This journal of the comings'n'goings and musings'n'enthusings of Dave Ling will be updated daily - except after days of stress and nights of excess.
Wednesday 15th February
What a way to start the day. Just as it had been arranged, the office phone line chirruped on the dot of 10am. "Good morning Dave, Tony [Iommi] here. Before we get into the interview, let me say that I'm so glad Classic Rock has started up again. Without a doubt that's the best magazine out there." #wearenotworthy
Try to imagine how happy I was when the email went 'ping' and I received a message entitled: 'Stone Free Festival announces Blue Öyster Cult, Sweet, The Answer & many more'. Think of that state of blissful contentment: double it, add a couple of zeros and you might be halfway there. The Sweet to play a rock set opening for Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, at a venue that's within walking distance of Ling Mansions??!! Ooooh, Gods Of Rock 'N' Roll, you are spoiling us! In my mind I'm already writing the set list, which includes 'Windy City', 'Need A Lot Of Lovin'', 'Yesterday's Rain', 'Solid Gold Brass' and 'Burn On The Flame'.
This show takes place at the O2 Arena on June 17 – whatever you do, if you're in the London area, DON'T MISS IT!!!
Tuesday 14th February
I enjoyed last night's gig by Danny Worsnop, though thanks to London's rush hour traffic I arrived three songs into the set, which meant I had already missed hearing my favourite track, 'Mexico'. On the strength of what I heard and saw – for TV purposes the volume was kept much quieter than a usual gig, and at times being in the studio felt a bit like listening to a transistor radio – Danny's material is good, though I'd hesitate to describe it as great. Worsnop is an interesting guy, I love the fact that he could get so off his face that he wouldn't even remember writing the song 'High', awakening one morning to find he'd done so on his phone in a state of advanced refreshment. The footage of the gig is well worth watching – click here though the music doesn't begin until 12.23.
Check out this fantastic Facebook post from Pete Way (presumably it's courtesy of his wife Jenny): "The hospital just called to tell me Pete's heart procedure went very well and he is sleeping off the anaesthetic. The best Valentine I could have is Pete alive and well".
Monday 13th February
Tonight I'm heading across the capital to the plush new YouTube London Space gaff over in King's Cross for a special show from Danny Worsnop, who some may know for his roles as the frontman of Asking Alexandria and/or We Are Harlot. However, as you'll be aware if you listen regularly to Planet Rock Radio, the Yorkshireman has also reinvented himself an as 'outlaw country' singer. I must say, I *really* like this track, lifted from the singer's debut solo album 'The Long Road Home' (due on February 17). If The Cadillac Three kept whippets it might sound something like this. Yee and indeed haw, y'all! And eeeh by gum!
Sunday 12th February
Yesterday offered yet another utterly shit day with the round ball. Palace lost again, this time at Stoke, but there was a marked improvement in the team's play. Had we scored first… well, it could have been another game entirely. Oh well, if the worst comes to the worst at least those fuggin' gloryhunters will vanish next year. And my, what a thrilling triumph with the oval-shaped ball as England dramatically beat Wales in the Six Nations.
The line-up for the next Rockingham Festival was announced during Steve Price's Saturday night show on ARFM Radio. Loverboy, Honeymoon Suite, Vega, Airrace, Dare and another slice of Fortune: Wow, I *really* hope I can go again.
Saturday 11th February
Metal Hammer had commissioned me to review last night's sold-out London gig from Anthrax, but it's a show I wouldn't have missed for all of the cider in Somerset. Newly signed to BMG Records, local lads The Raven Age delivered an impressive warm-up set, their sense of melody coloured by plenty of light and shade and delivered cleanly by frontman Michael Burrough. Some will no doubt attribute their presence to nepotism – guitarist George Harris has a father in a *very* famous heavy metal band – but I liked them a lot and will check them out again soon.
The 'Thrax were performing their breakthrough album 'Among The Living' in its 30th anniversary year, but a 50-minute fan-requested set including three from the newie 'For All Kings' (my favourite was the drama-charged 'Blood Eagle Wings') came first. The likes of 'A.I.R.', 'Madhouse' and, surprisingly, 'Aftershock', apparently "one we haven't done since 1986", sent the place wild.
So why oh why did the band insist up leaving the stage for a 10-minute interval as their crew changed the backdrop and added a few extra ramps, causing the show to lose valuable momentum? A lot of fans were left confused – there wasn't even time to queue up and buy a beer before Anthrax returned. Puzzling.
'Among…' is quite rightly regarded as a landmark heavy metal moment, but despite its undeniable overall excellence it carries a couple of B-list moments, including 'One World' and 'A.D.I.'/'Horror Of It All'. Am I guilty of quibbling? Yeah, maybe. What's not to love about 'Caught In A Mosh', 'I Am The Law', 'Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)', 'Indians', et al, rounded off by Trust's 'Antisocial'? I'd rather they had played B-side 'I'm The Man' instead of a wanky guitar solo from Jonathan Donais. Rounding things off with their cover of 'Antisocial' by Trust, Anthrax still get a solid nine out of ten from me, especially Joey Belladonna, whose voice remains absolutely first-rate, and the equally evergreen Scott Ian who supplied the quote of the night whilst introducing 'Imitation Of Life': "We live in a crazy world, especially our country. So you thought your shit was fucked up? Holy fuck, when Piers Morgan becomes your prime minister, call me."
Friday 10th February
There's no time for messing around… I must complete what I've been working on for the last coupla days – a sizeable tribute to Mr Wetton for CR. I will be playing his music and re-reading old interviews (including a few of my own). Hahaha, just realised the spelling of 'Aisa' in the 1982 Sounds story. Whhat an unforgiveable typo! My mate, Vanessa Thorpe (Hammer's notoriously eagle-eyed Production Ed) would do her nut!!!!!
Might need a bit Of a drinkie tonight... how lucky that Anthrax are in town. Yin and yang.
PS. Oi! Guitar nerds... better start practising. The Yng is heading to London (The Forum) on August 2. I don't know whether to be amused or excited.
Thursday 9th February
I'm back to conducting at least one interview per day. Yesterday there were two very contrasting Skype interviews: Ted Turner talking about his Wishbone Ash years for the upcoming boxed set, and Ross The Boss setting the scene for a European tour in March and April. I almost wet myself with laughter when Ross told the tale of a member of his solo band - since replaced! - who refused to tour because he had to stay at home and look after his pet lizard. "I want warriors," groaned the guitarist, "not worriers." Expect a Manowar-friendly set on these dates - it's gonna be awesome.
Wednesday 8th February
This morning my treasured grey sweatshirt from Robert Plant's 'Principle Of Moments' tour had worked its way to the top of the pile, and five hours later I still cannot get this fantastic song out of my head. I'm always in the mood for a melody, of course! Hearing it again made me want to delve back into Percy's solo career, and over on Facebook my pal Neil Pudney reminded of the time at the London's Hammy O on 13.12.83 when Robert was joined onstage by his pal Mr Page. There's some rather good quality audio of it here.
The brand new issue of CR is here, complete with the cover story that I hoped I would never have to write – my tribute to Rick Parfitt. Though I won't name names I've had a couple of nice messages from folks associated with 'the camp', so to speak - one assured me that it was a "lovely [fair] cover feature" and reckoned that RP "would have been chuffed" over its contents, which means more to me than any hare-filled keyboard warrior hiding in their bedroom. Luckily, however, so far the feedback is unanimously positive.
Oh, and lookee here – who's this listed among Classic Rock's Contributors Of The Month? Normal service has been resumed, I'm happy to say!
Tuesday 7th February
As lunchtime approaches I'm still attempting to prioritise those melodic albums. One that will definitely make the cut is 'Can't Go Home', the newie from Unruly Child. Perhaps a little too much on the light side but nevertheless a banquet of immensely sophisticated melodic rock, full of well-structured songs and delivered by Marcie Michelle Free in a decidedly male-sounding voice.
[Edit: It's late afternoon and I've just got off the phone with Big Boy Bloater, a fast-rising name in the world of rocking blues. Silly name but a very amusing guy, and my preparation for the interview included a spin of his latest disc, 'Luxury Hobo'... blimey, it's terrific: big, groovy and in places very funny. Bloat, as he likes to be called, treats the blues with a healthy dose of self-mockery and it was a pleasure to talk to him. Schedule allowing, I will take a peek when he appears at Ramblin' Man Fair].
Monday 6th February
I'm thoroughly enjoying a melodic rock Monday, compiling my next column for Classic Rock #234. There's new music from Lionville, Jim Jidhed, Unruly Child, Pride Of Lions, Gotthard, AOR (the band), Tokyo Motor Fist, Mike Tramp, Brother Firetribe, Stefanie, Last Autumn's Dream and quite a few more... the usual embarrassment of riches. I'm allowed to review two of them as standalones, while the rest must be crowbarred into the column (which accommodates five). The maths doesn't really work out, does it? Such a shame. And you should see next month's schedule... Jeez!
Today's interview-ette was with Mark Keds, frontman/guitarist of the Senseless Things, whose classic line-up next month returns to action for the first time since 1995 with a gig at Shepherd's Bush Empire. I used to like the STs, and Keds was also a member of the Wildhearts. I used to like his band Jolt, so talking to him again after many a long year was a lot of fun.
Sunday 5th February
I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE FUCKING FOOTBALL, OKAY?! All I can say is that whatever happens over the next coupla months, I will always watch my team in which ever division they're in, and by that I mean have a season ticket and go to as many awaydays as poss. How many of you fuckers can say that?
It's now 9pm and having spent the entire day in 'stop-rewind-play' mode, I've just completed the editing process for the notes for 'Blue For You', 'Just Supposin'' and 'Never Too Late'. Phew, talk about a labour of love. I did the first of these interviews (with Rossi) way back in September. They include quotes from Francis, Rick (RIP), Alan, Spud, Andrew Bown, Bob Young and co-producer John Eden. I like to be meticulous. What an honour to have been involved.
Saturday 4th February
My alarm went off nice 'n' early and Eddie and I headed out to the local gym for a pre-game workout. Afterwards, as we walked back through the shopping centre, Ed playfully suggested: "How about a cheeky half at the Black Cat?" When I agreed, the look on his face was an absolute picture. This afternoon's game is a relegation six-pointer against Sunderland and I'm getting trashed whatever happens.
Friday 3rd February
Lunchtime was spent at a production meeting over at Snapper Records HQ about the Wishbone Ash boxed set 'Vintage Years 1970-1991'. How exciting... all of the group's product released officially within that timeframe, re-mastered by Martin Turner, in addition to a veritable treasure trove of unheard concert material that includes a whole unreleased show recorded for 'Live Dates'. A whopping 31 discs in all, plus a lavish 180-page coffee table book featuring brand new interviews with the five main members (which I've been charged with writing). The photos, gig posters and memorabilia that Snapper have gathered together are just mind-blowing. Expect it at the end of this year.
It's 6pm as I type and I'm winding down for the night. I've just had a very interesting Skype chat with DragonForce guitarist Herman Li. The band's label has hired me to write a biography for their upcoming album. I can't reveal the title at this stage but I must say that it's really, really good – there's even an 11-minute epic track that takes the listener through a variety of twists and turns.
You may have spotted that I'm busing myself with a variety of non-Classic Rock projects in addition to my normal day-to-day duties. If the collapse of TeamRock taught me anything at all, it's the dangers of keeping all of one's eggs in a single basket.
Thursday 2nd February
I'm currently spinning Michael Schenker's overdub-free new double-live album from Tokyo, which features a plethora of special guests. Michael plays like a god, obviously, but much as it pains me to say this as I was a huge fan of his in MSG's heyday, Gary Barden should no longer be allowed anywhere near a stage... unless of course he's sweeping it. It hurts me a little to say something so harsh as a singer Gary was a breath of fresh air on the first coiuple of MSG albums. I thought he was brilliant, really I did.
Much of today was spent transcribing Mr Rossi's interview for the final set of vintage-era Status Quo re-issues. I knew there were serious problems, of course, but had no idea how close he came to quitting whilst they were in Dublin recording 'Just Supposin'' and 'Never Too Late'. "I was enjoying working with [backing vocalist and co-writer] Bernard Frost so much that I just wanted to get out of Quo," Francis says on the tape. "I suspect the rest of the band looked at me and wondered: 'What's going on?' Maybe they were right to have done so."
There was also some silliness, of course, and at one point he interrupted a perfectly serious answer with - "One of these nights I'm gonna come round and cut your hair off while you're asleep, then next time you see me onstage I'll have stolen all of those white bits" - only to plunge back into the conversation right where he'd left off! What a strange fella!
Wednesday 1st February
Well, whisper it quietly but the Diary is back. I will try to keep these updates far more regular than before, I promise.
Firstly I'd like to say thanks so much for the barrage of private emails in response to my recent Captain's Log post. It's always nice to know that one's work is appreciated, and I was immensely moved by the lovely messages I received after Classic Rock went tits-up, especially the one from a fella called Jon Hayward, who signed off with the words: "Without reading your diary I wouldn't have searched out The Western Sizzlers, Space Elevator, Vega, Cats in Space and more, and I would like to see some new tips in the future." Thanks a million, guys and girls… really.
So Classic Rock and its associated titles are back from the dead – and what an effort it took from their respective production teams, after computers, DTP equipment and office furniture were all sold by the liquidators. Of course that meant starting pretty much from scratch.
My last few days have been spent writing a set of sleeve essays for the expanded editions of Quo's 'Blue For You', 'Just Supposin'' and 'Never Too Late'. What a complete gentleman Alan Lancaster is. Due to the fact that I am an incompetent technophobe our last Skype chat about was unusable, so Nuff just gave me another 45 mins of his time to re-do the thing from scratch.
Oh, and how utterly disrespectful for The Francis Rossi Band Now Trading As Status Quo to announce some non-'Aquostic' shows in the summertime. Remind us, what was The Last Night Of The Electrics about again? Francis can protest all he likes about maintaining his standard of living, but I find this latest U-turn impossible to swallow.
I must say that the death of John Wetton has hit me hard. I interviewed him many times from the earliest days of CR, though we had a bit of a falling out over an Asia album review of mine. It's quite sad that our last dealings were a bit unpleasant but that will never taint my memory of a guy who until that point had always been open, warm, friendly and honest.
This morning I logged on to discover that yet another fine individual and wonderful musician had gone. I never met Deke Leonard but we did a couple of entertaining phone interviews ("There was a period during the 1970s when all the acid labs in the world were working at full production, just to keep the Manband supplied"), I saw Man live several times and his books were hilarious. He will be missed. And what an awful coincidence that Man's early producer, John Schroeder (who also worked with Quo), is now dead too.
The last story I did on Man came out in January 2007 at the time of a double-CD anthology called 'Keep On Crinting: The Liberty/UA Years 1971-1975'. If anyone is considering checking them out, that's a good starter point. By then the band were already being taken over by what Deke called "the next generation", and since then Son Of Man have gone on to make a rather tremendous self-titled record, which is only fair as Deke told me that day: "Man belongs to those who play in it."
The only small consolation is the previous night's fine victory over Bournemouth, which has *really* put a spring in my step: Scott 'Goal Machine' Dann scores again, and Big Ben nods in a second at the death. Wonder of wonders – Crystal Palace keep a clean sheet and bring the three points back to London. That was much better, lads. Could the Allardyce era finally be up and running?
Oh, by the way… click on the following links for those monthly updates of the Playlist and YouTube pages.