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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Monday 31st January
It’s hard to believe that Little Caesar’s last UK gigs took place in 1992, circa the US band’s little known second album, ‘Influence’. Back in the saddle with a new album called ‘Redemption’ (for the low-down on their reunion check out my interview here), wild horses could not have kept me away from last night’s show at the Underworld.
One of my current new favourites, The Treatment, opened the show. With the headliners hailing them from the stage as “a fucking good band” the buzz on these retro-kids from Cambridge keeps growing. Singer Matt Jones announced: “We’re a bunch of 19-year-old kids. We don’t give a fuck about politics, we just want to rock ‘n’ roll”, and the quintet seem to have gone up a gear or two the last few times I’ve seen them, on this occasion ending with a raucous version of ‘Way Of The World’, a song from More’s debut album ‘Warhead’ (for those that do not know, The Treatment drummer Dhani Mansworth is the son of that band’s former guitarist, Laurie).
Back in the 1990s, Little Caesar’s name was poised on the lips of all the significant media soothsayers. That they failed to take the world by storm is explained in the above web story, but clearly they cannot believe their luck at being granted a second bite of the cherry. “You guys are like Viagra ’cos you made a bunch of old pricks rock hard,” singer Ron Young told an adoring crowd that knew the lyrics to all three of the band’s albums. The set was split mainly between ‘Little Caesar’ and comeback disc ‘Redemption’, plus three tracks from ‘Influence’ and a final encore of Rod Stewart’s ‘Every Picture Tells A Story’. The band, who have toned down their muscle-bound, tattooed image for something a little more age-appropriate, still look like Biohazard’s fathers, but boy can they lay down some hook-laden, gritty rock ‘n’ roll? Here’s the set-list: ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll State Of Mind’, ‘Hard Times’, ‘Supersonic’, ‘Loving You Is Killing Me’, ‘Down ‘N’ Dirty’, ‘I Wish It Would Rain’, ‘Ballad Of Johnny’, ‘Slow Ride’, ‘Wrong Side Of The Tracks’, ‘Real Rock Drive’, ‘Redemption’, ‘Sick & Tired’, Medley: ‘Drive It Home’/‘Mustang Sally’, ‘Pray For Me’ and ‘Chain Of Fools’, plus ‘Same Old Story’ and ‘Every Picture Tells A Story’.
The new Firefest line-up is out. Unruly Child? Jimi Jamison?! Strangeways performing ‘Walk In The Fire’??!! Coney frickin’ Hatch???!!! How that’s what I call a festival. I only hope that the great god of the football fixtures list will smile on me – just for once – and award Palace an away game during the weekend concerned.
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Sunday 30th January
The result of yesterday’s game at Selhurst Park was Crystal Palace 0, Norwich 0 – a score-line that I’d have accepted in advance of the kick off. With the Canaries seeking an automatic promotion place, the Eagles did well to ride a wave of early pressure, doing enough during the second half to have taken all three points. If we play as well for the rest of the season, there’s a good chance that the drop can still be avoided.
In a welcome development for disciples of pomp-rock, Saga have been rejoined by Michael Sadler, the co-founding vocalist who quit the veteran Canadian group in 2007, citing family reasons. Saga are expected to record a new album very soon, as will their outgoing singer, Rob Moratti. The latter’s is to be titled ‘Victory’ and released via Escape Music. I wish both parties well. Speaking as a follower of Saga from the early 1980s, the album they made with Moratti – 2009’s ‘The Human Condition’ – was a decent enough record, but it didn’t sound enough like the band I knew and loved.
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Saturday 29th January
Mr Mister’s long-lost ‘Pull’ album and ‘Last Woman Standing’, the debut from Sweden’s Miss Behaviour, have both been attracting great reviews of late. After securing copies of both, my Friday afternoon was spend in a hazy, melodic rock dream-state. That fans of Mr Mister have had to wait twenty years to hear ‘Pull’, shelved by their record label (RCA) at the beginning of the 1990s, is unforgivable. What a classy record – buy it here, and hope the band’s mooted reunion tour comes to pass. Realistically, however, European-based music lovers have far more chance of getting to see Miss Behaviour, whose video for the song ‘Till We Meet Again’ can be seen here. The album is a good deal pacier than this moody power-ballad, but the song gives an idea of the group’s quality.
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Friday 28th January
This morning the new issue of Classic Rock (dated March, Eric Clapton on the cover) dropped onto the mat. Thumbing through, I laughed aloud at the opening to a review of ‘The Storyteller’s Collection’, a newly released two-disc set that Universal Records allowed me to put together for them last year. Beneath a sub-heading declaring ‘It’s not our fault, blame Ling…’, Hotten had written: “Prefaced by the terrifying words ‘compiled by Dave Ling of Classic Rock magazine’ comes another Magnum anthology.” Now that’s genius. Actually, Jon went on to award the album seven out of ten – generous by CR’s standards – summing up: “If Magnum’s quirky charms have eluded you, this is a fine place to start.” Nice to know that the label’s brief of supplying a disc of hits and another of beneath-the-waterline catalogue gems was fulfilled.
Ginger is in the hotseat of the Ever Meet Hendrix? section this month, giving a fine goss-strewn interview to Philip Wilding. His anecdote about The Wildhearts’ implosion whilst supporting AC/DC on the ‘Ballbreaker’ tour is great, likewise the tale of finding his way into UFO’s Newcastle City Hall dressing room by complete accident as a young, impressionable lad in 1980. “It was the first dressing room I ever went into,” he marvels. “They sat me down, gave me drink, gave me some drumsticks and plectrums. Them being so nice to a kid they didn’t even know, I still find that incredible.” Lovely tale…
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Thursday 27th January
Oh, what joy! Peter Klapproth, one of my favourite PRs, has sent a package of finished product from Inside Out Music. Now I’m the owner of the new Transatlantic and King’s X DVDs – both filmed in London at shows I attended, plus James LaBrie’s ‘Static Impulse’ and the (relatively) newies from Arjen Lucassen’s Star One, Pain Of Salvation and Spiritual Beggars. There’s some serious listening and watching to do at the weekend.
Having been handed a copy at last weekend’s Thin Lizzy/FM gig, I was extremely impressed by PG Brunelli’s photographic tribute to Ronnie James Dio. I’ve known PG (known affectionately by the book’s late subject as ‘Tips’) for many years, having carried out many assignments together, but I didn’t realise the Italian had photographed Ronnie quite so many times. I happened to leave the book on the living room table and Mrs L was moved to comment regarding its quality. It’s available here.
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Wednesday 26th January
Well, well, well… England’s cricketers have decided to award Australia a three game head start in the one day internationals, finally pulling a game back this morning to make the score 3-1. With three more fixtures to go, the result of 4-3 remains eminently possible.
It’s been another ridiculously busy day. In between trying to sort out my tax return I interviewed three more musicians. Bruce Soord had some interesting things to say about his group The Pineapple Thief, who I will be investigating at London’s Underworld on March 19. Dan Leigh, the frontman of New device, explained the myriad line-up changes his band have undergone, also looked forward to Powerage Records’ Power Supply tour, co-featuring Lethargy, Million $ Reload and The Treatment. Later in the evening I called Alia O’Brien for a chat about the new album and tour from her band Blood Ceremony. I’ve been playing said disc, ‘Living With The Ancients’ (available via Rose Above on March 7), for the past week. It’s even better than the Canadian band’s self-titled debut. Although Blood Ceremony cite Black Sabbath and early Jethro Tull as their primary influences it came as no surprise to learn that vocalist, flautist and organist is a massive fan of Uriah Heep and Ken Hensley in particular. Give them a listen here.
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Tuesday 25th January
What a dreadful day to be suffering a hangover. The white wine was flowing at a central London playback of Lemmy’s new DVD, 49% Motherfucker, 51% Son Of A Bitch. Think I enjoyed myself just a bit too much, especially with three phone interviews to take care of. I enjoyed talking to Mark Chadwick, singer of the Levellers, a band I’ve been meaning to check out onstage for quite some while. Wasn’t expecting to have a conversation with Wolf Hoffmann, but the Accept guitarist was fed the wrong information and called 24 hours early – cue panic! In the evening I had an extremely long chat with John Waite, who is always fantastic to interview. John told me some cracking tales about his time in The Babys; that’s a story I can hardly wait to write up.
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Monday 24th January
Oh dear, I’ve just been lampooned by Ross Halfin following our brief chat at the Thin Lizzy ‘after show’ party. F**k a duck, I like Ross but he don’t half exaggerate.
Still basking in the afterglow of Thin Lizzy’s show, and having failed to chat with him afterwards, I fired off a congratulatory email to Ricky Warwick. “I have never worked so hard at anything in my life,” he said in his reply. “I wanna do Phil, Lizzy fans and myself proud. Then I will be a happy man.” Then, torpedoing the feelgood moment, he signed off with: “My football team is as bad as yours at the moment.” Thanks for the reminder. I don’t think.
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Sunday 23rd January
I felt slightly morose upon arrival at Hammersmith Apollo for last night’s gig from Thin Lizzy and FM. Earlier in the afternoon, Palace had failed to do the business in a ‘must win’ game against Bristol Shitty and for the first time this season the very real probability of the club’s relegation was starting to sink in.
Luckily, I had a sympathetic companion in my Eagles-supporting boozing buddy Kev Denman, and after claiming our after show passes we carried on with the serious business of drinking the Apollo dry. The venue was sold out, with approximately two-thirds of its seats occupied for the evening’s special guests, who purred through 45 minutes of their repertoire’s cream (although sadly, ‘Frozen Heart’ was omitted). The response was superb and by the end the FM-ers received a standing ovation. The band are on again at Download in the summer, and it’s odd – slightly heartwarming, even – to think of their current reunion incarnation faring so much better than the original group ever managed, despite being backed by the power of CBS Records.
Lizzy were much, much better than I expected. After some apparently difficult preceding dates, Ricky Warwick seems to have grown into the role of fronting the show, though bass duties are handled by Marco Mendoza. Meanwhile, Vivian Campbell, on holiday from the Leps, locks in tightly with Scott Gorham’s guitars and the keyboards of Darren Wharton. Needless to say, Brian Downey’s drumming was inspirational. Wisely, the band had gone to great pains to side-step the material played with such regularity during the era fronted by John Sykes. This ‘spring clean’, along with the input of fresh blood, made all the difference. I thought my pal Kev would do himself a mischief when he heard the opening chords to ‘Whiskey In The Jar’, but for me a final full-length encore of ‘Róisín Dubh (Black Rose): A Rock Legend’ was as satisfying as the previous night’s display from The Cult had been turgid. Yes, Thin Lizzy 2011 get the thumbs-up from yours truly. Here’s set set-list: ‘Are You Ready?’, ‘Waiting For An Alibi’, ‘Jailbreak’, ‘Do Anything You Want To’, ‘Don’t Believe A Word’, ‘Dancing In The Moonlight (It’s Caught Me In Its Spotlight)’, ‘Massacre’, ‘Angel Of Death’, ‘Still In Love With You’ (complete with a solo from Campbell, and vocals shares by Wharton and Warwick), ‘Whiskey In The Jar’, ‘Emerald’, ‘Wild One’, ‘Sha La La’ (including Drum Solo), ‘Cowboy Song’ and ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’, followed by ‘Rosalie’/‘Cowgirl Song’, ‘Bad Reputation’ and ‘Róisín Dubh (Black Rose): A Rock Legend’.
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Saturday 22nd January
After seeing the band in dazzling form at last summer’s Sonisphere Festival, I was looking forward to seeing The Cult again. The added attraction of Masters Of Reality as a support act made Astbury and Duffy’s gig at Hammersmith double appealing. In the end, for me at least, it was Chris Goss and his Masters that stole the show. Probably best known to a generation of newer fans as the producer that helped to make Queens Of The Stone Age into stars, Goss breezed through 50 minutes of provocative, dreamily off-kilter hard rock, backed by a band that included guitarist Dave Catching of the Eagles Of Death Metal. I thought they were superb, the likes of ‘Third Man On The Moon’ and ‘The Blue Garden’ especially outstanding. Would love to see MOR open for Hawkwind someday; they’d go down an absolute storm.
At Sonisphere, The Cult had delivered a joyous ‘greatest hits’ display. However, as Astbury explained, they are now sick and tired of being a jukebox, electing instead to burrow deeper into a sizable catalogue. This extended right back to their debut album, 1984’s ‘Dreamtime’, with ‘Go West’ and ‘Spiritwalker’, and even to pre-Cult days with ‘Ghost Dance’ (recorded a year earlier as Death Cult). I enjoyed myself for the first third of their performance, till things went horribly downhill. With the audience standing up and sitting down as songs familiar and obscure rolled by, I swear I almost felt dizzy. And when Astbury announced: “We crave a few minutes of your indulgence” and the group left the stage as a b/w clip of an Indian reservation rolled… well, it felt like being back at Saturday morning pictures; everybody larking around and chatting as the film went ignored. Astbury is well known as a rock star with a social conscience but he should know by now that forcing his views down the audience’s throat will never work. The final encore of The Doors’ ‘Break On Through (To The Other Side)’ was a nice surprise, though. Here’s the set-list: ‘Every Man And Woman Is A Star’, ‘Rain’, ‘Horse Nation’, ‘Sweet Soul Sister’, ‘White’, ‘Saints Are Down’, ‘Dirty Little Rockstar’, ‘Nirvana’, ‘Ghost Dance’, ‘Embers’, ‘War Play’, ‘Go West’, ‘Wild Flower’, ‘Until The Light Takes Us’, ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ and ‘Love Removal Machine’, plus ‘Rise’, ‘Spiritwalker’ and ‘Break On Through (To The Other Side)’.
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Friday 21st January
I was blown away by last night’s gig from New Orleans heavyweights Crowbar. Their leader/vocalist Kirk Windstein is known best for his role as the guitarist of Down but his band have accumulated around 90 of their own songs across nine studio albums. Crowbar were greeted like long-lost lovers by a sell-out crowd… and why not? It had been five years since the quartet last graced a UK stage. Newly sober and coming across as extremely focussed, Windstein had some witty song introductions, reminding us that Down band-mate Jimmy Bower has “the fattest tits in the world” and prefacing ‘Subversion’ with the quip: “This song is so old we haven’t played it since Lemmy was 30” but the biggest plaudits go to Crowbar as a whole. From the opening bars of ‘Conquering’ to the closing feedback-ridden chords of ‘Cemetery Angels’ the band slammed down some of the heaviest, sludgiest, most murderous sounds you’d wish to hear, even injecting ‘Self-Inflicted’ with a teasing snippet of Sabbath’s ‘Into The Void’. I can’t wait for their new album, ‘Sever The Wicked Hand’, which drops via Century Media on February 14, and I hope that Crowbar come back soon – they would absolutely slay at the High Voltage festival. Here’s the set-list: ‘Conquering’, ‘High Rate Extinction’, ‘The Lasting Dose’, ‘Burn Your World’, ‘I Have Failed’, ‘All I Had (I Gave)’, ‘Thru The Ashes (I’ve Watched You Burn)’, ‘New Dawn’, ‘Self-Inflicted’, ‘I Am Forever’, ‘Subversion’ and ‘Planets Collide’, plus that parting shot of ‘Cemetery Angels’.
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Thursday 20th January
I must admit, 2011 has been a bit of a slow starter. However, this afternoon’s highly enjoyable chinwag with Peter Frampton – my first real interview of the year – has served to kick things into gear. Frampton was in fine form and as Sarf Londoners (though he now resides in Cincinnati Peter was born in Beckenham, just down the road from Ling Towers and sunny Catford) we got on like the proverbial house in fire. As we discussed his British dates, which include a visit to Shepherd’s Bush Empire on March 5, Peter revealed that he will be coming back to the UK in November for a 35th anniversary tour in celebration of the double-live classic ‘Frampton Comes Alive’. That should be pretty special.
Gig-wise, there’s also some activity at last. This evening I shall visit the Underworld to see Crowbar, followed by two consecutive nights at the Hammersmith Apollo… Masters Of Reality and The Cult on Friday and then Thin Lizzy, supported by some bunch of whippersnappers called FM, 24 hours later.
Those that saw Monday’s diary entry concerning Crystal Palace’s proposed move to the National Sports Centre may perhaps have surmised my own preference of remaining at Selhurst Park.
However, the newly revealed plans for the club’s proposed return to Crystal Palace Park and a stadium which would eventually hold 40,000 people and cost £50m to build, look absolutely stunning. I await developments with baited breath.

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Wednesday 19th January
Vince Neil is headed for another jail term. Following his now legendary blink-and-you-missed-it 15-day incarceration for the vehicular manslaughter of Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle in 1984, Mötley Crüe’s frontman will spend the same amount of time behind bars from February 15 for his repeated DUI offence. Neil is to plead guilty when he appears in court in a week’s time. “I have recognized that you can’t drink and drive at all,” he says. “I take full responsibility for my actions and will learn from this experience.” I hope Vince sticks to his promise...

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Tuesday 18th January
Rock Candy Records’ newest releases have just arrived. I’m happy to own Greg Lake’s 1981 album for Chrysalis Records – the one with Gary Moore on guitar – on CD at last. I saw Lake and Moore at the Reading Festival that year and their partnership blew me away (if you haven’t heard it, a really good King Biscuit Flower Hour release documents said show). RC have also repackaged the follow-up, ‘Manoeuvres’, an album I haven’t heard in aeons – not since finding it in the bargain racks several years after a low-key arrival in 1983, in fact. I wonder how it stands up…?
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Monday 17th January
The revelation that Crystal Palace FC are considering a return to their original home of Crystal Palace Park leaves me slightly miffed. I love the fact that opposing clubs call Selhurst Park a shithole and claim it’s impossible to reach (when, in reality, it’s served by three main-line stations). Yes, Selhurst is a shithole, but it’s **our** shithole. It requires refurbishment, but at least it has a soul – unlike so many of the identikit concrete bowls I’ve visited whilst following the fortunes of my beloved club. And of course, having seen my first game there in 1976 and even proposed to Mrs L on the scoreboard, it carries a great deal of emotional attachment. My eldest lad’s full name is Eddie Lemmy Selhurst Ling (I kid you not). Should the club up sticks and force us to change it by deed poll, well… Eddie Lemmy Crystal Palace National Sports Centre Ling hardly has the same ring, does it?
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Sunday 15th January
This morning I arose with the lark at 4.30am for the first of the one day internationals between Australia and England. The home side took a lead in the series thanks to an inspirational innings from Shane Watson (161 NO – respect where it’s due), romping home by six wickets, but it was an engrossing game of cricket. During the interval I finished the final few pages of Is This The Real Life? The Untold Story Of Queen. Its author Mark Blake is known for meticulous levels of research, and once again he delivers the goods. Should you care to know about Freddie Mercury and Brian May bickering over the rights to an almond slice during the recording of the ‘Sheer Hear Attack’ album then fear not, that particular tale is fully exposed (I kid you not). Queen were responsible for one of the very first gigs I ever saw, at Lewisham Odeon on the ‘Crazy Tour Of London’ in 1979, and although I ended up falling out of love with them for quite some time (notably during the excruciatingly bad ‘Hot Space’ era), Is This The Real Life? dredged up quite a few treasured memories. It’s amazing to think that 2011 marks their 40th anniversary.

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Saturday 14th January
FFS… Final score from the (Taking A) Liberty Stadium… Swansea 3 Crystal Palace 0. Two soft penalties were awarded to the home side but it was a rather poor display from Freedman’s Eagles. As a consequence I’m sitting here in my office, drowning my sorrows and supping white wine by the bucketful, with a new DVD from Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash, ‘The Life Begins Tour: Live At The Y Theatre Leicester’, blaring out at top volume from the PC. The band give a great performance in what looks like a lovely, intimate auditorium and the show includes the ‘Argus’ album in its entirety, plus the classic ‘Phoenix’ (albeit with a few bum vocal notes). It’s helping… a little.
P.S. Kansas have been added this summer’s Sweden Rock bill. I wonder whether we’ll see them at High Voltage as well? Don’t ask me for inside info… I haven’t a clue. But I’m keeping my fingers crossed, definitely.
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Friday 13th January
The sun’s over the yardarm so I’m focussing on tomorrow’s game between Swansea and Crystal Palace – the first since Dougie Freedman became the Eagles’ manager on an official basis. This afternoon Freedman purchased Jermaine Easter from those in-bred MK Dongs and the striker is available for selection in tomorrow’s game. I wish that I was making the trek to the Liberty Stadium, a ground I’ve yet to visit, but the early kick-off time of 12.45pm would have made it hard to reach the levels of drunkenness required to watch CPFC in such a vital fixture. As it is I shall probably be pouring wine onto my cornflakes in a bid to attain numbness in advance of the Sky TV coverage.
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Thursday 12th January
With a complete dearth of gigs and interviews there ain’t much to report right now. The closest I’ve come to anything rock ‘n’ roll-related was catching upon a few episodes of Married To Rock, a ridiculous reality TV series that follows the vacuous lives of Duff McKagan’s wife Susan Holmes, Perry Farrell’s missus, Etty, Josie Stevens, a living Barbie Doll who shares a marital bed with Steve Stevens (lucky ol’ Steve), and AJ Celi, the girlfriend of Billy Duffy whose mission in life is get The Cult’s guitarist down the aisle. The episode in which the Stevens renew their vows in a haunted house with a ridiculously overblown and ostentatious ceremony, Josie descending towards the pastor and guests on a trapeze, almost beggared belief. Aside from the fact that it makes The Jeremy Kyle Show seem like the cultural equivalent of Mastermind, Married To Rock made me wonder how overpaid our rock stars must be in order to live such casually affluent lifestyles – yes, that includes Billy Idol’s guitarist. Money certainly doesn’t buy you class, that’s for sure.
Speaking of matters financial, I’m slightly peeved at having to cancel my plans to attend this evening’s playback of the new Amon Amarth album, ‘Surtur Rising’ (due via Metal Blade in the Spring) following an urgent communication from my accountant. Filing income tax returns are one of the most infuriating aspects of my job.
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Wednesday 12th January
Smelling salts and hankies at the ready: There’s some dreadful news to impart. Rock is dead. Well, the BBC and Paul Gambaccini both say so, so it must be true. Then again, we all know that statistics can be made to say just about anything, and I have just emailed Classic Rock’s ever-soave Al King with the offer of a few drinks after he penned this passionate response to the bunch of sensationalist claptrap that preceded it. Nice work, Mr King.

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Tuesday 11th January
Following Crystal Palace’s doomed attempt to lure highly-rated Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe into the Selhurst Park hotseat, CPFC 2010 have given the job to current caretaker boss and former player Dougie Freedman. I’m still not sure how I feel about the appointment. Legendary ex-heroes such as Peter Taylor or Steve Kember have previously been elevated to the ‘top job’, followed by the sack and severe damage to their halos. Palace are faced with a relegation fight. Freedman is inexperienced but has (apparently) taken his badges and knows the place better than anyone else, but it's a huge gamble. I’m left praying that the combination of Freedman’s passion for the club and the wisdom of some ‘older heads’ as advisers will keep the Eagles in the division. Can we have Sir Steve Coppell as Director Of Football please…?
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Monday 10th January
The first live reports of Thin Lizzy’s reunion are emerging – mostly positive ones, though Ricky Warwick is in an impossible position. The former Almighty frontman, now filling Phil Lynott’s boots (whether or not he agrees with the terminology) has given a good, frank interview to the Rock AAA website in which he reveals that he still cannot believe he is fronting his boyhood heroes – it takes turning round and seeing the Thin Lizzy sign behind him to force home the reality of the situation. I love Ricky (in a manly way, of course) and hope that it works out for him. Certainly, all of the group’s protagonists are saying the right things. It’s very brave of Vivian Campbell to have stated that joining Lizzy has “reconnected [him] to the electric guitar.” Campbell says: “I’ve been in Def Leppard for twenty years, and if I'm honest, it's not a terribly challenging job for me as a guitar player. Phil Collen plays most of the widdly guitar parts and I do what I do. But this job has reignited my love for guitar playing.” Read the full interview here. I shall be seeing the ‘new’ Thin Lizzy at Hammersmith in a couple of weeks. They’ve got some up ‘n’ coming band called FM supporting them, apparently. Have heard good things about the latter so it’ll be interesting to check them out.
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Sunday 9th January
What a rubbish weekend it’s been. On the grounds that it threatened to be a bit of a non-event I decided against travelling to Coventry for yesterday’s Third Round FA Cup game with the Palace, earmarking the time for my sleeve essays to accompany the Strangeways re-issues. These plans were scuppered when the power in my office died… no computer, lights or heating. BASTARD!! As I awaited the arrival of an electrician, a battery-powered radio informed me that the Eagles had given Cov a two-goal head start, pulled one back and then proceeded to miss a penalty. Oh well, it’s time to concentrate on the league (yet again)…
The only ray of sunshine was the arrival of Toby Jepson’s third solo EP, ‘Guitar, Bass And Drums’. An EP comprising 11 songs and a guest appearance from ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke? That’ll do nicely. Scanning through the ‘special thanks’ credits I was taken aback to spot the words: “Dave Ling, who is still the source of all rock knowledge.” The cheque’s in the post, Tobes. Let me know if it doesn’t get there by Friday…
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Saturday 8th January
After the extra-long festive period – though I wasn’t one of them, many folks had a fortnight off – attending my first live gig of 2011 felt slightly odd. A large crowd had congregated at the Garage. Special guests Breed 77 were well into their set by the time I arrived. I’m quite partial to this British-based group from Gibraltar and their Mediterranean-kissed metal, which went down rather well with the audience (despite the fact that, for unknown reasons, singer Paul Isola wore a Huddersfield Town shirt onstage), though one person left underwhelmed by their flamenco-fuelled exploits was my friend Chas, who quipped: “There was a reason we sank the Spanish Armada.”

Named after the 1981 Electric Sun album and featuring Ozzy Osbourne’s current guitar hotshot Gus G, Greek metalheads Firewind have outdone themselves with their current (sixth) album, ‘Days Of Defiance’. Juxtaposing three of its best selections with all the expected fan favourites before an enthusiastic Friday night crowd, this gig should have been an absolute corker. That it fell slightly short was due, in my opinion, to abysmally bad pacing. What on earth possessed the quintet to include a keyboard solo, a guitar solo and a drum solo, plus an unremarkable instrumental track (‘The Fire And The Fury’) in the first 40 minutes, I’ll never know. Though I wouldn’t repeat the hand gestures he kept making towards the stage, I was in agreement with the bloke that stood in front of the mixing desk bellowing: “Just fucking get on with it” over and over again. Rounded off by a three-song encore, the show began to fulfil its potential towards the end – despite the inclusion of Firewind’s dreaded cover of Michael Semballo’s Flashdance pop hit ‘Maniac’ – but for a while there it was touch ‘n’ go. Here’s the set-list: ‘The Ark Of Lies’, ‘Head Up High’, ‘Destination Forever’, Keyboard Solo, ‘Angels Forgive Me’, ‘World On Fire’, Guitar Solo, ‘The Fire And The Fury’, Drum Solo, ‘Insanity’, ‘Heading For The Dawn’, ‘Chariot’, ‘My Loneliness’, ‘Mercenary Man’, ‘Till The End Of Time’, ‘Maniac’ and ‘Tyranny’, plus ‘Into The Fire’, ‘I Am The Anger’ and ‘Falling To Pieces’.
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Friday 7th January
I’m feeling almost jetlagged after too many nights of nocturnal cricket observation. It was well worth it to see the scenes of celebration as jubilant England finally lifted the Urn in Sydney, a 3-1 landslide ending almost a quarter-century of hurt. Like all fans of the English game I was embarrassed at by being walloped by 5-0 during the last visit Down Under four years ago. But although the home side strolled it during the test in Perth, briefly threatening a reversal of form, the Aussies’ capitulation has been even more pathetic still. Strauss and company have clubbed them relentlessly and methodically, like some helpless seal cub. To have won by an innings in three games (out of five) is unprecedented in these fixtures. Australia have been shockingly clueless in just about every area – which, of course, is fantastic! – but in the rush to malign the Convicts as the “worst ever”, the media has almost forgotten to praise Andrew Strauss and company’s magnificent achievements. Right… I’m off to bed…

[Edit: Oh no! Talk about putting things into perspective… Phil Kennemore from Y&T has lost his battle with lung cancer. How incredibly sad. The bassist had sat out the band’s last bout of touring whilst he was treated for the condition. As somebody that followed Y&T’s career from their legendary Marquee Club shows in ’82, it’s hard to believe that I’ll never hear Kennemore belting out the lyrics to ‘Squeeze’ again. RIP, Phil…].
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Wednesday 5th January
England look in complete control of the fifth and final test match against Australia. I stayed up to watch Alistair Cook complete his century. Somehow managed to haul myself out of the pit once more at 5am just as Bell notched his own (albeit with a bit of help from the umpires). Am now feeling rather groggy, but my satisfaction justifies the feeling of sleep deprivation.

There seems to be quite a lot of deaths at this time of year, yesterday bringing no less than two rock-related fatalities – Japan bassist Mick Karn and Gerry Rafferty, whose ‘Baker Street’ was among the first 45 RPMs I ever bought. I picked up most of Japan’s back catalogue at a car boot sale a few years back, partially as a consequence of their keyboard player Richard Barbieri being a member of Porcupine Tree. The bloke unloading his vinyl haul seemed especially sad about the transaction – “I’m only selling these ’cos I don’t have a turntable anymore,” he almost blubbed (I always find such talk ridiculous… so **go and buy one**, then!!!) – but his loss was my gain.
I’ve just had one of those ‘spooky coincidence’ moments with the chiropractor. After spotting my red and blue scarf, the practitioner made small-talk during the treatment by asking whether Palace were any closer to hiring a new manager. I replied in the affirmative. Shortly before leaving home, the bookies had suspended bets on Eddie Howe of Bournemouth being installed as CPFC’s new supremo. “He’s only 33 years old and regarded as one of the best young managers in the league,” I waffled enthusiastically. “He’d done an amazing job down there but now wants to leave because the board at Bournemouth are refusing to give him any money to spend.”

Feeling a little guilty at hogging the conversation and aware of my over-zealousness, I asked: “So who do you support, then?”
The reply was inevitable: “Bournemouth”. Ouch!
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Tuesday 4th January
Crystal Palace emerged triumphant in yesterday’s showdown with PNE thanks to new signing Steffen Iversen, though it was a poor contest between two shockingly dismal sides. Thankfully, Preston were just the teeniest bit more woeful than the Eagles. Save for Iversen’s header, both teams were farcical in front of goal. The visitors were six or seven first teamers light due to the recalling of key loanees and the sale of Parkin – an awful lump that somehow never fails to score against Palace – to Cardiff Shitty, and **still** we struggled to deliver the killer blow. Such was its air of undisciplined, diabolical ineptitude, also the undercurrent of sheer desperation, at times the game felt like watching two drunken old tramps, scrapping on the pavement over some half-empty can of Diamond White found abandoned in a bin. But three points are three points, and we’ll take them thanks very much…
RIP Philip Lynott, who died 25 years ago today. I only met Thin Lizzy’s leader the once – when I waited outside the end of your party, circa the ‘Chinatown’ album, as a fan, and he took me inside and introduced me to everyone… “This is Scott Gorham, this is Brian Robertson, this is Jimmy Bain…” I’ve still got the signed invite somewhere. A true gent, and still much missed.
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Monday 3rd January
In an hour or two I shall be heading off to Selhurst to roar on Crystal Palace in a must-win relegation derby with Preston North End. Just like the Eagles, the visitors are manager-less, short on form and stranded in the bottom three, so nothing less than three points will do. With CPFC legend Dougie Freedman standing in as boss, the team – and indeed the ground – will be pumped up for these crucial 90 minutes. The fifth and final test match has begun. Australia opted to bat and were making a decent fist of it, all ten of their first innings wickets still standing as I retired to bed. The news that they had capitulated to 134-4 in a rain affected day’s play must award the tourists the edge.
P.S. I was sad to hear of the death of one of my favourite actors, the grim-faced Pete Postlethwaite OBE. Yet another victim of the Big C. Very sad. [Edit: Still on the subject of my favourite thespians, today’s CPFC vs PNE match programme featured an interview with another fine example. I knew that Bill Nighy was a Palace fan but had no idea how much he loves the club. I, too, share Bill’s wish that Lionel Messi will someday sign for the Eagles… but I’m not holding my breath!]
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Sunday 2nd January
Just home from the Orpington Record Fair. There was very little to get excited about, I’m afraid. Picked up a few bargain basement bits ‘n’ bobs but my only real acquisition of note was a mint condition vinyl of the first, self-titled album from Texan Southern rockers Point Blank, issued in 1976 and produced by Bill Ham of ZZ Top fame. Apart from the group’s 2009 comeback disc, ‘Fight On!’, ‘Second Season’ (’77) is now the only gap in my collection.
On the bus journey home I read the latest edition of the Led Zeppelin appreciation magazine Tight But Loose, kindly supplied by Dave Lewis after the Black Country Communion gig. It contains an excellent interview conducted by Lewis with Bill Curbishley, long time manager of Robert Plant, The Who and Judas Priest. Dave asks all the right questions; ‘How did Led Zeppelin’s O2 concert evolve?’, ‘Was there any chance that Robert Plant would be up for more shows?’, ‘Will the O2 concert be issued on DVD?’ and ‘What would you advise Jimmy Page to do now?’ among them, and Curbishley doesn’t duck his answers. I was impressed by BC’s honesty throughout. The part in which he admits: ‘The fact is, if life’s a two-week holiday then I’m on the second week, and it’s Wednesday’ is especially poignant. To order a copy go HERE.
P.S. Look out for updates at the Playlist and YouTube sections.
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Saturday 1st January
What an eventful day for Crystal Palace fans. I declined the chance to attend the away game with Scumwall – I wouldn’t give those Neanderthals the steam off my piss, let alone pay to visit their rusting hovel of a ground – but to have lost the game concerned by three goals was simply unacceptable. The CPFC 2010 consortium obviously felt the same way, giving manager George Burley his marching orders shortly after the final whistle. I felt a little sorry for Burley who, in a six-month reign, had tried to get the team playing decent football. The problem was that he had no ‘Plan B’, and the club was in danger of sinking deeper and deeper into danger of getting relegated. In the long run the right decision was made, I feel.