Week from Monday 2nd February 2004

I'm currently reading Dennis 'Scrib' McNally's biography of the GRATEFUL DEAD, "A Long Strange Trip". This should be a worthwhile read, not just for DEADHEADS, but for anyone interested in the post-war, American/bohemian "WAY-UR LIFE". McNally's previous book was about Jack Kerouac and THE BEAT GENERATION, also highly recommended. I promised MARK THE EX-PRINTER an early-Grateful Dead compilation, as he is our resident consultant on all things LATE SIXTIES, PSYCHEDELIC & GARAGE-Y, but is relatively unfamiliar with The Dead...

I've won a FIVER on the Lotto Thunderball this week. I haven't had much time to do this diary this week, it's been BUSY BUSY BUSY with 'proper'work! As predicted, I got an e-mail from Binky because he can't get to grips with uploading stuff to his website, and Shelfy wants to collaborate on compiling seedydisks of some of the more esoteric (and thus more interesting) stuff from the Gridling tape archive. When I have time, I must replace a flat battery on my motherboard. I can't switch off the peecee for any length of time without the BIOS Guardian turning itself off, the clock resetting itself to January 1st 2000 and who knows what else? It'll all have to wait. Life goes on in Little St Burbia...

A much treasured item in my collection of 'Radio One In Concert' recordings is the TODD RUNDGREN & UTOPIA 1977 set, from the so-called 'Spring' Tour (January? February?? Spring?!?), the one with the pyramid, the sphynx and the ankh-shaped guitars (of which, presumably, The Whole Universe Is A Giant Example...). Ever since its first broadcast, I had been labouring under the delusion that it was recorded at the New Victoria Theatre, London, on the 1st February. Last night, thanks to a goodly portion of this concert being re-broadcast on FABULOUS RADIO 6MUSIC, I discover that is was, in fact, recorded a week earlier at Oxford Polytechnic. This may sound like a trivial point to you, but to us ANALLY-RETENTIVE MUSICAL TRAINSPOTTERS, this makes for a major shift in perception...

Week from Monday 9th February 2004

...I mean, say you had been exhibiting a certain bicycle component for the last twenty years, convinced that it was manufactured by Messrs Stafford & Billings in 1943 and you suddenly discovered it was, in fact, made in 1964 by Samuel Hinkley & Sons (Barnstaple) Ltd., then YOUR world would be turned upside down too...

I went to a CAR BOOT SALE yesterday for the first time in... oooh, it must be donkeys! I found seedydisks by KANDA BONGO MAN (jolly!) and CSNY (patchy!) for a mere 20p each, and a pulp travel book by someone who crossed America FROM COAST TO COAST ON A HARLEY for 50p (that's the cost of the book, not the cost of the journey). It was a nice crisp frosty morning for a WALKIES, that's the main thing.

This morning, I've e-mailed a client to reassure her about some VIRUS HOAX chain-mail that's going round. I have to then get the first of her stuff to the printer, then search the net for the Royal Engineers crest (for work) and the name of some Indian cricketer (for the Sunday crossword).

Yet another favourite "In Concert" recording reared its immaculately coiffeured and peroxided head on "THE DREAM TICKET" on Monday night, in the shape of the 1981 JAPAN set from the Hammy-O... Nice to finally hear that in (something approaching) hi-fidelity; When it was aired originally, Radio 1 was only available on MEDIUM WAVE at this end of the country, so you can probably imagine what THAT sounded like! Incidentally, 6Music are having a bit of a "New Romantic" theme this week, in the run up to St Valentine's, so Blitz DJ and honorary Burundi warrior RUSTY EGAN gets to choose stuff from the archives.

Week from Monday 16th February 2004

This week, I 'a'bin' moostly lissnin' to DAVID SYLVIAN and JAPAN (another CRAZE - blame that Rusty Egan!). Having finally replaced my manky old cassette of the "BBC In Concert" concert with a brand new digital copy, I went to Southampton, in search of CDs to replace my equally manky pre-recorded MCs of the foppish ones' "Quiet Life" and "Gentlemen Take Polaroids" albums. At the same time, I purchased Sylvian's latest gramophone waxing "Blemish", the one featuring contributions from septuagenarian six-string bothering deviant DEREK BAILEY. On first hearing, I found it a bit same-y, but give it time... I also came across another Virgin/Frontline PRINCE FAR-I compilation to go with the one I bought in Reading a couple of years ago. This one has fewer (if any) dub versions, but a lot more of the man's biblical groanings, not to mention several half-remembered old favourites... All together now - "HOOOO ARE DE KING O' DE JUNGLE? HOOOO ARE DE KING O' DE JUNGLE?"

"DE ROORD IS SOO FARGEH FARGEH, DE ROORD IS SOO EYE-SEH EYE-SEH...", no really, it is!

I've been playing around with a coverdisk programme which generates fancy menus for websites in Java script or Flash wotsit. However, it made MY peecee unstable, so I WON'T be inflicting any NOT-UNIVERSALLY-COMPATIBLE menus on the worldwide web through THIS website. I built a much simpler menu using the same programme, using fewer fancy animation effects and I will be uploading it for a "FIELD TRIAL" to see how it goes. If anyone complains, then I will revert to the old model. Meanwhile, Shelfy is still enthusing about his puzzling "BOXED SET OF AURAL ART" project. I will have to teach him how to record and edit audio on his peecee, so that he can be a SPONTANIAC at his leisure. I've got a steady flow of "PROPER" work at the moment, so I can't do it for him... Anyway, he'll get bored with it eventually, or be satisfied with the concept existing ONLY INSIDE HIS HEAD, that's what usually happens.

Week from Monday 23rd February 2004

Okay... so it's Wednesday and this is the first opportunity I've had this week to update this here diary thang, it's been busy busy busy! AH'VE BIN COLLATIN' SOO LOWNGG ...and a million other taskettes. Today, I get a bit of TLC at the hairdressers (if only they'd get more comfortable seats) and get around to listening to the 21ST CENTURY SCHIZOID BAND seedies that arrived at the weekend. The 'Live In Japan' one is an accurate souvenir of the gig I attended.

21st CENTURY SCHIZOID BAND - QUEEN ELIZABETH HALL - 30/9/02

THIS TOO HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH GRIDLING AS SUCH, BUT ANYWAY... Monday 30th was something of a King Crimson theme day... I went up to "dzat Loondin" to see the 21st CENTURY SCHIZOID BAND at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, but also to find a copy of Sid Smith's officially (i.e., Fripp) sanctioned "In The Court Of King Crimson" bio-tome, which has eluded me in the LOCAL Shops... any webbyshops I use with regularity have sold out also. I also did the rounds of "dzat Loondin"'s record emporia, as is my wont, but failed to acquire anything on my "wants" list except Caravan's "Blind Dog At St Dunstan's" seedy.

At the South Bank, I enjoyed, if that is the right choice of word, the exhibition of this year's photo-journalism award winners... Lots of examples of "right time right place" photo-opportunity, which benefited, impact-wise, from being enlarged to the size of an A0 showboard, rather than fighting for editorial space within the confines of the tabsheets and broadloids. I particularly liked the pictures of the Senegalese fashion show-cum-street parade.

Upon entering the QEH itself, we are greeted by the new age noodlings of one STEVE LAWSON, who with the aid of an expensive looking six-string bass and several midi FX boxes, goes "bimble bimble" in a major key, for half an hour with no discernible purpose in evidence... Been there, done that! I had flashbacks to countless Sunday afternoons spent being one half of The Trojan Lawyer.

Though I often have admired the husky blues stylings of Canterbury's "Mr Bad Hair Day" KEVIN AYERS, I felt he did not cut the mustard tonight ("An off-night," sayeth a fan, a row or two back). He did stuff from his Whole World albums of thirty-odd summers back ("Stranger In Blue Suede Shoes", "Shouting In A Bucket Blues", "Lady Rachel"), but the duff tuning and frankly "so-so" band did not make for the happy/hippy nostalgia-thon it could have been.

So what of the SCHIZOIDs themselves? For this old proghead, they proved more wondrous than I ever could have hoped! Not merely an exercise in Nostalgia For The Ol' Folks, this was timeless, classic music ...and oh! once more to see music stands on a "rock" stage! Jakko Jakszyk explained his presence in the band with an amusing joke about winning last year's "Prog Idol" - and justified his presence with his ability to play all those tricky Frippriffs with apparent ease. By including two former Crim woodwinders (Ian McDonald AND Mel Collins) in their ranks, the Schizoids managed to reproduce those multitracked oomphchords with absolute authenticity... and Ian McDonald "gives good Tippett" on the piano! Michael Giles remains one of the most consistently intelligent drummers to be heard in this business we call "show" and Peter Giles' joke (I hope it was a joke, anyway) "flamenco" bass solo, preceding "Formentera Lady", was a most refreshing touch.

That set list in full:- A Man A City / Catfood / Let There Be Light (from Ian McDonald's "Drivers Eyes" album) / Progress (from Mike Giles' album of the same name) / In The Court Of The Crimson King / Formentera Lady (with a bit of "Sailor's Tale" thrown in) / Tomorrow's People (from the "McDonald & Giles" album) / If I Was (also from "Drivers Eyes") / Ladies Of The Road / I Talk To The Wind / Epitaph.

The encore was the big theme from Birdman ("McDonald & Giles") followed by - of course! - 21st Century Schizoid Man . They made me miss my last train home by exactly two minutes, thus necessitating a train to and a walk home from Portsmouth... but I'll forgive them... If I'd known that would happen, I would have stayed to get my book signed!

I've also rediscovered some ancient and splendid Beeb sessions by IAN CARR'S NUCLEUS in my dusty collection of tapes which deserve a new digital lease of life. I've now got to pop over to Portsmouth to collect some vinyl numbers from MARK THE EX-PRINTER. I, of course, treat this sojourn as an excuse for some "RELAXATION" (which, for me, usually involves lots and lots of legwork!) and I peruse the record emporia of Ye Olde Commercial Road along the way. I came across a ridiculously cheap JAPAN compilation which - yes! - contains the three (count 'em, three) non-album singles sides that I don't yet have in hi-fidelity. So there you have it. Our Psychedelic Garage Consultant has loaned me the NUGGETS box-set to go through at my leisure. WHICH IS NICE...