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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Wednesday 31st August
What can I say? I’ve been well and truly bowled over by the second album from Luke Morley’s new band The Union. In Peter Shoulder the former Thunder guitarist has unearthed not only a wonderful vocalist but an invaluable creative sidekick. If like me you thought the band’s self-titled debut was good, prepare to be genuinely mesmerised when ‘Siren’s Song’ drops on October 3.
I’ve also been devouring a new two-disc anthology from Chicago called ‘The Ultimate Collection’ (Rhino Records). It kicks off with ‘If You Leave Me Now’, ‘Hard To Say I’m Sorry’, ‘Hard Habit To Break’ and ‘You’re The Inspiration’… need I say more??!!
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Tuesday 30th August
My Bank Holiday Monday was spent tidying and cleaning the house, also costing the prices of new furniture on the internet. Ho-hum. How extraordinarily tedious. So it was a relief to head up to town during the evening for what looks set to be my final gig experience for quite some time.
En route to Camden to investigate Helstar, the Texan power-thrashers who were due to make their debut on UK soil, I met Myke Gray of Skin fame for a quick update on Red White & Blues, a new band he has formed with former Jagged Edge frontman Matti Alfonzetti. Myke played demos of a few songs that will be released on an album in time for a tour with the Quireboys in November - I really liked what I heard: the band are a little bluesier than Skin, but with some top quality hooks. In his capacity as a fitness coach he also administered some useful advice on my painful shoulder complaint and even offered to teach me how to kick-box next time I’m in the West End. Top fella!
Atomkraft, a band I hadn’t seen live since a rather embarrassingly vodka-soaked trip to Poland during the late 1980s, were Helstar’s special guests. In saying ‘Atomkraft’, what I mean is their bass player Tony Dolan (AKA ‘The Demolition Man’ of Venom fame), who now also handles vocals in the disappointing absence of frontman Ian Davison Swift, augmented a very proficient three-piece backing group. For the first three numbers or so the sound was abysmal, the guitars completely inaudible above Dolan’s marauding bass-lines, but the experience became infinitely more pleasurable as things evened out, a superb version of ‘Queen Of Death’ a highlight of the band’s own tunes, whilst a stab at Thin Lizzy’s ‘Cold Sweat’ also hit the sweet spot. (For those that care the full set-list was: ‘Future Warriors’, ‘Pour The Metal In’, ‘Demolition’, ‘Foliage’, ‘Rich Bitch’, ‘Dead Again’, ‘Vision of Belshazzar’, ‘Gripped’, ‘Queen Of Death’, ‘Cold Sweat’ and ‘Total Metal’). I thought they were great.
The odds were stacked heavily against Helstar who arrived late at the Purple Turtle following a hellish trip from mainland Europe and were plagued by equipment problems throughout a 95-minute set witnessed by a sparse turnout that thinned our further still as the clock ticked towards the last tube (incredibly, they finished playing at ten to midnight on a day when public transport is extremely limited). Nevertheless, it was impossible to miss the quintet’s childlike glee at breaking their duck in Britain after almost thirty years. James Rivera has kept his pipes in fine order and the band kicked serious amounts of ass as they ran though five songs from the new album ‘Glory Of Chaos’ plus a stunning selection of old ’uns. Rivera unveiled a rather silly impression of Arnold Schwarzenegger as he told the crowd: “I’ll be back!” Here’s the set-list: ‘Angels Fall To Hell’, ‘Pandemonium’, ‘The Plague Called Man’, ‘Conquest’, ‘Bitter End’, ‘Summer Of Hate’, ‘Evil Reign’, ‘Burning Star’, ‘Monarch Of Bloodshed’, ‘Dracula’s Castle’, ‘Angel Of Death’, ‘The King Is Dead’, ‘Baptized In Blood’ and ‘Alma Negra’, plus encores of ‘The King Of Hell’ and ‘Run With The Pack’.
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Sunday 28th August
Yesterday’s game between Crystal Palace and Blackpool offered the Eagles’ sternest test of the season so far. Holloway’s men can consider themselves unlucky to have been relegated from the Prem last year and although they’ve lost a few top players, the Tangerines will be pushing to go straight back up again. If CPFC really are going to end up in the top half of the table instead of facing yet another relegation battle, the game offered a fascinating litmus test for the hopes of the supporters. In the end it was a right old ding-dong of a contest. Blackpool took the lead, Palace then deservedly equalised and both sides could have won it during the cut ‘n’ thrust of the final stages. I feel heartened about the prospects of my beloved football club. Time for a nice curry and more alcohol… f**k the diet for another day.
It’s lunchtime as I type and I’ve just returned from a second visit to Selhurst in 24 hours, this time clutching tickets for Palace’s away game with arch rivals Br***ton & Homo Albion on Sept 28. They’re as rare as a sensible statement from Mark ‘I Don’t Like Journey’ Kentfield. With the gruesome prospect of cleaning up the upstairs shower area once I’ve finished a day of working my office, acquisition of these golden tix makes me very happy indeed. Bring it on!!!!! Let's stuff it up the Tesco Carrier Bag wearers.
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Saturday 27th August
Well, the Sky TV box has been reactivated and a sense of calmness is gradually starting to descend upon Ling Towers. And oooooooh look… a new four-CD boxed set from Nazareth has just dropped onto my desk. Titled ‘The Naz Box’, it covers 1971-2011 and features two hours worth of unreleased material. Nice!!
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Friday 26th August
Well, the worst day of my life is over. The removals fan arrived at 8am and within a couple of hours the house was a shell. Bob the dog, who barks the place down whenever visitors arrive, was unusually quiet; obviously aware that something significant was going on. Managed to get through the day, largely thanks to Classic Rock’s Sept 14 issue being on production deadline. My good friends Harj Kallah and Andy Beare dropped by during the evening to ensure that I wasn’t alone, which was nice of them. We had a really pleasant evening with lots of conversation, laughter and booze. I’m still slightly agog at The Beare’s revelation of: “Women are so f**ing weird, sometimes I wish I was gay. It would make life a lot easier.”
Looking on the bright side: Things can only get better from here. Anyway, my weekend looms. I must try to balance a Crystal Palace home game with the writing of a large piece on the Firefest for Issue #4 of Classic Rock Presents AOR. Of equal importance is the cleaning of Ling Towers and the replacement of various household implements and furniture that whisked their way up the M1 (and henceforth the M6). I shall be renting out a room within a month or so (anybody interested in sharing a large, pleasant family house in South London, with easy connections to the West End then don’t hesitate to get in touch – serious offers only pls). And try not to think of me with mop and feather duster in hand, LOL! Now **there’s** a mental image to mess with your head…
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Wednesday 24th August
Yaayy! Crystal Palace are safely through to the second round of the League Cup, having overcome dogged resistance from Crawley Town. But for poor finishing the visitors could have been two up by half time. Freedman made changes after the break and the Eagles were good value for their 2-0 victory. A clash with Wigan - AKA CPFC Reserves - beckons on September 13. That's four consecutive wins - WTF??!!
If I sound buoyant, well. I'm not. Quite the opposite. My boys leave for their new lives in Manchester tomorrow. The Crawley game was my last with my Sports Bud son Eddie for a few weeks. Here's a nice photo of us taken at Fortress Selhurst during last night's half-time interlude.
Apologies in advance should I fail to scribble any more of this bulls**t for the next few days.

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Tuesday 23rd August
This is highly embarrassing - I **still** cannot get my BlackBerry to function. You are definitely some sort of technophobe when your sons, aged 14 and 12, have to set the thing up for you, and the bloody interweb remains out of bounds. Well, I **can** access various websites but the thing refuses to let me download my emails. Hummmmph. However, I have managed to log on for the free BB message service, which is kinda cool. I can now 'ping' messages back on forth to my two lads with maximum speed and minimum fiscal remuneration.
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Monday 22nd August
I’ve been transcribing a fairly lengthy interview that I did recently with bassist Michael Anthony for Classic Rock’s specially themed magazine on Chickenfoot, which lands on September 27. I’ve been given a sizeable word-count, which is fortunate as despite being a fairly modest guy Anthony had quite a lot to say for himself. The interview was certainly conducted in great spirits. When at one point Mike referred unthinkingly to his former group Van Halen as a “well oiled-machine”, I interrupted the conversation to point out the lovely Freudian slip he’d let go (obviously, Edward Van Halen has a well-documented history of problems with alcohol). “Ha-ha-ha, um… yeah. Well spotted,” he guffawed in response.
Actually, I’m extremely impressed by Chickenfoot’s second album, which the band have somewhat bizarrely entitled ‘Chickenfoot III’. It represents a huge improvement upon their self-titled debut, the songs from which sounded great when performed live but at times were far too obviously the glorified product of extended jam sessions. This time there’s a sense of cohesion that was sorely lacking last time around.
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Sunday 21st August
The hoodoo is banished and I’m feeling Glad All Over! Yesterday’s 1-0 victory at Hull City was Crystal Palace’s first triumph away from Selhurst since last October, elevating the club to fourth in the table. Of course you can't read anything serious into the league positions after just four games, but The Eagles haven’t won three consecutive matches in more than two and a half years, and with the Seaweed and Clowns both blowing 2-0, that makes for a great day in my book!
Saturday night was spent in my office drinking vodka and diet cream soda (!!), listening to ‘Mightier Than The Sword’, the two-disc Ronnie James Dio career overview, and White Widdow’s excellent sophomore disc ‘Serenade’ (due for release on September 23), leafing through the family photo albums and scanning in some of my favourites before they are split down the middle. I stumbled upon this rather silly pic of myself with Robert Plant from the Canterbury Fayre festival in 2003. Taken over the course of a long day’s drinking on my part, it’s hardly the most flattering shot of Percy or yours truly, which is probably why I chose to forget all about it till now, but it’s not every day that you get involved in a gurning contest with such a legendary name in rock music, is it?
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Saturday 20th August
I love the fact my job brings me into contact with some truly fascinating people. I’d spent the last few days emailing the legendary singer Arthur Brown, best known for his chart-topping 1968 hit ‘Fire’, with a view to a phone interview that finally took place last night. As we nailed down a mutually agreeable time, Brown (who was spending a few days in Texas ahead of an imminent UK tour with Focus) enquired: “To avoid CIA coverage, can we speak Hindi?” And as I prepared to replace the receiver, having uttered all the usual pleasantries about thinking him for his time etc, he emitted a howl of: “Yeeeeeeeee-haaaaaah!” that (I’m guessing) sounded a bit like the mating call of a wounded mouse. Strange fella…
How fuggin’ exciting! I’ve received a watermarked promo of the hotly-awaited Machine Head album, ‘Unto The Locust’. After a first spin I can only breathlessly echo the pant-wetting comments already plastered all over Facebook by my colleagues Alex Milas, Jerry Ewing and Vanessa Thorpe. As the world will discover on October 24, this album simply **crushes**…
Equally cool (to me, at least), Edsel Records have mailed a package that contains expanded two-on-one editions of the first eight Doobie Brothers albums (1971’s ‘The Doobie Brothers’ through to 1978’s ‘Minute By Minute’), none of which I’ve owned on CD before. Oh yessssssss!
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Friday 19th August
A splendid time was had at last night’s show from Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell, the much-travelled and very persistent Brit guitarist who has played with Bad Company, Humble Pie, Paul Samson’s Empire and Adrian Smith & Project among many other acts. Being a ‘free’ unplugged concert, the location – a West End pub called Porterhouse – was crammed with office worker-types that didn’t seem to realise (or indeed really care) that a rock band had been engaged to play some music for them, which was bit weird. I found it quite hard to ‘zone out’ the constant buzz of chatter, but the music was great. Colwell was backed by Paul Guerin of the Quireboys and an Irish lead singer named Ronan who had a superb and extremely versatile set on tonsils. Then, again he needed them as besides some very creditable material from Colwell’s album ‘Guitars, Beers & Tears’ the set included material voiced by Paul Rodgers (Bad Co’s ‘Feel Like Making Love’, ‘Seagull’ and ‘Shooting Star’, plus ‘All Right Now’ by Free), Spike (‘Seven O’Clock’ by the QBs), Chris Robinson (the Crowes’ ‘She Talks To Angels’), Bon Scott (‘Highway To Hell’ by AC/DC), Rod Stewart (The Faces’ ‘Ooh La-la’), Dan Baird (‘Keep Your Hands To Yourself’ by the Georgia Satellites) and even Bruce Stringbean (‘Better Days’). ’Twas a first-rate evening…
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Thursday 18th August
I’m walking with a bit of a limp. I’d felt my right calf go ‘ping!’ during last week’s CPFC Fitter fans, but it felt okay again the following day and 48 hours later I was out jogging once again. Problem sorted? Sadly, no. As we played five-a-side during Week Eight the same muscle went once more, only three times more painfully than during the last session. Ho hum. Perhaps I’m not cut out for such a life of physical exertion after all…
Afterwards, as I sat in my office with a packet of frozen peas clamped to the offending limb, I blasted out a couple of brand new releases from Europe. ‘Live! At Shepherd’s Bush, London’ is an excellent-sounding audio/DVD package of a fairly recent gig that I attended at the Empire (See Diary, February 20). There’s also a wonderfully packaged Book/CD/DVD entitled ‘Live Look At Eden’ which offers 140 pages of photographs by Denis O’Regan, plus selected tracks from the band’s last world tour and a DVD of their performance at the iTunes Festival, also in London. Oh, Mr Tempest and company… you are spoiling us!
I’ve bought myself a Blackberry. With its free messaging service for fellow BB users I figured it would be useful for communicating with my two sons, who both have the same phones. Now all I’ve got to do is figure out how the bloody thing works. Puzzlingly, when I swapped over the SIM card I realised that all of my texts had been erased, except the two exultant offerings sent by Joe Elliott when Crystal Palace relegated Sheffield Wednesday… back in May 2010! And if any of my BB-wielding fans can explain how to get onto the internet and collect my emails, there are a few pints of foaming ale to be claimed.
What is world coming to? Everybody knows that the French are partial to urinating in the streets, but the news that actor Gerard Depardieu (the increasingly porksome star of the Green Card movie) revolted fellow passengers by taking a oui oui in the gangway of a plane takes things to new, cochon-like lows. Oi! Froggy, use the lavatory next time, you plum!
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Wednesday 17th August
It was a bittersweet moment. With the rest of the Ling Clan set to relocate to Manchester at the start of next week, last night’s clash between Crystal Palace and Coventry was the last time that I’ll take Eddie to Selhurst Park for quite a while. The Eagles made it a memorable night, dominating the contest with some lovely passing moves yet somehow contriving to go behind just after the break thanks to a rare gaffe from ’keeper Speroni. Frustration built but just as 90 minutes expired, CPFC’s persistence paid off with an equaliser by Shaun Scannell, followed by an even more dramatic winner six minutes into injury time! The Home Of Football – and both Lings! – went absolutely bonkers! The Eagles soar up to sixth! Yes……!
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Tuesday 16th August
Yesterday evening’s interview with Pat McManus was great fun; upon arrival I sat in the bar of his hotel and chinwagged for best part of an hour, catching up on old times with Pat and his wife Sallie, before finding a quiet corner in which to spend an equal amount of time raking over the minutiae of Mama’s Boys and their history. The time just few by! Can’t wait to write the story.
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Monday 15th August
In advance of a face to face interview with their former guitarist Pat McManus, who is here in London for a few days, I’m spinning a few of my old Mama’s Boys vinyl platters. What an absolutely amazing record 1985’s ‘Power And Passion’ was. All these years later, I remain incredulous that the sublime boogie of ‘Needle In The Groove’ didn’t provide the three Irish brothers with the hit they deserved. ‘Growing Up The Hard Way’, the one they made two years later with current Airrace man Keith Murrell on lead vocals, has also withstood the test of time.
Save for a lunchtime break when I took Eddie to McDonalds (Arnie was away at a sleepover), my Sunday was spent chained to a hot PC. Later on, as I flicked through the new issue of Classic Rock, I was stunned to see an advertisement for a gig by Air Supply at the Jazz Café on September 15. Best known for the über-ballad ‘All Out Of Love’, a song that makes Bread sound like Meshuggah, the Aussie soft-rock duo are a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine, and I’ve never seen them before.
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Sunday 14th August
Hang out the bunting and crack open the nearest cold six-pack: Having walloped India by an innings and 242 runs, England’s cricketers are now officially the world’s number one test mach side. After beating the Aussies home and away, then making the Indians look like part-timers, the title is very much deserved. As I sit here in my office grooving along to Universal Records’ re-mastered, expanded re-issues of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Black Rose’ and ‘Bad Reputation’ albums (my thanks for which go to my long-time boozing buddy Steve Hammonds – a top fella for a Br***ton fan) and still basking the in the glory of CPFC’s fine 2-0 home victory over Burnley, the world is a happier place than it’s been during the last few weeks.
[Edit: Funnily enough I've just been doing a phone interview with Mark Thompson-Smith, singer of the band Big Life, who it turns out supports... Burnley! Great timing, hahaha!].
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Saturday 13th August
To say that England are in firm control of the Third Test would be an understatement akin to the revelation that one or two anal dickheads inhabit the Status Quo message board. I was sorry that Cook missed out on his triple-century at Edgbaston, but with England declaring on a whopping 707-7, followed by Sehweg going for a king pair, India are staring right down the barrel of a humiliating defeat.
I took a break from the 5 Live commentary to conduct a phone interview with Steve Newman, the guitarist, singer, songwriter and namesake of the band Newman, for the new issue of Classic Rock Presents AOR. Newman’s seventh album, ‘Under Southern Skies’, is a robust and crisp slice of melodic hard rock, coloured with a slightly pomp-esque feel, and Steve is one the genre’s all-round good guys. But when he admitted that he almost became a footballer instead of a musician, having been invited to a trial for Br***ton & Homo Albion, I almost hung up the receiver in disgust. C’mon, it’s hardly the ideal icebreaker for an Eagles diehard such as myself…
Talking of which, after a quick jog through the park with Bob The Dog, Eddie and I will be off to Selhurst Park for the first home game of the season. Even at the ripe old age of 32 (cough…), I still feel a tingle of excitement on a match day.
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Friday 12th August
The past 24 hours have been a bit of a boogie-fest. The postman has delivered a finished copy of Spider’s double-anthology ‘The Singles Collection 1976-1986’, released by Lemon Recordings and featuring sleeve notes from yours truly. Collated by Steve Leslie, it’s a fine piece of work that I hope will perhaps cause some to reassess the band’s legacy – Disc Two offers an especially strong collection of material. It would also be nice if Lemon Recordings gave consideration to awarding a belated second chance to the band’s excellent third album, 1986’s ‘Raise The Banner’, which remains a collector’s item after the label charged with releasing it went bust.
During the evening I was among the 310 lucky punters to witness a super-intimate performance given by Status Quo for listeners of Radio 2. It was highly amusing to witness staff at BBC Radio Theatre handing out free earplugs before the show’s commencement. Introduced by host Johnny Walker and scheduled to play for exactly an hour, Quo crammed in three songs from the new ‘Quid Quo Pro’. Some moaning minnies at the Quo forum have laid into the band’s playing and singing, but they sounded great to me. From up in the balcony alongside my chums Andy Beare, Noel Buckley and Mark Taylor, Andy Bown’s keys were virtually inaudible… great! Once the show went off air Walker suggested that Quo could have played an encore. They stubbornly declined to do so… which I thought stank. It was pretty shocking to see the band play a gig that didn’t include ‘Rocking All Over The World’ or ‘Bye Bye Johnny’, but then again as my friend Colin Harkness, Spider’s rhythm guitarist/singer, pointed out by text: The first rule of rock ‘n’ roll is always to leave them wanting more.
Here’s the set-list: ‘Caroline’, ‘Somethin’ ’Bout You Baby I Like’, ‘Rain’, ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll And You’, ‘Two Way Traffic’, ‘Let’s Rock’, Medley: ‘Mean Girl’/‘Softer Ride’/‘Beginning Of The End’, , Medley: ‘What You’re Proposin’’/‘Down The Dustpipe’/‘Little Lady’/‘Red Skies’/‘Dear John’/‘Big Fat Mama’, ‘In The Army Now’, ‘Roll Over Lay Down’, ‘Down Down’ and ‘Whatever You Want’.
I was sorry to learn of the death of ex-Warrant frontman Jani Lane, an extremely gifted songwriter but a troubled dude. 47 years old? Sheesh, that’s young. I hope that he finds peace.
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Thursday 11th August
Despite a few aching muscles this morning, week #7 of CPFC Fitter Fans was probably the best session for far. We played five-a-side football opposite the club’s training ground in Beckenham – great fun! Barring messing around in the park with my sons, I hadn’t kicked a ball in anger in… ooooh… maybe ten years. Felt a tweak in my right calf 20 minutes before the end of an hour-long workout which brought out the competitive edge in my pal Steve ‘No Relation’ Way, who scored several quality goals and even performed Speroni-esque heroics during his turn between the sticks. Me? I’ve never been a good footballer; I just enjoy playing the game. At 10 stone 13 lbs (I was 11.06 during the first week) I’m probably the fittest and lightest that I’ve been in my adult life; I was proud of the fact that I ran from start to finish and never gave up a tackle in midfield, also for setting up some chances for other more gifted (and indeed extroverted) players. Looking forward to next week’s session…
Whilst transcribing an interview with Toby Hitchcock, the lead singer of Pride Of Lions who is about to release an absolutely fantastic solo record titled ‘Mercury’s Down’ that was written and produced by Erik Mårtensson of W.E.T./Eclipse fame, I kept an ear on proceedings in the Third Test between England and India. After bowling out the tourists for just 224, then notching 84 runs without the loss of a wicket, Strauss’ men now stand on the precipice of being crowned as the world’s Number One test match side. I hope they retain as firm a grip on today’s proceedings. Meanwhile, a rather naff-looking video for Toby Hitchcock’s song ‘This Is The Moment’ can be viewed here.
The fellas in The Treatment are extremely happy. Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx has been tweeting about his love of the band’s new single, ‘Drink, F**k, Fight’. What an honour.
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Wednesday 10th August
I was saddened to read an announcement that Jon Lord is taking a break from performing music to fight an unspecified form of cancer. Having interviewed him on several occasions I’m happy to confirm the consensus of opinion that the former Deep Purple/Whitesnake/PAL keyboard player is one of the true gentlemen of rock music. “I fully expect to be back in good shape next year,” says Lord, 70, in a posting at his site. My fingers and toes are crossed.
Last night passed relatively peacefully here in London, though there were skirmishes in Manchester, the midlands and across the country. Clearly, this is no longer about protesting the death of a man shot by police, it’s an exercise in bare-faced opportunism: the latest manifestation of a generation that wants something for nothing and will stop at nothing to get it. You want that plasma TV? Just f**king take it!! So f**k the idea of the police and their water cannons. Rubber bullets would provide better food for thought. This is just mindless vandalism and criminality, let’s nip it in the bud.
Talking of which, Selhurst Park was closed down early yesterday, apparently due to the threat of riots. I was intrigued to learn on one of the CPFC forums that last nite between 300 and 500 Scumwall and Clowntown supporters buried their differences to defend Eltham High Street. Perhaps more surprisingly still, in a further recreation of the Blitz Spirit, 200 Scumwall fans also gathered to ‘police’ certain areas in Bermondsey from undesirable elements (well, I suppose you could call them marginally less desirable than MFC thugs…), even going so far as to protect local shopkeepers while Old Bill did nothing. A Millwall fan called ‘blue2’ has appealed for Palace supporters to put old rivalries on hold and join them in their quest to “claim back our streets”, adding with uncharacteristic wit, that his club will be changing its infamous terrace anthem to: “No one loots [instead of ‘likes’] us… we don’t care.”
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Tuesday 9th August
For the third consecutive evening, many of London’s streets were taken over by rioters. Only this time the disturbances spread south of the river, towards Ling Towers. As I ate my tea, Sky News was broadcasting helicopter-filmed footage of cars ablaze in a usually quiet side-street adjacent to a previous residence in Lewisham. As the evening drew on the noise of emergency vehicle sirens and overhead choppers could be heard here in Catford. Luckily, that’s as bad as things got in this locale but still I felt a certain gnawing tension in the pit of my stomach, which was ratcheted up when a good friend texted to say she was terrified that her office in Croydon – a short bus-ride away – had been razed to the ground by arsonists (I pray to God that it isn’t so). In no mood to go to bed just yet, I sat in my office and tried to focus my attention on Deep Purple’s rather excellent ‘Phoenix Rising’ documentary on DVD before going back to Sky News till almost 2am. Images of burning buildings in Croydon, raided department stores in Clapham Junction, looters in Hackney and snowballing regional skirmishes, along with the likely cancellation of tomorrow’s League Cup game between Palace and Crawley Town (also, more significantly, the Wembley Stadium friendly between England and Holland) made me more grateful than ever for the presence of Bob The Dog.
[Edit: A reason to be cheerful: Radio 2 have just invited me to “a live and exclusive Status Quo performance for the In Concert show” which takes place over at Broadcasting House. I can think of far, far worse ways to spend a Thursday evening!]
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Monday 8th August
“Hmmmm… the house is looking pretty bare,” I thought. “Better go and buy some records.” So as the future ex-wife continued packaging up prior to the rest of Clan Ling’s relocation to Manchester, for the first time in many, many months I visited the Orpington Record Fair. Returned with an Audrey Horne CD (‘No Hay Banda’) that I didn’t already own. Also picked up a collection of Carly Simon’s re-recorded greatest hits called ‘Never Been Gone’, a concert from the Supersuckers (‘Live At The Tractor Tavern, Seattle’) and purely on the grounds that it looked so darned ludicrous I splashed out a quid on a 1989 LP from Nitro, the US glamsters that were fronted by Lita Ford’s (now ex-) husband Jim Gillette, with guitar contributions from Michael Angelo. I bet it’s bloody terrible! The only other vinyl that seemed desirable and reasonably priced was a Colin Blunstone solo album from 1976, entitled ‘Planes’, that features guest appearances from Rod Argent, Russ Ballard and John Verity among others.
The Rock Candy Records re-issues of the first three Strangeways albums are here. As if the mighty ‘Native Sons’ wasn’t enough of a pant-wetting audio experience, Jon Astley’s 2011 re-master makes it sound better still. Whilst watching Palace’s game in Peterborough at the weekend I was hugely amused to have received a text from Tony Liddle, who sang on the group’s self-titled 1986 debut, hailing my good self as a “genius wordsmith” on the strength of my sleeve notes. Hehehe, thanks a lot Tone. The cheque’s in the mail…
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Sunday 7th August
On the plus side, my eldest lad Eddie has finally seen his first ever terrace surge – his face a mixture of terror, fascination and elation as Shaun Scannell’s lob prompted crazy scenes from CPFC’s travelling support. Palace took more than 3,000 fans up to yesterday’s game up at Peterborough United, and the atmosphere in the away end was just like old times. Regrettably, the sheer volume that we created did not galvanise the team, who capitulated during the second half, conceding the midfield to their opponents and leaking two goals to an ordinary-looking Posh side. I tried not to let Eddie know how crushed I felt; this had been a very winnable game in what looks like being another tough season. Following a few pre-match ciders consumed at a riverside pub, a bottle of wine and some crisps ‘n’ dips during the train journey home at least took the edge off my disappointment. F**k the diet for a day…
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Saturday 6th August
Iron Maiden’s gig at the O2 Arena was very special indeed. Since the returns of Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith in 1999, Maiden have exceeded all expectations with a run of truly fantastic records. Their appeal is now genuinely multi-generational. Last night, as the band broke into ‘Running Free’, Dickinson roared: “This is a song from 1979. Who wasn’t even alive in 1979?” The volume of the audience’s response said it all.
Introducing their new singer Marc Hudson, DragonForce had got the night off to a good start, their five-song, 40-minute set showcasing an unheard tune called ‘Cry Thunder’ that will appear next year on a new album. It started off in a bit of a Celtic vein before going all anthemic – quite a departure for DF, which at this point can probably only be a good thing.
It was a fascinating night for people-watching, especially in the row of seats occupied by the press. I’d love to know the identity of the fella that had his nose glued to a book about Chairman Mao right till the exact second the lights dimmed (even as everyone else in the O2 was going bonkers to Maiden’s intro tape of ‘Doctor Doctor’ by UFO), slumping back into his seat again after just four songs and leaving before the end – that’ll be a nice, objective review, then…
On the other hand, I was busy experiencing one of those ‘this-is-what-I-do-it-for’ moments, just as I expect to feel tomorrow at 2.55 as Crystal Palace run out onto the pitch to commence a new season.
Up on the stage the band couldn’t have been more energetic – somebody really should fit Janick Gers with a pedometer; the guitarist must cover miles in his little corner of the playing area. Meanwhile, Dickinson was in buoyant form; “It’s nice to gloat a little, after all the album [‘The Final Frontier’] did go to Number One in 25 countries,” he grinned. No wonder that Maiden played so much of it, or indeed the dearth of complaints at hearing five of its selections. Here’s the set-list: ‘Satellite 15… The Final Frontier’, ‘El Dorado’, ‘2 Minutes To Midnight’, ‘The Talisman’, ‘Coming Home’, ‘Dance Of Death’, ‘The Trooper’, ‘The Wicker Man’, ‘Blood Brothers’, ‘When The Wild Wind Blows’, ‘The Evil Of Man U (Goes On And On)’, ‘Fear Of The Dark’ and ‘Iron Maiden’, plus ‘The Number Of The Beast’, ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ and ‘Running Free’.
Still beaming idiotically, I attended the after-show party awhile. Fellow revellers included John Arch and Jim Matheos (see Diary, Thursday). FM’s Merv Goldsworthy was also present, along with the band’s stage manager Steve Church, who informed me gleefully that earlier during the evening his beloved Luton Town had stuffed QP-Haha in a pre-season friendly. How hilarious! I almost texted some abuse to Hoops fan Pete Jupp but luckily thought better of it…
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Friday 5th August
I’m excited. Not only does a brand new football season commence in a little over 24 hours – eldest lad Eddie and I will be among the CPFC faithful at the away game with newly promoted Peterborough – I’ve also just spent a half-hour sifting through my wardrobe in search of for the perfect apparel for tonight’s Iron Maiden gig at the 02 Arena. F**k me, I didn’t realise how many Maiden T-shirts I’ve collected down the years! There must be at least 25, and that’s without going through the entire collection. I’m torn between a nice, snug grey number from the ‘Number Of The Beast’ tour – haven’t been able to wear that one for many, many years! – and a cool-looking souvenir of The Holy Smokers gig, a secret show at the Woughton Centre in Milton Keynes that kicked off the band's 1990 world tour. Maybe I’ll toss a coin!
[Edit: I’ve been asked to select and write about six of Sammy Hagar’s definitive solo releases for Classic Rock’s upcoming Chickenfoot Fan Pack magazine. Am currently spinning my cherished red vinyl edition of the live album ‘Loud And Clear’, which is setting me up for what the Red Rocker would call a ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Weekend’. Besides barnstorming, anthemic moments such as ‘Turn Up The Music’ and ‘I’ve Done Everything For You’, Hagar’s version of Donovan’s ‘Young Girl Blues’ is absolutely fantastic; I’d almost forgotten…].
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Thursday 4th August
As I sit here in my office soaking up the delights of ‘Sympathetic Resonance’, the full-length debut from Arch/Matheos, it’s teeming with rain. Which is annoying, as I will no doubt be soaked to the skin whilst heading off to central London for a face-to-face rendezvous with the two men at the heart of its creation; former Fates Warning singer John Arch and the band’s current guitarist Jim Matheos. It’s a great album – I love the epic track ‘Stained Glass Sky’. Here’s hoping the conversation will be a little more upbeat than this grim weather.
Wooo hooo – my ticket for tomorrow’s Iron Maiden gig at the O2 Arena arrived last night on a bike courier as I was at Selhurst Park for another Eagles Fitter Fans session. Prior to the physical activities, which felt particularly gruelling in the evening’s unbelievably humid conditions, we were administered some handy advice about the way that alcohol affects the diet (and indeed the lifestyle) of the typical male. I was gobsmacked to learn how little alcohol one can consume and be termed a ‘habitual drinker’. Believe me, I don’t take a drink every day – far from it; these days it’s maybe around once a week – but the official definition of a ‘binge’ session (three pints of cider at three units a time) is scarcely comparable to my own more liberal estimation of the term. I cannot watch CPFC in a state of sobriety, and I doubt I ever will…
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Wednesday 3rd August
Although yesterday was swelteringly hot, the conditions didn’t prevent me from nipping out for a late-afternoon run. During the evening, Eddie and I jumped on a bus to Palace’s pre-season friendly game at Bromley. Star names were a little thin on the ground but both teams gave everything to their respective causes and it was great to sit behind the Bromley goal in the second half during a gorgeous crimson sunset, as a young Eagles side stepped up their game, coming from behind to win 2-1. Kicking towards us after the break, CPFC’s second strike was marvellous to behold, Sekajja passing the ball into the net past a despairing keeper after being put through by Williams. I repeat: Some of these kids play with absolutely no fear, and they deserve a chance during the coming term…
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Monday 1st August
I’m writing a story on Machine Head and their meteoric rise to fame with the ‘Burn My Eyes’ album back in 1994. As an employee of RAW Magazine I covered them quite a lot on the way up, and going back to those heady days made me nostalgic enough to pull the Oakland-based band’s near-legendary six-song demo cassette from the racks (it contains ‘Death Church’, ‘Old’, ‘The Rage To Overcome’, ‘A Nation On Fire’, ‘(Intro) Real Lies’ and ‘Fuck It All’ – the latter eventually re-christened as ‘Block’). It’s great to see that, after a period in which the band could have gone tits up, Robb Flynn and Adam Duce are still going stronger than ever as Machine Head. Given the crushing strength of 2007’s ‘The Blackening’, I’m looking forward to their newie, ‘Unto The Locust’, which is due in September.
P.S. Here’s this month’s Playlist and YouTube.