Archive for Music

On old cover art

Classic country music cover art

Classic country music cover art

I do a stint of volunteering in a local charity shop, and my (enviable) role is to filter all the music and video donations. When we get vinyl donated, it’s usually in the hundreds, as people ditch their entire collections. And so it was today. As I waded through the Geoff Love & His Orchestra and Max Bygraves, I came across this stunner of a cover. I have to say that I don’t believe I’ve EVER come across an album cover with a photo of an old redneck playing pocket billiards before.

They just don’t make them like this any more, do they?

The point of no return?

The Ultimate Matt Monro CD

The Ultimate Matt Monro CD

I have just ordered a Matt Monro compilation CD. Now, that’s a sentence I never thought I’d type. This may mean any one (or more) of several possibilities:

a) I’ve finally grown up and acknowledged that good music may actually exist within the realm of what I previously considered schmaltz (me being dead hip and all).

b) I have finally given up and acknowledged that I am getting old (I’m 62 you know!).

c) I’ve secretly thought, for many years, that Matt Monro was a damned fine singer, and that I’m just coming out of the closet, so to speak. (I actually prefer Matt’s voice to the vastly over-rated Frank Sinatra’s.)

d) I’ve finally lost the plot altogether, and when this CD hits the player for the first time, I’ll never be able to listen to my previous material in the same way, ever again.

I think that a) and c) are closest to what I’d like to think, but b) and d) can’t be dismissed completely. I’ve been hearing lots of that kind of material recently and finding much to like about it. “When I Fall In Love” by Nat King Cole, for example, is a wonderful song. “Moon River”, likewise.

Has anyone else here got similar guilty secrets?

Gig review – The Waterboys, Venue Cymru, Sunday 29/11/15

The Waterboys logoHaving seen The Waterboys several times in the last three or four years, I had a reasonable idea of what to expect. What I expected was a rousing performance, with passion and virtuosity wrapped around leader Mike Scott’s strong songs. They are one of those bands that, for me anyway, are always best appreciated in performance, rather than on the stereo in the living room. And in all of these respects, it was the case last night.

Scott’s current band has a very strong line-up – Zach Ernst on lead guitar, Muscle Shoals sessions bass player David Hood, “Brother” Paul Brown on keyboards, with stalwarts Ralph Salmins on drums and Steve Wickham on fiddle. They all gelled extremely well, and it was obvious that they were massively enjoying playing together.

The set lasted about an hour and 45 minutes, and consisted of a fairly even mixture of old and new material, with number of songs from their new album, “Modern Blues”. with “Rosalind (You Married The Wrong Guy)” being particularly memorable. But it’s unfair to single one song out of such a strong set. The only oddity was a cover, played straight, of Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven” – good enough, but a little out of keeping with the rest of the songs.

The only disappointment was that the support act, Jarrod Dickenson, pulled out of the gig due to illness – hopefully not serious. Having to wait around for the hour between the start of the support slot and the scheduled time for The Waterboys could have been more productively spent, but it passed eventually, and the gig ended up being well worth the wait.

There are still several dates left on the current UK leg of The Waterboys tour, so if you get a chance to go, I recommend it – you won’t be disappointed.

Set list:

Destinies Entwined
Still a Freak
A Girl Called Johnny
We Will Not Be Lovers
Nearest Thing to Hip
Rosalind (You Married the Wrong Guy)
Medicine Bow
Glastonbury Song
Roll Over Beethoven
Song of Wandering Aengus
Wonders of Lewis
The Return of Jimi Hendrix
Don’t Bang the Drum (Mike Scott & Steve Wickham duo)
The Whole of the Moon
Long Strange Golden Road


How Long Will I Love You?
Fisherman’s Blues

Keep an eye out for these “free” CDs, music fans

Tubular Bells - Tubular Bells - free CD from The Daily Mail

Free Tubular Bells CD from The Daily Mail

They don’t seem to be so common now, but just a few years ago, newspapers were falling over themselves to give away free CDs. Most of them were compilations, built around either decades or genres, or sometimes both – “Soul Hits of the 60s”, that kind of thing. The duplication of the mostly cheesy songs between these CDs was huge, and as there were literally hundreds of the blessed things, you could end up with the same tracks many times over, destined never to be listened to.

Occasionally, though, they’d give away proper albums or EPs by single artists or bands. And not just dreck, either – some of them were absolute classics. Some of the ones that I know of are listed below, but if you didn’t know about them, and they’d somehow managed to pass you by unnoticed, all is not lost. They often turn up in charity shops – I volunteer in one, and my role is to sort out the donations of music and video. (I know – dirty work, but someone has to do it…)

I have about forty of them and they form a significant part of my music collection. Some of the best of the ones that I have come across include:

  • “Tubular Bells” – Mike Oldfield
  • “Strange Days” – The Doors
  • “Oxygene” – Jean-Michel Jarre
  • “iSelect” – David Bowie
  • A Roxy Music Greatest Hits collection
  • Peter Gabriel – this one is particularly wonderful
  • Crosby, Stills and Nash
  • Carly Simon
  • Art Garfunkel – at least two different ones
  • “Live in Los Angeles” and “Memory Almost Full” – Paul McCartney
  • Elton John – a double CD set of Elton John’s legendary covers from early in his career
  • The Everly Brothers – a double CD set of their hits
  • John Lennon
  • plus many, many more by artists such as Pet Shop Boys, Ray Davies, Madness, Simple Minds, Paul Weller, Dusty Springfield, Simply Red, Badly Drawn Boy, David Gray, Tina Turner, Tom Jones, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye – the list goes on and on. But this far from an exhaustive list.

Just pop into the charity shops in your area and have a look. You may just be in luck! Most charity shops charge a pittance for these CDs; as they were give-aways to start with, many charity shops don’t “charge” for them, but ask for a donation instead.

The nice thing about buying them this way is that, as most of them were given away by some of the crappier newspapers, you don’t have to actually buy the papers that gave them away. It is slightly disappointing that it was the rags that tended to issue them.

You can find fairly exhaustive lists of these CDs at – just search for the name of the newspaper, and the list of releases will be shown under a “pseudo-label”. Here, for example, is the Daily Mail’s list of releases at

There were many, if not more, full-movie DVDs given away. I’ll post about this sometime soon.


Love this music…

And, absolutely apropos of nothing whatsoever, here’s “Outro” by M83, from the album “Hurry Up, we’re Dreaming”. It makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.


After many years of attending live music events, I’ve learned to expect, if not wholeheartedly embrace, the fact that people like to sing along to their favourite choons by their heroes. Call me perverse, but I actually prefer to listen to the artiste whom I’ve paid good money to see perform the piece, rather than have a tone-deaf fanboy bellow it down my ear by way of a duet.

Complaining to such tribute acts has, on a couple of occasions, led to regrettably unpleasant exchanges, although, in my defence, I have always tried to voice my objections politely. The trouble is, ignorant people behave according to type, and don’t always take kindly to being asked to tone it down a bit. (On one occasion, I was even threatened with being bottled in the face for my trouble, despite it not being me who’d complained!)

Today saw a new nadir, however. It was the last session at the Wirral Folk Festival, and the performer was Joe Topping, of Elbow Jane. Now, Elbow Jane have a fair following, but I suspect that no-one in the audience was over-familiar with the solo work of one of its members. Nonetheless, the man behind me, who was old enough to know better, actually started trying to whistle along to tunes that I’m fairly certain that he had no prior knowledge of. What he was whistling bore very little relationship to the sound emanating from Mr. Topping.

On this occasion, I did my best to ignore it. To be fair, he wasn’t whistling loudly, and he eventually gave up. Just as well, really, as I didn’t want any unpleasantness. I do wish, though, that people could just ask themselves whether others are likely to prefer their version of a song, or the original artiste’s before chiming in.