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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  Saturday 31st March
I'll be frank, I don't always agree with the editorial content of Classic Rock, but the latest issue contains some terrific stuff. Peter Makowski's Aerosmith cover story is a good read, likewise Jon Hotten's feature on Marillion. That reminds me, I must ask for a copy of Hogarth and company's newie, 'Somwehere Else', which receives a rave review. Also pleased to see that Starcastle's 'Song Of Times' is praised at length by Geoff Barton, his kiss-off line of "The only disappointment is that it doesn't last twice as long" being right on the money. The live review of Journey will set the noticeboard at Melodicrock.com buzzing (again). I agree with its overall sentiment but wouldn't have described Jeff Scott Soto as someone with a tendency to "wail and over-sing, while jittering like a hyperactive toddler". Not even sure what that last part means. I just don't think his voice is right for Journey.
Bought a copy of FHM magazine yesterday. No, not for the photos of page three bird Keeley Hazell or mono-braincelled 'actress' Kelly Brook (honest!), but after being tipped off about an amazing interview with Simon Jordan. I've always liked CPFC's big-gobbed supremo, but even by his own standards Jordan says some extraordinary things here. Apparently, he'd already fallen out with Iain Dowie by the time the club won the play-off final in 2004 ("his manners, outlook and attitude stank. So what that he got promotion. That's what I paid him to do"). Simon's ire is also vented upon player-turned-pundit Alan Brazil (dubbed "Fat Boy Dim") and regular targets Ch***ton ("they represent nothing to me") and Birmingham Shitty ("David Sullivan, the man that style forgot"). Perhaps funniest of all is the story of how he delighted the fans by sacking one of Palace's most woeful managers ever, Trevor Francis. "But it's my birthday," the nasally-inclined one is said to have blubbed. Jordan merely replied: "Many happy returns, Trev" whilst handing over the P45.
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Friday 30th March
Phew... yesterday was busy. At lunchtime I attended a showcase gig by Marion Raven, the 22-year-old Norwegian-born singer/songwriter who duetted with Meat Loaf on the third 'Bat Out Of Hell' album's ballad 'It's All Coming Back To Me Now'. Her debut solo album, 'Set Me Free', has a song co-written with Mötley Crüe's Nikki Sixx and is probably best described as pop-fuelled modern rock. Marion played a handful of songs, supplying her own guitar and keyboard accompaniment. With an incredibly emotive voice, she fills a pair of leather pants to eye-watering perfection. It'll be fun to interview her this morning.
Dashed back home for a quick phoner with Adam Schlesinger of Fountains Of Wayne, whose new album 'Traffic And Weather' (released May 7) is turning out to be a real grower at Ling Towers. Then it was off to Shepherds Bush Empire. To be honest, I had to be gently talked into seeing Joe Bonamassa again. He'd been so enjoyable at the Borderline (capacity around 300) last September, why would I want to see him again so soon in a hall that holds around 2,000? Thank goodness I submitted to Evert from Mascot Records' generous offer of a pass and some vodka and diet cokes. The California-born guitar hero - only 30 years old - controlled the sold-out crowd from the off, his show working as well in theatres as it does in sweaty clubs. The medley of ZZ Top's 'Just Got Paid', 'Dazed And Confused' by Led Zeppelin and the final part of Yes' 'Starship Trooper' that ended the set proper all but brought the house down. That Jeff Beck and Gary Moore were reportedly backstage says more about Bonamassa's ascension than I ever could.
En route to Shepherds Bush I was happy to take a call from Tesla's Brian Wheat. There may be truth in rumours of a British show while the band are in Europe to play Holland's Arrow Rock Festival in the summer. He also emailed me a track from an upcoming covers album; won't ruin the surprise, but it's a classic and Tesla's version is splendid.
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Thursday 29th March
Well, I sat through yet another lacklustre performance from England's footballers last night. Despite playing against the qualifying group's whipping boys, Anodorra, it took 54 agonising minutes for McLaren's chosen eleven to find the back of the net. Peeking anxiously over the top of the sofa, glass in hand, there were times when I thought the breakthrough would never come. Hang on a minute, isn't watching sport supposed to be fun?
On the other hand, the gig news just gets better and better. Heaven And Hell have confirmed a show at London's Wembley Arena on October 10. Iced Earth are the openers and Lamb Of God acting as meat in the sandwich to put a few younger bums on seats. Foreigner will also play a 30th anniversary gig at Shepherds Bush Empire the following week, October 17. How bloody infuriating that it clashes with Alice Cooper, Motörhead and Joan Jett's stint at Wembley - which imbecile books these things without checking what else is going on?!
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Wednesday 28th March
How's this for a smashing bit of name-dropping. Robert Fripp sent me an email yesterday. Seriously, it's true! I was, of course, aware of the notoriously crochety King Crimson's leader's deep suspicion of journalists, but had nevertheless submitted a polite request to talk for a Classic Rock story I'm working on. It's a feature on a group that isn't King Crimson, so I thought he might be a little more inclined towards contributing. Robert's reply came back:
      "the message was passed on, more than once. many thanks for your interest, gratefully declined."
So I asked whether he'd consider writing a few words on the band concerned, without having to speak to myself of another of the magazine's writers. The response was typically Fripp-esque... almost worth starting our own equivalent of Pseud's Corner for...
      "dear dave, sometimes no answer is an answer, especially when the answer is no - so this is not an answer! vb, r."
After my laughter subsided, I realised what a pleasure it had been to be talked down to by one of my all-time heroes.
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Tuesday 27th March
Hurrah and huzzah... Rush's UK tour dates are out at last! Two nights at Wembley Arena in October. And a copy of It Bites' new live CD, 'When The Lights Go Down', just dropped onto my desk, along with an expanded two-disc version of Saga's 1982 album, 'Worlds Apart'. It's official: there is a God.
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Monday 26th March
Glenn Hughes and his opening act Toby Jepson had two important things in common at Shepherds Bush Empire last night. Both introduced their new backing bands and seemed to be attempting subtle re-brandings of themselves. With ex-T'Pau/Ian Gillan guitarist Dean Howard taking over from fan favourite Nick Dunne, Jepson and his three new colleagues blazed through eight songs in their allotted 30 minutes, studiously ignoring his years as frontman with Little Angels. Personally, I didn't mind the decision to focus on rousing numbers like 'Breakdown', 'Motivated' and the excellent 'Forgiveness', though it must have caused frustration for some. Actually dozed off for a while during Nude Girls, who turned out to be turgid South African plod-rockers and not a bunch of naked ladies as misleadingly billed. Glenn Hughes' headline set was marvellous. The abrupt jettisoning of long-time guitarist JJ Marsh indicates that Hughes seeks to capitalise upon the rave reviews for 'Music For The Divine' and 'Soul Mover', using high profile collaborators like Chad Smith, John Frusciante and Dave Navarro to disguise perception of him as an ex-Deep Purple journeyman. Last seen by yours truly in Phil Mogg's side band $ign Of 4, newcomer Jeff Kollman has a jazzier, edgier technique than his predecessor. Drummer Mark Mondesir has played with Jeff Beck among others, and together they add a whole new dimension to the sound. "I want to be pushed and challenged," explained Hughes of the switch. Two numbers - 'The Valiant Denial' and 'Orion' - were all it took to confirm the new regime's vast potential. Purple favourites like 'Mistreated', 'This Time Around', 'Gettin' Tighter', 'You Keep On Moving' and 'Burn' all remain in the show, but the updated interpretations rarely resort to mere jukebox-style parody.
Okay those solo spots were gratitious, but the performance's freshness and the dramatic lighting combined with Hughes' scarcely believable voice to propel the show out of the comfort zone and into exciting new territory. Some fans actually called Kollman's contribution "abysmal" afterwards, due to his failure to play the songs the way they knew them. The Funkmiester may well end up alienating a chunk of his following by these changes, but it's obvious why they've been made.
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Sunday 27th March
Just call me Disgusted Of Catford. The failure of a toothless and shot-shy England side to beat Israel at the Ramat Gan Stadium last night makes it harder than ever to qualify for next year's European Championships. Worse still, Scotland's catastrophic 2-1 victory over Georgia suggests they'll actually make it through this time. Aaaaaaaarrrrgh!
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Friday 23rd March
Yesterday afternoon was occupied by a playback of Rush's new album. Given the paranoia that exists about downloading, this was the UK media's only chance to hear 'Snakes & Arrows' before its release date of April 30. I'd been dying to hear it, unlike the representative of Kerrang! that read a book for pretty much the entire 63 minutes, disappeared for a piss halfway through and f**ked off before the last song ended. Okay, I know Rush's current standing at K! Towers probably lies somewhere beneath Panic! At The Disco, Job For A Cowboy or Aiden - altogether... WHO?! - but I admit, this person's disprespect shocked me, especially as Pegi Cecconi from the Rush office was in the room at the time.
Anyway, 'Snakes & Arrows' is a vast improvement upon the Canadian trio's last album. I'll be frank, 2002's 'Vapor Trails' did very little for me. This time the band have gone heavier (very heavy in places!), with guitarist Alex Lifeson being let off the leash. Opening track (and first single) 'Far Cry' is probably the best song, being reminiscent of the band's 'Permanent Waves' album. But generally speaking, it's extremely strong throughout. Hugh Syme's artwork is excellent as ever, visualising a theme that seems to run through some of the songs; the elements. 'Spindrift', for instance, uses pounding instrumental parts to re-create waves crashing in on the western shore. 'The Larger Bowl (A Pantoum)', meanwhile, picks up where the 'Hemispheres'-era track 'Circumstances' left off with its couplet of: "Some of us live in a cloud of fear/Some live behind iron gates". In the vaguest possible way, Rush also pay lip service to the differences between the Middle East and Middle West in 'The Way The Wind Blows', which features the telling line of "Pray... and pass the ammunition" and a great solo from Lifeson. The best compliment that you could pay Peart's words is that they're thoughtful without being stuffy. The album, too, is heavy, but falls short of being one dimensional. You're gonna like it, I'm sure.
P.S. Bob Woolmer's death has now become a murder enquiry. That's absolutely shocking.
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Wednesday 21st March
Much as I'd love to have caught last night's Buckcherry or Warrior Soul gigs, I headed to Selhurst Park for Geoff Thomas' re-staging of the 1990 FA Cup Semi-Final between Palace and Liverpool instead. With gate receipts going to charity (Palace's former captain was diagnosed was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia mid-2003 and given three years to live), respect is due to Geoff for setting up the game, also to the players and a miserly 5,000-odd fans that braved a freezing cold night to turn up. Eagles past and present included Peter Taylor, Gareth Southgate, Alan Pardew (who, of course, notched the winning goal back in 1990), a balloon-sized Andy Gray, Perry Suckling, Kit Symons, Phil Barber, John Humphrey and Thomas himself. The scoreline was irrelevant in many ways - Palace had already won the game that counted 4-3, famously avenging the same season's 9-0 massacre - but it was none other than Simon Jordan who audaciously set up Mark Bright's headed equaliser with a pinpoint cross. The Scousers' side included Jamie Redknapp, Steve McManaman, John Barnes, Bruce Grobelar and Phil Babb, who I think scored their goal.
P.S. Omigod, Bob Woolmer's death is being treated as "suspicious" by Jamaican police.
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Tuesday 20th March
RIP former England cricket hero Bob Woolmer, who died after the Pakistan side that he coached crashed out of the World Cup to the hands of (ulp!) Ireland. On St Patrick's day... I'd hate to be clearing up the empties are that little party. Oh yeah, Steely Dan have confirmed a show at London's Hammersmith Apollo on July 7 - awesome stuff!
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Monday 19th March
A double-header between Celtic Frost and Kreator always seemed likely to be worth checking out. And so it proved at Koko last night. Regular visitors to this diary will know that I cannot abide Koko as a venue, due to its pitiful acoustics. Well, knock me down with a damp lettuce leaf, Thomas Gabriel Fischer and company sounded absolutely amazing from the opening notes of 'Procreation (Of The Wicked)' to the disturbing dark 'Synagoga Satanae' that closed their half of the show some 85 minutes later. During the changeover, Malcolm Dome and wondered how on earth Mille Petrozza's boys would follow such a barnstorming performance. Well, Kreator were a little muffled by comparison, but their set included marvellously bloodthirsty renditions of 'Violent Revolution', 'Pleasure To Kill', 'Extreme Agression', 'Betrayer' and 'Reconquering The Throne', encores consisting of 'Impossible Brutality', 'Flag Of Hate' and 'Tormentor'. I'd say the Frosties won it in the end... by a nose.
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Sunday 18th March
English weather's so bloody unpredictable. With forecasts heralding sunshine on Saturday and frost today, Clan Ling headed to our holiday home, only to discover the exact reverse. Arrived back in Catford in time for the radio commentary of Palace's game down in Plymouth, which ended up a frustrating 0-1 defeat. However, my night was made by watching Justin Hawkins throwing his toys out of the pram before the nation after being eliminated from the Eurovision Song Contest's qualifying rounds. After such ignomy, wherefore now for The Darkness' high-pitched ex-singer?
Logged on to learn that besides Asia's December tour, John Wetton and Geoffrey Downes have lined up a string of dates with their side project, Icon, in November. Oh monsewers, I fear that you are spoiling us.
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Saturday 17th March
Sorry... forgot to mention that Heep have confirmed their new drummer Russell Gilbrook has worked with Tony Iommi, Van Morrison, John Farnham, Alan Price, Chris Barber and Lonnie Donegan among others - given that he wears Betty Ford Clinic T-shirts, I'm sure he'll fit in nicely. Like all Heepsters I'll miss Lee Kerslake, who left for health reasons, but would like to welcome Russell aboard. Further excellent news: After their successful bout of touring, the original Asia line-up have announced plans to record a new studio album - effectively a follow-up to 1983's 'Alpha' - for release early in 2008. Can't wait.
I'd been anticipating the Cricket World Cup, which for England began with yesterday's game against New Zealand. Sadly, the national side's inability to push home an advantage is all too obvious. Having lost four vital wickets for just five runs in their own innings, Vaughan's men nevertheless set their opponents reeling with three quick wickets, yet still contrived to lose by six wickets. England must now beat Canada on Sunday to qualify for the Super Eights section.
In the evening I finally got to attend a Stackridge concert. Discovered this enchanting bunch of British eccentrics when Marillion's Steve Hogarth recommended their George Martin-produced 1974 album, 'Man In The Bowler Hat'. From the stage voalist/guitarist James Warren told us that Stackridge (who reunited back in 1999) hadn't played the 100 Club for 37 years! The six-piece band (augmented by two delightful violinists) sent the crowd wild by running through most of their best songs, including 'Lummy Days', 'The Volunteer', 'Dangerous Bacon', 'Fish In A Glass', 'Road To Venezuela', 'Syracuse The Elephant', 'Something About The Beatles' and 'The Galloping Gaucho', even including a pair ('If I Had You' and 'Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime') by The Korgis, Warren's post-Stackridge pop combo. Here's hoping that the opportunity to see Stackridge will present itself again.
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Friday 16th March
A few things to get through. The news that Brad Delp took his own life is so tragic. Boston's singer apparently left a series of notes which led to his corpse, including one in his garage that read, "To whoever finds this, I have hopefully committed suicide. Plan B was to asphyxiate myself in my car." I'm far happier to report that Rush will be announcing details of an October arena tour of the UK on March 27. Dream Theater have also been added to the Download bill on the day I'm planning to attend, the Iron Maiden-headlined Sunday (natch!) And Steely Dan have confirmed a Liverpool Summer Pops date in July, so hopefully there will be a full tour.
Went to the Forum in Kentish Town to see Mastodon last night. The place was absoluely packed for one of the few acts that are doing anything interesting in the realm of extreme music these days. At the time of its release I wasn't as sold as many other critics on the Grammy-nominated Atlanta band's major label debut, 'Blood Mountain', but after a thunderously deafening display that mixed elements of Kyuss, The Mars Volta, Metallica, Rush and King Crimson, I'll be giving it a hasty reappraisal today.
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Thursday 15th March
So... Journey. The recruitment of Jeff Scott Soto on vocals is being hailed as a masterstroke. I'm afraid you'll have to count me as a (mild) dissenter. The band's show at Hammersmith Apollo last night was light years better than I feared, though not quite as good as I'd dared to hope. Soto is an masterful singer, that's indisputable. And as one of the best young(-ish) vocalists that the world has to offer right now, he's definitely re-energised his more seasoned colleagues. My problem is that he's just not a Journey singer... not in the tradition of Perry or Augeri. Then again, as I ended up debating on the tube with a group of diehards who'd been following the tour, how many people could do such a job?
After an enthusiastically received warm-up from Danny Vaughn, Journey spent two hours and ten minutes onstage, playing just about anything you could wish for. Moments like 'Stone In Love', 'Ask The Lonely' and 'Wheel In The Sky' were magnificent. However, compared to last year's Manchester Apollo gig with Steve Augeri - a show that at times almost made me weep like a baby (despite whatever dubious methods they might or might not have used to pull it off) - the performance sagged badly in the middle. Few around me knew the 'Infinity' track 'Opened The Door' or expressed anything but polite indifference for the first album's 'Mystery Mountain', even for 'Edge Of The Blade' (from 'Frontiers') or the 'Armageddon' soundtrack tune 'Rescue Me'.
However, 'Chain Reaction', 'Send Her My Love' and 'Lights' punched the mood through the roof, and I was more elated still to receive a text informing me that Lewis Grabban had scored a 93rd-minute winner in Palace's game up at West Brom. The silly buggers proceeded to screw things up with a lame five-minute blues jam that preceded 'Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin'', before going through the stratosphere again with 'Faithfully' (featuring the altogether silkier vocals of drummer Deen Castronovo), 'Don't Stop Believin'', 'Anyway You Want It' and a quite stupendous encore of 'Separate Ways'. I'm perfectly aware that my views are in the minority. During the show, Classic Rock's Jerry Ewing sent me a text proclaiming: "Soto is a god! Awesome, awesome, awesome!" The JSS-fronted unit are a hard rock band par excellence. But, to me, they're just not Journey. Sorry...
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Wednesday 14th March
The first of two consecutive evenings to be spent at London's Hammersmith Apollo. In a few short hours I'll be experiencing the new-look Journey, but last night I joined a crowd that included legendary producer George Martin in appreciation of veteran soft-rockers America. Despite a severe lack of volume - even in the fifth row, and sat directly in front of the PA, you sometimes had to strain to hear the lead guitar - the show was surprisingly good.
Still helmed by original members Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell, America are now into their 37th year. As you'd expect, they have a strong catalogue. But such US radio staples as 'Ventura Highway', 'You Can Do Magic', 'Don't Cross The River', 'I Need You', 'Tin Man', 'The Border', 'Only In Your Heart', 'Lonely People', a hard-rocking 'Sandman' and the perrenial 'A Horse With No Name' were rounded out by some strong new material (notably 'Indian Summer', 'Chasing The Rainbow' and 'Ride On') from a double-disc called 'Here And Now' that was produced by Adam Schlesinger from Fountains Of Wayne and Smashing Pumpkins' James Iha. There's life in the old dogs yet.
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Tuesday 13th March
The guys from It Bites have asked me to pen some waffle about the group's forthcoming new live album, which will be posted in a few days' time at their website. 'When The Lights Go Down' was recorded on last December's comeback tour and is available from that site. Guitarist/vocalist John Mitchell mailed over an advance CD of the disc which contains all ten of the finished album's tracks, including one of the newies they debuted, 'Playground'. It sounds magnificent and should keep the fans off the band's backs for a bit while they complete the all-important studio disc.
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Monday 12th March
It's a glorious sunny day in south London, Spring is on its way again. Aptly, I'm playing a terrific new album called 'Traffic And Weather' by one of my favourite bands, Fountains Of Wayne. They're mainly known here in Britain for the song 'Stacy's Mom', which had a tremendous video that featured Rachel Hunter. At first listen there doesn't seem to be anything as instant on the New York-based band's fourth album (issued through Virgin on May 7), but tunes like 'This Better Be Good', 'Someone To Love' and 'Yolanda Hayes' are ingeniously arranged as ever.
Just been transcribing an interview with Roger Glover of Deep Purple. Full marks to the bassist for his honesty. There aren't many musos who'd admit: "In England, our profile is lower than anywhere else in the world. People say, ‘Deep Purple? Are you still alive?’ But in places like France and South America we do really well." Also, when I brought up the subject of Purple's poorly received UK tour with Lynyrd Skynyrd in 2003, he confessed: "They absolutely wiped the floor with us. We topped the bill, but they did all the hits. So we started doing our hits as well and everything changed. We went down really well. You learn from your mistakes."
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Sunday 11th March
Went to a record fair in Camden prior to yesterday's home game against Leicester City (which Palace won by two goals to nil). Picked up an interesting CD by Randy Hansen, one of those guys that like Frank Marino and Uli Roth will forever be associated with Jimi Hendrix. The comparisons are all of his own making, I guess, as 'Good Intentions' features live versions of 'Are You Experienced?' and 'Little Wing', plus a 12-minute re-working of Jimi's '1983', now re-titled '2083'. Hansen's own songs are none too shabby, either.
Sad to learn of the death of Boston singer Brad Delp. Never met the guy but was a huge fan. He was 55 years old. That must make Boston another of those bands that I'll never get to see live now.
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Saturday 10th March
A promo of the new Wildhearts album, self-titled and due to arrive on April 30, is here. Just as the band have been predicting, it's bloody fantastic. Much more of a hard rock album than some of the pop stuff they've done. In fact, I must be in a bit of a headbanging mood right now, as Megadeth's 'United Abominations' (which is released on May 14) is still rattling the fillings in my teeth. The newie from Annihilator also really rocks my world. Appropriately titled 'Metal', it includes guest spots from members of Arch Enemy, The Haunted, Anvil, In Flames, Lamb Of God, Children Of Bodom and Trivium among others - the last-named of whom the veteran Canadian band will be opening for on a European tour next month.
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Friday 9th March
Allowed myself the luxury of a slightly later than usual start this morning. Was up quite late doing a phoner with Duff McKagan last night. Seemed like a nice fella. He was very happy that band-mate Slash has turned himself around after a spell in rehab, but was unable to shed too much light on Velvet Revolver's induction of Van Halen at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, where they will perform 1978's 'Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love' and the Hagar-era 'Runaround'. Regarding whether or not VH will be attending the ceremony, "the situation changes on a daily basis", apparently. Edward Van Halen has also gone into rehab as well, so at least he's acknowedging that there's a problem.
As it's Friday and my bloody internet connection's gone down, I plan on playing some of the cool new stuff that's landed on my desk. Was thrilled to receive the 30th anniversary edition of Electric Light Orchestra's 'Out Of The Blue' album - Christ, I still recall buying the single 'Mr Blue Sky' on blue vinyl when it was first released - plus finished copies of the latest Whitesnake re-issues. Chuckled heartily at Mr Coverdale's lyric of "All of you women/Better lift up your skirts and run/'Cos I aim to shoot my pistol/And fire like a Gatlin gun" in 'Rough An' Ready', from 'Saints & Sinners'.
Old Cov for Poet
Laureate, that's what I say.

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Wednesday 7th March
Gotta admit, I had doubts about the concept behind Get In The Ring, Metal Hammer's boxing-themed battle of the bands-style show. The brainchild of Hammer/Classic Rock's fight-loving publisher Chris Ingham saw four "up and coming heavyweights from the world of metal" playing 25-minute sets in a real boxing ring, being judged by a panel that included Saxon's Biff Byford, and then put to the public vote. In what was the last hard rock event to take place at the Hammersmith Palais, flyweights Zico Chain (er... who?!) should really have been put out of their misery by the referee. For my money, the title deserved to go to Finnish nutters Turisas, who took to the ring covered in fake animal's blood and strapped into fur pelts for a display of sword-waving, Skyclad-style pagan lunacy (their Boney M cover was splendid). Breed 77 are an excellent band, but they seemed a little out of place at such an event, and not really giving a stuff about the evening's final contenders, Deathstars, I snuck out early. I've no idea who'll end up clutching the inaugural Get In The Ring belt as voting continues for a while, but will look forward to next year's bout - wherever it might be staged.
On the tube journey home I finished an excellent book about Kiss. If you stop by this diary on a regular basis, you'll know that I've no time whatsoever for Gene $immons, a now tragi-comic figure who's long since exceeded self-parody to end up in the drawer marked 'odious excuse for a human being'. Kiss Behind The Mask, by US authors David Leaf and Ken Sharp, is culled from detailed interviews with the group and their inner cicrle, reminding us of the sporadic genius of Kiss. Simmons is especially honest when speaking of the group's struggle to stay afload in the late 1980s, admitting: "Bon Jovi or Poison were better versions of what we did. Better looking guys; younger and thinner, who wrote better songs in that pop vein. There were very few options. We couldn't out-Motörhead Motörhead and we weren't as classic as Led Zeppelin. We couldn't do classic Kiss without Ace [Frehley] and Peter [Criss], so we did the best with what he had." If only he'd address the band's farcical status in 2007 with such candour.
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Tuesday 6th March
Visited the studios of TotalRock Radio yesterday to join the pre-recording of a new series called Teach Yourself Thrash. The show's host Talita Jenman asked my old mate Malcolm Dome and myself a few choice questions about the genre, and we span some classic records by Metallica, Exodus, Onslaught, Sepultura and more. It was a lot of fun.
Afterwards I zipped up to Camden for the debut London show from Hydrogyn, the female-fronted US band whose 'Bombshell' album was produced by Michael Wagener of Alice Cooper/Skid Row fame. Came away particularly impressed by Julie Westlake, who's mainly generated (column) inches for her well-proportioned figure so far, but transpired to be a singer that can really wail. At just 45 minutes long, including an encore of Dio's 'Rainbow In The Dark', the set was miserly, but a brand new tune called 'I Know' suggests their next album will kick ass.
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Monday 5th March
Having suffered torrential rain, Sunday transport and (inevitably) work on the railway line, I eventually got to see Rose Tattoo becoming the latest in a long line of bands to grapple with the Scala's dodgy acoustics. This fine, enduring Aussie band just don't play bad gigs, and while the venue's sound was predictably muffled last night, Angry Anderson and company more than fulfilled their side of the bargain. The new album 'Blood Brothers' might be a tad over-produced but tracks like 'Man About Town', 'Black Eyed Bruiser', '1854' and 'Once In A Lifetime' (dedicated to the late, great slide guitarist Pete Wells) stood shoulder to shoulder with a string of standards that included 'One Of The Boys', Rock 'N' Roll Outlaw', Bad Boy For Love', 'Manzil Madness', 'Nice Boys (Don't Play Rock 'N' Roll)', 'Scarred For Life', 'Astra Wally', 'We Can't Be Beaten' and many, many more.
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Sunday 4th March
My apologies to occupants of Coach E of last night's 20.15pm service from Leeds to London. The drunken goon swigging from a bottle of Baileys, wearing headphones and (presumably) singing along to Winger songs was... er... me. I'd been up in Burnley watching Palace's lame 1-1 draw at Turf Moor, a disappointing result that just about puts the play-offs out of reach for this season. Leeds station, where I changed trains, was a bloody warzone. United had lost in the last minute to local rivals Sheffield Wednesday, virtually condemning them to League One football next season, and the natives didn't like it one bit. Kept my head down, mouth shut and CPFC colours firmly covered up.
Using the dead time of the long rail journey seemed like a cunning plan. I read Run For Cover, Martin Popoff's entertaining new book on the sleeve art of Derek Riggs (Iron aiden/Budgie/Stratovarius, etc) for a Classic Rock review, and also made some notes for my scribblings about the new Saxon, Black Sabbath, Dokken and Winger CDs - does that mean I can put my ticket down as legitimate business expense? Must ask the accountant. The Winger is excellent; it's a double-set of Kip's home demos of songs from the band's first three albums. The all-but-completed state of tunes like 'Time To Surrender', 'Hungry' and 'Headed For A Heartbreak' not only reminds you of Kip's prowess as a writer, they also make you realise just how little he relied upon producers Beau Hill and Mike Shipley.
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Friday 2nd March
It's such a great feeling to stick an album into the CD player with no expectations and get blown away. Until this morning I'd never heard of Relient K, a five-piece power-pop-punk band from Ohio with apparent Christian rock leanings. And yet 'Five Score And Seven Years Ago' (available through Parlophone) is apparently their fifth album in a seven-year career.
Grandly exceuted, its soaring melodies sound a little like Something Corporate. From start to finish, the album is an absolute corker. Not bad for a band named after their guitarist's Plymouth Reliant K car... at least it wasn't a Reliant Robin.
From Him Upstairs to the Dark One In The Basement. A promo CDr of Black Sabbath's 'The Dio Years' also just dropped onto the mat. I'm pleased to say that the three newly-recorded tunes ('The Devil Cried', 'Shadow Of The Wind' and 'Ear In The Wall') are worthy additions to the band's repertoire.
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Thursday 1st March
As an addendum to yesterday's story about the Scorps and Uli Jon Roth, I understand that besides headlining the Rock & Blues Custom Show on July 28, there will be additional indoor dates in Manchester and London - also with MSG as support.