It’s coming… Wheels Day 2012 – Good Friday, Friday the 6th April 2012 is the Surrey Street Rodders’ 38th Wheels Day at Rushmoor Arena. That’s TOMORROW!
Stay tuned for more info…
It’s coming… Wheels Day 2012 – Good Friday, Friday the 6th April 2012 is the Surrey Street Rodders’ 38th Wheels Day at Rushmoor Arena. That’s TOMORROW!
Stay tuned for more info…
This is where it all started back in 2005, this is where I “met” My BBFK.
After more than 5 years of transatlantic dating we’ve decided to tie the knot, to get married.
And so, on Sunday the 24th October 2010 in a pretty little park in Niagara Falls, Canada, BBFK & Lever will be getting hitched.
…then I can say that I’ve been blogging for 7 years!
Yes, that “© 2004-2009 foreverblueskies.com” in the footer of this blog just inspired me. It’s now wrong. It should be “© 2004-2010 foreverblueskies.com”
But then that would be a bit of travesty because my beloved old blog is pretty neglected these days and this could be my only post this year… look at the date of the last post… summer solstice 2009! That’s over a year ago!
But, truth be told, I *have* still been blogging, only elsewhere. Occasional posts have appeared on my green/environmental blog and a more serious/professional set of posts have appeared on my personal/professional blog. But the point is that all this diplomacy and good behaviour is pissing me off…
I recently had a conversation with the MD of the company I work for who mentioned that anything I posted under my real name might be associated with them. Now I don’t want to get into trouble with my boss nor associate the company I work with my occasional wacky and mealy-mouthed outbursts so I’ve kept a lid on my personal opinions. But I feel repressed.
So fuck it. I’m back. Even if just for one day.
I may feel the need to swear more often on the internet so, this being my personal/anonymous place where I feel that I can say pretty much what I want and the associations with work are more tenuous.
Seven years of blogging… fuck yeah!
After last year’s washout I finally made it to Stonehenge for the Summer Solstice.
The sky was clear on my midnight drive across Hampshire into Wiltshire and the traffic on the A303 was attrocious, especially from 12:30am at the Solstice Park by Amesbury. I queued for an hour and a half before taking a personal detour through Larkhill only to end up directly at the entrance to a hug car park they’d set up for the revellers. Jammy.
The car park was full with 6500 cars by 3am and apparently there were 36,500 of us there this year according to the BBC.
By 4:58 am sunrise the sky was already bright but sadly cloudy. Ah well. Maybe if I’m not totally exhausted I’ll be in the circle next year, or maybe watch the sunrise from the top of Glastonbury Tor.
Bah. No posting in over a month? Pathetic. And busy. Been too techy & philosophical to post here of late and no gigs either but I’ll break April by talking about cars; Custom cars, Yanks, classic & hot rods.
Good Friday probably has some religious connotations, so in the spirit of my faith in the Surrey Street Rodders I went on the annual pilgrimage to Wheels Day at the temple of worship that is Aldershot’s Rushmoor Arena. For those of you who don’t know the place it’s owned by the British Army and is a big grassy amphitheatre. Well, sort of…
Picking up my mate and his wife (yes, some girls do like cars) we turned up and put my “new” car, a ’95 Subaru Legacy GT, on show in the field with all the other motors. Compared to my old Legacy this one I deemed worthy enough to show as it’s got a full body kit and nearly 300BHP under the hood. It pales into insignificance to most of the other motors out in the field but when there’s a Vauxhall Nova and a Dodge Nitro on show then a Japanese streetfighter is OK. Or as they say… “If it’s got wheels and it’s unusual then you’ll see it at Wheels Day”
The weather forecast promised rain and they weren’t wrong. We got there just before 11am and it rained until we left just before 4pm. But that didn’t put a total dampener on it; the camera wasn’t out as much as it could have been and we hid under the canopy of the bar more than a few times but other than that the faithful turned out in good numbers.
Highlights of the day were:
Not been into the ’57 Bel Air, the Cadillacs and their like this year and there were too many cool VW beetles, buses and VW splits to mention. It’s the cars of my childhood that seem to have the nostalgia factor and it was great to see the Austin Maxi and the Austin/Morris Ital van (in British Telecom yellow)
The bar was an old American firetruck, so I can only assume that the pipes and dials sticking out of the top were feeding us beer all day long from tanks that were once was used to hose down burning buildings.
Fingers crossed that we get some sunshine next year aye?
I haven’t been to a gig in over a week, so it’s OK for a quick talk about vinyl right?
Of course it’s more CD and even more MP3 these days, but my current favourite sounds on the silver disc are by Ulric Schnauss, particularly his first LP (under his own name) 2001’s Far Away Trains Passing By. If you like Boards of Canada and Fischerspooner then this German ambient will be right up your street.
There’s a real floaty, ethereal quality to Ulrich Schnauss music that hits the spot so sweetly. In particular Nobody’s Home really plucks the heart strings – simple and increasingly layered, there’s a childlike innocence to this track that breaks into a euphoric “chorus” before gently drifting back into a brief lullaby verse. Then he takes you off again on a magic carpet ride. Awesome stuff, especially if you crank it up on a decent sound system or some studio quality Sennheiser headphones if you’ve got a set
Between Us & Them from the same first album is also a drop of pure ecstasy in the same vein. Jangling ambiently into dreamy signatures before kicking into a lazy drum beat, this class track is another gentle crescendo of sheer bliss that eases off just to give you a chance to catch your breath before journeying onward again.
There’s half a dozen more tracks on this LP and they’re all good, so if you love your ambient tunes then dive in; I just picked my two faves because they’re awesome.
I’m a sucker for good quality ambient sounds and if I’d died and gone to heaven then Ulrich Schnauss would provide the theme tune. In the meantime I have to seriously consider buying a property where one room can be empty apart from an ace quadraphonic hi-fidelity system and a comfy armchair right in the middle of the floor
When your mates’ band says they’re playing a gig in London on a Sunday night and your Mrs is home from the US for just one week, you just grab the chance with both hands. So me & DJ Chick’n’Rock jumped the train to the capital at 7pm and touched down in Kentish Town just as the snow was starting to settle.
The Bull & Gate, if you’ve not been there, is an excellent little venue about 2 minutes walk from Kentish Town tube station. With a bar at the front of the house and a live stage at the back, it’s a perfect place to rock out on the day of worship.
First up were Swallow Your Pride and what a great noise to kick off the gig with. Although I lost my way with metal for a bit in the ’90s, there was both a Machine Head and Panterra t-shirt on the stage and that’s the sound we were treated to; Heavy & catchy.
Safehouse Theory hit the stage next and certainly made quite an impression. Their sound was very reminiscent of a band who had a similar name before they went big and Becky said they’d certainly go down well in the U.S. – that’s what so many Brit bands want to hear when trying to make it big. (BTW whatever happened to Bush?)
Safehouse Theory were pretty polished. Despite the small stage they certainly had presence and not a shred of ego there; They just got on and enjoyed pumping out hard & heavy rock with some nice catchy melodies and a lot of vocal passion, backed up by beats & fx. Their bassist was particularly excellent and has inspired me to give up playing the 4-string because I haven’t got a hope in hell – I think I’ll just retire into being a rhythm guitarist
And finally, ladies & gentlemen, Demilo. With a good-looking chick on vocals they’re like a younger Republica. Of course a decent voice and some cute tunes does the trick too, so Demilo are candy to both the eyes and ears.
Whilst lead-singer Tess is explaining the meaning to the next song bassist Chris butts in and pipes “It’s about drugs” LOL And after that all their songs seemed to be about drugs! Only kidding
Due to the snow above ground the tube train services underground were badly affected. Our tube train was late and when it did turn up it took us to the wrong branch line, so we hopped off at London Bridge at midnight to make another connection.
The Jubilee line was closed completely so we had to walk to Waterloo to catch the 00:58 last train.
After an hour of trudging through snowy London streets, very reminiscent of a Victorian Christmas card we finally made it to our train, which was late in leaving, luckily, because it was now 1:07am.
The 40 minute train journey back to north-east Hampshire took over 2 hours thanks to snow & “points failure” and once back in Farnborough we had to dust off the Subaru and drive home in the snow, finally getting home at 3:30am
What a long old night, but it was fun
And the best bit? I took a cheap snapshot of some old London Church looking pretty in the snow. When I got home and downloaded the image… it was only the Atheist Bus infront of Southwark Cathedral! How funny is that?
…it was New Year. Where TF did that go?
Ah well, enough of the pleasantries, like Xmas, it’s the same shit every year. But that would be rude, so Happy New Year to whoever still reads my crap these days
People moan about Farnborough, and I agree it’s not the best place in the world, not since they shut down The Tumbledown Dick. There’s no reason for this town to be the centre of the universe anymore
And Aldershot’s certainly no better. OK, they do have the Westy to go see gigs at, but it’s hardly a reasonable walking distance from my Fox Lane (Farnborough) home when I’ve had a skinful.
But today I went for a quick wander around the town I used to hang about in as a kid. (Well, sometimes) And what has become of The Home of The British Army? Well, for one, Aldershot still has some of it’s Victorian buildings. Other classic buildings have been utterly destroyed for bland new constructions. Bummer. And the place was dead, so so deathly quiet and a cold cold Wednesday afternoon. I spoke with some locals and they blame it on the Ministry of Defence who started moving our soldiers to Colchester some years ago. Plus it’s been -10°c here the last few nights and we have a global credit crunch incase you didn’t notice
However, if there’s one glimmer of hope in Aldershot, it’s Spinna Disc Records. They moved from Grosvenor Road to the top of Union Street some years back. I walked past the location and they were gone. However, a stroll further down Union Street and there was the shop sign… “Spinna Disc Records”.
I couldn’t help myself, I was compelled to enter the shop. Second-hand record shops are just addictive and they are so rare these days, especially outside big cities and with the advent of eBay shops and the like where I admit I’ve misspent a lot of my life buying used CDs.
My opinion on modern tunes is why should we buy new music when there’s so much old stuff that we haven’t caught up with. Have you got a copy of Argus by Wishbone Ash? Or how about Kings of Oblivion by The Pink Fairies? No? Then don’t buy any new music until you’ve tracked these LPs down, purchased them, played them and then blogged about how much you love them. Don’t thank me, thank Wishbone Ash, The Pink Fairies and the power of the Internet for allowing us to get stuck in a beautiful musical timewarp.
I admit to not really ever being a GN’R fan. A review of the controversial-covered Appetite for Destruction when it first came out, in NME back in 1987, harped on about how good the LP was, and I admit I was tempted to buy it but somehow missed out. I ended up being far more enamoured by Hawkwind and their awesome Live Chronicles LP and went more that direction in rock/metal rather than the more “glammy” GN’R route.
And then everyone started dressing like Axel Rose, drinking Jack Daniels, flipping Zippo lighters, wearing mirrored shades and trying to look (in a I’m so macho ‘cos I look like a girl sense) cool… except Axel Rose danced like a twat. And his voice got on my tits. I saw them at Donnington ’88 and wasn’t that impressed, not when Helloween, Megadeth, Dave Lee Roth and Iron Maiden were on the same bill. (But you missed out Kiss, they were there too. No they weren’t. One word – Crazy Nights. OK, that’s two, but I had more fun draining my lizard than listening to that shite)
Where was I? Oh yeah, GN’R. That wasn’t my scene, all that whiny November Rain bollocks. Sorry, but that was the most dire song ever, and video, especially to followers of bands like Kreator, Nuclear Assault and Overkill. Anyone who liked November Pain was just… I dunno, an emotional rock retard. But the point is that I heard a few tracks played from Chinese Democracy and really quite enjoyed them. I blame Planet Rock. So when I was chatting to the geezer in Spinnadisc he pointed it out. I thought yeah, why not – it’s on my list so let’s have it.
What’s it like? Well OK, I’m listening to it right now, track 13… one more to go. Yeah, it’s good. I like it. It’s slightly overproduced I feel, it has a more digital, synthesised feel to it, and I feel that some of the tracks end abruptly, or am I just not concentrating?
Axl’s voice is still the same but I think my tinnitus takes the edge of it, and at times he drops into these weird octaves that remind me of some Frank Zappa stuff around the time of Joe’s Garage Act I (try finding that on CD for a reasonable price!) The drumming sounds like a machine at times and the guitar is Slash-like, although I don’t know this line-up. Looking at the CD insert, is that a bloke with a bucket on his head? Oh how Mick Jones would laugh!
Excuse the vagueness of my music critique, I’m a bit weary, but if you’re a GN’R fan then you’ve probably already brought Chinese Rocks (YES – I’ve been dying to write that) and you must already love it (But where’s Slash, why DOES that guy have a KFC bargain bucket on his bonce?)
On the other hand, if you don’t like GN’R you may still hate them. Or maybe not. I don’t care too much ‘cos I’m getting more tired as I write this and I have to switch to my Iron Maiden CD…
…OK, it’s in.
[And Seventh Son would sound great if I weren’t stuck on this stupid interactive CD autoboot… Come on, Winamp, read the bastard. OK. Sorted. Ooh, memories of ’87/’88]
So if you don’t live anywhere near Aldershot or even plan to visit within the next month, then go ahead and buy stuff off Amazon or, better still, go support your local 2nd-hand record shop. If you DO plan to be in North East Hampshire very soon, then I highly recommend a trip to Spinna Disc at 16 Union Street, Aldershot, Hampshire GU11 1EG. Not only are there loads of CDs, but he has TONS of LPs and is a really nice chap, so go and grab some old tunes from one of our locals.
Right, talking of Slash, I need the toilet…
After a few pints, a burger and a tot o’ rum in a London pub (hello Ray & Diane) we ambled on up to The Astoria for Hawkwind’s Christmas gig.
Because we got chatting with some homeless guy outside we missed most of the support act 3 Daft Monkeys, who I saw supporting The Levellers back in August, but caught the last couple of songs from ex-Hawk Huw Lloyd-Langton. Despite me first hearing Hawkwind’s Silver Machine back in the late 1970s on Essex Radio, as it was then, it was Lloyd-Langton’s guitaring on the 1985 masterpiece Live Chronicles that really got me hooked. Well, that and the fantasy concept based on Michael Moorcock’s epic Elric of Melinobone stories. Huw’s acoustic set seemed to go down well with the crowd, from what we could see from the bar, and I caught the strains of Rocky Paths from, strangely enough, the Live Chronicles double LP.
As for the Hawks themselves I admit I was a little concerned about how they would sound since the departure of bass assassin #2, Alan Davey, and the sad & untimely death of young keyboard player Jason Stuart. But once the synths sparked up and the light show panned out, my fears were allayed.
Master of the Universe was a cracking start to the show just as Nik Turner’s Space Ritual played the same down at the Thomas Tripp gig a couple of weeks back. Nice to know that if Dave Brock & Nik Turner can’t share a stage at least they can share a song.
Mr Dibs, formerly of Krel and Spacehead, took up bass and vocal duties; you just gotta love the vocal effects he had. And Tim Blake, former Hawk, was back
We were treated to a real mix of tunes including Who’s Gonna win the War, Damnation Alley, Sword of the East, The Sentinel and Hassan I Sabbah with the usual treats of a Hawkwind gig; costumed dancers, good light show and back projections of all manner of psychedellic imagery.
The crowd was good, the Astoria was packed, and we worked our way down to the front for the last few tunes where the wreck wasn’t as mindless as it had been at the last 3 concerts (Feeder, Motorhead, Space Ritual). Flying Doctor from the spin-off Hawklords LP was good to hear but to finish on Silver Machine was pretty much perfect, although the sound could have been a bit better.
The only spoiler was the guy who got aggy with the staff when he lost his cloakroom ticket and the selfish student who refused to give up the last seat on the train because he wanted to make sure his bags were comfortable.
Same again next year? Unless there’s a mid-year Hawkfest, I certainly hope so.
I logged in to Amazon last night and, underneath the book, CD and DVD recommendations, there was a new list of MP3 downloads; all individual tracks. Of course the list is supposed to be based on my music purchases but I haven’t brought any music off Amazon for months and it certainly wasn’t by any band from this list, so I was well happy to see the list dominated by:
They even have a WHY? button to check the reason for the recommendation… so when I found a Fleetwood Mac track in there because I’d purchased a Black Sabbath CD (That must be YEARS ago) I nearly choked!