Sunday 28 February 2010
Sunday 21 February 2010
The outrageous sizes of some of the professional 'catering' packets and containers never ceases to amaze (and amuse) me. I'm easily pleased, and there's nothing quite like a 5 litre jar of seafood sauce or English mustard to make me snigger... Check out these 10 litre (yes, TEN!) tubs of mayonnaise for example! These tubs are the same ones that professional painters and decorators buy of magnolia! I'd love to have one in the cupboard (with a teaspoon inside), just waiting for the day someone asks for a dollop of dressing on the side...
PS - sorry for the poor quality pictures, I only had my mobile phone with me...
Friday 19 February 2010
a) I had other posts on the go at the time, or
b) I couldn't quite be arsed!
Having now left it too long, much of the detail has now drifted away from my decaying noggin, leaving me with just a general overview of the event - but I'd like to log a few of 'em for posterity, and the delay might give a different slant on my usual style of review... So I'm going to try and drop a few of them in over the next few weeks. I'll start with the oldest one...
Hugh Cornwell Live at Basfest, 4th July 2009
I'll level with you, Basfest is no Glastonbury... hell, it's not even a Reading a Latitude or Guilfest. There is less of the on-site new age hippery and chilled atmosphere you have come to expect, and more undertones of violence and an unhealthy array of sexually transmitted disease tents (I actually did send a text to a mate saying "meet you by the chlamydia stall"). But Basfest is free, and very occasionally they will book an act worth turning out for. In 2008 we popped along to see the Bootleg Beatles (I didn't blog that one either!), which was officially Piley Jr's first ever gig. Basfest 2009 had the usual dire line up of tribute acts and talent show losers, but completely out of character with the rest of the acts was Mr Cornwell.
For all its faults, Basfest is very well run. Not interested in anything other than this one act we arrived around 5.15pm, drove straight on site and was directed by a helpful steward to a (free) parking space very close to the entrance. By the time we'd walked in a found a spot to sit it was about 5.40, and Hugh walked on 5 minutes later! Perfect!
What wasn't perfect though was the steady drift of people disappearing from the site from the moment he came on. Y'see 'ol Hugh has done it all wrong... He couldn't be bothered to apply for the X-Factor or some other reality TV show, and to me (and hundreds of other Basildon-ites by the looks of it) this shows his lack of ambition and lazy tendencies. Instead he took the easy route and cut corners via a 30+ year solid gold career consisting of no less that 26 album releases (incredibly 16 of those from his solo career). If you're not a singing dustman or a bunch of page 3 'stunnas' turned girlband, then frankly, Basildon is going to give you short thrift.
The exodus continued at an alarming rate, and after 3 songs I thought I'd try my luck at getting nearer to the stage to take some photos... and on doing so I walked straight to the barrier at the front of the stage! Scandalous! But those bare-chested red-faced locals heading for the kebab shop missed a real treat, as I have to say this performance was blinding. What a great performer Hugh Cornwell continues to be. His vocals and guitar playing were amazing and his between song banter was spot on. oh and the songs wern't bad either! Close your eyes and it could have been a 1977 Hugh up there... come to think of it, open your eyes (maybe squint just a little!) and it could have been a 1977 Hugh up there... The man can't have put an ounce on in the last 30 years. He's also been canny enough to build a rockin little outfit to support him. Caz Campbell (bass), and Chris Bell (drums) provide a powerful garage noise to complete the sound.
This was by no means a 'cashing in on the past' set either. Sure there were plenty of Stranglers classics on display, but there was just as much new material too. And I have to say the new songs were great. You could really see that Hugh believes in his latest work, as the intensity and passion of the performance of these tracks was very evident. He seemed genuinely excited about what he was doing.
I expected to come away from this gig pleased to have heard some classic Stranglers tunes... I did that, but my lasting memory was actually that I'd seen an artist with some bloody great new material. On returning home I fired up his official website and downloaded his new album (Hooverdam) for free, just as he had told us we could (and you can STILL get it for free there now). It may well have been free, but believe it or not this album is up there with some of the best of his career work.
So, not as good as Jedward or Olly Murs obviously, but if he sticks at it, I think Hugh Cornwell could make a go of this lark...
PS - since this gig took place I've read the excellent book "77 Sulphate Strip" by Barry Cain. The extensive 2007 interview with Hugh therein was a joy to read, and he comes over as a genuinely nice guy who remains every bit as passionate about his music as ever.
If you fancy listening to Hoverdam for yourself, why not pop over to the Official Hugh Cornwell Website, where you can download it for free.
Thursday 11 February 2010
The Edwardian Southend Hippodrome on Southchurch Road was built by Bertie Crew and opened on the 8th of November 1909. It was built on four levels and the capacity of the theatre at that time was 1750. For a number of years, The Hippodrome was thought of as the best theatre in town, and attracted some of the biggest variety stars of the time including Flanagan and Allen, George Robey and Gracie Fields. Performances were twice nightly (6.50pm and 9.00pm) and admission prices were 3d, 6d, 9d, 1' and 1'6. Boxes were 10'6 and 15'.
Thursday 4 February 2010
At the back end of 2009 I picked up the completed CD's, and I must admit that I was a little nervous when I finally came to play them.... The results were not quite what we were expecting, and it turned out a little bit 'good news\bad news'.... but boy, was the 'good news' part a shock! (for me anyway).
When we were told that there were two and a half hours of recordings on the two tapes, we naturally assumed that it would be two and a half hours of my uncles... sadly, it wasn't. There were family recordings of children reciting nursery rhymes, another family member playing the electric organ, and lots of random shows recorded off the radio... comedy programmes, chart rundowns etc etc All very interesting in its own way, but not quite what I was expecting! After over an hour there was no "Mick and Don". It suddenly dawned on us that perhaps these tapes once had them on, but were subsequently recorded over, leaving only a sticker on the box as a reminder of what they once contained.
Since obtaining this recording, I've been busy creating CD's of the whole show for the family. This episode has also resulted in me hooking up with long lost cousin Mark (Don's son). Apparently we had met once before when we were nippers (and my father has the photographic evidence to prove it!), but neither of us remembers it. So it was an absolute pleasure to finally meet Mark and his family, and I look forward to keeping in good contact with them from now on.
Well, there you have it! Not at all what we were expecting, but at the same time, far exceeding what we dared hope for. It was perhaps initially a little disappointing to only get two songs out of all that tape, but not in my wildest dreams did I expect to find a live broadcast of my uncles performing on national BBC radio!! Mondo summed it up brilliantly when I told him the news later that day... he said discovering an hour or two of home recordings would have been nice, but ultimately, may not have been something you would perhaps play over and over. However what we actually uncovered may well have been the highlight of their career, and it's now safely preserved in the family vaults at Piley Towers.
Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen:
My Uncle Alan too managed to locate a 78RPM recording of The Essex Brothers, containing the songs 'Takes a Worried Man', 'That'll be the Day' and another recording of 'Running Away'.
Wednesday 3 February 2010
This is the joy of TalkTalk I'm afraid. You know that old adage about "you get what you pay for"? Well never was that more appropriate.
This continual dropping of service is something I've had to accept (at least until my 18 months is up and I can escape), and often an evening is rendered a 'no net' night. But this is by far the worst bout, and incredibly frustrating. I've had a post pretty much ready to go since Saturday, but can't stay connected long enough to upload the pics etc.
Watch this space....