Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Jane Aire & The Belvederes

Sadly overlooked in the re-issue stakes is Jane Aire, with the grand total of one song available on CD (the glorious 'Yankee Wheels' on a Stiff Records compilation). I liked Jane (real name Jane Ashley) back in the day and , now that I have a magic vinyl-to-digital record player, thought I would hunt for her records. My collection became complete last week and I now have a new CD in my collection: 'The Complete Jane Aire & The Belvederes'.

As far as I know, Jane released five singles, one album and featured on the 'Akron' compilation album. She was a protege of Liam Sternberg and 'the Belvederes' don't seem to have existed other than in name at first but, when she came to London the role was filled by a band called the Edge (made up of Lu Edmonds, Jon Moss, Gavin Povey and Glyn Havard). Other famous names associated with Jane are Kirsty MacColl and Rachel Sweet who provided backing vocals on her album (Rachel also featured on the 'Akron' album).

When I Was Young/I'm An Actress ('Akron', 1978)

Both songs are on the 'Akron' compilation album, famous or infamous for it's "scratch'n'sniff" tyre on the cover. Both songs stand out (along with Rachel Sweet's tracks) as being proper songs rather than the semi-experimental nature of some of the other tracks. I've always liked them. They're relatively raw pop-punk in a USA-stylee. The album has never been released on CD as far as I know but I bought the vinyl at the time.

Yankee Wheels/Nasty... Nice (1978)

This was Jane's first single and 'Yankee Wheels' has the honour of featuring on a Stiff compilation CD. I lurve the chugging chorus as she bellows out the title and the slightly out-of-time vocals but I've no idea what the song is actually about (and I don't really care). 'Nasty... Nice' is less poppy and more in keeping with the experimental style of the 'Akron' album with Jane in shrieking mood. I like both tracks, bought the single back then and played it a lot.

Call Me Every Night/Lazy Boy (1979)

Jane moved from Stiff to Virgin and this single was obviously meant to break her in the UK being a picture disc (the latest trend in records). A lot more poppy and commercial, almost touching on the power-pop sound created in the early 80s by Kim Wilde and others. 'Lazy Boy' is a bit moodier and uses horns for emphasis in the chorus (another sign that money was invested on this single). I don't recall it charting but I suspect it was meant to keep Jane in the light until the album was released. I bought the single.

Breaking Down The Walls Of Heartache/Life After You (1979)

A single with two tracks from the album, presumably issued to promote the album. I don't have the single.

Jane Aire & The Belvederes (1979)

A 10-track album released by Virgin and produced by Liam Sternberg that I didn't buy at the time, quite possibly because I didn't know it existed (I certainly don't recall it). The sound and songs are very different to her work the previous year, far more commercial and targeted at the young punky-pop/power-pop market (which it seems to anticipate).

It tries out various musical styles, touching on a sort of Motown/Northern Soul feel to some tracks, straight out-and-out pop, a couple of tracks even seem to anticipate the 'power ballad' style that emerged later in the '80s. 'No More Cherry Icing' sounds like the Go-Gos would sound a few years later (which must be the Sternberg influence).

Listening to it for the first time 28 years after it was released and I have to say it's not bad at all! It has aged a bit but no more so that many other bands at the time. I'm sure the sound would be fuller if it was re-mastered and issued on CD. I'd buy it.

I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten/Heat Of The City (1982)

Jane was quiet for a few years and then issued this single on the Stiff label. It's an interesting single and I'm intrigued by the choice of title song. After only a few seconds of listening it shrieks "1980s" at you, with that tell-tale electronic drum-beat/drum-clash without any resonance (as the CD producer commented). More interesting is the 'B' side which was co-written by Jane and has a white-boy reggae rhythm going on in the background.

So, that's the discography. 'The Complete Jane Aire & The Belvederes' tracklisting is:

When I Was Young
I'm An Actress
Yankee Wheels
Nasty... Nice
Call Me Every Night
Lazy Boy
Breaking Down The Walls Of Heartache
No More Cherry Icing
When You Can't Be Loved
Take It To The Next Wave
Duke Of Love
Come See About Me
Life After You
Wind Up
Love Is A Fire
I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten
Heat Of The City

Transfer to CD and production/engineering credits are awarded to Chris Voisey of Voisey Enterprises Inc.

I've got no idea what happened to Jane and she doesn't feature very often in internet searches or have many photos online that aren't record sleeves. I'll add the poor quality photo on the right which is from the inside sleeve of the 'Akron' album. According to one source she married a Boomtown Rat. Where is she now, I wonder? If you know, I'd love to hear. And if you know of any other records please tell me.

Thank you, Jane, for the music I loved when I was a teenager and thank you again for my more recent quest to collect your records.

Monday, 27 August 2007

Prince at the O2 Arena

Saturday evening saw the journey to the O2 Arena at Greenwich to see Prince.

I'd never been to the O2 before or even to the Dome (when it was the Millennium Dome) so that was a bit fun. And how convenient that it has its own tube station. It's quite nice inside, all fresh and new (and over-priced) and the Arena itself looks great, with everyone (at least in theory) getting an excellent view of the stage in the round. I wouldn't want to be up in the gods, though, too high and too steep a climb for me. And seeing the lighting people climb up into the lighting rig was a veritable orgy of vertiginousness (is that a new word?).

In we go after being given a coy of his new album and there's the stage in the shape of Prince's 'symbol'. I start to get excited - that's where Prince will be in half an hour or so, that's right, *Prince*! The crowd assembles and I find I'm sitting behind a giant... even on the banked seating his head still blocks the stage. Why me? Luckily there's enough space to move so I can get a good view of the stage. I saw the band walk into the Arena and disappear under the stage and a big box is wheel in, following them, presumably encasing the Purple One. The lights dim, then blaze and there he is!

He opened with 'Planet Earth' from the new album, standing in the centre of his symbol with guitar in hand, the band in the circle part, and the two singers and dancers striding all round the symbol-stage giving us what-for. The stage is bathed in all the colours you can image and so is Prince, dressed in white with a colourful tunic. The dancers give it some bootylicious hair-flicking, bum-pounding action sufficient to make be feel tired and the singers strut their stuff wearing hat and funky '70s afro, all round giving us a professional show designed to thrill . And it did.

Not much talking from Prince, he launched into one great song after another, on-stage for about one and a half hours, teasing and taunting the audience, going off into guitar solos at the drop of a hat with drums pounding ("not bad for a girl" he says) and horns blaring. The music sounds great but the vocals sounded a bit muddy. They did 'Honky Tonk Women' with Shelby J singing lead and 'The Long And Winding Road' with Prince all soulful (I've never liked that song and still don't) and Shelby leading on Gnarls Barkley's 'Crazy'. He was generous sharing some vocals with Shelby who has a great voice and does good strut.

It was a great show and the Arena seemed fine except for the sound problems. Getting home was a nightmare. First off being ushered out through an exit round the back rather than through the main entrance/exit meant a slow and increasingly painful walk through huge crowds moving slowly through relatively narrow 'streets' of restaurants and bars in a big arc round to the front, not pleasant at all. Then thinking it would be fun to get the clipper boat upriver to Waterloo... unfortunately a lot of other people thought that as well. We eventually got on the midnight boat and arrived at Waterloo after the tube had closed and ended up getting a taxi home (after another queue). Two and a half hours after the show ended we arrive home, knackered and with some of the shine knocked off the show. At least I know for next time!

It was a great show, though, and will stay in the memory for a good while. I loved the stage, bathed in colours and the whole thing was slick and very professional. Highlights for me were '1999', 'Guitar', 'Nothing Compares 2 U', 'Cream' and 'Purple Rain'. I liked the piece of 'Little Red Corvette' delivered by him at the piano as part of a medley (although I thought he'd benefit from playing lessons from Amanda Palmer, far too gentle, making love to his piano) and it was fun when he shouted out, "I've got too many hits".

Friday, 24 August 2007


As punishment for buying too many records I must go to the gym and the pool more. Or maybe I should bring the gym to me ...
I went to the physio this morning and he sat me on a big green gym ball to develop the band of 'core muscles' around my stomach and lower back. Sit and raise one leg then the other. Easier said than done. I used to do this with my personal trainer last year, except with him I was raising weights as well. All of it is about focusing on the band of muscle around your waist and strengthening it which is a good thing generally and, for me, will help to protect my back.

So this afternoon I went out and got one. After wobbling all over for a while I started to (vaguely) get the hang of it. Sitting properly and balancing is really rather strangely tiring. I'm going to set myself the task of 5 minutes morning and evening and I suppose I could even watch telly on it...Now, that's *my* kind of gym!

I have been bad...

Well, strictly speaking, I've been bad over the last couple of weeks and it came home to roost today, via Mr Postman.

I'd been out to see my physio at St George's and when I returned there was a lovely pile of parcels waiting for me. Christmas has come early! In five parcels I received:

Jane Aire & The Belvederes: her self-titled LP from 1979. That, I think, completes my collection of her vinyl and I will, over the weekend, burn me a 'The Complete Jane Aire' CD for my personal delectation. Kirsty MacColl and Rachel Sweet provided backing vocals on the LP. More will, no doubt, follow on Jane Aire...

'Greanta' by PottedHeid: I came across PottedHeid months ago on a sampler CD from Toppler Records and then found them on MySpace. I now have their one and only album - I suspect 'their' is actually 'his' since the band seems to be Fred who also masterminds Toxik Ephex. He's sent me the CD and just asked me to put a fiver in the post, so I will do. He also sent me a sampler CD of some of his other music that I haven't heard yet. One of my favourite PottedHeid tunes is 'Cheery Beery Night' with the title repeated over and over as a chorus, a lovely, simple song that does what it says on the can! The music is a strange mix of electro-celtic-eastern-folk songs - none of those labels are sufficient, really, but I like it.

'Follow Your Heart's Desire' by Pura Fe: ordered from the Music Maker Relief Foundation, an indie folk label in America with charitable status, Pura Fe's CD also arrived today in a huge envelope along with a magazine and stickers. The CD was even carefully wrapped in tissue paper - that's how special the music is.

I got Pura's latest CD from France a couple of weeks ago. I first found Pura on a DVD about 'powwow rock' with her vocal band, Ulali. I then found her on MySpace and listened to some of her solo tracks and liked what I heard. Pura identifies with the Tuscarora Nation that live in the southern states of America and a quote on the CD states that 'Pura Fe's voice soars the heavens, elegantly stating the indigenous influence on the birth of the blues.' I think I read somewhere that she's planning a new album and hoping to collaborate with her heroes like Buffy Sainte-Marie and Taj Mahal. Need I say more? Pura's excellent version of 'Summertime' is my current tune on my MySpace site.

'4 Track Sampler' by The Dresden Dolls : I won this CD/DVD on eBay a month ago but was accidentally sent the wrong CD so after some to-ing and fro-ing I finally have the right one. It's a few years old and is on Amanda's own 8ft Records label, from before The Dolls were signed to Roadrunner, so I was hoping that some of the songs might be earlier versions or demos. But, even if they weren't and they were exactly the same, then I'd still be happy to have it as a collectors item. Well, blow me, they *are* early versions, sounding rawer and live! Coo! On the CD are 'Girl Anachronism', 'Coin-Operated Boy', 'Gravity' and 'The Jeep Song'. The video for 'Girl Anachronism' is on the DVD. I'm particularly partial to 'The Jeep Song' so it's nice to have this version. One can never have too much Dresdens or Miss Amanda.

'Star - The Best Of Sylvester' by Sylvester: why isn't Sylvester available on re-mastered CD? I borrowed Chris's copy of this CD ages ago and have been listening to it regularly on iPey so thought it's about time I invested in my own copy. The ultimate Disco Diva has landed! We need more Sylvester.

'Looking Back - The Definitive Collection' by John Holt: a double CD from Trojan. I've been releasing my reggae soul over the summer and John is another one of those under-rated reggae stars from the '60s/'70s who deserves another listen. I bought his '1000 Volts of Holt' a month or so back and one of my favourite tracks is his wonderful version of 'Mr Bojangles'. He co-wrote 'The Tide Is High' with his band, The Paragons, which, presumably, still earns him money from Blondie's cover, but he did so much more than that.

'Very' by The Pet Shop Boys: the re-mastered double-CD version. I'm not a great PSB fan - or at least I wasn't until Chris took me to see them at Hammersmith a few months back. I've always been more of a PSB singles man rather than albums, but I'm slowly exploring their back catelogue. They've produced some truly great catchy songs over the years (and still are, with things like 'The Sodom And Gommorah Show') so I'm looking forward to listening to this.

So there you are. A nice selection, I think, with lots of different musical styles from the well-known and the less-well-known. It's nice exploring new music.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Chemically Clean and More Bollocks

From a pharmaceutical point of view, I'm the cleanest I've been in years. And it feels odd.

I've stopped taking the painkillers/anti-inflamatories that I've been taking for the last 14 months, stopped taking the synthetic morphine, not even a paracetamol since Friday. And no alcohol for two and a half months. I've had no pills (other than my diabeatnik-related ones) for two days now and it'll probably be another few days until the chemical remnants are fully out of my system. I've felt a bit strange all day and I can't really describe it. I thought that maybe my blood glucose was playing up but it's not (it seems under control for the first time in ages). It feels odd though. What's that old Ian Dury song about wanting to be straight?

Is this how the rest of you feel all the time?

Never Mind The Bollocks!

Mr Lydon's Army Of One site reports some important news:

To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ Virgin Records are releasing a series of stunning limited edition vinyl reissue replicas. The Sex Pistols first four classic 7" singles – the only singles that really matter – will be released one a week throughout October; followed by the legendary ‘Never Mind The Bollocks... Here's The Sex Pistols’ LP.

'Anarchy in the UK', 'God Save The Queen', 'Pretty Vacant' & 'Holidays In The Sun' will be issued in heavy-weight paper sleeves featuring all the original iconic artwork. ‘Never Mind The Bollocks' will complete the series; issued – just as it was originally released on October 28th 1977 – with the one-sided 'Submission' 7" single and 'NMTB' poster. It's the proper bollocks!

Release Dates:
Anarchy in the UK / I Wanna Be Me - October 1st
God Save The Queen / Did You No Wrong - October 8th
Pretty Vacant - October 15th
Holidays In The Sun / No Fun - October 22nd
Never Mind The Bollocks - October 29th (with Submission 7" & poster)

I never bought 'Anarchy' when it first came out so I'll make up for it this time round. But gosh, 30 years is a long time...

More Bollocks

As I've said before, fans have responsibilities as well as the joys of fandom, so I dutifully went to HMV after work to pick up the CD single of Maximo Park's 'Girls Who Play Guitars' (the CD also has a bonus track not available for download). In I go, happy-go-lucky and looking forward to a bit of a browse when I notice they've got the barriers up and crowds are filling the aisles near the stage... o bugger, there's a band on!

I scurried over to the singles section beside the stage and luckily the Maximo's single is on the 'public' side of the barrier so I grab a copy. Phew!

Shortly afterwards the band appeared. They're Japanese and no-one mentions their name and I'm not interested enough to look it up. They're loud and presumably 'experimental' or something. Wailing guitar and wierd synth sounds backed by relentless drumming. OK. Radical. I could well image some of the manga-esque kids there thinking this would scare their parents but really, it's not that new. As I left I thought they sounded a bit like Can on speed. Do young people still speed?

Now, I might think they're shite but I'll defend their right to be shite if they want to be. And I'm pleased that HMV stages these little promo gigs - I've seen the Maximos and Buzzcocks at HMV after all. So good on ya's for being brave enough to get up on stage and do your thing and good on HMV for hosting it. Just don't do it when I'm shopping for new releases, ok?

Maximo Park - Girls Who Play Guitars

The new single is out today, and most excellent it is too.

'Girls Who Play Guitars' was the opening song at Maximo gigs on the last tour and gets it all off to a good start. The single is available in various formats and you can download it and the 'B' sides from iTunes - 5 tracks for £1.99 is a bargain! Two versions of 'Girls' and three brand new Maximo songs for my delight, including another in the 'obituaries series', this time about artist Joe Brainard. I will, of course, pay a trip to my HMV-of-choice later for a hard copy.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

I'm Gorgeous

I *am* y'know. You might as well face facts.

I realised this fact when I was in the toilets at MisterSister the other night and I glanced up while I was standing doing my business, saw myself in a mirror and thought, 'cor!'. I'm not entirely sure why there are mirrors above the urinals. There were several beards that night but none as graceful or dynamic as mine. Gareth even referred to me as the closest to a 'glitter bear' in the party (which I'll assume was a compliment). Now, I didn't have any glitter on me but that's an idea for the upcoming festive season, and my beard is the perfect colour.

MisterSister seemed to be a great success for it's first night and Dawn was suitably attired in butterfly eyelashes. I think I was the first paying punter through the doors at about 9.30pm and it was most odd to see the place empty - I've seen it not very full before, but never empty. I indulged in a can of diet coke (I live on the wild side, y'see) as punters started appearing, which was a slight relief. Dawn was spinning the choons but had no SLADE (how can you call yourself a DJ and not have an emergency SLADE CD in your bag?). I was deathly tired after a week at work and walking along the south bank to Vauxhall, my back playing up from being stationary too long so after swallowing some pills we departed just before midnight, so missing the two turns that were coming on stage after midnight.

Anyway, back to me.

I confirmed my gorgeousosity this morning when I trimmed the beard. I'm not one to shape it or primp or preen but if you could see me with a freshly trimmed beard you'd understand.

This pic is a few weeks old now, but this is what you're missing...

Friday, 17 August 2007

Alela Diane at The Luminaire

I went to see the rather marvellous Alela Diane at The Luminaire in Kilburn tonight. The Luminaire is a new venue for me but I'd thoroughly recommend it. I'd also recommend Alela.

I found Alela Diane on MySpace following a rather convoluted search for Buffy Sainte-Marie which eventually led me to Mariee Sioux and then to Alela. I listened to her tracks on MySpace and downloaded a couple to enjoy and when I saw that she was coming to London I thought, 'why not...?'

The evening kicked off with Madam, a duo who were rather dirgey and made me think of 'goth-folk', followed by Simone White who had a nice voice that seemed to have some of the vocal mannerisms of Suzanne Vega. I quite liked some of the songs (especially the new single) but why do folkies have to mumble when they talk to the audience? She was clear enough while singing.

Then came Alela, accompanied by partner (?) Tom on bass guitar for most of the set. For some reason Alela stood in shade while Tom was in the spotlight which was odd. As soon as Alela started singing I knew I'd made the right choice in trekking up to Kilburn.

Alela has a wonderful clear, powerful and expressive singing voice and a lovely guitar picking style that made it sound like there were several people up there playing. She played the few songs I knew and a lot more. My favourites were 'Dry Grass And Shadows' and the encore song, 'The Rifle'. Her lyrics are intriguing, painting strange and sometimes disturbing pictures, other times witty or joyful, with the simple backing of two guitars. She played for about an hour (or just under) after which I headed straight for the merch booth to invest in her album and was also given an A4 tour poster as a bonus.

I'm pleased I went to see her. It's nice to discover new music and just goes to show that you shouldn't miss opportunities to see live music. I had a nice evening and now have a new musician to enjoy.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Beginnings and Endings and Some Things Go On Forever

I started my spinal conditioning class with the physios at St George’s in Tooting this morning. All the exercises were familiar from previous gym or physio sessions so they weren’t a shock but they still stretched me a bit, even though I was doing the ‘starter’ easy versions of the exercises. It’s nice to finally start that phase of my long and boring recuperation.

After the phsyio class I headed into town to see my surgeon at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital for my follow-up consultation. I got there a bit early so had a little wander round, re-visiting the Holy Flying Mackerel outside my previous ward and the operating theatre on the fifth floor to say goodbye since I didn’t expect to be back.

When my time came I had a short chat with the surgeon about the bits of disc still in my back which, he said, would be eaten up like Pacman over the next 18 months. The rest of it is just a case of getting over the operation and back to normal. So much disc was removed that I’m always going to have back problems so I need to do what I can to prevent further problems, losing more weight, possibly taking up pilates and staying fit.

While we were talking my SLADE badge fell onto the floor which I effortlessly bent over to pick up, something I wouldn’t have been able to do a few weeks back. That reminded the surgeon that ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’ was the first single he ever bought when he was 7 years old. So. It seems the Lords of Noize were watching over me all along...

I thanked him for his help while I needed treatment and, as he said, the rest is up to me. And I left the hospital for the last time. It was a strange departure in a way and a bit emotional which is odd since I have no ties there at all and, with the exception of the surgeon, my treatment there was very poor. Walking back to the tube I decided I'd send the surgeon a thank you present - I'll burn 'Cum On Feel The Noize' along with 'I'm Mee, I'm Now And That's Orl' (the 'B' side of the single) and send it to him. He's given me the gift of a normalish life again so the least I can do is give him the gift of Noize.

After that I decided I deserved a treat so got the tube along to the National Portrait Gallery to see the 'Devotional' exhibition, all contained within one small room. And there was the portrait of Poly Styrene by Pennie Smith right beside the door, next to Millie Small and underneath Linda Lewis. I saw the portrait last November in the NPG archives since it wasn't on public display so it was nice to see it on the walls, all proper-like.

There are two 'big' exhibitions at the NPG at the moment, one is the annual portrait award and the other is 'Daily Encounters' about photo-journalism. I didn't go to either exhibition but had to chuckle at the poster outside on the railings advertising it - the Sex Pistols! 30 years on and the Pistols are still a draw! I wonder if they know about this exhibition? Needless to say, I bought the card with that photo of the Pistols, all nice and clearly reproduced.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Amanda Palmer - Guitar Hero - 3rd August 2007 - Bush Hall

This is one of Amanda's new songs. The video is a nice reminder of a great night!

Amanda Palmer-I Will Follow You (Live Bush Hall 3-Aug-2007)

I was sitting on the floor mere yards from Amanda as she sang this. The sound isn't too good but it gives an impression of what she was like.

Phone Photos

I *like* my new phone. Mobile phones seem to either go down the route of having music as the secondary characteristic or a camera. I love my iPod and I like the idea of always having a camera with me, so I'm going down the camera route.

My latest phone is a Sony Ericsson that includes a 3.2 megapixel camera. It has lots of functions, a fantastic zoom and a great flash. The main drawback is the delay between pressing the button and the shutter taking the photo, which means it doesn't really capture motion. But I love it anyway and here are some of the photos I've taken in the past week:

Big Ben on my way to work walking over Westminster Bridge (yes, I know I was late... and I know Ben is the bell...). Sometimes I think I'm so lucky to work in the centre of London with the west entrance to Westminster Abbey a mere hundred yards from my building.

Parliament overlooking the Thames. I like the way the focus blurs the further away the building, a nice effect that was a total accident.
The South Bank Lion always looks so sad to me. He's perched at the southern end of Westminster Bridge and looks south-west.
St Paul's Cathedral in the distance from the promenade outside the National Theatre. It's scenes like this that make me love London.

The entrance to St Leonard's Church in the centre of Streatham. There's been a church on this site for over one thousand years and this is just the latest building which has suffered from some rather bad renovations. Within a hundred yards or so of the church is an Islamic Centre, a Catholic church, a synagogue, several pubs, a betting shop, a sauna, two Chinese medicine shops, a Christian bookshop ... all life is here.The grave-yard at St Leonard's. It's surprising how peaceful it is and yet it's merely yards from the hustle of the busy High Road (you can see a red double-decker bus through the screen of trees and bushes at bottom right).The park cafe under the trees on Tooting Common. The Common is a haven of peace surrounded by the bustle of south-west London and it's surprisingly big and spread out. I had a nice stroll round the Common and it was full of mothers and babies enjoying the afternoon sunshine. I liked these pollarded trees along one of the paths on the Common .
This was quite poignant. On several of the paths are various benches with small plaques dedicated to the memory of local people who have died. In the centre of this bench is a small boquet of flowers tied with string under the plaque. It isn't a recent dedication, so someone has a long memory and fondness for the departed.The pond in the middle of the Common. It was renovated a few years ago, the banks shored up and new pathways paved around the water so that people could get closer and walk round it in safety. The ducks were feeding while I was there and the white blob on the left and the paler shape on the right are a pair of swans. The oddity of Westminster Cathedral at Victoria. There was some kind of gathering going on in the plaza at the front. It's quite nice inside and at Christmas you can see huge trees lit with candles from the doorway. The colours haven't quite come out in the photo, but I was struck by the fresh green of the bamboo leaves against the blue of the afternoon sky. The bamboo was peering above the wall of a garden outside my gym and it caught my eye.

A Few Good Women

It's time to promote and praise a few women who have one thing in common - they're all my 'friend' on MySpace. Okay, so most of them probably don't actually *know* that they're my friend, but that's a mere detail.

Amanda Palmer

Amanda is playing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe at the moment and reading this review in The Scotsman and seeing the wonderful photos of Amanda from the Livejournal blog of Two-Truths (whose photo was also used in The Scotsman) made me want to fly up to Edinburgh at the weekend and see the show for myself. She's sold out. The shows I mean. Drat.

So here are the great photos from Two Truths (who I hope doesn't mind me nicking them and reproducing them here). It looks like the lads from Zen Zen Zo (who performed at the Roundhouse in support of The Dresden Dolls last year) are helping out in the pics.

Linda Thompson

Linda Thompson has one of those wonderful voices, raw and powerful, delicate and swelling with emotion, but seems to be a niche taste. I like her. One of my favourite albums is 'First Light' by Richard and Linda Thompson which isn't currently available on CD (I got the vinyl back in the day). Well, she has a new album out this week (I think, I've seen different release dates) and it deserves a mention.

While Googling for a photo of the album I came across a torrent site that already has the album available for download. That's sad. I'll wait and buy the real thing. You can catch a preview of some songs on Linda's MySpace site - I love the brass band on the title track! I'm looking forward to hearing the full album.


A must buy at the earliest opportunity is Siouxsie's new album, 'Mantaray', available in September. The 'Into A Swan' single (I posted the video in July) is released a week or so earlier. Samples of the music are available on the 'Mantaray' site so go and have a listen.

Michelle Shocked

Michelle also has a new album out in September and is playing at Union Chapel in Islington on 6 September. Needless to say I have tickets.

I don't know anything about the album and found out about it by accident but I like Michelle. Her last album was a triple album that was released as a triple and as three single albums so, I suppose, it'll be a relief to only have one new album this time! I'm looking forward to seeing her play and hope she includes some of the oldies (I like the way she updates 'Anchorage' so that the babe in the song is now at college).

Dawn Right Nasty

And I couldn't blog about women without mentioning the new endeavour by her former highness, the RedHairedQueer herself, Dawn Right Nasty. Dawn's new club night is MisterSister (gosh, I wonder what that refers to?) and opens this Friday. Since Amanda Palmer's shows are sold out then we might have to trundle along to Vauxhall, although I doubt I'll be boogying on down at 3am... But you've got to admire someone who has some dreams and ambitions and tries to make 'em happen.

Deborah Harry

Debbie also has a new album out in September and deserves a mention. Debbie is an icon. Enough said.

It must be difficult being Debbie 30 years on. We all know and love the old stuff (I got the re-issue of 'Parallel Lines' only a few months ago) but she wants to go forward and produce new stuff. I'll suspend any judgement until I've heard the full album and I fully expect to like it.

Suzi Quatro

Of course, I can't blog about current and future endeavours of my MySpace women without an honourary mention of Suzi's new autobiography, 'Unzipped', that I blogged about below.

That's not a bad haul is it? Makes it a costly month for me though!

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Suzi Quatro 'Unzipped' at Borders

Suzi Quatro's just published her autobiography, 'Unzipped', and is on the promotional trail. This evening was her first stop and I was lucky enough to be there to see her at Borders on Charing Cross Road.

At 6.45pm I was standing outside Borders on the phone to Chris and who should walk past me and go into the shop? Suzi! She actually walks on pavements the same as everyone else (but she has 'people' with her, of course). Wearing jeans and a tailored leather jacket over a tee shirt, she's looking good.

Upstairs in the music section of the shop, a corner is prepared for the talk, with rows of seats and a comfy arm chair at the front for Suzi. I squeeze into a seat just as she comes round to get the ball rolling, maybe 50 or so people seated and standing. She spoke for maybe 15 minutes about why she wrote the book, telling us about her "ego room" of memories in her house, and then took questions for about 25 minutes, including a 5-10 minute monologue about her great hero, Elvis. Then the ritual of signing books.

It was really nice seeing Suzi again so quickly after seeing her at Wimbledon, and I told her I enjoyed seeing her there. She's been at this game a long time but it means a lot to people like me to see a true star from yesteryear and the great thing is that she's still playing live and recording new material and not stuck in nostalgia-ville. I'm looking forward to a good read...