Tuesday 28 June 2022

Guilty as sin

Those songs you like but you hate yourself for liking. That. My head is full of 'em. And just when you think you can't possibly fit another Still the Same or Don't Stop Believing in, along comes a new arrival, a Johnny come lately, if you will. But unlike most other AOR/Yacht Rock guilty pleasures who generally announce their arrival by way of a Netflix or HBO soundtrack and thus showing you their credentials (Bob Seger and Journey did just that - and very successfully - in Ozark and The Sopranos respectively), this annoyingly catchy slice of soft rock seems to have attached itself like a barnacle to my latest predictive playlist without any of the above mentioned pleasantries. And yes, after it happened twice I 'hearted' it (or should that have been 'red-flagged'?) and so now it just drops in and out anytime it bloody well feels like it.

Eddie Money - Two Tickets to Paradise (1977)

Tuesday 21 June 2022

The Last Gang in Town

I just want to say a few words about our small, but perfectly formed, Bloggers Meet-Up last week. One or two of us who have been writing blogs since the dawn of time have been threatening to meet up in the real world for longer than I care to remember; and so it came to pass that last Tuesday the waves parted, the planets aligned and the rail network remained strike-free long enough to enable six humble scribblers to make the long journey to Edinburgh - following some mythical siren call to come and spend a few days in each other's company. And what a splendid few days away it was too. Although my fellow bloggers' anonymity* prevents me from telling you who came to feast at the top table, I'm sure you've all read enough of my back issues to piece together who the runners and riders were.

And in real life, just like our blogs, the conversation was convivial, the company was scintillating and the music was, ahem, banging. Thank you to everyone who came and made the excursion so life affirming; let's hope we can do it all over again in '23. 

* Tho' they did allow me to use the thinly disguised photograph (above) which was taken outside a rather lovely hostelry. (Don't worry, we had plenty more taken inside hostelries!)

Monday 13 June 2022

Afore Ye Go

Dan Willson is a quirky Edinburgh troubadour; normally anyone with that sort of label hanging round their neck should either be a. weird or b. up themselves. Finding out he was brought up by strict Jehova's Witnesses and, as a kid, wasn't allowed to attend school assemblies, birthday parties or Christmas celebrations, I'd probably lean more towards the former - in a good way; he's part of the illustrious Fence Collective, so definitely not the latter.

Performing under the moniker Withered Hand, his take on indie folk (some call it 'anti-folk') are glorious lo-fi anthems and prime examples of what can happen when you get bought a guitar for your thirtieth birthday. I've been listening to a lot of his stuff in the last few days (before I venture north of the border tomorrow) and when I rock up in Edinburgh will be sure to crane my neck and see if he still plays on the roof of his house... 

Withered Hand - Religious Songs (2009)

Tuesday 7 June 2022


In the same way that Noddy and Slade stamped their trademark on the 70s (not to mention Christmas) so too did Roy Wood: forming the Electric Light Orchestra with his mate Jeff Lynne after the demise of the Move, before throwing his lot in with Wizzard, whilst throughout glam (and beyond) keeping one hand on a none too shabby solo career (a bottom drawer permanently stuffed with songs he couldn't find a home for in any of his bands), Wood, in a lot of ways, probably out-Slayed Slade; whereas Noddy shared songwriting duties with bass player Jim Lea and didn't have to worry about going it alone, Roy was writing all the hits for both himself and the band singlehanded. And he applied his own make-up! 

His first solo album, Boulders, released in 1973 comprised songs he'd squirrelled away since the late 60s. It's a beautiful collection and a solo effort in every sense: written by, produced & played by (all instruments with the exception of the harmonium) and he also painted his self portrait on the sleeve. The record is crammed with hits that never were* including one track he'd written for the New Seekers and their stab at Eurovision: Songs of Praise, which made it to the last six of the heats was outvoted in 1972 by Beg, Steal or Borrow. But just take a look at some of the other songwriters on display here - Mike Leander - who co-wrote all Gary Glitter's top 10 hits, Mike Sammes (without his Singers) & Ray Davies - he of the Button Down Brass (not the Kink) to name but three.

A Song for Europe 1972 - 12 February, 1972

* When I said 'hits that never were', I meant with the exception of this gem. I loved it then and I love it still...

Roy Wood - Dear Elaine (1973)

Friday 3 June 2022

In the shadow of Brian Wilson

The best Beach Boys song ever? That's easy, I said as much here. Tho' a much better category, I think, would be best non-Beach Boys Beach Boys song. Jan and Dean's You Really Know How to Hurt a Guy anyone? Or maybe Beach Baby Beach by First Class? Strong contenders both.

However, for my money, there's only one homage that really gets inside the head of Brian Wilson; in fact, someone far more astute than me once said about this record that it's like Neil Sedaka up on stage with the Beach Boys; you won't find me arguing with that. 

Possibly Roy Wood's finest moment...

Roy Wood - Forever (1974)

Thursday 2 June 2022

Arizona S3

Off the top of my head I can't think of a single thing that links Sheffield and Arizona, but the Fargo Railroad Co. seem to bridge the gulf seamlessly. Quite what a bunch of lads from South Yorkshire know about the drought stricken Dustbowl, or hauling heavy loads on American highways coast to coast, is anyone's guess; but their songs are, to these ears anyway, probably more Americana than anything coming out of the prairies right now.

I was lucky enough to see them a couple of weeks back on their home turf opening for Curse of Lono; not bad for a Dirty Little Bar Room Band.

The Fargo Railroad Co. - Arizona Dust (Live in session 2015)

Coast to Coast