Sunday, 29 December 2013

Concrete. Bulletproof. Invisible.




Is there an implication that a bunch of people actually liked a bona fide cult classic? I’m not sure anyone else ever heard this. But here’s a disc that in that parallel universe would have been a smash – Big Tears by Concrete Bulletproof Invisible. CBI were actually Doll by Doll with Glen Matlock on bass. Wikipedia says:
Doll by Doll were a London based rock band formed by Jackie Leven in 1975. They came to prominence during the New Wave period but were largely ignored by the music press of the time – their emotional, psychedelic-tinged music was judged out of step with other bands of the time.
The original line up was Jackie Leven – vocals and guitar, Jo Shaw – vocals and guitar, Robin Spreafico – vocals and bass, and David Macintosh – vocals and percussion.  This line up only recorded one studio album Remember before Spreafico was replaced by Tony Waite (1958–2003). In this configuration they released the albums Gypsy Blood (produced by John Sinclair) and the eponymous third album, Doll By Doll, before the band split up.
At the time of final LP Grand Passion, only Leven was left of the original line-up, joined by Helen Turner (vocals and keyboards) and Tom Norden (vocals, guitar and bass) with a number of guest musicians, including David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. Mark Fletcher (bass) and Chris Clarke (drums) played with the group live. Doll By Doll finally fell apart in 1983, though Leven, Shaw and Macintosh plus ex-Sex Pistol Glen Matlock, released a single Big Tears under the name “Concrete Bulletproof Invisible” in 1988. Leven became a prolific solo artist, releasing a series of albums featuring more folk orientated material.
In 1983 Jackie (from the Kingdom of Fife) had been mugged and half strangled leading to him losing his voice for a time and giving up singing all together. There were no more Doll by Doll albums and nothing else from Jackie until the mid 1990s when he started to release a string of albums which gave him a genuine cult following. But this one single did sneak out.
Big Tears was a Matlock song, on the b-side was Braid on my Shoulder, written by Leven. These are a cracking pair of songs with all the punch of Matlock’s best powerpunk swagger and Jackie’s still powerful voice. There was a UK 12″ version which added Good Thing and a US 12″ with Love Kills. this was Concrete Bulletproof Invisible’s only record but the name was used as the title of a John Foxx instrumental (the song is credited to Foxx/Leven).
Jackie Leven had a chequered career often on the verge of greater success, never quite grasping it. Sometimes it seemed like deliberate sabotage on his part. In 2000 or thereabouts he settled in the Hampshire village of Botley, just opposite the pub, often popping out for a pint (usually with a vodka in it) or to tour Germany or Norway. A friendship with crime author Ian Rankin led to Rankin naming his last two novels after Leven lyrics. He died in November 2011 six weeks after releasing one of his best albums (Wayside Shrines). One day a song of his will be used in a car advert and suddenly everyone will love him.
mp3 : Concrete Bulletpoof Invisible – Big Tears
mp3 : Concrete Bulletpoof Invisible – Braid On My Soulder
mp3 : Concrete Bulletpoof Invisible – Good Thing
mp3 : Concrete Bulletpoof Invisible – Love Kills

If you visit the very excellent music blog today you'll find this contribution to a series of Cult Classics from the "non musical blog" The Corn Poppy.  

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Gimme an F

There have been a couple of times in my life when I've had what Rab C Nesbitt called an "out  of anorak experience".  This is not quite as life affecting as a near death out of body experience.  It's more a feeling of How did I get here?  How did the course of events conspire for me to be right here, right now with this going on?  You still have that feeling of being an observer of your own life.

One of these experiences involved the legendary Country Joe MacDonald.  Here's the classic Fixing to Die rag.  I would have used the Woodstock version but this is a family show.

Feel Like I'm Fixing to Die Rag, Country Joe and the Fish

Long story short: a bunch of young people with learning disabilities had helped to build a boat.  This was in the summer following the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004.  The tsunami had wiped out much of the Sri Lankan fishing fleet and I knew a man who wanted to do something about it.  He had a project to get 100 or more flat pack fishing boats to Sri Lanka.  The flat packs would be prepared by asylum seekers but he wanted one made up to send out to show what the finished product should look like.  I said hey, we could do that.

So I assembled a top team of people who had never done anything like this before and we built a boat. 

Everyone pitched in, measuring, cutting, hammering, screwing, glueing, carrying, painting. Three and a half days later we had an Oru.  

 There were a number of reasons to carry out this project. One was to make a small, but practical, contribution to the people of Sri Lanka who had suffered as a result of the tsunami. 

There were a couple of other things.  One was to teach some really useful practical work skills and life skills to a group of young adults with learning disabilities.  Another was to say Look world, look what we can do.  We can make a contribution.  Tell the world, tell the local paper, tell our parents, tell our friends, our brothers and sisters.  We made a boat, what did you do?

With the boat ready - and test driven - ahead of schedule we were ready for a Big Launch.  Country Joe was playing at a music festival locally so I sent him an email.  Told him what we were doing, asked him if he'd come along and launch our boat.

Got an email back saying he would be there.  Didn't hurt that his driver was (legendary) spoons player, music promoter and all round good guy, John Roberts.

So we gathered by the river.

And there he was.  He played a couple of songs and then it was time for a symbolic naming ceremony.  We had chosen the name Trinity.  One of our number, Patrick, started to sing "Take me home, Country Joe, take me home, to the place I belong . . ."

We gave Country Joe a bottle of Canada Dry to break over the bow.  Seemed a good idea.  I (that's me in Echo & the Bunnymen tshirt) said to the legendary Country Joe MacDonald "I tried to drink Canada dry once.  Got as far as Toronto."  Boom boom.  He just looked at me and said "I'm a recovering alcoholic too."  And that was when I had my out of anorak experience. 

Thanks to Country Joe, John Roberts and especially the QE2activitycentre Transitions group 2005.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Exhibit: a question of perspective

I'm just going outside . . . , thenewcornpoppy
Once upon a time, a long time ago, artists didn't use perspective.  In the beginning the most important thing or person in the picture was the biggest.  It made sense to order people and objects - as Wikipedia has it - hierarchically according to their spiritual or thematic importance, not their distance from the viewer.  We have got used to seeing pictures with the perspective right - but it doesn't have to be.  Perspective only works for that one person, for that one moment - and hey, all that is is a photograph.  So the picture above could show Captain Scott and  some of his team (Capt Oates on the left) at the South Pole.  But someone standing a  little further away, maybe at a slightly different angle, sees something different.  He can see Amundsen and his Norwegian party reached the Pole first.
. . . and I may be some time, thenewcornpoppy
When you are standing in front of a building, say a church, merrily painting it, so you can sell your pictures in the Arches by the Square Tower on a Sunday afternoon, it makes sense to follow the convention of perspective.  But. If you are trying to paint the Field of the Cloth of Gold you really don't want to be standing in one place.  You really don't want just one perspective.  It is bigger than that.  There is more going on. It doesn't all happen at once. You would need to be omnipresent to see everything.  And you're not.  But the artist can be.  The artist can choose to order not only people and objects but also the timeline of events.  Omni-chuffing-potent.
fishing boats 7, thenewcornpoppy
There are no facts, only interpretations
fishing boats 11, thenewcornpoppy
Every day one should at least hear one little song, read one good poem, see one fine painting and -- if at all possible -- speak a few sensible words.
two brothers, thenewcornpoppy
It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time. People say 'It's as plain as the nose on your face.' But how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds a mirror up to you?
Shallid, the twinkling of an eye, thenewcornpoppy
It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.
George Eliot
 mydarlingclementine, thenewcornpoppy
What we see depends mainly on what we look for.
 John Lubbock
Hull 0, Liverpool 3, thenewcornpoppy
Point of no return 
fishing boats 05, thenewcornpoppy
Line of fire
fishing boats 8, thenewcornpoppy
You gotta have faith
fishing boats 3, thenewcornpoppy
First time

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

train in vain

Say you stand by your man, tell me something  - I don't understand - you said you love me and that's a fact, then you left me, said you felt trapped.  Well, some things you can explain away but my heartache's in me till this day.  Did you stand by me? No, not at all. Did you stand by me? No way.

All the times when we were close I'll remember these things the most. I see all my dreams come tumbling down, I won't be happy without you around. So all alone I keep the wolves at bay, there is only one thing that I can say: Did you stand by me? No, not at all. Did you stand by me? No way.
You must explain why this must be.  Did you lie when you spoke to me? Did you stand by me? No, not at all.
Now I got a job but it don't pay. I need new clothes, I need somewhere to stay, but without all these things I can do, without your love I won't make it through. But you don't understand my point of view, I suppose there's nothing I can do. You must explain why this must be. Did you lie when you spoke to me? Did you stand by me? No, not at all.
 Train in Vain, Clash, London Calling, 1979

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Love animals? Don't eat them!

It's that time of year.   The deep winter festival, the shortest day, the turning point.  You can celebrate the birth of baby jesus if you wish, or maybe saturn*, or maybe mammon.  You can get together with family, a gathering of the clans, and friends.  But before you tuck into your turkey or beef or pork or lamb or lark's tongues in aspic just stop and think.  Do you really want to eat that critter?  Seriously.  You don't have to. 

Imagine never having to eat an animal again.  What a victory for common sense!

 *Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honor of the deity, Saturn, held on December 17 of the Julian Calendar and later expanded with festivities through December 23. Didn't they know it was Christmas time at all?

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

the beginning of a great adventure

All great adventures start with a journey and the best kind of journey is one by train.  In the snow.  Unless it is by boat. In a stiff breeze.  Or maybe by air.  To the sun.  Well, not literally to the sun . . .

A christmas gif for you

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

It's a long way from over

Let it grow,
let it grow
let it blossom,
let it flow
Eric Clapton

I'm the kind of person who would have liked to have lived at the Plaza. I love crystal chandeliers and gold leaf, velvets and mirrors, oriental rugs and marble.
 Candace Bushnell
It's not over. It's a long way from over.
Jimmy Spithill

Thursday, 5 December 2013


Nelson Mandela (July 18 1918 + December 5 2013


 "We will not see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. 

It falls to us to carry forward the example that he set."

Barack Obama

Monday, 2 December 2013

Art is Like Letting Down Car Tyres

From the Chichester Council website:

Graffiti is a form of vandalism. The official term used by the police for graffiti or vandalism is criminal damage: Vandalism in the British Crime Survey ranges from arson to graffiti. Cases where there is nuisance only (e.g. letting down car tyres) are not included.

Contrary to popular belief crimes such as criminal damage and graffiti are not victimless (crimes). Damage to buildings and property is both unsightly and costly to remove. If left unchecked it can ultimately affect business and tourism and send visible signals of decay to the local community.

Chichester District Council is working with a private company to remove all graffiti from public areas as quickly as possible. If you are a victim of graffiti or see some in a public place, please contact Graffiti Solutions on 0845 126 5555

The three fine pieces of graffiti in Chichester pictured above are the result of an exhibition organised by Street Art London.  These particular examples of street art grace the walls of Chichester College, there are a dozen other pieces scattered around the City, including everybody's favourites: Stik People.

These trio at Chichester College are by (from the top) French artist Dscreet, a collaboration between Phlegm and RUN and a wonderful piece by The Rolling People. 

Here's a bit more detail of The Rolling People's vandalism.   With a few words from the Chichester Observer comments section.

 Mr Lawson Baker stressed he was not talking about graffiti, which was generally illegal and often featured wording: “Someone ignorant might consider it graffiti, but street art is completely different. It’s the difference between an amateur painter and a great artist.”

It's no surprise that this was shrouded in secrecy for a year; if the locals had known, they would have objected because it would upset them. When someone deliberately posts things on the Internet to upset people, it's called "trolling". Let's face it, Neil Lawson Baker has brought trolling into the real world and into Chichester.

 While the merits of street art are controversial even in the most modern cities, he has decided to bring it to somewhere that prides itself on tradition. It's about as appropriate as organising a fox hunt with horses and hounds in Islington.

  His frankly juvenile attempts to portray critics as ignorant with, "Someone ignorant might consider it graffiti" are only matched by the frankly juvenile results on the walls of Chichester. The results may be distinctive but you'll find better art in local A level art students' portfolios.

  He goes on to say, "It's the difference between an amateur painter and a great artist." Considering the results and that at least one of them was drinking beer while spraying a wall, it seems reasonable to ask why he invited the amateurs.

Graffiti Removal in Chichester | Reviews - Yell