Saturday 26 January 2013

Karn Evil 8

This afternoon I found myself listening to The Sounds of Jimmy Smith, his long player from 1957. I'm guessing a young Keith Emerson probably played this album a lot when Emerson Lake & Palmer were writing Brain Salad Surgery. The Fight predates prog by a good ten years and is almost certainly the template for ELP's Karn Evil 9; God knows what the jazzers made of this when it landed on their turntables.

Friday 25 January 2013


 Note the surly Ted leaning on the bus

Long before Planking  (the lying down game) was invented, I took this photograph of a friend of mine: Simonjohn went in for a lot of that sort of thing. And as long as I had a camera about my person I never dissuaded him. On the contrary. I'm sure later that same day he lay down in front of a lifeboat on the slipway. Having not seen him for thirty years I can't categorically say that his planking days are behind him. But I'm guessing that along with liberating 'For Sale' boards from people's front gardens and storing them in his bedroom, it's a pastime that has been consigned to the history books. Probably.

Wednesday 23 January 2013

The wrong trousers

I'd never seen this photograph until yesterday. Uncropped and away from its Rubber Soul context, it's just four men in the park. Standing in front of a bush. But what really jars with me is John Lennon's trousers: he's wearing jeans. Or denims as they were probably referred to at the time. Not a hangable offence by any stretch of the imagination; it just doesn't sit right with me. I realise that the matching suits had long gone and the Sergeant Pepper dressing up hamper wouldn't come out for at least another 18 months. But, I don't know, it's just not...right.

Sunday 20 January 2013

Dear Keith,

I've never written a fan letter. But there are two I wished I had penned. Too late now, both would be recipients are on the other side: George Harrison, a frequent cameo stalwart of this blog, and Keith Waterhouse. And who, to the best of my knowledge, never met.

 Keith Waterhouse the Leeds born writer and (some would say) inventor of the liquid lunch was a wordsmith who could turn his typewriter to novels, short stories, screenplays, TV, newspaper columns and still be back in the pub for last orders.

 If I had scribbled a few words to him I would told him that from the day his seminal Billy Liar appeared on our English Language O Level Sylabus I've never not had a book on the go. In fact, I'm currently rereading Office Life: a A Waterhouse novel from 1978 which, I'm sure Magnus Mills used as the template for his The Scheme For Full Employment. But he was so much more than Billy Liar (not that he needed me to tell him that); scriptwriter for The Frost Report, That Was The Week That Was and Whistle Down The Wind gained him serious credibility in the 60s. And, with his good friend and co-writer Willis Hall, came up with one of the 70s most memorable TV series - Budgie. Adam Faith brought their script alive and depicted a seedy and down at heel Soho while still giving its characters - Budgie Bird and Charlie Endell - and their surroundings a rich and multilayered veneer. Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell proved he had lost none of his magic and later novels like Bimbo, Our Song and Palace Pier were among his best ever. The latter possibly being the finest depiction of Brighton after Patrick Hamilton's West Pier. Looking back, it's probably just as well I didn't write. It may have left one or both of us feeling a little foolish. Maybe I should have just bought him a drink instead. Cheers Keith.


Sunday 13 January 2013

Imaginary girlfriend

Do you recognise the girl above? Would you be able to pick her out in an identity parade? Chances are that even if you couldn't your parents almost certainly would be able to tap her on the shoulder; though they probably wouldn't know what she was called.

Tina, her given name, was as ubiquitous as flock wallpaper in households during the 60s and beyond. She took pride of place, clutching that tree for dear life, above many a mantle up and down the land. Art? Sort of. Wall decoration? Most certainly.

She was the brainchild of artist J H Lynch who would conjure up these nymph photofits and fill a whole canvas with a pretty face, cascading hair and bare shoulders. Always on the right side of the prevailing decency and moral codes of the day, Lynch had discovered a winning formula and he stuck to it. These days Jack Vettriano ploughs a similar furrow.

Thursday 10 January 2013


It's time to run to the hills: David Bowie's new record, in case you've been out of circulation this week, was premiered on Radio 4's Today programme. One can only imagine Brian Redhead's response to such an editorial product placement taking place on his watch in the programme's heyday. And, in the years following Redhead's appointment, Bowie released three back to back records which were seriously newsworthy: Station to Station, Low and Heroes. Back then even Radio 1 didn't play them; with the exception of Peel. And maybe on a Saturday afternoon when, for a couple of hours, the station nicked Radio 2's VHF signal.

Kooks goes back to 1971, when, I think, the venerable John Timpson would have been at the helm of the good ship Today. It goes out to the Number One Son who's under the cosh somewhat at the moment; preparing for a Masters presentation with a surgical deadline hanging over you is not something I'd wish on anyone. 'If the homework gets you down we can throw it on the fire and take the car down town.'

Sunday 6 January 2013

When two become one

 Chinn + Chapman = Chinnichap

40 years ago, in January 1973, The Sweet had their one and only # 1 single with Block Buster! (Their screamer, not mine). In the charts at the same time, and on the same record label - RCA, was David Bowie's Jean Genie: which had an identical guitar riff.

'It's actually an old blues riff' Andy Scott, Sweet's guitarist, told me many years later when I interviewed him for the paper. 'Mike Chapman, our producer, used to come and see us live and at that time we would play I'm A Man  by The Yardbirds and segue into FBI by The Shadows. Mike went away and (with Nicky Chinn, above right) wrote Block Buster! and the two songs became one.'

Tuesday 1 January 2013

Fill yer boots

I'd just like to wish everyone who's swung by this site in the last 12 months A Very Happy New Year. Judging by my stat counter I appear to getting more readers in the US than back home here in the UK. I know you should never read too much into the often murky world of statistics - I leave that to the likes of Tim Harford and James Medd. So, if you're reading this in England or New England, York or New York - have a great 2013.

Some of you may be aware that I've just recorded and released my first EP. Pickering Place, named after the smallest square in London, is a collection that brings together four of my own compositions and a Slade cover; I Won't Let It Happen Again used to sound like this:

Not anymore! You can download this or indeed any or all of the songs from my Bandcamp site. Go on, fill yer boots.