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 28th February
Exciting news for festival goers: as previously hinted at in this diary, the Scorpions have confirmed a summer appeareance with special guest Uli Jon Roth at the Rock And Blues Custom Show, which takes place in Derbyshire during the last week in July. Michael Schenker Group and Bernie Tormé's band GMT will also be on the bill. Clan Ling visit the Rock And Blues every year; it's high time you joined us.
I hooked up with Richard West, keyboard player of the excellent Threshold for a late afternoon interview. Fortunately he took my opening observation that being called "England's foremost progressive metal band" (as claimed in the band's latest biography) is a bit like being cited as Iceland's greatest cricket team, in the spirit it was intended. All kidding aside, Threshold's new album, 'Dead Reckoning', will surely be among this writer's highly rated discs of the year.
Last night I was at the Queen Elizabeth Hall for an appearance by Judie Tzuke. Although the first half was loaded with ballads, the show was marvellous. Judie still has one of those skylark voices that can do just about anything, and after the interval the band really rocked things up with 'I Will', 'What's It All For' and 'Vivien'. The encores of 'Stay With Me', 'Sukarita' and 'Understanding' were quite exquisite and Judie sounded genuinely choked when she exited the stage with the words: "I doubt that we'll be doing too many more of these, so I'm glad that we had a great night".
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Tuesday 27th February
The day begins well with an email from Brian Wheat, bassist of one of my favourite bands, Tesla. I first met 'Shredded' (as he's sometimes nicknamed) in Lakelands, Florida when Sacramento bruisers opened for David Lee Roth at the time of their debut album, 1986's 'Mechanical Resonance', and we've stayed in sporadic contact. He even happened to be in London when I had a party for my engagement to Mrs L and kindly dropped by. Seems that Tesla are gearing up to release a new album of classic rock covers from the 1970s in May. Looking forward to hearing it; their last album, 2004's 'Into The Now', rocked big-time!

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Monday 26th February
Knock me down with a feather, Fastway are back! There have been some rather unlikely reunions of late, but I never thought I'd see ex-Motörhead guitarist 'Fast' Eddie Clarke letting rip again. The band's self-titled debut from 1983 is still a cult favourite around these parts, their gig at Hammersmith Odeon that same year being a marvellous experience. The 'new' Fastway, completed by ex-Mama's Boys bassist John McManus, singer John 'Harv' Harbinson and drummer Steve Strange (relax, it's not the new romantic gayboy of the same name), have already been tapped to join an impressive-looking Sweden Rock bill in the summer. Hmmmm... wonder how much flights would cost...
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Sunday 25th February
Here's a bit of good advice: Steer clear of Mad Dog 20/20. In a celebratory mood, I bought a bottle of the strawberry-flavoured muck returning home from Palace's 2-1 victory over Luton Town yesterday, and was left wondering how on earth I managed to consume so much of this alleged "fruit flavoured [fortified] wine from the USA" in my youth, along with countless bottles of Thunderbird and the Guns N' Roses-approved Night Train Express. At 13% proof it certainly does the job, but my tongue feels like a plague-ridden tramp had spent the night urinating on it as I slept.
Gaining revenge upon Luton, who'd romped home in the last three encounters, was vastly more pleasurable. With Eagles defender Mark Hudson bizarrely putting through his own net to hand the vistors an undeserved (though short-lived) equaliser, Palace scored all three goals and made the piss-poor Hatters look well out of their depth. How pleasing it was to see new left-winger Dave Martin, signed for a pittance from non-League Dartford, getting to make a highly credible debut. Can we get a look at Victor Moses soon please, Taylor?
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Saturday 24th February
Oh wow... the postie's just dropped off expanded editions of Blue Öyster Cult's 1977 studio album 'Spectres' and the following year's live disc 'One Enchanted Evening'. The latter is particularly close to my heart as it was the first BÖC album that I ever purchased. It became a gigantic turntable favourite, to the point that I amazed myself by still being able to recite Eric Bloom's superbly idiotic inter-song banter verbatim. This of course includes, "We came down here to Hot-Lanta for just one reason, that's to ask you this question: Are you ready to rock?" 'One Enchanted Evening' now comes with a plethora of bonus audio tracks, sleeve notes and a live DVD shot on the same tour - swoon!
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Wednesday 21st February
Although I'd like to have seen special guests Krokus and opening act the Poodles, an invitation to attend last night's Electric Ballroom gig by HammerFall was politely declined. There is already one Manowar, why on earth do we need another? Instead I boarded a train to Southend for Palace's 1-0 victory over the Shrimpers at Roots Hall, stopping off for a quick interview with ex-Thin Lizzy/Wild Horses/Motörhead guitarist Brian Robertson at his place in Essex en route. It's hard to believe but Robbo stayed off the booze during our chat. The same cannot be said for my good self. Consequently the game remains a bit of a blur, though I do recall going apeshit when Paul Ifill stroked home the winning goal. Coming on for the last 10 minutes, academy starlet Lewis Grabban looked pacy, intelligent and skillful - let's give him another run out on Saturday please.
P.S. You couldn't make it up! It seems that Van Halen's reunion tour was never officially confirmed after all and has now been "postponed indefinitely". The confusion is apparently due to Eddie Van Halen's spokeswoman-slash-girlfriend issuing a press release before all parties had signed on the dotted line. The words 'Spinal' and 'Tap' spring to mind.
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Tuesday 20th February
Thoroughly enjoyed yesterday's interview with Dave Mustaine. The Megadeth leader has mellowed considerably since his firebrand youth. We spoke of his conversion to Christianity, his place in metal's hierarchy, of the responsibility involved in running a festival like Gigantour, his proficiency as a guitarist, his struggle with booze and drugs, of the fact that Lacuna Coil's Cristina Scabbia duets with him on the new album's re-recorded version of 'A Tout Le Monde', and of course, of his admission that "People that deserve black eyes still get them." Nice to see that some things in life never change!
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Monday 19th February
Megadeth's forthcoming monster, 'United Abominations', has been on almost constant rotation ahead of this morning's face to face interview with Monsewer Mustaine. I really like it. Its fire, heaviness and searing shredability certainly make the group's last couple of albums sound tame. Which in fairness you could probably say they were.
Hurrah... the full bill for Firefest #4 is out, with Tyketto, Harem Scarem, Jorn, Hugo and the original line-up of Valentine, Crunch (you'll probably know them better as Adriangale) and Jaded Heart lined up to join reunited headliners FM at Nottingham Rock City on October 27. This mouth-watering line-up represents sterling effort on the part of organisers Kieran Dargan and Bruce Mee. Wonder if the fixture list will go my way just for once. Ah well, even if the mighty Palace do happen to be at home that day, Nottingham here I come!
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Sunday 18th February
Was I surprised by Palace's capitulation to Birmingham Shitty at Selhurst yesterday? Not in the least. The league table does not lie, and the rest of Clan Ling were right to spend their day engaged in other less depressing pursuits. Did it anger me? Not really. I've numbed myself to the current squad's ineptitude. Talk in the pubs before the game suggests that few of the club's diehards will renew their season tickets next year. I don't blame them. Peter Taylor's side lacks pace, organisation, guile, determination and guts. Going to watch them is almost becoming a chore. It comes to something when the pre-match joustings of the clubs' two chairmen (Eagles chief Simon Jordan bitched of rival David Sullivan: "He wasn't breast fed as a child and needs some love. But who'd want the love of Birmingham fans anyway?") is more entertaining than the 90 minutes of alleged 'action' on the pitch. With the play-offs out of reach, let's blood some youngsters like Victor Moses and see if they've got what it takes...
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Saturday 17th February
"Special" is a word that I try to use sparingly, but last night's Blackfield gig at the Mean Fiddler easily deserved such a fitting description. The day had begun perfectly with the arrival of a promo of Porcupine Tree's forthcoming album, 'Fear Of A Blank Planet' - a fitting appetiser for the first night of Blackfield's latest world tour. Mustn't forget to give a quick nod of admiration to Pure Reason Revolution, who kicked things off with a highly promising set.
For the uninitiated, Blackfield are a partnership between PT's Steven Wilson and Aviv Geffen, a musician/singer who has been called... ahem... the "David Bowie of Israel". They deal in shimmering soundscapes and towering choruses, their pop sensibility underpinned by dramatic edginess. The velvety opening salvo of 'Once', '1,000 People' and 'Miss U' sent myself and the rest of a packed room into rapture. All of the new 'Blackfield II' album turned out to be aired, interlaced with highlights from the band's self-titled 2004 debut (including 'Blackfield', 'The Hole In Me', 'Pain', 'Glow', 'Open Mind', 'Hello' and 'Cloudy Now'). An emotive mid-set rendition of Alanis Morissette's 'Thank U' dovetailed seamlessly with the band's own material. Okay, there were occasional bum notes and flat vocal lines, but they'll be ironed out over the coming weeks. Exiting the Fiddler with emotions reeling and jaw trawling through empty beer cans on the floor, just one thing needed stating: This band will be friggin' enormous.
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Friday 16th February
Oh bollocks. Chris Cornell has left Audioslave to resume his solo career, citing "irresolvable personality conflicts and musical differences". I adored the singer's 1999 solo debut, 'Euphoria Morning', but it's disappointing that Audioslave are over. It's no great shock, of course. Almost from the start there was immense friction behind the scenes, with different managers and record labels laying claim to their share of the spoils from the quartet's three albums. Alarm bells began chiming the minute the three instrumental players confirmed a so-called 'one-off' reunion with Zack de la Rocha in the lame one trick pony that is Rage Against The Machine. Meanwhile, David Lee Roth has been gobbing off about Van Halen's summer tour to Billboard magazine. Asked if the re-grouping might become permanent, Diamond Dave winked: "Yeah. I have hope and faith, and that's more than just the name of a couple of strippers from Albuquerque." Boom boom.
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Thursday 15th February
Last night's Europe gig was a lot of fun. To their credit, Joey Tempest and company haven't gone for the safest comeback route in history, abandoning the big-haired pop-rock of the 80s for a tougher, heavier Audioslave-style vibe that would always alienate the diehards. The Swedes took the sensible approach before a larger than expected Shepherds Bush Empire crowd, mixing old and new material in just about equal proportions. As a fan of both the 'before' and 'after' eras, I thought they were excellent. Tempest still has all the rock-god moves, while John Norum remains a dazzling guitarist. For anyone who's interested, the set-list was: 'Love Is Not The Enemy', 'Always The Pretenders', 'Superstitious', 'Seven Doors Hotel', 'Let The Children Play', 'The Getaway Plan', 'Flames', 'Sign Of The Times', 'Carrie', 'Brave And Beautiful Soul' (replacing 'Forever Travelling', which was played earlier on the tour), Norum's guitar solo, 'Girl From Lebanon', 'Start From The Dark', 'Yesterday's News' and 'Rock The Night', with encores of 'Got To Have Faith', 'Cherokee' and the inevitable 'The Final Countdown'.
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Wednesday 14th February
Come on, then, own up. Which genius booked Europe to play in London on Valentine's night? For the past week or so, Mrs L's jibes of "It's Joey T or me" have grown in seriousness. It cost a bloody fortune in flowers, chocolates and cards, also two bottles of red wine, but I've finally earned a night pass to visit the Shepherds Bush Empire this evening.
Mustn't grumble... the postie just delivered some excellent goodies. A big thumbs-up goes to 'Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow' (released via SPV on March 26), which lives up to the advance hype of being Magnum's finest work in many a long year. Neither of the Brummie quintet's two reunion records, 'Brand New Morning' (2002) nor 'Breath Of Life' (2004), entirely hit the spot for me, but this is a more upmarket kettle of fish. If you look in the small print there's also a guest appearance from Slade's Jim Lea on fiddle. Pleased to report that Saxon's 'The Inner Sanctum' (SPV, March 5) rocks as soundly and consistently as it seemed to at last month's playback piss-up. I'm also looking forward to spending some time devouring an expanded 20th anniversary edition of Napalm Death's 'Scum' debut, and the live album ('Real Time', available through Fie Records) of Van Der Graaf Generator's comeback gig at the Royal Festival Hall in May 2005. I was present to have seen their first full-length performance in almost 30 years, and it was pretty bloody special.
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Tuesday 13th February
More Scorps news. The band have apparently decided to called their new Desmond Child-produced album 'Humanity - Hour 1'. The countdown to a May 14 release via BMG Records begins now. Fingers are firmly crossed that it'll be as good as their last one, 2004's 'Unbreakable', which really put them back on the rock 'n' roll map.
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Sunday 11th February
Bloody well done to England's beleaguered cricketers. This morning we beat Australia to seal a fantastic 2-0 victory in the tri-nations series finals, silencing big-gobbed Convicts coach John Buchanan, who famously boasted that his batsmen weren't being tested by England or New Zealand's bowlers. More of the same in the World Cup in March, please.
As I feared it would, however, Palace's unbeaten league run stuttered to an ugly end in Leeds yesterday. I had accepted Leeds fan and ex-Kerrang! (now occasional Classic Rock) writer Neil Jeffries' kind offer of a lift from south London to the Antarctic-style wastelands of Yorkshire. It'd been a while since I last ventured to Elland Road, and it took about three nano-seconds to remember why. After dominating the early stages, the Eagles gave away a stoooopid goal from a corner to a United side that almost immediately began procrastinating disgracefully, but probably just about deserved their win. With Palace hovering aimlessly in mid-table for once, I was just glad to get back to Neil's car, thaw my feet out and play some great music (including Journey's 'Greatest Hits' and the new live album from Starz) whilst nipping away at a bottle of vodka on the way back down the M1 to civilisation.
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Saturday 10th February
'Break The Silence', the debut album from all-girl band McQueen, has been a regular visitor to the Ling Towers death deck since before Christmas. Last night's gig at the Water Rats in King's Cross lived up to my hopes. The four ladies from the South Coast have spirit and fire a-plenty, the likes of 'Not For Sale', 'Running Out Of Things To Say', 'Blinded' and first video 'The Line Went Dead' suggesting that the distinguished lineage of Girlschool and Rock Goddess isn't completely obsolete. Thank God!
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Friday 9th February
Good news for fans of the Scorpions. I was gutted to have missed the band's raved-about show at the Wacken Open Air Festival last August, which featured guest slots from ex-members Michael Schenker, Herman Rarebell and Uli Jon Roth - the latter returning to play 'Pictured Life', 'Speedy's Coming','Dark Lady', 'We'll Burn The Sky' and 'He's A Woman, She's A Man' among others. Just been transcribing a short interview with Herr Roth, in which he reveals: "There will be more of these events. I recently had dinner in Los Angeles with Rudolf [Schenker, rhythm guitarist], where the band are finishing their new album, and we discussed the idea of something similar happening again. I loved playing with the Scorpions at Wacken; it's a bit like a marriage, the magic never dies."
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Thursday 8th February
Damn those Jagermeister bombs - they don't mix too well with wine, White Russians, Black Russians or anything else that I foolishly consumed last night. But what's a man to do if a record label invites you to "a debauched evening from the band who've sold over two million albums in the US and worship at the altar of Mötley Crüe and Guns N' Roses", with a short live set and evening meal at Stringfellows thrown in? How on earth did I get home without falling asleep on the train, and still manage to watch the highlights of England's defeat to Spain before dozing off? The hellraisers concerned were Oklahoma City five-piece Hinder, who take their name from not letting anything get in their way - or 'hinder' them - in their path to success. I've gotta be honest, their 'Extreme Behavior' album sounded a little too like Nickelback for me at first spin, though that's mostly because Austin Winkler has a voice like Chad Kroeger's. The sound was way too quiet during their 30-minute set, but they seemed a lot more raucous than the record (fortunately). With UK dates pencilled for April, I'll deffo give 'em another try... but will plan it so I don't have five interviews to get through the next day!
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Tuesday 6th February
"Guess who's back?" The call from FM drummer Pete Jupp came via my mobile phone just as I was boarding a train to watch Wolfmother at the Hammersmith Apollo last night. The rumours are true. After an absence of more than a decade, the band's final recording line-up of Jupp, vocalist/guitarist Steve Overland, bassist Merv Goldsworthy, guitarist Andy Barnett and keyboard player Jem Davis are to re-group for a one-off festival date later this year. They can be seen at Firefest #4 at Rock City in Nottingham on Saturday October 27th. You've no idea how happy that news makes me!
The Wolfmother gig, on the other hand, satisfied less consistently. With just one album to promote, the Aussie trio jammed through a 14-song set that included a version of Zeppelin's 'Communication Breakdown' in the encore. They've some splendid material, including 'White Unicorn', the humongous riff-fest of 'Colossal', and the Grammy-nominated 'Woman', the latter of which even included a cheeky snippet of 'Heart Of The Sunrise' by Yes. The crowd at this sold-out date (the first of two), cheered every last note, but 'Apple Tree', with its annoying Justin Hawkins-style falsetto chorus, is ludicrous, and from my own perspective the show dipped badly from its middle until the encores. At times Wolfmother take the label of 'retro-rock' way too far and simply resort to borrowing other people's ideas. That they have the audacity to end the show with a tune called 'The Joker And The Thief' (shades of Hendrix, anyone?) says it all.
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Monday 5th February
Judging by his past few diary entries, Ross Halfin derives much amusement from my continued appreciation of Uriah Heep (something for which I make no apologies, BTW). So the admission that much of the past weekend was spent soaking up the delicious strains of 'Song Of Times', a new album from long-lost US pomp-rockers Starcastle, will no doubt generate apoplexies of laughter. I care not one jot. If indeed they were ever in it, Starcastle have been away from the limelight since 1978's 'Real To Reel' album. But this comeback disc revives all their signature elements, including complex and lengthy but soothingly melodic song arrangements, Jon Anderson-style vocals and Gary Strater's chunky, Chris Squire-inspired bass. Fans of the genre - including fellow Classic Rocker Geoff Barton (who called them "immense" in an email this morning) - are gonna want to add 'Song Of Times' to their collections.
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Sunday 4th February
Talking of the blues, as I was in yesterday's diary, here's a gem to seek out. Relying upon its title alone, you'd be forgiven for assuming 'YU So Shady?' was some awful piece of hip-hop shit, but it's actually a slamming slab of blues-rawk from Grady, a.k.a. Grady Johnson, the Canadian guitarist who produced Gov't Mule's latest album. It sounds a little like vintage ZZ Top, a comparison that's verfied by the latter's guitarist Billy F Gibbons, who declares: "I listen to Grady every day". Drummer and the album's executive producer is Chris Layton, who used to play with Stevie Ray Vaughan. Do you need any further encouragement to check 'em out at www.shadygrady.net?
Van Halen have officially confirmed their intention to play 40 reunion dates in the US, with Wolfgang Van Halen taking bassist Michael Anthony's place. Hmmmm... there's more than a grain of truth in this spoof film ad which has been doing the rounds for the past few days.
Yesterday's deserved 2-0 victory over Norwich meant that Crystal Palace are now just 10 points behind the play-off places again. Leon Cort headed the opener just before half-time, newcomer Paul Refill (sorry... Paul Ifill - I wasn't drinking before or after the game, honest!) notching the all-important clincher. Was looking forward to seeing Stream Of Passion again tonight, but the show's been cancelled due to immigration problems. Hopefully the six-piece band, responsible for one of 2006's best debut albums, will be back soon.
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Saturday 3rd February
Still reeling from the astonishment of England's cricketers beating Australia for the first time on a three month tour Down Under, I headed up to the West End to watch a mid-afternoon showcase from Earache Records' latest signing, Evile . The Huddersfield-based combo play old-school thrash (or, as my old mate Xavier Russell used to call it, FRASH!!!] like it never went out of fashion. To some of us it never did, of course. Blatantly influenced by Metallica, Sepultura, Exodus, Slayer and Annihilator, the foursome have age and enthusiasm on their side, and a gifted lead guitarist in Oliver Drake. I will follow them with interest.
Then... across Oxford Street to the 100 Club for a double-dose of blues-rock from Ian Parker and the Aynsley Lister Band. By the time the show began a few large voddie 'n' diet cokes had lubricated the gullet. However, I was the only person in the buiding who laughed aloud when, just two songs in, the words "woke up this morning" made their inevitable appearance. It was the quality of Parker's latest album, 'Where I Belong', that had tempted me along to the show, and as arguably the more song-orientated of the pair he just about had the edge over Lister, whose own set included the second best version of 'Purple Rain' I've seen performed onstage (yes, I caught Prince & The Revolution at Wembley Arena back in '86). Quality-wise, I'd vouch for Parker and Lister on any day of the week. But, sadly, both are lacking in charisma. Would I use up another of my precious Friday nights watching 'em again? Hmmmm... maybe... if someone else was buying the drinks.
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Friday 2nd February
There's nothing like a little friendly banter to begin an interview. Did a phoner with Dave Mustaine last night, and his opening gambit was: "I saw a photo of you wearing a suit the other day. You had a tie on, too. Did you have an appointment in court?" He was referring to this , of course. Megadeth's leader is always fun to talk to, especially now that he's calmed down a little. Sadly, it's unlikely that Dave's travelling Gigantour festival will visit Europe - or indeed go anywhere - this summer due to promotional duties for the new Megadeth album, though he says that Gigantour will pick up again in 2008, and there's every chance of a trip across the Atlantic. I've yet to hear 'United Abominations' ahead of its release date of May 7th, but I believe Mustaine when he imparts that it boasts "enough guitar playing for two albums". Just what Megadeth fans had hoped to hear.