Monday 24 January 2022

Monday Long Song

You may recognise 'Jah No Dead' from Winston Rodney's impassioned solo acapella version, sung over the sound of crashing waves in the 1978 film 'Rockers'. If you're unfamiliar with the scene, it's well worth a couple of minutes of your time (here). The original Burning Spear studio version of the song was released under the title 'Marcus Say Jah No Dead' on the 'Social Living' LP, also in 1978. Two years later an extended mix appeared on the flipside of the 12" single 'Free the Whole Wide World'.

Burning Spear - Jah No Dead

Monday 17 January 2022

Monday Long Song

On Friday evening my laptop (formally my trusty laptop) screen froze and, then it went blank and I got a 'no bootable device' message. I ran a scan and it couldn't detect a hard-drive. On Saturday morning I took it to a local computer repair place who confirmed that the hard-drive was dead. The guy installed a new hard-drive within the hour and now it's like I have a brand new computer! For five years it's taken between 10-15 minutes to boot up, but now it's instant. Miraculous! He's trying to recover whatever he can from the old hard-drive, but even if he's able to retrieve anything, it's going to take him several days. It's mainly GB's of music which is neither here or there in the grand scheme of things, but also more importantly it contains hundreds of photos. More recent shots from my phone are automatically backed up to cloud storage, but older photos uploaded from my camera aren't (I know, I know...), so I've potentially lost virtually the entire record of my time with Mrs S. You may well have thought that I'd have learned from previous mistakes. Nearly 10 years ago I backed photos and diaries from an older laptop onto a mains driven external hard-drive, which literally went bang shortly thereafter. Nothing at all was retrievable that time. I lost the very earliest photos of me and Mrs S plus all my writings about her. Our history is gradually being erased. Very symbolic. On a positive note, the laptop is so fast now, it's amazing - like having a brand new piece of kit. Before you ask, yes I've ensured that everything going forward will be properly backed up, plus I've ordered a brand new portable external hard-drive for added security!

The only digital music currently left in the archive (other than hundreds of CDs of course) is on a small, much older portable hard-drive that I've been lugging around for years. I've completely forgotten what most of the stuff on it sounds like, but have been having a listen to various bits and pieces over the weekend. Here's a Kreidler tune from 1996 (....gulp.), though I suspect that I chanced upon it via a 2000 reissue.

Friday 14 January 2022

Friday Photo #19

Over a period of many years in the pre-internet days, my Mum patiently attempted to pull together the various strands of our family tree. It was a difficult and longwinded task back then. She visited graveyards, examined ancient registers, scoured censuses and drafted letters to organisations around the country and beyond in an effort to connect the dots between seemingly unconnected names, faces and dates. Whenever I'd go home for a weekend, she'd excitedly tell me of her latest discovery - who was related to who, in what way, where they were born and when they died. I, of course, nodded and smiled, absorbing next to none of her laboriously gleaned discoveries, while probably stuffing a sandwich down my neck before heading off to the pub to meet my chums. Years later, I'm left with Mum's research. Scraps of paper, scribbled notes, birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates and fading photos. The dots she painstakingly tried to connect now fill several dusty carrier bags. I'm gradually transferring it all onto Ancestry, but I wish I'd taken more notice at the time. It meant as much to Mum then as it does to me now.

This is Alice, my maternal great-Grandmother. She was born in 1856 and died in August 1927, five years before Mum was born. Her husband Charles, my maternal great-Grandfather, pre-deceased her in November 1924 aged 67. They are both interred at Bow cemetery in the East End of London


Today's tune is an absolute beauty from Tom Waits and contains one of my favourite couplets of his: '...arithmetic arithmetock, turn the hands back on the clock...'

Tom Waits - Alice

Wednesday 12 January 2022

Show Me Those Who Are Not There

The shingles has lingered much longer than I imagined it would. I felt so guilty about being off sick during the busiest period of the year that I foolishly went back too soon, working three long shifts from 22nd December until Christmas Eve and then on Boxing Day. I somehow made it in the day after that, but had to come home after three hours, barely able to hold myself upright. I've been off again ever since. I'm hopeful of a more cautious return to the fray next week, this time easing in with short shifts to start with.

With so much time to kill, I initially tried listening to music or reading a book with limited success, agitated by the pain and fuzzy-headed from the painkillers. I don't have a TV, but I do have my trusty laptop and eventually found distraction by revisiting several television programmes of my youth via YouTube. I passed the hours reconnecting with episodes of such shows as Callan, Z Cars, Softly Softly Task Force, Quiller, The Sweeney, along with a few others from the 1960s & 70s, that I remember watching with my parents. The sedately paced Softly Softly Task Force was Dad's favourite back then, whereas I preferred the rough and tumble (and smoking...the endless smoking!) of The Sweeney. The distant familiarity of Barlow, Watt, Carter and Regan's respective adventures was strangely comforting, but my how the world has changed since I last watched them.

Friday 7 January 2022

Friday Photo(s) #18

One day in the mid-1980's, very quietly, without fuss or announcement, Dad stopped eating meat. Never once, from that moment until he passed away in 2007, did I ever hear him use the word vegetarian to describe himself, yet he never ate meat again. He'd simply finally reached the point where he could no longer square his love of animals with the consumption of dead flesh. He made no big deal of it, felt no obligation to justify his decision and never attempted to persuade anyone else to do the same thing. It was purely a line he felt he could no longer cross. Indeed, Mum continued to be a meat-eater for the rest of her life and it was a further 5 or 6 years until I became a vegetarian.

Dad's love of animals extended well beyond our family pets. Mum's eyes would roll as she'd tell me about car journeys delayed by Dad pulling up to rescue a injured bird (they then drove around for a couple of hours looking for a vet to leave it with) or, in this particular case from 1983, to free a sheep caught in a barbed wire fence on a remote country lane. He wouldn't use any tools to do the job as he neither wanted to accidentally hurt the sheep or damage the fence, so he untangled it painstakingly by hand. The sheep remained calm throughout the lengthy process apparently, seemingly well aware that Dad was friendly and there to help.   


Today's soundtrack is provided by Welsh guitarist Toby Hay, who has released three albums under his own name, another in tandem with Jim Ghedi plus a number of EPs. 'Sheep Song' is Hay's contribution to the 2020 Tompkins Square compilation album 'Imaginational Anthem Vol. X'. 

Toby Hay - Sheep Song

Wednesday 5 January 2022

That's His Kind of Blues

Jasper C. Debussy pre-dates Marc Bolan's short spell with John's Children by three or four months. The song was recorded by Simon Napier-Bell in the winter of 1966 as a proposed follow up to Marc's third solo single Hippy Gumbo, though it was ultimately shelved and didn't see the light of day until the huge early 1970's success of T.Rex encouraged Napier-Bell to dig it out, dust it off and cash-in. Key session musicians for the recording included drummer Clem Cattini, guitarist Big Jim Sullivan, piano wiz Nicky Hopkins and, rumour has it, a certain John Paul Jones on bass. The eventual 1972 issue of Jasper C. Debussy featured a '...go for keep cool y'know...' spoken intro from Marc, the meaning of which passed by this 12-year-old completely. It isn't the nonsense phrase it appears to be however, as his actual words had been censored by studio trickery. When the song re-emerged in 2002 as part of a reissue package, his original unexpurgated studio rant was reinstated, '...fuck off or keep cool y'know...!'

Monday 3 January 2022

Monday Long Song

A belated tribute to the great Robbie Shakespeare today, by way of 'Gates of Zion', a stand alone 1980 single from The Mighty Diamonds. The tune was cut at Channel One, so, given the time frame, my guess is that the backing is supplied by The Revolutionaries, though Robbie and his lifelong partner in riddim Sly Dunbar are in fact the only musicians officially credited, outside of the vocal trio themselves. Rest in dub Robbie.

The Mighty Diamonds - Gates of Zion

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