Thursday, 26 November 2009

Unseen - 1963

Good friend Dave Whit put me on to it, and boy am I pleased I finally managed to get there at the weekend....

You may remember back in August me banging on about my love for the dear old sadly departed (and much missed) Odeon in Southend, and I've been on the local nostalgia buzz ever since. Well blow me, a local photographer from the 60's, Derek Cross, has just found a stack of old negatives in his archives... out of curiosity he starts to develop one or two, and he's only got professional press photos of just about every legendary act from the early 60's, all taken whilst they were performing at the Southend Odeon! 'Unseen 1963' is a fab little exhibition in Leigh-on-Sea, displaying a selection of these recently uncovered photos.

(Image © Derek Cross)

There are a mixture of both posed and candid photos on display, and whilst the posed ones are great, I couldn't help but be drawn to the candid ones. Each one spoke a thousand words... There is a wonderful one of the Beatles presenting a girl with a competition prize (which was a crude wooden toy of themselves!). The prize winner is quite young, and as such all 4 Beatles are bent in two to hand over the prize! You hardly even see their faces, just the 4 mop-tops and a very excited little girl!

Another great candid shot shows the Beatles kicking around the auditorium, whilst the stage area is being prepared for the show. In the background is a piano with the name of the legendary local music shop of the 60's and 70's emblazoned across it - Hodges and Johnson.

As well as a good dozen or so Beatles shots, amongst others included in this exhibition are Rolling Stones (group shots and solo), Cliff Richard, Everley Brothers, Roy Orbison, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, Dusty Springfield, The Kinks, Helen Shapiro, The Hollies, The Shirells, Bo Diddley, Freddie and the Dreamers, Joe Brown, Adam Faith, Duane Eddy and The Searchers.... and rather oddly amongst all that lot... Alistair Simm!! There are also a couple of great shots showing the crowd entering the Odeon for one of these shows. I also found the photos of bands that hadn't made it interesting too... one is simply labelled "four men sitting on steps (unknown)".

Image © Derek Cross

I spoke to the gallery owner (John Lister) about the display, and asked him if what was on display was the complete collection. I was shocked when he said there were more... even more so when he disappeared off and came back with a box full of undisplayed gems!! Oddly enough, my favourite picture of the whole lot ended up being one from the box!! A brilliant shot of Ringo Starr, fag hanging out the corner of his mouth, sitting in a dressing room chair. On both arms of the chair were tall piles of autograph books, all open on the page requiring a signature. Head down, he was busy working his way through the lot! Just in the corner of the picture, almost out of shot, was George Harrison reading a fan letter! What great times eh? Would we have any faith in a band of their popularity actually receiving (let alone reading!) a fan letter handed in at the venue today??

Alas this exhibition closes this coming weekend (last day Sunday 29th November). John told me that there had been some interest from the odd London gallery, but other than that, the future for these photos seems a little unclear. A lovely, overpriced coffee table book would do these pictures a real justice, and I think it's important to keep them together as a set, rather than splitting them up for Beatles books, Stones books etc. It captures an exciting time in both the history of Southend, and the British music scene in the early 60's.

Image © Derek Cross

In the unlikely event that you find yourself in the area between now and then, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. I'm certainly hoping to get back for another peep before it goes.

Atelier Gallery (almost opposite The Grand pub).
96 The Broadway


Monday, 23 November 2009

Podrophenia - Show 6... Size!

Can it really be that time again already??! I'm afraid so!! Mondo and I are back with our 6th Podrophenia Podcast, which this time round has the theme of 'Size'. As well as 10 'gigantically compact' tracks, there's all the usual old unscripted 'small' talk inbetween... including a few 'huge' stories, 'tall' tales a 'big' competition and some 'tiny' oddities.... and somehow all of the people in this montage are intrinsically linked in the next 60 minutes!!

The next show will be an end of year, Christmas special, so do please drop us a line if you have any Christmas stories from years gone by... awful prezzies, thongs going wrong etc etc



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



Thursday, 19 November 2009

You'll Never Guess Who I had In The Back Of My Cab...

The world wide web is an amazing thing!! Back in September I did this post about the time Laurel and Hardy came to Southend, nearly 60 years ago. A few weeks back I received a lovely e-mail from Roger Robinson, who runs the Southend branch of the official Laurel and Hardy fan club - Saps at Sea. Roger had somehow stumbled onto the blog, and dropped me a line to let me know all about the work of the club. We e-mailed back and forth for a while, and then he casually dropped in that one of the members of the club was the taxi driver who picked Laurel and Hardy up from the train station when they arrived in Southend!! I was invited along to their next meeting, and the other weekend I took up the kind offer. I was very pleased to meet up with Roger and his merry band of Stan and Ollie fans... one of which was that taxi driver himself, Ron Stokoe!

Ron was a joy to chat to, and by the end of the evening I felt as though I'd known him for years! I couldn't let this meeting go without a quick interview to capture this wonderful piece of local history, and Ron was more than happy to oblige.....

It's Sunday 3rd August 1952, and you now have Stan and Ida Laurel and Ollie and Lucille Hardy in your cab!! How did it come about?
It was about lunchtime at Southend Victoria Station, and word was going round that Laurel and Hardy were about to arrive there and would require a taxi to take them to the Palace Hotel. Someone from the Odeon was there in advance, checking to make sure that there would be a cab in the rank when the train arrived. It just so happened that I was at the front of the rank when they stepped out from the station!!

Were you already a fan of Laurel and Hardy at this point?
Not really, I remember before the War, my brother John and I, frequented the Kursaal Cinema every Saturday morning. We laughed at many of the Laurel & Hardy short films shown as second films to the feature film. But we were more interested in the serialization of Flash Gordon & his Trip to Mars! or The Lone Ranger, these serials always enticed us to go back every week… Happy days!

Can you remember who sat where in the cab?
Ollie, being the largest of the group, got in the front passenger seat, Stan and the two wives shared the back seat.

It must have felt very surreal to have two of the biggest film stars in the world sat in your cab! What were you thinking at the time?
At 26 years of age, I was completely in awe having famous people in my cab, the very short journey did not really help me to fully absorb this very special occasion.

Were you able to have any conversation with them?
They were a little reserved. They had traveled to Southend from Bradford that day, so it’s likely that the journey had taken its toll. They were only in the cab for a matter of minutes, but I did have some casual chat with them. It was mainly limited to “welcome to Southend” “pleased to meet you” and “hope you have a pleasant stay, and have an enjoyable week playing at the Odeon”. Oliver Hardy thanked me and asked how far it was to the hotel. By this time I had gone round the corner at the end of the High Street so I said “there it is!”.

Were you able to get a photo and\or autograph from the boys?
Like I said earlier, I was over awed at meeting them and it never crossed my mind. I do regret not asking for their autographs.

Can you remember how much the fair was??! Who paid for it, and did they give you a tip??!!!
I was instructed not to take any fare or tip from them, and to collect the fee from The Odeon. The charge came to 3 shillings and sixpence (17.5 pence), and I was given a tip of 1 shilling and sixpence (7.5 pence). So a grand total of 5 shillings (25 pence), which in those days was a good result for me, considering the Palace Hotel was just half a mile from the taxi rank!

Did you go and see the show whilst they were in Southend?
I didn't see the whole show at the Odeon, but while I was working - bearing in mind that evening’s are the most lucrative time for taxi’s - I did look in at the theatre between taxi fares, the taxi rank was just yards away from the venue. I recall that they did a funny sketch involving a railway station platform.

Did you bump into them again at all during their week in Southend?
No, as a cab driver I would not have approached them, unless they ordered a taxi.

Do you have any particular favourite Laurel and Hardy films?
No order of preference really, like everyone else, I can laugh and appreciate the skill and timing of all the predictable antics they display in their films – no one will ever do it better than the boys.

Here's Ron with the very cab that Laurel and Hardy rode in!

Many thanks to Ron for taking time out to tell me his story. Thanks also to Roger and all the other 'Saps' who made me so very welcome. I look forward to dropping in again soon for another evening of chat and laughter! They meet every 2nd Sunday of every month at the Naval & Military Club, 20 Royal Terrace, Southend. I can guarantee you'll be offered a warm welcome if you pop in to see them. You can view the Saps at Sea website here for more information.


Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Tag... I'm It!

Right.... from what I can make out, L'armadio del delitto tagged Lisa who tagged Suzie who tagged Chocolate Girl who tagged Mondo who tagged..... ME! I think it goes back much further than that too, but alas my Italian is not good, so unfortunately I was unable to make out who tagged L'armadio del delitto!

The rules seem simple enough....

1. You have to post a song that makes you happy.

2. You then tag another blogger... as many people as you want, but I'm guessing it has to be at least one!

3. You say at least one thing about each blog that you tag, that will make them smile, something nice about their blog that makes you smile when you read it!

So here goes...

1. I've not taken this lightly! I've been thinking long and hard about songs that actually do make me smile, and no matter what I think of, it keeps coming back to this one. One of my Top 3 all time favourite films is Swingers. It has everything for me, it's beautifully written, was made on a shoestring budget and sheer determination, has a wonderful cast (although all complete 'unknowns' at the time), AMAZING dialogue, and is genuinely funny and heartwarming. It's one of those films that you never want to end. There is a beautiful final scene that never fails to leave me with the biggest smile on my face, and as the picture fades this tune kicks in...

Bobby Darin - I'm Beginning To See The Light

So, on the face of it, not a particularly 'funny' song, but I'm always happy and smiley when I hit the point in the film where it starts... and because of those fond memories, I find myself smiling anytime I hear it around... I mean, look.. I'm smiling right now!

2 & 3. I'm tagging Dan over at The Blog of Eternal Disappointment and I Should Be Working over at, erm, I Should Be Working!

I'm cheating slightly, and using the same reason for both... I just love the use of the English language that these two have, and their ability to make the most ordinary story into the most funny, riveting and enjoyable reads.... (Dan also knows a thing or two about bacon.... ). Gawd bless 'em both!


Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Marc Almond at the Roundhouse - Live Review

Marc Almond Live at The Roundhouse, 1st November 2009

Marc Almond is one of the most complex artists I follow. He juggles countless styles and influences, and can provide an almost infinite amount of completely different live shows. I've been seeing him live for 25 years now, and STILL, I can't second guess what kind of set-list I will see that night! The rule of thumb tends to be that at the small, intimate, atmospheric venues (Wiltons Music Hall, Almeida, Union Chapel etc) he'll do an intense 'torch singer' style set, with stripped down accompaniment of just keyboards and\or guitar. These shows will be full of what Marc does best, dramatic songs of doom and gloom, where every silver lining has a cloud! At the bigger venues (Palladium, Shepherds Bush Empire, Royal Festival Hall etc) there tends to be a slant towards some of his more up-tempo material (although still not necessarily the 'hits' that some may be expecting), backed by a much fuller band. He'll usually still have a segment of a few slower torch songs at some point during these shows though.

If I had to pick my favourite type of Almond show it would have to be the intense, small venues. A two hour set seems to fly by, and I spend much of that time with shivers down the spine and goosebumps, as Marc holds you completely captivated. It is not uncommon for him to sing completely acapella at some point during these shows, and he will even walk through the crowd singing without a microphone. There is so much respect for the man that not a single person attempts to 'grab' at their idol, and you can hear a pin drop during the quiet moments. Tonight though, we're at the Roundhouse in Camden, so although I'd never dare try to guess the setlist, I at least assume we are in for a more lively affair (especially as this is predominantly a standing venue).

As a gig-goer for more than 25 years, I can't quite believe that I've never been to a show at the Roundhouse before. It's a very unique building, built in 1846 as a turning circle\turntable train shed. It soon became redundant though, and by 1867 it was mothballed.... and it remained so for almost the next 100 years! In 1964 it was turned into an arts venue, and played host to such legends as David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. It closed its doors again in 1983 (ironically, the year I started going to gigs in London), and lay dormant once more, until it was reinstated as a venue in 1996. Since then (bar a closure for a couple of years between 2004 and 2006) it has become a favourite venue on many gig-goers schedules.

Marc takes to the stage with a huge ovation, and he seems genuinely touched by the welcome. The show starts with the uplifting 'Glorious' and is followed up with the Marc and The Mambas track 'Untitled'. Despite his on-going health issues, Marc seems to have the energy of a man half his age (I still can't believe he is in his 50's now!), and his voice seems to just get better and better. He has a full band with him tonight including an excellent 3-girl brass section, and the always welcome accompaniment of Gini Ball and Anne Stephenson (both original members of Marc and the Mambas) on violin. Very quickly though, many of the band leave the stage, to enable Marc to do a selection of his more intense, stripped down songs. Various members come back from time to time to provide backing for the odd number here and there, but it seems to be a rarity when all members are on stage at the same time. As much as I love Marc's torch songs, I couldn't help but feel he missed a trick tonight, as:

a) when you've assembled a fabulous backing band complete with brass section, it seems almost churlish to not use them as much as possible, and select songs which they can all be involved in; and

b) there is always a 'mixed' crowd at the bigger shows. Unlike the 'hardcore' fans who attend all the intimate gigs, I got a real feeling that there were a lot of casual fans in tonight, no doubt looking for a few memories from the past.

The 'heaviness' of what turned out to be a very extended slow section seemed to switch off and alienate a fair number of the crowd. This set would have gone down a storm at say Wiltons Music Hall, but unlike there, where you can hear a pin drop in the quiet moments of the songs, tonight all I can hear is very loud chattering and the noise of the bar. Personally I love this material, but I'm just not sure it worked in this venue, and to continue with it for such a long period of time comes across as a little self indulgent. The intensity and drama of the songs seems to get lost a little in the size of the venue, and the momentum of the show loses its way somewhat... leaving a 'stand-up' audience with little to stand-up for. By the time Marc finally upped the tempo of the set again, for an absolutely rousing rendition of 'Tears Run Rings', I fear it was all too late for some of the audience, who had switched off by this point. He followed 'Tears Run Rings' with just about the best version of 'Jacky' I've ever seen him do. This was followed by.... erm, "thank you and goodnight" Doh! He returned for a few encores, including a beautiful and emotional 'Say Hello, Wave Goodbye', which finally gave the crowd something to sing along with.

I've been following Marc long enough to know that he never panders to anyone, and his set lists are always exactly what he wants to perform. This is a healthy attitude for an artist who is still interested in progressing his career rather than resting on his laurels, and it also ensures for an interesting evening when he performs live. However, at times, I really think he should have a think about the venue he is performing in and the audience that is likely to attend. If he doesn't, then there is really little point in specifically choosing to play these big and small venues.

I have to say that I genuinely loved this show! and I always find the quirky set list much more enjoyable than perhaps hearing more obvious songs. But I couldn't help also viewing it from a more neutral standpoint too, and just felt that tonight's set list which included a large selection of Russian folk songs, unreleased self-penned songs aqnd obscure cover versions (including lesser known Bowie and Bolan songs and tracks by Baby Dee, Richard Thompson and even Aleister Crowley!) was probably not a big people pleaser, and probably did little to win over any potential new fans. Yes there was the odd 'classic' ('Only The Moment', 'Mother Fist', 'Torment' 'Tears Run Rings' 'Jacky' 'Say Hello Wave Goodbye') but I fear not enough of them in a two hour show to be bringing some of tonight's crowd back out for another outing. I took a friend along who although a longtime Marc fan, is very definitely a casual one, and he found the evening way too heavy. I also heard several people in the crowd as we filed out saying they thought it was a bit flat. A case of 'horses for courses' perhaps?


Here's that 'Say Hello Wave Goodbye'

See my review of Marc Almond at Wiltons Music Hall in 2008 here

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Now he is Two!

Can it really be a year since this post?! It seems impossible, but yes, Tommy turned two last week (the picture on the left was taken on his birthday). I was impressed with his progress in year one, but year two has been incredible!! This time last year he was crawling around the place, but now, although a dab hand at the 'ol walking lark, Tommy insists on RUNNING everywhere! This wee lad is a constant blur, and his journey from the front room to the kitchen has recently been clocked at almost 18MPH!!! He's a natural at stairs as well now, which is handy, as he has to climb a fair few of them to get to his bedroom.

For his birthday we went for a long walk along an amazingly sunny and warm (for the time of year) Southend seafront... which he loved! This was topped off with a visit to the Sealife Centre... which he hated! The first sight of a slippery old fish had him screaming, and he didn't let up! We are currently nervously waiting to see if we've broken the world record for 'Shorted amount of time spent in a Sealife Centre', and are really hoping that our total of ten minutes will be enough to win us that coveted prize. Yes sir, ten minutes!! And that was literally just the length of time to walk from the entrance to the exit carrying a screaming kid! Even a brief stop off at the Clown Fish to point out "hey look Nemo" did nothing to cheer him up! The moment we got outside he was fine again... one of the best sixteen quids I've ever spent!

But the above episode is actually very uncharacteristic of the boy, and as a rule he's a very happy, smiley, funny fella, and an absolute joy to be with.... Happy Birthday Son.

(Actually, he's still only 1 in these two pictures - taken back in August, but I really like em!!)


Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Sparks - The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman

A few weeks back I added myself to the already heavily oversubscribed BBC 'hat' that was to pluck 100 pairs of tickets to be present at the UK premier play of the new Sparks album - The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman. The event was to be recorded for BBC 6 Music (for Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone), and would be topped off by an extensive interview with Ron and Russell Mael. I never really expected to hear any more, but on 23rd October I got an e-mail with two e-tickets attached!

This project was initially instigated by Swedish national radio, who approached the brothers and asked them to write a radio musical for them. After mulling through a number of ideas ('Ikea the Musical' Russell will joke later tonight!) they settled on a piece centred around Ingmar Bergman. Unsurprisingly, the resulting piece was mostly (all?) in Swedish, but they have now created an English version to be released in November.

So last Wednesday (28th October) I wandered up to the BBC Radio Theatre at Portland Place in London for the unveiling of this curious project. Having finally made it through the Beeb's Heathrow-esque security - they even made me remove my belt!! - we were ushered into the small theatre, where a small booklet was awaiting each audience member, providing more details on the project and that all important track listing. A large screen with a striking black and white image of Bergman was the centre piece of the auditorium, and below it were three chairs ready for the interview. Stuart Maconie welcomed us all, and after all the obligatory 'domestics' about fire alarms and what to do if you feel unwell, it was quickly on to the inaugural play of the album.

I have to say it was an odd experience sitting in a theatre just listening to audio... I'm not sure I've ever been in that situation before. It was quite weird actually, and whilst my ears were happily enjoying the sounds, my eyes were demanding some stimulation too!! But what do you do whilst penned into a seat with nowhere to go and nothing to see? Well I did what any self respecting nosey parker would do... I 'people watched' for a full 65 minutes!! and what an interesting array of people there was to watch too! My only wish is that I Should Be Working had picked up a couple of tickets too, as she would have captured it in words so much better than me! but for the record, here are just some of the people who kept my eyes entertained...

1) Just in front of me was 'Mr Analyst'. A young lad who seemed desperate to show everyone that he was obviously enjoying the play back much more than anyone else... Now me, I can listen to music without changing the appearance of my face... it's a gift from god I guess. But Mr Analyst, had a smug, Robbie Williams style smirk on his face for much of the hour, combined with inquisitive rolls of the eyes that said "yes, yes, I completely get this album.... ahh yes, I see what you've done there, very good, verrrry good...". He combined this face with a sagely nod of the head at convenient intervals, as if to provide Ron n Russ with confirmation of his approval. Phhewwww! I bet they were sweating on that one! Mr Analyst also laughed at every piece of spoken dialogue... regardless of whether it was funny or not! Again, it was if he was implying that he understood this album SOOOO much more than the rest of us plebs.

2) 'Mr and Mrs Weak Bladder' had rather handily managed to bags themselves second row seats. However I'd imagine a good half of this album is still unheard to them, and they were continually popping in and out of the theatre to go to the lav. At one point it was like a flippin' relay race, as one returned only to relieve (pun not intended) the other.

3) In the row behind me were a couple who particularly intrigued me... 'Mr and Mrs we go to anything that we can get free tickets for'. It seemed obvious that Mr and Mrs WGTATWCGFTF had no idea who Sparks were, or what this album was all about. This could easily be deduced by the pained 'I no understand' look on their faces for the whole hour, and the blank looks into each others faces. Or perhaps they were just hoping for a rendition of 'This Town Ain't Big Enough' to make it all worthwhile...

4) In the row directly in front of me was 'Mrs well it's warm and dry, so i reckon I can get an hours kip in here'. She seemed to be able to fall asleep almost on cue, and was away within the first few bars... not regaining consciousness until well into the interview!

5) But as always, I managed to find the most annoying person much closer... yes, sitting right next to me was Mr sneezy-fuck. He spent the whole evening sniffing and then sneezing into his open hands followed by an audible "ohhhhh", as if I were to feel sorry for him. I've seen those Swine Flu ads, this bastard was spraying over everyone. I could actually see the particles of his snotty excretion flying through the air and landing on me. A few Paddington 'hard stares' were put into action, but to no avail.

But I digress... So what was the album like I hear you cry?? Well, it was different!! a real departure from any of their previous 21 albums, yet at the same time, it was so very 'Sparks' too. The brothers have had a real revival in the 2000's thanks to the recent trilogy of albums they have put out (Lil' Beethoven, Hello Young Lovers and last year’s Exotic Creatures of The Deep). This new album has nods to all three of those albums... the orchestral pomp and arrangement, the flip from rock to pop to classical (and back again!), and of course, that unmistakable Mael sense of humour! Yet it was also like nothing I've heard them do before too... 24 tracks, many instrumental, fusing dialogue, music and song to tell a proper story from start to finish.

The story starts at the 1956 Cannes film festival, where Bergman is picking up an award for his film 'Smiles of a Summer Night'. We then follow the director being tempted by the lure of Hollywood. On arrival in tinsel town he is welcomed by Fritz Lang and Alfred Hitchcock ("Alfred Hitchcock, bless his soul, there chomping on a dinner roll, The Man Who Knew Too Much done twice, in Hollywood, done twice as nice"), but Bergman soon realises that the whole place is corrupt, and it's not long before he is somehow captured inside his own film and his life becomes in very real danger. As the plot twists and turns, it provides the Maels with an opportunity to really play with different sounds and styles - especially when Bergman is 'locked' inside the film, enabling them to tip their hat to the 'sounds' of other directors and film scorers. After a few hairy moments, Bergman eventually escapes... with the aid of Greta Garbo!

This 24 track masterpiece was a lot to take in in one go. I can see it's going to take several plays to fully appreciate, but I think the boys may well have done it again!

Maconie quickly introduces Ron and Russell to the very appreciative audience (well, apart from Mr and Mrs WGTATWCGFTF, who display the facial expressions reminiscent of two cartoon characters, stuck together with glue who have just discovered a hand-grenade attached to their person).

We are then treated to an hours of conversation where Sparks talk in depth about the album and take questions from the audience. The brothers say they were really inspired by this project. Having release 21 albums, it was interesting for them to create something different, something that didn't revolve around 10 or 12 'pop' songs, all lasting 3 or 4 minutes. They tell us that The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman has allowed them to explore 'pop' in a different form. Russell says that the idea of producing a musical radio drama really appealed to them, as in America the radio play is all but dead, which he feels is a travesty. Both Ron and Russell are genuinely grateful to BBC 6 Music for playing the album in its entirety. They say it is something that has to be heard as a whole to understand\appreciate, and doesn't really work when a station says "we'll play track 7 for you". Someone asks if the plays is based on any fact! They reply "well... he did get that award at Cannes"!! The quote of the night though has to be given to Ron. A question from the audience asked the brothers if they were fans of 'musicals' in general, and if so, which ones. After much 'ummming and arrrring' Russell mentions an arty musical whose name escapes me. Ron then says something like "this is going to sound weird coming from Sparks, but I'm not really a fan of 'camp', and I don't really like musicals"!! Not a fan of camp indeed!! It's my lasting memory of the night! Genius!

Throughout the interview, BBC employees were places at regular intervals down the isles to ensure no photographs were taken. I was much too scared to break the rules, but the moment recording finished, I decided to try and snap a crafty one... my reasoning being that they could throw me out now if they wanted as I've seen and heard it all!! The results were a little shaky I'm afraid due to the haste in which they were taken. But for what it's worth, here are the two shots I took:

The show is to be broadcast this Sunday, 8th November on 6 Music between 5.30pm and 8.00pm.


If you are all buzzed up on Sparks with nowhere to go, why not check out some of these Mael related bits and bobs?

My review of the Exotic Creatures Of The Deep and No. 1 In Heaven live show is here complete with exclusive professional photos.

My review of the Propaganda live show here complete with exclusive professional photos.

My review of the Hello Young Lovers live show with exclusive professional photos is here.

Download or listen to the full 22 minute interview that Sparks gave Simon Mayo to promote 21x21 here

See my Introducing Sparks article here, containing exclusive comments from Ron and Russell Mael!

My exclusive interview with ex-Sparks member Martin Gordon is here and here

My interview with indie popsters Silvery is here, and there's plenty of Sparks related chat!

Visit the official Sparks website here

Visit the official Sparks MySpace Page here

Oh, and finally, why no take a look at this fabulous performance of 'Get In The Swing' on Top Of The Pops from 1975.... these boys INVENTED camp!!