Any love for Madness here? They don’t seem to get written about that much on The Afterword. Their new album “Theatre Of The Absurd Presents C’est La Vie,” released in the last week, is an absolute joy. As a 13 year old ska fan in 1980 I was just a bit obsessed with The Specials, Madness, The Beat and The Selecter. As a result Madness are one of those kind of bands who you grow up with. The “nutty sound” of the first couple of albums, the surprisingly sophisticated Kinks influenced pop tunes that increasingly followed, and then into the more middle aged and reflective post reformation years. The latter period, for me anyway, seems to be a bit more mixed-some great singles and occasional album tracks but a little more inconsistent. Still plenty to like though. Despite the loss of Cathal Smyth, dance man/trumpeter/singer a few years back they seem to have morphed into a having a kind of London version of Buena Vista Social Club, not in their music but in that they know each other inside out and still get a lot of pleasure out of making music together in their more mature years. This new album » Continue Reading.
Hope the good people of the Afterword can help with this.
On the 28th November I am having a full knee replacement operation. I’m so pleased as it’s been getting steadily worse over the last few years, plus the resulting couple of months or so off work will be more than welcome. What I’d like to know is a couple of things:
1, Has anyone here had this done, and if so how was it for you?
2, In between physio there is likely to be a fair bit of sitting around. so any recommendations of any long multi series TV, or music docs on Netflix or Prime etc? Not so keen on sci-fi or fantasy type stuff.
Anyone watch this? It’s the latest Shane Meadows short TV series which came out on iplayer last week but I only finished last night. Based on the Ben Myers novel, a story of 18th century West Yorks workers who set up a counterfeit coin scam, this was a very different type of costume drama. Being a somewhat huge fan of Dead Man’s Shoes, Twenty Four Seven and This Is England etc I had high hopes for this, Meadows’ first attempt at a period drama. Despite the slow pace and relative lack of incident in episode one, this improved quite quickly in episode two and with all the usual Meadows fare in place (good soundtrack, great semi-improvised dialogue, some of the usual actors from his other films) this was, overall, a straightforward and decent addition to the canon, without being anywhere near the standard of the films and shows outlined above. I will be reading the book which will be an interesting comparison. Thoughts anyone?
Last week’s highly informative retirement post has got me thinking. While I can’t realistically afford to retire and do absolutely nothing yet, our finances are such that I could afford to scale back or maybe even go self-employed. My financial advisor (Mrs L) is even being very supportive about this. I also have a growing feeling that if I don’t do this soon, I probably never will! The background is that I work in the SEN (Special Educational Needs) field and have years of department head experience in Ofsted Outstanding colleges. I know for a fact that parents and local authorities would be prepared to pay for the knowledge, support and guidance I could give them and their kids as they negotiate their way through the minefield that is SEN provision as well as helping them achieve individually. I probably lack the same skills as many others considering taking the plunge into self-employment in that what I am less sure of is a knowledge of marketing, self-promotion and simply being able to get the message out to people beyond my immediate contacts and initial targets. So over to you…realistically, how challenging is this stuff? Word of mouth in my area » Continue Reading.
Yes, it’s another ask the Massive I’m afraid, I hope some will indulge me. Mrs L is 50 in February so we are going to Berlin on Feb 11th for a five day break, staying on Alexanderplatz, which seems reasonably central. Anyone have any recommendations for anything in the way of sightseeing, music-related, walks, places to eat, museums, independent shops for Mrs L etc? Any thoughts would be very much appreciated.
How do you normally feel when one of your favourite bands from a misspent youth decide to reform? Nerves, due to that “can they still do it” feeling? Excitement, tinged with the fear of potential embarrassment? Well leading up to this chilly night in Medway I felt neither, mainly because Graham Day and Allan Crockford have played together regularly over the years and Hammond man James Taylor should need no introduction due to the Acid Jazz work of his Quartet. Only drummer Johnny Symons hadn’t kept his hand in over the last thirty years or so. 62 miles is a long trek for me on a school night but great mid-eighties memories of seeing this band in small London venues such as Hammersmith Clarendon, Kennington Oval’s Cricketers, The 100 Club and others meant it couldn’t be missed. This then, the first of a four night reunion at the wonderfully old school Royal Function Rooms, its main room being a Victorian Music Hall, (with what was apparently the second oldest purpose built stage in England) and possibly the ideal setting for this band, its roots so very much in the sixties influence of The Kinks, The Who, The Pretty Things and » Continue Reading.
In the early eighties, JoBoxers were a Bernie Rhodes helmed amalgamation of ex Subway Sect members and an American rockabilly singer, put together because they all wanted to tour (Sect leader Vic Godard apparently didn’t) and take a more pop route (again, wouldn’t have thought Vic was keen.) Inspired by Dexy’s, funk, On The Waterfront, swing and rock‘n’roll in equal measure, first single “Boxerbeat” was a barnstorming introduction in 83, which, combined with a strong image of braces and baker boy caps, meant the band were quickly competing with Duran and Spandau in the upper reaches of the chart. Its follow up “Just Got Lucky” was even bigger, especially in the States, but by 1986 it was pretty much all over, subsequent releases not quite hitting the same heights. Members went on to acting, West End shows, session work and the type of bands that are respected rather than big, such as Earl Brutus. In 2020, somewhat out of the blue, a reunion tour was announced but was obviously put on the covid backburner. So here we are for the rescheduled dates in 2022, and on a somewhat muggy evening in Guildford’s Holroyd Arms “Suburbs” venue, JoBoxers played their first » Continue Reading.
Released (gulp) 40 years ago today. Although it gets a certain level of short shrift from a lot of Jam fans it’s definitely my favourite album by them, although admittedly Sound Affects does run it a close second. Maybe it’s the slightly broader palate of the horns and keyboards etc, maybe it’s the willingness to experiment a tiny bit, but I just love everything about it, from musical content to the soul boy dancer pic on the inner sleeve. Oh and the pink striped carrier bag that initial copies came in, although mine has long since disintegrated! Any other love for this classic?
Not really wanting to get on public transport to see bands at the moment, this was another local gig, and the chance to see a former Top 40 band 3 miles from my house was too good to miss. From memory China Crisis haven’t troubled the charts since the late eighties or so but have kept plugging away whilst also having the odd hiatus. I’d not been to The Hub before and what a pleasant surprise…looking like the type of place you might have booked for your 18th all those years ago, it has the sociable feel of a community centre with a bar, with quite a few adjacent seats and tables, although punters occupying those weren’t rewarded for getting there early because the empty dance floor area in front of them soon became packed at what was, it transpired, a sold out gig. Now I have a couple of the earlier China Crisis albums but would be the first to admit I probably haven’t kept up since about 1986. In a set divided into two parts, the earlier section, which focussed on what you might call “deep cuts” i.e. album tracks and b-sides, was an intriguing palate cleanser for » Continue Reading.
Having been a long-term fan of Billy’s since 1983 when I heard some of his early tracks on John Peel, this relatively local gig was a must. With a new album, “Ten Million Things That Never Happened” to sell, Bragg is currently in reflective and empathetic lyric mode, a far cry from the somewhat angrier songs of nearly forty years ago, but he can still raise a bit of fire when the need arises. Playing a gorgeous 1957 Gibson for much of this gig, and accompanied by a keyboard player called Tom, whose subtle additions made for some great light and shade, Billy kicked off at 8.15 and played two sets, with a 20 minute interval at 9.00. The gig finished at 10.35. I like this approach-I knew I’d need a (ahem) comfort break at some point after having had a drink beforehand. Hey, I’m 54 you know, and with a bladder like a teabag this sort of stuff comes to most of us at some point. Of course, with BB these days you don’t just get songs, you get some (sometimes lengthy) between song “raps” as he calls them, tackling issues such as things you end up looking at » Continue Reading.
A chance to take Mrs L to our first indoor gig for a couple of years, and in a local, small venue which asked for Covid certificates on the way in, was too good to miss. Pryzm is an old, small converted cinema, and has gained a reputation as being a good place for an album launch night. The gigs don’t really get that much publicity and you’ll probably only really know about them if you look at the Banquet Records (local indie store) website, or are on their mailing list. It makes for some good chances to see some big artists in a small venue. In the mid-nineties I can’t say I was a completely committed Britpop fan. I turned 28 in 1995 and frankly found that whole fake “scene” a bit foolish, but if I had to come down on one side of the Blur v Oasis debate I would definitely have had a foot in the Blur camp, which would have purely been down to the quality of some of the songwriting. Mrs L however, being six years younger than me, was much more of a committed fan, and it was that which tipped the balance in » Continue Reading.
Not posted a proper review style thing here before but here goes. This was our third Victorious and it seems to have become a bit of a family “end of summer” thing to do now. To say we had agonised over whether or not to go in the current circumstances would be an understatement but in the end blind optimism won out as did the proviso that we stayed as careful as we could and would test ourselves afterwards for a week or so. Victorious is situated on Southsea Common, and includes the castle ruins along with most of Southsea seafront. When the sun sets over the Isle Of Wight in the distance it can make for some spectacular evenings, and that’s on top of the music. There is camping, but you need to get on the shuttle busses to get to the site, as it is a few miles away. We don’t do festival camping anymore as I long ago got fed up with bongos and other people’s wackiness at 4.00 am, so we always take our camper van to a proper local (ish) camp site, this time opting for a nice one near Emsworth, staying there for much » Continue Reading.
Are there any band/singers/musicians you missed out on at the time but came round to or “got” years later? In my case it would be The Sound. I still can’t believe they passed me by in 1981. I was a massive fan of Echo and The Bunnymen by then, and The Sound were ploughing a similar furrow, even being on the same label at that point. Hindsight persists with the view that this reason might be why they never quite “made it,” as the Bunnymen got all the attention, maybe due to more obvious hooks but also due to Mac’s post punk idol image. But From The Lion’s Mouth, The Sound’s second album, should have been a real competitor to Heaven Up Here, released later the same year. Although I knew the name at the time I just never quite investigated. I came to the band just a few years back when the albums were re-released and have since devoured them all, although for me the standout is the album I mention above. Winning is one of the best songs of the early eighties but what a tragic end their singer and songwriter, Adrian Borland, had in 1999. Very sad. » Continue Reading.
This might interest some here. A new KLF album has appeared on Spotify today, entitled “Come Down Dawn.” Anyone know if this is a proper new album or is it another collection? I’m by no means an expert but I loved the Chill Out album.
I’ve been thinking about my Mum and Dad a lot more recently, probably because my Dad will soon be having heart bypass surgery. Mum, a hairdresser in mid-sixties West End London, was a Stones at Eel Pie Island girl. Dad was a more stoic type, a (sort of) fan of The Shadows but much more a follower of West Ham. Mum married him because he made her laugh and was capable. Her words. In later years, just before I left home, Mum had become a Pogues fan and Dad was a Clapton and Dire Straits sort of chap. Not much has changed since, although their musical venn diagram crosses over at late fifties rock and roll, Abba and The Bee Gees, so that’s what they mostly have on in the car. Mum covets a pair of Doc Martens, Dad is a walking gear kind of bloke but they happily co-exist in their musical crossover. Anyone got any similar stories?
Inspired by the New Order thread, and I hope I’m not being too rude or treading on anyone’s toes here, as this idea was suggested to someone else, but I’d be fascinated to see a thread on this so I hope no-one minds! I too am very keen to know if there are any “older” bands still making interesting music out there. When I say older, I guess I am referring to any band or artist who has been releasing stuff for 30 years or over. That only takes us to 1990, which to me still feels pretty recent. I can think of a few… Sparks, A Certain Ratio, Wire and The Monochrome Set spring to mind, but they are very much within my comfort zone. They don’t have to be selling thousands either, the scale of it doesn’t matter, they just have to be writing new music that still sees them developing and striving to be a properly functioning outfit and not just taking the money. Anyone have any others to suggest?
Tragically young, at the age of 53. I think I’ve seen her with three bands, definitely Primal Scream and A Certain Ratio, possibly with Electronic too. A superb vocalist, and maybe even a bit unsung. She helped make a generally agreed classic out of Screamadelica to name just the one. Solo album was due out in September apparently. Her friends on Twitter have been saying Rest in Power…I can only agree wholeheartedly.
I’m sure this has been done a few times before, but it’s always good to hear new ideas.
I’ve got really into podcasts over the last year or so. They are a great way to cover my 60 mile round trip commute every day, especially as many of them seem coincidentally to fit almost exactly into the hour or so that each individual journey takes. Unfortunately that does mean that after going back through the many previous editions that are available, I will soon run out of the ones I have been listening to and I could do with some inspiration.
Current ones I’ve enjoyed include: The Treehouse (Danny Baker) which is mostly really good if a little short sometimes, (anyone else notice how sidekick the very able Louise Pepper seems to be adopting more of his mannerisms by the week?) Behind Closed Doors (Baker and Lineker) which recently returned after a break, and there is a good contrast between Baker’s wit and Lineker’s more earnest approach. Trolled, which has ex soap actress Tracy Ann Oberman interviewing people in the public eye about their experiences of being trolled on social media (much better than it sounds, honestly!) The » Continue Reading.
Since Christmas and being given a new turntable, I am buying vinyl again. It’s been great seeing proper album covers in all their full LP sleeve sized glory and I can remember artwork playing a significant part in certain LP buying choices…some real stinkers must have put me off. Others would have made the buy much more appealing I’m sure. I can remember thinking like this. However, I sold the vast majority of my vinyl albums about 18 years ago when we had kids and needed the money. As a result I can’t go and check this for myself, but has anyone ever brought any album where you were in two minds whether to buy it, but the artwork tipped you over the edge in persuasion and you ended up unreservedly loving the music?
Haven’t started a proper new post for ages so I’m jumping back in. Like many other middle aged parents this weekend I suspect, we have dropped our eldest at University for the first time. She chose Hertfordshire, partly because not that many places do her chosen course. Now her campus, at Hatfield, is only just under an hour from where we live but when you are dropping your first born it felt quite a bit longer than that. Now, I know she is going to be absolutely fine, having regularly travelled into London to meet her boyfriend and shown a general level of independence which I have long been impressed with. Seeing your kids go onto the next fledgling steps of their life is in the natural scheme of things, I know this, I am usually a rational kind of chap. So why is it that coming home and seeing her almost empty bedroom caused a lump in the throat that still hasn’t quite shifted? I’ve been impressed with just how organised everything is with going to study these days, there was none of the clueless chaos of when I went, back in the eighties. Thanks to a well moderated » Continue Reading.
I suspect that that this may have been done before, so I will try and be specific:
a) The first band/artist you paid to see (not including festivals) b) Who did you go with c) Was were your impressions of it? d) Did you end up a long term fan?
a) Mine was The Monochrome Set at North London Poly sometime in the second half of 1983. b) Went with my first proper girlfriend who was quite a fan. Quite a long way from South West London, most of the way up the Piccadilly line. c) Had no idea what to expect being a tad naive but I really enjoyed it. Possibly not the era or line up most beloved of The Set connoisseurs but it was the one I knew, plus we had listened to all the albums quite a lot, so knew most of the songs. Stood right near the front. Like many others who speak about their first gig, I loved the way the sound of the bass and drums hit you right in the chest. And it was pretty loud! d) Ended up seeing them about three times more in the next couple of » Continue Reading.
Having reached the ripe old age of 51 last year I am starting to get more and more stuff sent to me, via email and in the post, about older people’s stuff and retirement in particular. You probably know the sort of thing; Saga/insurance/comfortable trousers and footwear etc. Now I’ll have the targeted advert senders know that I’m still a Docs and Levi’s wearing kind of chap thank you very much. But it does make you think. Last month, having recently inherited some money, I brought a very nice camper van, no, not the old VW type, a much newer Peugeot Boxer Van model, and quite frankly I’d like the time to start using it more than just at weekends. It’s not really a typical mid-life crisis, as Mrs NL was right behind the idea being a stalwart camper herself. That’s my justification anyway… I suppose I am quite lucky in that I don’t actively hate my job, although I am becoming more convinced that I’d like to go part time at some point in the next few years. The kids are in compulsory education for another couple of years, and we will move somewhere much cheaper at that point. » Continue Reading.
Any ideas for the most awkward gig you’ve been to? Sometime in the early 2000’s, on holiday in North Devon, Mrs. L and I went to see Suzanne Vega at the Queen’s Theatre in Barnstaple. Mrs L was a big fan and I liked a few songs, so all seemed set for a good holiday gig. Accompanied only by a bass player, Vega started with a couple of nicely stripped down songs which seemed to go down well. However, she then made her first announcement. “It’s so nice to be here in Cornwall, (confusing Devon for its next door neighbour) I’m looking forward to a cream tea.” Now for an American on tour I guess this was an easy mistake to make and I would have cut her a lot of slack for it, hoping she might have used humour to make the best of an error but there was no chance of that. There was a slightly awkward murmur, and a loudmouth a couple of rows behind shouted out in an irritated and pained voice “Oh NOOOOOO, you’ve got it wrong, this is DEVOOOONNN!!!” Now Suzanne Vega can come across a little School Marm-ish at the best of times, » Continue Reading.
This is a non-music related post but it may still be of interest to some. An article in today’s Guardian by John Harris (ex music journo, more recently turned to politics and Brexit in particular) about the decline of British towns has made me think about how our town centres have changed over the last twenty to thirty years or so, in particular the paragraph on the “radical reinvention” of Doncaster town centre and the proposed bars, restaurants and rejuvenated markets that this will entail. Now I trust John Harris and his often very depressing tales of post referendum Britain. He makes a good point about the state of our town and city centres reflecting our current tortured angst as a nation. However, I wonder, is Doncaster’s approach really so radical, as it seems to be the default/last throw of the dice for most places who can attract a bit of investment? As some background to this, for the last few months we have been taking our daughter round the university open day circuit. You may know the type of thing: you drive to a town you aren’t really familiar with, find the correct building, then find the correct room » Continue Reading.
What was your “style tribe” when you were growing up? I do a lot of work with teenagers from 16-19 and they all look quite generic nowadays. Maybe at my age I just don’t recognise any groups these days but no particular groups or subcultures seem to particularly stand out. The (very) occasional goth stands out a mile now amongst the sportswear, Superdry and Primark acquisitions that this age group seem to favour, my own two kids (16 and 18) included. Hey, I don’t blame them, it’s cheap and mostly durable stuff. I started out in about 1979 as a 12 year old, heavily into 2-Tone and punk/post punk, which meant a Harrington, jeans and black Doc Martens shoes etc. (My Mum wouldn’t let me have boots until a couple of years later. Rock and roll eh?) At the age of 15 I morphed into the Oxfam heavy overcoat, black fingerless gloves, black jeans, black jumper and black DM boots look. On my 16th birthday I dyed my hair black and had my ear pierced. I thought I looked cool, and disdainful of the rest of bland society. Actually I must have looked like a chilly Marc Almond on his » Continue Reading.