writer, performer, musician, wine drinker

Musical Advent Calendar Day 20: Nick Cave – Red Right Hand

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Another Nick Cave song? How can I justify it? Well, Daughter and Heiress decided the other night to add a touch of ginger to her blonde locks. There was hair dye all over the bathroom, although to be fair she cleaned most of it up. You know what though? Just as well she wore gloves, because by the end she had a Red Right Hand.




Still time to give to the Red Cross Myanmar Appeal and help those Rohingya refugees out.
































































Rampant commercialism below here. Possibly.


Musical Advent Calendar Day 19: LCD Soundsystem – How Do You Sleep

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I do like to confound Daughter and Heiress’s expectations of my musical tastes. As young folks will know, LCD Soundsystem were big in the early years of this century, then disbanded, then came back together with everyone expecting they would just do, like, a greatest hits package. However, instead they produced the critically acclaimed ‘American Dream,’ which has just topped Uncut’s list of albums of the year.

My nephew Jonny, who’s in his thirties (is that Generation X, as opposed to D & H’s Millenial? Who knows… or cares…) sent me as my birthday present in September Mogwai’s latest, and ‘American Dream.’ I didn’t expect to like it. I mean, synths?

However, I did and I do. This is one of my favourites, with an insistent, vaguely Celtic, drumbeat starting things off, and then things slowly building and building until, several minutes in, there’s this big slab of synth kicks in…

Probably back to something guitar-based tomorrow.



Think of giving to the Myanmar refugees. You’ll sleep easier. See what I did there?

















The American Dream couldn’t exist without commercials. But you can.

Musical Advent Calendar Day 18: Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah

Ok, so I said I wouldn’t put this one in. I changed my mind. So, what can I say that’s new about the song that spawned a thousand cover versions and a million open-mic night travesties?

  • The origin of the word ‘hallelujah’: from Hebrew hallalu-yah “praise ye Jehovah,” from hallalu, plural imperative of hallel “to praise” also “song of praise,” from hillel “he praised,” of imitative origin, with primary sense being “to trill.” Second element is yah, shortened form of Yahweh, name of God. Other Abrahamic faiths are also available.
  • In Cohen’s native Montreal, the street sign for Marie-Anne Street got a makeover on his death (see above).
  • According to the same article in El Pais I nicked the photo from (yes, I’ve been doing my Spanish homework) Leonard used to buy his bagels at Bagel Etc (Saint-Laurent, 4320). There’s a whole walking tour industry around his old haunts now.
  • One of the writing sessions for the original 80 verses of the song took place at the Royalton hotel in New York, where he was reduced to sitting in his underwear, banging his head on the floor. The dent on the floor in room 113 is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. Okay, so I made that second bit up.

…and yeah, I know all about the Buckley vs Burke version yada yada, but I’m sticking with Lenny. There’s a fine version on his late-period live album from London, but I’m going with this one which shows him giving it everything but the kitchen sink in San Sebastian in 1988. Vaya con los angeles, Leonard!

I‘ve finally got around after 18 days of preaching at the rest of you about it, to donating to the Red Cross Appeal for Myanmar. It only took a second. Here’s the link.

PS if you want a female singer’s version, kd lang can sing it a bit – an interview I saw with LC quoted this particular performance with approval:






































































Rampant commercialisation may happen below here. If so, boo!







Musical Advent Calendar Day 17: Lucinda Williams – Everything But the Truth

I reviewed the album this comes from, Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone, back when it came out a couple of years ago, so I won’t chunter on. However, this particular track is probably my favourite – it’s just straight-down-the-line stuff, with lyrics that get the message through on channel one and a fantastic backing band. I particularly liked the electric guitar sounds on this album, and the way the guitarists blend in different textures and riffs without necessarily anything flashy.

Instead of the entire video showing the album cover, I decided to go for this Youtube hyperlapse thing. If it gets too dizzying, you can always switch back to the album cover!


I hoped you enjoyed stopping by today. If I’ve put you in a charitable mood, my favoured cause at the moment is the Red Cross Appeal for the Myanmar refugees.























Below this line, people may try to sell you things. But you look like you’ve got your head screwed on.

Musical Advent Calendar Day 16: Stranglers – No More Heroes

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Choose now. Too late!

My childhood best chum Nicky Clarke has a lot to answer for – he’s the one that put me off Bowie, if you recall – the worst incident being him giving me laxative in my Coke just before a violin exam. I don’t know if it actually was laxative, but it was an academic point, given the psychosomatic effect it was going to have anyway. Maybe I should thank him for making me take up guitar instead.

Anyway, one of the things I do have to thank him for is turning me on to the Stranglers. One of the great punk bands, but of all their stuff, this one still resonates most with me.

September, 1977: I must have just turned 15 when this song was released. Crikey – that makes it 40 years old! Did I have heroes then? Probably mainly sporting: the great Hibs team of the early 70s that I can still recite: McArthur, Brownlie, Schaedler, Stanton, Black, Blackley, Edwards, Cropley, Gordon, O’Rourke and Duncan (and yes, that really is etched in my memory – no Wikipedia cheating!)

Bob Willis, the great England fast bowler, or to give him his full name after deed poll alteration Robert George Dylan Willis (yep, another fan of His Bobness, who I was just about to discover). Mahatma Ghandi, although I didn’t know that much about him, to be honest. And the local heroes, of course: Bruce, Wallace, all those bloodthirsty types.

Then punk came along and said, fuck all of that deference shit, we really don’t care. The Stranglers did it with a bit more musicality than some of the other bands, that’s all. That whole Silver Jubilee thing that year, the culture clash between the counterculture and the Establishment, has been probably overdocumented, but it was a real thing.

Do I still have heroes? Yes, but you wouldn’t have heard of them. Incidentally, I quite like this Gilliam-esque video with the song, and as a bonus you get a wee horror movie tagged on at the end for some reason.

Tomorrow’s post will be a bit later than usual. While you’re waiting, go on, be a hero and support the Myanmar refugees.




























Advertising down here. Huh! Bet the Stranglers wouldn’t put up with it.


Musical Advent Calendar Day 15: Prince – Kiss

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Although the music in this advent calendar is fairly resolutely not Christmassy, it’s impossible not to notice certain events in the lead up to the big day. And whether today is Christmas Jumper Day, or Dark Grey Friday, or whatever, one thing’s for sure – the way the days fall around the weekends, tonight will see one whole lot of works nights out. Including ours.

So, in the incredibly unlikely event of anyone wanting me to ‘bust some moves’ on the dance floor tonight (aka Dad Dancing), here’s a track that will get me up there every time. Also a karaoke favourite of mine, so be warned!

What a great video, incidentally. Not a lot of stars that size would send themselves up that way, now or then. Sadly missed.

I don’t do hard sell, but if I did I’d push the idea of giving money to the Rohingya refugees as hard as I could.




















Down here are WordPress adverts camping out on my page. You know what they can kiss?

Musical Advent Calendar Day 14 – Camille O’Sullivan: Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright

I got up today with every intention of giving you more Nick Cave, in the shape of ‘Red Right Hand,’ or maybe ‘God is in the House,’ but as covered by Camille. Then I fired up Youtube and came across her version of Dylan’s ‘Don’t Think Twice’ and thought, that’s going in. I’ve seen her do it live, although that was a couple of times ago. It starts conventionally enough, just her and the guitar, and then it builds. And builds…

I didn’t realise, until I started doing this advent calendar, how many gigs I’ve been to this year, and that includes seeing Camille at the Fringe. The venue and sound wasn’t great, but she still was. If you’re looking for someone that can interpret Cave, Cohen, Dylan, Brel and Bowie, and make them her own, then she’s your woman.

I must admit to having a huge crush on Camille. Well, who wouldn’t? She’s half-French, half-Irish, and she sings like a fallen angel.

I have heard on reliable authority she’s a bit of a diva off-stage. Well, I should damned well hope so.



This blog isn’t sponsored by anyone, but you might want to sponsor some of the refugees living in camps on the Bangladeshi border, driven from their homes by ethnic and religious cleansing. If so, go here for the Red Cross Appeal.























Adverts down here for fuck knows what. I don’t.

Musical Advent Calendar Day 13: Kula Shaker – Hush

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I’ve got warm memories of Kula Shaker from last year, when I saw them live twice: once in February, when they were launching K2.0, a good-in-parts new album, and then around this time in December. Again, I’ve blogged about both gigs before, so I won’t go into too much detail about them.

I love their own stuff, but having posted some of that up too in the past, here’s a Deep Purple cover they do a truly excellent version of live.


You know the drill by now: here’s where I appeal to your better nature to support the Myanmar refugees.























I’m afraid it’s against my nature to endorse stuff i don’t know about. So anything below here isn’t endorsed by me.

Musical Advent Calendar Day 12: Foals – Late Night

I’ve rhapsodized about the Foals album this next track comes from, What Went Down, before. So I won’t again.

I was going to use the official video, but frankly it was quite strong meat for our younger readers – so instead, here’s a version that gives you Spanish subtitles too, as well as a different mix from the album: Quédate conmigo!


Instead of office Xmas cards this year, I’m donating money to the Red Cross Myanmar Appeal – you might want to do the same…















No hay nada que anuncios bajo de aqui

Musical Advent Calendar Day 11: Jason Isbell – Cover Me Up

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Isbell with his wife and bandmate, Amanda Shires


As I progress through this near-month of musical moments, I suspect some of you must be thinking, has he got a plan? Some  grand, overarching concept which leads the listener from the start of the month through genres, styles and artistes towards a unifying theory of Great Music?

I know I am. Thinking that, I mean. Which I suspect means, I don’t have a plan as such. I mean, I did, a couple of days in, start a list of Stuff I Must Put In, but, frankly, I’m treating that now as guidance only. As soon as I think of one artist or song, it leads me on to another. It’s a kind of word association exercise with guitar riffs just as liable to inspire the next leap as words.

So, for example, the next artist to feature, Jason Isbell, could have been triggered musically by yesterday’s choice, the country punk band I’m in, Isaac Brutal. It could equally have come to mind because I saw Isbell with my bandleader Mark Allan, and former Brutalist and long-term collaborator Kenny Mackay, last year. He played Edinburgh’s Liquid Rooms, and I suspect we were really lucky to see him, at the top of his game, in such a small venue.

Alternatively it may have been Youtube’s insatiable list of suggestions when I logged back on it leading me to this video and me thinking, yeah, we’ve got to have The Isbellator in! I’ve no idea  if he’s called the Isbellator by anyone. Even Amanda Shires. But there’s always a first time for everything.

Anyways, this track is one of my favourites of his. A simple riff, a fine lyric about shutting out the winter and staying with your significant other. Works for me.

If you’ve been following this musical journey so far, you know what comes next – the hard sell for the Red Cross Myanmar Appeal. Well, as hard sell as I get.


















Proper hard sell happens down here with WordPress adverts. Possibly.