Thursday, 29 November 2018

"There's No Glory In Outstripping Donkeys"

I was delighted to find a letter that Alex Chilton wrote me several yonks ago.

I can't put my hands on the compilation tape now, but I remember there was stuff by The Gories, The Scruffs, The Country Rockers and a wonderful version of "Alligator Man" by The Greenbriar Boys.

In 1993 (September?) after Big Star played the QM in Glasgow, supported by BMX Bandits, a squad of us ended up at a get together in someone's flat. A couple of acoustic guitars appeared and there was a sing song. I remember one song was"California Girls" because I was strumming one of the guitars and LX cued me for the riff before the last chorus - and my fingers turned to boxing-begloved sausages. Oh well.

Alex sang us this song, mentioned in his letter.

After the initial verse there was some laughing (scoffing?).

Alex kept strumming and said, "Burt Bacharach wrote this".

Came the earnest reply, "Did he?"

Alex (still strumming): "No".

Sunday, 18 November 2018

"Mummy's Gone Out For A Cigarette"

Well that was some finale...

Very nice to meet John-"I can't believe I met Norman"-Simm on Night 2 of the London run of Teenage Fanclub shows. He kindly filmed a wee message from The Master for my wee 'Whovian' boy (the latter's verdict: "It wasn't too bad".)

While in London I also caught a matinee performance of Pinter 4 ("Moonlight" and "Night School") which I loved. Great cast and performances. Funnily enough John Simm will appear in Pinter 6.

I ate lovely tapas in Jamon Jamon in Camden and delicious veggie lasagne in Rosetta in Covent Garden.

I visited Westminster Abbey which was pretty amazing. Photos aren't allowed but I told a guide that I had provided (a little bit of) music for the recent BBC Imagine doc about David Hockney's new stained glass window. He let me snap a photo as a souvenir of my seeing it 'in the flesh'...

To the National Gallery again. This painting affected me....

...maybe in part because I have been thinking about The Iolaire Disaster.

I also discovered Lorenzo Lotto.

I am singing some songs at this charity event with Stevie Jackson, Richard Luke, A New International and a Surprise Guest in Glasgow on 15th Dec. 

Looks like a beautiful venue.

I've been working on music for a TV programme which will be shown during the BBC Christmas schedules. It's a wee gem. V. chuffed to be involved. I'll be shouting about it when I can.

Say - Tracyanne & Danny are coming the West Coast of North America next year:

Tickets/info here.

RIP Roy Clark. I used to put this on compilation tapes to play in the BMX Bandits tour van:

Overheard at a recent screening of The Grinch in the Odeon, Braehead, Glasgow: "Mummy's gone out for a cigarette. Sit down."

Monday, 12 November 2018

Manchester - Birmingham - London

Teenage Faclub's Manchester residency was a hoot, despite my playing keyboards with oven gloves on the odd occasion. Last song on the last night was a rare version of Take The Skinheads Bowling. All the more rare for being accidentally in the wrong key. Allegedly.

I was struck by a painting (not literally) in the Manchester Art Gallery. Apparently Richard Neville, the 16th Early Of Warwick, vowed to fight to the death at the Battle Of Towton. Here he is killing his horse so he can't flee the battlefield:

How's that for knowing your mind? I can be paralysed with indecision as to whether to have tea or coffee.

And I thought this Feminist take on the Grand Tour was brilliant:

Before our Mancunian finale, me and Norman sloped off to the cinema to catch this...

Loved it. Dave had already seen it and assured me I'd be youtub-ing Queen's full set at Live Aid. And he wasn't wrong.

On the drive to Brum Norman came up with an idea for a sandwich shop. Bohemian Wraps All Day. Don't groan at the messenger.

The Birmingham shows were fandabbydozy. Last song on the third night was "Like A Virgin" with Brendan thumping the tubs. Not sure the band have ever played that live.

This materialised backstage.

O wad some Power the giftie gie us / To see oursels as ithers see us
Looks like we've all got Lenny-Henry-as-David-Bellamy-on-TISWAS beards.

Speaking of art.... I love Birmingham Art Gallery. And not just for the fish and chips in the Edwardian Tearoom.

Among other things I like the painting Mount Civette by Elijah Walton. Not sure why. Hard to articulate. Something to do with its scale. And what it must have conveyed to folk back home (with no TV cos it hadn't been invented yet) who would never travel abroad. And the Grand Tour tradition. And A Room With A View. And Hotel Du Lac. And familiarity. And - I'm havering now. 

(Meanwhile a wee snap taken with my phone camera doesn't quite do it justice.)
Loved this too.

I ate Balti (when in Rome).

And now we're in London. I've had a mooch in the National Gallery...

If I had a nose like that I wouldn't ask to be painted in profile (cue heckler: "What do you mean "if"?")
...steak frites in Joe Allen's... and I popped for a discounted ticket for the 3rd instalment of Pinter At The Pinter which was, at turns, good and great; moving and funny.

Powerful cast: Keith Allen, Lee Evans, Tamsin Greig, Meera Syal and Tom Edden. 

I hardly ever get to see live theatre.

Three Fanclub shows in London this week. 

Then home to finish up some music for TV.



Wednesday, 7 November 2018

"The Right Words Inside Of The Right Melody"

I enjoyed this Bob Dylan interview.

Teenage Fanclub have played some more shows in Glasgow and Manchester since my last missive. 

All fun. 

Brendan has a gift for loosening up everyone in the building and reminding us all that we're here to have fun. I didn't spot this at the time from my stage-left grotto, but last night there was no sign of him before we started the second song of the set, "Sparky's Dream". B was supposed to play a wee bit of percussion over the intro but we assumed he'd gone AWOL....Oh well. Paul counted us in. Norman played the opening lick. An arm emerged from the black curtain at the back of stage shaking a maraca...

Amazing shot of Karen 'Amy Pond' Gillan. Taken with a phone camera, would you believe?
On Sunday I attended the BAFTA Scotland Awards 2019. Tuxedo? Tick. But it always comes around just too late for me to remember how to tie my back tie. Hurray for youtube tutorials.  "The Force: The Story Of Scotland's Police" (wot I done music for) was nominated but didn't win. However, I got a blether with David Hayman (lovely man), a chat with the good folks of GMAC, and caught up with various folks that have helped me get on with making music for TV. And the caramelised onion tart starter was delish.

Yesterday (as I type) I visited the Manchester Art Gallery.

I've eaten salt & pepper baby squid in Red Chilli and Catalan black pudding in Lunya.

Oh and here's some TFC LP reissue news.

Might give this a go.

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