Saturday 27 June 2020

The Inconvenience of Convenience

Last week I bought two albums "Two Sevens Clash (40th Anniversary)" by Culture  and "Kitchen Sink" by Nadine Shah (oddly being released digitally song by song) and after consideration decided to but just the digital version. I didn't buy the CDs because I thought I would be unlikely to play the CD but have played the albums several times since purchase , plus because of the convenience of my digital apps (BubbleuP'n'P and Windows Media Player) I have played several related albums forsaking my normal work soundtrack of BBC 6Music.

I often reckoned that the introduction of CD was a McDonaldisation of music (see my post of music media history from 2015 here) which essentially allowed you to store more music in a smaller place , skip songs , program the order and lots more and was stored in a digital format which does lose a lot of the original sound by letting only hear what we can / need to hear.

The thing is I think nothing of playing a vinyl album or single but digital discs are are now a chore , you have to find it , open the case open the player and then either play or select what you want to play. We have been conditioned to get want we want with a click or two. When was the last time you played a CD or DVD? We are all part of the "click" generation.

I am not sure it can go much further, ever song I share on this blog is on Youtube or Vimeo , and as I am writing this I have "Two Sevens Clash (40th Anniversary)" playing on Windows Media Player. When I go down I will listen to some vinyl or maybe watch something on my Tivo , Netflix or Amazon Prime.

Looking outside the cloudy sky is looking very ominous, more thunderstorms on the way.

"Two Sevens Clash (40th Anniversary)" by Culture is an absolutely essential reggae album, I think this is going on my phone to listen to when I walk.

Friday 26 June 2020

The Great and Secret Show

I haven't written much about "The Great and Secret Show" by Clive Barker but am thoroughly enjoying it, although I've read it before , thirty pages from the end I am still not sure of the final outcome. The Great and Secret Show is on the isle of Ephemeris in the dream sea Quiddity which is between the Cosm and Metacosm home of the Iad (the main baddies in this story).

This is the good thing about my memory , I know enough to know it's a great book, but every time I read it , it's like a new adventure, although a vaguely familiar ride. I will probably finish this , this weekend and I have so many other places to revisit

Tonight we have had a thunderstorm shaking the street and houses , a little rain but it seems to have passed.

So I know this is incredibly short , but the heat is just stifling my creative writing faculties, so I will sign off.

This week I have been listening to a lot of reggae but given that Armageddon like nature of "The Great And Secret Show" maybe I will go with "The Four Horsemen" by Aphrodite's Child (featuring Vangelis and Demis Roussos featuring the end of the world scenarios by local North East artist John Martin.

Wednesday 24 June 2020

Attention Span

Midway through series two I gave up on this series because it was getting too complicated for me and wasn't really what I expected. I am now midway though series 5 Part 2 and looking apprehensively at the end of series 6.

My basic problem is that I was Ok with the Vikings , hitting Lindisfarne and Northumbria, but when it started getting further afield with Wessex and Mercia I felt it was losing me. That's my short attention span. However I did pick it up again and now we have seen Paris , Spain , Sicily ,Rome , Iceland,  The Sahara , and back to York, and the introduction of Alfred The Great.

While historical accuracy is more of a very vague guideline and provider of nails to hang a story on, the series has provided some amazing set pieces , extreme violence and great characters . How the hell they sold the character of Ivar The Boneless (you can't use your legs) to Alex Hegh Andersen I haven't got a clue.

It's just a lesson that sometimes you don't know what you are missing if you don't stick with things.

Reading wise I'm still on with "The Great and Secret Show" (on paper) and "Imajica" on Kindle Fire by Clive Barker and enjoying both rekindling the fires of earlier readings with lots of forgotten memories and characters, both excellent books and clocking in at 700 and 1200 pages not exactly short either.

I must say I am enjoying revisiting these books, stimulating my imaginatation.

This morning I have again ditched 6Music andam on my fourth Horslips album which has been a great mornings listening. The albums have been:

Even though it's one of my favourite albums ever (It was the only album I played for two weeks when I bought it in 1976) , today I found out for the first time it was based on Lebor Gabála Érenn, a collection of poems and prose narratives in the Irish language intended to be a history of Ireland and the Irish from the creation of the world to the Middle Ages. I knew is was based on Irish mythology frollowing on from "The Tain" but never delved further than that.

Given that I started this post talking about Vikings I am going with "America: What Time Is Love?" by The KLF as the video makes me thinks of Vikings, boats , raids and overseas madness.

Tuesday 23 June 2020

Wild, Wild Life

One of the many benefits of the lockdown has been the proliferation of wildlife and the cleansing of the atmosphere thanks to the use of airplanes and cars being significantly reduced. So we've seen frogs , bees and butterflies as well as small birds , although there seem to be many more magpies as well and I'm sure I seldom saw more than one a day.

The problem with this is that th ehuman race is so insistent on it's own convenience we will soon be back to the same air and car traffic with the subsequent increase in polutions, although I still often can cross the road easily whithout having to wait for traffic lights.

Another increase is the number of people out running , although they may have been there before when I was office based, but I was out last night and the noise was so great I was glad to get off the estate I was on and into  the greenery and woods , but then I hit the A167 and then there was traffic noise pollution.

Today I have turned off the radio and am listening to my own music collection which I am playing on my Kindle Fire using BubbleUPnP and I downloaded the 40th Aniversary copy of "Two Sevens Clash" by Culture which differs significantly from the thirtieth anniversary one (barring the origianl album) but the track order seems to be all over the place. I am going to look at this later and it may need some manual adjustment, but the album is full of great songs.

I'm now listening to Caravan & The New Symphonia and was slight surprised to find what "The Dog, The Dog He's At It Again" was about, although it should have been obvious.

So I will leave you with "Wild Wild Life" by The Talking Heads from "True Stories" . Enjoy

Saturday 20 June 2020

The Insidious Evil of Contact Lenses

This morning I lost a contact lens trying to put it in my left eye. Usually if I drop them I eventually find it but to today absolutely no sign. Looked round the sink , on the bathroom cabinet and floor, it does amaze me that when you drop something it can go absolutely anywhere.

Given that my right and left are out of sync I decided to ditch the right one as well well and open new ones but was worried that maybe the left one was actually in my eye but had slipped behind it.

That has happened to me once before and I didn't realise until it reappeared on a hospital visit. I tried inserting the left one but it felt that there was already something there, although this was probably psychosomatic  caused by by attempts to take out a contact lens that wasn't there..

Decided to go with my glasses then checked my phone and noticed an odd reflection. It turned out the lost contact lens was stuck above my palm at the bottom of my index finger, and there is apparently no name for that bit of the hand, like as Vivian Stanshall said in "Sir Henry At Rawlinson End" - "There ids no name for the back of the knees".

So that's my start to this beautiful Saturday morning when the 2019/20 football season restarts in empty stadia , but it is a good sight to see even if it's just on TV.

Chris Hawkins on 6Music is playing a Rolling Stones cover of Solomon Burke's "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love" . I was one of the backing singers and in the Gospel Choir support when Solomon Burke played The Sage ten years ago, see here .

This weekend will see lawn mowing , Roman Temple visiting and football watching and we need a song to go with that don't we. For some reason Johnny Clarke's "Rockers Time Now" was in my head yesterday,  it's an absolutely great song , perfect for today, so we'll go with that.

Friday 19 June 2020

#LikeNoOther #11 - Nadine Shah

I think this is #LikeNoOther #11 though I  may have missed one out as it's ages since I posted in this series. Nadine Shah has released a new album and the new album "Kitchen Sink"  (though just a thought Kitschen Sink would be a great album or book title)  doesn't let up.

Her music is not exactly danceable , but sounds like it doesn't conform to any norm. It has a highly percussive framework  which she and her band use to build the songs, and you finish every one thinking what the hell was that, I need to listen again.

Nadine , as far as I am concerned, falls in the same sprawling universe as all the other artists who have appeared in this series, but my immediate touchpoints are:

  • PJ Harvey
  • Siouxsie Sue and The Banshees
  • Captain Beefheart
  • The Incredible String Band
  • David Bowie
  • Ethiopiques
  • Tom Waits
There is a hell of a lot of original music around and it always amazes be that a combination of 12 notes can continually be moulded to give us something new and original. Nadine Shah continues to do that on every sone her and her band produces.

Watch and listen to the new single and your musical listening horizons will expand.

I've seen Nadine Shah twice and was very impressed both times. Her music is is as I've described and she has a very engaging stage personality as well so well worth going to see her, here are a couple of my reviews with some more video.

Thursday 18 June 2020


Since the weekend the sky has been a uniform grey with mist almost to ground level. This has burned off for the last two afternoons revealing sunny blue skies, but my phone's weather app showed an icon that looks like waves , so I was thinking Tsunami? Flood? ... apparently it actually means hazy so that means I can rest a little more safely.

It's now after work and the sky is still grey. I will go out for a walk and visit a local Roman Temple, the weather is at least conducive to walking which is good. I've managed to keep my steps up this month.

Today I opened a pack of toilet rolls that I bought when lockdown started and everyone was panic buying, throughout this lockdown I have never gone short of anything , I noticed shops that have sold out but always found alternatives close by, while a lot of people I know were telling me how impossible it was to get things. The irony being they all own cars so in theory can go anywhere , whereas I rely on public transport and shanks pony.

Although my CD is slowly shrinking via my Discogs store I will be buying the new Nadine Shah album "Kitchen Sink" , here music is like nothing else , all the instruments are so percussive and she is one of the few artists who I have a complete collection of. I am also going to download the 40th anniversary version of "Two Sevens Clash" by Culture, I have the original in digital format so will do the same for the anniversary edition.

As this is named Hazy I will share "Hazy Jane" by Nick Drake.

Tuesday 16 June 2020


This morning I thought about not showering, there was another part of my brain that said get in, you need to be clean for the day , but the thought was worrying, if fleeting. I always want to shower , and love being in there but hate drying myself and then having to get dressed.

One of the things about working in lockdown or being furloughed you aren't under any pressure to look your best (and I never look good anyway) and if you are furloughed there's only so much non work you can do.

My lawn is currently getting long, but I am deliberately doing it to encourage wildlife although it will be trimmed this coming weekend.

The sky today has been a uniform grey , my phone app says hazy, so it is not the most inspiring.

I have now finished for the day

Today is the sixtieth anniversary of the release of Alfred Hitchcock's  "Psycho" so maybe we can go with Elvis Costello's "Psycho" which was the "B" side of "Good Year For The Roses" from the album "Almost Blue".


Sunday 14 June 2020


I have been using some comfy trainers for my walking and this week I pulled out an old pair that feel as though I'm walking directly on the road, but actually make walking much more productive and easier. The comfy ones I suppose are almost like walking on grass whereas the "uncomfy" ones are actually more suited to the job of walking.

Since I've decided to keep to the 11K steps a day target , whatever the month , it's been a lot easier to meet the targets and I am not halfway through this month but already 30K steps up (mainly due to walking into town to post a couple of Discogs orders to Spain and Sweden) , so maybe this month I will hit my target again.

This week I binge watched (for me ) "Space Force" on Netflix , the episodes are only thirty minutes and there were only ten episodes  and I was very impressed by it. I am also up to series five on "Vikings" which just seems to spread further and further round the world with every episode.

The weather is is still dreich and as such is not very inspirational , I've had the guitar out and looking at using keyboard to provide bass rhythms but still no nearer producing anything. Part of this is that I want by backing to to be instant and also get distracted by TV , listening to music and reading , although they should be providing inspiration rather than distraction. I am not good with self practicing.

I wasn't sure what  music to share but last week heard this Nina Simone take on Bob Dylans' "Just Like Tom Thumbs' Blues" , the thing is Dylan's voice often put's people off but I think that people will listen to Simone's version. I obviously love the original but this is a song that can transcend the performer, bu t this is and awesome performance.

Listen all the way through , I challenge you to be unimpressed.

Thursday 11 June 2020

I Now Have A Top Three

I am always positive, looking for positives in any situation. As I was make breakfast , porridge and coffee, I ran out of milk. This meant I had to go to my local shop to get more milk, but in the process added 600 steps to my daily sep count , which is always good.

Anyway back to the point of the post.

On my morning walk I decided to listen to "Dirty Computer" by Janelle Monae, which I was so impressed with that I posted this two years ago. and every time I listen I am floored by the album. It now joins "Future Games" by Spirit and "El Dorado" by The Electric Light Orchestra in my top three albums ever. I do like music and have eclectic taste and if I were to choose top artists it would probably be David Bowie and Bob Dylan.

I have included the Emotion Picture that contains most of the album , and is a great piece of science fiction music culminating in th ewonderful "Amercans" . The album has lost none of it's joy and power since I first heard it , and it's so good I never skip a song , similar to the other two albums in my top three.

It is an amazing , joyful and thought provoking piece of work and is always great to listen to and always lift my spirits.

This also shows that there is always great music being produced, and while often it's cited that the music you hear between the ages of 14 and 16 shapes your whole future tastes , I think that you have to keep an open mind and listen to everything.

Also you don't have to be yound to produce great music , age can educate you and I thing that Sparks are  still one of the most at the edge original band still going.

So keep a very open mind and let the good stuff flow into you.

Monday 8 June 2020

The Odd Price of Music

I am selling CDs I'll probably never play again on my Discogs store and am sometimes surprised at the prices that things actually go for, although you can price at any level and it's only good if you actually make a sale, but on my latest additions there were a few surprises:

I could obviously unload via CEX or Music Magpie and get 20p a CD if I'm lucky, but I use Discogs to sell and price and sometimes get several times the original purchase price.

Again the thing is I might see a CD priced at £250 on Amazon like "The Handy Wah Whole" but you have to want to sell the item AND you need a buyer. Sometimes these things come together and you find a buyer, I remember selling a copy of "Anarchy In The UK" for £25 in the early eighties after they went from EMI to A&M to Virgin and then bought the LP for a couple of quid leaving me twenty pound to the good.

I tend to love the music rather than the format and as long I can listen to it then that's OK by me.

I do realise that I have bought records mainly to support the artist, resulting in a very large collection that is now subject to a very slow cull, I don't need to sell it , and any CD that is priced less than two quid goes to the charity shops.

I'm not sure how much these are on Amazon but you can see on the list below.

It's quite early but I am feeling a bit iffy like I'm coming down with something, hopefully a night's sleep will sort me out.

Saturday 6 June 2020

Every Piece Of Vinyl ....

I was looking at all the books I have,  and was thinking "Will I ever read all of these?" . The same goes for DVDs and CDs . With the digitalisation of music, plus streaming , and the phenomenal fall in price music has become easy to buy without listening to it.

People used to make tapes and that had to be done in real time , but now it's just a playlist and if there is little effort in producing it then there will be little attention payed to it by listener. I see loads of playlists shared each day , but will take more notice of a single song in some format or other.

Digital media is so easy to aquire , put aside for future listening, then never revisit. Books are slightly different in that you may put them aside, but usually you have them displayed in a bookcase or something and always tend to buy them with at least the intention of reading. That is not always the case with digital media, and you can include ebooks with that , so easy to acquire and so easy to forget about.

I have bought very few ebooks but have acquired a lot as many are public domain and available for free or very cheaply.

Back to vinyl , every record I have has been played at least once, and many times more often. Buying vinyl creates a sort of tangible connection with the music, the covers are often an adventure in themselves (thinking Hawkwind's "In Search of Space" and Jethro Tull's "Thick as a Brick" newspaper cover).

I have a few picture discs including Kate Bush's zoetropic picture disc of "Running Up That Hill" and the Star Wars and Jack White " Lazaretto"discs with the etched holograms all of which need lights or strobes to bring out the images, but I can't find the Kate Bush one although I posted it on instagram a few years back, maybe I will try doing it again soon and put it on Youtube.

So what should I share this time, we'll go with "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath because of the Vertigo Swirl which is one of the best simple optical effects I have ever seen , and you don't get that on digital, sometimes it's great to watch the record just  play.


A good description of this Saturday morning Dreich which if you follow the link you will get the definition. It's grey, wet and cold, the wind and rain beating aginst the window panes. And that's it.

While I do enjoy a shower, I just want to come out ready for the day , but hate having to dry myself, apply deodarant etc before you can actually get dressed. I've known people who say that deodorant is just a trick to con more money out of you , not the sort of people to get too close too.

One of the main problems I have with lockdown is the lack of physical contact with people, although I still have contact via phone , social media , and video apps , but to compensate for this I speak to people when out for walks (while maintaining social distancing)  and have spoken with a lot of people although I will probably never see or speak to them again.

In the time I've been writing this the sun has started to poke through so it may turn out to be a decent day , but we shall see how it goes.

Lots of ideas are going through my head , thinking about a podcast / radio show as it used to be that music couldn't be included in podcasts , but the BBC has a lot of shows / podcasts that do include music, but I first need to grab some software to do this , although I could just record in analogue form, but we shall see, and it may go like many of my other purported projects and never get started, although I do know I can do things when I put my mind to it otherwise I couldn't do a job.

We're in June and we should be well into summer weather but you have seen how I've described it, although we have had some great weather this week so I'm just trying to think of some music to share, and then I found this father/daughter quarantine take on "The Time Warp" from Richard O'Brien's "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" which in my opinion is one of the most fun things ever.. Watch this , you may love it. My daughters love The Rocky Horror Picture Show and loved the computer game on the old Amstrad.


Friday 5 June 2020

The Titles of Budgie

I was originally going to title this "Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman" which is one of the many startling titles from the Welsh Heavy Metallers Budgie. Other titles are "It The Grip of A Tyre Fitters Hand" and "Breadfan" the latter covered by Metallica here among other places.

Their titles also vaguely remind me of the titles that Amon Duul II had on their albums which only just about made sense.

This morning I awoke from a dream it which lots happened but most has melted away now although one thing I remember was going back to the office except walking in was more like a packed church, withe everyone at their desks , then I realised I had forgotten my laptop so had to go back home , but it was pointless going back to the office because there was no place to sit anyway.

My mind is empty tonight (as usual) so I will leave you to enjoy the Welsh metal.

Thursday 4 June 2020

Long Distance

I have a Canon SX620 camera and it enables me to take long distance pictures. The control says I can take up to 100x zoom although the front of the camera says 25x optical zoom so that maty be why my longer distance pics get a bit less detailed, after 25x the zoom becomes digital.

I use the photos of long distance shots as a screensaver on my desktop and love when I see something and try to work out lots of things that I had never noticed before in relatively familiar surroundings. From the top of Cow Hill I can photograph from The West Road to Wallsend taking in the City Centre and St Jame's Park.

Having a sizeable zoom worried me about privacy , but I trued taking photos in my front room and front bedroom and the lack of light and glass reflection ensures good privacy. I do wonder about controllable drones that could easily be used to snoop, although I have seen some great outdoor drone shots.

Today Shaun Keaveny brought up the fact that you can use scissors to cut pizza, something I had never thought about , but I suppose you could , although the take aways I get are usually ready cut , and I haven't had a frozen pizza for a long time (Dr Oetker and Morrisons are my preferred ones when I feel in a pizza mood).

So given that this started about cameras we shall go with "The Camera Eye" by Rush

Monday 1 June 2020

Parallel Reading

This year I was determined not to post so much, and although I am posting less than last year I am still posting. There are seldom two days between posts unless I am away for a weekend and don't take a laptop with me.

For the first time I am actually reading two books simultaneously , one on paper "The Great and Secret Show" (c 800 pages) and "Imajica" (c 1200 pages) on my Kindle Fire , both by Clive Barker , both excellent and getting through them at a reasonable pace which I don't normally do. These are rereads and though I know the overall story the detail has gone , so it's like I am reading a book I know I will like , which is always a good thing.

This morning on my walk I was listening to "Diamond Dogs" by David Bowie and I still think that "Rebel Rebel" is one of the greatest riffs ever because a) I can play it and b) it's probably the greatest Rolling Stones song that they never wrote or recorded.

I always go one about how brilliant Bowie is but yesterday I realised I have a particularly awful song by him from the covers album "Pin-Ups" . The rest of the album is great, the version of "Sorrow" is sublime and most of the others hit the spot , but "Shapes of Things" , the Yardbirds cover,  in which he sounds like he is impersonating one of his big influences Anthony Newley. The guitar solo is OK but it is really a sore thumb on a decent covers album

My reasons for disliking it it that the original is a great Yardbirds song , and Jeff Beck covered in with Rod Stewart as he had every right to do and that turned out fine .

Unfortunately for all other covers Nazareth threw the kitchen sink plus lots of phasing and heavy metal turning it into a perfect piece of prog metal , tagging on "Space Safari" giving us an excellent closer to their finest album "Rampant", so that's what we start June with.