Tuesday, February 20, 2018

discover Sheffield


a peculiarity or quirk to the way i look at things can be illustrated whenever the word Sheffield is mentioned to me, look you see. possibly. this is, but of course, all about word (or name) association, to be sure.

when one hears the word Sheffield there are all sorts of things that come to mind. steel, for sure, is undoubtedly a common thought. Owls or Blades too, or if you like Wednesday or United. it is entirely possible that some may consider Joe Cocker, where others might quite like to think of Pulp in general or Jarvis Cocker in particular, overlooking or excluding of course his unfortunate earlier celebration of Sir Jimmy Savile esq.

for me the term Sheffield makes me instantaneously, or quickly, consider the Sheffield Shield. this, or that, as you hardly need me to say, is the premier domestic cricket tournament held in Australia.

with this somewhat, or at the least partially in mind, i elected to travel to Sheffield, then. mostly of my own accord, or at least for compelling reason with the course of the journey being my own choosing. this was all in the early stages of January, or if you will about a month ago, or a month prior to me publishing this account.

my experience of Sheffield was, i confess, limited to one, maybe two train platforms at the train station there. if it so happens to be that Sheffield has more than one train station, well then to clarify it was the one which is just called Sheffield, as you can see in the boss selfie above.

if you have ever spent any quality time at a train station then you will surely know that they don't really "do" word association or any other such celebration of the area. whilst hardly all no-nonsense and just down to business, it is true that the remit of a train station is to enable people to get on and get off the correct trains. if they spent time asking people "what do you think about when you hear our name" then i dare say, speculate even, that they would be taken to task and admonished for not having sufficient focus on train processes and procedures.

but, still, some effort and work is made. the above was made visible to members of the public who happened to be on the relevant platform. this is some wood which was found washed up after the terrible flooding experienced at the station on December 21 1991.

one, i hope and bravely trust, would really hope that no such flooding had ever occurred. but, it did, and it was in this context and this sense a lovely gesture that the proprietors, custodians and managers of the train station made no attempt to shy away from or otherwise try to deny history.

as an accidental, and indeed brief, visitor to Sheffield i did, as it so happens, find this quick glance and look at some of the history of the place interesting and fascinating.

did i explore or look at any other areas of Sheffield? no. this was not for any aversion to the place, please note. it was just a case of me being very much "in transit". with this in mind, there was no practical way to leave the station with the time i had between trains.

would i one day consider a return to Sheffield? perhaps to specifically see that place alone, and indeed discover it as the misleading title of this post suggested? undoubtedly yes, i would. but for now, though, i suppose this shall do.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

random bowie - the buddha of suburbia

Howdy Pop Pickers

By my reckoning this is edition, or if you like episode, 14 of my current “Random Bowie” series, then. That’s a guestimate on me doing one a month since January 2017, look you see. Now is the time, in football commentary parlance, to “mix it up” a bit and do an album which is not an official David Bowie album, despite it arguably (if not plain quite clearly) being “the most David Bowie album” ever to exist. Yes, his second release of 1993 is the topic here, The Buddha Of Suburbia.

Quick fire, fantastic facts? Well, sure. According to the commonly agreed, standard way of counting them, this record is not an official David Bowie studio album. It was classified as an “original soundtrack” release, and so apparently does not get counted in his list of solo records. This, ladies and gentlemen, is despite only the titular song of the record actually appearing on the soundtrack for the TV adaptation of the novel from where the name comes. But we will get to that.

This record came out in late 1993, not too long after the celebrated Black Tie White Noise. Having released no new solo material in his own name since 1987, I suppose you could say “how very David Bowie” of him to release two albums of new recordings in the same year. With The Buddha Of Suburbia, however, there was none of the marketing or advertising budget that graced the launch of Black Tie White Noise. It’s close to 25 years later, but from what I remember the only reason I knew of this one existing at the time was a “mention its release in passing” sort of column filler note in one edition of NME.

So, we have a relatively obscure release, not classified as a Bowie solo album, put out in the shadow of a celebrated and well publicised release by the same artist. One song, again the titular track, was released as a single, and for a number of reasons that single did not do so well at all. If we add in that the TV series it ostensibly suggested it was a soundtrack for wasn’t widely watched and is seldom referenced in the present day, why bother with this record? Because of the record.

I am aware that one or two people do regard this as their favourite Bowie album. One person in particular spoke passionately about it in that “i” newspaper, the one what I think is all that is left of the Independent. For me it would be a but precious to say it’s my personal favourite, but it would be in my top five. No, I have no idea what my all time favourite Bowie album is.

To the best of my knowledge I’ve only been told off for two things across these Random Bowie posts. That was for not “tagging” the posts so people could see them all (fixed) and for sometimes not really looking at the actual music on the album being discussed (partially fixed). So let me start with the latter, then.

Rather surprisingly this album was not described by critics as “his best and most important work since Scary Monsters”. That, mostly, is because it was an album that didn’t get reviewed on release. Bowie is quoted as saying he is only aware of one review from the time. I suspect there were more, but then again not exceeding a handful. The low budget and no marketing might well have meant that review copies weren’t ever actually sent out.

How best to describe the music? I quite like describing it as The Bowie Bridge. For me, at least, the record does an astonishing, and perhaps accidental, job of seamlessly blending Bowie’s more accessible, commercial sound with his more creative, exploratory and challenging works. In this, it echoes Low and “heroes” with a combination of sensational “standard” songs and thought provoking instrumental work.

To start with the easiest listening, then. The title song is a classic Bowie single. Whilst efforts were made to promote it as such, they were doomed to fail. In his two biggest markets, the UK and the USA, it simply didn’t get aired. There was reluctance to play it on radio or TV in the UK due to David swearing in the song (the brilliant line “can’t tell the bullsh!t from the lies”), whilst in the USA all and sundry refused to broadcast the video because it featured Bowie smoking a cigarette.

In terms of the song, it features twice here. Firstly in its original format (and indeed the only song on the soundtrack album that was actually on the soundtrack of the TV series), and then at the end with a certain Lenny Kravitz (as in the Lenny Kravitz) doing the guitar. It’s an affectionate and sentimental song, revealing Bowie’s passion for his London origins. For me it’s probably second only to Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks in terms of being the greatest love letter a pop star ever wrote for London. As in, when you hear it, a little part of you wishes you were born and raised in London so that you could feel the sense of love the song evokes anyway.

You might be surprised to learn, here in 2018, that the above were barriers to playing a David Bowie song. 1993 was different. Bowie’s stock was, perhaps, at its lowest. No solo material for 6 years, the 1990 Sound & Vision greatest hits shenanigans was interpreted as a bowing out retirement and the lack of love for Tin Machine meant that he was simply not a “big name” any more. It is hard to imagine now, but yes, the range of artists working and releasing in the early 90s meant that the music industry could indeed simply dismiss Bowie as something of a “has been”.

One of my all time favourite Bowie songs (of all time, in a Smashie and Nicey follow up voice) is on this album. That would be Strangers When We Meet. I remember clearly the first time my CD got to this track. Whatever I was doing as I listened (probably writing a letter to someone), when this came on my ears immediately perked up as it sounded special from the start. After that it got very special indeed. It’s just beautiful. Here, on the album, in its original form, it is amazing. Bowie clearly loved it too, as he “saved” it from being entirely overlooked – a slower tempo re-recording features as the last track of Outside, and was released as a single. David Bowie wanted the world to hear this wonderful song, and he was quite right to push it in that direction.

There’s not a bad song, then. From the energetic Dead Against It to the enigmatic Bleed Like A Craze, Dad, they are all strong and successful songs – yes, perhaps the best he had done in a long, long time.

One of the most interesting things about the songs on The Buddha Of Suburbia is how much of them "reference", or if you like "borrow" or if we are honest "steal" from moments in his career. There are one or two blatant examples, but mostly David took from rather more obscure tunes. Easter Eggs for the fans, maybe, or perhaps him highlighting songs he wanted to be heard.

With respect to the above point, I really would not wish to spoil the Easter Egg hunt. To give you one clue, then, yes - the last part of the title track, The Buddha Of Suburbia, does indeed sound very much like the end of All The Madmen from The Man Who Sold The World. But go, have fun finding all the other references.

In some instances the lyrics are there because, in sort of his own words, Bowie simply liked the sound of them. A case in point, or if you like example, would be the quasi raunchy Sex And The Church, where the only words sung are (as far as I can work out) the title.

Of the three ostensible instrumentals, well, I am reluctant to stamp any sort of comment, let alone interpretation on them. My view would be it is better for you, everyone, to listen to them and explore them for yourself. At face value they are works of music that Bowie liked the sound of, leaving them open to interpretation by the audience. Yes, for me they are excellent works. For those reluctant to explore albums that have a complex and heavy reputation – Low, for instance – they show that such works are accessible and never short of interesting. All I can add is a bit of trivia. One of the instrumentals is called Ian Fish, UK Heir. No, there is no character called Ian Fish in The Buddha Of Suburbia – the title is an anagram of Hanif Kureishi, the author of the novel.

I take my hat off to Hanif Kureishi, then. Not everyone over the years impressed, or made that much of an impression on, David Bowie to the extent that they were given a positive namecheck in song.

The music alone, to me, makes The Buddha Of Suburbia an essential to hear and own David Bowie album and I simply do not care that it is not classified as an official David Bowie album. Oddly, though, that’s not even the true goldmine of this release, at least not for many. Instead, the most priceless aspect of this record is the linear notes that came with some versions.

My understanding – mostly from the linear notes looked at just now – is that the songs on The Buddha Of Suburbia are composed from the actual soundtrack Bowie composed and contributed to the TV show. Thus far the actual soundtrack, as in the music which appeared on the show, has not been released. Which makes it all the more baffling that this record is classified as the “original soundtrack”.

In other posts I’ve commented on why we didn’t ever get a David Bowie autobiography. To recap, his expressed view was that anyone remotely interested should just look at the many unofficial and unauthorized biographies, find the one that they found the most interesting or appealing, assume that it was true and just get on with their lives. And yet here, in the linear notes, we get an astonishing, unprompted and unsolicited essay from Bowie that has him giving us, the simple fans, an incredible insight into his passions, the way he works and the way he feels about certain things. Or felt, at the least, in 1993.

For some reason various releases of The Buddha Of Suburbia over the years have dropped this essay. Bizarre, and to counter that I have previously scanned it all in and added it to this blog. Should I remember to do so when I edit and publish, the link to those scans should be somewhere around here. They are well worth your time reading.

Earlier I mentioned the idea that this album was The Bowie Bridge. I think I stand by that. There are many, a generation or two different from mine, who are coming to Bowie and starting to discover his work. Embracing this record is indeed the bridge which crosses over from quite liking most if not all of his well known stuff to discovering, loving and embracing the many, many hidden gems which are all across his work. By no means is this a clear cut measurement, but I would humbly suggest that if your only exposure to Bowie so far stands as the “greatest hits” sets, try this. If you like what you hear, well, then, you are in for an amazing voyage of discovery with the rest of his work. A journey I so wish I could take for the first time again, as much as I love simply going down the familiar paths of it.

So yes, in conclusion, I say that The Buddha Of Suburbia is an essential David Bowie album, irrespective of the fact that it is not officially classified as one of his releases. I say it is one of the most David Bowie records to ever exist because he says so. Whenever he made reference to it, he was always frustrated that it didn’t get heard by a wider audience. No, not frustrated – sad, upset even. He clearly had a lot of personal passion and pride in this recording.

What do I hope for with these Random Bowie posts? I was never sure until now. If just one person goes off from this, finds The Buddha Of Suburbia, listens to it and says “that was 50 minutes of music I have thoroughly enjoyed”, well then there’s one good thing I have done for someone in this life, or the next. At the risk of sounding like a tabloid journalist or “clickbait” specialist, it really is likely that, for many, The Buddha Of Suburbia is the best Bowie album they’ve never heard of.

No, as usual I have no idea what the next episode will be, but I will do all that I can to ensure it appears next month. And, of course, is “tagged” and features some comments on the actual music…….

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

selective dates consideration

hey there

many thanks as ever for stopping by. although i don't profit or make money off of this - often it in fact costs me to do it all, look you see - to know that a fair few people pop past to see what nonsense i have come up with now generally does my heart good.

perhaps to dismiss what i do as simply nonsense is a bit harsh. well, now that i think, actually a fair bit of it is, but fun and "good" nonsense, at the least. such as when i get an idea in my head along the lines of how stuff other than the standard - wine in particular - can have a particular vintage.

yes, that is a bottle of milk (not proper milk, but still milk in name) with a best before or use by date of 18 February. which, i think you might find, is tomorrow. this, despite the lack of proper in its nature, makes it, to me, a most splendid vintage of milk. or manufacture date, if not vintage then. no, i don't think there are many who have cellars of milk like some have wine.

why is it not proper milk? because it is "semi skimmed". i have no actual idea how they make it, but to me it feels and tastes as though all they have done is water down proper, no nonsense full cream milk. semi-skimmed is a relatively new term; once it was called "2% fat" milk. now, i do not know this as fact, but a mate of mine once told me that they had to ditch that for being misleading. according to my mate it was rather the case that such milk had 2% less fat than proper, full cream milk, rather than being 2% of the fat of full cream, as it suggested.

for most, i suppose, milk is very much milk. this is to say that so long as it is in date then it probably just tastes as it should no matter when you purchase and consume it. consume or do whatever you will with it, true. i disagree. the finest of milk what i have experienced invariably comes in the early stages of any given year, with a "best before" given as the 18th of February being the finest of the best.

that's some New Zealand milk, probably also this semi-skimmed or ultra watered down business. indeed, my sister took the picture and sent it on. although she may not agree with me on the details of milk being finer at certain times of the year, at the least she appreciates that i consider such as important.

what makes it so special? to know this would be to engage and defeat one of those many great mysteries of life. and to do that would be foolish, for life would be hollow without such grounds for speculation. it just is, then, because i said so.

no, of course this phenomenon is not limited to milk alone. pictured above are some croissants, which are also advised to be best before 18 February. best i get them eaten before that date.

i know what many of you are thinking, and yes, quite. croissants really do go to prove that no nation, or "culture", or nation with a lack of culture or variation thereof, is a complete and total write off. but, yes, indeed, usually you are better off / safer purchasing and eating croissants from places other than the country what reckons they invented them. must have done it between surrenders and mouthing off threats that everyone knows they cannot back up, presumably.

just what is the difference between a "best before" and a "use by" date? pretty much as it reads. a "best before" means that the product will be fine to use after the date, but quality cannot be assured. in fact, quality and experience are likely to diminish with each passing day after the one indicated. when it comes to "use by", that's them pretty much saying do not contemplate touching the item after that date. bad things are likely to happen if you do.

is it true that if, look you see, you are Welsh and you take a selfie it is called taking a "Welshie"? sort of, yes. i mean, you can, to be sure, call it that if you want under such circumstances and not cause offence or upset, but there is no law or moral pressure which compels you to do so.

right, then, i believe that's us all done with this post. i am, at the least, and thus so are you, for there is nothing else here to read.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

of things assumption and perception

hi there

if for some reason you were to ask people what airline companies lead the way in the answer would be, look you see, not good. travel by air is no longer as glamorous, interesting or pleasurable as it once was. it is now, to be sure, a miserable and depressing experience, with airlines seemingly keen to see who can give the poorest level of service possible.

this is a shame for a number of reasons. for one, for sure, flying used to be fun. but we are not here to lament it no longer being so. no, instead this is all how rubbish service has overshadowed the fact that, often, airlines lead the way in cutting costs via rather simple, effective, maybe innovative and at first sight ingenious ways.

every now and then someone makes a suggestion of a minor change to save costs or resources. when so, the perception is that if it is so small it will make no difference, and thus the assumption is there is little point. fascinating things happen, though, when you cross these two things off the list and do it.

indeed yes, i was in a hotel recently. more than one, but that is another story. as is fairly standard for hotels, some complimentary tea and coffee was provided, along with a couple of chalice like mugs from which one may drink them.

the observant of you will have, erm, observed that the two cups are made by the same firm or artist, yet the name and sort of logo is different on each. to wit, one is smaller than the other, or one is bigger than the other, depending on how you look at the world in general.

a number of reasons could be offered for the difference. the mugs seemed identical, though, so it would be unlikely to be for differentiating between styles. maybe the company wanted a change, perhaps there was a mix up. most likely, though, they worked out that a slightly smaller logo would use less ink, and save lots of money.

yes, indeed, a break of sorts for another selfie. this was a quickly taken one, as i was in somewhat of a rush to catch up with some chaps i was out and about with. not in the Spiros was of short term friendships, i hasten to add. no way could i go past Rough Trade, they of record label what done The Smiths and that, and not take a picture.

so, airlines. they have a really, really good track record for making slight, often so small that no one notices changes which deliver huge savings. yes, this is all when they are not actively seeking to make life as miserable and uncomfortable as possible for their customers. here, in some rather pretty colours (colors if American), are some examples.....

removing one olive from salads saves about $50,000 a year

lighter paper for inflight magazines saves thousands of gallons of jet fuel

reducing weight of meal cuts fuel usage levels

i reckon three will do for you for now, won't it? there are loads more examples, but i have no idea if you are all that interested. a search engine such as the google is your friend if you want to see more.

what's the point i am trying or hoping to make here? don't know for sure, really, i just found this interesting. and it is not like i am usually prone to being all that interested in geek or nerd like stuff.

perhaps the point is that you shouldn't let perception dictate your assumption. if you see a change being so small that it surely couldn't make a difference, do not automatically assume that it won't. from the acorn comes the tree, and all that stuff, etc.

will such cost cutting measures or savings allow airlines to once again offer a decent, comfortable or at least bearable service to passengers and customers? highly doubtful. that particularly genie is out of the lamp, i fear. we now have, after all, a generation of flyers who have no idea that, once, it was a pleasure to fly on a plane. for what reason, then, would the airlines waste time and money giving people the service they paid for?

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

is this the real life, is this just fantasy


overall, and this might have an answer by the time i publish it, the conclusion of this is that it's splendid to know that people can be made to guess in this day and age.

we do, look you see, live in a time when secrets are tricky, in particular when it comes to making entertainment and arts. oh, sure, you could pull off a secret album if you were David Bowie, or some new songs if you are The Stone Roses, but everyone else not so much, look you see.

this makes it wonderful that we've had a trailer for what would ostensibly be a fourth 'Crocodile' Dundee movie, but no one is sure if it is real or a wind up.

for the most part, like many others, the first i knew of a revival of the film what made Paul Hogan famous worldwide (he was loved and cherished in Australia for a good decade before) was a story in the news questioning whether or not this was real.

a trailer had come out of nowhere. not just any trailer, mind. one that looks particularly clumsy, amateruish maybe and like it had "joke parody not a real film" written wide all over it. should this turn out to be an elaborate hoax, well someone has gone to a lot of time and money over it.

yes of course there is an official site for this film, whether it is real or not. here, in Australian Gold, is the link to the site for the Dundee Movie.  except it won't seem Australian Gold, or even canary yellow, if you have visited the site before.

plot? someone called Danny McBride plays Brian Dundee, the illegitimate son of 'Croc' Dundee. for some reason 'Crocodile' has gone missing in the Australian Outback (again) (and in fairness it is bloody massive) and for some reason it's left to Brian to go look for him. as in, for Brian to leave America, head to Australia and look for him.

those doubting the authenticity of this being an actual film cite a continuity error as a clue to the false ways. in the third film, the sadly overlooked quite good 'Crocodile' Dundee In Los Angeles, he does indeed have a son. his name, to be sure, is Mikey, not Brian.

i am led to believe this Danny McBride fellow is rather popular amongst the younger generation. the fact that i've never heard of him is not saying much; i am not down with what the kids dig. but sneaking him off to make a film with no reports is impressive, should all this be true.

also - and this could be someone playing along with an elaborate hoax - word is that Paul Hogan mentioned he was indeed making a new 'Crocodile' Dundee film. but, in fairness, he has been saying that he would like to make one for, say, 25 years or so.

would i be interested in a new 'Crocodile' Dundee film? yes and no. i mean, surely, everyone who saw the original one, indeed two, hold the movie(s) dear. from what i remember when they showed the first one on the tele here in England one Christmas Day it set a record for the most watched thing ever to be broadcast on December 25, ever.

but no, not really if the performance of Danny McBride in the trailer is a sign of what we can all expect. should that be a sample of his acting - i hope it isn't - then it will either be dire, or simply a p!sstake of someone that many of us love.

this all broke in mid-January, but i am shoving it out there mid-February. perhaps the truth of this has been revealed by now. if so, maybe i will remember to update. if it is still a mystery as to whether or not this is a real film, well then splendid work marketing people types.

fair dinkum, me cobbers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

more snow


no, this is not recent. these images, and indeed the video, hail from those days of the third week of the first month of this year. i have, look you see, become quite excited about scheduling posts in advance, and this just so happens to be the first gap what i have to do something.

yes, probably. if something urgent came up i would mess with the schedule to include it a good deal sooner. to my mind, though, there is no shortage of snow related pictures and videos here, and thus no rush.

quite, yes, oh indeed. if i simply must place pictures of snow here i do appreciate, to be sure, that you would much prefer it to be images of the 75% of my family that you prefer over to me. well, toughies. other than i being the only one out in it, this is new year, new me. you can all just start learning to like me. not much to ask, i would have thought, since you are on my blog and that.

strangely as i write this the snow which commenced as i took the pictures had just begun. it was all nice and light at first, with the nice aspect being that it was not laying and staying. this has now changed somewhat. cripes, for it is inevitable and unavoidable that i must be out driving in it tomorrow. with good fortune it shall have cleared, then. a good start for this would be if it would stop snowing, which at the moment seems not to be the case.

that there above, if you have not been brave enough to simply click and watch, is a video of the snow falling. about ten seconds or so, i think, and all just for your entertainment.

despite being home for several (over four) years, no, i would not describe myself as used to, happy or comfortable with the stuff. probably silly, really. it's just disruptive and scary. i suppose there are a lot worse things i could do than be fearful of it, and i must remember that people who drive in it are not quite of the nature to drive as lunatics and maniacs as was the case on the streets of dear old Jozi.

can you even see the snow in these pictures, i wonder? my suspicion is no, but perhaps you have better eyes. anyway, you can see me in them, and that is splendid. worst case is that you don't like snow and you don't like me, so same difference.

what would be most splendid is if this is the last post on snow for a while. should it be that there is no more to report on until, say, November or December, well then so much the better. actually, even better would be if it could all just stay away until this time next year.

for now, then,

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, February 09, 2018

first day after day of release for the year, kind of

howdy pop pickers

so a  new year, new music, look you see. here we are into February, so to speak, and it is only now that an album, or if you like record, has caught my attention enough to go and purchase it on or around (actually around) its day of release. even then, to be sure, it is not strictly the first record i've paid for thus far in 2018, but we will get to that.

what record did i pick up? just, for the record, one day after it was made available to the public for sale, but that i did not purchase at HMV? it was, is, Walk Between Worlds by Simple Minds. a record i am assured is their 20th studio album.

how i came to learn that Simple Minds had a new album out is a story which may or may not be of interest to some of you. for reasons i am unable to disclose in full i've heard, or been exposed to, a good deal more of BBC Radio 2 than would be normal. they made a presumably advance copy of this record their "album of the week", and played a track a day from it.  as two of the songs from what they played sounded good - Magic, which i believe is the quasi "lead single" in this era where singles no longer exist, and the title track Walk Between Worlds - i figured it was worth a purchase.

this "figuring" of mine, if you like, has proven to be astute and a quality move. here on this standard edition of the album, for where i bought it did not have the "deluxe", you've got eight songs stretching over about forty minutes. they are all splendid, and the album flows really well.

well, with a short and sweet, to the point and for those of you in a rush review all over and done with in the last paragraph i guess i am free to ramble on a bit here. yes, i will try and touch on some of the actual album - although you've had an account of the quality of two of the songs - but let my writing wander around a bit.

i am pretty sure, quitely confident in fact, that this is the first full on studio album i have bought by Simple Minds in 29 years. that would have been Street Fighting Years; the record which is home to the superb Belfast Child. after that, i would think my only direct Simple Minds purchase would have been Glittering Prize; being as it is the first of many "greatest hits" things.

no, hang on. last year, i think, i bought that Acoustic album off of them. don't think that counts as an actual "studio album", though, as rather than new songs recorded on it the album was (very good) acoustic reinterpretations of some of their more celebrated songs. hence the record being called what it was.

any particular reason for such a sporadic gap between Simple Minds purchases? not really. just, i suppose, that none of their stuff over the years has sounded like something i would like. also, Jim Kerr chased me and quite a few other fans off in the early 90s when he went all preachy, with Simple Minds concerts being less All The Things She Said, more All The Things Jim Kerr Thinks Is Wrong With The World. in terms of being preachy, lecturing and all holier than thou, Jim Kerr was the "actual" to what people assumed Bono was with such.

make no mistake - i like Simple Minds, a lot. yes, i stand by a post from 9 (or so) years ago, where i felt that Once Upon A Time was one of the best albums of the 80s, and could perhaps have been the best if the band had agreed to allow (Don't You) Forget About Me be on it.  the band took a while to accept that the fans love it and that this was worth more than the fact that the band didn't really like it. good that they did, and splendid to see them give a huge thanks to all the fans in the linear notes what come with Walk Between Worlds.

yes, sure, i will get around to discussing the music on the new album in a bit.

what's that above? strictly speaking that is my first music purchase of 2018, although i won't actually get it until the first week of April. or thereabouts. no, i absolutely could not resist, so to speak, the idea of owning the new Manic Street Preachers album, Resistance Is Futile, on cassette. if the band so wish to release in that much treasured and often forgotten format, nice one.

provenance of my copy of Walk Between Worlds by Simple Minds, to somewhat get this back on point? not HMV as would be usual, but Morrisons. i knew i had a £5 voucher due off of them, so along i went to get that. with that, then, the record only cost me £5. which is nice. everyone needs to save pennies, after all.

how come i had a voucher on the way? their ingenious "reward" system for customers. if you spend £1,000 (yes, one thousand) you get enough points to get a £5 voucher. but yes, i would imagine if you are still reading this you may harbour hopes of me speaking of the actual album, rather than moments from the career of Simple Minds, where i bought this record and other stuff.

so, yes, i think - after a couple of plays and the album proper on top of the radio preview - Walk Between Worlds is a pretty good album. why? well, mostly because it sounds good. the tone is an interesting one. bar the tail end of the final song, Sense Of Discovery, which (ahem) "echoes" Alive And Kicking, the record does not rely on sounding like their familiar stuff to reach an audience. nor does it, i will have you know, come across like some sort of "new" or "modern" style in an effort to appeal to the kids of today.

there's an elegant, polished quality to the sounds of the music. it is neither restrained nor particularly challenging or difficult - it just simply sounds good. this is not a crime at all. one big plus - and this is a big one - is that Jim Kerr's voice remains sounding as most or all would be used to. that is a most splendid thing, when you consider, to mention him once more, how Bono's voice would appear to have taken a dip over the years.

are there any tracks off of the album that i would highlight? to be honest all of them play just fine as they are, in the order that they come up. for a generation that requires instant gratification, however, i suppose i had better make some effort. basically the two mentioned, Magic and the titular Walk Between Worlds, give you a sold indicator of what to expect with the record.

other than them two, Barrowland Star is full worthy of extra mention. it's clearly some of the band (they appear to have a few new tres and totes younger members), or just Jim Kerr, getting all nostalgic for the early days of the band. this proves to be neither embarassing or something only, say, New Gold Dream type hardcore fans would get. also, when not just reminding you of Alive And Kicking, that other one i mentioned, Sense Of Discovery, is excellent.

that's 50% of the album i have advised as being worth a try, then. as it happens, the other 50%, mindful of us discussing just the standard edition of the record here, is also worth a listen. very much so, as point of fact. well, in my opinion, but same thing.

it's tricky or difficult to state exactly who the peers of Simple Minds would be, really. in terms of more or less same length career and similar audience, if not sound, you could argue Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, U2 and some others. of the three named, i would say that Simple Minds just edge out (ha ha) U2 in terms of, after all this time, making an album of new songs of music what can draw an audience back to them. as much as i appreciate, say, U2's Songs Of Experience, the truth is that they have "lost" audience with each release. Depeche Mode's last effort, Spirit from last year, was just plain boring, i am sorry to say. 

as far as i am aware Simple Minds are still very much active with gigs and that. is it possible that they may attract other fans such as me with this album? hopefully so, if they get to hear some of this, and so much the better if they do. whereas the album is not quite so "wow! how did they do this most awesome thing so far into their career?" as was the case in 2016 with Girl At The End Of The World by James, this is close enough.

well, then, that's that. how jolly splendid that the first (kind of) day of release (almost) vibes of this year turned out to be very good indeed. no, i suspect that Walk Between Worlds will not turn out to be the record i hail as "the best of the year" by the end of 2018, but then again you do not know.

sensational update  - the chart is out, and this record has gone in at a quite respectable 4.....

again, this far into their career and with the current state of music sales, cracking the top five is smart. just one place below that bloke who has managed to dominate the chart by letting people just listen to it online for free rather than go out and buy it.

so, if you give the record a try, nice one, hope you like it as much as i do. otherwise, dig what you dig, man.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

for the enthusiasts

now then

this blog is, look you see, a bit of a magnet for enthusiasts of Spiros, the greatest legal mind of his generation, and Richard, my brother. not that there is any mystery to this lodestone way, for my blog is one of the few - if not only - conduits which either sanction for updates on their adventures, to be sure.

with that, or this, being the case, i feel compelled and somewhat honour bound to bring such updates as they happen, or at the least when they forward them on.

such is the reason for this particular post being what it is, then.

yes, that is indeed Richard in the image above. many of the enthusiasts close to him shall appreciate this, but for those further afield, indeed this is him modelling something of a new look. is it a new look for the new year? i am not at all sure the calendar came into it.

of course there are some clearer pictures of him showing off this most stylish of new styles as the blog progresses. indeed, a video too, although that somewhat lacks clarity. but is still good.

what of Spiros? there is only so much of his latest exploits that i have been either mandated or sanctioned to discuss and otherwise disclose. but, that said, mostly it is all good.

he, as ever, remains a sort of "international man of mystery". well, he would be. the talents and skills he has at disposal as the greatest legal mind of his generation mean that he is called upon from people far and wide.

one should not automatically assume or speculate from the above image that Spiros has been called upon for a matter involving Dr Osama in particular or Egypt in general. for all you know, the above could have been an item discarded on a floored surface, and he simply sent a picture to me in order to pass a moment lasting no longer than a few seconds. also, though, it might be here as a little prompt to certain parties he is currently working or otherwise dealing with.

yeah, that is the slightly ruder picture of Richard what i suggested would appear here. at present, and so far as i am aware, Richard does not have any licensing or endorsement agreements in place. feel free, then, if you wish to use the above picture as a print for a t-shirt or postcard. should it be the latter, you are welcome to send me one of them.

also as suggested, or if you want to be like that about it promised, earlier was a video. and here it is.

overall, i think, i admire the patience Richard has to install apps and what not which allow you to create such videos. for me, well, i am not certain i would ever go beyond the world of Commodore 64 mode style photographs really. should they make an app where you can make Commodore 64 style videos, well, count me in for that.

many of you will, i would have thought, seen the motion picture Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels. it was a fine film, marking the debut of both Guy Richie as a director of such motion pictures and Vinnie Jones as an actor in similar.

what some of you might not be aware of, or appreciate, or have even ever considered, to be sure, is that bit when Vinnie Jones (in character as Big Chris) absolutely batters that blokes' head in with a car door (with good reason) is in fact often a perfectly valid and acceptable form of legal discourse. i know this, because Spiros told me that it was.

is the above an example of Spiros using, or if you will evoking, that perfectly valid form of legal discourse in pursuit of the work he is sanctioned to carry out? sadly i cannot confirm such. but perhaps if the person had or had not done what they were or were not supposed to have done prior to Spiros and his great legal mind being called on, the above image would not exist in the nature which it does.

speaking of evoking, what look is Richard projecting with this new style? he suggested that it was Charles Bronson, the infamous criminal sort rather than the famous actor. for me, though, it goes further. this style evokes images of Bronson, sure, but also Merv Hughes, Bennett out of Commando and several other notable people what have had splendid moustaches.

well, whatever it evokes for you, i am confident that the Richard enthusiasts will be most pleased with this interlude of an update.

indeed, too, the Spiros enthusiasts will, i trust, be happy to know that he may or may not be doing his thing out there as the greatest legal mind of his generation.

right, that will do for this. until the next time, then,

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, February 05, 2018

understanding finally


so, well, yes, quite. this post could well, look you see, be seen as me "going off on one". ranting, perhaps, but hopefully not too much rambling. as ever, feel free to disregard or disagree and do get on with your life. or, you know, read.

it was some 35 years ago that Nigel Tufnel, he who can do smart guitar solos with his feet (well, one foot), asked the question what's wrong with being sexy? delving into an understanding of that "fine line between clever and stupid", time was taken to explain the difference to Nigel, composer of songs, between or if you like betwixt sexy and sexist.

yes, indeed i do understand that Spinal Tap are not routinely seen as a source which informs society, and further that, with the deepest of regret as such, This Is Spinal Tap was not actually a real life documentary. but, all the same, how strange that we seem to have reached a point where the explanation given to Nigel Tufnel on the difference is one which corners of society would do well to heed.

this indeed relates to the puritanical approach on the go these days; one somewhat quite at odds with the reported rise in atheism and rejection of any social, sexual "rules" or guides generally associated with organised religion. also, or perhaps, it's just simply a case of doing something rather trivial to make it look like the powers that be are "doing something" over some problem, concern, or other.

a ban, or cancellation, or scrappage scheme, has come into effect then, for the darts on the tele. with the given reason a fear of sexism or abuse or doing something against the accepted standards of society as decreed by either a vocal minority or vocal majority (i do not know which) on that there social media stuff, two models of a female gender (actual or "i identify as") shall no more accompany the darts players to the oche on the darts.

what caught my eye with the above was the (finally) part. even allowing for the above being in the Metro, a newspaper or media outlet that will not hesitate to find facts to suit their editorial line, this was a bit much. i, to be sure, quite like the darts. as such i watch it on the tele, and read news reports and so forth. to my knowledge, then, there was no demand, pressure, outcry, call or suggestion that these walk on models be banned or stopped. how is it "finally" then?

this all, of course, happened in the wake of allegations from something called the Presidents Club at the Dorchester Hotel; an establishment i believe to be quite posh. make no mistake, the allegations - those of somewhat refreshed with the sauce, getting on in years wealthy businessmen groping hostesses - are serious. whereas one hopes the actual culprits of any wrongdoing are brought to book, not helping matters is that certain corners of the political system have used the incident as an ideal excuse to get rid of troublesome people, despite no evidence of guilt. just ask Lord Mendelsohn, to give another link to Metro as a thanks for the screenshot.

a precedent being set means nothing if no one follows, of course. sure enough, them what do the fancy cars that go round in a circle - Formula One - have elected to "axe" the so-called "grid girls" from their sporting endeavours, as apparently they do not "tie in with their brand" or something.

oh, i agree, now is the time to see my calendar for the month of February 2018, especially if you are someone who for some reason uses my blog for calendar updates.

so far as i can tell, and this is based on limited following of the story, a great many people are upset by this rather draconian sacking of a lot of models whilst a very loud minority are absolutely delighted. to my knowledge a number of models have come forward upset and distressed about losing jobs they loved on the basis of someone else taking offence on their behalf.

a knee jerk reaction, then. so far as i can tell, the net result of this questionably pious move has been to make the darts players look silly as they walk to the oche flanked by security only, to distract the fans by making a fuss out of the fact that the walk on ladies are missing and, most importantly and damning, to put people out of a job.

them models, as is the case with all models, male, female or however their heart feels they should identify, work damned hard to get them jobs. many sacrifices and efforts are made for the career they want. at least one of the ladies summarily fired to prove a point of "doing good" is distressed, as their goes her income for her and her child. also gone is the massive exposure from being on the tele that could land other jobs.

what did i think of the walk on ladies? not a lot, really. they looked like they were having unenforced fun doing the job, and added some glamour to the games. darts players, on the whole, are not, after all, the most photogenic or stylish of people in this world.

my concern would be this heavy handed puritanical approach. yes, there are some very serious cases and allegations out there of sexual assault, bullying and all sorts of horrible things. they need to be investigated and justice sought. what's happening instead is that they are, and this is fuelled of course by the media as "social networks", being allowed to overshadow everything. this is all to the point where i, and surely i am not alone, am now left asking, just like Nigel, what's wrong with being sexy? there is a difference between y and ist. surely our world, filled as it is with many faults, is now not so dumbed down that those who cannot tell the difference are in the majority.

first rule of advertising, promotion, etc - sex sells. that has always been the case. it does not have to be overt. adding a touch of glamour to something like the darts is not, or rather was not, no bad thing. what was the worst to happen? fragile gentlemen with nothing better to do tuned in to the darts purely to see the ladies? would that have not added to the viewing figures, which ultimately is the aim of such a commercial venture?

i would be more inclined to accept the moral high ground of those who made this decision if they had, at the same time, announced that they were cancelling all gambling, betting and alcohol sponsorship of the darts too, lest they have a negative influence. but, of course, such a move would cost them, whereas firing some people saves them some coins.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, February 03, 2018

when jim met phil


yes, indeed, super, smashing, that's great, look you see. this is indeed another insight into the eclectic and interesting world of Bullseye, a show i have mentioned in passing from time to time here. something that makes this particular insight more interesting is that i have disabled the spell checking thingie, for it would appear that it interferes (in a non sexual way) with the performance of my web browser.

now, then. Bullseye, or Bullseye if you like the name of shows in italics. i might mix that up a bit here. over the years i've done a few articles on the show, looking at how it was a magnet for the aristocracy, the landed gentry and celebrities. the latter is relevant here.

an earlier, as opposed to future, article on the show looked at the time when Limahl out of Kajagoogoo - and a solo artist in his own right - sneaked on in a partial disguise to be a contestant. here we shall look at the time when a fellow star of the 80s did the same.

yes, he is pictured above, next to Jim Bowen. back when Jim Bowen administered his teachings through the conduit of Bullseye, prior to agreeing to take the position of current Pope. well, he was current when i wrote this, maybe someone else is doing the job now if you are reading this several years after i wrote it.

i, for one, can see little reason to doubt the idea that the contestant in question is none other than Phil Collins. he was indeed a major pop star in the 80s; perhaps or arguably one of the few what was as big and easy to recognize as Limahl. that would be why he is partially disguised under some distracting make up and a wig, but you can still tell it is Mr No Jacket Required.

the above picture represents the pretty much unmistakable evidence that it truly was Phil Collins on Bullseye, despite wearing a badge what suggested his name was Geoff. a clever touch, that, as Geoff is as much of a near perfect anagram of Phil as you can get whilst only using a very limited amount of different letters to create the anagram with.

for what reason would Phil have wanted to be on Bullseye? well, if you are asking that then you are unaware of the show, which is fair enough. i mean, one does not know something until they know it. the truth is, everyone wanted to be on the show.

right there in the above, i would like to think, you can see more evidence of this really being Phil. that steely or steeley eyed look to his eyes suggests that yes, this is the man who once sang of how someone called Billy should not lose his number.

much, indeed all, of why so many - in particular the elite of society - were so desperate to be on Bullseye can be found in this first rate, extensive and pretty much exhaustive essay or think piece on the subject.  the shorter version would be that all wished to meet Jim Bowen for his wisdom, guidance, advice and indeed blessing, but Jim did not do private audiences. if you wanted his touch, then it had to be conducted via the public conduit of television.

we have come to expect and accept the above scenario as common these days. it was not so in the 80s. yet again, then, evidence that Jim broke ground with every move.

following on from the above, and indeed the previous article, here above is a much better image of the most revered Jim Bowen as he appeared on that episode. many of you will notice something of interest about what he is wearing.

yes, it is a blue suit. not the same, of course, but similar to the one what Bill Wyman wore throughout the entire course of 1981. the one Jim has on is clearly from a much better tailor.

i would say it is likely you will, at this point, want to click on the link above to learn more of Bill Wyman and the blue suit he was clearly quite passionate about. to assist with this, then, i have elected to introduce a break, using the image off of Bullseye what came up just after Jim Bowen pulled tens of hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash out of his pocket.

welcome back, then, but no we are not going to Bully's Prize Board. as it turned out, and these things happen, Phil Collins is not as good at darts as he is at doing a music thing, or as he is in regards of flying Concorde to show his sympathy and support for the poor and starving.

could it be that there was something more controversial circulating around Phil appearing on Bullseye? yes and no and maybe. that is entirely up to you to decide. i really don't know all that much about Phil's private life, save for the infamous incident with the bucket of paint on the piano during a performance on Top Of The Pops. so i have no details at all as to whether or not Phil was angling for an invitation to the controversy that was the proposed, and shelved, Bullseye Christmas Gang Bang incident. you would have thought that a pop star could arrange something along those lines themselves, mind, or get their PA staff to do it.

most probably it was the case that Phil, if it was Phil and i am pretty fairly sure that it was, appeared on Bullseye to get some guidance, wisdom and advice from Jim Bowen.

at this time, you have to remember, and  by the way the time was the 80s, going on the opening credit montage, Phil was splendidly busy. on top of being a solo pop star almost as big and famous and easily recognized as Limahl, he was still an active part of Genesis. perhaps he just needed the insights from Jim Bowen as to how to balance the two properly. who better, after all, than Jim to give advice on whether or not to record Jesus He Knows Me as a solo concern or as part of a band?

no, i don't have much else to say on this subject but i've taken and uploaded the pictures now, so let me waffle on.

in the above picture you can see, i think, that 66% of the 50% of contestants what are in charge of answering questions don't seem that excited about possibly being in the presence of Phil Collins. as hard as it is to imagine, for some reason some people simply do not care for the man or his music. yeah, maybe the guy in the middle is happy because he has more money on the board than what the other two added together have, but i really like to think that it's because he is a big fan of the Phil.

was Phil any good at darts? in truth, not particularly. hence his partner in the above picture (i think the chap on 202) not looking so happy. yes, i mean, sure, Phil is probably a much better darts player than what i am, although that would not take very much to do. but, then again, i did not present myself to a television company to perform as a darts player, now, did i?

if Phil and his partner on the game - maybe Tony Banks, possibly Mike Rutherford but in truth he looks more like Keir Duella out of 2001 A Space Odyssey - only got 202, that means they won £202 off of Jim. what would Phil have done with his end of that, which would be approx or exactly £101? no idea. maybe he donated it to charity, or possibly used it as part payment on a Concorde flight.

just to clarify, in the above when i say 2001 A Space Odyssey i mean the rather well known film by Stanley Kubrick, and not the nightclub what Tony ruled the dancefloor of supreme in Saturday Night Fever. my apologies, i have no idea of the late 70s nightclub interests or activties of Keir Duella. actually, not too many apologies, as that was never the focus of this.

anyway, that's about all i wanted to say on this incident, except maybe to suggest you look at the audience in these pictures. see how they glance at each other, as if to ask if that really was Phil Collins on the episode what they saw getting taped.

will i be doing more posts on Bullseye through the course of the year? well, this is two so far for 2018. should anything come up as i watch an episode, as was the case here, then yes, sure, why not. but i cannot give you any sort of schedule or calendar as to when that might be.

for now, then,

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!