Sunday, 23 December 2012


My car's mileometer tripped over 100,000 miles last night. Obviously I'd known this moment was on the way, and given the time of year I had thought we'd be on a longish journey somewhere and had visions of pulling over for a celebratory snack or cup of coffee, maybe treat the car to a premium car wash or something. As it was I was just returning from the supermarket fairly late on, in response to an urgent hankering for some enchiladas.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Requiescat in space*

This arrived today, it's Trevor Henderson's depiction of Major Tom's probable fate.  Think I might get it framed for Christmas. After death by quicksand death by shattered spacesuit visor was probably that which most preoccupied my morbid nine year old mind. Looking it up, outer space isn't actually that bad for you. It's the lack of air mainly.

*Tortured by the thought of any passing Latinists: I realise that pace is not pronounced to rhyme with space, but it looks good.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Word of the day

Speleology - the scientific study of caves, from Greek Spelaion for cave.  Spotted today in an interesting article about Caracalla's Baths in the Guardian.  You'll pardon my ignorance, my Oxford book of Ologies & Isms leaps from spectr(o) to -sperm.  Before today, if challenged to come up with a word for the study of caves, I'd probably have gone for Troglology.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

It's Tuesday...let's dance

I remember in 1988 or 89 making a very definite decision not to go along with some friends to a proper rave in a field somewhere. I wasn't into the clothes and it seemed ridiculous to me to pay £25 for a tab of ecstasy.

Round at their places though I never found it an unpleasant experience to listen to the tunes they were into. I was (and still am) an armchair enthusiast of house, techno etc.  This track dates from 1991 and while I'm sure youngsters are at this very moment getting blissfully off their tits to no doubt excellent records I regard this kind of thing as the Motown of house music.

M & M Don't Stand In My Way

Sunday, 2 December 2012


As reasonably serious Bob Dylan fans me and the missus scurried out to buy No Direction Home on the day it was released.  It's a great film, I especially like the interview with Bob when he's rocking back and forth in his chair, physically and mentally on the very edge.

Of all the many songs featured in the film the one that most blew me away was Waterboy by Odetta, and I've been quietly on the look out for it ever since (about seven years, I was surprised to learn). During my quest I turned up many a disappointing version. However, yesterday I found the one true version - hiding on a Harry Belafonte live album.

Odetta Waterboy

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Their satanic top ten

Prompted by Rol's latest top ten, I was just going to leave a comment but it would have got too long. So, here we are.

1. Midnight Rambler
This is the only one that's going to get a numerical ranking. I can remember thinking, the first few times I heard it, that it was just a bit of a jumble. Then one listen it just clicked for me and has been my favourite Stones track ever since.

Picked for the sound of it all, lyrically it has its moments ("I'm just a shoot 'em dead brain bell jangler") but really - a song from the viewpoint of a rapist?

Jumpin' Jack Flash
Proves that lyrics can be dead simple and about anything, you've just got to think of them. Often I get bored of songs and cut them short to put the next one on, but I always listen to this one right to the end for the little organ bit.  Also a candidate for best pop video ever.

Honky Tonk Women
Possibly the best intro of any of their songs.  Like a lot of my choices here it pretty much comes down to the sound of the guitar. There's a bit in David Dalton's The Rolling Stones: The First Twenty-Five Years in which Keith reveals the tunings he used for Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed. Very interesting stuff.

Parachute Woman
Very short, a sort of concentrated version of Midnight Rambler in a way (for if you're in a hurry). Most of the same ingredients: lolloping drumbeat, slide guitar, harmonica. I dunno what a parachute woman is, one especially dropped in for Mick?  More talk of blowing.

Play With Fire
Such an immense sound. The b side to The Last Time but the better song I think. Features a harpsichord, which I'm sure I've said before is my favourite pop instrument. Is it misogynistic? I'm afraid it probably is.

For the most part I'm an orthodox Stones fan, sticking to the run of albums Beggars Banquet to Exile On Main Street and I take the view that Their Satanic Majesties Request is a bit silly. It does have three good tunes on it though and this is the best of them. Weirdly good lyrics, uses the word pinnacles.

Turd On The Run
Exuberant whooping from Exile On Main Street.  

Little Red Rooster
An early favourite. For the immaculate slide guitar and the tick of the drums. I like loads of their earlier things (Walking The Dog nearly made the list) and their big middle period hits (Ruby Tuesday, Get Off My Cloud etc.) but I've just listened most of them to death.

Under My Thumb
Except for this one. After harpsichords, marimbas may be my favourite pop instrument. Or anything that makes a chiming noise I suppose. I heard a live version of this on a documentary once, the delicate marimba riff had been replaced by a fairly crude guitar - sounded really good.

Monkey Man
More Let It Bleed era badness. For the intro, especially the bit where Keith doesn't play the guitar at about the 19 seconds mark. Excellent bassline.