portrait of this blog's author - by Stephen Blackman 2008

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Stuff to see in the new year,     pah! another pointless reminder of our inability to count!

My old friend Mike Bristow posts this seasonal gift........

Hero the good Doctor John and an old friend Eric Clapton doing what he does best.....playing the Blues.....I first found I had the blues when I heard this by by Josh White and must have been about 12.......then Big Bill Broonzy, Leadbelly, Mississippi John et al.........

Still missing the good Captain.......here's Orange Claw Hammer on the Radio with Frank Zappa on guitar..............

.........my rain can caught a cup of water

Have fun but..... Hey!
Let's be careful out there................Painless Parker

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I make absolutely NO apologies for stealing this post from the most excellent fellow JohnnyC1959, my visitor from Nepal, fellow blogger and erstwhile musical forum friend. Check this photo out and the quote from Tagore is a beauty...............

Sing the song of the moment…

"The moment..." John Callaway 2011
"The moment..." John Callaway 2011

      “Sing of the fleeting smiles that vanish and never look back;
Sing of the flowers that bloom and fade without regret.
Weave not in memory’s thread the days that would glide into nights.
To the guests that must go bid God-speed, and wipe away all traces of their steps.
Let the moments end in moments with their cargo of fugitive songs…”                                                                    
Want more? Check out John's weblog here 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Swappers Review of the Year 2011

Bah Humbug!

Things we have learnt this year (in sound bite format)………apart from it raining apples in Coventry this year:

Out in The World

Apparently we (I say ‘we’!) have glimpsed a Higgs-Bosun and this has been the purpose of the Hadron Collider particle accelerator (huh?) at a cost of over £6billion and in need of an upgrade “to its luminosity” by 2018. Sort of like Mac Aardvark or Windows 8, I guess.

By-product- The wonderful Professor Brian Cox makes my brain hurt, evidence of a lack of intelligent design if anything was, that we are evolving at totally different rates…

The recession is still in full swing and the banks carry on as before…….we approach the near 3 million mark of unemployed and 1 million of whom are younger folk between 18-25. What troubles me here as there is much comment regarding there being another recession cueing up any second now which frankly is a bit scary as I thought we hadn’t yet seen the back of this current one!

The year was not short of natural disaster with a scale 9 earthquake causing the terrible Japanese tsunami that killed so many and caused the biggest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. And as usual, since 9/11 the horror watched live on the tele inuring us and brutalising us to all such similar loss of life

In August there were riots and looting in London allegedly in response to the shooting of a known gun carrying Londoner. It has been well documented elsewhere but I was minded to recall that said burning and looting killed five people and made many honest hard working folk homeless. As classic an example of shooting oneself in the foot if ever there was one. Way to smash the system you looting thieving murdering morons!

People finally got up the courage to tackle the awful Murdoch empire albeit on a level that doubtless hasn’t lost him THAT much sleep but it’s a start. This saw the joyous closing of the New of The World; specious nasty little bile fuelled venomous rag of the worst yellow journalism. My Grandad liked the NoTW back in the Sixties and my Grandma wouldn’t allow it in the house! Ha ha ha…..mind you is anyone actually surprised that people have been hacking phones? I took it as a given that these venal scum who purport to be journalists would do such stuff I am only surprised its taken so long to tackle it….and then not very well.
Not least that our opticians (best typo of the year Swappers! ED) erm, politicians...ahem, ahem... have been screwing their expenses and US and getting away with it for years – comes as no surprise to me!

Apparently there were two royal weddings about which I can tell you little to nothing. So I’ll make it nothing………tumbleweed rolls across


We discovered the joy that is the Yorkshire band Wilful Missing, Lisa Hannigan we enjoyed and loved her ‘sploshing video’ that featured the new cool rock instrument of choice - the ukelele!
but I have documented my taste on the blog so in terms of the year there really isn’t much to say that this ole fogey thinks of as relevant to 2011 the Pop, Dub, House, RnB charts and popular music generally has finally left me behind…..but there is still enough out there for me to enjoy and get excited about. It may be worth trying to rescue my street cred here to mention that I HAVE quite liked Professor Green and 'Example' and still love that this appals my children!

As for Media and the Box shaped Teat in the corner of the room, we managed to avoid pretty much all the dross LCD television that illuminates the genius idea of turning the camera on the subjects with TOWIES and Desperate Scousewives, talentless oiks in the IACGMOH, Big Brother & the plethora of nightmare ‘entertainments’ from the Simon Cowell shit-factory and not to mention Dancing on Ice, ‘Talent’ competitions and X Fuctor. I can be overheard to say there is nothing on the television anymore but in fact amongst the acres of mindless drivel and dross there peeps the occasional gem I grant you. It’s just such hard work searching for them amongst the detritus.

Mind you we enjoyed Charlie Brooker’s excellent series of dramas Black Mirror and continued to enjoy the Danish factory pumping out The Killings 1 & 2 and the USA version too was an unexpectedly enjoyable re-creation.
We also found and enjoyed The Inbetweeners, Keith Lemon’s Celebrity Juice(!?! ED) and the always excellent Shane Meadows’ This is England ’88 with the brilliant cast of Thomas Turgoose, the excellent Woody played by Joe Gilgun, the mesmerising Vicky McClure the ever reliable Stephen Graham and the beautifully brilliant Rosamund Hanson.

‘The Fades’ I thought was uniformly brilliant – breaking new ground in how to do good sci-fi drama with some astonishing acting from the delightful Daniel Kaluuya (he of Psychoville and to follow in the second of Charlie Brooker’s terrific and occasionally terrifying mini drama serial) and the frankly astonishingly good actor Iain De Caestecker who I found mesmerising, playing alongside the wonderful Johnny Harris (He of ‘Rapey Dad’ fame in Shane Meadows ‘This is England’ who my daughter christened thus and has met him to boot!) The Slap with LaPaglia brother and the ever excellent Sophie Okonedo, I thought was a thought provoking adaptation of the book that caused such heated discussion & debate with astonishing episodes but with occasional mixed results somehow – e.g  the last one ‘Richie’s’ story seemed like so much padding and an afterthought to this viewer.

Comedy has become the new rock ‘n’ roll or so I’m told and we enjoyed loads of funny folk, Lee Mack’s ‘Not Going Out’ with the brilliant Tim Vine and the delicious Sally Bretton and the superb Katy Wix with Miranda Hart as the cleaner!
Him & Her with the brilliant Russell Tovey as ‘Steve’ and scrumptious Sarah Solemani as Becky not forgetting my hero Joe Wilkinson as  the upstairs neighbour. Phone Shop too made me laugh out loud and I have fallen for Emma Fryer as Janine and very much admire the star of it for me Martin Trenaman as the Sutton Store boss who must be out of his comfort zone with the younger cast members! Top fellah! We loved and fell off our chairs to Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle, and still love and endure the world of Karl Pilkington in anything but especially enjoyed his Idiot Abroad if only for the shots of him bathing in the Ganges with a bona fide Guru! We enjoyed Friday Night Dinner and Twenty Twelve with the redoubtable Hugh Bonneville – how versatile is that man?!. We discovered Fresh Meat and laughed a lot…….aaah, that takes me back to Student days and no mistake! Special Mention must go here to all the actors but especially Jack Whitehall.
We enjoyed much stand up not forgetting the broadcast of the excellent biog of the force of nature that was Dan Hicks which I had missed somewhere along the way. We loved Tommy Tiernan, Mickey Flanagan, Sarah Millican, Miles Jupp & Andrew Lawrence, but we discovered new heroes here too – Gary Delaney hit me for six with his greased one-liners…….move over Tim Vine. I remain absolutely spell bound by the unique Milton Jones and would traverse hot coals to see him live…….another force of nature I feel. WE liked the fact so many women are coming through here with the wonderful Andi Osho Holly Walsh Shappi Korsandhi and Ava Vidal. Still sad to see Frankie Boyle out in the cold somewhat after leaving Mock the Week and a disastrous outing into his own vehicle which apart from the stand up parts was stupendously dreadful. Lost his bottle there somehow as the fuss in the red tops was to misunderstand what he is trying to do it seems to me……but hey! He’ll be back I’m sure.

On sadder notes………
Mother & Son - by Amy Swapp 2011

It’s traditional to mention and reflect upon those we have lost in the year and this is difficult for me as it starts and finishes really with the loss of my beloved mother – my pal and confidante and nurturing of all that I have done or become is due to her, including my two wonderful children - nothing funny to say about that at all. 
Well,......except perhaps to mention when last we visited her in hospital with brain cancer and yet curiously serene at times she would look around the ward and reflect by saying “I wonder who pays the electricity bill?” and in a quiet moment when my daughter and I were sat at her bedside she suddenly said   “Oh dear me…………

What a flower I be…………

Two Young men came a courting me
One was blind and the other couldn’t see
Oh dear me, what a Flower I be

She was 89, Ever a Northern lass being born in Manchester and despite living down south for the past 50 years and she was simply wonderful of course. I miss her every day.We also lost a dear dear old friend in John Northcote, a friend of my brothers first but big brother to my old school pal Bill Northcote, we became fast friends with he and his first wife Heather and their children Kirsten & Kian who we are still in touch with. He introduced us to much music through the unique Sunshine records in Oxford and went on to bigger and better things at Virgin, Break For The Border and became CEO at Academy Music Group responsible for The Border, Shepherds Bush Empire and the Brixton Academy as AMG's obituary says "John was one-of-a-kind, an industry professional, an easy-going, all-round good guy, classically handsome, with a kind, caring and unassuming personality." Very true and we will all miss him.

We also lost some great favourites and heroes – Richard Hamilton, Bert Jansch,…………Christopher Hitchens, essayist and raconteur par excellence – he of the quote describing Mother Teresa as a “lying thieving Rumanian dwarf”, Pete Postlethwaite, the tragic Amy Winehouse, unusual for me to list a politician but mention must got the loss of Vaclev Havel if only for naming his change of political system the Velvet Revolution after his passion for The Velvet Underground and who else this year has had heads of state turn up to his funeral with a message from the Pope followed by a Rock Concert?!

Other folk I admired lost this year............
Christopher Logue - poet I admired as a child and since.....
Cesaria ‘Cise’ Evora - the wonderful Cape Verde singer I first found in New York....sounds good huh? It was.......she was......she is!
 ...and if you enjoyed that check this link to here performing the same wonderful song SODADE with a band I love and have posted here before, this in tribute to Cise & KASSAV and their singer Patrick St. Eloi who also has sadly passed away........
Cesaria Evora and Kassav - Sodade
Need a lift? Feeling low? check this......Souk is the medicine for me

Rest in Peace.....
Gerald Laing - artist
Gil Scott Heron - master poet, musician singer and godfather of rap
Edmundo Ross - Trinidadian Band leader
Betty Driver - actress
Margaret Tyzack - actress
Wild Man Fischer - musician
Benny Spellman - musician
Lucien Freud - Britains greatest painter
Cy Twombly - great USA painter
Anna Masey - wonderful actor
Henry Cooper - boxer and thoroughly nice bloke
Poly Styrene - punk singer without peer
Sidney Lumet - film director
Liz Taylor - some actress
Pinetop Perkins - blues pianist
Jet Harris - first hero guitar player
Keith Fordyce - radio broadcaster and presenter of Ready Steady Go and friend to the Beatles
Stanley Owsley - erm, master of LSD
Jane Russell - actress
Clarence Clemmons - master saxophonist and pillar of the Springsteen East Street Band
T. P. McKenna - great actor
Maria Schnieder - beauty from Last Tango
Gerry Rafferty - Singer songwriter

it's been kindly pointed out that I have forgotten a few:
Ken Russell - film maker without equal
Sir Jimmy Saville - without whom....etc etc
David Croft and John Sullivan without whom we wouldn't have laughed quite so much
Boxer Gary Mason
Susanna York
the fine fine actor Michael Gough
Elisabeth Sladen of Dr Who fame - we adored her when young as the sexiest sidekick
comedienne Janet Brown
Peter 'Columbo' Falk
Diane Cilento
Trevor Bannister
George Baker
Joe Frazier
and to those who mentioned Steve Jobs - I didn't list him for a reason and whilst I use an Apple Mac and iPad and various Apple music players and I truly appreciate what he has done for technology, I feel ambivalent about his passing as a person....perhaps now it won't be such a megalomaniacal company......juss saying. Too much ego can be a terrible thing in business........well it's a terrible thing all round.........

plus a couple we didn't mind losing
Murderer Donald Nielsen
Osama Bin Laden
oops. forgot Muammar Gaddafi & Kim Jong Il
murderers all

'On the way' ......taken from the car with my phone going with my Amy to see Mum in hospital in Wantage 2011

still always the rebel.....ahem ahem.........

Thursday, December 22, 2011

North Korean guitar school - bet Manitas De Plata didn't learn this way huh!? 
[or anyone else come to that! ED]

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Swappers’ Winter Hamper 2011
Well here goes for another holiday season special.......if somewhat depleted from previous hampers [there's a recession on but I am trying to make it still packed with vittal warming goodies fer yew!]  this one is not from Fortnum & Mason [it's about the Foie Gras!] but from 
Swappers' Exchange Barter & Swapp Ltd. 
Posted today, some five boots from Bobby, to Norah Jones, Richard Thompson, Half Man Half Biscuit & Lyle Lovett. Many more to come over the next few days from The Small Faces, more Norah, more Bobby, Marianne Faithful, Neil Young ad more surprises too! - so pull up your cracker barrel, pour a glass of Scruttocks Old Dirigible* and a Mrs Miggins' mince pie and settle in for a real treat
.Over here!

* update c/o and in tribute to blog friend and fellow muso par excellence, Dave Seal who spotted the 'not so hidden' reference to Alexei Sayle

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Lost First Album - 
over at Big O

You Can Have My Husband...... a favourite song of mine.....and my wife's!

....with the extraordinary Miss Lou Ann Barton....check the vocal

Now I love me some Stevie Ray and here's a little doozie of a treat fur yew on this Saturday morn....I am recovering (what again? ED) from a stinker of a head cold so haven't yet posted anything new fer yew but this'll do I reckon!?


the usual place.......

....oh, you want some more?.......Here's Little Miss Barton  and Stevie Ray doing Sugar Coated Love....

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Grumpy Old Man corner!

Things we have learned this week:
  • I have ABSOLUTELY no idea who Caroline Flack is nor the 17 year old young man 15 years her junior, she is said to be dating.
  • Apparently Katie 'Jordan' Price (how could I NOT know who she is!) has launched a bid to become a new crime commissioner! Shudders in disbelief!.....
  • I have ABSOLUTELY no idea who Mary Portas is, nor express any interest in her apparent desire to redesign and thus 'save' the 'high street'
  • Some matronly cook has expressed the view that tipping salt caramel all over her head and being photographed for some style mag is not over sexualising food but merely showing "simply rapturous joy in caramel"

  • Lib Dem - Nick Clegg resurfaces and adds some brownie points to his rapidly disappearing profile by expressing that he is really rather angry with the PM's stance for his marginalising the UK in regards to the European community. Coalition? I thought it was just another reactionary right wing Conservative mob........
  • I have ABSOLUTELY no idea who Amy Childs is or whether she is the new Jordan, perhaps she is bidding to become a new Crime Commissioner?
Some recent Tiny Desk concerts from the wonderful NPR!

Marketa Irglova - from November 10th

Lisa Hannigan from October 29th

Wilco from October 17th - Gotta love that bass line in the first track!.....
Seminal songs from earlier times - No 137 in a series

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Album of the Week........                        Emily Barker

emily barker & red clay halo web

Thursday, December 08, 2011

STORNOWAY Play gig for The Gatehouse

Apologies for the late notice, but just to let you know that this Friday, Oxford band  STORNOWAY will be playing a totally unplugged set at St Michael's church on Cornmarket St (the oldest church in Oxford) to raise money for The Gatehouse - Oxford's excellent homeless charity drop-in where I am a project worker.

It is the Pindrop Xmas show, and the bill includes the brilliant Epstein, Matt Gibson, and the Pindrop Choir, singing some carols to get you in the spirit. Which reminds me - all the acts will be playing an obligatory christmas cover song too...can you guess theirs? Here's a clue - potatos and machetes...

Tickets are limited so grab yours from here pronto if you can make it along:
we got tickets - Stornoway gig

All money to The Gatehouse Charity Building fund, ..........................they'll be on early at 8.20pm.

Hope to see you Friday and wrap up warm!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Wilful Missing Album out now!

The Waltz

Great song and a great vid from a great band - I LOVE this album . . . . . . . . . . it's out there, go 'n' get it!. You know it makes sense!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

I don't believe I have ever knowingly posted an item twice and certainly not intentionally but this song haunts me and is well, frankly one of the best songs I have ever heard.........well, that MAY be a bit strong I grant you but you know how it is when a song gets under your skin and stays around in the archive in your head for days and weeks on end? This is such a song. Beautifully played, written and sung, I re-post it here in tribute to a wonderful band who's album 'Molehills Out of Mountains' is due any day now..............
Constitution Failed - Wilful Missing

Lyrics and line-up:

Cover over everything Paper over cracks until it’s fine Fine at least for now Try your best to disappear Convince yourself that we can see See quite far enough As the poles retreat we face defeat head on Kill the light parade the last exploding bomb Feel the Fahrenheit, the last daylight The constitution failed to be, something Confident yet paralysed Terrify the president elect Elected by a thief Take a vow of honesty Promise to eliminate the poor But the poor are voiceless here As the poles retreat we face defeat head on Kill the light parade the last exploding bomb Feel the Fahrenheit, the last daylight The constitution failed to be, something More than I could hope to be Drowning helpless in the sea Carried by a rising tide Need to remedy this life
from Molehills out of Mountains, released 05 December 2011 Sam Kipling (vocals, acoustic guitar) Sam Lawrence (mandolin, vocals) Albert Freeman (bass, vocals) Ruth Viqueira (drums, percussion) Rhys Kelly (organ) Sarah Smout (cello)

check out the links on previous posts if you want to pre-order the album and I highly recommend that you do!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

and again.........

Big O posts an Eno/Byrne classic.............


 Now I have this already and have posted it elsewhere but this is a different recording to the version I have so it's a puzzle at the moment. I have also said elsewhere what a profound influence Eno was on me and especially having come to lecture to us as a visiting lecturer at Leicester Polytechnic (remember those?!) School of Art courtesy of my tutor the truly brilliant British composer, Gavin Bryars.

  The album 'My Life in The Bush of Ghosts) was a revelation to me and a ground breaking experiment in how we make music ( I say 'we'!). It encouraged me to go out and by the book from whence the title comes by Amos Tutuola which frankly is extraordinary. Bonkers to boot! As for the 'Ghosts' boot, here t'is with certain tracks omitted as they have been released since on the re-issue of the official album but get in touch if you want them here for a complete experience. It's truly wonderful to revisit such a seminal piece. Get it over at Big O while its listed. If you've missed it and are reading this after Friday 25th Nov get in touch and will post it elsewhere.......Enjoy!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Big O do it again!


Complete dowload available now!
November 23, 2011 – 4:20 pm

Hamburg 2011 [Crystal Cat 983-84, 2CD]

Live at Stadtpark Freilichtb├╝hne, Hamburg, Germany; June 26, 2011. Very good to excellent audience recording.
Big O says: "This is a companion release to the June 22 Milan show [see previous entry lower down the page] and should appeal to those who enjoyed the Milan show. And the setlist is different enough to warrant at least a listen.
Over at boblinks.com, Brian Steedman commented on the show:
Things Have Changed was magnificent - wonderful vamping voice and great expression and phrasing; the harmonica interludes were very atmospherically deep and ‘Yiddish-sounding’. I Don’t Believe You was a similar, superb treatment - great tender phrasing against a simple strummed backing with long line-ending notes. Beyond Here Lies Nothing drove along with gusto and, by now, we were hearing the crowd repeatedly add little whoops of appreciation at the subtleties of the interplay between band and voice.
Bob’s guitar up in the mix, Charlie was playing solid clever fills against lovely rhythm from Stu and back-bony bass from Tony. To Ramona was a crooners dream in waltz-time, with Bob daring his voice to let him down… it almost didn’t!! Then, Cold Iron’s Bound: the third centre-stage song, and a rocking stop-starting one, with leaping, echoing voice and lovely drumming from George…
I go from place to place dreaming unsuccessfully of a performance of Visions of Johanna and, when it finally came this time I had been so swept along by Highway 61 Revisited that I didn’t see it coming in its uncharacteristic arrangement. I am, of course, so grateful to hear it any way…
This brings me to Ballad of A Thin Man, which was a standout last year and is, if anything, even better now. Bob has got the gestures off well and the nuances he has developed in his singing and harp-playing are quite amazing; the crowd was, in fact amazed!! Like A Rolling Stone was the anthem singalong we all craved after that, and Bob wittily played ‘I bet you can’t keep in time with me’, and we couldn’t…
A GREAT concert… The band has grown, with Stu at last seeming to me to earn his fee and register involvement, Donnie and Charlie playing skilled, subtle, unflashy stuff, George was resonant and Bob drove the tempo with those weird organ licks… The audience was the last band member and rose to the occasion. Small and perfectly formed (apart from those who know who they are in the front row) it was generous and involved on a warm midsummer evening; Bob saw this, said it was good, and gave generously."
Download here.............
Once again, thanks to Lincoln Park Mark for sharing the tracks.

Bob Dylan - vocals, keyboard, electric guitar
Charlie Sexton - lead guitars
Stu Kimball - rhythm guitars
Donnie Herron - pedal steel, violin, electric mandolin
Tony Garnier - bass, stand-up bass
George Recile - drums

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Molehills out of Mountains

will be released on 5th December 2011.   

You can pre-order it now: