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The last rock ‘n’ roller…

I’ve been a huge fan of music for 40 years and over that time I have discovered a great many bands and artists who have stayed with me, such was the impression they made on me when I first heard them.

And when one of those cornerstones of my personal music heritage passes away, it always seems right that I should pay my respects somehow, even when the subject of any such tribute would almost certainly scoff at it for being over-sentimental nostalgic bollocks.

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Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister, 24/12/45 – 28/12/15.

My taste in music has always been eclectic, purely because (with the exception of embarrassing childhood purchases like The Bay City Rollers and Showaddywaddy) I have continued to listen to everything I have ever bought, so I’d never seen any contradiction in being a Pink Floyd fan who loved  Kraftwerk, or a Rush devotee who was also massively into New Order, although the tribal subdivisions of youth sometimes caused some friction, of the “you-can’t-be-a-headbanger-and-like-Gary Numan-too” variety.

All of which I ignored.

I didn’t want to be in their gang anyway. Or anyone else’s for that matter.

But then one band, one voice, one thunderous, gloriously over-the-top wall of noise arrived and for a while it was all that I listened to with my small group of junior metal-head school friends.

Even in an era where metal, punk and new wave were all still popular in the record shops and on the chart rundown every Sunday, this astonishing sonic assault was nothing like we had ever heard before and Motörhead soon became the very epitome of “heavy” rock.

And this particular blistering album by them was rarely off the turntables and tape decks of our teenage bedrooms at the time.

The band’s frontman, Lemmy, is credited with being everything from “the godfather of grunge” to “the hardest working man in rock” and was once described as having a voice “like a man who gargles with hot gravel”, but however the media portray him he has only ever described Motörhead as a rock ‘n’ roll band and has repeatedly corrected journalists who labelled them as “Heavy Metal”.

Lemmy did, after all, first find success in another of my all time favourite bands, Hawkwind, the stoner space rock collective who would eventually sack him for reliability issues brought on by his already herculean intake of amphetamines, resulting in his subsequent speed-related arrest on the Canadian border whilst on tour with them in the late ’70s.

Here he is playing with his trademark thundering bass style on perennial Hawks crowd pleaser, Silver Machine…

Undeterred, Lemmy formed Motörhead a few years later and has been fronting the rotating line-up ever since; their style never changing from the original frantic, bass strumming, drum galloping, speed soloing, throat shredding, grimy rock bulldozer that finally found them international fame with the archetypal Lemmy tune, Ace of Spades.

Seemingly indestructible for the last three decades or more, Lemmy Kilmister died today, only a short time after being diagnosed with cancer.

It’ll be a long time until someone who so perfectly embodies the term “rock ‘n’ roller” comes along again and the world will be a less entertaining place for his passing.

Killed By Death, indeed.

Like I said, he wouldn’t have given a toss about any fawning retrospectives on his contribution to music, so I’ll leave you with the best possible tribute to one of the world’s last real monsters of rock; the man in his own words.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Lemmy: The Movie, enjoy.

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2015 in Arts, Music, Personal anecdote, Video

 

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The food of love never goes stale…

The food of love never goes stale…

A study was published recently that claims we lose the urge to listen to new music at the age of 33, (although as Ho pointed out, that should be 33 1/3) which was a bit of a shock to me, given that I’m nearly fifty and my desire to discover new, original and interesting things to listen to hasn’t dimmed in the slightest in the last 15 years or so.

It should come as no surprise to regular readers when I say that I’m an obsessive music fan and I see no reason why that should ever change.
No matter if it was rushing to buy the latest 7″ vinyl single from Crowborough’s Revolver Records, back when I was a teenager in Sussex, or trawling the CD racks of independent music shops and record fairs, reading music magazines and blogs, or scouring the internet for obscure gems to download, I’ve never lost what I like to think of as the John Peel spirit, the all-consuming passion for an art form that, almost by it’s very nature, never gets old.

Every generation has its naysayers of course, the “music isn’t like it was in the old days” brigade, because people are instinctively cautious of change. But that’s not an excuse to consign all new music to the cultural bargain bin, because if the change is bad, it won’t last.
And if it’s good, it’ll only get better.

I remember when acid house music first arrived, thinking it was a load of repetitive rubbish, (this, despite being a huge Kraftwerk fan at the time) but it didn’t take long before I found that there was good and bad in this genre, just as there is in any other and I embraced the change.
After all, many of the repetitive, trance-like rhythms used in modern dance music were prominent in the sort of zoned out space rock produced by Hawkwind and I had also been huge a fan of bleepy electronic ’80s music, another much maligned oeuvre in British pop, so it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise that this new wave of electronic bedroom superstars would catch my imagination.
Same with Hip Hop, Drum ‘n’ Bass, Goth, Britpop, Punk, Techno, or any other media-created pigeonhole you care to name, once you listen to enough of anything you’ll realise there’s more to any genre than meets the ear first time round.

I don’t claim to like all music, just for the sake of even-handedness, (I never could get into opera or country and western) and I don’t even claim to be rational or fair in deciding what I do and don’t like, so I’m just like the rest of you in that respect.
We all think our own taste is faultless, of course.
But I do make a serious effort to listen to as much and as many different kinds of music as I possibly can.
At least until I’m sure I really don’t like something.

I mean, why wouldn’t you give yourself the chance to have more things in your life you can enjoy?
Why would you suddenly come to a decision one day and say to yourself “No, I’ve got enough new and interesting experiences in my life already, I think I’ll just go round in circles from now on.”

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgia.
We all fall back on the classics when we need the aural equivalent of a comforting hug from an old friend, but if you’re going to spend two thirds of your life stubbornly looking backwards, won’t the nostalgia, like familiarity, eventually only breed contempt?

It used to be a real treat to hear a slice of joyous eighties pop like a-ha‘s Take On Me, with its groundbreaking video and catchy synth hooks, or any number of earworms by one hit wonders (in the UK at least) such as Bran Van 3000‘s laid back summer groove, Drinking In L.A. or Breakfast At Tiffany’s by jangly also-rans Deep Blue Something, but nowadays, with the proliferation of internet radio stations whose record collections only seem to go up to the late nineties, we have reached nostalgia saturation point and the classic pop tunes of my teenage years are in danger of losing the ability to rekindle memories of my musical youth. (No pun intended)

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But why any of that would stop people from seeking out new material is a complete mystery to me.
The study that claims we lose our musically adventurous nature in our early thirties uses the phrase “taste freeze” to explain the phenomenon, whatever that means, and also correlates the onset of parenthood with the downturn in our interest in checking out new releases.
You’d think that having additional young people playing modern music around the house would expose you to a greater variety of listening opportunities, but apparently not.

So, although I continue to plough through my CD collection in sequential order, an exercise which obviously leads me to play plenty of old familiar tracks, a great many of which can still give me one of those “Oh yeah, I haven’t heard this for years!” moments, which is of course only right and proper, it doesn’t stop me from my pursuit of my Next New Favourite Tune.

With this in mind, and to encourage any of you who are being dragged down by the terrifying scourge of taste freeze, here is a snapshot of the most recent leg of my musical search, via the last three albums I downloaded.

You never know, you might discover something you like…

My advice?
Stay forever young.
Never stop searching out and listening to new music.

[Original blog-toon by Ho]

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2015 in Arts, Music, Personal anecdote, Video

 

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See (the) Hawks…

Well, it was close, (as far as I could tell anyway) so I’m going to honour my deal and model my lovely Seahawks top for you, as agreed with Rhonda’s cousin, who sent it to me for Christmas.

And because they’re the team I would almost certainly adopt if I cared even slightly about football, of course.

Obviously.

Mainly that, in fact.

Definitely.

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Plus, (as if that wasn’t enough) a consolation prize.
In the form of some more music from my collection, this time one of my hundreds of cassettes, (I’m not, in all honesty, expecting this to make up for anything, or for it to mean much to your average Seahawks fan either, but you know how I like a tenuous link, and any excuse is a good excuse) so here it is; Sea King“, a classic from psyche-rock overlords, Hawkwind.

You see what I did there..?

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2015 in Arts, Music, Video

 

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Diarist’s dozen…

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Yes it’s day twelve, the penultimate trip down the tangent trail towards today’s tenuous target.
We start off by sampling a slice of psychedelic space rock, then our journey continues via some gloriously jangly pop and an inside look at one of the year’s nastiest new TV characters, to finish off with a wealth of audio amusement.

On our last outing we ended by paying tribute to the great scientific minds that helped us to find and identify that pesky little particle, the Higgs boson. So I thought I’d start this first leg of the home straight with an album by one of my all-time favourite bands;

Hawkwind named their 1977 album after some more subatomic particles and you can get your very own dose of cosmic radiation by listening to the whole thing right now – Quark, Strangeness and Charm
And where to go from there but to This Charming Man by The Smiths, fronted by Morrissey.
English actor David Morrissey has had great success in the States this year, playing new character The Governor in zombie thriller series The Walking Dead
…which stars another Englishman abroad, Andrew Lincoln, who had his first walk-on part in up-to-the-minute satirical newsroom sit-com Drop the Dead Donkey..
…which was co-written by Andy Hamilton, creator of Hell-based radio comedy series Old Harry’s Game and presenter of an irreverent documentary on the history and myths surrounding his lead character, The Search for Satan.
Hamilton is also a regular guest on BBC Radio 4’s “antidote to panel games”, the fabulous I’m Sorry, I Haven’t a Clue, now presented by Jack Dee.
But here’s the classic line up, with late, great jazz trumpeter and national treasure Humphrey “Humph” Lyttelton in the chair, recording the show in front of a live audience.

And I’m keeping to the radio comedy theme for my second-to-last choice of 2013 best bits, mainly because I love it and partly because not enough people listen to comedy on the radio nowadays, despite the fact that many of our most popular TV sketch and panel shows started off on the airwaves before making the move to the small screen.

This show is presided over by a man who is no stranger to TV himself, David Mitchell, who has graced this list once already.
Ladies and gentleman, I give you The Unbelievable Truth.

Enjoy, and I’ll return with the final episode of Tenuous Tina and her Lynx of Love tomorrow.

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2013 in Arts, Blogging, Humour, Music, Tenuous Lynx, TV

 

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“Takes me back to the good old days…”

This weekend has been a break from the usual cerebral search for ideas, the aimless casting about with synaptic fishing rod put on hold for once, in favour of dipping a toe into the far more reliable stream of consciousness that is youthful reminiscence with an old friend.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I went to comprehensive school in Sussex and Chris went to a posh public school over the border in Kent, we probably would have become friends sooner. As it was we met when we were 15 or 16, almost certainly in one of the many pubs in Crowborough that catered for the discerning under-age drinker, of which there were many. (Where did we get our cash from back then? Paper rounds and pocket money obviously went a lot further in the good old days)

Here was someone with the same idiotic sense of humour, same tastes in music and books and a similar propensity for making a fool of themselves whilst overly inebriated.
It was a bit of a revelation for a state educated tearaway like myself, to discover that someone with such a supposedly privileged upbringing was as much of an imbecile with a few pints inside him as the next teenage delinquent.

As it turned out, Chris was the one person amongst my immediate circle of friends who we were all envious of, at least once we’d been to his parents’ large and imposing house in the countryside on the edge of town, complete with tennis court, paddocks, horses and stable yard, and an apparently endless, constantly replenished supply of frozen food for midnight munchie sessions. Unsurprisingly it soon became the preferred venue for after hours shenanigans and parties. (Chris later found that his patiently understanding mum, noticing the regular nighttime depletion of her food stocks, would remember to buy replacements for the most favoured items, eventually even allocating a separate area in the freezer for post-pub plundering)

It was Chris who introduced me to the marvels of Philip K Dick‘s extraordinary hallucinatory oddessy The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch and also broadened my musical horizons with bands such as the equally extraordinary Alien Sex Fiend, and over the top punk-berserkers Discharge.

And it was also here that Zippy’s adventure had it’s abrupt end.

We discovered early on that we had a mutual love of non-specific arguing, our escalating “debates” sometimes drawing an enthusiastic audience, keen to add fuel to the entertainment.
But it was the stories Chris told us about his time at public school that I remember most clearly.

For example; The one where Chris is chased by Russian secret police

Whilst studying for his Russian course at school (not a subject available to us mere mortals at comprehensive) Chris got the chance to visit the Motherland itself.
During his stay he was talked into acting as lookout for a street deal involving a school friend, a Russian teenager and some filthy capitalist denim jeans that could change hands for surprising amounts of money back in the cold war ’80s.

At the crucial point in the transaction however, two long black limousines drew up at the end of the alley and several of the archetypal large serious men in long black coats and round fur hats so beloved of spy novels disembarked and immediately gave chase as the alarmed school friends vacated the scene with some speed. (Chris by this time having heroically dived into a convenient hedge)
Apparently one of his fleeing classmates was waylaid by a pursuing KGB heavy, but as soon the goon discovered he had laid hands on one of Her Majesty’s subjects, he dropped him like a hot diplomatic potato.
The remaining fugitives from the iron hand of Soviet justice were anyway relieved to find themselves of no further interest, for it soon became obvious that the errant local boy was the target and having caught up with him they ceased their pursuit.

Or the one about being taught to drive at public school…

Another pointed reminder of the difference in our schooling was the discovery that most pupils at his posh school were encouraged to join one of the junior cadet forces such as the Army Cadets, where they were taught the basics of driving in a land rover.
One of the novel ways the instructor had of ensuring his charges got the dreaded “hill start” right first time was to wait until they were seated behind the wheel, then demand they give up their (probably expensive) wristwatch which was then placed under the knobbly rear tyre.
Failing to successfully engage the clutch at this point would now result in a nasty little crunching noise and the sudden need for a new timepiece.

Needless to say, the pass rate was unusually high.

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Me (standing) and Chris; you had to make your own entertainment in the ’90s.

In short, when Chris and I were in close proximity the result was usually quite loud and invariably messy.
Like the time in the early nineties when the pair of us spent all day at a beer festival at The Wheatsheaf in Crowborough, me on scrumpy and Chris on some form of lethal old ale, only to decide at 8 o’clock in the evening that it was essential that we go and see a gig by The Lloyd Langton Group.

The sometime-guitarist with psyche-rock space cadets Hawkwind and his backing band were playing at a large pub, several miles away on Ashdown Forest, and we duly summoned a cab and took ourselves over there.

Twenty minutes later, much the worse for wear after our all day festivities, we were slumped on barstools, blearily watching the band setting up and playing pool before the gig.
A few minutes before they took the stage a surprisingly short, healthy looking Huw Lloyd Langton (for it was he) strolled up to the two disheveled, denim clad cabbages propping up the bar and uttered the immortal words;
“I see the Hawkwind fans are here then”

I moved to Devon over 15 years ago and in all that time I’ve never managed to get back in touch with Chris, other than a few brief chats on Facebook, and our paths never crossed when on our infrequent trips back to Sussex to see family.
So imagine my surprise when I get a message from Chris last week saying that he’s staying with his dad in Devon, only half an hour’s drive from home.

Which is why I’ve spent the last two days jabbering on about über-hippies Gong, experimental electronic music weirdos Royal Family and the Poor and their bizarre electro-pop opus Phase One: Temple of the 13th Tribe, disastrous parties, fights and accidents of a shared misspent youth and generally wallowing in the glorious nostalgia allowed by 20/20 hindsight, and the grateful knowledge that we don’t ever have to do it again.

And the amazing thing is, after fifteen years of hardly any contact, we fell straight back into the old rhythms of friendship as if the conversation had simply been interrupted by a knock at the door, telling the old stories and still finding them just as funny today.
A truly excellent weekend spent in the rose-tinted glow of greatest hits and edited highlights of the real best years of our lives.

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2013 in Arts, Blogging, Music, Personal anecdote

 

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The Tina prize (part three)…

So, a final rundown of a few more things that I have decided deserve the recognition of The Internet Nobody Award.

I don’t go to see nearly as many new movies as I used to, and it’s not just the cost of going to the cinema that’s responsible either.
There just aren’t that many films that I would make the effort to go and see, let alone invent an award for, that I could then tenuously hang a blog post on.
At least with a DVD, if it’s crap, you can turn it off, and the whole thing has cost you two quid. If I pay for two of us to go to see a film, which is a £15 night out straight away, then I’m going to sit through the whole film, no matter how atrocious, just to get my money’s worth.

What this boils down to, is that I’d rather watch a film that I’ve really looked forward to, at home on DVD, in peace, with a drink and a smoke, and put up with the six month period of putting my fingers in my ears and going “la la la la la” to avoid hearing crucial plot details, after friends see it at the cinema.

This year’s ear-fingering wait was instigated by Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, the much-vaunted possible prequel to his 1979 Sci-fI masterpiece Alien.

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I have always been a massive fan of the original film, and especially of the look of the whole thing. This is down, of course, to the genius of artist HR Giger, and the fact that his work was not to be used on the new film made me apprehensive that it would be too stylistically different.
However, due to the clever separation of storylines from any previous timeline, Scott was able to give very obvious nods to Giger’s style, whilst still providing us with a new, rebooted vision of the future.

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The same vast sense of scale, so memorable from the original, pervades the whole film, dwarfing the human players into insignificance against the backdrop of hostile space, and the effects, CGI or not, are spectacular to say the least.

And no, the creatures do not disappoint.

I deplore spoilers, so I won’t say anything about the plot that you can’t gain from the trailer links above, except to say that if you’ve heard it’s a prequel to Alien, then you’re right…and  you’re wrong.

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Any album of the year that I pick as my favourite is unlikely to have featured in The Brits, and is also likely to be the sort of thing that would draw cries of “Turn that shit off!” from my workmates.
However, I am still willing to bet that some of you have some taste, so I would like to present for your consideration, in no particular order;

The epic new album, (III), from Canadian electronica duo Crystal Castles is a distortion drenched delight.

Nebula Dance from dubstep producer Ital Tek, takes the form into more melodic new territory.

An old favourite of mine for many years, Rush released Clockwork Angels, once again proving that, for a band that weren’t broke, they knew not to fix it…

…and a new band making an old noise, Golden Void take the Hawkwind love of Sci-fi lyrics – and their name from one of the space hippies’ old songs – whilst channelling the sound of Ozzy-era Black Sabbath.

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And finally, a quick mention for my favourite blogs.

I’d like to nominate myself, but that probably is taking bias a little too far, so I’ll just say that I have enjoyed posts from all of these;

Daina’s book

Zeebra Designs and Destinations

Cristian MihaI

Gman’s Galaxy

Brian Pigeon

and of course the ever reliable and always excellent Bohemian blog.

Which about wraps it up for my little end of year prize giving.

Hope you find something of interest amongst my recommendations, normal (i.e. who knows what’s next) service will be resumed shortly.

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2012 in Blogging, Films, Music, Tina awards

 

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