Wednesday 29 July 2020

Walkin' Up a One-Way Street

I've had a lot of overtime recently, covering a mixture of staff sickness and colleagues finally feeling able to make some use of their annual leave. The last couple of weeks have been pretty full-on actually and several days went by where I didn't even open the laptop once. Yesterday was a day off though, one that I was determined not to waste. In the event however, I dragged my aching bones out of bed, plonked myself down in the garden with a pot of coffee and sank into a morning of utter lethargy.

By midday I was fuming at myself for my inactivity, yet still struggled to find adequate reserves of energy or enthusiasm to move. I knew that getting out for a walk would do me the world of good, but couldn't quite gee myself up for it. Finally, I dragged myself to my feet muttering '...just to the end of the lane and back then...' - twenty minutes of movement, max.

Almost the instant I stepped across the threshold of the house I felt better. In the end I roamed off the beaten track for over four hours, barely seeing another soul and in the process discovering a couple of remote footpaths that were new to me, which considering I've been wandering around this area for almost nine years is really quite amazing. The day wasn't wasted after all.

'Walking Up a One-Way Street' is a fabulous 1965 Willie Tee b-side that can more easily be found on the 2001 'In Crowd - Mod Collection' box set.

Willie Tee - Walkin' Up a One-Way Street

Monday 20 July 2020

Monday Long Song

Hills formed in Gothenburg in 2007 and make music focusing on improvised grooves and rhythms rather than traditional songwriting structures. The band aim to '...create a feeling but not necessarily explain it through words...' Their third (and most recent) studio LP 'Frid' was released in 2015 on the excellent Rocket Recordings label in two separate limited edition runs.

'Och Solen Sänkte Sig Röd' translates roughly as 'And the Sun Sank Red'.

Hills - Och Solen Sänkte Sig Röd

Wednesday 15 July 2020

While Growing My Hair

Pat Jennings in 2020

In recent weeks, in spite of all the many real problems facing the World right now, the chatter among colleagues at work has increasingly revolved around our respective, uniquely out of control hairstyles. Grey roots, floppy fringes and impromptu mullets have all gradually become the norm, along with several quite alarming self-inflicted haircuts that initially appear reasonably acceptable when the person concerned is walking towards you, but reveal themselves to be somewhat, erm, inconsistent as they walk away.

I myself have involuntarily cultivated something of a retired 1970s footballer look. More precisely, that of Pat Jennings, a man whose own hairstyle has remained virtually unchanged for over 40 years. With local hairdressers gradually reopening, I'm now debating whether or not to continue letting my hair grow or return to a clipped, spiky normality.

While I consider my options, here's a brief proggy interlude from 1970, a time when both Pat and I gloried in locks that were lush, dark and long.

Egg - While Growing My Hair

Monday 13 July 2020

Monday Long Song

Staying on a reggae tip again this week, here's Linval Roy Carter, better known to the world at large as Prince Jazzbo, with 'Crabwalking', a 1972 Coxone Dodd produced reworking of Horace Andy's classic 'Skylarking'.

Prince Jazzbo - Crabwalking

Monday 6 July 2020

Monday Long Song

Here's the great Augustus Pablo, riffing on Leroy Sibbles' 'Guiding Star' riddim, which goes back to the 1971 Heptones single of the same name. 'Classical Illusion' was produced as a 7" single by Gussie Clarke in 1975, with this extended version appearing four years later. 'Guiding Star' was later covered by New Age Steppers on their 'Action Battlefield' LP in 1981.

Augustus Pablo - Classical Illusion

Friday 3 July 2020

I know You're Out There

I spent much of 2019 standing down at the deep end in the great swimming pool of life, with the water lapping just under my chin. I had hoped that 2020 would've seen me ease into a better place and gradually edge back towards the shallows - that didn't happen though. I was already struggling, even before world events took their many ominous turns and in recent weeks I've more than once found myself standing on tiptoes in even deeper waters, with my nose barely visible above the surface. But of course, in spite of my moans and groans, I know all too well that I'm one of the lucky ones - I have my health, an income and a roof over my head. There are a great many people who are not so fortunate. What I'm finding particularly distressing on a personal level is that the black cloud leaves me struggling to focus on anything requiring even a modicum of concentration -  listening to records, reading books, watching films or indeed fully engaging with the blogging community. Weeks and months have drifted by - so much time wasted.

The steady flow of streamed gigs over the past few months have provided welcome distractions, moments of comfort and genuine pleasure. Richard Thompson, Steve Wynn, Ed Kuepper, Alden Patterson & Dashwood, Rozi Plain, This is the Kit and Alasdair Roberts have all played online shows, most of them more than one. None of my musical heroes has been quite as busy as Robyn Hitchcock though. Robyn and his partner, singer-songwriter Emma Swift, are nudging towards their 30th Sweet Home Quarantine show since the pandemic crisis began. Together they've tackled nuggets from Hitchcock's vast back catalogue, fan requested rarities and a fascinating array of covers, including whole evenings devoted to the works of Bob Dylan, Syd Barrett, The Beatles and David Bowie. Friday at 8 is the absolute highlight of my week and at different points in every single show I sing along with gusto, I laugh out loud and I cry real tears - much as I would do at a Robyn Hitchcock gig in the real world. Each Sweet Home Quarantine concert lasts 45 minutes, costs around £4.50 and is not officially archived - if you miss it, it's gone, just like an actual live concert - you remember them don't you? I really can't recommend these shows highly enough. They're helping me to keep my head above water.


Here's one home recorded performance Robyn and Emma have shared with the wider world, a brilliantly re-written version of a 1986 song, originally issued on the 'Element of Light' album. No prizes for guessing who this scathing new interpretation takes aim at. (The link takes you to a non-embeddable video of the performance, recorded in their East Nashville kitchen).

Robyn Hitchcock & Emma Swift - The President

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