Thursday, 4 September 2014


Either Dollar in Teeth or Return of Django appear on just about every ska compilation ever...compiled. And they're seriously good tracks. Other than those two though I admit, my knowledge of Upsetters instrumentals was scanty.  Anyway, the other week, after twenty years of not really being that bothered I decided to check out some of their other output. I pondered which track to post and was torn between Sipreano and Tipper Special. Ska and more so dub can test even my taste for repetition, but these two though I find thoroughly satisfying, mainly on account of their slight weirdness I think, a defining attribute of the famous Lee Perry production. Regarded as a legend in this household and I know all my friends feel the same way, is he famous in the real world?

I was going to leave it on the question there, but I spoke to my brother shortly after I'd written it and so I asked him. He had absolutely no idea who he was. Didn't even know what he did.

Anyway, Tipper Special. I opted for this one on the grounds that it's drier.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Lesser spotted lighthouse

This summer we returned to Somerset. I was dismissive last year of Watchet lighthouse, clocking in as it does at a mere 22 ft. A glorified pepper pot. However, I decided I might as well go and take a look and was mildly won over. It's not a bad little lighthouse, though it's not really a lighthouse.

The harbour walls (which seemed very high to me) were, here and there, eroded in a most interesting way. Very alien-looking I thought, and well worth a photograph.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

What a drag it is getting old

While I was away we got through yet another hamster. Years ago I remember how badly my dad was affected when one of the cats got knocked down. I was sad of course, but poor dad really took it quite hard. So much so that they didn't get another cat for a couple of years. But the older you get the more sentimental you get, I notice. So, yes, having fed our ailing hamster sugared water through a pipette for a few days and hoping against hope, I was ridiculously morose for a fortnight or so after Bilbo there took his one way trip to the vet. I loved that little guy. It torments me that he never got to the see the living room in its new configuration. There's a lot more scuttle room.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

The sound of water

One Million Years Ago is possibly my favourite track on Broadcast & The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults etc. I write the odd post about lighthouses and this is the perfect soundtrack for a lighthouse, the rising and falling tone the beam and the tinkling noises are the bobbing tide. They even throw in some seagulls.

And this tune from that Instruments of the Middle Ages and Renaissance album that I got so into a few months ago. It sounds to me, the chiming bit before the recorders start, somehow like water. Like a ripple expanding through water. As with many of the tracks on the Broadcast album I do wish this was a bit longer. I could listen to it for I don't know how long.

But now the actual sound of water (or one of them). Once upon a time, when I was at college, I woke up early one morning. None of my friends would be up for hours, it was a beautiful crisp December morning so I took myself out walking. I headed for a nearby lake and when I got there found it covered in about an inch of ice. After a minute or two of gazing at the loveliness of it all I thought "Right, I ought to try and smash some of this ice" and threw a handy rock high into a steep arc over the water. It didn't smash through but instead bounced off the surface and caused one of the weirdest noises I've ever heard. It went something like: Teckk!, with a slight jews harp sort of effect. Hmm, no, that description doesn't really do it justice. It's a reasonably sized body of water (this is quite a nice picture of it), imagine a sheet of ice that size reverberating....oh fuck it, look I've found this on youtube, it was just like this.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Remembrance of tracks past

Many things occurred in the time I spent away from the blog: we loved and lost a hamster, I bought a cuckoo clock, I saw Pete Molinari at that gig in St Pancras Old Church and plenty more besides. Just lots and lots of stuff, one item of which was that I discovered the second of the long lost tracks that I mentioned in the original lost long tracks post. I described it as a dub track that sounded, "quaintly science fiction spacey with a very tight whirring noise running through it". It was this. Having found it I feel strangely un-jubilant.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The amazing technicolour dream flag

As I've said before somewhere I hope that Scotland does vote for independence, because I think there's a reasonable chance that the Scots will create a fairer society that will lay bare the lie that there's no viable alternative to the policies pursued by the three main parties in the UK.

And now the prospect is made all the more enticing by the opportunity for a new flag. So far I'm massively into that one up there. The Union Jack is a pretty good flag design-wise but, you know, traditions are there to be smashed into tiny little pieces and reassembled in groovy new forms.

And while we're tinkering with the constitution of the country why don't we get rid of the monarchy? Then we'll have all the fun of picking a new national anthem. My vote is for All You Need Is Love.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Slight return

Where I live the post man turns up before I leave for work - we're quite lucky in that respect, other people speak wistfully of such a state of affairs, bracketing it with phenomena like snow on Christmas day, steam trains, coal fires etc. Anyway, today I was heading for my car when I saw the postie's little red van swing into our road, so I decided to hang about.

My willingness to be slightly less early for work was rewarded with an LP shaped parcel, "That psychedelic jazz comp from the German vendor I shouldn't wonder", I thought to myself as I snipped through the packaging in the kitchen. But no, even better, a couple of albums by Myron & E backed up by The Soul Investigators. I think I've mentioned the latter here and there in connection with Nicole Willis, and how highly I rate her first album.

Released on Timmion, it really is a very consistent label. Little Ann's Deep Shadows was one of my favourite albums last year (or maybe the year before - whatever, it's very good) and I've listened O.C. Tolbert's Grown Folks Thing to death over the last few months (but haven't felt the need to buy the album yet).

Something worth mentioning maybe: barcodes - the scourge of the deep-fried retrophile. I wouldn't say that the issue works me into a frenzy, but I'd perhaps go so far as to say they irk me. Anyway, these guys are so retro-sensitive that the barcodes are on stickers attached to the cellophane wrapping. Normally I peel that stuff off, but I'm keeping these little stickers on account of the fact that they're so snazzy.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Season of mists and mellow freakiness

I found my way to this after buying a Psychic Ills album (on the same label, also good in a sub-Spacemen 3 way and such good sleeve design). But Lower Mind is maybe my track of the year as far as this sort of thing goes. It reminds me of something, probably another track, possibly another life. I don't think I've ever loved such a murky album before. Slightly disappointed that Amen Dunes isn't the guy's real name and that he isn't the frightening Joey Ramone/Bette Davis lovechild on the cover there.

Amen Dunes Lower Mind

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Will we never be free

I read yesterday in the local paper that 200 things have been added to a list of protected things in the borough, buildings mainly I think but one caught my eye: an Edward VIII pillar box. One of perhaps only 130 survivors from 1936, the famous year of the three kings, the British Empire's lamer version of the Roman Empire's year of the four emperors in AD69. (Itself exceeded in AD193, the year of the five emperors. But by then multiple-monarch fatigue had set in.)

Anyway, the prospect saw me up and dressed before 9am on a Sunday morning and rocketing off on my bike (my pyjama clad wife forlorn, "But...what's for breakfast?"). My destination: the mysterious, relatively unexplored bit of Twickenham sandwiched between the railway lines and the A316 (near the Stoop stadium).

There's something very Victorian about pillar boxes, mainly I suppose because they emerged in that era and generally the design hasn't been changed and perhaps because even now they're Elizabeth II boxes, and she exists as a living link to the last vestiges of the Empire. I was going to throw in the fact that they're painted bright red, which is our imperial colour, only I read that originally they were painted green. And, according to the lovely British Postal Museum & Archive, "the colour green proved too unobtrusive and people were unable to find them".

Saturday, 28 September 2013

slo mo autumnal nostalgia trip catastrophe

A nice fuzzy, tripped out picture of Marianne Faithfull with Spacemen 3 pounding their way through Mary Anne on top.

I don't listen to their first album as much as I should. I don't know why not. I had a little Spacemen 3 session the other day actually. It all started with Playing With Fire, track one Honey will always send me to a very special place and time, but I'd completely forgotten about track two Come Down Softly To My Soul. It's such a simple, polished pop song, your mum would probably quite like it.