Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Merry Christmas, Coronation Street

I noticed that Nicola Sturgeon followed me on Twitter a while ago when she "liked" a painting by Lowry that I had retweeted. Hannah Currie noticed that Nicola Sturgeon followed me. Hannah Currie - with producer Beth Allan - made a BAFTA Scotland-winning documentary called "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore". I provided the music (except for the song at the end by Withered Hand).

Hannah said she would love it if Nicola saw her film. I know the First Minister is busy running a country in the midst of a global pandemic, but she does seem to make time in her life for a bit of culture, promoting reading lists and what not. Whether she has time to interact with every message that comes her way is another matter, of course. I sent her 'a DM' (me and the zeitgeist are like that) with a link to the film. Hannah tweeted that she hoped Nicola would watch the film. Here is a screenshot from Hannah's phone:

"That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore" recently got an airing on BBC Scotland and it's an excellent way to spend 12 minutes. If you haven't seen it - here's the link.

If you can't access i-player, for now here's the trailer:

I finished State Of Happiness. I liked it.

I am re-watching the first series of Ghosts. Splendid, silly fun.

Roll on Series 2.

I enjoyed Nico's Menu Mission on BBC Scotland.

Once Upon A Time In Iraq is compelling viewing.

I liked this BBC Radio 4 doc about Mendelssohn's Octet.

I read and enjoyed "Out Of The Frying Pan", Keith Floyd's first autobiography (having read his second one few weeks ago).

What a life. I'm glad I wasn't married to the old rascal but I think I would sit him across from Billy Connolly at my Fantasy Dinner Party. I am still making my way though his various TV series; my nostalgic, televisual equivalent to comfort eating in these troubled times. I'm currently on "Floyd On Africa". Yes I've seen the bit with the emus.

I'm now reading this:

Oh, here's a bluegrass cover of my sole Teenage Fanclub co-write:

You are onboard with Laura Cantrell's new recording project right?

When children get their hands on their mother's phone, knowing full well that their father doesn't like goat's cheese:

In unrelated news it looks like we've gone and got a dog (!). She's beautiful but very timid and could use a bath. Early days. Wish us luck.


Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Jaja Ding Dong

So farewell then, Ennio.

photo by
Roberto Granatiero
Cinema Paradiso was my Morricone epiphany. I saw it by accident (in 1989?) at the Glasgow Film Theatre, back in the daze of my student days. (I thought I was going to see The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover - which I've still never seen - but I managed to get my dates wrong. D'oh.) The curtains opened on some Italian film or other. With subtitles! Oh well I'm here now...

On the subject of brilliant compos... I was glad to work on the music for "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore". It's a jewel of a film. A short BAFTA Scotland-winning documentary made by Hannah Currie and Beth Allan.

It recently got an outing on BBC Scotland so you can play BBC i-player catch-up here.

"Priest School" (featuring my music) was on BBC TWO recently. (Yay!) A great project with which to be involved...
A trainee priest yesterday.
...Seminarians playing football, drinking negronis on balconies and praying an' that. Beautifully shot. Here's the link.

Episode 4 of State Of Happiness but! Am-I-right?!?

Thumbs up for this Radio 4 doc about Sheku Kanneh-Mason rehearsing Elgar's Cello Concerto.

Also Ep1 of Being Beethoven. Ludwig was a far cry from being a happy bunny.

If you grooved to The Story Of Fire Saga as much as me (this song in particular (context helps)), you might dig this article.

Oh! I watched ABBA: The Movie...

...Twas a hoot. No one - and I mean no one - can carry off blue eye shadow like Agnetha Fältskog.

Just remembered - I reckon this was me trying to write a melody with Morricone in mind.

In other news - I have no other news.

Tinkety-tonk, old fruit, and down with the Nazis...

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

It's July

Tchaikovsky wrote 12 x piano pieces - January, February, March etc. - collectively entitled "The Seasons". One wag wrote in to Radio 3 a while ago to wonder why it wasn't called "The Months" instead. Good question.

Here's one wee cure for the lockdown blues:

Yes - I liked it. Guilty as charged! Slap the cuffs on! In fact it's led me to a minor obsession with ABBA. I had them on my out-for-a-wee-run spotify playlist and even managed an extra lap of the local pond because Does Your Mother Know came on.

Other stuff I have been liking:

State Of Happiness...

This repeated Alan Bennett Diaries doc;

All 6 x episodes of "Billy And Us";

A short story by Elizabeth Taylor called "Taking Mother Out";

This song by Amy Allison:

And I keep dipping back into Tom Lubbock's "Great Works: 50 Paintings Explored". I know so very little about art. I wish Tom was still with us in order to share more brilliant insights.

What else?

Oh! This short BAFTA Scotland-winning film is on BBC Scotland on Monday 6th July at 11.45pm:

It's a gem. I was glad to help on the music.

I'd like to share some Teenage Fanclub news......but I can't.

See ya. Wouldn't wanna be ya.... x

Monday, 22 June 2020

"I love this album to the point of madness"

Tim Burgess is the saviour of Twitter and the Lockdown Blues. His communal online listening parties are brilliant; making us groove to albums from start to finish - just like the old days - while sharing our memories and enthusiasm. Very positive happenings.

I loved the two Dexy's Midnight Runners parties ("Searching For The Young Soul Rebels" and "Too-Rye-Ay"), and the one for Camera Obscura "Let's Get Out Of This Country" (naturally).

Last night (as I type) it was the turn of Laura Cantrell's "Not The Tremblin' Kind" which still sounds bloody great 20 years after release (on a certain DIY label out of Glasgow, Bonnie Scotland).

Bob Harris and Andy Kershaw played NTTK on national radio here, but the late great John Peel was a huge champion, declaring it:
 "My favourite album of the last 10 years and possibly my life".
I was looking through old faded radio reports of yore and came across another transcribed recommendation from JP:
"I love this album to the point of madness". 
Here's a postcard Peel sent to the Shoeshine Records HQ. He'd bought 14 x copies of NTTK and was wondering when Laura would release the follow up:

In other news I am digging the new Bob album. This is my current favourite (those wee tantalising harmonica breaks!).

I recommend this:

If you haven't read the original gem of a book I would say maybe try and read it first:

"Punk Rock Boy" is the song I contributed to Juniper's debut album. Incidentally Joff Winterhart's band Bucky have a track on Juniper's album too. Small world but I wouldn't like to paint it.

One episode down of "State Of Happiness" and I am ready for Episode 2:

I thought Joe Wicks was very likeable on Desert Island Discs.

And a wee reminder that if the good lord's willing and the creeks don't rise, we might see some of you on the road next year:

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

"He's at it again, God"

All being well...

Ticket/info - www.teenagefanclub.com

I am pitching for a couple of composer gigs. Wish me the proverbial.

Oh and I've joined the Ebow club ("Neeeeeeeeee.........!")...

An Ebow earlier today.
I am really enjoying Billy And Us.

Episode 4 on religion had some great archive footage.

I went through Keith Floyd's autobiography like a hot knife through salted garlic butter. I've now ordered his other autobiography...

Here's a new Bob Dylan interview (!)

New Bob album imminent!
"Good news in today’s world is like a fugitive, treated like a hoodlum and put on the run. Castigated."
Amen, Bob.

I thought The Salisbury Poisonings was great, moving TV. That funeral scene.

I've been to too many funerals.

Last week I attended my first online memorial service. When I was 8 or 9 years old Nigel lived across the avenue, the youngest of three brothers. I was a few months older. He didn't go to my school but I can clearly remember his first day at Mrs Sally's kindergarten in Kylepark in Uddingston, Lanarkshire in what must have been 1974. A navy blue top, a mop of blonde hair and a car or truck that he was excited about.

I remember watching Top Of The Pops at Nigel's house: XTC and Sham 69. Nigel got very excited when Jimmy Pursey mimed beating the floor tom with his hands.

I reckon I bought The Stranglers "The Raven" because of Nigel. He thought the title of The Sex Pistols debut album was hilarious. They had a cat called Tiger and a garden pond with frogs. We moved house and I only bumped in to Nigel now and again over the years. His brother Alan came to my gig in Newcastle earlier this year and we caught up. A few weeks later he dropped me a line to said Nigel had passed away. Shocking and sad.

Apparently Nigel's hero had been Keith Floyd. His dog was named Duchess after The Stranglers song; he'd seen them live in 1981 at Glasgow Apollo. He must have been 10 years old at the time (!). Nigel liked good food and wine (but not from the supermarket). He wasn't materialistic.  He could drive but never had a car. They played Brian Wilson "Love And Mercy" during the ceremony.

The humanist minister told a story about Nigel having a holiday in France and visiting various vineyards and taking some nice wine back home. His companion hung on to their wine but Nigel drank his. I suppose, as Brian Wilson once sang, Life Is For Living - and Nigel would have agreed.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Laura Cantrell - A Tonic For The Lockdown Blues


A 49 YEAR-OLD DAD, ever stylish but could use a haIrcut, STANDS SQUINTING AT a TV SCREEn. BIG PIXELS MOVE AROUND VIGOROUSLY. 10 year old daughter sits on a bean bag also staring at the screen, wiggling a plastic controller contraption.



* * * 

Last night I watched some Kevin Bridges. His wee routine about a Jihadi suicide bomber on a tourist flight from Glasgow to Mallorca was particularly good.

I dipped into a TV doc about Peter Sellers for few minutes and, it being a goodly while after midnight, was about to sip the last of my Johnnie Walker Red and ascend the Wooden Hill to Bedfordshire when I decided to sneak a wee glance at Faceboke.

Who should pop up with a live-streamed, solo acoustic set but Laura blinkin' Cantrell!!

What a tonic for the lockdown blues! A realtime connection with a great artist.

As I like to remind folk now and again, I released Laura's sublime debut album "Not The Tremblin' Kind" on my label 20 years ago, (zoinks!), and - along with her subsequent releases - it still hits the spot. She's a pal but I'll alway be a fan.

Anyway, this live session was just what I needed when I didn't know I needed it. The whisky tasted sweeter and the night got younger.

Laura sang this gem (among many) which made me listen to it again (I bought the LP "Going Up On The Mountain" on ebay a few yonks ago, searching for things associated with the late John Herald - John plays some guitar and sings some harmonies):

Here's an old blog about an amazing trip playing in Spain with Laura. Seems a lifetime and a world away now.

Laura, you were sounding great as ever. Until we meet again... *raises imaginary glass of whisky at computer screen*

OH BY THE WAY... Lady Cantrell will be live tweeting as we all listen to Not The Tremblin' Kind on Tim's Twitter Listening Party. Sunday 21st June, 9pm (UK time)...

See y'all then.

OK. Other stuff I have recently liked:

Tunnel 29 - powerful telling of a true story about West Berliners digging a tunnel under The Wall.

The Dyatlov Pass Mystery - a dark, disturbing true tale about 9 Russian students hiking to their deaths in the Ural Mountains in 1959.

Broken Greek - Pete Paphides ruminates on a childhood as an elective mute, turned on by Sting and Come On Eileen. (Did I ever mention I saw The Police supported by The Cramps at Glasgow Apollo when I was 8 years old? I did?! Oh...)

Billy And Us - Episode 2. Shipyards and Leotards. I do love Billy.

Keith Floyd Uncorked on DVD. Here's Episode 1 on youtube if you give a monkey's...

I also watched Disney's Cinderella avec child. Not entirely sure I'd ever seen it all the way through. Now I keep breaking in to "Salagadoola mechicka boola,  Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo..." for no good reason. Help.

I'm reading this and it's off to a cracking start:

Oh and Grayon's Art Club is fab lockdown TV, in my humble opining...

Please Father, that is all I can remember. Now for a good Act Of Contrition.

Toodle pip.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Swingin' Along

Hope folk are bearing up OK.

We bought a swing seat for the garden. Sitting on it feels like going on holiday (not really).

I've been watching Keith Floyd, Better Call Saul and Normal People.

I happened upon this curio about Monty Python making shows for German TV in 1971. On first arriving they were taken to visit a concentration camp. I won't repeat what Graham Chapman shouted when it was closed.

If my experience is anything to go by - any 11 year-olds you know might enjoy Homeschool History on BBC Radio 4.

I caught up with an old doc by director Stephen Bennett called The Boys Of Ballikinrain: a viewing experience to remind you that all behaviour has a reason - and that we need to count our blessings.

Stephen directed "Eminent Monsters" which received its BBC premiere last night (as I type). An important documentary about state-sponsored torture with a story that stretches from Canada to Guantanamo to Northern Ireland and beyond, I was glad of the opportunity to compose the soundtrack.

My music also features on the current series of both "Beechgrove" (BBC Scotland / BBC TWO) and "Emergency Helicopter Medics" (Channel 4). And I wrote the theme tune for "Inside Central Station" - back for a second series on the BBC Scotland TV channel.

A reminder that I contributed a song - Punk Rock Boy - to Juniper's debut album.

Don Fleming and Ira Kaplan play guitars. Crazy. More info here.

(Reader's voice: "Stop boasting!")
Apparently it's 14 years since we lost Grant McLennan. I wrote this about his passing in 2006.

We still have his songs.

My late mum used to sing this.

Stay safe.