Friday, 30 June 2006

Buffy @ Retro Record Bag

What a funny old day I've had. An early visit to the diabeatnik doctor for more tests and more pills (I'm now on five different ones in varying amounts and frequencies each day), an appointment at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in mid-September for my back and more tests on Monday at St Georges's. This is >so< much fun!

Then thought I'd try seeing how easy it would be to get to work and regretted it, quite painful and took a while to subside after dosing up with tablets in the office. Still, cleared a lot of emails and discussed the way forward on few urgent bits of work.

I'd meant to do my 1975 set at the Retro Record Bag thingy tonight but, after this dire morning, decided to cheer myself (and the Retro punters) up with a Buffy Sainte-Marie set instead! So on my way out I grabbed five CDs. Most Buffy tracks wouldn't work at the Retro, being either too slow or too quiet for the noise of the bar, so I'd decided to open with 'Look at the Facts', a nice upbeat song to start with and close with 'I Been Down', again a nice upbeat song with some powwow singing, both tracks from 'Sweet America'. I get up to the DJ booth, open the CD case and it's empty - the CD is still in my stereo at home.... bugger!

Ever inventive, my Buffy setlist became:

Better to Find Out For Yourself (from 'Illuminations')
Sweet, Fast Hooker Blues (from 'Buffy')
Fallen Angels (Reggae Mix) (from the 'Fallen Angels' single)
Generation (from 'Buffy')
Native North American Child (from 'Native North American Child: An Odyssey')

I really wanted to play some Buffy powwow but at least I have another opportunity - 'Sweet America' was released in 1976 ... my next setlist but one.

I wasn't on top form this evening and my back wouldn't settle so I left not long after 10pm, regretting being out on the one hand but also pleased that I did - that's the first time in over two weeks that I've been more than a mile or so from my front door and it was nice seeing and chatting to my DJ compatriots (even if my set was, again, the best and most inventive of the evening). I'll sleep well tonight.

And then, returning and logging on to do this blog (and a version of it for the Buffy email list - they deserve to know that Buffy's been played in central London) and finding the glorious and long-awaited news about SLADE re-issues (see below).

Buffy and SLADE in one evening - my cup runneth over!

Thursday, 29 June 2006

SLADE - Feel The Noize!

At last! The news I've been waiting for for so long:

The first four albums will be released on 21 August, followed by a 4xCD boxset in September, with more releases every few months. And the CDs will include the 'B' sides from all the early '70s singles. How happy am I? A bungee-jumping rhino couldn't be more excited!

Calm, calm, om mane padme hum... August is so far away...

Tuesday, 27 June 2006


The Slade wires have been buzzing today with the glorious news about re-mastered albums. The latest from Crazeeworld (link opposite) is:

Union Square Music's new Salvo label are re-releasing the entire Slade catalogue, starting in late August with the first four releases, and continuing at various intervals until next summer. The music has been remastered to great effect and the packages will include new sleeve notes and many previously unseen photos.

The first four will be: Beginnings / Play It Loud (2 albums on 1 CD), Slayed?, Old New Borrowed And Blue and Slade Alive! (A 2CD live anthology which includes Slade Alive!, Slade Alive Vol Two., Slade On Stage and Alive At Reading '80).

The re-mastered albums will contain bonus tracks. A b-sides collection, a box set and re-vamped Flame DVD are also reportedly in the pipeline.

I was listening to 'Old, New, Borrowed and Blue' last night and there are some killer rock tracks on that album as well as the more well-known singles.

Happy Monday

Monday's been a good day for a change and I like good days.

I received my Mary Tyler Moore Season 3 DVDs today and watched the first disc. That's a good thing. This is such a class series in comparison to most sitcoms and works for me. I need MTM to issue 'Rhoda' on DVD as well.

I received my long hoped-for Bambi Lake CD - My Glamourous Life As A Broadway Hostess- extra-speedily from America. The CD is a bit patchy but includes 'The Golden Age of Hustlers' so I'm happy. It's the only song of hers on the album, the rest are versions of 'show tunes' but they work to illustrate her tale.

I hear that SLADE albums will be re-issued with bonus material at long last - glorious news if true.

I find over 150 videos of the Dresden Dolls on YouTube (including a great version of 'Good Day') and learn how to add videos to this blog so it will, in truth, be all singing and all dancing in future.

I slept right through Sunday night without waking up in the wee small hours to take pain-killers for the first time in about 3 weeks.

Things are looking up!

Monday, 26 June 2006

SLADE - "Mama Weer all Crazee Now"

I received the following message on the international SLADE mailing list:

"All the old Slade-albums are to be re-released later this year. The albums come with bonus-tracks such as B-sides and the interviews from Melanie and 19. The album sleeves are beautiful with lots of info and rare photos. The first re-releases should be in stores within a couple of months."

O wow.
The Dresden Dolls - "Sing"

Sunday, 25 June 2006

Biscuit Tin

Up early again and can't make too much noise on a Sunday morning so I'm browsing on the Interweb and thought I'd stop off here for a few minutes.

Big Trouble

Watched 'Big Trouble in Little China' last night and Chris looked to be in pain throughout. He has this odd notion that films should have a plot or story and that, unless in a recognised arty film, that scenes should tell a narrative. None of which applies to 'Big Trouble'! Special effects, mayhem and human demons with super powers does it for me.

Bambi Lake and CD Baby

I mentioned my fascination with Bambi Lake in a blog last year and have now tracked down a CD of her music which I have (of course) purchased. 'The Golden Age of Hustlers' is a very poignant song and I want it. It was on the CD Baby site in America, not one I've come across before but it seems to be run by some delightfully charming people. Rather than just sending a 'we've put it in the post' email they sent me the following eccentric message:

Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved 'Bon Voyage!' to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Wednesday, June 21st.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did.

Your picture is on our wall as 'Customer of the Year'. We're all exhausted but can't wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

I'm also quite touched that the 'from' name in the address bar is 'CD Baby loves Owen'. What nice people.

Last 10 iPod

And to round off, here are the last 10 songs played on my iPod:

You Can Cry On My Shoulder ~ Brenda Holloway
The Coast Is Always Changing ~ Maximo Park
Sweet Little Vera ~ Buffy Sainte-Marie
Laura ~ Scissor Sisters
Satan's Butterfly Ball ~ Boy George
Roll Away The Stone ~ Mott the Hoople
The Lifeboat Party ~ Kid Creole and the Coconuts
Setting Sun ~ The Chemical Brothers
Identity ~ X-Ray Spex

Thursday, 22 June 2006

My last emergency Cybill

I recently got the DVDs for the first series of 'Cybill' and have been waiting for the right time to lie back and enjoy them. Today was that day.

I did my physio exercises, made a nice mug of earl grey, positioned myself (in a supportive way) on the couch and pressed >play< ... and laughed myself silly!

For those of you who need a reminder, the blurb tells us that:

Cybill Sheridan (Cybill Shepherd) is a working actress in her forties, living in natural disaster-prone Los Angeles, striving to find meaningful roles and maintain a living in an industry that worships youth.

Keeping everything in perspective are her two daughters (Dedee Pfeiffer and Alicia Witt), two ex-husbands (Alan Rosenberg and Tom Wopat) and a best friend (Christine Baranski), who is the best at turning lifeƕs little predicaments into hysterical and humbling one-liners.

This four DVD box [three actually] set contains all 13 episodes from series one and features guest appearances by Tim Matheson, Erik Estrada, George Hamilton, Morgan Fairchild, Neil McDonough, Bruce Davison, Jonathan Frakes, Peter Bogdanovich, Kevin Sorbo, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Elliott Gould and Burt Reynolds plus many more...

I don't often laugh out loud at things on the telly but 'Cybill' has that unknown magic ingredient that tickles my funny bone. I watched the first two discs back to back and decided to save the last disc for an emergency 'cheer-up' at some point in the future.

I went onto the wondrous Interweb , answered some work emails and accidentally went onto Amazon and lo and behold, series two will be available in August. Might I need an emergency Cybill before August? Probably, but I've got series three of the Mary Tyler Moore Show winging its way to me even as I type, and that should see me through any emergencies, so I took the hard decision. I used my emergency Cybill - and I'm pleased I did! What a great show that was!

Wednesday, 21 June 2006

Pills, Potions and Pummelling

Back to the docs this morning for the results of the tests last week and the news is mixed to say the least.

My x-ray is showing gaps in my spine where there should be none so I'm being referred to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital to see a consultant, which is good news, but I have to wait 10 days to pick up the referral letter from my doc to take to the hospital requesting an appointment. Why? Who knows. I'd much rather go to St George's in Tooting but it, apparently, has a 4 month waiting list for orthopedic first appointments.

My blood tests (courtesy of the vampires last week) indicate that I've joined the Diabeatniks Club so I was given more pills for this and an appointment to see the 'diabetics doc' next week. I'm hoping that it was a blip when I had the blood test, so we'll see.

The blood tests also indicate that things aren't entirely hunky dory with my innards so I'm booked for an ultrascan to check that out in mid-July (the earliest appointment for a scan at St George's). I'm going to become an expert on the NHS in very short order at this rate.

This evening, however, I had my first pummelling of my back and bum by Mandy, my newest best friend who is the physiotherapist at Holmes Place health club up the road from me. The first task is to open up the tense spine and bum muscles to get some movement and relief from the spasm that occurs when the slipped disc presses on the nerve running down my left leg. Ouch. The first treatment was fine and I feel better for it but she said I'd really feel it tomorrow and I've got to keep a note of the effects and where it hurts to tell her when I see her again next week. I'm *so* looking forward to tomorrow... And I have exercises to do as well.

So there you have it, my latest health bulletin. Basically, I'm falling to bits!

Brenda Holloway at 60

Happy birthday to the great Brenda Holloway, a lost Motown goddess. Brenda never really made it big but she should have with her effortlessly powerful and versatile voice.

Brenda had her first hit in 1964 with 'Every Little Bit Hurts' (which has been covered by loads of people from Petula Clark to the Clash) and supported the Beatles on tour in America in 1965. She had a few hits over the next few years and still earns a living from writing 'You've Made Me So Very Happy' with her sister Patrice (covered by Blood, Sweat and Tears and a host of others).

She was only with Motown for a few years before retiring, getting married and singing in the church choir but her voice was kept alive on the Northern Soul scene and she started recording again in 1987 and a collection of her re-recorded classics and covers, along with new material was released in 2003 ('My Love Is Your Love'). A few years earlier she released 'It's A Woman's World,' an album of new material.

It's her Motown years that provide the evidence for the richness and power of her voice and this work is collected on her 'The Motown Anthology' which supposedly comprises all her Motown recordings, including those not previously released. I say supposedly because it doesn't include my favourite Brenda track, 'Trapped (In A Love Affair)' which is available on another Motown compilation of rare tracks from the '60s. The collection shows the wide range of material she could tackle but this also suggests a lack of direction - if she'd had the proper direction who knows what she might have achieved? Still, it's an excellent collection and everyone should own a copy.

I've never seen Brenda. I had the chance to see her at a Northern Soul convention in a holiday camp in Great Yarmouth a couple of winters ago but couldn't face the thought of it. She should be on at the Royal Albert Hall or the Royal Festival Hall. Or even the Jazz Cafe. I live in hope.

In the meantime I'll be listening to my CDs and joining in on the choruses, from the glories of 'When I'm Gone' and 'You've Made Me So Very Happy' to the whimsical 'Land of a Thousand Boys' and 'Play It Cool, Stay In School'.

Happy birthday Brenda!

Tuesday, 20 June 2006

The Dresden's on 'Later...'

If you missed the magnificent Dresden Dolls on 'Later... with Jools Holland' you still have a few days to watch the recording - click the link and head for 'watch now'. The link should be live until 23 June.

The Dresdens play two songs - 'My Alcoholic Friends' (about 20 minutes into the show) and 'Necessary Evil' (about 42 minutes into the show) both from the latest album, 'Yes Virginia'.

Amanda is in stripey stockings and Brian wears his bowler so all is right with the world.

Jools pissed me off a bit by walking between Amanda and Brian to go to talk to the bloke from the Kaiser Chiefs which struck me as being very rude.

Time to skank

The sun is shining (as Bob Marley once sang) and it's time to get those reggae records out and do some skanking. O yes, summer is the reggae season and I'm filling up my iPod with various reggae tracks, mainly from th late '60s and '70s, classical reggae if you will.

Got to have some Bob Marley in there (the whole of 'Natty Dread') and some Jiffy Cliff (a very under-rated song-writer, just listen to 'Sitting in Limbo') and some Toots and the Maytalls ('Take Me Home Country Road' makes me smile) and a range of others, mainly in the one or two hit wonder category.

I love songs like 'Montego Bay' by Freddie Notes and Rudie which I remember from my primary schools days when a teacher brought it in when we were doing a project about the Caribbean (might even have been about pirates!), the marvellous 'Young, Gifted and Black' by Bob and Marcia and 'Midnight Rider' by Paul Davidson. And then there were the skanking women, like Susan Cadogan and Althea and Donna, not to mention the mighty I-Threes (I always join them in singing the backing vocals). The late '60s and early '70s produced some great songs and performers, paving the way for Bob Marley to take reggae onto the world stage.

Whatever happened to reggae?

Friday, 16 June 2006

Vampires and Therapists

Vampires in Tooting are posh y'know - they drink from little vials so their teeth aren't sullied by the skin of their victims. That's one thing I learned today.

I went back to St George's this morning for blood tests. No tablets, food or drink (except for a couple of mouthfuls of water) to spoil the tests so I went earlier than planned, really because I was awake and wanted to take some pain-killers so thought I'd put up with it and get it over. I am *so* brave.

It was all over quickly. Half an hour wait for my turn and then a quick prick, breathe and it was time for the plaster and time to leave. The most worrying thing about it was that the radio was on in the sucking room and my vampire was singing along to 'Crazy Horses' by the Osmonds. I think I visibly flinched.

Immediately afterwards I hobbled along to the hospital shop to buy a bottle of water and get out my tablets - aaaahhhhhhh.......

This afternoon, with the sun beating down, I cheerfully put aside my gothic fantasies and hobbled up to Holmes Place gym behind Woolies on the High Road to book a session with the physiotherapist. I've tried different therapists and the physio brand is the only one to help so far. I now have an appointment with Mandy on Wednesday next week.

Thursday, 15 June 2006

Last 10 iPod

The last 10 tunes on my iPod were:
Tell Me Your Plans - The Shirts
Apply Some Pressure - Maximo Park
You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) - Dead or Alive
Morning Dew - Lulu
Sell You Everything - The Buzzcocks
Brother Louie - Hot Chocolate
You - Marvin Gaye
Right Between The Eyes - Garbage
Keep This Fire Burning - Beverley Knight
Signal And Sign - Maximo Park

Noddy Holder MBE at 60

Is it possible that the Great God Nod, the Lord of Noize Himself, is 60 today? ‘Twould appear so.

Noddy is the owner of one of the greatest rock voices ever, the writer of some of the greatest pop songs ever and the undisputed champion and inventor of mirrored top-hats! All bow down before the Nodster!

Noddy was my hero in 1971 when I saw him on ‘Top of the Pops’ for the first time and he was still my hero six months ago when he presented ‘Top of the Pops’ to coincide with the release of ‘The Very Best Of SLADE’ CD/DVD. He left SLADE 15 years ago and has done lots of things since – presenting, writing, hosting, acting – but I still hope for a new record or a ‘B’ sides compilation or re-mastered CDs or more DVD material or … or … or …

June is Noddy month on my big SLADE calendar in the kitchen, with a big photo of Nod on stage in 1972 (top hat, red shirt and tight tartan trousers says it all).

So, Mr Holder, what does your website biography tell us about you?

“Born 15th June 1946 in Walsall, West Midlands. Noddy began singing in working men's clubs aged seven and was singing and playing guitar in local groups by the age of 13. He left school at 16 to become a professional musician and in 1966 joined forces with Dave Hill, Don Powell and Jim Lea in a band called The N'Betweens. The group had stints in Europe and the Bahamas playing a mixture of Rhythm & Blues/soul/Tamla Motown with a big rock sound. After changing their name to Ambrose Slade in the late sixties they released their first album Beginnings. In 1969 the band met up with ex-Animals bass player Chas Chandler who also produced and managed Jimi Hendrix.

Shortening the band name to SLADE Chas guided their career to huge success during the glam rock era to the end of the seventies. Throughout the 70s and 80s Noddy's rock vocals were the trademark of 40 Slade hit singles in the UK including 6 number ones. They released well over 20 albums during their career, four reaching the number one spot in UK. In 1991 Noddy left the band.

Noddy's autobiography "Who's Crazee Now?" was a top seller. He has had his own radio shows in Los Angeles and New York and broadcast for twelve years on Manchester's Piccadilly Radio. He starred in three series of the ITV comedy-drama "The Grimley" alongside Brian Conley, Amanda Holden, James Bradshaw, Nigel Planer and Jan Ravens. He has recently made a welcome return to acting on TV in Peter Kay’s "Max and Paddy" series.

In 1996 Noddy was the "victim" of "This Is Your Life" the programme was shown as the Christmas special. A career highlight for Noddy was when he appeared in the historic 40th Anniversary Coronation Street live episode. Noddy received the MBE in the year 2000 Millennium New Years Honours List.”

So there you have it – a potted biog (and slightly abridged by me) of the great man himself. He’s finally launched his own web presence so we’ll see how that evolves.

I still remember the thrill of seeing Noddy and the lads walk onto the stage of Newcastle City Hall in 1973, half expecting to see giants but instead they were normal size. And then the music started and they grew in stature with every song. Noddy laughed, Noddy burped, Noddy was rude and he was God. Dave and Jim climbing up onto the speakers, jumping down and running across the stage behind Nod. Don pounding away on the drums, song after song, never slowing down. Dave was throwing glitter into the audience, all of us pressed forwards towards the stage, hot and sweaty. I picked some of that glitter up from the carpet as the crowds left at the end of the gig – I kept that glitter in a little box for years.

Noddy was my first hero and as such has a special place in my heart and in my life.

Happy birthday Nod!

Wednesday, 14 June 2006

Happy Birthday Jim!

James Whild Lea was born on 14 June 1949 and became the unlikely glam god Jimmy Lea! He was still at school when he auditioned for the 'N Betweens - the fledgling SLADE in the late '60s - the youngest of the band and planning to go to college. But that all changed.

I first saw Jimmy on 'Top of the Pops' in 1971 playing the violin on 'Coz I Luv You', SLADE's first number 1 and the first of many hits he wrote with Noddy Holder and the first SLADE record I bought. Jim wrote the music and Nod wrote the lyrics.

I saw Jim in the flesh for the first time in 1973 wearing a red lurex suit, bounding across the stage of Newcastle City Hall when SLADE were at their peak and ruled the charts. 'Mama Weer All Crazee Now', 'Cum On Feel The Noize', 'Merry Christmas Everybody' and a host of other great songs smashed their way into the charts and into my life and the lives of millions of other kids around the world at the time.

He was the 'quiet' one in the band - Noddy and Dave Hill living it large at the front of the stage. They were a tough act to compete with but he's immortalised on the cover of 'SLADE ALIVE!' with his foot on Don's drum and leaning right back playing his bass guitar, his special pose for years! He was a showman as well but probably was proudest of his music.

He sang lead vocals on a few album songs in the glory years but I was keenest on 'Radio Wall of Sound' from 1991, SLADE's penultimate single and Jim on lead vocals in which he pays tribute to the long lost 'Telegram Sam'. He left SLADE the following year shortly after Noddy but still writes, records and even releases material every now and then.

Jim was part of my childhood, part of my growing up years and, as far as I'm concerned, will always bound across a stage in a red lurex suit belting out some of the best and loudest music I'd ever heard. And I'm listening to some of it now as I type, courtesy of 'The Very Best Of SLADE' - the Lords of Noize will never be silent in my house!

Happy birthday Jim!

Discs and blood...

In a previous bloggie I explained the trials and tribulations of my slipped disc. Well, the damn thing seems to have done it again. It's been going on for a week now, longer than normal when it decides to play up, so I went to the doctor this morning to see what was what. She gave me a medical certificate to be off work to stop aggravating my back, some nice pills (my usual ones weren't really working) and sent me off to St George's in Tooting for an x-ray. There I was, in a backless gown with my arse sticking out the back, hobbling down a hospital corridor trying to retain a modicum of dignity (and failing, I suspect).

They took two x-rays of my lower body (I must look good in x-ray for them to want two) and the bloke said it looked like there was a gap between the 4th and 5th vertebrae which sounds about right to me - either it's because there's no disc there since a bit was snipped off 6 years ago or the bit that remains has slipped out from between the vertebrae. Either way, it's not good. I go back to see the doctor next week to get the result.

The doctor also wanted to take my blood pressure and decided I have high blood pressure/hypertension and is sending me back to hospital tomorrow morning for blood tests - renal, liver and lipid profiles and to check glucose levels (what's a 'lipid'?). She gave me tiny tablets for that as well. No food or drink tomorrow until after they suck blood from me so I'll max out on an enormous plate of spag tonight!

The doctor also said I should get more exercise and lose weight (like, I didn't know that anyway). What she didn't explain was how I should exercise without aggravating my back.

O, the joys of being middle aged ...

Tuesday, 13 June 2006

World Map

I saw this clever little world map programme that show's where you've been and thought, 'I want one of those' (as you do). I've been to:

Canada, USA, Mexico, Senegal, The Gambia, Morocco, Egypt, Kenya, UAE, Turkey, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Malta, Italy, Spain, France and, of course, our dear own UK.

There are vast areas of the world on which I haven't set foot - yet...

Monday, 12 June 2006

The Dresden Dolls - 'Later...' 16 June

The magnificent and truly glorious Dresden Dolls will be on 'Later... with Jools Holland' on Friday 16 June. If you've never seen them then tune in and prepare to see the light... or at least video the show to watch when you get back from the boozer.

I'm also delighted to learn that they're due back in London in November for two shows at the Roundhouse - I can't wait! Further details will be posted when available.

Now, how can I lose lots of flab and become gorgeous in time for November - you never know, I might meet my special friend, Amanda, again. I'll need to read up on Ms Right Nasty's guide to stalking to perfect my skills.

I'm listening to 'Yes Virginia' at the moment (the Dresden's latest album) and the 'I'm pulling down me pants' song has just come on .... o dear... strange things happen when that song appears.

Sunday, 11 June 2006

Sandi Thom - 'Smile... It Confuses People'

I'm pleased to report that Sandi's album, 'Smile ... It Confuses People,' has entered the album chart at Number 1 in it's first week of release. The single has slipped to Number 2 but the album makes up for that.

Good on ya, lass!

National Film Theatre - Access All Areas

I didn't realise the Access All Areas film festival had started at the NFT, a series of music-related films and documentaries over June-July. The programme looks like an interesting mix of styles through the decades but the films I would really want to see are the ones I already have on DVD, although it might be nice to see them on the big screen.

I'd quite like to see 'The Filth and the Fury' on the big screen but I'm not sure about 'Festival', a documentary about the Newport Folk Festival in the early '60s which includes a stunningly young and beautiful Buffy Sainte-Marie but she only plays one song (and not even a complete song) - there's too much Joan Baez cozying up to Dylan for my liking but seeing Buffy up there on the screen bigly .... hmmmm.

A couple of films I haven't seen are 'The Clash - Westway to the World' and a film of two live concerts by the Kinks. They might be interesting. There's a double bill of the Pistols and the Clash, so maybe that's the day to go to see both. There's a Prince film and the quite frankly pseudo-hippy nonsense that is much of 'Born to Boogie', but the live T.Rex on stage sequences are wonderful.

Of course, the major omission is 'SLADE in FLAME' - what a perfect opportunity to see one of the greatest rock films of all time...

Saturday, 10 June 2006

Live sex show and Lucy the Slut

Oh yes, it all happens on Avenue Q. "What do you do with a BA in English?" opines Princeton at the start of the show and so many of us can empathise with that sentiment.

That, of course, is when he is young, fresh-faced and innocent, before he learns that he's a racist, is degraded by performing cunnilingus on Kate Monster in front of the audience, becomes an alcoholic and shacks up with Lucy the Slut (the name says it all). Then he finds the light and raises $10m for Kate to open a school for monsters. There, that tells you all you need to know about this documentary about life in outer outer outer New York City.

Or does it?

It also tells the story of an upstanding republican banker coming to terms with his homosexuality through extended therapy in the lap of a Japanese therapist called Christmas Eve and the modern day Scrooge character, Trekkie Monster, who has made his millions from Internet porn but wants to help all the little monsters by donating millions to Kate's school. The in-depth character analysis of Trekkie is quite startling in the brutal honesty of the portrayal, particularly when he lets his guard down to sing along to 'grab your dick and double-click' during his exposition of the true origins of the Internet which is, as we all know, for porn.

Oh yes, Avenue Q is wonderful! We saw this in New York and I think both Christopher and me were a trifle hesitant about whether it would live up to our memories and, certainly on my part, it did! It was great. Julie Atherton, who plays Kate Monster and Lucy the Slut, has a great versatile voice, the cast were all bounding over the stage, the puppets were, well, puppets. It was nice to see Ann Harada, who we saw in New York, play Christmas Eve and bring back some very pleasant memories.

I don't often laugh out loud or join in songs at the theatre, but I did tonight (even though my back is playing up). I preferred it with a female Gary Coleman (that just adds another twist to the story) and I'd fo

Friday, 9 June 2006

The Time Continuum

And lo, the Lord looked out over the time continuum and saw that it was good. The cycles of creation and destruction were progressing as planned. Lord Shiv was dancing. Lord Buddha's consciousness was spread across all times and all spaces and he looked down towards Mara and a tear welled...

Lord Shiv noticed and let out a rebel yell capable of splitting the dimensions, "The '80s!" and the dervish in him whirled faster as his hair grew and shoulders expanded and the glitter ball of creation started spinning ...

The Lord sighed...

Monday, 5 June 2006

Latests - Maximo, Sandi and iPod

It's Monday so it's time for a list of 'latests' I think....


Maximo Park's first DVD, 'Found on Film' is just what I need - me Geordie lads giving it some welly on various stages with all my favourite songs of theirs (except 'A19' which is excellent). It's a double DVD packaged as a book with lots of small photos inside. The DVDs include 'Live at Brixton Academy', 'Live at Newcastle Academy' (a former bingo hall and ABC cinema), the promo videos, the 'Found on Film' tour documentary, BBC and AOL sessions. All great stuff and I'm deliberately not watching it all tonight - want to savour it afresh another night. They're wonderful and I *want* to see them live. I also want to meet Paul Smith (the great singer) and ask him about his quiff...

I also got a new 'T.Rex on TV' DVD that seems to be a new release with Marc's TV appearances in the early-mid '70s, including a couple of documentaries from the time about him. From 'Ride a white swan' to 'Dandy in the underworld'. I'll save that for later in the week I think


'Avengers United' No 67 with Wanda Maximoff - the Scarlet Witch - giving it some serious hex on the cover.


Finally, Sandi Thom's first album, 'Smile... It Confuses People' is available. I've listened to it once tonight but need to listen to it again before making an initial decision - some great songs and some songs I need to listen to again.

I also got the re-mastered 'Kaleidoscope' by Siouxsie and the Banshees and 'St Elsewhere' by Gnarls Barkley (I prefer the album to the single).

Latest iPod

My ten latest on the music machine are:
You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) - Dead or Alive
If You Can't Give Me Love - Suzi Quatro
Your Wonderful Sweet Sweet Love - Kim Weston
Another Train Coming - Kim Weston
Get A Grip On Yourself - the Stranglers
Smalltown - John Cale and Lou Reed
I See You Baby - Groove Armada
Get Your Hands Off My Woman - the Darkness
I Feel Love - Donna Summer
Stupid Girls - Pink

Sunday, 4 June 2006

Sandi Thom - Number 1

I could hardly believe it. Watching 'Top Of The Pops' for the first time in XX years, waiting to see if Sandi was on, then the chart countdown got to number two without mentioning her name... and there she was, Number 1 with her first single. Cor!

Here's the photo of me and Sandi before she was famous:

Saturday, 3 June 2006

All About My Mother / Transamerica

Went to see these films tonight as a double-bill at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, courtesy of Christopher, and very enjoyable they were too.

This was the first time I'd seen either and didn't quite know what to expect. My heart sank early in 'All About My Mother' when suddely the camera angle shifted to the lad who'd just been knocked down by a car and we were seemingly seeing through his eyes, unfocused, with rain pouring down and his mother running towards him - I thought ' o gawd, he's doing the arty thing...'. Other than that, it was excellent, with some lovely set pieces and great characterisation. It sucks you into its world of glamour and sleaze, a side of Barcelona I have yet to see, takes you high and brings you low, you feel the pain and joy of the main characters. Even Lola who only appears at the end enters as a well-drawn character. Women are Almodovar's strength and he gets them to dig deep and deliver some astonishing performances. I'm very pleased I've now seen this film.

'Transamerica' is a different kettle of fish altogether which I also thoroughly enjoyed. It didn't have the emotional intensity of the previous film and had a very different look and feel, but it was fascinating to get a glimpse into the world of the transexual/transgender, even if only in a film. I've seen Felicity Huffman in 'Desperate Housewives' but this was a very different performance, very controlled, very calm and placid, a study in extreme femininity. In a sense, it's a road movie as well as a narrative about an evolving relationship based on deceit, but there were moments of almost shocking candour, such as when Bree breaks down in tears after the gender operation - at face value this was about her failed relationship with her son but you just know these are the tears of half a lifetime finally let out, sadness, disappointment, pain and hurt - and probably a little joy mixed in as well. That was a very touching scene.

So, that's an evening well spent - even if the one pint of Guinness I managed in the interval was badly poured...

Friday, 2 June 2006

Suzi Q >Newsflash<

Suzi's website announces a significant development:

Breaking news:30 May
NEW SINGLE "I'll Walk Through The Fire With You" will be released on the 5th of June 2006. Available for download from UK sites. This is a NEW version and NOT the current album track. If it is downloaded before the 5th of June only the album version will be available. Itunes UK should have the new version on the release date. The new single is also expected to be released in the USA.

It's nice that a single is finally being released from the 'Back to the Drive' album but I can't say this is one of my favourite tracks. I don't understand why the title track wasn't released to promote the album when it was first issued - on the other hand, I don't understand why the album wasn't properly promoted at all. Money was obviously invested in the record and packaging, but it wasn't promoted.

Let's hope they promote the single - wouldn't it be totally great to see Suzi back in the chart!


Suzi's single being released on 5 June reminds me of other mandatory purchses that day:
  • Sandi Thom's first album - 'Smile, It Confuses People'.
  • Maximo Park's first DVD - 'Maximo Park - Found on Film' - lots of live footage including the Brixton gig from a few months ago.
Monday is full of meetings at work but I think a trip to the HMV store on Oxford Street is called for on Monday evening ...