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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Tuesday 28th February
Has the world gone mad?! German captain Michael 'Never Mind The' Ballack is to receive £121,000 a week from a new deal with Chelski that starts next season. How on earth can that sum of money be justified? Is he also gonna double as this country's prime minister on his days off, or perhaps take some kind of training as a neurosurgeon? Maybe even rebuild my local chippie that got bombed during the war? Of course he's not. That he could demand such an obscene fee and receive it is little short of revolting.
Equally unlikely, it seems that John Payne, Guthrie Govan, Jay Schellen are to fulfill their summer gig commitments at the Sweden Rock Festival and Rock Of Ages all-dayer in Germany as Asia - but without Geoffrey Downes (and hence no original members)!! This is getting more surreal by the moment. I'm off for a lie down.
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Sunday 26th February
My beloved Palace slamming four goals past Norwich, Br***ton and Scumwall both slipping further into the mire, then off to Hammersmith for a sold-out Toto gig in the evening - it doesn't get much better than that. Surprisingly, Toto played 'Hold The Line' towards the start of a two-hour set that showcased several of the best songs from the new 'Falling In Between' album. Being the first night of the band's world tour they were a bit rusty in places, but most of my own personal faves were aired, including 'Pamela', 'Stop Loving You', 'Girl Goodbye', 'Isolation', 'I Will Remember', 'Rosanna', 'Kingdom Of Desire', a snippet of 'I'll Be Over You' and a stunning 'I Won't Hold You Back'. The encore of 'Home Of The Brave' and 'Africa' brought the house down.
Now here's a reality TV show I'll definitely watch: VH1 have teamed up five rockers (Scott Ian from Anthrax, Ted Nugent, Sebastian Bach, drummer Jason Bonham and ex-Biohazard bassist-turned-porn star Evan Seinfeld) with a well-known manager (the disgraced Doc McGhee, of Bon Jovi, Kiss and the Moscow Music Peace Festival fame) in a bid to record new music. It's a train-wreck in the making. I mean, of all the people you could be locked up in a house with for 10 days... Sebastian and the Nuge??!!
By the way, the Great Rock Quotes and Ask Dave sections have just been updated.
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Saturday 25th February
Well, there are seismic developments in the Asia camp. Firstly it's announced that Geoffrey Downes and John Payne have "dissolved their partnership", then we learn that bassist/vocalist Payne has remained with ex-Asia men guitarist Guthrie Govan and drummer Jay Shellen to form a new band called One. Clearly not intent on wasting time, this line-up plus Spock's Beard keyboard player Ryo Okumoto have already recorded a debut album, to be issued on May 26. Downes, of course, is to join John Wetton, Steve Howe and Carl Palmer in a reunion of Asia's classic original grouping. I've no idea how this has affected the long-term friendship of Downes and Payne. Of course I wish both sides well in their future endeavours, though it's a sad and rather shocking ending to a very underrated union.
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Friday 24th February
So it's finally official... Journey, Queensrÿche, Thunder and Ted Nugent have all been added to the Monsters Of Rock bill on June 3 (with one or two more acts still to be confirmed). Now that's what I call a freakin' festival! Never having seen Journey before, I'll admit that I can barely contain my excitement!
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Wednesday 22nd February
Quo's Francis Rossi has been talking about Rick Parfitt's health scare. "Rick told me he had cancer of the throat over dinner," he tells Undercover News. "Next time I saw him he was crying with our production manager. I was numb. Rick was sure he'd be dead within a week." Thank Gawd it turned out to be treatable.
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Tuesday 21st February
Just received MTM Records' re-issue of 1989's self-titled Alexa album. Sung by the mysterious sexpot Alexa Anastasia and produced by Paul Sabu, it remains an example of melodic hard rock at its finest. Also in the same package was 'Born Again', the long-awaited return from Warrant and their new singer Jaime St James (ex-Black 'N Blue). I'll hold fire on a verdict before its release date of March 31, as although the band have blatantly tried to recapture the feel of their heyday, it's a little too forced for me.
An album that grabbed me from its very first note was 'Above The Storm' (out on March 24), by former Survivor and current Pride Of Lions guitarist Jim Peterik. This fella is a tunesmith of the first order; if I wrote songs for a living I'd be issuing a fatwa on him right now. Jim ain't the world's greatest vocalist, but the tunes are so warm and personal that it just doesn't matter. On the other hand, Steve Overland does have one of the planet's best voices. The former FM mouthpiece releases a second Shadowman album, 'Different Angles', on March 10. Also featuring Chris Childs and Harry James from Thunder and Heartland guitarist Steve Morris, it's a slice of authorative, bluesy hard rock, stamped with the inevitable exemplary vocal performance.
Another album that's scarcely left Ling Towers' stereo this past week is the sensational debut from the The Jones Gang, featuring Kenney Jones (ex-The Who/Small Faces/The Law), Rick Wills (formerly of Foreigner/Frampton's Camel) and Robert Hart (erstwhile singer of Bad Company/The Distance). 'Any Day Now' is consistently strong and contains
several potential radio hits. Check 'em out at: www.jonesgangmusic.com.
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Sunday 19th February
Of course I'm still gutted about that 89th minute equaliser in yesterday's derby showdown. However, in the evening I attended my first ever gig by 70 art-rock loons Sparks, and what an experience it was. Russell Mael's falsetto is still magnificent, his brother Ron not only sitting at the keyboard but sending a packed Forum delirious with frequent bouts of goofing around. The two-hour show was divided in half; its first segment entirely devoted to the new album 'Hello Young Lovers'. The bombastic 'Dick Around' and ultra-hummable 'Perfume' soon had the audience gasping with admiration, the performance rarely anything less than compulsive (though the tedious 'Here Kitty' could have used some rat poison). Returning after a brief interlude, an impressive Sparks line-up that featured Steve McDonald from Redd Kross on bass and ex-Faith No More guitarist Dean Menta purred through some truly classic songs. It was hard not to be be caught up in the affection that flooded stagewards following 'This Town Aint Big Enough For The Both Of Us' and 'Amateur Hour'. I admit to thinking that they'd probably gone too early with those two classics from 1974, but an encore of 'Something For The Girl With Everything', 'Rhythm Thief', 'Suburban Homeboy' and the brothers duetting on 'Change' left me eating my words. Magnificent stuff.
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Saturday 18th February
People have asked all week whether I'm going to today's grudge match with vile local neighbours Scumwall. Although I happily trekked to Plymouth and their rusty 'fortress' is within walking distance from my house, I wouldn't give those in-bred twats the steam off my piss, let alone money for a ticket. In recent years, Palace have consistently underperformed against the knuckledraggers from down the road, our superior players bottling it when it came to a spell in the trenches. At least Iain Dowie is talking a good game: "I've told my players that if it's a battle, then win the battle. If it's a football match, then win the game - but I expect it to be the former." With crucial points at stake for both teams, this one has humdinger written all over it.
It was back to the Underworld again last night for a Relapse Records band that impressed me opening for the mighty Opeth last November. Burst are a Swedish quintet specialising is what they call "noise-core"; a highly textured extreme metal sound, overlain with clean melodic vocals and explosive screams. Sadly, the attendance was poor, as was the crowd's reaction. The 50-minute set concentrated on the latest (and third) album 'Origo', but while 'The Immateria', 'Sever' and the pacy 'Stormwielder' all sounded decent enough, Burst struggled unexpectedly to connect with the audience.
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Friday 17th February
Yesterday's highlight was a lunchtime album launch party at the Borderline for 'Skullduggery', the first new release in 18 years by The Pirates. The trio were on hand to run through a half-dozen of the album's songs, beginning with 'You Don't Own Me' (covered by Status Quo on 'Rockin' All Over The World'), 'Ugly Millionaire', 'Honey Hush' and 'Tear It Up', plus of course 'Shakin' All Over', their chart topper with Johnny Kidd from 1960. The half-hour show wound up with a scorching rendition of 'Baby Please Don't Go' that gave the excellent Mick Green a platform to showboat a little on guitar. Not having seen them since they opened at Hammersmith for the Bon Scott-era AC/DC, I'll definitely be checking out these fellas again. Besides a finished copy of the CD, their goodie bag contained an eye patch, skull & crossbone-emblazoned ballons, 7" single, various promo shenanigans and a DVD of Treasure Island - how cool!
P.S. Twisted Sister have lined up a date at Hammersmith on June 27 - yeeee-hawww!!
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Thursday 16th February
There's good news after Monday's moan - UFO have confirmed a summer festival appearance in late July at the 23rd annual Rock & Blues Custom Show in Derbyshire; the same event that they pulled out of last year. Some indoor Twisted Sister gigs in June are also about to be announced, and a few Scandianvian dates from Iron Maiden in November have already been leaked. Oh yeah... that Judas Priest story I alluded to a while ago is now common knowledge, and alongside the Scorpions and Ian Gillan & Friends, the band are to play a Teenage Cancer Trust fund-raiser at the Royal Albert Hall on March 31. Alas, Palace have a crucial home game with Watford on the same night... bugger, bugger and double-bugger.
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Wednesday 15th February
Phew! Last night Palace completed the 'double' over QP-hahahaha, but it was a close thing. Without the influential trio of Johnson, Reich and Riihilahti and handicapped by Wayne Andrews' inclusion (we may as well have given the Hoops a goal start), the Eagles deservedly raced into a 2-0 lead then in typical Palace fashion delivered one of their worst second half performances in living memory. Rangers pulled one back and, dragging us down to their level, we were forced to defend for our lives. I should probably be used to it by now.
As the game was underway, Parliament voted to ban smoking in all English pubs, clubs and members' clubs. Excellent news. It's a filthy, disgusting habit that seems to be on its last legs - not unlike Shiteon and Scumall's stays in the Championship.
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Tuesday 14th February
It's Valentine's day, and my two lads are off to school early to deliver their cards. Eddie's giving away five, and Arnie three. Hahaha, bless 'em.
I'm still fuming over last night's Helloween gig, a show I'd been anticipating for ages. Before it began I happened to bump into guitarist Michael Weikath walking around Camden, which was fortuitous as I had some re-issue sleeve notes to pass on for his approval. He had no English cash, so I took him for some grub and a pint or two - and some gossip - in an adjacent boozer. Come show-time, it all went pear-shaped. Entering Koko (formerly the Camden Palace, and for those with really long memories, The Music Machine), I located a place halfway back in the all-standing downstairs area - directly beneath the raised mixing desk. "The sound should be great here," thought I. Oh, how terribly wrong. Andi Deris' lead vocals were barely audible at the start, like Weikath and Sascha Gerstner's guitars swamped by Dani Loeble's furious double-bass drumming. I awaited improvement, but even half an hour later other fans around me were still scratching their heads. The 45 minute mark came and went and, frustration by now outbalancing the enjoyment factor, so did I. Helloween will have taken heart from the enormous turnout, but their soundman should have his ears de-waxed.

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Monday 13th February
Here are some words I thought I'd never type: I wish I was a German. I'm kidding of course, but check out the proposed line-up of this year's Rock Of Ages festival, which takes place in late July. UFO (to be confirmed), Twisted Sister, Asia, Andy Scott's Sweet and Gotthard. Then there's the Bang Your Head Festival with Y&T, Foreigner and former Triumph man Rik Emmett (playing an evening of that band's music). Sickeningly, this year's Sweden Rock looks more mouth-watering still. With Journey, Whitesnake (also at Bang Your Head), Deep Purple, Celtic Frost, DragonForce, Venom, Cactus (ulp!), Onslaught, Anvil, Krokus and Molly Hatchet all among its attractions, it makes you wonder what on earth the UK promoters are playing it... unless some tasty Monsters Of Rock news awaits.
Apart from listening to the commentary of Palace's away game at relegation-threatened Sheffield Wednesday - a dismal 0-0 draw that did neither team any favours - most of my past weekend was spent transcribing an interview with Helloween's Michael Weikath for a set of Sanctuary Recods re-issue sleeve notes. Managed to get 'Chameleon', 'Master Of The Rings' and 'The Time Of The Oath' knocked into shape, and made a good start on 'Better Than Raw'. Will hand 'em into the band for their approval at tonight's London gig.
Footie-wise, the Wednesday stalemate made me realise that short of a miracle, Palace ain't going anywhere this year. And of course then it's goodbye to AJ, so the club must re-structure... yet again. What a crock of shit. At least those hilarious defeats for Scumwall and Shite-on & Hove Albion cut them even further adrift at the other end of the table.
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Friday 10th February
No need for readers in Scotland or Wales to bother with today's post. With the World Cup in Germany racing towards us - as I type there are 119 days, 10 hours, 50 minutes and 21 seconds until the first kick-off - it was shocking to hear on the radio that the Kraüt plöd are planning to incarcerate England fans for up to two days for the heinous crime of... goose-stepping. Unbelievable but true. So glad that I shall be watching the tournament from the comfort of my living room - its window lit by an illuminated St George Cross that Mrs L so kindly purchased for me - as no doubt I would have accrued several lifetimes of jail time.
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Wednesday 8th February
Returning home from an icy Selhurst Park last night, I was left wondering why I'd squandered good money and almost frozen off the family jewels to watch Palace's dismal third clash with Preston in the space of 10 days. As we exited the FA Cup to virtually the last touch of the game, the visiting side having come back from a goal down, my first thought was: Hope we don't get these buggers again in the play-offs. They ain't as good a side as they obviously think they are - I lost count of the blatant fouls that went unpunished - but then again, neither are Palace right now.
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Tuesday 7th February
Last night I went to the Underworld to check out The Black Dahlia Murder, the Detroit-based death metallers whose 2003 debut album 'Unhallowed' was rather splendid, although their follow-up 'Miasma' was a little disappointing. The place was unexpectedly sold out; so darned full that you couldn't even get down onto the floor area before the show began. Amusingly, the place all but emptied when a clearly dehydrated Trevor Strnad eventually gasped "let's get the fuck outta here", the band's primarily young fans apparently never having heard of encores. So just a handful of people hung around to watch them blast through one of the night's best songs, 'Closed Casket Requiem'. Definitely a band of huge potential...
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Monday 6th February
Well, all hope of any further Pink Floyd reunions or indeed Floyd activity of any kind has been blown out of the water by the latest interview with David Gilmour. Speaking to a magazine called La Republica, the guitarist stressed that from now on he's strictly a solo cartist. "Enough is enough," he says. "I'm 60 years old and don't have the will to work as much anymore. Pink Floyd was an important part in my life, I've had a wonderful time, but it's over. It's much less complicated to work alone." Sigh...
Think I'll cheer myself up with a good blasting of a new three-CD anthology from the Scorpions. A promo of 'The Platinum Collection' just dropped through the letterbox, but is soon to be available via EMI.
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Sunday 5th February
Definitely a bit fragile this morning after Palace's 1-0 victory over Cardiff. All credit to Andy Johnson for the superb cross, and to Aki Riihilahti for being in the right place for a tap-in. At the final whistle, I grabbed a bottle of screw-top vino callapso and headed over to Hammersmith, ariving in time for an excellent though brief set from Roadstar (formerly Hurricane Party - do I have to keep typing that?!). The Apollo's balcony wasn't open, but downstairs was crammed and everybody was in party mood. I didn't like Little Angels, but their former singer Toby Jepson was always tolerant of my disapproval of his band every time we met (more than you can say of certain others), and over the years I've warmed a little to the band's repertoire. Apart from opener 'Breakdown' (from Jepson's solo EP 'Refresh'), the rest of his set comprised LA material - some of it unreleased - including 'Kicking Up Dust', 'Boneyard', 'I Want Love', 'Don't Pray For Me', 'All Roads Lead To You', 'Young Gods (Stand Up, Stand Up)', 'Radical Your Lover' and 'Too Much Too Young'. The crowd loved it. As we waited for the headliners I seem to recall a pleasant conversation with Arch Enemy's former guitarist Gus G, and noting his vintage Saxon T-shirt - good man!
Thunder looked thrilled to be back on the Hammersmith stage, including five cuts from the latest disc 'The Magnificent Seventh' ('Amy's On The Run', 'I'm Dreaming Again', 'You Can't Keep A Good Man Down', 'Fade Into The Sun' and the brilliant 'I Love You More Than Rock 'N' Roll'), also inviting both support acts to jam on Elton's 'Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting'. Goosebump moments included 'Love Walked In', 'Higher Ground', 'Empty City' and 'Like A Satellite', all sung so well by Danny Bowes you'd never believe that problems with his voice had forced Thunder to cancel a show just two days earlier. Concluding with 'Dirty Love', it wasn't till this morning that I sobered up and realised the buggers had missed out 'Backstreet Symphony'. Ah well, you can't have everything...
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Saturday 4th February
It's time to take DragonForce very seriously. Not only did they sell out the Astoria last night, the show was accompanied by scenes of utter hysteria. Making my way to the venue, the queue snaked into and around Soho Square, and from its other side I could hear their fans chanting "DragonForce, DragonForce, DragonForce!" and see them waving silly glow-in-the-dark plastic weaponry. Inside the hall, Edguy's powerful, often highly amusing set also got the crowd chanting their name. Power metal is on its way back in the UK, though openers Sabaton were absolutely horrendous, I'm sad to report.
DragonForce really know how to put on a show. They have raised platforms onstage so everyone can see Herman Li and Sam Totman trading riffs and red-hot licks - there's even a mini-trampoline for them to gain extra height! - Vadim Pruzhanov often roaming around to throw shapes on one of those space-age portable keyboards. ZP Theart already had the voice but is fast becoming a formidable frontman, drummer Dave Mackintosh and newly appointed full-time bassist Frédéric Leclercq stoking up the furnace that drives the madness. It looked like the Astoria had been doubly over-sold to me, and the audience roared along with the band, rejoicing in every last note from opener 'My Spirit Will Go On' to the swansong of 'Valley Of The Damned'. 'Storming The Burning Fields', 'Operation Ground And Pound', 'Through The Fire And Flames' and the ballad 'Trail Of Broken Hearts' from the new 'Inhuman Rampage' album all slotted in nicely, and a shocked Theart remarked from the stage that Brixton Academy will probably be the band's next headline gig in London, though he also confided they will be on the bill of "a major summer festival".
Despite a great quote from Iain Dowie about Palace's last match: "We didn't pick up any major injuries in the Preston game, probably because we hardly put in any tackles", I'm still looking forward to this afternoon's game against fellow promoton-chasers Cardiff, and the evening's triple-pronger at Hammersmith of Thunder, Toby Jepson and Roadstar. Time to crack open a cold one, I think.
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Wednesday 1st February
I was in dire need of cheering up after Palace's unbeaten run came to an end at Preston last night. How better, then, to call Rob Halford in Calfornia for an early morning phone interview and be greeted by an embarrased laugh and the words: "Oh, Dave. I was just watching The Golden Girls. What else is a metal god to do at 1.45am?" Er... what indeed? Stay tuned for some interesting Priest developments that I'm sworn to secrecy about. It'll all come out in the wash in the next few days - a bit like Rob's love of The Golden Girls.
And how about this? John Wetton has just issued an interesting statement: "It is the intention of all four original members - Geoffrey Downes, Steve Howe, Carl Palmer and John Wetton - to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the creation of Asia". So the wheels of the much-touted reunion would appear to be grinding into action...?