Thursday 28 February 2019

Do I Have To Cut My Hedge?

It's the last day of February, and it's misty and foogy and soon it'll be garden maintenance time. Half Man Half Biscuit are playing The Boiler Shop in Newcastle so that is one of my favourite bands playing at one of my favourite venues. It's similar to the excellent Wylam Brewery on Exhibition Park is being a very impressive building in a great location and a wonderful place for a gig.

At  The Wylam Brewery gig I was chatting with the guy selling the merchandise (got myself a 12" copy of "Dickie Davies' Eyes") and he told me how they nearly drove into the lake as the walk through Exhibition Park to the building is not exactly well lit.

Obviously the thought of having to trim my hedge coincides with the titel of the new album, which causes everyone who sees  and hears it varying degrees of mirth to eventual hysterical laughter. Whne I originally listened to the album I thought th einstruments were given too much prominence but on subsequent listens, it has just grown on me, and sort of encouraged to redelve back into the back catalogue and realise there are so many absolute gems from Nigel's pen that I have forgotten or completely missed.

You cannot finish listening to a Half Man Half Biscuit album and fail to have a smile on your face, and then want at least a little more. I was going to put a link on here re the genesis of Half Man Half Biscuit in The Guardian but when I did a google search it came back with this huge list. There is this on the lyric project page about half decent articles on the ban, so fill your boots and have a quick gander.

I'll just share "Everytime a Bell Rings" from the latest album (and you know the title) , now go and get your fvcking hedge cut !!

Wednesday 27 February 2019


Tomorrow is the last day of the month, and I have completed my steps with and it's now just doing a bit extra. The weather is obviously a lot milder even though it's only February. The guy at the back has actually mowed his lawn, though I am putting that off until at least the second day in March.

I look back at some of my old posts and they will be shorter than the first paragraph here. As I keep saying , I like to write a couple of hundred words and I am sure that at school we did 100 word essays, though maybe it was 500 words or a thousand words because one hundred words is about what I have keyed in here so far. How could you write an essay with that little fabric, although as school you could get very creative with very little if it meant more time to play or do what you actually wanted to.

When I am writing technical documents I am a great fan of white space because it draws people in to actually read what you have written. If you present people with dense blocks of text their mind will generally shut off and rail against the amount of words to read. Talking of reading I just downloaded the W. Somerset Maugham Collection from Amazon for a mere 99p. It has a few of his books including "The Magician" (inspired by Aleister Crowley) , "The Moon and Sixpence" (Gauguin), "Of Human Bondage" and more.

So what should we play, what about "Mondo Bondage" by The Tubes......

Musical Mind Wanderings

On my walks to work this week I was listening to Janelle Monae's "Dirty Computer", in my opinion the best album of  last year which I eulogised here and one of the things I love about it is the way it is bookended by two beautiful and wonderful songs, the title track with vocal arrangement and contributions from Brian Wilson and "Americans" which is a brilliant state of the nation song.

I was wondering what to play next  as I was maybe ten minutes away from work, and was tempted by Jethro Tull's "Passion Play" but then went for Thousand Yard Stare's "Fair To Middling" EP which is obviously a shorter listen. I couldn't hum a song from the EP but every one is so easy to slip into full of wonderful guitar motifs and extremely unskippable.

This is how music should be, not everyone has the same taste (I was sat next to  a girl listening to Happy Techno on the bus neccessitating me to put on my headphones and contuing with "Dirty Computer"), but syou should enjoy what you listen to. I'm not a fan of elevator music , phone hold music or lounge jazz but there must be people who are.

The problem with the music "industry" is things are decided by people who think the know "what the public wants" and certainly don't want to risk offending anybody.  It the sixties and seventies the top thirty singles charts were the gauge of public taste and  people like me were worried that one daye the tope thirty would become static and we'd be forced to listen to the same dross over and over. Ironically that is the staple of most local radio stuck in a particular vacuous time warp playing the records I want to forget, smooth , easy listening cheese.

Don't get me wrong I love Abba, Boney M, Erasure  and lots of great pop , I mean one of the greatest heavy metal riffs is the intro to Abba's "Voulez Vous" , basically good music is good music but sometimes certain radio stations just really turn you off. My Radio channel of choice is 6Music, but again that is not  to everyone's taste, though a musician friend once told me no one would ever listen to DAB channels.

Tuesday 26 February 2019

Kill 'Em All

We're approaching the end of February and because I've walked enough steps my daily walking has slowed down a bit. I'm also getting used to coffee made with Almond milk , which tastes a bit weird but is not undrinkable and it is supposedly better although dairy milk contains more protein which uses more calories to digest so in theory both are equivalent, but we shall see. The Almond milk I've been buying is only slightly more expensive than normal skimmed milk.

Last night I made an Aloo Chole so the last two days have been fairly vegan, which can't be too bad. I do find it strange that people have a problem with veganism, though these sort of people are always looking for something to have a problem with, so veganism just goives them an excuse to raise their blood pressure.

Currently I'm two thirds the way through "Kill 'Em All" the latest novel from John Niven following up "Kill Your Friends" although "Second Coming" was also a sort of follow up to "Kill Your Friends" and his referenced in "Kill 'Em All". The Simon Cowell charater is all you would expect and more, a total git , and the NOT Michael Jackson character (he can't be because he is white, and is vaguely compared with Jackson) is frighteningly possible as this takes in the whole post Trump election scenario and the fact that anything can be excused or dismissed as fake news.

So what would be a good song to accompany this, possibly my favourite late Jackson song "Black or White". Have a great day.

Sunday 24 February 2019

Early To Bed

Well it will be once I've written this. I've had a quiet weekend, though I expect my steps for February to be complete by the end of tomorrow. The weather has been a little warmer and soon it'll be time to release the lawn mower, a chore I really don't like doing , but it has to me done. It does amaze me the way that grass, bushes , flowers and trees grow with little more than sun and rain to feed them.

I've been playing Scrabble recently and while you always want to win, you really do need to get beat once in a while to bring you down to earth. I started playing with a lady who normally wipes the floor with me, and I know she has been through hard times recently but aware she is still active on the Scrabble circuit but I have beaten her twice (never happened before) although the third game looks like reverting back to type.

So I've been adding more CDs to my Discogs list and sort of realised that I buy stuff to support the artists usually. Sometimes I may not like the music, but almost always I listen music digitally or on vinyl, it's very seldom I actually play a CD although I do have quite few DVD masters and often listen to "Thick As A Brick", "In The Court of The Crimson King" or "Space Ritual" and the sound on these discs is amazing. I also managed to get hold of a copy of the Newspaper vinyl issue of "Thick as a Brick" from the Skipton Sound Bar so I can listen on DVD or vinyl or just the MP3 ( which I listen to quite often on my walk to work).

So I'll share with you a live take of "In The Court Of The Crimson King" before I hit the sack for tonight

Friday 22 February 2019

Quality over Quantity?

Most definitely not. Quality is also a very nebulous term, t can be bad or good, and when something is described as "quality" it shows ignorance or shiftiness in the describer and certainly does not inspire any confidence by me in the product.

February has been very sparse on posts this year, my lowest number of posts since July 2016 when I only posted eleven times, this post will take it up to ten and I will probably post again before the end of the week. My posts these days tend to be 200-250 words , so hardly a War and Peace type essay. Very often I see blogs and the post are absolutely huge and involved, and then the blogger decided it's too much and don't post again. Keeping it reasonably short means that there is no pressure on me to produce an in depth article and it is mainly to act as a diary for me although it is nice when I get comments from people.

I had a lovely comment on my Christopher Lee slideshow today

"Oh...oh my God...I dont think ive ever been this excited to stumble onto something haha! 

How nice is that? You can see it here. 

I have shared that video a few times and it is set to become my most viewed on ever, about to hit 16K views.

This morning on my walk to work I stuck on the "Mother, Maiden, Crone" remix EP and the new album "Bardo" by Jordan Reyne. When I first saw her a couple of years back in 2014 supporting The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing (review here) I was amazed, here music and performance gave me goosebumps like no artist before or since. On the night I bought three of her CDs from her I as that impressed, and walking along this morning I felt entranced by the hypnotic dark Celtic rhythms and sounds of her songs.

So it's Friday and I will share with you "Birth Ritual" the first Jordan Reyne song I listened to this morning.....

Wednesday 20 February 2019

Sing Hosanna, the Jazz Snobs are all going home

After giving up on "Second Coming " by The Stone Roses ("Love Spreads" is ok), I picked out "Some Call It Godcore" by Half Man Half Biscuit. My first thought was hey I've had this for so long and never listened to it, I don't know any of the songs, so wrong for someone who considers himself a Half Man Half Biscuit fan.

The opener "Sensitive Outsider" is excellent and seemed vaguely familiar , but I felt the over emphasised Jews / Jaws Harp detracted from the song though it does eventually fade. "Fretwork Homework" confirmed I had never listened to the album (Shame on Me, but I did buy it) and it is an excellent second song.

The "Faithlift" hit me, I thought I know this, so darkly funny and a brilliant refrain, in keeping with the vaguely religious parody cover and name, and yes I did know it and memories started to resurface. "Even Me With Steel Hearts" love to see a dog on the pitch, and yes I definitely know this wonderful album, it's just buried deeper that most others. Anyway you will know that the title of this post comes from the excellent "Faithlift" funny and barbed like most of Nigel's writing.

When you hear "(Seen by me mates coming out of a) Styx Gig" there is no doubt that this, while not a top division Half Man Half Biscuit album it's still excellent and better than The Stone Roses "Second Coming" though that's a bit Chalk and Baking Powder, the chalk does have lasting substance.

The finale monologue of "Tour Jacket (With eEtachable Sleeves)" is absolute top knotch Biscuitry, and in fact the album is (like all their stuff) brilliant and it is top disvision , maybe mid table Premiership sort of Watford or Leicester City, it cantains more than a few diamonds.

So that's my opinion of "Some Call It Godcore", well worth an extended revisit if you haven't listened to it recently.

Tuesday 19 February 2019

Baggy Metal

For the first time in years, if not ever, I have listened to "Second Coming" by The Stone Roses, and while it's not a terrible album, it smacks of self indulgence and really doesn't do anything for me. It is generally loud and very rocky with baggy rhythms and the production is excellent.

In some was it reminds of poodle rockers like REO Speedwagon , Journey and Toto, very polished but not really much substance. I think I used to like "Ten Storey Love Song" but now it just passes me by and the eleven minute opener takes an age to to get started with a lot of noise, but it is well produced. Listening to it I almost feel like a "dad" in my criticism of it.

I loved their first album, everything about it, as well as the associated singles and remixes, and I just never tire of it, even though "Fool's Gold" owes a huge amount to "Halleluia" from Can's "Tago Mago". So maybe it is just the heights of the first album mean that the second album could not possibly live up to it, and there is nothing to touch "Love Is The Law" by John Squire's Seahorses.

I don't normally like dissing things but it will be making space on my phone for something a bit more moresome, but who knows what....and I need to include "I Know Our Kid" by The Shirehorses cos .. well you know

Monday 18 February 2019

Keep Taking The Tablets

About a year ago I bought a scribbling tablet, sort of an electronic chalk board. At first I was disappointed because I couldn't easily make out what I was writing. I then decided to bring it into work and offer it to my manager for her children to play with.

Then, with the brighter light, I realised that it was a lot more readable and became useful for jotting down useful ideas or notes which once I'd finished with I could dispense with. Usually I used to do this with post it notes or note pads and pens. This means that I am not wasting paper, however little it might me.

These are cheap , fit in a handbag or briefcase, and if you need to keep what you have you can always photograph it. I#ve noticed that some do colour as well so that could be very useful, and yes the kids could be kept occupied with this while expressing their artistic talent.

I know this is not a usual post from me but I suppose it is vaguely in the realms of technology, but these things are genuinely useful.

I wasn't sure how I could fit music into this, then i found this Etch-A-Sketch sketching of Ray Charles soundtracked by his take on "America The Beautiful" . I could never do anything with Etch-A-Sketch which shows how clever and impressive this guys efforts are... the tablets are far easier to draw on.

Sunday 17 February 2019

The Best Record Ever?

We are always seeing polls about the greatest record, album , song , gig ever and people often ask me what was my favourite bit of some performance. My answer is almost always that I can't give an answer. I have a lot of  artists that I like and a lot of albums that I enjoy listening to over and over again but I am always open to new ideas. Having said that if you were to posit that Beethoven's Ninth Symphony was the finest piece every written I wouldn't argue against that.

I'm a great fan of Bob Dylan , Van Morrison , Tom Waits , Nick Drake and then I like Yes , Pink Floyd , Pop Will Eat Itself and Genesis . The list is very very long. I love Jimi Hendrix's "Electric Ladyland" but while probably "1983" is my favourite song , his take on "All Along The Watchtower" would be my favourite single of choice because it combines Hendrix's voice and playing with some excellent Dylan lyrics. The thing is "Elect Ladyland"'s predecessors are both amazing albums as well.

So I've hardly started and there is so much I could say. My favourite album of all time is Spirit's "Future Games" followed by "El Dorado" by the Electric Light Orchestra. "Future" Games" also contains a Spirit take on "All Along The Watchtower".

Going back to Dylan maybe "Lily,Rosemary and The Jack of Hearts" is by favourite song and is from "Blood on the Tracks" but then songs like "Desolation Row" and "Tempest" are wonderful (and long) songs.

I am also a fan of keeping it simple, and while it's amazing to play a million notes a second, if you can make one note interesting, then that is true genius. The Coasters' "I'm A Hog For You Baby" and "Tommy Gun" by The Clash both contain one note guitar solos. Added to this songs that just contain one or two chords mean that anyone can play them m Van Morrison wrote "Gloria" and Jonathan Richman's "Roadrunner" gets away with two chords.

I was writing this as an excuse to share The Avalanches "Frontier Psychiatrist" a totally dumbfounding patchwork of samples that solicitors gave up trying to sue for. Is is comedy ? Is it pop? I haven't a clue but it sounds amazing and the video is wonderful too, another example of musical genius and while it is a favourite of mine I really still can't tell you what my favourite is.

Friday 15 February 2019


Still on a Jethro Tull kick and decided to spin "Aqualung" on yesterday's walk to work. Aqualung is a fine album and full of great songs about Ian Anderson's attitudes to religion and God and obviously he's not too impressed.

The album is great and then gets blown apart by the standout song "Locomotive Breath", which starts out with a piece of more than acceptable lounge piano  before drifting into a little more upbeat driving piano before stopping and hitting you fair and square with that monster three chord riff, as potent as anything you will ever hear. It is so good that it just put's the rest of the album in the shade.

The thing is "Wond'ring Aloud", "Wind Up" and the sinister title track (I'm sure the red tops would have an obnoxious field day if the knew about the second line of that song). It is a great album though, but in my opinion only betterd by "Thick as a Brick" and "Passion Play", but does bear lots of repeated listening.

It seems that Google are ditching Google+ and this combined with Facebook's suppressions means that each post in this blog barely hits double figures for visits and reads, but as I have said this is for me and if others find it interesting then that is good.

We're in a 28 day February which means and increase in the number of steps I have to take to hit my monthly 340K steps, but I did it last year and this year shouldn't be a problem either.

It is Friday which is good, and I will share you the Fargo into that uses "Locomotive Breath" to stunning effect., but get yourself a copy of the album if you don't already have it.

Tuesday 12 February 2019

When You're Thick .... As A Brick

One of the problems with a  great deal of "progressive" music is that often the pieces stretched out for sometimes mind numbing length with obvious classical pretentions, although ironically the collections of songs together often created a uniform thematic piece thin "Wee Small Hours" by Frank Sinatra, "Tommy" and "Quadrophenia" by The Who and "Dark Side of the Moon" by Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd weren't averse to stretching out musical pieces to twenty minutes ( a side of vinyl) and I remeber Mountain stretching out "Nantucket Sleighride" over two sides of "Twin Peaks" one of their live excursions.

The seventies punk movement was a kick against this, but even these bands eventually got hit by self indulgence and some songs definitely strayed past the ideal 2'59" limit, which is not always a bad thing. I love the Ramones, Garage Punk (about my musical level) but I also like a lot of progressive music often just thinking I will never ever be able to play that.

My favourite pair of Jethro Tull albums are "Thick as a Brick" and "A Passion Play" and today I was listening to the former as I walked into work. You can hear and understand every word Ian Anderson and teh band sing, often a criticism by "adults" that "you can't hear what they're saying", and for me the music holds my attention throughout the forty or so minutes you are listening. It brings in many moods from acoustic pastoral to agreesive jazz spliced rock and keeps you on board for the whole ride. At no point to do you want to leave. Dance music it is not but would have filled any seventies mosh pit.

I must say it does actually make a walk go musch faster when you are listening to great music. Although Ian Anderson has apologised for it, "A Passion Play" is very close to "Thick as a Brick" and is another album I have been listening to quite a lot recently.

Basically good music i good music and it is stupid to limit your listening because you don't approve of a particular genre. It may be just that my taste is unusually eclectic that I do enjoy album length pieces but The Buzzcocks "Love You More" was only 1'30" on it's original release and that is just just as good as "Thick as a Brick" and both are in my collection.

Saturday 9 February 2019

Smokey Joe's

I was in town and passed Smokey Joe's and thought of the Coasters' (also known as The Robins) "Smokey Joe's Cafe" and when I was looking for the song on youtube found there was a musical of the same name celebrating the songs of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller which I have shared below. Not all the songs are to my taste but it does illustrate their impressive song repertoire. It is just song after song with dance routines and is very slick and impressive.

I really just wanted to include The Coaster's take on "Smokey Joe's Cafe" which was also covered by Buddy Holly for some reason, but that's what happen's with good songs, and Holly also did the definitive version of Chuck Berry's "Brown Eyed Handsome Man". Oh and Paolo Nutini does a fairly decent take on it.

See how mind works, it starts with a single idea then I start of picking up other tangents, though getting from The Coasters to Chuck Berry via Buddy Holly is not necessarily that far of a detour and it is definitely a pleasant one.

The video below is playing and I am mightily impressed with the song "Keep On Rollin'" which I have never heard before., then it segue's into "Searchin'" absolute genius.

So I was only going to mention Smokey Joes , but watch the musical, it is mightily impressive.

Friday 8 February 2019

Shadow Spider

I don't know if it's getting older but I seem to misread a lot of notices and signs. One interpretation is that I'm losing it, the other is that my perception is getting sharper because I am noticing it. The title of the post is from a misreading of a book title on Facebbok.

There's a card at work that says "Thanks" but the "Th" looks like a "W" to me. Maybe that's just my dirty mind.

I once saw a "Go Ahead Northern" sign and read it as Gonorrhea, again some indication of the workings of my mind. The thing is I realise my mistake immediatly and just see it as funny. In a way it is enriching my life with extra (if mistaken) language and words. I suppose Shakespeare must have used this and played with it, although I find some of his plays (especially "Romeo and Juliet") far too wordy.

Sometimes it's a visual thing so you get the words with LI in that look rude such as FLICK and CLINT which seen in the wrong light can cause a little consternation.

Carry On Films also exist for innuendo and mistaken meanings although barring "Carry On Cleo", "Carry On Up The Khyber" and "Carry on Screaming" most of them fall flat for me.

I am just going to put a list of my mistaken reads here which I may update as I find more. It's a bit
like the Clint chocolate cake:

  • "Go Ahead Northern"  -   Gonorrhea
  • "Thanks" - W@nks
  • "Clint" - C*nt
  • "Give The Gift of Cinema" - read Cinema as Enema (Seen in Tesco)

So what song should go with this, sometng literary and wordy, although all songs contain words, and there are so many songs that have mis heard lyrics such as "Kiss The Sky / Kiss This Guy" from "Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix. Although I've used it before I've going to go with "Wrong" by Archers of Loaf one of my favourite ever tunes which I first heard on "The Speed of Cattle" and perfect for me contiually getting words and phrases wrong.

Wednesday 6 February 2019


This is post number 1812 and as such need to ibnclude the "1812 Overture (with Cannons)" by Tchaikovsky. Interestingly "Night of Fear" by The Move was based on the main "1812 Overture" riff.

It's almost a week since my last post and one of my #August50 posts came up in my feed where I did mange to post over 50 times in August 2018. I don't expect to do that this year, although I once saw a blog that had thousands on one line link posts each day. I am not too sure of what the point of that was.

I'm just back from another weekend in Whitby managing to scoff lots of fish and chips at the Magpie Cafe and picked up a pristine copy of Can's "Tago Mago" from the MIND charity shop. he album was also inspired by the occultist Aleister Crowley, which is reflected through the dark sound of the album as well as being named after Illa de Tagomago, an island which features in the Crowley legen, which was a surpise to me.

I was once listening to a compilation CD curated by John Lydon and walked in and was listening to something which I though was maybe a remix of The Stone Roses "Fool's Gold" , but it was, in fact "Halleluiah" by Can. I have seen numerous spellings but that's what it is on the vinyl album. I do have it on CD as well (40th Anniversary) but the vinyl copy is something well worth having, and, as I said, was a charity shop bargain.

There are a few places in Whitby to pick up Vinyl such as The Whitby Bookshop, but most places are aware of their worth.

So this is my first post in February, and we shall see how many I do this month. It's really just about noticing things and being bothered to write things down.