Come on boy do something…

The best double guitar band from Wales bar none, Man. The best San Francisco Band from Wales as well, the most confusing band from Wales with a family jungle, not tree.

Be Good To Yourself At Least Twice A Day hails from the time of extravagant album sleeves and contains no tracks less than 7 minutes and chugs along in an amiable West Coast way. The band never decide if they are progressive, blues or straight up rock which only adds to the confused charm. This is what happens if the band eat too many bananas and then Crint their way through the night.

I have no idea now what this album is about and never have in the thirty years plus I have been listening to it. since the fateful day it was handed to me by a grinning Galvin. Who said with a knowing smile, “figure this out Man.” According to the sleeve western civilization was begin in Wales which is actually an island to the west of England.

All of this makes complete sense when listening to the album. Almost as clearly as the first time I listened to it. Falling somewhere between the Grateful Dead and Hawkwind they have been part of my musical soundtrack for a long time and are always rewarding.

They do also have one of the all time greatest album covers that folds out origami style to a map of Wales with the Man version of Welsh history. Sometimes you have to wonder how the youth of today get by without this type of thing.

Man plowed  a strange furrow with Hawkwind and Gong and Brinsley Schwartz throughout the seventies, this album was produced along with Dave Edmunds and has no Deke Leonard on slide but has always been my favourite simply because the tracks stretch out without ever becoming boring or noodley.


You just can’t get that fun with a CD or mp3 download. You have to think that Hipgnosis or Roger Dean, Barney Bubbles et al. would never have survived if they had begum life in age of the CD . Anyway the album is a thing of beauty and I am really glad I stopped off at Every Day music on the way home from the beach even if the staff are a little annoying and sneered at my other purchases. The outer sleeve is a little worn but the amazing fold out is awesome.

Coastal living. 

Been at the beach with work.

This was my view every morning and then I stopped at a record store on the way home!

Now my knees hurt.

As an additional piece of information and to answer Mr 1537.

I do not build sandcastles for a living.


It was a Dam.

I never left you…

Name the  most infuriating Beatle ?

And the answer  is John, he is also the most fascinating, the most obviously scouse as well; a little edgy, cuddly and possessing of a huge talent that he seemed to be able to turn on and off at will sometimes just to annoy those around him he also may steal the silver not because he needs or wants it but because it would be a laugh.

My Dad will tell you tales of growing up with John, I am pretty sure he is not being truthful, especially as he is a lover of the tall tale. He also leans back smirks and then launches into a long convoluted story that rolls along adding in Liverpool landmarks at will. I think he does it simply to amuse/bemuse the American relatives who seem to sincerely believe that everyone from Liverpool of a certain age must have been close intimate friends with the Fab Four.

It is my contention that the only Lennon collection you really need to own is Shaved Fish. fishThrow in  a few other songs from the later albums if you need to and you have a perfect collection. Concise biting and a perfect distillation of the wit, romance and politics of Mr Lennon.

For the sake of full disclosure I own everything available by the man and the small beat combo he was a member of. I enjoy the majority of it even some of his experiments with the wife. However the album I return to most often is Shaved Fish for my Lennon fix as it hits all the necessary points. Yes there are things I miss when  listening, I want Working Class Hero or Watching The Wheels but the collection is complete without them too.

So yell shout and scream but I will remain true to my contention. Shaved Fish rules it is perfect.

Riding high on a wanderlust…

It’s been a week of anxiety and concern in the household as children made big decisions and parents looked on with concern and fear at times.

Suddenly everything seems OK. Admittedly the decision is only dodged and not finally settled but it is still preferable and we have a year to look at wrapping good thoughts around him.

When things are going well it is time to pull out a joyous album from the dim and distant 80’s in the shape of The Icicle Works eponymous first album.icicle Pop psychedelia at it’s best and there is Chris Sharrock’s drumming to rock your world, seldom has one drummer sounded like three having a good time.

Of course there is the necessary hits with (Birds Fly) Whisper to a Scream and Love Is A Wonderful Colour but the other tracks like the Floydian psychedelia of Nirvana and the drama of Lover’s Day as well as Factory In The Desert and Chop the Tree is were the true glory of the album is. Yes they went on to better and bigger sounding albums ending the original lineup with the monster of Blind and it’s eclectic mix of styles but the first album is the one I constantly go back to when like today things are good.

The copy I have is a US version that misses out my favourite Reap the Rich Harvest but it is still a classic moment of how not everything in 80’s music sucked and it makes me smile. The three of them look about 12 years old on the cover as well.

Real life becomes a rumor…

What does Imperial Bedroom by Elvis Costello and In Search of Space by Hawkwind have in common? The answer is Barney Bubbles who designed the covers of both. spce

The Hawkwind folded out into a hawk shaped example of the excesses that make Hawkwind so fascinating.ballroom

The Costello is a modern art snake charmer and a reclining nude an example of the pretensions and braggadocio that Costello manages to fill the room with even on vinyl.

The other thing they have in common is they are the first records I ever bought by either artist. Well I have bought the Hawkwind album at least three times and the Costello once.

Anyway as I attempt to come to terms with the separation anxiety that goes along with having adult children I have played both these albums tonight. The fact that both these albums sit fairly close to each other on the shelf may be responsible for the choices my son seems intent on making right now. I have obviously confused my children with a taste in music that include Messiaen and Davis by way of Costello, Bowie, Hawkwind and all points in between and adjacent to at times.

Anyway Imperial Ballroom is a monster of a record. Perfect for that end of the night when you need a little bit of everything to calm the soul.

Live in fear…

Richard Thompson is definitely a unique talent. I came to him by way of Fairport Convention at Cropredy banging out Fire In The Engine Room one hazy memoried evening in the 84.

I immediately ran out and purchased Across A Crowded Room and was not disappointed.  There then followed a series of gigs in Southport and Manchester and other places. That blood spattered guitar strap and the searing solos are still stuck in my mind.

In those days the purchase of a record was a serious matter, as a poor student who was more interested in beer and curry, buying a record dug into much needed finances. Usually an album would be borrowed from the library and recorded to one of countless C90 cassettes that ended up littering the However in 86 Hannibal records re-released a record that looked so intriguing in a bizarre way, entitled Richard Thompson starring as Henry The Human Fly.

It was the oddest looking thing I had ever seen and inside was a strange mix of sounds ranging from lovely folk melodies to brass arrangements that are ever so slightly discordant.

The refrain however from the first track Roll Over Vaughn Williams of “Live in fear, live in fear, live in fear.” has always stuck with me. Fairport had been folk-rock but this was folk rock’n’roll. Yes there were folk songs like the Poor Ditching Boy and The Old Changing Way, there were however strange rock songs like Roll Over Vaughn Williams and the Angels Took My Racehorse Away. This was literally music made by a unique individual who saw the world through a lens that the rest of us could only guess at.

It is however the last song on the album Twisted that made me a fan and to this day I can’t really say why but every time I hear it I stop what I am doing and listen.

Over the years I learned all sorts of things about Thompson. I also learned that inexplicably to me this album was the worst selling record Warner Bro’s ever released. It is hard to reconcile the brilliance of the record, the strange confluence of harps, brass music, concertinas and electric and acoustic guitars and the failure of the record to sell.henry I have carried this record around for almost thirty years now, at some point it lost it’s sleeve so I had to borrow the picture from Amazon and now all I have left is the vinyl and a nice new inner sleeve to keep it in.

Tonight when my middle son called me up with some bothersome news I sat down and grabbed the old friend from the stack and listened to that strange comforting album. While it didn’t change things for me it did make me think that somewhere out there Thompson may empathise with the feeling of being  a little uncomfortable in the skin we wear and living in fear.

She’s got hoochie coochie Gucci and a Pom Pom hat…

It’s been awhile so today’s selection was Mr Thompson from his Polydor years.IMG_4052 That period after the divorce from Linda and the first Mitchell Froom production. This was the years when he toured with the blood spattered guitar strap and Christine Collister on the back up vocals and Clive Gregson filling the rhythm guitar spot.

Daring Adventures is a lost classic in the Thompson cannon. It provides many of the current live staples, Bone Through Her Nose, Al Bowlly, the lovely Jennie and the incendiary Valerie. It is one of his strongest albums but it often gets overlooked as it seems to be so hard to find. Full of witty sarcastic biting songs of love, loss and trains. As well and the best song of noncomitment ever written with Nearly In Love.  The price of admittance is more than justified by the guitar solo on Long Dead Love.

Maybe it is the dour cover looking like some film noire screenshot set in Yorkshire. Although the strange man in leather trench coat and flat cap leaning against a brick wall looks sinister for all the wrong reasons. This  may be the reason it is less well known than some of the other albums.

Not long after this R.T. took off for Los Angeles and fame and fortune as the most oft cited guitar slinger nobody knows about or the alleged soccer coach for the Governator at one time.

This album  along with Hand of Kindness and Across a Crowded Room has held my hand through many a break up from 1983 to 1991, then my soon to be wife asked me to play it again and I knew I had a keeper.

To share in our infancy…

Oh the dim and distant past when record companies viewed albums as art and not product and took love and care to present something that was functional and enjoyable come Jethro Tull’s Living In The Past. Such a carefully presented album for a compilation would be almost unthinkable today. It may even bankrupt the record company attempting to produce such a thing of beauty

A collection of oddities, singles and a couple of live songs Living In The Past never quite gels as an album, but as a collection of songs it is a great compilation.

No matter what you think of Mr Anderson’s image as a single legged flute blower with a codpiece the size of a continent his ability to write a solid ditty cannot be doubted. Life Is A Long Song is a classic and Up The Pool takes me back to my childhood and the excitement of driving up the M.6. to Blackpool on summer Sunday’s. Not that my dad ever played any Tull in the car but that air of expectancy and excitement is infectious none the less. My dad now heads out to Llandudno these days as Blackpool is for the young in his mind.

I have always been a little put off by the live side with it’s strange talk of narcotic fingernails and other oddness. It all began to make sense with the release of the Carnegie Hall concert the two tracks came from on Stand Up.

Dr Bogenbroom, Sweet Dream and the other tracks are joyous single length forays into a strange world where the blues, folk, rock and pop all came together into that strange heady mix that is Tull. Before they took off into the odd world of out progressiving and conceptualizing (if those aren’t a word they are now) just about everybody with their next two albums.

And the band played on…

I am not sure there are many bands anymore who play their new album in it’s entirety to open the show. Romp through their well loved songs and end with a singalong.

Wilco did last night at times sounding like Pink Floyd meet the Band and ending with a stripped down acoustic set.

A great time was had by all.

Not the best pictures but what the heck it’s a gig not a photography class

That’s the moment that he cracked…

What do you play when it has all really been too much? Something uplifting and happy, a validation of life or something else.

For me it’s Neil Young’s Zuma. Yes the ditch trilogy will bring you down and let you wallow until catharsis brings you out on the other side ready to face whatever comes next. What came next for Neil Young was Zuma, and it get’s you there without any of the preamble and soul searching. A solid slab of Youngian doom and gloom and bright California sunshine.

Don’t Cry No Tears is almost a mission statement as young drags you down with Dangerbird, the guitar solo almost falling over. Pardon My Heart with the lyric “no, no, no don’t believe this song” leaves no excuses, you then go Lookin’ For A Love until side one finishes with Barstool Blues.


Misogyny rears it’s ugly head with Stupid Girl, Drive Back rock’s along in a paranoid and vindictive way until you get to Cortez the Killer famously banned in Spain for a time and then we all relax with Through My Sails.

It’s the perfect arc of an album.


Two epic guitar work out’s, several great songs reflecting on love, life and fame and a minimalist album cover that for me ranks with the best. This has always been a favorite with me ever since I bought it in W.H. Smith in Huyton and then had to reconcile these vindictive lyrics with Harvest which I bought on the same day. It was the first time I had to work to figure out what the heck was going on with an artist I liked. Up to this point the only Neil Young I had heard was After the Goldrush, I had no frame of reference for the biting solos and twisted lyrics. I was however drawn to the solo and urgent drums on Drive Back, Cortez the Killer made me actually think, mainly to try and figure out what the heck was going on.

So this evening as I began to think that I really was at the end of my wits and that vacation starting tomorrow couldn’t get here quick enough I reached for that black and white cover. This was by the way the very first new album I bought after getting a turntable, I think it was $15 from Amazon and was the very first shrink wrapped piece of wonder for over twenty years.

Thirtysometing minutes later those strange songs had soothed my mind and all was well enough to go on.

My 15 year old son is sure this feeling was actually all caused by listening to too much Progressive Rock, but I know he is wrong.