We Are Rockstars

Long time readers may recall that a long time ago, back in August 2015, I handed over the pages of the blog to my older brother. The post he wrote, A Goth Steps From The Dry-Ice…, was annoyingly well received, so much so that ever since I have been bugging him to write something else.

On Christmas Eve last year, he finally delivered. It was such a long time ago that he’s probably forgotten all about it, or assumed my hyper-critical editing had ruled out it ever getting published here. Actually, I was waiting until today, his birthday, to post it (honest).

By way of a refresher, Swing’s (Swing is his nickname, but he’s Andrew to his family – you’ll need this info for later) last post told of him growing up to discover he was blighted by a love of the most unfashionable, and to some unfathomable, genre of music: Goth. And he related how he had to adapt when he joined the very particular-about-the-way-you-dress Royal Air Force, where the wearing of guy-liner and black winkle-pickers are very much frowned upon.

So here you go, unedited (pretty much – except to spare some embarrased blushes over spelling and grammar, and to insert either a tune, twice because they are specifically mentioned, one of which is one of the worst records ever made from which I wish to disassociate myself), is the next instalment, which has moved on from the 1980s where we last encountered our hero him in his own words:

“By the early noughties (we’re talking 2002) I was working on a trials unit for Her Majesty’s Royal Air Force, testing new aircraft and systems at various places around the world, most of which conveniently (considering the politics of the world at that time) happened to be quite hot and sandy. And which conveniently (for me and my mates) were not anywhere near the Arabian Peninsula, but in the Western United States. Specifically, Nevada. I’m still signed up to the Official Secrets Act, and the memory of the “civilian contractors” defending the places I’ll describe, who regularly pointed the biggest guns I ever saw at me, helps remind me that keeping some secrets is probably for the best.

What I will tell you is that you can probably work out for yourselves where I was, if I tell you the best trick used to stop people wondering what happened in that particular part of the desert was that some very famous rumors suggesting that it was an area frequented by aliens got circulated, so that if anyone saw something strange in the sky around this “Area”, then that’s what they thought they’d seen.

The Futureheads – Area

Then Jerico – The Big Area

So we were based in this “Area” for about 6 weeks, and during the week that meant we were locked on the base, but at the weekends, when they wanted to run some other “experiments” (which may or may not have included aliens) we had to find somewhere else to stay. Which unfortunately meant we had to drive a couple of hours south and wait in Las Vegas until they let us back on Sunday evening. Your armed forces suffer on your behalf, but you’re welcome.

Now I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Vegas, but I’m sure you are aware of it. And that it is considerably different to the other desert town they sometimes based us in, which had three bars. And forty-seven churches. The only churches I saw in Vegas had Elvis impersonators as vicars, there to marry the woman you met in a bar earlier that evening. And there were a lot of bars, and more than a few of them had women in them who’d happily marry you for the price of a drink….

The Air Force weren’t skimping on accommodation for us either. The usual policy when they chose somewhere was a simple “which is cheapest?”. In this case the best offer came from a dingy little back street place called Caesar’s Palace, but the powers that be realised that if viewers on the BBC tuned in to watch a big title fight, it wouldn’t go down well if in the background of the shot were a lot of noble airmen in uniform heading for another hard day at the office. Instead they spent the extra cash to put us in a Mormon run hotel, which meant it was one of the only places in town with no bar or gambling emporium. In fact, we had to go all the way across the street to a strip bar just to get a drink. Again, only doing our duty, you’re welcome.

So we started experimenting to understand what the best ratio between partying and sleeping is over 48 hours in a city where the bars never close. To save any of you needing to repeat the experiment I can let you know that the liberal use of pseudo-effedrine and caffeine tablets (they sell them over the counter at gas stations to keep the long distance truckers wired) means 48 hours straight is easily within reach, but you are going to sleep for quite a while after that. Then one Sunday afternoon while I was getting ready to head back I started to question what I was doing with my life? I considered reading the bible in the hotel room, then realized there was something even better in there: the Yellow Pages! I had a read in the back seat of the car as we headed back to base, and that’s where I found it! I knew what was missing! A convertible Lamborghini with a hot tub in the back! And joy to the world, I could rent it by the hour next time I was in Vegas! I asked a few of my mates if they were interested, and amazingly, they were. So when we stopped I called the number from the Yellow Pages, only to be disappointed when I was told the Lamborghini was block booked for a video shoot, but that that someone from the company would call me back to let me know what they could offer instead.

Monday morning I’m back on base working on the flight line, when I was told there’s a phone call for me. You’ll remember I said we weren’t allowed mobile phones, so I’d given them my office number. I also said security was tight, and we knew that included all phone calls being monitored (at times you could actually hear the guys listening in, which I’m sure wasn’t an accident). When I picked up the phone there was a bloke on the other end who I can only describe as what central casting on a low budget film would give you if you asked for an over-excited Mexican. He proceeded to offer me a “party bus” for 6 hours, which would take up to thirty of us around Vegas, stopping wherever we liked. The price sounded good, so I agreed, and he told me he’d be at our hotel 3pm next Saturday. He also told me the bus would come with “plenty of liquor” which sounded exactly what we were looking for. He then went on to ask if I needed “any girls, any drugs?”. I can only imagine how much attention that got from whoever was monitoring my calls, so I quickly explained none of that would be necessary and bid him a good day.

Now I had to think fast. The Lamborghini I’d thought about before would have taken six of us, and I had no doubt I could find that many mates up for it. But 30 on a bus was a bigger challenge, as that was almost the whole of the support team out there. I started to spread the word: anyone who’d overheard the call with my Mexican friend was a fairly easy sell, but I needed a hook to really up the interest…

That was when I decided what was needed was a good back story…. You see, it was a fairly common procedure that whenever we took off to a different town for any reason, we never told anyone we were Air Force. That would be far too boring. Instead we chose a variety of back stories to make opening conversations more interesting. If you’ve ever had someone at a bar describe his job as an underwater tractor driver, or a biscuit designer, chances are he was one of Trenchard’s finest. The last trip to Vegas we’d been a team of carpet fitters, in town to replace the floor in the Mirage as the one of white tigers had pissed on it. On another occasion we were a team of off duty phone sexline operatives (they pay extra for an English accent, don’t you know). I decided that this week it was time to be a rock band, and as easy as that “Into the Breach” were born. Remembering why we couldn’t have a Lamborghini, I realized our band had been on a video shoot themselves, filming out in the desert for their next single, “Cry God for Harry”, and the bus was a thankyou from the management team for their hard work. Easy bit done, I put up a poster with those details in the crew room, sat back and waited.

One other thing in my favour was that to cover expenses while we were away, particularly on those arduous trips to Vegas, we were given a cash advance. This was handed out once a week, so I conveniently hung around at that time and found it extremely easy to persuade people they had always wanted to be in a band. And pay me the $50 it would take to join.

The time was ripe to nominate the band line-up. I didn’t really fancy recreating the So Solid Crew, as I thought thirty was too many for just the band itself, but there were still important roles for security, sound engineers, and a couple of more specialised roles. Such as the actual singer who the pretty boy at the front could lip-synch to, but who was too heavy-boned to be in the video, and the “fluffer” who was there to get the drummer in the mood. And me? Manager and record company executive, of course. Which meant that Saturday morning in Vegas as the others were getting their “costumes” ready I had nothing to do, so I printed myself some business cards, just in case.

Saturday afternoon arrived, and a few of us decided that waiting until 3pm for our first drink was pushing it, so we called in the bar next door for a quick beer or three. I say bar, but strictly speaking it was more of a gentleman’s club, booths, table service, half dressed women asking if you want to dance, you get the picture. Which led to the never to be repeated question from one hostess, as to if I was a record company executive then why had one of the guys I walked in with told her he was an alien hunter? Pausing only to make a mental note to re-educate him on the rules for the weekend, I gave her my business card (knew it would be useful) and said that if she could thought she could sing then she should prove it to me. She paused for even less time to whip off her top, perch herself on my knee and sing Jolene. I told her she had potential, and I’d make her a big star someday, but now I had to go, my band were waiting.

Dolly Parton – Jolene

David Essex – Gonna Make You A Star

Just in time, it turns out, because pulling into the hotel car park was our ride for the day, a fifty-foot-long bus, sort of like the ones big hotels use as airport shuttles, but all black, with blacked out windows.

I introduced myself to the driver, who took me on the bus to sort out the paperwork while the band and support crew gathered in the car park. The inside of the bus was fitted out pretty nicely, with black leather seats along each, split with mahogany topped surfaces. Lift the mahogany tops and there were fridges and cupboards, full as described with beers and all manner of spirits, along with glasses and ice. He checked I was happy with it, as if the huge grin filling my face hadn’t already confirmed that, and we got down to the business side. I paid in full in cash, and he handed me a few disclaimers to sign, including one that said I’d pay for any damage or additional cleaning needed. He swiped my credit card as pre-authorisation for that while I asked what that meant. He told me that if, for example, someone threw up on the bus, then I’d be charged with cleaning it up. Not too likely I thought, these are hardened drinkers, so I started inviting the others on the bus. At which point my new friend, the driver, pulled out a bottle of tequila, threw away the cork and started passing it round. First one he handed it too was my mate Bo. He won’t drink that, I thought, as everyone knew Bo threw up at the first smell of tequila. But the peer pressure got him and he took a good, big swill before passing the bottle on. From inside my wallet I swear I could hear my credit card crying itself to sleep.

MGMT – Time To Pretend

We all settled in for the trip. The driver put some tunes on, lit the ceiling light show and we were off. I was making friends with a bottle of Jack, and concentrating on being a good host, making sure my crew appreciated the treat after working so hard in the desert, on the music video they’d definitely been filming….

As I said, to fill a bus with 30 people I went beyond my regular circle of close drinking mates, so there were a few on there I didn’t know so well. One of those was a young PTI (Physical Training Instructor) who we’d brought along to be a general helper and to be a ringer in case the Americans challenged us to a baseball or “soccer” match. He ended up sat next to me on the bus, so we got chatting.

I knew he was fresh, the correct Air Force term being that the ink was still wet on his twelve and a half (Form 1250 is a military ID card, the implication being that you hadn’t served long enough for it to dry yet). Turns out this wasn’t just his first deployment with a flying squadron, it was his first time outside the UK. He was a good lad, but it would have been remiss of me not tofeed him to the lions at least a little bit, surely?

My mate Pete was the bass player for ItB (as the cool kids had taken to writing it on their pencil cases), and he decided now was the time to help me play with the new boy. He headed down the bus to us and asked the PTI to scooch up. From his jeans pocket he pulled a wrapped-up piece of tinfoil and asked to borrow my 1250. He unwrapped the foil, revealing a fine white powder, broken up with spots of fluorescent green and purple, which he proceeded to use my id card to quite professionally chop up into two fine lines, which he offered to me and the PTI to sample. I need to be clear, neither ItB or any of their support team partake in hard drugs. I’d like to say that was a moral decision, but when we weren’t rock stars we were servicemen and as such subjected to regular no-notice drug tests with instant dismissal if you failed; that may well have influenced our lifestyle choices. No, the white substance was actually candy. I knew that and Pete knew that, but to the PTI it was an obvious dilemma: take a line and risk losing your career before it hardly started, or don’t take a line and lose credibility with a bunch of absolute rock stars you just met?

The indecision and fear were written all over his face, and it didn’t look like he’d resolve it internally quickly, so I pushed him out of the way and helped myself to the first line. Now I said already it was candy, not drugs, but that was only half the story. What it actually was was popping candy, the kind we had as kids back in the Seventies, you put it on your tongue and it crackled. Snorting it is a whole different issue, when those fluorescent green and purple bits hit the top of your nose it felt like bonfire night inside your brain! My eyes immediately dilated massively. I let out a breath, then slapped Pete on the back. “Good shit man!” He helped himself to the other line, with the same effect. Soon all of the band had tried it, with our honorable friend the PTI being one of the few not to push for a hit, which means he was probably one of the only ones on the bus not to be in contention with Toxteth O’Grady for the world’s stickiest bogey title (Gratuitous The Young Ones reference, there).

By now we’d been cruising around in the tour bus for about an hour, up and down the Las Vegas strip, so it seemed like a good idea to let the rest of the world get sight of ItB. Our driver pulled up just near Freemont Street, a big area with casinos either side of a covered walkway with a huge lightshow above it. The bus pulled up and fully in character we headed in, security detail first to clear the way for the talent. These guys were having just as much fun with the dressing up box, all wearing black with SECURITY on the front of their baseball caps, but for some reason the actual casino security were unimpressed with the fact that their earpieces didn’t seem to be plugged into anything, and told them to “Stop fucking about, guys!” but fortunately still let us all in.

Does It Offend You, Yeah? – We Are Rockstars

As I left the bus, the driver asked if there was anything else we needed him to get us while we were in there. My Mexican friend hadn’t exaggerated about the amount of liquor, but there was very little to mix it with. While I’m quite fond of straight Jack from the bottle, which seemed rock star appropriate, I thought something to go with it would be good, so suggested he buy us some coke, and headed into the casino. Seconds later I realised what I’d just asked him, what my Mexican friend offered on the phone, and that the driver had just watched the candy episode. Feeling a sudden, urgent need to break character I ran back out and shout to him “Coca Cola, we want coca cola, not drugs!” He laughed at me, said OK, so I got back into character and went to find the band at the bar. Stay cool, Swing!

I’m sure amongst a group of civilians deliberately being the last one into a bar like that would probably be regarded as a serious breach of etiquette and round dodging, but we were a well oiled machine (in many ways) and already ran a regular system with a nominated holder of the kitty who was in charge of going to the bar and ordering the drinks, with the rest of the group adding to the kitty in his pocket on request, usually in $50 chunks. Seems straightforward, and it is, but choosing who holds the kitty is something of a skill: give it to a budgie-sipper and the rest of the crew would be complaining of dry throats, go to the other extreme and you’d all be under the table half way through the night. Our usual kitty holder was my old tequila loving friend Bo, he liked to feel important, and was actually pretty good in the role, as long as you accepted two key facts:

1. He was very keen to implement the Jägermeister rule. Remember this was 2002, before the concept of Jägerbombs had really taken off in the UK, so back then it was something of a novelty to find in bars in the UK. The rule was the first one to see it said the J-word, and everyone else had to drink a shot. Be honest, it tastes like cough mixture, so being first to shout it and thus avoid the shot was a good thing. Two problems: American bars are usually pretty well stocked with a variety of drinks, so it was much more common; and Bo actually liked it, even to the extent of regularly ordering for himself a cocktail called liquid cocaine, which was 50/50 Jägermeister and Bacardi 151. Yummy! Which meant we needed to rein him in to prevent every round including shots.

2. Later in the evening after a few drinks Bo was easily distracted and often wandered off on his own. We needed to be careful to spot the onset of this, not to stop him of course, just to make sure someone else took the kitty before he did.

What that meant was that when I got to the bar I was not at all surprised to have a beer pressed into my hand. I was also not at all surprised that Bo started ribbing me about the way I had to break character and run back out, after all, if you couldn’t rely on your mates to belittle you in public who could you rely on? Equally obviously I needed to retaliate, but exactly how eluded me at first.

It doesn’t need saying that Gaz with his little girl’s bladder had disappeared to the toilets when we walked in, but I was sure everyone else would do the same before we left, and guessed that meant Bo would need to get someone to hold his beer. A few weeks earlier he had done the same thing for me, and while I was gone he put the straw from my Jack and Coke down his pants, so that when I came back he could ask if I “liked the taste of his Bobby?” Sophisticated humour like that was something they taught in Air Force basic training. My expectation was correct, and although it wasn’t me he asked to hold his beer, I was the manager of a successful rock band, so I only had to ask and it was handed to me. Slight problem, its one thing putting a straw down the front of your boxers, a bit more of an issue to do the same with a beer bottle. No problem, sheltered corner found and wall of mates blocking the view I gave the bottle top a quick wipe of the wand. Which is where the next flaw in my plan became apparent, he was drinking Corona, which had come with a slice of lime in the top. He’d pushed the lime in the bottle, but that meant there was a lot of lime around the top of the bottle. A lot of lime. Definitely not something you’d want in a sensitive area….

I passed him the bottle back as he returned, and realising what had just happened he started to complain, but recognising the obvious look of pain in my eyes he just laughed and swore to only ever drink Mexican lager from that day on.

We had a couple of rounds in the bar, but the draw of free drinks on the bus soon drew us back. The driver had added a few cases of soft drinks and a couple more bottles of Jack (just in case) so the security detail checked everyone was back and we set off around the town again. When we weren’t busy being a rock band some of the guys were avionics experts, specialising in maintaining the electronics on the aircraft: radar, weapon systems, radios, etc. The set-up on the bus had been fascinating them, and between drinks they’d been exploring it, taken control from the driver and found that in addition to the stereo there was an option to project one of a small library of “specialist” DVDs onto a screen filling the back of the bus. The dilemma now was this: did we have pounding rock music for the next leg of the tour, or hard-core pornography. The obvious answer was why not have both, so we were treated to the country-rap classic Cowboy loud enough to make your ears bleed, while on the screen were several young ladies getting overly friendly with each other, and what appeared to be one of their school teachers. I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what Kid Rock would have chosen himself for a video if he could get it played on MTV.

Kid Rock – Cowboy

Much sooner this time the balance between free drink on the bus vs no toilet on the bus required another stop, so we had the driver pull up at the next casino, which happened to be The Venetian. Lots of the casinos on the Vegas strip have themes like this, The Venetian obviously consisting of lots of little indoor canals with gondolas in them, but instead of the architectural wonders like St Mark’s Square you got rows of hundreds upon hundreds of slot machines. You have it to hand it to those Yanks, they know how to take anything from the Old World and just make it better.

Disembarking from the bus was much less orderly this time, more of a mad rush to get in and find the first place to pee. Which is why it was time to start enforcing the ‘little boy wee’ rule. This being the early two thousands I got a lot of inspiration from reading the key record of the cultural and artistic pulse of the nation: Loaded magazine. The idea came from someone who’d written in describing a drinking game in his rugby club, and I shamelessly stole it. (Same also applies to the idea of a pub crawl using a Monopoly board as a map, but that’s another story.) (Yes, one I’ve already told: here – Ed)

In essence, when potty training your children, most little boys don’t go straight from soiling themselves to confidently standing alone at a public urinal, there is an interim stage, usually only a few months, involving mummy helping them go for a number one. During this stage rather than fishing through the willy maze that is the front of most male underwear, she makes things easier for herself by lowering trousers and underpants to the floor, thus making access much easier. The concept of ‘little boy wees’ is what would have happened if your Mummy forgot to tell you you don’t always need to do that when you’re all grown up.

So when the rule is in force that’s what you need to do: every time you’re in a public bathroom, trousers and underpants must be fully around your ankles before any release. And if you choose to use a cubicle instead and hence hide the evidence, what you’re actually proving is that you sit down to pee and you’re in completely the wrong bathroom. Anyone forgetting got a forfeit, usually involving shots and/or humiliation. Its quite an amusing game at the best of times, but goes to another level in a crowded place with multiple bathrooms, like a Las Vegas casino on a Saturday evening.

By now you would expect a lapse in discipline with the first stragglers wandering off, but this game made it easy to find if the others were around, just head to the bathroom and use the level of amusement/disgust to judge how many of your colleagues had already been there. In all that helped get the majority of the team back to the bus after a reasonable amount of time (two drinks).

We did continue for another couple of hours, I suspect there was probably another stop somewhere along the way at another strip club, and the tour ended with us being dropped at a night club somewhere, but I have to be honest, by now time and Jack have wiped all those memories from me. If anyone there wants to tell me what else happened that night (or at any other time since I hit drinking age) it would be greatly appreciated.

But there are two post scripts to this story. The following Saturday I was in a regular bar in Vegas when one of the guys called me up to listen to what was happening. Just along the bar was one of our aircrew chatting to a young lady. Now being a squadron leader fighter pilot should be a pretty good chat up line, in fact pilot was the only persona we had an unwritten rule never to use, because that would only encourage them. But this chap wasn’t telling her that, he was explaining how he was a music producer and talent scout from London. I listened in to him for a while then tapped him on the shoulder and asked if he’d ever met Into the Breach. He realised he’d been rumbled, and bought me a drink, the first of many I took from him over the years whenever I reminded him that he pretended to be me to impress girls.

The second one was a bit later on, back in the UK. It turned out that the lead singer (the one in the video who lip-synched, not the chubster who actually sang on the record, keep up) met some girls in the club who were pretty sure they had seen ItB on MTV earlier, and he had taken advantage of this apparent gullibility to live the rock star dream a bit further than he should have. Definitely further than his fiancé would have approved of….. When he got home he had a pang of conscience and admitted everything to her, so after her Dad beat him senseless she forgave him, but decided that whoever organised such a thing was definitely not welcome at their wedding. Which meant that Swing didn’t get an invite, but for the only time in my Air Force career I dusted off another alias and made sure that Andrew behaved himself at the ceremony and at least the early part of the evening event!”

There’s only one song that we can possibly sign off with, I think:

Elvis Presley – Viva Las Vegas

Happy Birthday, Bro’.

More soon.

The Chain #8

Ok, so where were we?

Ah yes, I left you with Hawkwind’s “Silver Machine”, and I asked you to suggest what we should play next, along with your ideas as to what linked that to the previous tune, which was KT Tunstall’s “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree”.

So first, the admin, and the official link between those two songs. As is so often the case, George was a) the only person who offered a suggestion, and b) 100% correct. He wrote: “I suspect the link between KT Tunstall and Lemmy is Stoke-on-Trent, as Lemmy was born there, although I don’t know which of the 6 towns it was.”

And here’s what it says on the BBC website:

Tunstall was one of the six towns that federated to form Stoke-on-Trent, which is Lemmy’s hometown…”

So, were I to be giving out Gold Stars, George would surely be the recipient for getting that right first.

But we’re going to pop George on the back burner for now. No offence, George.

So, to your suggestions. And first up is The Swede, who suggested this:

“I’ll keep it simple and go from ‘Silver Machine’ to ‘Don’t Leave Without Taking Your Silver’ by George Jones, a song that gets me every time.”

Your wish is my command.


George Jones – Don’t Leave Without Taking Your Silver

George Jones modelling for “Avanti” at C&A in that cover shot, by the way.

The Swede’s line of thought is not entirely dissimilar to mine. I’d initially thought of being utterly obvious and posting David Essex’s “Silver Dream Machine”, but I eventually plumped for this. And say what you like, schmaltzy as it may be, this is a great record:


David Soul – Silver Lady

Swiss Adam over at Bagging Area went down a similar train of thought as The Swede and I, but instead of concentrating on the “Silver”, he went for the “Machine”, and suggested this:

“Goldfrapp’s Strict Machine is a good follow on from Hawkwind’s Silver Machine. If a bit obvious.”

Obviousness is no impediment to a posting here (particularly when I really like the song in question), so here you go:


Goldfrapp – Strict Machine (Single Mix)

Which leads me to my second choice. Yes, I’m allowed two, it’s my blog.

This came on my iPod earlier, and I thought I should include it here, partly because it’s by a little known group, partly because I really like it, derivative rock’n’roll that it is, but mostly because it includes two riffs that have been shamelessly nicked from other songs which I couldn’t put my finger on for ages. I got there in the end. I’ll leave you to see if you can spot and identify them both:

Everybody Wants

The Struts – My Machine

Oh, wait, here’s George again, referring to his selection, which you haven’t heard yet:

“…you might as well stop taking requests right now because NO ONE will suggest a better song than that [his suggestion], even if they contrive a link to Fox On The Run.”

Simmer down George, I’m coming to yours.

The Swede concurs:

“George has nailed it – 100%. Magnificent choice.”

You’ll let me know if I’m building this up too much, won’t you?

Luckily, here’s Charity Chic, who bloody loves a challenge, and sent me this:

“Silver Machine to Silver Fox the nickname of footballer Fabrizio Ravanelli to Fox on the Run!”

I suspect that this is a private joke between George and Charity Chic that I’m not privy to. No matter. I’m equally unsure which “Fox on the Run” we’re talking about here; I’m aware of two, so let’s have them both:


Manfred Mann – Fox on the Run


The Sweet – Fox on the Run

Next up is The Great Gog’s suggestion:

“Lacking inspiration on this one, so it’s a personal tale. In 1988 I acquired my first car – a decrepit 9-year old VW Derby. In honour of the colour of the parts of its body that weren’t rusty, I named it the Silver Machine (I know, pathetic…). My friends took a different view – it quickly developed a reputation for bits falling off it (wing mirror, door handle, random bits of the exhaust system, etc.). They referred to it as the VW Debris.  So a personal link to Debris by The Faces (from A Nod Is As Good…).”

For which I must thank you, not just because it’s a bloody great tune, but also because the initial reason I started writing this blog was to tell the world, who I’m sure was just dieing to know, the reason I’d bought certain records through my life, and to drop some true life, often embarrassing, anecdotes as I do it. So, I’m always grateful for the occasional personal link as it reminds me what I’m supposed to be doing.

Anyway, here’s The GG’s choice:


The Faces – Debris

Oh, and congratulations to Sir Rodney of Glasgow/Los Angeles.

Which brings us to the final suggestion of the week. Okay, George, the floor’s yours:

“Here goes. Silver Machine by Hawkwind, a hawk is a bird, as is a penguin, and Penguin Eggs is a folk album by Nic Jones, and track 4 is The Little Pot Stove.”

Classic George comment show-boating there.

Now, I must confess, I’d never heard of Nic Jones before, but when two fellow bloggers whose opinions I utterly respect tell me this is worth a listen, my ears prick up.

I needed a little help to track down the song in question, however  (thank you, anonymous man who shall not be named!).

When I was younger, I probably would have described this as “finger-in-the-ear folk music”, but now I’m a little (ahem) older I can see this as nothing short of beautiful.

So, thank you George for bringing this into my world. Apart from the whole showing-offiness thing about writing a music blog (and no matter what anyone says, there is a certain amount of ego involved in doing this), this is exactly the reason I do this: to interact and find out about stuff I would never have otherwise encountered.

I imagine this may polarise opinion, but I urge you to give this a listen:


Nic Jones – Little Pot Stove

That really is a bit lovely, isn’t it?

No? You’re wrong.

Several Gold Stars to George for that.

(Dad – you’ll like that one, I think)

So to wrap things up for another week, here’s what the official link to “Silver Machine” was, and there’s already been a clue as to how they co-habit in this post:


David Essex – Rock On

I think we can agree that our suggestions are somewhat superior.

So, no real need for you to suggest what the link between “Silver Machine” and “Rock On” is, because it’s bloody obvious, but a warm welcome to your ideas as to what can follow “Rock On” please.

Same time next week?

Or, rather: More Soon.

It’s Chriiiiistmas!!!

I promised myself I wasn’t going to do this.

Stay away from the Christmas tunes, I said.

I had made a pledge to myself. You have nothing to add to the medium of Christmas tunes, nothing your readers won’t already know, I told myself, so steer clear.

But did I listen? Well, here we are, so did I fuck.

Because two things happened.

Thing number one: I worked from home on Thursday. Not the most Christmassy of things to do, I grant you. I spent the afternoon tapping away at my keyboard whilst listening to Radcliffe & Maconie on 6Music. I learned two things from their show:

  1. That the chocolate on a chocolate Digestive biscuit is actually the bottom, not the top (who knew???), and
  2. The Courteeners, a band I had no time for up until now, had only gone and released a rather fine Christmas song.

I could track it down and post a link to it so you can download it for nothing, but the single is released in conjunction with the homeless charity Shelter, so what kind of monster would that make me?

So, you can hear it here, but please go and buy it too.

Well, if I’m going to post a song called “Winter Wonderland”, then I can’t really ignore this, now can I? Taken from undoubtedly the greatest Christmas album ever, I give you:

front1 Darlene Love – Winter Wonderland

Thing number two: as I was sitting here, searching for inspiration about what I could I write, shortly after 1am this morning I had a text from Hel, telling me she was watching a music channel which had devoted itself to playing Christmas records, as they often do at this time of year, and she had heard the following two songs:

Single_Pretenders-2000_Miles_cover_(gatefold) The Pretenders – 2000 Miles

Oh, and here’s them doing the same song, in a rather lovely acoustic kinda way:

The Pretenders – 2000 Miles (Live & Acoustic)

and, this:

david-essex-a-winters-tale-mercury David Essex – A Winter’s Tale

That was co-written by Mike Batt, who of course is much better known for his involvement with this bunch of scrounging homeless benefits-cheats:

cd-wombling-merry-christmas The Wombles – Wombling Merry Christmas

Batt is also known for co-writing this, with Tim Rice, a totally non-Christmassy record, but I was asked to post it a few months ago, so here we go Chad, I finally managed to crowbar it in:

I_Know_Him_So_Well Elaine Page & Barbara Dickson – I Know Him So Well

Ok, so I seem to have got off the Christmas vibe with that one, so let me get things back on track with the final two songs.

Every year, me and my little group of buddies meet up for a Christmas knees-up. same venue every year: The Dublin Castle, or the Scrublin as we affectionately refer to it, in Camden.

The nights generally follow the same pattern: we meet, exchange Christmas cards (I try to think of a new reason why I haven’t bothered writing them this year), then we proceed to get right royally trashed, somewhere in the middle there is a speech, then we plough money into the juke box, all the time waiting to hear the one song that will have us all drunkenly swaying, hugging each other, and singing along. I speak of none other than the undisputed greatest Christmas record ever made:

FairytaleOfNewYork The Pogues feat. Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale of New York

My parents lived in Ireland for a few years; I would pop over there at Christmas to be with them, and on the drive back from the airport, Dad would put the radio on. And this was being played on repeat on whatever radio station he put on. It’s practically their National Anthem.

So, final tune. When Hel told me she was watching Christmas tunes, I emailed her a link to the YouTube video for the next song.  Her response, and I quote:

“They sing Santa, mistletoe, snow and Christmas tree. It’s Christmas song bingo!” You can see why she’s my bezzy mate, right?

Since my only DMCA take down notice has been served by this lot, you will excuse my deliberate mis-spelling of their name, but here’s

MI0002431471 Qatus Toe – It’s Christmas Time

I guarantee, that’ll be stuck in your head for ages now.

Anyway, that’ll ding dang do from me for now.

More soon.