Saturday, July 31, 2010

Worse for wear (Pt 342)...

Playlist
Frank Zappa - Leather
Alice Cooper - Alice Does Alice
Asia - Asia
Asia - Alpha
CBQ - Various
Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians
Billie Holiday - Strange Fruit
Grand Funk Railroad - On Time

Aargh! yet another month gone...



Up around 8, late for me on a Saturday...

Breakfast, then to the attic to, at last, add some work to the two paintings started over eighteen months ago...





...and, with muse in overdrive, I added a third...



Spent most of the afternoon working on Crispycat stuff - adding Paypal buttons to the new dedicated websites for each of the eight song-based albums...

Meanwhile Queen of the South were winning a cup tie for the second Saturday in a row - having despatched Albion Rovers from the Challenge Cup last week, this week they thrashed Dumbarton 5-1 in the CIS League Cup...

The Exec Producer was pleased too, as Hearts came from behind to beat Millwall in London 3-2...

Laurie Anderson was listened to on the BBC I-Player - her thoughts on Steve Reich's "Music for 18 Musicians" and Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit" - regarding a still, hanged cadaver in a magnolia tree - thanks to a heads up from Count Brodski...

We spent the evening (and the early morning...) at chums' Margaret & Glen's house enjoying an excellent meal and, to be honest, far too much drinking...



Tasty soup, chicken stuffed with black pudding, with mash, carrots and ratatouille, rounded off with a choice of Banoffie Pie or Pavlova - Mmm, mmm...

Also in attendance were Margaret & Glen's chums Gordon and Georgine - with cameo appearances from kids Sam and Chloe, Sam's girlfriend Olivia and Sam's chum Gary...

Late on (very late on) Chloe's guinea pig made an appearance but it was too late in the day for my brain to have had any chance of taking in its name (it's Biggins apparently)...

It was cute though...

Taxi home at 3:30 am, both your correspondent and the Exec Producer very, very much the worse for wear...

Highlight of the Day : Painting again...

Friday, July 30, 2010

We can't even think of a word that rhymes...

Playlist
Various - High Voltage (2CD-R)
Alice Cooper – Alice Does Alice
King Crimson - Islands
Emerson Lake & Palmer – Live in Switzerland 1970
Frank Zappa – Leather

Up preposterously early and brought this up to date whilst buying and enjoying Alice Cooper’s recent download only EP “Alice Does Alice” which I suspect stems from the need for re-recordings of his biggest hits for “Rockband”...

I was pleased to hear he’s singing the original lines on "School’s Out"...

“Well we got no class
And we got no principles
And we got no innocence
We can’t even think of a word that rhymes”

For years now, when performing live, he’s been replacing the word “innocence” with “intelligence” without any explanation...

A tasty lunch with the Exec Producer at The Living Room where my Green Thai Chicken Curry required some extra bread to allow all the sauce to be enjoyed...

Noted today that the next two King Crimson remasters are due out in October (as is the DVD of last year’s Alice show “Theater of Death”)...

This led me to listen to “Islands” whilst doing the washing up...

Recent acquisitions inevitably pushed CDs from the Living Room Shelf upstairs to the back room...



Some Youtubing this evening, even catching glimpses of myself in a couple of uploaded vids from the Prog Stage at last weekend’s event...

Still await the “raw” covers for the new LP (and indeed revamped back catalogue) – all now will be housed in gatefold sleeves of recycled and recyclable cardboard with tasty inserts...

Laborious for me re orders but hopefully worth it re the finished product...

On telly – comedy “My family”, “The IT Crowd” and “Stand Up for the Week” – the last two reaching the end of their current runs...

Highlight of the Day : Lunch with the EP...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Green thumped again...

Playlist
Emerson Lake & Palmer – High Voltage Setlist
Various – High Voltage (2CD-R)

The music of ELP is continuing to entertain and, after witnessing them perform it live, my appreciation of their work has increased...

The sky this morning had something of “The Simpsons” about it...



Spent some time today compiling and producing a two CD set of the artists I witnessed last weekend and it’s a veritable 150 minutes of top stuff...

A tasty salad sustained at lunchtime...



Other than that, did some website updating and watched the last in the present series of “Big Bang Theory” and a clips show of “Mock the Week”...

On the footie front, Hibernian followed Celtic (much to the Jam Tart Exec Producer’s delight) to the second successive 3-0 defeat away from home by a Scottish club in Europe – it seems only Motherwell have a chance of carrying the Saltire into the next round...

Highlight of the Day : Compiling...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cats love lawnmower boxes...

Playlist
Various – Last 12 Months’ Acquisitions
Cloudland Blue Quartet - Splinterheart
Sparks – Whomp That Sucker
ZZ Top – Greatest Hits
Moby – Wait For Me

Just a note to say Meg the Black Cat loves our new lawnmower - or its box anyway...



We may have to keep the box on the floor of the living room once we’ve sorted the machine out to a point where it’s able to be applied to what passes for our lawn...

This evening saw the annual, very last minute, preparation of the intros and video soundtrack for Jim Park and Co’s fringe Show – they’ve decided to refer to it as a sequel to last year’s successful “Silence of the Trams”, as in “Silence of the Trams II”...



So, spent a good couple of hours in the entertaining company of Jim and cohort Gordon Alexander, recording the intros for the five comedians in the show plus Gordon’s voiceover for this year’s “tram” video which will kick things off...



Success on a plate...

Turns out that Gordon is a big Queen of the South fan and his dad actually played for the Mighty Doonhamers in the mid seventies...

Kudos...

Other than that, ordered the covers for the upcoming release of “Splinterheart” which is now to be 31st August, my mum’s 80th birthday....

More updating of this ended the day...

Highlight of the Day : Recording comedians...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Roof upgrade...

Playlist
Emerson. Lake & Palmer – High Voltage Setlist
Frank Zappa - Leather

Back to the old routine today, including of course, a trip to FOPP...

A triple CD of Frank Zappa was secured following the impressive performance of his music on Saturday by son Dweezil...

Also snapped up were Moby’s last album, for a fifth of the cost of the Zappa set and the DVD of the CD of ELP in Switzerland which I bought a month or so ago...

Back home, our garage roof was in the process of receiving a makeover...





Post a trip to the gym, the evening was spent in front of the TV following a tasty Red Thai Chicken Curry from the hands of Crispycat Towers’ very own Masterchef...

Fave show "Law & Order : Criminal Intent"'s new series commenced - yarooo!

Highlight of the Day : Anne’s cooking...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Return of the trumpets...

Playlist
Various- High Voltage Artists

Up early as ever but, this morning, last night’s Indian, despite its very tastiness, seemed to have conjured forth the Trumpets of Satan...

The Doc was perfectly able to partake of the usual hearty breakfast though, while your correspondent restricted himself to fruit juice, grapefruit and a small bowl of cereal...

Checkout was subject to another delay re exactly what we were supposed to be paying, eventually walking a way having paid the agreed rate...

Into London, having failed miserably to work the touchscreen at Cambridge Heath and therefore having to walk to Bethnal Green Underground – where the ticket ATM proceeded to shut itself down half way through my card transaction for today’s travelcards...

So, following the use of a second machine, it may well be a 2 for the price of 3 scenario...

Out into Oxford St and a present purchased for the Exec Producer – speciality chocolates had been on the menu, however, something much better made its way into the Cloudland Blue Small Rucksack...

On down to Berwick St and a return to Sister Ray and Revival – nothing bought...

As the unforecasted rain came down, we took refuge in a nice Italian Bakery/Café where my breakfast continued with a wee pastry and we both enjoyed a latte, the Doc using his mobile internet to try and locate any reviews in the media of the weekend of rock Рto no avail...



We then sheltered in a bookshop, where an appropriate present for Mrs Prog was partaken of – this was followed by further avoidance of the ever more heavy rain which resulted in a wander around HMV at Picadilly....

A hold up with the trains at the nearby Underground decided us to traipse back up to the surface and walk back to Oxford Circus, stopping off on the way for a pub lunch...

Thus we missed the earlier bus to the airport but were at the front of the queue for the one which was due to get us to there on time...



This time the journey lasted the expected hour rather than two...



...and, after a quick check in and a short wait, we were on board and on our way back to Edinburgh...



The Exec Producer picked us up at the airport and we took the Doc back to the Surgery of Prog, bidding my partner in crime a hearty farewell, before heading home for a night of picture uploading and TV watching...

Sustenance comprised a very tasty steak, backed up with a zingy salad - good to be home...

Highlight of the Day : Back home...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Welcome back my friends...

Playlist
Transatlantic - Whirlwind
Asia - Omega
Bigelf - Hex
Bigelf - Cheat the Gallows

Up early for day two of the event and a good breakfast again set us up for another long day under a hot sun…





I managed to sell my spare wristband to a lady who lived in a house overlooking the park – didn’t get much for it, considering it would have cost her £80 had she gone through the box office but, seeing as I’d got it for nothing, no one was complaining…

Once again we made our way to the Prog stage and again stood for the entire day watching The Reasoning, Wishbone Ash, Steve Hackett, Magnum, Uriah Heep and Argent (the doc chose Opeth on the metal stage over Argent) before foregoing Marillion to head to the main stage to get a good spot for ELP, who were preceded by Def Leppard’s Joe Elliot performing a set of Mott the Hoople covers and who was joined by Ian Hunter for his last two songs…

Again, here are my thoughts…



The Reasoning – like yesterday’s openers, they didn’t cut it for me – again a female singer (though better than yesterday) but no real spark…



Wishbone Ash – playing their classic album “Argus” in its entirety which I don’t remember lasting the long drawn out 70 minutes which this set (including a guest appearance of Ash stalwart Ted Turner) eventually stretched to. It was fine to begin with but they lost me with their over extended guitar solos and I’m afraid my boredom threshold was breached after three quarters of an hour…



Steve Hackett – I moved away from the front for this as I’ve never really taken an interest in Mr Hackett’s post Genesis material. Watching from the sidelines though, I must admit it was quite enjoyable. Telling though that by far and away the best piece was the Genesis classic “Los Endos”…



Magnum – had I ever been a Magnum fan, I’m sure I would have enjoyed this and I did indeed kind of warm to them as I weedled my way back through the audience to the front in time for the next act…



Uriah Heep – the mighty Heep, one of my all time favourites despite the fact that their music really isn’t all that great, like Wishbone Ash, played a classic 1972 album (“Demons and Wizards”) in its entirety. Unlike the Ash however, they played it note for note, which meant a tight, impressive and energetic 40 minute set which, frankly, rocked. And they drew a huge crowd apparently…



Argent – back together for the first time since Russ Ballard left in 1974, the original four piece line up played a ten song set of progtastic music which included no fewer than seven hit singles (some written by Ballard or Rod Argent and covered by Rainbow, The Zombies, Three Dog Night and Colin Blunstone). This set produced my only hair on the back of my neck standing up scenario of the weekend as, following the classic “Hold Your Head Up” they broke into the famous riff from “God Gave Rock’n’Roll to You”…



Joe Elliot/Ian Hunter – sadly having to miss out on Marillion, we walked over to the main stage and enjoyed a set of Mott the Hoople covers. This band, Down’n’Outz, absolutely rocked and just emphasied for me what a great writer Ian Hunter is – and not a single “single” was played until Hunter joined them for “Once Bitten Twice Shy” and “Who Do You Love”. Unfortunately, the day was running late and the four further Hoople hits lined up had to be foregone…



Emerson Lake & Palmer – finally, as darkness fell and after an intolerable wait, the weekend’s headliners took to the stage. Okay so Greg lake looks like the side of a house but what a voice and a superb bassist too. Emerson struggled early on due to irreparable nerve damage in his right hand but finally came good, whilst Palmer drummed like a man a third of his age...



To say it was a spectacular show would be a gross understatement and to see almost the entire park behind us filled with tens of thousands of people listening to and enjoying complex music in something like 13/8 time was astonishing in this day and age – but there they were, people had flown in from around the world for this...



While it wasn’t the tightest set I’ve ever heard, it was mightily impressive, as the trio drew on every part of their discography (thankfully apart from the dreadful “Love Beach” and “In the Hot Seat”)…



So, ninety minutes of prog heaven from the men who almost single handedly buried the genre with their outlandish antics back in the seventies brought a weekend of fantastic music to an end – and tonight there were indeed a few fireworks, not to mention exploding cannons…



The doc and I made our way across the darkened park in search of some sustenance and found ourselves sitting in the open air at a nearby Indian restaurant enjoying tasty curries and cool Cobra lager…

Perfect end to a very enjoyable day…

Highlight of the Day : ELP…

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dancing with eternal glory...

Playlist
Transatlantic - Whirlwind
Asia - Omega
Bigelf - Hex
Bigelf - Cheat the Gallows

Up early having had little sleep for the second night in a row and so blighted with a headache…

Pills to the rescue, followed by a hearty breakfast before we donned the suncream and walked to Victoria Park for the inaugural High Voltage Festival, under a relentless sun…





Of course, I had to stand in line (for longer than it took to fly from Edinburgh to London) to pick up my wristbands ordered a week ago via Orange under their 2 for 1 offer…

However, as everyone attending seemed to have purchased their band in advance, there was no opportunity to offload my spare band at a goodly discount to anyone willing to part with a cash sum considerably below the £135 weekend entry fee…

Joined the Doc at the front of the queue and, wristbands scanned, we were soon round at the Prog stage where I proceeded to stand for the entire day watching Touchstone, Pendragon, Focus, Bigelf, Zappa Plays Zappa, Asia and Transatlantic before catching the end of ZZ Top’s set on the main stage…

No doubt there will be reviews across the net by more prosaic people than your correspondent, however, my take on today’s fayre was as follows:-



Touchstone – modern day prog by numbers really, not all that impressive and a female singer doesn’t cut it for me personally in this genre…



Pendragon – very good indeed with some fine playing from all four members of the band – a little off-putting though that the singer/guitarist bore a striking resemblance to Bill Oddie and the keyboard player looked like a fat version of Rick Wakeman (and yes, I know Rick Wakeman is already fat) – but hey, it’s supposed to be about the music – and the foregoing comments must surely have a little of pot, kettle, black about them…



Focus – featuring two members from their 70’s heyday, the bronzed and rotund OAP that is Thijs Van Leer and, the frankly, sexy older man from a French film-look alike Pierre Van der Linden on drums – accompanied by a brilliant and unassuming lead guitarist, who might well have been plucked from the audience, except no-one in the audience looked quite as ordinary (mostly fat balding old men in ill fitting t-shirts proclaiming some rock event they’d been to in the past or their favourite prog band) and a wonderful jazzy bassist (baldy but in a cool way), Focus delighted the crowd and me with a fine set of their best material from their heyday – only ruining it slightly with a rubbish encore of a song no-one had heard of…



Bigelf – brilliant, energetic rocking performance by these four absolutely dressed like and, indeed, striking poses of, rock stars, including the classic arms a kimbo playing two keyboards at the same time pose from the sometime top-hatted lead singer – this young(ish) band rocked the prog stage with their fine heavy sound…



Zappa Plays Zappa – an eight piece band of consummate musicians, led by Frank’s son Dweezil, playing probably the most complex music of the weekend, almost without breaking into a sweat – Mr Zappa spent the entire set grinning from ear to ear whist effortlessly spraying superb guitar solos around the stage and directing his ensemble with a good deal of aplomb. Brilliant – noted that I must investigate Zappa music further…



Asia – a classic prog supergroup who don’t really play prog, rather melodic tunes with prog undertones and fine musicianship from Steve Howe of Yes, Carl Palmer of tomorrow night’s headliners ELP, John Wetton of King Crimson fame on bass and vocals and Geoff Downes, also of Yes but possibly better known as one of the Buggles. They played their first album in its entirety, though out of sequence, and threw in a track each from their last two, post reforming, LPs. The new stuff was the highlight for me – they need to play more of it and stop concentrating on the past, otherwise, what’s the point of going to the bother of writing and recording it…



Transatlantic – a mind boggling performance by a modern day prog supergroup comprising members of Dream Theater, Marillion, Spocks Beard and the Flower Kings as, for what is probably their last performance for a few years, if at all, they played their latest 77 minute album in its entirety, non-stop, and then p[proceeded to top that with an encore of Genesis’ classic “The Return of the Giant Hogweed” complete with Genesis’ own Steve Hackett on blistering lead guitar…



ZZ Top – after a day spent in the front row at the Prog stage, the Texans could only really be an anti-climax, with their southern boogie blues but they kind of pulled it out of the bag at the end with a triple salvo of hits “Gimme All Your Lovin’”, “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Legs”, complete with synchronised classic videos on the big screen behind them…

I left before the Top’s encore, with the doc boogie-ing in the dark and hopeful of fireworks (there were none) and wandered home nursing extremely sore legs and feet but having been well and truly entertained…

Highlight of the Day : Transatlantic…

Friday, July 23, 2010

1953...

Playlist
Cloudland Blue Quartet - Splinterheart
1000 Robota - Hamburg Brennt EP
Borodin - Symphonies 1-3
Sparks - Womp That Sucker
Uriah Heep - Easy Livin' Singles As and Bs

Up at 4am and ready to roll for my trip to London with Dr Prog…

Drove over to pick up him up at 4:45 then back to the bottom of Crispycat Hill to catch a bus to the airport…

Checked in quickly since we were hand luggage only and a quick breakfast at Eat…

An hour’s flight...



...and we arrived at Stanstead just before 7:30, hopping on the transfer bus an hour earlier than originally booked…

Downside was, it took two hours to get to Liverpool St Station due to the London rush hour…

With the hotel being in Hackney and earliest check-in being 2pm, we bought day tickets for the Underground and headed to Oxford Circus, giving us easy access to the record shops of Soho…

From Sister Ray, your correspondent partook of the only Sparks CD not in his collection (“Womp That Sucker” – checking with the Exec Producer back home by text afterwards that this was indeed the case)…

And, from nearby second hand emporium, Revival, an EP by German punks 1000 Robota, including a fine cover of Palais Schaumburg’s “Wir bauen eine neue Stadt”, a disc of Borodin Symphonies and, in honour of this weekend’s ProgFest, a 2CD set of Uriah Heep singles (probably all of which I have somewhere already)…

Dr Prog refrained from indulging…

Over to Neil Street and a fine little eatery for lunch, where the Doc made up for his non-CD layout by ordering the most expensive dish on offer and then adding some chocolate cake for pudding and proclaiming it to be the best chocolate cake in the world…



Then, on to Covent Garden for a browse around, before taking the Tube out to Bethnal Green and a brief walk to our hotel – initially heading in completely the wrong direction due to an erroneous park…

Following a bit of a stramash at check-in, with me insisting I’d already paid – when I hadn’t in fact paid a bean thus far - and them trying to charge me another £20 and then finally accepting the rate they’d quoted when I booked, Dr Prog had a snooze, while I listened to my new CDs…



Then, up and out again and, using the mainline Cambridge Heath Station to get to Liverpool St, we were soon outside St Paul’s Cathedral and heading over the Millennium Bridge to Tate Modern…



We spent a good three hours or so just wandering around enjoying the delights on display, my favourite moment being when I walked round a corner to find these pieces by Franz Kline and Clyfford Still…



The balcony is Dr Prog's favourite place in London...



As a result of our arty enjoyment, we missed the opportunity of a guided pub crawl along the banks of the Thames and, instead, ended spending the evening in just one pub, drinking too many pints of beer after a very tasty portion of fish and chips each…



A tube, a train and a short walk took us back to the hotel, where I discovered to my horror that there is indeed someone in the world who snores louder than I do…

Highlight of the Day : Tate Modern…

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Postponement perhaps...

Playlist
Miles Davis – Bitches Brew
Allan Holdsworth – All Night Wrong
Cloudland Blue Quartet – Deeperdown
Various - High Voltage Artists on Shuffleplay

Meg the Black Cat was in this postion today when I left the house and when I returned...



..I must assume she moved while I was gone...

After so much prog recently, it was good to hear some even better musicianship from two of my fave jazzers...

Lunch with chums Margaret, Caroline and Tracey on a beautiful day weather-wise...





...before heading home...





...and packing for the trip to London this weekend with Dr Prog…

A nice wee Chinese with Annie on our last night till Monday…

Watched a bit of “Masterchef” for some reason then spent some time updating the Crispycat Website…

Requests for the new CD are starting to come in but I’m still working on (rather expensive) potential packaging ideas, so think I will need to put the release back from 31 July…

Highlight of the Day : At home with Annie and Meg…