Other people's blogs are invariably as boring as hell - self-centred, random, rambling or just plain pointless...
we don't like to break the pattern, so this is Fruits de Mer Records blog...and you're welcome to it
YOU CAN'T JUDGE A BOOK BY LOOKING AT THE COVER...
...but I can judge how much I've enjoyed a magazine by the number of pages where I've turned down the corner for a return visit; I've been catching up with a backlog of Record Collectors, Shindigs, Progs, Mojos and Classic Rocks - and Shindig! wins hands-down (or corners down) for me
DAMNING WITH NO PRAISE
Just read Paul Rees' biography of Robert Plant. Commenting on the Swan Song label, he describes one of the early signings,"...The Pretty Things, a London band that had been knocking around since the early 60s"...and that's it. OK, so it's a book about Robert Plant but, given his roots, I think a little more might have been in order!
IF DOWNLOADS ARE FOR PEOPLE WHO DON'T LISTEN TO MUSIC...
..Kindles are for people who don't read books and videoing gigs is for people at gigs who don't like live music, I reckon that smart phones are for people who don't talk to other people and social media are for people who don't have any friends...this insight comes from sitting in a bar with Liz and realizing we were the only couple having a conversation - every other couple in there were ignoring each other and staring deep into their respective phone screens...sorry, got to go and update my facebook page on my i-phone
I can bore for England on how Britt from Us and Them is the only person who should ever be let loose covering a Sandy Denny song - now add to Sheila Chandra to the list - although i don't think she ever has?
GOOD NEWS FOR INSOMNIACS EVERYWHERE...
...only seven sleeps 'til Christmas
Trip to the Spitalfields independent label market and London craft brewers market yeasterday. Lasting memory is of me trying to buy a pint of bitter...or stout....or mild. Stout with raspberries and coconut? no problem; mild with blackberries? certainly, sir; porter with coffee? coming straight up. Bloody right too - keeping it down would have been the challenge - I can't help but feel craft brewing is being taken over by people who don't actually like beer. For some strange reason, I was accused of becoming a grumpy old man by my fellow sufferers - Jack Ellister, Heyday's Nick Leese and FdM club member Craig Palmer. Fair point.
KING ARTHUR TEST-RUN
Back from a weekend in Glastonbury, checking out the King Arthur pub (big pub but small venue - should be cosy!) and the Glastonbury street festival (bloody enormous, puts the Disney parade to shame, pity it rained virtually non-stop for about 6 hours); also got to see Magic Bus and the Crystal Jacqueline Band play the King Arthur - good practice for next May.
WORLD'S SHORTEST ALBUM?
my new favourite local record shop (ok, the only shop that sells records that's within walking distance), Sainsburys, has a 'Best Of Morrissey' album in its racks (sorry, it's been another bad week for FdM technology, I've got to take it out on somebody)
BEEN THERE, GOT THE SUITCASE
Back from Utrecht record fair - a huge fair that it would take two days to get round properly; I was only allowed one, but the fact we had to buy a suitcase to fit everything I bought back home gives you an idea of how indiscriminate my spending was. I renewed acquaintance with a bunch of choice European prog albums thanks to some cheap reissues and found a few krautrock reissues I wasn't aware existed.
The 'good stuff' was scarily expensive and I soon found myself ignoring the 'RARE' sections and 'COLLECTORS' ITEMS' in favour of the affordable.
Must go back one day - with a bigger suitcase.
GIVE ME AN LP, BOB
More from Sainsburys - this time two rather nice double LP compilations, courtesy of Bob Stanley. OK, so perhaps nothing earth or ear-shattering but certainly very tasteful - worth checking out.
SAINSBURYS 'HEAR THE DIFFERENCE' RANGE
I'm really not sure what an exclusive run of The Pretty Things' 'SF Sorrow' on red vinyl is doing in Sainsburys, but as I happened to see copies on display when I went in there the other day, I'm not complaining
WE CAME, WE SAW, I LOST MY SHIRT
Congratulations to Andy Richardson and co for a cracking Dionysus festival in Derby - some great bands and lots of friendly faces - thanks everyone for supporting the event. We left the venue with Steve and Nessie Hallam at about 11pm on Saturday night and walked straight into another gig in the club next door, with The Lords playing some more-than-half-decent covers of tracks by The Doors, Slade and the like...as their lead singer put it, "think how good we'd be if we rehearsed".
Then onto Uttoxeter for a really good afternoon's racing on Sunday; I didn't actually lose my shirt, but i did manage to lose my coat - fortunately the landlady of The Vaults (the last pub Liz and I called in on on Sunday night) found it, tracked us down by email and is very kindly posting it back to me - what a nice lady.
ON OUR WAY TO DERBY
...nearly, anyway - the Dionysus festival is on Saturday, with a packed line-up including The Telephones, Moths, Sendelica, Magic Bus, Earthling Society and many more. After that, Liz and I will be celebrating Oktoberfest at Uttoxeter races (yes, I think it sounds pretty bizarre too, but I love a good jump meeting) and then home to start work in earnest on FdM's year-end releases
all credit to MOJO for a cover-mounted CD with the latest issue that's more than worth the cost of admission, even though I haven't forgiven the mag for studiously ignoring Sidewalk Society's LP, which I reckon is streets ahead of most of the albums reviewed by Phil Alexander and co over the last couple of months
BUILDING A COUNTRY THAT WORKS FOR EVERYONE
I try to avoid political issues as much as I avoid X Factor, Marmite and skiing, but I've got to admit that the letters randomly falling off the Tory slogan at the party conference did make me wonder what would have happened if a slightly different bunch of letters had come away...
HOW QUICKLY CAN YOU RELEASE AN ALBUM?
...how about three hours?
I was swapping emails with someone from one of FdM's best-loved bands and he happened to mention that he was working on some solo tracks and would I be interested in taking a listen? Three hours later and we'd agreed on an LP+DVD release, sleeve sorted, etc, etc - all ready to go! Now admittedly it'll be at least six months before the album sees the light of day, but I've got to say it's been a really fun day and a reminder of how fast I can move, if I have to!
THE GODS OF TECHNOLOGY CONTINUE TO GANG UP ON ME...
...after the PC debacle, my trusty old inkjet printer decided to tell me that some parts of it were nearing the end of their working life; fair warning, I thought, must think about a replacement sometime soon....about five more postcards printed and it refused to print anything ever again as it has officially 'expired'.
...and don't start me on Hotmail, which recently decided to go on strike for a day, with no explanation from Microsoft...
...oh, and since then, my replacement PC has decided to stop talking to my replacement inkjet printer and my laser printer....and of course, PC World still haven't fixed the PC they buggered up in the first place
finally managed to get hold of a copy of this 7" - it's a bit knackered, but then again so am I
WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM FRIENDS
Saw and heard a truly dreadful reinterpretation of an iconic album, in a much-revered central London venue - I'm not one for public criticism, hence the somewhat obtuse reference, but there'll be at least three people turning in their graves
LOOK TO THE FUCHSIA NOW
spent a good chunk of the day with Tony Durant, discussing 2018 - let's just say I think you'll be hearing more from Fuchsia, as well as seeing them at the 16th Dream festival
JOE LONGTHORNE vs WAYNE KING
(bet you didn't see that coming...) With Liz away with the grandkids, it seemed an ideal opportunity to check out the local charity shops; now I remember why it's been a while since i did the rounds...an LP by Liberace's protege, a SIGNED Joe Longthorne LP, a bunch of James Last albums (none with 'Silver Machine' on!) and, worst of all, a reminder of why I don't look at boxes of records on the floor - my knees are killing me
SPITALFIELD FRIDAY MARKET
...one of the best little record markets around - first and third Fridays of most months. One stall had lots of mint original US jazz LPs at £10 a time that I was too ignorant to appreciate, but i did pick up a mid 70's SFF LP on Brain and a Flashback issue of Mighty Baby studio rehearsals (I also stared at but couldn't bring myself to buy the Gulp bootleg of the Stones' Rock'n'roll Circus - £45 for a copy that was probably no more than VG)
IF THERE'S ONE THING WORSE THAN YOUR BACK-UP PC GOING INTO HIBERNATION ...
...it's when PC World take the hard drive out of your old machine to copy files onto a new machine (no, i don't know why they had to take it out either) and then can't make the old machine work again...and then try to duck taking any blame for screwing the thing up (or unscrewing it, to be more precise)
IF THERE'S ONE THING WORSE THAN YOUR PC GOING ON THE BLINK...
...it's when your back-up machine decides to go to sleep overnight and refuses to wake up again. FdM is currently hanging together by a rather frayed string.
TWO GO MAD IN DORSET
Maybe not, but we've had a very pleasant few days in Weymouth and Swanage. Found record shops in both, but only purchased a bootleg of a 1976 ELO gig (one side is devoted to 'Eldorado' - I couldn't resist). Liz was more taken by the cider festival we happened upon, while i gave the local crabs and oysters a right seeing to
OUR NAME IN LIGHTS
And another terrific evening of live music, from Sendelica, Fuchsia and Gregory Curvey. A really good turnout too - 150 people came along - unheard of on a weekday at the Half Moon in August, apparently - thank you to everyone who came along and created a great atmosphere for the bands
THE GHOST OF CROSSROADS PAST
There are even more long-running TV drama series these days than FdM releases and there seems to be a rich (tea) vein of series that have the style and substance of ATV's deadly 'Crossroads' soap, which lasted for decades without ever rising above the level of dire. I thought The Durrells was the worse-written, worse-acted and worse-directed series I'd ever seen on TV...until 'The Good Karma Hospital' came along...and then...
...I saw my first-ever episode of 'Benidorm'.
All three series have the tension and dramatic impact of a bad episode of 'Double Deckers', but what is worse is how decent actors manage to drag themselves down to the level of the scripts
...AND WHILE I'M ON A ROLL...
...what about the multi-part dramas that occupy huge swathes of primetime TV (yes, i still watch most TV at the time it says it's on according to the Radio Times - why do you think FdM is a vinyl label?). In my day, a drama lasted 60 mins, 90 at a push - now it takes bloody weeks, and most of the time NOTHING IS HAPPENING
(OK, i feel better for that - back to music)
THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVOURITE THINGS...
...from Cardigan....the M4 being open for traffic...the best queue yet outside the venue on Saturday afternoon...Mantle best bitter...Fuchsia...meeting loads of FdM club members...Sendelica...sneaking test pressings onto the stall on Sunday afternoon and watching them disappear...Craig falling down a hole...Nick Saloman referring to me as a 'breadhead'...Anton Barbeau...the sun...the drizzle...
...from the Half Moon...beer...a great crowd...Icarus Peel and Jack Ellister...seeing so many friendly faces from Cardigan...Fuchsia...selling a 'Postcards From the Deep' box-set...someone palming me off with a 5 euro note...still having some space in our hall when we unpacked on getting home
ONE FOR THE ROAD
No trip to Cardigan would be complete without a quick visit to Ian at the Mantle Brewery (inevitably leaving with a couple of crates of 15th Dream best bitter); a smashing bloke - good to see a Midland lad showing the local guys how to brew a decent pint (only joking). I've already placed an order for 16th Dream best bitter!
THE 15th DREAM IS OVER!
Thank you to everyone for a brilliant 15th Dream of Dr. Sardonicus festival - to all the artists and Fruits de Mer fans from around the world who made their way to Cardigan, to everyone at the Cellar Bar, including the two Steves and Colin, Ian at the Mantle Brewery, all the bands that provided CDs for the FdM goodie-bags and of course to Pete Bingham for making it all happen.
and thanks too, to all the FdM helpers...Liz, Kev, Lizzie, Stephen, Paula, Steve, Nessie...and even Craig (when he finally woke up)
Block out August 3-5, 2018 in your diaries NOW - the 16th Dream is coming!
15th DREAM UPDATE
Final day starts at 1pm. Great sets on Saturday from The Bevis Frond, Sendelica, Red Sun and Anton Barbeau (best day ever for music at a Sardonicus festival?); FdM stalls were manic - thanks everyone for all your support! More Fruits de Mer goodies for sale - and giveaways - today - and lots of great live music
Day 2 starts at 3pm. Really busy first night and we didn't even have an FdM stall (although I did find myself running the Earthling Society stand for a while!). Hoping Fuchsia's Tony Durant, The Telephones' Andy Richardson and Fred Laird from Earthling Society will be able to call in for a while and have a chat after great sets last night.
nice find by Alex Hoile - the first disc of the Fuchsia 'Song' 2x7" set on white vinyl - the oddest 'odd colour' I've seen of the July releases so far
SUMMER OF VINYL LOVE
July/August can be a bit thin for new vinyl releases/reissues, but these two look to be worth checking out - 'West Coast Nuggets' and The Monkees' 'Summer Of Love'
THE CHASE IS ON
Fruits de Mer Records was live (or the closest I get to live) on Cannock Chase Radio last Friday morning - for a mercifully brief spell ...
you may still be able to hear my dulcet tones by tuning into
http://cannockchaseradio.co.uk/schedule-2/ - I was interviewed from around 10.15am to 11 o'clock - i won't be offended if you were busy washing your hair (note to self: must call in on a restaurant I passed while driving through Lichfield on the way to the interview - the 'Ruby' - a Chinese restaurant, naturally)
OVER EGGING IT
Did I ever mention the time I nearly got to stage a gig by Egg in our local theatre when i was still at school (in the early 70s)? I got as far a fixing the deal and date with Virgin Records and the local council but then I couldn't raise the upfront cash to make it happen! (The fallback to Egg was a group called Brewers Droop, whose guitarist was a Mark Knopfler)
HIS MASTER'S VINYL
Imagine my surprise when I came out of the local HMV about £60 lighter than when I went in. Still as badly disorganised as ever, and 95% is bland, obvious stuff, but the batch of HMV-only limited edition colour vinyl offered up some interesting items, including The Creation and Porcupine Tree albums - and of course The Pretty Things compilation.
The kids took me to see Goldie Lookin' Chain at the local beer festival. Bit of a bizarre setting - the guys set up at one end of the room, maybe 60 beers being served in the same room - which happened to be a scout hut. But they did a great set - went down really well (unlike some of the sour IPAs which seem to be flavour of the month/year) - and yes, your mother still has a penis, since you ask
HEAVY DRINKING SESSION
Motorhead 'Bastards' lager (brewed in Sweden, strangely enough) and Iron Maiden 'Trooper' bitter (brewed more logically in Cheshire). FdM is on tour, again.
FINE FAIR DISCOUNT
I see HMV (and FOPP) are offering a few recent-release vinyl albums at reasonably discounts - such as The Who BBC double for £8. Nothing that persuaded me to release the moths from my wallet but maybe a first sign of spring (sales)? There's been a helluva lot of vinyl pressed in the last couple of years - I can't help but think there are some warehouses somewhere creaking under the weight of returns
Saw Billy Cobham play in London this week - still as sharp and crisp as ever - and occasionally employs four sticks to batter his kit, which is tantamount to cruelty to drum skins; made me rush home to dig out 'Birds Of Fire'!
THE ULTIMATE QUESTION OF LIFE, THE UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING
I'm hoping all will be revealed when Goldmine's 'Essential Guide to Record Collecting' is published at the end of July, written by Dave Thompson. All I've seen so far is this page
TIR NA BOG
On a night in London that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons, it was good to see Leo and Sonny playing the Borderline. A surprisingly small crowd saw the guys put together a great set; I didn't warm to the new-look Borderline though - more like a late-night club than a live music venue; Dave Lovatt took the photo of the corridor leading to the loos, I thought I'd joined an episode of The Avengers ('The House That Jack Built', according to Connie)
I settled down to listen to 'Nursery Cryme' the other day and couldn't help but wonder why - as a teeneager - I struggled to come to terms with Gabriel's surreal lyrics and vocal delivery, the great use of dynamics, the attention to detail and the wonderful keyboards; I loved Jethro Tull, VDGG and Gentle Giant but wasn't sure about Genesis. But I guess there's no accounting for musical taste...
STEVE DAVIS FOR 6MUSIC
Good to see the BBC allowing some prog back onto its airwaves this summer, with Steve Davis filling in for Jarvis Cocker; it will be interesting to see how listening figures respond - could it become a regular slot?
FdM - BACK IN THE USSR...SORRY, UK
We head back from the Lucid Dreams festival today - and what a brilliant job Horst Sunhair did in putting such a great line-up together and organising everything. It was really good to see some familiar faces who'd made their way over to Wurzburg from around Germany, Belgium, Italy, England, Wales, even Australia - thank you everyone for your support - next stop Cardigan!
Sorry, I couldn't help it - I was a gibbering fool (no change there, then) AND I got him to sign a copy of 'Tago Mago'
FdM ARRIVES IN CAIRO
That's the Cairo venue in Wurzburg, of course. Looks like a great place for a festival - but lots of winding steps!
Everything starts with the doors opening at at 3.30pm today (May 5) with Gunter Schickert's Ziguri the first band on at 4pm. (NB: the second photo was taken by someone after the festival - note strategically-placed vodka bottle)
DJ Food has come up with some albums sleeves that create the illusion of movement (such as moiré patterns) for his monthly column for The Vinyl Factory - and it's rather cool to see Astralasia's 'Wind On Water' featured (if only he knew how much grief everyone went through to make it work!); you can check out his list
Imagine my surprise when Roger Nicholls from Rock Radio suggested a return match on his 'Imaginarium' show, this time to talk about krautrock; I'll confirm next week's broadcast time in due course for any FdM masochists out there - but once again Roger has chosen some great music to break up my droning tones
TWO SIDES OF OCEANIA
we have a very limited-run of Astralasia t-shirts available in the FdM SHOP (sorry, no bullet belts)
Many thanks to Sergio Cataldi for flying the flag for FdM at RSD 2017 in Palerma - good work, that man
OCEANIA - THE VARNISHED TRUTH
Sadly my photographic skills are on a par with my ability to remember where I've left my mobile phone - but maybe you can just get a hint of the spot varnish effect on the cover...no? Well, you'll just have to buy the album then.
Our real reason for a weekend in Brighton wasn't RSD at Resident - great shop that it is - it was to see Sendelica play the Prince Albert, with C.P. Lee as support (no, they didn't play the pier unless they nipped down to play the slots). A great set, with new drummer Joe taking no prisoners as he drove them mercilessly through some live favourites as well as a track from their new album, 'Lilacs' - can't wait to see them at the Lucid Dream festival in Wurzburg
TO RSD OR NOT RSD?
Suddenly realised that next Saturday we'll be away from home but remarkably near a very good record shop.
I really dislike what RSD has become but do I go out of my way to avoid the shop, which I'd normally call in on, do I call in after the morning rush has died down or do I make an effort to get there reasonably early (queueing from 4am is definitely not an option)?
Epilogue....got to Resident reasonably early - I was number 201 in the queue! Took about two hours to get into the shop, but then another near-three hours to get from the door to the counter - was this journey really necessary? Of course not and as I thawed out later, I swore (once again) never to queue up again
...BUT...on reflection, if I'd realised how bloody cold it was going to be and I'd brought something to listen to while standing around...Resident had really good stocks of everything I was interested in (I only missed out on the Arthur Brown reissue), the staff there were very helpful, although it felt like there was room for a couple more behind the counter and a couple less keeping the crowd calm. I know it's too late for RSD to be anything other than a money-making exercise now, but one thought for the future - buyers are already limited to one copy of any RSD release, what about limiting us to a maximum of 20 records too? Surely no-one other than an ebayer dealer would begrudge that as a limit?
Liz has been checking out the price of t-shirts at a gig by a band that has been known to top the album charts but will remain unnamed for the purposes of this bit of blogging (and because I don't want everyone to know she's much trendier than me and goes to young peoples' gigs)- and they're £20 each! We only print 50 or so shirts at a time and charge a fiver for them at FdM gigs, and with a following wind even we can break even on that; sod vinyl, I reckon the future is cotton
If you're a sucker for punishment, you can hear Roger Nicholls trying to get some sense out of me on his 'Imaginarium' show on Rock Radio (http://rock-radio.co.uk/schedule/) at 1pm on Thursday (April 6th); at least he plays some good music
INDEPENDENT LABEL MARKET
Really enjoyed Saturday's market at Spitalfields...picked up some Bevis Frond reissues, met a few old mates from the members club, and then hit the London Brewers market (conveniently running in the same place) with Craig, Kev and my two lads; not entirely sure that drinking cans of some godforsaken 9% IPA with Chris and Nick at 2.30 in the morning at home while singing Queen's greatest hits was such a good call
...arrived today - looking rather wonderful, even though it's not on vinyl - can't wait to dive in
ALDI'S MOST WANTED
Aldi were selling £60 record players on legs for Mothers Day; no idea what they were like - although I might hazard a guess - but they're now on ebay for £100+!
INDEPENDENT LABEL MARKET
Of more appeal to me than RSD is the Independent Label Market at London's Spitalfields on April 1st - I probably won't buy much there either but it's a lot more fun than queueing in the rain and, with the London Brewers Market running alongside it....
The 2017 list looks less than exciting - not enough to get me out of bed at 4 o'clock in the morning on a Saturday, anyway - although The Pretty Things' French 7" set would be rather nice! I'm assuming the Floyd early stuff will be released as an enormous vinyl box-set just after we've cracked and bought it all on CD; meanwhile, one more version of 'Interstellar Overdrive' doesn't really do it for me. ...and Toblerones have got smaller.
BARMY ARMY, BARMY ARMY....
I don't have a bucket-list (other than needing to buy a new bucket sometime) but, if I did, seeing Engalnd play a test abroad would be on it - Liz and I managed to see the first ODI game against the West Indies last week - a great day, although Liz's question when we took the last Windies wicket, "where's everybody going?" suggests some of the finer points of the game may have been lost on her
THERE'S ONLY ONE WAY TO SETTLE IT....
...yes, I really should get back to work
MOLOKO+ COMEBACK GETS OUT-OF-HAND
I thought the songs on the lathe-cut were excellent and the news that the band are reforming this summer was icing on the cake, but they've now spawned a new fashion trend
VERA LYNN, VERA LYNN
so Dame Vera is about to release an album celebrating her 100th birthday...a bit of a cheat, as her vocals are
from many decades ago...but never mind, it's an excuse for me to mention 'Robyn Hitchcock's 'The Yip Song' and its refrain of, "Vera Lynn, Vera Lynn" - got to be one of my top 10 favourite songs.
BATT OUT OF HELL
One of the lowlights from a trip to the London Victoria record fair with Craig Palmer - an LP of Mike Batt synth covers of very old English songs; it seemed a good idea at the time, turns out it wasn't
AN EXAMPLE TO US ALL
Nick Saloman has very kindly sent me a home demo of a track that didn't quite make it onto 'Example 22', for inclusion on the free compilation CD that everyone attending the Lucid Dreams festival will get on the Friday evening. The CD's coming together rather nicely, looks like every artist playing will have a track on it.
A SANDWICH AFTER MY OWN HEART
Discussing the really important stuff with Static Caravan's Geoff Dolman today, turns out we're in complete agreement that a cheese sandwich should consist of cheese and bread - no rocket, no chilli marmalade jam, no....anything else.
I've had a seak preview of Kris Gietkowski's album of Egg covers and I've got to say I'm impreseed - it's the first time I've risked a two-colour vinyl pressing and the pressing plant are doing a great job of it - I asked for a 'poached egg' look and while it looks a little undercooked and the yolk's taken a bit of a beating, it's still bloody good!
AN EGG-CITING FUCHSIA
sorry, The Sun's chief sub has been doing a night shift here - but by a strange coincidence, and thanks to Roger Beard, I've found a fascinating link between the bands responsible for two of my favourite albums from the late 60s/early 70s - Egg and Fuchsia, both of whom will happen to feature in some way in FdM releases this year; I won't say any more on this at the moment, but maybe I can find a way to share something that probably defines the 'wilfully obscure' aspect of Fruits de Mer that we set out to achieve back in 2008.
A STICKY LABEL KIND OF DAY
I seem to have spent most of the day printing, trimming and sticking labels on poly sleeves to house things that only FdM club members who order the April releases early will get to see - if you're not a club member, you don't know what you'll be missing! (and if you're already buying most FdM releases when they come out, you really ought to become a club member)
SOME DAYS/WEEKS ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS
...and the last couple of days have taken a turn for the better, with the April test pressings arriving and all sounding very good, a couple of silly freebies for early customers (no, not yet!) coming together, an August gig in London confirmed and discussions with some new bands progessing really well
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO CDs?
Andy Bracken and I were discussing the demise of CDs over the New Year - they were always disposable and downloads/streaming seems to be killing them off, but they do have their uses...they're cheap to produce, you can pack a lot of music into a small space and if they're priced accordingly...well, we were getting quite nostalgic for them! A poor substitute for vinyl, of course, but you'll see a few CD releases coming from FdM over the next year or two - if/when/where a vinyl release just isn't financially-viable (like the Kopf Musik triple CD - over three hours of music would mean a 5LP set and a £40+ price tag!)
Just ordered a copy of a double LP from Nick Leese at Heyday; put together by Bob Stanley from St. Etienne, it's an intriguing mix of classic and obscure early 70s UK prog (or maybe it's psych?) and if the tracks I've never heard are as good as the ones i know, it should be damn-good
Future Publishing have bought the Teamrock magazines for a reported £800,000; they should know what they're doing - they sold the magazines to Teamrock four years ago - for £10m! It looks like pretty good news for all concerned
EVERYTHING MUST GO
is it me, or is it the most ridiculous poster you see in shop windows this time of year..."everything must go" - presumably for the rest of the year, shop owners display stuff they don't really want to sell and snatch it back off you when you take it to the check-out?
We've just got back from visiting Andy Bracken and his missus Cathy in the US of America over New Year. Great to see them both again; we saw the 'MASSAGE KARATE' sign outside a shopping mall - it probably related to two separate stores, but we liked to think not. Flying visit to Fairfax's excellent Record & Tape Exchange on our way back to the airport, purchases included a 1969 LP by Ray Brown ('Just Ray Brown') produced by David Axelrod - reviews are mixed, but Axelrod and a 30-piece orchestra suggests it's going to be worth a listen
ACTIVE LISTENER TO STOP LISTENING
Sorry to hear Nathan Ford is calling it a day with The Active Listener - he's been a great supporter of obscure, independent and needy bands and labels over the years - and will be sorely missed
Hard to believe Team Rock has gone under, taking Classic Rock magazine, PROG and over 70 staff with it. Surely to god someone will at least pick up on Classic Rock (I cannot believe it was trading at a loss), although it's bloody hard to breathe new life into a magazine when the previous publisher has switched off the life support system.
3 FOR ALL
a Fruits de Mer release featured on BBC Radio 3? Not yet, but there's a strong rumour that one will be next month - more gloating as and when
The Chemistry Set are auctioning one of their handful of 'ultimate' box-sets to help fund their next recording session; I'm hoping it does well because I've got my fingers crossed they'll want to release the results of the session on FdM in 2017! You can check it out on ebay
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
I lashed out on a full page ad in Shindig! to promote the December releases - only to realise (too late) that any reviews will be in the following issue; as usual, I peaked a bit early
WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY
The members exclusive Moloko+ lathe-cut is featured in RC's '101 records to make you money in 2017' list - and we haven't even sent them out yet!
Spent a good few hours at the Independent Label Market in London - didn't buy a great deal but came up with a couple of angles for possible FdM involvement in 2017 and I did get to meet the quietly legendary johnny Trunk - what a nice man
SO WHAT'S ON YOUR SECRET SANTA LIST?
Mine includes the Grobschnitt 'Solar Movie' and Wolfgang Voigt 'Gas' box-sets, but the Pink Floyd extravaganza is probably pushing things too far...I wonder whether it's selling well, or whether it'll be discounted in the new year? The 'Early Flights' 10 CD set is on ebay for under £100 and is a bit more tempting
Finally got to see the remake; with a cast including Bill Nighy and Toby Jones, I thought they'd be able to do justice to the wonderful TV series - how wrong I was (stupid boys)
I continue to discover reissues of albums from the 70s I'd never previously heard of, such 'Momento' by Bakery (Australian prog rock), Vinegar (German prog) and MacArthur (US prog); I tried to impress club member Till Wolff with these but, as usual, he already had them and then suggested several more that any self-respecting music fan should own - this is getting expensive!
if you enjoyed Scott's instrumental acoustic guitar CDs at Fruits de Mer's 2016 gigs, then this extremely-limited lathe-cut is an essential...
order it here
INDIE LABEL MARKET
A few of us are going to the label market at Spitalfields near Liverpool Street on Saturday, which just happens to share space with a London microbrewery festival! If you happen to be there, look out for a Magick Eye, a Mega Dodo, a Heyday and a Jack Ellister!
LED ZEP IN DUB(AI)
Just back from holiday - we spent a few days in Dubai, found a small number of vinyl albums in the Virgin Megastore (what else could anyone want to know about a few days spent in Dubai?); nothing of interest, except for a copy of Led Zep's 'Houses Of The Holy', which I had to buy simply because of the 'enhanced' cover
Take a look and listen to the latest single from the Soft Hearted Scientists - taken from their double CD 'Shiver Me Timbers'
BOOK HIM, DAMO
Who'd have thought we would end up with Damo Suzuki playing an FdM festival? Not me, that's for sure, but Can's legendary frontman will be in Wurzburg next May - what a bloody honour to have him headlining
GOODBYE TO ONE OF THE GREATS
Sad to hear of the demise of one of the great old men of music, hugely respected and responsible for one of those songs that will live on long after his death RIP Clive 'Grandad' Dunn
NOT TO MY EARS
Really pleased to have picked up this double CD for a bargain £3 from FOPP - early electronic sound experiments, including quite a few from the BBC; all rather random, but got to be worth a listen? Sadly, not more than once or twice for me - I really struggled to get to grips with anything beyond Tom Dissevelt, Attilo Mineo and Edgard Varese - but then again, my 'experimental' is others people's 'mainstream'
THE OTHER ALISTAIR COOKE
...but I am enjoying immensely a BBC box-set of CDs of Alistair Cooke's 'Letter From America' recordings. Wonderfully and so insightfully written, and then presented in that warm, measured, reassuring tone that could make even the worst news palatable
TRADE MARK OF QUALITY
What is FdM doing with the TMOG logo? All will be revealed next year
New 12" by John Riley is now on sale on TOR Records. I mention it because: a - it's very good b - it's the first time I've been asked to give a quotable review of a record, which i did and it made its way onto a cover sticker - and my ego is fragile enough to be proud of that
Called in on the local Tiger store - it's a bit like Poundland for people with more money than sense; bizarrely, they had a batch of pic discs of Spinal Tap's 'Break Like The Wind', which I stared at while they played Heinz's 'Just Like Eddie' on the Tannoy; just another Saturday in Kingston
Scoured a few towns on a recent trip with Liz to see a few friends in Dorset and Cornwall; came back with - as you might expect - a Chilean pressing of the first album by Focus
MORE STOB ART IS ON ITS WAY
Sainsburys introduced their own die-cast toy trucks recently - at an extortionate £4 a time. I was happy to ignore them until they halved the price of a load of their toys this week (yes, I know, anyone in their right mind would continue to ignore them). anyway, I can see a few more members club prizes coming up before Christmas
A BRUCEY BONUS
Villa's first away win in over a year and now back-to-back wins - if that's not a cause for celebration...well, you must come from Reading or Fulham. Steve Bruce may not be our saviour, but we're at least four points better off than we would have been without him. Not long now to the local derby...
TILL THERE WAS YOU
Latest vinyl arrivals at FdM Towers are recommendations from club member Till Wolff - a compilation of tracks by demented 60s German garage band The Dukes and an early 70s krautrock album by Prof. Wolfff (no relation) that I'd never heard of but is full of Novalis keyboard flourishes
TANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
I've set up a link on our SHOP page to sell the last of our Fruits de Mer tank-tops just in time for the frost and snow to arrive - I mean, they're the perfect Christmas gifts for your wife or loved one
Terrific day at the Derby festival, curated by Andy from The Telephones - really good to see so many friends from Dr Sardonicus and Games For May, mixed in very nicely with mates of the local bands that were playing and an escape party from Kozfest! 11 bands in 11 hours must be some kind of record but amazingly everyone stuck to their time slots, set up at lightning speed and coped without soundchecks - great organising by Paul Kirkley, a really good atmosphere and excellent real ale - let's hope it becomes an annual event
So Liz and i book into a Derby hotel on Friday night in readiness for the following day's Dionysus festival, walk across the road to the nearest pub...and The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown are playing! Liz first saw Arthur on-stage in 1967 (sorry Liz!) and he's still as mad as he was then - great voice, great act, great band, great evening!
My current quest is trying to pick up copies of the original Brain label albums, but the yellow Japanese label versions. I haven't found a list of what was released in this format, so it's no more than a minor obsession at the moment, but it keeps me off the streets for a few hours of the week. If you happen to have a list, then I'd really appreciate a copy, although my bank balance might not as a result
That's Roberto di Matteo, the latest Villa boss to be sent packing. It's easy to be wise after the event, but a club that's been through, and played, so much crap over the last few years, has a rich but completely inexperienced owner who isn't used to losing at anything, probably needs an ugly brute (or Bruce) of a manager to get back onto some sort of steady footing. Meanwhile, i continue to pretend i don't care much
HE'LL HAVE TO GO
Why is it that the only pristine albums in the local charity shops in town seem to be by Jim Reeves?
So I'm having a quick scan round the local Aldi craft section in case anything interesting has been added in the last few weeks (yes, i know, very sad) and there's a large box with the word 'whelks' on there; well, what's a man to do? more news soon, perhaps...
So Liz and i slope off to Crete for a late summer holiday and I finally find a holiday town (Chania) with a proper record shop (I also found some great bottled beers from Cretan microbreweries but that's another hangover); sadly, the store owner was too interested in his PC to show any interest in a customer and I failed to come away with any rare-as-hen's-teeth Greek prog vinyl but i did buy a reissue of Agitation Free's 2nd album, on a German label, which was odd but nice. I also found a second-hand shop with a bunch of rather knackered-looking and dire 80s/90s albums - priced, as the lady working there told us, "according to discogs"...oh good grief
DESERT ISLAND FISH
I'm trying out a new section on the website, with artists loosely connected with the label answering some obvious questions from me, and then adding in a few of their own; there's a link on the home page contents bar, but it'll take me a while to add it in elsewhere and to build up a decent number of Q&As
For the first time in many, many months, I've had a couple of days spare to do a tiny bit of sorting out of my sprawling and totally-disorganised vinyl collection. It's now only 99% disorganised, which is a start. Part of the fun of sifting through the chaos is finding records i didn't know i had, or had completely forgotten about - so far including a copy of the Chameleon Church LP with Chevy Chase on drums, Neu 2 and 3 on an old Spanish label, the Led Zep Live On Blueberry Hill double, a pristine set of three BBC transcription discs (which unfortunately tell the Eric Clapton story, mainly post-Layla)...but then i start to worry that I can't find my Sandy Denny box-set, Our Daughter's Wedding flexi, Orb 12"s...on balance, I was probably better off in a state of utter confusion
...10 days on, and I can't find ANY of my flexidiscs - did I ever have any in the first place? (I know I bloody did - i used to be 'king of the flexis' when I worked for IPC in the late 70s - or maybe that was just what my girlfriends referred to me as)
DIONYSUS MEANS WINE, FERTILITY AND RITUAL MADNESS
...it also means a one-day festival in Derby on October 8th, with Sendelica, The Telephones, The Honey Pot and Earthling Society, amongst the bands appearing; Liz and I are hoping to make it as it looks like a really good line-up (although we'll probably give the fertility and ritual madness a miss)
BUT IS IT MUSIC...?
I thought a record on something other than black vinyl was pretty racey stuff, but it seems that there are few boundaries to what can be achieved these days, although god knows what happens to sound quality on some of them - here are 25 examples that are beyond FdM...
A CRAB CASTING OFF ITS OLD SHELL
...very slowly. I'm gradually updating the FdM website, with the kind help of Paul Meggs. It was a bit clunky eight years ago and at best it's stood still since then - so Paul is making some gentle improvements, recognizing that little things like 'mobile' might just be relevant in 2016, even if I'm not. Please bear with me as we go through this shedding of the old skin - not that the new skin will look very different, but it should be a bit more user-friendly
THEY WISH THEY WERE THERE
Astralasia were unable to play the 14th Dream festival but they go together with Chris Hillman, boss of their real record label (Magick Eye) and put together a special pack of vinyl, CDs and a poster from Marc Swordfish's personal stash, which 25 festivalgoers were able to lay claim to on the Saturday of the festival
I AX YOU
(yes, the Daily Mirror sub-editors are moonlighting at FdM Towers)...meanwhile, 20 very lucky people at the 14th Dream festival got hold of a copy of Ax Genrich's 'Fretboard Jungle' double LP, signed before his set by Ax
ANOTHER SIDE TO ZIGGY
but only the one - everyone attending the 14th Dream got a free copy of Sendelica's 'Ziggy' single - but it was an exclusive one-sided white label copy, with only 200 pressed - especially for the festival. Of course it has two sides really, anything less would challenge the second law of thermodynamics (yes, I made that up) but only one side is cut with music
WE CAME, WE SAW, WE GOT BANNED...
..after complaints by by the residents the other side of the river to our outdoor stage at the 14th Dream festival, so we all retreated to the Cellar Bar, drank it dry and listened to more great live music there. What a terrific weekend - lots of old faces, including mine, some brilliant sets, crowds round the FdM stalls (we're so hell-bent on world-domination, we set up two - one run by Kev and myself, one by my lad Nick and his girlfriend Molly, while Craig dished out all the freebies and did a passable imitation of Liz while she was otherwise engaged becoming a grandmother for the 5th time!
My thanks to everyone who came along, drank, played, paid, organised and generally made it all such good fun. And yes, we're going to do it all over again next year.
SO THAT's WHAT 150 FESTIVAL GOODIE-BAGS LOOK LIKE
all-aboard for the 14th Dream of Dr. Sardonicus festival in Cardigan - doors open at the Cellar Bar at 7pm on Friday.
Goodie-bags are packed, along with lots of Fruits de Mer Records festival specials (including lathe-cuts, posters, t-shirts and one or two surprises), Friday night quiz and raffle prizes, not to mention exclusives from bands, kitchen-sinks, etc......looking forward to seeing everyone - sadly Liz can't make it this year as one of her daughters is due to give birth about the time the first pint of Mantle best bitter is poured, but she'll be back for 2017!
THE SECRET LIFE OF FdM's STUDIO GURU
Fran Ashcroft is FdM's go-to bloke for production, engineering, mastering and all things musically technical or technically musical - but long before he set up Happy Beat Studios in Liverpool he was singer/guitarist with The Monos in the late 70s and now some of their studio and live excursions are seeing the light of day.
Find out more
INDIE LABEL MARKET
...returns to Spitalfields in London on Saturday (July 23), along with the local beer festival - two very good reasons to be in town at the weekend.
MAGIC BUS - STOPPING AT PUTNEY
...and from Spitalfields, it's onto the Half Moon on Sunday for the excellent Magic Bus, fresh from Games For May, together with a mystery support band
DATES FOR YOUR 2017 DIARY
OK, so you haven't got one but if you did have, you'd want to put a line through May 5 and 6 - and check your passport is in working order; more news soon
THE ABBREVIATED SHS
Here's the new Soft Hearted Scientists double CD 'Golden Omens' in 7 1/2 minutes - but of course, you need to hear the whole thing and you can order it direct from the band at www.softheartedscientists.com
BIRDS OF FIRE
I've been reacquainting myself with the Mahavishnu Orchestra LP, which is still remarkable over 40 years on from when it was first released. I hadn't heard their first album when i read a glowing review in one of the music papers (probably by Steve Lake in Sounds) and went out and bought a copy; nothing could have prepared me for the opening bars of 'Birds Of Fire' and the album went on to stun, mesmerise, astonish and overwhelm me. It still sounds as fresh, exciting and groundbreaking as ever
EUROVISION SONG COMPILATIONS
As the three 14th Dream FdM compilation CDs start to take final shape, I'm vaguely impressed with quite how far and wide I've ventured in pulling these together, without ever leaving the comfort of FdM Towers...bands from Spain, Russia, Finland, Macedonia, Switzerland, Germany, Italy and, for added authenticity, Australia are kindly providing tracks - not to mention England, Wales, USA, Indonesia and Ramsgate. There'll be about 3 1/2 hours of music to pick your way through as you find your way back from Cardigan (that's if you're going in the first place)
QUOTE OF THE DAY
George Martin describing The Temperance Seven, whose No.1 hit in 1961 he produced..."nine alcoholics"
60s PERUVIAN INSTRUMENTAL PSYCH
my latest find, a track on Youtube; really chuffed when i found it, even more pleased when i found it cheap on ebay; if you want to know what it is, you'll have to check out the facebook group I run
The 14th DREAM GOODIE-BAGS
I think it's just about finalised now - with a whopping TWELVE discs scheduled to be included - including DAY 1 and DAY 2 compilation CDs from Fruits de Mer (no FdM giveaways or stalls on the Friday - we want to settle in and enjoy the evening along with everyone else!); 12 CDs? We must be mad, as must the bands that are providing them and VP Online, the excellent Scottish duping house we use and who do the festival CDs at a very special price
CARDIGAN - THE CARNIVAL IS COMING TO TOWN
a few tasty titbits of information regarding the 14th Dream...
- i've just taken delivery of a healthy supply of Space Ritual 'Sonic Savages' CDs, courtesy of Chris Purdon, sufficient to include one on every goodie-bag
- Jim Jenkin (aka Sheepshanks) is providing CD/DVD double sets for the goodie-bags; he hasn't got enough for every bag so he's making up the numbers with copies of a privately-pressed 7"! so some lucky bags will be very, very lucky indeed
- Permanent Clear Light have given me permission to include a newly-recorded track by the band - a spellbinding slice of psych - on one of the FdM-compiled CDs - very nice indeed.
Oh, and the annual beer and food festival is on the Saturday, about 50 yards down the road from our venue
WE CAME, WE SAW, WE RAN OUT OF BEER (AGAIN)
...and burger buns, apparently - what is the Half Moon coming to? Never mind, we had a great time at Games for May, we hope you did too (even if you didn't come along). All four bands played excellent sets - from acoustic psych to classic Canterbury prog, to psychedelic rock to spacerock - a pretty good summation of what FdM's all about. Thanks to the bands, to Mega Dodo's John Blaney for organising everything and taking the financial risk (and, quite possibly, a bit of pain) and to everyone who supported the event - not least the FdM stall 'crew' - Liz, Kev and my two lads - Chris and Nick.
A MOMENT OF ENLIGHTENMENT
A mate emailed me with a link to a soon-to-be-released limited-edition vinyl box-set, the sort of thing that ought to be my cup of tea; he followed up by asking whether I'd taken the plunge, and i replied that I hadn't - the sample tracks sounded pretty good, but i just couldn't imagine myself taking the records out of their sleeves and playing them in preference to maybe 200 albums that i already have; this rule could be a useful way of curbing my future spending, so i'm going to do my best to forget it before the weekend
...and she's holding a record - need i say more? (Thanks to connie for the photo)
SCOTT WILLIAM URQUHART
I'm really pleased for FdM fan Scott, who also happens to be a bloody talented acoustic guitarist; he has produced a CD which we'll be giving away as an exclusive to everyone attending Games For May, and Gideon Coe played a track from it on his BBC 6Music show last night!
"HEAVY PSYCH GLUE-ATHON"
...that's how Mojo describes Vibavoid's 'Rhienflow' track in the latest issue, going on to say, "...see them at the Fruits de Mer label's bash The 14th Dream of Dr. Sardonicus at the Cellar Bar, Cardigan from August 5-7, where they'll be joined by Twink from The Pretty Things and many more!". you can't say fairer than that!
AS ONE BILLIONAIRE MAKES HIS EXCUSES AND CLOSES THE DOOR BEHIND HIM, ANOTHER ONE COMES A-KNOCKING
sorry, nothing to do with music but, after the most miserable year in my 50-odd years of supporting Aston Villa, maybe we have our first bit of good news in some time - a new owner. The new consortium is fronted is a Chinese businessman who says he wants to make Villa the biggest club in China; quite honestly, coming out of the next season as the biggest club in Brum would be a good start.
A BIG HELLO TO CAVE RECORDS...
Cave Records (UK)
FdM's newest UK stockist is an independent record shop in the heart of Shrewsbury, run by local musician Joseph Cave. It's great to have Cave Records on-board - their first supply of fishy vinyl will arive later this week; do check out their website, and if you're in the vicinity, call in
FdM's GAMES FOR MAY STALL
I've been pulling toether everything I can for our stall - lathe-cut 8"s, black vinyl copies of July, Crystal Jacqueline, Sendelica and Claudio Cataldi singles, interesting bits and pieces from The Chemistry Set's 'Endless More And More' album releases, some white labels of various things, £5 Games For May t-shirts plus, of course, all the freebies - everything will be first-come-first-served and everything will be cash-only (there's a cashpoint next door!)
saw them at Ronnie Scott's - I said it should be interesting at the very least; it was, but not spellbinding - the band didn't really try to engage the audience - I almost felt like I was intruding on a studio session; technically-strong but didn't add much to the albums, for me anyway. Quite funny when the compere introducing the band did his usual, '"please keep conversations to a minimum, and turn your phones off....", and then added, "...not that you'll be able to heard them with this band"
THRILLER vs LED ZEP IV
I'm taking an anorakian interest in the vinyl rack at our local Sainsbury's; I wonder why Led Zep IV is £12 but Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' is £18? both are bog-standard reissues, black vinyl, gatefold sleeves - presumably it's predicted levels of demand amongst supermarket shoppers
although it's wonderful to see so much vinyl around in shops compared to just a few months ago, i do find the amount of dull reissues pretty disappointing. One of great benefits of vinyl albums was/is the 12" format and the scope it gives for creating something visually stunning, but so many of the reissues are carbon copies of the originals, with a '180gsm vinyl' sticker added, or perhaps coloured vinyl here or there.
It really wouldn't cost a lot to add in a poster or two, a few photo prints, maybe turn a single sleeve into a gatefold, that sort of thing, and interest us 'more mature' vinyl junkies as well as newcomers
SPITALFIELDS, HERE I COME
Due to circumstance beyond my control (involving a friend, a shower and a multiple fracture), I had to give the latest Victoria Record Fair a miss, so Spitalfields market will have to fill in nicely on Friday - I think a bit of vinyl therapy is in order
CHEMISTRY SET - GOD BLESS THOSE "PSYCHEDELIC VETERANS"
so described by Mojo's Phil Alexander on his Planet Rocks radio show, the band's latest album - 'The Endless More And More' - was Phil's album of the week on April 23rd and he played two tracks from it; you can listen in at
NO NEED TO JACK IT IN
Congratulations to Jack Ellister, whose debut album has finally seen the light of day on Friends of the Fruit; it sold out long, long ago but the poor guy has gone through hell getting the album pressed without faults and flaws. If you've missed out on the vinyl edition, you can still get hold of it on CD - check out Jack's site - www.jackellister.com
SOMEONE HAS RECEIVED THEIR CHEMISTRY SET BOX-SET
Thanks for all the feedback from the club members who were able to buy a set from me before i ran out - generally positive reactions (ho, ho), with a hint of sympathy (yes, i really do need help).
It could become a bit of a collector's item - a set has aready sold on ebay for £282 here
this evening, I shall be mostly drinking Neu!, courtesy of the Orbit Brewery in London (thanks to Nick Watt for the introduction). It's named after the legendary German duo and is a lovely pint - and it's rather appropriate that i tried it for the first time at today's Independent Label Market and London Brewers Market - a magical combination as a record fair gradually turns into a real ale festival as the day unfolds.
Where else can you pick up an album of Lebanese psych rock and a six-pack of motorik beer? Looking forward to the next event already.