Fruits de Mer Records - Psychedelia, Krautrock, Progressive Rock, Acid-Folk, R&B, Spacerock and Vinyl Heaven

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Other blogs are invariably as boring as hell for everybody reading them bar the people who write them - they're either self-centred, random, rambling or pointless - or some combination of all four

Here at Fruits de Mer Records, I don't like to break the pattern...so this is the FdM blog and you're welcome to it.

(it's all supposed to be related to music but sometimes I wander off-track, with typically uninspiring results)

UFO!

The Horror Channel is re-running the entire Gerry Anderson series from episode 1 and it's far, far worse than I remembered it - everything moves at a snail's pace, the scripts and acting are absolutely dire (and I thought Virgil Tracey was wooden).
I can best describe it as a cross between 'Barbarella', 'Captain Scarlet' and 'Crossroads', but with string vests.

Try to watch the first episode, then race down to your nearest pub to wash away the memories.


GUILDFORD FARE

Guildford's record fair is always worth a quick visit - this time I came away with a Caravan double on the decidely dubious 'Verne' label and an even more dubious Mae West LP! (I couldn't resist...it was produced by Mike Curb - on her 1966 LP 'Way Out West', Mae struggled to keep up with the band and this one was recorded six years later! Worth £5 of anybody's money - mine anyway)

NOW SPINNING

interesting website that's new to me - 'Now Spinning' focuses on reissues, especially box sets - vinyl but also CDs; it seems to be gaining momentum and will hopefully spread its wings beyond the mainstream, but its' focussed content fills a gap somewhere between Classic Rock, PROG and Record Collector...worth keeping an eye on, click on NOW SPINNING


TOUR OF WHITSTABLE

I managed to call in on two Whitstable record shops during our grand tour - Rock Bottom is my kind of shop - lots of old stuff, well-organised, no crap, sensible prices - while Gatefield is packed with new releases on vinyl; both are worth a visit if you're in the area...


IT'S GRIM DOWN SOUTH

...unlike Margate, which I've never paid a visit to before, but once was definitely enough.
My apologies to anyone who lives there/loves the place, but it felt like a town that's given up.
The photos show a block of flats that cast a large grey shadow over the beach - maybe the town was twinned with 60s East Germany at some point - and the Turner Gallery, which was conveniently closed but looked like it was modelled on the block of flats, albeit with some tarpaulins thrown over it.
A truly depressing place.


WHEN FdM HAS FINALLY RUN ITS COURSE...

Whitstable has a coffee stall with my name on it - and if that's too challenging, there's always....


CUSHING NUMBER

We have a couple of nights in Whitstable planned - lots of oysters and a couple of interesting-looking record shops are on the agenda but I've just spotted the local Wetherspoons is called 'The Peter Cushing' - apparently the great actor spent a lot of time in the town, although probably not in Wetherspoons; must have a pint in there, nonetheless.


TALES FROM THE LONG ROOM

Just spent an entertaining afternoon with an old mate being shown round Lords cricket ground. I didn't realise the Ashes urn they have on display is the real one (it looks remarkably like the knock-off copy one of my kids gave me after he'd spent a day at a test match in Oz with the barmy army).

Stepping out onto the balcony where I've seen the England team sit, usually in disarray, so many times was quite a moving experience.


GURANFOE LIVE

A new name to many of you, perhaps? It was to me - we came across each other via social media and I was suitably impressed - they will be making an appearance on a members club complation next year , meanwhile my lad Chris and I are going to check them out when they play in Brighton in November.
The headliners at the gig are called Gnob - I must remember not to turn round every time someone calls out their name.

A RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE

We managed to get tickets to see Kings of Convenience showcasing their new album, in a gig organised by Kingston's Banquet Records.
It was held in a local church - with a bar!!!
The duo mean a lot to Liz and I, so it was a pretty special evening for us.


DON'T PANIC...DON'T PANIC

Had to share this photo from club member Robert Simpson - thank god a few of us can laugh at British stupidity


TALKING OF BEER-RELATED STUPIDITY...

The lengths so-called 'craft brewers' will go to, to disguise their beer as something that doesn't look or taste like beer at all reaches new highs/lows...


IT'S AS DIFFICULT AS 123...

My apologies to everyone who has been trying to access the FdM website and been advised to steer well-clear as it's 'not secure'. The company that hosts the site - 123-reg - appears to have mislaid the SSL certificate that I renewed a month ago; I'm trying to resolve the problem - but of course you probably won't read this until it's all sorted, by which time you'll wonder what the hell I'm going on about...


WELSH PILGRIMAGE 1

VOD Music in Mold...
It may be the UK's smallest record shop but owner Colin Trueman runs a cracking vinyl empire and it was a treat to pay him a visit, and not just because he has a rather nice selection of Fruits de Mer releases for sale!


THIS ISLAND EARTH

Watched it again for the first time in years - a visually stunning film, perhaps best remembered for the mutants, who are admittedly rather silly, but make only a fleeting experience; other than that it is a quite beautiful film, with effects that pre-dated Star Trek by a decade (even the soundtrack has trekkie elements)


WELSH PILGRIMAGE 2

COB Records in Portmadoc...
I visited the ancestral home of my record buying/selling habit, it started over 50 years ago, picking up cheap records from HMV, Woolwroths and the like and selling them by mail order to COB.
My first personal visit was a bit of a let-down, to be honest - their stock now consists mainly of CDs and DVDs - but there's still a fair mix of LPs in there.

THE IMPACT OF THE VINYL PRODUCTION CRISIS ON INDIE ARTISTS

An excellent article sent to me by Alex Seldon...click here

TESTING TIMES

So I got suckered into going along to the final day of the third test between England & India - only 20 quid to get in, England in with a great change of winning, etc - and had to endure a day of abject captaincy, bowling and batting; admittedly we made our excuses and left for a drink before the last rites were served, and I could have paid more to see Villa lose.


A TICKLE DOWN TO THIRD MAN?

(sorry, I've been watching the test match)
Jack White is opening a Third Man store in London's Soho in September; although his music isn't my thing and I have a feeling style vs substance might be an issue for me, all credit to him for opening a vinyl shop in London

PLWMP

The name of a village we passed through recently when we spent a few days in Wales; we also saw a road sign which simply said "pant cud" - could it be a warning regarding symptoms of a bowel disease? Turns out it means "hidden dip" - what a shame.

FOPP FLOP

Made my first visit to FOPP in London for the first time in over a year and what a disappointment - no dirt-cheap CDs, very few cheap paperbacks, no unexpected box-sets/oddities, way too many full-price LPs - it felt like just another HMV store, which I guess it what it now is.

IT NEVER RAINS BUT IT POURS

...so on top of the major labels grabbing all the spare capacity in pressing plants around Europe, meaning eight month waiting lists (and one company stopping taking orders completely until things calm down), in the last two weeks I've been informed of yet another round of price increases and a shortage of colour vinyl that's adding extra delays to schedules for existing projects.
You've got to laugh.


BLOODY 'ELL

I couldn't have put it better myself - blood orange IPA, raspeberry and chocolate milkshake IPA; THIS is what's wrong with Britain today, we've lost sight of what beer - our national beverage - is supposed to be.
(and this is in our local Sainsbury's - god only knows what craft beer shops are stocking these days)


WHO NEEDS RSD 2021 PART 2...

...when I could pick pristine copies of The Damned's black Album double and a 1970 Charless Lloyd compilation for £20 the two, from Ben's Records in Guildford the day before?
To be honest, I forgot it was RSD Part 2 until this morning - better have a look on eBay at what I missed...


AND I THOUGHT FdM HAD A MONOPOLY ON STUPID MERCHANDISE

...introducing a range of Jethro Tull chopping boards - the perfect gift for progressive rock fans who enjoy nothing more than slicing a cucumber while listening to Ian Anderson's greatest hits


CARRY ON NME

Carry On Abroad, one of my favourite 'Carry On' films, currently on ITV 3 and providing a suitable background while I try to update the website - although I was rather distracted by the sight of Joan Sims reading a copy of NME in bed!

WE WORE IT WITH PRIDE

...at least until 10.45pm on Sunday night, then we became increasingly embarrassed to be seen to be England fans, or even English. Thugs, racists, not football fans...and if we had any chance of being awarded the World Cup tournament in 2030 that's surely out of the window now.

RETURN OF THE KINGS

Not only have Kings of Convenience got together to record their first album for about a decade but they are playing a couple of low-key gigs in the UK, including one organised by our local record shop, Banquet Records in Kingston.
By happy coincidence, I looked at my phone just as the shop was emailing details around and we managed to snap up two tickets - just for a change, I'll be taking Liz to a gig she really wants to go to!


QUEEN'S GAMBIT

A series on Netflix I actually sat through to the not-so-bitter end; it's the story of a child genius chess-player who goes on to be a grown-up genius chess player. Far too long at about 7 hours, that's the way of the TV world these days, but it's captivating stuff and makes watching chess almost exciting. Shame it's not a true story, although it takes lumps out of Bobby Fischer's life. Worth a watch.


MUST EAT LESS CHEESE

A while ago I was having some pretty weird dreams and put it down to overdoing the evening cheese (no, that's not code for anything other than eating cheese in the evening); I cut back and relative normality ensued.
Recently, I've returned to the M&S cheese counter and since then I've encountered England cricketers Freddy Flintoff and Eoin Morgan, along with BBC's Zoe Ball (thankfully, not all at the same time)...I think it's time to revert to Ovaltine.

FdM VISITS RECORD SHOPS AND DOESN'T BUT ANYTHING - SHOCK HORROR

A couple of days in Chichester - closest we'll get to a foreign holiday for another few months at least - led to visits to Helter Skelter Records and Analogue October; the former is a little second-hand shop, the latter has a wider range of intersting new releases. Nothing persuaded me to unlock the wallet, but good to know they exist and seemed to be doing well.

ALAN LEWIS

Very sad to read about the death of Alan Lewis - editor of Sounds, NME and Record Collector, launched Kerrang and Uncut, launched Loaded and kept the editorial team vaguely under control, ran a pub; thoroughly nice bloke...what more could you ask for, other than another 20 or 30 years?

ASHLEY'S BACK!

A dozen or so years ago, Ashley Young was probably second-only to James Milner in Villa fans' hearts and estimations, then he disappeared off to join Melchester Rovers, or somebody.
Now he's back, old, wiser, richer, slower - but a very good squad signing and i'm especially pleased as I've got a signed shirt from his original Villa days - must be worth a few quid more now, surely?

SO HOW WAS RSD 2021 FOR Y0U?

I had a look at what the local shop in Kingston was offering, there was nothing I wanted so I gave it a miss this year.
Had a quick look at ebay after 6pm and there was Small Faces LP signed by Kenney Jones that I hadn't noticed before - I looked at the Kingston shop site again and they had one copy left - so I ordered it mail order.
That’s it - hope you were a bit more adventurous!

I've since discovered there's a double LP of Tangerine Dream live in Reims Cathedral in 1974 - didn't see it listed at the time, most copies seem to have found their way to Poland or the USA from the look of ebay. A couple of days ago, a set emerged at a sensible price on the Juno Records website, so that's sorted too.


SUMMER IS FINALLY HERE

Perfect timing for the arrival of test pressings for a smashing summer-of-love 7" which is guaranteed to put a smile on the face of the grumpiest of grumpy old men (worked for me, anyway).

What a shame the ridiculously long queues for vinyl pressings means it probably won't see the light of day until the dark, gloomy nights of December.

Still, it'll be worth the wait.

'AD JAB

...in fact I've now had two and what a thorughly enjoyable experience it was - well-organised, clearly explained, friendly personal service and nothing worse than a pain in the arm - if only they ran Fruits de Mer.

YOU'VE GOT TO DRAW THE LINE SOMEWHERE

...and this has to be the limit - I've just been told by a pressing plant to allow 27 weeks from signing off test pressings to getting finished vinyl - for a 7" single!

Now I know factories are struggling with the virus' effect on staffing levels, RSD pushes all the little labels out of the way to make way for the majors' annual vinyl splurge and there's a surge of recordings by artists who can't get out and play live - but there must be one hell of a lot of vinyl out there that's either not being bought or not being played.

Having to wait well over half a year from starting on a project to seeing the finished article takes a lump of the excitement out of working on a new release, which is why you've see a few more lathe-cuts and CDs in the FdM schedule for a while - that way, months become weeks and people get to hear new music.

DID YOU KNOW?

...how many artists will have appeared on a Fruits de Mer release (vinyl, CD or cassette) by the middle of this year?

approximately 267 - and I say approximately as I probably miscounted when I added up the list on the 'Band' page and no doubt I left a few out along the way.

Make that 269 - I left out the Mushroom Project and Zombies of the Stratosphere

ANOTHER SIGN OF THAT RETURN TO NORMALITY

Good to see The Half Moon announcing a series of gigs - looks like they're restricted numbers, maybe sit down/table service only, but even so it's a step in the right direction.


ONE FOR FIREBALL XL5 FANS

Did anyone watch the early sixties British film 'Saturday Night Out' on Talking Pictures?
It was the UK's answer to 'On The Town' (ok, maybe not).
Rather bizarrely, the theme tune sounds to me like a re-make of the theme to 'Fireball XL5' - or vice-versa - although the two are supposedly written by two different people.
I've found a clip of the film - go to https://youtu.be/80mTttfFmUE - and The Searchers' appearance in it is easily found on youtube, but I can't find the film's opening or closing credits to prove or disprove my Supermarionation find - can anyone help?


THE SECRET WORLD OF MIXING VINYL COLOURS

I'm always reluctant to quote the colours of new vinyl releases until I get to see copies myself...they don't necessarily turn out the way I expect, or ask for (Ann Summers pink definitely wasn't on the colour chart for an early FdM single and a couple of times I've managed to request a split-run along the lines of half of them green, half a blue/yellow mix - and wonder why all the copies come out looking the same).
There's a bit of art and a bit of science to the way non-standard colours are achieved by pressing plants and the mixing process is different between LPs and singles - so with 12"s you tend to get a rough merger of two or three still-discernible vinyl colours, with singles you get a true blend of the colours you've chosen; I like to compare it to the difference between mixing oil paints and watercolours - but then again I don't know what I'm talking about.
Splatter/colour-within-colour/tri-colour are all more complex and require each copy to be created individually - they're more time-consuming, more expensive and more prone to sound quality issues - it sometimes feels like art-for-art's sake, but it's always tempting to go for something out of the ordinary.


A TOM & JERRY MOMENT

Stumbling around in the garden shed this morning, I trod on the head of a rake - the handle shot up and whacked me hard on the side of my head.

Oh how we laughed.


BACK TO SOME KIND OF NORMALITY

A first visit to a record shop in ages - Ben's in Guildford - always good for a rummage - came up with a slightly dubious-looking 'Small Faces at the BBC' LP, Alan Gubby's Revbjelde debut album and this unexpected pleasure...


URE JOKING?

Another 'back of the sofa' rediscovery - bought for 50p at a car boot many moons ago, not only is it an acetate of 'Do They Know It's Christmas', it's even signed by Sir Midge Ure.
Now quite how it ended up in the bargain bin at a car boot is a more interesting story than me having it, but when I posted a photo of it on Facebook I was rather taken with Pete Bowman from The Arthur Park responding with a photo showing an unsigned copy being bought on eBay for over £1500 - I thought it might be worth £50 to an Ultravox fan.

Shows what I know.


QUADROPHENIA

I've watched some terrible films recently as lockdown fever kicks in - 'Blithe Spirit', 'Six Minutes To Midnight' and 'Twist' among them - but 'Quadrophenia' isn't one of them - what a joy to see it again on some odd satellite channel - a real feel for the era, well directed, excellent acting - Phil Daniels deserved an Oscar, a BAFTA or something; The Who dimension to the whole thing becomes incidental, the film is so strong

'EE, WE HAD IT TOUGH

Just saw this photo on Facebook - the 'high street' in the village I grew up in - Taylors cake shop, Burtons cafe/sweet shop and...I guess someone's home. It looks like a photo was taken in the 70s, funny how I don't remember it looking like it had been recently bombed at the time.



...we also had our own department store, butchers (with an in-house abatoir) and coal mine


...not to mention the highest concentration of greyhound tracks in the UK - two, within about a mile of each other


AS SEEN IN RECORD COLLECTOR...

Fame at last, a Who 7" acetate that I picked up at a car boot decades ago has made Ian Shirley's 'Value Added Facts' section in the latest issue; good to know it's as obscure as I thought it might be.
The back of the FdM sofa delivers again...


HARD OF HEARING? I SAID...

...that's me - I'm making a habit of mishearing things - like this ad for Vanguard...every time I hear the end of it, I think somebody's having a go at me...


MAYBE IT WAS A MISTAKE...

...to start filing these under 'A'...

SOFA...SO GOOD

The Caravan singles keep appearing from behind the FdM Towers cushions


SPITALFIELDS RETURNS?

I've just heard that the Spitalfields Friday record fair is returning on April 16th - I'm very tempted, I promise to wear at least two masks

NO KIDDING

I don't know how legit these releases on the No Kidding label are but Juno is a reputable mail order service and their 'live at the BBC' LPs from Genesis, Colosseum, Pink Floyd and co are worth checking out...click on JUNO

FROM THE BACK OF THE FdM SOFA...

A clutch of Deram promo 7"s, which I think I bought when Shepperton Studios closed their record library many, many years ago and held a massive jumble sale to clear the shelves. If only I knew then...

FROM THE BACK OF THE FdM SOFA CONTINUED...

Not so much a guilty pleasure, more a long-running joke, I've occasionally mentioned my teenage lust for the delightfully unsullied Dana. Well, FdM club member and Cyprus' answer to John Peel, Robert Camassa spotted one of my comments and found a test pressing of her very first single, which he kindly sent to me!

FROM THE BACK OF THE FdM SOFA CONTINUED...

How about a few Spirit singles - a French pic sleeve 7" with the song title misspelled and two versions of their reunion single - one 7" and one 5"



SNATCHING DEFEAT FROM THE JAWS OF VICTORY

I'm about as apolitical as you can get, but I can't help but say how shocked I am to see the Government's stance on NHS salaries. After the incredibly impressive vaccination programme has put a huge sticking plaster over all the cracks of the pandemic mistakes that had gone before, offering a 1% salary increase to NHS staff wipes out all the political gains of the last couple of months and gives the Labour Party a cause to champion, at a time when they seemed to be drifting pretty aimlessly.
If UK spend in tackling the virus is around £300bn, another approx £1bn spend on a £500 bonus for all staff plus a 3% increase instead of 1% would have kept the Conservatives on the front foot; in addition, if Sumak had embedded the £20 a week universal credit payment (maybe freezing overall payments for a couple of years) would have given Labour nowhere to go (and putting in a modest interim step in the increase in corporation tax would have paid for the extra costs).
Surely the Government conducts regular opinion polls to judge the mood of the country and would have picked up that they would be on a hiding to nothing if they were seen to be short-changing health workers.
That's enough from our grossly-uniformed political correspondent, now back to the music...

BEGGARS CAN'T BE CHOOSERS

I've been struggling to find new releases this year that have sent me diving for the credit card, so this double LP on the possibly slightly dubious 'Music Brokers' label is the next-best thing - a nice mix of 60s psych tracks that occasionally goes a bit off-road - but it was the Plasticland cover of The Electric Bananas' 'Alexander' that grabbed my attention. It was available from Juno Records but seems to have been de-listed


MY, HOW YOU'VE GROWN

I don't really like barbeques. If I'm on the receiving end, what some people call a bbq I tend to think of as more like a cremation; and if I'm giving rather than receiving...well, that involves me doing some work; not least because I don't subscribe to the "light it up, burn 'em off" method of cleaning a bbq, I spring-clean the thing before AND after cooking - it's a bit of an obsession. Which leads me onto "my, how you've grown", as I've just uncovered the bloody thing after its winter hibernation and it looks like a biology lab if someone had left the tops off all the jars and the heating on over a long weekend - I'd swear to god I scrubbed it clean before shutting up shop.

THE GREAT SPRING-CLEAN CONTINUES

The lockdown is forcing us all to do things we would have thought impossible a year ago - painting a fence, washing the car....venturing into the loft...

The boxes full of magazines that I decided were in invaluable 15 years ago are now being recycled, as are photos of people I have no recollection of ever meeting (although I'm keeping the one of me and Alan Partridge apparently singing together on-stage - where and when the hell was that???), I now only have four boxes of VHS tapes that I can't play left to sort through; Liz opened one of them and said there was Grobschnitt tape at the top - so they might merit further investigation after all!

A SLOW START TO 2021?

I've been struggling to find much in the way of new/old releases to excite me enough to allow the moths to escape from my wallet - a rather nice instrumental remix of 'Time Of The Season', by a Mr K, recommended by an FdM club member, and I finally shelled out for the 3CD version of 'Court of the Crimson King' - but not a lot else. So how come vinyl pressing plants are so overwhelmed with orders they're quoting six months turnround on new jobs?

BORIS vs LITTLE MIX

One of our grandkids took it upon herself to write to the Prime Minister, asking him to do something about pollution and litter; to be fair, his office wrote back at length - and within a few days - but the best part was that in her letter she wrote that she had decided to write to someone really important, and it was a choice between Boris and Little Mix...I hope he was suitably flattered.

ONLY IN THE FdM GARAGE

Balsa wood planes, boxes of joss-sticks and grow-in-water animals...remnants of what's gone before, or a hint of what's to come?
God only knows.

NONE MORE STRANGE?

Quite possibly the oddest record in the FdM household is a 7" acetate by an unnamed band, looking like it's from the 60s but is in pristine condition. The track titles are printed on the labels and suggest a rather well-known group is responsible, although I can find no mention of a commercial release in RRPG or on discogs.
RRPG's Ian Shirley is on the case and all may be revealed in the next issue of Record Collector...

STRANGE SIGHTINGS IN THE RECORD COLLECTION - 7

As I sort through the shelves I'm finding countless records I don't remember buying/owning/playing, as well as quite a few that really shouldn't be there in the first place.
This is an incredibly rare reggae release on Island - what a pity my copy sounds like it was recorded in a chip shop, with the mic right next to the deep fat fryer



STRANGE SIGHTINGS IN THE RECORD COLLECTION - 6

The Elastic Band - a suitably obscure single - there were probably more demo copies than commercial releases!


STRANGE SIGHTINGS IN THE RECORD COLLECTION - 5

...sometimes they appear in pairs - like london buses - as was the case with these two Wolf promos


STRANGE SIGHTINGS IN THE RECORD COLLECTION - 4

A nice promo copy of a Vashti single - not really my cup of tea to be honest, god knows when or where I acquired it



STRANGE SIGHTINGS IN THE RECORD COLLECTION - 3

I found several copies of this flexi - with tracks by The Passage (who I don't rememember) and Blancmange (who I DO remember, and really didn't like) - which were a result of my time working as the promotions bloke for Melody Maker; I'm still waiting to find the rather more credible flexis by The Jam and Iggy Pop that I was also responsible for...


STRANGE SIGHTINGS IN THE RECORD COLLECTION - 2

Apparently I have more Caravan CDs than any other prog band; turns out I also have quite a few singles by them, including some oddities...

STRANGE SIGHTINGS IN THE RECORD COLLECTION - 1

This was a flexi 7" released by Crass in disguise - a freebie for a few lucky readers of 'Loving' magazine - and no, I wasn't a reader, I worked for the publishing company responsible for it and flexi discs had a habit of ending up on my desk


THEIR MUMS WILL BE SO PROUD

All credit to Aston Villa's youth team, who took on the mighty Liverpool in the FA Cup while the entire first team squad were in isolation due to a covid outbreak; they held their own for 85 minutes (shame about the five minutes midway through the second half when we let in three!); in a nice touch after the match, the Birmingham Mail in its 'player ratings' analysis of the game everyone of them 10 out of 10.

A FEW 2020 THANK-YOU'S

I like to claim that FdM is just me and Liz, but the reality is a hell of a lot of people are involved in keeping things afloat - all the artists, of course, without whom things would be very quiet round here, but behind the scenes there are people like:

- Fran Ashcroft, mastering guru, who makes sense out of the countless compilations I throw at him to make sense of
- Rene at Clear Spot Distribution, who does a great job in getting FdM releases into the hands of shops and music fans across Europe
- the Record Industry team in the Netherlands and GZ in the Czech Republic, who press up everything - with hardly a glitch along the way
- Ben at Breed Media, who puts up with my countless requests for changes to vinyl orders, spots my errors and comes up with solutions
- Graeme at VP Online, who provides such as fast, efficient and friendly CD duping service
- Dale Simpson, a great designer who can turn a half-baked suggestion into a great design and and is another person who puts up with all my last-minute suggestions and changes - Stan Hilborn, Lord Litter and Gunter Bajtl, three DJs who regularly play massive amounts of Fruits de Mer tracks on their shows, god bless 'em
- Paul Meggs, who stops the FdM website from falling over, despite my best efforts
- Nick Leese at Heyday, who I hope will be back providing a great service to overseas club members in 2021

...and if I haven't mentioned you, it's not that I don't appreciate what you for FdM, it's just that the old memory is starting to falter

THE CD SORT-OUT - MORE LESSONS

"even if I live to 100, I'll never play more than 25% of the CDs I have"...make that closer to 10%, I've got to fit playing them in between all the vinyl!
- lot of work trips to Amsterdam from 2000 to 2010 resulted in quite a collection of releases on the Databloem label, which I must revisit
- while visits to Other Music in New York seems to be a source of a fair number of the 'unknown pleasures' albums
- those ambient albums continue to build up - how chilled could one person aspire to be?

THE GREAT CD SORT-OUT CONTINUES - A FEW LESSONS LEARNED

What have I learned so far?

- you can't have too many Sigur Ros albums (apparently)
- for a small label, April released a helluva lot of music
- ...but nowhere near as much as Fax
- 'unique' format CD sleeves that seemed a good idea at the time almost always weren't
- I have more CDs by Caravan than any other prog band
- my passion for ambient music in the 90s went on for a long, long time
- even if I live to 100, I'll never play more than 25% of the CDs I have - radical action is required
...one day

but there are a few genres I have to admit defeat on - life is too short, or at least the rest of mine is going to be - so I will never get to grips with rock'n'roll, rockabilly or cajun, and I'm sure there's more to come (or go)

THE GREAT CD SORT-OUT CONTINUES

and my 'sort them into genres' approach is already under pressure...

What genres do I choose? How many genres? What is the difference between IDM, techno and EDM? Electronica vs ambient vs chill-out? And once that's sorted, which bands go into each?

Genres have already become a mix of genres, labels and decades (a catch-all when I lose the will to live) and will no doubt evolve further as the 'unknown pleasures' section starts to overflow alarmingly

UNKNOWN PLEASURES

One of my jobs during the current lockdown (and probably the next one too) is to sort out my CDs, of which there are several thousand and all of which have been becoming more and more 'unsorted' over the last 10, maybe 20 years.
My start-point is simply to put them into genres - 70s prog, folk rock, krautrock, post rock, etc. It's a little concerning to find that one of the largest genres has turned out to be 'unknown pleasures' - albums I don't remember buying or playing, by artists I have no memory of.
More concerning is picking up a CD by a band I don't recall, staring at it for a while waiting in vain for some dim recollection of the when and why, and then giving up and finding two more albums by the same band - I must have liked them a lot at the time! I would play one of the albums, but that's phase 2.


HAPPY CHRISTMAS

What a sodding year it's been but at least it's nearly over and we have 2021 to look forward to, so have as good a Christmas as you can, stay safe and here's to a return to live music, festivals, record shops, record fairs, pubs, beer, meeting up with old friends and all that sort of stuff as early as possible next year

RECORD FAIRS RETURNING?

The Spitalfields Friday fair is back in London - next one is on December 18th, I'm very tempted (although I probably won't get to one until Jan 2021) as my latest attempt to swap cash for vinyl failed in Southampton - I only found one shop and that only stocked reissues - and even a vist to Ben's Records in Guildford proved fruitless (too many Christmas records on display for my liking!).

STOP PRESS: everything's shut down round here again so it's back to 'The Repair Shop' and knitting scarves.

CHEERS...

2020...it's been an exceptional one in so many ways, mostly exceptionally crap, so it's taking me a while to remind myself of, and summarise, some of the good stuff that's gone on in and around FdM Towers, such as...

- no summer festival, in fact no FdM gigs at all - it took a good few months before I realised how much I miss live music, meeting FdM friends, drinking decent beer...ok, so that's not a good thing, so what else has there been...?

- it's all for charidee...two wholly out-of-character acts of generosity with the 'We Are The Cellar Bar Resoration Society' LP & CD set which raised nearly £3,000 for the Cellar Bar, and 'The Darkest Voyage' which has generated £2,000 for the Red Cross Disaster fund; thinking about it, it was your generosity, not mine, as you bought the CDs and vinyl - ah well, I'll claim credit for anything

- new friends of the fish...one of my resolutions this year was to work with a bunch of new artists and I reckon I passed this challenge with over 30 acts new to FdM appearing on full-run FdM releases and a dozen or so more 'freshers' featured on members club compilation CDs

- the long and the short of it...the 'Darkest Voyage' 6CD set included three tracks that would each have happily filled two sides of an LP, while 'Life of Stanley' is a one-sided 7" with a total of about 2 1/2 minutes of music - talk about a rip-off

- talking of Professor Stanley Unwin, how many labels can claim to have released exclusive recordings by the good Professor?

...and then have a track on an Orb compilation put together by Dr Alex himself! Bloody ridiculous, eh?

- and how about getting Maxine Peake to lend her voice to a track on 'The Darkest Voyage'? Max has been a lovely fan of the label since I can't remember when and this was icing on the cake

- surpise giveaways? Not so easy this year as we had no FdM gigs where we could dish them out - but there was a Band For All Seasons jigsaw as a members club competition prize, we threw in a few unannounced posters and stickers along the way and there was something unexpected for anyone who ordered two sets of 'Head Music 2' from me; but must do better in 2021

- but then there's the sheer quantity of music released this year - on vinyl, on CDs, on Friends of the Fish projects - I reckon something around 30 hours of music that hadn't been on the label before - it must be our most prolific year ever; I hope you feel the quality hasn't slipped - but 2021 will DEFINITELY be quieter round here (even though it starts with another triple LP set!)

HOW TO ORGANISE YOUR RECORD COLLECTION

I went into the first lockdown determined to sort my collection out (a bit) but when we were allowed out for good behaviour, the idea went straight out of the window (as did we). Now I'm getting back into it (a bit, again) and I've given myself until the end of March to get everything sorted out into categories AND have a serious clear-out of duplicates, together with the unplayable and the unbelievable; I have SO MANY CDs!
I'm leaving the FdM shelves to last but hopefully I'll have an interesting box of 'oldies' for the 18th Dream stall.

A NEW CONTENDER FOR WORST FILM EVER?

'The Claw'. I love a b-movie, a sci-fi b-movie all the better; so why hadn't I seen 'The Claw' before? Recently shown on the Horror Channel, so no doubt it'll be on again soon, it combined terrible acting and unintelligible scientific explanations with the most ludicrous alien I've seen for many years - unmissable!


RIP UNCLE DES

I've just heard that Des O'Connor has died. At one point, he was my uncle although he married four times so I guess he was most people's uncle at some stage.
A favourite of my dad, we saw him headline a summer season show in Llandudno or Weston-Super-Mare when I was a little kid and I first learned what 'working an audience' meant - he was a past-master.


WORLD OF SPORT

It's pouring down and looks like it's going to stay that way all weekend so I settle down for a Saturday of armchair sport, only to find the England rugby game is on Amazon Prime, horse racing is rubbish and F1 is pointless; thank god for live international football on Sky so bring it on...San Marino vs Gibraltar.

HAVE I BEEN TO ANY GIGS THIS YEAR?

I really can't remember, if I have it was a bloody long time ago. I've taken live music for granted, and probably will again, but right now nights out at venues like the Half Moon, 100 Club, Thunderbolt and - of course - the Cellar Bar are my idea of heaven.

Here are some of our earlier ramblings.... PREVIOUS BLOGGINGS

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