Friday 24 July 2009

Podrophenia - Show 2!

firstly, apologies if I haven't replied to an e-mail, responded to your comment and\or commented on your blog lately... My PC was doing odd stuff last week, which culminated in a terminal 'blue-screen' last weekend. Several days of generally poking stuff with a screwdriver was little help, and it's now in with the professionals. I spoke to them today and it seems to have foxed them too! So, sorry for my enforced silence, it's nothin personal, honest!

I'm currently using the internet cafe at Chez Mondo (cheers PM, SORRY Mrs PM!), in order to bring you the second installment of our Podrophenia podcast.

More bumbling random ramblings from Mondo and me, plus an array of top toons to enjoy. The 'theme' for this show is 'Summer', enabling us to bring you ten sunny delights... sort of!

Would really appreciate any comments (good or bad!), plus why not let us know all the songs we SHOULDA included! Any ideas for future 'themes' are also always welcome.

Hopefully I'll be back on-line soon, in the meantime, enjoy the podcast!

This podcast is now only available as an iTunes download. You can grab this and every other Podrophenia show for free here:  Podrophenia on iTunes



Tuesday 14 July 2009

Keep It In The Family...

I come from quite a musical family, particularly on my Fathers side... There were 3 singers out of my pop, his 4 brothers and 1 sister, and between the six of them, they could play just about any instrument going... including the bagpipes!! That accolade goes to his sister, Winifred, who was the drum major of the Dagenham Girl Pipers in the 50s and 60s! These were the days when the DGP's were a big international act. She toured the world with them and shared the stage with some big names of the time... but that's probably a blog post in itself...

My dads youngest brothers, twins Micky and Donald, showed quite some promise, and in the late 50's early 60's were likened to a British Everly Brothers. They toured under the name 'The Essex Brothers' and were regular favourites on the Granada Cinema circuit, where they would often play to 1000+ audiences. They even made a record at one point, but I have no idea exactly what or when.
They finished as a duo in the 60's, but both continued to perform as solo acts in pubs and clubs for the rest of their lives... I have a vivid recollection of seeing them perform together at a big family reunion in the early 70's. Sadly, despite being the youngest of the family, they both died relatively early... Donald aged 54, and Micky aged 65.

Now here's the weird bit. I've been half drafting a post on the Everly Brothers for quite some time... an act to whom there is much more than history (or endless regurgitated 'greatest hits' collection) would have you believe. In it I was going to mention the above about my uncles, and in preparation, I recently asked my dad if there were any surviving recordings of them. Unfortunately the answer was no, and nobody even has a copy of the record any more.

Fast forward to the weekend just gone. My dads sister-in-law is currently in the process of moving, having lived in the same house for over 40 years. A venture into the loft to clear it out unearthed.... yes, you guessed it, two 'reel-to-reel' tapes labelled 'Mick + Don'. There's no further information than that, so they could contain anything. They are on the smaller 'CD-sizeish' reels rather than the larger master tape ones, so the likelihood is they contain some home recordings that they made themselves. Nonetheless, for my dad and his remaining siblings, the possibility of being able to hear their brothers sing again is very exciting... although having endured 40 odd summers and winters in a loft, they are also resigned to the fact that perhaps there will be nothing left on the tapes. But whatever the outcome, they are desperate to find out exactly what they do (or don't) contain.

Which leads me to my question... How the hell do I play them??! Even more crucial, how can I get them converted to CD? Any ideas gratefully received!

Tuesday 7 July 2009

Podrophenia - Show 1!

Well, we've been talking about it for some time, but last Thursday evening, those good people at Planet Mondo and I got together to record our inaugural podcast - Podrophenia!

We're hoping it will be the first of a semi-regular affair, and each show will have a different theme.... Show 1 has the theme of 'cover versions'. I'm not giving too much away here, but there's 10 stomping tracks for you to enjoy, where amongst others, some huge 90's Britpopers cover Rod, and then returning the favour, Rod covers Britpop! There's Beatles toonage, Jackson beats, Bugsy Malone madness and much more, all linked together with inane, unscripted waffle!

This podcast is now only available as an iTunes download. You can grab this and every other Podrophenia show for free here:  Podrophenia on iTunes



Monday 6 July 2009

A Bit More Blur!

I'd like to say thanks to everyone who has e-mailed me (both via here and the Blur forum) re my Blur photos from the Southend 'warm-up' show. I'm really pleased you all liked them. I did take quite a few, and I did say I would try to get a few more up for you to see. So here they are!

If you missed the original review and photos you can see it all Here.


Friday 3 July 2009

Good Grief!

I've tried really really hard to give a swerve to the whole Michael Jackson media circus... but the temptation has been just too great. His death was a surprise to me, and of course, ANYONE dying at the age of 50 is tragic (even more so when you are not much more than 7 years away from that age yourself!). But I have to say his music (you know... that thing he's actually famous for!), despite being there all my life, has had little effect on me. I'm not saying he wasn't talented, I'm sure he was great at what he did and all that... if that's the sort of thing you like, but it just didn't speak to me. I don't mind a bit of the Jackson 5, but to be honest, could easily live without that too. For someone who I guess would have to be classed somewhere in or near 'soul' music, I oddly found his music very soul-less.

But of course, despite his career having little effect on my life, the moment I heard he had passed away, I was wailing like the proverbial banshee... I couldn't eat for days, I wore a black armband and bought up an entire days supply of Tescos fresh cut flowers (guaranteed for 7 days you know) which I symbolically laid outside important MJ landmarks... which I'll be honest, is not that easy when you live in Southend... but we do at least have two HMV's, a shop who have tirelessly flogged his tunes for decades, gawd bless 'em.

I joke of course, but it never ceases to amaze me that people DO seem to carry on like that these days, but where did this exaggerated public grief all come from? We certainly never used to do it... The death of Diana in 97 was of course another tragic event. I felt genuinely sorry for her family, and particularly for her two young sons... but then, I would if the same thing happened to ANY poor 36 year old mother, and unfortunately you read stories like this in the papers all too often. Even at the time I remember seeing TV footage of people sobbing uncontrollably in the streets, laying flowers and lighting candles, and wondered "are you REALLY this upset about the passing of a stranger?". I don't mean this to sound cold-hearted, but I sometimes wonder if it's an odd attention thing, 'look at me, just look how upset I am'. I mean, some of those people collapsing with grief in the Mall were surely just OD'ing on all the media hype wernt they? I can't imagine they did (or would) react like this at the death of their own mother! I wonder if any of those people feel embarrassed now about their OTT reactions? Or perhaps I'm just a cynical old boot, and it really did affect them that much?

There is also the odd phenomenon of people who, despite having ignored an artist for 40 odd years, will rush out an pick up their entire back-cat the moment they die! Why is that? I saw it again today, a middle-aged woman in HMV clutching an armful of Jackson CDs, whilst flicking through the numerous 'tribute' magazines they had for sale. Do they actually play them or is it (much like the public grief) all about 'show'?? Do they leave them conveniently scattered around the house so when people come round they'll assume you are a big fan? or does seeing a 30 second clip of the Thriller video on the telly for the 100th time that day makes you think "Y'know, I never liked him when he was alive, but now he's dead he's fab isn't he"??!

The press are the worst though. All of a sudden he's St Michael of Jackson... wonderful family man etc etc. Hold on, isn't this the guy you've been vilifying for the last 15 odd years??! I was listening to the radio when the story broke, and the guy presenting immediately did a 180 degree turn. Banging on about how the child abuse stories were "only ever alleged" "never a scrap of evidence" "never convicted of anything"... and how about these tacky 'celeb' mags? I had to shake my head with disbelief at the front cover of OK magazine this week. They have the audacity to put "Official Tribute - In Loving Memory" on the front cover, and then combine those words with the exclusive shot they've bought of a DEAD Michael Jackson... yeah, you read that right. Nice touch OK, very respectful... Shame on you.

But its the cynical attempt to make a fast buck that always impresses (always labelled as a 'tribute' of course)... and it was something I spotted today that actually made me decide to do this post. Whilst walking past my local "Snappy Snaps" (a shop dedicated to, as the name suggests, producing your photographs in double quick time!), I see they have quickly branched out into a new area. They now specialize in photo printing AND Michael Jackson memorial items, and are proudly advertising their "EXCLUSIVE" I Love Michael T-shirts and mugs (only £9.99 each). They were the worst, most tacky thing ever. And in their haste to make money, hadn't even bothered to get a decent picture of the poor man to put on it. Instead, they have picked some odd sideways shot, which seems to depict Jackson breaking wind! A touching tribute I'm sure you'll agree.

Anyway, I'm off to Tescos, I need more flowers to lay outside Snappy Snaps...