Monday, May 26, 2008

To Do Lists and Radio Stuff

What I need, really need, to do right now is to make a list. A ‘to do list’. Only it’ll be a ‘to do list’ from my current ‘to do list’ … a ‘list of lists’ as it were! You know, they say that if you want something doing, you need to ask a busy man. I’m not sure about that, I can see there are woods and trees but I’m really not sure which is which at the moment! And yes, it’s a nice problem to have!

Years ago, when I worked for my father, one of the Monday morning tasks was to drive up to one of our bases of operation to collect invoicing data, clock cards, petty cash and stuff like that. Which I always enjoyed because it gave me the chance to stick on the radio and listen to Radio 4’s Start the Week. I’d dropped out of the habit of catching that until recently when the freelance lifestyle made things a bit more flexible, and the arrival of ‘Listen Again’ and torrent sites on the Internet made catching-up with radio stuff so much easier. And the other great thing about Start the Week is that nearly always there’s one or two books discussed that sound really fascinating – so my Amazon Wish-List looks incredibly impressive! I am truly an intelligent, educated, culture-vulture. Or at least appear to be…

Other radio stuff recently on my MP3 player on long train journeys (aside from the three or four editions of Just A Minute that I always load-up on if I’m travelling for any length of time):

A documentary on the Telly Savalas narrated city profiles that used to run in the cinemas in the early 80s as support to the Hollywood blockbusters of the day. “Birmingham, it’s my kinda town” says old Kojak himself, totally sincerely without ever setting foot there in his life.

Biographical overview of John Cooper Clarke’s punk-poet career. I remember seeing Clarke doing a spot at the St Ives Festival one year and him going into his ‘Japanese Kamikaze pilots – why did they wear crash helmets?’ gag – a week after 9/11 and the audience sitting stone-faced whilst Clarke has a horrible realisation on his face. Enjoyed this documentary but it skirted rather over his three poetry-set-to-music albums, which have always been favourites of mine. And oddly, it claimed that despite all his vinyl output he remained an unpublished poet. So why do I still regret e-baying, in a financial crisis, my copy of his Ten Years in an Open-Necked Shirt volume? Apparently it never existed in the first place?

Another career overview, this time of Mel Blanc – the voice of Bugs Bunny and others. Apparently to imitate the sound of Bugs eating carrots, Blanc ate carrots and did this because no other vegetable sounds like a carrot. Why not just use carrots in the first place? Strange…

Which reminds me, loads of good James Bond related stuff on Radio Four in the last few days (and again today), including a dramatisation of Dr No and interesting looking things on the life of Ian Fleming. Will be seeking all of those out.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Random Events, Random Songs

Popped up to London recently (not very rock ‘n’ roll, it was for the annual Credit Management exhibition at Olympia, where I caught up with old friends in the industry, haggled for some work and talked to magazine editors. Very productive, but, yes, not very rock ‘n’ roll). But this is a bit like my blog posting from last year about the dangers of drink and e-bay. This time it was me and sister Ruth staggering back from a couple of beers in the Fitzroy Tavern, and a pizza and wine at the Pizza Express opposite, at 11pm to catch the tube back from Oxford Circus and discovering Borders still open. Two purchases, a copy of Ian MacDonald’s Revolution in the Head which I’d been meaning to read for years … and a discounted Man About The House Series Five DVD. The former I can honestly justify (and tax-deduct), the later … did your parents warn you about the dangers of drink?

Also managed to nip into Forbidden Planet and pick up the first issue of my old mate Paul Cornell’s Captain Britain & MI13 Marvel Comics series. I really enjoyed Paul’s Wisdom series for Marvel last year, this new series kicks off even better; I’ve read on the Net that it’s already a sell-out and going to second print. Well deserved. I caught up with Paul at Bristol’s Comics Expo earlier in the month and had an enjoyable hour in the afternoon chatting to him, his lovely wife Caroline (who I met for the first time) and new Punisher artist Laurence Campbell. I also bored (I’m sure) Bryan Talbot silly with the story of how one of his original 2000AD pages is on my office wall, having bought it from him in Plymouth in the early 80s. Caught up with my old Doctor Who fandom friend Peter Ware for a bit of a natter as well. A really good day out.

Last night I hit the road to Tavistock which is a really beautiful road to drive (or is after you get off the A38 and get onto the A390) if rather tight and twisty – but the Mazda loves it! Playing as special guests of Limehouse Lizzy at the Tavistock Wharf were Alan Davey’s Gunslinger who I was catching live for the first time. Very Loud. They’ve a terrific drummer, Sunil from the Meads of Asphodel who was really high in the mix and very impressive, reminded me somewhat of Dave Grohl in Nirvana days (particularly in terms of presence), and I really liked what he was doing. It struck me that although the Lizzy crowd isn’t a typical catchment audience for the sort of stuff Gunslinger play, the younger part of the crowd really got it. And there were (again, it seemed to me) quite a few Hawkwind fans who’d turned out to specifically catch Gunslinger rather than the main act, which is encouraging.

Random tracks on the play-list recently:

Jupiter One: ‘Mystery Man’. Never heard of these guys before, but a promo of their debut CD arrived unexpectedly on Friday (just in time for my Tavistock drive) and I’ve really been enjoying it and definitely want to find somewhere to review it. Album is self-titled.

I See Hawks In L.A: ‘Carbon Dated Love’. I don’t normally like Country & Western at all, but this blend of country and psychedelia with a humorous twist and an environmental theme has really grabbed me. Album is Hallowed Ground.

Earthling Society: ‘The Boy with the X-Ray Eyes’. Krautrock / Acid Folk / West-Coast Psychedelia with Space-Rock elements. Album is Beauty and the Beast and I’ve reviewed it here.

Devotchka: ‘The Clockwise Witness’. Gypsy Punk, apparently. Heard this track on last month’s Word magazine’s cover-mount CD and immediately bought the album (A Mad and Faithful Telling). Unfortunately, this is by far the best thing on the CD. So I’d say it was worth the price of admission on its own but then, I had the track already. But it is.

Gunslinger: ‘Cyanide’. Doom-laden Motorhead-esque heavy rock but still manages to be catchy as hell and best played at maximum decibels. Album is Earthquake in E Minor.

Loose Acoustic Trio: ‘Pinball Wizard’. The Who interpreted by Good old boys as a jugband cover! Hilarious! Album is Sorrow Be Gone.

Stephen Emmer: ‘Passengers’. Various luminaries in spoken-word recitals set to music by Emmer. Again, this was on the May 2008 Word cover-mount. Haven’t picked up the album yet by from this track alone (recited by Lou Reed) it’s worth investigating. Album is Recitement, appropriately enough.

Jim Bob: ‘Batting the Bottle (Fighting the Flab, At War with the World)’. Hilarious resume of overweight middle-age by former Carter USM / Jamie Wednesday man from his excellent A Humpty Dumpty Thing.