I recently treated myself to the download version of SERIF MOVIE-PLUS (well, I'm already a keen fan of all their OTHER products, so it was only a matter of time before I completed the set!).

The only way to explore the possibilities of a "NEW TOY" is to PLAY! PLAY! PLAY! It's what Saturday afternoons are for, for flip's sake...

I have to say, I'm already impressed, if not a little smitten. I've never really seriously caught the video bug for a number of reasons. Previous experience showed me that video editing eats up an awful lot of computer memory. I just never had the "brain power" to do anything useful or interesting before the pooter ground to a standstill. Secondly, one needed so many different pieces of software to deal with and convert between all the different video formats. Not to mention all those codecs to think about. It's a headache. One gets so swamped by the process involved that you forget to have any actual IDEAS. Nah... I leave all that kind of thing to our chums at the ODD POP concern. They seem to know what they're doing...

Until now... I immediately found Serif's little baby to be a doddle to use and it's easy on the hardware. It handles all the different formats with ease and does all the converting for you. When something is that user-friendly, you can start to have FUN with it, instead of getting bogged down in the technicalities. This is true of all of Serif's products (if this doesn't get me some freebies, I don't know what will!)

So I've been enjoying the process of turning CC's webcam recitals into full-blown arty videos, laying the results over the CC:PP versions of the tracks. The two videos here feature the "secret bonus" tracks on the first CC:PP "album", available as a digital download from my BANDCAMP site.

"SHADOWS OF PARADISE" - Whadya reckon? Have I been watching too much "Twin Peaks" lately?

"STRAIGHT NO CHASER" - Film Noir with maybe a touch of Man Ray...?


When We Wuz Fab...

A BIT OF NOSTALGIA FOR THE OLD FOLKS... All of this running a website lark is nothing new to me, no sirree bob... Why! WE were doing this sort of thing back in the days when we all thought that M****soft Internet Explorer 5 and a dial-up modem made for a cutting-edge browsing experience.

Sometime around the turn of the century, twenty years on from what most would consider to be the 'heyday' of JOHNSON'S GRIDLING BAND activity, and several years before NewsKorps decided that the best way to read The Times would be to pay to squint at it on a telly, we decided to do our regularly ongoing, photocopied-to-order fanzine-cum-art-publication "THE GRIDLER" as a proper grown up website instead. THE FUTURE OF ROCK & ROLL, we decided, was now going to be CYBERNETIC!

There could now be colour! There could now be sound and movement! There were countless reviews of WOMAD festivals! And pictures of Land Rovers! Whooooo!

In the words of Marty DiBergi, "Don't look for it, it's not there anymore...". Luckily, I just happened to have preserved all the old pages on a CD-ROM, so I can at least share with you these screenshots. This is what home-made websites looked like in the days before MySpace existed and EVERYBODY got in on the act! Though I do say so myself, they look rather nicely designed, considering all I had to work with in the beginning was Front Page Xpress and Corel Draw (Who would have thought we'd be thinking of the early-Noughties as 'the old days'?)

Come on, own up... how many of you tried to use the scroll bars or click on the links in those screenshots?


Haisai Ojisan!

This is based on a piece that first appeared on "The Gridler" website, way back at the turn of the century...

"Okinawa! where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain..." So how is it that a group of little islands south of Japan has produced some of the finest shit-kickin', country-soundin' music this side of Mumblin' Jack Unitroba? Probably because the local instrument of choice is the sanshin (similar to the Japanese samishen) which aurally bears an uncanny resemblance to the banjo, there is a definite "down-home" quality to the music which has caught the ears of such ornery pluckers as Bob Brozman and Ry Cooder.

Ry himself described the scene at a typical bar where

"you might hear a small shamisen (sic) and percussion combo working in a ka-chunk ka-chunk feel, while the old folks do a dance that looks like cattle egrets walking through mud. The women sing the ballads and they get a high lonesome Appalachian sound, like Mother Maybelle Carter in great pain – very soulful and pitiful…"

Hmm, I wonder what Mother Maybelle Carter walking through mud would sound like? Now I'm no expert, ah jes' know what ah lahk... so here are some names to look out for on the katcharsee scene...

We had the pleasure of catching NENES at WOMAD a few years ago - "High lonesome sound" indeed! Backed by a band that combined sanshins and pedal steels for that definitive "Nashville East of Java" sound, these four lovelies serenaded us with beautiful harmonies for a hot Sunday afternoon in Berkshire, dressed in traditional dress and swaying in unison like the Ikettes at a tea house. I've since learned that the national costume bit is strictly for the Tokyo and western audiences who seem to go for that sort of thing – back home at their own bar in Okinawa City, they are more likely to be seen waiting tables in denims and trainies. I also learned that they were 'manufactured', Spice Girls-style, by svengali-esque producer Sadao China (pronounced 'cheena') who wanted to gather together the cream of Okinawa's trad singers to form the ultimate girl group. Don't let that put you off though... I've only ever seen their CDs available at festivals, living, as I do, out in the burbs where record shops have problems with this sort of thing - Globestyle released an album ("Akemodoro Unai" which is fabulous... and fairly representative of their anthemic sound), otherwise their back catalogue is sold at inflated Japanese import-type prices... Their disembodied voices can be heard, in a very different context, on Talvin Singh's award-winning "OK" album of a few years back.

I simply must recommend SHOUKICHI KINA… Look for his "Best Of…" CD on Luaka Bop (Yes! Them again!), the best tenner I've spent at a record fair in many a year. Subtitled "Peppermint Tea House", it features most of his hits with his band Champloose, some dating back to the sixties, the infuriatingly catchy "Jing Jing", as well as some of his collaborations with Ry Cooder and various Paris musos. "Them's that's heard it" also recommend his "Celebration Live" album from 1983. "Kina's unique reggae-garage-surf-boogie has made him an Okinawan revolutionary folk hero over the last twenty years"… all set to a gridloid floppy boot stomp! So-called 'traditional' music never sounded so joyous... Richard Thompson, John French, Fred Frith and Henry Kaiser had a crack at their anthem "Haisai Ojisan" on one of their strange CDs.

Talking of "Jing Jing" (or "Jin Jin" meaning 'Firefly'), seek out the (back to basics) version on the first CD featuring Kina sidekick TAKASHI HIRAYASU with the aforementioned Bob Brozman... they were another rockin' teenage combo who thrilled us over a WOMAD weekend… earthy, spontaneous acoustic music at its best, but with a sense of FUN! The second CD features Takashi's own (even more Western-sounding) songs... the accordion player from Los Lobos appears on a couple of tunes, giving the disc more of a "San Antonio East of Java" sound!

Rinken Teruya, leader of RINKENBAND, is a close compatriot of Shoukichi Kina – their fathers had played together too, a mixture of Okinawan sounds and Perez Prado hits to appeal to the locally based US servicemen*. Rinkenband recorded an EP of sorts with our old chums 3 Mustaphas 3 - the circle closes!.

(*Did I ever mention the tape of "Ilocano Songs" I once found in the charity shop bargain bin? Thinking I might have stumbled across the latest World Music sensation, I found, upon first hearing, that it featured sub-Jim Reeves country-esque ballads, rendered in the indigenous dialect of the Philippines and accompanied by the cheesiest of club organs with inbuilt drum box! They probably think they have invented the perfect music to appeal to US servicemen – they are probably right!).

SHANG SHANG TYPHOON led by Yokohama's Kohryu, are not strictly speaking an Okinawan band at all, but a Japanese band who perform in the popular 'Okinawan' style. Fronted by The Sunflower Sisters, theirs is a more poppy blend of styles – the rhythm section is clearly at home in jazz and rock styles – but the "roots" are still there. Kohryu says the real sanshin was too difficult to play so, instead, he put sanshin strings on a banjo, to achieve the same effect! Truly thou art a gridler, Kohryu! I dig your style!

AN CHANG PROJECT are not really an Okinawan operation either, hailing as they do from Kyoto, but their "Monkey Harmonising Songs" features much repertoire from Okinawa (as well as Kiribati, Yonaguni and numerous other Pacific locales), so I mention it here simply because it is sort of appropriate... and gorgeous. Okinawa's vocal groups usually sing in unison, but An Chang have introduced harmonic intervals which suggest they have been influenced by Bulgarian choral music and West African Griots... Very plaintive, with sanshins plunking well to the fore... and if the hairs on the back of your neck are not fully erect by track 17, then there's some Fripp-soundalike electric guitar just to make sure! They played in London at the Barbican's 'Urban Beats' festival... anyone out there see 'em?

I'm sure there are loads of others I haven't mentioned, but that's mainly 'cause I haven't heard 'em yet!

STOP PRESS... Since I started writing this page, those good people at World Music Network released their own "ROUGH GUIDE TO THE MUSIC OF OKINAWA" on budget priced seedy disc... if you're only thinking of buying ONE Okinawan CD (an unlikely scenario), then this would be a good start! It's compiled by, and has copious sleevenotes by Paul Fisher, to whom we should all give praises, as he almost single-handedly made so much of this product accessible in the west - he runs the Jap-import company Far Side, as well as writing about all manner of Oriental sounds for The Rough Guides and Folk Roots (I believe we have to call it Froots these days.. Ed), demonstrating considerably more knowledge and depth than the flippant, ill-informed shallow style that I can usually muster!

The CD is so jam-packed with goodies, that to single out any individual tunes would be futile... so I will.

I can highly recommend the track by SHISARS (not just because there is a connection with An-Chang Project and because it features clarinet by Watura Ohkuma of CICALA MVTA, the wacky and fantastic Tokyo-based street band - imagine the 3 Mustaphas 3 jamming with "Hot Rats"-period Zappa!), the Okinawan Trance Music of SARABANDGE, the dub fusion of RYUKYU UNDERGROUND (even though it is mainly the work of a couple of English ex-pats) and the surf-bop stylings of THE SURF CHAMPLERS (yet another pseudonym for Kenji Yano of Sarabandge), of whom I would like to hear LOTS more!

It is not the place of this web-thingy to provide free advertising space to the world's CD manufacturing industry, but I guarantee that, if you purchase this volume (plus maybe its companion disc, "THE ROUGH GUIDE TO THE MUSIC OF JAPAN") you will derive hours of enjoyment from the oriental nutty boys (and gals) therein.


It Was Forty Years Ago Today...

Just Another Gratuitous List Thing

It cannot have escaped your notice that, this year, a lot of (surviving) 1970s artists are celebrating FORTY YEARS since their greatest achievements - for example, I'll be seeing JETHRO TULL (well, some of them) recreate the whole of "THICK AS A BRICK" onstage in May...

1972... hmm, I would have been a spotty be-greatcoated fourteen year old, just starting to discover that there WAS music beyond the weekly singles charts and 'Family Favourites'.

Most of the inmates of my Secondary Modern Boys School were, in the parlance of the day, 'INTO' either Slade or T. Rex (but very rarely both). I was slowly becoming aware of the likes of Genesis, Yes and ELP and - for better or worse - there was no turning back for myself and a small band of like-minded individuals!

I'd be lying if I was to claim that I had any knowledge of most of these albums at the time, but many of them have found their way into my collection since. An equal number of them I STILL wouldn't give the time of day! But it's hard to take in that all the albums on this list (and many more besides) were all originally released within a single twelvemonth period. In conclusion then, 1972 was a cracking year for the pop music. There must have been something in the water.

(NB, this list omits to mention The Osmonds or David Cassidy for some reason)

Agitation Free 'Malesch'
Älgarnas Trädgård 'Framtiden är ett Svävande Skepp, Förankrat i Forntiden'
Alice Cooper 'School's Out'
Allman Brothers Band 'Eat a Peach'
Amazing Blondel 'England'
Arthur Lee 'Vindicator'
Banco del Mutuo Soccorso 'Banco del Mutuo Soccorso'
The Band 'Rock of Ages'
Big Star '#1 Record'
Bo Hansson 'The Magician's Hat'
Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band 'Let's Make Up and Be Friendly'
Budgie 'Squawk'
Can 'Ege Bamyasi'
Captain Beefheart 'Clear Spot'
Caravan 'Waterloo Lily'
Cluster 'Cluster II'
CSNY 'Four Way Street'
Curtis Mayfield 'Superfly'
Curved Air 'Phantasmagoria'
David Bowie 'The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars'
Deep Purple 'Machine Head'
Elton John 'Honky Chateau'
Emerson Lake & Palmer 'Trilogy'
The Faces 'A Nod's As Good As A Wink...'
Family 'Bandstand'
Faust 'So Far'
Flash 'Flash'
Focus 'Focus 3'
Frank Zappa 'Grand Wazoo'/'Waka-Jawaka'/'Just Another Band From LA'
Genesis 'Foxtrot'
Gentle Giant 'Three Friends'
Grateful Dead 'Europe'72'
Groundhogs 'Who Will Save The World?'
Hawkwind 'Doremi Fasol Latido'
Herbie Hancock 'Crossings'
Jackson Browne '[Saturate Before Using]'
Jan Akkerman 'Profile'
Jerry Garcia 'Garcia'
Jethro Tull 'Thick as a Brick'
Kevin Ayers 'Whatershebringwesing'
King Crimson 'Earthbound'
Klaus Schulze 'Irrlicht'
Kraftwerk 'Kraftwerk 2'
Little Feat 'Sailin Shoes'
Lou Reed 'Transformer'
Mike Westbrook 'Solid Gold Cadillac'
Miles Davis 'On the Corner'
Mott the Hoople 'All the Young Dudes'
Neil Young 'Harvest'
Neu! 'Neu!'
Nick Drake 'Pink Moon'
Paul Simon 'Paul Simon'
Pink Floyd 'Obscured By Clouds'
Popol Vuh 'Hosianna Mantra'
Premiata Forneria Marconi 'Storia di un minuto'
Randy Newman 'Sail Away'
Renaissance 'Prologue'
Richard Thompson 'Henry The Human Fly'
Rod Stewart 'Never a Dull Moment'
Rolling Stones 'Exile on Main Street'
Roxy Music 'Roxy Music'
Santana 'Caravanserai'
Slade 'Slade Alive'
Soft Machine 'Fifth'
Steely Dan 'Can't Buy a Thrill'
Stevie Wonder 'Talking Book'
Sun Ra 'Space Is The Place'
T. Rex 'The Slider'
Thijs van Leer 'Introspection'
Todd Rundgren 'Something/Anything?'
Uriah Heep 'Demons & Wizards'
Van Morrison 'Saint Dominic's Preview'
Various Artists 'The Harder They Come'
Weather Report 'I Sing The Body Electric'
Wishbone Ash 'Argus'
Yes 'Close to the Edge'
etc... etc... etc... etc...

Pick O' The Year 2011

First published on MySpace and LiveJournal blogs - 04/12/11

Best new albums of the last twelvemonth...
In any other year, that "King Crimson ProjeKCt" by JAKKO, FRIPP & COLLINS (AND Levin AND Harrison...) would surely have zoomed straight to the top of the list. That's probably as close as we're EVER going to get to a NEW KING CRIMSON ALBUM from hereon. Indeed, any one of those 'also rans' listed below might have been contenders. But not this time around. This has been a jamboree year for surprising new discoveries and the return of some old favourites... so in no particular order 'THE FOUR TOPS' are:-

Matt Berry - "Witchazel" - (Acid Jazz)

I have Stuart Maconie's BBC 6Music show "THE FREAK ZONE" for drawing my attention to THIS little gem (as well as much else). It transpires that not only is MATT BERRY a fine comedy actor, he just also happens to be a multi-talented musician of excellent taste. Makes yer sick, don't it?

Like THE BEES' albums of previous years, I instantly loved this album PRECISELY because it contains all the music of my misspelt youth rolled into one delicious package! This is a gentleman who has STUDIED and ABSORBED the nineteen-seventies. There is a goodly dollop of PASTORAL PROG - I particularly hear shades of CARAVAN, SUPERSISTER and a couple of Italian bands of note, plus the kind of orchestral arrangements to be found on some of KEVIN AYERS' early work. He surely has a working knowledge of the music of STACKRIDGE and PETER SINFIELD's "Still" album. Add a dash of "Psychedelic Folk" (Mr Berry has himself name-checked the band FOREST, although I'm not personally familiar with their particular oeuvre). Stir in a lot of TODD RUNDGREN-inspired one-man-band multi-track wizardry and... you end up with an album that has elements of ALL THE ABOVE and yet, strangely, sounds like NONE OF THEM (or indeed much like anything else really!). Oh, and there's also a PAUL McCARTNEY impersonation thrown in for good measure.

Someone else called him an English SUFJAN STEVENS...?

I'm not sure how an album like this ended up on ACID JAZZ records though. That's probably the biggest mystery of all. JTQ or SNOWBOY it ain't!

Listen to tracks here

Minus Points: While I can't fault this album in any way MUSICALLY, my one gripe must be with the lamentable state of MUSIC RETAIL in this country, or at least in this part of it. I would like to be able to say that I've been enjoying this in the super-hi-fi quality edition it so richly deserves... but, no... until that chance encounter in a far flung record emporium somewhere, I had to buy this as a download from iTunes. Nearby branches of HMV, the nearest thing we now have to a proper "music" shop on any High Street, don't stock it. Not Good Enough. The fact that this album makes the top of my list DESPITE these audio shortcomings probably speaks volumes about just what a quality piece of work it is. I still have one eye open for a PROPER shiny round copy. I'll happily pay money for it a second time...

Addendum: Now that I've found my very own shiny shiny copy of this little gem (Hoorah!), with proper sleeve notes and everything, I've now found out that it is in fact the REAL Paul McCartney and not an impersonation! The CD packaging is hilarious, by the way.

Steven Wilson - "Grace For Drowning" - (K-Scope)

...now THIS is an object lesson in how to produce (and present) MUSIC FOR HI-FI... Porcupine Tree's albums are always such LOVELY THINGS, with Lasse Hoile's artwork carried through the whole package like a corporate identity. A reminder of things as they once were, when buying a 'record' meant you looked forward to lovingly fondling an actual TACTILE OBJECT in your hands. And that's BEFORE you get to the music inside... Downloads might be convenient, but they make you feel cheap!

Steven's first 'solo' release "INSURGENTES" (which I also bought recently in a deluxe box) still to these ears had 'the Porcupine Tree sound'. In between then and now, Mr Wilson has spent an awful lot of his time delving DEEP into seventies prog, having overseen the superdooper surround sound remastering of all the earlier KING CRIMSON albums.

It sounds like he picked up a trick or two. There was always that 'influence' in his work, but this is a "SOUNDS OF THE SEVENTIES" album. From the very opening bars - which are sonically reminiscent of "Lizard" or "Islands" or maybe something off a PFM album - we are plunged headlong into a sort of PROG FUN PARK; those little filigrees of real (rather than synthetic) orchestral instruments; the use of SPACE in the mix (here's a man who hears everything in 3D!); the incredible DYNAMIC range (the loud bits are really loud, the quiet bits are really quiet); vintage instruments (or at least REALLY good digital facsimiles thereof) and the touches of JAZZ (that sounds like a real Fender Rhodes... ooh, there goes THEO TRAVIS)... and BIG BIG ANTHEMIC THEMES.

Some thanks for this must be due to the involvement of DAVE STEWART (the Canterbury one, not the Eurythmic) who helped out with some of the arrangements. REAL choirs, REAL strings... Only the Floyd themselves lavished this kind of sonic care and attention on their work. It just SOUNDS so good.

Lovers of Porcupine Tree will lap this up, but this album shows signs that his "solo" work deserves to be heard by others. At least K-Scope have done a good job of getting their stuff into the High Street HMVs, so this is readily available! With a Blackberry full of stellar names he can call on, and with three or more side projects always on the go, you never know what he'll come up with next.

Minus Points: It seems to be over FAR too quickly! Ah well, I suppose I can always put it back on again!

Yes - "Fly From Here" - (Frontier)

Hoorah! The return of the YEGGLES! I would like to think I've stuck with YES through thick and thin, but they HAVE tried my patience once or twice in the last forty years! I mean, have you EVER listened all the way through "Union" or "Open Your Eyes" in one sitting? Do you ever listen to "Talk" AT ALL?

All those years of glossy West-Coast AOR and embarrassingly substandard and twee Andersongs, until they were finally left coasting along in the role of THEIR OWN TRIBUTE BAND, left me convinced that they would never again make a LISTENABLE album, let alone a good one.

But now they have reunited with the best studio boffin they ever had (sorry, Eddy Offord) and the best keyboard player they ever had (sorry, Rick Wakeman) and it's 1980 all over again!

One could question whether this is a "new" album, since so much of it was written thirty-odd years ago ("We Can Fly From Here" was performed live on the "Drama" tour; other themes appeared on The Buggles' "Adventures In Modern Recording" album of similar vintage) - but that is A GOOD THING in this Mintiverse. Who wants to hear MODERN music on a Yes album anyway?

And I am going to stick my neck out and alienate an entire population of Yes fans by saying that BENOÎT DAVID's voice is much easier on the ear than JON ANDERSON's ever was (in fact, he sounds a lot like TREVOR HORN ...hmm, funny that...).

The Horn magic is still there; the lyrics - and who ever listens to THOSE on a Yes album? - make some sort of sense for once; Geoff Downes comes up with some of his best work since before Asia; old hands Alan White and Chris Squire actually sound like they're enjoying it all; Steve Howe sounds astonishingly like his youthful self, even if he doesn't look it. In short, the first EMBARRASSMENT-FREE Yes album for over thirty years!

Listen to tracks here

Minus Points: The VIDEO for "We Can Fly From Here" itself is absolute pants. But who's ever going to watch that? Judging by the band photos in the booklet, their dress sense hasn't improved much over the years either. Remember, these are men for whom corduroy slacks, kaftans with furry boots or the dreaded socks 'n' sandals combination are considered acceptable stage-wear, so they are probably beyond redemption :-)

Anoushka Shankar - "Traveller" - (Deutsche Grammophon)

In which the divine Ms Shankar explores the musical connections between the classical tradition of the Indian subcontinent and the Flamenco stylings of the Iberian peninsular.

You'd think, on paper, that it shouldn't work, until you actually hear the flamenco dancers trade intricate patterns with the ghatam, and the vocal-like sitar melodies soaring over the Spanish guitars... and then it seems THE MOST NATURAL THING and you wonder why nobody had thought of it before (apart from maybe John McLaughlin...). Above all, it has lots of toe-tapping riddims and heart-wrenching melodies to win you over!

It's a truly delightful piece of 'World Music' 'fusion' that doesn't sound at all CONTRIVED, as these things so VERY often do. I speak as one who has endured years of hearing Swedish fiddle players trying to blend with Senegalese koras, while the Chinese flute plays an Irish jig over the sampled tabla coming out of the laptop. With rapping. 'CONTRIVED', I tells ya!

But Anoushka has her father's innate GOOD TASTE and she never fails to surprise. When she signed for the classical label Deutsche Grammophon, who'd have thought she'd come up with something like this? It's as far from her 'classical' repertoire as it is from her 'pop' album with Karsh Kale or the Shakti-like jazz fusion of her album "Rise" (each, in their own way, full of EQUALLY wonderful moments, it goes without saying!)

Listen to tracks here

Minus Points: None that I can think of... Gorgeous!

Also worth mentioning:
Jakko, Fripp & Collins - "A Scarcity of Miracles" - (DGM)
Michael Bernier - "Leviathan" - (Bandcamp download)
Syntony - "White Fly" - (Bandcamp download)

Reissues & Back-catalogue

King Crimson - "Starless & Bible Black" - (DGM)

This year's release in the increasingly inaccurately entitled "40th ANNIVERSARY SERIES" is this classic from 1974, another personal favourite (let's see now... how many times have I bought this one?).

There was speculation about how good a job STEVEN WILSON would be ABLE to do with the masters, given that a large portion of this album was originally gleaned from live tapes, but I for one was not disappointed. Even in PCM Stereo (I don't have the magical 5.1 surround sound) it's as if they are there in the room with you - a pretty scary prospect, if you've ever heard the 1973 KCrims in full-on live thrak'n'werrrn action! Best appreciated with the lights off. Bill Bruford's crisp drums (he was always the best SOUNDING drummer on record) and John Wetton's seismic Fender bass especially sound awesome in this edition.

I would once again single out "THE NIGHT WATCH" as a personal favourite - Robert Fripp's small but perfectly formed solo never fails to make the hairs on the back of my neck do handstands. But I also find myself listening to the improv-derived pieces (the real meat of the album) with fresh ears. The extra sensory perception at play when these guys stood on stage (or rather, in certain cases, sat on a stool!) and MADE IT ALL UP ON THE SPOT was never less than astounding. No wonder audiences hearing them for the first time thought they were playing COMPOSED music.

Only HENRY COW came close to doing anything like this in ROCK (as opposed to 'jazz' or 'jazz-rock' or 'fusion' or what have you). A bit of CONTEXT: this was a time when "improvisation" in rock usually meant jamming on a twelve-bar blues riff for fifteen minutes. There's certainly none of THAT here.

What David Cross does on mellotron or electric piano (when he's not playing that gorgeous violin) is always so RIGHT for the moment. I am reminded of Fripp's suggestion that the sound he was after in King Crimson was "Bela Bartok Played By Jimi Hendrix". This is ELECTRIC CHAMBER MUSIC.

Minus Points: A tiny quibbelette, but none of the 'bonus' material is previously unheard - it has all appeared on earlier DGM Club releases (CD and/or download) or in "The Great Deceiver" box set and retains a b***leg audio quality even in this edition. Nice to have a decent copy of that Central Park video though!

Highly Educational Video (IMPACT)

First published on MySpace blog - 28/04/11

Those clever chaps at Gosport's leading purveyors of video entertainment, ODD POP bring you these enlightening "IMPACT" episodes, presented by noted thespian JOHN BOUTIQUE.

Firstlymost, enjoy this rare insight into the fascinating world of the Victorian music hall tradition:-

Followed by this, a glimpse at the early days of manned aviation:-

Excellent! I think I learned more about aviation history from that than I EVER did as an air cadet!... nice to see that Shelfy and Binky are still alive and doing good daftstuff, even though they've been, to all intents and purposes, absent from MySpaceLand for the last few months! Ah, but there ARE currently signs of life over at the MR HAIR page...

Resurrection Phaze II

First published on MySpace blog - 15/11/10
I've just posted a new tune on the player... "RESURRECTION SHOEFUL", it's called. For now. It's yet another "WORK IN PROGRESS" in progress! I'm not sure what'll happen to it yet, but it's got a strange, mutated "drum 'n' bass" tango-via-The Military Two-Step vibe which has SOMETHING going for it, so I thought it might be worth sharing. I've probably listened to way too much Squarepusher lately! Given that my asymmetrical brain isn't attuned to 4:4 dance music, and allowing for my level of musical naïveté, any attempt to emulate (or even send up?) a musical genre usually results in my coming up with something entirely my own by accident. And I wouldn't have it any other way. It sure doesn't sound like any "drum 'n' bass" that I've come across. Do we even call it that anymore? I'm old, what would I know? I know, I'll call it "MINTCORE" and hope it catches on. Or "MINTSTEP"? Our Shelfy will probably hate it, because it's got a lot of cymbals on it! "...but it's jazz. Jazz is like that..."

First published on MySpace blog - 20/04/11

So now, having undergone all manner of further sampling, stretching, warping - generally going through the MINTzer, in fact! - the piece with the working title of "RESURRECTION SHOEFUL" now sounds like this; a seventeen-or-so-minute-long TONE POEM, being of a somewhat sombre and spooky nature. Don't have nightmares!

Resurrection Phaze II by Pedantic Pedestrian

Counting Down (w/ JFC&LH video)

First published on MySpace blog - 11/04/11

I'm counting down the days till this album arrives on my doorstep, courtesy of the good folks at BURNING SHED.

Jakko Jakszyk / Robert Fripp / Mel Collins
A Scarcity Of Miracles - A King Crimson ProjeKct
featuring Tony Levin & Gavin Harrison

Just a little taster to whet your curiosity!

Turkish Video Nasties

First published on MySpace blog - 22/01/11

So Mr Brass Sturgeon... you want to play the old "Who Can Dig Up The Most Obscure Video Clips With Which To Titillate The General Public?" ploy, do you?

This is excruciatingly horrible, but of immense historical significance as the inspiration for a certain Johnson's Gridling Band skit... Turkey's understandably "Nul Points"-scoring entry from the 1983 Eurovision Song Contest (and possibly a very early namecheck for one of the world's leading internet browsers?).

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the late, great(?) Çetin Alp & The Short Waves with (altogether now!) "Opera! Opera! Opera!"

This also scored zero points for Turkey in 1987. Why? It's tuneful, it's memorable (something you can't say about most Eurovision fodder) and it's got a fantastic 'oriental' riff! Perhaps it was a little too soon for Eurovision voters to appreciate that new-fangled 'World Music' genre the rest of us were just getting into at the time? I think I still have this tune on my MP3 player.

Sing along with Seyyal Taner & Locomotif!

Pick O' The Year 2010

First published on MySpace and LiveJournal blogs - 10/11/10

Yes, Winter drawers on! It's that time of the year when we consider THE FRESH MUSICAL NUGGETS thrust beneath our eager noses in the last twelvemonth and then list those which have brought us the most continuous pleasure.

CDs of 2010

Robert Plant - “Band of Joy” (Esparanza)
In which Percy continues to re-invent Nashville, following his genre-smashing outing with Alison Krauss. It doesn't QUITE have the spooky 'otherness' of T-Bone Burnett's production on “Raising Sand” (although it comes pretty damn close in places), but Buddy Miller conjures up a nice line in Richard Thompson-like vintage-rootsy-twanginess. Another Grammy Nomination? Most probably!

The Orb featuring David Gilmour - “Metallic Spheres” (Columbia)
Does exactly what it says on the tin - An Orb album with Dave Gilmour in the 'Guitar Atmospherics' chair previously occupied by the likes of Steve Hillage or Robert Fripp. Orbfans will not be disappointed, but just don't go expecting “Another Brick In The Bleedin' Wall”!

Travis & Fripp - “Live at Coventry Cathedral” (DGM/Panegyric)
A fairly representative selection from Bobby and Theo's (ongoing) string of churchy dates - Not the best gig, but a good start for the merely curious. For me, this music serves the same function (and conjures similar atmospheres) as Jan Garbarek's church recordings with The Hilliard Ensemble. Those with a head for THIS SORT OF THING will want to proceed swiftly to DGMLive to download some other gigs in the series. Others with shorter attention spans and less of an ear for nuance might share the view of this gentleman.

Reissues & Back Catalogue

King Crimson - “Islands” (DGM/Panegyric)
My musical life comes full circle - This was the first KCrim album I ever had played at me in the fifth-form lunchroom, so I've always had a soft spot for it. But I was also aware of its shortcomings as a production. To hear it dragged screaming into the 21st Century in this new form is nothing short of a revelation (even with my decidedly non-5.1 'funny ears'). It has also given me a new appreciation of this particular 'jazz-rock' phase of KCrimHistory, and I've been systematically 'studying' the various 1971-72 live dates from the DGM concern.

King Crimson - “Live in Chicago 1995”
Peter Sinfield - “Still”
Emerson Lake & Palmer - “Works (Volumes 1 & 2)”

Live Concerts

None. It is now such an expensive and complicated process to attend concerts and (especially) festivals in this country, that I have to all intents and purposes OFFICIALLY RETIRED from live events. They have lost their appeal. Most venues are either too large and acoustically tiresome (arenas) or too small and boisterous (pubs and clubs) for musical appreciation to be possible. The few bands I would still like to see choose not to tour the UK. The only concert ticket I bought this whole year was for Tom Zé at the “Festival Brasil” in London. And that show was cancelled. I have instead found a new appreciation for free community events like the Southampton Mela and other such multi-cultural 'picnics in the park'.

Speaking of 'multi-cultural' (gratuitous video link)...

Nick 'n' Bob

First published on MySpace blog - 16/08/10

I'm not, by any stretch of the imagination, a huge NICK CAVE fan - but this obviously couldn't fail to grab me. Apparently, Robert was asked to "play something in the style of 'Baby's On Fire'..." Hmm, yes please! See what YOU think! This will be the B-Side of the new GRINDERMAN single, due out on the 6th September.

Grinderman - Super Heathen Child (with Robert Fripp) by MuteRecords

Gentle Giant video

First published on MySpace blog - 09/08/10

Fancy a bit of the Giant? I think I've posted the "Funny Ways" vid before. But from the same show (footage of Portsmouth's finest originally shot on 16mm film), here's the version of "Proclamation" that precedes it. Hoorah!


First published on MySpace - 25/07/10
The piece of music mentioned here is no longer 'out there', but this post tells you something about my working methods, so I thought it worth preserving...

New piece on the player: "APRES-MIDI (FAKING THE J-WORD)"

I write this in anticipation of the inevitable question, "IS THAT YOU PLAYING THE PIANO?"...

No. In fact, there was no 'playing' involved. It's not even a real piano.

Instead, there was a mysterious trial and error process, largely involving the typing-in of various numbers representing 'parameter values'.

The resulting MIDI data was then channeled to the set of Roland Sound Canvas 'instruments' that live on the Wavetable Synthesiser chip inside even the lowliest of PC sound cards.

A sort of 'fractal' approach to generative music, producing a result that is almost, but not entirely unlike, that 'free jazz' malarkey.

I have also been using this approach to produce the music to accompany some of Shelfy's "BLUE WAILS ON BLIT STREET" recitations. No doubt, you will get to hear that soon.

Southampton Mela

First published on MySpace blog - 19/07/10

Just come back from a wonderful few hours at the SOUTHAMPTON MELA FESTIVAL, featuring some absolutely stunning music (Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali; Musicians of Rajasthan; Keith Waithe's Beyond Horizon etc etc). But I guess 'the man of the match' was SANDEEP RAVAL, who played with at least four different bands during the course of the day! His own band is superb, as you will see from this little 'show reel':-

Lasso Dub

First published on MySpace blog - 24/06/10

Hey! where's the 'Lyrics' button gone from the music player? Ah well! I'll just have to give you the 'sleevenotes' here instead...

There's a new tune on the MySpace player.

"LASSO DUB" started out as a throwaway little number a couple of Christmases ago (some of you might remember it?). EVIL DEMENTED BUNNY had sent me a recording of herself singing an old country song, "I'm Gonna Lasso Santa Claus". I wrapped it in all sorts of strange Minty noises, as is my wont, and there it sat on the player for a couple of weeks over Christmas. A mere novelty trinket.

But I always had an inkling that there could be more to it than that. Some of the rhythmic devices and samples were too good to waste. Everyone knows how I like to toss off the occasional DUB VERSION. It would be no trouble to strip the piece of its XMASSY REFERENCES and turn it into something altogether darker. In short, could I make it into something that we could enjoy throughout the rest of the year as well?

Well, could I? YOU decide, folks!


GONG video

First published on MySpace blog - 22/06/10

How could I resist this?
Me, I don't usually give two hoots about the promotional videos that yer new-fangled pop combos churn out... MTV? What's that when it's at home? But this one absolutely demands that it is enjoyed several times a day after every meal!

Tales From The Winged Eyeball

First published on MySpace and LiveJournal blogs - 11/06/10

Well now, thanks to those clever people at BANDCAMP.COM, Shelfy & Minty have made it possible for you to enjoy the entire "TALES FROM THE WINGED EYEBALL" album in glorious streamin' high-fidelity S-T-E-R-R-R-R-R-E-E-O-O in the privacy of your own head (It's A Freaky Trip On 'Phones!). If you really like it, then you can HAVE IT FOR NOTHING in any darn digital format that takes yer fancy! Well, I never.

Meanwhile, the resident player on the RABID SOW REJECT MySpace now features four more tracks that didn't quite make it onto the album. Rejects, if you will. Except they're not bad at all.


PS... Some of you may have been deterred from downloading this delightful product because you were previously asked for your contact details(e-mail address, postcode etc) before you did so. Just to let you know - THIS IS NO LONGER THE CASE! I've now un-checked the box for the e-mail option and you can download the zipfile directly. I've tried it. It works. Thank you for your patience XXX MINTY

Creature Feature

First published on MySpace blog - 22/05/10

"Oooh, little bit of politics, bit of satire, bit of string..."
Thanks to Bunny for finding this. Excellent!

Which kinda brings us to this...





First published on MySpace blog - 13/05/10

Well it's here! The latest mashup (mishap?) from PEDANTIC PEDESTRIAN vs THE CHRISTMAS TREES - "PPvXT2: BYTE SIGHS" - is now available for downloadin' over on the BANDCAMP.COM site. It's FREE - what's not to like? Or if that still doesn't persuade you that YOU MUST HAVE IT NOW, then you can listen to DE WHOOOOLE DAM' T'ING in dreamy, streamy, unfeasibly high fidelity by embedding the little player doobry on your own page... Invite all your friends and have a LISTENING PARTY!


It's a sort of follow-up to the montage-tastic "CHTHONIC BOOM". Most of the instrumental parts originated from sessions for the new Xmas Trees album proper, but they have been warped and twisted, resampled, resequenced and xenochronized, until their own mothers wouldn't recognise them! There are also vocal samples (some snippets of bad poetry, as recited by Sniltweasel, Shelfy and me...) dating back as long ago as 1984.

Thirty Second Love Song

First published on MySpace blog - 06/01/10

From deep in the bowels (oh, dear... don't mention bowels!)... from deep in the basement of the erstwhile GOSPORT FUN FACTORY, from the days before technology was invented, comes this delightful little Gridling recording of "30 Second Love Song" aka "Love Is Like A Moustache". I think there was a competition in a music magazine to write something thirty seconds long. As this was the early eighties, they were probably expecting something like Duran Duran. Instead they got a skiffle band. How out of touch were we? Anyhooooooo... Shelfy of RABBIT SHOW REJECT fame has done this nice little animation to go with it:-

Quoth the Shelfoid one: "The short fillum animation, which takes a while to start, is entitled '30 SECOND LOVE SONG'. The dull set tones are that of the world famous Minty pretending to be from Arizona. For the musical instrument buffs, I am playing a genuine plywood and wood filler faced classical guitar with regular steel strings. The guitar came out of a bin. Love, as they say, is like a moustache.."

I assure you there was nothing 'regular' about the strings on THAT guitar! I think there is another version of this tune somewhere featuring Yours Pedantically playing some rudimentary mandolin, and with some overdubbed hot spoons action... but I've forgotten which tape it's on at the moment!

What's YOUR Favourite Canal?

First published on MySpace blog - 28/12/09

A wee teaser for the forthcoming CHRISTMAS TREES album, which features sundry contributions from Yours Pedantically (as well as something called The Tin Piglet Jawa Cub Porkestra, whatever that is...)

When's it forthcoming? - Dunno.
What's it called? - Dunno.
Where can I get it? - Dunno. It's none of my business, go and ask the nice man!

Anyway, back to the 'wee teaser'... it takes the form of this video production from the ODD POP video production concern... Lots of nice pictures (some of them original) to accompany the groovy beat (gravy boat?) combo's latest catchy tune "What's Your Favourite Canal?". The video is also jamtuckered with fascinating and informative stuff about the Kennet & Avon Canal. Which may or may not be accurate. Somehow, I doubt it.


Pick O' The Year 2009

First published on MySpace blog - 07/12/09

This Year Oi'A'Bin Moostly Lis'nin' To...


Judy Dyble - "Talking With Strangers" (Brilliant/FiXiT CD)
THE First Lady of Psychedelic Folk-Rock returns! And, by all accounts, there's plenty more where this came from! Full review here on the blog.

Porcupine Tree
- "The Incident" (Roadrunner 2CD)
I have to confess I'm a bit of a latecomer to all things Tree (or "The Porkies", as their legions of fans almost certainly don't call them). I've been aware of their work in small doses over the years, but only recently have I started buying their reccerds. I'm still not sure if I understand what it's about, but I know I like it!

Crimson Jazz Trio -
"King Crimson Songbook Volume 2" (Inner Knot CD)
Another confession; as a start-to-finish Sunday morning listen, I actually prefer Volume 1 of the series. This one has a couple of those troublesome 'hit the skip button' drum solos that spoil the mood (No disrespect for the late great Ian Wallace intended - I just think that very few drum solos bear repeat listening). But it's still ruddy good stuff. And anyway, I bought them both at the same time...


Jakko M Jakszyk
- "The Bruised Romantic Glee Club" (Panegyric 2CD)
Given its troubled release history, I wasn't sure if this counts as a new album or a re-issue?! But for argument's sake... Full review here on the blog

King Crimson - "Red" (DGM/Panegyric CD+DVD)
Of course, I don't have the equipment (or enough ears) to know if the 5-channel Surround-O-Rama remixes are as good as folks say they are. But the stereo masters alone are a ten-fold improvement on previous editions, and thus worth the price of admission. And dig those crazy videos!

Tony Banks - "A Curious Feeling" (Esoteric CD)
At last, a proper release for the first and - let's be honest! - the ONLY really essential solo album from Anthony George. This album is as least as good as anything that the post-Gabriel Genesis produced on their own albums. If you liked the band when they had proper drums instead of Roland beatboxes, decent keyboard solos and fewer songs about divorce, then this is a must-have.


Gryphon - Queen Elizabeth Hall, London 06/06/09
Weeeell, there was no contest for THIS category this year... because this was the ONLY gig I attended (unless you count the freeby-in-the-park that was Portsmouth's Multi-cultural shindig. Which I evidently didn't.) Now that WOMAD is no longer a viable option as a short, concentrated burst of live eventing, and TicketMaster have taken the previously simple process of buying a ticket to astronomical heights of kerfufflitude (yes, you should read the fun I went through to get a ticket to this one!), "I DON'T GET OUT MUCH THESE DAYS...". Still, I wouldn't have missed THIS little function for the world. Read all about it here (page down to the 'review' link under "Gryphon Re-Union Gig") and in my own diary here

Now then... Let us look at what my friend SHELFY has been up to lately:

Pale Definitive video

First published on MySpace blog - 23/11/09

Here's a little piece of our history that has emerged from nowhere (via our chums at the ODD POP concern). It obviously originates from a time when I looked like Thurston Moore's chubbier brother or maybe a member of Buffalo Springfield (and Shelfy had a chin).

I have no recollection of this piece of "performance" whatsoever! It's shot at our old Vicarage. I wonder who was operating the camera? I DO remember making the tape of the "secret numbers" broadcast. Ah! those were the days - analogue radio noise was such a boon to the avantgarde experiMENTALIST! Therefore my audio tape dates this as 1986. And no, those dungarees were NOT pink!

Dervish Remixes

First published on MySpace blog - 13/10/09
Sorry folks, I don't think they're there anymore!

I have two remixes of Markus Reuter & Ian Boddy's track "Dervish" available for free download, here at the DiN Records website:- http://www.din.org.uk/dervish/

My tracks are the "Pedantic Pedestrian Wheelie-Bap Mix" and the "Dirging Whirlish Ambient Mix". Please check out the other remixes too, there's some really amazing versions there!

This Week Oi'A'Bin Moostly Lis'nin' To:-
Jakko M Jakszyk - "The Bruised Romantic Glee Club" (Panegyric CD)
Judy Dyble - "Talking With Strangers" (Brilliant/FIXIT CD)
King Crimson - "Live In Zurich 1973" (DGM Club CD)
Brian Eno - various Ambient works (7Digital downloads)

TV by TEARS (w/ videos)

First published on MySpace blog - 11/08/09

One of THE all-time great bands on the thriving Portsmouth scene (it says here), funky '80s pop funsters TV BY TEARS are celebrated in all their glory on this new MySpace profile.

Be a poppet for your Uncle Minty and add them to your friends! (They even allowed us lowly Gridlers to play with them, for gawd's sake!)  www.myspace.com/tvbytears ...and already they've added an "overflow" page, the little tinkers! www.myspace.com/moretvbytears ...as well a page for Mr RABBITHOLE SAM, who is responsible for setting all this campaign for world domination in motion:- www.myspace.com/rhsuk ...and yet another one featuring the latest artistic endeavours of the man himself, Mr MERVYN PURVISS:- www.myspace.com/427866662 ...plus one for Merv's more rockist tendencies, ABSOLUTE ZERO:- www.myspace.com/absolutezerotng. Obviously, all these pages are 'under construction' at the moment, but we are all furiously trawling through the archives for lots of exciting and fun-packed historical and biographical content, to be added shortly.

***** NEW VIDEO CLIPS *****
This was on the occasion when the four-piece TV BY TEARS reconvened to play some of their biggies at Merv's Fiftieth Birthday Bash last year (2008)...

...and going WAAAAAY back, to a time when everyone was young and thin and hairy and could move about a bit, this is umpteenth generation videotape from the AID FOR AFRICA Concert at Ferneham Hall (1985).

Skull Pagoda "Holocaust..." video

First published on MySpace blog - 10/08/09

... A new ODD POP video from the zany ART RATZ collective, represented on this occasion by SKULL PAGODA. I can be seen in there somewhere pretending to play drums ('pretending' in the sense that I didn't play on the soundtrack, a small grey device did). My home-made fretless bass guitar has also been pressed into service for the purpose of the fillum (because they don't like to feature the same instruments in every video, in case you get the peculiar idea that they haven't got that many!). The anonymous female vocalist (represented on the screen by a plastic replica) is from a sample library disc. Be very amused!

JoXfield ProjeX project

First published on MySpace blog - 30/07/09
My first collaboration with Swedish experimentalists JOXFIELD PROJEX has the (working?) title "PEACE BIT XIV", so called because it is constructed entirely from samples of their "Bits & Pieces #1-13" download album. Hear it here and on their "grey" site. More to follow, I hope!

First published on MySpace blog - 25/06/10
I've just been having a bit of a clear-out in the MY VIDEOS department. And I noticed that one of my 2009 collaborative efforts* with Scandinavian chums JOXFIELD PROJEX, "Peace Bit XIV" had stopped working properly! So I'm afraid I had to delete it from there. Apologies to anyone who had posted comments - you know who you are! But fear ye not, all fans of skuzzy European drone'n'splash music, for it is still on YOUTUBE. And just to remind you what I'm on about, here it is now!

* There was also a second piece called "FINAGLING" done at the same time. I've decided that I still like the 'tune', but the video was a bit feeble. I decided to weld the two tunes together and post the resulting medley on my SOUNDCLOUD

PPeace XIVb/Finagling (Pedantic Pedestrian meets JoXfield ProjeX)
by Pedantic Pedestrian
"This is a concatenation, if you will, of two pieces with Scandinavian chums JOxFIELD PROJEx, recorded in 2009. The first was called 'Peace Bit XIV' as it was constructed entirely out of samples of their 'Pieces 1 to 13'. The second (the middle section) contains various JoXfield samples set against drums and bass tracks of my own device (leftover from an ART RATZ session, I think). Originally these tunes were used as soundtracks to some suitably spooky experimental videos. Looking back on it now, the video is not that great! I decided that the music was good enough to stand in its own right (you be the judge of that!). Anyway, thanX to Oax and Jan for the opportunity!"

ART RATZ/Male La La's

First published on MySpace blog - 09/07/09

... Having tackled the early repertoire of ROCKY MUCUS (the jury's still out on who exactly won), those subversive ART RATZ have turned their attention to the "puerile sixth-form poetry" of one JIM MORRISON and his bunch of Doors. As I, for one, have never heard the platter in question, I can GUARANTEE that our version of the "Strange Days" album will sound NOTHING like the original.

The first results of this musical reinterpretation can be heard in the form of the version of "HORSE LATITUDES", featuring the voice of EVIL DEMENTED BUNNY and ogled at via this televisual presentation of "I CAN'T SEE YOUR FACE IN MY MIND", courtesy of the good folks at the ODD POP concern:

STOP PRESS - There are now further tracks from this naughty project online at the all-new ART RATZ overspill page at www.myspace.com/themalelalas

Gryphon Reunion

First published on MySpace blog - 26/04/11
Flashback to 6th June 2009, and what [has so far] proved to be a ONE-OFF reunion for the great progressive medievalists GRYPHON. - What happened to the 'new' album they spoke of in 2008? - Will there ever be an official release of THIS concert? No one is saying. Anyway, I've posted the clip of "Juniper Suite" before, but the footage of "Dubbel Dutch" has just come to my attention, SO HERE IT IS FOLKS!

By the way, here's what I wrote in m'diaryblog at the time:-

Saturday 6th June 2009 - GRYPHON Reunion Concert, Queen Elizabeth Hall

Like the first album, the Gryphon concert opened with "Kemp's Jig", and it was immediately apparent that, if anything, the chaps are sounding BETTER than they ever did in the seventies. In those days, the PA systems were crap-to-middling and sound engineers were out of their depth trying to balance a bassoon, a recorder or a brace of crumhorns against a bass guitar, a bank of keyboards and other 'electric' instruments. Just listen to their live recordings for the evidence. I saw Gryphon several times during the seventies, in every kind of venue from a folk club to a cathedral to rock auditoria. If memory serves, they never sounded THIS good. I also recall they would stick to the instrumental stuff, possibly for similar reasons. Vocals were never considered their strongpoint:- 'slightly marred by jokey rustic accents', said the NME of the day. Not so tonight.

During this 'First Album' set they played the songs "Sir Gavin Grimbold", "The Astrologer" and "The Unquiet Grave" as well as a version of "Pastime With Good Company" with the (Henry VIII?) words put back in! There was also the gorgeous "Touch & Go" (kudos to Graeme Taylor) and the 'live' world premiere of "Juniper Suite" (as the original recording required a LOT of multitracking, the original quartet could never have pulled it off live). The first set ended with "Estampie" which has been expanded into a suite incorporating OTHER 13th Century dance tunes, as well as Brian Gulland's still amusing bassoon solo.

~Twenty minute interval~

The second set opened with the medley of Susatto(?) renaissance dance tunes forever known simply as "Opening Number". Always a treat. Then, without any need for an introduction, the unmistakable opening chords of "Midnight Mushrumps" which, again, never sounded as good. Magnificent! TEMPESTuous! They received a well deserved standing ovation for what seemed like ages.

Oh no! a Gryphon tune that I don't have in MY collection! Curses! "Ashes" was an outtake from the "Raindance" album and one of the 'previously unreleased' songs that were on "The Collection Vol. 2", a CD compilation long deleted and changing hands online for $50 or more. Curses again! Graeme Taylor's "Dubbel Dutch" and, naturally, "Ethelion" completed the "Midnight Mushrumps" segment of the show.
Perhaps due to public demand (if their MySpace is anything to go by!), they encored with some selections from "Red Queen To Gryphon Three", arranged by Brian and Graeme into a 'suite of all the good bits'. It was suggested that everyone who had ever bought that album were probably in the room! Certainly, a number of people had travelled from afar to be here, including the inevitable Italian contingent (honestly, those Italians and their prog rock...)

Then, just for fun and for charity (Water Aid), the chaps vamped on "Le Cambrioleur Est Dans Le Mouchoir" for as long as it took for the hirsute Mr Brian Gulland to have his beard shaved off. Some might recall the occasion when, on some 1980s telethon or other, he had his entire head shaved as well. See concert programme for photographic evidence.

The concert had started with the original quartet of Richard Harvey, Brian Gulland, David Oberlé and Graeme Taylor playing "Kemp's Jig". It was only fitting that the evening should finish with it as well, this time with the full six-piece, with the addition of bass player Jon Davie (who had been in the final lineup of Gryphon before ending up in Home Service with Graeme Taylor) and multi-multi-instrumentalist Graham Preskett (his 'day job' is in film and TV music), whose fiddle playing added a new dimension to the Gryphon sound.

A fantastic evening then, historic even. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. All the earlier shenanigans with the South Bank ticket office, not to mention the frankly extortionate rail fare, were totally worth it. I trust that Gryphon's select group of MySpace friends and the vociferous (and, let's face it, mainly Italian) prog-rock fanbase will persuade them to do some more. Perhaps play "Red Queen To Gryphon Three" in its entirety for the first time, eh? Just a thought...

Shorts (w/ ADRIAN BELEW video)

First published on MySpace blog - 24/02/09

Not that much to report on the musicmaking front, 'cos it's all kind of "IN PROGRESS" at the moment. I've been writing some new music to go with RABBIT SHOW REJECT's "Blue Wails On Blit Street" stories, but I don't yet know what form the 'finished' 'product' will take. We shall see...

BLIP... Here is the complete WDR-TV "ROCKPALAST" show featuring THE ADRIAN BELEW POWER TRIO, brought to you by the people of Blip TV... and it's a bit good, with some cracking, stripped-down-to-the-basics (basics? ha!) versions of King Crimson repertoire! "Neuvo-Metal" indeed!

This Week's Random Choice of Habitual Listening

Älgarnas Trädgård - "Framtiden Är Ett Svävande Skepp Forankrat I Forntiden"
The Tapeworm Vessel
- "Songs From The Tree Of Life"
Jan Akkerman
- "Profile"

Please tell me what GRIDLING is...

First published on MySpace blog - 1/12/08
By special request, a definition of the word "GRIDLING". This article first appeared on our "GRIDLER" website in 2000. Don't look for it, it's no longer there...

Please tell me what GRIDLING is?
...a 'Q' not too 'FA', these days

Let me explain. "Gridling" (or "griddling" - the word was spelt with one or two "D"s) was, it is alleged, a Victorian tradition of busking, whereby the performer would sing and play very badly, so that passers-by would pay them coins to shut up and go away.

Our glorious founder informed me that he came across the word in "The Autobiography of a Super Tramp", the memoirs of itinerent monopod and poet (he's the bloke who wrote all that "No time to stand and stare" gubbins), William Henry Davies (1871-1940) - nothing to do with the Fender Rhodes-driven beardy wimp-rockers of the seventies.

See especially Chapter 23: "Gridling" and Chapter 31: "Some Ways Of Making A Living", quoted here: "But with all these advantages of a light and profitable stock, there are two men who scorn to carry even these and will not on any account make any pretence at selling. These two men are the gridler and the downrighter. The former sings hymns in the streets, and he makes his living by the sound of his voice. Professional singers are paid according to the richness, sweetness, and compass of their voices, but the gridler's profit increases as his vocal powers decline."

The big Oxford English Dictionary in the library puts it like this (rather disappointingly) -

"griddle (gri.d'l) v-slang. intr. To sing in the streets as a beggar"

- but quotes some juicy examples from publications of the day:

"...another woman, whose husband had got a month for griddling in the main drag..." (Mayhew 1851)

"Cardiff Jack's never got so low as to be gridling on the main drag..." (Besant & Rice 1877)

"They were singing a hymn, or what is better known in the begging fraternity as 'gridling'." (Daily News 8th February 1892)

In Thomas Hardy's "Ethelberta", one of the characters says "I'll finish the griddling", although this almost certainly refers to something else altogether.

The deeper origins of the word "gridle" become even more apparent when one digs into Partridge's Dictionary of Slang, which describes a griddler as "a street singer, especially one without printed words or music". It is thought that the word might come from "Ghiv", the Romany verb "to sing" and, it is noted, "griddle" was also the itinerent entertainers' slang name for the fiddle (the string-ed kind).

The word "Gridler" also has something to do with map-making in Turkey, there appears to be a piece of boxmaking machinery called a Votator-Gridler and there is a character called Gridling, a roarer, in a play call "The Clink" (but I dunno who it's by).

There are a lot of people named Gridling, mainly of Germanic extraction, including a Gunther Gridling who has undertaken some incomprehensible scientific research stuff, a Clemens Gridling who might be a champion swimmer, a Michaela Gridling, who is an up-and-coming name in the world of American college tennis, and a Peter Gridling who is someone big in the Metropolitan Police's Counter-Terrorist Squad. I also believe there to be a kind of leaf eating insect called a Cranberry Gridler (Chrysoteuchia Topiaria) but I cannot confirm this.

All of which is, of course, fascinating, but has nothing whatsoever to do with the current usage of the term "gridling", which usually refers to the inept comedic stylings of a bunch of scruffs from the south Hampshire area. Further enlightened historical insights will be most welcome.

"Gridling is STUPID... The words are bizarre, spelt with only one zee..."