Week from Monday 3rd October 2016

I just noticed a mistake on the 'flyer' that I'd posted on UNCLE WILLY's Twitter page. Suffice it to say, it's been there for several weeks now and no one else has spotted it. (In fact, perhaps I shouldn't have drawn attention to it here? Oh, ne'er mind... As we all know, nobody EVER reads this crap except me... "IGGLY PATOOSH BADINGA SPOLLITT, MADRIGAL CABBAGE BOLSTERS, THE NOOOOOOO!" See? I told you!)

Today is STEVE REICH's 80th birthday. Yesterday, to (sort of) mark the occasion, BBC6MUSIC broadcast a performance of "DIFFERENT TRAINS" live from a railway station in Liverpool. Also, major kudos to whoever it is who tweets on behalf of the LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA - they managed to spell out Reich's "CLAPPING MUSIC" in emoji!

The politicos on both sides of the Atlantic are holding some sort of competition, to see who can be the quickest at making their own country COMPLETELY UNTENABLE. That's the only possible explanation. (I'm using the word "UNTENABLE" in its broader sense here, "not capable of being lived in", rather than meaning "of a position incapable of being supported". Although, come to think of it, that definition applies here too!) I'm going for a long walk...

There is a band from Chile called AISLES, who come highly acclaimed (at least by those who acclaim things that call themselves 'PROG'). For a limited time, they have made their latest album free to download from Bandcamp. Naturally, I downloaded it, on the non-committal basis of "WELL IT'S FREE, WHY NOT GIVE THEM A GO?". Well, it IS 'prog', but it is certainly NOT 'progressive'. In fact, it is the ultimate 'RETROG' album. It is very good at being what it is and it gives its audience exactly what it wants. Every musical idea, every phrase, every riff on the album has been done before by Yes or Genesis or Marillion or Floyd or even (shudder!) Queen. It is COMFORT LISTENING, free of challenge, for people who like something incongruously called 'traditional prog'. People who have a firm definition of what 'prog' is and don't want to hear anything that upsets that. People who pay good money to hear a surrogate Yes churn out the epics "just like the records" or to see a tour clumsily titled "Genesis Revisited With Classic Hackett". It is the sort of music that fills the hours on daytime PROGZILLA RADIO, which seems to me a hipper version of Radio 2. Don't get me wrong, I LIKE a bit of the old 'prog' nostalgia, speaking as one who has just coughed up twenty-five quid for a bigger better version of "Tales From Topographic Oceans"...

...but any music that claims to be PROGRESSIVE should HURT the first time you hear it. It should shake you from your comfort zone and only with repeated listening will the artist's intentions become clear. I've picked up a couple of PETER HAMMILL solo albums from the secondhand bins in the last week or so. On first hearing, I found them VERY hard going indeed. If you've ever heard Peter Hammill AT ALL, you'll know what I mean. His music screams "I DON'T CARE WHAT ANYONE ELSE THINKS, THIS IS ME, WARTS AND ALL!". It is not meant to be comfortable listening, nor is it comforting. But after a few plays, some strange process of OSMOSIS takes place. You start to 'GET IT'. The weird, harsh, random, rambling music takes on a shape and INNER LOGIC of its own. Something of great beauty emerges, music which DESERVES your close attention and REWARDS your patience. Good jazz is like that too. (By the way, I've heard bits of the new VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album on the radio and I haven't been that impressed. But give me a few years...)

'Progressive' is supposed to mean that there are no rules. There should be surprises. 'Progressive' means moving forwards, to build or improve on what has gone before. Modern 'Prog' doesn't do that. I would say that, nowadays, a lot of so-called 'WORLD MUSIC' artists are FAR more progressive than are the current crop of BANDS THAT CALL THEMSELVES 'PROG'. They seem a lot more open to thinking outside the cultural box and are not afraid to fuse disparate musical styles to form exotic new ones. It is they who picked up the torch of creativity passed on by the original progressive rock bands of the seventies, not the soundalike RETROGs.

This week's 'DAZE OUT' took me to CHICHESTER, on one of those SOUTHERN RAIL adventures (the 'adventure' being that you never know if and when there's going to be another train or not!). I spent a fun couple of hours browsing the many charity shops, taking in the splendour and majesty of the Cathedral and following a 'Wall Walk' to enjoy the Autumn colours...

Week from Monday 10th October 2016

Yes, I know it's Wednesday already! I've sort of been AFK (as you kids say), at least as far as THE BIG BEAST is concerned. My internettal interactivities have been confined to the laptop and My Little Android for the last twenty-six hours or so... The reason? That's how long it takes my big peecee to generate 3589 animation frames, each of 640 x 480 pixels, and then glue them together again as an MP4 file. That's just three and a bit minutes of arty TRAIN VIDEO. Gives you some idea of the computing power required to do a full-length, high definition Disney movie, don't it just?

Almost daily now, I've been posting some photographic "ART" on my Twitter feed, with the hashtag #ViewFromTheWalkies. The AUTUMNAL COLOURS have inspired some nice images. I'm pleased to say that the response from the twitchums has been positive so far...

I'm almost relieved to report... The new STEVEN WILSON remastered version of YES' "Tales From Topographic Oceans" is MAGNIFICENT. What the maestro has managed to do with this album is truly a work of wonder! There are, in particular, drums and bass parts that I haven't actually HEARD before, not in the forty odd years I've 'known' this record, finally revealing themselves from beneath the quagmire of audio compression. When you consider what an overambitious mess of multiple bouncedowns and (often audible) razorblade edits the original was, not to mention the tendency for Yes albums of yore to be 'ALL TOP END'... well, it's a remarkable achievement. Even putting some space between the dozens of guitar overdubs? I'm not surprised it's taken Mr Wilson over three years, on and off! I'm rather glad I bit the bullet and forked out another twenty-five quid for the pleasure of hearing this sprawling progmonster PROPERLY at last!

I spent some of my allotted WALKIES time watching the SQUIRRELS. Even more amusingly, I watched the cats watching the squirrels watching the cats...

Week from Monday 17th October 2016

Up bright and early for a DENTAL APPOINTMENT this morning. The worst thing about it was the walk through the rain in order to get there. I'm not in the least bit 'phobic' about dentists. In fact, if anything, I'm far more apprehensive about tomorrow's scheduled HAIRCUT!

Friday is INTERNATIONAL 'PROG NOIR' DAY, as it is the release date for the new album by the STICK MEN. This has been a highlighted 'red letter day' in my diary since the beginning of the summer! I logged on early to visit the IAPETUS concern's Bandcamp page, for to purchase and download my copy. The all-important seedydisk manufacturing process has been undertaken and now this wondrous thing is now experiencing some seriously heavy rotation on the 'OFFICE JUKEBOX'. It's a bit good, eh kids? This week's other 'impulse purchases' (ninety-nine-peefer-seedies by ASIA and ROBBIE ROBERTSON) won't even get a look-in for the next few days!

On Friday night, it was TWITTER's turn to 'BREAK THE INTERNET'. There was apparently a DDoS 'attack' on some of the world's major servers. Any attempt to log onto the Twitsphere resulted in a "SERVER NOT FOUND" message... which was jolly inconvenient, coming at a time when I felt like SHARING SOME CREATIVE WITH MY PEEPS, as there wasn't a thing to watch on telly!

Week from Monday 24th October 2016

It is Monday morning. Last night, during the late hours of Sunday, I was bored. I upgraded my Anti-Virus software. I subsequently found I didn't 'NEED' any of the 'free' extras that came with it. So I rolled it back to just the basics again. Still bored. I tried out a few zany ideas for new Twitter avatars. They came out looking boring. Went back to one of the old ones. I'm trying out another alternative web browser, because Firefox has got slow and unresponsive again. Didn't make much difference. Probably wasn't Firefox's fault anyway. Got bored doing that. It is Monday now.

Ah! my lifelong LOVE-HATE relationship with the music of YES... After a mad rush down to that Gozzy to sort out a printing 'problem', I'm listening to another naughty online stream from ANDERSON RABIN WAKEMAN's ongoing US tour. All that stuff I said about the most recent 'BAND THAT CALLS ITSELF YES' gigs? It does NOT apply to this rocking teenage combo!

The present day surrogate YES sounds old and tired and bored.
ARW sound like they are having a whale of a time!

There are still occasional fluffed notes, of course, and the repertoire is mainly limited to the 'hits' and shorter songs at the moment (well, relatively short for THEM!), with the exception of the token 'epic' "AWAKEN". But it strikes me that ARW are not content to churn out photocopies of the original recordings for the "PLAY SOMETHING WE KNOW!" circuit, they're really letting rip and having FUN with the material! There are extended instrumental workouts (Okay then, 'jams') tagged onto the end of "OWNER OF A LONELY HEART" and "ROUNDABOUT" that make even those wizened old chestnuts come to life in new and exciting ways.

Of course, there are always going to be those cringesome moments of Anderson tweeness (I for one could do without "THE MEETING", for instance), but this Jon still puts that other Davison one to shame in every respect. He can hit all the notes for a start!

I should also mention that the rhythm section is phenomenal, bringing something of their very own to the songs, instead of blindly aping Squire or White or Bruford. LEE POMEROY even has the audacity to interpret "THE FISH" in his own way. It's rather good too. It should be interesting to watch how they develop by the time they hit these shores... (Not that I'll have the dubious pleasure of attending another LIVE GIG anytime soon.)

I never thought I'd EVER say this, but I found myself wishing they'd do more of the '80s Rabin-era material. A TwitFriend brought up the subject of the much-maligned "UNION" album, so last night I gave it a spin. I didn't find it painful. There is a LOT of filler on that 'DESIGNED BY COMMITTEE' sprawling mess of an album, but as someone else pointed out, there's also a damn fine thirty-six minute album screaming to get out. Mix that up with the best bits of the (equally patchy) "TALK" album and you've got yourself a very listenable new CD's worth!

Back to Gozzy again this morning, to take care of some deliveries and monetary transactions. Naturally, I visited a charity shop as well. Crawling around on the floor to get to the bottom shelf, I gleaned one sub-£1 item, a NORAH JONES album that I'd not seen before... Inspired by yet another TwitTopic, I dug out this LIST that I made some years ago. I see no reason to change my mind on ANY of these...
THE VERY BEST SINGLES EVER - Timeless artifacts of perfect pop
1. "Alone Again Or" - Love
2. "Video Killed The Radio Star" - The Buggles
3. "25 Or 6 To 4" - Chicago
4. "I Saw The Light" - Todd Rundgren
5. "Atmosphere" - Joy Division

THE VERY WORST SINGLES EVER - Each guaranteed to send me screaming from a room
1. "Bohemian Rhapsody" - Queen
2. "Hey Jude" - The Beatles
3. "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" - Elton John & Kiki Dee
4. "Mama" - Genesis
5. "Grandad" - Clive Dunn
Of course, if I were to make a list like that today, I would probably expand the 'best' category to include some choice 45s by JAPAN, THE CURE, THE SMITHS, 10,000 MANIACS, R.E.M. or RADIOHEAD (all have been consummate singles bands, in my opinion). On the other hand, I would feel it my duty to draw attention to several further atrocities by PAUL McCARTNEY. But, if truth be told, I've not taken very much notice of singles since my later student days, when I would habitually snap up the latest wax by the likes of NEW ORDER or FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD. Since that list was scribbled, several decades-worth of ephemeral 'chart hits' have come and gone. Thankfully, in most cases, I never hear them, nor would I. I can't help noticing that most of them end up in unloved heaps on the shelves of charity shops. Nuff said.

Shelfy has started a new SOUNDCLOUD page for our deutscher kosmischer freunden STRÜMPFEN, complete with suitably bleak graphics, big sprawling twenty-minute excerpts from the "albums" and a nice air of mystery about it. "ARCHIV STRÜMPFEN"... with or without the umlaut? I can't decide.

I went for the long bumpy sixty-nine bus ride to WINCHESTER, one of the few "DAZE OUT"s available to me at the moment, as the dysfunctional rail service hereabouts has been pretty much 'replaced' by buses anyway. I snapped a few autumnal #ViewFromTheWalkies piccies around the Cathedral and Guildhall, as yer do. I took in all the CHARITY SHOPS and came away with a handful of "WHY WOULD ANYONE THROW THAT OUT?" audio items. It's not everyday you see a PORCUPINE TREE seedy in a charity shop (they had others!). I also found BRIAN WILSON's 'comeback' live double album for 99p, as well as the RAVI (and ANOUSHKA) SHANKAR concert from the Carnegie Hall, a SHAWN COLVIN album I'd not seen before and yet another NORAH JONES (my easy listening flavour of the month?). I think I spent a total of just under twelve of your earth pounds, not including the bus fare...

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY... On the 28th October 1978, we saw YES at the Wembley Arena, "THE ONE WITH THE GIANT REVOLVING STAGE" (and all the tomatoes). It was recorded by the BBC and was broadcast in its entirety (well, nearly) on the first ever "FRIDAY ROCK SHOW", about a week later. EVERYBODY and his dog recorded it off the wireless and it became one of the the most widely distributed YES b***legs ever. But as I say, the broadcast was not the WHOLE thing, as it missed out "Future Days/Rejoice", the two little acoustic "Madrigal" snippets and Rick Wakeman's solo spot. When I eventually turned my ancient C120 into an MP3 disk sometime in the noughties, I inserted those missing tracks from "ANOTHER SOURCE". My own copy of the concert is therefore complete but highly variable in audio quality. Nevertheless, I was able to lie back in the dark and relive the whole thing in my own head on Friday evening... It was also 'ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY', on the 28th October 2003, that I went 'oop dzat Loondin' to see STEVE HACKETT and his rocking teenage combo at the QUEUEY-AITCH. Naturally, I made a day of it, so there were a few #ViewFromTheWalkies pix taken that day (Please note: I will NOT be going to see Hackett again this time around. I can't STAND that awful vocalist he employs now!)

This morning the clocks went back. Farewell silly BST-different-to-GMT. If I had my way, I would've left mine exactly where they were in the first place, on proper, standard EUROPEAN time, to protest against all this 'BREXIT' kablooey and wrongness. But I can see that would be a logistic nightmare... Hmm! no, wait a second...

Week from Monday 31st October 2016

TWITTER have now made it possible to squeeze more out of our favourite microblog's allocation of characters. Attached pictures or embedded links and quotes no longer get deducted from your total count. However, we don't have proper NESTED THREADS for conversations and comments, which means that the way they have implemented the new changes makes it even MORE difficult to follow 'WHO IS SAYING WHAT TO WHOM?'. Now the comments get listed on your own timeline completely independent of the posting that they are related to. Several times now, I have found myself repeating something because the person to whom I am 'talking' has missed an earlier reply. If a third person joins the chat, then things get even more disjointed VERY quickly. Okay, no one wants Twitter to turn into a Facebook clone, but even the lowliest blog or forum site these days can lay out a 'conversation' on the page so that you can follow the thread of what is being discussed (disgust).

So it's NOVEMBER now, and I'm still walking around town in a t-shirt. That can't be right, can it? The scorching sunshine and clear blue skies certainly bring out the best in the autumnal colours, don'tcha think? The SQUIRRELS are certainly thriving because of it. This morning, I'm sure there was at least one squirrel for every tree along the way, although these are not the TOURIST-TAME sort that you get in the parks in London or Brighton. They scamper away as soon as you approach. Again, it was amusing to watch the local cats trying their luck...

I went for an early walk into town (taking the 'scenic route' for some #ViewFromTheWalkies action) for my six-monthly LEECHING at the Health Centre. For the results of the blood test, I was instructed to "just give us a ring". That's not going to happen! Have YOU ever tried to phone an NHS number these days? THEY can call ME, if I NEED to know anything!

KING CRIMSON's "Tour Box 2016" has arrived from the BURNING SHED concern (who seemed amused when I referred to them as "THE COMBUSTIBLE SHACK PEOPLE"). I probably have most of the music contained on the Tour Boxes already (all those "HOT TICKLES"), but it's a matter of CONTEXT... to hear it all mixed up in a different order, with all the various KCrim line-ups juxtaposed in interesting ways, is what makes these things fascinating. Plus, of course, they are highly desirable and collectible ARTIFACTS!

DREAM DIARY... Backstage at a big festival... The last band (who looked and sounded suspiciously like Yes) have finished their set early, because of a technical fault which left half of the stage (only) blacked out and in silence... The audience are getting restless, so the DJ (called 'Hugh') plays on through the night. He wants to play something more 'adventurous' than his regular playlist, but I remind him that this is a rock festival, so his best bet would be to play lots of Rush at them... Meanwhile, in the hospitality 'tent' (a curiously permanent looking building, with several storeys and a lot of narrow winding stairs), the various band members just want to party. Someone gives me a load of jewellery to look after, so I hide it under a cushion, in a nook on the side of the stage... Someone is milling about at the party selling 'grits', whatever they're supposed to be... All this time, of course, I am eager to pack up the gear and go home...