This is quite simply the best magazine you will ever find that is edited by a mad bloke (and his orange kitten), and produced from a tumbledown potato shed on the outskirts of a tiny village that nobody's heard of in North Devon. The fact that it is published with Gonzo Multimedia - probably the grooviest record company in the known universe - is merely an added bonus.
all the gonzo news that’s fit to print
Issue Fifty-Seven December 21st
This issue was put together by me and Captain Frunobulax the Magnificent, (who is, in case you didn't know, an insane orange kitten on the verge of adulthood) ably assisted by:

Corinna Downes, (Sub Editor, and my lovely wife)
Graham Inglis, (Columnist, Staff writer, Hawkwind nut)
Bart Lancia, (My favourite roving reporter)
Thom the World Poet, (Bard in residence)
C.J.Stone, (Columnist, commentator and all round good egg)
Kev Rowland, (Reviewer)
Lesley Madigan, Photographer par excellence
Douglas Harr, (Staff writer, columnist)
Dave McMann, (He ain't nothing but a) Newshound-dog
Orrin Hare, (Sybarite and literary bon viveur)
and Peter McAdam (McDada in residence)
This is the nearest that you are ever going to get to a posh weekend colour supplement from the Gonzo Daily team. Each week we shall go through the best bits of the week before, and if there aren't any we shall make some up, or simply make our excuses and leave (you can tell the editor once did contract work at the News of the World can't ya?)
What? You don't know who Hunter Thompson is/was/might have been/will be? Without Hunter Thompson there would be no Gonzo Multimedia. It would have been completely different and that would have been an unforgivable pity. So here is:
C.J.Stone suggested that as well as explaining Gonzo to those wot don't understand, we should do a weekly quote from the great man himself. So here goes:

“Some may never live, but the crazy never die.” 
                                 Hunter S. Thompson
Social media stuff that I am really too old to understand, (my stepdaughter spent much of last Christmas trying to explain Twitter to me) but I am assuming that at least some of our readers are younger and hipper than I am.
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It is simple; my name is Jon and I'm the editor of the Gonzo Multimedia daily online bloggything. Now there is a weekly magazine, once again edited by me and a small orange kitten from a dilapidated ex-potato shed  in rural Devonshire, to which you subscribed by opting in on the website. I hope that you all stay to join in the fun, but if it is not to your liking it is easy to unsubscribe again. But what a long, strange trip it is gonna be...

I keep on thinking that I ought to have some sort of a mission statement in each issue, but it is more than a little difficult to do one. Basically, (if you don't mind me sounding more like a wishy washy old hippy than my haircut in the photograph above would imply) I think that books and music are immensely important. I look around and see that we are living in a world where the things that I think are important are valued less and less by society as a whole; a world where asinine gameshows and so-called reality TV (which is actually a complete oxymoron, but don't get me started) are of more importance to most people than anything of cultural or spiritual value.

I am also very disappointed by much of what the contemporary music press puts out, and I decided many years ago, that probably the only way I could read the things that I want to read, would be to publish them myself. So this is what I have been doing for much of my life. I am also naive enough to think that music and art can change the world, and as the world is in desperate need of change, I am gonna do my best to help.
MORE LIKE A MAGAZINE: And so this is Christmas
Despite what I said last week, (and say every year) I always get a mild twinge of festiveness at around this time of year. I don't like the winter too much: I was brought up in the tropics, but it is not the cold that gets to me as much as the lack of light. Tomorrow is Yule, and the main thing that I shall be celebrating is the fact that for the next six months the nights will slowly get shorter and the sun will come back to our side of the earth.

It is weird how I can be writing this when we live in such a technological society, where - on the surface at least - the idea of sun worship is a long way ahead. But we must never forget that as a species we are only a bunch of monkeys that got lucky, and that our bodily rhythms are stlll at one with the earth. 

This is one of the reasons that even now music is so important. Just remember when you listen to the tunes on your new iPod next week, that basically you are not that far away from the hairy dudes who were our ancestors, sitting in a circle around the campfire drumming to scare away the demons of the dark. If more people remembered that, and stopped behaving as if mankind were the lords of creation, then possibly the world would be a better place...

Have a good one

1. Art is as important as science and more important than money
2. There is life after (beyond and before) Pop Idol
3. Music can and sometimes does change the world

If you think those three ideas are stupid then you should probably give up reading this magazine now. Otherwise... enjoy
As is the rest of this magazine, this is mostly about music, and the bits of contemporary culture that I find interesting, but it also has a smattering of actual NEWS, especially if there are ethical questions that effect us all, or one of those put in authority over us does something spectacularly inane. The nearest that this section will ever come to politics is laughing at politicians.
  • Bobby Gillespie, lead singer of Primal Scream mourns the state of rock culture, saying it feels "kind of dead, it's over". Comparing it to television talent shows, Gillespie says rock music in Britain today "isn't any more dangerous than the X Factor". In an exclusive interview from BBC Four's Review Show, Gillespie discusses how the current music scene lacks the cultural importance it had in the 1960s and 70s. Sadly, we agree with him. Read on...
  • A San Antonio man threatened a waitress with a sword he had holstered on his waist last week after he was told he would indeed have to pay for the tacos he ordered at a South Side restaurant, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. Adam Kramer, 28, has been charged with aggravated robbery and remains in the Bexar County Jail with a bail amount of $50,000.  Read on...
  • The electric guitar played by Bob Dylan at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival has been sold at auction in New York for a record $965,000 (£591,000). The Fender Stratocaster had been in the possession of a New Jersey family for 48 years after he left it on a plane. Read on...
THE WEEK THAT'S PAST: The new Auburn video
As regular readers will be aware, I am very fond (both personally and musically) of the lovely Liz Lenten of Auburn, who has an absolutely spiffing new record out soon after Christmas. Called Nashville, because of where it was recorded (at the villa of a bloke called Mr Nash in Haverford West/or in Tenessee delete where applicable) Liz and her band channel the same rich seam of country soul that gave Dusty Springfield and Elvis their best records.

A few days ago she wrote to me with exclusive news of her Christmas present to her fans. On Christmas Eve she is going to post a brand new video - for Hurting which is my favourite song on the album, by the way - on ReverbNation and Facebook.

I am not gonna be spoiling the surprise, but what I can tell you is that the picture on the front cover of this issue is an exclusive still from the video (the pic above is a non exclusive one) which you won't be seeing anywhere else...

Man proposes to girlfriend during arrest

Talk about a marriage proposal to remember. An Oklahoma man proposed to his girlfriend last week while an officer tried to arrest him on two outstanding warrants. An officer spotted Justin Harrel of Elk City in a local park last Friday and discovered that he had outstanding warrants out of two counties for obtaining cash or merchandise by bogus check, according to court documents. Read on...

THE WEEK THAT'S PAST: Deviants news
I have now received all the available footage of The Deviants at the Mick Farren memorial show last month (pic above by the ever resourceful Dave McMann). The last bits arrived this morning and I have every hope that sometime over what is euphemistically described as 'The Festive Season' that I shall start digitising and editing.

The plan is to make a movie of the event, with the working title of The Night the Sixties Died. If any of you have archive footage of Mick or memories you would like to share please email me at

There might even be some sample footage to have a gander at next week...
THE WEEK THAT'S PAST: Interview with Alan
I caught up with Alan Davey, one time bass ace with Hawkwind, and now a solo artist with a rapidly growing reputation, about his neo-psychedelic album Al Chemical’s Lysergic Orchestra Vol 2.

Well being a sucker for wordplay (especially when it mentions alchemy) I was instantaneously hooked, so I grabbed Alan on Facebook, and he was kind enough to let me blag a copy. It was only then that I discovered that the album is directly influenced by the genius loci of Death Valley in the Mojave Desert (a place that I have wanted to visit for many years).

It has been a long time (over thirty years) since I last took psychedelic chemicals, but on the evening that I settled down with Captain Frunobulax on my lap, to listen to the record I was soon transported into a stark desert landscape similar to the places that I have explored in that weird corner of America where Utah, Nevada and Colorado meet, and in Nevada’s Valley of Fire National Park.

While Mother-in-law sat hunched in the corner of the room, doing a crossword, and glancing suspiciously at me, the cat, and the hifi out of the corner of her eye I let my mind drift off onto another plane where I wandered my desert mindscape.
The next day I caught up with Al on Facebook again, sent him a copy of my review and told him how much I enjoyed the album. He replied : “Oh great glad ya liked it”, and went on to explain how the Al Chemical’s Lysergic Orchestra series was now his “outlet for experimentation with all the toys and vst-fx around these days, studio fun time”. Apparently  â€œVol.1 was released about 10 years ago, then I remastered it and re released it with 5 extra tracks added 2 years ago”

I particularly liked the way he mixed sequenced sounds with real instruments. Sometimes I couldn't tell which was which for example. One of the most haunting songs is Old Dinah which mixes country stylisations with some of the most peculiar space rock I have heard. It features a banjo which in my minds eye transported me to a little desert village, where an old hillbilly sat on his porch playing the riff. I couldn't make up my mind whether it was a real banjo or a computer?

He laughed. “Yeah the banjo for instance is a sampled note played via synth, EQ'ing the instrument properly is what makes it fit in so well“. He continued: “It's Kevin Sommers my artist who lives in Arizona who sang it. I sent him a rough demo with no vocals and he got rather tiddly one night and while playing the demo on his iPod with headphones he sang along to it recording his voice on another device on his way home! Funny eh?”

I like the way he deftly mixed hi and lo tech, but as he says: “Hi and lo tech both have their good sides and match well given the chance”. Had he written any other music based on a 'spirit of place'? “No,” he replied “this is my first go at an album about a place. I'd advise everyone to go visit Death Valley; it'll show you a part of yourself you didn't know you had, guaranteed.!!!

He is a very busy man with  many interesting projects on the go. “Next thing is a BEDOUIN box set, re mastered with extra tracks. Then the As Above So Below album and 3 discs of unreleased live songs. After that another solo album which will be pure rock, all rock, songs” he told me.
THE WEEK THAT'S PAST:  Launching Crystal
Last week I wrote:

I am very pleased to say that according to everyone I have spoken to, the launch party for Carol Hodge aka Miss Crystal Grenade's debut album went swimmingly. But there remain various questions that a hard working alumnus of The News of the Screws has to ask... For example, what was in those scrolls? Is it true that the divine Miss G wore a crab in her hair? And what is 'tiffin'?

The British public deserve to be told these things. Miss Grenade also hangs out with well-known anarchists, and is obviously planning to subvert our young people with crab-in-the-hair related chicanery. Watch this space...

So I telephoned the lovely Ms Hodge, and asked her for details. 'Ere, wot's all this about? I asked. Listen to our conversation here.
THE WEEK THAT'S PAST: The Price is right (or rather it wasn't)
I made an appalling cock up (to use the technical publishing industry terminology) in last week's edition of Gonzo Weekly. Bart Lancia, my favourite roving reporter, sent me a link to a touching story about country singer Ray Price, who at the age of 87 has decided to stop treatment for his advanced pancreatic cancer, and has issued this farewell statement to his fans:

""I love my fans and have devoted my life to reaching out to them," Price wrote. "I appreciate their support all these years and I hope I haven't let them down. I am at peace. I love Jesus. I'm going to be just fine. Don't worry about me. I'll see you again one day."

Unfortunately, probably because I had the death of my old friend Lloyd Pye on my mind, in the link to this story in this weekend's magazine I named him as Lloyd Price. Lloyd Price is an 80 year old R&B singer who, as far as I am aware, is in fine fettle. I hope that anyone affected by this will accept my sincere apologies. 

A few days later Ray Price died, and is remembered in this week's obituary column.
THE WEEK THAT'S PAST: Percy Jones recommends
Following last week's interview with legendary Brand X bass player Percy Jones, he was kind enough to send us some videos that he had talked about during our conversation.
  • The first is the inimitable Spike Milligan introducing Soft Machine with Percy on bass in Newcastle during 1976.
  • The second is his current band (or one of them) MOJO Working/MJ-12 at Spectrum March 2013.
  • The third is the legendary Tunnels who are described thus: Tunnels is a futuristic fusion trio featuring legendary frettless bassist Percy Jones. Percy came into the spotlight in the 70s and 80s with the UK's biggest fusion phenomenon BRAND X, featuring Phil Collins on drums. Joining him on the electronic midi vibraphone is Swiss virtuoso Mark Wagnon. Mark has paid his dues with many jazz greats and plays one of the worlds most unique and cutting-edge intruments. Last but not least is drummer Walker Adams who brings his explosive and soulful sound to the band.
THE WEEK THAT'S PAST:  The Gospel according to Bart
I have corresponded quite a lot with my favourite roving reporter this week. Apart from discussing Ray Price and his death he sent me an interesting piece about Peter Gabriel. Apparently, some years ago when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis, he didn't attend. And he has regretted it. Now he gets a second bite at the cherry when he is inducted next year as a solo act. Will he turn up this time? Yes. Apparently. Read more about this year's winners here. Vladimir Putin has now confirmed that the jailed members of Pussy Riot will be freed in the forthcoming amnesty. And finally, in another story we have been following for the past few weeks through the good offices of Bart, Ian McLagan is pouring cold water on the stories of a 2015 Faces reunion. Apparently that is the year they are planning to resuscitate The Small Faces  which I would have thought would be somewhat difficult considering that Steve Marriott is dead. At least with The Faces the singer is still with us. But if there is a Small Faces reunion, please don't let it be with the man the late Tony Wilson once described as 'a ginger twat' on vocals.
We have new episodes of Canterbury Sans Frontières and Strange Fruit and there are some other exciting things afoot with another entirely new station being added to Gonzo Web Radio, and a total revamp of the radio index. Many apologies that there are no thumbnails of the radio shows this week either in Gonzo Weekly or on the website. We will fix this as soon as we can.

Watch this space.
STRANGE FRUIT: Episode 51 Part One
Date Published: 21st December 2013

Strange Fruit is a unique two-hour radio show exploring the world of underground, strange and generally neglected music. All shows are themed and all shows set out to give the most hardened of sound-hounds some new delight to sample. The show is also unique in providing homework for undergraduate students on North West Kent College’s Foundation Degree in Professional Writing (who dig up many of the odd facts featured in the links between tracks).  Strange Fruit presenter Neil Nixon is currently working on a book about rare albums for Gonzo Multimedia.  

The show is broadcast on Miskin Radio every Sunday from 10-00-midnight.

Playlist for this episode
isten Here

STRANGE FRUIT: Episode 51 Part Two
Date Published: 21st December 2013

Listen Here
For more news on Strange Fruit CLICK HERE
For more news on Canterbury Sans Frontières CLICK HERE
For the Gonzo Web Radio homepage CLICK HERE

What's been did and what's been hid
I am growing up in public, as it were. The Gonzo Weekly has been going for very nearly a year now, and we are beginning to find our feet. I am making changes as I go along, and - no doubt - some of these changes will turn out to be mistakes. So, let me know what you think. Do they work? Do you like them? Hate them? Or don't you care either way?

Please pass this magazine around as far and wide as you can. And encourage as many people as you can to subscribe. Remember it is free, and will remain so. However, I want as many subscribers as possible to move on to the next stage of the party. There might well be cake.

Remember, I am always looking for new authors. If there is something that you feel you could add to the general melange which is the Gonzo Weekly, please email me at The more the merrier.

Although this newsletter also goes out in a plain text version for those of you who do not trust image intensive thingys in your browser, I promise that as long as it is technically feasible (which will be for the forseeable future) the text only mailout will continue. However, I strongly advise that for you to get the best out of this rapidly evolving publication, that you really should see it in all its picture-led glory.

Please tell your friends, colleagues and family about The Gonzo Weekly, and try to persuade them to subscribe. The more subscribers we get, the bigger and better and more effective the whole thing will be.
Remember, if you want more than your weekly fix of this newsletter you can check out the Gonzo Daily, which - as its name implies - does much the same as this newsletter but every day. It also features a daily poem from Thom the World Poet, and the occasional non-Gonzo rock music rambling from yours truly, plus book and gig reviews from our highly trained staff of social malcontents. And its FREE! You cannae say fairer than that!
Each week, some of you seem to recognise me. Yes, I am indeed that weird bloke off the telly who chases mythological animals. I have a day job as Director of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, and also the editor of the CFZ Blog Network, and publisher of a plethora of books about mystery animals.
1. Gong: Live in Sheffield
Many people believed that the idea of Gong without Daevid was like the Rolling Stones without Keith Richards. However, they had already played a stint as Paragong in 1973 while Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth took a 6 week break so they regrouped as Gong with guitarist Steve Hillage at the helm. The band recorded a new album, but Hillage left before its release. Gilli Smyth and Tim Blake had left at around the same time as Daevid, so the rump of Gong now featuring Didier Malherbe aka Bloomdido Bad de Grasse, Mike Howlett on bass and noted French percussionist Piere Moerlen.

2. Quicksilver Messenger Service: Live in Hawaii
By 1970. the band were working and recording largely in Hawaii. The next two albums, Just for Love and What About Me?, are sometimes called the Hawaiian albums because they were recorded mostly in a studio in that state, and both have a similar Hawaiian motif to their cover designs. This excellent live album captures a changing band at the peak of their game. A real treat for psychedelic music fans.

3. Joey Molland: Return to Memphis

Joey Molland, who had written the vast majority of Badfinger's later output, remains an immensely under-rated and very talented songwriter, whose career has been blighted by the appalling catalogue of disasters which had overtaken his band, But now he is back with a fantastic new album: “ I did the record in Memphis and so it’s called Return to Memphis. I started out loving Memphis music …Elvis and all that. A lot of great rockers came from there. So I opted to go down there and make a record and it was a great experience.”
4. The best of Clearlight

In 1975 Virgin Records released the first album of Cyrille Verdeaux compositions titled CLEARLIGHT SYMPHONY. Clearlight became the first French progressive rock band signed to a major British record label. Gathering accolades for its unique compositions and keyboard stylings, the music spanned from classical romanticism to lush experimentation. Primarily psychedelic, but also serving as a forerunner of new age music, the album's musical style manages to blend seemingly contrary elements: the symphonic rock concept is flexible enough to permit extensive jamming in both rock and jazz fusion styles.
Most of the back issues have now been archived on a dedicated Blogger site. Please use the navigation tree on the right of the page. However, please be aware that there are still a few formatting issues, and the magazine may not look as nice in blogger as we would have liked.

If, however, you are using the MailChimp archive, (below) please be warned: Magazines from #11-41  contain the cartoon at the bottom of the stressed out guy with the computer  Apparently someone has accused the public domain images site I got it from of hosting malware, and even though there was none found there by Google, the fact that I used an image from the site (perfectly legally) flagged our whole newsletter up as possibly containing malware. This should only effect people using Google Chrome, and I would strongly suggest that you click the 'proceed anyway' tab, and view the newsletter as you had originally planned...

Newsletter #36  Newsletter #35  Newsletter #34  Newsletter #33 Newsletter #32  Newsletter #31  Newsletter #30  Newsletter #29 Newsletter #28  Newsletter #27  Newsletter #26  Newsletter #25  Newsletter #24  Newsletter #23  Newsletter #22  Newsletter #21 Newsletter #20  Newsletter #19  Newsletter #18  Newsletter #17 Newsletter #16  Newsletter #15  Newsletter #14  Newsletter #13 Newsletter #12  Newsletter #11  Newsletter #10  Newsletter #9 Newsletter #8  Newsletter #7  Newsletter #6  Newsletter #5 Newsletter #4  Newsletter #3  Newsletter #2  Newsletter #1
THOSE WE HAVE LOST:  Ray Price (1926-2013)
Noble Ray Price (January 12, 1926 – December 16, 2013) was an American country music singer, songwriter and guitarist. His wide-ranging baritone has often been praised as among the best male voices of country music. Some of his well-known recordings include "Release Me", "Crazy Arms", "Heartaches by the Number", "For the Good Times", "Night Life", and "You're the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me". He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996 and—even into his late 80s—continued to record and tour.
THOSE WE HAVE LOST:  Ronald Arthur "Ronnie" Biggs (1929 – 2013)
Ronald Arthur "Ronnie" Biggs (8 August 1929 – 18 December 2013) was an English thief, known for his role in the Great Train Robbery of 1963, for his escape from prison in 1965, for living as a fugitive for 36 years and for his various publicity stunts while in exile. In 2001, he returned to the United Kingdom and spent several years in prison, where his health rapidly declined. Biggs was released from prison on compassionate grounds on 6 August 2009 and died in a nursing home in December 2013.

It was in the worst of taste, the words were banal, but it was a great record. No-one is innocent (the original Punk Prayer)
(Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland) (1917 – 2013)
The beautiful younger sister of the equally beautiful Olivia de Havilland, Joan Fontaine was a British/American actor who starred in films such as ‘Rebecca’, ‘Suspicion’, ‘Jane Eyre’, ‘Frenchman’s Creek’ and ‘Ivanhoe’.  It was well reported that there was friction between the sisters, and in a 1978 interview for The Hollywood Reporter, Fontaine said of the sibling rivalry, "I married first, won the Oscar before Olivia did, and if I die first, she’ll undoubtedly be livid because I beat her to it!"
THOSE WE HAVE LOST: Peter O'Toole (1932 – 2013)
Perhaps best known for his portrayal of T.E. Lawrence in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, Peter O’Toole received 8 Oscar nominations (‘Lawrence of Arabia’, ‘Becket’, ‘The Lion in Winter’, ‘Goodbye, Mr. Chips’, ‘The Ruling Class’, ‘The Stunt Man’, ‘My Favorite Year’ and ‘Venus’)  but, surprisingly, never won.  However, he did receive an Honorary Academy Award in 2003.  He was also the recipient of four Golden Globe awards, a BAFTA and an Emmy.'Toole
Now, I don't know whether this is a good idea, a bad idea, or just an idea, but - as I believe you know - this magazine is put out each week on a budget of £25, and is free. It will remain free, but I would like to be able to generate some income so I can pay our contributing writers. So, 'why not flog Gonzo Weekly T Shirts?' I thought. 'Why not', I answered...
1 The Polyphonic Spree: “Yes it’s True”

I have always had a soft spot for Tim DeLaughter’s ever changing band of oddballs. The fact that in the midst of growing media scares over the effect of cults on young people there were over 20 of them, and they dressed like The Moonies while playing ridiculous home-made  instruments was always impressive, and the fact that they sounded like a cross between Yes and the cast of one of the cooler Broadway musicals (with a little tinge of The Manson Family Sings) was an added bonus.

De Laughter’s songwriting continues to impress, and this - the fourth album proper – really is magnificent.
2 Judy Dyble: “Flow and Change”

Judy is an extraordinary artist, and it has been my privilege to work with her over the past year or so. Her 2009 album “Talking with Strangers” was so exquisite, that I think everyone was worried about how she would follow it. We all should have had more faith, because "Flow and Change" is just as good…but different.

It is more delicate, and possibly less proggy than its predecessor, but it continues to mine the rich seam of rural English soulfulness which she and her fellow Sisterhood of Ruralists (commemorated in the longest song on the album) are currently mining. Well done my dear.
3 David Bowie: “The Next Day”

Well, this was always going to be on everyone’s end of year lists wasn’t it? Not only did it come completely out of left field (I really must stop using sporting terms when I have no idea what they actually mean), but it is also his best album for many decades.

Back in the day I used to buy every David Bowie album as it came out, knowing that it would be innovative, exciting and challenging. For a long time (probably starting back in the early 1980s) this hasn’t been the case. The nearest he came to a breakthrough album was Heathen over 10 years ago, but even that had too much stodge and meandering.
Now, with this new album that no-one knew was even in the pipeline, there is no stodge whatsoever, and Bowie is as lyrically incisive and vicious as ever. The title track is particularly brutal (in an ever-so-elegant way), and there isn’t a duff song on there. Something is happening and you know perfectly well what it is, don’t you Mr Jones.
4 XNA: “When we changed you”

I have been worried about progressive rock as a genre. It seems healthy enough, but mostly it goes off into areas that don’t interest me, and with very few exceptions the art of fusing catchy melodies with interesting instrumentation and technically impressive musicianship seems to have been lost. But then – almost by accident – I heard this album. Produced by the awesome Billy Sherwood, it hits all the right buttons. Imagine a heavier version of Nursery Cryme with Judge Smith on vocals. Yes it is THAT good. One thing: Memo to David – Write out 100 times: “There ain’t no such thing as a white yeti”. Trust me I’m a cryptozoologist.
5 House of Love: “She Paints words in Red”

I have adored this band ever since Fontana sent me a review copy of the eponymous 1990 album (actually the second of that name, but that is another story). After that album the tensions between singer Guy Chadwick and guitarist Terry Bickers came to a head and Bickers left the band acrimoniously, not returning for a decade and a half.

The albums without him were still pretty good, but the band isn’t right without him. 
This – the second reunion record – is utterly glorious, with the band’s trademark lush tunes, uunderpinned with slightly disturbing guitar, and some of the more paranoid lyrics of the band’s career. A masterpiece.
6 Eric Burdon:  “‘Til your river runs dry”

I first fell in love with the music of Eric Burdon in late 1977 when the BBC broadcast Tony Palmer’s All my loving which featured the man himself singing Good Times. Since then I have followed his career, but although there have been good albums, and bad albums, and some brave tries, until now there have been no GREAT albums.

The important words in the last sentence are UNTIL NOW.

This album has none of the engaging silliness that made his late 1970s recordings with The New Animals so engaging. 
However, what it does have is soul. Oodles of it. 

This album is a masterclass in how to do the blues. At the age of 72, it is quite possible that Burdon has produced his greatest album yet.
7 Suede: “Bloodsports”

A band who were young and pretty and took a lot of drugs come back ten years after their lacklustre swansong, not young, considerably less pretty and drug free. The results should be disappointing.

But they aren’t.

Bloodsports is a damn good album, and not only so much better than we could reasonably have expected, but considerably better than any of the solo excursions that its various alumni have done in the intervening years.
Here it should be noted that I am not being disparaging about said solo efforts, because at least two (I can’t really be bothered to go back and check) of the solo outings by singer Brett Anderson have been #1 in my seasonal rundown of each year’s albums. But the important thing is that Suede are back, They are back and they sound like Suede, which in itself is a minor miracle.
8 Rod Stewart: “Time”
For the last three decades Rod Stewart has either been seen as a mild embarrassment or as a complete irrelevance. Nearly everyone forgot that he started off his solo career as one of the best singer-songwriters and interpretive singers that British rock and roll has ever produced. His first few solo albums were absolutely awesome with some of the greatest songs of the era. All the way through the seventies he slowly declined, but was still producing the odd gem by the end of the decade. And  then?

Nada. Not a sausage. Bugger all. 
But after years of his seemingly interminable Great American Songbook series, which were well crafted enough, but were basically the sort of record which sells by the trolleyload on ASDA checkouts, comes an absolute gem of a record. Inspired by his massively entertaining if fairly lightweight autobiography to write songs again, Rod has written the best songs he has managed since 1974. OK there’s no Maggie May but he comes bloody close. Check it out my funk soul brothers.
9 Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band:  “Take me to the land of Hell”

I have always disliked Yoko’s attempts to sing conventionally structured pop music. It would be like watching Gee Vaucher and Banksy collaborate on some of those horrible commemorative plates that came out after Diana Princess of Wales died. But I have always liked her avant garde keening, and with her last few albums, she and the reconstituted Plastic Ono Band featuring Sean Lennon on guitar have returned to doing what she does best. This woman is eighty years old, still breaking boundaries, still raising hackles and still indefinably sexy. 
10 Miss Crystal Grenade: “Lo and Behold”

I am partly responsible for the release of this album. I avidly followed Steve Ignorant’s Last Supper tour of 2011, and was massively impressed by the vocals of Carol Hodge. One evening our of curiosity, I googled her and checked out her solo activities. I found demos of a project she was working on in which she channelled the persona of Victorian freak show artist called Crystal Grenade. I listened to the songs and was completely entranced. With my proselytising hat on I played them to everyone I could find. One of these people was Herr Obergonzofuhrer Ayling. The rest is history.
11 Mr Averell: Gridlock

Dutch performance artist comes out with something that sounds like a more playful version of Tom Waits? Sounds intriguing? You’d better believe it.

Mr Averell is the nom de guerre of René van Commenée who is a massively talented artist and not a bad drummer to boot. The stuff he does with his music trio is also well worth checking out.

And it has Mike Garson on piano which is an added bonus. Wonderful stuff.
12 Judge Smith: “Zoot Suit”

This is the first time in a while that Judge has not been working towards a piece of high-concept art. This is a collection of songs, rather wonderfully done with the assistance of David Minnick and his compadres in the North American ska scene. This does not mean that fans of his long form work should be disappointed. Instead of one long masterpiece there are fourteen short ones, several of which have just as much characterisation and subtext as any of his musicals or operas.

13 Adam Ant: “Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter”
Adam Ant’s comeback has been a wondrous thing. Live he has been concentrating on the material that I always preferred – his early art-punk singles and the Dirk Wears White Sox album. And finally – several years after it was first announced  - here is the comeback album.

The good news is that it is far better than anyone had any right to expect. The bad news is that it is nowhere near as good as us Antpeople had all hoped.
It is too long, too ragged, the production is patchy with some songs only being demo standard, And the quality control department clearly isn’t working. But bloody hell, when it is good it is fantastic and songs like the title track and Vince Taylor (about another terminally damaged rock star) are as good as anything he has ever done. Let’s hope that this record is a stepping stone rather than a swansong.

14 Flaming Lips: “The Terror”

Its great this album. Of course it is. I truly think that The Flaming Lips are incapable of making a bad record.

But this is the second experimental record in a row, and despite the fact that it is undeniably excellent, and provides a terrifying soundtrack to one of the worst periods in Wayne Coyne’s life, it is no fun to listen to. I am glad that it exists, and I shall – no doubt – return to it over the years that come.

But PLEASE go back to writing tunes, guys!
15 Phildel:
     â€œThe Disappearance of the Girl”

This album has been very much overshadowed by the tragic story of the artist. Born to a Chinese father and an Irish mother, at the age of 9 her life changed forever. Her divorced mother married a fundamentalist Muslim who banned all music and technology from the house. Young Phildel – encouraged by her teachers – wrote and studied music at school whilst being kept a virtual prisoner at home. She ran away at 17 and started the long rise to stardom.

At the age of 29 this is her second album, and it is excellent.
Unfortunately, however, in the knee-jerk anti-Muslim subtext of the contemporary media (and xenophobia is bad, no matter who is doing it)  the fact that she has a gloriously bluesy voice and a deft touch with catchy choruses and riffs, and that her slightly oriental phrasing and her Celtic presentation make her something very precious indeed.
16 British Sea Power:
    “Machineries of Joy”

There is something gloriously primal about this band – I have no idea what the individual spiritual orientation of its members might be, and I don’t really care, but in the truest sense this is a very pagan band. They are a band of the fields, and all their records have sounded like they were made out in the countryside with narry a sign of urbanisation to be seen.

This is probably the least unconventional of their records to date (I am choosing my words with care) but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t head and shoulders above most of the material released this year.
17 British Sea Power:
     â€œFrom the Sea to the Land Beyond”

But their second album of the year is so much bigger. The soundtrack of a film about the British coastline, the album which draws upon elements, remixed and reworked, of their earlier work is an absolute masterpiece.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I only discovered it for the first time during the writing of this review of the year’s records it would probably be in my top five albums of the year. This is a very important band who seem to take the same things seriously as I do.
18 Goldfrapp:  “Tales of Us”

They have taken a totally unexpected u-turn and returned to the slightly claustrophobic Scott Walkeresque stylings of their first album Felt Mountain which is no bad thing. Gone are the big club anthems, and what remains is erotic, psychotic and probably all sorts of things that rhyme with otic. Ten songs with one word titles, eight of them being girl’s names. Are they Alison’s lovers? Her family? Her friends? Only she knows. But I can tell you one thing – they are ghosts which haunt her for some reason, and which haunting has produced some of the most beautiful music of her career so far.
19 Paul McCartney: “New”

As I wrote when the record first appeared, McCartney suffers from a serious problem: he writes songs which on the face of it are unremarkable and suburban, but which on repeated hearings worm their way under your skin like some revolting tropical invertebrate. His songs have a depth which is seldom apparent on first listening, which is a great pity. Like many other McCartney albums, this one came over as glossy and insubstantial on first listening and it is only when you have heard it several times that you realise that it is a record of some considerable depth, and furthermore one which is worth the effort that it takes to get into it.
20 Roy Harper: “Man and Myth”

Roy Harper is one of those artists who truly does deserve the appellation of ‘National Treasure’. For nearly half a century he has been ploughing his own idiosyncratic furrow through the outskirts of the worlds of folk and rock music.

His latest album, the first for 13 years, explores many of the issues in which I am interested: the mythologisation process, for example. It is an accomplished and satisfying work, but – sadly – has become overshadowed by recent legal matters. Together with all at Gonzo I hope that Roy does indeed clear his name when he appears before the judge next summer.
Many of us would hate to think that Harper is anything but a heroic and consummate artist.

Elton John “The Diving Board”
Not as impressive as his recent album with Leon Russell, this is still a return of sorts to the form that he showed in the early seventies. It is a good album which shines in places and is head and shoulders above anything he made during the 1980s.
Belle and Sebastian “The Third Eye Centre”
A patchy collection of previously released though obscure material. Like the band itself, when it is good it is wonderful, when it ain’t it is better to quietly forget about it.
Richard Thompson: “Electric”
This does exactly what you would expect – it is a perfectly satisfying Richard Thompson album, with great tunes, interesting words, and superlative musicianship. But, sadly, although it is good, even very good, it’s not great!
Johnny Marr: “The Messenger”
The first bona fide solo album by the guitarist of The Smiths was one of the most eagerly anticipated albums of recent years. And sadly, it was – for me, at least – one of the greatest disappointments of the year. Is it good? Of course it is. But it lacks the integral spark that made The Smiths, the best of Morrissey’s solo work, and other projects that Marr has done over the years like Electronic, Modest Mouse and his session work with The Pet Shop Boys so outstanding.
Eels: “Wonderful, Glorious”
The latest volume of Mark Everett’s ongoing course of cathartic music therapy has got some excellent moments. Sounding more like a band album than the solo sound of some of his more recent records, it explores themes of love, lust and loneliness, as always coming to no particular conclusion at the end. Well worth checking out though.
Primal Scream: “More Light”
This album suffers from being made during the interregnum between Mani departing to rejoin Primal Scream and the advent of very cool new bass [player Simone Butler, whose sinuous and sexy grooves made the live shows this summer so un-missable. OK I missed them too, but you can see them on YouTube. The album, which has some great material, was recorded with various session bassplayers and has a hesitant feel to it, which would have been avoided if they had only waited until Simone was bedded in. The next album should be a stonker.
Pere Ubu: “Lady from Shanghai”
David Thomas’ latest incarnation has produced a twisted and fractured dance record that sounds like PiL jamming with Chic on ketamine. It is the first record I have heard that makes a crappy 1980s rhythm box seem good since Young Marble Giants. It is intense and frightening, and one of the best records they have made in years.
Poltergeist: “Your mind is a box (let us fill it)”
When I first played this totally instrumental album to my friend and colleague Richard Freeman he said, “Wow, this sounds like Echo and the Bunnymen”. That is not surprising as all three members are past or present Bunnypeople. This is them pretending to be Neu.
Deep Purple: “Now What?!”
This is exactly what one would have expected from a band who have been together nearly fifty years and whose main musical rudder and helmsman died in July 2012. It is a very good fake, and Ian Gillan should be commended not only for keeping everything together so well, but for (mostly) resisting the temptation to pretend that he is not 68. It even made me want to dance and wave my arms around at the right bits.
Pet Shop Boys: “Electric”
With the same name as the new Richard Thompson album, it has many of the same problems: the two protagonists are excellent at what they do, but whereas the album is very good, there are none of the sparks of maverick greatness that one always hopes to find on their albums.  Love is a Bourgeois Construct is the closest, based on a Michael Nyman extrapolation of a theme by Purcell, and with suitably clever and bitchy lines it is marred by a tinny production. It is still a pretty good record though.
EXCLUSIVE: Merrell Fankhauser Interview
Merrell Fankhauser is considered one of the main innovators of surf music and psychedelic folk rock, and is widely known as the leader of the instrumental surf group The Impacts who had the international hit “Wipeout”.

His travels from Hollywood to his 15 year jungle experience on the island of Maui have been documented in numerous music books and magazines in the US and Europe.

Merrell has gained legendary international status throughout the field of rock music; his credits include over 250 songs published and released.

However, the latest twist in the Fankhauser sage has surprised even him. Almost totally by accident he has recovered a huge chunk of his past which is not only of immense interest to him but is invaluable historically to all fans and students of the entire California music scene of the early 1960s.

As soon as I heard about it, I arranged to ring him up and have a chat. You can listen to our conversation here.
EXCLUSIVE: Joey Molland Interview
I have been a Beatles fan for more years than I would like to remember, and for much of that time I have also been an obsessive collector of books about (and memorabilia apertaining to) the band and Apple Records. I even wrote a book (probably best forgotten) about The Beatles myself, and I count myself vaguely knowledgeable about them, and the other acts who recorded for their record company.

So I was very pleased when I had to write this particular sales note:
Poor Badfinger; if ever there was a pop group “born under a bad sign” it was them. Things started off quite auspiciously. As The Iveys they signed to The Beatles’ Apple Records and had a hit single. However, they decided that their name and their image were a little old fashioned, and for some reason they decided to lose their guitarist. So enter Joey Molland. and Badfinger  was born.
They had hit singles with the Paul McCartney penned Come and Get It (recorded just as Griffiths was leaving the band) and No Matter What, and perhaps their greatest moment was when Harry Nilsson had a massive worldwide hit with their song Without You in 1972. After that it was all downhill. And downhill very very fast.
The band were the last non-Beatles artists to release an album on Apple, and a move to Warner Brothers was not a success.
There were grave management issues (which were so contentious that even now it is probably not safe to put in writing) and – probably as a result of these internal pressures – two members of the band (Pete Ham in 1975 and Tom Evans in 1983) committed suicide by hanging.
Joey Molland, who had written the vast majority of the group’s later output, remains an immensely under-rated and very talented songwriter, whose career has been blighted by the appalling catalogue of disasters which had overtaken his band.
But now he is back with a fantastic new album: “ I did the record in Memphis and so it’s called Return to Memphis. I started out loving Memphis music …Elvis and all that. A lot of great rockers came from there. So I opted to go down there and make a record and it was a great experience.”
He goes on  to say:
 â€œI wrote all the songs myself and they’re quite meaningful, I’d have to say, for me anyway, you know everybody gets what they get out of songs themselves. But I think the songs talk about things that are relevant and I look forward to people’s reactions to it. The sound is very different … there’s no real Badfinger power chords or anything like that. No real jamming guitars … I do play some slide on it. I had four girls come in to sing ‘oohs and aahs’ and harmonies which was nice, and I played with a lot of three piece rhythm section down in Memphis. So it’s a really simple sounding record and I’m just hoping that people will like it.”
Originally from Liverpool, Molland now lives in America, where he continues to write and perform some beautiful music. Let’s hope, with arrival of this fantastic record that is star is finally in the ascendant.
If so, then there really is some justice in the universe.
And then, the other day I bit the bullet and rang Joey up. Listen to our conversation here.
Public Relations or Propaganda? The Media Campaign Against Iran

"He who dictates and formulates the words and phrases we use, he who is master of the press and radio, is master of the mind. Repeat mechanically your assumptions and suggestions, diminish the opportunity for communicating dissent and opposition. This is the formula for political conditioning of the masses." -Joost Meerloo The Rape of the Mind


Everyone has opinions.

According to the definition in my on-line dictionary, an opinion is:

  1. a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.
  2. a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.

The dictionary also very helpfully provides a quote, from Friedrich Nietzsche: "One sticks to an opinion because he prides himself on having come to it on his own, and another because he has taken great pains to learn it and is proud to have grasped it: and so both do so out of vanity."

That’s a good quote and worth keeping in mind.

The word is from the Latin opinan, to think.

Thus an opinion is a thought, but not one based on fact.

It is one of my observations that people will give their opinions freely without necessarily knowing the source. They think the source is in their own head. It istheir opinion, after all. They own it, like a piece of property. But then, when you question them about it, you discover that they cannot tell you how they arrived at their opinion. They cannot tell you where it comes from. They cannot even tell you the facts behind their opinion. Very often what facts they can cite are wrong, or questionable in some way.

What’s more, you soon learn that almost everyone you speak to on any one topic has exactly the same opinion. The same thought exists in everyone’s head. So everyone has an opinion, everyone thinks it’s their opinion, and yet they share the opinion with everyone else. This is what is referred to as Public OpinionIt’s like a virus: the mind-flu. Only it’s not an airborne virus which you catch when someone sneezes, it’s a thought-borne virus which you catch by listening to other people’s opinions.

Edward Louis Bernays pioneer of the modern Public Relations Industry
Edward Louis Bernays pioneer of the modern Public Relations Industry

Public Relations

The problem with opinions is that, once having arrived at them, we then think we know all there is to know about a situation, and that no further thought is required. We are all guilty of this, on the left as well as on the right.

People in the Public Relations Industry refer to themselves as “opinion makers”. They work through people they call opinion leaders.Opinion leaders are people who are able to influence other people in their thinking. In other words, their job is to implant opinions into other people’s heads.

The pioneer of the modern Public Relations Industry, Edward Bernays, said: "If we understand the mechanisms and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it... In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons ... who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind."

In fact even the term “Public Relations” is a public relations exercise. What Bernays meant was propaganda, but he recognised that that word had negative connotations, so invented the term “public relations” to cover it.

An early success for Bernays’ newly conceived industry was a campaign to persuade women to smoke. This was in the early 1920s. There was already a great social movement towards women’s emancipation, but Bernays managed to link this to the idea of women smoking. Smoking in public was interpreted as an act of personal and political emancipation.

You can see from this example that the industry is both opportunistic and clever. The movement toward women’s emancipation already existed. Bernays’ great achievement was to link this to a specific product. It was to take a thought that already existed and to turn it to particular ends. So cigarettes became a symbol of individual emancipation. Women adopted the symbol en masse without realising that they were being manipulated.

Read on...


"Stone writes with intelligence, wit and sensitivity."
Times Literary Supplement

"Wry, acute, and sometimes hellishly entertaining essays in squalor and rebellion."

"The best guide to the Underground since Charon ferried dead souls across the Styx."
Independent on Sunday


Housing Benefit Hill:

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd (7 Nov 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781310777
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781310779
This really is an extraordinary book, but then again Alan Moore is an extraordinary man who has lived a life that - on several levels - is completely far out, but on other levels is surprisingly parochial, never having lived outside Northampton.

It is this dichotomy which really makes the enigma of Alan Moore. He hates all the films (successful or not) that have been made of his books (even Watchmen which I thought was a near masterpiece. He has a long history of falling out with his publishers, and even with long term collaborators and friends. And he is a self proclaimed magician who worships an Ancient Roman sockpuppet. (And here I would like to stress that I am using the word 'sockpuppet' in its traditional sense rather than in its more colloquial, post internet meaning).

The opening lines of John Lennon's Julia on 'The White Album' by The Beatles proclaims that "half of what I say is meaningless". Half of what Alan Moore does is ludicrous, or seemingly so, but this does not stop him being one of the more important contemporary British authors, and furthermore, an author who has had more commercial success than most of his peers.

His output has ranged from dark comedy (The Bo-Jeffries saga) to science fiction (Halo Jones) to horror tinged with a dystopian political satire (V for Vendetta) to a Götterdämmerung of superheroes (Watchmen) to occult theorising (Promethea) to pornography (The Lost Girls), and that is just the fiction. It is far beyond the scope of a brief book review like this to even start trying to describe his magickal workings, although a brief critique of his theories about Ideaspace have been included in previous issues of this magazine.

Some of his work is - to my eyes - more successful than others: I love Watchmen, From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen for example, was intrigued by V for Vendetta and Promethea, but found The Lost Girls disappointing and anti-climatic (no pun intended).

Does this massively entertaining, well researched and enjoyable book tell you a lot that you wouldn't otherwise know about the life (so far) of Alan Moore? Yes, of course it does. Does it do anything to provide a full explanation of what makes this ridiculously complex man do what he does?

What do you think?
(The Masters of the Universe do seem to have a steady stream of interesting stories featuring them, their various friends and relations, and alumni). Each week Graham Inglis keeps us up to date with the latest news from the Hawkverse..
Preparations for Hawkwind's "indoor festival" at Seaton next year, known as Hawkeaster, are continuing, and, with hotels and guesthouses already fully booked, the accommodation squeeze looms again.

An intriguing option is bookable through an outfit called Eve's Tipis, though... a campsite where one can "holiday in a tipi" and some basic embellishments can be hired also - various sorts of rugs, floor cushions, a small table and LED light or lantern.

Of course, tipis are structurally prone to a bit of leaking at the top, where all the slanting poles are tied together and poke out of the cladding, and the providers are careful to point out that they can't guarantee a dry or weather-proof experience! A somewhat alarming thought, given the British weather.

And, with an eye to those who've never set foot in such a structure before, they advise that their tipis lack cellphone charging facilities.

A weekend without Facebook? Back to Nature with a vengeance!

Just in time for Christmas, Black Sabbath take their most recent tour to the NIA Birmingham on 22 December.  I caught the band in stellar form just this last August in California and filed this report: 

When I was discovering classic and progressive rock music back in the 70′s, Black Sabbath was on the outs in my circle of friends. Their lyrics, presence and brand all shouted ‘satanism’ and ‘occult.’ The fantasy elements of Yes, Genesis, Camel and their ilk seemed more welcoming to our young minds. So, I never collected Sabbath recordings and did not attend any of their shows, nor did I know anyone who did. As their influence spread and drove the heavy metal movement over time I also stayed away, even though I became enamored of the goth movement in the ’80′s, and even later, knowing that Ozzy Ozbourne actually had become quite an entertaining front man and TV personality and that Dio had become one of the best metal vocalists ever, not to mention the fact that Toni Iommi kept showing at the top of guitar players popularity polls.

All of that changed for me earlier this year when I read of Toni’s illness, recovery, and the rebirth of his classic guitar techniques on the new recording ‘13‘ – hailed as a metal masterpiece and return to form from these survivors. I downloaded the tracks and instantly loved the album.  This led me to look into their past work to discover what I had missed. In fact, while several of their most popular tracks present the occult, more of them are about other topics well suited to aggressive rock – the folly of war, drug addition and other social ills.  Heck they even sang about fairies with boots!  Often there were long instrumental breaks with a clear blues-rock vein, at times reminiscent of early blues based Jethro Tull, with a sometimes ‘progressive’ approach to songwriting, as many of their best tracks switch keys and rhythm as they unfold.

Read on...

The Court Circular tells interested readers about the comings and goings of members of The Royal Family. However, readers of this periodical seem interested in the comings and goings of Yes and of various alumni of this magnificent and long-standing band. Give the people what they want, I say
Golly. Two weeks in a row where there are lots of stories from the Yes camp and from the camps of the various alumni who have played in the band over the years (nearly as many as the ex-members of Spinal Tap). We start off with an article about how Chris Squire would like Rush members to induct them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Sadly, they don't appear to be on the list for this year despite their recent campaign. I personally wouldn't be too sad, guys. Rock and Roll is supposed to challenge the establishment, not become part of it. Remember what the Sex Pistols wrote when they were invited.
Next is a look at the latest heritage version of Close to the Edge followed by a feature on their 1987 track Shoot High, Aim Low  and a rather intriguing cover version. Then we have an article praising the band's "bombast" and an angry Rick Wakeman on the lack of music education in schools. More Rick Wakeman coming up with a technical hitch causing a venue change on next year's tour and finally Rick Wakeman's guide to buying electric pianos.

I am probably getting a bit OCD about all of this, but I find the Yes soap opera of sound to be absolutely enthralling, and I for one can't wait to see what happens next! 
have been logged in nightly dream poems-
open mikes,Festivals,readings,publications
All of which were tinged with celebration
Now that this year is drained of days
Eye turn back into night and play
with consciousness and images
None of which can be adequately conveyed
unless with friends who already know
how our little lives are luminous glows
like those fish who stay within the deep
to dream new visions,and sometimes sleep...
In Victorian times every well-bred Gentleman had a 'Cabinet of Curiosities'; a collection of peculiar odds and sods, usually housed in a finely made cabinet with a glass door. These could include anything from Natural History specimens to historical artefacts. There has always been something of the Victorian amateur naturalist about me, and I have a houseful of arcane objects; some completely worthless, others decidedly not, but all precious to me for the memories they hold.

But people send me lots of pictures of interesting, and, may I say, peculiar things. But once again this week it is over to my lovely wife...
Corinna here, sheepishly admitting that I am back to eBay to look for this week’s item for the cabinet, and today we shall be looking through the square window, where my gaze fell upon this programme that is for sale.  The price is shocking, although to an AC/DC collector it may be as cheap as chips for all I know, but the real reason that I have selected this particular item is because of its cover. 
Okay so this guy is probably supposed to look like a thuggish schoolboy, but paleeese.  Those shorts do not go with those knees; not to mention the socks (unless you are a young lad at primary school, it is not cool to wear socks with shorts in my humble opinion – or, to show off my aptitude for text speak, IMHO). And as for diagonal stripes on the tie, mixed with horizontal stripes on the T-shirt, don’t get me started on that.
Next week we shall look through the rectangular window, and methinks I have a rather good one to share. Why not share it now instead of rabbiting on about a fashion faux pas from the past?  Because ‘im in the tater shed is throwing tater peelings at me and hassling me to get this finished, that’s why.

Just in case you are interested, here is yer beloved Editor at iTunes

Bipolar, Jon Downes Lost Weekend, Jon Downes Hard Sports - EP, Jon Downes The Man from Dystopia, Jon Downes

Check it out now...
There are nine Henrys, purported to be the world’s first cloned cartoon character. They live in a strange lo-fi domestic surrealist world peopled by talking rock buns and elephants on wobbly stilts. They mooch around in their minimalist universe suffering from an existential crisis with some genetically modified humour thrown in. I think Peter McAdam is one of the funniest people around, and I cannot recommend his book The Nine Henrys highly enough. Check it out at Amazon.
Each issue we shall be running a series of Henrybits that are not found in his book about the nine cloned cartoon characters who inhabit a surreal world nearly as insane as mine...

The Weird Weekend is the largest yearly gathering of mystery animal investigators in the English-speaking world. Now in its fifteenth year, the convention attracts speakers and visitors from all over the world and showcases the findings of investigators into strange phenomena.

Cryptozoologists, parapsychologists, ufologists, and folklorists are descending on Woolfardisworthy Community Centre to share their findings and insights. Unlike other events, the Weird Weekend will also include workshops giving tips to budding paranormal investigators, and even a programme of special events for children. The Weird Weekend is the only fortean conference in the world that is truly a family event, although those veterans of previous events should be reassured that it is still as anarchically silly as ever!

The event is raising money for the Centre for Fortean Zoology, the world’s only full time, professional cryptozoological organisation. The profit from food and beverages goes to a selection of village charities, mostly working with children.

the running order (so far) for the 2014 event
Wow--thanks so much for all the support in the latest edition!
We're blown away and truly appreciative! We spent yesterday doing the main shooting of a video for THE FLYING DUTCHMAN, and had a blast! After pick-up shots this week, we'll get it all put together, and I'll let you know where you can see it.
Thanks so much again, and Happy Holidays to you and yours (especially Archie!),
Thank you for that, David. And so in honour of the occasion here -especially for you - is a genuine signed photograph of Archie himself...
Kev Rowland
DEVIN TOWNSEND       The Retinal Circus             (INSIDE OUT)
Over the years I have been lucky enough to hear most of what this mad Canadian has released, and what I have learned to expect is actually not to expect anything but just go along for the ride. His mind obviously works on a totally different plane to the rest of us, and the only person I have ever compared him to is Phil Spector, as here is yet another genius who creates a wall of sound all of his own making. So when I heard that there was going to be a double CD (plus associated blue-ray and DVD versions) released of his ‘musical’ I knew that I was going to be in for a treat. The word ‘musical’ is in inverted commas, as there is no real storyline and to be honest it is just a whole load of songs put 
together from different periods (including the mighty Strapping Young Lad) that gave him excuse to put together a stage show quite different from anything he had undertaken previously. 

Devin actually admits as much during the performance, but he takes it all to a new level with the use of loads of guests outside of the core band, but not all of these are musical. And it is this that is so frustrating with this album for me, and the clue is right there in the title of this. ‘Retinal’ is an adjective pertaining to the word ‘retina’, which is a delicate, multilayered, light-sensitive membrane lining the inner eyeball and connected by the optic nerve to the brain. All the time I am playing this I keep feeling that I am missing out on something visually, so I went onto YouTube and checked out the official video for “Grace”. Some time later I managed to get my jaw back into place from where it had dislocated while I sat there open mouthed not quite believing what I was seeing. As well as a top metal band, he has brought Anneke van Giersbergen back, and although I can hear that on the CD, I wasn’t able to see the video of Steve Vai providing the verbal introduction, the double jointed acrobats on stage, the gospel choir, the guys with angle grinders shooting sparks over the stage and so very much more.
I went back to the CD feeling a little disappointed, but to be honest I soon got over it as I put “Planet Smasher” on at speaker damaging volumes (I’ve always been a sucker for Ziltoid). Once I had accepted that there was more to it than I could hear I instead concentrated on just the music instead of what I might be missing, and what we have here is an aural feast. Anneke has a wonderful voice, and relishes playing the part of being the light against all of the shade. This music is really heavy, very bottom end, and she plays a huge part in making it sound complete.
What we have here are 25 songs, more than 2 hours in length, and a show that must have created huge waves when it was performed last year. This is a masterpiece, and I am sure that the full blu-ray (which I have yet to buy, but is now definitely on my list) is stunning. Somehow, even though I feel that part of it is missing, I can’t bring myself to score this any less than 5 *’s, as it truly is one of the most remarkable live albums I have ever come across.
EYES SET TO KILL          Masks           (CENTURY MEDIA)
This is the fifth album from these guys, but somehow it is the first time I have come across them. I have seen their music described as metalcore, post-hardcore and emo amongst others, but there are times when they have an almost symphonic feel to what they are doing as well, even with just a small amount of keys. This quartet comprises Alexia Rodriguez (vocals, guitar & keyboards), her sister Anissa Rodriguez (bass), Cisko Miranda (screams, live guitar) and Caleb Clifton - drums & samples. What sets this album apart from the rest, is not that there are sisters in a metal band (which is somewhat unusual it has to be said, I can’t think of it happening very often – and the Wilson girls don’t count) 
but what we have here is a group that is somehow mixing melodic metal with extreme stylings and creating something that is quite different.

These guys rock, I mean they really rock, but Alexia sings like an angel over the top of them with plenty of power and passion and when Cisko comes to the party they turn into a different animal altogether. Here is a band that sound totally genuine whatever they are doing, and they manage to bring a groove and catchiness to the music that is going to definitely be picked up by fans of bands as diverse as Lacuna Coil and Sepultura. They have taken the female/male vocal interplay to a whole new level and have delivered an album that is polished, immediate, with hidden depths and real sense of sincerity. If like me you haven’t come across these guys before then now is the time to discover them.  
GRAVE                   Morbid Ascent (EP)           (CENTURY MEDIA)
Grave have over the years become one of the most consistent brutal death metal bands around, and this new EP shows no signs of them slowing down yet. It includes just two brand new tracks, but we also get a cover version of Satyricon’s “Possessed”, a remix version of “Epos” as well as the newly recorded version of “Reality Of Life”, a classic Grave demo track from 1989’s “Sexual Mutilation” demo. “Venial Sin”, the opening track, also features some guest solos by Autopsy’s Eric Cutler. It is punchy, it is surprisingly long for a 5 track death metal EP (just over 26 minutes), and in many ways is the perfect appendix to last year’s ‘The Endless Procession of Souls’. If you see the name Grave on the outside, then you know that there is going to be some mighty powerful music on the inside. 
MOON SAFARI             Himlabacken Vol. 1            (BLOMLJUD)
The very first time I came across Moon Safari I just couldn’t believe my ears, as I felt that I had stumbled across the musical vocal harmonies of The Carpenters put into a progressive arrangement and it was a whole new ball game. Since then the Swedes have been incredibly consistent, producing one well crafted album after another, so when this arrived in the post it jumped to the top of the queue and was put straight into the player. While there are still some strong elements of Richard and Karen in their vocal arrangements, the guys have also moved into areas more commonly 
associated with Gentle Giant, as well as Spock’s Beard. In fact the last of these has had an influence on some of the music as well, along with The Beatles, City Boy, and a whole host of 70’s soft rock and progressive bands. There is a clarity of thought and approach that is sadly missing from some progressive music, and while it can be incredibly complex they also understand that at times simple is just as good.

The moog has its’ part to play, and there are some wonderful interplays between that and the guitars, but Moon Safari have their vocals to the fore and the instrumentation playing the supporting role, which is not always the case in this type of music. All six musicians are singers, with Petter and Simon sharing lead duties between them. The arrangements are incredibly well-layered with a separation and use of space and quiet that really adds to the whole. Just play “Red White Blues” and I can guarantee that you will find it hard to believe that this isn’t some long-lost song from nearly forty years ago, as opposed to brand new release. Also, the choice of country origin will be between America and the UK, with the latter likely to just edge it out, not Sweden.
This is a superb album, as Moon Safari continue to meet their own exceptional high standards. This is a concept album, and is only part one of the idea; so I can only hope that the second part will follow soon as I am getting impatient already.

COMING SOON: All About Eve "Ultraviolet"

All About Eve were a British rock/pop band who somehow fused the genres of Goth and folk-rock. The creative core consisted of the Coventry born Julianne Regan (vocals), and the Huddersfield born Andy Cousin (bass guitar), with other members changing over the years. Their biggest commercial success was "Martha's Harbour" (1988), although the band's tenure ran between 1984 and 2004, and included four UK Top 50 albums.
Julianne Regan, a former journalist, played bass in an early line-up of the gothic rock group Gene Loves Jezebel. before leaving to join All About Eve, previously known as the Swarm. The initial core of All About Eve was Regan, guitarist Tim Bricheno, and bassist Andy Cousin. As a three-piece (plus a drum machine), they released a series of independent singles in the mid-1980s including "D for Desire", "In the Clouds" and "Flowers In Our Hair". After Regan sang backing vocals for The Mission's "God's Own Medicine" album, the band received greater attention and were signed to Phonogram. Drummer Mark Price was added around this time.
"Ultraviolet" is the fourth studio album by All About Eve. Despite positive reviews at the time this album was in the wrong place at the wrong time and sadly slipped through the commercial net despite containing one of their most iconic songs - "Outshine the Sun" which is frequently used at the band's gigs for a finale.

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It has been another nice, but hectic week here in the potato shed where my deputy editor and I plot world domination whilst surrounded by various tanks of fish, teetering piles of books, guitars and CDs and a small Indian frog called 'Chubby Checker'.
Mother, Graham and I went Christmas shopping in Barnstaple yesterday and pretty well did everything that we set out to do. I am now sitting in the office typing away merrily, listening to Lou Reed and John Cale's 'Songs for Drella' slightly too loud, realising happily that I don't have to leave the village for the rest of the year.

Apart from that my Yuletide festivities will mainly involve playing with the dogs and reading Cold War era thrillers by the fire. A modicum of port may also be consumed. Yesterday in Lidl I found two sorts of cheese I had never heard of before, and buying those made me a happy fellow. As I get older my needs become far more simple.

An old friend of mine contacted me via Facebook the other day. I had hardly seen him in about thirty years, but he only lives a few miles away, and is still getting over the death of his wife a few years back. So he will be turning up here sometime over Christmas with a guitar in his hand. Mike Davis will also be here for several days recording, and we also have a visit from another recently divorced female friend of mine and Corinna's on Boxing Day.

That is what I think this time of year should be about, and so rarely is. It is not about how much money you can spend or how you can impress someone with the latest gadget. It is about human contact, about reaching out to make connections with your fellow human beings especially those who are lonely or in need at this - often terrifying and forbidding - time of year.

God bless you all, and see you next week for our New Year's edition.

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