I hear the sirens calling
As the rain is gently falling

Sticky Shamen

shamenchristophermayhewstickerI’ve got a couple of big boxes full of music-related stuff that I have hoarded over the years – flyers, tickets, passes, a few press releases, a few promo photos, blah-de-blah. I should probably send most of it for recycling. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to pull a few things out at random, scan them, and pop them up here. Well, it’ll amuse me.

First up – and I did simply put my hand into one of the boxes and played lucky dip – is a sticker for The Shamen’s “Christopher Mayhew Says” 12-inch, a popadelic gem from 1987. The sticker is quite flimsy and very, er, blue. I wonder if they did them in other colours?

Related posts: Won’t get spooled again

The punk supper club

thelastsupperpunkbyrodakrodakThis is The Last Supper Punk by an artist called Rodakrodak. I’m afraid I can’t tell you much about Rodakrodak beyond the fact that he/she comes from Mexico – and I only know that because it says so on his/her profile at the Deviant Art website. Check out more of his/her work here.

So here’s the big question, boys and girls. How many of these iconic punk figures can you name? I reckon I’ve got 10 of the 13, maybe 11. I can give you Sid Vicious (taking the role of Jesus, no less) and Joey Ramone to help you on your way. OK, since those are probably two of the easiest to identify anyway, I’ll also chuck in Ian MacKaye from Minor Threat and Fugazi (bald bloke, green shirt, far right). Click on the image for a larger version.

Related posts: 1977 punk collage from Sounds, Jesus save Paul McCartney, Shooting John Lydon

A very large and very furry hat

This is the video for Loop Guru’s superbly otherworldly “Sussan”. It came out on Nation Records in 1994 and features Iranian singer Sussan Deyhim, who has also worked with the likes of Peter Gabriel, Jah Wobble and Jerry Garcia. I co-managed Loop Guru with my old pal James Clayton for a big chunk of the 1990s and I remember being very excited when Sussan arrived in London to hook up with the group for the first time. That’s not Sussan in the video, though. She was on her way back home by the time that was filmed.

But no matter, because someone a lot more interesting than Sussan is in there. I’m talking about the good looking guy in the very large and very furry hat. He is only in a few shots, so you will need to watch closely. Yes, dear friends, this was the start of my career as a music video extra. It was the end of it too.

For more videos, photos and other Loopy stuff, click here for a terrific Facebook group about Loop Guru. It’s run by Sam Dodson, aka Loops bass and guitar dude Salman Gita.

Firestopper

simonsnorkelfireengineI’ve got one of these beauties. A Simon Snorkel Fire Engine die-cast toy, model number 1127, first manufactured by Corgi in the mid-1960s. I’ve had it since I was a toddler. The “snorkel” is the cherry picker, which goes up and down by turning a couple of little metal knobs. I remember being endlessly fascinated by the plastic fireman in the yellow cradle, but I wasn’t much interested in actively playing with the toy. I used to keep it on my bedroom window sill and it’s still in near mint condition. It lives in its original box now and the box is also in great nick.

Oriignally established to rival the Meccano Dinky Toys range, Corgi was one of the main toy vehicle manufacturers of the 1960s and 1970s, and the Simon Snorkel 1127 was a popular model, so there’s always several for sale on eBay. In tip-top condition, they generally go for somewhere near £100. You’d have to pay me a lot more than that for mine, though. An awful lot more.


Heavyosity

edgarbroughtonbandIf you missed my latest Frome FM radio show (shame on you), you will no doubt be happy to learn that it is now available in the station’s online archives. Yes siree. This time round, my playlist consisted of late 1960s and early 1970s British heavy rockers, with tracks by the likes of The Pink Fairies, Deep Purple, The Groundhogs, Armageddon, Hawkwind, Black Sabbath, The Gun, Leaf Hound, Fuzzy Duck and the wonderful Edgar Broughton Band (pictured above). Get listening here.


Ralf und Jon

kraftwerktatekraftwerkjonsnowThere are vast numbers of Kraftwerk fans out there and, thanks to a telephone system made of old baked bean tins and a computer server powered by a hamster in a wheel, most of them didn’t get a ticket for the group’s week-long series of gigs at the Tate Modern in London. Somebody who did was Channel 4 News anchor Jon Snow, who is pictured here with his 3-D goggles at the “Trans Europe Express” night. The shot was posted on Twitter by Channel 4 News journalist Jennifer Rigby.

You can read a review of the “Trans Europe Express” show, which saw Ralf Hutter and his buddies also playing material from “The Man Machine” and “Computerworld”, at the Facebook page for Electronic magazine. The first two paragraphs of the review are below. Click here for the rest and don’t forget to hit the “like” button on the page while you’re there. I am talking to you too, Mr Snow. If you’re into Kraftwerk, I guarantee you’ll be into Electronic.

kraftwerktatereview


Tweeting with Keith Levene

keithlevenebyfabiolugaroI recently had a tweet from former PiL guitarist Keith Levene. He’d seen an interview I did with his old pal Jah Wobble in 1990 on my archive website (read it here) and wanted to know why I’d never interviewed him. I told him I would get to him eventually, but I’ve got to him quicker than I thought thanks to Ian Leak at Frome FM, who was putting together a special show about Keith and asked me to take part in a three-way chat with Keith for the broadcast.

The programme goes out this Wednesday (6 February) at 10.30pm and you can listen in online at the Frome FM site (click here). You’ll hear several tunes from Keith Levene’s new solo album, “Searching 4 Absolute Zero”, plus one or two old favourites. Alongside the music, Ian and I talk to Keith about the album, his PiL days, his stint in The Clash (he was a founder member of the group), his first job in the music business as a roadie for Yes, and his uncredited work on backing tracks for Ice-T and Tone Loc.

While the shows airs, Keith will be hosting a listening party on Twitter, using #keithlevenelive. Ian Leak and I will be tweeting too, so feel free join in the fun. Keith is @missingchannel, Ian is @bagpusspostgate and I’m @pushtweeting.

Keith Levene photo by Fabio Lugaro


Circle lines

londontubemapbymaxwellrobertsIf you want to know what’s going on beneath the streets of London, Dr Maxwell Roberts is your man. He is the author of Underground Maps Unravelled, a book about the history, science and design aesthetics of subterranean cartography, with a particular focus on the London Underground map. Apart from the additions at its edges, the official London tube map hasn’t changed much since it was originally designed by Harry Beck in 1931, but Max Roberts has refashioned it several times in recent years. One of his maps reflected the true distances between the stations and another was in the style of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. His latest reworking is this groovy circular version. Click the image to see it in its full glory. It’s a beautiful thing, baby.


Here comes sickness

Look, I know we’re still in January, but I don’t think I’m going to see or hear anything better than this in 2013. I mean, this is seriously good. Seriously. Fucking. Good.

The band are Manflu and the track is “Wizard”. They’re based in London, but the five members of Manflu are from five different countries – Kazakhstan, Japan, France, the US and the UK. They share a liking for Can, they’ve played with Lydia Lunch, and another of their songs is called “James Chance”. They’ve also got one about about porno queen Sasha Grey. They’re not a totally new band (they’ve been around since 2009 and “Wizard” first appeared as the lead cut on their second EP, which they released in 2011), but this video is straight out of the box. Directed by Diana Horrorshow, it was uploaded to YouTube a few days ago and has been viewed by just a couple of thousand people so far. Be the first on your block and all that.


Let there be house

fingersincNow I know you are all regular listeners to my monthly radio show on Frome FM. You can hear it online, so there really is no excuse for you not tuning in, even if you live on the other side of Somerset. Or the world, come to that. Anyway, if you’re not always able to listen in, you’ll be glad to learn that Frome FM have recently added an archive area to their site and you can find my latest broadcast there. This show features the old skool house pioneers, with tracks by the likes of Fingers Inc (pictured above), Marshall Jefferson, Frankie Knuckles, Nitro Deluxe, Sterling Void, Todd Terry and Farley “Jackmaster” Funk. Flick on your jacking switch and hear it here.


Jesus saves Paul McCartney with a glove puppet

katabillupsjesusmccartney1katabillupsjesusmccartney2This has to be one of the oddest music-related items to ever appear on eBay. It’s a painting called (and the title is just so perfect) Jesus Broke Out The Lamb Chop Puppet And Hired An Angel To Try And Cheer Up A Clinically Depressed Paul McCartney by US artist Kata Billups. Kata seems to have a bit of a thing about painting Jesus with The Beatles (and also various combinations of Jesus, Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger and pin-up queen Bettie Page) and her work is apparently owned by the likes of Julia Roberts, Sting, Tim Burton and Willie Nelson, as well as all four former members of REM.

Jesus Broke Out The Lamb Chop Puppet has been on eBay for around three years – that might be something to do with its Buy It Now price tag of $177,000 (roughly £110,000) – so you may have already seen it. If you haven’t, click here for the full listing and read Kata’s comments about the symbolism in the painting and her explanation of the cause of Paul McCartney’s suffering. There’s a clue in the fact that he has taken a red marker pen to the three pictures of Yoko Ono on the walls of his room, putting a big cross on one and drawing devil’s horns on the other two.

Kata doesn’t say much about Lamb Chop in her listing, which is a pity. But seeing the painting did make me Google Lamb Chop and I’m very pleased to report that, although the glove puppet’s creator Shari Lewis sadly died in 1998, her daughter Mallory Lewis continues to perform with the puppet to this day. Mallory and Lamb Chop’s website is here.


Nineteen Eighty-Four, Twenty Thirteen style

georgeorwell2013

georgeorwell1949

A little over a year ago, I wrote about the Art Of Penguin Science Fiction website and posted some of my favourite Penguin sci-fi book covers, including the 1962 edition of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (see here). I’ve always been a fan of the traditional Penguin three-stripes design, so I love the look of the spanking new edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four, for which graphics guru David Pearson has taken the original 1949 cover of the book, embossed the title and Orwell’s name, and then censored them with black blocks of ink. It’s very, well, Orwellian. It’s very striking too.

This latest edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four is part of Penguin’s “Great Orwell” series. You can read more about David Pearson’s designs for this and the other books in the series – Animal Farm, Homage To Catalonia, Down And Out In Paris And London, and Politics And The English Language – at the Creative Review blog.


Radio head

radiohatI love Retro Vintage Modern Hi-Fi – “Usually retro, sometimes vintage, sometimes modern, but always hi-fi” – a place for audiophiles, retro futurists, and fans of hi-fi pin-up girls. I’m in on all three counts. Now in its fourth year, this is a blog about valve amplifiers that look like they belong in a mad scientist’s laboratory, speakers far too big for most people’s living rooms, reel-to-reels straight out of a 1960s spy movie, painstakingly oiled and polished walnut and teak cabinets, and audio oddities galore. I particularly like the Two-Tube Radio Hat, which is pictured here on the cover of the June 1949 edition of Radio Electronics. “Totally mobile, no extra aerial needed, covers the entire broadcast band within a 20-mile radius,” trumpets an advert for the hat inside the magazine. “Acclaimed from coast to coast,” it adds. Yes, I don’t doubt it for a moment.


More grail hunting at Christmas

ratscabiesxmascard2012The lovely Stu Warwick has once again produced a terrific Christmas card for the Rat Scabies And The Holy Grail team. This year’s card, which we have sent to selected members of the Priory of Sion and a handful of our favourite Knights Templars, is a lovingly crafted black-and-white number featuring Rat Scabies, Richard Bellia and yours truly in a scene that’s a cross between “Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Ark” and “Mighty Melons III” (a superior movie to both “Mighty Melons I” and “Mighty Melons II”, as I am sure you’ll all agree). And if you’re of a mind, you can see Stu’s card from last year here.

Right, I’d better get on. I have important grail business to attend to. I’ve also got a turkey to stuff. Merry Christmas everybody. Not too much fizzy pop now, you hear me?


Tomorrow never knows

bugarachbybenhammottskruffflogoI have been interviewed about the end of the world by Skrufff, the club culture and electronic music blog run by top DJ and journalist Jonty Skrufff. You can read the article here, but you’ll need to get a bit of a wriggle on because we’re all going up in smoke on 21 December 2012. That’s what the ancient Mayans believed, anyway. Or rather, that’s what some esoteric bods think the Mayans believed. And in case you haven’t been paying close attention to your advent calendar, 21 December is this Friday. Which is, er, tomorrow.

You shouldn’t worry unduly about this, though, because it’s going to be relatively easy to avoid the apocalypse. All you have to do is get yourself to the Pic de Bugarach, a mountain in south-west France. From there, depending on who you listen to, you will either be beamed up into a spaceship by aliens and transported to a far-off galaxy or led deep inside the mountain by a secret race of underground people. I’m going along with the aliens thing myself, not least because Bugarach has been a hotspot for UFO sightings for many years. It is also said to have been a major inspiration for Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters Of A Third Kind”.

I talked about Bugarach in Rat Scabies And The Holy Grail. It’s in the foothills of the Pyrenees, just down the road from Rennes-le-Chateau. It’s a very remote place, but head for Carcassonne and follow the people in the red and white hooded robes and you should be OK.

Of course, if you happen to be reading this after 21 December 2012, well, you obviously made it. Nice one. And thank goodness they’ve got the internet up here on Planet Zknog, eh?

Bugarach Mountain photograph courtesy of Ben Hammott


Don’t let the squares knock the rock

I remember my Uncle Derrick telling me that the local teddy boys slashed the seats at the cinema in King’s Lynn when they showed “Rock Around The Clock” in 1956. He was a bit vague about whether he’d joined in or not, but I suspect he might have done. There was still lots of excitement when Bill Haley And His Comets pitched up in the UK the following year, as this footage shows. The commentary – “just dig those happy cats and not a square in sight” – sounds like something from Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse. Marvellous.


50 tracks in 90 minutes

50tracks90minsA quick plug for my last radio show of 2012, which is on Frome FM this Sunday (9 December) from 10.30pm to midnight. I generally dip into a different genre of music each month – the show is called For One Night Only – but as it is my final broadcast of the year, I thought it would be fun to see if I can play 50 tracks in my allotted 90 minutes. It’s not even a full 90 minutes as it goes, because there are a couple of minutes of adverts in there too.

To add an extra little fizz of excitement to the occasion (come on, admit it, you’re as excited about this as I am), I’ve set myself some rules for the show. These are:

  • No manual fade-outs, so any fade has to be part of the actual track
  • No more than three tracks to be played back-to-back at a time
  • Only one song per artist, so I can’t just play loads of stuff by Napalm Death
  • I have to announce the artist and title of every track I play

I’m still putting together the playlist, but it’s going to be a right musical jumble. David Bowie, Janis Joplin, De La Soul, Wreckless Eric, Stiff Little Fingers and Air will all be in there. And don’t work yourself into a tizzy if I play a track you hate. It’ll be over before you know it. Two minutes tops. A lot less than that in most cases.

You can hear the show live online by clicking the Listen Now button at the Frome FM website, or hear it after the event by going to Programmes, then Music, then choosing For One Night Only from the list on the left and selecting the date 9 December.


Black, one sugar

I like mugs. I also like old synths. So I am very taken by the pictures-of-old-synths-on-mugs thing they’ve got going at Voltage Control.

This gorgeous creature here is the Roland TB-303 Bass Line, aka the acid house machine. Nip over to the Voltage Control website for more Roland mugs, plus others featuring bits of kit from the likes of Moog, Korg, EDP and ARP. There are Theremin, Technics and Linn Drum mugs too.

Bet you didn’t realise that The Human League’s “Being Boiled” was about a kettle, did you?


RIP Joe Maher

Flowered Up Weekender film posterI’m sad to hear the news that Flowered Up guitarist Joe Maher has died. It’s only three years since the death of Liam Maher, Flowered Up’s singer and Joe’s older brother.

Click here for an interview I did with Liam for Melody Maker around the time of the release of the band’s “Weekender” single, one of the greatest records ever made. That’s not an opinion, by the way, that’s a simple statement of fact.


Farewell to the Wirrina

The Wirrina Stadium in PeterboroughThe Damned ticket for Wirrina Stadium in Peterborough, 1979I’ve just found out that the Wirrina Stadium in Peterborough was pulled down a couple of years ago. It wasn’t really much of a stadium, it was more a grubby sports hall, but I saw quite a lot of bands play at the Wirrina in the late 1970s and early 80s, and I have fond memories of the place. Among the gigs I particularly remember were The Clash (the 1978 “Sort It Out Tour”, supported by The Slits and The Innocents), The Damned, Siouxsie And The Banshees and Madness (supported by The Go-Go’s). I wrote about The Damned’s show, which ended in something of a riot, in Rat Scabies And The Holy Grail (click here to read that part of the book over at my archive website) and the image of Ari Up from The Slits bouncing and skipping across the stage with her dreadlocks dripping in spit will stay with me for ever.

I’ve no idea what they’ve built on the site of the Wirrina, but I guess there’s every chance that it’s a Tesco or a Sainsbury’s or some other fluorescent-lit temple of consumerism. If it is, I sincerely hope that, every once in a while, some unsuspecting late-night shopper hears the sound of Ari Up singing “Shoplifting” drifting down the aisle: “Put the cheddar in me pocket / Put the rest under the jacket / Talk to the cashier, he won’t suspect / And if he does, if he does…”

Wirrina Stadium photograph courtesy of Peterborough Images


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