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)

Back to the Diary Archives

Sunday 31st January
I’m proud of my beloved Eagles. With the playing staff set to be eroded away by every Tom Dick And Harry with a few bob (Victor Moses to Wigan for £2.5m is DAYLIGHT ROBBERY), the coming months will offer far tougher games than Peterborough at home. Selhurst must be transformed into a fortress. Yesterday’s 2-0 victory wasn’t a bad start and I loved the way Warnock and the team stood in the centre circle to soak up the appreciation of the fans after the whistle blew. From now on, till a buyer comes forward, every game is a cup final. Tickets for the away games at Watford and Doncaster are already in my wallet – bring it on!!!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Saturday 30th January
Last night was spent at the 100 Club as a gentle warm-up for today’s must-win game against Peterborough United. Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash were the band I’d gone to see. Featuring many of my own personal all-time Ash favourites, including ‘You See Red’ and the timeless ‘Phoenix’, as well as a song that Turner claimed the group had never performed live before (‘Ships In The Sky’, from 1978’s ‘No Smoke Without Fire’), their almost two-hour show was a delight. That having been said, I remain unconvinced by the wisdom of allowing guitarists Ray Hatfield and Danny Willson to take on the occasional lead vocal. And for all his considerable prowess as a singer Turner himself was a little out of sorts, uncharacteristically fluffing the first few lines of the ‘Wishbone Four’ gem ‘Sorrel’. I was also staunchly unamused by his encore comment regarding Andy Powell. Having dedicated ‘Jailbait’ to “the original members of Wishbone Ash”, after namechecking guitarist Ted Turner and drummer Steve Upton, I felt it gratuitous to feign confusion and quip: “Who’s that other geezer… oh yeah, Andy Powell”. For clarity’s sake, had it been the other way around – Powell disrespecting Turner – I’d have done the exact same thing: put down my pint and walk out in disgust. Anyway, here’s the set-list: ‘The King Will Come’, ‘Vas Dis’, ‘Ballad Of The Beacon’, ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Widow’, ‘Sorrel’, ‘Everybody Needs A Friend’, ‘Blind Eye’, ‘Phoenix’, ‘Lost Cause In Paradise’, ‘Error Of My Ways’, ‘Ships In The Sky’, ‘You See Red’, ‘Warrior’, ‘Throw Down The Sword’ and ‘Blowin’ Free’, with encores of ‘Time And Space’, ‘Living Proof’ and ‘Jailbait’.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Friday 29th January
I’ve not felt like posting for the past few days, but thanks to all those that emailed or texted their commiserations regarding Crystal Palace entering administration. With the club haemorrhaging 100K a week and in debt to the tune of £32 mill, it was a development I had been expecting. That said, its cold, hard reality was still pretty shocking. I had actually been doing an interview with Petter Ericson Stakee of the band Alberta Cross when the first text arrived. Pretty soon a trickle became a flurry. Dan Tobin from Earache Records at least made me giggle, asking whether I was planning on selling a kidney (“Obviously your liver would be worthless, so...”), but with ten points deducted the Eagles have gone from chasing the play-offs to a single place above the relegation zone. Ouch. Playing table-toppers Newcastle at St James’ Park on Wednesday evening, with players, back-room staff and supporters still reeling, definitely separated the princes from the paupers, though the Eagles put on a typically plucky display and were desperately unlucky not to have claimed at least a point despite conceding a freak first half own goal (it never rains, etc). Our survival chances are buoyed by manager Neil Warnock having committed to help the club out of this sorry mess, and with tomorrow’s game against rock-bottom Peterborough transformed into a relegation dogfight, I will be fired up and boozed up, ready to sing for 90 minutes. Oh yes.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Tuesday 26th January
AC/DC have been formally unveiled as the first of the headliners at this year’s Download Festival, with rumours the band will celebrate the 30th anniversary of ‘Back In Black’ by performing the LP in its entirety. With Megadeth, Motörhead, Stone Temple Pilots, Them Crooked Vultures and Wolfmother also lined up, that’s quite an impressive early line-up. Shame that, being a World Cup year, I will not be able to attend. Along with CR’s own High Voltage bash, the mighty Maiden at Sonisphere will be my summer festival jaunt.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Monday 25th January
Like so many other rock fans I was upset by yesterday’s announcement that the Scorpions are to call it a day after the tour for what will be the band’s final album, ‘A Sting In The Tail’ (due in March). The Germans have been so focused and good onstage these last few years, I figured they still had several more years of rocking in the tank. But thinking about it, if the inerweb is to believed frontman Klaus Meine and rhythm guitarist Rudolf Schenker have both reached the ripe old age of 61, with lead guitarist Matthias Jabs seven years behind. They’ve definitely had a good innings and it certainly makes a change for a band to go out at the top of its game. Some of my most cherished rock and metal memories are indebted to the Scorps, including the time on 1980’s ‘Animal Magnetism’ tour they headlined London’s Hammersmith Odeon with an unknown band called Blackfoot in support, or interviewing them in the studio circa the ‘Unbreakable’ album in 2004.
Last night I joined a rather sizeable crowd that included Jeff Scott Soto at the Islington Academy for the return to London of Stryper. 23 years had passed since the US band played the Hammersmith Odeon to promote ‘To Hell With The Devil’. Having seen that show I thought I knew what to expect, but all of my expectations were surpassed. People often refer to Stryper as Christian rock, but they are definitely a Christian **metal** band, featuring some of the best melodic lead (and harmony back-up) vocals this writer has ever heard. Bashing out the riffs and armour-plated twin-leads, the quartet overlooked all their ballads – even the hit song ‘Honestly’ – in favour of a full-on artillery assault. No, don’t laugh!! Mid-set they even covered Judas Priest’s ‘Breaking The Law’, remaining with non-original material by welding some additional powerchords to Boston’s ‘Peace Of Mind’ (for those that don’t know, Michael Sweet actually toured as a member of Boston a year after Brad Delp’s suicide in 2007). Sweet’s brother Robert still plays sideways-on to the audience, so that his every animal-esque paradiddle can be seen and, yes, of course they threw some Bibles out into the audience. My friend Ian actually caught one – well, got hit by it! After two encores, the latter of which was a fabulous ‘To Hell With The Devil’, a prayer from Michael Sweet sent us on our way home… clearly the Stryper dudes are familiar with the inadequacies of London’s Sunday night transport system. All kidding aside, however, the show was superb. Here’s the set-list: ‘Soldiers Under Command’, ‘Murder By Pride’, ‘Loud And Clear’, ‘The Rock That Makes Me Roll’, ‘Reach Out’, ‘Calling On You’, ‘Free’, ‘More Than A Man’, ‘Breaking The Law’, ‘Peace Of Mind’, ‘4 Leaf Clover’, ‘Open Your Eyes’, ‘All For One’, ‘My Love I’ll Always Show’ and ‘The Way’, with encores of ‘Sing-Along Song’ and ‘To Hell With The Devil’.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Sunday 23rd January
I’d decided against attending yesterday’s Wolves-Palace game. With dreaded memories of the underpass that leads from the city centre to the ground, Molineux is not the most hospitable of places for an away fan. I’ve certainly had my share of hairy moments in Wolverhampton, notably after Palace stuffed the Wanderers during the promotion season of 96/97, followed in the evening by a Thunder gig at the Civic Hall. Oddly, nobody except Harry James appeared to appreciate my mandatory wearing of red ‘n’ blue stripes – I sometimes wonder how I got away with such exploits.
But when my friend Mark Cousins called late on Friday afternoon offering a lift to the game, I was tempted. Let’s face it, the way things are looking, there may not be a Crystal Palace FC for too much longer. I’m so glad that I accepted. The match finished 2-2, with Palace twice taking the lead. From my perspective, Wolves were pretty lucky to salvage a draw with an admittedly stunning 84th-minute chest down and volley from Ronald Zubar. Mostly, though, the day was about the crack of a good old-fashioned away trip. The first cider hit the lips at 7.30am and I finally stopped drinking at around 10pm, the only respite being the 90 minutes of the game. I’ve worked out that I drank two litres of cider on the journey north and three on the way home, notwithstanding the pints in a Wolverhampton pub and a double-Baileys chaser before heading to the ground. Had the Eagles held out for another six minutes, the perfect day would have been complete. Oh well, the income from a replay at Selhurst won’t do the coffers any harm.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Friday 22nd January
En route to last night’s Jackdaw4 gig, I popped into Fopp Records and picked up a couple of bargains. Roger Waters’ ‘The Pros And Cons Of Hitchhiking’ is a record I’d never owned on CD before, and I also scooped up the re-mastered re-issue of Johnny Winters’ self-titled debut from 1969, complete with sleeve notes and bonus tracks. Three quid apiece… lovely!
Incredibly, five years had flown by since my last sighting of Jackdaw4. The 100 Club was respectably full as Willie Dowling and company kick-started a new bout of activity that should keep them busy for the next few months. A double best-of album called ‘Retrospectacles’ pulls together material from the two existing two studio records, followed by a brand new CD titled ‘The Eternal Struggle For Justice’ in the early summertime, at which point the band will go out on tour. Two tunes from that disc, ‘Wire To The Wire’ and ‘The Eternal Struggle For Justice’ itself, suggest that the new music will be worth waiting for. Dowling is both a superb writer and a captivatingly witty frontman, and as songs like ‘This Is Your Life’ and the celebrity-mocking ‘Sooma’ – the latter also known as ‘The Sun Shines Out Of My Ass’ – fly by, the listener is left wondering how on earth they did not become hits. Here’s hoping they will be afforded a second chance. [As an aside, however, I also heard an interesting rumour that Dowling’s former band Honeycrack may be considering a reunion… remember where you heard it first]. Here’s the set-list: ‘My Little Gangsta’, ‘This Is Your Life’, ‘Frobisher’s Last Stand’, ‘Sooma’, ‘Jesus Wants My Soul Back’, ‘Beautiful Game’, ‘Wire To The Wire’, ‘The Eternal Struggle For Justice’, ‘King For A Day’, ‘Bipolar Diversions’, ‘End Of The Party’, ‘Deep And Meaningless’ and encores of ‘Happy? (Dumka)’, ‘Anyway’ and ‘Hey Bulldog’.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Thursday 21st January
Yesterday’s highpoint was a phone chat with Gary Rossington, the last surviving founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, as a preamble for the band’s British tour in March. When Skynyrd last rolled through the UK (see Diary 1st June ’09), they focussed upon material exclusively from 1973-1977. Expect to hear a lot more from ‘God & Guns’, their excellent latest disc, this time around.
This evening I will be at the 100 Club for a gig from Jackdaw 4, a relatively new band featuring former The Grip/The Wildhearts/Cat People/Honeycrack member Willie Dowling, a guy whose talent I’ve long admired. Willie was involved in one of my most embarrassing moments in rock ‘n’ roll. Back in the days when I was employed by RAW Magazine, he and CJ from The Wildhearts formed Honeycrack – a band I thought were brilliant. Anyway, under strict warning that she would convert me into a eunuch if I played it anybody, a friend that worked as a music publisher passed me a copy of the band’s very first demo-tape. RAW had a relatively new editor at the time, Jon Hotten, so I could not resist trying to prove that I had my finger on the pulse and said, ‘Jon, take a listen to this, it’s brilliant’. As the office gathered around the hi-fi (remember those?!), gradually nodding their approval, the phone on my desk rang. I went to pick it up. Would you Adam & Eve it, the caller was none other than Willie bloody Dowling, whose voice rose as he stated: “Hmmm… that song in the background sounds very familiar”. I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Wednesday 20th January
Although I was gutted to have missed the first part of Daughtry’s support slot, for reasons I won’t bore you with, yesterday’s Nickelback gig was a great night out. Only ever having seen Daughtry – a ‘modern rock’ act based around former American Idol contestant Chris Daughtry – at London’s tiny club the Borderline, I was unprepared for the hysteria that greeted his set. Most of the sold out Wembley Arena was already in its seats, and there was plenty of girlie screaming to be heard. Back in the States, Daughtry are a multi-platinum-selling, arena-headlining act. Here they’re best known for the song ‘What About Now’, which was a Top 20 hit and has been seen on The X Factor. Without wishing to belittle Daughtry’s indisputable talent, it just goes to show the real power of TV. Watching the laydeeeez screaming and their boyfriends mouthing the lyrics was a valuable reminder that rock ‘n’ roll is meant to be sexy. Daughtry connect on this level as well as musically, and it can only be a matter of time before he becomes a star in this country.
I last saw Nickelback eight years ago, in a spooky coincidence in almost exactly the same Wembley seat. The Canucks had just broken through with their ‘Silver Side Up’ album and in all honesty appeared slightly dumbstruck to find themselves on arena stages. Four albums later, the most recent of which (2008’s Dark Horse’) is now Platinum-rated in the UK, Nickelback are virtually unrecognisable. Guitarist Chad Kroeger in particular has really come out of his shell to become a fine frontman. That said, he’s **far** too fond of his own voice and I found some of the between-song banter a little tedious – the baiting of roadie/extra guitarist and keyboard player Timmy got very old very fast. But the show is far grander than before, with a snakepit either side of the stage, an additional playing area in the middle of the hall (utilised for a two-song acoustic set) and plenty of lights and explosions – the exact same show that people complain North American bands don’t bother bringing to the UK anymore.
One thing remains unchanged, however. Reviewers still loath the band – and the feeling is mutual. “The critics call us unoriginal bastards but when was the last time they said anything different about Nickelback?” remarked Kroeger, feigning indifference very badly. “They think, ‘How come this band comes to town, sells out arenas and sells lots of records? How come nobody hates them like I do?’ Well, it’s because we’re not pretentious, stuck-up sons of bitches, just a band that likes to play rock ‘n’ roll songs to good fucking people.” Do you know what? On the evidence of last night, I think it’s about time we got off Nickelback’s case. Here’s the set-list: ‘Something In Your Mouth’, ‘Because Of You’, ‘Photograph’, ‘Figured You Out’, ‘Savin' Me’, ‘Far Away’, ‘Gotta Be Somebody’, ‘If Everyone Cared’, ‘If Today Was Your Last Day (Unplugged)’, ‘Rockstar (Unplugged)’, ‘Burn It To The Ground’, Drum Solo, ‘How You Remind Me’ and ‘Too Bad’, with encores of ‘Someday’ and ‘Animals.
P. S. Bachman-Turner Overdrive are among the latest additions to Classic Rock’s High Voltage Festival. B-b-b-b-b-b-baby, that’s very cool with me. And how about this… Uriah Heep will also be performing their classic album from 1972, ‘Demons & Wizards’, in its entirety. Result!!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Tuesday 19th January
I’m back in the gig-going groove. On paper, last night’s Faster Pussycat and Enuff Z’Nuff gig at the Underworld looked way too good to resist. What I hadn’t taken into account was the gratuitous addition of two support bands – Dirty Passion and Suicide Tuesday. So the longer than usual Z’Nuff set that bassist Chip Z’Nuff had been promising was never going to be a realistic prospect. Why, I wonder, do promoters insist in fleshing out an already appetising bill with superfluous additional acts? Surely I cannot be alone in thinking it would be better to have seen Faster Pussycat and Enuff Z’Nuff alone, playing 75-90 minutes each, than suffer the truncated sets that such time limitations demand?
With Donnie Vie back on vocals after a considerable absence, Enuff Z’Nuff were sensational. Okay, Vie’s voice has lost a little of its lower register which sometimes made it sound slightly flimsy, but you could see he was enjoying himself and putting in no little amount of effort. Two songs from the forthcoming ‘Dissonance’ album validated Chip Z’Nuff’s recent claim that the Chicagoans are right back at the top of their game and, sprinkled with tunes from the quartet’s now legendary eponymous debut (issued back in 1989), the set-list – ‘Rock ‘N’ World’, ‘Baby Loves You’, ‘We’re All Alright’, ‘For Now’, ‘Dissonance’, ‘High’, ‘In The Groove’, ‘Come Together’, ‘Fly High Michelle’ and ‘New Thing’ – was tremendous. The crowd cheered for minutes on end, trying unsuccessfully to entice Enuff Z’Nuff back out onto the stage. I would **not** want to have been a member of Faster Pussycat at that point in time.
Come to think of it, the only time that membership of the Pussies could be considered fun is circa the Los Angeles group’s debut album, from 1987. That year they famously supported Guns N’ Roses on a British tour and, for my money at least, blew the headliners offstage at London’s Hammersmith Odeon. Oh, how times change. Now, sadly, having ditched their lithe, alley cat sound in favour of bloated, sub-industrial noise, the Pussies have become a very unfunny joke. Having endured their first song, a grotesque revision of the once-brilliant ‘Bathroom Wall’, I hurriedly made my excuses and headed for the door. Neither was I alone. Uggghhh… horrid.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Monday 18th January
Yesterday afternoon was spent at a record fair – in a pub! Does it get much better than that??!! Well, with England being crushed in the cricket – South Africa levelled the series after sealing the Fourth Test by an innings and 74 runs – I had to do **something** to get out of the house. Sadly, the record fair wasn’t much to speak of. I picked up a mint copy of Roger Daltrey’s soundtrack to the McVicar movie, also a BB King album that I didn’t own (1979’s ‘Take It Home’) but afterwards it was pleasant to sit and chill, sinking a few vodka ‘n’ Diet Cokes with John Dryland and Jerry Ewing. Towards the afternoon’s end, Philip Wilding also dropped in, clutching copies of his new novel. So, all in all, it was a very leisurely Sunday.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Saturday 16th January
It’s almost 7pm and I’ve cracked open a large bottle of white wine to celebrate this afternoon’s result. Plymouth Are Gargoyles 0, Crystal Palace 1. The Eagles’ first half winner was notched by who else but Victor Moses and was, by all accounts, a bit special. With web reports suggesting it was set up by “a Cruyff-like turn” then despatched through a defender’s legs, I can’t wait to see it on the TV. What a piss-poor shame that England seem to have thrown away the cricket; only the weather can save Strauss’ men now.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Friday 15th January
My first hangover of 2010 has arrived after a night in the Crobar with Malcolm Dome, Brian Howe and a gang of assorted revellers. It had been many years since I last saw Mr Howe, whose opening gambit was announced with a perfectly straight face, and actually had me going for a nano-second. "I gave up drinking 16 years ago," he announced before mischievously adding: "It was the worst 20 minutes of my life!" Howe has some terrific tales from his days with Bad Company and Ted Nugent, and it was good to swap footie banter with somebody that shares my full, tragicomic obsession with the sport. Brian is such a Pompey fanatic, he actually tried to buy his beloved club several years ago, losing out to Milan Mandaric in a bout of sealed bids. I guess that kinda trumps me, though I've just checked my bank balance and I do actually have the £4.50 it would cost to buy Crystal Palace right now.
Halfway through the evening my mate John Dryland from Cargo Records stumbled in, with Tyla of the Dogs D'Amour at his elbow. Naturally, the air of boisterousness went up a few notches. Then, as we stood at the bar swigging and gossiping as though both had become Olympic events, a text arrived from Mostly Autumn's Heather Findlay, offering advance warning of a statement that would shortly be going out. Having become a mum not too long ago, Heather has decided to leave the band. Gotta admit I didn't see that coming. But as one band undergoes difficulties, another is born and the line-up of Glenn Hughes' 'supergroup' - to be named Black Country - is now complete. Joining the Voice Of Rock are guitarist Joe Bonamassa, drummer Jason Bonham and ex-Dream Theater/Alice Cooper keysman Derek Sherinian. So long as they take some time to write real songs instead of 'doing a Chickenfoot' - going into the studio, jamming and recording the results - methinks that grouping displays mucho potential.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Thursday 14th January
YES! The pouring overnight rain is washing away the snow. I was in a buoyant mood until turning on the TV for the start of the Test match, just in time to see Andrew Strauss losing his wicket to the day’s opening delivery – the first Englishman to depart in such an ignominious manner in 74 years. England require just a draw to win the series, but after being routed for a total of 180 on what looked like a prefect batting track, such a feat is starting to look bloody unlikely.
At around 5pm I got an email from Malcolm Dome, who was going for a drink with Brian Howe. Did I want to join them? I told Malc: Yes, of course… why the heck not? Then the computer suddenly went, ‘Ping!’ Malcolm’s reply stated: “Brian has asked if you will refrain from wearing women’s clothing tonight.” Oh dear, given that the last time Malc, Brian and I went out on the razz together, Howe woke up the following morning on an empty train in the railway sidings, this could get messy.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Wednesday 13th January
Though most seemed to agree with my rant regarding manners (see Monday’s Diary), my Classic Rock colleague Nick Shilton is convinced that my propensity to complain will turn me into the new Victor Meldrew (like I’d take such abuse from a fuggin’ **shandy-drinking lawyer**).
But, having said that…. At 7am this morning I DID moan “Oh fuck, this cannot be real” after looking out of the window into a garden once again covered by several inches of snow. I’d gone to bed last night safe in the knowledge that the thaw was on its way, mildly optimistic of shaking off a head-cold that has now plagued me for almost three weeks and looking forward to a resumption of normal everyday life. Now this… the kids’ schools are closed, I narrowly avoided falling on my arse whilst negotiating the path to my office and the weekend’s football programme is bound to be postponed once again.
All together now: I DON’T BEEEEEE-LIEEEEVE IT!!!!!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Tuesday 12th January
Brrrrrrrrr, it’s chilly outside. But here in my office the temperature is soaring, due to the latest package of promo CDs from Frontiers Records. Both due on February 26th, the new albums from Giant (‘Promise Land’) and Brian Howe (‘Circus Bar’) are really hitting the spot. Purely for the fact that guitarist/frontman Dann Huff is no longer involved, the former has attracted all sorts of foot-stamping and vitriol over at www.melodicrock.com. For me, Huff’s vocal replacement, Terry Brock (Strangeways/Seventh Key), sounds absolutely superb on the radio-rock of ‘Believer (Redux)’, ‘Never Surrender’, ‘When Two Words Collide’ and ‘Through My Eyes’. Fair enough, there are a smattering of so-so plodders (‘Double Trouble’, f’rinstance) but the plusses far outweigh the minuses. Brian Howe’s album is equally enjoyable. Its classy opening anthem, ‘I’m Back’, has been buzzing around my head for most of the past week. In fact, a clear and bright mix from Rafe McKenna (whose studio credits include Tesla, Wishbone Ash, Foreigner, Richard Marx and Ten) adds a pop-friendly sheen to the consistency of the material. There are two remakes of Bad Company tunes – ‘How ’Bout That’ and ‘Holy Water’ – while Pat Travers adds some guitar to the autobiographical dittie ‘My Town’, which samples the roar of a football crowd (yet another goal against Pompey, presumably). A hit, I’d say…
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Monday 11th January
Arnie’s birthday party took place yesterday. He wanted to go to one of those quasar places and shoot lasers at his friends, then pig out on burgers and cake afterwards. Fair enough. Had I been his age, it’s something I’d probably have enjoyed. But I’m not his age. Nowhere near. At the front door, the noise from within stopped you in your tracks. A small room crammed with ten year-olds, all bellowing and roaring for attention. I earn a living from going deaf at the hands of Motörhead and Slayer, but the volume cut me in two. Three hours later, I’d somehow become numb to its shrillness. The party finished as scheduled at 4.30 but the **real** fun was about to begin. Afterwards we sat around and waited for the parents to collect their offspring. The majority were on time, offering a smile and/or thanks, but I was left gritting my teeth at those that with breathtaking rudeness strolled in half an hour or 35 minutes late without apology or greeting, merely grabbing Little Johnny and walking back out to their car. I was always told that manners maketh the man. People really are becoming social pygmies.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Saturday 9th January
As feared, Palace’s game with Bristol Shitty has been postponed, leaving a gaping chasm in my Saturday routine. What do instead? Some work, I guess. But first I had some documents to drop off with the accountant so, having been cooped up in my office all week, I jumped on a bus to the Record & Tape Exchange in Greenwich. Intended to delve through the bargain racks for just an hour or so, but you know how it is… three hours later I’m homewards bound weighed downed by vinyl and CDs, and it’s snowing… AGAIN. Equally annoying, with bassist/frontman Tom Araya now set to undergo back surgery at the end of this month, Slayer have postponed their UK dates – due to have taken place in early March – for the second time. Hmm, I wonder if this setback will affect the summer’s long-awaited festival performances from the ‘Big Four’ of thrash? The ‘Big Three’ doesn’t have quite the same ring, does it?
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Friday 8th January
Sadly, there’s no sign of the UK’s icy weather loosening its grip. Last nite the temperature dipped at minus 21 in the Scottish Highlands… Brrrr, that’s enough to freeze the testes off a haggis… Although Palace have hired in extra covers and heating for the Selhurst Park pitch, I don’t see any realistic prospect of tomorrow’s game against the in-breds of Bristol Shitty taking place. The playing area will probably be fine, but these days they also factor in the public walkways and rounds surrounding the stadium – the Nanny State gone mad, if you ask me. It’s only a bit of fucking snow, after all. Just walk and/or drive a bit more carefully…
Just been playing a vintage bootleg cassette of Iron Maiden’s ‘secret’ gig as Genghis Khan at the Ruskin Arms – considering the show took place 29 years ago (on 23rd December, 1981), I was amazed at how good it still sounded (no requests for copies please, though). In what was only his fifth or sixth appearance with the band, Bruce Dickinson sings amazingly… and the set-list; wow! Besides loads of corkers for the first two albums, the band offer world premieres of two songs that they’d “just been rehearsing” before appearing on their next offering, ‘The Number Of The Beast’ – you might have heard of it! – namely, ‘Run To The Hills’ and ‘The Prisoner’. More amazingly still, as I discovered after unearthing my ticket, admission to the gig cost just **one pound**! It was also Davey Murray’s 25th birthday, a fact that brought the guitarist an onstage pie-ing. Great memories. Y’see, being an old codger sometimes does have its benefits…
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Thursday 7th January
Wow – the cricket just reached a nail-biting climax with England having achieved their goal of batting throughout the day, clinging on till the very last ball (yet again!) to secure a precious draw against the South Africans. People go on about cricket being dull… what utter crap: the twists and turns of the game are what makes it so compulsive. For a while, with Collingwood and Bell in ‘they shall not pass’ mood, a stalemate looked inevitable. But wickets suddenly began to tumble and as the final overs ticked down, with tail-enders Graham Onions and Graham Swann facing up to everything that pacers Morkel and Steyn could throw at them, I found myself hopping around the living room as though afflicted by some nervous tic. The result means that England cannot now lose the series as they head into final Test, starting in Johannesburg in a week. First The Ashes and now this, superb!
P.S. Happy birthday to my youngest son, Arnie. 11 years old today.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Wednesday 6th January
Just like snow drifts in the back garden, my woes pile up. It’s freezing cold, with more of the same to follow as the week draws on. With so much work to do, the days just seem to fly by before you’ve achieved anything. Palace’s financial meltdown looks likely to enter its endgame during the next 48 hours or so. And England’s cricketers are gazing down the barrel of an embarrassing series-levelling massacre, South Africa having set them an unlikely 466 to win the Second Test (the score stands at 11-0 as I type).
So here are three extremely welcome rays of sunshine. 1) Nashville Pussy have confirmed a date at London’s Underworld on February 11. 2), Billy James has sent the second volume of A Dream Goes On Forever, his Todd Rundgren encyclopaedia. This one examines the Utopia years – cool! And 3) The postman also made it through Catford’s icy wastes to deliver the second batch of Salvo Records’ Nazareth re-issue campaign; ‘Loud ‘N’ Proud’ (1973), ‘Rampant’ (’74) and ‘Hair Of The Dog’ (’75). Now **that** warms the cockles of my heart!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Monday 4th January
I was in the kitchen making a cup of tea, so I switched on Planet Rock Radio. “Ooooh, good, ‘Black Rose’ by Thin Lizzy,” I thought, as the kettle began to boil. So I leapt about awhile, throwing guitar hero shapes and pretending the steam was dry ice, and then all of a sudden it dawned on me… Sodding hell, it’s January the fourth again. Back in 1986, 24 years ago to the day, the fella that wrote the song which was making me look so foolish – one of the greatest rock stars ever – departed this mortal coil. Where on earth do the years go?! RIP, Philip Parris Lynott… man and legend.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Sunday 3rd January
I’m happy to say that Palace eased past Sheffield Wednesday with a certain amount of ease, certainly if the Beeb’s radio commentary was anything to go by. Given the club’s financial woes I’m crossing my fingers for a big pay-day in the Fourth Round; a nice, lucrative trip to the Emirates Stadium, shit… if I could get the inoculations in time, even O*d Tr***rd would do.
In the meantime, as treat before the kids go back to school and Mrs L returns to work, Clan Ling has just had a hugely enjoyable visit to the cinema where we saw Avatar in 3-D. All I can say is: Bloody superb entertainment… the special effects are first-rate. If you get the chance to see it on the big screen, especially in 3-D, don’t miss out.
Having purposely left my phone at home I was puzzled to discover eight texts awaiting my return – all of which mercilessly ridiculed ManUre for crashing out of the FA Cup at home to Leeds. So no trip to O*d Tr***rd, then. Hahaha! Nice one, Leeds. The televised draw has just revealed that we will visit either Tranmere or Wolves in the next round. What a dismal anticlimax. [Edit: It’s a trip to Molineux (again)… Wolves have since scrambled past Tranmere but looked quite beatable in the process].
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Saturday 2nd January
It’s approaching 10am. By now in an ideal world I’d be somewhere on the M1, Sheffield-bound. My pal Steve ‘No Relation’ Way and I actually discussed going to watch Palace tumble out of the FA Cup to Wednesday, as they usually do at this time of year, but for one reason or another it didn’t quite happen. I’m **still** working on my Universal Records essay (am now up to the ‘Goodnight LA’ era – Jeeeez!), and with the Classic Rock office folk returning to work on Monday it’s probably best that I keep my nose pressed firmly to the grindstone.
That said, I’d like to have been at Hillsbrough. With the players’ wages being paid late for a second consecutive month and some terrifying financial rumours emanating from SE25, the club needs all the support it can get right now. Apparently, Palace are such a cash-strapped state that with six quad players loaned out we don’t even have enough bodies to fill the subs bench this afternoon. And with Bolton sniffing around our manager Neil Warnock – one of the few remaining good guys at the club (**I never thought I’d write that!**) – also the dearth of wages meaning that wonder-kid Victor Moses could walk away from the club to one of the big guns for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, the next few weeks will be crucial to the Eagles’ survival. The extra few quid that comes from reaching the Fourth Round would be a more than welcome bonus… so, come on you Eagles – grind those Owls into the ground!!!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Friday 1st January
New Year’s Eve is tough when you’ve got kids – especially ones that are not (yet) anywhere near drinking age. So last night we bought in a nice evening meal, a few DVDs, some chocolates and a reservoir of booze. Oddly, with my sleeve essay project for Universal Records still some way off completion (six days and counting – sheesh!), I wasn’t in the mood for drinking. And when it came to viewing the box, there was also a bit of a generation clash; the lads were left untickled by Father Ted and The Young Ones, while I grew bored of their movie of choice, Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen, within about 15 minutes of its two-and-a-half hour duration. The Best Of Harry Hill’s TV Burp made everyone (especially Eddie) roar with laughter, though, and on the whole we had a very pleasant, chilled-out evening.
P.S. The Playlist and YouTube sections have been updated.
P.P.S. It seems that Soundgarden – apart from Alice In Chains, the only other ‘grunge’ band it’s even faintly excusable to like – are back together again after a 12-year absence. Given the wretched nature of Chris Cornell’s last solo album, ‘Scream’, that gets the thumbs up from me!