Thursday, 28 January 2021

For Those Inclined...

So the new Teenage Fanclub album "Endless Arcade" will now be released on 30th April, 2021.

Revised UK/Europe tour info and other news at
This video is edited from footage of us recording new single "I'm More Inclined" at Clouds Hill Recording Studios in Hamburg. Fun times.

I loved working on the music for "Beyond Burns"...

...a gem of a programme about Scottish poetry presented by Jackie Kay. Here's the BBC iplayer link.

Gregory's Girl, 7:84, The Steamie, Chic Murray, Clint Eastwood, Dudley Moore, Napoleon... - I'm nearly finished Alex Norton's autobiography. 

I am glad his pal the late Jeremy Beadle suggested that he write it. (really.) Chapter 50 has a wonderful wee John Martyn anecdote which speaks well of the kindness of Blythe Duff. Many moons ago in the foyer of a Bayswater hotel after a Laura Cantrell gig, John Martyn gave some of us a telling off for something or other. Not that great an anecdote admittedly. To quote Neil Armstrong, you had to be there.

I have been writing an insane amount of TV music for project with a short deadline. (Which I can't tell you about.) A mad, intense workload. It never rains but it pours.

Fare thee well.

Saturday, 9 January 2021

Comrade Fulton


It's January.

Over Christmas two documentaries for which I provided music were repeated: Snowmen, Bogeymen And Milkmen about Raymond Briggs and Paddington: The Man Behind The Bear about Michael Bond. The new Inside Central Station Xmas Special popped up (with a third series in the pipeline); the intro has me in a Santa hat miming playing my titles music on a piano in the concourse of the station. Dignity, always dignity. Oh and a new compilation series of Emergency Helicopter Medics is off and running. Hooray.

Aye but what have I been up to? Em...Walking the dog; baking treacle scones; and putting the finishing touches to the music for a TV doc about poetry for BBC Scotland. 

Some treacle scones last week

I finished reading "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" - which was great.

I watched the new Pixar/Disney "Soul". I enjoyed it - while failing to be completely emotionally floored.

I tore through this:

It's a great book which brought back memories of my Lee Hazlewood record-hunting in Birmingham, Bergen and elsewhere, and also of attending his show at The Royal Festival Hall in 1999. It brought to mind my own experiences of working with a few interesting 'artistic types' over the years. Wyndham Wallace's book is a page turnin' celebration of a professional and personal friendship. You can hear that voice in the retelling of some great stories. If you haven't read it and you like the music of Lee Hazlewood  - you might just eat it up like me.

Incidentally how would you approach covering a well-known Swedish folk song if you didn't speak the language? Here's how Lee did it:

Now I'm reading Alex Norton's autobiography. Chapter One tells of his Gorbals school days. Someone from the Education Department visits the classroom and, after some spelling and sums, observes the kids being creative with plasticine:
"What's this?",  she enquired.
"Please, Miss", said Rab "It's a man."
"And why", she asked, "has it got three legs?"
"Please, Miss, that's his cock."
"I see", she said in an eerily flat tone, "Well take it off at once and make it into a hat."
Comrade Jolly

It's 1983 in the late, lamented Odeon cinema, Hamilton in Deepest Lanarkshire (anywhere in Lanarkshire is Deepest Lanarkshire). I can't remember what I am there to see, but during the Coming Attractions the trailer for Gorky Park flits by. Rikki Fulton (eh?) plays a KGB baddie. Maybe it is something to do with reading John Le Carré or whatever, but over 35 years since that first flickering glance I finally decide to give it a watch. Screenplay by Dennis Potter. Oh. Why there's Michael Elphick. Oh there's Alexei Sayle! And Brian Dennehy. And Lee Marvin....It's dated, charming-in-its-own-way hokum. But at least I now know that for myself. I picked at it and dipped into it over three nights. By coincidence on the third and final day it was announced that its director Michael Apted had died. (Apted was responsible for the 7Up series of documentaries which were both great and grim; watching footage of a 7 year-old talking about how their life might turn out, juxtaposed with footage of the child 14, 21 or 35 years later = yikes.) I'm not really going anywhere with all of this except to say that being glad you watched something isn't the same as recommending it. In the same spirit. I fancy revisiting The Cassandra Crossing sometime. I remember seeing it - the whole film, not just the trailer - at yon Hamilton Odeon, back in the Olden Days. (Funnily enough Richard Harris makes a nice cameo in Lee, Myself and I.)

I enjoyed the first episode of "The Years That Changed Modern Scotland".

Stay safe.

Monday, 28 December 2020

Let's Count Our Blessings

Happy Holidays an' that. I hope Santa got your Christmas list OK. I can tick off a Black Cashmere Polo Neck. Still outstanding: hang glider, shark-proof dagger, box of Milk Tray...

I watched Quentin Blake's Clown on Channel4 and enjoyed Michael Rosen's thoughts on the original book in this blog. QB is brilliant (as is MR). A certain 10 year-old recently remarked, "He draws perfectly wonky". Indeed he does.

Alan Bennett's diary in the London Review Of Books is a tonic. The entry for 16th August made me laugh out loud.

Farewell, Jim McLean, former manager of Dundee United. I just read this funny, affectionate profile of him by Neil Forsyth. (Is it just me or could Jim McLean and Gene Wilder have been separated at birth?)

Jim McLean

Gene wilder

I've been very much digging these Soviet city photos by Arseniy Kotov. 

This powerful article by Ann Patchett is long - but once I'd started reading I couldn't stop.

I recently posted this festive vignette elsewhere:
A childhood memory. Midnight Mass, St John The Baptist, Uddingston. Some folk under the affluence of incohol would roll in from the pub. One year the line to receive the Sacrament Of Holy Communion was moving particularly slowly. A muttered voice from behind - "For fuck's sake."
Other stuff I've been watching: Home Alone; Home Alone 2, Gravity Falls and - whenever I need a wee gee up - this (Billy Preston's grin while he holds his jacket and grooves to the music is all of us):

Time for another Le Carré (RIP, David Cornwell):

Marcus has cancer. Dave draws comics. This is their collaboration.

Let's count our blessings.

Monday, 14 December 2020

What A Carry On

I didn't really plan to read anymore Beatles books anytime soon. However I received this as a birthday present a wee while ago and it's fun and extremely readable (I do love the occasional 1-page chapter):

While we're at it I enjoyed this article - 64 Reasons To Celebrate Paul McCartney.

3rd Dec was the 90th birthday of Jean-Luc Godard. I got a nice email from a producer at the German TV show "Kulturzeit" asking if I could approve the use of this video - made by Gordon Beswick and featuring art by Harry Pye et moi. I said, "Ja!"...

This song is on "Bonjour", the album me and Harry made together.

We are well into December so...

* Watch Elf with family? - TICK.
* Eat too many microwaved Tesco mince pies with a blob of creme fraiche? - TICK
* Complete Christmas shopping? - D'OH!

A propos of nothing I'm getting a bit of a taste for this:

Every time Neil Brand hosts a TV show about music, I love it. Episode 1 of this rocked my boat (for those of a certain vintage the Bagpuss section might make your mascara run).

Farewell John Le Carré....I finally got around to reading The Spy Who Came In From The Cold earlier this year. This led me to Call For the Dead, A Murder Of Quality and The Looking Glass War. Next up I reckon I'll tackle Tinker, Tailor... (right from the opening scene I loved the film starring Gary Oldham as Smiley).

Farewell, Charley Pride...As I wrote elsewhere; his Greatest Hits cassette was the soundtrack to several childhood summer holiday drives. I saw him live at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall a few years ago. A sweet wee wifie came up to the front of the stage and presented him with a jumper she'd knitted for him. He was pleased and everyone went, "Aww".

Farewell, Barbara Windsor... We bumped into her on the street outside the BBC in London after a Teenage Fanclub session. She was jolly and friendly and sweet.

Congratulations to all the 2020 BAFTA Scotland winners. Gutted that Test Drive (featuring my titles music) didn't win in the Entertainment category. But I've instructed my lawyer Rudy Guiliani to look into the appeals process for a recount. I am quietly confident.

In other news I am writing some music for harp.


Friday, 27 November 2020

Like Trying To Strangle Two People At Once

With Christmas stockings to be filled I would recommend this book to anyone: 

And then there was the time that author Peter Ross encountered Lou Reed (echoes of the late Kim Fowley).

I've also been enjoying Morrissey's autobiography:

"I have attempted a second joke, which must be like trying to strangle two people at once."

I do wish that, back in the pre-Smiths days, the powers-that-were had greenlit his suggested Coronation Street script. Apparently it took to do with arguments over a new jukebox in the Rover's Return, culminating in the episode-closing declaration from Ena Sharples, "Do I really look like a fan of X-ray Spex?".

Two thumbs up for The Queen's Gambit thus far.

"Mission To India" from The Moth is a great story well-told by George Lombardi.

Amazing photos from Russia's frozen north here.

Every once in a while I remember this:

If you like the music of the late Ennio Morricone, you might find this interesting:

You've heard "Home" by Teenage Fanclub, right?

Well, here's a wee snap from setting up for the video...

And I reckon this - from my notebook when we were recording it in Cloudshill, Hamburg - refers to "Home". No ride cymbal until after the second chorus...

Spot The Monkey Competition

Farewell, Diego...

Gary Lineker's anecdotes are worth a watch, if you are that way inclined:

I have been writing prospective trailer music and also composing for a BBC doc that will go out next year.

Tinkety-tonk, Old Fruit and down with the Nazis!

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Coming March 5th, 2021...


 The new Teenage Fanclub album "Endless Arcade" will be released on 5th March, 2021

Pre-order here and/or here. 

Here's a spotify link to the single "Home".

And here's a video...

We've enjoyed making this album and look forward to sharing it with the world.

In other news:

"Who are you? And how did you get in here?"

"I'm a locksmith. And I'm a locksmith."

Yes, I've been re-watching the splendid Police Squad!

Also re-watching Gavin & Stacey. Still a gem.

I dug this New Yorker interview with Willie Nelson.

I managed to say hello to Willie outside his tour bus after his show at Edinburgh's Usher Hall in 1994 (I think). I shook his hand and said, "Be sure and come back to Scotland". He fixed me with the deepest brown eyes and said, "I sure will". He was surrounded by fans and a big unsmiling bodyguard. And when he gave you his attention, he gave you his full attention. (I remarked on this to the late Alex Chilton and Alex said that he once met Dolly Parton and she was the same.)

I saw Willie perform at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall a few years later, obviously having revisited these shores on my instruction. Because of the angle of Sister Bobbie's piano - more specifically her piano lid -  some punters at the front and off to one side couldn't see the diminutive Mr. Nelson for the entirety of the show. The US crew looked a bit nervous afterwards as they packed away equipment to the sound of angry Glaswegian heckles, such as: "It's a wonder ye beat the Indians - ye canna even set up a stage properly!"

I think I like the idea of Victorian ghost stories more than actual Victorian ghost stories. I crawled to the end of The Turn Of The Screw, despairing of its turgidly grandiloquent, pandiculation-inducing verbosity. Some sentences read like they'd been cut up and re-constituted by William blinkin' Burroughs.


I'm now giving this a go...

"Victorian knife-plunging Manchester", you say?

A few years back I played drums at a couple of live shows for Stuart Murdoch's God Help The Girl project. One gig was at a music and literary festival in The Hague. James Kelman read his brutal short story "Acid". It was over in a minute but it stayed with me for years. It's included in the recently published "Tales Of Here And Then"

A little bird tells me that Inside Central Station is coming back for a third series. I enjoyed writing the titles music and being filmed miming along on the piano that sits in the main concourse. And then there was the Christmas Special too, of course...

Right. People to do, things to see. I'm offski.

Monday, 19 October 2020

"Can I Get Up? - "Just A Minute"

Stuff I've been enjoying.

*clears throat*

First off, I would recommend this documentary to everyone and anyone:

...moving and funny and sad. I know a lot of people rate "Grey Gardens" but personally I am not a fan. To me it feels exploitative of mental health; an ageist sneer. "Tosca's Kiss" is the antithesis.

I watched the BBC TV production of "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" for the fist time in light years..

...a great futuristic trip down memory lane. I remember recording it every week on on VHS only to forget to tape the sixth and last episode. D'oh! Re-watching it also led me to this (Simon Jones will forever be Arthur Dent).

This doc about Play For Today was another nostalgic watch. Wasn't Dennis Potter great?

"Us" quietly tore my heart out. Actor Tom Hollander's Life In The Day piece for The Sunday Times is almost as amusing:

The Trump Show (two episodes thus far) is a watchable recap of the frog-boiling inanity to which we have been normalised. I do wish he'd tried to take the presidential office oath with his hand placed on The Art Of The Deal instead of The Bible....


Season 7 of Brooklyn Nine Nine...Season 2 of Schitt's Creek...all 3 x Hotel Transylvania films (helps if you have kids). No spoilers, but I was reminded of how much I like this:

Also, I keep listening to different versions of this...

Oh and I just spotted that "Hayman's Way" is on STV player featuring my music. Hooray.

Arrivederci x