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

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Wednesday 30th July
In order to attend last night’s testimonial for Dougie Freedman, careful negotiations took place with Mrs L. It was my wedding anniversary, after all. But I wouldn’t have missed the chance of paying tribute to Crystal Palace’s veteran striker Freedman. In these increasingly mercenary days, almost nobody offers ten years of service to a particular club. Freedman has done all this and more, his 87th minute solo goal in an away game at Stockport County on the last day of the 2000/2001 season preventing the Eagles from sliding into the old third division (also providing my most piss-your-pants thrilling moment in all my years of football). Though Dougie displays skill, loyalty, modesty and decency in equal amounts, time waits for no man and the 34-year-old seems unlikely to play for CPFC in another competitive game. Someday I hope Freedman becomes a Palace manager, though fingers crossed he won’t sacrifice his immortality by making a complete fist of it like Peter Taylor did.
Not that the result really mattered, the game finished 0-0 and was pretty uneventful. Backed by a smattering of tongue-tied fans in the Arthur Wait Stand, Fulham’s Club XI side was utterly uninspiring. After witnessing the rag-bag of reserve and youth players (till I realised his surname was ‘Cumber’, from a distance I though one of their substitutes was actually called Lewis Cucumber) despatched across London for Freedman’s big night, I hope that this year, after last season’s narrow escape, they get relegated back to where they belong. With us!!
At half-time, a lengthy procession of former players (including Andrew Johnson, Aki Riihilahti, Geoff Thomas, Mark Bright, Neil Shipperley, Dean Gordon, Jim Cannon, Ray Houghton, Dean Austin, Marc Edworthy and even George Ndah), managers and even the antichrist – former chairman Ron Noades, boldly facing up to the boo-boys – bestrode the Selhurst turf to congratulate Dougie on his achievement. As two banners in the crowd rightly pointed out: “Players Come And Go” and “Legends Are Forever”.
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Tuesday 29th July
Yesterday I fielded a couple of horrid calls; the type that seems to be more and more common. One was to inform me that Graeme Crallan, the former drummer of White Spirit and Tank, had passed away. ‘Crash’, as he was fondly nicknamed, had taken a tumble and been left on a life support machine. With the doctors ruling out chances of recovery, it was switched off on Sunday night. Crallan had very recently turned 50. I bumped into him quite a lot during his days with Tank, once even got him to sign the sleeve of my vinyl edition of the ‘White Spirit’ album… he was always the life and soul of the party.
An hour or two later the phone rang again. It was my old mate Dave Craig prefacing things with “sorry to be the bearer of bad news”. This time, however, news of a different fatality was at hand. Martin Ball, a former deejay at London’s Marquee Club, most recently hired to spin discs and introduce the bands across town at the Royal Standard in Walthamstow, had suffered a massive stroke. Though seemingly in great health, 53-year-old Ball hadn’t taken a day off work in decades, the two of us had even chatted before White Lion’s gig back in May. Makes ya think, doesn’t it? RIP to both of these fine folks…
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Monday 28th July
Whew… yesterday’s weather was sweltering. So I spent a little while in the garden flicking through the current issue of Classic Rock. I laughed aloud at Mörat’s live review of a Ted Nugent gig that took place at the House Of Blues in Los Angeles. I would disagree with the writer’s statement that Ted’s music is “long-winded”, “inconsequential” and “redundant”. But persona-wise, he hits the nail on the head. I quote: “Ted Nugent is everything that is wrong with America; bigoted, bombastic and ultimately the cause of its own downfall”. Mörat scorns the “utterly repugnant” Uncle Ted for making jokes about the Rodney King beating in a venue where many of the security were black, also making the accusation (and I have no idea whether or not it is true) that for all of his bigging-up of the military, Nugent allegedly “dodged the Vietnam draft” in his youth. Strong words indeed.
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Sunday 27th July
I’m realising that in my younger days I wrongly wrote off a lot of great music. When I was employed by RAW magazine, for instance, I took great delight in chastising my fellow writer Paul Rees not only for a scary resemblance to failed popstar Chesney Hawkes but also for his love of bands like Hüsker Dü and The Replacements. So imagine my surprise (and mild annoyance) when yesterday I found myself purchasing several albums that Mr Rees, these days Editor of Q magazine, would have cherished. Among them were the first two independent releases from Soul Asylum (both produced by Hüsker Dü’s Bob Mould), a 1991 elpee by Nova Mob (fronted by HD’s Grant Hart) and, worse of all, a CD by Canada’s kings of clever-clever blandola, The Tragically Hip. As David Lee Roth was sometimes known to proclaim, Somebody get me a doctor!
In the evening, as I happened to be in Croydon, I dropped by Heaven’s Basement’s gig at The Brief. Formerly known as both Hurricane Party and Roadstar, these fellas are rapidly getting their act together. The guys would be the first to admit that they’re not yet the absolute finished ticket, but their repertoire of tunes (notably ‘Tear Your Heart Out’, ‘I’ll Never Write A Love Song’, ‘Reign On My Parade’ and, the best of the lot, the rabble-rousing set-closer ‘Executioner’s Day’) is improving all the while as they burn up the miles on a seemingly never-sending run of dates, formidably voiced by Richie Hevanz, who simply has to be one of the best young names on the circuit.
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Saturday 26th July
Because I spend so much time beavering away in my concrete bunker of an office at the end of the garden, where the temperature is pretty consistent all year round, it sometimes feels as though the seasons pass by seamlessly. However, there’s no mistaking the fact that I type this on a perfect mid-summer day. I’ve a little work to get done, but (thankfully) not excessively so. Dan Reed Network’s ‘Mixin’ It Up – Greatest Hits’ is blaring out, and before too long I will head to Selhurst Park to pick up tickets for Dougie Freedman’s testimonial match, then into Croydon town centre for a root around the record stores, followed by a drink or three at a gig from Heaven’s Basement. It feels good to be alive.
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Friday 25th July
Jeez, my boys are growing up fast. Last night as I left the house for the ExCeL Arena, my youngest – who is nine – looked me up and down and casually remarked he was glad he wasn’t coming with me to see Alice Cooper because my pink New York Dolls T-shirt made me look “very gay”.
Much as I’m a huge Cooper fan, also somebody who rates his most recent releases very highly, I had become a little bored of going to his shows. The set-lists were too similar and I swear that on two consecutive tours he even used some of the same raps between the songs. So I opted for a ‘cooling off’ period, interrupted last night when Metal Hammer asked me to cover the aforementioned ExCeL gig. Relating the grisly tale of a serial killer that cuts the legs off his female victims and leaves them covered in silk cocoons, Coop’s new album, ‘Along Came A Spider’, is terrific. But because it doesn’t hit the racks till July 28, he decided not to play anything from it. Apparently, Alice’s plan is to base a whole tour upon the whole darned thing – that’s something to savour.
Truth told, I wasn’t too enamoured of the venue; a temporary, open-air courtyard-style structure in ExCeL’s car park (the Motor Show was taking place inside the main hall), with planes from London City Airport dipping to land behind the stage and what felt like a gale blowing between the seated enclosure. Alice’s visually-inclined ‘greatest hits’ performance was great… if you hadn’t seen it before. This time he met his demise not with the guillotine but by being hung from the gallows, returning from the dead to sing a triumphant ‘School’s Out’ in a white top hat and tails. Here’s the full set-list: ‘It’s Hot Tonight’/‘No More Mr Nice Guy’, ‘Under My Wheels’, ‘I’m Eighteen’, ‘Is It My Body?’, ‘Woman Of Mass Distraction’, ‘Lost In America’, ‘Feed My Frankenstein’, ‘Be My Lover’, ‘Dirty Diamonds’, ‘Muscle Of Love’, Guitar Solo/‘Desperado’, ‘Halo Of Flies’ (including Drum Solo), ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’, ‘Cold Ethyl’, ‘Only Women Bleed’, ‘Steven’, ‘Dead Babies’, ‘Ballad Of Dwight Fry’, ‘Devil’s Food’, ‘Killer’, ‘I Love The Dead’ and School’s Out’, with encores of ‘Billion Dollar Babies’, ‘Poison’ and ‘Elected’.
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Thursday 24th July
Yesterday was a scorcher in London town. At lunchtime, a ceremony took place to announce the nominations for this year’s Classic Rock Awards. An intimate basement just off Charing Cross Road, the Borderline might’ve been a claustrophobic location for such a media gathering, but there was free beer and the presence of a living legend – Alice Cooper – to break the all-important news, so nobody complained (in fact, knowing I had a 5pm phone interview to do when I got home, I stuck to iced water). Stone Gods stoked the fire with an excellent, rollickin’ three-song live set (‘Burn The Witch’, ‘You Brought A Knife To A Gunfight’ and ‘Don’t Drink The Water’) before The Coop entered the fray. I was pleased to learn that alongside more obvious choices like Def Leppard, the Crowes and Whitesnake, the new releases from Opeth, Journey and Uriah Heep are all up for consideration for Album Of The Year, while the Ling-approved Airbourne, Stone Gods, Big Linda and Stonerider are set to duke it out for Best New Band (better still, I’ve just discovered that Stone Gods will be opening for Airbourne on the former’s upcoming UK tour… what a titanic double-bill). Meanwhile, only an imbecile would bet against Zeppelin’s O2 reunion gig scooping Event Of The Year. You can vote in these categories and all the rest by visiting: www.classicrockmagazine.com. Oh, and this year’s Living Legend is Crocks virgin Ozzy Osbourne, who quips: “I couldn’t be happier to know that Classic Rock haven’t yet written me off.”
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Wednesday 23rd July
Budgie are a band that rarely disappoints, and yet last night’s gig at the Underworld was… er, how can I put this? ‘Well beneath their usual high standards’ would be putting it politely. Equipment gremlins were largely to blame, though despite having rehearsed for the current strong of dates and played an Australian tour together, at times it seemed Craig Goldy had only just met mainstays Burke Shelley and Steve Williams. On loan from Dio, Goldy (who also currently plays with Hydrogyn and Purple Rainbow) has a more economical style than predecessor Simon Lees, favouring a whole different tone. He used some kind of phasing effect on ‘Panzer Division Destroyed’ and ‘Turn To Stone’, which was pretty interesting. However, after a handful of numbers he began to look sullen and fretful, even exiting the stage. The guitar almost completely dropped out of the mix during ‘Justice’ and it seemed that only the encouragement of the audience carried Budgie through one of their finest songs, ‘Parents’. Loudly and emphatically implored by the audience to “TURN UP THE FUCKING GUITAR!!!!”, Goldy did just that for ‘In For The Kill’ – and it worked. The damage was done, however. It was a shame, as a song like ‘Napoleon Bona-Parts One And Two’ was an enticing suggestion of what the two parties might be capable of achieving together.
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Tuesday 22nd July
Last night I dipped my toe into the world of jazz-fusion. I’d long been a fan of both guitarist Al Di Meola and bassist Stanley Clarke (check out 1975’s ‘School Days’ album, which features Jeff Beck), but had never seen either of the pair onstage. So the chance to witness them both together, as part of the reunited Return To Forever, was just too good to miss – especially as their show was taking place at the IndigO2, a fine venue that I’m rapidly falling in love with. RTF hadn’t played together for 25 years, so it felt a little like a case of, ‘See this now, or miss out for good’. Bumped into Andy Scott from The Sweet outside the hall, who seemed just as excited as myself about the prospect of what we were about to experience. Then, just to make things better still, the box office handed me a pair of tickets in the second row, very slightly on Di Meola’s side of the stage. Result!!
Lasting for two and a half hours, the show was excellent. I preferred the first half, during which the band – completed, of course, by keyboard player/leader Chick Corea and drummer Lenny White – stuck to songs as opposed to lengthy solo spots and bursts of improvisation. Tough I’m no expert, after the interval it seemed as though they performed just two tracks (‘No Mystery’ and ‘Romantic Warrior’) in more than an hour, which without vocals at times got a little wearisome. However, when in full musical flow Return To Forever were truly monstrous. No wonder Dream Theater’s John Petrucci worships the ground that Di Meola walks on; I seem to recall Arch Enemy’s Michael Amott telling me that he too is a fan. The only thing that ruined it for me was when Di Meola, who was celebrating his 54th birthday, strode onstage for the encore wearing an Arsenal shirt, complete with his name on the back – had absolutely no idea that Al is a filthy Gooner!
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Sunday 20th July
Despite the fact that Palace didn’t qualify for the grand final, my boy Eddie and I had a great time at last night’s London Masters. I’d been keeping an eye on the competition’s website for the previous few days, wanting to know which old favourites would reappear in the club’s squad. When you consider some of the quality names that have represented the Eagles through the years, it was a little galling – though perhaps not surprising – to see lesser names such as Tony Witter, David Tuttle, Ricky Newman, Grant Watts and Paul Williams listed. At one point it seemed as though Vince Hillaire, now 48, was going to get a game! In the end, Palace’s contribution threatened to be as shambolic as I feared. Deservedly stuffed 4-1 by West ‘Am in the opening game, we looked old, disorganised and unmotivated. I later learned that one of the squad turned up late having been “stuck in traffic" – how embarrassing. However, in game two everything came good. After going behind to past champions Chelsea, defender-cum-striker Dean Gordon inspired a giant-killing performance to be proud of. In fact, Palace would’ve made the final had Gordon, who always used to pack a fiery shot, not missed an open goal to make it 4-1. The competition was played in the right spirit, to a large and noisy crowd. Eddie and I would definitely go again next year if Palace are invited to return. And thank God that ‘Arry’s ‘Ammers progressed to the grand final instead of Twatford, who I was dismayed to see had vile, porcine turncoat Kevin Miller, procured from his job at the kebab shop, between the sticks.
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Friday 18th July
Sweet Jesus on a Harley, what on earth do Mötley Crüe look like in the booklet of their new CD, 'Saints Of Los Angeles'? Nikki Sixx is still pretty cool, but Tommy Lee resembles a disheveled, big-nosed, street bum - so dreadful I almost spat out my first cuppa of the day. I'd heard some disparaging reports about the music contained within but my initial response was pretty good; I've the suspicion that 'SOLA' will be a bit of a grower.
Lyrically, songs like 'Down At The Whisky' are full of misty-eyed backwards glances to the band's renegade past ("We never made a dime/But God we had a good time"), spending the cash of their groupie girlfriends on "tattoos and cigarettes", while the brilliantly titled ode to checkbook romance 'Chicks = Trouble' addresses the fiscal issues that tend to come along once the first flushes of youth have subsided. Or maybe it's just me feeling especially wistful today? Blame it on my eldest son, Eddie, coming home for the final time from Junior School yesterday, his shirt signed by fellow student departees and long-suffering teachers. Where on earth do the years go?
Aside from Da Crüe, what else has been rocking my world this week? Well, the new albums from Rick Springfield ('Venus In Overdrive', Angelmilk), DragonForce ('Ultra Beatdown', Roadrunner), Black Stone Cherry ('Folklore And Superstition', Roadrunner), From The Inside ('Visions', Frontiers'), Starbreaker ('Love's Dying Wish', Frontiers), Bumblefoot of Guns N' Roses ('Abnormal', Bald Freak) and Biloxi ('III: In The Wake Of The Storm', self-financed) for starters.
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Thursday 17th July
Better late than never, the Playlist, Quotes and YouTube sections have all been updated.
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Wednesday 16th July
Oh dear. Palace supremo Simon Jordan has had enough of football and wants to sell the club. Jordan, who rescued the Eagles from administration in 2000, has made no secret of the fact that he has wanted out for a while but the last straw, it seems, was Tottenham's bargain basement raid for the boy wonder Johnny 'The Judas' Bostock. Simon has "pumped millions of pounds" into the Academy, he states, "and Bostock was one of the best players [that it] produced in the last ten years. Now he has been sold for a packet of crisps." If Jordan lives up to his pledge to unload within the next year, wonder where that'll leave current manager Neil Warnock, whose friendship was a selling factor in accepting the position? Despite his pledge to find a "responsible buyer", the latest potential change of ownership re-opens a worrying scenario. Who else but a loony, super-rich fan would want to take on a club that loses money each year? Worse still, one that doesn't even own its own ground anymore?
P.S. The Mirror online has just run its Top Ten all-time Simon Jordan quotes. Mine will always be number seven: "In retrospect, of course I regret calling [Charlton fans] morons. Imbeciles would have been more appropriate."
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Tuesday 15th July
My, wasn't Ted Nugent's London gig a bucketload of fun?! As some Classic Rock readers may be aware, I've had my moments with Uncle Ted. In fact, after we fell out over a controversial cover story I wrote on him for #31 (September 2001), Nugent said that he wanted to track me down and gut me. Ouch. However, with hindsight Ted was never going to appreciate the story I brought home from three hours of conversation and two shows in Texas and Louisiana. He wanted to talk about hunting, the abuse of drink and drugs, law and order issues and the right to bear arms; my interest was rock 'n' roll, pure 'n' simple.
My first question on that trip - an innocent enquiry about how the tour was proceeding - elicited a 22-minute answer. Considering that he freely admitted vowing not to hug men, and his "advice for faggots" ("Quit sharing needles and butt-fucking"), Ted and I were never likely to see eye-to-eye on anything. As a human being I think he's a prize asshole. But as a musician... well, that's where we connect. The six studio albums he released between 1975 and 1980, 'Ted Nugent' through 'Scream Dream', are among the finest the genre has to offer. So last night I took my life in my hands and headed for the IndigO2, where the Loudman guided his extremely tight band - bassist/occasional lead singer Greg Smith and Dokken Mick Brown - through a marvellous two-hour performance. I did have one or two reservations, though. Near-perpetual use of the N-word, along with the rhetoric about Bo Diddley being his dad, quickly got boring. Nugent really does seem to believe that he's been reborn as a negro. In which case, I wondered why he bottled the rapped section of his second song, 'Wango Tango', segueing into a version of The Kinks' 'You Really Got Me' instead?
At first I found Nugent's between-song banter amusing. "I wanna thank y'all for the invasion of Normandy. We appreciated your help on the Normandy shit. It's D-Day all over again, baby," he announced, to the venue's delight. But I had no idea whether to laugh or cry when he came out with the following: "I understand that London has a knife problem. That's because you took everybody's guns away. If you had a fucking gun you could shoot the motherfuckers with the knife. Do you need me to explain that to you dumb Limey motherfuckers? It Detroit, we don't have a knife problem. The knife motherfuckers got a Ted problem. You wonder why we win all the vegetable growing contests? Because we fertilise or gardens with dead motherfucking assholes. 'Oooh, he's got a knife, I'll pretend I'm from England'. [Imitates firing a gun]. Take that motherfucker. [Then pretends to call 911]: 'You might wanna bring a dustpan and broom because there's a big puddle of shit on the sidewalk'. That's what you call a deterrent. That motherfucker ain't gonna knife no-one ever again."
And when, during a preamble for 'Klstrphnky', he stated: "Get used to it, we're all niggers up on this stage", followed by, "...only I've got a job", I felt he overstepped the line. Which was exactly his goal, of course.
Ted loves to be provocative. I, on the other hand, preferred him when he didn't force his Redneck bile down the throats of his audience. Anyway, here's the set-list: 'Snakeskin Cowboys', 'Wango Tango'/'You Really Got Me', 'Free For All', 'Stormtroopin'', 'Dog Eat Dog', 'Klstrphnky', 'Rawdogs & Warhogs', 'Need You Bad', 'Weekend Warriors', Medley: 'Wang Dang Sweet Poontang'/'Hey Bo Diddley'/'Johnny B Goode', 'Love Grenade', 'Baby Please Don't Go'/'Geronimo & Me', Sam & Dave's 'Soul Man', 'Hey Baby', 'Cat Scratch Fever, 'Stranglehold' and 'Great White Buffalo'.
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Monday 14th July
How much am I enjoying those UFO re-issues? A whole lot!! Not only does the new version of 'Strangers In The Night' restore the show's original running order - how odd it is to hear the album begin with 'Hot 'N' Ready' and 'Cherry' - but Phil Mogg's stage banter has also been rescued from the cutting room floor. I giggled loudly at his silly admission of "we're getting a bit confused up here; it's your licensing laws" before 'Natural Thing', also the kind offer to the crowd to "take a speaker home" at the end of the show. Paul 'Gooner' Elliott's sleeve essay also includes an interview with super-fan Steve Harris, who explains why Iron Maiden take to the stage to 'Doctor Doctor' each night, proudly exclaiming: "All of my kids love UFO and support West Ham, it's proof that I've brought them up properly..." Steady on, 'Arry; one out of two ain't bad...
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Sunday 13th July
Yesterday afternoon was spent with eldest son Eddie at Crystal Palace's pre-season friendly with Bromley. The Eagles started the game with an almost full-strength XI and finished it with a side comprised largely of academy kids, so 1-1 was a pretty fair result. At least, unlike Clowntown Pathetic a few nights earlier, we didn't end up losing to the plucky non-league minnows, who were surprisingly well-drilled by their current manager, ex-Palace chairman Mark Goldberg. Warnock's new signings looked decent enough and it was good to see Dougie Freedman back in the club's colours after his loan spell with Leeds, though we'll need more of a cutting edge to make an impression when the new campaign kicks off on August 9.
Arrived home to find the second batch of expanded UFO re-issues - 'Lights Out', 'Obsession' and the double-live 'Strangers In The Night' - lying enticingly on the doormat. Stuck in interview transcript mode I haven't yet found time to play them, and thus can't comment on the re-mastering job, but their packaging is immaculate. 'SITN's original running order has also been reinstated, and those bonus tracks of 'Hot 'N' Ready' and 'Cherry' have got me lickin' my lips!
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Saturday 12th July
Last night's Yngwie Malmsteen gig was short but sweet. I'd been told that he would be onstage at 8.30pm. So you could probably imagine my annoyance upon arriving at Empire at around just after eight and deducing from the sound within that the show was already underway. Taking my seat in the balcony I quickly noted the better than average sound (for an Yngwie gig anyway...), also the way that Malmsteen's vast wall of Marshall stack backline filled two-thirds of the stage, forcing the drummer, bassist and keyboard player into an area the size of a billiard table. For the limited time he was visible, Tim 'Ripper' Owens sang marvellously and seemed in high spirits.
"Later on I'll play you a little guitar myself," he announced with tongue firmly in cheek, "I'm like a wizard on that thing. But until then Yngwie's pretty good himself." Of course, Malmsteen poured searing hot solos into every available cranny of the performance, high-kicking plectrums into the front rows and posing his little Swedish heart out. The part in which he fell to his knees and threw the guitar over his shoulder, to be caught by a faithful roadie, was so ludicrous that I laughed aloud. With Malmsteen shredding unbelievably and Owens proving that he can impersonate Ronnie James Dio almost as accurately as Rob Halford, a mid-set version of the Rainbow classic 'Gates Of Babylon' was worth the admission price on its own. However, you could've knocked me down with a feather when the show was done and dusted by 9.40pm. Why on earth start the bloody thing so early?
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Friday 11th July
Just got home from an interview with Yngwie Malmsteeen ahead of tonight's gig at Shepherds Bush Empire. At lunchtime we hooked up for a chat at his hotel. I had asked to hear a few songs from his forthcoming album, due out in September in Europe via his own label Rising Force Records. Yngwie declined to tell me the record's title at this stage, but pulled out his laptop and previewed the songs 'Death Dealer' and 'Red Devil' - both of which were written about the guitar hero's beloved fire-red Ferrari. "I have three of those," he told me grandly. In introducing the next track, 'The Eleventh Hour', he told me with a completely straight face, "you'll like this one, it's 'Stargazer' [by Rainbow] for 2008". In fairness, what I heard of the new material sounded very good indeed (other selections being the Clive Barker-inspired 'Damnation Game' and 'Priest Of The Unholy'), though at first it felt pretty odd to hear the voice of ex-Judas Priest/Iced Earth frontman Tim 'Ripper' Owens dovetailed into Malmsteen's ever-relentless cacophony of riffs and solos.
I will shortly heading back across London to Shepherds Bush for the gig. Right now I'm still fuming about something I saw in the evening paper. It's hard to verbalise my utter contempt for Cri***ano Ro***do's claims of being treated like a "slave". The prima donna cocksucker is paid £120,000 a week by his current ManUre employers but has thrown his toys from the pram for not being allowed to change clubs on a whim. Welcome to the real world. You signed the contract, you useless Kunte Kinte (how's **that** for a real slavery connection?), now fricking well live with it. Grrrrrrrr.
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Wednesday 9th July
Crystal Palace's pre-season preparations haven't exactly gone smoothly. The club has splashed out on defenders and midfielders, even a goalie (unexpected, given Julian Speroni's exceptional form last term), but no-one to do the business at the other end of the field. Having cancelled the offer of a new contract for Clinton Morrison, who has notched more than 100 goals for the club, I'm praying that head honcho Neil Warnock has an ace or two up his sleeve. I certainly concur with owner Simon Jordan's rage that Tottenham have been told by an FA tribunal to pay an initial fee of just £700,000 for Eagles kid John Bostock. "We had a £900,000 offer from Chelsea when he was 14 which we turned down," claims Jordan of the England Under-17 captain, discovered and nurtured in SE25 for the past nine years. "It makes me question why I bother with football." The fee will potentially rise to £1.25 million... still derisory. And don't even start me on Ashley-John Robinson, another of the club's starlets, who this week announced ambitions to join a Prem League club via his Facebook page with the message: "Ashley-Paul is goin Fulham on Monday. If I pull dis of im on dis ting". Like Robinson himself, words fail me. Good riddance to the disloyal, ungrateful chav.
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Monday 7th July
Just returned home from Central London and an enjoyable and frank interview with Motörhead leader Lemmy Kilmister. Upon walking into the reception of our rendez-vous, the first person I saw was none other than Jimmy Page. Fuck me! And how proud I am to say that Jimmy remembered me from our chat at the Classic Rock Awards... we are not worthy!
Lemmy was proud of the band's latest album 'Motörizer' (available via SPV on September 1st), insisting on whipping out a CD player to blast the five of its 11 songs that the label hadn't been previewed the journalists with, mouthing the words and playing air guitar and drums whilst sipping from a bottle of JD that sat on a nearby table. I've a feeling that it might take as long to absolve his hotel room smoke from my lungs as it will for the likes of 'Rock Out' and 'When The Eagle Screams' to depart my memory banks.
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Sunday 6th July
Well, yesterday's day out at Twickenham with Iron Maiden was a first-rate experience. After a pissy start the sun actually began to shine brightly as my friend Harj and I travelled on the train from Waterloo. We bowled up at the stadium in time for a swiftie or three before Lauren Harris kicked off the show, generating mild applause for her efforts. Maiden's audiences are notoriously partisan with opening acts, but Avenged Sevenfold seemed to fare a lot better than expected. Alas, I got embroiled in a discussion about the meaning of life (or something) in the backstage bar whilst Within Temptation were onstage, missing them completely. Maiden's set-list was a dream come true, and watching them purr through it before the biggest crowd they've ever headlined to in their homeland outside of the Monsters Of Rock festival - 60,000 fans is what I was informed - made a fan from 'the old daze' (the Marquee, the Reading Festival in 1980, the Ruskin Arms) very proud indeed. The back-to-back renditions of 'Rime Of The Ancient Mariner' and 'Powerslave' will forever figure among the definitive moments of this writer's lengthy concert-attending career.
"What an amazing gig, what an amazing place, this is one of the best gigs I've done in my life," an emotionally drained Bruce Dickinson told the crowd as they serenaded the group with English rugby anthem 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' at encore time (doubtless sending band manager and rugger nut Rod Smallwood into his own private ecstasy). Here are the songs that sent Twickers home with a huge, shit-eating grin: 'Aces High', '2 Minutes To Midnight', 'Revelations', 'The Trooper', 'Wasted Years', 'The Number Of The Beast', 'Can I Play With Madness?', 'Rime Of The Ancient Mariner', 'Powerslave', 'Heaven Can Wait', 'Run To The Hills', 'Fear Of The Dark', 'Iron Maiden' and encores of 'Moonchild', 'The Clairvoyant' and 'Hallowed Be Thy Name'.
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Saturday 5th July
The day I've been waiting for is finally here. Iron Maiden's 'Somewhere Back In Time' world tour rolls into Twickenham Stadium. As I type, at 9.02am, the London sky is overcast and gloomy. Showers are predicted. It could snow for all I care; I've got my tickets and what looks worryingly (for my liver, at least) like a hospitality pass. Weather gods, do your worst!
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Friday 4th July
Brain-cells slowly realigning themselves after my birthday piss-up, the last thing I felt like doing was going to a gig. But as a big fan of the band Frost, who were opening for Spock's Beard at the Islington Academy, biting the bullet was the only serious option. Frost's debut album 'Milliontown' resonated so much here at Ling Towers, the prospect of this show almost felt like a double-header. The mess that followed should teach me for building up my expectations. Bursting with witty banter and a gifted writer in several different genres, Frost mainman Jem Godfrey is a prodigiously talented fella, but for the second UK date of a national tour his band's performance was unacceptably shambolic. A few interesting tracks from songs from the band's forthcoming second disc 'Experiments In Mass Appeal' were aired, but cues were missed, bum notes were sung and a song even had to be interrupted as somebody - Godfrey of all people - lost their way. They can only get tighter from here.
Clearly pleased to be somewhere other than the Mean Fiddler/LA2, the Beard and their fans had packed the place out. Unfortunately, I found myself standing in front of two selfish assholes who thought it was okay to stand and chatter throughout the two-hour show. The band played beautifully and drummer-turned-frontman Nick D'Virgillio sang so well that the days spent with Neal Morse seemed like a distant memory. 'The Great Nothing', an almost half-hour epic from 2000's 'V' album was a great way to end the set proper, but the unwanted contribution of that pair of bozos tainted my enjoyment of the evening. Here's the set-list: 'On A Perfect Day', 'On The Edge', 'Cakewalk on Easy Street', 'Surfing Down the Avalanche', 'She Is Everything', 'Thoughts (Part Two)', Drum Duel, 'Skeletons At the Feast', 'The Bottom Line', 'June', Keyboard Solo and 'The Great Nothing', with encores of 'Onomatopoeia' and 'Go The Way You Go'.
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Thursday 3rd July
Quite aside from the fact that it happened to be my birthday (yes, 32 again...), yesterday was pretty eventful. I logged on to find an email from my friend Caroline, who used to be married to ex-Trapeze/Whitesnake guitarist Mel Galley. She was relaying the awful news that Mel, who had been given weeks to live back in February due to cancer of the oesophagus, had died peacefully in his sleep. I was a big fan of his playing but only ever met Galley on a handful of occasions. All the same, confirmation of his death, however inevitable, really upset me. I sat and played Trapeze's 1972 album 'You Are The Music... We're Just The Band' and Christ, what a solo he plays on the song 'Coast To Coast', perfectly offsetting Glenn Hughes' spine-tingling vocal.
In the afternoon I got the call from Classic Rock; would I write an obituary that could be posted online right away? With perfect timing, I mailed Glenn Hughes for a quote. His day in California was just beginning. Like myself, Glenn was struck by the "grace and dignity" with which Galley
had accepted his fate. "Mel was my hero growing up as a kid in Cannock," he told me. "He was four years older than me. He taught me music, and more importantly, how to live. After Cream, Trapeze were the greatest English rock trio." You know what? Hughes' latter claim is probably true.
In the evening I went up to Central London, my originally doubly-intentioned excursion - to do an interview with Guy Griffin and Paul Guerin of The Quireboys, and sink a few birthday bevvies - having grown another head... namely to raise a glass or two in honour of Melville Galley (as Glenn has so memorably referred to him). Griff and Paul are great company; rock 'n' roll war stories were exchanged, vast quantities of liquid imbibed and the wrongs of the world addressed. As you'll imagine, I feel pretty rough whilst typing this. But such a great evening was worth the hangover. RIP, Mel.
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Tuesday 1st July
I've finally had the time to wade through a little of the latest Southern Rock-themed edition of Classic Rock. Spread over ten pages, the cover story on Lynyrd Skynyrd was a good, thorough read. I tip my metaphorical Stetson to its author, Jaan Uhelski, who really seemed to know his subject. Alas, however, the Blackfoot feature was a real missed opportunity. Ken McIntyre failed to convey the sheer euphoric joy that was derived from seeing this most energetic and rabble-rousing of groups in its prime; I can only assume he failed to do so? More damning still, McIntyre's text didn't even mention Bobby Barth, the Axe guitarist/vocalist who has stepped into Rickey Medlock's giant-sized shoes in order to facilitate the band's current reunion. Sloppy.