I've decided to stop posting here for a little while - some of you will know why; I thank you all for your good wishes. I'm hoping to be back by the end of October when there could very well be a full, mystically charged report of live action from British Sea Power getting down with Baden-Powell and the red squirrels on Brownsea Island, off the coast of sunny Dorsetshire. PLUS - full gig report of the return to live action of Bristol's legendary THE POP GROUP who will be doing what appears to be their first EVER full British tour and certainly their first extensive collection of shows since, erm, around 1979. Can't quite believe it myself. Anyway, peace and love to you all whilst I concentrate on things other than the relative trivia of popular music. Hope to see you in the Autumn.
Oi! Wire! Mine's a very 'eavy pie and an 'umble pint of Brains
Gnarled rockers, Manic Street Preachers, have a new album dipping its toes amongst the general public and it's been getting some quite good reviews: yes, it's regularly being touted as their best since The Holy Bible (1994) but I think they've all been called that at some time, haven't they? Anyway, the new one is titled Futurology (2014) and much is being made of its genetic connection to both Kraftwerk and early Simple Minds (or is it Nena and Duran Duran? Whatever). All this isn't really my point here. No, my point is that I believe I have discovered the true Godfathers of Welsh Interlecktual Rawk in the form of English Heavy Rock behemoths, Uriah Heep.
There I was last night, spinning Heep's classic '73 album, Sweet Freedom (as you do) when my mind was filled with weird visions of the Manics doing a Heep tribute act and I just couldn't tell the difference. Okay, maybe I exaggerate a little but if you shut your eyes and replace hairy old David Byron with James Dean Bradfield I think you'll soon find Nicky Wire and Sean Moore joining in on 'Return To Fantasy' before you can say Pontllanffraith. Go on, try it.
For even 'better' results, play both the following videos at once and turn the volume down on MSP. It really works. Now, imagine that the Welsh rockers had dumped the pretentious literary/cultural references in their lyrics and gone for a little lame Fantasy or even some meat and dumplings about 'lay-deez' and 'babes' and you will barely notice the difference. I'll say nothing of Wire's near constant lyrical fetishizing of his best mate's disappearance/death. Just to be clear, I have all of Heep's first ten albums in my collection and I love 'em, just don't tell a soul. Manics? There was a time...
Sweet Freedom (1973)
Manic Street Preachers
If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next (1998)
Yesterday I had reason to climb up on to the roof of the kitchen extension of our humble home to secure a down-pipe that I've been concerned about for some time. The job took barely a few minutes and the sun shone down its bounty of warmth, making all seem wonderfully sanguine. With such momentary peace and on offer I decided to stay up there for a while, just sitting. Our house rests on the side of a smallish valley that eventually becomes part of a greater cut in the landscape, so we are blessed by excellent views of the area, with tree covered mountains (big hills are called 'mountains' in Wales) on all sides; up on the roof I felt transported way above the ground, close to a the perfect blue sky. Living in a small village, there is usually a nice balance of noise and quiet to be found, so whilst you hear dogs barking and some muffled voices from here and there, providing no one is being thoughtless enough to be blasting the radio just when you don't want it, relative quiet is easy to find.
After some minutes up on my perch, looking down on gardens, the local park, neighbours scurrying around and my eyes searching up to surrounding hills, I noted a constant buzzing sound from a mile or so northwards. At first I thought it was one of those annoying scrambler type motorbikes cutting up the ground, but I then deduced that it was the work of the forestry people, going about the task that we've been waiting to begin for some months - the felling of thousands of diseased larch trees. Sadly, most of the larches that have been planted by the Forestry Commission over the years have fallen foul of something called ramorum virus and will have to be cut down in a mammoth task that they think may take the next four years, leaving the top parts of all the surrounding mountains quite bare. Of course, the upper reaches of our local landscape should naturally be much barer than they have been for many a long while as the larches are not native to the area but were introduced for commercial purposes; they also provided the wood for the pit-props in the mines when we had a coal mining industry around here. So, over the few years, we'll see our views change rapidly, accompanied by the constant buzzing of saws and the regular passing of large timber transports, carrying the remains of fallen larches. Thankfully, the current plan is to ultimately replace the diseased trees with native deciduous varieties but in the meantime, roof sitting may not always be as peaceful as one might hope.
This is for the larches. Not sure who Hugo Lindmark is but it's highly apposite. In Swedish.
Welcome to the working week and what do we have for you? It's time to get loose and let loose with some funk from way back when. 'Do It ('Til You're Satisfied') was a dance floor hit for B.T Express (formerly Brooklyn Transit Express), straight outta, you guessed it, Brooklyn. It's from the debut album of the same name, pop pickers. Get down!