Sorry, but I continue to lead a very full life (thank goodness) and squeezing in the time to write another Blog continues to be something of a challenge. I do know that the next one may not happen for a while, as I am heading off on some travels during May and June…
I have decided to put a decidedly humorous dimension into my ramblings this time, as I was wondering – given some of the flame wars I see across various web music forums – whether we might take the music we enjoy a wee bit too seriously at times. I was rather taken by the following analysis of the Blues, for instance (and that’s the real Blues, by the way, not the current garbage they call R & B for some inexplicable reason...)
(a) Most Blues begin, "Woke up this morning..."
(b) "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues. Unless you stick something nasty in the next line like, "I got a good woman, with the meanest face in town."
(c) The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes... sort of: "Got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher, and she weigh 500 pound."
(d) The Blues is not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch--ain't no way out.
(e) Blues cars: Chevys, Fords, Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Blues don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or Sport Utility Vehicles.Most Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft and state-sponsored motor pools ain't even in the running. Walkin' plays a major Part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die.
(f) Teenagers can't sing the Blues. They ain't fixin' to die yet. Adults sing the Blues. In Blues, "adulthood" means being old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.
(g) Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or any place in Canada. Hard times in Minneapolis or Seattle is probably just clinical depression. Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City are still the best places to have the Blues. You cannot have the blues in any place that don't get rain.
(h) A man with male pattern baldness ain't the blues. A woman with male pattern baldness is. Breaking your leg cause you were skiing is not the blues. Breaking your leg cause a alligator be chomping on it is.
(i) You can't have no Blues in a office or a shopping mall. The lighting is wrong. Go outside to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster.
So, the line-up for Firefest 2012 has now been announced; and what a cracking weekend it looks like being. I think the guys have really excelled themselves this time and I am amazed by the appearance of SANTERS. I have all four of their extremely desirable albums in the Japanese-released box set from 1998 that I managed to find for a very decent price a few years later. I know this is a band that many will not know. As for me, it is Brighton Rock and XYZ that will provide a musical education, for I have (as I type this) not heard anything by either band.
Looking back at Firefest 2011: well, what an amazing weekend that turned out to be. As some of you will know, I work with a team of super guys (Gary Marshall, Ian Johnson, Steven Reid, David Hill and Nigel Kay -- we are collectively known as "The Jumblies") as part of the festival's front of house crew. This time I personally spent more time behind the scenes watching various processes than I did watching the bands. Indeed, the only full sets I saw were of the bands I was reviewing for Fireworks and Burrn! Magazines (Houston and Vega) and there were a number I didn't see at all. What needs to be remarked is just what a smooth and well-run event it has turned into, and I'm not being sycophantic in remarking thus. I do see lots of praise from many people following the Festival each year, but looking at the interlocking of all the parts that go to make the Festival what it is, I think that the unique camaraderie and sheer hard work and determination of everyone involved ensuring the festival is as great an experience as possible is quite possibly unique. The fact that this is a great social occasion as well as an amazing musical feast is also fundamental to its success. It is growing year by year and the good vibes of the weekend are being spread around the melodic rock community and more and more bands seem to be keen to get involved, I understand.
Rock City may have become the established home of the Festival for now, but I do know that there was very serious consideration of at least one other venue in another city (NOT London!) this time. The early curfew for the shows on each day is a particularly irksome matter and there are other factors about which I am not going to write here that are not ideal, and which could be positively addressed by staging the Festival elsewhere. And yet, for every gain, there would inevitably be losses, not least because of the links built up over the past few years in Nottingham and of the understanding of how the Rock City venue works and of using it to our advantage in that respect.
Returning to last year's Festival, I do want to commend all the wonderful "AORsters" who attended this year's festival.
I don't know the guy's name but he arrived at the entrance to Rock City on the Friday evening having missed Serpentine, Houston and Terry Brock. He demanded a refund because he had been scouring Nottingham Trent University for the venue at which the show was being held there...
I did notice that Rock City was very full on the Friday night...but I guess there's always one who lives their life in a complete haze! What really gets me in Society these days is the inability of some people to accept their culpability for a particular situation. It always has to be someone else's fault!
There, I do occasionally have a rant!
One of the things I really enjoy is meeting up with friends and acquaintances, amongst whom are Sue and Marty Moffatt. Marty is, as many of you will know, a really fabulous photographer and he and Sue Ashcroft both produce official shots of the entire show. Sue Moffatt stations herself at the reception desk for much of the weekend, and as such has to be counted as an honorary Jumbly! As anyone who has ever shared her company will know, she has a wicked sense of humour and time spent in her vicinity quickly passes!
It is also great meeting the musicians from the melodic rock scene and there are two from Firefest 2011 I would particularly like to mention here: Alessandro del Vecchio and Issa. I have long been an admirer of Ale's work -- both as a musician, a producer, a composer and (I think this is lesser known) a vocal coach. A brief conversation at Firefest has been followed by numerous e-mails between us and a glimpse into his very busy schedule. He has several projects on the go at the moment and I will be talking with him about these and so much more for a forthcoming feature in Fireworks.
Issa always seemed to be somewhere near the Firefest reception desk in the foyer of Rock City: usually (but not always) in the company of her husband James Martin (Vega). She really is a very lovely person, and a complete ladette!! I had expected to see her name in the line-up for 2012, given that she had so thoroughly soaked up the atmosphere (along with a few cans) but I guess it's more likely for 2013 especially if Vega put in a return appearance then.
As I put the finishing touches to this edition of 'Another Moment...' I am sat at the computer with more than a modicum of frustration. I was due to be attending tonight's gig at the Classic Rock Society with Bruce, but in a winter that has (here in Bury) been remarkably free of snow, just after 1100 this morning the predicted heavy snow began. And seven hours later it is still bucketing down. As the journey from here to Rotherham necessitates crossing over the Pennines, we decided that it might not be a sensible idea to venture out. I dare it to snow in four weeks time when I am next due at the CRS (for the BOTYS); on that occasion I will be going in the company of my pal Mark Ryan. He has a 4WD vehicle...now there's an idea for when Bruce decides to replace his rear-wheel drive Lexus that seems to slide all over the place as soon as the words "snow" and "ice" are uttered!
Appearing at the CRS tonight is the wonderful British prog band CREDO. Their 2011 album 'Against Reason' topped my personal best of the year list. As only the first five appear in forthcoming (and landmark) issue 50 of Fireworks, here is the full Top 10:
1. CREDO -- Against Reason
2. SHY -- Shy
3. SUBSIGNAL -- Touchstones
4. SEAN FILKINS -- War & Peace And Other Short Stories
5. NIGHTWISH -- Imaginaerum
6. THE MAGNIFICENT -- The Magnificent
7. TOBY HITCHCOCK -- Mercury's Down
8. MECCA -- Undeniable
9. COSMOGRAPH -- When Age Has Done Its Duty
10. ROB MORATTI -- Victory
Also in contention (in alphabetical order) were...
AMARANTHE -- Amaranthe
AMORPHIS -- The Beginning Of Times
EDEN'S CURSE -- Trinity
LIONVILLE -- Lionville
MAGIC PIE -- The Suffering Joy
MAGNUM -- The Visitation
MANNING -- Margaret's Children
PRESTO BALLET -- Invisible Places
TEN -- Stormwarning
WORK OF ART -- In Progress
That's it for this time. I keep promising that the next one will not be such a long time a coming! We'll see...
I realise that this has been a terribly long time coming, but when one has as many interests as I do, and spends as long in front of a computer as I seem to anyway, the thought of sitting down and spending even more time in front of a computer doesn’t really fill me with positive thoughts, and yet there have been so many things since the last time that I would have liked to comment upon. And, I suppose, that is where Face Book comes in and Twitter too; but I have shunned all encouragement to make the leap into these universes. I am happy where I am, and in a way it is a terrible self-indulgence to share so much of oneself with others, and even - quite possibly - a gross impertinence.
The delay in appearance of this instalment of my Blog is entirely due to my being a numpty when I originally tried to post it onto the Rocktopia site a few weeks ago. I obviously didn’t do it right, as everything duly disappeared – most of you will have had something similar happen to you in the computer age and it is a major leaning experience at the time, but moreover quite dispiriting.
Another week, another album pick, so this week I go for one of the all time classic James Gaden shots in the dark...
Frederiksen/Philips - 'Frederiksen/Philips' (Empire Records)
It's time to bring back the 'Album Of The Week' blog back to Rockopia - I became buried with work and couldn't keep up with it, but I've been forced to bring it back by popular demand. Well, one person today asked if I'd resurrect it, so I'll take that, beggars can't be choosers. Without further ado, I'm going way back into my early days as a rock fan and dusting out this beauty:
I am sorry that it's been a while. 2010 was a peculiar year for me, as some of you who are close friends will know. Well, all that is now hopefully behind me, because as of midnight I am now a retired man!
Hopefully, I will now appear here regularly, and if some of you find my ramblings of any sort of interest, please let me know. Alternatively, if any of you would prefer me to keep my thoughts to myself, well I will not be offended if you say so (but nor will it make any difference!!)
I had been planning to write about CD supply problems - which all started with issues that I had with some orders placed with Play.com. However, I think I would need to be a fully fledged investigative journalist to concisely set down for you to read all that I have discovered. All I will say is that it is a minefield, and some surprising details have been revealed. And more continue to be uncovered, so it is as yet and incomplete story!
So, I am going to start 2011 by giving you my overview of 2010. This is in the form of a series of Top 10 lists, the final one being my top albums of the year. You will see that when you only get my top 5 in Fireworks 44 that there is one helluva lot of backup thought that has gone into this (and the same will apply to my fellow Fireworks writers too, I guess!)
So, here goes:
(a) Frontiers releases:
01 TREAT – Coup De Grace
02 UNRULY CHILD – Worlds Collide
It has been a while since my last update, and I am pleased to announce that we've just officially launched V .8 of the Rocktopia website. In the last couple of weeks, we made a number of improvements on the site and also launched the new AhORa Rock podcast. May I remind all users to post any problems in the appropriate sections of the Rocktopia forum? Also, I'd like to remind you that there is a special support section for our registered members. Should you have any troubles registering your account, there's a FAQ list that will help you. If you are still unable to join the community, please contact us.
Many thanks & best regards,
This is not the next episode of my own Blog that I promised over a month ago. I am still in the process of gathering the material to reveal to you, so I shall but mention that it is about some of the major on-line music retailers and their treatment of customers. I am sure that you all have your own stories to tell and if you’d like to share them with me, please send an e-mail to my Rocktopia e-mail address…firstname.lastname@example.org
So, for now I thought I would just mention one or two Blogs that I visit on a fairly regular basis – although I’m sure you all have your own assortment that you visit for various reasons. The one that I have been visiting the longest belongs to my old school chum, Geoff Arnold, at: http://www.geoffarnold.com/ Geoff’s Blog is definitely esoteric and much of it goes completely over my head. He is a Geek, currently lives in California and works for Huawei, one of the world’s largest and fastest growing manufacturers of telecoms equipment, though previously he worked for Amazon, based in Seattle and prior to that Sun Microsystems, where he was based in Boston. I much enjoy his atheist rants, his ofyen wearisome tales of various Airlines as he heads off around the world on business and pleasure trips, his comments about cutting edge technology (at which I can only marvel, as here he is my anthesis!) and of his latest musical acquisitions: music being the shared interest that brought us together: and particularly the psychedelic outpourings of the late 1960s. Oh, and Bridge! (But that’s another story entirely!)