17 sept. 2010, 16h32m

    To mark the 40th anniversary of the passing of the world's greatest electric guitar player, I will be playing a 24 hour non stop Hendrix playlist from 00:00 BST 18th September 2010 to 00:00 BST on 19th September 2010. I don’t at present have everything that the man released on record or CD, but I think that the 100+ tracks I presently have do cover all the bases.

    He may be gone but his legacy lives on… a man to whom the term genius will be most applicable and whose music speaks as clear to people today as it did in the 1960’s.

    R.I.P. James Marshall Hendrix [November 27th 1942 – September 18th 1970]

    24 août 2010, 15h21m

    (Just moved this down from the sidebar to make some room... hey it was getting mighty crowded up there... lol)

    I'm Scottish, work in IT and I am a long time music fan. Currently, I'm appalled by the amount of dross that swamps the radio these days, so any site like this that offers access to quality music is most welcome. Although I listen to a wide spectrum of music at home, classic rock is by far and away my fave selection... everything from Aerosmith to ZZ Top! I listened to the mighty Tommy Vance on BBC Radio One on friday nights way back in my student days in the late 1970's and I gotta give the guy the credit for letting me hear tons of stuff that I had not come across before. He is sadly missed... I will raise a glass to him every Friday night... rock on Tommy!

    One thing that he used to say about music (and which I have kept in my head ever since then) was there is NO such thing as "bad" music... just "different" music. Everything has its place... and there is a place for everything. Whether it's Dylan, Vangelis, AC/DC or the latest death metal... all different styles, yet they all have their place and should be given a hearing at least once. Where I would disagree is where these so called hideous, and most often, unnecessary remixes turn up... where great tunes are remixed (often that means they replace half the original track with a dance track!) with new technology and made to sound pretty poor. That is my main gripe these days... I pretty much hate that. One example that comes to mind was the recent YES remix album (and completed by Steve Howe's son no less...) oh how it grated on the ears. Yes music was notmade to be turned into dance tracks! Just because you can, does not mean to say that you should! Sometimes less is more... hmm!

    I love live music. Back in the 80's I used to live in the centre of Edinburgh, just 10 mins walk from the Playhouse and saw tons of gigs there... Iron Maiden, Queen, The Who, AC/DC, Saxon, Whitesnake, Rainbow, Dio, Kiss, Eric Clapton, BB King, Ted Nugent, Steve Hackett, Foreigner, Gary Moore, Blue Oyster Cult, Robert Plant, Dire Straits... ah the list would be endless. I have just put a gig list of most of those I can recall on my journals page futher down. Haven't been out to gigs for a few years now though... not as many good bands around as there used to be. Sign of the times I guess.

    Gone are the good old days of my youth when we would go down to our local record store and pick up the latest vinyl release, (thats those big black discs your olds have got in the loft kids! ) take it home, hear that reassuring click from the speakers as the needle hit the groove and music floods the room. Suddenly all was well with the world! Now we just buy music over the net... a couple of mouse clicks and a file appears on your desktop... hmmm... lost a little of the romance with the new technology it seems methinks... and don't get me started on some of the crappy tiny images purporting to be artwork that people tag with the mp3's as well. Who could think that small 85 x 85 images are good needs to go to specsavers! In the days of bvinyl we had 12"x12" full colour lyric sheets, photos and band biogs included with the discs... now we just get a postage stamp sized cover pic... is that really progress?

    Periodically, I get to listen to some of my old vinyl stuff and have saved some of it to the computer. Hey, if it was good enough to buy first time around... its good enough to save. After 37 years and counting, my home record collection still (albeit a tad slower than before) gets to grow... as so it should. I recall an old quote... "The person who has tired of music... is tired of life". That says it all in my book.

    I try to give all kinds of music a fair hearing... as I said before, there is no such thing as good or bad music... just music. My tastes vary with time as well. In my teenage years I checked out all the standard rock stuff... Purple, Hendrix, Sabbath, Floyd etc, then broadened out to include Neil Young, The Doors, Yes, Genesis, Focus, The Eagles... ah hundreds of others!!! Suffice to say that I still periodically hear old stuff that I have not heard for a long time (or not ever) and continue to expand the old music collection at home. So far this summer, I have added PFM's "Celebration", Alcatrazz's "God Blessed Video" and a clutch of others from Steve Hackett, Robin Trower and Steve Hillage to my playlists at home. There is still a huge amount of great recorded music out there to find, both old and new. Gotta keep an open mind and listen out for it. Even stuff that I heard back in the FRS days come back to mind if I listen to old tapes. Recently, "Def Leppard" (the early BBC Radio One Sessions from 1980), "The Nice" (late 60's BBC Sessions), "Taurus" ("Paperchaser" stood out for me) and "Money" (anyone remember the great track they sessioned for Radio One in 1980... "Just Another Case Of Suicide"?) has had me trying to source out some of their product. Its all good stuff! I just managed to find that Money track as a download as well as a few other gems... anyone recall good US bands like "New England" and "Tycoon" from 1979/1980?

    Mind you, its not always easy to locate... I was looking for some Rick Derringer albums... "Guitars and Women" among them... recently and some of his older 1970's and early 1980's CD 's are priced at humungous amounts on Amazon... over £70 on one site... cheaper to download methinks! Changed days indeed.

    Anyway, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read... much appreciated.

    Keep The Faith!


    August 2010
  • My Gig List:

    28 mai 2010, 16h32m

    A near comprehensive list of gigs that I have attended over the years...

    AC/DC (1986)
    Alice Cooper (1986)
    B.B. King (1985) (1986)
    Big Country (1983 - March & Sept) (1984)
    Black Sabbath (1986)
    Blue Oyster Cult (1985)
    Bon Jovi (1984 supporting Kiss) (1985)
    Camel (1982)
    Chaka Khan (1985)
    Chris De Burgh (1986)
    Chris Rea (1985)
    Commodores (1985 - Feb & Sept)
    Daryl Hall and John Oates (1982)
    Dio (with Queensryche) (1984)
    Dire Straits (1982) (1985 – July & Dec)
    Elton John (1985)
    Eric Clapton (with Chris Rea) (1985)
    Eurythmics (1983)
    Foreigner (1982) (1985)
    Gary Moore (1980 supporting Whitesnake) (1983) (1985)
    Gary Numan (1983)
    George Benson (1985)
    Go West (1985)
    Hawkwind (1985)
    Ian Gillan Band (1980)
    INXS (1986)
    Iron Maiden (1983) (1984)
    Jackson Browne (1986)
    Joan Armatrading (1985) (1986)
    Judie Tzuke (1982) (1985)
    Kiss (with Bon Jovi) (1984)
    Level 42 (1985)
    LIVE AID (1985)
    Madness (1981)
    Magnum (1985)
    Marillion (1983) (1985)
    Meat Loaf (1982) (1983) (1984) (1985) (1987)
    Midge Ure (1985)
    Nazareth (1981)
    Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (1981) (1983)
    Ozzy Osbourne (1986)
    Paul Young (1984)
    Peter Gabriel (1983)
    Queen (with Heart) (1982)
    Rainbow (1983)
    REO Speedwagon (1985)
    Robert Plant (1983) (1988)
    Sade (1984) (1985)
    Saxon (1983) (1985)
    Simple Minds (1981) (1982) (1983)
    Status Quo (1984)
    Steve Hackett (1981) (1983)
    Sting (1986)
    The Electric Light Orchestra (1981)
    The Everly Brothers (1984)
    The Hollies (1985)
    The Jam (1982)
    The Moody Blues (1984)
    The Police (1981) (1983)
    The Pretenders (1981)
    The Stranglers (1983) (1985)
    The Temptations (1985)
    The Who (1981)
    Thin Lizzy (1983)
    Tom Waits (1985)
    Ultravox (1981) (1982) (1986)
    Wasp (1986)
    Whitesnake (1980 with Gary Moore's G-Force) (1981) (1983) (1984)
  • R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio

    17 mai 2010, 11h34m

    ... I was saddened by the news last night (16th May) of the passing of Ronnie. I have long admired his work with Rainbow and Sabbath and was lucky to see him perform with Dio in September 1984. He was supposed to have been touring through Europe this summer and the tour was only recently shelved due to his health problems. He was perhaps diminutive in stature but most certainly a vocal giant with a unique gift. Though we have lost him in body, his spiirt lives on, because his music lives on, thus the legend lives on. Rock In Peace.
  • Why is there a lack of live music shows on UK TV?

    19 déc. 2009, 22h48m

    In 2005, the BBC took the decision to drop its long serving (since Jan 1964) TV music show, “Top Of The Pops”, in 2006, leaving “Later… with Jools Holland”, as the main source of regular live music across the TV networks. Leaving aside the satellite channels, which after all provide little live music programming, instead depending on shows crammed full of music video content, only channel 4 with its occasional late night series “Live at Abbey Road” can be said to offer any similar offerings across the terrestrial commercial channels.

    Live music has evaporated from the talent starved vacuum that is ITV, being replaced by the lowest common denominator shows like Pop Idol and X-Factor, which after all only represent vocal groups and singers… no space on those programmes for any new bands… hell no! Even video based Saturday morning shows like The Chart Show (which migrated over from Ch4) or The Roxy (remember that one!) all bit the dust some years ago and were not replaced by… well anything at all really.

    Back in the early 1980’s, there were many more live music shows on TV here in the UK… particularly on the BBC, who were not shy when it came to putting live music on the box. Aside from Top Of The Pops (where admittedly artists did mime their latest hit offerings at that time!) there were regular “In Concert” shows, “The Oxford Road Show” and of course “The Old Grey Whistle Test”. The BBC were not alone though. In 1982 when Channel 4 came along, it brought the long format (1hr 45 mins) “The Tube” to our screens, which mixed interviews, latest videos and live studio sets by loads of current and upcoming talent. The Tube, like The Old Grey Whistle Test only ran from Late August, through the Autumn and Winter months, coming off air at Easter, but unlike Whistle Test, its time slot was filled over the summer period by several other music shows, like “Switch”, “The Chart Show”, “ECT” (A heavy rock show) and others.

    In 1987, on the same Easter weekend, both The Old Grey Whistle Test and The Tube, ceased transmission and for over 5 long years there were no live music shows on TV bar the occasional live (or recorded live) concert footage. Into this musical desert sprang the oasis that is “Later… with Jools Holland”, which mixes live studio sets with interview and some archive footage. It has continued to provide a better quality style of music show… not pandering to chart stars, but instead showcasing bands which straddle many musical styles and presenting them well.

    Okay, so it can be said that there are plenty of music shows on channels carried by Freeview, cable or satellite, like MTV, E4, 4 Music etc, but as we all know, these are mainly top heavy with music vids, usually from top 40 artists, with only a smattering of mainly “pop” concerts to provide respite from the video onslaught.

    In this age of downloads, bands are making more cash from playing live or from the sale of merchandising than from the sales of recorded music, but that is not reflected in the amount of live music which is available to view on TV. Oh sure both the BBC and Channel 4 will bring out a few more shows during the festive period, but what about the summer? Last summer, as usual, the BBC gave us excellent coverage from both Glastonbury and T in the Park, with several sets being repeated on BBC2 or BBC4 and on the “Red Button” interactive feature. Meanwhile ITV’s digital channels gave us heinously butchered coverage from Reading and Leeds, covered by amateurs who obviously had never watched a festival in their lives! Oh dear, like football, live music events do not lend themselves to lots of ad breaks ITV! Take note.

    So where does that leave us? Well, there have been several attempts to try and resurrect Top Of The Pops of late… at one point even Simon Cowell wanted to purchase the franchise from the BBC to run himself… a hideous thought and one that should be discouraged. There have also been calls for a “Whistle Test” style show to come back to our screens, but so far no decision has been made on any of those. It is interesting though that even with all that archive material in the bank, the BBC still don’t give us any repeated shows of Whistle Test or TOTP performances any more. Why not? Many of the TOTP shows were repackaged into compilations as TOTP 2 shows and transmitted from 1992, but they have also quietly slipped away, although the BBC has managed to make sure that there is still a Christmas edition of TOTP to be screened each Christmas day. So, good enough for an end of year show, bit not for the other 51 weeks… come on BBC do the right thing. Make with some more live music on TV… even if it is only TOTP… and maybe even let’s see Whistle Test come back... or repeat lots of the clasic shows. Anyone agree?

    Until then, we shall have to settle for two series of Later… with Jools each year and amuse ourselves for the rest of the time until Glastonbury and T in The Park come around again!

    C’est la vie!
  • The Problem with X-Factor…

    19 déc. 2009, 22h38m

    It’s Saturday, December 19th 2009. and well, here we are again. On the edge of discovering who will be the new UK Christmas No.1 single. After 4 years we are going to be confronted once more with the prospect of Simon Cowell having engineered his way to the Christmas top slot, by virtue of promoting a single from the winner of X-Factor.

    Now the problem here, is that having been on screen for the last three months, the show’s winner has gathered a following which will always ensure increased sales of any product released for Christmas. Any other recordings made without the aid of a large national TV show like X-Factor has thus nary a snowball’s chance in hell of competing against any such release. When Top Of The Pops finished in 2006, it meant that any standard recordings released at the same time, had lost the largest outlet for promotion on national TV and thus the X-Factor output now had an unfair advantage. To the average music listener, it is nothing more than a cynical ploy by Cowell to maximise sales, but the problem is now that this has become such a regular occurrence, people have lost faith in the integrity of the chart process altogether.

    Why also is the X-Factor limited to just ballad singers… why no soul singers… no singer-songwriters… no bands… or multi instrumentalists? Why should ballad singers get the nod against everyone else? Would it be because they are easily controlled by the Cowell machine… cash cows fed the right songs to maximise yield? The cynic within me says, “Oh yeah!”

    This year, thanks to an orchestrated online campaign against the X-Factor single, which is promoting the 1992 hit, Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing In The Name”, there is more competition for the TV engineered effort of Mr Cowell. He, now obviously irked by having some genuine competition this year, recently declared the campaign against the X-Factor single to be “stupid”. However, I for one hope that his arrogant attitude, open contempt for and obvious denigration of people who are genuine music lovers not yet brainwashed by his glossy and slickly produced TV show, will be what leads to his downfall.

    We are not sheep. We do not swallow the idea that a recording made from the X-Factor has any god given right to be a number one single, just because Cowell and his cohorts have decided thus. Let’s be honest here, his protégé’s are not making the grade solely by virtue of their talent, far from it. They are doing so on the back of a huge media machine, which does its best to promote the winner of the show while suppressing any efforts to criticise, or produce any significant competition. I would bet that most people would not be able to name ten other songs which are on release now and be any sort of competition for Cowell. The loss of Top Of The Pops has aided in the X-Factor’s success by the back door… and that is success by default… not by talent.

    A fair playing field would expose the X-Factor from what it really is… a blatant money making enterprise for one Simon Cowell. He (and Sony who released both artists’ singles) will be the only real winner… if they are lucky, any X-Factor winners will be able to secure maybe one album with decent sales then be cast adrift to flounder and drown in the sea of mediocrity from whence the X-Factor plucked them, which usually happens within two years.

    So, I am off to purchase another couple of downloads of the Rage Against The Machine track and stick two fingers up to Mr Cowell. No sheep here!

    Keep music real folks!
  • Sad News about Ronnie James Dio

    28 nov. 2009, 23h44m

    Yeah, another sad day for rock 'n' roll as I heard that Ronnie James Dio has been dignosed with stomach cancer. Apparently it is at an early stage and he is getting teatment so should make a good recovery... fingers crossed. Whether he was with Rainbow, Sabbath or his own band, he always gives 110% when he peforms. Here's hoping it all goes well for him.
  • Friday Rock Show Anniversary

    24 nov. 2009, 12h12m

    I just realised the other day that today (November 24th ) would be the 31st anniversary of the start of the Tommy Vance's BBC Radio One Friday Rock Show back in 1978. Seems an age away now, though the music that was being played back them is still strangely relevant today. Proof, if it were ever needed, that good music lasts and will always find a listening audience. I wonder how many of todays bands will be in the same position come another 30 years?

    Without a slew of knowledgeable DJ's (I hate the term "presenter"... it conjures up that image of a guy standing by a mike wearing a penguin suit!) to promote and play the material, who will champion all the good music now that the old guard have slipped away into the musical past. Roger Scott, Alan Freeman, John Peel, Tommy Vance... all now gone and spinning tunes for the angels. Without the aid of computers, google and Wiki pages to help them out when making their shows, when DJ's used their experience and knowledge to talk at length to the listeners... be informative, yet engaging... enthusing about what they played, much as the fans at home would do. They were of their time... now sadly missed. They are gone from this world, but never forgotten, as the majority of my record collection at home and probably that of many others who spent hours listening to these guys will testify to.

    A few years ago, after finding a bunch of old tapes in a box after one of my last house moves, I decided to recover the contents to the computer to archive for posterity. Among them were several tapes from the early days of the Friday Rock Show... mostly from around 1979 - 1981. Listening to them brought back all the memories of my student days and a time when rock ruled the airwaves... well between 10pm and 12 midnight on a Friday night it certainly did!

    I only had to hear a great track on Tommy's show on the Friday night and I was off down the local record emporium (Impulse Records & Tapes in Hamilton... now also gone!) on the Saturday morning, to obtain said vinyl material. Even after I left college, moved to the city and the tempting nightlife of Edinburgh, I never forgot the FRS. I taped the shows when I went out so I could listen to them later... that's probably how many of them actually survived I guess. If I heard anything that I liked, I would be off like a rat up a drain into the centre of town to visit "Virgin" (in Frederick St, before it became a superstore!), "Bruce's" or "Listen", to get hold of the albums that I was after.

    To then rush home, rip open the shrink wrap, place the record (that's a big shiny 12 inch black vinyl disc, kids!) on the turntable and hear the small reassuring click as the needle hit the groove and music filled the room. At once all was well with the world. Cue huge sigh of relief and several minutes enjoying a cold beer from the fridge while perusing the disc's sleeve notes, accompanying lyric sheets, band photos or poster that may come with the album (see kids ye miss all this stuff with yer little downloads nowadays!). It was an exciting experience... it had mystery, romance, intrigue, joy... all now sadly lost from our music experience these days. C'est la vie!

    I'll raise a few glasses of the cold stuff to the old guard tonight... recalling Roger, Alan, John and Tommy. All the best guys. Your legend lives on.