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Thursday, 22 January 2004


It is incredible just how much of our lives is spent in a vague state of day-dream. Wouldn’t it be good to be really focused, even just for a few hours each day?

Do I know what my overarching goals are for this year? Some of them, yes! But without a direction, we just wander around aimlessly.

My musical interests are broad, and widening – that is a good thing. But I do need a road map to follow sometimes.

My interests in reading and writing are also very broad – yes, that’s a good thing too. But the map needs to be set out so that I don’t disappear under a mound of books and CDs.

So, what am I reading and listening to at the moment:


1. Paul du Noyer – Liverpool: Wondrous Place

This is a marvellous book which looks at the music scene in Liverpool since the 50s. It covers all the major bands and artists that came out of Liverpool. It’s brilliant to read about the scene when I was there, and a part of it. Some of the writing also encouraged me to dip back into music that I had forgotten about. If you haven’t read this book yet, you should – it is a great read.

2. Peter Senge – The Dance of Change

This is a book about organisational change – I’ve read about 100 pages of it so far and it is packed full of interesting ideas.


1. Misha Alperin - At Home

Beautiful solo piano album by a jazz pianist. Sounds more like Debussy than jazz.

2. Bob Dylan – John Wesley Harding

Yes, I know I must be virtually the last person to ‘get’ Bob Dylan. But I am now digging back into his really early stuff which is fantastic. This one has ‘All Along the Watchtower’ on it.

3. Antiopic – Allegorical Power Series Vol. 6

A series of albums for free download ( which comprise a lot of strange and wonderful noises from the world of music concrete / avant garde and just plain bizarre.

4. Julian Cope – Autogeddon

Yes, I do realise that he’s completely bonkers. But he does write great melodies, and I love all this barking mad stuff. It’s great to hear someone pursuing things to the extreme.

5. Eberhard Weber – Pendulum

An album of solo double bass sounds a bit worrying, but Eberhard Weber is in a league of his own. This album comprises a set of loops and echoes that build up into some beautiful songs.

Tuesday, 20 January 2004

From the Monkees to Robert Wyatt thanks to Neil Diamond

Neil Diamond wrote ‘I’m a Believer’ – which was a huge hit for The Monkees in the 60s. This song then became a hit all over again for Robert Wyatt in what must be one of the weirdest examples of Top of the Pops missing the point. I saw a clip of Robert Wyatt, in wheelchair, on ToTP – he looks ill at ease with the whole ‘pop star’ thing. But what a marvellous cover version. He did it again some years later with a cover of the Elvis Costello song ‘Shipbuilding’.

So why am I focusing on The Monkees and Robert Wyatt. Well, over the last few weeks I bought the CD collection ‘The Definitive Monkees’ which is a wonderful reminder of how good they were. The sleeve notes also tell the story of them – how they were thrown together for a TV programme that was aimed at capitalising on the Beatles phenomenon that had come over to the US from the UK. What I didn’t realise was just how quickly the four members of the group re-wrote the rules and took over the music making and song writing.

Of course the link to Robert Wyatt is set out above. But the other reason why I mention him is because I recently bought ‘Cuckooland’ and ‘Solar flares burn for you’ – both of which are excellent albums. They demonstrate the singular talent and vision of Robert Wyatt. Over the years he has quietly projected a marvellously self-effacing personality. It’s easy to get carried away with the modesty he displays and not realise just how ground-breaking his work really is.

Monday, 19 January 2004

Disappeared without trace then returns again

Regular readers of weblogs will find, like I do, that even the most dedicated bloggers have to take time out every now and then. I’m sure I’m not the only one who reads the best blogs regularly and then finds that one has stopped writing. Return visits happen every few days, accompanied with the anxiety that they might have stopped writing – moved on to something else. Then there is the relief of finding an entry again.

Well, apologies for disappearing around Christmas and New Year – but I’m back again. I took a much-needed break, and then spend 10 days travelling a lot for work which exhausted me and kept me away from the screen and keyboard.

Now for some serious blogging….