Monday, July 30, 2007

....And just one more thing while we're on the subject....

If anyone else out there need to know: the "theme" to The Lock-in (show I did on Xfm ages ago) was "Dawning" from this album. Actually, the second link I'd do on the X-list was normally over a bed composed of a loop of "Crossfire" from the same album.......

And this one's for Mike.....

who was musing (see comments in previous post) over the identity of the music i'd play at the start of the X-list. It's a sneaky little loop from the start of this tune: "Making Music" by Chungking.

It just makes me so very very sad.....

To see just how far Xfm has fallen.
Take a look at the page on their site for the "DJ Homepages". Twelve little thumbnail photos. Where, only a few months ago, there were so very many more. And of those 12, five of them relate to DJ's who only do single shows. Just one show a week. A further two are links to DJ's (Ricky, Adam & Joe) who haven't worked at Xfm for AGES, and are unlikely ever to work there again.
All that's left are the 4 DJ's whose job it is to shoulder the majority of the schedule. I'm not bitter about leaving Xfm, nor am I looking for revenge, but I'd love it if those fools who destroyed a once-great station were to be summarily removed from GCap headquarters, and were prevented from ever wreaking this sort of havoc at any other radio station, ever again.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I'm a little bit overwhelmed by this......

It's Footage of Penetration, at the Reading festival in 1978, playing "Life's A Gamble".
First up, it's 1978. My favourite year for music ever. Now I know most purists will sniff that '78 was too late for punk, too early for post-punk, that it was the refuge of bandwagon-jumpers, scene-stealers and pouting poseurs, but it was the year that I really began to do nothing else but buy records, read SOUNDS (R.I.P) and obsess about music. To me, '78 is as much about the Dickies and Devo as it is about all the other more worthy stuff that was around at the time. My ears were full of Magazine, of Ultravox!, Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, Cabaret Voltaire......
It's the year I started living, started feeling, started really hearing.
Next, it's Reading. This was the year Ultravox! and Penetration played, alongside such other luminaries as John Otway, Radio Stars and Sham 69. All of that and Spirit played as well! Bloody hell, what I'd have given to be in the crowd. However, I was a little too green for gigs at that time, and my cosy teenage haven of the Wiltshire countryside seemed a million miles away from a muddy field on the outskirts of Reading. It would be another 8 years before I made my first pilgrimage to the site (Bonnie Tyler being bottled off, Hawkwind, The Mission and lots of fumbling in a soggy tent with my girlfriend of the time)
Of course, a few years after that, I was lucky enough to actually play the Main Stage (believe me, if you think the crowd looks big when you're in it, try looking at it from the stage: I nearly soiled myself) and most years since then, I've spent an agreeable couple of days slowly sliding off a plastic chair in the backstage arena.
But then, above all, it's Penetration. One of the best bands around at that time (and they're still playing now!) playing one of the best punk singles of ALL TIME. "Life's A Gamble" is an extraordinary single: it's short (a couple of minutes) yet manages to cram that time full of giddy enthusiasm and hope. It's a record with a HUGE grin on it's face: a beaming, wide-eyed blast of sunshine. It's real golden moment comes straight after the first verse, where Pauline Murray bawls out "Decision, a clearer vision, you can see it....TOO!" and then there's the chorus. Except, there isn't. In the space where that first chorus should be, is that most un-punk of things: a guitar solo. It's rocky, chiming, and melodic; tripping over its own shoelaces as it bursts out of the middle of the song. Every time the first little notes of the solo burble up, my heart literally misses a beat. After all these years, it still makes me smile.
To get the full force of "Life's a Gamble" you need a copy of the album "Moving Targets", which is utterly indispensable. But for now, enjoy this, whilst I dream about 1978..........

Monday, July 23, 2007

More linkage:

Comes in the shape of the wonderful Raiding The Vinyl Archive. There's Vicious Pink on there at the moment (Attn: Nick! DOWNLOAD THESE NOW!) and also New Musik.....
I must really come out and state that one of my favourite musical eras is the 80's, all those 12" remixes, the wonderful period of time before "proper" dance music took over, when producers were first experimenting with studios and recording techniques...there was a lot of innovation going on, with people like Martin Rushent working on the Human League 12"s (not to mention his work with Altered Images, Intaferon, Pete Shelley and The Members) and the Latin Rascals dropping all these super-fast "Razor" cuts (some of which can be heard on the "Notorious" Duran Duran remix, as well as remixes from Warren Zevon, Spear Of Destiny.....)
I absolutely LOVED the 80's because all these records were released at a time when record companies were DESPERATE for hits: this desperation manifested itself in cheap vinyl (12" for the price of a 7"!, the sleeves would scream..) and normally, piles of even cheaper 12"s in the cut-out bins........
I've been scouring the boot sales recently, they're a really great place to stock up on forgotten 80's vinyl: acquisitions of late: Lots of Mari Wilson, the Topper Headon solo singles, First Priority, Vicious Pink, I-Level, The Swinging Laurels.......
One of these days I'll whack up some MP3's :)

I can't quite describe..........

How wonderful this forum post is.
Here's the backstory, some guy on a Poker forum claims to have played a game with legendary Producer (and Musician) Steve Albini.
He wonders whether Steve would stick his head above the parapet and post on the forum himself, to verify this.
Steve does. But he does much more. He offers to answer anyone's questions.
And there are lots, and lots, and lots of questions. This is by turns, crude, informative, funny, visionary stuff. It's really worth reading.
My favourite quote (at the moment) concerns downloads:
"Almost universally, bands and musicians are happy anyone is interested in their music enough to become a fan, and they know there are many opportunities to do some business with such a person that may or may not involve selling him a particular record.They also recognize that a download by someone unwilling to buy a record is not a "lost sale," because that person has made it clear that he is unwilling to buy a record. You haven't lost a sale, you've made a fan for free. Fans eventually want to buy records, concert tickets and other things"
Brilliant stuff.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

God, it's been busy.....

And for the first time, i'm actually posting with a legitimate excuse for a lack of updates, i.e. Shadowglobe has been really hectic in the last few days. To all the people who've joined, who've emailed or got in touch via facebook or myspace, cheers, you're all ACES.
There'll be more stuff up soon.......
For now, THIS is where my head's at: MC Taz and MC Beefy. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Feeling fragile, but happy.

Fragile? Because Andy and I were out on a bit of a large one last night, fulminating over our progress on Shadowglobe so far, musing on the voting process and generally putting the world to rights. However, today I feel absolutely shocking, it has to be said.

Happy? Because I got myself a copy of the reissue of "Jerky Versions Of The Dream" by Howard Devoto. It's been one of my favourite albums since its release in 1983, I spent most of my first time at University wandering around Lancaster town centre, listening to it on my Walkman. It's mix of woozy melodies and incisive lyrics still sound great today, despite the production being draped in a none-more-80's sheen of synth washes and Linn drums. It was only briefly available on CD in the early 90's, then rapidly deleted (copies fetched anything up to £150 on eBay) and it's re-release has been dogged by problems: it was due to be released at the same time as the batch of Magazine Cd's that emerged earlier this year, but legal wrangling meant it took another few months before it arrived on the shelves. Hurrah! I'm listening to it now as I type this, and it's the salve that my drunken soul needs.
And......the video for "Rainy Season", the albums lead-off single (and one of the greatest pop songs of all time) is on youtube! It's worth noting that the video keeps getting pulled, so watch it while can :

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Attn. Vegetarians!

Red Bull has got MEAT in it. Or at least, "Meat Sugar" whatever the hell that is........
We're starting to get some really good stuff on Shadowglobe now, there's this: Rendle, who's got a song called "Sometimes" which is so insanely catchy I was convinced it had to be a major-label scam, but no, it appears to be the real deal. Whatever, it's a tune, and that's all that really counts. Then there's The Auto Dropouts, which rules as well, perfectly constructed sweeping pop brilliance. I'm loving the uncertainty of the whole thing, not really knowing what the next day will bring; what sorts of bands will join us and share their tunes-at the very least it's a truly interesting voyage, but at it's best? It leaves a giant grin on my face, and that's just fine by me. After the pain of the last few months at Xfm, where they were selling the brand down the river and neglecting the station's duty to find the great new music that's out there; it's a sweet feeling indeed.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Ah, what a great weekend........

Had a wonderful time at the Sutton With Shopland Festival (more about that when I can post up the photos) and spent a sunny Sunday morning travelling back to London with the following song in my ears: "Nature's Way" By Spirit, from the album "The Seven Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus"

One of the more interesting areas of development on Youtube in recent months has been its use as a place to "host" music by proxy. Whereas in the past it was more likely you'd find an old music video or live performance by the band you were searching for, now the content frequently manifests itself in videos which may be no more complicated than 3 minutes of a turntable playing a record: the payoff, of course, is that it's the record you want to hear.
It happens with rare dance vinyl, old-school hardcore, ska and rocksteady (lots of great footage of old scratchy Doctor Bird 7"s) and more besides.
Initially, it would seem to defeat the object of a video-sharing network, if the videos aren't really worth watching, but that would be missing the point. People are now using Youtube to get content across: it doesn't really have to fit the actual medium.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

It's been a hectic couple of days!

But it's been really satisfying. I've created and updated the look of the Shadowglobe forum, and worked on all the other "satellite" areas of our Internet footprint. There's a Facebook group and a Twitter page, please feel free to add us!
Also today is tinged with sadness: RIP George Melly. I have fond memories of seeing him here in Soho, just standing on the pavement, outside a selection of classic Soho watering-holes, chatting to passing tourists and fans, all the time waving to all the cabbies who would pass by, leaning out of their windows to bellow "AWRIGHT GEORGE?"
He looked like he loved being here, but more than that, he looked like he belonged here, like he was a part of the city. London will be a little bit quieter without him (and sales of garish suits will fall as well, which is a great pity)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Here's something cool I found online....

It's the set-list for the REM gig me and my best mate Nick saw in Manchester, back in 1985. It was the second gig they'd played following the release of "Fables....", the first gig was a rather underwhelming affair (by all accounts) supporting U2. So by the time they reached Manchester, they were like a coiled spring; they absolutely ripped the venue apart.In 2007, REM are one of the biggest bands in the world (last time I saw them, they were playing to a packed Hyde Park), but back in 1985, virtually no-one ,except the faithful few, knew who they were: the venue, one of Manchester's seediest clubs, held about 200 people. Nick and me managed to squeeze down the front (in our Paisley shirts, natch.) and watched, spellbound for the next two hours. We were close enough to reach out and touch Peter Buck's 12-string Rickenbacker, and at the end, when Michael Stipe was trying to get the crowd to move back, it was me and Nick who were manhandled out of the way by the road crew.
Here's the set:

24 June 1985 - International Ballroom, Manchester, England
set: Boy (Go) [Stipe a capella] / Feeling Gravitys Pull / Hyena / Harborcoat / Green Grow The Rushes / So. Central Rain / Have You Even Seen The Rain? / Driver 8 / Good Advices / Talk About The Passion / Can't Get There From Here / Cushy Tush / Maps And Legends / Seven Chinese Brothers / Auctioneer (Another Engine) / Old Man Kensey / Pretty Persuasion / Life And How To Live It / Home On The Range-Little America
encore 1: Femme Fatale / (Don't Go Back To) Rockville / Broken Whisky Glass / Second Guessing - Respect
encore 2: Theme From Two Steps Onward / 9-9 / Windout
notes: At the start of the show Stipe sings lyrics from '(Boy) Go'. As an intro to Little America Stipe sings 'Home on The Range' a capella with help from the crowd. Cushy Tush is played while Stipe asks the crowd to step back ('Simon says two steps back').
A slightly different setlist appears in the book "It Crawled From The South" - this setlist was taken from the tape of the show so they changed the encores slightly from the written setlist
(taken from here)

It mentions a tape of the show: does anyone have one? Or know where I can find one? After all these years, I'd LOVE to hear the gig again.........

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Well, that was an interesting day........

And today has been cut from similar cloth, to be honest......issues with the stream, problems here, excitment there; "rollercoaster ride" is an oft-overused turn of phrase, but it's certainly applicable right now.

What we need is a little light relief. In the shape of this:

Monday, July 02, 2007

OK then.......

You've waited long enough. It was going to happen last week, but we had some issues with consolidation of the Javascript yadda yadda yadda.........
But I think it's time to let you know what I've been doing.
I've been working on this.
Ladies and Gentlemen, say hello to Shadowglobe.
Go easy on it for now, it's still in a Beta state, there will be bugs to find, problems to iron out....there will also be a whole raft of new features to be added when we move to phase two of the launch. But for now, sit back, have a listen, tell me what you think, I'd love to get any feedback you might have........
Over to you then!

The next post on this blog.....

Will contain the URL for "The Project"

Sunday, July 01, 2007

I've spent most of my life in record shops....

So news like the passing of the Fopp chain makes me incredibly depressed. What seems to have finished them off was the bullish acquisition of the Music Zone shops they bought back in February. Expansion was a catalyst, not for change, but for the fall of the entire company. All of this is taking place against the planned expansion of Rough Trade into its huge new flagship store in Brick Lane; I'm keeping everything crossed that similar problems don't befall the greatest record shop in London (IMHO).
For those of you who don't know, I worked for Rough Trade back in the late 80's, heading up their mail order department, until the rapid resurgence of skating, and the ensuing rapid rise of Slam City Skates, meant I ended up selling decks and trucks instead of vinyl and CD's. Previous to my tenure of employment in Talbot Road, I'd worked for Our Price in various locations across North London (deep breath: FOUR stores in Watford, also Harrow, Wembley, St. Albans....) but frankly, it was brain-numbing stuff. however, as a fully paid-up vinyl junkie, I still spent most of my time off trawling other record shops for the things i couldn't find in Our Price's over-commercially stacked racks. My area of choice was always Notting Hill and Portobello Road. It was the first place I'd ever seen in London when I visited the city for the first time as an awe-struck 13-year old kid: and the love affair had continued and blossomed. in 1978, there was only one Record And Tape Exchange (on Pembridge Road) now there were several, and Rough Trade had moved from the slightly dingy shop I remember buying the first Cabaret Voltaire EP from (at 202 Kensington Park Road) to new premises just round the corner, even closer to the Portobello Road.
So, I knew they were looking for staff back then in 1986, but I never really thought that I could do the job. One Saturday, I was in Rough Trade and Nigel House (who still helps run the shop) said to me "Hey, Iain, are you still at Our Price?" I sighed, deeply. "Afraid so" .He smiled at me: "Why don't you come and work for us?" He gave me a copy of the form that applicants had to fill in. And in that moment, I realised that all the stupid stuff I'd been building up in my head, all the music that'd been filling my ears, the trivia I used to bore others to tears was actually useful!
Some of the questions were (IIRC)
Will Imran Khan be missed? (they were mad on cricket in the shop, you had to be able to talk about it or you were no use to them)
Who was C.S. Dodd? (this was West London, the reggae roots ran very deep)
We don't stock any records by the Stranglers, can you tell us why?
Can you still get LBong12? Or ANY LBONG for that matter?
What's your favourite TV Personalities record?
Who (or what) was "friendly as a hand grenade"

And on........and on........and on.
I rattled out the answers, passed with flying colours, and i was in. I had the best time of my record shop assistant life in Rough Trade, but it was the feeling of belonging that I cherished, and that feeling came from realising that the knowledge I'd developed had a real and quantifiable value. My passion could be turned into a job, a wage, a career. Ever since then, I've sought out ways to turn what I know into what I can do. It's a really simple lesson, but it's been the one which has shaped my life more than any other choice I've ever made.
So, in the light of all the developments with Fopp, I wish Rough Trade the best of luck. They, more than anyone else, realise the value of passion, enthusiasm and knowledge, and I pray to God that passion never ends up sacrificed on the altar of ambition and expansion.

Ah....Sunday roast......

A nice rib-eye of Beef, nice fluffy Yorkshire puddings and roasted carrots and parsnips.
This has been making me think today: Facebook is the new AOL.