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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Saturday 31st December
Last night, the former (and possibly future?) Genesis drummer Phil Collins was in the hotseat of BBC's Room 101. If you've not seen this show before, it's basically a forum for guests to rant and moan about things in life that wind them up. Collins was surprisingly witty, lambasting wig-wearing TV evangelists (a phenomenon that inspired Genesis' 'Jesus He Knows Me'), the trend of all-too-revealing men's swimming trunks, over-zealous instruction manuals and those infuriating list rundowns that saturate our small screens (100 Best ManUre Goals, my ass). Best of all though, Phil ended the show by savaging one of my own pet hates, the vile Oasis. "They're just horrible and rude," he stated. "And they're not as talented as they think they are." If anything, the Gallagher siblings got off lightly. For my money, Oasis are now as repetitive, ego-ridden and lame as the arse end of the Collins-era of Genesis, which is indeed saying something.
And there's more good news. If Sky Sports News are to be believed, Coventry, Plymouth, Bristol City, Swansea and MK Dons are all lining up transfer window bids for misfit Palace forward Wayne Andrews. For the right price - a WH Smith book token, a one day Travelcard or perhaps a half-eaten sausage roll - the poor fella must get on his bike.
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Thursday 29th December
Phew. Palace played poorly last night against a Derby County side that packed the midfield but (thankfully) had no cutting edge. Despite some of our own team playing out of position and the efforts of the latest unspeakably bad referee to visit Selhurst, a second 2-0 victory on the spin catapulted Dowie's men right back into the Play Off places.
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Tuesday 27th December
The life of a freelance music writer ain't necessarily all you think it is. While most people are still munching way on leftover turkey and/or overdosing on crap TV, yours truly has trudged through the snow to my office at the end of the garden. I'm here to continue work on three features and a selection of albums and DVD reviews for completion by January 3. It's a good job I love my vocation.
Congratulations to the mighty Eagles, who yesterday returned to form by blasting two goals past the Tractor Boys of Ipswich in what sounded like a fairly comfortable win. I've just seen Michael Hughes' 35-yard rocket for the second goal, and it was an absolute beaut. The only black marks were the silly dismissals (and subsequent suspensions) of John Macken and Ben Watson. Let's have more of the same - except the dismissals of course - against Derby tomorrow please, fellas. Despite those imminent copy delivery dates, expect the pre-match drinking to commence a little early.
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Monday 26th December
It's Boxing Day and despite my self-assertion to take Palace less seriously, I'm chewed up inside about this afternoon's away game with Ipswich Town. I switch on the computer to another installment of offers of Viagra, penis enhancement, painkillers, e-Diets, Oriental ladyboys, bent computer software, watches and dodgy insider trading info, all despatched over the previous two days - don't these people have anything better to do with their fuggin' lives? There was at least one pleasant, personal message from Leslie West, advising that there will be a Mountain tour in May. Anyway... if you're reading this, I hope you had a great Christmas Day. I've saved my pressie of the new CPFC centenary shirt to wear at 3pm. Come on you Super Eagles!!!
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Saturday 24th December
Just got back from seeing King Kong with Mrs L and the lads. What can I say except that this remarkable piece of cinematic genius is worth every cent of the reported $200 million it cost to make. It might take almost an hour of the movie for the real action to begin, but during the last two-thirds it's almost impossible to look away. Don't miss it.
Happy birthday to Lemmy Kilmister, who turns 60 today. It's incredible to think that half of that time has been spent with Motörhead. It was recently pointed out that had Lemmy lived a 'normal' life, he could now be retiring. I just don't see him swapping those white boots for pipe and slippers anytime soon. Apart from collaping on stage from dehydration (he later reluctantly agreed to start taking ice in his Jack Daniel's), 2005 was a good year for the Lemster. He received the inaugural Living Legend Award at the Classic Rock Awards, and his band are still one of the most potent live acts around. Long may he rock.
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Friday 23rd December
What on earth is Michael Schenker thinking? The former UFO guitarist is reknowned for eccentricity, and of late for a troubled personal life, but in order to validate his decision to cancel an upcoming US tour Schenker has posted a series of sensitive emails at his website [go to the section called 'To my true fans']. This spider's web of claims and counter-claims is fascinating, in a car-crash kinda way. These warts 'n' all revelations should certainly not be viewable by everyone with a computer. Accused of missing a child support payment, it seems that jail is an option should he tread on Stateside soil.
Meanwhile, two of his precious guitars have been pawned for $1,000. But besides various marital comments and even accusations of blackmail, the message in which Michael's daughter Essenz suggests she and her mom will lose their house (AGAIN!) is the most disturbing. It saddens me that Schenker's world is this vicious and complicated, and perhaps it goes some way to explaining his fragile state of mind.
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Thursday 22nd December
Uggghhhh. Feeling groggy today. Not for the usual alcoholic reasons, I've come down with the same lurgy that affected Mrs L and the Linglets last week. Was even unable to attend Hawkwind at the Astoria last night, which is a big shame as I love seeing them and they'd asked me to make an award during the show. Wouldn't have looked too good to chunder on anyone's shoes, so I stayed home and was in bed by 9pm. Barring a Lazarus-style recovery, I'll probably miss out on Mostly Autumn at the Islington Academy tonite, too.
On a happier note, I've just learned that former Palace midfielder Geoff Thomas is staging a re-run of the legendary 1990 Cup Final between the Eagles and ManUre, with all proceeds going to leukaemia research. It takes place at Selhurst on March 26, and besides tempting many of the players out of retirement, original managers Steve 'The Messiah' Coppell and Alex Vile Fergiescum will lead the players out onto the pitch. Thomas is in remission from myeloid leukaemia and last year raised £170,000 by completing all 2,200 miles of the Tour De France. He's an example to us all.
P.S. Great news that Quo's Rick Parfitt received the all-clear following his throat cancer scare. His two growths were removed by laser surgery.
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Tuesday 20th December
For two very different reasons, this morning finds me both chuffed and bemused. I'm ecstatic to learn that Foreigner have confirmed a concert at London's Shepherds Bush Empire on June 30 - their first British show since playing the Marquee on the 'Unusual Heat' tour in the summer of 1991. Lou Gramm was absent back then and sadly remains so, but present frontman Kelly Hansen (Hurricane / Unruly Child) is a decent replacement, and just about any band that includes bassist Jeff Pilson and drummer Jason Bonham will be worth seeing. Further good news: the reunited Celtic Frost have announced some live dates, though as yet there's nothing in the UK.
My bemusement/amusement is at Crystal Palace manager Iain Dowie's latest quote on Eagles midfield general Ben Watson, who could apparently become as good as Steven Gerrard or Paul Scholes if he learns "the uglier side of the game". By that Dowie must mean putting in some tackles or notching a few extra goals. I'd rather our so-called dead ball specialist learned to take corners without smashing them directly onto the first defender's head, or free kicks that don't just bounce back off the wall. But then this hypothesis comes from someone who last season likened Tom Soares to Patrick Viera - sheesh.
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Sunday 18th December
Still seething after yesterday's trip to watch Crystal Palace's inevitable capitulation to Plymouth Are Gargoyles. After a haul of more than five hours, the Eagles went 1-0 down after just 11 seconds then shipped another in injury time. Bouncebackability seems a very distant concept indeed. It wasn't the defeat that had me spitting bile and fury, but the manner in which the team accepted their fate. I've made a mental note to care a bit less in future; certainly until displays on the pitch equate with the passion that floods from the stands.
The return trainride was at least cheered by two huge lemon alcopops and a bottle of Baileys, plus recently acquired Status Quo re-issues ('Rocking All Over The World' through 'Never Too Late' - the latter an overlooked gem in the band's catalogue), and the rather splendid 'Roadrunner United' anniversary album.
Home at last I cracked open another bottle and perused the 'Dowie out' threads at the Palace bulletin board. Not too long ago such thoughts would've been heresy, but the team has played well on just a handful of occasions this term. Iain's tactics are flawed; he must stop playing his favourite alleged 'players' (hello Ben Watson, Fitz Hall, Tom Soares, hapless keeper Julian Spilloni and Wayne fuggin' Andrews) and axe the under-achievers. But most importantly he must instill some fire - losing to B****ton, Plymouth and (almost) Scumwall is unacceptable. I'd be astonished if we make the play-offs now, and Dowie's got till the end of the season to halt the slide.
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Saturday 17th December
How much fun did I have yesterday?! My Status Quo sleeve notes wrapped (I supplied the liners for '1+9+8+2' through 'Famous In The Last Century') and Classic Rock news pages done 'n' dusted, I slipped off early to the Record & Tape Exchange, then swigged some white wine in anticipation of a great show at the Borderline. Headlining were Kino, a group comprising members of It Bites, Marillion and Arena. There's also a Porcupine Tree connection, but last night drummer Chris Maitland was replaced by It Bites' Bob Dalton. Just about all of the quartet's must-own debut album 'Picture' was aired, plus It Bites classics 'Plastic Dreamer' and 'Kiss Like Judas'. During Marillion's 'Sugar Mice', that band's guitarist Steve Rothery stood on the stairs and attempted to look low-key. Also in the packed crowd were Geoffrey Downes and a fit and healthy-looking John Wetton. John's had a few well-documented problems, but when I congratulated him on (hopefully) turning the corner ahead of a Wetton-Downes UK tour in March, he cheerfully shrugged: "I couldn't got much worse than the last time you saw me". Keep it up, mate. Although Mr Downes was a guest on opening act Steve Thorne's thoroughly recommended debut CD 'Emotional Creatures Part One' (which also featured Nick D'Virgilio of Spock's Beard and Tony Levin), the keyboardist declined to join Thorn onstage, unlike IQ's Martin Orford who played flute on 'God Bless America'.
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Friday 16th December
You could say it's ironic that Arch Enemy delayed these UK dates due to trouble securing ideal support bands. Why? Well, replacement special guests Strapping Young Lad made them earn their money at the Astoria last night. Like some bizarre biological mutation of a geography teacher, Jesus and ex-Kerrang! journo Paul Suter, Devin Townsend is a true madman, ranting and raving at the audience amid magnificently bonkers bouts of twisted cyber-metal. Strapping Young Lad specialise in maelstroms of ripping guitars, pulverising drums - pounded by ex-Death Angel/Death man-mountain Gene Hoglan - and space-rock keys, but you don't analyse them; their music simply engulfs you. (The evening begins with an impressive set from Throwdown, who play a mean version of Pantera's 'A New Level' in tribute to Dimebag Darrell).
But nobody steals Arch Enemy's thunder. Introducing new guitarist Fredrik Åkesson the headliners dig deep into the current 'Doomsday Machine' album with 'Nemesis', 'My Apocalypse', 'Taking Back My Soul', 'Hybrids Of Steel', 'I Am Legend'/'Out For Blood' and 'Skeleton Dance', though the best-received numbers of the night are 'Ravenous' and 'We Will Rise'. They depart to a quite ecstatic response, suggesting that popularity-wise they're still nowhere near peaking.
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Wednesday 14th December
Last night I trundled along to the Mean Fiddler to check out Bernie Marsden, Micky Moody and Neil Murray, collectively known these days as M3 Classic Whitesnake. Opening act Stray did a fine job of warming up a decent-sized crowd, before M3 took us back to the days before MTV put the skids under one of the world's greatest bands. Okay, Stefan Berggren is no David Coverdale, but the Swede did a more accurate than expected job on 'Hit An Run' and 'Crying In The Rain' (though 'Trouble' and 'Ready An' Willing' weren't so great). Funnily enough, when Marsden mentioned Coverdale's name whilst introducing 'Ain't Gonna Cry No More', the audience actually booed. Given that they'd cheered so heartily for 'Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues', 'Don't Break My Heart Again', 'Lonely Days Lonely Nights', 'Slow 'N' Easy', 'Fool For Your Loving', 'Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City' and 'Here I Go Again', the reaction felt a tad ungracious. However, one thing's for sure: Messrs Moody and Marsden remain among the finest guitar duos ever to grace a stage.
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Tuesday 13th December
Yesterday evening I met up for a quiet drink with my pal Malcolm Dome and our mutual acquaintance, ex-Ozzy Osbourne/Vince Neil bassist Phil Soussan. If you didn't know, Phil wrote Ozzy's 'Shot In The Dark', then formed the underrated Beggars & Thieves and for the past few years has played with Richie Kotzen, John Waite, Edgar Winter and more. I'd not seen him since a party at his house up in the Hollywood hills aeons ago, so it was great to hear a few stories - none of which he'd like me to repeat here. Soussan also has a rather good solo album called 'Vibrate', which features Kotzen and former David Lee Roth drummer Gregg Bissonette, plus Toto alumni Steve Lukather, David Paich, Simon Phillips and Steve Porcaro.
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Monday 12th December
Phew... thought that something was dreadfully wrong with me there for a minute. I've been really, really enjoying The Darkness' latest single, 'One Way Ticket'. I'd read the glowing album reviews and was willing to give them a fair chance second time around, fingers crossed that the silly shrill vocals would be scaled back, and hopefully for some musical progression. So I finally grabbed a copy of the 'One Way Ticket To Hell... And Back' album, but for all the band's good intentions it's glorified pub-rock. Freddie Mercury has scraped out more palatable winnets from his backside than the shambolic mess of 'English Country Garden', and let's not even discuss that woeful song about Scotland. I salute The Darkness for the shot in the arm they've given British rock, but the joke is now well and truly milked to death.
Glad to report that Quo's Rick Parfitt is keeping a stiff upper lip while awaiting news of his throat illness ("When the doctor said there was a tumour, I was terrified," Rick told the Sunday Mirror. "But it doesn't necessarily mean it's cancer"), though I was unaware he'd been puffing away at 20 cigarettes each day, even following his 1997 heart bypass operation. Silly boy.
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Sunday 11th December
Yesterday's 1-1 stalemate with Wolves was a pretty fair result. Both sides dominated the game for stretches, though Palace paid the price for not capitalising on their first half ascendency. Replacing our most inventive player, Dougie Freedman, with the ineffective John Macken, was the latest of Iain Dowie's baffling substitutions.
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Saturday 10th December
Well, I finally finished Martin Popoff's excellent book on Rainbow. Like Popoff's equally recommended companion UFO tome, English Castle Magic concentrates on the band's catalogue, examining things song-by-song and throwing in a few good anecdotes along the way. F'rinstance, I had no idea that Ritchie Blackmore took the group's name from the Rainbow Bar & Grill in Los Angeles, or that late drummer Cozy Powell had a sweet tooth ("He used to have a whole wardrobe full of chocolates," reveals Blackmore. "Kitkats, Crunchies, Mars bars... it was like a shop. He was like a little grannie") and certainly never put two and two together to twig that 'The Shed (Subtle)' from the 'Long Live Rock 'N' Roll' album was actually inspired by an area populated by neanderthals at the Stamford Bridge ground of Chelsea FC. Fascinating stuff.
Still on the topic of footie, England appear have been fortunate in their group for next year's World Cup. Last night we were paired with one of our bogey nations, Sweden, but the group was rounded out by Paraguay and Trinidad & Tobago. I'm now counting the days till June.
Hey, how cool is this?! Just received an email from Phil Manchester - better known to many as Didge Digital, the enigmatic former keyboard player of the mighty FM. Didge now has a website which is well worth checking out if like me you believe that 'Indiscreet' and 'Tough It Out' were among the finest albums ever made. Believe it or not, Didge currently has an Emerson Lake & Palmer tribute band called Black Moon. Sounds a lot better than True Blue, the now legendary Madonna covers act that he formed after departing FM.
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Friday 9th December
Yesterday... what ups and downs. In the evening I attended Magnum's gig at the Astoria, where the Brummie band once more ran through the classic 'On A Storyteller's Night' album in its 20th anniversary year. The robustly enjoyable set also included 'Backstreet Kid', 'Soldier Of The Line', 'Sacred Hour', 'Kingdom Of Madness' and more of their best songs, so several dry white wines were sunk. My buoyant mood was firmly pricked when informed in the Crobar that Status Quo had cancelled the remainder of their 40th anniversary UK tour "with immediate effect" while Rick Parfitt had his throat checked out. Having experienced a few problems singing, doctors in Plymouth found a growth that requires "urgent investigation". It's feared that the 57-year-old rhythm guitarist has a malignant tumour. My fingers are crossed that it's a false alarm.
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Thursday 8th December
Switched on Sky Sports News upon returning from last night's wonderful Porcupine Tree gig at the Shepherds Bush Empire. You've no idea how chuffed it made me to see Alex Fergiescum staring in stone-faced disbelief as Moan United crashed out of Europe. The sooner Old Trafford is bulldozed into a multi-storey car park, and their so-called 'fans' get back to supporting their local teams the better. Give Fergie the job for life, that's what I say.
Anyway, back to Porcupine Tree. In a testament to their sizeable catalogue, the band switched the set around a lot since their Astoria gig in April. It was curious that they would omit 'Shallow' but at least the brilliant 'Arriving Somewhere But Not Here' retained its place in the 105-minute performance. I also caught a large chunk of Robert Fripp's opening set of 'Frippertronics' - the King Crimson guitarist playing unaccompanied to a system of tape loops. The audience gave Fripp their silent admiration, and 40 minutes of instrumental music just seemed to fly by. PT's Steve Wilson's later got a laugh by quipping: "Robert's lost his voice, we hope it gets better tomorrow or the day after. It happened when he heard that Ozzy Osbourne had covered '21st Century Schizoid Man' - it just went."
P.S. Can it really be a year since the senseless murder of Dimebag Darrell? It's hard to believe, but true. RIP, Dime.
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Tuesday 6th December
I hate the bloody Scala. I've been to the central London venue for countless shows and have yet to see a band able to vanquish those pitiful, booming acoustics. Last night's openers, Withered, sounded so awful that I soon lost patience. Bloodsimple were a lot more enjoyable, and High On Fire vastly superior to the last time I saw them wa-a-a-y back at the Underworld. On that February 2003 evening, Mastodon were the lowly opening act and High On Fire the unknown headliners. Roles were reversed last night, confirming that next year Mastodon should become as enormous as the woolly mammoth from which they took their name - if they don't get screwed by their new major label deal with Warner Bros. Despite passing the curfew, a rammed-full Scala just wouldn't let 'em leave the stage, so they returned with the house lights on and played us a brand new song. Very cool indeed.
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Sunday 4th December
It's official: Palace are so rubbish we can't even beat a pub team. And what about Dermot Gallagher - such a great referee they named a skin disease after him. Yes, I'm still seething over various aspects of yesterday's game against a typically thud and blunder Scumwall XI, from which an injury time Ben Watson header rescued Palace a barely deserved point. Iain Dowie had made a brave/futile decision to drop Clinton Morrison, who may be a lazy twat but even while asleep is a better player than Wayne mother-fuggin' Andrews. And tell ya what, why don't we also leave out our most consistent performer, Darren Ward, against his former club? Those 'Dowie out' threads at the Palace bulletin board are becoming faintly more credible. It's the play-offs for the Eagles... at best. And I pray that those two points we stole from the SE16 knuckle-draggers send them in the opposite direction.
I then grabbed a bottle of el vino collapso and some spicy balti Bombay mix (a man's gotta eat!) en route to Camden for a rockin' Vaughn and Shy double-header. In their all-too-short 40 minutes Birmingham's own Shy surprisingly overlooked current disc 'Sunset And Vine', but aired three from penultimate disc 'Unfinished Business' ('Breakaway', 'Skydiving' and 'No Other Way'), plus golden oldies 'Emergency', 'When The Love Is Over', 'Can't Fight The Night' and 'Break Down The Walls'. An ex-member of Waysted/Tyketto, Danny Vaughn and his latest pick-up group dug deeper than usual into a rich catalogue. So besides staples like 'Wings To Fly', 'Is That All There Is?', 'Meet Me In The Night', 'Rescue Me', 'Fearless' and 'Forever Young', we got 'Heaven Tonight', 'Black And Blue', 'How The West Was Won' and 'Singing To The Night' from Waysted's 'Save Your Prayers' album (alas, minus the previous night's marauding guest appearance from Pete 'Still Detoxing... Honest' Way), 'Blessing In Disguise' and 'Nothing At All' from the 'From The Inside' project, three from Flesh & Blood ('Feel The Power', 'Blues For Daze' and 'Riverside'), plus 'Avalon', a track that Danny sang on Ten leader Gary Hughes' sword and sorcery rock opera 'Once And Future King'. Verily, 'twas a darned good night.
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Friday 2nd December
Boo, hiss! In the light of all the reunion speculation, Genesis have issued a statement via manager Tony Smith. It reads: "There are no decisions by Genesis to perform anywhere whatsoever at this time. This situation will not alter in the next twelve months." Hope for the future, then, but only if we're patient.
Lunchtime will be fun as I'm off to Planet Rock Radio to be interviewed for one of those 'Desert Island Discs' all-time Top Ten-style shows. It was quite a thrill to learn I'll meet Nicky Horne, a deejay whose evening rock show on Capital Radio introduced me to many of my fave bands during the 1970s. It was called Your Mother Wouldn't Like It. She didn't, but I certainly did.
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Thursday 1st December
How fabulous was yesterday?! In the afternoon I attended a preview of Iron Maiden's 'Death On The Road' live DVD (out on February 6). Edited by bassist Steve Harris over a four month period, it sounds and looks magnificent. While the 'Rock In Rio' DVD documented the sheer spectacle of an estimated 200,000 gathering, this one almost brings the Maiden concert experience to your living room. It was filmed at the Westfalenhalle in Dortmund, and if you close your eyes you can almost imagine the crowd's mosutaches and stripey spandex trousers. 'Death On The Road' is a potent reminder that Maiden are the greatest living heavy metal band - bar none.
I then went north to Kentish Town, where Opeth again delivered a top-notch show. It wasn't quite the religious experience of their September date at the Mean Fiddler, but for two hours and five minutes the Swedes literally owned the Forum stage. Mixing hardcore and atmospheric metal, opening act Burst got things off to a fine start, but as good as their new album 'Words That Go Unspoken, Deeds That Go Undone' might be, special guests Akercocke were a disappointment. They're undergoing growing pains and need to work out where they're headed. At the moment Akercocke not only look like two different bands grafted together, they also sound like it.