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blog of the day 29.04.2004

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Category: Music | back to blog |
Picture Album
Wednesday 1 October 2008
Most of my favourite music comes from the era I was born rather than the era I grew up in (though I have a lot of favourite music from that period too). Here is a record cover grid of most of the albums I own from the year I was born. I'll let you work out what they are and when it was!

posted 01.10.08 at 3:52 pm in Music | permalink | |

Schools Prom
Thursday 16 November 2006
Went up to London last night (it's been a while) to meet up with Ellie as she had complimentary tickets to the Music For Youth Schools Prom 2006 (in fact we were in one of the Music For Youth boxes). This was my first visit to the Albert Hall, a magnificent building but not the greatest acoustics, I have to say, certainly for the rockier acts. The evening was compered by Richard Stilgoe, Howard Goodall and Lisa Duncombe, and was hugely enjoyable with a wide varierty of music on show.
Highlights included the taiko drummers (a form that swept me off my feet at the Japan Expo in L.A in 1985), the vacuum-tube bass sounds provided by Mixed Up (a troupe who bashed kitchen sinks and shopping trolleys), Sur-Taal (sitar, and I love the sound of a drone), and the City of Belfast Youth Orchestra who really stood out. The evening ended with Land of Hope and Glory and flag-waving, not my strong-point, but I joined in, of course.
posted 16.11.06 at 10:48 am in Music | permalink | |

Steerpike play The Cure
Monday 15 May 2006
In early 1992 Steerpike were still building up a set of original material, so we played a number of covers. In an attempt to be a bit different from the many local blues-rock bands, these covers included four songs by The Cure - In Between Days, Love Cats, Boys Don't Cry and A Forest. Besides that, quite a few of our friends and fans liked The Cure, and they had been a local band too (we were from East Grinstead, they had originated in Crawley).
I have put up a page that features tape recordings from a gig we played at The Ravenswood Inn, Sharpethorne, in May 1992 - those days were really enjoyable and happy times. Hope you enjoy the recordings.
posted 15.05.06 at 11:24 am in Music | permalink | 2 |

Saturday 13 May 2006
I bought the Wolfmother album off iTunes as someone told me they were reminiscent of Overtoad - the first band I was in. More than one review mentions Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, and while I think they do have that vibe about them, they more strongly resemble bands like Grand Funk (c.1969) and Blue Cheer, and are not too dissimilar to the White Stripes, or even Supergrass. Though I agree with Pete about it wearing off quite quickly, I do like it, and it's perfect to hide amongst the iTunes playlist to pop up randomly every now and then. It's good stuff (with variable lyrics).
They come complete with a Frank Frazetta cover (what could be more apt?) and it's nice to hear that the E-minor pentatonic scale is in pretty good hands and still doing what it does best.
posted 13.05.06 at 12:53 pm in Music | permalink | |

Mr Bonx on the 101
Sunday 7 May 2006
Local musician 'Mr Bonx' has written a short piece on East Grinstead's 101 Club in his usual unique style over at his website. The photo of the stage shows the typical Steerpike set up (they're the band I played bass in), and the story of the ceiling bowing from the dancing and jumping was at one of our gigs. When I was involved with the local entertainments guide '5D', we worked closely with the two chaps who were setting up the 101... it was all rather exciting. You can see from the gig list below (and here) how often we played there.
Embarrassing moment no.327: while working as a porter at a Gatwick hotel, I asked one of the chambermaids if she wanted a pass to this new venue called the 101 Club (I was in promotion mode, not flirting - at least I don't think I was). It was quite noisy in the canteen and she was horrified to (mis)hear I was asking her to go to something called the One-on-one club! I don't think she ever looked me in the eye again.

And a little story about Bonx and his old band, Pump. When 5D organised a birthday bash at Clair Hall in Haywards Heath in 1992, we had 5 or 6 bands play. Someone had to go on first, and the band we felt were the least well-known of the bunch (and they were all top local bands) was chosen. Upon hearing this, the band refused to participate, as they felt it was too early in the evening and the crowd would not be large enough yet. So we had to get a new band in quickly, and asked Pump. They were professional to the hilt - it is true the crowd was small that early, and mostly round the corner in the bar, but Bonx didn't even mention it and played one of the best and tightest sets of the night.

posted 07.05.06 at 11:47 am in Music | permalink | 3 |

Getting more out of GarageBand
Saturday 4 February 2006
I just wanted to give a little plug to a great new Garageband site that I find very interesting and useful. It's well written, informative, and simple. And my brother writes it. One of the latest articles is a review of the new GarageBand 3.

Here's the link: Getting More Out Of GarageBand.

posted 04.02.06 at 7:03 pm in Music | permalink | 5 |

(Wish it was a) Silent Night
Thursday 22 December 2005
You can tell I haven't been practising as much as I should have... but anyway, here is Silent Night on the theremin. Stick your fingers in your ears for the first few notes, it settles into key after that. No effects added, pure theremin into Garageband via my M-Audio Audiophile.
posted 22.12.05 at 8:28 pm in Music | permalink | |

Thursday 10 November 2005
On RadioPod 5 I previewed Murray's new album, Spacewreck. He has now made a small website where you can read more about it, and grab yourself a copy! Highly recommended.
"Spacewreck is a musical story, somewhere between a soundscape and a dreamscape, the soundtrack to a film you'll only find in your imagination, describing the journey the astronaut takes into the depths of this enigmatic dead craft."

posted 10.11.05 at 5:40 pm in Music | permalink | |

Super Furry London
Saturday 9 July 2005
Last night I went to the Super Furry Animals gig at Somerset House. I had a meeting in Bromley for the previous part of the day, and then Ellie and I caught the train into Victoria and met friends at Charing Cross. For a Friday evening, the city was quiet, peaceful in fact (well, apart from the occasional siren and helicopter). There were lots of side-ways glances between fellow underground passengers... not suspicious looks, more trying-to-search-peoples'-feelings looks. There was no tacky flag-waving, no loud conversations, just the old let's get on with things. Well what else is there? Going down into the underground for the first time at Victoria, I did actually get a bit of a lump in my throat at the sight of people just carrying on, or maybe it was at the thought of what people had been through in these tunnels. Silly really, and it quickly passed.
The gig was very good, and Somerset House is a fantastic venue for it. A video screen showed live drawing from Pete Fowler before the band came on. Gruff thanked everyone for coming to the gig despite the previous day's events. "This is what happens when, instead of declaring peace of terrorism, you declare war on terrorism", he said. Then the screens showed stills of Bush and Blair put to the words of Bill Hicks, looping the line "all governments are liars and murderers". There was lots of new material and some old favourites, and they ended on the defiant 'The Man Don't Give a F**k'. The illuminated hooded boiler suits were good, but not as impressive as perhaps they were intended.

Despite this being a very enjoyable show, I'm afraid I have to be an old crock and say, generally, I don't enjoy the gig-going experience. Sound is often poor (bass guitars are amplified to be felt and not heard - this is okay, but it can get too distorted), and large crowds are not my favourite. But then again, when you work from home all day self-employed, it's nice (and important) to get out like this when you can! This was far better than many I've been too - the open-air was good.

There was various music being piped through the sound system before the gig, and one artist I particularly liked, but have no idea who it was. I'm looking into it... could be Baris Manco... but it could have been Japanese.

posted 09.07.05 at 2:46 pm in Music | permalink | |

My new friend
Sunday 22 May 2005
About two weeks ago I got a new instrument to learn. I have been an electric bass player for about 16 years, and have also played mandolin, and about a year ago started with the banjo. My newest is the theremin (follow this link if you're not sure what a theremin is).
It's very difficult to learn! In principle it seems easy, but in practice there is a lot to it. So, after a couple of weeks I've managed to get something approximating a tune out of it. Here is a sample (160k mp3, Edelweiss - I've tried to get a kind of violin sound) - it changes key a few times (unintentionally) and misses the right note more than it hits, but I'll keep at it and hope I get better!

See also Hypnotique's excellent guide to the theremin (I first came across Hypnotique via Pete Ashton's blog a year or two ago).

posted 22.05.05 at 5:51 pm in Music | permalink | |

Smile reviews
Wednesday 25 February 2004
The official Brian Wilson website has put up some good reviews of the Smile concert.
posted 25.02.04 at 4:23 pm in Music | permalink | |

Smile? Massive grin!
Wednesday 25 February 2004
On Sunday 22nd Elyssa and I went to see Brian Wilson at the Royal Festival Hall for a night of his Smile tour. I can't very well put into words what I saw and heard that night, but it was the most astonishing gig I've ever been to. Standing right in front of Tony McPhee during a blistering Groundhogs set at the tiny Shelly Arms a few years ago comes second, then nothing for miles.
The band started in a little acoustic huddle stage-left to open the show, supplying banter reminiscent of the Beach Boys Party album, but not quite as chaotic. They then moved to their instrument spots on stage, joined by the Stockholm Strings and Horns (for one or two numbers, I think) and then a few more before an interval. The sounds and harmonies were sublime, a hive of instrumental activity on stage with Brian seemingly a calm epicentre, like a magnet drawing it all together.

The Smile section was stunning. This was not a set of songs, but a piece, a movement (or three) worthy of the old masters. It could have been so disappointing with the promise of 37 years built up behind it, but it completely came alive. It really was like being taken on an intricate musical adventure. It was fun as well, with saws, hammers, drills, fire hats and vegetables bringing an almost surreal circus-like quality to the affair and the enjoyment on stage infecting everyone. At one point, I think during Good Vibrations, a white light hit the central cross-beam of the lighting rig and produced a cross above Brian's head, just as a small crowd in the front stalls rose to their feet overcome by the utter excitement of this beautifully constructed song. I hesitate to laugh at the obvious analogy (amusing as it was), because it really was an almost religious experience.

After the Smile section the band returned for more Beach Boys (with an appearance by lyricist Van Dyke Parks), and a final encore left everyone with the beautiful Love & Mercy. There was a warm but fairly quiet buzz as people left the RFH, and as we made our way to Waterloo East, and the crowds thinned, we'd spot the occasional person clutching their square white Smile booklets, with a distant look of awe in their eyes, almost like they were in mild shock. My mind's been trying to recreate and hang on to the images and sounds of Sunday evening, but it's fading fast. But I know something great happened. Roll on the DVD so I can confirm it!

posted 25.02.04 at 12:51 pm in Music | permalink | |

The Lost Video
Tuesday 20 January 2004
Yesterday I managed to see the contents of an 8mm tape I've had in my possession for over ten years but had never seen. It was recorded at a Steerpike gig in 1992 (I was the bassist) and isn't at all bad. The surprising thing was, while rooting around in old box I found another 8mm tape with yet more Steerpike on, this time from a gig at the now defunct 101 Club, from about the same time. I initiated myself into the delights of Apple's iDVD and now have the highlights on disc, complete with menus and chapters. Some frames are reproduced below.
I know this blog has mainly been updates recently (but that was always the main purpose of Nucleus since I started the page in 1997), so apologies for another one. Not having the time to organise my small collection of Brambletye House pictures into some kind of display at home, I'm inflicting them on the web. Learn more here .

posted 20.01.04 at 8:42 pm in Music | permalink | |

Steerpike archives
Tuesday 23 September 2003
I've been digitising some of my musical archives recently, notably putting Steerpike's 1993 concert at The Harlequin onto CD (probably saw us at our most professional, I think) and also editing some footage I have of us playing at the 101 Club in iMovie. Also came across a couple of good photos of us playing live...
posted 23.09.03 at 11:34 am in Music | permalink | |

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