Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Scenes from London life


GBV @ Oyafestivalen, Oslo, 2011

I've linked to a couple of segments from this in a previous post, as it features my ex-patriate Memphibian friend Vanessa, and her husband Gavin, if only briefly. A few days ago, the whole show suddenly appeared online. This is a genuinely good set, and an interesting document. The sound is better than usual in the numerous audience videos, being a TV broadcast, and it's interesting to see a band accustomed to playing two or three hour shows having to adjust to a tightly-managed 60-minute slot, paring the set list down to (apparently) the material they feel most strongly about. The playing is also very solid and together all around (though Kevin Fennell's face suggests he is fighting for his life), as is Bob Pollard's performance. It occurs to me that 60 minutes isn't quite long enough for anyone to get drunk enough for things to really deteriorate as they might in longer shows.

Friday, 22 February 2013


I'm really looking forward to seeing these guys at their London gig in a couple of weeks. Sam and Eric (who is from Memphis) were in Shrimp Boat, with whom the Grundies did some very enjoyable gigs in Memphis and Chicago back in 1992. They were exceptionally gracious hosts in their communal living space in Chicago, and I have very fond memories of that time. Somewhere, buried in my archives, is a nice version of a Shrimp Boat song called "Showboat," which bears no relation to The Sea and Cake song of the same title, with me playing tenor sax badly, recorded at their rehearsal space, on that trip. Which is another way of saying, please enjoy this completely unrelated piece of very fine music and film.

Jello and Juggernauts

Yeah, I know this song is from a 2011 album, and that the band has an excellent new album out, which I also own and love. But, I was in town today for an interesting meeting in the morning, and afterwards, I wandered around Westbourne Grove/Notting Hill in the cold and indifferent snow flurries (because I was already there, not because I wanted to be there), listening to this song several times in a row, with a smile on my face. So there.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Transformed Dub

I don't quite know quite why or how, but it hit me recently that my dear friend Linda Heck's song "Transformed" might make a nice candidate for a dub treatment (I also have a spoken-word "William Shatner" version in reserve). This was fun to make, and she seems to like it.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Stranger in Town

This is a cover of a song by my friend Mark Harrison, who is the founder (and, I believe, sole regular member) of Snakehips. It appeared on his first album, from 1993, called "Lit," and it's always been one of my favourites by him. I'd been thinking of covering it for some time, but I didn't just want it to be a recreation of his version, and one day it hit me that something along the lines of Little Feat might be an interesting context. So that's what I did.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Universal Truths and Cycles

The world is full of universal truths. One such universal truth is that everyone will be made (or be found to be) redundant (in some sense of the word) at some point in their lives. And everyone knows that things come in cycles, including redundancy. As of yesterday, I am in the third wave of my redundancy super-cycle. Time to catch up on my YouTube viewing. Here's one I stumbled on by chance - a tour de force live performance of the entire album (possibly for the first time), with spectacular banter from Bob Pollard, and even better, fellow Memphibian Dave Shouse (of The Grifters, et al, whom I first met in 1981) gets name checked at the get-go for opening the show.

Thursday, 7 February 2013


Fittingly, it was just today that I realized that Linda Heck yesterday posted this track to her SoundCloud. I think it may well be my favourite song of hers, and I love this recording of it (I've also done my own, in typically primitive fashion). It comes from the "Lost Album," most of which was recorded at Easley - McCain in Memphis in 1991, with a few songs and overdubs added in 1992, before being somewhat hastily mixed and then, more or less, abandoned. I still hold out hope that it may eventually be released in some form. There are 21 songs on it, in all, and I like all of them, but some clearly stand out from others. I think this one is the real highlight, and I stand by my description from a previous post:

"One of the very best Linda Heck songs, and one of the most exciting to play live in my opinion. Written for the late Craig Shindler to wish him well at a low point in life, it has a positive message characteristic of its vintage:

'Pain will go, before you know,
Let it fall away,
Happiness is within you,
And it can be today'

It's an unusual and intriguing structure, which is probably why I have always liked it, because it feels like it's always moving to a new level. Starting in C and reverting there for the bridge, switching to B for the verses, with the odd A to F-sharp interlude. Outstanding performance from Doug here, and I like the rising harmony vocals in the instrumental section. Linda is sublime throughout."

I do recall that Doug Garrison (drums), who was a newcomer to all these songs, wasn't completely happy with his performance here, but we managed to convince him it was a keeper. He is such a consummate drummer that, even finding his way through the unusual section changes in this song, he brings a real drive and immediacy to the whole thing. I'm pretty sure it doesn't get any better than this. 

Monday, 4 February 2013

A visit to Sam Phillips Recording

Back in late December, I was invited to participate in a recording session at the amazing Phillips studio at 639 Madison, Memphis, TN. Misty White, composer of the immortal classic, "I Need a Ride," was doing a session with the wonderful Roland Janes, a genuine living legend and a very nice and entertaining man. I had some time constraints, and as the session structure was somewhat, uh, fluid, I ended up not playing a note. I did manage to take some photos, however, and I stumbled upon a disused studio down the hall containing old instruments and vending machines from God knows when.

Unintended consequences, or, how I gained 15 minutes of fame for accidentally writing a gay anthem...

There are a few universal truths in life which are indisputable: you can't escape death and taxes; a watched pot never boils; corporate lawyers are spiritually and emotionally dead; there's nowt so queer as folk.

A little over a week ago, I awoke and logged on to the interwebs, to check email, Facebook, and a few other sites before getting on with my day. One of the more masochistic aspects of my morning web regime is checking my SoundCloud account, a typically thankless task which never fails to remind me that I make music for my own enjoyment rather than attention or adulation. I typically find a number of listens in the single digits over the preceding 24 hours, or, if I'm lucky, in the low teens. Last Sunday, however, I saw over 200 listens overnight, all to the same track - "Truckstop of Your Love," a cornball country parody of Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love."

The torrent of listens continued into Monday/Tuesday, and then gradually faded away over the rest of last week. As at this writing, the track has had over 970 listens, 90% of which have occurred during the past week. By contrast, the next-most-listened-to song in my site has 136 listens.

So, what could be behind the sudden viral popularity of this inane little track? A resourceful friend did some Googling and emailed me to inform me that a link to the song had been posted to a blog. I would post a link, but this is no ordinary blog, being devoted to, er, well, ahem, aficionados of mens' rooms in truck stops. If you're not into that sort of thing, I wouldn't want to inflict it on you, and if you are, then surely you can find it yourself.

There, among countless photos of well-endowed young gay men urinating in truck stops across the country, suddenly pops up my humble song. I confess that I am somewhat baffled, given that my lyrics are plainly about a waitress, but maybe there's some sort of crypto-transvestite vibe there of which I was not previously aware.

Anyway, I guess fans are fans, and I shouldn't complain. Keep on truckin', girls!


You never know who you'll meet in SE22

For a few years now, my younger daughter has been friends with a very nice child in her class, who is usually dropped off and picked up by her dad. With slightly Mod-ish hairstyle and rakish good looks, and somewhat unique in being even older than me among a group of seemingly ever-younger dads, I never gave him much thought, and we've never really had occasion to talk. Then one day I found out he is a space rock legend. You just never know...