Tuesday, 27 December 2011

You can call me Bill

My Uncle Bill sadly died over Christmas. Not strictly an uncle, what I really mean is that he was our next door neighbour when I lived in Hull in the 1960s. My parents still kept in touch when we moved away and exchanged Christmas cards with him up to and including this year. And even though we weren't related and his name wasn't Bill - it said Brian Ian Lambert on his passport - he was still a lovely man. A gentleman. And a well respected musician on the Hull music scene in the 60s and 70s.

But Brian wasn't called Bill because of his initials. Born in 1934 he was known by family and friends alike as Bri - until the week before his thirtieth birthday: because on 21 September 1964 he became part of Rock and Roll folklore.

The Rolling Stones had never been to Hull before. Their train pulled into Paragon Station just before midday on that late summer's morning; they were due to play two gigs at The ABC Cinema that day - an afternoon matinee and an evening performance. Whilst the road crew were setting up their equipment, Mick and the lads went to grab a bite to eat. With the afternoon gig scheduled for 2.30 they had plenty of time to get back for the show. But when lunch turned into an impromptu pub crawl it soon became clear that Bill Wyman was drinking two pints to everyone else's one.

They were half an hour late for the first show. Wyman, never one to move around much on stage at the best of times, planted himself next to his amp and looked like he'd just been dug up; between numbers he was throwing up into a hastily found bucket behind the stage curtain. He managed to complete the set but within five minutes of the curtain going down, the paralytic bass player was in his hotel bed. It was obvious he wouldn't be in any state to play the evening performance so the band's manager Andrew Loog Oldham was on the phone to find a stand-in. By 7.00 (an hour before show time) Oldham drew a blank. With everyone he knew back in London he'd have to look for a local musician. Ordering a drink in the hotel bar he asked the barman if he knew of anyone. 'I play a bit' said Bri.

Ten minutes later he was whisked to the venue to soundcheck with the rest of the band and learn a dozen or so songs he'd only ever heard briefly on Radio Luxembourg. Apparently Keith told him to 'do everything I do and you won't go far wrong.' It went well. Mick introduced him as 'our new Bill' and Brian said 'you're better than the old Bill.' So from that night on he was known as Bill. When I asked him many years later if he still dined out on the story, he replied 'What do you think?'

Monday, 19 December 2011

Time shifting

Doing anything for Christmas? I'm time shifting. Trawling through the Radio Times double ish is never easy at the best of times, but, once I've established what's on BBC Radio 4, 4X, 3, 6, 2, Ulster (Gerry Anderson) and Wales (Rhod Gilbert), I'll be able to sort out my holiday podcast listening. I shan't be bothering with the telly - too many box sets to wade through.

If I don't see you before, have a good one.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Sleigh bells ring


Thankfully, The Sweet never released a Christmas single. I'm sure that back in the day the band's mentors, Messrs. Chinn & Chapman, would have moved Heaven and Earth so their charges could have followed the well trodden Slade, Wizzard and Mud path. However, in 1974 the intro to the group's own composition Own Up, Take A Look At Yourself (the B side of Chinnichap stomper Teenage Rampage) opens with some very evocative sleigh bells.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Spun Off

Parker and Light Fingered Fred discuss going it alone

TV spin-offs generally fall into two camps. They're either runaway successes that leave the mothership without a backward glance. Or they fall flat on their arse with ensuing death threats to the writers and actors, even The Radio Times. We all know the good guys - Frasier (from Cheers), Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge (The Day Today) Parsley (The Herbs) to name but three. And the baddies - Going Straight (Porridge - what were Clement and Le Frenais thinking?), Charles Endell Esq. (Budgie - probably the only time Keith Waterhouse took his eye off the ball), The Pebbles And Bam Bam Show (The Flinstones), Joey (Friends) and so the list goes on.

But I think the filing cabinet should have two more drawers; the writers (sometimes) give us a brief glimpse of what could have been: Matt Groening knew that Chief Wiggum could have gone the distance - we all remember The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase and the all too brief Wiggum PI. And then there's the bottom drawer. Spin-offs that were only ever made in our heads. My candidates for this treatment would include the identically dressed Howard and Hilda from Ever Decreasing Circles who would often leave dinner parties early to listen to The Shipping Forecast. I'd also pluck the two hapless Detectives from The Beiderbecke Trilogy who, with the help of Alan Plater, were given some fabulous lines. But, if push came to shove, my first choice would be Light Fingered Fred - Parker's jailbird buddy from Thunderbirds. Gerry Anderson gave the blundering con enough pathos to guarantee ratings week in week out, if he'd have so wished. In fact I'd have put the pair on at The National in Waiting For Godot. Well they gave it to Rick and Vivian, didn't they? Sorry, Mayall and Edmondson; who were, in turn, spin offs themselves.

Friday, 2 December 2011

The third dimension

For my sins, I still take a daily paper; I don't know why, the harbingers of doom are everywhere - Europe's falling apart, David Cameron's telling everyone he can fix it and Jeremy Clarkson is setting up his own branch of Dignitas. And the trade unions are cutting up rough - again. How I long for a world where our Prime Minister smoked a pipe, Desmond Carrington was a cutting edge DJ and we all wore hats to football. A world where Marilyn Monroe and her legendary hourglass figure could stop traffic with nothing more than a smile.

Today's edition of The Times reports that a set of 3-D images of Monroe have been made public for the first time. They're going to be auctioned in Los Angeles later in the month and are expected to fetch at least £50,000. I can only imagine (and I have a very vivid imagination) how astonishing the above photograph must look in 3-D. Perhaps if the successful bidder is reading this he may grant me a private viewing. Nurse! The screens!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Powers to the people

Last week saw me bombing down to south London for the only UK gig by Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds as part of their latest European tour. Playing underneath the arches at The Elephant and Castle, a more low key gig you'd struggle to find.

With an impressive CV including tenures with The Gun Club, The Cramps and The Bad Seeds, Kid Congo Powers is the go to guy if you like your guitar playing to tick psychobilly, punky blues, even jangly boxes. But Powers isn't a box ticker. His sweeping cinematic style, particularly on the band's many soaring instrumentals are a cross between Ennio Morricone and Link Wray. Thus his widescreen sound is layered, hypnotic and, above all, toe tapping.
He even mans his own 'merch stand'. How refreshing to meet a rockstar whose ego doesn't enter the room a full ten minutes before them.

Kid (right) and Kiki: Clunk Click!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Friday, 4 November 2011

1970-1977

I never tire of looking at photographs of The Beatles, especially when I stumble across ones I've never seen (or can't remember seeing) before. Earlier today I found this little gem.

To the untrained eye you'd say it was lifted from the 1967-1970 Blue Album. But look again. It's obviously taken at Manchester Square in Marylebone (EMI's London offices), however, it's been taken from a diiferent angle and on a different day. I know it's a boy thing; if I was to show the picture to my GLW and say 'can't you see George is wearing a different jacket?' I'd get 'the look' and probably an audible sigh which, over the years, I've translated into English: it means 'grow up.'
Which is probably why I won't be showing her this photograph either.

Before they demolished EMI (the building*, not the label) another four piece combo had their mugshots taken from the bottom of the stairwell.

* I'm assured that the rail Macca is leaning on now resides in his office.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The lexicon of football

I can't see John Terry turning up in Countdown's Dictionary Corner anytime soon.

This, from the back page of today's Times:

Terry's explanation is that he responded in an aggressive fashion to an accusation phrased in the form of a question from Ferdinand, "Did you just call me a f***ing black c***?" The England captain has told Chelsea officials that he reacted by shouting, "Oi! I never said f***ing black c*** you f***ing knobhead."


Friday, 14 October 2011

Fly Navy

Fly/Navy: one of the many flight stickers adorning Fame's Hammond

Georgie Fame without his beloved Hammond organ? It's a contender for Rhod Gilbert's Celebrity Out Of Context Bingo, surely: Ant without Dec, A Chuckle Brother on his own, Jeremy Clarkson on a bus etc.

But when penning a jingle for a popular brand of petrol, Fame didn't have time in the studio to show his guitarist the chords. So he played it himself. And the song, which doesn't even mention petrol, went to Number One.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Lennon is dead, long live Lennon

Neil Harrison doesn't believe in anti-ageing cream

After 31 years of aping John Lennon, head honcho of The Bootleg Beatles, Neil Harrison, is finally hanging up his Rickenbacker. During a gig in St. Albans earlier this year Bootleg John announced that he was leaving the group 'to bring the average age down a bit.' Harrison's mimicry has mesmerised audiences the world over - the refrain 'it's like he's in the room' has been echoing around Bootlegs' shows for so long that retirement probably won't come easy (the real Lennon would have been 71 today, and obviously for him retirement was never an option). So big shoes to fill then. Step forward Adam Hastings. Not surprisingly he's been headhunted from another Beatles tribute band.

Adam Hastings - they found him in Hamburg, you know

So now, instead of plying his trade in the lower leagues, the Blue Square if you will, he's now, quite literally, playing in Europe. How will audiences react? Will they believe in the new Lennon just as they did the old? For what it's worth, I think there's another 30 years in the tank yet; a bit like The Harlem Globetrotters, or The Drifters, it's the name over the door the punters come to see.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

I always get rebuffed


At our last songwriters circle on Monday we got to talking about Bob Dylan's Sara. It was suggested that it was the only lyric to contain the word kelp. Would that it were. Looking at this list it would appear we are living in a kelp abundant world.

Likewise Jona Lewie's 'Kitchen at Parties.' I really did think that it was the only song to mention the word rebuffed. Wrong!

Jona Lewie: You'll always find me in the kitchen at parties

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The number you have dialed has not been recognised


We all remember different things from our childhood and adolescence. Some of the most memorable moments for me came from sitting in my bedroom in front of my very first portable TV (Black & White, of course). I say in front; when adjusting the aerial (nothing more than a glorified coat hanger) to obtain a better picture I was stood invariably to the side (and sometimes behind the damn thing) trying, in vain, to get rid of the permanent snow which blighted most programmes. Most programmes after 11 o'clock at night, that is. Which is when I saw 'La Cabina' (The Telephone Box). A foreign film with no dialogue, it left me with a permanent fear of using public telephones. Dating back to the early 70s I would probably have seen it around '74/'75. And then only the once. VHS/Betamax was just a pipe-dream so it was burned into my retinas where it's remained for 35+ years. Until today. I've finally found it; I can now uninstall it from my brain's hard drive.

Anyway, put the kettle on and pull up a chair - it's worth it.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Mk II

I've had a cracking few days; in no particular order: newly found relatives coming miles out of their way to have lunch with us. Calling an old school friend long distance in California. I've acquired a new guitar. The weather, for once, has been something to write home about. And then my best friend and his GLW stopped with us a couple of days - and he played me this:



For Steve. And Riggsby

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Small faces

They're not pets, Susan

It's the stuff of B Movies: tiny people living unnoticed in big cities. London based street artist, known simply as Slinkachu, photographs - and then abandons - figurines (less than an inch high) in the capital; we are then left with thought provoking, and sometimes quite scary, scenarios where clusters of the dispossessed are left to their own devices.

You may just want to keep 'em peeled next time you're fetching a pint of milk or walking the dog. And, whatever you do, don't try to apprehend them.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Shangri La

It's that time of year: the Medds are on tour. We're heading South by South West for a few days to catch the last of the rays, prop up a few bars and generally slip anchor. The location? That would be telling. Though if you Googled Shangri La you'd be getting warm.

Clock the video below for a very young looking Neil Innes; twenty years later he would put his Ron Nasty wig on, dust down this song and give it a Rutles makeover. And how's this for serendipity - when we get back, as soon as we've have unpacked the suitcases, it'll be straight out again for a night of Short Stories And Tall Songs with the man himself.

See you on the other side.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

We lit a fire?

If Beatles cover versions were motorways they would be strewn with pileups and fatalities. And hard shoulders nose to tail with breakdowns awaiting recovery. Cue Cilla Black: I don't think I've ever heard a cover version where the whole meaning of the song has been altered, nay butchered, by changing just a handful of words.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Swann songs

Since moving up here I've made a lot of good friends - many of them musicians; I'm still waiting, in vain, for some of their alchemy to rub off on me; when it comes to comes to describing my musical abilities I subscribe to the Rob Brydon school of music - 'I'm not a guitarist, I'm a man who owns a guitar.'

One such friend is David Swann: one of Ryedale's most engaging troubadours and all round good egg, he held a CD launch party for his latest bunch of songs on Saturday night. Chasing The Light, is his fifth album and, probably, his finest collection yet. Playing the album from start to finish (but not necessarily in the correct running order - much to the chagrin of David Illingworth his arranger & second guitarist) in the Harbour Suite of The Bridlington Spa, was the perfect backdrop to his sublime artistry. David's music is nothing short of inspiring and touches many of life's perennial bases - life, love and death. And trunk roads! - David has written his own homegrown response to America's famous Route 66. Get your kicks on the A64.

David Swann: A64



Here's another gem from from the new album: David performed it earlier in the year (with Boo Hewerdine), again at The Spa - this video also gives you an idea of the room's breathtaking vista.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Ticket to ride

James Riggsby, Jim to his friends, drove Routemaster buses in London all his working life. He left school in 1929, aged sixteen, and after just three months of training, five weeks before his 17th birthday, became a conductor. Three months later London Transport put him in charge of his very own bus. He drove the 139 from Cricklewood to Oxford Circus, a route he made his own until he retired in 1978. Jim lived most of his life in Kilburn and, even on his days off, he could be seen outside his flat waiting for the 139 to Lord's for a day at the cricket. A busman's holiday, I guess.

He would joke with the staff at the nursing home where he lived for the last eight and a half years that, if he did make it to 100, he would expect Her Majesty The Queen to catch the bus from Buckingham Palace to Kilburn to deliver his card by hand. Unfortunately, Jim passed away earlier this year. He was 98.

Speaking to his son, Les, it would appear that his father kept a diary at work. He would fill it in each evening after his shift (or early morning, if he'd been driving the night bus) whilst having a cup of tea in the staff canteen. Apparently the book is jam packed full of anecdotes and reads like a real life version of On The Buses.

Jim even had a few celebrities on his bus including Max Bygraves, Michael Caine ('he was carrying a bunch of flowers and an attache case with a pair of socks poking out the top') and Princess Margaret ('she was hiding under a headscarf and was wearing dark glassss, but you can't hide royalty').

But it's the entry for 8 August 1969 which makes the most interesting reading: 'Driving down Abbey Road this morning and see a geezer in the middle of the road, in front of the zebra, standing on a pair of step ladders with a camera. Four long haired layabouts then cross over the road and then come back again. And then back again. Blooming traffic was queued right back. What was that all about then?'

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Stop the world, I want to get off

No caption required

It's been said many times, I know, but buying new albums these days is a very sterile affair. We just don't have the same emotional attachment to CDs as we did with shellac* and vinyl; the sanitised sound with all the goodness taken out, liner notes which can only be read with the aid of the Hubble telescope and, please, don't get me started on digital downloads - Artwork? What artwork? I'm just grateful that the great jazzers never lived to witness the iTunes phenomenon; coming home on the bus with a hallowed copy of Playboys under your arm is an experience that can't be replicated by hitting the 'Are you sure you want to buy and download Black Eyed Peas?' button on a laptop - where it will be dumped in your library and, almost certainly, languish unlistened to for the rest of time. Nurse! The screens!

OK, shellac was before my time, but it scans, alright?


Friday, 19 August 2011

Idling

'The biggest misconception people have about me is that I'm stupid'

Billy Idol recently tweeted that he's writing his memoirs. As coffee table books go it bears all the potential hallmarks of an interesting read; depending on how selective his memory is it should be a tad deeper than a copy of, let's say, Hello! magazine. I say should: he'll no doubt want to concentrate on the superstar years but I'm more interested in The Bromley Contingent, Chelsea, Generation X, playing darts with John Walters and whether or not he tuned his own guitar. His publisher, on the other hand, will probably insist that the early days are glossed over in the first chapter with the emphasis on White Wedding, motorbike crashes and his Hollywood Hills nubiles.

Either way, William Albert Broad and his chums in Generation X (Tony James, Derwood Andrews and Mark Laff) provided the back drop to one of the most memorable nights in the life of your humble narrator: on 2 December 1978 they played West Runton Pavilion on my best friend's 18th birthday. We spent the whole gig down the front dodging the gob. And flying beer cans. They were utterly brilliant. Unfortunately, no footage of the gig exists. Unlike the second time I saw Idol in the flesh nearly 30 years later at Nottingham's Rock City. I was covering the gig for the local paper and although I didn't quite do a hatchet job on him, I did receive hate mail from some of his adoring fans. He was quite clearly past his sell by date and, check my video (below) at 31 seconds, his microphone throwing* capabilities were not commensurate with those of a card carrying rock star. In fact, they were pretty sh*t.

I'll be interested to see if either of the above shows gets a mention. I shan't hold my breath.


* Roger, show Billy how it's done. Ah, maybe not.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Sticky fingers


Spent the day with Number One Son in Manchester yesterday. Despite what you may have heard, the city centre wasn't overrun with Scallies burnin', lootin' and robbin'. They were probably all in front of the judge being given their seven week suspended sentences (that'll have them quaking in their recently acquired footwear).

But I did spot this secondhand bookshop selling used 'girly mags' from 40p. That's used girly mags.

Now that is wrong on soooo many levels.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

For one afternoon only


It's not often you can drop into conversation the fact that you're playing Earls Court. But that's precisely what I'm doing: tomorrow afternoon at 1.30, at the 40th Great British Beer Festival, I will be speaking with Sue Nowak at a tutored tasting, A Slice Of Real Ale, where I will be gabbing on about Medd's Bread. And, not unlike The Who, Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones before me, it's sold out! I told you my bread would be world famous, didn't I?

I'll drink to that.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Where have all the good times gone?

Dave & Megs

BBC 4 are showing a delightful documentary next week to mark the the 40th Anniversary of the 1971 Glastonbury Fayre. The trailer I saw was where they'd managed to find the first couple who came through the gates. Dave and Megs had only just met earlier that day at Blue Boar Services on the M1 and had hitched a lift in the back of a long wheel based Ford transit van to Pilton in Somerset. They'd both left behind partners who had no interest in music (or indeed free love) so they, independently, set out from their Midlands homes to the motorway and stuck their thumbs out.

Soon after gaining admission it wasn't long until Dave and festival organiser Michael Eavis struck up a lasting friendship (they still exchange Christmas cards). Dave immediately became known as 'The Milkman' when Eavis' plans to deliver fresh milk to everyone's tent first thing in the morning meant he'd need an extra pair of hands.

Megs, meanwhile, was busy decorating the hippy contingent with body paint. And it was while she was painting Dave's naked torso in the shadow of the Pyramid Stage on the Saturday afternoon that he proposed to her. Within the hour a local vicar had been summoned and David Bowie cut short his set to be the best man.

Fast forward forty years and Dave & Megs have just celebrated their Ruby wedding anniversary. Amongst the guests who attended their lavish party at Henley-on-Thames Rowing Club was, yes, you've guessed it, David Bowie.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Pure pop for white haired people

It's the little things in life; I've just received an email telling me that if I pre-order Nick Lowe's new album, The Old Magic (out 13 September on yepROC), I'll receive a free Nick Lowe deck of cards. Yay, yay and thrice yay!

Here at Medd Towers, we have a soft spot for the one they call Basher. We've been lucky to see him a number of times: his capital gigs - at The Jazz Cafe, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Her Majesty's Theatre - are shows that stay fresh in the mind some 10+ years later.

I once interviewed him for a feature I was writing for Record Collector magazine. The interview was set up by another legend, Jake Riviera, and when we spoke on the telephone we ended up chatting for nearly an hour. From pub rock and punk to alt country and beyond, Mr Lowe has indeed got the tee shirt.

Tony Bennett aside, you'll be hard pushed to find another artist who just keeps on getting better despite the advancement of years. Is there anyone else still cutting a rug, and on an upward trajectory, in their dotage? Answers on a postcard to the usual address.

Game of cards, anyone?

Nick Lowe: Faithless Lover

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Besides

Oh I do like to be beside the B-side

Over on S6 Radio tonight, Piley and Mondo will be bringing you another Sesame slice of peerless platters brought to you by the letter B. From what I can gather, Baby You're A Rich Man (originally) by The Beatles is getting an airing.

The original didn't get much of a look in back in the day; that's because it was a B-side. The A-side being All You Need Is Love (you may have heard of it).

So, let's hear it for B-sides. The tunes that don't get on the radio. The songs that bands often think aren't strong enough to stand on their own two feet and, by inference, don't make the cut when the album comes out; though Oasis did buck the trend in the mid 90s. How else could Queen's Roger 'I'm just the drummer' Taylor have amassed such a personal fortune if he hadn't persuaded the suits at EMI to put his, rather lame, I'm In Love With My Car on the B-side of multi-million selling BoRhap?

However, one of my favourite bands took B-sides very seriously. The Sweet's only shop window to show the world that they were serious musos and not just a bubblegum boy band (there's three more Bs!), was the B-side - it's where they put all their 'heavy stuff.' The darker side, if you will, to the manufactured Chinnichap choons (Need A Lot Of Lovin', Burning, Someone Else Will to name but three). So here's one of my all time favourites. And besides, any excuse to shoehorn The Sweet into my blog can only be a good thing. Can't it?

Here we go then, Burn (1) On The Flame by The Sweet fronted by Brian (2) Connolly, the B-side (3) of The Six Teens.

Burn On The Flame

Monday, 18 July 2011

The cat in the hat

Jingo

My good friend Sarah has recently acquired a new kitten and a bowler hat. So I suppose the above photo has a certain inevitability about it.

I like a bowler, don't you? From Mr Benn and The Homepride Men to A Clockwork Orange and John Cleese's Ministry of Silly Walks, the bowler has been the titfer of choice throughout the ages for the great and the good. Here's a quartet who need no introduction...

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Slade? Now you're talking

Slade (l-r) Don, Nod, Jim and a BacoFoil Nun

Andy Kershaw's been through the wringer of late. I'm looking forward to reading his cathartic No Off Button. Never one to pull his punches (even Peely gets a kicking, apparently), I love his take on music:

The Beatles? Unexciting. Elvis Presley? Manifestly plastic. David Bowie? Self-important. Slade? Now you're talking...

Mama Weer All Crazee Now

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Flash Bang Wallop!

What a picture, what a photograph

I recently entered the BrewDog 2011 Photography Competition; I don't suppose I'll win, but, as you can see from the picture above, it combines two passions of mine. If you took either one away my life would not be complete. Don't get me wrong, I subscribe to the school of good food and good company - but, when push comes to shove, beer and music clock in at 1st and 2nd when it comes to the essentials of life; it's a good day's ride with fresh horses before you come to 3rd.

Tommy Steele: Flash Bang Wallop!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Friends for life


Twin brothers Ronald and Ian Courtenay and their best friend David Finney were inseparable. They were born in the same street in Stradhoughton, went to the same school and, as kids, knocked around the same youth clubs and street corners. As young men their Friday night chat up lines delivered at The Roxy were legendary, so girlfriends were never in short supply.

They even joined The Regiment on the same day. Separated from their family for the first time, the three Privates found themselves a long way from home and fighting for reasons they didn't fully understand. Long letters and postcards to loved ones revealed their innermost thoughts and in one particular letter from David to his mother he told of his feeling of isolation: 'At least Ron and Ian have each other but I feel lost out here. I want to come home.'

David never made it home. He was killed in action; a fierce battle saw him and eight of his mates gunned down in their prime. The eldest was 21, David was two weeks shy of his 20th birthday.

Ronald and Ian came back after three years changed men; as did many of their comrades. Until they left England for a life in Australia, they tended David's grave every week. And now, on the other side of the world, surrounded by children and grandchildren, on the anniversary of his death, they raise a glass to David and toast absent friends.


Wednesday, 29 June 2011

This is Pop


I love old photographs. Who doesn't? But when my dad recently gave me a big brown envelope full of random 'family snaps' I was somewhat troubled by the fact that I hardly knew any of the protagonists. 'Go away and write on the back who, where and when,' I told him.

So that's what he did. Now it all begins to make sense. So, knowing how boring other people's photos can be, here's just a small selection. I've now got a photograph of my great great great grandmother.

My grandfather, aka Pop, doing a spot of parading.

A rather nice shot of him with my Nanna on the promenade in Eastbourne in 1963; I love the way men used to wear shirts and ties when visiting the seaside.


And then, at the bottom of the envelope, came The Mystery Woman; my dad put a question mark on the back of her photograph. It would appear nobody in the family knows who she is. She's a flapper and no mistaking. Looks like I could be doing some detective work over the summer.





This post is dedicated to my Pop. John Richard Medd (whose name I share) was born December 29 1906. (my birthday is the 28th) and died December 1983. I think about him often.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Get Christie


The tickets for last night's show* had been on the side of the fridge for what seemed like an eternity. The current Mrs M would often fill a lull in conversation with 'Tony Christie's on in (pick a number between 1 and 6) weeks' - Medd Towers had succumbed to Christie fever. And so we set off for the little Arts Centre where the Steel City belter, known to his mother as Anthony Fitzgerald, and his nine piece band (would there be room for them all on the compact stage?, we were thinking on the way) were playing the 41st night on a grueling 50 date tour; to mark the anniversary of his 50 years in the business.

Parking up and walking to the venue we saw what looked like several Wallace Arnold refugees heading in the same direction: 'Looks like we'll be the youngest ones in tonight' I said to the GLW. I wasn't wrong. In our seats with time to spare whoever was in charge of the sound-system had got it spot on: some laid back Hammond grooves even had the blue rinse brigade tapping their feet in anticipation.

And then the lights dimmed and the dulcet tones of Get Carter emerged; only it was Get Carter with a twist:

Tony Christie: Get Christie



The band (a nontet?) took up their positions before Christie entered stage left; sporting a stylish crumpled whistle and with his now trademark shock of silver hair, he clicked his fingers and the band launched into The Protectors Theme - better known as Avenues and Alleyways. Any doubts that the 68 year old wouldn't (or couldn't) hit all the notes were soon dispelled as his masterclass in how to deliver a back catalogue spanning five decades began.

All the hits were dispatched (I Did What I Did For Maria, Las Vegas, Is This The Way To Amarillo - obviously) in a perfunctory manner, but, for me, it was his album tracks that stood out and really showed what the man's made of: when he tackles The Human League's Louise (from his Made In Sheffield album) and strips it down to just voice, piano and acoustic guitar you realise just what a set of lungs he still has. His inter-song banter is very self deprecating and must surely herald an autobiography sometime soon. Christie's wilderness years, spent practising his golf swing in Spain, are described with such pathos that when he gets rediscovered (three times: by Jarvis Cocker, Peter Kay and Richard Hawley) you breath a sigh of relief knowing that he's finally got the recognition he deserves.

Much of the evening was spent plugging, and playing selections from, his new record, Now's The Time, and rightly so: with a bit of luck and some Radio 2 airplay, Tony Christie may well have a contender for Album Of The Year on his hands.

From the merch stand!

* It was definitely a show, not a gig