Monday, February 28, 2005

LIESGANG/WHITE ‘Visual Surveillance of Extremities’

LIESGANG/WHITE ‘Visual Surveillance of Extremities’ ESM 122 Escape Music (2005)

Interesting pairing this with guitarist Bill Liesegang hooking-up with vocalist Doogie White (Cornerstone/Rainbow). Put simply those who hanker after Rainbow and classic hard rock will be very pleased with this album (and of course the fans of the excellent Cornerstone). Opener ‘A Prayer For The Dying’ could easily be a Rainbow song of today, right down to the Blackmore styled guitar riffs. ‘Snake Eyes’ takes it one further (with a backing riff that sounds uncannily like ‘Star Struck’!) throwing in classic Deep Purple nuances. The repetitive guitar riff again reminds you of Rainbow. Another Rainbow connection has to be Liesegang’s guitar workout on the instrumental based on the classical music of Vivalidi. ‘Last Temptation’ could be an Ozzy solo track and is the heaviest track on by far. ‘New Addiction’ mixes rock bombast with some almost soulful high pitched vocals – a great mix and possibly the best vocal performance on the album.

Sure it’s not original in parts but it is just so damn good you can’t help but smile and lap it up. If this album doesn’t highlight what an underrated vocal talent Doogie White is then nothing will.

Pretty damn essential for lovers of classic hard rock.


FAIRPORT CONVENTION ‘Over The Next Hill’ Matty Grooves Records (2004)

Some bands like wines get better with age and Fairport Convention are certainly one of these type of bands. 2004 marked a traumatic year for the band as the bass player Dave Pegg separated from his wife, Christine and this meant major upheaval as these two people were the driving force behind the band’s label Woodworm Records and the annual Cropredy festival. Thankfully it wasn’t too messy and the band soldier on producing one of their best studio albums in over fifteen years in my humble opinion. Interestingly there are a lot of outside writers this time including Steve Tilston, Ben Bennion and a Dylan cover – ‘Si Tu Dois Partir’. Band mainstay Simon Nicol still sounds in fine voice and relative ‘newboy’ Chris Leslie seems to have breathed life into the band and has a decent set of vocals himself.

Highlights include ‘I’m Already There’ and Fairport do a bit of prog rock even on ‘Wait For The Tide To Come In’. Violinist Ric Sanders shows his worth on the two instrumental medleys the uptempo ‘Canny Capers’ and ‘Some Special Place’. ‘Westward’ is the sort of rousing folk tune Fairport does so well.

If you’ve never sampled the delights of this band this album is as good as nay place to start. We are very lucky to have such a gifted and talented band like this still producing fine music this many years down the line.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

I've just walked past Dr Who!!!

I am lucky (?) enough to work in central London so you do see a few famous faces and today I walked past a Timelord! Yes it was Tom Baker - huffing & puffing his way down the road near Trafalgar Square with some shopping. Do Timelords shop???

Last week I saw that perma tanned ponce Dale Winton posing for photographers outside the Ivy resturant. Never has anyone with so litle talent gone so far...

Other 'celebs' spotted this year include twitcher and Goodie Bill Oddie browsing the jazz CD's in Virgin Oxford Street and Mike Reid (ex-Eastenders) looking like an East End gangster carrying a silver steel briefcase and wearing a John Motosn approved kaftan. Never have liked him since he presented that kids TV quiz 'Runaround' and he scared me witless with his voice.

More as I see them!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Black #5

Now here is a band I've been following since they put out their first demo EP back in 2002. I've seen them live four times so far and each time they are getting better with a very tight live sound. Musically they are a mix of classic 70's rock riffery of say Led Zep with a touch of Pearl Jam.

Their debut album is a 'must have' and I realy think they have that sepcial 'it' factor that seperates the great from the good bands.

Discover more at Black Number #5

Monday, February 21, 2005

Bradenburg by Henry Porter (Orion) Published June 2005

In my school days I used to devour the works of such spy thriller writers as Len Deighton, Gavin Lyall, Anthony Price, Le Carre etc It's been a long time since I've read a good spy thriller (bar 'Fatherland' by Robert Harris) but now Henry Porter has produced a book here that will I am sure delight fans of these authors.

I read Porter's previous novel, 'Empire State' and although it was a good read it was nothing like 'Brandenburg', which has a high level of suspense going on throughout the book plus plenty of twists and turns plot wise. It brings the espionage novel back into vogue and the description's of the disintegration of East Germany are a masterstroke as it sets the novel into context nicely. I'd say easily on par with 'Fatherland' that modern benchmark of espionage/historical thrillers.

Stoke win again!

Blimey, two wins on the trot now! Debutant Kewyne Jones (on loan from Southampton) scored on his debut with a cross provided by fellow newboy Kevin Harper (signed recently from Portsmouth - one of Pullis' old clubs). A good result especially as three regular defenders were absent through injury and/or suspension.

Still no start for Thordur Gudjonsson - bizarrely signed by the chairman rather than the manager. It's to keep interest going in Stoke back in Iceland apparently. Hope he does get a run out as he has already scored twice in the reserves and did well in his time at Derby a few years ago.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

New hunting laws in force this Friday

The latest appeal by the pro-hunt Countryside Alliance has been rejected and it looks as if hunting animals with dogs will become illegal from Friday 18th Feb in the UK. It's been a long campaign & its good to see hunting getting moderated.
I am not against 'drag' hunts (whereby a false scent is laid and the dogs/huntsmen chase after this trail) but the frankly evil practice of 'blooding' on first hunts and the cruel way in which (mainly) foxes are killed is abhorent. Don't be fooled by pro-huntsmen and there 'way of life' speeches. They can easily carry on with other, more humane types of humting. After all its the thrill of the chase that's meant to be the attraction.
What amazes me is that many of their supporters haven't even lived in the countryside. My local councillor has pro-hunt stickers in his car - even though he lives in west London and was bought up in Wandsworth! So he really knows the issues and has experienced the country way of life - not! Mind you what else woud you expect from a Tory :)

Glen Burtnik interview

Here is a snippet of a 10Q's with GLEN BURTNIK. He is a wonderful singer/songwriter whose had a string of solo albums plus had two stints with STYX.
Albums worth owning featuring Glen B are 'Welcome To Hollywood', 'Heroes & Zeroes' and STYX's 'Cyclorama'

1. What are you currently up to?
Writing songs, thinking up another way to make a living...Oh, and they tell me big shot country singer Jo Dee Messina has recorded a song of mine as the title track to her new album.

I am slowly working on some more videos for Welcome To Hollywood as well. There's a chance I might release the album as a DVD in the States.

2. Take us through some of your personal highlights of the new album `Welcome To Hollywood' please
Well, first let me point out the cool remix of the title song. On that "hidden" track (which can be found only as CD-ROM data) a number of fans and friends actually helped.

Initially remixed and augmented by "The Hit Maker", then my son Beau added some more track to it, and I next added sound-bytes from people who'd contributed recordings of themselves reciting the album's title. I think that's kind of exciting, it makes it like a community project.

Let's see, of course I like a lot on the album. Off the top of my head, I love the background vocals on THE MUSE (Antonique Smith, Barbara Hahn, Everett Bradley & I).

Kiss Your Ass Goodbye is one of my favorite songs I've ever written, ANOTHER is one of my all-time best best ballads and Production-wise, I feel like SUPER BOY is probably the most elaborate thing I've ever been involved with.

I also dig the bonus DVD.

Full interview here

Monday, February 14, 2005

The Ripple Effect by Dominic Holland

Finally got hold of a copy of this book as I've been meaning to read it for ages after reading rave reviews about it. The author started as a stand-up comic and as you'd expect 'The Ripple Effect' is very funny. The basic plot starts when a bakery supervisor misses out some jam in a doughnut which in turn starts of a series (or 'ripple') of events, all of which are linked into the fate of the local football club, Middleton FC. In the current climate of football club's financial plight this is a very timely book and although written in a light hearted style it features many true life characters such as the money mad agent, the star footballer with an over inflated ego and the corrupt businessmen plotting to buy the football club and then sell the ground to a property developer. You could argue these are stereotypical characters but they (sadly in many cases) do exist in the real world.
It is written in a very readable style and of the 'hooks' of the book is how each character's life gets tracked back to the doughnuts with the missing jam! You don't have to be a football fan to enjoy this book and I would heartily recommend it as an ideal holiday/travel to work read. Holland has written one other book so far, 'Only In America', which is a comedy/romance and again has had good reviews.

Charity walk

Football fans are a loyal lot and none more so than a group of Brentford fans who are walking from Brentford up to Hartlepool to raise money for the club. Good on them and a worthy cause, like mnay other fan based fund raising ideas. But you could never see many players doing this could you???

Bee's Walk

Friday, February 11, 2005

Election fever?

Well Tony Blair still seems to be telling the media that he doesn't have the Genral Election date set - yeah right we believe you! What with the impending marraige of Charles & Camilla you can bet that Blair announces the election date just before the wedding and hope to capitalise on the 'feelgood' factor of a royal wedding. But when its announced will the UK public get all excited about it?
I see the Tories are quick of the mark with their old faithful immigration and expect crime to feature heavily as well. But can they seriously expect to get in with Michael Howard as their leader? As the famouus quote about him says 'there is something about the night about him'.
Meanwhile Labour have recalled Alistair Campbell who was quickly into the news thanks to his expeltive e-mail to BBC's 'Newsnight'. Blair & Brown's spat seems to have gone quiet for now - that's a bit like the Queen & Prince Charles - the ones with the power are damned if they will let anyone else have it.
Liberal Democarts have been firaly quiet so far bar shooting down in flames the Tories vs. Labour plans for immigration.
UKIP well they will doubtless do well with protest votes but at General Elections people tend to stick with old loyalities. Be surprised if they won a seat but they may cause a few Tories & Labour MP's to lose their seats.
Veritas or Kilroy-Silk's ego party. Mmm, he may do well but I think they won't win any seats. At the moment an IT company with the same name is trying to get KS to change the party's name!
One things for sure the press will be full of election fever from here on in...

Christopher Fowler

Maybe not an author many people have heard of but he’s been writing since the 1980’s and produce some wonderful, dark novels including ‘Roofworld’ - a must read, the story of two rival gangs and their 'otherworld' on the rooftops of London. Other books worth a go include any featuring the oddball detective duo of Bryant & May (Transworld have published two new books in this series and they really are excellent crime/black humour reads) and Fowler has also done numerous short story collections. These are sometimes hard to track down as he has been published by a number of publishers down the years. 'Sharper Knives', 'City Jitters' and 'Personal Demons' are amongst the best.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the books for me is the hidden facts you find out about London through reading his novels, that and the darker side of humanity are what makes his books so appealing.

Queen tour band confirmed

Well the band to accompany Queen's Brian May & Roger Taylor and Paul Rodgers has been announced -

Jamie Moses (guitars) he's been a member of Brian May's solo band & is a very talented player. Recently toured with Paul Young (the 80's pop singer - not the sadly deceased Sad Cafe/Mike & the Mechanics singer).

Spike Edney (keys) toured & recorded with Queen from the mid-80's onwards, then was a member of the Cross (Roger Taylor's band who released three good albums) and now is the mastermind behind the SAS Band. The SAS Band do a series of giggs worldwide and have a loose line-up that has included all of Queen plus Jamie Moses is a regular member as well.

Danny Miranda (bass) has spent the last ten years in Blue Oyster Cult and only recently left the band to join the 'We Will Rock You' houseband at the US show. He's done solo work as well and is good live performer i.e. unlike most bassists he isn't glued to one spot all night.

So a very talented line-up but more importantly they will gell well as they are used to the Queen songs and I am sure they can get their heads around the Free/Bad Co songs with ease.

Roll on the 11th May show at Wembley :)

Thursday, February 10, 2005

R.E.M. re-issues

R.E.M. fans will have a good reason to "Get Up" on March 1, the release day for reissues of the band's entire Warner Bros. catalog in deluxe two-disc editions offering loads of previously unavailable material. All nine CD/DVD combos (GREEN, OUT OF TIME, AUTOMATIC FOR THE PEOPLE, MONSTER, NEW ADVENTURES IN HI-FI, UP, REVEAL, IN TIME: THE BEST OF R.E.M., and AROUND THE SUN) will be available March 1 at all retail outlets and at for a suggested retail price of $24.98 each.

Every R.E.M. reissue will consist of the album as it was originally released on one CD, plus a DVD with a 5.1 surround sound version of the album remixed by Grammy winning engineer Elliot Schiener, web links, an expanded booklet that features new liner notes and rarely seen archival photos, documentaries, and much more.

GREEN (1989) marked R.E.M.'s Warner Bros. debut and lifted the band to a new level of popularity, thanks to the hits "Pop Song '89," "Stand," and "Orange Crush." The bonus DVD includes an unreleased documentary video and two live performances from the "Tour Film" DVD.

OUT OF TIME (1991) continued to broaden R.E.M.'s audience with one of their biggest hit singles, "Losing My Religion," as well as "Shiny Happy People," and "Radio Song." The DVD includes the unreleased "Time Piece" documentary, which mixes band member interviews with commentaries about the songs.

With AUTOMATIC FOR THE PEOPLE (1992), the band achieved their greatest commercial success as well as one of their finest artistic statements. The CD contains the smash "Everybody Hurts," and the audience favorite "Man On The Moon." The DVD features a short film set in Athens, GA, made to support the release, which includes segments showing the band playing portions of songs in the studio.

MONSTER (1994) saw the band expanding its sound, creating an album featuring the aggressive rockers "What's The Frequency, Kenneth?" and "Star 69," as well as the delicate "Tongue" and "Strange Currencies." This DVD offers interviews with the band and unreleased live performances of "What's The Frequency, Kenneth?," "Let Me In," and "I Don't Sleep, I Dream."

NEW ADVENTURES IN HI-FI (1996) showed the band pushing themselves even further artistically, offering a wide range of song styles with tracks like "E-bow The Letter," "Leave," "Bittersweet Me," and "Electrolite," many of which were recorded live at soundchecks on the Monster tour. The DVD features an unreleased video documentary.

UP (1998) found the band redefining itself after the departure of drummer Bill Berry. Songs like "Daysleeper" "At My Most Beautiful," and "Walk Unafraid" demonstrated that R.E.M.'s creative juices flowed unabated. The DVD includes extracts from the unreleased film "Uptake," featuring three songs and interview footage.

REVEAL's (2001) "Imitation Of Life," "All The Way To Reno (You're Gonna Be A Star)," and "She Just Wants To Be" reflect a mood of contemplation and renewal in the best tradition of R.E.M.'s songwriting. This album's DVD includes a documentary about the album and the remixed video for "I'll Take The Rain."

IN TIME: THE BEST OF R.E.M. (2003) collects the band's best-loved tunes from the Warner Bros. years, as well as "All The Right Friends" (from the Vanilla Sky soundtrack) and the previously unreleased "Bad Day" and "Animal." The DVD includes the ground-breaking video for "Bad Day" in both the standard version and a multi-angle version shot at rehearsal in Seattle.

AROUND THE SUN (2004) the band's latest offering, includes the single "Leaving New York." The DVD includes lyrics, a photo gallery, and unreleased video footage.

Taken as a whole, these R.E.M. reissues prove the band to be one of the most artistically challenging of the last 25 years, constantly pushing themselves to grow with each new CD and careful not to repeat themselves, a band with "Drive."

The surround sound versions of these releases are playable on any DVD player. The advanced resolution audio is accessible on DVD-Audio equipment.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Stoke to sign a striker who can score shock!

Three crime writers I've recently enjoyed reading...

There are a wealth of crime novelists out there - some great (Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly, Peter Robinson, Denis Lehane, Mark Billingham), some not bad (Ed McBain, Simon Brett, James Patterson, Colin Bateman) and some just plain average (Kathy Reichs, Tess Geritsen). Well I've found three more crime writers to add to any fans list...

Johnathon King - features retired cop Max Freeman and set in the Florida Everglades. Great atmosphere and convincing characters - low body counts! New novel 'Killing Time' out in May.

Steve Hamilton - best of the three. Novels set in US & Canada featuring Alex McKnight. 'Ice Run' cracks along at a frantic pace and is well worth reading IMHO. this is out in paperback in the UK in April.

Jeff Abbott - only just getting UK publication now and these feature a retired judge cum beachbum. Aginn the three novels I've read by him are fast paced - slightly shallow characters at times but overall a writer to keep an eye on.

All three are published in the UK by Orion -

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Birthday Boy

...yes it's my birthday today and another year older, although not necassarily wiser.
Highlights in the past year? Seeing my daughter do well at school & reading (I couldn't read or write properly until the age of 8 due to going a trendy 70's school that believed in letting children learn on their own); getting two top vocalists - Jeff Scott Soto & Mitch Malloy dwon to gigs at Stripes Bar in Brentford; rasing £100 in a recent charity raffle for the Tsunami appeal; finding out that my maternity cover job was made permanent; watching my daughter's sheer enjoyment of life especially swimming and playing.

Hmmm...not getting a buyer for our house and seeing the outrageou prices property goes for in London/SEast; putting on weight or a 'muffin top' as it is called in our household!

Famous people who share the same birthday as me? Well its a select group - actor Jack Lemmon (RIP) & Motley Crue 'vocalist' Vince Neil.

MOTORHEAD ‘Ace Of Spades – Classic Album’ (DVD)

MOTORHEAD ‘Ace Of Spades – Classic Album’ (DVD) Eagle Vision (2005)

Another of the extremely watchable ‘Classic Albums’ series and this one looks at Motorhead’s classic ‘Ace Of Spades’ album. Plenty for the Motorhead fans on here including a brief history of Lemmy and the band (including the real reason why he was sacked from Hawkwind), complete with their first appearance on BBC TV’s ‘Top Of The Pops’ performing the cover ‘Louie Louie’. All three members of that classic album’s line-up are interviewed with Lemmy sharing the same studio as drummer Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor and ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke interviewed separately. Lemmy and Taylor do make a very funny double act throughout the programme and seem to be still seem to get on well together. You also get the usual tributes from fellow musicians like Slash, Girlschool and Metallica’s Lars Ulrich, along with rock DJ Tommy Vance and Gerry Bron, the founder of Bronze Records.
Each song on the album is discussed and tales from the studio/road are remembered. There is plenty of bonus material including Lemmy/Taylor/Clarke re-recording tracks – ‘(We Are) The Roadcrew’ and ‘The Chase Is Better Then The Catch’ – but as instrumentals only. Plus Lemmy holds forth on various issues and Eddie Clarke shows the development of that classic ‘Ace Of Spades’ riff.
All in all a very enjoyable DVD and it certainly shows what a lasting impact this album has made on rock music.

Monday, February 07, 2005


Picked this up recently from Amazon and as the title suggests it’s Tom Baker’s life story. He’s most famous I suppose for playing Dr. Who but any fans of this programme will be in for a surprise as this only forms part of the book. Instead he regales us with tales of his poor Catholic childhood in Liverpool and a series of jobs ranging from a pottery job in Stoke to being a monk. What amazed me most was how funny his writing is and also how crude it gets at times (boy does he have a fascination with male genitalia) – he could easily write a ‘Viz’ cartoon strip. His personal life reveals lots of heartbreak and as a person he comes over as very shy and lacking confidence in himself – much of this down to his childhood.
Baker is still on TV and has gained a new legion of fans I am sure with his voice over on ‘Little Britain’.
Sadly now out of print but you can still get the odd copy when it goes up for sale on Amazon. Well worth a read.


Well I went to see a preview of this at the weekend with my daughter and I was expecting it to be poor – how can you best the subliminal drugs fuelled originals? I mean come on Dougal goes all starry eyed with a magic sugar lump! It’s a starry cast for the voiceovers with Tom Baker on fine form as the evil Zeebad, Robbie Williams as Dougal (he’s surprisingly good) and of course Kylie as Florence. Forget the plot – basically three diamonds are needed by Zeebad to turn the Magic Roundabout world into an ice age – and just revel in the fantastic computer animation. Parts are very slapstick and you get a cracking soundtrack that includes ELO’s ‘Mr Blue Sky’ and Pilot’s ‘Magic’ (it seems cheesy 70’s songs are back in vogue again with filmmakers).
It’s a fun movie and as usual there are adult ‘in jokes’ (look out for Dylan’s ‘Pulp Fiction’ quip), but compare to say ‘Shrek’ it lacks that overall magical feel.

The Gods are back!

...the Gods of Rock festival is back this year, again based in Bradford on the 6th & 7th May. Cracking line-up of melodic rock inc. Soul Sirkus, Firehouse and one of my fave bands House of Shakira.
Shame there aren't any showcase gigs for newer bands like Sacred Heart ( or Tara's Secret. But good on the organizers for putting on what on paper could be a gig of the year :)

Sunday, February 06, 2005


Saturday, February 05, 2005

Classic Rock Newswire

...selfless plug time as this is the new/reviews service I run (with others) on Yahoo! If you like rock/metal/prog/folk/AOR etc it's all here...

Swill & the Swaggerband

Stripes Bar, Brentford FC - Friday 4th Feb 2005

New name to me but Swill is the singer/songwriter with 80's folk rockers The Men They Couldn't Hang (the band's bass player also forms part of the Swaggerband). It was a very informal gig with various musicians joining Swill on satge as required and it made for a very 'intimate' atmosphere. As for the music it ranged from good old rock 'n' roll to folk via some touching solo vocal slots from Swill.The musicianship was top rate and featured everything from acoustic guitars to mandolins via a tin shaker. Well worth seeing live & I am off to get some THTCH CD's...
Support came from a Ukranian accordian player (he was in the Ukranians, a band who are well known in world music cicrles I am led to believe), who did a short set sung in his native tongue and boy did he have a deep, booming voice. Just shows that music overcomes any language barriers.


Well I am new to this 'blogger' game but I thought I could use it to add my views/thoughts on books, music, films & life in genral.

Cool websites - - oh yeah, my other 'sin' is supporting Stoke City!
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