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Bowie Walk Having helped the V&A with a photo of Dobell’s, they’re kind enough to send me this Jonathan Barnbrook-designed pamphlet, David Bowie Is Walking In Soho. The tour starts here Continue reading

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Tony, Tony, Tony Following on from the despair of a couple of weeks ago at depressing rock reads, this rebalanced everything: Eamonn Forde’s brilliant compression of Tony Blackburn’s hysterical and self-regarding autobiography, Poptastic. Here are two examples, the first about Gary Glitter Continue reading

Five Things: Wednesday 1st May

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A Rainy Night In Bourges: Le Printemps De Bourges, Loire, France The annual festival brings a platter of bands to almost every bar in town. Trying to decide where to go and who to see brings the following descriptions from the programme: Superhero Big Beat Surf/Pop Art Punk/Reggae Occitan/Black Death/House Celt Rock Experimental, and my favourite: Rock Noise Folk Blues. This poster in a nearby town would have had me putting money down for tickets, but it was in the past… Best music we saw was a cracking band called Minou, consisting of Pierre Simon & Sabine Quinet, plus a bald percussionist on electric pads. Continue reading

Five Things: Wednesday 22nd April

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One Thing I’ll Miss Later This Week: The “Muscle Shoals” Film I’m really looking forward to this documentary, but am not around to see it at the Sundance Festival in London this week. I wrote a reminiscence of the time that our band, Hot!House went there to record (find it here). Incidentally, the Rock’s Back Pages logo is the legendary Jimmy Johnson’s guitar pick (he lent us his car as well…) I liked this review on imdb titled, The only puzzling thing about “Muscle Shoals” is how this story went so long without being told. Continue reading

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Words Fail, pt. 73 From the Evening Standard: The soundtrack to David and Samantha Cameron’s marriage is an album of Depression-era US folk music, the PM’s wife has disclosed. Time (The Revelator) is a 2001 collection of austere narratives by Nashville singer Gillian Welch. Continue reading

5 Things Extra: Dobell’s Exhibition

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George Elliot, Bill Colyer, Brian Harvey, Doug Dobell, Ken Lindsay, George Webb, John Jacks and a bottle of Emva Cream Sherry at the opening of Dobells in Brighton in 1957. Bill had just finished building it all with Peter Martin. The Dobell’s exhibition at my old alma mater, Chelsea School of Art (now relocated in the shadow of Tate Britain and renamed university of the arts london chelsea) was a Proustian rush – who knew that the Museum Of London had collected parts of the original shop when the Tower Street branch finally closed in 1992 Continue reading

Five Things: Wednesday 3rd April

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‘January 26, 1962: Passed Dylan on the street, he said to me that he “didn’t know why so many things are happening to me.” I said that he did.’ Michael Gray writes a very nice piece on Izzy Young on the occasion of his 85th birthday. A couple of years ago in Stockholm we sat with Izzy outside his office, the Folklore Centrum, having tea with Sarah Blasko (Izzy is a magnet for any musician of a certain bent who happens to be in town) Continue reading

FTIS&HTW: Wednesday 20th March

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Southland The fever dream that was Beasts of The Southern Wild led me back to Kate Campbell’s “When Panthers Roamed In Arkansas” – first heard on a CD accompanying the wonderful Oxford American magazine’s Music Issue, maybe ten years ago. The small girl at the centre of the film sees giant aurochs – ancestors of domestic cattle – astride the landscape, a result of the ecological disaster that’s befalling them. Continue reading

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Alabama Shakes, Always Alright Best moment in the very ho-hum Silver Linings Playbook (a film fatally scuppered by having Robert de Niro play the father, so the whole thing just reminds you of Meet The Whatevers, but with a less … Continue reading

FTIS&HTW: Wednesday 6th March

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Bruno Mars, Jonathan Ross Show, ITV I started this blog because I watched Bruno Mars at the Brits a year ago, and loved the performance of his bass player so much that I wanted to write about it. It was these non-headline moments that I found interesting, and no one seemed to be writing about them Continue reading

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Psychic City by Yacht I can’t even remember what this song was used for this week, tracking an advert, or a programme segment, or something. All I knew was that it hit all those Blondie/Ze Records/Waitresses buttons Continue reading

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What I’ve Learned, Thom Yorke, US Esquire “My grandfather would come to our house in the countryside, borrow one of our bikes, and disappear. He’d come back after dark and we had no idea where he’d been. If he ran into anybody, he’d just ask them where the good nightclub was. Continue reading

FTIS&HTW: Wednesday 13th February

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Down Terrace An in-your-face saga of the spiralling disintegration of a Brighton criminal clan, the music track for Ben Wheatley’s first film (from 2009) is a fascinating mix of transatlantic rural music. The none-more-English folk music of The Copper Family sits happily next to Robert Johnson’s Little Queen of Spades. Continue reading

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From The Blog Of Photographer Heather Harris “The first four words of vocabulary we learned in Synthesizer 101 class at UCLA (circa 1972, so we’re talking monophonic ARP 2600s) were the descriptions of all musical sound notes: attack, sustain, decay, release. How fitting to the lifeworks of creative types.” Wow. Attack. Continue reading

Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week: Wednesday 23rd January

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Daughter Reviews Les Mis Running time: 2.5 hours Spoken word count: 17 Number of times Hugh J cries: 6 Most used facial expression: anguish mixed with constipation Most enhanced facial feature: lines around the mouth Number of times stolen bread is mentioned: 12 Laugh-out-loud moments: Sasha B-C and Helena B-C as pick-pocketing inn keepers Time it takes Cosette and Marius to fall head over heels in love: 4 seconds Most moving songs: Anne H—I Dreamed a Dream and Samantha Barks—On My Own Supporting Show Stealers: Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche and Samantha Barks as Eponine Reasons That Awards Are Stupid Chose between these acts for Best International Male at the Brits: a) Bruce Springsteen b) Frank Ocean c) Goyte d) Jack White e) Michael Bublé Amazing Facts From Patrick Humphries’ Biography Of Lonnie Donegan, King Of Skiffle “The first record Art Garfunkel remembers buying for himself was Lonnie’s Rock Island Line; and in Fairfax, California, that same Lonnie song was the very first tune that a shy 17-year-old Harvey Phillip Spector learned to play on the guitar. In New Orleans, the young Dr John—Malcolm “Mac” Rebennack was another who remembers being inspired by the Donegan hit. And way, way down in Texas, Jerry Allison and his buddy, Buddy Holly, were so captivated by Donegan’s Rock Island Line that they began incorporating it into shows they played around Lubbock.” “Can You Dance To It?” Listening to a CD lovingly compiled by my friend Tim, of African singles [African Serenades 44: Kenyan Singles] and finding this quote from him on the back: “I taught near Eldoret for two years in the early 1980s, fell in love with the music and then found that my Zigzag-reading, album-sleeve-obsessive completist’s mindset was completely turned upside down because, of course, none of the friends I made cared about who was responsible for that amazing guitar solo or impassioned vocal on individual songs Continue reading

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Weird iPod Synchronicity Pt4: Hyde Park Corner, London As Lana Del Ray sparks into life in my headphones, hitting the chorus of Day At The Races [And I’m off to the races/Cases of Bacardi chasers/Chasing me all over town…] a trap and four outriders, all jodhpurs, riding hats & crops, trots in front of the bus, past Apsley House, and makes their way into Hyde Park. On The Road Again Fact Of The Week: At number 17 in the Highest Earning World Tours last year, Leonard Cohen is ahead (at £28.4 million) of Justin Bieber… and at Number 27, The Black Keys are ahead of Celine Dion, having grossed $23.5 million Continue reading

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Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground As we drove along Spain’s Costa Tropical, past the last remaining sugar cane factory in Europe, the sky turned orange and Blind Willie Johnson came on the CD player. I don’t really have the words to describe this performance, but it may be the loneliest sound ever committed to shellac. Driving as the sun fell it stilled the conversation Continue reading

Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week: Wednesday 12th December

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Dave Brubeck, talking to Marian McPartland …on her wonderful series, Piano Jazz, for NPR, about his great collaborator, Paul Desmond. “I loved listening to him, every night, and the humour—if he wanted to say something funny through the horn—would just break me up… If I did something wrong, that he didn’t like, he’d usually play I’m An Old Cowhand (From The Rio Grande) because I was raised on a cattle ranch and he’d bring that up, musically Continue reading