Wednesday, 12 August 2020

With The Possible Exception of Being Garth Crooks - #AnimalAugust #9

Every time I wash a sieve the Half Man Half Biscuit song "Lock Up Your Mountain Bikes"  from "Look Dad, No Tunes" comes to mind:

"There is surely nothing worse than washing sieves

There is surely nothing worse than washing sieves

With the possible exception

Of being Garth Crooks

There is surely nothing worse than washing sieves"

Possibly very true but what Garth Crooks has done to incur Nigel Blackwell's ire , I haven't a clue.

Today is very hot and clammy but foggy. I went to Morrison's but wearing the mask can feel a bit claustrophobic , but we are in a different world now until a vaccine is found for COVID-19 . The mask is annoying the alternative is frightening.

Talking of claustrophobia , which I suffer from slightly, that is the feeling that I am getting in "The Lost" by Jonathan Aycliffe , being trapped but frightened of what might happen, ironically I'm enjoying it , and saw parallels in "The Revenant" in the cold, snow , and forest settings , although one is in North America and the other is in Romania. Leonardo Dicaprio's fight with the cear is stunning, and Tom Hardy play s a great villain.

Keeping with Half Man Half Biscuit for #AnimalAugust we will go with "King of Rome" which is about a pigeon , and one of their covers but not officially available digitally. Here is a list of their covers. Luckily for everyone it is on Youtube and you can listen to it on this post.

Monday, 10 August 2020

Be Prepared - #AnimalAugust #8

This weekend has been mostly vegetarian / vegan and I do find that good vegan food is generally more palatable that most animal carcass based food. But I am not a vegan , not even a vegetarian, but do enjoy fish and sometimes chicken. The vegan stuff is generally a lot lighter on the stomach and always goes down well, and you never have to wonder what's actually in a vegan meal.

Sometimes some stuff can seem a bit bland but that's why vegan cooks are more inventive in their meal preparation, so vegan meals tend to bevery morish.

Just thinking of the next post number that I will mark and it will be 2345 , which will probably happen in September at the current rate of writing .

This morning I have started my #MusicWhileYouWork with a Go Go Midgets EP and "The Texas Jerusalem Crossroads" by Lift To Experience , which twenty years on is still an awesome experience to listen to, and that is their only release that I am aware of although Josh T Pearson released a solo album and several EPs.

I am currently working through "From The Beginning" by Emerson, Lake and Palmer which , like the curate's egg, is good in parts , th einterview wit Aaron Copeland over their take on "Fanfare For The Common Man" is illuminating , as their version is a six minute jam bookended by the actual "Fanfare For The Common Man".

The Jonathan Aycliffe novel "The Lost" which I had regarded as almost comic has taken a much darker turn in the second half, with and ever increasing body count, which although I have read it before I had forgotten about. The book is excellent and half way through I am looking forward to find out what lies in store in the Carpathian monthains.

For #AnimalAugust we shall go with a live take of "The Dog, The Dog , He's At It Again" although it's not really about a dog , but it's an excellent song by Caravan.

Sunday, 9 August 2020

Bingeing - #AnimalAugust #7

I never thought I could say I binge watched anything , but recently I have polished off "The IT Crowd" and am nearly though "The End of the F**king World" , also finishing "What We Di In The Shadows" as well. If the episodes are under thirty minutes then it is quite easy to watch a few episodes at a time. Oh I forgot "30 Rock" and "Parks and Recreation" as well thanks to the Sky Comedy Channel and I am  working my way through "Veep" and "Silicon Valley".

I've also completed "Brassic" , "Tales From The Loop", "Vikings" and the first series of "Miracle Workers" , so this would all imply I've been binge watching.

I am also working my way though my CD collection (mainly the box sets) while I am working from home, and while most of this is revisiting, it does allow me to choose my listening. I do pepper it with a little 6Music as it's always good to hear new stuff.

Also this is the seventh post this month so I'm almost binge writing , although I have had some months where I have averaged almost two posts a day. I hadn't intended to write this as I want to go to bed, but it's hot and I've now written this, so happy to share.

For #AnimalAugust I am going to share "Caterpillar" by The Cure.

Sleep well. Work tomorrow.

Dreamworks - #AnimalAugust #6

Would this morning from a weird dream sequence. I was in an open plan office with my boss and team and someone started playing loud music but I was on a call . My boss suggested we move to an office (my normal response would be to tell whoever was making the noise to quieten down) , then I wanted a shower but couldn't because there was some guy in the shower bed (that is a bed that you had to sleep in before having a shower) so I couldn't and thought I will have to go home. The dream made no sense at all, although probably influenced by the fact that I listen to a lot of music while I am working from home. One of the things about the dream was to keep on going to get things done which I do normally anyway , but really it's Sunday afternoon , and the dream is almost completely gone from my memory.

This morning I tried to share an article on Facebook , but know I would probably be banned because it would not share the link without the Guardian image. The article is here and the image is not pornographic or offensive but Facebook's algorithms are dodgy to say the least. Her Instagram posts are here. The article's headline is :

"Instagram ‘censorship’ of black model's photo reignites claims of race bias #IwanttoseeNyome outcry after social media platform repeatedly removes pictures of Nyome Nicholas-Williams"

Now if this were a topless white man , nothing would be said.

TV is still providing a lot to watch though I have just finished "The IT Crowd" on All 4 and thought it was great , love the room with all the seventies technology like the 8-Track Sphere and the Sinclair Spectrum and Commodore Pet and the Altair 8000 (wasn't that a planet in "Forbidden Planet" ?

So to keep #AnimalAugust, on track I'm going with  "I Love My Dog" by Yusuf Islam as part of a live "greatest hits medley"  ,  when he originally released it he was Cat Stevens , and his is one of the box sets on my #MusicWhileYouWork list ("On The Road To Find Out") while I am working from home.

Saturday, 8 August 2020

Homework - #AnimalAugust #5

This week has been another working from home. Using Microsoft Teams means that you can contact people when they are at work so it's not a problem and you don't feel isolated.

This week has also allowed me to listen to a lot of CDs including some that are for sale on Discogs because I don't really play them all that much , although ironically my sale pile is the closest CD group to my CD player. The reason for this is that generally  I am finding 6Music a bit samey , although the DJ banter makes you feel you are with somebody and you do hear new music which is a great reason for listening to the radio.

The Cds I went through include "The Raven" by Lou Reed and the first Stone Roses album, plus a Fotheringay box set  (I am fairly eclectic which you know if you follow this blog, but that's only half a dozen people). Also for the #AnimalAugust we will go for a live take of "The Raven" by Lou Reed based on the writings of Edgar Allen Poe.

On the book front I have finished "Everville" and while it is an excellent book it left a lot of unanswered threads, possibly ripe for a third book of the series. I am now rereading "The Lost" by Jonathan Aycliffe which is a bit lighter than his normal stuff with some wry black humour similar to the recent BBC take on "Dracula".

The weather is good so enjoy your Saturday.

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

The Wicker Tree - #AnimalAugust #4

A few years back I picked up blu ray copies of "The Wicker Man" and "The Wicker Tree" Robin Hardy films separated by nearly forty years. "The Wicker Man" is a masterpiece and does not need and never needed a follow up, but generally the people who watch  "The Wicker Tree" will be fans of "The Wicker Man" and as such extreme disappoint may be the best that you can experience.

The film was made in 2011 and lots of things hark back to the seventies, some of the acting is very two dimensional, and the storyline (two born again US Christian hicks sent as missionaries to pagan Scotland and ending up as targets for the pagans) is very shallow , though there are some good one liners and digs at Bible Thumpers , Graham McTavish as Sir Lachlan Morrison is excellent as the Christopher Lee / Lord Summerisle figure.

Also the landscape shots and scenery is top notch, even the ruined castle is very impressive.

The problem is that if "The Wicker Man" is this season's Liverpool , the "The Wicker Tree" is this season's Wycombe Wanderers , in their own sphere absolutely fine , but you try and compare and latter is bound to come a cropper.

The film is short , maybe 100 minutes but is probably far more watchable that Nicholas Cage's  "The Wicker Man" remake. and I wouldn't put you off it. I was apprehensive when I saw the IMDB ratings but those fears were , in my opinion, unfounded.

So what #AnimalAugust song should I share with you , it's still a bit reptilian , as the first thing that came to mind is "The Snake" by The Pink Fairies from the "Never, Never Land" album , but this is a 2014 live recording from The 100 Club , where I went to see Ben Waters.

Enjoy the Pink Fairies and give The Wicker Tree a visit.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

The Midgard Serpent #AnimalAugust #3

Still another sixty pages to go in "Everville" and still have no real clue about the Uad Uroboros, the monsters of the book. The Uroboros part is based on Ouroboros , the self sunstaining perpetual worm or snake that surronds the world based on the Midgard Serpent Jörmungandr from Norse mythology.

While thoroughly enjoying the book , I am still confused as to why I bought this and never actually read it, it will definitely be revisited, and I know one of the characters Harry D'Amour maybe just from "The Scarlet Gospels" or "The Great and Secret Show" , so it is slightly surprising.

It is a very grey Tuesday but the rain has stopped and I have been listening to a couple of CD boxes today. One was the first five Alice Cooper albums and this just confirmed that they didn't really take off until "Love It To Death" with some impressive songs with one of their best (and creepiest) "The Ballad of Dwight Fry" sseguing with with frightening but originally funny synchronicity into Rolf Harris' "Sun Arise" . The Cooper song refers to a child stalker and well you know what I mean. The album is still excellent.

"Killer" is even better , but not of the albums hit forty minutes so that was a great morning's listening.

I am now listening to the "Zang Tumb Tuum" box set which is 3CDs and a DVD , and while there is some good stuff on there, I liked the Alice Cooper albums better.

In keeping with #AnimalAugust (and the Midgard Serpent) I am going with the excellent Northern Soul song "The Snake" by Al Wilson , a truly great record that always grabs your attention when it comes on the radio.

Sunday, 2 August 2020

Still In Everville - #AnimalAugust #2

Last night , this morning I was having another weird dream , someone had stolen my ladder from my garage , and the garden umbrella looked like it was going to be next , the door was open so I pushed it to close it and it shot out of the garage and landed in the middle of the road. It was hardly the most interesting or inspirational situation so I was happy to wake up and get out of bed.

I'm on the last 100 pages of "Everville" and I definitely have never read this. In 'The Great And Secret Show" the mostrous Iad are a treat on the other side of the dream sea Quiddity , but in "Everville"  we see them close up , this is not something, even with my rubbish memory, I would have forgotten.

I did a couple of Instagram posts yesterday essentially talking about album covers and sets, Instagram limits you to a minute so I have sixty seconds to say what I need to and they have got a surprising number of views and likes , so I will be doing some more. Here's one , but you may have to log in to see it.

So continuing #AnimalAugust I am going to simply go with "Animal" by Def Leppard. I remember buying the "Overture" single on their own Bludgeon Riffola label (which might be worth something now although you can pick it up for about £20 on Discogs  . I heard the record because John Peel played them to death , but once they made it they badmouthed Peel and said he never played them . If he hadn't I wouldn't have bought the record.

Saturday, 1 August 2020

#AnimalAugust and Album Covers

Today I will start the #AnimalAugust sequence , which is basically every post will feature animal related music in band name, song , record label or something else.

Apropos of nothing I was looking at album covers on the internet last night and there are various lists of album covers. Like many things because we are no probably into the seventieth year of album cover design , there are lot of examples good and bad, and was shocked to see glaring omissions and seemingly bland inclusions.

Some of my favourite album covers are a lot more that the front cover (I'm thinking Barney Bubbles and Storm Thorgerson / Hipgnosis ) and sometimes you do get a single striking image but a lot seem to be covers that are just there because the artist is very successful and famous.

Here are some list for you to peruse:

I do buy vinyl albums mainly for the covers, or some uniqueness about them, but my preferred vinyl listen is probably reggae , although I also like electro disco , and finally got a copy of "En-Tact" by The Shamen which can be picked up very reasonably on Discogs  .

Some of the iconic covers that stand out for me are the first Elvis Presley album which influenced "London Calling" by The Clash , Andy Warhol usually gets two mentions for "The Velvet Underground and Nico"  the front cover of which only features Warhol's name, and "Sticky Fingers" by The Rolling Stones , both quite complex designs although deserving of their place in any list.

At the bottom this post will be twelve of my favourite album covers which you can click through to Amazon to check out although it may go through to the digital copy, there should be links to the vinyl copy.

Sometimes Picture discs can look good , I'm thinking the mandala effect on "Air Conditioning" by Curved Air, and there are some with zoetropic designs which look impressive under the right conditions , plus the laser etched 3D holograms which are  often impressive, first seen on Jack White's "Lazaretto" I believe.

Then you have the Vertigo Swirl which is simple and hypnotic and worth buying any piece of vinyl so you can sit and watch it.

Vinyl , because it is bigger gives more options for creativity.

If you would prefer to support your local record shop check out these in Newcastle from this post here:

So we come to the first #AnimalAugust song which will be "Fireball" by Ducks Deluxe , they also do a cracking version of Sonny Curtis' "I Fought The Law".

Friday, 31 July 2020


When I work in the office I do not listen to music or podcasts because I think it's courteous to be available to my work colleagues. At home it's different, I always have noise on which falls into the following groups:

  • CDs - Currently working my way through my box sets
  • 6Music - My goto radio station
  • BBC Sounds - For Sound Mixes , Programs I've missed and podcasts

Each one has it's own benefits and drawbacks . When you listen to your own music collection you have the choice of what is played , with options to repeat or skip.

BBC Sounds is slightly similar in that you can stop and fast forward, switch and pause, although you do need to be able to stream or download what you need to listen to.

Radio is similar to sounds except that it's live and with both you can discover new music (this happens a lot to me as I subscribe to the 95% is rubbish so look to find the 5% and there is always great music being produced).

So today I am currently listening to 6Music but will soon switch to may latest box , "Citizen" by Steely Dan which I didn't get round to yesterday, and will be fine for this sunny Friday , so I will share "Sail The Waterway" the other Steely Dan song that is not officially available in any digital format, apart from Youtube.

I have decided to go with #AnimalAugust in which every song I post this august will be in some way animal related , either in th eband name , the song name or something closely related like the record label. I should be able to do that.

Thursday, 30 July 2020


Today is grey so that's why the post title came to mind . I thought Grimalkin was a witch's cat it in "Macbeth" (it was a familiar of the three witches) , but it's also an archaic generic name for a cat. While I like photographing cats I treat them like dogs and children , ok as long as they go back to their owners. I tag my pictures with #CatsInNam and was surprised to find an Instagram Influencer Profile here.  I tried searching for #CatInNam on Google but every site that maybe had something then redirected , so you will have to search for yourself on Instagram or Twitter or my tag @mikeydred96 .

My intention today was to listen to "Citizen" by Steely Dan , a great compilation but missing two of my favourite Steely Dan songs "Dallas" and "Sail The Waterway" which the band thought were so bad that they never appeared digitally, but they appear as vinyl rips on Youtube and I recently rebought the 12" vinyl copy from Discogs. So that's why I am sharing "Dallas" with you.

However I picked up on "Babylon's Burning" a rough and ready guide to punk from 1973-1978 and the four CDs while consisting mainly of demos and live takes was very listenable to my ears. I had been thinking of selling the box but it definitely earned it's place in my collection with lots aof great bands on there, and by four thirty with systems not behaving at work I thought it was a good time to wind down.

Steely Dan will be tomorrow, and my box also contains a burned copy of  "Can't Buy A Thrill" augmented by the aforementioned favourites , so I have a lot to listen to tomorrow as well.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020


This is my lowest posting month since January 2017 which was a sort of aim this year, so that is good, although I now have an idea for a pig posting next month, sharing songs which feature an animal, which should be fairly easy to maintain, but we shall see what I feel like on Saturday. It is easier to write if you give yourself a theme or thread to follow,

I suppose it's similar when you write a story or a book , you need something to hook the reader , and ideally keep them involved. I'm currently watching "Tales From The Loop" on Amazon Prime and finding it a little depressing, but some of the sets are great , looking like a vaguely alternate 1950's close to dustbowl America. The thing is you are captured because you want to know what The Loop is and does , featuring time slips , stopping and starting time , and conspiracy. It's only eight episodes but if there is a series two I probably won't continue with it , but need to hit the end of series one, so it has me in it's clutches.

I use Google Sheets to track my steps and noticed there was a discrepancy is the running total and the summed total , this meant checking earlier sheets , they all balanced, so I individually checked the daily totals and found one in error which I corrected. It was a really odd error but must have happened when copying cells. It's fixed now.

I have two CDs to listen to in the Velvet Underground "Peel Slowly and See" box , then it's going to be Public Image Limited's "Metal Box" and then maybe "Plastic Box" which should keep me going for the rest of this week (probably ten hours of listening.So I'm going to go with "Fishing" for it's awesome looping guitar riff which I first heard on "Plastic Box" by is from "Album"

Monday, 27 July 2020

Dream Fragments

I often wake and want o find what happens in what I'm dreaming , good or bad. I'm surprised that bits of a dream I woke from a couple of days back have stayed with me. They make little sense although I think where they came from from . Robocop characters working with and attacking a group I was with (probably influenced by the second series of "Altered Carbon" that I finished last week on Netflix , a computer terminal flashing up that I needed to take annual leave (we are getting work reminders about this and I have taken nothing but Bank Holidays this Financial Year, so that is nearly four months without a chosen day's leave) , and I wanted to know if we got out of the "situation" , but I woke fully , so the dream was lost. This does happen to me, and probably everyone quite frequently.

Because I am ahead of the curve on my walking I only have to do 4K steps a day to hit may target for July , which therefore makes me a little lazy, though it means I have more than hit my target this month. I did think that lockdown was going to stop me from doing my million steps every three months but as yet it hasn't. I am lucky that I live in an area with plenty of places to walk.

This week I am continuing with working through my CD box sets and today it's The Velvet Undergound "Peel Slowly And See" , the first CD being demos put together by Lou Reed , John Cale and Sterling Morrison , "Waiting For The Man" being almost Country and Western Swing style and "Venus In Furs" a medieval acoustic work out, these are interesting but not easy listening. At the wekend I was listening to their debut album on vinyl and noticed for the first time that the band's name doesn't appear on the front cover, but Andy Warhol's does.

So we'll go with a take on "All Tomorrows Parties" , I think the drum sound is awesome on this, as I write I'll listening to the first album with the extra takes , but is a definitie experience.

Saturday, 25 July 2020

A Cautionary Covid-19 Tale (That Has Nothing To Do With Covid-19)

Today I have been remarkably tired , although I've been out a bit and done more than my normal 11K step target. This morning I fixed a picture that had been disconnected from it's frame (a little sellotape fixed that) , and posted a CD off to the USA, so it's not as though I have been doing a lot or a little, but on the way back from town had an idea for a short story, which may not be to everyone's taste but every story needs an idea, and this is just a straight draft , no editing , just coming out of my mind.

So a 300 word black humoured short story (probably influenced by Roald Dahl)  for you

All my posts these days have an accompanying video, I think "Free" by VAST is sort of suitable.

A Cautionary Covid-19 Tale

The takeaway had a sign in the window (which was fully covered in advertisements and the takeaway menu) , "only one customer in the shop at any one time, wait til the ENTER sign lights". The ENTER sign was lit so he opened the door went in and checked the menu on the wall.

After perusing the menu he placed his order and pulled out his card.

"Cash Only , we don't take cards, there is a cash machine next door"

He checked his wallet and had enough to pay for his meal, so handed over the notes and took the change.

"Thanks it'll be about twenty minutes, are you OK waiting"

"Yeah , no problem"

There were a few magazines on a small table in the seating area, mostly supermarket periodicals advertising food and meals to make, but he decided to see what was happening on his phone, the internet and news sites held a little more interest than the magazines.

He heard a noise but didn't take any notice, the BBC site had an article on Liverpool's lifting of the Premiership , and that now had all his attention.

The person who had served him had disappeared in the back, presumably getting his order together.

There were some more noises, like something scurrying on the floor and behind the seating .

"Maybe it's the heating"

His phone had his attention.

Then there was a bite on his ankle,  it felt like a bite , he grabbed his ankle (he had come into the shop wearing a T-shirt , tracksuit bottoms and slippers , nothing else...

There was blood on his hands .

"What the .... "

He didn't finish the sentence .........

The server came back behind the counter, with the owner and looked at what was left of their customer.

"Are they all back in the box?"


"Well that looks look like enough mince to keep us going for the next fortnight......."

The End ..... Or 

Friday, 24 July 2020

A Box of Pearls and Earth, Wind and Fire

Yesterday I put my contact lens in and one popped out onto the floor. I spent an age to no avail looking for it. I then looked at something and realised that the vision in the eye where I thought I'd lost the lens was fine, the lens obviously hadn't dropped out although I thought it had.

Today is very grey and quiet and I feel I am getting hit with SAD but that will pass , though it does make me worry for people who feel like this all the time. I am glad that the first link that came up was an NHS one rather than Wikipedia.

Anyway to the point of the post, since my return to listening CDs I have been working my way through various box set and yesterday I finished Janis Joplin's (with Big Brother & The Holding Company) set "Box of Pearls" which is 5CDs but are quite short , from 20 minutes for the five song rarities to sixty minutes for the "Kozmic Blues" album. All high quality blues and soul with some extras. Some of the brass arrangements are really good , and Janis' voice , is well , you know what it is. we will use "Piece of My Heart" as the song for this post , but there could have been so many more.

The next box was "The Eternal Dance" by Earth, Wind and Fire , which is , like the "Box of Pearls" , a beautiful Sony Legacy box set , and while Earth, Wind and Fire are great musicians and very impressive on stage, most of the music is bland faceless soul in my book , with the odd decent song , but the live cuts get an amazing response. It may be a while before I hit this three disc set again, but for fans it should be a must have.

Today I dug out "Irish Ways" by Ron Kavana , and this is the first time I have listened to this , and it is an eductional history of Ireland with dialogue , song , poetry and music, almost a five hour documentary to listen to while I work. I would highly recommend it to anyone if you have the time to take it all in. I discovered a hell of a lot I didn't know about Ireland.

I still have many boxes to go through so expect more similar posts while I am working from home.

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Apple Venus

Although I am doing a minor cull of my CD collection on my Discogs Store over the last week , while working from home , I have started playing CDs again. Part of the reason is that 6Music during the day is ranging from bland to techno with not much in between. Playing CDs means that I can choose what I want to play.

The main criteria in that the CD is to hand.

This morning I kicked off with "On The Beach" by Neil Young , then 40 minutes later I picked up "The Apple Box" by XTC . This is a box and booklet with the albums "Apple Venus" and "Wasp Star" with accompanying demos albums "Homespun" and "Homegrown" . I wasn't sure that four CDs was a listening option , but I listened all the way through , the albums then the demos , and basically that was an excellent day's listening.

I will share "Stupidly Happy" from "Wasp Star" with you , like many XTC songs , it is highly infectious and uplifting.

Having easily listened through this , I am now eying my other boxes for my music while I work this week such as Public Image's "Metal Box" , "Box of Pearls" by Janis Joplin and "Anthologia" by John Cooper Clarke , this week will be a personal treasure rediscovery.