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blogs are so 'last year', but then again Fruits de Mer is so last century it's as close to cutting-edge as we're ever likely to get (unless the HRT starts to kick in)...so this is the FdM blog and you're welcome to it.

(it's all supposed to be related to music but sometimes I lose the plot, with typically uninspiring results)

LITTLE DOES SHE KNOW...

Liz is buying me this Brian Auger 5LP set for Christmas as a surpise present.
I haven't told her yet.
But at under £70 it's an absolute steal...honest.


WHEN NIK MET STAY

Sad news that Nik Turner has died; he'd not been well for some time but was able to make it to the recent Acid Mothers Temple/Sendelica gig in the Cellar Bar and I was reminded of his love for the Cellar Bar when I saw this photo of Nik meeting Stay at a Dr. Sardonicus festival a few years back (the 16th Dream, I think).


CHRISTMAS COMES EARLY IN THE YES AND MACCA HOUSEHOLDS

I thought a 21 LP set of Yes gigs from 1972 - 'only' 1,972 of them at just short of $500 a time was a bit excessive, but that was before I saw an ad for a Paul McCartney EIGHTY x 7" singles set - 3,000 of them, retailing at £735 (plus P&P!). Assuming they all sell - and I'm sure Macca knows his market - that's over £2m in revenue. Blimey.


GOOD AND BAD TRIPADVISOR REVIEWS PENDING

Discovered a nice, hidden tap room in Lanzarote on a recent holiday, but the takeaway afterwards was a let-down - too many feathers and little bones for my liking,


THE ART OR SCIENCE OF FdM CATALOGUE NUMBERING

...there isn't any.
I've been asked why FdM releases don't always come out sequentially - good question. Sometimes - quite often - it's down to me not getting my act together, but at least sometimes it's because I have to commit to catalogue numbers long before a release actually appears; some projects take longer than others to see the light of day, vinyl schedules are crazy and a test pressing problem can add weeks/months to a schedule while CDs and lathe-cuts can come together remarkably quickly.
...so there.


SWORDFISH RECORDS

Spent the weekend in Birmingham and was able to fit in a quick visit to one of my favourite shops in the area - Swordfish has been running for over 40 years. Managed to pick up a couple of nice, sealed reissues of the hugely-underrated Al Simones' LPs, which was nice.

Must visit The Diskery next time.


ANOTHER BIT OF BRUM HISTORY

The Black Sabbath bridge and bench - the boys used to spend many a Sunday afternoon fishing for roach and chub off the bridge in the late 60s (not really)


THE PIG'S TROTTERS

Also paid a visit to Birmingham's wonderful meat and fish market at the weekend, and was reminded of this cracking instrumental by The Small Faces...

VIILA PERK

The main reason for the trip was to see Villa play Brentford, a 'treat' that had been rapidly losing its appeal on the back of our recent dismal run of form. However, having seen their manager sacked, the team played as if a weight had been lifted from their collective shoulders, romped home 4-0 and were 3-0 up within the first 15 minutes!
Liz managed to capture the first goal - just two minutes into the game - and immediately sent the video to our 10-year old soccer-mad granddaughter; what she hadn't noticed on the video was granddad screaming, "fookin' 'ell" in disbelief as the ball hit the back of the net.

SMALL VICTORIES

Had a good day recently - I went to Halfords to have a brake light replaced and the guy working there told me there was a 20 minute wait and I should, “sit over there next to the old bloke”.


Dr. ATMO RETURNS!

If you're a fan of the ambient techno/EDM movement of the 90s, you'll remember Dr.Atmo's two classic albums with Pete Namook (Silence I&II); well, by sheer chance I noticed on Facebook that he's recording again, and has a new album out called 'Seefeld'.


OOPS, WRONG DIONYSUS

Great feedback on the Dionysus festival in Derby, organised by The Telephones and headlined by The Honey Pot; sadly, we couldn't be there as we had sloped off to Rhodes for a late blast of summer sun - but we did find the next best thing


I'LL DRINK TO THAT

...and I also found a very acceptable bottled beer, courtesy of the Corfu Brewery


CRYSTAL JACQUELINE BAND/THE TELEPHONES/ICARUS PEEL'S ACID REIGN LIVE

Three FdM-related bands will be playing at the Exeter Phoenix on November 12th. Just £12 a ticket, you can buy yours here


BIG HERO 1

Remember SEN3? We launched their Friends of the Fish LP at Ronnie Scott's a couple of years back, groovy buggers that we are); now main man Max O'Donnell has a new band - Big Hero - and a new LP - 'Return of the Sapien'; it's excellent jzz-infused instrumental rock and it's out now on Max's own label. You can hear it and buy it here


THE FIRST FdM STALL?

I recently found this great photo on Twitter, nicked it and posted it on the FdM facebook page, suggesting it harked back to the first Fruits de Mer stall at a Dr. Sardonicus festival - got a hundred likes in a day!!
It's actually taken from a market in Ealing in 1955; the first time we set up an FdM stall was at a gig by The Flaming Gnomes in Hertford in 2009 (I think); we sold one copy of the Flaming Gnomes 7".


BANGIN'

Just got back from a week in Ibiza - went back to Ushuaia for the first time in three years, meeting up with some of the kids - and the DJs are still playing the same sodding record (note:not RECORDS) there as last time (the five hour mix).
Still, good fun - although I came away from the club with 48 hour flu, which somewhat buggered up the last two days of our holiday

AN ABSENCE OF VINYL

One thing Ibiza isn't seeing is a vinyl revival - other than a handful of charity shop rejects at a hippy market, I saw no vinyl anywhere - although apparntly there is one shop in Ibiza Town that sells some house 12"s.
Given that a bottle of Heineken can cost anything from 8-20 euros in a club, I would have thought the likes of Cafe Del Mar and Club Mambo would have been ripe for a range of overpriced reissues on mad vinyl colours, but maybe not


CORN'n'CUSTARD

Even more first-time successes/failures in the back garden....the squashes look and taste great, especially the custard squash, the corn looks mad (they are supposed to be multicoloured) and tastes like corn-flavoured pebbles - should have picked them long, long ago


PEPPER CORN

More first-time successes/failures in the back garden....padron peppers - they grow like weeds but once you've eaten padron peppers three days running, the novelty wears off; sweetcorn - they grew like triffids but I planted them in shallow pots and the sweetcorns produced are pretty underwhelming - I'll try harder and plant deeper next year.

This is Percy Thrower signing off...


YOU CAN'T BEAT A BIT OF CLASSIC JAPANESE PROG

...especially when it's reissude by an Austrian label.
Once again. Juno.co.uk deliver the goods click here


FLOYD LIVE, TO BOOT

Juno come up with another live Floyd album with dubious origins... click here


NEW CJ LP

Crystal Jacqueline has a new album - 'Two Moons' - out on the Billywitch label. You can listen to it - and buy it - here


ANOTHER SINGLE I'LL NEVER OWN..."

...or at least that's what I thought when I saw a photo of this Belgian pic sleeve single by The Small Faces and posted it on Facebook with that message.
Or so I thought...
My post was seen by Steve Greenhalgh and Steve Kelly from Cardigan's Cellar Bar and they set about tracking a copy sown - a pristine one at that - and Steve G presented me with it, hidden within the joke sleeve Steve K had conjured up - i was a bit overcome - what a bloody love thing to do.


MASHED POTATO SQUASH?

Oh yes - they've grown like crazy in our garden - and they are bloody delicious. Pick them when they're the size of an overgrown tennis ball, chop them into cubes, boil them for 5-10 mins, chuck a bit of butter over them and they really do taste like top quality mash.


CHATEAU FRUITS DE MER

For the first time ever, it looks like the grapevine in our back garden is going to produce a load of ripe grapes! I suspect the grapes won't have much taste, but it might be argued the same is true for me.


A SARDONICUS OF A HANGOVER

...but I'm sure normal service will resume very soon

I THOUGHT I THAW A PIDDY AWFUL FILM

We escaped the heat and visited our local cinema to see the new Thor film, 'Love And Thunder'; perhaps we should have sensed a problem looming when we were the only people in the cinema.
Liz and I rarely agree on films but about 20 mins in, we turned to each other and agree that it was truly awful and easily the worst Marvel film we'd ever seen...and it went from bad to worse - Stan Lee will surely be rolling in his grave. The attempted humour is consistently cringingly smug - far worse than Will Ferrell at his most self-indulgent. Hemsworth is incapable of delivering a punchline...I could go on and on, but just AVOID.


EARLY ELTON, ANYONE?

I've been wrestling with my conscience - should I buy this LP? If it was recorded by almost anyone else, I probably would, but I do draw the line at the new Gilbert O'Sullivan album, despite the glowing review in Shindig.

UPDATE: I took the precaution of actually listening to excerpts from Elton's LP - that's £20 saved...a couple of interesting psych-tinged songs but the rest was pretty inoffensive pop that wouldn't be out of place on a Cook/Greenaway compilation.


SO NEAR AND YET NEARLY SO FAR

We sloped off for a bit of sun in Rhodes (no-one told me there was going to be a heatwave in England) and I confidently guided Liz through Heathrow to our departure gate, we had our passports checked, we were checked by BA staff through to the plane and were about to board when one more, wholly unnecessary check of our boarding cards revealed I was leading us onto a flight to Tel Aviv. Oh, how we laughed.

IT'S A FUNNY OLD WORLD...

...when you find yourself cheering for Novak Djokevic

NOTE TO SELF - MUST GO TO MORE GIGS

Other than the 18th Dream Festival, I haven't got tickets for any other gigs over the summer - I should be making up for two years lost due to covid - must do better.
First on the list is seeing The Honey Pot at the Wokingham Festival in late-August.

IS THIS A RECORD?

Hendrix's 'Are You Experienced', reissued on vinyl in the USA in 'ultra high qality' - and available in the UK from Juno Records for just...£179.99 (+P&P); sod me, I think this is round of vinyl inflation is getting a bit out of hand.. click here for full details


TD IN RHEIMS

Finally managed to pick up a copy of the Tangerine Dream RDS 2022 double LP - they still have plenty of copies - and only slightly disappointed to find that, contrary to the PR photo, the LPs aren't bigger than the sleeve


CHILL PLATTER

...while I was in Banquet Records, I also spotted clear vinyl copies of the KLF classic - not cheap, but as I only had a CD of it, I couldn't resist


NEVER SAY NEVER

I really dislike what RSD has become, although I secretly also hate it that I've never heard of over half the artists involved. That said, I did rather like the look/sound of the two Tangerine Dream June 18 releases - 'Alpha Centauri' with its bonus disc and the Reims live double LP - so when our local RSD emporium (Banquet in Kingston) posted a photo of their shop opening this morning with a queue of no more than 25, I thought a visit was just about worth the effort.
When I got there, the shop was empty - of people - but full of RSD releases, including restocks of many of the April batch. I picked up one of the TD albums and ordered the second, as copies hadn't arrived in time.
My feeling is there's going to be lots of RSD titles on sale from shops by mail order on Monday and quite a few flippers are going to be stuck with records they thought were going to make them rich beyond their wildest dreams.


HORROR EXPRESS

recently on the BBC, a Spanish production job starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and...Telly Savalas!
It was a fairly ponderous 70s Victorian horror film and then in the last 10 minutes we had aliens, zombies, a runaway train and an 'Italian Job' ending!
Quite what Telly and the Spanish crew were doing in it is still beyond me...


SO NEAR AND YET SO FAR

A weekend trip with mates to Amsterdam found us staying in a hotel about 30 metres from a interesting-looking record shop; sadly huges queues and delays at Heathrow and Schipol, combined with tickets for a two day rugby tournament and an urgent appointment in one of The Netherland's finest tap rooms meant it stayed 30 metres away throughout our stay; there's always next time...

ASTRAL MAGIC

I've just taken delivery of the excellent new LP from Santtu Laasko's Astral Magic, it's called 'Magical Kingdom'; while it's not released by Fruits de Mer, Santtu's guest-list on the recordings includes Jay Tausig, Gregory Curvey, Markku Helin and Anton Barbeau - and it's mastered by Eroc, so I think it might appeal to FdM fans;..click here for full details

"BETTER THAN THAT..."

Bit of a Fast Show moment yesterday - we set off to the local discount store to buy bubble wrap to pack copies of the new Chemistry Set LP and I came back with bottles of lager brewed in Istanbul and a stick of Bury black pudding (…and some bubble wrap)


LANZAROTE RECOGNISES THE MIGHTY CHEMISTRY SET

Nice to see Lanzarote has renamed its airport to help promote the new Chemistry Set LP, including its' epic track 'Self-Expression Trilogy', a tribute to the local artist Manrique


MARVEL'S MULTIVERSE MEETS TALES OF TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS

The new Dr. Strange film is only two hours long, which is pretty short by 2022 standards, but it didn't stop me being confused for almost all of it; it felt a bit like a film version of Yes' double LP - a non-stop assault on your senses, staggeringly impressive but impossible to follow and if I'd nipped out for a quick curry partway through I wouldn't have missed much; perhaps most confusing for me was what Patrick Stewart's Dr. Xavier character was doing in a cut-down version of Del Boy's yellow Reliant Robin


A ROLLING STONE GATHERS NO MOSS

...but a doddery OAP does. I didn't notice the sign as I set off down a set of steps in search of an arty photo of a bunch of crabs basking on a rock; I went arse-over-tit, scared off the crabs, nearly bust the camera and came up not so much smelling of roses but covered in seaweed.

Oh how we laughed.


RSD RESIDUE

I've been surprised - maybe a touch pleased - to see how many RSD 2022 releases have now appeared as mail order items from several record stores; maybe whole thing IS slowly imploding (assuming it's scientifically possible to implode slowly)

MUST HAVE BEEN SOMETHING I ATE, PART 3

Whatever it was, another mad night of dreams culminated in Andy Fairweather Low turning up at our gaff at 4am after a gig for a pre-arranged recording session; I don't know how it went as I woke up at this point.

ANDY FAIRWEATHER LOW

Good to see Andy and his band in fine form at the Half Moon recently. Andy looked as sharp as ever in his grey suit - although there was a hint of Fulton Mackay to his face (maybe even - a touch unfairly - of Jackie Wright, who will only be known to fans of the Benny Hill Show).


I'M NOT BITTER

One of the kids spotted this in a local supermarket, remembered another of my boring, "when I was a lad" stories and kindly bought me a few cans; Banks was our local brewery 50 years ago and Banks's Mild was my introduction to the joys of beer; good to see that it's still going strong, or not-so-strong, half a century on - wish I could say the same for me.


WHO NEEDS RSD?

I gave it a miss again this year - although I did scour eBay for the Sandy Denny home demos set, with depressingly fast and expensive responses - but picked this LP from the comfort of my own home - juno.co.uk deliver again!


CARAVAN CLUB

A productive (ie expensive) trip to Reading record fair, which had lots of stalls but rather less buyers than I expected - not that I'm complaining, but I think some of the stallholders were pretty disappointed. Anyway, I picked up a couple of live CDs by Caravan from Japan that were new to me, despite being recorded the best part of 50 years ago


CAN THE CAN

...not to mention three Can LPs that I couldn't ignore. Rest assured the Monster Movie LP is NOT an original! John Delany from Poptique prized the cash off me, having softened me up with stories of the Utrecht record fair and nickel plating at Boosey & Hawkes, all 'back in the day'.

SPITALFIELDS 0, READING 1

I thought it was time for a trip up to the smoke for a mooch around the record stalls at Spitalfields market - I have something that used to be called 'cash' burning a hole in my pocket - but some clever sod decided to move it on a week, so Plan B is a trip to Reading record fair, which might prove even more expensive.


REMEMBER THE FUTURE

Picture discs seem to be last year's thing, but this reissue of the Nektar album caught my eye - available now from Juno Records


THEY LIVE

nearly 35 years too late, I got to see John Carpenter's film, and what a bizarre mix of a film it is. 9 parts Carpenter low budget sci-fi and one part Rowdy Roddy Piper, who steps out of WWF for the lead role and then steps back partway through, playing out a completely irrelevelent 10 minutes WWF-in-a-back-alley fight scene, presumably because he could.
Still, it beat another episode of 'Vera'.


OH NO, NOT IBIZA AGAIN

We're returning to Ibiza this autumn; it has some great memories for us - getting engaged there, being part of a lock-in at Cafe del Mar, one of the kids getting married, an Ushuaia 'rave'; but this time, I was quietly looking for craft beer bars and record shops to check out when Liz told me some of our kids would be over there at the same time and we needed to book a table for everyone at Amnesia, Pasha or Ibiza Rocks; prices for tables START at about £100 a head - I'm now looking for the nearest IKEA 'cos I'm taking my own.


DOG YEARS

Rather nice to see both Sendelica and Fruits de Mer referenced in a review in latest issue of Electronic Sound magazine for the Timeshard retrospective set. I was a fan of the band in the 90s and recently bought the Cherry Red 'Planet Dog Years' CD set to relive those memories.


RUINFEST

Didn't get to see all the bands at Ruinfest, held in another cracking little Brighton venue that's one to return to, but the standout bands for me were Hotwax (what a way to start a day's music!) and Frank & Beans, who channelled Malcolm Mooney, Damo Suzuki and Jaki Leibezeit into a 2022 sound - a duo to look out for.


LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR

When the promoters are called Love Thy Neigbour and one of the bands is called the Byker Grove Fan Club, how can you go wrong?
We'll find out on Sunday when my lad Chris and I descend on the Hope & Ruin pub in Brighton for a one-day festival. I've no idea what we're letting ourselves in for, but with three scarily good pubs in the Evening Star, The Pond and Price Albert all within about 50 yeards of each other (not to mention the actual gig venue!), it could get very messy.

OLD DOG LEARNS NEW TRICKS

In the space of a few hours I've managed to get a new digital camera to take photos and a new wireless printer to print out - and since then I've plucked up the courage to use my credit card on my phone in public, and it worked! Technology? Kids' stuff.

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

Good to see Noddy and Super Yob enjoying each other's company in the last few days - who knows where it might lead, but there's no hiding the fact that time catches up with us all


STORM EUNICE IS EVEN WORSE THAN I THOUGHT

...as seen on BBC News this morning (in case you can't read the caption, it says 'Coventry').

My old oppo Andy Bracken is a Coventry lad and put it well when he commented, "blimey, the canal's up".


VALENTINE'S DAY SPECIAL

eBay had Sendelica's live bootleg vol 2 double CD set on sale for £79; a bit steep, you might think, but the seller was offering "free postage - in time for Valentine's Day" - which is nice.

HOW I LISTENED TO RADIO AS A KID

Hidden under the pillow in bed (the radio, not me), trying to make sense of what the more enlightened DJs on Radio 1 were playing, or Radio Geronimo when the signal was strong enough...so I was rather pleased to pick up an original in decent nick on eBay for 20 quid; doesn't work properly, of course, but then again neither do I.


HOW SOON WE FORGET

...seen in the local WORKS bookshop.

OUT WITH THE NEW, IN WITH THE OLD

My buying habits continue to be skewed towards reissues - an early Kraftwerk 'unofficial' double LP, Yardbirds '68 double LP, Please 68/69 compilation LP...although a new CD by El Universo is rather good and a Detroit Escalator Co double is on order...so I do occasionally admit the 21st century has started.

OLD McCANN'S ALMANACK

The latest issue of Record Collector looks at the year ahead, courtesy of Ian McCann ("Things That Won't Happen This Year"), and this is the prediction for June - Ian needs to be careful what he doesn't wish for...


HAPPY NEW YEAR

Here's to a year that turns out to a lot more sane/predictable/normal than the last couple have been.

Hoping you have a good one, whatever get thrown at you.

THE SHIP

I managed to pick up a pristine copy from Ben's Records in Guildford for just a fiver; it can sit beside the slighlty knacked promo copy I bought from the Diskery in Birmingham nearly 50 years ago (how come I can remember that?). A rather fine folk/folk rock album on the Elektra label.


THE JOY OF BREXIT

...or maybe good old-fashioned cock-ups, but a parcel of records intended for Sweden have gone missing courtesy of Parcelforce before they even left the UK; another one is getting close to its intended new home, but not without a 20 euro customs charge to the recipient for a parcel valued at 20 euros, while a third arrived without delay and without a customs charge - ludicrous.
Meanwhile, two promo CDs intended for DJs in Germany have been returned undelivered and 'unacceptable' while two large parcles of records heading for Germany got there within four days.

A NEW BAND OR THREE TO END THE YEAR

It's always good to find new bands that I can feature on an FdM label - Guranfoe are one such band, and seeing them play live in Brighton has given me thoughts about future FdM gigs; Wyndham Earl are another - recommended to me by Till Wolff - and add to that Tibetan Miracle Seeds, who are (as if you hadn't already guessed) from Scotland.

THREE BANDS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE

Brilliant gig at the Prince Albert in Brighton - GNOB + Guranfoe + Codex Serafini - all for 7 quid! Three great sets in the perfect venue - about 70 people in ther make it feel crowded and a ludicrously wide range of beers on tap.

We'll definitely be back - and I'd love someone to organise a Fruits de Mer gig there one day.
Look out for Guranfoe on a members club compilation CD early in 2022.

UTRECHT IF YOU WANT TO...

...this lad is not for trechting. By good coincidence, we decided not to go to November's record fair in Utrecht, but wait for April 2022 instead. I rescheduled our flight tickets and hotel bookings but forgot all about the trade tickets for the event, which turned up a couple of weeks' ago. The organisers ignored my pathetic excuses and request for a refund, but new covid rlues in the Netherlands meant a last-minute cancellation to the whole show. Hundreads of pissed-off stall-holders and thousands of pissed-off vinyl junkies - but one happy old man in Surrey.

WE WILL ROCK YOU

My first 'big gig' for a long time, Australian Pink Floyd put on a very impressive show. Very slick, very professional, rehearsed to the second - it could have been a stage show in a London theatre; but that meant it was all rather clinical and unengaging - and focussed on 'Dark Side' onwards - the band's rather lumbering 'stadium rock' years.

Good to see that the concert goers who talk loudly through the songs they don't know and sing loudly through the ones they do have survived Covid so far.


IT WAS GOOD TO BE BACK

My first trip to the Spitalfields fair in something like two years and it was good to see, and speak, to a few old acquaintances there. Some of the stock looked worryingly familiar but it's a fair that throws up a few suprises - often on labels with dubious origins

WALK OF THE DEAD

Liz and I had double vaccinations yesterday - anti-flu in one arm, Covid booster in the other; today we're walking around with arms limp at our sides, doing passable impressions of extras in a George Romero movie.

NYE, NYE, THRICE NYE

'The Durrells' was the most puerile, badly scripted/acted/directed drama (for want of a more damning word) on TV, until 'The Larkins' came along; the plots wouldn't be out of place in 'Byker Grove', some of the acting is of amateur dramatics pantomine standard, at best.

But what really irritates me is that both series are the responsibility of Simon Nye, who wrote the incomparable 'Men Behaving Badly' - how could he?

A RETURN TO SPITALFIELDS?

I hope so - it's the bi-monthly fair near Liverpool Street on Friday and it feels like it's been forever since I last went along. Just got to be sure I won't miss a couple of FdM deliveries that are due later this week - they involve rather a lot of paper and I can't risk them being left out in the rain!

A PIE AND A PINT?

No? How about a pie and a new vinyl album?
A shop in Southsea offers you chance to buy both under one roof and, although the vinyl on offer looks a bit limited, it's got to be worth checking out next time you're in the Portsmouth area.
Read all about it here


UFO!

The Horror Channel is re-running the entire Gerry Anderson series from episode 1 and it's far, far worse than I remembered it - everything moves at a snail's pace, the scripts and acting are absolutely dire (and I thought Virgil Tracey was wooden).
I can best describe it as a cross between 'Barbarella', 'Captain Scarlet' and 'Crossroads', but with string vests.

Try to watch the first episode, then race down to your nearest pub to wash away the memories.


GUILDFORD FARE

Guildford's record fair is always worth a quick visit - this time I came away with a Caravan double on the decidely dubious 'Verne' label and an even more dubious Mae West LP! (I couldn't resist...it was produced by Mike Curb - on her 1966 LP 'Way Out West', Mae struggled to keep up with the band and this one was recorded six years later! Worth £5 of anybody's money - mine anyway)

NOW SPINNING

interesting website that's new to me - 'Now Spinning' focuses on reissues, especially box sets - vinyl but also CDs; it seems to be gaining momentum and will hopefully spread its wings beyond the mainstream, but its' focussed content fills a gap somewhere between Classic Rock, PROG and Record Collector...worth keeping an eye on, click on NOW SPINNING


TOUR OF WHITSTABLE

I managed to call in on two Whitstable record shops during our grand tour - Rock Bottom is my kind of shop - lots of old stuff, well-organised, no crap, sensible prices - while Gatefield is packed with new releases on vinyl; both are worth a visit if you're in the area...


IT'S GRIM DOWN SOUTH

...unlike Margate, which I've never paid a visit to before, but once was definitely enough.
My apologies to anyone who lives there/loves the place, but it felt like a town that's given up.
The photos show a block of flats that cast a large grey shadow over the beach - maybe the town was twinned with 60s East Germany at some point - and the Turner Gallery, which was conveniently closed but looked like it was modelled on the block of flats, albeit with some tarpaulins thrown over it.
A truly depressing place.


WHEN FdM HAS FINALLY RUN ITS COURSE...

Whitstable has a coffee stall with my name on it - and if that's too challenging, there's always....


CUSHING NUMBER

We have a couple of nights in Whitstable planned - lots of oysters and a couple of interesting-looking record shops are on the agenda but I've just spotted the local Wetherspoons is called 'The Peter Cushing' - apparently the great actor spent a lot of time in the town, although probably not in Wetherspoons; must have a pint in there, nonetheless.


TALES FROM THE LONG ROOM

Just spent an entertaining afternoon with an old mate being shown round Lords cricket ground. I didn't realise the Ashes urn they have on display is the real one (it looks remarkably like the knock-off copy one of my kids gave me after he'd spent a day at a test match in Oz with the barmy army).

Stepping out onto the balcony where I've seen the England team sit, usually in disarray, so many times was quite a moving experience.


GURANFOE LIVE

A new name to many of you, perhaps? It was to me - we came across each other via social media and I was suitably impressed - they will be making an appearance on a members club complation next year , meanwhile my lad Chris and I are going to check them out when they play in Brighton in November.
The headliners at the gig are called Gnob - I must remember not to turn round every time someone calls out their name.

A RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE

We managed to get tickets to see Kings of Convenience showcasing their new album, in a gig organised by Kingston's Banquet Records.
It was held in a local church - with a bar!!!
The duo mean a lot to Liz and I, so it was a pretty special evening for us.


DON'T PANIC...DON'T PANIC

Had to share this photo from club member Robert Simpson - thank god a few of us can laugh at British stupidity


TALKING OF BEER-RELATED STUPIDITY...

The lengths so-called 'craft brewers' will go to, to disguise their beer as something that doesn't look or taste like beer at all reaches new highs/lows...


IT'S AS DIFFICULT AS 123...

My apologies to everyone who has been trying to access the FdM website and been advised to steer well-clear as it's 'not secure'. The company that hosts the site - 123-reg - appears to have mislaid the SSL certificate that I renewed a month ago; I'm trying to resolve the problem - but of course you probably won't read this until it's all sorted, by which time you'll wonder what the hell I'm going on about...


WELSH PILGRIMAGE 1

VOD Music in Mold...
It may be the UK's smallest record shop but owner Colin Trueman runs a cracking vinyl empire and it was a treat to pay him a visit, and not just because he has a rather nice selection of Fruits de Mer releases for sale!


THIS ISLAND EARTH

Watched it again for the first time in years - a visually stunning film, perhaps best remembered for the mutants, who are admittedly rather silly, but make only a fleeting experience; other than that it is a quite beautiful film, with effects that pre-dated Star Trek by a decade (even the soundtrack has trekkie elements)


WELSH PILGRIMAGE 2

COB Records in Portmadoc...
I visited the ancestral home of my record buying/selling habit, it started over 50 years ago, picking up cheap records from HMV, Woolwroths and the like and selling them by mail order to COB.
My first personal visit was a bit of a let-down, to be honest - their stock now consists mainly of CDs and DVDs - but there's still a fair mix of LPs in there.

THE IMPACT OF THE VINYL PRODUCTION CRISIS ON INDIE ARTISTS

An excellent article sent to me by Alex Seldon...click here

TESTING TIMES

So I got suckered into going along to the final day of the third test between England & India - only 20 quid to get in, England in with a great change of winning, etc - and had to endure a day of abject captaincy, bowling and batting; admittedly we made our excuses and left for a drink before the last rites were served, and I could have paid more to see Villa lose.


A TICKLE DOWN TO THIRD MAN?

(sorry, I've been watching the test match)
Jack White is opening a Third Man store in London's Soho in September; although his music isn't my thing and I have a feeling style vs substance might be an issue for me, all credit to him for opening a vinyl shop in London

PLWMP

The name of a village we passed through recently when we spent a few days in Wales; we also saw a road sign which simply said "pant cud" - could it be a warning regarding symptoms of a bowel disease? Turns out it means "hidden dip" - what a shame.

FOPP FLOP

Made my first visit to FOPP in London for the first time in over a year and what a disappointment - no dirt-cheap CDs, very few cheap paperbacks, no unexpected box-sets/oddities, way too many full-price LPs - it felt like just another HMV store, which I guess it what it now is.

IT NEVER RAINS BUT IT POURS

...so on top of the major labels grabbing all the spare capacity in pressing plants around Europe, meaning eight month waiting lists (and one company stopping taking orders completely until things calm down), in the last two weeks I've been informed of yet another round of price increases and a shortage of colour vinyl that's adding extra delays to schedules for existing projects.
You've got to laugh.


BLOODY 'ELL

I couldn't have put it better myself - blood orange IPA, raspeberry and chocolate milkshake IPA; THIS is what's wrong with Britain today, we've lost sight of what beer - our national beverage - is supposed to be.
(and this is in our local Sainsbury's - god only knows what craft beer shops are stocking these days)


WHO NEEDS RSD 2021 PART 2...

...when I could pick pristine copies of The Damned's black Album double and a 1970 Charless Lloyd compilation for £20 the two, from Ben's Records in Guildford the day before?
To be honest, I forgot it was RSD Part 2 until this morning - better have a look on eBay at what I missed...


AND I THOUGHT FdM HAD A MONOPOLY ON STUPID MERCHANDISE

...introducing a range of Jethro Tull chopping boards - the perfect gift for progressive rock fans who enjoy nothing more than slicing a cucumber while listening to Ian Anderson's greatest hits


CARRY ON NME

Carry On Abroad, one of my favourite 'Carry On' films, currently on ITV 3 and providing a suitable background while I try to update the website - although I was rather distracted by the sight of Joan Sims reading a copy of NME in bed!

WE WORE IT WITH PRIDE

...at least until 10.45pm on Sunday night, then we became increasingly embarrassed to be seen to be England fans, or even English. Thugs, racists, not football fans...and if we had any chance of being awarded the World Cup tournament in 2030 that's surely out of the window now.

RETURN OF THE KINGS

Not only have Kings of Convenience got together to record their first album for about a decade but they are playing a couple of low-key gigs in the UK, including one organised by our local record shop, Banquet Records in Kingston.
By happy coincidence, I looked at my phone just as the shop was emailing details around and we managed to snap up two tickets - just for a change, I'll be taking Liz to a gig she really wants to go to!


QUEEN'S GAMBIT

A series on Netflix I actually sat through to the not-so-bitter end; it's the story of a child genius chess-player who goes on to be a grown-up genius chess player. Far too long at about 7 hours, that's the way of the TV world these days, but it's captivating stuff and makes watching chess almost exciting. Shame it's not a true story, although it takes lumps out of Bobby Fischer's life. Worth a watch.


MUST EAT LESS CHEESE

A while ago I was having some pretty weird dreams and put it down to overdoing the evening cheese (no, that's not code for anything other than eating cheese in the evening); I cut back and relative normality ensued.
Recently, I've returned to the M&S cheese counter and since then I've encountered England cricketers Freddy Flintoff and Eoin Morgan, along with BBC's Zoe Ball (thankfully, not all at the same time)...I think it's time to revert to Ovaltine.

FdM VISITS RECORD SHOPS AND DOESN'T BUT ANYTHING - SHOCK HORROR

A couple of days in Chichester - closest we'll get to a foreign holiday for another few months at least - led to visits to Helter Skelter Records and Analogue October; the former is a little second-hand shop, the latter has a wider range of intersting new releases. Nothing persuaded me to unlock the wallet, but good to know they exist and seemed to be doing well.

ALAN LEWIS

Very sad to read about the death of Alan Lewis - editor of Sounds, NME and Record Collector, launched Kerrang and Uncut, launched Loaded and kept the editorial team vaguely under control, ran a pub; thoroughly nice bloke...what more could you ask for, other than another 20 or 30 years?

ASHLEY'S BACK!

A dozen or so years ago, Ashley Young was probably second-only to James Milner in Villa fans' hearts and estimations, then he disappeared off to join Melchester Rovers, or somebody.
Now he's back, old, wiser, richer, slower - but a very good squad signing and i'm especially pleased as I've got a signed shirt from his original Villa days - must be worth a few quid more now, surely?

SO HOW WAS RSD 2021 FOR Y0U?

I had a look at what the local shop in Kingston was offering, there was nothing I wanted so I gave it a miss this year.
Had a quick look at ebay after 6pm and there was Small Faces LP signed by Kenney Jones that I hadn't noticed before - I looked at the Kingston shop site again and they had one copy left - so I ordered it mail order.
That’s it - hope you were a bit more adventurous!

I've since discovered there's a double LP of Tangerine Dream live in Reims Cathedral in 1974 - didn't see it listed at the time, most copies seem to have found their way to Poland or the USA from the look of ebay. A couple of days ago, a set emerged at a sensible price on the Juno Records website, so that's sorted too.


SUMMER IS FINALLY HERE

Perfect timing for the arrival of test pressings for a smashing summer-of-love 7" which is guaranteed to put a smile on the face of the grumpiest of grumpy old men (worked for me, anyway).

What a shame the ridiculously long queues for vinyl pressings means it probably won't see the light of day until the dark, gloomy nights of December.

Still, it'll be worth the wait.

'AD JAB

...in fact I've now had two and what a thorughly enjoyable experience it was - well-organised, clearly explained, friendly personal service and nothing worse than a pain in the arm - if only they ran Fruits de Mer.

YOU'VE GOT TO DRAW THE LINE SOMEWHERE

...and this has to be the limit - I've just been told by a pressing plant to allow 27 weeks from signing off test pressings to getting finished vinyl - for a 7" single!

Now I know factories are struggling with the virus' effect on staffing levels, RSD pushes all the little labels out of the way to make way for the majors' annual vinyl splurge and there's a surge of recordings by artists who can't get out and play live - but there must be one hell of a lot of vinyl out there that's either not being bought or not being played.

Having to wait well over half a year from starting on a project to seeing the finished article takes a lump of the excitement out of working on a new release, which is why you've see a few more lathe-cuts and CDs in the FdM schedule for a while - that way, months become weeks and people get to hear new music.

DID YOU KNOW?

...how many artists will have appeared on a Fruits de Mer release (vinyl, CD or cassette) by the middle of this year?

approximately 267 - and I say approximately as I probably miscounted when I added up the list on the 'Band' page and no doubt I left a few out along the way.

Make that 269 - I left out the Mushroom Project and Zombies of the Stratosphere

ANOTHER SIGN OF THAT RETURN TO NORMALITY

Good to see The Half Moon announcing a series of gigs - looks like they're restricted numbers, maybe sit down/table service only, but even so it's a step in the right direction.


ONE FOR FIREBALL XL5 FANS

Did anyone watch the early sixties British film 'Saturday Night Out' on Talking Pictures?
It was the UK's answer to 'On The Town' (ok, maybe not).
Rather bizarrely, the theme tune sounds to me like a re-make of the theme to 'Fireball XL5' - or vice-versa - although the two are supposedly written by two different people.
I've found a clip of the film - go to https://youtu.be/80mTttfFmUE - and The Searchers' appearance in it is easily found on youtube, but I can't find the film's opening or closing credits to prove or disprove my Supermarionation find - can anyone help?


THE SECRET WORLD OF MIXING VINYL COLOURS

I'm always reluctant to quote the colours of new vinyl releases until I get to see copies myself...they don't necessarily turn out the way I expect, or ask for (Ann Summers pink definitely wasn't on the colour chart for an early FdM single and a couple of times I've managed to request a split-run along the lines of half of them green, half a blue/yellow mix - and wonder why all the copies come out looking the same).
There's a bit of art and a bit of science to the way non-standard colours are achieved by pressing plants and the mixing process is different between LPs and singles - so with 12"s you tend to get a rough merger of two or three still-discernible vinyl colours, with singles you get a true blend of the colours you've chosen; I like to compare it to the difference between mixing oil paints and watercolours - but then again I don't know what I'm talking about.
Splatter/colour-within-colour/tri-colour are all more complex and require each copy to be created individually - they're more time-consuming, more expensive and more prone to sound quality issues - it sometimes feels like art-for-art's sake, but it's always tempting to go for something out of the ordinary.


A TOM & JERRY MOMENT

Stumbling around in the garden shed this morning, I trod on the head of a rake - the handle shot up and whacked me hard on the side of my head.

Oh how we laughed.


BACK TO SOME KIND OF NORMALITY

A first visit to a record shop in ages - Ben's in Guildford - always good for a rummage - came up with a slightly dubious-looking 'Small Faces at the BBC' LP, Alan Gubby's Revbjelde debut album and this unexpected pleasure...


URE JOKING?

Another 'back of the sofa' rediscovery - bought for 50p at a car boot many moons ago, not only is it an acetate of 'Do They Know It's Christmas', it's even signed by Sir Midge Ure.
Now quite how it ended up in the bargain bin at a car boot is a more interesting story than me having it, but when I posted a photo of it on Facebook I was rather taken with Pete Bowman from The Arthur Park responding with a photo showing an unsigned copy being bought on eBay for over £1500 - I thought it might be worth £50 to an Ultravox fan.

Shows what I know.


QUADROPHENIA

I've watched some terrible films recently as lockdown fever kicks in - 'Blithe Spirit', 'Six Minutes To Midnight' and 'Twist' among them - but 'Quadrophenia' isn't one of them - what a joy to see it again on some odd satellite channel - a real feel for the era, well directed, excellent acting - Phil Daniels deserved an Oscar, a BAFTA or something; The Who dimension to the whole thing becomes incidental, the film is so strong

'EE, WE HAD IT TOUGH

Just saw this photo on Facebook - the 'high street' in the village I grew up in - Taylors cake shop, Burtons cafe/sweet shop and...I guess someone's home. It looks like a photo was taken in the 70s, funny how I don't remember it looking like it had been recently bombed at the time.



...we also had our own department store, butchers (with an in-house abatoir) and coal mine


...not to mention the highest concentration of greyhound tracks in the UK - two, within about a mile of each other


AS SEEN IN RECORD COLLECTOR...

Fame at last, a Who 7" acetate that I picked up at a car boot decades ago has made Ian Shirley's 'Value Added Facts' section in the latest issue; good to know it's as obscure as I thought it might be.
The back of the FdM sofa delivers again...


HARD OF HEARING? I SAID...

...that's me - I'm making a habit of mishearing things - like this ad for Vanguard...every time I hear the end of it, I think somebody's having a go at me...


MAYBE IT WAS A MISTAKE...

...to start filing these under 'A'...

SOFA...SO GOOD

The Caravan singles keep appearing from behind the FdM Towers cushions


SPITALFIELDS RETURNS?

I've just heard that the Spitalfields Friday record fair is returning on April 16th - I'm very tempted, I promise to wear at least two masks

NO KIDDING

I don't know how legit these releases on the No Kidding label are but Juno is a reputable mail order service and their 'live at the BBC' LPs from Genesis, Colosseum, Pink Floyd and co are worth checking out...click on JUNO

FROM THE BACK OF THE FdM SOFA...

A clutch of Deram promo 7"s, which I think I bought when Shepperton Studios closed their record library many, many years ago and held a massive jumble sale to clear the shelves. If only I knew then...

FROM THE BACK OF THE FdM SOFA CONTINUED...

Not so much a guilty pleasure, more a long-running joke, I've occasionally mentioned my teenage lust for the delightfully unsullied Dana. Well, FdM club member and Cyprus' answer to John Peel, Robert Camassa spotted one of my comments and found a test pressing of her very first single, which he kindly sent to me!

FROM THE BACK OF THE FdM SOFA CONTINUED...

How about a few Spirit singles - a French pic sleeve 7" with the song title misspelled and two versions of their reunion single - one 7" and one 5"



SNATCHING DEFEAT FROM THE JAWS OF VICTORY

I'm about as apolitical as you can get, but I can't help but say how shocked I am to see the Government's stance on NHS salaries. After the incredibly impressive vaccination programme has put a huge sticking plaster over all the cracks of the pandemic mistakes that had gone before, offering a 1% salary increase to NHS staff wipes out all the political gains of the last couple of months and gives the Labour Party a cause to champion, at a time when they seemed to be drifting pretty aimlessly.
If UK spend in tackling the virus is around £300bn, another approx £1bn spend on a £500 bonus for all staff plus a 3% increase instead of 1% would have kept the Conservatives on the front foot; in addition, if Sumak had embedded the £20 a week universal credit payment (maybe freezing overall payments for a couple of years) would have given Labour nowhere to go (and putting in a modest interim step in the increase in corporation tax would have paid for the extra costs).
Surely the Government conducts regular opinion polls to judge the mood of the country and would have picked up that they would be on a hiding to nothing if they were seen to be short-changing health workers.
That's enough from our grossly-uniformed political correspondent, now back to the music...

BEGGARS CAN'T BE CHOOSERS

I've been struggling to find new releases this year that have sent me diving for the credit card, so this double LP on the possibly slightly dubious 'Music Brokers' label is the next-best thing - a nice mix of 60s psych tracks that occasionally goes a bit off-road - but it was the Plasticland cover of The Electric Bananas' 'Alexander' that grabbed my attention. It was available from Juno Records but seems to have been de-listed


MY, HOW YOU'VE GROWN

I don't really like barbeques. If I'm on the receiving end, what some people call a bbq I tend to think of as more like a cremation; and if I'm giving rather than receiving...well, that involves me doing some work; not least because I don't subscribe to the "light it up, burn 'em off" method of cleaning a bbq, I spring-clean the thing before AND after cooking - it's a bit of an obsession. Which leads me onto "my, how you've grown", as I've just uncovered the bloody thing after its winter hibernation and it looks like a biology lab if someone had left the tops off all the jars and the heating on over a long weekend - I'd swear to god I scrubbed it clean before shutting up shop.

THE GREAT SPRING-CLEAN CONTINUES

The lockdown is forcing us all to do things we would have thought impossible a year ago - painting a fence, washing the car....venturing into the loft...

The boxes full of magazines that I decided were in invaluable 15 years ago are now being recycled, as are photos of people I have no recollection of ever meeting (although I'm keeping the one of me and Alan Partridge apparently singing together on-stage - where and when the hell was that???), I now only have four boxes of VHS tapes that I can't play left to sort through; Liz opened one of them and said there was Grobschnitt tape at the top - so they might merit further investigation after all!

A SLOW START TO 2021?

I've been struggling to find much in the way of new/old releases to excite me enough to allow the moths to escape from my wallet - a rather nice instrumental remix of 'Time Of The Season', by a Mr K, recommended by an FdM club member, and I finally shelled out for the 3CD version of 'Court of the Crimson King' - but not a lot else. So how come vinyl pressing plants are so overwhelmed with orders they're quoting six months turnround on new jobs?

BORIS vs LITTLE MIX

One of our grandkids took it upon herself to write to the Prime Minister, asking him to do something about pollution and litter; to be fair, his office wrote back at length - and within a few days - but the best part was that in her letter she wrote that she had decided to write to someone really important, and it was a choice between Boris and Little Mix...I hope he was suitably flattered.

ONLY IN THE FdM GARAGE

Balsa wood planes, boxes of joss-sticks and grow-in-water animals...remnants of what's gone before, or a hint of what's to come?
God only knows.

NONE MORE STRANGE?

Quite possibly the oddest record in the FdM household is a 7" acetate by an unnamed band, looking like it's from the 60s but is in pristine condition. The track titles are printed on the labels and suggest a rather well-known group is responsible, although I can find no mention of a commercial release in RRPG or on discogs.
RRPG's Ian Shirley is on the case and all may be revealed in the next issue of Record Collector...

STRANGE SIGHTINGS IN THE RECORD COLLECTION - 7

As I sort through the shelves I'm finding countless records I don't remember buying/owning/playing, as well as quite a few that really shouldn't be there in the first place.
This is an incredibly rare reggae release on Island - what a pity my copy sounds like it was recorded in a chip shop, with the mic right next to the deep fat fryer



STRANGE SIGHTINGS IN THE RECORD COLLECTION - 6

The Elastic Band - a suitably obscure single - there were probably more demo copies than commercial releases!


STRANGE SIGHTINGS IN THE RECORD COLLECTION - 5

...sometimes they appear in pairs - like london buses - as was the case with these two Wolf promos


STRANGE SIGHTINGS IN THE RECORD COLLECTION - 4

A nice promo copy of a Vashti single - not really my cup of tea to be honest, god knows when or where I acquired it



STRANGE SIGHTINGS IN THE RECORD COLLECTION - 3

I found several copies of this flexi - with tracks by The Passage (who I don't rememember) and Blancmange (who I DO remember, and really didn't like) - which were a result of my time working as the promotions bloke for Melody Maker; I'm still waiting to find the rather more credible flexis by The Jam and Iggy Pop that I was also responsible for...


STRANGE SIGHTINGS IN THE RECORD COLLECTION - 2

Apparently I have more Caravan CDs than any other prog band; turns out I also have quite a few singles by them, including some oddities...

STRANGE SIGHTINGS IN THE RECORD COLLECTION - 1

This was a flexi 7" released by Crass in disguise - a freebie for a few lucky readers of 'Loving' magazine - and no, I wasn't a reader, I worked for the publishing company responsible for it and flexi discs had a habit of ending up on my desk


THEIR MUMS WILL BE SO PROUD

All credit to Aston Villa's youth team, who took on the mighty Liverpool in the FA Cup while the entire first team squad were in isolation due to a covid outbreak; they held their own for 85 minutes (shame about the five minutes midway through the second half when we let in three!); in a nice touch after the match, the Birmingham Mail in its 'player ratings' analysis of the game everyone of them 10 out of 10.

A FEW 2020 THANK-YOU'S

I like to claim that FdM is just me and Liz, but the reality is a hell of a lot of people are involved in keeping things afloat - all the artists, of course, without whom things would be very quiet round here, but behind the scenes there are people like:

- Fran Ashcroft, mastering guru, who makes sense out of the countless compilations I throw at him to make sense of
- Rene at Clear Spot Distribution, who does a great job in getting FdM releases into the hands of shops and music fans across Europe
- the Record Industry team in the Netherlands and GZ in the Czech Republic, who press up everything - with hardly a glitch along the way
- Ben at Breed Media, who puts up with my countless requests for changes to vinyl orders, spots my errors and comes up with solutions
- Graeme at VP Online, who provides such as fast, efficient and friendly CD duping service
- Dale Simpson, a great designer who can turn a half-baked suggestion into a great design and and is another person who puts up with all my last-minute suggestions and changes - Stan Hilborn, Lord Litter and Gunter Bajtl, three DJs who regularly play massive amounts of Fruits de Mer tracks on their shows, god bless 'em
- Paul Meggs, who stops the FdM website from falling over, despite my best efforts
- Nick Leese at Heyday, who I hope will be back providing a great service to overseas club members in 2021

...and if I haven't mentioned you, it's not that I don't appreciate what you for FdM, it's just that the old memory is starting to falter

THE CD SORT-OUT - MORE LESSONS

"even if I live to 100, I'll never play more than 25% of the CDs I have"...make that closer to 10%, I've got to fit playing them in between all the vinyl!
- lot of work trips to Amsterdam from 2000 to 2010 resulted in quite a collection of releases on the Databloem label, which I must revisit
- while visits to Other Music in New York seems to be a source of a fair number of the 'unknown pleasures' albums
- those ambient albums continue to build up - how chilled could one person aspire to be?

THE GREAT CD SORT-OUT CONTINUES - A FEW LESSONS LEARNED

What have I learned so far?

- you can't have too many Sigur Ros albums (apparently)
- for a small label, April released a helluva lot of music
- ...but nowhere near as much as Fax
- 'unique' format CD sleeves that seemed a good idea at the time almost always weren't
- I have more CDs by Caravan than any other prog band
- my passion for ambient music in the 90s went on for a long, long time
- even if I live to 100, I'll never play more than 25% of the CDs I have - radical action is required
...one day

but there are a few genres I have to admit defeat on - life is too short, or at least the rest of mine is going to be - so I will never get to grips with rock'n'roll, rockabilly or cajun, and I'm sure there's more to come (or go)

THE GREAT CD SORT-OUT CONTINUES

and my 'sort them into genres' approach is already under pressure...

What genres do I choose? How many genres? What is the difference between IDM, techno and EDM? Electronica vs ambient vs chill-out? And once that's sorted, which bands go into each?

Genres have already become a mix of genres, labels and decades (a catch-all when I lose the will to live) and will no doubt evolve further as the 'unknown pleasures' section starts to overflow alarmingly

UNKNOWN PLEASURES

One of my jobs during the current lockdown (and probably the next one too) is to sort out my CDs, of which there are several thousand and all of which have been becoming more and more 'unsorted' over the last 10, maybe 20 years.
My start-point is simply to put them into genres - 70s prog, folk rock, krautrock, post rock, etc. It's a little concerning to find that one of the largest genres has turned out to be 'unknown pleasures' - albums I don't remember buying or playing, by artists I have no memory of.
More concerning is picking up a CD by a band I don't recall, staring at it for a while waiting in vain for some dim recollection of the when and why, and then giving up and finding two more albums by the same band - I must have liked them a lot at the time! I would play one of the albums, but that's phase 2.


HAPPY CHRISTMAS

What a sodding year it's been but at least it's nearly over and we have 2021 to look forward to, so have as good a Christmas as you can, stay safe and here's to a return to live music, festivals, record shops, record fairs, pubs, beer, meeting up with old friends and all that sort of stuff as early as possible next year

RECORD FAIRS RETURNING?

The Spitalfields Friday fair is back in London - next one is on December 18th, I'm very tempted (although I probably won't get to one until Jan 2021) as my latest attempt to swap cash for vinyl failed in Southampton - I only found one shop and that only stocked reissues - and even a vist to Ben's Records in Guildford proved fruitless (too many Christmas records on display for my liking!).

STOP PRESS: everything's shut down round here again so it's back to 'The Repair Shop' and knitting scarves.

CHEERS...

2020...it's been an exceptional one in so many ways, mostly exceptionally crap, so it's taking me a while to remind myself of, and summarise, some of the good stuff that's gone on in and around FdM Towers, such as...

- no summer festival, in fact no FdM gigs at all - it took a good few months before I realised how much I miss live music, meeting FdM friends, drinking decent beer...ok, so that's not a good thing, so what else has there been...?

- it's all for charidee...two wholly out-of-character acts of generosity with the 'We Are The Cellar Bar Resoration Society' LP & CD set which raised nearly £3,000 for the Cellar Bar, and 'The Darkest Voyage' which has generated £2,000 for the Red Cross Disaster fund; thinking about it, it was your generosity, not mine, as you bought the CDs and vinyl - ah well, I'll claim credit for anything

- new friends of the fish...one of my resolutions this year was to work with a bunch of new artists and I reckon I passed this challenge with over 30 acts new to FdM appearing on full-run FdM releases and a dozen or so more 'freshers' featured on members club compilation CDs

- the long and the short of it...the 'Darkest Voyage' 6CD set included three tracks that would each have happily filled two sides of an LP, while 'Life of Stanley' is a one-sided 7" with a total of about 2 1/2 minutes of music - talk about a rip-off

- talking of Professor Stanley Unwin, how many labels can claim to have released exclusive recordings by the good Professor?

...and then have a track on an Orb compilation put together by Dr Alex himself! Bloody ridiculous, eh?

- and how about getting Maxine Peake to lend her voice to a track on 'The Darkest Voyage'? Max has been a lovely fan of the label since I can't remember when and this was icing on the cake

- surpise giveaways? Not so easy this year as we had no FdM gigs where we could dish them out - but there was a Band For All Seasons jigsaw as a members club competition prize, we threw in a few unannounced posters and stickers along the way and there was something unexpected for anyone who ordered two sets of 'Head Music 2' from me; but must do better in 2021

- but then there's the sheer quantity of music released this year - on vinyl, on CDs, on Friends of the Fish projects - I reckon something around 30 hours of music that hadn't been on the label before - it must be our most prolific year ever; I hope you feel the quality hasn't slipped - but 2021 will DEFINITELY be quieter round here (even though it starts with another triple LP set!)

HOW TO ORGANISE YOUR RECORD COLLECTION

I went into the first lockdown determined to sort my collection out (a bit) but when we were allowed out for good behaviour, the idea went straight out of the window (as did we). Now I'm getting back into it (a bit, again) and I've given myself until the end of March to get everything sorted out into categories AND have a serious clear-out of duplicates, together with the unplayable and the unbelievable; I have SO MANY CDs!
I'm leaving the FdM shelves to last but hopefully I'll have an interesting box of 'oldies' for the 18th Dream stall.

A NEW CONTENDER FOR WORST FILM EVER?

'The Claw'. I love a b-movie, a sci-fi b-movie all the better; so why hadn't I seen 'The Claw' before? Recently shown on the Horror Channel, so no doubt it'll be on again soon, it combined terrible acting and unintelligible scientific explanations with the most ludicrous alien I've seen for many years - unmissable!


RIP UNCLE DES

I've just heard that Des O'Connor has died. At one point, he was my uncle although he married four times so I guess he was most people's uncle at some stage.
A favourite of my dad, we saw him headline a summer season show in Llandudno or Weston-Super-Mare when I was a little kid and I first learned what 'working an audience' meant - he was a past-master.


WORLD OF SPORT

It's pouring down and looks like it's going to stay that way all weekend so I settle down for a Saturday of armchair sport, only to find the England rugby game is on Amazon Prime, horse racing is rubbish and F1 is pointless; thank god for live international football on Sky so bring it on...San Marino vs Gibraltar.

HAVE I BEEN TO ANY GIGS THIS YEAR?

I really can't remember, if I have it was a bloody long time ago. I've taken live music for granted, and probably will again, but right now nights out at venues like the Half Moon, 100 Club, Thunderbolt and - of course - the Cellar Bar are my idea of heaven.

Here are some of our earlier ramblings.... PREVIOUS BLOGGINGS

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