Saturday, 29 September 2012

I am a Child

My soon-to-be-10 younger daughter came into my room this morning, just after I woke up. She climbed into bed with me, and we chatted. I reminded her that this was the morning when she would be going off to the park with two friends, all on their own - the second time this has happened, and the first under my care. She said she was sorry to be going off and leaving me at home. I said there was no need to apologize, and that this was just part of growing up. Imagine, I told her, being 21 years old and still coming over to my place and doing all the same old things on a Saturday. I informed her that when she's 21, I'll have just turned 61, and might be old and decrepit. Always full of odd, but touching, insights, she replied, "You might be like my child by then. That's okay, as long as you keep fit and don't break your neck or anything, it'll be alright." I will try, my child.

Everytime You Touch Me (I Get High)

I wrote some time back about my brief encounters with Charlie Rich, who possessed a talent still woefully under-appreciated today, and who was probably the first committed genre-buster in popular music - a common enough stance today, but one which was probably incomprehensible to the record company execs of the day. This piece, a jazz samba reworking of his 1975 smash country hit, from his final album, once again underlines just how versatile he was. And the baritone solo by Fred Ford just takes it to an entirely new level.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Hell on Earth Halloween bash (1992?)

Bob's Lead Hyena (1992?)

Photo by Patty Padgett. Part of the legendary Bob's Lead Hyena. L-R: Stoten Outlan (v), Jim Duckworth (g), Roy Berry (d), Brian ? (not in this band but a member of Voodoo Village People, among others), and me (I did play bass with them at one point as a replacement for Johnny Williams, but I can't remember if this was one of those occasions.) Not pictured - Mark Gooch (g), though that could be him I am looking at. This was such a wonderful band, but sadly short-lived.

Love's Gonna Live Here

I would have never expected that Andy Williams' passing would provoke a deep reaction in me, but it has indeed made me search back in my mind to the kinds of artists I was fortunate enough to be exposed to by my parents as a child, the kind of influences that contributed to my ability to understand and appreciate the broad spectrum of music I enjoy today. I can recall clearly watching the Buck Owens TV show as a little boy, and maybe that's why I have such an abiding love for his music to this day. Or maybe it's just because it's heartfelt and awesome, and I have good taste. I suspect it's a bit of both.

However, one of the things I like doing in my own work is inverting the mood or intent of the original version of a song, to create a conflict or a disconnect. In Buck's version, the tone is one of optimistic certainty, but I think mine sounds desolate and broken. Sorry, Buck, I like them both.

Go, Linda, go!!!

Really wish I could have been in attendance as an observer for this. (I did "phone in" three mp3s, however, so I was in the room, in a manner of speaking.) I think it would have been fascinating to see a different line-up playing the "Transformed" album, in its own unique interpretation. I think this is the beauty of Linda's emerging model of forming "collaborator cells" (my term, not hers) in key cities (we are ready in London, I can now say with confidence), such that the only constant throughout is her and her material, and the possibilities for interpretation are theoretically infinite, because I know she will always surround herself with the right people to make it work. Onward!

Programme from Linda Heck show in Sewanee. High brow!

Sun Child

So Long, Andy

Andy Williams died today. His voice is one of the clearest auditory memories of my childhood. When I was little, my parents' musical palette ran from country to Broadway to The Beatles to a bit of classical to Sergio Mendes to Dionne Warwick to Andy. And Andy was in heavy rotation, as I recall. I guess it's also noteworthy that the first time I ever saw the Jackson 5 was on the Andy Williams Christmas Special, which I recall being a big deal in our house, as seasonal communal TV went. Croon on, Andy.

Huun-Huur-Tu Live

In the period 1992 - 95, I was an itinerant Japanese teacher in an early years languages pilot project (called Project SAIL) in the Memphis City Schools, which meant that I spent a lot of time driving between six different schools dispersed across the city, which gave me a lot of time to listen to music and sing as I drove. At some point in 1993, I happened to see a documentary on TV about Tuva one night, which featured some throat singing, which I was already familiar with from some Mongolian recordings I had, and this coincided with the release of the seminal Huun-Huur-Tu album "60 Horses in My Herd," which I bought and listened to obsessively for the next couple of years. All those hours spent driving around Memphis gave me a chance to experiment, and I eventually worked out how to do throat singing, after a fashion, and I have employed it occasionally recently, as well as on the track "All Things Fall Away" on the wonderful Linda Heck album "Transformed." These guys are truly astonishing, and it's also worth remembering that this band also spawned the awesome Yat-Kha, and brought harmonic singing to the masses. 

Wednesday, 26 September 2012


"Covered with barbed wire, land of the free, Libertyland, baby you and me." It was a delight to stumble across this lost gem recently. The Marilyns were one of my favorite Memphis bands of all time, and I saw them countless times, recorded them in one of their later incarnations, and recently covered one of their songs. This was shot by Ron Easley at the Ornamental Metal Museum on the banks of the mighty Mississippi, probably in 1984. From left to right: Jeannie Tomlinson (now Saltmarsh) - vocals, Kim Kruger - guitar, Marilyn Albert (then Duckworth) - guitar and vocal, and Jim Duckworth - drums. Libertyland was Memphis' fairly unspectacular amusement park attraction, now long gone, which did have one saving grace - the Zippin' Pippin. It was a bit of a laughing stock, even in its heyday, but it did give us one classic song.

Under the Big Black Sun

One of the best albums of the 1980s, in my view, and I think the vinyl still sits in a closet in Memphis, TN. I hadn't thought about it in years until a few months back, and now I don't seem to be able to get it out of my mind. Fortunately, it's available as a playlist, for the edification and enjoyment of those who don't know it, and as a blast from the distant past for those who do. I have yet to meet anyone in the UK who has heard of X, though I see they are making their way over in November.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Up On Cripple Creek

Levon Helm, perhaps the only genuinely good singing drummer in history.

Scenes from London life


Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Magic of Memphis

A couple of weeks back, I had the pleasure of playing a 45-minute solo set at a new venue just up the road in Forest Hill, called Canvas and Cream. It's an amazing place, and I'm pleased to say that the lovely management have asked me back again, on 4th October, on a bill with my friend Paul Betts and the ever-amazing Flamexicano.

Shortly before it all kicked off, I was sitting in the garden behind the venue with a couple of people, one of whom mentioned that a drummer with a studio just around the corner had once played with Isaac Hayes, and had photographic evidence to prove it. They were all amazed at the idea of photos of Isaac, and for most people in the normal world, that would be entirely understandable.

At that moment it hit me full-on in the face. I grew up in Memphis in the period 1974 - 1995 - a place where one might casually wander into a friend's house and find a rockabilly legend, wait on a genre-hopping genius, see Sam Phillips out mowing his lawn on a regular basis (my mother once had Al Green as a member of a school focus group, just for the record), have Al Jackson's wife as a teacher and see him dropping by the school, be befriended by an awesome artist who happens to be the niece of Duck Dunn, meet Alex Chilton on a friend's sofa and subsequently form a sort of friendship with him. That sort of place, just normal life.

Well, that may have been normal for Memphibians of my generation, but for the rest of the planet it is the stuff of legend, which brings me back to Isaac Hayes. Back in the early '90s, I lived a couple of blocks from Squash Blossom, a health food restaurant and grocery store on Poplar Avenue in Midtown, Memphis. Almost every time I went in there, which was frequently, Isaac Hayes was there. Normally he was just ahead of me in the queue, and as one friend recently pointed out, he had an annoying habit of ordering the last slice of the vegetarian pizza. I never actually spoke to him, which I regret, but he always seemed like a very likeable and approachable person, and his skin was amazing, a veritable baby's bum across all of his visible body.

Ue o Muite Arukou

To the non-Japanese reader, this song may be familiar as "Sukiyaki," the Kyu Sakamoto smash of 1963, which I remember hearing and loving as a child. When I was teaching in Japan, I had four different groups of co-workers to socialize with, being based in city hall, but mostly rotating between three junior high schools. This meant that every social event marking a key date in the calendar (New Year, end of school year, etc.) found me receiving four different invitations to boozy nights on the town, inevitably culminating in late night karaoke sessions. I typically was called upon to do "The Tennessee Waltz" and "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," which I always happily did, but I also had managed to learn this one by virtue of having a copy of the 45 back home, and I would insist on singing it if they would let me, which they always did.

Linda Heck & The Train Wreck played this a few times live, as a country number, which always baffled and impressed people. The lyrics are simple, but very moving, if you speak Japanese, that is. (The lyrics of the Taste of Honey version in English bear no relation, just for the record.) The title translates as "I'll Walk Looking Up," and the song makes clear that this is so the singer's tears won't spill from his eyes, as he walks alone at night remembering days in the springs and summers of his life, the details of which we are left wondering about - but it must have been heavy. Happiness is beyond the sky, beyond the clouds. Sadness lies in the shadows of the stars, of the moon. A literal translation would make it sound lame, which it isn't, so I'll refrain.

Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)

I find the cover image here a bit disturbing, but this is a beautiful song.

Viv Savage, philosopher

Scenes from London life


Thursday, 20 September 2012

Live Rust

I listened to this album obsessively when it came out, and I think I saw the "Rust Never Sleeps" film at least three times when it was on its fairly limited release. I hadn't really spent much time with it in recent years, but I stuck it on the iPod ahead of my American trip during the summer, and it ended up being the dominant soundtrack through four states on the drive back to Memphis from the Texas gulf coast. In particular, I have fond memories of how well it suited the journey up Highway 61 from Vicksburg to Memphis, in the brilliant Delta light of late afternoon on a beautiful summer's day, a day I won't soon forget.

So Sorry

Here is a very quickly done (last night, when I should have been watching television or staring at the wall) cover version of a Linda Heck song which very few people have ever heard before. I made a demo recording about 25 years ago of her doing this solo, and I've always found it a haunting and intriguing song, but as far as I know, it's never been performed or recorded since. Love me some GarageBand for iPad, and love me some SoundCloud, especially these embeddable widgets, which look really cool. And love me some Linda Heck covers!

The Letter

The best Alex Chilton lip-sync music video ever made. And some heartfelt words from his widow (read by Heather West).

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


The greatest music video featuring Balham Station ever made (it appears right at the end).


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Scenes from London life


Everywhere With Helicopter

The greatest amusement park-themed music video ever made.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Shining Light

The greatest underwater music video ever made.

Queen of Cans and Jars

Another instalment in what is gradually turning into a saga - a stubbornly recurring effort to cross-pollinate Guided by Voices and Kraftwerk. Is synth-pop a sign of mid-life crisis?

Scenes from London life


Saturday, 15 September 2012


I'm at something of a loss to explain why I haven't previously posted anything on my American trip in late July/early August, the highlight of which was the August 4th CD release party and gig for Linda Heck's incredible "Transformed" album, which I was so fortunate to be involved with. Maybe I've been processing it all, against a background of other stuff happening, and the demands of daily life. It's certainly not like it wasn't a deep experience - quite the contrary.


This gig at the picturesque Ernestine & Hazel's on South Main was far and away the most sublime I've ever had the pleasure of taking part in, ranging from the duo set I did with Linda under the "ExCon" moniker, to the reconstituted Linda Heck and the Train Wreck power trio incarnation (with me on drums and the fabulous Jim Spake on sax), to the performance of the entire "Transformed" album as a quartet, with Spake beautifully augmenting the line-up as required.

It couldn't have possibly been better, and there were moments where I felt I was floating above it all, as a detached observer. Sadly, there is very little in the way of documentation of this amazing night. The venue was dark, and what little light there was emanated from behind the band, which works for the human eye, but not so much for the video camera.

It was a profound experience all around, and I felt incredibly alive and attuned to my surroundings for the four days of recording sessions and rehearsals running up to this night, and even more so on the night itself. Then the next day I was on a plane back to London.

Tonight Linda is holding a CD release party in Sewanee, Tennessee, her adopted home town. The plan is apparently to hold one event in every place where recording for the album took place, which just leaves Nashville and London on the list.


Linda Heck & The Train Wreck

Linda Heck - Guitar and vocals
John McClure - Bass
Jimi Inc. - Drums & vocals
Jim Spake - Sax

The Linda Heck Experiment

Linda Heck - Guitar and vocals
John McClure - Bass
Kurt Ruleman - Drums
Jimi Inc. - Guitar and vocals
Jim Spake - Sax

Friday, 14 September 2012

Alive at the Johnny Mack Brown High School

Sometime in 1972/73, I remember wandering into my father's basement office in our apartment in New Haven, Connecticut, where he was working furiously on his doctoral dissertation. He was listening, as he often did at the time, to the only country music radio station in the area, which was true Yankee territory, make no mistake about it. This was well before the days of crossover country. George Wallace was firmly on the scene. The South was still largely an object of derision up north.

But back in those naive days of free-form and format-agnostic FM radio, it seemed anything was possible, and all sorts of things used to find their way onto the airwaves. On this particular occasion, the station was playing the entire first side of the "Country Music Then and Now" album by the Statler Brothers, which featured what was, in retrospect, a very daring experiment for the hyper-conservative Nashville music machine of the time: a pastiche of a live local radio broadcast of the type my parents would have been very familiar with in their childhoods in the 1950's.

The hapless and inept fictitious group featured therein was Lester "Roadhog" Moran and His Cadillac Cowboys, and it was gut-wrenchingly funny comedy-of-embarrassment of the highest order. I was initially a bit baffled, but my dad was in tears of laughter, which I enjoyed immensely, and when he later explained the context, it really meant a lot to me to have had this moment of seeing him so in touch with his own childhood, and so thoroughly amused.

A couple of years later, we ended up in Memphis, and I remember this weird little "Alive at the Johnny Mack Brown High School" album was one of my Christmas presents of 1974, which thrilled me immensely. I listened to it repeatedly for years thereafter, and it is still a very meaningful touch-point between my dad and me. We both dissolve into uncontrollable laughter at a mere single reference to it. And I have been amazed to find a lot of friends for whom this odd creation holds a similarly important place in their childhoods.  

Drums and Wires

One of the interesting things about working with quite a few people who are around half my age is the lack of overlap on musical tastes. I have discovered many new artists by being around them, and they have endured a bunch of mostly old stuff at my hands - some of which they have genuinely enjoyed. Works that figure prominently on the musical landscape of my peers and other old gits like me are completely unknown to many of them. For example, I whipped out this gem one day, and they immediately liked it. One person even asked if it was a Franz Ferdinand album they hadn't heard before, as proof positive that these young men from Swindon were making the music of the future. The looks of shock and disbelief which crossed their faces when I told them it was recorded in 1979 were priceless. But the magic lives on - I get at least one request per week for "Nigel," as the yoof refer to it.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

When you have 845 spare hours...

... you may want to check out this unbelievable collection of John Peel radio shows, including some of his Perfumed Garden shows from way back in 1967. What a treasure trove. It's almost too good to be true.

Monday, 10 September 2012

The Zippin' Pippin

My favorite rollercoaster in the world, and Elvis', too. The Zippin' Pippin of Memphis, Tennessee, gone but not forgotten.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Scenes from London life

Now Here

Tattooed Wedding Ring

My first, and still only, fan video. Everyone who has heard the Linda Heck "Transformed" album seems to cite this one as their favourite cut, and I'd be hard-pressed to disagree.

What I did during the summer holidays

This internet thing sure has inverted pretty much every aspect of the music world. Back in the mists of the analogue era, I recall going to the Sunday flea market at the Mid-South Fairgrounds and seeing box after box of studio out-takes from the "Let it Be" sessions, only seeing the light of day nearly a decade after they took place. Once the CD reissue wave began, the industry then at last had a mechanism for getting archival material and outtakes/alternative cuts into the packages. Amazing as it was, however, it was all backward-looking. 

Now, with tools like GarageBand and SoundCloud at our fingertips, it can all be nearly real-time. Albums by major artists get leaked, in part or whole, on a regular basis, to the outrage of the content cartel, but for everyone else, it's entirely possible to release in-process work and have it be a positive, if not integral part, of the process. It can be a form of audience engagement, or a feedback loop, or a form of collaboration, as the re-mix world continues to demonstrate so compellingly. Or all of the above.

It takes some intestinal fortitude to put things out that are incomplete, flawed, or not quite right, but in the words of Robert Fripp, I suppose it might be a valuable exercise in the spirit of "embracing hazard." So here is my embracing of hazard. This is a project I conceived in mid-August, as I felt compelled to take on a challenge, and I knew I had a couple of weeks where pretty much everyone I knew was going to be away, and I would be at a loose end over two weekends, one of them a three-day holiday weekend. 

The concept came to me suddenly one day at work: why not take two weeks, 14 days, and try to record one song each day, each by a different female songwriter? It was challenging in a variety of ways, but in the end, I did manage to do everything you hear on the 14 songs here in 14 days, though it was one-a-day on average, rather than in absolute terms. The first one I did was the P.J. Harvey song - a challenging start, as it's in 7/8. The last one I did was "Natural Woman," which I'm pretty sure no man has covered in its original form. (For the avoidance of doubt, I am straight and do not suffer gender dysphoria - I just think it's a great song, and deserves to be treated with respect.) Everything in between was mostly clustered over the two weekends, and I worked at a pretty furious pace, which often left me feeling a bit disorientated at the end of a session which might cover a Hendrix-meets-Lennon version of Amy Winehouse, Chrissie Hynde, and Exene Cervenka all in the same day.

I thought it would be interesting and instructive to try to get inside material which is associated with very strong female personalities, musical or otherwise, and to try to do something different with it. In some cases, such as the Yoko Ono and Björk pieces, they're as far away from the original arrangements as they could be, whereas others are very close. Some of them just make me giggle. The Blondie number re-imagined as a Specials rave-up was an unexpected turn of events that just came to me in a flash, as was the Guided by Voices "Motor Away" treatment of "Love is a Stranger."

There are some things here I'm not that happy with, from the get-go. The opening number, Jackie DeShannon's epic "When You Walk in the Room" works really well as an invocation of the Willie Mitchell sound, but the vocal take is below what I can do with it. I just haven't girded my loins for doing it over. The second number also needs some re-working of the vocals, and the Martha Wainwright song, the only one where I didn't use a metronome of some sort, suffers from a pretty noticeable tempo-racing, but I still like it. Maybe it creates a sense of time moving ever more rapidly away from hope. I don't know, but that may be my cover story if anyone ever asks. So I still have a little work to do on these, but most of them are perfect in my mind as they are. There is always a risk in ruining something by trying to fine-tune things that don't need fixing, which is why I've listened to it over and over to work out if the things that bother me would really bother anyone else. I'm still working on that one.

Overall, if I had to leave it as it is now, and never touch it again, I'd still be very happy with the outcome as a whole. Choosing a favourite is like choosing a favourite child, but I'm particularly happy with the Velvet Underground incarnation of Linda Heck's unspeakably beautiful "Tattooed Wedding Ring."

Part of me wants to close this project and leave it as a document of a very particular time and experience, and part of me thinks it may continue to expand and evolve well into the future. I certainly had hundreds of suggestions from friends of material to attempt, which are still untouched. A good friend has suggested that I continue it and package it into a live format that can be taken to Edinburgh next year. That sounds highly ambitious, but who knows? A year is a long time.

So the title of this "album" is "About a Girl," and the tracks (with the original artist/writer), in-process warts and all, are:

"When You Walk in the Room" - Jackie DeShannon
"Love is a Stranger" - The Eurythmics 
"You Come Through" - P.J. Harvey
"Riding With Mary" - X (Exene Cervenka)
"Walking on Thin Ice" - Yoko Ono
"Higher" - The Cardigans
"Picture This" - Blondie
"He Can Only Hold Her" - Amy Winehouse
"Don't Forget" - Martha Wainwright
"Tattooed Wedding Ring" - Linda Heck
"(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" - Carole King
"There's More to Life Than This" - Björk
"Birds of Paradise" - The Pretenders
"I Try" - Macy Gray

About a Girl (Work in Progress)

Love Letters

Scenes from London life


Inspiring Doug Shell

Probably as a function of the age I'm at, I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about how I got here. It's a fascinating gift we enjoy as human beings to have memory and analytical capacity, which allow us to examine every choice, relationship, and experience we've ever had and find points of connection between them, to draw maps and timelines of what we have done or experienced, and how it led to somewhere else, and ultimately to the here and now. Often there is a key person, a source of impetus or inspiration, at each of the main inflection points, and I have been thinking about some of those people of late.

The other day I stumbled across this clip from 1994, which is an entertaining little tidbit from the halcyon days of the "Classic Lineup" of Guided by Voices. At 2:11, a young man from the audience at the Threadwaxing show in New York says, "It was awesome. It was incredible. I feel myself becoming a groupie." I had to watch this a few times just to convince myself that I was not hallucinating, and I now have confirmation from a mutual friend that I was not, which I pretty much knew anyway. This exuberant young fan is named Doug Shell, and I met him in London nearly 10 years after this was filmed.

Back when I was doing the telecom financial analyst thing (which seems like two lifetimes ago), I determined that the only way to achieve some real job satisfaction, retain my sanity, and possibly open up some new doors, was to write in a different style, to produce more thematic and unconventional research. On my maiden voyage in this vein in 2003 (I think it was, possibly 2002), about an hour after I'd pressed the send button, I got an email from a sector specialist analyst at one of our fund management clients. His name was Doug Shell, and I hadn't previously had any contact with him, that I can recall. I think he was relatively new in that role. His email said something along the lines of, "This is an excellent piece of work, very different and thought-provoking. This is the sort of thing that investors can really benefit from. You should be really pleased with it. Keep going." Or something like that.

He subsequently became my most ardent supporter, though he was never quite so fulsome as in this video. But it mattered to my employers at the time that a client had been so impressed with something that our humble little research team had produced, and it gained me a lot of credibility with them, and gave me a huge degree of confidence that I was on to something, rather than just bored and crazy. We developed a friendly dialogue and spoke at regular intervals. He was always keen to hear my opinions and to debate industry issues, not so much specific stocks, and I think we learned a lot from each other.

Based on this critical early support, I did indeed keep going in the same vein, and many interesting and amazing experiences flowed from this decision. I've lost track of Doug, but man, wherever you are, thanks.

"And we're finally here,
And shit yeah, it's cool,
Shouldn't it be?
Or something like that."

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Ghost Town

Today I was heading into town on the bus on a shopping errand, and as we approached Elephant & Castle, I could see that there had been a serious accident on the approach on the Walworth Road, and all traffic was being diverted around through the enormous Heygate Estate, now deserted and awaiting demolition. I had been wanting for some time to take a particular photo here, and as my bus was gridlocked in the traffic cardiac arrest that ensues whenever anything goes wrong at Elephant, I decided to get off the bus and take my picture.

I then noticed some street art within the estate itself, and wandered in. At the heart of the estate, one man named Adrian, whom I encountered, the only remaining resident in that section (apparently there are fewer than a dozen left out of the 3,000 who used to live there) has taken over the entire courtyard and turned it into an urban farm of sorts, growing beans and vegetables, keeping chickens. He also has a sort of impromptu outdoor museum of the history of the struggle of the tenants for fair compensation for the loss of their homes, which he and his small group of holdouts are continuing. He said that it was either that or be forced to move out of London. The gentrification of the city is thus creating its own concrete jungle, as property development schemes, greed, and the incessant demand for premium housing for this global beast of a city drive the poor further toward the margin. Perhaps the word "favela" will come into common use in the English language.

It was an amazing 90 minutes I spent wandering there, and I took nearly 150 photos, featured in this slide show. (For those who prefer it, the native Flickr set is here.) Apart from Adrian, I didn't encounter anyone else, and it was a very strange feeling to be in this very quiet and deserted landscape in the midst of one of the busiest sections of South London, with chickens clucking away as I snapped photos. At times it almost felt like the aftermath of a pandemic, which, I guess, in a sense, it is.



You're Wondering Now

I was introduced to The Specials by my friend Jungle Jeff (a.k.a. Jeff Green), founding Grundy, skateboard and Ultimate Frisbee ninja, urban guerilla tomato gardener, and all-round good guy, in 1980, on my first night as a dishwasher at the barftastic Steak & Ale on Poplar Avenue in Memphis. He also trained me to run the industrial dishwasher, which knowledge has provided me with a hugely comforting career safety net throughout my life. We spent most of that first night goofing in the kitchen, singing Madness songs and doing ridiculous faux ska moves on the ever-slippery floors. Afterward we sat in his car drinking beer and listening to The Specials' first album, which I had never heard. I had the pleasure of seeing Jeff for the first time in many years, two nights on the trot on my recent trip to Memphis, and though we are the same age, he has not a single grey hair. And he's still crazy funny. Skate safely, my friend!

I found this video the other day, and I think it's remarkable, not just for the song and the performance, but because of the spectacle of all those young kids on stage, dancing in harmony, like their lives depended on it. Most of them are my age or slightly older. What sort of lives did they have after this joyous night, Christmas Eva, 1979? The whole set follows at the end.

Jungle Jeff

The Specials on "Rock Goes to College," Colchester Institute, Christmas Eve, 1979

Scenes from London life


Greatest Hits, Volume 1

A little over a year ago, I bought an iPad, solely for the purpose of using Garageband. I really should invest in some proper recording software at some point, but I really kind of like the constraints of working with the iPad. The process reminds me of the four track recording I used to do 25 years ago, or so. You're forced to work within the confines of limited tracks, and there are some things (live drums, for example) which it simply doesn't handle well. Anyway, I'm really pretty pleased with a lot of the pieces I've done, so I thought I would combine them into a compilation "album."

Friday, 7 September 2012

Ich bin Schwartz und stolz darauf

This is some amazing performance footage with really interesting, insightful, and endearing interview segments, from the "Beat Club" program in Germany. It's such a shame that American TV at the time was so focused on pap (has anything changed in the last 40 years?), while our European brothers and sisters got to enjoy the real deal. American affluence, arrogance, and complacency squandering the essence of the culture once again, while others happily pick up the pieces and treasure them. Rinse and repeat. Love me some Curtis Mayfield.