FAMiLY: Oliver’s Wedding

Alexandra and Oliver tying the knot.

We owe Teresa’s ‘bruncle’, Daniel Samuels* a deep and heartfelt debt of gratitude (to be expressed as a consignment of real ale!), for lending us the wheels that enabled us to be part of Teresa’s cousin Oliver’s wedding.

* Bruncle: brother and uncle; uncle – Jean’s (Teresa’s mum!) youngest brother – but brought up, by Jean, as one of Teresa’s siblings!

At the wheel of a diesel in’t Smoke!

We drove down on Monday. And stayed in a B&B, over a pub, in Hounslow. Thanks Teresa, for booking that. It was weird being in London again. Most of London is sooo ugly and depressing! Thank goodness we got out when we did.

Confetti and kisses outside St. Barnabas.

That said, there are some really beautiful parts. And Oliver and Alexandra were getting married in one such area, Molesey, south west London, close to the Thames.

Teresa took this lovely pic, outside the church.

The wedding was held in St Barnabas Church, with a chap called Richard* presiding. Both Oliver and ‘Lexie’, as he calls her, are musicians and teachers. So, unsurprisingly, but nevertheless wonderfully, the music was great.

* Actually, no word of a lie, the Rev. Richard Biggerstaff… or, more familiarly, his eminence, the right Rev. Dick Biggerstaff!?

Lexie looking lovely.

As the bride walked in, a guy played Bach’s famously beautiful Suite #1 in G major, on solo cello. Gorgeous! And the final piece, before everyone left the church, was Eric Whitacre’s I Carry Your Heart, sung by a small choir in the upstairs gallery. Beautiful close harmonies, with densely voiced chords.

After the ceremony, which was lovely and quite moving, there were tea and biscuits next door. And then we all headed to High Billinghurst Farm, Godalming, for the reception.

Hops and chandeliers at the fab barn.

The reception was terrific. It was nice to get to know folk from both sides of the union, the Wellbournes, and the Sarkar-Samuels, and all their kith and kin! There was booze aplenty, including, rather unusually, a lovely single malt to toast with. And the dinner was a terrific Indian curry.

Oliver’s drums.

Oliver is, like me, a drummer. Sadly we had to leave about 7.30pm, in order to be home at a reasonable hour (got back at 10.30!). So I didn’t get to see or hear him play. But I did get to see his little jazzy ‘jelly bean’ kit. A Canopus snare, no less! Wish I’d have tried it out, to be honest.

Janet, Andrew, me ‘n’ Teresa, and Ida, St Barnabas.
Teresa, Janet and Andrew.
The reception.
Linda, Alex and Teresa enjoying the pud’!

Knowing we had a long journey home, I had to be very careful about my booze intake. Especially as there was so much. And all free! Thankfully I managed to be very restrained.

The wedding day was a mixture of sunshine and rain. Fortunately for Oliver and Alexandra the rain only intruded a little bit into their celebrations. Or at least that part of them we were at. Later on it rained really pretty heavily; for over two hours – so over two-thirds – of the homeward drive!

But we got home safe and sound. It was lovely to be greeted by Chester on our arrival! What a cutie.

Bach’s cello suite performed by Yo Yo Ma:

And here’s Whitacre’s I Carry Your Heart:

MEDiA: Saxondale

Watching this terrific little series again. What fun! as Miranda’s mum liked to say. Saxondale really tickles my funny-bone. And laughter is great medicine when you’re wrestling with a St. Bernard’s sized black-eyed dog.

The ageing quite clever and quite articulate ex-roadie turned pest controller is a great creation. Struggling with anger issues, and having to deal with the excruciating Vicky (Morwena Banks) to get jobs.

He encounters a Top Gear presenter, his ex-roadie pal Deggsy, animal rights protestors who object to his pest control methods, and a plethora of other characters, from the occasional appearances of hapless shopping centre-salesmen (Tim Key), to regulars, like Vicky, Raymond, his girlfriend, Magz, and his anger management counsellor, Alistair (James Bachman).

Vicky, Raymond, and Tommy.

In a similar yet different way to Coogan’s sublime Alan Partridge, the whole attention to detail thing with Saxondale’s music-obsessed character is a real pleasure for those who, like me, share similar interests.

And, again, as with Partridge, we love him as much for his myriad foibles and failings, as for his ‘good qualities’ – be they his ‘Stang, ready wit, or ‘classic rock’ schtick – all the while squirming in embarrassment when he goes off on another misplaced tanned-genital rant.

The scenes with his daughter and her beau are great, as Saxondale battles with his responses – whether natural or conditioned – and piles mistaken assumptions on top of angry prejudices. And all the while Focus or Tull, and similar ‘70s sounds, pump up the irony of the disparity between an ageing rocker’s dreams and visions of himself, and the humdrum reality.

Vicky, perma-tanned denizen of a Stevenage industrial estate.

The rapport with Vicky, via whom he gets his pest control jobs, is truly and deeply and excruciatingly excellent. Indeed, all the relationships are really well observed, teetering between very broad humour, and finely nuanced observation.

There are just so many moments that resonate: the comfy old slippers, the lines of coke with Deggsy whilst lamenting the follies of the world, the inadvertent self-harm at the gym (and the hilarious drive home after), and the struggles with ageing.

These latter range from Saxondale’s quirky facial tics and odd snuffling noises, to his inability to hoist himself into a loft (as his young assistant Raymond does), the glasses scene with hooker, the need for Viagra, and limitations on sexual positions due to a body that’s gradually wearing out.

Another dimension to all this, besides the 70s rock thread, is the general cultural milieu, with Tommy quoting Zulu, and frequently harping on about everything from Isambard Kingdom Brunel to Barnes Wallis. A set of … eugh! tropes (spits and washes mouth out) that fit a certain demographic, to which I belong, like Cinders’ glass slippers.

It’s humour that cuts pretty close to the bone, for some of us viewers. And, I think, is all the funnier for it.

Tommy smoking a dolphin bong. Brilliant!
A fab scene from Tommy’s anger management group.
Several fab scenes from Tommy’s anger management group.

I love the scenes at the anger management group that Tommy attends, at the local library. His humour and sarcasm are tragicomic, and, as with much comedy (also very much so with Partridge) he says out loud what many might think, but either then think better of, or at least choose not to say out loud.

Teresa isn’t so keen. ‘It’s a boy’s thing’, she says. And maybe she’s right? Still, I love it!

ArT: More Gene Deitch…

The Cat… Gene’s buff, a speccy nerd obsessed with jazz!

How I feel sometimes when transcribing drum parts!
The neighbours disapprove of The Cat’s listening habits.

Non Jazz stuff…

Not sure what he’s up to here. But look at all that fab gear!

Myeah… back to his primary love, good ol’ Jazz Music!

I love this pic; bassist looks after his bull fiddle in the rain.
Ok, so I’m featuring this one again… but I just love it!
Ditto this one!

If anyone’s interested, I found this, a page with an interesting selection of record changer magazines for sale, featuring the cover art of Deitch and others.

This is one from the above linked page.
The man!

YULE MUSiC: Well, kind of..

It’s Xmas Day, or as I prefer to say, Yule (f*ck Jesus!). As normal, some of what I got, gifts wise was, naturally and inevitably, music. At left is Tom Waits’ Bad As Me (in a deluxe book format edition!), whilst at right is a three albums on two discs compilation of early albums by The Sons Of Champlin.

Waits wise, I’m more a fan of his ‘first era’, from his demos and debut, Closing Time, through to Swordfishtrombones and (?). I do like the post Kathleen Brennan stuff (by which I mean after he met/married her). Just not as much.

The Sons are another and somewhat odder case, for me. I mostly like the whole idea of them, more than I often actually like listening to them! But I intend to explore them more, and this early-years stuff is a good place. Some of their later ‘70s stuff – I have a collection covering that period already – is great, in a funky jazz fusion way.

I also have a load of music coming to me on my next birthday. Inc. several Stooges albums, two by Iggy Pop, and a few other oddments. Can’t wait!

FiLM REViEW: Little Shop of Horrors, 1986

I’m not a big fan of musicals. But this one is bonkers. Based on a film made by Roger Corman, which in turn was made into a musical, and directed by Muppeteer Frank Oz, it’s truly gonzo.

Audrey II is an amazing piece of work (requiring a team of twenty-two puppeteers!), voiced wonderfully by head honcho of The Four Tops, Levi Stubbs.

Levi Stubbs, bottom left.
Audrey II menaces his namesake, Audrey.

And not only is Audrey II a mighty (pre-CGI) achievement, so too is the entire Skid Row set, which was constructed as an indoor studio environment, at Pinewood Studios, in England.

There are some terrific cameos. My favourites being Steve Martin’s sadistic rockabilly biker dentist, Orin Scrivello (DDS!), addicted to laughing gas, and his Planes Trains & Automobiles co-star, John Candy, as manic DJ ‘Weird’ Wink Wilkinson.

Steve Martin as Orin Scrivello, DDS.

The movie was produced by music mogul David Geffen, subject of Joni Mitchell’s terrific song Free Man Paris.

A bonkers thing, and one of the few musicals I can bear – though enduring the ‘numbers’ is an issue – to watch all the way through.

MUSiC: RIP Dino Danelli

Damn, another one off to the great Jam Sesh in The Sky!

Those outfits!

Dino Danelli is referred to, in a quote on his wiki page, as ‘one of the great unappreciated rock drummers in history.’

He’s someone I’ve been meaning to check out for years. I have a fair bit by The Rascals in my mp3 collection. But I haven’t listened to it a great deal.

I was always a bit surprised that they were lauded by the funky soul brigade. I recall reading about them in Wax Poetics, and thinking they looked a bit off that mag’s usual musical map.

Dino did the cover art for this ‘72 release.

I think that’s quite possibly largely due to their last release, 1972’s The Island Of Real. Although they had streaks of blue-eyed soul running through a fair bit of their music.

The first album I got by them was the unusual Freedom Suite. Alleged by some ( for example) to be ‘the beginning of the end’ for the band, I’m sure I read somewhere that some of the group’s contributions to this disc were replaced by session players?

Riding the hippy wave!

One of their biggest hits – a number one in the US for 5 weeks in ‘68 – was People Got To Be Free, the groups’ comment on the murders of Martin Luther King and Bob Kennedy.

To finish this post, here’s Boom, Danelli’s drum solo feature from the Freedom Suite album:

MUSiC: 1969, Gabor Szabo, 1969


Out of the blue, after a long of spell of excellent sleep, I’ve just had a pretty awful night of insomnia. And, ironically, I’ve finally gotten around to starting to read Robin Walker’s Why We Sleep. So I’m more than usually aware of how bad losing sleep is!

Anyway, after several hours of just lying in bed, fully awake, I figured I might as well do something, since I wasn’t apparently able to sleep. So I wrote a bit, for the blog, and I listened to 1969 (and some other stuff, inc. Mizrab), by Gabor Szabo. Holy guacamole, 1969 is really good!

A glowing accolade from Leonard Feather!

Before getting into it track by track, here’s the track list and personnel credits:

Dear Prudence
Sealed With A Kiss
Both Sides Now
Walk Away Renee
You Won’t See Me
Michael From Mountains
In My life
I’ve Just Seen A Face
Until It’s Time For You To Go
Somewhere I Belong
Gabor Szabo - guitar
Francois Vaz - guitar
Mike Melvoin - keys
Louis Kabok - bass
Randy Cierly-Sterling - bass
Jim Keltner - drums/percussion
George Ricci- cello
Gary McFarland - arranger

It’s pretty stunning to think that stuff like this is how drummer Jim Keltner, who I first grew to know and love through his long term associations with Bob Dylan and Ry Cooder, got started! And everything about the whole musical package is so great I want to know more about all concerned. Didn’t keys man Mike Melvoin play with Tom Waits, on Nighthawks At The Diner?

Some of the other names – Francois Vaz, Louis Kabok – are new(-ish) to me. Gary McFarland I’d heard of. Along with promoter Norman Schwartz and Cal Tjader, Szabo and McFarland founded the short lived Skye Records, for which label this absolute gem was recorded.

They used the Isle of Skye’s coat of arms for the label!

Having dipped into this album frequently recently, I’d still not listened the whole way through. That is until my recent bouts of insomnia. The night before last, during which I didn’t sleep at all – until I caught up a bit during the day* – I listened to the entirety of 1969 in one sitting (or, to be more accurate, one laying!).

* As a teacher on school holidays I’m lucky I can do this!

The version I listened to, a full-album rip on YouTube, doesn’t have the best audio quality. I’m hoping when I get this on CD it’ll be better! This YouTube version is rather muddy, sonically. And most Gabor Szabo stuff is immaculately recorded. But that aside, the quality of the performances is superlative.

Still from film or video of Szabo with Kabok.

The group is an interesting one, as all the players have jazz chops, but are also very comfortable with and attuned to pop/rock sensibilities, such that they can play with a stripped down minimalism most out and out jazzbos very rarely manage. Although Gary McFarland isn’t a player here, it strikes me that perhaps his arranging and producing skills are instrumental in achieving the sounds and the, er… vibes?

Gary McFarland, feelin’ those vibes!

I’m going to come right out and say it; I do believe this one of Szabo’s greatest records. Oft times it’s belittled (albeit not as much as his late ‘70s stuff; Doug Payne calls much of Faces ‘disco trash’!), particularly by those who prefer his more overtly trad’ jazziness. (I don’t mean Dixie!).

Part of the charm of this particular album is the material. There are four Beatles numbers, two of which – You Won’t See Me and In My Life – are from Rubber Soul (possibly my favourite Fab Four album?). And, as well as several more obscure choices, there’s the oft-covered Stormy.

But what’s this? Two Joni tunes!? Both Sides Now has been covered umpteen times. And Szabo’s version is brilliant. But Michael From Mountains? This latter ranks with Mark Murphy’s Barangrill, and Don Sebesky’s Song To A Seagull. Simply having the good taste to pick such wonderful material, never mind the required skill to make such a unique artists’ unusual music one’s own… fab!

Ultimately 1969 hits that eargasmic G-spot for me: musical perfection. Everything is just so. You could try to label it: it’s partly jazz, partly pop, partly rock, bossa, easy-listening, psych, etc. The joy and the magic lies precisely in rendering such categorisation efforts totally footile*. It’s just great music.

* The Fenland yod-dropping way!

I’d love to get this Cherry Red comp.

Whilst writing this post I discovered that Cherry Red did a reissue/compilation called Sketch For Summer, which focussed on McFarland and Szabo’s richly creative partnership. Like almost all the music I’m getting interested in lately, this is OOP and hard/expensive to find! It only covers their 1964-‘68 collaborations, so nothing off 1969 is included. Interesting to see two tracks are with Brazilian maestro Tom Jobim!

But to round off, back to ‘69! The album starts with Dear Prudence, and ends with the only Sabor original in this particular set, Somewhere I Belong. I’m giving this disc my rare accolade of six stars. That’s a bit like Spinal Tap’s amps going up to eleven: the normal range is 0-5 stars. Only the crème de la crème attain the hallowed six!


Watched this during another insomniac wee small hours spell. A spoof documentary, or, as they call ‘em now, a mockumentary, FUBAR follows a film-maker, Farrel Mitchner (Gordon Skilling) who is himself following two white-trash stoner headbangers, Terry and Dean.

Set in suburban Alberta, Canada, it takes a while to get used to, and was filmed on a Canon XL1, giving it a very lo-fi verité flavour. With a core cast and no script, the movie was largely improvised, some scenes involving ‘John Q Public’, unaware it was actually a work of fiction. Apparently the fist-fighters, for example, were genuine.

Terry (Dave Lawrence, who made the film) and Dean (Paul Spence) are two young long-haired rocker slobs. Continually shotgunning beers, smoking (fags or weed), and living on diets of appalling junk food. They’re dumb, foul-mouthed and pretty nihilistic.

At first I found myself thinking, what’s the point of this wallowing in the kind of hippy dream turned sour that has created zombie hordes across the US, and – this is set in Canada – North (and no doubt also South) America?

Dean and Terry.

It was horrifyingly salutory to see how large a part of the MAGA/Trumpite crowds of Jan 6th were longhaired losers looking very like the two chief protagonists of this film. But there’s also everyone else; the lads’ families, partners, friends, co-workers/employers, etc. And Farrel and his documentary crew.

All these others, inc Troy/Tron, a former party animal gone ‘square’, are the ‘straight’ world. Dean’s mom [sic!] recites a poem, ‘Woman Is A Danger Cat’, by her son, whilst he plays his sensitive acoustic ballad ‘Rock & Roll Is My Guitar’. Terry’s employer (or is it Dean’s? I forget!) corrects his delusional embellishments on his professional responsibilities. And Troy’s partner tells it like it is, regarding women and their effects on slacker slobs!

In some ways this film, as awful as it is in many ways, has a resonance for me, in that I lived for a while a life a little bit like theirs. The ubiquity of ‘cuss-words’, the aimless boozing and smoking, and the ‘us against the straight world’, were all part of my early twenties hippy-dream-gone-sour interlude.

But whilst we were naive, we were never so moronically dumb, nor so grotesquely ignorant and hypocritical. These dolts love to trash stuff, leaving a trail of litter in their wake (‘the park ranger’s’ll clear it up’). This particular brand of white trash rocker types seem peculiarly American (or Canadian; I have Canadian ancestry*) in their boorishness. From their ‘hockey mullet’ hairdos (very obviously wigs!) to their mix of heavy metal and ‘sportswear’ clobber.

* My grandfather and one of my uncles were Canadians. I still have relatives over there.

Hangin’ out on the stoop…

But, not unexpectedly, several threads are introduced to being a bit more depth. First we learn Dean has testicular cancer. And is kind of in denial. And second, the interactions between Farrel and his crew and their subjects lead to… well, we’ll get to that.

The whole cancer thread is, kind of ironically and paradoxically, the saviour of this movie, which otherwise might’ve been a pointless exercise in Ali-G’esque social satire. In the end it’s awkwardly straight Farrel whose reaction to Dean’s medical emergency catalyses the catatonic headbanger into taking appropriate action, with some chiding from his ex, Trixie.

Farrel starts out mostly off camera, but gradually becomes a more and more key character, until… blam! He’s gone. I won’t say more, not wanting to spoil it too much for those who haven’t seen this. But everything around this crucial episode is very well done, and, like the revelation re Dean’s monster nut, it elevates an otherwise mundane movie, bringing pathos and a degree of subtler human observation that’s actually both well observed and quite moving.

The film was a success at Sundance, and has spawned a sequel, Fubar II, a TV series, and some sort of online offshoots. So it’s done well for a super low budget indie affair (financed by a maxed out credit card and a parental re-mortgage; phew… that could’ve ended very badly!).

Dude’s got style…

It’s very sad to say this, but the film’s low key trashiness, and the imbecilic Everyman types it portrays, make it perfect for the efflorescence of serf-culture that’s been so assiduously cultivated by the evil machinations of recent populist governments – Trump in the US, BoJo in the UK – in the so called developed Western world.

I genuinely didn’t know which way it’d go at the end. And it was nice the way it did turn out. But maybe that’ll be the aspect that makes it so very much a work of fiction? And perhaps the rise of the kind of cultures it documents in the real world won’t turn out to have such a happy ending?

Far from essential or classic, nonetheless, not too shabby. And, whilst I’m not sure I’d say ‘worth watching’, it wasn’t a total waste of time.

Like, wig city, man!

MUSiC/Tech/Art: Polygondwanaland with AI, KG&TLW

Well, this is intriguing!

AI generated – I think? – by the lyrics of the ‘Polygondwanaland trilogy’, by King Gizzard & The Wizard Lizard.

I was all set to not even watch this. Then to dislike it… and now I’m bemused, as I really rather like a lot of aspects of the resulting ‘art’. And I’m intrigued as to how it’s done.