Saturday, April 30, 2005

Four shirts for a tenner...Money for Old Rope...

Possibly a mistake to stay up till 3 am as I didn’t waken up till 9:30 – so a late start on matters today. First up, breakfast at home today, to allow Meg a chance to go out and about. Then I went to the library, to the computer shop (to get blank CDs), Matalan for some new shirts and then to get the car washed. £3.50 and the bird-shit was still sitting on the roof when I got home….

While Anne was out at the Hearts game (0-0 v Motherwell, European hopes totally out the window now – and, worse still for any true Hearts fan, Hibs beat Celtic 3-1 - QoS go back to fourth though with a famous 2-0 victory over St Johnstone), I produced the second batch of James Jamieson CDs and the first batches of the first three CBQ Deeperdown EPs having mastered the art of on disc printing – which looks great!

In the evening I returned to the Queen’s Hall for a performance by Karl-Heinz Stockhausen. This time I met up with Dr Prog, who had very kindly brought along some discs for me – Jethro Tull’s “Thick As A Brick”, Asia’s last album “Silent Nation” and a Tangerine Dream 2CD bootleg of a concert in Berlin in 1982.

Jim Park met us in the queue to get in and we proceeded to the bar. After a couple of nice Ginger Beers we made our way into the hall. Alan Brodie and his girlfriend, Penny, came in and sat a few rows behind us, while Dave Bann, owner of the best veggie restaurant in town (in which Jim’s an investor and so gets one free meal a week – or is it a month?) was also in our row.

While we waited for the “show” to start, after discussing whether we’d remembered to record tonight’s episode of Dr Who (“Dalek”), Jim and I work up a possible skit re an overexcited Dalek which may or may not make its way into his act at some point…he is a very funny man and I urge you to catch his live set sometime – check out his site at for dates (and his blog).

Finally Professor Stockhausen took to the stage, but merely to give an introductory talk. He asked us to listen for sounds falling from the ceiling to the floor. He complained about the shape of the room, bemoaning the fact that architects never build concert halls where his music can be listened to as intended. He returned to the large mixing desk in the centre of the hall and the lights were switched off for the35 minute piece, “Kontakte” from 1958, which was completely abstract.

It was quite amazing to sit in a darkened room with around 700 other people just listening to weird electronic sounds for half an hour.

At the end the lights went up and the Prof received an ovation.

After a twenty minute break which we definitely needed, as he must have insisted on the air conditioning being switched off - it was roasting in the room by now, he returned to the stage to introduce the second piece “Oktophonie”, from 1991.

This piece was 69 minutes long and Karl-Heinz told us it was fine if we wanted to leave the room at any point, almost telling us that this was going to be a bit hard going.

In the event, this piece was much more conventional than “Kontakte” and certainly didn’t seem to last for 69 minutes. I felt a lot of the sounds he was using were pretty cheesy and, all in all, this was a trifle disappointing, being something which I could probably have knocked together myself in an afternoon!

I definitely preferred “Kontakte”.

Dr Prog loved it and indeed Mini Disc’d it – I don’t know how that’ll turn out though – as Brodski says, you need a hell of an expensive set of speakers to get it to sound right!

Phil (Dr Prog) hung around in the hall and got the good professor’s autograph while Jim, Dave and I headed back to the bar for more Ginger Beer. Through a misunderstanding, Brodski & Penny ended up outside and, as he’d left his mobile at home, he didn’t know Jim and I were trying to phone him to find out where he was.

We stayed in the bar till around midnight, as Jim entertained us all with his quips and jokes, then I gave him and Dr Prog lifts to their respective homes and got home and hit the sack around 1 am.

Another good night, though there is definitely something of the Emperor’s New Clothes about some of Stockhausen’s stuff….

Friday, April 29, 2005

Loolabell the dog....

For a long time I’ve been puzzled by the fact that The Beach Boys’ album “Pet Sounds” always seems to figure in lists of “The Greatest Albums Ever Made”. However, I’d never actually heard the album.

Today I found it in the HMV sale for £4.99. This particular edition had both the original mono mix and the 199os stereo mix, so a bit of a bargain….except it’s not.

The Beach Boys are a singles band. “Good Vibrations”, “God Only Knows”, “Fun Fun Fun” etc etc. The album is not good in my opinion. There may be some groundbreaking effects in use but, frankly, I find the music substandard.

You may think that this is because I’d never heard it before, and I can see this as a valid argument – I didn’t grow up with the music, it wasn’t a part of my life etc etc.

However, I recently heard for the first time, the mid-sixties albums by Simon & Garfunkel. I thought that they were very good indeed and clearly rivalled The Beatles for their song-writing and studio trickery.

For me, the Beach Boys don’t do this. Therefore I say to potential Beach Boys albums buyers, “stick to the greatest hits compilations and save yourself the time of listening to the rest”. Sorry, Brian.

I also purchased the Jethro Tull compilation, “Living In The Past” and very entertaining it is too. Much better than “Pet Sounds”….

As we were getting ready to go and see Laurie Anderson tonight at the Queen’s Hall, Anne came upstairs saying that something terrible had happened and I should come and see. Right in front of our front window, lying motionless, upside down impaled on the Butterfly Bush that grows there, was a very big and very dead Pigeon.

We wondered how it could have found itself there. However, on close inspection of our upstairs window, I found a distinct pigeon-in-flight imprint on the glass. It seems the poor bird had crashed at full speed against our window and was killed instantly, its body bouncing back and landing upside down in the bush. I don’t suppose it would have known anything about it….

Since her concert at the same venue back in 1982, where I queued up to have my ticket autographed and got the chance to exchange a few words, I estimate we’ve seen Laurie Anderson perform around six or seven times, including the full “United States I-IV” show over two nights in London in 1983.

Two years ago in Glasgow, she was captivating, tonight she was even better. Her show was loosely based around her time as “Artist in Residence” at NASA. It was quite understated, performed on a stage bedecked with a small console of keyboards, an armchair, a very much less than huge screen which was only used for around five minutes of the show, and around eighty tea lights, perhaps representing stars.

This was, for me, the very epitomy of performance poetry, as she told her stories over ninety minutes, occasionally interspersing them with some pieces for her effects laden violin. She had us laughing, she had us thinking.

For me the highlight was the story of her small terrier dog Loolabell. As a terrier, the dog instinctively protected a specific area around herself wherever she went. One day, while walking in some California woods, she was mistaken for a small white rabbit by a group of marauding vultures.

At that point, the dog suddenly realised that, not only did she need to be vigilant and check all directions around her, but that she was now vulnerable from above too. From then on, she walked along, not with her nose to the ground, but with her nose in the air, always looking over her shoulder - just like post 9/11 New York....

We met Jim Park ( and, purely by chance, our old friend, and artist, Eona Aitken, in the bar before the show. Afterwards we gave them a lift home and Anne had a chance to catch up with Eona.

We went for a quick drink with Jim and discussed the possibility of a terrorist attack on the UK in the run up to the election. Jim reckoned it was a distinct possibility – I doubted this saying there’d been no terrorism in the West since 9/11. He had to remind me of the Madrid bombings……

Stayed up till 3 working on the May Crispycat Newsletter, the first this year, which I want to issue tomorrow re the release of the first three CBQ singles on Monday…

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Broken Glass...

Once again I failed to make it to Out of the Bedroom…. The schedules re everything I had to do were too tight and so I didn’t have the CD singles ready.

Instead I stayed in and copied the latest batch of library CDs, The Album Leaf, Stockhausen, Xenakis, Schumann and Tangerine Dream as they need to be back at the library by Saturday and we’re off to see Laurie Anderson tomorrow night.

I also bought another Philip Glass CD, Symphonies 2 & 3. I was a bit disappointed on first listening but will need to give it time. Not as good as the Opera disc I bought last week….

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Vaughan Williams, The Czars and suffering for your art....

Today I bought a couple of CDs of English classical music – Elgar and Vaughan Williams. I must admit the Elgar disc is a compilation rather than a disc of any complete works. It includes the adagio from his cello concerto and those of his first two symphonies, along with Nimrod from the Enigma Variations.

The VW disc is of complete shorter works, all conducted by Sir Adrian Boult and it includes “The Lark Ascending” and “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” both of which I’d been looking to get for a while.

Tonight I went along to see The Czars ( as part of the Tryptich Festival (a series of concerts rotating between Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen). The night was to showcase acts on former Cocteau Twins Simon Raymonde’s label Bella Union (everything I’ve heard from the label to date has been good, but I like The Czars the best and had missed the opportunity to see them in November last year in Glasgow).

I arrived too early (8pm, the soundcheck was still in progress) so I took a drive around Arthur’s Seat for the first time in years (whilst listening to Vaughan Williams). The many joggers made me feel guilty, but I could get where I was going a lot quicker than them.

Back at the venue, I re-arrived to find the first band, Bikini Atoll, already onstage. A four-piece comprising singer/guitartist/bassist, bassist/guitarist, keyboard/synth player and drummer. A mighty sound they produced and it left me thinking “I wish my music sounded like that” (but then many bands I see have that effect – often when listening to other people’s music I feel like just giving up).

Second act was Josh Martinez, a Canadian rapper, with his un-named sidekick. This certainly made it an eclectic evening. They looked like the Simon & Garfunkel of rap – and in fact must have thought so themselves, as there’s a pastiche of the “Bookends” album cover on Josh’s website with the rap duo’s faces superimposed.

I don’t think anyone who was there to see Bikini Atoll or The Czars would’ve expected to have been subjected to a rap act – but they won the crowd over with their boundless enthusiasm and sense of humour.

Lastly, were The Czars, or rather The Czar, as singer and pianist John William Grant is appearing solo for the first eight dates of the Czars’ European tour as the rest of the band can’t make it over until mid May. On digging around the net, I've found that the original band, which has recorded all their CDs to date, has fallen apart and John's assembled a brand new version of The Czars to take things forward...

Tonight, the first night, he’s accompanied by a guitarist sourced by the record company who’s had just one day to learn the 15 or so songs in the set. He does a good job. It’s a very low-key set, every song is a slow one – but Mr Grant’s voice is superb and the performance quite excellent.

Later on when talking to him, he said that this was his first ever solo gig so he was very nervous – it didn’t show.

Although I’d gone along on my own, I bumped into Andy Thomson, fellow former member of the Out of the Bedroom committee and William Douglas, a regular singer at the club. After the gig I gave them a lift to a club for which William had free tickets. On the way we had an interesting discussion on John Grant’s situation. It appears he’s worked in a restaurant in Denver for the last ten years whilst carrying on his music career. They allow him unpaid leave to travel the world playing his music though.

William was struggling to see why it was that artists with artistic integrity always seem to have it hard whilst the less “good” artists seem to get all the cash.

I pointed out that, as with the current trend in the UK for people to buy the quite dreadful single “Is This The Way To Amarillo”, you have to be able to sell your music to people who buy very little music if you want to achieve high sales of a record,

Many who’ve bought the above single will not buy another CD all year. Thus artists with a certain amount of erm, art, to their art, will always struggle, as it’s seldom the case that their work will crossover into the mainstream (especially not without some element of compromise). Of course, as with any rule, there will always be the exceptions, but I think, generally, the above holds true.

Andy has a programme on the occasional Edinburgh Radio Station Leith FM and is going to London soon to visit his girlfriend. He offered to interview John down there and he accepted. I'd asked John about a 3" Cd single I have by the Czars of some film music they did a few years back and he said it was so rare, he didn't even have a copy - so I ended up offering to burn a copy of a CD for the artist who made it! I'll give it to Andy to pass on...

I dropped Andy and William off and headed home, noting the noise in the car was still there (having been told today on the phone by the garage that, in their view, even though come Monday they will attempt for a fifth or sixth time to fix it, the noise was “normal and acceptable” – arses….plus they haven’t even ordered the new dashboard to replace the one that’s had nipples added by their superb workmanship….don’t get me started!!!)

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Birthday years....

Today I had a number of tasks to carry out but only managed to complete one. I have to:-

1. Prepare the CD singles so they are available by the time I return to performing
2. Edit Ian Sclater’s session from Sunday and burn him a copy
3. Copy all the discs I borrowed from the library before I have to return them on Saturday
4. Compile and burn a three CD set for a friend who’s husband will celebrate his 50th birthday this weekend.

Time is tight as I’m going to see the Czars tomorrow and Laurie Anderson on Friday and may go to Out of the Bedroom on Thursday (but only if I can get task one done on time).

In the end my priority is number 4 as it has to be done by Thursday morning and I’m out tomorrow.

I’ve done a few of these one off CDs for friends on their birthdays but this is the biggest project (40 being the previous largest). I take one hit single from the month of the person’s birthday for each year from their actual birth to the present day – but without repeating any single artist. So I have to include one track more than the person’s age, if I’m counting their actual Date of Birth. So this is a 51 track set.

The recipients are always delighted with these personalised artefacts, the covers of which will normally include old photos of them at particular stages in their lives, which the person ordering the disc will have provided.

I feel I could make a lot of money out of this idea if I licensed all the tracks I’d ever use – it would mean licensing just one new track per month…..if you’re from the music industry reading this, I don’t really do this, I’m just thinking about it…and I don't copy anything I borrow from the library...

Monday, April 25, 2005

A Tendency to Persist...

I finalised the running order today for the seven EPs and then burned final versions of the tracks, including fade-outs and fade-ups as necessary.

1: Love and War/A Nice Job In A Small Town/Still We Doubt You/All The Flowers In The World Pt 2/A Tendency to Persist (edit 1)

2: The Crocodile Song/Medley - Short Story & The Biggest Fall/The Beauty of a Foreign Land/Down To The Beach/A Tendency to Persist (edit 2)

3: Half A Lifetime Away/Poppies/Keep Living/Dirty Men In A Red Car/A Tendency to Persist (edit 3)

4: Very Small/You Taught Me How To Love You/Deeper Down/Here Comes Mr Nice pt 1/A Tendency to Persist (edit 4)

5: The Gardener/Ten Twelve Seventeen/Snowfall/A Drop In The Ocean/A Tendency to Persist (edit 5)

6: Anything But Ill/Twenty Twenty Vision/One Last Show/The Western Edge/A Tendency to Persist (edit 6)

7: Where Are You/This Is All There Is pt 2/The Day You Went Away/Another Happy Day/A Tendency to Persist (edit 7)

Riveting blog entry - sorry...

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Session, Birthday, Finalisation….

As predicted, not feeling too great this morning after last night’s drinking session and the hottest starter this side of the surface of Mercury. Nonetheless, I had to get through a lot of work first thing to be at Ian Sclater’s for eleven for the second session of his solo CD. I just made it on time.

The session went well, we’ve made progress now on five of the proposed fifteen tracks. Ian wants me to get my nephew Andy Wilson in to play piano on a couple of tracks and I need to add some synth and stuff back at Crispycat Towers.

Back home at four and then round to Anne’s mum’s for our nephew Oliver’s fourth birthday tea. An Incredibles Cake appears to be the highlight of his day – that and me eating one of his new plastic insects….

Late on I listen again to the proposed EPs and decide to dump all the “Songs of the Sombre Reptiles” tracks. The very final format for the EPs (now reduced from 14 to 7), will be two “Deeperdown” songs, two live songs and an edit of the soundscape “A Tendency to Persist” which I used to open the “Fifty Five Songs” nights at the Waverley last year.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Man With The Exploding Head....

I didn’t go to bed till around three as I got caught up in reading comedian Richard Herring’s blog and his message board (

Consequently I got up late – well, late for me anyway - at 8:30. Anne and I caught the bus uptown on a day ticket as we were going to be heading in again tonight to meet up with her best friend Lynn and her partner, Ross for dinner - it’s Lynn’s birthday on Monday.

We had breakfast on George St and then I went to the Record Fair where I was to meet Alan Brodie at 11. Anne went off to do some shopping of her own.

I paid my pound and went in and, true to form Alan phoned around 11:25 to say he was running late. He arrived at 11:35 a wee bit worse for wear – he’d been up till 5 in the morning drinking wine with his flatmate and comparing the merits of Bob Ezrin’s productions of Lou Reed’s “Berlin” and Alice Cooper’s “Welcome to My Nightmare”.

The fair was better and busier than I expected and I had a good chat with my old friend Eric, one of the stallholders. He used to work with the legendary Bert Muirhead at Hot Wax. Bert was famous for his rudeness to customers – on the day Freddie Mercury died, Bert hid all his Queen stock in the basement and refused to sell it, telling customers that “if it wasn’t good enough to buy while Freddie was alive, you’re not F**k*ng getting it now he’s dead”. It was always entertaining to be browsing in the shop when someone took something to the counter to buy, or worse still was bringing back some faulty item or other – Bert would just knock the pish out them something rotten.

When I had my record shop, he’d sometimes pop in. On the other side of the counter, he was nice as pie. So I asked him, “Bert, how come you’re so rude to your customers?” His reply was “I was trained in the Post Office”?!!?

There are probably thousands of people around my age or a little bit older or a little bit younger, who owe a lot to Bert and to his long-suffering sidekick Eric, with regard to many a treasured gem in their record collection. Hot Wax (and, prior to that Ezy Ryder) is sorely missed on the Edinburgh Record Shop scene.

Anyway – at the fair, I bought a couple of classical discs – Bartok’s music for two pianos featuring one of my favourite pianists, the Argentinian, Martha Argerich, and, on Alan’s recommendation, Nielson’s Symphonies 1 & 6. Meanwhile Alan bought a “Walkie Talkie” by Air, the special edition with the DVD, a disc by Belle & Sebastian (he really should know better) and a 12” by Blancmange.

We met up with Anne and had lunch at Henderson’s Vegetarian Restaurant – expensive but tasty and wholesome, before Alan headed off on the train to Dundee to see his lovely young lady, Penny, who’s studying up there.

Back home, I worked on Ian Sclater’s music all afternoon as I have a session with him tomorrow and have to get a few CDs together for him.

In the evening we went back to town and met up with Lynn and Ross for what turned out to be quite a drunken night for me (which means I had more than 1.5 pints of lager).

We had Thai at the Muang Thai restaurant, coincidentally almost directly opposite Henderson’s on Hanover St. I asked for my starter of “Root Salad” to be “hot”. But I hadn’t bargained on the heat I got – sliced chillies, grated chillies, chilli seeds and indeed chilli juice all seemed to figure in the recipe!!

The others opted for more conventional starters while I sat with my head on fire…the main course was cool by comparison (mind you a vindaloo would’ve been cooler than my salad)

We each had a dessert too, the food was so good, and then went back to the bar we’d met at earlier for a few more drinks.

A night bus home saw us back at the house at 1.

I knew I’d have a hangover but I still needed to get up as earlier as possible to get everything packed up and ready for Ian’s session – and I still had some transferring of songs to CD for him and to burn his copies of The Big Word birthday party CD….

Friday, April 22, 2005

Opera, Soul, Jazz, The Wire and Fairs….

As I type I’m listening to a Philip Glass opera I bought today, “”the CIVIL wars – a tree is best measured when it is down”. I really like the juxtaposition of Glass’ minimalistic music score with the less conventional opera arias, which consist in the main of very long single notes. On top of this, there are cut-up spoken word excerpts, one of which is by Laurie Anderson. Apparently Glass’ work is part five of a huge operatic piece which was intended to be performed at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 but ran out of steam. This part is certainly impressive….

I also bought Freddie Hubbard’s “A Soul Experiment” from 1969. He recorded this with a band used to playing with Aretha Franklin and James Brown. It’s more soul than jazz (as the album title, and several song titles suggest) but a corker of an LP nonetheless – featuring some scorching trumpet from “Hub”. The recording of the album was sandwiched between his participation in the wild free jazz of Coltrane’s “Ascension” and his own big hit album, “Red Clay”, recorded for Creed Taylor’s CTI label, home too in the early 70’s of Deodato.

I think I have around 15 or so Freddie Hubbard CDs covering his output from the early 60’s to the mid 70’s and each and every one is a good album. Although not as great a progressive as Miles Davis perhaps, I believe he’s a better trumpet player…

…as too was, again perhaps, Lee Morgan, whose 1966 album “Charisma” I also bought today. Another great mid sixties Blue Note release, it features Jackie McLean, Hank Mobley, Cedar Walton, Paul Chambers (who died before the album was released) and Billy Higgins. What a sextet – a superb six track set this one.

Disappointment of the day was Archie Shepp’s 1972 effort, “The Cry of My People”. A “worthy” album championing Black Power but, as I mentioned recently, I feel vocals in jazz just don’t make it, man – a bit like brown shoes…Having said that, the first track, “Rest Enough” is probably worth the price of the CD on it’s own, so not a complete failure…

While picking up the discs to scan covers to upload, I also came upon the latest free CD from my subscription to “The Wire” magazine. It’s strap line is “Adventures in Modern Music” and it takes itself and its raison d’etre very seriously…a lot of the writing is hard going in its self reverential way, but since first subscribing around three and a half years ago, I’ve received around 40 free CDs of, at times quite startling, at times utter pish, new music. It’s an education.

Mr Alan Brodie, my oldest friend got in contact again today and we’re meeting up tomorrow at the record fair in Edinburgh, possibly with Dr Prog, though the latter couldn’t promise attendance. By coincidence, all three of us will be attending the Stockhausen concert next Saturday night…

Back in their heyday in the mid eighties, the record fairs used to be packed full of traders and punters alike – you literally couldn’t move at times they were so busy. In those days I had a stall selling live tapes, mainly radio broadcasts – I hated the audience tapes where all you could here was the crowd – it was from there that I progressed to the shop, Reptile Records in the 90s.

But nowadays, they are sad affairs with just a handful of die-hard stallholders and a pathetic number of customers rattling around a cavernous room. But we still go along to see if we can stumble across some long forgotten gem in the last few racks of goods on offer….

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Someone's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonite....

I practised three songs from "Deeperdown" today, fully intending to go along to Out of the Bedroom. "Crocodile Song", "Half A Lifetime Away" and "The Gardener" were all sounding pretty good. However, Anne came home and wanted me to stay around after being out earlier this week so I agreed to go along next week.

So that'll be The Czars on Wednesday, OOTB on Thursday, Laurie Anderson on Friday and Stockhausen on Saturday - a busy time. I'm probably still not quite ready to go back tonight anyway - I've not played live now for six months and my cold is still not fully gone - the Sudafed spray I've put up my nose is probably providing me with artificial bravado cold-wise.

Instead I spent the evening listening back to the 14 Deeperdown EPs which i burned this morning - I've decided not to tweak the live tracks but just leave them as is - while designing the artwork. I've retreated from the picture format I posted back at the start of March, as I wanted to do something with the words this time rather than pictures.

Below is the cover for what will be the third EP in the series, "Half A Lifetime Away". All fourteen covers will be the same format.

Next Thursday I'll definitely go to OOTB and do the first three songs (probably...).

Earlier this evening, there was a bit of a stramash outside the house as "The Black and White Cat With the Bell" returned to what is now "Meg The Black Cat"'s territory. Following an initial stand-off, a rather noisy catfight ensued, as the two of them rolled around the garden, hissing, spitting, yowling and scratching. Anne managed to separate them eventually as I stood by watching, dressed only in my shirt, underpants and open-toed sandals (the toe, remember?).

Unfortunately, Meg came off worse, which probably means "The Black and White Cat With the Bell" will turn up again on our outside window sill soon and Meg will move matters that little bit closer to us having to replace our inside window sill.....

Got my cholesterol test results today following the difficult blood-giving a couple of weeks ago - 6.7 - which means nothing on its own - but 5 is around normal while 8 or so means medication. So I need to cut out cakes, crisps, biscuits and dairy products - this could end up being a serious threat to my ovo-lacto vegetarianism....

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Madredeus, Skylines, 28 Minutes & The Big Word

Went to the Usher Hall and secured tickets for Anne and me to see Madredeus. My fears re possible cancellation were confirmed by the fact that I was able to get seats dead centre in the second front row. Not to worry – cue much listening to the music of Madredeus over the next few weeks.

At home I toyed again with the idea of returning to OOTB tomorrow and so ran through some songs. The CD Singles still aren’t ready so I though t I might play some stuff from “Anotherhappyday”.

I tried “I Re-Arranged The House”, one of the few songs I’ve written that I can actually play all the way through without reverting to a music & lyric sheet, “Skylines Full of Cranes” which is on the second OOTB CD “Open House” and “Another Happy Day”. The first two sounded good but I abandoned “AHD” half way through.

Last night Jamie told me a story about “Skylines”. On purchasing Jamie’s CD, Scott Renton, one of the new committee members at OOTB, had told him that, when he got it home, he was going to go straight to Jamie’s version of “Skylines” because Scott’s girlfriend, and her friend, had put together an entire dance routine for the song, acting out all the lyrics. Now that I’d like to see someday!

The cold’s a bit better now, so I may go along tomorrow but probably only to get an early slot, play and come home. I’ll probably do at least one of the “Deeperdown” songs.

The rest of the night was spent on two projects:-

Project 1. Finalising the track listings for the CD singles which now look like this:-

Deeperdown track
Live track
Soundscape Edit
Three tracks from the old “Songs of the Sombre Reptiles” series (Vols 1-4) which I recorded in the early 90’s and which are all now deleted.

The three "SOTSR" songs will be a “long” track, a “short” track and one to make the timing up to around 28 minutes.

I have timed each EP to last around 28 minutes. I don’t know why....

Project 2. Transferring the recordings of The Big Word on to CD. This involved listening back to the whole night and inserting track breaks. I decided to have each performer's entire set as one track. Ian would like to have everything on one CD but this is not going to be feasible as there’s around 110 minutes of material. I’ll give him the whole night on two discs and he can perhaps choose which poems to use. There’s a lot of swearing in there and the CD would have to bear some sort of warning sticker I feel. It was good to hear the poems again, and I found myself laughing out loud several times.

I'll give the discs to Ian on Sunday when we reconvene to record some vocals for his CD....

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Toe-fix, Orange Juice and Singer-Songwriters

At last something appears to be going right. My visit to the chiropodist (or podiatrist as she prefers to be called) seems to have been a success and my cold appeared to be on the wane. If you’re squeamish skip the next bit.

Turns out it wasn’t an in growing toenail, but it was a corn under my toenail that was causing all the pain. There was much cutting, gouging etc etc while I tried to keep up a merry banter with the lovely young lady. No anaesthetic for this procedure. I came a way with a dressed and sore toe but with hope for the future and word that I should be able to play football again by next Wednesday.

I probably won’t return until 11 May though as I’m hoping to go along to The Czars concert on 27 April while 4 May is my birthday and I’ll be out with Anne.

I called Jamie to ask if he wanted to come along with me to see Iona Marshall at the Out of the Bedroom Acoustica Night tonight. The answer came back in the affirmative and so I went to pick him up. Neither of us was drinking as I was driving and Jamie’s on painkillers for an unidentified arm injury, which has rendered him sleepless for the last few nights. We were able to compare notes on being tired as we supped on pints of fresh orange and lemonade.

We skipped the first act, Furious George (previously known as Willie Fyfe) as his music is not our cup of tea. Next up was Julie King. Julie is an act with a USP – she’s totally a Capella. However, she also sings with a rather overwrought fake American accent and uses the same guttural voice inflections so beloved of Britney Spears. 30 minutes of this was not exactly the greatest entertainment in the world. Her songs are good but a slightly different delivery would help them I think – perhaps even the use of a beat-box would inject a bit of variety into her set.

Of course I am always wary of making such pronouncements – let he who is without sin cast the first stone and all that. During the evening Jamie told me that, when CBQ (Me, Jamie and Jim Park) were doing a gig a couple of years ago, our old friend Donald Mitchell had come up with the comment, which I may well use as a strap line at some point –

“Dave Reilly – he makes Joy Division sound like Busted”

...well Julie King made me sound like Busted!!

Andy Patterson was third on, accompanied by a violinist. He sang good “storyteller” type songs – Jamie compared him to David Gates of Bread. Andy also plays a mean piano, which leads Jamie to bemoan the fact that he himself is rubbish on piano due to a lack of co-ordination.

During Andy’s set, a car outside, making a U-turn on the street, was ploughed into by a huge tourist bus, causing the audience to run to the window to check the commotion (later on a fire engine arrived to hose down the leaking fuel from the street).

Iona sang with her usual inimitable style and was accompanied for most of the set by her friend Lisa (no last name). I’d heard most of Iona’s songs before as I have a recording of the set she played for me last year at the Waverley during the festival. I had to agree with Jamie when he said Iona’s probably forgotten more chords than we know between us. She really is an extraordinary talent and I hope she makes it someday.

As with the Big Word last Thursday, the room was very smoky (even though attendance can’t have been any more than around 25) and I felt much the worse for wear when I got home just after midnight – my cold went into relapse and my toe was burning – I shouldn’t have gone out…..

But if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have discovered that one of my favourite bands, Madredeus (from Lisbon) are coming to the Usher Hall in Edinburgh at the end of May. I’m hoping it won’t be cancelled due to lack of ticket sales, as I’m sure hardly anyone here has ever heard of them.

Also I got to see John and Ali again for the first time since Anne and I were round at there’s for dinner. Ali’s voice is shot and she’s been ordered to stop singing for the foreseeable future – which is a bit of a bummer for a singer, to say the least!! I gave them some possible dates for a return visit to Crispycat Towers.

Jamie managed to flog a couple of his CDs tonight too – what a salesman.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Woke up this mornin'.....

No progress made on any projects today.

Booked the car in for tomorrow morning re the brake light (I don't class the car as a "project") and for 2 and 3 May re the elusive noises and the nipples.

Anne has made an appointment for me tomorrow at the choropodist re the toe.

An e-mail from old chum, Jim Park. He hopes I recover soon but suggests that I should use my misfortunes as subject matter for a blues tune.....

If I don't get a good sleep tonight I will be very, very tired by tomorrow morning having had very little sleep since last Wednesday night (sorry, that's not the blues tune, just the next part of the entry...).

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Nipple Alert

Feeling even worse today (up at 5:30 again). Went for breakfast to Patisserie Florentine with Anne...not at 5:30 obviously - we waited till 9:30...

On the way we discovered yet something else wrong with the car.

No…make that two things.

Firstly a brake light has failed. Access to it is so difficult that I’ll need to take it to the garage to have the bulb replaced!!

Secondly, on trying to listen more closely to the infernal noise from behind the dash, I noticed two small mounds, what I can only describe as “nipples”, sticking up out of the top of the part of the dash directly in front of the driver’s seat.

It appears the mechanics decided to tighten everything up with a little TOO MUCH vigour. Two of the screws have penetrated too far producing the nipplish lumps which I still cannot really believe are there.

I used to have an old car, a “P” reg Astra. It got me from A to B no problem. It didn’t cost hundreds of pounds a month just to have it. It wasn’t under warranty so we could take it to a local mechanic who actually knew what he was doing and who would fix any problem first time, every time at a reasonable cost. Aah, but it didn’t have an up to date number plate and it wasn’t shiny and black…..

Back at the house I spent all day selecting tracks, transferring them to the hard drive and putting together new versions of the 14 “Deeperdown” CD singles…

Other than that, I watched “Enterprise” and two episodes of “Law & Order : Criminal Intent” (the best thing on the box at the moment) back to back. Anne and I were both horrified that they’ve changed the tune…they can’t just change the tune, we said….the tune was one of the best bits (but we've kept the old tune at the end they said)...not good enough we said....

By bedtime I am feeling “rubbish” due to my infernal coughing, spluttering, sniffing, sneezing…and the bloody car’s nipples!!!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The man with the first TV remote....

Up at 5:30 as I can’t sleep with my head full of cold-gunk.

Today I need to go to the Post Office depot to pick up supplies of printer ink I ordered on Thursday morning, then I need to finish off Jamie’s CDs and take them round to his house.

Then I’m taking my mum to Paisley to see her old friends Pat and Charlie Horsburgh. I’ll have lunch there and then head for a browse around Byre’s Road. I’ll get a present for Anne I think. She’s staying home this time.

In the two and half hours it's taken to get to this point from the start of Wednesday's entry, I’ve had the following entertaining me on the Jukebox:-
The Beloved
The Doors (reminds me of a poem from Thursday by Steven Bellamy about a parallel universe where bands were exactly like their names – The Doors weren’t very popular live)
Oh Susanna
The Blue Nile
Allan Holdsworth
Ian Hunter (reminds me a couple of gigs coming up, Ian Hunter in mid May and The Czars are playing Tryptich, the same festival as Stockhausen and Laurie Anderson - so that'll be three concerts in three nights)
Adrian Belew
Bruford Levin Upper Extremities
Miles Davis
King Crimson
CPE Bach
Grand Funk Railroad
Richard Shindell
State One (Trance Nation Harder)
Alice Cooper
Laurie Anderson
Joe Henderson
The Velvet Underground
Pet Shop Boys
Mahavishnu Orchestra
King Crimson (again)
Jason Falkner (from Jellyfish)
Andrew Hill
Simon & Garfunkel
Alex Harvey
Joe Henderson (again)
Brian Eno
Four Tet
The Tubes
Alice Cooper (again)

Things to do perhaps....Iona Marshall sent me an e-mail to say she’s playing two gigs soon, April 19 and 28. The latter clashes with Stockhausen but I’ll try and make the 19th. Iona’s first ever full length set was as a guest during the fifty five songs series and she was quite brilliant, holding the audience in rapture.

Also I need to make up a CBQ ambient/electronica CD for Phil Weizen (Dr Prog) as he’s into that at present. Transferring all the CBQ discs of this ilk to the hard drive will make this an easy task.

Back to the Paisley visit....Pat and Charlie are a nice couple – I’ve known them ever since I can remember as they lived in the same street I grew up on. My mum and Pat were schoolfriends I think and my dad and Charlie got on really well too – it may just have been coincidence that the two couples ended up living on the same street. Charlie’s been quite ill recently (I think he's around 78) but is determined to get through it. He was second top solicitor for Glasgow District Council apparently and the first person my mum ever new who had a remote control for his TV.

It wasn’t that remote though as it was connected by a cable.

He is definitely a gadget man – just as my dad was in his day.

I left the oldies to chat and went off to Glasgow’s West End and visited Fopp (bought Harold Budd’s “The Pavilion of Dreams”, Miles Davis’ “Miles in Tokyo” and a book of “Graphic Design for the 21st Century”..

In the Arcade off Byre’s Road I bought “Lost and Found” a collection of demos, live recordings and rehearsals by David Byron recorded a couple of years before he died. He was the first and best singer in Uriah Heep.

I also found two albums from last year – a live set by John Wetton, featuring King Crimson’s “Starless” and UK’s “In The Dead Of Night” and “Tant de belles choses” by Francoise Hardy which seems to be the best thing she’s done for over thirty years.

Finally, I brought back two books for Anne - a novel by Lynne Truss (of “Eats Shoots and Leaves” fame) and a gardening book. Anne proclaims the gardening book as one of the best she’s seen and that the Truss book was one she’d been wanting to get....I have done well....

Friday, April 15, 2005

Contact, Smoke and Cold

I’ve been in touch with the other Creek guys recently. 

 Stuart e-mailed me asking about my toe. 

Alan left a message on my voicemail saying we should do lunch (first I’ve heard from him since December, which was the first I’d heard from him for about 3 months too). 

And I had to call Craig today because he’s inadvertently blacklisted my e-mail address so I can’t mail him any updates for the Crispycat site. 

So contact, but no music. 

Craig is in the finishing stages of his 5 track EP which will also have a re-mix disc. We’ll put it out through Crispycat, because he is a collaborator and I’ll be working on one of the remixes. 

My cold really kicked in today after last nights smoking session. I often get bad colds/flu which seem to have no discernable source. This one started around Tuesday morning but wasn’t too bad till last night.

Today I listened to the November demos of “Deeperdown” 3 or 4 times to help with the new demos I’m doing for second guitar lines and synth parts. 

I spent around six hours in the studio today after reassembling it following the mobile recording yesterday. 

I recorded 2nd guitar parts for all 14 songs and then ran through the whole album adding synth ideas.

Quite a productive day and the songs sound a lot more “whole” now there’s another guitar there.

Of course I’ll need to do it all again – this was just to get the ideas down on disc. 

Felt rotten re this cold and finally went to bed around 12:30 am

Thursday, April 14, 2005

No Man is an Island...except the Isle of Man

Here are my notes on the performers tonight at The Big Word. NB all the performers were a lot funnier than described below!

Robin Cairns – tells what are brilliantly funny stories in a broad accent. One was about people from Glasgow ripping everyone off and another about a young lad misunderstanding all the double entendres used by his parents, aunts and men on the bus…

Viv Gee – Short observational pieces about relationships – one superb piece highlighting the different way we speak, from baby talk thru to geriatric baby talk…

Richard Allen – a scouser with a wicked tongue – great poem asking for peace by, basically, calling for us to fuck everything – and maybe once all the things stopping us from having peace have been well and truly fucked, we’ll be able to achieve Peace on Earth…

Mark Thomson – intensely proud of his Dundee accent and dialect..

Alasdair Finlay – Sex, death and football…

Steven Barnaby – a man who’s every “poem” has no rhymes and is exactly 50 words long. Thanks to him for the title of this entry. John Donne – great poet – rubbish at Geography says Steven!

Tracy Patrick – from my erstwhile home, Paisley. Her poems were of a more social realist nature but enjoyable nonetheless

Milton Balgoni – A disturbing, menacing poem called “See Me? I’m Elvis” which scared the young ladies in the first row, and a hilarious impersonation of Robert Burns in “Ode to My First Vindaloo”…

Michael McGill – Like a star from “Cabaret”, Michael lit up the stage with his stream of consciousness, half sung, half spoken, full of action performance. Excellent!

Ash Dickinson – performed a quite moving yet still funny piece about a girl taking The Moon to a party as her boyfriend…

Jem Rolls – performed a piece that went down well in Scotland – about how the English turn everything into “We Won”. He even managed to work out that the English actually won the American War of Independence – because George III and the majority of his troops were German and the settlers were, in the main, English. A victory over Germany made it twice as good for the stupid English. Jem is English btw.

Jenny Lindsay – two standouts were “The Nasties” about the threatening people you might meet as a young girl walking home along Glasgow’s Sauchiehall St instead of getting a taxi. And one about how lazy music journalism turns people who are obviously in need of help into icons – but only after they’re dead.

So that as a good night but, man, the SMOKE in there.

I felt like I’d smoked a hundred fags – roll on the ban – it can’t come quickly enough for me.

Met up with Anne and Lynn and brought them home – both pished – whole bottle of wine each.

Listened back to around a third of the recording from tonight and it sounds OK despite the inevitable popping which will occur if you give a mike to a performing poet…

I recorded it for Ian Sclater’s magazine “Instant”, a coffee house publication full of reviews of and ads for lovely looking places you’d really want to go and have a coffee in. Plus travel, music, art, household etc. A great read – and free too. Once a sponsor for the project is found, my recordings will appear on a covermounted CD.

Now I need to edit it all down to an 80 minute disc.

Ian and I invented an expanding CD storage system tonight for people with too many CDs who, when they buy a CD by an artist who’s name begins with “M” have to spend two hours moving all their other CDs to get it in the right place.

I have a bad cold now and the smoke didn’t help….

The Return of the Forgetting Man...

If only I took the time to read the “News” articles on my own Website, I would have realised I was to record the Fourth Birthday Party of The Big Word Performance Poetry Club tonight…..but I didn’t.

No – I had to have my memory jogged by a small article in a free newspaper I was reading on the bus while heading into town after dropping off the car at the garage (see below!!). So I suppose getting the car “fixed” did, after all, have an upside. I was fully intending to go along to Out of the Bedroom tonight to play a few songs.

All change.

In town today I purchased the remaining three of the four Deodato CDs in the £3 section at FOPP. I listened to them on the bus on the way back to the garage. They’re not really that great to be honest. Unlike the first one I bought, which was recorded in 1973, these are all from the mid sixties and are VERY cheesy Latin Hammond Organ led albums. Oh well.

Back home with the car (see below!!), I dismantle the studio and pack what’s required into a bag. I head for the Tron Tavern, where The Big Word is held every fortnight, giving Anne a lift to meet her oldest and bestest friend, Lynn, who she’s meeting for some drinks and a pizza…

I’m set up and ready to record by 8:30 and at 9 the night kicks off.

It’s a wee bit like stand up comedy at times – but with much more attention paid to the words used.

In all twelve poets performed and they were all excellent – as you’d imagine seeing as they were the two regular comperes, Jem Rolls and Jenny Lindsay plus the cream of those who’ve performed at the club over the last four years (see next post for more...)

The Car Is Fixed (quote unquote)

Took the car to be fixed today.

Everytime the same scenario (after wasting an hour of my day getting the car there and getting into town on “public transport”):

Me: “Is it fixed?”
Them : “Why certainly, absolutely, no question about it, we found the fault and we fixed it”
Me : “OK then, I’ll come and pick it up” (wastes another hour getting out to the Godforsaken hurricane ravished outskirt of Edinburgh on “public transport”)

…and every bloody single time the same result. “Here’s the car, happy motoring (without being driven mental by the strange noises from under your dashboard)”

I drive away from the forecourt – manned, due to the late hour, by the car hire bloke as opposed to anyone who knows anything about cars (ha! As if there actually is EVER anyone there who does!!) – and lo and be-bloody-hold – there’s that noise again first time I go over the smallest imperfection in Edinburgh’s frankly les than perfect driving environment….


Now will I phone them again – can I be ARSED?? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Toe Update

Colin Asquith from the Footie called me today to ask if I was up for a game tonight. Several people have e-mailed recently asking about my big toe. Here’s an update….it’s still giving me jip. Therefore I reluctantly declined the big man’s offer. I’m still hoping the situation will resolve itself but it’s looking more and more like at least £135 of my hard earned cash is going to go into getting the old toe fixed and made good as new – though, if it’s anything like our car, I’ll come out the chiropodist’s with exactly the same fault…

Reading sometime CBQ percussionist Jim Park (now comedian of this parish)’s blog ( I find he’s won £500 on a premium bond….maybe he’d like to chip in for my toe surgery??

Tonight Anne was at the local football derby, Hearts v Hibs. Hearts won the first half 1-0 but appear to have gone into comedy football mode in the second half and Hibs ran out winners of the whole game 2-1.

Suffice to say Anne was “sick as a parrot” as opposed to being “over the moon”.

While Anne was away, I spent some time compiling the, what may well turn out to be, fictitious CBQ “Deeperdown” CD singles. This involved transferring 14 of my back catalogue ambient albums on to the hard drive – well I did the first six.

Further to previous posts, I’m now going to go with the soundscape track being an edit from one of these CDs. The archive tracks will be the studio versions of the live tracks from the “Fifty Five Songs” recordings [during the Edinburgh Festival last year I played five Wednesdays and performed 55 different songs over the nights]. The live tracks need a wee bit of a tweak to be presentable but at the end of the night, I had the first six singles compiled and burned to demo discs for listening.

During breaks in the compilation, I rehearsed a potential set for OOTB tomorrow night – now consisting of the lead tracks from the first three singles.

Tomorrow the car goes back to be “fixed” (ha ha).

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Burning….and the agenda

No work on “Deeperdown” today as I spend my time pressing up James Jamieson CDs.

Later on I do run through a possible three song set for Thursday night. I still have the CD single project at the back of my mind. I’m thinking I might have some new soundscapes brewing as “Where Are You” last night turned into a long soundscape...

So the CD singles would now be:-
1. Deeperdown studio track
2. Fifty-Five songs live track
3. Otherwise unavailable archive studio track
4. New soundscape

Ultimately all the lead tracks would form the “Deeperdown” album (although they’d be different versions probably) while the soundscapes would be the next CBQ ambient CD, follow up to last year’s “04 04 04”.

That sounds like a plan….

Monday, April 11, 2005

A long hard slog ahead…

Today I spent another few hours working out synth and electric guitar parts for the songs for “Deeperdown”. It’s a slow process. I only really worked on two songs but did come up with at least one good synth part. Nothing recorded as yet.

I may play at Out of the Bedroom this week. Jamie wants to go along and promote his album. So maybe we’ll both be along….

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Out of hand silences...

There was me thinking I'd do some work on the new album today - I'd totally forgotten I was going to Glasgow for Hearts v Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final.

An enjoyable game but rather unfortunate for the Jam Tarts in losing a goal in the first couple of minutes of each half. They fought well though, came back with a stunning goal by Cesnauskis and controlled the game for much of the second half but it was never going to be their day alas.

The reports of the play were overshadowed by media hype re the non-observance of a minute (well 23 seconds actually) of silence for Pope JP II. They reported sectarian chanting during the 23 seconds but I only heard booing and jeering to be honest - although some of the songs being sung during the match by both sets of supporters were definitely sectarian - but that's the nature of football crowds in a country divided by religious bigotry (which I think may well stem from the stupidity of denominational schooling and enforcing religion, rather then the study of religions, in schools).

It's only a game though and it was pretty stupid to hold a minute's silence for a religious leader..what a coincidence that only one half of the bigotrous duopoly had a game during the official mourning period.

Silences are getting well and truly out of hand.

Back home we had a get together at Anne's mum's house for her brother Keith's birthday. He's just a couple of weeks older than me and has found his niche, as it were, with his new partner Maureen - couldn't have happened to a nicer chap!! Much cake was consumed and alchohol drunk in his honour....

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Opinionated, Coke addled, Music Addicted, Re-Recording Fool....

The car is due to be fixed on Thursday – no more about that now. Uptown I meet up with Dr Prog, Mr Phil Weizen, at the music library.

Amongst other items, he hires box sets of 30 Trojan compilation CDs of reggae music and of the complete works of The Grateful Dead, 1967-1973 – supposedly their best period. He opines that he’s heard great things about this band but has not been overly impressed by what he’s heard thus far via downloads. I advise him that, in my opinion, they are in fact a vastly over-rated boogie band who struck it lucky by being in the right place at the right time.

This leads me to another subject which has raised its head today. On the message board at Out of the Bedroom, I have made some derogatory remarks about “The Blues”. I have been castigated re this. So I borrow some “Blues” from the library, and my previous opinion of them is verified by a listening session – the same chord sequence over and over and over again, song after song. It’s ok for one or two tracks, but how can anyone listen to this music for any length of time and still profess to enjoy it – unless they really have no knowledge of what else is out there?

In addition to the Blues, I borrow Iannis Xenakis’ “Chamber Music 1955-1990”, which includes all the pieces Phil and I heard in March at the Queen’s Hall. Along with this, I have taken a Stockhausen disc, “Tierkreis” (“Zodiac”) and Volume 2 of Morton Subotnick’s Electronic Works, “Sidewinder/Until Spring”. Bringing up the rear, an ECM disc of Schumann string quartets by the Zehetmair Quartet, a great CD by The Album Leaf called “In A Safe Place” and a Tangerine Dream collection called “Dream Sequence” which is no longer available.

Sadly, disc one of this is quite badly damaged – Phil and I wonder why it is that so many of the discs at the library are in such bad condition – I mean, who borrows Xenakis and chucks it about their house like a Frisbee, scratching it to smithereens??

Purchases today are Brad Mehldau’s “Art of the Trio Vol 1”, Martin Gore of Depeche Mode’s covers album “Counterfeit 2” (which includes exceptional takes on tracks by the likes of Brian Eno, Lou Reed, Led Zeppelin and David Essex), “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” an ambient conception of Jazz by the Swiss Alto-Sax player, Christoph Merki and “Town Hall Concert” by Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Henderson and Tony Williams – a recording of the concert which took place in New York in 1985 to mark the relaunch of the Blue Note label.

This afternoon I purposefully reassemble the Crispycat Studio and proceed to start writing and rehearsing synth and electric guitar parts for CBQ’s “Deeperdown”, vowing to work on it seriously this week after almost five months of procrastination.

I’d forgotten how much I enjoy playing the electric guitar, and a good three hours is spent jamming along to existing demo backing tracks. I think though that I’m going to have to start the album from scratch so don’t hold your breath for a release date!

In the evening we head to Armadale to where Julia, ex-mother of Meg the Black Cat, has invited us for dinner. Once again we get lost on the way – merely by following the signs for Armadale – but arrive around 10 minutes later than planned – which is better than the hour or so’s delay on our last visit.

Julia’s in good form, knocking together the meal before our very eyes – a tasty starter salad of grated celeriac with tomato, olives and spring onion on a bed of chicory leaves, with her own home made dressing comprising orange and lemon juice with virgin olive oil, a touch of honey, grated ginger and some mustard.

The main course is home made enchiladas with exactly the right amount of hot chillis included. Julia and Anne down copious amounts of wine while I partake in a couple of bottles of full-fat Coca-Cola. Julia’s assertion that the savouring of CC is best done from the original bottles, is surprisingly borne out by my experience….

After the usual drunken setting of the world to rights, including Julia’s theory that the people who culled the population at age 30 in “Logan’s Run” were getting it right, we leave for home around 11:30 as we need to get up early tomorrow to travel to Glasgow, hopefully to witness Hearts dumping Celtic out of the Scottish Cup – it’s a 12:15 kick off…..

List Writing, Cat Saving, CD Transferring, Insomniac...

After the drinking last night, I wake at 4:10 am and immediately restart the Blue Note CD on my player. Meg the black cat is awake of course and jumps on me as Anne lies asleep.

After around 30 minutes, I realise I’m not going to get back to sleep so, at 4:50, I’m up and making some coffee. I let Meg out the catflap and select the latest CDs I’ve bought to transfer them to the Jukebox. I am, as usual, wearing headphones and listening to my Walkman which plays the Takemitsu disc purchased yesterday.

I’ve now obtained just over 100 CDs since 1 January 2005. This year is the 20th anniversary of my first CD purchase (Brian Eno’s “Thursday Afternoon”) and I am approaching my 4,000th disc. For fun (well my idea of fun anyway, I am a compulsive list writer) I analyse the first 100 CDs of 2005:-

35% Single Artist non-Jazz or Classical Discs
30% Jazz
18% Various Artist Compilations
10% Classical
5% Single Artist Compilations
2% CD Singles

Anyway, I’m happily sitting at the computer, transferring discs and surfing the net when I hear the very, very loud caterwalling that signals to me that the Black & White Cat With The Bell has arrived at the front window.

I dash downstairs, forgetting I have headphones on – these are ripped from my head and clatter to the ground – I manage to grab Meg and put her into the hall – from where she nips out the cat flap to resume her caterwalling in the front garden! It’s 5:00 am.

I can’t remember where I put my keys when I arrived home after the Staropramen incident. After much searching around in various pockets and under the ubiquitous “pile of stuff” on the bed in the back room, while the racket outside continues, I finally find them in my bag.

I run downstairs again and get the front door open to chase the Black & White Cat With The Bell away and Meg runs inside. I shut the living room door so she can’t claw the window sill in there to pieces as I’m sure the Black & White Cat With The Bell will return.

And so it’s back to the computer.

Funnily enough, Anne is now up and wants to know what’s going on – I give her the story but she’s still half-asleep so she probably doesn’t get what I’m saying – she wanders off back to bed and Meg the Black Cat settles down beside me.

Now it’s 7:45, all CDs are transferred and I’m heading for the garage…..

Friday, April 08, 2005

Annoying Car; CD Buys; Alchohol Intolerance

A drive into town confirms our worst fears – the car is NOT fixed. An opportunity for a solution arises though - despite my stating that I can’t be ARSED getting it seen to again – when the nice chap from the garage actually phones me today to ask if all is ok.

As he probably suspected I would, I respond in the negative. So he invites me to go along tomorrow morning first thing (8 am) to take their mechanic out for a drive to demonstrate exactly from where the curious and annoying noise is coming.

Reluctantly, I agree, pointing out though that I did this back in December, at which point, rather tha addressing the noise I was hearing, they fixed a strange noise in the door, only to render it unopenable properly, unless opened very gingerly indeed (this problem has been fixed this time round though).

Picked up a few bargains today at FOPP – another excellent Blue Note compilation for a measly £3 – “A Blue Conception – Let Freedom Ring” – it features the likes of Andrew Hill, Jackie MacLean, Grachan Moncur III and Cecil Taylor. I also bought a Naxos disc of Toru Takemitsu’s chamber music. Both these discs are definitely in the category “Music for Listening”.

Background music is provided nicely by a 1973 Brazilian release from Eumir Deodato “Os Catedraticos 73” one of four in the £3 bin at FOPP – I will be returning for the other three I feel.

Lastly, for just £1, I picked up the Associates release from 1981 “Fourth Drawer Down”. A coincidence in two ways as Ian Sclater (next recording session now booked for 17 April) was their first manager, and has some very funny stories about Billy MacKenzie and Alan Rankine to tell – and my collaborator, Jamie (James Jamieson New Album “Precious” out now – plug plug) is the world’s biggest Associates fan.

I really should not drink alchohol….three pints of Staropramen tonight and I’m zonked and will feel bad tomorrow morning no doubt. In bed by 10:30 producing zzz’s a plenty with some uneasy listening Blue Note jazz on the cans….

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Dedication, Consternation, Trepidation, Procrastination

I've realised I'm not much of a dedicated musician - I've been keeping this blog for just over a month now and can see from reading it over, that I've probably only worked on my music around five times (if that) in a whole month. Pathetic, considering these are supposed to be the musings of Mr Quartet, MUSICIAN and artist!!

I spoke to Jamie today to finalise a deal with him to produce a reasonable quantity of his album for him to punt about. He mentioned he might head to Out of the Bedroom tonight, but only to watch, not to play. By the time he's collected his kids, Conrad and Madison, from whatever activity they're up to tonight, and bathed them and put them to bed, he won't be able to get there early enough for a slot.

I explained I had to go and pick up the car tonight (wonder of wonders - it's fixed completely - according to the garage that is - I remain to be convinced) but I might go along to play. I've changed the key for "The Crocodile Song" (written with my nephew, Andy Wilson - new father at just 18!!) and it's sounding rather good.

By the time I get home though - disappointed that the car appears to be not quite as fixed as I'd like but frankly i can't be ARSED taking it back yet again - it was gone 7 and, these days, you have to get along to OOTB by 7:30 to be sure of a slot, even though the night doesn't start till around 9.

So, one curry and a few glasses of red wine later, I've decided against OOTB and I'm sitting at the computer transferring my Blue Note compilations, the Janacek piano sonatas disc and the two Mick Ronson CDs into the Jukebox - and writing this blog.

When I got home, I did run through a quick three song set of "The Crocodile Song", "Very Small" and "Where Are You", which led me to ponder on how much time I'd actually spent last month working on the new album - the answer is of course a big fat zero!

Unperturbed, i've dug out a CD I bought last May of JS Bach's oboe concertos and it's top notch. Naxos is a great label - £4.99 each and what a wide selection of composers' works they offer. Then the best of the four Blue Note compilations, "Deep Blue - The United States of the Mind" - although I have to say that for me, vocals have NO place in jazz and so I've not transferred any of the tracks featuring singers/rappers/spoken word. Horace Silver's "I Had a Little Talk" is a particularly good example of an excrutiatingly embarrasing jazz track, wholly down to the use of a vocalist....

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Disappointing, Low-Key Day

What a disappointing day. After calling yesterday to check on how the garage was getting on with our car, I was confident it'd be fixed and ready for collection this evening. Turns out nothing's been done on it at all today because the lubricant they needed for the rear suspension didn't arrive.

Suffice to say I was less than complimentary to the unfortunate chap I "spoke to" and told him in no uncertain terms I wasn't happy that I'd been carless for a day while nothing had been progressed and that whatever work they did do I certainly wouldn't be paying for!

He promised to call tomorrow and give me an update, confident as he was that all would be sorted out.

In the evening, I loaded a few albums into the jukebox and cheered myself up a little when I accidentally tuned into "Die Hard 2" - even though I'd seen it before, it's always good to see the bad guys getting their comeuppance.

"Die Hard 4 - Revenge of the Motorist" coming soon....

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Body Mass Ratio, Traffic and Mental Health...

You may recall I forgot to make appointments for the doctor and the mechanic. Well, I finally remembered to make them last week at some point.. But I foolishly made them for the same day, at roughly the same time.

That’s why I had to deliver the car to the garage last night – so I’d be able to get to the doctor on time today.

As you’ll know from the descriptions of my current footballing ability (compared to that which I enjoyed in the past), I am what I like to think of as “slightly overweight”. Indeed, I am able to maintain this façade quite well, just as long as I don’t catch sight of myself in a shop window or mirror. Then I realise what all the facts are telling me is true.

I am obese.

My “body mass ratio” is greater than 30 – apparently 20-25 is normal, 25-30 is fat and over 30 is obese. You can work your own BMR out by – for you oldies out there- firstly, converting your weight to kilos and your height to metres. To find your BMR you multiply your height in metres by itself and divide this into your weight in kilos. Try it – it’s fun. I know quite a few people who look skinny as rakes, yet are deemed “fat” or “obese” by the BMR method.

Anyway, I need to lose weight big style, and have been needing to do it for quite some time. I was getting a blood test today (the doctor had to spike both my arms before he could find any!) and will get the results in a week or so’s time. I don’t qualify for medication as I’m not fat enough and my cholesterol levels aren‘t high enough so I need to rely on will power, of which I have virtually none. But I need to do it.

I think the easiest way for me to lose weight would be to be hit by traffic and be in a coma for six months – obviously only if there were no other side effects of having been in a coma, other than weight loss, and obviously as long as my contretemps with the traffic didn’t hurt….

I also had to consult the physician re my possible in growing toenail scenario and he advised it was likely I would need "work" done on my nail by a chiropodist.

He advised it would be £35 for the “expert” to “take a look” and around £100 for the "expert" to slice off part of my nail in the hope that it would then grow normally.

So I am out of the football squad for a couple of weeks at least, to allow the inflammation to subside and then, I may need to take out a bank loan to pay for foot surgery…or perhaps spend a bit less on CDs…

Often when I’m browsing in music shops that little voice inside my head says, “why don’t you go home and listen to some of the CDs you’ve got there?”. That’s what happened today when I was longing to buy a classical CD – any classical CD. I didn’t. I’ve not even listened to the CDs I bought in Glasgow on Saturday.

I am quite obviously mentally ill….

Monday, April 04, 2005

An Anniversary and The Transport Debate

Today would have been my Mum and Dad’s 50th anniversary but my Dad died in June 2003. I think my mum’s struggled to come to terms with this. That seems a bit of a daft thing to say.

Anyone would struggle to come to terms with losing the person with whom they’d shared almost their whole life. Anyway, I phoned her to wish her a kind of Happy Anniversary.

This day last year, I recorded my last ambient CD “04 04 04” and I also have a track on a CBQ ambient/electronic CD from 1999, “Betonmusik”, called “April 4, 1955” in their honour.

Although my Mum can recognise the music of Fripp & Eno at 50 paces, I don’t think she is a great fan of ambient or electronic music. I got my love of music from my Dad. My life would have been a lot different without that….

On a more mundane level, I took our car to the garage tonight for it to be worked on tomorrow. The garage is in a very out of the way part of Edinburgh and I ended up walking all the way home. Buses kept going past me while I was in between stops – I’m sure you will have noticed this phenomenon at some point in your life.

It took seven minutes to drive to the garage and ninety minutes to walk back. Even using the various bus routes available would not have brought me home much earlier.

This is why public transport fails….it doesn’t take me from my house to my mechanic’s garage and back without stopping….

Sunday, April 03, 2005

France, Cuba and…Bearsden

A good night last night with Martin and Michelle. Anne’s Veggie Lasagne and individual Banoffee Pies went down a treat as did a good few of bottles of wine. I had a couple of beers then went on to Diet Coke after Friday’s shenanigans. Turned out Marty was rather hungover too.

Highlights of the night were the tales of M&M’s four pet rats (all females) Biscuit, Raisin, Peanut and of course Buttons….you can’t forget Buttons. They all live together in a big cage in the spare room and seem to have rather a lot of adventures. I think someone could make a kids’ TV programme about them no problem.

Got to bed around two in the morning again, but no headache this morning – just as well as we were driving to Glasgow.

Recently, my mum has become less confident in her driving capabilities (some of us were actually never confident of them) and so Anne and I have been taking her through and bringing her home from a couple of friends places on the West Coast

She arrived at the house around eleven and we set off for Glasgow, or to be more accurate, Bearsden, just north of Glasgow, to visit old friends Lex and Moira. Mozart’s “Haydn String Quartets” accompanied us on the journey.

My mum and dad met the Patersons whilst on holiday in the early sixties, 1964 or 65 I think and reciprocal visits have been a fixture of the calendar ever since. Their daughter, Lindsay became a top European Lawyer but gave it all up a couple of years ago to set up a Gite near Avignon in the South of France with her husband, Guy. Lex and Moira have a million stories about the place.

We arrived at twelve and lunch was set for one. Our intention was to head into Glasgow and then come back and pick mum up later on. But Moira and Lex have just been to Cuba on holiday and their entertaining stories of how things seem to work in that strange country allowed us to lose track of time until we found it was already three.

Anne and I drove to Byre’s Road at Hillhead and took the Clockwork Orange (Subway) into the City Centre. Considering I visit Fopp and HMV Record Shops almost everyday in Edinburgh, I suppose it’s a bit sad that those two businesses were two of only three (ahem, the other was Missing Records) I visited whilst Anne went clothes shopping. She bagged a couple of hats and some kind of white cardigan with holes in it.

I picked up four Blue Note compilations in Fopp and the two Mick Ronson solo albums released in his lifetime - “Slaughter on 10th Avenue” (which I originally bought in February 1974 from The Record Exchange in Edinburgh for £2.10 upon its release) and “Play Don’t Worry” (which I obtained in a record shop in Germany whilst on a school exchange in 1976). I have both those albums on CD already. Aah, but these new pressings have more bonus tracks.

After an extremely LARGE coffee (Latte Vente) in Starbucks, we got the train back to the car and arrived back in Bearsden around 6:30. I thought we’d be heading home, but there was more food and refreshments and more stories to be told. They really are a young couple for their age – I actually don’t know how old they are, probably mid to late sixties but they seem a lot younger than my mum. Moira’s tales of her various computer courses were funny – I said she ought to get herself a blog!

We left around 9:40 and took a slightly shorter route home, then my mum drove home from our house and Anne and I had a reasonably early night - I fell asleep with Mick Ronson on my headphones....

Saturday, April 02, 2005

I bought this Janacek CD on Friday - it's really rather good

Ow Ya! Why Does My Head Hurt So Much??

Another memorable awards night last night for the MBFives. I thought I’d collated all the votes and prepared all the comments by cutting and pasting them from the e-mails received from the players when, late on, I received a mail from Martin Evans in Israel, who, like me and Jim Park, is one of the original footballers from way back in the early eighties.

Until I received Martin’s votes, we were headed for quite a few secret ballots on the night to decide tied categories, but his votes settled all but two of those. I blended Martin’s votes and comments in with what I’d already prepared and then came one last late ballot entry from Euan Sinclair. His votes settled the last two remaining ties.

So I arrived at the venue at 7:30 to find just one other member of the troup there. We didn’t start the ritual reading of the comments until around 8:45 by which time ten players had shown up – me, Jim Park, Nigel Simpson, Colin Asquith, Euan Sinclair Mick Moynihan, Paul and Dom Grillo, Gordon Cooke, and a guy called Liam who I’d not met before because the group plays three or four games every week, with some people playing in them all while others, like me, may only play in one.

The money collected each time there’s a game is usually slightly more than necessary and so, over time, a slush fund builds up. Jim famously once put the entire fund on a horse to try and boost our finances – and lost the lot.

Tonight there was enough to keep the drink flowing all evening and we had a great laugh. Jim Park, me and Stu Whittle will all now have awards named after us after we each won particular categories for a third time in a row – a bit like Brazil getting to keep the Jules Rimet trophy in 1970.

Jim won the Coventry City Away Strip 1987 Award for Worst Dressed Player, I won the Statue of Stanley Matthews Award for Most Static Player and Stu, who wasn’t there but whom we texted re his triumph, won the award for Player Most Likely to Shoot and Hit the Roof. Nigel would have the award for person most likely to e-mail anyone about anything named after him after winning it for a third time - but it's already named after him.

Euan Sinclair was player of the year, by dint of receiving three awards - best dressed player, worst goalkeeping gaffe and being the main element in the event of the year – he ripped open his finger right to the bone one night as he tried to jump over a fence to retrieve a lost ball and got his ring caught on part of the fence – ow ya!!

We were finally asked to leave the pub around midnight and I was ready to head home. But Mick and Colin decided it’d be good to get some more drinks (as if I wasn’t drunk enough – it only takes two pints to send me over the edge and I was slurring rather badly by this time). So Me, Jim, Mick, Colin, Gordon Cooke and Liam headed down Leith Walk.

The pub we chose to make for turned out to be shut, but like the true alchies we are, we homed in on another with its lights on. We had a few more drinks and set the footballing world, and quite a few other worlds to rights while Gordon and I compared tracks on our Jukeboxes – he has an I Pod. After the ubiquitous visit to the Chippie, we hailed a cab. I eventually rolled in out of the taxi around two in the morning very much the worse for wear, having dropped off Jim and Colin on the way back to Crispycat Towers.

Man, did I have a stonker of a headache this morning? Oh yes indeedy. Four 400mg Ibuprofen tablets only eased the pain slightly and it took me at least three separate attempts to get myself up and ready for the day ahead (by which time it was half over). It’s now 5:30 and the overall effects of the celebrations are still taking their toll.

We have Martin and Michelle coming round tonight for dinner. Martin’s the IT Guru who put together our new computer and Michelle’s his fiancé. We’ve known them both for probably about five years but this is the first time they’ve been to ours for a meal.

Anne’s preparing the food and is in great spirits as Hearts have just thrashed Celtic 2-0 at Parkhead – I’m buoyant too as the mighty Queen of the South dumped Partick Thistle 3-1 this afternoon and now sit fourth in the 1st Division on goal difference. This is excellent for a part-time side and amazing to think they’re in the top fifteen sides in Scotland.

I just ran through a quick set of the eight songs from "Deeperdown" that I'm reasonably satisfied with and now I’m listening to the new Janacek CD I bought yesterday and it’s a great buy. I thought I had more Janacek but I checked and I have no single composer CDs by him other than this. Superb music. The last movement on the disc, "The Barn Owl Has Not Flown Away" is probably my favourite...

Friday, April 01, 2005

Some Of The World’s Best Footballers Will (Not) Be In An Edinburgh Bar Tonight….

It’s the MBFives Awards Night tonight so I have spent quite a bit of time today preparing the “script” for the “ceremony”.

All players are invited to nominate (which is actually to vote for) any other player across a range of, mainly negative, awards, such as “Worst Goalkeeping Gaffe”, “Most Likely To Shoot And Hit The Roof” and “Most Likely To Put You In Hospital”.

Every comment made for each category, during the e-mail voting process, is read out on the night, after which the winner is announced, a round of applause and/or cheer is sounded and another drink is downed.

The hard part is the cutting and pasting of up to ten comments in each of the twenty or so categories and the formatting of them into a document that is easily read by the drunkest of would be footballers.

Last awards night was toward the end of 2003 and, after the ceremony, there was Karaoke. My nephew, Craig Fowler, who it has to be said, although he did win “Player of the Year”, is not the greatest player the world has ever seen, but does have his moments (I suppose like the majority of the players in the MBFives Squad of around 35 to 40). He did a couple of cracking versions of Eminem’s more well known tomes, whilst I regaled the assembly with the Sex Pistols’ "Pretty Vacant".

I bought a CD today, another classical disc, Piano Sonatas by Janacek. I won’t get a chance to listen till tomorrow though…that is if I’m in any state to do anything.