I heard this song on the radio yesterday, and I just love it. It’s El Loco Cha Cha by René Touzet. Those horns!! It also fits into my semi-obsession with making musical connections, and discovering the origins of music we take at face value as “american” because it’s Cuban, but can you guess which well-known and oft-recorded song it predated?

Here’s a hint…

Wot No Questions?

Well it’s the end of the RR /’Spill week & I see no questions. Call me a boring traditionalist, but feel we should have some. But it’s getting late, so rather than compose a thoughtful, original piece, I’m going to nick them from “Inside The Actor’s Studio” & as beardy Lipton stole them from Bernard Pivot who ripped-off Marcel Proust, there should be no complaints. Don’t know if you get this show in Europea, but it always amazes me how El Beardo manages to be equally fawning towards a Merryl or a Keanu. Anyhow, here’s a little video demo of how it’s done:

Here are the questions:

1. What is your favorite word?
2. What is your least favorite word?
3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
4. What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
5. What sound or noise do you love?
6. What sound or noise do you hate?
7. What is your favorite curse word?
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
9. What profession would you not like to do?
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Twice the questions, half the effort. Over to you:

Let’s get personal

Often, a piece of music we really love can speak to us so powerfully, it almost feels like it describes some part of our deeper selves. Sometimes that’s a part of ourselves we couldn’t even hope to put into our own words even if we wanted to; and anyway, the music does it so much better, so why not let it?

If I had to pick one ‘track’ out which does this job for me, its actually not a song at all, but a kind of poem. When I heard this one through for the first time, it was like all time stood still on me. I know some of you are not such big Dylan fans, but I ask you to take the time to listen to this and answer me this question: What do you think Mr D is saying in the last verse? Having absolutely nailed so much of the nature of life in all his other verses, Bob throws us off scent abruptly with some apparently throw away line about the Grand Canyon. Any thoughts?

Also, i’d like to know if any of you have any tracks which you feel maybe speak for you better than you can yourself?

My Procrastination Project

Japanther commanded, and I obliged:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Hope you like it, sorry about the ums and ahs and the slurping, and remember that English is not my native language, so I have immunity.

By the time posts, I’ll be on the other side of the Channel, so if I don’t respond straight away, I’m not being rude. See y’all next week.

"It’s got a good beat…"

I really wanted to illustrate this with a picture of a bad dancer, but somehow got sidetracked by Robert Webb doing his Flashdance routine. In a leotard. Anyway
What I wanted to discuss was: given that most of us would happily describe ourselves as music obsessives (and I’m being kind with that word, obviously obsessive means wise, passionate, erudite, to me!), have any of you got friends who are really not into music? One of my friends actually said last week, “I don’t give a monkey’s about music” in regard to picking her wedding music! I was horrorstruck. And then I realised that almost all of my friends feel almost as strongly about music as I do: given that I met many of them in clubs, maybe this isn’t so surprising. Another old friend recently got in touch and, as I was a demon mixtape maker back then, I suggested sending him a link to my current Spotify playlist. He said “I probably haven’t listened to much good music in the past 15 years” and the scary thing was, he wasn’t even exaggerating. He and my other friend are really what I would term “straights” and I’ve never really had many “straight” friends, if you understand my meaning. Like SKP said, he got the ‘mis-shapes’ cat-calls on a Saturday night, and me and my friends did too.
So, my question is, if you have these friends, do you try to educate them? Take them to clubs and force them to dance awkwardly? Or just look on them as missing the music gene and try to play up their other good points?


I mentioned recently that I was re-playing some of my old vinyl with the intent of seeing which had held up over the years, there were several that had and one that I really liked back in the early ’70’s when I bought it was ‘Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, it’s held up and I’ve recently played it at least a dozen times. In addition I’ve read the book ‘Dark Side of the Moon- the making of the Pink Floyd masterpiece by John Harris, a very interesting and informative read. In addition I’ve played all the PF albums I own plus I’ve watched the Earls Court video of Dark Side a couple of times.
In the 60’s I was very interested in electronic music and specifically in synthesizers and new recording technology so when PF came along I was ready, I bought several albums but it wasn’t until this one that I was really impressed, I thought that most of their prior music was lacking something and I now think that something was Syd Barrett. After he left the group they floundered for a couple of years not knowing quite where to go until in Dec. 1971 when Roger Waters took charge and came up with the Dark Side concept which they accepted and developed and played on the road regularly, refining it as they went. They were also in and out of the studio, Abbey Road, throughout 1972 laying tracks and adding new ideas, like the jazz sax of their old friend from Cambridge, Dick Parry and the vocal trio of female voices. Finally it was done and it was released in 1973, I bought it immediately and thought it was wonderful, a fabulous mix of rock, jazz, electronics and with lots of synths, the best thing they’d ever done. Very slick and clean, beautifully recorded and mixed, the electronics blended into the whole in ways far beyond what the prior synth albums had done; it was an original piece of music that set the standards for years to come. All those road trips where they kept testing and changing it paid off.
An interesting side issue: in 1969 I was in England during the summer and one night fairly late there was a BBC program about an electronic musician and it showed him working in his studio in what looked like a garden shed. His name was Ron Geesin and he was working on a film soundtrack. The film was titled ‘The Body’ and he mentioned that the soundtrack was being released on an album. As soon as I arrived back in LA I went to a record store to see if it was likely to be available, they said they’d order it: it came in several weeks later. It’s a co-production between Geesin and Roger Waters and I’ll play a couple of tracks here and you’ll see where some of Dark Side’s music originated. I liked it from the start but didn’t realise the connection until I started playing Dark Side again recently.
Spotty doesn’t have any Pink Floyd so we’ll go with Podbean, here’s three cuts from Dark Side and a couple from ‘The Body’. Hope this is a more popular selection than Pet Sounds was. I’m also interested in how many heard it in 1973 when it was first released versus those who first heard it much later.

Bends For 5904 Miles – A Joint Podcast

Our second home…

This is a special joint podcast hosted by myself and me old mucker SatanKidneyPie.

Flung together by fate on our very first day of higher education by virtue of being designated the same shared house in a Bristol suburb by the university accommodation department.

We eyed each other warily at first. SKP with his Ministry of Sound compilations and Crystal Palace obsession. Myself with a skinny-fit Shed 7 t-shirt and a complete lack of football knowledge. But we shared a common belief in humanity and social justice and as Britpop ballooned and evolved (this was 1995) we united together as an inseparable force to root out new music and see as many gigs as our student budgets would allow. We lived together for 2 years and only parted ways because SKP had a year of work experience in a power plant as part of his degree course.

All tracks on this podcast are from bands whose gigs we attended together mostly from 1995/96/97 but going through to 2002 just before I left for Japan. Which pretty much makes it a one-stop Britpop bop shop!

The podcast itself was recorded over many time zones using the incredible technology of Skype and the easy to use functions of my Macbook. SKP is a wee bit quiet and unclear for most of part one, sorry about that, but luckily I had an expert technological assistant on hand to help out (erm…..Mrs Japanther suggested turning up the volume!) which seemed to work and he is much more audible for part two. So, apologies for the all-round poor sound quality (we hope you do persevere), but we like to think of it as the lo-fi DIY approach, and we’d much rather be the Magoo of podcasting than the U2!

What’s the 5904 miles you ask? Well, it’s the distance between Birmingham and Tokyo innit!

Bends For 5904 Miles – Part 1
Bends For 5904 Miles – Part 2

NB: Can listen here or in Dropbox with individual tracks attached.

Giro scope

as I’m late to sign on – “your giro will not be issued”

these have fleeting mentions of the dreaded unemployment or insinuations of joblessness.
Being into painting and design I’m always out of work –
or always working (but for no pay) depends how you want to look at it!
The World is gone
Red Letters
Summer Job

Ancient Mysteries

Unemployed In Summertime (Junior Sanchez Remix)
underwear goes inside the pants
Young Guns (Go For It!)
I haven’t made it over to RR yet.. so it was a dropbox scan, for tunes.. dond to those that got in first.


I recently came across this documentary on youtube, it concerns a film by Coppola that I’ve been trying to find for years. It’s one of his earliest, his fourth I think, it’s ‘The Rainpeople’ from 1969, what’s interesting about it to me is that he made it when he was getting just a little bit of support from Warner Bros based on his scriptwriting, I think he’d just done the script for Patton [which went on to pick up 7 Oscars]. He approached them with a fairly radical idea, he wanted them to finance a project where he would take a tiny film crew and cast on the road in two vans and several cars and would partially improvise the film based on whatever they encounted along the way. He had a cast, James Caan, Shirley Knight and Robert Duvall plus others and he wanted to escape the studio/union system that said there must be X number of crew on all projects. The union demanded that there be dozens of workers handling lights, transportation, sets, food, etc: he wanted to shoot it like a student film with a very lean crew. There would be less than a dozen crewmembers and all the equipment would be carried in two vans.
The story outline was that a young New York woman, Shirley Knight, needs to escape from an unsatisfactory marriage, she gets in her station wagon and drives not knowing where she’s going, she just needs to escape. The camera crew follows her all over the eastern and southern US and she has several adventures along the way, one involves a brain damaged football player [James Caan] who’s hitch-hiking, she picks him up, another involves a motorcycle cop [Robert Duvall] who stops her and thinks he’s onto a hot number.
Coppola put all the money he had into this film and his friend George Lucas tagged along and shot a 16mm documentary of the entire project. That’s what I found this week, the Lucas film, but still no trace of The Rainpeople. I knew Coppola back then, he invited me to see his workprint roughcut and I was very impressed, I also saw the Lucas film and when both were released a year or so later I had copies which I used annually in a film production class that I was teaching. The Lucas film above is not quite what I remember, it’s been drastically edited and large chunks removed but it’s still an interesting window into the creative process and a view of a very young Coppola. An interesting detail, both Caan and Duvall played major roles in The Godfather just a few years later, nominated for 10 academy awards, it won three. Japanther’s epic below has 90 youtube segments, this has only 4; both are worthy of your attention.

Jazz History

A big thanks to Goneforeign for recommending this. It’s taken me over 3 weeks of living my life in ten minute Youtube-length segments to watch the 90 clips that have been uploaded so far (just 21 more to go)!

If anyone hasn’t seen it, this is an incredible documentary that is as much a social history of 20th century America as it is a documentary on Jazz. Get it before “they” remove it from Youtube!

People on album covers you wished you looked like

OK, this is a silly one.

The idea is that there are people on album covers that at various times in your life you really wanted to look like.

I will happily admit that when I was about 18, I’d have gone down to the crossroads at midnight and signed on the dotted like to look exactly like this;

How do you spell "Eponymous"?

You just gotta love songs that have eponymousity in them. I know I do. The summertime is a good time to listen to eponymous songs too. I’m sure I’ve  written  about eponymous songs before but my memory isn’t so good. So now when an eponymous song has cropped up in the summertime, I feel the need to post it. 
Slow Club are an amazing and lovely folky pop duo, who I was lucky enough to see at Homegame this year, they were fab. Just fab. 
They have an eponymous type song, which is fab – it’s not quite as eponymous as, say, “Titus Andronicus” by Titus Andronicus – which is also a fab song, but it is eponymous and descriptive – which really helps when picking a song to listen to, I find. 
Slow Club’s song is called “Slow Club Summer Shakedown”, which is all the info you need really! 
If you like, have a listen to the song, and then think of other either eponymous songs, or very self descriptive songs that you like, and make a note of them in the comments? 

Slow Club Summer Shakedown

Hard Times

Jean Redpath – The Terror Time
Jean Redpath – Faraway Tom
Skip James – Hard Time Killin Floor Blues
Big Bill Broonzy – Unemployment Stomp
Odetta – Unemployment blues
Dr. John & Odetta – Brother Can You Spare a Dime
Drink Me – My Ship’s Rolling In
Blackalicious – Shallow Days
Pete Rock & CL Smooth – Ghettos of the Mind
The Roots – I Will Not Apologize
Beastie Boys – Johnny Ryall
Mos Def – Worker’s Comp

Well, I got no job and I got no pay

Coal Tattoo is one of my very favourite songs (and it’s easy to play on the guitar) and here it is on John Peel’s Perfumed Garden radio programme sung by Shawn Phillips, who wrote it. EDIT: whoops, no he didn’t: it was Billy Ed Wheeler.

Bonus bit of (muffled) Peel chat at the end!
EDIT: many thanks to whoever put Coal Tattoo in the Dropbox!

Drifting Through the Days – Richard Thompson
Another Quiet Night in England – Oysterband
Love of the Common People – Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band
Coal Tattoo – Shawn Phillips

Back At Last – The Very Best!

I first blogged about Esau Mwamwaya way back in March last year. 
Which even attracted a comment from his producer! Anyhoos, since then, he released one of the albums/mixtapes of last year (for free) and is now back as The Very Best with a new tune and LP on the way. “Warm Heart Of Africa” also features the dude out of Vampire Weekend, who is put into the shade somewhat when Esau starts singing. As usual, it’s an uplifting mash of old and new, and as usual it’s jolly good! Bodes well for the album proper, and if anyone can tell me what he’s singing, that would be a bonus. 

Warm Heart Of Africa


This came to my attention through a conversation Mr. Steenbeck had with a friend, but I found it interesting, and it seems to tie into the Beach Boys discussion through a surf-rock connection. If you’ll listen to this early surf-rock tune, you’ll hear remarkable similarities to middle eastern music. A bit of (sorry, Aba) wikipedization revealed that the blandly named Dick Dale was originally called Richard Monsour, and that he had a Lebanese father and a Polish mother. He was influenced by his uncle, the Oud player. He used non-western scales. (and he played the guitar upside down, because he was left-handed.) This song, his big hit, was originally performed by a Greek Rebetiko band, a style that has Turkish influences. The song refers to a muslim Egyptian woman, and a cross-faith romance.

I think these connections are fascinating. They became obvious once they were pointed out to me, but I’d never heard them before in the music.

The ‘Spill Recipe Book #1

This morning I shall mostly be procrastinating and failing to get my chapter written by kicking off what may become a new regular series of ‘Spill recipes with my Spicy Chicken Nuggets; not the most elegant of meals, and scarcely a great culinary achievement, but good comfort food and goes down well with children as well.

*1 chicken breast per person, cut into 6-8 pieces.
*1-2 eggs, depending on how many you’re catering for.
*Breadcrumbs: ideally make your own with a food processor – stale sourdough works really well. Mix in any combination of crushed garlic, cayenne pepper, paprika, ground cumin and/or chopped coriander according to taste of your target audience.

Roll chicken pieces in seasoned flour, dip into beaten egg and then roll in breadcrumbs until properly coated; shallow fry in olive or sunflower oil on a medium heat for about 10-12 minutes, turning at least once. Serve with new or saute potatoes or oven chips, and whatever green veg or salad you have handy. Ketchup is okay, but for a more elegant approach (if you have the time) either of the following are nice:

Redcurrant and chilli jelly. Stew redcurrants and chillis with a little water for 10-15 minutes on a low heat until juice is running; sieve; weigh the liquid and add an equal quantity of sugar; bring slowly to boil, making sure that the sugar is well stirred in, and boil for c.10 minutes until it reaches setting point. Put into jars; keeps for ages (at least until next year’s redcurrant season). It’s very difficult to tell how hot this will turn out; generally less than you’d expect from whatever amount of chillis you put in, and if it’s really hot you just eat smaller amounts.

Thai dipping sauce. Heat 50ml wine vinegar, 1.5 tbs water and 100g sugar until dissolved, then boil for about a minute. Leave to cool, then stir in very finely chopped onion (25g), carrot (25g) and cucumber (50g) and a couple of hot Thai chillis (also finely chopped), and a couple of tsp of fish sauce.

Enjoy (and protect from pillaging cats…)

gremlinfc saves the west

In answer to the EOTWC – sorry i’m dylscexi,:
1.I come on here and on RR.
2.My politics are not on the scale. Nearest would be….mmm…? Put it this way I haven’t voted since I realised it was a farce in 1983.
3.See the picture above…
4.I am teetotal (no, I don’t drink tee totally…) but used to love Hefeweizen back in the day. Been drunk many, many, many times (back in the day…) , but once and only once got so drunk i wasn’t able to…
5.My guaranteed fave-rave dish is? Beans on toast – marmite on the toast, dollops of branston as a side helping and scrambled eggs heaped on top. I bet you are salivating already.

A bit about me / A lot about you / Holy Cripes chaps / It’s EOTWQ!

I’ve been having a bit of a think about this and reckoned I might try and nip in now and get some questions out for y’all. So deep breath, no looking at other people’s papers, spit out that gum at the back and let us play…

1. I am an inveterate procrastinator. Give me an assignment, tell me I have exactly two hours to complete it, leave the room and then marvel at how I spend at least the next hour playing some blinking stupid game on the computer. Or realise that the ironing really needs doing RIGHT NOW. I started in the usual way, with Solitaire, Free Cell and Hearts. That particular habit got so bad that when I was writing my masters thesis I actually had to remove all card games from the computer. With the habit broken I was ok for a while. Then, however, came Mah Jong, then online Tetris, then Electrotank crazy golf, then Little Master cricket (seriously addictive, check it out). Right now, though, it is Yahtzee. I can’t go more than five minutes, it seems, without ‘just one quick go’. Its definitely not a hobby, I always feel guilty, but can’t stop myself. So how do you, rightly or wrongly, always end up wasting time?

2. The next question is a simple one, but one that I’ve been thinking about for a while, for various reasons. Politically, how would you describe yourself? I’m not looking to judge or expose anyone, but recently I think that political choice has returned to the fore as a matter of great import. Personally I think I am a bit of a mix. Raised in a very casually right-ish area, by very loosely right-ish parents (Daily Mail, odd moments of general disapproval, vote blue by habit), I then studied Drama at university wherein not to read the Guardian was something akin to heresy. My liberal impulses often battle with a mild, repressed form of conservatism that I find eerily comfortable at times… But I also come from a generation (the first, I reckon) who grew up seeing politics shifted ever more toward the centre whilst being mercilessly denuded and goosed by the rise of 24 hour news. As such, amongst my peers, political apathy is something that is not uncommon and it is only now that people are starting to address important questions regarding what they stand for and if – more importantly – there is anyone else who stands for it, too. Obviously we are all here as an indirect result of some kind of liberality, but I’m sure there’s some interesting hybrids out there…
3. A quick one, and simple: What is the most significant/important event that you have been present at and witnessed live? I ask this, mainly, because I can’t think of anything massively interesting for myself (although will try) but I reckon some of you might have something good.
4. I’m not much of a drinker, but am the kind of person that is always happy to have a drink. I probably drink more than I should, but never in one go, binge-style. I’m actually quite bad at drinking more than three or four and tend to go along quite happily before suddenly and catastrophically having to go home and lie down. Its probably something to do with not wishing to relinquish control (a great deal of my friends claim to have never seen me drunk, such is my instinct to hold it together at all times), but I do remember one New Year’s Eve that involved a bottle of whiskey, a stanger’s house and me being sick out of a very high window. So the question has three parts:
- Do you drink?
- If so, what sort of drinker are you?
- And what’s the drunkest you’ve ever been?

5. Over the last few weeks I have been cooking more and more, not least due to Mrs Frod’s really quite bad morning sickness. Consequently I have had the chance to perfect both my steak braised in red wine (for about four hours) and my seriously mean bread and butter pudding. I make no claims to culinary expertise, but I do quite like being good at a few really nice, impressive things. So, finally, what’s your signature, fallback, guaranteed-to-please dish? Let’s get hungry….

Welcome to the World

Thanks everybody for your lovely comments over on the mothership, and glad the name’s going down well.

Here’s a question: if you were to offer ONE SONG as a (non-denominational) christening gift to a new person, what would it be, and why?

Maybe your favourite song. Maybe a song that celebrates life, or that has wisdom in it. One that means something personally to you. Or something that you think this child might never discover without your recommendation.

(No, I’m not going first – this is far too hard!)