Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Recent music-related birthday gifts:

I had wanted the Soft Boys live LP (on the left) for some time. By chance, spotted it in a record shop for the fairly high sum you'd expect - was told it had been brought in that week by a former band member, and I instantly recommended a loved one buy me it as a gift, and it was bought (lucky me!). And I personally bought Globe of Frogs, by Robyn Hitchcock which I was just as glad to have (Balloon Man and Flesh Number One (Beatle Dennis) are on repeat - Can you name any better song title than the latter? Can you name any other song than the former that merrily slips in a lyric about hoummous and chickpeas?

The live LP is the Soft Boys at Cambridge Portland Arms. It took place a couple of years before I was on this earth. It's as raucously joyous and off-kilter as you please, as one would expect. Plenty of jokey direct interaction with the audience, surreal stories spun, in-between-song banter, fond moments breaking into traditional acapella folk, and even a spot of ghastly mellow saxophone. The size of the venue lends the LP a cosiness; Soft Boys in your living room. In fact, the Portland Arms pub has recently undergone transformation and had building works in order for the gig room to be extended. I haven't seen it yet, but I can't help feel sad. Such a historical building, and its charm was how extremely tiny the back room was, and that you were crammed right in, right up against audience and band. I used to live there and it was a second home, one of my most treasured tiny snug venues for bands starting out. Anyway, imagine you were there in 1978, etc !

The Yann Tiersen LP (top right) was an album I'd wanted a while too. This LP comes with a CD version. This is the thoughtful, melancholy yet uplifting music I crave for autumnal times.

A friend got me up to speed on his recent music obsessions, giving me the albums by Wu Lyf, Crocodiles, and Dead Skeletons. By turns, holy, fuzzy, droney.

And I'm embarking on obtaining Edwyn Collins albums. I need to hear the most recent one, but here was Gorgeous George. I would not have appreciated this album in 1994, but now the slower songs and the tenderness, and the variety, and his more adult-orientated song-crafting are just great. I liked the pop of Orange Juice when I was a teenager - they hadn't been re-assessed as cool or directly ripped off much at that point.

The Last Stop Standing film was bought from Borderline Records in Brighton when I was there. The book was a fascinating journey in record shops/shopping. Even though I well knew it, I still got a genuine set of tears when the screen flashed up how there used to be over thousands of record shops in the UK, now the number scrapes a couple of hundred. Worth watching by any music fan. It makes you want to support any and all independent record shops even more (as if that were possible with me).

More pop star dreams

I'm still trying to work out why I dreamt about Mick Hucknell as a tramp in a donkey jacket, going through the bins in search of food.
Another of my CD racks has collapsed. I had to smile to see that the Chris Morris album landed face up and was looking up at me (from the stack of stuff that was balanced on top of the shelf). It's not really amusing though - I wish I knew a carpenter. I wish I knew carpentry! I seriously want to learn. I want to be able to build my own super-shelf. The age of flimsy, shitty flat-pack furniture. I can't even afford that at the moment.

Best thing I have turned into a CD shelf - a wooden vintage wine box that some fool was throwing away. I also rescued this huge white shelf with all different compartments to it that someone has left up for grabs in the street - it's perfectly sized for LPs, then DVDs underneath. I'm very John Peel about my music collection. One day I want a special room just for it. I'm also a geek for filing, and keeping things nice, neat, ordered. It actually fills me with huge lament that my collection has to lie strewn in an out of order mess, all chaotic and unloved, until I can sort out a better shelving arrangement. I did see a lovely handpainted wooden shelf in a junk shop in Greenwich - but I didn't dare attempt to wield it on any train.
Anyway, points for shouting out the albums you can recognise. More points for recommending affordable decent shelving. Even more points for volunteering your carpentry skills...
Currently listening to a handmade compilation tape that I bought for a few pence. And it turns out I like This Mortal Coil. Or at least, I like the song 16 Days. Also enjoying hearing the full version of Is This the Life by Cardiacs. You know, I had bought the single on 12 inch vinyl, from someone's front garden sale in Hampstead (bizarrely came across it one afternoon a few years ago), only I left it at someone's place and their cleaner has thrown it out - or is a secret fan, hmm.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

David Gedge interview

Happy to announce that I interviewed David Gedge of The Wedding Present, before their Seamonsters gig last night. To be featured in #2 of the main issue of The All Thrills No Frills Music Bill fanzine, very soon! As well as on http://www.godisinthetvzine.co.uk
Many thanks to David Gedge for his time and talk - discussing Seamonsters, Steve Albini, underrated albums, lyric-writing, pedals, and all sorts! Please look out for this issue, and support this little independent 'zine which makes no profit, and buy it via Etsy, or email, or from one of the many supportive independent music and books shops as listed in older posts here...! It will be great. This issue shall also feature a great interview with Amelia Fletcher of Tender Trap / Marine Research / Heavenly / Tallulah Gosh, amongst a myriad of other musical things!

And the performance of Seamonsters album was astonishing. Review of this has been drafted up today in my notebook, as I travelled up to Nottingham!

Dreaming of bands again

More bizarre dreams about bands. This time, I was personally exposed to the latest hip new young band according to the NME: half a dozen 10 year olds dressed up to the nines in circus outfits, including a clown with a ruff round his neck, and one of those pointy hats with a bobble atop. A sea lion featured on keyboards. I met them in a pub in Brighton.

Would be a great improvement on things...

Friday, 16 November 2012

Dreaming of pop stars

The Killers have clearly been advertised a lot in my face recently as they made it into my dreams the other night.
There was a gig in a field - with a wooden bar with beer pumps set up where the stage should be. After I stole a handful of badges from their merch stall - which was housed inside a red phone box - I made my way to the very front. There was a fight to be as close to the band as possible.
The bar remained where the stage was - suddenly the members of The Killers who arent Brandon Flowers (Well, can you name them? I consider myself a fair bit of a fan but I'm jiggered if I can! ) appeared dutifully to pull pints of ale.
My friends gave me their requests - suddenly I was faced with the prospect of relaying the order to Brandon Flowers -
'I'll have a Guinness, a whisky, and a gherkin, please.'

Now stocked in Housmans book shop, Kings Cross

The amazing radical, independent book shop Housmans now has stock of The All Thrills No Frills Music Bill, main issue #1 !

Such friendly, supportive staff, who were so glad to stock my fanzines.

It's a wonderful resource, completely unique - primarily political/social history books, but also covering many other topics. I was impressed by a brilliant stock of writing about London (I picked up Iain Sinclair's excellent psychogeography novel, Ghost Milk, which celebrates a vanishing London - the lay of the land, the architecture, the shift in how it is as a city since the swathes of dramatic, disgusting gentrification), and there are all sorts of off-kilter magazines, pamphlets, and posters/flyers, badges, DVDs, hand-made greetings cards, and so on, in too.

The £1 book sale / bargain basement are also a joy for those with modest incomes. I bought a book that evokes George Orwell's Road to Wigan Pier, only it covers 1980s life for the underclasses.

Go to Housmans, support independent book shops!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Cops and Robyn Hitchcock

I was virtually running round the house last night when I read about this gig:

November 17, 2012 – Kensal Green, London, at the Lexi Cinema. Robyn Hitchcock plays a one-off show, co-starring with the 1973 Clint Eastwood movie Magnum Force. The film – depicting an epic duel of personalities between ‘Dirty Harry’ (Eastwood) and his nemesis, Briggs (Hal Holbrook) – will stop at various points and Robyn will sing a song triggered by whatever has just happened in the story.

This is the gig of a life-time, and I have not been this excited about a gig in years! Robyn Hitchcock is a genius in the greyest of times, but he'll be bonkers brilliant joy for this. I wish I had the means to be a bootlegger!
I'm now set to wondering if the perfect, magical acoustic gig RH did last Autumn ever did make it onto DVD?

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

New stockist + SE London Zine Fair this Sunday!

I'm preparing for this Sunday's 'zine fair at the Amersham Arms in New Cross. Photocopying frenzy! Copies of The All Thrills No Frills Music Bill shall be on sale.

I'm attempting to make issue #2  of the main fanzine ready in time - featuring in depth articles on and interview with the splendid Tender Trap, as well as a host of articles, reviews, all sorts of adventures in music, and funny tidbits about a variety of bands/artists.

Issue one is still available via Paypal, Etsy, and in various record shops! Email me for more info. Or visit one of the following record shops:

Rough Trade West - had one copy left at last check! Or try online
Banquet Records, Kingston
Collectors' Records, Kingston
People Independent Music, Guildford

If you are a record shop and would like to stock copies, please do get in touch, I'd love to be stocked anywhere in the UK - or abroad! Thank you to the record shops I have been approaching so far - no knockbacks yet, I just need to get more organised and approach more stores! I'm really heartened at how supportive/enthusiastic so many people have been. Keith in Collectors' Records gets a big thumbs up for being kind, and for always having a good music chat with me. He also started reading my fanzine right away on the counter - now that's a true music fan! It's living breathing music fans and embodiments of music history/fandom that make music shops so vital to visit and support - you can't get the same help/chat/interesting insight from a download store!

I'm doing a deal with the three mini 'zines I have made so far this year - 50p for all three!! If you can get to SE London Zine Fest this Sunday 11th November! If not, email,or drop a comment, and we'll work something out. As long as I can cover photocopying costs/postage, I am happy. I have not made a penny from this zine so far, and do not expect/intend to, I just want to enjoy doing it, and hope others will.

Current listening: Jnr Murvin - Police and Thieves LP. I need to listen to reggae in this weather, to keep warm and happy!

Sunny pop

Make it feel like a pretty summer's day on holiday on this freezing cold November night! -

I've just been enjoying bopping to this whilst watching fireworks from my window!

I still miss Kenickie, and there's still not been anyone quite like them.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Brighton graffiti

Enjoyed this pretty cassette tape themed graffiti whilst wandering round Brighton recently. There was plenty of it, all around the city. This was on the downward walk from the train station to the sea front.

Had heard that Rounder Records was rumoured to be closing down, and spent a while trying to find the store - it was always a little tricky to find. Sadly, when we found the square where it was based, was faced with this mural tribute:

Resident Records survives, as do a large number of great little second hand shops, but it is sad to see this loss. Memories of one particular day trip, on a scorching hot day, when I bought Rattlesnakes by Lloyd Cole and The Commotions, plus a Royskopp album, and sat on the beach and walked all along the cliff tops, listening to both discs on my CD Walkman...

This visit, I had a good browse about the many music shops, and I bought The Last Shop Standing, the DVD about the closure of hundreds of independent record shops in the last couple of decades - the film is worth any music fan's time, as is the book. When the film flashes up that once there were over 2,000 shops, and now we are down to a little over 200, I must admit, I got a bit tearful. I love Borderline Records in the Laines. In fact the guy from this place was featured in the aforementioned DVD, and he's a very helpful, nice bloke. The carrier bags given with our purchases that day were outstanding, and I shall scan in a photo soon. I could buy a lot from here - it specialises in 60s/70s stuff, particularly psychedelic/garage/rock, and all kinds of specialist genres. My last purchases here was a sound recording of Jack Kerouac's poetry with live jazz music. My companion bought a compilation of 60s French female singer-songwriters, plus something by Brigitte Bardot.

Brighton was fantastic, as ever. I enjoyed the way that as soon as I got into Brighton, music played wherever I seemed to turn. The first cafe we happened to step into featured a Belle and Sebastian album playing, whilst cafe staff sung cheerfully along. Then wandering around the lanes, I smiled to hear one of my favourite Best Coast songs playing loudly into the street - from, not any kind of overtly music type store or hangout, but a bag/jewellery shop. On one of my last visits, I loved stumbling across a pub that was in the middle of a folk sing-a-long, and I had great fun sitting round the live musicians in the cosy, snug pub setting.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Wimbledon book exchange

I smiled when passing the book exchange in the waiting room on platform 5 of Wimbledon train station - a fanzine was placed on the window sill inside! I have been thinking of leaving my mini zines there for a while but every time I pass, I've forgotten and am empty handed. Not so today - today I could leave a lovely handful of the latest mini issue of The All Thrills No Frills Music Bill.

The zine I picked up in return was a railway walkers' enthusiasts magazine - excellent! not what I'd ever usually read so I enjoyed that little peek into this world - of lists of railway bridges, reports on disused railway line walks, and updates on minutiae changes to stations all round the UK. A strange breed of people - but I am the music fan equivalent so I identify, frankly.

I've thought of at least three people I could pass this little magazine onto and no doubt will. It feels good leaving your zine in random places. I finally had my first feedback from a stranger via a comment on here, and it felt good to have that communication, to know that someone gets what I'm doing and enjoys it.