As you know, I love the new Gretchen Peters album, Dancing With The Beast. This is my current favourite song. It is so evocative, has so much passion and tenderness and Barry Walsh’s piano playing is simply gorgeous.
I put my hand up six weeks ago.
After 40 years, I put my hand up and asked a question.
“Can you help me? Because I don’t think I can do this anymore.”
Luckily, the person sitting three feet from me was a GP.
“I can,” he said.
He sat and listened to me for twenty minutes, moving his chair so that he was directly in my eye line, even though I couldn’t make any eye contact. It’s a symptom of my depression.
He was wonderful. An anti-depressant prescription and a referral to Talking Therapies. He gave me his mobile number and told me to come back in two weeks. When I shook his hand he held mine in both of his. I looked into his eyes for the first time.
“ Trust me, that was the hardest thing you will ever do. That twenty minutes has taken you fourty years to get to but you will look back someday and it will be the best thing you have ever done. Well done.”
A week later I asked to speak to a particular lady in H.R at work. She could see I was distressed, got me a cup of tea » Continue Reading.
I’ll live the rest of my life by this lyric.
My fellow Woking FC nut, great writer and all around good guy, Malcolm Wyatt, has just published a new interview with the lovely Gretchen Peters. It’s a belter.
What does it sound like?:
This new album from Gretchen Peters is her first since 2015’s Blackbirds. Right off the bat I have to declare an interest here. I adore her. Some of her songs are amongst my favourite songs of all time and she has a special place in my heart because it was my late Mum who introduced me to her music.
I am very lucky to have had the review download for four weeks, so plenty of time to soak in these 11 new songs and to absorb myself in the worlds that Gretchen revels in. If I tell you that, in that time, I have hardly played anything else, it will give you an idea of how good this album is.
This is an album full of women. Some are feisty, some tender, some world-weary, some lost and some are in the most perfect place they want to be. Gretchen is a master songwriter, a consummate storyteller, who has a brilliant ear for a melody and a voice that is perfect for inhabiting the worlds she creates.
The opener is Arguing With Ghosts and the first few seconds take your breath away. “I get lost » Continue Reading.
The Garage, Islington
I love a Josh Rouse gig. I’ve done quite a few but I have to say this was one of the best. I’ve had the odd one or two where he seems distracted, as if he’d rather be anywhere but on the stage, but not tonight. The support was Field Division and I was disappointed. I’ve loved what I’ve heard but last night they were a bit non-descrpt. Nice harmonies, nice songs. Just nice. And, mate, if you’re going to play a 12 string acoustic, get a 2nd one so that we don’t have to watch you retune it after every nice song. By the time Josh and his wonderful band came out the place was packed. I had a great spot behind the mixing desk (with a shelf to lean me and my beer on) and the sound and lights were immaculate. So, with a new album, he’s going to do loads of it, yeah? Natch. Four new songs, broken up by a stellar Come Back (from 2003’s 1972) and then, BOOM. Winter in the Hamptons, My Love Has Gone, Love In The Modern Age, Businessman (my 2 faves from the new » Continue Reading.
We said goodbye to my best friend today. It was a lovely service, 28 people turned up (more than we expected) and author Paolo Hewitt and I shared our memories of him. When Paolo ‘went’ I thought there was no way I would hold it together but I did. I wasn’t going to let Des down. It has been the hardest four weeks of my life and all the work and effort to arrange everything (he was an orphan, the product of a 60’s & 70’s children’s care system that was not fit for purpose) has triggered a breakdown. I have finally thrown myself at the mercy of the experts, put my hand up, and asked for help. My friend of 44 years is gone, at just 61. His mental health struggles eventually beat him down but he is finally free. He went out to this. It is about Paul Kossoff’s struggles with drugs but I have always had Des in my mind when we would sing it. I grinned from ear to ear and stared at the coffin the whole time it was playing. Cheers, Des.
Bucks Uni Students Union, High Wycombe
Just back from an afternoon at The Ramblin’ Roots Revue, a 3 day festival of Americana and roots music that gets better every year. I went to see Bennett Wilson Poole but saw that The Arlenes were on a couple of slots earlier, and got there just as they started their set. I only have a few of their songs, all courtesy of my friend Des who sadly passed away 3 weeks ago and who’s funeral is tomorrow. When they played Springboard I shed a quiet tear. Magical. Next up were The Raging Beauties, a 6-piece which includes Robin Bennett from The Dreaming Spires, who also happens to be the “Bennett” in the band I’ve come to see. They were terrific, doing several songs by the late Bap Kennedy that they have recorded for a new EP. Great harmonies and a black and white Rickenbacker, what more do you want? Bennett Wilson Poole are the aforementioned Robin Bennett, Danny ‘Champ’ Wilson from Danny & The Champions of the World and the astonishingly good Tony Poole. I last saw Tony play with Starry Eyed & Laughing at a free festival in » Continue Reading.
In the summer of 1974 Des walked into the tiny bar of the Clavadel Hotel in Guildford, England. And into my life.
He has been my friend for 44 years.
We hit it off immediately. Music, the passion for records, the love of lyrics, the mindblowing musicians of the ’70’s, we loved it all. We spent hours and hours poring over record sleeves and lyric sheets, soaking in the names of the players, the instruments, the words. We laughed. We drank. We laughed some more.
When I had my worst breakdown, in 1994, we spoke for hours and hours. When he rang me from a railway bridge in 2012, I called the police and drove across London, and got him down. When he asked me for money, I gave it to him. When I asked him for help, he held me.
On Sunday night, my brother called to tell me that Des was in hospital. On Monday morning I was on the doorstep of the hospital, bleary eyed, exhausted. They let me see him. He was yellow, haggard, thin, old.
He had no idea I was there.
Years ago, he sent me a list of people to be contacted ‘in » Continue Reading.
I’ve had a bad week with that little fecker of a black dog. Bastard keeps nipping at my heels. I have certain songs that I go to when he’s around, but this is always the one that soothes my soul. It is my comfort blanket. Come on then you lot. Let’s do an old fashioned Friday night thread of songs that you go to when life is getting you down. What is your comfort blanket?
Whilst I’m in the mood.
The Arts Theatre, London
A musical about The Small Faces you say? Written by actress Carol Harrison (who plays Kay Marriott, Steve’s Mum, and who grew up in the same streets as the band) the musical tells the story of the band. The show has a clever device of using ‘older’ Steve Marriott as the narrator who is onstage for a lot of the show, even when the band play live, geeing them up and mouthing the lyrics. This works surprisingly well and the actor, Chris Simmons, is terrific. The question you’re all asking is, does ‘Steve Marriott’ have ‘the voice’? Yes, he absolutely does. The four actors in the band all play live, and really well, but Samuel Pope (younger Steve) is outstanding. His mannerisms, that shimmy across the stage, the low slung Gretsch, it’s all there. But, as they might say, ‘fack me, can he sing.’ The script is sharp and funny, the music is glorious and the small cast are excellent. Russell Floyd, who plays Don Arden, is brilliant. You absolutely hate his guts as he systematically works the lads into the ground whilst ripping every penny off them that he can. Andrew » Continue Reading.
A jangly guitar supergroup. Can’t wait.
Sort of…. A 3 hour special on Friday 23rd February, BBC 4.
Paul Simon, James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt were announced today as closing this year’s British Summertime run of gigs in London’s Hyde Park. I have seen Bonnie and James (and his wonderful All Star Band, including Jimmy Johnson, Michael Landau and Steve Gadd) many times. I have spent time with Bonnie’s fantastic guitar player, George Marinelli, and been invited backstage by him. Trust me, these people are amongst my favourite musicians on the planet. And they give great show.
So, why does the thought of this gig fill me with dread?
No, it’s not Paul Simon’s name sitting atop the bill. I’ve never seen him live and only own a double Greatest Hits collection, but I have nothing against him, and even feel that, given the chance, and the fact that he is playing just an hour from my house, I should go see him, before it’s too late.
No, that’s not it.
It’s Hyde Park. It’s standing. All fucking day. In the (possible) sun. It’s paying a week’s holiday’s worth of cash for a ticket on The Terrace, better toilets, a decent view and shade. It’s the 10.30pm finishing time, on a Sunday, when I’ll be lucky to be » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
Remastering and reissuing 2 albums from Wishbone Ash’s 1980’s period might seem a thankless (and pointless?) task, but the estimable Cherry Red Records have not only taken it on, but made a nice job of it too. The albums both come as a 2-disc package with extensive sleeve-notes by Classic Rock magazine’s Dave Ling, the blessing of the various members of the band (as well as the late Trevor Bolder’s estate,) and some previously unreleased extras. So, what do you get for your cash? Let’s do them in chronological order and start with Twin Barrels Burning. The album was originally released in 1982, as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal was shaping the rock landscape in the UK, and the influence of NWOBHM is hard to ignore. The sound is hard, with lots of big guitars, harmonies and songs about ‘ladies of the night.’ So, if your only exposure to the band was Argus, you were in for a shock. However, as Andy Powell says in the sleeve notes, the sound had nothing to do with NWOBHM, “the reason the album sounded like it did was simple – we had discovered ZZ Top.” » Continue Reading.
I just checked and it turns out that I have loved this song, a duet with Jackson Browne, for 24 years. How the absolute feck did that happen?
The album it is from, Living Under June, was released in August 1994.
Today is the 19th of January, which means that 24 years ago tonight I was lying in a bed in an Isolation ward in the Royal Surrey Hospital, Guildford, being treated for the ingestion of 300 Paracetamol pills and a half bottle of brandy.
The anniversary of this event has had varying effects on me during the intervening years. For at least 10 years I became a gibbering wreck, unable to function, invariably phoning in sick, and curling up in bed in a twisted, unnatural ball. But slowly, over the years since then, it has become easier. In fact, for the last 4 years, the date has passed unnoticed. So why this post?
Jann Arden’s Unloved cropped up on a playlist tonight. It isn’t the ‘be all and end all’ of my mental problems but it is one of a dozen songs that populated that year, and have been such a huge comfort to me, over the years. » Continue Reading.
As we all know, Steely Dan recorded that one great album, completed a short tour, and then split up. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen had a huge falling out (apparently over the ownership of a Bill Evans album) and never spoke again.
Following Walter’s death, last year, Donald gave his blessing to producer Gary Katz to go through the tapes of those album sessions, to see if there was anything worth saving. What Katz found blew his mind. “Man, we were all smoking so much weed back then that even I don’t remember one day to the next. I had a vague recollection of some song about pretzels but not much else. When I opened the box that Don had sent me the first thing I found was the final master tapes of the mixed album. Below them was another three reels of jams, conversations, rows and Skunk ordering pizzas. Lots of pizzas. Then, right at the bottom of the box was a blanket. I stacked all the tapes on my kitchen table and moved the empty box into the hallway. Man, it was heavy. Too heavy. I stopped and pulled at the blanket. Underneath, I got a glimpse of » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
Michael McDonald has been a voice in my record collection for 44 years. From his time with Steely Dan’s touring band, (and subsequent backing vocals on the Katy Lied, The Royal Scam, Aja and Gaucho albums) to The Doobie Brothers, some gigantic hits, session work with Christopher Cross, Stephen Bishop, Bonnie Raitt and Toto and then some huge solo (and duet) hits, heck, I seem to ‘got it all.’ His solo albums however have been patchy fare. Disregarding the 3 Motown covers albums (the great tracks from which would make a decent EP) he has made 6 solo albums in 35 years. Surely a call from The Blue Nile is imminent? Last September’s Wide Open is his 6th. And it might just be his best.
Of course the album is stacked with stellar session players, the cream of the crop. Why wouldn’t you want to be on a M.McD track? He has one of the great voices, instantly identifiable, liquid chocolate, huskier than a pack of huskies pulling a snow-sled, so you would, wouldn’t you? Robben Ford, David Paich, Steve Porcaro, Warren Haynes, Dan Huff, David Levita, Tony Lucido, Branford Marsalis, Marcus Miller, Tom » Continue Reading.
The first tear was the biggest. It bubbled in the bottom of my eye, nestling in the lower eyelid, sparkling from the deep blue-green of the iris. Finally, after an age, it spilled over, rapidly rolling down my cheek and onto my top lip.
She leant forward and carefully wiped the next tear away with her thumb.
“Don’t,” she said, “don’t.”
Like there was anything I could do about it.
“I want to stay friends,” she said.
Yes, that always works.
I took my glasses off and wiped my eyes with the back of my hand, sniffing.
“Is there someone else?” I asked. She shook her head, looking downwards.
‘Mate, of COURSE there’s someone fucking else.’
Two years, three months, four days. When you’re 18, that’s a bloody lifetime. She was the first. That means she will always be the first. Everyday. Always.
I went into the kitchen and wiped my eyes on the tea towel. Her mother came in, glancing sideways at my red eyes.
“Are you okay, Niall?” I shook my head. She turned to me, took me in her arms and softly kissed my forehead, brushing my hair to the side.
“You’ll be okay,” she whispered. I » Continue Reading.
The update (Fall Creators update, I think) appears to have wiped my pc. It also won’t let me role back to previous build because I have added an account. I haven’t. After the update it asked me to sign in with just my password, which I did. Has this created another account that is only letting me see a version of the system? When I go into Accounts there appears to be only one – me as Administrator. I am loathe to delete that account in case I can’t sign back in at all. I have tried System Restore – it couldn’t complete it (new build, I guess). I have a backup on an external drive but just wondered if everything is actually there – I just can’t see it.
Any help gratefully received.
My wife has a ticket for the show at The Barclaycard Arena, on Saturday 16th December. It is a £90 ticket, plus copious amounts of add-ons, which is going for £75. It’s a decent seat – Lower tier 4, row F, seat 139. DM me if you’re interested.
I first saw Jarrod Dickenson supporting Bonnie Raitt last year. He was captivating. Meeting him afterwards did nothing to change that opinion. He was lovely. Then, with this new album ready to go, and a UK tour booked, Decca made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. But, he had to delay the release.
Now, some 8 months later, the album is out. And it’s a belter. Bob Harris is playing the arse off it, there’s some great reviews and JD has just finished another UK tour. I couldn’t be more chuffed for him.
It’s great when good things happen to good people.
Circumstances have once again conspired against me and, for the 2nd year running, I will have to miss The War On Drugs in London. The gig is at Ally Pally, next Tuesday, and it is sold out. So I have a ticket going. With booking fees it was £38 but I’m happy to take £20 and I’ll post it out, first class.
Tickets on sale now, on The Cadogan Hall website, for Gretchen Peters. Wednesday 13th June 2018.