Tuesday 28 November 2017

Looking For a New Technique

Saturday morning saw the first hoar frost of the season round these parts. There was no snow involved, though the phenomenon was the very definition of deep and crisp and even. It was also strikingly beautiful. Mrs S and I were on the road early, as she had an artistic engagement a few miles South and we enjoyed the Wintry drive through the countryside tremendously.

I'm steadily (read, slowly) working my way through my recently unboxed CD collection, grabbing a few discs for the journey each time we take the car out for a spin. On Saturday morning I pulled a couple of Apostle of Hustle albums off the shelf. The band, formed by Broken Social Scene bassist Andrew Whiteman, has been on hiatus since 2009, but had already released three long players up to that point, the pick of which is 'National Anthem of Nowhere' from 2007.

Apostle of Hustle - My Sword Hand's Anger 

Apostle of Hustle - National Anthem of Nowhere

Saturday 25 November 2017

Ten Years Gone

Dad & I, 1961

When I was very young, Dad seemed to be constantly decorating in some part of the house and whenever he decorated, out came his reel to reel tape player. He would hang wallpaper, hammer nails and slap on paint whilst singing along to the likes of Frank Sinatra, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and even early Bob Dylan - all artists who I came to appreciate in later life. Dad had been into music from an early age, visiting Ronnie Scott's and the coffee bars of Soho in the 1950s to hear his first love - jazz. In later years he listened more to classical music, but in the early 1960s he enjoyed many pop hits of the day - I still have tapes of him singing Freddie & the Dreamers and Gerry & the Pacemakers songs with me. Dad's love of music was a constant throughout his life and the care with which he organised and notated his LPs, Cassettes and CDs as he got older made me smile - I could see where I'd got it from.

In his later years, in addition to failing hearing, Dad struggled terribly with his legs. He could barely walk more than a few steps and was in constant pain. His bolthole was the back room, where, with headphones on, he would listen to an album or two every evening, while Mum watched the soaps on TV in the front room. Unfortunately, because of his deafness, such was the volume coming from the the headphones, the music was still quite audible all over the house! The tinny, distorted sound of a symphony orchestra in full flight would often be the first thing I heard on stepping through their front door when I visited.

During a period of personal domestic upheaval in the 2002, I found myself hurriedly and unexpectedly moving from a large shared house into much smaller accommodation and I had no option but to stash my own, by now very large, record collection back at my parents house. Rather than leave piles of heavy boxes stacked up all over the place, I simply reconstructed the free-standing metal shelving units that I'd bought with me, spaced them around the walls in my old bedroom and filed the records away again. This left little usable space for my parents in what was now essentially their spare room, but the arrangement was only meant to be temporary.

Ever the opportunist, Mum hung a makeshift washing line from shelf to shelf across the room - handy for when the weather was too wet for drying clothes on the line in the garden. One day Dad was hanging some washing on Mum's indoor line and, because of his unsteadiness, lost his balance, snagging the line as he fell, bringing three floor-to-ceiling shelves full of LPs crashing down, trapping the lower half of his body beneath them. He wasn't hurt at all, but didn't have the movement in his legs to free himself and Mum couldn't get to him for the piles of records and twisted metal shelving. It was the middle of the day and the neighbours weren't at home, so, in a panic, she called the fire brigade. It must've been a unique call-out for them. They diligently made a pathway across the room to Dad, helped him to his feet and, bless them, apparently did their best not to damage any of my records in the process.

The condition of the records was the furthest thing from my mind when Mum told me about the accident on the phone that evening. I was utterly mortified by the news. At the soonest possible opportunity I went home, dismantled all of the shelves and boxed up my records again. Thankfully he was none the worse for his ordeal and we were all able to laugh about it later when I suggested that, as he had instilled such a love of music into me at a very young age, Dad had literally brought the accident on himself!

Dad passed away 10 years ago today. Here's one that he and I sang together back in 1963.

Monday 20 November 2017

Scott McCaughey

Sending out good vibes to Young Fresh Fellow Scott McCaughey, who suffered a stroke just before the weekend. Over the years Scott has also played with The Minus 5, REM and, here, as part of Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus Three.

Friday 17 November 2017

Premier Pop From Pugwash

'Silverlake', the seventh LP by Thomas Walsh's Pugwash is released next week (more details here) and (here's the particularly exciting bit) the great Jason Falkner is in the producer's chair. Two tracks from the record are already doing the rounds and, as you might expect, they're both very classy indeed.

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Go About Your Earthly Mission

Summoning the spirit of Waylon Jennings, the voice of Johnny Cash and citing the likes of Townes Van Zandt and Hank Williams as inspiration, at just 22 years of age, Canadian singer-songwriter Colter Wall is already the complete package. Following the 2015 maxi-EP ' Imaginary Appalachia', this year's self-titled LP really is one to track down - it's a stunningly accomplished debut.

Monday 13 November 2017


Apologies for my low profile round these parts of late. Life is getting in the way a bit just at the moment, sucking up all my spare time and mental energy - it's looking as though things might remain this way at least until Christmas. I'll do my best to keep things ticking along though.

Here's Daniel Bridgwood-Hill, who trades as dbh, with the delightful video for 'Funny', the first taste from 'Mass', his third LP proper, which is due for release on November 24th via Thread Records.

Monday 6 November 2017

Red Gold & Green #24 - Bunny Wailer

Following the 1973 release of their sixth LP, 'Burnin'', founding members Bunny Livingston and Peter Tosh left The Wailers, allowing Bob Marley to assume full control of the band and the rest, as they say, is history. Both Tosh and Livingston (trading as Bunny Wailer) issued debut solo albums in 1976 and Bunny continues to enjoy a successful career to this day. Tragically, Peter Tosh was brutally tortured and murdered in 1987. In a career as long as Bunny's, it's no surprise that the quality of his output has ebbed and flowed somewhat over the years, but you're on very safe ground with any one of his first half dozen LPs. 'Struggle' is the title track from his third, released in Jamaica in 1978 and to a wider world the following year.

We've got to stand as one 
 For together we are strong 
 Divided we're defeated 
 That's why we can't be separated 
 You've got to get involved 
 'Cause there's a problem to solve 
 Don't be no opportunist 
 Don't find yourself a racist 

Bunny Wailer - Struggle

Friday 3 November 2017

Broken Head

In a hurry a little under a month ago, I mistimed a swoop beneath one of our low door-frames and smashed the top of my skull into it. It wasn't the first time it's happened and it won't be the last. The frame in question is over 200 years old and made of solid oak. It's also a good foot shorter than I am. I've had a headache ever since the incident, intense at first, but now more akin to an uncomfortable lingering hangover. I've been somewhat prone to headaches for as long as I can remember, usually caused by the most innocent of circumstances, so initially I wasn't overly bothered by this one. Last week, beginning to feel a little concerned, I finally decided to take myself off to see a doctor at the local medical centre. He didn't go near my head, instead he waggled his fingers about in front of my eyes and checked my blood pressure before pronouncing that, in his opinion, my headaches are unconnected with the recent violent encounter with the door-frame - although he couldn't actually say for sure what is causing them. 'Take more painkillers' was his advice. I told him that, on the contrary, I've actively been trying to reduce the 4 times a day I've been taking them, but he was insistent. 'No, no. You need to take more'. Should I come back if the symptoms persist? 'Yes,' he said, '...give it 9 or 10 weeks'.

Thanks Doc, that helps a lot.

Eno / Moebius / Roedelius - Broken Head

Wednesday 1 November 2017

Perrett at the Beeb

Not so much a post as a public service announcement. If you, like me, had your tired old heart warmed by the return of Peter Perrett a few months ago, please check out his recent Marc Riley 6Music session here. Over the course of 27 minutes, Peter speaks frankly about his life, health and music, as well as playing killer versions of 'Hard to Say No', 'Something In My Brain' and 'Living in My Head' from 'How the West Was Won', his first new LP in 20 years. I bring this to your attention because, as of this writing, the session will only be available on the BBC iPlayer for another 22 days before it presumably disappears into the ether forever. If anyone out there has the technical ability to download it, please let me know, I'd be eternally in your debt. It's a glorious listen.

As a bonus, here's a video for 'Sweet Endeavour', the latest single from 'How the West Was Won'.

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