Monday, 20 April 2020

Are you sitting comfortably?

The Machine have moved on stylistically since Solar Corona and seem a bit funny about this album’s popularity, which they don’t seem inclined to reissue despite the sky high prices asked on eBay or Discogs. 

Sunday, 19 April 2020


I’ve been attempting to learn German for ages without much success. It doesn’t really matter -  I’m only doing it for fun. The German for snail is Die Schnecke, this is quite funny on its own (suggests a creature that sneaks around). Lovelier though is Das Schneckenhaus for snail shell (I’m sure you can work out the literal translation). And, my final bit of snail related German: im Schneckentempo - at a snail’s pace. Ich lerne deutsch im Schneckentempo.

Saturday, 18 April 2020

She who must be obeyed

Our hamster snuffed it a while back and after a lot of persuading I consented to our upgrading to a cat. So we've got a cat. She's a rescue cat and she was introduced to us as Mimi. I wasn't that impressed by the name really; the naming of cats, as we all know, is a difficult matter, and one that should be decided by their owners. But once bestowed a name cannot be taken back. Looking Mimi up I discovered that it's a diminutive of Miriam and that the meaning of Miriam while obscure, may mean sea of bitterness. Which is totally cool, and, given Mimi's unhappy previous life, not entirely inappropriate. Much to my wife's irritation Mimi absolutely loves me, constantly sitting on me, sticking her bum in my face, etc. the works. The missus doesn't get a look in. I have a similar effect on most cats actually. I like to think they recognise in me a kindred feline spirit. Or possibly I just smell a bit fishy.

Friday, 17 April 2020


Every now and again I get really into the idea of going to see a band play a gig somewhere in Europe. It always seems totally feasible to begin with, what with Airbnb and advance Eurostar tickets, but to date dithering and/or other commitments (and factoring in beer money) have put paid to any of these expeditions going ahead. 

I discovered Doug Tuttle a year or so ago, I don’t know how. He’s released a few records and despite the fact it all sounds much of a muchness I favour It Calls On Me over all the others and ended up buying a copy on lovely translucent syrup coloured vinyl. After getting massively into it I looked into whether he was touring, and the answer was: not really. He was doing one gig in Europe, at the Barcelona Psych Fest, which, as it happened, was due to fall on my birthday weekend. As above I pondered for a while, but I had a couple of other things coming up that were going to cost a bomb so I cooled my jets. Both the other things have however fallen through. As indeed has the Barcelona Psych Fest. What a year, eh? 

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

I brake for modern nature

I was having a cigarette in the smoking area outside a gig a bit back* and was drawn into a conversation with my fellow smokers, the gist of which was that the band were rockin’ that night and that weren’t there a lot of good gigs at the moment. One guy, who was quite pissed, slurred that, yes, there were a lot of great bands around, but none of them were English – there are no good English bands he declared, with a dismissive wave of his arm. We stood around and you could almost hear our collective minds whirring, but after about 20 seconds we all just sort of nodded, no one had been able to come up with anything. I had thought immediately to mention Ultimate Painting, but unfortunately they’d split up a short time beforehand.

I’d first seen Ultimate Painting supporting White Fence at the 100 Club, quite often I miss support bands as the friend I go along to most gigs with has a bee in his bonnet about the price of pints in venues. In my opinion it doesn’t really make that much difference in London, but there we are. But yes, anyway, very glad we caught Ultimate Painting on this occasion - they had wisely opened up with their eponymous track and within seconds the whole crowd was bopping along. I saw them a few more times and was due to see them again when news of their split broke. They were on the verge of releasing an album which was subsequently mothballed - no doubt it will emerge at some point in the future and be hailed as a lost classic and the murkiness of the split pored over.

I got a copy of Jack Cooper’s solo album but didn’t listen to it for a few months and then only because I’d got a new car that had a functioning CD player. It’s pretty good - he did a good lagniappe session on Aquarium Drunkard too.

But anyway, that album has been, in my opinion, exceeded by his latest thing Modern Nature. The track above is probably their best so far and, in a move that quite tickles me, they’ve started both the gigs I’ve been to with it. I mention all this as I realised that they were actually the last gig I went to, before all this lock down business, on 4 March.

They also do dead good tee shirts.

*Possibly King Tuff back in August 2018.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

A journal of the plague year

The last time I went into central London was on 27 February to go and see Grimm Grimm at Cafe Oto. It’s a great venue and this was a good gig, I got there about 10 minutes before he came on and blagged a rickety chair right at the front as he was sort of tuning up. The track above sounds quite gentle doesn’t it? The live version would not have been out of place on Isn’t Anything. I’m not sure where I picked up on him - I looked at his past gigs and I can’t believe I haven’t seen him before, he’s played loads of gigs at all the usual venues supporting bands I really like. Bit of a bummer.

The last time I went to the pub was Friday 13 March before travelling up to Sheffield on the following Monday for a fortnight off to see friends that was to have taken in gigs by Julian Cope and Lee Scratch Perry. Obviously those and a couple more since then have gone out the window. And I doubt very much that I’ll be seeing Acid Mothers Temple at the end of June or trundling along to Raw Power a month after that.

Other than that I’m having quite a good lock down. I’ve never been much of a one for drinking at home and if I’m not drinking I’m not smoking, so feeling pretty bright eyed and bushy tailed at the moment. I know I’m going to completely overdo it when the pubs do finally reopen, and I have pined for the pub on a couple of occasions, but it is nice to have this break imposed from above.  I just hope all my favourite places are still there when it’s all over.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

A little bit of politics

Except it shouldn’t really be political. But somehow it seems it is. I’m not sure why I’m surprised but the barrage of contempt and ignorance thrown up by rather a lot of police officers and their uncritical supporters has left me dazed and confused. And angry. Anyway, here you go, check it all out, sign the petition etc.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Slowly but surely

I went to see Holly Golightly play the other night (May 12th, to be precise). I've been meaning to get to one of her gigs for years, so I'm sure you'll be happy to hear that it was great. That at least is the fuzzy impression that I'm left with. Over the course of the evening I had rather a lot to drink and can't really remember too much about it all. (I do remember Fabienne Delsol was in the crowd. Stood right next to me for a while actually. I affected a nonchalant attitude, she seemed unmoved.)

So, I can't remember stuff like which songs got played, but I do remember being particularly pleased at two or three of the choices. And, er, Slowly But Surely may have been one of them. It's probably my most recently acquired favourite track of hers - the LP version is just immaculate (the kind of thing that might have got into the Top Ten in the eighties maybe) but I prefer the demo version on the b side of On The Fire. Both are amazing.

Anyway, I didn't know it was a cover version until about two weeks ago. Here's the original. Yet another upset for my tending to prefer whichever version you hear first theory (I may scrap that theory). I like this better. The harmonica has a more yearning quality, the vocal more forlorn.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Beermat of the month

This series idea has not proved to be the goldmine of blog posts that I expected, to be honest. Beermats these days are pretty boring. It's a shame. But this one's not too bad, a bit of a Spacemen 3 vibe going on I think. It's for the Big Smoke Brew Co. As I always say the quality of the beer is immaterial, but as I also always say, it's actually pretty nice: their Dark Wave porter is great and if they haven't got that then their milk stout is also excellent.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Benchmarking exercise

We've not had a park bench post for a while have we? Here you go - this sturdy little beauty and many others just like it can be found in the Virginia Water bit of Windsor Great Park.

I noticed the other day that the very first benches I mentioned on here have been removed. They've replaced them with really boring ones, the kind of thing that you can get in garden centres.