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 30th September
Yesterday evening’s workload of three phone interviews left me so drained that I took a shower and ended up dozing off in front of the telly. It was good to converse and sometimes share a laugh with Marcie Michelle Free, who among other things revealed that Unruly Child will be touring their excellent new album, ‘Worlds Collide’. Directly afterwards I nattered with Billy Morrison, who gave me the lowdown on his tribute show in honour of the late Bow Wow Wow guitarist Matthew Ashman which takes place at the Scala on November 21. And finally, there was just enough time to make a cup of tea before placing a call to Annihilator guitarist Jeff Waters, who also turned out to be a top bloke – very honest and self deprecating, not to mention talkative. There was almost no need to have put together a set of questions for the Canadian; Ted Nugent-style, he touched upon just about everything I planned to ask him during the answer to the very first query. That’s the kind of interview I like… no stress!
What an amazing coincidence. On the exact same day that I spent spinning the expanded, double-disc of their legendary self-titled debut from 1980, Angel Witch have been joined by former Napalm Death guitarist Bill Steer (currently a member of both Firebird and Carcass), making them a four-piece band once again. I’m both amazed and extremely chuffed. Can’t wait to see them again at the Live Evil Festival on October 23.
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Wednesday 29th September
Given that before last night’s game, Crystal Palace held the worst away record in all four English leagues – no goals and no points from four games – and were on the end of a 5-0 stuffing by Derby last weekend, returning to London with a point after a scoreless draw with second placed Cardiff is a pretty fantastic result, even if the home side were without star player Bellamy and the vile Michael Ch*pra. Trouncebackability, indeed!
For the past few days I’ve been transcribing interviews with Ian J Stewart and Terry Brock of Strangeways, mostly for a story in Classic Rock Presents: AOR (which hits the stands on November 17), though the historical over-matter, of which there is plenty, will be used for my liner notes for the upcoming Rock Candy Records re-issue of the band’s first three albums. Mr Brock is extremely happy that ‘Strangeways’, ‘Native Sons’ and ‘Walk In The Fire’ are to be overhauled in this reverential manner. “You [writing the notes] and Del-Boy [Derek Oliver, overseeing the re-mastering and re-issue process], are the two ideal guys to do this,” he remarked during my interview. “You were the ones that ‘got it’ back then and know the band’s real story.” How flattering!
So the news is out… following in the illustrious footsteps of Iggy Pop, Ozzy Osbourne, Jimmy Page, Alice Cooper and Lemmy Kilmister, Rush are to be honoured as Living Legends at this year’s Classic Rock Awards – the first time the magazine has acknowledged a band in this way. I love bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee’s quote: “We are thrilled to receive the Living Legend award. It’s much better than the alternative!” Roll on November 10.
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Monday 27th September
As the moment during ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ drew near, I began wondering whether he would actually say it. It had been 32 years since David Lee Roth so famously told Lewisham “You’re the rock ‘n’ roll capital of the world” as Van Halen supported Black Sabbath just down the road at the now demolished Odeon. This South London borough was long overdue another musical anointment, surely? And then it came… “SCREEEEEAMMMM FOR ME LEWWWWWWWIISSSSSSSSHAM!” Yes!!!! Regrettably, however, I wasn’t standing amid a packed crowd at some secret Iron Maiden gig, and the immortal line in question was roared not by Bruce Dickinson but a fella called Paul Dennis. An offensively young and rather good band called Thunderwolf were opening for the reunited 80s rockers Rogue Male at a pub called the Dirty South, located a mere 15 minute walk away from Ling Towers. The lads’ own songs sounded pretty good, too.
I felt slightly sorry for Rogue Male who had taken the gig at short notice. Consequently, the venue was pretty empty and with four bands to accommodate the event ran disastrously late. Advisedly, they decided against headlining as billed, slashing songs like ‘Unemployment’, ‘Never’ and ‘Forever Wild’ from their set and allowing special guests Inner Fire to close the show instead.
Save for the clump of four sets of biker boots, complete silence reigned as they strode towards the stage. This could have had ‘calamity’ written all over it, but my God, how I was shaken by the band’s post-apocalyptic biker-rock. Now shaven-headed, frontman/rhythm guitarist Jim Lyttle is the type of guy you’d be unlikely to look twice at in a bar, but once he steps into his onstage persona, singing of shooting his load all over the place… wow. He’s electrifying. Likewise, Johnny Fraser Binnie (also a member of the excellent Dirty Tricks) looks like a rock star and remains a major guitar talent… no, make that a **MAJOR** guitar talent. Their sound is a hybrid of so many great acts; Thin Lizzy, AC/DC, The Who, Motörhead, even classic-era W.A.S.P. (‘Take No Shit’ reminded me somewhat of Blackie and company’s ‘Animal, Fuck Like A Beast’). Alas, there was only time for seven songs – ‘Cold Blooded Man’, ‘Street Credibility’, ‘Take No Shit’, ‘All Over You’, ‘Dressed Incognito’, ‘Crazy Motorcycle’ and ‘Liar – but if Rogue Male can do what they threaten and actually get out there on the road, they’ve the wherewithal to surprise a lot of people.
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Monday 27th September
Autumn is well and truly here, the weather’s on the turn. Bumped into Paul Di’Anno outside last night’s Chariot gig at the Monarch. Propped up on some kind of walking stick, the former Iron Maiden singer was back in his homeland got a few days. “Fucking ’ell,” he chirruped, “ it’s too ’ot in there and freezin’ cold out ’ere.” Luckily, I had been standing in the warmth of a pub for the previous couple of hours, sinking a few cold ones with another pair of Chariot regulars, ‘Horizons’ Dave and Chris. It was scary to work out that between the three of us, we’ve seen the band onstage somewhere between 150 and 200 times!
Though the Londoners consistently deliver and Pete Franklin is one of the funniest and most engaging frontmen around, Lady Luck never saw fit to bestow too many favours. So I’m proud of the band for playing music because they still enjoy doing so, and not for commercial or egotistical reasons. “This one is from a new album; I’ve no fucking idea when or how we’ll get it released or what’s called,” said Franklin introducing ‘Live The Dream’, one of several tasty new ditties that were aired amid the old favourites. I laughed as Pete announced another new track, ‘Make Believe’, by stating: “Did anyone just see Di’Anno sneak outside for a fag? You’ve gotta watch him. God knows what he’s smuggled through customs in that cane of his…” Brilliant stuff. Here’s the set-list: ‘When The Moon Shines’, ‘Behind The Wire’, ‘Cold Hard Cash’, ‘To The Extreme’, Guitar Solo, ‘Horizons’, ‘Live The Dream’, ‘Make Believe’, ‘Creature’, ‘Run With The Pack’ and ‘Warriors’.
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Sunday 26th September
I was livid at Palace’s humiliating 5-0 defeat to Derby County. Not only was the score line embarrassing but the petulant sending off of Everton loanee James Vaughan means the Eagles will be without a striker of note for the next three games – Cardiff (away), QP-Hahaha (home) and Scumwall (home). Ulp! I had to go out and get blitzed. Luckily, there was a gig at the Borderline and a combination of cider, wine, vodka and some Jägermiester took the edge off the situation… albeit temporarily.
I couldn’t believe how far The Treatment have come in such a short space of time. The latest protégés of More/Airrace guitarist Laurie Mansworth, whose management and production guidance helped to take Hurricane Party/Roadstar so far, are already signed to Classic Rock’s Powerage Records imprint, with a debut album recorded at Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris’ Barnyard Studios and ready to go. The Cambridge-based quintet certainly impressed Zodiac’s guitarist Cobalt Stargazer, who told me: “At soundcheck we couldn’t believe how young they were, and how fucking good. None of us care much about the bands we play with – Z [Mr Mindwarp] wouldn’t even watch Guns N’ Roses [back in the day] – but I’m gonna break my rule; hang around and check them out before we go on.” In the highly capable and sickeningly youthful Matt Jones, Mansworth may just have unearthed another rough diamond singer in the vein of Richie Hevanz. Tunes like ‘Shake The Mountain’, ‘I Want Love’, ‘Nothing To Lose But Our Minds’ and the piledriving ‘Stone Cold Love’ suggest that their potential is huge.
Though I witnessed Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction several times at their commercial peak, including a headline gig at the Hammersmith Odeon, eight years had elapsed since my last sighting. Little has changed, Mindwarp (AKA Mark Manning) still talks to us with a pseudo Yank lilt and much of the 70-minute set list – which included songs vintage (‘High Priest Of Love’, ‘Backseat Education’, ‘Fucked By Rock’, ‘Rock Savage’, ‘Driving On Holy Gasoline’ and ‘Prime Mover’) and brand new (‘Die Pretty’, ‘Don’t Touch My Guitar’, ‘Lucille’, ‘White Trash’ are all from the just-issued ‘We Are Volsung’) was interchangeable, but believe me, when your team has just lost 5-0 and you’re out to get wrecked, Zody’s brand of sleazy, unashamedly plagiaristic escapism works just fine.

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Saturday 25th September
In an ideal world by now I’d be en route to Pride Park for Palace’s game against Derby Country, especially as Edgar Davids seems set to return to the team following the death of his father. Buy my eldest lad Eddie has requested I witness him collecting various medals and trophies as his tenpin bowling league comes to an end and it seems churlish to deny him. 12 months ago he finished fourth; this time he’s one place better, so if the improvement continues…?
It’s impossible to believe that John Bonham, one of the all-time great rock drummers, died exactly 30 years ago today, at the age of 32. I was too young to have seen him perform onstage, but although Bonzo is gone, he will never be forgotten.
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Friday 24th September
The post-Unruly Child meltdown continues. Just as I was learning to live with the fact that FM’s ‘Metropolis’ has a serious rival in the Melodic Album Of The Year stakes, Frontiers Records have emailed a watermarked promo link to ‘Lightning Strikes Twice’, the long-awaited newie from Nelson which goes on sale in time for the Firefest on November 8. Just as Gunnar Nelson predicted when we spoke a few weeks back, it’s an absolute gem of a sequel to ‘After The Rain’. Besides the intoxicating vocal harmonies and summery hooks, there are echoes of vintage Boston (especially during the tracks ‘Day By Day’ and ‘When You’re Gone’), even a guest guitar solo from Steve Lukather on ‘To Get Back To You’. The Timotei Twins are back… because we’re worth it!
Oh look, the eleventh issue of Classic Rock Presents: Prog has arrived. A cover story on Yes for which I spoke to Messrs Kaye and Sherwood informs us that a track on the band’s next album may be produced by none other than Trevor Horn – a mouth-watering prospect. They’ve also given over four pages to my interview with Camel’s Andrew Latimer, which is illustrated by the famous 1975 shot of the band taken outside the Royal Albert Hall – über-fan Mikael Åkerfeldt is going to pee his pants!

Thursday 23rd September
Shocking news from Classic Rock Towers, where midnight oil is being burned as #151 (on sale October 13) reaches completion. Last night, just as I prepared to close my office and return to the house, there was an email from Editor In Chief Scott Rowley. I had to rub my eyes and ensure I wasn’t hallucinating. It read: “On the strength of your album review [of the forthcoming ‘Worlds Collide’], we’re listening to Unruly Child here in the office – and everyone likes it. Really. Even Ian [Fortnam, reviews ed]. Well, he said, ‘I can see why people aren’t made sick by it...’” Messrs Gowdy, Allison, Schellen and Antonio and Marcie Michelle Free, you will receive few more glowing (or unexpected) honours.
[Edit: CR’s Managing Editor Alex Burrows requests a disclaimer that “the whole office” doesn’t include him. “Unruly Child are on the stereo again now. To me, it sounds like the music over the end credits of a particularly bad John Hughes movie from the 80s,” he says.]
[Edit 2: Knowing Alex’s dubious taste in music, Unruly Child should be more chuffed than ever before].
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Wednesday 22nd September
Last night was the launch party for Joe Elliott’s new Down ‘N’ Outz beer, which took place at the Porterhouse in London’s Covent Garden. Those availing themselves of the strong, brown liquid (ABV 5%) included Luke Morley and Peter Shoulder of The Union, three members of the revamped Heavy Metal Kids line-up – namely, vocalist John Altman (AKA Nasty Nick from EastEnders) and guitarists Cosmo and Justin McConville – former Bad Company guitarist Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell and Ian Hunter’s daughter Tracie. Though I didn’t see him, and he’s teetotal, Phil Collen of Def Leppard was also somewhere in the scrum. Given the extraordinary hugeness of Joe Elliott’s wallet, plus the fact that it was a launch party for Down ‘N’ Outz beer, I was surprised that the bottles were not gratis to wristband holders. Then again, the singer’s band of the same name did take to the stage for an hour-long set as part of the festivities. I find it pretty hard to believe that I’ve now seen the Down ‘N’ Outz five times… that might just be every gig they’ve ever played! Not bad for a group formed, supposedly, for a one-off appearance supporting Mott The Hoople. In fact, according to guitarist Guy Griffin, three tracks for a second album are already in semi-recorded state.
Amusingly, Elliott feigned annoyance that Paul Guerin was drinking wine onstage (“What the fuck is going on? This is a beer launch; we have a traitor in our ranks!”) until realising that the Geordie guitarist was drinking beer **and** wine – it was that type of a night. Here’s the set-list: ‘Rock And Roll Queen’, ‘One More Chance To Run’, ‘Golden Opportunity’, ‘Storm’, ‘Overnight Angels’, ‘Whizz Kid’, ‘Shouting And Pointing’, ‘Who Do You Love?’, ‘England Rocks’, ‘One Of The Boys’, ‘Drive On’ and ‘Good Times’.
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Tuesday 21st September
Last night I was among 100-odd industry folk and competition winners crammed into John Henry’s Rehearsal Studio in North London for the debut gig from Black Country Communion. Broadcast on Planet Rock Radio shortly afterwards, it was a terrific experience. The quartet of Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa, Derek Sherinian and Jason Bonham ran through eight songs from their first album, which is poised to crash into the UK chart sometime later today. Firmly eschewing the showboating that he has sometimes been guilty of succumbing to and merely singing the songs instead, Hughes was on excellent vocal form, with Bonamassa taking the mic for ‘Song Of Yesterday’. My friend Kev McDempster and I were so close to the stage that I could hear Bonham laughing aloud and see him blow a kiss towards his father in Heaven when, following a sensational rendition of the title cut from Trapeze’s 1970 album ‘Medusa’, Hughes announced: “I used to play that song a lot with Trapeze and John would often just [get up onstage] and take the sticks from [Trapeze drummer] Dave Holland – completely take over. As he did. So it’s a great privilege to play the song again with Jason 39 years later.”

Black Country Communion

Afterwards (and indeed beforehand) there were a few drinks and we were able to chat to the musicians as they mingled. I’ve known Hughes for many, many years, though not since the Deep Purple days (I’m way too young for that – LOL!) but I don’t think I’ve seen him this pumped up about anything he’s done till now. I couldn’t believe how deaf Bonamassa is – he kept telling everyone: “You’ll have to speak up”. I don’t think the guitarist is used to playing in a noisy, full-pelt rock band, which is exactly what Black Country Communion are. My fingers are firmly crossed that that the foursome will be able to play a tour of some sort before too long, schedules permitting. Meanwhile, here’s the set-list: ‘Black Country’, ‘One Last Soul’, ‘Beggarman’, ‘Song Of Yesterday’, ‘Stand (At the Burning Tree)’, ‘The Great Divide’, ‘Medusa’ and ‘Sista Jane’. [Photo courtesy of Christie Goodwin].
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Sunday 19th September
Once again Palace had to thank the heroics of Julian Speroni for preserving a point in yesterday’s game against Burnley. The Eagles were under the cosh during the second half but the big Argentinian ’keeper pulled off some sensational stops to deny a team that last year played in the Premier League, and Burley’s men had their own chances to have won the game on the break. 0-0 draws are often boring. This one was not.
After the final whistle, the crowd greeting news of Scumwall’s 6-1 thrashing at home to Twatford with the day’s loudest cheer, I headed off to meet my pals Neil Jeffries and Neil Pudney at Robin Trower’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire gig. Support duties were performed with some style by up ‘n’ coming UK blues guitarist Aynsley Lister, but it was Trower’s all-too-brief 85-minute headline set that **really** held the attention. With former Gamma man Davey Pattison at his elbow delivering sublime vocals, even at 65-year-old the Catford native remains one of the most gifted entertainers around. On the 40th anniversary of Hendrix’s death, I felt privileged to share my evening such a legendary musician. When he played ‘Day Of The Eagle’ (most apt given my afternoon spent at Selhurst!) and ‘Bridge Of Sighs’ back to back, I swear I almost died with pleasure. The set-list ran as follows: ‘Confessin’ Midnight’, ‘Lady Love’, ‘Somebody Calling’, ‘Find Me’, ‘Twice Removed From Yesterday’, ‘Extermination Blues’, ‘Day Of The Eagle’, ‘Bridge Of Sighs’, ‘Shame The Devil’, ‘The Turning’, ‘Too Rolling Stoned’ and ‘Little Bit Of Sympathy’, with encores of ‘Rise Up Like The Sun’ and ‘Not Inside – Outside’.
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Saturday 18th September
I’m more than a little hung over following last night’s London show from the band Saint Jude. Fronted by the excellent Lynne Jackaman, whose emotive voice deserves the comparisons to Janis Joplin, the band first caught my attention back in April whilst opening for The Union. Since then I’ve got to know and indeed love a rather superb, Chris Kimsey (Rolling Stones/Marillion)-produced debut album, ‘Diary Of A Soul Fiend’. Full of fire and passion their live show does not disappoint – think Janis fronting the Black Crowes – and the band fully deserves the buzz that is starting to build.
By the way, for all those that emailed expressing amusement at the drunken antics of my buddy Andy Beare following our night out at the recent Touchstone gig (see Diary September 4th), the silly old sod has been at it again. “After we parted ways last night I somehow ended up in Swanley [Kent] with a 90-minute walk back along the hard shoulder of the A20 – it’s a miracle I wasn’t killed,” says his text. It’s official: Going out for a drink with yours truly can be very dangerous.
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Friday 16th September
I’m disappointed to learn that injuries have caused Andrew Flintoff, one of the game’s all time greatest entertainers and brightest talents, to retire from professional cricket at the age of 32. Few of us will ever forget Freddie’s performances with the ball and the bat as England won back the Ashes in the 2005 series. Mrs L and I were in the crowd on the final day at the Oval, which remains one of my most cherished sporting memories.
With Mrs L enjoying a night out, I sat down to watch a few things that had been recorded on the Sky+ box. I thoroughly enjoyed Oil City Confidential, Julien Temple’s film about Dr Feelgood. Wilko Johnson – what a fascinating character! But I guess you wouldn’t really want to have been in a band with him. I must say I thought it odd that Temple overlooked the fact that a version of Dr Feelgood plays on with no original members. Think I’ll spin a few of the band’s LPs today.
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Thursday 16th September
Ouch, my wrist feels really sore. Both of them, in fact. No… don’t go getting grubby thoughts; it’s all innocent. Last nite was spent enjoying an intimate solo gig from Quo’s Francis Rossi. There was mucho air guitar playing (hence one sore wrist – the left one used for furious bouts of downward strumming) and way more elevating and lowering of the drinking arm than I’d intended (which explains its counterpart!). My imbibing partner for the evening was fellow footie/music nut and Classic Rock contributor Neil Jeffries, who is always incredibly good company, so I guess things got a bit out of control.
The show took place at an excellent London venue called St Luke’s in Old Street and was filmed and recorded for a live album/DVD to be released by Edel next February. After what had seemed a few nervy early moments, Rossi and his band were on fire. The sound was excellent and the set-list omitted just one tune (‘Here I Go’) from the repertoire of his last trek – see Diary 17.5.10 for full details. As usual, Francis’ between-song banter was self-deprecating and hugely entertaining. “This is a song I thought would have suited Ozzy Osbourne or Black Sabbath,” he told whilst introducing ‘You’ll Come Around’, adding: “Wrong! It came back [after being submitted]!”
For me, the night’s funniest moment came as I snuck out of the auditorium in a bid to avoid ‘Marguerita Time’. The lavatory was the only place in the building that rendered its embarrassing tones inaudible. Just as I started to take a leak, Quo’s manager Simon Porter walked in, nodded and smiled. Having finished relieving myself slightly before Simon did, I gave Percy a few extra shakes. “I’m just going to stand here a while longer whilst my favourite song of all time reaches its conclusion,” I told him. Simon, aware of my loathing of the audio abomination that began the ugly downfall of the original Quo, simply spluttered with laughter: “Yes, Dave. I know exactly why you’re here.”

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Wednesday 15th September
Please excuse my contented smile. Whilst preparing some questions for lunchtime’s face to face interview with Gus G, Firewind’s new studio album is blaring out at top volume. ‘Days Of Defiance’ hits the racks on October 25. It’s extremely impressive – for me, even more so than Ozzy Osbourne’s lukewarm ‘Scream’ (which, of course, also features the Greek guitarist’s considerable string-bending talents).
I’m also basking in the result of last night’s game between Crystal Palace and Portsmouth, which saw Everton loanee James Vaughan notch a highly impressive hat-trick in a valuable 4-1 victory. Vaughan looked absolutely amazing at Championship level, throwing himself into every tackle (which I know has caused some injury problems in the past), knowing exactly where the goal was. His first was a peach. My boy Eddie and I both leapt to our feet aware that the ball would hit the back of the net as soon as it left his boot! Considering that Ambrose, Zaha and Edgar ‘The Pitbull’ Davids will soon be available once again, things are looking up!
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Tuesday 14th September
Orion Books have kindly sent a copy of Vince Neil’s autobiography, Tattoos & Tequila: To Hell And Back With One Of Rock’s Most Notorious Frontmen. The Mötley Crüe singer has been busy cranking up the column inches in the promotion stakes. A few weeks ago he told me: “When you do a book, you can’t sugar-coat your life. You must own up to bad things, just like you can pat yourself on the back for the good.” Having surfed through a few pages I can confirm that its 290 pages **do** address the frontman’s vehicular manslaughter of Razzle from Hanoi Rocks (sample passage: “When I came to, I was still in the car. Razzle was actually in my lap”). Having taken a potshot at Mötley bassist Nikki Sixx last week (“He likes to portray himself as the Messiah”), tabloid attention is now inevitable given that Nail has pronounced: “It sickens me to watch everybody fawning over Sharon Osbourne. This is the most evil, shittiest woman I’ve ever met in my life. She would fucking have you killed if it was to her advantage. She’s just... it’s just... if people really knew.” Light touch paper, stand well back. LOL!
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Sunday 12th September
Ahem… apologies for the inanity and incoherence of yesterday’s post-match waffle. I was feeling the pain of a bitter defeat but a bit of soaraway pomp-rock courtesy of the mighty Prism soon served to set things right.
I’ve just been talking to Robert Säll, guitarist of the Swedish band Work Of Art and a member of the melodic rock supergroup W.E.T. Säll was happy to spill the beans regarding Work Of Art’s upcoming second album, which is to be titled ‘In Progress’ and also sent some MP3s of a few unmixed tracks. All are quite superb, though one in particular called ‘The Rain’ caused me to shuffle away in seek of new underwear. Little wonder that the trio’s MySpace page lists their influences as “Toto, Toto and Toto!!”, with a side-order of such acts as Journey, Giant, Mr Mister, Survivor, Chicago, Jeff Paris, Winger, Saga and Pride Of Lions among others. And, yes, their music does indeed live up to such lofty comparisons. Go check them out.
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Saturday 11th Sept
8pm… Just home from Reading vs Palace. Referee a complete and utter wankbag – two f**cking penalistes against the Eagles, you are kidding (why do we always get such shit refs?). Walked in the door of my office, bottle of white wine in hand… which album of them all would cheer me up? Justa a bit?? ‘Armageddon’ by Prism!!!! YESSSS!!!! (Derek… Rock Candy PLSSS!)… ‘You Walked Away Again’… new underwear pls… was there even a game of football>?
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Friday 10th September
A grim and overcast Friday has been brightened by the arrival of two packages. The first two Survivor albums (self-titled, 1979, and ‘Premonition’, 1981) have been given the Rock Candy Records overhaul treatment. Both now have sparkling, re-mastered sound and revealing, well-written sleeve essays by Dave Reynolds and Dave Cockett respectively, plus, in the case of ‘Survivor’, a bonus track.
Though they’ve been out awhile, I was also thrilled to receive the three Brian Connolly-less albums by Sweet – ‘Cut Above The Rest’ (1979), ‘Water’s Edge’ (1980) and ‘Identity Crisis’ (’82) – from Glam Records/Cherry Red. Though these are far from the most popular records of the group’s canon, I played them all to death at the time of their original releases, especially the final pair, and was surprised to find myself able to sing along to every lyric and guitar solo. Indeed, I was left very red-faced as Mrs L delivered a cup of tea to my office, standing at the doorway for a while in silent disbelief as I cavorted around foolishly and bellowed out the words: “At midnight/I’m gonna love ya!”, complete with “ooo-ooo-oooh” backing harmonies. Oh, the shame…
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Thursday 9th September
My two lads having returned to school, I’m once again the house’s designated dog walker. This morning, whilst throwing a frisbee for Bob The Dog in the park, the chirruping of my mobile phone shattered an idyllic silence. Ah, a text from fellow scribe Rich Wilson. Then five astonishing words: “Portnoy has left Dream Theater.” I simply couldn’t believe what I was reading. Mike Portnoy has been the heart and soul of DT for a quarter of a century, so his admission that “I have recently had more fun and better personal relations with [side-projects] Hail, Transatlantic and Avenged Sevenfold than I have for a while now in Dream Theater” is prog-metal’s equivalent of Steve Harris declaring: “That’s it boys, my heart’s not in Iron Maiden anymore. You can find another bassist and carry on without me.” Which, according to the group’s own statement, is exactly what DT are planning to do. Nobody in any band is irreplaceable, of course, but whoever elects to succeed Portnoy on DT’s drum throne had better own a bulletproof vest. MP had wanted the band to go on hiatus for a while, something the others objected to. The crux of the matter, of course, is how long he intended that break to have lasted, which remains undisclosed. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to think they should have bowed to the drummer’s wishes.
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Wednesday 8th September
Switzerland 1, England 3. Capello’s men are still atop qualifying Group G. Nice. And a good performance, too.
Still in upbeat mood, the new-look Heavy Metal Kids have announced a gig at London’s Garage on November 11. If you’ve not seen their new video, with John Altman on vocals, take a look here.
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Tuesday 7th September
It’s mid-afternoon and I’m home from a great interview with Steve Lukather. Due to an annoying tube strike I was forced to build some ‘just in case’ time into my travel schedule, arriving in the West End with an hour to kill. Nipped into the HMV store at Oxford Circus and picked up some items in the sale – American Hi-Fi’s ‘Hearts On Parade’ and a ‘re-mastered best-of’ anthology of singer/songwriter Stephen Bishop. A football quiz book will come in handy for Saturday’s car trip to Palace’s game in Reading, and given that this evening the hooker-obsessed Rooney and company take on Switzerland in the Euro Championship qualifiers, the acquisition of a tome entitled Don’t Mention The Score: A Masochists’ History Of The England Football Team is especially timely.
My conversation with Lukather was excellent. “You can ask me anything you like,” began the sometime Toto guitarist – a direct contrast to my recent meeting with Vince Neil, which though pleasant and productive enough was preceded by a warning that the Crüe singer’s latest clash with the authorities, an arrest for driving with three times the legal levels of alcohol in his blood, was well and truly off the agenda. Legalities are pending, obviously, but such preconditions make the interviewer look foolish… people reading the story will only assume that the writer didn’t do his/her homework, or simply bottled it at the big moment.
There were no such qualms with Steve, who these days is clean, sober, chilled and extremely talkative – at a good place in his life despite the recent passing of his mother, and very proud of his new solo record, ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’. Plainly, no love is lost between Lukather and former Toto singer Bobby Kimball (now of melodic-proggers Yoso). Indeed, Steve said that he hopes to play a British date with the Joseph Williams-fronted line-up that performed in mainland Europe this past summer, in order to balance out what he felt to be a significantly below-par display at Hammersmith Apollo back in February ’05.
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Monday 6th September
Exactly how much am I enjoying the new Alter Bridge album? Well, my appreciation of this remarkable record is difficult to quantify; stating my belief that it’s extremely good would be akin to pointing out that I’ve been known to follow the fortunes of Crystal Palace FC. Set for release on October 11 via Roadrunner, ‘ABIII’ has been on heavy, relentless rotation for the past few days. I’m tempted to say that it could be the band’s finest work to date. Another Roadrunner album that I didn’t really expect to have enjoyed, but which has **really** got under my skin, is the Nick Raskulinecz (Rush/Alice In Chains)-produced ‘Audio Secrecy’ by Stone Sour. If the Slipknot connection – frontman Corey Taylor and guitarist Jim Root are members of both groups – is off-putting for some less adventurous mainstream tastes then don’t worry, the songs are titanic… dark, melodic and alluring. I’ll be getting to the Hammy Apollo nice ‘n’ early next month when Stone Sour co-headline with Avenged Sevenfold.
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Sunday 5th September
It’s felt a bit like a wasted weekend. Yesterday afternoon I visited the Home Of Football, hoping to pick up some tickets for Palace’s away game at Reading. Was annoyed to find that although the Club Shop is open till 6pm on non-matchdays, the Box Office closes at 12.30pm. ‘No matter’, I thought. Having invested in a Travelcard (which allows unlimited travel all across London) I jumped onto a train to Shoreditch where there’s a shop that still sells audio cassettes and MiniDiscs, which I still use for my interviews (how old school am I?), only for the place to be closed.
In keeping with this theme of ‘disappointment’, this morning’s regular monthly trip to the record fair in Orpington also yielded slimmer than average pickings. A hardback book on Genesis; another soft-rock obscurity from US band Starbuck called ‘Searching For A Thrill’ (I already own their previous record, ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Rocket’); a mint-condition 1974 Island Records vinyl of Jim Capaldi’s ‘Whale Meat Again’ and ‘Amore’, the independent debut album from The Hooters, issued with little fanfare in 1983, two years before the band went Platinum with ‘Nervous Night’. Also picked up my first album by the late Dan Fogelberg, 1975’s ‘Captured Angel’. Not much of a haul, though it could be a lot worse. I could be Wayne Rooney, who’s making the headlines for shagging whores again.
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Saturday 4th September
Last night’s drinking buddy, Andy Beare, informs me that he was awoken at 5am by a tannoy-delivered order to wake up and vacate Arsenal tube station, LOL! Like myself, Mr Beare resides south of the Thames; we’ve absolutely no idea how he ended up in such a predicament. Andy seemed perfectly okay, if a little unsteady on his feet, when we parted company after a few cold ones (including some Jäger-bombs) at the Crobar to celebrate a fine gig from female-fronted prog-metallers Touchstone.
Support was supposed to have come from The Two Js, AKA It Bites duo John Beck and John Mitchell, though with Beck double-booked, Mitchell’s buddy in Frost*, keys player Jem Godfrey, stepped manfully into the breach for an hour’s worth of music and divine schoolboy tomfoolery. With few (including yours truly) aware of the personnel change Godfrey played the first number, IB’s ‘Kiss Like Judas’, in a ridiculous long dark wig and shades, before the grinning pair launched into the theme music from Dr Who as ‘Beck’ “re-Jem-erated” into Godfrey. A brilliantly ludicrous touch. Despite being desperately ill-prepared there followed a mixture of tunes by Frost (‘Hyperventilate’ and ‘Black Light Machine’) and Kino (‘Perfect Tense’ and ‘Losers’ Day Parade’), even stabs at Phil Collins’ ‘In The Air Tonight’ and ‘In Your Eyes’ by Peter Gabriel, Godfrey deploying a frantic “emergency hug” to Mitchell as a version of ‘Forget You Song’ threatened to fall apart at the seams. The latter alone was worth the small fortune that I somehow managed to fritter away on alcohol… Matters were not helped any by the discovery that one of the bar staff was a Crystal Palace fan; whenever I shouted the word “Eagles!” within earshot, no matter how big the queue was, the kind fella tipped us the wink and served us before everyone else.
My past sightings of Touchstone both having been at festivals, I was keen to see how they’d fare in a packed, intimate club like the Borderline. I’m happy to say the quintet provided and hour and 40 minutes of excellent entertainment. With a heavier-based sound than most of the prog-rock acts currently being lauded, Kim Seviour has a strong, distinctive voice, rallying it to full dramatic effect via a stripped-down encore of ‘Solace’, the fretless bass playing of Paul Moorghen providing a crucial final stamp of quality upon proceedings.
After those few extra drinks mentioned at the start, I stumbled home for the highlights of England’s Euro Championships qualifier against Bulgaria. 4-0 was a pretty impressive score-line. No surprise, then, that I dozed off contentedly on the sofa. Waking up surrounded by bits of cold, stinking kebab meat at 4am was a bit embarrassing though at least, in stark contrast to my partner in grime, I made it home.
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Friday 3rd September
Dropped by for a meeting at the Classic Rock office en route to yesterday’s screening of Steven Wilson’s Insurgentes – The DVD. Chewed over a few ideas with Geoff Barton for Future Publishing’s new melodic rock magazine, which hits the stands in mid-November. Saw some laid out pages which looked great. It’s an exciting project!
Afterwards, for the first time in ages, I pootled around a bit at the Record & Tape Exchange’s bargain rack. Picked up albums that were missing from the collection by David Bowie (‘Heathen’) and Carly Simon (‘My Romance’), before a few liveners at the Crobar. The playback of Insurgentes, a “musical road movie” by filmmaker Lasse Hoile that follows the making of SW’s solo record of the same name, took place at the Prince Charles Cinema at Leicester Square. It shows the Porcupine Tree leader returning to his school, going record shopping with Mikael Åkerfeldt from Opeth and expressing his opinions on the current and future state of music, smashing up a lot of iPods along the way! Afterwards the Great Man held a Question & Answer session. Having consumed way too much white wine and a few ciders in the cinema’s foyer car, I took my life in my hands by asking what prompted a musician renowned for modesty and humility to make a film about himself… something that could be interpreted as an exercise in “self-aggrandisement”. In the cold light of day that sounds rather insulting, doesn’t it? Luckily, Wilson took my enquiry in the spirit it was intended and provided an excellent, well-reasoned and entertaining reply; we had a laugh about it in the bar afterwards.
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Thursday 2nd September
Holy f**k! The luxurious five-disc edition (two DVDs, three audio) of Opeth’s ‘In Live Concert At The Royal Albert Hall’ has just dropped onto the mat here at Ling Towers. It’s so weighty, it nearly went right through the Goddamn floor! And blow me down, I get a special thanks on the thing! File that under ‘one of life’s highlights’…
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Wednesday 1st September
I cannot be the only one flabbergasted by the story of W Axl Rose napping through the pre-arranged start time of his spot at last weekend’s Reading Festival because his flunkies were too terrified to wake him up. This extended doze resulted in the show’s promoter pulling the plug half an hour after the curfew had passed – despite a very public warning of the consequences of starting late. Incredibly, GN’R were once again curtailed 24 hours later at sister event the Leeds Festival. Could Rose have been any more disrespectful to his audience if he tried? Well, I suppose he could have unzipped his strides and urinated all over the front rows. But, no. He had to be ‘in the zone’ and fully rested before deigning to take the stage. Such unfounded arrogance is an absolute disgrace.
For those that give a shit, this month’s Playlist and YouTube selections are up.