Saturday 28 May 2022

In the desert there's a thousand things I want to say to you

Paul John Weller clocked up his 64th birthday last week. I wonder if he rented a cottage in the Isle of Wight - if it wasn't too dear, that is? I distinctively remember coming out of my local record shop in 1977 gleefully clutching my copy of the Jam's debut album In the City thinking that whilst Weller was hellava lot older than me I could relate to what he and his bandmates were railing against. Turns out Paul only had the jump on me by a couple of years (tho' back then that seemed like a massive gulf) and, despite being an angry young man, his first collection of two and a half minute punk workouts amounted to nothing more than being slightly miffed about living in Woking and not London. (A mere 31.2 miles from his front door to Wardour Street according to the RAC Route Planner.) He should have tried living a hundred miles up the A1 in Grantham; he really would have had something to be angry about then.

I've written before about Weller and his prickliness. Unless you're part of his inner circle he holds everyone at arms length. I can remember many moons ago interviewing his guitarist Steve Craddock about his gaffer's moodiness and you could almost see the wagons being circled. "He's a really funny guy" said Craddock. OK, whatever you say.

I wonder what Weller would make of today's selection? If he'd heard it in 1977 I'm sure he'd have hit the fucking roof; maybe not so today, who knows?

GospelbeacH - In the Desert (2019)


The thought of Weller mellowing is something I still can't grasp. I know he's not one, as a rule, to sit down on a stool with just a microphone and his acoustic guitar and bare his soul (with the odd exception), so the idea of him doing precisely that and revisiting and reinterpreting his earlier work would be an anathema. But I'd pay good money to hear him do something like this... 

Katy Goodman & Greta Morgan - In the City (2016)

Thursday 26 May 2022

It takes Brains

If I ever found myself going off the grid or having to enter the witness protection program and in need of a new identity, then I think I'm sorted. If I ever needed a moody passport or a nom de plume to check-in to a hotel under the radar, I've got this. Alas, John Smith won't cut it I'm afraid. There is only one moniker that would look good on a fake driver's licence or first class air ticket.

I am Hiram K. Hackenbacker. And no, I don't know what the K stands for.

Wednesday 25 May 2022

It's been emotional

''Sorrows Away''

I've been racking up a few gigs just lately; after a dearth of live music for nigh on two years I can't begin to tell you how good it feels to be back out there in the pubs, clubs, theatres and concert halls lending support to as many bands bands and artists as I can - musicians who all had the rug pulled from under them so unceremoniously back in March 2020.

And since getting my gig legs again I've found that a lot of  the shows I've been to have almost bordered on a spiritual experience; not least when Ian Prowse came back for an encore and sang Does This Train Stop on Merseyside at The Adelphi in Hull a few weeks ago; just the sound of the opening chords was enough to tip me over the edge; I absolutely lost it. By the end I was an emotional wreck. Rachel Unthank was the same at Nottingham's Albert Hall last month when the 800+ audience began to sing the chorus of their brand new song - Sorrows Away - back to her and the band; she was sobbing uncontrollably. I knew exactly how she felt. 

Whether or not I'll fall apart when I catch the Hanging Stars later in the year is anyone's guess. I literally only discovered them a handful of days ago yet can't stop playing them. Their latest album Hollow Heart is sumptuous. I think it could be the most perfect collection of songs I've heard since Revolver. Yes, it really is that good.  

The Hanging Stars - Heavy Blue (2021)

Tuesday 17 May 2022

Last Man Standing

I said last time I'd join the dots between my friend Tom Wardle and the mighty Monophonics. Since Tom left Nottingham and moved his life to New York he's found himself writing and recording with many, many musicians all over the states - east coast and west. Not bad for a young lad who used to play for pin money in some pretty crumby dive bars in Nottingham. With a voice often compared to Rod Stewart, Tom's written some great songs; always finding that unforgettable chorus you'll be singing days later having only heard it the once. A recent tweet from Tom however had me intrigued: "Joining forces with acclaimed producer and DJ, Villem, on a drum and bass track?" Surely some mistake! And then the penny dropped; it was a cover of Last One Standing (the song I featured last time) which is absolutely made for Tom's soulful pipes. I'd love this to get some serious radio play - it deserves to be a massive hit.

Villem (feat. Tom Wardle) - Last One Standing (2022)

Friday 13 May 2022

Bang Bang

Despite my advancing years I still like to latch onto new bands (new to me, I mean), take them to my heart and call them my all time favourite band ever; before 10 minutes later jettisoning them with nary a backwards glance, as I go in search of my next new shiny thing. 
This week I have mostly been listening to the Monophonics. They are, to borrow a quote from Craig Charles, two pounds of funk in a one pound bag. They sound like this. See what I mean? Btw, remind me to tell you about my friend Tom Wardle and his connection with the band. Next time.

But it was whilst listening to them in the car this week, and their spellbinding version of a Sonny Bono penned classic from 1966, I remembered just how good Nancy Sinatra's version was. Yes, better than Cher's (Sonny's ex) and yes, even better than Frank's - Nancy's dad. You don't believe me...

Nancy Sinatra: Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) - 1966

Anyway, back to those Monophonic boys. Here they are tearing up a little club in Athens in December, 2015. Enjoy...

The Monophonics: Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)

Friday 6 May 2022

Brother from another mother

Apparently, when Angus Young of AC/DC heard Sad Café's My Oh My he said it was the best record the Stones had ever made. I know what he means; I came to it late (and by late I mean within the last few weeks) and was convinced - when I first heard the vocals kick in - it was Karl Wallinger and World Party. And anyone who knows Wallinger will attest that his Goodbye Jumbo album contains (at least) three Stones cast-offs. File under 'what goes around comes around'. Judge for yerself.

Sad Café - My Oh My (1980)

Ten years later; can you tell them apart?

World Party - Way Down Now (1990)

Paul Young (1947-2000)

Monday 2 May 2022

Bloody Hell Fire!

WhatsApp is a very instant medium - something often done on the hoof - so brevity is prmnt. Sorry, paramount. Any shortcuts or abrvtns, though not always grammatically pleasing, often find their way into my text lexicon; don't get me wrong, I love language and punctuation more than most, but sometimes one punchy acronym can paint a thousand (real) words. When I told my friend Riggsby during my American trip that James and I will often exchange a particular three letter rejoinder when, say, Notts County are 3-nil down at half time or some other unpleasant news reaches one or both of us, he nodded sagely. In fact, I went on, I'm always on the look out for cars with the number plate bearing said three letters. They act as a perfect meme to the aforementioned bad news. If you see any on your travels, I think I may have said, he could humour me and email them to me! 
Anyway, I thought no more about our conversation; that is until the postman arrived last week. Here's an extract from Riggsby's letter...

Pretty neat, huh? So, I gave James the choice - Ohio or Kentucky? 'I'll have the birthplace of aviation please, dad!'

Which leaves me with the bluegrass state.

If you see any BHF plates whilst you're out and about, you know what to do...