Tuesday, September 28, 2004

going dutch

Well, there’s a load of old fuss about Brian Wilson’s ‘Smile’ album. Don’t get me wrong, it should plop onto my doormat today and I’m looking forward to hearing it. However, I’d like to take a minute to ramble on about Holland.

To my mind, it's the most cruelly over-looked of all Beach Boys albums. It’s of its time and yet somehow timeless. It has all of the recognisable BB traits but manages to invoked a sense of otherness. Everything from its cover to its eco/Western-theme and its concept album styling is as far away from Pet Sounds as it gets. Holland is never less than essential. It comes as part of a 'twofer' set fronted by the inferior 'So Tough... Carl and the Passions'. However, the Holland CD is replete with the quirky Mt. Vernon and Fairway tracks which came from a free accompanying ep and which demonstrate the drug-tinged fragility of Brian Wilson’s mind at the time in the midst of what was a schizophrenic episode for the whole band.

Little known fact: Ricky Fataar of The Rutles plays on this album.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

waving not drowning

You drift for ages withour anything inspiring you musically. Then suddenly, you pick up on something new which really piques your interest. This, in turn, reminds you of something old which you revisit. This in turn leads you round to some information about something new again.

What is he on about? Well the something new is the Sons and Daughters CD - 'Love The Cup'. Now, I admit that I'm a little behind the curve here, in that S&D supported Franz Ferdinand earlier in the year. However, the Scots band sound like very little else at the moment, but reminded me a little of the quirky folky/martial sounding things to have emerged from the iconic Throwing Muses over the years.

This realisation got me round to seeing what was happening over at Muses HQ and revisiting some of their many great records from the past couple of decades (including the great song 'Backroad' from Red Heaven).

Here, I discovered Kristin and Bernard from the Muses hard at work on their latest creation, 50 Foot Wave, who are every bit as edgy and urgent as the Muses.

Sons and Daughters - Johnny Cash
50 Foot Wave - Glory Weed
Throwing Muses - Backroad

These MP3s are hosted elsewhere, so if I can spend a minute thanking their hosts and encouraging you to visit them. If they're unhappy, I'll remove the links straight away.

The Johnny Cash clip is from Sons and Daughters own site. You can buy the CD here.
The 50 Foot Wave track is hosted by CD Baby. You can buy the CD here.
The Throwing Muses track is from Beestung, which is a fantastic resource for Muses fans. Please visit.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

has my fire really gone out?

It looks like it.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

preston school of industry

Well, the big news is that I'll be doing some blogsitting over at A Free Man In Preston for a couple of weeks. Blimey, what a responsibility. I feel like I'm revising for an exam. Fret not though, rumour is there'll be some help with the chores and I can tell you now that I'm not doing any digging (I hope).

So, let's wish Tim a fun fortnight in Filey. Now, where's my bus timetable? We're off to AFMIP Towers.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

slanted and enchanted

Taking petite anglaise' lead I submitted secret knowledge of backroads for review by The Weblog Review. As it turns out it's been reviewed by two separate writers whose views share some common ground re the lack of an 'about' section, but then couldn't be more different.

I enjoyed both takes on sknob for different reasons. Take a look... I'd appreciate your views.

Friday, September 17, 2004

as it is when it was

Thanks to Spoilt Victorian Child for the reference. If you have only a passing interest in New Order or Joy Division, please head his way for some great titbits and comment. I had the unknown pleasure of spending several months as part of the team in the Factory office at 86 Palatine Road around 1986/87... Freaky Dancin' era Happy Mondays, Brotherhood era New Order, Mickey Way era ACR, Bread and Circuses era Durutti Column, Festival of the 10th Summer etc. A splendid time was, of course, guaranteed for all.

Now here's something not a lot of people know. Tim Booth, formerly of James, lived at the same address, in the flat next-door to the Factory office, with his then partner (and manager) Martine.

Look and learn, our kid. Look and learn.

whole lotta dozy

Years ago, as I joined the rate-race for the first time, I was a management trainee in a bank. I was convinced by my 'mentor', the assistant branch manager, that it would be a good idea to accompany him to the local Round Table meeting. Y'know the story... raise money for charity, good opportunity for personal development, looks good on your CV, etc.

Well, off we went to the back room of a shitty pub in Sheffield to meet with a dozen or so desparate men. 'Where was the fevered debate on the issues of the day?' you ask. 'Where was the ritual which would bond us together as brothers and give each other work at the expense of non-Tablers' I asked. Nowhere. The only thing these men were desparate for was to get out from under the missus' feet and sink a few pints with their mates. The nearest we got to a fevered debate was when they got to discuss whether they should invite Mandy or Sasha or both back as the star turn for the next Strippers Night.

It was like being back in the Scouts. Except with ashtrays.

I never went back. I never will.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

gums don't kill people, wrappers do

They should create sweets with wrappers specifically designed to be opened single-handed. I nearly caused a major incident in the fast lane of the M60 this morning trying to extricate a red fruit gum from it's fiddly packaging. Fortunately, the fast lane of the M60 typically has a top speed of about 10mph, so no harm done. In fact, last week I got cramp in my foot and had time to remove my shoe, massage my foot and replace said shoe before having to nudge forward.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

dualit and touch

'Right that's it! That's the last time I'm burning myself trying to make toast under this stooopid grill' I yelled as the grill pan hit the deck sending three slices of Warburtons medium skittering across the kitchen floor leaving comet-like trails of crumbs in their wake.

This is the third time in the last fortnight that this has happened and, frankly, I've no fingerprints left... well not on my fingers anyway, they're stuck on the side of the grill pan. I reckon that I'm now an ideal candidate to carry out the perfect crime. Yes, I think a spell of cat-burglary could be right up my street. Actually, probably best if it's right up someone else's street isn't it? No good knowing your victims is it? And even worse when they recognise you... and I think they would recognise me even without fingerprints.

Anyway... 'We're going to get a new toaster now!' I continued, and within half an hour we were on the road to Leeds. Actually, we were going to Leeds anyway to visit the Royal Armouries so I thought we could take a quick detour into the city centre to a great kitchenware emporium which we've used before and pick up some new toasterage.

In fact, we'd tried to get one from Curry's a few days earlier but, my goodness, don't they look cheap and shoddy? Actually, whilst I'm on the subject of Curry's.. and Comet for that matter.. how come when you wander in for a browse, when you're killing time, when you're pretending to be customer so you can leave your car on their car-park while you go to the footy, how come there's always at least three pre-pubescent or, conversely, silver-haired sales assistants asking you if you need help? Then, when you go in and you do need something, can you find a single living soul in the place? You could dress up as Batman and climb up on the balcony before anyone'd notice. Then eventually, when they've talked you down and sold you whatever shoddily manufactured piece of crap you came in for, it invariably fails to work or has a vital component missing when you get home. You phone them, only for them to direct your sorry arse back to their store to return it only to discover that they don't have a replacement in stock. Yes, they can deliver it, for an extra £12.50 and NO THEY BLOODY WELL CAN'T TELL YOU WHETHER IT'LL BE MORNING OR AFTERNOON SO TAKE THE WHOLE DAY OFF SUCKER!! Whatever happened to service?

Phew! So back to the great kitchenware emporium in Leeds. Well, we went in and, to be fair, we arrived with the intention of buying a decent toaster, so it was a pretty easy sale. However, the guy in the store did a great job of showing us the Dualit range, talking up the features in an unpatronising way, selling us a pink'un (as seen above) and cross-selling us a wok! So far so good. We put the stuff in the boot and headed off to the Armouries to feast on three millennia of warfare, which was great but, hey, there's only so many guns and swords you can see before you want to use one just to bring the show to a close.

Eventually, we got home after waxing lyrical about what a great guy the salesman was and how nice it was to see someone good at their job instead of the normal poorly trained, demotivated slack-arses you get at, ohhh I dunno, say Curry's or Comet. Then we open the boxes to find that he's given us the wrong toaster. Yes it's pink, but it's the mega 4 slice job which, yes, costs more but just isn't the one we want. And it doesn't come with a little cage for making those toasted sandwiches which have fillings that remove the skin off your lips (maybe I could keep the skin in a matchbox with my fingerprints).

By now it's 6pm on Sunday, so the shop is well shut... so it'll be a trip back on Monday. At least there's the wok. Hang on a minute! There's no knob for the lid. Doh! So after all our gushing about the good service from this place, we were now £150+ lighter of wallet with not much to show for it.

But wait. Cheer up. There's a happy ending after all. On calling the store next day and telling them of their calamitous gaffe, not only do they call the wok manufacturer to dispatch a new knob post-haste, they send one of their staff over to collect the wrong toaster and present us with the right one... a round trip of some 60 miles! Haha! Service isn't dead after all.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

intensity in ten cities

From time to time I've obsessed about particular things. Often this has been a particular band, or song, or restaurant, or writer. Of course it's sometimes been a specific book, a smell, a pair of jeans or, indeed, a certain laydee.

Several years ago I was juggling a few obsessions. One was a twin obsession. No, not an obession with twins (although, frankly, anything is possible - ADULT CONTENT) but two obsessions that sort of ran alongside side each other. One was with Jami Gertz largely driven by her performances in Less Than Zero and The Lost Boys. The other obsession was with a girl who worked in the next department to me who looked quite a bit like Jami Gertz... except a nicer because I could try to catch her eye as she sashayed to the vending machine and then wait to lust after her on her return trip to her desk.

One evening when I was working late I went so far as to pop a cassingle of Sense by the Lightning Seeds in an anonymous looking envelope on her desk. Then before I left for home I removed it. To be fair, I was spoken for at the time and so was she. Morality got the best of me. I haven't worked there for many years but in my mind's eye she still looks like Jami Gertz on the back of a motorbike in Lost Boys, hair streaming behind her. The real Jami Gertz though put on quite a bit of weight and now plays frumps or frustrated gangster wives and it's just not the same any more.

Thinking about it, more obsessions were interwining around this time in my life. The song Sense, as already mentioned by The Lightning Seeds, but also by the wonderful Terry Hall. Less Than Zero's writers, Elvis Costello and Bret Easton Ellis. Oh, and vampires. Er... joking about vampires (although, frankly, anything is possible - ADULT CONTENT). Anyway. I'll leave Mr McManus alone for now, but Bret was a really cool writer at the time, along with the likes of Jay McInerney. I eagerly devoured their novels and assumed that everyone in America was rich and fucked up on cocaine.

A different writer, who I picked up on via a friend at the time was Nicholson Baker, who's caricature adorns this blog entry. His style is, to my mind, unique as it focuses in microscopic detail on an individual's life, or particular event. In effect I became obsessed with an obsessive. The Mezzanine was my first exposure to his mesmering style (footnotes ahoy!). Followed not long after by Vox and The Fermata, which combined this microscopic focus on absolute detail with, let's face it, smut. Since then he's published essays, chidren's stories and recently A Box of Matches, which follows a man's thoughts throughout the life of an ordinary box of matches. I have yet to read his latest, Checkpoint, but it's on its way.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

nothing to see here

A nice sunny jaunt to the Smoke to day, largely to the tune of Boards of Canada's Geogaddi, which just seemed to work perfectly, especially on the train. Celebrity spots for the day were Bedders of Madness aka The Dangermen looking incredibly cool, calm and collected on Long Acre plus John Hannah looking slightly less so in Covent Garden but nothing to be alarmed about.

Picked up The Gruffalo's Child today, which I can recommend if you enjoyed The Gruffalo. Also, as mentioned the other day, Half Smiles of the Decomposed is a truly excellent epitaph for GBV.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


It's with some sadness that I take receipt of Half Smiles of the Decomposed, the last album from Guided By Voices. Bjork's Medulla has also arrived, so it'll be a fun drive in to work tomorrow. M62 do your worst.