Some more whimsy!

Totally inspired by a twitter conversation with @CharlieCoffee, where we started musing about gigs that we went to as youngsters, I’ve been using my dogwalking time to gently step down memory lane.

Charlie’s list is interesting, and I’ll put them here for fun.

But just before Charlie’s much more impressive list, and composed on yet another voyage of whimsy arrived at during random dogwalking moments is, in reverse order…

My Top Gigs Before I left home:

3. Ashton Gardner & Dyke
I don’t know how it happened, but somehow, someone managed to book Ashton, Gardner, & Dyke into Abergavenny Town Hall. I went for the first half (remember when gigs came in halves?), but had to leave to get the bus back home because public transport (like almost everything else in Abergavenny) closed down at 9.30pm in those days. Probably still does to be honest. Missing the second half meant that I missed the big finale including their famous hit. Timing notwithstanding, it was a really odd gig. Bad sound system, unclear accoustics, and sound engineering out of the ark. Oh, and a very poor lightshow. But they were professional musicians and they didn’t let such minor issues get in the way of showing us what they were capable of.

2. Mott The Hoople
Redhill Hostel on the Ross Road, Hereford. This was way before they even graduated to being support artists to bands such as Queen, Aerosmith, Fleetwood Mac or Nazareth. And therefore this was way before Mott The Hoople became a band in their own right with their own support acts. At this time Mott The Hoople were still getting to grips with their most recent personnel change. Ian Hunter had recently taken over the lead vocal from Stan Tippins. The band had only just recently begun to develop their repertoire, and I felt that they were still looking for their ‘sound’ (which didn’t come along until David Bowie began working with them). Hereford, for Mott The Hoople, was a local gig. So there were a lot of Friends Of Mott The Hoople in the audience. And a lot of those were Drunken Friends of Mott The Hoople. I can’t remember who got me there, but I can remember a joyous night full of stage-to-audience banter, and music so loud that my ears buzzed for days afterwards.

1. Croeso Blues Festival
June 1969 was the first Bath Festival of Blues, held on the Rec in the middle of town (later moved to the Royal Bath and West Showground in Shepton Mallet, a mere 21 miles distant or 2h 18m travel time away by 174 bus). Headlining in the Rec was Fleetwood Mac supported by John Mayall, Ten Years After, Led Zeppelin, The Nice, and loads of others, all compered by John Peel. Two months later, in August 1969, the first Isle of Wight Festival had Bob Dylan, The Band, The Who, Free, Joe Cocker, The Bonzo Dog Band and The Moody Blues. The following year, September 1970, Pilton (later rebadged to ‘Glastonbury’ because it was more mystical, probably) had its first festival. It starred Tyrannosaurus Rex (later known as T. Rex), Steamhammer, Quintessence, Stackridge, Al Stewart and Keith Christmas. But before all of these, back in May 1969 there was the Croeso Blues Festival. I shouldn’t have been there. I may have told my mother I was camping out for the weekend on one of my Duke Of Edinburgh Award orienteering and camping weekends (to be fair I did those too, and my Bronze Award orienteering and camping weekend was so epic it quickly passed in to folklore back at school. Maybe I’ll revisit it here one day). But Croeso Blues Festival was my very first music festival, if for no other reason than I could actually walk to it (but I hitchiked to Pandy and walked from there). I shouldn’t have been there. I was far too young to be out by myself (Duke of Edinburgh scheme notwithstanding). I was certainly far too young to be at a music festival by myself. But I couldn’t get any of my friends to go. So I went solo. It was a brilliant experience. It was doubly brilliant given that I should have been at home and tucked up in my bed by 9pm. There was no misbehaviour on my part at all. But just to experience live music, in the countryside, and to hear names that I only knew off the TV and the radio. And to be deafened. And to dance – and to dance with strangers – all that was beyond brilliant.

And now, here’s Charlie’s much more comprehensive list:

10. Genesis
Peter Gabriel, custume changes, etc, Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Prog Rock heaven

9. Traffic
One of the final gigs by Traffic at the Rainbow (we virtually lived there). Steve Winwood, able to play every instrument, apparently

8. Steely Dan
At the Rainbow (again). An immaculate performance from the coolest of bands

7. Stevie Wonder
At the Rainbow (once more). I’ll never forget his drumming

6. Benefit concert
For the recently paralysed drummer Robert Wyatt at the Rainbow (again), Finsbury Park. Pink Floyd. Only Pink Floyd

5. Stéphane Grappelli and Yehudi Menuhin
Two college friends and I nursed our drinks for three hours at Ronnie Scott’s. Magic

5. Rory Gallager
Solo at the Marquee Club. Total virtuoso blues rock guitarist

4. The Who
Charlton. But this time for Bad Company. Paul Roders’ voice was sublime

3. T. Rex
At the Boston Gliderdrome. Crowd way more than the safety limit. I watched from a table that broke a leg in the encores. What I should imagine a 60s Beatles gig must have been like

2. The Who
Lyceum. Townshend in his white boiler suit. Daltrey’s cowboy tassle days. A small venue.

1. Lindisfarne
A first-place tie: at Boston Gliderdrome and tying with Lindisfarne at Charlton with The Who, Bad Company, Lou Reed and Humble Pie

Falling in and out of love

Two years and two months ago (and where the hell did those 26 months go?) I posted about my lovely Bose QuietControl 30 in-ear Bluetooth headphones.

They are, without a doubt, the most effective noise-cancelling headphones I’ve ever tried.

With noise-cancelling turned all the way up they are so efficient they block out all engine noise from my 1,000-litre motorbike.

Not that I’d ever use them while I was actually riding the bike, of course.

The headphones also give the best quality audio of any in-ear, or over-ear devices I have ever owned or tested.

But very gradually… I. just. stopped. using. them.

Sadly.

For context, my favourite means of listening to music whilst I’m on the go, is (was) my trusty iPod Classic.

To connect the Bose QuietControl30 headphones to my non-Bluetooth Classic, I have to plug a non-Apple device into the foot of the iPod.

This handy Chinese gizmo turns the iPod into a Bluetooth-enabled device.

Which is pretty nifty, I think we’d all agree.

Except that little gizmo sticking out of the foot of the iPod doesn’t just turn it into a Bluetooth-enabled device. It turns the iPod into a clunk-adverse device.

The wrong kind of clunk or clank against a solid object could turn the plug-in, or the iPod, into devices that just won’t work any longer.

So without much by way of conscious decision, I slowly relegated the Bose to the back of the cupboard, and picked up using my usual plug-in Sennheiser earbuds.

But lately, alongside my still trusty iPod, I have adopted two new ways of listening to music: occasionally I use my phone because it has acres of storage and an awesome battery life, but much more frequently I use a streaming service.

So over the weekend I brought out the Bose, blew the dust off them, charged them up, paired them to my phone and to my laptop and Robert’s your Mother’s brother…

My ears are back in audiophile business.

Which is lovely, obv.

Mind you, trying not to sing at my desk is proving more difficult than I would have thought.

Later: (just got told off for tapping my feet. may have bee actually thumping them in time to Taylor Swift)

In your ears

We have jumped to the digital/streaming music app world.

After extensive research (critically viewing three very well-respected tech websites), we decided on Spotify.

And then Sam forwarded me a special offer: Three months’ individual subscription to Spotify for 0.99p.

That’s not too shabby.

At the end of the three-month special offer (if we still like Spotify) I will convert what we have into a family account, then we won’t pollute each other’s musical choices.

There’s a downside: my Synology NAS has no API with any online/streaming service. I’m sure it’ll come in time, and it will probably come to Spotify first (Spotify being the most tech-agnostic streaming service).

I suppose the upside is that we suddenly have a path of audio hardware to inspect and procure.

Oh well. Into every life…

A day-ish of geek

Today I upgraded the .php of every single website I host to v7.2.12.

Then I redesigned the podcast website (the old design relies on some tech that has been superseded).

If I had another few hours, I would have unpacked the studio equipment and put out a podcast. Because it’s only been three years since the last show.

I also managed to squeeze in a quick trip out on the Ninja.

That was fun too.

Music

I’ve finished importing every piece of (non-vinyl) music into my iTunes library.

Though ‘iTunes’ may soon become a thing of the past, as the trusty iPod Classic is so despised by Apple they stopped making them several years ago.

Fortunately the market is awash with excellent quality portable music players, and the new devices are not tied to the same small-scale digital formats that Applie tied us to; can quite happily cope with the better quality .flac format.

I’ve kept the source audio files, so I can upgrade from .mp3 to .flac whenever I want (when my iPod Classic inevitably dies, probably).

I don’t buy music from iTunes; haven’t done so for many years – around the time Apple introduced the ridiculous, and short-lived DRM, on behalf of a stupidly short-sighted music industry demand.

Anyway.

After today’s efforts my non-vinyl music library now stands at 9,451 songs which, according to the iTunes GUI, will take me 26d 9h 58m and 45s to listen to…

If I could stay awake for 26 24-hour days.

Or 52 12-hour days.

But that’s nearly two months?

Blimey.

Films, TV. Stuff to watch (or not)

I want to watch ‘Lucy’ again but it’s 18.30 on Sunday and there will be an influx of small children soon. And ‘Lucy’ isn’t a family film.

So instead, we’re watching ‘Oblivion’. Again.

It’s a good film.

Tom Cruise does what Tom Cruise does, and Andrea Riseborough shows talent by the yard (just watch her in ‘Welcome to the Punch’).

Anyway, back to ‘Lucy’.

It’s about time Luc Beson wrote and produced something else that good.

I hope ‘Lucy 2’ (currently in writing production) will be that thing.

Anyway, to the reason for this meander…

I was mucking out Prem this evening when a snippet of a song popped into my head. Just a refrain, not even a full melodic phrase.

A half-remembered portion of a tune, but it was hypnotic. Three bars of hypnotism. And no idea of the name.

I knew I knew it. But I couldn’t recall it. And not the title.

Gah! So frustrating.

Back home from the world of smelly pony and hay and straw and rugs and grooming and picking out wet hooves, I set myself a-googling.

I don’t remember what the successful search terms were, I only remember that Google didn’t give me the result, YouTube did.

It was a French track from the closing credits of ‘Lucy’.

Anyway (again).

We watched Ep1 of S1 of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina earlier.

It’s a kind of approximate reimagining of the whole Sabrina The Teenage Witch, except it isn’t. But it is. Sortov.

It’s awful. I mean it’s really really really bad.

The writing is shocking, the acting is dubious, the cinematography is horrible, and the incidental music is irritating beyond description.

I can’t think of a single good thing to say about it.

Except that one of the cast is Jasper Carrot’s daughter.

It really is awful.

Nerdiaudiophile

It is a word, I checked.

In the possibly never-ending quest to find me even more imaginative gifts, I was recently given this to wear around my neck:

Bose Bluetooth Earbuds

Bose Bluetooth Earbuds

They are a pair of Bose noise-cancelling in-ear Bluetooth earbud listening thingys (as they are called by the technical community).

And they are dangerously fantastic.

They are fantastic because the audio quality is quite possibly the best in-ear and over-ear experience I have ever had.

They are dangerously so because the noise-cancelling function (I’m still not sure how that works) actually blanked out the sound of the 1,000cc motorbike that I was standing next to, the first time I tried them.

Actually blanked out the sound of the engine.

Entirely.

An adjustment to the noise-cancelling switch-thingy soon sorted that out.

I was also given a cunning little plug-in thingy that turned my iPod Classic into a Bluetooth-enabled thingy, so I could pair it with the Bose noise-cancelling in-ear Bluetooth earbud listening thingys.

Yay!

Very unfortunately, and less than a week later, my iPod Classic stopped working.

Not due, I must add quickly, to anything to do with the Bose noise-cancelling in-ear Bluetooth earbud listening thingys.

And also not due to the cunning little plug-in thingy in my iPod.

I’m fairly sure (but awaiting for a detailed investigator’s report) that the iPod stopped working due to the rapid attempt at interacting with some concrete in the filling station.

Boo!

Anyway, this means that I have to dig out an old iPod Classic that is lurking at the back of the electric cupboard (it’s like a normal cupboard, but made of actual electric) and use that instead.

Mind you, they are all ‘old’ iPod Classics now that Apple have stopped making the best device they ever made, in favour of a bunch of much less-good devices.

But I am unbelievably grateful for the Bluetoothiness (and therefore cable-free) listening experience that the Bose noise-cancelling in-ear Bluetooth earbud listening thingys have brought into my life.

And equally unbelievably grateful to Sam for providing them.

I luffs her.

I’m back

So.

I’ve had a bit of an unintended rest from this blogging lark and although I missed it I also missed it.

Yes, you right that read.

See what I did there?

But anyway.

Having decided that there was a me-shaped hole (whole?) in t’internet, I have likewise decided to fix it.

And now I’m back.

From outer space.
I just walked in to find you here with that sad look upon your face
I should have changed that stupid lock, I should have made you leave your key
If I’d known for just one second you’d be back to bother me
Go on now, go, walk out the door. Just turn around now
‘Cause you’re not welcome anymore
Weren’t you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye? Do you think I’d crumble?
Did you think I’d lay down and die?
Oh no, not I, I will survive. Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive.

Erm.

Sorry about that.

It happens sometimes.

A word or sometimes a phrase can just trigger a lyric and off I go, into the mystical, musical world of futures past.

I don’t know how it happened.

It all took place so quick
But all I can do is hand it to you
And your latest trick
Now it’s past last call for alcohol
Past recall has been here and gone
The landlord finally paid us all
The satin jazzmen have put away their horns
And we’re standing outside of this wonderland
Looking so bereaved and so bereft
Like a Bowery bum when he finally understands
The bottle’s empty and there’s nothing left

Oh Em Gee!

 

Earworms

It’s bizarre, the musical interjections that my hindbrain throws out, unbidden.

This morning I woke up with Supertramp’s ‘Asylum’ pitched crystal clear in my head which is wow, what a way to wake up at 5.20am.

I have no idea why, obv.

I used to love Supertramp. Crime of the Century was (and still is in vinyl form – but stay away from the digitally remastered copies that are downloadable via iTunes etc) a classic album.

I’m just going to have to go off and see what the member of Supertramp are up to these days.

Hearing voices

‘Choir! Choir! Choir!’ is a singing collective that was started by Daveed Goldman and Nobu Adilman.

Based in Toronto, Canada, These two guys started a singing group just so they (and their friends) could get together now and then and… well… sing.

Largely unstructured (they don’t use terms such as Sopranos, Altos, Tenors, Basses), C! C! C! (to shorten a bit of typing) have a minimalist approach to organised singing.

Yet, with seemingly very little effort, C! C! C! produce amazing sounds.

And anyone can just rock up on the night and, after hardly any rehearsal at all, just join the choir.

Whether experienced singerist or not.

Just. Join. In.

It sounds unique.

And it is.

It sounds doomed to failure.

It really isn’t.

Here’s C! C! C! being fronted by Talking Heads’ David Byrne.

They did this performance after an hour of rehearsal (and David came to it cold).

If Choir! Choir! Choir! ever come to the UK, I’d like to go along.

To join in.