Sunday, June 29, 2008

Because A Friend Asked... Sort Of

Friend: “So Neil, how about listing seven songs you’re into at the moment? No matter the genre, whether they have words or even if they’re any good but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, you know, shaping your Spring?”
Neil: “Shaping my Spring? What am I, the new man-candy presenter of The f#cking Beechgrove Garden?”
Friend: “Stop being such a bloody misery guts and just do it.”
Neil: “Can I just list seven songs off Outlandos D’Amour?”
Friend: “No.”
Neil: “Oh alright then. But just this once mind.”

Paul Weller – Have You Made Up Your Mind
I highlighted this a couple of weeks ago but it’s worth saying again; his new album “22 Dreams” is absolutely fantastic and gets better on every listening. Seeing him sing this song on ‘Later with Jools Holland’ (as well as playing that gorgeous Fender Telecaster – my number one must-have-but-can’t-afford desire right now) was the trigger that made me “log on” to iTunes and “download” (is that how you say it?) the album straight away. Exactly what the interweb was invented for.

The Raconteurs – Salute Your Solution
I didn’t know this was Jack White’s ‘other’ band (not that I have a clue about The White Stripes either) until a pal recommended I listen to their latest album “Consoler Of The Lonely”. It’s still growing on me but I like this song in particular because whenever I hear it, I picture Keith Richards playing the guitar riff… man.

Coldplay – Viva La Vida
It seems to have become very fashionable to despise Coldplay, sometimes with an irrational intensity based solely on Chris Martin’s hair / dancing / shy speaking voice / wife / kids’ names etc. Even my gentle pal Dave told me recently he’d purchased their new album “in a moment of weakness” and went on to say that it’s “just like their other stuff” which I took as a good thing because, pardon me, but I think they’re absolutely brilliant. As a songwriter (hark at me!) I think a memorable melody trumps less-than-Shakespearean lyrics and this band deliver on that front every time. I saw them play at a festival in Texas a few years back and they are phenomenal live so now I can’t wait to go and see them again in Glasgow in December, a gig for which I have a spare ticket if anyone (and by “anyone” I mean “hot, single female”) is interested?

Sheryl Crow – Love Is Free
This song is probably not my favourite from her recent album “Detours” but it’s insanely catchy and is the very definition of a song that’s “shaping my Spring”. I saw her play in Glasgow on Friday night (have I mentioned the kiss-blowing?) and let me tell you there’s nothing hotter than a 40-something rock chick with a Fender Telecaster slung low across her slender hips. (I wonder if she fancies going to see Coldplay?) And in this video she reminds me of someone rather special.

Justin Currie – What Is Love For?
When I first heard them back in the late 80s, Del Amitri were the band I always hoped The Signals would become. Cool, acoustic-based rock ‘n roll, joyously delivered by good-looking Scottish musicians with a dry sense of humour and just the right amount of facial hair and flowing locks. (Now that I think about it, THAT is the answer I should’ve given during my High School careers interview when asked about how I saw my life unfolding. Rather than, “Um, dunno… something involving pizza?”) They should’ve been HUGE in the States instead of being limited to that one hit “Roll To Me” (perhaps their weakest single) which happened to be on various film soundtracks and is still a much loved standard in shopping mall food courts across America.

Former front man Justin Currie is undoubtedly one of Scotland’s greatest ever singer-songwriters and this title song from last year’s debut solo album continues his tradition of producing lasting, heart-wrenching odes to love and loss. Last night I went to see him play a terrific show in a little venue called Oran Mor in Glasgow. He was funny, shy, nervous at times but happily attempted to perform spontaneous requests from the audience, not always with a successful conclusion which only enhanced the overall experience ten-fold. He’s got more than a bit of an insecure streak and reading some of his thoughts on his (and Del Amitri’s) MySpace sites will want to make you give him a hug. (In case you’re wondering, I refrained from rushing the stage last night.) Great song, great album, can’t wait for the next one.

[Interesting aside: Oran Mor is a converted church that sits on the corner of the busy junction of Byres Road and Great Western Road in Glasgow. This is the EXACT location I’ve always pictured in my head when hearing the lyrics “Now the traffic lights change to stop when there’s nothing to go, and by five o’clock everything’s dead, and every third car is a cab...” from Del Amitri’s 1989 song “Nothing Ever Happens”. Spooky huh?]

The Killers – All These Things That I’ve Done
The Signals are currently going through a phase of finding and rehearsing new cover versions and this one is on the short list after being suggested by powerhouse bass player Donald “Now Where Did I Put My Readers?” Campbell. I have to admit I had little time for The Killers (or is it just ‘Killers’?) until I saw them on television last year at Abbey Road studios doing a spine-tingling rendition of Dire Straits’s “Romeo & Juliet”. So I now have both albums and it turns out they’re not that bad after all. Who knew?

FYI – other artists whose songs we’re considering include Snow Patrol, Stereophonics, Counting Crows, Train, Ryan Adams, Wilco, Foo Fighters, KT Tunstall, The Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, Bon Jovi (f#cking-A!), Take That (yes, really!) AND…

Bruce Springsteen – I'll Work For Your Love
In my book this is flawless songwriting. From the piano intro and snappy snare drum announcing the rockin’ first verse with glorious descending bass, there is absolutely no blemish or waste in this song. Verse, chorus, verse, chorus (with lyrics in the best story-telling tradition), 8-bar harmonica solo, Middle-8, take it down a notch for the first two lines of the third verse and then crank it up for the final extended chorus all the way through to a ‘proper’ ending. Three and a half minutes of absolute musical perfection. His last album “Magic” has been in my car since I got it last year and shows no signs of being permanently usurped by any other.

And that’s that… seven of the best. In case you missed it (Dad?) clicking on the underlined blue words above will take you to some videos/song extracts on the You Tube. So anyway, what’ve you been listening to lately?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

OMG... OMG...

… I went to see Sheryl Crow last night and at one point she looked right at me and blew me a kiss! ME! A KISS! And yes, she was absolutely fantastic. And no, I didn’t remember to take my camera. But did I mention the kiss-blowing…?

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I mislaid my my mobile/cell phone in Bristol yesterday so if any of you are trying to text me with that strange language of numbers and symbols that you use, first of all DON'T because it's a complete abuse of the English language and is not big or clever, and second of all I won't receive it until my phone is returned to me (or finds its own way home like those two dogs and a cat from the 70s Disney movie) early next week.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Giant Steps Are What You Take

Well it’s nearly a week now since I went to see The Police in Manchester and although I expected to write a meticulous and thorough review much earlier than this, there hardly seems much point when the whole experience can be summed up with – cue high-pitched yelp - “ABSOLUTELY F#CKING AWESOME”. Seriously, if you want to see the greatest three-piece band ever producing a live sound that is the very definition of synergeticismness whilst surrounded by an ocean of white, 40-somethings performing what can only be described as “f#ckwit dancing”, then this is the concert tour for you.

I have to admit that when I entered the Manchester Evening News Arena last Tuesday evening my emotions were a strange mix of teenage hysteria and middle-age pragmatism(ness?), such was my trepidation that Sting would put on some new age re-interpretation of all the classic songs, complete with yoga interlude and didgeridoo.

The appearance of a stool in front of his microphone just before the lights dimmed did little to allay these fears and I held my breath dreading some unrecognisable rendition of Roxanne played on the f#cking lute… “Roxanne… thou dost not need douse the red light…

But I needn’t have worried. The stool was to allow him to play a strapless wee acoustic guitar and as the first familiar strains of ‘Bring On The Night’ began, the show (and my bladder control) was off and running.

Ripping through ‘Message In A Bottle’ (still the greatest pop single EVER), ‘Walking On The Moon’, ‘Demoliton Man’, ‘Voices inside My Head/When The World Is Running Down’ and ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me’ it was hard to believe such talent and energy was radiating from three guys with a combined age of 176. After ‘Driven To Tears’ and ‘Hole In My Life’, my favourite moment of the night followed when they signed off a stomping version of ‘Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic’ by completely f#cking up the ending and blaming each other. Man, I know how that feels.

‘Wrapped Around Your Finger’, ‘De Do Blah Blah’, ‘Invisible Sun’ (did you know they had this many hits?) a crunching ‘Can’t Stand Losing You’ and still there was time for ‘Roxanne’, ‘King Of Pain’, ‘So Lonely’ and finally – cue white, f#ckwit-dancing 40-somethings holding each other close and gazing wistfully into each other’s crossed-eyes – ‘Every Breath You Take’. But no, not finally ‘cause they still came back to do a whirlwind ‘Next To You’ with punky ending and soaring bass player leap. Fanf#ckingtastic!

Words don’t come close to properly articulating how happy I was at the end of this night. Middle-age pragmatism had come very close to extinguishing 24 years of hysterical teenage hope of ever seeing this band play together again and to see them perform as well as they did took my breath away. Mind you, being there with one of the people who accompanied me to the 1984 Edinburgh Playhouse gig was pretty special also.

Alas, although being only twenty rows from the front and in possession of a half-decent camera, I had neither the technical know-how nor steadiness of hand to produce any decent photographs. This is the best I can offer.

Never mind though. Here instead is me and my short shorts relaxing in our luxury hotel room afterwards. What a night!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008



… I’m going to see The Police tonight!!! OMG!!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Something For The Weekend 41


A quick cultural update for you this week ‘cause I’ve just been so busy playing great golf coupled with trying to keep my voice at a pitch and resonance that doesn’t shatter glassware wherever I go, such is my pants-wetting hysteria at the prospect of seeing The Police next Tuesday night. So, in brief…

The only thing I’ve watched this week is some football (Super Henrik!) and the conclusion of “The Apprentice” (how gorgeous was Helene? and a boob job to boot apparently!?) and yet again Alan Bloody Sugar picked the wrong winner. Honestly Dave, what the f#ck does that guy know about business?

Don’t tell my wee brother (he’s a Jam fan… I’m a Police fan… imagine our idyllic childhood?) but I bought the new Paul Weller album, “22 Dreams”, this week and am enjoying it enormously. It’s a bit mellow and trippy at times with enough rockin’ guitar in all the right places and there’s no doubting the guy can write a good song. Need a copy?

I finally finished that bloody Brian bloody Clough bloody book young man. Good story but what a bloody slog to get through. This reading lark is hard work. Someone should tell these so-called authors to record their “outputs” on to some kind of audio tape facility so I can listen to it on my car’s 8-track.

Most “art”, of course, is utter pants but I know what I like and I really like these photos where people have been captured jumping in mid air whilst totally covered in sheets and fabrics. I also like them because they were taken in my favourite city of Austin, TX.

Not everyone’s sense of humour is the same but if these commercials don’t make you laugh just a little bit then frankly, you’re a bit mental.

Food & Drink
You know Dave, I’ve never really understood all the fuss about getting “five a day”. But that’s because, until this week, I thought people were talking about “meals”.

I’m in a bit of a quandary about what to wear to the Police gig next Tuesday. Beard or clean shaven? Baseball cap or stetson? Denim or cords? Jacket or hoodie? Boxers or commando? Timberlands or white Shakin' Stevens boots? I still have a red Police t-shirt from 1980, as sported here by Stewart Copeland, but let’s just say it’s a bit on the “snug” side.

If only I could track down this slightly larger effort from 1981.

This is me on a school trip to Switzerland with best pal Big Al “The Kiddies Pal” Hendry. Not really sure why Al had such a penchant for so much leather or why he seems to be fascinated by his own fist but the combination of the two is a little disturbing. Perhaps he was just over exuberant after we’d broken into that white car to steal a wallet and couldn’t wait to spend the francs on double (and underage!) beers!

Or how about this one from the “Synchronicity” years?

This is me in San Antonio, Ibiza in 1984 complete with Indiana Jones (sort of ) hat and standard issue Scottish “carry-out” in a plastic duty-free bag. The previous night, I’d been at the very same discotheque where Wham’s “Club Tropicana” video was filmed. Hence the short shorts!

As a guru of all things fashionable Dave, I’d welcome any input you have to offer. Nothing yellow though. Or pink.

Have a great weekend and come back next week when I’ll no doubt be sharing a photo or fifty from the gig.

Cheers, Edge

Monday, June 09, 2008

I Had A Sixty-Nine Yesterday...

... and very sweet it was too.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Something For The Weekend 40


Busy, busy, busy over the last couple of weeks what with playing golf and rockin’ with the greatest band in the world and finding “inner peace” on various school nights, woo hoo! In fact I’ve been home so infrequently that my magic tv box recorder thingy has somehow accumulated 42 hours of stuff for me to watch! Mind you, at least 33 hours of that is QVC’s “Gems Galore” and “Botanical Beauty” outputage so I can see my credit card taking a major hit at some point.

Culture-wise, I went to see that new “Sex And The City” movie the other day and OMG is it LONNGGG. Then I realised it’s a film about women talking so… mystery solved. It was okay I suppose although I didn’t quite buy in to Sarah Jessica Parker’s extreme over-reaction at being “jilted” at the altar. If she’d paused for even a second to let her fiancé get a word in edgewise (aye, right!) she’d have discovered that Mr Big was on his way back to the wedding ceremony and the whole film would’ve been done in half an hour. Then again, if she was thrashing him over the head with flowers for being the worst actor in the world, that I can understand.

If you hadn’t just gotten yourself engaged recently Dave and were still the young gay blade around town I remember so fondly, you could so totally score big by attending a screening. Or seven. No kidding, when the credits rolled and the lights went up, the target demographic for this film had long since devoured their Ben & Jerry’s and were already scanning the theatre, hungry for a little extra “candy” on which to gobble. Discretion (and exhaustion) prevents me from revealing more but let’s just say it’s been a while now since I’ve had to use the phrase, “Ladies, form an orderly queue.”

Elsewhere on the culture front, I’m still trying to finish a football book that Blousie gave me called “The Damned United” which is all about Brian Clough and Leeds United. I thought I’d be done with it by now in order to pass it on to you but although I’m enjoying the story, the writing style’s a bit annoying and there are far less pop-up pictures and places to paste in my Panini stickers than I expected. After that, I’ve got the new Bill Bryson book “Shakespeare” to review for Lesley and before you know it, it’ll be time to stock up on comics for my holidays.

Music-wise, I’m going through the incontinent pants like there’s no tomorrow because… OMG, OMG, OMG, OMG, OMG, OMG… it’s only TEN MORE DAYS till I go and see The Police in Manchester. I’ll try and stay composed (and dry) enough next week to give you a little more background and trivia about this 30-year obsession but I can feel a bowel movement coming on just now so I’ll just say have a great weekend Dave and catch up soon.

Cheers, Edge

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Inner Peace*

I’m passing this on because it definitely worked for me and we all could use more calm in our lives. By following this simple advice I heard on a medical TV show ('Doctor Who' I think it was) I have finally found inner peace. Some “expert” proclaimed the way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you’ve started. So I looked round the house to find things I'd started but hadn't finished and, before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of shhhardonay, a bodle of Baileys, a butle of vocka, a pockage of Prunglies, tha mainder of bot Prozic and Valum scriptins, the res of the Chesescke an a box a chocolets. Yu haf no idr who fkin gud I fel. Peas sen dis orn to dem yu fee AR in ned ov inr pece.

Tommy Thompson