Wednesday 23 November 2011

Happy 48th, Doctor!

Incredibly, it's 48 years since the first sighting of that strange old man and his blue box, in the junkyard at Totters' Lane. Here are the first three incarnations of the Doc, striking an iconic pose for the Radio Times 10th Anniversary Special back in 1973, the year I began to watch the show.

Unsurprisingly, there's tons of Doctor Who stuff hitting t'internet today, including the following goodies:

A trailer and synopsis for the 2011 Christmas episode at Planet Gallifrey
A brief history of the show's origins at the Doctor Who News Page
A very knackered looking First Doctor and friends at Hello, I'm The Doctor
And a lovely Fourth Doctor sketch by the wonderful Dan McDaid

All good, wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff ;-)

Personally, I've been celebrating Doctor Who Day by watching an irate William Hartnell getting tetchy with the latest bunch of fresh-faced recruits to his adventures - yep, I've been watching

Saturday 19 November 2011

SFXy Firemen

No, not that kind...
I'm talking about the book-burning, totalitarian kind as seen in Ray Bradbury's famous dystopian novel, Fahrenheit 451.

Firemen in the world of this seminal SF novel are not concerned with putting out fires, but setting fire to books... and sometimes the people who read them. The main character, Guy Montag, is a loyal fireman who is seemingly content in his work of destroying any kind of information or entertainment which doesn't spew out of a TV screen. Until, one day, he begins to question his role in society...

I wrote a mini-review of the book for the SFX website and was pleased to see an edited version published in this month's issue of "The World's #1 Sci-Fi mag."
Here's the full ( less negative-seeming ) version:

Default Re: SFX BOOK CLUB 69: Fahrenheit 451

It's been probably 20 years since I last read Fahrenheit 451 and, to be honest, I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Apart from the fireman, Montag, the characters are cyphers and there is little sense of the rest of the world beyond the immediate drama. Saying that, Bradbury's poetic style shines through, especially during the breathless scenes of Montag's desperate escape from the authorities, and the implications of this book-burning society are chilling. The scariest thought is that Montag's society is self-censoring: "It didn't come from the Government down," explains his fire-chief, "There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with..."

And here are Oskar Werner and the gorgeous Julie Christie in a still from Francois Truffaut's 1966 adaptation of the book. It's a strange, cold little film and I'm not sure if Truffaut really related to the subject matter... but it does star Julie Christie. Who is, as I said, gorgeous...

Thursday 17 November 2011

Cute... or disturbing?

It seems to be turning into Cat Week here at The Glass Walking-Stick. For no real reason.....

All images courtesy of The Kitten Covers

Wednesday 16 November 2011


Jasper, ready for his close-up...

Hero giving Sarah some quality time for a change...

And Jasper up a tree... looking for birds...
Will he never learn?

Sunday 13 November 2011

The Damned / Adam Ant

Two trips down to the Bristol O2 Academy last week, to see living legends / Punk has-beens ( delete as applicable ) The Damned and Sir Adam of Ant.

The Damned were celebrating their 35 years (!) at the Punk Rock coal-face by playing debut album Damned Damned Damned and that difficult 4th LP, The Black Album, in their entirety. Even though I've been a fan of the band for many years and have seen them play live about a dozen times, I don't actually own any of their albums. ( Except for a well-wonky cassette version of Machine Gun Etiquette. ) So I was probably the only person in the packed-out venue who didn't know all the words to all the songs. Not that it really mattered: I was down the front from the first bass notes of Neat Neat Neat, yelling my lungs out to that caveman chorus.

According to Captain Sensible ( seen above in his lovely, fluffy
suit ) they sped through the 31-minute long album in only 29 bruising minutes. Twelve amphetamine-rush bursts of aggression from the ironic Fan Club to the howling Stooges cover I Feel Alright ( originally called 1970 ) via the most punishing version of New Rose I've seen them play. Not bad for guys in their 50s...

After the first set there was a short break when we could recover from the effects of oxygen starvation, intense heat and rugby-tackling Bristol boneheads, before the band came back to dive into the psychedelic, psychotic depths of The Black Album. Starting with one of my favourite Damned songs, Wait For The Blackout, then on through other crowd-pleasers like Lively Arts and The History Of The World ( Part 1 ), the band headed inexorably towards the 17- minute epic Curtain Call. It's like Punk never happened :-)

As ever, The Damned were enthusiastic and clearly having a whale of a time ( which is obviously better than a dolphin of a time... ), the Captain and Dave Vanian taking the piss out of each other and other bands ( the regulation digs at the Pistols / Clash etc. ) and drummer Pinch introducing one song as "A Fart In A Spacesuit" - of course! They encored with Love Song ( yay! ), Eloise ( not my fave Damned song but played perfectly ) and a blistering Anti-Pope. But no Smash It Up? Boo!

And here are a bunch of mid-life-crisis-sufferers prior to the gig. From the left: someone whose name I'm ashamed to say I've forgotten, Rob, Glenn and me, doing my best "will you hurry up and take the picture, I can't hold this smile any longer" pose.

Two nights later I headed back to Bristol in a downpour of almost Biblical proportions to finally see, after 30 years, my teenage idol, Adam "Stuart Goddard" Ant. Yeah, I probably had what we'd now call a man-crush ( or boy-crush... no, that sounds worse ) on Adam back in the day. But it's OK, I'm over it now, I'm not confused, not in denial ;-)

( Bloody Hell, the things that this blog drags out of me... )

Adam's obviously been out of the limelight for a long time and it was a worry for old Antfans like me that he would just be doing this to pay the rent, a Zerox ( if you will ) of his old self. After splitting from guitarist / songwriting partner, Marco Pirroni, the Live Aid fiasco and his well-publicised mental health problems, it had seemed that Adam had retired from the life of a dandy highwayman. Now he was back for a new Ants Invasion... but would it be Wonderful or Nine Plan Failed?

Standing in the O2's bar, surrounded by Punks, pirates and highwaymen of all ages and persuasions, I heard a mighty roar exploding from the crowd and had to force my way down to the front to see Adam and The Good, The Mad & The Lovely Posse hit the stage to the accusatory sound of Plastic Surgery. No starting with the greatest hits here: straight into the pre-fame cult classics. For every pop hit like Stand And Deliver ( manic! ) or Prince Charming ( regal! ) there were at least two of Adam's pervy B-sides and album tracks like Beat My Guest or Whip In My Valise or Lady ( he admitted on stage that Lady should have been the A-side of his first single, not Young Parisians ) ...all together now: "I saw a Lady and she was naked..."

Oh yeah, that reminds me - the band. The Good, The Mad & The Lovely Posse comprise of two drummers ( of course! ), a couple of what look like Californian session musicians from the '90s on guitar and bass, and the two Lovely ladies above on backing vocals and sex-kitten Antics. Never have so many camera-phones been hoisted aloft ( ooh, er! ) by so many blokes at one rock gig before! The band did a fine job of representing the Ants' sound, er... without actually being the Ants. ( But I still miss "Marco, Merrick, Terry Lee..." etc. )

The star of the show, of course, remains Adam, regardless of who's up there with him. Whilst obviously not as energetic a performer as he was back in his heyday, he's still got the charisma, the moves and the voice. And he's also open and funny about the ups and downs of his career. In fact, still a great frontman and still a star. And... still a sex symbol. A surprising amount of 20-something women ( and probably men too ) were literally falling at his feet. One girl next to me stripped down to her bra while she was dancing and later fell over the security-barrier in front of the stage. She said she was reaching to recover her handbag, but I think she was grabbin' for Adam ;-)

Antmusic for sexpeople!

Soundtrack: Beat My Guest, Friend Or Foe, Goody Two Shoes, Dog Eat Dog, Antmusic etc. etc.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Catching up...

Regular readers of this 'ere blog ( and bless you for it! ) have probably noticed that the usual, glacially-slow rate of posts has slowed down even further lately. Apart from boring "real" world stuff taking up too much of my time, we've also had PC problems of the dreaded blue-screen variety. Consequently, I'm writing this on Sophie's netbook, trying to get used to a keyboard seemingly designed for a doll's fingers.

So what's been going down in Groove Town?
I've been buying quite a lot of music lately, mostly from charity shops, antique shops (!) etc. Anywhere cheap, basically. Bowie's Station To Station is top of the list, a fantastic album with such great songs as Golden Years, Word On A Wing and the epic title-track, all serving as a bridge ( or train journey, even ) between his "Plastic Soul" period and the experimentalism of the "Berlin Trilogy". A compelling mixture of funk, rock and a European, motorik, feel - not bad for a Thin White Duke who was out of his head on coke at the time...

After falling for The Horrors' superlative Skying ( album of the year, definitely ) I went back to discover their previous LP, Primary Colours, a more abrasive, punkier set of songs, mixing Goth with Psychedelia and some deep vocals from Faris Badwan. All good fun... in an intense and meaningful kind of way, maaan. And it contains Sea Within A Sea, an absolute classic.

One of my fave bands of the '90s were the criminally-underrated Carter USM, Jim Bob and Fruit Bat. Often reviled at the time by the cool kids ( damn those cool kids! ), Carter were - for me, anyway - one of the best live bands of their time, and were responsible for some powerful, passionate songs with unfashionable, pun-filled, socially-conscious lyrics. Sarah and I saw them play live 3 times and each time they were an exciting, involving electro-Punk riot. All the great, angry, energetic singles are here: Sheriff Fatman, Only Living Boy In New Cross, Glam Rock Cops and, as they say, many more...

For a total change of pace, here's the exotic, erotic Kelis, with Tasty. ( I could make some crude comment about that title, but obviously it's beneath a blogger of my refined sensibilities. Yeah, right... ) Over top of a hard-edged, robo-funk production by The Neptunes, Kelis' vocals are an arrogant, sensual come-on from a lady who patently takes no prisoners. Away from all-conquering pop blasts Milkshake and Trick Me, the album drifts at times, but it's well worth a listen.

I've meant to buy Macy Gray's debut album, On How Life Is, for years and now I've finally got round to it. And what a classic it is! A clever mix of retro soul sounds and modern r 'n' b grooves, topped with Macy's unique Tina Turner - meets - Nina Simone - meets - Eartha Kitt vocals, and shot through with an earthy, husky sexuality, it's a slinky, sultry delight. I always think that Macy would be a star of Rihanna / Beyonce proportions nowadays if she had more "conventional" looks, instead of being a self-proclaimed Sex-O-Matic Venus Freak. Luckily, she remains an idiosyncratic, imaginative artist and not just some MTV puppet.

Away from music I've been catching up with a few decent TV shows, which I may have to mention in more detail later: Philip Glenister's labyrinthine conspiracy thriller Hidden; the very creepy and apocalyptic BBC3 horror series The Fades ( got to be one of the shows of the year ); David Attenborough's astonishing Frozen Planet; series 2 of The Walking Dead which is picking up after a slow start; and I've just watched the first ep of American Horror Story which is as mad as a bag of weasels, but is very promising.

On the book front, I've just read Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 ( both for the SFX Book Club ) and have now started Philip Reeve's Fever Crumb, a Young Adult steampunk novel, set in his Mortal Engines world of post-apocalypse London.

And, back on the subject of music, I'm going to see The Damned tomorrow night in Bristol. Yay!

That'll have to do for now. Night all...

Wednesday 2 November 2011

UK Subs / Goldblade

Gloucester's Guildhall was invaded last Saturday by hordes of Punks, Zombies, Borg and, er, Smurfs as It's Only Punk Promotions' latest Punk All-Dayer brought the Halloween vibe to town.

Headliners UK Subs were on fine form, blasting out old favourites like Warhead, Tomorrow's Girls and CID to an appreciative crowd. Punk legend Charlie Harper showed us whipper-snappers ( love that word! ) that you're never too old to be a rebel, or indeed a down-to-earth star as he hung out in the bar with fans before the show. Bass player Alvin Gibbs was also very friendly and even had time to chat backstage with inebriated 40-something bloggers...

The other "name" band of the night were John Robb's mighty Goldblade, a turbo-charged speed machine of pure Punk 'n' Roll mayhem.

John Robb is surely one of the greatest, but most unsung, frontmen in Rock. An energetic, totally committed Rock 'n' Roll evangelist, John's message is "We're all in this together" and you know he means it, maaaan.

Here he is serenading the Borg Queen, aka Marie, definitely one of the stars of the show...

Also on the bill were Hooligan ( above ), all the way from Dublin, and Meat ( not pictured ) - two pretty decent Punk bands who I've seen go down really well in dodgy little pubs like Gloucester's late, lamented Pig Inn The City, but seemed lost in a larger venue. And the less said about curtain-raisers, Hacksaw, the better. Nice guys but the music's dire.

Local legends Demob ( above ) have reformed again and added their shouty street-Punk to the mix. Sharing a frontman ( Andy K ) and hard-working drummer ( Marcus aka Elmer Thudd ) with the seemingly-dissolved Noise Agents, Demob are a powerful, brutal presence on stage.

( And, in fact, their stage presence was almost totally devalued when I got up with them to yell along to Oi! classic No Room For You. My voice is still knackered... )

And no local gathering of the Punks is complete without an appearance by the fantastic Chinese Burn. Ben and the boys were on fine form, whether crowd-pleasing with old faves like Bullets, unveiling great new songs like Deleted, Depleted And Almost Defeated, or kicking our collective heads in with their berserk cover of Beat On The Brat. Many people new to the band in the audience were mightily impressed, including Sir John Of Robb, who gave them a glowing write-up on his blog, Louder Than War. The big time beckons, guys...

Here's Ben doing his thang in front of the well-spooky Halloween decorations ;-)

One of the highlights of the day were Dun2Def, a very tight, exciting band who also benefit from the kick-ass drumming of Mr. Sticks For Hire, Marcus. And any band with vampires and Smurfs in their lineup can't be bad...

Two cool T-shirts! I just happened to be talking to a fellow veteran of the Punk Wars, Jamie E, who asked me what band I used to play in. When I replied "Death Planet Commandos", he said "What, like him?" And, standing behind me was the mighty Mark, ex-DPC guitarist, wearing a very familiar T-shirt. ( Some of my finest lettering! ) Alright Mark, where's mine...?

Meanwhile, the real action was, as ever, backstage. Here's Ed from the Burn struggling to get at the free beer :-)

The lovely Dun2Def boys...

And a Chinese Burn / Dun2Def mash-up...

The Fabulous Barnes Brothers, 2/5 of the DPC, actually smiling for the camera :-)

My mate Glenn, fending off a combined Borg/zombie attack, somewhere near the Guildhall toilets...

...and here's me, looking a prat in the crowd. ( Still, good photo, Carol! )

After almost 10 hours of Punk Rock debauchery, Glenn and I retreated to Gloucester's Cafe Rene, where we spent yet more time getting merry and chatting with Drumming Man Marcus and some Polish guy called Stan. Crashed out back at Chinese Burn HQ at about 4:00am. Phew! Knackered but happy, ears and voice shot to Hell. Let's do it again sometime!

( Well, next week actually,'cos we're going to see The Damned in Bristol. Yay! )


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