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

Friday, December 26, 2014

Bob sings Aznavour! 


found this a wandering round the t'interweb 
 Lovely song and it seemed timely and apposite
Watch more Bob Dylan videos on Frequency

Here's to 2015

The Times We've Known
(Charles Aznavour)

The times we've known are slipping by
Like vapour trails across the sky
The best of times, the worst of times
Have come and gone

The years of debt, the years of doubt
the years of 'what's it all about?'
Of holding fast, and holding out
And holding on

When life was hard and chances few
Still I was rich just having you
Though people said we won't go far
We went ahead and here we are

Together still through everything
Together still remembering
The times we've known

Sometimes the years were lush and green
Sometimes we lived on hope alone
A little bit of both have been
The times we've known

Some lucky flings, some rotten breaks
Some funny things, a few mistakes
The dreams that every dreamer takes
And makes his own

The time to laugh, a time to cry
A time to let the world go by
And if there were some tears to pay
No one can take those years away

On fragile wings our days have flown
Still we have things to call our own
The times we've known
The times we've known
The times we've known

Boxing Day 2014

(the Feast of St. Stephen)

The 26th of December is know in Britain as the Feast of St. Stephen, supposedly in honour of the first Christian martyr (allegedly killed in 34 A.D.).
In England this date is called Boxing Day, with offerings for the poor collected in church boxes. Gratuities are given to employees who would receive a Christmas Box or present (usually a small bonus in the wage packet) the postman or gardener or cleaning lady for their services for the previous year for the middle and upper classess.
One of my favourite Wintertime songs

 'Feast of Stephen' - Mike Heron

In Ireland it is Wren Day and "wren-boys" go from house to house, carrying a holly bush adorned with ribbons and figures of birds, and singing: 

"The wren, the wren, the king of all birds
St. Stephen's Day was caught in the furze
Although he is little, his family's great
I pray you, good landlady, give us a treat."
Wren - Andy Swapp 2012

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

 Joe Cocker  1944 - 2014

I have been reading that quite a few people, rightly perhaps, have been bemoaning the fact that in the soliloquy's to Joe Cocker's untimely passing from cancer this week journos are only really mentioning 'With a Little Help From my Friends' and quoting Ringo or Paul McCartney.
I realised this morning that I understand this and have been guilty myself saying what about his Dylan covers and looking at his back catalogue with affection and many many happy memories. ('Dear Landlord' is a personal favourite but then so are 'Feelin' Alright', 'Hitchcock Railway', 'Delta Lady' and 'The Letter' amongst many many others) Yet there is a reason that people keep mentioning this wonderful song and this below may go some way to help explain why. Joe was unique and burst upon the musical psyche of the era like a comet, that strange wonderment of a creature, who, those of us who 'got it', took immediately to our bosoms and loved within seconds of hearing this extraordinary force of nature
Here's why . . . . .
Joe Cocker and The Grease Band

'With a Little Help From My Friends' - "How it Is" 1968

R.I.P. Joe Cocker 1944 - 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

T'was the Night Before Christmas

Season's Doobries and A Happy Thingummy!

Leon Redbone & Dr John - Frosty The Snowman

Bob Dylan
The Little Drummer Boy

Bob - T'was The Night Before Christmas
from Theme Time Radio Hour 2006

Monday, December 22, 2014

Wishing you all Wintry Seasonal Wassnames

Kate Rusby
'Fare Thee Well' Hootenanny with Jools Holland

Kate Rusby
The Wild Goose 

Kate Rusby - Christmas Tour

Kate Rusby - Here We Come A'Wassailing

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet) 

Jan 15 1941 - Dec 17 2010

Thursday, December 04, 2014

IAN McLAGAN R.I.P. 1945-2014

Photo by  Mark Sullivan/WireImage
It is with great sadness that we note the passing of another rock and roll icon Ian McLagan. Ian was a member of The Small Faces and The Faces and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. He died today, December 3, 2014, surrounded by family and friends in his adopted hometown of Austin, TX, due to complications from a stroke suffered the previous day. He was 69 years old… Ian’s bandmate in Small Faces and Faces, Kenny Jones, said: “I am completely devastated by this shocking news and I know this goes for Ronnie and Rod also.” - Ian McLagan.com

Itchycoo Park - The Small Faces

Lazy Sunday Afternoon - The Small Faces

Tin Soldier - Small Faces (Wth P.P.Arnold)
Happy Days Toy Town - The Small Faces (with Sir Stanley Unwin)

Sad to note that with Stevie gone and Ron too now with this the passing of Mac there is only Kenny left of the orginal line up of the Small Faces
R.I.P Mac

+ + + + +

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

BOBBY KEYS R.I.P. 1943-2014

The legendary American saxophonist Bobby Keys, who for years toured and recorded with the Rolling Stones, has died of cirrhosis at his home in Franklin, Tennessee on December 2, 2014. He was 70. This report in from Big O
"The Rolling Stones are devastated by the loss of their very dear friend and legendary saxophone player, Bobby Keys," the band said on Twitter. Keith Richards paid tribute to Keys on the Rolling Stones' Facebook page. "I have lost the largest pal in the world and I can't express the sense of sadness I feel although Bobby would tell me to cheer up," the post attributed to Richards reads. "My condolences to all that knew him and his love of music." News of Keys' death came about a month and a half after the band said he would miss the Stones' Australian and New Zealand tour dates because he was "under doctor's orders to take it a bit easy for the next month." Apart from the Stones, Keys also played on albums by The Who, Eric Clapton, Carly Simon, John Lennon, Joe Cocker and Jim Carroll, among others.
"Be sure to check out Keys' autobiography "Every Night's Saturday Night" which is a great read. Keys was born on the same day as Keith Richards and got his start playing with the likes of Buddy Holly and Bobby Vee, graduating to Joe Cocker's band before catching on with the Stones when the band was in their prime. He was arguably the most besotted individual on those early 70's Stones tours, and that's really saying something." He would still always turn out for that incredible solo on Brown Sugar whenever the Stones graced the stage and asked him for a blast (see below) - this from fellow blogger outlaw blues

The Rolling Stones and Bobby Keys 'Brown Sugar'
Remember him this way!

Lovely tribute here . . "Can't You Hear Hear Me Knocking"

R.I.P. Bobby Keys

Saturday, November 22, 2014

stencil from Free Art Friday St. Petersburg

R.I.P. Mike Nichols

Obituary from The Guardian

Director of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Catch 22, Carnal Knowledge, The Birdcage (with Robin Williams) my favourite Werewolf film with Jack Nicholson in 'Wolf' …. and of course The Graduate -  several classic and favourite films. He also drected for the stage "Barefoot in the Park," ''The Odd Couple," ''Plaza Suite" and "The Prisoner of Second Avenue" and not forgetting 'Spamalot'!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014



Of course one of the snags of not watching a film when it comes out but waiting for it's release to TV is that one misses the collective hullabaloo and fuss about it's release but this past weekend I watched Warhorse (2011) for the first time and there are a number of things I should add before getting to the grist for this particular mill. I am in awe not to say phobic of horses and I was in awe of my grandfather also, though not phobic about him (!) who was with the RFA in the First World War, a ‘driver’ in fact, so in charge of the horses. It I s this fact that caused me to want to watch it. I am also mindful that the terrestrial TV companies have shown Warhorse in the 100th anniversary year of the Great War, you know the one they called the War to End All Wars, so it is right and proper that due reverence and respect be paid to this context. 

However I cannot tell you quite how terribly disappointed I am in this cloying lachrymose sentimental pile of steaming tosh. It is a disaster of gargantuan proportions to me if only because of its manipulative schmaltz and sickly maudlin clumsiness and I tried to find a review that summarised my feelings to check whether I was so far out of kilter with everyone else especially by finding it quite so old fashioned. The only reviews I found that came close were from the Independent and the Guardian’s P Bradshaw, which is interesting if only because they are the two papers I am most given to read the rest being largely Murdoch, appropriated chip paper. Although I confess also to being somewhat surprised to find Kermode defending it in his DVD round up of the year. I admire him but disappointed to discover we do not always agree.
Firstly Spielberg has excelled himself in the vision of the piece and some have called it beautiful but to me it is overblown and Disneyfied to the point of almost seeming ersatz and sickly. I for one found it unnatural to the point of almost extreme surrealism and so fake throughout as to be almost like watching a cartoon. It is as if dipped in honey or butterscotch almost throughout, there seem the no greys or blues but an overriding hue of orange and golden browns the closing scene especially is hilarious if it weren't so clichéd and saccharine sweet. No English landscape ever looked like this, like Gone With The Wind under LSD!
The whole temperature of the film is fake; there is not one single landscape that doesn't strike one as false from the English farm chosen and the ploughing of the unploughable field with the laughable splitting of the rock to the carefully manicured landscapes of France. All strike me as false and fake and Hollywoodised and this takes some doing as they were apparently shot in authentic places. How DOES Spielberg do that? It is as if they have been sanitised and made acceptable to Disney standards. As if they have CGI’d the whole thing but apparently Spielberg in ‘not doing a war film’ apparently, felt especially proud that he hadn’t used ANY!? Some of that guilt must lie with the DoP Janusz Kaminski who claims to be unaware of the ending of Gone With The Wind ad it’s similarities which would worry me were I a producer. How can anyone NOT be aware of the coincidence and what the history of his subject looked like!? There are parallels with many old fashioned films like A Quiet Man for example but to not be aware of one of the all time standard classics stuck me as worrying!

Warhorse the closing clip
Gone With The Wind

Quite how Spielberg justified his thinking that he has doesn’t think he has made war film is almost beneath contempt if not extremely perverse and disingenuous. It is patently NOT merely a tale of love between a boy and his horse otherwise the points about the machine
the German deserter boys are discovered
gun ending the reign of the cavalry and especially the scenes shot in France from the sickly Grandfather and Emilie to the discreet shooting behind the windmill sail of the two under age deserters to the finale with Joey the horse in No-man’s Land. BTW who calls a horse ‘Joey’? That’ s a name perversely chosen to irritate, as everyone knows Budgerigars are called Joey and horses are called Ned (I'm joking here of course but it did strike me as amongst the most anodyne of names to choose for something as butch as a war-horse)
Joey jumps!
More there is the writing and we have a number on the team but quite why they thought they needed the light comic touch of Richard Curtis amongst others to join forces and make this even more trite and ersatz than it may have been from M Malpurgo's original book for 9 year olds, I won't know now as this film has certainly put me off ever reading it. Not enough jokes about pants, duck faced gals or big titties!? Ironically he worked on Blackadder, which had a far more potent point about the war than any here. There simply are so many lumps and bumps and errors and poorly written parts of this script that I almost do to know where to begin. The whole story is told in clumsy sections and not one cohesive whole but rather several distinct disappointing episodic chunks that clunk and bang against each other so that one could be forgiven for thinking we watched several different films!
preposterous and historically innacccurate
Emily Watson
The casting if superb features personal heroes like Peter Mullan, Tom Hiddleston, Emily Watson, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Thewlis, and Eddie Marsan and the rest of the company are almost entirely wasted here. Making it even more difficult to watch as so many great talents here are left to flounder. Anther hero actor in Liam Cunningham has a bit part that required such a faux posh accent it is positively hilarious even jarring. I can only assume he was given such little time to develop anything approaching a part that the stiff upper lip accent was left to struggle there. There is no time to build any character or human interaction other than cliché and parody. The drinker/alcoholic father so fat headed he over bids on a thoroughbred horse rather than a plough horse is hilarious were it not so pathetically clichéd and contrived. The stoic little woman begrudgingly putting up with the choices of her men folk is palpably laughable In this day and age for a character of two dimensions. As for accuracy of detail a Frenchman so in love with his now deceased daughter, Emilie, he traverses France to pay £100 for a horse which he then immediately gives away back to it’s owner without accepting the offer of any money in exchange is hilarious and would be funny if it hadn’t been such a saccharine sentimental cliché.
This is Spielberg making a film for Disney with all the worst implications of that unhealthy alliance. Vacuous facile clumsy and trite. This is nowhere near Spielberg’s best. I am thinking ‘Saving Private Ryan’ or even ‘ET’ here. It is patronising to children n in my opinion the very worst of assuming you know what children can and cannot cope with. I do so hope the same is not true of the book.

Friday, November 14, 2014


Mrs Wolowitz passes away!

Mrs Debbie Wolowitz' s first TV appearance

We have lost three actors this week

Sad to report, and I know I keep doing this but this week I was especially sad it seemed to me to note the passing of three character actors I admired. Not least Carol Ann Susi the voice actress who played Mrs Wolowitz, Howard's mother in The Big Bang Theory which I adore (since coming off my scooter last year I have probably watched every episode several times!) But I also noticed in the news that day that the glorious Warren Clarke from A Clockwork Orange and Dalziel and Pascoe fame passed away also after a sudden illness. I adored Warren and somehow always remembered the role he played in Clockwork Orange as particularly filled with studied pathos and supremely well acted. I would watch him in anything he did on the strength of that and loved his taciturn Dalziel and Pascoe role. Also sad to hear the lovely actor from Casualty, nurse Nina,  Rebekah Gibbs has died from cancer aged a mere 41. She was lovely and we felt a tremendous spirited actor. Our most sincere thoughts are with the families of these wonderful actors
Warren Clarke in A Clockwork Orange

In Dalziel and Pascoe

Sad loss, R.I.P. one and all

Sunday, November 09, 2014

The Untold Story of Bob Dylan's 

'Basement Tapes'

Rolling Stone brings Garth Hudson back to Big Pink for the first time since 1968 for an exclusive documentary

Photo by Elliott Landy/LandyVision.com
Forty-six years after Rolling Stone first alerted the world to the existence of Bob Dylan's secret Basement Tapes sessions, the complete recordings are finally getting a commercial release — and we're commemorating the occasion with a cover story. Rolling Stone contributing editor David Browne traces the entire history of the tapes in our new issue (on stands Friday), from the 1966 motorcycle crash that preceded their creation to the secret recording sessions in the Saugerties, New York home known as Big Pink to the many bootlegs and partial releases that have come out over the years to the massive undertaking it took to prepare all 130 tracks for release on The Basement Tapes Complete box set.

As he retraced the long history of the Basement Tapes, Browne spoke to Roger McGuinn, Happy Traum, Jim James, Sally Grossman (the widow of Dylan's manager Albert Grossman) and Canadian producer Jan Haust, who played a pivotal role in preserving the tapes and readying their release. Browne also spent the day in Woodstock with Garth Hudson, the organist in the Band who ran the tape recorder during the Basement Tapes sessions. 
Rolling Stone even went a step further, bringing Hudson back to Big Pink for the first time since he moved out in 1968. As our cameras rolled, he spent hours walking around the grounds of the house, reminiscing and playing Dylan songs on the organ and piano. "It's way bigger than I thought," he said after stepping into the basement where the musicians crafted Dylan's secret masterpiece. "We'd be around, cleaning up or whatever, and Bob would come in. Bob didn't like to sing the same song over and over."

Rolling Stone - Garth Hudson returns to Big Pink

check out Garth's jacket!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Michael Payne has died aged 45
I am sorry and saddened to hear that the father of murdered little girl Sarah Payne,  Michael Payne, has been found dead at 45 and I note that BBC correspondent, Duncan Kennedy, has said that Payne was a father "crushed by agony". A parent "consumed by grief".
"When his eight-year-old daughter Sarah was abducted in July 2000 his world collapsed. She was found dead in West Sussex 17 days later, murdered by Roy Whiting - a paedophile now serving life in jail - but it was a term that gave Michael only temporary escape from his demons.

With his wife Sara, Michael found brief solace and purpose in campaigning for Sarah's Law, giving people greater information about sex offenders, but he began drinking heavily and the marriage collapsed. He later said he had failed to protect his own daughter. He had tried to come to terms with his suffocating loss, but in the end he was consumed."
Sarah Payne aged 8 in 2000
The parents of little Sarah who so took the public's heartfelt sorrow and pain to their hearts were often in our thoughts and prayers but I often wondered who and what services offered themselves and how do we ensure this takes place. Do the authorities underline the value of therapy in such overwhelming circumstances? I would have expected so.

Sarah Payne's mother, Sara, later spoke, eloquently I thought, of how the extent of her husband’s pain may have been sidelined, with support systems not oriented towards helping fathers. “I feel sympathy for any man in the situation. It’s not geared to dads. It doesn’t take into account their emotions. They have no one to turn to.” Sara herself was able to throw her energies into the work around Sarah's Law and advocating for victims of such crime with the support of wonderful people like Shy Keenan who's book 'Broken' I read after hearing about her in the contexts of supporting Sara Payne. It is a towering read if one needs insight to what it is to be the survivor of horrendous levels of childhood abuse but has been withdrawn for 'legal reasons' which suggests someone mentioned in it has taken action against her which would be a shame not to say crime?

Michael Payne struggled in the way so many men do by drowning his sorrows with alcohol, or trying to, and he was jailed for 16 months in December 2011 after pleading guilty to attacking his brother after they had drunk large amounts of alcohol. His defence counsel said when he was charged  Referring to the murder of his daughter, at the time: “The assorted aftermath had a life-changing effect on him . . . It’s desperately sad. He never sought nor was offered assistance with bereavement counselling. In a nutshell, he suffered the kind of experience that is every parent’s enduring nightmare.” That must have felt never ending.
As a professional counsellor I reflect today on how much my vocation may or may not have let Michael Payne down but it feels like it. Men tend not to ask for help and male counsellors especially have a duty to offer and continue to offer help to people who have tried to come to terms with such a terrible loss.

I was especially moved by reading that his daughter and Sarah's sister, Charlotte, posted a picture of her father on Facebook alongside a message saying she was "heartbroken".

"No matter what happened and how many mistakes we all made you will always be my daddy," she wrote. She later added: "I'm sorry I couldn't save you dad. I hope you have finally found your peace and happiness." Counsellors and specially trained abuse therapists like myself may have cause to pause and reflect that she shouldn't really have had to end up feeling it was her responsibility to 'save' her dad when the support professions didn't.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Eric Clapton has released a new song, written in tribute to his former Cream bandmate Jack Bruce, who died on October 25, 2014, aged 71. Clapton had earlier paid tribute to Bruce, writing on his Facebook page, "He was a great musician and composer, and a tremendous inspiration to me." Clapton has now put up a new song, "For Jack", which he posted on October 26 on Facebook, reports Rolling Stone.

Click here to listen to the (instrumental) track.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

'The Basement Tapes Complete: 

The Bootleg Series Vol. 11'

The Basement Tapes Complete will be released on November 4. As a curtain raiser, The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 is now streaming via NPR.
The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 is a six-disc set which will feature 138 songs. There is also a special two-disc edition - The Basement Tapes Raw: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11, featuring 38 songs. The Basement Tapes Raw: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 will also be released as a three-album set on 180-gram vinyl. - Uncut

These are the 12 tracks being streamed at NPR:

Edge Of The Ocean (Disc 1, Track 1)
You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (Take 1) (Disc 3, Track 17)
I Shall Be Released (Take 1) (Disc 3, Track 19)
Quinn The Eskimo (Take 1) (Disc 4, Track 4)
This Wheel’s On Fire (Disc 3, Track 21)
Johnny Todd (Disc 2, Track 1)
Don’t Ya Tell Henry (Disc 4, Track 21)
I Don’t Hurt Anymore (Disc 2, Track 19)
Silent Weekend (Disc 5, Track 12)
Crash On The Levee (Take 1) (Disc 3, Track 10)
One Too Many Mornings (Disc 5, Track 2)
I’m Your Teenage Prayer [Disc 2, Track 8]

Monday, October 27, 2014

sad to report the death of  

Jack Bruce

 JACK BRUCE R.I.P. 1943-2014

Big O have three boots available of concerts not available anywhere else and had this report
Jack Bruce, best known as one-third of Cream, died on October 25, 2014 of liver disease at his home in Suffolk. He was 71. In a statement issued by his family on Saturday, his family said: “It is with great sadness that we, Jack’s family, announce the passing of our beloved Jack: husband, father, granddad, and all round legend. The world of music will be a poorer place without him but he lives on in his music and forever in our hearts.”
Bruce played bass, sang and was the principal songwriter in Cream. The group sold 35 million albums in just over two years and were given the first ever platinum disc for Wheels of Fire Bruce wrote and sang most of the songs, including “I Feel Free” and “Sunshine Of Your Love”. But even leaving aside that group, in which he played with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker, his CV reads like a comprehensive guide to the British blues boom, with spells in Alexis Korner’s Blues Inc, the Graham Bond Organisation, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Manfred Mann. Bruce’s life had been marked by health and financial troubles. In the late 1970s he struggled with drug addiction, and worked as a session musician to make money. In 2003 he was diagnosed with liver cancer, and that September he underwent a transplant. His body initially rejected the new liver, and Bruce almost died, but he recovered well enough to return to performance in 2004. - The Guardian and BBC
Jack was a hero, a feisty Scot and bass virtuoso, song writer and singer we loved and of course we adored Cream when they came out and still recall the affect of the Farewell Concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 1968 (we were bereft until we got blown away!) of which Tony Palmer's excellent film is still available on youtube and in two formats the original one from Tony Palmer Films which is superb quality but sadly doesn't have the voice over of the original. I also bought 'Songs For a Tailor' when it came out and loved it's unique style and substance (still!) He had a new album out this year 'Silver Rails' so I recommend you go out and buy them!

 Cream - Farewell Concert Royal Albert Hall 1968 (Tony Palmer Films)

Rest In Peace