It’s London Calling…

No, it’s not another Eurovision mention. As I hinted at yesterday, I’m off on a mini-adventure tomorrow. Bet you can’t guess where from the title….

Yep, I have a job interview back in London and am going to be there for about 36 hours. Actually, I’m really looking forward to it – after the fun of being interrogated by a panel I’ll have a whole afternoon to go and say hello to the city. I’ll head for a fry-up at Valtaro’s next to Cartwright Gardens, then probably see if there are any good deals going at Fopp before heading to one of the many fine pubs in the Euston area – watch out The Bree Louise!

I have an early Eurostar on Thursday morning and as I’m moving back home for good at the end of June I probably won’t have too many ales, although the very thought of one is filling me with foamy excitement…

I’ll be taking my iPod of course and will no doubt put on this as I plod round Bloomsbury… it’s the quite brilliant “Streets of London” by folk musician Ralph McTell.

One of my personal favourites that. Fancy hearing a punk version of it though? Thought so. Here’s the Anti-Nowhere League’s 1981 version, released as a single…

Very nice too. Now where’s me Oyster card?

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Europe and Beyond

So yesterday rather than talking about our trip around Europe (and the very north of Africa) I babbled on about the musical tour of Europe that was Eurovision. I’ll correct my error now, but promise to keep it brief.

If you’ve never been to Barcelona, go. It really is a fantastic place – it’s beautiful yes but it’s a real city; it lives and breathes. There’s a big independence movement going on in Catalonia at the moment and you can feel a buzz around. I can see myself living there one day… douze points!

Then we went by night bus to Madrid. The weather wasn’t so good and it was OK, but didn’t really grab me – it was just a big city centred on shopping and royalty. Yawn.

Unlike Lisbon. Another cracking place. It’s got this wonderful sort of faded chic to it, and like Barcelona it is just beautiful. Really friendly people as well. But perhaps the best thing there is the incredible trams that rattle around the city, along with the funicular railways. Have a look at this…

Lisbon tram

I might have to spend an extended period there too one day…

Then we hopped over the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco, and got a 6-hour bus to Fes. It was an incredible place, beautiful, ancient and just bustling. There are people everywhere, so many colours and smells, and very hot… it’s hard to take it all in. It wasn’t always an easy place to be either: the constant hassling of people offering you things or trying to take you to different places could be draining, and we were both uncomfortable about some of the attitudes shown to women. But I’m really glad we went and I’d definitely go again.

Anyway, that’s more than enough talking about Europe and our travels. Let’s have some music. For no reason at all other than it popping on my iPod today and me very much enjoying it, here’s seminal Jamaican keyboardist and founding member of The Skatalites, Jackie Mittoo, with “P. Cafe”…

My travels aren’t quite done yet though. Check in tomorrow for news on where I’m going on Tuesday……..

What Are Your Shoes Called?

Erm… trainers? Onitsuka Tigers if you must know.

So what, I hear you cry? Well, we’ve just returned from a very pleasant evening of pizza and wine, which was accompanied by… what else… Eurovision.

Ahh, so I’ve gone a bit mad then? Possibly.

Actually, the show wasn’t as bad as it sounds, mainly because I was a huge fan of the Lithuanian entry which boasted the unparalleled lines explaining the trials of love:

It’s because of my shoes

I’m wearing today

One is called love

The other is Spain

Or at least that’s what it sounded like. Please watch it. It’s superb…

In honour of tonight’s Europopfest, there’s only one song I can pick tonight. And that’s Bis’ “Eurodisco”.

If only they’d been representing the U.K. rather than Bonnie Tyler, eh?

Wonder what she calls her ones and twos…

We’re Back…

After travelling for about 48 hours, we finally got back to Montpellier this morning. Needless to say I’m exhausted, and infuriatingly our boiler wasn’t working till this evening so we haven’t even been able to enjoy a warm shower. Not ideal after 34 hours on a boat…

It was an amazing, thought-provoking trip though. Will tell a bit more tomorrow after a proper kip…

A quick song before bed: whilst at sea I kept having images of, well, the sea. And that made me think of the album cover of Nowhere, the debut album by shoegazers Ride. So here’s “Vapour Trail” from that very album…

Nighty night.

It’s Oh So…

Quiet…

Apologies for the lack of posts recently. Me and Kate have started off on our trip to Spain, so greetings from a sunny and very lovely Barcelona.

Actually, we’re doing a bit more that that. We’ve decided to extend it out, so tonight we off on a night bus to Madrid. Then, in a couple of days, another night bus to Lisbon. After that, we’ll be heading over to Morocco to spend three nights in Fes. Finally, we’ll be heading home by ferry – 34 hours over two nights sat in a pullman seat. Should be an… experience.

Anyway. I’m not sure how many posts I’ll be able to slip in while I’m away, so for the next couple of weeks just “Enjoy the Silence”. Which gives me a massive excuse to play some Depeche Mode

Buenos dias!

The Unremitting Mark E. Smith

The other day Gid Coe played the excellent “Sir William Wray,” the new single by The Fall, which was released as part of Record Store Day. It features on their new studio album Re-Mit – their 30th – which is being released on May 13th. I’ll be getting my mitts on a copy as soon as I’m back.

Thankfully though, I’ve already heard three of the tracks – courtesy of Mr. Scott: Music – and I think they’re sounding in fine fettle. The somewhat disappointing Ersatz G.B. is now a distant memory…

So today, it makes sense to play a couple of Mark E. Smith related tracks. Kate will be pleased…

The first features the man himself. Here’s “The Rhinohead” by Von Südenfed, the collaborative project between himself and German electronica outfit Mouse on Mars. And it’s really rather good.

The second only namechecks Mr. Smith, but it’s an absolute belter. It’s The Jazz Butcher’s crisp and jangly “Southern Mark Smith (Big Return)”…

I promise I won’t pick anything else by him for a while though now, Kate. Ahem……….

The Barking Star

Heard a fantastic interview with Billy Bragg on 6 Musico ver the weekend, whose new album Tooth & Nail has been out a month or so now. By all accounts it’s an excellent, deeply personal effort following the death of his mum in 2011. I am looking forward to getting my mitts on it and giving it the proper listen it deserves…

I’ve already played a Bragg number, and as the new album – as ever – has tinges of Woody Guthrie present, I thought I’d play the angelic “California Stars,” a Guthrie song that he wrote the music to and recorded alongside Wilco on the sumptuous album Mermaid Avenue

Please give the interview a listen. He’s so good at holding an audience: he’s clever, funny and dark at the same time. More than that, he thinks – and he understands people. I’m a huge fan, and despite my huge fear of mushrooms I would gladly share a biryani of that ilk with Barking’s finest… as long as there was plenty of naan, mind……..