Dave's Diary
This journal of the comings'n'goings and musings'n'enthusings of Dave Ling will be updated daily
(except after nights of excess)

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Friday 29th April
Last night I saw an excellent 35th anniversary gig from Wishbone Ash at the Mean Fiddler. A new guitarist called Muddy Manninen, who like his predecessor Ben Granfelt played with Finnish band Gringos Locos, had just joined but you'd never have guessed. Sadly, 'Phoenix' was omitted this time, but it was lovely to hear both 'Pilgrim' (from 'Pilgrimage' in 1971) and 'Rock And Roll Widow' (written after an audience member was shot at one of their US shows in the early 1970s). I'm really growing to like 'Standing In The Rain' (fom 1991's 'Strange Affair'), and we got two fine songs - 'Changing Tracks' and 'Almighty Blues' - from the current 'Bona Fide'. The rest of the set was comprised of classic Ash tracks. From the middle onwards they hit a rich vein of form with 'The King Will Come', 'Throw Down The Sword', 'Pilgrim', 'Persephone', 'Blind Eye', 'Living Proof', 'Blowin' Free'/'Bad Weather Blues' and 'Jailbait' all among the show's latter moments. Awesome.
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Thursday 28th April
Paid a visit to the 100 Club last night to check out a great little band. They're a four-piece - guitar, Hammond organist, bonkers bass player afflicted with St Vitus Dance and a drummer - called The Blue Van. The name is derived from a vehicle used for transporting lunatics in their native Denmark; if they were British they'd be called The Men In The White Coats. Anyway, The Blue Van's all-too-short set was superb. The music is a kind of electrified, almost punk-infused R&B, it's no surprise to learn they were inspired by Cream, The Who, The Small Faces and the Pretty Things. Hope they come back again soon.
I take back all the nasty things I've been saying about the postman. He's just delivered a promo of 'Fused', the new Tony Iommi album (featuring Glenn Hughes), Styx's 'Big Bang Theory' and another record I've been dying to hear, the latest from Swiss melodic rock gods Gotthard ('Lip Service'). Now all I've gotta do is find the time to play them!
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Wednesday 27th April
Till now I’ve always struggled to think of Mark Hughes as anything except an overrated, ruddy-faced sheepshagger whose extra-time equaliser at Wembley robbed Crystal Palace of perhaps our only chance to win the FA Cup. Today – well, for 24 hours or so, at least – I find myself regarding Hughes in a fond new light. Last night the Blackburn Rovers team he now manages fought out a deserved 1-1 draw away at West Brom, keeping the Baggies below us in the bottom three and shining another ray of hope upon SE25. Thanks, Mark. You’re not such a c**t after all.
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Monday 25th April
Congratulations to Eagles striker Andy Johnson, whose 20 goals so far have been rewarded with a deserved spot in this season's PFA Premiership dream team. AJ's wonderful achievement sees him lining up alongside Thiery Henry, Steven Gerrard, Arjen Robben and, er, Gary Neville. Astoundingly, nobody from Scumwall or Br***ton & Homo Albion dented the Fizzy Pop league's equivalent XI. Or XXI for that matter.
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Sunday 24th April
Ouch, my aching head. Yesterday was pretty eventful. Following a string of poor results I’d all but resigned realistic hope that Palace might stay in the Premiership. So to have deservedly beaten Liverpool and then seen Portsmouth slam four goals past a dismal looking Southampton was faith-affirming. Roared on by a disbelieving crowd the entire team played like giants against the Anfielders, who seemed to expect instant capitulation. This joyous display of bouncebackability means that it’s now in our own hands once more. But perhaps more important still, whatever happens at the end of the season I can say I’ve been thoroughly proud of Crystal Palace FC, a team who let us not forget were unanimously written off as relegation certainties before a ball was even kicked.
After the match I went to an all but sold-out Astoria to see Magnum basing a show upon their classic ‘On A Storyteller’s Night’ album. Dry white wine was flowing like the proverbial waterfall, and Magnum even managed to make an already stellar night even more wonderful still, by reviving one of my all-time favourite songs, ‘Soldier Of The Line’. How I got home in such a pathetically paralytic state is a minor miracle.
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Saturday 23rd April
Kino’s ‘Picture’ will undoubtedly be one of the strongest albums of 2005, and I’d been counting down the days till the opportunity to see the band - comprising members of It Bites, Marillion, Arena and Porcupine Tree - make their UK live debut at the Mean Fiddler. This prospect was rendered more appetising still by Chris Maitland being unavailable and It Bites sticksman Bob Dalton agreeing to deputise. With just one album from which to choose, Kino added two songs from It Bites’ awesome ‘Once Around The World’ album, namely ‘Plastic Dreamer and ‘Kiss Like Judas’, plus a cover of Marillion’s ‘Afraid Of Sunlight’. The playing was heavenly and quality of songs impeccable, but if pushed to criticise I’d have to cite John Mitchell’s vocals as a possible weak link. The guitarist claimed to have a cold tonight, but there were occasional moments when his voice wasn’t strong enough. Otherwise, however, it was an enthralling and entertaining night that merited a far more sizeable turnout.
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Wednesday 20th April
Morbid Angel played a sold-out Mean Fiddler last night, bassist/vocalist David Vincent making a welcome return to the Floridian death metal legends. They can still play harder and faster than just about all the opposition, but my own personal favourite was a splendid mid-set grind through ‘Where The Slime Live’.
Despite my April 16 posting, a visit from the postman is always welcome. Indeed, among yesterday’s goodies was a lovely bundle from SPV Records. Not only did it include CD re-issues of the first four Accept albums, but an advance promo of Demons & Wizards’ newie, ‘Touched By The Crimson King’. I’d forgotten how poppy Accept were at the start, but they really pick up steam with ‘I’m A Rebel’ (1980) and ‘Breaker’ (1981), while ‘Restless And Wild’ is such a timepiece it still makes we want to drink 38 pints of cider and sleep face down in the gutter. Demons & Wizards are a transatlantic alliance of Iced Earth’s Jon Schaffer and Hansi Kürsch of Blind Guardian. As you’ll be irrefutably reminded on June 27, together they make some of the most classic-sounding hard rock around.
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Tuesday 19th April
What a great Dokken gig last night. The Underworld was just half full, and Don Dokken’s vocals were sometimes a bit wobbly, but save for one unusual choice – ‘Too High To Fly’ from 1995’s ‘Dysfunctional’ album – the band played almost everything the fans craved. Check out this set-list: ‘Kiss Of Death’, ‘Hunter’, ‘Into The Fire’, ‘Unchain The Night’, ‘Dream Warriors’, ‘Heaven Sent’, ‘Breaking The Chains’, ‘Alone Again’, ‘When Heaven Comes Down’, ‘It’s Not Love’, ‘Tooth And Nail’ and an encore of ‘In My Dreams’.
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Sunday 17th April
Well, a single point from yesterday’s game did neither Palace nor Norwich much good (though fortunately Pete Way’s beloved Villa thrashed Southampton for us both). Coming back from 3-1 down, the Eagles take more of a psychological boost from the result. The fat lady hasn’t sung yet, but she may be clearing her throat. I just pray we get a result up at Blackburn on Wednesday.
Following the final whistle I went to the Mean Fiddler for an exquisite Robin Trower gig. Hadn’t seen the ex-Procol Harum guitarist since the ‘old’ Marquee back in 1985, and boy had it been too long. Opening with a mighty ‘Too Rolling Stoned’, and backed by the awesome Davey Pattison on vocals, Trower played with fluency, fire and passion for a genius-filled 95 minutes.
And there’s further good news. I got an email from Andy Fraser – he’s alive! His statement said that friends and relatives had been left “shaken, sobbing and in a state of shock” at rumours of his demise, but that “while many may have considered me dead long ago (artistically or otherwise) and I do confirm I am living with AIDS, I am still very much here, and wish to let my friends and supporters know that I intend to be for quite a while.” Nice one.
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Saturday 16th April
I must rant. Why does the Post Office employ so many cretins? The inconvenience of going to the sorting office to pick up outsized packages and registered goods is of course a fact of life. But yesterday I was asked to sign for seven separate packages – all thin ones – wrapped in elastic bands. Infuriated, I asked the pleb behind the counter why the postie hadn’t removed the bands and put them through the letterbox separately. “It’s not rocket science, is it?”, I roared. Naturally, he had no reply.
The Led Zeppelin book I’m reading (see April 10) only gets better. I was grimly amused by the tale of John Bonham becoming so inebriated during a flight to America that he couldn’t be arsed to leave his seat for a piss. His seat flooded with urine, he then swapped with a roadie in second class. If some day they make Led Zeppelin – The Movie, my old mate Jerry Ewing has all the credentials to play Bonzo.
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Friday 15th April
Still no definitive news on the Andy Fraser saga. Malcolm Dome rang the number at the bottom of the obituary press release and found it was a company in Cape Town, not Johannesburg as claimed – how mysterious. He then had a conversation with someone who knew the Fraser family, the outcome being that Andy is, in fact, dead. In which case, who on earth did Stuart Smith speak to?!
Last night I went back to the Underworld again for a gig by Hecate Enthroned, a British black metal band that I’d thus far failed to cross swords with. The turnout was pitiful, and the set ended by the venue’s curfew (the encore was performed with house lights up a single row of fans going apeshit in front of the stage), but what a catalogue of fascinating songs Hecate Enthroned appear to have. I’ll be investigating further.
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Wednesday 13th April
Rumour, rumours, rumours – doncha love ’em? Unfortunately, however, gossip isn’t always pleasant. For the past couple of weeks there’s been speculation that Andy Fraser, former bass player of the incredible Free, has passed away. Being an incredibly private person, no official statement was made till a couple of days ago. When Gov’t Mule came to London, Warren Haynes asked me whether the rumour was true – even though he’d been dedicating songs to Fraser’s memory from the stage. It was all a big mystery till an email arrived yesterday. Titled Andy Fraser (1952-2005), it revealed that he’d died of AIDS-related disease, had been cremated in a private ceremony and would have been 53 in August. I passed the message onto my pal Malcolm Dome, who posted it on the TotalRock website, and started penning an obituary for Classic Rock. Then Malc emailed me saying Stuart Smith of the Los Angeles band Heaven & Earth had actually had a long phone conversation with Fraser just 24 hours earlier – he wasn’t dead at all. I spoke to Stuart, who swore it was true and gave me Andy’s email address to check for myself. How surreal is this, with news deadline upon us, I found myself emailing Andy Fraser to find out – in the most polite terms possible – if indeed he is still resident on this mortal coil. I didn’t get a reply… Gawd alone knows what to think. I just hope it’s all an elaborate, vindictive hoax – but that we discover the truth soon!
One other snippet of rumour: My old adversary Ted Nugent is being strongly linked with a spot at July’s Rock & Blues festival. Ulp! Maybe I won’t bother going backstage that day!
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Monday 11th April
The Zep book just gets better. The band have just tried to make a Great Dane become 'friends’ with a willing female fan, if you get my drift. The eternal butt of everyone’s jokes, Plant comes across as something of an upper class prima donna. Maybe he should’ve shrugged his shoulders like John Paul Jones did when Bonzo filled his hotel room with water, turning it into an indoor swimming pool, instead of giving the drummer the reaction he craved. I was nevertheless highly amused by the story of a highly inebriated Plant skipping down the aisle of a plane, looking like a cross between a matador and the Pied Piper whilst bellowing: “Toilets! Toilets! Toilets for Robert!”
And no, I don’t want to talk about the football. If you bring try to bring up the subject I will punch you in the fucking face.
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Sunday 10th April
Killing time in the airport, I begin reading Stairway To Heaven, Led Zeppelin Uncensored, a so far quite brilliant tell-all book by the band’s former road manager Richard Cole. It actually made headlines back in 1993, but I only just found a copy. I’m a third of the way through and already Cole and Jimmy Page have filled their hotel-tubs with naked girls and octopuses, Jon Bonham has consumed a four-foot tall bottle of champagne and Zeppelin have spurned the plaster casters (“I couldn’t keep my dick hard around those fat chicks” – Robert Plant). Bonham has also interrupted a Jeff Beck Group concert by removing all his clothes, narrowly avoiding arrest. And, of course, the legendary Shark Incident has taken place.
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Saturday 9th April
I type this from a hotel room in Hamburg. Last night I saw a surprisingly good Danger Danger show at the Underworld. With Ted Poley back on vocals, the band richly deserved the vociferous response to such cock-rock anthems as ‘Bang Bang’ and ‘Monkey Business’, though sadly they omitted the mighty ‘Slipped Her The Big One’.
So it was an effort to make my 5.45am Heathrow alarm call. I’m here for an interview with Joey DeMaio from Manowar, but just discovered that not only have I come all this way for a paltry 30 minutes, I must also share my slot with a German writer. The life of a music journalist isn’t always a happy one. You could argue that I’m lucky to be in Hamburg, a city that’s pleasing to the eye but far less so to the nostrils. However, if I’m to be absent for an entire weekend then this is a complete waste of the record company’s money and my time.
I finally finish reading the book Who Killed Kurt Cobain? (see March 31) and would recommend it to anyone. Personally I found it darkly fascinating not only because I once met Eldon Hoke (a.k.a. El Duce of The Mentors, who claims to have been approached by Courtney Love to kill her husband, and was later mysteriously killed when he spoke out about it), but also due to the 50-odd copycat deaths that followed Kurt’s supposed suicide. If Cobain didn’t blow out what little brains he had – the book argues that he’d taken so much heroin he’d have been incapable of pulling the trigger – then the re-opening of the case is owed to the families of those kids.
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Friday 8th April
You know when you've been hit by a truck and you know when you've just had the best shag of your life. You also know when you've seen Gov't Mule. I'd wanted to catch this band in concert since hearing the first note of their music back in 1999. Last night they made their UK debut at the Mean Fiddler, and it was an almost religious experience - especially the jammed version of the Allmans' 'Dreams I'll Never See' that wrapped up proceedings. Also got to do a quick interview with Warren Haynes, which was a complete thrill.
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Thursday 7th April
I receive a promo of the new covers album 'Got Blooze' by Mountain's Leslie West, and am so impressed by his version of 'House Of The Rising Sun' that I zip off an email to tell him so. The reply comes back: "Thanks. Glad you like it. How bout a real feature, on Crystal Palace - their march to the top?" Remind me to give him a shitty review.
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Wednesday 6th April
Received a press release from an American publicist. It confirms a six-week American Ozzfest-style tour that'll be co-headlined by Megadeth and Dream Theater. I had to laugh. It was only recently that Dave Mustaine was quoted as saying: "This is definitely it. Unless some freak accident happens and some of the old guys get hit in the head with meteors and their thinking changes, this tour will go around the world one last time to perform a farewell tour for Megadeth's farewell record". At this rate, there will be Liberal-Democrat goverment by the time Megadeth finish saying their farewells.
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Monday 4th April
What a lovely day I was having yesterday. A beautiful sunny afternoon in Camden, a few obscurities in the Record & Tape Exchange and a pleasant interview with Messiah Marcolin from Candlemass. Then Everton roll over and die, giving West Brom three points that take them above my beloved Eagles. A big argument ensures with Mrs L, who wants to know why I'm watching the game in the first place. I DO NOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE FUGGIN' FOOTBALL - UNDERSTAND?!
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Sunday 3rd April
I’d been dreading yesterday’s trip to Selhurst Park. Sure enough, Palace dominated against a poor Middlesbrough side, and still lost to a sloppy goal. My only consolation was Southampton and Norwich both also failing to register points. All the same, things don’t look good. Have already started to prepare myself for the inevitable, and a return to the Fizzy Pop League.
At least Porcupine Tree’s evening soiree at the Astoria lightened the mood. They delivered a great set, the awesome ‘Arriving Somewhere But Not Here’ its defining moment, and we all headed off around the corner to the CroBar to celebrate. Leif Edling from Candlemass, in town to do some press, was a welcome late arrival to the ranks of the swigging, which at one point even included Classic Rock’s own king of prog-rock and shandy-drinker extraordinaire, Nick ‘Mine’s A Half Of Top Deck’ Shilton.
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Friday 1st April
Safely back in Catford after our few days away. Gosh, it’s nice to be home… and to have a mountain of post on the doormat. There’s the expanded ‘On A Storyteller’s Night’ from Magnum, with my sleeve-notes and a bonus disc of Tony Clarkin’s original demos. Hurrah. And a copy of Queens Of The Stone Age’s ‘Lullabies To Paralyze’, which is nowhere near as bad as the scathing reviews would have you believe. Oh, and a promo of Bruce Dickinson’s ‘Tyranny Of Souls’ – that’s something I’ll be playing to death over the next few days.