Week from Monday 4th January 2016

During this morning's walkies, I passed the building that used to be my secondary school. It is receiving some fairly terminal bulldozer treatment, clearing space for a new extension to the adjoining College. It suddenly struck me that EVERY school or college I ever attended, not to mention EVERY place I ever worked, NO LONGER EXISTS. Was it something I said? It also occurred to me that, should I ever again be required to compile a curriculum vitae, this would make it almost impossible to verify...

I'm listening to another MILES DAVIS recording of dubious provenance (it's from a Polish radio concert in 1983) and trying out an AMIGA 500 emulator that runs on Chrome. I'm not that impressed with the latter, it's too damn slow. A real COMMODORE AMIGA never took that long to boot up, even with only 512 KB of memory and running off a floppy disk! I conclude that, as a 'toy', it's not nearly as good as WinUAE, which I've been known to fire up now and again for a quick game of old school TETRIS! Then there's the REAL Amigas I still have sitting around here...

It's been a busy start to the year. People are even starting to PAY me! But... Sod's Law decrees that whenever things are going swimmingly, then something bad will happen to balance things out. Last night, I was enjoying my teatime Weather Report when, VERY suddenly, my hi-fi amplifier stopped working properly. It no longer produces anything out of the speakers! All its other functions are working (everything still lights up and is 'switchable', and I can still hear stuff through the headphones) but NO NOISE! It will be a major kerfuffle to dismantle everything to examine it, so I shouldn't think I can do anything with it until the weekend anyway... But I have a feeling I'll making another visit to the RICHER SOUNDS emporium before very long.

Week from Monday 11th January 2016

...which is exactly what I did do at the end of the working week. I couldn't face the prospect of dismantling the entire hi-fi set-up more than once, so I'm going to treat myself to a new one anyway. After a lot of perusing of the review pages, I'd decided on the PIONEER A10 as being the best for my budget. But RICHER SOUNDS in Southampton didn't have the one I wanted, nor did I want the ones they had. Rather than 'SETTLE', I've ordered the Pioneer... but that will mean several more days without 'office ambience'... Luckily, I'm too busy to dwell on it too much!

And now we've lost PIERRE BOULEZ and DAVID BOWIE. The latter obviously touched more people's lives in the overall scheme of things, but both will be missed. I don't have the words, but lots of other folks apparently do, so I'll leave it up to them...

A couple more fun-packed days, flurrying about doing work stuff... But then I got the call from RICHER SOUNDS that my amp is ready for collection. I'm going to Southampton today and I intend to make a day of it! Work can wait.

It would seem that EVERY single shop in Southampton is playing something by DAVID BOWIE. And not just the music shops. Walk past any café or restaurant, any boutique or knock-off purveyor of tourist tat, and you will hear SOMETHING by David Bowie drifting out onto the pavement. Mainly the OBVIOUS stuff (the numerous "hits" collections), but some of the 'cooler' shops have latched on to "Blackstar"... I suspect this is also the scenario in every city elsewhere.

Wednesday evening... I dismantled the hi-fi (not a task I was looking forward to, as I mentioned earlier), got covered in dust-bunnies in the process, and installed the new amplifier. That STAN GETZ QUARTET album is going sterrraight on at last! Stanley Clarke's double bass sounds well profundo and you can hear the spit rattling in Getz's mouthpiece...

DREAM DIARY... We put together a "JAM BAND" for a one-off occasion... Someone's birthday bash, held in a pub (No surprises there then!)... Apparently 'Potus and Flotus' are on the guest list... We are calling ourselves BON THOMAS... Requiring help to come up with some lyrics for the evening, I am in the library consulting a dictionary of naval slang... Expect a lot of 12-bar blues-based sea shanties!

Week from Monday 18th January 2016

I confess, I haven't once had any compulsion to put on a DAVID BOWIE record since the news broke last week. I don't have to, because everyone else is doing it for me! There's an "ALL BOWIE, ALL THE TIME" playlist everywhere you go. I've had a headful already. Through the neurological POWER OF SUGGESTION, I can clearly earworm several extracts from "Heroes" and "Scary Monsters" WITHOUT the aid of electronic sound reproduction apparatus. I personally think that you CAN have too much of a good thing, but out there in Hysteria, Mass., it's almost as if everyone feels that they should be PANIC BUYING Bowie...
All those David Bowie albums you didn't buy before?
You bloody well SHOULD have
(Even the iffy ones from the eighties).
C'uh! What WERE you thinking?
That makes YOU an inadequate human being!
You wouldn't want your friends to catch you
Listening to anything NOT by him, would you?
So get 'em all NOW
Before it's too late!
There'll never be another chance...
(Probably)
There's also an "EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES" element to how the public handle the 'loss'. When an artist dies, it is considered BAD TASTE to point out that they were ONLY HUMAN, therefore not EVERYTHING they produced was pure magic. Bowie DID make some wonderful records, I'll grant you, and yes, he touched ALL of our lives with his music. But he was NOT infallible. Like anyone whose career spans fifty years or more, he also churned out a commensurate amount of rubbish.

While we're at it, I've now heard enough of Bowie's 'final' album "BLACKSTAR" to determine that it is really not THAT special, nor is it 'JAZZ' as some cloth-eared pundits have claimed. Just 'cos a record has an off-key saxamaphone on it, that does NOT make it 'jazz' in my book. There, I said it.

Moving on, this week, it's GLENN FREY we've lost. I anticipate I shall hear nothing but THE EAGLES for a day or two (groan!).

Hello... now someone's broken Twitter... Now I'll have to do some actual work while I'm waiting.
RHETORICAL QUESTION PUT TO THE TWITS: Could there ever be an artist about whom you could honestly say "I have enjoyed literally EVERYTHING they've ever released."? I doubt it. ANY long-established musician will inevitably have a discography that is - shall we say? - "PATCHY" at best... No? Nobody? Thought not!
I've just seen an TV advert (for a new magazine partwork thingy) that informed me that "VINYL IS BACK" and, what is more, "JAZZ IS BACK" as well. You can imagine my surprise. I had no idea they'd been anywhere.

Today in the 'office', I'm treating my ears to some fine fine "Roxy"-era ZAPPA. I've not done that for a long time. I find myself ACTIVELY enjoying myself! I'm having a ruddy good SING-A-LONG, even whistling the tricky instrumental bits and drumming on the desk when the mood takes me! (I hope nobody is listening!)

Friday... It's bucketing down with the precipitation and all, but I wrapped myself in THE GREEN WETSUIT and went down to Gozzy to take care of a small amount of business... Then I hopped on That Overpriced Ferry Service They Have to visit the Gunwharf branch of HMV.

MISSION: to acquire the new STEVEN WILSON mini-album "4½" on its day of release.

But then I also espied FRANK ZAPPA's "ROXY THE MOVIE" and the new seedy reissue of GREG LAKE's first two solo albums (You remember? The ones with GARY MOORE all over them?)... so what the heck! A little nostalgia for the old folks! ...Aha!
JT • I think we should have end of year charts for "The Most Highly Anticipated But Subsequently Most Disappointing Albums Of The Year".
PP • There's always a few of those. Maybe our expectations are too high in the first place. Have you something in mind already?
JT • Not particularly, but sometimes there can be an element of "Emperors New Clothes"
Week from Monday 25th January 2016

Sid's "PODCASTS FROM THE YELLOW ROOM" come along like buses... It used to be that I would enjoy my Sidlistening at Sunday teatime, because the "live" airing (on Thursday evening) is not a good time for me. I guess that's the beauty of PODcasts rather than BROADcasts. You can listen at YOUR convenience. Then suddenly they stopped arriving. The last one to go online was Episode 20, back at the beginning of December... but now Progzilla Cliff has finally pulled his finger out, and posted numbers twenty-one thru twenty-five all in one go! That should keep me amused for a few hours!

The weather is miserable and so am I. I can't walk in it and the public transport system has once again been taken by surprise and ground to a standstill. I've put on the most confrontational music I can think of at this moment, "WHERE FORTUNE SMILES" by John Surman, John McLaughlin et al. Phew! Thirty-five concentrated minutes of musicmaking that somehow manages to sound both spiritual and belligerent! In fact, I think now's a good time for a bit of the old JAZZ-RACKET, the freer the better!
ON THESE DAYS IN HISTORY: On the 29th January 1982, we enjoyed AFTER THE FIRE at Southampton University... On the 30th January 2003, I experienced the mighty MAGMA at the Queen Elizabeth Hall... On the 31st January 1984, we bopped mightily to HERBIE HANCOCK and his Rockit Band at the Hammersmith Odeon... but on the 1st of February, apparently, nothing EVER happened at all...