And play the songs we made

“Nantes” by Beirut has been getting a lot of headphonetime from me of late, this has made me seek out the track that got me into him initally;

“Postcards From Italy” 

The super-8 in the video has many interesting images, the armful of parrots, the old chap emerging from the sea smoking a fag, and other peculiairnia that folks film at home. 
This was one of my favourite tracks from a couple of years back, the combination of the irresistible guitar riff and the lovely horns is unstoppable, mixed up with the plaintive, romantic voice singing of “the times we had” is just amazing. 

Completely bereft – a final word.

I’m in a serious rut of not hitting the Ten now. It doesn’t seem to matter whether I get serious: Dakota Suite – Brittle With Sorrow

or whether I have my rocker head on: The Cult – Edie (Ciao Baby)

NOTHING is pushing Dorian’s buttons.

I hope he doesn’t make me angry … you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry !!

A frog by any other name…

Stretched out on the sofa watching “Johnny Mnemonic” which I reckon helped Keanu Reeves to get the Neo role in the Matrix trilogy – well, I got to wondering if that was where OUR Mnemonic got her name from. Which got me wondering where all the OTHER weird and wonderful pseudos come from. Start the ball rolling – I live in France and love The Divine Comedy. Simple choice really. Here’s my song:
free music

What about the rest of you?


I recently went through my iTunes list and pulled a selection of favorites, they include several musical genres, one, female singers, which I have a special soft spot for, so I’ve chosen four from that group that I’d like to post. These are all English speaking, others for a future list, not so.
The first is Shelby Lynn, the song: Jesus on a Greyhound, it’s from her album ‘Love’.
Second is ‘Love at the 5 and dime’ by Nanci Griffith, there’s a video of it at:
Third is one of my favorite Phil Ochs songs, it’s ‘Changes’ sung by Nancy Tucker from the album ‘What’s that I hear?’ Lovely song.
And last, ‘Hands’ another by Phil Ochs, this one sung by Pat Humphries, also from the same album. There’s a website that has some info on her at:


Given that we now have cars and living rooms etc, how about gardens?
Looking at the blogger profiles there seem to be several who list ‘gardening’ as an interest, since the cooking clan regularly share their secrets I was wondering if there’s enough of of us to have a little corner off to the side somewhere where we might talk about the goings on in the garden since spring is just around the corner and all. Where I live the dafs are ready to pop and I think it might be interesting to have an international view of of mother nature through the seasons and to share some thoughts and tips, we might even get the cooks to start from ground zero. Anybody else interested?

Genius or Rubbish Part One

A new regular feature!

“Genius or Rubbish”
The self titled debut album by Prinzhorn Music School got bought by me today.
It’s because of the above song.
(or if the video doesn’t work, click here)
“Genius or Rubbish”?
I say:
16 minimalist mentalist miserablist musics in 42 minutes
(especially when there’s a song called “know your butcher”)

Chocolate Cranachan

So putting up a recipe for Burns Night may bring to mind words such as “stabledoor” “horse” and “bolted”, but I didn’t get a chance to write it up until Sunday night, and then we seemed to have broken podbean again so it didn’t happen. It’s not like you’re required to wait until next January to make it anyway…

The traditional Scottish pudding to have at Burns night is cranachan, which is basically raspberries with cream and toasted oats. This is a variation that I made for my brother’s Burns Supper on Saturday – I feel that by increasing the sugar content it at least stays within the principles of Scottish cookery…

Chocolate Cranachan.
7oz rolled oats
5 ½ oz toasted hazelnuts
3 ½ oz light muscovado sugar
6 oz dark chocolate
3 oz milk chocolate
1 pint double cream
¼ pint Drambuie
18 fl oz crème fraiche
1lb raspberries (or you can use half raspberries and half blackcurrants for a tarter flavour)

Grate all the chocolate and mix in with the hazelnuts and sugar. Toast the oats in batches under a grill for 3-4 minutes, turning every 30 seconds or so (nb if you’re like me, you really ought to start off with about 10 oz of oats because chances are you’ll burn at least one lot. If you’re not such a kitchen numpty, you can ignore that), then tip them all into the same bowl, so they melt the chocolate and it coats everything nicely. Beat the cream (though not too stiff), then add the crème fraiche and Drambuie to it. Put a layer of the oat mixture into the bowl for the pudding, then a layer of cream on top, then a layer of raspberries, and repeat until you’ve used everything up. Stick it in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavours combine and there you go.

And for listening accompaniment – Looking through my mp3s, I discover that I have a paltry single Burns track within: the Delgados cover of Parcel Of Rogues. So I’ve filled out the playlist with a few contributions from the godfathers of Scottish traditional music: Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham, fiddle player and accordionist respectively.


Has everyone already heard of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings? because I can’t believe I’m just discovering these guys…

Their label is daptone records. On this page you can download a 58 minute program…Binky Griptites-ghettofunkpowerhour.

Also listen to the Budos Band on their label–Fela meets high school marching band, in a good way.


I must appologise for taking such an awful picture of Nina, I can only think that in the excitement of the moment I wasn’t paying attention.

Nina Simone:

One day back in the ’80’s Bob Andy, Jamaican musician was staying with us in Long Beach California. On the Saturday I noticed that there was a free reggae festival in a park in south central LA. We decided to go. We were standing around between sets, sort of backstage, though there wasn’t any real backstage when I saw Nina Simone standing alone about 40ft away. I couldn’t believe it, I’d been a huge fan for all of my adult life, I’d never seen her perform, but there she was. I knew that she had a gig at the Wiltern theater in LA the following Tuesday so I excused myself from my wife and Bob and walked over to her, I introduced myself and told her how much I’d appreciated her music over the years and how much she’d meant to me. She was very cordial and we chatted, then I said “Nina, I’d like you to meet my friend Bob and my wife”; we walked back to where they were and I said ‘Nina, this is my friend Bob Andy’.

Everything changed at that moment, I’d not even remembered that Bob Andy and Marcia Griffith had had a world-wide hit single back in the 60’s of Nina’s song “To be Young, Gifted and Black”. ‘Bob Andy’ she screamed ‘you’re that Bob Andy?’ ‘You god damn motherfucker, you ripped me off, I never got a penny for that song and you made millions!’
What had been a pleasant surprise encounter had suddenly taken a nose dive, all there was now was anger and embarrassment. I tried to smooth things over but she obviously wasn’t having any so we gingerly backed off and I said something to the effect that I looked forward to her concert. ‘You show your face at my fucking concert you bastard, and I’ll have security throw you out!’ Oops, nothing I could say was going to work so we beat an ignominious retreat, but as we left I was approached by a guy who said that he was managing Nina and did I have any influence with the mayors office, I told absolutely none, I wasn’t at all involved with any of that.

On the way home I had a thought. Whenever there were high end celebrity visitors to LA I noticed that there were day’s proclaimed in their honour and the mayors office would issue proclamations, in the form of very ornate heraldic hand lettered documents listing that person’s contributions to society etc. The guys question made me think it might be appropriate to send a note to the mayors office and suggest this. I had an image of some flunky coming onstage before the show and making a bit of a fuss and then giving it to her so I sent a note and promptly forgot about it.
Regardless of Nina’s threats we went to both shows, the 7 pm and the 9 pm, I had a press pass that got us into the Wiltern and we could always grab any empty seats; we had two right in the front row and I had all my camera gear with me. I shot her discretely throughout the first show and then sat back and enjoyed the second. I didn’t even notice that there was no representative from the Mayors office.

The next day I went to work and when I came home at around 5pm I checked the mailbox as usual and there was a large 16″ by 20″ envelope screwed up and stuffed into it, I opened it and it was the creased up proclamation for Nina! And there was a nasty note attached to the effect that if I requested a proclamation, then it was my responsibility to come and get it! Oh dear! Little did I understand the inner workings of LA politics. So what to do with it? The manager guy, who I later realised was the Ethiopian Orthodox minister who had conducted the ceremony for Bob Marley’s funeral at the National Stadium, had given me his card, so we called him and explained the screw up. He asked if we would bring it to her since she was leaving for Paris early the next day; she was staying at a place in the San Fernando valley which was about 75 miles from us and given her reaction on the weekend I didn’t really feel like 150 miles of LA rush hour traffic just to be Mr Niceguy. But we weakened, we found the address, her apartment door opened, he stood there, we gave it to him, he thanked us and closed the door. And that was how we met Nina Simone!

My other listening post

For all those voyeurs out there, here’s the other place I do a lot of listening, in my fabuloso figaro! The Japs did a great job on this limited edition runabout (originally developed for the growing domestic market of working women with disposable income, so-called “office ladies” (ugh!).) The retro look is comprehensive, even the radio/cassette/CD. Great for cruisin’ with Roadrunner at top blast!


If we’re going to have ‘Songs of Praise’ this Sunday may I propose the text? This is a piece I recorded years ago, I’ve no idea who or what it is. I was surfing the FM dial and I found this, I popped a disc into my minidisc deck and recorded an hour ’til the disc ran out, no breaks, no announcements but it changes to a different language about half way through. If anyone’s interested I have the rest. If you have to get religion then this is the way to go! I could get up on a Sunday morning for this.

Songs you can’t hear and still be miserable!

Here’s a selection from my “Unbearably Cheery” tunes.

If I’ve got this right (probably not!) the song titles WON’T show up, because I want you to run it as a test. I’m not being obtuse, your reaction when you realise what the song is is what I want to measure. Just listen and see how many seconds into each song it is before you find yourself :
(i) Grinning from ear to ear.
(ii) Singing along.
(iii) Boogieing.

Of course it could be just me that these songs work on, in which case I’m going to look a prize pillock. Give us some feedback on which ones work (or don’t) just so as I know whether to do it again.

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