…although that should really be ‘answer’. But the Moody Blues never did give us the answer, did they? Anyway, in response to numerous requests (one),herewith the answers to the Christmas quiz. Apologies because the formatting has gone a bit strange, but it’s late, I’m tired, I don’t know much about computational technologies…I hope you didn’t get too drunk doing this… oh, and Happy New Year to all (belatedly)!!

Section One Waxing lyrical

1)does anyone know the way, did we hear someone say we just havent got a clue WHAT to do. Band and song, please. SWEET,BLOCKBUSTER
2) who would think a boy and bear would be well accepted everywhere, its just amazing how fair people can be. . A cover song! A great cover song original writer/artist, cover artist and name of song this time, please. Then you can have a drink! (clue to the writer to infinity and beyond!)RANDY NEWMAN,SIMON SMITH & THE AMAZING DANCING BEAR,COVERED BY THE GREAT ALAN PRICE
3) I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them, but they were only satellites A cover song again same as above, then another drink!BILLY BRAGG,KIRSTY MCCOLL, A NEW ENGLAND
4) Really difficult unless you are British, this one. What connects the above answers? (cryptic clue: Track 1 side 1 of ?the Third Roxy Music Album may point you in the right direction?) STREET LIFE – HIGH STREET SHOPS (WH SMITHS, BLOCKBUSTER,MCCOLLS)

Section Two cryptic and just plain ornery

5) What connects Mr. Pitiful, a certain mighty Eskimo, Michael Jacksons rat of a friend and those who were born of frustration? Only certain persons reading this may get this one they should have a Tequila slammer if they do OTIS & QUINN, SONS OF BEN & JAMES
6)Who was moody blue, but had the balls to go off and fight for his country before growing wings? Please say you dont mind me asking his name? DENNY LAINE
*this may not be cryptic
Section Three ? Who are you?

8) ? Happy Christmas my arse, I hope it?s your last!? How often have we thought that when we?ve been stuck in that queue in HMV for ¾ of an hour? but who said that to whom and in which song? KIRSTY MCCOLL TO SHANE MCGOWAN”A FAIRYTALE OF NEW YORK”THEPOGUES
9) Who produced the Clash album ?Give ?em enough rope??SANDY PERLMAN
10) And what was the biggest hit achieved by the band that he managed for his day job?”DON’T FEAR THE REAPER” BLUE OYSTER CULT
11) By what names did the following achieve fame (actors also included in this one, so make those doubles triples?!) a) Mark Feld MARC BOLAN b) David Jones DAVID BOWIE c) Archibald Leach CARY GRANT d) Marion Morrison JOHN WAYNE e) William Broad BILLY IDOL f) William Pratt BORIS KARLOFF g) Vincent Furnier ALICE COOPER
12) What kind of animal was ?Happy Jack?? (By now you should be very happy also?) A (FURRY) DONKEY
13) Who was the space cowboy, gangster of love and Maurice? (clue: this question has nowt to do with the Bee Gees)STEVE MILLER (THE JOKER)
14) Who is the arguably more famous other half of incredible guitar picker Dave Rawlings? GILLIAN WELCH
15) Who had a dog called Strider, immortalized in song on the third album from the band that started life as the New Yardbirds? ROBERT PLANT And what was the song? BRON-Y-AUR STOMP And why do the birds keep on singing? Why does the sea rush to shore? Don?t they know it?s the end of the world??? IT ENDED WHEN YOU SAID GOODBYE

Section Four ? What?s the point of sections anyway? Trivia, its all trivia

16) On which Morrissey album does the amplified sound of a power drill stand in for the sound of a motorcycle revving? VAUXHALL AND I (SPEEDWAY)
17) ?and on which Roxy Music track did they actually record a motorcycle speeding down Basing St. in London to add authenticity to the rebellious nature of the lyric? VIRGINIA PLAIN
18) How many deadly Finns were encountered by Brian Eno? SEVEN
20) Which group rode the equestrian statue to the edge of the popular music charts, then were shocked to find a doughnut in granny?s greenhouse? THE BONZO DOG DOO-DAH BAND And what exactly was the doughnut anyway?.? A POO – GRANNY’s GREENHOUSE BEING EUPHEMISM FOR OUTSIDE TOILET You might need your Mr. Hanky for this one?
21) ?the path was deep and wide from footsteps leading to our cabin, above the door there burned a scarlet lamp?? ooo-er missus ? the son of whom was singing this, HICKORY HOLLER’S TRAMP and what was he better known as to the world of 60?s soul? O.C. SMITH
22) Which animal links the legendary Goodies with the band who gave us ?Cheap Sunglasses?? GIBBON (FUNKY AND BILLY)
23) My son Otis currently sports a hairstyle inspired by which of these seminal 80?s bands a) Modern Romance b) the Thompson Twins or c) A Flock of Seagulls? (I currently sport a hairstyle influenced by Alf Garnett) C – ALTHOUGH HE HAS NOW HAD A HAIRCUT AND RESEMBLES TIN-TIN
24) They had a friend called Stan from far, far away (he was a banging man) and this time of year wouldn?t be the same without them ? who were they? SLADE
25) In which Carry On film did The Great Kenneth Williams utter these immortal words ?infamy, infamy! They?ve all got it infamy!?? CARRY ON CLEO
26) ?and whose first album included a lengthy musical workout about a woman named Suzi Q? CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL
27) What was the name of the South African born record producer who was the mastermind behind feisty little Suzi Quatro? MICKY MOST
28) which band, favourites of the Old Grey Whistle Test and the darlings of many 1970?s music critics exhorted quarreling lovers to ?turn up the Eagles, the neighbours are listening? and advised us that ?showbusiness kids, making movies of themselves, you know they don?t give a f*** about anybody else??? STEELY DAN
29) Which famously eccentric American studio wunderkind released an acclaimed solo double album in the 1970?s featuring a pop operetta taking up one side entitled ?baby needs a new pair of snakeskin boots?? TODD RUNDGREN ‘SOMETHING/ANYTHING’ And what was his far from flattering nickname? RUNT
30) Which 1970?s Frank Zappa album tells the sad tale of Billy the Mountain, Ethel the Tree (growing off of his shoulder) and FBI agent Studebaker Hawke? (completely useless clue: it?s the only Frank Zappa album I own). JUST ANOTHER BAND FROM L.A.
31) Which former NME writer and soon to be famous female rock star played rhythm guitar briefly with Johnny Moped in 1978? CHRISSIE HYNDE
32) ?and which legendary NME writer (clue: no friend of Sid Vicious) gave up his day job briefly to front the short-lived Subterraneans? NICK KENT – ‘MY FLAMINGO’ WAS A FABULOUS 45 – SEEK IT OUT!
33) On which 70?s Rolling Stones song does Mick Jagger sign off by whispering ?good night ? sleep tight??? ‘FINGERPRINT FILE’ FROM ‘IT’S ONLY ROCK’N’ROLL’
35) Which of these apocryphal stories is actually true ? a) TV quizmaster Bob Holness played the sax solo on Gerry Rafferty?s ?Baker Street?, b) Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath has metal fingers, or c) Rod Stewart played harmonica on ?My Boy Lollipop? by Millie A IS UNTRUE (RAPHAEL RAVENSCROFT IS THE SAX MAN),B & C ARE TRUE – IOMMI LOST HIS FINGERTIPS IN A WORKPLACE ACCIDENT WITH A METAL PRESS – IRON MAN,INDEED!!

Section Five – ‘That’s Entertainment’

36) who was famously described thus at his first screen test – ‘balding, can’t act, can’t sing, can dance a little.’? FRED ASTAIRE
37) which 50’s and 60’s British star appeared in a dreadful movie based on his hit song about an albino baby bull. Have another drink if you can name the movie and the song, because that makes you as much a saddo as I am. TOMMY STEELE, ‘TOMMY THE TOREADOR’ ,’LITTLE WHITE BULL’ (AGAIN MICHAEL, YOU AMAZED ME…)
38) catchphrases…. what would we do without them, eh? Which legends provided the English language with the following gems…? a) ‘stop messing abaht!’ KENNETH WILLIAMS b) ‘shut that door!’ LARRY GRAYSON c) ‘hello playmates!’ ARTHUR ASKEY d) ‘wakey-wakey!’ BILLY COTTON
39) comedians making records… what would we do without them, eh? Which mirth-inducers tickled our fancies with these shellac curiosities from the 1960’s…?
a) ‘Gossip Calypso’ LANCE PERCIVAL b) ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ PETER SELLERS/SOPHIA LOREN c) ‘My Boomerang Won’t Come Back’ CHARLIE DRAKE and d) ‘Right Said Fred’ BERNARD CRIBBENS
40) Elvis had an old one and John Noakes had one that always appeared to be up when it shouldn’t have been – ooo-er missus, to what am I referring? SHEP

Section Six – ‘You know my name, look up the number.’

41) ‘I am not a number, I am a free man!’ Which actor said this, in which TV series? And what was his number? PATRICK MCGOOHAN,THE PRISONER, NUMBER SIX
42) How many Screaming Dizbusters did the Blue Oyster Cult warn us about? SEVEN
43) Add the number of ?’s tears to the Yardbirds Little Indians and Traffic’s Headmen and what number do you get? 40,106
44) What was the number plate of Bryan Ferry’s girlfriend’s car at the time of the first Roxy Music album (this is not as obscure as you think, folks…!)? CPL9538 (IT’S THE CHORUS OF THE FIRST SONG, ‘RE-MAKE,RE-MODEL’
45) Which LP record sported the catalogue number K50008, although this was impossible to find anywhere on the cover or inner sleeve (much to the annoyance of the woman in Clark’s Electrical in Thurso when I tried to buy this album in the 70’s. ) LED ZEPPELIN FOURTH ALBUM

Section Seven – ‘and when I am in Camelot, I like to push the pram a lot’.

The source of the following lyrical gems, please!

46) ‘ I saw a lion he was standing alone, with a tadpole in a jar’ LED ZEPPELIN, DANCING DAYS, HOUSES OF THE HOLY
47) ‘dancing in the nude and feeling such a dude, it’s a rip-off!’ T.REX, RIP OFF, ELECTRIC WARRIOR
48) ‘ where do we go from here – is it down to the lake, I fear?’ HAIRCUT 100, LOVE PLUS ONE, PELICAN WEST
49) ‘ he went out tiger hunting with his elephant and gun – in case of accidents he always took his mum.’ BEATLES, CONTINUING STORY OF BUNGALOW BILL, THE WHITE ALBUM

And finally! Question 50! ‘what WERE you thinking?’

50) which bands took their names from the following sources…?
a) a giant metal pleasure device in the William Burroughs novel ‘Naked Lunch’? STEELY DAN
b) the victim of a fatal shooting by student Gavrilo Princep? FRANZ FERDINAND
c) the part conjoined names of two Mississippi bluesmen? PINK (ANDERSON) FLOYD (COUNCIL)
d) an acronym of their family stage name? BEE GEES (BROTHERS GIBB OR B.G.’S)
e) a character from the movie ‘Barbarella’? DURAN DURAN (DURAND DURAND)
f) a beer and a desire to get back to the roots of rock ‘n’ roll? CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL
g) a palindrome of their first initials? ABBA
h) a superstitious fear amongst US building contractors? 13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS

If you managed to get through that without swearing, then ‘you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din’. Actually, which seminal American cosmic rock band recorded a track named after Kipling’s Gunga Din?

Stop it, James.

Until the next one,

Fanx, Ta-Ra

Yours Is No Disgrace


Warily yet wearily the four bedraggled little students made their way down the steep and leafy incline of Paterson’s Lane, their spirits lifting as they spied the multi-coloured brickwork of John’s house in the middle distance. John was John Farquhar, or as pronounced in the ‘ness, ‘Fracher’, and within that house was a wondrous loud stereophonic record player, upon which he would soon place his new-bought hallowed treasure. He would carefully place the dust bug in its required position, switch on electrical power to the unit then rotate the ivory bakelite dial to indicate 33 1/3 revolutions per minute, before carefully lifting the playhead into position, lowering the compatible stereo cartridge (perchance a Goldring G800?) onto the shellac disc rotating on the Garrard SP25 MkII record deck. Then the four would agree, yes, this will be worth skipping school for, before lying back in the semi-darkness of that room, deep within the bowels of that quaint split-level house, and allowing the music to flood over them in waves of sonic bliss, signals arcing from speaker to speaker, a mélange of guitars (lap steel! Stratocasters!) of bass, of keyboard washes, pounding tom-tom rolls, human heartbeats, Moog synthesizers, found voices and finally the eerie, weary, ennui filled tones of David Gilmour… “Breathe, breathe in the air…”

It really was like that. Today’s pop kids will never experience anything similar, oh no. There really was (still is, I fervently hope) a John Farquhar. And a Donald (Danny) Farquhar (his cousin, I think…). And a Donald McIntosh (‘Tosh, where are you now?). And a me. And we had skipped off school because John had bought ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, and his mum and dad were out, and they had a really good stereo system, and…

Guess what? I love music. For much of my life, child and adult, I have lived, eaten, slept and breathed music. I have even tormented countless thousands over the years with my attempts to perform music. To you, I now apologize unreservedly. However, the strongest attraction for me is still the recorded medium. Even now, a man who is over a half-century old, I become obsessed with particular bands or artists, labels or even sleeve artists. Ani bought me an I –Pod for Christmas. She jokingly (I hope) remarked the other night that it was the worst thing she could have bought me. Probably as I was completely immersed at that point in trawling the internet (do you think that’s why we say ‘trawling’, because it’s a ‘net’? I wonder…) to find jpegs of artists and record sleeves to upload to my pod (behold! I have the jargon!) for those tricky one-off or compilation things. Music is pretty much everywhere now, and is used to sell everything under the sun. I’ve now given up getting enormously annoyed at the hijacking of a classic track to sell soap powder or whatever, so it is good for me to reminisce about a time when that wasn’t quite the case, and ‘the man’ had not, like, completely turned us into, like, breadheads or worse…

The Famous Four music appreciation saga unfolded in the opening paragraph was by no means an isolated occurrence. Oh no. Group appreciation was one if the joys of being into music. Informal record clubs of all sorts proliferated amongst the wet flagstone streets of slumbery Thurso in the early part of the 1970’s. Occasionally these were simply evenings where one took it in turns to host a friend (or friends) to play them your choice of music, along with a guest spot for the album they would have brought with them. Much snobbery around the type of record deck/speakers/cartridges/stylus/dust removing paraphernalia used would take place (‘Oh. A Calotherm cloth. Hmmm. Personally I find that it can sometimes cause surface marking…’) Techniques for removing records from paper (or, god forbid, poly-lined – simply encourages static build up and therefore dust attraction!) sleeves without touching the playing surface would be appraised. The sleeves would themselves be studied as if ancient dusty tomes from the bowels of the National Library, carefully scrutinized for the meaning of the cover art, and how it linked to the music locked in the grooves… and then the music… protocol dictated listening in silence for at least one side, no matter how jarring or boring the experience was, before passing measured judgement upon the piece and its performers.

Colin Morrison, where are you now? Visits to Colin’s house were always interesting. He wasn’t really into pop music, he was much more cerebral. I had an extremely catholic taste in music, but sometimes Colin’s choices would stretch my tolerance level more than a little… Jukka Tolonen, anyone? However, thank you Colin for making me listen to Back Door. In these post-Morphine days I can appreciate much more a pre-punk instrumental Jazz-rock trio of bass, drums and saxophone. And his mum made a nice cup of tea. As did Eric Law’s. Nothing like a hot strong cuppa to help the synapses adjust to Aamon Duul, Tangerine Dream, Kevin Coyne, Van der Graaf Generator, Hatfield and the North… that sort of thing. You get the picture.. Eric was also probably the first person in the world to own a copy of Tubular Bells. I find it amazing now to reflect on how cutting edge we all (The navy greatcoat and mumbling brigade that is… not my skinhead friends, I have to say.) thought it was. His dad was an incredibly nice man who would often pop his head cheerily round the door to enquire after my health during the particularly grim passages of ‘dance of the lemmings’ or some such thing. Alan McPherson has previously received credit in this blog for his impact upon my life, but there’s no harm in another mention, is there Perce? Thank you for introducing me to Creedence and the 70’s Who, in particular. Then there were those who shared a particular obsession. Steven Beaton, David Moore and I were the three T.Rex fans in our High School class. That was a very dangerous thing to be in the early formative years of Glam Rock, as most chaps favoured the uncouth laddish glam of Slade. Kenny Cameron, a meenisters son, no less, used to give me an incredibly hard time about my obsession with hermaphrodite-hot-pants Bolan (©Record Mirror and Disc). Steven also favoured Welsh weed gobblers Man, for some truly unfathomable reason, and seemed to be the only person in Thurso with a John Kongos album.David and I would regularly quake in fear of being found by his dad using his incredibly state-of-the-art gramophone unit to play Tyrannosaurus Rex records on. It apparently was only designed to accept and play real music, i.e. classical. What untold damage did we cause to the valves and tubes by placing the woodland warbles of the bopping elf on its hallowed turntable…? David went on to have one of the coolest jobs in the entire world, senior lighting engineer for Top of the Pops…

Mr. Leon Volwerk was a history teacher who ran the Record Club at Thurso High school. Once a week we would gather in the upstairs music room to hear the chosen ones, the albums he had selected from those proffered by the spotty male longhairs who were the majority of attendees. Being able to only afford maybe one album a month at most, this was the opportunity to actually hear those things that one had read about and could only imagine in the days before decent radio signals reached Thurso. Black Sabbath ‘Master of Reality’, Deep Purple ‘In Rock’ (so exciting I actually ordered it from my mum’s clubbie book!) and the collected works of Jethro Tull, as Leon Volwerk, bless him, not only looked uncannily like Ian Anderson but also obsessed over him in much the same way I did over Marc Bolan. He never really liked my Pink Fairies ‘What a Bunch of Sweeties’ album much, ‘though…

It’s good for me to reminisce about what the world was like before punk, because to be honest the music that gets pigeon-holed into that pre-punk era of the 1970’s is often very unfairly done by. Every era has its bores (dare I say… no, I’d better whisper… Coldplay?) , but much of it was just as wild, wacky, out-there and funny as the tidal wave that swept through British music in the late 70’s. Its confession time now. Bless me Father, for I have sinned, it’s been a long time since I last confessed to this sin, Father…

Last night, a DJ saved my life. Ha Ha. Only joking. I’m afraid it’s worse than that.

Last night, I listened again to Yes.

Those of you who haven’t logged off in utter disgust by now, thank you for your continued support. I could blame the I-Pod (‘oh, you know it’s that shuffle feature. One never knows what will come up from that obscure compilation one downloaded months ago!’), but the sad truth is that I downloaded four tracks in the full knowledge that they were by Yes, and with the deliberate intention of listening to them. Which I did, last night.
The truth? I really, really enjoyed them, as I had done in the early 70’s. But where I (and John Farquhar, Perce, Steven… I’m not going down alone, you know…) had once scoured each subsequent Yes release for the cosmic portent invariably locked within, I now realized that that had been only part of the appeal of this much maligned band. They were so good because they were simply completely and utterly bonkers, out of their trees, tripping on Vishnu and vegetarianism, so far round the proverbial bend or corner that they were meeting themselves. Why play one note when you can fit ten in? Why should a guitar sound like a guitar? Why shouldn’t you sing lyrics that only a gnome that had received a serious blow to the medulla oblongata could decipher in a voice that suggested your favourite pastime was inhaling helium? Why not play your bass through a broken speaker so it sounds like a large over-amplified rubber band? Why bother with 4/4 time? Four technically staggering musicians and a crazy lad from Accrington invented this complex sound universe that does sound like they had been blindfolded and thrown into a big bag full of instruments and told to play as fast and as complex as they could because not only their lives, but the entire fate of the universe depended upon then achieving cosmic Nirvana. And by heck, they nearly made it. I truly believe that some Yes moments do stand alongside such wonders as the glacial distance of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, the sound and fury of the Pistols in their prime, the eerie otherworldliness of the Only Ones, the righteous fire of the Clash…

The earphones hurt my tired ears, but by closing my eyes I can drift back into the last century, the years sliding away, ten, twenty, thirty… more… and I am back in John Farquhar’s house, in the curtained semi-darkness of the listening room, marveling at the sound of Steve Howe flicking his guitar pick against the strings behind the bridge of his Gibson, and how the sound hops through the air from speaker to speaker… track one of the Yes Album, ‘Yours Is No Disgrace’… then to end side one, the incredible build up to the closing part of ‘Starship Trooper’, ‘Wurm’ , an unfolding behemoth of sound that gets louder and louder before exploding into stereo tripping, guitar again leaping from left to right… to ‘Fragile’, and the architectural precision of ‘ Long Distance Runaround’, complex patterns fire off against each other with the rubberband bass of Chris Squire pulling the disparate components together… and finally… ‘Roundabout’. All hands on deck in dazzling form, and containing one of, if not the greatest, Hammond organ solos of all time. Rick Wakeman’s finest three minutes, pausing briefly to spar with the guitar before dancing to a conclusion where it almost sounds like he is cascading across the keys like a dazzling beer-blonde waterfall…

Pseuds corner may beckon, but dammit I still like Yes. And I’m glad I do. I will no longer hide how I feel about them, I now know that really I have nothing to be ashamed of.
Some wit once wrote a review of a Yes album which said, in its entirety,
‘Yes. No.’

I would have to disagree, with a double affirmative, on the rock – ‘Yes. YES!’

‘On a sailing ship to nowhere, leaving anyplace, if the summer turn to winter, yours is no, yours is no disgrace…’

Come on over to my house, I’ve a Gnidrolog album I really think you ought to hear…