Monday 31 October 2022

It's a family affair

My love of the Partridge Family is, if truth be known, shared only by a handful of my good friends; tho' even they are probably just indulging me. But, that's OK. I'm a big boy. It's hardly love me love my dog; even I can acknowledge that when it comes down to it the Partridge Family weren't real. Well, yes they were real in the sense that the Monkees were real, but they weren't a real family. David Cassidy wasn't Keith Partridge and Shirley Jones wasn't Keith's mum. Wait, hang on a minute, she kinda was. OK, you know what I mean.

But today's show and tell really is real. The Cowsills were a real family. Brothers. Sisters (well, sister singular). And mother. All singing in the same band. I'm reading all about them now. It's a hellava story, mark my words. I won't tell you how it ends, read it yourself. I will, however, share this with you. And, as you're watching the clip below, tell me, in your mind's eye, you don't see Danny Bonaduce behind that drum kit.

The Cowsills - The Rain, the Park & Other Things (1967)

Sunday 30 October 2022

Local beat sensations

Stuart Pearce, Bodega Nottingham. Photo ©John Medd
East Midlands beat combo, Stuart Pearce, have just released their new single. BBC Radio Nottingham gave 'Beat Sensation' a spin last week and already this post-punk delicacy is becoming something of an ear-worm. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this, it only exists in the digital world - through all the usual digital streaming platforms (until such time as thy can get an indie label interested or find a benevolent benefactor who can help kickstart a vinyl pressing). In the meantime they're hoping that the likes of you and me can throw a couple of quid in their Bandcamp bucket and help spread the word...


I've seen them live a few times now and they really are mustard. On Tuesday night they supported Bis (remember them?) at The Bodega in town (photo top). The gig saw the return of Adam, their guitarist, back after a brief illness; the footage below, however, is from a recent Ukraine fundraiser gig at The Canal House with the Number One Son (far left) depping on guitar. 

Sunday 23 October 2022

When Barry Met Johnny

I've never done a school reunion in my life. It's not my thing. What happened in the 70s says in the 70s; or words to that effect. However - there's always a however - when two school friends find themselves following each other on Twitter and one of them says 'You fancy meeting up sometime?' then that's different. Of course it is. Barry and I go way back. As way back as 1972 if both of our (fading) memories are anything to go by. But we hadn't seen each other since Christmas Eve 1982. And save for a solitary phone call in 1991 when one of us heard the other on national radio, that's pretty much been it communication wise. Until, as I said, Twitter Reunited. 
Our first stab at this back in August didn't end well: I'd been on the Birmingham train a mere 15 minutes when a frantic text alerted me to the fact that Barry (or Baz as I - and nobody else - call him) would not be meeting me at New Street after all - he was in Emergency Ward 10 (well, A&E) attending to a real life emergency.
When I got home I posted Baz the gift I'd been planning on giving to him in person. A copy of Stevie Wonder's He's Misstra Know it All c/w with an inscription we both knew by heart; an in-joke that had stood the test of time and, like any in-joke, meaningless to anyone outside our circle. Oh, and I put it in this bag.
A couple of days later I received a beautiful reply. (It began 'Dear Johnny...' - he's the only person I know still calls me Johnny - if it'd been a letter I'd have pressed it and kept it in a secret drawer. That's bromance for ya. 

So yesterday the planets aligned and as you can see from the photo at the top (taken yesterday morning), we met up in Nottingham and had a brilliant breakfast and catch-up at the Warsaw Diner - the best breakfast in Nottingham. Don't just take my word - Baz is something of a  hospitality guru and he gave it a double thumbs up. High praise indeed.
So how did we compress 40 years into three hours? Quite easily, actually. What did we talk about? Everything. Did we laugh? Of course. Did we promise to do it again in another 40 years? Definitely. (But ahead of what would be, let's face it, a miraculous 2062 event, we're already lining up a couple of gigs for a future hook up a wee bit bit before that. Cheers, Baz!


Baz told me about John 'Hair on Fire' Wilson who sadly passed recently (the first of our Class of '77 to go). Rest easy, John.

Friday 21 October 2022

Is there a Doctor in the house?

I can honestly say that from the moment Doctor Who first made its way into the Medd family's living room on a Saturday evening I was genuinely excited as fuck and, at the same time, scared shitless. Daleks. Cibermen. Silurians. And as if those three weren't enough to mess with a young boy's head I also had this lot to contend with: shop mannequins...

The Autons Activate (1974)

Just finding this two minute clip and posting it to the blog has brought back so many childhood nightmares. Is it any wonder I went prematurely grey?

I'm not sure if Alan Parsons was a big fan of our favourite timelord. But judging by the video below (despite knowing the song for nearly 40 years, I only discovered the accompanying film earlier this evening), I'm guessing he too was taken with those lifelike monsters hiding in plain sight in our town centre shop windows up and down the land.

The Alan Parsons Project - Prime Time (1984)

Thursday 20 October 2022

Weren't Born a Man

Some of my earliest memories of David Bowie songs are versions by other people. He would often give them away to friends like Mott the Hoople ('All the Young Dudes') and Peter Noone ('Oh! You Pretty Thing'); I've always preferred Simon Turner's interpretation of 'The Prettist Star' over the original. Still not sure about Lulu tho'.
Bowie was a huge fan of Andy Warhol but had never met the daddy of Pop Art when he penned his three minute homage to him. When he finally did play it to him he hated it. I love it. I also love his former girlfriend's versh too. And she got Mick Ronson to play guitar on it. Born Richenda Antoinette de Winterstein Gillespie she'd known the artist formerly known as David Jones since they were teenagers. Probably explains why she handles the song with such care. 

 Dana Gillespie - Andy Warhol (1973)

Sunday 16 October 2022

Gardiner's Question Time

The Boris Gardiner Happening c.1973

Name - Boris Gardiner

Born - 13 January 1943; Kingston, Jamaica

1st Big Hit - Elizabethan Reggae (1970)

Best Known For - I Wanna Wake Up With You (1987)

Not a lot of people know - As a renowned bass player he was an in demand  session musician recording and touring with Lee Scratch Perry and the Upsetters, the Heptones and a ton more.

Reason for featuring on the blog today - Pete Paphides played this on his Soho Radio show last Monday evening...

Boris Gardiner - Love Dub (1975)

Thursday 13 October 2022

Just when I think I'm winning

I'm digging deep into the Japan back catalogue at the moment; I first latched onto them when thy were very loud, very louche and, yes, very glam. Hailing from Catford in south London they quickly jettisoned their guitar heavy sound and the glam tag that came with it. Growing up in double quick time they soon transmogrified into one of the UK's most original electronic bands. Always innovative, always great to look at, they could have been massive. But they were never destined to grow old (quite literally In Mick Karn's case*) - blink and you miss 'em. Androgynous front man (well, they all were really) David Sylvian pulled the plug not long after Ghosts became a top 5 hit. This etherial masterpiece could have been the beginning of something special but they didn't stick around long enough to find out.

This single used to wrong-foot me then; forty years later it still wrong-foots me. I can't think of any other record that sounds remotely like it. 

Japan - Ghosts (1982)

* I must mention that their heroic bass player doesn't feature on Ghosts. To make up for this travesty here are some of Mick Karn's best bass bits. God love him.

Mick Karn (1958-2011)

Saturday 8 October 2022

Architecture. And affordable art

When art and architecture collide - today's 500 words are brought to you in association with Nick Coupland and Thomas Cecil Howitt.

Nick is a contemporary artist working in pen & ink and specialises in post modern architecture; often concrete; often brutal. I've been a fan of his work for a long time and, a couple of Christmases ago I gifted my daughter-in-law (hugely into architecture) a signed copy of his beautiful book - Modernist Lines, Brutalist Shapes - which had a number of his drawings of English (many in Hull and Manchester), European, Asian and American buildings & structures; from Preston Bus Station to the Nakogin Capsule Tower in Tokyo.

Nick's work is nothing short of amazing. His attention to detail is forensic. How he can replicate the smallest of windows, the most ornate corbel, in such microscopic detail is amazing. And also a little bit scary; he must go to the same optician as Superman. He recently posted on Twitter that for the modest sum of £20 (including postage) he would draw any building of your choice on a  6'' x 6'' card, so you could own a true Nick Coupland original. I didn't need to think twice: for the last couple of years I have photographed the former Home Brewery Building in Daybrook, Nottingham countless times*. From every angle. In all weathers. Day. And night. Like my bloody tree, it's become an obsession.

So I asked Nick if he could work his magic on this beautiful building dating back to 1938 and designed by acclaimed local architect Thomas Cecil Howitt. (An architectural practice bearing his name still operates in the city to this day.) He could and he did. It landed on the doormat yesterday. To say I'm chuffed would be an understatement. I absolutely love it. 

Please do check out both the artist from Hull and the architect from Nottingham (links at the top of the page). Who knows, you might want to ask Nick to draw a building designed by a renowned architect from your area. Or your house. Or even your local pub. Speaking of which:

* I won't lie to you. There's a good reason I photograph this building more than any other: it's directly opposite my favourite pub - The Abdication - which I'm sure I've mentioned once or twice round here before. Cheers!

Thank you to Nick. And thank you to Mr. Howitt (1889-1968), without whom...

Monday 3 October 2022

Don't Let the Sunlight Fool Ya

It was so good to be back in Leeds on Saturday with James, I can't begin to tell you. We were there to see the mighty Slackers at the Brudenell Social Club. I remember taking a teenage James to see them many moons ago when he was still living at home. Though I've seen them countless times, that visit to The Rig in Nottingham was the Number One Son's only live encounter with them. Nearly 20 years later and the band are still as razor sharp as ever; nobody does New York ska/bluebeat/reggae/dub/soul quite like this Manhattan sextet. Fact.


The Slackers - Don't Let the Sunlight Fool Ya (2022)