This journal of the comings'n'goings and musings'n'enthusings of Dave Ling
will be updated daily - except after days of stress and nights of excess.
Friday 31st July
I'd like to say that this story shocked me, but that would be a lie. Ted Nugent has defended the killing of Cecil The Lion by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer. Given the global backlash that Palmer received for his actions, perhaps it was inevitable that Nugent, who can't get enough of being in the headlines, would attempt to add his own spin. But it does beg the question: Is there currently a more odious asswipe on Planet Earth than Uncle Ted?
Extremely well played to England's cricketers, who this afternoon won the Third Ashes Test at Edgbaston in less than three days, and doing so by a gigantic margin of eight wickets. Man of the match was pace bowler Steven Finn who, in something of a fairytale twist, following a period in the international wilderness, returned to claim eight wickets. The hosts are now 2-1 up in the series with two further tests to come. Jeez, it's gonna be exciting!
Thursday 30th July
As is her right, during my absence at Ramblin' Man the ex-wife has removed some treasured photos from the house, leaving conspicuous gaps up the staircase and in the loo's Hall Of Fame. I guess it's time to start replacing them! This rather fine fair had been gathering dust out in my office, so let's put 'em up. Firstly a signed promo piccie of the UK pomp-rockers New England, and secondly a b/w photo of myself in the company of Chris Holmes (then still a member of W.A.S.P.), the late, great Tommy Vance and the one and only Steve 'Krusher' Joule. The latter was taken in the boardroom at Capitol Records whilst we judged a W.A.S.P. competition if I recall. It's quite possible there may have been alcohol involved!
[Edit: After I posted this on Facebook, Krusher commented: "Alcohol was most certainly involved!!! Did we get taken for dinner? I remember going to dinner with Chris Holmes and he was going out with Lita Ford and kept insisting that I feel the firmness of her breasts... or was it just a dream!" Ummm... I don't remember the lovely Lita being there. And I think I kinda would. Hahaha. But, as we know, ale does strange things to the braincells!]
Wednesday 29th July
Tyketto last night at the Underworld? Awesome, just awesome. Given the dismal turnout as some manyu melodic gigs in the capital, it was great to see the place so rammed. This was a display by the group's Angelo-American line-up, with Chris Green excelling on guitar, Thunder's Chris Childs on bass and Ged Rylands from Rage Of Angels on keyboards joining frontman/guitarist Danny Vaughn and drummer Michael Clayton for a set of old songs and new. The unexpected inclusion of 'Let it Go', from the album 'Shine', which was recorded with Steve Augeri of Journey/Tall Stories in Vaughn's place, confirmed that Tyketto wouldn't be content to take the easy path. For their part the audience, who sang along lustily, especially during the show's final run-in-of 'Strength In Numbers', 'Catch My Fall', 'Standing Alone' and 'Wings, followed by 'Last Sunset' and the ever-brilliant 'Forever Young', were every bit as entertaining as the band. Which took some doing, believe me. With a new studio album to follow in 2016 - the 25th anniversary of their must-own 'Don't Come Easy' debut, which Vaughn revealed from the stage is *finally* about to be re-issued at an affordable price - there are exciting times ahead for this fine, fine band.
...And the pendulum swings back to England again in the Ashes series. Day #1 of the Third Test presented some fantastic bowling from Messrs Anderson and Finn, also some truly regrettable shot selections from the tourists, who were bowled out for just 136 runs. Now let's have a good, solid, patient innings from England and grind these feckers into the dirt.
Tuesday 28th July
Returning home after such a fantastic weekend away and with a final batch of news pages to close was always going to be a bit of a reality check. Thank God, then, for this little package of Van Halen re-masters which arrived while I was a-Ramblin' in Kent. The first three and '1984' are stone cold killers. I'm just about to crank them up!!!
Monday 27th July
Just as the forecasts had predicted, the rain began its gentle pitter-patter as I arose from the pit, continuing on and off until late afternoon. Unsurprisingly, many ticketholders at the Ramblin' Man Fair decided to opt out of Day #2 and return from whence they came. At a guess I'd day the crowd shrank by almost three-quarters, but those that stayed were rewarded by excellent, if patchy, entertainment.
I really enjoyed BLUES PILLS, though I must admit to having watched some of their set from the VIP arena – a twin-tier structure from which the Classic Rock Stage was clearly visible, and audible. All in black, lead vocalist Elin Larsson looked great and sounded better still as the multinationals turned in a defiant set of retro rock.
Next up on the main stage were Icelanders SOLSTAFIR. It wasn't my kinda thing at all, I'm afraid – just too drony ands tuneless.
Having enjoyed their current album, 'The Unravelling', I was inquisitive about KNIFEWORLD so Mr Beare and I wandered over to the Prog Stage for a little Gong-related lunacy. Regrettably, it turned out to be a very quick visit. Frontman Kavus Torabi, who the late, great Daevid Allen hand-picked as his successor in Gong, arrived with a cheery cry of: "Hello Glastonbury!", but the sound was too quiet and indistinct, and the rain was lashing down. You could tell from the group's body language that these were hardly ideal circumstances to perform, or indeed to watch. We headed back to the VIP area where later on in the day, Torabi – also a former member of Cardiacs – would concur that the right course of action had been taken.
THE QUIREBOYS were The Quireboys; raw, raucous, pissed-up and boozy, the perfect antidote to the weather. For a while I braved the elements to head for the front, intent on a bit of a boogie. And why the hell not?
Alas, as the rain became heavier I was forced to watch THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT from under cover. They sounded absolutely great from the bar, especially the brilliant 'Smouldering', one of the tunes of weekend. Hope that Gregg Allman was there in time to hear it!
RIVAL SONS... what's the fuss about? If indeed said fuss exists. I got bored by the band, and their overbearing self-importance, very quickly. Instead Mr Beare and I ventured over to the Blues Tent for some JOANNE SHAW TAYLOR, whose version of Frankie Miller's 'Jealousy' was important for two reasons. Firstly, because it was bloody great, but secondly for the fact that it rendered her own material a little humdrum. Okay, maybe that's a little unfair as, with the rain having died down, we moved on fairly soon afterwards in search of alcoholic refreshment and the next act on the main stage.
The music having passed me by until now, I was intrigued to take a look at SEASICK STEVE. His oeuvre is fulsome, blues and groovy but after ten or 15 minutes it sounded like he was making it up on the spot. The so called ad-libs were, apparently, recited parrot fashion. No, not for me I'm afraid. Seasick? Well, he certainly made me want to vomit.
As people had gathered from my tie-dyed Allman Brothers Band shirt, for yours truly, Ramblin' Man Day # 2 was all about a certain Mr GREGG ALLMAN. And as that day drew to a close, the rain finally passed its hat around and headed for the door, just in time for the arrival of the 67-year-old with a voice like honey. With the crowd at the main stage unexpectedly modest I was able to stand three rows from the front, soaking up a rare appearance on UK soil from this legendary musician. Beginning with 'Statesboro Blues', the ABB-popularised Blind Willie McTell standard, Allman flitted between Hammond B3 organ and rhythm guitar, doffing his hat at the blues with material by T‐Bone Walker, Muddy Waters and Elmore James, throwing out solo hits such as 'I'm No Angel' and 'Love Like Kerosene', and delving into the Brothers' catalogue ('Come And Go Blues', 'Ain't Wastin' Time No More', 'Stand Back', 'Soulshine', 'It's Not My Cross To Bear', 'Melissa', 'Midnight Rider' and a rearrangement of the wonderful 'Whippin' Post'). My grin must have threatened to tear my face apart… what a way to finish a fabulous coupla days.
Post-gig it was back to Jeff and Philippa's place for lashings of rum, some inspired turntable selections from Deejay Jazzy Jeff (including Journey's 'Escape' album at top volume) and, ahem… valiant yet foolhardy displays of air guitar and air keys. I crawled back into the sleeping bag at around 4am feeling exhausted but somehow jubilant. Okay… until the hangover kicked in!
Sunday 26th July
Great music, great weather, exceptional company, plenty of ale, and a priceless release valve from existence at Ling Towers… what more do you need? I talk, of course, of Day #1 at the inaugural Ramblin' Man Fair.
Our gang arrived on site with plenty of time before the show began, wandering around the site, exploring its layout and greeting plenty of familiar gig-going faces. I shall resist the temptation to award a mark to each of the bands that I saw as some of the weekend was given to sampling a few songs on a certain stage and then moving along… especially on day #2 when the heaven's opened and keeping dry and warm became something of a concern.
I saw a wee bit of NO HOT ASHES, a melodic hard rock band from Northern Ireland who were around back in the day and whose drummer, Steve Strange, now works as a booking agent and co-manager. As remarked afterwards to Steve, I had no recollection of them being anywhere near as good first time around (luckily, he laughed and agreed with me).
Bathed in scorching hot weather FM turned in an incendiary 40-minute set. No exaggeration: They were utterly irresistible, focussing primarily on heyday-era tunes ('I Belong To The Night', 'Closer To Heaven', 'Tough It Out', 'That Girl', 'The Other Side Of Midnight' and 'Bad Luck') yet also reminding us the potency of a wonderful reunion catalogue ('Digging Up The Dirt' and 'Wild Side'). And what a response!
Living up to their highbrow reputation, BLUE ÖYSTER CULT are the only hard rock band who'll tell you how life on Earth began as part of the ticket price. For around 45 of their 50 minutes they were utterly mesmerising (at almost eight minutes long, they could have played 'Astronomy', 'ETI', 'Flaming Telepaths' or any number of non-instrumental tunes in the place of 'Buck's Boogie', but that's just nit-picking). The reaction they received encourages hope that a long-discussed co-headline tour of the UK with Uriah Heep might finally become a reality. The set-list ran as follows: 'The Red And The Black', 'Burnin' For You', 'Harvester Of Eyes', 'ME 262', 'Buck's Boogie', '(Don't Fear) The Reaper' and 'Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll'. Oh, and what an honour that Ross Halfin, no less, commented "Great photo" when I posted this shot of Eric Bloom on Facebook. We are not worthy!
And onto SAXON… what can you say of a band that tailors its set so perfectly to the surroundings? Biff Byford spoke warmly of playing at Monsters Of Rock in 1980 alongside the evening's headliners before playing the song they wrote about that famous day, 'And The Bands Played On', and then following it with '747 (Strangers In The Night)'… how could they possibly go wrong? And when Byford ate the set-list – yes, you read that right! – to focus on a plethora of metal classics from the 1980s, Saxon held Ramblin' Man in their palm of their hands.
DREAM THEATER are a band that folks love or hate – indeed, some also love to hate them. I'm firmly in the former camp but will acknowledge, given the sparseness of crowd in front of the Classic Rock stage before their set, they should have been over on the Prog stage. Experience tells us that James LaBrie's voice can be a bit wobbly at times, and so it was yesterday. With just an hour in which to play, I think they got the set-list slightly wrong, too – in a festival scenario you really should play your best-known song, 'Pull Me Under'… sadly, it went ignored. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed DT's set – 'The Spirit Carries On' sounded positively uplifting as afternoon turned to dusk – but this really must go down as a missed opportunity. The songs they *did* perform were: 'Afterlife', 'Metropolis Pt. 1: The Miracle And The Sleeper', 'Burning My Soul', 'The Spirit Carries On', 'As I Am', 'Panic Attack', 'Bridges In The Sky' and 'Behind the Veil'.
Though there were rumours of some backstage dissent on the band's part, I've no idea why the SCORPIONS kept us waiting for ages to appear. So much for German efficiency. After so long away their arrival had generated great excitement but as the clock ticked by it kinda fizzled out. Though mostly it was good, I'm afraid to say I found their set a little anti-climactic at times. The reasons were manifold: A few too many new songs. A boring drum solo. The tantalising medley of four Uli Roth-era tunes… why not just play one of the buggers in its entirety? The decision to include three-and-a-half acoustic tunes consecutively. And the laborious instrumental track 'Delicate Dance' really didn't help matters.
However, the computerized stage setting, which morphed into the Berlin Wall during 'Wind Of Change', was wonderful and set's final four songs reminded us why the band will always be considered as legends. The set-list ran as follows: 'Going Out With A Bang', 'Make It Real', 'The Zoo', 'Coast To Coast' Medley: 'Top Of The Bill'/'Steamrock Fever'/'Speedy's Coming'/'Catch Your Train', 'We Built This House On A Rock', 'Delicate Dance', 'Always Somewhere', 'In The Eye Of The Storm', 'Send Me An Angel', Wind Of Change', 'Delicate Dance', 'Rock 'N' Roll Band', 'Dynamite', Drum Solo, 'Crazy World', 'Blackout' and 'Big City Nights', followed by 'Still Loving You' and 'Rock You Like A Hurricane'.
Saturday 25th July
The day is here *at last!* As I type I'm waiting for the transport to arrive and take our gang of loonies – hosts Jeff and Phillipa and assorted guests, The Beare, Dave Craig, Heather Fitsell and myself – across Kent to Mote Park for Ramblin' Man! In discussion over breakfast, two serious issues arose. 1) Whether or not there would be enough time to drink all of the alcohol that we wanted (somebody – it might've been me!) – proposed the idea of putting vodka on our porridge… and it was taken seriously! And 2) we speculated upon the possibility of the Scorpions forming one of their legendary human pyramids onstage. The guys are getting on a bit now, and Germany probably has far more stringent health and safety regulations than the UK, so Jeff, Dave and I decided to head out into the garden and perform one of our very own.
Methinks it's going to be a very silly day…
Friday 24th July
The stage times are a little infuriating, with plenty of those ridiculous stage clashes, I'm *really* looking forward to seeing those honorary Englishmen the Scorpions at tomorrow's Ramblin' Man Fair. As I type Catford is being soaked by a steady flow of drizzle. Here's hoping that the weather improves quite a lot and also that Klaus and company turn ze schpotlights on zeee peeeeeoooople! It looks as through I will spend just about all of tomorrow in front of the Classic Rock Stage, which also features appearances from FM, Blue Öyster Cult, Saxon and Dream Theater.
A friend had just texted a photograph taken this afternoon in Hamleys, London's best known toy shop, offering his congratulations on the store's new range of Dave Ling effigies. Save for the fact that the cute l'il critter doesn't have a pint in its hand, the resemblance is rather undeniable. But where are my friggin' royalties? #Outraged
Thursday 23rd July
I'd been wondering whether or not Yes would continue following the very recent death of their much-loved final original member, Mr Chris Squire. The answer, it seems, is that yes they will. Read the story, including new quotes from drummer Alan White, here. If it's what Chris wanted then I think it's the right call, but it'll be very, very strange watching Yes without him.
I've just put down the receiver on Phil May, vocalist of The Pretty Things, who turned out to be one of the most interesting guys that I've ever interviewed. I could've talked to him all day! I laughed aloud at his ruminations upon the taking of acid: "It was great, especially when you relaxed into it, knowing something was going to happen. I liked going into a hotel bathroom and turning on the taps and of course blood would come out – only really it was water. You'd wipe your face with it and think you were covered in blood."
Oh c'mon, we've all done it... haven't we? Haven't we??!!
Wednesday 22nd July
Apparently you can get odds of 11-4 on Tony Pulis walking out on the Baggies before the start of the season, due to frustration over (lack of) signings. Now why does that sound familiar? What a horrible, ego-obsessed little man Pulis is. The good news for WBA is that Warnock is available at the moment! *Sniggers*.
I've just finished the autobiography of Magnum keysman Mark Stanway. In a career that includes cameos with Phil Lynott, Robert Plant and Bernie Marsden among others, Stanway has accumulated more than his fair share of road yarns, all related in a relaxed, conversational manner. I hooted at a particular story from Magnum's touring days in America with Ozzy Osbourne. Mark had been drinking in the bar with Ozzy, who was struck by the idea for a song. Osbourne jotted down the lyrics and showed them around only to be informed, "Ozzy, you have already recorded and released this song – it's called 'Over The Mountain' and it's currently in the US charts".
I also loved the tale of Pete Way pushing his injured UFO band-mate Phil Mogg through Heathrow customs on a luggage trolley following the singer's now-infamous tumble from the stage during a televised gig in St Petersburg, Russia. You can almost imagine the scene, eh?
Stanway's mysterious habit of placing inverted commas around song titles, band names, musicians, recording studios, comedian celebrities ('Tommy Cooper'), breeds of fish ('coi carp') and even tour managers is immensely annoying, but for fans of Mark and/or Magnum, it's well worth picking up via his website.
Tuesday 21st July
What a cool loan signing: Palace have taken Chelski's Patrick Bamford for the upcoming Premier League campaign. Sadly, there's no option to buy but with 19 goals for Boro last season the highly rated striker is an excellent addition to the squad. Indeed, Boro wanted to keep him but Jose thought that an experience of top flight experience was crucial in his development. And Patrick wanted to play in London. Welcome to Selhurst, Mr Bamford.
BTW, my Classic Rock website piece on Gregg Allman - a career-spanning Ten Of The Best hit-list - is now online. Enjoy!
Monday 20th July
My Sunday afternoon was spent leafing through a stack of Allman Brothers Band and Gregg Allman vinyl. When you're paid to do something you love, it definitely doesn't suck. Truth told, listening to the likes of 'It's Not My Cross To Bare', 'Midnight Rider' and the epic, side-long version of 'Whippin' Post' from the vinyl edition of their landmark concert recording, 'At Fillmore East' was the perfect way to massage away a hangover. How exciting to think... in a little under a week I will be wearing my tie-dyed ABB T-shirt in a field in Maidstone awaiting the arrival of His Royal Greggness.
Un-friggin'-believable. Phil Rudd has been arrested again mere days after being sentenced to home confinement for threatening to kill a man and drug possession. The now presumably former AC/DC drummer can consider himself extremely fortune to have avoided a jail term and now he screws up again?! Just one word springs to mind: Dickhead.
Sunday 19th July
Never. Drinking. Alcohol. Again. It's mid-afternoon and I'm still recovering from Vardis and Diamond Head at Bush Hall. Preceded by cocktails. Followed by a return to the pub... and of course one or two for road at the Crobar. Of course I fell asleep on night bus and woke up in Petts Wood. Crossed the road and waited 40 mins for a central London-bound N47. Almost fell asleep again. Not very dignified at all, but the what the heck… the gig was great!
Diamond Head kicked things off with a crisp, ballsy and downright lethal set that included the new song 'Bones'. Mainman Brian Tatler had said they wouldn't record new music again but the arrival of latest singer, Rasmus Bom Anderson, has reinvigorated the group into reconsidering that statement. The rest of their set – 'Borrowed Time', 'Lightning To The Nations', 'To Heaven From Hell', Medley: 'To The Devil His Due'/'In The Heat Of The Night', 'Shoot Out The Lights', 'It's Electric', 'Sucking My Love', 'The Prince' and the Metallica-covered 'Am I Evil?' – confirmed that their chemistry levels are sky high once again.
Reunited in 2014, Vardis hadn't appeared in London for three decades. They'd also changed their drummer since I travelled up to Newcastle for last spring's comeback show at Brofest. Last night's set was longer and more satisfying (Oooeer, Matron!), venturing deeper into their catalogue via the likes of 'Gary Glitter Part One', 'Love Is Dead' and the brilliant 'Where There's Mods There's Rockers'. "Is it warm enough for ya? Is it loud enough for ya? Is it fucking fast enough for ya?" hollered guitarist Steve Zodiac before the band powered into 'Move Along'.
Actually, it was all three of those things. To the distress of those nearby I shook dandruff all over the room to the glorious boogie-metal strains of 'Loser' and 'If I Were King', while 'Jolly Rodger', a track from a brand new five-song EP entitled '200 MPH', confirms the band are not content to simply live in the past.
What a fantastic evening (save for the journey home!)
Saturday 18th July
There was much colourful language as I went onto the CPFC web page hoping to see a stream of Palace's pre-season friendly against FC Union Berlin. Despite following the links and hitting 'refresh' I couldn't get the bloody thing to load. From the multiple pages of furious comments online, I wasn't alone. 'Insufficient band-width', my arse. Sort it out, Palace!
Talking of 'refresh', that's the state that I shall be aiming for this evening. After a week of painting & decorating, shifting furniture and clothes and then moving it all back again, putting up curtains and a couple of nights of 'sleeping' on the sofa while a new bed is delivered (the boys now have a room each!) – and that's on top of work – I am *seriously* looking forward to a night of middle-aged NWOBHM madness from the reunited Vardis and their co-headliners Diamond Head. Toodle-pip, and don't wait up!
Friday 17th July
Very well done indeed to my eldest lad Eddie, who has broken the habit of a lifetime by accompanying me on my last couple of park runs. The first time I challenged him to do 50 laps of my usual route between the trees. He did 70. This evening I upped it to 100. The lad did 110. He deserves a glass of Sangria tonite.
One thing's for sure: We won't be toasting England's cricketers. Australia hold all the aces in the second Test at Lord's after dominating Day #2 with both bat and ball. It seems almost inevitable that the series will be leveled at 1-1. How frickin' disappointing.
Thursday 16th July
As I type I'm playing 'Underworld', the new Symphony X album... it's a bit of a prog-metal masterpiece! Russell Allen = mega-vocalist, and no mistake!
On the eve of some UK dates the Classic Rock website has just posted my brand new interview with Cyril Neville, lead singer of the fantastic Royal Southern Brotherhood. In the absence of a show at the Beaverwood Club, I must try to see those guys at the Boom Boom Club over in Sutton next week.
Wednesday 15th July
Wow, look what I've just founding whilst thumbing through my back issues of the much-missed RAW magazine. A review of Thunder's fourth ever gig, which took place at the Opera On The Green in Shepherd's Bush, which is now a snooker hall. Just call me Nostradamus! However, all these years later I find it hard to believe that I wrote: "The tunes grind their hips, toss back their hair and, unless you're careful, they'll pursue your daughter through the park with their trousers round their ankles"! Drinking in the office was permitted back then, but I must have been on some very strong stuff that day!
£45 each for Eddie and I to go to Norwich for Palace's first game of the season?!? Delia Smith, you can shove your ticket prices where the sun doesn't shine. No wonder the away end has yet to sell out. I'm gonna spend £90 on ale and watch a stream instead.
Tuesday 14th July
Today I have mainly been writing about this fine NWOBHM-era gem – Satan's debut album 'Court In The Act'. My research reveals that back then Kerrang! accused the band of "peddling the same old riffs, licks and clichés" – not a great shock considering the magazine was way too busy awarding space to the likes of The Gun Club, Lords Of The New Church and John Cougar Mellencamp to care about good ol' heavy metal, but to these ears it's still a great record 32 years later. I've been granted an exclusive preview of Satan's new studio album, 'Atom By Atom', which is due in October, and it gets a big thumbs up from me.
Still on an upbeat note my press accreditation for the weekend after next's Ramblin' Man Fair is now confirmed and my childcare issues are also sorted so I'm actually gonna get a (short) summer holiday after all! See everybody at the bar!
Monday 13th July
What a great night of old-skool metal with Anvil last night in Islington. I had a nice chat with Lips outside the pub before the show during which he told me some early details about the Canadian band's second movie, which is already under production. Opening number 'March Of The Crabs' was performed a couple of feet away from where I stood out in crowd, and from there the trio didn't look back, Lips playing slide guitar with a vibrator during 'Mothra' just like the old days. Horns up, here's the set-list: 'March Of The Crabs', '666', 'School Love', 'Badass Rock 'N' Roll', 'Winged Assassins', 'This Is 13', 'Mothra', 'On Fire', 'Thumb Hang', 'Swing Thing' (including drum solo), 'Hope In Hell', 'Eat Your Words' and 'Metal On Metal', followed by 'Forged In Fire' and 'Running'.
Sunday 12th July
I've been receiving quite a few quizzical emails... 'What's going on with the gig reports?' 'Why didn't you go and see [insert the name of band X] when they played in London?', and even 'Can we have some more stories about you getting pissed-up in the Crobar?' The truth is that I've been taking it much easier than usual as the new domestic situation here at Ling Towers beds in. While they get used to a single-parent household, I think it's important for me to spend as much time as possible here with my sons. Normal service will resume before too long, I promise.
However, I am *really* looking forward to seeing Anvil at the Islington Academy this evening... hard to think it's my first gig in (ulp!) almost a month! Just don't expect me to drink alcohol... after the last coupla days I couldn't even look at a pint.
Saturday 11th July
What a bloody superb day. Crystal Palace won the first of their pre-season friendlies at Barnet with some very nice football; keeping the round thing on the deck, plenty of one-touch passing and a 30-yard screamer from Gayle. Eddie and I roared back into the away end's bar in time to see England take Australia's final two wickets… 1-0 in the Ashes series – fantastic! On the way out we bumped into assistant boss Keith Millen and he allowed me to take a really nice piccie. And, to top it all, I arrived home to an email asking whether I'd be interested in writing the liner notes for some upcoming Sweet projects? Um… just a bit. What an honour!
Friday 10th July
I'm extremely hung over. Last night was spent in the bar of the Sanctum Hotel as TeamRock said goodbye to Chris Ingham, publisher of Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog and Blues. Chris and I have never exactly been bosom buddies through the years, but his achievements speak for themselves. I don't think I've never me a more driven individual and no doubt he will be back before too long in one guise or another, making everybody's lives hell yet inspiring them to new heights. Drinks were free for a big chunk of the evening, which led to some fantastic air guitar heroics out on the dance floor (hello Siân!) and I'm so-o-o-o-o-o glad to have resisted the temptation to return to the Cro on the way home.
There's amazing news from Selhurst Park... after days of will-he-or-won't he, Palace have signed French international midfielder Yohan Cabaye from Paris Saint Germain for a club record fee that, including adds-ons, could reach as much as £13m. And with centre-back Scott Dann – last season's player of the year – agreeing a new contract, the future in SE25 is looking brighter by the day.
By the way, I'm with Sebastian Bach on the subject of his latest outburst - mobile phones at concerts. The former Skid Row singer thinks they should be outlawed. "I want to fucking smack them", says Seb of the peeps that ruin the show for others by holding their phones in the air. Too right, my son… too right.
Anyway, it's early evening and we're back again at the Blythe Hill tavern for more cricket and yet more cider. Just look at these options – ranging from Devon Mist at 4.5% to Bee Sting Perry and Run Cask at a whopping 7.5! Decisions, decisions! In the end I went with Crazy Goat, a medium sweet blend of perry and cider that was extremely drinkable. At stumps England had set the Aussies a record-making target of 412 to win the First Test, though to be fair the visitors have two days in which to reach that total. But it's a big ask. A mighty big ask.
Thursday 9th July
Happy birthday to the one and only Sir Stevie Coppell. The man that brought Wright and Bright to Selhurst, masterminded a climb up the leagues and took Palace to the club's one and only FA Cup Final appearance… which we were a matter of minutes away from winning till that c**t M**k H***es equalised. Grrrrr. *Gnashes teeth*
Anyway, I'm doing some research for sleeve notes. It was nice to dig out these little beauties from 1983 again. Metal Forces #1 has my interview with Dennis Stratton of Lionheart, and #2 Def Leppard's Rick Savage. Seeing them brought back so many great memories of that whole era. Hanging out at the Marquee Club, The Ship, The St Moritz Club and Shades Records… wonderful times indeed.
Wednesday 8th July
How exciting that the Ashes series is here at last! The Convicts are expected to win, obviously, but it feels like I've been waiting for this for a lo-o-o-o-ng time! I knocked off work a little earlier than usual so that Eddie and I could visit our local watering hole for the evening session. Scrumpy cider and a great century from Joe Rooooooooooot! At 43-3 it had looked ominous but barring the last minute dismissal of Buttler, Day #1 belonged to Alistair Cook's men.
The rest of my day was spent transcribing last weekend's interview with Jakko Jakszyk. I love the way he tells the story of joining the current configuration of King Crimson, a band he saw as a fan at the tender age of 13 back in 1971. "That same night I went to bed and dreamt that Robert Fripp had phoned me and asked to join the band. The following morning I woke up and thought, 'Ah fuck, it was only dream' but all these years later it actually happened in real life. I got to join my childhood heroes – how completely mad and surreal is that?!"
Tuesday 7th July
I was asked to write some entries and submit a few suggestions to the Classic Rock website's list of The 25 Albums Of 2015 (so far), which can be viewed here. There are some corkers, and (in my view) a few turkeys, too! But what the heck... you know what they say about opinions.
Great news: Tom Keifer of Cinderella adds a London solo show to his UK visit for the Rockingham Festival. It's at Islington Academy on October 22. I'm gonna try to make it up to Nottingham as I've never seen Jim Peterik onstage before but should those plans be impossible, well... my ass is covered!
Monday 6th July
The NME (New Musical Express), launched way back in 1952, is to become a free handout. Must admit, I find that kinda shocking... but its glory days were waaaaaaay before my time and I always hated the way they sneered at hard rock and metal. Steven Wells, Paul Morley, Oasis, Blueeergggh, The Smiths, REM, Joy Division, Madchester, Tony Wilson (the *other* Tony Wilson) and a set of their entire back issues should be placed on a Viking longboat and ceremonially burned.
And it seems that I'm far from alone. Discussing the news at my Facebook page, Ginger Wildheart seemed to sum up the mood with his gleeful comment: "Another dream comes true. The public humiliation of this pious piece of pointless pulp."
Sunday 5th July
It's definitely a prog-tastic day. I just undertook a lively breakfast-time phone interview with King Crimson's Jakko Jakszyk, and the rest of the day will be spent writing up my recent chats with Dave Meros and Ted Leonard of Spock's Beard. Niiiiiice.
Meanwhile, something, it seems, is stirring in Blackmore Land. There have been many whispers of rock-related activity from the former Deep Purple and Rainbow star, but this report is the closest that Blackers has come to confirming something might really be afoot. You can count me among "the three or four people who might be interested", though his quote of "We will probably play three or four shows in June; that's all" is a little worrying. I hope they won't all be in bloody Germany.
Saturday 4th July
Today's an AC/DC-free day for me. To be honest, I thought they were skating on thin (black) ice when last I saw them, at the O2 Arena back in 2009, but without Malcolm Young and Phil Rudd… touring a distinctly mediocre album and at Wembley bloody Stadium? No thanks. I had the immense pleasure of seeing the band at a small (3K capacity) venue, and conducting an interview with the Youngs, in Berlin some six years earlier. I'll stick with those memories. But to everyone making the pilgrimage one more, and probably final, time – have a great day!
Meanwhile, what a superb belated birthday pressie I've just received from Mr Derek Oliver over at the celebrated re-issue label Rock Candy Records. I can't believe that I've never owned the first two Wingers or the Damn Yankees and Enuff Z'nuff debuts on CD before. Let me tell you, Damn Yankees are sounding fan-bloody-tastic on this hot summer's afternoon. The Hanoi Rocks album, 'Two Steps From The Move', is now a double, with an added disc of 11 bonus tracks, including a Friday Rock Show session. That's just killer!
Friday 3rd July
Thanks to my good friend Andy Beare for organising yesterday's curry and beer evening at the Monsoon restaurant in Catford. Had he not persuaded me to have a night out I'd probably have stayed home and felt a wee bit sorry for myself.
In the end, much fun was had. Cocktails and wine flowed, as did the banter, conversation, and great rock 'n' roll tales. The grub was tasty and reasonably priced as well. My bud Neil Bricher gave me a lift home, too, which was very much appreciated as I returned to Ling Towers laden down with bottles of all shapes, sizes and types… almost enough to open my own off license, in fact. Anyone would think that I liked a drop of alcohol! No comments please!
Thursday 2nd July
Ho hum. It's my birthday. Thanks for all of the messages and texts. I have such great friends. Knowing that I've had a bit of a shitty year one of my oldest buds called Paul Gillooly has burned me a huge jiffy bag full of bootleg CDrs, including Status Quo (Stockholm 71, Australia 78), Genesis (Hammersmith 76, Earls Court 77, Chicago 78, Lyceum 80) and The Who (O2 Arena and Royal Albert Hall 15). My dad has also booked me a hot air balloon flight! I'm keeping it local and low-key tonight; curry and some beers with a few friends. Things are gonna get better!
Magnum's Mark Stanway has also kindly sent me a copy of his self-published autobiography, Close To The Mark. A cursory skim suggests it will be very entertaining. I do hope that he has included his legendary story about the goat, the strawberry trifle, the stick of rhubarb and the unnamed member of Bronski Beat, hehehe. Order it from his website.
I'm happy to pass on this update about 'Empire Of The Clouds', the Bruce Dickinson-penned epic on Maiden's forthcoming album 'The Book Of Souls'. There's 'excited'. There's 'beyond excited'. And there's this!
Wednesday 1st July
Eddie and I stayed up late for the England Ladies game against Japan with a jug of Pimms Strawberry. Most delicious – it gets the thumbs up from me! At 1-1 after 90 mins it has looked like extra time and maybe even the dreaded penalties were on the cards. And then a stoppage time own goal... that's just so, so England. Will we ever win another semi-final?!?
Anyway, the monthly YouTube and Playlist amendments have been made. Enjoy!
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