Other people's blogs are invariably as boring as hell to everybody bar the person who's writing it - they're self-centred, random, rambling, pointless or some combination of all four...
Here at Fruits de Mer Records, we don't like to break the pattern...so this is the FdM blog and you're welcome to it.
FIRST GAME OF THE NEW SEASON
We didn't quite hit these giddy heights, and we needed a sending-off and a saved penalty to keep us afloat, but it's three points in the bag
WE CAME, WE SAW...
...loads of conkers. There are a bunch of horse chestnut trees near to home and the ground is currently covered with hundreds of them; now when I was a kid, this would have triggered something akin to the greed scene in 'The Magic Christian' but today...nothing. Well, each time I walk past the trees I can't help but pick up a few choice items; what am I going to do with them? Pickle them, bake them, pickle and bake them? No idea but they are a thing of wonder to a 64-year old kid.
...and the chance to visit a couple of new (to me) record shops while we do a bit of travelling around. I've struggled to find much recently in the rather sterile environment of eBay and online shops (oo-er, get me), so I'm hoping the real thing will get my musical taste-buds tingling...
...so what did we find...?
Boiler Room Records in Poole - new stock, including plenty of RSD 2020 releases, but also a good selection of second-hand LPs, sensibly-priced. Well worth checking out.
Phil's Vinyl Vault in Weymouth - a smaller shop, but plenty to sort through including some interesting and er, unexpected live
We found a few more, ranging from the OK to the really-not-very-good-at-all, but these two were the stand-outs for me.
ASH RA TEMPEL LIVE
This nearly escaped without me noticing...three sides recorded at the Royal Festival Hall in 2000 - something for classic kosmische/krautrock fans; if you're interested, you can buy it
During the lockdown, Reckless Records asked me to compile a top 10 for their blog - it's just been posted there (I'm sure I included youtube links to each track!)
Inevitably if I was compiling it again I'd choose a different bunch of songs and artists, but there's some good stuff all the same - if you're interested, you can see my list
COLOUR ME POP
HMV have done thier own version of RSD 2020 with a bunch of vinyl 'exclusives' on August 15th. It could be old age but I just can't get excited by bog-standard reissues of albums you can pick up as originals in decent second-hand record shops (not to mention eBay and Discogs) but are pressed on colour vinyl. Surely they could put in a bit more of an effort? And they're not cheap - anything from £23 to £28 a copy! At least they seem to be reasonably limited pressings...300-1,000, I think. Anything take your fancy - check
BEN'S RECORDS STRIKE AGAIN
Managed a quick (ie 60 minute) visit to Ben's in Guildford and came out with two pristine Marvin, Welch and Farrar LPs for £4 a time. It's a wonderfully-chaotic place, where almost everything is classed as 'New In', it's stacked haphardly with hardly a thought for genre, and Ben offers a polite apology..."most of it's crap but I had to buy the lot - I think there's some decent rock towards the bottom", and then goes on to recount how he came across the collection.
Ben's makes your typical record fair seem like House Of Fraser, and it's none the worse for it.
HOW'S SOCIAL DISTANCING FOR YOU?
We ventured down to Brighton for a day - before the seriously hot weather, so it wasn't crazily busy - but the concept of social distancing hasn't reached the Sussex coast yet so we won't be revisiting for a while.
Closer to home, Kev and I experienced social distancing in extremis at a local pub; it has a huge garden and when we arrived it was virtually empty.
"Have you booked online?" "No, but we're happy to sit anywhere"
"Sorry, we don't have any available tables" I stand in the garden, go online and book a table "We've booked - can we have a drink?" "Yes, but we don't have any table available outside, you'll have to sit inside" (The pub is completely deserted inside) We're parched by now, give in meekly and have a couple of pints. 30 mins later we leave - for a proper pub - and the garden is still virtually empty.
I don't think the pub is going to have any problems with crowds, once word gets out that they're an effing shambles.
The pub's called the Oatlands Chaser. Walk on by.
SEPARATED AT BIRTH?
Has anyone seen Tommy Steele and Joe Root in a room at the same time?
I thought not.
NEVER IN DOUBT
Can we PLEASE have a season of mid-table obscurity in 2020/21? We lost in the play-off final two years ago, won the play-off final last year and took it it to the wire to survive today. Our three strikers managed a total of six goals between them all season - has any club ever survived with a record that bad?
FIRST RECORD SHOP SINCE MARCH
Managed to grab 30 minutes in Ben's Records in Guildford; it's always good for a browse - chaotic but friendly - and came away with a 70s French reissue of a Vangelis soundtrack album that i'd never seen before - it's the kind of random LP that you'll find hidden away in the racks. I read that the Spitalfields Friday market re-starts next week - I'm very tempted.
...WHICH REMINDS ME OF SOME WISE WORDS FROM DAVE THOMPSON, THAT I READ RECENTLY ON FACEBOOK...
"...Can we just agree that buying records and listening to music are two totally different hobbies..."
I once drew a venn diagram once to describe the relationship between the two, fortunately I've lost it.
IT'S ALL GREEK TO ME
I was asked if I'd answer a few questions for the Merlin's Music Box website and - as usual - I droned on and on; if you've got nothing better to do, you can ignore me and look at the pictures...
or in Greek here...
First pint of the comeback tour, rather enjoyable - and very popular on facebook (over 50 'likes' for a photo of someone's half-finished pint - social media, eh?)
YOU KNOW YOU'RE GETTING OLD WHEN...
...your most exciting birthday present is a jar of pickled eggs
Just realised we've hit the half-century in FdM t-shirts - 50 different designs or colours since the label started - and I've probably missed a few out along the way. And most of them have been FdM festival £5 jobs; where we go, Primark follows - at a socially acceptable distance, of course.
SPARE A THOUGHT
...for this record label owner, who has to maintain a lockdown despite no signs of illness in FdM Towers and despite (or because of) the hottest June days in over 40 years - as I'm due a delivery of 250 LPs sometime this week and I live in fear of them being left outside our front door, in the searing heat.
It DID happen a few years ago - I got a call from the van driver saying the boxes were being offloaded and, "...where was I to sign for them?" "At a record fair in London" "Well I should hurry up back - I've got to unload them and it's hot and sunny her" "Thanks"
It's tough at the top.
OK, it's tough at the bottom.
CAN I JUST SAY...
...we go into tonight's game against Sheffield United on the back of our longest unbeaten run in years - it stretches over 100 days.
UPDATE...my lad's Chris' response after the first hour of the game...
- 'nuff said.
United were robbed of a clear goal, of course, which was hilarious but my highlight was watching super Jack Grealish managing to balance a large cottage loaf on his head for the full 90 minutes.
Roll on...anything other than more of that, really.
ONE SHOW'S ALEX JONES
I happened to see Alex presenting the BBC1 show this evening - hard to believe it's almost 10 years since she was plucked from the relative obscurity of Welsh language radio and children's TV by some BBC bigwig who saw her unique talent.
I wonder what it is?
Please god our local dentist is able to see me as planned tomorrow - I broke a tooth about 6 weeks ago and a diet of chicken soup and rich tea biscuits dunked in hot tea is starting to wear a bit thin.
STOP PRESS: I am healed - I even lost weight - 135 pounds, to be precise.
...well, they did get something free from Fruits de Mer when they attended Horst Sunhair's latest Psychedelic Network festival in Wurzburg - we must go back there soon!
CATFOOD FOR THOUGHT
An interesting single when it came out 50 years ago, but £31 for reissue - a CD reissue! - with a couple of new mixes? I must be doing something wrong at FdM.
You can shell out your copy (it's a bloody big shell) HERE
GOING A BIT DEAF HAS ITS ADVANTAGES
I was listening to the radio this morning when it was announced that Prince Andrew's interview on BBC TV regarding his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein had been shortlisted for the BAFTA news coverage award; I misheard this as Prince Andrew being shortlisted for the 'best newcomer' award, which seemed to work on more than one level.
IT'S NOT VINYL, BUT IT IS CANTERBURY
well, nearly - Zopp are from Nottingham but they're proud of their Caravan/Egg/Hatfield influences, and have a very good CD album on sale;
You can check it out HERE...or sample this track on youtube...
I've been searching for a copy since I found the track on youtube and it turned up today, courtesy of eBay - not a perfect copy by any means, but not-too-shabby. Of course, the Shadows Of Knight version is the dog's whatsits, but this pre-dates it by a couple of years, and the band is from Middlesex!
STAMP IT OUT
Just been swapping emails with club member Pat Dibbens about the declining standards of UK commemorative stamps (rock'n'roll, eh?). 50 years ago, it needed a significant achievement, or death, to justify a release - now... I wonder how the Queen feels about sharing a stamp with your friendly neighbourhood superhero?
A PLANT FOR ALL SEASONS
A few of the early sets of 'A Band For All Seasons' included a 'wholly unnecessary'/'just for the hell of it' packet of wildflower seeds. My seedlings are struggling to raise a smile so it's good to see that at least one person - club member Colin Cunningham - is having more success.
ONE FOR INSTRUMENTALISTS
I've not heard many new bands recently that have had me reaching for the credit card, but Hayvanlar Alemi have an LP out called 'Psychedelia In Times Of Turbulence' that did the trick for me.
You can check it out HERE
An interesting website/app, if ever there was one - Radio.Garden takes your location, shows where your nearest radio stations are and starts playing the one that's closest. Handy if you're on holiday, new to the area or a bit of a radio junkie - although I'm less of a junkie than I thought as I've just discovered a station that's less than 5 miles from our house.
find your 'most local', local radio station HERE
KEYHOLE SURGERY NEEDED
I endured about 30 minutes of 'Through The Keyhole' last night; I'm not sure I've ever seen mainstream TV sink this low; c-list celebrities guessing the names of d-list home owners is bad enough, but Keith Lemon?? I assume his contribution is scripted, but he comes across like a smug Michael McIntyre without the jokes. Avoid at all costs.
In England, we're encouraged to go out for more walks while keeping 2m apart and the roads remain really quiet (at least where we live) - so why do so many cyclists insist on using the bloody pavements? I just hope they gain enough confidence in the next couple of weeks to take off their stabilizers and that their mums let them take to the roads and play with the big kids.
RECORD STORE DAZE
I have a feeling that rescheduling RSD 2020 into three days in late August/Sept/Oct are going to prove premature and possibly ill-conceived - applying the 2m rule to queuing plus 'x people at a time inside the store' in shops such as Rough Trade and Sister Ray in London will create queues that will go halfway round central London! While the split into three days of releases instead of one ought to be a good one for the shops in principle - the whole point originally was (I think) to get people back into shops - but if it creates three times the queues, then maybe a re-think for this year at least is in order.
God, I must be getting lockdown fever, I'm thinking about RSD!
NOT IN THE PINK
I could never stand the cartoon series, Steve Martin's effort to recreate Clouseau were painful, so it was a shock to find I couldn't sit through Sellers' 'Return Of The Pink Panther' when it was shown on TV - clumsy pratfalls, telegraphed jokes, ham acting - I was gutted. I've been looking forward to seeing 'The Party' again but I'm now not so sure. Having loved seeing 'Carry On Cabby' on TV recently, and enjoyed a couple of other early 'Carry On' films, I then experienced 'Carry On Loving', which I hadn't seen in a long time - and won't see again, I hope; it wasn't quite as bad as 'Pink Panther' but that's probably only because Sid James was in it.
FROM THE HAMBURG MAFIA TO FUNKY JUNCTION, WILD WHO COVERS, PUNK VERSIONS OF PSYCH, BEATLES ON THE MOOG...
The '60s/70s covers' tab at the top of the page is your entry-point to around 100 covers recommended by Fruits de Mer club members - classic, obscure, occasionally deranged, but well-worth checking out - sadly, if you're reading this for the first time, you're too late - the tab is now given over to a bit of a tribute to Phil May
GURU GURU LIVE
50 years after the gig, we can now listen to Guru Guru live at Essen; available from Amazon on vinyl - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Live-Essen-1970-LP-VINYL/dp/B084Z7XTWS/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=guru+guru+essen&qid=1588959455&sr=8-1 - but probably from other places too, as it's on the Svart label
NO GIGS, NO RECORD SHOPS, NO RECORD FAIRS
Here goes for another month of the lockdown...
TOP OF THE POPPER
For anyone who has found the Top Of The Pops covers section on the FdM site 'intriguing', this interview with Tony Rivers is well-worth a listen - Tony was the mystery voice behind many of the 'better' Top Of The Pops' covers of the 60s and 70s and many other things...
You can read the strange brew's Jason Barnard talking to Tony HERE
INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST KRAUTROCKER
When I first met the legend that is Ax Genrich at the 16th Dream Of Dr. Sardonicus festival I was immediately reminded of the grail knight in 'Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade'; I watched the film again over Easter and I stand by the resemblance - have YOU ever seen them in the same place at the same time?
PSYCHEDELIA IN TIMES OF TURBULENCE
I've been a bit short of new music that's really grabbed me recently, but Hayvanlar Alemi come from Turkey and produce some rather good instrumental, guitar-led rock - worth a listen if that sounds like it might be your kind of thing.
You can check it out HERE
GERONIMO IS SUMMER SUN
Who else used to listen to Radio Geronimo some time around 1969/1970, broadcasting on a Saturday night from Andorra or somewhere like that? Wonderful music, a great mail order LP service, listing loads of US albums I'd never hear of, and a DJ who did a very passable John Peel impression, but restricted himself to lines like, "this is Radio Geronimo and we need your money".
NISA to see you
National media are awash with stories of people re-discovering their local corner shops, in preference to the long queues and empty shelves of supermarkets. We called in on our local NISA shop and - never mind the toilet-rolls, soap, bread, pasta - they have bloody ENORMOUS bags of Bombay mix for a quid a time; it's like a trip back in time (and not that recent and godawful BBC series with Sarah Cox looking at the evolution of the corner shop). My fingers look like I'm smoking 40 a day.
THERE'S GOLD ON THEM THERE AIRWAVES
Capital Gold - and before you throw your hands up in despair, when we're spending 23 hours a day at home, finding some background music we can both agree on isn't so easy ("how about some more Cranium Pie, Liz?"), and I'm on a bit of a 60s trip at the moment
I see that cabin crew from Virgin Atlantic and Easyjet are being offered work at the new Manchester 5,000 bed hospital - presumably the oxygen masks will drop down automatically from the ceiling.
Walton-on-Thames has suddenly turned into a 1950s country village...as Liz and I take our morning stroll, we encounter similarly-elderly couples walking in the opposite direction and everyone is eager to mark the encounter with a friendly, "good morning", instead of completely ignoring each other as we usually do - it's like we've gone back in time; admittedly, we're all prepared to throw ourselves in front of oncoming cars in order to maintain the mandated 6ft/2m distance between us, but it's a start - and quite heartwarming (as is a glass of Talisker each evening). Mind how you go.
A SORT OF SILVER LINING
Liz and I got home from a few days away with a bug (not that one) that meant we were unable to make The Past Tense gig in Kingston; it also looked pretty unlikely we'd be able to make the Steve Martin/Martin Short gig in London (never mind touching cloth, we've been going straight through it), but it's been cancelled for fairly obvious reasons, so we've got our fingers (and legs) crossed for them returning to the UK in the autumn
REACH FOR THE TWO-PLY
I found the UK Government press conference with the chief medical and scientific officers strangely reassuring in a, “most of you are going to get the virus and some of you are going to die” way.
I quite expected Kenneth More to turn up, sans legs, and invite us all down the NAAFI for a sing-song.
WIPING IT CLEAN
can I humbly suggest we all agree to write the 2019/20 Premiership season off, wipe the slate clean and start again in August?
(...and if we could have our money back for all the players we bought before the season started...?)
PANIC BUYING CONTINUES
Club member Martin Wright posted the photo on Facebook, I had to share it.
(Bad news for any Lou Rawls fans out there, you'll never find....)
TO RSD OR NOT TO RSD?
The usual discussion/rant will follow in due course, no doubt, but I am looking forward to finding out whether the supposedly official reissues of Kraftwerk I and II for a long, long time are real or fake; the signs aren't too encouraging - no-one has heard of the label and both albums seem to have disappeared from the RSD site after being on their initial list - but at least the double LP versions of 'Phaedra' and 'Split' look interesting. Still, two out of 567 isn't a great hit-rate so far - I'd better have another look down the list...
THIS IS WHY WE'RE NOT RELEASING 'A BAND FOR ALL SEASONS' ON VINYL
it seemed like a good idea - until the test pressing arrived
MARTIN vs SHORT
Rather chuffed to be going to see two comedy heroes later this month - Steve Martin and Martin Short - just Chevy Chase missing from the line-up of my all-time favourite film, but a chance to see a couple of masters of comic timing in action. The seats are horrendously expensive, but I'm taking a couple of screwdrivers and a monkey-wrench with me, just to make sure I can take mine home with me.
GREAT LOST ALBUMS
Picked up for £3 from FOPP and now my current 'leisure read' - plenty of the kind of wry, cynical humour that I fail to achieve with the occasional 'Cod History' pieces on the FdM site, although Stuart Maconie's intro is the funniest bit in it and quite a lot of it is a bit too clever for me and goes right over my head (no change there); come to think of it, it's a complete rip-off of 'Cod Histories', but with jokes, and written about four years before I thought of it....bastards.
YES, 'CALL THE MIDWIFE' REALLY HAS BEEN ON TV THAT LONG
a publicity-shot of Jenny Agutter, for the first series of the seemingly-interminable BBC 'drama' series (and if you believe any of that...)
LET'S GO DOWN AND BLOW OUR MINDS
I'm currently listening to the Grapefruit 3CD set of UK psychedelia from 1967; it's a mix of the classic and the seriously obscure, with an emphasis on the latter and - as with all such sets - for every 'Psychotic Reaction', there's a 'Farmer John', for every 'Oh Yeah', there's a 'Romeo and Juliet' (...calling all Nuggets fans); on balance, there are a few too many of the 'unreleased-for-a-reason', but it gives me a sense of what it must have been like in 1967 if you weren't 10 and living in a mining village in the Midlands.
SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO
Sid Smith is working on a feature (for PROG magazine, I assume) on the sole album by Touch, including an interview with Don Galluci; as I may have mentioned just a few hundred times, it's an album that means a lot to me - so I'm really looking forward to reading it.
JUST LIKE THE GOOD OLD DAYS
Watching St Johnstone vs Rangers on TV - a proper game, not a huge amount of skill on display, the ball spends most of the time in the air, comes down with ice on it, goalkeeping is a bit flaky and the goal areas have hardly any grass on them
Mark has died after a long, long battle with cancer.
Mark absolutely loved music, he loved new bands and he loved tiny, struggling record labels; and, most of all, he loved writing - he was an amazing wordsmith, who could find more ways to describe a record in one review than I've managed in 50 years.
We often say someone will be missed long after we've lost touch with them and they've lost interest in us, Mark tried to support music and musicians right up to the very end - he leaves a huge gap that won't be filled.
WHO NEEDS PARIS/VENICE/ROME...?
...when you can have a romantic April weekend in Utrecht? That's what I've told Liz, anyway - and she's fallen for it (just don't mention the Utrecht record fair, that happens to be taking place while we're there)
ATOMIC ROOSTER AT THE 100 CLUB
After an evening of The Orb, Killing Joke, Iggy Pop and Robbie Williams (just a few of Dr Alex Paterson's anecdotes at the Troubadour), next stop was Atomic Rooster at the 100 Club, the photos showing the keyboards before and during the set; good solid versions of Rooster classics and a very good crowd for a Thursday night; they were very ably supported by the Marvin Hancox Band, who just happen to have a track on the next FdM members club compilation CD' The Half Time Orange'. Marvin is some guitarist - Robin Trower with a Brummie accent, perhaps! They closed their set with a nice plug for FdM and a great version of 'Lysergic Vision'...
and here it is as it appears on The Half Time Orange...
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST
Our local high street has been half-empty for a couple of years, but I was shocked to see the number of derelict stores in our nearest 'proper' town (Kingston) last weekend. Yes, the internet is having an impact, for sure, and phones/Sky/Netflix/etc are draining disposable budgets each month before anyone can get near a shop, but there's more to it than that - the things that people WANT are changing and old shops can't simply adapt...
tattooists and nail bars are the new jewellers
home furnishing means a big TV, Sonos and Alexa
nothing needs dry-cleaning
banks, building societies and post offices have had their day, so have bookmakers
charity shops need to reinvent or die
market stalls that sold fruits, veg, fish, meat are replaced by stalls selling instant food
big stores sell everything, specialist stores that sell the obvious don't have a role anymore
did you know only 1/3rd of Iceland's sales are frozen? (just thought I'd throw that in)
everyone needs to be somewhere (to paraphrase Bluebottle/Spike Milligan) - 'coffee shops in the day' are the 'new pubs in the evening'
As you may have spotted, I haven't thought this through, but reducing business rates in the high street is only going to delay the inevitable.
Spotted a couple that grabbed my attention - and credit card...the Neu '86 pink vinyl reissue by Gronland is only £11 via Amazon, while the truly unique/bizarre 'Mice And Rats In The Loft' by Jan Dukes De Grey has been reissued on vinyl by Trading Places (I ordered it from Juno, but have just realised that Nick at Heyday is stocking it - and it's cheaper with him!).
Update: 'Mice and Rats' has arrived - the good news is that it doesn't have the bonkers PVC sleeve + foam 'cleaning-strip' that combined to knacker every slab of vinyl they came into contact with; the bad news is that it doesn't have the bonkers PVC sleeve + foam etc...
Very interesting event at the Troubadour in London on Feb 4th - two 'Windmill' colleagues for the price of one...Kris Needs will talking to The Orb's Dr Alex Paterson, with Alex playing tracks from the past, present and future of The Orb (Kris is currently writing the story of the band). I think I've persuaded Liz that she'll enjoy this - I will, anyway!
MORE FdM LOVE FROM MAXINE
I'm not sure whether this is a new feature and a new photo, a new feature with an old photo, or an old feature with an old photo but it's good to see Maxine Peake still has her copy of the FdM 7" 'Do Not Adjust Your Set' on her shelf in this interview with PROG magazine, which seems rather similar to something she did with them in 2013.
CLICK HERE to find out more
HANDLE WITH CARE
Whether you like Yes' 'Fragile' album or not, you need to check this Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab reissue out, as listed by Juno.co.uk - never mind the music, look at the price, rub your eyes, pinch yourself and look again...
CLICK HERE for one way to spend your pension
Turns out there are 'only' 7,500 being pressed - and they're only $120 a set in the US, so there's some serious profit being made a long the way...
FURTHER READING HERE
QUIET START TO 2020 MUSIC-BUYING
Haven't seen a lot to persuade me to part with my cash at the moment - couple of slightly 'dubious' live Floyd albums from Juno Records caught my eye/wallet yesterday...was hoping to see Roger Chapman at Shepherds Bush at the start of February but British Rail have decided to add two hours to the journey time on a Sunday night and I don't think I can face it.
Roll on, February.
CDs vs VINYL vs LIVE
Interesting conversations with a few bands and labels recently on the subject of where we are going with respect to physical media for music - there's a wide range of views on the future, the depressing end of the spectrum being that while people are happy to listen to music on CDs, they are reluctant to shell out much for them, meanwhile they're very happy to buy music on vinyl, but reluctant to remove the shrink-wrap, and they need an awful lot of convincing to go out and see bands live.
Hmmm - food for thought.
CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME
...or it did for club member Rich Clarke, who picked this up at his local charity shop
LAST BUT NOT QUITE LEAST
...so of course I had to check out our local shops; the usual mix of stuff only elderly grandparents would have in their collections (ideal for me) and one of the biggest selections of James Last LPs I've seen in a long time - uniformly dreadful, but all virtually unplayed and when I found the one with 'Silver Machine' on it I had to look more carefully and I'm now the proud owner of 'Death Of A Clown', 'Crimson and Clover', 'Eloise', 'Heroes and Villans' and 'Paper Sun' as massacred by James and Co.
NOT TO MENTION...
...this strange release on the Morgan label, which I'm sure will be unlistenable - and will remain unplayed until I'm on my own and about four pints to the good/bad
A SPOONFUL OF SUGAR
At a time when my large t-shirts don't feel quite so large anymore and I'm trying to ward off Liz's bronchitis with large doses of honey, lemon and ginger I find I'm asking myself, is honey really good for you or is it just sugar is disguise?
A TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS
Not quite, we've never been away over Christmas before, but it was fun - even though it included an evening in a French restaurant full of Belgians, with a proprietor who insisted on playing the kazoo to a backing tape and a old mate singing the Welsh national anthem unaccompanied.