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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Thursday 31st May
Off to the Borderline for Jettblack’s album launch party. I felt a little sorry for Night By Night, who opened the show as the venue gradually filled. However, they’ve got some great songs including ‘Holding On’, ‘Final Regret’ and the video tune ‘Time To Escape’, which kicks off with a stomping riff akin to Budgie’s ‘In For The Kill’ before launching off into something that’s infinitely more harmonious. The band still remind me of a younger version of Def Leppard, which of course is no bad thing. Regrettably, in the flesh Barbe-Q-Barbies weren’t anywhere near as babealicious as their promo photographs had seemed to suggest. The Finnish all-girl combo’s brand of rock-a-boogie with a slight whiff of sleaze was equally unremarkable, barring the odd anomaly such as ‘Twisted Little Sister’.
The Borderline was packed and sweaty for Jettblack, who are spiritual descendents of such hairy melodic metal behemoths as Whitesnake, Skid Row and Dokken. Lack of confidence or false modesty will never be issues for this fine quartet from High Wycombe. Anthems such as ‘Inbetween Lovers’, ‘Temptation’ and ‘Less Torque, More Thrust’ were lifted from an album called ‘Raining Rock’ that has yet to enter the public domain but received rapturously by the crowd, and it’s a stone cold certainty that they’ll be as popular as golden oldies from last year’s underrated ‘Get Your Hands Dirty’ by the time the band hit the road again in October. Here’s the set-list: ‘Less Torque, More Thrust’, ‘Inbetween Lovers’, ‘Get Your Hands Dirty’, ‘Prison Of Love’, ‘Sunshine’, ‘Not Even Love’, ‘Instrumental’, ‘The Sweet And The Brave’, ‘Feel The Love’, ‘Two Hot Girls’, ‘Raining Rock’, Slip It On’, ‘Sleep’ and ‘Dangerzone’.
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Tuesday 29th May
Been out for a 6am run, showered, washed the bedclothes, made sandwiches, got kids off to school, breakfasted and watched an episode of Dexter... Phew! Now off to work on Classic Rock news pages.
Bah! The Crystal Palace Garden Party, due to have taken place on June 23/24, has been cancelled due to the promoter’s discovering that “weather wear” has caused the joists of its stage to become rotten. Hmmm… given the fact that discounted tickets are being sold at the Prog magazine website this sounds a bit like Mötley Crüe’s legendary ‘snow on the roof’ story to me. With Rick Wakeman, Hawkwind and more due to have appeared, and the venue a short bus ride away, that’s a show I’d definitely have attended.
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Monday 28th May
A Facebook posting from Krusher Joule reminds me that Wendy O. Williams would have been 63 years old today!! Where does the time go?? Here's a very silly photo of WOW and I during a Metal Hammer photo session / interview for the ‘Maggots: The Record’ album in London way back 1987. I agree with an email that just arrived from Dave Reynolds: What always struck me was how lovely Wendy to talk to, and totally at odds with her fearsome rock persona.
Interesting……. Despite having repeatedly voiced opposition to such proposals, Sebastian Bach has revealed that four of Skid Row’s seminal five-piece line-up are agreeable to the idea of reuniting. “Believe it or not, I am one of the four who would do it,” admits the singer. I wouldn’t mind betting that bassist Rachel Bolan, who cannot stand Seb, is the fly in the ointment. Would love to see it happen, though.
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Sunday 27th May
Had a fantastic time at Crystal Palace FC’s annual Beer Festival, which took place on three levels of the Holmesdale Road stand. Bathed in scorching hot sun and with 20 different types of ciders available, it was the perfect way to limber up for the evening’s Judas Priest gig at a sold-out Hammersmith Apollo. For the record, my favourite tipple was Wylde Wood Vintage Original (ABV 7.3%).
Kobra And The Lotus opened the show. Fronted by a cute, blonde, leather-encrusted female, the Canadians metalheads are Gene $immons’ favourite new band. Hmm… wonder why? Focussing on material from their 2nd album (self-titled, available via $Immons Records/Spinefarm in August), material such as ‘Welcome To My Funeral’ and ‘50 Shades Of Evil’ represents a vast improvement over their independent 2009 debut ‘Out Of The Pit’.
A short (50-minute) special guest slot from Saxon was brilliantly effective. Just look at the friggin’ set-list: ‘Heavy Metal Thunder’, ‘Hammer Of The Gods’, ‘The Power & The Glory’, ‘I’ve Got To Rock To Stay Alive’, ‘20,000 Feet’, ‘Crusader’, ‘747 (Strangers In The Night)’, ‘Denim And Leather’, ‘Wheels Of Steel’ and ‘Princess Of The Night’. Biff Byford might as well have lobbed down the proverbial gauntlet, yelled: “Follow that!” and flounced off into the wings.
The ecstatic audience reaction would have told you that Priest achieved their goal, yet I found their performance disappointing. Sad to say, it’s pretty unlikely that I shall go and watch them again. Instrumentally speaking the band has survived the retirement of KK Downing, and with a set that covered all 14 of the band’s Halford-fronted studio records the show ran for almost two and a half hours, but Rob Halford’s voice has seen much better days. Just like at last year’s High Voltage Festival it coped well enough at the start, and surprisingly he made decent fist of ‘Beyond The Realms Of Death’, but by the time ‘Painkiller’ came around it sounded like an out of tune transistor radio with volume cranked to the max in vain hope of compensation, concealment or both. Here’s what was played: ‘Rapid Fire’, ‘Metal Gods’, ‘Heading Out To The Highway’, ‘Judas Rising’, ‘Starbreaker’, ‘Victim Of Changes’, ‘Never Satisfied’, ‘Diamonds & Rust’, ‘Dawn Of Creation’/‘Prophecy’, ‘Night Crawler’, ‘Turbo Lover’, ‘Beyond The Realms Of Death’, ‘The Sentinel’, ‘Blood Red Skies’, ‘The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown)’, ‘Breaking The Law’, Drum Solo and ‘Painkiller’, plus encores of ‘The Hellion’/‘Electric Eye’, ‘Hell Bent For Leather’, ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ (which at 14 mins long including Halford’s singalong intro and a guitar solo from Richie Faulkner almost sent me to sleep) and ‘Living After Midnight’.
Arriving back in Catford I watched the highlights of the afternoon’s friendly between Norway and England, the first game with Roy Hodgson as manager. A 1-0 win was a satisfactory result, though the second half performance left much to be desired.
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Saturday 26th May
To converse with Gary Rossington is always a pleasure. Before heading off to Shepherd’s Bush Empire for the co-header between Glenn Hughes and Fish, I interviewed the veteran guitarist about Lynyrd Skynyrd’s forthcoming album, ‘Last Of A Dyin’ Breed’. Agreeable by nature and generous of quote, Rossington is a true Southern gentleman. I’m looking forward to seeing his band again at the Hammersmith Apollo in a little over a week’s time.
With London still simmering in a heat haze there was just enough time for a thirst quenching cider with my friends Caroline Gibbons and Danny Gwilym before Fish took to the stage to a hilarious intro tape voiced by a Lisa Simpson soundalike. Clad in a long scarf and wearing specs Mr Dick was in fine voice, bemoaning “the car park that is London” and responding gruffly to requests for ‘Grendel’, a song from the Marillion days that he will revive later this year. Some didn’t appreciate his narratives about Lockerbie or the anti-Blair rants, but they should know by now: Never heckle Fish. When some prat bellowed: “5-1” in reference to Hibs’ recent thrashing in Scottish cup final the singer simply emitted a monosyllabic glower of: “death”. As another buffoon bellowed out for ‘The Perception Of Johnny Punter’, a 12-minute epic from the Steven Wilson-produced ‘Sunsets On Empire’ that had already opened the set, Fish witheringly responded: “Already done it. You should’ve come in earlier!”
Creatively speaking Fish is in something of a purple patch, his most recent album ‘13th Star’ being his best since the aforementioned ‘Sunsets On Empire’. So I expected to have heard more than one of its selections (namely ‘Openwater’). I certainly didn’t expect him to close his set with ‘Forgotten Sons’, one of two Marillion gems to raise its head in the 80-minute display (the other being ‘Assassing’). Fish’s set-list ran as follows: ‘The Perception Of Johnny Punter’, ‘Credo’, ‘Assassing’, ‘Long Cold Day’, ‘Innocent Party’, ‘So Fellini’, ‘Openwater’, ‘Vigil’ and ‘Forgotten Sons’.
Alas, as Fish’s set drew to a close my eldest son Eddie texted about a domestic incident that dragged me back to Catford… can’t recall the last time I missed a London performance by the Voice Of Rock, but with an ambulance involved my family crisis was more important. (For the record: All is now okay again at Ling Towers).
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Friday 25th May
Last night was spent in the Crobar where the young Scottish band Estrella performed an hour-long set as part of a launch party thrown for their debut album. I’ve penned a few kind words about the Bon Jovi/Def Leppard-ish strains of ‘Come Out To Play’ for both Classic Rock and Metal Hammer but was inquisitive about their ability to recreate its songs in a live setting – especially as the keyboards plastered so liberally all over its songs were performed by none other than John Sinclair of Uriah Heep, Ozzy, The Cult fame. Sinclair produced the record with assistance from Ashley Howe, producer of Heep’s ‘Abominog’ and ‘Head First’ among many others, and it was mastered by Richard Dodd (Heep’s ‘Raging Silence’, Francis Dunnery, Joey Tempest).
Given the album’s reliance upon keys I was taken aback to find that the Aberdonians don’t employ a live ivories player. Using samples seemed like a bit of a swizz. Resplendent in a Zakk Wylde-approved pair of bell bottoms and confident enough to strut onto an empty dance floor, fall to his knees and throw exaggerated rock star shapes during ‘Do It Till We Drop’, guitarist Luke Gunn showed big potential. There were times when Estrella matched his precociousness but as a live act they must improve to match the undoubted quality of their album.
Estrella’s biggest problem? Their material lacks consistency. The band have two great songs (‘Chance Of A Lifetime’ and ‘Party’) and a hatful of good ones, including ‘Come Out And Play’, ‘One Love’, ‘Don’t Forget Me’, ‘Whatever It Is’ and ‘Mona Lisa Smile’, the latter of which displays a downright spooky resemblance to ‘Voice On My TV’, a track from Heep’s ‘Raging Silence’. Regrettably, whilst their studio counterparts sound okay ‘Do It Till We Drop’, ‘Shout’, ‘Rocker Lily’, ‘She’s Got It’, ‘Last Mohican’ and ‘I’d Give It All To You’ all fall into the category marked ‘filler’. However, time is firmly on Estrella’s side and I’d definitely like to see them again.
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Thursday 24th May
The weather remains fantastic. My working day (which included phone interviews with Robert Cray and ex-Audioslave/Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello) has just been interrupted by an enjoyable run in a sun-kissed local park with the iPod on shuffle. A bit of a 'Whoa! Cool!' moment came when I realised how well Zeppelin’s ‘Heartbreaker’ segues into Wild And Wonderful’ by The Almighty.
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Wednesday 23rd May
With London basking in glorious sunshine it made sense to imbibe a few glasses of ice cold scrumpy cider before entering the Islington Academy 2 to check out the new line-up of Gun. With bass player Dante Gizzi stepping up to claim the role of frontman after Toby Jepson’s departure, the Glaswegians have made a rather splendid new album entitled ‘Break The Silence’. Though it’s not due for release till July 9th they were sufficiently confident to go for an almost 50-50 split between new and old material. I was pleased by the inclusion of ‘Lost And Found’, which with its slightly T Rex-flavoured vibe and lyrics about “a brand new sound” is to these ears the record’s strongest tune. Of the other five newies, only ‘Caught In the Middle’ failed to fulfil its studio potential (the others being ‘14 Stations’, ‘Last Train’, ‘Butcher Man’ and ‘Break The Silence’).
Unencumbered by his bass guitar, Gizzi seemed at home with the microphone. In truth, the sound was a little muddy and his voice should really have been more prominent in the mix though I suspect he does have the wherewithal to adapt successfully to his new vocation. During a triumphant ‘Steal Your Fire’ he conducted a wild singalong of just a couple of hundred people as though his band were headlining at Murrayfield, Download or Rock In Rio. When he announced “We want you to know that we love playing these tracks as much as you love listening to them”, Gizzi’s commitment to the Gun cause was unmistakable. His introduction of ‘Money (Everybody Loves Her)’ as “the fourth single from [the] ‘Taking On The World’ [album, a 1989 release that Classic Rock once included a list of the 150 greatest debut Albums of all time]” was also a pretty potent reminder of the status once commanded by this fine, now underrated band. In case you wondered, the other oldies they included were ‘Don’t Say It’s Over’, ‘Seems Like I’m Losing You’, ‘Taking On The World’, ‘Better Days’, ‘Word Up’ and ‘Shame On You’.
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Tuesday 22nd May
Big, big news for fans of Status Quo’s classic four-man line-up. There have been many, rumours but in a new interview with Sweden’s Nostalgia R'n'R Magazine, Francis Rossi reveals next year's activities:
** The Frantic Four are going to tour (“in March, 8-10 gigs”)
** There will be a new album.
** The tour will concentrate on the “old stuff”.
** '(April) Spring, Summer And Wednesdays' and '4500 Times' will be included.
** They will open with ‘Junior’s Wailing’.
** They will *not* play ‘Rockin’ All Over The World’ (nor indeed, one assumes, The Birdie Song AKA ‘Burning Bridges’)
** They will play Lancaster's celebrated 'Backwater' (Hopefully 'Just Take Me', too).
** It's even being speculated that there will be no keyboards.
** According to Rossi, the doctors can’t find “any trace” of the MS that Lancaster was diagnosed with a few years back!
You’ve no idea how happy the above makes me. And lookee here… My ticket for Saturday’s gig by Judas Priest, Saxon and Kobra & The Lotus has arrived. The biggest problem? During the afternoon my fellow Eagles supporter Neil Pudney and I will be attending a Beer Festival at the ground of Crystal Palace FC at which some 20 different types of cider are available. By the time I get to Hammersmith I'll probably be talking Klingon.
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Monday 21st May
Since reuniting without their talismanic guitarist/singer Francis Dunnery five years ago, It Bites are still struggling to escape the shadow of ‘Calling All The Heroes’, a Top Ten hit from 1986 that keysman John Beck sagely tells the new issue of Classic Rock did for the band what ‘Hi-Ho Silver Lining’ achieved for Jeff Beck (“It put him on the charts but didn’t represent him at all”). Gradually, though, their fortunes are taking a turn for the better.
Despite a clash with Steve Hackett across town, last night’s show at the compact but ornate Bush Hall was sold out. With the stage set up as a living room, the band were in fine form, larking and joking as they performed their wonderful new opus, the conceptual ‘Map Of The Past’ in is entirety. Just like Beck, drummer Bob Dalton had braved the venue’s oppressive heat to wear the army outfit that he sports on the record’s sleeve. “How’s that working out for you Bob?” quipped frontman John Mitchell. “Now I know how Captain Wainwaring [of Dad’s Army] felt,” grinned the percussionist, causing Mitchell to wonder aloud: “Did Captain Wainwaring ever play the drums in a prog-rock band? Oh hang on, this is England… he probably did!”
Let’s be honest: Performing the whole of ‘MOTP’ was a hefty risk, especially as it’s far less immediate than its 2008 predecessor ‘The Tall Ships’. Lasting for an hour – two-thirds of the performance – the new album’s ten conceptually linked songs were delivered in sequence, before the band played three tunes from ‘The Tall Ships’, ending things – finally – with a Dunnery era song (‘Kiss Like Judas’). That there are no grumbles whatsoever reflected the goodwill commanded by both group and the record concerned. Me? I reckon the gamble paid off. Catch the latest leg of this remarkable reinvention when It Bites headline a night of the Celebr8 Festival in July or, according to Mitchell, during another tour in November. Meanwhile, here’s the set-list: ‘Man In The Photograph’, ‘Wallflower’, ‘Map Of The Past’, ‘Clocks’, ‘Flag’, ‘The Big Machine’, ‘Cartoon Graveyard’, ‘Send No Flowers’, ‘Meadow And The Stream’, ‘The Last Escape’ and ‘Exit Song’, followed by encores of ‘Ghosts’, ‘Oh My God’, ‘The Wind That Shakes The Barley’ and ‘Kiss Like Judas’.
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Sunday 20th May
Never, ever mix wine, cider, vodka and bourbon during a single sitting... Despite a truly horrendous hangover, I’ve just completed my Download Festival programme copy. I shall celebrate this fact with a quick run, before braving rail replacement services and a pilgrimage to Shepherd’s Bush for a show by the mighty It Bites in the company of pals Mark taylor and Sara Harding.
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Friday 18th May
It’s 10pm and I type whilst closing down my office at the conclusion of one of my busiest weeks in many a year. I was at my desk by 6am each day, remaining there till 9pm or 10pm. Am looking forward to a nice, relaxing weekend. Oh no, hold on a minute… there are still some Download Festival programme notes to complete and a big pile of CDs to review. D’oh!
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Thursday 17th May
What incredible timing. Yesterday, on the second anniversary of Ronnie James Dio’s death, Bill Ward announced that he will not be playing with Black Sabbath this summer. The group’s “representative”, whomever that might be (!), apparently told him: “Come to the UK, play for free and see how the first show [a warm-up date in Birmingham] goes.” More insulting still, Ward was also informed that he could be onstage for a part of the Download Festival set – three songs – but not all of it. I don’t blame him for walking away with dignity... which is more than can be said for everyone else involved.
My evening was spent at the Islington Academy. I’ve been a fan of Delain, the Dutch symphonic metalheads, since seeing them open for Sonata Artica on the same stage three years ago. My review in Metal Hammer ended with the words: “These guys won’t be a support act for much longer”. Now touring their third album, ‘We Are The Others’, they are making very good progress indeed.
Trillium, featuring the well respected singing tutor Amanda Somerville, were the opening act. Somerville once stood in for Simone Simons when the latter was too ill to partake in a North American tour with Epica. Siren-like, sporting exorbitant blonde tresses and with a friendly stage presence, the Michigan native proceeded to deliver a vocal masterclass, serving up the highlights of Trillium’s ‘Alloy’ album (‘Mistaken’, ‘Bow To The Ego’) with ‘Set Afire’, a tune from her collaboration with ex-Helloween/current Unisonic frontman Michael Kiske. An appreciative response from the huge crowd suggested that many attendees will be going away to Google the name of Trillium.
In attempting to follow Somerville’s top drawer display, Charlotte Wessels might well have made a noose for her own neck. Charlotte is an extremely capable but far younger singer. Much respect, then, for failing to be intimidated by her illustrious special guest. Experience has made Wessels a far superior communicator and the 25-year-old, who has looked slightly ill at ease in the past, now controls proceedings with consummate ease. As the band wound up the 90-minute show with an encore that united two of their finest tunes, ‘Control The Storm’ and ‘The Gathering’, their future now looks extremely bright. The set-list ran as follows: ‘Mother Machine’, ‘Stay Forever’, ‘We Are The Others’, ‘Go Away’, ‘Sever’, ‘Virtue And Vice’, ‘Generation Me’, ‘Invidia’, ‘April Rain’, ‘See Me In Shadow’, ‘Are You Done With Me’, ‘Get The Devil Out Of Me’, ‘Shattered’, ‘Babylon’, ‘Sleepwalkers Dream’, ‘Electricity’, ‘Not Enough’, ‘Control The Storm’ and ‘The Gathering’.
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Wednesday 16th May
It’s amazing to think that 14 months have sped by since my last sighting of Erja Lyytinen. In terms of physical stature the Finn is tiny and petite, looking dazzling in her pink and sparkly rah-rah skirt. And my… what a player. Her slide solos are complemented brilliantly by the accomplished guitar work of Davide Floreno, who gets his own moment to shine during a lengthy – at 15 minutes in duration, some might say excessively long – rendition of ‘Not A Good Girl’ that brought the first of two sets to a close. The evening revealed two brand new tunes; ‘At Least We Still Fight’ was Lyttinen at her poppiest, while the guitars of Erja and Davide integrated marvellously during the airy, free-flowing ‘Change Of Season’, which actually hinted at an Allman Bros-style melody when it reached full flow. During ‘Skinny Girl’ Lyytinen headed out into the crowd, who cheered as she supped a drink at the bar before inviting ex-Savoy Brown man John O’Leary to join in on harmonica. A great night came to a close with an impressive encore version of Blind Willie Johnson’s ‘The Soul Of A Man’. Should you wish me to be ultra critical then Lyytinen’s accent can at times be a little strong, but when placed in the context of such exquisite musicianship that’s probably a little harsh. For those that have yet to hear her, try picking up a copy of the newly released live CD/DV package, ‘Songs From The Road’. Meanwhile, here’s the set-list: ‘The Road Leading Home’, ‘Voracious Love’, ‘Don’t Let A Good Woman Down’, ‘It Hurts Me Too’, ‘Everything’s Fine’, ‘Grip Of The Blues’, ‘At Least We Still Fight’, ‘Not A Good Girl’, ‘Things About Coming My Way’, ‘Change Of Season’, ‘Crossroads’, ‘Skinny Girl’, ‘Oil & Water’ and ‘Soul Of A Man’.
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Tuesday 15th May
Unable to get back to sleep after Bob The Dog awoke me by barking loudly at a fox at the unearthly hour 4.45am, work has begun slightly earlier than usual – just as well as there are various interview tapes to transcribe and CDs to review. Phone chat appointments with Dave Brock of Hawkwind and Bonnie Raitt are also booked in for later this afternoon.
In the evening, on that grounds that I had front row tickets for his previous show which took place at the exact same venue in October, I’m opting to give Steven Wilson at Shepherd’s Bush Empire a miss. After experiencing the last one in such close proximity, there’s little likelihood of improvement. So instead it’s off to the Beaverwood Club in Chislehurst for a few vodka and Diet Cokes with my boozing buddy Andrew Beare and another look at the self-styled Queen Of The Slide Guitar, the Finnish pocket rocket Ms Erja Lyytinen.
Still on the subject of SW, however, for the last few days I’ve been aurally seduced by the self-titled debut album from Storm Corrosion, a sombre new project from the Porcupine Tree mainman and Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt. Common wisdom suggests that Storm Corrosion represent the final part of a trilogy begun by Opeth’s ‘Heritage’ and SW's own ‘Grace For Drowning’ and it’s hard to argue with that. There are almost no drums... it’s atmospheric film soundtrack music, with a creepy, compelling edge – every bit as bewitchingly, darkly wonderful as I’d hoped.
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Monday 14th May
For the past week or so I’ve been using my rare moments of ‘down-time’ to dip in and out of a great little compendium of music articles entitled The Mammoth Book Of Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘N’ Roll (Constable & Robinson Books). Though under normal circumstances I’d have zilch interest in reading about Elvis Presley, Little Richard or Marvin Gaye, its chosen selections are so well written as to be almost fascinating. A Paul Di’Anno-era chapter called ‘Eddie, The Maiden And The Rue Morgue’, first printed in the Melody Maker in 1981, made me feel quite nostalgic, as did Steve Sutherland’s grilling of David Coverdale circa the ‘Saints & Sinners’ album in late ’82. Meanwhile, the chapter by Chas Hodges was so refreshingly honest and carefree that I shall seek out a copy of the autobiography from whence it came, namely Chas & Dave: All About Us.
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Saturday 12th May
Happy 15th birthday to my sports bud, Eddie Lemmy Selhurst Ling. No, I shall not be at Michael Schenker’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire gig this evening, nor the CPFC Player Of The Year bash: Instead it’s a takeaway and as much rose wine as I can consume to numb the pain of the Britain’s Got Talent final.
Last night was spent in a rather posh marquee on the fabled Selhurst Park pitch for the end of season Fans Forum, which featured manager Dougie Freedman, assistant boss Lennie Lawrence, academy linchpin Gary Issott (a gentleman who has performed miracles turning youngsters into professionals) and members of the CPFC 2010 owners consortium. It was intriguing to learn about plans of redeveloping the ground (the relocation to Crystal Palace park is a non-starter, it seems), the club’s game-plan to get back into the Premiership and all-important details of its financial state (£4.5m lost during the last year… phew!), also the leakage of info on some summer transfer targets (a South Korean striker? Wow!). Just like his on-pitch formations (especially towards the end of the last season) Freedman was way too cautious and dour, but I was impressed by the way Steve Parish and Lennie Lawrence handled tough questions and gave useful, believable, intelligent and entertaining answers. During a discussion about strikers forming partnerships I was astonished to hear Freedman say of Clinton Morrison: “I didnae like the guy as a person, I wouldn’t take a drink with him and we didn’t exchange Christmas cards, but on the pitch we played well together”. Most indiscreet considering how guarded he was throughout. One thing was for sure: I returned home in the knowledge that my precious football club is in secure, caring hands.
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Friday 11th May
Very cool – just spoke to Machine Head’s Robb Flynn for the Download Festival programme. It’s always a pleasure to catch up with Mr Flynn, who I’ve been interviewing since the long, distant (though extremely memorable) days of the classic ‘Burn My Eyes’ album in ’94.
Much less cool – my chat with Bonnie Raitt was postponed. The singer/slide guitarist, whose new album ‘Slipstream’ is terrific, has been suffering from a cold for the last few days and with shows over the coming weekend her doctor has advised her to pull all of her interviews. Bah!
I’m taking small yet significant condolence from the receipt of a new concert release album from Yes. Issued by Eagle Records on the 28th of this month, ‘Symphonic Live’ is a single-disc document of the band’s wonderful, orchestrally-enhanced ‘Masterpieces’ tour back in the summer of 2001. I was lucky enough to have travelled with the group and seen this show twice in the US – outdoors at the Wolf Trap Farm Park in Virginia and 24 hours later at Connecticut’s Uncas Pavilion – so although the CD is hideously truncated (the show lasted for two hours and 40 minutes), hearing it is definitely bringing back some great memories.
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Thursday 10th May
I’m doing some research before tomorrow’s interview with Bonnie Raitt. Of course, everyone knows that ‘list’-based stories are complete crap, designed purely to provoke debate, but Rolling Stone magazine’s current chart of the 100 Best Guitarists Of All Time takes the biscuit. I simply cannot believe they have placed K**t C**ain at #73, from where he towers above the likes of Rush’s Alex Lifeson, Mike Campbell from Tom Petty’s Band, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, Dimebag Darrell (RIP), The Byrds' Roger McGuinn and Bonnie herself. Raitt, who was had played exemplary slide licks for decades when Cobain was still trying to fathom out how to open the case, is placed a lowly 89th – some 16 spots beneath Nirvana’s late ‘axe hero’. Bizarrely, Rolling Stone also seem to believe that rhythm guitarist James Hetfield is a superior player to Metallica’s lead player Kirk Hammett. The results were apparently “assembled a panel of top guitarists and other [music] experts”, but the fact that RS could print such drivel is, to me, absolutely shameful. Check out the result for yourself.
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Wednesday 9th May
In between transcribing my interviews with Michael Sadler and Jim Crichton of Saga, the forthcoming Gun album, ‘Break The Silence’ (produced by Dave Eringa of the Manics fame and due for release via Ear Music on July 9), has established itself as a new favourite on my office Death Deck. With hand on heart I had minimal expectations after the departure of Toby Jepson but... wow. It contains some bloody great songs! One after another… The group’s bass player Dante Gizzi as a ‘proper’ lead singer... who knew??! Only a buffoon would miss their Download Festival warm-up show at the Islington Academy on May 22.
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Tuesday 8th May
How exciting: I’m going to be involved with the second issue of Classic Rock Presents Blues. Just received a commission to interview Bonnie Raitt about her new album, ‘Slipstream’, later this week. Many of Bonnie’s records lurk within my racks of vinyl and she has a fascinating tale… can’t wait till our chat.
What an appalling shame to see Ca***ff City miss out in the play-offs **yet again**. Hahahaha. Commiserations on that 5-0 aggregate defeat to Wet Sham, Bluebirds. I’m sure you’ll bounce back next year. Hang on, didn’t we say that 12 months ago, and the season before…?!
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Monday 7th May
Bank Holiday? What bank holiday??! My weekend was so darned busy that all hope of attending the Orpington Record Fair, mowing the lawns and/or watching any of the televised football was quietly but emphatically canned. I transcribed a great interview with John Wetton about the new Asia album, ‘XXX’ (which, incidentally, is the best thing the band has done since its reunion), tidied up some Pat Benatar sleeve notes that the singer’s management wanted me to re-work, awarded 9/10 to the new Rush album for Metal Hammer and made a good start on my text for the Download Festival programme. Now that’s productivity!
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Saturday 5th May
Here’s a real conversation that just took place in the living room of Ling Towers…
At 8.30am... Eddie Ling: “Hey Dad, as there’s no proper football this weekend, why don’t we watch the DVD of Crystal Palace becoming the first team to beat Br***ton at their new stadium?”
At 8.30am, and two seconds....Dave Ling: “Yessssssssssssssssss!”
Together (singing very loudly at the TV, as Glenn Murray’s goal ripples the back of the Shiteon net, at 10.05am): “WE CAN SEE YOU SNEAKING OUT!!!” My, that brought back great, if slightly blurred, memories.
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Friday 4th May
Oh Lordy, I’ve only gone and done it again – another sleep-free night after way too many beverages at the Crobar. Then again, Your Honour, in a plea of mitigation my offence did happen whilst watching the Quireboys… it had to be done, right?
During the afternoon I attended the first of three media playbacks for Rush’s hotly anticipated new album. And you know what? ‘Clockwork Angels’ might just be the Canadian band’s best and hardest-rocking record since the celebrated ‘Moving Pictures’, performed in its entirety on their last tour but recorded as long ago as 1981. I particularly liked a song called ‘The Anarchist’ which begins with the type of brutal guitar motif not heard since ‘Working Man’ back in the mid-’70s. ‘Clockwork…’ is not consistently heavy, mind, though to these ears it’s their most consistent set of choons in aeons.
Annoyingly, with Anathema, Manfred Mann’s Earth and Train all in town, FOUR major rock gigs were competing for attention on the same night. Due in no small part to the fact that they were being supported by The Pat McManus Band, the Quireboys threatened the most fun. Joined from time to time by Keith Weir of the headliners on keys, the former Mama’s Boys guitarist was on fine form. Sure, he’s not the greatest singer in the world but his voice has character and onstage its flaws are less important. I almost had to wipe away a nostalgic tear when his brother John jumped up to sing ‘Runaway Dreams’ (complete with fiddle section) and ‘Needle In The Groove’. Also included were two rather fine tributes to Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore called ‘Return Of The G Man’ and ‘Belfast Boy’. Wouldn’t it be nice if somebody wrote a song about Pat McManus someday?
And so the Quireboys took the stage. Spike was rat-arsed, no two ways about it, but my… they put on a great show. Maybe the best I’ve ever seen from the band. In a great display of reciprocal camaraderie Pat McManus joined them from time to time, whipping up a storm on the fiddle, as one barroom standard followed another, and one pint of cider was washed down by its even sweeter-tasting successor. A fabulous evening that turned into a very bleary-eyed morning.

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Thursday 3rd May
An extremely busy day of writing obituaries and editing stories of the Classic Rock news pages – the former task certainly makes you feel like an ambulance chaser, but of course it has to be done. There seems to be so many more fatalities than usual; this is the second issue in three months which has filled an entire page of mini-obits – 11 in total.
I also found the time to grill Joe Elliott about the collapse of the Rock ‘N’ Roll All Stars tour, plus two dudes from the prog-rock/metal band Headspace – singer Damien Wilson and bassist Lee Pomeroy. The latter chat was very amusing as besides being a member of It Bites, Pomeroy also performs live with Take That. He told a great story about the time he spontaneously wove a segment of ‘Close To The Edge’ by Yes into TB’s ‘Love Ain’t Here Anymore’, and how it remained there for a whole tour! “Absolutely nobody realised but the guys in the band,” he guffawed, “it was one of my proudest moments!”
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Wednesday 2nd May
On heavy rotation here at Ling Towers as I edit the news pages of Classic Rock #172 are Hawkwind’s ‘Onward’, the debut from Royal Southern Brotherhood (featuring the hugely underrated Devon Allman) and Trixter’s excellent ‘New Audio Machine’. In advance of an upcoming phone interview, I’ve also been getting to know ‘I Am Anonymous’, the full-length debut album from UK proggers Headspace. It contains some really strong tunes and Damian Wilson is one heck of a vocalist. Check out the samples here.
Like many, I’m slightly perplexed by the appointment of Roy Hodgson as new manager of the English football team. Hodgson is well liked and respected within the game, and unlike Harry Rednapp he has run things before at international level as well as winning European honours. However, the wheels fell off in no uncertain fashion during his time as Liverpool boss. Despite all of this, I hope with all my heart that Roy (not ‘Woy’, you nasty scumbags at The Sun!) is able to prove himself the man for the job.
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Tuesday 1st May
Jeeeeeez. It’s still peeing with rain and there’s nothing much of note to report, but look out for the monthly updates at the Playlist and YouTube pages.