Sunday 28 July 2013

Spirit of '76

In 1976 the emerging new wave had yet to make an impression on the American Billboard charts; in fact the coveted Number One album slot was only occupied by eleven artists that year: Chicago, Earth Wind & Fire, Bob Dylan, The Eagles, Peter Frampton, Wings, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, George Benson, Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Wonder; that's right, the old guard (as they were known back then). Or heritage acts as we call them today - I suspect most, if not all, of the above will be coming to an Arena near you in the not too distant.

That said, The Ramones, Blondie, The Runaways, The Modern Lovers and Patti Smith all released their debut long players in '76. As did Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. This is Breakdown -

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Down at the doctors

'The guitar doctor will see you now Mr. Medd.' I couldn't make out the glamorous assistant's name badge, but then again, I was distracted by her beguiling smile. She told me to go up: three flights of stairs later and I found myself catching my breath on the threshold of what can only be described as a quite magical six-string emporium: guitars hanging on every square inch of wall space; some signed by his clients - I'm sure I saw Clapton's spider-like scrawl on the headstock of a '57 Strat.

'Take a seat John. I can call you John, can't I? Now, what appears to be the problem?' I pointed to my guitar case, whereupon the Doc slowly took my prized possession out of its cocoon. 'Mmm' he said, barely disguising his disdain, 'I'm a doctor, not a miracle worker.'  'I beg your pardon?' was all I could come back at him with.  'Your local priest should have read this...this instrument its last rites long ago.' I was crestfallen. 'But can you save her? She's all I've got.' I was desperate and he knew it. ' I'll try. I can't make any promises, but I'll try.'

I'm not at liberty to divulge what happened over the course of the next couple of hours, suffice it to say that copious amounts of lemon oil were used together with a Mr. Sheen type substance, phosphor bronze strings and, strangely, some winceyette pyjama off cuts. It was like watching Woody being fixed in Toy Story 2. I was nearly falling asleep when, a couple of minutes shy of midnight, my guitar almost sprang off the operating table like an instrument half its age. Like I say, what happened in that room stays in that room. No doubt the good doctor would forget about me the minute I was ushered off the premises. But I'll never forget him. Or his entrancing assistant.

Sunday 21 July 2013

Deep sustained booming noises

Saturday night, movie night. Last night we watched Steve Martin's delightful LA Story. The gorgeous Victoria Tennant flies into Los Angeles from London and captures Martin's heart; as she must have done in real life. Her character says what's on her mind. Talking about her jet lag: 'Yes, I'm shattered, but it's nothing that some sleep and a good fuck wouldn't cure, as my sister used to say.' 

She also plays Do Wah Diddy on the tuba. A great pop song. Here's another great tuba tune written by Vaughan Williams, the Manfred Mann of his day.

Monday 15 July 2013

I never needed anybody's help

As I've suspected for some time, there's nothing new under the sun; having recently reworked Help! into a funeral dirge (chords, tempo, the whole feel of the song changed practically beyond recognition), I find out Lennon had already done it - in the 70s - after the group had split up and after he'd moved to New York. Well, he nearly had. When interviewed some years later Lennon said he couldn't quite work out the new chords and so it never left the confines of The Dakota Building. I've played it live a couple of times now and, to a man, everyone joins in with the new slower harmonies. It really is quite moving.

Saturday 13 July 2013


The fourth day at Trent Bridge and another battle of wits will be fought on a baking hot wicket in Nottingham. I used to live within earshot of the ground and would often duck for cover if some Fancy Dan batsman slogged a six over the Fox Road stand.

My abiding memory of Trent Bridge tests, however, has nothing to do with leather on willow; like Henry Blofeld I'm fixated with the dirigible that hovers above the field of play. For anyone out there who isn't quite sure what a dirigible is, or has always wanted to know what the difference between a blimp and a zeppelin is, take a look here.

And even though I can't see it from our new gaff, Blowers will be keeping me up to speed with its movements together with regular bus updates - red (on the Radcliffe Road) and green (Loughborough Road). And if there are any crazy pigeons who stray onto the crease I'll be the first to know. Me and the millions of other TMS listeners in whichever hemisphere they find themselves in.

Friday 12 July 2013

All at sea

I guess this is what happens when they only ask you for a fifty pence deposit; I'm surprised they're not all out at sea blocking international shipping lanes.

Monday 8 July 2013

A Hard Ray's Night

My cousin Ray has been around these parts on at least one previous occasion. Not not only do we share the same set of grandparents, but also a love of all things Beatles; in particular A Hard Day's Night. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of conversations we've had that hasn't contained at least one line from the film: 'He's very clean, your grandfather' being a hardy perennial. Last Saturday, on a trip to the seaside, we found ourselves in what can only be described as a Hard Day's Night carriage - so with a little help from his son (my second cousin, I think) Jack, we tried to do a little FAB re-enactment. I'm out of shot holding Jack's feet. 

A little later we took our guitars down the corridor to the mail carriage and played 'I Should Have Known Better'.