Sunday, July 30, 2006

An Effervescing Elephant with tiny eyes and great big trunk

Sorry for all that Jam ranting below , I know there are lot more important things happening in the world at the moment but sometimes you have to get certain things off your chest. I forgot to mention a new blog I started that I am going to try and regularly update. It's all about songs that are my favourites and I never get bored of hearing, the ones on my mp3 player in the car that I never skip over , instead I turn the volume right up and sing along to. If you want to have a look it can be found here...stephen's favourite songs snappy title, eh? Also forgot to mention another great uplifting to the clouds kind of pop single out at the moment by a band called The Legendsthe song is "Lucky Star" and is 2.10 of the kind of synth pop greatness not heard around here since The Big Scientists or They Go Boom!! packed their synths away. Think unbelievably catchy. Have a listen here Lucky Star. Thanks to Tom at for that one.

The Syd quote at the start is there because I tried to get my daughter to listen to some Syd Barrett songs this afternoon but she was having none of it,not even Effervescing Elephant. Give her time though , she's not three yet.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Life is timeless, days are long when you're young
You used to fall in love with everyone

The Jam were the best band ever as far as I was concerned , between 1979 and 1982 all I really wanted to do was listen to the Jam, talk about the Jam and pretend I could be in a band like them. The first record I bought by them was Eton Rifles, it was a really shiny glossy cover, bought at Binns in Darlington. When I got home I just played it over and over again. I became a Mod, well I had a fake green Parka with Jam badges on it, I bought loads of button badges from a Darlo market stall nearly every Saturday. I joined the jam fan club that was run by Paul Weller's sister and mother.

I began to collect everything they ever released. Luckily after the success of Going Underground, they decided to re-release all of the 7" singles, so I managed to get them all. I still wasn't a l.p. buyer, they were for grown up's and old fogeys! I finally succumbed when Sound Affects was released , it was the first l.p. I bought, I can still remember buying it from Woolworths down the town, going into the recreation centre to have a few goes on the Space Invaders which I was shit at , my dad walked past the window of the recreation centre and told me to "get home and stop wasting money on those machines". Which I did and I listened all night to songs that are still favourites and no song will ever make me feel like those songs did on a cold possibly november night back in 1980.

I was in love. It was time to start collect all their l.p.'s. Foolishly buying the first two on a cassette from Dowsons in Shildon, which was also the shop that I bought Start! from, I remember it was a sunny day and the shop was quite a hike from my Grandma's, but on the off chance that they had it I was going to risk the long walk. I can remember a lot of the days that I bought my Jam records, Going Underground was one Saturday morning, me Peter McIver (my best friend at the time and whom I formed my first band with, we called ourselves Top Brass, we only recorded one song , the classic "Janice Pearson is a piss pot" (sorry Janice but you did two time us!) strangely enough Peter's sister Marie lives next door to my ex-wife,I should add that Peter's favourite band were Blondie,I'm sure he'd want you to know that). Back to Going Underground, me Peter, Michael Farncombe and John McGlade were off to the baths and I called into Rumbelows to see if thay had it, they did but only the single 7" version, (it was also releasd as a limited edition double 7" with a live e.p.) I still bought it but then proceeded to try and sell it on the way home after we'd been swimming to Donna Mawson, but she wasn't interested.Absolute Beginners was a rainy night after school , I shot down the town on my little sisters Raleigh Strika to get it with the limited insert, from Woolworths again. The Bitterest Pill was bought one morning after I had been to the dentist, it cheered me up after the filling but then I had to go back to school on the afternoon. I don't remember the day I bought Beat Surrender , I was probably too upset with them for splitting up, I do remember listening to all those songs and lving them all, Lesley Watson the mod girl next door who had a real proper parka, could never understand why I loved the jazz tinged "Shopping" the best.

The split up of the Jam also caused me to commit my one and only act of vandalism, it was after the last school disco I ever went to, there was quite a lot of Jam fans at school and on the way home we ran from our school through Hallington Head and up to Fewston Close, calling in at Stocks Green, shaking all the lamposts until they went out and singing "Move on up towards your destination You may find from time to time complications ". we were pissed off but glad that the police never caught us. So why am I writing what must be my longest blog yet? Last Friday I went to see the Gift at the Cumby Arms in Hieghington , which is no more than a 10 minute drive from where I live. The name of the drummer with the Gift is Rick Buckler and his new band so far just do Jam songs, I couldn't believe I was less than a 100 feet from the man who was one third of my favouite band. It annoys me when wankers like Paulo Hewitt go on about Paul Weller being the Jam, as far as I remember there was always three people in the Jam, Weller didn't write the drum parts or all the bass parts, Bruce Foxton and Rick made them what they were as much as Weller did, but the people who write the history of the Jam and Weller whitewash over that. I have nothing against Paul Weller , I really did love the Style Council aswell, they were the first band I ever saw live and I like some of his solo stuff too. Now what gets on my tits is Weller and those who lick his boots saying it dreadful that Rick is going around playing Jam songs in a covers band, how is it a covers band? He was in the Jam who originally wrote the songs! Is Weller a cover artist everytime he plays a Jam song at one of his gigs? Is this a valid argument? I don't know , I enjoyed myself last Friday night and I thought they were brilliant, and it's the nearest I will ever get to seeing the Jam live.The Jam are the only band I ever wanted to see get back together but it will never happen. Mind I was expecting to see a couple more Newton Aycliffe Jam diciples in the audience like Jonathan Hogan and Mark Morgan , who I was in a band with for one summer afternoon, (they were called The Solution) only because I had a guitar and amp, I couldn't play, I'm still not that good. We used to test each other at school reciting Jam lyrics to see who knew the most, I wonder if the kids at school today do that with songs by ........... insert the name a popular beat combo of 2006, I don't know any.

The only new band I can think of that I like at the moment are the Pipettes, I'm old fart who listens to radio 2 most of the day at work, and everytime I hear the start of "Pull Shapes", it lifts my spirits like no other song can at the minute. I'm contemplating buying the LP/CD but then the 14 year old in me jumps up and says just buy the single, but it's probably only available on CD single and that will be £3.99 so I might aswell buy the LP/CD, aaarrrgghhh. Sometimes I do wish the 7" was the only format you were ever allowed to release songs on.

I finally finished a couple of Northern_Electrix songs, and have inflicted or rather sent out copies to friends and labels for possible
comments and criticism. So apologies to all of you who have no doubt recieved it by now without even a slight warning it was coming your way. The cover was my attempt at trying to do something like Cornelius did on the back of his Fantasma record, playing all the instruments himself and looking rather cool too, but it didn't really work for me, as you can see by the picture on the left.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Needed to write something about what is at the moment my favourite song of the year even though it may have been released last year, it's by a band I used to love years ago The Bats, looks like they got back together to record another l.p. and it's like they've never been away. The first song on it "Western Isles"is enough for me, it just breezes in through the window, cooling me down on this lazy hot summer night, ( it's like 1976 all over again). Studio banter in songs always score top marks with me, as do gorgeous acoustic guitars, That never faltering voice of Robert Scott's is great to hear again and there are just not enough of those occassional bo-bo-boo's supplied by Kaye Woodward , they really really are dreamy. This album has more that it's fair share of magnificent moments on it ,I don't really want to spoil the surprise, I urge you to buy "At the National Grid" from Egg Records of Glasgow, Scotland. Now! Apart from falling in love with this album , I finally got around to sending Jyoti and Marc a DVD of our knock out performance in Nottingham back in 1992. Jyoti wore a suit , Marc wore a big hat and I kept my back to the audience. Once I figure out how to cut the gig into song segments I'll post them up on You Tube .You never know someone might want to watch them.