Instrumental Abstraction


I usually paint figuratively (that means that I paint pictures. Of things. Generally, they are things that I can see). But this is an attempt at an abstract painting. It started as paint left over on the palette from another painting; the colours didn’t suggest anything in particular, so l just tried arranging then in a manner that pleased me. The results are reminiscent of an underwater scene, I think. Continue reading

It’s all for charidee, mate

"Cowboy Boots"; "Green Wellies"; "Trail Boots" - all acrylic on canvas, all (c) Amanda Bates

Never one to do things by halves (nor to ignore an opportunity to paint), I ended up doing three paintings of shoe-like objects for Parkinson’s Awareness Week and the “In My Shoes” theme. They are not, as it happens, all mine (I have Young Onset Parkinson’s, so the theme is apt). The wellies belong to my son, and were both easier to get hold off and muddier than mine, which I only wear if I really have to (not because I have Parkinson’s. I don’t like wellies because I have the wrong shape feet for wellies). Wellies really ought to be muddy. My cheapo lightweight walking boots, or trail boots, are also appropriately muddy.

And they are all on eBay in the hope that someone (hopefully lots of someones, so they bid the price up …) will buy one or more, and Parkinson’s UK will get a modest, painting-sized chunk of money.

And the ‘Spill gets more hits than my solo blogs, so I am shamelessly exploiting it because of the charity angle.

Charity singles are a bit of a hit and miss affair. They may hit the charts, but they frequently miss the spot. I’m having difficulty thinking of a truly great one, although I can’t help but recall that the first record I ever bought was Ferry Aid’s “Let It Be”, an ensemble affair in aid of the Zeebrugge Disaster of 1987.

(I had convinced myself that my first single purchase was the Pet Shop Boys’ “It’s A Sin”, but the dates defy this recollection by a couple of months.)

So we’re back to shoes.

With a suitably Smashie and Nicey sort of DJ intro. Is it time for Bachmann Turner Overdrive yet?

In My Shoes

While I was contemplating this post on one of my other blogs, I kept coming up with songs I wanted to soundtrack it with.

The post was an exercise in increasing awareness for Parkinson’s, as requested by the charity Parkinson’s UK. So I thought it might be appropriate to spread the word on other platforms, and the best place that I know of for playlists is the ‘Spill.


The painting is for sale, by auction, for charity. Click on the picture…

Now, how does this new-fangled play list thingumajig work?

Earworms – 4th June

Keith Frank & The Soileau Zydeco – Sometimes We Make You Move Your Feet
This is a great song title. Have your toes started twitching yet? Here you go.

Jackson 5 – Rockin’ Robin (Bobby Day cover)
Only a masterful vocal performance by young Michael, in one of his first breakout solos, could equal this floor-packing gumbo of rock, soul and funk. It still even sounds musically progressive.

Fiction Factory – (Feels Like) Heaven
Who were Fiction Factory? I have no idea. I presume this was their only hit? I remember it from one of the early “Now” compilation albums. I always loved the verses’ comforting blanket of melancholy. Of a piece with Furniture’s “Brilliant Mind” somehow. Shame the refrain is a bit of a damp squib! Thank God then for a strong middle eight…

Sweet Black ft Maki Goto and Bigga Raiji – Queen Bee
I just love Maki Goto – she was a classic J-pop Idol who managed to re-invent herself as a R and B singer; and Bigga Raiji is a really great, and very funny, rapper. So, when the two of them got together with producers Sweet Black …well, something good was of course going to happen ! ! ! It is a great dance track that is now a firm earworm of mine ! ! !
Hoshino Sakura

Electribe 101 – Talking with myself
One of those dance tracks that seems to retain its appeal outside of the club. Probably because it had lyrics worthy of the name – and that intriguingly laidback vocal to boot.

Gene Vincent – Dance To The Bop
The Bluecaps had undergone several personnel changes by 1958, when this was cut. However, they still provided superb backing for the King of Rock & Roll. Superb.

Get those fingers dancing on your keyboard and send your zippiest earworms to – don’t forget to add a short note explaining why they merit the worthy title of “‘Spill Earworm”. And it would help if you could identify yourself by your blog name, too.

And me? You might have heard that I’d get myself a full time job, which means I’m a bit short of time, and something(s) had to go. Alas, one of those things was the role of earworm charmer. I’m dancing right out of the wormery, leaving you in the capable hands of the lovely SpottedRichard! I’ve had a lovely time collating those ‘worms; I’m sure that SpottedRichard will enjoy it too.

So long, and thanks for all the ‘worms.
(Not that I’m not going to be hanging around any more – I just wanted to say that.)

Earworms – 28th May

Musician or gangster? You decide...

Suite For Ma Dukes – Untitled/Fantastic (GAM Remix)
For some reason, L.A. seems to be where it’s at for me in producing quality music over the past few years; take this one from the Suite For Ma Dukes orchestra, arranged & conducted by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, of a couple of the late great J Dilla hip-hop compositions that have been remixed by Georgia Anne Muldrow.

Moondog – Symphonique #6 (Good for Goodie)
I was vaguely reminded of this again when that Neil Cowley clip was posted a few weeks ago. This is such an extraordinarily eccentric funky classical/jazz piece by the Viking of 6th Avenue.

Elvis Costello and the Brodsky Quartet – I Almost Had A Weakness
Every time that I listen to the Juliet Letters, this song leaps out at me. It does so just as much for the staccato strings as for the acerbic words – a marriage of sound and meaning that works so well, and which sounds so fresh.

Esperanza Spalding – Crowned & Kissed
Gorgeous Portlander Esperanza Spaulding is out with a new album & once again enchanting me with her great bass lines & elvish voice.  This hits all my buttons.

Lulu – After the Feeling Is Gone (with The Dixie Flyers)
I always thought of Lulu as a bit of a raspy old belter – who knew she had the capability to deliver a song with the subtlety she does here? I love the thoughtful maturity of the lyric too. It all makes me think that, had she had better quality control, she might now be spoken of in the same breath as Dusty.

Damnation of Adam Blessing – Fingers On A Windmill
This Cleveland, Ohio group spent numerous years on a major label (United Artists), with nary a hit to show for it.  And as a final insult, the label misspelled the title on the picture sleeve.  Ouch!  Some really cheesy hippie-dippy lyrics (“Someone killed a teardrop, made a child cry”), but an interesting example of very late period baroque psychedelia nonetheless.
SweetHomeAlabama ( … hover for extra blurb)

Please send all of your lovely earworms, with a few words to cover them (and keep them warm), to Earworm Central at  Thank you!