Monday 30 December 2019

Monday Long Song

I was pacing myself well, I really was. Long shifts, plenty of hydration while at work, a quick meal when I got home and early to bed....with no alcohol! Christmas 2019 in retail was proving to be a doddle. Then, at the end of my lunch break about two weeks ago, when I popped out my ear buds, I quickly became aware that the company staff room actually sounded much more like a doctor's waiting room. Coughs, splutters and sneezes echoed around the walls. 24 hours later I felt the first sniffle and 24 hours after that I really started to go downhill. From then on each day became a massive vat of treacle to wade through.  How much actual use I was to anyone at work I really couldn't say. I was a feverish mess, hardly able to hold my head up, but somehow I didn't miss a shift. I couldn't eat and survived throughout on a diet of water and milky tea. Then at night I'd wake absolutely drenched in sweat, alternately roasting or shivering violently.

For weeks I'd been planning a long Christmas Day circular walk to get me out of the house and keep me occupied. In the event, the weather on the day was so unseasonably glorious that, crap as I felt, I forced myself out the door for a very brief stretch of the legs in the fresh air. I collapsed into a deep sleep on the sofa when I got back, waking just in time to go to bed! My Christmas dinner was half a cheese sandwich and a bag of crisps. On returning to work on Boxing Day I discovered that my own Christmas Day experience was far from unique, as many of my colleagues had also been ill - some a great deal more unpleasantly so than me. On Friday 27th the fog suddenly lifted, my appetite returned and I enjoyed my first full cooked meal in what felt like ages. My God it tasted amazing!

Here's a bit of uplifting African highlife to celebrate my return to fighting fitness  - is there anything quite like the feeling of being well again after a period of being particularly under the weather? 'Sickness' is taken from the latest instalment of Strut's ongoing and fantastic 'Nigerian 70' series, 'No Wahala: Highlife, Afro-Funk & Juju 1973-1987', released in March this year. This one goes out to anyone else who also felt a few degrees under during the festive period.

Happy new year to visitors and friends old and new. I look forward to catching up with what I've missed around the blogs over the next few days, as all this madness finally subsides.

Prince Nico Mbarga & Rocafil Jazz - Sickness

Monday 23 December 2019

Monday Long Song, Christmas Edition

Monday 16 December 2019

Monday Long Song

The big push has started. My next day off is December 25th. I finish at 8pm on Christmas Eve and am back in at 9am on Boxing Day, after which I'll be working right through until January 4th, including a 10 hour shift on New Year's Day. I'm aiming to get a couple of shortish posts together to keep things ticking along here, but mainly, for the next three weeks, I'll be either working or sleeping.

If you've done all of your Christmas shopping and feel like treating yourself, while simultaneously doing a little good in the world, take a look here at the Psych Against Cancer album. £10 (or more, preferably) will get you a staggering 78 tracks from a few familiar artists (Kungens Män, Moon Goose, Prana Crafter, Domboshawa, Moon Rå, Verstärker, The Oscillation, Svenska Psykvänner & The Janitors) and an absolute ton of new names, to me at any rate (KLÄMP, The Crazy Left Experiment, The Kundalini Genie, КОМВУИАТ ЯОВОТЯОИ, Culto Al Qondor.....the list, quite literally, goes on and on). As the title suggests, all proceeds go to Macmillan Cancer Support. I quote directly from the blurb...

'Like all charities Macmillan depend on the good will (and, to be frank, the money) of everyday folk to continue their amazing work. To that end we present the Psych Against Cancer compilation...all proceeds will go directly to Macmillan. This project came about from the Psych Lovers Facebook group...a group of like minded folk united by their love of fuzzy, trippy and psychedelic music. Among this group are many, many artists, label and producers who have all proved to be exceptionally generous and have donated tracks for this megacomp...some tracks are exclusive to this these people and to the Psych Lovers group we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks and are all amazing!' 

From the compilation, this is 20 minutes of 'Jetstream' by Sonic Trip Project. 

Thursday 12 December 2019

You Decide

His ability to get down to the very crux of the problem is one of the many many reasons I love Robyn Hitchcock. 

Monday 9 December 2019

Monday Long Song

After several years of banging on about them to anyone who would listen (including many times on these pages), I caught a show on  Kungens Män's first ever UK tour last week and they were quite simply transcendent. The Swedish six-piece played five extended tunes, each one blooming slowly from subtle beginnings into gloriously intricate cosmic walls of sound - high on improvisation, but perfectly paced and judged. Honestly, I could've stood there all night and still have asked for more. My gig of the year, without a doubt.

After the show I chatted with members of the band, who were genuinely touched by the reception they'd received from the UK audiences. I marvelled at their prodigious output over the past twelve months; two Kungens Män albums, not to mention several other releases by various side projects that have helped ensure that my bank balance has struggled to stay in the black throughout 2019. It was then that they let slip that not only do they all have day jobs, but some of them have families too. Such is their work rate, I'd never even considered the possibility that the individual band members would be able to find time for a life outside of music.

Kungens Män are intent on returning to these shores in 2020. If they come to your town, I strongly advise that you cancel all plans and get to the gig. You can thank me later.

Kungens Män - Diskbänksockultism

Friday 6 December 2019

Version City #73 - Alasdair Roberts sings Ivor Cutler

It's Clacton-On-Sea in 1966. The two kids in the front are a blur of larkingaboutness, much as you'd expect. The one on the right is taking a good look over the side, perhaps trying to figure out how it is that the little boat he's in keeps j-u-s-t missing that concrete wall as it goes round and round and round. The hilariously intense figure in the back seat? Yes, that's me, concentrating as if my life depended upon it. I'm not quite sure why. Did I really think I was steering the damned thing? Possibly.

Alasdair Roberts - I Had a Little Boat

Ivor Cutler - I Had a Little Boat (Peel Session)

Monday 2 December 2019

Monday Long Song / Red Gold & Green #33

It's Monday morning, the sun is out, my washing is steaming on the line in the garden and I've just flipped open my laptop for the first time in over a week. Christmas, for those of us working in retail, has well and truly commenced. I made it clear some time ago to those in charge that throughout the festive period I'll be available for every shift going - and they have pretty much taken me to my word. I'm happy with that. I know that the overtime board will be a barren wasteland come January and February, so I'm making hay while the sun shines. Also, I'm saving up for a bit of an adventure in April, so, y'know, every little helps. Today, though, I have a day off. A chance to do my washing, to take a long walk and, most importantly, to have a proper listen to the little pile of new records that the postman has been dropping off just lately. First though, an unhurried breakfast (pictured) and an appropriately titled tune from Birmingham's Carnastoan, the b-side of their one and only 12" single, released in 1981.

Carnastoan - Mr Workhard

Monday 18 November 2019

Monday Long Song

Although not necessarily my usual area of musical interest, the steady flow of early releases on the Mo'Wax label certainly made my ears prick up back in the day. 12" singles from the likes of Palm Skin Productions, Attica Blues and DJs Shadow & Krush all found favour in my neck of the woods. Then came the 'Headz' compilation, which ended up being something of an in-house favourite in my shop in and around 1994. The initial double CD / triple LP set rounded up 18 waifs, strays and otherwise unavailable singles, eventually spawning two sequels. Here's a tune from the first volume to which I was, and remain, particularly partial. 'Symmetrical Jazz' is the only track Saleem Andrew McGroarty ever put out under the Awunsound moniker, although he still appears to be actively involved in the music scene in various capacities to this day.

Awunsound - Symmetrical Jazz (Flapper Till 5AM Mix)

Wednesday 13 November 2019

After Years of Wait and Worry

Sid Griffin onstage in Cambridge, as seen through the lens of yours truly. Quite proud of this one.

Between 1985 and 1987 me and my regular gig-going buddy would make it our business to be at every Long Ryders concert that took place anywhere near our part of the world. We travelled many miles, caught many shows and then, after three albums, they were gone. The band reconvened briefly for the State of Our Reunion tour in 2004, before melting away for a further five years. Then, in 2014 Sid, Tom, Greg and Stephen came together once again for a more intensive period of touring, which eventually led to the recording of a fine new LP, 'Psychedelic Country Soul', their first in over 30 years.

I caught a Long Ryders gig in Cambridge a couple of weeks ago, my first since 1987. A little greyer of hair and wider of girth........but enough about the audience! The band played out of their skins, mixing a healthy dose of new material with a clutch of long time fan favourites, before coming out to press the flesh with us after the show. The years fell away.

This gentle Tom Stevens tune is Sid's favourite from the new LP.

The Long Ryders - Bells of August

Monday 11 November 2019

Monday Long Song

To coincide with the release of 'Hårt Som Ben', their second LP of 2019, the mighty Kungens Män will be undertaking a short UK tour in December. I've featured the band (plus offshoots and side projects) several times in the past, but have not been lucky enough to see them play live - until now. To say that I'm excited at the prospect would be to understate the case to a frankly laughable degree. I'm beside myself and the show is still nearly a month in the future. It's a 3½ hour round trip to the venue, immediately following a 6am-3pm shift at work, but I can't think of a better way to conclude my gig-going year. Expect further ravings in due course.

'Undre Inre Yttre Rymden' (translates as 'Lower Inner Outer Space') is taken from the 2016 Kungens Män LP 'Stockholm Maraton'.

Kungens Män - Undre Inre Yttre Rymden

Wednesday 6 November 2019

And I Remember More Than I Can Tell

Kimberly, Robyn, Ruby and Morris onstage at the Union Chapel (Photo by yours truly)

Sometimes, we can take our favourite artists for granted and almost overlook what made us fall in love with them in the first place. Last week I was reminded in no uncertain terms why Robyn Hitchcock holds such a special place in my heart, when I caught two successive shows on his current UK tour. The first, in a modern, rather atmosphereless space in his old home town of Cambridge, a totally solo affair, kicked off with 'Tonight' and 'Queen of Eyes', Soft Boys classics written within a short distance of where we were sitting. The set then took a stroll through Robyn's vast back catalogue from the very old (and extremely obscure) 'Stranded in the Future' up to his current 7" single ('...not available in any record shop...') 'Sunday Never Comes', a song I'll admit took me a little while to get to grips with on initial release, but which I now recognise to be a thing of exquisite beauty. His interstitial meanderings were as entertaining as always. '...sorry about the slight roughness of my voice, I ate rather a lot of cheese before I came on stage which has left me with a dry throat...' I'm particularly indebted to the punter towards the front of the audience who shouted a request for 'The Speed of Things' during the encore. It's a personal favourite and one I'd not seen Robyn perform previously.

In contrast to the soulless Cambridge room, the Union Chapel in London is a beautiful 19th century building which hosted a truly memorable show on Tuesday evening, where Robyn was joined by fellow former fellow Soft Boys Kimberly Rew and Morris Windsor, along with Robyn's niece Ruby Wright on musical saw and backing vocals. The setlist, long and eclectic, featured a clutch of Soft Boys nuggets as you might imagine, though not necessarily the anticipated heavy hitters. '(I Want to be an) Anglepoise Lamp', 'The Face of Death' and 'Human Music' all got an airing, as well as solo rarities 'Uncorrected Personality Traits', 'Ye Sleeping Knights of Jesus' and 'Flavour of Night'. It was a fabulous night. Robyn was on fire, sculpting a setlist to die for and flooring us between songs with a series of unique stream of consciousness ramblings. A number of fans from the online Hitchcock community who've seen the great man in concert many more times than me, have lauded the gig as among the best they can remember.

Even if you're not already a fan, I'd recommend catching a Robyn Hitchcock concert if he pitches up in your part of the world anytime soon. I guarantee that you'll come away having been royally entertained and feeling totally besotted. (A sidebar to the Scottish contingent of our little corner of the internet: Robyn is back in the UK to play Glasgow's Celtic Connections on January 26th - put it in your diaries!) I'll leave you with the 1986 original of another highlight from the Union Chapel show.

Robyn Hitchcock - Winchester

Monday 4 November 2019

Monday Long Song

I'm back to work and back to reality following a very busy break, during which I managed to squeeze in six concerts. More of all that in due course. I also picked up a few slabs o'wax on my travels, including the 2015 self-titled debut by Japanese krautrock aficionados Minami Deutsch. Some of you may remember that the band's fantastic second LP, 'With Dim Light', was among my favourite releases of 2018, so it was nice to finally get my grubby paws on a physical copy of this one too. The sticker on the cover tells you all you need to know.

'...featuring an endless motorik beat from beginning to the suited for driving into tunnels, midnight walks or any repetitive activities...'

Minami Deutsch - Sunrise, Sunset

Monday 28 October 2019

Monday Long Song

My thanks go to our mutual chum Brian for alerting me to the delights of House Deposit. The Australian four piece come heavily recommended if you dig fab combos such as Goon Sax, The Stroppies, Community Radio, The Chills and Chook Race. The only physical manifestation of their debut full length release 'Reward For Effort' is, frustratingly, on cassette, one of which is currently winging its way in my direction from the other side of the world. Fear not though, a digital copy of the eight track release will only set you back a little under four quid. It's a jangly, melancholic treat and well worth every penny. Check out the whole album here.

Saturday 26 October 2019

Saturday Musings

I've had the week off - actually I'm still off and don't go back to work until Thursday. I've been hard at it for the past few months, taking every hour of overtime I've been offered, keeping mind and body occupied, so I was pretty knackered and ready for a break. Of course as soon as I stopped, I immediately became incredibly anxious and stressed, unhappy in my own skin and missing the person who is no longer sharing my life more than ever. So, each morning for the first half of the week, I took myself off to one of the many nature reserves in this part of the world, where I found myself able to embrace my solitude by simply walking, breathing and being - for hours at a time. It was some kind of wonderful I can tell you. Of course I had to return to the pain of my actual existence eventually, but those walks were encouragingly positive glimpses into a reality beyond the one I find myself trapped in at the moment.

Then on Wednesday evening I went to see Rozi Plain play in Norwich and on Thursday ventured down to my old hometown of Ipswich to catch her in concert again. Long suffering visitors to this place will already be all too aware of my immense adoration of Rozi's music. Today I'm off to Cambridge, to reconnect with my old buddy Robyn Hitchcock. Then, after a Sunday lunch in the company of a group of old friends, on Monday morning I'll be winding my way down to this nation's capitol to catch Robyn again for what is being touted as something of a career retrospective show at the Union Chapel, where he'll apparently be joined by guests aplenty, including more than one fellow former Soft Boy. It's all very exciting stuff for this old Fegmaniac.

I won't go on and on, but please allow me to reiterate once again how very humbled and grateful I am for every single message of moral support that has been sent in my direction following the recent posts regarding my personal circumstances. I appreciate every kind word more than you could possibly imagine. I'm appalling company at the moment, really dreadful, collapsing into a sobbing heap without warning at every turn, but one day, one day, I hope I'll be able to express my gratitude to at least some of you personally.

Rozi Plain - There Is No Sun

Monday 21 October 2019

Monday Long Song

It's a relatively well known fact that, in spite of being known around these parts for the past few years as The Swede, I am categorically not Swedish. There is, however, a great deal of love in my heart for an ever increasing number of fine bands hailing from said Scandinavian nation. Take Lamagaia for instance. Very little of their splendid catalogue would fail to qualify length-wise as a Monday Long Song - indeed up until the very last moment a 33 minute opus entitled 'Alabamian Horologists' was slated to appear in this spot, but the Can-like grooviness of 'Lamagaius' eventually won the day. I'm particularly partial to the brief whistling solo 8 minutes in.

If you like what you hear, more treasures await on the Lamagaia Bandcamp page, plus there are a total of 24 tunes available to download free of charge directly from the band's website here and here. Dive in.

Lamagaia - Lamagaius

Saturday 19 October 2019

Some Broken Things Don't Mend

To the anonymous strangers on the surrounding tables in the cafe we probably looked like two old friends having a long overdue catch-up over coffee. We laughed loudly, talked easily and listened to each other's conversation intently. In reality though, Mrs S and I met on Friday morning to discuss who owns what as regards our mutual possessions, plus the thorny issues of finance. It was an absolute joy to see her - it always was and always will be, at least until such time as I sell this house and we divide the contents in a manner that we both agree is appropriate. After that I'm not sure I have the the mental fortitude to remain in her orbit as an extended friend. I'm suffering such awful pain in the aftermath of this one brief get together that it's probably in my best interests that I walk out of her life completely, hard though that will be. She knows that she only has to make the call and I'd be at her side in an instant, but equally I know that she'll never make that call. Every time I'd see her I'd be looking for a ghost of a sign, a sign that would never come.

Rain Parade - You Are My Friend 

Monday 14 October 2019

Monday Long Song

This time last week, a passing reference was made to Patrick Moraz, the man who was my final prog fascination before punk came along with its new broom to sweep all that old stuff away - for a few years at any rate. I was introduced to Moraz via the debut (and sole) LP from Refugee in early 1974. The band was put together by Brian Davidson and Lee Jackson of The Nice after Keith Emerson jumped ship to form Emerson Lake and Palmer. Moraz was in turn snatched away later the same year by Yes, following the departure of  their keyboard maestro Rick Wakeman, where he contributed heavily to the 'Relayer' LP and accompanying world tour. The prog supergroup merry-go-round came to a shuddering halt for Moraz a couple of years later when he was asked to leave Yes to make way for the returning Wakeman. 'The Story of I' in 1976 was the first LP to be released under Patrick Moraz's own name and in 1978 he commenced a 15 year stint with the tremendously dull Moody Blues. I was long gone by that point though.

Somehow, despite many moves and financially motivated downsizes in the interim, after 45 years I still have my original copy of that Refugee LP on the Charisma label. As you might expect it's a record chock full of classically tinged piano passages, impenetrable lyrical flourishes, tricky time changes, sweeping moog set pieces and long 'songs' divided into multiple disparate movements. Here's one of the latter, containing all of the former.

Refugee - Credo

Wednesday 9 October 2019

It Never Was Ours to Tunnel Through

Director of the Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance and Lost Map recording artist Victoria Hume returns with a sublime new single 'Desert', which is released as part of the label's PostMap Club postcard series. For a mere two quid (here) a printed postcard will drop through your letterbox, complete with a digital download code for 'Desert' and 'b-side' 'If I Had a Sword'.

Hypnotic and beguiling, 'Desert' is as lovely as lovely gets.

Monday 7 October 2019

Monday Long Song

The 'Live at the Marquee EP' by Eddie and the Hot Rods marked a fundamental turning point in my listening habits back in 1976. You could quite legitimately call it my gateway record to Punk and beyond. "...yes, your Patrick Moraz LPs started gathering dust about then..." noted a friend this week, with an uncanny level of accuracy. To dismiss Eddie and the Hot Rods as mere Pub Rockers is to do the band a massive disservice. While each of their three Island albums and attendant singles do indeed contain their fair share of splendidly flat out, four to the floor r&b bangers, dig a little deeper and you'll unearth a handful of off-kilter, envelope-pushing oddities, the like of which you'd struggle to find on any Dr Feelgood LP (and that isn't a criticism). Check out 'Distortion May Be Expected', 'We Sing...The Cross', 'On the Run' or 'Horror Through Straightness' if you don't believe me.

Last week we bade farewell to Barrie Masters, singer and sole ever-present member of Eddie and the Hot Rods, at the criminally young age of 63. I had an intense relationship with the band for a three or four year period at the end of the 1970s, yet only saw them in concert once. This was the stand-out tune that night.

Eddie and the Hot Rods - Beginning of the End

Thursday 3 October 2019



After driving myself half mad for the past couple of months bouncing around the empty rooms, I've bowed to the inevitable and put my house on the market. The place was initially very much Mrs S's vision, but it's a home that I truly grew to love. Now though, it's an echoing shell - an ever-present reminder of all that I've lost. Coming back from work every evening to the silent darkness is particularly painful. It's a quirky property, there's no two ways about it - and therein lies the possible problem as regards finding a buyer. Whoever takes it on must have the same vision thing that Mrs S had eight years ago.

The bathroom only became attached to the main body of the property, by way of an extension, 50 years ago. For the previous 200 years it was the wash-house, separated by a couple of yards from the rear of the building. The wooden door-frame is original and the step shows a considerable dip from the weight of the countless feet that have crossed its threshold over the past two centuries, mine and Mrs S's included. I wonder whose will be next.

The Ex - Footfall

Monday 30 September 2019

Monday Long Song

Some good news arrived this week, from the wife of my pal who underwent a period in a medically induced coma followed by open heart surgery just a few weeks ago - he's been released from hospital to convalesce at home. He's as weak as a kitten, frightfully pale and drawn, under regular medical supervision and extremely tired........, but he's home. I'm typing this on Sunday evening and will very shortly pour myself a generous post-work glass of red wine, which I will raise in thanks to toast the phenomenal men and women of the NHS.


This Heat forged a uniquely experimental post-punk path for six years from the late 1970s to the early 1980s, releasing an eclectic body of music across two LPs and one EP that appeared to have obvious antecedents. Produced by Flying Lizard David Cunningham, this is the title track of the 'Health and Efficiency EP' from 1980.

This Heat - Health and Efficiency

Monday 23 September 2019

Monday Long Song

Photo borrowed from the Greasy Lake community

Time is very tight at the moment, but I just had to drop in to wish a very happy 70th birthday to The Boss. Here he is on his last visit to London with The E Street Band in 2016. I was there. Rumour has it that they'll be passing this way again in 2020 - if that truly turns out to be the case, I'll be there again. You should be too.

Jungleland (London 2016)

Wednesday 18 September 2019

A Hip Philosophy

'Old Liquidator', the debut LP by American alternative supergroup The Minus 5, was recorded and released in 1995 during an unplanned hiatus in REM's 'Monster' tour following Bill Berry's brain aneurysm. Core members Peter Buck, Scott McGaughy of The Young Fresh Fellows and Ken Stringfellow from The Posies were joined on the album by Chris & Carla from The Walkabouts, Terry & Tom from NRBQ and a second Posie, John Auer.

Imagine Bob Dylan produced by George Martin circa 'I Am the Walrus' and you'll be somewhere near 'Story', track 8 on the LP. Frustratingly the album version fades out seconds before the song's actual conclusion, but fortunately a few months later an alternative (and complete) mix of 'Story' appeared on the 'Emperor of the Bathroom' EP.

The Minus 5 - Story (alt mix)

Monday 16 September 2019

Monday Long Song(s)

Friday evening front row view

After managing, one way or another, to miss Soft Machine in concert for the entire first half-century of their existence, I'm now playing a belated game of catch-up having seen them twice in the past nine months, most recently last Friday evening at a venue just eight miles up the road from my house. Between tunes, guitar virtuoso John Etheridge mused on the band's long history, it's legacy, illustrious former members and, crucially, the precise nature of their genre - '...Jazz-rock? Prog-rock? Jazz-prog?...'

The original recordings of 'The Tale of Taliesin' and 'Hidden Details' are separated by 42 years, yet feature three of the same personnel - Etheridge (now aged 71) drummer John Marshall (78) and bassist Roy Babbington (79). The current line-up is completed by 55 year-old multi-instrumental whippersnapper Theo Travis, who has played with the band for a mere 13 years, while somehow also maintaining both a solo career and one as a sideman for artists such as King Crimson, David Gilmour, David Sylvian and Steven Wilson. Soft Machine ripped into both of these tunes and many others on Friday evening with all the thrilling inventiveness and attack of players a fraction of their respective ages. It really was a terrific show.

Soft Machine - The Tale of Taliesin (1976)

Soft Machine - Hidden Details (2018)

Wednesday 11 September 2019

Monday 9 September 2019

Monday Long Song

Faust's self-titled 1971 debut contains more musical ideas than you can shake a stick at and is quite the 34 minute sonic adventure. What it isn't though, is anything approaching an easy listen. The following year the band returned with their second LP, 'So Far'.  The record finds Faust still quirky, challenging and wildly experimental, but this time a tad more accessible. 'Its A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl' opens proceedings and is a particular favourite of noted Krautrock authority Julian Cope.

Faust - It's a Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl

Friday 6 September 2019

Alden, Patterson and Dashwood

Throughout the 1990s, the Cambridge Folk Festival weekend became an excuse for me and a buddy to drink too much, talk nonsense and listen to some great music for 3 or 4 days and nights every year. I've attended the odd festival since then, but it's been a very long time since since I've tried kipping outdoors on the cold ground. This year, that same buddy came to my emotional rescue and offered me his spare ticket for Folk East. So it was that in the middle of August I spent a weekend under canvas, camping at a Folk Festival for the first time in a decade and a half. My buddy and I drank too much, talked nonsense and listened to some great music for 4 days and nights. It was just like old times and, not to put too fine a point on it, just what the doctor ordered. The highlight of the weekend was a set by the always magnificent Alden, Patterson and Dashwood. With an effortless fusing of traditional music from both sides of the Atlantic, harmonies to die for and a selection of superb self-penned songs, it's an absolute bewilderment to me that they're not internationally celebrated. If they turn up in your neck of the woods you'd be a fool to miss out. Check out their two cracking albums here.

Monday 2 September 2019

Monday Long Song

Mark Nelson has been recording experimental electronic music under the Pan•American moniker since 1997, at which time his actual day job was as one third of Virginian post-rock combo Labradford. This original version of 'Both Ends Fixed' appeared on a split 12" with Janek Schaefer in 1998 - and it's a gorgeously languid, reflective piece. The tune was later reworked and found a home as the closing cut on the Pan•American double LP '360 Business / 360 Bypass' in 2000. Check out more of Mark's music here.

Pan•American - Both Ends Fixed

Monday 26 August 2019

Monday Long Song

A couple of months ago I drove 15 miles into the heart of the Suffolk countryside for an unforgettable evening of music in the atmospheric 16th century chapel at Walpole. Laura Cannell’s ongoing Modern Ritual series is '..ancient, modern, experimental, real, fictional, personal & folkloric and has become a unique platform for premiering works from outside of the contemporary mainstream.' The Walpole concert was the 12th in the series, featuring performances from Osita, Polly Wright and Laura herself. The marriage of venue and music could not have been more perfect. Laura Cannell is about as local an artist to me as it's possible to be. She's released two quite differing albums this year, both recorded in a 13th century church less than 3 miles from this house. The first of them, 'The Sky Untuned', was released in April and sits among my favourites of 2019 so far.

Laura Cannell - Flaming Torches

Wednesday 21 August 2019

My Words Just Fail

There's been a lot of stuff going on lately, some happy stuff, some sad stuff and I'll get back to all that in due course with any luck. Right at this moment though, at the very moment I'm typing these words on Wednesday morning, in a hospital somewhere in Essex, one of the few close friends I have is on an operating table undergoing open heart surgery following a sudden illness and a period in a medically induced coma. The rest of us are left reeling at this sudden and terrifying turn of events and send out all our love to his wife and family. All we can do is sit and wait for news.

Inevitably, I find myself sifting through memories of our 40 year friendship in search of any excuse to smile and my mind comes to rest on my 23rd birthday party, a surprise bash thrown for me by the gang. It was a long and glorious evening, one of the oft-recalled highlights being my mate's uncharacteristic 6 minute wig-out to the 12" mix of The Jam's 'Precious'. As soon as the tune started he stood up from the table where we were all eating a meal and spontaneously went for it, big style - totally on his own. Shapes were thrown and the rug was cut - he was a veritable one man Pan's People. At the song's conclusion he simply pulled his chair in and plonked himself back down at the table, leaving us all in a state of slack-jawed hysterics. It's one of those 'you had to be there' memories that still gets pulled out from time to time, on the all-too-rare occasions a few of the old gang find ourselves in the same room. I look forward to chuckling about it again with him soon.

The Jam - Precious (12")

Monday 19 August 2019

Monday Long Song

In the unlikely event that a modest windfall should come my way anytime soon, I'd give serious consideration to shelling out for the 22 CD Steve Hillage box set, 'Searching For the Spark'. I was a massive fan of Hillage's early solo albums in my teens and have been steadily reacquainting myself with his work, as well as that of many of his Canterbury scene alumni, over the past few years. In addition to compiling his own humongous career retrospective, Hillage has also found time to curate the forthcoming 13 disc Gong set, 'Love From Planet Gong, The Virgin Years 1973-1975' - another one to go onto my never-ending wish list.

Here's 'The Glorious OM Riff', the closing cut from Steve's 4th solo album 'Green', released in 1978. The tune incorporates musical elements previously explored on Gong's 'Master Builder', from their 1974 LP 'You' and therefore his former band-mates share a writing credit.

Steve Hillage - The Glorious OM Riff

Monday 12 August 2019

Monday Long Song

Ochno Ochno? Sorry, I have absolutely no information on these guys, other than the fact that they are (or perhaps were) a Swedish band, whose sole musical contribution to the world appears to have been an eyewateringly limited, self-titled cassette only release on the Ljudkassett label in 2016. 'Feberdrömmar' translates as 'Fever Dream' and the tune certainly has an unsettling air about it, particularly that haunting coda.

Ochno Ochno - Feberdrömmar

Monday 5 August 2019

Monday Long Song

Before it came the 'Brassic Beats Vol.1' compilation and Fatboy Slim's debut 'Better Living Through Chemistry'. 'Brassic Beats Vol.2' and the first Bentley Rhythm Ace LP immediately followed it. Sandwiched in the middle of this genre defining flurry of beat beat cacophony from Skint Records, was the virtually subterranean 'One' by Brighton graffiti artist Req. Whilst some of the stuff around it may now sound a little of its time, 'One' is still every bit as odd and unsettling as it was when I played it on a daily basis in my shop throughout 1997 and 1998.

Req - Rain

Friday 2 August 2019

Gonna Have a Party

In this photo, taken in our Walthamstow back garden in 1961, I'm the rather confused looking one year-old being held in the arms of my aunt, who, with her husband, lived upstairs from Mum, Dad & I until 1972. My cousin, who now lives in New York with her own husband and three grown-up kids, joined the household in 1963. In those crucial early years, my cousin and I grew up like sister and brother, with each of us having the benefit of an extra set of parents on call whenever we needed them.

My uncle died suddenly in 1978, when my cousin was only 15, so, tragically, he was unable to enjoy any of her great academic achievements or meet her wonderful family. My aunt still lives alone in the East Ham house they all briefly shared together. Tomorrow it's her 90th birthday and my cousin has arranged for surviving friends and family to celebrate the milestone on Sunday afternoon with a party in the function room of a nearby pub.

My cousin arranged similar celebrations for her mum's 70th, 80th and 85th birthdays, so the tradition is well established, albeit with a smaller attendance and noticeably frailer attendees each time. After work tomorrow, I'll travel down to London to join my aunt and her friends for her latest knees-up. In the couple of days that follow, my cousin and I will hang out, catch up and no doubt start making tentative plans for her mum's 95th in 2024.

Stray - Gonna Have a Party

Monday 29 July 2019

Monday Long Song

Here's a slice of golden age prog from If's second LP, released in December 1970, just three months after their debut. The band featured the saxophonist Dick Morrissey, who would not only go on find success in the 1980s as half of Morrissey-Mullen, but also as a session player on a multitude of famous recordings by other artists - there's a fighting chance that you have something by him in your collection. That's him on 'The Love Theme From Bladerunner' and on Style Council's 'Confessions of a Pop Group and on 'Press to Play' by Paul McCartney and on Orange Juice's 'Rip it Up' and on Peter Gabriel's third self-titled LP.

If - I Couldn't Write and Tell You

Monday 22 July 2019

Monday Long Song

Time for writing is short, but fortunately this week's tune is long, and magnificent. It's recently been noted elsewhere what a very good year for music 1981 was. Produced by Martin Hannett, 'The Presence' is not only Crispy Ambulance's finest 13 minutes, but, in my opinion, is up there with the finest music to emerge from anyone in 1981.

Crispy Ambulance - The Presence

Saturday 20 July 2019

Red Gold & Green #32 - 50 Years Ago Today

I was 9 years old in July of 1969, the perfect age to be captivated and obsessed by all things space travel related. Unfortunately my parents didn't think I was quite old enough to stay up into the wee small hours to watch Neil and Buzz taking mans first steps on the moon, Dad did though and took a series of grainy photos of the TV screen to prove it. Those old photos are in a box somewhere in this house. Also in a box, I hope, is a handwritten and drawn school project entitled 'Space and Space Travel', created by yours truly in 1970 or thereabouts. If I'd have had my wits about me I would've located it long ago and shared it with you today - some other time perhaps.

Here's an aptly titled Bunny Lee production, released in 1969 by Derrick Morgan, who, after periods of ill heath, is still going strong at 79. This one's for Neil, Buzz, Micheal and Dad.

Derrick Morgan - Man Pon Moon 

Wednesday 17 July 2019

This Is My Home, The Place Where I'm Lonely

A photo of Swede Towers taken in the late 1800s

It's been a long stretch - two six day working weeks followed by a seven day one. Keeping mind and body busy is definitely a good thing for me at the moment and the exhaustion guarantees I get at least a few hours sleep each night. It's the coming home from work that's the difficult part though. The house is quiet and empty and the person I want be in it with is no longer here. I'm trying not to rush into anything, but I need to decide what my next move, if any, is going to be. Do I stay in a house that I love, is bought and paid for, but is full of memories and too big for my needs, or sell-up, downsize and take a chance somewhere else?

Husky Rescue - My Home Ghost

Thursday 11 July 2019

Red Gold & Green #31 - Ken Boothe

Still working at the age of 71, Ken Boothe is probably best known to the world at large for his cover of Bread's 'Everything I Own', which reached the UK Number 1 spot for three weeks in October 1974. To quote Joe Strummer in '(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais', '...Ken Boothe for UK pop reggae...'. Boothe's career, however, stretches back to the late 1950s, with his first recordings appearing as part of a duo with Stranger Cole in 1963. His solo career began in earnest in 1966 with a series of ska and rocksteady tunes for legendary producers such as Leslie Kong, Sonia Pottinger and Phil Pratt. Boothe also recorded for Coxone Dodd's Studio One label and here he is on that very imprint in 1968, with his superb rocksteady reworking of a song written and recorded the previous year by another Ken, UK entertainer Kenny Lynch.

Ken Boothe - Moving Away

Monday 8 July 2019

Monday Long Song

The catalogue of the splendidly monikered Dire Wolves (Just Exactly Perfect Sisters Band) is deep and daunting, featuring as it does a large number of bafflingly obscure cassette releases on a multitude of different labels, going back to 2009. I'm sure I'm not alone in hoping for some form of more readily available reissue program in the not too distant future. Fortunately, over the past couple of years, the band has begun to put out some of their new music on vinyl, although other limited releases continue to appear alongside these 'official' recordings. Long story short - it's confusing. What isn't confusing, or daunting, is the quality of the band's output. 2017's 'Excursions to Cloudland' , a masterpiece of cosmic freakoutery, has recently been joined by its far-out follow up on Beyond Beyond is Beyond Records, 'Grow Towards the Light'.

Monday 1 July 2019

Monday Long Song

Who amongst us hasn't, at one time or another, wondered how a two minute Ramones classic would sound if stretched out to over 10 minutes by a contemporary Kentucky based Krautrock band? I know I have. Wonder no more. Step forward Verstärker with the frankly remarkable opening salvo from a 2017 various artists tribute album, 'Here Today, Gone Tomorrow, A Ramones Reverence'. (Check out more music from the band here).

Verstärker - (Hallo) Commando

Thursday 27 June 2019

When the Family Flies In

Caped crusaders - my cousin and I in 1965

24 hours before my cousin, her husband and three kids were due to fly into London from NYC to visit her mum (one of the two elderly aunts often mentioned on these pages) last Summer, her youngest daughter suddenly fell ill. A routine visit to the doctor quickly escalated into an immediate hospitalisation lasting 8 months, during which time she endured multiple blood transfusions, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and ultimately a life saving bone marrow transplant. She's 13 years old. There were many dark days, but throughout them all, my cousin's amazing daughter maintained a positive, upbeat outlook that most of us would have found utterly impossible to contemplate. To cut a very long story short, she is out of hospital, back at school and doing well, although she cannot travel for at least the next 12 months and has to be extremely wary of catching any kind of infection.

 A couple of the stops on our reconnaissance trip

My cousin lived at the hospital with her daughter for the entire 8 month period so never did manage a UK trip in 2018, but in the middle of May this year, with her daughter recovering well at home, she flew into London alone for a brief visit to her 89 year-old mum. I travelled down and caught up with them both for three memorable days. As I've mentioned few times in other posts, my cousin and I were brought up in the same house as virtual brother and sister. She's my closest confidante and oldest friend. Whenever we've been together over the past 25 years, it's been with various members of her fabulous family in tow - and I wouldn't have had it any other way. This time however, we were truly able to wind down, kick back and properly catch up - it was much needed. And drink, we did that too. Venue reconnaissance for her mum's forthcoming 90th birthday party in August took my cousin and I to a selection of fine hostelries around the East End of London. All in the name of research, obviously.


Julia Jacklin's second LP, 'Crushing', is every bit as strong as her 2016 debut - actually, it's possibly even better. It's essentially a break-up album, so, with my domestic situation being as it is, I've consciously avoided interacting with it too often, but it comes highly recommended nonetheless.

Julia Jacklin - When the Family Flies In

Monday 24 June 2019

Monday Long Song

I'm overwhelmed and humbled by the amount of positive vibes I received in the wake of my previous post a couple of weeks ago. I can't thank everyone who sent a message of support enough, whether in the comments, via email, social media or even in the form of a kindly thought - it means the world, it really does. I'm conscious of the danger of descending into lethargy, so, if I may ask your indulgence, I'm going to try to dip my toe back into the blogging world as part of an attempt to create some form of new normal for myself. I'm finding it hard enough to even get out of bed at the moment let alone string a few sentences together, so it might not be plain sailing, but hopefully there'll always be a half-decent tune attached to my meanderings. Thanks again - really.

Anyway, back to it. Here's one I prepared earlier.

The entire second side of the 1971 Focus LP 'Moving Waves' is taken up by the 23-minute instrumental 'Eruption', a (whisper it) prog reappraisal of the ancient legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, made up of of 15 short movements. The band are of course best known to the world at large for their pair of hit singles, 1972's 'Hocus Pocus' and the 1973 classic 'Sylvia'.

Focus - Eruption.

Monday 10 June 2019

Drunk With Sadness

I'd like to take a moment to apologise for my ongoing low profile round these parts and more importantly offer genuine, heartfelt gratitude to those who have enquired after my well-being during my absence. The truth of the matter is that after 14 years together, Mrs S and I have separated and I find myself alone, isolated, broken, scared and struggling to function to be quite honest - the black cloud that engulfs me is so dense that it's nigh-on impossible to find a way through. I'm keenly aware that my problems are infinitesimal in the grand scheme of things, but currently I'm totally overwhelmed by them.

I bought 'Over' by Peter Hammill in 1977 when I was only 17.  The LP details the breakdown of a relationship in graphic, agonising, intimate detail, something I couldn't even begin to comprehend at such a tender age. It's far from easy listening, but right now every single line of 'This Side of the Looking Glass' rings so true that it's almost as if Hammill is sitting in the corner of the room, watching my suffering and taking notes.

Thursday 9 May 2019

My Eyes Have Seen the Trolley Bus in 1964

Yer humble author hanging out with Robyn after the show

I know he's already had a lot of love from these pages in recent weeks, but the great Robyn Hitchcock is once again looming large in my mind following Friday night's concert at a tiny Ipswich venue, in front of a sold out audience of just 75 lucky punters.

 '... in 1966, when I was a 13 year old boy listening to Blonde on Blonde, I used to dream of one day wearing a polka-dot shirt, blowing a harmonica and playing a slightly out of tune guitar in front of a small audience somewhere in East Anglia...' (Perfectly timed pause, followed by a big smile) '...and tonight my dream has come true..!' 

In a setlist that delved deep into his vast catalogue, Robyn played a request for me (the frankly magnificent 'Be Still'), another for a mate of mine ('So You Think You're in Love') and concluded his encore with a superb cover of 'Visions of Johanna' - it really doesn't get much better for The Swede than that. Here's a 2017 live clip of the lovely 'Raymond and the Wires', also performed on Friday evening.

Monday 6 May 2019

Monday Long Song

The familiar version of Sandy Denny's gorgeous 'No End', with a full band and sumptuous string section, was recorded in 1973 and released on her third solo LP, 'Like an Old Fashioned Waltz'. The initial recording of the song, however, featured just Sandy alone at the piano and was made in December 1972 at the Walthamstow Assembly Hall (about a mile from where I and my family then lived). Steel yourself, it's breathtaking.

Sandy Denny - No End

Friday 3 May 2019

Such a Wonder of Modern Technology

Henry Badowski is a multi- instrumentalist, who released just one album and a handful of singles under his own name, before slipping out of view in 1981. Up to that point he'd played drums, bass or keyboards with a number of punk-related bands such as The Good Missionaries, Chelsea and (the briefly re-named Damned) The Doomed. 

39 years later, I can still recall my initial reaction when I first heard 'My Face'. I became momentarily convinced that Syd Barrett had made a miraculous recovery and had started making records again. Even now, I can appreciate why my youthful imagination made that brief, optimistic leap. 

'My Face' is a great lost single if ever there was one and is probably the song that has featured on more of my own mixtapes/minidiscs/CDRs over the years than any other in my collection.

Henry Badowski - My Face

Wednesday 1 May 2019

Little Walter

That Little Walter was born as Marion Walter Jacobs on May 1st appears to be widely agreed upon, but the actual year in which he arrived is subject to some debate - 1923, 1925, 1928 or 1930, take your pick. What is unarguable is that his innovative, distorted style of playing broadened the accepted scope of blues harmonica, for listeners and fellow musicians alike. What's also unarguable is the fact that he died far too soon - 44, 42, 39 or 37 years of age, depending on which of those birth-dates is the real one. Here's Walter in 1954, with 'Mellow Down Easy', a song written by the great Willie Dixon.

Little Walter - Mellow Down Easy

Monday 29 April 2019

Monday Long Song

A few weeks back, I shared a Klaus Schulze tune as part of this feature (here). In the accompanying post I reminisced about the youthful hours I spent laying on my best mate's front room carpet, with a speaker either side of my head, as all manner of experimental music washed through my ears. Here's another tune from that period. Much of Edgar Froese's debut solo LP 'Aqua' qualifies as ambient or at the most, gently rhythmic. The exception is 'Panorphelia', which has an unsettlingly dark undercurrent about it that gave me the willies in 1974 - and still does.

Edgar Froese - Panorphelia

Thursday 25 April 2019

The Listening Project - March

In January, I began to list every album I play in full during 2019. The format is immaterial, LP, CD or Download, as long as the album in question is played in its entirety. If I skip tracks, cherry pick the odd tune or give up part way through, it doesn't go on the list. My aim, as often as possible, is to treat the album as a body of work, old school stylee. 

After managing a total of 58 full albums during February, in March I listened to a mere 30. I played a lot of music, but struggled to fully apply myself fully to the task at hand and found myself flicking around - a couple of tracks from here, a few tracks from there. Must try harder.

A very fine record that has already appeared on a couple of blogs in this little corner of the internet is 'Dusty Notes', the 15th long player by Meat Puppets. Their third release, 1985's 'Up On the Sun', is an all time favourite of mine and in a couple of months I have a firm appointment to catch the band in concert for the first time since 1992. I'm hoping to pick up a physical copy of 'Dusty Notes' at the show.

Chicago Odense Ensemble - s/t (2019) LP 
The Stroppies - Whoosh (2019) LP 
Sleaford Mods - Key Markets (2015) LP 
Brix & the Extricated - Breaking State (2018) LP 
VED - Gershwin's Pipe (2010) LP 
Ashley Hutchings - Son of Morris On (1976) LP 
Frankie & the Witch Fingers - Zam (2019) DL 
The Furrow Collective - Fathoms (2018) CD 
El Guincho - Alegranza (2008) CD 
Of Montreal - The Sunlandic Twins (2005) CD 
Meat Puppets - Dusty Notes (2019) DL 
The Unthanks – Lines: Parts One, Two & Three (2019) DL 
Greenslade - Spyglass Guest (1974) DL 
Richard Youngs - Red Alphabet in the Snow (2014) DL 
Rustin Man - Drift Code (2019) DL 
Various Artists - Studio One Scorcher Instrumentals (2002) LP 
The Cinematic Orchestra - To Believe (2019) DL 
These New Puritans - Inside the Rose (2019) DL 
Egg - s/t (1970) DL 
Meat Puppets - Dusty Notes (2019) DL 
Our Solar System - Origins (2018) LP 
The Del Fuegos - Boston, Mass (1985) LP 
John Coltrane - Ascension (1965) LP 
James Brown - Ain't That a Groove 66-69 (1984) LP 
Paisiel - s/t (2019) LP 
John McLaughlin, Dave Holland, John Surman, Stu Martin, Karl Berger ‎ - Where Fortune Smiles (1971) LP 
Takeshi Inomata & Sound Limited - Innocent Canon (1971) DL 
Joshua Abrams - Reprencing (2012) DL 
Anne Briggs - s/t (1971) DL 
Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society - Mandatory Reality (2019) LP 

Meat Puppets - Nightcap

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