Sunday 30 June 2019

Understand Rap - Stormzy Is A Signpost

.. a hell of a lot of people , usually white, middle aged and older, and stuck in the seventies when it was normal to treat non whites as second class. This weekend saw Stormzy headline at Glastonbury much to the annoying of may of the people I've mentioned, but I doubt they gave the amazing spectacle he led and presented more than five minutes.

  This introduction to Rap and Hip-Hop shows that the genesis of this begins nearly a century ago, and to be quite honest I personally think it goes back a lot longer than that , Rap is basically spoken word poetry often with an added rhythm backing which may eventually be seen as a song, but Rap can be just spoken word. It is NOT singing but it IS performance and it IS ART.

The subgenres sort of grate on me as it seems to dissipate the art form, so GRIME is Rap with an electronic 140 bpm a bit faster that the standard disco 125 bpm , but as far as I am concerned it is RAP. A lot of songs can be performed with the most basic percussive backing be it hand claps or foot taps.

The Reduced Shakespeare Company demonstrated this with their "Othello Rap", as do poets such as does John Cooper Clarke with his live performances and this goes back to Beat Poets and well before then to the oral folk traditions.

I will admit I didn't know any Stormzy songs or pieces but he is just part of the vast tableau of art available to us these day. The Glastonbury performance was a huge production, involving a huge amount of people and planning . Stormzy was the centre , and wrote a lot of the material, but there were bands, fireworks displays, gospel choirs , other rappers and an Ed Sheeran cover in the set.

It was not limited to Grime and Stormzy can sing as well rap.  The set is available for 4 weeks on BBC iPlayer here. After opening with "Know Me From" Stormzy ran through the debut album with extras such as the aforementioned "Shape of You" against a backdrop of digital screens, fireworks and supporting cast. This was an impressive performance regardless of genre and was inclusive not exclusive, and was very watchable and an incredible triumph.

I do hope this performance stays in the digital world so that everyone can experience this incredible performance.

Maybe I'm a bit lazy, not wanting to go to Glastonbury but they certainly know how to stage a show.

If you haven't seen Stormzy , set aside a couple of hours and watch this performance while you can.

Stormzy is a signpost worth following. Grime won't be your preferred option but you will be impressed by what it can deliver. Oh and feel free to watch the "Othello Rap" that is both clever and funny ..... and totally boatless

Friday 28 June 2019


I'm in the sixties in age and in post numbers. This is post 1967 an in the year 1967 we were getting a lot of great music, albums and singles coming our way. More of that in a minute.

Last night I decided to check my blood but couldn't find my testing meter. I though maybe it had dropped off my desk. I saw my banking PINSentry , tablets , testing strips, testing needle but no meter.. Maybe cleaners had moved it. No sign. I do have a new replacement but I am working through the old testing strips before I move to the new device, then just as I had given up I noticed it on top of my  PINSentry and I realised that I had noticed that there was something on top of the PINSentry but it didn't register. A similar incident yesterday was me wondering what had happened to my phone ....... which I was holding in my hand. What am I like?

It the mid sixties music had really started to take off after the initial kick from rock and roll and to be quite honest this blog post could go on for a very long time to properly write about . I remember seeing the Who playing  "My Generation" on maybe Top of The Pops and the Byrds doing "Mr Tambourine Man" on Thank Your Lucky Stars , and going to my uncle's friends who put on "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" by Pink Floyd. This was all in the period 1963-1969 and added to this you had The Beach Boys, Beatles , Kinks, Jimi Hendrix , Cream, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, The Doors and a veritable cornucopia of music and acts to choose from. See what I mean.

As I listed the albums below, Amazon told me I had purchased "Blonde on Blonde" in 2006, I don't remember buying it but I do know I have it.

Below are seven albums from the time and we will go for "Good Vibrations" from "Pet Sounds" by The beach Boys for you to enjoy this sunny Friday morning.

Wednesday 26 June 2019


While looking for something else I came across a flash mob take on Ravel's "Bolero" . I had seen a wonderful one for Beethoven's "Ode To Joy" from his Ninth Symphony and this is just as charming in the way it draws the crowd of all ages, races, sexes and any other division we have and they all love it. Enjoying the music, taking photographs and videos, and loving it.

The great thing about these flash mob performances is that you learn how the pieces are actually made up. It is truly fascinating.

There are many Classical Flash Mobs on Youtube, check this list here.

I know this is not a very meaty post but I just wanted to share this phenomenon with anyone who stumbles across this blog post.

Enjoy and maybe learn, and hopefully one day you will be lucky enough to see one......

Women's World Cup 2019 - How To Play Football - Target 1965

This is post 1965 and my original target this year was to hit 2K posts by the end of 2019. I've now changed that to hit it by the end of July, so that's another 35 posts to do. The blog has dropped off the Feedburner radar. I am quite amazed that although I have friends that read this , subscribers are virtually non existent, and you can't ask people to subscribe, I very seldom subscribe to anything so cannot point a finger.

I'm still enjoying the Women's World Cup but have a despairing chuckle at the number of people (mostly men) who won't watch because it's not real football. Every match is full of skill and passion and heartbreak. While the reactions of the Cameroon team were wrong , they were caused by extreme passion and the accusations of FIFA racism were over the top but given Europe and The USA's treatment of African nations and indigenous people in the past and even today that is an easy card to play. The referee should have immediately called the captain and coach over to the VAR screen to explain the decisions. The Cameroon disallowed goal was unfortunate but the correct decision.

The thing is the competition has been brilliant and very little cheating , cynical fouls and the like that permeates the men's game.

So it's a very grey morning as we head to another Glastonbury Weekend, and though I love music and like smaller Festivals , bt the thought of Glastonbury the Festival leaves me cold, but I love the town and Glastonbury Tor gives you some amazing views.

So given that with my last Women's World Cup post I used Echobelly's "Dark Therapy" (one of my favourite ever songs) , and Echobelly liked the post although I barely mentioned them, for this one I am going to choose the more appropriate and brilliantly uplifting "Great Things". This will get rid of the grey skies this Wednesday , a brilliant record.


Monday 24 June 2019

Blue Sky Thinking

Today I was at the RVI for a CTI scan and in the corridor I noticed so illuminated blue panels in the ceiling that looked like a real blue sky with blossom. You can see them here. Above the scanning table was a nine tile version , and I remarked that I kept noticing the butterfly. The staff told me there were five, but the doctor didn't know that. He said he would check later. They are quite expensive LED panels like this .....

.... the thing is they actually lift your spirits , like a real blue sky. The CTI scanner is far less constricting therefore less claustrophobic than an MRI scanner so it wasn't too constrictive, but even though it was raining and grey outside the ceiling panels had me convinced that it was a gorgeous day.

They are a superb idea to make places lift people's moods.

I've decided to share "Bits of Blue Sky" by Godley and Creme a five minute sampler of their "Goodby Blue Sky" album, from the compilation "Images".

Sunday 23 June 2019

Luck and The Mystery Cat

This morning I went out for the papers and outside the dentists I noticed a large cat. He looked very familiar, like my neighbour's cat who is also large and furry. The fact that he came to me, didn't run away and had a harness on made me think I had the right cat, so I picked him up and took him to my neighbours about five doors down.

It was the right cat, my neighbour thought the cat was in the back garden on his leash, but it turned out that he had probably escaped when my neighbour was putting a bin out.

It got me thinking how many times it's lucky that we just happen to be in the right place at the right time. If I had not gone for the papers then I wouldn't have seen the cat and he may have got lost. This was not caused by any deliberate action be it was just a confluence of events that had a good conclusion.

Often people talk about fate or destiny but it's just really coincidence.

I just wanted to record that this happened.

I've also done some hedge trimming and therefore filled my brown bin, and it that hedge were two derelict birds' nests. I've refilled the bird seed hoppers so will see if the rat comes back, hopefully he won't.

I think I'll share "Cat Black (The Wizard's Hat)" which I first heard on The Best of T.Rex on the Fly label , but this was recorded as Tyrannosaurus Rex on the album Unicorn

Bookwise with Laura Purcell

I finished Matt Haig's excellent "Notes on a Nervous Planet" and decided to start on Laura Purcell's  novel "The Silent Companions". I bought the book from Amazon to to make up a package so I didn't have to pay postage and it is definitely not the sort of thing that I normally read, although it has definitely drawn me in with it's gothic creepiness. It jumps between three time periods the link being a potential murderess in an asylum , her family and their time ravaged home. It has been compared to various classic gothic novels, and although I I can't really comment on the comparison I can say despite finding it claustrophobic and not my normal far it has got my attention so well that I will happily continue on the end, and I don't really expect it to end well.

I had intended to hit 2K posts for this blog this year which meant I had to post about 210 this year,, but I have already posted 168 times so I could easily hit that target in July, which then means I will be thinking about hitting 3K posts.

Walking, I am still doing the rolling million steps every three months and to complete June I need to do another 56K steps by a week tomorrow so that is another positive for this morning.

I also need to mow the lawn and cut back some hedges, although it never fails to amaze be how much hedge actually grows and needs cutting back, but we have to remember that with a combination of photosynthesis and drawing water from the ground provided by rain plus the recycling of carbon dioxide to produce breathable are, these are essential to use staying alive.

I've also seen a rat in the garden, it actually looked cute and friendly, and was scavenging spilt bird seed and then looking round for something once the seed had gone. I think it was just an itinerant rat , like the hedgehogs and frogs that sometimes appear unexpectedly.

So what do we go with ? "Mad Alice Lane (A Ghost Story)" by (Peter) Lawlor fits the bill, named after a street in York. It was used in a Land Rover advert and reminds me a lot of Portishead and has a very disconcerting vibe while being a great record, although difficult to track down, but not impossible.

Enjoy your Sunday

Saturday 22 June 2019

Women ? Playing Football ?

I've just watched Australia vs Norway which went to extra time and penalties after watching  Germany vs Nigeria earlier. Som "men" has made a big thing about "not watching" the games. Well it's their loss. There is a lot of skill, some very nift touches, great goals, no acting like three year old spoilt brats, and the games are a joy to watch.

I think I've watched more of the Women's World Cup than I did of the men's. We are flooded with football but the women's game gives the impression of people playing for the joy of playing, not chasing a wage packet. And to be quite honest it's a slap on the arse for the misogynists.

Possibly the refereeing is not as polished as the playing, and also because women are generally smaller physically than men the pitches seem much bigger, but the games they give us are excellent, and that's what people come to watch.

The hard work, togetherness and pure joy that they generate is something truly to be savoured.

So what do we choose for music.

It has to be a girl band or singer. So I have gone with the gorgeous "Dark Therapy" by Echobelly who's female members included on vocals Sonya Madan,  Debbie Smith on guitar and Ruth Owen on bass. An incredible song from a great band.

If you haven't watched any of the Women's World Cup, start now. You will be impressed.

Friday 21 June 2019

It's The Summer Solstice

This came upon me quite suddenly , it's the longest day , the most light , there's sunshine, and it's Friday so basically a very very good day. Although we always assume Friday is good , many people I know work weekends so the Friday thing is not always a huge positive, but I do definitely like Friday because tomorrow provides the opportunity for a lie in , though I probably won't take it.

There's a lot of events and celebratins of The Solstice and thanks to the Internet we can find out out where they are happening and if we want go along to them. Obviously Stonehenge is a husge focal point for this as a sacred place for the Druids to see the Sunrise there.

Then we start getting into the pagan and natural religions which would later be homogenised and corrupted by Christianity, but the Pagan stuff is always more respectful and more fun to be involved, although I am very irreligious.

The number of videos about Stonehenge is big (see here) with lots of facts, theories and hokum, but it is a totally impressive structure, and though simple there's a lot of weight in those stones and remarkable accuracy in their positioning.

Hawkwind played many  festivals around Stonehenge so we will go with the "Watching The Grass Grow" thirty odd years back and the 1984 Festival. Wouldn't surprise me if they tried to be there today but todays corporate security will never allow it.

Thursday 20 June 2019

Forty Days

It looks like Feedburner has burnt out for the blog , but that's forty days of unexpectedly hitting over a thousand hits per day. It didn't actually bring it much advertising revenue either, but just nice to think a few more people (or a lot of robots) visited.

This has to be extremely short as I need to get to Durham and to attend a course , so we'll go with Chuck Berry's "Thirty Days" which is ten days less than the forty days the Feedburner referrals have been upping my visits.

Actually it's been a day strewn with mini disasters, but worked out fine in the end but the visits are back down to 50 a day even though most of those are still from Feedburner.

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Another Rainy Day

So another day where I don't have to water the garden. One the things about the Facebook ban is the fact you cannot communicate with anyone unless you play a game with them (I can message people in Scrabble but as I only have two people I play with not very good and I can contact both of those outside the game). A friend messaged me asking if I was OK but I cannot reply in Messenger. Just a warning make sure you have your import friends phone numbers or emails, and, although it may open you up to spam, put some alternate contact on your Facebook profile.

Today is grey and hardly uplifting, but I am being positive, have a course in Durham tomorrow and I see by daughters for a Father's Day get together tomorrow at Bar Loco which is always good.

I've just finished watching Chernobyl, an absolutely stunning mini series, and was struck by the similarities between the Soviet Government of that time and our current Tory Government with Brexit. Both refusing to acknowledge reality so their version of events is the one that's pushed. Having said that I've worked with a few managers who have had that attitude and one once said to me, "You might be right but I am in charge". They crashed and burned.

So what should we play this morning? What about "Go" by Public Service Broadcasting as it is a huge injection of positivity guaranteed to lift you out of any apathetic or lethargic state.

Yes we will GO!

Monday 17 June 2019

Early To Bed

Just a short post to say how good it is to go to bed early and actually sleep well. That sort of happened last night night and I've woken up to bright sunshine and blue skies, so even though it's Monday and I have to go to work and I have a hospital appointment for some cardio scan, although I think this is just due to the fact that I mentioned that sometimes when walk up inclines I get a bit of tightness in my chest. It's not anything that I consider being a problem but doctors know better than me mostly.

Chris Hawkins has the entertaining Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy (they did the theme to 'Father Ted' among other things)  talking about Dublin as well as playing songs from the new album "Office Politics".

Though I slept well I did wake from some complex dreaming and very often if that happens and I decide to have ten more minutes I fal back into the dream often to find out what happens, which is actually irrelevant  because most of my dreams make no sense at all.

This is post 1957 and 1957 is the year in which I was born, so I found Lonnie Donegan performing two of hits hits from that year "Cumberland Gap" and "Don't You Rock Me Daddy-O" which is always a good way to start a Monday.

Have a good one.

Sunday 16 June 2019

Scrabble and Facebook

I wasn't going to post tonight , but what the hell, I thought I'd then just dispose of a couple of things that were on my mind.

There are now only two people who play Scrabble with me on Facebook. If you read this and want to play me feel free to leave your details in a comment. Scrabble is one of the main reasons that I go on Facebook but everyone I've played with (bar two) have dropped off. Maybe they're bored or don't like playing with me any more.

Facebook Jail
I'm still on the ban, and while I may reinstall Facebook Messenger on my phone , Facebook won't be going on. Also give that I am on some kind of black list I have a feeling that next time it will be a three month ban. A facebook friend said it could be the image to the right which causes people who access your posts to report it as contavening Facebook's rules. That is a possibility, but I am making the assumption that anything I share could get me banned.

So basically with Scrabble coming to a halt and my inability to share anything on Facebook it isn't looking that attractive to actually use it as I did.

Since the ban the views to my blog have increased 25 fold so I don't think sharing on Facebook will improve it all that much.

I am probably using Twitter and Instagram more and installed Scrabble on my phone which the reactivated my Facebook account much to my annoyance. The problem is Scrabble has been a total pain recently by continually failing to load so that may be why my friends have dropped off.

So I suppose a suitable song for thinking they are out to get me is obviously "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath so I will share that with you on this Sunday night.

Classical Gas

I must say I am impressed with the sound of Classical albums on the record player that I got from RPM and was set up my Marek. On holiday I picked the Leopold Stokowski MFP album of Gustav Holst's "The Planets" and the Deutsche Grammophon vinyl copies of the Herbert von Karajan conducted 6th, 8th and 9th Symphonies by Beethoven.

"Mars" from  "The Planets" was the piece that actually got me into Classical Music when Alan Freeman played it on his Saturday afternoon show. At school music lessons consisted of the music "teacher" putting on a classical LP and that was it. Incredibly tedious for kids who's music preference was single an pop songs, although ironically we were fine with Yes, Pink Floyd and Mike Oldfield subjecting us to twenty minute pieces, but a twenty minute piece of music is seldom instantly catchy.

So just a short post, this and the visits are showing no sign of abating with 1400 visits yesterday and 38K over the last running month. I was hoping to hit 200K visit by the end of this year but today I will hit 220K so that has been smashed.

I've decided to share a take on "Mars" from the 2015 BBC Proms.

Saturday 15 June 2019

They Can Look Good

When CD came along we were persuaded by the pristine sound and their supposed longevity, but this was what I called the MCDonaldisation of music (Check here and here). You could skip tracks , skim through an album , play it in a different order using remotes and programming.  The jewel case was homogenous and meant that if it got damaged then it was easily replaceable. So CDs have become generally homogenised and don't really stand out.

However there are exceptions such as the reissue of Lift To Experience's "Texas Jerusalem Crossroads" and Edward II's "Manchester's Improving Daily" both wonderfully packaged the latter containing a book about the Broadside Songs featured in the body of the album.

"Texas Jerusalem Crossroads" is one of those albums that is like nothing you have ever heard before or since.

Rhino Records have done an original album series which features five albums in cardboard replica album sleeves often for under a tenner, but these are a joy to look at as well as play.

Retrospective compilations are often superbly put together, possibly my ultimate possession being the Elektra "Forever Changing" box which , as well as five CDs contains a book and album covers, photos and memorabilia some bits of which you can see here. This was originally priced at £150 but I picked it up for £40 from RPM in Newcastle.

So I am going to share "A Humorous And Interesting Dialogue" by Edward II for the "Manchester's Improving Daily" album used for a support the NHS video under Cameron's Tories.

Friday 14 June 2019

Forty Years Since Joy Division Gave Us Unknown Pleasures

Peter Saville Pulsar

It's forty years since Joy Division released their debut "Unknown Pleasures" which has been as influential in sound and design as the first Velvet Underground album.

The cover while being deceptively simple based on Pulsayr waves visualised by Peter Saville. There is further expansion here. Peter was themain Factory Records album cover designer and examples of his work can be found here

The album itself  was a Factory release produced by Martin Hannett and sounds as doomily fresh today as when it came out although then and now it still stands out as being like no other.

All the songs are being reimagined as videos for the fortirth anniversay and will appear on the Joy Division Youtube video channel , and start with "I Remember Nothing" ,

Full Credits here

Forty Years.

Fantastic Day

That was the record playing on the Chris Hawkins show when I switched on 6Music this morning. The rain has stopped and it's a Friday so that is a great initial start today and it's up to me to enjoy it and make it better.

I must have used that song before, but remember hearing "Favourite Shirts" by Haircut 100 and thinking it was extremely similar to "I Zimbra" by the Talking Heads. Haircut 100 were never one of my favourite bands but they and Nick Heyward came up with a few cracking songs which prompted me to buy a combined best of.

That is one of the issues with CDs is that they became so cheap that you end up buying a double CD (possibly over two hours of music for a three minute song) , I have been guilty of that many times. I wouldn't have bought it on vinyl, although my vinyl collection is a bit like a beard, it grows slowly but does need trimming to keep it in tip top condition. You should always be able to quickly find what you want to play.

My walking recently has been fragmented, partly due to the weather, but I am still keeping up with my rolling million steps every three months, and it is startling how many people seem surprised by it. Though Matt Haig made me laugh when he said "I used to just go for a walk, now I get worried if I don't hit my 10K steps a day".

So that's a few snippets to think about as you enjoy your Friday.

Thursday 13 June 2019

Coming Up

I wasn't going to post today, I'm not sure it the increase in visits has sort of addicted me to writing posts, although professional writers write a hell of a lot more than I do so maybe it isn't an issue. This is post 1951 so my target for this year is to hit 2000, and at this rate that will happen next month, not sometime in December as I originally hoped to do.

The thing is my writing here is not subject to editorial scrutiny aor targetted an a particular audience in order to become an influencer or to sell products, so I can post when and what I want. Also I have no deadlines to meet apart from self imposed ones.

I'm enjoying "Notes on A Nervous Planet" by Matt Haig and am coming to the conclusion that it's essentially a manual for surviving the modern world illustrated by his observations and experiences. It's not as uplifting as "Reasons To Stay Alive" but that's because it's more Haynes Manual than Harry Potter, it is still very good and you should get your own copy  (both books) and read and enjoy them.

I'm just reading how the consumerist world wants us to be unhappy so it can SELL us things to make us feel better. It is partly the reason I have 5K CDs and 400 DVDs because I have bought things because I thought I should have them, and then not watched or listened to. To address this a lot of CDs and DVDs have gone to the Westgate Ark Cat Shelter charity and I have a pile of 170 CDs that are listed on Discogs here.

I titled this because all of a sudden the 2000 target is coming up and it's also the title of a Paul McCartney song that I really like (The opener from McCartney II) so I will share that with you on this wet Thursday.

Wednesday 12 June 2019

Low Flying Cloud

Today has not really been raining but it's wet. It's like it's just very low cloud. I don't know if it will finally blow over but today has been a perfect example of dreek. The sky is grey the windows are wet and it's cold.

It's almost a month since the blog visits went from fifty a day to fifty an hour, starting with sharing on Twitter then being picked up buy Feedburner and since the 17th of May daily visits have not dropped below 1,100 and today is already up to 1,200 and I think it's based on the New York date line so there's still about five hours to go.

I do need to give it a day's rest but I keep thinking another post will fuel the visits, but I do need to try and have a day without posting, I've already posted sixteen times this month that is four posts every the three days.

The rain / mist is running down the window pane as I write this and to quote the cheesiest of lines it is a cold, dark, rainy night, not dark and stormy , just dreek.

I was surprised to be followed on Instagram by Louise Distras (her web page is here) who I saw, and was impressed with and chatted with at The Cluny where she was supporting The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing. She is an excellent artist and a really nice girl to chat with. My review of the gig is here. and that reminded me of the new video that Jordan Reyne has released for "They Came For You" from "Bardo" which is appropriate for this troubling times.

So it is time for bed, but it is worth checking out all these albums when you get the chance.