Friday 29 October 2021

Friday Photo #15

Many of my early family photos were taken in one of two places - by the lean-to in the back garden or on the front doorstep. These were the two closest points to being indoors, while actually being outside the house and using available daylight - each flashbulb cost money in those days and was usable only once. Consequently both these locations may turn up with some regularity as this series progresses. Here's one from the doorstep, taken in 1965. I don't know what Dad said that was so funny, but he certainly captured my reaction to perfection.

Here's an appropriately titled tune from 'Free Dirt', the 1986 debut LP by Died Pretty. The Australian band were responsible for one of my absolute favourite songs of the 1980s, which I shared here a while back. Go check it out if you haven't already.

Monday 25 October 2021

Monday Long Song

On Friday evening, I did something that in years gone by I would regularly do three or four times per week. Now, doing it just the once was completely exhausting. Where did I ever find the energy back in the day? I'm talking, in case there's any confusion, about making a 150 mile round trip to see a gig. The mighty Kungens Män paid a brief return visit to these shores last week, something I knew that I couldn't miss out on, even though it arrived in the middle of a run of early shifts at work. The band were every bit as dynamic, intense and far-out as the first time I caught them in December 2019, back when the world was a very different place indeed. After that first gig a couple of years ago, I had only a quick chat with the band after their set, so it came as a bit of a surprise at the conclusion this latest show when guitarist Mikael Tuominen came up and greeted me by name. Mikael plays in four bands; Kungens Män, Fanatism, Automatism and Eye Make The Horizon, all of whom are well represented in my record collection, as well as working on his own project Solitär. He also, along with fellow Kungens Män members, has a full time job back in Sweden. He's a busy guy, yet he not only took the time to stop and talk, but remembered my name from that one short meeting two years ago, remarkable.

Kungens Män - Ljupt Djud

Friday 22 October 2021

Friday Photo #14

For my 60th birthday in April 2020, I was scheduled to make a long overdue return visit to New York City, the flight a present from my cousin who lives in Lower Manhattan. The trip, the celebration and the family reunion didn't happen of course, instead I spent my big day filling shelves at work. It turned out to be a pretty good day in the end though. A bunch of work colleagues bought me a cake plus several bottles of beer, so I went home quite happy. With travel restrictions still in place, earlier this year my 61st birthday came and went and the credit note for the flight is still sitting in a folder on my laptop. I've tentatively started to make plans for April 2022, we'll see how things pan out. 

Of more urgent concern however, is the fact that my cousin has been unable to visit her mum in London for nearly two years. Although she has an American husband, three duel nationality kids and has lived and worked in New York for nearly 40 years, my cousin has never taken American citizenship, so international travel at any stage of the lockdown was out of the question. Travel rules finally ease on November 1st and the following weekend she's flying into London for a very brief visit with her mum. I'm hoping to get down there to be a part of the family catch-up as well, even it's for only 24 hours.

One morning, during one of our trips to visit my cousin in the mid-noughties, Mrs S & I set out on a roughly 5 mile walk from the apartment in Tribeca, across the Brooklyn Bridge, through Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens until we eventually reached Red Hook - in those days fairly inaccessible by public transport. We picked up a couple of pieces of Key Lime Pie, from Steve's, a place that had been highly recommended, before wandering into the nearby Louis Valentino Jr Park, which offers impressive views across the bay to Liberty Island and Jersey beyond. I had a fairly basic point and press camera at the time and fired off a couple of shots, one of which is at the top of this post (click on it to enlarge). In spite of the distant grainy quality, it's a photo I've always been pleased with - the anonymous ferry on the way into Manhattan, the Staten Island Ferry on the way out and Liberty between them. 


Today's tune comes from 1972. While most of the kids at school were grooving to the Chinnichap glam of 'Wig Wam Bam' by The Sweet, me and my mates (and, no doubt, a certain Master John Medd) flipped over the 45 to dig into the heavy, self-written b-side 'New York Connection', featuring a rare example of a solo Brian Connolly vocal, devoid of the usual harmonies from Mick Tucker, Steve Priest & Andy Scott.

The Sweet - New York Connection

Monday 18 October 2021

Monday Long Song

Following on from last week Yes post, we stay in 1974 for 'You', the third of Gong's 'Radio Gnome Invisible' trilogy of albums. Soon after its release, founding member and leader Daevid Allen departed from the band, closely followed by guitarist Steve Hillage, whose own 1975 debut solo LP 'Fish Rising' featured heavy contributions from many core Gong members, with the notable exception of Allen.

'A Sprinkling of Clouds', which closes side one of 'You', features Tim Blake's moog prowess to the fore. Blake is still actively participating in a number of musical projects including the current incarnation of Hawkwind, for whom I saw him rockin' a mean theremin just a couple of years ago.

Gong - A Sprinkling of Clouds

Monday 11 October 2021

Monday Long Song

Two years ago, almost to the day funnily enough, I shared a track by Refugee as a part of this very series (here) and was pleasantly surprised to receive a reasonable amount of positive feedback for what was an 18 minute, typically complex 1970's prog work-out. I mentioned in the post how keyboard wiz Patrick Moraz was whisked away to the big league in 1974, when he was poached by Yes following Rick Wakeman's departure from the band at the conclusion of the 'Tales From Topographic Oceans' tour. Moraz made just the one LP, 'Relayer', with Yes, before Wakeman rejoined the fold in 1976. 

In spite of its one-off nature, 'Relayer' holds a place of special affection in the hearts of many long-term Yes fans. All three tracks on the LP qualify for the Monday Long Song feature, though I've spared you the glorious 21 minute epic, 'Gates of Delirium', opting instead for the first piece worked up by the band after Moraz's arrival, 'Sound Chaser'.

Yes - Sound Chaser

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