Frank died 27 years ago today. An excuse to post a clip of Dweezil playing my favourite FZ song.
Of all the occupations that lend itself to careful archiving, rock star isn’t an obvious contender. Particularly the life of someone who allegedly embraced wanton debauchery with as much enthusiasm as Jimmy Page. How could he possibly have found the time I hear you ask. Well, it seems somehow he did.
Back in 2014 “Jimmy Page” arrived – a sumptuous 500 page high quality photograph laden autobiography, more coffee table than book. But such is the range and depth of Jimmy’s archive, this second volume presents “the detail behind the detail”. And he’s not kidding.
Even if, like me, you’re not a Led Zep aficionado, this tome still draws you in. There’s not just all the guitars – the first Hoffer, the twin necks, the black Les Paul Custom with the Bigsby arm (and the loan agreement that he bought it on) – there’s the entire set up for the recording of “Whole Lotta Love” (guitars, tape echo and cabinets), diaries, jackets, tour carnets, studio logs, posters, trousers, contracts and page after er… page of pictures. There’s even the banjo he played on “Gallows Pole”, the guitar he used on the “Death Wish” soundtrack and handwritten notes » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
Every year, in the last week of February, Joe spends four or five hours turning off all his amps before he goes up into the loft at Nerdville, and chooses a jigsaw. For the next 3 days, he sifts edge pieces then slowly fills in the rest of the picture. He limits himself to as few glimpses of the picture on the top of the box as possible and works in absolute silence. Exactly a week later they go back in the loft. Then, fully rested, the amps come back on and it’s back to work.
For the other 51 weeks of the year Joe writes, records and performs, ensuring that his annual delivery of a studio album, a tour, a live album and then another tour continues uninterrupted. Jigsaws don’t pay for themselves, and Joe is the hardest working man in rock n roll.
In case anyone was worried that Joe was slacking off the pace this year, fear not. He has released an updated version of “A New Day Yesterday” called “A New Day Now””, and that was on top of an instrumental album under the name The Sleep Eazys, titled » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
As a cash strapped music fan who started buying albums in the mid 70’s, each purchase was thoughtfully evaluated to ensure they would provide the best head bang for my buck. Artists like Rory presented a dilemma as his solo back catalogue was already eight albums deep; the risk of picking the wrong one was too great. So I resorted to a compilation, helpfully titled “Rory Gallagher” – his name spray painted on the cover alongside a single film roll style snap. Problem solved.
Since then there have been there have been several more compilations -“Etched In Blue” in 1992, “Big Guns – The Very Best Of” in 2005, “The Essential” in 2008, and “Crest of a Wave” in 2009. So, why another now? Well, more recent releases such as “Blues” from 2019 and “Check Shirt Wizard” earlier this year seem to have sold well enough to prompt another compilation, no doubt helped by the fact that the earlier ones are now becoming hard to find.
This new “Best of” comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, with 30 tracks on the 2CD version. The track selection will look familiar to most Rory » Continue Reading.
With his fifth book in as many years, its apparent that Hepworth’s mix of opinionated argument underwritten by detailed research topped up with some good natured mocking of his subjects is proving popular. This time, Hep turns sets his sights on the ebb and flow of how British musicians changed American music but in turn how the biggest market in the world changed them.
For serious fans Hepworth’s research may not be breaking any new ground but the fun comes from how he stitches it all together, and focusing on just one artist is an oversubscribed market. Yes, there’s all the stuff we’ve heard before about the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show, how Brian Jones wanted to be called Elmo, but as familiar as this might be, it’s the picture that Hepworth paints around them that makes it an engaging read.
Starting from the premise that British groups gave the US the first real “bands”, replacing all the “Bobbies” that were at the top of the US charts at the time (Vee, Rydell, Vinton, Goldsboro, Darin), he manages to knit this to how The Dave Clark Five’s (leader Dave “untroubled by modesty from an early age”) barrack » Continue Reading.
The success of Adam Kay’s “This Is Going To Hurt” (more than a year topping most book charts, TV series etc) has had publishers eagerly looking out for a successor, and the 14 way auction for the rights to “Anti-Social” suggests they thought they had found one.
You can see why. Author Nick Pettigrew was a 15 year veteran Anti-Social Behaviour Officer, a stand-up comedian with two Edinburgh Festival shows behind him and published in the Daily Telegraphy the Daily Mash. Ker-ching.
Pettigrew tries to tread a tightrope between looking for laughs in the absurdity of his day to day case load, and the innate misery and anguish that he and so many of his clients face. Unfortunately for my money he mostly falls off. So often, it just feels he’s trying too hard to milk laughs out of something that in so many respects just isn’t funny, relying on metaphors that feel strained and a distraction.
Which is a shame, because when not crowbarring in gags, Pettigrew offers up some erudite and powerful analysis of just how miserable life for some of the most disadvantaged in the UK has become. His explanations of why drug » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
OK, let’s just cut to the chase. The Wagons are not likely to find much favour here at the Afterword. There won’t be any top 100 listings. They are pretty much exactly what their name suggests – a thundering blast of high energy rock, thin on pretence, relentlessly high energy.
And I find myself enjoying this release all the more as a consequence. There’s no introspective noodling, no wistful, artful coyness. Instead there’s riff after riff, a high energy celebration of life and no small amount of humour. “Pressure” pokes fun at the critics, whilst “Professional Creep” Metallicaesque thrash smuggles includes the refrain “And you look like Meryl Streep ….. you’ve got a luncheon meat physique”. Well, it made me laugh. “The Curry Song” pays homage to the nation’s favourite dishes flipping from pounding chords to hook laden choruses in way that would be familiar to fans of System Of A Down, and closing song “Matter Of Time” is the only plodding effort that misses the mark.
Wagons strike me as a band made for festivals and a foot stomping good time. How can you not love a band who called their first release » Continue Reading.
I’d welcome some advice from the collective wisdom here.
I’ve had a letter from a debt collector chasing £65 that a utility provider claims is owed to them. They were the provider to the rental property that I moved into at the start of the year, but whom I switched away from within days of moving in.
I knew I owed them for a week or so of supply, but it was evident the bill was just for supply prior to my tennancy. I tried to sort this out with them and in the end they told me – over the phone – to leave it with them. I heard no more – the letters ceased and they never sent me a bill for my week or so with them. The account I had opened with them was deleted. However it seems they’ve sold the debt on.
At the moment, they don’t have my name – they are writing to “The Owner / Occupier”. That would seem to limit their chances of chasing me, and I’m ex directory but I am on the electoral roll, so if they can be bothered to search Iassume they can make the » Continue Reading.
I picked this book up because a mate of mine hovered around the edges of Bromley’s first team many years ago (as a player that is. Not a stalker). I wasn’t aware that Dave Roberts had already documented his love affair with one of south London’s less finer clubs in “Bromley Boys”, which also became a film. As books go, it’s very much a read of two halves.
The premise is simple enough – starting in 1968, would the 14 year old Roberts ever see his team make it to Wembley? What would the next 50 years reveal? Well, at the risk of being a little unkind, it suggests that whilst the barrel wasn’t being scraped, it had certainly been heavily plumbed for “Bromley Boys” and “Home and Away” which charts his travels to non league grounds around the country.
Here and there it’s quite funny, and it’s always very self aware and depreciating- in fact at times too much so. The quirks of the hardcore fans, the dismal rivalries and the idiosyncrasies of non-league grounds, the mug collecting are bought to life and will raise a smile with anyone whose watched a sport away from the glamour » Continue Reading.
Few people battle their employer and force them into a highly embarrassing admission that they had paid them unfairly for years. Even fewer then continue to work for the same company and hand their £360k settlement to a charity. But that’s what Carrie Gracie did.
Gracie was BBC News’ first China editor, leaving the role after 4 years in 2018 having been balked and brushed off in her attempts to get a coherent explanation from the BBC as to why she was paid so much less than other editors such as Jon Sopel and Jeremy Bowen. It was an exceptionally courageous step – it must take a ferocious level of nerve and determination to render yourself unemployed, and take on one of the world’s biggest and best known media organisations. Particularly when it’s an organisation you otherwise respect and love working for, and know that your actions will be seized upon by the dullards who pounce upon every opportunity to eviscerate or argue for the elimination of the BBC.
Upfront, Gracie clarifies that her issue with the BBC was about unequal pay- “Pay discrimination is the gender pay gap’s dirty secret”. It’s also illegal, unlike gender pay gaps, » Continue Reading.
My car hasn’t moved off the drive in the last 3 months. Partly because during the locdown I’ve had nowhere to go, and more recently because bouts of vertigo make it unsafe for me to drive. The upshot of this is a vehicle with a lot of cobwebs hanging off the mirrors, decorated with more bird poo than you’d think possible, and a totally flat battery. Still, it wasn’t all downside. For being off the road for 25% of the year my insurer gave me back 3% of my annual premium.
My question is – should I reckon on doing anything more than just getting the car jump-started? I wonder if the brakes may have bound on, if oil has “settled” (if that’s even a thing), or if tyres will have the mechanical equivalent of bed sores. I know there are a few pertolheads here – any advice?
Struggling to find the perfect gift for that Afterworder in your life, the man who has everything. Well look no further …
What could be better than a personal greeting from Steve Vai, Flavor Flav, Rick Nielsen or even Justin Hawkins? I’ve wasted more time on this site than I care to admit.
What does it sound like?:
Originally released in 1976, this compilation looked back over the prior 5 years, combining songs from all the studio releases to date plus their non album chart topping singles. Oddly, whilst the album name referenced the general term the band used for live shows, the album for the most part was taken from studio releases.
Opener “Hurry On Sundown” from the debut album is a real earworm of a track, psychedelic without being stoned and a glimpse of what had gone before when busking had been Dave Brock’s main way of earning a living. Thereafter the tracks catalogue the interest in levitating minds (“in a nice way”) with a “completely audio-visual thing”.
Capturing the immersive sights and sounds of a band that thrived on long jams on record can’t have been easy and the further challenge here is that individual tracks have been extracted from different albums. Nonetheless, the album hangs together well, mixing the trippy soundscapes of “Space Is Deep” and “Wind of Change” (popular with mates of mine at the time for testing hi-fi speakers) with the pulsing “You Shouldn’t Do That”.
The inclusion of “Silver Machine” and “Urban Guerrilla” (which » Continue Reading.
Today was a bit of a struggle until I saw this.
£3,000 to be a honoured guest? Am I reading that right?
Sadly, Mike Appleton, the man behind the Old Grey Whistle Test has died. From David Hepworth’s blog
“I’m regularly asked to name the records that changed my life. If I’m perfectly honest records never changed my life. However, a handful of people did. Mike was one of that handful.”
Whistle test has a vital part of my musical education, screened at a time when access to music wasn’t easy. I’m sure we will all have memorable moments from the shows.
This is one of mine
What does it sound like?:
What was very nearly the name of Free’s second album (taken from Kerouac’s novel) finally surfaced as Bad Co’s 5th album, first released in 1979. This time round there are 19 extra tracks, most of which are alternate takes.
In the 5 years since their debut Bad Company had established themselves as the platinum album global stadium act. Not that you would have expected much else given their Free and Mott credentials along with Peter Grant’s management heft. And whilst they were untroubled by punk, there’s a melancholy weariness here that saw this incarnation of the band manage just one more album. Or as Rolling Stone said at the time, the ballsy rocking was constrained by “a jockstrap of despair”. Now there’s a band name in the making.
The album yielded two strong singles – the well known “Rock N Roll Fantasy” and less familiar (but equally as good) “Gone Gone Gone”. Thereafter pickings were slim. It’s not that there were any real stinkers (although for me the plodding “Early In The Morning” certainly whiffs a bit), it’s just that the rest remain fairly unremarkable. “Crazy Circles” suggests a beefed up “Seagull” from the » Continue Reading.
Oxford New Theatre
So, Dweezil is 50 and so is Hot Rats, and a bunch of predominantly old farts turned out to celebrate. It was my second DZ gig in Oxford, having lucked into a front row seat to see him play Apostrophe, my all time fave FZ album, complete with some pre hologram guitar interplay with some film clips. That evening set the bar pretty high and I wondered how well an evening of Rats would compare.
This time I was accommodated in the middle of row N – a good view of the stage for sure (in fact better than the front row where the back of the stage drops out of sight), but in seats that only a midget could describe as comfortable. The woman next to me liked to mark time with her right foot – I know because I felt every slightly off the beat stomp. More than a little distracting.
But what of the music? The mix was clear and not so loud as to trouble those of us with hearing aids, although not quite loud enough to drown out the Boden clad arsetrumpet behind me who clearly hasn’t had » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
In the “Two Weeks” booklet that’s part of this re-mastered set Cousins explains that he was keen to record songs that he couldn’t interest his Strawbs band mates in, or had “drums and electric bass too high in the mix” for the folk fans that had lapped up the Strawbs “Grave New World”. This meant he could bring in Roger Glover, re unite with Rick Wakeman and have the Keef Hartley Band’s Miller Anderson play guitar.
Nonetheless, it’s not a rock opus. The title track is a twinkesome and frothy, whilst the vocal only “October To May” would fit any folk album, as would the simple piano of “That’s The Way It Ends”. Cousins stretches out more on “The Actor” which has in your face wah guitar from Anderson, but is ruined by a vocal that’s been run through some kind of oscillator. Luckily on one of the bonus tracks you get a version with unprocessed vocal that shows how good the song otherwise is. Wakeman does a splendid job on “Ways and Means” although sadly the vocals are once again phased and flanged to no beneficial effect, and this time the bonus alternate » Continue Reading.
I have the chance to spend a day in Vienna in late January on the way back from a business trip – 6 or 7 hours I reckon. Flight and hotel paid for. I’m procrastinating because it will be cold and its a busy month for me. But it’s a chance to see somewhere that to date I’ve only seen the airport and the train station.
Should I go? If so where. Any hotel advice?
PS: I know that this will mean nothing to some of you here.
Aspiring writers are often told to write about what they know, and for his first novel Collinson evidently has. Just like central character Adam Fairhead, Collinson worked in Los Angeles as a record company executive, and credits his Uncle Ian with the bird watching knowledge which is tightly woven into the book. Perhaps not two of the most obvious of subjects to combine – “birding” and LA’s hipster music scene, but it works better than you might think.
The book is engagingly scathing in its depiction of the music industry. Record company underling Scott is a wonderfully drawn vacuous sycophant, while boss Jason (rather irritatingly called the Autodidact for most of the book) is every inch the narcissistic twit. Whilst most of the performers are spared, the managers and promoters are excoriated in detail. The cynical manufacturing of modern music is shown at length and inevitably there are tales of excess and debauchery. Whilst hedonism is natural backdrop to Fairhead’s line of work, his indulgence came to feel at odds with the his otherwise obvious self-awareness and insight. Whilst neither guarantee any self-discipline Fairhead’s poor decision making did start to test the limits of credibility a little.
Collinson » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
This album counts as release number 14 for the ELO, and the second for this Jeff Lynne badged incarnation. I always though Jeff Lynne was the ELO and this album – where Jeff plays most of the instruments and does all the vocals – suggests this is truer now than ever before.
Truth be told, it took a few plays to warm to the album. But such is Lynne’s skill as a writer and performer that bit by bit it grew on me. The trademark rich multi-layered sound is very much in evidence right from the start with the title track, a toe tapper with a simplicity that gets better with each spin, and track 2 “Help Yourself” continues in a similar vein.
That said it’s a somewhat restrained start and I found myself enjoying the album more as it went on. Third track “All My Love” is a shuffle that’s more infectious than monkeypox and you’d think hard to top until you hear the following track “Down Came The Rain”. Ballad “Losing You” follows, carried mostly by Lynne’s vocal which possibly isn’t quite enough.
“One More Time” provides a change of gear » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
So here’s your Van Halen starter for 10. No conferring. If you can buy a box set that contains the 6 CDs that VH released between 1978 and 1984 for £16, how much would the 13 singles released in Japan across the same time period be? Why, of course – £121. But I would also have accepted $130 – the cost of the red vinyl set exclusive to Rhino, including original artwork and a nice storage case.
But let’s not quibble about cost. The 26 tracks featured on these singles represent some of the very best of Van Halen. Their ground breaking first album – I’ve no truck with anyone who disputes Eddie’s iconic status – accounts for 3 of the 13 including “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” backed by “Runnin’ With The Devil” and the monstrous “You Really Got Me” cover.
“Dancin’ The Night Away” was the first single – and best track – from the uneven second album, backed with the more throwaway “Spanish Fly, whilst the follow up pairs the more clunky bombast of “Somebody Get Me A Doctor” with a very flat sounding “Women In Love”. “And The Cradle Will Rock”” » Continue Reading.
I’m determined not to go back to the black shiny stuff but the gadget lover in me is drawn to things like this. That said at €1500 (including the 25% discount) I won’t be first in the queue but anyone here tempted ?
What does it sound like?:
Despite starting life as a one-off tribute to Mott The Hoople, the Down’n’Outz (Def Leppard’s Joe Elliot backed by most of The Quireboys) return with their fourth release and the first to consist almost wholly of new material albeit with a very 70’s vibe.
Opener “Another Mans War” starts with majestic piano, before breaking down to more of a three chord stomp-a-long with strong Mott overtones. Title track “This Is How We Roll” is a full tilt belter with the wah pedal to the fore and Elliott’s voice showcased, sounding better than ever. “Goodnight Mr Jones” – a farewell to Bowie – takes the foot off the gas playing in an orchestra, more in sing along mode, saved from being too saccharine by some deft minor chord changes and another fine guitar solo (a “stripped down” version – that sounds almost identical to me – closes the album).
“Creatures” could have been part of the “Bugsy Malone” soundtrack, a catchy song evoking a jaunty fair ground and whilst “Last Man Standing” sits in fairly standard ballad territory, although it grew on me just a little bit more with each play and does better than “Walking » Continue Reading.