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.

Streaming

It was brought home to me, a couple of weeks ago, just how old I am.

Why’s that? (I hear you ask).

Well I’ll tell you.

I recently had a bit of a clear-out at home, and took about 15 DVDs and CDs of licensed OEM (original equipment manufacturer) software in to the office, for my colleagues to help themselves.

How many pieces of (free) software got snapped up by my bargain-seeking colleagues?

None, my friend. Absolutely zero.

Even our software-hungry development manager declined all offers.

His reason?

‘I don’t have hardware with a CD or DVD drive any more’.

Well, that made me think.

My music library has 7,528 tracks, and over 60% of those tracks came from CDs.

Now fair enough, these days when I buy mainstream music, I buy online from Amazon.

Usually the music I buy is downloaded materiel (with exceptions when, for specific reasons, I want a physical CD).

So buying music in digital format is not unusual for me.

But what am I going to do with gig music, when I’ve joined the CD-less drive generation?

What do I do when promising unsigned bands send me a CD they have lovingly crafted in their Nan’s front room, and I have no CD drive?

I suppose they could always Dropbox me the .mp3s, but that’s not really the point of a physical album, is it?

Anyway.

In sortov related news, I’m on the cusp of hooking up with a music streaming service.

The full range of choices I’m considering are:

  • Deezer
  • Google Play Music
  • Spotify
  • Amazon Music Unlimited
  • Pandora
  • Slacker
  • Groove Music and
  • Apple Music

There are pros and cons for all of these, but at this stage, nothing is ruled in, nothing is ruled out.

Early days.

The lunatics have taken over the asylum

These three photos were taken at 21.17 this evening.

The saying is that ‘It’s a dog’s life’.

I disagree.

It’s a cat’s life.

Raven

Raven

Dandy

Dandy

Ripley

Ripley

I have no idea where the fourth furry little fuc feline (Beano) is.

Asleep on a windowsill somewhere, probably.

I had been wondering what I could write about this evening, in my attempt to keep up with Young Masher on his annual pilgrimage through the February blogosphere.

I was wondering so hard that I accidentally fell asleep.

And then a cat climbed on me.

So yes, part-roused from my doze, I thought I’d give all four cats a place in this evening’s outing.

Except one of them has decided to leggit, obv.

So I’ll hold that blog post back for another night.

I had a good title for it and everything.

But this title is better, because it gives me an excuse to run out my favourite Fun Boy Three track.

It is too easy to accept the stripped-down simplicity of this song at face value, without appreciating the musical kaleidoscope that the backing harmonies present.

And then there are the lyrics.

Sad that a protest song written for a specific time of trouble should have the same message, and the same impact, in the early 1980s, as it does in 2018.

Slider

A million years ago, when killer reindeer stalked the face of the planet, almost driving the native Father Christmases to the brink of extinction, there used to be a record shop in Cardiff.

Buffalo Records, as I shall call the shop (for that was its name) took a significant amount of ill-gotten gains off me.

And in return I was given hours of character-forming, taste-titillating fun.

OK, I bought my first copy of Tubular Bells from Virgin Records (opposite Cardiff Castle), but from Buffalo Records I got my early addiction to Pink Floyd (Ummagumma, Atom Heart Mother, Meddle, and the disappointing Obscured By Clouds), my first vinyl taste of T. Rex (T. Rex, Slider), my first encounter with Mott The Hoople (All The Young Dudes, Mott), Lindisfarne (Nicely Out Of Tune), and Yes (Close To The Edge, Tales From The Topographic Oceans, Relayer).

I had built, in the comfort of my own bedroom, a record player of sorts.

The turntable was a cheap deck rescued from someone else’s unwanted items (possibly from one of my cousins, over in the next valley), but the stylus arm was an expensive and beautifully-balanced aftermarket addition that I bought from the HiFi shop in Abergavenny (Barnfields?). I had built the pre-amp from components liberated from decommissioned TVs, and the amp and a range of speakers came from several cast-off pieces of tech that I had begged, borrowed and possibly stolen from a friendly mechanic in Blaenavon who had a strong electronic interest.

I had a book, you see.

Teach Yourself Electronics.

So I did, sortov.

I can’t remember the detail of getting any of my new purchases home, but I can vividly recall the static cling as all new pieces of vinyl gradually slid out of the paper sleeve.

I would hold it up to the light and inspect it for visual fault, and finding none, place it on the turntable, and carefully place the stylus arm on the run-in to track one.

The slight ‘thud’ as the stylus landed.

The crackle and hiss as the needle sought the beginning of the track.

And while I’m sitting here, at 11pm on a Monday night, remembering – with a smile – what the occasional weekend (and sometimes a weekday, if I was bunking off school, which I did quite a lot and very often) would comprise, it is difficult to drag myself back to doing what I should be doing…

Trying to find a new content slider for a WordPress gallery, for This Reality Podcast website.

The Featured Content Gallery that I’ve used for so many years is now defunct, leaving a gap in the website landing page.

So I need a new one.

Yet every time I think of ‘slider’, my head takes me back to those ancient times when ‘The Slider’ meant…

T. Rex Slider

T. Rex: The Slider

T. Rex Slider

T. Rex: The Slider

Away

Last Saturday I drove to Scotland, spent an hour in a place, then drove back home.

Then late Wednesday I drove down to Hensol, which is west of Cardiff.

And on Friday afternoon I drove back from Hensol to Nottinghamshire.

Although a bit knackered, because I don’t sleep well away from home, both trips were interesting and, in their own way, educational.

More about the Scottish one in due course, if it all happens as planned.

But the Welsh one was an annual company conference.

The conference wound up with a light-hearted moment, a musical pub quiz.

When this was announced I thought I was quids in, obv.

Being a music geek and all.

How wrong I was.

How very wrong.

The focus of the quiz was a sortov mashup of 17 songs across an Ed Sheeran song.

When I heard the words Ed Sheeran my heart sank quicker than than a quickly sinking thing.

But we gave it a go, our little group.

The object of the exercise was to name the songs – and the artists – of all 17 songs that were performed by The Vamps across (mercifully) just a few bars of an Ed Sheeran song.

Give it a go, and let me know – out of a potential score of 34, one point for each artist and one point for each song – how many points you get.

But play the same game that we did.

Blank out the screen, because all songs and artists are listed on this video (they weren’t on the video we saw):

Blogathon 24/17: It’s the weekend!

There was a day this week when I woke up and was hit by an overwhelming feeling that it was a Ferris Bueller kind of bunking off sort of day.

But I didn’t.

Even though the feeling had an almost irresistible force, I stayed away from the dark side.

There was a time though…

Anyway, that’s not the point of this post.

Yesterday evening four of my colleagues and I had a scratch band practice after work.

Two acoustic guitars, two vocalists, and me, trailing along, hashing things about with my G&L plugged in to a small amp.

My own acoustic is out on loan.

In a mildly disorganised way we ran through some familiar numbers, and later on they worked through two songs I am unfamiliar with.

I got a round of applause for my lead vocals on Lindisfarne’s Meet Me On The Corner, but that was probably a sign for me to shut up.

For a couple of hours we had a good time, but it made me realise how out of practice I am.

We’ll see how many turn up next week (how many I’ve scared away).

 

 

Blogathon 18/17: Wise and foolish virgins

The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway

The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway

You know that ‘wise and foolish virgins’ parable?

Mathew 25, verses 1-13?

Well this post isn’t about that.

Although, here’s a bit of wisdom to be going on with.

Do you have any premium bonds?

I have a fistful of them.

Some were bought for me as a Christening present, and I’ve added to them when I felt wealthy.

And yet I’ve never won a bean on any of then.

Have you on yours?

I saw a statistic a couple of weeks ago, that broke down the earning potential of premium bonds in to an easily understandable fact.

The overwhelming odds are that if you bought £50,000 of premium bonds at the completion of the Stonehenge circle, by now you would have won a £10,000 jackpot.

Once.

Makes you think, huh?

Right.

Back to those wise and foolish virgins.

1974 was a year in which the musical tectonic plates of the planet shifted, broke up, drew apart and, amidst the cataclysmic breakup, brought a new and wonderous thing.

The breakup was of possibly the finest prog rock band ever to come out of the UK.

And the new and wonderous thing was the last studio album which that band gave us, on the eve of their breakup.

Genesis: The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.

Which contains the following phrase that my mind keeps wandering back to, at odd periods of time, in a track called Carpet Crawlers:

Mild mannered supermen are held in kryptonite
And the wise and foolish virgins giggle with their bodies glowing bright

(If you would like to read another person break that album down in to a summary format, you could try this link)

And straight away people will say that Genesis didn’t break up in 1974, and that the band went on to continue receiving critical and sales success with other albums and stadium performances for many years.

And those people will be wrong.

Genesis died the day that Peter Gabriel left.

They went on to become an AOR band, then a pop band, and then a dad band.

I’m not sneering.

There’s nothing wrong with any of those things, and nothing wrong with Genesis being any/all of them.

It’s just that while Genesis changed course, and became those things, they stopped being the prog rock band that Genesis used to be.

I often wonder where Genesis would have gone if the band had kept the faith with their original drummer, the very amiable Chris Stewart, and not allowed Jonathan King to bring in Phil Collins.

Anyway, back to those wise and foolish virgins.

Sortov.

Later this year Sam and I will be going to see Elbow.

They acknowledge that the early Genesis played a significant part in influencing the way Elbow developed their art.

So like a wise (not foolish) virgin, I am being calm about the long-awaited visit to Elbowland.

And keeping my lamp trimmed.

Managing my own expectations.

But still looking forward to the gig.

Meanwhile, here’s some Elbow:

Dazzled by the night

No, not blinded by the light. Dazzled by the night!

 

Hot on the heels of my discovery of ‘Lucy‘ this weekend, I have just deployed Shazam to find out what the end credit song is.

Dazzled by the Night.

Or, in its native language, Eblouies par la Nuit (but you knew that, of course, non?).

Anyway, I’ve just contributed 99p to the singer Zaz (or, more accurately, to her record label), in gratitude for giving me something rather lovely to listen to.

The song needs proper audio equipment, laptop speakers just don’t do it credit.

But the cattens and I love it.