Sunday 24 February 2019

Ruthie Kelner

Ruthie (dad not pictured)

Ruthie - Me & My Dad  "charming"
A regular fixture in my Podcast Diary is the charming Ruthie - Me & My Dad. I'm absolutely bowled over by its relaxed sensibility; that and its Route One approach at getting to the nub of all 21st. Century tribulations; be it anti-Semitism or the Kardashians, Ruth and her dad (Martin) nail it.

Back in 2014 Martin very kindly agreed to do a quickfire Q&A this blog and I thought it would be great if Ruth would like to follow in her dad's footsteps and answer a few questions (nothing too taxing) of her own. She did. And for that I really can't thank her enough.

As Ruth is about to sack it off to Uni and has got some important exams coming up, instead of writing down her answers, she fired them back at me during the latest podcast episode - Eternal Sunshine. Tune in from 02:30. Thank you again Ruth. And Martin.

And while I'm in thanking mode, I'd also like to thank the pair of them for putting me onto Schtum - Jem Lester's account of his profoundly autistic 11 year old son. It's now on on my ever expanding to-read list.

Saturday 23 February 2019

This is Ours

I'm still coming down from Dodgy's gig at Rock City last Saturday. There's more than a strong possibility I'll be seeing them a little later in the tour; if only to hear them do their a capella version of Find the Cost of Freedom. For years now they've been dropping it into their set as part of This is Ours. I could listen to them harmonising all night. Here it is/they are from the Astoria in London doing just that.

Dodgy - This is Ours/Find the Cost of Freedom (1995)

And here's the original. Absolutely no introduction necessary.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Find the Cost of Freedom (1970)

Thursday 21 February 2019


This week has seen a new arrival at Medd Towers. He's been dropping by, unannounced, for a couple of weeks now. At first it was nighttime sorties only - waiting till after lights out, entering by stealth thru the cat-flap, then making his way to the kitchen and helping himself to Doris' supper.
But now in true Six Dinner Sid style, he's casually breezing in for a spot of breakfast, a bit of a play, whereupon he'll jump up on the window cill and watch the world go by, before exiting stage left. And come nightfall he's back again. I call him Albert; he looks like an Albert. I think he likes it here.

Whilst on the subject of Albert, I can't not mention the recent passing of Albert Finney. Finney was a great character actor. His portrayal of Arthur Seaton in Saturday Night Sunday Morning was superb. I saw it recently on the big screen for the first time earlier this year and he and Nottingham never looked better.

I also name-checked him in the early days of this blog - in Gumshoe, Finney played dreamer Eddie Ginley - a smalltime bingo caller/private eye who gets caught way out of his depth in a very murky early seventies Liverpool. Such was his performance alongside Billie Whitelaw and Frank Finlay, this classic film noir will always feature in My Top Ten Movies.

And then today I found this in my office. A theatre programme from 1960. When Albert Finney took on the role of Billy Fisher (another dreamer), he brought Keith Waterhouse's novel Billy Liar to life. Interestingly, when it had the movie makeover a couple of years later it would be Finney's mate Tom Courtenay who was cast as our anti-hero.

Sunday 17 February 2019

What Have I Done Wrong?

I've lost count of the number of times I've seen Dodgy live. More than 20? Definitely. More than 50? Probably; and when I said here they'd be going round the country to mark the 25th anniversary of Homegrown (their second long player), I knew that I would drop all plans and get myself down the front.

It's hard to comprehend where the last quarter of a century has gone. 1994 seems like another world. Though I'm glad to report that even though a few brain cells have been lost along the way, I still have my original copy of the album. As well as my own teeth. And hair.

Of course Homegrown* had Staying Out For The Summer on there, and Melodies Haunt You, even So Let Me Go Far. But this was the standout song for me last night. Still relevant too, as Nigel Clark pointed out - social media has got a lot to answer for. It really has.

Dodgy - What Have I Done Wrong? (1994)

They were even selling programmes last night. How refreshing, how Dodgy. Five English pounds** secured a permanent reminder of a brilliant album and a brilliant night. And I still haven't ruled out Brighton and/or London yet...

* The song Homegrown, perversely, is not on Homegrown. It can be found on Free Peace Sweet.
** 10% of all profit made from the programme goes to Musicians Against Homelessness. 

Wednesday 13 February 2019

Delicate Wallflowers

You've gotta laugh. Even on Twitter

This week I have been mostly upsetting Specials fans on Twtter. Nobody told me what delicate wallflowers they all are. Ah well, at least Horace Panter saw the funny side. In the end.

That being the case, it's probably best I say only good things about Terry Hall; shouldn't be hard, I actually like the fella. Really, I do. He's a fine songwriter, no question about it. In fact, if you asked me today to list my Top 50 albums there's a very good chance Laugh from 1997 would be in there. I can't say fairer than that, now can I?

Terry Hall - Summer Follows Spring (1997)

Terry Hall - Love to See You (1997)

Postscript 16.2.19

On the advice of Mark (see his comment below), I sat down for an hour with a cup of tea and watched Richard Herring's podcast with Terry. And, can I just say, what a revelation it was. Quite literally. I can't recommend it highly enough. If you're at a loose end this weekend (and even if you're not) please give it a coat of looking at. You'll be glad you did, I promise you.

Sunday 10 February 2019

Blue Bleezin' Blind Drunk

Unaccompanied, as they are
Pubs. And music. Surely two of the most pivotal things in life; in mine anyway, don't know about yours.
Before they became the Unthanks*, Rachel Unthank and the Winterset could walk into pubs in Sydney**, casually stand at the bar, and belt out folk standards like this. Don't you just wish the Hero of Waterloo was your local?

Rachel Unthank & the Winterset - Blue Bleezin' Blind Drunk

* A bluffers guide to the Unthanks. And last seen at Medd Towers here.

** A helluva way from Northumberland. Some people don't mind travelling that little bit further to get a decent pint.

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Johnny Reggae

Johnny Clarke
In 1977, being something of a part time punk, I had absolutely no idea that Egyptian Reggae by Jonathan Richman was a cover. Yes, it sounded catchy, familiar even. But despite that whole Punk/Reggae collision thing going on in the late seventies, if you'd told me it was Richman's take on a Jamaican rub-a dub 45 from only three years earlier I'd have been none the wiser. John Peel would probably have known, bless him, but I don't remember him ever telling me.

Johnny Clarke - None Shall Escape Judgement (1974)

Jonathan Richman - Egyptian Reggae (1977)

Tuesday 5 February 2019

Almost Hear You Sigh

Signature Sound

When you listen to Keith Richards' 1988 demo of Almost Hear You Sigh, you can see why he was holding back from putting it on his solo album, Talk is Cheap. It was good, but it wasn't great. It had a groove, but it wasn't groovin'.

It needed Mick, for sure: Jagger would add his vocals and blag a co-write. But, more importantly, it needed Charlie's drums; Mick and Keith don't make the Stones. Mick + Keith + Charlie = the Stones. Elementary.

Sans Charlie (1988)

Avec Charlie* (1990)

Live (1990)

Criminally, they only ever played it live a handful of times (on the Steel Wheels tour in 1990). It was then put away in a bottom drawer where it resides to this day.

* Also contains a most exquisite Spanish acoustic guitar solo from Keith.

Monday 4 February 2019

Deeper Than You Think

One of my favourite showbiz anecdotes concerns David Niven - actor, gentleman. And more than a little flawed*.

In the late 1960s before leaving his home in the south of France to go on a film shoot, Niven gave specific instructions to his builder for the dimensions of his new swimming pool. Thirty by twenty by eight.
When Niven came back the pool had been built to his exact requirements. Sort of.

Ever the Brit, Niven had been talking in feet. His French builder, however, had been listening in metres.

Niven would often boast that he owned the deepest swimming pool in Europe, if not the world.

George Benson (featuring Joe Sample) - Deeper Than You Think

* It was said of Niven that he had charm. But not to spare.

Sunday 3 February 2019

Rock and Roll

Nat 'Wing Back' Maon
Back in December I said that I'd started playing a stripped down version of Led Zeppelin's Rock and Roll.

And in the October I speculated about my next batch of recordings - in particular my desire to bag the services of Nathaniel Mason, the finest banjo player this side of the Trent.

So, on Thursday just gone, Nat came over for a spot of supper and a bit of a play. We ran through a few songs together, one of them being the aforementioned Rock and Roll. After playing it once thru we had a feel for which way it was going. On the second time, it sounded a bit like this:

The next time we play it will be in a couple of weeks at the Running Horse in Nottingham. Led Zeppelin fans may well be washing their hair that night.

Saturday 2 February 2019


Anyone who knows me will tell you that, more often than not, I've always got a camera about my person. But it's inconspicuous1 and can sit quite snugly in my inside pocket. Be it a 35mm SLR or a simple point and shooter, it's always on hand. I always say that were it not for me the Medd family photograph album would be nothing more than a couple of faded snaps sitting in the bottom of a kitchen drawer full of rubbish. 

In my head I'm always framing a potential photo opportunity. People. Places. Things. Anything really. Even sheep. However, when I saw this flock the other day I'd only got my phone with me; so that had to do. It was late afternoon as I approached my woolly friends, and the light was fading. As soon as they spotted me they all stood stock still and wouldn't take their eyes off me; quite unnerving.

It's at this point I feel I should give you my Top 10 Sheep Songs. But I leave that sort of thing to the mighty Rol. What he hasn't turned into a Top 10 you could fit on the back of a postage stamp2. That said I will leave you with two sheeps, not least because they make me laugh; for different reasons.

Robert Wyatt always makes me laugh. His music is invariably uplifting and joyous. And mischievous. Everything he does will put a smile on my face. Somebody once said about him: "It can be a bit like finding Tommy Trinder popping up in the middle of Yessongs or Del Boy guesting with the Mahavishnu Orchestra." Yeah, I'll go with that.

Robert Wyatt - Heaps of Sheeps (1997)

Second sheep - Sheep May Safely Graze (surely in J S Bach's Top 10?). Whilst, obviously, not a laugh out loud piece of music by any means, please take a few minutes to watch this most pretentious and preposterous bit of footage of Khatia Buniatshvili playing a Steinway grand piano in the middle of a forest(!). And all the while tossing her Harmony hair-sprayed mane and giving it serious 'bedroom eyes'. A fine tune indeed. But hysterical nonetheless3.

1 Nobody wants to look like a tourist; or even worse. that guy
2 I'm sure Rol has even given us his Top Ten postage stamps(?)
3 Funnier than the Housemartins and Pink Floyd, that's for sure