Friday, 13 October 2017

One Song

This was to be about how sometimes an album is worth buying just for one song. Today I listened to that album which opens with a turgid plodding rocker called "Dr Music"and then next is the song that that made me buy the album.

The song was the first collaboration between Blue Oyster Cult and science fiction writer Michael Moorcock based on his book "The Winds of Limbo". The song is "The Great Sun Jester" and is a mix of perfect dynamics, a swirling maelstrom of guitar and keyboard arpeggios and lyrics that stay true to the book. In my opinion as close to perfection as you can get.

Remember this is in the days of vinyl where skipping tracks was awkward.

But listening to the album "Mirrors" , the following track , "In Thee" is not bad and the title track is also good. "Moon Crazy" is more than acceptable and "The Vigil" and "I Am The Storm" are good but not classic. "You're Not the One (I Was Looking For)" a less vicious take on "I Am the One You Warned Me Of"from their absolute masterpiece "Imaginos", and "Lonely Teardrops" complete the album.

So really one I'm saying now is that one song can singlehandedly destroy and album. Trim "Dr Music" and you have a good album with an absolutely amazing opener. That's what I will treat you to and theis night of Friday the 13th........

..... and everything is Hunky Dory

The wind is blowing outside and it's dark outside, but it's Friday and the weekend is almost upon us. Last night I sampled the Vegan delights of Grumpy Panda a Vegan American Diner in Gateshead, possibly the only independent eaterie in the center of Gateshead. It's competition is a Nandos and the Wetherspoons pub The Tilley Stone , althe The Doll At The Black Bull also does excellent food, and that is abrilliant music venue where I was at last night watching the wonderful Liquer, a brilliant Cure tribute band (dee review here)

Anyway yesterday's album on my perambulations was David Bowie's "Hunky Dory". From when it was released, the cover of this albym put me (and may other people) off, Bowie's grainy face and yellow hair in a reclining posture, but close up just put me off.

The album is just jam packed with stunning songs, hit singles, and the only two that don't do it for me are "Eight Line Poem" and "Song For Bob Dylan" and they are just silver among the gold. The three chord attack of "Queen Bitch" which I heard played often at discos was the "B" side of "Rebel Rebel" (what a pairing)m "Quicksand"'s amazing imagery always captured, again a "B" side of "Rock and Roll Suicide". The you have "Kooks", "Changes", "Life on Mars" the list goes one, if you haven't got a copy then you should have one. The album closes with "The Bewlay Brothers" another lyrical adventure culminating in an Anthony Newley-esque descent into hel coda.

Anyway it's getting lighter outside, time to brave the weather and set off for work. Have an amazing weekend my friends. Mine started last night.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Dark Mornings

I always try to be positive, but can't get away from the relentlessness of nature, this time the fact that as summer fades it's darker and colder in the morning. The good thing is that the light usually eventually comes but it brings with it more instances of the aptly named TLA, SAD. My only worry about this is that it may affect my target to keep up my rolling three month million steps following completing the Million Step Challenge, which I have to thank Fiona for getting me into (with first the 15K challenge then pointing out the Million Step Challenge) as it has improved my diabetic situation no end, so even for that one fact it is essential that I keep doing it.

As I have said I don't do regimented stuff, but walking gives me the opportunity to dynamilcally change what I do while still benefitting from actually doing the exercise to benfit myself however slightly. The problem is if it's dark , cold , windy and raining it might get a bit difficult, although since I started this I have only had one day where I have walked less than 3K. Apparently the average person walks about 5K steps a day , so that means a lot of people do a lot less than that as I do 11-12K a day, and a friends of mine over the last year has been averaging 30K a day (my most ever is about 24K).

As I've said before I cannot recommend Pacer highly enough to track my steps, which since I installed it has not had any problems.

Anyway tonight I am going to see Nadine Shah at The Sage, am tempted by a Cure tribute (Liquer) at The Doll at The Black Bull on Thursday and am going to see Nick Helm at The Stand on Saturday courtesy of my great friend Jon Raine.

It's still dark, but time to set off for work, so will leave you with "Seven and Seven Is" by Love, a raucous slice of garage punk (maybe not what you would expect from Love) which just came on the 6Music now, and I thought I know that that song , but what the hell is it. Now I know.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Running Out - Power and Signals

 Was just thinking habout how reliant we are becoming on mobile devices and how companies are pushing us to become more reliant on mobile devices. We can use them to pay for things, watch things , communicate in a number of ways but they are reliant on two things, power and a decent signal. So you may have your phone phone and think you can use it as your bus ticket, pay for your overpriced coffee or whatever but if the battery runs out then that's you stuck. Similarly of the signal drops then you may be stuck again although some apps provide on device data.

I use my Sony Xperia XA for recording my walking and yesterday went out without it. Incidentally the Pacer software since I installed it has only possibly failed to record properly one, and that may have been my fault, so I am well impressed by it's reliability.  This was one of the few times I have returned to get hold of my phone , mainly because I wasn't sure if I'd left it in the house or actually lost it. I piced it up and the power was on 12% . By the time I got to my destination it was still going on 2% power but must have switched off soon after. I didn't have a back up power pack and although I have one power cable which I could have used to recharge it on the bus, it was in another jacket.

Sometimes a pen and paper is actually better, and although I have the Kindle app on my phone and an actual Kindle Fire they are still dependent on power and signals.

I'm not sure what the answers are to these first world problems, unless someone makes distributed power a reality. Imageine how cool it would be if power was as distributable as a radio , tv or mobile signal. We would truly be a wireless society then although even more vulnerable to losing the source of keeping us up and running.

This could possibly be even extended to replacement body parts, imagine a heart running on distributed power. but I am really flying off  into the outer reaches of science fiction here and I am no Brian Aldiss, and I was introduced to the concept of distributed power by another of my favourite authors F Paul Wilson. I think it was Legacies. one of the excellent Repairman Jack series.

Anyway it's Sunday and I need to relax , so it has to be "The Power" by Snap. Have a good day everybody.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Sounds,Pictures and Letters

I've just finished Alexei Sayle's "The Weeping Women's Hotel" and must say that the title is probably opne of the biggest McGuffins I've ever come across. This isn't a put down of the book, becouse the title is where it starts and then you har pushed back into the story of how the protagonist got there, and are soon into a completely different place. While the situation is fairly ordinary , the way that Alexei Sayle presents it keeps your attention and wanting to find what happens next and when you end up where you started it almost comes as a shock, although it shouldn't be. I am really glad I picked it up and thoroughly enjoyed it and think you will too.

I'm just listening to 6Music and have just heard that Alexei Sayle is DJing on there tomorrow afternoon, another coincidence in the tapestry of life.

I'.m now reading "David Bowie: A Life" by Dylan Jones , ex Loaded editor and a birthday present from Fiona and it's a fairly hefty volume , and I was worried I already had a copy but was getting it mixed up with the Paul Morley biography. As Jones says Bowie's departure has unleashed a tsunami of books. While it still has to really grab me there's a couple of bits that caught my attention.

When Bowie's death was announced he was covering a mens fashion event and as the news spread he said everyone was in tears. Part of me railed against this, thinking most of those people probably would even know the title of a song (Q:"What's your favourite song on the album" A:"Track 4", that answer is only acceptable for Blur's "Song 2" and Scott Walker's "Track 3" and "Track 5") , but Bowie himself was a fashion icon and everyone has a different take on everything.

In th eintroduction to the book, Jones tells how he ws talking to his dad about the book, saying how when he first saw Bowie on Top of the Pops with his orange hair and rainbow body suit, he was totally hooked. His dad's reply was a killer. "You know we only had a black and white telly". That gem made sure that I will read the book , I am expecting more.

Anyway after the number of bland albums I've chosen over the last few days, I decided to play it safe with Halm Man Half Biscuit's "Cammell Laird Social Club" which I managed to mix up with "McIntyre Tradmore and Davitt" and was rewarded with song after brilliant song which also brough a lot of smiles to my face, such as "The Referee's Alphabet" the night after the pedestrian torpor of the England match at Wembley.

Last night  I was privileged to attend my friend Sheena Revolta's "Garageland" photographic exhibititin in Arch Sixteen, with Lady Annabella looking lovely and DJing opening with the excellent "Rumble" Link Wray. I don't think Arch Sixteen has ever had so many people in (it is a lovely place just over the High Level Bridge in Gateshead) just showing the love that her fans have for Sheena's work. Most of the photos are black and white and are beautifully presented. The exhibition is on for a couple of weeks so get yourself along there and enjoy a visual feast.

So what song to choose, I am torn between a Half Man Half Biscuit song and something to celebrate "Garageland" and trying to think of someting that will merge the two, but I think "27 Yards of Dental Floss" will be just fine, have a brilliant Saturday.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Hits and Misses

I decided to listen to the three albums I have by Dave Ackles, I remembered being impressed by "American Gothic" and the song "Road To Cairo" from his eponymous first album is listed as a classic, then there's the final album "Subway To The Country".

My verdict is that "Road To Cairo" is ok and while the first and third albums don't make me want to turn the things off, some of it descends into boring bar room schmaltz, I don't think I will be revisiting them any time soon.

I then thought I'd try the Grateful Dead's  "Go To Heaven" . The opener "Alabama Getawy" is ok country rock but the album just gets blander and blander with "Saint of Circumstance" and "Easy To Love You" the only ones shouwing any signs of life but almost wiped by the awfully bland eighties production. Even the Dead have their off days, another I won't be revisiting.

Which brings me back to "American Gothic" , which , while a little earnest , is a worthwhile addition to any record collection. There are elements of Tom Waits and Billy Joel in here with orchestration recalling the music of that archetypal American Aaron Copland. It takes us through an Americal landscape that predates modern culture, with the unnerving title track which is followed by the beautiful "Loves Enough" before veering off onto another off kilter narrative "Ballad of The Ship of State" and the album continues in this vein until the run out of "Montana Song".

If you have Amazon Prime then give it a listen.

It's time for bed so I'll leave you with "Loves Enough".

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Two Still Stand

The Travelling Wilburys always struck me as  rich rock stars' indulgence, and although I do have all their records the concept grated on me and I found a lot of their songs forgettable. But there was a few geat tunes in there such as "End of The Line" and when you hear Roy Orbison's voice come in on "Handle With Care" you just wonder how the others dare sing in his presence, it's an absolute incredible monster of a voice compared to the others.

Unfortunately we lost Roy and George and yesterday amid lots of confused reporting we found that Tom Petty had gone. Six yeards older than me her went out after finished a fortieth anniversary tour still doing what he loved in a universe that some people only get the Andy Warhol fifteen minutes of fame. Tom never got old, he lived life how he enjoyed it and could have gone on  for a lot longer but it wasn't to be.

The first Tom Petty song I heard was "Anything That's Rock and Roll", a knowing re-imaginig of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" with the Heartbreakers which I bought immediately and followed up buying their eponymous first album , which also contained the Byrd's tribute "American Girl". There was a little confusion at the time because Johnny Thunder' Heartbreakers were very active at the same time though obviosly more punk than Petty.

When Tom released his first solo album, I wondered what we would get and was rewarded with the gorgeous "Free Fallin'" and so it went on. There is always a lot of new music, but I do have a few Tom Petty albums in my collection and a Tom Petty record always give you a lift on the radio. I've just realised he shares the same surname as Buddy Holly's producer, Norman Petty, I must find out if there's a connection there.

Anyway there are two Travelling Wilbury's left standing and still very active, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne, and while since "Face The Music" I haven't been overly impressed with Jeff Lynne's output (the ELO were meant as an experiment in what the Beatles would have done after "Strawberry Fields" if they had continued on that road) , but Bob Dylan's out has varied from from the brilliant ("Tempest") to bland ("Triplicate")

I was disappointed but not surpised to see HMV have a huge Tom Petty display up to capture all the real fans, but that's just business.

Anyway it's time to go to work, have a brilliant Wednesday my friends.