With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

“Riding The Space Potato” – Morpher May 27, 2017


Have you ever wanted to ride the Space Potato? You have? Well Morpher give you that opportunity with a fine slab of funky jazz entitled “Riding The Space Potato”. If you like your jazz funky, I do, then you will love this. For me there is also an undercurrent of Bowie‘s experimentation with Brian Eno on the second side of 1977’s ‘Low’ album. The sax soaked sound also seems to draw from PigBag and maybe even a little Madness. This track would not be out of place as an interlude on a Parliament/ Funkadelic album. Click here to check it out on BandCamp, take a listen even if you don’t think you like jazz, because this is a classy tune. There is a brief clip of the band playing it live below. I’m off to fire up the Space Potato to warp drive now……. bye!

 

 

“I watched it for a little while I love to watch things on TV” October 27, 2013


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I am sure that many of you have now heard of the sad passing of music icon Lou Reed aged 71. The Associated Press have said that he died of a ‘liver related ailment’ following a liver transplant earlier this year. Two of my favourite albums of all time are Lou Reed related. Firstly ‘The Velvet Underground And Nico‘ and the classic solo album ‘Transformer‘ from 1972.

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Being a Bowie fan I came across Lou Reed after Mr Bowie mentioned him often in interviews and then went on to produce ‘Transformer’ along with Mick Ronson. Lou has always in my opinion been very much his own man and often refused to play the music industry game. Personally I think he should be commended for that.

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Brian Eno once said ‘The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band’ to try to describe the wide influence that Lou Reed had on many fellow musicians. My thoughts go to Lou’s wife Laurie Anderson, his family, friends and fans. RIP Lou Reed you will be greatly missed.

 

“Oh man! Wonder if he’ll ever know he’s in the best selling show” David Bowie Is at the Victoria & Albert Museum 2013 May 5, 2013


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I am sure that by now you are all aware of the ‘David Bowie Is’ exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in Kensington, London. It began on 23rd March this year and runs until 11th August. It is also the fastest selling and best selling exhibition the museum has ever done. It includes many Bowie artefacts and costumes from his archive; many of which have never been shown to the public before. I booked my tickets ages ago and finally made it here on 5th May. ( I was joined by Catwoman and my good friends the Horslens)

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There are handwritten lyrics from throughout his career and stage designs for most of his major tours from the Diamond Dogs US tour in 1974 to the Outside Tour of 1995 via 1983’s Serious Moonlight. The costumes range from those worn in all the aforementioned tours along with all the classic Ziggy outfits; including the classic one worn on that famous Top of the Pops performance of “Starman” from way back in July 1972.

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The whole thing is incredibly arranged, directed and curated. The interactive audio headphones which trigger when you are near a particular exhibit are brilliant. I feel sure that Bowie has played a big part in the whole thing. There are some video shots and audio that have never legally seen the light of day before. I particularly loved the version of “Sweet Thing” from the 1974 US tour. There was also an excellent mock-up 3D stage set design for those shows. Those were possibly my two favourite things from the day.

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Bowie has always been an artist and not just a rock star and this is clearly shown by the volume of his own paintings and sketches on display. Including a series of storyboard pictures for a ‘Diamond Dogs’ film that never got made. There were also some detailed notes showing that he had definitely intended for 1995’s ‘1: Outside’ album to be the first in a trilogy that would have ended in 1999. I wonder if he’ll ever make those other two? Sadly I think not.

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His set of oblique strategy cards used in the studio by Brian Eno are there along with the synthesiser used on the Berlin albums. Another room is dedicated to showing clips from his best known films including; ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth‘, ‘Labyrinth’, ‘The Prestige’, ‘Basquiat’, ‘Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence‘ and ‘Absolute Beginners‘. There is also a rare public outing for a clip from his 1967 black and white short ‘The Image’ (as a bit of a Bowie anorak I already have this on DVD).. Costumes and props from some of these films are also on show.

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The Bowie items in the shop are quite tasteful too, in the main anyway! I had previously bought the David Bowie Is hardback book and today I bought the Ziggyology book along with the set of postcards that relate to the exhibition. Obviously I needed more stuff to continue the pimping of my man bag so I bought a pin badge emblazoned with the phrase ‘David Bowie Is turning us all into voyeurs’.

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I was excited before the exhibition and that was well justified excitement in my opinion. It exceeded my very high expectations by a very long way. If you have been or are planning to go I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you are unable to attend then you have missed something really special. Now let me sign off with a few Bowie classics.

David Bowie Is at the V&A Museum

 

“Flying like an autumn wind, lady did you lose a friend?” February 21, 2013


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I first heard Kevin Ayers back in the early 70s and ‘Joy Of A Toy’ remains a favourite album of mine. So it is with sadness that I am posting about his demise. He passed away in his sleep aged 68 on February 18th at his home in France. Ayers was a pioneer of the British psychedelic scene and first found fame with Soft Machine. John Peel once said this of him; “Kevin Ayers’ talent is so acute you could perform major eye surgery with it”. Click here to read the BBC report of Kevin’s death.

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Kevin has worked with many people, including Syd Barrett, Brian Eno, Mike Oldfield and John Cale. He was there for the formation of Soft Machine in the mid 60s. The band was named after the William S Burroughs novel ‘The Soft Machine’. Kevin once sold his Fender jazz bass to Noel Redding from Jimi Hendrix’ band. This was after an extensive US tour. He grew up in Canterbury and lived for some time in Ibiza and France.

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Interestingly he wasn’t the only one in the family with such a pioneering spirit. His father Rowan Ayers was a BBC Producer and was responsible for kicking off the classic BBC music show ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test‘. If you have never listened to Kevin Ayers then I suggest you rectify that right now! I have included a few of my favourite Ayers songs at the end of this post. My thoughts go to Kevin’s family, friends and fans. RIP Kevin Ayers – a true British Rock legend!

 

“But it’s worth it all just to hear them say that they care” May 17, 2012


Supreme Disco Diva Donna Summer passed away today aged just 63. It has been reported that she had battled breast cancer and lung cancer and died at her home in Key west, Florida. She was born LaDonna Adrian Gaines exactly 10 years and one day before me.

In the late 60s Donna auditioned for the part of Sheila in the Broadway production of ‘Hair’ but the part went to Melba Moore. However when the show moved to Europe she was offered the part and moved to Germany. She later went on to appear in the stage versions of ‘Godspell’ and ‘Showboat’.

While in Germany she married an Austrian, Helmuth Sommer in 1972. They divorced later but Donna kept an Anglicised version of her surname. She also learned to speak fluent German. She met influential producer Giorgio Moroder while she was singing backing vocals for Three Dog Night. Her first album came out in 1974 and was titled ‘Lady Of The Night’. A single taken from the album “The Hostage” went to number one in Belgium. Following this Donna worked with Moroder on an idea for a song that eventually became her first major hit, “Love To Love You Baby“. It was eventually released in November 1975 in both the edited 7 inch version and the extended 17 minute 12 inch version. The latter was at the request of Casablanca Records head honcho Neil Bogart. Many radio stations refused to play the song owing to the orgasmic moans it featured. Those noises certainly worked well on my teenage mind!

Donna Summer would be seen by many as a singles artist, but in my opinion she also released some superb albums. In particular the four albums that came out through 1976 to 1977; ‘A Love Trilogy‘, ‘Four Seasons Of Love’, ‘I Remember Yesterday‘ and ‘Once Upon A Time’. Of course the track that epitomizes the peak of her disco success was almost hidden away on ‘I Remember Yesterday’; that track was “I Feel Love“. There is a very strong argument to say that this song was one of the most influential songs ever, certainly of the 70s.  Without it there may never have been electro, techno and according to the Fatboy himself (that’ll be Norman Cook) no Acid House either. David Bowie recalled Brian Eno‘s reaction on hearing the song when they were recording in Berlin. Bowie said ‘One day in Berlin … Eno came running in and said, ‘I have heard the sound of the future.’ … he puts on ‘I Feel Love’, by Donna Summer … He said, ‘This is it, look no further. This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next fifteen years.’ Which was more or less right’

Her last big album of the 70s was 1979’s ‘Bad Girls’ which spawned three classic Donna Summer singles; “Hot Stuff”, “Bad Girls” and “Dim All The Lights”. Whilst the 70s was probably where she peaked she did release a few more classics. In the 80s there was “On The Radio”, “State Of Independence” and “She Works Hard For The Money”. Also in the 80s there was the stuff she recorded with Stock, Aitken and Waterman, notably “This Time I Know It’s For Real”. I heard Pete Waterman talking about Donna on Simon Mayo’s Radio 2 show earlier today. He said that she was by far one of the most amazing and talented vocalists he had ever worked with. She scored a few number ones on the US dance charts as late as 2008 and 2010. She also won five Grammys between 1979 and 1998.

She became embroiled in controversy over alleged derogatory comments about gay people and AIDS. However she refuted those claims and publicly apologised. But this should not mar her glittering career. I for one will miss such a great talent and my thoughts go to her family, friends and legions of fans across the world. Donna Summer RIP.

 

“From feudal serf to spender, this wonderful world of purchase power” September 15, 2009


Me and my helmet :-)

Me and my helmet 🙂

Here we go again folks and I have some brilliant news, well it was brilliant for me anyway. On Saturday I spent the day at the Riders Edge Harley Davidson centre in Wales. This was a gift experience which was given to me as a birthday present by the wonderful and beautiful Catwoman for my 50th birthday back in January. You have to bear in mind that I have never been on a motorbike in my life. So to say I was a little apprehensive at first would be a major understatement. Let’s just say that I made sure I packed a clean pair of under crackers…….just in case!

Anyway being a complete novice I spent the morning, around three hours riding a 500cc machine around the private roads within the Royal Welsh Showground at Builth Wells. Whilst I never fell off once I came close a couple of times! I guess I pictured in my head having to lean right over when taking corners, but that’s for the speed freaks, at the speeds I was doing taking a corner upright was easy. Incidentally while it felt much, much faster I don’t think I got above 40 mph. For me the coordination required to change gear with your left foot while not looking down at all was very difficult. But when you think about it it really shouldn’t be. I mean I don’t look down when I change gear in the car so why should I need to when riding a motorbike? Well perhaps because I’m not using a gear stick with my hand but trying to change it with my foot. But by the end of the morning session I had reached the dizzy heights of 5th gear twice and stalled less than ten times in total and as I said earlier, I never fell off or crashed once! The last part was a great result for me as I fully expected to take a few spills.

Me on a Harley

Me on a Harley

So after just three hours on the saddle they sadly weren’t going to let me loose on a fabulous Harley on my own. However I did get a pillion ride on a gorgeous Harley Davidson machine under the control of one of the Rider’s Edge expert instructors, Ian. Having never even ridden pillion before that too was also a great experience for me. Cruising around some wonderful Welsh countryside. Great weather, great views and remarkably attractive sheep, well at least I would imagine they are attractive if you’re perhaps Welsh or a Kiwi.

Uneasy Rider perhaps?

Uneasy Rider perhaps?

I would like to take this opportunity to say a big, big thank you to all the folks at Riders Edge. Especially Clive, who was my instructor in the morning and also Ian with whom I rode pillion in the afternoon.

In the meantime and as this is really a music related blog let’s steer it back in that direction! Can you guess what today’s theme might be? Well it’s a bit obvious really isn’t it? Today’s theme is Motorbikes! Here are a few motorbike or motorbike related songs with a morsel of trivia about each of the artists or songs

“Motorcycle Emptiness” – Manic Street Preachers. This was the fifth single to be taken from the band’s Generation Terrorists album in 1992. The lyrics are inspired by a book about biker gang culture called Rumble Fish which was written by S E Hinton

“Motorbikin’”– Chris Spedding. This 1975 Top 20 hit was Spedding’s biggest and he is perhaps best known as a sought after session guitarist. He has played with many artists including; Bryan Ferry, Roxy Music, Elton John, Brian Eno, Jack Bruce, Nick Mason, John Cale, Katie Melua, Harry Nilsson, Tom Waits, Paul McCartney, Jeff Wayne and even the Wombles! He also famously played on and produced three demos for the Sex Pistols in 1976. The three songs were “No Feelings”, “Problems” and “Pretty Vacant”

“Funky Moped” – Jasper Carrot. This was a surprise hit for Mr Carrot in 1975. The single was backed with a risque monologue based around the 60s TV series the “Magic Roundabout“, which at the time I thought was bloody hilarious! he also has a thespian daughter; Lucy Davis who played Dawn in the Office. She was excellent in that series don’t you think?

“Silver Dream Machine”– David Essex. At the age of 23 in 1971 David took the lead role in the musical Godspell on the London Stage. I actually went to see that show as part of a school trip in 1972 when he was still in it. Our coach was delayed because all the girls on the trip had gathered outside the stage door to scream and get his autograph. It was around the time he released his first major single “Rock On”. My first serious girlfriend; Gay Topsom, was a big David Essex fan and I remember buying her each of his singles as soon as they were released. I never had enough money to stretch to an album. But we were together for two years from 1975 to 1977 so I guess that’s a fair amount of singles. She left me for a guy who was slightly older and more importantly had a car! But you know what I’m over that now and if you’re reading this Gay, I forgive you 🙂

“Bat Out Of Hell”– Meatloaf. Meat was born Marvin Lee Aday on 27th September 1947 so he will turn 62 in a couple of weeks. get your cards written and sent now folks. Jim Steinman the producer and I suppose you could say creator of Meat’s landmark Bat Out Of Hell album was apparently trying to get something that sounded like a cross between Wagner, Phil Spector and Bruce Springsteen. Well I for one reckon he succeeded. What do you think?

“Born To Be Wild”– Steppenwolf. This band hailed from Toronto and many credit their recording of the iconic “Born To Be Wild” as the first Heavy Metal record, although just as many disagree. It has had a long association with motorbikes, very likely due to its inclusion on the soundtrack to the movie Easy Rider which starred Peter Fonda

I used to have this poster on my wall as a teenager :-)

I used to have this poster on my wall as a teenager 🙂

I am sure that you can think of plenty more so fire away folks!

This is the poster I really wanted on my wall as a teenager ;-)

This is the poster I really wanted on my wall as a teenager 😉

 

Charity Gig – The Junction, York – Friday 22nd May 2009 May 25, 2009


OK I know it’s been a long while since I’ve posted, but I finally made it back and I have a lot to tell you, in particular about Friday night. I had the pleasure of attending a charity gig at the Junction in York. A mighty array of excellent acts had been assembled by Simon Pattinson to aid two local charities; York Guardian Angels and the York Hospital Radio. Like me Simon is a volunteer at York Hospital Radio as is Tom Wycks (more of him later) who designed the flier. £5 for five acts is a bargain anywhere, but here with such a superb selection it was a stupendous bargain. But enough of that, you’re probably dying to find out who was on the bill aren’t you?

The flyer from Fridays gig
The flyer from Fridays gig

First up was ‘A Man Is Slapped’. How can I describe him? Well what if the Human League were a hip hop band? That might go someway to describing this somewhat genre defying chap. I have posted a Man Is Slapped review before. I was impressed then and I was even more impressed on Friday. He does a fantastic song live where he overlays all the backing parts and then sings over that overlaid loop. He also does some great beat boxing too. If you get a chance to see him, take it!. Also if you have the misfortune to find yourself in York Hospital in the coming weeks you may get to hear him on the Hospital Radio Station. Tom Wycks (see I said there would be more of him later) has arranged to record a Man Is Slapped interview. Tom’s show usually goes out at 8pm on Wednesdays and I must say it is very good.

Second up was ‘Electrify Me’ now let me use another ‘what if’ to describe him. What if Brian Eno had been born no more than twenty years ago? This young guy is an electronic multi-instrumentalist. Well I say instrumentalist but he seemed to be making music with sounds synthesised from old electronic equipment. Including a Game Boy, well at least I think it was a Game Boy, for all I know it might have been a a Star Trek Phaser or just a simple hole punch. He did a storming cover of “Tainted Love” which was made famous by Soft Cell in the 80s but written and recorded by Gloria Jones and was a big Northern Soul hit in the 70s. Anyway back to Electrify Me, this guy is a must for student parties and festival dance tents. You cannot help but move your feet to this guy’s unique sound and he even made the Nokia tune sound cool!

Third up was a band who joined the bill too late to appear on the flier. They’re called ‘Front Room Antics’ I’ve enjoyed the ‘what ifs’ so far so here’s another. What if Orange Juice (the band not the drink) hadn’t been invented until now and were infused more with blues than soul? yep that could be these guys. Good sound and they know how to jam, which they did especially well during the broken string incident (hey that would make a great band name!).  An excellent vocalist that drank red wine too, now that hasn’t been seen since the days of Rod and the Faces, although Rod and the boys were so ill mannered they necked it straight from the bottle. I detected some influences in the ‘Front Room Antics’ sound notably Franz Ferdinand, Kings Of Leon and Television. This band might not be the fastest stringers in the west but they are a great band with excellent potential nonetheless!

‘Euphoria Audio’ were next and yes there is another ‘what if’ (although I don’t think it’s a good one) What if the Lost Prophets weren’t Welsh? That would only go a very, very small way to describing this band. When they started I thought Kasabian only a more dynamic and so much better, then I thought Lost Prophets (as you might have guessed). In fact whilst there are some influences here this is a very original and very superb band. Very tight instrumentally and with a fantastic rock vocalist. This band would work well at festivals and have the potential to perhaps fill stadiums one day. They also have a song in an Internet song contest; 1click2fame, so click here to vote for them.

Finally there was the headline act ‘3 Foot Ninja’. What can I say? How about another ‘what if’? What if punk and power pop were in fact conjoined twins? That barely does them justice but goes someway to describing there rich, eclectic and truly marvellous sound. They have real energy, very loud but also very skilled musically. I had heard of them but never actually heard them until this gig and boy am I glad I saw them. I will definitely go and see them again. They included two incredible cover versions in their set. Firstly Dizzee Rascal’s “Dance Wiv Me”  and they finished with an awesome (and regular readers will know that I use that word very sparingly) cover of the Prodigy’s “Breathe”. My advice is gather up all of your X Factor shite and burn it, then replace it with whatever you can get by 3 Foot Ninja!

Let me finish by saying a big thank you to Simon P for making this all possible and for helping to raise money for two excellent causes; Guardian Angels and York Hospital Radio. I can confirm that £170 was raised.

 

 
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