tons of sobs

Free were a truly great band, were they not? In the field of contemporary rock music (sound of large plug of partially-chewed tobacco being expectorated into highly resonant spitoon) we have become so used to digital sound and production with its exaggerated top end frequencies and the tendency of producers to strive for the totally polished and unreal sound that we have forgotten that the best music is often made from several people in a room playing off one another, circling each other like predatory cats planning the kill… and when it comes together… yes!
Free were the masters of space – not space the final frontier, but space the… well, space the space between us all. Absolute epitome of the oft quoted dictum, it’s not what ya play, it’s what ya don’t play, they knew when to lean back and simply let the atoms and molecules hum along. When in the yUK I bought the soundtrack to ‘Life on Mars’, which contains a more than fair smattering of classic 70’s tracks. Of course they are remastered, which means that every cymbal ping slices the eardrum like a Mach 3 Turbo Extra Plus Superglide or-whatever-the-hell-it-is slashes through the morning stubble (legs or face, whatever fits the bill, ladies or gents), but the sheer quality of the source material transcends the modern Frankenstein studio mangling. Sitting in amongst the many gems (Lindisfarne – ‘Meet Me On The Corner’ – more genuine warmth than your grannie’s hotplate when she was making griddle (or, as we used to say in Caithness, girdle) scones) is ‘Little Bit of Love’ by Free. Critics say that Free were past their best by then, but Pshaw! What do critics know? Get a hold of it (preferably on vinyl) and listen… listen to the sound of mastery of space – every note counts, every note in its right place… and Andy Fraser… he’s up there with the Jack Bruce’s, Paul McCartney’s and Raymond Henderson’s of this world – what a bass player! Most of the track HE DOES NOT EVEN PLAY! I’m even inclined to forgive Paul Rogers for hanging out with Queen and Paul Kossof for dying young. Simon Kirke’s drumming has that lazy 60’s just behind the beat feel down pat (and this was the 70’s, natch!), someone (probably Rabbit) remembers to occasionally hit a piano in the same key and the whole earmelting liquid gold that oozes from the speakers just wants to make me rush out into the street wearing an ‘I’m with Stupid’ T-shirt and a pair of frayed 28-inch bottom loon pants. Yeah!

(but what would the monks say…)

I’m going through a re-evaluation of who and where I am musically (don’t worry world, this is only taking place inside my own head) – I was astonished the other night when Otis (7 months and crawling/standing now – look out civilisation, your end is nigh!) and I were watching the Cream reunion DVD – what an exciting life we expats lead! – he sat absolutely transfixed by 7 minutes or so of Ginger Baker’s drum solo… something I confess I find slightly hard to do even now… but sometimes, as the Byrds say, it’s really worth Goin’ Back…
regular readers can probably expect to find more of this ‘pointless nostalgia’ in the weeks and months to come, but for now, well, you’ll have to excuse me for a few minutes (or one side of an LP) for I feel a psychedelic twelve-bar improvisation coming on…

Things to set the scene:

Cheesecloth Shirt
denim loons
army/navy greatcoat
patchouli oil
pewter pendant
t-shirt with scoop neck and bell sleeves, with mushroom print
afghan jacket

all the above could be purchased at Lorna Humphries wee hippy shop, next to George Downie’s, High street, Thurso… but only in the 70’s…

soundtrack… Bodie and Leo and Paranoya (those who know will know…)

more next time, maybe…

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life on mars…?

As i sit before my wife’s parents PC (‘evening all… mind how you go…’ – no, not that kind of PC… though one would be forgiven for thinking so, as the yUK is gripped firmly at the neck by security insecurity at the moment)and begin to do the one finger dance on the keyboard that others more skilled than I call typing, I realise that it has been eleven days since I last wrote something on my blog… frankly disgraceful, and I aplologise to all my regular readers unreservedly for depriving both of you of my deprecating blatherings for so long… however, I’m sure that my protracted absence from cyberspace has, in reality, somewhat enriched your lives. I did write a couple of paragraphs en route to the yUK, one in Phnom Penh airport and one in Suvanaboombangabang airport in Bangkok (name changed to protect the innocent (or stupid people who do not actually know how to write/pronounce it – stand up the author)), but they were miserable rantings about how much I hate hanging around in airports, and how much I hate people like me who pull Macbooks from their backpacks and start to write about how much they hate hanging around in airports.I am becoming, or have become,without any doubt, a grumpy old man, which horrifies and amuses me in equal measure.
Anyway, a quick update – I am back in the moist and tepid yUK, reunited with my lovely wife (even more beautiful and kind than I remember) and son (bigger, cheekier and also very regularly visited by the wonderfuls and the beautifuls), am very happy about that, and will write some more about what we have been up to (including a brief visit to Barcelona for our Ani-versary, really exciting – even more so as we stayed in the very hotel room which the fabulous Beatles whom we all know and love etc etc had stayed in during a visit to the city in the 60’s – yay!!)in the near future. I feel quite dislocated from the yUK now, more like an external observer from another world than a genuine living and breathing yUK citizen (with all the perks that brings with it), compounded by watching/catching up with the truly wonderful Beeb series ‘life on mars’, whose protagonist, DC Simms, is suffering from a similar sense of dislocation to that I feel, albeit in a temporal mode…
It’s with a sense of relief that I realise that British television can still pull off these exciting and thought provoking dramas from time to time which helps allay the general media led malaise that can seem to grip the country to the dismay of the outside world (me). I gaze horrified at the blank television stares of the many nonentities that populate the small screen and proliferate on the glossy covers of the magazines and garish tabloids in the newsagents and muse ‘where did it all go wrong?’.
Is Chris Moyles really the epitome of the modern British male? Jade Goody really the girl next door?
God, Allah, Jehovah, Shiva, Buddah and Gaia help us…

‘look at those cavemen go, it’s the freakiest show…

…is there life on Mars?’

‘you’re nicked, sunshine’