Saturday 29 April 2017


Glen Campbell's days are numbered, it would appear. His dementia, now full blown Alzheimers, was first diagnosed back in 2012 and has all but taken away one of the greatest guitarists (certainly the most versatile) of all time. As well as having hit after hit in his own right, Campbell played on singles as diverse as I'm a Believer, Strangers in the Night (that's right, Sinatra) and Unchained Melody; and a ton of other stuff by The Beach Boys (he was a stand-in for Brian Wilson in 1964/5), Mamas & the Papas, Dean Martin and Bobby Darin. Seeing recent footage of, let's not mince words here, this legend is nothing short of heartbreaking; best to remember him this way - a mesmerising TV appearance including a masterclass in how to play guitar, and a jaw dropping solo rendition of Wichita Lineman. I strongly urge you to watch it.

I love Any Trouble's homage to the great man. I saw Clive Gregson perform this beautiful song at a house concert a couple of years ago, and it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention; there's not many songs that can do that these days.

Any Trouble - When I Hear Glen Campbell Sing

Saturday 22 April 2017


My admiration of Magnus Mills is unbridled. Show me a better writer and I can see we'll be looking for the nearest branch of Burtons.

His new novel, The Forensic Records Society, landed on the doormat yesterday; I started it this morning after breakfast and already it's shaping up to be a classic. When a couple of music buffs decide to start a record listening club in the backroom of their local pub on a Monday evening, it's not long till a counter group forms - meeting in the same pub on a Tuesday; textbook Mills.

Did I ever tell you that he once wrote me a postcard? I've just dug it out of my copy of Mills' The Scheme For Full Employment. Nesbitt is a character from same, in case you were wondering.

Monday 17 April 2017

You Can Go Your Own Way

I heard something this evening that is both quirky and yet weird at the same time; either way, it's something to file under my 'Help! Get me out out of here' file; which is growing at a rate of knots.

It transpires that a resident of the town can't bear to be in a room if Fleetwood Mac come on the radio/jukebox/Spotify playlist etc. Beers have been left half drunk as soon as Stevie Nicks opens her mouth. Of course, pub landlords are now filling their boots with this vital piece of intel and, with the aid of a simple 'ring round' are using it in pretty much the same way farmers lay rat poison to prevent vermin. I know, you couldn't make it up. Let's hope Ms. Nicks never finds out.

Fleetwood Mac - You Can Go Your Own Way

Sunday 16 April 2017

Don't Feel Sorry for Loverboy

When Peter Kay's Car Share was first broadcast in 2015 I said at the time how superbly written it was. Kay has got pedigree, and not just as a standup or regular on chat show sofas; both Phoenix Nights and Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere were crafted in such a way that, like all good writing, there wasn't a word too many or a word too few. Every line mattered.

In Car Share Kay has interwoven a clever eighties and nineties soundtrack via the Forever FM constantly playing (both to and from work) in Kay's little Fiat: yes, a lot of the selections are cheesy, but every track is hand picked. And there for a reason. Take a look at the 101 songs that spanned both series and, if you know the show (and only loved it half as much as I did), then you'd see a musical thread that is every bit as tight the dialogue between John and Kayleigh.

Friday 14 April 2017

The Pre-Genie

Bowie's The Jean Genie is nearly 45 years old. Can you believe it? It was released as a single in November 1972, before appearing on Aladdin Sane the following year.

'Make Me Your Baby' by Giorgio Moroder, meanwhile, will be 50 next year. Moroder, the man who gave us Chicory Tip's 'Son of My Father' and a ton of disco smashes including Donna Summers' orgasmic 'Love to Love', released this prototype for the Jean Genie in April 1968.

Giorgio Moroder - Make Me Your Baby

Sunday 9 April 2017

Tigers on Vaseline

Ziggy and the Spiders. No one was really sure where Ziggy hailed from - Bromley in Kent, probably - but everyone knows where the Spiders came from. And no, it's not the red planet. The Spiders: Mick Ronson, Woody Woodmansey and Trevor Bolder were all residents of Kingston upon Hull. That would have been a bit of a mouthful back in 1972 when Ziggy Stardust was looking for a name for his backing band. So, Mars it was then.
It's not documented whether or not Ken Wagstaff (the greatest striker ever to have pulled a Hull City shirt on) was a Bowie fan or not. But in '72, Waggy and the Tigers were plying their trade in the old Second Division. In that same year The Spiders from Mars tour was in full flow.

Meanwhile, back in Hull, City (unlike now) were consistently under achieving: it would be another thirty years or more before they reached the top flight. Bowie, on the other hand, was on fire. Ziggy Stardust catapulted both him and his East Yorkshire band members front and centre - their mammoth UK and North America1972 campaign pulled in some prestigious dates in the US including New York's Carnegie Hall and the Winterland Auditorium in San Fransisco, before rounding off the year at London's Rainbow Theatre. Hull's itinerary, meanwhile, included exotic locations such as Preston North End. And Middlesborough. Although Waggy missed part of the season due to injury, he was still finding the back of the net. However, they would still finish the season nearer the bottom of the league than the top. Tigers on vaseline, indeed.

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Today's offering comes on the back of finishing my new song, 'Won't Fade Away'. It's a eulogy to Hull - the place where I was born. York Songwriters are putting on a gig in the summer in a little bar in the Fruit Market later in the summer - each of us playing a Hull themed ditty. Unfortunately I'll have moved by then, so will miss it. Here's the first verse:

I was born on the Beverley High Road
When Waggy and the Tigers played at Boothferry Park
And we'd go to the Land of Green Ginger
Have a few few beers...stumble home in the dark

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Saturday 8 April 2017

Getting Better

I've got to admit it's getting better, a little better all the time; seven weeks on Thursday.

That's my bit at the end. John and Paul were kind enough to leave the gaps, so you can sing along with the extra line - should you so desire. It actually forms part of the new remastered version of Pepper (it was fifty years ago today, sort of) that will be available for you to buy (again) next month. Sneak preview time:

The Beatles - Getting Better (instrumental) mp3

Tuesday 4 April 2017

Living in Hope

Barry Wom - pretty in pink



       1. a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen

Barrington Womble (aka Barry Wom) was living in hope; and he wasn't even the best drummer in the Rutles. Allegedly.

Sunday 2 April 2017

Blind Faith

No caption required
What you're about to read in the opening paragraph just couldn't happen now. Could it...?

It's 1969. You're a 14 year old girl. A photographer approaches you on the London Underground and asks if you wouldn't mind taking your top off for some 'artistic' snaps he wants to take for a pop group's new album cover. 'No, I think I'll pass' says the youngster, 'but my younger sister would be up for it.' The shoot is set up (amazingly with the girl's parents' consent), whereupon photographer Bob Seidemann asked the topless 11 year old - Maiora Goschen - to hold a phallic spaceship. He calls the resulting image 'Blind Faith'.

She can laugh about it now
The album in question goes on to sell millions (well, Eric Clapton *was* God at the time), though the sleeve is still reviled in certain quarters. Accusations of child pornography aside, the standout song on Blind Faith's one and only album is 'Can't Find My Way Home'. It was written by a then twenty year old Stevie Winwood. When the supergroup played it at their debut gig in Hyde Park it was a baking hot day in June. Forty odd years later here's Winwood playing it solo and dressed for the tundra. He really needs to crank the heating up.

Saturday 1 April 2017

This is Your Life

I'd like to think I played a small part in this new release: Your Life is an exquisite collection of songs recorded earlier this year, mostly in her living room, by the adorable Rowena Simpson. Rowena used to play in a little jug band in a former life, before stepping back and letting life do that thing that life does. Twenty years later, and with a wealth of life (that word again) experiences to draw on, she had the makings of a few new songs - and would have been quite happy to keep them to herself, playing them to the cat and the dog.

And then she came to Songwriters. She reminded me of Bambi on the ice; she just needed a little bit of encouragement, a little bit of support. And she flourished.  She got her confidence back and began writing some beautiful songs. And then she got the monkey off her back and started playing live. In front of real people. And she loves it. Her nine track album of self penned material is astonishingly good (well, I would say that wouldn't I?), it really is.

I've chosen three tracks which give you a through the keyhole taster of her CD. I think you'll like them.

That's us at the bottom

Rowena and I shared a stage at the Fulford Arms in York on Thursday night as part of the York Songwriters revue gig we put on. It was an unqualified success: we played in front of a good crowd and the CDs were flying off the Merch Stand like you wouldn't believe!
I'll miss them when I go - I can honestly say that the talent in the room on Thursday was breathtaking. I wish them all well and hope they put on many more gigs like this in the future.

Crumpled Shirt Man - snapped by Rowena