The Who at their finest, even with the evident use of Uncle Sigmund’s Peruvian Marching Powder.
"It is not worth the while to go round the world to count the cats in Zanzibar" – Henry David Thoreau
Friend Kevin dropped in a couple of days ago. He lives just down the hill in St. Werburghs. He drops in so often we have now nicknamed him … The Lodger. He drinks tea by the gallon and eats us out of house and home in his own weight in Malted Milk biscuits. Not a problem. We love him and we are well used to visitors. We used to have half the members of Bristol bands around practically every night, doing their thing.
Kev was Bass player for Colour Tapes and Maximum Joy back in the 80’s, and he brought news (and a couple of tickets) that Ryley Walker is playing The St. Georges Hall in Clifton on Feb 17th. I had never heard of him. He is a 25 year old American who is described as playing guitar like Bert Yansch and singing like Tim Buckley. Well that gets my instant and undivided attention . Bert Yansch was a member of Pentangle and an extremely fine guitarist. Tim Buckley is one of my all time favourites, who I was privileged to see twice. Once in Max’s Kansas City, in New York, when straight off the plane from Heathrow. We had a booth with waitress service right next to the stage, and our completely unknown waitress was Debbie Harry. Man what a night that was! The last time ,Buckley opened for the Allman Brothers at the very first Knebworth, and it was a tragedy for me because nobody noticed or knew who he was. They were all jockeying for space, rolling spliffs, getting the beers out. There was so much blue denim, the whole crowd looked like the Union Army camped out on the eve of Gettysburg.
Now young Ryley is being accompanied on his tour by Danny Thompson, the finest stand up Bass player in the UK, if not the world. Danny, I have seen many a time. He was in Pentangle with Yansch, he played with Buckley in 68 and many more, like John Martyn. If he is by your side, you know you are premiere division!
So I am looking forward to a bloody good night. The St Georges Hall has probably the finest acoustics in the country. And if you live in London, Manchester, Dublin and a few other places, check out the tour dates, because I’m sure if you are a music lover, it will be worth the effort to see them.
It’s my birthday today. No, don’t make a fuss, I don’t. Who needs to celebrate one more year closer to the Great Check Out Till in the Sky? What I usually do is indulge in a bout of meditative introspection. Survey my past and reflect on my future. Run the film of internal memories and milestones in my head and ponder the vagaries of fate.
My earliest and most seminal moment was accidentally seeing the Beatles live when I was 11. It blew me away, from then on I was obsessed with music… all types mind, my tastes are nothing if not eclectic. By 15 I was in the front row for Hendrix, so close I could have touched him. I felt the heat from the flames when he torched his Strat. The next year I was shaking the hand of this guy after his gig at Sofia Gardens in Cardiff. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWLAAzOBoBI I didn’t wash my hand for a week in the forlorn hope that some of his magic had rubbed off on me. No such luck I’m afraid. Oh some folks think I’m a decent player, but with my critics hat on and a steady stare at my heart, I know I am not fit to shine BB Kings shoes. We lost one of the all time greats today my friends.And I really do mean that. Without him all those bands in the header would never have been heard of. His playing was truly lyrical, majestic, miraculous. Everybody wanted to play with him, but you had to be the finest of the fine to even keep up. But don’t be sad. He was 89 and still playing. Go listen to his music, there is loads of it, with every superstar playing a supporting role to his truly outstanding talent. Later I will tune up my box and pour a large single Malt and play a little music in memory of a man who really was a King.
Well we are back up, after yet another few days excursion up the backside of oblivion… sigh!!! You Counting Cats readers must be the most patient people (well probably down to person by now) in the Universe! So I thought I’d hip you to an internet radio station I discovered when in the South of France last year.
It’s called Ledjam radio, and it’s French. Now the French, bless them, are no great shakes at contemporary music. If Johnny Hallyday is still considered the biggest rock n roller they have ever produced, well it makes Cliff Richard look like Iggy Pop, doesn’t it? But they have great taste in other people’s contributions. The playlist is very eclectic in its taste and selection, as is your humble correspondent.
Give it a try and tell me what you think. If you run your cursor over the Now Playing flashing lights, you will get a biog of the band that is playing, if available. This is handy as you can, if you have never heard of them before, then pop over to Spotify or YouTube and check out more stuff by them.
It’s freezing cold here, and probably where you are too, I hope the sounds bring a little sunshine and warmth to you all.
In 1982, I am working for the Crown Court by day and slinging hot metal for Sounds Magazine at night. I’d been doing this for 6 years, so I knew nearly every musician of note in the whole Wales and South West region. And as our hospitality is legendary, quite a few have passed through our portals, to sample our fine food and wine (and those little rock n roll extras), and to find that the lady of the house is a pretty damn fine musician herself, on keyboards and vocals.
So I got this call from a Sax playing friend, Tony Wrafter, saying he’s blagged his way onto a Compilation album but he hasn’t got a band, just the name for one… Vital Excursions. He has to get his track recorded in the next 24 hours, or he loses the contract. Can he borrow Vanessa (Ness) ?
Well Ness, in those days, was painfully shy, so when I put the proposition to her, she was scared shitless; not because of her uncertainty of her own talent (she knows how good she is) but for being a bit bland or not living up to expectations. But she finally agreed.
We picked up a bloke in the car who was going to play Bass, but in fact what he played was a cello, and headed for some dark dank basement Studio in a Georgian House in City Road, it may have been Mushroom studios, I don’t remember. What I do remember is getting the beers and the Takeaway in.
All improvised, well except for Tony’s overdubs, and frankly there are a lot. The intro for instance… Nobody starts out with a riff like that in his pocket, he listened to Ness and layered over it, then picked up on her every mood and tempo change. No harm in that mind, except Ness never saw a red cent in royalties or even got a writing credit, and 80% of the heavy lifting is down to her.
Wrafter was a complete shit, who still owes me money and married a friend of mine, Gabby. Everybody at the wedding were taking bets as to how long it would last… 3,6,9 months? Because we knew our Wrafters from our beams of sunshine, didn’t we? It lasted 9 months actually. But he is a bloody good Sax player!
I was going to do a screed about Glasto in response to Samizdata’s post, but things have gotten away from me rather this weekend. For one we have been at a Nephew’s wedding in Cardiff last weekend, and the bloody dongle wasn’t working anyway…
Is Glasto better or worse than it used to be? Is it too Middle Class? Is it this… Is it that? Well if you want an honest answer, then it is ineffably better than it was.
I wrote that (hope you can read it, click to enlarge) for Sounds Magazine back in 1979. Back then Glasto was a half arsed hippy dippie festival that you had to provide all the jollies for yourself, there weren’t even bars back then( except for us Back-stagers). There were hot dog and burger vans and folks knocking out Falafal and curries. All kinds of alternative lifestyle stalls and two stages… The Pyramid and the Other Stage. There were theatre, cinema and comedy tents/stages too, but this was all in its infancy then. Now there are over a hundred stages catering from everything from Jazz to folk to Indie to Rave to… well you just cannot imagine what Glastonbury is like unless you have experienced it. In sunshine or in rain, in hail and mud (the British spirit of the blitz really kicks in with the mud!). It is truly Alice through the Looking Glass for three days or so. A world you would love to live in but like Brigadoon, vanishes oh so quickly and you have to get back to mundane reality and the 9-5 come Monday morning.
Now the above piece has an anecdote attached (don’t all your pieces?… Ed) I was a freelance and new kid on the block for Sounds Magazine when they commissioned me to do the first day and a half of the 79 Glasto. So off we set with our tent and provisions and it was just about possible to cover it as a music event with only two main stages. We had a wonderful stoned time and I went home to Bristol and wrote up my copy on the Sunday night.
Well I’m an Executive Officer in the Crown Court by day and a journalist at night at this time in my life, aren’t I? So I roll into the Crown Court around 9.30 ( I have always been allergic to mornings) with my pristine copy in my hand.
Sounds had a deadline of 12 noon on Mondays. So I made myself a cup of coffee and got on the phone to the Printers. Now my Seniors were always very indulgent with me, it must be my natural charm or something, because I used to get away with a hell of a lot. I even used the Chief Clerk’s office now and again because the Sounds secretaries were chosen for the size of their boobs and the shortness of their skirts, not their Shorthand skills, and took a fuckin age to get copy transcribed, and even then they often misheard it.
But anyway I’m through to the Printers with professional copy takers, people who can transcribe as fast or faster than you can talk… So did you stay the whole weekend and see all the bands? says the copy taker. Well of course we did! You don’t go home half way through a festival do you?… Great! says he… It’s like this… The Staffer who was supposed to cover the last day and a half, got so wasted he never even got out of the cark park, let alone saw the bands, so can you re-write your stuff and expand it to cover the whole festival?
This is how you hone the craft of Journalism ladies and gents… Not by going to Journalism School and learning about pyramid leads, it’s born of fear, adrenaline, and a ferocious deadline looming. I now had about 2 hours to re-write my copy to cover the whole festival and phone it in. I had no notes just memory and inspiration.
So sheepishly I asked my boss if I could take an early lunch…. Lunch! Lunch! you only just got here! It’s only ten o’clock for Christ’s sake!…. I explained, and again they were incredibly indulgent with me. I repaired to the tavern across the other side of Broad Street, got one in and set about my task in a sweat driven frenzy. The above is the result. Not my most pristine prose by any stretch, but I did the job.
The Glastonbury Festival is one thing you all should do before you die, it is like nothing else you will ever experience. provided you can afford it these days of course. I have never paid to get in.
Go home and put your best music on. Turn it up as high as it will go, and know that is something the Darkness can never take away from you…
Detective Inspector Fred Thursday.
Yes been watching the Agatha Christie channel (ITV3) again, twiddling my thumbs till the site came back up. And in the spirit of the message…
It’s nice to be back!
Yes, well you all know me well enough by now, a computer illiterate like me is hardly offering it now is he? Once again I’m asking the commenters advice.
The laptop has pretty much gone tits up. It is an 18” Toshiba that is about 6 years old and has served us very well. But now you can pop out for a pint in the time it takes to boot up, and when it does you’ve only just got into your emails when it crashes, and you get the “Will start normally in 28…27..26.. etc message. A pain in the arse quite frankly.
It has always been a bit of a clunker. It is big and heavy and the battery life has never been more than 2 hours, but the screen resolution is very good indeed, and the keys are comfortable to type on. The operating system is Vista.
So folks, what would you all recommend as a replacement? I don’t need it to be as big as the old Tosh, because it is a pain to lug around especially for travelling, but I do want it to have very good screen resolution, and a decent battery life and a keyboard that you don’t have to have the fingers of and Elf to type on.
I’m not against Tablets per se, except when I have used a friends iPad typing on it drives me out of my mind, almost as bad as typing on smart phones and sat/navs. And what of the operating system? Our current two computers run on Vista and I’m not wildly happy with it, to be frank I preferred Windows XP. What is Windows 8 like? And what of RAM and hard drive? The old Tosh is 3g RAM and 250g hard disk. I see some advertised now with 8g RAM and a bleedin Tetrabite of storage. What is that all about? I’d like to play games on it too, but the old Tosh was never very good at coping with them. So if you lovely people could help me out, it will be very much appreciated. I won’t say money is no object cos I is a tight arsed git, but I can afford top end of the range stuff if it is actually worth it.
PS… Oi Kitty Counters, get your fingers out and get some posts up! Yes I know there’s no news out there, and no news is good news, and good news is no news at all… But momentum momentum momentum chums
It is one of the best loved Christmas movies of all time, (it’s certainly one of my top five favourite films) but back in 1947 it was being accused of being Communist propaganda because the Banker character Potter, is portrayed as an evil money grubbing bottom line Capitalist. A bit far fetched for me I’m afraid.
Capitalists have never had a good Press have they? Can anyone name me a film or book where a Banker is the hero?
“Is it a bird? Is it a plane? no it’s Venture Capital Man and he has saved the day again! With his timely injection of cash the Dam was repaired, the Valley saved from flooding and all our children can sleep easy in their beds, well fed and prosperous for evermore. You’re my hero Venture Capital Man!”
It just doesn’t happen, does it?
Now don’t get me wrong, McCarthy was right ( if rather too paranoid and heavy handed), Hollywood was stuffed full of Luvvy Communists who were trying to push a Marxist agenda, but they were not hugely successful in getting the message across, because the essence of most films is the triumph of Good over Evil. The White hats win and the Black hats lose, it’s pretty crude at best, but hey that’s entertainment. What’s important is that the little people like us, the ones who provide the bums on seats, feel that we are on the winning side. However small and insignificant our lives that if we have friends and family who love us, and who we love back and help out when the going gets tough, then we are as important and consequential as Kings and Queens.
PS. You will notice on reading the article that Ayn Rand is mentioned as sitting on a committee that reported to the House Un-American Activities Commission. She gave evidence personally. Now quite what an upfront Libertarian is doing reporting to J Edgar Crossdresser and McCarthy is beyond my understanding of her Libertarianism. I wouldn’t have gone near Big Government witch trials myself. But then I have never read her and very likely never will. In fact the few details of her life and circle that I know of, I know for certain that she would never have been a friend of mine in real life. Do click on the link at the bottom of the Mail article, very illuminating.
So it only leaves me to say… for the day is almost upon us… A very Happy Christmas to all the Kitties that Kount, all our faithful Commenters, and yes to you, as yet unannounced, Lurkers in the Dark. Happy Christmas one and all!
Yesterday the Fail would have us believe that we are only a dream imagining ourselves, or perhaps someone or thing imagining us for us.
Today they are at it again. It makes the possibility of the Yellowstone Park super volcano blowing look positively mundane doesn’t it? And a couple of degrees increase in Celsius fade into comparative obscurity.
So what do you scientific types think? There is someone round here who has a bit of Physics under his belt but I can’t for they life of me remember who now, he is very reluctant to mention it you see.
Well bugger it, I’m going to live, and live and live again, until I die with a smile on my face. And we’re off out to have a drink with my old friend Jerry Dammers, who’s doing a little DJ-ing in town tonight. Merry Christmas all!
Yep that’s my mum. Born in Bedwas, a mining village across the valley from Caerphilly, in 1923. And yes she’s 90 today.
She almost didn’t make it past 5 though. My Grandfather, her father, the Welsh speaking one, was a manager at the Colliery there, and she and her two brothers lived in a company house. There were directly under the cable that took the huge cast iron skips full of slag and waste up to the top of the mountain and deposited it on the huge spoil tips that scarred all the Welsh Valleys. Well one early morning the cable snapped and several tons of cast iron bucket and slag practically demolished the house, took the roof right off, went through two floors and ended up in the kitchen. They moved to Caerphilly, sharpish.
There, of course, she eventually met my dad, which led to this little event in 1952. My Christening party in our garden in Caerphilly.
Now you can see that all of the folks in that picture are pretty old, except for my parents. Gramp Llewellyn on the left was already 90 there, and gramp Dan (the Welsh speaking one, looking like a pensive Woody Allen, on the right) had just retired from the Colliery aged 70. So I’m afraid that barring Comet strikes, unfortunate accidents and the like, given my gene-pool, you are likely to have to suffer my insane ramblings for another 30 years or so. Oh what joy I hear you all cry!
So please raise your glasses to a grand old Dame, the She Elephant of Heath Cardiff, my Mum. A lifetime of sparring with her verbally and mentally has made me the man I am today, and I love her to bits!
Click on the Pics to enlarge.
Almost inevitably it is… Experts warn… Scientists warn… Uncle Tom Cobbley and his Nanny warns, but this one is different, it modestly celebrates the raising of the wrist.
We tipplers have always known that the safe Units crap was made up on the back of an envelope, much like that secondary smoke will laser its way through walls and kill entire families while they sleep, especially the Cheeeldren!
And on the cure for a cold being alcohol (with a little bit of spicy help), I can concur…
Many years ago the Gay Buddhist, my wife and I were working our way down a bottle of Tequila. I had a stinking cold, and I mean really stinking , coughing up stuff that looked like well masticated Pistachios. Ness curled up and went to sleep, but the GB and I decided to go out for a curry, Cardiff Curry houses staying open till 3 in the morning in those days.
We both had a Vindaloo, and mine was so goddam hot my eyeballs were sweating. Then we went back to the flat and polished off the rest of the Tequila. The next day I woke up and the cold had completely gone.
So raise your glasses ladies and gentlemen…