I’ll drink your health, share your wealth, run your life, steal your wife. Wave that flag, wave it wide and high.

Oh dearie me it’s the year of the Dead and From the Mars Hotel seems appropriate on a rainy blustery, well typhoon like apparently, Oregon fall day.

N14681802_10209237845377082_5066460783464640496_not much to say but after watching Trump all over the TV I was moved to hear US Blues as that is how it feels right now, the blues have set in. The corruption intrinsic in the current political situation has bubbled to the top and the ideals of peace love and lets all get together in the country are long behind us. It is ironic that the generation of Woodstock are the aging politicians of today.

It’s a beautiful album however, and you should take the time to revel in the lazy daze that is the Dead. I love the bass work on this album, Phil never get’s the dues he deserves, praise is heaped on Bobby’s odd chords and Jerry’s playing but where is the love for the piece that holds it all together.

I want to hear Cheech Marin or Tommy Chong telling everyone that “when they go low we go high,” many apologies to the first lady but come on it’s an opportunity too good to miss

Goin’ home goin’ home…

There are those albums that take you back to a time and space that is comforting, late at night it’s time to pull them out and rock your soul. Or as sometimes has been the case in the early mornings as well. The great albums of you life fit you like a glove, they remind you of the past and prepare you for what’s ahead. They can be gentle or raucous, loud or quiet but they always take you back and ease you forward.

Terry Jacks Seasons In The Sun alway transports me back to Liverpool in the 80’s when it was guaranteed to get a reaction from the clientele in many a seedy bar and club as you snuck it on the jukebox. This was in the days before irony when the wrong song was cause for beer to be spilled. The secret was to hit them with Psychedelic Warlords by Hawkwind and The Seeds Pushin’ Too Hard before the final knockout of Terry and his tale of death and loss. In this way a false sense of security was achieved, drinkers nodding along to anthems of psychedelia and discontent to be cruelly knocked down by the middle of the road. At that point it was essential to head for the ditch and vacate the premises, my guess is the deadly triumvirate became known by the clientele and the last long hair at the jukebox had been spotted.

In the current technological climate this can be achieved nowadays from the safety of your seat through an app on your phone. At least this is what my son tells me as he plays Patsy Cline in the local biker bar. Guerrilla Jukebox at it’s best and safest.

Which has nothing to do with the original premise which I may get back to next time, for now I want you to imagine a bar full of bikers rocking out to Patsy.

They are who they think they are…

Well my Harper parcel finally arrived and it is a collection of joy sitting there on the coffee table demanding to be played. The decisions waiting to be made are almost overwhelming.


The only thing to be done was play the single most powerful album I ever heard during my formative musical years. An album that justified my angry young man stance and my wise stoner outfits for years and to this day still informs many of my decisions social and political. An album that is full of beauty and ugliness, celebrating all that is good and awful about our degenerate race as we rush headlong into fucked upville at a rate that is bewildering. An album that still makes me sit up and listen and nowadays chuckle at the sincerity of it all, a sincerity that is still as raw and honest as ever.

It helped tonight that I played it right after the travesty that was the vice presidential debate when I heard many an “evergreen excuse.” Somedays I still wish that I could be feeling all the Saturday again in order to get thorough the farce that American politics has now become.

So here I am sitting and listening to the brilliance that is Flat Baroque and Berserk after the travesty of the playground fight I just witnessed on national T.V.

So for my American pals:

“How does it feel to be completely unreal?

How does it feel to be a voter?”


“How does it feel to be out on your own?

How does it feel to be thinkin’?”

The question of “How does it feel with your god strapped to your wrist?” has made it so I have not worn a watch since 1980 when I first heard this album, it is also what saved me from the fitbit wave a few months ago.

The whole album is full of lines that seem to have defined so many times in my life. Memories flood back throughout the whole album, throwing vegetables at Thatcher, yelling at the guards outside the  U.S .Embassy in Grosvenor Square. Sitting on the floor attention thoroughly focussed on Harper as he fumbled his way through a set of songs in a way that verged on insanity or transcendence. The Irish Center, the Adelphi, Krackers, The Floral Hall, The Philharmonic Hall, when they wouldn’t turn the lights off, gigs in Southport. Liverpool, Manchester, Warrington. St. Helens, Bradford, Hull, Brighton, New Brighton, Putney, so many festivals, in fields, halls and mud puddles too many shows and too many memories and always the core of songs from this album present.

I’ve sat crying as relationships end to this album. Tested out new relationships, can you really live with someone who can’t stand your favorite record? Sought solace in poetry and laughed at the lunacy.

Just remember.

“Free Speech

One each.”





I’ve done things I know you’ll never understand…

Some days are just so weird, a day of interviewing therapists and all the odd questions that entails, boundaries, philosophy, modalities and other made up words that defy meaning outside the jargon encrusted books of the ‘ologies.

How to deal with this, pick something left field and go for it.

img_5758In 1985 Neil Young was having something of an odd moment. He was extolling the virtues of Ronald Reagan and declaring that he had given up the rock and was becoming a country singer. Now those who had been paying attention may declare that he had always been a country singer. Thankfully this decision had more to do with pissing off David Geffen than anything else and he picked old black up again and grunged out within possibly weeks.

What this left us the fan with was one of the funnest records of Young’s lost Geffen years in Old Ways. Featuring contributions from Waylon and Willie and a piano player called Hargus “Pig” Robbins, Marty Robbins and Bela Fleck turn up plucking away we have here a joyful celebration of what country music sounds like if you are Neil Young. It’s kind of twisted and yet familiar and sounds like a whole lot of fun, especially if you can find a copy of the live album released of the tour A Treasure.

Misfits makes the whole album worthwhile. It’s a nightmare song that is more psychedelic than country. It’s a nightmare of the world seen through the eyes of a jaded rock star ending with the forbidding lines:

The voice of Houston callin’
Brought them back to the scene
Except the sky is fallin’
Do you know what that means?

No Neil we do not know what it means but it is terrifying. There were four more odd albums waiting for the fan before Neil finally found his way again, but those strange wilderness year albums of excursions and detours are still compelling listening. It requires a willingness to switch genre sometimes in the same song and a belief that something good is lurking there and the knowledge that eventually there is Freedom on the way.

Happy Trails indeed.

Don’t let me down…

“I was born six-gun in my hand.” only if there is a sudden influx of guns to Middlesborough. This line has always jarred with me, now there’s some nice imagery in it all moody and long live the western hero, “Bad Company ’til the day I die “and all that type of thing.

So I just got back from watching the remake of The Magnificent Seven, which seems to have intentionally removed all depth the original may have had and replaced it with a shoot ’em up fest that barely holds your attention. I was in need of purging my brain of all that was there now, they even took classic lines from the original and made them pap.  So in order to help the purging I went for some class rock ‘n’ roll that has been sitting on the shelf for two weeks since I found it.14457411_10209077145639689_8166761008197857994_n

The album cover looks like it has been through several drunken parties when it was used as a coaster for a whiskey bottle, there are some concerning scuffs on the vinyl and it looks like it may be a noisy album. However it plays just fine with some light surface noise, cue John Peel quote here. It looks exactly as a Bad Company record should look, slightly the worse for wear, as if it has been played and heard.

Bad Company for my entire life have been a kind of guilty pleasure, not as hip as Free and then Rodgers went on to mess with Queen, who’s ideas was that travesty but they are grown men they can do that type of thing. However as a band they produce exactly what they should, melodic rock that can be both heavy and soulful, enough testosterone on show to keep the meatheads happy and lyrics that can either make you grimace or smile. The perfect band to purge the crap from your head that life can put there. Now if I was twenty years younger I may be on my fourth or fifth shot of whiskey by the time it came to flip the album, nowadays I just get the faint desire to do that and realize I have to be up for work tomorrow, in the old days I would be planning on calling in, how life has changed me.

Not much to say here apart from, don’t go to see the Magnificent Seven, I did so you don’t have to, watch the original instead and get your rocks off with a little Bad Company it’ll do you good in a relatively safe if slightly confusing way. Those English boys and their six-gun fascinations.

You’re drifting off to sleep…

I remember the scene, two Northerners stuck just north of Brighton because they thought living in the south may be fun for awhile. We should have known everything would go wrong on the basis that they put the Northerners in the same flat, keeping us away from the rest. The whole place was not surprisingly filled with people from the south except for Billy from Wales and Tony from Newcastle, who only came down during the school holidays. Then there was me and Dave, he was from Newcastle and I was from Liverpool. The four of us along with Billy’s partner Vince who visited occasionally made a little Northern enclave in the south.

All this provincial thinking and paranoia was very real in the late 80’s as we tried to figure out collectively what the hell we were doing with our lives and ourselves. The first night in the local pub the landlord moved the ashtrays as the Northerners may steal them, and welcomed us with “so you’re the two who got on their bikes.” He also I think raised the price of beer and would not let us keep a tab, he did however allow us at the lock ins until we took too much money from the locals playing darts and bar billiards. He liked to keep us in the public bar not the lounge thereby ensuring the local sensibilities were not hurt. It all seemed good clean fun at the time but was it really, we found reasons not to like our neighbors and they apparently had no trouble disliking us on a daily basis. This was all veiled in an attempt at humor. With the time and distance that has happened I am able to say that we probably caused this as much as being victims, in fact there is no probable about that.

I spent a lot of time traveling on trains at this time. The only way of listening to music portably was a walkman and cassettes to play on it. Dave and I began something of a joint cassette collection, luckily we enjoyed much of the same music and somehow managed not to buy the same albums too often. The problem was really we could never really remember who bought what very well. This did result in some confusion when the inevitable move happened for the first of us. Eventually it was all decided by a long drawn out drunken conversation about who bought what when and there may have been arm wrestling.

I became adept at the Liverpool to Haywards Heath journey and could manage to not raise myself above ground in London as I passed through. Making no eye contact and keeping the headphones up loud so nobody was inclined to start a conversation. After Dave left the job I was eternally reminded of my Dads parting words as he dropped me off on the way south, “you’ll be back,” funnily when I made the longer trek from Liverpool to Oregon he never said the same thing, rather mumbling “we’ll be over “instead.

14333002_10209002776380504_8145638475938881710_nOne album we never argued about who it belonged to was Green by R.E.M. This was mine, not because Dave didn’t like it but because it became so important to me that Dave had to go get his own copy. In the end we had two cassettes, two L.P.s and then eventually two C.D.s. It was very likely the most bought album in the Our Price records in Haywards Heath on the strength of our buying alone.

It was not so much that we were big R.E.M. fans, we just for some reason connected with that album. It was joyous, cynical and determinedly serious in a truly funny way. Tonight as I played it again for the first time on vinyl in many years I was taken back to that dingy damp smelling flat we shared and relived the fun of Green. It was the album that lifted the spirits of two northern boys in the south so far from home, it was the album we danced to and laughed over and for visitors was one of the most accessible things we were listening to at the time. It used to get played to the uninitiated and those who made it past the Crass singles and Bob Calvert marathons. It raised our thoughts after the claustrophobia of the Talk Talk listening parties with the bass on You Are Everything alone.

Along with the Waterboys and whisky it eased the tensions of a hard night working with difficult kids and on the weekend would allow us to let loose. To this day I have never owned another R.E.M. album, for me everything I needed was in that one album. I know I am undoubtedly missing out but it may be too late, although I am now tempted to go ahead and get more.To this day when tracks from Green come on I will smile and take the time to listen all the way through. I know the running order of songs but not the names and I can still remember that goofy drunken dance we taught people on a Friday night in the pub as we took over the jukebox.


Remember me…

I find Mr Lydon a little insufferable, I got the joke and then it stopped being funny.

There was a time that listening to PIL was intolerably hip, many people did it because you were supposed to do it, it made you appear a little more smart than the average early twenty year old. About now is the time I tell you some story about an attractive and yet serious young woman who would stare into the middle distance as she smoked her roll ups and swigged out of a stolen red wine bottle as the  fire sputtered in the fireplace burning old pallets that barely warmed the damp squat we shared with her sartorially inelegant pals.

Tfullsizerender-2here may really be a story there but the thing is it is all bull, the real truth is when you heard Jah Wobbles bass on Metal Box, or Second Edition as I just found it, and you grew up on Hawkwind and Amon Duul you managed to connect with PIL on a guttural level. It’s the missing link a sprawling mess of a missing link that has all the idiocy and social commentary necessary to be serious with a nod and a wink, it’s art rock for the working classes. It’s minimalist with maximum bass.

There really was a serious young woman in a donkey jacket and shrink to fit levi’s. We were going to change the world in the struggle against Thatcher and the fascist state she was creating, we went to festivals, hitched around the country and slept in ditches, sometimes sober. We listened to all the right records and went to all the right gigs, well the ones we could afford, we did dumb stuff together. Then she decided to become an economist and eventually a banker and I went on to run a non-profit for disadvantaged teens. I bet she votes conservative now.

Funnily enough now my need to impress is gone I really  need to hear Jethro Tull now the glorious mess that is Second Edition is over.