American rock band Kiss are tailor-made for appearing in comics and they have on many occasions. But did you know that their first ever appearance in a comic was in a 1977 issue of ‘Howard The Duck‘? Has anyone got a copy of that comic? As well as appearing in their own comic book series the band have also appeared on the Simpsons as themselves.
During my formative years I was a big fan of the USA. This view was largely developed from reading Marvel comics, the Apollo missions and watching westerns and war films on the TV. As I got older and became interested in politics my views on America flexed somewhat. Whilst there is much to love about the place there is an awful lot to dislike. I love New England, San Francisco, Marvel Comics and Stephen King to name but a few. I dislike, again to name just a few, the Republican party, the Christian right, Dubya, Gun laws and the way Hollywood changes so much in movies (The ending of I Am Legend, Disney‘s version of Winnie the Pooh and the fact that no Americans were involved in the real Great Escape)
But I do have a number of friends and readers that are Americans so I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy Independence Day from a Brit across the pond. To help you celebrate here are some of my favourite USA themed songs
It’s January 3rd 2010 and also the first time that the once mighty Leeds United have beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford since 1981. Not only that but it counts as a serious giant killing act in the long traditions and history of the FA Cup. After their financial meltdown a few years back it’s about time Leeds had some great news. They are likely to be promoted this year too. Read all about todays game here. As for the fourth round let’s do the same to ‘Arry’s Spurs!
Leeds were the team I put my faith in when I first got into football, I never lived near the city, in fact I grew up near London. I can still remember the classic Leeds team from the late 60s; Sprake, Reaney, Cooper, Bremner, Charlton, Hunter, Lorimer, Clarke, Jones, Giles, Gray and Madeley (sub). Immortalised in David Peace’s excellent book ‘The Damned United’ the 70s team were hard, tough and dirty. The sad thing for me is that they finished 2nd more than they finished first.
Strangely enough January 3rd is also the 40th anniversary of my first ever visit to a football match. It was Chelsea versus Burnley at Stamford Bridge in London in the third round of the FA Cup. I supported Chelsea that day, mainly because my Uncle Ben who took me was a died in the wool Burnley supporter. That game was a 2 all draw and Chelsea won the replay at Turf Moor in Burnley. In another strange coincidence Chelsea went on to play Leeds United in the final and sadly beat them in a replay which was held at Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground (another coincidence indeed). On the way to the final Leeds beat Manchester United in the semi final in the second replay
My Aunt June (Uncle Ben’s wife) was due to go to the Chelsea versus Burnley match with him but she gave her ticket to me after a somewhat traumatic experience I suffered at school. I used to write stories and sometimes read them in class, mostly limited and simple sci-fi with mild horror elements. I was influenced heavily by Marvel Comics (especially the Fantastic Four), the Pan Collections of Horror Stories and Gerry Anderson’s TV work (Stingray, Thunderbirds etc.). At a parents evening my parents were informed by the school that I had an imagination that was much too vivid and that reading American Comics and Horror stories was bad for me. They advised my folks to get rid of all my comics and horror books, so they did. In those days people often did what the ‘powers that be’ told them to, so I have no issues with my parents. However I do take great issue with the school, even now. Why on earth would you deny a child the chance to expand their imagination? It has never made sense to me. I could understand if they had said I should broaden my reading material, but to take most of it away, that just smacks of censorship!
Have any of you experienced anything similar?
Anyway as I often say this is a music blog so here are some appropriate songs
“Leeds United & Leeds, Leeds, Leeds” – by the Leeds United Football Team – this single actually made the UK charts in the early 70s. Listen carefully and you’ll hear the names of all the players I mentioned earlier.
“Fantastic Four Theme” – taken from the 1967 animated series
“The Fantastic Four Song” – Ray Wall Band
“Leeds United” – Amanda Palmer – this is one weird song, but I love it!
We took a day out to Whitby in North Yorkshire yesterday which is only about an hours drive from where I live in York. Many of you may know that Whitby is where much of Bram Stoker’s Dracula is set and much of the fabulously imposing structure of Whitby Abbey still remains. I think I will have to read the book again soon. Catwoman tells me that Whitby is supposed to be Goth Central, well apart from a couple of pre-teen girls with My Chemical Romance hoodies there was nothing even remotely close, maybe they just come out at night. By the way I know that MCR would not be considered goth, but really that is the closest thing I saw. But if the Daily Mail is to be believed, and I really don’t think it is, then these two kids were off to do some self harm and plan for suicide!
I did find a small independent music store though, as usual! I bought a copy of the supremely talented Julian Cope’s album ‘Black Sheep’ I got into Cope quite late really but I love his stuff now, especially his solo albums, I’m not so keen on the Teardrop Explodes. Incidentally did you know that the band got their name from issue 77 of Marvel Comics Daredevil from 1971 (which also featured Spiderman and Prince Namor)? Well they did and did you know that whilst I like Daredevil and Spidey the Silver Surfer is probably my favourite Marvel character? Well he is, but is followed in a very close second place by the Fantastic Four!
Whilst in Whitby we simply had to visit it’s most famous Fish and Chip restaurant, The Magpie and trust me it was well worth it! Click on the name to check it out. Speaking of fish,have any of you seen the new TV advert for Birds Eye Salmon Fish Fingers? I’m not sure if it is being shown outside the UK yet. Either way and just in case click here to see it. I think it is bloody hilarious and the best TV ad I’ve seen for ages.
I’ll cover just one birthday today 9th April. It’s the 29th birthday of Albert Hammond Jr off of the Strokes who has also produced a couple of solo albums in recent years too. He is the son of US singer songwriter Albert Hammond, I could make a joke here about his parents lacking creativity by giving him the same name as his Dad, but I won’t because that’s exactly what my parents did. no they didn’t name me Albert Hammond, he wasn’t my Dad ok, that’s just a “Big Stripey Lie” (you like the secret Kate reference Mickelodeon?). No my Dad, and therefore me too, were and are William Adamson, although no one ever calls me William anymore. Nowadays it’s Bill, Will, baldbloke or git. Anyway back to Mr Hammond Jr, I bought the Strokes’ first album ‘Is This It’ while I was on holiday in Canada in late August 2001. My copy contains the track “New York City Cops” which was removed from the US and some other territories releases after the terrible events of September 11th 2001. It was deemed disrespectful to the many public servants who risked and in many cases lost their lives on that day. I do understand that, but clearly it was written and recorded some time before those horrific murders so maybe now is a good time to reclaim it! Click here to see the band performing it live. Albert met Julian Casablancas, also off of the Strokes whilst at Boarding School in Switzerland. Albert’s dad had a massive hit in the early 70s with what I suppose would be termed one of my guilty pleasures these days, “It Never Rains In Southern California“. well maybe it does but surely it rains much, much less there than it does here in the UK.
It has been pointed out to me that Queen have not yet featured in my blog so far, well it’s nothing personal I do like them quite a lot. So here they are! On this day in 1973 Queen played a showcase gig for their new record label, EMI, at the Marquee Club in London. The late great (those l’s & g’s are getting very regular now, it must be all the Bran Flakes!) Freddie Mercury came up with the band’s name and claims he never even thought of it’s gay connotations, here is what he said about it; “I thought up the name Queen. It’s just a name, but it’s very regal obviously, and it sounds splendid, It’s a strong name, very universal and immediate. It had a lot of visual potential and was open to all sorts of interpretations. I was certainly aware of gay connotations, but that was just one facet of it.” For me Queen was more than just Freddie, it was a combination of him, Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor. That is why I really don’t get stuff like the newish Paul Rodgers and Queen album. I think Paul Rodgers has one of the great rock voices but he’s not a part of Queen is he? I’m sure that some of you will disagree but that’s my opinion. Anyway let’s end this Queen piece on a fun note with another excellent Freddie quote. Queen and the Sex Pistols were recording in the same London studio complex in 1977 when Sid Vicious went into the wrong room and saw Freddie Mercury sitting at the piano alone. Sid allegedly said something like “Freddie Mercury, still bringing ballet to the masses are you?” Freddie’s excellent reply was allegedly something similar to “Oh yes Mr Ferocious dear, we are doing our best” Here are the mighty Queen with my favourite of all their songs “Seven Seas Of Rhye“
And finally this day in 1991 saw the death of record producer Martin Hannett. He was born in Manchester and had produced many Manchester bands including; the Smiths, New Order, Joy Division, Happy Mondays and Magazine. He also worked with U2 and the Psychedelic Furs. He was credited as Martin zero for his first production job which was the “Spiral Scratch EP” by the Buzzcocks. He died of heart failure in 1991 after years of heavy drinking and drug addiction, which included heroin. Many people have a real misconception of the nature of addiction, myself included until recently. I have learned a lot from an Australian blog which now features on my BlogRoll, it’s called ‘The Australian Heroin Diaries‘ and you really should check it out. As far as Martin goes I had to finish with Joy Division’ fantastic “Love Will Tear Us Apart”