Saturday 28 July 2018

Woman Driver

Until today, I'm ashamed to say, this NME cover was the only* thing I knew Laura Marling for
Here's something that will brighten up your Saturday morning; stick this short film on while you're having breakfast. It's a deceivingly simple two hander from 2013 - shot in Texas and featuring Laura Marling (who also gets a co-write) it gives a subtle nod and a wink to many road movies of old. I promise you that by the time you've finished your toast and refilled your coffee you'll have come down on either her side, or his; you won't be neutral. I'll defer telling you my take on it until after you've watched it.

Thursday 26 July 2018

News of the World

I can't imagine T B Hudson sold too many more copies of the News of the World after this photograph was taken. In fact, he probably shut the door for the last time later that day - if indeed there was still a door to shut. We have Peter Mitchell to thank for this gem from 1974. Mitchell was a truck driver from Leeds in the seventies and, on his rounds, would grab his camera at every opportunity and record the ever changing city in which he lived. That's what I call proper social history.

Meanwhile, the Methodist Church next door, you'll be pleased to know, is now an arts venue,  home to Chapel FM as well as still being a place of worship. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.

Monday 23 July 2018

If You Can't Stand The Heat

With the exception of Keith Floyd, who I once had the pleasure of meeting, I cannot abide celebrity chefs, and their tendencies.

That said, I may or may not have shown tendencies myself back in the day when I was cooking up a storm. It was not uncommon for me to banish everyone from the kitchen and then crank up the stereogram to 11 (and beyond). I must dig out the article I wrote a few years ago for Delicious magazine in which I said that food and music were joined at the hip; obvious, I know - but it was an easy 500 word piece.

I've mellowed over the years - these days, as long as you come bearing a bottle anyone can come and watch me play.

One of the albums that used to come out regularly on a Saturday night was Death by Chocolate by De Phazz. My friend Riggsby had put me on to them and he once told me that someone he used to work with in Germany went out with their bass player. That's good enough for me.

De Phazz - Heartfixer (2001)

Sunday 22 July 2018

'68 Special

Today's Sunday Times magazine is marking the 50th Anniversary of a remarkable day in the life of the Fab Four. And, as you can see (below), they are really pushing the boat out with a quartet of collectable covers. Anyone familiar with the Beatles' Mad Day Out will know that, for a handful of hours on July 28th. 1968, John, Paul, George and Ringo took a day off recording songs for their White Album and instead, with a select bunch of toggies, slipped anchor and between them created some of the most iconic, and totally non-choreographed set of pictures ever taken of the group.

Their freewheeling adventure took them to some of the most, at the time, insalubrious parts of north and east London including St. Pancras Hospital, Wapping, Cable Street in Whitechapel, Tower Bridge, even Old Street roundabout.

Many of the photographs have probably appeared in this blog over the years, though this one is, I think, my personal favourite.

Saturday 21 July 2018

Nothing Rhymed

Gilbert O'Sullivan and friends
It's late,  I'm tired, and I've had this song going round in my head all week. It was released in 1970 and, in all honesty, I'm guessing there are only a handful of tunes written since that are even fit to tie its boot laces.

I really need someone like Alyson on hand who could put Nothing Rhymed into all sorts of perspectives - musical, personal, cultural, political even. All I know is that if you're sitting anywhere near me on the train to Sheffield tomorrow morning, I'll probably sing it to you. I apologise in advance.

Before I go, does anyone know what drink Gilbert's talking about when he name checks a Bonaparte Shandy? It sounds very elegant, though probably isn't at all.

Night x

Gilbert O'Sullivan - Nothing Rhymed (1970)

Sunday 15 July 2018

Badge of Honour

Image result for clapton is god
London N5, c.1967

Image result for clapton reading beano
He's not the Messiah
Time was when social media consisted of nothing more than a can of spray paint. If you had something to say then all you needed was a wall; or any surface at all, really.

Long before trending and hashtags it was thought by some in London that Eric Clapton's ability to play guitar had transcended that of a mere mortal, and so he was awarded god like status. Seemingly overnight the sort of graffiti pictured above started to appear all over the capital.

Clapton played it down at the time, but it certainly didn't do record or ticket sales any harm.

Eric Clapton - Badge (co-written by George Harrison)

Saturday 14 July 2018

Dim the Lights

Although not as depressing to read as an obituary, I've just learned that Phil Mogg, 70, is standing down from all UFO duties after a UK farewell tour in 2019. The band will be celebrating their 50th anniversary next year and Mogg has decided enough's enough. Sad news indeed.

"Being out on the road isn’t always tremendously luxurious and although the playing is as great as it ever was, the stuff that surrounds it becomes very tiresome. I always told myself that when I reached that stage I would step down, and that’s what I’m going to do. This is the right time for me to quit."

My love affair with UFO goes way back. Way back. My friend Rocky Newton - who himself is still trading the boards with Lionheart and Airrace - was a devotee of the band and introduced me to them when he and his band at the time, Next, would drop Rock Bottom into their set in the late seventies. I was hooked. I would go on to seeing them live at every opportunity (and later write about them), Rocky, on the other hand, eventually hooked up with their errant guitarist Michael Schenker, joined MSG, and toured all over Europe.

So next year I plan to go on an a mini pilgrimage around the country and try and pull in at least two or three dates, and pay my respects to one of the most underrated rock vocalists this country has ever produced - while he's very much still with us.

The band's last album was, interestingly, a covers album; an album in which they pay homage to a hand picked bunch of rock classics that have inspired them over the last half century.

I've chosen two for today. First up is their terrific interpretation of the Yardbirds' Heart Full of Soul. It was written by Graham Gouldman, so not much more to add really, wouldn't you say?

Next up is a bluesy version of ZZ Top's Just Got Paid. ZZ Top will be forever remembered over here for their classic MTV videos (with that car) and the clutch of radio friendly hits they had in the mid eighties - Sharp Dressed Man, Legs and Gimme All Your Lovin' - but this is far classier. Listen for yourself.

Thursday 12 July 2018

Things I've discovered in 2018 (Part 1)

I normally wait till the end of the year to write stuff like this, but I've thrown away the rule book for once and got in early - five months early to be precise. And the thing I'm sharing with you today is pretty specific (niche, you could say), and not a carry over from previous years - like, for instance, it's not good to over think stuff (things generally work out, they really do) and a biggie: neither is it wise to reach for your phone when you've had a drink...But I digress.

At school, when our history teacher, Mr. Shorrock, used to write on the blackboard he would print his words: lower case, not capitals - and not joined up. He told us why one day. 4G never normally listened to anything any teacher had to say, but Shorrock was not long out of teacher training college and he liked Led Zeppelin. "I was off school for a week with Measles", he said, "and when I came back all the other kids had been shown how to join up their letters. But I'd missed it." Hence, whenever he wrote anything down it took him bloody ages; however, it was very neat.

At the risk of digressing again, the above preamble tees up nicely my discovery I want to tell you about. Since time immemorial whenever I go shopping - supermarket shopping - I've had an irrational fear of trolleys. More specifically, the coin lock jobby that releases it from the trolley in front. I've always thought it was the work of the Devil, and as such, will, if I'm on my own, only ever use a basket. Two, sometimes - if there's too much beer for one. Quite restricting, but necessary nonetheless. People in Tesco and Aldi (other supermarkets are available) have, over the years, watched in sheer amazement as I have struggled with these dangerously overloaded wire contraptions, generally used for nothing heavier than biscuits and teabags, looking like Geoff Capes pulling a lorry with just a rope between his teeth.

All because, like Mr. Shorrock and his joined up writing, nobody showed me. Until last Sunday. And, guess what? I've been back twice this week to practice my new skill, and it's only Thursday. It may not be Penicillin or even rocket science, but it's one giant leap for John Medd, I can tell you.

Tuesday 10 July 2018

Maniaco Guitariste

John Wilkinson (b.12.7.47)
It's Wilko Johnson's birthday this week; something of a miracle seeing as how he stared pancreatic cancer in the eye in 2012 and told it to f*ck right off. His doctors had given him less than a year - shows what they know.

Johnson will forever be known as the manic guitarist in Doctor Feelgood, but they kicked him out of his own the band in 1977. Since then he's been the manic guitarist in Wilko Johnson's Solid Senders and Ian Dury's Blockheads. Now he's just a manic guitarist, period.

Here he is in a superb bit of footage from French TV in August 1976. In it he reminds me of a tethered dog in an overgrown front garden who, try as he might, can get no further than the garden gate; 'cos if he ever did...he'd have your hand off. Nothing's so sure.

Doctor Feelgood - Going Back Home

Sunday 8 July 2018

I Often Dream of Trains

Friday night, platform 1. Waiting for my train home. Stay awake John, stay awake. Zzzzzzzzz.

"Excuse me sir, is this your train?"

"The who'll be along in a what now?"

"It's the 23:42 to Nottingham, sir."

"Thanks! Bye!"

Robyn Hitchcock - I Often Dream of Trains

Monday 2 July 2018

And you use it only for me

It's nearly twenty years since Semisonic released Secret Smile as a single. Christ on a bike - 20 years! And yet, if you were to ask me, I could tell you where I was and who I was with the first time I heard it. And what I'd had for breakfast that day, probably. Which is more than I can do today. And, yes, I was tempted to put a sad face emoji at the end of that last sentence.

As I've said here on numerous occasions, a great song will always be a great song. I heard a dance version of this just the other day (I do remember that), and, I'm almost certain, it's become something of a staple for the X Factor generation; there's no shame in that, whatsoever. I love it when new artists unearth old treasures.

But being strictly old skool I still prefer the original. No surprises there then.

Semisonic - Secret Smile