Friday 30 March 2012

National Cleavage Day 2012

Apparently instigated by a bra manufacturer such as Playtex or Wonderbra , denigrated by women's groups , embraced by both men and women as fun, is this much different to Guinness appropriating St. Patrick's Day?

You could say that it objectifies women , but women are attractive to men . That's genetic. I wouldnt want any woman to feel threatened by this but really it's a bit of fun intended to seel underwear , in particular bras . If more are sold then that helps the economy , and I'd rather women were having fun that preparing the Sunday lunch in the kitchen .

More fizz , more wine , more bacchanalian fun , and if you wish to display your cleavage feel fee to do so,

Not sure which day it is , whether it was yesterday today or tomorrow, but I don't thingk it does any harm.

HMV - How Much Longer

I visited HMV in Shrewsbury yesterday . I've pointed out about the drought of record shops in Salop , but found HMV in a shopping centre. I also managed to buy six CDs and Trojan Mento compilatopn , a Carribean Compilations and Terry Hall Retrospective , and The Stereophonics singles and something else.

Anyway the HMV seemed to be mainly selling DVDs and Blu-Rays along with a big section for Apple i-Things . The CD section was miniscule , the only contempory CD on display was Madonna's new album . No Black Keys El Camino or Jack White Bluderbuss. No singles , no chart display, and certainly no vinyl. I may have missed something but they had quite a lot of floor space and very little devoted to music.

HMV's looking like it hasn't a clue what it's doing . It's logo is a dog listening to a record player. It's looking like the only appropriate part of that is the dog!

Wednesday 28 March 2012

Drought In Salop

For the past couple of days I have been pottering about in Shropshire and Powys , mainly in Ludlow and Shrewsbury and Knighton. The buildings are interesting and very old , people are friendly and the weather is wonderful but that's by the by.

I was slightly disappointed to find no record shops in Ludlow ,unless you want to buy from Tesco or Oxfam. But barring Tesco and a new WH Smith being put together there are no chains in Ludlow and the Park and Ride  is remarkable good value for money.

Worse still Shrewsbury is a much bigger town and still no record shop , barring Oxfam. There may be an HMV but that doesnt really count as they will sell anything, the record space in most HMV stops decreases by the second.

We have World Record Shop Day which coincides with Newcastles High Bridge Festival and World Book Night on the 21st April , so that is a plus to look forward to. If you go here you can download iPhone and Android Apps to find your way around,

In Salop we'll make do do with the nice weather , historic buildings , Aardvark Books and Thion at Leitwardine!!

Saturday 24 March 2012

Has Nothing Happened?

I'm slightly amazed that I've only made two posts this months . Is this because nothing has happened or because I've been so busy with stuff I've not had time to post? Probably a bit of both...

I'm just recovered from an approximately 40 hour bout of 'flu which completely laid me out , not very nice at all . Just slept through while my Rumanian cleaners did their excellent stuff as usual . If you live in Newcastle and need cleaners  I can recommend APM Cleaners unreservedly.  Anyway now fully recovered and ready to go.

Preston North End have managed to stop conceding and start scoring again . The play offs are out of our reach but the club is on a more stable footing and there are some excellent young players gaining experience and Thorsten Stuckman is a great name for a goalkeeper . Pity we lost Neil Mellor to injury but the club has been stripped bare , but hopefully will become a lean mean fighting machine.

The lawn is looking like it needs mowing but another week wont hurt.

Looking forward to lots of music at the Doll @ The Black Bull , The central Bar , Trillians as well as the Mouth of Tyne Festival and Evolution (Jumping Hot Stage) where last year I discovered Mama Rosin (they're Swiss ya know) , as well as seeing The Buzzcocks , Neville Staples , CW Stoneking , Bellowhead , Billy Bragg a bit of Iggy Pop and more . Anyway that's it for now - enjoy the vids

Monday 5 March 2012

The Bok , Stiff , Rabid and a little John Peel

In 1976 Andy Marshall had a gig to fulfil with his band Marshall Law. Unfortunately the band left before the gig took place so after a a phone call or two The Bok (singular of Box) was formed . Simon Clinic (aka Tony Eyre) original vocalist left before the first rehearsal, but in true punk fashion we wrote songs for the gig as well as a few covers to spread out the set. All gigs were in and around Preston in carious clubs , pubs and halls. The band consisted:
  • Andy Marshall - Guitar - Vox - Songs
  • Mike Singleton - Guitar - Vox - Songs
  • The Hippy Mark Lester - Bass
  • any drummer we could find but mainly Dave Topping
Songs were chosen for lack of chords and ease of playing and obvious influences were Velvet Underground , The Damned , Jonathan Richman. Covers we did included:
  • Waiting For The Man
  • Psycho Killer
  • Rue Courier (Roadrunner - in French)
  • Shot By Both Sides
  • The Passenger
  • Gloria
  • Egyptian Reggae
Songs titles I remember apart for the demo list were:

  • Sick of Beer
  • Tennis
  • Rant and Rave
  • Accident
  • Magic Eye
We had a gig in the basement of a pub in Preston. I had been using Ollie Halsall's trick of practising with heavy guage strings and playing with light gauge strings. This meant you could play very bendy sols and chords , but also in the hot sweaty confines of the pub basement  the guitar needed continuous retuning as I played . Guy came up to me at the end and send he loved my inplay tuning , didnt have the heart to tell him it wasnt planned. The DJ didnt like us and when we launched into Magazine's "Shot By Both Sides" he started playing the record as loud as he could, The crowd took umbrage and trashed his decks - nice show of appreciation!  Anyway .......
........Basically the idea was to choose some songs record them and despatch to people who mattered in music. John Peel tahanked us but said we were too primitive! Stiff Records apologised that they sent us a pre printed rejection letter , but Rabid Records of Manchester wanted to record us and put out a double "A" side single of "Mystery Band" / "Happy Birthday" , with an accompanying video involving pies , bikes and aqualungs!! . We went to Rabid's headquarters in Manchester but everyone had buggered ogff to the CBS launch of John Cooper-Clarke's Disguise In Love. Graham Fellows aka Jilted John aka John Shuttleworth dropped for rehearsals for the Jilted John album . He reckoned we looked like students. Also Martin Hannett did a lot of work with Rabid artists!!

An unexpected side effect was that a lot of girls stopped talking to me because they thought we were going to be on Top of the Pops!! Never could work that one out , the only time being in a band had an adverse social effect!!

After cups of tea and making plans the guy asked us what studio we had used . Studio? We hadn't a clue but the reason for John Peel's dismissal may have become apparent. Anyway Rabid records went bust fairly quickly after that and the band sort of didnt go any further though things could have been different.....

Below are some salvaged demos - enjoy:

The Bok - Rabid Stiff Peel Demos by Mike Singleton on Grooveshark

Saturday 3 March 2012

Classical Music - The Good , The Bad and The Ugly

From an early age I learned to hate classical music. Music lessons at school consisted of a teacher putting on an album , flipping half way through , then nipping out for a fag leaving us to suffer the noise that we didnt want to listen to . But classical music was and still is deemed to be respectable , while everything else is for the uneducated proles.

Then there were great plays like Abigail's party in which Mantovani was presented as the height of sohistication , and the truly attrocious "Classic Rock" series , attempting to make rock respectable by having the melodies played by an orchestra , finally resulting in the even more attrocious "Hooked On Classics" series ,  classical music , with a disco beat "Stars On 45" style.

My reintroduction to classical music came through Alan Freeman playing "Mars" from Gustav Holst's Planets Suite on his Saturday Rock Show. Mars with its threatening martial rhythm is a superb piece , and prompted me to buy the album. A couple of listens and "Jupiter" is still my favourite instrumental piece from any genre.

Around this time John Peel started playing music by the Portsmouth Sinfonia and energetic Orchestra who basically couldnt play their instruments but tried , a bit. They backed Brian Eno on "Put A Straw Under Baby" from "Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy" and are rumoured to be making a comeback. They had at least one album and a single "Classical Muddly" . Whatever "Hooked on Classics" could do , the Portsmouth Sinfonia could realy screw up and manage to entertain in the process.

Now we have stuff like Classic FM which just presents classical music as stuff to fall asleep to . This si not so , you have Stravinsky , Wagner and lost of challenging stuff , for fun the light opera of Gilbert & Sullivan . If you were to tell me that Beethoven's 9th or something by Mozart was the greatest piece of music ever written , I wouldnt argue. My own personal favourite complete suite is Carl Orff's Carmina Burana . In "O Fortuna" it displays on of the main problems with classical music , going from quiet below human hearing level to earsplitting crescendo in a minute or so. Sound systems cant really cope. Anyway below should be a playlist of the album for you to listen to. Just because a lot of it is bland , boring , long , in a foreign language , doesnt mean it isnt worth the effort. It is , but you do have to be selective!!

Carmina Burana - Carl Orff by Mike Singleton on Grooveshark