Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Snow


Well it's December and we've had the worst snow since I moved here. However could be worse , Scotland have it really bad. Though God knows what will happen when the thaw sets in!!. Worcester's Victorian Christmas Fair didnt seem to suffer too much , though it was very cold.

Still we shall see what the rest of the week brings!!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Sony Capitulation


This post really came about because Mojo carries advertisements for the Brennan Jukebox system , which enables you to have "all your CDs that you never play" in a single box that can be held in one hand , so really it's a sophisticates MP3 hard disc player m, excelpt with graphic or video capability. The Brennan website is here and I thinks it's a worthy but flawed system falling between the stools of convenience and minimalism. The photography and the site are certainly both enticing.


I decided to track the box down , but all Amazon gave me were Sony MP3 (I assume) jukeboxes . The thing that then struck is that most Sony Music Players these days have an iPod dock . iPod is Apple not Sony and it's proprietary (ie not standard). In fact the iPod dock is becoming ubiquitous , with televisions , CD players , cars all having a slot for the damn things. So have Sony given in and have Apple won? It sure looks that way!!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Micro De-Socialising


It seems I've been neglecting the blog of late . Whether this is pure laziness or something else , I'm not sure.

One of the possible reasons is that I can post opinions and links on Facebook and get the things noticed there . though the blog does give me more flexibility.

A worrying (or maybe not) development is the proliferation of personal tracking methods that Apple and Facebook between them have created . It's ironic that people were up in arms about id Cards and invasion of personal privacy under the last (and probably this) government, by use of CCTV and electronic snooping methods , yet are happy to let Facebook / Apple track and publish their every move. If the government really want to keep tabs on people give them an iPhone and a Facebook account and thats the problem solved!!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Oswaldkirk 2010

Amazingly nothing has recently caught my eye , but have used Picassa to keep abreast of holiday photos such as the baleful cat to the right. See the full gallery here

Friday, 17 September 2010

Can You Believe They Put A Man On The Moon?



Always regarded myself as a knowledgeable Pink Floyd fan so was surpised when my friend Mark Johnson asked me if I had a copy of "Moonhead" by them . I assumed it was a bootleg or something but was a commissioned piece for a 1969 broadcast of Omnibus on the BBC. The piece is reminiscent of stuff like "Set The Contols For The Heart Of The Sun" and "Careful With That Axe Eugene" driven by a descending Roger Waters bass riff.

It is amazing how the net allows us access to so much material we thought was lost forever , or in this case we didnt even know it existed!!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Church of Mobile

Walked on to an industrial estate the other day and was greeted by the sight on the right. If JG Ballard were still alive this would be the new religion. The cross , totem , centre of worship replaced by the mobile phone mast , which is taller than a lot of church steeples.

Theres even places to sit so its an open air church of sorts , and how many people do you know who dont have a mobile phone? Theres far more mobile phone users than attend any regulare religious ceremony. And their mobile often dictateds their lifestyle.

Itn the early nineties on mobile phone executive was expecting to maybe hit 20% mobile phone ownership. Today the figure is approximately 130%!! The mobile is ubiquitous.

It started out with voice , with text as an , extra which progressed to data and pictures , and now there fiull blown interenet access and most handsets are fully fledged personal computers.

Telecommunications is an industry than is almost universally beneficial , seldom causing any problems , apart from maybe the siting of some of their masts, but it has musch vaster benefits than bad side effects.

Anyway just people watch and see if your can spot the person who doesnt have a mobile phone!!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Life Isn't Random


The LG Chocolate isa fine enough phone , as a phone . It looks cool , slim and black ,but it also has a music player , and here's the rub: It takes 3 minutes to load the music library !!! I only have 4 Gb of music on the phone and it takes three minutes to load. The phone purportedly takes a 32 Gb card . God knows whatthe reponse would be like with that musch storage.

Once the library is loaded , assuming it doesnt decide to close down the music player, songs are arranged in alphabetical order . Chooses an album and they're in alphabetical order, create your own playlist - it automatically sorts them . What happened to the track numbers and album running orders? Who do they think they are ? Apple?

Need less to to same I'm none too happy with this "feature" . The track number is the first MP3 tag , and this software completely ignores them . The point of playlists is to create and number of songs that play in YOUR order , not alphabetical. No doubt they'll have so eBook software that'll automatically arrange the words in the book in alphabetical order for ease of reading. Unbelievable!!!!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Indian Jo Knows


It's amazing the way the smart phones have taken off . Apple lead the way with their iPhone but they are being run to the wire with the Google / Android based competitors. There are thousands of apps available , from the ordinary spirit level and compass , to the banal "gaydar" apps , to the useful stuff like banking and share dealing - hell you can even make phone calls on some of them. You can easily customise your phone with ringtones and wallpapers and cases , and the Indianjo site has some great free wallpapers for the iPhone. The site is here:

Sure it wont be long before one has a teleport function.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Great Day - A Summertyne Gospel Addendum

Since Friday night's fantastic concert , I m quite amazed and the number of songs from the set that keep running through my head . Different ones appear each day , whethere it's "Great Day" or "Daddy Sang Bass" , I'm amazed that these songs are sticking with me.

I knew a few of the songs in other incarnations but the choir sessions have left a lasting impression, due in no small part to the excellent musical education (from the latin educo possibly which means "I Lead") given to us bt Sharon Durant , well supported by the proper choir members in the group.

The image to the left is the choir onstage having a ball with Solomon Burke

Anither great thing that happened is I've recieved emails from other choir members who enjoyed similar experiences to mine. The social contact is well worth the effort.

Will I do it again? Only time will tell , but I tend to keep doing things I enjoy , and this is something I really did enjoy.

Carter Gone

Today the "Get Carter" car park in Gateshead was demolished . An eyesore from the day it was built, to house cars that the residents of Gateshead didnt own , so it became a police parking lot for stolen cars - so no change of emphasis there.

Amazingly I took a photo of it last week (see right) , unaware of the impending demolition , thinking how incongrous it looked squatting above the Sage and the Millenium Bridge.

So now the only way to see it is to buy yourself a copy of Get Carter (see below) , the Michael Caine one of course , not the Sylvester Stallone aberation.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Finally On Stage at The Sage

This saga would be ideal for an episode of Sesame Street , dominated by the letter "S" , Summertyne , Solomon Burke , Sharon Durant the choir leader, The Sage, and the lovely Sally Kat who organised and also sang in the choir as well as letting me tag along.

The final rehearsal was on Thursday , and again Sharon tooks us through the warm up , and the songs , cueing the four or five parts for each song and getting everyone to sing and sound absolutely heavenly . The members of the choir were extremely professional and able , and unfortunately I didnt get anyones name , but who knows . Luckily I was fairly close to a pleasant bearded chap called Gary who really could sing , so tried to follow what he did.

In the last rehearsal the choirs had organised a presentation of some beautiful flowers for Sharon and Sally for all the amazing effort that had gone into this venture.

Finally we made the stage , no dressing rooms for us , just waiting in the corridor waiting to come on. As always with these events , you practice and work for weeks and as you step out , even as a group of 80-90 strong the nerves still get you , and then suddenly it's over - half an hour goes by in a second. Sharon metaphorically held our hands and guided us through the set from "Daddy Sang Bass" to the closer "Great Day" , each bringing amazing applause from a packed Hall One at the Sage. Here's a tour of Hall One if you've never been there.

Afetr that it was sit back and enjoy the superb "Phantom Limb" and country . soul , blues band with a stunnig lead singer more that ably backed by a bunch of superb musicians. Below is a video from them on Balcony TV.






Then finally , the headliner , Solomon Burke with a band featuring his youngest daughter Candy as band leader - who got here own spot when she sang Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive", and his 37th grand daughter (forgot her name) who stunned us with a cracking rendition of Dorothey Moore's "Misty Blue".

Solomon held the crowd in the palm of his hand from start to finish , resplendent in his sparkly suit on his majestic throne , still the true king of "Rock and Soul" . Stand outs for me were "Nashville" and the Atlantic medley , but the growd were jumping , clapping , dancing , problem being after clapping through a number your hands are too sore to applaud!!

Finally the choir were invited on stage to back Solomon on "None of us are Free"and we stayed on to back him on a rock and roll medley includin "Proud Mary" , Lucille" , Tutti Frutti" and a few others.

The concert closed with "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love" which ran in to "The Saints".

Some other nice touches to the night is that Solomon gave Sharon the microphone during "None of Us Are Free" and all the girls I went with got a rose from Solomon. One of the greatest nights for a long long time and I wont be forgetting it. If you get the chance go and see this man.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

I'll Fly Away - Summertyne Gospel Choir Penultimate Rehearsal


This was the first rehearsal at the Sage (pictured above in the Thursday Evening Sunshine) , but had to cut this short due to a pre arranged appointment with the Legendary Shack Shakers at The Cluny across the river. The first time I met , ever so briefly Sally Kat , one of the driving forces behind this.

Tonight Sharon took us through the loosening up excercises , before going into "I'll Fly Away" , which sounds a very slight , but pleasant piece. The Men's part sounds incredibly simple , no words , providing a rhythm singing "dum , dum , dum" in tune and time - should be a doddle . But it's one of the most difficult things I've had to do with the choir , just because it's physically difficult to keep it up , so to speak . But it still came out sounding gorgeous.

Secondly we did "Great Day" with the welcome map reference of having some words to sing and remember !! At the end of this had to take my leave and cross the Tyne to check out the Shack Shakers who provided a completely antithetic (is that a word - it is now) end to the night.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Bring A Little Water, Sylvie - Summertyne Gospel Choir 3rd Rehearsal

This is the third rehearsal I've attended and still out of my depth but managing to fit in , I hope. This time we were at the Durant Hall (no not Sharon's house) Unitarian Church in Newcastle and this was a five hour run (10-4 with lunch break). The picture on the right is Sharon in the pulpit after several of the many choir members were unable to see her. She cut a great figure leading the choir from "on high" so to speak , fairly appropriate given the nature of most of the music we are performing!!

One of the songs I'd loved from the list we were doing is Leadbelly's "Bring A Little Water Silvie" , Sharon' arrangement here , it goes with saying is gorgeous , so had to track down the original. which is here accompanying this video!!:




One of my problems is getting the versions of songs out of my head that I know. "Daddy Sang Bass" I hear Johnny Cash , "The Circle Wont Be Broken" , I hear as "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" which I first heard by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

"I'll Fly Away" was featured in the Coen Brothers retelling of Homer's Odyssey as a jailbrak during the thrities depression in the deep south, as was "Down To The River To Pray" used to stunning effect in the Redemption Sequence. Amazingly the whole of the sequence vcan be watched here - "Come on In Boys, The Water is Fine!":






Friday, 9 July 2010

If One Of Us Is Chained....

Last night was my second rehearsal with the Summer Gospel Choir in preparation for the gig supporting Solomon Burke at the Sage as part of the Summertyne Festival. Agin Sharon Durant showed incredible , leadership , patience and creativity in getting the best out of the choir based around the Customs House singers. The standards vary from my own inept attempts (though not so bad that they want rid .... yet), to the absolutely heavenly probably peaking with Sharon's almost angelic tones which pave the way for everyone else !!!

Last night we ran through the complex arrangement of "Daddy Sang Bass / Will The Circle Not Be Broken" , which still confuses me as I keep thinking of "Will The Circle Be Unbroken", but that's just me.

Then we tackled Solomon's "Not Of Us Are Free" , and I got slightly worried when I thought I might be singled out as a potential expert on the song !! But got through without a hitch.

We finished up with "I'll Fly Away" which our lot ended up with the percussive vocal part which is very difficult to execute .

There's three more rehearsals before the big night . sofingers crossed I'll make through to the final concert.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Your Own Inflatable Pub!!


In work today , my mate Jon pointed out this amazing idea , your own inflatable pub? How mad is that. Princes start at a mere four grand for a shed sized one to twenty eight grand for the luxury Hogshead. Drinkstuff are pushing this leisure addition that will enhance and field or unused piece of garden that you have. The website is here.

Of thats not the only thing they have on the site , but if anyone has one of these you have to let us know.

The features of this pub include:

• Can be erected in less than 10 minutes by 4 adults
• Can be installed on any flat surface
• Features 2 fire places
• Internal artwork includes dart board

I mean an inflateable pub with a dart board and fireplaces - What can you say to that?

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Celebrate Indepenence With Tea, Cookies and Ice Cream

After the success of National Record Shop Day , RPM in Newcastle decided to throw a free mini festival to celebrate Independence Day with setd from several independent bands . The advertising on the right was brilliant - some chalk instruction on Grey Strret at the entrance to High Bridge!! Being to the total wimp that I am , I only clocked the first four bands , but the standard was excellent and the setting sublime despite the weather changing from one moment to the next alternating between rain and sunshine with a bit of rain.

I must apologise that I dont know the names of any of the RPM staff but they are a great lot and very helpful . They provided tea and cookies to anyone who wanted , the cookies freshly baked by a lovely young RPM girly who was also doing the raffle. I think her talants expand much further than what she was doing today - but her cookies are to die for!! The tea and cookies set up is to the left.





Also one of the guys came out dispensing ice cream in wafers during the sets , how good is that !! Amazing how many people declined but I had two , though ended up with sticky fingers as a result of the ice cream melting!!






The Running Order was as below. Click on the names to hit the myspace page and hear what you missed:

In the same universe as Mumford and Sons , melodic and imaginate use of percussion and mandolin , well worth going to see if you can catch them . The weather suited them and as all the band were great crowd plaeasurs and good to talk to after the gig.





Impressed me as the first band I'd seen sporting a cornet (woodwind not ice cream) sing Roxy Music on the Old Grey Whistle Test around 1971. Reminded bme a bit of Elbow , songs maybe a bit downbeat , but were self deprecating and had some good banter . Would recommend them , and again good company after the gig.



This excellently named upbeat combo were fromted by a guy with a most amazing moustache , with a vaguely rockabilly feel . Visually great and got the crowd going , didnt get a chance to chat , as it was almost home time for me.






The last band I heard , and the loudest on the day . New order type feel for this three piece.
Sorry didnt get to see these.

All in all an excellent day , looking forward to the next one

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Kites


Today attended the International Friendship Festival / Wahington Kite Festival with some great friends. I've never been able to fly a kite so to see the sort of skills on display here today was jaw dropping. There were things that should just be impossible , but people were doing it. Apparently its all in the preparation !!. Well I could probably do a decent impression of a Kamikaze Kite!! Here's their website that in true local authority style manages to give no directions on how to get there (check these maps of Sunderland) but there is a good picture of a kite !!

Anyway took some video , and despite the fact that my camera uses Apple's idiot MOV format that Microsoft Movie Maker imports but then outputs a nice black screen from , I've put together some footage of the absolutely amazing stuff we saw today . Soundtrack is "Kites" by Simon Dupree and The Big Sound (who later became Gentle Giant) and can be downloaded here. Enjoy...


Friday, 2 July 2010

None of Us Are Free....

But I come quite cheaply.....

Yesterday I signed up for The Gospel Choir , who will be on the same stage as the King of Rock and Soul , Solomon Burke. While I knew of Solomon Burke he only burst into my musical sphere when he released the album "Don't Give Up On Me" which contains the excellent "None of Us Are Free". This was sceduled in for the Gospel Choir to perform , But Mr Burke wishes to sing the song himself with the Gospel Choir, this is beyond my wildest expectations. Here's him in 2003 on Top of The Pops with Steve Wright getting the description correct for once:



Heres a link to Emusic that will allow you to download the 2002 album with a free trial.

Anyway I 've joined up with the Gospel Choir half way through rehearsal , and choir consists of outsiders like me, a core of the Custom House house choir , and various memebers of other choirs including a student called Lauren who guessed I was going there as she noticed me dropping my sheet music as I dozed on the Metro !! I was gonna get a taxi but she guided me straight there and told me where to sit , with the half a dozen men , among the multitude of ladies!!

The Choir is led by Sharon Durant , who's voice is the purest I've heard since Joan Baez and that's saying saying something . Her choir website is here , which gives details of what's happening as well as link to "Mouthful" , the accapella group that she is a member of.

Sharon's voice alone deserve's a page article , but she is leading this thing, arranging all the parts for all the different parts of the choir , singing those parts out for the groups to sing , and then getting everyone to sing their parts and bring them together to make a harmonious whole. The work , skill , talent , and enthusiasm of this lady is a wonder to behold .

Last night we worked though "Down To The River To Pray" and "Daddy Sang Bass / Will The Circle" . I started with sheet music and lyric sheets , but Sharon is so good that she had me ditching the paper and following her, and I'm not that hot on the old remembering front!! The music Sharon has lined up consists of a wide ranging spread of Old Time Americana featuring arrangements of traditional material as as Leadbelly and Carl Perkins songs.

Anyway this is Day One from me , working towards the night on the 23rd of July which we join the bill with Mr Burke. When I left I needed to get to North Shields and missed the ferry by two minutes resulting in a half hour wait in a deserted Ferry Terminal , but saw some amazing cloud formations , so maybe even that was worth it...


If you fancy the concert , there's a link to a two for one ticket offer here.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Festivals , Guitars, Opportunities and Sun






This has been quite an amazing week for me, while there's no major live upheavals , lots of things seem to be going well and opportunities popping up in the most unexpected areas. One of these is the opportunity to perform on the same bill as Solomon Burke at the Summertyne Festival in the Sage Gateshead as part of a country gospel choir . At first the fifty pound price tag put me off, being a total cheapskate , but I assume you'll get to watch the great man as well which ids worth the price on its own. Added to that you'll be learning to sing as part of a choir and this begins to look a bit of a bargain . Theres full information here.

KING SOLOMON





Also I'm still pondering the purchase of a pink acoustic guitar from Windows in Newcastle. While that may not be the one I get , I will buy one this week despite the fact I have an adequate collection of electrics and keyboards!! One can never have too many things to make noise with






THREE LIONS




As well as that , we have the Mouth of Tyne Free Festival on Sunday 11th of June. The same day as the World Cup Final . The headliners are the Lightning Seeds !! . Imagine , and I will allow myself a little hope , if England make the final . Broudie and fininsh with "Three Lions" , tey show the Final on Big Screens in the Priory , England Win , and the broudie comes back on for another round of "Three Lions" to finish the night !! I don't think it will happen but we can all dream ... and if you put in the effort dreams can come true!!!



Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Bricking It - Logs From Recycled Newspapers





Bought a new lawn mower and one of these things for making logs from old newspapers. Apparently the logs take about three months before they are ready to use , and a weekends papers (four in our house) is enough for ten of the logs or bricks.


Making them is fairly simple but I need to wait three months to see if they are a success.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

What Goes Around Comes Around (Literally)

A guy called Martin Skelly has come up with this device device that enables you to play your MP3 Playlists like a vinyl record !! I checked the date , It's June 13th not April 1st so it may be true. Apparently you load your playlist onto the disc , and the put the disc on the player , put the needle on the disc and away you go. I believe each track has it's own colour so you know how long you have to go !! What information there is is on the guy's web site here.




While I'm impressed with the concept , it does seem a bit pointless , though will be a talking point at parties. The whole point of MP3 is convenience , and this device jst seems to make it more inconvenient to play your MP3s , but it a very stylish way. I personally won't be buying one but reckon it will sit nicely next to that iPad you've ordered!! You can get your iPad from Orange here:



The thing about this , if Apple were marketing it , then it would sell by the lorry load , let's face it , if you can make a success of the iPad and iShuffle you can sell sand to Arabs and ice to Inuit!!

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Seven Days In North Wales

Just back from an excellent holiday in North Wales that way exceeded all expectations.

On the way down we stopped for lunch at a pub called The Black Swan in Ravenstonedale. The menu was not extensive, but everything on it looked absolutely gorgeous and we sampled the Lentil based Shepherd's Pie and Fish Pie . The service and staff were really friendly , and it was so good that we stopped there on the way back , and made the mistake of having starters this time , which just meant we couldnt finish the main course , full marks each time. Their website with all relevant information is here.


We arrived at the cottage , The Old Threshing Barn at Babell , near Holywell , to discover a superbly fitted place , with lots of room , and great sun deck and sun room . The hook and chain and low beams in the bedrooms are slightly disturbing , but this definitely rates as one of the best places we've ever stayed. You can check out the details here




Though most of the holiday was for relaxation , we had some excellent days out in:

  • Chester , where we took a boat ride on the Dee , discovered and excellent pub called The Brewery Tap and a great rock T-Shirt shop called Sohos staffed by two totally great "rock" guys and gals. I ended up buying 5 T Sirts there. The website is here.
  • Conway , which had great views , a superb castle and some excellent cafes, shops and eateries , and the smallest house in the world!!
  • Bodnant Gardens , a National Trust site which is well worth a visit. Check it out here.
  • Pictures from the holiday can be found here.
One amazing thing was that I didnt come across a single record shop during the week , which is a bit disturbing. I wouldn't like Tesco as my only source of music.
All in all a major success and we'll be going back again.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

A Bad Week

I assume this week finishes today , Saturday. It's been a bad week. The Tories get in , but don't get enough seats to form a government. This means that Proportional Representation rears it's head as that's the price the Lib Dems will want for a coalition. The BNP polled almost 2% of the national vote , under proprtional repesentation that would translate into about 12 Parliamentary seats , would it be worth it?

Oh , and to cap the week off , Leeds got promotion. Remember this is a club that refuses to disclose who owns it and has been through god knows how many administrations. Then again with Ken Bates involved what can you expect. Still maybe watching the video below of "The Damned United" will make things better:



Though next week things start looking up with gigs by Alabama 3 :



And then the most expensive tribute band in the world, The Australian Pink Floyd Show , worthe every penny and they have a giant inflatable Pink Kangaroo!!



Friday, 7 May 2010

A Permed Mullet?

One of the things about having an interest in music is that sometimes you buy things then don't have a chance to listen to or watch what you've bought. The Hightone Records Story is one such example , which I picked up for under a tenner from Amazon Marketplace from a recommended price of £47!!.


Anyway last night with a friend and a few bottles of fizz and take away pizza we started watching the DVD. This is generally excellent , leaning towards country , but the opening track "My Baby Thinks She's French" by Joe Ely , someone well respected in music circles , features a cobination I'd never in my worst nightmares considered could exist - a permed mullet !!!
Here's a picture from the video.

Looks Like A Hung Parliament

Which is fine as long as I can pull the trapdoor lever.

The thing is , we're still going to have a government and New Labour is almost indistinguishable from the Tories. Also I wouldnt trust any politician with going for the tea unless I know them or it's Boris Johnson or Tony Benn.

The hung Parliament will resurrect the debate over proportional representation , but , flawed though it is , first past the post does keep out extremists like the BNP . Imagine if we gone two BNP members , the next election that may encourage more people to vote for them. No way Proportional Representation.

It seemes that loads of people have not been allowed to vote . My local Polling station was open for fifteen hours and I was waiting for a local delivery . At 12 it hadn't turned up so I went and voted. I'm just wondering why people went to polling station without much time to spare, but this could mean that resuklts may be challenged , so will there be by-elections there/

Because I've voted I can express my disappointment and the Tories being the largest party and potentially forming the next government. I'll bet 95% of the electorate don't have a clue about their policies and only voted Tory because David Cameron is not as ugly as Gordon Brown!!

If you look at all election results since the sixties that's been the case. So all labour need to do is replace Gordon Brown with , say , Daniel Craig or Sean Connery. If you don't believe me, these are the results since 1970:

  • 1970 & 1974 Ted Heath (Tory) beat Harold Wilson (Labour)
  • 1974 (Oct) Harold Wilson (Labour) beat Ted Heath (Tory)
    Odd one out , maybe a hangover when the populace thought about who they were voting for
  • 1979 Margaret Thatcher (Tory) beat Jim Callaghan (Labour)
  • 1983 Margaret Thatcher (Tory) beat Michael Foot (Labour)
  • 1987 Margaret Thatcher (Tory) beat Neil Kinnock (Labour)
  • 1992 John Major (Tory) beat Neil Kinnock (Labour)
  • 1997 Tony Blair (Labour) beat John Major (Tory)
  • 2001 Tony Blair (Labour) beat William Hague (Tory)
  • 2005 Tony Blair (Labour) beat Michael Howard (Tory)
  • 2010 David Cameron (Tory) beat Gordon Brown (Labour)
So to win the next election Labour need to replace Gordon Brown with someone more photogenic than David Cameron . Job Done.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

National Record Shop Day 2010

National Record Shop Day 2010 seems to have been a resounding success this year. Previous years have been damp squibs but this year was a major success , with a lot of limited edition vinyl editions only available on the day featuring artists as disparate as the Rolling Sones and Eliza Doolittle.


I visited Reflex and RPM in Newcastle purchasing the new Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and AC/DC offerings , but both shops were packed , RMP staging bands near the Old George. Looking forward to next years event , not sure if HMV benefitted from it!!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Brookerised and Mugged





I thought I had it sussed. I could read Charlie Brooker on the train without breaking into a guffaw every five minutes. Reading "Dawn of The Dumb" on the way back to Newcastle from Darlington page 66 caused me to laugh out loud. This was made bad as I was sitting next to a po-faced iPod wearing student who made Morrisey look like Jerry Sadowitz (I think that's how you spell it).

That was bad enough but I get home to find that you have to renew the photo on your driving license every ten years , and for this privelege I have top pay £20. What with that and my Passport renewal coming up I'm going to be lucky if I can afford to eat at this rate.

Thank god there's an election coming up. Though let's face it nothing will change . As many people have stated "No Matter Who YOu Vote For, The Government Always Gets In!".


Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Tesco World Domination A Possibility




Usually a new supermarket branch is well publicised, such as the Tesco Extra that appeared as part of the new Eldon Square redevelopment in Newcastle. This was fine although there are major Tescos in Gateshead and Kingston Park and well as Tesco Extras in Jestmond and on the Westgate Road.

Imagine my surprise when walking along Percy Street yesterday , when I noticed a new cash machine , and thought , ah that's useful. However this turned to major shock when I saw that it was attatched to a new Tesco Extra that had appeared in place of the Sony Shop!!

So now we have two Tesco Extras and a Sainsbury's Local in the centre of Newcastle .



This getting a little too close to the Demolition Man Taco Bell scenario or the the Time Trumpet scenario spoofed here:


Sunday, 4 April 2010

Re Illumination and Ejection

Just returned from holiday and one of the many pieces of mail was a certificate for my participation in the Illuminating Hadrian's Wall project that took place on March 13th of this year. Hopefully they'll get a DVD of the event put together soon.








On a completely separate tack , I was reading this months Mojo and they have a retrospective review of Robert Calvert's "Captain Lockheed and The Starfighters" which fails to mention the rather excellent lead single "Ejection" . I particularly remember this as I was in the record shop and was stunned by the jet noise that panned across the place before hitting the excellent three chord metal anthem which I immediately bought . A superb record that should be in everyone's collection. It's youtubed below:


Ghosts Of Exeter St Davids


During our holiday we took a friend's advice to visit Totnes by train , departing from Exeter St Davids. The station , while pleasant enough , seemed to have no stand out features that we could discern , though we did notice three or four crows that wandered around the platforms as though the owned the place.






According to the the station staff , the crows never leave and never fly and are in fact the souls of departed steam engine drivers . Definitely an interesting anecdote about the place!!

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Devon - Record Shop Heaven?


Just back from Devon and a most excellent place it is too. Discovered several things , but the most surprising was the number of thriving record shops there were . Everywhere record shops seem to be dying out (check out Graham Jones' Last Shop Standing) , but in Devon they're on the up in a big way. I'm sure I passed obne in Crediton , a small village outside of Exeter , but unsure of that.

In Exeter I found Martian Records which was shut , but it was Good Friday but here's a google link.

Rooster records was well and truly open , and stuffed with vinyly , CDs and a hell of a lot of interesting stuff. The guy there reckoned business had never been so good . I helped by buying a King Crimson CD/DVD set , the reissue of Horslips' Book of Invasions , a couple of cheapies and "My Baby Loves Pop Music" by local band "A Fine Day For Sailing". Not sure if Rooster have a web site but their address is 98 Fore Street , Exeter and phone number is 01392 272009. A joy to visit. This website here is them I reckon.

Totnes was apparently descended on by hippies in the sixties and they stayed. The only concessions to globalisation are a WH Smiths and a Superdrug , as well as a bank or two and Post Office. The main shopping area of Totnes is a single, traffic unfriendly street , Fore Street I think, , it's really best to go on foot. Anyway this street boasts not one but TWO superb record shops!!



The first , a "Simon Cowell" Free zone was staffed by a young lass who'd told us of her pirate themed twenty first party. Unusually the shop contained virtually no compilations bar the odd Trojan Box Set. Their web site doesnt seem to work , but the shop does! Anyway I left with Matching Mole's BBC Sessions and a 2004 CD/DVD of the New York Dolls at the Royal Festival Hall.

Then there was The Drift run by an affable Irish guy who got involved with a film about the Undertones manager and reckons the reason that most record shops are going bust is because they dont talk to customers . Given my experiences in Devon and Newcastle I reckon he has a point. I left with the ew albums by Joanna Newsome and Lightspeed Champion. Their website is here.

As I write this there are NO independent record shops in York.

April 17th is National Record Shop Day.

There's a list of participating shops on the official National Record Store Day site here

If you have a local independent record shop make your presence felt. Go in and buy something!!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Glastonbury Was Free


Just discovered the original Glastonbury gig featuring Grateful Dead , Marc Bolan , David Bowie and lots of others is available on Emusic  which unfortunately fell from grace but you can download it here. No 4x4s , id bracelets , lottery to allow you to mortgage yourself for the ticket so you can say you've been to "Glasto" then.

The album is interesting because it contains some very long improvised jams which by their nature are not available elsewhere. There have been various versions of the hard copy album over the years but if you can't track it down this download will more than suffice.


Tuesday, 16 March 2010

iPod or Handbag?





Just been thinking, an iPod (and virtually any Apple product) is , for a woman the same as a new handbag.

Think about it, woman buys a new handbag, she then has to buy:
  • New shoes to go with the handbag
  • Dress or skirt to go with the shoes
  • Blouse or top to go with frock
  • Coat to go with the outfit
  • Earings and other peripheral jewelery to finish it off
  • But the list can be endless
A friend of mine bought an iPod recently and then had to purchase:
  • A PC to organise the itunes stuff
  • Broadband to connect the internet
  • Another friend upgraded his iPod and found he had to upgrade his dock even though all the connections were the same!!
  • Then there's the radio add ons that cost a fortune - most other players have radios built in!
  • But the list can be endless




Saturday, 13 March 2010

Burnt Hands and Gloves


Well I was right about the burnin' (see previous post).

The Illumination of the Wall went off incredibly well with around 1100 volunteers lighting the way from Segedunum in the east to Carlsile in the west. The trail of light was tracked by a helicopter of indeterminate colour and , apparently NASA. I was involved as an illuminator with Cell4 , led by Andy who'd appeared on teh Country File rehearsal preview. I was lucky in the group I got who were all extremely sociable and technically more than competent in getting the beacon going. Neil and Alison did the beacon while Jay , Julie and Billy were the other torch bearers , the dreadlocked Jay giving us an impromptu juggling display with the (unlit) torches!!




I got one of the torches , which burned rather more enthusiastically than originally estimated , with the flames and wax almost catching fire to my gloves resulting in some slight skin singeing. The torch at this point was discarded and doused using half a bottle of coke. A compilation of pictures and video from today can be seen below soundtracked by "Shining Light" by Ash, available for download here.






One phenomenon that we did observe was the formation of frost on the gas bottles as the day got colder and the cylinders emptied. We were told of it but it was still fascinating to see.

Here's my online photo album of the day.

And finally a bit of start to finish video taken from the helicopter:

Illuminating Hadrian's Wall from IHW on Vimeo.

There'll Be Burnin' And Lootin' Tonight





Today's the day Hadrian's Wall get's lit up. The web site is here. I've been assigned to the Elswick area of Newcastle. Ther's a pleasant area in the Fylde called Elswick that is the home of Bond's Ice Cream , the best Ice Cream in the world and they have a web site.

Newcastle's Elswick is a very different kettle of fish and hopefully NASA can distinguish the wall beacons from the car fires you're more likely to encounter in the area. It's not really that bad , but it's not a place you'ld go for a holiday!!




Anyway it's an excuse to include Bob Marley playing the afformentioned piece!!


Friday, 12 March 2010

Is It i?






Is it just me? It seems Apple and their cohorts think that by sticking an iPod dock and i- infront of the name you have a cool product. This is from a company that couldn't even come up with an original name (The Beatles Apple Corps was well established when Jobs & co came along) , and nicked their orginal GUI computer interface ideas from Xerox!

Take the iPig and iPanda , both the sort of thing you'd find in a cheap electronics shop and normally wouldnt give a second glance to , but because you can connect your i-thing to it then you'll happily shell out £50 or so to be ripped off, It'll probably last as long as a Christmas Turkey , but and least you can eat the turkey.

And another thing , why is everyone so impressed that the shuffle facilty can chuck up some music they like every now and then. You put the music in there , it just has an algorithm that will do that every so often . It's not alchemy!!

I'm just wondering how long nefore we get the iPhone Shuffle with no screen that rings random numbers , after all that was their philosophy with music , "Life Is Random" - Right On!!

What else could we have?

  • i-wedge Use your iPhone to steady that dodgy restuarant table , or keep the door open!
  • i-tile Use it as a stylish kitchen or bathroom tile
  • i-plectrum Use it as an oversized plectrum to play some serious rock riffs
  • i-hi Insert it in your shoes to give you added height
  • i-pod Case for small green vegetables - oh sorry that's been taken
The list is endless but you saw it here first

Enjoy Alan Bennet





Last night I saw my first Alan Bennett play at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle. While being well aware of his work from the Cambridge Footlights, Secret Policeman's Ball and Talking Heads but this was my first live experieance and very good it was too , living up to it's name.

Freaturing a 13 strong cast including Alison Steadman and David Troughton , the play , set in 1980 leads addressed lot's of social issues that affect our ageing population , with a healthy dose of transvestism, swearing, prostitution , sex and humour thrown in.

I did wonder at the theatre wide guffaws every time David Troughton used the word "Fuck" or one of it's derivatives. It was very funny and great to see it taken in the spirit intended rather than in snooty nosed silence.

Hopefully thsi will follow the success of the History Boys which hit the big screen and is still touring. Well worth seeing.



Still Screen Burning






I'm still reading Charlie Brooker's "Screen Burn" , but hitting the home straight, and it's still causing me to laugh out loud on the train. Yesterday , a rather nice lady was having problems fitting her breakfast on one of the miniscule drop down shelves, resulting in much scrabbling about onthe floor for dropped biscuits and the like.

I was already reading and sniggering at whatever I was saying , and thought this could be taken in the wrong way. I then explained why i was acting like the proverbial loony on the bus (or on this case train) and it turned out she was also a big Charlie Brooker fan , so managed to come out of the situation intact.

The reason "Screen Burn" manages to be consistently funny is that it's a series of vitriolic fortnightly observations on the state of television in this new millenium and effectively documents the rise of "Reality" TV and it's despicable spin offs.

Anyway here's where it started , Charlie Brooker's TV Goes Home Web Site here.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

The Ultimate "I Don't Give A Damn" Gift





Just been thinking and Apple iTunes vouchers must be the ultimate "I Don't Give A Damn or Care About You Gift". Think about it. The recipient can hand over your money for something taht doesnt physically exist , in a proprietary format , only available from iTunes and only playable on iPods because of the proprietary format. You may think that giving nothing is worse, but that could be because you've forgotten , or that's what your potential recipient may think. An iTunes Voucher shows you have thought about giving them the most limited form of gift on the market

Added to that , the youtube links have stopped working but I think that's just Firefox , unusual because the blog and youtube are part of Google , so you might not seeCharlie Brooker's iPad review!! Still if you must buy itunes vouchers follow the links dotted about the page and I'll happily pocket the rewards of your sheepish stupidity!!





Thursday, 4 March 2010

Roman Wall Blues ... And Lots Of Other Colours

On March the 13th , 2010 , I will be one of a thousand points of light illuminating Hadrian's Wall from Segedunum in the East to Carlisle in the West. The website for the project "Illuminating Hadrian's Wall" is here. Described as a "line of light from coast to coast", this is going to involve lot's of people playing with fire , once it goes dark to illuminate what is probably the largest pre 1066 man made construction in the British Isles.

Needless to same I'll be packing my camera and following up this post with some decent phoptographs and what actually happened on the day!

Below is a video, mainly featuring Vindolanda, soundtracked by Alex Harvey singing the only song I know about the wall, "Roman Wall Blues" an adaptation of a WH Auden poem. You can get the song here on his final album "Soldier On The Wall".



Roman Wall Blues
by
WH Auden


Over the heather the wet wind blows,
I've lice in my tunic and a cold in my nose.

The rain comes pattering out of the sky,
I'm a Wall soldier, I don't know why.

The mist creeps over the hard grey stone,
My girl's in Tungria; I sleep alone.

Aulus goes hanging around her place,
I don't like his manners, I don't like his face.

Piso's a Christian, he worships a fish;
There'd be no kissing if he had his wish.

She gave me a ring but I diced it away;
I want my girl and I want my pay.

When I'm a veteran with only one eye
I shall do nothing but look at the sky.


Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Whitby and La Rosa Have Their Knockers!

Just back from a long weekend in Whitby, staying at the most excellent La Rosa in the "Sacre Couer" room . All the rooms in La Rosa have their own distinctive knockers . Such as the Horseshoe / Horses Head for Saloon.







I don't know if this is normal , but we noticed that Whitby seemed to have a vast selection of knockers on display (the door type) which echoes the selection in La Rosa. La Rosa itself has a distictive ship knocker, a theme repeated throughout Whitby , not surprising given it's nautical history.

While we were there discovered two excellent pubs , The Elsinore (excellent pickled eggs apparently) and The Broad.