Week from Monday 3rd May 2004

Whoops! A bit late this week, what with one thing or another! It is now Wednesday! I've been OFFLINE for a few days as I've been springcleaning the peecee in readiness for fitting a new motherboard bundle. As the new 'board has it's own modem, I didn't bother to re-install the drivers for my old one. Then I discovered that my power supply is not up to the manufacturer's recommendations, so that will require me buying a new case as well. This means that the new mobo still resides in its box until the weekend, and I had a right old kerfuffle getting the old modem to work again...

Yet another Bank Holiday was had, so the weather was, shall we say, variable. Much WALKING was done, but so was a lot of LYING AROUND WITH A GOOD BOOK.

I've been doing quite a bit of that "WEB DESIGN" malarkey over the last week, as Mervyn Purviss let me improve and beautify the SKUNK FUNK INFO website and I have been recruited as a "design consultant" for a commercial venture of which I cannot speak. Mervyn hath spoke of a reunion of sorts, featuring various members of the rockist ABSOLUTE ZERO combo. He suggested that I/WE come up with a list of names, as in the days of YORE. I suggest he looks no further than "AN APPRECIATION OF THE MUSICAL ENTITY PREVIOUSLY KNOWN AS THE LOUD FARMER" within these very pages, a veritable SHAREWARE source of daft names for all bands everywhere!

Those crazy mixed-up kids, THE FUTURE SOUND OF LONDON guest-presented 6Music's "THE SIX MIX" this week. I'll wager that never before has a "dance" show featured the MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA doing "You Know You Know" and "Pastoral", or bits of electric-voodoo MILES DAVIS (from "Panthalassa"?), or JONI MITCHELL's "The Silky Veils Of Ardor", or the tail end of "Dance With The Moonlit Knight" by GENESIS, or even DONOVAN, BLACK SABBATH and Jim Carrey as ANDY KAUFMAN!

Week from Monday 10th May 2004

Shelfy complained that I am spend too much of my diary/time involved with "uninteresting" "COMPUTER CHATRUMINATIONS" and that I should be talking about cleaning ponds or such. Well, in that case, LOOK AWAY NOW, for here comes more computer waffle! Construction of the ONGOING ATHLON BEAST has reached a hiatus. It is not a job you can do in a weekend, knowing that you have to have a working computer to carry on as normal, come Monday morning. We are quite busy. A tummy-troublingly stressful and frustrating Saturday was had, during which time I fitted the motherboard in the case, connected it all up, flagged down a passing electronics expert to check that I had done it all correctly and, finally, switched the thing on, only to find that the new hardware had a disagreement with the old video card settings. Several solutions to the problem have been suggested, but there simply wasn't enough time. The only short-term plan was to put the existing set-up back together in time for work. This I did, on Sunday morning. I am now back to normal (Blimey! The modem even worked first time when I put it back!). Work on the ONGOING ATHLON BEAST will resume when graphic duties allow.

So Sunday afternoon HAD to be a most relaxing time, and I found this by listening, via the RADIO PLAYER, to Saturday's "Jazz Line-Up", which I had missed because of all the kerfuffle. It was vitally important that I DID listen to this, as it featured the EARTHWORKS UNDERGROUND ORCHESTRA at the Cheltenham Festival, with BILL BRUFORD, TIM GARLAND, IAIN BALLAMY et al. Most splendid it proved to be - mainly "big band" arrangements of old BB's Earthworks favourites. I also did some Sunday shopping and I came across a R.A.B.A.B.T.A.L. live recording, of dubious origin, but released on Charly Records, of LOVE with ARTHUR LEE in various Californian nightspots in the early nineties. The main "band" set is shambolic but terrific; the "bonus" solo tracks are almost unlistenable, being recorded from the back of a club to the sound of shuffling chairs, glasses being collected and possibly a game of pool in progress. It is what we euphemistically call a "COLLECTOR'S ITEM".

Posters for the COUNTRY JOE & THE FISH / CHAS & DAVE concert in Southsea are appearing on walls. THE COUNTRY JOE BAND, as we must now call them for legal reasons, actually have second billing to the rabbiting ones. What is the world coming to?! ...This, apparently...

"With reference to your electronic diary, I would suggest that you do a few more exciting things for the readers. By putting your innermost thoughts etc into the public domain you have, like a pop star or clever conjuror, become our property. Please remember the 'tussle' that Tommy Steele had when he misjudged his fanbase. What we, the readers, demand is more:

1... Accounts of fights between yourself and various Japanese monster apes and lizards.
2... A no-holds barred series of articles on extreme mimicry.
3... Less mention of Northamptonshire.
4... 'Paint yourself a teapot' - and I know you can do this - a light hearted art seminar or two with the emphasis on painting a nice teapot."

Hmmm, I think I'm beginning to understand how Robert Fripp feels... Thought For The Day (spotted on a t-shirt): "WHAT IF THE HOKEY COKEY REALLY IS WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT?"

Week from Monday 17th May 2004

Hooray! The WOMAD ticket arrived (not long after the exciting news that DAVID BYRNE is due to appear this year!)... It was a stonkingly sunny day on Saturday, so I decided a major WALKIES was in order. I trucked across Portsmouth, dropping by at the home of MARK THE FORMER PRINTER, to see if he had done the boat names I ordered (he wasn't in), and to visit MERVYN PURVISS to give him his copy of "PLAY SOMETHING WE KNOW". Here I was treated to a demonstration of how the "ALWAYS OUT THERE" nature of the modern WindozeXP/broadband PC can streamline the life of the OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE MUSIC COLLECTOR with teutonic efficiency. Er... thanks, but I'll stick to the spontaneity and legwork that I enjoy from my compulsive visitations to car-boot sales, charity shops and the occasional record fair (and I refer you to remarks made earlier, regarding my feelings about using computers as the sole means of PRODUCING ONE'S OWN MUSIC). I usually welcome MY weekends with open arms, as a time to STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER. Having said all that, Merv did give me a seedy's worth of MP3s to dig through, mainly of a DAEVID ALLEN-related bent... so that'll be nice (Some of them play and some of them don't play on the home DVD player, but that's just another quirk of DVD players - all the MP3s work just fine on my peecee).

Saturday night brought the still entertaining, but ridiculous spectacle that is the EUROVISION SONG CONTEST. Very little of the actual music is worthy of any serious attention or, indeed, at all distinguishable. This is increasingly true since the contestants have been allowed to perform in "any" language. Too many have opted to sing in a cliché-sodden broken-English. I did however enjoy the punky ska of the Turkish entry (Sort of MANU CHAO-lite, the appeal of which was totally lost on Terry Wogan), Serbia's SAZ'n'NEY'n'DARABUKA-based folk-fusion (described by the Wogan as "the one with the awld nose-flute") and the flamenco-flavoured Spanish song (Sort of GYPSY KINGS-lite). Ukraine won the "vote" with a leatherclad routine heavily influenced by the sound and look of "Arena"-period DURAN DURAN, early TOYAH videos and "Xena The Warrior Princess". I've forgotten it already.

Sunday was a day to catch up with my other obsession of GREAT RADIO, absorbing tapes of this week's MIXING IT (whacky sampler-based stuff from PEOPLE LIKE US/WOBBLY and ERGO PHIZMIZ) and JAZZ ON 3 (more Cheltenham big band stuff, this time from JOHN TAYLOR and the boys). There was also a concert by the WAYNE SHORTER QUARTET with the BBC CONCERT ORCHESTRA and, of course, the KERSHAW SHINDIG, saved for Monday morning listening. Meanwhile, Channel Four started its biography of VINCENT VAN GOGH (someone else who was obsessive about walking everywhere, although for Vince it was as some kind of religious self-flagellation) and BBC4 continued its showing of the original uncut series of "DAS BOOT".

Another sunny day arrived on Monday, so an excuse was found for another WALKIES. I went back over to Portsmouth to collect the boat names job from MARK THE FORMER PRINTER, who I found in the back yard, tinkering with an outboard motor of distant vintage. I also went to the record emporia of Commercial Road (of course), where I purchased another remastered seedydisk by TRAFFIC, a current ACQUISITION FAD, to celebrate the fact that I had just made a hefty profit on the aforementioned job!

I met an old friend and colleague from my market research days and helped her with a survey about diet colas, for which I had to pretend to be thirty nine... I have a visit to SANDIE'S HOUSE OF HAIR this morning, for a bit of follicle maintenance... More GREAT RADIO: last night there was a five song chunk of a 1980 XTC concert on "The Dream Ticket"; This Friday, there is a recording of the ONLY so-called "jazz" vocalist worth hearing, CASSANDRA WILSON, on "Jazz On 3" (She never resorts to showy, grandstanding, melismic WARBLES, like so many other supposedly "GOOD" singers, the boozy bloozy tone of her voice is enough - and what a band she keeps!). I listened to this on Saturday morning as I added the final touches to the ONGOING ATHLON BEAST, such as getting the scanner to work, updating the virus checker and doing some Windoze Updates. Then it's out into the sun...

Week from Monday 24th May 2004

...I don't remember much else about Saturday, because I slept through most of it. I did, at some time, listen to the first two JAPAN albums, newly acquired on seedydisk. I remember starting to watch my customary Saturday night detective stories, but I never did find out WHODUNNIT! Sunday morning brought a major bout of CARBOOT FRENZY... The nice weather certainly brings 'em out - so impressive was the spread that I actually didn't do the whole thing, I ran out of arms to carry things home! I got some vinyl goodies from DALI'S CAR and BAUHAUS, a whole mess of seventies electronic music tapes (VANGELIS, TOMITA, KRAFTWERK, TANGERINE DREAM, that sorta thing), mystery CDs of THE SEA AND CAKE (featuring JOHN McENTIRE from that TORTOISE group) and a strange Swiss/Japanese free-improv set (which spookily resembles the "PALE DEFINITIVE MUTILATION" piece that Shelfy and I did a few years ago), a CD-ROM disk containing YET ANOTHER PAINT PROGRAMME, more-recent-than-I-had-before copies of HALLIWELL'S FILM GUIDE & COMPANION and last, but not least, a rather splendid LITTLE FEAT seedydisk. So that was nice.

I lent Shelfy that free-improv disc to see if he agrees with my PARALLEL UNIVERSE THEORY OF FREE IMPROVISATION (By the way, that disc of stuff that we sent to "MIXING IT" went totally ignored, while music that sounds EXACTLY THE SAME AS US still gets played on the programme regularly. Go Figure. Perhaps we are too pretentious. Or not pretentious enough).

This week, I went to meet my "new" DENTIST, as the "old" one has just retired. The new fella has promised that all his NHS patients will stay NHS patients, but he has snuck in additional hygienist's fees, no doubt to pay for the fancy new chair that goes back so far, you feel dizzy when you stand up. Now my six-monthly CHECKUP 'N' SCRAPE includes all sorts of hifallutin' polishing routines and so is charged for at £18.20, instead of the fiver it used to cost.

I've been listening to some more of Merv's MP3s in between doing the annual print'n'collate thing for the Historic Churches Bike Ride. The rather nice "chamber jazz" session by DIDIER MALHERBE & PIERRE BENSUSAN and a live recording of GONG in their jazz-rock "Shamal" incarnation, have been committed to CD, whilst some tunes, including the EDGAR BROUGHTON BAND, THE FAR CRY and ZODIAC COSMIC SOUNDS, have been added to my "NUGGETS" jukebox. (Note to Merv: Don't forget the JOHN MARTYN documentary and Whistle Test special on BBC4 this weekend!)... The BAUHAUS double album I got for 50p turned out to be virtually unplayable, unless you like to listen to your goth-rock as recorded in a mud-filled chip shop. Ne'mind eh... However, I did use two of the lesser scratched tracks as sidefiller, when I put the DALI'S CAR album on tape (not too scratched at all in fact) ...This just in, no doubt prompted by my comments about THE BAYS, their no-brainer L.C.D. approach to (so-called) improvisation and the strange Swiss percussionists getting down in Japan...

"Sir! With reference to your diary comments on improvisation in music. I believe that the fashion is the most important ingredient in the musical mix. The greatest mistake an avant garde musician can make is to admit nationality. The canny artist/musician will do little research before embarking on their piece of work. Read a quality paper, check out reviews, critiques..... make note of names. Kraftwerk, as you may know, were originally a four piece acapella-funk outfit from Pontypool, called "Mr Tweezle's String Vest". They made absolutely zilch impact on their chosen market. At that time Germany was the spiritual helipad of all things musically strange. These days one has to think 'oriental' to get anywhere. Remember, the music is second to the name. If I were a sound deconstructionist I'd most certainly go down the Japanese road. I'd buy a Japanese dictionary, open it up and stick pins in a few words, string 'em together and that would be the album title. In English it would probably say 'noun, small drum for storing bacon, hat worn by horse, smell', but who cares? I could go on but I won't because I'm working on a piece called 'Titchmarsh - the Monster Awakes'. It's in a European stylee so naturally it's a load of - now what's Okinawan for bollox? Regards, Peng Lui Shukkalukkawee."

Thanks Peng Lui (hmm... funny, that doesn't sound Welsh...) MR TWEEZLE'S STRING VEST vinyl is now changing hands, at astronomical prices, at a record fair near you.