Tuesday, January 29, 2008


My best friend Peach has tagged me to blog a list of seven things of which I approve. Now as she points out this is not the easiest exercise in the world, but I guess the randomness of it is part of the fun. So this is by no means a definitive list but rather the first seven things that came into my head (minus music which since this is really a music blog and not a "personal" blog as such I thought I would have a holiday from).

Did you know that the number seven has ancient and spiritual meaning far beyond its basic value as being one more than six. In the bible it was used on many occasions to signify special meaning. God created the earth in seven days because of this significance (not some literal event), something utterly lost on Creationists. The idea for and length of the week also came from these origins, rather than the other way round, in case you were wondering. The "clean" animals were loaded into the Ark in sevens as opposed to the "unclean" animals that were loaded in twos. Seventy times seven was thought of in much the same way that we think of infinity now, ie the biggest number possible rather than the more prosaic meaning of 490. Anyway, history lesson over, here beginneth the list:

1. Englishness - not some flag-waving nationalism mind you, but the concept of living and being in mainland England and the elements of character this implies. By it's very nature the English are a mongrel race and this is what I whole-heartedly approve of. The Angles after all were Germans and so, for that matter were the Saxons. Along the way we've acquired heritage and genes from the Scandinavians (Vikings, Norsemen), Italians (Romans), Celts and (god forbid) French (Normans) to name but a few. More recently you can add African and Indian influences to the melting pot and you come up with the thing that I call Englishness. I get the feeling that it's all to do with intelligent, itinerant, creative people coming here and then being beaten down by the weather, whilst simultaneously falling in love with the range of natural beauty we have here and creating the slightly curmudgeonly, highly original race that we are now. A land of real diversity.

Did you know that the UK's most popular dish - Chicken Tikka Massala - is an example of this hybrid culture... it's an English invention dontchaknow. Oh and did you also know that the Romans gave the Scots bagpipes and haggis (amongst other things). The less said about the Romans the better though.

2. Football - well actually all sport. It is after all the more civilised version of war and for that alone I endorse it. We cannot survive as humans without tests of strength and tribalism, and since I am utterly opposed to war, sport is the next best thing and should be encouraged as much as possible.

3. Scepticism - I have nothing against other peoples views, and I do not claim to know anything definitively. I cannot disprove the existence of aliens, fairies, the spirit world or god. But I know that I prefer to treat with them with a healthy dose of scepticism and don't believe it makes me any less an interesting person. I'm not even asking anyone else to follow my lead in this, I just know that I approve of that way of viewing the world, and that's about that.

4. Science Fiction - on the other hand I do like to take my brain on journeys through the extraordinary. I like to dream and I like to create worlds and stories in my head. I've read comics for as long as I could read, and now I enjoy Sci-Fi more than any other literature. I still long to climb into my spaceship, pick up my laser gun and crusade across the universe...


5. BMWs - by which I mean all purveyors of German sports cars.

6. Guns for Kids - at the risk of sounding a bit "they did me no harm" heere I'd like to vote for this one too.

When I was young a company called Airfix produced a small range of 3/4 size guns based on real weapons and quite clearly aimed (ha ha) at kids. They were must have items in my eyes and I spent my childhood running around the garden and the local streets and woods in a variety of para-military outfits shooting anyone that got in the way. Even at home I had a large collection of toy soldiers (from ho/oo & 1/32 scale figures to Action Man) with a bewildering range of authentic weaponary. In 1977 I swapped my lego Sten gun and cap guns for an Imperial Blaster and lightsabre, and carried on doing much the same.

In the Scouts I fired .22 rifles and pistols (real .22 guns, not air rifles mind, although we did shoot them too), I also had a 4 inch sheath knife and at least two other pen knives. I loved war comics and war films and even to this day I dream about stumbling across a new realistic arsenal in some imagined toy shop. In my mind I drove tanks, submarines, warships, jet fighters and death stars. I built forts and emplacements and drew the things I couldn't create on paper. I must have spent hours documenting and inventing these grisly scenarios and you know what...

...it didn't do me any harm.

7. Goths - they have the best clothes, get to wear make-up and bondage gear and listen to better than average music. They are all sweeties too. What's not to like?!

I think everyone I know has already been tagged, but just in case you haven't then I tag Cake and Nobby & Me.

Monday, January 28, 2008

First Gigs Of The Year

Thursday 31st January - The Montague Arms
289 Queens Road, New Cross SE15 2PA

Someone spotted that January has an extra Thursday this year, so the 2nd Thursday's crowd are back with the Unwrong Quiz Night, along with comedy, art and music (not necessarily in that order). Since all the yearly events (e.g. Christmas, Easter, etc...) are happening earlier and earlier every year, I thought I'd welcome the Summer with my summertime smash: It's Summertime

Sunday 3rd February - The Horn, St. Albans

A cheeky floorspot at the popular Sunday night in St. Albans. This time reprising It's Summertime with original bass player - Sean Watkins. Anyone fancy playing drums for us?! Lyric sheets will be available for a mass sing-a-long.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

CD Review: Picture Perfect / Vivid (Outfit Records)

I have a strange love/hate relationship with music. None more so than when handed a demo CD to listen too. I find it hard to do. But, of course, I should try to expand my musical vocabulary at all times and expose myself to all kinds of aural stimulation. So to that end I have decided to carefully listen to, and in fact review all the CDs I get given and here's where this will happen. Hopefully this exercise will be good for me and interesting for you... but I'm sure you'll let me know.

First up is Picture Perfect / Vivid. Now I came across this CD in central Croydon where the artist himself was selling his homemade CDs in the street. Now, I'm a sucker for an artist promoting himself so I bought a CD (£2) and vowed to listen. This was no easy task as this self-styled "mix-tape" is a daunting 20 tracks long!! Those who know me will understand that rap is hardly my forte, but I like to think I can enjoy anything good.

So what's good about the CD? Well it's certainly bombastic and in your face. You are never in any doubt who you are listening to as Vivid name-checks himself on almost every track. Actually that's something that other bands should take on board - especially live. I saw a really good Japanese band at the Hope And Anchor the other week, but they never mentioned their name and consequently I can't track their music down. The production is mixed, but mostly good without ever being special. (Btw, if you fancy hearing what I would think of as a special mix then check out Ride by A Mountain Of One - thanks for the tip Robin) It has the usual smattering of samples, some of which I couldn't place - a pitch shifted Elton John sample on Wonderful made me chuckle.

On the downside, it is very long. But I guess this kind of CD is for listening to at a banging house party where Bacardi and Red Stripe are flowing like water, with the bass turned up bowel-shakingly loud and the atmosphere hot and heavy. In which case it would probably go down well. Some of the lyrics are a bit "out there" - my favourite is "She wears my semen like Nivea face cream"!! In the end I've given it 3 out of 5, but really it should be 3.5 'cos there is one track that stuck out for me and that's Salute, which interestingly is the only track produced by Versa. Urgent strings, in your face drums and plaintive rapping make this the top track for me.

Okay, that's it for now, follow the links to check it for yourself:



3 out of 5

Next up, Rex Kwondo and my own remix of More Than Ever by Elite.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Normal Service Almost Resumed

I went up The Horn again the other night to see the eclectic Astral Gurus play and was happy to bump into Sean and Bill. Sean used to be the bass player in a band called Normal for which I was the second guitarist. When I left, Bill took over. Sometime after this the lead singer and creative driving force behind Normal - Stevie Simmons - died of a brain tumour. It was a sad and traumatic loss at the time and came in the midst of one of the worse periods of my life. Fortunately things have improved since then and I'm glad that Sean and I have stayed in touch. In fact Sean collaborated with me on my summertime anthem - It's Summertime - which failed to trouble the competition judges at XFM, but is now the biggest download from my website!! We have vowed to reprieve it for a live performance at The Horn in the next couple of weeks.

On top of this, Bill has an unfinished Normal song on his multitrack recorder. He's keen to finish it as a tribute to Stevie and this is a great chance for me to wheel out my electric guitar for a change. I'm looking forward to working on that too.

One last piece of news is that I have the next track in my remixing series to work on, and it's a cracker. I'm really looking forward to getting to grips with it towards the end of the week. Btw, if you are an artist looking for a re-mix of a demo, please do get in touch.

More very soon,


Sunday, January 06, 2008

DARE1 - L'echarpe Perdu

It has long been a desire of mine to enter the world of mixing and production, so to this end I have approached some friends of mine with the offer of a free re-mix for one of their songs. This is to provide me with items for my portfolio and to get valuable experience in a range of music and styles. It also gives me a great opportunity to share some music with you which I am fond of, but which is not mine.

First up is a really charming song by the name of L'echarpe Perdu (I believe it means the lost scarf, but I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong) by Fit and the Conniptions (otherwise known as Wayne Myers. When I listened to his original mix I was really struck by the chorus and even though this is a very short song I felt it had potential. One happy accident is that Wayne forgot to send the drum track through originally, and I realised that it had a really good feel without it. So I left the drums to come in later and let the song build more gradually. I loved the simple harmonies on the chorus and enjoyed layering these up and then adding some 70s style strings to build the end. It's only a mere 2 minutes and 13 seconds, but I believe it's perfectly formed (I mean the song rather than my mix).

Please take a listen and let me have your thoughts. If you know of anyone who would like a track mixing or some help with producing a demo please get in touch. I am looking to do one or more tracks for free, and then a few at reduced rates to help gain experience.


L'Echarpe Perdu - Fit And The Conniptions - 2'13

Thursday, January 03, 2008


May I wish all my readers and friends a very happy and prosperous 2008! My 40th year, dontcha know?!

Normal service will be resumed next week, but look out for new songs and re-mixes of some of my friends material as I develop my production and re-mixing skills.

Lots of love,