Thursday, 29 December 2016


My daughter the Maddionette has been busy writing her musical reviews of the year which you can read here;!
She challenged me to write a review of my favourite music of 2016.  This is a little difficult because I very rarely buy new releases so I'll have to bend the rules a little and include music I've discovered or have a new appreciation for, in 2016.

First up is an album that I bought this year but was actually released in 2015, so it almost counts as new.  I've loved Paul Weller's music for a long time and his latest release "Saturn's Pattern" see's the old wrinkly in top form.  It's a good listen all the way through but I particularly like the opening two tunes; Roaring rock guitar in 'White Sky' and the melodic piano hook of the title track.

Latitude is seven months away and I'm looking forward to it already.  Over the last six years this festival has been the source of the majority of my new musical discoveries.  This year there were several treats.  Grimes played a really enjoyable, high energy set and from what I've heard 'Art Angels' is a good listen too.

Weaves were a big surprise and I really enjoyed watching them in the middle of the day at Latitude.  A hard rock sound with a quirky female vocal, it shouldn't work but it really does.

Soulwax have been around for years but sadly passed me by.  Some of their music sounds like classy indie rock, some is pure dance.  I am growing to love them and their awesome dance set on Saturday night at Latitude was the musical highlight of the weekend.

Maddionette had played me a bit of Panic! at the Disco in the past and I quite liked it.  Seeing them play at Alexandra Palace in November gave me an excuse to investigate them further.  It was a really good show and I've enjoyed discovering this band, in particular the "To weird to live, too rare to die" and "Death of a Bachelor" albums.  As the latter is a 2016 release it actually fits the criteria.

Another band introduced to me by Maddie and Isaac is Twenty one Pilots, really like the "Blurryface" cd, kick arse synth rock! I'm liking 'Vessel' after a few listens too.  This would sound good live so a band to look out for in the future.

Father Xmas (Maddie) brought me a copy of the latest Green Day CD "Revolution Radio" which is a 2016 release.  Not much to say about this but after just two listens I'm liking it, 'Bang bang' and 'Youngblood' in particular stand out.

Finally a proper mention for an album release in 2016!  I liked Red Hot Chilli Peppers 'The Getaway' on the first listen and have grown to love it over the weeks.  'Longest Wave' leaped out at me on that first play (driving to Norfolk) and remains a favourite. 'Dreams of a Samurai' was awesome when we saw them live earlier this month.  There isn't a dodgy song on the album and it's their best release for years.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

What does it mean?

Don't feel obliged to wish me a happy Christmas because I don't really know what it means, do you?  How many people who utter the words are actually celebrating the birth of Christ.  The ghastly "happy holiday" is actually more appropriate but no.  Happy gluttons day.  Happy piss up.  Happy madspend.  Happy I'm going to forget the bastard I am for the rest of the year and be drunk/nice/stupid for a couple of days.

Why are we celebrating?  Presents for children. A few days of work and an excuse to overindulge for most adults.  Celebrate the festival of greed.  Apt when you look at the world around us where greed is worshiped.

It's good to laugh with friends and family, fun things in good company.  Sharing. giving, smiling, followed by eating, drinking, singing and who knows?  It serves as an excuse to bring people together.  If that's what it means nowadays then hell I'll buy into it.  Happy Christmas.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Battered in Chennai!

The fifth test was a major case of deja vu.  England won the toss and batted, making a decent score of 477, built mainly around 146 from Moeen Ali.  In return India battered England and amassed a record score of 757-7 dec.  Rahul made 199 and Nair in only his third test turned a maiden century into 303*  England should have been able to bat through the final day and save the match, especially as they hadn't lost a wicket by lunch.  Unfortunately they bottled it and allowed Jadeja to take 7-48, India won by an innings again.

We should have beaten Bangladesh but no one should be surprised at India winning the series 4-0, England were clear underdogs before the series and the result is what many predicted.  The simple truth is; England's current batting line up does not have anywhere enough experience in facing good spinners in helpful conditions.  Kohli was different class this series.  Although our spinners are improving they are not in the same league as Ashwin and Jadeja.  We were outperformed by a better team this year but if the two sides met in England next year, we would win comfortably.

Despite this heavy defeat I think this has been a good autumn for the development of this England team.  After a couple of years of selections that have found little but ruled several players out, it seems as if we are starting to know what our best team is.  Naseeb Hameed looks like he could be a world class player and open the batting for years to come, the search for Cook's partner is finally over.  Keaton Jennings has done enough in a couple of knocks to cement his own spot, probably at no.3.  Ben Duckett and Gary Ballance will go back to their counties, the latter probably permanently.  
There has been talk about the captaincy, will Cook stay on?  Is Root ready?  I hope Cook allowed to continue for as long as he wants the job but if he's had enough then fine.  I'm sure he'll make more runs for the team if he isn't captain, how Root goes remains to be seen.

We don't have another test match until next July now.  A lot can change in that time but from what we've seen this year, my team for the next home test match would be...

Cook, Hammed, Jennings, Root, Ali, Stokes, Bairstow, Woakes, Rashid, Broad, Anderson

Monday, 19 December 2016

Anti Xmas music advent Calendar Part 3

It's here oh blessed relief!  The collective madness has peaked, the annual festival of spending is nearly over and we are sliding helplessly into what all the bloody fuss is about, Xmas day.  Now you can't guarantee everything will be rosy but you can be sure that things will start to return to normal.  After the sales, which I won't go near anyway (actually shouldn't natural selection have sorted these fuckers out by now?) and New year.  As this is the most overrated night and day on the calendar it makes sense to get it over with right away.  But after all that shite things will get back to normal.  Yes we're going back to work and it'll probably be bloody cold but the days will be gradually getting longer and spring will be hear before you know it.

No carols, no Noddy, no Wizard, no fucking Wham.  Play these instead, loud.

OK I'm going soft for a second.  This is a brilliant song, written by a drunken genius and co-sung by an angel who was tragically and ironically killed at Xmas.  It should not be classed as a Xmas song, its a musical story that just happens to be set at Xmas.  None of which will stop shark like music business execs from cashing in year after year but what the hell.

Having endured the hellish first three weeks of December, having spent far too much money then followed this with hours of preparation; clogging the house with decorations, peeling veg and stuffing the fucking turkey for the most overrated meal of the year...  The day itself should be perfect but it rarely is. 

Xmas presents; Socks, deodorant gift packs and loads of total cack that will be in a charity shop by January.  That's not what we want is it?  Xmas presents should be easy...

I'm lucky that I enjoy being around my family and being in an overcrowded house full of relatives isn't a nightmare for me.  However I know there are families out there that can barely tolerate the sight of each other.

Whatever happens, overindulgence is impossible to avoid.  Painkillers required for mind, body and soul.

Sorry kids but Santa can't make it this year because he's a lazy fat bastard, either that or he doesn't fucking exist, you decide.  Don't worry though, we've lined up a replacement to slip down your chimney.  Don't have nightmares.

I have my punk obsessed friend Giles to thank for finding this mad masterpiece.  You just have to love the sentiment.

When all the bollocks and bullshit is booted aside, this is what Xmas should really be about.  Sing it loud, "Come together, as one..."  Have a happy one.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Red Hot Chilli Peppers 11/12/16

I love the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and have done since I first heard "Fight Like a Brave" on the BBC way back in the eighties.  A couple of years later they released "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" and became the global superstars they remain today.  I got a chance of four tickets and i didn't have to think about it, has to be done!  So on a damp Sunday afternoon in December I pointed the car westwards and off we set.  I say "we" as I was joined by the Purple Princess, My daughter Maddie and beloved friend Trev, who like me, had seen RHCP before.  The journey along the A14/M6 wen't almost without a hitch (but not quite!) and we pulled up in the car park with time to spare.

The venue, Birmingham NEC is one I've visited many times.  It's further away than the London venues but less hassle to reach.  As we walked from the car park to the arena it became it had been spruced up considerably since my last visit, maybe a decade ago?  There's now a retail area that I hadn't noticed before with high street names in big lights.  The venue too is now named the "Genting arena" after it's sponsor, a casino apparently.

We joined a throng of people and were steadily drawn into the arena.  A quick stop for a Tee shirt then off in search of our seats.  We found ourselves towards the back of the arena, way up high near the roof.  this may have the disadvantage of not being in the thick of the atmosphere below but our view would be better.  Normally I find myself trying to peer over the shoulders of giants so a clear view of the stage makes a nice change.

Anyway, back up a bit.  By the time we found our seats the support were already in full flow.  This was "Baby Metal".  This band are unique to say the least, how could I describe it?  Imagine a Japanese 'Little Mix' singing in front of a 'Metallica' style hard rock band dressed in strange outfits.  (They look a bit like the band 'Goat'.  If you are unfamiliar with Goat, type it into YouTube, ignore anything dodgy and try to find the mad Swedish rock band.  You'll thank me.)  Anyway, three sweet Japanese girls dancing in perfect synch in front of a hard rock band shouldn't really work, should it?  Well it kind of does, in as much as it was entertaining and good fun.  We all enjoyed it and Maddie in particular loved it so its a thumbs up for Baby Metal.

Most concerts start off with some kind of dramatic intro but not the Peppers.  There's a bit of freaky clarinet warbling as they casually stroll on to stage.  Chad climbs onto the drum riser, Flea straps on the bass, Josh walks on with guitar and they launch into a jam, pounding rhythm and wailing guitar.  The rhythm increases, the sound builds and builds, these are seriously good musicians.  Anthony bops on and the band smashes into "Can't Stop", fucking awesome!  Then it's straight into "Dani California" followed by "Scar Tissue", what a way to start the gig!  "With the birds I share this lonely view..."

From this point on I can't remember what order the songs came in but there were several from the latest album "The Getaway".  these included the title track, "Dark Necessities", "Sick Love" and "Go Robot", I love this album and was looking forward to hearing it played live but was disappointed they didn't find time for "Longest Wave".  Mingled in with these were more familiar tunes like "Did I let you know", "Tell me baby" and "Parallel Universe".  At times tonight it seemed that the atmosphere dipped a little and also the sound wasn't quite right to my ears but these could both have been due to our position in the arena.  When a band has a back catalogue as large as the Peppers there are alway going to be tunes that are left out.  In particular the absence of"Californication" left a big hole in the show.  I would have loved to have heard "Snow" and "Brendan's Death Song".  I hear the band mixes the set up every night which is to their credit.

When Trev and I saw the Peppers play before in 2006 a feature of the show had been the band Jamming between songs and I loved this.  There wasn't much of this improvisation tonight but they did squeeze in a few bars of Led Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker" and Sabbath's "Iron Man".  There wasn't much audience interaction tonight either, just a few words from Flea and Anthony but that's fine with me.  By jamming and talking less maybe they could squeeze more tunes in?  Whatever, when the Peppers are on stage they look like they are loving it.

I have to mention the lighting.  Apart from the usual effects we've become used to RHCP used hundreds of thin, tubular, ever changing lights suspended above the stage and crowd.  These rose and fell, ebbed and flowed, formed shapes and patterns.  I can't recall seeing anything like this before and it was really effective.  Maybe our row high seats gave us a different angle and allowed us to fully appreciate this?

The band played on...  "Under the Bridge" sounded brilliant with the crowd singing every word.  This was followed by a blistering "By the Way" and once again the atmosphere was sparking.  Another banging tune now would have lifted the roof... But the band left the stage.

The inevitable encore charade followed.  The band returned with another new song "Dream of a Samurai", a strange choice at this stage but it's a great tune and it sounded superb.  Then came the awesome funky punky "Give it away" which had the roof straining once again...
"Unimpressed with material excess, love is free love me say Hell Yes!"  Chad paid homage to some great British rock bands.  Then they were gone.

Walking back to the car we all agreed we'd enjoyed the show.  For me the measure is how I feel when it ends, am I ready to go home or do I want more?  Tonight I definitely wanted more, I loved it!  That said I think RHCP played a better show when I saw them the first time in 2006.  All in all this was a very, very good gig but one that fell a little short of being great.  I'd go see them again for sure!

India have taken an unassailable 3-0 lead in the test series against England.  We won the test and the latest opener Jennings scored an impressive ton on debut to help England to 400.  It seemed a good total but India have a master batsman in Virat Kholi who is having a remarkable series.  His 230+ helped the home side to a total over 600.  With Ashwin bowling superbly the win was a matter of when, not if.  It's a bit embarrassing for England to lose by an innings after posting 400.  The fifth and final test starts in a couple of days, we could play much better and still lose!

Monday, 12 December 2016

Anti Xmas music advent Calendar Part 2

It's getting serious now.  "The big day" is getting too close for comfort but not close enough to be actually enjoyable for even the most indoctrinated, enthusiastic, brain dead Xmas lover.  By this time most sane people have had enough and just want all the bullshit to be over for another year.

Getting excited/annoyed/frustrated.

Simply the best Xmas No. 1 ever.  Smash the Establishment, smash the X factor monopoly, (NB In this equation X = shit) kick Simon Cowell in the bollocks.  Come to think of it even Cowell's shit was better than the bilge spewed out by suspected paedo (allegedly) Cliff fucking Richard year after year.  

"Burn down tinsel town..."  But don't stop there.  Burn down the tinsel, the tree, the baubels.  Smash the sleigh, eat the reindeer and torch the fucking coke lorry while you're at it.

So you're wearing a Xmas jumper?  How fucking hilarious, you quirky little individual.  I've got news for you, it's shit and you look a twat.  No need...

Why all the snow scenes?  It never fucking snows at Xmas, ever.  Snow is shit anyway, fun for a day then a total pain in the Khyber while it lingers around, clogging everything up, then it melts and becomes a fucking mess.  Not all snow is bad however, one of the good varieties is...

Driving into the town centre for the annual ritual riot known as Xmas shopping?  Everywhere packed out with people buying crap, nose to head, elbow to elbow.  Can't move, can't drive and definitely can't park.  You know where you're heading...

While you're at it, all that money you're wasting on tat and shite that nobody really wants.  Put the word 'Christmas' on something with a picture of a fucking robin, then double the price, fucking bandits.  At least Dick Turpin wore a mask.

I don't feel the slightest bit spiritual at this time of year, any religious significance has been long forgotten.  Should I feel the need to attend a ceremony I like the thought of this bloke presiding.

And to get into the spirit properly we all need to see a stylist for a suitable religious look!  Come to think of it, loads of hipster shits are sporting it already.  Scrub that, shave and get a crew cut.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Anti Xmas music advent Calendar Part 1

The 'Xmas single' has to be one of the biggest crimes against humanity ever unleashed upon the masses.  They are, almost without exception, a hastily thrown together musical bucket of vomit spewed all over our ears.  The Xmas No.1 is coveted only because it's the single that will make the most cash for the industry throughout the fifty two weeks and the pretense that quality of music actually matters has long been shattered.  Everyone knows the Xmas single is a pile of shite but the industry knows the sheeple will go out and buy it anyway.

If that isn't bad enough, every December we get all this utter filth thrown at us again.  Year after year we are subjected to Noddy fucking Holder screaming you know what and Roy bloody Wood lying through his teeth, wishing it could be Xmas everyday.  Fucking Wham and their sickeningly sweet loveliness and all those other horrors we've heard a million times.  I expect these criminals still lap up the royalties ta very much, bastards.

Anyway, the dreaded main event is still a couple of weeks away but normally rational people are still allowing themselves to get wrapped up in something they call...

 'Xmas spirit'

I live in dread of December.  I can handle the shitty weather but the bullshit gets me down.  Halloween isn't scary, it's just more bollocks, a prelude to the real nightmare approaching.

"It's the most wonderful time of the year..." So says the song, can't remember who sung it but that is irrelevant because its just more cheesy Xmas shit.  Anyway, fuck that, D D D Don't believe the hype!

Drink yourself to death "because its Xmas...".  Stuff your gullet full of shit, wear a permanent prozac grin.  Dress like a knob..."Because..."

"Because its Xmas..." the age old excuse for acting like a total cock.   Or to put it a bit more politely acting a little..

Collective lunacy caused by the season.  Faux forced madness, "I'm mad me, I just don't care..."  Chase them outa town!

Marvin wasn't really talking about Xmas but he could have been and everything else he sings about is still going on today.  Mankind hasn't learnt a damn thing but forget all that, cheer up its fucking Xmas...

In the year of brexit, here's one for all the mugs who didn't really have a clue what they were voting for.  This is what we're left with.  At least the soundtrack is class.

Yes it's been a mad year.  Here's one for our American brothers who managed to hold an election contested by two of the worst candidates it is possible to imagine.  When Xmas passes the New Year heralds...

We need an antidote to the madness.  Xmas is the poison, this is the remedy.  Turn it right up, drown out the carols and cheesy Xmas shite.  Do it Now!