Wednesday 30 July 2014


Rory Gallagher (1948-1995)

Nothing says 1974 quite like a Ford Zephyr, mutton chop sideburns and a lumberjack jacket. This short film extract, taken from Rory Gallagher's 1974 Irish Tour, ticks all of the above boxes whilst at the same time combining a powerful live rendition of A Million Miles Away - with a charming travelogue featuring Gallagher's home town of Cork City. Keep 'em peeled for the autograph hunter who can't quite believe his luck.

Saturday 26 July 2014


Lundy. You know the name from the Shipping Forecast (Lundy, Fastnet, variable 4 becoming cyclonic), but you probably haven't a clue where it is. If you had to stick a pin in a map you'd probably pitch it somewhere off the North East coast of Scotland heading for Norway.
It's a actually a tiny island in the Bristol Channel. With a population of only 28 you'd just about be able to man up two teams for a game of footie, with a ref, two linesmen, a fourth official and one man and a dog to watch. And don't forget the puffins: the literal translation of Lundy is Puffin Island. As commemorated by their coins and stamps. At the turn of the millennium the island's once enormous puffin population had been thinned down to just two breeding pairs. Now, thanks to island warden Phil Friend, who helped oversee the removal of the brown rat population from Lundy, that number has increased ten fold in ten years. Phil couldn't be happier - 'When I first came here you'd be lucky to see a single Puffin. Now they're everywhere.' His glamorous assistant, Jane, however, is not so sure - 'I don't know where they all come from. You turn your back for a minute and another one appears. It was never like this when we lived in Leeds.'

Friday 25 July 2014

Bootsy was right all along

I took delivery of an iPhone last weekend. I've still not loaded any of my old numbers onto it yet; when my phone rings I don't have a clue who's calling. And as I don't know anyone's number by heart I've barely made any calls this week. I used to be able to remember numbers. I used to be smart. Now I realise Bootsy was right all along.

'We are the greatest computers in the world. But now we've created the smart phone which is smarter than us now. But we're still making dumb decisions; we have given our creations more power than we have, and that to me is dumb.' Bootsy Collins

Thursday 24 July 2014

Bump on the noggin

Spare a thought for my wife tonight. And me, while you're about it. Before the Doctor discharged Jenny from A&E this afternoon he gave us a booklet entitled Head Injuries: Discharge Advice. In a nutshell, I've got to prod her awake every two hours and ask her who the Prime Minister is.

So how did we end up driving away from the hospital feeling like a pair of geriatrics? Walking home this morning, Jenny decided to do a random tensile test on the pavement. With her head. It would appear the footpath, comprising several layers of concrete & tarmacadem is just as hard as you would expect and afterwards showed no visible signs of her crash landing on it. Apart from the blood that is. Anyway, looking on the bright side, at least the emergency services, when they arrived, didn't have to draw chalk lines around her.

Monday 21 July 2014

So it Goes

'A' Side: Kurt Vonnegut loved The Riddler. Really
Another 'A' Side: Nick Lowe is The Riddler
Slaughterhouse Five: one of the finest anti-war stories ever written and The Sun Readers' latest book under the microscope. Heart of The City: Stiff Records' first single release in 1976 and one half of a cracking Double 'A' side by the man in the green Riddler suit.

So, The Riddler aside ('A' Side?), what else links Kurt Vonnegut's classic novel from 1969 and Nick Lowe's 1976 lo-fi masterpiece?

Kurt Vonnegut said it 116 times in just under 200 pages, whereas Nick Lowe took less than three minutes to blurt it out 24 times. The answer's all around you. So it goes.

Nick Lowe - So it Goes

Saturday 19 July 2014

Something for the weekend

The sort of thing you see on the walls of most pub gents would hardly constitute art. Banal graffiti, out of date Sky Sports posters, darts team fixture lists and condom machines; something for the weekend, sir? Then again, unless you've got a small bladder, they're not the sort of places you tend to spend too much time in. And you certainly wouldn't want to be seen getting your camera out in such surroundings. Would you?

Pictured above are two pieces I saw recently hanging in the Men's Room. No names, no pack drill. They both caught my eye for different reasons: if you look carefully, the bird on the right is actually a map of Brighton and Hove. And if you look carefully at the cat carrying girl on the left, you'll see she isn't wearing any clothes.

Friday 18 July 2014

Steel City?

I love it when the Americans try and ape the Brits. Almost without fail they fall flat on their arse/ass; though there are notable exceptions. Mike Myers totally gets it: as well as being an uproarious comedy trilogy, the Austin Powers movies provided a great vehicle to show off his band's love affair with England. You don't believe me? Listen to Ming Tea's 'Daddy Wasn't There' or 'Do the BBC'.

Next up would have to be Gwyneth Paltrow. Long before she made a tit of herself at The Oscars and became a Coldplay groupie, Paltrow made a charming little film called Sliding Doors. Her portrayal of a young London temp straddling two parallel universes was so convincing I really thought she was one of us.

But for every Mike Myers there's always a Dick Van Dyke lurking round the film lot. Last night I watched the first 30 minutes of The Def Leppard Story. It's an American made for TV biopic that charts the rise of South Yorkshire's most enduring musical exports, Joe Cocker notwithstanding.

It starts with a car chase (well it would, wouldn't it?) depicting their drummer's last tear-up on the A57 before he parted company with his left arm. The stretch of road where it all happened, the infamous Snake Pass, looks like it was shot in The Rockies. The film's budget obviously didn't stretch to coming over to blighty.

Now, I know that nobody in their right mind would want to sit and watch the film, the whole film and nothing but the film - however, I do urge you to watch the opening ten minutes. Apart from the above mentioned car chase you get shots of 'Sheffield' circa 1978. And when I say Sheffield, I really mean Montreal. That's right, in his wisdom, the Director decided that the town known commonly as Steel City should be twinned with a Canadian outpost it shares no geographical links with whatsoever. So watch out for the Dickensian fruit and veg vendor selling his wares outside the factory gates, the rows of 'terraced houses' and the assortment of passing 'classic' cars. It certainly takes your mind off the dreadful dialogue that passes for a script*.

* The actor playing Joe Elliott says at one point he'd chew his own gonads off if it meant leaving Sheffield. Nuff said.

Monday 14 July 2014

This will be the last time

Candlestick Park and Cow Palace. Two stadiums (stadia?) that not only share the same initials, but practically the same San Fransiscan zip code. And venues that, 18 years  apart, played host to a brace of British beat groups who hung up their gig bags for the last time whilst in the Bay Area.

The Beatles' last hurrah in 1966 is well documented: John knew it was going to be the last time - he even took an early selfie of himself with his back to the crowd. Slade, on the other hand, found themselve supporting Ozzy Osbourne in 1984 and, probably, never knew the significance of the evening's performance. When they returned to blighty Noddy Holder would slowly retreat from the band before finally telling the other three he'd had enough.

My good friend Mark Smith, pictured above, came to visit at the weekend. Mark was practically the fifth member of Slade; his love of the band is well documented and it came as no surprise when he called his first born Noddy and had the letters S L A D E tattooed on his knuckles.*

* As with a lot of content on the internet, some facts contained in the last paragraph may need checking out.

Saturday 5 July 2014

Let's Get Physical

In the summer of 1974 the rock behemoth that was Led Zeppelin retreated to the country and recorded a selection of tunes that would come to define them. The resulting album would be their Exile on Main Street, their White Album, if you will. That's right, an album so big in every sense of the word it would have to be released as a double album and housed in an all singing, all dancing, gatefold sleeve. Physical Graffiti, when it came out in February of the following year, would, at a stroke, put every rock album that had ever been released before it in the shade.

The sleeve depicts a pair of tenement blocks in New York and as men of a certain age (and women for that matter) will tell you, in the seventies you saw an album long before you ever heard it: the artwork was as crucial to the success of an album as the strength of its songs, the dexterity of the guitar solos or the dark art skills of the knob twiddlers.

And Physical Graffiti was no exception. From taking it out of the rack in the record shop, paying for it at the counter and bringing it home on the bus, you couldn't take your eyes off the cover. Where was the photograph taken? Who was that sat on the steps? What does it remind me of?
And, of course, the question we all asked ourselves: will it be as good as Houses of the Holy?

The answers I came up with: 96-98 St Mark's Place, Greenwich Village - where the basement is now home to Physical Graffitea. John Bonham. Jose Feliciano's Compartments (pictured above right) and, oh yes, it was as good as anything they would ever release.

Tuesday 1 July 2014

3597 Medd Ave, Mount Airy, MD

From time to time I google Medd and see what's shakin' on the hill. My latest reconnoiter took me to an American real estate website. Therein I found a tasty four bed, four bath pile sitting in seven acres in Maryland. Situated between Frederick and Baltimore and a mere eight hour drive from New York City, I think, at $499,900 (£290,000), I've just found my dream house.

Take a look for yourself.