This journal of the comings'n'goings and musings'n'enthusings of Dave Ling will be updated daily - except after days of stress and nights of excess.
Monday 29th February
Right, that's it, I've had enough… off to see the Quack. I've had a nasty cold for six weeks and it just won't go away. Tired of wheezing, spluttering and trying in vain to 'sleep' upright in the living room chair, which is about the only place I can grab more than an hour or two of zeds. #Ihatewinter
[Edit: It's worse than I had expected - the doc gave me a bloody inhaler! He reckons I've got asthma. Used to have it was a kid, and it went away but now it's back again... bugger!]
Sunday 28th February
So the living room at Ling Towers was set up nicely for yesterday evening's televised clash between West Brom and the mighty Eagles. The cider was cold. The flags were up. A selection of tasty snacks at the ready. It would have been nice, then, had Palace bothered to turn up, an inept first half display allowing the home side to take a runaway 3-0 lead within 30-odd minutes. A vast improvement was called for, and Pardew's men clawed back two goals. Wave after wave of attacks was focussed on the Baggies' net. Supersub Mile Jedinak was denied an equaliser by Gardner's header off the line in the dying stages as CPFC's horrific winless start to 2016 in the Premier League continued. A great game for the neutral, I'm sure, but for diehard wearers of the red & blue stripes, this was the latest in a string of exasperating catastrophes.
Talking of which I was sorry to note the loss Irish actor Frank Kelly, AKA Father Jack Hackett from the comedy sitcom Father Ted, at the age of 77. Kelly was a gifted actor with a varied career - the bloke turned up in Emmerdale not too long ago! - but his portrayal of Father Jack was inspired. The man and his show are almost worshipped here at Chateau Ling. I love throwing the phrase "that would be an ecumenical matter" into the conversation and seeing who bites.
Saturday 27th February
Yay! The CPFC season tix are renewed for 2016/17... our usual seats on the lower tier of the Holmesdale Road stand, at the most competitive price (natch!). I really don't think I could live without my footie fix.
Friday 26th February
As the weekend peeps gently over the horizon, Friday is filled with a prime slice of Canadian pomp-rock: 'Armageddon' by Prism. Produced by Bruce Fairbairn and with three songs by Bryan Adams, this masterpiece from 1979 deserves to be *far* better known. Yeah, you guessed it, I'm still writing that list of 'ones that got away'. Next up… China Sky's self-titled debut, released in 1988. Hearing these long-lost gems is bloody great!
I'm very happy that Roger Chapman & Family have been added to the Saturday night bill of this summer's Ramblin' Man Fair - most probably playing at the same time as Whipsnade. Well, no contest there! I'll admit, I'm a bit of a Johnny come lately when it comes to Family. I saw them for the first time a little over a year ago at the Giants Of Rock Festival in Minehead, but their fairly brief set was among the highlights of the weekend. So... Prog stage it is!
Anyway, as I type the Eurovision Song Contest qualifying round is about to begin on BBC4. Eddie and I have a sneaky weakness for all things Eurovision but I am gonna need some vino collapse to get through this, I think.
Thursday 25th February
Iron Maiden's world tour for 'The Book Of Souls' kicked off last night at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida. Check out the set-list. They're not doing the new album's epic track, 'Empire Of The Clouds', which is a shame I guess, though to be fair the band said from the off that it would be impossible to perform live without resorting to gazillions of samples. I had a feeling that the show would open with 'If Eternity Should Fail', and it's great that they've reinstated the mighty 'Powerslave', apparently for the first time since 2009. Yup... I'm liking this list - a lot!
I've been asked to compile a selection of my favourite five albums that never quite dented the mainstream. Lionheart's 1984 debut, 'Hot Tonight', made the Top Five. How terrific to see this again, the promo flick for its single 'Die or Love', complete with special guest, the much-missed Rik Mayall. Great song, hilariously bad video.
Wednesday 24th February
My good friend Mark 'Three Times A Night? No Problemo' Taylor would be proud of me - yesterday I managed to attend two gigs during the space of one evening. Aware that the group would be previewing a few of its selections I accepted an invitation to a behind closed doors reception in honour of 'Prayers For The Damned', the newie from Sixx:A.M., held at London's Sanctum Hotel. Drinkies were free and sure enough there *was* a little live music. Nikki Sixx and Dj Ashba sat on stools and strummed at unamplified acoustic guitars, while frontman James Michael did the best he could to make himself heard au naturel (apologies, the guy wouldn't stand still for long enough for me to take a decent piccie).
'Prayers For The Damned' is the US group's fourth release, though till now they've operated on a fairly low-key basis thanks to Sixx's membership of Mötley Crüe and Ashba being a part of Guns N' Roses. With both of those scenarios now ended, expect the band to become far more visible.
"Even ten years after 'The Heroin Dairies' [their debut album] we feel like a baby start-up band, quipped James Michael.
Not wishing to sound ungrateful but three songs – two oldies ('Stars' and 'Life Is Beautiful'), plus the new record's forthcoming single, 'Rise' – was all that the band saw fit to play. All were excellent tunes, it must be said, though it was hardly the right environment to hear them. That said, I shall look forward 'PFTD's arrival on April 29.
Naturally, I stayed until the bar tab ran dry. As I left, Sixx was still in the foyer going through the selfie ritual. I think he recognised me from our meeting last summer and waved across the room. When I pointed out that the band had looked a little like rabbits in the headlights as they played, he chuckled and shrugged: "Dude… we'd never done that before". I didn't get the impression he was looking forward to repeating the experiences.
My next gig was only a couple of blocks away. Though I'd enjoyed Rebecca Downes' 2015 debut album 'Back To The Start', previous attempts to take in a live show had failed. Her spot at the 100 Club in Oxford Street was a launch party for a follow-up disc entitled 'Believe'. A certain Harry James was also in attendance, which was nice.
The set-list of a surprisingly lengthy show was split between the two albums, 'Momma's Got A Gun' being arguably the best of the new material (she also included '1,000 Years' and 'Sailing On A Pool Of Tears'), while a smoky cover of the Etta James popularised 'I'd Rather Go Blind' was an effective showcase for a killer voice. I'd definitely go and see Downes again and with additional ciders trickling down the neck it turned out to be a rather splendid eve, though this morning I had every reason to dread that confounded alarm clock.
Tuesday 23rd February
It's always nice to find a professional reason for giving this l'il beaut an airing. 'Sweet Fanny Adams' by Sweet was the first album I ever bought, in the first week of its release in April 1974. I shall never forget the fact that it set me back the princely sum of £2.24, paid for out of my pocket money. I was familiar with the band's singles, of course, also the self-penned hard rockin' B-sides of those 45s, but the heavier sound of tracks such as 'Set Me Free', 'Sweet FA', 'Heartbreak Today' and 'Into The Night' were such a revelation, they really helped to shape my future taste in music. It's still in my Top Five albums ever released. My cherished original vinyl edition is autographed by Brian Connolly, Andy Scott and Mick Tucker. One of these days I hope that Steve Priest will sign it for me to complete the set.
Monday 22nd February
I'm starting to realise just how much I *hate* Sunday gigs - two hours across London from Catford to Islington, what's that all about? But the trudge to a surprisingly populated Assembly Hall for a headline show from Inglorious - last witnessed by yours truly opening for the Winery Dogs (see Diary, February 1) - was to prove worthwhile.
"We're Inglorious, we're from the UK... and Sweden", roared Nathan James, referring to the presence of a lone Scandinavian, guitarist Andreas Eriksson, in their line-up. A few months ago, Planet Rock's Paul Anthony declared the group "the future of rock and roll." With respect to Paul, who's a friend, such claims are so premature as to be faintly ludicrous. I'm not entirely convinced by their debut album but onstage the quintet certainly deliver and following that great tour with the Winery Dogs, which saw the headliners' Mike Portnoy add to a whole heap of existing star praise, their progress is obvious to see. Though some will find it tough to forgive James for appearing on The Voice, his delivery and projection are huge, the mid-paced track 'Bleed For You' in particular a vehicle for a prodigious gift, and, thankfully, the record's less immediate songs turn out to be growers. The band's choice of cover versions – Deep Puple's 'Lay Down, Stay Down', 'Girl Goodbye' from Toto and the Russ Ballard/Rainbow standard 'I Surrender' – says everything, especially as save for the last-named selection they're hardly obvious choices. These guys know their stuff, they mean business and they're perfectly aware that to progress they'll have to do things the hard way. For album number two they need to dismiss the backroom writers, though for the time being it's kinda cool that 'You're Mine' was co-penned with current Whitesnake guitarist Joel Hoekstra (hence its introduction with a tongue in cheek cry of "here's a song for ya"!)
The building blocks are all present and correct. Since the demise of Black Country Communion a gap in the market exists. Whether Inglorious have what it takes to ascend such lofty heights is something that only time will tell. But you know what? I'm rooting for them.
Sunday 21st February
I'm still grappling with the land of the living after Thunder at Wembley, and lashings of pre-gig prosecco with my friends Harj Kallah and Marlene Taylor in a hotel right next door to the Arena. Extortionate beer prices aside, it was a truly first-rate night out, followed by the after-show party and two night buses across London (no waking up in any depots either - hurrah). There are no prizes for guessing that I'm feeling rather fragile this morning, but extremely glad that the band has been added to the bill of this summer's Ramblin' Man Fair.
Having sung their praises for the last couple of years I made a point of gaining entry to the venue in time for the Glaswegian bluesy-hard rockers King King. This was the perfect support tour for guitarist/vocalist Alan Nimmo and company, and it was reassuring to meet people throughout the evening who would excitedly exclaim: "Did you see that first band? Weren't they fucking amazing?"
Oh dear... as I type I'm reminded that I approached Nimmo after the post-gig party and joked about speaking to him through an interpreter, the fellow Scottish native Marlene. I *think* he was amused, though couldn't say so with absolute certainty.
1990s pop-metal horrors Terrorvision were up next. I'd intended to watch them but went out to the bar to refresh my glass and... well, you can guess the rest. The Yorkshiremen sounded pretty good from where I was stood, though with a large concrete wall between us. Felt bad about missing them, but hey... I wasn't reviewing for anyone and it was Saturday night, so I grabbed an extra shandy or two with my friends Dave Craig, Andy Beare and Jeff Gilbert. Down, girls – just call us the new Take That. Ahem.
Having followed the Thunder guys since their Terraplane days I was very proud indeed of the lads. "We've been doing this for a long time, so to finally get here with nobody else coming on after us is a bit of a thrill," Danny Bowes announced triumphantly, to a roar from six thousand voices.
A Facebook friend of mine, Andy Nathan, has just wondered aloud how it is that on this latest 'comeback' they are playing to bigger crowds than ever before - did people collectively take them too much for granted before? I kind of agree with his 'taken for granted' theory but let's not forget Mr Bowes has managed them with tremendous skill. The band also made the right record in 'Wonder Days', so it would be unfair to leave out guitarist/songwriter Luke Morley, though extra credit goes to DB for his strenuous A&R-ing of the material. However it was masterminded, Thunder's huge achievement offers a beacon of hope for all traditional hard rock groups. Though I wouldn't be in a brand new group for all the vodka in Russia, the audiences are still out there. It's just a case of tapping into them. Er, did I really use the word *Just*…?
Wow… I didn't see that coming. My beloved Crystal Palace have just reached the quarter finals of the FA Cup for the first time in 21 years after a hard fought win over title-chasing Spurs at Might Fart Lane. Okay... off for drinks at the Inglorious gig. I'd intended doing this one with a clear had, but after such a fine result… no promises!
Saturday 20th February
Last night I conducted a nice in person interview with Michael Romeo, guitarist of Symphony X, before his group's show at Islington's Assembly Hall. It was good to chew the cud with the affable Romeo for the first time (previous interaction having taken place by phone). After nine albums and 22 years, the New Jersey-ites have perfected their brand of progressive Neo-classical metal, it turned out to be a stirring, triumphant evening of hard rock.
Though the audience enjoyed them, for me personally, opening act Melted Space got things off to a decidedly shaky start. An eight-piece group from France with four singers (two male, two female who work the stage in combination and also sometimes together) their symphonic yet melodic death metal presented a mass of contradictions that I found just a little too confusing to unravel.
Tunisian five-piece Myrath (pictured) provided a far more appetising hors d'oeuvre of flavoursome Mediterranean metal. Their set just got better and better and despite being a complete newbie to their material by the time they arrived at 'Nobody's Life' and 'Merciless Times' an exotic vibe and the fiery, colourful lead guitar playing of Malek Ben Arbia had well and truly sucked me in.
Finally, Symphony X arrived to served up the main course - a banquet of progressive Neo-classical metal (well, if you call 95 minutes a 'banquet' - having been spoiled by Dream Theater 24 hours earlier I considered quite measly). But what a performance; the new album 'Underworld' in its entirety and a masterclass in hard rock vocals from the incomparable Russell Allen, who's surely in the top ten lead singers out there on the circuit. As well as being a gifted singer, Allen holds the show together perfectly, using the knowledge that it was Tony Iommi's birthday to push a sold-out crowd over the edge. In tandem with Romeo's flamboyant yet melodic shred guitar, it's no wonder Symphony X have been feted as the natural successors to Heaven And Hell. If they didn't insisting on taking four or five years between albums and were prepared to make themselves a little more visible, the world could be theirs for the taking. If you've not yet heard 'Underworld'... well, what are you waiting for?!
Meanwhile, here's the set-list: 'Nevermore', 'Underworld', 'Kiss Of Fire', 'Without You', 'Charon', 'To Hell And Back', 'In My Darkest Hour', 'Run With The Devil', 'Swan Song', 'The Death Of Balance'/'Lacrymosa', 'Out Of The Ashes' and 'Sea Of Lies', rounded off by 'Set The World On Fire (The Lie Of Lies)' and 'Legend'.
Friday 19th February
Last night was spent among 2,285 other Dream Theater fanatics at London's Palladium as the US/Canadian progressive-metal giants began their latest world tour for a monstrously overblown double-album known as 'The Astonishing'.
With its ornate décor, comfy seats and olde-worlde atmosphere, this was the perfect venue for an occasion of such importance and gravitas. The audience had known in advance that the band would perform 'The Astonishing' – two hours and 20 minutes of what its biography terms a "retro-futurist post-apocalyptic dystopia ruled by medieval style feudalism" – in its entirety, but despite being forewarned, few had fully suspected the show's enormity. It was not to everybody's taste and of the gang of people that accompanied me to the Palladium, several made "a quick trip to the loo", never to return. It was their loss.
Asked to alternate his voice in order to portray multiple characters, the contribution of James LaBrie was pivotal. The Canadian has had his knockers in the past, but speaking as a veteran of each of the group's previous British tours, I'd never heard the 52-year-old sing so impressively before.
Frankly, if you're asking me to explain the concept then I haven't a clue, and neither do I really care… it's '2112' by Rush with Game Of Thrones and Stars Wars thrown in – that'll suffice. The band had resisted the temptation to use actors and actresses or even a formal narrator (LaBrie does that as well) and neither were there additional players onstage, the orchestral and choral parts being sampled from the album. It didn't matter.
Until three songs from the end, when the fans gradually began to stand, this didn't feel like a rock show in the traditional sense. And as the band basked in their well-deserved applause upon its conclusion, the show's operatic overtones took on a cinematic feel as a lengthy list of credits rolled behind them. (In my recent interview with Prog magazine the band voiced a desire to create a movie version of their story. Don't rule it out.)
Only the fullness of time will reveal whether 'The Astonishing' can be judged cathedral-like or a mere folly, but I'm willing to bet that it'll be the former option. Last night the group deserved their mantle as absolute messiahs of progressive-metal.
Wednesday 17th February
As promised a few days ago, here's my playlist of the 13 best Status Quo headbangers from 1971-1981. This should inspire some debate!
It's evening as I write, and I've just settled down following a tasty meal. Arnie and I are very happy that the fantastic Better Call Saul, the spin-off prequel to Breaking Bad, is back for a new series on Netflix. Yesssssss! Bob Odenkirk is *so* brilliant in the lead role.
Tuesday 16th February
I'd been looking forward to last night's two-hour premiere of Vinyl, Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger's dramatization of life in the record business during the 1970s, but alas episode #1 was thoroughly mediocre - especially the casting. Since when was Robert Plant a buck-toothed Cockney/borderline Australian? And the so-called 'Peter Grant' character needed to bulk up by about 15 stone. *Shakes head*...
Amazingly, the conclusion in which a building collapses to rubble around the central character, Richie Finestra, is absolutely true. The Mercer Arts Center *did* topple unexpectedly in a very real cloud of dust on the evening of August 3, 1973. (Though of course the New York Dolls weren't playing at the time).
Apparently, Bowie, Andy Warhol, Gram Parsons and Stephen Stills are all set to be portrayed in future episodes. This should be interesting! I haven't given up on Vinyl yet, but it's a close-run thing. And it seems that I'm far from alone in my disappointment.
Monday 15th February
Well, the last fortnight has been unusually quiet for gigs (or I've had phoners that happened to clash with the shows I fancied) but some rather good 'uns now lie ahead... Dream Theater @ the Palladium (Thurs), Symphony X @ Islington Assembly (Fri), Thunder/King King @ Wembley (Sat) and Inglorious @ Islington Assembly (Sun) - four in four days!
I shall deffo seek out a copy of Lita Ford's new tell-all autobiography, Living Like A Runaway. Based on this link in the New York Post, its contents do seem unusually indiscreet. Lita has seemingly spilled the beans on Jon Bon Jovi, Tony Iommi, Ritchie Blackmore, Glenn Tipton, Edward Van Halen, Nikki Sixx, John Entwistle, Dee Dee Ramone and others - that's quite a list. I'm willing to be that the Chris Holmes chapter(s) will also be worth waiting for!
Sunday 14th February
No, I don't want to talk about Crystal Palace's latest defeat – this time at home to newly promoted Twatford. Having had such high hopes a few months back the run of nine win-less league games is now extremely depressing. The Eagles drop to 13th in the table. At least Adebayor got on the scoresheet - scant consolation.
I'm feeling hung over but pleasantly stuffed from lunch, still suffering from my cold and lurking under my duvet in the living room chair - football, cricket and rugby are all set to be on tellybox over the next few hours. And of course there's that huge pile of Valentine's Day cards to sort through… I suppose there are far worse ways to spend an afternoon, aren't there?
In the meantime, here's my recent interview with Geddy Lee, in which the Rush bassist/vocalist talks about his 'unusual' singing voice, owning 5,000 bottles of wine and... er, drinking a dubious yet strangely attractive sounding concoction known as Panther Piss.
Saturday 13th February
Well, that was pretty rotten. I write in the aftermath of a second consecutive night of catarrh affected slumber; have been up since 2.30am in the living room chair, trying to sleep but knowing full well that it ain't gonna happen. BBC4's fascinating three-part series Music Moguls: Masters Of Pop kept me occupied – How nice to see these two fine gentlemen pop up on my screen during the episode about public relations! – but I felt like complete shit come sunrise. However, that won't stop me from heading across to Selhurst in a few hours, though! COYP!
Friday 12th February
No idea whether the story is true, but I'm intrigued by the suggestion that Glenn Hughes is reportedly set to join a consortium whose aim is to buy his beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers.
And still in the worlds of football and conjecture, I've been following with growing disgust the Tweets from a journo in a Bradford courtroom who's covering the Adam Johnson case. Johnson, released by his contract with Sunderland, admits grooming and kissing a 15-year-old girl but denies two more serious charges of sexual activity with a child. What an odious twat, why on earth would someone with such a gorgeous girlfriend, with whom he has a child, behave in such a scummy way? The world becoming is a very strange place indeed.
Thursday 11th February
Given the sad news about Status Quo's abandonment of their electric era (see Diary, February 1st), Classic Rock have asked me to compile a list of the band's most underappreciated dandruff-shakers for their Best Of Everything series. So today has been a bit of a boogie-fest, up to my eyes in vinyl from 'Dog Of Two Head' to, well… whenever I saw fit to draw the line. And you know what? I've bloody well loved it. I shall letcha know when it's posted – try seeing how many of my selections you agree with.
[Edit: In the wake of a long day of rocking out, it was time to cook an evening meal for the lads. Sometimes a little white lie works wonders. F'rinstance when they ask what they're munching on I find it's advisable to tell them 'meaty dumplings' instead of 'faggots'. *Smirks*].
Wednesday 10th February
Yet another of my old stories has just been posted at the TeamRock website, this one is about the early days of Sepultura. I used to cover Max Cavalera and company quite a lot for RAW Magazine back in the day. They were always great company, and very quotable. I especially loved the fact that Max awarded Jason Arnopp, then of Kerrang!, the affectionate nickname of "ladies' hair". Thinking about it now, I dread to think what they might have called me!! Hehe.
I'm pretty pleased with the article, which relates how Cavalera and guitarist Andreas Kisser met Lemmy at the St Moritz club following their own debut at London's Marquee Club in 1989, a clash that saw Kilmister pour a glass of whiskey over Max's head after he interrupted the Motörhead mainman's concentration at the fruit machine.
"I returned to the table in a mixture of shock and ecstasy," Cavalera told me, laughing. "I told Andreas: 'I've just been baptised by Lemmy'. To me it was the most awesome thing ever. It was like a meeting with Jesus; I was in heaven."
Tuesday 9th February
Gee, thanks postie! I'd been dying to get my hands on 'Still Got That Hunger', the new 'un from The Zombies for a while. Colin Blunstone still has a set of pipes to be envied, and there are some superb songs here. I've just been surfing around Amazon, trying without success to find a compilation that includes my two favourite Zombies tunes – no prizes for guessing that they're 'Time Of The Season' and 'She's Not There', which is annoying but at the very least it's about darned time I owned their 1968 album 'Odessey And Oracle' on CD.
Sunday 7th February
So you meet up with an artist at 6.30pm to discuss their forthcoming album for Prog Magazine and still end up getting a night bus home. It's all set up as a civilised arrangement, but once the work's done there's a mutually agreed decision to stay for another drink. And another. One more for the road? Oh well, it's almost last orders… rude not to make the most of it. Suffice to say, I ended up crashed out on the sofa, munching on a kebab and belatedly watching England's game in rugby's Six Nations. John Dexter Jones of the band Jump… you are a very, very bad man.
I'm moderately happy that Palace returned to London with a point from yesterday's 1-1 draw at Swansea. Yet another goal from a defender – Scott Dann – but following a depressing run of defeats that isn't a bad result when all's said and done.
Anyway… Happy birthday to Sir Alan Lancaster. One of rock music's greatest!! Accept no substitute… 'Nuff said!
Saturday 6th February
It's lunchtime as I type and having crawled in from the after-show party at 4.30am I'm still paying the price for a real spit 'n' sawdust evening in the company of The Cadillac Three and Whiskey Myers at a sold-out Electric Ballroom.
You've got to love a band whose record label is called Wiggy Thump Records, right? Whiskey Myers recently debuted in Classic Rock (I spoke to their frontman Cody Cannon) and were also a part of a round-up called "the new bad boys of country rock" in Playboy magazine. Er… so I'm told… allegedly. It's no wonder people are talking about the five-piece who serve up plenty of slide geetar action (a guest keysman also doubles up on sax) and a great set of chewns. With Cannon strapping on an axe of his own the solos are rich 'n' fruity, the intensity levels high. For me, the highlight of an extremely impressive six-song set was the Allmans-esque 'Wild Baby Shake Me'. If you're heading off to the Ramblin' Man Fair in the summer, make sure to check out these fine dudes from Tyler, East Texas.
This was my third sighting of Cadillac Three, having seen them for the first time two years earlier almost by accident opening for Blackberry Smoke as barely known minnows. On this occasion they actually had decent lighting. In the past they've tended to almost hide in the dim murkiness of the stage. Last night, at their biggest London gig to date, there was a noticeable step up in just about every regard. "Hearing all ya'll weird accents I feel like things are growing in a good way", drawled Jaren Johnston before the band played 'Tennesse Mojo', later adding: "When we get back to Nashville we're gonna tell everyone that Southern Rock is alive and well in the UK."
Some would have you believe that there are no great new bands coming through. Let me tell you, those people are wrong. But the biggest question of the night… where on earth was Xavier 'The Baron Of Bourbon' Russell?!
Here's to that magical moment when Nightwish's 'Bye Bye Beautiful' pops up on iTunes, and you end up leaping around the room... despite your hangover!!! It's called the power of a great song. Oh, hang on... here's Ted Nugent's 'Wango Tango'. The Linglets will have to wait a while longer for their lunch!
Friday 5th February
Well, that's the last phoner of the week out of the way, a very interesting chat with Steve Howe ahead of Yes' upcoming UK tour in April and May, a run of dates on which they are to perform two albums - 1971's 'Fragile' and 1980's 'Drama' - in their entirety, the latter for the very first time. We spoke about that fact, naturally, plus the possibility of Yes recording again in the post-Squire era, Howe's departure from Asia... he's a bit of a chatterbox, so it was an interesting conversation.
It's mid-afternoon and I've gotta admit my mind is now drifting towards the sun rising above the yardarm and a slice of good ol' Southern Rawwwkkkk from The Cadillac Three and Whiskey Myers. Get outta the way at the bar – there's a thirsty guy coming through!!!!
Thursday 4th February
This is great! My newest Facebook friend, former Girlschool guitarist Cris Bonacci, just tagged me in a classic photograph taken in 1989 at the 30th anniversary party of London's Marquee Club (it was in Tottenham Court Road at the time). Along with Kim McAuliffe and Tracey Lamb, she can be seen admiring my Mentors T-shirt as I raise aloft a can of Red Stripe lager! Great times.
For those that pay attention to such things, the Playlist and YouTube pages have been updated.
Wednesday 3rd February
Very disappointed indeed by Crystal Palace's latest capitulation, this time during a home game with Prem League minnows Bournemouth. To be honest, the visitors played like Palace did when we were first promoted to the top flight - it sickens me to say it but they deserved the win on that 2nd half display of theirs.
I was still feeling cold, slightly down in the dumps, a bit under-appreciated and lonesome when the butler at Ling Towers brought me a new arrival - Thunder's new triple-disc set, 'All You Can Eat'... 'Live At RAK Studios', the final version of the Brooklyn Bowl show released with Classic Rock and a documentary called Wonder Days - The Film. Niiiiiiice. I shall be leaping around the room in a bit!
Uggg. It's late evening and as I type I'm reviewing a re-issue of Greg Lake's über-bland 1983 album, 'Manoeuvres', for Prog magazine. Talk about wimpy; it makes Michael Bolton sound like Emperor. I'm not entirely sure that I can face an evening meal after such a nauseating experience.
Tuesday 2nd February
Iron Maiden's 'Killers' album is 35 years old today, how on earth did that happen??!! To celebrate, here is my list of the definitive Di'Anno-era gems.
Status Quo have announced that they are to hang up their electric guitars and following one final European tour will be performing in an unplugged format only. Venues and ticket details for The Last Night Of The Electrics trek, due to hit the UK in December, will be announced shortly. "We always thought we'd see a red light when it was time to stop," explains Rick Parfitt. "The show hurts now, physically. It's hard to maintain that level of energy and without that it's not really a Quo show. So this is definitely the end of the electric set. Life won't be the same for us – or many of the fans – but we can't go on at this pace anymore." The story brings mixed feelings here at Ling Towers. However one chooses to look at it, the development marks the end of an era. I'd heard the whispers for quite a while, and it's very sad indeed. Though I stopped going to see them after the Frantics reunions, the Quo will always be my favourite band. That's why it was an honour to write the sleeve essays for these l'il beauts!
Monday 1st February
I'd resigned myself to missing last night's gig by the Winery Dogs until an 11th hour text informed me that someone had dropped off the guest list and I could go after all… what a result! The Forum was packed, obviously, a fact that openers Inglorious made the most of. Theirs is a tight-trousered, tussle-haired strand of retro-hard rock. Throwing shapes and hitting all of the top notes with ease, Nathan James is a sensational vocalist in the style of an Ian Gillan, a Bruce Dickinson or a Ronnie James Dio and the band's 50 minute, 11-song set – which included covers of 'I Surrender' by Rainbow and Toto's 'Goodbye Girl' – went down a storm, along with originals 'High Flying Gypsy', 'Breakaway' and 'You're Mine', the latter co-written with Joel Hoekstra of Whitesnake.
The Winery Dogs are among my favourite so-called 'new' bands; okay, their members all have long, highly regarded histories but the trio made one of the best debuts of 2013 and its just-issued successor 'Hot Streak' is only their second studio album, so I guess they just about qualify. Largely due to the presence of bassist Billy Sheehan in both acts, I've met folks who dismiss the Dogs as a budget version of Mr Big. A somewhat uncharitable and blinkered view, for sure, but it's their loss. Another obvious commonality is the shared musician-intensive approach, though except for that of Sheehan, whose solo drags on way too much, the Winery Dogs' individual spots are kept unusually, tastefully brief; instead the players stretch out and improvise within the context of different songs. During 'The Other Side' they really let themselves go, Mike Portnoy wandering the stage and belting out rhythms on inanimate objects, before the song becomes a heaving funk workout. And those soulful vocals of guitarist Richie Kotzen's are just remarkable.
Save for an encore cover of Bowie's 'Moonage Daydream', the set-list offered the cream of both records, including a spine-tingling 'Think It Over', delivered by Kotzen at the electric piano, the sassy 'n' funky 'Hot Streak' and another cowbell-tastic newie, 'Captain Love'. Here's the entirety of what they played: 'Oblivion', 'Captain Love', 'We Are One', 'Hot Streak', 'How Long', 'Time Machine', 'Empire', 'Fire', 'Think It Over', Drum Solo, 'The Other Side', Bass Solo, 'Ghost Town', 'I'm No Angel' and 'Take Me Higher', plus 'Moonage Daydream', 'Regret' and 'Desire'.