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

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Friday 29th February
The new Classic Rock just dropped onto the mat. This issue's theme is Great British Rock Icons - I got Freddie Mercury on the cover, but apparently there are four to choose from. After speaking to members of The Almighty, Thunder, the Quireboys, Wolfsbane, Little Angels and the Wildhearts, Jon Hotten has put together a fascinating and honest documentation of the 'Brit-rock' movement of the late-90s, and elsewhere we asked some leading British musos to evaluate rivals from their region of birth. It fell to Status Quo's Francis Rossi to discuss bands from London and the home counties. His verdicts on Pink Floyd ("Thankfully, somebody had the nous to tell them: 'Look guys, I like your music but fuck me you're boring, can we get some lights in?'"), Uriah Heep ("They really should try to keep their weight down") and The Clash ("They were a real sack of shit when they started") are candid as you might've expected.
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Tuesday 26th February
The guys that used to be known as Roadstar (and, before that, Hurricane Party) are about to resurface with a brand new name, Heaven's Basement. Before I went on holiday they sent me a link to some new songs. Only just had time to play them but the tracks seem to pick up right where Roadstar left off, though possibly with a smidgin more of a contemporary feel. I particulary enjoyed 'Executioner's Day' and 'I'll Never Write A Love Song'. Check out some of their material here.
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Monday 25th February
The worst thing about taking a few days away is returning to an 'in' box of spam. Most of yesterday morning was spent sifting through 400-odd emails; cut 'n' pasting whatever was useful, setting up the coming week's interviews and ditching those oh-so enticing offers of extended genitalia, Viagra tabs, counterfeit watches and fake university diplomas.
In the evening I went to see Megadeth at a crammed-full Brixton Academy. A history as a Metallica/Slayer tribute group helped Yorkshire thrash pups Evile to fare rather well as the show's openers, though the extremity of Arizona band Job For A Cowboy's seven-song set caused unrest among a puzzled crowd. So how would the headliners fare with new guitarist Chris Broderick? Very well indeed, actually. The sound was awfully messy for the first 15 minutes, but before too long the ex-Nevermore/Jag Panzer man was trading incendiary barbs of noise with Mega-Dave on the likes of 'Hangar 18' and 'Tornado Of Souls'. For someone who's always had so darned much to say for himself, it's a little shocking for Mustaine to announce: "People that come to play for you and talk [onstage] are a fucking waste of time", but last night he stuck to his word, keeping the rabbit short 'n' sweet as Megadeth powered seamlessly from one song into another, their mosh-tastic inertia impossble to resist. Here's the set-list: 'Sleepwalker', 'Wake Up Dead', 'Take No Prisoners', 'Skin O' My Teeth', 'Washington Is Next!', 'Kick The Chair', 'In My Darkest Hour', 'Hangar 18', 'Gears Of War', 'A Tout Le Monde', 'Tornado Of Souls', 'Ashes In Your Mouth', 'Burnt Ice', 'Symphony Of Destruction', 'Trust', 'Peace Sells', 'Never Walk Alone' and 'Holy Wars... The Punishment Due'.

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Sunday 24th February
Yesterday's breakfast consisted of two pints of Kronenbourg 1664 whilst awaiting my early morning flight from Aberdeen to London. Jetting back for Palace's home clash with Wolves wasn't the dumbest or most extreme thing I've done - a few years ago I was among the ten or so fans to travel to Samsunspor (by the Black Sea in Turkey) for an Intertoto Cup game, and back in the days when Classic Rock was stuck in the Godforsaken wilderness of Bath I regularly commuted from the West Country to midweek home games - but it ranks high on the list. You'll have gathered that Wolves gained revenge for their recent Molineux massacre, two pieces of skill flattering a drab contest between two dismal sides.
At the post-match press conference, Neil Warnock announced that CPFC's hapless Shefki Kuqi has been fined two weeks' wages and transfer listed with immediate effect after responding with a crude gesture to the crowd's ironic cheers as he was substituted. According to certain reports, a couple of weeks earlier the Finn actually celebrated on the Selhurst Park pitch when former club Ipswich's overturned his current employers. With Clinton Morrison on the bench, it begs the question: Why on earth was Shefki wearing a Palace shirt again - let alone as a lone striker? He's an overpriced, petulant lump of lard and I'll be ecstatic to see him fuck off. Let's see if anyone else is stupid enough to pay him 12 grand a week.
Afterwards it was off to the Forum to check out The Cult. The gig was okay. Messrs Astbury and Duffy have real groove and moments of undoubted star quality, but at a mere 80 minutes onstage - including the apparently spontaneous addition of 'Spiritwalker' - they're selling their fans way too short. Here's what the band could be bothered to play: 'Nirvana', 'Electric Ocean', 'Lil' Devil', 'I Assassin', 'The Witch', 'Spiritwalker', 'Edie (Ciao Baby)', 'Rise', 'Savages', 'Sweet Soul Sister', 'Fire Woman', 'Dirty Little Rockstar', 'Wild Flower', 'She Sells Sanctuary', 'The Phoenix' and 'Love Removal Machine'.
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Friday 22nd February
Well, we've just experienced Scottish weather's full diversity. There was bright, crisp sunlight as Clan Ling set off from Aberdeen to take a look around Loch Ness. But by the time we'd completed the 120-mile drive, torrential rain was accompanied by an icy wind. The boys were annoyed not to have seen Nessie, the loch's legendary monster. I was gonna have a nosey around in search of Boleskine House, the 18th Century mansion once owned by Jimmy Page (and of course Aleister Crowley), but sadly the torrential conditions also scuppered any such thoughts.
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Thursday 21st February
It's no great secret that I'm a big fan of Nazareth, and with my missus having family in Aberdeen and the kids on half-term we ventured North of Hadrian's Wall for a few days to kill three birds with one stone - catching Naz's gig at the Moshulu at the same time. We dropped by the hotel for a pre-show snifter, and Mrs L agreed with me, these are the kind of guys that within a few minutes make you feel as though you've known them for a lifetime. Dan McCafferty was nursing a heavy cold, but his nicotine and Cognac-inspired performance during the 100-minute set (swelled by a cover of 'Morning Dew' that was omitted at last week's gig in London) was as immaculate as ever. It's scarcely possible that McCafferty is now 61 years old... yes, you read that right! I was also impressed by the Moshulu, a venue with a sticky floor and a powerful, clear sound system. Oh yes, this morning's hangover is considerable.

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Tuesday 19th February
Annoyingly, Palace's game at Bristol City took place last night for the benefit of Sky TV, instead of at the weekend. So it ended up clashing with a gig I'd been really looking forward to. I ended up setting the Sky+ for the football and going to see Airbourne at the Borderline instead, asking my CPFC mates not to ruin the surprise of the outcome by texting me with updates.
Limbered up for the show with several glasses of wine at a press reception for the new Guitar Hero 3 computer game at the Gibson Guitars Sound Stage, which was just as well as the Borderline's bar was rammed. Airbourne's debut album, 'Runnin' Wild', has been a regular visitor to the Ling Towers death deck for the past few months. Onstage, however, the Aussies were marginally less spectacular than I'd hoped. Part of the problem is that in addition to playing lead guitar, Joel O'Keeffe also handles vocals, throwing himself around the stage, tearing through the crowd and climbering onto the bar to claim a pint - then leaping back to join his band-mates (barely spilling a drop of Amber Nectar). Which is all well and good. Airbourne certainly have a showman in the Angus Young tradition, what they don't yet have is a frontman to rival Bon Scott or Brian Johnson. For all his mobility and energy, Joel's banter with the audience is strained. He really needs to do better than "This is for all the girls in black" before a song called, er, 'Girls In Black'. I've interviewed O'Keeffe and know that he has wit and charisma to spare. At the moment, as cracking his band might be, they're missing a trick.
Grabbed a bottle of cold Liebfraumilch - the only thing the supermarket next door had with a screw top - and dashed home for the football. As I switched my phone on again it went bonkers, spewing messages about the game (thanks, guys...). If I'd read them I could've spared the heartbreak of sitting up till 1am and watching City equalise in the 95th minute - long after the refree, apparently on a mission to book the entire Eagles squad - should've blown the final whistle. Bye-bye to three priceless points to restore the club's promotion surge. BASTARD!!
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Saturday 16th February
At last night's Nazareth show somebody told me I'm looking like Rick Wakeman these days - probably should've shaved before going out! But, my, what a great gig! The Scottish band might be on a 40th anniversary tour, but they deliver the goods like chaps half their age. As the man that Axl Rose wanted to sing at his wedding, Dan McCafferty is a living, walking miracle. He smokes and drinks cognac like these passtimes are going out of fashion yet still manages to hit every gravel-encrused note. And of course the band's other two unsung heroes, guitarist Jimmy Murrison and skin-poounder Lee Agnew (son of ever-smiling bassist Pete) play their part to perfection. Last time Nazareth played London they were at the Academy's smaller Bar enclave, this time they'd moved into the main hall (a distinct step upwards from the Underworld on the previous tour). The band's stock seems to be on the rise, and I'm glad for them that Metallica recently covered 'Please Don't Judas Me' at a concert, while the news that mega-selling girl group Girls Aloud had sampled their 1975 classic 'Hair Of The Dog' for a single called 'Sexy! No, No, No' must be among the most deeply surreal developments of recent times - to Nazareth's credit, they had no idea who Girls Aloud actually were till they looked them up on the internet (no doubt bookmarking the site 'for later'.... hahaha).
Kicking off with a cover of 'Beggars Day', a 1971 song by Crazy Horse, Nazareth previewed several cuts from the impressive 'The Newz' CD, their first in a decade since 'Boogaloo', my one disappointment being the omission of its out 'n' out belter, 'Road Trip'. Here's what they played: 'Beggars Day', 'Keep On Travelling', 'Razzamanaz', 'This Flight Tonight', 'Day At The Beach', 'My White Bicycle', 'Big Boy', 'Enough Love', 'Bad Bad Boy', 'Whiskey Drinking Woman', 'The Gathering', 'Love Hurts', 'Hair Of The Dog', 'Expect No Mercy' and 'Broken Down Angel'.
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Friday 15th February
There's been some bitching about White Lion's new album, 'Return Of The Pride' (released via Frontiers on March 14), on the bulletin board at www.melodicrock.com. I must disagree with the more unkind of these comments. Okay, co-founding guitarist Vito Bratta isn't a part of the band anymore, but it's hard to find fault with tracks like 'Live Your Life', 'Set Me Free', 'Battle At Little Big Horn' and 'Gonna Do It My Way'. Much respect to Mike Tramp and his new line-up for making a great record, and I await their summer visit to the UK. The same goes for House Of Lords, now consisting of original singer James Christian plus a host of hired hands. So long as they keep on making music as great as 'Come To My Kingdom' (available on the same day, also through Frontiers) you won't hear complaints from yours truly - well, not until they play live and sample Gregg Giuffria's keyboard lines again... hahaha.
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Wednesday 13th February
Jesus H Christ... Palace's promotion campaign is starting to look fragile. After a run of 15 games in which it appeared we couldn't lose, it's starting to feel as though we'll never take three points again. Last night Ipswich beat us 1-0 at Selhurst; the club's fourth consecutive win-less fixture. Conceded with the last kick of the first half, their goal had an element of good fortune, and we manufactured enough chances to have rescued at least a point, but the Eagles' overall performance was glaringly devoid of guile or class. When will it end?!
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Tuesday 12th February
I'm extremely upset to hear that Planet Rock Radio is being axed from the digital airwaves. Unless a buyer steps in to save the day, the station is due to close on March 28. The reason? The station "was not [seen as] an economically viable growth platform" for the company that owns in. Okay, the playlist could've used a thorough revamp - I'm sure that even Ross Halfin reaches for the off button after hearing 'Won't Get Fooled Again' for the third or fourth time in a 24-hour period - but making breakfast won't be the same without Alice Cooper's entertaining chatter, and I'll also miss Rick Wakeman's show. I wonder what'll happen to Nicky Horne...?
And yet considerable cheer arrives in the form of a gift from Rich Wilson. My Classic Rock colleague downloaded a double-CD of rehearsals for Genesis' Six Of The Best gig (with Peter Gabriel on vocals), which took place in secrecy at London's Hammersmith Odeon during the week before the open-air show at a sodden Milton Keynes Bowl in 1982. Rich "thought I'd like a copy". He was dead right!!!
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Monday 11th February
Not had a great deal of time to spend on the site this past week or so, but the Playlist, Quotes and YouTube sections have all been updated.
P.S. Oh dear, oh dear. Coventry City have seen sense and given Iain Dowie his P45 at last...
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Sunday 10th February
Just home from a late afternoon visit to Abbey Road Studios. Several months ago, Marillion/UFO/Thin Lizzy producer Nick Tauber tipped me off about a band called The Black Hand. Various attempts to see them onstage all failed, which might've been for the best as an iffy lead singer was recently replaced by the superior Matt Rose. On Friday, Nick rang to say the band would be working on a few tracks with the one and only Eddie Kramer - the legendary producer whose CV includes Zeppelin, Hendrix, Mott The Hoople, Kiss and countless others - and did I want to drop by Abbey Road for a listen? Is my middle name 'Imbecile'? One song was all they could play me, but it represented a huge improvement upon everything else I'd heard from the band till now. Kramer (whose party piece is breaking wind at unexpected moments) seemed like a fascinating character, too.
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Saturday 9th February
Picture this. It's 8.15am, mere hours after Charlton have stuffed Palace 2-0 in a vital league game. "Daddy, are you drinking already?" my son Arnie asks me quizzically, slightly worried at my ashen deameanour. In fact, the pint glass filled with ice and fizzy pop contains no alcohol - I'm merely attempting to rehydrate myself after swigging hideous amounts of booze before and after last night's game. The result was as disappointing as the Eagles dismal display. Apart from a 10-minute rally at the start of the second half we were scarcely 'at the races' (as pundits so often seem to say). Now I've got the hangover from hell, a black cloud of fury hovers above my head and Mrs L claims to have 'housework' for me as Eddie and I won't be trotting off to Selhurst at lunchtime. Oh, happy day.
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Thursday 7th February
Last night England played their first game under new boss Fabio Capello. You can never read too much into friendlies, but a 2-1 victory over Switzerland at Wembley Stadium was a solid enough result. 'A step in the right direction, but plenty of room for improvement' would have to be the verdict from Ling Towers.
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Wednesday 6th February
YESSSSSSSSSS!! The first batch of UFO re-issues are finally here! 'Phenomenon' (1974), 'Force It' (1975) and 'No Heavy Pettin'' (1976) have all been re-mastered to sound absolutely immaculate, each coming with various bonus cuts - in the case of 'No Heavy Pettin'' no less than five songs recorded with producer Leo Lyons for the original sessions - and detailed sleeve essays. I wrote the notes for 'Force It' (or rather somebody called 'David' Ling did...), in addition to the ones for upcoming editions of 'Obsession' (1978) and 'Misdemeanor' (1985).
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Monday 4th February
Last night I went out for a drink with Pete Agnew and Dan McCafferty of Nazareth, who happened to be in London for an interview with TalkSport Radio. The guys had a wee pressie for me; a CDR of their forthcoming album 'The Newz'. It contains some right l'il belters that I can't wait to hear live, including 'Going Loco', 'Liar', 'Warning', 'Keep On Travelling' and the marvellous 'Road Trip', and on the mellower side of the coin, 'A Day At The Beach', 'Gloria' and 'Dying Breed'.
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Sunday 3rd February
After the final whistle blew to conclude Palace's 1-1 stalemate with Southampton - a frustrating though pretty fair result - I grabbed a bottle of cider and headed for Shepherds Bush for what turned out to be a depressingly average Great White gig.
Despite having feared that the show would be pulled due to poor ticket sales, I was pleasantly surprised by a decent-sized turnout (though the Empire's balconies remained defiantly unoccupied). The core of the Californian band's two-hour set was passable enough, but my patience was sorely tried when they began to bolt on various cover versions and material from solo albums. Robin Trower's 'Day Of The Eagle' is a magnificent composition, but I'm not in the least bit interested in hearing it sung by GW bassist Sean McNabb. And as for those Zeppelin covers ('Achilles' Last Stand' was linked into 'On Your Knees', and they actually had the audacity to encore with 'No Quarter'!)... sheesh... words fail me. For what it's worth, here's what Great White played: 'Desert Moon', 'Old Rose Motel', 'Face The Day', 'Back To The Rhythm', 'On Your Knees'/'Achilles' Last Stand', 'Save Your Love', 'Paradise' (Jack Russell solo song), 'House Of Broken Love', 'Kill That Red Rooster' (Mark Kendall solo tune), 'Mistabone',
'Day Of The Eagle', 'Rolling Stoned', 'Lovin' Kind', 'Call It Rock 'N' Roll', 'Rock Me', 'No Quarter', 'Can't Shake It', 'Wasted Rock Ranger' and 'Once Bitten, Twice Shy'.
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Saturday 2nd February
Having caught them as an unsigned band opening for another group at the Marquee, it's kinda freaky to believe that The Almighty have been around for two decades. The band's anniversary tour wound up last night at London's Astoria 2. Witnessed by a loud and passionate audience, it was great to see bassist Floyd London continuing to fight the Big C, also guitarist Ricky Warwick growing his hair back at last. The Stella Horns joined the band for an excellent 'All Sussed Out', while the title cut of 1989's 'Blood Fire & Love' was revived for the first time in "fucking ages" (Ricky's words). For me the highpoint of the set is still 'Jesus Loves You... But I Don't', though 'Crucify', 'Gift Horse', 'Do You Understand', 'Addiction', 'Jonestown Mind', 'Wrench', 'Free 'N' Easy' and 'Wild & Wonderful' all remain top quality tunes.
Cripes! New underpants please.... while all of that was going on, Iron Maiden's Somewhere Back in Time tour kicked off in Mumbai, India. The set-list is unbelievably wondrous. Check this out: Churchill's Speech intro/'Aces High'/'2 Minutes To Midnight'/'Revelations'/'The Trooper'/'Wasted Years'/'The Number Of The Beast'/'Run To The Hills'/'Rime Of The Ancient Mariner'/'Powerslave'/'Heaven Can Wait'/'Can I Play With Madness?'/'Fear of The Dark'/'Iron Maiden'/'Moonchild'/'The Clairvoyant'/'Hallowed Be Thy Name'. Roll on the Twickenham Stadium gig on July 5.
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Friday 1st February
I'm feeling slightly groggy this morning. Dashed home with unreasonable haste from Aviv Geffen's gig at Bush Hall to conduct a 1am phoner with Ronnie James Dio. Ronnie's been known to get a bad press, but I can honestly say he's always been a pleasure to interview during the two decades-plus that we've been acquainted.
The Geffen show was interesting. I'm a big fan of the Israeli singer/songwriter's work with Steven Wilson in Blackfield, a healthy quotient of Porcupine Tree T-shirts in the crowd suggesting I wasn't the only one to feel inquisitive about the prospect of Aviv's first English language solo release. However, the early signs weren't good, Geffen's nasal voice and strong accent suggesting a grim night could be on the cards. Equally damning, a fellow Classic Rock scribe would later dismiss his lyrics as "bad sixth form poetry". Yet slowly I warmed to the eccentricity of songs like 'It's Alright' and 'Berlin', and the place erupted when Steve Wilson appeared play guitar on a song with a strong Middle Eastern feel (didn't catch the title during the main set, or when it was repeated as an encore).
Wilson hung around for versions of Blackfield's 'End Of The World', 'Pain' and 'Cloudy Now'. It's also worth imparting that later on in the show, David Bowie's former keyboard player Mike Garson (of 'Aladdin Sane', 'Pin-Ups' and 'Diamond Dogs' fame) also stopped by for a couple of numbers. Geffen's album is being completed with the help of U2 producer Steve Orchard. It might be rather good.