Week from Monday 6th October 2003

That'll teach me not to fiddle about... On Friday, I was trying out a demo version of some fax software. When I came in this morning, I found that I had DUMBFOUNDED my modem and had to reinstall everything in order to establish a dialup connection! Ho hum! Still, as you can see, it's working now!

Another weekend, another dose of WOMAD! BBC4 showed the "other" SUPER RAIL BAND set from Sunday afternoon (Radio 3 had previously broadcast the Saturday lunchtime set), while there were three further OUMOU SANGARE tunes that were not broadcast on the radio... which was nice! Mooching around the MVC emporium, I came across the new ROUGH GUIDE TO THE MUSIC OF CHINA, which I had been awaiting ever since Charlie Gillett played a couple of tracks from it a few weeks back... And just as I was leaving the store, I spotted the RYUKYU UNDERGROUND seedy at a ludicrous 1.99 (Okinawa tunes mixed up with trancey ravey dubby fusion stuff... not ALL of it is great, some of the beats are a bit hackneyed - but at THAT price?!!?)

All artwork/print jobs have suddenly and worryingly dried up. The landlord has "moved the goalposts" a bit and decided that he DOESN'T need someone to do odd jobs in his furniture shop, he needs a driver instead. There MIGHT be something else from the temp agency in the pipeline though.

Still no word from MERVYN PURVISS about his website details, but I've added the relevant boxes to the HAHT GASSUP homepage in readiness.

Week from Monday 13th October 2003

WOMAD highlights broadcast this weekend (which, unless I'm very much mistaken, will complete 2003's WOMAD "boxed set"), included BEMBEYA JAZZ - I've just realised that the lead singer bears a striking resemblance to popular 'sixties entertainer and golfing chum of Brucey and Tarby, KENNY LYNCH - and OJOS DE BRUJO ("I'm so sorry, they're from Barcelona!"). The lady singer with the OJOS has the voice of an angel but the biceps of a docker - all tattoos and hairy armpits! I spotted a distant blur in one of the crowd scenes that might possibly have been Shelfy, but I think I was obscured by a piece of stage equipment...

I did a Saturday morning walk to Cams Hill (against the stopwatch, to see how long it takes). I ran up some more points on my MVC card, purchasing Steve Hackett's 1990 set from Central TV's "Bedrock" show on DVD (issued as "Horizons", with a bloody awful Rodney Matthews sub-Roger Dean fantasy sleeve) and, from the bargain bins, the Real World release from Somalia's MARYAM MURSAL. Dr Kershaw, on Sunday, had a session from Brazilian ex-pat MONICA VASCONCELOS and her pan-global jazzy chums, NOIS.

Steve the printer showed me a couple of new "special effects" tricks in Corel Draw, which I am now eager to use on a job... Did I say that work had suddenly dried up? This certainly wasn't the case on Monday and Tuesday! I might just about have earned enough money for my forthcoming trip to Dzat Loondin. I'm still paying a visit to the temp agency on Friday afternoon, though.

This week on Eastenders (Oh! Puhleeze!!), the "Noisy Neighbour Upstairs" terrorised Shirley by playing "Red" by KING CRIMSON at an unfeasibly loud volume. I'm not sure which version it was...  Was this REALLY a year ago?

ROBERT PLANT & THE STRANGE SENSATION - PORTSMOUTH GUILDHALL - OCTOBER 2002

"Dazed & Confused" of Washington DC writes: "Please would you do a piece about the Robert Plant gig at Portsmouth Guildhall cos I think he's fab and I've got all his records..."

Well, Dazed, here goes... I made it to Portsmouth, despite the elements and Beeching's Finest conspiring to prevent it ("Wrong kind of wind", "That leaf on the line looked at me in a funny way" etc). I arrived at the Guildhall, many minutes into the support band's set... I know that voice... why! it's ARTHUR BROWN, still leather-ed of lung and bonkers of nut, with a brace of fine young upstarts on various acoustic stringy things. Of course they did "Fire", of course they did "I Put A Spell On You", plus a wonderful fiddle-led version of the Portsmouth psychedelic national anthem "Kites"... guaranteed to divide this audience! I'd forgotten just what a bunch of philistine trolls you encounter when attending "rock" concerts... A beautiful Najma Akhtar piece on the interval tape was the subject of much mirth and derision - after all, it's not in English, is it?

ROBERT PLANT & The Strange Sensation Band hit the stage, led by Justin Adams' saz a-plunking, and launch straight into a version of HEY JOE, that the respective mothers of Tim Rose and Jimi Hendrix wouldn't recognise. A radical reworking of FOUR STICKS immediately followed (Clive Deamer only used two sticks, though).

DOWN TO THE SEA was (I thought) a fairly lacklustre solo album track, but it sounded tremendous as performed by this band, with lots of "arabesque" flurries. Uncle Percy was in fine voice (as, of course, he was throughout).

MORNING DEW was dedicated to the Grateful Dead ("who were very big in this part of the world - but never came here.") E-Bow The (Dead) Letter? The Fender Rhodes solo had more than a touch of The Doors about it.

Next we're GOING TO CALIFORNIA (maybe via Corfu?), then an arrangement of Bobby Zimmerman's GIRL OF THE NORTH COUNTRY - with its barroom piano and mandolin interplay, this was very "woody" music, seemingly from "Big Pink" itself. There was plenty of opportunity too for Charlie Jones, with his new Beckham haircut, to shine on the double bass.

RAMBLE ON featured some spectacular lighting effects that are still seared into my retinas as I write. I didn't recognise the next song, but it featured some big fat orchestral chords and a chorus that went "OOM BIP DE BIP", if that'll ring any bells.(It was Love's "Seven And Seven Is" ...Ed.)

FEEL LIKE I'M FIXIN' TO DIE was "the oldest song we do... about 1939!" with lots of that quasi-accordion to the fore, Justin giving it loads on darabuka and the man they call Skin (now permanently depping for Porl Thompson?) going bananas on his big fat rockabilly semi throughout. I couldn't put a title to the next song either (IF YOU CALL MY NAME?) which is a shame, because it was the highpoint of the set, featuring a splendid freak-out jammy bit and Justin performing his patented electric "taqsim" routines, on the traditional Moroccan Les Paul Gold-Top, over an awesome synthesised dronetone.

TALL COOL ONE was the token rock'n'roll number, which appeased the genetic throwbacks in the audience and which allowed the twin guitars of Adams and Skin to get a good workout, before a very moody version of BABE I'M GONNA LEAVE YOU (or "Nena" as it is known in Bogota) - lots of those Plant-squawks of yore on this one! - bringing us to the "Band-Leaves-Stage, Audience-Bays-For-More" bit of the show.

For an "encore" they did a faithful rendition of DARKNESS DARKNESS - again, some very Doors-y keyboarding by Bristol's own John Baggott - then a Sahara blues interpretation of WHOLE LOTTA LOVE, which proved that all those months hanging out with the Tuaregs has paid off for our Justin! Another "Band-Leaves-Stage, Audience-Bays-For-More" routine, but at this point (I presume it was the end?) I had to slip away to wait around on railway stations. If "anyone else who knows me" also attended the gig, I'm sorry I missed you... Those of you in the States will get your chance soon-ish, if the promised (threatened?) Led Zeppelin Re-Union US Tour doesn't happen instead...

(Next stop for these boys: "The Festival Of The Desert" ...Ed.)

Week from Monday 20th October 2003

Fie! Stricken am I with ailment of body and melancholia of spirit (and I think I must be turning MEDIEVAL!)... I was much moved by the documentary about WARREN ZEVON's last days. I'm afraid I was only familiar with Zevon doing other people's songs - his version of "Casey Jones" on the Grateful Dead tribute album, and the HINDU LOVE GODS thing he did with the R.E.M. chaps (an album I turn to on the rare occasions I'm in a mood for some loutish rock'n'roll - their version of "Junco Pardner" out-clashes The Clash). BBC Four also showed a fascinating documentary about the RADIOPHONIC WORKSHOP over the weekend.

Ah! My favourite job just came in - drawing strange medical apparatus for the "Strange Medical Apparatus" catalogue. Every penny helps, what with a trip to Dzat Loondin coming up next Tuesday. I'm also owed some biggish bucks for last week's jobs. Meanwhile, I found time to update my curriculum vitae and e-send it to the temp agency - Blimey, this is starting to get too serious! SOD'S LAW always dictates, however, that when I consider taking a serious look elsewhere for alternative sources of work, then things start to get busy again... The weather starts to look more AUTUMNAL (in fact it's autumning cats and dogs by Wednesday) and the BRENT GEESE have started to arrive...

Week from Monday 27th October 2003

This month's Songlines magazine comes with a free seedy featuring the best that the Brazilian TRAMA label has to offer. Needless to say, it very rarely leaves the "Juke-Gramophone Apparatus Of Choice", it is TUDO DELICIOSO, as you (probably don't) say in Portuguese! On the other hand, the pointless promo seedy for the new OI VA VOI album went STERRAIGHT in the bin...

I purchased the anticipated new album from Matthew Bourne's THE ELECTRIC DOCTOR M, a wondrous modern take on the SPOOKY ELECTRIC SPACE VOODOO JAZZ of yore. Imagine, if you will, the members of a certain Chicago "Post-Rock" combo discovering all the Soft Machine's old instruments buried in a cave somewhere, then proceding to use them to recreate the sound of "Bitches' Brew", but leaving out all the horn parts and replacing them with funny samples from a Powerbook... Well!? Go on then! Imagine it! Nice, isn't it?! Jazz On 3, meanwhile, had a live session from Jim Black's ALAS NO AXIS, a band with more than a touch of Crimson about them...

So I went up to DZAT LOONDIN for the day on Tuesday. I was to delight in a goodly helping of YE OLDE ENGLISHE PROGGE ROCKE during the evening, courtesy of the man STEVE HACKETT and his increasingly jazzy band of young tikes, but first, as is my wont, I did a mega mooch around the West End's various emporia (as well as a stroll through an autumnal and nearly deserted Regents Park, to give the digital camera a workout with some "mood shots"). Did I mention before that I might have a "COLLECTING FRENZY" a-brewing for LOVE WITH ARTHUR LEE? Well, lo and behold if I didn't find nearly the complete works on Elektra for under a fiver each! I also got to cross MICHAEL GILES' "Progress" album off my "wants" list, as well a couple of other impulse purchases of more BORING OLD HIPPY SHIT... The HACKETT RACKET was, of course, simply tremenjous, by the way. And the last train home (print it big and bold) RAN ON TIME!

Wednesday would have been a nice day for a lie in (I awoke with a stormy head and it's bucketting down outside!), but I have several rush jobs to attend to... Someone ordered Christmas cards, how depressing!

SEVENTIES-TYPE PROG-TYPE gigs are like buses in this locale - nothing for years and then they all come along simultaneously! At the very same time as Orchestre Hackett were wowing us at the QEH, Camel packed out the Astoria, while the 21st Century Schizoid Band are doing the Mean Fiddler on Friday... What's a poor boy to do!? And don't get me started on certain bands that tour Europe and don't even BOTHER to play in the UK...

The Beeb's "Music By The River" WOMAD film was, by and large, a very successful attempt at conveying the atmosphere of one weekend in July 2003, to anyone who wasn't there - the producers must have watched "Jazz On A Summer's Day", the famous film about the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival and decided, "THAT'S the kind of film we want to make about WOMAD!". It certainly made a change from the BBC's usual, presenter-based approach to festival reportage. Anyone who WAS there, however, will recognise that the director has taken MAJOR liberties with the chronology of the weekend, so that his "story" might make sense (and, presumably, to fill in the gaps where certain artists had not given permission for videotaping to take place!). Still, a fine souvenir, nevertheless!

There was a goodly selection of backpackers' favourite MANU CHAO on the Third Programme, but as is usual with "World Routes", there was far too much waffle and not enough uninterrupted music.

I won 10 on the Thunderball lottery again this Saturday... A warning to anybody reading this in the US of A - you're about to be invaded by Daily Mail readers! This particular tabloid is inviting its readers to collect tokens for "free" flights to your fair country, so take cover!

I received feedback from the Human Nail (that's an appropriate choice of phrase!), regarding the Zimpoon Web Presence. The text on his Barcelona Report page is, apparently, difficult to read, due to the choice of font and colour (Well, if you WILL insist on a red and yellow candystriped background, evoking the colours of the Spanish flag!?)... I have now, I hope, rectified this, in between producing visuals for an advert "for all your boating needs".

6Music had a cracking set (from Glasto'98) by the very wonderful DR JOHN THE NIGHT TRIPPER. The recording hadn't exactly been spiffed up for radio broadcast, mind you - feedback fed back throughout and many an instrument or vocal was heard to drop out of the mix altogether. Even the stage announcements, before and after the set, remained intact (including one to the effect that the Lesley cabinet attached to Jools Holland's Hammond had just destroyed a large part of the national grid!) ...I believe it's called ATMOSPHERE...

I got an e-mail from MERVYN PURVISS (after all this time) with news of his current doings, including a "solo" project which involves him collaborating with "people he knows who have never thought of recording before, pub landlords and the like". The SKUNK FUNK website, that was discussed all those years ago, is now getting underway (with promises of MP3s an' such!). I will provide a link to it on these pages - just as soon as he tells me where it is! (Interesting to note that, if you search for "MERVYN PURVISS" on the internet, you find an entry on a message board about the EDGAR BROUGHTON BAND - no surprises there then - plus several high scores on an online pinball game... Search for "SKUNK FUNK" and you might find yourself on a website for an Austrian oompah band...)