Week from Monday 7th July 2008

We're now well into POP FESTIVAL season, so naturally, the weather is turgid! On Saturday evening, though, there WAS a break in the clouds, so I spent a few hours down at the GOSPORT FESTIVAL, not for any great love of the music on offer, but to meet up with my CHUMS FROM ACROSS THE HARBOUR. Incidentally, I should say that it's now known as the Gosport WATERFRONT Festival (Walpole Park? Waterfront?), to differentiate it from the other, semi-official "Chegfest", soon to take place in Stokes Bay. 

I found myself really enjoying the '70s festival crowd-pleasers STRAY. Perhaps unfairly referred to as "The Poor Man's Groundhogs" (probably by me, come to think of it), as a live band they were always good value  - they just never made very good records! 

The rest of the bill I could take or leave:- standard GOSPORT-FODDER; plodding blues-based pub-boogie; background music for drinking. For the record they were THE WORRIED MEN, DEBORAH BONHAM and JUICY LUCY. Juicy Lucy (or at least somebody trading under that name) were especially disappointing. Were they always this dull, back in the day? I didn't stay around to hear NAZARETH, I was never particularly fond of them, even in their heyday. Anyway, my ulterior motive for being here was to meet up with MERVYN PURVISS for a ceremonial disc-swapping.

We're also into TOUR DE FRANCE season as well. But after the fiasco that was last year's Tour, this year's promises to be a bit DIFFERENT. No Prologue? No time bonuses? A split with the world governing body? Several top riders and teams conspicuous by their absence? Hmmm... whether it proves to be the right kind of  DIFFERENT, remains to be seen...

I find myself with so much [of other people's] stuff to listen to, that I've been neglecting my ChRiStMaS TrEeS HOMEWORK! I had intended to be doing a monster DUB track this weekend, using a particularly awesome-sounding Binkybass part and some of my infamous 'horn charts'. But "SORRY SIR I FORGOT SIR"... perhaps one for the inevitable wet afternoons we're in for this week?

By the way, I've been requested not to refer to the members of ThE ChRiStMaS TrEeS by NAME, in this or any other blogjournal, as B***Y wants to perpetuate the myth that the TrEeS' music has been performed by a rockin' beat combo consisting entirely of plastic or knitted toy animals (as a rule, I don't use 'real' names within these pages anyway). Which is apparently why, when being photographed pretending to play the saxophone, I have to wear an ape mask and there is an elephant at the keyboards.

Week from Monday 14th July 2008

With my printer chums away at Goodwood for the old cars and B***Y in Austria, I thought I'd end the week in sunny Basingstoke, sampling the so-called "BE AMAZED" festival day, a sort of WINCHESTER HAT FAIR OF THE NORTH. I had a wonderful afternoon watching a couple of females who call themselves FRENETIC ENGINEERING do amusing things with knives and fire ("Ooooh! Danger!"), a high-wire unicycle act dressed in full superhero garb (with a bucket or two on his head so he couldn't see where he was going) and a stonefaced gentleman who does slight of hand tricks and astounding things with paint (like Rolf Harris on suspect acid). There were jugglers and acrobats in several other public spaces. The evening ahead promised aerial ballet (people hanging from balloons) and specially-composed live music, amongst other delights. Come teatime, with all this still to look forward to, I went off to do a bit of shopping before the fun was to continue. Then the heavens opened. And continued to open for some time. This was not predicted by this morning's BBC-i weather maps (exactly the opposite in fact; it was supposed to be 'scattered showers' throughout the day and then a nice clear evening). The water was pouring off the glass roof in sheets. It was running over the footbridge steps like a Nile cataract. The pedestrian subway was flooded. Along with several 'clone-agers', I stood by the exit to the shopping centre and waited. And waited. I had a decision to make. Should I stand here like a lemon for a couple of hours to see what happened? Or should I just give up and get the train home? I eventually chose the latter option. Whether the weather allowed the FULL SPECTACLE to go ahead in War Memorial Park, I shall probably never know. Ah well, I did buy the new DJANGO BATES album while I was there.

A double dose of "THE FREAK ZONE" this Sunday, as it suddenly dawned on me that I hadn't listened to LAST week's prog yet! Through the miracle of good old-fashioned "TAPE-IT FER-LATER", I was able to catch up before the new episode aired (featuring the extraordinary JAN DUKES DE GREY amongst other nice things).

My new 'album', heavily featuring material gleaned from ThE ChRiStMaS TrEeS sessions, is now roughly three-quarters finished. I have conceived it as though it were four sides of vinyl (THE COMPLETE DOUBLE ALBUM ON ONE CD!). ThE TrEeS suite (still to be named) takes up 'Sides 1 & 2'. 'Side 3' is my OTHER piece "CHTHONIC BOOM", all eighteen minutes-worth. I haven't decided whether I will have 'Side 4' consisting of ANOTHER eighteen-minute epic (yet to be written) or to fill it with shorter tracks (yet to be written). I shall do a "TEST PRESSING" of the 'finished' parts so that I can hear it on a hi-fi (and to play it to the 'team').

Week from Monday 21st July 2008

"...THE JD SALINGERS OF CANADIAN PRO ROCK'"?... RUSH appeared on Comedy Central's "THE COLBERT REPORT" last week, apparently their first American TV appearance for many a decade. I managed to watch the show 'online', as I believe you young'ns say ("The band Rush are on the show... either that or a drum factory just exploded in my studio!" - Hysterical!).

This week, preparations are underfoot for next weekend's trip OOP DZAT LOONDIN to see influential Texan sonic sculptors THE BUTTHOLE SURFERS play the Kentish Town Forum. I've been studying maps to see how to get from A to Z (albeit via F and J) and I've bought my coach ticket. I shall need to get one of they there Travel Cards on the day. The Human Nail has also made his own arrangements; Tickets (and accommodation) come via 'Our London Agent Lady Penelope Marrowpoodle-Molestrangler' (or 'Mazzer' to his auntie); Through the miracle of portative telephone linkage we SHOULD all meet up SOMEWHERE OUT THERE for a top evening of noise-talgia and fun.

WHILE WE'RE ON THE SUBJECT OF "NOISE-TALGIA"... Having made a test pressing of the CHTHONIC BOOM/ChRiStMaS TrEeS material, and played it on various hi-fi apparati, I shall probably re-think the format of the 'album' yet again (ignore last week's comments entirely!). I have enough music for an album, of that there is no doubt. But the running order needs some serious consideration. This is my favourite part of the operation, the MERZ [collage] bit. Having previously segued all the stuff together in eighteen minute 'suites', I shall now cut it into little bits and put it back together in a different order, to see what throws up INTERESTING JUXTAPOSITIONS. For example, the [inevitable] 'DUB VERSION' will stand alone as a separate track (at the end of the disk?). The noisy bit that sounds like PAINKILLER will make a much better opening to the proceedings, before jump-cutting to a speaker-hopping electronic/concrete piece constructed from samples of Shelfy's "BURMESE DUCK"... but we shall see... In fact, it looks like TWO versions of the 'album' will be FINISHED this week - this "Chthonic Boom" mix and the official 'commercial' version.

Week from Monday 28th July 2008

Anyone waiting for an exciting report about my exciting weekend will have to wait until I've slept for a few days...

   Saturday 26th July 2008, London: "It's a nice place to visit, but I couldn't eat a whole one..." three-and-a-half hours on National Express plays havoc with the old arse dandruff... The Grateful Dead help make the journey a timeless experience (just gone past Basingstoke and they're still playing the same song as an hour ago!)... Yomping around Dzat Loondin with no particular purpose, but happy to be not sitting down... occasionally exchanging cryptic text messages with the Binkster as he approaches from another direction... Doing the tourist bit at Camden Market: tourists get the tat they deserve... So far, I've succeeded in failing to spend any money on 'product'. I've enjoyed the tactile sensation of browsing, but nothing has succeeded in prising my pennies from me...
   Met up with the chaps for pre-show drinks. I just can't take in enough water today, it's immediately oozing out of every pore to add itself to the general humidity... Which makes the Forum's 'policy' of confiscating drinks bottles (even if they contain VITAL fluids) both annoying and potentially dangerous. Especially when they don't provide an adequate replacement within, apart from little plastic glasses of water, purchased over the bar at over-the-bar prices. The tap water in the gents' is not drinkable. There is no air conditioning and humidity levels are beyond tolerable. Alcohol can only make it worse. It's not very comfortable at all... 
   "So what do we can we expect from the 'support' band, THE PAUL GREEN SCHOOL OF ROCK ALL-STARS?" I ask the Binkster before the gig. I happen to know that the other two thirds of the Adrian Belew Power Trio are PGSoR alumni, but beyond that, we know little. What we WEREN'T prepared for was to be hit square in the face with an immaculate rendition of "21st Century Schizoid Man" upon entering the venue... followed by a great set of 'classic' rock covers of every hue. Other highlights were a pretty spot-on version of Zappa's "Zomby Woof" and a theatrical rendition of Devo's "Uncontrollable Urge" complete with boiler-suited dance routines (which will haunt Binky's fevered reveries for some time)...
   Tonight, the BUTTHOLE SURFERS will record the show and sell it as a DELUXE DOUBLE LIVE CD SET before the gig is even over. Isn't it amazing what they can do nowadays? Just as well, then, that the sound is absolutely crystal perfect. This comes as a surprise, having been subjected to many a filth-quality Butties live recording in the past. Many old favourites are performed, with the ORIGINAL line-up of the band being augmented by various School of Rock kiddies. Who will forget the sight and sound of a chorus of sixteen year olds dutifully joining in on the chorus of "I Saw An X-Ray Of A Girl Passing Gas"? The visuals are appropriately trippy; lashings of dry ice, with back projections of upside-down Peanuts cartoons, Charlie's Angels footage played backwards, unspeakable surgical procedures and ludicrous Japanese monster movies morphing into The Banana Splits. In order to allow time for the CD production line to get into full swing, the evening ended with a (twenty minute?) psychedelic jam featuring everyone involved.
   Mazzer and I stand outside on the bootleg t-shirt festooned pavement, grabbing some much needed fresh air (well, as fresh as it'll get anyway) while Binky queues for a copy of the DELUXE DOUBLE LIVE CD SET.
   Now we must hit the London Transport network for the journey 'home' to Pinner, involving a trip on the Northern Line to Euston, a dash across the road to Euston Square and a lengthy Metropolitan Line journey to the burbs. The early hours of the morning are spent eating Chinese takeaway and watching an unfeasibly awful Turkish film about Vikings. There was also another one involving a rather camp superhero and some robots, but I made my excuses and hit the sack.
   Up reasonably bright and early, so I can stretch my legs before another three hour coach-borne endurance test. I got to Rayners Lane station just as Binky arrived by vehicular means, so we together caught the Piccadilly Line back into town. Having had much previous discussion about 'open ended' National Express tickets, it so happened that the Nail caught an even earlier bus than I did! I returned from perusing the departures board only to see him disappear across the tarmac. I then bumped into a Brazilian lady of my (thirty-odd years ago) acquaintance. During the first half of the coach-a-thon, I enjoy the (beautifully recorded) discs of last night's gig. I must have dozed for much of the second half - I don't remember anything between Basingstoke and Fareham...

...but as Shelfy has commented, there ISN'T anything between Basingstoke and Fareham... 

The TOUR DE FRANCE rolled to a close with satisfactory results. Despite the lumpenmedia's continuing tendency to try to hang the CULT OF PERSONALITY on the race and big up individual 'STAR' riders (meaning they were frequently proved wrong), CSC showed the way forward by winning the event with real TEAMWORK - and that can only be a good thing for the race.

Just as ThE ChRiStMaS TrEeS project been tied up to everyone's satisfaction, I find myself contributing to something new called PERINEUM FALCON (or possibly STEVIE CHUNDER?). A number of fairly short but spontaneous works are in the can and we've just started work on a peculiar version of "Superstition"... no doubt a MySpace is being set up as we speak.