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Here At Last is here! At last!
Today is the RELEASE DAY for the latest single from Jane and John and I am QUITE excited about it. I always get excited on Release Day, and always give myself a stern talking to about it. "Nothing ever happens on Release Day," I tell myself. "You rarely get radio play on the day itself, and any Exciting Things tend to happen a few days later." I always nod obediently to myself at this point and then, as soon as I'm not looking, go and get ALL EXCITED again.

The single is a DOUBLE A-SIDE called Here At Last / Boing Boing and you can get it on ALL streaming services (e.g. Spotify, Amazon, iTunes) or direct from us via our Bandcamp page. It's a SPORTS-THEMED EP, with Here At Last being about how GRATE it is to finally be able to get together for events like the Euros and the Olympics, while Boing Boing uses TENNIS as a METAPHOR for LIFE. They are both ACE!

Both songs will have videos as well, with the one for Boing Boing being UNLEASHED a little bit closer to the start of Wimbledon. The one for Here At Last, however, is available right NOW, right HERE:

As ever, any shares, likes, mentions, or good old-fashioned usages in major TV coverage of international sporting competitions are very much appreciated. Both these songs have been a long time in the making, so I'm mostly just happy that they're finally OUT there for people to listen to - I hope you like them!

posted 7/6/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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Jane and John are BACK
Those who follow the Jane and John Twitter account (i.e. all the GROOVY people) will already be aware that we a) are BACK and b) have a new single out next week!

The single is a double A-side featuring two GRATE new tracks - "Here At Last" and "Boing Boing". They're both sport-themed, with "Here At Last" being about events like the Euros and the Olympics FINALLY happening and us being able to celebrate them with PALS, whereas "Boing Boing" is a deep philosophical THORT-PIECE tied into a cunning tennis metaphor that has a chorus involving the phrase "Boing Boing" a LOT.

They are both BRILLO, and I'm really really looking forward to people actually getting to HEAR them next week. We have spent literally MONTHS working on them, HONING each track to be as FAB as we can make it, and I feel that the levels of FAB we have reached are HIGH. You can judge for yourself on Monday 7 June when it comes out, but in the meantime do check that there Jane and John Twitter account for more details and a big COVER REVEAL tomorrow!

posted 1/6/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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It was Bob Dylan's 80th birthday last week, and there was so much HOO-HA about it that I thought I should probably have a listen to him again. As anyone who has ever spoken to me during the period November to January will know, I listen to Bob Dylan A LOT, specifically his (AMAZING) Christmas Album, but it's AGES since I listened to much else, so as a special BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE I have spent much of the past few days doing exactly that.

I started off with "Highway 61 Revisited", which is of course UTTERLY BRILLIANT. It's one of those records where you forget just HOW brilliant it is, until you put it on and find yourself GURNING ALONG as you shout the lyrics, and also dance about a bit. Similarly "Bringing It All Back Home" was HUGE amounts of fun - this is definitely a record that I remember being more Boring Dylan than Fun Dylan, but it turned out to be MUCH more the latter.

Next on the list was "Freewheelin'" which I remembered CORRECTLY as being a bit dreary, and was if anything even more so that I recalled. With that in mind I decided to AVOID the other Boring Dylan records and go straight to "Blonde On Blonde" which remains one of the MOST GRATE records ever made. COR BLIMEY, it's exciting just LISTENING to it, I can hardly imagine what it must have been like to have been in the actual room when that ALMIGHTY RACKET was going on. Apparently B Dylan kept trying to recreate that sound over the decades that followed and I am not surprised as it is THE BEST SOUND EVER. I love the fact that you can HEAR them having a brilliant time, and realising that they were making an astonishing sound even while they were doing it. Ooh, I want to go back and put it on again now!

I then briefly got a bit stuck - I do OWN various other B Dylan records (mostly from previous occasions when I've listened to the three GRATE ones above and thought "I need MORE!") but they've never really stuck. I did think about asking for recommendations, but luckily various PALS did that without asking, and I got three MORE to have a listen to.

I've had a go at "Blood On The Tracks" in the past and never really got into it, as it sounds a bit SEDATE, and the first time around it did so again. HOWEVER, as several people had mentioned it as their favourite I thought I'd better give it a couple more goes and in doing so finally GOT IT, to the extent that I have had "Idiot Wind" going round my head for two days. Next was "The Basement Tapes", which sounds a BIT like "Blonde On Blonde" in terms of LARKS/Crash Bang Wallop but not quite as good, and also the version I had appeared to have had all of the HITS removed and replaced by The Band doing some of their own stuff. It improved MARKEDLY once I started just SKIPPING The Band songs, but I think what I need is one of them Spotify Playlists which does that for me and adds in "Mighty Quinn" and so forth.

While discussing all this on The Social Media I mentioned that The Basement Tapes is a sort of proto-Travelling Wilburys which a) is an excellent point if I do say so myself but b) uncovered a terrible truth, that one of my oldest friends has apparently NEVER LISTENED TO THE TRAVELING WILBURYS! I partly blame myself, but also I must lay some blame on The Government - my understanding was that, after the success of giving every parent in the country a copy of "Bob Marley Legend" in the mid-1980s the government then issued everybody with copies of "Brothers In Arms", "Gracelands" and "Traveling Wilburys Vol.1" but perhaps certain Peterborough postcodes were omitted from this scheme? It is a historical injustice that must be rectified!

Anyway, FINALLY I had a listen to "Oh Mercy" which I think of as one of his most recent albums, but turns out to have been released approx 300,000 years ago. For some reason I BOUGHT this when it came out, despite never having listened to any Bob Dylan records before, and I can't for the life of me work out why. The following year I would get a load of Dylan TAPES off of Dr N Brown, who was responsible for MUCH WIDENING of my MUSICAL BRANE, but this was before then so I've no idea what was going on. Anyway, listening to it now I was surprised by how many HITS there were on it, and how enjoyable it is - yes, a lot of the songs are him going "Oh I am extremely fed up and, apparently, a bit tired" but it sounds LOVELY.

And there my DYLAN ODYSSEY ended, for now at least. I suppose I should really go and listen to that new album he put out last year, which I bought, listened to once, and then put McCartney III back on instead... or maybe I should go and look for that playlist instead? Either way, I think this whole experience has proven two (2) important FACTS: 1) Bob Dylan is DEAD GOOD 2) Reviewing music is PEASY!

posted 31/5/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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Live In Session
Last time here I UNLEASHED a video of a song what I wrote during, and about, the early chunk of Lockdown. That was the only song I wrote ABOUT The Current Situation, but it's not the only song I wrote DURING it. I've had two BATCHES of songwriting in fact, on right at the very start of All This, and then another about six weeks ago, where there was a DELUGE of songs, some of which I believe are Quite Good!

These have now been DEMOED and sent to The Validators, so hopefully some of them will be available on our next release (which going by our usual speedy standards will be sometime in the 22nd century!) but in the meantime you can hear ONE of these songs on a SESSION what I recorded for Mr S McHugh on his Regalnet Radio show, HERE:

The new song's called "Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?" and, like most of the new songs, is based on my THORTS while at home for the past year. There's also a couple of older songs PLUS my own version of Our Year by Jane And John, which is slightly more SHOUTY than the original!

posted 24/5/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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Rocking Out But Quietly
While going through the ARCHIVES of my unlisted videos on YouTube I found a couple of other, non-gig, ITEMS that have never properly seen the light of day, including THIS from March last year:

It's called "Rocking Out But Quietly" and, as you can probably gather from the title and lyrics, it was recorded right at the start of the very first lockdown, when everyone thought saying "see you on the other side" meant in a few weeks, rather than over a year. It was written for a THING in The World Of Showbiz and, as usual with THINGS in The World Of Showbiz, it was all a bit DISCONCERTING.

It all began when a very nice person of my acquaintance forwarded my details to some other people who were putting together an online show to "help people through lockdown" (there was a lot of this sort of thing back then!) and wanted to include a song ABOUT it all. As ever with these forays into The World Of Showbiz it was all very exciting at the start, with phone calls back and forth about what sort of song they wanted, me offering various ideas, and much jollity on the phone. For some reason people in The World Of Showbiz always want to talk on the phone and call you "mate" all the time - it's NOTICEABLE, and I fear I may even have joined in after a while!

And then, as happens so often with The World Of Showbiz, all communication suddenly stopped completely. I emailed a couple of times to see what waas going on, but there was no response at all, no phone calls, nothing. The next I knew about it was some weeks later when I saw the THING being advertised, with a bunch of people who were more well-known people than ME in it - ny guess, based on previous experience, is that somebody better known than me (of which there are many!) came along with a song instead, and so I was dropped.

I've come to realise that this is seen as Normal in The World Of Showbiz, that there's so many people trying to "make it" that anyone who has any kind of showcase can just drop anyone completely without having to feel bad about it, and this is just accepted. It must be horrible for actors especially, who go through this every day - it does of course happen in ROCK, but much less often, as a) you're not trying out for stuff every day and b) people are generally nicer! I try not to get TOO annoyed about it, but it's still WEIRD when it actually happens.

ANYWAY, by the time The Thing had happened and I was sure that the song wasn't being used the general MOMENT for Songs About Early Lockdown had passed, so it languished in my ARCHIVE... until now! I hope you enjoy it and who knows, maybe now we WILL get to the other side in a few weeks!

posted 20/5/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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Gigs Of The Past - Hey Hey 16K
Following on from the video of 'Moon Horse' last time, today I've got another me (and Steve) show for you - Hey Hey 16K!

This show is, of course, VERY MUCH AVAILABLE as an actual properly filmed DVD available directly from Go Faster Stripe, and I would urge - URGE - you to buy it from there as I still feel terrible about the fact that the lovely Mr Chris Evans (not that one) spent proper money putting it all together and has, I suspect, nothing much more than boxes and boxes of unsold DVDs to show for it.

That recording is Quite Good, and includes several DVD extras, whereas the video I'm showing today is not particularly brilliant, but does feature some singing along from the audience!

It filmed on the second night of our (two night) run at The Camden Comedy Festival in 2015. The night before we had had pretty much a FULL HOUSE, honest, no really we totally did, so it was a shame we didn't film that one too, but this was a GRATE night as well. It's funny with 'Hey Hey 16K', after doing LOADS of shows I'd finally realised that making everything A Bit Complicated just made it... well, A Bit Complicated, and so for THIS show I tried to write it with a single narrative that people could actually understand. Previously people had got a bit confused DESPITE the FACT that Steve and I are both obviously GRATE actors who can definitely do lots of different voices and create entirely different characters in a split second, so this one's got less different characters in it and a clearer story, which leaves room (it turns out) for some more JOKES, also a DANCE ROUTINE and some CIRCUS SKILLS!

It all turned out pretty niftily, or at least I think so anyway. Have a look and see for yourself, and if you like it please assuage some of my guilt and get a copy of the proper version - there are definitely plenty of copies left!

posted 17/5/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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Gigs Of The Past - Moon Horse!
The whole idea of doing these 'Gigs Of The Past' came from finding a bunch of DVDs in one of my drawers, and realising that the world - and HUMAN HISTORY - needed to have access to these vital documents.

There must be LOADS of DVDs like this gathering dust in the cupboards and lofts of the world, possibly stacked on top of the VIDEOTAPES that came before them. Nowadays of course we would simply take these historical records direct from our phones and whack them on The Social Medias, but back at the start of the decade this was not quite so straightforward. We still tended to be filming on Actual Cameras, broadband speeds were a lot slower so it took AGES to upload things, and (possibly as a result) the conventional wisdom was that you shouldn't put anything too LONG online, as nobody would ever watch it all.

That might explain why some of the NEXT batch of Gigs Of The Past have not really seen the light of day until now, as they are Quite Long. Take for instance today's UNLEASHMENT: a full-length recording of me and Steve performing Moon Horse VS The Mars Men Of Jupiter back in 2011.

The gig took place at The Lexington on a Sunday afternoon, which I THINK means it must have been part of The Hangover Lounge, a DELIGHTFUL Sunday Afternoon THING which was all the rage back in the heady days of Actually Going To Pubs. It doesn't say so in the original blog about it, but I'm pretty sure we did some of the other shows there too. For some reason, my memories of this particular Sunday Afternoon In The Pub are slightly hazy, despite the fact that it was my BIRTHDAY. What can it possibly mean?!?

I do remember being quite NERVOUS beforehand, as it was one of the very first performances of the show, but I also remember it being lovely. Pretty much EVERY performance of 'Moon Horse' was a DELIGHT - it may not have been the easiest of our shows to follow for audience but it was a whole heap of FUN for US, and it had some of my very favourite characters in it, especially Tiddy The Tin Man and The Mars Men Of Jupiter. Also, looking at the video now, I am impressed by how PROPER the Performance Space looks. The show took place upstairs at the Lexington, but NOT on the stage, as it might appear. We performed on the venue floor, sideways on to the stage but in front of a wall with a MASSIVE curtain, so it looks like we are in an actual FRINGE venue of some kind.

It was a lovely afternoon and a show filled with EXCELLENT memories. The only problem with watching it all again, I now realise, is that it has LODGED the theme tune back in my BRANE. Apologies in advance if it does the same for you now!

posted 12/5/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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Gigs Of The Past - Inventing Friday Night
Today we've got the final blast from the past in this brief series of recently unearthed historical documents what I found in a drawer... although not the end of Gigs Of The Past!

This time we've got the full-band Validators performance of My Exciting Life In ROCK where I told all the usual stories, at sometimes slightly unusual length, and then The Validators ROCKED it (acoustically) in a tent.

The tent involved was pitched at the Midlands Railway in Butterley, for LO! this all happened at the wonderful Indietracks Festival on Friday 25 July 2008, where it was filmed by Mr Michael Prince. Until this point the festival had happened on the Saturday and Sunday, but as people were generally turning up on the Friday night anyway they decided to have a go at putting something on the Friday night too, and asked us to INAUGRATE it for them. Since then all sorts of famous people have performed on the Friday, BUT WE WERE FIRST!

My memories of the evening were that a) it took some WORK to keep it all thing going, as we were only partly amplified and TENTS don't tend to be terrific for acoustics b) I very much enjoyed doing a gig barefoot, and also c) Miss E and Miss L Pattison basically upstaged me the whole way through. What I DIDN'T remember however was that, according to the original blog, this was the very first time we ever did THE TIGER'S ROAR! It was so NEW that we didn't even know that was it's name at the time, but over the years it has come to be a HIGHPOINT of our entire show!

I hope these old videos are of interest - I've really enjoyed looking at them, even if it's made me feel a bit knackered just THINKING about how many gigs we did back then, and if anybody has any other videos lying around, do let me know. As I say, this is the end of the gigs I've digitised from DVDs found in a drawer, but while uploading them I found a whole load of OTHER gigs that I uploaded years ago but never showed off, so we'll be carrying on with some of those next time!

posted 10/5/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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Gigs Of The Past - The Red House
Today we're leaping forward three years to one of my busiest years in ROCK, when I did a LUDICROUS 72 gigs over the course of the year. Yes yes, I know, B Dylan, B Springsteen et al have probably done many more than that per year in the past, but B Dylan, B Springsteen et al didn't also have full-time jobs did they?

One of the reasons for the huge number of gigs during this and the following years was that, as well as TOURING THE NATION on a weekly basis, I was also doing the first of the Me And Steve Fringe shows - My Exciting Life In ROCK!

This was the show based on Steve's suggestion that I do "all of the good stories" and "all of the good songs", so that is basically what it was! Today's video was filmed on 7 July 2008 at The Red House, Sheffield by Mr Michael Prince, and it was meant to be a warm-up for our week-long run at the Edinburgh Fringe the following month. However, when I rolled up I found that it was actually a normal multi-band show and I only had a half hour slot, so did an ABBREVIATED version, as you can see here:

As it says on the original blog about it, I had a LOVELY evening as I so often do in Sheffield, with a whole heap of delightful pals, and that's probably why I staggered off into the night afterwards and got completely lost. I distinctly remember walking along dark streets thinking "Something familiar will crop up soon" and it never doing so, and being IMMENSELY relieved when I was able to flag down a taxi, especially when I realised I'd been going in entirely the opposite direction to where my actual hotel was!

There's just one more video to go in this short series, ALSO filmed by Michael, so do join me next time for a remembrance of the time we invented a whole NIGHT at a festival!

posted 6/5/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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Gigs Of The Past - Malcfest
Today's gig nominally took place in Catford in September 2005, but in my heart it happened in Lewisham. For LO! this was Malcfest, an event run by Mr Malcolm Gayner who was a huge part of (what I always thought of as) The Kooba Scene, based around the pioneering internet radio station and gigs at The Fox & Firkin in Lewisham. There was a whole heap of wonderful bands who gigged there and got played on Kooba, and all SORTS of larks and hijinks emerged from it. It was a huge part of my life back then, and introduced me to a truckload of DELIGHTFUL people.

So, even though this took place in the back yard of Malcolm's house in Catford I always think of it as Lewisham - have a look and see what part of South London it strikes you as:

The first thing you might notice, apart from my hairiness and bright t-shirt, is that my voice sounds like it's being piped in from miles away. The reason for this is that Malcolm had a MASSIVE PA system which everythig was being played in from, and he took the audio recording from that. The PA system was in the front room of the house with all the doors shut, so you could vaguely hear it outside but not much. I think the idea was that some people were in the front room GROOVING (NB bands supplying GROOVE were playing later) but there was also some idea that by shutting the doors it made everything louder without upsetting the neighbours too much. I didn't understand it at the time and I don't really now! I do remember it being a fun afternoon though - I have always enjoyed a back yard gig, especially when there is Performers' Beer provided, and I think there was a barbecue too.

This gig was near the start of my decade of constant gigging, around the point when I'd developed an "Uberset" of songs which I knew I could play anywhere and usually get a good reaction from the extremely varied types of crowds I was playing to - nowadays we would call this a set of "Guaranteed Bangers". The only "problem" I had with this was that these songs came from all over the place within my OUVRE, so when people asked to buy a CD at the end of the show (as they sometimes did) it was difficult to recommend something, and the recorded versions of the songs would be very different to those they'd just seen me do solo.

Thinking back, this was a nice problem to have, and what I should have done was just give away extra CDs or something. What I DID do however was record the entire set on the appropriately titled The Uberset album. I originally intended to record it totally live at this gig, which is why I mention it, but as you can see from the video I very quickly made far too many mistakes, probably due to being nervous about recording it, so gave up on that idea and just had a nice time instead, returning a few weeks later to record the actual album.

It was a lovely, if rather busy, time, though I wish I hadn't been quite so enthusiastic about pressing copies of this album - I've still got bloody loads of copies left!

posted 4/5/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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Gigs Of The Past - Live At The Bull And Gate
Today's gig of the past was a GRATE one at The Bull & Gate on 29 January 2005 which we, especially ME, enjoyed a LOT, as you can probably tell from the rather excitable blog what I wrote the day after. As I said last time, these videos come from the brief time when we were on the "up", getting radio play and doing gigs regularly enough to generate an ongoing AUDIENCE - this one comes from 2005, a year in which I did 47 gigs with and without the Validators, and was the start of a HECTIC decade or so when I did over 50 gigs every YEAR!

The main thing I remembered about this gig was the fact that we'd bought a DVD of it - I played The Bull & Gate loads of times, and had previously had the lighting guy tell me he could do us a proper live video for 85 quid, which seemed a LOT. However, for this one we had an audience large enough for us to actually get PAID (possibly the only time this ever happened for these sort of Bull & Gate gigs) so went for it, and I'm very glad we did! Maybe the audience size was due to the fact that we made a FLYER?

It was a wonderful night, and it's brilliant to have a recording of us playing live where it doesn't sound as Crash Bang Wallop as it usually does - we sound pretty good! There's another Validators gig to come later, but before then I'm afraid you'll have to put up with a couple of solo gigs that sound somewhat lo-fi!

posted 28/4/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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Gigs Of The Past - Back To Hull
The other day I was having a look through one of my Drawers Of CDs And DVDs, specifically one of the ones where I keep stuff related to me and The Validators. These are relics of a fairly specific window in time when recording stopped being tapes, videos and DATS, but before it all went properly digital and online, so the stuff in there includes various rough mixes of things we recorded in the 2000s, our Actual Radio One Session (it's got the logo on it and everything!), and a few DVDs of gigs. I've often thought I should probably DO something with the latter and, inspired by the recent work of Sorted Supremo Dave Dixey in putting some of HIS mighty archive online, I thought I'd have a go myself.

THUS I dug out my USB CD/DVD drive, which thankfully still worked, and after various attempts finally worked out how to transfer the contents of a DVD to something you could upload to YouTube. It was really hard to get it working, but once I'd got it sorted it was PEASY so I did THE LOT! That means that over the next couple of weeks I'll be SHARING them with you. As I say, they're all from a fairly narrow window of time, between 2004 and 2008, but there's some fun stuff in there.

So, the first item is an almost complete recording of our gig at the Hull Adelphi in May 2004, recorded by the always marvellouos Mr Eddy Bewsher:

It was a FANTASTIC night - according to the original blog about it there were 150 people there to see us, which seems entirely unfeasible now, and was quite amazing then too. Rather wonderfully this era of DVDs also covers our very brief POMP when we were on the radio a bit, so there are audiences! We even got an ENCORE - it's not included on the video, which is probably for the best as it featured me forcing The Validators to play "I Can See Clearly Now" despite us never ever having playing it before. It still comes up in setlist conversations as An Act Never To Be Repeated!

Next time we've got a gig that we enjoyed SO MUCH that we paid ACTUAL MONEY for the video recording!

posted 26/4/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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On Saturday Mr FA Machine and I were booked to present our paper The Swingin' Sound Of Sixties Marvel at the Transitions Conference. This is a GRATE comics studies conference that I have attended and indeed PRESENTED at several times over the years, which focuses on Emerging Researcher i.e. generally people doing MAs or PhDs. It's always interesting so it was a HUGE shame that last year's version got cancelled due to The Current Situation, and thus also a DELIGHT when it was rescheduled as an online version this year.

I must admit I was really NERVOUS before our bit. As with the Ramones gig from a few weeks ago this was slightly DAFT as, again, the whole thing had been pre-recorded, so I knew full well that the presentation itself would be fine. I was more worried about the fact that Frankie and I were sandwiched between two papers that looked MUCH more "serious" than ours (i.e. were about Issues and not mostly two people singing). I always RAIL against people who think that something can't be Inportant AND Enjoyable, but it is something that is contained within mine own PSYCHE, as even though I KNEW that our presentation was entirely Academically VALID I was still worried that it might seem LIGHTWEIGHT. I was also hugely on INTERNAL ALERT about us being two Standard Middle-Aged White Men at a conference featuring a DIVERSE group of almost entirely much younger researchers. Again, I look ASKANCE at people who complain about Political Correctness and Wokeness, but there was still a part of me AFEARED that one or both of us would be CANCELLED!

Obviously this turned out to be as daft as it sounds, as the other presentations AND presenters were GRATE and EXTREMELY welcoming to two old twits with their singing. Riziki Millanzi gave a talk on the 'Angry Black Woman' stereotype in DC's "Far Sector" and Dina AlAwadhi talked about the "Occidental gaze" in the MCU, which made me want to a) read "Far Sector" IMMEDIATELY and b) watch all those films again. Brilliantly, once we got into the Q&A session it turned out that all of the other presenters AND the chair were MASSIVE COMICS FANS, and LO! there was a gleeful combination of ACTUAL PROPER ACADEMIC THORT and Getting Excited About GRATE COMICS. It was ace - there is definitely an older generation of Comics Types who actively try to be avoid being seen as FANS in case it makea them look Less Serious, so it is always lovely to see The Younger Generation of Comics Studies people not being worried about this AT ALL.

In amongst all of this delight there were many Serious THORTS proposed, with the chair and us four presenters even managing to find some THEMES that linked all the papers. The only shame of it was that we WEREN'T in the same room together in real life, and so the traditional WINE RECEPTION/NATTER was not available. Hopefully next year!

(PS I'm not sure if we're MEANT to UNLEASH our papers, but for now you can find ours on Vimeo!)

posted 12/4/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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Twitching With Dredge
Yesterday evening I took part in an very jolly edition of The John Dredge Lo-Fi Show. This is a half hour of almost daily CHAT that John does over on Twitch, and he'd asked me on to have a CHAT and also to do a Fantastic Four quiz. I was DELIGHTED to do so, and had a lovely half an hour yacking away to him while gently forgetting that there might actually be people listening.

The QUIZ questions what I did were as follows:

1. Which one of these characters has never been a member of The Fantastic Four?
  • Spider-man
  • The Beast
  • Ghost Rider
  • Ice Man
  • She Hulk

    2. What BBC TV show was homaged in Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's classic "The Power And The Pride" storyline?
  • Doctor Who
  • The Likely Lads
  • The Prisoner
  • Quatermass
  • Crossroads
  • Dad's Army

    3. There have been four Fantastic Four movies, none of which have been fantastic. Which actor more famous now as another superhero played the Human Torch in two of them?
  • Michael Crawford - Condorman
  • Chris Evans - Captain America
  • Nicholas Hammond - Spider-man
  • Tobey Maguire - Spider-man
  • Chris Hemsworth - Thor
  • Graeme Garden - Bananaman

    I realise now that I should have done FOUR questions and had FOUR possible answers for each one, but I was having too much fun coming up with the possibilities to stop. You can find out the answers by listening to John's show, where you'll also hear a TANTALISTING TEASE of me discussing a brand new song I've been writing about the AGILE Management Methodology. THRILLZ!!

    posted 7/4/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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    Superhero Lists And Quizzes
    As part of the ongoing promotional campaign for The Swingin' Sounds Of Sixties Marvel (still VERY much available!) I wrote an ARTICLE for Joyzine where I listed the next 10 Marvel comics characters that should be added to the Marvel Cinemtatic Universe. The idea was suggested to me by Paul from Joyzine, and it was a GRATE idea, not least because it is something I MUSE upon at least once a day when I have a moment to myself, and thus it did not take an awful lot of effort to generate!

    I'd actually like to write a few more things like this, especially now that The PhD is reaching its final stages, with the current plan being to submit it in September. I'm especially conscious of the fact that there's a Fantastic Four film coming in a few years, and that in all likelihood Doctor Doom will be popping up somewhere before then, so I'd like my name to be there when MEDIA TYPES google "Doctor Doom expert" when they want someone to come on telly/the internet/whatever to explain it. I've been meaning to write some PITCHES for ages, but haven't quite got round to it yet, so if anybody happens to spot any of the aforesaid MEDIA TYPES stumbling around saying "But is Latveria a real country or not?" do please point them in my direction won't you?

    One PRESTIGE MEDIA VENUE that I WILL be involving myself in is The Young Person's TWITCH thing, as I will be appearing on it later today as guest on John Dredge Lo-Fi Show. I have prepared a FANTASTIC FOUR QUIZ especially for the occasion, so fingers crossed WALT DISNEY is listening in!

    posted 6/4/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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    More Sorted
    Last month I was surprised and delighted to be told that volume one of the Sorted "Anthology"series had been UNLEASHED on an unsuspecting world via the wonders of digital music. I was even more surprised and delighted a couple of days ago to find that the "volume one" bit was NOT a joke, as volume TWO was similarly UNLEASHED on Spotify, Amazon and all other digital purveyors.

    This one's called Cardboard Cutout Sundown and includes a bunch of yet MORE bands what I was involved with during the heady days of the mid-90s, including The K-Stars. This was an EXCELLENT band to be in for me as, for a change, I was Just The Bass Player, so all I had to do was turn up for gigs and practices while Mr M Jones organised everything. The K-Stars were very much a band of two halfs, being a bit rubbish to start with but then going into Archway Studios one day and, while I'd popped out for some chips, suddenly becoming GRATE!

    There's also more from Voon, with the nearest we ever got to An Actual Single, a song by The Fabians that I don't think I play on, and then a whole bunch of other EXCELLENT stuff. I would particularly highlight the final track, the FPV version of "Shark Fishing In America" which was done by Dr N Brown, also of Voon. Neil's stuff is ALL OVER both of these albums, in LOADS of the bands, but I think this is the only one that is just HIM, and it is AMAZING!

    It's lovely to have these tracks in the world again, and I hope there's going to be more. Whilst adding all of this info to the The Database Of ROCK I looked at what I'd written LONG ago about Every Pillow Is Tethered Like A Rock, a cassette companion to the Ashtray Heart CD which was only available by going into the Durham Ox and buying 10 different malt whiskies (there were cards that you got stamped!). According to my NOTES, the old Sorted website from 1997 said "The tape consists of 14 exclusive tracks, none of which will be re-issued until the Sorted Records 8CD "Hits and rarities" box set planned for the year 2010." Back then this seemed like a suitably ludicrous future date when something as unthinkable as a "hits and rarities" box set might be released - little did we know it would actually happen one day, but take eleven years longer than predicted!

    posted 5/4/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Swingin' Sound Of Sixties Marvel
    Today I am ruddy DELIGHTED to announce the release of a new EP by myself and Mr FA Machine entitled "The Swingin' Sound Of Sixties Marvel". Look, here it is now!

    As mentioned last time, this is a bunch of cover versions of supehero theme tunes which Frankie and I recorded for a presentation we're giving next week at the Transitions Conference. We'll be talking about how these songs encapsulate the way that Marvel comics worked back at the very start of The Marvel Age, including a couple of comparisons with other superhero theme tunes.

    We've also put together a BANGER-LADEN Spotify playlist with containing about three hours of Superhero songs - have a listen!

    We had a thoroughly jolly time putting it all together, so I hope you, dear reader, get a similar amount of delight from it!

    posted 2/4/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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    Songs For Superheroes
    This Friday Mr FA Machine and I are releasing a brand new EP called "The Swingin' Sound Of Sixties Marvel"! It features eight cover versions of superhero theme tunes, mostly for Marvel superheroes but also a couple of others what we are using for COMPARISON, for LO! it is all part of ACADEMIC RESEARCH!

    The story of the EP is THUS: way back in 2018 Frankie and I did a presentation in Brighton where we discussed a bunch of superhero theme tunes at the Graphic Brighton conference, illustrating our Excellent Points and Incisive remarks by performing the songs too. It was GRATE fun, and we discussed recording them at some point, but didn't get around to thinking about it again until a couple of years later when I saw the Call For Papers for the 2020 Transitions conference. As discussed previously, I have done presentations solo at this in the past, and thought it might be a good excuse for us to do the show again. Frankie said yes, the organisers said yes, and then... well, you know what happened then, EVERYTHING got cancelled!

    However, several months later the conference organisers got in touch to say that they were RESCHEDULING, and that they'd be doing the conference ONLINE with pre-recorded presentations. This gave us the IDEAL excuse to finally record the songs, and so we spent several weeks sending WAVs between us, with Frankie providing pretty much all the music while I made everything more JAZZ with my daring re-interpretations of tune and harmony (hem hem).

    Alongside the WAVs were also DOCs as we shaped the presentation itself, until one evening we sat down together on a ZOOM chat and recorded the whole thing. There then followed several more weeks of VIDOE EDITING as I got a little bit over-excited and made a HUGE EXTRAVAGANZA of video effects, bringing together the talk, the songs, and all manner of illustrations.

    You can watch the talk for yourself when it's shown as part of the conference next week - registration is FREE if you fancy it and, as you can see from the Conference Programme, there is a TONNE of interesting Comics Studies-type stuff going on.

    The accompanying EP is out THIS week to coincide with Bandcamp Fees Free Friday, so prepare yourself for an onslaught of Me Going On About It, for LO! I think it is RATHER GOOD!

    posted 31/3/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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    Blitzkrieg Bopped
    I did a gig last night! Sort of!

    The gig was "A Tribute To Joey Ramone" for his 70th Birthday, organised by Spoook in aid of OCD and Lymphoma charities. Mr J McMahon contacted me about it a few weeks ago, asking if I fancied doing a cover of a Ramones song for this gig he was putting on, and I agreed thinking it would be a small-scale affair, and then became increasingly ALARMED as more and more Proper Names were added to the list. It was TERRIFYING - there were a LOT of people I had HEARD of doing it, and also me!

    Adding to my fear were the twin totems of terror 1) this would be a show with an AUDIENCE who had come to see some of the aforesaid Well Known Peoples and 2) it would involve cover versions. Proper Gigs and Cover Versions are two arenas in which I have an UNENVIABLE track record for Disastrously Misinterpreting The Situation. MANY times over the years when faced with one or other of these I have thought "AHA! I have a GRATE idea about how I can do something AMAZING for this which everyone will LOVE" only to realise, generally within 0.2 seconds of starting the show OR sending off the cover version that this is not going to be the case.

    Of course, the realisation of all of this only came to me AFTER I had spent two weeks practicing my song, recorded it, and sent it off (SENSIBLY it was being done as a series of pre-recorded segments, not LIVE). As soon as I did so I thought "Hang on, if this is a show for people who like the Ramones, maybe they WON'T appreciate the un-Ramones-ish way I have done it, and possibly also will not be keen on my doing it as a MEDLEY with the also un-Ramones-ish song that inspired it. OH DEAR."

    Happily James The Organiser said he was into it, which was a relief, but still THE FEAR rose in me, such that when it came to about four hours before SHOWTIME yesterday afternoon I was filled with the kind of DREAD that I only usually get before one of those Proper Gigs I mentioned earlier. It was WEIRD. I was very much in my own kitchen making a cup of tea, but I FELT like I was standing next to 17 stand-up comedians and a member of Carter stage-side at The Bloomsbury Theatre (or nearest equivalent) desperately trying to remember the words to "Hey Hey 16K".

    The gig started and, of course, it was LOVELY. Loads of GRATE people (including some PALS) doing GRATE versions of these songs, pouring love and care into it for a good cause. It was an amazing thing to watch, and an incredible feat of organisation - there were TONNES of people involved, 90 minutes of ROCK all together, all doing one song each, and a very high proportion of them made me go "COR! It's THEM!" In fact, why don't you have a look for yourself?

    My bit came and went without DISASTER, and in fact featured some further lovely people saying nice things, which was a HUGE relief. It was, all in all, a rather WONDERFUL thing to be part of, which also raised some proper actual CA$H - indeed, if you do watch the above please do consider donating to one of the charities mentioned in the YouTube notes. I was hugely grateful to be involved, and even though it was SCARY it was also EXCITING to get that ACTUAL GIG feeling again. GIGS! They are ACE!

    posted 29/3/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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    Aches And Pains Aftermath
    After posting my blog about getting the JAB last week something lovely happened. Not in terms of general health - if anything I felt grottier throughout the day - but in terms of COMMUNICATIONS, for LO! loads of people started TALKING to me about THEIR experience and symptoms. It was really, really, really nice, not just because of the ensuing sympathy but also because it felt like we were going through something together.

    It was especially nice because a huge amount of the CHAT was with gentleman from within my own AGE COHORT, as it was our turn to get DONE. On Whatsapp, on twitter, on Facebook and on ye olde emails I found myself discussing health issues with hordes of PALS in a way entirely unfamiliar to me. Men of my generation grew up as NEW MEN and all that, but we're still not particularly open with each other in the way perhaps we should be, so it was most unusual to have this sudden outpouring of SHARING and, dare I say, CARING for each other in this way. It was a beautiful and genuinely MOVING thing!

    It ALSO presented itself as a HARBINGER of what Facebook (or the Futuristic BRANE Hologram equivalent thereof) will be like in about 30 years, when the aforesaid cohort are very much in the throes of Aches And Pains, at which point I'm sure this will be a daily experience!

    posted 22/3/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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    Been Done
    I got a text on Tuesday evening from my GP surgery, offering me my COVID jab. I was VERY excited that it was my turn, and wondered when I might be able to go along. I assumed it would be WEEKS away, but when I went into the app it said the next available appointment was in about an hour! I wasn't quite ready for that, so instead I booked myself an appointment for the following lunchtime.

    I had a work meeting in the morning, featuring several people discussing the side effects they'd had - I hadn't heard much about this previously, but suddenly Facebook was full of it as my whole AGE COHORT started to go through the system. I was thus slightly trepidatious when I set off, but was then WHISKED along in a delightful cavalcade of Things Working. When I got to the surgey there was a volunteer outside pointing out the side door to go in, and once inside there were signs EVERYWHERE telling you where to go. When I reached the main clinic area there were more very jolly volunteers, more signs, and arrows and markings on the floor made of coloured tape - somebody had obviously gotten really INTO doing this, as it was everywhere!

    I registered, got my card (Astro Zeneca) then joined a short, socially distanced queue that was extravagantly marked out with tape. While in this queue I got a message on The Validators' Whatsapp group from Tim saying that people our age could now just book online without waiting for an appointment, so I was able to gleefully respond with a picture of my ticket!

    The queue lasted about five minutes and then I was sat with a very nice GP who kept trying to explain things and stop me from taking off my jumper too soon. Once we'd cleared all the formalities she stuck the needle in my arm. "Relax!" she said, as the POINTY METAL entered THE TEMPLE OF MY BODY, but I did my best and after a while it was DONE. My jumper was back on and I was heading out.

    As I left I felt a SURGE of emotion - pleased to have got it done, PROUD that the NHS was clearly doing such a good job, and also weirdly PATRIOTIC in a way that I'd not been since, well, The Olympics I think. I think it was due to looking around at all the different people who were working there, or queueing up politely to get done. There was no fuss or bother, just British people of all shapes and sizes RUBBING ALONG in a collective effort. It was brilliant!

    Ten hours later I was feeling quite pleased with myself, as the much discussed SIDE EFFECTS had not arrived. I went to bed but sadly I was chuffed TOO SOON, as I woke up at just before 4am with a POUNDING headache, ACHES, and EXTREME heat. It was like having a BIT of flu, but not all of it - it felt like a really bad FEVER, with the BRANE THROBBING that goes with it, but WITHOUT any shakes or sudden lurches into being horribly cold. Similarly, my throat and nose were completely fine. It was MOST ODD, also MOST ANNOYING as I lay there until about 7am feeling ROTTEN. Eventually I DID go back to sleep, but only for a little bit, and thus feel WASHED OUT to the MAX today.

    I think what I am basically saying here is that a) I done my civic duty b) I suffered for it and am therefore c) a RUDDY HERO. I would ask for a medal, but they gave me a STICKER in the clinic (I had to ASK for one but it still counts) so I think that'll have to do!

    posted 18/3/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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    Hey Ho Let's Go (and do a GIG)
    I've got a GIG! It's the first one I'll have done for about TEN MONTHS (not including my unexpected CAMEO at Gav's Brighton gig in September) and I am Quite Excited.

    It's a ZOOM gig featuring a whole host of different people doing Ramones songs, in aid of OCD and Lymphoma reseaarch charities, and when it was first offered to me I thought "That sounds like a lovely idea," and set to sorting out a song to do. A couple of days later i saw a poster advertising who else was doing it and ... crikey!

    CRUMBS! That is a LOT of people who I have heard of! This made me Quite Nervous, not least because there is ALSO a Tim's Twitter Listening Party leading up to it. Having not done a gig for AGES this feels quite a big step back into The Fray, so I have redoubled my Daily Practice Sessions in the hope that by the end of the month I'll be able to get through it in one go without forgetting too much. You can find out how I get on by buying a ticket, which will also entitle you to see the multitude of OTHER people probably making a much better job of it!

    posted 11/3/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Sorted Scene
    I spent a happy half hour yesterday doing some updates to The Database Of ROCK which runs this whole here website, updating a gig from over A QUARTER OF A CENTURY ago, as well as adding a compilation album that came out this week.

    The gig was one that The Council played at The Physio & Firkin back in 1996, and I found out about it because a POSTER appeared on Twitter. When I first set up this website I tried to get as much Historical Data as I could from old diaries and what few old posters I have left, but this was a poster I hadn't seen since I left my flat in Leicester and chucked loads of them away, so it was lovely to be able to fill that gap in.

    The poster was posted as part of the reaction to the ALBUM what I mentioned earlier, for LO! Sorted Supremo Dave Dixey has just UNLEASED Tarotplane Kandy Korn: The Sorted Records Anthology, Vol. 1, a collection of twenty top tracks from the halcyon days of what nobody is calling (though they should) THE SORTED SCENE of the mid-90s in Leicester. I've been listening to it on Spotify and it has been a DELIGHT to hear some of these songs again, not having heard some of them since they were last played in The Durham Ox. It includes THREE tracks involving me, "Last Notes on a Late Story" by The Fabians (Jimmy from the Bobby McGee's band before that one), "Pilchards of Death" by Voon and Mind The Death by The Council. It's notable that ALL of those three songs have someone who isn't me doing the lead vocals, and I must say this was a WISE DECISION. They all sound pretty amazing, especially "Mind The Death" which sounded just as exciting to me NOW as it did when I first got the TAPE of it from the studio and lay in bed listening to it on my headphones.

    My pleasure at the lack of my singing was based on my other nostalgic experience this week, watching some of the VIDEOS that Dave has been uploading to the Sorted Records YouTube account. I pop up in a few of them, and it is DEEPLY WEIRD to see me in my 20s, gawking around looking entirely uncomfortable in myself, especially during gigs when I am CLEARLY trying to EITHER copy Neil (who, in direct contrast, is INCREDIBLY COOL in ALL the videos) OR some vague idea of what I thought Punk Rock might be, and coming across as a RIGHT WALLY. The worst culprit is the version of me performing in The Council, where I not only put on an "Angry Punk Rock" voice, but also play OPEN STRINGS as much as possible because I Thought It Looked Cool. Reader, it did not.

    It's great fun to SEE all this stuff though, and I have high hopes of Dave adding some more. There must be something in the AIR, as an article about The Durham Ox Singers (written by me, but still) also appeared in the most recent issue of The Teatles Book. All it needs is one more thing and we can call it a MOVEMENT. Come on, The Melody Maker, stick The Non-Writters on the cover!

    posted 10/3/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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    Acoustical Activity
    Every time I write a blog these days I feel I have to start it off by saying how LONG it's been since I last did one! As ever, the reason for that is not that nothing's been happening, but rather nothing's happened that would necessarily be of interest to you, dear reader. As you may be aware, I have a FABULOUSLY low threshold for what people might finf interesting about ME, so you may judge this as you wish!

    However, I DO have something to tell you today, and that is that there is a NEW ALBUM out with some material by ME in it. It's called Blank Canvas, and it's been released as a fund-raised for The Retro Computing Museum, which has been struggling due to having to stay closed for all this time. My contribution is two brand new ACOUSTCIAL versions of relevant songs i.e. Hey Hey 16K and Programming Is A Poetry For Our Time what I recorded especially for this, and there's a whole heap of other people, including our pals The British IBM and Chris Abbott. There's three whole CDs of stuff, i fact, and if you're into the Retro Computing scene it is a right Glittering Array of big names!

    That's the news for today, but there is - honest! - other stuff on the way. Myself and Frankie Machine have been working on a project that should be seeing the light of day soon, Jane And John have things in the pipeline, and you never know, I might one day have something to tell you about my endevours in the world of LITERATURE!

    posted 5/3/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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    Write The Theme Tune
    Last month I got a lovely message from Mr N Hutchings of Velvet Sheep, asking about Jane and John and informing me that he was starting a new radio show on The Neon Hospice. Velvet Sheep started off as a fanzine but I first knew of it as a GIG NIGHT what I played at, at the Whitechapel Gallery many moons ago, but since then I've done a few articles for his "Song For Ewe" feature, recommending tracks by other artistes that I thought were GRATE.

    He wasn't offering gigs this time, obviously, nor asking for recommendations, but he WAS asking for a JINGLE for his radio show. I put this proposal to The Brief For My Campaign and she very rapidly came up with a TUNE and WORDS which we then crafted into the RATHER EXCELLENT theme tune that you can hear right at the start of the first episode, HERE:

    It sounds DEAD GOOD if I do say so meself as shouldn't, and there's a whole HEAP of good stuff in the rest of the show, including but not limited to Our Year. Have a listen!

    posted 18/1/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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