music

Day 54 – First sign of things returning to normal?

Teddy Bear’s Picnic

I was tidying up my various DIY bits when I heard something I didn’t realised I’d not heard for some time.

It was the the Teddy Bear’s Picnic drifting over from a street or two away.

Two things went through my mind. Firstly, gosh, I haven’t heard the ice cream van for ages. Secondly, gosh, should they be out selling ice cream?

As a child we were discouraged from buying from the ice cream man as Mother always said that he didn’t wash his hands after going to the toilet. How did she know?

Occasionally a different van would come round. It was the Walls Ice Cream van and we were allowed to buy from the elderly gentleman who was always smartly dressed. I did love a 99 with the Flake in it.

Stay cool and stay safe.

Days 48 and 49 – Spoiler alert

Yesterday was a funny sort of day. Let’s just leave it at that.

I’ve been nominated to do one of those social media things where you have ten things to show but can’t use words only pictures. The one I started yesterday is ten albums that have influenced me musically.

So if you follow me on Facebook look away now as I am about to reveal why each of the ten albums mean something to me.

The order isn’t significant, but I’m listing them in the same order as they are/will appear on Facebook so you can cross reference if need be.

IMG_0271

Tubular Bells

Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells
This was actually my brother’s LP and I didn’t get a chance to hear it properly. So one evening, when everyone was out of the house, I popped the LP onto the record deck, plugged in some headphones and got totally immersed in the wonderful music. I could feel myself drifting off into some dreamlike state. Suddenly, and very loudly, a man said “Grand Piano” and I leapt out of the chair. No other album has moved me in such a way.

Kate Bush – The Kick Inside
I remember hearing Wuthering Heights being played on Radio City in Liverpool. The presenter, Phil Easton, said that her unique sound was her ticket to stardom and that we should keep an eye on her. He was not wrong. A year or so later I remember going to see one of her first ever concerts at the Liverpool Empire. A theatrical musical experience.

Bread – The Sound Of Bread
Even though I was living in Chester, Radio City was my local commercial radio station when I was a teenager. They used to have the Peaceful Hour at midnight and, along with Minnie Ripperton, Bread seemed to be played constantly. The Sound of Bread was one of the first LPs I bought and I will never tire of hearing Make It With You.

Rick Wakeman – The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table
I loved this album because amongst the original artwork there was a drawing of a young woman who struck a remarkable resemblance to someone I liked at college. The music was good too. I still love Guinevere and I’m listening to it while I type. Who would have thought all those years ago that I’d end up playing a round of golf with him and he totally forgetting all about it when I met him again several years later.

Screenshot 2020-05-11 at 15.12.41

BBC Sound Effects Vol 1

BBC Sound Effects No. 1
I played this album like others played Donny Osmond or David Cassidy or Tina Charles. I don’t remember why I bought it (or if someone bought it for me), but I can only assume that this album was the single reason I got into soundscape recording. I mean really, who wouldn’t be influenced by ‘Laughter – Hearty, 30 People’ or ‘Door Creaks (8 Secs, 6 Secs, 6 Secs)’.

Alice Cooper – Schools Out
This album introduced me to the concept of paper underwear. The LP inside the school desk cover had an actual pair of paper knickers placed over it. I remember telling Mother so that she wouldn’t find them lying around on my bedroom floor one day and ban me from bringing girls home. Which would have been a futile exercise anyway as I never brought girls home. Let’s face it, I couldn’t even pluck up the courage to ask any of them to dance at the school disco.

Original Film Cast – South Pacific
It is the cover of this LP that holds the fondest memories for me. Mum and Dad didn’t have a lot of records. It was made up mainly of Mother’s Perry Como and Jake Thackray collection. I think Dad had one Shirley Bassey LP. I love the colours of the South Pacific album, but it wasn’t until a good few years later that I appreciated the music and film. The use of colour in the movie was quite striking.

Beatles – White Album
Another one of my brother’s albums. I loved to hear Rocky Racoon and Piggies. And Revolution Number 9. What was that all about? Again another influencer for my musical experimentation perhaps.

IMG_0282

On the Beach

Chris Rea – On The Beach
I have so many happy memories tied up in this album. Total chill. Total hot summer days. I swear that some days I could actually feel the sand between my toes while listening to it. Sadly it was ruined a little by seeing Chris Rea perform at the Manchester Apollo. For some reason all he wanted to do – with every song he did – was fiddle about on a sliding guitar. Still, Giverny, still my favourite track and he didn’t do that one at the concert so it has remained pure in my head.

Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
My final choice. Possibly the album that appears on more lists like this than any other. Again I came to it via my brother and, like Tubular Bells, was (and still is) an album to listen to with headphones. I still marvel at how they created their ‘sound’ and again the use of effects and voices greatly influenced my own dabbling with sound.

So there we have it. Of course by this time tomorrow I will have though of another half a dozen albums I’d want to swap out, but now that I’ve committed myself I can move on and do something else with my life.

Stay aware. Stay safe.

Day 45 – I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

Waltz for Koop

Waltz for Koop

On a previous post (this one I think) I mentioned about not having any aural distractions while gardening.

Decorating definitely needs a soundtrack and I’ve been going through old playlists on my phone. I suppose they are the modern day equivalent of the mix tape.

I’ve created playlists for all kinds of moods and occasions, meals, wedding, a chilled night in, a function out.

The thing I’ve noticed though is that one or two tunes keep tuning up across a number of playlists. Tunes I would’t necessarily reach for, but a joy to hear.

One of the songs is Waltz for Koop by Koop and another is Joe Jackson’s Steppin’ Out. Three different playlists today and they were on both.

Lilly Allen also turned up today unexpectedly with Somewhere Only We Know. Unexpected because it’s not Christmas and unexpected because about ten minutes later we had a call from John Lewis to say our table was being delivered today.

IMG_4572

Loft access all nice and painted

I was rather hoping a song about winning the lottery would come up on one of the playlists, but to be fair the chances of me winning are pretty slim as I don’t enter.

On the plus side, U2 haven’t yet appeared on any list.

So the decorating continues. The wall is now a luscious lime colour and the door to the loft has been retuned to its rightful place.

I still have three walls to paint tomorrow, probably twice and then the rest of the weekend will consist of me swearing a lot at the laminate flooring.

IMG_4573

Luscious lime

It’s the fiddly bits round doors and pipes that get me.

Tomorrow’s playlists are called ‘Set Up Music’, ‘Great Ones’ and ‘Party Arrival’. Koop is on all three but no Joe Jackson.

Stay tuneful and stay safe.

Late Night Norwich

The Sunday of a Bank Holiday Weekend can often be a bit of a ‘don’t know what to do’ day. But for weeks now I’ve been looking forward to seeing Mad Max: Fury Road in black and white – or chrome as they’ve been marketing it.

I wasn’t disappointed in the film at all. It still had all the octane thrills, although there were a few places where the b&w didn’t quite work as well – the first approach to the storm was almost lost in the greyness.

(Click more to see my Mad Max inspired video.) (more…)

When radio was full of wow

There was never a law against listening to Radio Luxembourg in the mid 1970s, but the awful quality of the signal made it feel like you were doing something rebellious.

I would spend many nights under the bed sheets listening to the latest pop music drifting in and out, whistling and crackling. I’d turn the radio one way to make the the signal better, only for it to drift away again into a sea of white noise and distant forign voices. (more…)

Pin drops

I’ve told this story a hundred times and I will tell it a hundred more as I believe it marks the very moment a spark ignited in me a passion for audio.

It was a music class in my junior school. Some lessons we’d spend time practising an instrument. Mine was the recorder and I was proud that I could play Greensleeves without looking at my fingers. (more…)