Monday, 28 February 2011

I know I said I wouldn't, but ...

... I'm in a sentimental mood, and this fell out of a browse through the '87 tapes.

Until You've Lost It

And, it's probably the best vocal performance I'll ever do.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Something's in the air

You can't hallucinate on champagne, can you?

The phone call came fairly late on Friday evening.  It was Caro.  To judge by the background noise, Saturday night's birthday party had already started.

"Do you know the words to 'When I'm Sixty-Four'?" she asked.

"Well, I know three of them," I said.

"Can you look them up, please?"  Caro can be quite authoritarian when she chooses.  "Oh, and bring your guitar.  We'll pick you up about five.  Some people want to drink while they watch the rugby."

Now, I don't really like having to sing for my supper, though I usually end up quite enjoying it.  But how can you say no to one of your dearest and oldest (well, sixty-four year old) friends?  So I got onto Google.  Rapidly establishing that the Beatles' people are avidly protective of their possessions - none of their lyrics are on any of the common legal websites - I dug out one of my several copies of 'Pepper', and typed the words into the computer.  Made half-a-dozen photocopies.  Then I picked up the guitar and made sure I could bluff my way through the chords.  The whole thing didn't take more than ninety minutes; I got to bed well before 1 a.m.

Saturday evening.  The drinks are being quaffed, the food has been eaten.  It's party time, which means, eventually, the sing-song.  Swallowing my reluctance (and my champagne), I lead the company though 'Sixty-Four' (twice) and several other songs, before announcing that my arms are now falling off and that's it, folks.

So it's time for the highspot of the evening, in honour of Cyrus, whose birthday (6) it also is.  We traipse out into the garden for what might be called sky lanterns, I'm not sure.  These are big paper wire-framed balloons which, when you light a kind of burner underneath them, float off glowing into the sky, to oohs and aahs, on a mission (someone suggested) to disrupt the air traffic control systems at Heathrow ...  But the kids loved them.

Back home about three hours later, I wandered out into the garden to look at the stars before bed.  As I was gazing up, looking for Orion, I saw what at first seemed to be a low-flying glider, without lights.  When it drew nearer, I could see that it was two of those sky lanterns.  Their fires had gone out, but they had somehow got together, still airborne, circling the night sky above Reading like ageing dancers in the dark.  I like to think they're still up there somewhere.

Moon Tune - The Last Frontier

Well, that was a lengthy, convoluted journey in order to get back to where I already was.

After an hour's faffing about trying to get rid of the patches of distortion that were irritating me, I concluded that it was actually in part these that gave it that 'big band' quality that Rosie discerned in her earlier kind comment.  So I've put it back on ACIDPlanet in its original form.

Moon Tune

Funny about the 'big band' sound.  Most of the time all you're hearing is one guitar, bass and drums.  And there's no brass apart from some horns in the intro, and the 'trombone' solo on the Yamaha synth.  Your ears can deceive you.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Moon Tune - an update

I just listened to this on ACIDPlanet, and decided it's just not good enough.  It needs a remix, which I'll do tomorrow.  I've deleted it in the meantime.

If you've already listened to it, please forget what you heard!  I'll let you know when the improved version is available.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Moon Tune

Here's the last (for now) of the 'old/new/ songs.

Moon Tune

It's been a struggle, for all sorts of reasons, and I'm not 100% happy with the sound (although a good overnight marinading in swamps of reverb does help), but I do like the song.  Hope you do too.

No more for now, because though I can hardly see the living room floor for cables and kit, I'm pretty sure it needs some TLC from the Dyson.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Technical Hitch in Blogger

I think microwave transmissions have peaked, probably due to unforeseen activity in the Middle East, or solar flares, or something, and the tipping point has been reached, provoking a global wave of temporary insanity.

I offer as evidence that yesterday evening I suddenly felt compelled, for reasons I can't remember, never mind explain, to update my Blogger template.  Why?  It was perfectly OK.  Anyway, I did it, using their wonderful new 'template designer'.  I had a look.  I wasn't sure if I liked it, so I thought I'd find some kind of undo function.

This morning I started this process.  It took most of the day, but finally I managed to get back to where I'd started, except that Sitemeter had disappeared.  Fair enough, reinstall it.  So I followed the instructions, meticulously.  They involve pasting HTML code into the appropriate place then saving the template. 

I've already bored you into submission, so suffice to say that eventually I discovered that Blogger have just introduced a new feature (old IT-speak for F-up) that, as I type, makes it impossible to save HTML.  They are silent on the subject, though hundreds of people have posted complaints.. 

I can't think of any reason at all why they'd do that, change a basic function that worked perfectly.  Or why they seem incapable of backing out the change.  Temporary mass insanity seems like the only answer.  Other examples spring to mind.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Disappointed Bride Genya Ravan AKA Patsy Cole AKA Goldie 1965

Ignore all the ill-informed comments on YouTube (except mine!) - this is Dave Anthony's Moods backing Goldie in early 1966.  Possibly the nearest thing to how the band sounded live at the time.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Moon Tune Abandoned

In my head, I had the Count Basie Orchestra.  After seventy-two hours of this song obsessing me, waking up in the night with the sound of what I hear in my head, fifteen hours of slaving over red-hot guitars, keyboards, recording machines, drum machines, I have accepted that I just can't do it.  My performance skills and my technology aren't up to it.  I could put out a partially completed job, but I wouldn't be proud of it.  So, sorry, this one ain't gonna happen.  Yet.

Just to tantalise you, here are the lyrics:

Here we are, the stars are bright
Soon be time to say goodnight, but
Just a minute, look up there -
Something's in the air ...

Stars are out, the moon is rising
They'll be singing to us soon
There's some love on the horizon -
Could this be it?

Serenading you by moonlight
To a sentimental tune
Are we ready for a goodnight kiss?
Not yet -
We still have things to do with the moon

Monday, 21 February 2011

King Pleasure Moody's Mood For Love

Sheer perfection.  You have to hum 'I'm in the Mood for Love' along with it to really get it.  I sang this in public a few times in 1965!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Synchronicity: a true story

Several years ago, we were invited next door to meet Claire's new classroom assistant, Jonny.  Claire is a music teacher and I was just getting back into making music, so there was some common ground.

The conversation got round to people's backgrounds, and Jonny mentioned that he was from Pembrokeshire.  That's interesting, I said, we've just got back from there, know it well, what part?

"Well, I'm from a little village in the south, called Amroth," said Jonny.

"Really?  Just along from Wisemans Bridge?  That's where the caravan is.  And I used to go there on family holidays as a child, fifty years ago.  We stayed in a house called Maida Vale, just up the hill from Wisemans.  The family was called Richards.  I used to play with their middle son, David."

Jonny stared at me.

"He's my uncle," he said.

The Illusionist

Great news, this film is at last out on DVD.  Amazon have been alerted, I expect my copy within a small number of days, and private showings will take place here weekly, or on demand, at least until April (alongside or alternating with Local Hero, The Princess Bride and Rio Bravo).

I bang on to everyone I can trap into being a captive audience about this wonderful movie, which I saw in a little art cinema in Manchester about six months ago.  It's based on a script bequeathed by Jacques Tati and left neglected, or suppressed, for the decades since his death in 1982, until director Sylvian Chomet managed to get the go-ahead to make it.  It's a hand-drawn animation, virtually without dialogue, created by a team of more than forty artists, telling the story of a washed-up conjuror (obviously Tati himself) who migrates to London, then Scotland, with his rabbit, in search of redemption, or just work.  I won't issue a spoiler - just to say it's about love, questioning it, and accepting that it may be time to relinquish it. 

That all makes it sound a bit sombre.  Visually, its beautiful pastels and darkening settings may reinforce this impression.  But trust me, it's hilarious - as a Tati heretic, I'd say it's funnier than anything the man himself ever did.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

New old song #2

Road Song

I was going to post two songs, but can't decide which one to do next.  'Food', or 'Things to do with the Moon'?  No clues as to what they'll sound like.  Votes please.

These are awesome!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Larry the Cat

Larry has been recruited to the staff of 10 Downing Street after sightings of a large rat.  Presumably it was on its way to number 11.

Apricot Enemy Action

My food is either trying (misguidedly - but food isn't that bright, is it?) to liven up my life, or has it in for me.  On Sunday, it was the yogurt.  Half an hour ago, as I was attempting to extract two eggs from the fridge to be scrambled for my lunch, half a tin of apricots decided to jump out and land (upside down of course) on the floor.  This is annoying.  I'd been vaguely thinking of using those apricots to soup up the second half of the curry this evening.  And I now have to wash the freaking floor (or at least that bit of it) again.

Do you think the Big Society does minders?

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Exciting Curry

Here's how to make a really eventful lamb rogan josh:

1.  Ensure you are wearing clean trousers.
2.  Follow the recipe on page 52 of Madhur Jaffrey's ' Indian Cookery (or your recipe of choice, as long as it involves yogurt).
3.  Leaving the pot on the top of the stove to come to a simmer, tidy up the kitchen. 
4.  In doing so, drop the yogurt pot on the floor, in such a manner as to ensure that the bottom 15cm (6") of your left trouser leg is thoroughly drenched in yogurt.
5.  Utter expletive of choice.  (I find a well-spiced one is best.)
6.  Run upstairs and remove trousers.  Rinse yogurt from trouser leg.  Stand there wondering whether to put trousers in washing basket or on radiator.  Decide on radiator followed by washing basket.
7.  Remember that you have left pot on stove, and dash downstairs just in time to watch it boil over.
8.  Wash kitchen floor and top of stove.
9.  Realise you are not wearing any trousers. 
10. (this step not yet achieved at the time of writing)  Sit down and drink as much gin as you can manage.


Thursday, 10 February 2011

A snippet of Reading

He drives down the Oxford Road most mornings at about nine, as I'm on my way to Willis and Short for the paper.  He is big, shaven head and stubble, bouncer's shoulders, arm hanging out of the open car window, festooned with tattoos.  He looks like Desperate Dan on speed, without the hat.  His stereo's always up to eleven, usually playing deep roots reggae, hissy hip-hop or Grinderman grunge.  Once, though, he'd chosen 'Touch Me In The Morning'.  Summer mornings, he stands outside his shop up the Oxford, in his white bodybuilder's vest, wishing passers-by a very good morning, with eye contact.  His vehicle of choice is a little blue Ford Ka.

I admire this man very much, because he has created a work, if not of art then at least of performance, out of mundanity.  I tend to do the opposite.  I was going to try and draw a caricature, but then luckily remembered that I can't draw.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

I hate pianos

I've just listened to most of an otherwise wonderful album, 'Alegria' by Wayne Shorter, spoilt by the presence of pianos.  The horns and the bass create the chords and the counterpoint, and the drums whizz around behind the rhythm - and then the unneeded piano barges in, clunkingly, thrusting the harmony and the rhythm, which I already had, into my face.  And then, when it's time to solo, they waste whole minutes cramming in as many notes as they can, just to prove they can (because it's so much easier to plonk around on a piano than it is on a guitar or a trombone), while you go off and do the washing-up or something.  It would have been so much better without it.  Listen to the Gerry Mulligan Quartet, or Chet Baker. 

Of course, I'm not a total pianophobe.  They're fine - nay, great - in their place.  These are my top five pianists: Errol Garner (who needs a drummer?); Dave Brubeck (who needs a brass section?); Count Basie (never play two notes where one will do);  Oscar Peterson (because he's the only person who could actually bend a note on the thing); and Jerry Lee Lewis (because otherwise we wouldn't have had rock'n'roll).

And imagine, joyfully, a world without Jools Holland.

Brick Wall (my garage, 2.30 pm)

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Sunday, 6 February 2011

My Autobiography

I know, it looks like a solecism, but it isn't: in this case, it could legitimately be someone else's if I'd left out the word 'My'.  (A cricketer or some other sportsman published a book with that title a few years ago - that is definitely a solecism.  And I bet that's the first time the word 'solecism' has been used three times in the first paragraph of a blog post, without any of us knowing quite what it means.)

Anyway, the point is, I've completed, or abandoned, the first draft of what, in a New Year's Resolution, I jokingly called that.  It isn't, of course: if anything, it's a memoir of my early life, filtered through the element of music, and focussed on the band I eventually belonged to, Dave Anthony's Moods.

I'd like to publish this somehow, not for commercial gain or anything, just so that anyone who wants to can have a look.  But I don't know how to do that.  Anybody know how?  It's 150 pages long, so the blog isn't really an option.

In the meantime, here are the first two paragraphs:

I first became aware of my musical talent quite late on. At school, I tended to be timid (my first name, which I hated) so other boys who weren’t so timid or shy took the lead. Although I had heard, loved, and even listened to music since my ears opened (my father singing me to sleep with ‘A Long Way to Tipperary’ and ‘Pack Up Your Troubles’ and ‘My Grandfather’s Clock’; I think those songs will be my last memory traces to erase themselves), the idea that boys like us could actually do it ourselves never occurred to me, until we heard Lonnie Donegan, Johnnie Duncan and the Blue Grass Boys, the Vipers, Nancy Whiskey. Mike Caddy, Tony Barney and Pete Jennions were those leading, unshy boys who naturally formed skiffle groups. I was given the washboard, and begged my mother for thimbles (the washboard itself acquired from a long gone ironmongers in Southbourne Grove). But that’s getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back.

Let’s imagine Bournemouth in the post-war years, before the end of rationing. We lived in Southbourne. From the cliffs, the vista was defined by Hengistbury Head, then the distant Isle of Wight (the Polar Bear) to the left, Old Harry Rocks with the lights of Swanage beyond, on a clear night, twenty miles to the right, and in between, the vast expanse of blue or grey or silver sea, and the endless horizon. The cliffs, the beach with its alarmingly seasonal changes of sand levels, the tarmac prom, the barnacle-crusted seaweed-tangled breakwaters, the green paint-flaking beach-hut, the icy finger-whitening water – this was where I felt best. Once the barbed wire had been cleared from the beach (placed there just in case Hitler decided that Bournemouth was going to be one of his Normandy beaches; both piers were blown up for similar reasons: we weren’t going to let him dock his pleasure-boats here either, were we?), the family beach-hut was quickly salvaged, painted and reinstated by my energetic father, who had doubtless learned this principle of continual recovery, repair and restitution from his years in the Merchant Navy between the wars. I can’t be precise about the dates of ‘Tipperary’ and ‘Pack Up Your Troubles’. My father was away for most of the war, in Malvern and other places, on important scientific business which the family believed to have been to do with the development of radar, though he never talked about it, having presumably signed the Official Secrets Act. Come to think of it, he never talked about anything much until his very late years, preferring to retreat to his workshop, where he mended things, did obscure works of electronics, and crafted exquisite pieces of woodwork and furniture. But on home visits, he sang me to sleep with these songs, I think, before I could walk properly. There were others – ‘Waltzing Matilda’, ‘My Darling Clementine’, even Leadbelly’s ‘Good Night Irene’ – these melodies and lyrical stories plunged into my psyche at a very early age. I remember his pride in me when he came back on a visit and I had mastered the use of a wheelbarrow (I was four); at six, I helped him shift the sand from the road to the back garden when he single-handedly built the new garage at the side of 37 (which still stands). But after he came home for good, he never sang to me again.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

A bit of joke philosophy for you

I've been told to write nonsense, so here's some. 

Solipsism is the belief that everything exists only in your imagination.  The phrase 'extreme subjective idealism' has been used.  Now, if I subscribe to this view, it follows that you're not actually there reading this (which may well be true judging by the number of visits I get to this blog).  But you'll be thinking the same thing about me. 

It's an interesting idea, but it doesn't really hold up.  Why would I go to all that trouble?

So, here's the joke.  A conference of solipsists is presented with the following agenda item: 'Discuss.'

Friday, 4 February 2011

New old song #1

"Carry Me Away"

Turn the volume up!  The crappy MP3 format which acidplanet now imposes isn't a patch on the wma.

I'm not especially proud of this, but it had to be done.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Sweet dreams ...

Last night, I crawled up to bed about 11.30.  I only make my bed when I need it, and I was about to do so when I saw this ogre leering up at me from the pillow.

It's OK.  I gave him a good punching and he let me sleep like a baby.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Visibility Cloak

It says here that scientists at the University of Birmingham have invented a sort of prism, made out of something called calcite, which when placed in front of a small object, such as a paperclip, renders it invisible.  Calcite is itself transparent (and visible) but has the property of somehow bending light so that whatever is behind it, under very restrictive controlled conditions, can't be seen in the human visible light spectrum.

I foresee a few difficulties.  For a start, if what's behind the calcite prism can't be seen, how do they know it's transparent?  More importantly, even if the technology can be developed to encompass much larger objects than paperclips, the fact that the calcite itself is visible is a bit of a giveaway, isn't it?  I mean, if you see a big lump of what presumably looks like glass walking around, once you know about this stuff you're going to think 'mm, that's a person', aren't you?  And if a spy plane sees a big sheet of glass in the desert, with apparently nothing behind it, it's a strong clue.  Probably a uranium enrichment plant.

No, I can't see this one catching on.  I'll continue to disguise my uranium enrichment plant as a disused compost bin - which is itself disguised as a toasted Dalek.