Thursday 30 December 2010

The Box

That's all it is: a box. Oh, and a cat.

Monday 20 December 2010

The Odd Couple

With the Number One Son home on University shore leave it's time to break the seal on the Quality Street and dig out the classic films which have to be viewed every Christmas. First up, The Odd Couple. Neil Simon caught Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau at the top of their game for the 1968 big screen adaptation of the classic stage play; we know all the lines by heart but that only makes watching this film more engaging year on year. On the couple of occasions we've rented an apartment in Manhattan I've always wondered if it would be suitable to hold poker nights with Oscar fixing drinks and Felix disinfecting the cards. The Medds have been known to try and recreate such sessions taking in a few hands of Rummy, with beer from the liquor store and pizza from Ray's on 5th Avenue.

Monday 13 December 2010

Ear Worms

I was following a thread on The Word blog recently about those pesky tunes that get lodged in your brain and steadfastly refuse to leave. And it's an affliction for which there is no cure. Even deafness wouldn't get rid of them - once they're in, that's it. I have many pieces of music (sometimes only brief snippets) that nudge their way from the deep recesses of my brain and take centre stage. This is one I share with Quentin Cooper of Radio 4's Material World: despite not having heard it since I was a nipper, I still know it note for note.

Quentin ran a feature on Ear Worms and the feedback the following week was fascinating. Musical memories from our childhood right through to music played at funerals, pulling in hits of the day, muzak, radio jingles, cheesy advert music and (most interestingly) tunes you can't abide - they all find a way into our heads and take up residency. Play School aside, here's another one that gets regular airplay, creeping up on me when I least expect it:

Middle Of The Road's Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep was a massive hit in the summer of 1971 and coincided with the Medds' first ever European jaunt to Spain. And at the tender age of nine I was aware that it wasn't only us Brits who were getting off on bubblegum pop: every cafe, diner and bar my parents took me to during the hottest fortnight I'd ever experienced, all I could hear was Chirpy Bloody Cheep Cheep. On the flight back something strange happened - I'd got a window seat and was trying to sleep with my head leaning against the window when, all of a sudden, the tune started playing; it wasn't coming out over the tannoy and there was nobody next to me with a transistor radio jammed to their lug hole. No, what I was experiencing was my own, very primitive, 'in-flight entertainment.' Forty years later and I still can't find the off button.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

100 not out

Whilst all the talk this week, starting tomorrow certainly, will centre around the anniversary of Lennon's assassination, I've not seen many people pick up on Edmundo Ros' 100th birthday today.

Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad 7 December 1910, Ros made his name in London from the 1940s onwards as bandleader, arranger and vocalist with his own samba and Latin American orchestras. With residencies at The Coconut Grove and The Bagatelle, his gigs were often a Who's Who of the current stars and starlets of the day. Even a very young Princess Elizabeth was known to throw a few shapes on the floor before taking on her current job.

Ros played his last show in 1994 but remains in relatively good health enjoying his Spanish retirement.

Edmundo Ros: Football Calypso

Monday 6 December 2010

The time is Nighy

It's true what they say: the best pictures really are on the radio. Everything from Paul Temple, The Goons, The Man In Black, to Start The Week and (even) The Archers work, and work brilliantly, because the listener is creating his or her own unique images to the soundtrack laid out before them. And so it was with Radio 4's recent dramatisation of Simon Brett's wonderful series of Charles Paris stories.

Paris is a struggling actor (and some say a cad) with a penchant for the bottle and pretty women. He also has a knack of being in the wrong place at the wrong time when various coves around him get bumped off - time then to don his sleuthing hat and, before you can say Hercule Poirot, the murderer is singing like a canary. It could all get silly and out of hand (think Diagnosis Murder) but with the ubiquitous Bill Nighy at the helm it maintains its dignity and skips along at quite a pace. Nighy, as you would expect, brings years of experience to the party and carries the listener almost single handedly through the 30 minute scripts. Though, like reading Fleming, when rereading the old stories it's virtually impossible not to see and hear Nighy in your mind's eye: I can live with that. If Mrs M is reading this, here's a Crimbo present link.

Monday 29 November 2010

Village life

I pulled a couple of old novels down from the bookcase over the weekend and in doing so rediscovered a favourite author of mine. Guy Bellamy's A Village Called Sin is, to use that oft used cliche, a cracking read from start to finish. Published in 1991 (and also when I first bought it in hardback - back then Bellamy was one of the few writers I couldn't wait to come out in paperback) it succeeded in getting under the skin of a disparate bunch of village dwellers fifty minutes from London: Compton Sinbury, known affectionately by the locals as Sin, is a hotbed of red-braced money-grabbing bankers and property developers together with struggling actors, over sexed odd job men and the ubiquitous village idiot. There's even a comely wench. Set at a time when there was barely a mobile phone in sight we are treated to some superbly paced conversations and well written set pieces - mostly emanating from the pub on the idylic village green. The Fox is a hostelry we've all been in and when snatches of dialogue are heard waiting to be seved at the bar, as Bellamy himself must, we've all been tempted to try the material out elsewhere. A couple of one-liners that I particularly like: 'the hardest part of running a marathon is the last twenty six miles.' And, 'the only woman who knows where her husband is twenty four hours of the day is a widow.' It's up there with Groucho Marx.

I ought to do this more. After all, isn't that why we collect books - so that we can read and re-read them at our leisure? But we rarely do. And after twenty years, while we may remember the synopsis, we've all but forgotten who did what to who and when. The new paperbacks waiting by my bed might just have to wait a little bit longer.

Thursday 18 November 2010

Incredible String Blonde

After another busy day at Medd Towers (making tea for tradesmen from 7.30am is taking its toll on me and the kettle) it was time for another walk down to the acoustic night at The Bay Horse. Little bit different this week - we had a guest, harpist Sarah Dean, doing two 20 minute sets either side of half time. It was a well attended night with players and bystanders alike just enjoying making and listening to music. I'd been persuaded to bring my guitar out of hibernation to entertain the troops. Suffice it to say I'd been dusting off my 3 chord trick book all week and reckoned I could go ten rounds with anything from Johnny Cash's back catalogue, maybe even a couple of Dylan's simpler tunes or, hell, just belt out Louie Louie for three minutes and beat everyone into submission. I didn't have to in the end: in the first half I played a fast and furious version of The Young Ones. I think It went down well - we even found an extra verse from somewhere. Prior to my slot we'd been royally entertained with jigs and reels, blues, Trumpet Voluntary on the violin(!) and an a cappella reading of the Quo's In The Army Now (you had to be there).

Then Sarah took to the stage (well, the front of the room) and completely mesmerised us all. Not only a very gifted musician (hailing from York and known on the circuit as The Incredible String Blonde) but she also has a nice line in inter-song banter - the bit a lot of musicians often get wrong.

She opened with this:

She played a couple more before a well earned beer refill, sandwich and the ubiquitous raffle. We managed to snaffle a nice bottle of red.

My second 'number' was something I've been wanting to do for a while. I left the guitar in its case for this one. I read Hovis Presley's I Rely On You. You can't go wrong with a bit of Hovis.

Sarah's second set mixed up more of her own material with a couple of tasteful covers chucked in for good measure: have you ever heard a harp version of Walking On The Moon? Thought not.

They're a good bunch up here and have really made me and Mrs M feel very welcome. Back again in a couple of weeks, hopefully.

Monday 15 November 2010

I have a list

I love the 70s as much as the next man. But it's only when you take a look in the rear view mirror that maybe, in the eyes of some, it was a wee bit overrated. Now, I'm only playing Devil's Advocate here: I know that this sort of heracy could get you locked up in certain quarters - but I give you the following evidence (taken from end of year NME polls - yeah, I know, I was a Sounds reader too) - so you can make your own mind up.

First up, Best New Group/Most Promising Arist:

1970. McGuinness Flint
1971. New Seekers
1972. Roxy Music (UK) Focus (World)
1973. Leo Sayer (UK) Golden Earring (World)
1974. Bad Company
1975. BeBop Deluxe (UK) Bruce Springsteen (World)
1976. Eddie & The Hot Rods
1977. Tom Robinson
1978. Public Image Limited
1979. The Specials

OK, so far so good. You can see the end of the old guard and the arrival of the new kids on the block. But what happened when the voting public were asked to take a punt on their fave guitarists? Let's take a look:

1972. Eric Clapton
1973. Eric Clapton
1974. Eric Clapton
No, my keyboard hasn't stuck. Though not that you'd know:
1975. Jimmy Page
1976. Jimmy Page
1977. Still bloody Jimmy Page
1978. Mick Jones
1979. Paul Weller.

You don't even want to see the bass players. Oh, you do?

1972. Paul McCartney
1973. Paul McCartney
1974. Paul McCartney
1975. Chris Squire
1976. Paul McCartney (1975 was probably a typo)
1977. Jean Jacques Burnel
1978. Bruce Foxton
1979. Bruce Foxton
Bruce's mum must have been on a roll: she went on to make sure little Bruce went on to win it again in 1980, 1981 and 1982.

Right then. What were we all watching on the little box in the corner of the room?

1970. Top Of The Pops
1971. Top Of The Pops
Then from 1972 thru 1977 we went all proggy as The Old Grey Whistle Test cleaned up six years on the bounce.
1978. Revolver*
1979. Fawlty Towers (what took the NME readership so long to discover Basil?)

No need to bore you with the Disc Jockey category. Apart from 1970 and 1971 (Jimmy Saville) and 1974 (Noel Edmonds?) Peely was, quite literally, the only show in town.

* What do you mean, you don't remember Revolver? Take it away Pete:

Thursday 11 November 2010

Great expectations

I don't know why the football cognoscenti were up in arms after last night's bore draw in Manchester. Have they not heard Don't Believe The Hype? Everything from The Stone Roses' second album to any number of Dylan live shows have been bigged up to breaking point only to disappoint massively. I know we all want to look forward to something on the horizon, only for the eventual, some might say predictable, let down. That's what makes getting out of bed every day such a lottery.

And then, occasionally, we do actually get what we want: a Christmas not ruined by family feuds or cremated food, a Summer holiday that sticks in your memory as if digitally downloaded, maybe a blockbuster sequel that was actually better than the original. Which is why we're all wandering 'round living in hope. Most of us, anyway.

Saturday 6 November 2010

Gimme some truth

I remember reading the story of Tory MP Nadine Dorries a couple of weeks ago and thinking: this can't be right. Don't get me wrong, politicians telling fibs is hardly front page stuff, but still - it just doesn't sit right with me. This is the quote I find most offensive:
According to documents published by the Standards and Privileges Committee, Ms Dorries responded: "My blog is 70% fiction and 30% fact. It is written as a tool to enable my constituents to know me better and to reassure them of my commitment to Mid Bedfordshire. I rely heavily on poetic license and frequently replace one place name/event/fact with another."
Quite. Especially when it comes to where you live. Or, more precisely, where you get paid to live. But surely, when you are reading a politician's outpourings (or anyone else's for that matter) you assume that they've been able to get to grips with the subject matter and what you are reading (give or take the odd Lib Dem swerve ball) reflects what they feel about the particular topic under the hammer. If you don't know from the outset that it is nothing more than a yarn and is proffered as a work of fiction, then the boundary between truth and lies is nothing more than an optical illusion.

Unlike Nadine Dorries I am not answerable to thousands of constituents (I answer only to the current Mrs Medd) so what you read here on these pages may be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But then again...

Generation X - Gimme Some Truth (1978)

Monday 1 November 2010

We've arrived (and to prove it we're here)

So, we're at the 'new place.' It feels good and it feels right. Apart from the last tearful look 'round to make sure we'd left nothing behind (and the equally tearful goodbyes to friends and neighbours) the whole moving process went pretty much like clockwork; unlike many things in life these days.

Thanks to the Number One Son and his fair maiden we're all broadbanded up and are now looking forward to the mammoth task of getting straight. Last night saw me handling cooking duties (rustic meatballs, since you ask) with Mrs M looking beautiful and toasting our new future. Meanwhile Tom and Doris were doing that exploring thing that all cats do when they've been beamed up to a new planet.

I like it here.

Friday 22 October 2010

They do it in The Congo

Like a headless ghoul, Paul McCartney roams this blog moaning and wailing and appears when you least expect him. Preparing for next Thursday's move I came across this eye catching stamp from the Republique Democratique Du Congo. It's been in my 'to frame' file for as long as I can remember. It'll have to wait 'til we get to the new place now.

But what do we know about The Congo? Well, there's this for starters:

The DROC is situated in Central Africa. With a population in excess of 70 million it has access to the Atlantic Ocean through a 25 mile stretch of coastline and the five mile wide mouth of the Congo River. Depsite over 200 languages being spoken, French is the official language. As with many African countries, it's had its fair share of wars and upheavals. And when I say war, I mean millions killed between the late '90s and the early part of this century - statistics not seen since WW2.

From 1971 to 1997, it was, of course, known as Zaire. In October 1974 its capital, Kinshasa, played host to one of the greatest sporting clashes of all time: the classic Ali v Foreman fight, aka The Rumble In The Jungle:

Great fight (Ali won it in the 8th), great record (further proof, if proof were needed, that all great bands have two drummers).

Sunday 17 October 2010

For the record

We were more concerned with keeping Britain tidy than saving the planet in the 70s; when buying singles as a kid, the bedenimed hired hand on the other side of the counter would never ask if you wanted a bag. On the contrary, they insisted you had a carrier bag in which you took your freshly acquired black plastic off the premises. And as long as you disposed of it carefully and didn't try and smother a baby's head with it, then all was well with the world. Only thing was, I never disposed of mine. Carefully or otherwise. That's why, all these years later, I've got a bag in the bottom of my wardrobe stuffed with the bloody things - it's like a poor man's Russian dolls.

It's all very sad really (on more than one level, I know) but in the few short years since I first went unchaperoned into a record shop (OK, it was 1972) we've all but lost vinyl completely (black, coloured, shaped) and with it, artwork, gatefold sleeves, picture sleeves, Dansettes, radiograms, turntables, 8-track cartridges, blank cassettes, musicassettes, mini discs. Hell, the record shop itself is going through the death throes. It's no wonder, therefore, that Medd Towers could rival The Smithsonian when it comes to rock and roll relics. But I digress. Back to the bags.

I couldn't possibly put them all up here; what few readers have got this far (and, if you have, I'm guessing you are male and of a certain age) can have a shufty at this selection and see if these bygone artifacts ring any bells.

These are a couple of Richard Branson's early paper efforts. It's not Barney Bubbles, but they have a certain charm nevertheless. Although the term nerd had yet to be coined I suspected from an early age that this side of collecting was probably putting me in a party of one. I could however comfort myself with the fact that I wasn't cross referencing the bag to the record. Though I seem to remember The Motors were housed in one of the Virgin bags.

The Pendulum, Berwick's and Andy's Records are throwbacks to another world: small provincial record shops in small provincial towns.

Ditto this trio from Grantham. The Play Inn was way ahead of its time with a snack bar and amusements and would soon devour any pubescent's meagre pocket money in the blink of an eye.

And who can forget Boots and Woolies? Singles 40p, albums £2.10. It wa
s never cool to be seen in there, but sometimes you couldn't help yourself.
The rest are just a small selection
I acquired on my travels; most if not all will be long since gone. In the case of IT Records in Lurgan, it was blown to pieces during the troubles. The Harlequin and Small Wonder were picked up on forays into the capital; in the case of Small Wonder it would have been a Patrik Fitzgerald or Desperate Bicycles single, probably. Real Indie.
So there you have it. Coming here must be like like lying on the shrink's couch. These bags have been part of my past for thirty plus years. And no, I don't want to talk about my mother.

Thursday 14 October 2010

You never give me your money

I'm looking forward to reading the newly published FAB - An Intimate Life Of Paul McCartney by Howard Sounes. Until now the only in depth critique of Macca has been Barry Miles' fawning account, Many Years From Now, which, whilst giving a meticulous insight into Beatlemania, left McCartney's quotes uncontested - the rags to riches yarn was therefore given a heavy coating of McCartney gloss. I'll be interested to see if his legendary tightness is put under the microscope. Stories regarding McCartney's deep pockets and short arms abound: it comes to something when your own daughter calls you 'a tight bastard.' But enough of that, it looks as if it should be a cracking read. Anyway, I'll report back with my findings.

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Sanity Clause

We've just signed contracts for the house - we exchange on Friday. I was looking for the sanity clause. Then I remembered. There ain't no Sanity Clause.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Gravy's good tonight

Despite my love of all things culinary I've never taken this blog down the well trodden path that leads to Gastro-Lit. There's a whole army of writers and fighters out there who are way better qualified than me who can give you 500 words on their latest visit to The Ivy, or the simply divine dinner party they gave at the weekend, complete with photographs* of every course.

But... I can't not mention the dish I rustled up for dinner last night. And all thanks to a fictional character. Anyone who's watched The Sopranos will be familiar with Artie Bucco. To those of you not in the know, here's his bio from The Sopranos Family cookbook, followed by Artie's excellent (sorry, no photos) recipe for Pollo Cacciatore al Forno. You really should try it. If you can't read the scan below, email me: john[at]johnmedd[dot]com

ARTIE BUCCO came home from cooking school in London to receive the keys to Bucco's Vesuvio from his parents, who were on their way to retirement in Brick Township, NJ. That day he became the keeper of the Bucco flame. Today, under the stewardship of Artie and his wife, Charmaine (and after a tragic three-alarm fire in 1999), Nuovo Vesuvio is in its third home, still located in the greater Essex County, New Jersey area. Reservations are recommended.

Gravy's good tonight

* I'm with Giles Coren on the whole photographing your food nonsense.

Saturday 9 October 2010

If John Lennon was still alive today

He and Ringo would go parading in Central Park every Sunday afternoon.

The concierge at The Dakota Building would be remembering that it was nearly thirty years since he had a polite word with the NYPD about some speccy loner hanging 'round the place.

Liam Gallagher would still be labouring on Manchester building sites.

Jeff Lynne would not have been added to the ranks of 5th Beatle.

The rainforest would not be so depleted.

I'd wish him a Happy Birthday.

And if he was still making music, it would probably sound something like this:

Cotton Mather: Homefront Cameo

Thursday 7 October 2010

Hushabye Mountain

Does anybody want an alarm clock? Mine will be going on eBay tomorrow - it's my last day at the coalface. I don't think I'll need much rocking tonight. Anyway, here's Richard Hawley with a classic from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Let's ballad.

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Johnny Paycheck

I've recently been reading about country legend Johnny Paycheck. In his time on this earth he'd probably been around the block more times than the rest of us put together. Born Donald Eugene Lytle in 1938 he was known in the 70s for being a big player in country's Outlaw Movement along with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard et al. As with many of his contemporaries he was plagued with drug, alcohol and legal problems resulting in the ubiquitous spell in clink (he shot a man in Hillsboro, Ohio*) followed by a rapid decline in his health and musical abilities.

Paycheck recorded numerous singles and albums including Don't Monkey With Another Monkey's Monkey, Slide Off Your Satin Sheets, Motel Time Again and even made a cameo appearance on the long running TV show Dukes Of Hazzard. But he'll forever be remembered for his 1977 single, Take This Job And Shove It.

He died after a lengthy illness in 2003 and is a member of The Grand Ole Opry. Here's his self penned epitaph.

“I'm a man who believes that right is right and wrong is wrong. Treat me right, and I will give you my all. Treat me wrong, and I will give you nothing. They don't like me for that, but that's the way I am."

* Not Reno

Saturday 2 October 2010

Question Time

I think I'm looking forward to next week, but I can't be sure. I'm leaving the company I set up with my business partner in 1994. It's time to move on. Steve and I have shared an office for nearly seventeen years and in that time we've barely had a cross word. Though that's probably because instead of getting stressed about whether the FTSE or the Dow Jones Index is going up or down, we've wrestled with far more important issues. Over the years these have included:

What was the tog rating on Don Revie's coat?

Can Paul McCartney really peel an
orange in his back pocket?

Has there ever been a better single released sin
ce White Man In Hammersmith Palais?

What would Dad's Army have been like if Jon Pertwee had accepted the Captain Mainwaring gig?

If you put a humidifier and a dehumidifier in the same room, who would win?

What are the pros and cons of Time Travel?

But, time and again, the burning question we return to is: just how big was Thunderbird 2? As kids we can both remember seeing cutaway drawings and blueprints in comics and magazines, but, if they were accurate, it would have to be as big as a farmer's field. Maybe it was. Well, it had to carry a pod which housed The Mole: and we all know how big The Mole is. Don't we?

I know we could cheat and look it up online. But, like most search engines, Google has killed the heated debate with a single bullet. So no, we won't look. Hell, next thing you know we'd be on Google Earth trying to find Tracy Island.

Thursday 30 September 2010

Four Candles

This Sunday marks the 5th anniversary of Ronnie Barker's death. To many he will always be the jailbird Fletcher. And to many more the tight-fisted Arkwright. But I guess it's as one half of The Two Ronnies that the Great British public will always remember him; it's hard to imagine now, but on Saturday nights in the 70s they were watched by north of 15 million viewers.

When the Number One Son came back for a few days last week, he and his fair maiden brought along some autographs her dad has collected over the years. I posted Spike Milligan's on Mondo's blog earlier in the week. Here's Messrs Barker and Corbett.

And, if you've got a minute, listen to Ian McMillan, the Bard of Barnsley, wax lyrical on the genius that was Ronnie Barker.

Ian McMillan Orchestra: It's Goodnight From Him

Saturday 25 September 2010

Leaving Home

As our move date gets ever nearer (a little over 4 weeks away), the reality of leaving the city I've lived in for 25 years begins to sink in. As for uprooting from Medd Towers (home for nearly 20 years - Number One Son was but a babe in arms when we first crossed the threshold), I've been detaching myself by degrees - with each room we clear it becomes less our home and more the shell we bequeath to the new owners. Don't get me wrong, there's so many memories here, when we lock the door for the last time and drive away, there won't be a dry eye in the house, sorry, car.

We're now conscious that with every visit to a favourite pub, restaurant, park or even venue, we probably won't be returning to them many more times, if at all. With that in mind it was bloody typical that last week Mrs M and I discovered a cracking bar that we'd never been to before. The Roundhouse is a circular building that used to be home to The Eye Hospital. With a fine selection of real ales, a simple but classy menu, good music and attentive staff, I can't believe it hadn't appeared on our radar before. I took a photograph and somehow managed to make it look like the leaning tower of Pisa.

Hopefully, before I go, and with a little help from my old diaries, I'll get 'round to picking out some of my favourite gigs over the last few years in Nottingham's various venues. In the last two and a half decades I've witnessed some jaw dropping concerts at Rock City, The Rescue Rooms, The Bodega, Junktion 7, The Running Horse and The Royal Concert Hall - all places I'll miss and remember with affection.

Charlie Rich: Feel Like Going Home

Friday 24 September 2010

Another Brazilia Friday

Time to end the working week. The band may hail from Italy and the song may have been written by an American jazzer, but the link to Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66 is undeniable. So go on, sit back and crank it up to 11.

Quintetto X - The Jody Grind

Saturday 18 September 2010

Radio 4 debut

A few weeks ago I told you the BBC were going to run with an idea of mine for a radio programme. Radio 4's iPM, the sister show to PM, picked up an a theme I wrote for this blog back in May - whatever happened to transport caffs? With help from artist Anton Hecht and sound engineer Chris Prosho, we opened it up and interviewed punters at The Limes in Nottinghamshire and got to discover all sorts of things. We got an insight not just into who still uses roadside caffs, but also their back stories. And we wrote a song! It's going out this evening at 5.30pm, but if you want a sneak preview of the 5 minute soundscape we created, it's here.

(l-r) Chris Prosho, Anton Hecht, Mark (Limes owner), John Medd

A big thank you to Ryan Dilley at the BBC. And Hugh Sykes.

Thursday 16 September 2010

A Capital idea

So, Trent FM, together with Leicester Sound and Ram FM, have been consumed by the mighty Capital FM; in pretty much the same way as every high street up and down the land looks the same, now it'll sound the same too. Industry experts, true to form, say it's a good thing. One even said 'I think, on balance, it’ll produce a sensible quasi-national brand that’ll benefit the radio industry as a whole. And that’s the important thing.' Eh?

Stop the world, I want to get off.

Don't get me wrong, Radio Trent ceased to have any local relevance many moons ago. It probably went awol when it lost its 301 meters frequency on the medium wave. And, as any fool will tell you, I'm not the demographic they're aiming at anyway. But, with syndicated presenters and news from London, local commercial radio is up there with Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool - they may play at the stadium in the town, but with squads comprising mainly Johnny Foreigners, they have little or no real link to the community.

But, it wasn't always thus:

Monday 13 September 2010

Beaucoups Of Blues

This month marks the 40th anniversary of Ringo's Beaucoups of Blues; after All Things Must Pass and Band On The Run, probably the best solo album by an ex-Beatle. Recorded in Nashville with Pete Drake on pedal steel, The Jordanaires on backing vocals and D J Fontana on drums, it had pedigree right from the get go.

Ringo Starr: Beaucoups Of Blues

The boy from Dingle has come in for a lot of stick down the years but, as the venerable Mr Starkey MBE enters his eighth decade, isn't it about time we all came clean and admitted it: Ringo was everyone's favourite Beatle. Wasn't he? Think about it; he had all the best lines in Hard Day's Night ('You want to stop looking so scornful, it'll twist your face') and Help! ('Two lagers and lime and two lagers and lime please'). He wrote Don't Pass Me By and Back Off Boogaloo, directed Born To Boogie, starred in That'll Be The Day and compliled Postcards From The Boys. And The All Starr Band continue to wipe the floor with The Bootleg Beatles.

Saturday 11 September 2010

Why did The Beatles cross the road?

Now that there's a permanent live webcam (with sound?) filming that zebra crossing, just watch how often the tourists try to recreate the album cover. It must drive local residents and motorists crazy.

In the days before digital technology, however, do we think this is what really happened on that August morning in 1969?

Interestingly, it wasn't the first time the lads had been snapped crossing the road together. In their pre-moptop incarnation a local toggy followed them around Liverpool for the day and, unwittingly, predated the iconic album sleeve by nearly a decade.

Friday 10 September 2010

Brazilia Friday

Here's a delicious tune composed by Bossa supremo Antonio Carlos Jobim. He wrote it for Brazilian singer Sylvia Telles (aka Dindi). Telles was killed in a road accident in Rio de Janeiro shortly after recording the song in 1966.

If you can, take five minutes out of your day and lose yourself; and if you have cats it'll drive them crazy.

Quigley: Dindi

Monday 6 September 2010

Brassed Off

I was hoping to get down to the Word Magazine blog meet in London this Friday, but circumstances have prevented me from seeing the bright lights and hooking up with Mondo et al; which is a shame as, not only was I looking forward to breaking bread with like-minded coves, I was planning to slope off after a couple of hours and check out the Hackney Colliery Band's set at Camden's Jazz Cafe. To those of you not familiar with the HCB, they're a bunch of young horn players (and a couple of drummers) putting a new spin on the brass band/New Orleans marching band format. Incorporating lethal injections of jazz, funk and ska it's no wonder they've already appeared on the radar screens of both Gilles Peterson and Craig Charles.

This is their new single - it's got to be worth 79p of anybody's money. Available from those good people at iTunes:

Friday 3 September 2010


Although better known as Steptoe and Macca's grandfather (he's very clean), Wilfrid Brambell was also a recording artist in the 60s. This is from 1963 on the prestigious Parlophone label. He plays it with a straight bat and you get the impression he'd like to have done a few more.

Monday 30 August 2010

A Hard Day's Night

For reasons too long to go into here, we only did one day of the Matthew Festival this year. The temperature in The Cavern must have been pushing 40 degrees as acts from all over the world took to the tiny stage and gave us their version of Merseybeat. Unlike most tribute bands, nobody pretends they look the part (though a George Harrison lookalike was stood behind me at one point); it's just musicians paying homage to their favourite Beatles tunes - and not exclusively culled from the Red and Blue albums, either - Two Of Us and I'm A Loser by a bunch of Brazilians (The Yesterdays?) certainly hit the spot for me. In spite of everything, father and Number One son renewed their vows, not that they were in danger of expiring, and both promise to be back next year.

He won't thank me for it, but this is for James.

We had time for a team photo before we came away - taken outside The Cavern. Just like we did last year

Wednesday 25 August 2010

BBC Heaven

Got a very interesting email from the BBC yesterday. An idea I had for a radio programme has garnered some interest. I can't say too much at this stage; loose lips and all that. I suppose if I was twenty years younger I'd sign off with one of those smiley emoticons. Oh, bugger it - I could get knocked down by a bus tomorrow :)

Saturday 21 August 2010

Wade In The Water

Something for the weekend? Christine Collister singing a cappella in St Paul's Cathedral. If you know of a venue with better acoustics, I'll show my arse in Burton's window.

Friday 20 August 2010

Got Live If You Want It

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I don't need an excuse to play The Beatles or, indeed, anything Beatles related. And today is no different. It's neither a high day or holiday but, if I was looking for a motive, I could argue that it's all part of my warm up for the Matthew Street Festival up in Liverpool next week. We went last year and in 48 hours took in more Beatles tribute bands (mostly in The Cavern) than most people would see in a lifetime. But that can't be healthy, I hear you say. And you'd probably be right. Anyway, take a peep at this: some classic archive footage of The Fab 4 in Tokyo, 1966. If you're only used to seeing grainy black and white footage of the Hey Jude hitmakers playing live, then this is for you.