Monday 30 December 2019
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 16 December 2019
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 project...to these people and to the Psych Lovers group we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks and love...you are all amazing!'
From the compilation, this is 20 minutes of 'Jetstream' by Sonic Trip Project.
Thursday 12 December 2019
Monday 9 December 2019
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
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
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
Carnastoan - Mr Workhard
With Mum's side of the family, I'm fortunate to have a well documented photographic trail to follow back through time, as far as t...
As the shutter clicked, capturing a happy couple in the East End of London exchanging their wedding vows, 225 miles to the North West a youn...
There had been singles, lots of them, but until then, any LPs that came my way were borrowed ones, hastily taped on my portable cassette pl...
A couple of weeks ago our mutual blogging chum Charity Chic shared a handful of blistering punk tunes taken from a themed Mojo sampler ( her...
In March 1977, a couple of weeks after the release of their self-titled debut LP, Ultravox! (with the all important !) supported Eddie &...