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Blog Archive: April 2013Newsletter Day
It's the last working day of the month which means it's time for the latest - 98th -edition of our newsletter The Last Working Day Of The Month.
As ever it is BRIMMING with information, not least the fact that we'll be giving away a FREE GIFT with our 100th issue, due out at the end of June. Everyone who's subscribed to the newsletter on the day it comes out will be entitled to a FREE and also EXCLUSIVE album by ME - details will NOT be on the webpage version, you'll have to sign up for the newsletter to get it.
"But what IS this free album of which you speak?" you may ask. Good question! It will be an (approximately) 18 track WHOPPER bringing together pretty much ALL of my solo cover versions, previously released AND unreleased. That means it'll include things like "Glory Days", "Saddle Up", "Vicar In A Tutu" and "Boom Shake The Room" that have been available elsewhere, but also some ODDITIES like "9 to 5", "Keep The Faith" and "Sweet Child Of Mine" that I recorded for various PROJECTS/IDEAS that never quite happened.
It'll ONLY be available via the newsletter, and ONLY for the month that that newsletter is current, so mark it in your DIARIES to make sure you're around to collect it! The only thing I need to worry about now is what to call it...
posted 30/4/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Joan Collins And Iron Man
It was a day of CULTURE round our way on Friday. To kick off, I gently slid out of work early to go an watch "Iron Man 3", which was UTTERLY GRATE. It's amazing that it took Hollywood SO LONG to realise that the best way to make a good superhero film is to make it like a good superhero comic i.e. ACTION PACKED but also FUNNY. I LARFED, I went "OOH!" at The Bit Where Everyone Falls Out Of An Aeroplane, and I really REALLY liked the way that T.Stark and P.Potts BICKER the whole way through. It was ACE.
Also, I realised that I've actually MET one of the writers - Drew Pearce, who co-wrote it with Shane Black, also wrote "No Heroics", and I met him when I went to a preview showing YEARS ago. He's done jolly well for himself!
Then I wandered into THEATRELAND to meet The Star Of My Show for "An Evening With Joan Collins". Now, we BOOKED this via a circuitous route - we'd both read good reviews of "The Audience" feat. Helen Mirren and thought it might be fun to see... about an hour after EVERYONE ELSE had thought the same thing and bought ALL the tickets. The Print On My Page had happened to pick up "Time Out" that week and seen that Joan Collins was doing her one woman show, thought it might be interesting, so suggested we go to that instead.
The aforesaid Beer In My Glass got caught at work, so I ended up going in on my own - the door staff at The Leicester Square Theatre were VERY nice and assured me she'd get in OK (which indeed she did), so I shuffled in to find myself very much one of the youngest people there, in an audience that was 50% early middle-aged gay, 50% late middle-aged heterosexual, ALL in couples. It was a NICE audience to be in, jolly and excited but not TOO jolly and excited, and the Leicester Square is a LOVELY theatre to be in - OOH! The SEATS! They're so COMFY!
I must admit, I wasn't expecting much, but in the end it turned out to be GRATE. She did a sort of "My Exciting Life In ROCK" show (I'm SURE she got the idea off me) with film clips to illustrate the stories, which were by an large HILARIOUS and full of ENORMOUS NAME DROPS. Every so often you had to stop and think "Hang on a bloody minute, that's the ACTUAL JOAN COLLINS over there!"
She looked INCREDIBLE for her age and FULL of energy and very much deserved the TWO standing ovations at the end. They also did a sort of encore when her husband BOUNDED on and asked questions suggested beforehand by the audience. This was a) LOVELY ) also FUNNY, and she ended the whole show rather delightfully with a GAG about having to go and see D.Cameron afterwards. The whole show was LOVELY really - funny, interesting, well done, and HANG ON A MINUTE! That's JOAN COLLINS!
I would heartily recommend BOTH Joan Collins AND Iron Man 3 to anybody: a little bit different in tone, perhaps, but both GRATE!
posted 29/4/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Totally Acoustic Podcast
Let the world THRILL to the news, for LO! after a gap of MANY months there is finally a brand new Totally Acoustic podcast to download!
This was recorded last month and features not only ME doing a couple of songs but also the very very marvellous Enderby's Room. Their set sounds GORGEOUS - I know I always say this, but I do still find it remarkable how BEAUTIFULLY acoustical instruments sound together when they're unencumbered by amplification. It's how they're DESIGNED to be played, and they sound GRATE - especially when HARNESSED to songs as lovely as the songs that this lot play. It's ACE!
And after them there is music of a slightly LESS crafted/delicately played nature, in the form of me and Steve doing Total Hero Team. I thought the best way to present it here would be to just have some short excerpts, with three full songs (presented here online for the first time EVER!). It kind of makes sense, I think - see what you reckon!
I rather enjoyed putting it all together - one of the very few Transferable Skills that I have transferred FROM work to ROCK (rather than the other way round, which has happened surprisingly often) is the fact that when I did the first few podcasts I documented EVERYTHING i needed to do, which has been a BOON over the years, making the whole process much easier to repeat. This meant i was free to listen to it all a couple of times and enjoy the lovely SOUNDS - tho as per, choosing WHICH songs to put in was harder work. Hope you enjoy my choices!
posted 25/4/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Record Shop Day In Altrincham
I set off for distant ALTRINCHAM on Saturday, where I was due to play at Beatnik Records, a brand new record shop opening its doors for the first time on Record Shop Day.
I had to go most of the way there on a MASSIVE Virgin Train (there were about a MILLION carriages) and as usual I was moved to think "Virgin Trains are shit". This time I was moved so to think by the fact that the "reservation screens" weren't working. It was hard to tell because, OBVIOUSLY, the little displays that tell you whether you can sit on a screen are so DARK and TINY you can't see them ANYWAY, but this time, apparently, they were still "downloading" when we set off (and when I, and loads of other people, had had to jiggle their seats around). Two hours later, when I arrived for my change at Stockport, they STILL hadn't started working.
ANYWAY, after that the rest of the day was DELIGHTFUL - the sun was shining and SPRING seemed to be showing up. I strolled through Sunny Altrincham, amazed that anywhere could have SO MANY chip shops (it smelt LOVELY) and arrived at Beatnik to be greeted by Grant and co, who were catering to a HUGE crowd of people who were packing the shop out. So busy was it that soon i was forced - FORCED - to decamp next door to the Belgian Beer Bar (one of THREE in the area, apparently - they like Belgian Beer almost as much as they like CHIPS in Altrincham, and who can blame them?) where I enjoyed some TASTY, yet SENSIBLY STRENGTHED, beers in the sunshine. GOOD TIMES.
Eventually though it was time for me to get on with what I had come to do, so I stood up in the shop window and did THIS:
The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
Clubbing In The Week
My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
Do The Indie Kid
Get Over It
Theme From Dinosaur Planet
The Lesson Of The Smiths
Boom Shake The Room
It was AMAZINGLY good fun to be back doing a "normal" set again - this was the first time I'd done such a thing in over five months - and it was HUGELY gratifying to get one of the best reactions of the day for Get Over It too. People seemed to like it - some people were DETERMINEDLY studying vinyl racks throughout, but it IS a record shop so that's fine, and some took a bit of persuading - one small child took several songs to change his mind from a definite thumbs down to a double thumbs up towards the end - but there was singing along and clapping and general SMILES. I was pleased!
I was also WHOOZY - it turns out that standing in a huge glass window on a sunny day, ROCKING OUT, will do that to you, so a pint of water and a cup of tea were downed in quick succession, before I fell to CHAT with several of the DELIGHTFUL people who had turned up, moving on later to further BEERS imported from next door. It turned out that a lot of the attendees were former members of The Word Magazine's message boards, so I knew I was in good company.
Soon it was time to wobble off home again. It turned out that about ten minutes after I'd gone MIKE JOYCE from THE SMITHS happened to turn out, but that was the ONLY part of the day I would have changed. We've since spoken about a return trip later in the year - I do hope it happens, I had a GRATE day!
posted 23/4/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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The Return To Totally Acoustic
I found myself back in the King & Queen for the first time in AGES last night, for a special one-off edition of Totally Acoustic. I'd originally booked this particular evening because an American Artiste had asked for a gig while he was touring, but when he had to pull out I decided to carry on anyway and a) use half of it as a preview for Total Hero Team and b) book Enderby's Room for the other.
When I got there I found Steve AFEARED as the aforementioned Enderby's Room were already upstairs with HUGE INSTRUMENTS, and he was worried they might be a whole other band, double booked. We're used to people turning up with a GUITAR or a UKELELE or something, so when you see a mini drum kit, DOUBLE BASE, entire KEYBOARD THING and a RANGE of guitars, it can be a bit alarming.
We got set up and a Very Respectably Sized audience arrived, including not only Totally Acoustic veterans Mr M Tiller and Mr T Eveleigh, but ALSO a rare sighting of Fran From Cheshire For Life, our PAL from The Buffs Club of 2011 - he's writing a musical for this year's Fringe, and had come by to pick up TIPS! No, honest, he really had!
I kicked the evening off with a couple of songs - partly because I don't like to just LAUNCH our guests onstage first of all, but mostly so that I had a chance to play The Fight For History at SOME point close to the actual funeral. I then did Clubbing In The Week, as I'd been LEARNING it back up this week, before introducing Enderby's Room.
They were ACE - beautiful songs played beautifully, with all SORTS of tunes and instruments going on. I've said it MANY times before, but it always strikes me that these instruments we play were DESIGNED to be played together, so when you get rid of artifical amplification it always sounds EXACTLY RIGHT. The double bass was especially GRATE, this mighty LUGUBRIOUS sound that made everything sound wonderful.
I liked them a LOT, and as we sat and listened I realised that I'd rather MISSED these evenings. Since I stopped doing them regularly I must admit I haven't THORT that i HAD missed it - doing them regularly tends to turn into a bit of a HASSLE as you're forever trying to get bands sorted out, get people to come, organise promotion and then do the podcast, so my MEMORIES have often focussed on THAT part of it, forgetting sometimes the MIGHTY JOY of sitting in a really nice pub with a load of FRIENDS, listening to ACE music. It was brilliant!
And then Steve and I took to the stage to do the latest version of Total Hero Team. We had a PRACTICE the other night during which we DROPPED two whole songs, as part of our continuing attempt to squeeze it into the hour long slot we'll have in Edinburgh. It all worked FINE without those two songs (you wouldn't notice they weren't there if you didn't know they had been) and it DID get in under an hour... but only just. MAYBE it was because of all the LARFS... although it might also because there was a little bit of MESSING ABOUT, also some bits that didn't go as SMOOTHLY as they might. Still, we have several months in which to exert THEATRICAL ALLEN KEYS and tighten it all up a bit!
The evening ending with the oft-heralded BEST BIT of these shows i.e. the ability to sit around afterwards and have a bit of an old chat, which was LOVELY. The Acts On My Bill and I strolled out into the London evening both thinking the same thing: these gigs are GRATE!
posted 19/4/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Write The Theme Tune, Sing The Theme Tune
Last night Mr T Pattison was in the studio again, doing final mixes on the theme tune and SUNDRIES for A Brief History Of Time Travel. We'd had some online discussion about what needed doing, and it looked like there was a LOT - not only was he doing a big POP HIT final mix of the main theme, but also an instrumental version, some "STABS" (those short bits of music you get sometimes in radio/tv shows to punctuate the action) and ALL the incidental instrumental tracks that had been JAMMED.
Just after eight o'clock I had a call from Tim, which i MISSED. I rang back ten minutes later. "I wanted to ask you opinion of something", he said, "But I've done it now anyway." They'd thought that there should be TWO choruses at the end. "Good Idea" I said.
And that was that - there have been occasions in the past when i've had SEVERAL calls from and to The Studio, but all was STILL for the rest of the night, until around midnight when I checked my email to find that Tim had sent the "final" mix. I say "final" because often the rest of us will hear it and have NIGGLES, sending Whoever Is Producing This Time BACK to try again. No such worries this time - it sounded AMAZING! We'd been talking about making this an Official Single later in the year when the podcast comes out, and I think we'll DEFINITELY be doing so now, as it sounds GRATE! Hooks! Tunes! Danciness! WORDZ! It's FAB!
I was very very pleased - for the past three or four years MIXING has been a TORTUROUS and COMPLICATED process, so I'd forgotten how EXCITING and (seemingly) PEASY it can be when you DON'T have to link it to dialogue sections on other side, add on an orchestra, and then layer it with EXPLOSIONS and DINOSAURS.
Surely THAT had taken all night though? I responded favourably, asking if by any chance they'd had a chance to do the STABS, and LO! Just as I pressed SEND a new email appeared, containing a ZIP of a LOAD of STABS, which all sounded DEAD PROPER. "That must be it", I thought, sending congratulations, but NO! Fifteen minutes later yet ANOTHER file arrived, containing all the instrumental incidentals. I'd asked Tim to turn down the DRUMZ on all of these ones, so they wouldn't STICK OUT as much when placed under dialogue, and BLOW ME but he HAD and it sounded FAB!
As you may have noticed, I am really rather a) please with b) excited about all this. I've just sent the theme tune to the ABHOTT chaps, so I rather hope they agree! In the meantime THORTS are rocketing around about what we can do for a VIDEO for it - HIT PARADE AHOY!
posted 18/4/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Pitch Up at BAFTA
After work on Monday night I strolled through London's Fashionable THEATRELAND Area Of London to head to the headquarters of BAFTA, where there was a special event about PITCHING for Comedy and Drama shows. It had been suggested to me by the esteemed Mr D Green, who works there. He's kindly suggested a FEW similar events in the past, knowing I'm doing the Playwriting/Screenwriting MA, but I've not been able to go before as they always seem to be on MONDAYS when I'm usually AT school. We're still on Easter hols at the moment tho, so I was FREE!
After getting slightly lost (I'm not familiar with Piccadilly, it is WAY outside my hood) I eventually met Dave in the BAR upstairs, where he showed me a GRATE IDEA he is developing. Amazingly, in this day and age, it was an actual THING, with WIRES and CHIPS and stuff, rather than an Idea or Program or WebCloudHologram or something, and tho it is SECRET I can say EXCLUSIVELY that it is Dead Good, Interesting and rather EXCITING.
We finished our beers and headed down for the event itself, which had started a minute EARLY so we had to CREEP IN. There had been a COMPETITION beforehand for people to send in PITCHES for new drama and comedy shows and they'd chosen the best TEN to pitch live at the event. I'd sent in an idea for a show called "Mum & Dad" which, INCREDIBLY, didn't get through - maybe they thought it was CLEARLY TOO GOOD? That's probably it.
The pitches themselves were ALL pretty good, with varying degrees of confidence in the pitchers. It was interesting to see that the people who really WENT for it in a big dramatic way didn't come across as the best - both my favourites were done quite calmly and quietly, but you believed that they totally knew what they were on about, and were full of IDEAS. The judging panel of five Proper Big Media Types offered feedback on the ideas and pitches and asked questions - the PRIZE was to have one of them meet you for more advice and THINKING. The feedback ALSO was dead interesting, not least because they discussed Actual Practicalities a lot more than ARTSY stuff, like the fact that it's much easier to sell something if there's a chance for a second series, or that you can't really have a TV show that features fighter pilots actually FIGHTING in PLANES very much.
At the end we all voted for our favourites, and I was pleased that MY favourite won both the audience vote AND the judges - it was a comedy drama about a family who have a patch in their garden where, if you bury a body, that body will be resurrected next day. It was a good idea REALLY well presented - my second favourite was the aforementioned one with FIGHTER PILOTS in, which came second.
Then we stood around and had a CHAT about Fascinating Things. One of the many good things about going with Dave is that he KNEW people - I'm always afeared at this kind of DO that I'm going to end up stood on my own drinking a beer VERY QUICKLY, maybe lurking NEAR a group of people, then FLEEING at HIGH SPEED. This time we got to talk to a couple of people involved in video games, with MANY interesting things to say - not least that MOST pitches these days would have to have something to say about cross-platform options, like social media strategies, online content, extra videos etc. That alone was worth going to find out - oddly NONE of the ten pitches that evening had mentioned any of this though.
Another good thing about going with Dave is that he knew where the EXTRA FREE BEER was kept (there was FREE BEER as part of the event!!) so we got to have one of those too, and ended up a) being AGHAST to talk to someone about my age, brought up in the UK, who had NEVER HEARD of Jeff Wayne's War Of The Worlds (HOW!?!?) and b) discussing FILMS, fittingly for the location.
It was a brilliant night out, not only EDUCATIONAL but also featuring FREE BEER. WINZ all round!
posted 17/4/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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PBH Free Fringe Album Final Statement
Last night the PBH Free Fringe Benefit Album was DELETED FOREVER after six delightful weeks of being on sale via bandcamp. The point of only having it available for a limited period was THREEFOLD, thus: 1) it meant bands could give me tracks from forthcoming albums/singles that they wanted to use themselves later 2) it gave some URGENCY to proceedings, as the CA$H is needed fairly soon and 3) it stopped the whole process getting too COMPLEX, as (for various reasons) the money was going through my paypal account.
The second point was perhaps the BEST USED in all of this, as it gave me a good excuse to do DAILY TWEETS (an idea suggested by Mr D Green) and COUNTDOWNS, and we did have a last minute FLURRY of purchases right at the very end, tipping us over into just over a HUNDRED sales - 106 all together, in fact. I was rather pleased with this, not least because I'd been UNDERESTIMATING sales all the way through. I forgot that Bandcamp takes its 15% fee by redirecting 15% of paypal payments directly to them, so I was counting how many of these payments came to MY account, not realising there were MORE that I wasn't seeing. I only realised this on Monday morning, so went STRAIGHT from thinking "OH, I wish we'd manage to sell a hundred copies" to "Oh! we DID manage to sell a hundred copies!"
I would have liked to sell a LOT more, obviously, as it's a GRATE cause and a FANTASTIC album with some BRILLIANT tracks, but I think we would have needed to get it onto iTunes for that, to have had some bigger names maybe, including some COMEDIANS perhaps, and to have had a longer run in. But STILL, we raised £463 (after bandcamp fees, and with some lovely people paying MORE than they needed to) which is more than I'd EVER have made with a benefit gig, hopefully introduced people to some new bands, and introduced some BANDS to the idea of what the PBH Free Fringe is all about.
And, of course, we also got to make a FAB album - or, rather, TRIPLE ALBUM. If you're one of the people who bought it then thanks very much, and I hope that you're enjoying listening to it. I know I am!
posted 16/4/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Pappy's - Last Show Ever
On Thursday last week The Gags In My Routine and I went out for A MEAL and THEATRE: it was DEAD sophisticated.
We had TEA in Tibits (always ACE) and then strolled through London's SOHO area of London to the Soho Theatre, to see Pappy's doing their new show, "Last Show Ever". They've always been one of our FAVOURITE things to see at Edinburgh and, as we didn't GO this year, we booked tickets for this MONTHS ago and had been RIGHT looking forward to it.
We were not disappointed, for LO! it was UTTERLY BRILLIANT. I honestly LARFED so much that my FACE hurt all the way home and my CHEST ached until the next morning. It's like watching three Tommy Coopers or Eric Morecambes in that they just LOOK HILARIOUS whatever's going on. I was a bit skeptical beforehand because I'd read reviews saying it was An Emotional Story, so was a) happy that there were still a LOT of sketches but b) actually MOVED when they totally pulled off the Emotional Story bit.
The best thing about them though, as ever, is the way they make it LOOK like they're just titting about throughout, with silly ideas and daft sketches, BUT the longer it goes on the more you realise that everything is LINKED, leading to HUGE pay-offs at the end. Some of it was SPECTACULARLY clever - there's one sketch where they do EXACTLY the same thing three times to different music, getting funnier each time AND relating backwards and forwards to other sections.
They're on for another week, I think, so if you're about in That London I'd HIGHLY recommend getting a ticket, they are my FAVOURITE!
posted 15/4/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Twenty Years Of Lammo
Today is Steve Lamacq's twentieth year as a broadcaster, and Music Week have done a rather MARVELLOUS tribute to him in which lots of Successful And Popular People say how GRATE he is. This is all well and good, but it's not JUST Successful And Popular People who owe a lot to Lammo - he's helped a lot of us Unsuccesful And Unpopular types too!
I first came into contact with Mr Lamacq when we sent some "I Like Voon" stickers to the Melody Maker when he worked there. The phrase "I Like Voon" appeared in the gossip column, and Dr Kneel spoke to Lammo about it on the phone (for the rest of this LONG story, which involved us pretending to have an Australian Covers Band, ask me in the pub). Later on he did a big piece in his column about my booklet/fanzine "The Curse Of Voon", and I THRUST a TAPE (young people: it's like a solid mp3) at him in the Bull & Gate at a John Sims gig. He was, I recall, very nice about it.
My first PROPER contact with him, however, was about 10 years ago, when I'd just moved to London and he was starting his 6Music Sunday show. I'd sent him a copy of This Is Not A Library, he listened to it, and got his producer Henry to ring me. They were going to be playing a track from it next Sunday, he said, and would I like to go into the studio the week after and be on the show?
He'd rung me at work, so I had to go outside and LEAP ABOUT and SQUEAL a bit - I couldn't BELIEVE it! As promised they played You Will Be Hearing From My Solicitor on the next show and then the following weekend I went into the Broadcasting House for a LIVE appearance. As a Studio Assistant took me up to the actual studio he said, in awestruck tones, "the great thing about Steve is that he really does listen to everything people send him." I was surprised - surely ALL DJs listen to everything they get sent, don't they?
But, as I came to discover, that really IS one of the things that makes him special. Very few DJs and/or Producers bother to listen to ANY of the unsolicited tapes/CDs/mp3s/brain holograms (delete as time goes by) they receive - ESPECIALLY when they've got over two decades of ROCK HISTORY behind them - unless it's handed over by a PLUGGER or something, but Steve TOTALLY does - I've seen the BULGING SACK he has to go through every week! So, when people ask me now how I first got to know him they always seem surprised that the answer is "I sent him a CD", without any other contacts, DEADLY SECRETS or SUBTERFUGE. That's just not the way it's usually done.
Anyway, that appearance was the start of quite a LOT of activity on the Sunday show - they asked me to write them a CHRISTMAS song, so I wrote The Advent Calendar Of FACT and I got a large posse of PALS to come along with me to sing it on their Christmas show. During the European Championships 2004 I acted as FOOTBALL CORRESPONDENT and wrote four different versions of The Fair Play Trophy (again), popping into the studio every week to record it. Then, when he moved to DAILY DRIVETIME, I wrote Good Luck In Your New Job and played it live on air on his final Sunday as a SURPRISE.
It was a lovely time, just nipping in every few weeks to do something, and I was always AMAZED about how easy going it all was. One week, mid-way through Euro 2004, Steve was broadcasting from Glastonbury, so I ended up doing my bit all alone in a little room at Broadcasting House. It struck me that I'd been given COMPLETE CONTROL of a national radio station - they'd just trusted me to get on with it!
After the Sunday show finished he continued to support us, including on his Radio One show, Lamacq Live. One day I got another call, from Steve himself. Radio One were cancelling Lamacq Live, so, he said, he'd decided to give us one of the last sessions. I got the distinct impression that this was an act of SCREW YOU THEN devilry, giving a huge chunk of radio time (with MILLIONS of listeners) to the least likely band going, but HEY! I wasn't going to complain. Thus we ended up going to Maida Vale where so many LEGENDS had been before, and performing three songs to the ENTIRE NATION. It's one of the absolute high points of my entire life in ROCK, and it still feels weird to think that it actually HAPPENED. Steve could easily have got in any one of HUNDREDS of managed, promoted, record company approved bands to whom it would have been just another step on their Proper Career, but I think he knew that it would mean a WHOLE LOT MORE to a bunch like us, who were unlikely to ever get the chance to do such a thing ever again. It was MAGIC - especially when, a few weeks later, he played our session version of The Lesson Of The Smiths as his last EVER song on Radio One.
He's continued to be a PAL to us ever since - I bumped into him at St Pancras once and that led to him doing a VOICEOVER for THIS:
As before, there was no need for him to do something as NICE as that, there was nothing at all in it for him, he did it in his own time, it was all his idea, and he never asked for any CA$H nor nothing, he just thought it would be a GOOD IDEA. Shortly afterwards Regardez, Ecoutez et Repetez was Album Of The Day on 6Music - he never said anything about it but I very much suspect The Hand Of Lammo in making that happen, possibly again with a hint of NAUGHTINESS to it. I don't think I'll ever forget George Lamb HAVING to play Do The Indie Kid and TAKING IT OFF because he couldn't stand The Music Of The Future any more!
And these, of course, are just MY memories of being helped along by Lammo. He does this sort of thing for all SORTS of bands, ALL THE TIME. He seems to ALWAYS be out and about at gigs in London, ALWAYS looking out for something ACE and you'll OFTEN find him at some point having a chat with people in bands, EITHER giving advice OR talking nonsense OR both. He sometimes gets slagged off for discovering/favouring popular, straightforward bands like Coldplay, but that's just the ones people have HEARD of. I can testify personally that he does exactly the same for a lot of bands that hardly ANYBODY else likes, just because he thinks it's a good idea!
In summary then: I'd like to wish him at LEAST another twenty years of ROCK, and thank him very very much INDEED for everything he's done for us, and that he continues to do for all sorts of bands, popular and otherwise.
posted 12/4/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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She Invented Windows Vista
The Fight For History is very much my Grown-Up Meditation on the death of Thatcher, but in the words of YODA (who waged battle against Emperor Palpatine, another "divisive" Conviction Politician), "There Is Another".
And that other is That Was Margaret Thatcher from Moon Horse, which I present to you NOW in this LIVE VERSION:
It is an ACCURATE HISTORICAL BRIEFING.
For those FEW who haven't seen the show, about three quarters of the way through it is revealed that The Secret Evil Empress Of England (Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), who has been guiding The Mars Men Of Jupiter in their dastardly schemes is the aforesaid Margaret Thatcher. This was one of my FAVOURITE parts of the show, doing the line "Perhaps you know me better as..." with my back to the audience was GRATE, then turning round like a Panto Villain in my Thatcher wig to assorted GASPS and BOOs was WONDERFUL. All through the run of the show there was only ONE person who objected to my PORTRAYAL of her as a force for evil - one day during our fortnight in Edinburgh a lady very loudly said "QUITE RIGHT!" after the line "Say what you like about her, you always knew just where you stood"... and then STORMED OUT after the next line, which was "Up to our eyeballs in cold shite". This made me JOLLY HAPPY.
For the entire year we DID the show, however, I was in a constant state of PANIC in case she actually DIED, thus making it pretty much impossible for us to DO the show. I wondered if MAYBE we could get away with it, and even get some PUBLICITY for being SICK or something, but that's not something that ever really appealed, and so I ended up being one of the very very very few people in the country who LIVED through her regime who was wishing her GOOD HEALTH.
At the end of the show we even presented a vision of what would happen to Thatcher after death - Harold Wilson arrived to take her to The Heaven Of Prime Ministers. I wonder if she's there now? Sharing a room with Ted Heath... FOREVER.
UPDATE: I've done it as a soundcloud thingy of just the song too:
posted 9/4/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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On The Day That Thatcher's Dead
I'll never forget where I was when I heard Thatcher had resigned as prime minister- in a very dull lecture about Politics at Leicester Polytechnic. Our lecturer (who was, for the time and place, EXTREMELY right wing i.e. A Little Bit) said "Margaret Thatcher, who may not be Prime Minister for very long..." and someone put their hand up and said "No! She resigned this morning!"
It seems WEIRD to even think of something happening that way now - I'd had breakfast, wandered through Vic Berry's scrap yard, and been sat in a lecture for HOURS without knowing the Big News Of The Day. TODAY, when the Big News was announced, i knew within SECONDS, being first alerted by a text from Mr W Pilkington, closely followed by a LOT of other texts, tweets, emails, and facebook. Thatcher, everyone was saying, is dead.
And blimey, it feels really WEIRD. It's like January 1st 2000 or something, a day looked forward to for DECADES which finally turns up and... is the same as any other, really. Living under the EVIL YOKE of Thatcherism back in the eighties, when the country was in recession and there was a threat of nuclear war (DISTANT DAYS, i know) we regularly fantastised about her being killed, and working out what you'd do on the day of her death was a regular topic of conversation. It's strange - I bet nobody ever did that about Harold Wilson or Ted Heath, and I'm sure nobody does it now about Cameron. As loads of people in the media are saying TACTFULLY today, she was "divisive". By which they mean "Everybody sensible HATED HER but my BOSS thought she was great so I have to be careful."
This is quite different to how I expected things to turn out today - when Ronald Reagan died the Public Agenda was set ENTIRELY by the press and TV media, so it was a load of old bollocks about how ace he was, what a great leader, and nothing about the rollicking ride towards nuclear oblivion that he led us on, or how he (and Thatcher) did everything they could to profit the rich and destroy the poor. It even drove me to write a song about it, predicting the same would happen with Thatcher.
But, actually, it hasn't yet. The MIGHT of social media means that NORMAL PEOPLE have a chance to speak their mind IMMEDIATELY and say what WE thought of her and her legacy. Now, obviously, feelings are very slightly muted by the fact that she ended her life as a poorly old lady with dementia, and, despite everything, it STILL isn't nice to take joy in someone's painful death. HOWEVER, that doesn't mean we need to instantly forget everything she stood for, nor should we fail to stand up for the view of history held by those who live through her reign, rather than that of those who profitted from it.
What I'm basically trying to say is that we should fight for history, on the day that Thatcher's dead.
posted 8/4/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Having spent the weekend looking in MUSEUMS and that, me and The Painting In My Frame continued being DEAD SOPHISTICATED by going to an ART exhibition last night, Amongst Heroes: the artist in working Cornwall at Two Temple Place.
It was actually our THIRD attempt at going - the first time we'd got the wrong day for late opening, the second we were booked for A Cornish Evening Of Song which got CANCELLED (so i got a pasty and we went to the pub instead) - but WELL worth the wait, as it was utterly BRILLIANT. Two Temple Place is a crazy/gorgeous building in its own right, and was worth going for how Slightly Potty it is, with rooms having sculptures based on (i think) Lord Astor's favourite BOOKS from around when it was built.
The paintings were from 18th/19th century painters based around St Ives and Newlyn, mostly Stanhope Forbes (why yes, i DID read all the labels) showing working people in Cornwall doing WORK. You get so used to seeing paintings of Important Figures From History and THE SUPER POSH in paintings that it was slightly mind blowing to see ACTUAL PEOPLE, especially when the SAME actual people popped up in different pictures - there was one fisherman in a red beret, white smock and MOUSTACHE that seemed to be in half of the fishing ones. My favourite BIG painting was "A Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach" which was ASTOUNDING and gorgeous, but the best part of the exhibition as a whole was on one of the landings, where they had small portraits of individuals. They REEKED of character and humanity and Actual LIVES - again,when you're used to seeing the same chinless privileged arrogant twits in all old paintings, it comes as a bit of a shock to be confronted with people who look like you could bump into them in the street outside.
ALSO also pretty amazing was seeing sort of Impressionist (again: i read all the labels) style painting applied to places I have actually BEEN. I've only visited St Ives a couple of times, but it looked very familiar in the paintings to how I remember it, and I'm pretty sure we've been to Newlyn too... though it'll have been with my Dad, so we probably nipped to the pub at some point.
ANYWAY the point is: it was BLOODY GRATE. As I always say, living in That London can be a bit of a pain at times, but the ability to wander along to FANTASTIC things like this after work, for FREE, doesn't half make up for it!
posted 4/4/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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The Minerals In My Spring and I went off for a PROPER GROWN-UP Easter Away Weekend City Break this Easter, for three whole nights in BATH, and LO! It was GRATE!
The best thing of ALL was that we went to the Thermae Bath Spa - I was expecting it to be an Ancient Roman place with a big smelly BATH in the middle of it, but it was all DEAD modern, also rather SWISH. We spent FOUR HOURS wandering around in BATHROBES, dipping into a ROOFTOP POOL, a massive steam room and a whole other POOL which had JETS in it so you could get drifted around. It was UTTERLY ACE, like being in something off the TELLY. It was also packed out with Women On Hen Nights Being RELAXED (we went in the morning) and a TONNE of COUPLES also being relaxed and SMOOCHY. Having typed that it sounds less pleasant than it was, but basically it was like being in a really really nice PUB, but everybody was in their swimming costumes, also in a pool.
The other best thing was the Bizarre Bath Walk which was a 90 minute stroll around while a comedian did JOKES and MAGIC TRICKS. It was bloody GRATE - a huge MOB of us walked around and LARFED. Also rather good, if a bit different, was Bath Abbey (I do like a good cathedral, even when they don't CALL it a Cathedral) and our favourite PUB, The Crystal Palace, which we went to a LOT. Ooh, and we even went out for a POSH MEAL at a place called De Muths. It was DEAD POSH - all veggie, but not like a veggie cafe, everything was JOLLY SUBTLE and DELICATELY FLAVOURED. As The Grub On My Plate remarked, it's not the sort of place you'd want to eat all the time - you'd hanker for CHIPS after a while - but it was lovely to go to and we would do AGANE.
In fact i think it's highly likely we WILL go again, tho there's a few things I'd be unlikely to repeat. One is the City Sightseeing Tour, if only because we did BOTH of their trips, which were EXCELLENT as ever - anyone who has ever travelled ANYWHERE with me will know i am a FAN of this company. "Go on an open top bus tour within 24 hours of arriving in a city", I will tell all and sundry, "for then you will get yr bearings and also some FACTS!"
The Jane Austen Centre, however, I'd not go to because it felt like a bit of a rip off. Jane Austen lived in several houses in Bath, but this wasn't one of them, although it was QUITE NEAR somewhere she lived for a few weeks. And didn't like. They had a "museum" downstairs where, as far as I could see, the only ACTUAL item from anywhere near Jane Austen times was A PAIR OF SOCKS. We did get a ten minute talk right at the start from someone who was FUNNY and KNOWLEDGEABLE, but to be honest it did feel like we'd paid fifteen quid for entry to a cafe and Jane Austen Themed Tat Shop.
The other thing we'd probably not do was go to the same hotel. We stayed at the Abbey Hotel (Best Western), which was nice enough except a BIT expensive, and had a COACH LOAD of RUGBY FANS/STAG WEEKENDERS on our floor who sat in the hotel bar until 4am every night then spent up to an HOUR running up and down corridors, singing, shouting, knocking on doors, and generally being TWATS. You know when you get a bunch of total wankers together, like on a train or something, and there's always a little weaselly one who SHRIEK-GIGGLES at everybody else? We heard a lot from him. I did complain at reception and they apologised... but kept serving the idiots until 4am that night anyway.
On the plus side I did call them A VERY RUDE WORD as I passed them in the corridor one morning. "Did that bloke just call us [VERY RUDE WORD]s?" one of them asked, surprised. It made me feel better anyway!
Apart from those two things, however, we had a BLOODY LOVELY time in Bath. Even the fact that trains were a bit knackered and it took an hour longer than normal each way was PLEASANT - it made it worthwhile getting a Weekend First upgrade and RELAXING. Bath! It's dead good! We'll be back!
posted 2/4/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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