Monday, 31 January 2011

The Piley Diary: January 1977

Whilst clearing out an old box of stuff late last year, I came across a diary of mine from the 1970's. I stuck it to one side, and in a shameless rip of Planet Mondo's 'Dear Diary' posts, thought I might blog some of it.

The diary itself is one of those '5 year' jobbies, where you fill in the year manually. I think we'd been doing Samuel Pepys at school around that time, and I'd got all buzzed up on keeping a diary. I guess I dreamt of logging the final years of the seventies, as we went head-first into a brand new decade. I imagined my musings would be studied in years to come as an invaluable historical document of how people lived back then... and with a market shop down the road doing 5 year diaries for 25p (5p a year!), what could possibly go wrong?!

But I think it was a bit of wishful thinking on my part, and far from completing 5 years worth, I didn't get much further than 3 months, and the end of March 1977! the rest of the year (and indeed, the rest of the diary) remains blank.

Also, with the benefit of hindsight, I'm not sure that all of my entries would perhaps have been on a par with 'ol Pepys. Although riveting, I can see now that a book documenting that "mum bought 2 subbuteo floodlights", "I went to Southend, I got Roy of the Rovers" and "Arsenal won 3-1- yesterday" may not have set the literary world on fire.

Still, on the plus side, I do know what I was doing this very day 34 years ago (and oddly, 1977 works the same as 2011, so the 31st of Jan was a Monday too)... yes, I can confirm we had art with Mr Jones, and I watched Batman when I got home. Nuggets like that would be lost if it weren't for the likes of me and Pepys.

I've scanned in a few of the entries. More next month (maybe!)


UPDATE: Have just discovered that this was almost certainly the issue of Roy of the Rovers that I bought on 1st Jan 1977!

John Barry

I'm sure the blogs are filled with John Barry tributes, so I'll keep it brief....

Just to say that I have always admired this mans music, sometimes not even knowing it was his work. As a kid I bought all the James Bond soundtrack LPs. Unlike many other 'music from the movie' albums, which can often sound a bit lost minus the pictures, the Bond albums still sounded exciting, magical and exotic, and still do. He created striking and memorable music for so many great films; Zulu, Ipcress File, Born Free, Midnight Cowboy, and who could forget his contribution to Howard the Duck! (yeah, we all have one or two jobs we'd rather not talk about!)

My favourite TV theme has always been The Persuaders, and every time I hear it, it instantly transports me back to my childhood, and watching that programme on a Sunday afternoon.

A friend of mine bought the above album in the 1980's, and I fell in love with it. As a DJ he was known to play a whole side back-to-back (sometimes the whole album!) whilst people were filing in early doors. A bold move, but one that always seem to inject atmosphere into the club before it had even got going. It took me ages to track down a copy of that album, and I think I paid a little over the odds for it, when I eventually found it. But whatever it cost, it was worth it, and some 25 years on, this album is still one of my vinyl LPs that gets a regular airing.

Back in May last year, our man on the inside of film, Stephen Pickard, sent me a few photos from his private collection. Amongst them was a shot of John Barry during the recording of the 'Diamonds Are Forever' soundtrack, which I used in the post about Stephen's years at Pinewood (Stephen can be seen in the background of the picture). Stephen kindly sent me 3 shots from this recording session, but I didn't use the other 2. So here are all three of them now.
Persuaders TV Theme:

Friday, 21 January 2011

Podrophenia - Show 12... Local Heroes

Mondo and I are back with our first Podrophenia podcast of 2011. The theme for this show is one we have talked about for a while... 'Local Heroes'. We got the map out, scrawled a 5 mile radius around Piley Towers and Mondo Manor using a blunt compus, and then pulled 10 tracks out from the selected area.

As well as the songs there's the usual old waffle, where amongst other things you can find out which celeb's brother (who in turn looks like another celeb!) runs a local shop, the confessions of a door-to-door video rental man, which celeb Mondo used to live next door to, and more....

You can listen to it here:

download it here:
Podrophenia 12

or pick it up at iTunes here:
Podrophenia on iTunes

Thursday, 13 January 2011

The Best of 2010

My 4th January in the blog-o-sphere, and my 4th go at trying to capture some of my favourite albums of the previous year.

At the end of 2009, 'the lads' (Mondo, Marmite, The Brownster, E.F Rice, Coops, Jack, Si and myself) started up a yuletide CD swap. We all burnt a disc of our favourite tracks from the previous 12 months, made enough copies for everyone, then met down the pub (I knew there was an ulterior motive) to hand 'em out. Hey Presto, within 5 minutes, we all had about 10 hours of new listening treats. It went so well with out 'best of 2009' event, that we decided to have another go for 2010. Here are the very strict rules for the swap, as decreed by E.F Rice:

1. Create a CD containing tracks from albums bought during 2010. This can be artists you have got into for the first time during the year or established artists of whom you have picked up an old track or album. Whichever, you must have purchased all the tracks in the last 12 months.

2. You may have more than one track of the same artist on the CD, although 80 mins of Springsteen would be pushing it.

3. You supply all those taking part with a CD including a full track listing. The CDs will be circulated in November\December down the pub

So rather than plough through my favourite albums of the year blow-by-blow, as I have in previous years, here's the 20 tracks that made my 'Best of 2010'... which by default, mean you can also work out my favourite albums!

So without further ado, here they are:

1. Jiggery Pokery – by The Duckworth Lewis Method
From the album ‘The Duckworth Lewis Method’ (released July 2009, bought 2010)
A concept album about cricket, described by the band as "a kaleidoscopic musical adventure through the beautiful and rather silly world of cricket." The album was nominated for an Ivor Novello award (for best album) in April 2010. Quite possibly the album that gave the most pleasure last year.

2. Variety – by Marc Almond
From the album ‘Varieté’ (released June 2010)
Marc Almond revisits the cabaret sleaze of earlier albums in this his final ‘all self penned’ album. It’s a celebration of nostalgia and a stock-take of his life to date, jam packed with personal experiences throughout the years. As Marc said himself on the release of this album “This is a personal record of my own life and the decades I’ve grown through: born in the 1950's, a child of the 60's, a troubled teen of the 70's, a star of the 80's, a drug casualty of the 90's, an actual road casualty in the new millennium, and from it a rehabilitated and re-invented person, with a new sense of self.”

3. Going Back Home – by Doctor Feelgood
From the album ‘Going Back Home’ (released January 2005, bought 2010)
One of best value purchases all year, a CD & DVD package of the Feelgoods performing live at The Kursaal, Southend - November 8th 1975 (£6.99!). Both discs bursting with energy, capturing the band at the height of their pre-punk power.

4. Ghost – by Slash (featuring Ian Astbury on vocals)
From the album ‘Slash’ (released May 2010)
Debut solo album by the former Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver guitarist. The album features multiple singers and musicians, including four of five original members of Guns N' Roses: Slash, Izzy Stradlin, Duff McKagan and Steven Adler. Some tracks are better than others, but this one is a belter.

5. Beneath The Underdog – By Baxter Dury
From the album ‘Len Parrot’s Memorial Lift’ (released July 2002, bought 2010)
Debut album from son of Ian (who was on the cover of New Boots And Panties with his dad aged 4!). Blockhead Norman Watt Roy makes an appearance on the album, but that’s where the similarities with his old man cease. Think less chirpy Cockney ‘barra-boy’, and more Flaming Lips, Spiritualized, Lou Reed and Mercury Rev.

6. The Finer Things In Life – by Pugwash
From the album ‘Almond Tea’ (released 1999, bought 2010)
Debut album from this Irish power-pop band fronted by Thomas Walsh (who is one half of The Duckworth Lewis Method). The band signed a five-year deal with Andy (XTC) Partridge's label Ape House last year. Pugwash songs are noted for their emphasis on catchy melodies, clever lyrics and high production values. Influences on the band's sound are regularly cited as including XTC, ELO, Beach Boys, Kinks and Beatles.

7. The Complete Banker – By The Divine Comedy
From the album ‘Bang Goes The Knighthood’ (released May 2010)
10th studio album for Neil Hannon (who is also the other half of The Duckworth Lewis Method), and for me, right up there with some of his best. Solid throughout, it’s full of his trademark wit, and contains another batch of intelligent, insanely catchy tunes. This song is aimed at the reckless behavior of the banking industry that caused the global meltdown. Even if you don’t like the song, you’ll love the lyrics!

8. Valentine – By Richard Hawley
From the album ‘Lady’s Bridge’ (released August 2007, bought 2010)
Like a Northern Scott Walker or Roy Orbison, ex-Longpigs and ex-Pulp man Richard Hawley croons his way through this melancholy album. Much like Marc Almond, he lives in a ‘doom and gloom’ world, where every silver lining is closely followed by a cloud. Just my cup of tea!

9. Fingerprints – by I Am Kloot
From the album ‘Sky At Night’ (released July 2010)
Fifth album from I Am Kloot (produced by Elbow duo Craig Potter and Guy Garvey), and possibly their best to date. The single ‘Northern Skies’ was all over Radio 2, and rightly so. Part Elbow, part Richard Hawley, even part ELO in places (well, some of the orchestrated bits). But always 100% Kloot.

10. Anyway, Goodbye – by Andy Ellison
From the EP ‘Fourplay’ (released 2008, bought 2010)
A rare new offering from the legendary ex-frontman of John's Children, Jet, and The Radio Stars. This EP contains 4 new songs, written, recorded and produced by Ellison. Probably should have put the track Cluster Bombs on this CD!

11. Light My Fire – by The Doors
From the album ‘The Doors’ (originally released 1967, this release 2007, bought 2010)
This 40th Anniversary release presents the Doors debut album at the correct speed for the very first time. The speed discrepancy was identified after a study showed that all the video and audio live performances of The Doors performing "Light My Fire" (as well as the sheet music) show the song being in a key almost a full half step higher than the original LP release.

12. Two Halves Of The Same Boy – Silvery
From the album ‘Railway Architecture’ (released August 2010)
Second album from Silvery providing more of their trademark quirky madness. Sparks, early Blur, Cardiacs, XTC, Kaiser Chiefs are all in there somewhere!

13. Strange Things – by Tom Jones
From the album Praise and Blame (released July 2010)
It’s back to basics for Sir Tomo and his collection of gospel and blues songs. Comparisons to the Rick Rubin Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond albums are understandable as there are more than a hint of the American Recordings in the song choices and vocal performances. Was going to pick one of the gloomier tracks, but went for a barnstormer instead!

14. Bread and Circus – by Marc Almond
From the album ‘Varieté’ by Marc Almond (released June 2010)
(see 2 above)

15. The Sweet Spot – by The Duckworth Lewis Method
From the album ‘The Duckworth Lewis Method’ (released July 2009, bought 2010)
(see 1 above)

16. Fungus Hedge – by Baxter Dury
From the album ‘Len Parrot’s Memorial Lift’ (released July 2002, bought 2010)
(see 5 above)

17. Darkness Makes Us Blind – by Pugwash
From the album ‘Almond Tea’ (released 1999, bought 2010)
(see 6 above)

18. Down In The Street Below – by The Divine Comedy
From the album ‘Bang Goes The Knighthood’ (released May 2010)
(see 7 above)

19. We're Gonna Change The World – by Matt Monro
From the album The Complete Singles Collection: Remastered’ (released January 2010)

Shirley Wood was dragged still sitting
By a policeman from the road
Margaret Beatty had her face slapped
By a man she tried to goad

Ah, they don’t write em like that anymore! The lyrics are quite at odds with this jolly tune, taken from an incredible 5 disc box set that does exactly what it says on the tin… a complete collection of both "A" and "B" sides of every single Monro ever released. From Decca in 1956 to Philips/Fontana in 1958 and finally to EMI Parlophone from 1960 onwards. I’ve had this particular song in the collection for years, but having re-read the small print of the rules, I’m confident that this is a legit inclusion!

20. La Boheme (Le Bohème) – by Charles Aznavour
From the album ‘Le Bohème’ (released 1966, bought 2010)
Inspired by Puccini’s opera of the same name, this is one of Aznavour’s most famous songs. Originally recorded in French, Aznavour subsequently re-recorded versions in English, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and German (don’t worry, this is the English version!)


Sunday, 9 January 2011

You've GOT To Be Joking?!

I've always put that saying "as soon as Christmas is over, it'll be Easter eggs in the shops" down as just something that people say as a laugh (although I've never found it particularly funny). But I took this picture on the 2nd OF JANUARY!!! I had to do a double-take, but no, there it was. I mean another load of chocolate a week after Christmas is going to be as welcome as a dog at a game of skittles...

Note the display has been completely unbothered by a single punter!


Sunday, 2 January 2011

The Word of 2010

I've already seen a number of lists highlighting the year that was 2010.... best\worst films, best albums, best TV show etc etc. But over the last few days I've been thinking about the 'word' of 2010. "You've too much time on your hands Piley" I hear you cry, but I didn't spent that long on it... honest!

So what's the rules then?? Well it could be a buzz word that became popular during the year, a cultural reference that was high on the agenda... an event, TV show or maybe even a heavy hitting celeb. But whatever it is, it has to be a word that you associate with 2010.

Consolation prizes must go to near misses such as 'Credit Crunch', 'Coalition', 'the Big Society' 'Recession', 'tuition fees', 'spending cuts', 'X-Factor', 'Twitter', 'Facebook' and the dreaded 'Iconic'. All very dominant throughout the year, but all in wide use prior to 2010, so you couldn't really attribute them exclusively to the last 12 months. 'Election' was obviously another big word, but then it was a big word 4 years ago, and 4 years before that etc etc...

A Bronze medal goes to 'Con-Dem', a play on words dreampt up by the media for our new Government. But alas I don't think we've heard the last of that one.

It's a photo finish for the top spot, and just pipped at the post for a well earned silver is a word that has always been sitting there in the dictionary, but has been lying dormant for more than half a century....


Other than in historic terms, I don't think I'd ever heard this word used. It was picked up mid-year, and now I don't think a day goes by without hearing it (especially where I work).

But my Gold medal is an easy award. A word I'd never heard of before 2010, and with any luck, a word I'll not be hearing again! (and believe me, I REALLY don't want to be 'hearing' this word ever again!). So chances are that 2010 was 'the' year for it. So without further ado, the coveted 'Start The Revolution Without Me - Word of 2010' award goes to....

The Vuvuzela!

Before I go, I must just relay a story from good friend Jack. He and some pals went to the World Cup last year, and took in a number of games. On the first game they went to, it was getting close to kick off when it started spitting with rain. The collars of the coats went up a bit, and it was on and off for the rest of the game. Shame. At the next game, incredibly, the same thing happened again, just as it was getting close to kick off, it started to rain. Then someone twigged it.... they turned round and saw 80,000 vuvuzelas pointing down at them! yuk!

Anyone got any more words of 2010 to add?

Happy New Year!