted to see he was spinning from CD's and not vinyl. After a quick chat I volunteered my services and he said he'd let me know. Well at the May event he let me do an hour and I had a great time. I must have done something right as he let me loose on the decks for another hour last week and I think I'm on for next month too.

On Saturday I went to something that I really wouldn't have expected myself to want to go to, a School Reunion. Now it was a little under attended, at most there were 10 or 11 of us (even one of the organisers didn't bother showing up !) but it was a top night out. Met up again with a guy I used to play rugby with 30 years ago and with my ex-girlfriend, which was an interesting one as my wife came too. But it's something I think I would really like to do again on a much bigger scale. Not sure I'm volunteering to organise it tho' !

I also found out last week some more info about my ancestor Thomas Callow (see my last Blog entry here). Well my Uncle has turned up a photograph of him and a set of his medals. I'll hopefully get to see them soon and I shall definitely be scanning the photograph so will let y'all see him when I do.

As we say in the Celestial City...Tararabit

Thursday, April 23, 2009

All Quiet...

A group of us are off to France tomorrow for a few days. The primary reason for going is to visit the Eastern Cemetery in Boulogne and pay our respects to Private Thomas Callow.

I need to check this but I think Thomas Callow was my great-great uncle (my grandfathers uncle). I've done a little research on him and it was remarkably easy to trace his route from Birmingham to a cemetery in France.

Thomas Callow signed up with the Army Special Reserve on 29th August 1912 at the age of 19 years and 5 months, meaning he was born sometime in March 1893. He joined the 3rd Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment. As a reservist he was mobilised when war was declared in August 1914 and was shipped to France on 2nd November 1914.

On 12th March 1915 the 3rd Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment attacked Spanbroek Mill near Lindenhoek in Belgium on the Western front, about 8 miles south of Ypres. Thomas Callow's Army service record reports that he was "Wounded"..."In action at "Lindenhoek"...G.S. wound "L.' Leg". I don't know on which date as his service record was damaged by fire in a German bombing raid on the War Office in London during 1940. However the "Effects of Wounds" reported in his service record are that Thomas Callow "Died 16 3/15" or the 16th March 1915.

The Worcestershire Regiment website tells us that "During the attack on Thursday 12th March 1915 the men of the 3rd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment suffered heavy casualties with 9 officers and 77 other ranks killed. All but two of the officers are burried at Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery. All but four of the other ranks are remembered on a panel at Menin Gate Memorial at Ieper (Ypres).". Thomas Callows name is not amongst those listed as being remembered on the Menin Gate.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website has this to say about Boulogne "Boulogne, was one of the three base ports most extensively used by the Commonwealth armies on the Western Front throughout the First World War. It was closed and cleared on the 27 August 1914 when the Allies were forced to fall back ahead of the German advance, but was opened again in October and from that month to the end of the war, Boulogne and Wimereux formed one of the chief hospital areas."

Now this is me making assumptions here but I guess Thomas was wounded while attacking the mill at Lindenhoek on 12th March 1915. Sometime between that date and 16th March 1915 he was moved to a hospital at Boulogne where he subsequently died from his wounds and was buried in Boulogne. He had served in the Worcestershire Regiment for 2 years and 200 days and was 21 years old, just short of his 22nd birthday.

My son is almost exactly the same age as Thomas was when he died. I can only begin to imagine how his parents James and Catherine reacted when they received the news of his death. A sobering tale indeed

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Plaque Security

I'm at an airport. One of my least favourite places.

I've just had all my toiletry items confiscated as apparently they are a security risk.

I'm willing to bet more people are killed every year in the UK due to murder, suicide and drunk driving than have been killed by terrorist attacks on aircraft leaving the UK in the last 10 years but still I can't take mouthwash to France !

Friday, March 27, 2009

Play A Fast Un Ya Bassa...

If you refer back to here you will remember I was trying to get together some tunes to play at our local open mic night. Well I did it last night and a thoroughly terrifying experience it was too!

With much help from Howard who runs the open mic's at The Crown I managed to bumble my way through 5 songs:

I Wanna Be Sedated (Ramones)
Smith Is A Liar (The Libertines...no not Doherty's talentless bunch)
Timeless Melody (The La's)
Jo The Waiter (Tubeway Army)
Sing Me Back Home (Flying Burrito Brothers)

And I only managed to balls one of them up completely !

the search now begins for new tunes

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

You Should Never Have Opened That Door...

"By the dawn of the 70's, the philosophy was that you couldn't do anything without a lot of money. So my philosophy was back to 'Fcuk you, we don't care if we can't play and don't have very good instruments, we're still doing it because we think you're all a bunch of cnuts.'

I think that's what really created the anger - the anger was simply about money, that the culture had become corporate, that we no longer owned it and eveybody was desperate to fcuking get it back. This was a generation trying to do that
"

Malcolm McLaren
(From "Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History Of Punk" by Legs McNeill and Gillian McLean)

Modernism Part 3...

"Nobody spoke to Mods until Pete Townshend wrote "I Can't Explain".

"I feel hot and cold, Yeah down in my soul" - that's Elgar on speed."

Irish Jack Lyons

Oh The Man Doin' The Boogie (Boogie)...

Never been much of a fan of Malcolm McLaren. Always struck me that he was taking a lot of credit for stuff that would have happened without him anyway.

I keep a copy of the excellent "Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk" by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain in my bathroom. It's the perfect book for such occasions as it is split into very short "vox pop" type sections.

This morning, while perusing said volume, I came across a short section credited to Malcolm McLaren. It really struck a chord with me, made me think how we need something similar right now.

I'll reproduce it here later when I get home. And then hope the IPR police don't descend on me like a ton of bricks. As they say, watch this space...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Starstruck

These days I live in Telford, Shropshire. It's a "new town" created in 1963 when some government functionary stuck a pair of compasses in a map of Shropshire and drew a big circle encompassing such long standing villages as St Georges, Priorslee, Oakengates, Hadley, Ironbridge, Broseley, Wellington etc. etc. and pronounced "right we'll call that New Dawley". Sense eventually prevailed and the "new town" was named Telford (in honour of the Scottish engineer Thomas Telford who built what we now know as the A5, or the Holyhead Road. Actually the Romans started it hence some bits of it being straight as an arrow (see below) and Telford added some bits that eventually joined London to Holyhead in Wales and hence the ferry to Ireland)

The A5

Anyway Telford is known for many things. It's know as the cradle of the Industrial Revolution due to Ironbridge's reputation for iron smelting and the building of the first iron bridge there (see what they did there?); it's known as a former mining area; it's known because the Romans settled there; it's known because The Wrekin is close by. What it's not known for is the number of famous types who frequent it. So imagine my surprise yesterday when travelling home to find two such famous types travelling through it or actually being in it !

I boarded my usual train home yesterday afternoon and after finding my inarguably better half and sitting down a bit of a kerfuffle began in the aisle next to us. A fellow in a parka ("hmmm, Mod", I thought. I notice these things) began unpacking his bag and removing said parka and in the process blocking the aisle as people were trying to get on and find seats. As he removed the parka I noticed the label on his jeans "hmmm, Levi 501's" and to confirm my suspicions looked down toward the floor to see 1" turn ups on the 501's and a pair of green suede chisel toed desert boots. "Definitely a Mod" I thought to myself. He sat down and I looked over at him and was most surprised to be confronted with the face of Paolo Hewitt. "It's Paolo Hewitt" I muttered to my better half "what's he doing on a train to Telford ?". Just about then some older ladies came and sat down, a discussion began about reserved seats and Paolo eventually disappeared into the next carriage so I never got the chance to find out what he was doing on a train toward Telford.

Paolo Hewitt

So then, for those of you who have no idea who I am talking about, Paolo Hewitt (that's him above), is a writer, great friend of Paul Weller and über Mod. His writing covers the wide spectrum of all things Modernist from his biography of the Small Faces (The Young Mods Forgotten Story), Mods in general (The Sharper Word & The Soul Stylists), himself (The Looked-after Kid: Memoirs from the Children's Home), Ben Sherman's (My Favourite Shirt) and of course Paul Weller (A Beat Concerto & The Changingman). He also wrote the introduction to the sleeve notes of a CD box set called "The In Crowd - The Ultimate Mod Collection 1958 - 1967" an anthology of Mod music, which in my opinion is the best short summary of what Mod is I've ever read. If you are interested in the Mod lifestyle at all, Paolo is the man to read.

Now if all that wasn't enough there was more ! I left the train at Telford, and caught a bus home from the station. As we were stuck in the mini traffic jam that seems to accumulate at the exit to Telford Central Station around 5pm-ish I looked out of the window and saw to my astonishment a large gentleman, dressed from head to toe in black, his black short sleeved shirt unbuttoned halfway down, balding but with black hair around the sides. Again I said to my, by now blasé, better half "it's The Count". "WHO?" I hear you cry. "The Count...Ted Hankey...current BDO World Professional Darts Champion" I reply.



I love darts, I used to play it, very badly I might add. Now I know Ted lives in the town but I must admit to being surprised at seeing a World Champion striding across a grass verge next to a car park in Telford. Can't imagine ever seeing Roger Federer doing that !

Crikey, what a day...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Lux Interior

He passed away on Tuesday in hospital. Great band, great singer...enjoy this

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Busy, Busy...

Things are shaping up to be a little busy over the next week.

On Friday 30th We'll be at "Shared" at Birmingham Town Hall, one of the finer bits of architecture left in my hometown following the municipal sponsored vandalism of the late 50's/early 60's.

A fine line-up it promises to be too and I am apparently "guitar tech without portfolio" for the whole evening. Should be fun.

Then on Saturday it's my sons 21st birthday party. Kinda snuck up on me this one as it feels like not too long ago we were watching Thomas The Tank Engine videos and being terrified by music video's featuring The Bass Thing ! Looking forward to it immensely and I will get to do one of my infrequent DJ sets.

And talking of DJ's I have just discovered there is a regular monthly Northern Soul night at a club not 20 minutes walk from my house. I knew those new shoes would come in handy.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Suit

Here 'tis



Well that's it, I've shown it to the world now. I won't be purchasing those shoes however (I got over those twentymnuph years ago !)

Friday, January 09, 2009

Almost There...

...there being the end of my first week back at work after a blisfully lazy 2 weeks off around Xmas. Can't say that it's been too stressful but it's always a bit of a shock to the system having to adjust to doing what someone else wants rather than what you want.

It's now time to shed those extra pounds ready for the rather exciting wedding we'll be attending later this year. Have to shed the pounds otherwise I won't be able to fit into the dream suit I have my eye on for the occasion. So if you see me with chocolate, crisps, kebabs blahblahblah then feel free to stop me (pints on Fridays are allowed though).

I was given a rather splendid and most unexpected present over Xmas by my brother, a Yamaha CPX-900. "What's one of those ?" I hear you cry. Well, it's one of these:

Yamaha CPX-900
And very splendid and lovely it is too. One of the conditions was that he can have it back for photo shoots if needed, because it looks great, and the other condition was that I have to learn to play all over again. I haven't wielded a guitar in anger for about 20 years so right now my fingers really hurt as I've been trying to put together a few songs to play at some point at our local open mic night. Given that the guitar seems to have been supplied with knitting needles instead of strings I need to get some lighter guages on there pronto.

As far as tunes go, so far I've re-learned my own song "Smith Is A Liar" and made what I think are passable stabs at The Ramones "I Wanna Be Sedated", The Flying Burrito Brothers "Sing Me Back Home" and The La's "Timeless Melody". I'll keep you informed on how things progress.

I've also been asked to sing in a band being put together for a one-off event later this year. The upside is I get to wear the dream suit to do that too, the downside being I may have to sing a Bryan Adam's song ! (No not THAT Bryan Adams song, credit me with some standards).

Oh and a recommendation for you. If you fancy a good read try "The Modfather: My Life With Paul Weller" by David Lines. You don't have to particularly be a fan of the Modfather's to appreciate it. But if you've ever had a slight obsession with a band, musician or lifestyle that you parents thought was a bit "strange" then you'll appreciate it, and it's only 6 quid at Amazon right now. Oh, and if you do read it, make sure you don't have a mouthful of coffee when you get to the bit about the snails !

Toodle-pip kiddies