Thursday, January 01, 2015


Morrissey book review
He submitted an episode of Coronation Street which ended with Ena Sharples saying: 'Do I really look like a fan of X Ray Spex?'

Triumph amid the tears: Badly Drawn Boy review, Manchester Evening News 

Pub blues singers are ten-a-penny but one singer was always a cut above the others in Huddersfield pubs - Graham Philpott, who died earlier this year. A tribute concert by his band Ckreed takes place at The King's Head on June 27, from 8.30pm, where a plaque will also be unveiled. He was a most unlikely looking Graham Philpott, with his long hair and painted nails. He should have been called Zak or something similar. He had great presence, a great voice and great delivery. RIP Graham.
Great 2009 Ckreed gig at the Kings Head, captured by Camera Colin 1 (YouTube)

Beer v Records
Why are people seemingly happy to pay, say, £12 on a round of beers but not £12 on a record? Two Edinburgh independents, Song by Toad Records and Barney’s Beer, are collaborating on a unique project to explore this question. Today, Record Store Day, eight songs on 250 red vinyl records in beautiful sleeves and eight songs as download codes on 250 bottles of Barney’s Beer will be released. Who will sell out their batch of 250 first? For me downloads have always seemed impersonal and I'd rather pay more for a sleeve and notes but I suspect beer will win here. (And beer did win)

And talking of Record Store Day....

Castleford's Revolutions Brewing Co. is celebrating the event with a 6.9pc IPA called Sid 'n' Nancy. It is the first in a new series of beers for Revolutions celebrating (in)famous musical couples. 'The Lovers' series of beers will all be single-hopped 6.9% IPAs and will be released 3-4 times each year.

And talking of Record Store Day again....

In your face the internet (he wrote on a blog) - a new record shop is opening! Beatnik will be opening in Greenwood St, Altrincham, on April 20 (Record Store Day). The shop will be selling good quality second hand vinyl and CDs across a broad range of genres, with a 'carefully curated' selection of new stuff, as well as books, art, coffee, cake and other eatables. Performing a live acoustic set on opening day will be MJ Hibbert and on May 3 a talk by former Word/NME/Mojo scribe Paul Du Noyer.  Good luck Beatnik!

Wilko's last stand

Wilko Johnson is playing one of his last ever British gigs at Holmfirth Picturedrome. One of the greatest rhythm guitarists has been diagnosed with cancer and has chosen not to have chemo.

He is playing four farewell gigs in the UK in March - one at the Picturdrome on March 8 (although he is also playing three warm-up gigs at the Greystones, in Sheffield, Feb 16-18).

I've only seen Wilko once - about 20 years ago in London - and was enthralled by his goggle-eyed strutting and effortless choppy guitar playing. One of the good guys.

In a lovely BBC interview, he sounds remarkably calm about the Big C and the Big D (UPDATE -gig sold out in a day)

Weddoes a no-no...

...but the Wedding Present's annual At the Edge of the Peaks Festival won't be at the Picturedrome this year. Mr Gedge is extending his At the Edge of the Sea Festival, in Brighton, to two days this August.


Jul 12:You Me and the Alarm Clock, which has been recently re-released, is the greatest EP since The Beatles Twist and Shout - six songs of incredible beauty written and sung by John Bramwell.

When this collection was first put out in 1989, it looked like the start of great things for John, then known as Johnny Dangerously. A fresh faced lad with a healthy head of hair and a stripy T-shirt, he regularly wowed the Southern Hotel, in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, with his memorably-phrased songs of love and longing.

But as time went on, You Me and the Alarm Clock looked like a rare recording of a lost, great artist. He did appear on TV, but as a presenter on children's TV shows that sounded like toilet cleaners - Fresh and Express.

Thankfully, John did re-emerge: as lead singer of I am Kloot, their first album, Natural History, released 12 years after You Me and the Alarm Clock.

I've always thought Natural History was You, Me and the Alarm Clock curdled.

On the LP, John sounds bitter and disappointed; his young idealism gone - 'A dark star follows me tonight, filled with horror and delight' (Dark Star), 'God made me ugly' (Stop), 'Will someone, somewhere marry me' (To You). Perhaps the forced cheerfulness on children's TV had taken its toll or more likely he was disappointed in life and love.

But listening back to You, Me and the Alarm Clock for the first time in years, it's not quite simple as that - it's not all sweetness and light. The world is 'bruised black and blue' (Black and Blue) people are 'down in the ditch with no hope of a cure' (Tearing it Down) and he's 'stumbling through small life nowhere England' (Junk Culture).

At the time of recording the EP, he says he was 'living in a caravan on the edge of an industrial estate, delivering silicon-based mastics by day and drinking at night'.

On the sleevenotes, he adds: "I felt full of hope and aware of traps and these I see now were the themes of this record. They still are the themes of many of my more recent songs."

So why is this EP so special? (It's sometimes described as a mini-LP, but mini-LP always sounds cheapskate or reminds me of the tawdriness of mini-bars).

First of all the voice - instantly recognisable, both tender and strong, and also very northern. You can't hide the accent of the lad from Hyde on words like 'lumps'.

Second, the lyrics - lovely rhymes and memorable phrases. My favourite is on Tearing It Down: "She left me a reminder of a world she left behind her/ An overcoat, a coffee cup, an old horsehair bookbinder" Horsehair bookbinder? I don't think I've ever seen one but the lines sum up wistfulness and lost love and there’s also an ace triple rhyme.

Next, the delivery - it's difficult to make voice and guitar sound distinctive but by varying the sound of the guitar and emphasising certain phrases, John does it. He's never predictable.
So, it’s the best EP since The Beatles. Scratch that, You, Me and the Alarm Clock is simply the greatest EP.

Jul 12: The greatest magazine, The Word, is departing and I have to admit the news saddened and shocked me in the same way as hearing about John Peel's death.

The Word covered music, films, books and TV but avoided the endless retreads of The Beatles/Woodstock/Dylan/West Coast hippie shite in Mojo (Jimi Hendrix lived in Ringo Starr's house in London, you say? Ooh you haven't mentioned that for a couple of issues Mojo).

The Word talked about appealing to the bloke who spent £50 on CDs and although the majority of its staff and readers were men, it never felt exclusively blokey (my favourite writer was Jude Rogers). If it was a men's mag, it was head and shoulders above the competition - for the younger gentleman, the finger-in-the-mouth models and the let's-revel-in-our-stupidity lads mags; for the seasoned gent, dry, dull articles for rich, vain, Tory salesmen - Hugo Boss articles for the ruling boss classes.

Best of all, The Word found new angles on familiar subjects (Paul du Noyer on Brian Epstein for example) or interviewed an eclectic mix of people from radio, TV, film or music that just weren't covered anywhere else (David Rodigan, in the July issue for example). It shamed the Sunday papers which are becoming increasingly bland and samey.

The Word looked like having the perfect formula for surviving in the digital age. Thanks to its writers and subjects, it wasn't just a magazine, it had a personality that attracted a devoted following in the same you'd follow a football or rugby club, although I sometimes thought the magazine was more adventurous and less conservative than the readers' blog which, for example, predictably upped any articles mentioning The Beatles. Indeed, although the blog could be funny and interesting and the writers I've met in person and on Twitter are the same, most of the most popular articles have a whimsical and/or sentimental style at odds with the magazine.

Circulation of The Word was down 5% year-on-year to 25,000 and editorial director David Hepworth blamed its closure on 'dramatic changes in the media and the music business' which made it 'more difficult for a small independent magazine to survive'.

In a later article, Hepworth said the way at which the speed that the news spread about the magazine's closure, via Twitter and Facebook, meant 'you can't publish magazines, or indeed anything, the way you once did'.

I wonder if he was as surprised as I was by one of the readers' blogs which showed that most people no longer bought a print version of a newspaper or only got it at weekends. 

Hepworth obviously didn't want to string things out - no appeal to readers asking if they would they pay more for it (many would have, I suspect) or a Radio 6-style 'Save the Word' campaign. Indeed, he sounded rather weary about the whole thing.

On the reaction to the closure: "The words of tribute were kindly meant but sometimes over the top." (Spoken like a plain-speaking Yorkshireman! I think he was born in Dewsbury)

And: "I don't yearn for the old days. I think the new wide open media world is more interesting and fun than the old one."

And yet... recently, when I was in Record Collector, Sheffield, (a record shop, yes I know, another victim of the changing music industry) there were SIX free entertainment newspapers and magazines - three 'nationals' (Loud and Quiet, The Fly and Stool Pigeon) and three for Sheff and South Yorks (Toast, Exposed and the wonderfully-named Now Then). All well-established and packed with ads. And, according to The Guardian, there is a boom in such independent magazines.

But they don't just have to free. Rugby league magazines League Weekly and Forty 20 are celebrating their 10th and first anniversaries respectively. Forty 20 is particularly classy, its writers and choice of subjects give it a distinctive personality, like The Word.

I think management in newspapers and magazines are giving up on print too easily. They've dismissed new media outfits like eBay in the past and now, because they've had their fingers burnt, they believe everything new media is right.

But there is clearly a need and love for print, however smart a phone gets. Finding what you want to read in a paper or magazine is always easier than finding it on a website and it's just more convenient. Websites are great for sports scores and pithy comments but you need print to wallow in a subject.

And there is still money in print - according to Patrick Smith, editor of The, one Johnson weekly paper, for example, is making £51,000 a month profit.

Sadly, the free market yet again restricts choice. Newspapers and magazines are desperately chasing an under 30s audience and their advertising market so it's the same narrow range of subjects and tone when they should be looking for something different.

Rugby league coverage, for example, is becoming more marginalised, despite bigger attendances, and so is the sport itself.

The Word and Bradford Bulls rugby league team to go within a few days of each other? What a depressing prospect in our increasingly bland world.

The new Word blog, admirably made by Dr Volume, Brookster and other readers, is called The Afterword

MONOCHROME SET: Band on the Wall, Manchester
Apr 12: Unique, underrated, ahead of their time. Yes you've heard it before, but in the case of The Monochrome Set it's all true. 

A deadpan posh singer with a memorable turn of phrase is backed by insanely catchy riffs that could come from a Herb Alpert LP or a collection of surfing instrumentals.

Too quirky for the 80s, they have more in common with bands like Divine Comedy, St Etienne and Belle and Sebastian.

The band reformed last year, with three long-standing members - Bid, Lester Square and Andy Warren - have a new LP, Platinum Coils, and it appears little has changed.

New songs like Waiting for Alberto (Great line: 'Bananas make me ill') and Cauchemar sit well with classics such as Jet Set Junta, The Ruling Class and Monochrome Set.

Bid looked like a blissed out Ian McShane although the lyrics on the new LP mention nurses and medical terms.Has he been ill?

Guitarist Lester Square, with his moustache/mutton chop combo, appeared ready to bat with WG Grace.

The band were a little louder than they needed to be for the venue but it was great to see such an original band on good form.

Jan 12: I've been lucky to attend three weddings over the past 12 months - lucky because once I hit 40 I doubted I'd ever go a wedding again.

They've all been a real treat. I've enjoyed the ceremonies far more than I did in my surly twenties and the nosh seems to have got even better over the last 20 years.

But what I particularly enjoyed was the dancing.

It brought back a lot of memories of shaking a tailfeather in clubs and uni - the wait for the right tune to hit the floor so you don't peak too early (Lovecats is ok, but Teenage Kicks might be on soon), the adaptation of the indie shuffle to any tune (move feet and arms a bit, look at floor), the attempt at Hairspray-esque dances to anything from the fifties or sixties, and dancing for the first time to promising newcomers such as the fancy dress chanteuse Lady Gaga.

It made me think - where can the over-40s have a bit of a bop these days?

There are house parties, of course, but there's a danger of trampling over small children or knocking over treasured ornaments with an over-enthusiastic, Morrissey-esque flourish of the arms.

I've been thinking of going to a Belle and Sebastian night, but fear, even here, an old duffer like me will have alice bands and cardigan buttons flung at me by the fey hordes.


Aug 11: Break out your cardigan, thrash your guitar and look downtrodden after catching your partner having an affair - it's a David Gedge festival in Holmfirth.

Starting with his band Cinerama and ending with his main band the Wedding Present, the festival also features Darren Hayman and the Secondary Modern and other bands in Holmfirth. (Gedge and Hayman pictured, from Weddoes website)

After the success of 'At The Edge Of The Sea' festival in Brighton last year, the Wedding Present main man has organised ‘At The Edge Of The Peaks’ at The Picturedrome, on August 29, from 3pm.

Other bands confirmed for David’s indoor one-day mini-festival are:

Summer Camp [Electronica]
Pinky Piglets [A 'crazy all girl rock band' from Japan]
Silvermash [shoegazy, featuring Graeme Ramsay from The Wedding Present]
Dirty Fingernails [90s alt-rock, featuring Charles Layton from The Wedding Present]
Stars Down To Earth [featuring Pepe le Moko from The Wedding Present]
Precious Few [A minimalist duo from Germany]
French Soul Party

May 11: How do you link Compo and Nico? Well, according to the Holmfirth Film Festival, Last of the Summer Wine actor Bill Owen attended a memorial service for the Velvet Underground singer in St Johns Church, Upperthong, near Holmfirth.

It sounds like a Wikipedia spoof, but, the organiser of this festival event celebrating the films and music of Nico said the service did take place at St Johns as Nico loved walking in the hills around Upperthong and Holmfirth. He couldn’t confirm if Bill Owen was there, unfortunately, but it didn’t really matter - this unlikely tribute, in the same church where Nico’s service was held, was well-conceived and memorable.

Local musicians sat at the front of the church, flanked by two screens, one showing Fellini’s La Dolce Vita in which Nico appeared, the second showing stills and films from her modelling and singing career featuring her beautiful stern face (she would have been the very last person to whom you would have said: 'Cheer up love').

A stained glass window was behind the musicians and films were projected onto it. The church was decorated with silver balloons in a nod to Warhol’s Factory.

The setting emphasised the bleakness and beauty of Nico’s music. As Michael Massey sang Janitor of Lunacy, darkness was falling outside and the shadows from the bobbing balloons took on a sinister turn. The lyrics of the song were like some sermon without hope.

By contrast, Catrin Morris, ably accompanied by guitarist Steven, captured the delicacy of songs such as I’ll be your Mirror and These Days in the performance of the night - her beautiful voice raising the spirits.

Feb 11: The Wedding Present have been running Bank Holiday festivals in Brighton for the past couple of years - now they are starting one in Holmfirth.

‘At The Edge Of The Peaks’ will take place at the Picturedrome on August 29, from 3 to 10pm. Cinerama and The Wedding Present are playing.

The Brighton event sold out last year and was a huge success.

Three other bands have already confirmed - Silvermash (“Shoe-gazey indie-grungers” from Eastern Scotland featuring The Wedding Present’s Graeme Ramsay) and Dirty Fingernails (a "90s alt-rock inspired" North London quartet featuring The Wedding Present's Charles Layton). Precious Few from Germany will be playing in the acoustic room on both nights.

A limited number of ‘early-bird’ tickets have been made available for both events at the reduced price of £15. See Weddoes website

Feb 11: There are some real blog gems out there (see list on the right) and one of my favourites is Dusty7's which is celebrating its fourth birthday.

The blog has unearthed some wonderful Northern Soul, R&B, doo-wop, ska and easy listening classics, many of which, I'm ashamed to say, I haven't heard.

There are some wonderful photos too - some chronicling forgotten corners of London - while the almost punctuation-free writing gives the blog a unique voice, reminding me of a Kenneth Williams character on Round The Horne desperate to recount a story.

Shame beer and pub blogs can't show a bit more originality in presentation and content. I'm getting increasingly bored of the same old blokey blogs swapping the same arcane bits of information.

Anyway, here are some of my favourite toons from Dusty 7.

Marvelettes - Here I Am Baby

Doris - Did You Give The World Some Love Today?

The Dells - Wear It On Our Face

The Esquires - Get On Up

The Voices of East Harlem - For What It's Worth

Pat Bowie - Feeling Good

Tyrone Davis - Turn Back The Hands of Time

Carmen McRae - Exactly Like You

Patti Jo - Make Me Believe In You

Blossom Dearie - Like Someone I Love

Deidre Wilson Tabac - The Other Side Of Life

Ben Sidran - About Love

Ellen McIlwaine - Toe Hold

Sugar Pie Desanto - Soulful Dress

August 10: You can rent David Gedge's apartment in Santa Monica, California (see Weddoes' website) - an incongruous location for a man whose songs seem to evoke steamed-up northern boozers where couples argue over dying relationships.

Mr Gedge ('Call me Mr Gedge or David', he tells a heckler who calls him Gedge) is relishing being back in Yorkshire, quipping that Brassneck doesn't that sound the same when it's sung by southern audiences ('Brarrsneck').

The track kicks off a performance of the entire second LP, Bizarro, 21 years after it was released.

Even though the band have been touring the LP in America since April and will be playing it again in Europe later this year, this gig, one of two festival warm-ups, was not billed as a Bizarro night, so it was an unexpected treat when Gedge announced the band would be playing the LP in full.

As he said in an interview with Magnet website earlier this year, Bizarro takes the original idea of the Wedding Present — playing songs as fast and for as long as possible — to its logical conclusion.

Before this year the songs had never been played back to back and he told Magnet that rehearsals have been like training sessions for a marathon. If it was a struggle, it didn't show, with magnificent rhythm guitar thrashes and Gedge's lovely barking voice woe-ing and pleading with another woman who was about to leave him.

It's odd that the song that gets everyone singing, Kennedy, has such un-Weddoes lyrics 'Lost your look of life, too much apple pie'

Sadly I missed support band Cinerama (same personnel, different instruments) and while a couple of new Weddoes songs were languid by comparison with the Bizarro set, this was a wonderful night with Gedge (sorry Mr Gedge) on good form, batting off a marriage proposal from a male fan and resisting George Best requests.

Some great videos from the gig on YouTube

Aug 10: "We took the original idea of The Wedding Present — namely, to play songs as fast and for as long as possible — to its logical conclusion." That's how David Gedge describes The Wedding Present's second and arguably greatest LP, Bizarro, which the band are playing in its entirety in Britain later this year.

In April he told US-based Magnet Magazine that his was idea to play the whole LP live after the success of replaying debut LP George Best live in 2007. But he admits Bizarro is more of a challenge because of its longer songs.

And no wonder - with songs like the relentless Kennedy, with its hectic Velvetsy What Goes On guitar.

Bizarro will be played at the Leadmill, Sheffield on November 18, York on December 5 and Manchester on December 10.

Here's how Kennedy sounded in Austin, Texas, in June

GENIUS! Jul 10: Another Word tip-off, via DrakeyGirl on the magazine's blog. This is a hilarious take-off of Jay Z's New York - Newport (State of Mind). It's hard to do this well but this is spot-on. Made by one of Goldie Looking Chain I think. I love that nasally slightly harsh Newport accent. The D-V-to the L-A STANLEY ODD Jul 10: Discovered this band via Word magazine CD - Scottish hip-hop, funny lyrics, great voices, funky as fork. Band name is slightly misleading - reminds me of comedy folk band. You've got to love a band who rhyme Veronica and harmonica Stanley Odd on MySpace YOUTUBE GEMS Apr 30: I've come across some fabulous YouTube videos recently, only one of which I've seen before. First up it's Tom Jones and Janis Joplin in a leather-lunged, hip-shaking, organ-grinding (Hammond not Tom) shout-off from 1969. Great dancing on this one too - The Slits' Ari-Up prances like Bob Mortimer in Typical Girls Forgotten how good The Revillos were (and how lovely Fay is) One of John Shuttleworth's funniest - a tribute to Betty Turpin. ('We see Betty Turpin/Only when she's workin') It's time to take it right down now and a fabulous version of Pale Blue Eyes (better than the original?) which I remember seeing on telly about 20-plus years ago. Edwyn Collins on guitar, Paul Quinn on vocals SONG I CO-WROTE ON 'ALBUM IN A DAY' CD Apr 10: Last month I took part in Huddersfield Literature Festival's Album In A Day project and I provided lyrics to the first song on the project's CD.
The idea was that anyone could come along with their lyrics, or have two hours to create their own lyrics, and musicians had three hours to come up with a tune. The musicians then performed the songs live and their performances were recorded. It was a great day (and evening) and I can honestly say there wasn't a duff song on the 10-track Texts and Love and Mortal Soul CD, so all credit to the musicians, organisers (and lyricists!). Most people opted to write their own lyrics in an afternoon, using a Leonard Cohen song, where he writes a letter to a lover, as a springboard for ideas and structure. I tried this but I wasn't satisfied with what I'd written and used lyrics I'd brought along, Keep Your Chin Up. Here are the lyrics: Put your feet up Let your hair down Keep your chin up Keep your nose clean Go bananas In your ‘jamas Let’s be flighty In our nighties Don’t be headstrong Lovely Goolagong You’re the kingpin Billie-Jean King Watch your ice creams Or they’ll Meltham Sexy undies Here in Thongsbridge You’re the bees-knees With your Red Stripe Love you truly Ossett Brewery Hanky-panky Feeling swanky Aga saga If you’d rather Do watusi It’s a doozy Mashed ‘potater’ See ya later I originally had about three other verses and repeated the first verse at the end, but I was advised to choose the strongest verses and make the first verse into a chorus with an extra couple of lines. All 10 lyricists were asked what type of music they wanted to accompany their lyrics before the 10 musicians beavered away at a tune. I had The Fall's Container Drivers in mind, but I had no idea how the song would turn out until musician (and event organiser) Dave Gill struck up the first chords in Sleepers Bar, Huddersfield. I think his arrangement works really well. To listen to the song, click on the link. Keep your chin up The album is not on general sale but festival organisers may sell a few copies. SCAREMONGERS' HOMETOWN GIG March 10: Simon Armitage is a reluctant frontman. He's either shoe-gazing, looking weary or singing side-on to his wife and co-singer 'Speedy Sue'. Lugubrious? He makes Jonathan Meades look like Graham Norton. But he has reason to look po-faced. The sound for The Scaremongers' first hometown gig at Bar 1:22, Huddersfield is a bit ropey - one guitarist in the eight-piece battles against feedback, the other fights to be heard, while Armitage's vocals - soft, undeniably Yorkshire and distinctive as his lyrics - drift in and out. The band don't appear until 10.45pm by which time half the audience have left, leaving less than 100 people in the regulation black-walled bar. Mind you, most of the crowd had talked their way through support act Old Man Pie and some of them were still gabbing through the quiet moments in The Scaremongers set. You’d think the quiet songs would best suit a poet in a band, but it’s the full-on numbers, involving all the slick band, that showcase their talents and prove this isn’t just a vanity project for Armitage. When it all comes together The Scaremongers are wonderful, honorary members of the class of C86 with echoes of The June Brides and The Brilliant Corners. Derailleur, about cycling and the ring road next to the bar, sounds like James's Sit Down, while You Can Do Nothing has a magnificent sing-a-long chorus: ‘Humberside is Yorkshire still, Lancashire is over the hill, loneliness is Gaping Gill’ The Scaremongers on MySpace BLACKPOOL - BRILLIANT! Jan 10: No, not the dayglo vomit of a town, the brilliant BBC series which myself and the lovely P have just got round to watching only six years after it was first on (don't expect cutting edge hipster stuff on this blog). It's an intriguing murder mystery, a heartfelt love story and, on two or three occasions in each episode, the characters sing and dance along with top tunes, from Jimmy Cliff to The Smiths. It also has three compelling characters - slot machine owner played by David Morrissey (a cross between Elvis and Bradley Hardaker from Brass), his wife Sarah Parish and David Tennant playing the copper investigating a murder in the arcades and lover of Parish's character. I could watch Morrissey and Tennant in anything, they are so compelling. Tennant shows no signs of the Norman Wisdom gurning that blighted his later Dr Who episodes. I'd never seen Parish before but I was really impressed - she's got a great, expressive face. As for the musical interludes, at first they are so surprising they are comical, but then you're keen to see the next one - they complement the story perfectly. The writer is Peter 'Occupation' Bowker. Buy it or rent it! HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT - PAINTBALL'S COMING HOME (ALTERNATIVE VERSION) Jan 10: I'm behind the times again (see above) with this alternative version of one of Half Man Half Biscuit's greatest songs, Paintball's Coming Home, which nails the conformity of a dull couple. The lyrics are almost completely different, for example: 'They buy soup in cartons, not in tins' instead of 'They know where things are, at B&Q' New version: Old version: For more on Half Man Half Biscuit, see below PUB JUKEBOX ETIQUETTE Nov 09: When you're in a boozer, do you chose exactly what you want on the jukey, or is your choice affected by other customers in the pub, or what time/day it is? Do you even become a bit of DJ and chose a selection that goes well together? I was in the Rat and Ratchet, Huddersfield, the other day. It was almost deserted and I fancied some tunes. An old bloke sat next to me just as the Velvets' What Goes On came on. He supped up and buggered off sharpish and I felt a bit guilty. Was it the music? I must say I tend to be a bit self-conscious about who's around when I make a selection on the jukey. If it's Friday teatime, I avoid mournful Smiths and Johnny Cash numbers for an upbeat Kinks/Stones/Blondie/Specials/Undertones/Pulp mix. If it's quiet and there's only a couple of old fellas in there, especially if they look like Camra fundamentalists who hate jukeboxes, it's Dean Martin/Patsy Cline. And when some young 'uns have put a bit of Green Day on, I think in my condescending, middle-aged way: 'Mmm, but have you heard this?' and it's Homicide by 999 or The Adverts' Gary Gilmore's Eyes. I hate it when someone puts a whole Steely Dan, album on - you can't be totally selfish unless the pub's deserted. If it is, then it's time to put on Kennedy by The Weddoes and don't spare the horses. Is it just me? THE SCAREMONGERS Aug 09: I must admit when I heard Simon Armitage had his own indie band, The Scaremongers, I feared the worst. But they are wonderful.

I like his poetry and prose, he seems like a decent fella in the papers and on telly, and, of course, he's from Marsden, but reuniting with your guitar playing chum from 20 years ago in the full glare of the national media, with the Culture Show filming your first gig?

 And despite Armitage being a down-to-earth chap, poets and guitar music sum up visions of polo-neck beatniks sitting in rocking chairs reciting while a guitarist reaches a fretwank climax in a squall of feedback. The Scaremongers combine the best of C86y June Brides/Brilliant Corners/Wedding Present, with more than a whiff of The Smiths.

 Armitage has a lovely nasally drizzly voice, bringing his West Yorkshire vowels to the fore - 'rose' sounds like 'rows'. It's reassuringly northern - the 'rose dies behind the shed', is one line. There's a mention of gable ends and corduroy, Castle Hill and Lancashire being 'over the hill' (something he's mentioned in prose writing).

 Plus there's the only song about the sprocket-activated, variable-ratio transmission system frequently deployed on the modern bicycle - Derailleur. Some of the songs betray their origins from 20 years ago - longing for Cardigan Girls could only be written in the prime of twenty-something speccy awkwardness.

The Scaremongers first LP, Born in a Barn, is out on Corporation Pop, although it's a bugger to get hold of - Piccadilly Records in Manchester didn't have the band on their computer system and the two record shops in Huddersfield didn't have copies of the LP. Scaremongers on My Space
MANCHESTER PROCESSION July 09: I thoroughly enjoyed the Manchester Procession, part of the city's international festival, a mixture of traditional floatees, such as beauty queens, and quirky ones, like the tribute to Happy Mondays LP Bummed.

 In the wake of the BNP's election victories and its narrow-minded, conformist agenda, it was great to see such a mix of people, straight and gay, white and Asian, young and old.

You could say there were a few northern cliches, such as chips and mills, but the parade covered such a wide-range of topics and people who never usually take part in such jamborees - smokers, Big Issue sellers, World of Twist fans - that it didn't matter. And after all we are in the north and what's wrong with celebrating chips, especially when we're constantly nagged not to eat them?

 Artist Jeremy Deller's had the idea for the procession, although he was more like a producer - he didn't make the floats or banners. The Bummed bit made me chuckle, with its Rendering That Scaffolding Dangerous banner, and an enthusiastic woman armed with maracas. Perhaps they should have had someone dressed as Mad Cyril or some Fat Lady Wrestlers.

Thank goodness they didn't reproduce the racy inner sleeve. There was also a tribute to World of Twist who made one of the greatest singles, The Storm. Again just a banner - but it was a nice touch. There were wreathes in hearses for great lost buildings of the region - the Hacienda, Wigan Casino and Corn Exchange.

 My favourite float was Adoration of the Chip, an all-singing all-dancing tribute to the first ever fish and chip shop in Oldham. More pics

  STEVEN TAKE A BOW June 09: He had a unique talent, made his name in the 80s and was loved around the world - never mind Michael Jackson, Steven 'Seething' Wells, ranting journalist extraordinaire, has died of cancer at the age of 49.

And the last words of his last column, published a day before Jacko died, were from a Jackson 5 song: "Me? I blame it on sunshine. I blame it on the moonlight. I blame it on the boogie."

The column, submitted 11 days before Wells died, was published in the Philadelphia Weekly, the city where he ended his days. In 2006, he was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma and appeared to be in remission, but in January he was diaganosed with enteropathy-associated T-cell lymphoma.

 He recounted his treatment in the Weekly and also wrote sports columns in the Guardian website, but he made his name on the NME, with his passionate, opinionated, argumentative, contrary, relentless, hilarious articles. There appeared to be on self-doubt - everything was in black and white, no umming and arring, sentences tumbling over each other. It was like walking into the teeth of a gale on the end of Whitby Pier. And he wasn't afraid to challenge the untouchables. He was the journalist who gave a cogent and believeable argument about racist overtones in Morrissey's work that has dogged the singer ever since. He challenged the Happy Mondays at the height of their popularity about their homophobia. And even with bands like Chumbawumba, with whom he had an obvious affinity, he wasn't afraid to confront them about joining EMI, and reminded them that they had slagged off New Model Army for doing the same a few years earlier. On a lighter note, when I think of Bjork I always think of her puffin eating because of Wells' interview with her. Wells continued to lambast Morrissey throughout his career, perhaps because The Truculent One, with his mannered quips, deadpan demeanour, pompous air and apolitical views, was everything he was not. Here's Wells on why he thought Morrissey should be England manager (Guardian, 2007): "There will be those who object to this choice, claiming that the Lord Voldemort of pop knows nothing of this most English of sports. But it is they who are ignorant. Morrissey is steeped in English football lore. He reeks of Woodbines, meat pies, wintergreen, Watneys Red Barrel and Brut. "Morrissey's best qualification for becoming England manager is that he lives in a fusty fantasy world concocted out of Ealing comedies, Keith Waterhouse columns, Alan Bennett monologues, black and white kitchen sink dramas and the films of George Formby. "He is thus at the exact same stage of emotional and cultural development as the hardcore of "real" England fans, who complain bitterly about how it were all real working-class English blokes around here once - before they ruined it by letting in women and other non real working-class English bloke types. "Being England" will take on a new, deeper, Englisher meaning. All of Wembley - the buildings, the grass and the staff - will be spray-painted various shades of grey. Comically too small demob suits will be compulsory. As will round NHS spectacles held together in the middle with a sticky plaster. "There will be complimentary Brilliantine dispensers in the gents toilets (there will be no ladies toilets). Non-smoking will be discouraged. All policing will be done by a single laughing bobby on a white horse. And catering vans will dole out spotted dick with custard for one shilling and sixpence to crowds kept entertained at half-time by the massed ranks of a brilliantly choreographed ukulele-strumming and morris-dancing marching band."

He probably stayed on too long at the NME (and I carried on reading it too long) when it stopped being political or funny and started swooning at anyone with a racy haircut who went to the same London pubs as the journos. You only have to look at the awful tribute on the NME website, cobbled together by a current writer, most of which is all about him and not Wells: "The sheer weight of articulating what his words meant to me has almost ruined me."

It's, like, so unfair. Wells was born in Swindon, moved to Bradford as a kid, and began performing poems as Seething Wells, supporting bands like The Fall. In the 90s, besides his journo work he wrote a novel, made rock videos and wrote TV comedy with fellow NME-er David Quantick (Day Today). I always thought Wells would go on and do Charlie Brooker/Jon Ronson-type shows on TV but his writing was still brilliant.

Here he is in the Philadelphia Weekly in 2008 on knitters, a seemingly innocent target that you'd think he might be sympathetic about. "Giving local-geography fascists a good run for their money in the hysterical overreaction stakes are Philadelphia's legions of extremely sensitive and appallingly badly dressed knit-Nazis. Boy do they get pissed if you write rude things about them. "I should stress here that knit-Nazis are in no way like real Nazis (apart from being really touchy and big fans of the films of Leni Riefenstahl). I use the term because it's an astute parody of the way the crafts most associated with brain-dead, soul-destroying pre-feminist housewifery - knitting, beading, stitching and crocheting--have been re-packaged and successfully sold to smugster sheep as radical, alternative and edgy. "I have two books on my desk right now, both pushing the strange idea that twiddling about with bits of wool is totally punk rock. And they're just the tip of a huge knitted iceberg. There are entire sections containing metric shit-tons of these knit-Nazi manuals in every book barn in America. "First up there's Alter Nation. There's a rad-lookin', crazy blue-haired rebel chick on the cover alongside a boast that it contains 25+ DIY fashion projects. Be still my punky heart. "Then there's Anticraft, subtitled Knitting, beading and stitching for the slightly sinister. One can only assume they're using slightly here to mean not at all. And that anti is a misspelling of auntie. "Seriously, if you called housework antihousework, would that make it cool? If you anticleaned the kitchen after antichanging the kitty litter before antipicking your screaming brats up from school and antidropping them off at soccer practice before rushing home and nearly anti-overdosing on antidepressants so you can face clearing up the vomit your shit-faced alcoholic of an antihusband has puked all over the bathroom (while still finding time to knit an amusingly decadent antitoilet-roll cover) does that mean your lifestyle is somehow edgier and more interesting than that of your poor burnt-out-at-40, dead-by-50 great grandmother? "Put it this way, young goths: Vlad the Impaler didn't crotchet his own ear-flapped bobble hats. And neither should you. If you need a hobby, take up spitting." Many knitters (and Morrissey fans) were not amused by his articles, but what made him so good was that he often made a valid point but lathered it in completely over-the-top language to make it funny.

 Here he is on one of my favourite bands Belle and Sebastian: 'self-loving, knock-kneed, passive aggressive, dressed-up-in-kiddy-clothes, mock-pop-creepiness peddling, smug, underachieving, real-pop-hating no-talents celebrating their own inadequacy with music so white it’s translucent'. Wells's death has made an impression on me partly because he's only a few years older and I'm that age when I'm scanning obituary columns for ages and causes of death (just call me Cheerful Charlie). He reminds me of my youth and yet he has been able to contemplate his own mortality. He coul

d have bullshitted and gone out in a big two-fingers-to-cancer-religion-I-regret-nothing-fuck-you-Morrissey-bedwetters way, but this is how he did it in his final Philadelphia Weekly column: "Of course all this bollocks is written by an idiot who has polished his image as an existentialist, atheist hard-man and anti-mope, forever sneering at the tribes who wallow in self-pity - the gothers, the emo kids, the Smiths fans - the whole 900-block-wide marching band composed entirely of the white male urban middle classes who are convinced that (as the most affluent and pampered human beings who have ever walked the planet) theirs is a story worth hearing. Blissfully unaware that they are but a few generations away from regular visits to the doctor who would wind parasitic worms from their beer bloated assholes using sticks. "You could blame this fallacy on poor education, cultural deterioration, or simple moral decline. Me? I blame it on sunshine. I blame it on the moonlight. I blame it on the boogie." "There is a light that never goes out," as you know who once said.

Some other tributes: Billy Bragg: "The antithesis of the bonehead racist, he was in fact an articulate left-winger. And unlike the bullyboy, who only picks on those weaker than him, Swells chose to target the powerful, the popular, the hip and the cool. There was a time in the mid-’80s when the Smiths could do no wrong in the New Musical Express (NME). There were voices prepared to challenge this state of affairs, but only Swells could be relied upon to indulge in the merciless piss-taking of Morrissey, week after week. It comes as no surprise to learn that one of his last online columns for was a marvellous pin-pricking of the pomposity of Radiohead.
 "However, anyone who really knew him would tell you that, no matter how hard he tried to come across as the cynical hard-man, his love of humanity in all its shitty glory would always shine through. He was possessed of a self-effacing sense of humour that would often overcome him at the apex of some raging tirade, leaving him and anyone within earshot laughing at his overwrought hysteria.
 "He was at heart an iconoclast. Put anything on pedestal and Swells couldn’t resist taking a pot-shot at it. Nobody was spared. He was one of my earliest supporters in the music press, shared my idealism, yet continually referred to me in print as “Bilious Braggart,” even when he was praising my output.

 James Brown (Guardian): "It is, perhaps, fitting that in the week that the NME editor joined the BBC to develop the multi-platform brand of Top Gear magazine, the most political and confrontational NME writer of the late 1980s and early 1990s should die from cancer. Steven Wells, or Swells as we knew him, was the most impossible person to work with because he knew no form of compromise, had little true interest in music, was narrow-minded and his personal hygiene and dress sense left so much to be desired that the company nurse once appeared and ordered him to remove and burn his stain-covered tracksuit bottoms. Naturally all of this made him a provocative and popular NME writer. "As an NME writer, he was obsessed with class war, masturbation, dogs, cancer, Jello Biafra and the multiple use of the exclamation mark. His work was littered with it. Almost creating his own language. '(SUBS LEAVE THESE LAST THREE SENTENCES IN)' was a regular sentence in his copy.

 From Philadelphia Weekly: Kitty Empire (NME colleague): "I can't think of anyone more full of blood and bile and vim and mischief and rage and humour. Swells just should not be dead. It's just inconceivable. He was like a Tasmanian Devil of words."

 Mark Beaumont: "When I first started writing for NME, Swells would chastise me every time I wrote anything that wasn't extreme enough. "You don't 'open the door', you 'kick the door into a splintering heap and leap through spewing AK razor-fire', get it?" For him music journalism was all about over-statement, vitriol, attackattackattack. There's a new star in Heaven tonight, and it's kicking all the other stars in the bollocks for being mung bean-munching ning-nang-nong hippies and Bis fans."

Amanda Freeman: "Dear Swells. You romanced me for 5 years in the 90's. You wooed me with ranting punk poetry and flowers. You wouldn't let me listen to the Smiths in the house but then I wouldn't let you play Napalm Death so it seemed like a fair swop. I wanted to hug you and throttle you in equal measure but you were without doubt the most funny, inspiring and downright decent bloke one could wish to meet, a huge champion and defender of women in general and the only boyfriend my Mum still asks about. God bless you - although you'd hate me for saying that. RIP Swells"

Carol Freeman: "As mother of an ex girlfriend I'm so very very sad. Two hours partnering Swells playing some frightful Christmas game was an experience not to be missed. His quick mind and constant vitality though exhausting kept this aging brain cell in trim. His 'real self' was hugely endearing though he'd hate me saying so. Such talent and so lovely a man will be missed by all who knew him, not least his wife who I don't know but who must be devastated. You are in my thoughts right now as is Swells. I'm really really upset by this news. Go well." Everett True: Collection of tributes to Steven Wells Family and friends tribute site Pic: Philadelphia Weekly  

WORST COUNTRY AND WESTERN SONG TITLES May 09: Folks at work have found this brilliant site of 250 of the worst country and western song titles. Some are obvious spoofs but most are genuine. Here are my favourites: 1 Come out of the Wheatfield Nellie, You're Going Against the Grain 2 Don't Chop Any Wood Mother, I'm Comin' in With a Load! 3 Get Off The Stove Grandma, You're Too Old To Ride The Range 4 Did I Shave my Legs for This? 5 Hand me the Pool Cue and Call Yourself an Ambulance 6 He Went To Sleep and The Hogs Ate Him (Now Claude's Gone Forever) 7 I'm So Miserable Without You, it's Almost like Having you Here 8 I Changed Her Oil, She Changed My Life 9 At the Gas Station of Love, I Got the Self Service Pump 10 If Today Was a Fish, I'd Throw It Back In 11 Pardon Me, I've Been Pardoned 12 I Wanna Whip Your Cow 13 She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy 14 You Can't Roller Skate In A Buffalo Herd 15 You're The Reason Our Kids Are So Ugly 16 I'm Gonna Hire A Wino To Decorate Our Home. 17 Legendary Chicken Fairy 18 The Pint Of No Return 19 I Went Back to My Fourth Wife for the Third Time and Gave Her a Second Chance to Make a First Class Fool Out of Me 20 I Like Bananas Because They Have No Bones SWINGING GEDGE May 09: Imagine Frank Sinatra in his 50s swinging pomp but instead of "I get no kicks from champagne", it's "Why are you being reasonable now?", and instead of Frank it's the mighty David Gedge. Sounds impossible? Dreadful? Wedding Present The Chicken In A Basket Years? (as King Richard of Otley reckons) Don't believe a word - the combination of Gedge singing with the BBC Big Band in Leeds is brilliant! He modulates his familiar braying tones and really swings it - daddio! Brassneck  

INVENT YOUR OWN BAND NAME/LP COVER May 09: Pardon me for being drastically unhip, but this amusing internet game I'm about to explain was probably fashionable with the young and haircutted in the last century, so I'm in danger of being pooh-poohed by skinny hipsters in unnecessary sunglasses, but it's great fun: 1. Go to “wikipedia.” Hit “random… Read more” or click The first random wikipedia article you get is the name of your band. 2. Go to “Random quotations” or click The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album. 3. Go to flickr and click on “explore the last seven days” or click Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover. 4. Use photoshop or similar to put it all together. Here's mine: I'm thinking emo-y Oxford teenagers who thought the band name was, 'like, ironic' because they're not from Finland or social democratic, in fact they're not interested in politics and they're fed up of being judged for not going on student demos. It's like a form of prejudice, a higher grade of prejudice, in fact. For the music I'm thinking doomy, sorry-for-myself Mogwai-lite Here's the lovely Mrs P's: One 80-minute track from 'the Hawks', who are famed for dressing in monks cowls and having five guitarists who each play different tones of feedback. Blamed for inciting crazed gunmen at school massacres. Thanks to Dan for this. He runs this ace site MARK E SMITH READS THE FOOTBALL RESULTS March 09: Yes it did actually happen, on November 19, 2005, although he only read the repeat results at 540pm on digital TV. The Barnsley v Rotherham result has never sounded so good and he's more comfortable being interviewed by Ray Stubbs than by most people. (Ta for clip, Rich)  

LUX INTERIOR RIP Feb 09: When a well-respected musician snuffs it, you usually hear someone say: "Of course I saw them in '85 and it was the best gig ever" even though they haven't mentioned the gig before. Anyway I saw the Cramps at Manchester Hacienda in 1985 (it might have been '86) and it was the best gig ever. We got a great spot upstairs directly in front of the late Lux. It was so packed they were dragging fainting people out of the front rows. And the Cramps were magnificent - Lux treading a fine line between scary and daft. One moment sticks out. It's from this song, the Oo,ee,ah-ah song, or:

  • She Said
  • A bloke climbed onto one of the metal girders in front of the stage, spread his arms and Lux pointed at him and shouted: 'Jesus! That feels real good' and everyone cheered. Then he sang 'Oo ee ah-ah!' By the way, there's a Lux Interior Ltd in Macclesfield - they're kitchen designers. My favourite Cramps song: ARTISTE OF THE MONTH(JAN 2009) Jospehine Oniyama - wonderful deep Tracy Chapmanesque voice, backed by mix of skiffle, C86y bands, (90s band) Eat guitars
  • Josephine's MySpace site

  • ARTISTES OF THE MONTH (Sept 08) Best video of the month: Like my life story - lovelorn speccy fat blokes with Marks and Spencer V-necks and Woody Allen box-sets (one of the blokes in the vid actually looks like me!). It's Hey Boy, You're Oh So Sensitive by The Just Joans Best rhyme of the month -'Going to France/To see your underpants' from Tour Operator by joyous tra-la-la threesome All Girl Summer Fun Band
  • All Girl Summer Fun Band on MySpace
  • Autumn Defense: Fond of harmonies and intricate melodies - think Crosby, Stills and Nash without the hippy-drippyness or The Zombies in mellow moments. Involves a fella from Wilco/Uncle Tupelo.
  • The Autumn Defense on MySpace
  • Michael Rossiter: Voice, geetar, folky-blue in minor keys. It's been done so many times before, but this Leeds bloke does it better than most.
  • Michael Rossiter on MySpace

  • GIVING 'EM THE ELBOW July 08: Being old and in need of regular sleep and a comfortable toilet, I only watch pop festivals on the television these days. Wading through the bog standard indie on the TV - chirpy choruses, Knees Up Mother Brown guitars and echoes of third rate punk (hello Fratellis and Pigeon Detectives), the magnificent Elbow stood out a mile. As Elbow are northern, slightly overweight, scruffy and mates of I am Kloot, I've always warmed to them although never quite got into their music - until I heard their new single - One Day Like This - on Glasto TV. It features not one but two singalong choruses, Guy Garvey's magnificent vocal and some lovely lyrics which fit a Glasto sunset perfectly. HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT Britain's most sarcastic band May 08: There's a new LP out - CSI Ambleside - here's the titles and lines from the songs.  

    Evening Of Swing (Has Been Cancelled) "...outside the Gielgud a neon sign read, "Equus On The Buses" starring Mr. Ed..." Bad Losers On Yahoo Chess "...Deep Blue, in '97 I voted for you as Sports Personality of the Year - thought at least you'd get the Overseas..." Took Problem Chimp To Ideal Home Show "...Llewellyn Bowen, two Carols, go on Bobby, both barrels..." Ode To Joyce " hurts when I hear all the songs to Maria when we haven't really done with J... or K..." Blue Badge Abuser " day I know I'll have to face His wrath - a walk in hell for a walk-in bath..." Totnes Bickering Fair "...I'm gonna feed our children non-organic food..."  
    King Of Hi-Vis " safe, be seen, be anyone you like..." Lord Hereford's Knob "...Twmpa, Twmpa, you're gonna need a jumper..." On The 'Roids "....He used to lark with the dreads, now he's a nark on the ste'ds.." Petty Sessions "...I stick me big nose in when I go out, sealed-off car park - what's it all about?..." Little In The Way Of Sunshine "...I was 'Mr Wet Underpants' in '89, titled by accident more than design..."  
    Give Us Bubblewrap "...give us bubblewrap, and stick the Apple Mac in the car park..."  
    National Shite Day "...there's a man with a mullet going mad with a mallet in Millets..." From website, see below. BEST EVER SONG TITLES: 1 Outbreak of Vitas Gerulitis 2 99 Per Cent of Gargoyles Look Like Bob Todd 3 Dead Men Don't Need Season Tickets 4 We Built This Village on a Trad Arr Tune 5 Tending the Wrong Grave for 23 Years 6 13 Eurogoths Floating in the Dead Sea 7 Joy Divison Oven Gloves 8 Improv Workshop Mimeshow Gobshite 9 Paintball's Coming Home 10 The Len Ganley Stance If I was a linesman, I would execute defenders who applauded my offsides I went to see the Bootleg Beatles as the bootleg Mark Chapman 24 Hour Garage People Paintball's Coming Home Cammell Laird Social Club alternative LP titles: And you will know us by the trail of bread - The Ducks Charlie Drake sings Nick Drake James Alexander Gordon yodels Division 2 Crunchy the donkey brays Elgar Jack Charlton reads the Book of Job The Stooges of Humber - You're pretty face is going to Hull
  • Official Half Man Half Biscuit website

  • WEDDING SONGS - UPDATE May 08: The lovely P and I are getting hitched later this year and there are two vital things we've got to do - never mind frocks and vows, there's got to be real ale and top tunes! The ale is sorted and we've found a DJ who'll play what we want. We saw him when we went to a wedding in Manchester where the bride was dancing magnificently to The Stooges. So we've got 3-4 hours and we want people on that dancefloor straight away cos a lot of the time people wait for everyone else to dance and half the night's gone. So it's got to be all thrillers and no fillers - but how to get in all our favourites that are danceable and ensure we're not missing anything? We keep hearing great songs on the radio that we'd forgotten. Our pal Rosh lent us one of those Guinness chart books and then played a selection of lost classics (Bananarama and Blondie sounded fantastic). My favourite band is The Velvets and while it would great to have the 40 minute live version of Sister Ray/Foggy Notion, I don't think anyone else would. Neither would The Gift ('His head split gently in the morning sun, sending little rhythmic arcs of blood spurting'). But would people get up to What Goes On or Temptation Inside Your Heart? Is there a Half Man Half Biscuit danceable wedding song? 24 Hour Garage People for a singalong? And what about The Super Furry Animals? And Jonathan Richman? Some of our favourite joint songs from the Rat and Ratchet are inappropriate - Tempted (by the fruit of another) - Squeeze, and Something Better Change by The Stranglers. And I am Kloot? ('There's blood on your legs, I love you') So here's our rough guide -so far. Early 80s uni stuff (Smiths - Panic, Hang the DJ one), Bananarama (Robert de Niro, Na Na Hey Hey one, Really Saying Something) Violent Femmes - Gone Daddy Gone? Kiss Off? Bunnymen's Never Stop. A bit of Squeeze and Ian Dury. Cure's Inbetween Days would be a good opener to the whole shebang I reckon. Madchester - Mondays' Step On/Kinky Afro, Roses' I Am The Resurrection, Charlatans' The Only One I Know/Sproston Green. Plus, from the same era - Cud's Rich and Strange, Weddoes' Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft Britpop - Parklife/ Boys Who Like Girls - Blur, Wonderwall/Cigarettes and Alcohol - Oasis, Common People/Babies - Pulp Sixties - Stones Jumpin Jack Flash/Honky Tonk Woman/Can't Always Get What You Want. Georgie Fame - Yeh Yeh Easy Listening singalong? Green Green Grass of Home - Tom Jones, I Love You Baby - Andy Williams. Plus Catatonia Mulder and Scully/Thank The Lord I'm Welsh. Then there are a few stand-out songs - Brimful of Asha Cornershop, Groove is in the Heart, Edwyn Collins' Never Known a Girl Like You Before. Belle and Sebastan's got to be in there - Boy With The Arab Strap, I reckon There's got to be some Badly Drawn Boy in here as well for the lovely P...mmm. So are we missing anything? Any requests? WE'VE JUST THOUGHT OF: May 08: Sharp Dressed Man - ZZ Top (another Rat and ratchet jukey fave) It Must Be Love - Madness I'm a Believer - Monkees Bright Side of the Road - Van Morrison Perfect - Fairground Attraction Downtown - Petula Clark Hold Me Close Don't Let Me Go - David Essex (Last two for singalong section at end?) Pogues - Fiesta Love is the Drug - Roxy Superstition - Stevie Wonder Abba Lily Allen - LDN/Alfie Beach Boys - Surfin USA Beautiful South - 36D How Sweet It is To Be Loved by You - Temptations Respect - Aretha Dance to the Music - Sly and the Family Stone Movin on up/Loaded - Primal Scream Lust for Life - Iggy Praise You - Fatboy Slim Take Me Out - Franz Ferdindand Suffragette City - David Bowie A bit of punk - Undertones/Buzzcocks We've also had some eighties input from some pals so it looks like I'm going to be at the bar when the following's on: Duran Duran (Reflex, Rio), ABC, Wham, Prince (Alpahbet St) plus Don't Stop Moving by S Club 7 (sigh), Can't Get you out of my head - Kylie, Music - Madonna 
     SOME NEW SUGGESTIONS June 08: Richard, King of Otley, has suggested Len Ganley Stance for the Half Man Half Biscuit tune. I'm thinking Light At the End of The Tunnel would be a good hoe-down dance chance. Dan says how about Tainted Love, Reward (Teardrop Explodes)and Aztec Camera? Liking the sound of the last two. Barry White also sounded fabulous sung by a great singer in a pub in Halsall, West Lancs  
    The wit and wisdom of Mark E SmithApr 2008: OK, he's bit of a miserable bugger with a chip on his shoulder and attracts a lot of uncritical male fans (like The Smiths and Half Man Half Biscuit), but he's one of the few famous people who's stayed true to himself over the years and he's hilarious. Here's a few quotes from his autobiography, Renegade, from The Guardian. Sex The older I get, the more I remember things my dad used to say to me, things like, "If you're feeling too sexy, have a glass of water and a run round the backyard." Why he sacked Mark Riley He was getting out of hand - wanting to do Totally Wired twice a night, playing Container Drivers with his cowboy hat. Footballers Beckham and Lampard look like they've just got ready for bed after polishing off their mam's supper on a Sunday night. Madonna Spending two million sampling Abba's Gimme, Gimme, Gimme. What's the point? If you spent a week working at it you could whistle a tune as good as that. It's not just her, though, they're all bone idle. Smoking I'm annoyed by the lack of smoking on TV. We should have more ashtrays on morning TV, and presenters wheezing. Dinner party chez Smith I only have three chairs in the house: one for the wife, one for me, and one for a guest. No more. One guest at a time - that's my philosophy. You don't want your house turning into a hippy commune. StudentsThey've all got foppy fringes Pic: Me 
     ARTISTE OF THE MONTH - LIONHEART BROTHERS March 08: Joyous tunes with a psychedelic tinge - '50 Souls and a Discobowl' sounds like Belle and Sebastian, 'Lead me to the waters' is a little bit Spiritualized. The Brothers are from Norway and are at the Night and Day, in Manchester, on March 31.
  • My Space site

  • FEATURED ARTISTES I'm not listening to enough new stuff so I decided to track down what's on at the Night and Day, in Manchester, the Brudenell and Packhorse, both in Leeds, (who are all good at showcasing interesting new stuff) and myspace them. So here's my favourites for November 07: Sky Larkin Leeds based but with a poshish woman singing, they remind me of Sleeper.
  • My Space site
  • Jim Bianco - thankfully no relation of Mat, more a cousin of Tom Waits, with some swing/blues slowies. You can imagine him playing at 3am in a New York bar.
  • Jim Bianco
  • Sons and Daughters - echoes of choppy post punk chords of Fire Engines and Josef K with some lovely Glaswegian vocals.
  • My Space site

  • THE LANCASHIRE HOTPOTSSpoofing awful Lancs folk bands like The Houghton Weavers and Fivepenny Piece, with Fred Dibnah vocals and lyrics such as this (to the tune of the Okey-cokey): Oh no, he's turned emo He's dressin' like a goth and he's let himself go He used to be listening to Simply Red But now he's listening to Fall Out Boy instead
  • My Space site

  • EMILY DRUCE Face of an indie singer, voice like Memphis Minnie. May 08: Emily's new band - The Why and Wherefores - have got a myspace site and a few gigs coming up mainly in Lancs and Yorks.
  • My Space site
  • Oct o7: Emily has joined forces with the Yorkshire based Swing group 'Dizzy Fingers' to perform popular songs of the 30's and 40's and they've got a sold-out gig at Marsden Jazz Festival (and my mate tells me she's doing a version of Pale Blue Eyes. News from website, June 07: "Emily Druce and co-front man Steve Jones are in the throes of recording an album of original songs with their new band The Why & Wherefores. The Why & Wherefores plays cool contemporary blues, swinging all the way from roots to rockabilly. It's a dynamic five piece band featuring a tuba taking up the bass lines, a truly funky drummer, soaring lap steel, dirty, pretty guitar from Steve (plus vocals and harmonica) and gorgeous, gritty vocals from Emily(plus guitar, fiddle and mandolin) As well as recording at Touchwood Studios in Leeds, Bruce from Touchwood is recording a live set at The Albert in Huddersfield on Friday 27th July 2007.(entrance free !). The new album will be recorded by mid August and released in autumn 2007." Tunes:
  • Stony Road
  • from the Guilt Trip LP (2000)
  • Down on my knees
  • from New Day LP (2002)
  • Let's walk out
  • from Druce and Jones LP Songs from the silver band room (2004)
  • Official Emily Druce website

  • WEDDING PRESENT IN HOLMFIRTH May 07: I must have seen the Weddoes/Cinerama about 10 times since the late 80s but I wouldn't have gone to this gig if Richard, King of Otley hadn't asked me. The Weddoes' 'comeback' tour show at the Leadmill was such a disappointment and the new songs rather dull. That's the thing with the Weddoes, you can see them at a run of gigs and they're exhilarating or they get drearier and drearier at each gig. I'm glad I went to Holmfirth, this was one of the Weddoes' best gigs. It's only Gedge now and some young pups half his age - when I say 'only Gedge' it's a bit like saying only Mark E Smith in The Fall.

    Maybe I was a bit disappointed at the Leadmill gig that the original band hadn't got back together. Anyway Gedge is a lot more cheerful than he was at the Leddy and he's in blinding form, zipping through the set with his excellent band. His thick thatch is drifting towards V-shaped baldness, matched by the wilting quiffs and bald spots in the moshpit. The rest of us 30 and 40 somethings are resting our ageing limbs in the comfy former cinema's seats.

    The Weddoes' template is untouched. A man with a pleasingly braying voice (who occasionally looks like John Major's trendier younger brother) talks over his disappointment at catching his lover in bed with someone, or his longing for someone unobtainable, or the rather excellent sex he's been having. Meanwhile What Goes on by The Velvets is played at various speeds. There's a smattering of favourites from the last 20 years, including one Cinerama song, and two promising newies - one with the title What I Like Best About You is Your Girlfriend, which Gedge says is a classic 'Gedge' title although his drummer's told him it's the title of an old Specials song (I think he's right). Here's that song from the gig The Weddoes are on the up again and I won't need persuading to go to the next gig. UPDATE June 07: To mark the 20th anniversary of the release of George Best,the Wedddoes are playing the whole LP live and recreating the tour of the time (or as near as damn it) - Manchester Uni on October 26th, Liverpool Academy on 27th. Blurred cameraphone pic - Me.  
    MIK ARTISTIK'S EGO TRIP April 2007: There's a hard-looking bald man in a loud shirt singing "Gulliver..Gulliver" in front of the small crowd at the Zephyr Bar, in Huddersfield. He's staring straight ahead, unblinking. "Gulliver...Gulliver". There's a few nervous laughs - is he funny or scary? "Gulliver..Gulliver..he were a big lad." The place erupts.

    It's Mik Artistik and his band (or statement of life) Ego Trip. Think Brian Glover sings John Cooper Clarke and Half Man Half Biscuit and you're somewhere near. He compares himself to Wild Man Fischer and Charlie Chuck. He's a 52-year-old grand-dad from Armley and he's hilarious. 'Joyce Grenfell's teeth exploded in my face' is the title of one song. 'Sculpture Workshop' has the chorus 'Don't bring your son to the sculpture workshop, he copies what I do'.

    Another song is about finding a dipstick in Roundhay and deciding to build a car around it. 'Birdbath' is reworking of an old rock 'n' roll tune 'Birddog' - 'Johnny was a birdbath/He's a door'. And 'Turning into Dad' (to the tune of 'Walking in the Air') is a touching song about his Irish dad - 'He was a f***ing brute/He told me what to do/I didn't pay any attention and went to listen to Santana'. Halfway through the gig,

    I suddenly recognised him - he was the man who drew portraits on brown paper bags at the Grove Festival in Leeds about five years ago. He was also the man who got up on stage at this festival and sang 'Caught in your straps' to the tune of 'Caught in a trap' and 'My daughter sells shoes' (he said after the gig that this song was a one-off).

     According to the BBC, he's been gigging as a band since 2004 and the guitarist and bassist who backed him did a cracking job. He's done three LPs (I think), been an extra (on Phoenix Nights, he was one of the 'alternative' comedians) and a stand-up. He's at Glastonbury in June and in West Yorkshire pubs before. And he says he's not hard. Go and see him and buy his LPs
  • Mik's MySpace site

  • I'm Turning Into Dad  
    RETURN OF THE RHYTHM SISTERS Saturday, Saturday, Sunday, Sunday, Lazy Leeds afternoons March 07: Mandi and Debi Laek have announced the release of their third album 20 years after the first one - Road to Roundhay Pier. But goodness knows what they've been up to in recent years, there's nothing on their official or MySpace websites. I played the Roundhay Pier album death when it came out. The sisters' vocals were instantly recognisable and irresistible with memorable choruses backed by some acoustic, occasionally slide, guitar. They had also the winning combination of looking sultry and bolshy - and one of them wears specs, hurrah! The new LP's called Tell Me How Long The Boat's Been Gone and is supposed to be similar to Roundhay Pier. No gigs due.
  • Rhythm Sisters MySpace site

  • 'GLASTONBURY' DOESN'T COME TO HUDDERSFIELD May 2007: It's off! Organisers have decided to call it off before the licensing application went before council. Worryingly, council officers had given no recommendation either way and whingeing villagers had set up petitions complaining that the festival would be a cross between Altamount and a Viking raid when it would probably have been full of Bob Harris-types with pipes and slippers.March 2007 update: Huddersfield's answer to Glastonbury takes place in Farnley Tyas, near Honley, this summer with The Proclaimers, Badly Drawn Boy and The Levellers starring. Song07 is on July 27-29. On July 28 order of bands is Proclaimers, Badly Drawn Boy, Paul Brady, Duke Special, Holmes Brothers, Nizlopi and others. On July 29 it's Levellers, Seth Lakeman, Calexico, Cara Dillon, Chris Difford, Paul Burch, Thea Gilmore. £80 for whole shebang, £45 for Sat/Sun day tickets. No licence yet and 250 residents have signed a petition to oppose (traffic, noise blah-blah nimbys!)  
    BEST LPS OF 2006 Dec 2006: Word magazine did a great feature about Dadrock this year in which dads sneeringly dismiss their offspring's choice of music with phrases such as "of course this sounds just like Gang of Four from 25 years ago". I must admit I feel like that when I listen to My Chemical Romance (watered-down marchalong punk with added eyeliner) and even the Arctic Monkeys. So here's my Top 10 for this year. I have to confess it's the top 10 of all CDs I bought this year as I haven't heard enough decent new stuff - Hot Chip, The Raconteurs and Cat Power did nothing for me and Bob Dylan and Neil Young will always be crap.  

    1 Lily Allen - Alright Still: Feel a bit "getting down with the kids" about this one but her hilarious "bovvered" lyrics sung around some catchy ska riffs made this my favourite this year.

     2 Belle and Sebastian - Life Pursuit: Showed how patchy their previous LP (Dear Catastrophe Waitress) was. Songs on this LP ranked with the best of their early stuff.

     3 Meic Stevens - Disgwyl Rhywbech Gwell i ddod: The Welsh folk legend has been fined £500 today (December 15) for threatening to shoot a Pembrokeshire landlady. I bought this compliation of his early stuff (from 1968-1979) a few months earlier and it's fantastic - blues, folk, psychedelia, pub sing-a-longs and more formal choral stuff.

     4 Sparks - Hello Young Lovers: They creeped me out in the 70s but this was a revelation. Amusing songs based on repetitive riffs and lyrics ("Here Kitty, Kitty") which occasionally outstay their welcome.  

    5 Cud - Rich and Strange Anthology: Triumphant return for the Yorkshire band who were overshadowed by Madchester and Britpop.  

    6 Dominic E Collins - Canadian Geese Over Ancoats Skies: Compared mistakenly with Mike Harding, Dominic has a Manc-as-they-come voice, an acoustic guitar and songs about his local pie shop, among other things.  

    7 Zero 7 - The Garden: Two very different vocalists (Jose Gonzalez and Sia Farler) mean this album is divided into slow moody songs and quicker sing-a-long stuff.  

    8 Van Morrison - It's Too Late To Stop Now: I bought this 1974 live double after reading Johnny Rogan's critical biography of the grumpy maestro this year. This was one of the LPs Rogan recommended and he was right.  

    9 Arctic Monkeys - Whatever... Great lyrics and distinctive vocals lift this above the usual punk-lite tunes.  

    10 North by North West: Liverpool and Manchester bands of the late 70s/early 80s. The obvious choices plus some forgotten gems such as Blue Orchids' Work.  
    CUD-FATHERS Sept 2006: On the way to the Leeds Irish Centre to see the Cud band for the first time in 12-13 years, Radio 1's Zane Lowe (the most serious man ever) was bigging up some achingly trendy band called Tram, Tram, Tram (or something) and then played their song and it sounded like.. the Knack's My Sharona. And then I saw Cud. Knocking seven bells of shit out of all the angular-haired punk-funk retreaders from London or the US.

    Was Carl's voice up for it? Would new guitarist Felix fill the considerable boots (Hey Boots!) of the assistant headteacher from Tadcaster? Would the band gel like the greasiest Ted? Yes, yes and yes! Carl bellowed like a moose, holding a note like Pavarotti. Felix is the indie Jimi Hendrix and the band were tighter than a gnat's chuff. Starting with Purple Love Balloon they mixed their big hitters with some rarely played early stuff.

    There was a fantastic middle section featuring Love in a Hollow Tree, Hey Boots and Robinson Crusoe. Rumours that Carl had finally lived up to the fat bastard taunts were wide of the mark. He looked more Vegas Elvis than Johnny Vegas. He was having a great time as were the rest of the band and the audience who in Cud gig-style were dancing on stage. I'll never forget three blokes singing "Things get worse when you get older", from I've Had It With Blondes, looking like three butchers who'd owned a shop for 20 years.

    The four-song encore was a bit of wind-down as they'd done all the hard work, although they made Jethro Tull's Living in the Past sound like Mission Impossible. Yes Carl's voice and some of the songs do sound samey but there's no-one like Cud. You can hear snatches of Jonathan Richman, the Stones and the Weddoes but if they were a new band now Zane Lowe would be creaming his pants. Cud will be wowing the festivals next year (apparently). Can't wait!  
    UPDATE May 2007: Cud playing Glasto, third on bill on some smallstage behind Ned's Atomic Dustbin and Back to the Planet (lovely, strapping ginger singer!) Thanks to
  • Urbanwide on Flickr for photo of Cud at Leeds Cockpit

  • GIGS JULY - AUGUST 2006 August 2006: A bumper crop of gigs over the past two months - most of them good, all of them interesting. Highlight was Jeffrey Lewis (, pictured -he really is this tall)at the Polish Catholic Centre in Sheffield (August 25). One man, one acoustic guitar, one comic book. Simple tunes which rattle along at a fair lick, crammed with laugh-out lyrics sung in a hangdog voice. There's something Woody Allen-esque about his longing for unavailable women, worries about his health and his self-deprecating cracks about himself. As he says, he's not even a glass half-empty person, he's glass half-full - half-full of nothing.

    There's also some delightful rhymes - on one song about a dead pig he sings: "He's called Jonathan or Jason/It depends which way he's facin'" On three songs he holds up a comic book to accompany him. Two of the songs are B-movie stuff - one about a brain which grows bigger and bigger until it rampages through a city and another about a walking hand which offends a bus-full of nuns. The third is a dead straight history of communism in China! Support came from Benjamin Weatherill who looks like Bernard Sumner circa Joy Division but covers Irving Berlin and Nat King Cole in a high quavery voice while playing guitar and banjo. Fragile and folky.

    Then there's David Thomas Broughton who, like several solo artistes, has one of those devices which means he can record a riff and play another on top. Early on this was a discordant mess but it gradually came more compelling as he wandered through the crowd, singing snatches of Leonard Cohen songs in a voice which sounded a blood-and-thunder preacher or the two aromatherapists in Vic and Bob.

    A fortnight earlier I was in Hebden Bridge for a beer festival at the Trades Club and there was an unexpected treat - Nell Bryden (, pictured, a Brooklyn singer songwriter with a powerful soaring voice and some nice blues touches on her acoustic guitar. She looked completely at home with the hustle and bustle in the hall - children crying, dogs yawning and fat blokes creaking their chairs to get another Moorhouses from the bar (ahem). She even called me sweety when I bought her CD off her later. I don't think anyone's called me sweety before - mind you I was dressed as a Mars Bar at the time. It was also great to be in Hebden Bridge, one of those attractive, rather dour West Yorkshire towns enlivened by a splash of lefty-Glastonbury colour. Where other towns have Poundlands, Hebbo (as no-one calls it) has a CD shop full of 60s and 70s obscurities run by a jolly long-haired chap.

    Where some schools are covered in grafitti, Hebden's is covered with a huge mural. What a pity there's no decent boozer. There are two pubs in the Good Beer Guide - one's a bit pokey, the other's restauranty. The Trades Club is about the best and you can sign up for a tantric astrology or clay oven making if you so desire. On August 7 I was in the Packhorse in Leeds, one of my regular haunts when I lived in the city as it put on some excellent gigs along with the Brudenell Social Club. There were four acts on that night - three were connected and appeared to be from the Brighton area. Anyone calling themselves Kevin 2 Sheds ( with an album called 'Mark Knopfler Taught Me Everything I Don’t Know' sounds brilliant. He looked like a young John Otway or Super Hans from Peep Show, but he was never more than mildly amusing. He was backed by the next act, Pog ( a brother and sister act on acoustic guitar and acoustic bass, who occasionally sounded like Violent Femmes without the lyrics to match.

    Pog also supported MC for the night and third act Philip Jeays ( who looks Peter Cook and sings occasionally laugh-out loud songs in a melodramatic Scott Walker/Jacques Brel stylee. The highlight was a song about being on his deathbed, listing all the people he hated with the chorus "Fxxx you!" He got the biggest cheers of the night. All three acts were light-hearted, knockabout stuff and the final act bucked the trend but was enthralling.  

    Simon Siddol loves the minor chords and the big pauses on his electric piano, sounding like Lou Reed's Berlin occasionally, although Siddol has a deep, rich voice which sometimes veers off into a Tom Waits-rant. It was a pity he was on so late as many people had to leave during his set.

     And finally Shona Morrison, Van's daughter, at the New Roscoe in Leeds. Too Alanis Morrisette for my liking. She was at her best when her band went bluesy and she did a lovely cover of her dad's song Sweet Thing. 
    CUD Head full of loose change July 2006: One of the great live bands of the 90s have released a greatest hits double and the band (minus guitarist Mike Dunphy) have reformed to play some gigs - their first as Cud for 11 years. Carl Puttnam's voice was always a blessing and a curse for the band as it was easy to recognise one of their tunes, but as he barked out one note (but what a note!) some of the songs sounded very samey. This didn't seem to matter as much live where their relentless tunes were exhilarating, but the best songs were the ones where they varied the pace a bit - Robinson Crusoe, Love in a Hollow Tree, Hey Boots and Rich and Strange. They did five dates earlier this month (August) and have added five more, including two supporting "a chart act", and a final gig at Leeds Irish Centre on September 19. It's their homecoming gig as the band met at Leeds Poly, forming in 1985. They hit their stride at the end of the 80s and had two Top 30 hits in the early 90s with A&M but they were overshadowed somewhat by the Madchester scene - neither indie-trendy or mainstream enough - and split in 1995. I saw them at the Leadmill, in Sheffield, and Manchester International 2 and I think the NME gig review below is from that Manchester gig: Udderly Fab-Tastic! Manchester International II, NME, 26 October 1991 'I LOVE you!' sings bespectacled spectacle Carl Puttnam, the Mick Hucknall you can trust, 'I luhuahu-u-uuuumhhhve yo-o-o-oul'. His cavernous diaphragm quakes, he woos the already-sodden audience with Tom Jones-ian lungpower and Engelbert-esque melodrama. 

    Truly, we are in an Indie Las Vegas. And the Cud band are glittering. Outside is the coldest bastard rainy night In Manchester ever. In here, still largely unbeknownst to the music industry, Cud are happening. Warm your toes on that. A tangible buzz permeates the air; It's like Carter at the end of last year. Teenage Fanclub this summer, Kingmaker at Reading - yes, that exciting. You come to review a concert by a band, but the sheer swell of the expectant and genned-up crowd knocks you out. These Cud fans know something and, in elitist terms, we about to be taken away from them.

    So, the important question, has The Man got Cud? Hell, no. They're A&M property now, sure, they're suddenly in the overtaking lane, and they can have WHATEVER THEY WANT (Later, Carl will delight In telling me how A&M spent a week trying to obtain the actual model of a knight an horseback, used by Anglia TV as their logo in the '70s, for the sleeve of 'Oh No Won't Do') - but the power and the possibility haven't made them giddy. It's a tighter four-piece that cook with gas. This evening, confident. cool. together, swaggering, laughing all the time - no longer will the shorthand cynics be able to write Cud off as udder-achieving amateurs.

     They're done with merely singing for their supper, nowadays they're playing for their life! Cud are the actual Idiot Joy Showband, Glam Rock for the '90s. 'Eau Water' opens the set, babbling insanely, stomping, showmanlike, on all yer near-sighted Indie codes. Cud dare to crowd-please, to exaggerate gestures, to clutch their frilly chest. And that Puttnam Voice - not for Carl the insipid, apologetic sniffing of Damon from Blur - when he goes for it he really blows for it! BOOM! BOOM! A resounding success. 

     A camp 'Roblnson Crusoe', a rousing 'Hey Boots', a charming 'Love In A Hollow Tree', and three now ones, 'Sometimes Rightly Sometimes Wrongly', 'Easy' and 'Pink Flamingo', which la a 'Norwegian Wood' made pulp. Stage divers crowd the skies, about three balloons bob from head to head, Cart chuckles "Heh heh heh" uncontrollably and tells a punter who's waving his boots In the air during 'Hey Boots' that "It's not about shoes!' Correct. an album in the New Year, America and The Drummer From Cud will leave cult status way behind him. We need stompalong, unashamed, OTT cabaret entertainment that shakes a log to Third World debt; we need Carl Puttnam In his rubbish beads; we need STARGAZERS II Simply Cud, honey. Andrew Collins Picture and NME review:
  • Official Cud website

  • JEFFREY LEWIS Shy New Yorker meets perfect woman. Blows it. Writes nervously-voiced, pleasingly-shambolic songs (and cartoons) about the experience Video from Fortmark Films:
  • Posters
  • Cartoon:
  • The making of Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song
  • Source/picture:
  • Official Jeffrey Lewis website

  • VELVET UNDERGROUND June 2006: You wait years for the first ever Velvets DVD and two come along at once - Velvet Redux, a live concert from Paris in 1993, and Under Review, featuring interviews with Mo Tucker, Doug Yule and some rare Warhol footage. The Velvets reunion is seen as a failure by most of the mainstream media. As usual with films and music, they all tend to agree with each other and because one or two journalists criticised the reunion at the time it's slated by others now. If the band had been inferior to their 1960s live LPs and bootlegs then I'd agree, but you just have to listen to Heroin and Waiting for the Man, arguably their key songs, and realise they had recaptured their peak form and unique abilities - tub thumping drums, relentless guitars, droning viola, pounding piano and Reed's lyrics.

    I was at the Wembley gig in the same year (Jarvis Cocker was sitting nearby!) and this DVD brought it all back - the thrill of seeing the four of them together and the exhilarating versions of some of my favourite songs with subtle variations. Cale sings vocals on Waiting for the Man and adds a lovely violin part to Pale Blue Eyes. Morrison's lead guitar work shines on Rock n Roll and White Light White Heat. The choice of songs was my only complaint then, and it is now - no Run Run Run, What Goes On, Foggy Notion and especially Sister Ray. They could have replaced Hey Mr Rain, Beginning To See The Light and dreadful newie, Coyote. Under Review doesn't look so promising - it's mainly journo talking heads with new interviews from Mo and Doug, some Warhol film, bits from the 1993 concert and from the Reed/Cale/Nico reunion in 1972.

    But it's pretty good, especially in the way it analyses the songs (how Waiting for the Man originally sounded slow and Dylan-esque). There's also some suitably extravagant journo claims ("Rock music started with Dylan and the Velvets") and some interesting arguments - Cale's departure benefited the band because they were able to concentrate on the songs, and the third LP was the best (Rubbish! Apart from What Goes on, Pale Blue Eyes and Some Kinda Love it's bobbins). Gigs Velvets' support bands included: 1968: MC5, Canned Heat (supported), Flamin Groovies, Chicago, The Nazz feat. Todd Rundgren (supported), Tim Buckley (supported), Sly and the Family Stone 1969: Grateful Dead (supported), Chicago festival (feat Byrds, Muddy Waters, Fleetwood Mac), Nice, The Allman Brothers
  • Gig list and picture from Velvet Underground website

  • STERLING MORRISON Velvets guitar ace Sterling's favourite musicians (in 1969): The Byrds, The Kinks, Dr. John, Quicksilver Messenger Service. But he didn't like: Creedence Clearwater Revival ("monotonous") Van Dyke Parks (MacArthur Park, Beach Boys producer) "I dismiss him summarily. I don't care what he does. I don't think he has the credentials. Whatever he's supposed to be doing - he isn't good enough." Frank Zappa: "Zappa is incapable of writing lyrics. He is shielding his musical deficiencies by prolelytizing all these sundry groups that he appeals to. He just throw enough dribble into those songs, I don't know, I don't like their music." And MC5 "I think seldom of the MC5." (From interview with Greg Barrios, Fusionmagazine) And in another interview, in 1980, he doesn't like New Wave: Interviewer: Do you think New Wave is new, or is it just a rehashing of old stuff? Morrison: I'm afraid to say what I think about New Wave. Interviewer: Don't be. Go ahead. Please. Morrison: I'm worried a whole lot about it. People that have known me know that the major bitch in my life has been between rock 'n' roll and folk singers. That's it. Interviewer:Is New Wave rock 'n' roll or is it folk? Morrison: I'm afraid it's folk singing and this pains me. Great quote: Why do you have such an aversion toward people who talk to you? 'Cause I read books! On Lou Reed: "Lou really did want to have a whole lot of credit for the songs. So on nearly all the albums we gave it to him. It kept him happy. He got the rights to all the songs on Loaded, so now he's credited with being the absolute and singular genius of the Underground, which is not true." He loves Hendrix (who liked the Velvets), hates Dylan and lays into Zappa, again:"If you told Frank Zappa to eat shit in public, he'd do it if it sold records." (Interview by Nick Modern, Sluggo magazine) Doug Yule describes how Sterling left the band in 1971 (from Velvet Underground fanzine, Fierce Pup Productions and Sal Mercuri. Picture from this source) "Sterling is standing in the airport in Houston. Next to him is an empty suitcase, a fact at that moment known only to himself. He stops the progress of the group towards the gate with the announcement that he will not be returning to New York with us, he is going to Austin in a few days to begin a fellowship there, to return to school and complete his education. "This is the last time I will ever see Sterling. I will not know until he dies twenty five years later that he acquired a degree in Medieval Studies and picked up a tugboat captain's license."
  • Interviews from Velvet Underground website

  • THE FALL: BANANA SPLITScowling curmudgeon in Oxfam leathers Busts up with band in banana republic June 2006: The Fall have split up on a US tour for the second time. Three members of the band flew out of the country after their May 7 gig was cut short when a member of the support band chucked a banana at Smith and he ran off stage to fight him in the car park. Three members of labelmates Cairo Gang (described as Chicago dirge rockers) were drafted in for the next gig two days later and are staying as permanent members. Their UK debut will at The Fall's 30th anniversary on June 10. Here's what happened, according to Cole Coonce, from LA City Beat: Tour reports were rife with incidents of Smith pouring a beer on his tour manager's noggin and also using his head as an ashtray, all while the poor tosser drove the van down the interstate and tried not to crash. Moreover, at that night's show (May 7), a member of the opening act assaulted Smith with a half-eaten banana and the band played on while MES chased the banana-assassin into the parking lot, where a scuffle ensued. This mayhem, coupled with Smith's notoriously fascistic task-making, had forced “the lads” (as he called his backing group) to skulk away under the cover of darkness and catch an aeroplane back to Old Sod. Smith and wife/synthesist sidekick Elena Poulou endeavored to fulfill contractual obligations and finish the tour. The Fall's record label solicited as replacements a trio of alt-dirge rockers out of Chicago (The Cairo Gang), who were hot-lapped into San Diego in time for the Fall's booking at the House of Blues, and – ka-pow ka-pow ka-pow – quick as a repeating rifle, the notion of the Fall being a platoon system was, in fact, realized. Luckily for the new lads most of the Fall's latest songs are mere exercises in two-note rock riffs pounded into a repetitive groove, which serves as a foundation for Smith to free-associate lyrically, with gems such as “Dolly Parton and Lord Byron/They said patriotism is the last refuge/But now it's me” or haikus to that effect. Smith is a chaos-monger and a lush, and when the chips are down, he will find a way to turn over the card table. This night (May 13 Knitting Factory, LA) was true to form, as the joint was packed like a bowl of sweaty oatmeal with a legion of fervent Fall disciples, who waited for the gospel from their maniacal messiah. Instead of a pointed, galvanizing performance that would send the faithful to postmodern Valhalla, Smith showed up drunk, staggering and slurring through a rambling collection of dirges. For the duration, he was squint-eyed sauced, stumbling and unintelligible. The “band” struggled to find its cues and vainly tried to follow his meanderings. Methinks “the lads” had the right idea when they deserted their leader in Phoenix. This, and the flyer for the LA after-show party, is from the unofficial Fall website, formerly the official Fall website until Mr Smith took exception to the message board earlier this year. He gave an interview to an LA paper before the gig, praising the (old) band - "They're very on form".
      GO-BETWEEN MCLENNAN DIES May 2006: Founder member of The Go-Betweens Grant McLennan has died in his sleep, apparently of a heart attack. He was just 48. According to the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian, he was planning a large party at his Brisbane home on the night he died (May 6) and had gone for a lie-down as he was feeling unwell. He was later found dead by party guests. The Go-Betweens most recent album had been their most successful, EMI had bought ther back catalogue providing him with financial security and he was in love with a lass and about to be engaged. He formed the band in 1977 at university with songwriting partner Robert Forster who said: "The last six months was the happiest I had ever known him." They released their first LP in 1981, split in 1989 and reformed in 2000. Pic from Go Betweens website  
    MRS PILGRIMMLayers of metronomic cello topped off with sauce New LP: Alone Queen Downloads:
  • Tickle it lovely
  • Drop my name
  • Gotta get down
  • Picture/More info:
  • Official Mrs Pilgrimm website
  • Her record label

  • MISTY'S BIG ADVENTURE Set the controls to jaunty Downloads from SL Records:
  • Two songs and a video
  • Videos from Fortmark Films:
  • Story of Love/Hey Man

    1. Anonymous11:28 PM

      What a post!

      2 things. I'm delighted there's another Half Man Half Biscuit fans still out there. I could tell a half a dozen stories about them guys - they still rock and I'll be legging it down to probe for the new CD.

      It's hard to expalin to non believers just what a class act they are. favourite title? Prag Vec at the Milkweg

      Meanwhile, do the Rhythm Sisters have a dirty Southport secret when they used to be called Tami Show?

    2. Cheers - Prag Vec at the Melkveg, forgot about that. Is that the one with the line with "And we returned in time for tea and our dads did not have inklings"?